Thursday, 28 January 2010

Tutorial: Crocheting with Plastic Bags

Hello! Given my new love of crocheting, I thought I'd post a bit of a tutorial showing you how to use that most controversial of carrying apparatus, the plastic bag, to make something far more useful in its old-age! Plastic bags are a bit of a *ahem* discussion point in my mum takes reusable bags everywhere she goes, and never ever brings home any plastic ones; my dad forgets (refuses? hence the discussions...!) to take reusable bags anywhere he goes, and inevitably brings plastic ones back if he goes shopping, so my mum adopted this method for getting rid of them in an environmentally-friendly way. I've pinched this in turn to show you!

1. First take your plastic bag and lay it out as flat as possible (hello, Mr Morrison!).

2. Fold it in alternate directions to make a flat concertina - leave a strip of about a centimetre unfolded at the end.

3. Snip off the bottom edge.

4. Cut the folded section into 1cm-wide strips - don't cut too far into the unfolded strip. Cut all the way along, and snip the handles off.

5. Because of the way the bag folds, the uncut edge should split into two - separate them out.

6. Now this is a bit fiddly, but it means you get one long strip instead of lots of little ones that you then have to work together. Cut into the top of the unfolded section opposite every other of the main cuts.

7. Same again with the bottom unfolded section but cut every other one alternately with how you've cut the top strip (does that make sense?).

8. Now cut the folded edge all the way along each strip. You can do this before or after steps 6 and 7, but this way stops the bag slipping when you're cutting the alternate slits.

9. Hopefully you should have something that looks like this - now unravel it gently!

10. Et voila! One long strip ready to turn into anything you desire!

Using all of this part means you only end up having to send this much either to landfill or to be recycled, rather than the entire bag!

A couple of notes:
- use quite thin, soft bags, like supermarket carrier bags, rather than thicker ones (the ones with the good handles!), because they're easier to work with and snag less when you're working with them
- biodegradable bags aren't so good for this, because they start to disintegrate (as designed!) after about 6 months

This is also useful if you live in a student house where plastic bags seem to collect in vast quantities however hard you try (we had a cupboard full at my house - my mum used to love when I brought them all home for her to use!). Now you've got your crocheting yarn, go wild! You could make a little bucket to store your plastic bag strips in?

Maybe a plastic bag holder (also useful as a wine bottle holder!) for all those ones that STILL manage to find their way into the house?

Or a full sized shopper? My mum made this for me when I was still in school (I won't tell you when that was!), and it looks just as good as new now! The colours in this were different coloured Argos bags, I think!

Cristen at What To Do With Plastic Bags? has tons of great ideas (and patterns!) to create something lovely out of something not so lovely - hats, kites, bags...even a dress if you desire!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Pretty Parcels, Wrapped Up With String

Hello! I hope you've all had a lovely weekend - I've spent mine crocheting and wrapping up parcels to send! My Valentine's cards have sold really well, which I'm absolutely delighted with, since I only started this in November! But I also love seeing my parcels all wrapped up and ready to send; I love getting parcels in the post - I hope the recipients love these!

I thought I'd share some of my crochet with you - from the slightly rubbish, to the slightly better, to the one I'm pretty happy with!

This first one is a double crochet (I think!) - I pulled it out and started again about three times, and the edges are still pretty wonky, but I wanted to keep this as my first bit of (mostly) successful crochet! This is the practise wool that comes with the magazine, and it's not the prettiest colour but at least you don't mind making a bit of a mess with it!

This one is two rows of half treble crochet (that was by accident - it's a good job my mum can read instructions, because apparently I can not!) and then two rows of treble once I'd realised and felt rather a fool for insisting I was doing it right...

And this one is the first square of the throw I mentioned in my last post - in a slightly nicer colour! This pattern is two rows - one of double crochet, then one of alternate double and treble crochet, repeated. I pulled it out and started again, but only once, and I'm really happy with the result...I can see the throw materialising (slowly) before my eyes!

It turns out the magazine is actually WEEKLY, rather than monthly, as I thought initially, so the throw will actually take two years instead of ten (yes, I feel a bit silly!), which makes far more sense! I'm really chuffed with my new skill, I thought I'd never manage it - crocheted scarves for Christmas presents next year? I think so!

Have you overcome any crafting (or otherwise!) challenges? What were yours?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Valentine's and Crocheting!

Gosh! I do love my days off work, but I always seem to have so much to do that they never really seem like days off! I love it though - I just wish I could do it full time! Today I've been making lovely new Valentine's cards (and the pretty butterfly one above, too!) - let me know what you think! Most of the Valentine's cards are made with the same recycled maps as in this post, and I think it makes them a bit different - like the hearts are little footprints looking around the map until - ooh! - they find the big one! Maybe :)

I'm also really excited because of something that popped through my letterbox earlier (actually...I think my dad answered the door to get it because it was massive ha...details details)...

Yes, I have stolen that image right off the version came slightly more crumpled, but no less exciting!

I've been trying to learn both crocheting and knitting for years - starting, getting cross, stopping, starting again, getting cross again and stopping again - without much success, but when I saw the (admittedly rather cheesy) advert for this over Christmas, I decided it must be mine! Unfortunately it wasn't in any of the forty-seven shops I searched, and so when I was getting desperate, my boyfriend sourced it and subscribed for me (aww...the romance of crochet!) and it finally arrived this morning, woop!

This first issue comes with a DVD, a crochet hook, two balls of wool and two magazines - one for the basics and the other full of different patterns to this evening, I WILL teach myself to crochet! And I'll let you know how it goes!

Apparently after 120 issues, I'll have crocheted this throw! The magazine is monthly, so that will be in ten years's worth a try!

There's also a far more concise (ie. much less wittery!) post about the magazine from Lolodesigns if you want a full peek of what comes with it!

Have you any crafty (or otherwise!) challenges you really want to overcome?

Monday, 18 January 2010

My First Blog Award!

The lovely Elissa over at Not Just Handbags has very very kindly given me my very first award - The Sunshine Blog Award! What a lovely award to win! Thank you!

The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world.
The rules for accepting this award:
- Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
- Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
- Link the nominees within your post.
- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

There are so many bloggers who inspire me! But I guess the 12 who inspire me most would have to be:
Pearls In Your Hair, who cheers me up with her beautiful photographs of clothes and cookery.
Bugs and Fishes, who consistently keeps her blog a perfect mix of tutorials, advice and new products.
Hat Therapy, whose stunning designs inspire me to use colour...lots!
Noisette Marketing, whose great advice, competitions and blogger profiles make me want to get to work!
Crafty Jemima who always has posts that make me smile.
S.B.V who has pretty, funny, and foody posts...a winning combination!
The Audzipan Anthology, whose stylish posts with strong photographs are a joy to behold!
LittleGreenShoot, whose pretty packaging tutorials remind me that the outside of parcels is just as important as what's on the inside!
Sadie's Wardrobe, who regularly updates with pretty new things she's made.
Afeitar, because I love her pretty outfits and delicious-looking baking!
Ali Bali Jewellery, whose simple, stunning designs I adore!

...and last but certainly not least...

WishWishWish who inspired me to start blogging in the first place!

Who are your sunshine bloggers?

Thursday, 14 January 2010


Hiya! I thought I'd share some of the photos we took over last weekend in Dublin - most of them were taken by my dad, so all credit goes to him!

The obligatory 'plane' photo! These are part of the Clwydian Range, which includes the Horseshoe Pass and Llangollen (thanks, Dad!).

This is the lake in the middle of St. Stephen's was half covered in ice and perfectly still.

St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Right outside our apartment...what a lovely view!

Painted angels in the castle.

My favourite angel!

My mum pointed out that since last January, I've been to more than my fair share of capital cities - Budapest, Edinburgh, Rome, Berlin, London and Dublin...I have spent ten months doing conservation volunteering so have hopefully mopped up some of those air and train miles...BUT! Of those, I think Edinburgh has to be my favourite, I absolutely adore it. I love the up and down streets, the high high buildings, the zoo (of course!), Arthur's Seat, the variety of shops, the parks and gardens, sitting in pubs with my friends and the inevitable eating out that comes with being in a different town. We're also really lucky to have friends living there so hopefully my next visit might not be too far away!

Where are your favourite cities? Why do you love them?

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Train Ticket Mini Tutorial!

Hello! I'm back from a chilly (but Bailey's-warmed!) trip to Dublin! I'll post some photos on Thursday!

I thought since lots of people are probably having snow days, and perhaps a bit of extra time as a result, I'd post a little crafty project I did with my sister during our snow day last week. Having a boyfriend in the RAF and friends and family in pretty much every major city in the UK (and not driving...yet!) means I have a sackload of these:

My sister's training to be a SEN teacher and has lots of little tricks up her sleeve, so when I asked her what she would do with a massive pile of train tickets, she suggested making them into a mini mobile:

Here's how - I have it on good authority that this is fun to do with kids, and it's also fun for grown-up kids! All you'll need are some train tickets, a needle and thread and a slightly larger rectangle of coloured paper.

1. Fold your train ticket in half along the shorter mid-line, orange side in.

2. Fold the corners of the folded end up into the middle to meet each other.

3. Turn around and fold the rectangles up on either side to meet the triangle.

4. Fold the corners of the rectangles in to make them match the shape of the triangle - tuck them in, but separately from the triangle.

5. Pull the bottom of the triangle apart and fold the two opposite corners to meet each other - flatten to make a square.

6. Fold the open corners back on themselves to make another triangle.

7. Again, pull the bottom of the triangle apart and fold the two opposite corners to meet each other - flatten to make a square.

8. You'll have two 'beaky' triangles making up your square - pull these apart and flatten your little boat

9. Push the two ends back together slightly to make your boat 3D!

10. Knot a piece of thread a couple of times near the end, and (after poking a hole with your needle) pull it through the top of your boat. Thread 3-4 little boats onto each thread, knotting where you want them to sit (this is a little bit fiddly). I did 3 threads of little boats.

11. Make one larger boat from your larger rectangle to hang your threads from, and here you are!

What are you doing with your snow days (and your old train tickets!)?

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