New knitting room

Well, well. Our new home has a (ahem) bonus room in the lower level. Maybe we’ll turn it into an exercise room. Um. No. Maybe we’ll turn it into another guest bedroom. Um. No. I now have a knitting room! I am so pleased that I can hardly contain myself. I don’t want to get on too much of a digression but that is a strange way to express intense joy, in terms of being unable to contain yourself. But on this occasion it’s apt.

My new knitting room is a place for all things knitterly, and yarnie, and also a place for remembering good people. The bent wood stick chair was my grandfather’s. I’m no spring chicken so you know it’s old. Pa used to sit on that chair, which was in his basement. That’s where he changed out of his work boots and into something more house-appropriate.

The carved map behind the chair is of Hillman’s Long Lake. My younger brother gave us the map and it will forever remind me of good times at the lake and my brother. My swift and ballwinder need no introduction to you yarnie folks. An assortment of knitting bags are sewn from a number of needlepoint pieces my mom left me. They hang on a (new) coatrack its designer calls “Knit.” I couldn’t resist. My knitting room isn’t all looking to the past. I’ve added new stuff too. My new work table is “Jive” from Haworth, a cool Holland Michigan company. The yellow chair is one of a set of four I purchased several years ago from Overstock. Super comfy, very sturdy, and totally colorful. My granddaughter made my new snips container by decorating a paper carton Robinette’s orchard uses to pack fruit. The tall staff with the red apple on top was carved by my older brother.

By now, you get the focus of my new knitting room. It’s wonderfully unfocused. Knitting. Yarn. Old stuff. New stuff.

My rocker is the best place ever for comfy knitting. Good light roo. And that’s another of my older brother’s creations next to it. He’s an avid fisherman and often paints and carves fish into his furniture pieces. You can see him and more of his work here in my “I knit for folk art” 2010 post.

My knitting room has a shelf its entire length. I’ve peopled it, well crittered it, mostly with my recent stuffies. I knit almost all of them while we waited patiently/impatiently from the closing date to our very delayed move-in. Except, that sheep in the corner. Do you recognize that she’s a version of the Serta mattress company’s advertising mascot?

I found my metal sheep mascot in the mattress section of a local furniture store near Grand Rapids. I sort of, to be honest, begged the owner to sell me that sheep. Sheepie was a dusty mess but cleaned up very nicely after a sudsy bath in Dawn dishsoap.

My new sheep magnetic board is from Wayfair. Many of my favorite photos have found their new home, including one of 3-year old me standing behind Pa’s chair looking a bit mischievous.

My new space has lots of room for knitted critters, including Jutta, Olivier, Vera, Joris, and the rest of my Annita Wilschut gang. The mini storage drawers on the ledge contain my buttons, all nicely sorted by color or style.

The wall opposite my critter ledge is a great spot for my yarn bins and tools. That’s my Ravatar doll slumping on top of one of the plastic shelving units. Most of my bookcase is devoted to paper patterns and books. I ruthlessly trimmed back on these in recent years as I went (mostly) all-in on digitized patterns. I’ve kept the special books and discontinued non-digitized patterns. Otherwise my library of books and patterns found new good homes.

My granddaughter visited here last month. She loves to draw and I found this near my swift one afternoon.

She has a new desk that sits just outside my knitting room and she’s drawn it in the foreground. The package of Dutch Cocoa cookies she’s given me needs a bit of explanation.

They are Evelyn’s favorite cookies. I plan to frame her drawing and add it to my knitting room permanently.

Moving takes a lot out of a person. Especially an old one! But I love our new home and our new part of Michigan. And I definitely love my new knitting room.

My new knitting workshop

I think most every old house has a room that somehow was forgotten down through the decades. My house was built in 1931. Maybe that was the last time my basement laundry room got any real TLC. It received periodic cleaning and occasional painting. Oh yes, also visits from the plumber and the furnace and air conditioning repair person. The ceiling was a maze of gas piping to long-gone furnaces. The plumbing, pretty much the same. I got the idea I really wanted to spruce it up and make it into a very useful room, including as a blocking space for knitted projects and a place where I could permanently keep my swift and ball winder mounted.

First, the before photos:

This was about as good as it got, a cupboard sturdy enough to use as a bomb shelter and a pegboard for tools:

This freestanding cupboard was so heavy it had to leave the basement in pieces. And, you get a glimpse of the paint peeling off the cement floor that had apparently never been properly prepared to receive paint. Because any time it got wet, the paint peeled off. Any scrape across the floor and it shed more paint. The silver heating vents added such a nice touch.

The long black air-conditioning snake slithering across the wall also crossed the ceiling on its way to the heat exchanger in the basement. Such a nice decorative touch.

The laundry tub and washing machine and dryer had partly been re-plumbed when this photo was taken. In the initial phase of the project, and for all the 24 years I’ve been living in this old house, there was even more piping showing.

This was possibly the worst of the worst. My humidifier drained from the furnace to a floor drain. And, at times, it overflowed a bit. It was unsightly, a trip hazard, and unsanitary as well.

So, this was all pretty nasty. Lighting consisted of two bare lightbulbs. Ugh.

How about this for a transformation? The vintage drop leaf table is a Craiglist find and is a great surface for blocking projects. The rug is from Home Goods. The flooring is Armstrong VCT tiles. The swing-arm light is’s Reed in their copper finish. Reed seems to have disappeared from the website and only the cord-hanging Wallace remains, but it’s the same lamp.

In this view, you can also see the six panel screen that now hides my furnace. It can just be moved aside to gain access to the furnace and all its related mechanics. I added a condensate pump to the furnace system, so now the cast-off from the humidifier doesn’t need to drain to the floor. It’s pumped over to the same stand-pipe that my washing machine discharges into. We got rid of as much stray old piping as we could. Instead of my gas-line looking like a pencil-line drawn through a maze, it come in and just goes where it’s needed.

Speaking of the laundry area:

Now the laundry area is well-lit and well thought out. Instead of 2 bare bulbs, the new room has four sets of track lighting (3 lights each), two undercounter lights (each under the cabinets near the new work surfaces), in addition to the swing-arm light by my blocking table.

The new cabinets are great! They are also made in Michigan. Instead of wood that might warp in the humidity this room sometimes dishes up, the doors are coated in a vinyl-type product that is molded onto the cabinet in the last phase of the fabrication. I selected an easy-care formica-like product for the new worksurfaces.

This next set of cabinets is behind my furnace. The tall cabinet in the corner is perfect for my steamer. And the shelf inside holds all my foam blocking boards.

This room previously had one electrical outlet near the appliances that I was afraid to plug anything else into. There was one outlet in the ceiling and the other outlet was near the water meter located about one foot from the ceiling. If I wanted to iron, I’d have to bring a stepstool to the outlet to plug the iron in. Now I don’t have any excuse for not ironing. I’m still 5’3″ but there are grounded outlets all over the place. While I was renovating, I also put in new electrical service. And the entire ceiling was spray painted a very sweet yellowy beige, which has improved the look of the laundry room quite remarkably.

Back in the furnace area is where I photograph my knitting for this blog and to post on Ravelry. I bought a very inexpensive but sturdy folding table, but found it was about 3 inches too small to comfortably hold my Modahaus photo studio. There was a piece of cabinetry that was supposed to be used around my new deep laundry tub, but something didn’t fit and so it was going to be discarded. I unscrewed one side of it, set it on top of my folding table and, wonder of wonders, it fit perfectly, didn’t wobble, and gave me just the few extra inches I needed to create a great spot for my studio.

Now, for the area in the room that is probably my favorite spot. I splurged on a great little workbench and new pegboard. Here’s one view, and then another, and then another (because I just can’t get over how nice it came out):

The steel pegboard is by Diamond Life. It comes in a zillion colors and this one, colonial red, even matched my floor tile. My workbench is a “Duo” from the Swedish maker, Sjobergs. That’s also my 30-year old Swedish swift. It’s really been a workhorse. If I want to collapse it, I cover it with a needlepoint bag that my mother made for me many years ago. The new addition to the knitting tools is a Strauch Jumbo Ball Winder. I’m still in the learning stage as far as the tensioning goes on the Strauch.

I still have my favorite knitting spots upstairs. But I feel like I’ve found a whole new room in my old house.