a penny rug and some big decisions

I want to talk about my latest project, this penny rug, but I feel like I’ve been run over by a 10 ton mack truck of stress. We’ve been house hunting on and off now for a few months (which by the way, I am not cut out for at all) and last week the right job/right house stars seemed to align and we’ve been on the verge of a big move for days. We decided last night it wasn’t right. And although I know it was the right decision for now I’m depressed as hell. I need some cheering up. I need to talk craft again and not mortgage and commutes and school ratings and what our idea of happily situated actually is. I feel beat up by Chicagoland, like nothing is quite right. gah, I could go on and on about compromise and how in the world is one supposed to know what’s going to end up a good fit, but I won’t. I’m going to drown my sorrows in a trip to Ikea/Mitsuwa, get started on new projects, catch up on blogs and talk about my new penny rug dammit.

Inspired by all the trips to the "country" lately and the stops at antique/gift shops and amazing quilt shops have had me inspired by cross stitch and penny rugs and folk art kits. I cannot wait for Amy’s mail order cross stitch pattern! And after hearing her and Sarah talking about penny rugs for forever I finally dove in and country crafted it up. I’d bought these beautiful wools on our various stops and decided to start cutting little circles. Turns out to be the perfect "I’m so stressed I might die" project by the way, mindlessly blanket stitching circles. I’m amazed this thing worked out at all as i was so distracted the entire time I worked on it. I just made a quick sketch and started cutting. I’m relieved. It’s cute! And I’m just making it under the wire as a baby gift for a friend. Those nine months go awfully quick when you’re not actually carrying the baby.

I’m not trying another one though until I get one of those fancy blanketstitching sewing machines! Oh, and it’s 9" x 13".

Thanks for all the tips on dying muslin by the way. I’m hoping to get some coffee, tea, baking sugar, staining, stretching fabric time in this weekend. But first I need to gather just the right pinecones. Time to start enjoying Fall around here!

57 thoughts on “a penny rug and some big decisions

  1. Jackie says:

    Oh, this looks too wonderful! I hope you’ll show us the whole thing at some point! What a sweet little face on the little one. I love making anything with wool! I do like the penny rugs and any wool applique. Thanks for sharing it. I hope all the house stuff works out – the right thing will come along and you’ll absolutely know it when it does.

  2. Jackie says:

    OK -ignore the part about seeing the whole thing – my computer just loaded slowly and I only saw part when I left the comment – now I see it all and it’s FABULOUS!!

  3. Elizabooth says:

    The rug is beautiful. And may I say, house hunting is awful. The period that it took us to buy our first house (which was about 8 months, minus a two month break during which I gave birth) was easily the most trying portion of my marriage thus far. I’m amazed we made it through it — such a weighty and stressful decision. Hang in there!

  4. blair says:

    Ah, the big “do we/don’t we” scenario, those decisions can really keep you up at night. I’ve been there, its no fun. I like your strategy for getting past it though. Make penny rugs for the world!!!
    And…is there actually a machine that’ll do blanket stitching? Where the hell have I been?

  5. Mama Urchin says:

    Really cute. My daughter asks me at least once a day if she can sit on my lap and we can “read the olive and archie first day of third grade story.” Saying she loves the make-a-long would be an understatement and we haven’t even made anything a-long yet.

  6. Melissa says:

    Your rug is beautiful! Don’t stress out too much about house hunting. When we bought our first house, nothing seemed right. All of a sudden all sorts of houses showed up, and after that everything just fell into place. You just need to have a bit of paitence (and maybe some chocolate).

  7. capello says:

    Oy. All that house/job stuff sounds stressful. That’s why I’ve decided we’re never moving. Never.
    Your penny rug is beautiful, can’t believe you can make something so awesome in the midst of everything else.

  8. Gayla says:

    Great rug! I hated house hunting too.
    To imitate a blanket stitch I set my sewing machine to the blind hem setting, with a very small/tight stitch count and a mid range setting on the stich width(zig-zag). Clear as mud right? It is a great stich for machine aplique.

  9. hannah says:

    craft therapy is good. get your strenght up for round two. this morning i realized i have one year to figure out where eliot is going to kindergarten. oh my god…

  10. Strikkelise says:

    Love the rug. Love the little circles.
    Househunting is a drag, most of the time. And a load of work. I’ve had my head in the sand for years. It’s not just the “do we like it, can we afford it, is it good for the kids”, but if you DO like it and all, you have to start bidding and crap which *might* end up well, and very well might end up a disappointment.
    I’ll stick to crafting for a little while longer, I think.

  11. Reba says:

    i feel ur pain re: house hunting. very deeply. my hubby, daughter and i are in chicago, too and trying to figure out where we should be that is convenient to work, has good schools, etc. meanwhile, i’m feeling like i’ve had it with chicago. should we move elsewhere? where? best friend and her fam moved to portland a few months ago. we visited a few weeks ago and i LOVED it. but would we find employment there? anyways, you are not alone in the search for a place to live happily. *GOOD LUCK*
    Keep on craftin’- your work is gorgeous!

  12. carol says:

    ick- those changes can really be depressing, I can totally relate and hope you will be at peace soon…I often get waves of desire to move and make BIG changes, but then I am reminded of what keeps my family grounded and it helps…for awhile.
    how nice to fall back onto some great work to ease the aggravation. some people don’t know what to do with themselves and waste days away. give yourself a bit pat on the back!

  13. Claire says:

    This is adorable. I’m sorry to hear about the stress, though. A trip to Mitsuwa always cheers me up, but I’m so sad since the ceramics store left! IKEA just makes me crazy, though.
    Good luck with the house hunt!

  14. Amy says:

    I so missed the question about dying muslin – walnut ink http://www.walnutink.com/ is a must try – especailly if you want to control where you dye & how dark…
    Since it is chrystaline, you can controll the darkness & you can paint it where you want it to go… want some brown spots on that cheetah – you can paint them on…
    P.S. you can buy it elsewhere & you can use it on paper and other stuff besides fabric.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Hillary,
    I think I feel your pain. I went through the agonizing job/house changing moving thing twice in the past two years, now we pay rent that’s twice our mortgage in Austin, hoping to buy a place that’s 4 times the cost of the house of Austin. Talking about real estate makes my head feel like it’s going to cave in….
    ANYWAY, the rug is so cute – I’m not familiar with the term “penny rug” but I’ll be sure to look it up now. 🙂

  16. Alicia P. says:

    Oh honey, I’m so sorry. There is nothing more frustrating and hateful than house-hunting, I know. It’s like, you’re like, “I have to choose from the ones that are actually FOR SALE in my PRICE RANGE? And not the ones in my dreams, or even those ones just across the street that aren’t for sale??? CRAP!!!!!!!” And that’s if you actually even like where you are.
    Well, the penny rug is stunning.
    It’ll work out. Hang in there. Hang in there.

  17. Stacy says:

    Sigh, I feel your pain – we’ve been casually looking at houses lately. Unfortunately, everything within our price range looks exactly like our current house, but tack on an extra $50,000 to it. UGH, I need to win the lottery.
    I love the new penny rug!

  18. famjaztique says:

    Hi. I’m new around here, but your blog pulled me right in. All your work is just fabulous and I feel so inspired right now that I think I’m actually going to dig out my sewing machine and see if I can remember how it works. I have a wedding in a week, and a tight budget. Any suggestions?
    I have so been there about making a decision that you know is right, but still feeling depressed after. I just recently made the decision to put off moving (to go to grad school) so that my kids can stay in the same schools until graduation. I knew in my heart is was the right decision, but I still felt really really blue about it.

  19. joy says:

    hillary,
    i think we should meet up and go thrift store/junk store shopping
    it cures just about anything
    (at least for a short time)
    and top it off with some sort of extra fattening dessert.

  20. Erica says:

    The rug looks great — so cheery on such a grey day! And I sympathize completely, as we have had it up to HERE (imagine me gesturing violently at the crown of my head) with the Chicagoland real estate market. Glad you have a nice stress-relief project on hand. Hang in there!

  21. Amy says:

    Oh, you poor baby. Buying the two houses I’ve had almost killed me. The first time was the worst because I was single and doing it on my own, but it wasn’t quite so bad going through it with my husband. You are fortunately not dealing with the whole buying AND selling thing. That domino effect is even worse. I just made a new friend from Chicago who moved downstate near me and she was able to build a huge house on a lake here rather than purchase a small condo up there. I’m just sayin… I know your family’s probably up there and all but you get a lot for your money down here.
    Anyway, hope you find something you love and is a perfect fit for your family. Can’t wait to see the “Hillary” stamp on a home. It will rival Martha’s to be sure 🙂

  22. tania says:

    that is one handsome penny rug-
    hang in there! i felt like i couldnt focus my eyes i was so stressed and fuming that the neighborhood i rented in was now too cool and expensive for renters to buy in and oh how unfair- and then after feeling all homeless our guy called to say he saw this place that may be just right for us and it was! my god what a roller coaster- anyway, blah blah, easy for me to say but you’ll find something “just right”.

  23. Jennifer says:

    Sorry to hear that things didn’t align the way you hoped. If you need any more Tokyo real estate market humor, please let me know! The penny rug is totally charming. And when you start cross stitching, as me anything you want, as I am the cross stitch Queen.

  24. June says:

    The penny rug is adorable; you create such fun things.
    In reference to the moving angst, sometimes it’s more exhausting and worrisome to say no to something than it is to say yes. It’s hard to know at times what we don’t want/need as well as what we do want/need.

  25. snowbear says:

    u mean I shoulda been making a penny-rug through all my house-hunting trama? Heck, if I had only known!
    I hear ya loud and clear–today I went shopping for a new desk for my studio to make this house a better fit for me. I can’t bear to think of all the time I wasted researching a certain place just to still be standing in the same place. “The town may change but the well still abides”
    My current craft project is “the home”.
    Good luck!

  26. Adriana says:

    Ah… decisions… I’m making big decisions as well, so I understand how you feel.
    I know it’s not much, but I send you much positive energy and hope things work out just the way you dream.
    Best wishes!

  27. Beth says:

    Sorry you are feeling so stressed. Things will work out the way they should in the end. BUT, you stress seems to cause you to produce one beautiful penny rug!

  28. Melissa says:

    Lovely rug, someone else also asked but I”m wondering how big it is. It’s hard to get a sense of scale. Placemat size?
    Good luck on the house, moving sucks even more than house hunting so at least you’ve avoided that for a while more.

  29. Selena says:

    I spent 8 years searching for our dream place to live. It had to be semi rural but near a city, it had to have a Waldorf school, it had to be safe, it had to have access to organic food and so on. We moved from England, to Wales, back to England, to Virginia and finally to an island near Seattle before we found it. Buying a house and moving has to be one of the most stressful things ever. I love the discovery of a new house and a new area but I must admit I’m thankfully done with it. We finally found our dream place to live and finally found the perfect house (until I make my first couple million and buy waterfront property). I love the penny rug. I have never heard of these before and am curious what they are for. Where did you get the idea for the hat? My children both wore those when they were babies.

  30. sadira says:

    oh stress…darn it! Me too, no sleep, waking up at odd hours…at least I’m losing weight (bleah) Searching for a home is quite an experience, but you know what? When it’s the right one, you’ll just KNOW it! Probably close to the same feeling when you found your honey! Craft through the crazies…

  31. Heidi says:

    Great advice, above, June.
    The only good thing is that by waiting, you’ll probably find something better for less money, since the Chicago market is now “softening”–which is not so great for those of us who have to sell soon.
    I’m a North Sider who only wishes I could afford to live in Oak Park!

  32. amisha says:

    the penny rug is very cute… looks like a relaxing project! i really like the color of the background.
    good luck with this stressful time… i moved/bought a first house last year, and it was insane and surreal. i tend to dig my heels in before any big change and not really adjust till afterwards, so much stress. and in a tight housing market it’s even crazier! hope it all works out for you in time and that the crafts keep you steady in the meantime!

  33. Debra Roby says:

    A gorgeous pennyrug. funny I love doing buttonhole by hand better than machine.
    About the househunting.. it’s a royal pain. And since I’ve spent the month getting a house ready to sell, I can say it’s a pain from both sides.

  34. van says:

    hey, we’re moving too! so im right there with you hun, except for now i don’t have to worry about it being perfect – but it seems so perfect for now -. i know we’ll have to move in a couple of years but for now im settled.
    cute rug by the way, so simple and adorable.
    hang in there sweet pea. we’re all here for crafty talking.

  35. jenatwork says:

    Your penny rug is the awesomest. And don’t let Chicagoland beat you down. My partner and I love it here, but we are continuously stunned by how hard Chicago makes you work. Hang in there.

  36. Lotta says:

    As always I give a big covetous sigh when I see your awesome work. Hang in there with the house hunting. Let me know if you need that other realtor hookup.
    Have you made anything with Oscar’s baby clothing? I think a collage/rug like this one with pieces of his clothes would look great!

  37. cpl says:

    Stay in Chi-town! IT rocks…and believe me, I know its not cheap, but it sure is a lot cheaper than either of the coasts. And, the people seem oh so much nicer, too. Gotta love midwesterners. Really, I’m serious. I’m a displaced midwesterner up in the northeast.

  38. Kristin says:

    I know exactly how you feel about the house hunting. My husband and I are doing that very thing, and a couple of weeks ago found the perfect house only to find out it had sold the day we saw it. So sad. But just remeber as I have to also that it wasn’t meant to be. Your rug is gorgeous too!

  39. Cristina says:

    Another displaced midwesterner here! I add my good thoughts to everyone else’s for something right to come along wherever you decide to land. Don’t leave Chicagoland before trying Irazú at Milwaukee and Oakley (sounds vaguely Japanese crafty, but it’s actually a really great Costa Rican restaurant).

  40. Amber says:

    Oh, the woes of the househunter. I can only tell you what helped us. We made a list of what we wanted and what we could afford and what our priorities were and then REVISED it. First we had things like 1 or 2 bedrooms, good kitchen, this price range, etc. Then we saw a few places that fit those criteria but that we didn’t want and realized “Oh! As it turns out, I’m willing to do some renovation, but I can’t handle the thought of moving in somewhere I can’t scrub the kitchen and use it as is for at least a time. And as it turns out, we thought we wouldn’t look in xyz neighborhood, but we were tempted by some of the listings there – maybe we should re-consider that…”
    It’s really important to come up with a REAL list of requirements and priorities so you don’t keep up the heart- and gut-wrenching of seeing places you won’t want. Did I mention the priorities? Prioritize. Really, really. I would take a lot of different cuts in different ways (pay more, different neighborhood, fewer rooms) if the kitchen was really super or the layout or if it’s just the right level of livable but can be renovated/customized over time. Or just the exactly right garden size. You find out by looking at things what you thought you liked and what you actually are reacting to, so use it, revise your list of musts and priorities (even if you can’t believe that you are writing down that you will only buy a house that has a cute pathway from the kitchen to the garage or whatever).
    Good luck!

  41. Bettsi says:

    Oh my goodness! The whole world got here first to comment! I love the penny rug, Hillary. That sweet little baby is unbelievable. This is why you are the Queen of Crafting.
    I can only speak to my situation, but I used to go for a lot of aimless drives through residential areas. When I found the neighborhood that “felt right” I knew where to buy. I haven’t regretted my choice and it’s been three years. But here’s something to remember. If you get it wrong the first time, you do it again. The second time you’ll be so much wiser from the first time. Sending hugs and good thoughts your way.

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