another a maze ing day

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, lace/shawls

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the best thing about my visit with luci and scott last week was that we spent every available minute outside—even if it was just hanging out in the yard, bundled up to catch the rays. i even arrived at the craftsy shoot with some healthy color in my face from being outdoors.

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i would have gladly stayed with them longer, but by sunday, it was time for me to get back to denver  and prepare for my craftsy shoot on monday. not to leave things on a sober note, luci decided that we should get there by going the long way, stopping off in estes park and the rocky mountain national park, before heading to denver on the peak to peak scenic byway.

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any first time stop in estes park should probably include a peek at the stanley hotel, where stephen king conceived his novel, the shining. luci and scott stayed here one night in the winter.

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we walked around a little bit inside, which indeed is imbued with a rather creepy atmosphere as well as possessing an air of shabby elegance.

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and no wonder really, as it receives a steady stream of tourists walking through its lobby and lower level.

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the newly completed hedge maze is just one of the features of the more beautiful surrounding grounds and the views from the hotel are pretty great. we didn’t stay long; they just thought i’d enjoy seeing it.

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up the road just a bit was the much more inviting and interesting rocky mountain national park, where just inside the grounds, we found a huge herd of grazing elk—now THAT was magnificent and we spent about thirty minutes just being there with them, taking photos and enjoying their quiet occupancy of the area.

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they were so close to the road you could practically pet them, though i didn’t think about doing anything that rude.

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this was one of the highlights of my whole trip.

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i did take a little video footage if you’d like to share the experience; truly just one of those quiet moments of awe and appreciation.

again, we caught this event as the sun was beginning to sink, so the light was fantastic; constantly changing and adding a new dimension of glow to this pasture.

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when we drove up a bit and turned the car around to leave, we saw that the light was even more gorgeous from the other direction so luci and i jumped out to snap a few last shots. what a sight . . .

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we took the peak to peak byway to denver, first driving through  thompson river canyon and the roosevelt national forest.

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this is a seriously amazing drive; in many sections the cliffs feel like that are tilting over the road. and just look at that blue sky—it reminds me of something i’ve just got started on the needles that is NOT for the blue club

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so i can share it here; isn’t it pretty? it is of course nona from none other than the brilliant jen of spirit trail fiberworks, corfu colorway. more about this later

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while my photos out the window of the back seat show you just a bit of how i saw the drive, you really should take a gander at luci’s film from 11/14; it’s a real front seat experience.

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you know how i love pine trees and the forest running alongside the road is some of the densest woodland i’ve ever seen.

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as the light paled, we found a spot to pull over and watch the sunset

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as my friend alice would say, trés great!

but what was really cool was that as the sun set on the right side of the road

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the moon popped up over the horizon on the left side—and nearly full, too—aMAZing

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it played a cat and mouse game with us all the way through our descent, as i tried over and over to get a good shot and finally we were in a position for scott to pull over so i could run across the road and take this photo.

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a little later i got this one too, from the moving vehicle

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and finally, my last shot of the day as dark truly enveloped the earth. soon after we entered denver and i was saying goodbye; it was such a wonderful visit, so good to spend time with these friends. i am very grateful that i get to keep in touch in person as a benefit of my work.

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the next morning i was up bright and early to get to the gym before my makeup call—stop that laughing!—when i’m away, i find i have more energy all day if start off with a run or some time on the bike (even if it’s an exercise bike).

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we put in some long, fast-paced days during a studio shoot, so i need all the help i can get; it’s a lot different work than my usual.

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and the closeness of all those lights can  be a little disorienting after all that natural light i soaked up over the weekend.

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it looks MUCH friendlier from your side of the camera, haha. but all went well and my producer, evan seemed very happy with our work. your should have access to the result in just a couple of weeks, from what i’m told.

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one of the perks of being in downtown denver is that there are plenty of good eats around—more than one could possibly appreciate in just a few days. on my last evening there i went to dinner with the delightful anita grossman-soloman, who has been described as the elizabeth zimmermann of quilting. she was so cute when she told me that story, because at the time it was said, she didn’t know who EZ was and she had to look it up, haha.

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we had a blast sitting at the chef’s bar in this nearby eatery while enjoying a wonderful dinner and watching the show. also teaching this time was faina goberstein, who i got to spend time with as well. we had a nice little knit n chat on our last morning; that’s when i got that blue lace shawl on the needles. later, we rode to the airport together.

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speaking of the trip home, with the sleeves completed, i decided to put my top aside for just a bit and start on a sleeve for another spring knit; i was ready for a change of pace and i enjoy having tandem projects. this one uses a motif from an early design, the curling mitts and cowl. i just love this pattern and while fooling around with our summer yarns in january, i realized it would translate really well into a fabric for warm weather garments.

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at the airport, i settled into a chair and cast on for the sleeve cuff; in no time i was changing needles and well into the lower sleeve.

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i’m knitting with our ginny sport yarn, which is a 3-ply cotton/alpaca/merino/nylon blend. erica likes to call it the cotton yarn for wool lovers and she’s right—it has all the delicious qualities of wool, plus the softness, sheen, and drape of high quality cotton.

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this sweater will be a looser-fit boyfriend sweater with that sexy motif running right up to the top of the sleeve and then down the front from the v-neck (not too deep, but not too high either). it’ll work great as a beach coverup or something to throw on when things get chilly at the beach or cabin. but it will be dressy enough to wear to dinner alone with dressy trousers or shorts. i just can’t wait to try this one on. our hempshaugh fingering yarn will also knit to the same gauge and drape, so i’m planning on knitting one of those for my own self, too.

can i just say?? these summer yarns are really something else; i just adore them. coincidentally i’d decided before my trip to name this one illas cíes, after an archipelago in the galicia national park in spain that is preserved as a true wild area, very difficult to get to and stay at. but the coastline there?? just stupendous. i hope some day i get to see it . . .

i can’t wait to show you more of what’s in the works for the spring collection; i am SO excited about it all. of course, i have to make it so i can share it right? which is just what i’m going to do for the next two+ weeks—design and knit. infant, i am most likely i flight as you read this, on my way to NYC. i have several designs that are well on their way and i’m terribly excited to be in the city to knit, design, and imagine the rest.

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on thursday, we’ll talk texture; i can’t wait.

park here

Posted on 8 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls

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what a difference a week makes! i’ve been away in colorado to film a new craftsy class, which will launch in the middle of march (more on that in a day or two). anyway, when i left, the view out our window was something like this

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every branch surrounding the house was laced with snow and the kids were home from school.

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well enough that the wind was howling and the weather was kind of nasty—i needed to buckle down and get my bags packed

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a big box of stepouts knit by dear cherie arrived just in time; i loved unpacking this treasure box from her hands to mine. i’d been working for weeks on the script with a supervisor and the producer, which resulted in a long list of things to bring—enough to fill a second large suitcase.

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it takes several days to gather and organize all the demonstration supplies, swatches, yarns and samples that i need for the shoot and if i forget anything in the way of knitting, i’m out of luck, since there is no time to make more once i get there.

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all the while i was eyeing the sample skein of our new better breakfast worsted that erica put in my hands the week before last and now lay quietly waiting for me to pay attention to it. man, do i want a hat out of this or what?? it’s SOOooo cozy! i had to be content with giving it a squeeze and hug every now and then—too much else to attend to.

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because of course there was my own knitting to organize and pack, as well as my clothes (which admittedly are usually the lowest priority, haha).

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and don’t even ask what my desk looks like these days—oops, i guess you don’t have to  . . .

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we had photos shorts scheduled for several outfits before i left and there was knitting to finish up too—the first installment of our IMMERSION club went out just days before i traveled and i wanted to get these mitts in erica’s hands as well, in case she would see the recipient and could pass them on. they are just the simplest type, but in our breakfast blend DK, perfect for their purpose.

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she and i got together to make a set of mitts, cowl, and ear warmer for our darling UPS guy brice, after he inquired about buying some mitts from us. apparently, he thinks they are the BOMB. well, we couldn’t pass up that opportunity could we? we will update you with modeling shots as soon as we can catch him (he’s quick when he’s working). just wait til you see how cute he is (is there really any other kind of UPS guy??)

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thankfully, everything got done in the nick of time and off i went. i worked on two projects during my flights—sleeves for a new top design that i’ll show you in a few days and made a little headway on my physalis shawl in stone soup fingering yarn.

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when i first cast this project on i was between things and needed a quick knit—i totally thought i’d have it done in a few days as i had the other two that i knit. but no. on the other hand, it’s become a bit of a comfort knit to pick up when i want something cozy in my hands that i know by heart (it looks complicated, but it’s not all that, really).

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and i love it in this heavier yarn—it’s so dramatic. even though it will be much more stunning once it’s blocked, it still draws lots of attention from onlookers who are dying to get a closer peek as i work on it. these leaves are going to be over the top bold when it’s done. i used size 9 (5.5 mm) needles for the hem and size 8 (5.0 mm) for the body; i’m knitting the medium size and it’s looking like i’ll use somewhere around one and a half skeins. it will probably block out to the same size as a large.

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while the ultimate purpose of my trip was to film a class, i managed to build in a few days beforehand to visit our great friends luci and scott, who live in ft collins (they recently celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary and renewed their vows in vegas as one part of the celebration). i find this photo of them so amusing and cute, posing with the elvis that attended the ceremony. luci is a filmmaker who produces the brilliant moving postcard series of weekly one-minute films (i love her work!).

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soon after i dropped my bags in their guest room we were out the door to explore.

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the weather was much finer in colorado than in canton, and whiskey had been waiting all day to get out there and run. so we walked and let her go nuts for a  while as the sun began to set.

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i love this photo of the two trees leaning together and holding hands; it reminds me of david and me.

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back ant the house while we went over our options for dinner, scott showed me part of his collection of cozies (he rotates the ones from the counter rack periodically with an even bigger collection from a drawer). seriously, i had no idea.

one thing i did notice—the collection is seriously lacking in hand knit cozies; must rectify that posthaste (isn’t it great when you come up with a brilliant gift idea for that special couple?).

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scott took friday off so we could go someplace a little further afield and have an all-day outing. we talked through our options over a big breakfast and by early afternoon, were heading onto a lory state park trail under a gloriously warm sun and blue, blue sky.

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it was windy tho, so we kept our jackets on as we set out over the hills.

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mad textures were everywhere—i have a separate post brewing about that for later in the week.

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spring was beginning to show its face in colorado alright—in addition to feeling my allergies rearing, there were visual hints everywhere.

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soon we could see the horsetooth reservoir ahead; we wanted to get to the beach to see the water and explore the shoreline.

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at the crest, we had a wide angle view from above and began our descent toward one of its many land spits. the state park side is often quieter than the horsetooth open area side and on this friday, the grounds were nearly deserted.

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fires a few years ago claimed some trees, though much of the trail we were on was still intact. the blackened areas had weathered some as well, so the charred woods stood among new growth of grasses.

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clearly the ground here is full of clay, haha—everything was pinky red where it was exposed. the wide beach is filled will all manner of interesting debris. the wind carves every surface and tree into a curving element, which often catch me by surprise when i review photos—i don’t necessarily see it at the time, but that wind is some artist.

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lots of great big rocks create contrast to the smaller bits and pieces.

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they tumble down from the cliffs in huge slides like this one; standing at the bottom we could see exactly how this mass fell away and cascaded down, probably during an ice melt that loosed the cracked sedimentary layers.

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whiskey, of course was just beside herself with the fun, although none of us could quite summon up her eagerness to paddle around in the icy water.

while heading back to the car we realized we had time to check out another spot, so we decided to head back to ft collins via the poudre canyon highway and visit the gateway natural area on the way home. i was so agog watching the cliffs go by that i totally forgot take pictures along the road (sorry!).

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we hit the gateway natural area about an hour before sunset when the light was turning everything golden while we followed the creek trail into the woods.

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for some reason i was taken with this spot, where the water was like glass on one side of the shoal but running briskly on the other. there’s nothing like the sound of rushing water. we saw plenty of people who took advantage of the fine weather and running water to do some fly fishing.

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the trail divides around this magnificent thrust of rock at the center.

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whiskey could not believe her great good luck in having a whole day outside with everyone present—the best day ever.

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and another reservoir?? stop it. a little windy yes, but totally worth the climb to see it.

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now the sun was well and truly setting on our day; i got this wonderful shot of the light streaming through the grasses.

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and unbeknownst to me, luci took this beautiful photo of me walking ahead on the road and texted it over to me as we left the park; i love it.

back to the house for friday movie night; they were trying to see all of the oscar nominated films before the weekend. so we ordered some thai food and settled in to watch room, which we all really liked. i knitted away on my sleeves too; the perfect end to a wonderful day.

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more to come later this week—i didn’t even begin to show you all the photos i took last week. i’m headed for NYC on tuesday, but i’ve lined up several posts so you can enjoy them while i settle in and come up with some more stuff to show you.

i still have to start packing for this next trip as well . . . i have lots of yarn to wind and take along (i’m kind of hoping to finish up that one top before i go just so i can leave the yarn home, haha). i would feel slightly ashamed to frag along a second suitcase just for yarn, but i might have to (there are some books as well, sigh)

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i’ll be knitting a LOT and working on patterns for our spring ensemble, so there will be plenty of eye candy to drool over, as well as ideas for our photo shoots. erica will also be in and out this week with some posts about books—i have a stack of them that i’ve gotten behind on writing about, many with giveaway copies available so don’t miss those.

it won’t be ALL work—i’m looking forward to meeting up with our friends cathy and agnes while i’m in new york to play a bit—see you in the big city . . .

Perfect We Got

Posted on 10 CommentsPosted in projects

Once a month we get a shipment of yarn from our good friends and AMAZING mill owners Robbie and Carrie Davis. They run America’s Natural Fireworks and Blessed Criations Alpaca Ranch right here in Ohio!

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We love them and really appreciate the time and energy they put into their business; it makes for such high quality yarn and fiber. They spin our Better Breakfast, Chebris, Cabecou, Hempshaugh, and Ginny yarns.

This month, we got some super special things in our boxes from ANF…..

Better Breakfast Worsted 

Our Better Breakfast–the new and improved incarnation of the original Breakfast Blend–is one of the most popular BNWs. It’s soft and cozy but very durable and keeps its shape. Robbie and Carrie “dehair” the fiber so any prickles or guard hairs are removed. It’s an all-around great yarn for any project from head to toe. Anne had the idea to do a worsted as a perfect option for a coat like the Vendange or Oculus–and perfect we got.

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This yarn is butter soft. I so wish you could feel it!

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This yarn is so….FLUFFY! It is such a unique product because it is so silky soft, but it really has a great deal of body and shape. We got two shades–Daybreak and Milk and Honey.

Anne is still in Colorado filming her Craftsy class, so I got the honor of knitting the gauge swatch. We figured this would be pretty spot-on with the Chebris Worsted, and we were right.

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I knit my swatch on US9 needles, and I got 4 sts/inch. The fabric is nice and stretchy with enough density to keep the chill away in a sweater or hat. This is a Merino and Alpaca blend, so remember this fiber likes it a little rough in the wash. I soaked it in warm water for a couple of hours while I was in class last night. When I got home, I took it out and  showed it some tough love by engaging the fibers and allowing them to bloom and fill out. (See Anne and I wash Better Breakfast squares in this video)

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The spin is superb, with a little bit of variation to keep the fabric interesting and unique. This yarn is versatile like many of the others, and can probably be knit on US6-US10.5 depending on the desired fabric. After making my swatch, I am already planning a warm and cozy wrap for my sister who just got a new job in an office. Maybe Wheaten or Hypotenuse?

Now…for a little more fun.

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Lots of our customers and friends are also spinners. We asked Robbie and Carrie to make a few bumps of roving with the fiber as they spin our yarn. The two blends we have available now are Better Breakfast (Americano) and Chebris (Multi). The Chebris is a blend of all the shades we offer, so it will make a really fun skein of yarn–almost like the Entropy yarn that Lisa at Feederbrook Farms makes.

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We don’t have much, so grab it while you can. If this is something you like and want to see us do more of, let us know in the comments, and we can do a little each month!

A Promise Fulfilled

Posted on 32 CommentsPosted in projects

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Alas, an opportunity to tell you about our big kitchen renovation, actually a bit more than just the kitchen. It incorporated several other rooms, namely the dining room, relocating our shared office and half of the central hallway (traditional colonial house). I’ve held steadfast not blogging until the  renovation was totally complete. Just this last fall some remaining electrical work was finished, nearly two years after general completion was heralded. Our good friend Bil (married us and has a rather brilliant life philosophy of helping people without asking or accepting compensation, would love to talk about this sometime), arranged and hung art, much of which had been in storage for over 10 years. I was somewhat dismayed by the cost of the renovation, yes I know this is par for the course, but 40% seems excessive. Then again some major items were not accounted for in the initial estimate, like not being able to salvage any of the existing wood flooring, opting to replace more windows and adding much needed closets (for coats and bicycles). Really enjoyed the interaction with the contractors, talking shop and about other projects they were working on, their work was, I want to say exceptional, but will say it was very good workmanship, did not see a lot short cuts taken. For instance, taking the time to use dowels for installing the trim, I dare say I would not have done (but will do so in the future), this dowelling will ensure that joints do not open up. The general contractor stopped checking in person about halfway thru the renovation, fortunately he had a competent and responsive supervisor. This can not be said for some of the sub-contractors, drywall and flooring finishers, both of which crews were boisterous and infectious, having little regard for the us the inhabits. We had employees working in the house at the time, making a tenuous situation even more so. Drywall installers managed to cover two outlets and a return, and several fastening issues, of which I addressed myself, and then there is the smoking. So when the sub-contractor came to mud an tape walls, I elected to send him home, I could see by his chosen materials that this would be inadequate, nor up to my standards, which far exceed traditional mud and taping. How unfortunate, I can pontificate on and on about the disagreeable aspects of this renovation, but in fairness, the good far exceeds the bad, bare with me a bit more. The floor finisher, boasted on several occasions that his work work truly exceptional, that I would be more than pleased with the finish. This was not to be, even Anne could see the poor workmanship, pooling of poly and dust encapsulated in poly as a result of not tacking (removing all remnants of dust) properly in between coats of poly. The new basement stair risers and treads finish was a disaster, blotchy staining – GC did offer to have flooring guy to return and correct, but I’m afraid I was so put off by the floor finish that I dismissed this idea altogether, will get around to doing it myself. There is more to say, will continue next week. Shall we have a look as some before and after photos.

 

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Before: Very old cabinetry that was coming undone, contact paper backsplash and vinyl flooring, again coming undone. Lived with this for over ten years.

 

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Before: A piece of furniture inherited from previous owner serving as an impromptu island. We had to replace the range and refrigerator immediately upon moving in 10 years ago, probably would have been wise to update during renovation, as their longevity is suspect.

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After: Demolition, here you can see old stairway to basement and back door. Stairway was re-configured and back door eliminated, allowing us to re-claim some much needed space in the kitchen.

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After: Re-building begins, this framing technique is rather clever, essentially re-framing in the existing framing. Allows one to even/true any unleveled ceiling/floors and provides an opportunity to insulate, although you do loose a little square footage.

 

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After: A proper backsplash, an additional window. The other two windows are the only original windows in the house that have been replaced, necessary here as one window needed to be shortened in height. We just had to incorporate Anne’s now famous lid display, she has used this brilliant means of storing pot lids ever since first apartment.

 

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After: A much nicer larger island. The countertops are soapstone and oak butcher block, both are very forgiving and durable. Plus a dishwasher, although I find myself washing dishes by hand, and any number of pots, but I guess has it purpose.

 

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Before: Old dining room, repleat with wallpaper on ceiling and walls. The original double hung widows had been replaced long ago with these casement windows of which really compromised the exterior ascetics of the house.

 

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Before: The flooring was in really poor condition, several large badly patched areas and old affixed tile. The faux fireplace is just that.

 

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After: Unfortunately in this renovation we could not salvage much of anything. New double hung windows, not only very efficient, weather wise, but look the part as well, matching original windows quite nicely. Here you a glimpse of new sitting/living off the dining room (more about this next week). New oak flooring. All lighting is led based.

 

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After: Some newly hung art, had dining chairs (purchased from local restore store) and sofa (gift from one of Anne’s former students) re-upholstered. The square table top is from Ikea and sits eight, the pin legs are from a local Ohio metal fabricator. Broyhill Brasilia credenza is vintage, required several coats of danish oil to restore it’s beauty, not a fan initially, but have come to really love this style.

Hope you enjoyed this post, would like to continue next week, as I have gone on a bit long here.