Tuesday 28 January 2014

Upcycled Shirt - Now a Cushion

Wool Shirt Cushion

Recently I spotted a rather nice grey shirt on the reduced rail in my local charity shop.  It was only 50p and it was 80% wool.  I thought it had potential so I snapped it up.  After pondering (briefly) about the possibilities I decided that its fate was to become a cushion.  One reason for this was the rather nice placket it had down the front, covering the buttons - an instant opening for the cushion pad.  Also, I liked the shirt pockets (with flaps) on the front - excellent places to secrete Freddo bars for some secret indulgence whilst watching a favourite TV show or DVD.  

So, I set about the transformation.  It was quick & inexpensive to make - no fraying edges to finish off, ready made opening for the cushion pad, just the corners to trim and hey presto it's done.  (It'll even match the #Wovember Big Knit Pumpkin Pouffe - http://hippystitch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/wovember-project-finished-for-christmas.html).

And on top of all that I still have some bits left over to make other things:

Leftover bits of shirt for future makes

I did throw a few bits away but not many.  Why not have a go?

Tuesday 21 January 2014

More Big Knitting - Textured Cushion

Dyed textured cushion

Having got the bug using large needles I decided to press on but with something a little easier and more conventional than my #Wovember Big Knit Pumpkin Pouffe project (http://hippystitch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/wovember-project-finished-for-christmas.html). So, I got out my 25mm straight needles and selected a ball of green Boodles Textile Yarn.  This is a chunky, oversized yarn that looks like it's been made out of T shirts.  It is, in fact, made from offcuts from the textile manufacturing process, may have colour & thickness variations and has plently of knots.  To knit up with it, I chose a cone of super chunky wool that I bought at the Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate in November. This is in a natural cream but will be dyed a shade of green which I hope with the Boodles yarn will produce a variegated green result.

The needles are about 38cm (15 inches) long and 25mm (1 inch) in diameter. Here they are ...

25mm Knitting Needles

and here's the yarn (already partly used up) ...


My project was to knit a cushion approx. 40cm square (16 inches)  with an alternating pattern of garter and stocking stitch blocks.  Here it is in progress (this has used up all of one ball of Boodles)...

Big kniting in progress

And here it is finished but not sewn up ....

Finished Big Knitting

It measured approx. 40cm by 100cm (16 inches by 39 inches).  You can see how much yarn was left from my 2 balls of Boodles and my cone of wool.

Here it is stitched up ...

Finished cushion before dyeing

Now on with the dyeing.  This has been another saga.   First I tried using Dylon Olive Green hand dye, having washed the cushion.  I did this in a bucket using two packets of dye.  The bucket frankly could have done to be bigger - alot of slopping of dye went on.  The result was very disappointing.  These dyes state that they give lighter colours on wool but all I got was an extremely pale green.  I think this may have been because there was some dressing on the wool yarn and that really the cushion needed soaking overnight to remove it.    Next, I went for some acid dyes and mixed a sort of dull lime green using Art Van Go and Colourcraft acid dyes.  Acid dyes require heat so you do this in a large pan (e.g. a jam pan) on the stove top.  This was more successful although the application of heat, stirring and washing has resulted in some felting of the yarn (which was what I was trying to avoid by using the Dylon dye).   

Wool yarn - from white to pale green to dull lime
The dyes had less effect on the Boodles yarn

I've not yet decided whether it lives up to my expectations.  It didn't take long to knit up -  a couple of evenings (not full time).  I took inspiration from Becca Smith's book "Big Stitch Knitting" for tension, yarns and patterns and then adapted it all to my project.  The dyeing and trying to get the cushion dry (it was/is very heavy!) was a more involved process.  Acid dyes are much more effective to get true colours though.  

Note to self: don't forget the value of preparing samples first to check out likely results.  At least the final colour was more or less what I was aiming for!

Thursday 16 January 2014

Another "How to make ..." - Paper Decorations - Valentine's Day 3D Hearts & More

Those of you that have visited the "How to make ..." page on my blog will know that there have long been instructions on how to make pompoms.  You'll be pleased to know that I've recently added another quick make in time for Valentine's Day in the form of some upcycled 3D paper heart decorations.  They can of course be used for other occasions and can be easily adapted for more general use.  I did make some round ones in time for Christmas - and made some map based ones for the Geographers I sometimes hang out with, and one for a Iorek Burnison fan (featuring Svalbard of course!). You can string them together to make bauble bunting - great for any celebration.

Paper Bauble Bunting

Hope you like them - have a go it won't take long and it could use up some of your recycling waste!  The link is here:

Wednesday 8 January 2014

#Wovember Project Finished For Christmas!

Well - I promised I would relate the saga of my #Wovember knit once the new year was underway so here goes.  For those who don't know, #Wovember is about "celebrating WOOL and the fine folk who raise and work with it, throughout the month of November".  Wovember began in 2011 and you can read more about it here:

Anyway back to my tale.  I started my project by choosing an Ingrid Wagner pattern entitled "Big Knit Pumpkin Pouffe".  You can find out more about Ingrid here:

I wanted the pouffe to be grey to match the room it was to go in as it had to fit in with this: 

and this:

So I dyed a wool blanket grey (cheat's tip - I used Dylon's Antique Grey machine dye which although not for wool worked out just fine!) and then cut it up to make a giant ball of wool ...

Dyed Blanket in Dylon's Antique Grey

Blanket cut into yarn and rolled into a ball 
(please note autumnal leaves for #Wovember authenticity!)

I took up my needles and commenced my project.  All was going fine until my needles ran out of space before I'd finished increasing so I had to pause the project while I got some longer needles.  (Top tip: if you get some needles like this it's as well to glue the wooden ends into the tubing as under any pressure they can pop off and you start losing stitches until you can get them back on again which is altogether a bit of a snag!)  

Big circular needles (25mm)

Some time later, longer needles at the ready and ends glued in, I carried on and promptly ran out of wool.  Drat, drat and double drat!  I dyed another blanket grey but hadn't paid enough attention to the texture of said blanket.  Not suitable - didn't even bother to cut it up and set it to one side.  Actually this bit has a happy ending but more of that later.  Next I selected another blanket to dye (more suitable this time!).  However this one came out much darker Antique Grey - wool is allocated to dye lots for a reason!  Never mind this will just add some great shading within my creation.  Remember: there are no mistakes just design solutions!  Note to self: next time dye adequate blanketing all at once!  And at last (a few days before Christmas) my pouffe was complete.

Finished Big Knit Pumpkin Pouffe (Note the great shading towards the bottom!)

This is where the happy ending comes in because at this stage the pouffe needed stuffing.  First I put in the spare dyed grey blanket (because you can see the colour of the stuffing through the knitting and I wanted to retain the grey colour.)  What foresight - dyeing a blanket in advance specially for this purpose!  You'd be amazed what you need to stuff a pouffe this size.  In it there are a pair of floor length lined curtains (2 widths in each), 2 cushion pads, the aformentioned grey blanket and another blanket.  The actual size of this pouffe is 55cm by 33cm.  The pattern suggested it would be 45cm by 17cm so mine did turn out a little bigger but that's fine.  Or perhaps I should have cut the wool a little thinner.

Grey Pouffe with Green Accents

Final dilemma - having stuffed the pouffe - I discovered a dropped stitch.  What to do now?  I cut a piece of green blanket and made a feature tie (matches the other fabrics in the room!) and then added a piece of green in the centre to bring it all together.  The question is, should I add more green ties or is one enough?  What do you think?

Dropped stitch solution - green tie

And finally, I'm not sure how long it took me to make this pouffe, what with the preparation of the wool, the delays with the needles and running out of wool and all that but I enjoyed making it, (although it was quite hard work moving the wool round the needles), I've learned from my design solutions (!) and I've found somewhere to put a whole load of things I didn't know what to do with!  Not sure whether I'm going to make another though ....