Monday, June 25, 2012

A Room with a View: Creating a Knitting Nook

I bought these letter knobs at Michael's craft store and also purchased an unpainted wooden plaque.  I also purchased knobs to spell "PURL," but haven't done anything with them yet.

I spent all of the last week in a sort of nightmare—one whose horror climaxed in the day spent scaling and descending an extension ladder borrowed from a neighbor so that I could paint a twenty-foot high space over the staircase.  (I’d set out to paint a small area--roughly five-by- eight feet--to use as a knitting nook, but after finishing this job, the adjoining hallway and stairwell glared at me with their dirty smeared walls and dull fourteen-year-old contractor’s grade paint.)  After dealing with very sore muscles, paint splattered everywhere when a soaked painting pad (a kind of thin sponge) skittered wildly from on high and landed on a bookcase filled with books,  and many, many trips to Lowe’s, I had a clean space to fill with my knitting and sewing supplies.    
My husband used this space for a cluttered
home office.  He's moved his stuff into
the living room, where the extra space will, I hope, allow him to put things away.  

I’d spent weeks envisioning how it would look, as well as examining shelving units at The Container Store, Lowes, and IKEA.  It was going to embody modern sleek functionality.  Rows of floor-to-ceiling white shelves, clever roll-out storage bins, maybe some chrome track lighting.  My knitting nook, small and humble, would house perfectly organized knitting and sewing supplies, items which were squirreled away in trunks, closets, and the garage. 

Then I received the phone call from my aunt, who, with her husband, is downsizing from a 4,000 square-foot house to a cottage in a retirement community.  “I have a desk that was in your mother and father’s bedroom.  Do you want it?” she inquired.  While my family is from New Jersey, and I was raised there, my aunt, after marrying a southerner,  moved to North Carolina many years ago.  A product of my family's genetic inheritance, she is a collector of furniture and brick-a-brack and has amassed items from her husband's family farm in Kentucky and from her side of the family. 

After. 

I painted the bulletin-board frame, but really need to purchase a larger board.  The valance is made from one yard of fabric, and I used buttons to add some draping.  (The fabric was a bit expensive, or else I would have bought more and made drapes.)  The lamp was purchased at a yard sale a few years' ago.  Dewey (a friend for Cooey the pigeon) enjoys his new home with my collection of knitting books). 
 My husband's family and my own are similar in their penchant for furniture. While other children were frolicking at Myrtle Beach, unabashedly enjoying the attractions of the boardwalk,  (unencumbered by any practical or educational emphasis), my husband spent family vacations riding in the backseat of a car meandering through the North Carolina mountains, where his parents stopped to rummage through antique stores, dragging home furniture, or sometimes pieces of furniture to be refinished, reworked, and reassembled by his talented woodworking stepfather. These treasures were added to an already formidable stash of furniture, wagons, cider presses, and other relics that resided in his childhood home and its hundred-year-old outbuildings. 







In the midst of painting, I ran to my local Wal-Mart and was thrilled to see that they had reinstated the fabric department (which had mysteriously disappeared a few years ago).  I bought some pretty quilting cotton which I used to line a basket for my new knitting nook.  I got this idea from Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse, a crocheting, baking, sewing, generally crafty blogger who lives in England and has a gorgeous blog.  


I am burdened or blessed with a similar background. My mother divorced when I was ten, and bought a house from her mother. This modest Edwardian family home was built by my great-great grandfather, and it--along with its cellar, attic, shed, and barn--was stuffed to the rafters. Recently widowed and about to remarry at 68, my grandmother sold a bunch of this stash for a song to unscrupulous antique dealers, along with a 1940's Cadillac, a grand piano, a Franklin stove, and a slew of my grandfather’s violin building and architectural drafting tools, but my mother retained a few heirloom pieces. My mother renovated the entire house and using these, along with some new acquisitions, decorated it in a charmingly antiquey but uncluttered manner. 


I hung the bracket less shelf, a perfect spot for the Spud and Chloe cow I just finished.  (I made him as a gift, though, so should probably put him away somewhere, or get to work on another one.)  The small storage shelving unit fits alongside the desk and holds a surprising amount of needles and patterns. 

Several years later, however, she remarried a man who owned a furniture refinishing and reupholstering business. Frighteningly neat with 30 years' military experience, Wes did impeccable work for local decorators and rich clients. Unlike the shoemaker whose children are barefoot, however, he also redid all sorts of furniture he and my mother picked up—from junk shops, street-side trash piles, and garage sales. Before long, the house and its outbuildings, along with a tractor-trailer storage unit were bursting with all sorts of furniture finds as well as leftover rolls of expensive upholstery fabric.

I saw my sister-in-law, Karen, yesterday, at lunch at my mother-in-law's house.  When I told her about my knitting nook, she informed me that she'd been busy reworking a room of her house for her knitting studio.  I walked over and saw her space.  "I should have brought my checkbook," I said when I saw the bins and bins of yarn.  Her poodle, Carson, even has her own bin of girlie pink yarn for her future sweaters.   


Consequently, after marrying and purchasing a two-story hundred year old house (or shack, but that’s another story) which we subsequently sold, my husband and I did not have to worry about buying any furniture, but we did have to rent a storage unit, until we were able to sort out exactly what would fit into our new residence. (My mother and stepfather moved to Arizona around this time and gave my husband and me much of their household possessions). In fact, in the eighteen years since we have been married, the only new furniture I have bought are inexpensive bookcases and bunk beds for my younger son’s room. We have too much furniture—since we sadly lack a thirty-five room family estate which might offer enough space for all of the stuff we have amassed—some of it stored in my garage and others in outbuildings at my mother-in-law’s house in the country.  Despite these issues, however, I'm thankful for the useful gifts laden with family history. 

So my knitting and crafting room, while bright and cheerful, looks more like Laura Ashley than IKEA.  I am happy, however, as I now have an organized location for all of my knitting books and magazines, and a desk where I can sketch out ideas for projects. 

6 comments:

  1. Oh wow, I love this post for so many reasons! The before and after photos especially, I cannot believe how much you did on so little! I especially love the lettered knobs, that is such a genius idea! Congrats, it all looks fantastic and be sure to give yourself a pat on the back for achieving so much lately!

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  2. Love this post. Love the pics. Love your ideas. Beautiful!!!

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  3. Looks like you came up with some great ideas in your Knitting kNook :) I love the knobs, great idea! I would do the Purl ones below it, I think.. (Not sure how much space you have..) I can't wait for my KraftHaus to be finished now, so that I can get all of my stuff out and set up! :)

    Great post & loved hearing about your families!

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  4. Your new knitting nook is fabulous! Worth all the painting hassle! You did make me laugh about the paint covered sponge - reminds me of the time while I was pregnant when I thought I would paint a wardrobe perched on a teetering pair of steps and managed to spill an entire pot of acrylic primer over the contents of the wardrobe which I hadn't bothered to remove first! How wonderful to have these pieces of vintage furniture with all their history keeping you company as you create. So touched you liked my basket liner idea - yours is absolutely lovely - so beautifully made and that fabric is just enchanting. Wish I had a fabric-stocking Wal-Mart close to me! So kind of you to put a link to my blog. You have spurred me into posting the little tutorial I had half put together but hadn't got round to finishing. Elizabeth x

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    1. PS Do you have an email contact address I can access? I can't locate one on your blog so if it's OK with you can you just send me a blank email so that I can write to you direct rather than in the public comments box? My contact email is on my blog but I'll give it again here it's mrsthomasinatittlemouse@gmail.com

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    2. Hi. My email is lizwashburn64@windstream.net. I'd love to hear from you.

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