{How To} Upcycle an old jumper into a bag.

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Every so often a friend of my Mum’s brings me a huge bag of hand-me-downs. It’s such a treat. After her last visit I plunged my hand into a bag, rummaged around and pulled out a huge knitted jumper. It was a chunky, grey wool knitted in loose, wide stitches. The body of the jumper was a T shape, two large squares for the body and four smaller squares for the arms. I loved it, it looked dreadful on me.

Tools of the trade

But did I give up and throw it to one side? Oh no, I wasn’t letting this one go to the charity shop. So here is what I decided to do with my new jumper instead…

1) First I cut both arms off the jumper leaving me with a vaguely square bag shape. When you cut into a knitted fabric you have to stitch along the edges you are about to cut otherwise when you snip through the stitches your jumper will unravel. For smaller knits you can do this on your sewing machine using a zigzag stitch. I used a tapestry needle and a strand of the wool I was using for my edging to catch in the stitches around the arm holes.

Single crochet edge2) Next for a nice chunky edging. Using three strands of double knit yarn together I single crocheted all the way around two sides and the bottom of the bag, closing all the openings as I went.

 

CAT BAG 01

 

Hmmm, not so much plain as blank don’t you agree? I decided to stuff new bag with squashy balls of yarn for some wooly inspiration. Once the bag was full there was really only one way to go…

3) I cut eyes, nose and whiskers out of some pre made felt and I had all the best intentions of stitching them on, but ended up sticking them to the front of the bag with fabric glue. (They will fall off eventually, there wasn’t much surface to stick them to but when they do I will actually take the time to hand stitch them on, promise!).

Yarn Bag

From misfit jumper to the cat’s whiskers of a yarn bag in an hour and a half, and I had everything I needed in the house already. Purrrfect.

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{How To} Dyeing to make your silk hankies look kool?

 

{How to} Kool Aid Dye

First things first,  I do not apologise unreservedly for the dreadful puns in the title of this post.

Secondly, I tried to take beautiful photos of each stage of this process I really did but imagine a wet, soft, slightly lumpy mass of silk hankies soaking in a shallow bath of deep red liquid….it’s straight from a horror film! The finished hankies are very pretty though so more photos of them instead.

Now on to the scentsational new dye I found when I should have been food shopping….

I will not be the first person to tell you that Kool Aid stains everything it touches. But this can be a good thing. Just ask pinterest.

Kool aid and hankies

You will need:

  • 1 ounce / 30 grams silk hankies
  • 2 x packets ‘red’ Kool Aid (pretty sure I used one cherry and one tropical punch)
  • 1 x packet Grape Kool aid
  • dye bath (I used a Pyrex oven dish)
  • white vinegar

A word to the wise, silk hankies stick to EVERYTHING. No matter how smooth and soft you think your hands are, silk hankies are here to tell you that you are very much mistaken. Moisturise your hands before you start!

1.) The hankies need to be completely saturated so that they can soak up all the dye. Fill a large deep tray with enough water to completely cover the hankies and add 3 tablespoons of vinegar. The vinegar isn’t essential as there is plenty of citric acid in the Kool aid already but it can’t hurt. The edges of the hankies can take quite a while to get completely soaked through, you know the fibres are saturated when they darken and stop looking ‘white’. You might need to weight the fabric down to hold it under the water. I used yoghurt pots full of water because that was what I had but anything smooth, heavy and waterproof you have to hand will be fine!

Preheat your oven to 175F, 80C.

2.) Pour out a little of the water. Pour one packet of grape Kool Aid at one end of the tray, two packets of ‘red’ Kool aid at the other end and allow the dye to fully diffuse through the hankies, you can press on the hankies with your hands to help the dye spread if you need to.

3.) Once you are happy with the colours put the dye bath and hankies into the oven and check it every 20 minutes. The dyeing process is complete when the dye bath is clear, or the fibres can’t absorb any more of the dye. I left my hankies in the oven for an hour in total as the red colouring never really disappeared. Maybe I gave up too easily but the purple had completely gone from the dye bath and the red tint to the dye bath wasn’t changing so I figured enough was enough!

Kool aid dye drying hankies

4.) Let the bath cool then gently lift out your hankies, lay them in a colander and rinse them VERY gently in cold running water. When I rinsed my hankies the water ran red for quite a while. This might be because they needed more heat to help fix the colour, or it might just be that the red colourings in the Kool aid are not very colourfast. *Note to self – I need a crafting microwave!* Use a tiny squirt of whatever dish soap you have on your sink for one final rinse of your hankies and then you can lay them out to dry on a rack or peg them out to dry.

Originally I bought the silk hankies to add extra colour and texture to my wet felting and I thought they might look cool on the outside of some lanterns. With the red colour still running out of the hankies I think wet felting with them is probably out of the question. So instead I have decided to try and spin them on my drop spindle. Sounds good huh? The only thing is I have never used my drop spindle before and I have a feeling this isn’t going to be the easiest way to learn. I’ll let you know how I get on!

{How to} make Snowball Decorations

Video

This the second of 3 tutorials I’ve filmed for christmas this year. I’ll upload the final one before Christmas, watch this space!

{How to} Beaded pipe cleaner baubles

Video

I’ve wanted to make video tutorials for such a long time and now I’ve finally done it!

It’s not easy this video business (especially when you live in a basement and even getting enough light is an uphill struggle!) but I am working on it. Baby steps people, baby steps!

But that’s not all that’s new in the pickleverse. You might already have noticed. You are no longer reading Pickled, pinned and stuffed, you are now reading A Peck of Pickles. There’s no real reason behind the name change other than it’s shorter and I like it better!

So as well as following me here, now you can find A Peck of Pickles on

Instagram : https://goo.gl/mzRaKb

Pinterest : https://goo.gl/orYAqR

YouTube : https://goo.gl/RLSedY

 

 

 

{How to} Rag Rug Wreath

wreath featured image TEXT

We need to thank the early 1900s for this nifty, thrifty craft! The best fabrics to use are woollen or jersey weight fabrics but you can use whatever you like, just keep in mind that the thicker your fabric the tuftier your rug.

A quick note about fancy pants crafting gadgets that you dont really need. You dont need a rugging tool, also (and brilliantly) known as a bodger, to make a rag rug. You can use a crochet hook, and if you don’t have one of those you could use a chopstick to push the strip through the hessian. What? Not even a chopstick? Try the end of a thinnish pencil. You dont need a rotary cutter and metal ruler to cut your strips of cloth, scissors work just fine, but gadgets make these jobs much quicker. If you like the look of rugging and think you might like to do more then you can invest in a bodger if you wish. Ok, enough with the gadgets, moving on…

red wreath strips

You will need:

  • Two identical cardboard rings (the size you want your wreath to be)
  • Pen
  • Fabric scraps, plus an extra piece to cover the back of your wreath
  • Hessian
  • Scissors
  • Rotary cutter (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Crochect hook/ rugging tool
  • glue
  • string or ribbon for hanging

Step one. Cut strips of fabric 1 inch wide and 4 inches long from your fabric.

Step two. Draw around your cardboard rings onto you hessian but don’t cut them out yet!

draw around template

Step three. You can start anywhere you like inside the rings you have drawn on your hessian. Crochet hook users – Push your crochet hook into a space in the weave, fold a strip of fabric in half, grab the middle of the loop with your hook and draw it back through the fabric, then pull HALF of the strip through so it looks like the red tufts in the photo below. Bodger botherers – The same technique really but you dont need to fold your strip you can just grab the end with your bodger and pull the strip through instead.Tuft one done! Skip 3 of 4 threads, push your hook through and repeat. Keep going until your wreath has reached your ideal festively fluffy fullness.

Step four. Leaving a wide margin of at least an inch, more if the size of your cardboard backing will allow, cut around the outer circle of the ring you drew on your hessian. Cut tabs around the outside edge. For the hole in the middle of the wreath, cut tabs (like the segments of a chocolate orange) from the middle of the hole back to the inner edge of the wreath.

tabs red wreath

Step five. Apply fabric glue to the back of the hessian and one of the cardboard rings and allow it to become tacky before carfeully sticking your newly tufted wreath to the cardboard backing making sure that you’ve lined up the edges as best you can. Fold the tabs to the back of the cardboard ring.

hanging loop

Step six. Cut a piece of fabric at least an inch wider than your remaining cardboard ring. Cut tabs into this piece of fabric in the same way you did to your hessain. Glue the fabric to the second ring, folding the tabs over to the back to create a clean edge.

Once both halves have dried, glue a loop of ribbon to one of the rings so that you can hang your finished wreath. I also added a string of red sequins to my green wreath at this stage to add a splash of colour and sparkle.

Finally stick the two rings together, hang you wreath up, stand back and admire your handy work!

These wreaths are so easy to make and have a neat, professional looking finish, and because they are so easy to personalise they make fantastic gifts too.

{How to} Make your own dry shampoo

Dry shampoo is your new best friend. Want to find out why? Read on…

What is it?

Put simply dry shampoo is a powder that you apply to the roots of your hair to soak up any excess oil. The powder can then be brushed out, taking the oils away with it, leaving hair not just looking cleaner but feeling fresher, with more body and letting you go longer between washes. Sounds good right? There’s more…

This magical wonder dust isn’t just a quick fix for when you haven’t got the time or energy for a shower in the morning, or any other time that washing your hair just isn’t practical! We all know that over washing with shampoo can strip your hair of natural oils, which in turn can mean that our scalp over compensates and makes even more oils to try to catch up. The result? We end up washing our hair more often, stripping yet more natural goodness from our hair and so the cycle continues. I have long, totally straight hair which I used to wash every single day, the roots would get greasy quickly but washing every day made the tips uber dry. Using dry shampoo has meant that I can now go three days between washes and my hair is definitely happier and more naturally shiny for it!

Of course you could go and buy a bottle of dry shampoo from the shops, and that stuff that comes in a aerosol can is great for when you want to style your hair BUT do you really want to be spraying all those chemicals onto your hair and into the atmosphere when there is such a cheap alternative that’s so simple to make?

Brush and bowl

So what’s in it?

Cornflour. Tutorial over, see you next week.

No wait come back!

It’s true that just plain ole cornflour would do the trick. But we aren’t plain ole people you and I are we? You only have to look online to see that there are as many different recipes for dry shampoo as there are people with different hair types. Like I say, my locks can get very dry at the tips so I steer clear of using ingredients like baking soda or clay in my mix but they might be just what you need. Start with the bare essentials, see how it suits you and then you can get creative.

So here are my two favourite dry shampoo recipes –

Scented cornflour recipe.

  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1 tbsp lavender buds or 3-5 drops of essential oil

Dry shampoo for dark hair.

  • 3tbsp cornflour
  • 1tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

You can tweak this ratio depending on how dark your hair is, just keep adding cocoa powder until you have the right shade to blend beautifully with those luscious brunette locks.

Dry shampoo for brunettes

It really is as simple as that.

I added lavender to my most recent batch of dry shampoo but you could add any skin safe scent you like. Rose petals work really well if you like that kind of thing, or you could use an essential oil that smells great and has anti-bacterial properties like thyme, nutmeg or cinnamon.

Stir it all together, put it in a shaker, or if you are keeping it in the bathroom then it’s a good idea to store it in an airtight jar, and the newest part of your grooming routine is ready.

How to apply it?

Lift the your hair in sections and sprinkle the powder onto the roots of your hair. (Less is more, and definitely don’t sprinkle the powder on top of your hair.) Work the powder well into your hair with your fingers and then let it sit for at least 2 mins so that it has a chance to work. Brush the dry shampoo out of your hair with a soft bristle brush and you are done.

I have tried sprinkling the mixture on with my fingers, shaking it into my roots from a shaker and brushing the dry shampoo on with a make-up brush. They all work!  The shaker lets you get a good amount into your roots for the first application. The make-up brush technique is perfect for touching up any spots that need some extra attention.

Brush ends

But Laura, why have you got two recipes?

It’s all down to the cocoa powder, because who doesn’t want their hair to smell like chocolate right? Well, actually…me! At first I hated it.  The first formula I tried was much heavier on the cocoa powder and the dark chocolately smell made me feel like my hair was more dirty. By mixing the cocoa powder 50/50 with the cornflour the smell is much less over powering and now I’m more used to it, it is great for dabbing on to more visible spots.

But that’s not really cleared to two recipe question up has it?! I use the scented cornflour shampoo over night. That’s why I chose lavender. I sprinkle in plenty of the dry shampoo before I get into bed, put my hair up and in the morning any whiteness left in my hair is much easier to brush away, leaving me looking much less like I am sporting a powdered wig.

Any hints and tips?

  • Don’t wait until your hair is overly greasy before applying your dry shampoo. Try and use it to stop the oils building up too much in the first place.
  • Don’t moisturise your hands before you do you hair in the morning! Wash and completely dry your hands so you don’t add extra unwanted oils to your hair.
  • Once you have styled your hair leave it alone! The more you touch it the more oils you are potentially adding.
  • One final anti-oil tactic – make sure your comb is clean too!

Let me know how you get on!

{Review} Creative Therapy Colouring Book

According to a news article I read the other day 4 of the top 10 best selling books on Amazon are adult colouring books. No, not adult colouring books (although I am sure there are plenty of those in print too), colouring books for grown-ups. I’m sure you already know what I am talking about, these books are springing up all over the place. I should know I got two for Christmas!

As a kid I used to love those colouring pads of tesselated shapes,and not just because they had perforated pages. They were highly addictive to colour in but they had a computer generated quality and there were only ever a handful of different designs in each book. The Creative Colouring Therapy book takes all those intricate repeated patterns to a whole new level turning them into some dazzlingly beautiful designs just begging to be coloured in.

You know what else having one of these books means? The perfect excuse to buy a new set of colouring pencils and fineliners. Alongisde the colouring books I was also given a fabulous new set of staedler fine line pens. This is where the adult colouring books really come into their own.

creative colouring with pens

You know when you were a kid and you’d got yourself all set up for the afternoon; streched out on the carpet, finally found your best felt tips (most of which you are pretty sure haven’t dried out yet), hardbacked book just about big enough to fit under your sheet, you start colouring…and the page disintergrates under your pen nib! Not so with the Creative Therapy Colouring book. Hardbacked and printed on perfectly smooth, white colouring pages thick enough to stop ink penetrating from one page to the next, this book is an absolute joy to colour in.

To be completely honest, I am not crazy about the title. But that’s a philosophical debate for another time, and if something so trivial as the title of the book is the only thing that I can find not to like then that tells you all you need to know!

There are so many different books to choose from on the market at the moment but it was the variety of beautiful designs in Creative Therapy Colouring and the hardback binding that really swung it for me.

ISBN 978-1-78243-300-2

Illustrated by Hannah Davies, Richard Merritt, Jo Taylor.

Published by Michael O’Mara Books Ltd