Showing posts with label Handmade - Knitting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Handmade - Knitting. Show all posts

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Thinking about Yarn Thrift

by Amanda of Amanda Brooke

If you have been by my blog recently you would have seen my latest creative achievement...a cardigan I am a little obsessed with.

Originally I tried to make it in a finer DK weight yarn from my yarn stash, but I was getting frustrated with the 'loose' structure and I didn't have enough to double-up the yarn to make a thicker ply. So I went out and bought some new balls of yarn. It wasn't a huge investment as this project uses very little, but it was still new yarn and I felt a bit guilty about buying new yarn when I had so much at home. What made the bit of guilt turn into a little more guilt was when I went out and bought I just had to start another cardigan after enjoying this one so much!

This guilt has got me thinking about a few things. Firstly that perhaps I shouldn't feel guilty at all.

  • I am making something that brings me great joy.
  • It costs less for me to make this garment than most of the knits available in shops today
  • I am able to choose to use 'pure' fibres compared to most knits available in shops made from acrylics
  • I am making something that is practical not unnecessary

The second thing that I have been thinking about is if I can be more thrifty with my current yarn stash or if I could make another cardigan without actually going out and buying more 'new' yarn.

My ideas:

  • Unwind a project I know I'll never finish if I think I can use the yarn for something else
  • I could make the next cardigan stripey? I could tie or use same 'like' yarns together and use up odds and ends for a scrappy and unique look?
  • Source the yarn from local garage sales, op shops (have purchased some from an op shop once before but find it hard to determine the ply/fibre without packaging), clearing sales
  • Advertise locally for a particular yarn I am seeking. Maybe someone has something in their stash they no longer need.
  • Save 'pocket' money to use towards new yarn purchases and not feel I need to start something 'right now'!!! Practice patience in other words.

Do you have any yarn thrift suggestions? How do you curb or justify spending money on new/raw items for your hand made creations?

Amanda x

Sunday, 27 November 2011

We're Different And That's OK

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

Yesterday, my email provider had a front page article about the biggest mistakes people make when giving Christmas gifts; totally out of my character, I clicked on the article and began to read it. Lo and behold, one of the biggest mistakes, according to the author, anyone can make is to give homemade gifts, particularly knitted items. Apparently such things are ghastly and embarrassing for the giver and receiver. Who knew?!

When I got over my initial one second check in (I had just, the hour before, finished putting together a few little handmade gifts) I enjoyed a little laughter at the hilarity of it all. Not only did the article suggest homemade things are totally inappropriate, but so is anything useful, including some items of clothing, giftcards etc. And I began to think of the hilarity of it all, one person, who came across as incredibly spoiled and pampered, a person who is probably quite young and used to having money spent on them, is dictating what is acceptable/normal/OK. Well, here's the truth, his/her norm is certainly not my norm.

And there in that little article was the theme of my life over the last few months. As I navigate motherhood and find what other parents view as normal is vastly different to our life and the norm I want for my children. As I chat with colleagues and hear their views on necessities (a family can not live in less than 2500 square feet, apparently, nor can they function without TVs in their van), I've come to really think about being different and being OK with being different.

We are all on a journey. In my teenage years I desperately wanted to fit in and truth be told, for most of those years didn't. Sometimes, when I compare "notes" with the lives others have, I fleetingly think how nice it would be to have what they have, because in the throws of it, we are all human beings with needs and emotions. But the truth is, I'd rather be different. I'd rather put thought into what comes into our home, than accept the toys a manufacturer tells me my children need. I'd rather give money to help causes, then fret over which new car/van/TV/laptop to buy. I'd rather spend a couple of hours making a dishcloth, then pick up 10 for $2 and I'd certainly rather have to shop at 4 or 5 local shops/farmers stalls, than go to one big conglomerate and feel proud of how much more I could get for the same money.

Sometimes being different is challenging. Sometimes I can feel too different. Sometimes it would be easier not to think critically about each choice, not to have to wonder where something came from, or how its production impacted others. Sometimes it would be lovely to simply roll up at a particular fast food joint and be done with dinner in 2 minutes flat. But the truth is, 99.9999% of the time, I am totally head over heals in love with this different life, bad gift giving (knitted items!) and all. My greatest hope, is that 20 years from now, my children are OK with being different too.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

This Journey Is Like Learning To Knit

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches

I think, when I started out on this journey, I thought it was going to be flip flops and applesauce - also known as having more time to do things I love (like wear flip flops) and learn the skills to make things (like applesauce). Oh how wrong I was! For me this downshifting, simple living has at times not been so simple, although it has certainly been memorable and mostly humorous too! There have been many mistakes, teary days, joys and a whole lot of frustration. It has at times, felt all too easy to be misunderstood and some days, living a life which felt far too different from the norm; I've yeared to be part of the simple living, homesteading, crafting posse but didn't have the land or crafting skills to make that happen. Finally, I documented here sometime earlier this year that I was going to simply take my time to get to where I want to be, with no self-induced pressure, no time lines, no stress and what do you know, suddenly it became a little easier. After what seems like years trying to learn to knit, making mistake after mistake (most of which I had no clue how to repair!), starting and re-starting, switching patterns and getting a whole slew of advice, I just decided to knit and knit and knit, adding in a few rows here and there, in my very own style, with no set pattern, all in my own time. Slowly but surely it got easier and over a period of about a month my first real knitting creation was born (pun intended); suddenly I was filled with renewed hope.

Life is a journey, finding the simple, green & frugal lifestyle that is right for you in your particular season can be bumpy, it can be a bit like one step back two steps forward (although sometimes it feels like one step forward two steps back!) and we'll each succeed (at what success is for us!) in our own way, in our own colours, with our very own stripes, in our own time...and let's just say, this knitting gig is here to stay!

Did you ever have a moment where you realized just how far you'd come on your journey? If you are a knitter, what was your first knitting creation?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Frugal decorating

Posted by: Paul Gardener
A posse ad esse (From possibility to reality)

OK, let's state the obvious here. I'm a guy. I may like a lot of things that are regularly considered "woman's" work - gardening, cooking, canning...etc etc - but the plain facts are that I'm guy through and through and to be honest I decorate like a guy. So keep in mind, the decorating I refer to in this entry was done by my wonderfully tasteful wife. I am merely the blunt instrument to make things turn out the way she sees them in her mind. That said, last night as we worked together on a project for our family room, it made me think to myself that this project really illustrated well the way we do a lot of the decorating around our place and that would fit in well with the topics of this blog. Frugal Decorating.

You see A~, that's my wife for those of you who may not read my personal blog regularly, has good taste and decorates very well. She often gets compliments from friends and neighbors or is asked to help someone else with a room or two at their own house. The thing is, the way she decorates really doesn't work for helping others, at least not directly. She'll regularly see something at a store, or in a magazine that she really likes the look of but refuses to run out and just buy the stuff she sees. (Bless her!!) Instead, she keeps that idea in mind, or talks to me about it, and we often find a way to make it happen either for much less, or sometimes even for free. Last nights project was one of the latter occasions. This is it hanging above out love seat in the family room.
We just call it the stick picture for now, but we're both really happy with it. It's something that she thinks she saw in a magazine, but honestly can't remember. A couple of weekends ago we were down in Salt Lake City and she saw some bundles of sticks for sale for $15.00 and wanted to pick them up so that we could make this for ourselves. I knew of a place near our house where the city had trimmed some tall brush and left it sit all summer on the side of the road, so suggested that instead. When I saw the city cut and stack the sticks, I knew I'd be able to do something with them, I just wasn't sure what. That's really one of the first habits to build for yourself if you are really serious about being frugal, to see things not necessarily as they are but as they could be.
After heading out and collecting a good selection of the branches, we figured out how we'd build the frame and rounded up the tools. A plain wood saw, some pruning shears and some natural fiber twine were the basics, but I also used a small air stapler (not pictured) to attach the branches to each other. Tools are investments around our house and have paid for themselves many times over.
The project was a simple thing. Staple the pieces together, bind the corners with the twine, prune off the ends of the twigs to fit the frame and hang on wall. A~'s happy, I'm happy and our pocketbook is all the better for it!

As I thought about this post, I realized how much of our home has been furnished or decorated with this kind of frugal, re-use mentality; our family room for example. I thought I'd run down a few things. The "stick picture" is of course the latest addition, but a lot of this room came to us via non-commercial means. The pictures on the wall are ones that we took up in the mountains and placed in thrift store frames that we spray painted, the table on the right was a garage sale find and the coffee table, even though it matches perfectly with the shelves and hutch, was picked up at the local landfill. Yep, the DUMP. Ours has a drop off area for useful items, and I picked it up there while dropping off some other stuff.
Here's a couple of pictures of our front room (below). It's got a lot of interesting frugal options in it as well.

The small table was a garage sale find that has been repainted a couple of times and used for different purposes over the years, The lamp was new once, but has been re-used and re-worked into so many "decorating schemes" that it's taken on a life of it's own. That's another great way to make the most of things. Just because they don't seem like the right piece for a particular room, doesn't mean they can't be made to work in another. Finally, the pillow and blanket are things that I'm really proud of her for. She wanted a matching throw for this room, but wanted it cheap and just the way she pictured in her mind, so she knitted it herself. The pillow is a knock off that she made of an IKEA pillow she saw and loved, but that was in color. She looked the picture of it up online, modified it a little to suit her needs and created a pattern, and then cross-stitched it herself.
This table is something that we picked up for $10.00 at a thrift store about 5 years ago. It was actually a full size kitchen table that we had in another room serving as a computer desk for a couple of years. Last year, it was taken apart, remodeled and turned into the runner table (is that what their called?) that you see here. Even the custom sized painting on the wall was a frugal creation. I built the frame stretched some canvas and painted it for A~ last winter.

My point here isn't to try and show off our decorations, but rather to showcase the idea that good design and decorating don't have to stretch a budget and certainly don't need to cost a fortune. If you keep your eyes out for solid items, reusable items or good designs, with a little creativity and some paint, a lot can be done. Some things will work out well, some things won't. Those that don't can be re-purposed again and tried another way. Look at the things that are being wasted all around us, and make it a game to try to figure out at least one other thing that it could be used for. Pretty soon, you won't be able to not do it.
Good luck.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

warmth, a basic need

Beauty That Moves
If you are like me and are very much a beginner when it comes to knitting, you might appreciate this post. I have the most basic knitting skills imaginable. I aspire to someday whip up delicate sweaters for my daughter, and cozy, durable socks for my husband. Up until recently my skills and knitting experience had never moved beyond making a simple scarf. With winter coming and our plans to keep the heat turned down a few degrees this year, I knew my family would need some extra things to keep warm. I decided to stretch and grow my freshman knitting, not quite a sophomore yet... we'll call this summer school. I set about knitting myself a couple of simple rectangles, folded them each in half lengthwise, and sewed them up the side leaving a hole for the thumb. It couldn't be any simpler, I will give basic instructions at the end of the post.
My hands get cold easily and I love how practical fingerless gloves can be. Wearing these gloves I can sew, fold laundry, put away dishes, tidy, vacuum, play with my daughter, knit, embroider, unpack groceries, write, start a fire in the fireplace, make the bed, play cards... so many things. It's a little difficult to cook or wash dishes, but I have noticed they really do stay on my hands for much of the day.

If you plan on making some simple, handmade gifts this holiday holiday season you may want to add this idea to your list. The gloves use a small amount of yarn making them economical and they do knit up quickly. There are of course far more interesting patterns and styles to be found on the internet, but these were made with the beginning knitter in mind.

You will need:
-size 5 needles
-1 ball (120 yards) worsted weight yarn - wool is warmest
-yarn needle with large eye

-cast on 34 stitches for adult small/medium
-knit until it is 8 inches in length -garter stitch
-cast off as neatly as possible, weave in the yarn end
-thread the yarn needle with yarn, an arms length.
-fold in half lengthwise and sew up the side leaving an opening where you would like the thumb to be. I prefer the glove to reach over my first knuckles, that is how I gauge where I want my thumb hole to be. Finish the seam and turn right side out, repeat to the other glove, you're done!

Here is a useful link as I am sure my instructions could use a little enhancement by knitters who are far more experienced...

I hope you enjoy this simple idea. I'm imagining these little gloves warming busy, working hands all over the world...

My husband's Grandmother is a homesteader. She told me once that the more she can do for herself, the safer she feels. I really understand what she means by that, I imagine many of you do as well.