Tag Archives: upcycled

His ‘n’ Hers Crochet Earflap Beanie Hats – Free Pattern

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Image I crocheted these two hats from pure wool yarn unravelled from a sweater I bought in a charity shop.  Unravelling a sweater is a labour of love that’s for sure, but you are rewarded with a lot of yarn for the money.  The yarn has to be unpicked, skeined, washed, dried and re-skeined or wound into balls before use!  It took a lot longer to “process” the sweater yarn than it did to crochet the two hats!

I wanted to make Mechanic Man a new work hat for Autum/Winter and thought the colours would look good with his colouring (reddy/blonde).  His garage is freezing even in Summer so he wears a hat all day for most of the year.  He was at work when I took these photos so my daughter is modelling.

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I made him a lovely hat last year but unfortunatly it found it’s way into the washing machine with his uniforms and shrunk spectacularly.  Mechanic Man was sad about his old hat but chuffed that he had managed to make a felt bowl all by himself.  I had a lot of yarn left from my sweater, so I thought I’d make a coordinating hat for me – Hence His ‘n’ Hers!

I made HIS in random stripes – most one colour wide – so that it won’t show the dirt/grease/oil too badly.  I made mine with stripes ‘cos I’m a sucker for stripes. The top of my hat has five rounds of the same colour and then each stripe has four rounds.

I very carefully wrote down the pattern for these hats as I was making them and now I can’t find the piece of paper.  Still, here’s the gist.  It’s basically a beanie hat with a few extra rows added for a neck warmer (on 2/3 of the total stitches and then an ear-flap triangle added on each end of the neck warmer).  My instructions do assume you know how to crochet and have had a go at a hat before.

I have a beginner hat pattern with more detailed instructions here.

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Notes:  This hat is worked in rounds, to join each round you can either slip stitch into the first st of the previous round and chain 2, or single crochet into the first stitch of the previous round and chain one.  This chain counts as your first stitch of the next round.  It must also be noted that my tension is tight, so if you crochet loose, you may want to use a slightly smaller hook.

  • 6mm crochet hook and approx. 70g Aran weight yarn for each hat.
  • Use a magic loop or as small a chain loop as you can to start.
  • Round 1: Make 10 single crochet sts (double crochet UK).
  • Round 2: Make 2 SCs in every stitch (20 sts).
  • Round 3: Work one round (20 sts).
  • Round 4: Make 2 SCs in the first and every other sts (30 sts)
  • Round 5: Make 2 SCs in the first and every third st (40 sts)
  • Round 6: Work one round.
  • Round 7: Make 2 SCs in the first and every fourth st (50 sts)
  • Round 8: Make 2 SCs in the first and evry fifth sts (60 sts)
  • HER hat: Continue to work on these 60 sts until the hat is the desired length (without neck flap)  For my hat I worked approx 33 rounds.
  • HIS hat : Work another increase round, increasing 5 sts evenly around the hat (65 sts) and continue without further increase. You can add a couple of extra rounds too if you want a bigger hat but I worked 33 rounds HIS hat too (I have a big head).
  • Neck Flap: To make the back a little longer than the front (built-in neck warmer) work back and forth in rows for FOUR rows on 40 sts HERS (45 sts HIS).
  • Ear Flaps: Work the ear-flaps backwards and forwards on each end of the neck piece.  I worked the ear-flaps on 9 sts for HERS (11 sts HIS) and decreased one st at each end of every other row until there were no sts remaining.
  • To make a edge, work TWO rounds of SC around the whole hat – decreasing one stitch in internal corners and increasing one stitch at external corners.
  • I added tassels to HER hat but not to HIS as I don’t want HIM getting mangled in a machine at work!
  • I hand stitched lining into the inside of HIS hat with some jersey fabric from an old Marks and Spencer’s T-shirt so it will be super comfy and warm.  You can see in the photo below that the back is a few rows longer to keep HIS neck warm (the lining is level with the edge at the front).

If you find this pattern helpful or utterly confusing please let me know!

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Too Much Fun at Work

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upcycled wool glove creature drinking tea

At work – I’m currently teaching – my students have been making softees with a Scottish theme.  We have been using donated/salvaged and scrap bits of the most gorgeous wool/tweed/tartan mohair fabrics and knitwear/socks from local mills. I can’t post pics of their work so here’s one I made while they were all getting on fabulously by themselves – I have them very well trained.  If I can get the all clear from on high I will try and share some of their creatures with you later.

Anyway, my softee is made from a stuffed glove – not just any old glove mind you, a most beautiful example of Hawick knitwear.  I was dropping big hints to the young people that the lovely lonely glove would make a nice creature but I don’t think they believed me – they are still a bit sceptical of my madder ideas.

So, last week, I couldn’t resist any longer and took up the glove challenge (picked up the gauntlet!) and created this creature (not sure what to call him yet) – why should the young people have all the fun?  Plus it’s more amiable if I sit amongst them and join in rather than lord about over them.

Today, I thought I’d teach them a bit about staging their creatures for photo shoots.   The sun was out and yesterday’s snow had melted and even though it was a very cold day we were planning on going to Old Gala House to take photos in the gardens.  We made some cardboard props to help set scenes.  I made the tea cup and teapot for mine as his mouth looked like he was sucking.  It turned out to be too windy for our props so I took this snap when we got back to “work.”  The upshot is, they still think I’m mad but we did have a lot of fun – especially me.

Upcycled Denim Phone Charger Bag

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I’ve been busy making ECOZEE products to sell.  This is my latest design – I was trying to make something so cute and useful and desirable that no-one can resist.  It’s a Charger Cozy.  It’s a little drawstring bag for you to keep your phone charger/cables (or similar) neat and tidy.  When you are actually charging your phone you can hang the bag on the plug and put your phone inside – organized and aesthetically pleasing.    They measure approx 5.5 inches square when flat, and they will have a little spring toggle on the cord.upcycled denim phone charger bag pouch

It’s made from upcycled denim jeans, upcycled cotton shirts and upcycled pure wool sweaters.  I have made eight bags as my first batch but can make more if demand outstrips supply! They are £10 each. I am yet to sew on all the designs, so let me know if you’d like a custom one.  So far, my designs include heart, Apple logo, peace sign, flower, moustache.  After my stint in a local gallery in February, I will list any unsold in my ETSY shop (currently empty) but if you’d like one meanwhile – as a cute, clever, original and eco-friendly gift for your Valentine, leave a comment on this blog, send me a facebook message or use the contact me form on my website.

hand made phone charger case

Merry Christmas Eve from Rainy Scotland – What Happened to the Snow?

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Just a quicki ‘cos I’m up to my arms in flour – baking and making – only the trifle left to go – Madeira cake, tinned strawberries and blackberries, port (got no sherry so improvising), home made egg custard and double cream and ameretti biscuits on top  – My Mum’s recipe and it’ll all go in her lovely trifle bowl.   Up very late last night wrapping gifts between midnight and 3 am!  It’s been raining here for five days but at least we’re not under water like many fellow Brits.  The last thing on my long list is “relax and enjoy” and I’m looking forward to that bit.

Here’s my wreath, it’s made from Coke and Diet Coke cans and Christmas tree trimmings wired to a circle of foam cut from roof insulation – total cost zero.  I use the same foam ring every year and the insulation was left over from our building work.  The decorations are just hooked on with traditional Christmas tree hooks – some did blow away yesterday and had to be replaced but it was a tad breezy.  Have a wonderful time this Christmas and “see” you all in the New Year.

recycled soda can wreath

Big Red Rock – Choosing Mum a Beautiful Memorial

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earlston kirk church yard gravestones

When my Mum died in January, I was given a brochure of gravestones as part of my “bereavement pack,” this sent me into a tail spin as modern mass-produced gravestones, like many things “manufactured” these days, are frankly not very nice.  I was determined to try and get something more in keeping with our families’ penchant for “lovely old things” and more in keeping with the old part of the church yard my Mum was lucky enough to get a spot in. Here’s the view from her “little corner of a Scottish field that will be forever England.”

view of black hill from earlston church yard

This is just a wee story about how I came to make my choices and hopefully it will help others in a similar situation – the point of the story is really this – you don’t have to buy a soul-less gravestone from a brochure, you can take your time and commission a beautiful piece of art – it won’t necessarily cost you any more money. If you can, buy handmade and support local crafts people!

I cast about to find a local stone carver and it turned out that a lovely woman I used to play tennis with is a stone carver  – I never actually knew what she did when we played tennis – and we were recently reacquainted at the school gates – fate I tell you.  She agreed to carve a beautiful stone for us.  Given that I could have anything I wanted, how to choose? Here a couple of examples of Natasha’s wonderful work.  Working with her has also made the whole process a lot easier than it might have been otherwise – thanks Natasha.

natasha smith stone carver scottish borders

hand carved raised lettering on red sandstone

Our church is made from local red sandstone and shines bright like Ayers rock up on the hill behind my house, so I wanted my Mum’s “rock” to be made from a similar stone – not shiny black granite with gold writing.  I wanted her stone to look like it belonged in the church yard.  Gravestones here are now restricted in size to 30cm wide so it couldn’t be too big.  I wanted a rock that I could sit on so that when I go and “visit” so I don’t have to stand awkwardly; also, I do occasionally take a cup of tea up there when the sun is shining so I thought It would be pleasant to be able to sit on the rock and have a cup of tea with my Mum.

We visited a local quarry near Berwick-upon-Tweed to choose a piece of local Red Sandstone and it turned out they had giant pieces of Red Sandstone salvaged from the Historic and World Renowned Scottish School of Textiles Building in Galashiels which was sadly demolished a few years ago and replaced with a giant and hideous Tesco Supermarket.  We chose a lovely upcycled stone – so I don’t even have to feel bad about the energy and landscape destruction involved in quarrying.  The quarry cut the face off so that it was only 30cm thick and to provide a smooth surface for Natasha to carve.

salvaged red sandstone destined to become a memorial stone

Having chosen the stone, the wording was a problem, how do you sum up someone’s life in a few words?  At first, I felt I couldn’t possibly sum my Mum up in a few words so I considered having no words at all other than her name and dates – but this didn’t feel right.  I looked at other stones in the church yard and most seemed to say things like – loving wife of, mother of etc etc.  I wasn’t happy with summing up her life in terms of relationships to others as this implies she wasn’t a person in her own right and also leaves out anyone who is not listed. My Mum was a very inclusive person who meant a lot to a lot of people so I wanted the wording to reflect this.

I resisted the temptation to put “just bleedin’ knackered!”on her stone though – although I know she would be amused because she always wanted to reply “bloody awful” when shop keepers asked her how she was – she liked to tell it how it was – obviously she didn’t feel bloody awful everyday but she thought it daft that we Brits always reply “fine, thank you” even when we’re not.

After a great deal of deliberation and tears I came up with wording I like very much…

SXXXX XXXXX

born XXXXXXXX

1941 – 2012

Gave us Life, Love and laughter

I feel this includes everyone in the “US” – anyone who knew her and who might be reading it; but, it also refers specifically to me and my twin.   Since she died, a lot of people have told me how much she made them laugh so I wanted her stone to remind everyone of the fun times.  Also, since any flowers I might put on the grave will die, I am having two cowslips carved into the side of the rock, “growing” out of the surrounding grass – she loved wild flowers especially cowslips.

The “big red rock” has now been delivered to Natasha’s workshop here in the Scottish Borders near Ancrum and the design has been finalized; and work is underway.  It is a strange feeling but at least I feel I have chosen something beautiful.

red sandstone rock ready for carving mum's memorial headstone

In two days, it would have been her 71st Birthday and this stone will be the last gift we can give her.  Last November, when she turned 70, I asked her if she wanted me to organise a tea party with some of her pals and she said “No, I don’t want to be 70” –  she was worried about getting old – and not afraid to say it.  We had a lovely family tea party at home.  She was “fine, thank you” and looking forward to Christmas; but, out of the blue in early January, she died from a brain hemorrhage – I was with her holding her hand while she stopped breathing.  I sang her the special song she used to sing to “US” – the same song her dad sang to her.  So, on her Birthday on Sunday, I am going to celebrate her not being 71 – she will remain, in the words of Bob Dylan – “Forever Young”.

Eco Upcycled Lunchbox Satchel

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recycled eco-friendly cardboard cereal lunch boxFirstly, I apologies for the poor – not up to my usual standard – photograph; but, now that the clocks have changed, Scotland is in permanent gloom ’till Spring; so, this was snapped under artificial light on my iphone at one in the morning.

I made this cute – even if  I say so myself – lunch box satchel out of a cardboard cereal box.  I took it apart, turned it inside out, glued it back together and made a few modifications.  I used hot glue but I would have preferred to have used a contact adhesive like evo stick but I have mislaid mine.  I made it to inspire my fashion students as we are working with paper this week.

There is no sewing involved just cutting, gluing and pen-applied fake stitches.   The strap is made from a tartan boot lace and the fake buckles have self-adhesive velcro behind them. The little name label says “lunch.”

On it’s first outing today, It toted a ham and chutney sandwich, an apple, and a clementine – carefully stored inside the original, now empty, cereal bag. I stashed an emergency chocolate biscuit in the pocket – lucky ‘cos i had a mid-afternoon emergency and needed it.   I will see how long it holds up – today we had permanent drizzle but It was fine.  I will try and get some better photos when I find myself in daylight again.

Back to School – Upcycled Pencil Case

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green grass hand made recycled oilcloth pencil case

Dropped the wee man off at school today – first day back!  The big kids start back tomorrow.  Here’s the upcycled pencil case I made him from our old kitchen tablecloth.  It’s not actually real “oilcloth” but fake PVC type stuff – it wasn’t a great tablecloth – not very strong – so it’s been replaced.  The grass design is really great though.  I keep it for covering the table when I/we do “art.”  Anyway, I cut a corner off the table cloth and whipped up this baby – we’ll see how it holds up as a pencil case.  The zip is salvaged too of course.

I am going to make another pencil case as daughter#2 want’s one too,  so I’ll try and take pics and post instructions so you can make one too.  Watch this space…..

Memory Quilt Patchwork Oven Mitts

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My Mum loved patchwork, especially the traditional granny’s flower garden pattern. Like me she was also an upcycler of old fabric.  I have her amazing bed quilt but was unaware she made this oven glove.  My Aunty (her sister) showed it to me on a recent visit.  I was thrilled; clearly my Aunty used it and treasured it; and, it features fabrics which mean a lot to me.  The white hexagons with flowers are made from my old Sanderson fabric bedroom curtains.  I remember picking them out with my Mum in Selfridges in Oxford in the late 70s/early 80s. They were super expensive as we had big bay windows.  In fact, not long after that I was so desperate to have my room redecorated in Habitat red and white graph paper wallpaper that my ever practical Mum let me change rooms to the downstairs living room as that room needed new curtains and the Sanderson ones were practically new.  They must have bit the dust eventually though or maybe the patchwork bits were a sample.

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The red and orange stripey background fabric is at least as old as I am – forget vintage – approaching antique – I think they were our blinds or curtains too in the 60s.  I don’t remember the fabric in use I just remember that my Mum made my twin brother a sausage dog and it’s paws were made from that fabric.  He loved that dog.  Once he donated it to our primary school bring and buy sale but then we had to get there early to buy it back again.  Eventually the mice got to our homemade toys in the attic and they had to go, otherwise I think we’d still have them today.

Upcycled Cotton Hat – Drawstring Shoulder Bag

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upcycled crochet drawstring bag made from recycled and hand dyed cotton yarnrecycled cotton yarn from donor hat

Sorry, no posts for a while, my bag and I have been on our hols on the south east coast of England – weather not too bad actually, managed to miss the floods!  Anyway, here’s the story…

My lovely bag was made from the cotton yarn carefully salvaged from three knitted cotton hats. My friend gave me the hats her boys had long grown out of – they were all the same size/make but two were ecru and one was navy – they were a little faded but I reckoned I could work my magic on them; and hey presto, after a crazy amount of time and patience, but a lot of creative buzz, they were transformed.

I carefully unpicked the seams from the three hats and unravelled and wound them into hanks/skeins.how to unravel and wind recycled yarn on back of chair

I mixed the dye as per instructions (I used Procion reactive dyes).  I have the four primary colours of magenta, yellow and turquoise and black so I mixed my own green and purple and dyed the ecru yarn – I totally winged it I’m afraid – I’m not one for keeping careful records.    I chucked the navy yarn in the purple dye too to freshen it up.

hanks of hand dyed yarn drying on washing line

unravelled recycled cotton yarn skeins hanging in tree

green and blue hand dyed socks drying on washing line

I chucked in some mens pure cotton socks and kiddie t-shirts later as there seemed to be some life in the dye bath after I had dyed the yarn. As you can see, the shade faded as the dye bath was exhausted. I especially love the socks.

Procion hand dyed cotton t-shirts

procion dye cotton socks

three balls of hand dyed recycled cotton yarn wool thread

When, the yarn was dry, I wound it into three balls. The yarn was made up of about six individual threads which were not plied together, so it was quite difficult to work with. I decided it would be hard to knit with as the yarn would split easily, crochet was the way to go then – a hook is more forgiving on dodgy yarn than a needle! I decided to make myself a bag for my summer hols as my normal hand bag is a woolly ecozee classic which is fine for Scotland but since were were heading to the English coast I thought a stripy cotton deckchair-inspired bag would be just the thing.

upcycled cotton crochet drawstring bag green purple navy

I made up the bag pattern – I started crocheting a flat circle in double crochet (single crochet USA) for the base increasing as normal and then when I got the the desired size I carried on with no increases to make the sides.  About an inch and a half from the top I made a row of three trebles (doubles USA) like in a granny square so I would have holes to thread the drawstring tie through.  I chained the drawstring.  Finally, I lined the bag with some chambray cotton upcycled from a skirt, and added a pocket from some linen trousers.  The strap was crocheted straight on to the bag, I made the strap quite short knowing it would stretch a lot. I pretty much used up all the yarn from my three wee hats.

upcycled cotton bag lining in hand made crochet bag

inside of recycled bag showing salvaged linen trousers pocket

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Scottish Borders and would like to learn to crochet, my beginners class starts on August 21st and runs for four Tuesday evenings. For details see the workshops page on my website.

Recycled Paper “Wicker” Bowl

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wicker bowl hand made from recycled wrapping paperI was browsing ETSY for inspiration at the weekend and found this beautiful bowl – I just had to have it.  It arrived this morning and is even better in real life – I LOVE IT!

It is made from  upcycled wrapping paper, folded into “wicker” and varnished.  It really is amazing, really strong and so pretty – I am tempted to buy the yellow pages one too! – you can’t have too many bowls for storing your bits and bobs!  I love my knitted bowls but these are really different and clearly created by a very talented individual – fellow eco-artist  Alicja –  check out her ETSY shop  BluReco.