Thursday, December 29, 2011

EcoAwareness Public Art Project Just Launched On Kickstart!

I feel like I just had another This past week, I saw a news show about "crowd funding" and Kickstarter. They accepted my project plan and I was just launched today! I'm excited that, if funded, this will provide me the opportunity to share my recycled fiber arts know how with a lot more kids on Whidbey!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Make It Mondays! Cashmere HandWarmer Tutorial

Everything But The Oink means we use everything.....I mean everything of our recycled sweaters and other natural fiber items. It's eco friendly, frugal, responsible and fun to find ways to use every last piece. We even cut up the teensy scraps and use them to "stuff" our Mini Mice, Alien and Monster Buddies and our Bird Ornaments.

When we have a precious cashmere sweater find, we don't want to waste any teensy weensy piece of this luxurious upcycled fabric. So, we created Cashmere HandWarmers, filled with organic lavender and (uncooked) rice for a special treat to keep your hands warm during these cold winter months.

Here's all you need for this simple, easy-peasy project:
A small rectangle of cashmere felted "fabric"
Coordinating length of natural fiber yarn, threaded onto a large eye needle (chenille works well)
uncooked rice and organic lavender buds (optional)

1. Fold your rectangle of cashmere in half so that is square shaped.
2. Sew up all but one side of the square with a whip stitch.
3. Fill the cashmere "pocket" with uncooked rice and lavender buds.
4. Finish sewing up the last side of the square.
5. Heat in microwave for 30 to 60 seconds and then put it in your glove, your coat or pant pocket to keep your fingers warm and your body relaxed from the yummy lavender. :)

This can be reheated and re-used, over and over, and over again...for many years. These would make wonderful Valentine's Day gifts and your children can even sew these up for their teachers and favorite aunts.

Of course, you can make these out of other natural fiber scraps, but the cashmere handwarmer is...well.....just extra special.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Make It Mondays! Coupon Wallet Tutorial

I made this as a custom order for someone whom loves tea and likes to carry teabags with her in her purse.

As I made it, I thought this would also make the perfect gift for those involved in couponing.

The four "pockets" inside are perfect to organize coupons.

Recycled wool felt piece (8.5 inches x 7.5 inches)
Craft felt or thin recycled wool piece (8.5 x 7.5 inches)

TWO recycled wool felt pieces (8.5 inches x 3.5 inches)

Natural fiber yarns, vintage buttons
Large eyed needle (yarn darner, tapestry or chenille needle)

1. Cut out your wool/felt pieces. You want your large inside piece to be thin so that the wallet can fold and so it will be easier to sew all the layers together.

2. Embroider/embellish the large wool piece. Use a large button and attach it in the center. You will use this later for your wallet closure.

3. Now, take your craft felt or thinner wool piece and pin the smaller wool pieces to each end. Blanket stitch these smaller wool pieces to the craft felt AND stitch a "divider" down the center of each pocket.

4. Pin the completed "inside" to the embellished "outside" wool piece. Now, blanket stitch the project together. You're almost done!

5. Take some of your yarn and cut three pieces long enough to go around the body of the folded wallet with a bit extra yarn. Tie these three lengths of yarn around the large, centered button. Now, braid these three lengths of yarn together. Knot at the end. This is now your wallet closure. Wrap it around the wallet and then around the button. Easy access and looks cute too! EnJOY!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

4Her Fiber Arts Open Studio This Weekend

My Christmas gift to my fiber arts 4Hers was a two day Fiber Studio Open House, where the kids had the opportunity to come over and spend two entire days handcrafting Christmas gifts.

Sweet Heats (lavender/rice microwave heat packs) and Owl Babies were the most popular creations.

It was so rewarding to see young teens spending their time totally "unplugged" and enJOYing the process of handsewing and using recycled natural fibers.

That was MY Christmas gift!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Projects Galore!

Yes, recycling and then upcycling wool/natural fiber treasures takes time.....okay, lots of time. Yet, it warms my heart to be saving a sweater or other clothing item from the landfill and then turning it into a treasure for someone else to enJOY.

This group of projects is from three months of work, each and every day. That's three months AFTER all of the sweaters, etc. were located and feltedx3 in the washing machine. Yes, lots of time, but also lots of LOVE in each and every stitch. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nuno and Cobweb Felted Scarves

In between new recycled wool creations (check out our Etsy and/or FB pages to see Owl Babies, Alien and Monster Buddies and Mini-Mouse), I've been experimenting with nuno felt and cobweb felt scarves.

I love our hand dyed alpaca and an awesome ramboullet-silk blend (from Crystal Creek Farms) for the cobweb felt. Both art forms are perfect for incorporating little "treasures" of other fibers, yarns and threads. :)

Also getting excited about our first Fiber Friends 4H group meeting in early December. More on that project to follow.....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Please "Like"/"Join" our Facebook Page!

We have a Facebook page: Everything but the Oink.

This is in the spirit of using every bit of a recycled sweater or other fiber art items!
In other words, no animals were harmed. :)

Please also check out our Etsy shop ( under "Spinayarn."

Each and every purchase from our Etsy shop helps us to make and deliver more handmade recycled woolen mittens to the homeless in the Pacific Northwest AND to help us teach fiber arts to area youth for free. We NEVER charge a single penny to teach youth fiber arts and we provide all of the supplies.


(Soda) Straw Weaving Tutorial

Even though it's not a "Make It Monday," since we've taken such a long hiatus, thought we would return with a fun, easy family fiber arts tutorial. Where have we been? College visits, History Day competition preparation and lots of good ol' Whidbey Island winter storms.

It feels good to be back on a semi-schedule and to indulge in fiber arts relaxation again. :)

Now for the tutorial....if you have these three items, you can weave!
Soda straws (3 to 5), yarn, duct tape.

Cut soda straws to 2/3 length. Measure approximately 18" pieces of yarn and run a piece of yarn through each straw. (You can choose either a 3 straw or 5 straw project.) After running the yarn through the straw, bring approx. 1 inch of the yarn over the top of the straw and use the duct tape to firmly wrap around the yarn/straw. Tie the yarn hanging out of the bottom of the straws together into a knot. You now have your WARP (a weaving term for the horizontal threads/yarns.)

For your WEFT (a weaving term for the horizontal pieces of yarn), take a ball of yarn and start weaving in front of a straw, then behind the next straw, then in front of, then behind, then in front of (for a 5 straw project) turn the yarn and come back the opposite direction.

You'll have to hold the straws for the first few rows, but then the weaving will hold the straws together. Keep weaving until the straws are covered with yarn, then gently push the weaving down to make more room. Eventually the completed woven yarn will be down to the knot at the bottom of the straws. Take off the duct tape and tie the warp/weft threads together at the top. have an AWEsome bookmark!

Other project ideas with longer warps? Belts, headbands. Add more straws and create wider projects, including mug mats or wall hangings.

This fiber art craft is great for age 5 and up. Older kids and adults can create patterns by changing weft colors/yarns.

With skinny straws and embroidery floss, your teenager can create friendship bracelets for all of his/her friends!


(We're doing this with our fiber art elementary youth tomorrow, so will post pictures after class.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

From Farm to Yarn-Youth Fiber Arts Class

We are volunteer teaching a fiber arts class each week to youth at a local school. The students have learned about the various fiber animals, learned to identify their fibers by touch, have learned to "leg spin" and are now using KoolAid to dye fiber for them to drop spindle next week.

Who is the ceramic alpaca supervising the completed project? That's Phidippides (named after one of Adrianna's alpacas), whom Adrianna made in pottery class as a bobblehead. He's our new blog mascot.

Why the gloves and masks? Even KoolAid has non-natural particles in it and we want to protect these young people's lungs! :)


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Flu has Arrived, So no Tutorial, but Rug Progress

Well, influenza has struck, so sorry, but no tutorial today. We'll be back with a new tutorial next Monday. Before the flu hit, we started on our first wool rug. So exciting! Here is a pic of the close up. While we did some top stitching on the sewing machine for embellishment and reinforcement of the seams, everything is also hand stitched with wool yarn. This rug will last a lifetime.

We are already planning our next rug. Pacific Northwest weather allows for wool area rugs all year long. :)

Hope all of you are staying warm and healthy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

SYWM!!! (Save Your Washing Machine) Felting Tip

I love to felt. Needle felting, wet felting and washing machine felting. However, felting sweaters in your washing machine MAY lead to expensive repair bills as those little pieces of wool fluff may clog up the plumbing. Solution? Place your sweaters in old pillowcases before felting. I went to my local thrift store and found a couple of huge (king sized) zippered pillowcases for $1 each...a great investment. Standard pillowcases were 50 cents. For the standard pillow cases, I put a sweater in (just one per pillowcase) and then cut down from the pillowcase opening to make "tie straps." I then tied these in a knot, and voila...a secure felting bag.

Your family will love you (no more lint/fluff on their favorite clothes or on their towels) and the only one who won't like this is the appliance repair person....because you won't be calling him/her anymore. :)


Monday, January 31, 2011

Make It Mondays! I HEART You Tutorial and GIVEAWAY!!!

Valentine's Day is only two weeks, why not honor those you care for with a special recycled wool heart pin? (These are also AWEsome for every day of the year gifts, to embellish cards, scrapbook pages, and more.)

Also, think outside of the red/pink box. I have LOTS of felted wool scraps which are not in traditional Valentine's Day colors. Lots of browns, navy, blacks.... Yet, with a creative use of threads/yarns, you can transform that little, dark scrap into a cheery heart.

1.Cut your hearts out of leftover felted pieces. Gather your threads/yarns and experiment with different combinations. Don't forget crochet threads and any variegated thread/yarn is wonderful. Get out your buttons and find the perfect match too.

2. If you need a review of stitches, review blanket stitch and others on the Net, or better yet, look for a classic needlework/stitch book at your local thrift store. I just found five books (on 1/2 price book day) for under $2 each, kept two and gave the other three as gifts.

3. Time to CREATE! Use a blanket stitch around the heart, remembering to give each stitch a "tug" so that they are snug. This provides a neat finish. Embellish the center with stitches, if desired, and add a favorite button...or not. It's difficult to see in the pic, but the heart without a button is a subtle argyle and I didn't want to cover up the pattern. I used a handspun, handdyed alpaca yarn for that one...and it just didn't need anything else. :)

4. Block your completed heart by steaming it with your iron for the final finishing touch. Add a pin back if desired. These make great gifts for teachers (with a coffee or office supplies gift card attached!), your postal carrier,etc. Want a great family project? Spend an evening or afternoon crafting these beauties and then take them to your local nursing home! You'll all be rewarded with lots of "I HEART You" smiles from the elderly residents. EnJOY!

Now for the giveaway! Do the following: "Like" our FB page at "Everything but the Oink" and become a follower of this blog and you'll be entered into the drawing for your choice of one of the tutorial hearts. Drawing will be next Monday.

From last week's giveaway (our first), we only had two entrants, so they EACH get skeins of the tutorial hand dyed threads/yarn. Kendall Sirak and Ann Murphy are the lucky winners!

Please post pics of YOUR completed hearts on our Facebook page!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vintage Refreshed!

I'm expanding my horizons a bit.....past recycled wool sweaters. This week I picked up some vintage beige doilies (lace) at our local thrift store for 50 cents each. They had hearts in the design and I was thinkin' Valentine's Day. :) So, I put a couple of them in a red dye pot, and voila.....Vintage Refreshed! An entire new look.

I then got the idea to purchase old hand embroidered tablecloths, the forgotten orphans, because they have holes in them or huge stains. My thought is to iron on some Wonder Under, cut out the precioius embroidery, and then applique that on to trivets, recycled wool pillows, etc. I'll let you know how it turns out as project idea comes to fruition. Give me a week or

This next week I start volunteer teaching a Fiber Arts class to 2nd-6th graders at a local school. It will meet one hour a week for the entire semester and we'll be doing a sampler of the following projects: KoolAid dye, drop spinning, lap weaving, straw weaving, knitting, kumihimo, silk painting, spool knitting and more. I am also "vintage" and I always feel "refreshed" when teaching fiber arts to little ones. :)

EnJOY your weekend!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Make It Mondays! KoolAid Dye Tutorial and GIVEAWAY!!!

Okay, you've been to Resweater or your local thrift store and have purchased/felted a lovely wool sweater. Why don't you try handcrafting some projects? And, don't settle for boring, monotone yarn/threads....dye your own instead!

I often purchase wool tapestry yarns at the thrift store, usually not paying more that 75 cents for a ten to thirty yard skein. A lot cheaper than your yarn shoppe skein! But, when I dye them, they look so lovely in a felted wool project.

While commerical dyes are available and I use them often, KoolAid is an expensive, convenient dye for the novice dye crafter. So, raid your cabinet and pick out interesting colors. You'll also need the following additional supplies:
White Vinegar
Glass bowl and lid (I use an old Pyrex dish/lid and use this ONLY for dye projects)
Recycled wool yarns, threads (or other natural fibers)
Gloves, masks optional (but I do strongly recommend masks/gloves for children, as even KoolAid powder is not good for the lungs)

Step 1: Soak your yarns in vinegar water in the sink for approx. 5 minutes. (1/4 C. vinegar to a gallon of water...aprox.)

Step 2: While your yarn is soaking, heat to almost boiling a couple of quarts of water with an additional 1/4 C vinegar. Vinegar is the mordant for your dye, meaning it will keep the dye in the fiber.

Step 3: Place your wet yarn in your glass dish and sprinkle on the KoolAid powder. You don't need to cover all of the yarn...diffusion will do it's job when you add the hot vinegar/water. :) If you have more yarn, then place a second layer, along with more KoolAid powder. Kind of like making a fiber lasagna...LOL.

Step 4: Pour the hot water over the yarn until the yarn is covered with water. DO NOT STIR!!! If you do, you'll get muddy colored yarn. Cover the glass bowl immediately and let the hot water and steam do it's thing. Don't be tempted to peek!

Step 5: After the water is clear (that's why I like to use a clear glass bowl/dish) then pour off the clear water into the sink and thoroughly rinse your newly dyed yarn. I like to use a fiber rinse/conditioner product at this point to get rid of any residual vinegar odor, but this is not necessary.

Step 6: Let the yarn dry and then roll it into a ball, ready for your next project. These yarns look beautiful in a bowl on your coffee table also....while you're awaiting inspiration for that "special" project. EnJOY!

Now, a giveaway! If you do all three of the following:
1. Become a follower of my blog and comment on this tutorial or another post
2. "Like" our Facebook page at Everything but the Oink
3. Forward this tutorial to at least three people.
Then you will be entered into a drawing for two skeins of the tutorial yarn. :) The drawing will be next Monday and the winner's name will be posted on the blog.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wool Rosettes Class a Success...and SeaGlass Handspun

A busy, fun weekend! We had our inaugural Everything but the Oink to make wool rosettes. These are great for hair ties, headbands, brooches, gift wrapping embellishment and more. Everyone in the class went home with three completed projects and supplies to make more at home. Some vintage button shopping took place too. :)

Adrianna left for Bozeman today on a recruiting visit for college. So, I spent the day on the spinning wheel, creating SeaGlass handspun from alpaca roving Adrianna and I had dyed a while back. Often we have a "dye day" and then the completed roving waits for inspiration...or an inspired buyer. :) Please message us if you'd like to purchase roving or handspun yarn. Tomorrow will be a tutorial on dying your own commercial yarns (or better yet, recycled wool embroidery or tapestry threads) for use with your recycled wool projects. These hand dyed yarns/threads add a truly organic feel to your project, making it extra special!

Several have asked if our yarns are for sale. We have an Etsy shop (spinayarn or royalalpacas) with proceeds funding our Merry Mittens Project and fiber arts education for youth. We never charge for classes for youth in fiber arts, just for adults. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Link to an AWEsome website!

Resweater is a great blog and one which I read faithfully. She now has 500 friends on her FB page, so she is doing a sweater giveaway. Not only does she post AWEsome tutorials and other tips for using recycled wool, she also sells sweaters to felt!Check out her blog (and sign up for her giveaway!) at

Tomorrow morning I'm teaching my first adult class: Wool Rosettes using recycled fibers and hand dyed yarns...and of course...vintage buttons! I'll post pics after the class. Today, in between class preparation tasks, I spent some time on the spinning wheel, and working with the dye pot. I haven't spun in quite some time (due to my autoimmune arthritis) but it went well today! I usually prefer to spin very fine yarns, but people are always asking for bulky, novelty yarns, so that's what I created today. Whatcha think? The fiber I dyed/spun is a lovely-licious combination of Ramboullet, angora and silk. Super soft!