Friday, September 12, 2014

Fresh Off the Needles: Knitted Monogram Pillows

Before I was married, I didn't like monograms because they reminded me of my "Rhymes with Hooters" last name. But after I got married, I developed a bit of an obsession with monograms.  As soon as I changed my name, I wanted to personalize everything. Everything. Which is why I decided to knit "J" and "K" pillows for our bed.

The pattern comes from Erika Knight's book Simple Knits for Cherished Babies, and it's written perfectly. There is nothing confusing, weird, or wonky about the written pattern or the finished product. Since it's worked flat, it only requires knit and purl stitches, and it has a very simple chart for the letter, it's perfect for a beginner just learning to read charts.

There was just one problem: I misunderstood the yarn recommendation. It said to use "Rowan All-Seasons Cotton, or any chunky yarn." My local shop doesn't carry Rowan, so I used Patons Classic Wool Roving. It's rated as bulky, and I figured chunky = bulky. Derp, I was wrong! Rowan All-Seasons Cotton is a 10 ply yarn, and I used a big, fat 12 ply. It's a LOT thicker than what the pattern requires. So thick, in fact, that it was a difficult knit. But it created a super-thick, squishy fabric that feels very luxurious, so it was worth it in the end. 

Anyway, I made the "K" pillow cover early in the spring, and I loved the way it turned out. But the pattern put me to sleep. So  many rows of stocking stitch... *yawn*. I couldn't muster any enthusiasm for the second pillow. I cast on for it, worked a few rows, and then let it sit on my needles for months. I finally picked it up again last week, cranked it out over episodes of Dr. Who, blocked it over the weekend, and sewed a Velcro closure on this week. And I love the way it turned out. Sometimes the simplest, most boring knits turn into the best finished products.

What are you making? If you're knitting, find me on Ravelry!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Knob n00b: I installed doorknobs, and other dull projects that don't warrant a detailed post.

Hello! If you're wondering, I haven't lost my typing fingers to a circular saw, electrocuted myself with a bad wiring project, or lost interest in working on the house. Instead, Keith and I been busy with unsexy projects that aren't much fun to write about.
  • We're replacing rotted exterior doorframes and thresholds. It's kind of gross. 
  • We're insulating the house based on suggestions we received when we had NES do an energy audit. Did you know the power company offers this? Until Keith scheduled it, I had no idea. But it's a smart thing to do if you have an interest in greener homes (or like saving money on energy bills). Now we're replacing missing insulation board in the attic. And installing recessed light insulation covers. It's not exciting, and it's not pretty, but I'm glad we're doing it. 
  • As part of out ongoing war against cheap 1980s brass-plated hardware, we're installing new satin nickel doorknobs throughout the whole house. The lock mechanisms on some of the old knobs were jammed, and I couldn't unlock two of the back doors when I wanted to go outside. Not cool. Since the old doorknobs were big honkin' levers that pushed the blinds on the French doors askew, we replaced them with small, sleek knobs. We used Kwikset knobs, and if you're replacing a knob on an existing door that requires a key, make sure to buy their SmartKey knobs. It's much, much faster and easier to replace an existing keyed lock with a SmartKey knob. And no, this isn't a sponsored post--just advice based on my own experience.
I keep staring at this door and grinning like an idiot. I love the simple, clean combination:
Black door and trim + Brushed nickel knob + Fancy switchplate = Happy Jen.
Aren't you glad I didn't write a long, dull post about insulation and doorknobs? Me, too! I do have some pretty things in the works, though, and I'm looking forward to sharing them soon. Our bedroom curtains are almost finished, and I'll be hanging them before the week is over. And I'm actively working on turning the design for the den into reality.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Coastal Modern Family Room Concept

Coastal Modern. Is that a thing?
I say it's time to reclaim coastal style from the shabby chic folks and make Coastal Modern a thing.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The living room, dining room, and bedroom are all in progress. w00t.But it seems strange that I haven't done anything yet to the den. After all, it's the most-used room in our house. My rationale has been that form should follow function, and we should figure out how we actually use the room before coming up with a design concept. But we've lived here for a few months. And it's safe to say we should rename this room, "The Netflix Room." So it's time to begin. And no, we won't be keeping the banana leaf ceiling fan!
Modern Coastal Family Room
This is the look we're aiming for. Keith loves the beach, I love turquoise and teal, and we couldn't stand to get rid of all our Mid-Century furniture. So I put together a modern take on coastal style, without any of the shabby chic influences usually associated with a coastal look.

Aside: I hate shabby chic chipped paint finishes. It seems like every time I touch a chippy piece of furniture, I get a paint-chip splinter. And it always stings like a thousand tiny wasps dipped in acid and shoved under the skin. Does that happen to everyone, or just me?

Anyway. We're off to a good start: We already have the credenza, coffee table, black and white fireplace, and the art. We need a comfy gray sectional, a ceiling fan that doesn't belong on a lanai, window shades, and curtains. I'm still not sold on the rug; is it weird to put a rug over carpet? That seems redundant. Mostly, we need window shades. We just pruned the trees outside, and now I feel like I can't walk around my own house without a bra.

Here's a question for y'all: I'd like to hang our TV over the fireplace, if we can figure out how to do it without any visible cords. Have you done it? Did it make you cuss like crazy, or would it be a relatively easy project for people who aren't afraid of using tools and making holes in walls?