DIY

DIY Valentine’s Day Staycation

"How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said." ~ Victor Hugo

“How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.” ~ Victor Hugo

I once gave my unwavering opinion that staycations were not my idea of a vacation. You can read why I felt I would need a vacation from a staycation here.

Can I change my mind about this?

Although I will not go as far as to say that I would give up a delightfully warm week at the beach to stay home and watch the grass grow or the snow fall, I’m making a staycation exception: Valentine’s Day. All the usual Valentine Day niceties say “stay home.”

Seriously, all you need is love.

Rock found while snowshoeing with my honey after last week's snow storm.

Rock found while snowshoeing with my honey after last week’s snow storm.

DIY Valentine’s Day Staycation

Cards

I am a sucker for handmade cards. I’ve toyed with the idea of making a machine-stitched Valentine card like this, or an easy hand-stitched card. Folding origami valentines has been a suitable alternative. Although, these DIY Alexander Girard-inspired cards are begging to be tucked into a handcrafted envelope.

Home Décor

Along with romantic headboards, like this dreamy lipstick red DIY headboard, I’ve been noticing the allure of bed canopies. Here’s a round-up of DIY bed canopies.

Candlelight

Whenever candles are mentioned, my first response is to ditch paraffin candles (nasty by-products that emit greenhouse gases and soot). Here’s a DIY beeswax alternative.

How about LED tea lights? There’s a bit of a debate about whether or not LED lights pass the snuff test as a viable design alternative to the natural glow of wax candles. I picked up a 12-pack of LED tea lights at Homegoods and enjoy the muted glow of these candles in a candle holder — especially nice in a dark bathroom. This DIY threaded candleholder was created for use with LED tea lights.

Chocolate

I don’t cook much (hubby does), but I like to bake. These healthy chocolate cherry Valentine scones are on this year’s to-make list. Yum. The recipe includes DIY directions for creating a gift box that uses a homemade glue recipe.

Flowers

Unless you give organic flowers, conventionally grown flowers generally get a thumbs-down for eco-friendliness. Most cut flowers are grown in South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. They are heavily sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and even DDT, creating problems for workers and florists. Add in the transporting time, and traditional flowers are not so lovely. Instead, create a dozen origami roses. Use leftover holiday tissue paper or cards. Or, how about a button bouquet?

Wine

Did you think my next suggestion would be to make wine for Valentine’s Day? Not. Although, my husband did make wine once for me. Love that guy. We still celebrate with wine, and here’s some organic wine pairing suggestions. I’m a big fan of  a mellow, rosy red Pinot Noir.

Staying home or going out?

Photo of heart rock: Ted Fink

Dreaming In Color: A Free Knitted Hat Pattern

Jordyn_hat3
“I never felt daunted by difficulties or blocked alleys. Somehow, I knew the path I was on was right, and my trust in that sense was stronger than the limitation of my own personal comforts or desires.” ~ artist and knitting designer, Kaffe Fassett

My daughter presented me with the autobiography of Kaffe Fassett, Dreaming In Color. The luscious multi-layered book has been feeding my post-holiday soul. In the afterglow of holiday overload, extended family dinners and massive clean ups, I pause each evening and curl up with this book. The inspirational words and opalescent photographs of Kaffe’s lifelong creative journey have encapsulated me from the harsh reality of the last few weeks.

Kaffe Fassett's art, Dreaming In Color

Kaffe Fassett’s art, Dreaming In Color

From Kaffe’s bohemian beginnings in Big Sur to his royal rambles in England, his life unfolds to touch the hearts of painters, mosaic and fabric artists. But the book reaches deep into the souls of knitters who cannot resist replicating his colorful and whimsically patterned designs.

I took a workshop with Kaffe in Lenox, MA in the ‘80’s when his book, Glorious Color landed in the U.S. Following Kaffe’s visionary career has influenced my use of color and my knitting ethic. It blew away my neutrally classic ideas about color. What…me use such revolutionary colors? What…me leave my unwoven yarn ends dangling? It was a lawless approach that I wholly embraced. All very freeing and bursting with wonder!

Kaffe Fassett knitted design.

Kaffe Fassett knitted design.

Dreaming In Color reads like a visual pattern. The book is gorgeously designed, which is no surprise given publisher and friend, Melanie Falick’s expert eye for both editing and design.

It is the perfect book to top off the holiday and sustain a knitter throughout the long winter months.

Earlier this season, I thought about Kaffe Fassett when I chose the colors for my knitted gifts. I designed a simple hat (above) that stitched up quickly, and I’m glad a riot of colors landed in my knitting bag — orange, turquoise, chartreuse, ochre — knitted with a thick, nubby, soft merino yarn.

 

In the openness of the New Year, let’s remember the best things in life are handmade – from our precious children to the coziest of hats.


Chunky Hat (free knitting pattern)

Materials
2 skeins Malabrigo Merino yarn
Size 11 circular 11″ needles
Size 11 double pointed needles
Tapestry needle

Directions
Cast on 56 sts on circular needle. Place marker and join.

K2, P2 for approximately 6″

Begin decrease rows as follows (change to double pointed needles when it becomes too tight on the circular needles):

Row 1: k4, k2 tog, repeat around row
Row 2: k around row
Row 3: K3, k2 tog, repeat around row
Row 4: k around row
Row 5: K2, k2 tog, repeat around row
Row 6: k around row
Row 7: K1, K2 tog, repeat around row
Row 8: K2 tog repeat until 6 sts remain.

Cut yarn, leaving 6” tail and thread tapestry needle, draw needle thru remaining 6 sts. Pull tightly, weave in ends.

Main photo: Ben Fink, model: Jordyn Cormier

Merry And Bright


The longer I live, thumb the more beautiful life becomes.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you think this was what FLW had in mind when he designed Falling Water, the house that “captured everyone’s imagination” when it was on the cover of TIME magazine 1938?!?

Merry Christmas!

Photo: Inhabitat

Yarn Bombing: Knitting Over The Edge

Has knitting become a subversive movement? In the last few years, knitting has put miles of distance between the images of grandmas in rocking chairs knitting up tea cozies. I just love how hip, and alternative-minded folks are picking up needles and casting a rebellious flair on an otherwise complacent hobby.

I encountered my first brush with yarn bombing after a satisfying lunch with my kids at the popular Boston eatery, Flour. I was totally taken aback when I bumped into an innocent lamppost and came face to face with urban knitting graffiti.

Like many of you, I’m a big fan of individualizing environs – both interior and exterior, and knitting is my number one hobby of choice. As a mostly non-political knitter, my knitting adventures of late have been relegated to gifting my family with hats, scarves and socks. It may sound silly, but this lamppost encounter with its anonymous yarn artistry, absolutely delighted me. It was as if the inanimate object sprung alive and sported a mischievous grin that said, “Tag, you’re it.”

Magda Sayeg, the founder of Knitta says, “It not only turns alive, there is something comforting and loving about it. You don’t look at the pieces we wrap and get angry or mad. You are happy.” Two outlaw knitters, Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain have elevated yarn grafitti to a new level in their book, Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Along with the accompanying blog that chronicles Moore and Prain’s research into knit (and crochet) graffiti groups from around the globe, they’ve been “tagging” the world with “yarn bombs.”

Pique your interest? If you are a knitter or crocheter with a flair for fiber artistry and you’re interested in dabbling in the underworld of yarn bombing, join the movement. It’s certainly a great reuse opportunity for your leftover stash. Plus, groups are popping up all over the world. But first, you must be willing to abide by a manifesto of sorts.

England’s, Incognito group (no website link, as they want to stay below the radar) shares a few rules:

1. We anonymously promote knitting as adventure.
2. We aim to soften the edges of an otherwise cruel, harsh environment.
3. We juxtapose vandalism with the non-threatening nature of knitting.
4. We aim to readdress the nature of graffiti with a non-permanent, non-destructive, cozy medium.
5. We are a non-discriminating collective.
6. We aim to recruit members to tag on an international scale.
7. Knitstable today, the world tomorrow!

Ready to join the yarn graffiti force? Even if yarn bombing is too fringe (no pun intended), check out the book…it’s a voyeuristic pleasure not to be missed.

For me, yarn bombing gives new meaning to, “Go hug a tree.” Thoughts? Does knit graffiti desecrate, or do you agree with Yarn Bombing’s slogan, “Improving the urban landscape one stitch at a time?”

DIY Folding Chairs To Die For

My latest DIY obsession is repurposing old chairs. A while back, we found two Scandinavian chair frames abandoned by the side of the road. Making cushions is beyond my DIY realm – I’m crafty, but sewing a hem musters up a learning curve that I’ve yet to master. Why? Because I’ve always had a lovely sewing enabler in my life. I’m lucky because my mom is my go-to seamstress/upholsterer. And I’m thrilled she’s still willing to aim her magic thimble in my direction. Mom is currently chopping away on a maxi-skirt that I snagged at my local second-hand store, Rupo. It’s a beautiful long, narrow skirt, but torturous to climb steps in. When my daughter was here last week, she whisked the skirt off to mom and asked her to put a slit up the side (probably way higher than I would wear). Bye-bye skirt. But I digress…

I saw these Overdyed Terai Chairs at Anthropologie (above) and was immediately inspired by DIY possibilities. I’m thinking an oh-so stylish bluish, vintage-vibe would give new life to my old chairs.

Here are 3 of my favorite fabric pics:

1. Madeline Weinrib – This Ikat fabric is just stunning. Ikat means ‘to bind.’ I’m bound by love for this hand-dyed and handwoven silk/cotton fabric.

2. Marimekko – Who doesn’t love Marimekko? With its quintessential retro designs, these fabrics wink back to groovier times. This bold pattern from 1964 is almost identical to the ‘flower power’ wallpaper pattern of my childhood room (hence, the blue trend). In fact, I had to buy a few items with this pattern when I was at the NYC Marimekko store recently.

3. Amy Butler – I’ve written about Amy Butler’s designs before. Not only does Amy provide organic fabrics (below, organic velvet), her business philosophy inspires me as much as her gorgeous designs: “Being generous, fair, and honest in business and in life rewards you with grace and is it’s own success. Giving back to your community is sewing what you reap (sharing the love)…Care for YOUR community and it will take care of you.”

DIY Folding Chair Instructions HERE.

Photo: Anthropologie