Recent Finds

I’ve run into a few little gems recently I wanted to share with you.  First of all, HELLO turquoise bottle brush Christmas tree!  I totally heart it.  And I know it’s a small thing, but I adore that dustpan.  It makes me happy every time I see it hanging in the kitchen.

I’ve recently started rehabbing Little Betty’s chalet dollhouse with flooring and wallpaper, so this handpainted furniture will fit right in!  Little Betty thinks the benches should go outside and I think she is absolutely right.

The estate sale where I got everything I’ve shown thus far had some amazing kid stuff, including TONS of doll clothes and shoes.  It was hard to only get a few things, but I think I chose well.  Those party dresses and coat/hat set are insanely awesome.  Little Betty’s dolls have been hitting the party circuit ever since.

And speaking of Little Betty, she also scored these vintage Acme inlay boots.  They are not in the best shape, but they fit and are wearable and generally super cool.

I think these barkcloth curtains might be the best nursery print I’ve ever seen.  I’m going to hoard this fabric until someone very special gets pregnant then make the perfect baby gift out of it.  Also, that Little Red Riding hood ribbon is from 1890!  It’s perfect.

Lastly, I’ve been on an slowly escalating holiday celluloid kick lately, and I think it’s about to really take off.  I have a few Halloween pieces and a big Santa, but when I found these Christmas pieces it became clear that I’m now going to actively search them out.  They’re so beautiful and delicate and really look great grouped together.  I love vintage Christmas so much.  I’m about 5 degrees away from having Christmas stuff up all year.

Did you find anything good this week?

Crewel Stitch-A-Long: Let’s get started!

All right, y’all – the time has come to liberate this beauty from the depths of my stash and give it the shining glory it deserves in my collection!  If you don’t have a vintage Try A Little Kindness kit, don’t worry!  Use any crewel kit you have laying around.  Or, if you dare, search “vintage crewel kit” on ebay and get yourself one!

Today, we’re just setting up.  First of all, obviously, open the bag and remove all the contents.  Iron the fabric to get it as smooth as possible, and put the needle in a safe place.  Don’t put it in the fabric as a storage solution quite yet – we have some work to do first!

There are several ways you can do this.  First, you can opt for the traditional method and use an embroidery hoop.  You will want to use this method if you’re making a pillow.  Second, you can mount it right in the frame you’re going to use.  Or, the method I’m using and will demonstrate here today, is using artist stretcher bars.  You can get these at any artist supply store.  I’m choosing this method because it will already be pulled taught – no wrinkled fabric from moving the hoop around countless times, and no need for blocking at the end.  Plus, it will enable me to hang the piece right on my wall as is while I look for the perfect vintage frame.

This project calls for 2 18 inch stretcher bars and 2 24 inch.  18×24 is the size of the finished piece, so if you’re using another kit, you’ll want stretcher bars that match the size of the finished product, not the size of the fabric.  Just fit the corners together and use a rubber mallet to make sure they’re snug if necessary.  I found I didn’t need one.

Next, start attaching your fabric to the stretcher bars with your trusty old staple gun.  It’s basically just like upholstering furniture.  Start by stapling the center of each side and slowly work your way out to the sides, rotating sides so everything is done evenly.  Space your staples about one inch apart.  Pull taut, but not too tightly – you don’t want to distort your image!

You’ll find that any wrinkles that remained in your fabric will be pulled out.  Yay!  No wet blocking!

When you get to the corners, fold the fabric in whatever way makes it look smoothest from the front.  I’ve never found a sure-fire way to do this, but what usually works is folding the corner piece back across the bars and then bring the sides up.  Make sure to check from the front before you staple anything to ensure you like the way it looks!  Also, after finishing one corner, then do the one opposite.

After getting the corner folded and stapled you’ll probably want a bunch more staples on either side of the corner to get everything nice and smooth.

And voila!  Your piece is ready to stitch!  And hang on the wall, as you can see!  I’ve seen a lot of vintage crewel pieces unframed, hanging just on the stretcher bars.  Who knows – that may be the destiny of this one as well.  We shall see.

So get stitching friends, and we’ll meet back and check our progress!  If you are stitching along, send me photos of your progress and I’ll feature them here on the blog!

There is a small chance I might have overdone it on the crewel pillows.

Mr. Crafter – in fact, every male who has been to our house recently – is of the opinion that I have too many pillows on the couch.   But I – and in fact, every female who has been to our house recently – has agreed that it’s awfully comfy to have a lot of pillows on the couch.  So you can see we have a real Mars vs. Venus situation on our hands here.

Even I acknowledge that this is probably pushing the limits of the acceptable pillow-to-couch ratio, but what’s a crewel-loving gal like me to do?  Stop buying/making them?  Never!  

I guess my only option is to start farming them out to other parts of the house.  Every room and upholstered surface at Casa Crafter shall be adorned with crewel pillows!  Every wall covered with framed crewel work!  (I shiver with glee at the thought!)

That’s the awesome/crazy thing about Mr. Crafter and I.  Neither one of us does anything halfway.  When we get obsessed with something (which happens regularly) we totally go for it.  For me, bakelite! Vintage purses! Enid Collins!  Squirrels! Vintage Christmas!  CREWEL!  For him, James Dean! Rusty signs! Vintage Matador stuff!  Danish Modern furniture! Photography!  There was even a whole year where he was obsessed with the color brown.  It’s a miracle we’re not in the poorhouse.

But in my defense, how am I supposed to pass up an amazing piece of crewel?  They are so charming, and the great ones are getting so hard to find these days.  I have no willpower.

In other news of my shameless obsessions, I couldn’t resist splurging on one last after Christmas sale item:

It was 75% off!  It had to be done.  I can’t decide if I’ll put it in Little Betty’s room next year or not – I kinda like it right there.  But please notice the absence of other Christmas decorations.  I finally broke down and put them away.

Anyone else have borderline clinical obsessions like me?

Today was a good day.

Today I headed out of town at the crack of dawn with Little Betty and a girlfriend to hit some promising looking estate sales.  While the estate sales did not live up to expectations they did turn over some great smalls, and the extended thrifting expedition afterwards saved the day!

First of all, you know how they say you will get back what you put out into the universe?  Well I think the universe has been reading my blog because CREWEL!  And lots of it!  Plus some other needlework pieces.

I think my favorite is the pink flowers behind glass.  I can’t wait to create a big crewel display at the shop!  I already have a few really great pieces there.  Those two little pillows were picked out by Little Betty.  She is always scouting things for her baby dolls and apparently they can never have too many pillows.  Santa clearly approves of my selections.

Little Betty scored a whole lot more than those tiny pillows today though.  Feast your eyes on this booty:

She already has a wool hunting jacket, but this one was too cute to pass up!  Plus it’s a size too big so hopefully it will fit after she outgrows the other one.  And how about that blanket?  It will be perfect on her bed during the cold nights we’ve been having here.  It’s wool like a Hudson Bay blanket, and I’m am over the moon for that white and pink.  She’s too young for those little embroidery kits still, but they’ll be super fun in a year or so.  They’re so adorable I’m considering hanging them on the wall as art.

We’re not big liquor drinkers around these parts but I could not resist these shot glasses because next Christmas when my visiting family decides to tear though a bottle of bourbon like they did this year, I’ll be prepared to serve them in style!

Cute right??

Now, I know Christmas is over.  Really I do.  And I’m ok with it!  I’m actually wanting to take the decorations down but Little Betty and Mr. Crafter are resisting.  I swear!  But do you think I can resist after Christmas sales?  I think you know the answer.

I am head over heels for the little Santa town in a hurricane glass thingie.  Like, I love it bigtime.  The partridge in a pear tree glass is part of a 12 glass set – one for each day of Christmas, each one different.  I was too lazy to unwrap them all to show you though.  You’ll just have to trust me that they’re awesome.  And I’ve been super wanting one of those Build-It-Yourself Santa decorations!  Whee!

But my FAVORITE find of the day?

13 Christmas, handmade, felt napkin rings, each one different and kitsch-tastic!  All the necessary elements are present here – elves, Santa, reindeer, angels, sleighs, stockings… I am so excited to use these for every Christmas dinner for like, ever.

Have you been taking advantage of after Christmas sales?  And am I the last one with decorations still up?

2013 – Also known as the year I lose my dang head over crewel.

I’m warning you now, friends.  I’m about to fall down the deep and colorful crewel rabbit hole, and I have every intention of taking you with me!  I find myself becoming more and more obsessed with it and have several projects lined up that I’m pretty excited about.

Today I want to show you the enviable crewel collection of reader Melinda!

First of all, how much do we love how she painted the frames in bright colors?  Such a nice contrast to the muted colors of the burlap and linen the crewel is on.

One of Melinda’s big crewel goals is to find an original God Bless Our Pad.  This one is a screen print from Urban Outfitters.  You can hardly tell, right?  They did a nice job on it.

And how about those sweet mushrooms in the pink frame?  I can’t decide If that one or the mushrooms in the turquoise frame is my favorite.  Or the trees and birds!  Yikes!  I love them all.

Melinda is also sitting on a Try A Little Kindness kit and we have plans to do a little stitch along.  Anyone else have one of these and want to join?  If you don’t but want to, here is one for sale.  Seems expensive, but that’s how much I paid for mine.

Melinda, thanks so much for sharing pictures of your great collection!  I’m inspired to rehang my pieces – yours are so artfully done!  I’m also tempted to go reclaim every piece of crewel I have hanging in my shop right now…

A cautionary knitting tale, and a sad Christmas story.

Ok knitters – who out there has fallen victim to the dreaded “Second Sock Syndrome?”  For those not in the know, this occurs after knitting one sock (or mitten) and then finding that you can’t bring yourself to knit the other one.  Well next time you find  yourself guilt-stricken and motivation-less over that sock or mitten you can’t seem to start, read this post.  It may just get you over the hump.

Two years ago I decided to knit the gorgeous Deep In The Forest mittens for my mom.  And about a month later I had this one.  Isn’t it nice?  Well let me tell you about this pattern.  While lovely, it is a bit of a chore because there is no pattern to the chart.  You have to look at the chart for every stitch!  So I was totally dreading going through all that again, even though I made the mistake of showing the finished mitten to my mom, who was SO excited about them.

This year I decided my poor mother should finally have her mittens.  So I dusted off my old project and began.  And this is what I ended up with :

Go ahead.  Snicker.  Laugh at my pain.  Never mind the fact that no matter WHAT I did I couldn’t get the braid to work on the second mitten.  That early irritation was totally forgotten when I realized I was going to have one tiny, pre-teen mitten and one huge oven mitt.  I used the same yarn, the same needles – how could this happen?  Why???  No problem – I thought.  I am now a full believer in the power of felting after the smashing success of my Snowbird mittens.  Felting will save me!  I will simply shrink the oven mitt to a pre-teen size and mom can have two tiny mittens.  After 5 rounds through the washing machine it became clear that this crazy mitten was not going to felt. ( I have read that it is difficult or impossible to felt light colored yarn)

In the end, I gave my mom her circus freak mittens and she swears she loves them and that you can hardly tell when they’re on.  But I will never be able to look her in the eye while she’s wearing them.

So, dear friends, next time you suffer from Second Sock (or mitten) Syndrome, remember my sad Christmas tale of gauge or tension or something gone wrong and do not wait 2 years to knit the other!  A lot can change in 2 years apparently.

Vintage Christmas Cards!

This week I lucked into an antire BOX  of greeting cards and letters from the 60s and 70s.  Mostly Christmas.  And boy howdy let me tell you the graphic design eye candy that was inside was mind blowing.  First of all I had such a great time sorting through them all and reading the sweet letters to this family. (It came from an estate – I was lucky enough to nab it before the auctioneers cleaned out the house!)  After hours of pouring over hundreds of them, I’ve pulled out a few Christmas cards to show you that I think are extra special.

I LOVE this Santa in a beaded balloon.  It actually inspired some friends and I to consider a card making party next year!

This one is totally incredible.  I mean, what exactly is going on here?  A transvestite carnie Santa?  Believe it or not, there were actually TWO of these in the box.  I love that this family got this card twice.

Sadly you can’t see the glitter that this card is highlighted with.  But isn’t it just the sweetest thing ever?  And if I were a tattoo enthusiast like Mr. Crafter I’d be tempted to get that reindeer permanently on my body.  I love it that much.

Classic, simple, beautiful.  Perfect.

I love this one.  Nighttime snowflakes and presents… dreamy…

How much do you love this sassy little kitten?  I actually had a hard time choosing which adorable kitten Christmas card to show you – there were so many!

And lastly, check out this pretty Christmas lady.  I like to imagine her name is Merry.  Also, I want to live in that house.

I can tell that from now on I’ll be checking out old greeting cards instead of passing them by like I always did before!  And I think I’ll start keeping the ones people give me.  Maybe at my estate sale someone will be glad I did.

An advent treasure hunt

I’ve been squirreling this vintage Bucilla kit away for quite some time with the intention to make it for Little Betty for Christmas.  I finally decided to bust into it and even though it took about 10 hours to complete, I really love the finished product!

Aren’t they adorbs??  Love em.  Anyhoo, I decided to use them as the prize in a treasure hunt that would originate in Little Betty’s advent calendar.

This morning when she woke up it took her no time to get into it!

She ran around the house excitedly, from one clue to the next…

and was thrilled to discover the culmination of a secret Christmas tea party with her elf, Princess Jack, and her new family of gingerbread dolls!

In no time they were cuddled up on the couch with her.  I think they have found a loving home!  Having kids is pretty fun.  I’m so glad I got to do it.

I’ve been up to no good.

No good at all, friends.

It’s Kitschmas, after all, so you know I couldn’t resist a little bit of this:

But I could not be content with simple ornament wreath making!  All those empty ornament boxes put me in mind of what Georgia Peachez does with hers.  So then there was a little of this:

and this:

and this:

I even took Little Betty down with me:

I actually really like the one she made!  She is her mother’s daughter for sure.   That girl loves to craft.

It doesn’t stop with Christmas crafting around here, of course. There are some “new” vintage Christmas decor bits around Casa Crafter this year.

I’m on a bit of a Santa kick.  I’m loving this creepy Santa.

But I might love these silly Santas even more:

I’ve also been picking up Santa head mugs all year:

And of course there’s a few new pinecone elves about:

Mr. Crafter made that tree when he was a kid.  On the bottom he carved in his name, the year, and “A-Team.”  Awesome.

How are your Christmas crafts/decorating coming along?