Holiday Knitting

Tomorrow is the first day of July. The first day of the second half of the year.

Tick tock.

It’s time to start planning and working on handmade holiday gifts already. I’m so great at planning ahead and getting everything made way, way ahead of time!

No. Not really. I’m a last minute gal no matter how early I start.

But.

But.

If I do one here and there, it’s got to help relieve stress six months from now, right?

Let’s do it. Together. Let’s get started. Okay?

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This morning I made this Fair Isle mug cozy. Well, it’s supposed to be a mug cozy, but because I never swatch to check gauge, mine ended up too small. Fits this bottle nicely, though, so that’s cool.

Or something.

Anyway, it was good practice and my first colorwork project ever aside from stripes. Loved it. Will certainly be making more. They’ll make fun gifts for mail carriers, UPS drivers, the hilarious lady that works the register at Walgreens, firewood delivery people, etc.

Now, what else shall I put on my gifts-to-make list? And what’s on yours?

 

P.S. Ignore the glitter glue on the craft table. I used my daughter’s table because there was good light, okay?

Try your hand at hand lettering

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In the last two or three weeks, I’ve been playing around with hand lettering. I mean, it’s all the rage, right? It’s everywhere you look and it’s only gaining popularity along with typography. Most artsy-craftsy fads come and go and by the time they’ve run their course, we’re sick and tired of it (puff-painted sweatshirts, anyone?). Good riddance, right?!

However, I feel like hand lettering is an art that deserves all the time it can get. It’s one that has been around for ages. We’ve all become so used to the convenience and pixel-perfect products that are spit out of printers that we tend to forget what a beautiful, lost art hand lettering is. I’m so glad to see people everywhere taking interest in it. I know I’ve really enjoyed spending time  playing around with it.

 

lips

(Come on, you know you love Napoleon, too.)

 

In fact, out of my ridiculous number of hobbies, it’s without a doubt the most relaxing one I’ve ever had. I can get lost in it and really enjoy it without a lot of prep work. I can sit at the dining table and carry on a conversation with the kids as I work (can’t say that for a lot of hobbies I have), with the added benefit that the kids never fail to grab pencil and paper and start lettering on their own.

 

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(This says “Love for birth”. No idea where she came up with that, so I asked and she just said she thought it was nice.)

alex

 

Here’s my first try:

 

first_try

 

I was so eager to try that I couldn’t wait another 24 hours for the delivery of the supplies I had ordered based on these recommendations. I grabbed a plain ol’ mechanical pencil along with a sheet of paper from the printer and I gave it a go. Not so hot! I was really stressing over it (because I’m neurotic as hell–not really but yeah–and have a tendency to stress over the strangest stuff) and unsteady hands just couldn’t make it  happen.

The next day I yanked the package from the delivery driver’s hands with rabid-animal intensity just knowing I was about to turn out some seriously beautiful and perfect hand lettered brilliance (Mmhmm. Right.)

 

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Nerves. Shaky hands. Why do I get all antsy in the pantsy when I start something new? I mean, SHEESH, it’s pencil and paper. I can erase. I have more paper. BUT. Then there’s pens. OMGWHATIFIMESSUP? Deep breath. It’s only pens, pencil, and paper. Time to relax and have fun. No need to be perfect. If I wanted perfection, I’ve got Photoshop and a laser printer, right?! That’s the whole freaking point of this! Chill, Abbie, chill.

I drew off some guidelines, looked at fonts online and in books, and started to play.

 

En_pencil

 

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free

 

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Once I let go of the idea of achieving perfection (or that I will ever have steady hands), I really got into it. I remind myself that it’s just for fun and no hand lettering police will come beating down my door. So yeah. I LOVE THIS STUFF. I want to do it all day every day, but I wait for that glorious time right after the kids are in bed. That’s my play time.

As I’ve shared pictures of my practice lettering lately, I’ve had people tell me that they’re tempted to give hand lettering a shot. So I said to my self, “Self, why don’t we do a little giveaway and let somebody else venture out into the world of lettering along with us?”

So,whether you’re a total newbie like me or an old pro that would like a few new supplies, this giveaway is for you. My crafty friends, nerdy-techy-typograhy friends, artists…any and all of you anywhere. It’s for you.

The lucky winner will receive the following:

 

prize

 

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what your first hand lettering project will be.

The following are accepted but not required:

For a second entry, share on Facebook and leave a second comment here.

For a third entry, tweet it and leave a comment here linking me to that tweet.

For a fourth entry, pin the image below and leave a comment linking me to the pin.

 

pin_image

***Each entry MUST have a separate comment. If you combine them into a single comment, it will be considered a single entry. Thank you and good night!**

**Contest ends 10-17-13 at midnight CST. Entries made after that time will be disqualified. A winner will be chosen randomly on 10-18-13.**

(This giveaway is not sponsored by anyone. I just felt like sharing some goodies.)

 

Alright! I used random.org to select a winner…

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Kandice! Congrats! I can’t wait to see what you create with your new goodies. Just send me your address and I’ll get them on their way.

Thanks, everyone, for entering. Keep an eye out for future giveaways and go create beautiful things. If you feel like sharing, post them on Facebook. I’d love to see!

Queen Bean Sphynx Sweater

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In the many months since my last blog post, we have gained a new family member. She’s a beautiful Sphynx that we were fortunate enough to adopt from a pet rescue in the Fort Worth area. Many people cringe at the sight of a hairless cat and even say cruel things, but MAN, if you’ve ever been loved by a Sphynx you know how special these kitties are. They’re not quite like other cats. They crave the affection of humans and want to snuggle 24/7. They’re intelligent, loving, curious, and they never really outgrow their kitten-like playfulness.

Because of their hairlessness, they’re cold-natured creatures and need clothes, blankets, heating pads, etc., to keep them comfy and healthy.  However, there’s not a huge market for cat clothes so finding some that don’t look ridiculous and actually keep the cat warm is pretty tough.

What’s a girl to do besides write a knitting pattern, right? I got to work and wrote a pattern for a simple, ribbed sweater for Queen Bean. Because it was my first time to actually write out a pattern, I had my friend Emily test-knit it for me. The result was fantastic and my kitty has never been happier or more comfortable in any of her other clothes.

sphynx sweater knitting pattern 1

So, about the pattern:

This is a very simple pattern and quick project. If you can knit, purl, k2tog, p2tog, and knit in the round, you’re all set. You can make this larger or smaller pretty easily. Just cast on a multiple of 4 and decrease accordingly.  I do suggest using Malabrigo worsted. I love this yarn anyway because of it’s affordability and softness. Queen Bean certainly approves!

You can find the pattern on Ravelry or you can download the PDF right here: Queen Bean Sphynx Sweater Pattern

Happy knitting!

 

Milk Paint Giveaway Winner…

So, here we go! I’m back and I’ve got a winner! But first, can I ask you guys a favor? It includes the photos of the red coffee table that I promised. However, I didn’t get my side tables done. I’ll be sure and post photos of those as soon as I can.

So, here’s the coffee table after I took the doors off and sanded it a tad. Being as Abbie-like as you can imagine, I forgot to take photos before I began prepping it. Are you surprised? Uh-huh, that’s what I thought. So an in-process, crooked picture is what you get.

So there!

 

 

It’s that table. The one that it seems everyone had in their homes at some point. In fact, some of you mentioned on Facebook that you currently have it in your home. It’s a staple of our generation, I’d say.

I won’t give you the step-by-step this time, but here’s the gist of it:

I lightly sanded it.

I mixed a 1:1 ratio of Extra-Bond and Salem Red milk paint from The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company.

I painted the larger surfaces with a 3″ foam roller and the smaller parts with various sizes of foam brushes.

I beat it up with a putty knife and sandpaper.

Once you guys help me decide on something, I’ll give it 2-3 coats of Clear Coat and then wax it with some Daddy Vans Beeswax and Lavender Furniture Polish.

And that will be that.

So, here she is in all her Salem Red glory!

 

 

I kept the distressing fairly light.

 

 

 

And, without distressing the doors, I put them back on.

 

 

And this is where I need your help.

Doors or no doors…that is the question.

 

If I went doorless, I would patch screw holes and remove those two magnets, and touch up the paint on the inside back wall (the lighting in these pics made me notice a couple of spots I didn’t do well), of course. Maybe even add some narrow trim over those edges (where you currently see screw holes). What do you think of that?

 

 

See, here’s the deal. I’m having some hardware issues. Several of the screws broke off in the wood and some of the holes are stripped. It’s going to require more time, effort and supplies, but it can be fixed, for sure.

However, before I go to all that trouble, let’s think about the possibilities here.

With doors, it can be used for storage (hide clutter, right?) and stays truer to the original design.

Without doors, it could be used to store/display favorite books. Or, according to my kitty, you could a pretty pet bed and create the perfect kitty hideout.

Really, it’s just preference. I need to know what your opinions are on the matter since I’m having commitment issues.

So….

Doors?

 

 

Or no doors?

 

Editing to add: I’m considering/planning to sell this piece. If I decide to keep it, I’ll probably leave the doors off and use it as a Lego table for the kids. That way, we can easily slide tubs of Legos in and out of there. :)

Comment below and let me know what you’d do. Pretty please?

OH…right. The winner. How could I forget? ;)

I simply used Random.org to choose a number and it was….

 

 

Congratulations, Vicki! You lucky dog, you! Just send me an email and Anne and I will get you taken care of!

Now, for those of you that scrolled down to see if you won without reading (Oh, come on! It’s cool! We’re all guilty of it sometimes!), please scroll back up and then comment? I need your help, yo!

 

Let’s all say thanks to Anne at The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company for her kindness, generosity and knowledge. She’s been so wonderful and I, for one, am a customer for life. I hope you’ll all take a look around their incredibly informative website and use their product at some point. You won’t regret it…but if you’re just nutty enough to do that, guess what!  They have a “Love it or it’s free” 100% guarantee. Yeah, they’re that great!

Thanks for sticking with me through this, everyone. You are all so appreciated!

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Milk Paint….Part2

Welcome back! It’s time for the second installment of Adventures in Milk Paint and I gotta tell ya…this one is full of success and ends in an opportunity to win supplies for a milk paint project of your own. That’s right!  A giveway full of goodness. Aw yeah.

Let’s see. Where shall we start? First, if you haven’t already, skim through Part 1 and get caught up.

So, we left off with my dresser stripped of its first milk paint makeover and waiting patiently for another makeover.

 

 

I gave it a couple of days, talked myself through the steps I would need to take to be more successful the second time around and then…I had an idea.  I sent an email to the good people at Old Fashioned Milk Paint to pick their brains and to see if by any chance they’d like to sponsor this post by supplying product for me to use and by hosting a giveaway with me. Guess what! They did! Man, can I tell you how awesome they are?  Anne and I exchanged a lot of emails (Sorry about being quite the Chatty Cathy, Anne!) and she was so kind, so knowledgeable and so very generous!  Before I knew it, I had these goodies delivered to my door and ready to make things beautiful.

After she read the first post about the dresser and I told her about some other pieces I’m ready to paint, she sent me 2 quarts of Marigold Yellow, one quart of Salem Red, and one quart of Oyster White. Plus, she included some Extra-Bond, some Clear Coat and some awesome furniture polish samples. I think the UPS delivery guy that I had finally lost my mind as I snatched the box out of his hands, grinning like a goon.  Can you blame me?

 

 

See, the thing about milk paint is that besides looking fabulous, it’s green as can be! It’s free of VOCs, lead, mercury, plastics, etc.  It’s so safe that you can use it on children’s toys. Pregnant and wanting to paint your nursery? Check out their Safe Paint for walls! This is stuff you can bring into your home and feel good about having it around your family.  You can paint indoors and not worry about passing out from fumes!

Now, I want to take this opportunity to compare using Old Fashioned Milk Paint to the process of making milk paint from scratch.

When you make your own milk paint using lime powder, you’re looking at spending a good chunk of time getting it all ready. I won’t go in to great detail, but here is a little rundown:

  • Go purchase hydrate lime powder. It’s not expensive, but it’s still something you spend time going to get.
  • Find and purchase pigment in the color of your choice.
  • Get a gallon of skim milk and let it come to room temperature. This takes most of a day.
  • Mix milk and vinegar and let it set overnight to produce quark.
  • Strain quark.
  • Mix lime and water, add that mixture to the quark. Add pigment. Stir.
  • Strain again.
  • Paint.

When you use Old Fashioned Milk Paint powder, a lot of the work (and time!) has been done for you and the process is quite simple.

  • Purchase paint (powder).
  • Mix with water.
  • Paint.

If you’ve spent any time looking around my site or have been a reader over the last few years, you’ve probably noticed that in pretty much any area of my life I prefer to try making something myself before purchasing a ready-to-go product. I think that habit stems largely from the fact that I grew up way out in the country. Going to a small town with little to offer took 30 minutes one way. Driving into a larger town with a little more variety–and an hour away–was something we didn’t do all that often and never without good reason. You can imagine that Mom and Dad didn’t exactly rush me to the store on my every crafting or shopping whim, so I got creative and learned to work with what I had. I love that  piece of my life for that reason.

However, with my  hands pretty full these days, I will freely admit that I love anything that can save me a little precious time. When it comes to prep time for a milk paint project, Old Fashioned Milk Paint wins my vote!

So…..back to the dresser and my new shipment of goodies. I decided to change the color completely and go with Marigold Yellow for the main color. Boy, am I glad I did. It’s gorgeous! This is what the powder looks like fresh out of the bag.

 

 

So pretty! When you get a quart of milk paint, it’s roughly 2 cups of powder. Mix that with an equal amount of water and stir well to work the biggest lumps out. Take a few minutes and really work on the lumps. Then, strain it from one container to another. You can use a few layers of cheesecloth like I did in Part 1, but I had far better luck straining through pantyhose this time around.

Now, let me address the main issue I had in Part 1: the bubbling/chipping/flaking. My number one reason for that failure was the plain and simple fact that we didn’t prep the wood well enough. It was sanded but not nearly sanded enough to let the milk paint do its magic. Hence, the paint getting the heck out of Dodge once it dried. User error without a doubt.

This time I didn’t mess around. I sanded the you-know-what out of that dresser first and then made sure to really dust off and clean the surface up when I was done. Most importantly, I added one part Extra-Bond to two parts already-mixed milk paint (after straining…not sure if that matters). If I hadn’t sanded the dresser further and had left it less-porous, I would have mixed it 1:1 instead.

After mixing, let it sit for 10-15 minutes while the ingredients mix and do their magic.

 

Time to paint! You can use a bristle brush, foam brush, foam roller or a sprayer. This time, I chose to use a foam brush to apply the paint. Milk paint doesn’t glide on like other paints. You really kind of drag the paint across the surface as it kind of grabs on to the wood. If you’re using Extra-Bond, you can do this in a thin coat and it acts as a primer as well as your first coat of paint. Right on!

 

 

It will be dry to the touch after about 30 minutes and ready for a second coat after a couple of hours. You don’t need to use Extra-Bond in your second coat. Confession: I did because I still had plenty of paint mixed up with the Extra-Bond in it. After my second coat, I had more coverage and I was really liking the way it looked. Not too perfect, not too shabby. Just my style.

 

 

Sneaks (SneakAway the kitty cat) approves.

 

 

With the second coat dry, I put the drawers in and I was loving the overall look. There’s something about milk paint and photos just don’t do it justice. It gives such a lovely finish. Now I won’t lie and say I didn’t consider a 3rd coat, but ultimately I’m really glad I stopped at two. I just love imperfection on pieces like this.

 

 

I stenciled on my design without too much concern for getting it “just so”.

 

 

Once I was sure I liked it, I lightened my pencil markings with an eraser.  Erasing works quite well on milk paint, so don’t fret too much if you need to redo some of your work.

 

 

Painting on the design made me a little more nervous. I will free admit to having very unsteady hands, so I kindly allowed myself room for squiggles and bobbles and oopses.  Again, I’m embracing imperfection. Using a nice flat brush like this one definitely helped keep my crazy under control, though.

 

 

There we go! I’m liking it. How about you?

 

 

The white looked too stark and freshly painted, so I tried going carefully over it with small scraps of fine sandpaper. I was sanding my fingers more than the dresser, so I wrapped the sandpaper around the eraser end of a pencil and went to town.

 

 

Apparently it was so easy that it looked fun to my 5-year-old daughter, so she joined in with a pencil sander of her own.

 

 

Getting so close to done! Now to age and distress this dresser-beast and get that awesome worn, beaten-up look I love so much. I started out with some medium sandpaper and after about 30 seconds I realized that’s not the approach I wanted to take. Instead, I grabbed a putty knife and went to town on this sucker.

I chipped.

 

 

I scraped.

 

 

I abused.

 

 

And then I loved. Once it was satisfactorily beat the hell up, I gave it two coats of Clear Coat.

I poked the old drawer pulls through some poster board to keep them upright…

 

 

…and gave them a quick spray with this stuff.

 

 

When the dresser was completely dry, I put the pulls back on and fell completely in love with my new-old dresser! After a rub down with the Sweet Orange Oil furniture polish and a good buffing….wowza!  Not only did it look stunning, but it smelled amazing!

 

 

 

If only these were scratch n’ sniff photos!

 

 

It’s just so purty!

 

 

And it adds a lovely spot of color to our bedroom.

 

 

I couldn’t be happier with the ease and beauty that comes along with using Old Fashioned Milk Paint.  Add to that the fact that this company is run by Good People (That’s a huge honor and in Texas, I believe when we say it, we say it with capital G, capital P.) and I’m 100% sold on the stuff.

AND NOW! Now it’s all about you!  From me as a thanks for sticking with me through this insanely long post and from the Good People at Old Fashioned Milk Paint because they’re just that nice, we have a giveaway!

Up for grabs is one shipment of milk paint supplies including:

  • Milk paint: one quart OR one pint each of two colors
  • A pint of Extra-Bond
  • A quart of Clear Coat
  • Just added!! 3 (1 oz) samples of Daddy Van’s Furniture Polish. One each of Unscented Beeswax, Sweet Orange Oil, and Beeswax & Lavender. Sweet!
Nice!
To enter the giveaway:
Like The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company on Facebook
Like The Green Wife (that’s me!) on Facebook
Leave me a comment on this blog post telling me which of their 20 beautiful colors you’d choose and what kind of project you’d like to use your supplies for if you win.

For extra entries:

Follow The Green Wife (still me!) on Twitter and leave a separate comment here on the blog post.

Tweet about this giveaway and leave a separate comment here on the blog post.

Share this giveaway on Facebook and leave a separate comment here on the blog post.

Pin it on Pinterest and leave a separate comment here on the blog post.

 

Entries will be received beginning at the time this post is published and ending at 12pm CST on Monday, October 1, 2012. Any entries received after that time will be ineligible to win the OFMP goodies.

 

While you guys are busy doing that, I’m going to start on a coffee table and some side tables! Hello, Salem Red and Oyster White! I’ll be sharing pictures when the winner of the giveaway is announced. Good luck!