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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Make your own shabby chic style cast iron hooks, easy peasy.

The mud room / porch (I should settle on a designation, really) at our new home has no place to hang our hats (or coats).  And living in Northern Ontario means living in layers of clothing and always needing some place to hang it up!

I have plans for more utilitarian storage, but I had my designing eye on some cast iron coat hooks.
They can be found all over Etsy.
One shop offered a trio of painted crowns for $45, plus shipping for the heavy items -- good for them, they looked awesome --but not for my budget.
I didn't have much luck finding them close to home, but then we aren't really close to *anywhere*.
I finally turned them up in 'The Green Store' at our closest mall (80 km), which was a score!
Although I was looking for mermaids for the bathroom, I walked out with three crowns for the porch.
Or, is it the mud room?!

{click image to view larger}
I have decided that working with a shabby chic/ French country cottage / beach... whatever you want to call it... style is the best ever. Ever. Because you are supposed to make things look imperfect. Yay!

I worked up the hooks at the same time as a dresser (project yet to be blogged), hence the various backgrounds as that project progressed!

* foam paint brush (best for nooks and crannies)
* paints of choice (paint for metals, chalk paint, homemade chalk paint, acrylic craft paint... I used the latex porch and floor paint purchased for, well, the porch floor...!)
* a bit of sandpaper (180 is great for taking off *just enough*)
* cast iron hooks (decor stores, hardware stores, online wholesales, amazon etc.)
* screws, anchors or other hardware as needed to hang
* acrylic spray or water based sealer (ie. Mod Podge) as desired, this will help keep acrylic/latex paints in place over time.

I had all the supplies on hand from other projects.
My three crowns cost $18 ($6 each). 
You could do a trio of hooks for under $25 with supplies left over for more!
Actual working time is 30 minutes, tops, drying times will vary.

Step One:  Remove stickers or tags from hooks and give them a quick wash and dry to remove any oils or other surface dirt or dust that may get in the way of paint adhering properly.

Step Two:  Use your foam brush and your first colour (this will be the accent colour which shows through when you sand away the top colour) to apply 1-2 thin coats for coverage. I used 'Crown of Laurel'. How thoroughly you reach all the inner bits and curves is a matter of taste (and you can always remove it later!). Allow to dry completely between coats.

Step Three: Repeat with top colour.

Step Four: Using a dry foam brush, skiff a little of the base colour over some of the points and edges.  This is the 'ugly duckling' stage... You could also use a deep shade or a brown or grey paint daubed into the most shadowed areas for a more aged look-- add the shadow and wipe off again with a damp cloth for a subtle effect. (I only skiffed, I didn't shadow).

Step Five: Using your sandpaper gently begin to scuff up your pieces. Start with places that would naturally take the most wear (high points and edges) and then continue as your heart desires. If you vary the pressure, you will have some areas that reveal the base coat, and others the original cast iron.

Step Six: Seal each piece to maintain the level of shabbiness you have created -- some paints will continue to wear away if left unsealed, which is cool, too!

Hang 'em up and enjoy... 
In fact, I like them so well I may have to make something else for hanging coats.
{Who am I kidding... No one in my family hangs up anything!}

Please feel free to share and pin these instructions, while I didn't exactly invent the wheel here, I did take time to share my work and would appreciate credit being given to Beneath the Rowan Tree when sharing. Thank you!
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
This is what I am talking about.
Transforming our fan chosen colorways from silk to wool yarns, perfect for kids and babies!

A sample dyeing of Heart of the Rainbow (Red):
And, a sample of our #1 bestselling Heart of the Rainbow:
This is the last week for our campaign~ to learn more and become a backer visit HERE. ♥♥
Monday, 24 February 2014
With 9 days left in our Kickstarter campaign, we still have a long way to go!

At this point, we may not get there.
And that's OK!
In twenty years of ministry, and quite a few marketing a business, the reality is that many, many ideas will fail to launch. If they catch on and fly, wonderful! If not, you accept that the timing, the message, the project is not right for right now. And you try again with another idea or in another time.

Is it disappointing to see a heart dream flounder? Absolutely.
But it isn't the end.
And there is still time for this one to fly!

And here is why it matters to us....
I have been asked what happens if our project doesn't fund.
The answer is that we carry on creating beautiful, natural hand dyed toys in our new setting, working with the limited space and perhaps picking back up some older projects to fill the void planned for yarn. I am finished my job in June, regardless (yikes!).

I have also been asked about various other aspects which have lead to this project, and I am happy to be candid about them...
The last year has been one of deep soul searching.
The time has come for me to leave my current ministry position.
But we don't want to leave our community.
My partner, Andy, has started a new career as a long haul truck driver in the past year.  His work, and
the current income + potential from Beneath the Rowan Tree make it *just* possible for me to give
up my job.

Being in ministry, we have been living in church provided housing, as part of my salary package --  which is awesome, except that at 40 we own nothing, have no equity etc. -- buying a house (900 square feet, 90 years old) is an important step towards not eating cat food in retirement (thank you for that image, George Carlin!).

I have been working full time in ministry, full time at BTRT, single parenting in my husband's absence for work and homeschooling. I'm tired and can't maintain the pace and be a healthy, sane person. And given that I struggle, sometimes mightily, with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), the health and sanity bit is a close shave some days!

So for folks who have wondered why someone who is quitting her job and has a thriving business is 
crowd sourcing to bring their business onto a viable full time platform...This is why.
BTRT is what will allow these life changes to evolve.

And at the very innermost heart of it all are the needs of my daughter and the irrevocable call I feel to be the best parent I can be. Rowan is an amazing little girl and it is a joy to be her mother. It is also very challenging.  We know that Ro has Tourette's Syndrome, and with it anxiety and OCD. She has significant issues with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and we are currently in the process of testing her cognitive and learning abilities. We know so far that she is gifted in several areas and showing difficulty in others.  All of this makes the world an intense, overwhelming place for our daughter (and her an intense child!). And it makes homeschooling a necessity (as supported by all of the professionals we work with).

Given that Rowan requires both extra help and extra challenges in learning, and that she is working in the Grade 3/4/5 levels (she is 8.5), and that just getting dressed is an insurmountable struggle some days, I need to be available to her as parent and teacher.

Building BTRT into a full time business while working from home is what my family needs at this stage.  Adding the yarn/studio will enable me to work smarter, rather than only harder, and will also enable the outreach into the community in terms of offering classes and creative space -- something about which I am passionate and committed.  As well as fostering the model of small businesses rooted in the community. For our customers, it means adding a new way to engage in and enjoy beautiful colours and natural fibers in their own families.

As I said, if the Kickstarter project doesn't fly, that is OK -- at the end of the day, I am making needful changes for simplifying and supporting our family life, and the rest will follow when the time is right.  I am changing things up and I am a big believer in following your bliss.

 I deeply appreciate the support we have received so far and it is exciting to 
have 35 people pledged as backers for this project! And I hope this answers some of the questions and wonderings about our project from the personal side of the matter. Or at least gives you a glimpse into our little world .

Thursday, 20 February 2014
Yes! We have doubled all yarn rewards for our Kickstarter campaign!
Take a second (or first!) look at the exciting new project going on right now (until March 5th) to take BTRT to a whole new creative level... with your participation!
And if this is all new to you, here is a little more information about the project:
(click to view larger)
Sunday, 16 February 2014
When it comes to decorating spaces in our little schoolhouse home-to-be, the budget is modest.
And by modest, I mean non-existent.

Commercial Break: Have you checked out our Kickstarter project yet?  Not sure what Kickstarter is all about~ read here. As of today we have surpassed 20% of the funding with 17 days to go... and we are actively seeking more backers for this exciting dream project: .

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program...
We need a fridge more than we need picture frames.  
But frames are way more fun!
Wanting to work with a very clean, light palette, I need to change all of our current black frames to something lighter so I am keeping a watch on the thrift stores and sale tables for paint-able frames.

I have this lovely piece by the talented Serena Wilson-Stubson at Heaven's Earth to inspire me!

Since I started with painting the mud room, I am starting there for wall hangings.
I scored at Value Village, finding some old wooden frames.
And at Winners with an ornate Valerie Bertinelli frame on sale (how weird is it that she has a line of home decor items?).
I also snagged some Mason Jars on sale at Michaels.
I gave the wooden frames a light sanding, and then a coat of watered down Mod Podge to seal in the previous stain (the ridges on the frames were too tricky to sand out).
Using acrylic craft paints I gave everything a coat (or two for the wooden frames) of paint.
I used various shades of white on the frames, as I am planning to hang them in a group and this played up the different textures.
I read on Pinterest that matte acrylic paints are best for the jars, and I agree.  
I tried one pearl paint and it went on poorly and dried showing every brush stroke.
Let the jars dry completely before distressing them, or they may peel.
When everything dried, I lightly sanded everything for a worn, vintage appearance.
I sealed all the pieces with the Mod Podge (I only had glossy-- matte would be better).

The wooden frames have no glass, but I think I am going to pirate the glass from some of my non-paintable black frames.
And I plan to incorporate a few of these treasures 
(found among a box of mementoes from my mother-in-law) for a little schoolroom chic!
I have a few more pieces to paint up, but hope to have the room ready soon~ I'll share photos!
{At the moment the furnace is out at the house, so any painting plans are delayed until heat is restored}.
Tuesday, 11 February 2014
I know that crowd-sourcing and Kickstarter are new ideas for many.
So I have tried to break it down and explain it a little more clearly...
not sure if I have succeeded~ so if you have questions, ask away!

{Click on the image to see it full sized}
Thanks! ♥♥
Monday, 10 February 2014
We have started working on our little schoolhouse in the woods.
It will become our home this spring, but for now we are picking away at projects when there is a little time to do so.
{and with work, homeschooling, our newly launched Kickstarter campaign, business and shovelling snow at two places time is in short supply!}
Beneath the Rowan Tree is known for rich, brilliant colours.
Yet my inspiration for this house is much more subtle.
The palette above really speaks to me, and I have no doubt it has a lot to do with the peace the little house brings to me -- you know, when you have found the "place just right".
But also the age of the home, 90 years, and the sheer amount of wood it boasts (original hardwood and wainscoting) which brings it's own richness and texture.

The mud room / porch is a little entry measuring roughly 6 x 8', with 9' ceiling.
It is enclosed and sided, but not heated.
It has the main front door, a door into the dungeon... er... cellar.
(I have lived in a lot of old houses and this cellar is immaculate, but it still has that deep dark dungeon-y feeling and twisty, worn, concrete steps.).
There is also a door into the main house which I hope to replace with something that will block the cold in winter but give sight lines to the front door (currently it is a solid interior door).

I wanted to start a project that was both affordable and simple, able to be completed during the snowy winter weather which limits many projects. Almost there ( and thank goodness for ceramic heaters!).

This is the porch:

And the original colour + a heavy coating of soot:
Thankfully, I have a little minion who thought that painting was fun.  Her enthusiasm lasted through the wall washing with TSP and into the priming, but she soon learned the truth about  'painting' -- that it is mostly cleaning, sanding, filling, sanding, fussing with trim and cutting in ---and very little painting.  There was also a window to frame.
Aware of this truth, I was enthusiastic until it came time to prime and paint the wainscoting... And get both in between each and every board. Endless. And I did mention the amount of wainscoting throughout the house?!
Finally, after a number of trips out to the house, it was time to paint!
I chose 'Pastel Sage' for the upper walls and ceilings.  The wainscoting is done in a warm white 'Fuzzy Mitten' and the floor will be a rich yellow green 'Crown of Laurels'.  It was tricky to choose two greens that didn't give a jungle camo effect! And, as an aside, I totally want to be a paint-colour-namer when I grow up!
The floor is waiting to be done now that Andy has fixed the interior step.  

And the challenge of creating storage solutions for this small space remains -- I have an old dresser to be refinished for storing as much as possible, a bench waiting to be built and some coat hooks to install.  Given that our weather in Northern Ontario often requires layers or gear from several seasons in play at once I am also figuring out how to store more items close at hand (perhaps in the basement stairwell as there is dead space behind the door).

Although I shouldn't say 'dead space' as Rowan and I, with our ridiculous imaginations, managed to scare ourselves silly out at the house at dusk... hearing the unfamiliar sounds of it settling, Rowan was sure we were surrounded by zombie ghosts (really? A zombie ghost? Impossible!) and I was sure it was a visitation by a cranky old schoolteacher's ghost (much more likely!). Oh boy <3.
Tuesday, 4 February 2014
Our Kickstarter campaign has launched!

It is exciting (and let me tell you, exhausting!) news!

The goal is to create a collection of hand dyed natural yarns based on our (chosen by you) best play silk colorways.  The full details are best perused on our campaign page:

BTRT Kickstarter

Apparently the campaign video reveals that I have a serious Canadian accent... 
I don't know what they are talking aboot!

I know that not everyone who reads this can or will back our project, and that is fine, really!
I'm just happy to have some folks rooting for this
and sharing the campaign with a friend or two so that we can get some more eyes on it...
And if you do want to back the project there are some fun rewards to support your creativity!  

(I'd show you more pictures but I smashed my laptop and I am having to function without my portable exterior brain right now!) <3 p="">
Monday, 3 February 2014
What can you do with 2 oz. of worsted weight yarn?
With our Kickstarter project launched, I wanted to answer that question.

{{Two of our reward levels include a mini-skein of 2 oz. of worsted organic merino wool yarn.}}

The worsted wool yarn I plan on using for the rewards
will provide approx. 110 yards in a mini-skein.
So I went exploring.
In the 0 - 150 yd. category on Ravelry, there are over 19 000 patterns.
Even if we rule out the ones that are over 110 yds, 
that is still a whole lotta wooly possibility for those 2 oz.

How about a hat?

Quynn by Wooly Wormhead (1)
Ripley by Ysolda Teague (2)
Sage Wisdom Hat by Elena Nodel (3)
 Foxie & Wolfie by Katy Tricot (4)
Declan's Hat by Samantha Kirby (5)
Owlie Hat by Teresa Cole (6)
Maybe some hand warmers?
 Women's Hand/ Wrist Warmers by Joelle Hoverson (1)
Waiting for Winter by Susan B. Anderson (2)
Baby Cable Handwarmers, by Tammy Kirschner (3)
Campout Fingerless Mitts by Tante Ehm (4)
Stay Warm by Beneath the Rowan Tree (5)
Mister or Missus Mittens by Megan Grewal (6)

A little something for someone special?
Elegant Knit Crown by Kathryn Andrews (1)
Fern Lace Cowl by Jami Brynildson (2)
Jay the Bird by Stacey Trock (3)
Becca's Cabled Boot Cuffs by Rebecca Gunderson (4)
  Henry's Bunny by Sara Elizabeth Kellner (5)
Pumpkin Spice by Evan Middleton (6)
 My Whole Heart by Olha (7)

Take a moment to check out our yarn dyeing Kickstarter
 and maybe snag yourself a couple ounces of yarn for one of these projects ♥
Sunday, 2 February 2014
I promised a tutorial on the painted signs I posted a little while ago.
I have been busy getting ready to launch our KICKSTARTER campaign... more on that soon!
But on this snowy, cold afternoon I am sitting down with a hot coffee, and getting this done!

Setting out to make a sign for our school room, it seemed appropriate to learn some new skills.
And with the help of Pinterest that is just what happened!

It started with a little dump diving (you can read about that here).
{{Funny story~ we are cleaning our house to move, and with great regret I sent 2 boxes of musty old books to the dump on Saturday.  Not 30 minutes later, Michelle, my dump diving buddy, texts me about the great box of books her husband snagged at the dump!}}
But in fact, the 'Learn Something New Every Day' and the 'Have Big Dreams' signs were made from a pine shelf I snagged at the hardware store for under $10.

Looking back, I realize that almost everything that was done on the 'Learn Something New' sign came directly from this blog: Inspired by Charm. So I am not going to re-invent the wheel, but rather give credit where it is due!

To distress the wood I used a hammer, a fork (great for little wormholes), a screwdriver and the very best tool was a spline I had on hand from a recent screen installation.  Rowan joined in and we beat the board up real good. We followed the beating with the application of balsamic vinegar with steel wool, working the vinegar into the fresh marks we made in the wood.  I set it in the sun to dry out between vinegar applications.  The balsamic vinegar is a little sticky and will leave a sticky residue, even when dry. I lightly sanded this away before beginning to paint.
The instructions for doing the letters included in the blog post linked above are brilliant!
Worked like a charm and I have used the technique several more times since.

Our "Learn Something New" sign has pride of place in our school room and keeps us inspired when the going gets tough!

I have also have a few pictures from our dump run...
We scored some really interesting old wooden cupboard doors.
 Using a wire brush and then some sandpaper, we were able to remove much of the old chipped paint from the doors. 
Using a Dremel, we shined up the rusty hardware a little bit.
And we even braved the circular saw (in flip flops and sunglasses... thank goodness our children were not around to see our lack of safety precautions!) to even out one of the doors.
Can you spot the piece of wood above that became this finished painting?
 So if you have a hankering to go to the dump and find some old wood ~ let it inspire your creativity!
You will want to round up:
~ balsamic vinegar, rag and steel wool
~ chain, fork, hammer and other implements to distress your wood (if using new wood or adding more character)
~sandpaper, wire brush, Dremel for cleaning metal bits
~acrylic paints and water to make washes
~brushes and sponges
~ruler, pencil, paper, tape
~ print out your words in the desired size and font.
~ a good friend to make you look like you know what you are doing AND you are supposed to be there when you go to the dump (also good for watching for bears!)

We chose not to use any old pallet wood~ be careful when doing so. Often pallets are on ships, sprayed with chemicals (ie pesticides if they are holding fruit) and otherwise treated with nasty stuff that the wood absorbs and you don't want in your home!

So, this wasn't much of a tutorial, but at least I hooked you up with some great instructions!♥♥

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