This Designer’s Journey- From Childhood To Present Day

This was made for her in my 50th year of sewing.
Golden lace dress with beaded trim

I want to share some of my personal story, how thru life’s twists and turns I learned and evolved as a crafts woman and designer.

This is a lenghty post!

Mom and Grandma often sewed when Grandma visited. This influence really got me interested in sewing. A lot of what we learn creatively is visual- seeing what others are making or have made. At age 4, my brother and I got out my Mom’s scrap box and traced our hands to make puppets. We hand stitched the cut-outs and turned them right side out. His fit, mine didn’t. He was 1-1/2 year older, and knew to add a little extra for seam allowances. I was going to make another one. Suddenly, Mom walked in the room to see what we were up to. She yelled at us for getting into her stuff and took everything away!

It wouldn’t be until I was 6 at Christmas that I was encouraged to do any kind of needlework. She explained to me 20 something-years later thr reason. It was the pediatrician who told her not to let a child handle do small detailed works in order to protect the developing eyes! He said to wait until I was 6. At that age a child is beyond the risk of permanent eye damage from such use. I don’t know if that’s true- it was after 1963.

So, when I was 6, my Mom started Jay and I with simple knitting. Then she took me to the dime store and bought me supplies to embroider a pillow case. At Christmas I was given new Barbie dolls, and pre-printed Barbie outfits to cut and hand stitch. That was the beginning of my creative obsession.

At age 8, I was given a real sewing machine. It was a used White brand, and only did a straight stitch. Mom was using a Necchi with a zigzag. It was a wedding gift- Brand new in 1955. She still has it! I was allowed to use hers if I needed the zig-zag, if she wasn’t working on something. It was at this time of my life a driving passion for all kinds of crafts was ignited! I checked out one particular library book so often, my parents bought it for me at Christmas! It was loaded with all kinds of needlecrafts! I also knit little sweaters for Barbie, and made little doll clothes. I could be up in my room for hours on end.

Then at 10, Jay and I took oil painting classes at a hobby store. It was Hal’s Hobbies. He and his wife taught a variety of classes, but our parents could only afford the paint classes. That came to an abrupt end when Hal died of a heart attack. I’m using that picture as my feature image, since it is the only surviving work of my youth.

Even at that age I was making simple clothes and wearing them to school. I was totally clueless about fashion trends or style, but I didn’t care at that point.

When I was 12, the McCalls Pattern Company announced a sewing contest being held at South Coast Plaza. This was in Costa Mesa California. I had made a royal blue tailored pant suit that was flawlessly made, and fit perfectly. So I entered it in the contest. To my disappointment, I didn’t win- not even 3rd place! What I learned from that was to be mindful of the season being promoted in a contest like that. It was all about spring, and seer-sucker fabric and strawberries were the trends.

I kept sewing, and got good at making shirts for my brother, having made the sleeves too short on the first one! The shirt was otherwise perfect. This was a live aand learn process, because Mom didn’t teach me these things. She was busy with other things in her life. As long as I was keeping busy, she didn’t have to worry about me!

By the time I was 20, I had a baby and we got married when he was 6 months old.

One day my Dad came over with a handcrafted clown doll he purchased. He thought I could make some money on them. It had a block of wood covered with a loose outfit, a styrofoam head, and yarn hair. He sat on the bottom of the wood block, and worked nicely with his feet dangling from a shelf or dresser. Do you remember those? That was the first thing I ever made!

Shortly after, my husband told me of a little alterations store nearby. It was called “The Button Box”. They did tailoring and general alterations, and sold notions. True to the name, the little front room was covered with walls of buttons! I went and introduced myself. The owner, Hope- sent me home a project for a customer. She was often asked to do custom sewing; but didn’t really want the work. The first project was a pleated little skirt for a High School cheerleader. I made it perfectly- (so I thought) but when it was all finished, I realized I had the lapped side zipper facing the wrong way! I asked my Mom if she thought the shop keeper would notice- the answer was- “Of Course she will- don’t you think she’s going to scrutinize every stitch?” So, I fixed it, and my sewing career was born!

After a few years, sewing as a “GHOST SEWER”- meaning the customer was never to know she sent the work out; Someone mentioned that Bridal Shops were good places to get a sewing job. That person was right! After I got out the phone book and made a few calls, I had a sewing job in a shop! One such shop was “Penelope of California”; in the city of Orange, Orange County California. This was around 1983 to 1986. Penny taught me how to create a dress pattern by draping fabric on a live person, and using that “muslin” to draft my pattern. She was happy to teach me everything she could. Nearly all the custom gowns I designed were created using this method. It was later in my career that I started to push myself to work by drafting patterns strictly on paper, without the customer standing for lengthy fittings. I was simply doing what I was taught. As my skills developed, I began working with the customer on site less, having done more work in the back-ground to be ready for her first fitting. Still, I use those skills to bring a design to life, once the customer tries on her fitting muslin. I simply do not start with scraps pinned to her undergarments the way Penny taught me!

All through this period, I was going thru a personal crisis. Having left my husband of only 4 years in total, our kids ended up in foster homes. I was still not able to support them. Phil had his own problems. After a while, having settled into a Newport Beach apartment, the courts gave him custody of the kids. I was living with Mom at the time.

In less than a year, he would come and drop the kids at our doorstep, and leave the county, not to be seen or heard from again for several years. The reason was due to a crime he had committed- he was afraid he would be procecuted for child molestation. ( He passed away in 2006) . His first wife had severral children. At the age of 14, one of her girls told her mother of the molestation that occurred when she was very young. Ultimatly, charges were never pressed. I had to get help from social services and quit my job.

I started sewing at home again, having a great studio space available to me. While at that particular residence, and before Phil brought the kids back; I would start design school at FIDM, but dropped out . I had met an L.A. designer named Sharon. We had volunteered as cast member’s in the 1983 production of “The Glory of Christmas” at the Crystal Cathedral church. This is the famous glass church built by Robert Schuller Ministries. He was a kind man, we shared the same birthday! That year, I followed her around, telling her I could sew. At some point she decided to take me seriously.

Sharon and I worked on many high profile projects together for several years, including costumes for the 1994 World’s Fair. These were outfits for the “Ambassador Band” – a Jazz group who were to tour the country that year to promote the New Orleans World’s Fair. We travelled there, sewing machine in tow. I had to sew through the night in the hotel room of the River Hilton. We ate cajun food at the hotel restaurant. At the time, the French Quarter was undergoing a MASSIVE renovation, to put on the best show possible for the flood of visitors expected. Aside from that, we did other projects together, for such events as the Super Bowl 17 halftime show, and a show called “Up with People ” at Seaworld, San Diego. Also there was a lion tamer’s outfit we made for an animal trainer preforming on the “Johnny Carson” show. The truth being told, even though I was being paid some, in my Naivete’ , I was really being being taken advantage of! When I realized just how bad the abuse was, I walked away! (This is why I am not revealing her full name.)

One Christmas, I started making hand painted silk scarves. We rented a kiosk at the new Main Place Mall in Santa Ana, California. I sold about $9,000 worth of scarves that were completetly hand sewn, dyed and painted. Can you imagine my hands? My Mom still has some of those scarves- One large scarf was actually purchased as a gift for an executiver auto builder. I wonder if he still has it? I sold that 45 inch square of silk for $100!

As usual, styles changed. People stopped wearing scarves. They are back again, but I’m not set up for the mess in this home!

I was single for 33 years after a short marriage to Phil King. We have 2 kids, Mike born in February of ’79 and Crystal – born in January of ’81. Then there is Damien, my third child who was of another father. He was born in October of ’86.

I had to give Damien up for adoption because I did not think I could take care of three kids by myself. My Mom kicked me out of the house when she found I was pregnant, and Mike and Crystal ended up in foster homes. They spent several years being moved from home to home.

Their Dad, P. King was nowhere to be found. He had just dissappeared. When it came time for permanency planning, The social worker asked if I knew how to find him. I suggested they track his social security number. Why couldn’t they think of that?

It turned out he lived in a flat in San Francisco’s Sunset District. Phil was excited to have a chance to get the kids back. Ultimately, we all moved there. (June 30, 1994) After a brief stay at Phil’s friend’s apartment nearby, I rented a basement studio under a house. It was the perfect little apartment to start over. after 2 years, his stability fell apart when his boss died of lung cancer. He could not keep up the bills, and eventually hit rock bottom. At that point, he gave me back the kids. We finally got our own apartment closer to downtown, on the south side of Nob Hill. It was a lovely place with hardwood floors. I stayed there for several years, until going back to Orange county. (After 1-1/2 years I returned to S.F. only to find the rents had tripled! ) That began the secend part of my 12 year saga back and forth up there from Southern California. By the way, I’m from San Diego, and moved to Orange county at age 10.

Back to the San Francisco part of this story…..

I got jobs easily in the Bridal studios in town. While job hunting one day, a sweet japanese designer who had her own studio gave me a suggestion. She told me to go to I Magnin’s and apply for the alteration department.

This was actually life changing! That high-end store in Union Square was the company’s Flag-Ship store. Meaning the first, and well respected in a small chain of stores . So, I passed a sewing test and was hired. That workroom had 40 women and 3 men who were from many countries around the world. Even though there were language barriers; sewing has a universal language of “Show and Tell”.

It was for me Couture School! I was a fitter, and was sent to every clothing department in the store. I learmed about clothes and designers I never even heard of! This was an amazing experience! One day Iwould be inside a $6 to 10,000 Valentino beaded gown, another day it could a resizing of a $4,000 Chanel suit.

So, after the store closed and was absorbed by Macy’s; I met and came on board with Angelo DiRosa. He was a handsome 38 year old blond. I was swept off my feet. Except therre was a big problem. He was gay and had Aids. So did his partner Jimmy who worked in the Tuxedo company our studio shared space with. They would pick me up for work and drive me home most days. Angelo would sell a wedding dress, and I would bring it to life. Finally, he got to the point where he had to stop working, and I had to find another job. There were other Bridal jobs in San Francisco.

The phone book was my best friend! I’d simply go down the list, and in a few minutes I had interviews. If I got the interview, it meant they needed help and I’d go to work! This led me to La Boutique Des Brides at the Gift Center Jewelry Mart. The owner , Hilda was a 50-something Armenian lady who was raised in Paris. She had a beautiful French accent and was nearly always sweet. Her 82 year old mother came to work with her . She sat on a small sofa all day and basted the hems, to mark the line. Here’s a tip: never mark a light colored fabric with dark thread. She used bright magenta and deep blue so she could see, and it always left tiny dots on the gown!

After a while, I got her to use pale pastels, even though using white was the correct method. But it was a compromise I could live with.

Believe it or not, at one point I had worked in 4 shops in that building! Hilda’s competitor, Marie, would try to catch me when I went to the restroom to look at dresses on a customer. Ultimately I worked it out to take her things home, so I wouldn’t get fired. Then, there was the Furrier who had a shop directly the Bridal Boutique. She was not a compettitor; so Hilda didn’t mind.

This was Furs by Ettienne. All three of these shop owners were from Paris! Ettienne taught me new skills in the few hours of the morning. I learned to secrets of working on fur. Not to say I mastered that trade, but the experience added a new skill set to my “tool-box”.

Then there was David’s Bridal. It seemed like a dream job to become the Alteration’s Manager there. After 9 months, I had enough. The stress level was horrific! I won’t slander the company- but I was happy to leave. I needed to get back to a creative flow. So, soon after I decided to leave the San Francisco area. This was mainly due to a relationship gone sour, and I needed to put some distance in it.

Next Post: Heading South Again!- Part 2

I put all my belongings in a storage unit, and took a Greyhound bus to Phoenix Arizona. I spent about three months enjoying the early spring in the desert. The watercolor on my home page was done then. My Mom’s place was on the edge of the mountain range in North Central Phoenix. I did an earlier painting with realistic colors. This one, I just animated the colors. But the scene was realistic in detail. There is a mate to that painting, to show the other half of the view.

At the same time, unknown as to myself, my brother was purchasing the 10 acre estate in the desert outside of Yucca Valley. The property was 10 miles from town. A huge ’80s stucco house, 3000 square feet plus out buildings. And there was the high desert all around us! That’s when I came on board with him, and my Mom and I drove back to San Francisco to get my storage. I had to leave behind an antique 4 poster bed, and 2 dress forms. I simply gave them away to grateful people who happened to be at the storage facility .

With her help, I pared down my posessions to what would fit in a “professionally” packed Ford Windstar van. Mom and I drove the back highways down the state, enjoying the countryside. These were roads neither of us knew so we made an adventure of the trip. We were on our way to Dean’s newly purchased property. Then the advertising balloon making phase began!

My brother had just purchased an estate with a large workshop for his business. Having spent many years as a successful Bridal Dressmaker in the Bay Area, the move was in Perfecly Divinely Orchestrated timing. My younger brother, Dean was in the advertising balloon business. I was entering a business I knew nothing about! But, the sewing skills set I had were more than ample to fit the job .

I became the creative machine, while he was the master salesman. we sold a lot of products, some of which I had my hands on; some not so much. There were the giant inflatables that were custom made in India. I made the patterns for all the sky dancers. Then there were the helium blimps, cutting giant stencils and painting company logos on them. Pop up tent banners, inflatable tubes with a pig or a crab, I made them all- and created the patterns. On top of this, I had to train seamstresses to produce product. There came a point that I got bored with that business. I needed to get back to my first love- just making things spontaneously!

One day, I looked at all the ripstop nylon scraps being thrown away. A frugal person never wastes… especially when it could become another product!

I got the idea to make windsocks! All those long scraps trimmed from the patterns of 15 to 20 foot balloons were perfect! So I started saving everything I could get my hands on.

When my brother decided to close shop after a family tragedy hit, I was allowed to take whatever I could use, including two industrial machines -a newer single needle machine and overlock, I only wish I had grabbed the plotter!

So, in my little rented house in Joshua Tree CA; (the next little town on HWY 62) – I sewed. I had 2 dogs, and occasional adult children living with me when they needed a landing place.

My brother was in mourning from losing his 8 year old disabled son. He travelled the country and exotic places like Balize and Europe. Meanwhile, I salvaged the documents abandoned in his office. I made calls from his customer files. I managed to squeek out a living with the fabric, patterns and machines Dean let me take home.

And I really got into making those windsocks!

This was a fun phase, which ended with a Severed Achilles Tendon ! ( August of 2008) I was dancing in church when it happened. After several months of dealing with the surgery and recovery, my business died. I had to give up the sweet 2 bedroom house I rented. My Mom said “Come to Phoenix!” So, this time it was really hard to tear down a home, because I had done so much to make it mine. I had lived there 3 years. There was a lovely pond surrounded with lush flowers in the front. All my own hard work. Remember, this was the desert. My yard was nothing but sand lined with several large boulders. It was now the oasis of the neighborhood! There was all the furniture I had to sell or give away!

My sofa and loveseat had come from a thrift store nearby. They got it back 2 years later with my new slip covers I had made! I wonder if they recognized the set? Then there were the two dogs. Bear and Mikey. Both Rottie/Shepherd mixes. Not related, they looked very different. Bear was enormous. Mikey was a medium large dog. My friend Diane took them home. So, with my heart breaking and my Achilles mending, I settled into Phoenix Arizona. (It was May 3rd, 2009) I healed and found another Bridal shop to work for. This would be Azteca Bridal.

Then another tragedy struck! My son, Mike was killed on May 30, 2010. He was shot by the police in Joshua Tree, California. I got the call around midnight, the event happenned early that day. He was mentally ill, and supposedly attacked an officer when he was approached. I knew this was plausible, as he had become increasingly violent over the years. So, I chose not to persue the matter and let “sleeping giants” alone!

I had been back in Phoenix for just over a year, and working, going to worship services with my Mom, and learning all about the computer. During the time of my Achilles recovery, I really had an opportunity to get involved on-line with I loved the different categories, and got involved in many craft swaps. This was instrumental in my learning to take and post photos, as well as other P.C. skills. I was nearly computer illiterate until then. Up until then, my brother had taught me to use a plotter cutting ptogram for lettering and other stencils, but I basically had no other skills. It was thru that I first learned about Blogs and ETSY. During this time, our community had an interior decorator/dressmaker pass away. I purchased all I could afford, having to walk away from supplies that I only wish I could have snatched up. The haul included over 300 patterns, boxes of lace, and even a pattern cabinet! My ETSY shop was born!!!

This is when I met my now husband, Jim! We became friends and after 6 years, we married. But I had to go away for four years to take care of my Dad in California. Jim called me constantly. He really was my best friend. Finally, we got engaged over the phone! The changes happened pretty fast after that.

Jim and my mother flew to California to bring my Dad and I back. We got married on Oct. 2nd, my Mom’s 80th birthday! After a while, Jim decided to move to North Carolina. His best friend, Dave kept asking him to come and help him in the Ministry. They are now very involved together in local prison ministry, and other community service.

After past several years of getting married, putting my family first, moving, renovating, and finally seeing life begin to settle, I am now starting to create again!

I’m experiencing a burst of creativity as I do my final sorting after the move. I’m down to this mountain of craft supplies in my little back bedroom. This is the sweet little room that’s all mine; including the stacks of things all around me. None of it can get donated. All of it represents about 13 years of collecting since I left San Francisco in my mother’s van.

I am full of ideas now! They are rushing in like a flood. There is rip stop nylon. There is a huge stash of yarn and stitchery supplies. There are fabric trimming from the bridal alterations. I have a box of dolls I planned to make clothes for. There is a bin full of leather skins. Stencils I made for windsocks, and large format lettering in vinyl and stencils. There’s all the paper goods. Beads of all kinds, including real semi precious stones. Not to mention all the unfinished works, There are wool fabrics for winter wraps and jackets. And random fabrics, trims, the list goes on!

I read once, a bead designer wrote: To be successful, “Stick to one medium.”

So there’s my problem! I have too many options!

Right now I’m working on aprons. I’m going to sew up all I can out of suitable fabrics on hand, and purchase what is needed . The plan is to list them in my much neglected ETSY shop.

Then, I’ll spend a few weeks on the rip-stop nylon, and make up some windsocks, yard flags, decorative banners, lightweight shopping totes, maybe even some fanny packs, I read today those are hot items!

After that, perhaps I’ll do something with all that wool yardage. Easy things. Forget the hard-core tailoring. I know to do it, but It’s very time consuming; and I have a lot of sewing to get done!

I may save those purses and small leather items for later.

Definitely put some jewelry pieces on the list.

And what am I going to do with all that yarn? Use it as a decoration?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Pinterest.

Check out my boards at: www.

Thanks for reading! Karen

Home Made Rosemary Pizza Dough

Greetings!     Today I made my “Home Made Pizza Dough” with an extra ingredient-Rosemary.   I simply ran the rosemary thru the blender and used the fine powder grains. I put the entire jar thru the blender to allow the machine something to work with. After the dough was mixed, I kneaded it in.  You could add it to the wet batter before kneading, but I thought of it after the fact.

Here’s my Pizza Dough Recipe my Dad taught me when I was only 8:

Note- I’ve never used a bread machine in my life- if you want to use yours, use the same proportions but take it out of the machine for rising and baking.

  • 4 cups sifted all purpose or bread flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 packages yeast- or 1 TBSP yeast from a jar (packaged for bread machines)
  • 1 tsp.  sugar
  • 2 TBSP olive or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground Rosemary
  1. Put the 1-1/3 cups warm water in a glass measuring cup or small bowl. Add yeast,  and sprinkle the sugar.  Let yeast activate. ( It foams up in a few minutes) Make sure your water is warm- not hot. Too hot water will kill the yeast.   
  2.  Sift 4 cups of flour into a large bowl.  Set aside 1 cup of this flour for kneading. 
  3. Stir the salt well into the flour.
  4.  Pour the water/yeast mixture in the center of the 3 cups flour, add oil. Mix well with large fork.
  5. Turn out dough onto clean counter top or pastry board, dusted with some of the remaining cup of flour.
  6. Knead in remaining flour. (about 10-15 minutes)  Kneading is a technique requiring practice, but any one can do it!  To Knead, sprinkle dough with flour, and use the balls of both hands to press the flour into the dough. Turn dough a quarter the way around, adding small amounts of dough as you go. Keep this up until you have used all your flour. Dough should feel satiny, not sticky when done. It will have a springy feel to it. If your kitchen is cold, your dough may not respond well. I made a batch in the winter, and the dough felt tough. But we made the pizza anyway!
  7. Lightly oil a clean mixing bowl, preferably glass- since metal can be cold- and turn the dough into the bowl; sparingly oiling the ball as you do so.
  8. Cover the dough with a clean lint free dish towel. Run it under hot water and wring out the excess. try not to let the towel fall down in the bowl.
  9. Set the dough to rise in a place away from drafts. The oven without the heat on is perfect! If you have to use the oven for something else, the microwave is another good place.
  10. In about 1 hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Punch it down, roll back into a ball, and cover as before, let it rise another hour.

You now have your pizza dough! You can divide the dough in half and freeze the other half in a 1 gallon freezer bag. Just set it out to defrost the morning you want it for dinner.

To make your pizza-

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On a floured surface, use your rolling pin to roll out your dough. It will take a bit of effort, as the dough likes to creep back on you. Keep turning as you roll, until it fits the pan.
  3. Lightly oil a pizza pan. Place rounded shape into pan, and push up the edges all around.20180714_165049
  4. You can Pre-bake the crust for a crispy pizza for 5 minutes, or just go ahead and put your toppings.
  5. Spoon a few TBSP. Chef Boy-Ardee’s Pizza Sauce, or your own preferred sauce. Spread evenly out to the edges.
  6. Layer some shredded Mozzarella  Cheese over the sauce, REPEAT.
  7. Add any toppings you wish.
  8. Finish with a final sprinkling of cheese to bind it all together.
  9. BAKE at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 mins. If you pre-baked your crust, you should shorten the baking time. Keep a close watch until you know how your own oven bakes your pizza.
Home Made Veggie Pizza!


DIY Fireplace Renovation Reveal!



Home Renovation- Status Update!

We’ve been busy behind the scenes, and there’s a lot to share.  We just celebrated our first anniversary in this home, on June 9th. My husband, Jim has slowly been attending to finishing details on our remodel/ decorating projects.

Here is a list of recent jobs that are finished…

  • New granite counter tops and backsplash in kitchen. The countertop granite was ordered at Lowe’s. Pattern: “Crescent Veil”; the backsplash was purchased at Home Depot. “Honey Onyx”. My husband put in the backsplash himself, along with all the tile, and refinished all the original hardwood earlier last year.
  • He finished the fireplace! Earlier in the past year, he stripped down the existing wall surface to the studs, and rebuilt it from the cement board out. We chose a 6×12 mosaic called “Desert Quartz”. The hearth remained, as we had to live with the tired old red brick that clash with our gorgeous new stone mantle! Finally we found the perfect slate tile to match. I believe it was called ‘Mongolian Sunset” or “Mongolian Desert”, depending on who was selling it. We found it thru a “for trade- only” source in Fayetteville, N.C. I think they are Del-Tile.  Anyway, to keep the hearth from looking like an afterthought, Jim used the same quartz around the edges, and topped it with the slate. The result is AWESOME!!!
  • Next, he got busy with lighting and ceiling fans. Jim removed the ugly brass fan in the great-room, (It was too low and out dated) and installed an LED tract light. We went with the chocolate color to blend in with the beam where it had to go. Then, he installed 2 new ceiling fans in our room and his office.
  • Meanwhile, I got his 2 vintage colonial swivel chairs re-upholstered! I bought a heavy teal velvet from Joanne’s, and the same in a leaf green for pillows or other items that may need it. ( I haven’t decided yet)
  • The screen porch has been decorated, for the most part. I bought outdoor rugs from E-SALERUGS.COM . Having ordered from them once already, I am thrilled with my second purchase!  Although most of our home is leaning toward the blue-green-yellow-beige color story, I went with a modern damask design in the berry/gold tones. The deciding factor was the marble table top I inherited from my Aunt. It has grey, cream and peachy pink. The rugs were perfect!
  • In same area, I spent the spring attempting to grow an herb garden. Most of those herbs didn’t make it; but I have a few plants that did. Mostly, they are not edibles. I did install some white curtains in 3 sections of the screen porch, mostly for  privacy. Since we like to watch the birds, I did not want to close it all in. I used tension rods since I did not want to puncture the aluminum framing. I still need to re-screen the door, and one or two sections.

Finally, we are down to sorting things,( Like my hoard of tools and craft supplies) and finishing up the remaining plugs and switches, changing a few light fixtures, and other details. A bit of touch- up paint. re-hang some closet doors. Paint the front door and shutters, rails. Plan next year’s outside planting. Oh, those windows that need repair! And, last but not least, there is that not-level bathtub and plastic surround that my husband wants to pull out.  I’ve already chosen the new tub- He wants to replace the surround with tile. It’s a pretty cream colored crackle finish subway tile. Here’s the tub I want. 20170730_1439161344839253.jpg
It’s about 3″ higher than what we have now, and provides room for an adult to move around in! $249.00 at Lowe’s or Home Depot
Thanks for reading! In my next post, I’ll show the finished kitchen with the new counters and backsplash !
Please browse my archives; I’ve just combined my old blogger posts with this new blog. There’s a variety of craft and lifestyle posts. I’m still editing the tags and categories.

Also, I’ve linked my ETSY shop. I’m sorting craft supplies- destash coming soon!

I’d Love to hear from you!  Karen

Knitting Gloves, and a Cap- Works in Progress Completed!

Patterns For Gloves  and Cap are at end of this post.

My Uncle Joe Lives up in Washington State, and is so cold up there! A few years ago he had me knit him a sweater. It was a ribbed , raglan sleeve pullover with an adaptation to the neck- he wanted a turtle neck. We chose  Lion’s Brand Fisherman’s Wool- in a brown and cream twist. It came out great! But moths got to the matching capI made him. Last year he asked for a pair of gloves. Unable to find the mixed color, I purchased the solid versions of the two colors. I made the gloves in brown, and mixed the yarns for a new cap.


Photos: Top Left- My current stash of Patton’s Classic Wool Yarn; Top Right-My Husband’s new gloves in Patton’s wool; Lower Photo- done in Lion’s Fisherman’s Wool, Uncle Joe’s Gloves and new cap halfway done- Twisted Rib Stitch with 2 yarns together on Size 8 needles. I used both a 16″ circular, and a set of 5 in size 8 DPN’s to complete the crown.

Sadly, my left hand glove didn’t match the right, and the cap was too big.

BUT: After successfully knitting up a perfect pair for my husband, I dug out Uncle’s unfinished gloves. After carefully counting the stitches and rows on the right glove, I peeled back till I was at the top of the thumb gusset on the left glove. That’s where the row count went astray. I’m blaming this on the fact that we were on a road trip and I was knitting partly in the dark!

Success! Finally, a perfectly matched pair! When I called my Mom Saturday to get his mailing address, she happened to be on the phone with him; and he said he needed the cap. Ugg! Then I remembered the too big cap in the knitting box. After ripping it apart, I actually managed to get the sizing right this time.

This story will end when I get his feedback , hopefully this week sometime!

Meanwhile, the package is off!!!

The cream yarn in the photo will be a set for my daughter.

Patton's Wool BookMen’s Gloves PatternHis Gloves Page 2 _NEW

This OUT OF PRINT Publication was published by Patons & Baldwins Limited-Great Britain, 1977


I used a set of size 3 DPN’s for a tighter fit, and a set of size 4 DPN’s for a Medium to Large hand. Finger lengths need to be adjusted to fit.

THE CAP: (My own pattern)

Yarn is used as 2 strands worsted wool held together. A  5 inch ball (2 strands wrapped together) will do. For Average  Head, about 22″

Using a size 8, 16″ circular  needle; Cast on 72 Stitches. Use a marker to designate rounds. Work in twisted rib stitch for desired length, at least 9 inches. This gives a cuff. The Stitch: *Knit 1 thru back of stitch, P1, *repeat.

For Crown of Cap: Transfer to size 8 DPN’s-Using a marker; Begin decreasing by continuing to knit thru back stitch. K-2 Tog, K8, continue around.  Next round, K-2 Tog, K7; Next round, K-2 Tog, K6   Continue until you have nearly closed the top. Run yarn through remaining  stitches and pull needle thru hole to inside cap. Work yarns in separate directions to blend in. Block crown if needed with a wad of tissue paper inside crown of cap, and use steam iron without pressure.




A Hand Woven Treasure Found in A Thrift Store!

Here is something so intricate and wonderful, I simply MUST share with the world! At least, anyone who loves or appreciates intricate handi-work.

At first I thought this wall hanging or bed cover was done with a yarn and needle, picking thru an even weave fabric. But, needing to be sure; I peeked inside to look at the edges of the blocks. Amazingly, it turned out to be a Handwoven work!
Each  of the 8 blocks, and the bordering strips were all handwoven of the same Ivory wool, the designs being done in a single color of deep Blue.

The entire piece has a backing of 100% cotton print, in identically matching colors.
In red below each block are the embroidered names of each lady; and the date: 1982
FIRST: The entire work as a whole!

Handwoven Wallhanging/ Coverlet In Wool

Next, Larger details

TOP FOUR BLOCKS-Handwoven Wool Tapestry


Lower Four Blocks

One Of My Favorite Blocks



Major jacket reconstruction finally finished! (Updated post 1-30-18)

We took my Mom shopping and I ended up with several alteration projects. This was a key piece, an expensive  skirt-jacket set that built several outfits.

Mom is 82, with serious spinal issues, including a dowager’s hump. Her posture is now like a question mark. The smaller A- line skirt fit, but we had to order the jacket in a larger size due to a very straight cut. Here’s the list of what I had to do to it:

  1. Take out of the collar 3/4″ from behind the neck.
  2. Raise the shoulders 1″ in back, and 1.25″ in front, tucking 1/2″ under the sides of collar stand to give shaping.
  3. Take in center back seam at neck, and release same seam down center back and thru hem.
  4. Reset sleeves, after dropping armholes 1″ at underarm.
  5. Let out side hips from waist to hem.
  6. Let out Princess seam at bust, and take in same seam thru waist.
  7. Steam out all former seam lines.


1 – TOP LEFT: Center Back  over pressing ham and neck, shoulders in lower corner

2- Top RT:  Center back of collar, and collar stand- altered with seams graded

3-  RT. Middle- Not yet pressed center back seam, removing fabric as matches collar;          tapering into center back to allow room for Dowager’s Hump at upper back.

4-LOWER LEFT:  Front shoulder was taken up more than back shoulder. Mom needed      the front of the jacket shortened through upper torso.

5-  Close-up of back collar sections – All these seams had to be opened horizontally to          take in the vertical seams at back of neck.

6- 2ND from RT.- Interfacing going back in on shoulders. The hand stitching was done on pressed seam allowances, over shoulders, around collar area and shoulders. For added stability, I tacked thru the center front seam allowances also.

7- Armhole- Using paper, I traced front and back armhole prior to cutting new line. Then, pinning paper in place; one area at a time, I traced the new cutting line with thread. After stay-stitching 1/4 inch in from basting stitch, I cut thru lining and outer fabric. NOTE: I pinned the lining to match the outer armhole edges, then moved the lining back about 1/8 inch. This was to ensure the lining didn’t become tight . Sew sleeves back in, being careful not to make any pinches. ( HAND BASTE FIRST)

Finally, I’m ready to ship! ( 2 years later)  The entire garment was carefully steamed by hovering the iron just over the areas, using my presser mits and hams as needed.   I lay the garment on the table face down, and folded it sides in to center with lot’s of white tissue paper. Then, turning it over, the front and sleeves were stuffed with paper, including some under the collar folds. The entire garment was then folded in half. Lastly, it was inserted fold first into a 2 gallon Zip-bag, with a couple extra items just for love!

Thanks for reading!   If you have to alter something like this, Please share!









It’s Time to Get Back to My Knitting! I have dolls to make.

18 Inch Knitted Dolls
Please Finish Us!

I am finally taking a break from home renovations and such to sitting down with my knitting. Here are two dolls that need to be completed and dressed.   There is my Mom’s jacket I am altering . I was going to finish the jacket today, but the day is nearly over!

As for other projects, I’m looking forward to doing a series on upcycling: as I have a pile of clothes to re-construct. Skirts into blouses, that sort of thing. There is a pile of colorful t-shirts I’m thinking of turning into soft toys for giving to local children. Perhaps a trip to a local hospital’s children’s ward ? These are the thoughts on my craft agenda.

What to do with that box of Dad’s neckties? And that box of soft leather skins I’ve had for years? Then there are bins full of fabrics and projects set aside!

With an abundant stash of fabric , yarn and craft supplies to work with~ There is much to look forward to sharing with you as the year unfolds. The last of the painting can wait. It’s knitting time!