30 June, 2011

June 2011 Favourite Photo

DAD has been away for quite a while
and is finally back with us this month!
First reactions ~ Maroochy Airport.
My Man with his 2 happy boys.
Super Exciting!
One single photo was not enough to record this event!

"A favourite snapshot ~ of our lives. 
From this month.
This moment is forever preserved.
To be remembered always. "

28 June, 2011

Dyeing wool felt with home food colouring dyes

So, continuing on my all things felt theme. 

Today I thought I would update you with my dyeing felt efforts. I bought a woollen cream blanket that I have 'fulled' into felt (more on fulling here) and have cut into 8 large pieces. 
I have two things to report. 
1: I have tried to dye some of it with many of the beautiful bright flowers growing in our garden right now. I didn't do any research as to how & not so surprisingly, I didn't get the result I had hoped for!
2: Another idea came to me, instead of using expensive, often heavy metal dyes - I would try the food safe home food colouring dye available in supermarkets. They cost me .99c each colour and worked a treat. The vinegar cost me about A$2 for 2litres.

1. The 'dyeing wool felt with flowers' Experiment.

One of our beautiful flowers.
Natural food colouring dyes,
I thought to add a hint of backing colour.
Flowers spaced out over felt.
Felt rolled with the flowers inside, and tied with a natural string (ie No Colour)
I placed the roll on a bamboo steamer just above the dye water in the saucepan. Lid on.
Unrolled, after steaming.
The end result.
The hint of purple colour is the result of the flowers.
The separated reds & yellow are from the food dye.

1. The 
'dyeing wool felt with food colouring dye'
Experiment.

Ingredients used.
 I had 3 cups, each filled with half vinegar and half hot water.
A different dye was added to each cup and stirred.
Blank Canvas.
Wool felt cut from fulled cream blanket and the 3 dye cups.
Once I had finished splashing about, I heat set them by a) drying each piece completely in the sun, then b) ironing each piece on a wool setting. Then rinsed in cold water.  NO dye leaked at all.
Drying in the sun after rinsed in cold water.
I am very pleased with these results. I have made a few more (seen in the photo at the top). Trying different methods like boiling in a saucepan. My only disappointment is that I seem to keep being heavy handed with the amount of food colouring dye and the colours are very strong and bright. I would like to achieve more earthy colours and perhaps some paler ones looking a little more natural. It's all a (very addictive) learning curve.
I have no choice, I must head back to the op-shops in search of more cream blankets!

26 June, 2011

Making Simple Felt Treasure Bags with children

 At our school craft group this week, we made felt Treasure Bags with the children.
I hadn't realised they could be quite this simple.

I thought I would note down how to do it for those that may want to try some basic hand sewing, find a simple no mess activity to do with the kids, or as an idea for birthday parties (either the doing or as an end of party gift).

 Draw a circle around a round item and cut the circle out using sharp scissors (this is an adult part for some) 

Thread a needle with cotton or yarn (a little more difficult to pull through). Pull both ends of thread to even length and knot them together at the bottom (a handy trick to avoid losing the thread out of the needle). You will now have a double strand of yarn.

Sew all around the edge using gathering stitch. (Imagine a dolphin swimming in a straight line, diving in and out of the water...up and down, up and down... the dolphin is your needle)

Finish on the same side of the felt that you started. 
Tie a knot once the sewing is complete and trim most of the ends away.

Here, the treasure of choice at the moment is generally always a crystal. 
This treasure bag was made as a gift, with a certain friend in mind.

Finally, pull the thread gently and tightly to close the treasure bag.
Aren't they sweet?

You may notice there is a theme in our treasure bag colours? We decided to decorate our barren Seasons Tree with them. 
Also, there are 'winter leaves'. These are pieces of paper cut with scissors into shapes, and a hole made with a hole punch for hanging. The paper thoughtfully has sprinkles of glitter for frost drops. Very wintery.

Stay Warm

24 June, 2011

Fulling (Making Felt) from thrifted wool jumpers & wool blankets

I'm all for a bargain!
I just love wool felt, but I find I don't always have spare money available when I need to buy some. Op-shops (thrift / second-hand stores) I find more affordable to readily buy from and I'm always on the look out for 100% wool knitted clothing and blankets.

I have recently been lucky. Finding all of these pictured jumpers in one shop, costing a total of A$22! 


To felt or full a knitted item, preferably a few at a time, I do the following:
1. Remove any seams, tags or stitching from the item with sharp scissors.
2. Soak the item in cold water, in a bucket or sink, for 15-30mins.
3. Squeeze out the cold water, ring dry with my hands.
4. Plunge the item in the hottest water I can. I add some dishwashing detergent too and, wearing a glove, agitate it regularly. 
5. Once that water has cooled I ring out the water from the item again and then put it in the washing machine in a pillow case (to save my filter from the resultant fluff).
6. I set my machine to it's hottest setting and omit the rinse and spin cycles.
7. Once the machine has finished, I have to squeeze the excess water out and then hang the felted item on the washing line.
*If the item has started felting, but not completely, I will shock it with cold water (step2-3) and then repeat step 5-7. If it is still not felted / fulled by this time, it probably isn't going to.


One find was a blanket, that cost A$4, but had several holes in it. No matter! I have now cut it up into blue, white, pink, orange and yellow squares. Big enough to make all manner of smaller things.


Some of the jumpers I fulled, worked, some didn't. I found the 100% cashmere was a complete failure. The softer lambswool also took a very long time to felt.
Both I believe simply to do with the smoother fibre. Course, sheep wool has more barbs to knit together, resulting in a thicker, tighter felt.



Both of these jumpers worked very well. My mind is ticking as to what to create with that pocket I left attached!

 I also left this wonderful embellishment on the yellow jumper, hoping it would result in something wonderful once I had the finished product. But unfortunately the colour became quite washed out and matted looking. The result of intense heat & friction on the crochet cotton I should think.





 

22 June, 2011

Warming: Homemade Butter Biscuit Recipe with 'new' biscuit press!

Happy Winter Solstice!


Yes, at our house it is now officially winter.
Much to my eldest ~Mr Turtle's~ delight (He's been acknowledging the cold nights and change in scenery, all this month).

As we're staying indoors a little more and enjoying comfort food, I was grateful and ever so pleased to finally find a vintage Biscuit Press (or Cookie Spritz / Forcer) at one of our local Op Shops (second-hand / thrift store).




The boys were very happy too, as you can see. 
I've been trying to convince them that this is Mama's Toy, but they're having none of that!


So, after doing quite a bit of reading online, I discovered the best biscuit recipes result in a firm biscuit dough (cookie dough). 
This recipe worked a treat (it is very much like a shortbread recipe, which would work too)


Homemade Butter Biscuits - smallish batch
(I choose all organic ingredients where I can)

3T icing sugar
85g butter
75g wholeweat Self Raising flour
30g cornflour (corn starch)
1t vanilla

Cream the sugar and butter in a food processor. Mix the vanilla through thoroughly and then quickly beat in the flours until you have a fairly stiff dough.
Place handfuls of the dough into the biscuit press.
Press onto a biscuit tray with pressure and then lift the resultant formed biscuit shape onto a non-stick surface.
Bake in a moderate oven for about 10 mins.
Let them cool on the tray.

We discovered through trial and error, with our press, once the dough is pushed through the mold, it needs to attach to a surface it will stick to (non-stick surface is less likely to work).


They lasted a couple of days in an airtight container. They were all eaten by then!
Stay warm, indulge and enjoy these crisp days.

20 June, 2011

How to use a Sewing Machine to sew a unique birthday card

I am not able to take all the credit on this one.
I borrowed the idea and have had it stored away in my brain, since my wonderfully creative friend did something similar a couple of years back.

(Helly really is talented. See this post for some of her Henna Mehndi work. Or visit her Etsy store for some examples of her jewellery and her own clothing line. She also has a Facebook page too. Phew!)

 Now for the unique birthday card: Start with funky fabric, a piece of corresponding coloured cardboard to write on (green with curved edges for me) and a thick piece of cardboard to place in the centre, so it all holds together nicely.

  The piece of cardboard being placed within the fabirc, should be cut to size and the funky fabric fitted around it. Cut the fabric so that it will cover the piece of cardboard on both front & back.
Then I snipped out all four corners (like when covering a book or binder with contact).

  I pasted the edges down with glue on all four sides.

  Using the glue again, I centred the green cardboard onto the outside.
Now we're ready to sew without everything moving about.

 I began by sewing with a straight stitch around the green cardboard. I used a contrast cotton to make a border that worked well with the fabric colours.
I then sewed with zigzag stitch around the edges to keep all in place.

 This is the reverse of the card. The contrast thread not showing up on this side. It looks all neat and tidy.

 And here, the final product. Ready to write the message on the card, to my Sister, love from us all.

(as an aside ~ I wouldn't have thought of creating one of these for a male, but I stand corrected! Her husband was quite impressed with how it turned out, especially the fabric)

Happy birthday Gorgeous Lady

18 June, 2011

Snack Box Surprise ~ nurture notes for your loved ones

As I was just about to head out of the door to go and collect my gorgeous boys from school this week, I thought I might take a photo of my little LOVE notes before I left.

I usually take a snack or snack box of some sort with me, for the boys to eat driving home after school. However, adding a note or picture only occurs on rare occasions, which is what makes it a surprise!
(I have been known to pop them into My Man's work bag on occasion too)

Of course, all very simple really, but often those little reminders just might make someone's day.
The thought of their reaction is worth those extra few minutes of preparation time, for me.
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