Yarn Dying Experiment No 2. – Wilton Gel Food Colouring

I think I will call this colourway Moorland Heather…

I dyed this yarn using Wiltons gel food colour. 

We also dyed this. This is Drops Lima – I thought I could get my partner involved – allowing me to try 2 different methods using the same base ingredients!

We started by soaking the yarn in luke warm water then submerging it in a light dyebath (which consists of water, food dye and a liberal glug or 10 of vinegar).

We soaked the chunky wool in a dyebath on the hob.

We soaked the lima yarn in a dyebath in the slow cooker. 

Once they had soaked up all of the dyel we took them out and pressed out any excess liquid. We made up a couple of little pots of dye using the wiltons food colouring. 

This is where the process changed a little for the 2 yarns. 

For the wool yarn, we laid it out on a sheet of cling film and dropped the dye directly onto the yarn. 

We then wrapped it up into a parcel and placed it into a steamer basket and steamed it for around 45 minutes. 

For the lima yarn, we drained the water from the slow cooker then added just enough water and vinegar to cover the yarn. We then used a pippet to apply small amounts of dye all over. Once more, we let it sit with the lid on until the liquid in the dyebath ran clear. 

Then all that was left to do was rinse and lay out to dry.

Review:

Pros: As with the turmeric a big benefit to this method is how food safe it is! I only have a very small kitchen so I dont have the space for extra pans and utensils just for dying. Another pro is that there is no horrible smell left on the yarn after.

Cons: There arent too many cons to this method. The only one that I can really think of is how badly it stains your skin and your surfaces if you arent careful! Also, you may be able to see in the picture that my moorlandy yarn has a little bit of dark blue in it. I did not use blue dye. This is actually the black dye – so I guess if you wanted black, this wouldnt be the dying oprion for you. 

Yarn Dying Experiment No.1 – Natural Dyes

As you may remember a few blog posts back I shared with you some scrummy Welsh wool that I had bought on etsy from the lovely Charlies Angel Fibres.

Well, here is my first attempt at dying a skein. I was actually planning to try dying with Kool Aide, which I had purchased back in October, but when I got down to business, I couldnt find them for the life of me, so I decided to try one of my other planned methods instead. Natural dying, using Turmeric.

First of all, you need to soak the yarn. As it was wool, I had to be careful not to agitate it too much. I dont want it to felt after all! 

Then its time to make the dye bath. As I was dying a chunky 200g skein, I made up a larger dyebath, using 6 tbsp of turmeric, a good glug of white vinegar and 6 pints of water. You could probably half that if you were only dying a 50g or 100g skein.

First I placed the turmeric and vinegar in a pan. The amount of vinegar used should be enough to form a soft paste with the turmeric. 

Then I mixed in the water and brought to a boil. After that I dropped the temperature and let it simmer for around half an hour. 
At the end of the half hour I turned the hob off, allowed it to cool just a little so it was no longer bubbling, then placed the yarn in the pan. If it was a cotton yarn, I would suggest leaving the hob on when you put the yarn in, and continuing to simmer for a half hour before you turn the hob off, but as my yarn is 100% wool, the movement of the simmering bubbles would agitate the yarn too much amd felt it.so for wool, you need to wait until the liquid is still. 
After you have placed the yarn into the dye bath you should just leave it until the liquid is cool. A couple of hours is great.
Now it is time to rinse. Again, as I was using wool I had to be quite gentle at this stage. Rinse it until the water runs clear. Then squeeze it to release and evess water. To get the most water out, you can lay it down on a towel and roll it up then press it or stand on it. 

Finally hang to dry!
Now it is time to admire my newly made yarn! I dont know what I want to do with it but its beautiful. 

Review:

Pros: Being food safe is a big pro! I love that it is just natural ingredients, because it means I am not putting agressive chemicals into the water supply. I also love it because it is a very cheap and easy option.

Cons: The smell. It has dissipated but it hasnt gone away. Plus its dusty – by which I mean you have to let it dry then shake the life out of it – I shook it in the kitchen and in minutes my kitchen floor was yellow! Also, it kinda dyed my fingernails yellow, so I looked like a chronic smoker for a few days!

A New Skill!

Wahoooooo! I have just 1 more day then I finally go back to work! I am so excited! Being a lady of leisure has been lovely. I have been able to be more creative. I have been able to improve my blog tenfold. I have added more recipes to my dinner repetoire. And most importantly I have been able to relax – my last job was so stressful, it was so high pressure and it wore me down. A combination of poor pay (we were payed less than the living wage, and werent given any extra pay for overtime, bank holidays, or even for working boxing day), complete lack of respect from the company, ridiculous hours, and poor working conditions. Lack of any natural lighting (I often did 10 hour shifts in a room with no windows at all) meant I had to take supplements. We are supposed to get 70 micrograms of Vitamin D a week but I was diagnosed with a severe Vitamin D deficiency and was prescribed 1500 Micrograms a week for 4 weeks just to get my levels back to normal. As well as this I had to take iron and folic acid. So as you can imagine it takes time to recover. So the 3 months of being a lady of leisure has been very beneficial. But now I am chomping at the bit to get back to work!

Anyways, I am popping in today to share with you a new skill that I learnt! I learnt to Knit! Well, I have learnt to Arm Knit.

My mum and I went to a fayre together on Friday, and towards the end we came across a stall that was offering an arm knitting lesson with supplies for £5 with the promise you would walk away with a finished infinity scarf! Bargain! So we booked ourself in. This is what I made!

They had the yarn for sale too so I bought a ball and promptly on my arrival home showed off my new skill by my partner by making another.


I love them! They are so simple! I think I may just wack out a bunch of them as reserve gifts! 

The yarn is lovely a soft. it is Hayfield Ripple.

What do you think? If you are stuck for christmas gifts it is a super quick ski to learn and once you have mastered it you can make a scarf in 15 minutes and maybe a blanket in an hour or two! Yay for speedy projects!

My Homemade Flamethrower!

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I recently went to London MCM Comic-con. As my costume, I decided to go as Ripley, from the first Alien film. The costume itself wasn’t too complicated. I already had a grey boiler suit from when I was an X-Wing pilot when I went to the Starwars Secret Cinema last summer. I just had to attatch the relevent patches to the relevent places. The patches can be purchased on Ebay or Amazon for around a tenner. The complicated part was making a replica of the Nostromo flame thrower that she uses to fend of aliens! This is how I did it.

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First, I took a plastic child’s sniper rifle. I laid it down on foam mat. I then drew around the gun. Around that, I drew the shape of the flamethrower I was trying to recreate. Once done I took apart the plastic gun, cut away any parts that did not fit within the new design, and reassembled it. I cut out the flamethrower shape from the foam twice (one for either side) and glued them in the correct place to each side of the plastic gun. Once this was done, I  used offcuts to fill the gaps between the two foam shapes and then used some thin craft foam to seal off the edges and join the 2 sides all the way around. Finally, I added a bit of detail with some scrap wire and some foam shapes for buttons and vents. To make the back of the gun, I cut the lid and neck off of a Dr Pepper bottle, then glued it to the back. For the nozzle of the gun, I used the neck of the Dr Pepper bottle with the lid turned the other way around.
Once this initial assembly was done, I papermacheted it all. This was to make it more uniform, to smooth down all the rough edges and to make it easier to paint.

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The next thing to do was spray paint it. I painted the gun and also 2 shampoo bottles. One in red, and one on grey, as gas bottles for the gun. In hindsight, I should have paper macheted the bottles too, because the paint did not stick well at all!
For the final touches, all that was required was some detailing. I used a dry brush to stipple black paint onto the gun then a sponge to mottle it a bit. I also mixed a paint close but not identical to the spray paint, and stippled that on as well to add a bit of an aged worn look to it.

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I am pretty proud of my handy work! I think it turned out really well. I got quite a few compliments about it at Comic-con. I will definately not be as daunted next time I need to make a replica prop.

A Cute Gift

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How cute is this! It is an adorable little brooch I made for my nan ages ago!  It was super simple to make and only required a few basic items. Here is how I did it!

You will need:
Materials:
2 Contrasting Fabrics
1 Button
Fabric Glue
1 Brooch Pin
Tools:
Die Cutter
Nesting Dies

First I chose 2 contrasting fabrics. I selected them from a bag of scraps I bought from a fabric shop in Maritime Greenwich. The fabrics themselves were expensive per meter, but they had an offcuts and scraps basket where you could fill a bag for just £5. So I filled it full of wonderful colours and textures. I thought these fabrics were really beautiful together.

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I used my die cutter to cut out 2 leafs from one fabric and one from the other, using my set of X-Cuts Nesting Leaf Dies. If you do not have a die cutter I am sure you could cut it out by hand. It would just be a bit more fiddly and time consuming.

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After you have cut the leaves out, all you have to do is layer them up and glue them together, then add the button.

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Finally, glue on the brooch pin to the back. If I had thought of it earlier,  I probably would have sewn the brooch pin onto the largest leaf before I had assembled it, but I didn’t think of this until after I has glue it all together.

And that is it. All done. This brooch makes a perfect gift. And you can customise it how you like for different people, using different shapes, fabric patterns or buttons to make it unique!

Poundland Ice Cream Candle Craft

Hello all. I was wandering around poundland the other day, and I came across the candles section. It occurred to me that you could make some really cool things. I had wanted to make a candle for a while now, but the stuff you need to get together can come to quite a lot of money. So I thought I would come up with a thrifty alternative. Here it is –
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What do you think? Cute right. Here is how I did it!

You will need:
1 pack of vanilla tea lights
1 ice cream sundae glass
1 pack of cupcake sprinkles
Some scrap cotton string
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Method:
1. First take the tea lights and remove them from their metal cases. Then cut them in half, which will release the wicks. I used around 20 of them
2. Place them in a pan. Then turn the hob on at a low temperature. It will take a while for them to melt down, but it means you have better control over the process. You don’t want it to boil as this could be dangerous!
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3. Now we need to prepare the wick. All you need for this is some cotton string. I twisted 3 strands together but in hindsight I think one would have sufficed . Just take a length of string and drop it in the wax for a few seconds. Then remove it with a fork and leave it to set. This should only take a few seconds, but to speed it up you could run it under a cold tap.
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4. Now we should prepare the sundae glass. Remove and stickers and make sure it is clean. Then run some water into the glass and swish it around so the inside of the glass is wet but not dripping. Pour out any excess. Now pour in the hundreds and thousands. Roll the glass around allowing the sprinkles to stick to the side of the glass. You will loose some of the sprinkles when you pour in the wax so be liberal. Make the sprinkles as thick as you can.
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5. Now it is time to add the wick and wax. Take the wick and secure it between two pencils or chopsticks. This will keep it suspended in the wax in the correct position. Pour in the wax to the desired level.
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6. Now we must wait. It will take a good few hours for this much wax to set. If you would like to speed it up, you can place it in the fridge. Just be careful not to disturb it too much as that can lead to a less clear edge around the top.
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What do you think. I am really proud of this candle. I think it would make a really sweet handmade gift. And the best part is, it only cost me about £2.50 to make. But it looks like it is worth so much more!

Let me know if you have a go. I would love to see your finished result. Or if you have any tips on thrifty handmade gifts, let me know!

I Am Going To Hyper Japan!

I am Heading To Hyper Japan!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! We got early bird tickets so are getting in for just a tenner! Bargain!

For those of you unaware, THIS is Hyper Japan.

Its a 3 day celebration of all things Japan, including food, music, culture, video game, anime and of course, COSPLAYING! Which means I needed to come up with a costume!

I decided pretty quickly what I wanted to do. Something I hadn’t seen before. I was going to go as a cloud of soot sprites! Crazy, I know, but thats what it is. This is a sootsprite, if you are unaware:

This idea means a lot, and I mean a lot, of black pom poms and googly eyes! So off to eBay I went. Shortly after, little bags of poms and eyes started to arrive in the post.

Unfortunately when it came to attaching the eyes, I realised I am not quite as dexterous as I thought I might be, so my poor partner had to be bribed to help me (being in electronics means he has a much steadier hand than me). Bless him – he stuck about 600 4mm googly eyes to 300 tiny 10mm pom poms! He sure deserves a medal! And I did some too – But the pompoms I dealt with were 24mm and the eyes were 10mm, so not quite as fiddly as his were.  Here we are mid marathon:

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It took a lot of time, but we got there in the end!

As for the skirt, I needed a tonne of organza and lace, to get the soot cloud effect I was looking for. I ended up with 7 layers of organza in total. I used a very simple method of machine sewing the organza to the elastic and then hand sewing the gathers.

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I will soon sew the lace in. Keep your eyes peeled for the finished article! Prepare to me amazed (or confused, depending on your familiarity with GHIBLI)