8 Months in 1 Post

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Yikes! Where has the time gone?

The last 8 months flew by. You may be wondering:

Where did Lisa go? What has she been up to? She looks rough! Is she getting enough sleep? Are those grey hairs I see?*

Last you heard from me was in January when Nick and I completed my lovely secretary.

Later that month we joined his parents and brother in Florida for a much needed nice, sunny vacation. While on the trip, I started crocheting a basket to hold all of my knitting/crochet supplies, so they wouldn’t be strewn about my new desk and spent most of February working at it in front of the TV while we binge watched Netflix’s Jessica Jones and Daredevil and caught up on the latest season of The Walking Dead.

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Once that was complete I acquired, Kristina McGowan’s Modern Top-Down Knitting and More Modern Top-Down Knitting, both of which are full of lovely patterns for skirts, dresses and more. I immediately fell in love with one of the dresses, knitted up some swatches using Lion Brand’s Microspun and cast-on with the pretty blue you see below. About a month into it I discovered that the yarn I was using had been discontinued and I couldn’t find it anywhere on the internet. After moping for a a few days, I remembered that I have lots of the same yarn in lavender, black, and lime green.** So I frogged (ripped out for you non-knitters) very carefully and convinced myself it would look good as a two-tone black and blue dress. It has yet to be completed, so we’ll see in a month or two.

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By then it was May and time to put the fiber projects away, turn off the TV and enjoy the great outdoors.

In anticipation of lots of summer road trips, I replaced the radio in my car, which had been broken for ages. I purchased a kit from Crutchfield, watched a YouTube video on how to install a radio and got to work.

Now, not only do I have the radio/CD combo of yore, I also have a fancy USB jack and an aux input for my phone. It’s almost like I got a brand new car!

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May and June were filled with yard clean up, planting and a visit from Nick’s folks!

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July was filled with bbq’s at my folks, a tubing trip, adventures in Cincinnati, OH/Louisville, KY with our dear friend, J and her dogs, and a concert featuring 2 bands I absolutely loved in high school, plus lots of delicious vegan food.

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August featured me pining over beach time during my work breaks, a visit from my parents, pinatas, awesome birthday gifts from friends and loved ones and lots of trips around the neighborhood and/or Lake Park to collect Pokemon!***

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It also was the month I finally decided to replace our couch cushions with thicker cushions and nicer fabric for all the TV watching I’m planning on doing this fall/winter.****20160813_123654-collage

In September I pulled out the crochet hooks and started to work on a rug that matches our couch so the dogs have an extra warm spot to lie down this winter.20160910_132755-collage

I also ran my first 5K in a long time (and beat my time). Our Monkey had surgery to remove some tumors, which was successful! I purchased some bass gear from my brother in the hopes of starting a new band here in Milwaukee. We saw Belly in Chicago, went to the Milwaukee Maker Faire, ran along the lake, started our annual horror movie marathon and started getting our house ready for Halloween, phew!img_20160905_210654-collage

Oh! I also started baking again and canning lots of food I’ve been making from everything we’ve harvested from our yard.img_20160924_185122-collage

And of course through it all we had to throw some dog time in there, too!

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It’s been a helluva year! I’m looking forward to fall/winter when I typically spend less time on the go and more time at home working on projects.

I’ll keep you all updated on rug and dress progress*****. In the meantime enjoy the lovely fall weather, because winter is coming…

Winter is coming

*around, stuff, yes, sometimes, and yes. In fact the very first photo was taken at a Dunkin Donuts after I signed away a paycheck to get my shocks and struts replaced. I think I got a dozen new grey hairs that day while I sat there waiting for about 5 hours with my book and my coffee.

**I went through a phase were I thought I would be knitting lots of little green men. X-Files anyone?

***Go, team Instinct, go!

****Our butts no longer hit a hard surface immediately upon sitting, hooray!

*****All 3 of you ;-)

Upcycling Doors Into Furniture: Step 1 – Planning and Cutting

For those who don’t know, I live with someone who loves to walk through alleys in the hopes of finding treasure. A lot of times what he brings home is trash IMHO, but every once in a while he brings something cool home. Something that sparks an idea.

Like this door!

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Initially we planned on replacing one of the doors in our apartment with this door. However, once we discovered that it was too tall for any of our doorways, we put it on the back porch knowing that someday we’d find a use for it.

Then along came Pinterest with it’s many pictures of re-purposed vintage doors, which sparked the idea of the door couch (our old couch was put out of it’s misery last year after the dogs mangled it). So the hunt for another vintage wooden door began.

These little rascals are why we can’t have anything nice for long.

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Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, they’re adorable cuddle bugs that I can’t stay mad at for long.

Anyway…after about a year of searching my local Craigslist and Freecycle off and on for doors, I finally hit the jackpot! Last weekend I bought three solid wooden doors off a girl for $10 a piece. Nick and I lugged them home and spent last weekend cutting them down into various pieces of furniture (a couch, a bench and an end table)!

Our first step before cutting was to draw plans for our various pieces of furniture. Nick measured our futon to get an idea of what measurements we wanted the couch to be and then together we measured and marked the wood before cutting.

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I’m still learning the basics of power tools and I find the table saw incredibly intimidating. I get anxious just by watching Nick cut things with it. So for now I’m content to assist with feeding the wood through and keeping an eye out for things that might possibly get Nick’s arm chopped off, like falling doors or Spike, our neighbor’s cat:

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Things to remember when using a table saw:

1) Measure and plan BEFORE you cut!

2) Make sure there aren’t any nails or other metal bits anywhere in the wood near where you’ll be cutting or you just might see sparks fly and worry about your limbs as the wood bucks. Bucking wood = uneven cuts = wobbly furniture  = FAIL

3) Clear the area of cats, dogs, large pieces of wood that might potentially fall on you and/or the saw if the wind were to pick up, etc.

4) Wear protective eye gear so you don’t get flying wood debris in your eyes, like I did. Note: I have since bought myself a pair of goggles for future projects.

5) A bandana or mask to keep you from inhaling the saw dust isn’t a bad idea either, ’cause pulling your t-shirt up over your mouth and nose isn’t very effective (trust me – I tried).

6) If you’re cutting a large piece of wood make sure to set up a table nearby to help support the wood, so you get an even cut, like you see below. We simply used Nick’s workbench with a couple of bricks and some scraps of wood we had lying around.

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We purposefully designed our door couch (below) to have no arm rests, so there are less places for the dogs to mangle when they get anxious. Two of the doors I got had a neat scallop to them, which gives them a bit of visual interest, which is why we decided to also make a bench and end table out of them. Unfortunately the two scalloped doors I got don’t match, so the ends of our couch won’t look exactly the same, but I think it will still look cool.

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After we cut each piece of wood we measured it again and/or tested our prototype to make sure everything was cut correctly and fit well together.

Here’s our bench prototype before assembly with an anxious, Ian, looking on:

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And here’s the top of our end table:

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I’m excited to see what our finished products looks like!!

Next up – assembly. I get to use a power drill!!

Getting Stitchy

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These embroidery frames came all the way from Australia this week!  Can’t wait to work on mini-embroidery. I have so many ideas and sketches and am excited about making cute jewelry!

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Now I have another easy and portable project to work on during my commute to and from work. While I waited patiently for the frames to arrive I continued to work on Ian and he now has the semblance of a nose!

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This weekend is going to be spent on zines and the rest of Ian’s nose since we’re supposed to get another 3-10 inches on Saturday and zine fest is now only 2 weeks away.

Keeping the Winter Blues at Bay

February is probably my least favorite month of the year. Even though it’s the shortest month it always seems to drag on forever. It’s cold, gloomy and monotonous and there isn’t a lot to look forward to besides Valentine’s Day. These days all I can think about is starting my veggie seeds indoors, enjoying temperatures above 40 degrees and taking long walks with the dogs.

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Our apartment has been so drafty the past two months that they spend a lot of time cuddling together; rather than playing, so whenever we go outside Harlow pulls like she’s competing in the Iditarod. Then she gets cold and plays “let’s see how many paws I can lift off the ground and still move”, which is both funny and heartbreaking, so our evening and weekend walks together have been very short.

Unfortunately for us it looks like this winter is going to be a long one, so in an effort to break up the monotony of life, I have 1) started playing fetch indoors with the dogs and Nick has started creating treat scavenger hunts for them, and 2) I’ve started knitting a hat.

I like hats, because they’re quick, easy and extremely useful in this weather. I’ve had my current hat for four years now and I’ve worn it every single day this winter, so I figured it’s time for a change.

Here’s my old hat:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made this hat using Lion Brand Homespun in Blue Moon on circular needles. However, I had problems using the circular needles when I made it since they were too long and once I joined my initial stitches it was a pain to knit around ’cause everything would get too tight, so this time around I’ve decided to use double pointed needles, which I have never used before, in the hopes of making the process easier and faster.

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This time around I’m using Lion Brand Homespun in Colonial, which has an indigo hue to it. I’m excited to have a new hat and will hopefully have it done by early next week. As much as I’m enjoying making the portrait of Ian, I just needed a break since it’s an involved project.

Next on my list of side projects: ZINES! Chicago Zine Fest is 29 days away (March 14 & 15 – mark your calendars) – I have so much to do, yikes!

Monkey Face Progress

For those who don’t know, my beloved Ian MacKaynine is also known as “Monkey Face” or just “Monkey” around these parts.

Here’s where hours of watching Dexter and Scrubs have gotten me:

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It’s starting to look less like a strange map and more like his face now that the eye is being defined. Nick keeps teasing that at this rate I won’t be done with this until April. I’m determined to prove him wrong.

Wish me luck! I still have 3 seasons of Dexter, 4 seasons of Scrubs and at least 2 more months of the kind of weather that makes me want to stay indoors 24/7 ahead of me. Plus, rumor has it Polar Vortex Part III is supposed to be heading our way in the near future.

Why do I live in the Midwest again?

Let it Snow

As much as I hate the ice snow eventually melts into, I love the calm, quiet beauty after it’s just snowed and those cold snowy days give me an excuse to stay indoors and work on crafts! Lucky for me we’ve had a snowy December in Chicago.

Life has been a little nutty lately thanks to the upcoming holidays, but I’ve managed to finish a few projects I had in the works and start some new ones that I’m pretty excited about.

Here’s some of what I’ve been working on lately:

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Sitting on my little wooden chair at my sewing machine for hours can get a little uncomfortable, so I bought some teal fabric to match the craft room’s accent wall and made myself the cushion/pillow you see above, so I can either sit on it or use it for back support depending on what I’m working on.

I made the blanket draped over the back of the chair back in early November at one of The Needle Shop’s mitered blanket classes. It’s baby blanket size, but since I wasn’t completely happy with my top stitching on it, I decided to keep it as a lap blanket for myself when I sit in the craft room since it can get pretty chilly in there, rather than having other people see my botched work. It just so happens that the fabrics in the blanket match my accent wall AND pillow and the little elephants just make me smile every time I see them. Next I’m planning on making some placemats to practice my new mitering skills.

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Here’s a shot of the blanket I took, right after completing it in class!

We’ve been dropping into negative temperatures a lot lately, so I recently bought myself these fabrics from The Needle Shop to turn into blouses and shorts for the spring/summer, as a reminder that after this weekend the days will start to get longer and warmth and sunshine are just around the corner.

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Finally, since I love stitching AND photography, I recently decided to purchase WinStitch so I can turn my photos into cross-stitch patterns. First up, I’ll be stitching up this adorable picture of my dog, Ian MacKaynine.

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I’m on the fence as to whether I should turn it into a throw pillow or frame it and hang it up somewhere – it all depends on how much time I end up putting into it and what the finished product looks like.

We’re supposed to get a big snowstorm in Chicago this weekend, so hopefully I can use it as an excuse to stitch to my heart’s content.

Hope everyone has a Happy Solstice!