Friday, December 23, 2011

All Tied Up - Make Your Own Twine Tutorial

If you find yourself with some last minute gift wrapping to do, (confession... haven't even started mine yet) and want something other then the standard ribbon to tie your gifts up in, here's a simple way to make your own lovely twine...

First you will need to cut several individual lengths of yarn. Any yarn will do, just keep in mind that the thicker the yarn, the thicker the twine will be. I like to use a thin perle cotton yarn.

For this example I am making a thin multicolored twine and am using just three strands of yarn, one in pink, one in green and one in off-white. (Note that the more individual lengths you use, the thicker the twine will be. Want rope? Just use thick yarn and more individual pieces!)

Cut the individual pieces of yarn about three times the length you would like your finished twine to be. I tend to cut my individual pieces of yarn about 6 yards long, which gives me a finished piece of twine just over a yard long. If you want a longer strand that's fine, but you may need some one to assist you towards the end so things don't get too knotted up... I will explain more later.

Next you will need some device to help you as you tightly twist the individual strands of yarn together. Pictured above are three things that I have used to make twine. The first item is that odd looking wood thing... it's used to wind boat shuttle bobbins for loom weaving, and does the job of twisting super quick. The next item is an old vintage hand drill that belonged to my grandfather. It also works great in twisting the strands of yarn together. And last but not least is the humble pencil, which is what I used for many years and works just dandy... just a bit slower then the other devices.

Whichever item you have on hand, simply tie one end of the yarn strands to the chosen tool. Take the other end of the yarn strands and tie them in a knot. Then tie them to a stationary object like a door handle or a drawer pull. You can also tie them to a clothes pin and drop the clothes pin into a drawer. Shut the drawer and the clothes pin and yarn ends stay inside.

Now, go back to your winding device. Holding your device, stand far enough away from the other end that the strings are not on the floor, but also leave some slack. Now, start winding. (If you are using a pencil the yarn ends will be tied around the middle of it. Just keep flipping the pencil around and around to twist the yarn together.)

Keep winding until the string is tight and taut and there is no slack. (The tighter the twist the better the end result will be.) It will look something like the photo above, (excuse the poor quality of these photos... it's been very cloudy and rainy here and the light has been dismal.)

We are almost done! Keeping the string taut, tightly pinch the ends attached to the winding device and cut them off, careful not to let the string unwind. Then start walking that end towards the other end that is attached to a knob or a drawer. You want to be careful to keep the strings from touching until the two ends can meet. (Note: As I walk to meet the other end, I run my free hand along the length of twisted string helping to keep the tension tight. When I get to the middle of the string I then bring the two ends together. If my yarn length is to long for me to comfortably do this, I have someone else stand at the middle, keeping the tension tight, as I move to join the two ends together.

As soon as the two lengths of twisted string meet they will immediately begin to twist upon themselves, as shown in the photo above. Knot both ends together and carefully run your hand down the length of the twisted twine, smoothing the twists down and evenly distributing them throughout...

And there you go, your very own twine!

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Quilted Patchwork Coasters available in my Rural Retro Design Etsy shop

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Search for Just the Right Stuffing

Whenever I have made pincushions in the past, I have always just used polyfil to stuff them, and it has worked out fine. But for these new tetrahedron shaped pincusions that I have been making, I wanted to use something different, and I had two goals in mind...

I wanted the material to be natural, keeping with the whole idea of rural retro living, and I also wanted the stuffing to give some weight and firmness to the pincushion, similar to the feel of those old-fashioned tomato pincushions most of us have had at one time or another.

I know that traditionally often either sawdust, sand or metal shavings were used to fill pincushions. The weight of the filling helped keep small size pincushions from moving around when inserting and pulling out the pins, and they also helped to keep the pins sharp.

Now, I have no idea where to get metal shavings and saw dust seems just plain messy to me. Sand is easy enough to come by, but it's so... well I don't know, sticky? Invasive? It just seems that if you spill some, you are sweeping it up it for days!

After I did a bit of research on the internet though, I discovered another option... pulverized english walnut shells! Have you heard of this before? I didn't know such a product even existed. From what I read this is a favorite pincushion stuffing for a lot of sewers and the tiny grains help to keep the pins sharp.(Just one word of caution... this product should not be used by folks who have nut allergies, especially walnut allergies).

Now, where do you find pulverized walnut shells? The pet store of course! It seems to be used for both bird and reptile, (in exactly what way I am not completely sure, floor and bedding I think). I found a 5.5 lb bag in the reptile section for under $8.00. Plenty enough to stuff lots of pincushions!

It's kind of pretty, isn't it? You can see in this photo that it is really ground up very well. The grains are tiny, much like sand, but not as sticky. (I spilled some and had no trouble quickly sweeping it up, and the grains never stuck to my skin as sand does).

I was worried that getting the tiny bits of walnut shell inside the opening of the pincushion would be a challenge, but all I had to do was pour some in a paper cup, pinch the edge of the cup, and pour right in. The shells packed down nicely and in no time at all I had a nice solid feeling pincushion.

It even makes for a super-duper paperweight!


Update on this post: I now have a fully illustrated, easy to follow pattern for this pincushion available in my shop. You can find the pattern here if interested!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hanging Out The Open Sign

Yay! I know I have been gone from the this blog, (and everyone else's) for weeks now, but I am happy to say that after a month of work, (zig-zagged around a head cold that apparently likes me so much it has decided to stay indefinitely) I have finally, (as of yesterday) opened up my new Etsy shop Rural Retro Designs.

I have already had a few folks ask what the point was in opening a 2nd shop, when everything shown in this post, as well as everything else in the RRD shop, could have easily gone into my Silly BooDilly shop, and trust me, I have examined and questioned that logic myself while embarking on this new project.

Ultimately it boils down to this... It is basically an experiment in trying to find balance. As I have mentioned before, I am a bit ADD. Along with that I have a inherent rebellious side to me, (if anyone has doubts on that, they need only ask my mother!)

Together those traits can give birth to some wonderful creativeness, but they can also cause difficulty in maintaining motivation, focus, and clear direction.

And because I am someone who wants to maintain motivation, focus, and clear direction, I often find myself exhausted and at odds with myself...

Without specific boundaries, I tend to wander. Weeks can go by with no creative output, and frankly that leaves me feeling like crap.

Now in the past I have tried to rectify this by deciding I would just focus on one thing, such as art quilts, or art dolls, or mixed media, etc. etc. (because again, I looonnnggg for clear and focused direction!)

However, each and every time I grow bored and restless, and once again, I feel like crap.

Silly BooDilly is vital to me as it allows me to have the open playground of fun and experimentation that I need...

If I want to create pojagi patchwork one week and whimsical embroidered little houses the next, and after that do some stitched paper, well by golly I've got a home for all of it!

And now, with Rural Retro Designs, I will also get to have the boundaries and clear focused direction that I crave. This last month was almost blissful, (even with the head cold) as everyday I had a clear focus and was able to work within specific self-imposed boundaries that kept me energized and on track. The key to all of this was that I also knew that when ever the mood struck I still had a place to go with no creative boundaries.

I understand if all of that maybe sounds a bit schizophrenic, and overly complicated, but for me it's just the opposite. Rural Retro Designs is my way of finding balance and becoming centered in a vast universe of sometimes lovely and sometimes not so lovely distraction. With this venture I get a daily reminder to hone in and focus on appreciating the simply pleasures of life, along with a way of expressing that idea creatively. Having both Silly Boodilly and Rural Retro Designs is like a having a disciplined exercise routine that still allows me to eat all the chocolate cake I want!

Now, if you are so inclined, my newly opened Rural Retro Designs shop could use a little love. Right now it's feeling like the new kid on the block and a wee bit lonely! You would make my day if would be so kind as to go and have a look, and if you like what you see add it to your favorites. Thanks so much to each of you for all of your continued support in my creative journey! xo


Oh, and before I forget... many thanks to all who entered the the giveaway in my last post! The winner was Kim of Pokeytown Kim. Congratulations Kim! And good news... if you would still like a chance to win Candy's Dyeing to Stitch DVD, the blog tour is still going on. Go to the bottom of my post here to see where to go. Good luck!