Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Clothespin Hangups

You may have noticed the cheery clothespins that appeared in yesterday’s photo and wondered about them. They are so easy to make. All you need are some wooden clothespins, a selection of paints, and a little imagination. I used the old-fashioned ones, but the more modern wooden ones would be fine too. If you’re having trouble finding the older type, try your local craft store. I used polka-dots but there are all kinds of other patterns to try. You could glue a small magnet on the back and use them to pin notes on your fridge. Turned upside-down and secured to a base they make whimsical place-name holders for a table setting or a place to keep a pretty postcard, card, photo or message.

Note: If you’re going to use them outdoors make sure you give them a coat of waterproof varnish. And if you are going to use them to hang laundry, then a coat of varnish will keep the paint from dissolving all over your damp clothes!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Orphaned Mittens

Whenever I visit a thrift shop I make it my mission to rescue orphaned mittens. I almost always find at least one pair. That they end up as cast offs in a thrift shop, marked 99 cents, is enough to break your heart. I value the time and effort some unknown knitter has taken to make them, not to mention their undeniable charm. They are all different, some from more skilled hands than others, but the variations on a similar theme just make them all the more dear. And so I buy them and give them a good home. By the way, there is nothing warmer than a pair of knit mittens, especially when you wear one pair inside the other. Trust me, I know, and I’ve lived through enough Canadian winters to prove it.

All this talk of orphaned mittens reminds me of an art installation I saw several years ago, called The Lost Mitten Project. The artist, Karina Bergmans, began collecting lost mittens during the winter of 2002/2003. Lost mittens are a common sight in my snow-bound city. Just the other day I encountered two different lost mittens on my way to the bus stop, a few blocks from each other. I usually scoop them up and place them at eye-level (on a newspaper box, or ledge) in the hope that the owner will spot them on their return trip.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jewellery Organizer

In keeping with my constant efforts to be organized I decided it was high time I tackled the tangle of jewellery I keep in a drawer. Hidden away, I almost never remember to wear any of it. Why not display it in some way that I could see at a glance, while rushing to get out in the morning, if there was something that might embellish my outfit that day? And so I did, and it turned out to be quite simple. I painted the frame of a bulletin board gold and then pinned my jewellery to the board with straight pins. At some point I may paint the corkboard too for more colour.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Looking for Beauty

In the midst of a recent winter transit strike, as I trudged to work along snow clogged sidewalks, I was looking for something uplifting wherever I could find it. And I did – in the form of a dried Queen Anne’s Lace bloom, frosted over with hoar frost. A study in blues. It was a reminder that one can find something to appreciate even in the most challenging of times.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tree Spirits

Down at the beach there are photo opportunities beyond the usual sand, sky and water shots. In places, the shoreline has marshes with grasses whose colours have turned mellow gold. I really don’t know what drew me to take this photograph, perhaps it was the bark’s interesting texture. Looking at the image on the computer screen I was astounded by all the creatures that were staring back at me. There’s an owl, a dinosaur’s head, a crocodile and an upside down "jackalope", also a couple of snakes. How odd! How much else is out there that we look at and yet never see?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rhapsody in Blue

Sometimes beauty is right in front of you, just waiting for you to look up and notice it. After a morning spent hunched over my computer at work, I turned my head and glanced out my office window. I was astounded. A scene I see five days a week had been suddenly transformed into a tapestry of blues. It must have been the combination of snow and light levels at that particular moment. To think I might have missed it.

Look up, right now. What scene did you almost miss?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Skirt Tote Bag

As you’ve probably already surmised, given the title of this post, this whimsical tote bag was made from two skirts. I loved the pattern on each of these thrift-shop finds and thought they might make nice tote bags. Since they were going for bargain prices, I thought I’d give it a try and so I brought them home with me. Somewhere along the way, instead of making two bags I combined them to make one that is reversible. I’m quite pleased with the result.

To make:

Cut a couple of inches off the bottom of each skirt. Sew these two pieces together to make a strap. Sew each skirt separately at the bottom. Put one skirt inside the other (seams of both inward) and pin the strap in place between the two skirt tops. Next, sew the top edges of the skirts together. Sew the area where the strap is attached several times to reinforce. To keep the top closed when in use, you can add Velcro, a button, or a couple of snaps.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stem Cell Growth?

Imagine my surprise as I cut into this seemingly ordinary Red Delicious apple. There was someone staring back at me! What a marvelous little creature. Of course it is just a stem that happened to grow this way by chance. Or is it?

Look at those eyes, those chubby cheeks, that furry nose and mouth. I have extricated the little fellow from his transient apple home and he is presently living quite happily in a tiny glass in the cupboard above the kitchen sink.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Summer Envy

It’s cold and damp and there was a dusting of snow overnight. Oh how I look forward to actually be using this straw bag once again. Its cheery blue and white floral interior beckons me, reminding me of blue skies and wispy clouds. I am imagining it filled with summer time paraphernalia: sunglasses, sunscreen, towel, novel for reading at the beach, bottle of lemonade, and perhaps a pad and pencils for quick sketching. Thinking warm sunny thoughts!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Old Quilt: $1.50

Church rummage sales can be wonderful things. Some are better than others, it’s true. I like the ones that aren’t too organized. When you have to really poke through everything there’s more chance that you’re going to find something which the person before you missed. And it’s more likely that the items will be priced ridiculously low. Such was the case at the rummage sale where I picked up this vintage quilt. The lady with the cash box looked it over and only saw the rips and tears and all the places where the cotton stuffing was sticking out. “$1.50” she pronounced. To her it was nothing more than a rag, something you might use as a painter’s drop cloth. But when I looked at it I saw a piece of someone’s history, made of the fabrics of life.

I turned to a quilter friend for any information she could give me about it. With help from her copy of Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide, 1800-1960 by Eileen Jahnke Trestain, Nita estimated that my quilt dates somewhere between 1910 and 1940. She explained that it’s a utility quilt, made from scraps that most likely date to various times.

This well-worn quilt was meant to be used rather than to show off someone’s quilting skills. And used it is. Thrift was likely the motivation behind the use of all these scraps of material. Since quilts like this were often made during tough times, maybe this quilt was created during the Depression. The dates would make it seem likely. Never mind that it’s in pretty rough shape and will require lots of repairs, I think it is thoroughly charming!

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Beginnings

Spring is officially here… according to the calendar anyway. And with spring comes that feeling of newness, renewal and possibilities. For many, it’s the New Year that signals a chance to start over, to begin anew. For others, it’s the coming of spring with its abundance of examples of rejuvenation in nature. But for me, it has always been autumn that puts me in the mood for fresh starts and opportunities to go in unfamiliar directions.

Who can’t remember setting off to school that first morning in brand new shoes, carrying a school bag of unused school supplies? Excitement and nervousness all mixed up together. The pristine exercise books, brand-new crayons, and unsharpened pencils held such promise. I always made the same vow to myself... this year I would fill the lined pages with the neatest handwriting I could manage. And oh, the sense of disappointment the first time I made a mistake and had to cross out something I’d written.

Truth be told, I have been seriously thinking about blogging since last fall — my time for new beginnings. The project has filled my mind for many months but somehow never made its way to the top of my “To Do” list. Perhaps the promise of spring has me hankering to move on, to go somewhere different. Whatever it is, I am feeling the prod to get going stronger than ever. I have some idea of what I want to do here, but only time will reveal where this undertaking will eventually lead me.

And so... with a deep breath, I don my new shoes and set off on this journey, all the while hoping that I manage do so without marring my entries with mistakes that need to be scratched out!