Colorful Rope Sailors’ Knot Wreaths

Colorful Rope Sailors’ Knot Wreaths

I came across these colorful sailors’ knot wreaths on a walk one night in Marblehead. It was green and hanging on an old wood door. The decoration was simple but striking. When I posted the door on Instagram I found out the wreaths made by All For Knot Rope Weaving and were for sale at my local art museum, The Peabody Essex Museum’s shop.

I caught up with the museum’s Merchandising Directory and Buyer, Victor Oliveira, and we chatted about All For Knots’ and how their wreath’s colors really stand out. “All For Knots’ intent is to keep history alive, rope out of landfills, and create designs that generate memories that “Connect with the Sea” allowing folks to experience the ocean at their door, wherever that may be.”

Since Covid, Nova Scotia has been shutdown and Victor mentioned how as the popularity of the wreaths has grown All For Knots’ has been able to employ more local workers. By the museum recognizing the importance of rope weaving they broaden All For Knots’ reach and help to promote a growing creative business. Victor mentioned how a few specially designed wreaths for the PEM will available on the website soon.

Lobster Rope Sailors’ Wreaths will last outside for decades, resistant to mildew and fading. Using the traditional Turk’s Head knot, these wreaths are hand crafted in Nova Scotia, Canada on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. This knot has been tied for centuries and was originally crafted aboard ship for decorative purposes. Wreaths may be hung on a door, used as a candle ring, to frame a mirror/picture or a flower pot mat.

-Peabody Essex Museum

I wanted to find out more about the wreaths and the story behind them so I reached out to Angela Worsley of All For Knot Rope Weavings and she was kind enough to answer a few questions for more me over e-mail.

Q: The wreaths are made of lobster trap rope? Are they salvaged? Where do you get it from? Local fisherman?
A: Some of our wreaths/products are made with reclaimed rope and yes, it is the lobster fishing rope that has lost its strength for holding the lobster traps. It is doesn’t absorb the moisture so will not mildew and it is colorfast. 

Q: What colors do your wreaths come in?
A: We have Aquamarine, Beachglass Blue, Blueberry, Morning sun, Overcast, Carbshell, Dory Red, Sou’wester Black, Seashore, Emerald Sea, Ocean mist and we are in the process of developing new custom wreath for Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Q: The knot used for the wreaths, does it have a special name?
A: There are about a hundred different variations of Turk’s Head Knot, made for centuries aboard a ship for decorative purposes. This variation of the knot is painted by Leonardo Da Vince in the 15th century. 

Q: How long have you been making wreaths?
A: I’ve been making the wreaths for eight years now.

The Peabody Essex Museum will have the wreaths for sale on their website. But be warned they are becoming quite popular and sell out quickly. A new batch will be released this week and the best way to find out about when they will be available is signing by up for their newsletter.

All images shown here are Courtesy Peabody Essex (PEM)/ Photos by Kathy Tarantola

All images shown here are Courtesy Peabody Essex (PEM)/ Photos by Kathy Tarantola


Eyelet Pillow Shams

Eyelet Pillow Shams

Your 1980’s summer bed theme

When I think of summer bedding at the beach I imagine crisp cotton sheets and eyelet. I picked up a set of vintage eyelet shams at thrift a few weeks ago and they instantly transported me to a 1980’s summer beach cottage. They have me thinking about the movie, Mermaids filmed in Massachusetts. I loved that movie.

Eyelet shams are pretty but not too fussy. You can find them easily on sites like Etsy or look at your local thrift stores. Pair with embroidered pillowcases and your bed will instantly feel fresher and light. I can’t wait to sleep with the windows open at night letting the breeze blow through the room with the sweet smell of lilacs outside.

To brighten vintage linens that might be yellowed with age I typically wash mine in white vinegar or OxiClean. And I find drying them outside really helps too. You can use a drying rack that folds if you don’t have a clotheslines set-up.

Here are a few eyelet shams I found on Etsy. They are one of kind so once they are sold they are gone.

Cotton euro sham ruffled eyelet, $35, ETSY.COM
Waverly cotton blend eyelet ruffle, $22, ETSY.COM
Ralph Lauren pillow SHAM, $35, ETSY.COM
Vintage Eyelet Pillow Shams/Ruffled White Eyelet Shams, $35, ETSY.COM
Vintage white pillow sham swiss dot, $19, ETSY.COM


How to Paint Your Walls to Look Like Wallpaper Using a Paint Roller

How to Paint Your Walls to Look Like Wallpaper Using a Paint Roller

A bedroom with painted walls that mimic the look of wallpaper

I love wallpaper. I especially love hand printed wallpapers. I have admired the work of Marthe Armitage for years. Her papers are hand drawn and then printed using a linocut press. The papers are mostly two-tone and the create the most wonderful  scenes. I was instantly attracted to her print, Jungle Birds. See below in a bedroom posted on her Instagram. All her colors are hand mixed and the handmade quality is undeniable. It’s exquisite. Find out more about her and her work at marthearmitage.co.uk.

In many places in my house investing in wallpaper just doesn’t make sense right now. I have areas that eventually will be rearranged or the hallways are so narrow that through the process of renovating the walls will inevitable get scraped. The rooms are fine as is but they do need to be refreshed.

My bedroom painted with printed roller

The Painted House designs printed rollers to mimic the look of wallpaper. A technique that involves a two-part roller that paints and prints a design onto a wall. She offers 18 different designs and are for sale through her Etsy shop. To watch the technique in action check out her how-to video below.

There are two parts to the roller system: firstly, there are the 6 inch wide, embossed patterned rollers in 18 different designs; then there is a choice of two applicators, one for use on fabric and the other for paper, wood & walls. The rollers are reusable and interchangeable. The fabrics have the look of traditional handmade block-printed fabric, and are not for heavy use. Like any other hand-printed fabric, they need very delicate hand washing with a mild detergent. The paper and walls roller gives a sponged, gently handmade look, like old, forgotten, sun bleached wallpaper. It particularly suits old walls.

The Painted House

I can confidently say, this technique is totally doable if you are not a perfectionist. You have to accept a certain level of variation. The designs will be hand made so you need to accept the mistakes. There are ways to clean up large “mess ups” but overall it’s impossible to make perfect. I don’t mind this process but I have read reviews that it drives other bonkers. Accept who you are and don’t choose to attempt if it will make you crazy.

A detail view of the birds. Flock patterned paint roller from The Painted House, $29, etsy.com.

I would suggest testing on your walls before actually painting with your final base color. In this room I did just that…I painted over the white walls that were there. This is the only good wall. They have been this way for a few years and I have yet to go back and clean everything up. I hung up some art to cover the mistakes but this Spring I would love to get them a refresh. I am thinking a brighter white and slightly different blue for the birds.

Learn how to create a no-sew upholstered headboard, view here.
Flock patterned paint roller from The Painted House, $29, Etsy.com

In the kids’ room I used the #4 roller by The Painted House which is not currently for sale on her website. I would suggest if you do see a pattern you like on her Etsy shop pick-up ASAP because they do sell out and they take awhile to get back in stock. I also own the tulip pattern which is quite lovely.

The walls here are painted blue with a dark kelly green motif. The two color tone in a matte finish makes the wall feel and look like wallpaper. And I noticed when there is less contrast between the wall color and motif you see fewer mistakes.

A display of flower paintings on the wall above a twin bed.
This is design #4 but currently out of stock with walls I hand block printed in the hallway. Find out how to block print walls here.

Once you master the wall technique you will mind will wander to all the other things you might decorate with the rollers. The options are endless. But I have made wrapping paper which is quite easy. I would also love to try printing fabric for curtains or even rolling onto a light shade.

What will you make?




How to Make A Living Wreath For Spring with Pansies

How to Make A Living Wreath For Spring with Pansies

I am a big fan of wreathes and love to display them on my front door. Many times you see floral wreaths that are made with fake flowers. They are adorable but I wanted to try making a living wreath using real pansies.

I bought the wreath base from the garden supply website, kinsmangarden.com, $24. They offer the wreathes in three different sizes. I choose the medium base for my door. A smaller version might be sweet on a gate or hung next to your door. The kit includes an inner liner but you will need to buy moss and potting soil too.

I started my wreath two weeks ago. Shown above is how it looks today. It’s the beginning of the growing season in New England (it’s only late April) so I imagine it will grow in much more. I tend to put too many plants in pots and not allow them room to grow. This is my first time with this project but I tried to be mindful that it will probably be covered with larger plants by June.

Below are step-by-step photos on how I created my wreath. I realized I did make mistake. After placing the larger liner and soil in the base I should have added a top liner cover before planting my pansies. View Kinsmans correct instructions here.

You cut into the liner to make room for the flowers. I didn’t do that. I just planted the pansies directly into soil and added moss around the plants and wreath. I am sure both ways work but maybe the extra liner keeps them moister and more secure?

By July, I assume my pansies might be struggling. I tend to have a hard time keeping them going once the heat of the summer sets in. I can easily pull out the pansies and reuse the base for a different flower. I am excited to experiment and see the different variations I can come up with as the seasons change.

Currently the wreath is on my back door leading to my someday garden. The door is waiting to be painting. I think once I have color on the door the wreath will really pop.

Here is the base, flowers, and the top of the base in the upper left corner.
I soaked the liner in water and laid inside the base. I then added a layer of potting soil.
I separated the pansies from the packs and placed around the ring. I placed them next to each other but did not squish them. I wanted to leave room to grow.
Secure the top ring over the base. This clips onto the base and helps to hold everything inside the base.
Take the moss and wrap around the base covering all the dirt. I wrapped it around the outside too but found I didn’t feel like I needed it in the middle. The liner is there and holds the materials inside. (I forgot to add the top base until I was half way around wreath, it was freezing out and I was working fast)
I soaked it with water and let sit on the table for about 4 days.
This is the wreath after two weeks of growth.
Make sure to check how moist the soil is every few days. It rained last night but the door is protected and the wreath hardly got wet. I just brought inside because it’s so cold and windy today.
A tip I learned while the wreath has started to grow more and to pull back the moss a little. I hope this encourages the plant to grow out more and really fill in the wreath.


Gardens in ‘Sconset on Nantucket Island in the Off-Season

Gardens in ‘Sconset on Nantucket Island in the Off-Season

This is late April on Nantucket island. Before the leaves pop and the tourists return. The homes are bare against the blue sky and daffodils bloom in tiny corners and along roads. It feels as though the island is just waking up.

We flew to Nantucket with a friend for a day trip. Even though we live in Massachusetts making it to and from Nantucket in one day via ferry is tough. This week is spring break for my daughter and flying to Nantucket seemed like a doable island adventure. We have never been and I really wanted to see more historic homes and how they have been renovated. I was really interested to look at the exteriors and how they made good use of a small garden spaces.

‘Sconset was very inspiring and idyllic. Each house seems to offer a view of the ocean. I didn’t see any tall fences but lower picket and flat top styles which doesn’t block anyones views. Crushed oyster shell driveways and paths with grassed planted in between. I didn’t see any pea gravel. The homes are covered in trellises. It has to be quite the sight seeing the roses in bloom in the height of summer. If you want to see these houses with all the flowers in bloom search: Sconset Bluff Walk.

For me it was helpful to see what roses look like in the winter. I feel like I only see photos of them in full bloom.

How do the trellis look bare? Are they ugly? It’s easy to only think of the idealized view but I feel like I need to consider the components of a house year around. I tried to included photos of more domestic solutions for utility boxes and trash. I always struggle finding images online. I hope you are inspired and the images help with any renovation you may be considering this summer.