Monday, March 1, 2010

Life in an old house

I haven't talked much about my house.  It's old.  Built in 1836.  When I think about that, I'm in awe.  The Declaration of Independence was 60 years old.  Ink barely dry.  The Civil War hadn't happened.  Andrew Jackson was President.  My home state of Ohio had only been in the Union for 33 years.  Crazy.

There are many, many charming things about living in an old house.  I love the woodwork.  I love the beams in my basement that are basically logs with the bark partially removed.  I love the solidity.

I have found that textiles look great on the walls of an old house.  And, because I'm the Wool Girl, I have created many of the pieces that hang in my house.  I took up rug hooking a few years ago and particularly like the way rugs look.  I've created a series of square rugs where the pattern is an old quilt block.  I take the pattern to Kinko's, blow it up to about 17-inches square, and then hook the pattern.  I'll post some photos of those another time.

Project of the Day is my stair risers.  I saw a photo in a rug hooking magazine where the artist had made a rug for every stair of the house.  When you looked at the stairs, all you saw was fabulous, fabulous color and pattern.  I was completely smitten and wanted to create a similar look in my house.  But, I'm a knitter first and rug hooker second or third or somewhere down the line.  I thought it would be great to make risers using all the different crafts and techniques that I've learned over the years.

Here's a shot of the whole stair.  I still have 3 more risers to complete but I'm waiting for inspiration.  From top to bottom, the techniques are:
Wool applique using recycled sweaters
Rug hooking
Knitting  (lace)
Rug Hooking
Wool applique, felting, and embroidery
Wool applique (penny rugs)
Proddy with rug hooking

My favorite hooked panel is the one I drew myself.  It's my house in the fall.  I love a primitive, folk art style and drew the house in that manner.  Actually, I'm not a great artist when it comes to drawing so the primitive style is just about all I can manage!  The one below it has many styles all together and was the first one I made.  I found a great product -- wool fleece that was carded and pressed into very thin sheets.  You can cut the sheets into shapes.  So, the red rectangle is a piece of felt.  I cut the bird shapes and the flower shape and then wet felted the whole thing.  I was inspired by Frakturs.  Once the felt was done, I embroidered to define and accent the motifs.
I truly love my penny rug panel as well.  Penny rugs are great because you can combine many different textures and colors in a very small space.  Each penny is at least 3 different wools.  This panel is all blues, golds, and browns.  I used leftover wool from one of my quilt rugs.  The buttons came from a very cool blouse I had with small shell buttons sewn all around the bottom.  Naturally, I spilled something on it and had to throw it out.  But, I cut the buttons off first!

The newest panel is my sheep.  I collect sheep (being the Wool Girl and all).  I knew one of the stairs would be devoted to sheep and the long, narrow shape lends itself to a little parade.  I have three boys so the mama sheep has three lambs.  I used a different recycled sweater for each sheep.  The mama is a beautiful Talbots sweater that had wool background and then an overlay of lacy wool.  Perfect.  The lambs are a plain wool, a textured knit, and a cable knit.  The "grass" is a strip from a really great coat I got at a garage sale.  As you know, I love fringe!  The background is a hunk of wool I dyed myself.

The panel below the sheep is my own version of a Log Cabin quilt.  These type of rugs are called Hit or Miss because you use a different strip of wool for every line.  I have a big rug made like this and I love the color mix.

I need to highlight my knit panel because, after all, I'm a knitter first.  I love lace knitting.  It's intimidating at first but is no more difficult than cable patterns.  The needles are just WAY smaller.  A few years ago I bought a cone of very fine Merino wool at a mill going out of business.  I think I'll be using the wool off this cone forever.  This panel is made from that same wool.  The background wool is hand-dyed by me.  Blue looks really great in my house.

I'm not sure what I'll do for the final risers.  Something will inspire me and I'll be off and running.


  1. How lucky you are to live in an old home - it looks beautiful! I can't wait to see your hooked quilt blocks - I'm a quilter and a hooker so you have a winning combination there in my opinion. Thank you for sharing pictures of your stair rugs - how clever of you to use so many different techniques to make them! They're all wonderful! I recently shared pictures on my blog of the hooked rugs I made for my risers too - it was a really fun project.

  2. Wow is right! What a fantastic idea and what great workmanship. Please don't put down your artistic talents. I love your rendition of your home. The sheep are wonderful. I know you're getting so many compliments from visitors. Safe to assume you don't have a cat? Ha, ha.

  3. Terrific stairs! I love love the look!

  4. the stair risers are a fantastic idea. you have an amazing mind! thanks so much for sharing this idea. makes me wish (almost) that i had my two story house back again. now i have no stairs. thinking of how i can adapt it for some other purpose.

    jd in st louis

  5. Love your different crafty stair risers. A great way to showcase all of your artistic talents. A cross stitch one would be nice as well.

  6. I love your stairs. So creative!

    We have something in common - living in an old house. Although yours is new construction compared to mine (1820). :)

  7. Wow. Fantastic. I love your stairs. Inspire me alot.

  8. I am just so smitten with all your creative ideas! the stair runners are fabulous. Thrilled to have found your blog. :) *goes back to browsing* in all good cheer, desiree

  9. Thank you all for the lovely comments! Lesson learned. I should write about the things I make for myself rather than those I make for others!

    I'll take some shots today of the bag I'm making out of some old t-shirts. My first foray into that type of recycling.

  10. Love these! I love driving through your neighborhood, looking at all of the old homes around the square. My home is about 100 years newer than yours (built in the 1930s) and I thought that was old! :)