Knit-Gift Frame


fig 1: Frame in position

Received a set of custom-knit Who-themed washcloths and soap as a gift from talented knitting friend Cyl.  I mentioned that it would be a shame to keep them tucked away when not in use, and she gave me a tip that simple cup-hooks would keep them close at hand, and available for use when needed.

fig 2: “EXTERMINATE!” (click for bigger)

I took the idea one step further, and made a frame for them to sit in.  Cup hooks are screwed into a fairly simple Cedar frame.

Detail in the stitching is lost when light strikes it perpendicular to the plane of the frame, so the whole thing placed on a wall in the bathroom where light can strike it from the side.

Ellen’s Vanity

fig 1: The completed project

Christmas came and went, and I had a gift idea for a few friends, but not Ellen.  She just moved in to a house a few months ago that has a fairly old bathroom that she needs to share with her roommates.  I figured I’d dream up a shelf or cabinet she can keep in her room to store makeup and/or jewelry items.

While researching storage solutions online to incorporate into my design, “feature creep” set in, and things started to get out of hand.  This was going to be given as a gift, and my knowledge of cosmetics/beauticianry is extremely limited, so I took a ‘shotgun’ approach and decided to incorporate as much as I could.  I wanted the design to swing out from the wall, and then fold back away to save space.  I wanted to have a large mirror with the rows of bulbs on the sides for even lighting.  I wanted to have small shelves to hold small cosmetic items or jewelry.  I wanted to have a power outlet in it for a hairdryer or curling/flat iron.

Ellen Vanity
fig 2: My evolving sketchup concept

I made the whole frame out of 1/2″ MDF, which in hindsight was a poor idea.  It doesn’t take paint well without a boatload of prep work, and it’s heavy as all get out.  I was terrified that the piano hinge wouldn’t hold the whole mess up, but it did.

As a pack-rat, I’ve accumulated quite a few things from Ikea that I don’t use anymore, that I was able to incorporate into the vanity.  The magnifying mirror, the main mirror, and the top-down task lighting were all things that I already had laying around.  The mirror had to be pulled from its frame and cut down to size.  I was reminded all over again how much I hate, hate cutting glass.

Wired up the dimmer to control the mirror lights, the switch to control the top task lights, and the outlet has continuous power.

fig 3: Monogram on display

While constructing the vanity, I told Ellen to go to the store and pick out a primary color, and an accent color.  She chose sliver as the primary, with purple as the accent.  Painting the MDF with a metallic color was quite a process, but I was able to do it.  I cut a stencil with her initials in a fancy font, and applied it to the front of the vanity.  Looks pretty fancy.

The vanity is fastened to the wall with four 1/4″ lag bolts screwed into the studs.  When she moves out, the vanity can be taken down, and the holes should be small enough to fill easily.   I had to be super-careful to make sure everything was level when installing, because the doors would open and close on their own if the vanity wasn’t plumb.  It’s easy making hinges swing easily with silicone spray or WD-40, but I don’t know if they sell anything in a can that makes hinges stick.


Lessons Learned: In the future, if I have someone pick out colors for a project, I’ll probably tell them that metallics are off limits.  I’ll also stick to plywoods for things that hang on the wall, since they weigh considerably less than MDF.

fig 4: All loaded up