The Sofa

Who knew that a simple piece of furniture could change your perspective?

The same sofa sectional had been in my living room for as long as I could remember. My parents brought it to the house from their apartment in the Bronx when they purchased the house in the late 1970’s; so that should give you some idea of old it was. It was old school as well… covered in plastic that was cracking and dreadful to sit on in the dead of summer and had a gold paisley pattern on it. I’m not 100% sure why my parents never changed it. My Mom has a tendency of not wanting to let go of things. When she ended up in a nursing home due to a stroke and my Dad was in the hospital for a second time I thoroughly cleaned up their bedroom to make room for the hospital bed he would ultimately need. And boy, were there a lot of things to get rid of. In this living room with said sectional there are also wood paneled walls, also there for as long as I can remember. Probably before my parents bought the house, so it’s not the nice modern ones you see nowadays. I long dreamed of taking down the paneling, painting the walls a bright white (something completely opposite of the dark paneled walls), ripping up the carpets to expose the original hardwood floors and of course getting rid of the sectional.

After my Dad passed away I remember sitting on that sectional and wondering what life would be like now alone in the house. Making changes to the living room was the furthest thing from my mind. I think I found comfort in the familiarity. Seeing it the same allowed for memories to easily flood my thoughts. I could easily remember sitting on that couch eating my dinner – the dinner my Dad put aside for me in a tupperware that I only needed to pop in the microwave to heat up after arriving home from work in the city – and talking to him about my day. Little by little though I did make some changes. I moved my Dad’s recliner to the perfect corner so there would be more space in the living room. I moved the rocking chair to what I still refer to as my parents’ bedroom even though my Mom hasn’t been in the house in five years and my Dad passed away three years ago. And eventually I removed two pieces of the sectional. Removed sounds a lot nicer than I threw them out, which is what I really did do. I don’t really recall what prompted me to do it. It was time I guess. Of course I took a picture so that I won’t have to think too hard to remember what it used to look like.

The one piece I held on to was the curved middle piece. For two reasons, Lucky, my dog, liked to go under the sofa and I still needed a place for people to sit when they came over. Granted it was a small piece, but, it was something. I had visions in my mind of what I wanted the remodeled living room to look like. I was thinking light aqua walls, whitewashing the accent brick wall, hardwood floors and some patterned curtains. Oh, and I had a vision of a grey couch with studding. I stuck up color swatches on the wall to get ideas for the right shade of aqua and I ordered curtain swatches to match them to my chosen wall color. And then recently something changed. We spend a lot time living our lives with a vision of a future that may or may never come. We think to ourselves, oh, when this happens then I’ll do x y and z. But, what if that thing never happens. What if we never meet the right person, never get our dream job and desired salary, or whatever else it is that we are waiting for? Are we supposed to give up on the dreams we hope would follow? Absolutely not. We should find a way to make anything and everything happen that will make us happy. So, there I was waiting for the perfect salary to have enough money to do everything I wanted all at once. But, I realized that what I wanted was to be able to sit in my living room now and watch television, read a book, crochet/knit, etc. So, I decided I would buy a new sofa, nothing expensive. But, something to hold me over until I could get what I really wanted. I decided on my favorite color, navy blue.

I did some research online and then went to the store armed with a tape measure to measure the space between the sofa and the floor. I was hoping to find something that Lucky would still be able to sneak under. He’s 17 and as silly as it sounds I didn’t want him to feel slighted by the new piece of furniture. That I was somehow displacing him from the home he has known since he was few months old. I almost picked a different sofa that would have afforded him the space to go underneath, but, in the end stuck to the one I liked and wanted. That evening I decided that since my new sofa wouldn’t be delivered for another week and a half that I would throw out that final curved piece on the next garbage day to get Lucky used to the idea of not going underneath the new one. Dogs can really take over your life. I also decided that I would breathe new life into my Dad’s old recliner with a new cover. I wasn’t sure if recliner covers existed but a quick internet search let me know otherwise. So, I removed that final piece of the sectional, vacuumed the rug and ordered a grey cover for the recliner in anticipation of my new sofa. And I began to think, maybe I should change my vision and make this new sofa the focal point of it. So, gone were the ideas of aqua walls and in place of it a nice shade of green (although lately I am starting to lean towards a shade of white) which would go nicely with the brick accent wall that I now wouldn’t have to whitewash. I am still holding on to some cool patterned curtains though – I recently ordered a new assortment of fabric swatches to go with this new color scheme. And I am still planning on exposing those hardwood floors that I am sure will have to be stained because of the accident or two (or more) that Lucky has had.

And then the day arrived… My new sofa came. It fit into its designated space perfectly and I was in awe of how it changed the whole look of my living room, even with its old curtains and paneled walls. Later that day the recliner cover arrived and I couldn’t wait to put it on and was once again happy at how it completely changed the look of the room as well. The following day I went out and purchased a new lamp. A silver base with a white scale pleat shade to replace the gold base lamp with an almond color shade. I also purchased new picture frames for a few of the pictures that hang on the wall.

As I sit in my living room now I am happy with the space I have created. And while I have lived in this home for many years (we’ll just say 30 plus), and have lived in it alone for 3, it’s finally beginning to feel like my own, all thanks to a sofa.

The Elusive Magic Ring in Crochet

I have been crocheting for quite a few years now and I still get stumped when it comes to certain stitches and I’ll admit that I will avoid certain patterns if it includes an unfamiliar stitch. Like those FPDC that I see sometimes, which simply stands for Front Post Double Crochet. HUH? I just pass those over. Eventually I will break down and try it, but, for now, I will stick to simple stitches that still create beautiful pieces. I am more apt to try these different stitches when it comes to knitting. Which is kind of a little backwards since with knitting if you mess up it is a bit more complicated to remove all the loops from the needles to rip out the yarn from the “bad” part of the pattern and then reinserting the needles once again. With crocheting you simply remove the one loop from your hook, pull the yarn and then reinsert the one loop back on to your crochet hook. Maybe I just like to do things the hard way. Although, some will argue that knitting is the easier of the two because it involves only two stitches, knit and purl, whereas crochet has more. For example that FPDC I mentioned before, as well, SC (single crochet), dc (double crochet), hdc (half-double crochet) and so forth.

I recently came across a pattern that I wanted to make that I am a bit off season for now. Well, a season late you can say. It’s a Christmas Tree Skirt. I have been wanting to make one for a while, but, I just didn’t care for the patterns I saw. And then, right before the holidays I found one that I thought would be perfect. It was a bunch of hexagons stitched together to form the skirt. I figured hexagons I could handle, although the stitching them together not so much. It’s not that I can’t handle it, but, if you read my A New Year post you will know that I still have a shrug I made over three years ago that I haven’t stitched together. I’m a procraftinator who doesn’t like stitching things together. But, I figured if I start now I have a solid 9-10 months to get it done. And then I started and instantly ran into problems. I’ve crocheted shapes before so I was fine with that, but, the starting point was to create a Magic Ring and that’s where I hit a major hiccup. I watched tutorials online and finally thought I had gotten it, but, it just didn’t seem right. I felt like I had too much yarn in the ring and then that the ring wasn’t “thick” enough for me to stitch my other stitches around. The advantages of the magic ring is that you are able to pull the yarn so you end up with a closed circle in the center, as opposed to the open one you get if you crochet a short chain (about 6 chains) and then join it with a slip stitch. Which is perfect if you are crocheting in the round and/or making amigurumi – the Japanese art of making small yarn creatures. I thought, is a small hole in my hexagon worth this headache. No it’s not. So, I decided to ditch the magic ring and went the chain and slip stitch route instead and found a better pattern for the hexagons and am about a third of the way done crocheting them. I still have to get the yarn for the other two colors. I want a certain shade of red and green to go along with the silvery gray I got and of course since its right after the holidays the colors are out of stock at my local craft stores. Well, they did have some but, they all weren’t the same lot numbers and I already learned my lesson about lot numbers! Quick story, I knitted a blanket for a friend’s baby and one of the yarns wasn’t the same lot number as the other ones. So, when I finished the blanket that one section of the blanket stood out from the rest. That’s when I went and checked the labels and saw that one of the labels had a different number from the rest although was the same color, hence, me learning the hard way about lot numbers. Thankfully she loved the blanket and didn’t notice the difference until I pointed it out to her. That was my first big knitting project actually!

So, maybe I will master the Magic Ring one day, just like those FDPC’s, but, for now, I am happy with my simple method of a chain and a slip stitch to start my crocheting in the round. Besides, I don’t think my hexagons are looking all that bad with the small hole in the middle.

A New Year…

The holidays are officially over! Yes, I believe in the 12 days of Christmas and that the holidays officially end on January 6th. Too bad I can’t gifts like the song though, not necessarily 5 golden rings, but maybe 5 skeins of yarn and 4 pairs of shoes as opposed to the calling birds. You catch my drift. All in all though my holidays were good. Filled with good times with friends and family and delicious food and treats. I am planning on getting my house back to “normal” this week. I unplugged my Christmas lights this morning, I never want to be the house with the lights on after the fact, and will start taking down decorations today. Not like it’s a lot, but, I don’t want to just rip it all down and throw it back in the box. I like to take my time.

How has the New Year been treating you thus far? A week in and I have no complaints. Although one could complain but it doesn’t mean anything will change overnight. I am not one to make resolutions. If you want to make a change then make it. I read an article recently that said we sometimes make these grand resolutions without truly giving thought as to how to accomplish them. You can’t simply say I am going to lose weight this year. There has to be something behind it. For example, I will walk/jog/run x amount of days per week, or I will watch my intake of certain foods, and so forth. I think making small life changes like that can have a bigger impact on one that some broad goal. I do apologize if that is your resolution and I just burst your bubble. By no means was that my intention. And while I don’t make specific resolutions I think what I am trying to keep in mind this year is Einstein’s definition of insanity… Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I know I want certain things to happen and other things to change but hoping they will happen without doing anything differently isn’t going to get my anywhere near those goals. I hope you will all get something out of that one. It’s definitely an important life lesson that can drive us to take chances and push us out of our comfort zones, which I have found always leads to a rewarding experience. There’s nothing like finding out you are a lot stronger physically, mentally and emotionally than what you think.

One thing I need to stop doing this year is being a procraftinator. Yes, you read that correctly, a procraftinator. I have numerous projects lying around that need to be finished. Just how bad am I? Well, I have a shrug that I finished knitting 3 years ago that I still haven’t stitched together. Don’t ask me why, I can’t really give you an answer on that one. Maybe it’s because finishing my yarn projects is my least favorite activity. But, I am sure once I start and finish I will be so happy I did. I also have a scarf I started over the summer (or maybe it was sooner) that I put down and just never picked up again. This seems to a recurrent problem of mine… LOL! I just put something else on my knitting needles that I am determined to finish, especially since it’s a small project, a coffee cozy. A friend gave me a cup for Christmas that needs one if I plan on drinking hot tea from it. I began to think that just maybe I could make them and sell them on my Etsy shop. Yes, I still have my Etsy shop (CraftedByFran). I haven’t mentioned it, but, it’s still there. I have actually found it a bit frustrating because getting sales is such a challenge, well, getting traffic to my shop is the main challenge. I have updated my keywords and still nothing. Not really sure how some people have it so easy. If any of you can offer some tips and tricks I am all ears!

And just maybe this year I will work on creating my own baking recipes. Cooking is a lot easier and forgiving, but, baking not so much. I have dabbled with it and have had success but I definitely need to delve more into it. I always have recipe ideas swirling around in my head, but I just need to build the confidence to come up with the ingredient list on my own and not depend on Google so much. I have baked enough that I should be able to do so. Who knows, maybe one day I will write my own cookbook. It would definitely be a mish mosh of different things… LOL! Did I just throw something out into the universe? Oh wait, I didn’t explain that one. Some people believe that in order for things to come to fruition you need to say them to the universe. I guess the universe needs to hear you in order to answer you.

Hopefully I will be blogging more often and including more posts like these. A little rambling, a little insight, a little more about me. I’ve been doing this for about 7 years now so I figured it’s about time. So, I welcome 2019 and whatever it has to offer and teach me.