Friday, July 25, 2008

rag bowl

Yesterday I spent some time catching up on what some of you guys are working on. Donna from A More Green and Simple Life has been making bowls from magazines. I was so inspired to try making one myself. It almost looks too easy! Check out these fabulous instructions to see how simple the process is. All you need is a hot glue gun, and about half of an old magazine.

Well... disappointingly there is no hot glue gun here. I could certainly borrow a gun... but for some unexplained reason, time was of the essence... I wanted a bowl and I wanted it now! Patience is not one of my virtues.

So I grabbed my hook and some rags, and set about creating a different kind of recycled bowl.

First I worked a flat circle.


Then built up the edges, increasing just a little.


Kept building up the edges, and some more gentle increases.


Added some kitchen string for a cross stitch finish to the rim.

rag bowl 1


rag bowl 2

And in use...

rag bowl 4

rag bowl 6

Thursday, July 24, 2008

still in love with rags

Just finished off another rag bag. My addiction continues...

Body is crocheted from assorted remnants and bed linen.

check rag bag  (progress)

Recycled yarn was used for the straps and the floral embellishment.


The flower is attached using a pin, so it can be removed or repositioned depending on one's mood.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

a blast from the past

Check this out...

strawberry shortcake

I'll bet it's been a while since you've seen a sewing basket that is quite this PINK... yes?

Mum has been cleaning out her laundry, and came across this fabulous Strawberry Shortcake sewing basket. I actually think that this one may have belonged to my younger sister... I have a vague recollection that my first sewing basket was a vibrant shade of yellow.

My sister doesn't share the same love of 'treasures from the past' that I do. So the basket has come to live with me. As you can see, the fabric on top has become a little grubby over the years but I'm hoping it should clean up nicely.

As an added bonus, the basket was full of sewing related goodies which are no longer of any use to Mum... so they have come to live with me too. Nothing super fancy, but when you have a NOTHING NEW policy for your craft supplies, surprises like this are wonderful! Sequins, lace, bells, sequins, buttons, press studs, sequins, elastic, googly eyes, sequins, safety pins, hook and eye closures, sequins, self-covering buttons... even Girls' Brigade badges... and of course, more sequins

strawberry shortcake - fillings

Tuesday, July 22, 2008



Finally finished working on Helena, which is a free pattern published in the latest issue of Knitty. Nice and easy pattern, but of course I made a few modifications. Added an eyelet band across the middle so that I could thread a ribbon through... rather than using the knitted ties as per the pattern. Worked one extra lace pattern repeat, to make the jacket a bit longer. Edged around the sides and neck with single crochet, rather than garter stitch.


I made this in a size four... it's a little large, but should be a good fit for next winter. Hopefully by then I will find a nice black satin ribbon to match. I have temporarily used a black twisted cord for the tie... but would prefer a ribbon. Now I just need to find one. Ah... the joys of committing oneself to using only RECYCLED materials. Never mind... I have until next winter!


Monday, July 21, 2008

when I was a girl...

I loved my childhood bedroom...

Bear in mind, we are going back to the mid seventies here...

I can still picture it now... The walls are decorated with purple and white vertical striped wallpaper... There is a dresser which is painted white... and the drawers are purple... On top of the dresser is my purple alarm clock... On the polished floorboards lies a purple shaggy rug... And my bed is covered by the most magnificent knitted patchwork blanket.

I was so delighted with that blanket. Mum made it for me. I thought she was so clever. It must have taken her years to complete. Hundreds and hundreds of 'autumn leaf' motifs... individually knit and then stitched together.

Well, actually... it wasn't completed. She didn't quite get around to doing the edging.

aututmn leaves afghan - mum's

See the zig-zag look to the edge? Mum had made a bunch of half motifs which were to be sewn along the sides to fill in those gaps and give a straight edge to the blanket. But they were never sewed on... and I can't say I blame her... after all the sewing she had already put into the afghan, the thought of doing any more would have been a nightmare!

Unfortunately, the years have taken their toll on the blanket. Quite a number of the motifs have become damaged and are needing replaced. So this is my winter goal. To replace the damaged motifs, and add an edging to the blanket. It's the perfect project for this time of year. The evenings here are getting so cold now. It will be nice to sit with that blanket on top of me, while I make the repairs.

aututmn leaves afghan - mum's

I still have the original pattern.

aututmn leaves afghan pattern

It was published in the Australian Women's Weekly... August 2, 1972.

aututmn leaves afghan pattern

I was so inspired by mum's efforts that when I had my first child, I decided to make an 'autumn leaf' afghan for his room. I wasn't quite as committed as mum though, and I ended up with a much smaller sized throw.

aututmn leaves afghan - mine

Every now and then, I fancy making another one. I've been thinking that it would be quite fun to make about ten 'autumn leaves' from each jumper that I recycle... and then when I have gathered enough... join them all together into a spectacular rug. It would look magnificent, and have so much character!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

almost there

This cushion will be finished soon, I promise!

I've decided to use the swatch for the front of the cushion and for the back of the cushion I will use a piece of felted jumper to match the heart on the front. Then add some tassels at each corner for some extra pizazz...

I've made the tassels from the burgundy ribbon yarn I used in the swatch.

red tassel

Have you made tassels like this before? They really are simple and you can co-ordinate them so nicely with your project. I've added a photo tutorial to my blog here for anyone who might be interested in the instructions.

make tassels from yarn

Yarn tassels are so quick and simple to make... can be made from scraps, so they cost next to nothing... and you can co-ordinate them beautifully with your projects, by using matching yarn.

blue tassel

I learned to make these as a child. I promise you... they are not difficult! I've taken lots of photos along the way, so you can see how to make your own tassel. As always... if you click on the photo it will take you to my flickr account where you can view it in a larger size for more detail.

I'd love some feedback on these instructions, so after you try them out please leave a comment and let me know how you went... good, bad or otherwise!

You will need yarn, something to wind it around (I use a small book) and a pair of scissors

Hold the end of your yarn firmly at the edge of the book, and begin wrapping around and around...

and around and around... NOT TOO TIGHTLY... maybe 15-20 times, depending on how thick you would like your tassel to be... then cut the yarn

thread a small length of yarn under the 'wrappings' at the spine of the book

firmly tie a double knot to secure

snip through all pieces of yarn at the other end

remove the book, and it should now be looking like this...

okay... here's where it starts to get a little bit fancy, but hang in there... it's worth it!

use yarn directly from the ball for this section... hold the tail end of the yarn at the top of your work with the other two threads

then bring the yarn down, loop it to the right, then back over itself ( just look at the photo, you'll see what I mean)

still with me?

start winding yarn around the tassel... you are creating the 'neck'

and around and around

and around and around... until you are happy with the length of the 'neck'

snip yarn from ball, leaving a short tail... thread this tail through the 'loop' you made earlier (look closely at the photo and you should be able to see what I have done)

pull gently on the starting tail (which is coming out of the top of the neck) you should notice the loop at the bottom gets smaller and smaller

and smaller and smaller

until it disappears inside the neck

now you can snip both tails off

and trim the ends of the tassel straight


ta-da... now it's your turn to try

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Some days the creative energy flows so thick and fast that my fingers can't keep up with my mind...

Then there's days like today...

I'm really keen to finish off my step-by-step design challenge. But I hit a bit of an obstacle along the way. The embellishment was driving me out of my mind. At first I had planned to add a felted heart. I had even selected the burgundy felt before I chose the yarn colours. So the material selection for the entire project was based on the old felted jumper I planned to use for the heart.

Problem is... when I added the heart, I hated it... it just didn't look 'right'... whatever 'right' might be. So I tried one option after the next after the next...

this just looked too bland

option 1

so I tried this, which was too gaudy

option 2

then I abandoned the felt idea, and tried to embroider a monogram... ugh

option 3

back to the original heart again, but this time adding a button... getting there, but still not quite what I was after

option 4

and then finally success with this effort...

option 5

So now to make the 'swatch' into a cushion... surely that will be the easy part, I hope!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

head first?

Not this time!

Almost every time I start work on a new creature, I begin with the head and face. For me it is such a focal point... so much character is expressed in the face, that I always want to start there... and worry about the remainder of the body later. The face brings the creature to life, and gives me direction for the body.

What invariably happens though is that I get so absorbed in creating the head and face... that I lose track of how large it is becoming. Then I end up having to make a much larger body than planned, in order to keep everything in proportion. So the overall creature ends up being twice the size I had anticipated.

In order to prevent myself from falling into the same trap again, I thought I'd try a slightly different tact and begin with the body. Working from my salad bar sketch... we now have a torso...

progress 1

Monday, July 14, 2008


A little more work on the step-by-step design today...

progress 2

it's telling me it wants to become a small cushion... and to forget about the larger felted heart I had been planning to add... and maybe consider a monogram letter instead...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

design inspiration challenge

Design Inspiration Challenge is yet another group I have stumbled across at Ravelry. Since I'm still very new to the whole idea of design, I thought it would be a worthwhile group to sit back and observe... then jump into once I developed some confidence.

I think I might not have been the only one waiting to see how things worked before they got involved. There were too many onlookers and not enough action!

So Knita, the very clever moderator/cheerleader of the group has decided to ease us into the world of designing with a step-by-step design challenge. She made it sound easy, so I thought I'd give it a go. There are four basic steps. I've deviated a little, as I tend to do... but it gave me somewhere to start.

Step 1. choose 3 shades of your favourite colour

Well, since I'm working exclusively with reclaimed yarns, colour choice is dependent on what I have on hand on any given day. So I had a fossick through my stash and chose three yarns... not quite the same colour, but all in the blue/green family

step by step yarn

Step 2. choose a contrast colour

I knew I wanted a burgundy colour, but also a beige to balance it out... so I chose two.

step by step contrast yarn

Step 3. make a colour graph of your favourite object

It's not colour. It's not a graph. Maybe I'm not very good at following simple instructions! But I scribbled out a rough sketch based on hearts.

step by step design challenge (sketch)

Step 4. knit or crochet your design

This is the stage I am at at the moment. The idea is to knit a swatch at least 40st x 40st. I have cast on 50, and will just work until it is square. Then I will use the 'swatch' to create a cushion or a bag, or whatever takes my fancy...

step by step progress 1