Friday, 3 April 2009

Where to start?

Well, re-reading my last post, I am amazed at how much I have been doing since then. Including a major overhaul of our living room which will finally give me somewhere to display most of my dollshouses.

After quilting the last wallhanging, I finally was able to put away the quilting frame. It disassembles and the long rails go in my closet, while the other bits tuck away here and there under the bed etc. What a huge difference, my bedroom instantly seemed 1.5 times bigger and brighter. Which inspired me to do more tidying up, including finally doing something with my rulers. Up until now they have been living in an untidy heap piled on top of a little grooved wooden ruler holder which was completely inadequate, and I could never find the one I wanted. I was looking with frustration around my bedroom, trying to figure out where I could put the darn things, when my eye fell on the one door that didn't already have something attached to the inside surface. A hammer and several nails later, and 'voila!'. Much better, although I have to close the door carefully.

Last Saturday DH and DS went up to London, so I had a lovely day to myself. I immediately took over the dining table and started work on a project I kept from American Miniaturist magazine a few years ago. It was an article about a club who had converted little Coca-Cola tins into 1/48th scale cafes and soda fountains. I thought it was so cute, and immediately bought a similar tin on Ebay. Recently I have been collecting together the materials I needed for the insides, including some scrapbooking bits I picked up at the Olympia Stitch and Craft show a few weeks ago. I made all the wallpaper and graphics on the computer. Working all morning, I was able to create the two floors, apply wallpaper, ceiling and floor papers and line the inside of the door with a vintage graphic. That's as far as I've got so far, so furnishing still to come, although I've popped in a few chairs and the jukebox I made from instructions in the article to give you the idea.

In the week, I put the last few stitches into an applique block that has been kicking around for ages, block 13 of my 25-block applique quilt (the one I was going to finish in a year, ha ha ha). This is a block from 'Grandmother's Last Quilt'.

I finished sewing the binding on the jellyroll quilt, so it is completely done now and I will take it to work next week to give to my colleague. He wants to give me something for it, and wouldn't take no for an answer. I hardly know what to say, if I told him how much I have spent on materials he would probably faint. I think I will just leave it up to him to decide what he wants to give, even though I tried to tell him that it was reward enough that it would go to a good home. The quilting is large meandering in the centre, with a scrolling feather in the border.

Knitting update: I have spent most of this week fighting with 'Hey Teach'. I have done some lace knitting before, not a lot, and I am perfectly fine working with whole repeats. Once you take off the stitches for the neckline, you are left with partial repeats on the two fronts. I bumbled my way through the right front because I only had a partial repeat on the armhole side. The lefthand side has two partial repeats, and I must have ripped it out about 15 times because I keep going wrong. And frustratingly, I thought I was getting it for a few inches when I realised I had forgotten to take off the stitches for the neckline and had to rip back again, groan! I understand the concept of matching increases and decreases, but the actuality is quite tricky. I am currently about halfway up the left front on my nth attempt - the yarn is quite grubby from the constant reknitting. But I'm not ripping it out...

So what is happening with my living room? Well, you may have gathered that I have a 'few' dollshouses. We moved into this house five years ago, and there has never been a good place for them to live apart from one which sits at the top of the stairs on the landing. The rest have floated awkwardly around, perched on other pieces of furniture, balanced on top of cupboards, and the Greenleaf has been in my bedroom since I moved it out of the kitchen. A few weeks ago there was a programme on TV here in the UK about miniaturists, and profiling an avid and wellknown miniaturist named Caroline Hamilton. I was stunned by the pictures of her real house, which was basically a showcase for her collection, with dollshouses everywhere. They were in the living room and on display shelves, not hidden away or balanced on top of cupboards. Since I have given up on us being able to afford to move to a bigger house, I had been toying with the idea of some kind of wall unit in the living room where I could store more of my hobby stuff, but after seeing that programme I realised I had been thinking too small...

Suddenly it all fell into place. I was at work, in the little kitchenette area getting a tea, when I suddenly realised the solution to an affordable modular wall unit was staring me in the face: kitchen cabinets. And kitchen countertop, the perfect solution for displaying 1/12th scale large heavy dollshouses. At first I was thinking Ikea, and sketching out options from their catalogue, but then I remembered a friend at work had sold her old cabinets on Ebay when she replaced her kitchen. I looked on Ebay, and there was a set of cabinets and worktop which would do just the trick, so I put a bid in. Only I lost the auction, which was depressing. But then the seller contacted me because the winner pulled out, and then I was the proud owner of an entire kitchen's worth of cabinetry for the mere sum of £102. We paid out another £70 to hire a van to go and fetch it, and meanwhile tore apart our entire living room (much to DS's disgust, as a lot of the stuff got piled in his playroom in his way). Here is a picture of some of the units just after we'd unloaded them into the living room and before I drew up my new plan. Amazingly, the cabinets match our other big wall unit, even though I thought they looked white in the Ebay photo, they are actually a birch wood finish which is perfect for us.

So we've spent every night this week working on this, with one trip to Ikea to buy a flat pack wardrobe and then assemble it, then screwing units to the wall and mounting the worktop (which amazingly was exactly the right length and shape - I tell you, this was meant to be).

There is still far too much junk in the way to get a proper photo, but here is a side shot of the rest of my big houses lined up in their final places. It is actually kind of daunting to see them all side by side like this - for one thing, none of them are finished. Hopefully having them out where I can see them and reach them is going to encourage me to get cracking. We still have to figure out how to hang a couple more wall units to accommodate all our books, but it is getting there. I have to say thank you to my DH who was not at all enthusiastic to begin with, particularly because of all the disruption and effort, but he had faith in my vision and is now quite pleased with how it is turning out. He is sad that we are having to sell the two antique cabinets we used to have at that end of the room, but they were dark wood and really closed the room in, as well as not being particularly efficient storage solutions. The new units are much lighter and the living room is going to look a lot brighter and more spacious, as well having much better storage for us. Although he did suggest that a more economical and easier solution would be to just get rid of all the dollshouses...


swooze said...

Wow! So much energy! Everything looks and sounds great. You have dollhouse UFOs?? EEP! Do I need to inquire about those every week too? LOL!!

Teresa said...

What a great idea and I love the picture of your village. Can't wait to see the finish redo once you have it completed.

Anonymous said...
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Susan said...

Hi - I just found your blog post while I was searching for information on quilting rulers. I notice you have a LOT - any suggestions where a person could find information on what the best quilting rulers are and how to judge what will work best for their crafting? The person I am asking for is NOT a quilter but a doll maker and does many other crafts. She is overwhelmed by the number of quilting rulers out there. She'd love a link to a blog that explains about the various kinds so she can figure out what will work for her. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!


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