Month: August 2017

Twenty-Five & Twenty-Six: Triple Threat

Two years ago when Simon and I got married and moved into our first home we inherited some dark green leather couches from my Nonna. After two summers of sticking to the leather and two winters of chilled bottoms we decided that when we moved we’d buy a new couch. I spent hours researching and finally we landed on a Freedom couch. She ain’t the belle of the ball, but she’s quite practical and good looking enough to keep around (a bit like myself ;)).

We moved in May and since then, whenever I’ve looked at the cushions they’ve made me terribly uncomfortable as they do not coordinate with our decor at all. Naturally, I decided to make some cushion covers.

It is a bit tricky to describe the style of our house, but there’s a lot of timber, green, orange and already a bit of pattern (hrmmm…sounds quite 70’s).  So I didn’t want to add more busyness to the space by incorporating more colour or pattern. Thus, I decided to stick to natural tones and used what I’m referring to as a craft triple threat, sewing, weaving and crocheting to fashion the cushions. I utilitiesed calico and some camel suede I had in my fabric draw and added texture using weaving and crocheting.

(Top left: suede, right: crochet & bottom left: weaving)

Being the inner city hipster that I am, Simon got me a handloom for Christmas from Loom and Spindle so I started weaving to use as a textural piece. I found some lovely ivory chunky wool at an op shop and used both basic and soumak weave stitches to create my fabric. As it was my first proper go at weaving, I didn’t quite get my tension right and the piece was warped. I also knew the weaving would be too small for the pillow inserts I had, so devised a plan to put it inside a border of the camel suede with a calico backing.

I cut out the pieces of suede to create the border and when I laid it all out, it was NQR…there was too much going on. Calico was a much more complimentary fabric, so I cut out what I need and got sewing, making the back suede instead of the calico I had intended to use. Rather than wasting the strips of suede I cut out, I sewed them together along the long edge and used them (again, along with some calico) to make another cover.

The technique I used for the third cushion cover was crochet. I used cotton shop twine from Bunnings to make a massive granny square. Fashioned a calico cover (front and back) and then stitched the granny square to the front – voila! The trio of cushions look fab on our new couch and I’m much more comfortable (both literally and figuratively). I may whip up another simple cover using the calico and the suede – stay tuned!

I’m going to be a little cheeky and class this as two projects as I used two distinct skills: weaving and crocheting.

Twenty-Four: Yarn Bowling

For Zara’s recent birthday I decided to get her a yarn bowl. A yarn bowl is a bowl that you put your skein of yarn in to allow it to pull freely as you knit (or crochet). I wanted to get something nice and vintage however I quickly discovered that most are either modern plastic rubbish or very expensive ceramic antiques. Neither really seemed right, so I thought I would make one.

Ceramic appeared to be a silly choice of material for something that I thought is so likely to fall to the floor at least once in its working life, plus it is a little out of my skill-set. So I settled on wood. As I have no lathe I went searching for a ready made bowl and got lucky at Savers where I found a perfectly sized wooden bowl.

A bit of research showed that many designs use spiral cut into the bowl for the yarn to run through, so my next step was to work out how to cut that. I borrowed my brother’s rotary tool thinking that’s what they’re designed for, but had very limited success (or no success really). With Zara’s birthday looming, and very little time to work on the project with her out of the house I needed a solution. Turns out in the days before cheap power tools people used coping saws for this kind of work, so after a quick stop at everyone’s favourite monopolistic hardware warehouse I was in business.

With the groove cut I thought a lick of paint would help with the final look, so on went a few coats of paint.

During this whole process I was a little worried about the weight of the bowl; it was very light and just didn’t feel like it had enough heft to stay still while yarn was being pulled. I really wasn’t sure how I was going to correct this. I thought I could add some weights of some kind recessed into the base of the wood, or put some kind of heavy metal disc onto the bottom as a kind of base but I couldn’t find anything that would be heavy enough and small enough to fit (let alone actually not look hideous).

Then on an impromptu trip to Savers I came across a great metal base to some object that had since been bought by someone else. I managed to purchase it while Zara was looking elsewhere and concealed it in a pocket until home.

It was a perfect fit and added a good bit of weight (and much needed flair). After a very fragmented building process I am pretty happy with the result, and Zara says she likes it, so that’s good too. Nothing like a hand made present.

Twenty-Three: Clothes-Line

Part of the reason we have been a bit irregular with our blog posting is that we recently moved to our new home in Brunswick. It is a lovely house, with an actual backyard (well, more of a courtyard really). Strangely there was no clothesline though, so I immediately began to mentally design a system.

The result is a cheap, high capacity and expandable system that is unobtrusive when not in use.

The main components are stainless steel eyelets and multipurpose rope (with a tracer colour in it to avoid accidents). I fastened the eyelets on the two side fences opposite each other, so when the rope is strung between them it spans the entire backyard. By stringing the line through the eyelets in the below configuration I can quickly use one length of rope to create 20 metres of clothesline.

This system is completely customisable; I can string up a single length, or two, or run the rope directly back across the yard twisting it around itself slightly to create a nifty way of hanging socks without needing pegs. It is also expandable by simply adding more eyelets and rope.

For a finishing touch I added a cleat hook on both sides of the yard to simplify tying off, as well as a hook for hanging the rope when not in use (the hook turned out to be way bigger than I needed and will probably be repurposed in a future project).

All in all I spent very little and got very much; totally worth it.

 

Twenty-Two: No Poo

 If you looked at these two photos and came to the assumption I would be writing about a cake I made, you’re mistaken. I did not bake with these two items, rather I made dry shampoo!

Washing my hair is at the top of my annoyances list (along with sultanas in curry) so if I can prolong this task, I will. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the feeling of clean hair. It’s the arduous task of getting to the clean, dry hair that gives me the irrites. If a genie jumped out of a lantern and granted me a wish, I wouldn’t be asking for a packet of Tim Tams that never ran out. Instead, I’d wish to have clean, silky, glistening hair until the end of my days without washing.

So unless I go down the no poo route (I kind of regret typing that), having methods to draw out the time between washes it is. In my quest to be more au natural (in relation to toxins, not clothing) making my own dry shampoo seemed like a good idea.

Ages ago, my bestie sent me a link to a recipe from Wellness Mama. The recipe has three ingredients which you combine together; arrowroot flour, cacao powder and essential oils. As the photos above demonstrate, I deemed the oils not essential and just mixed together the flour and cacao. I popped the sham in a small mineral make up jar I had. The jar has a few holes in the top so I can easily shake it upon my scalp and rub/brush it in.

I’ve found that this mixture seems to work really well for me and have used it for a number of months. My measures of success are: 1) I can go one day less without washing my hair and 2) I smell of cacao.

 

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