Category Archives: non-knitting crafts

Yes, you can dye acrylic yarn


The above link will take you to a video by the Frugal Crafter. This lady had the brainwave that she might be able to dye acrylic yarn with acrylic paint. And guess what…you can. It’s more like handpainting really, because the fibre is not actually absorbing the paint, but it seems to work. I had to try it.

So armed with a one pound ball of Red Heart Comfort (cream, from Walmart), I played the video again while winding off some yarn into hanks and getting out my old acrylic paints, which the kids haven’t used in years.

The first one, I used two greens and a blue, and they mostly mixed to form a pleasant uniform blue-green. The second was yellow and orange. The third, I got more creative, and used red, yellow, orange and brown in four quadrants, allowing them to blend where they touched but still keep them as individual colours. I think I succeeded and will know better when it’s dry.

I’ve left them to drip dry over my laundry tub and they’ll probably take a couple of days.

I only used about half the ball so once I see the results and how the yarn feels I will know whether to dye the rest.



Gift cards


I love making my own gift cards. Shop-bought ones are far too expensive and often I can’t find just the right one. In the past I’ve used watercolour paints to make abstract art on the Strathmore Creative Cards that I buy at Opus, the art store downtown.

Today I brought home a library book called Crochet Inspiration by Sasha Kagan and it was perfect timing. I used a crochet flower pattern from the book to adorn a card, held on with a sewn button and hot glue. A few green buttons and it was done. I also made a gift card to attach to the baby shower gift with a rainbow of buttons – as the receiving blankets and crochet newsboy cap are already in a bag, I don’t see the point in putting them in another bag with a lot of fancy tissue paper.

The purple splurge of colour in my photo is where I edited out the recipient’s name.



Baby shower gifts


I have a baby shower to go to on Sunday. The mum is another homeschooler, obviously way younger than I! She has a 12 year old boy and a 5 year old girl – don’t know what gender the third one is, so when I was at Fabricland yesterday I had to choose something unisex.

This fabric is so cute, yellow and orange elephants on a blue background, and for the drawstring bag I dug out some variegated sock yarn that fits perfectly for the crochet chain drawstring.

The fabric was 110 cm wide, and I bought 2.2 metres. That made three receiving blankets, about 32 inches square (you see how I seamlessly segued to imperial there), a double thick burp cloth, three 10 inch square cloths and a bag. I had no idea whether it would all fit in the bag but it does, and I’m so chuffed!





Beach quilt



This is my beach/park quilt, looking quite different from the original version. When I first made it, I used tonnes of scraps for nine patch squares and put them together fairly randomly. I had been quilting for six years and had a good variety of fabrics. It’s always been my favourite purely because of its scrappiness. (A little like my favourite knitted blanket, which was knitted from odds and ends in multiple colours.)

Over the years, the colours have faded drastically, but not only that, the fabric has worn out in places. Many places. I started hand sewing patches on last summer. Then I added machine sewn patches. It was put away for the winter but when it was time for parks and beaches again out it came. And so I have added more patches, even a couple of random ones – there is a tilted square and a freeform shape – though, in hindsight, I prefer to keep to the grid format.

It won’t be long before most of the squares will be new. The stitching is somewhat random too. I have used a handsewing needle, a walking foot and a darning foot, so some lines are straight, some are wavy or spirally. Not a professional job by any means but I look forward to many more years of enjoyment. And one day, it might end up being the filling for a new quilt, like the old days, or just a dog blanket, but it will have been loved.

A thread-a-bowl


I tried out a new craft this week. I thought it might be a new way to channel the creativity and the result is certainly pretty but not very practical.

I came across a book at the library called Incredible Thread-a-bowls by Wendy Hill. The cover shows some beautiful work – bowls made mostly from thread with optional fillers like fabric snips or yarn trimmings. I had to buy some water soluble stabiliser and acrylic finishing spray, but I had plenty of thread already. I also have the walking and darning feet for my sewing machine from my quilting days.

The step by step tutorial is simple to follow with lots of clear photos and I had a lot of fun “drawing” with thread. My photos below show some of the process. After sandwiching your fillers between two layers of stabiliser (I used thread and some butterflies cut from some fabric I have), you stitch in a grid with the walking foot and then in random patterns with the darning foot. You have to fill in quite well so that it holds together when done. I zigzagged around the edge too, though that’s not essential. Then you trim it back to the original size and shape (I made it an inch smaller actually, as I found that things shrunk after all that sewing), rinse out most of the stabiliser, mould it over the bowl, and leave to dry. Then spray to finish.

I had my doubts about it holding its shape as I was pressing it over the bottom of the bowl, but I guess there is enough stabiliser left in it to keep it relatively stiff.

As I say, it’s pretty, but I don’t think that I will be adopting this as my new favourite craft. Nowhere near as practical as knitting and crochet!








some other loves – books and fabric


I have a couple of photos to show you from my weekend but I just realised I don’t have a photo of my sock-in-progress. Yes, a sock! I haven’t made socks in ages but when I was in the Salvation Army thrift store the other day I found 120 grams of Berroco Comfort DK Sport, variegated in shades of red, yellow, blue, turquoise, orange and green. I am using 3.25mm dpns and am already halfway through the first sock. I’m having a lot of fun with that. And the pair will only have cost me $3.49.

Yesterday, I dropped in at Fabricland for fabric to patch my beach day quilt. I bought nine different fabrics, one metre of each, with the plan that I will cover any holes in the quilt top and also rebind the edges. My main criterion for choosing was price. I didn’t care what colour they were as long as they were bright and cheap! There are two butterfly fabrics, 3 fruity ones and 4 batiks. The butterfly ones were $5 a metre, the rest $7 a metre.

Today I was in Chapters to meet friends and after having tea I had to, of course, head over to look at all the knitting books. I usually look through lots but never buy. However on this occasion I found this: Cast on, Bind off – 54 Step by Step Methods, by Leslie Ann Bestor. Impulse buy of the day. ­čÖé Here are photos of the inside front and back covers so that you can see what is included.

I also have a beautiful new pair of earrings, given to me by my friend’s daughter. Do you like them?

And finally, me modelling my new apron. I love it. But wouldn’t you know it, I pulled over a jar of jam the other day by accident, it hit the floor, and even though I was practically covered from head to toe by my apron I still found blobs of jam on my T shirt, up near my left shoulder! I think that’s called Murphy’s Law.




sewing for a change


We had some friends over for dinner a few weeks ago and they were admiring my cloth napkins. I made about 35 of them out a pansy fabric some years ago so that we didn’t have to use paper towels at the dinner table any more. They still look good as new, with no staining. I offered to make my friend some napkins of her own – we could go to Fabricland and buy the fabric and I’d sew them up.

A few days ago, we did just that, and she chose a fruity fabric with strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries and raspberries on it. They had a whole load of different prints of various fruits and vegetables which would be fun to use for kitchen accessories or shopping bags and they were only $7 a metre.

I had 2 metres of fabric, so cut 18 twelve inch squares, which once hemmed made approximately 11 inch square napkins. There was ┬ástill a bit left over, so I made a cutlery roll for picnics – there are three of them in their family so I put in nine pockets – for 3 forks, 3 knives, 3 spoons. It was fun to be using my sewing machine again. I like how quickly things get finished compared to knitting!




pay-it-forward gift finished


I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning (yuck, but thankfully no cavities) and afterwards I went for a wander around Fabricland and bought some fabric (I already mentioned this yesterday, I realise) but the cool thing is that it’s covered in musical notes, treble clefs, and lots of other musical symbols that I can’t name. Very appropriate for the recipient of this gift (if her mum is reading this, she must not tell)!

I measured the Fair Isle bag and cut an 8.5 inch strip of fabric from which I then cut two pieces 9.5 inches long. The remaining piece from the strip inspired me to make a separate  bag with a crocheted chain for a drawstring.

I really enjoyed my time at the sewing machine tonight. It made a change from knitting. A bit of machine sewing, a little hand sewing, and two bags are all done. Below is the knitted bag, seen from the top.


miscellaneous update


The colour in this first photo is weird ….. and I know why. I realised later that my camera was still on the “Snow” setting! Anyhow, you can still appreciate the pretty batik snowflake fabric that I bought at Fabricland yesterday. This is a large shopping-style bag that I made to fill with seasonal treats for a family we know. I love making bags like this, they’re so easy.

This is an almost-finished scarf from the Lion Brand book, Just Scarves. It’s called Braided Branches. I’m using a double-strand of Bernat Softee Chunky. I started it Saturday at the cabin and it’s nearly done. I worked on it at the hospital yesterday (volunteer shift) and for two more hours at knit night. I might even finish it this evening.

This is the book I’m currently reading. I don’t read much fiction these days but I saw this on display at the library and had heard of it. It’s an excellent book. Highly recommended.

And finally, my Yule fruit cake is baked. (If this one disappears quickly, I might even get to make another one in a week or so.) It’s really easy. It’s vegan, of course, and the original recipe said that it doesn’t keep for long so it needs to be made fresh when you want to eat it. I love fruit cake. I thought I was the only one in the family who’d eat it, but WorldTraveller tells me he likes it too – darn it, I’ll have to share!

Tomorrow morning, I plan to make my usual gingerbread men cookies. The boys are having a friend over in the afternoon and it’s nice to be able to offer treats on such occasions.

Here’s the fruit cake recipe. It’s adapted from one of my vegetarian cookbooks. Whilst the original recipe is also vegan, I still have scribbled notes next to it where I’ve tweaked it. It’s a British book, so the weights and measures are in pounds and pints.

Dried fruit – 1.5 lbs (I use a mixture of sultanas/raisins/currants/cranberries)

Water or juice – 3/4 pint

Oil (or melted Earth Balance Buttery Spread) – 1/4 pint

Wholewheat flour – 12oz

Baking powder – 1 tblsp

Nuts – 2oz (I use chopped walnuts)

Molasses – 1 tblsp

Lemon, grated rind and juice of 1

Mixed spice – 2 tsp (I use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg)

Sugar – 3oz (use the good stuff, not white – I used organic date palm sugar)

Optional Sherry or Rum – 3 tblsp (I don’t use this)

Line a round cake tin with baking parchment. Seven and a half or eight inches diameter is best. Place all ingredients except alcohol in a bowl and mix well. Pour into prepared tin, level the top and bake at 300 degrees for two hours. Stick a knife in the middle to check it comes out (mostly) clean. Cool in the tin. Spoon the sherry or rum over the cake while it’s still warm.