Author: Zara (page 1 of 3)

Fifty-One: Trash Bag

I am the worst at keeping my car clean….well the worst is probably quite an overstatement. It is not like my passenger seat is incubating a biohazardous substance or anything. But my vehicles have always been full of crumbs, littered with receipts and scattered with bobby pins.

My organised nature would lead most people who know me to assume that I am the owner of a clean and tidy car. I spend so much energy making sure that many other aspects of my life (both professionally and personally) are orderly, that I simply cannot be fudged.  However, I do now share a car with Simon and he is not partial to a crumby vehicle. So as a gesture of marital love and affection I decided to make a trash bag for the car to collect rubbish.

Before Borders Books went into receivership, I purchased a brilliant craft book, One Metre Wonders. It wasn’t just the punny title which attracted me, but also the wonderful array of patterns which only use (you guessed it), one metre of fabric. From it I’ve made heat packs with their own belt so you can tie them onto yourself, wine bottle covers, a skirt and more. Also in the book is a pattern for a trash bag which you loop around the headrest of your carseat and it hangs behind the seat, eagerly awaiting your rubbish. A perfect solution to my problem.

I have plenty of fabric in my stash and found three contrasting pieces from which to make my bag. The pattern comprised of eight components, all rectangles. Two large rectangles to make up the body of the bag, one slightly smaller to make a pocket, three narrow rectangles to trim the bag and the two strap pieces. Once I’d cut out all the pieces I did the necessary ironing, pinning, sewing and overlocking. I even got to make my first ever button hole (this surprised me when I realised this was a technique I’d never learnt!) which with a button (duh) is used to connect the two strap pieces together.

The trash bag now lives in the car looking cute and I’m hopeful that I will change my ways and become a diligent disposer of rubbish.

Forty-Seven: Sew good!

When I first moved to Melbourne my Nonna gave me a gorgeous teak sewing table which I’ve moved from house to house ever since. Sadly, I’ve rarely used it for its intended purpose, often it was much more straightforward for me to set up my sewing machine on the kitchen table. In our current abode the spare room lends itself very well to crafting and I’m so delighted that I get to have my sewing machine and overlocker set up all the time – huzzah! Only problem is, they look quite ugly sitting there with their protective plastic covers.

Making covers for the two machines seemed like the obvious thing to do. I found some amazing vintage fabric I’ve had a for a few years (courtesy of a friend of my Dad’s, Carole who has amazing taste) and started to figure out a pattern. For the sewing machine, it was really simple…I cut out two rectangles for the front and the back and one long thin piece to cover the sides and top. One thing that really delighted me was that I was able to join the pattern of the fabric as the dimensions I needed were pretty much bang on, and it fits nicely.

The overlocker cover was not as simple, I followed the same principle with the pattern (a piece for the front and back and another for the sides/top) and sewed it together. Overlockers are an uneven shape, so when I put it over the machine it fit well at the back, but it kinda caved in at the front and looked sloppy. I grabbed my quick unpick and undid the seams at the front so I could play with the fit….it took me about forty five minutes, some pins and a variety of configurations before I found a fit I was happy with – argh! The pattern doesn’t match up as nicely as on the sewing machine cover and it is a little short because of my modifications, but overall I’m happy with how they look and brighten up my sewing table. Hopefully I’ve now re-caught the sewing bug and will start getting creative.

Forty-Six: Christmas Wreath

After I’d concluded my blanket bender I had no crochet project to keep me busy and boy, it was a struggle! For Christmas 2016 I made a wreath for the front door from the gigantic rosemary bush in the garden at my workplace, but I didn’t get around to it for the Christmas just passed. So when I found myself with no crochet project and plenty of green wool left from the blanket I had made my nephew Arthur, I decided to whip together a wreath.

I cut out a donut from a piece of cardboard we had lying around and wound wool around it to cover. Then, I looked up a number of leaf crochet patterns and got hooking…I used the patterns as  base and got a bit creative making a variety of leaves (to see where I started, check out the patterns here, here & here.). Once I’d made all the leaves I expected I needed, I gave them a quick block (they were quite curly) and then I started arranging them on the wreath base (aka donut). I used hot glue to join them all together and once I’d gotten the leaves in place, I made a few red berries to add a pop of colour.

I only finished the wreath the day prior to us driving up to Redcliffs (near Mildura, where Simon’s folks leave) for Christmas, so we took it with us and hung it up at his parents house. I look forward to having the wreath hanging on our door for Christmas 2018.

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: 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-Five & Thirty-Six: Blanket bender

Part of the thrill of crocheting (I just Nanna’d up a whole nother level with that statement) for me is finding wool at op shops which I can save from landfill and turn into something pretty and practical. A few times I’ve found bundles of a half dozen skeins of the same wool at an op shop, clearly abandoned projects by a fellow crafter. Finding enough wool of the same style and dye lot second hand is pretty rare, so even if I don’t have a project immediately in mind for the yarn, I grab it anyway and wait for inspiration to strike.

This habit of mine led to what I am now referring to as my blanket bender. I found 5 skeins of a lovely peach pink 100% wool at the oppy near work and couldn’t go past the $5 price so added it my wool stash. I spent some time wondering what to do with a colour that is neither my style or complimentary to my colouring, but nothing arose. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to expand my crochet skills and learn how to make hexagons. So, I used that as my starting point and got hooking (using this tutorial from Bella Coco). A few hexagons in I realised that the colour of the wool would be perfectly suited to my (then) 7 year old niece Charlotte, so I decided to turn the wool into a blanket for her.

In my wool stash I also had a two colour yarn in a darker peach pink and off white so added some hexagons in this style, along with a number of white or off white hexagons to complement. Joining the hexagons as I went meant that I finished the project quick smart! I added a border around the edges to finish it off and after finally blocking the blanket last month (In finished the crocheting in early May), it’s now ready to give to Charlotte on Christmas day.

  

After I realised I had a blanket for Charlotte and had already give one to my nephew Charles when he was born in February, I decided I wanted to make blankets for each of my nieces and nephews for Christmas so they each have something made by me. So, I set myself the task to make three more blankets by Christmas (this was in June/July).

The second blanket in my bender is for my nephew Noah. I taught myself another crocheting technique, the ripple blanket, using another Bella Coco tutorial (I think I might have a crochet crush!). It took me a few goes watching the tutorial on slow motion to get the hang of it, but it was pretty straight forward to pick up.

Noah’s blanket is shades of blue and grey, this colour combination in the ripple pattern means it looks a little like the ocean. Again, all the wool was from op shops (some even from Tassie when we went there in June). It does pose a challenge buying second hand wool as you cannot control the ply, I’ve tried to combat this by collecting yarns of a similar ply and choosing forgiving patterns. I’ve been doing the same for the other two blankets which will end my bender, which will have to be done by December 24th!

 

I’m really happy with both of the blankets, I learnt a two new techniques as well as the importance of blocking (the process of wetting your project, laying it flat and measuring it out and letting it dry so it is even in size and sits well). With blocking, I think I’ll block hexagons individually in the future to make the size more consistent.

And now, to continue my bender….I’m working on a green blanket for Arthur and a purple/navy/deep pink blanket for Evelyn. I better get hooking because I need to complete those, as well as a (large) handful of other creations to fulfil our I Made That! challenge of 2017. Stay tuned for Blanket Bender Part II.

Note: The main creation phase for these projects took place in April – July, I am only now just getting the chance to sit down and write about them. 

 

Thirty-Two: Daisy Dishcloths

I’m a Chux women, sponges just aren’t my preferred washing implement. The need to use a dishcloth has stayed with me and as we’re trying to move away from household items that have a limited lifespan we’ve been looking for other options.

When we first moved in together Simon purchased some Full Circle dishcloths, which are made from 100% organic cotton and have loops in the fabric to help with scrubbing. They’ve great to use and we just keep them cycling through the wash so we’ve got a fresh one when needed. However, I’d prefer something that uses recycled materials, why deplete the worlds resources further?

I came across a good DIY option when we were holidaying in Tassie earlier this year. One of our Air BnB’s had dishcloths made from retro towels, they looked fantastic and did the job of dishwashing well (the pile of towels makes these dishcloths good for scrubbing). So, I filed this project away in my mind. I noticed recently that our exisiting dishcloths were getting towards the end of their lives, so one evening I plucked an old school towel that was getting ratty around the edges from our linen cupboard and got to work.

 

Making them was simple, I cut the towel into squares (or squarish shapes) and simply overlocked around the edges. My overlocker thread collection is limited, but thankfully the bright yellow I had contrasted well with the blues and greens. I think it took me about 15 minutes to complete this project and now we have eight daisy dishcloths ready to put into rotation!

 

Thirty: Oh deer!

Many moons ago I purchased an AMAZING rug from Savers for $25. The rug is made up of a repetitive pattern of deers mid gallop set in oval frames surrounded by ferns and filigree. A combination of neutrals and a delightful green (which my google of ‘shades of green’ likens it to ‘pear’).

For a brief time the rug resided in one of my share houses loungerooms and while it brought me much joy, it also brought much dirt (and housemates dog’s pee) upon itself.  I spot cleaned the rug, removed it from the compromising situation and since then it’s been stored away. Originally, I had wanted to turn it into a wall hanging so when we made the move to Brunswick, I decided to make that happen.

One morning I got inspired to hang the dear thing. I found a piece of dowel in the shed, cut it to size and crocheted a some twine I had into a more fashionable hanger. I sewed tabs along the top of the rug, slipped the dowel through and then hung it up in our bedroom behind out bed.

  

To be honest, it doesn’t look as good as I imagined it would, which saddens me. I’m not sure if it’s because it doesn’t suit the space or because there’s inconsistencies in the colour because of spot cleaning or because the weight of the rug on the tabs I sewed have caused it to bow and sag along the top. Rather than writing it off completely I think I will get it dry cleaned, hoping the colour sorts itself out and fix my tabs up. Hopefully then, it will be as dear as I imagined it would be!

Note: Since making this wallhanging and getting around to posting it, I have taken it down and we’ve put up some other prints. Hopefully I’ll find a place for the hanging at our house, or find a good home for it.

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