The Soft Chevron Crochet Blanket

Oh me, oh my, what an epic project this turned out to be.

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Late winter of 2014 my parents made the final decision that Bendigo was to be their next ‘home town’. With that came a whole lot of craziness associated with selling the family home & moving 3 hours ‘up the road’.

In my down time (which wasn’t a lot seeing as this took me 6 months to complete) I decided to relax by crocheting a blanket for my Dad.

The blanket is completely made from Bendigo Woollen Mills ‘Luxury’ 10 ply yarn. I chose the yarn as I wanted Dad’s blanket to be as local to the area they were moving to as possible. Plus, I love everything the Bendigo Woollen Mills produces. I am particularly excited about their latest release and the colours. I need to keep reminding myself I have an epic stash of wool that is earmarked for a myriad of projects, so I don’t need it. Then my evil twin mentions the fact that ‘really, what is one more ball of wool when it’s so pretty’….argh, the dilemma haha.

Ok, so back to this blanket. It ended up being pretty big but I love it. I used this CrochetHooksYou tutorial and just adjusted it to the width I wanted then just decided to do 15 rows of each of the 7 colours I had. To finish it off I just did a single crochet border & I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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Hopefully this blanket will keep my Dad’s skinny little legs warm this coming Bendigo winter & for many more winters.

MacroBoy & I are heading up to Bendigo tomorrow so I will finally get to give the final product to Dad. Hope he likes it!

I’m already on to my next project, I spotted this blanket on Pinterest by Rescued Paw Designs & at the start of the year I snapped up some super cheap wool on clearance at Spotlight in pretty much the same colours, so I am already making good progress on a blanket for MacroBoy.

I am sure to be back in a couple of weeks with an update of sorts. Until then, happy crafting!

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Sugar Skulls Anyone?

Another quiet weekend that has turned into a super productive two days.

I started my weekend with an early rise & a workout, then I headed off to my monthly acupuncture session. By the time all of that was done it wasn’t even 10am, so off we headed to do our weekly grocery shop & then settled in for a relaxing afternoon.

This morning we had our usual Sunday morning pancakes & tea, then headed into the garage to do some serious sorting & culling. The result is another 60 items ready for donation on Thursday plus another 43 items thrown out. So that brings my total donation/throw out number to 190 (my goal was 200…so close!!). Not bad for mid-February, the only issue is, there really is not a lot at all left to get rid of around the house, so I’m not entirely sure where the other 175 items are going to come from throughout the rest of the year.

After a morning tea break I headed into the sewing room & knocked out a couple of gifts for another amazing colleague, who also happens to be a friend. My friend is a real girly girl, however she also loves horror films & all things skulls. So when I stumbled upon some sugar skull fabric during my Boxing Day sale shopping, I just had to pick some up.

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In addition to the sugar skulls, I also picked up some other fabric with some skulls, flowers & Americana due to my friends recent travels to the US.

A lunch bag type arrangement was requested & because I can, I added another zipper pouch to the gift.

I am really happy with how they both turned out, sweet & a little quirky, just like the gift recipient.

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Have a fab week peeps! It’s another crazy busy one for me but I guess it keeps me out of trouble!

A My Little Pony Project

We have been lucky enough to have a very quiet weekend, so after an amazing breakfast date on Saturday morning, I got stuck into a little project for a young friend.

A beloved colleague & friend asked if I would make a zipper pouch & drawstring bag for his daughter, and when the fabric was already purchased and ready to go, well, how could I say no!?!

It wasn’t a stress free project, I made an incorrect cut on the lining fabric of the drawstring bag, so some emergency repairs ensued, which proved challenging due to the zig-zag nature of the pattern, but hey, it kept the afternoon interesting haha.

I also really struggled with inserting the zip into the zipper pouch. I’m definitely no expert when it comes to zips, with this being my 3rd ever zip installation, however, the others seemed easier.

Overall I’m pretty happy with how they turned out, so fingers crossed the person who they have been made for is also happy with the final product.

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I decided to style my makes with home grown roses, we seem to be getting a final flush in the front garden before the Autumn weather starts to creep in (which I’m not going to lie, I am super excited about hehe).

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I’m also a bit over the warm weather as 2015 is my year of looking after my health, which involves a lot of working out & this is just a little bit more pleasant when the weather is cool. I’m a bit shy when it comes to talking about stuff like this, but perhaps in a few months, if I feel I’ve found a good recipe for success & balance, then I will share how I’m trying to improve my overall well-being.

Upcoming projects include another tote bag for a special someone. This time with black & white chevron & chocolate suede, I’m scared & excited at the same time. Will post when it is done!

Hope you all have a fab week. Mine involves 10 pin bowling, hopefully a stay at a fancy city hotel, lots of working out & eating clean, along with a few treat meals and LOTS of talking on Thursday. Bring it on xxx

A Zipper Pouch & some Sleep Balm

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Today was a pretty relaxed Sunday. This was much needed as MacroBoy & I ventured to Ikea yesterday & that requires some getting over haha.

The good thing about the trip is that it was a complete success & my craft room has been very much made over now, so I will do a post on that very soon (just have to get MacroBoy to hang some artwork for me).

I promised a colleague I would make her a treatment to help her get to sleep & hopefully have a more restful sleep.

I based my recipe off Shalom Mama’s, however I’ve made my own tweaks.

You will need:

– 1/8 cup Lemon Balm

– 1/8 cup Chamomile Flowers

– 3/4 cup Coconut Oil

– 1 tbsp beeswax

– 15 drops each of Lavender, Cedarwood & Lemon essential oils

To make:

– Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius

– Melt your coconut oil (either in a saucepan on low heat or in the microwave) then add this to an oven proof bowl & add your lemon balm & chamomile flowers

– Once the oven is up to temperature, turn it off & place the bowl with herbs & oil in the oven for at least 3 hours

– After leaving the herbs to steep in the oil, strain the herbs so you are just left with the oil, then place this oil along with beeswax into a small saucepan on a low heat

– When the beeswax is completely melted, take the oil off the heat & add your essential oils

– Pour this into your container & you are done

I rub a small amount onto to the soles of my feet & a little dab onto my temples each night as I get into bed. I love it & find it incredibly effective.

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Whilst I was waiting for the herbs to steep in the oil I went to try out my new & improved craft room. To accompany my sleep balm gift, I decided to make a little zipper pouch to hold the tin.

I used this Craftsy course which is the same course I used to help make my tote bag from my last post.

It was my first attempt (& success) at working with a zip. I did OK, it isn’t perfect, but at the same time, I thought it was going to be a whole lot harder, so I was definitely pleasantly surprised & will not shy away from zipper installation in the future.

This zipper pouch is something I could put together easily in an hour or so & would be great for gifts. I can already think of one other person who desperately needs a pencil case upgrade at work, so I will add them to my gift list.

You may notice the photos in this post are far better than usual…I will happily admit I employed MacroBoy’s services for these.

Have a great week!

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Bucket Bag – A First Attempt

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Happy New Year!

Today we had the privilege of catching up with friends for breakfast, before it got way too hot to do much else. It was a scorcher here in Melbourne, but the idea of just sitting under the air-conditioning like a vegetable wasn’t entirely appealing.

My sewing room has air-con & is on the cool side of the house, so this afternoon I jumped in & made a bucket bag for my Mum. As with my drawstring bag, I made this by following the Craftsy sewing class with Kristen Link. You can find that here.

I decided to use denim for the base of the bag. This probably wasn’t the smartest move for my first time round with this pattern. It became quite difficult to attach the round base to the body of the bag due to thickness of the denim once doubled up.

Next time I would still consider using denim but I would put it at the top of the bag & have the patterned fabric as the bag base.

My favourite part about the finished product is the handle, I really like the effect of stitching along the length of it as it ends up looking pretty as well as strengthening the final product.

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All in all, this was a really good project & I will definitely make some more. I’m also looking at making a tote bag & zipper pouch soon, so that pretty paisley fabric might get another run.

Hope Mum likes it!

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Pink Grapefruit – Orange & Pink Swirl – Cold Processed Soap

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In 2014 I started making our soap. It seemed like a fascinating process & I love the idea of being able to craft a bar that has exactly what we want & the exact qualities of a soap that we love.

I don’t think I’ve stumbled across ‘the’ recipe yet, but here is the latest batch I have tried. I will report back in a couple of months as to whether this bar is a winner.

Ingredients

  • 300g coconut oil (may need to warm it up a bit to get it into liquid form)
  • 500g olive oil
  • 75g shea butter (I use unrefined – you will probably need to warm this in a small saucepan on the stove to get to liquid form)
  • 126g lye (caustic soda)
  • 289g distilled/filtered water
  • 35g pink grapefruit fragrance oil
  • Total batch of soap will weight approximately 1.3kg

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You will also need

(here is a great article on all you will need)

  • Scales – Electronic that measure in single grams
  • Good rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Large glass bowl to mix oils & lye together
  • Soap mold that will be able to hold the batch amount you are making above
  • Glass jug (or any heatproof jug) for lye water
  • Stick blender
  • Orange & Pink liquid brites colour for CP soap-making
  • Chopstick for swirling
  • Plastic measuring jugs (if you are wanting to pour out your soap mix to make different colours
  • Spatula (for getting every last bit of the soap mix into the mold)
  • Stainless-steel spoon

I like to do everything methodically when it comes to soap-making. I find it relaxing to do it this way & to be honest, it’s safer as you’re more likely to cover all bases.

Step 1: Use your scales to measure your lye (caustic soda) into small bowl (I have a few small glass bowls I use for this & to hold the fragrance oil when measured out).

Step 2: Use your scales to measure your water into your glass jug.

Step 3: Slowly add your lye to your water – Do this in a well-ventilated room & stir slowly with your stainless steel spoon until the caustic soda is dissolved. The water will heat up to an incredibly hot temperature (if you don’t believe me, touch the lower outer side of the glass jug…HOT).

Set this aside & let it start coming down toward room temperature. Now you can get on with getting out & organizing all the other bits & bobs.

Step 4: In a glass bowl, use your scales to measure your fragrance. Set aside.

Step 5: Use your scales to measure your olive oil, melted coconut oil & melted shea butter into your large glass bowl & mix together.

Step 6: Grab a plastic jug for each of your colours, for me that’s 2. Pour a small amount of pink & orange into each. Set these aside as we will pour soap mix into each of these after.

Step 7: Put on your safety glasses & rubber gloves. Gently add the room temp lye water to your bowl of room temp oils & gently mix together with your spatula. Put your stick blender into the bowl, tap it on the bottom of the bowl a couple of times to get any air bubbles out from under the blender head.

Step 8: Start with some quick bursts of the blender to emulsify the oil & lye water together. You are looking for ‘thin’ trace which is like a runny pancake batter. This took me about 30 seconds of quick blasts with the blender & then stirring to see how it is coming together in the bowl.

Step 9: This is when I add my fragrance and gently stir through with my spatula, then I give it a quick blitz with my stick blender.

Step 10: Once you are happy with the mix, pour about 1 cup into your jug with the pink colour & the same into the jug with the orange colour. Give these a good mix with your spatula, but you may also need to put your stick blender in them & give them a quick blitz to mix the colour through completely.

Step 11: Pour the remaining soap mix (uncoloured) into your soap mold. Take your pink and pour it into your soap mould in a big ‘s’ shape, using most of the mix in the jug. Follow with the orange & again pour it in a ‘s’ shape, right along side the pink ‘s’ shape, but not right on top of it. I end up doing two passes in a ‘s’ shape with each colour & then if there is any remaining colour I just use my spatula to scrape all of it out & onto the top of the soap.

Step 12: Take your chopstick & swirl diagonally from one corner of the mold to the other side so you are running your chopstick through the ‘s’ shape you made when pouring. Make sure your chopstick is going all the way to the bottom. I just do this once, but some people do it multiple times. I also run the chopstick around all 4 edges of the mold to see if I can pull some colour to the sides.

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Step 13: Cover the top of the mold with some strong cardboard or ply lay a towel over the top of that to ensure it is insulated (you don’t want soap to cool too quick as it will discolour). Put it out of the way.

Now you need to wait up to a week. To be honest, you are able to wait less, but I’m in no rush, so I wait at least 24 hours and then check. This time I checked after a 36 hour cure & the sides of the mold came away super easy so I un-molded.

Once I have un-molded, I cut my soap up into the bar size I want. For this batch I got 12 large bars.

I will now set these out on racks to ‘cure’ for another 4-6 weeks.

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I’m really happy with the swirls & patterns in this batch, definitely not perfect, but the orange thickened up quite quickly so I’m pleased with the swirls that I did manage to get.

I just love using home made soap. I will be bundling up 3 or 4 bars for my uncle to take home with him & I will pass another 3-4 bars on to my parents who I know will appreciate the thought.

Next batch will be with green swirls & will be an Anjou pear fragrance I believe. I may blog about that also.

Useful links:

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Heat & Cool Pack – A Gift For My Uncle

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I am officially on holidays for 16 days & I plan to do lots of little projects over this break. The goal is to also blog about them, but let’s not get carried away.

Today was an opportunity for me to get into my sewing room & get our Christmas gift for my amazing Uncle done & dusted.

I have never attempted a heat & cool pack, however both my husband & myself use ours regularly & I’ve often thought about ways to improve on the design.

I watched quite a few different YouTube videos & gathered different ideas then decided to embark on my own basic design & I am pretty happy with the final result.

Materials:

  • 3 different fabrics – 100% cotton – this is important as you want to be able to safely put this bag in the microwave
  • fabric scissors or rotary cutter
  • pins & snips
  • 4 cups rice mixed with about 15 drops Lavender essential oil
  • funnel
  • thread of your colour choice
  • cutting mat & ruler

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I started by cutting 4 strips of each of the 3 different fabrics. These strips were 2.5 x 10 inches.

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Once you have cut all of your strips, line them up in the order you want them to appear on your finished product. I kept mine simple with just a repeat of the same pattern.

IMG_1664Now it’s time to start sewing pieces together. Place the first two pieces together with right sides facing each other & sew along the long edge. I use a 1/4 inch seam for my strips.

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Keep doing this for each strip until your have sewn all pieces together. Then iron all of your seams open so they are nice & flat.

This may also be the time you need to straighten up one end of your strips so both long edges are straight.

You should now have a nice long rectangle constructed from all 12 of your sewn together strips.

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Fold this rectangle in half length-ways so both long sides are facing each other. You want the ‘pretty’ sides of the fabric facing each other. Pin along one short edge, along open long edge & along the other short edge with approximately 2 inches to remain open (so you can turn the bag the right way out once you have sewn it up).

Take the time here to line your strip seams up so the final product is nice & neat.

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Once you have sewn along the 3 pinned edges, use that 2 inch gap to turn your bag out so the nice side of the fabric is shown, you can iron this now if you want, I did so I could get some nice crisp seams.

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Now the fun part begins, you can start to pour your rice in to your bag by putting the funnel into the opening in your bag. Start with 1 cup of scented rice. Shake the rice really well down to the bottom of the bag. Insert some pins where the rice stops as this will stop it from moving around as you sew up the first section.

I chose to sew a total of 4 panels into my bag as this helps distribute the rice evenly & make sure your whole neck & shoulders (or other affected area) has a good amount of hot or cold rice against it. I sewed along every third panel based on my design of 12 strips of fabric.

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Continue on doing this until you have 4 rice filled panels. I then tucked in the last couple of open inches of fabric on the short side of the bag & sewed very closely to the edge to catch the folded in seam.

To strengthen the bag I then sewed another top seam a 1/4 inch from the edge to bake sure it was well & truly secure. I then went down & did a double top seam on the other short end of the bag just so it looks the same on both ends. This is entirely optional & just something I wanted to do for decoration.

And there you have it, one completed Christmas present for my Uncle.

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Have a great Christmas & New Year peeps. I am sure I will see you before the new year, but I’m not sure. I am hoping to do a post on what I am hoping to achieve in 2015. Not really because I think anyone is particularly interested, but because I want to keep myself accountable.