The Den of Slack

Animal ABC baby afghan — the good, the bad, and the adorable

My oldest friend, Michelle, just had her first baby. (We’ve known each other since nursery school!) When my sister’s kids were born I cross stitched Teresa Wentzler’s Castle Sampler and Noah’s Ark Sampler, which I loved doing, but I always feel a little presumptuous giving someone a big framed piece with the expectation that they’ll want to hang it on the wall.

In late July I saw a package of Anne Cloth (cross stitch afghan fabric) at a thrift store and it gave me the idea to stitch a baby afghan, which I’ve never done before. I bought the fabric and went online to look for patterns.

To my surprise I found very few standalone afghan patterns (what’s the point of Anne Cloth without patterns to stitch on it?), but I fell in love with Dimensions’ Animal ABC Afghan kit. Most of the baby afghans I saw were super cutesy and pastel, but this one has a cartoony Dr. Seuss look with bright colors. And I like that it incorporates the alphabet with animal pictures *and* names, so as the baby grows she’ll get different uses out of it — learning letters, then the animals’ names, and then even how to read/spell them.

I’ve been cross stitching for twenty years (yikes!) but these days I hardly ever stitch from kits. I like being able to choose my own fabric and replenish the floss if I run out. (I’m out of wall space for cross stitch, so lately I mostly do petit point for my dollhouses.) Before ordering, I looked around online for pictures and impressions of the Dimensions Animal ABC Afghan kit and wasn’t able to find any, so I’m posting my own experience for anyone else who might be considering this kit.

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Four seasons roombox – concrete stoop and brick path

I recently saw a fun rotating roombox on eBay — it’s divided into four sections, each decorated for one of the four seasons.

I have a similar rotating box in my stash that my mom found at a thrift shop. I think it’s supposed to be for holding photos (you put a picture behind each of the four pieces of glass, and use the center part to store loose pictures). The interior is just over 5″ tall, making it good for half scale. The lid and glass are removable, so you can access the inside through the top or the sides.

Geoff cut me two pieces of plywood with slots in the middle, so they slide together and divide the inside into four triangular sections.

Due to the trim around the top of the box, the wood can’t extend all the way to the corners. I want to keep them removable while I do siding and painting, but after I insert them permanently I’ll add trim to the edges to cover those gaps.

Unlike the roombox on eBay, which shows four different scenes, I want to do four seasonal variations on the same scene. Each scene will have the same window, door, stoop, and path, but with different landscaping and accessories.

Here are the door and window I’ll use. The door is meant for G scale train layouts and doesn’t open, which is fine for this purpose. (I wanted something different than the same old Houseworks doors I use over and over…) The bow window provides a little ledge where seasonal items can be displayed inside the window.

Before I could do siding I needed to figure out where the door would be positioned, and that required knowing how high the stoop would be, so that’s the first thing I did. I made four frames out of quarter inch basswood.

(I bought four orange cats in different poses, so the cat can make an appearance in each scene!)

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Victorianna porch trim

At long last, the Victorianna’s porch is becoming real. (To see how we got to this point, check out my posts about the porch modifications, porch progress, and bay window exteriors.)

I modified the porch to have a flat roof rather than a slanted one. In theory, this would have slipped neatly into a slot I left in the siding, with the crown molding at the tops of the bay windows providing support. Unfortunately, the bay window on the right is slightly too tall, which forces the porch out of the slot. This means the porch will mainly be held in place by the crown molding and posts it rests on.

I wanted to have the porch posts evenly spaced, but the off-center front door threw a wrench in that plan. Instead I decided to do a post in the center (where the two Victorianna kits bashed together meet), plus another one as far to the right of the door as the center post is to the left of it. The railing I’m using is a 1:12 spandrel that comes in a 10″ length, so it’s long enough for the ~7″ span between the left corner and center posts. (Many half scale railings I looked at only come in 5″ lengths.)

Some of the trim I’m using (like the spandrel railing) is from Victorian Dollhouse Wood Works on eBay and some is from Heritage Laserworks. I bought tons of trim for a frilly porch that looked great in my head, but some of those ideas didn’t look as great in practice.

For example: my initial idea was to do grillwork between the posts with brackets underneath, and a fancy arch at the doorway. It looked neat on the table.

On the house, though, I didn’t like how the grillwork got in the way of the bay window embellishments I recently added. Also, part of why I picked out the arch trim was because it was exactly the same height as the running trim + bracket on the opposite side of the post, but it would have made the space around the doorway much too wide.

So I simplified it, removing the grill and planning to use the same brackets on all of the porch posts.

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