the upcycling cycle

I love social media, to be specific Facebook.  I quite like twitter and Whatsapp is great for group conversations but if I want to waste an hour without noticing then Facebook is the place for me.  I follow news outlets, political parties, craft groups and an upcycling group.

Upcycling- the new shopping.  Don’t buy something new, don’t throw away something old, upcycle it into something totally different.  It  ticks all the boxes for the eco-friendly.  You can create new, useful and beautiful objects from stuff that would otherwise go in o landfill, and at the same time you are not buying new and unnecessary stuff that will probably end up in landfill in a few years time anyway.  Perfect.

Or is it?  There are two types of upcycling projects.  The one where you find something lurking around the house and instead of chucking it out a light bulb goes off in your head and you say “wow this cracked decanter that hasn’t seen a bottle of wine in decades would make a perfect lampstand”.  Using my highly accurate survey methods (i.e. asking around, looking on social media and following a huge range of upcycling blogs etc) about 80% of potential crystal lampshades will remain as cracked decanters; 10% will get part way there and will metamorphose into decanterlamps that are missing vital parts and will never make the full transformation; 5% will be transformed but never switched on and will remain in the workroom/shed and a lucky 5% will shine bright on the table shaming every failed upcycler who comes into the room.

The second type of project is that created by the pro-active seeker upcycler.  This character scours markets, auction houses, freegle, swap and sale groups and second-hand  and charity shops actively looking for potential projects.  No three-legged chair is without potential and nirvana is a pile of pristine, unwanted pallets.  It is also not unheard of to purchase new (“what?!”) items purely in order to turn them into something else.  I will confess to  having fallen into that category.  Why buy something already made, when I can buy the constituent parts and make it myself.  We are not talking saving hundreds or even tens of pounds.  I suspect my rather lovely cake tin stand would have cost as much to purchase ready made as it did for me to make it (but it wouldn’t have wobbled quite as nicely as mine does).

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Returning to my highly tuned research methods I had assumed that these projects would have a higher success rate.  The people who take the the time to seek out the unpolished gem and part with hard earned cash for it are surely not going to let it languish unloved in a shed?  These are people who frequently sell their completed upcycles.  They have a vested financial interest in getting the job done.

Ladies and gentleman, we are all the same.  Whilst there are of course exceptions to every rule (and the standard deviation for my statistics here is probably in the region of +/- 2,500 or thereabouts!) the proactively sought and paid for projects stand just as much chance of making it to that final 5% as granny’s whisky decanter did.

As the build on the Barn and Gin Gan comes nearer to completion we have to move even more stuff out and rehouse it in our now smaller home.   The picture frame that I was going to turn into a gilt mirror, the china kept for mosaic work.  How long have I had them?  Have they magically transformed themselves in my absence?  Reader, they have gone.  Perhaps somebody else would like to house them in the vain hope that they might one day make a mosaic effect mirror?

reverse decluttering part three

Today I tackled OPQ.  Frankly the most difficult I have encountered thus far.  Considerable lateral thinking required.

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Moving backwards in an orderly alphabetical manner the first things to go were those that quacked.  Or would do if they were real.  Our real ducks have long gone and we now only have a  handful of chickens.  They not only earn their keep but are entertaining and lovely.  These plastic wotsits have been sitting on the guest bathroom shelf for years and even the youngest houseguests have never got them down.  Time to find a new home.

P is for periodicals.  In the great craft declutter I came across piles and piles of magazines.  Lovely ones like Somerset Studio, Scrapbook Trends and Legacy.  But I have been scrapping for almost 15 years and I know my style and much as these are lovely to look at, the point is I don’t look at them.  If I want inspiration I go on the net, or go for a walk or look at my journal.  Out they go.

O is for Oblong.  I really did struggle here!  Back to the great craft declutter.  Boxes and boxes of paints, embossing powders and so forth.  I don’t use them. Somebody else can.  I did think about shoe boxes, but I have already done a major shoe clear out and there isn’t much left to go there.

It’s odd, I have got rid of so much stuff.  But most of what is left does not belong to me.  The Boss has been great about decluttering outside but his wardrobe now exceeds mine and I don’t seem to be able to persuade him to move in there.  I think I might just do it for him and see what happens.  Watch this space.

the craft stuff has to go

There comes a time when even those who think they are mighty must fall.  I crumpled at the craft, well I don’t know what to call it.  “Room” gives it a gravitas it does not deserve and “Pile” fails to bring across the enormit of the job.  In 1999 I began scrapbooking.  I had always kept our photograph albums up to date and scrapbooking combined this with my love of playing with paper, pens and ink.  All went swimmingly, I created pages that were lovely to look at, that had lots of journalling so we knew who everyone was and what they were doing and everybody loved to flick through them.  Then two things happened.  Photography went digital and scrapbooking went mainstream in the UK.

Net result, too many photographs and too many materials to work with.  Once I had to buy 80% of my stock online from the States, now I could get it in TK Maxx and Tescos.  Sadly, the latter resulted in the death of practically every bricks and mortar scrapping shop and we have come full circle.  If I want anything other than twee tat, I mainly have to buy from the US.  Once again,  I digress.

I couldn’t be bothered to collate  my photographs any longer.  There were too many of them and I had too many materials.  I didn’t know where to start.  So I am going back to my roots….

I am not a tidy declutterer.  I like to get stuff out and sort it into piles or the bin.  Only when I am finished do I put it all in order.  Odd, perhaps as I am so organised elsewhere.  I think it’s because to me the declutter process has priority over the tidy process.  I just want to get it out asap.

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The desk is the “holding” area, most stuff on here will be allowed to stay.   But not necesssarily  here.  In the meantime I have emptied both the filing cabinet and the wooden chest of drawers but not done anything about the stuff that usually lives on the desk (paints and pens mainly).  Not ideal, but I’ll get there in the end.

 

Work in progress.

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Stuff to go.  First dibs go to Sunday School and Messy Church, then local crafting friends and then the good old Charity shop.

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Starting to look better.

 

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And finally, because all that was rather stressfull.  Some calming tulips.

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UFO or WIP

We all have them, those UFOs (unfinished objects) that we like to refer to as WIP (work in progress).  Except that they are not, in progress that is.  They are sitting in a box (what did I say about storage boxes) or a “craft bag” (aka black hole of UFOs).  And they are not making any progress at all.

Be honest.  Even though you were really into cross stitch when your eldest was born 25 years ago and made beautiful samplers for every wedding and birth amongst your nearest and dearest, when did you last pick up a piece of aida?  Give it away.  Now.  It is not going to make itself and you are not going to make it either.

I have been culling the UFOs.  I love looking at patchwork and I am immensley impressed by the work that people do but I have to be honest, it’s not really my thing.  I have kept some stunning quilting squares which I used to make bags and totes (so now you all know what I’m giving everyone for Christmas).  But the half finished quilt, which I don’t even particularly like so can’t imagine using even if I did finish it is out.  As are two unused tapestry kits.

On the other hand I do like to knit, I just am better at starting than finishing.  Well until yesterday!  I finally sewed up my granny squares and even the Dancers thought it was beautiful (which really is praise indeed).

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This is not a skirt, although I have been wondering whether to try it on.  No, when complete it will be felted to within an inch of its life and then will be lined and will be a rather gorgeous tote.  I have one already.  This is earmarked for a friend.

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The rest of the knitting UFOs will be frogged.

So what UFOs do you have lurking in your cupboards and what are you going to do with them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

upcycle from cardigan to cat bed

Time for a break.  It’s the weekend, it’s cold and wet (well here anyway).  I’m feeling not so much, “let’s get up and go” as “let’s stay by the fire and so something crafty, or read a book or just sleep, nodding off to the gentle rhythm of the snore of the newfie”.

Since the snore of the newfie would wake the undead let alone the dead, I went for one of the other options.  I have a bit of a thing for cashmere.  Once you have been enveloped in the delicious waftyness and snugglyness that is pure cashmere, pure 100% new wool is like wearing barbed wire.

Unfortunately I do not have the wallet that can run to cashmere on a daily basis so I stalk sales, and ebay, jumble sales and markets, charity shops and my mother’s wardrobe….  Once in my possession said cashmere is loved and cherished right up until the day it finally dies.  Whereupon I  bung it in a boil wash with some jeans and felt it.

I have made felted cashmere cushion covers, cuddly toys, wrist warmers, ear warmers, slippers, bags, Christmas decorations.  But until today I had never made a bed.  Well a cat bed.

Take one elderly, moth eaten cashmere cardigan.  Boil it.  Add one tapestry needle and some knitting wool.

  • Lie the cardigan flat out on a table button side down (obviously if you are using a jumper you can lie it any way up you like).
  • Sew the sleeve edge to the body edge to about half way down the sleeve.  I used blanket stitch.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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  • Fold up the bottom of the cardigan and lay the loose ends of the cardigan arms over the folded portion.  Make sure the cuff edges overlap.

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  • Sew the top edge of the sleeve to the top edge of the folded up cardigan edge (again I used blanket stitch).

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  • Lay the cardigan out flat again and sew (I used running stitch but you could use backstitch if you wanted it to be firmer) an arc from armpit to armpit.  You have now created a channel all around the edge of your bed.

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  • Close the neck opening.
  • Stuff the channel.  I used the contents of a number of horrible cushions, but you could use cut up rags, old clothes and dusters.   You will have to wriggle the stuffing around a bit to get the right balance.
  • Ta da!  One cat bed.

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If you have a small enough dog you could use it for a dog bed, but I think the newfie would require a jumper from the Jolly Green Giant 🙂