A Little Bit of This and That…

I am so happy that Spring has finally arrived! As the flowers start to grow, though, my To Do list does as well. I don’t have any finishes of my own to share with you today. Instead, I’m going to take you on a little trip through my scatter-brained thoughts.

I have been crocheting a blanket, or rather blocks for a blanket.

Tulip Afghan for Raven 2021

When my sister received her copy of Crochet World’s April 2021 issue she decided that she wanted to make the Tulip Fields Afghan for her mother-in-law. This pattern is rated for an Intermediate level so I knew my sister would have a bit of difficulty understanding the directions. I’d never crocheted a block like this before so I had to figure it out first so that I can help my sister out when she gets to it. It’s not very difficult. It just takes some organization when you have 8 different working yarns hanging off of your block. 

Tulip Afghan Blocks

I’m using Red Heart’s Super Saver Ombre yarn for the tulips and Main Stay’s black acrylic for the background. Main Stay is the Walmart brand so I’ll do a review of it once I’ve finished the afghan. I just finished all of the solid black blocks, the larger triangular pieces and I’m working on the last corner triangle. Then I just have 6 more tulip blocks to make before I can start sewing it together.

Sticking with crochet, I want to share with you the project that I’m going to start once the Tulip afghan is finished.

Seacliff Tunic CSUM2021

This is the Seacliff Tunic designed by Che Lam. It was in the Summer 2021 issue of Crochet! magazine and as soon as I laid eyes on it I had an overwhelming desire to make it. I used one of my Hobby Lobby gift cards and ordered enough of the Yarn Bee Sugarwheel Cotton to make it in my size. I decided to use black instead of the blue because it will go with more of my outfits. 

Since those projects aren’t enough, I’ve also determined that I need to revise the Astroflora shawl that I made five years ago. This was the first project that I ever crocheted. I can’t believe that I’ve only been crocheting for 5 years! Anyway, this is the shawl I’m talking about:

Astroflora Shawl Done - 4-2-16

I wore it the other day because it was just chilly enough that I needed one more layer and I didn’t want to bother with a jacket. As I was wearing it I had to keep adjusting it because it felt too small. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been wearing the Atlanta Astroflora shawl that I made while on my trip to Atlanta a while later. I used up all of the yarn I’d brought with me which caused the finished project to be much larger than the pattern intended. I actually like that size and have determined that I should make this original one larger. The only problem is that I don’t have any of the original yarn that I used for it. I don’t know if I can even remember what it was, but I’m not too worried. Instead I’m going to use some of the solid DK yarns that I used on the Solar System blanket. The colors should be close enough that they will go nicely.

Is this all that I have lined up to work on? Of course not! If I don’t have an insane amount of things to make then I feel like I’m being a slacker. lol

I think I’ve mentioned that this year I’m going to attempt to make about 25 lunch bags for the guys in the substance abuse program in my town. Last year I made the hats for them. This year I want to make the lunch bags and fill them with snacks. I have two different patterns that I’ve purchased and need to try out. I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with the Dillan Lunch Bag by i Think Sew patterns. I like the size and there’s a tutorial on YouTube that I can follow. I do have another pattern that I’m trying, but as I cut it out I instinctively realized that I’m not going to like it. I’ve already got the material cut out, though, so I’m going to at least put it together.

Lunch Box Sample 1

In woodworking news, Jay has a new project that I’ve just given to him. My mother-in-law offered to give me a lingerie chest that she no longer needed. I opened up the drawer and looked inside.

Lingerie Chest Drawer

It was real wood! My current lingerie chest is a cheap particle board unit that I picked up at Kmart nine years ago. I would love to have a solid wood one so I told Karen that I would take it once the weather warmed up because I want to strip it and refinish it.

Lingerie Chest 4-12-21

This past weekend was gorgeous so I asked Jay to bring it home with him the next time he was over at his mom’s. He did, but when I saw the bottom I wanted to strangle the person who designed this piece.

Lingerie Chest Bottom

Particle board!!!! GRRRRRRRR

You can’t refinish particle board and the bottom of this apparently got wet at some point. Now I was torn. I didn’t want to replace one particle board chest with another, and especially one that would have to be repainted and repaired. Yet I hated to burn perfectly good wooden drawers. I discussed it with Jay, and when he gets some time, he’s going to take measurements and build me a new carcass for the drawers. Yea!!! Isn’t he good to me??

Okay, so I’m almost done. I have two finishes that I want to show you even though they aren’t mine. I went up to my parents’ for Easter and my mom handed me two quilts. One is for Project Linus (I hand them in for her):

Babe's Pink Project Linus Quilt 2021

The other one is for me and Jay:

Babe's Civil War Quilt 2021

Normally I’m not an orange kind of person, but this was made from a kit that Jay’s mom’s friend had given to me. She knew that I was into the Civil War and this kit had reproduction fabric in it based on fabrics manufactured during the Civil War.

Babe's Civil War Quilt Fabric

My mom had to do some additional work and use the backing fabric that came with it in order to increase the size. She knows that we have a king size bed and the original pattern for this kit would barely fit a double. Jay thinks it will be great to have on the bed in the fall. I think that it’s nice to have another big quilt that is long enough on the sides where we don’t have to fight over who has the cold butt at night. lol

My mom does a fantastic job arranging the pattern pieces and then quilting it with her long arm. In fact, even the quality inspector was very impressed with the workmanship on these quilts. They both received A+ grades.

Bob 4-12-21

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Sewing My Own Purse

For many years I’ve carried a leather purse because I feel that they hold up the best to the abuse I put them through. I hate purse shopping so once I find one it had better last for quite a few years. My last purse was a bit of a bargain, so it only lasted for about three and a half years. I didn’t want to spend money on another purse that would only last a short length of time so I decided to make one.

I searched for patterns online, I watched YouTube videos and I looked at purses in the store. I finally decided that maybe I wanted to try a crossbody bag. I’ve never owned one before and the idea of being able to have it secured to me without it falling off my shoulder or in my hand was very appealing.

While watching a Lauren Mormino video I was introduced to Sincerely Jen Patterns. All of the Sincerely Jen bags are named after references to the sitcom Friends. When I came across the On A Break Crossbody Bag I knew that it had potential.

On A Break bag Front

Of course I put cats on it. Everybody should have a bag with cats on it.

According to the pattern the dimensions on this bag are 10″ Wide x 10″ High x 2.5″ Deep. That seemed like a really nice size for what I wanted. The only hesitation I had was I wanted it a little deeper. Not a problem, though. I just added an inch to the pattern piece so that mine would be 3.5″ deep. I wanted the extra inch because I have a larger wallet and it has to go in there. My wallet is an ID Stronghold wallet that has RFID shielding, so there is no way I’m switching to a different wallet.

I don’t know if this is sad or shows that I’m prepared for the next pandemic, but I technically had all of the supplies for this purse on hand. The only things I bought were the D rings (which I had some others on hand, but they were silver) and a zipper (I had a slightly longer one on hand and didn’t want to waste almost 4″ of it).

On A Break Bag Back

I used waterproof canvas for the exterior, regular gray canvas for the interior lining and quilting cotton for the front pocket.

On A Break Bag Inside

I had a blue zipper on hand so I used that for the inside pocket.

On A Break Front Zipper

Luckily I had a white zipper on hand for my front zipper pocket. This is where I stash my cell phone and it fits perfectly.

On A Break Bag Front Pocket

You were supposed to use a magnetic snap to keep the front pocket closed, but since I knew I was going to keep my phone in the zippered pocket I didn’t want to use magnets. I just sewed some velcro on instead. It works fine for me.

On A Break Bag with Wallet

That’s just to show how large my wallet is as compared to the purse.

Since I used waterproof canvas I didn’t need any kind of interfacing for the exterior pieces. However, I’m not sure a modern domestic machine would be able to handle sewing all of those layers. I used my Singer 301A as I knew that is a work horse and I had to at one point use the hand wheel to advance the needle when sewing through the straps that hold the D rings onto the purse. At those points you have 10-12 layers of canvas to sew through. I was afraid that if I didn’t use the hand wheel I would break the needle.

On A Break Cross Body Bag 2021 Cropped

I have been carrying this purse for about two weeks now and so far I like it. I still have to get used to throwing it over my head instead of just holding it in my hand, or tossing it over my arm, but it’s nice to know that I have a bag that not only will handle some abuse but can be tossed in the washer if it gets filthy.

I enjoyed working with this pattern. Not only were the directions written out step by step, but she has recorded tutorials for most of her patterns and posted them to YouTube. At one point I was confused about what the directions were telling me, so I went to YouTube and realized what she was talking about. It really helped a lot. I highly recommend her patterns if you’re in the market for a purse pattern.

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3D Wooden Puzzles

This year Jay’s mom gave him a gift that has ended up costing us quite a bit. It was yet another thing that once Jay started messing with he couldn’t stop. Have you seen the 3D wooden puzzles?

Wooden Train and Car

This is the train and car set that he received. Jay LOVE to assemble stuff, so this puzzle was right up his alley. I can’t recall how many hours it took him to complete this, but I know it was only a day that he worked on it.

Wooden Train Gears

One of the first things you assemble is the “engine” part. All of those gears, pulleys and axles. 

Wooden Train Trucks

I asked Jay some questions so that I could include his opinions in this post. His favorite part about these puzzles is the process of assembling them. It’s very therapeutic. The puzzles come with step-by-step instructions and it ends up being like a scavenger hunt to find the sheet with the particular part number you need. Using your Xacto knife you separate it from the sheet of parts and place it per the instructions. Typically Jay tosses instruction sheets to the side, but not with these puzzles.

What’s really impressive about the puzzles is the engineering. Look at those gears on the underside of the train engine. They all fit together just right so that they can turn the correct pieces on the gears above so that this train actually runs along the track that is included with this puzzle. They even include rubber bands for the drive shaft.

Wooden Train Rubber Drive Shaft

There are rubber bands used on the pulleys inside, too.

Wooden Train Front

If I remember correctly, none of this gets glued together. It’s all press fit. The fits are so close and tight that they hold together really well. I have personally moved this train and car a few times and I’ve never had any of it fall apart.

One tip Jay gives is that if the puzzle has moving parts you definitely need to use the wax that is included with the puzzle. It really does make a huge difference.

At one point I was doing laundry and Jay called me over to look at the part he had just removed from the sheet. He was so impressed with the design and engineering that he just had to share.

Wooden Coach Car Interior

The roof over the car and the engine cab, plus up by the cow catcher, were all flat pieces within the plywood sheet. It was cut in such a way, though, that you’re able to bend and curve it. It really is quite impressive.

Wooden Train Steps

The details on the panels are great, too. If you didn’t know, these are all laser cut. When I asked Jay what was his least favorite thing about these puzzles he said that it was the fact that he doesn’t have a laser that can cut plywood or the time to design and create his own 3D wooden puzzles. 

Wooden Train Cab

Jay has a lot of experience assembling things, but he feels that as long as you have patience and follow the instructions exactly that anybody can put one of these together. 

There are several different brands and many places where you can purchase these puzzles. After Jay finished the train and car I purchased another one for him on Amazon. I thought he would like the musical Airplane carousel.

Airplane Carousel

His mom had ordered a puzzle for me for Christmas, too, but instead she got a ship. So she gave that to him to keep him busy.

Wooden Ship

I don’t know exactly what happened, but did end up receiving the piano.

Grand Piano

I had placed an order with Amazon, and like I will do once in a while, I threw something in for Jay as a surprise… an Army Jeep.

Army Jeep

The detail on this jeep is incredible. It actually has springs that you put on it so that you can push down on it and the springs pop it back up when you let go. I guess if you ever have to run over some bumpy terrain your ride will be a lot smoother!

The next puzzle Jay purchased for himself. It’s a marble maze and it really does work.

Marble Maze

At this point Jay was getting a little burned out so we didn’t order any for a while. Then after we finished the barn wood entertainment center I thought he would like a little treat. So I got him an Airship that reminded me of the airship that you see at the beginning of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Air Ship

We probably won’t purchase any more of these until we get ready to head to my sister’s for vacation. The pool is great, but Jay needs something to keep his hands busy in the evening. I’ve tried to talk him into learning how to knit or crochet, but he claims he has no interest. When it comes time to order these kits I know I’ll have to let him get at least three or four. If he can do the train and car in less than a day then he’s going to need several to tide him over for almost a week. I know he has his eye on a crane and I’m sure there are several other pieces that can go with it.

So if you know somebody who enjoys puzzles or building things then I highly recommend these puzzles. There are a ton of options out there and you don’t have to have any special skills in order to complete them. Give it a try!

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Project Linus Blanket #35

Project Linus Blanket #35:

Project Linus Blanket #35 Skateboarding Dinosaur

“Skateboarding Dinosaur”

When I was crocheting this blanket I had a weird thought that jumped into my head. These colors were ones you would have found on Jams shorts in the 90’s. I could see a blue pair of shorts with skateboarding dinosaurs in the green, yellow and blue shades. In fact, I feel like my friend’s brother had a pair similar to this and that’s how it jumped into my head. I can’t find any pictorial evidence, but I’m sure that Stephen had a pair like that… maybe.

Back to the blanket. I used the pattern Corner-to-Corner Ombre Throw for Red Heart yarn. I just tried finding the link to this pattern on their website, but the closest I came was this crochet pattern. It’s very similar and would give you the same results.

I chose this pattern because I had purchased some Red Heart Bunches of Hugs yarn from Herrschners during a sale for $6.99/ea. I specifically purchased a variegated and two solids that would go together nicely for a boy’s blanket. Now, typically I don’t care for Red Heart yarn, but this looked like it was meant to make items for babies so I figured it would be much nicer than their Super Saver.

Project Linus Blanket #35 2-27-21 

This picture shows the colors much truer to what they look like in real life. The quality inspector had just finished looking it over and gave it the tail twitch of approval.

I really enjoy working a corner-to-corner blanket. You only have to keep track of your rows until you reach the last increase row, then everything else is downhill from there. I did not, however, care for this yarn. It is softer than Red Heart Super Saver, but it’s not nearly as soft as Hobby Lobby’s I Love This Yarn. I may have been a bit biased since the blanket I had finished before this one was made with the I Love This Yarn. Also, I fought with one of the skeins of solid color for 20 minutes trying to find the center yarn end. I like to pull from the center and I could NOT find it. My temper almost got the better of me, but instead I used the outside end (which was a pain every time I had to stop and unwind a long section before I could continue crocheting). I have enough of this yarn left to make another blanket so I will use it until it’s gone, but I’ll never buy this type again.

Project Linus Blanket #35 Detail

Since I was switching colors between two different solids (Blue and green) and the variegated (blue, green, yellow shades) I made a pattern to follow. The blanket called for 110 rows, so I divided that by 3 (36.66667) to determine that I wanted my variegated to be used for 36 rows. That was easy, I just again divided by 3. With the remaining rows I determined what pattern I wanted to follow, drew it up, and kept it by my side. If you look at it you can see the solid stripes of green and blue. Maybe the next one I make I will just use solid chunks of color in between the variegated pieces.

I don’t know when my next Project Linus blanket will be made because I’ve started a blanket that my sister wants to make for her mother-in-law. I decided that if I made it first I would be able to help her a lot easier when she starts on it. I’ve chosen a color scheme that my stepniece will like. I thought it would be neat for her to have a blanket that uses the same pattern as one that her grandma will have. So we’ll see how that comes together.

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Barn Wood Entertainment Center is DONE!!!!

Do you hear the ecstatic roar of the crowd? The cheers, the whistles and the fireworks all going off at the same time? Maybe that’s just in my head.

T-E TV Center Finished 3-3-21

It’s done!

Can you believe it? I definitely can’t! I think it turned out really nice.

T-E TV Center Finished 3

The pictures definitely don’t do this justice. I tried my best, but I’m not a photographer so this was the best I could get. 

We used the pattern in Wood Magazine as a guide, but Jay did all of it without actually using the plans. He just used it to verify some measurements and to see how they assembled the sliding doors. The finished project measures 75″ W x 30″ T x 18″ deep (per Jay).

This was a new type of build for us so I asked Jay some questions about the project.

T-E TV Center Finished 2

Did you learn any new techniques or try something for the first time on this project?

“It was the first time I’ve ever built a base for a cabinet to sit on. That was new to me. The other thing I learned, or maybe I should say that it was reinforced, was you need to make sure your sides are straight and square. The inner core dividers had a bit of wave to them (due to the quality of lumber available to us at the time) and this affected how the shelves fit into the cabinet.”

What was your favorite part of this build?

“Making the hardware for the doors; the spacers, the bearings, etc.”

T-E TV Center Finished Door

What was your least favorite part of this build?

“The top. Trying to construct it was a pain due to the fact that it was too wide to fit through the drum sander when it was glued together. I had to build two halves of the top, sand them smooth, and then glue them together.”

T-E TV Center Finished Top

Would you build this again, and if so, what would you do differently?

“Yes, I would build it again. The next time, though, I would make sure the lumber isn’t wavy for the internal sides and I would drill the holes for the shelving pegs before gluing the sides in.”

Overall, Jay said that it turned out exactly as he thought it would and he’s really happy with the end product. The only tip he would give somebody who was thinking about building this is make sure that you have plenty of room where you are building it and that you will be able to get it out of that area when it’s done! (This will actually have to leave our basement through our outside doors as it will not fit around the corner to go up the interior stairs.)

I suppose I should answer the same questions that I asked Jay.

T-E TV Center Finished Shelves

I learned two things on this build: 1. How to do a faux barn wood finish. 2. I’m NEVER buying Varathane brand stain every again.

My favorite part of this project was knowing that I didn’t have to do a very thorough job sanding the pieces before applying stain. Rustic was okay on this project.

T-E TV Center Finished 4

My least favorite part was the top white wash layer. I was always afraid that if I didn’t do it correctly on every single piece that it would look odd when it was all assembled. 

If I can help it, I would never do this type of finish again. Can I do it? Yes. Do I want to? No.

Despite all of the curse words, anger and glares that I threw at this piece I think that in the end it turned out really nice. Jay’s sister and brother-in-law came over to see it and they seemed pleased. Now they just have to find a place to put it!

T-E TV Center Finished 6

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Solar System Blanket and Towels

Last year one of the magazines I received in the mail was Mandala-Style Throws to Crochet. There were quite a few patterns I wanted to try, but there was one I knew I was going to crochet.

Solar System Blanket by Alex Mikkelborg.

Solar System Blanket 01 2021

The blanket in the picture looks a LOT better than this one. I followed the pattern exactly, but I could never get mine to lay flat. I didn’t stress out too much about it because it’s for my friend’s daughter so I figured it wouldn’t spend much time actually spread out on the ground. It was for her first birthday.

When I saw this blanket I instantly thought of my friend’s brother. He went to college for astro-something or another and is horribly smart. He wrote a few published articles and I believe he even discovered some kind of cosmic item (I can’t recall what it is and I’m horrible with science). I thought this would give the little darling something for her and her uncle to bond over when she gets older. Hopefully. 

I really hope this little girl doesn’t ever have OCD otherwise this blanket will drive her crazy.

Solar System Blanket Truer Colors

This is much closer to the actual colors in real life. But I think if you have OCD you will be frustrated because all of the planets are one one side of the solar system. In my defense, I was following a picture that I found on the internet and when I laid it down, that’s when I realized they were all on one side. When it was just a big lump of blanket in my lap I didn’t realize they were landing like this. Jay is my science expert in the house so I asked him if it’s possible that they could all actually be arranged in this way and he said yes. So I’m going with that. Of course, the quality inspector had to come by and take a look.

Blanket Quality Inspector

“Hmmm… Saturn’s rings aren’t nearly to scale, and Neptune looks a bit lethargic. I see that you added Pluto to the blanket. You’re part of the crowd who still insists on including it despite the fact that it’s been demoted. I see how it is. Let me just put it through the napping test and then we’ll see if it gets a passing grade.”

Since Little Lady is now a year old she also received some hooded towels.

Hooded Towels 02 2021

I HAD to include a towel with a ribbon of music. These towels work great from the toddler age all the way up until they are old enough to start copping attitudes. 🙂

 

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Entertainment Center Progress

T-E TV Center Carcass Gray Stain 2-6-21

It’s not done, but it’s close!

This part of the project has taken so long because it has had to be done on my workbench, and I only have so much room. For instance, here is the top of this piece:

T-E Entertainment Center Finished Top 2-28-21

This one piece alone takes up almost my entire bench. You should have seen it when I had the cabinet carcass laying up there!

In this picture you can see the finish and how it’s turning out. It looks like weathered barn wood, right?

Would you like to see how the carcass looks with the shelves and doors installed?

T-E Entertainment Center Front 2-28-21

My fear was the doors and shelves would look odd once they were installed on the carcass since I had to do the finishing steps separately. I know that you don’t need a consistent finish, since barn wood will look different depending upon how the elements hit it, etc. I just didn’t want the colors to be too off.

T-E Entertainment Center Finished Carcass 2-28-21

You can see a better shot of the carcass side next to the door. Not too bad.

T-E Entertainment Center Shelves 2-28-21

I’m using a poly with a satin finish for this piece. Gloss would have looked odd and I wanted something with a little bit of a sheen. Matte would have been too flat. I need a tiny bit of bling.

T-E Entertainment Center Center Shelves 2-28-21

The nice thing about this piece is that I have not had to do a lot of sanding. Usually I spend a LOT of time sanding before I finish it so that the surface will be as smooth as possible. You can see the chunk in the front of this shelf. I’ve also left a lot of the saw marks, too. That makes it more “authentic”.

T-E Entertainment Center Front Doors 2-28-21

I guess Jay texted a picture of it to our new brother-in-law to prove that it’s still in the works, and he supposedly really liked it. I sure hope so. 

T-E Entertainment Center End 2-28-21

Jay has admitted that he wasn’t excited about the finish when we started, but after seeing how it’s coming together he is starting to really like it. I told him I am NOT finishing a piece like this for us. It may look nice, but it will look even better in somebody else’s home.

The next post you see about this piece will be the reveal of the finished product. I can’t wait!

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Project Linus Blanket #34

Project Linus Blanket #34

Project Linus Blanket #34 2-19-21

“Verdant Pastures”

You’re probably wondering where I came up with that name. Usually they are self-evident. After I finished weaving in the ends I tried figuring out what to call this blanket. I was going to go with something like Forest Canopy, but that didn’t feel right. Suddenly “Verdant Pastures” popped into my head. Most of you have probably never heard this phrase. It comes from a version of Psalm 23 that I’ve sung at church. Instead of making me lie down in green pastures (as found in most Bibles), this sung version says, “In verdant pastures he gives me repose,” and that phrase has just stuck in my head. ‘Verdant’ definitely sounds more lush and beautiful as compared to just plain ol ‘green’. 

Anyway, back to the blanket. This pattern actually comes from the February 2021 issue of Crochet World. The pattern is called “Scrappy Shells” and this is the picture that really grabbed me:

Project Linus Blanket #34 Scrappy Shells Pattern

Typically I’m not good at visualizing what a pattern will look like if you change the colors. I change them anyway and hope that it turns out okay. This time, though, for some reason I saw this blanket with an ombre pattern in different green shades. I became obsessed with finding a line of yarn that had the right shades of green that would allow me to make this blanket as I saw it in my head. 

After I became terribly angry with the entertainment center Jay sent me to Hobby Lobby so that I could improve my mood. He told me to go play in the yarn until I could smile again. So I did.

Project Linus Blanket #34 Yarn

It was a week when their yarn was 30% off. Now, this yarn is not cheap, but it’s one of my favorite brands of acrylic. I didn’t really want the yellow in the very middle, but I thought it might give it just a little bit of character. They didn’t really have anything else that would work. I think it looks fine.

It was a very simple pattern to follow. After the first several repeats I didn’t even look at the pattern. Also, they claim that this should only have 54 rows, but I know that I went way past that number. At one point I decided that I was just going to make it as large as I wanted. I think that when it was finished, per the pattern, it was supposed to be something like 50″ square. When I got close to the 54 row count I decided that they must have blocked the blanket to get it to that size. My goal is to have a blanket that can be instantly used when it comes out of the dryer. So I kept going.

Project Linus Blanket #34 Detail

I had to get this blanket washed and handed in so I couldn’t wait for natural daylight before taking the pictures. So these colors look a little brighter in that center than what it looked like in person. It looks like it is holey, but you don’t really notice them when the blanket is draped on you.

Project Linus Blanket #34 Corner

I really enjoyed this pattern. I will probably use it again in the future. I don’t think I will ever make it like the picture shows with the different colors, but that’s just because I’m lazy and don’t want to weave in a billion ends. This one was great because I had two ends to weave in when I was done. As I was changing colors I just used a magic knot. If it didn’t change exactly when it should have I didn’t really care. It was close enough. Whatever boy gets this blanket isn’t going to point at one of the joins and scream about how it is completely ruined because the color changes one stitch past where it should. I think they will just be happy to have something soft and warm to snuggle under.

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A Not-so-Entertaining Center

I’m not proud to admit that there was a bit of a problem that cropped up in the house. I got so angry that I wasn’t screaming; I was keeping my arms crossed in front of me so that I wouldn’t throw anything. A lot of ugly and hateful things were said. And yes, there were tears. Finally, I had to walk away. I couldn’t deal with it any more. I needed a bit of a separation and time to be alone.

Jay tried to fix it. He really did.

T-E TV Center Shelf Repair 1-24-21

He thought the beer would calm me down and he worked on the shelf.

I told him that if this had been for us, the shelf would have gone flying across the room. As it was, I didn’t want to ruin all of the work and effort he’d already put into it. But this was the last straw. In the last post I told you that I wasn’t happy with the white washing. It didn’t look right. Every time I looked at it I hated it even more. Then when I turned the shelf over I saw that the gray stain had pooled on the lip… on the side that will be visible. Now, normally this wouldn’t have set me off, but when I saw that I just lost it. All of the work and effort that I had already put into these pieces were ruined. I needed to come up with a different way to get the faux finish that I was after. I was SOOOOOOO ANGRY!!!! At the gray stain, that is.

I had done a practice piece a few months ago and it turned out great. I only had a little jar of gray stain, though, so I went out to buy a quart of it to make sure I would have enough for this entire project. I couldn’t find the original brand I had used, so I bought another brand that had the same directions and drying time. It looked like the same type of stuff, just a different brand.

T-E TV Center Door Back Wash #1

When it dried I was confused because I’ve NEVER had a stain shine like this before. At least, not until I had poly’d it. When I did the white washing the water beaded up on it like there was a protective layer below it. I’d never had stain do that before, either. The last straw was when I saw that the gray stain had pooled on the edge of the shelf. Normally a stain that pools will just darken that area even more. This stuff, though, was lumpy like poly when it has pooled and then dried. When I used my razor to try to scrape it off it even acted like I was scraping off poly. I have no idea what the deal is with this stain because I could not find anywhere that said it had a sealant included as part of the finish. 

T-E TV Center Door Wash#1

You could see every stroke of the gray coat like it was paint that had mounded up. I had a problem on my hands now, though. No matter what I did to fix these pieces I would have to do the same process to ALL of the pieces so that they looked similar. Even if I managed to find a quart of the original gray stain I used, it wouldn’t have the same look as these doors. Short of stripping them down I had to come up with a different solution.

But like I said, I had to spend some time away from them for a while. Finally I had a plan of attack put together so I headed back downstairs. And sanded. I did a LOT of sanding. I figured that at the least I would have to scuff up the finish so that I could get something to stick to it.

T-E TV Center Door Sanded 1-24-21

This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve stained and finished a LOT of wooden projects. Needless to say, when I started sanding these doors I was even more convinced that this stain had some kind of protectant or sealant added to it (that wasn’t stated on the label). It sanded just like you would expect an enamel or oil-based poly to sand.

T-E TV Center Shelf Sanded 1-24-21

I have vowed to never buy that brand again. The problem is that I used to buy all of my stains and finishing supplies from Home Ripoff. They used to carry the Minwax brand, but recently they’ve switched to the Varathane brand. No more! I will either buy the Minwax brand from another source or I might branch out and try the General Finishes brand. I’ve heard good things about it, and though it’s pricey, it might be worth it. Never again will I use the Varathane brand.

When everything was sanded I decided that I would instead water down some acrylic paint and layer that on the pieces. Jay uses acrylic paint to paint all of his RC jets then he coats them with a sealant. I figure this entertainment center won’t see a lot of rough wear-and-tear so I should be okay to use the acrylic layers and then put a couple coats of poly on it.

So I started with a gray coat.

T-E TV Center Shelf Gray Coat 1 1-26-21

T-E TV Center Door Gray Coat 1 1-26-21

This had to have some depth to it, so I layered a darker watered down gray acrylic next.

T-E TV Center Door Gray Coat 2 1-28-21

T-E TV Center Gray Coat 2 1-28-21

I was a little worried that it might look too streaky, but at this point I didn’t care too much. So I forged on with the white wash layer.

T-E TV Center Door White Wash 1-29-21

The backs of the doors look a little goofy because I was trying to get the white wash procedure down. I needed to figure out the right water-to-paint ratio and the best way to smooth it. By the time I got over to the shelves I had the right recipe.

T-E TV Center Shelf White Wash 1-29-21

The picture doesn’t really do this justice, but it looks SOOOOO much better than the first white wash debacle. I mean, I’m actually happy with this finish. I haven’t spat a single mean word in its direction. I was also VERY happy with how the front of the doors turned out, but I’m not going to show those yet. I’m keeping those in my back pocket, which makes it very difficult to sit!

Now that I have the process down and I know what steps I need to take I can get started on the rest of it.

T-E TV Center Carcass Gray Stain 2-6-21

Unfortunately it means that I have to use the hateful gray stain and then sand it away, but at least it will look like the doors and shelves.

T-E TV Center Carcass Gray Coat 2 2-6-21

 

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Sewing Masks

I know that a LOT of people have been sewing masks in 2020, so this isn’t anything new. I hate wearing them and really resisted making any, but unfortunately if you don’t want to cause a scene you have to wear one in the stores. Until we move out to the middle of nowhere and raise all of our food, I guess I will have to travel to the stores and wear a dumb mask.

Anyway, I made my own because… well, because I could. I have plenty of fabric and then I knew I could make it fit my face. It took me a couple of patterns, but I finally found one that I can wear without it fogging up my glasses (for the most part).

Masked Bandit

Masked Bandit Front

At least, that’s what I call this style. It looks like I should be on a train in the old west telling people to give me all of their valuables. 

Masked Bandit Side

You can’t see the piece that comes up and over my nose (without any kind of nose wire), but it has a flap of fabric that keeps the breath from sneaking up onto my lenses. It also sticks out far enough that I don’t feel like I’m eating the mask when I try to talk. The only problem I run into is when I’ve been cleaning at the cat shelter for almost three hours and it’s soaked in sweat. That’s when there’s a higher probability of eyeglass fogging. I found this pattern on YouTube by Mia DIY. I believe it’s her No Fog On Glasses pattern. I used the basics from that and modified it a bit. I don’t like to sew the elastic onto the mask in case I have to change it out so I make channels on the side and loop the elastic through it.

Duck Bill

Duck Bill Front

This looks similar to the Masked Bandit, but it’s pointier and doesn’t cover up as much of your face.

Duck Bill Side

It also does nothing to prevent your glasses from fogging. This is not my favorite style, but one of the ladies at the cat shelter says that it’s her favorite. I can’t remember how I came across this pattern (probably a YouTube search), but you can download the pattern for free here. Again, I modified this a bit to make them easier to mass produce.

I made a bunch of these and donated them to the shelter so that they could sell them. You see, one day when I was there cleaning another lady said that she loved the mask I was wearing. It was a Masked Bandit that used fabric with cats on it. She told me she’d paid $15 for a mask online and was VERY disappointed when it arrived. Most of those masks I’ve seen are junk. I thought about it and decided that I could at least provide the cat lovers in my area with some decent and fun masks. 

I took a batch to the shelter in November. Two weeks later I was asked if I could make more with one of the fabrics I had used. I went and bought some other fabric and since then I’ve been making about 20 masks every four weeks or so. 

Here’s the latest batch:

Masked Bandit

Masked Bandit Masks

Duck Bill

Duck Bill Masks

I think the shelter is charging $5 for them, which is fine with me. Every little bit helps and I know the cats appreciate it.

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