Big news!

So you might have noticed I’ve been pretty quiet here recently, and that’s because I’ve been working away at a new venture that’ll be launching soon! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen the announcement already, that I’ll soon be launching my own range of hand spun vegan yarns!

Let me explain a little about how this came about: I had a partly lovely, but also partly disappointing trip to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival last month. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many talented and creative people, and the beautiful colours everywhere were wonderful, but I was really saddened by the almost total lack of yarn which didn’t come from animal fibres.

Now, I know that I have bought and knitted with animal fibres, because it didn’t really occur to me to do otherwise. Even when I thought of myself as vegan it just wasn’t something that occurred to me. But after some research I decided that I wasn’t going to buy any more wool products as it turns out it’s not always as harmless as “just a haircut”. But we live and learn, and so I was excited to start finding alternatives.

So off I went to EYF sure I would find something lovely to treat myself to. Sadly this turned out to not be the case. I only found 2 sellers who had linen yarn, and a chance conversation with the lovely Louise from Spin City led to me buying some gorgeous “fake cashmere” fibres to spin. One thing I will say is my husband is glad there wasn’t much for me to buy 😉

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(I also bought a needle gauge and some lovely buttons.)

So armed with my fibres and a drop spindle I set about making my first yarn:

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And it’s fair to say I definitely caught the bug! I started researching spinning wheels and fibres as an idea started brewing in the back of my mind…

If there aren’t really many sources of high end, hand spun, hand dyed yarns which are free from animal fibres, then I should start making them myself!

And this is the inspiration behind my new company: Flora Fibres 🙂

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I’m currently in the process of setting up my e-shop, with a view to opening in 2 weeks (14th May) all being well! And in the mean time I’m running a giveaway over on my Instagram page where one lucky crafter can win a gorgeous hank of yarn made 100% from fibres extracted from rose bushes. Yes, really!

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So it would mean a lot if you lovely bunch could pop over there and show me some love! And telling your friends about it would be pretty awesome too. Let’s spread some vegan yarny love!

Secret book safe

OK, so if you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen a sneaky preview of this project (along with a promise to get this post written last week, but, you know, life and stuff…) And here it is!

The idea for this actually came from an excellent book I bought big brother for Christmas, called “The Boys Book of Things To Make”.
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If you have a little boy I can highly recommend tracking down a copy of it, it’s fab! Full of fun craft projects and aimed at just the right level for kids to get involved with.

But this book safe isn’t only a good project for kids, it’s actually quite a good idea to have around the house. My husband is already planning on hiding things (credit cards, passports, etc) in it when we’re away. I might have to make another one for him to avoid arguments 😉

For this project you will need:

One large, hardback book
Craft knife
Ruler
PVA glue
Paintbrush

Open the book and flip passed the first few pages, the idea being that it’ll look like a regular book to a casual observer (this is hilarious if you’re 3 apparently!). Then with the ruler and craft knife you need to start cutting out the centre of the remaining pages. As a rough guide the outside edge of the text area is an ideal line to follow. You don’t want to cut too close to the edge of the pages otherwise your book safe won’t be strong enough to hold anything without buckling.

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You won’t be able to cut through all the pages in one go, so find something heavy to weigh down the cut pages after you’ve turned them.

This is the long part, especially if you’ve chosen a 600+ page book… 😉 So if you’re doing it with a little person, don’t be surprised if they lose interest a little at this point.

Don’t worry if your craft knife slips a little while you’re cutting, as long as it isn’t on the first page you won’t be able to see it when you’re finished.
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Continue until there are roughly 10 pages left at the end of the book. Then put down your craft knife and retrieve your small person for the next fun part 🙂

The final part of the project is to glue the cut pages together to create a solid box in which to hide your treasures. Pour a little of the PVA glue into a dish and water it down with slightly less than the same amount of water. Mix until you have a thinned glue mixture and paint it liberally onto the insides and outsides of the cut pages of your book.
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Place something non stick between the cut and glued pages and the first pages in the book (you don’t want them to stick together otherwise it defeats the purpose somewhat!). Close your book and weigh it down to dry, this will help the pages to stick.

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Meet our ferengi. He’s full of pennies so is nice and heavy for the job!

Leave overnight and repeat the gluing process if necessary. And now you have your very own secret hiding place!

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Personalised trinket dishes

Hands up: who’s not ready for Christmas yet? Not just me I hope!

If you’re still looking for an easy little present or stocking filler, here’s a very simple idea that doesn’t take long to do.

Personalised trinket dishes

You will need:

Porcelain dishes (or mugs/cups/plates)
Porcelain pen
An idea of something to doodle!

I would recommend using a proper porcelain pen and not just a marker, as it will mean your finished piece can safely be washed without your design coming off. I bought mine at hobbycraft. This one can (apparently, I’ve not tested it yet!) even be put through the dishwasher at up to 50°!

Then comes the fun part: drawing on your design!

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I’ve gone for simple repeating patterns to keep it easy to decorate, but you could go as complex or personalised as you like. For example: write a word, name or phrase; draw a more complex picture; a significant date or location. Really, you’re only limited by your imagination!

It’s also good to know that until the ink is fully dry and set, you can still wash off your design and start again if you’re not happy *phew* 😉

Then just follow the instructions on your marker. I’ve got to leave mine to dry for 4 hours, bake for 30 minutes at 160° before leaving them to cool completely in the oven.

I’ve got some cups and saucers I’ve been meaning to decorate for myself for ages. Maybe once the Christmas craziness is over I’ll have a chance to do it!

Happy crafting! 🙂

Simple crocheted Santa hat (with free pattern!)

Eeee! It’s December! I’m so excited for Christmas this year! With big brother being 3 1/2 now he’s getting excited and I’m really looking forward to making it magical for him 🙂 Little brother obviously still has no idea what’s going on but he’s enjoying looking at the Christmas tree and all our decorations.

Speaking of little brother, I really can’t believe he’s going to be 1 in only 11 days! My little baby is nearly a proper toddler, this has been a very quick year!

But anyway, back to Christmas:

I’ve made a couple of new things so far this year. First of all I made a felt advent calendar which I’m very pleased with, and which big brother is really enjoying every morning:

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The next thing I whipped up was this very quick and easy crocheted Santa hat:

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It was made entirely on a whim and with leftover yarn in my stash. But I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, and, even better, big brother loves it and proudly tells everyone that I made it for him 🙂

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As you can see from the photo it is a little bit on the big side, so if you wish to make it smaller then start with ch 88 white then skip the row 2 of the red instructions so that the first ‘sk next tr’ comes after 21 stitches, not 22. Likewise if you wish to make it bigger then ch 96 and add an extra row with the ‘sk next tr’ decrease after 23 stitches.

I hope that makes sense! Actually, I hope this whole pattern makers sense, I’ve never written a crochet pattern before, or even followed one for that matter! So if anyone has any (constructive!) criticism about my instructions please let me know 🙂

Simple Crocheted Santa Hat

Materials:
Red and white dk weight yarn, approximately 40g of red and 20g of white.
3.5mm crochet hook
Wool needle
Pom pom made from the same white yarn as the band.

White band
Row 1: ch 92 then join chain into a circle with a sl st into 1st stitch.
Row 2: ch 2, 91 dc in every remaining ch, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 3-7: ch 2, 91 dc in front lp of each previous row dc, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2, fasten off.

Red hat
Row 1: change to red yarn, make a slip knot, sl st into back lp of last white dc, ch 1, tr 91 in back lp of each dc of last white row, join in beg ch-1.
Row 2: ch 2, (tr 21, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 21, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 3: ch 2, (tr 20, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 20, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 4: ch 2, (tr 19, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 19, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 5: ch 2, (tr 18, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 18, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 6: ch 2, (tr 17, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 17, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 7: ch 2, (tr 16, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 16, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 8: ch 2, (tr 15, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 15, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 9: ch 2, (tr 14, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 14, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 10: ch 2, (tr 13, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 13, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 11: ch 2, (tr 12, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 12, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 12: ch 2, (tr 11, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 11, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 13: ch 2, (tr 10, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 10, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 14: ch 2, (tr 9, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 9, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 15: ch 2, (tr 8, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 8, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 16: ch 2, (tr 7, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 7, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 15: ch 2, (tr 6, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 6, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 16: ch 2, (tr 5, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 5, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 17: ch 2, (tr 4, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 4, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 18: ch 2, (tr 3, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 3, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 19: ch 2, (tr 2, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 2, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 20: ch 2, (tr 1, sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, tr 1, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2.
Row 21: ch 2, (sk next tr, tr in next tr) 3 times, join in 2nd chain of beg ch-2, fasten off.

Finish by sewing in the ends and attaching a pom pom on the top. Then wear and spread Christmas cheer! 🙂

Tutorial: yarn wrapped wreath

I love handmade Christmas decorations. I think it’s so nice to have unique and individual looking homes at Christmas time, not just straight from the shop. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for shop bought too, but I love to see some homemade bits in the mix.

Last year I made us all new Christmas stockings:

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(get the free pattern and tutorial here). I also made some festive bunting which I don’t think I showed you, but as it went up yesterday I can show you now!

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My first new addition this year is a yarn wrapped wreath for our living room door. I chose a dark blue and a sparkly white acrylic yarn, nothing expensive, to match our color scheme.

You will need:
Yarn
Empty cereal box
Bubble wrap
Tape
Yarn sewing needle

To start with I opened out an empty cereal box and drew 2 concentric circles on it. I made the hoop about 5cm/2″ wide and made the outer circle as large as my box would allow. You can make your hoop any size you like, I’m thinking of doing a mini one for young sir’s wardrobe door, and the technique is exactly the same. Don’t worry if your hoop goes over a bend in the box. It’ll all be stiffened up as we go on.

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I didn’t want my wreath to be too 2 dimensional, but I also don’t have hours to spend on wrapping the yarn. So I cheated! I bulked up my hoop using strips of bubble wrap, about 7/8cm wide, wrapped round the cardboard. Start by taping one end of a piece of the bubble wrap to the hoop, then start to wrap it around. Depending how much you want to bulk up your wreath will depend how much of an overlap you use. I left about 1.5cm between edges.

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Continue wrapping until the whole hoop is evenly covered, taping the ends of each piece in place.

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Now it’s time to start wrapping the yarn. My hoop is big enough to pass the whole ball of yarn through, but if you’re making a small wreath then you’ll have to cut lengths of yarn to wrap.

Simply wrap the yarn round and round on top of the bubble wrap, but not too tight or it defeats the purpose of bulking up the hoop! You’ll need the yarn to be at least 3 passes deep to give a nice full look. Just wrap:

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And wrap!

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I decided to have a 2 colour wreath, with blue covering 3/4 of the surface and the sparkly white on the top 1/4. So once I was happy with the amount of blue on my wreath I switched yarns and continued to wrap:

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Until the whole surface was covered. I also added some white crosses onto the blue section, which I simply did by wrapping at an angle from one end of the blue to the other end, then back again. Once you’re finished wrapping, use your wool needle to tuck the ends away under the rest of the layers, and your wreath is complete!

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You can add extra touches to it or leave it as is, depending on the look you want to go for. I was undecided between one big pompom in the centre and three small ones hanging from the bottom. In the end I chose to make one large pompom to hang in the centre of my wreath. To make it I wrapped my yarn 200 times round the top of a pint glass, which gives a large, floppy pompom. Then tied it round the centre, cut open the loops and trimmed it all to the same length.

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Some other ideas for finishing touches: you could hang ribbons from the bottom, a bauble in the centre, or even make a dreamcatcher style wreath with a yarny snowflake in the centre.

To hang my wreath I made a very simple twisted string using lengths of my two colours of yarn. Ta da!

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A simple way to make a wreath, which is easy to customise and will last year after year 🙂

IKEA Bargains!

Oh my goodness, is anyone else in love with the IKEA bargain corner? If you’ve never visited it I can highly recommend taking a peep the next time you’re there, in my local store it’s located in a corner beside the checkouts.

A lot of what you’ll find there is damaged, but if you have the time for a rummage, and you look at the potential in an object, not necessarily it’s original function, then your creative side will be as happy as mine is! Today I found these two beauties:

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The white one is supposed to be a glass door for a bookcase, and I’ve no idea what the little wooden thing is supposed to be! But for a total cost of £1.30 I thought I’d have some fun and give them a new and different purpose!

I’m currently thinking that I’ll use the wooden piece as a little shelf on my craft table to give me extra storage space. So I’ll need to find something to raise it up on.

And the door will become a picture frame for above our bed. I just need to decide what will go in it and buy some heavy duty picture wire as it is quite heavy.

So when I get my projects done, I’ll let you know! And hopefully it will inspire you to see the possibilities in the random things you find 🙂

Storage Pot

Do you remember the craft storage I made/repurposed last week? Well I decided it could use a storage pot that I could hang from the second hook at the bottom, for storing things like pens, brushes, scissors, etc. And to continue with the theme of reusing/transforming existing objects I decided to make my own!

For this project I decided that an empty food tin would suit my needs perfectly, especially as there are always some empty ones kicking about, waiting for recycling day.

I started by thoroughly washing out the tin, soaking off the label and removing all the sticky residue. As I was going to paint the tin, it was important that all the residue came off, otherwise the paint wouldn’t properly adhere to the surface.

The paint I used was Homebase’s own brand ‘Duracoat’ which is suitable for using on metal. I have several tester pots of different shades of this paint left over from when we decorated our house last year. I chose a light shade of just off white for the base layer.

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The tin required several layers of paint to give an even finish, so I gave it 3 thin layers. If you know you’re going to need to do a few layers of paint it’s generally always better to make the layers thinner, that way there’s much less chance of drips and blobs! And always give the paint plenty of time to dry in between applying the different layers.

Once the final layer was dry it was time to decide how to decorate the tin! I went for dots of colour, inspired by this dinner set that Tesco currently have, which I quite like:

And as I have a cupboard full of tester pots I just used a few of them to paint my tin. I didn’t have a specific plan for where the dots should be, I just went with what looked right. In the end I did about 5 spots in each of 5 colours, and my little pot looked like this:

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To make sure the paint doesn’t get scratched or chipped when the pot is in use I then had to seal it. This can easily be done by applying a thin layer of PVA glue to the whole surface of the tin, and will help to strengthen it nicely. I applied the glue using a paintbrush to make sure it had an even layer all over.

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Once the glue finally dried (it felt like it took ages!) it was time to put 2 holes in the top to hang it from. To make the holes I laid the tin on its side on top of a tea towel. This was to deaden the vibrations a little when the hammering started! I took the fattest nail I could find and hammered it until it was fully through the wall of the tin, and gave it a good wiggle to pull it out again, then I repeated the same on the other side of the tin. Just make sure if you do this to watch out for the sharp pieces of metal that this leaves on the inside of the tin – don’t run your fingers over the inside of the hole and cut yourself!

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I then took a piece of thin ribbon (which used to be a hanging loop for some piece of clothing) and poked it through the holes from the outside, knotted it on the inside and my storage tin was complete!

Here it is, complete with a few contents, hanging from my craft organiser. Job done!

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Note: As I mentioned my pot is hung using an old clothes hanging loop. A few years ago I came to the realisation that all the loops on my clothes were not necessary as on 99% of my clothes I never used them: I’m a folder not a hanger! So I started cutting them off and keeping them and you would be surprised how often a short piece of thin ribbon has been just the thing I’ve needed. Honestly, give it a go!