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Cody

December 19, 2017   //  Posted in: Dog-Related   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses
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Last week we said goodbye to Cody. Our partner-in-DIY. Codeman. The one who was at his happiest when he was by our side. The buddy who you’ve gotten to see on this blog. He was simply awesome. He came to live with me at age 1, just 3 months after I bought my first home and a full year before I began this blog. He was a total companion dog who assumed his role perfectly and saw me transition through enormous life stages like marrying, moving, and babies.

Best remembered for his morning snuggles, nonstop talking, high-speed sprinting, and those silly face buttons that made his lips curl like Elvis. Honored for his loyalty. Loved his purple toy, walks on the beach, anyone walking down our street, naps in the Jeep, watching wildlife, and snow.

Thanks to those of you who have reached out with kind messages. We are happy to have been his people.

An Easy and Ever-Changing Loom Wreath

October 16, 2017   //  Posted in: Backyard, Decor, For the Kids   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment
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What began as an idea to foster our daughter’s fine motor skills, turned into something that quickly became one of my favorite ever-changing pieces of art. In many of the art classes and craft camps that our kids have participated in, there’s often a fun weaving element that makes use of simple homemade looms. The result is usually so pretty that it’s actually display-worthy (and it beats the hell out of finger painting). They use round weaving looms to weave small rugs; rectangular looms for hot pads, placemats, and wall decor; even long, narrow looms used to design camp bracelets way more ornate than any of the braided embroidery thread things I ever created.

What we ended up with here though, is something that parents, kids, and your everyday wreath-lover will enjoy – a forever customizable weaving loom wreath made from a slice of tree trunk, and a tautly pulled cord. I have total heart-eyes for how it embraces nature to become a beautiful showpiece when hung at the front door. My preschooler loves the concept of this loom wreath too – afternoons are for crafting, and her designs are most often made of things she sources from around own home and in our own backyard. Will it wreath? Yes, almost always.

A kid's weaving loom filled with branches, grasses, and flowers from the yard. A craft that fosters small-motor skills and great for outdoor art camps.

The materials and tools I used to make a weaving loom wreath:

  • 1” sliver of wood (mine is sourced from a log in my own yard, but you can find them at craft stores too; affiliate link to a 9″-11″ slice that’s most like mine)
  • 1/2” staples
  • heavy cord
  • items for weaving – flowers, branches, ribbons and fibers
  • wreath hanging hardware
  • jigsaw
  • staple gun

Begin by sanding down the front of your sliver of wood.

Mine had some roughness from the chainsaw that I smoothed out. If your wood is store-bought, it was probably already planed to perfection; what I used was actually the base from my old rustic wreath, because waste not! Use a jigsaw to cut a hole in the center of the wood, and there you have it – something perfectly wreath-shaped. Add a hook to the backside of the wreath at this point too, so you can hang it up easily once you’re done decorating.

Raw log sliced and cut for our loom wreath.

Staple around the edge.

I used 1/2” staples, and I’m glad that I did << the best part of this project. Weaving cord around nails may have been hard if the head of the nail wasn’t wide, and the cord certainly would have been more inclined to pop off while weaving. Furthermore, staples are pretty smooth, not as likely to poke, scratch or snag your children if you’re using this loom as an educational tool. Staples, once installed, proved to be incredibly kid-friendly, and made it super easy to secure the cord.

Adding the staples is easy with an electric staple gun, but possible with a manual staple gun as well. Place the staple so that it is only half-way jabbed into the surface of the wood. I encourage you to test this a few times on a piece of scrap wood so that you know how much pressure to apply to the tool to achieve the perfect depth (after all, pressing gently on a stapler is everything we’ve been trained not to do).

Add staples all around the center circle of your wreath, side-by-side. When you’re done, count how many staples are around the middle (I had 28) and place the same number of staples along the outer edge of the wreath, evenly spaced (another 28 staples for me).

Using staples to make a DIY loom – easy, fast, and safer than nails.

Weave the loom

Use a heavy cord like twisted nylon kite string–or jute, if you don’t find it too difficult to thread a thicker strand through the staples–for the next step. Weave the cord back and forth through the inner and outer staples to create a zig zag all around the wreath. (Another affiliate link there so you can see what I used.)

Be sure that the cord is taut before you knot it off.

Using staples to make a DIY loom – easy, fast, and safer than nails.

Assemble the masterpiece

Source your materials for weaving and decorating. Branches, flowering weeds, leaves, garden trimmings, fronds. Basically, if it’s at least a few inches long, it’ll work. Consider pieces of natural fibers as well, and ribbons and other craft materials too.

How to make an always-changing wreath by using a log cross section as a base for a loom.

 

Weave the materials in and out of the cord, overlapping and encompassing the frame of the wreath.

How to make a loom wreath that kids can use to hone motor skills and display their creativity.

My fall wreath uses items straight from our yard and garden, including branches, leaves, a sunflower, and even weeds growing in amongst brush that would ordinarily go unbothered.

How to make a weaving loom wreath that kids can use to hone motor skills and display their creativity.

Modify the wreath for other seasons too – faux-flowers are one easy way to add color to the outdoor wreath during the winter and early spring. Layer them over real branches to help make them look more realistic and natural.

Using fake flowers to make an all-season floral wreath using the loom.

This was a great kids’ project because it spurs creativity and fosters development of fine motor skills. My daughter selected colorful pipe cleaners and ribbons for one of our iterations.

Montessori weaving loom made by my 3-year old using ribbons and fabrics found around the house.

Hang the wreath in a prominent place, where you can continuously adapt the design and components as new flowers bloom, and seasons change.

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Make this loom wreath for your kids, and let them foster small motor skills while crafting in nature.

The Barn Quilt

October 06, 2017   //  Posted in: Barn, DIY, HGTV + DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  one response
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The barn quilt I created for DIY Network is a special project–probably my favorite project of the year–and I wanted to be sure you didn’t miss it. If you’re ready to go down a rabbit hole and want shortcuts over to my editorial pages, visit here for DIY Network, and here for HGTV.

A handmade, hand-painted barn quilt made featuring modern, vivid colors / diy network

I’ve followed Buffalo-native Whitney Crispell @whitneyarlene for quite some time on Instagram, and when she announced earlier this year that she was launching her own heirloom quilting business @localcolorquilts, I crossed my fingers and hoped she’d be willing to collaborate with me for the barn quilt I had been envisioning for our home. Her use of color! Her appreciation for modern design and pattern! So refreshing, and her projects always caught my eye and earned a double-tap. She bit the bait, agreed to an interview for HGTV (it turned out amazingly) and the rest is history.

Part of the story that isn’t told in the DIY Network tutorial is how I became drawn to barn quilts everywhere; every winter when we venture down back roads to our favorite ski resorts, we pass lots of old barns, many adorned with barn quilts. Their patterns, classic, sometimes weathered by blustering wind and snow, but other times freshly painted and bright, as if it was the owner’s mission to keep it looking sharp even when the barn was aging. From what I researched, they’re typically 8’x8′ in size, but country homes often are seen with miniatures on the porches, and we even spied a few giant interpretations painted onto old brick buildings in small villages for town beautification initiatives. We snapped photos, I pinned my heart out, and wondered curiously why there wasn’t yet an app that maps a barn quilt trail across the country for road trip enthusiasts (there’s your million dollar idea, barn quilt people).

After I painted the barn earlier this year (a $200 project that turned our sad little barn into something that looked superb), I knew I wanted to install a quilt of my own. Whitney fortunately had the vision and attention to detail that I was lacking, and contributed the pattern and color palette that you see in the finished project on DIY Network. (She actually gave me a lot of designs – her reinvention of some classic quilting patterns is worth some gold and if you want a cool, original pattern for yourself, you might want to get in touch with her directly).

Painting a modern barn quilt.

The other part you wouldn’t have heard about in depth on DIY Network was that I was able to source the wood from trees cut down on my parents property, which my Dad had planed into gorgeous, red spruce boards. He had been saving them for a long time, and I managed to convince him this was the project that would do them right. I went back and forth on how/whether to stain the natural wood, but decided on using a splash of stain from what I had leftover from refinishing the barn, but diluted down a bit with water so that the grain of the wood would display. It turned out so nice!

Wooden boards sourced locally from Buffalo, NY to be used in a handmade barn quilt.

No fancy joinery with this project–briefly considered biscuits but didn’t think they’d be strong enough alone–and no fancy hanging apparatus, either. I mounted the red spruce to a piece of plywood, and then straight to the wall of the barn with some 5″ bolts, and that’s where it will probably remain until the structure completely decays.

Enjoy the full how-to tutorial here on DIY Network.

Modern, rainbow-colored barn quilt on our mid-century home's outbuilding.

How to build and paint a modern barn quilt as a nod to traditional outdoor decor.