My Grandma’s vintage knitting patterns

I really hoped to have an office update for you today, but it was not to be. Soooooo many boxes. So much unpacking. So much fabric and wool. I’m making progress, but it’s a little overwhelming to figure out how best to organize it all.

However, one thing that is unpacked and organized is all of my grandmother’s knitting patterns. In my last update, I promised you a peak at some of these, so that’s what I’m giving you today.

This collection is so special to me. My grandmother taught me to knit as a child, but I didn’t really make anything wearable until I was a teenager. She talked me through my first mitts, sweater, lace, cables and gave me the confidence to tackle pretty much anything. Now, I’ve taught a few other people to knit and have even started a knitting group at work.

Inheriting her patterns means a lot to me, and I’m working to take good care of them. Some of the oldest patterns date to the 1930s, I think. On the tattered bottom left corner of this book is “Canada 1936.” I’m choosing to read this as a date.

Vintage knitting patterns from the 1930s

Her patterns span the years, ages and styles. Not all have stood the test of time, but I’m not getting rid of any of them.

Vintage knitting patterns

There’s lots of clothing (she knit for all of her 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grands–we have two more greats and one great-great now), and there are other things as well like afghans or these lace patterns.

Vintage lace knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim patterns are a particular treasure. Grandma knit the sheep and sailboat sweaters for my cousins, and then they were handed down to my sisters, brother and me. My Mom eventually passed them on to my cousin’s kids.

Mary Maxim is a Canadian company started in the 1950s. Their patterned jackets–often featuring Canadian wildlife–are some of their signature designs. Check out that beaver and maple leaf jacket. Doesn’t get more Canada than that.

Mary Maxim knitting patterns

These Mary Maxim mitts are another Grandma signature. In our family, we had the birds when we were growing up, and then when my sister was a teen she convinced my Grandma to knit her a pair of crocodiles.

Mary Maxim crocodile and bird mitts

I’ve knit these a bunch of times in all sizes, even including a tiny thumbless Crocodilly for my nephew #3 when he was very wee–and apparently freaked out by Auntie and her camera.

Knitted crocodile hat and mitts

The other highlight for me is this Beatrix Potter knitting book. I remember when my Grandmother got this as a Christmas gift. In fact, the card from my Aunt is still tucked inside the front cover.

Beatrix Potter knitting patterns

The patterns in this book are all interpretations of Beatrix Potter’s stories and characters. Some are vedy, vedy British and a bit dated. Benjamin Bunny tams anyone?

Benjamin Button knitting outfits

But the graphs and the characters are timeless. I think this Jeremy Fisher with his dangling legs is super cute.

Jeremy Fisher sweater

My sister is about to add another great-grandbaby to the family in a month of so. I’m enjoying going through the patterns and picking out something for my new niece–and giving her a memento of her Great-Grandma.

Office makeover update

Made over china cabinet for office storage

I mentioned on Friday that I’ve been a bit frustrated by how long the office makeover is taking. I had made huge progress over the Christmas break, but then I went back to work and it felt like things came to a screeching halt.

Here are my previous posts about this project:

I’ve only been working on the office on the weekends, so that’s the biggest factor affecting my progress. Between working long hours at the day job, writing on the side, spending time with my husband, oh and eating, bathing and sleeping, something’s gotta give, and it’s been the office.

But, I feel like I finally turned a corner.

Here’s our original to-do list, and where we’re at:

  • Scrape ceiling – Finished over the Christmas break
  • Paint ceiling, trim and walls – Finished over the Christmas break
  • Add new shelf to closet – Two shelves are installed. Next step is to fill them.
  • Redo china cabinet and desk – This was the part of the project that took much longer than I’d hoped, but they’re done. And like the closet they’re ready to be filled.
  • Reupholster slipper chair – I stained the legs of the chair while I was doing the desk and the cabinet. I have the fabric. I need some foam. Then I’ll teach myself upholstery.
  • Reupholster ironing board – Because a primary activity of the office is sewing, I have an ironing board in the room. It needs a new cover to match the new office.
  • Unpack all of my boxes and decorate – Oh I am so excited to do this finally.

Finishing the furniture was a big step.

I decided to break up all the white with some wood, so I stripped the top of the desk and china cabinet and stained them darker. The rest of the desk and cabinet went white.

In the left side of the photo below you can see a glimpse of the tall narrow dresser that I made a few years ago for the weird little niche. I swear I bought matching hardware for desk drawers at the same time that I made the dresser. It’s been nearly three years, though, and I’m not sure where I put it.

Office makeover in progress

We’re approaching the “put-it-back-together” stage.

I’m looking forward to sorting my yarn, fabric, other crafting supplies and tchotchkes. I’ve already moved some of my magazines and knitting patterns into the china cabinet. There are some amazing vintage patterns from my grandmother. This may be a farm living, home makeover blog, but I’m going to write another post to show you some of them.

Magazine and knitting pattern storage

Often, I see bloggers moving so fast on makeover projects and doing multiple major renos in a single year. That’s not how I do things (obviously).

I’ve been thinking about this project for a long time, though, and it’s starting to look like the picture in my mind. I feel like this is going to come together–I’m not entirely sure how yet, but I think we’re going to get there.

Do you have a first project of the year? How’s it going for you so far? How do you balance projects with all of the other things happening in  your life? Any tips for organizing fabric or yarn? I admit I’m not entirely sure where to start with some of the things that have to come back into this room.

Office oddities

My office,which we’re making over, is an odd little room. It is by far the smallest of our bedrooms. It has a weird floorplan. And it’s also apparently haunted. Yup. You read that right.

Here is a floorplan that is mostly to scale. Note the off-centre window and light. The weird little niche just inside the door. The pocket door that leads into our bedroom (which comes in handy as the switch for the second light is in our bedroom).

Office floorplan

When we scraped the ceiling, we uncovered evidence of earlier walls, and Matt came up with the best explanation I’ve heard so far to explain the odd layout.

It appears that at one time the room was divided roughly in two. Matt’s theory is that half the room served as a large pantry for the kitchen, and the other half was a big walk-in closet off the bedroom. (You can kind of see the lines on the ceiling around the dangling light bulb).

Evidence of old walls on the ceiling

The closet theory explains why there are three full-length mirrors in this one little room–even the pocket door is mirrored. As dated as the mirrors are, they come in handy when I’m sewing and want to see how things fit, so they will be staying.

My office before

I’m doing my best to make the layout work for me. You may remember that our long term plan is for this room to become the foyer when we relocate the front door to the house. So I don’t want to do any major renovations that will be ripped out down the road.

I think I’ve come up with a furniture plan that will work.

Office furniture layout

I figured out how to make use of the tiny niche a few years ago when I set it up as a command centre with a tall narrow dresser, bulletin board and our calendar.

Beside the pocket door, there’s a track light on the ceiling. This makes that wall the best location for my desk.

I bought the china cabinet specifically because it was the exact dimensions to fit on the wide side of the window. The cabinet could also go just inside the door (where our filing cabinet is currently located). However, I feel like a tall piece of furniture might crowd the entryway too much.

I’m hoping that all of the changes will exorcise the ghost in the office.

When we were scraping the ceiling, the room got a little humid. The words “Raven Room” appeared in the steam on the window.

Raven room

So very, very odd.

Do you have an odd room at your house? How about a haunted room? How would you lay out the furniture in this room?

Makeover plans for my office

Our first project of the year is well underway, so it’s past time for me to catch you up. As I mentioned in my Home Goals 2017 last week, we are redoing the last of our three bedrooms, the room that is going to be my office.

My office before

This room has been my office since we moved here, but it’s never been set up as a functional office. It had a filing cabinet to hold our paperwork and a desk (left by the previous owners), which held my sewing machine. That was pretty much it.

Along the way, we added furniture that we weren’t using elsewhere, which gave me a place to store magazines and patterns. But most of my fabric, office supplies and knickknacks were still in the cardboard boxes that I’d packed when we moved from our first house–almost five years ago.

Having a pretty, well-organized, high-functioning room where I can craft, sew, write and work is important to me, and we’re finally going to make it happen.

Here is some of my inspiration.

And here’s our to-do list and an update on where we’re at so far.

  • Scrape ceiling – It has become a tradition that over the Christmas holidays we scrape a ceiling. This year was no different.
  • Paint ceiling, trim and walls – With the ceiling scraped, everything could be painted. The trim, ceiling and closet look so fresh with a coat of white and the walls are a fun dark turquoise.
  • Add new shelf to closet – I bought the shelf on Friday. I just need to trim it to fit.
  • Redo china cabinet and desk – I’ve stripped and restained the tops of the desk and the cabinet and primed the bases. I’m hoping to continue painting this week.
  • Reupholster slipper chair – The legs of the chair got a beautiful dark stain while I was doing the desk and the cabinet. I have the fabric. I need some foam. Then I’ll teach myself upholstery.
  • Reupholster ironing board – Because a primary activity of the office is sewing, I have an ironing board in the room. It needs a new cover to match the new office.
  • Unpack all of my boxes and decorate – Oh I am so excited to do this finally.

I don’t have any pretty photos yet. Here are some progress shots.

First up, the guest room, which is holding all of the things that used to be in my office. Oy vey. My poor pretty guest room. I hope no one wants to come visit for a little while.

Clutter in the guest room

Matt doing the messy work of scraping the ceiling.

Matt scraping the stippled ceiling

Where we’re at as of yesterday afternoon. Beautiful smooth ceiling, bright trim, oh so purty turquoise walls… and a makeshift paint shop.

Progress in the office

I do not like refinishing furniture indoors, but it’s a necessity in January in Canada. My freshly painted walls were so dusty, and I don’t have enough space to lay out all of the pieces that need painted. Argh. This stage is going to take a little while, but I’m feeling good about the progress we’ve made so far.

What do you think about the progress and plans? Do you have an office? What do you use your office for? How do you balance the pretty and the function in a work space?

Home Goals 2017

Alright. It’s officially time to start looking ahead. Time to share my Home Goals 2017.

Unusually, I’ve not been thinking about these for the past few months. Some of them have solidified over the last few weeks–one of them even started just before the end of last year. Some of them came together just as I was writing this post.

I think we’re getting to the stage where more things are done around the house–and the things that are yet to come are biggies. As in so big we’re not ready to tackle them yet (although I really, really, really want a garage).

However, there’s still enough to keep us busy for another year. Here’s what’s on the list.

My office

Turquoise and brass file cabinet from DIY Mommy

Source: DIY Mommy

Ahhh. My office. Finally a room of my own (thank you Virginia Woolf–not an affiliate link). I don’t know as I can convey the monumentalness of this project–except by making up words. Five years ago we moved to the farm. Since that time, moving boxes have been stacked against the wall in my “office.” I want to unpack and truly have a functional office. Finishing off my office will finish off another milestone for the house: the final bedroom.

The transformation is already underway. This is the project that Matt and I started right at the end of December–gotta keep up our holiday tradition of scraping a stippled ceiling.

Clean up the pond shore

Property clean up has been on my list every year. And every year I end up working on whatever spot shows up in front of me. This year I want to be a little more plannful. This year, I am cleaning up the pond shore–how’s that for an emphatic statement.

The pond is my favourite place on our whole 129 acres. And I haven’t been able to easily access the shore the whole time we’ve lived here. I’ve considered enlisting professional help, but I think if I put out a call, I should be able to find a few family members willing to wield chainsaws and weed eaters for a weekend.

Vegetable garden

The vegetable garden was our major project last year, and as a result I feel like we’re in very good shape to start this year’s growing season. However, there are a few things I’d like to add this year, like rhubarb, a second row of berries (maybe raspberries, maybe something else) and maybe some more grapes.

Most important, this year I am going to keep the weeds under control–another emphatic statement. I’m hoping a deep mulch will help me not spend my whole summer weeding.

Flower gardens

Last year our flower gardens were entirely neglected as the vegetable garden consumed all our time. This year I want to give them at least a little bit of attention.

I’ve dumped plants randomly in two beds at the front of the house, and they need a bit of organization. I’d like to add some more shade tolerant flowers to the turnaround.

I’m also planning to remove the flowerbeds at the back of the house (there are only so many hours in a day, and mowing is easier than weeding).

Basement

I’ve said it before. The basement has been hanging around long enough. This is the year we’re going to finish it once and for all–including fun art.

New barn cat

Ralph the barn cat

This one may be more of a farm goal than a home goal.

We have an outstanding barn cat in Ralph. So outstanding that we’d love for her to teach someone the wisdom of her ways. I’m not sure exactly how we’re going to go about finding her an apprentice, but we’re going to figure it out.

So there you have it. Six goals. Two inside, three outside, one alive. Some big, some small, one with a tail. Some easy, some tedious, some furry.

We’ll see how this goes.

Time to get started!

Do you have any goals for this year? What would you like to accomplish at your house? Any tips for introducing a new barn cat? Anyone want to help clear the shore at the pond?

Ready to reno… something… anything…

I’m getting antsy for a project.

I have to admit, I loved the little lull we had after garden season ended and we started spending more time indoors. Summer was busy and I always felt like I was eight steps behind all of the work that I should have been doing outside.

But now, I’m ready to get moving again.

I like to have something to work on, I love how our house looks after I finish, and plus it gives me some good content to share here with all of you. (Confession, I’ve felt like things have been a little dry this fall).

When I was cleaning the bathroom the other week in preparation for our annual Christmas party, I thought to myself, “Can I just rip out this linen closet? Even just the top part?”

Main bathroom before

Uh. Yeah. That sounds like a good plan when you’re having 15 people over for a full Christmas dinner.

I was able to restrain myself and returned to my scrubbing. (Anything to avoid cleaning the bathroom, right?) I’m usually not the type to just dive right into a reno without thinking it through and planning it out. That might mean projects happen more slowly around here, but it works for us.

I think I will likely end up leaving the bathroom alone. I want to tackle the whole thing at once, not just the linen closet.

Instead, I have my eye on my office, or our third bedroom. It’s the last bedroom that needs to be painted, and I think it would make a great project for the Christmas holidays. Then there’s the storage hutch makeover and finally unpacking the last of our boxes… only five years after moving in.

VIew from my office doorway

It’s become a tradition over the last two years that we scrape the stipple off the ceiling of one room over the Christmas break. We can’t break with tradition, right?

… Although I just saw Aniko’s (Place of my Taste) bathroom makeover with her chunky DIY shelves and the linen closet is calling my name again.

What would you do, office or bathroom? Do you ever antsy for a project? Are you a planner or a “let’s-get-this-party-started” kind of person?

Summer to-dos done

Is anyone else mourning the passing of summer like I am? While it seems like summer ends with Labour Day, I’ve been holding on to my favourite season. However, as of yesterday, I can no longer pretend. Fall is officially here.

Three months ago, I posted four projects that I was hoping to accomplish over the summer. You know how I like to hold myself accountable. So let’s see how I did.

Project #1: Build a closet in the basement

Done. This one felt so easy it surprised me. Doing the drywall in the basement the first time around was a massive job. I was not looking forward to doing any drywall at any time ever again. However, this time around I was doing such small areas that it seemed like it took next to no time to put on a coat of paste.

This area has given Matt a tonne of extra storage, and the basement is (almost) tidy and organized. I’m only sharing a progress shot because the closet holds Matt’s stuff and I like to give him his privacy. But trust that it is done.

Drywalling the laundry room

Project #2: Sand scrabble tiles

Done. I can’t wait to share these with all of you. Sanding 16 wood tiles was the definition of not fun DIY. However, the end product is (spoiler alert) awesome.

Weekend craft project underway

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Project #3: Strip paint off the guest room bed

Done. Okay I’m calling this one done, but it’s more like I gave up halfway through. The metal underneath the drippy, chippy spraypaint is not in good shape. So after stripping the headboard and side rails I decided to skip the footboard and just repaint everything. I’ve just been waiting for the weather to cool down enough to be able to paint (not a project for the summer to-do list).

Stripping paint off a vintage metal bedframe

Maybe project #4: Makeover office cabinet

Not done. This was a maybe project from the beginning, so I don’t feel bad about not finishing it. Although I do really, really, really want to put my office together.

Perhaps a project for the fall to-do list…

However, I’m still in denial about it being fall, so I’m not prepared to write a list quite yet.

How are you feeling about the changing seasons? What did you accomplish this summer? Are you thinking about fall to-dos yet?

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Summer to-do list

Summer officially arrives this evening. While I have grand plans of sunshine and hammocks and hikes and gardens and lots of time outdoors, I also have a handful of projects that I’ve been saving up for my favourite season.

Build a closet in the basement

Enamel basins and infant sleepers hanging in the laundry room

Our house has fabulous storage. However, none of it is a match for my husband. I’m not sure Matt’s office ever successfully contained all of his stuff. Over the winter I had a brainwave. Remove some of the cabinets that are tucked between the dryer and the freezer in the laundry room (they’re already filled with his stuff anyway) and replace them with a full height closet. I think I can just about triple his storage space. And it should be a pretty simple build with some basic framing, drywall, bi-fold doors and shelves.

Sand scrabble tiles

Scrabble art for the basement

Source: insideways

One of my Home Goals for 2016 is adding some art to the basement. Going with our fun and games theme, I want to DIY some Scrabble tiles. I’ve had the wood cut for months. Months, I tell you. I just need to sand them and then paint the letters. Sanding sounds like a good way to enjoy some time outside in the sunshine, doesn’t it?

Strip paint off the guest room bed

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The only thing missing from our beautiful guest room makeover is a proper bedframe. I have a great rustic metal frame in the barn, but the finish isn’t the greatest. I’m planning to strip it back to bare metal and see what it looks like. Paint stripping is an outdoor job IMO, so another good way to enjoy the outdoors.

Makeover office cabinet

Vintage china cabinet

Last week, you saw the china cabinet I’ve bought for my office and heard about my plans to rebuild the upper hutch. I’m so excited to have my office organized that I can’t wait to get started on this project. However, I have to put this lower down on the list, as other projects have been hanging around much longer. So this one’s a maybe summer project.

Puttering on some projects, keeping up with the gardens and relaxing on the farm. That’s my recipe for a good summer.

What’s your recipe? Do you have a summer to-do list? What are you looking forward to this season?

China cabinet makeover plans

Last week you saw the china cabinet that I’m going to make over for my office. Today I’m back with my makeover plans–and a couple of spots where I need your input.

This cabinet is a win for a lot of reasons: drawers (surprisingly hard to find), the exact width I need to fit on the wall beside the window, solid wood, decent quality.

Silverware drawer in the vintage china cabinet

It has one big miss though. It’s not quite as tall as I want. The three shelves on the upper hutch are great. But they’re too short to hold even a magazine. So I’m planning to rebuild the top to give a little more breathing room between the shelves. I think I can reuse a lot of the hutch–everything except the side pieces, which isn’t a bad thing because I don’t love the half-moon cutouts anyway.

Vintage china cabinet

I’ll make the old and new wood blend with a coat of white paint, but I have a plan to let a bit of the wood show through. Hopefully I can sand out some of the scratches.

Scratches in the wood top of the china cabinet

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the pulls yet. They’re all wood and completely recessed into the doors and drawers. I can’t remove them without leaving big holes in the cabinet. I’m wondering if some gold paint would work. I have an idea it might look a bit campaign-esque like this dresser from Centsational Girl. What do you think?

Recessed wood pulls

The other area I’m questioning is the legs. Right now, there are two long legs on the bottom. Basically 2x4s screwed to the cabinet. (Please ignore the dust).

China cabinet leg

I feel like I’d like something a little more traditional. Here are some options I picked up from Home Depot. Which do you like best?

Legs for the china cabinet

I’m not sure when I’m going to get to the cabinet makeover, but I’m excited by the possibilities.

What are your ideas for the makeover? Any ideas to deal with the handles? What about the leg options?

Thrifting with the in-laws

A few months ago (yes, I’ve been holding out on you guys), Matt and I went out to dinner with his family. The restaurant just happened to be next to a Value Village, so there was a family thrifting excursion after dinner.

After a little while in the store, Matt and I exchanged a look. His said, “I didn’t find anything. You ready to go?”

Mine said, “Nope. Absolutely not. I found something I’m quite excited about. You have to come over here right now.”

After years of searching I had found the cabinet that I wanted for my office. My office is our last untouched room–in fact it’s still full of boxes that have been in there since moving day. The cabinet is my trigger to paint the walls, unpack the boxes and finish this space in the way I’ve been imagining for years. So I was not leaving the store without this cabinet–no matter that I was surrounded by my in-laws.

In fact, the in-laws were a bonus. My father-in-law was our chauffeur for the night and his truck was just what we needed to transport the cabinet. My sister-in-law stood guard over the cabinet while I went to the cashier to pay. And my mother-in-law found my father-in-law and told him to bring the truck.

Ahhh, family.

Want to see what had me so excited? (In a very poorly lit picture?)

Vintage china cabinet

I have big plans for this cabinet. I think it’s going to be great. I’ll share some of my plans next week.

Do you go shopping as a family? Is there any furniture you’re hunting for?