29 June 2009

27 June 2009

**Update** Two things I forgot to mention:
1) If you need an idea of how long it takes to make a rug, I am estimating that I've put approximately 8 hours into my rug so far. I've been working on it in the evenings while watching movies with Ryan, so it seems like no time. :)
2) If you use old sheets or any fabric that is cotton, this rug is completely washable!

"Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful. But if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful." -Shaker design philosophy

I'm working on a rag rug. My first.

The colors alone make it a therapeutic experience, not to mention how satisfying it is to see something I am making come together to become something useful and lovely!

May I share my experience with you?

The first think to know, I suppose, is whether you want to make a braided rug or a crocheted rug. I'll tell you that they both have their delights and drawbacks and that you shouldn't let a lack of crochet education keep you from giving it a whirl. In fact, if you want to learn, this may be the best way - it's on a HUGE scale, like working under a magnifying glass, so it's easy to see what's going on. I am crocheting my rug, but my sister is actually quite satisfied to be braiding hers.

If you want to braid your rug, this is a great site to read.

If you want to crochet, well, you've come to the right place! (Seriously, let me assure you that it's really very simple to learn. I just taught my girlfriend down the street last week and she's already finished with her rug - now, her only child is still in the "oven", she's got the summer off and she already had all her fabric lined up, so don't let her speediness intimidate you!)

Alright, enough chit chat. Let's get started.

What you'll need for a 3' round or 2'x3' rug:
:: 5-8 yards of 100% cotton fabric, cut or torn (my preferred method!) into roughly 1 1/2" strips
:: a P- or Q-sized crochet hook (I used a "p" for this rug, but I think I'll try a "q" next time.)
:: a sewing machine (ideal), a handy stitch (better than nothing) or a needle and thread and the patience of a crocodile (less than ideal)

How to make it happen:

1} Gather your fabric. This really goes without saying, but chose fabrics with interesting colors that will work well in the room for which the rug is intended. (A few tips: the more pattern, the more interesting, and, the actual pattern doesn't matter at all, only the colors will be apparent.)

I wanted the main colors of my rug to be based off the Wonderland line by Moda fabrics. (My rug is for in front of my kitchen sink.) So, I bought one honey bun, which includes 40 strips that are 1 1/2" x 44", one of each of the fabrics in the line.

(Another tip: You can buy these for under $20 on Ebay which is much less than you can buy them in online stores, but be warned, 40 strips won't get you very far. You'll need to buy a TON of honey buns, or else subsidize the rug with other solids and coordinating patterns purchased on the cheap.)

Fat Quarter Shop - they sell honey buns of Moda fabrics directly
EBay's Honey Bun stock - I see some on there going for $7.99 with free shipping right now. Some brands are cheaper than others.

I also found bed sheets at yard sales in colors/patterns that worked well as well as a great amount of scrap fabric. Honestly, you could use old pajama pants if you wanted to.

There was seriously something so aesthetically wonderful about just holding this and quietly unravelling it. The colors were just remarkable.

2} Tear all your fabric into 1 1/2" strips. Please don't waste your time measuring each one, or cutting each one if you can avoid it. It's a rag rug, and part of it's beauty is in the glorious messiness. If you're using a "Q" hook, you can make your strips even as wide as 2" or 2 1/2". This will just make a chunkier rug. I usually just use scissors to snip every 1 1/2" across the top of a piece of fabric, then use those leads to tear it from there. It's actually sort of satisfying!

When you're finished you will have piles of strips and fabric dust everywhere. Aaachoooo! :)

(Note: if you only have a bit of fabric to start out, or you want to get going before you commit to tearing up all your nice fabric, just do a little and go back to the tearing step when you need more strips.)

3} Sew the strips together. For this next step, it really is ideal to use a sewing machine. If you do not have access to a machine, I think the best thing to do is to use scissors and snip 1" "button holes" near the ends of two of the strips (well call them A and B). Send fabric B through the slit a the end of fabric A, then loop B's tail around and pull it through B's slit. (I really hope that made sense - it did in my mind. Eeee.)

So, if you have access to a sewing machine, your goal is to make one very loooong strip (you can think of it as your yarn to crochet). You'll be sewing these strips end to end, facing each other with about 1/4" - 1/2" seam allowance. I ran mine through the sewing machine as randomly as possible, stitching the top of B to the bottom of A, then the top of C to the bottom of B.

You'll come out with a chain of loops. And, if you did it properly (and I have no reason to doubt that you wouldn't!), you will Voila be able to snip the little bits of thread in between each one and it will become one loooonnng strip.!

(Time for another tip! You can have decent control over the pattern of your rug if you decide to stitch together only what you know you'll need at a time. I wanted the center of my rug to have all the same fabric, so I stitched a bunch of one particular pattern together at the beginning. I could have just done all the brown until I was satisfied with the center, then brought my little wimpy rug over to the sewing machine, and sewed more strips onto the tail of what was left. This is a hard project to mess up.)

No pressure. :)

4} Get to work with your crochet hook! Now, at this point it's ideal to have some crochet experience. You don't have to be an expert (believe me, I'm not), but you do need to be able to crochet single crochet stitches into the main chain. If not, this video is one of many online resources for learning. You can also probably find good instructional books with lots of pictures at your local library.

If you want to make an oblong rug like mine, start with about 20 links down the center, then turn the corner and start to single crochet your way back. You'll just keep going around and around, adding extra chain stitches every few stitches when you're rounding the corners.

If the rug is getting wavy, you take out a few stitches by skipping a stitch here and there. If it is curling up on you, make an extra stitch here and there. There's no real hard and fast pattern, and there's beauty in that imperfection.

5} To finish it off (when it's the size that you want, or when you need to step away for a week or a year) tie the tail that is left into the main rug and snip off the end. Hurrah!

(This is what I have so far. I'm thinking of finishing it off with a few rows of that brown that I used in the middle. Wonder if EBay has a good price on it...)

Okay, I really really hope this makes sense. It's entirely possible that you've gotten to this point and you just want to forget my shoddy instructions and just google it. I'm at peace with that too! :) In fact, I am attaching a few helpful resources below!

A video:

If you can read crochet pattern code (I can't!), here's a good pattern.
Want to crochet a rag rug out of old t-shirts? Try this! (Thanks, Ginger!)

Will you please share your rugs with me when as you work on them? I'd LOVE to see!

Happy color!

Some weeks are better than others. This was sort of a rough week, so it's no surprise that Saturday morning followed suit.

(Wow, I just reread that and realized that I totally sound like Debbie Downer!)

Let me start over.

I've been sick with a terrible cold since about Wednesday. You know the drill, tired, coughing, no voice, head about to explode, you get my drift. So even this morning I wasn't feeling much like bargain hunting. But, the good news is, I managed to turn up three happy finds for only $4. It wasn't a high roller day, but these little finds sure did make me feel a bit better!

Wanna see?

$1 - A blue twin sheet set. I'm sure you can guess what I plan to do with these! And, let it be writ, I plan to write all about my rag rug with details about how you can make your own none other than TOMORROW! Even if it's not finished by then, I'll share what I have!

$1 - 2 beautiful, very old waist aprons. I think I'll give one to my sister. Just for love. (The apron that is pictured is the one I'm keeping!)

And, my tuck-and-run find of the day:

$2 - This lovely skirt. I plan to wear it to church tomorrow! It makes me very happy!

And, now, I'd like to begin a new Saturday morning tradition. I really love following all the links you leave, getting to know you all and seeing what great finds you, well, find! Last Saturday I read through all your purchases, and while there were some fantastic bargains, I would like to announce the very first...

Bargain of the Week!

This week, the Gypsy Mamma found a sand box boat for $20!! Now, since I forgot to ask her permission to copy and use the photo, you'll have to follow this link to see it for yourself. Talk about tuck-and-run!!

Congratulations, Lisa-Jo!

Oh, and one more thing before Mr. Linky. I just wanted to show you what I'm doing with that long wooden candle holder I found a few weeks ago for $1.00.

Isn't that lovely?

Pottery Barn was selling these yellow candles on sale for $3.99 apiece today (they smell phenomenal!), and the place mat was also $3.99 at PB. Not necessarily garage sale prices, but a nice bargain nonetheless. You do know how I feel about the 2009 Pantone Color of the Year, don't you?

Okay, on to Mr. Linky. I'm looking forward to reading about your finds (I hope you haven't given up on me because I'm posting this at 6:30pm!) and picking a next week's "Bargain of the Week"!

25 June 2009

Oliver and I planted sugar snap peas in our front landscaping (classy, I know) this spring. I figured he was old enough to learn about reaping and sowing and such.

As we planted the seeds I talked to him about why we thank God for our food at mealtimes (he had recently announced that he didn't need to thank God for his food). We talked about God providing for us by sending the sunshine and the rain to make things grow and I was pretty sure he was grasping the general concept.

Then a week later I found him relieving himself on one of the bushes and joyfully exclaiming, "Make it grow and grow!"

Um, close.

So, today Oliver asked if we could pick some of the peas to see how they taste. We took a small colander out to the front of our house and I let him pluck seven pea pods.

We brought them inside, cleaned them off (who knows what other plants Oliver has been making "grow and grow"?), and got to work popping them open. We had a lovely time counting the peas in their shells, talking about which ones were Papa Peas and Mama Peas and Baby Peas. (There was even a Granddad Pea and a Groovy Pea) :)

I'd say the sugar snap peas were a success! We learned about how things grow, we counted, we talked about big and small, and we ate some deliciously sweet peas!

Thank you, Lord, for your bountiful provisions!

24 June 2009

We don't watch a lot of television in our home. Oliver watches even less than we do.

But sometimes...

when I need to cook dinner or just a quiet moment...

I'll set him up with my laptop so he can watch construction videos on YouTube...

like this one:


23 June 2009

This week my newish friend Sarah from Oh, the Possibilities! nominated me for my very first blog award.

Sarah and I haven't met in real life because, well, she lives in Australia. You may remember the sweet gift she sent me for Mother's Day this year? Sarah is also the co-founder of Whispered Support, which is a great organization that provides practical and emotional support for parents who have lost little ones. (Can you see why I like this gal so much??)

So, Sarah has nominated me for the Honest Scrap Award.

I am supposed to tell you 10 things about me that you may not already know. Hm... since I tend to be fairly open on my blog, this may take some digging. Let's see...

1} I am left handed. So were 2/3 of the fellas I dated in high school (I only dated three guys). And, for the record, Ryan was/is one of the lefties. Bummer that Oliver is a righty! (That was like 4 facts all in one, wasn't it? I'm doing great!)

2} I love white flowers best of all - especially tulips and hydrangeas. Many of my friends know this about me, so when Evie was stillborn last year, we came home from the hospital with lots of white flower arrangements. I have really lovely friends.

3} I have an unhealthy obsession with Sudoku. (Yes, I can have very nerdy tendencies.) When things get too stressful and I need to disappear for a bit, I open up my dashboard widget and get to work. And, since we've had a overly eventful year and a half (what Ryan and I optimistically refer to it as a "rough patch"), I must say I've become highly skilled at the game. My best time on a level four (diablo) game is 4:35.

4} Longevity runs in my family. I had 4 great-grandparents living until I was nearly twenty years old. They were each almost 100 when they died of old age.

5} The only pet I would ever agree to owning is a large breed dog. They're great protectors, not yappers, and great with climbing children. I'm not a cat person, or a small dog person. Woof. (But, tell us how you really feel, Raechel...)

6} I spend more time reading my friends' blogs than I do reading my Bible. I am beet red just writing that, but it's true. I know which will be more useful for my family and for myself (and, which is more God-honoring), but I don't always make that right choice. I am not perfect, I am learning.

7} I have a bachelor's degree in Housing and Environmental Design. I used this degree for one year, as a Interior Design Assistant at Ethan Allen. It was glorious. Now I am enjoying a quite fulfilling role as Domestic Engineer in my little home. We will be paying on those school bills for years, but I'm grateful that I have that education. Maybe some day I'll use it again. I sure do love that work!

8} I am funny about my closet. Several years ago I bought about a hundred wooden hangers from Ikea and the obsession has taken off from there. Now things are on wooden hangers, color coded, and sometimes I even go in there to even out the spacing between things. Weird, yes. It's a control thing, I guess.

9} It is probably safe to say that I have cried (anything from a single tear to several buckets) approximately 150 of the past 365 days. Maybe that's too personal, but it's true. I am full of joy and that joy is apparent in my life as well, but I am still grieving. This is a part of my balance, I guess. When I am sad about Evie or our other two miscarriages this year, I go ahead and feel it and then move on. I don't hide my tears from Oliver (I think it's important for him to have this example of healthy grief), but I rarely find myself crying when he's around. He is one of my greatest joys!

10} I have never left the United States apart from brief excursions across the border to Canada and the Bahamas. Never to Europe - or Australia, for that matter! I've always wanted to see these places, and have had to turn down a few opportunities simply because I don't have a passport and there wasn't enough time to apply for one. If I could pick, I think the first place I'd go would be Ireland.

11} My Mom just read this and reminded me of one other interesting bit that very few people know about me. I am a second generation American! My Mom's Daddy came to America from Belgium when he was eighteen years old. You can actually see some Belgian traits in Oliver's bone structure, especially when he's working very seriously. :)

Well, how's that for Honest Scrap?

And now, I have the great pleasure of nominating a few folks myself:

Natalie Eve - because she's been hanging around "Finding My Feet" for a while now and always leaves such nice, sweet comments
Christine - because she loves cats and only tolerates large breed dogs. Plus, she smells nice.
Katy - because she knows all about how much I love white flowers

22 June 2009

For your viewing pleasure, a few photos I snapped of my handsome little guy at church yesterday. Isn't he something? (There's no chance I'm a little biased, is there?)

And, for your tasting pleasure (or, simply for your viewing pleasure again if you aren't interested in making this), one of the favorite recipes I inherited when I married Ryan.

His Mama (my mother-in-law) makes THE BEST salsa and this is her recipe. I chopped some up for Ry this afternoon. I swear it disappears faster than I can make it!

Bev's Delicioso Salsa
12 Roma tomatoes
1/2 C fresh cilantro
1 onion
5 drops tobasco
1 T vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
grated lemon rind
1/2-1T garlic salt
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1/4 t cumin

Fine chop all ingredients and combine.
(I'll confess that I used a Vidalia Chop Wizard - a gift from my MIL - and that I am not THAT good at chopping!)

Happy Monday!!

20 June 2009

I know it seems like all I talk about is garage sales lately, and while I do love a good bargain, let me reassure you that there is more to my life than Saturday mornings. Truth is, there's SO MUCH more, that I can hardly find time or will to post any other day of the week.

Perhaps this week will be different. Maybe I'll write about something deeper or more personal. Maybe not. I am having to sort through some pretty heavy matters right now, so frankly, talking about spaghetti servers and button jars is just easier. And, fortunately, it is also a fun and productive way to serve my family. I love making home nice for my boys and our guests!

Here are some of the best things I found while I was out this morning:

$2.00 - Four (vintage?) bowls with hand painted lemons on them. I love these!
$3.00 - A brass hose nozzle (ours just broke, so this came just in time!), some bone meal for planting bulbs in the fall, week killer and weed/grass killer. I was due to buy all of these, so I was thrilled to find them at a moving sale, even if they are only half full.

$0.50 - Believe it or not, I actually came across another brand new Handy Stitch (the handheld sewing machine I bought last week). I lent the one I have to my girlfriend Katie this week and she liked it so much she said if I ever found another one to pick it up for her. Who knew I'd find another one so quickly! And, for fifty cents!!

$0.25 - "My Big Truck Book" - I absolutely love the Priddy Books, and Oliver is, of course, a huge fan of all things big and noisy. We have three or four books very similar to this already (they all have about the same photos in them), but it still brings him GREAT joy to sit down and read his "new" book over and over all afternoon.
$2.00 - more scrap fabric, fusible interfacing, candle wick thread and a Simplicity pattern for kids lounge pants. I think I'm getting closer to finishing my little project (and, yes, many of you guessed correctly - it is a RAG RUG!). As soon as it's finished (probably this week, for sure :) ), I'll post all about the details and about how you can make one for yourself!

$0.25 - "3 Hours of Listening Pleasure with Beethoven", a 4-record set. I don't have a record player, but I know a certain someone whose home is almost constantly filled with the sounds of vinyl on a turntable. And, since I'm expecting a visit from that someone and her charming family in just a few weeks, I thought I'd pick it up on the outside chance they might enjoy taking it home with them.
$1.00 - A brushed silver lamp with a white shade. We are working to pull our poor, poor guest room together for company this summer, and a lamp was one of the things on the checklist. And the best part, I got the "well done" nod from my husband. Love that nod! Love spending a dollar for a great lamp too!

$0.50 - a bouquet of blue silk hydrangeas. There is a plan for these, I knew it when I saw them. I'll share about that when I can.

$0.50 - Ten more green glass bubble votives like the one I got for free last week. I have an evening outdoor party planned for next month, I think these will provide cool lighting with tealights in them.
$0.50 - A box of nearly 20 off-white taper candles from Crate & Barrel. We go through these like crazy at our dinner table, especially when we are hosting company. It's good to add these nice white tapers to my stock. There's just nothing like candlelight to make a home feel relaxed and welcoming.
$0.05 - A wooden spaghetti server. I'm very excited about this!
$0.10 - A J.J.Cole pacifier holder - it velcros around your diaper bag strap so it's always easy to find. We loved having one with Oliver, so I picked up this one for my friend Katie who's expecting a baby boy (her first) in August.
$0.10 - A tiny mason jar for storing spare buttons in my laundry room. Another thing that's just been on my list to find.
$0.10 - A small calculator to keep in my purse for use at the grocery store. My cell phone has a calculator, but it's miserable to use. This will be very handy, I think.

Okay, so there is a tie this week for the "tuck-and-run find of the day".
Here are the winners, I'd love to hear which one you think is a better find!

$2.00 - Two pool loungers with carrying bags that I had actually considered buying at Target for $16 apiece last summer (yeah, I was planning to spend over $32...). I would share a photo of them here, but after enjoying them at the pool with the boys this afternoon, we left them there with some friends who were sticking around so they could enjoy them as well. Oliver likes to pretend they're boats!

$1.00 - A gorgeous lantern that I will be installing next to our front door this afternoon. We still have the standard, brass builder's fixtures on the front of our house, so this will be a definite upgrade. I think I'll wait until it cools down a bit though before I tackle the switcharoo.

Okay, I think that's it for this week. Did y'all have any luck? I really loved getting to read about all the treasures you found last weekend!

Give Mr. Linky your information so we can come and see what you've got!