Monday, January 30, 2012

Make It Mondays! Scrappy Scarf Tutorial

From this...... this........
in a few simple hours!

Use your small (even teensy) recycled lambswool, angora, alpaca, mohair and cashmere soft scraps to make this yummi-liscious infinity scarf. Great for yourself or for a beautiful Valentine's Day gift. Outta the landfill and into someone's heart. :)

Materials Needed:

Recycled natural fiber scraps
Large eyed needle


1. Thread your large eye needle with a complimentary colored thin yarn (or embroidery floss.)

2. Overlap your scraps and start sewing them together with a running stitch on your threaded yarn. I also call this the "inchworm" stitch...just up and down.

3. As you sew, pull your yarn a bit tight so that the fiber scraps scrunch up. This will add a lot of texture to your scarf.

4. I encourage you to leave the pointy edges off to the side of the scarf as you sew. In other words, don't make a perfect line. This is also a way to use odd shaped scraps...scraps aren't too narrow to use unless you can't stitch through it!

5. Don't be afraid to use all different colors. One of the neat things about recycled wool/other natural fibers is that all colors seem to go together well! When you wear this scarf with different outfits, it will highlight the different colors in your scarf!

6. Continue sewing until your length is long enough to loop around your neck three to four times.

When you're happy with the length, stitch the beginning to the end, making an "infinity loop."

7. Out of a larger scrap or two, freehand cut a flower, sew a button through the middle of the flower, and secure it to one part of your scarf. This step is optional but adds a lot of pizzazz to your scarf. :)

Like this tutorial? Then please "like" our Facebook page Everything But The Oink and subscribe to this blog. Bloggers like to feel the love! ;)


p.s. Thanks to Reyna for taking our class yesterday and agreeing to model her completed creation!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Make It Mondays! Upcyclers

In the place of a tutorial today, I wanted to share a source of blissful inspiration: The Upcyclers blog.

This 1,000+ group of ecofriendly Etsy upcyclers are kindred spirits indeed. Whenever I hit a creative "funk", all I need to do is peruse this blog and Etsy listings by the members and inspiration returns. :)


Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Fiber Arts 4H Project: Scrappy Scarves (tm)

We had to reschedule our Fiber Arts 4H meeting for two consecutive weekends due to crazy weather (snow, tidal surge flooding.) But, it was worth the wait as we met today and all nine of the members made my version of the ever so popular "infinity" scarves. True to Everything But The Oink's name, we used all of those long, narrow scraps which most people would toss into the trash.

The 4Hers used thin yarns and a running stitch (working on those needlework skills!) to artfully sew together the scraps. The running stitch allowed the kids to "scrunch" up the scraps, thereby incorporating a lot of texture into their creations.

It is always challenging to find project which are simple enough for our 3rd grade 4Hers,
yet appealing enough to our high school members. All of the kids were excited about wearing their scarves tomorrow, so Scrappy Scarves were a success!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What's In My Sewing Basket Wednesday: Cashmere Baby Blanket

Our snow and sub-freezing temperatures continue here in the Pacific Northwest. I've been "cabin bound" since Saturday morning, so yesterday I decided to start on a larger scale project. I'm handstitching, with hand dyed thin silk yarn (almost like thread) recycled cashmere sweater pieces into a heirloom baby blanket. I decided to go with brighter, gender neutral colors, so this blankie can be used for many siblings in a family.

Here is a photo of the work "in progress"....

It's the perfect project for sitting by the fire with a cuppa tea and watching it snow, snow, snow.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Cashmere Wrist Warmers GIVEAWAY!

I currently have 30 blog followers. When I reach 50 followers, I will do a random drawing from all loyal followers for a pair of cashmere!wrist warmers, as shown in the tutorial below. Your pair will be embellished. :)

Also, please take a look at my Etsy shop at


Make It Mondays! Tutorial: Five Minute Project--Wrist Warmers

We had snow this weekend. Lots of snow. Here at the beach, we had four inches and "in town" they had six inches. We're expecting up to ten additional inches early this week. For those of you in the Midwest and East Coast, that's not much. But for us wimpy Pacific Northwest islanders, it's a major event. :)

Our housing isn't built for severe winter weather either. So, I've been chilly in my rustic beach cabin and made these 5 minute project cashmere (okay, I'm spoiled) wrist warmers to help keep me warm. What I like about them is that when I HAVE to take a craft creation break and wash dishes, I can easily push them up my sleeves.

Because these are made with recycled fibers (wool, cashmere, angora.....), the ends will not unravel, so they are not sewn. However, they can be blanket stitched, embroidered, or further embellished at a later date.

The upper sleeve pieces of any recycled/felted sweater
(Yep, that's it!)

Sleeves are one of my treasured parts of any recycled sweater. The lower sleeve section (with the cuff) works for fingerless gloves, coffee cup sleeves and many more projects. However, when I use this lower sleeve section, I always have the section from half way between the wrist up to the elbow. This piece works PERFECTLY for this project. It's already in a tube, so no sewing is required. It's loose enough to fit on your lower arm over any long sleeve clothing you are wearing, yet snug enough to keep your wrists warm.

Simply cut two arm "tube sections" 5" to 6" long (based on your preferences) straight across, and voila! You are now the proud owner of a pair of comfy wrist warmers. (They would also work as ankle warmers too. :)


Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's In My Sewing Basket Today?

I acquired a large men's cardigan sweater in cashmere! However, it had quite a few small holes in it, so I decided to work with smaller pieces and make my first Ugly Baby doll. It was so much fun! I loved incorporating the cardigan pocket into the doll, making a "pocket pouch" for a teensy Ugly Baby rattle.

Interested in buying this little guy or one of our other Ugly Buddies? (Custom orders also welcome.)

What's in YOUR sewing basket today?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Make It Mondays! Tutorial: How to Felt Natural Fiber Sweaters..aka Washing Machine Felting 411

You've come across awesome felted wool sweater projects on the Internet, but aren't quite sure how to felt the sweaters? No more fears...this Make It Mondays tutorial will have you working with your very own felted "material" in just a few hours. :)

Items Needed:
A sweater of at least 60 to 65% natural fibers (wool, lambswool, angora, cashmere, alpaca)
An old pillowcase
A large rubberband
Liquid laundry soap

1. I like to felt several sweaters at once to save water, energy, and time. It works best if you load the washing machine with sweaters of similar fiber content. For example, today I am felting all cashmere/cashmere blend sweaters.

2. Place each sweater in it's own pillowcase. If you ever find the zippered ones, those are awesome. Otherwise, after placing each sweater in it's own pillowcase, fasten the pillowcase securely (two or three wraps) with a large rubber band. Your washing machine, your family members and everyone else except the washing machine repair person will thank you for using the pillowcase tip. Otherwise you may plug up your machine with fiber lint and lint from different sweaters will stick to other sweaters! This is a special concern with those lovely, but fuzzy angora/angora blend sweaters.

3. Pour your normal amount of liquid laundry detergent into the bottom of the washing machine and then load your pillowcases of sweaters. Set your machine on max water level and on HOT, HOT (or hot, and then the warmest rinse setting you have available.) LEAVE THE LID OF THE WASHING MACHINE OPEN.

4.Start your machine for the longest agitation cycle available. The reason you have left the lid open is that so your machine will stop after the agitation cycle. It is human nature to get busy "doing something else" and forget to reset the agitation.

5. After your machine stops, check how well your sweaters are felting. My general rule of thumb, from years of experience, is as follows: Coarse/rough wools will only require one agitation cycle while finer/more delicate fibers and blends will take two to three total agitation cycles. If your sweaters are felted nicely, then close the lid and let your washing machine finish it's entire cycle. If they are NOT felted yet, simply restart the beginning of the agitation cycle again, leaving the lid open until you're sure everything is felted nicely.
(Don't fret over this too much when you are just beginning to learn how to machine wet felt. If it is under felted, you can repeat the entire process.)

6. After the machine cycle is totally completed (spin and all), remove your sweaters from their pillowcases and determine if they need further felting. If they're felted well, then hang over your shower rod to dry. If you hold it up to a light and can still see lots of light through the knit, then consider placing the sweaters back into their pillowcases and into the dryer, checking frequently so that you don't over felt. (If you do over felt, these pieces will work well for rugs, oven mitts, etc.)

If you choose not to use the pillowcases in the dryer (for example, if you are just drying one sweater by itself), then be sure and empty the lint filter frequently. You don't want a lint fire! Don't throw away the lint....this is all from the sweater fibers and makes the best stuffing for stuffed animals, pin cushions, and other such projects.

Many people believe/state that you can ONLY felt 100% wool sweaters. Simply. Not. True. While it may take longer to felt blends of >60%, they usually felt up very nicely. :)

Now, the fun begins. After your sweaters are dry, you can begin to deconstruct the sweaters. Don't laugh, but I usually don't plan a project for a particular sweater until this point...the sweater will usually "talk to me" and a project idea will form. You can cut up the sweaters as if they are fabric, because they are! No unraveling, just delicious, recycled natural fiber fabrics.

EnJOY and have fun!

p.s. Please consider supporting my fiber art public art project at:

**Sweaters may be substituted with other natural fiber garments. When using woven suit blazers, skirts, and other such items, I find it is best to cut out the lining first and then wash/felt the article of clothing. Sometimes I will even deconstruct these items, cut the woven wool into pieces and THEN wash/felt them. I have found that these woven clothing pieces felt much tighter/smaller, but they work well for stuffed animals, pillows and other pieced projects.

Feel free to repost this tutorial as long as you give credit back to Everything But The Oink with a link to this blog.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Now THIS is a Public Art Project-"Yarn Bombing" in Seattle

Today, on a cold, dreary day in the Pacific Northwest, I was driving through downtown Seattle. I'm just recovering from a serious bout with the flu and was frankly tired and grumpy about having to drive "in the city." All of a sudden, I just had to smile.....

While stopped at a busy intersection in Pioneer Square, my eye caught color....bright, vivid color and on TREES! The trees had striped knitted blankets rising up their massive trunks. I just had to open my car door and take a quick cell phone photo, as shown below.

Unfortunately, you can't see the color like I did, but after coming home, I researched "knitted trees" in Seattle and found this article about the art exhibit.

By Jessica Alberg
Whimsical Dr. Seuss trees and light poles are springing up in Pioneer Square’s Occidental Park, thanks to local artist Suzanne Tidwell.

Tidwell is participating in yarn bombing, sometimes considered a form of graffiti, which uses colorful yarn instead of paint or anything permanent. Tidwell, who posted on her web site that she was hired by the Seattle Parks & Recreation department to create an art installation for its summer ARTSparks program in Pioneer Square, is wrapping 16 small light posts, 16 tall light posts, 13 small bollards, 52 tall bollards, 16 flower pots of various sizes, and 42 trees in Occidental Park.

The installation will be up all summer, and the stripes (done in a palette of warm purples, reds, oranges, yellows and pinks) are designed not only to reflect the summer, or wish for summer, but to contrast with the dark, green square.

Before Occidental Park, Tidwell was already yarn bombing. Her yarn bombings have included tree stumps all over the city and a scarf for the famous Fremont Troll. Tidwell had hoped to have her installation up by June 11, the first International Yarn Bombing Day ever.

But the task of covering Occidental Park was too massive to complete by then, so the art project continues. Tidwell has been getting some help, posting a statement on her blog: “So... grab your most HOT, SHOCKING, and VIVID yarns... On your mark...get set...KNIT with me!”
Hopefully it will also bring a smile to your heart on this cold winter night.