Monday, June 30, 2008

more electrical cables

Mr Goldfish managed to salvage some more electrical cable for me, this time from work. Apparently it was being discarded because it is too short to be useful! Not too short for me though...

solenoid cable

This one is a seven-core cable. See all those colours inside? Count them... 1... 2... 3... 4... 5... 6... 7... That makes it seven-core cable.

Unfortunately I won't be able to use those pretty colours. As is, they are just too thick to knit or crochet. In fact, when you bend them you get stress marks in the colourful plastic coating. So I will strip them even further. Right down to the copper wires.

Not sure what I will use it for. But I'm sure it would look fabulous worked up with some recycled glass beads. If you've had any experience working with copper wires like this before, please let me know. I'd love to hear any tips you might have.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

baa-baa the sheep

I discovered another new group over at Ravelry, called Plush

This group is for plush-makers and general lovers and fans of plush toys and objects. If you create plush using needlework of any kind - crochet, knitting, felting, sewing, etc. then join us and let's talk plush!

The group has just started out this month. The plan is to run a 'plush-a-long' challenge each month. I'm up for that! I love working on toys, and am especially keen to do some more designing and pattern writing in that field.

June's challenge has been to 'make a sheep'

So I'd like you to meet my little friend...

baa baa (grass)

Of course he is made entirely from reclaimed yarns. I plan on making a few modifications on the design, and then the pattern will be available.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

through the eyes of a child...

I'm just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to working with recycled materials. That's one of the really fun aspects of it. There are endless possibilities out there, and experimentation costs you nothing!

Take the pepsi plarn for example. Grab a pair of scissors and a clean empty bottle. Start snipping. Go for it! What have you got to lose? Apart from your sanity

If it doesn't work out, just toss it back in the recycle bin... which is where it was going anyway. Except now it will take up a little bit less space!

Sometimes I feel as though my head is exploding with possibilities. Everything seems to have potential. But how much more is out there that I am not seeing?

Children have fabulous insight. They look at the world in an entirely different way from us. They are full of inspiration, and have no understanding of the word IMPOSSIBLE. Unless you are asking them to finish eating their vegies!

The other day Little Miss Four presented me with an empty rice cracker packet. "Here Mum" she said "You can make some plastic string from this"

At first I wondered where on earth she would come up with such a ridiculous idea. Then I had to remind myself that she had recently watched me cutting 'pepsi plarn' from an empty plastic bottle. Why would anything seem impossible after that?

So I gave it a go... using this 'no join' technique

rice cracker plarn

Not sure what direction it will take from here. I'll need to collect some more packaging first. Looks like we will be eating rice crackers here for breakfast, lunch and dinner just so Mamma can feed her latest craze.

To spin... or not to spin?

To knit... or to crochet? Maybe macrame?

Endless possibilities

Friday, June 27, 2008

old habits die hard

At the beginning of this month, I made a commitment to finish ten of my incomplete projects. A fairly large task, but it needed to be done. I was drowning in unfinished projects. I am so very good at starting things, but really have to push myself to completion. The novelty wears off, and I'm always wanting to begin work on something new.

Waving hello to my Dad! I know you've been trying to correct this particular character flaw in me since childhood... but I think it's here to stay...

Well. I stuck it out. Of those ten projects, nine are completed. The remaining one I was unhappy with. The yarn wasn't working well with the pattern. So it has been unravelled.

Man it felt good to see the finished results. It was a relief to finally 'clear out' and unburden myself a little. Which makes my next move so inexplicable...

Yesterday I started five new projects. FIVE!!! What is with that? It's like some kind of sickness. A compulsion of sorts. When I take the reins off, I just go crazy! It's a blessing to feel so inspired, to have a head full of so many different ideas. I love the excitement and the passion, the anticipation and the drive to design. But it's all so depressing when it all turns to pot because you don't have the commitment to follow through.

I think I need an intervention...

Did I mention that four of those five projects are rag bags? Is that really necessary??? Probably not!

Well. I'll give you a sneak peek at one of them...

check rag bag  (progress)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

small pleasures

Wanted to share with you some of the events which occurred over my birthday which really made me smile. And realise that my family understand me, and what is important to me. You can't ask for more than that, can you?

richards wrapping

Let's start with Mr Goldfish... who presented me with a gift wrapped in this recycled paper. Bless. Twelve months ago this would not have received a pretty reaction. I would have flipped out about the 'lack of thought' and how disorganized he was for forgetting to buy nice wrapping paper. This year I love him for it. He has watched my priorities changing this year, understands where I am at now... and was bold enough to try something new. I love it! A small pleasure which definitely made me smile.

sam's card

Moving on to Master Eight. The handmade card with the heartfelt message. A mum that tucks me in at night, I will love her and love her always. Wow. So much better than the fanciest store bought card. I love it! Another small pleasure which definitely made me smile.

ben's ribbon reel gift

Master Six came out with this gem. He took a cardboard ribbon reel from his craft box, and wound it full with cotton. Reclaimed yarn!!!! That kid knows what I am about! I love it! Yet another small pleasure which made me smile.


Party poppers. Can't live with them, can't live without them! Okay, so that's not exactly true. But here's the thing... I can't stand the mess they make. The kids love them though, and they are such an inexpensive source of entertainment. The squeals of excitement and delight that sound out when the poppers pop are exquisite! So much joy from such a simple party favour.

Well this was Little Miss Four's moment to shine. I asked her to help tidy up the party popper poop which was all over the floor. As she was collecting it, she said "I don't want to put this in the bin. I want to keep it for my craft box" That's my girl! She wants to make finger puppets out of the plastic cases and glue the curly paper on top for hair. I love it! So many small pleasures which make me smile.

happy birthday to me!

My birthday is always a time of reflection for me.

I am in a much happier place than I was this time last year. So much has changed for me, not physically but emotionally and spiritually. I have learned to truly appreciate what a wonderful life I've been blessed with. It's a work in progress, of course, but that's how it should be!

Craft has been a huge focus for me this year. I've always enjoyed a variety of activities from embroidery to scrapbooking, tapestry, knitting, card making and calligraphy... just to name a few. But recently I've discovered how important a role that craft plays in my life.

Firstly relaxation. I can use craft to help me 'cope' with life! If I need to take my mind off things, I can work on a complex pattern, detailed work, or a project that I can just lose myself in for hours. If I need to assess a particular situation or make some important decisions, I can choose a simple mindless project - one which keeps my hands busy, but leaves my mind clear to do what it needs to do. I've discovered that I can get quite nervous about certain situations, and that crafting beforehand has a really soothing effect on me. Sometimes that means crocheting in the car when we are on our way to a function, but only if Mr Goldfish is driving!

Also confidence. I'm damn good at what I do! It's taken so many years for me to be able to say that. People have always complimented me on my craft, but my response has been "anyone can do this" or "it's so easy" or "I just followed a pattern". Not any more. I craft - I do it well - and I thank you for your compliments. I'm proud of my work and I want to show it to the world.

Stimulation. I have been so stimulated by my craft this year, and I have the internet to thank for that. Especially Ravelry. If you enjoy knitting and crochet, and haven't been introduced to Ravelry yet... go there now!
Essentially it's a knitting and crochet community. But so much more. It's a fabulous place to showcase your work, be inspired by others, and meet like minded souls. Want to knit up a particular pattern? Check it out on Ravelry first. See how the pattern has worked for others, the alterations they made, any problems they encountered. A couple of the groups I have joined within Ravelry such as Oddballs and Silly String have fabulous monthly challenges. The challenges have inspired me to go beyond my comfort zone. To stretch and grow and achieve things I never would have imagined possible.

Appreciation. Focusing on using recycled materials has really made me look at everything around me in a new light. I'm learning to appreciate the simple things, and to look beyond the obvious. There is a great sense of achievement and pride which comes from working with these materials. To take something that others are ready to throw away, and turn it into something beautiful... or useful... or both. It's a way of life for me now.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

empty bread bags...

what do you do with yours???

You might remember a few months back I was pondering my sanity. I was collecting plastic bags, mostly bread bags and supermarket bags. Cutting them into strips, spinning two strands together and then plying two of the spun plarns together. So the resulting material had four strands of plastic twisted together. Much stronger than regular plarn. But also much harder on your hands to crochet with.

Plarn. I love that word. So clever. PLARN = PLASTIC YARN

I have to say.... it's a lot of fiddly work... but check out the results

The body of the bag is crocheted using the plarn and a 6.5mm hook.

plarn bag

The red detail is worked with plarn sourced from an old plastic tablecloth.

plarn bag (strap closeup)

The crochet loop trim and strap are worked in reclaimed yarns with a 4mm hook.

plarn bag (trim closeup)

I'm calling it my bag born from bags. I wish I had kept track of how many plastic bags were used for this project, but I have no idea. Maybe one hundred? It certainly felt like that many, or more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

'no-join' method of cutting fabric strips

This method is by far the BEST way to cut doona (duvet/quilt) covers into strips. Love it, love it, love it! Plus it works brilliantly for pillowcases. I have also successfully used this method to cut sleeves/legs of clothing into strips. It works for any 'tube' of fabric. And it's also the method I use for cutting plastic bags into 'plarn'

As I said... love it, love it, love it!

This is a speedy system of cutting which results in a long continuous strip being formed.

EDITED TO ADD - I have had a fabulous and simple suggestion from one of my regular readers (thank you Karen!)

if you are working with a flat piece of material, such as a sheet... take a few minutes to stitch a seam up one side and make it into a tube... then proceed with the method described below

I have used a pillowcase to demonstrate the technique, and taken lots of photos. Hopefully they will help you in your recycled crafting endeavours.

(click on the photos to enlarge)

1. lay the pillowcase flat, with the opening to the left
step 1

2. begin folding from the bottom up as illustrated
step 2 step 3

3. fold to about an inch from the top edge
step 4

4. trim the left hand side so that you have a straight flat edge... for a pillowcase you are removing that whole thick section of fabric at the opening... for a doona cover you are removing the strip which contains the fasteners/buttons... etc
step 5

5. start cutting strips approximately 1/2 inch wide... cut through folded layers all at once... stop before you reach the very top edge
step 6

6. continue cutting until you reach the end... cut the last strip all the way through
step 7

7. shake out the folds
step 8

8. slide your hand into the tube from the top left hand side
step 9 step 10

9. use fabric scissors to make cuts between the strips... start at the end of the 'spine' and cut diagonally up and left to the end of the first strip as illustrated
step 11

10. continue cutting from the top of one strip to the bottom of the next, moving diagonally up and left... until you reach the end
step 13 step 14

11. make the final cut as illustrated
step 15

12. you now have one continuous strip of fabric which can be rolled into a ball
step 16 step 17

limbo land

step 18

I have this wonderful basket sitting in my lounge room... piled high with an assortment of different balls of fabric. I call it limbo land. The fabric there has reached the end of its original life. It sits in limbo, patiently anticipating its next life. One day it will meet with a nice chunky crochet hook, or maybe even a pair of knitting needles. Who knows what it may become?

Check out my photo tutorial if you are interested in seeing my method for cutting the fabric.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

it's okay to be a little bit crazy

Have you ever seen a plastic tree crocheted from a cola bottle?

I hadn't either. In fact, I wouldn't have thought it possible until I saw this fabulous creation posted over at Craftster.

I was amazed to discover that the plastic had been cut slowly and patiently with nothing other that a regular pair of scissors. Who could be bothered with that???

Well, as time went by... I found myself pondering this project more and more. I started feeling guilty every time I put a plastic bottle into the recycle bin. It was as if the bottle were calling out 'keep me' 'keep me' 'make me into something special'

So eventually I had to try it for myself. I sat down with my bottle and scissors, and set about preparing my 'pepsi plarn'

As I was patiently snipping away at the bottle, Little Miss Three came to see what I was up to. How was I going to explain myself without sounding like I had lost the plot entirely?

"Well, Darling... I know it sounds a little bit crazy... But Mummy is cutting up this bottle into plastic string so she can crochet something with it"

She gave me the most patronizing look ever, gently patted me on the arm and said

"It's okay to be a little bit crazy Mum"

pepsi plarn

Friday, June 20, 2008

my anniversary ring

Yesterday was my Wedding Anniversary... celebrating nine years of marital bliss!

Okay. So you all know I am stretching the truth just a little bit when I say that. Yes, we have been married for nine years. But obviously it hasn't all been marital bliss.

Mind you. We're pretty proud of ourselves. Seems like so many couples that we know are going their separate ways at the moment. We're almost starting to feel like freaks for staying together!

Despite how proud we are of our achievement, I was told in no uncertain terms by Mr Goldfish that I had received 'more than enough' jewellery last year... and not to expect any this year! It seems he wasn't joking.

So I thought it was a good excuse to start a new project. I know I'm not supposed to, but it was just a little one. Over at Silly String we were issued this challenge What’s the finest thread you can actually crochet with to create a wearable ring?

So I decided to make my own Anniversary Ring

silly string ring - materials

I knew it would be a challenge to work with such a fine thread, but I loved the gold colour and thought it would work up a treat. It was a bit of a nightmare, actually. The metallic thread was so damn slippery. I hadn't anticipated that. I ended up using a 1.75mm hook, as I just couldn't grip the thread with anything finer.

ring (on nail)

I had grand plans of creating a diamondy shaped motif which would be the feature of the ring, but I just couldn't manage it. So the finished item is simple and dainty. I even tried adding a glass bead as the 'stone' of the ring, but nothing looked right. Everything looked so chunky and out of place.

So here it is... my anniversary gift to myself.

ring (closeup)

Now if I only knew how to crochet a fully functioning dishwasher.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

what is a doona cover?

I have been asked this question a lot lately, and it always catches me by surprise. Doesn't everyone know what a doona is??? Well apparently not!

All you fellow Aussies out there will know exactly what I am talking about. Most of us sleep under one at night. Just to end the confusion for people out there, a doona is the same as a duvet or a continental quilt. So it stands to reason that a doona cover is the outer covering for the said quilt, which can be removed and laundered.

I was curious to see just what I could create using a queen size doona cover. Didn't take any BEFORE shots, but here is the AFTER result...


I've been calling it my 'girly bag' because of the pinky/orange fabric colour. Then when it came time to embellish I got carried away with the whole feminine thing and went all flowery.

girly - flowers - closeup

The flowers came from a broken lei necklace from the kids' dress up box. There's a bit of netting in there from a curtain off-cut. It was a bit too stark in the white department, so I subdued it by painting on some diluted parisian essence from the pantry. The tassels and trims are made from reclaimed wool.

girly - closeup

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

eye of horus

Four months later than planned, but finally my 'eye of horus' is complete.

eye of horus - outdoors

What a challenge! So much more involved than I expected!

eye of horus - closeup of eye detail

And I learned the tapestry crochet technique... so that was educational

eye of horus - closeup of edging detail

Those of you who are on Ravelry can check out this Silly String thread to see what the other members have created for this challenge. Mine was originally going to be worked into a bag... but it has grown to rather large dimensions. I'm thinking a wall hanging is more likely!

Monday, June 16, 2008

naughty goldfish!

I cast on for a new project. Someone spank me!

Led astray by Helena a gorgeous knitted girl's jacket featured in the latest Knitty.

Working it in a size 4 for my daughter.

helena (naughty)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

love those rich warm colours

autumn basket (closeup)

project number six completed... I'm on a roll!

autumn basket

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

not sunny enough

I was wanting to show off some fabulous shots of my latest finish... a herringbone bag. But the natural light here today is dreadful and my photos aren't coming out terribly well at all. I suppose I shouldn't really complain. After all... it is WINTER here.

bag 2 (closeup)

I started on this bag way back in February. Had the knitting done within days. But then it was time to seam, and organise the lining and straps. That's when I tossed it aside and started another project. So there wasn't a lot to do, but it was the fiddly stuff.

All done now. That's five of ten items completed this month. I'm half way!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

while the cat is away...

the mouse will play!

Mr Goldfish was away camping last week. A traditional 'boys' trip, so of course the wife and kids were left at home to fend for ourselves.

I hadn't expected to get much crafting done. But the opposite was true! I have made fabulous headway with my commitment to finish ten WIPs by the end of this month.


The latest completion is this seamless baby kimono designed by fellow woolaholic Jacki. I made a few modifications to the pattern. Omitted the ties and used press studs instead. Added a single crochet border. Changed the Garter stitch edging to moss stitch. Shortened the sleeves a little.

And added a small heart embellishment. Not convinced it works entirely, so I might change that down the track. I had real trouble coming up with a feature that I liked today, so I'll look at it with fresh eyes another day.


Monday, June 9, 2008

I want to have another baby...

I am so in love with this baby afghan!!!

baby afghan

It's so soft... and snuggly... and fun... and random... and it makes me want to have another baby

Which is highly unlikely, since I already have my hands full with three little munchkins. And my crafting time would greatly decrease if I was add to the brood. Maybe it's not such a good idea after all. I wonder?

I made this baby blanket for a very dear friend who is expecting her first baby in only a few weeks... yay... a baby girl... I'm so excited!

Since I am well aware of how a household with young children operates, I wanted to make a gift which was practical in every way. It was especially important that it be EASY to care for. Ideally machine washable. And dryer-proof. Just to be certain, I have already run this blanket through my washer and dryer. It came out even nicer than it went in!

So I worked this up in a variety of different cottons reclaimed from ladies jumpers. Crocheted in random stripes. Also using random stitch types for each row. No sewing in those pesky ends either. Just trim them to a standardish length and let them fray in the dryer. Too easy.

baby afghan (closeup with tassel)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

challenged by the 'eye of horus'

Okay. I'll admit I'm way behind the ball on this one. The 'eye of horus' challenge was supposed to have been completed during February 2008. Yes. I realise it is now June! But on the positive side of things... it IS still 2008

When it was first announced, I wasn't particularly interested. It just wasn't really my 'thing' and I didn't know where to start on it. A few days went by and I started to fiddle about with some sketches. I came up with the one pictured below... and was excited to bring it to life as either a wall hanging or a handbag. I was heading down the road of tapestry crochet and felting combined. Grand plans...

eye of horus sketch 2008

After a few failed attempts at the tapestry/felting combination... I decided it was time to change direction. By now it was Easter time and I was starting to experiment with crocheting leftover embroidery threads. While fiddling about with this technique, I crafted this eye. I contemplated using it in my challenge and creating a 3D 'eye of horus'

eye of horus (progress)

Well. It didn't move much further than that. The eye has been rolling around my home for months now. The kids have played 'catch' with it, practiced their juggling, and aimed it at one another in battle. I have attempted a few variations of eye sockets, but it always ended up with me tossing it across the room in disgust.

But I'm determined not to allow this challenge to get the better of me!

So I've gone back to basics. Picked up a hook and some yarn, and just started fiddling about. Not sure exactly where I'm going. Not even sure at this point that I like it. But I am DETERMINED to finish by the end of this month

horus again (progress)

Friday, June 6, 2008

afghan completed... finally

Well, it took me considerably longer than I hoped it would... but that's mostly because I got a little bit distracted by starting new projects!

My kd40 afghan is completed at last.

kd40  (on bed)

I had wanted to complete this gift in two weeks, and it ended up taking me two months. But it's finally finished. Those pesky little ends have all been sewn in, and there is a gentle scallop edging all around. The afghan is a generous fit for a queen size bed.

Created entirely from recycled yarns... this would have to be my largest project to date made from reclaimed materials.