Your Fall Assignment.

I have a vintage flatware obsession.

These are my favourites.  I have no idea what the pattern is called but if you know, tell me because I’d like to get some more.




This really wasn’t supposed to be a post on my supposed flatware obsession ( although I do have one ) but I had this photo and … well now I’m trying to revolve a post around it.

Here … maybe I’ll talk about cameras. Because I have a photo of one of those too.


The above shot is what the vintage camera looked like when I took my first shot of it. Which is great if you’re going for a washed out dream sequence sort of shot.  I was not.  That sort of shot was “in” a few years ago.  Now?  Darker, moodier shots are all the rage.




Practice makes perfect.

And so do lessons. I have a little more practicing to do by the way.

You may not see all the differences in the photo of vintage camera, but I do. Now.

As you know, I’m offering a course on blogging next week. 5, hour long lessons, every evening next week with Quistic. (use the code DOINGSTUFFVIP for a $50 discount)  And I thought it was important for some reason that you all know that I too take courses.  I gather up all of my money and pay someone else to show me what they know.

In this case it was Donna Griffith.  Donna is the photographer who has shot my home for the past 3 or 4 magazine shoots at my house, including the beautiful feature in this month’s Canadian Living.  So since I know her, and I knew I liked her, I asked her if she would consider coming to my house to give me a photography lesson.  It wasn’t cheap, and it shouldn’t have been.  She’s a professional photographer will valuable skills, tips and tricks.  I learned as much from her in our 4 hour lesson yesterday as I did in an entire semester long photography course.

She showed me how to ignore my camera metering, use black cards instead of white bounce cards to create darker, more dramatic shots and about one katrilbillion other things.

I’ve paid for photography courses, Photoshop courses, blogging consultations, marketing consultations and a business consult.  I have no idea if other bloggers do this sort of thing, but I do.

Why do I do it?  So I can take a photo of my dinner in almost complete darkness with no flash and still have it come out like this.




Is it the best food photo ever? Um, no. But it’s probably one of the better ones ever taken in complete darkness. By me.

The Art of Doing Stuff is about learning new things. Learning to laugh at your own stupidity. Learning to let others laugh at your stupidity. Learning that just because you don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean you’ll never know how to do that thing.

So I have a fall assignment for you.


If you have ever at any point had any interest in something but didn’t do anything about it … sign up for a course. Take a whole semester to learn how to fix your car’s engine. Take a class on how to make jewellery. Learn photography, gardening, tax law, poetry writing, dog training, cooking, at home dental surgery. Whatever.

My family is what you’d call class crazy, my mother Betty, in particular. She alone has taken courses in stained glass, doll making, hat making, quilting, sewing, purse making and I believe if you search long and hard enough you’ll find a brassiere in her drawer, hand made by her.  She learned how to do it in a class.  Of course it was a class on jewellery making, but she was bored so she whipped up a bra.

I understand that you can’t commit to this sort of thing RIGHT this very minute but think about it.  And let me know what you think you might like to take a course in.

I’ll go first.  The next course I’m going to take is advanced Screen Printing.

Now you go …

Have a good weekend!




  1. Lisa says:

    I was thinking about taking a course in Guerilla Marketing this fall to enhance mine and my husbands businesses, and because I think it would be fun to learn anything from a guerilla, they are smart creatures. Now, with this challenge, I am pushed over the fence and am definitely taking the class. I can not walk away from a challenge. Thank you.

  2. Meghan says:

    I’m going to be joining a band to re-learn how to play the flute. I was just gifted a flute, yesterday actually, and I haven’t played in 14 years. Time to get back on the horse.
    I’m also going to be doing intermediate dog obedience with my dog so we can both learn some new skills.
    Oh, and I’m finishing up my M.A major paper this fall as well, plus working. Yup, busy busy.

  3. Ruth says:

    Over the last few years, I did quite a few Craftsy classes… First, I was on a mission to be able to design and sew my own clothing, without the ‘homemade’ look (This is particularly important to me… and one of the reason I like your DIY projects… they never look crappy, but I digress…) I am well on the way to that first goal (unlimited access, so I take my time to get it right), but whenever I get the urge to relax, I go test the waters with one of their free mini-classes…. knitting, cake decorating, woodworking, cooking… whatever.

    But to answer your question, specifically, :D I am learning Couture Techniques this year. The course was a birthday gift, and I aim to make the benefactor proud.

  4. Ellen says:

    Sorry!! I detest taking courses! I’ve taken many many many over the years – university psychology, car repair, tai chi, yoga, drawing, and more. The only ones I have liked were on living well with chronic conditions, & living well with arthritis. Both were very relevant and absorbing.
    I also hated school, tho I did very well.
    I will think about it – but I can’t say I’m likely to find anything…

  5. Marie says:

    I’m signed up for 2 classes this month, an advanced Chalk Paint techniques class and another on using gilding waxes, pearl plaster and other shiny finishes. I’m not surprised at all the class takers here, after all we learn something from you everyday so clearly we’re a group hungry for knowledge (with a side of entertainment).

  6. Rebecca says:

    Oh! Thank you for reminding me, Karen. I’ve been wanting to sign up for a French macaron making class at a nearby kitchen store. The last class before the Autumn flavors is tomorrow, it may not be too late to get into the class. My parents have a lot of handy-skills so I’d love to spend more time with them learning how to do things. The past month (weekends), I’ve spent with my dad learning how to build stuff like a kitchen table. My mom quilts and I’d really like to learn how to do that someday.

  7. shirley says:

    Fencing, as with swords.

  8. LazySusan says:

    In the past, I’ve taken classes in ballet (in my 30’s to stay in shape), cartooning, jewelry-making (with a torch, not just putting pre-made parts together), accounting, drying fabric, a course about color, pattern take-offs of existing clothing, astrology (in my 1970 youth I thought it had merit, not so much after a lifetime of experience), hand- painted quilts, a type of pictorial art-quilting, free-motion quilting, and sewing techniques, just to name those I can remember offhand. I’m currently in a class on making children’s costumes, even though I have no children, no grandchildren, and the neighborhood kids are all in high school. I think I’ll make some costumes and donate them to a local charity for distribution to the poor. Poor little girls should be Princesses, also, especially at Christmas! And poor little boys should be Princes! The course I’ll sign up for this fall is probably going to be either stitching portraits or making picture books. I’m leaning towards the stitching portraits at the moment. Sounds like fun!

  9. Deva says:

    I’ve taken classes for years. Painting, stained glass, pottery, jewelry making. Next I hope to find a sewing class. I have some coin silver spoons with your pattern and my grandmother said they were fiddle back.

  10. Sue H. says:

    I start my third pottery class (wheel) on Monday. I just want to get to the point that I can make something better than a third grader!

  11. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    German, I want to learn German. My oldest daughter married a Swiss fella this past October. They speak High German where they live in Switzerland. I took German in high school but can only remember ein bisschen (very little). I would love to converse with the rest of the family when I visit.

    • Karen says:

      It would be a LOT of fun to take the course in secret and show up one Christmas (or whenever) speaking German and shock everyone. :) ~ karen!

  12. Patti says:

    The last class I took was for Photoshop at my local community college. I learned so much even though you can probably take classes for years and still learn something new in Photoshop. I’m currently interested in taking classes in sewing, horseback riding and Spanish.

  13. Patti says:

    I’ve been toying with and looking into taking a User Interface Design course. I’m a graphic designer, but I’ve got to keep on my toes, and stay current with the trends. As much as I love print and paper, the digital world is super fast paced and the way of the future, so I want to jump on that bandwagon! The trouble will be finding the right course! That’ll be a research project on its own! :)

    Karen, a thought for you: though it’s not cheap, have you ever thought of going to Design Thinkers in Toronto in November? I’ve gone for the last two years and it has proven to be more than inspiring for design, as well as general creativity and life. When Stefan Sagmeister spoke two years ago, I was blown away by the impact his keynote speech brought to my every-day life. His partner, Jessica Walsh, is speaking this year, as is Paula Scherr, an amazing typographer and designer.. you might want to think about going! Just some food for thought!

  14. Elen Grey says:

    I try to take something every year. Right now, I’m taking Scrivener 1 (Gwen Hernandez). She wrote Scrivener for Dummies, which I bought. Still. I couldn’t get the hang of it, so I’m taking the course. And I’ll probably take Scrivener 2. There might even be a 3. Ha-ha. Ho-ho. Hee-hee. I’m taking a course by some gal named Karen Bertelsen next week. :-D After that, there’s a photography course I want to take.

    Did I pass this post? Huh, Karen? Did I? Did I? :-D :-D :-D

  15. Susan says:

    I’m a class addict, too. Right now, I’m taking (realtime) classes for two dogs in agility, two online agility classes, one online obedience class and keep buying how-to books on lotion making and jewellery enamelling. The worst part about having so many irons in the fire is that you get up in the morning and try to decide what you’re going to do today and you’re still thinking about it by bedtime because there are too many choices. Maybe I should take an online course on time management.

  16. Sean says:

    Bicycle frame building! I love to assemble bicycles for myself and my family, it would be great to take it to the next level and start creating custom frames. My wife is 4’11” so it would be very beneficial for her if she FINALLY had a bicycle that fit. Now if only someone in Central Illinois offered a class in that arena…..guess I’ll have to wait until we can afford to relocate.

    • Jeanette says:

      Sean, I am 5’1″ and use a girl’s bike! I believe it has 24″ wheels, does that sound right? Anyway, it’s a little smaller than a woman’s bike, and I love it!

  17. Christina says:

    I’m a class addict like Betty. It’s ridiculous. Just yesterday, I signed up for a JavaScript class that I don’t have time for. In fact, we’ll be out of town for 1/3 of it, but I just can’t say no to a class.

  18. Heather says:

    I am taking a class on making French macarons.

  19. Mary Werner says:

    I won’t stop learning until my body or brain stops and I’m currently enrolled in four on-line classes with TreiC Bautista-printmaking, Dion Dior-watercolor pencils, Rae Missigman and Sandi Keene-stamp carving, and Jann Gray-Christmas card making. I am ADHD with art. It keeps me happy and settled even though it is all over the place.

    Karen you are my first “people contact” every morning for a happy break with coffee before I begin my day. Then I get on with making art before the work begins with grandkids, cleaning, supper, homework, etc. I am so glad I found you and have followed for a couple years – daily. WOW that is a lot of time spent here BUT so worth the “happy” I get from you. Thanks so much.

  20. Debbie D says:

    Since I have an hour commute to and from work, I listen to how to speak Italian CD’s in the car. I get a lesson each day Monday through Friday. Then, on Monday evenings, I take ballroom dancing lessons. Love the exercise on that one. It is great! Makes Monday’s bareable.

  21. Mel says:

    Okay so I’m going to change this assignment to the classes that I will dream about taking this fall. I’m a stay at home mama during the day to a 15 month old and I work evenings and I’m three months pregnant and too tired to work on a nursery in my spare time, let alone dust, sweep or take care of my garden so for the next couple of years classes are just a dream for me. I would love to know more about sewing because I don’t know much, and photography has been an interest of mine for quite a long time but I know nothing about it and reading online about both topics just leaves me more confused. I would also like to take a yoga class, for the exercise of course but also to work more at calming my crazy brain and breathing slower.

  22. Debbie Neal says:

    Pieces 1,3 and 4 look like a Gorahm pattern Old English Tipt. The knife doesn’t look like the one you have in that pattern though.

  23. Suzanne says:

    Just reading this posting excited me so I detoured to another site and signed up for a learning class. Thanks for the encouragement!

  24. magali says:

    almost a year ago I singed up and payed for my second cake decorating class and then something came up and I couldn’t attend that session. You’ve just reminded me so I’m promising to you and myself that I will go this fall!

  25. Annie Kip says:

    I am taking YOUR course next week and I can’t wait! I love books, but also live, online courses for learning because I can “tune in” after my kids are in bed and without having to get all gussied up. I can also have a glass of wine while I listen and learn. Apparently, that is frowned upon at some community colleges. I also like the option to review a recording of the course again – in case I missed something. Looking forward to your class, Karen – thanks!

  26. Beckie says:

    I am asking Santa for French lessons (via Rosetta Stone, I think)

  27. Feral Turtle says:

    I am signed up for a class this fall! Love your flatware!

  28. Maybe the learning angle is why I enjoy your blog so much. Learning is my secret weapon. When I feel discouraged or bored or frustrated, I take a class. I learned how to quilt Craftsy and now I am taking a class on on how to use Illustrator for fashion drawing. I do wish I had more time for more classes. Like another one of your readers commented, I look forward to retirement and being able to take free classes at the local colleges & universities.

  29. Tigersmom says:

    Is it wrong that I have a sewing machine, but don’t know how to sew? I have been intending to take a sewing class. I miss taking classes, now that I think about it.

  30. Janet says:

    I’m on it already! Just started a life-writing course. Thanks for the encouragement.

  31. Farquist says:

    This fall, I signed up for Zumba and joined a community band. I can play an instrument, but this Zumba thing is kicking my ass.

  32. Molly says:

    The pattern of the first fork from the left is called ‘Rattail’ in the UK. There’s also a similar French version called ‘Baguette’. Rattail often comes with pistol knives (handle & blade!). That’s my favourite cutlery design. One day… sigh…

    The other pieces look like ‘Fiddle’ or ‘Old English Fiddle’. In Germany this is called ‘Alt-Spaten’ (= old spade) ;-)

  33. shauna says:

    Great advise – I took a juggling course one year and it has been wonderful to be able to juggle oranges in the produce department and make kids giggle and produce managers nervous. : )
    I’m taking a study class – so I can learn absolutely anything… I learn lots of cool stuff from your blog.

  34. Christina says:

    I’ve just started a Criminology course online. When I was wee my friends’ mothers read romance novels while mine had books on murder. I inherited her taste in reading & it doesn’t have any practical use unless I suddenly change career at 40. But I might.

  35. Auntiepatch says:

    I’ve just started into quilting. I don’t have a problem piecing together the tops but the machine quilting has me stumped. I guess my next class will be Machine Quilting for the Beginner.

    Speaking of Betty’s bra, I have a bra from my belly dancing class days that I covered in gold coins. I couldn’t wear it now but it would be a good Halloween costume for my future grandkids…….er, granddaughters!

  36. chris aka monkey says:

    try fiddle pattern for your flatware…and my caterpillar is still alive lol xx

  37. Caroline Bedard says:

    The dinner fork and the spoons are described as having fiddle handles or fiddle backs, and are hipped. The hip is the wider portion at the top of the handle. Typically, the knife would have the fiddle handle and hip if the other pieces are hipped, or have a pistol grip handle. I don’t know if there is a name for the sideways 3 shape at the base of some fiddle handles. These designs are generally considered to be Revere, as in Paul Revere, Colonial American, or Early American in the US. But the designs would also have been common in England and Canada. What do Canadians call colonial style?

  38. victoria says:

    I just started taking tae kwon classes….because the teacher is super hot…

  39. Cynna says:

    The flatware in the first picture are/were very popular and common patterns in hotels, clubs, and some restaurants in the US and abroad in the mid-to-late 20th century. I have a set of the knives and use them every day.

  40. Tracie says:

    Karen, your writing cracks me up….and yours too Lynne! I am excited about this challenge because of the fact that I have taken a few free on-line courses through Coursera, but have not followed through to the end….I also took a Craftsy painting course and forgot that I had taken it until I read the previous comments. Clearly, I am the type of person who needs a hands on approach. And I need to pay money to take it seriously. I am giving this some serious thought. Thanks, this is good….

  41. Cathy says:

    Sadly, my painting classes are on hiatus; but that is ok since I am in the middle of purging nearly all my belongings for a garage sale this Saturday. Since my birthday is on the horizon, and we decided to give gifts that are portable, I’m asking for a cooking class. Last year it was the most decadent—3 types of chocolate goodies!!! (I think the best part of retirement will be being able to take college classes for free!! )
    I’d like to do bread by hand as opposed to in a bread maker which turns out tasty goodies, but I want to learn to work with yeast which, heretofore, I have been afraid of.
    Maybe a writing class, too since I think I just dangled a participle…

    • judy says:

      Get a good attorney also because there are definitely laws against the dangling of your participles. the worst is they lop the darn thing off! your comment cracked me up-couldn’t resist replying………….

    • Debbie says:

      Free college classes? Please, how does that work?

      • Cathy Reeves says:
        This is what Ohio offers. If you are in US just google ” free college for seniors” and see what pops up. When I qualified for my Golden Buckeye Card, I said.. “Woo-HOO, bring on the discounts! I earned them !! “

        • Debbie says:

          Thank you! You have opened up a world to me that I did not know existed. In PA, Temple University has a program that is a short train ride for me. There is a modest membership fee that includes classes, trips, get-together, etc… How many ways can I say thank you!

        • Patti says:

          Seriously Cathy !!! I just opened up your link for Ohio Senior Education…Who Knew ??? You Not Me !!!!
          Now I Do and Thank You !!!!

        • Cathy Reeves says:

          Hey, give some thanks to our fav Canadian, Karen—she broughts us all together on this crazy ride! Happy to do a small part!

  42. Barbie says:

    I’m a class taker too! Had to stop for a while….to many irons in the fire!!! I love that Betty made a bra!~ LOL

    I’m pretty sure you can find your vintage flatware pattern here.

    You may already know about that but I always use it when I can’t figure out a pattern or need a replacement of one. I love vintage flatware too!

  43. Roses says:

    I am a chronic class-taker. Our Public Library offers a series called “How to Do Things”. This week I took a macramé class and made a mesh shopping bag. I’m in a continuing art history class, studying Leonardo this term. This fall I’m signed up to learn about the life of James Eads and how to Zentangle. We are fortunate to have both Learning Quest and Osher Lifetime Learning classes available. After years of taking classes, I am teaching part of “Lush, Green, & Fragrant” this fall.

  44. Lynne says:

    Yay! I’m signed up for your course :)

  45. Vanessa says:

    Hi there I believe the flat ware pattern you like (which I do too!) is called the violin back – they look awesome with bone handled knives.

  46. Therese says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’ve been toying with the idea of taking courses, and maybe your post has forced me not to be so lazy. I’m thinking about taking a course in Taekwondo – what do you think? I’ve already taken the plunge with dog obedience training, and now have a much better behaved dog (and I can control my teenage daughters too – I am the alpha female) I’m really thinking of a course in photography, but your one on-one-sounds much more focussed. Thanks for sharing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Therese! Ha! “more focused”! Good one. Anyhowwww. The one on one course was GREAT!!! But to be honest, I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much out of it if I hadn’t taken the long drawn out college course in photography to learn all the basics. Anyone can teach you the basics (although my instructor was a pro and fantastic). ~ karen!

  47. Muff says:

    Ooh! For once I am on top of an assignment! I have purchased a class (on on Machine Quilting – which I have been frustrated by for years. I decided that it was time to learn how to do it right. Now I have to purchase a walking foot for my sewing machine, but once I have that, I’ll be ready to learn the right way to use the darned thing.

  48. becky says:

    I have always wanted to take a cake decorating class. But I have learned so much from YouTube that im already pretty good at it.
    I will have to think about this.

    What stamp is on the back of the flatware? I have a book that can help identify the pattern and could look it up for you.

  49. Rachel San Diego says:

    Ha! I’m signed up for a sewing class and an Excel class this fall. Continuing to learn has to be the best gift a person can give herself. Thanks for the extra encouragement!

    And, I don’t know, your almost-dark, no flash photograph looks pretty good to me!

  50. TucsonPatty says:

    I keep thinking piano lessons, but Then I think a drawing or painting class.
    One of me favorite classes as an adult was Ballet! A girl can dream!

    • Judy D. says:

      Patty ~ Piano and drawing/painting lessons are also two things I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of years. Maybe it’s time to finally DO IT. Best wishes in your endeavors.

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