I ♥ reupholstery class

I just had my first night of reupholstery class! I’ve been wanting to take this class for a couple of years, but the timing (or economy…) hasn’t been in my favor – but this fall I will be taking this old chair apart, and putting it back together again!

chair_pre_reupholsteryI bought the chair at a flea market down the street from where I lived last time I belonged here in Bergen, some 7 years ago. I remember paying the 75 kr (about $12), thinking it was a steal, and feeling giddy walking home with it balanced on my head. The other night I walked with it on my head again, almost the exact opposite route, to take it to class. After years and years of usage I am so excited to be sprucing it up, and to be doing it thoroughly!

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First step was to start removing the fabric, and assess what parts could be saved. My chair is plenty solid in the woodwork, the cardboard backing is fine, and the wool batting at the back is ok. Pretty much everything else is going!

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That meant that I removed all pins and nails to get the seat fabric off, as well as the wool and horsehair batting. The horsehair, if it was a larger amount, would have been salvagable, but as a thin layer it appearently just means that the maker of this chair was a bit cheap! Which, maybe isn’t too strange – it is a late 30s or early 40s chair, so I can imagine the maker being mindful of the cost.

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Under the downtrodden seat batting, there was a burlap like cushion, stuffed with what looks like hay.  I’m not sure it is, but several of the other people in my class found something similar in their own chairs, so whatever it is, it’s normal. Removing another layer of burlap-like fabric because of big worn holes at the front, edges and sides, revealed the springs:

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Unfortunately, most of them had to go too. The three 7-coil springs in the back were ok since it’s the point of least stress in the seat, and will be reinstalled. The front 3 rows of coils will all be replaced by new ones. We measured the rows at the top of the coils, so we know what height they get reinstalled at. The final task of the evening was to remove the ribbons at the bottom of the seat, that the coils have been attached to, and my god were they dusty! I could brush away a 1/4″ layer of dust and fabric fuzz! Which reminds me to do a solid vacuuming of the two chairs I still have in the apartment…

This was so much fun! I am beyond excited to be rebuilding this from the ground up, and I find it fascinating to peel away layer upon layer and see how this thing is constructed. For next weeks class I’ll be having a go at the layers of lacquer and stain on the woodwork, removing it the best I can. It involves scraping off layers with a sharp knife, sanding, and washing it down with a chemical solution (outside, mask on), to remove the last dregs. This process is similar to a lot of sewing projects and alterations – it has to look much worse before it gets better!

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working on…

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… a tan! You see, I’ve taken myself a proper vacation, so John and I have been visiting his family for a couple of weeks. The weather has been great, so we’ve gone swimming in lakes and oceans, relaxed, eaten (always so much eating!), and worked up a tan. I’m totally a darker shade of pale now.

And I’ve had a few projects to work on as well – the knitting in the picture, which will stay secret until it is living with its recipient, but also that mustard-colored dress I mentioned in a previous post. All of a sudden I realized how little time I have to make that dress (a week and a half! Not enough time to troubleshoot the drafting and make a muslin), so I’ve spent part of my vacation making a wearable muslin. That’ll come soon, but first I have one last day of vacation and family to enjoy!

a new addition to my bernina collection

imageLook who I brought with me home last night! I was happy that my friend thought of me when she was upgrading her overlocker, so now I have taken over this beauty! I’ve been increasingly seeing a gap in what I want to do and what I can do on my sewing machine. Knits for example – my trusty Earl doesn’t actually have an elastic stitch, so sewing with knits has been a little difficult.

I think my next project will be the Totara dress, a summery dress of my own design that I’m working on publishing. Let’s call this beta pattern testing, so I’m sure there will be a couple of these dresses coming up, which will be quick makes with this serger all lined up!

our low-key christmas tree

So low-key I only have cell-phone pictures!

wpid-20121214230449926The first night of decorating we put up gingerbread hearts and ornaments we already had on hand.

I really loved Solveig’s recent advent calendar, which includes both an activity, as well as hanging one ornament on the christmas tree every day. So when we picked ourselves up a small tree a couple of weeks ago, that was my plan (already a late start being a good week and a half into the advent period, oh well!). We don’t have a tree-stand, but John fashioned a makeshift one out of a bucket and an upside down metal lamp shade. I tell you, he’s pretty crafty this man of mine.

Anyways, that went pretty well with my desire for really low-key christmas tree decorating. I wanted to do something like Solveig with a couple of decorations a day, but it sort of fell apart after a week. No worries! We still put stuff on the tree, and I’m happy with how non-stressful it still was. Gingerbread-decorating with the girls provided the hearts; John and I did some papercutting one night; I found ribbons in a box looking for something completely different, so those went up too; a dried flower; some ornaments we already had; and of course the popcorn-chain we made while watching Lewis the night before leaving. All in all it’s a charming, funny little tree! No lights though. Maybe we’ll get some tree-lights when we decide to be grown-ups and get a proper tree-stand as well. I couldn’t tell you when that’ll be.

IMG_0130All done!

I’m sorry there are no detailed pictures, we snapped this one right before leaving to get on the train. Note the printer and the easter egg to the left, and the gifts in a bag and traditional knit sweater to the right! This is real-life christmas straight from our apartment. And on that note, I’d like to wish all of you a peaceful and lovely holiday, and I’ll see you all in the new year!

designing knits, part 2

Picking up where I left off: My yarn arrived, I’ve cast on, and started knitting! The yarn is as soft and delicious as I remember – and yes, it will pill a little since it’s so soft. That’s the nature of the beast for a single ply merino wool, but it’s a trade-off I’ve chosen to deal with to gain the soft feel, the drape, and the pattern effect. Actually, that leads me nicely into what I wanted to share about the process of designing this top: compromises.

That doesn’t really sound like a good thing in designing, but here’s the deal – knitting this lace top the way my original pattern is written would be somewhat convoluted, and probably a little irritating. Let’s go back to how I made the pattern in the first place: I used a soft jersey to drape the top on a dressform to the look that I wanted, then transferred that to a paper pattern. Knowing my gauge from having knit my sample, it was just a matter of marking all the places that had changes in angles (like the waist, or the tip of the shoulder, or the collar line for example), measure the distances, and calculate the amount of rows and stitches that needed to change in between all those points. It was quite a lot of math work, but I think it was a pretty accurate way of coming up with the shaping of the garment.

Now, I followed these numbers accurately. This meant counting rows all the time, and in order to keep track of where I was, I kept having to note on my pattern what row of the 8 row pattern-repeat the next increase or decrease would happen on, so I knew I was on the right row. One decrease might happen on row 5 of the repeat, then I had to count 17 rows and make sure the next decrease in fact was on row 6 of the repeat, and so on.

I don’t think most knitters would find that approach very enjoyable, or logical, or clear. So here is where my compromises come in: in order to make it easier and less frustrating for the knitter, I am choosing to move the decreases and increases to always be at the same point in the pattern repeat. That way, all you have to count is how many of those repeats to go before the next decrease. Yes, the shaping won’t be as optimal as the original, but the tradeoff is a pattern that is better to work with. In the end, I think moving a decrease 3 or 4 rows won’t make too significant of a change to warrant a more knitpicky kind of counting.

Any other pet peeves in knitting from patterns? Mine is knitting in sections and sewing the back and fronts together when it could just be knit in one piece from the start!

corners of my home, pt. 4 – my sewing corner

Breezes are coming through open doors and windows, it smells like fresh cut grass, and an enthusiastic game of soccer is happening somewhere out there, out of sight, but making up the noises of summer.

While I’m enjoying a week of vacation back in my home town, my sewing corner as I am showing it to you, is soon a thing of the past. We’re moving apartments in a week, so things are looking a bit more like this corner of my home post from six months ago – boxes everywhere!

Still, I wanted to show you where I’ve had my little sewing nook in this apartment. The bedroom is a long room, so we stuck the mirrored wardrobe in the middle, and created a walk-in-wardrobe slash sewing space.

A thrift-store table, recovered chair, a lamp, a shelf for my patterns, boxes filled with notions and supplies, and jars for my spools of thread, and some hooks for my scissors. It’s not much, but I’ve been very pleased with having found space for my sewing stuff. And… how can I forget those boxes on the floor overflowing with fabrics and projects! Very stylish, I know.

My favorite part must be the hooks for the scissors. I didn’t realize my scissors matched so well – or, that they happened to be organized by size that day!

(From the left is my super-heavy paper scissors, a pair of 10″ KAI scissors, my 9″ all around Ginghers, and another KAI, 8″. Um yes, I love my KAI’s. Best scissors ever.)

I feel like you get into this strange little bubble when you take apart the home you’ve made for yourself in one place, to pack it down, carry, and reassemble in another space. It’s a little stressful, but I’m looking forward to setting up in a new apartment with (spoiler alerts!) a view, daylight, and hopefully soon, a little kitten too!

happy easter

Easter in my windowsill: painted eggs on branches, with cranes and mountains in the background.

Happy easter everyone! We have almost a week off for easter here in Norway, so I’ve been spending it with lots of good food, beer, and wine; mountain hikes; knitting and sewing; fires in the woodstove; reading; and of course – painting some eggs.

The painting of the eggs was kind of a mitigated success:  we didn’t have a very good technique for blowing those eggs so it felt like it took forever, and I even managed to break one before we got started! But eventually we could decorate our brown eggs (we get our eggs at the health food store, and I didn’t even think about the brown-ness of the eggs!) with some watercolors and some markers, and hang them in our little vase full of twigs. And John has got a new fancy phone from his new fancy job, so of course we’re playing around with that as well. Taking pictures of our beautifully decorated eggs!

Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter weekend!