Monthly Archives: August 2011

Adventures in Garage Saleing

Bob's harrow
This looks like hard work to me.

Lynne: Loryn and Kristin have already written about the great Saturday we had garage saleing together, so I thought I would add some comments to theirs. It is unusual that we are all together and still have enough time to spend on a morning of garage sales. It’s really an immense amount of fun, although we have to account for the space two more people occupy and buy accordingly.

I have been looking for the past two years for a harrow for my brother. I have sent him endless photos on my cell phone of seeders and harrows and other things with interesting parts but no specific name. All of which were busts.

Cheri and I were talking Saturday morning about some of the finds we had made and I mentioned that Bob’s harrow was being extremely elusive. I told her that I may have to give up that find. One garage sale later, I stared in disbelief at a harrow. I know that it is probably coincidence, but it is not hard to believe that some spirit of garage sales has aligned my wants with the items in a sale.

If you look at Loryn’s and Kristin’s post, you will see that the Subaru was full to the brim and the harrow was not something Cheri and I wanted to put on our laps in the back seat. Kristin is ever prepared and had bungee cords to strap the harrow to the roof carrier. It did make a weird whining sound on the way home, but it was safe and sound and is tucked in the garage. (Bob, if you’re reading this it’s still in the garage.)

That was my find of the week and is another notch in our tally book of garage sales. Good hunting out there and may all your notches be as satisfying.

Lynne: I was looking at the blogs I have subscribed to and came across this new addition to Teri Partridge’s blog. I like how sure she is about placing the lines of the drawing. I’m still using scribbles to place the first lines. Anyhow, check out her video for Watercolor Whimsey part A. I can’t wait to see the rest.


Daily Squiggle

Cat squiggle
Loryn's scribble to Lynne's squiggle.

I was going along gangbusters with my scribbles until Teri Partridge mentioned to me that I could be stuck in a rut. She suggested that I have others do a scribble for me and then I would turn their scribble into a squiggle. Art teachers…all teachers…can never leave you alone. Something about growth, I believe.

Here is the drawing that resulted from a scribble by Loryn. It’s funny but these are not as easy to do as my own. It’s hard to believe that a scribble is so distinctive to its owner, but I have found that the squiggle can even look like the person who drew the scribble. Go figure. Isn’t the human brain wonderful.


Recycled Cashmere Yarn

Miniature knitted teddy bear

Loryn: All of the Crafty Sisters love being thrifty, and it’s hard to beat the cost of recycled yarn. I pick up wool and cashmere sweaters at garage sales and thrift stores for a few dollars, and with a little work, I have beautiful and very inexpensive yarn. The little guy pictured above was made with recycled cashmere yarn from a fine gauge sweater. He is a miniature, knit at about 10 stitches per inch. The pattern came from The Knitted Teddy Bear, and the original is about 13″ tall. My version is about four inches tall, knit on 00 knitting pins. I hand dyed the yarn for his scarf. Cashmere takes kool-aid and food coloring dyes beautifully, and I’m working on another hand dyed, recycled cashmere project right now.

beige cashmere sweater

This is a Lands End cashmere sweater that I picked up for about $5 at Goodwill. When you’re looking for sweaters, look for high quality sweaters. Inexpensive cashmere will easily break, and very cheap sweaters will be cut rather than knit into shape (“fully fashioned”). You don’t want the ones that have been cut from a large piece of knit fabric, because you can’t unravel the pieces as one piece of yarn. It is also nice to find sweaters that are assembled with a chain stitch, which is easy to pull out. Once you have disassembled your sweater, you’re ready to start unraveling it.

Swift and ball winder

The easiest way to unravel a sweater is to use a swift. Here, you can see mine. They are not cheap, but are well worth it if you use a lot of recycled yarn, or buy a lot of yarn in skeins. When I first started out, I would unravel the yarn and wrap it around an 18″ piece of cardboard, so I could count my yards. The swift is nice because it does the unraveling for you. Just hold onto the sweater and spin the swift! Of course, you may enjoy pulling the knitting apart. Kristin sure does—she spent her childhood pulling my knitting projects apart every time I set them down!

Here you can see the yarn part way unraveled. The pink tie is there so I can count the number of turns (and thus keep track of yardage).

When you take the completed yarn off the swift, it looks like this. It’s easy to straighten back out by wetting and weighting it. But first, I plan to hand dye these two skeins.

A  lot of dyes are toxic, or use toxic mordants even if the dyes themselves are natural. These aren’t the kind of substances you want to use in your kitchen, especially around kids or pets. Luckily, you can dye protein fibers like wool and cashmere with kool-aid or food coloring. I’ve tried both with great results. Kool-aid dyes are more limited in color, and leave your yarn smelling fruity, so I prefer Wilton icing dyes. They come in a wide range of colors, and a little goes a long way. For this project, I’m using Royal Blue and Violet.

There are a lot of great tutorials on the web for dyeing with food coloring. I used both this tutorial from PieKnits (though I did not bother to use a thermometer. I just winged it and it came out great), as well as this YouTube video from Chemknits. Both were very helpful.

When my yarn was dyed, I stretched it in the tub to remove most of the kinks.

Here, you can see my highly scientific method! Just hook the yarn over shower rings and put a heavy bottle on the bottom. If you’re not hand dyeing your yarn, just skip to this step.

Once dry (and make sure it is very dry), it is ready to wind into a ball.

Here, I’m just getting started winding it onto the ballwinder. You can do this step with someone’s arms and just wind the yarn into a ball. I like the winder because it makes my thrifty recycled yarn look very expensive and fancy.

Speaking of, here is the finished product:

I love the color variation you get from hand dyeing! Here is a close up:

Cashmere yarn can be in the budget of the thriftiest knitter! I’ve even found a few worsted-weight cashmere sweaters at the thrift store, so keep an eye out! I only unraveled the sleeves, for a total of 640 yards of lace-weight yarn. Now it’s ready to knit!


Finished Objects! Paisley Bag

Loryn: I have a finished object! This is the first one from my Unfinished Projects post. Last week, it looked like this:

I sewed up the bottom of both the bag and the lining first:

Then I made the small pieces that attach the hardware to the body of the bag, and sewed them to the top of the bag:

The next step was to sew the lining in with the right sides together. I leave an opening in the bottom of the lining so I can turn the bag right side out. With a row of topstitching around the top, it was ready for handles.

The handles are doubled, so I ironed them into a bias tape shape, threaded them through the rings, and sewed the ends together. I then did the edgestiching. It was a little trickier, but it prevented two of my sewing pet peeves. One, I didn’t want a bulky spot from sewing two four-layer, edgestitched ends together. Two, I hate turning tubes. I have a nifty bodkin, and I’ve read scores of tips in Threads, but I still end up with frayed pieces of fabric and even more frayed nerves. So, I cheat, and just fold the edges in on one side. If you stitch carefully, no one will ever notice. Here is one of my cheater pieces:

And here are the finished handles:

I love my new bag! I’m making up a small wristlet to carry with it, and I’ll post that in a few days. One unfinished project finished!


Crafty Pet Pics — Munch

Munch, a Siamese mix cat

Loryn: My glamour cat, Munchkin, was willing to pose for me the other day. She was abandoned at three weeks old, and when I got her a few days later, she was still so small that she could run over my bathroom scale without moving the needle. She was supposed to have a fancier name, but Munch is what stuck. She’s now 13.

Like many divas, she is temperamental and high strung. She was separated from her mother much too young, so she doesn’t really know she’s a cat. I am the only person allowed to touch her (and not always even then). My family calls her “The Cat Trap,” because she was roll on her back invitingly, and sink all claws and teeth into the brave soul who tries to rub her belly.

The first time my husband met her, he picked her up. I waited breathlessly, but she didn’t even hiss at him. He’s the only other person besides me who can pet her. I guess she was sending me a signal that he was the right guy!

Crafts from the Past: Temari

There is this marvelous Japanese art form called Temari. These are decorative balls made of thread (although I have seen them made with metal, wire, and many other materials) that vary from incredibly simplistic to extremely ornate. I never really got past the intermediate phase, but some of the examples I have seen make me wish I still had time to make these lovely creations.

Temari ball in chrysanthemum pattern with long tassel.

The above temari is one I made for an exchange with another member of the TemariKai group. This website is chock full of all sorts of information about temari; how to make them, people who make them, books, examples, and so much more. It is well worth looking at just to view the photos.

From what I learned, the origin of the craft was a ball traditionally made by mothers for their children from old kimono thread. From there, the craft burgeoned to the art it is now. I made them for several years and most of mine started with a thread ball made of stuffing material that you then wrapped miles and miles of thread around until you had a round ball (this takes a lot of practice to get the ball to come out round and tight). Next you mark your center and your guideline threads. Then you begin your pattern. I used DMC thread for the most part to make my patterns and most of mine are in flower formations. My guidelines were usually metallic threads. I made some with tassels, but most without. I also made some with a styrofoam core that I hollowed out and inserted bells.

Large temari mobile.

This was a mobile of tiny temari (at most 1 1/2″ in diameter) that I made for Lynne (my mom). I have always loved making mobiles and this art form seemed to just scream at me “Make me into a mobile!” The photo below is a smaller mobile I made for Loryn (my sister).

Small temari mobile.

Double temari.

Set of matching ribbon temari.

Orange star temari.

These are just some examples of temari I made. I made them for most of the family and I still laugh to see them. I made so many that I have forgotten what they look like and who I gave them to. It makes it loads of fun to see the products of my creativity from what feels like new eyes and gives me a whole new perspective on what I consider good, successful work.