Knitting Update

Just a quick update on where I’m at with knitting these days.

The sweater that I was working on out of the textured yarn is completed. The pattern itself was relativity easy to follow. The yarn was great to work with. Size wise it feels a little big, but I can’t honestly say I would want it any smaller. This is what it looks like on:

I am finishing up a sweater I started some time ago. It kind of makes me chuckle actually. When I picked up my knitting needles a few years ago, realizing that I could read and easily understand a pattern, I started browsing through the myriad of patterns for free and for sale online. It didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to make a sweater. And that is with only having a scarf under my belt!. I started it and actually was making some progress when I ran into a rough spot. I felt a little overwhelmed by it so I set the whole thing aside. A couple of weeks ago I picked it up again and am chipping away at it. It’s not all that difficult but there is a lot to it so it takes awhile. This is where I’m at with it:

I have decided though that on June 1st I will put this project aside. (well I might pick it up now and again). I need to do this because I have items to work on in order to be ready for fall shows. I look forward to that!

Oh, yes, I have also started a pair of socks. I am doing them with what is called Magic Loop. I love the concept now if I have the patience for something on a smaller scale. I did attempt this in the beginning. I completed one only to not be able to match up the second one. I have since learned a solution to that. I’ll post on that when they are complete.

Have a good day!
Doris

Advertisements

How To Hire A Painter

I have had my business of Decorative Artwork since 1992. Over the course of those years I have worked with many painters from different areas. The majority of the time things went well for the client. And for myself as well. But, I have run across some disasters too. Here are some tips for hiring the right painter for your project.

#1…..Get References! Don’t expect a quote over the phone. And for big projects, hopefully you could actually see some of their work. Here’s an example of what could go wrong. –
I had a client a few years back that needed their 2 story family room painted. It needed some patching and in some areas on the ceiling there needed to be drywall tape replaced. My client got the name of a painter from someone she didn’t know but she told me the guy was excited about the job and didn’t mind working on scaffolding. I finished my decorative painting before the painter and his buddy were done. But I had to go back the next day to be paid. When I went back my client was almost in tears. The painters had “finished” and they had been paid. Well, she brings me in to show me what they had done to her family room ceiling. They had used blue painters tape instead of drywall tape to fix the areas that needed it! And the tape was starting to peel off. She had called the painter to discuss it with him only to find out he had left town.
That is the worst I have seen. Most painters are reputable and trustworthy. But…..
Get References!

#2…..When you do find a painter you can trust, if they say they need a deposit, give it to them. After the economic downturn I’ve known contractors that just don’t want to run a tab at the paint store anymore. Probably holds true for many trades.

#3…..I think this may be as important as #1. Let them do their job. Don’t be underfoot and try to keep children busy with other things.

#4…..Pay promptly. Times are different now.

As I said I have worked with many different painters over the years. And now I only recommend one painter. If it doesn’t work for the client then they are on their own finding one. The painter I recommend is
Rick Wehrman….I have known him for maybe 20 years. I not only recommend him because he is a great painter, ( his son right along with him, and sometimes his daughter as well), but they are great with customers. They go in and do their job and do it well. For me, it is important to have a good rapport with the painter on the job. It makes my life a lot easier.

I finished up a portion of a large project with Rick and crew. Here is an example of how he makes my life easier.
The client wanted their foyer tray ceiling done. If I did it it would mean bringing in scaffolding, hiring someone to put it up and then take it down again. Rick has done bits of faux finishing for me before so I asked him if he would take it on and he said he would. The faux that was to be done in the tray in the foyer was the same one that I had done in the dining room tray ceiling.

Besides having good work done, the foyer tray ceiling was less costly because Rick uses an extension ladder to do them. Saves a great deal of time as well. The photos in this post show the tray ceiling in progress and then finished. Doesn’t it look great?!

I hope you consider this the next time you are looking for a painter. It could save you heartache and money.

Have a great week!
Doris

“The Chair” Reveal

Remember this chair? This is my Goodwill find. I paid $7.00 for it. Here is what is printed under the seat –

I mentioned in an earlier post about how I was put off by the “gazillion” staples in the blue velvet chair I had come across. I finally caved and decided to tackle it. I loved the process. I love the chair. Of course, there are things I wish I knew before I started. One thing I recommend …….do not try to rush it.

My original plan was to recover it and paint the wood. But seeing as it was going to involve more work anyway, I decided to strip the wood and do a finish on it that I have been wanting to try.The finish is done in layers. This is something I have always found with paint – the wonderful effects you get when you layer paint and glaze and top coats. The first detail photo is one of the wood details. I added a little Warm Silver metallic paint to accent the design.

The arms of the chair have detail too. The design works well with the type of finish I applied.

And……finally…….”the chair” completed –

What do you think? The fabric choice surprised me. I don’t ordinarily lean in this direction, design and color wise. But when I saw this one it just seemed to belong to the chair.

Would I do it again? Right now I say no. But with time passing and if I came across the right piece, who knows? It definitely gave me a new respect for upholsterers.

On another note, I went to the Kane County Flea Market yesterday. Best around in my book. This year I am looking for 2 old screen doors to turn into displays. I will be checking at the Morris Markets as well which run from May to October.

Have a good day everyone!
Doris

A Cute Mother’s Day Craft

I saw this somewhere and I think it would be such a great craft for kids to give their mom for Mother’s Day. I think I originally saw it on Pinterest but have seen it twice more since then.

The supplies you need are few. The sticks you can get at Walmart or a craft store. Also the paint brushes. For the paint I used one color that is actually a wall color, but very fashionable. Or, as shown, the craft paints.

You will also need a couple of drinking glasses or cups.

While you are preparing your work space bring a pan of water to a boil. The pan should be big enough for the sticks to lay in with a little room to spare.

Once the water is boiling put your sticks in it and boil for 15 minutes. Put in a few extra sticks in case some break, although I did’t have a problem.

After 15 minutes take them out one at a time, immediately starting to bend them easily into a “C” shape. Fit them in to the sides of a glass. They cool quickly, so once you take one out of the pan using tongs, you’ll be able to start shaping it right away.

The sticks need to dry overnight. Once dry, they can be painted and personalized.

Voila!
Have a great week!
Doris

Update: the chair is coming along nicely. I have the fabric and this week will be finding the right trim. I heard about a huge fabric and trim warehouse in Chicago that will hopefully have what I need because I haven’t found the right one out here. Field Trip! I may even take pictures and post on it if it’s as good as I was told.

Knitting and A Freebie!

I mentioned knitting ……it has been a blessing during this time of recuperation. It has literally kept me going when discouragement has taken over.

Right now I just finished a sweater using a wonderful yarn. It is actually my favorite so far. It is thick and thin as you can see and has great color to it.

The sweater pattern and yarn I picked up at a yarn shop in Decorah, IA when I visited my sister who lives there. A lovely shop which I will visit again and take pictures. They have an online presence as well. The pattern is for Intermediate knitters but I think any adventurous Beginner could handle it. I adjusted the sleeve and the neckline a little.

I attempted a sweater early on and it was a bit overwhelming. I was determined to get back to it once I had more knitting under my belt.

The first sweater that I completed is actually a summer shell. It is made up of a variety of lace stitches. It was a lot easier than I expected and seemed to go quickly due to changing stitches often. It’s made of 100% cotton yarn.

Designing a winter cowl was my first pattern making venture.

The next item was fingerless gloves using a favorite cable stitch.

And the most recent design is for the warmer months. It is called Airy Denim Scarf and is made from 100% recycled blue jean yarn. Upcycling!

These patterns are for sale in my Etsy shop etsy.com/shop/dcartwork on ravelry.com and craftsy.com. By the way, the patterns were tested and approved on Ravelry

FREEBIE:
If you choose to follow my blog you can choose any one of these patterns for free. They are in pdf format. You can email me at dorisdjrdc@aol.com

Knitting will undoubtably be mentioned here again.

Have a good week!
Doris

The Best Ever Chicken and Dumplings!

CAUTION! Maybe I should put a disclaimer here. This is by no means a dieting recipe. It is a good hearty meal that goes over well all year round.

Every time I have asked my son Chuck what he would like for his birthday he always says Chicken and Dumplings. And now it is passing down to my grandson.

This is a chicken meal I came up with years ago when trying to create a different (for me anyway) way to serve chicken. It remains to be one of the more economical meals to feed a family.

It’s funny, I didn’t realize how endearing this recipe is to me. I hesitated posting on it because I wasn’t sure I wanted to share it. But here we are!

Whereas in the beginning I would buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself, now I purchase breasts, legs, and a few thighs already cut up. These are the pieces that are the main favorites.

Now, unfortunately, the chicken needs to have the skin on. I have tried using skinless and boneless and it just isn’t the same. However, if you start out using boneless and skinless chicken your family may not notice the difference. The gravy will still get you in the calorie count though.

I trim off any excess fat that I can before frying the chicken. I fry it in a little vegetable oil until it is browned. Then I drain off any grease that I can.

The pan gets put back on the stove with medium heat and I add enough water until it reaches about a half inch from the top. I’m old fashioned in that I still use boullion cubes, adding 8-10 of them to the simmering chicken. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a good 20 minutes, checking it to make sure it isn’t sticking and that the cubes are dissolving.

Also, at this time I add dry mustard. Now I know that may sound a little odd and I don’t remember what possessed me years ago to add it, but it works. It just punches up the flavor. I use a heaping tablespoon for a 12-14 inch pan’s worth. Salt and pepper also get added to taste. I also tend to add a little garlic powder here.

After checking the chicken for doneness I remove it and place it in a bowl nearby. Using a whisk, I stir the gravy to loosen anything stuck to the pan getting it ready to thicken. I use cornstarch but you can use whatever you like to create a good thick gravy. About a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water added to it first should thicken it properly. If not, repeat.

When it is good and thick add the chicken back to the pan, letting it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

It can be served from the stove or put in a large dish for the table.

The dumplings? Well, the recipe I use is one handed down to me from my childrens’ grandmother. She played an important role in my life. I would need to ask her family if it would be okay to broadcast her recipe. Any good dumpling recipe will work. Or mashed potatoes. Also, something that I have begun to use for another dish is frozen egg noodles. When cooked they taste similar to dumplings and are very much like homemade noodles.

Enjoy!
D.

Fresh Ideas


For about the past nine months I have had a lot of time to think about projects, new ventures and the like. I have had this time due to the fact that I have been laid up for a good part of it recuperating from 2 surgeries. The first one was from a torn muscle in my knee. That began on Memorial Day of last year culminating in surgery to repair it in August. I was able to work sporadically during this time. After 6 weeks of recuperation I went back to work full time only to develop an even larger tear (tears) in a muscle in my hip. Surgery was 2 weeks later and I am finishing up a 3-6 month recuperation from that. Hopefully I will be back to full time in a few weeks.

The knee was a relatively easy fix but the hip has been quite an ordeal. It has given me time to re-evaluate some things.

I have missed coming here and sharing thoughts, ideas, projects and recipes. So I am adding that back into my life. I will continue my painting business, allowing it to naturally slow down. Thinking over the past 2 years with design elements changing course the main thrust of the business has been painted furniture and doing faux metallic ceilings. The ceilings, by the way, fit in quite well with the current design trend. There is always a call for murals now and again seeing as they are customized to the needs of a client. I say this knowing that I am in the beginning stages of a large project where creating a Tuscan look in a kitchen is one part of it. Hoping to post on that as the project progresses.

A couple of years ago I picked up knitting in order to keep my hands busy while quitting smoking. It helped tremendously! It will be 4 years this summer. It can be done! The thing with knitting is that for the most part you need to stay focused and there is a lot of counting involved so your mind isn’t dwelling on things.

I have come a long way with the knitting and feel like I am on a journey with it. I started off with the basics….hats, gloves, scarves. I also had some disasters trying projects that I just wasn’t ready for. But like I said, it is a journey. I now sell knitted items in my etsy shop (dcartwork.etsy.com). Also, something that I am a little proud of, I started creating my own patterns and have them for sale as well. They are also on ravelry.com and craftsy.com. The patterns are geared toward beginners for now but I look forward to when I am able to create some more elaborate pieces.

My goal here is to share ideas etc. I do mean share – I would love to see some of what you are up to. I have a few projects in mind to finish and showcase here. Like the velvet chair I started pulling apart in order to recover and update it. It felt daunting at the time when I pulled some fabric off only to find a gazillion (is that even a word) staples. I now have a plan in mind to deal with that.
Here is a before and after shot of dining room chairs that I painted for a client:

I also came up with new recipes to pass along as well. Well, one isn’t really new to us but I think you will love it.

I hope you all have stayed safe with the crazy weather that has been happening across the country. We have been lucky right here but there sure has been issues around us.

Have a good day!
Doris