Month: December 2017

Forty-Three & Forty-Four: Blanket bender – Part II

You may remember that a month or two ago I wrote about my crocheting blanket bender, where I’d set myself the goal of making blankets for each of my nieces and nephews for Christmas this year (minus the youngest who got one when he was born in February). Well, sadly this bender has come to an end as I’ve finished the final two creations (sad, as I no longer have a large crochet project to work on!). But I’m not really that sad at all, because these two blankets look spectacular!

I started work on a green blanket for Arthur a few months ago, a patchwork style of a number of different yarns (again all sourced second hand, special thanks to my mother-in-law, Chris who found some for me). The blanket is made up of 30 different squares of double crochet, which I aimed to make all the same size. This proved a little troublesome given the different plies of the yarns I was using, but I managed to go reasonably well all things considered.

 

My last blanket was for my niece Evelyn. A few months ago I went through all of the granny squares I’d made when I first started crocheting that I intended to turn into one large blanket to use at home. I decided that I’m too OCD to have such a mismatched blanket and instead chose a number of squares in a pink/purple/grey/navy palette to make Evelyn’s blanket.  After making half a dozen or so more complementary squares I stitched it all together and Zara’s your aunty!

I’m so happy with these blankets and I while I hope the kids open their presents on Christmas day with great exclamations of joy I recognise they are not nearly as exciting as Lego. So my even greater hope is that each of my nieces and nephews treasure the gifts I’ve made them and that the blankets keep them warm for many years to come.

Forty-Two: Door Marmalade

In the winter of ’17 I pruned our orange tree. Most of the cuttings were predominately leaves, but there were a couple of nice straightish branches. As usual I was reluctant to just throw away timber, so I squirreled it away in the shed to dry out a bit.

Our house is built to have air flowing through it to keep it cool, so keeping the front door open is important. I figured I could use the biggest branch to make a door stopper but the gap at the bottom of our front door is pretty hefty; about 3cm. So it required me to put two pieces together to get enough height to properly wedge the door open.

A quick bit of sawing and an overnight gluing and I had my door stop.

It is not perfect, nor exactly what I had in mind when I started, but working with a raw natural material was interesting. Finished with a light sanding and some orange oil it looks fine, and it works a treat.

It’s a door jam, made from orange wood: door marmalade. Get it?

The smaller sticks I have used in the garden to keep some of our tomatoes upright.

Forty-One: I Can Fix That!

While the main focus of this project was to create things, the original manifesto also mentions mending things—something which we seem to have mostly forgotten about. But fear not, I have fixed some things and will now briefly tell you about it.

Thing 1

On a recent weekend away we had plans to do some baking, so we packed some flour. Sadly the box that held the flour jar also held many other things, until it gave way and held nothing (something which we had both seen coming, but did nothing about..).

Luckily the damage was not catastrophic; only two neat chips broke away from the lid. A pretty simple fix. My main takeaway from this fix (and others before it) is that ceramic adhesive is good stuff. It is easy to apply as it doesn’t set quickly and allows you to manoeuvre the piece(s) into the perfect position. It also is easy to get a clean finish as you can just wipe away excess with a damp cloth, or once it has set, using a razor blade to scrape your joins clean.

Thing B

(Sorry, no photos for this part. I took some but they’ve disappeared.)

A few months ago I dropped my phone one too many times and cracked the screen badly enough that the touch stopped working. This made me pretty unhappy, as while it was not a super-expensive nor new phone, it was perfectly serviceable and I was not planning on retiring it any time soon. Apparently, the average working life of a mobile phone is 7 years but worldwide the average consumer changes their mobile every 11 months (Sharpe, 2005), which I find quite disturbing considering the environmental impacts of the mining, manufacturing and transporting of these little pocket computers. Not to mention the horrific consequences of dumping e-waste into countries ill-equipped to handle it.

Sadly greed and a lack of regulation means that most things built these days are not easy to repair, even though it would be relatively easy to do (or we could use our awesome technology to just make phones that don’t break, but where would the profit there be?) </rant>

Anyway, I should get back on track. I ordered a new screen from the eBay for about $25—roughly $175 less than I was quoted for repair in a shop—and when it arrived I set about pulling apart the old Nexus 5.

Long story short, www.ifixit.com is awesome and I was able to swap the screens without much trouble.

My take-away from this fix was to do one’s research. As previously mentioned, phones are not really built to be repaired. I got lucky as the Nexus 5 is pretty good in that regard, however I also started to pull apart my old Nexus 4 (the screen on that also died an untimely death) and quickly found that it was going to be a fair bit of work and require a heat-gun to soften the glue. I recommend you watch a disassembly video before you buy the parts and decide if you’re capable.

Thing Ⅲ

I’m not entirely sure where this little table came from, but if I had to guess, I would say an op-shop. Sadly it wasn’t really built to last and the hinges that are vital to its structural integrity were pretty flimsy and have mostly given up on life.

So off I went to The Big Green Shed and bought some new hinges. Made from solid brass, these hinges are a lot sturdier than their predecessors and should last considerably longer. The new hinges were a little bit bigger than the old, so some chiselling  was needed to get them to fit, but nothing too difficult.

They were a little pricey at $2 a pop, but for the cost of two coffees I’ve kept alive a table to put my two coffees on.

Refs:

Sharpe, M. (2005). “Climbing the e-waste mountain.” Journal of Environmental Monitoring 7(10): 933-936.

Forty: Funky fresh facewipes

 

After a big day (or a late night), the last thing I want to do is wash my makeup off. All I desire is to crawl into bed and sleep (mmmmmm….sleep). Historically, I’ve used make up wipes to deal with my laziness, but as I’ve written before I’m trying to move away from single use items.

I figured that reusable make up wipes could be made at home. After doing some research, I decided to use this method as a guide, making a few adjustments along the way.

Rather than purchasing washcloths (as suggested by the method) I grabbed a pair of flannelette PJs which died an early death (due to a big rip in a location difficult to repair) and tore up a legs worth into 15-20cm squares and overlocked the edges. I then shoved all of these squares (14 in total) into a jar.

Now, for the solution! I mixed together boiled water (to kill any bacteria in the water), witch hazel (an astringent to remove excess oil) as well as some jojoba and vitamin e oils (apparently oil dissolves oil, and my face gets oilyyyy). The method I was following also called for castile soap, but a few other mixtures I read did not include this ingredient. So, cause we didn’t have castile soap on hand, I just omitted it from the mixture!

Once I’d measured out each item and had given it a vigorous stir, I poured it into the jar over the squares I’d prepared earlier. It’s been great on the nights I’ve been feeling lazy to just pluck out a wipe and remove the day from my face! I’ve got a small container in the bathroom which I pop the used wipe in and once they’re all used I’ll put them through the machine with a load of towels.

I’m also considering looking up a method to make body wipes, I’m heading to Nepal in January/February for two weeks as part of my work. There will be a stretch on the trip where the possibility of bathing is unlikely, so it might be wise to take some as a way to keep….ermmm…fresh!

Thirty-Nine: Stress Scarf

I’m pretty darn good at finding wool in op-shops and a few months ago the yarn-gods were kind, bestowing upon me five skeins of 100% New Zealand 8-ply wool in a brilliant shade of red. For some time now, I’ve been wanting a  red scarf/shawl so I knew exactly what I’d be making with my new haul.

When I found the wool, I was about two months out from the major event I run. Event management is a pretty stressful job and through the planning process I have to make sure I have space in my life for stress reducing activities. Crocheting is proving to be my ultimate stress busting activity so the project became known as my ‘stress scarf’ around the lunchroom table (myself and a few of my colleagues will often crochet on our lunch breaks).

I spent quite a while on Ravelry trawling for a shawl and after much deliberation decided to actually pay for a pattern (usually I’m a cheapskate and find free tutorials online). The pattern I chose was a simple design, incorporating pom-poms…so I couldn’t say no! You can check it out here. 

After crocheting for some time, I realised that the pattern was asymmetric. I’m a very symmetrical person so I did not handle this very well…but I was too far into the project to turn back. So I decided to finish the project and if I never wore it to give it away or pull out the whole thing and start with a different pattern. Making the pompoms was great (I might use them on a blanket I’m working on at the moment) and it was great to learn the combination of stitches used to create them. I blocked the shawl to help it sit evenly and wove in the ends.

I finished the shawl ages prior to the conference (I’m not sure if that is an indicator of the stress of the conference or the amount of time I spend crocheting!), but it was too warm to wear it to the actual event itself (in late October). When the weather has permitted, I have worn it and I have to say I enjoy wearing it much more than I expected. The frequency in which I wear the shawl next winter will be the true indicator, but if I’m not a fan the next conference won’t be far away, so I’ll need some stress relief!!!.

 

Thirty-Eight: Beeswax Wraps

If you’ve explored the plastic free world at all, you’ve probably come across beeswax wraps. A replacement for cling wrap, they are made from thin cotton fabric and infused with melted wax to make a pliable, waterproof covering for food. The wax softens with the warmth of your hands and is then flexible and able to be moulded to your bowl.

A few years back I made some beeswax wraps by grating beeswax (which I purchased online from an Apiarist) evenly over fabric squares (all scraps I had lying around at home) and melting it in the oven. The wraps weren’t great, the wax became soft but lacked the cling factor (check out the method I followed here). After some more research I found that including a few other ingredients along with the wax was the trick…jojoba oil for some extra softness and pine rosin (resin from trees!) to add tackiness.

Finding jojoba oil was no problem at all, I ordered it yonks ago when I made deodorant from the same online store. Pine rosin was harder to source! After some research I found that rosin is often used by dancers and gymnasts to create grip on slippery floors. So, I looked up a local dance store in Essendon and to my delight they stocked rosin, so I got to work.

I found that my previous grate, spread, melt procedure meant that the three ingredients didn’t combine, leaving pools of wax, oil and rosin scattered across the fabric. Some googling led me to a method where you used a double boiler to melt and mix the items together, then use an old pastry brush to paint the mixture on, pop in the oven on a tray to even the wax out and then hang up to dry.  And apart from leaving a sticky residue on the bowl which has proven impossible to remove, it worked a treat!

I made fifteen new wraps and even re-waxed the wraps I made a few years ago (they are so much better!). All of the wraps were made from fabric I already had on hand and I’m really happy with the end results. And I’ve got a heap of Christmas gifts ready to go 🙂

Thirty-Seven: Curbside Chairs

Many moons ago I came across a pair of much loved chairs by the side of the road just outside our house. It appeared that someone else had had given up partway through a reupholstering attempt and I thought I would pick up where they had left off.

After quite a while taking up a lot of space in our garage that we didn’t really have to spare an ultimatum was set; either work was to commence or the chairs needed to go. So we began to finish the task of stripping back the chairs in preparation to reupholster.

Partway through, I discovered what I assume was the reason the previous owners halted work on the project; a nasty crack in one of the chairs. But I wasn’t about to give up that easy. So I measured up and set to creating a brace from some leftover hardwood I had lying about from some other long forgotten project.

Meanwhile, Zara had taken the old vinyl covering and made up a paper template for our new upholstery. Using her sewing skills she was quickly able to cut out and sew the top layer to a calico backing for extra durability.

Then life got busy.

But after a hiatus of some more moons, work continued. I threw a lot of elbow grease into sanding back the timber before getting a few coats of stain/varnish on, giving the old chairs a fresh breath of life.

Now the end was in sight and we set about powering home. Some heavy duty cotton webbing stapled on, cut the high density foam to shape (tip: foam is the same texture as bread, so use a bread knife to cut it!), then it was time to put everything together. Some more staples on the underside and some nice brass tacks for the top and the chairs were finally complete!

From hard rubbish to comfortable spare chairs.

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