an open eye

Archive for the ‘crafts.’ Category

Gloom & Doom (and how to fight back)

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Don’t get too close. It might be catching.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the cure for a dreary rainy cold wet messy weekend is to paint & recover furniture.

To wit: chair, circa 1971. Formerly belonging to a Singer cabinet sewing machine. The machine went kaput (I am death to machinery) but the chair remained, because it is sturdy and comfortable and heavy. It’s made to stick around.

Colors and fabric? Ehhh … Not so much.

No one will ever stop loving harvest gold!

It only took a shopping trip for new canvas fabric and a few cans of spray paint. And a few dozen shots from the staple gun.

Everything else is original. Frame, legs, screws … even the forty-year-old foam padding.

And I love it.

Even the padding.

So fresh! so clean! So few mistakes!


Written by jane

June 11, 2013 at 6:29 am

Posted in crafts.

better with butter

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Honeybees! Aren’t they marvelous? It’s very fashionable right now to admire bees, but my relationship with the honeybee goes deeper than fashion. When I was very young, my best friend and I kept dead bumblebees in a little jewelry box; we’d carefully touch its bristly-soft fur. (Don’t look at me like that. We didn’t kill the bees. Just collected them.) Later on I wore a pewter pendant of a honeybee, every day, for most of a decade.

Wasps were far more common around my childhood house than bees were, for whatever reason; no summer went past without a few papery nests hanging from the porch. Terrifying. Bee stings are painful, but honeybees are sensible creatures who won’t attack without cause (and they inevitably die in the process.) Wasps are far more aggressive, stinging and swarming for any perceived threat. And their venom is far more painful.



Bees make wax, and beeswax is great stuff. This weekend I whipped up a batch of wood butter. I’d never made the recipe before and it was dead simple.

Just melt —


and mix


and pour


and let cool


and rub all over your unvarnished woods. Cutting boards, mixing spoons — even a worn-out nightstand, fifty years old.



My wood things — they’re all golden now. And they smell like sunshine and honey.

Written by jane

June 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Posted in crafts., fun times.

Christmas Knitting.

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… but not the organized type-A personality self-righteous perfect knitter kind. This is the “wrapping up in late April the gifts that ought to have finished in late December.”

Last Xmus I knit my dear Cullen a pair of socks, as requested — although I did not knit heels into them because the socks I make for C are always “toooo shooort!” (except when they’re “toooo loooong”). This is the problem with gift-knitting. Too large, too small, too tight, too loose. It’s hard enough to make clothes to fit my own body — and that’s always nearby for trying-on, you know?

So, all right; I’d measure C’s foot and knit in afterthought heels.


As with most things my plan was stronger than my resolve, and the socks (sadly heel-less) languished in a corner alongside many dust bunnies. Until tonight.

It is possible that I was trying to get out of knitting the gol-durned sweater for Cullen. Barely possible. It might have played a part, is what I’m saying, but only because the very first sleeve of that sweater (and there are two sleeves to make) — that first sleeve is on its THIRD incarnation. The first frog was due to my shoddy math skill and the second to my shoddy knitting-math skill.

Heels are easier to manage.
There was measuring
and cutting
and picking up stitches


and knitting in the new heel
(or toe … depending on how you look at it)


and I don’t mean to brag
but I think it turned out pretty well.
Cause I have got this sockknitting thing down.



* flowers from a generous guest at our last party. they’re two weeks old and aren’t they gorgeous? It makes me feel positively decadent to have roses about and sock heels to knit and a quiet, busy weekend ahead.

Written by jane

April 27, 2013 at 9:15 am

“buttons that have forgotten they’re buttons”

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Old school, isn’t it?

I was very industrious this past weekend, and Sunday was for sewing. I fixed half of the t-shirt quilt (that I had screwed up the week before) and was in the middle of a long seam for the binding when — whoooops! — out went the bobbin thread.

Nothing I did worked. Nothing. I even got out the instruction manual, which instructed me to do exactly what I was doing. Frustrating! I’ll figure it out, but in the meantime … it’s time to fix some minor problems.

 I generated a lot of thread snips — and the cat loves to eat thread — and I remembered.

 My mother had an old (old) plastic container that she kept in the cabinet of the sewing machine, and tossed all the scraps and snips inside. I think hers was from coleslaw, or something? Maybe 1960’s coleslaw? It was very old when I was a child. I’m sure she’d still be using it now if her machine worked.

I am far far too classy to use an old coleslaw (?) container — clearly! — so this is a good solution both for the thread snips and the pins that roll about underfoot and embed themselves in ones flesh …

And it uses a sliver of fabric  from Crystal, quilter extraordinaire.


Written by jane

February 11, 2012 at 8:39 am

Posted in crafts.

Knitting for charity? Screw that.

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I would like you all to know that after (wait. I have to count on my fingers for this) fourteen years of knitting, I have finally exhausted the number of hats, mittens, scarves, shawls, sweaters, and socks the house can hold. And my friends refuse to accept more gifts of the knitted kind.

I know what you’re saying. “Why, Jane! You didn’t mention knitting for charity!” Yes, indeed; you are a discerning reader as well as a constant one. I have not contributed my time and effort towards charitable concerns. I would far, far rather send money. It’s a sad sad thing, because (let us be honest) I don’t have money to send.

This does not win friends at Knit Night. It’s, like, a knitterly duty to make things for other people. Especially babies. Especially premature babies.

While I do not mean to suggest that charity-knitting is unworthy, I’ve gotta say – my feminist knee jerks reflexively at this. But fear not! This is not a post about women’s role as the Angel In The House and the good ol’ Victorian assumption that we will spend our freaking lives embiggening other people at our own time, expense, and (often) sanity.

… but, please: before you go all out sending nasty comments and death-threats: listen.

I have mended my ways. I have found my inner Marmee. I too am happily spending this evening knitting – on teeny-tiny needles with mercerized cotton thread – a long long long white bandage, which will be mailed to a charitable organization, who will give it to a leper to wrap around her or his gangrenous limbs.

How Victorian of me.

(shown: 1,000 stitches, or about 4 inches … Only 11,000 to go.)

Written by jane

February 9, 2011 at 7:14 am

Posted in crafts., feminism, knitting.