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!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Make It Mondays! Mug Mat/Hot Pad Tutorial

I LOVE blog tutorials! They not only teach me; they inspire me. So....I'm starting "Make It Mondays" with a tutorial (as often as possible) on Mondays.

Today's tutorial is for a simple mug mat or hot pad project. It is a stormy, high tide surge day here at the beach cabin, so ocean-y colors came to mind...and a cut of hot chocolate. (At the end of the tutorial, look for my "Heavenly Hot Chocolate" recipe...a 4H group favorite!

Okay, on to the tutorial....
Supplies needed: Recycled felted wool scrap, thinner craft felt scrap (or can use a thinner wool scrap piece), leftover yarn, large eyed needle, straight pin.

1. Cut out your wool and felt pieces. I wanted a larger hot pad for this project, so I used a cereal bowl for my circle template.

2. If you want to embellish/embroider your wool felt, do it now. (I just did a simple ocean wave embellishment.)

3. Using a straight pin, pin your two pieces together.

4. Blanket stitch the pieces together with leftover yarn. TIP: If you use a bulky yarn and/or a thick scrap, use a sail, leather or upholstery needle. It will make your job much easier. Use caution with children using these "mega" needles however. I do not recommend using thread or superfine yarn. You will lose your embellishment in the thick felted wool.

5. Do not knot your yarn at the end. Simply weave your yarn end back and forth in your stitches and cut close.

6. For a more polished finished project, use an iron and steam your mug mat/hot pad flat.

Voila! These are a great family project and you can get an early start on Valentine's Day presents!

The final photo is of some of the yarns I dyed yesterday on our 4H dye day. These will be used for future button bag and other recycled wool projects.

Now to the promised Heavenly Hot Chocolate recipe! Disclaimer: Not healthy or low fat, but a delicious special treat!
In a mug, empty one packet of powdered hot chocolate mix.
Add a splash of milk or 1/2 and 1/2 and a spoonful of Nutella.
Fill with hot water and stir well.
Top with a heaping spoonful of marshmallow creme and microwave for 30 seconds (to melt the marshmallow creme.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Glimpse at Projects in Progress....and Completed!

I truly feel like a little bit of me is knit or stitched into each project. Adrianna and I spend a minimum of 15 hours on EACH item, and most items have 20 to 30 hours of handwork. Since these hours are invested over multiple days, it's almost like having a baby born each time a project is completed. (LOL...without the pain of childbirth, but the pride and love of a new creation.) Fellow fiber arts enthusiasts will know what I'm trying to say. :)

Sometimes we transition from one project to another, then back again. I treasure the time spent with Adrianna, choosing the "just right" yarn and buttons, and our chats as we stitch by the fire in the evenings.

We made our first fingerless gloves this past week and have just listed them on our Etsy shop. We also finished up two cashmere scarves. Oh...My...Goodness! The incredible softness and luxury of these scarves. Adrianna said she would just "pet" it all day.

Now on to leg warmers. I'm starting this afternoon on a yummy blue lambswool pair. I believe I'll start with some handstitching embellishment with handspun, hand dyed yarn....

Sunday, January 9, 2011


When we woke up to this scene at our house, we didn't think we would be able to make it down island to take the ferry to the mainland to deliver Merry Mittens. However, in a rare weather twist, it was snowy at the beach, but not in Seattle. After a successful drive and ferry ride, we stopped at Victrola Roasters, our fav coffee shop in the Capitol Hill area and were also able to hand out a few pair of mittens to some very cold senior homeless men.

Snow had started to fall in Seattle and I can't even imagine what it is like to have to sleep outside in such cold, snowy weather. As we then drove downtown, we stopped as we saw a disabled homeless man trying to push a metal walker (with his bare hands in 32 degree temps) across the street. We felt blessed as he quickly put the gloves on and gave us a big smile of thanks! For the next two hours, we visited the Union Gospel Mission and walked around the Pioneer Square area, handing out mittens (filled with toothbrushes, shampoo, soaps, lotions) to those living out in the elements.

We chose to preserve the dignity of those individuals receiving the mittens, so only took pictures of geographical landmarks from the areas where we handed out the mittens. Adrianna and Mikhail helped out and said they were truly moved by this community service project.

If you are reading this blog and live in another cold part of the country, we highly encourage you to start a Merry Mittens Project in your area. It only takes an hour or two to stitch up a pair of woolen mittens from recycled sweater sleeves and wool will keep the hands of the homeless warm, even when the mittens get a bit wet.

Hope you all have a warm, dry and safe week ahead!

Merry Mittens Project Update

Last night we "stuffed" 40+ completed handsewn woolen mittens and a handful of hats, scarves and ear warmers. Today we will drive down to Seattle to deliver these to the homeless. Sub-freezing temperatures and a major snowfall are forecast for mid-week, so this inaugural batch of woolen mittens were finished just in time!

I've also been working on completing the first two cashmere scarves this week. They are totally whipstitched by hand, with handspun, hand-dyed yarn, so each scarf takes two to three days to complete. I'll post pics as soon as they are finished, but right now, we're off to the mainland with Merry Mittens!