Spring Cleaning: handmade storage solutions

Spring Cleaning is awesome! It feels so good to remove clutter and bring joy back into the home. This year as we clean, we are also working on updating items to reflect the way we feel. If you have read Love the Home your in that I wrote a few months ago, then you will understand what I mean.

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For us, that means creating a home that is full of both functional and beautiful items. And also, to showcase our own talents and skills-not what is readily available at thousands of stores across America.

Today was the day to get rid of the plastic toy containers, that no matter how hard I have tried to make them work over the past couple of years, they just don’t. The things that are organized into them look great for about 5 minutes.. The shelf that used to hold them took up wall space we didn’t have, leaving rooms to feel cramped, and they just don’t bring joy.

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So as I cleaned them out and sorted the items, I decided that I should just sew up a bunch of bags to hold and hide the stuff. In the past I attempted the method of toy storage by purchasing zipper garment bags. These work great, except they can’t hang and they don’t bring me joy when I see them.

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I keep seeing all of the great things out there on Pinterest, and that is where I went again today to visualize what would work for me.

This was my criteria:

  • Fast and Easy to sew
  • To use what is on hand (dual purpose: spring clean the sewing supplies by using it up!)
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to store
  • Attractive to the eye

After taking inventory of supplies and searching tutorials, I whipped up 3 bags in about 2 1/2 hours (including interruptions from kids).

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They aren’t perfect. I didn’t take time to iron, or even make sure each piece of fabric was cut perfectly straight. But they look great, were fast and easy,  I didn’t have to make a trip to the store to complete them and most importantly they are functional! Also, I made sure to double stitch every seam so that they will hold up to the abuse they are sure to get.
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I want to make a few more, so the next article in this series will have a tutorial for you!

For now, here are some of the places I visited and found inspiration:

Toy Sack with tabs

Hanging toy storage

Lego sack

Hanging laundry bag

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

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Sewing Tutorial: Pretty Little Denim Pouch

Denim is one of  my favorite fabrics to re-purpose with. It might be because we get a lot of holes in the knees of pants around here, and there is only so many times you can patch a hole. So, when the pants are beyond repair (or the mending basket is overflowing), they get tossed into the denim box to be utilized in another way.

It’s readily available, and comes in soft shades of blue-pretty much anything goes with denim. It looked great even using it for the peg-loom rug!

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To make the Pretty Little Denim Pouch, you will need:

  • any denim (preferably an old pair of jeans, any size will work)
  • a zipper that is roughly the size of the pouch you want to make
  • scissors
  • sewing machine (or super awesome hand-sewing skills-denim is tough!)

Some optional supplies:

  • scrap fabric
  • embroidery floss
  • embroidery needle
  • button or other notions

*Disclaimer: my sewing technique tends to be more towards the “just wing it” side than the “perfection is a must” side of things. My projects always tend to turn out best when I just allow for creativity. It just comes naturally.* (winky face)

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This is a pant leg to a small-humans pair of pants. I would guess about a 4T or 5T size.

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After cutting off the remnant of the knee hole at the top, it measured about 10 inches in length.

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The length is about 5 inches before cutting off the hemmed edge.

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I prefer to cut this off too, but you could potentially leave it on…your end seam would just have to be to the inside of this since it is too thick to sew through.

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After all of the trimming, it is now about 8 inches in length. I really like making pouches and bags from pant legs because you can utilize the existing side seams. Here is a full picture of what our pant leg looks like now:

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The next step is to decide on your zipper placement.

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The zipper I had to use was roughly 9 inches in length.

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The length ended up being just barely too short for the fabric. I thought it could possibly work, but it just wouldn’t grow…more on that later. (I warned you about my natural ability to “wing it”)

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Once, the zipper was in it’s happy place, the fabric needed to be cut to make a place to insert it. To do this, I just simply unzipped it and cut down the middle. After cutting, the pant leg now looks like this when opened up:

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If your pant leg or fabric was long enough to fit your zipper you can scroll down to where it says “Continue with Plan A“. Unless of course you decide you would like to have pretty fabric ends on your pouch, then just proceed as normal.

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This pretty piece of flannel was leftover from a blanket project long ago.

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The flannel was cut to the width of the soon-to-be pouch. Then it was cut in half:

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Next, I did a test layout to see how the measurements were. I never really decided how long to make the fabric accent on each end of the pouch since it only needed an extra inch or so, it wasn’t something I was concerned with. But if you lean more toward the “perfection is a must” style of sewing, you may prefer to decide this ahead of time. I found that mine were going to be too wide making the length of the finished pouch be longer than I wanted. So, I just folded one of the pieces in half and cut again:

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This gave me two pieces that would work much better. These ended up measuring around 9″ by 5″.

One more test to make sure the length is right for the zipper:

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Time to take it to the sewing machine.

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Putting right sides together, each accent end was sewn to the denim. There was not large seam allowance, I just ran it right along the foot.

(Continue with Plan A)

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Folding at the original pant leg seams, I arranged it and tested out the zipper placement one more time.

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Flipping the zipper directly over, lines it up for sewing the first side in place.

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My machine does have a zipper foot, but since this was just a quick little project I chose to not change it out. The zipper foot does allow for an easier made seam, so you may want to use it if you have one. Instead, I just put my needle in the far right position, with my fabric on the right side of the machine. If it were on the left, you would want the needle in the far left position.

Do the same thing to the other side:

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Line up the edges with right sides together, be sure to check your needle position before you begin sewing. Notice this time my fabric is on the left, so the needle is also positioned to the far left.

Turning it right side out, check to see if the zipper seams are secure.

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Once, it is sewn well the first time, sew each side again making it a double-stitched seam for durability. As mentioned above, my mending basket tends to be full, so fixing a zipper on this pouch would probably be low on the priority mending list. Making sure it won’t come apart from the pouch is important.

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Open the zipper and then turn the pouch inside out so that the end seams can now be sewn.

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I noted on mine that the “tails” of the zipper needed sewn before moving on the the end seams.

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Lining the edges up sew this edge closed. Be sure to check your needle position and other settings from sewing the zipper in. You may also need to change the foot if you had changed to use your zipper foot.

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After doing this, check the seams again. Mine had a hole.

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I ended up sewing the hole closed on sort of a diagonal.Because of the zipper the needle couldn’t reach to sew it shut doing a straight seam.

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It mostly fixed the issue. I could have messed with it some more but determined to fix it later with some hand sewing.

Ta Dah!

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Our Pretty Little Pouch is complete-minus embellishments.

Here is a photo of one without the accent fabric ends and with embellishment:

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It will work great for pencils or whatever pleases the user.

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I like them for holding crochet hooks, knitting needles, or other related tools. It would also  make a great cosmetic bag or for hair accessories.

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I love the embroidery and crochet button flower on this one. Decorate yours and share a photo!

 

Here is another type of bag that I have made with a denim pant leg:

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The hem of the pant is the top of the bag and all I did was sew the other end shut. For decoration on the front I hand-stitched a thrifted doily. And on the back, machine sewed some belt loops from the pants to hold a strap:

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The strap is a belt-like accent piece that was around the wrist of a jacket. The other one was missing so this one was taken off for repurposing. This bag is a favorite for small knitting or crochet projects. It hangs really nicely on my wrist and I can work on my project while walking or standing in line.

Let me know how you liked this little tutorial and post a picture on the Facebook page if you try it out!

Be a Butterfly!

Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

Who Made That?

How do we get from Fiber to Fabric?

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I can tell you, that what I have learned about the fiber arts these last couple of years has blown. my. mind. When I was just a consumer-crafter that bought yarn at the store and then put it on some needles, the only thought about the handmade process was that something was created from yarn or fabric using various tools and the skill of the crafter.

It goes way, way, waaaay further back than that, before the crafter designs, before the materials are bought, before it resembles anything that is useful. The process that brings the fiber to the point of a yarn or fabric is filled with many steps. The vocabulary alone while learning about the fiber arts is astounding:

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This is not a complete list! Many of the tools, techniques, and materials have their own set of vocabulary and processes.

Just so that you can get a glimpse at each general step in bringing raw fiber from its natural state on the animal (or in the field) to a fabric that you wear or use in other ways, I have chosen a few videos that showcase part of the process.Words can only explain so much and too much technical stuff can be boring, so I have tried to keep them short. Keep in mind there are zillions (maybe not that many-but a lot!) of ways to harvest fibers, process them, and produce textiles. What is outlined here is just a few possibilities out of many:

Natalie from Namaste Farms can shear an Alpaca all by herself!

 

 

Even when shearing our goats, we like to have a helping hand.

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(I should mention, that first you have to catch the animal and that can be a challenge in itself! Natalie has a good video showing her technique for that as well. We have yet to master it….)

Once animal fiber has been harvested it needs to go through a process called skirting where you remove the edges of the fleece that gets the most icky and bleached by the sun. The skirt is not desirable for garments or other things that should be soft, but it is great for rug making and other crafts! During this process vegetable matter (vm-hay, grass, sticks etc.) is also picked out as much as possible.

A lot of raw fibers are sold at this stage to the spinner or crafter. When they receive it, the next step is to wash it:

This video from Blue Mountain Handcrafts is one of my favorites because she washes several different types and I enjoy learning from Beth, she is great.

After the washing step is when some decisions are made on how to prep it for spinning or other crafting. Some, may blend it with other fibers, use a drum carder, use hand cards, or just hand pick it until it is fluffy and ready for use.

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close up of hand carders and alpaca fiber

Last year I wrote an article on our sister-site: Twisted & Plied, that overviewed how I process Alpaca fiber from washing to hand cards to spinning. Read it, or just continue on with the video presentation-the next videos share some of the same info as in this article:

From Wool to Wear: a look at processing Alpaca

If you only take time to watch one of these videos in this post I suggest it is this next one. Lois is a hoot! She teaches us all about traditional spinning from different countries and dresses in period costume for the videos. After this one if you have the time, watch some of her other videos, she has very interesting history to share!

Once the fiber is processed and prepped it can be handspun or machine spun. I stumbled upon this short video of a Tibetan woman spinning with a support spindle. She tells her interviewer that it is so simple there is nothing to explain. But then he explained to her that:

we have forgotton this ancient art of hand spinning wool as we do other chores.

After that she was willing to share. There are lots of other spinning techniques and tools that will have to be looked at in another post sometime, so for now enjoy this “ancient art of handspinning wool” as one example:

Here is a picture of my spinning wheel:

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To bring things to a close, we will end with this talented Fastest Knitter in North America. Speed knitting is a real competition! Not one that I will probably ever strive for, but wow-those who do have got some real talent!

(Yes! She is knitting her husband a sweater out of their dogs fur! Some really interesting things get spun up in the fiber art realm!)

To get yarn transformed into a fabric it can be knitted,crocheted, or woven on a loom. These processes and others can happen with hand or machine or a combination. Most of what we wear now is done by machine, but handicraft artist are making a come back. Many handmade items are now easily found and purchased online.

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every time I see these booties I knit for my last baby (who is two now), I want to cast-on and make some more! They are so cute!

There was a lot to take in as far as information and videos to watch in this article. The goal was to bring an awareness at just how much work goes into that handmade item you bought or was given as a gift as it transformed from fiber to fabric. Or, even if you were the crafter, hopefully it gave you insight into the effort that comes from others to prep your fiber of choice before you work your own magic.

 

If this were a book I could have easily delved into the raising of the animals, the growing of the plants and how they are processed. But it’s not-yet. We did not even discuss the behind the scenes designers who dye fibers, make blends, and write patterns.

Thanks for being a friend!

And thank you to all the shepherds, farmers, ranchers, shearers, pickers, blenders, spinners, designers, knitters, crocheters, weavers-fiber artists every where for sharing your talents with us!

Heidi

I built a support spindle from stuff around the house! Click here for the tutorial!

Free Mitten Pattern!!!

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I did it! The mitten pattern I have been  writing of the past couple of weeks is finally written down and published on Ravelry.

To be honest, it is my very first self-published pattern. It is exciting! I tested it and the second mitten turned out just like the first so hopefully when others try it out they too will have success.

You can find the FREE PATTERN for Easy Custom Fit Mittens right here under the “free patterns” page.   *as of 1/18/17 the pattern has been updated to correct the missing thumb directions!

You can also find it on Ravelry to save in your library or que and it will link you directly to the above page.

Feel free to share this awesome new Free Mitten Pattern with your friends!

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To schedule a Skill Development Workshop and learn how to make these mittens with one-on-one instruction send me an email: knittyheidi@gmail.com or a Facebook Message!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heid

A New Life to Old Traditions

The crispness of fall air has been on the end of the summer breezes and felt in the coolness of the morning air this past week.

I am attempting to find the “glad”(as Pollyanna would say) in the change of weather. There still seems so much on the to-do list before the first snow fall, and in these Idaho mountains there isn’t much time between the fall of the color-changed leaf to the drifting down of the first snowflakes.

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Nonetheless, the seasons must change as God designed, and we must prepare.

There is a reserved excitement going on in my creative soul. It is begging to be let out from where I have kept it while completing the day to day tasks required of me.

 

My hands have been aching to spin yarn, sew clothing for my children, make rugs for the new kitchen floor and curtains for the new windows.  The bite-sized knitting projects I have been working up as I have moments to sit have not been enough to satisfy this hunger.

However, it has been fulfilling to complete a pair of mittens and write a new pattern for them. There are many many patterns that would have been suitable to use. My Ravelry library is hosting several of them right now as is my knitting Pinterest board.

Why did I wing it?

It was that need to be creative that did it. The pattern was kept simple, as it should be for the purpose of teaching others how to knit in the round.

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As I have read about the historical methods of handicrafts, I noticed something: everything from the simplest design to the most complex was done in a manner that could be remembered. 

I read in No Idle Hands by Anne L. MacDonald, an account of a woman who pulled from her closet a bedspread that had been started by a relative (perhaps her mother-I don’t remember for sure). She was inspired to finish the project and remembered being taught the pattern when she was young but couldn’t recall how the stitches went. Her aunt (I believe) was still living and had also been knowledgable about this particular stitch pattern. Over the phone, her aunt was able to think about and bring to remembrance this now heirloom pattern for the bedspread. The woman worked diligently and finished the project, giving it new life and a home outside of the closet.

It was such an inspiring story!

There was also a picture of the bedspread-and believe me this pattern was on the complex side of the measurement of skill.

That being said and in answer to my above question: why not?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a treasure trove of patterns ready to emerge from your creative mind like the aunt in the story?

This is one thing I hope to impart to my students: Use written patterns to enhance your skills, and pictures to inspire.

Then, just create!

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It is very liberating to not be dependent upon a written pattern, and likewise- I am grateful to have the resources this modern day offers to learn from since these skills did not continue on in the past couple of decades in my heritage.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

p.s. The pattern for the mittens will be ready soon, so make sure you click to follow by email to get it in your inbox right away! 

If you are ready to learn how to knit in the round and want to take the mitten course-contact me either in the comments, by email (knittyheidi@gmail.com), or our FB page!

For information on beginner lessons go here.

To read more about my yarn spinning please visit our sister-site : TwistednPlied

 

 

 

Seven Pairs of Mittens

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. (Proverbs 31:21)

If you are a Christian woman, it is likely that you are familiar with the description of a virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.

I used to read that chapter of scripture and be in awe. This woman that is described was very much a fictional character in my mind. How could she do so much?

Now I know different. I no longer see unreachable goals when I read those versus. There are tangible and obtainable activities in the list of virtues. But only after my heart and mind was enlightened by the Holy Ghost. Showing me that homemaking is a high calling given to us from God.

I might see the virtues as attainable now, but that doesn’t mean I think it is an easy task or that it is simple for me to do.  I have to take baby steps.

Last winter I made some lovely little thrummed mittens for my daughter. They are knit with regular acrylic yarn, but the thrums are wool roving. I hadn’t ever really thought of knitting mittens before.

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A pattern for this and an article all about what “thrums” are will likely emerge sometime this winter. Be sure to let me know you are interested in the comments and that will give me motivation to do it!

These cozy gloves kept my little girls hands so warm! It was amazing! The kids would go outside to play and her fingers would be the only ones that the cold had not gotten to yet. And remember- they were not knit with pure wool. Lanolized wool would have been water resistant and even warmer!

This year I have a tangible goal: To knit all of my  kids a pair of mittens-and hopefully myself.

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This photo is already out-dated…how does that happen?!? The baby is now almost 2 and my oldest is 15!

There are seven children. Counting the ones I made last year (even though they don’t meet my new standards of wool they still keep fingers warm!), I have two pairs finished and one that needs pieced together still. So that is almost 3 completed pairs of mittens. I think I can do this! Then as the Proverb at the top of this article stated,  I won’t need to be afraid of the snow for my household. It also combats this virtue in the 27th verse:

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

My hand will surely be busy these next couple of months!

And like the multi-tasker that I am, this goal has had duel purpose. I get to teach a Mitten Workshop beginning next week. For this I have been working up a fabulous pattern that I will share here as soon as I finish testing it out.

Here is a sneak peek:

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Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Click here to sign up for the very occasional newsletter and other tidbits…

Click here to read more about the knitting workshops offered….

Click here to read more about wool and other fiber-related fun on my sister-site…

6 reasons to knit a dishcloth

 

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Almost a year ago we had a fire at our house. It’s been a rough road and the one thing that has kept me optimistic is that I finally get to remodel the kitchen!  We just barely started this work a few weeks ago and are just now beginning to fill back in the blank slate.

One of the things that I have really wanted to do is to bring the element of handmade to my kitchen space. Rugs, curtains, towels, potholders-all these things are in my project list. The first place I started…..knitting dishcloths!

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It also happens to be  where I start beginning knitters in my workshops. Here is why:

  1. simple patterns look beautiful
  2. it’s a small project that is actually useful
  3. if there are holes or misshapen, it will still wash the dishes
  4. cotton yarn is not stretchy, so beginners learn tension faster
  5. it is a great project to take on the go, it can be knit anywhere

 

#6- We shouldn’t neglect to make our kitchens pretty:

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Click here to find the beginners dishcloth pattern.

Click here to read about the fire (posted on my fiber farmstead site).

Click here to sign up for the DSW newsletter and special announcements.

Click here to learn more about the knitting workshops.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi