Showing posts with label Tucson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tucson. Show all posts

How to Rescue Bleeding Yarn

How to Rescue Bleeding Yarn: What to do when your indie dyed yarn is bleeding

Late last year I participated in #getyouryarnwishesgranted on Instagram. I wished for a skein of something indie dyed and within minutes I had two perfect strangers offer to send me some yarn. I love the fiber community! One of the skeins even fit perfectly into my favorite colorways, turquoise and lime. It was love at first sight.

Then I started knitting a gauge swatch and my hands turned blue. I was heartbroken. I hid the yarn at the bottom of my stash for nearly 6 months. It was so pretty that I couldn't throw it away, but I didn't want to use it for fear it would lose all its color as soon as I washed it.

Luckily, there is a great LYS, Grandma's Spinning Wheel, on our side of town. Vicky, the owner, talked me through the process of how to save my yarn. I set to work as soon as I got home.

My yarn was already wound into a ball, so the first step was to skein it to maximize the surface area of the yarn. I'm not a dyer, so I don't have a fancy tool to do this. Instead, I taped the end of the yarn to the top of a dining room chair.
Then I wound the yarn around the chair back and when I was done I used a couple thick pieces of string to secure both yarn tails and hold the skein together.
As you can see, after doing this, my fingers were blue.
My skein looked pretty good, though.
Next I soaked the yarn in a mixture of very hot (almost boiling) water and white vinegar until the water cooled completely.

I was a little worried when I lifted the yarn out because the water was still crystal clear.
I gave the yarn a good rinse with cool water.
After rinsing I used a towel to blot out as much moisture as possible.
Then the skein sat overnight on my sweater drying rack.
Once it was completely dry I wound it back into a ball.

Even though I have a yarn ball winder, I don't have a swift, so I resorted to another low-tech solution. I draped the skein over my studio trash can to keep the yarn from tangling as I wound.
And finally the true test. I knit up a swatch and this time my fingers weren't blue. Now I can happily knit up my next favorite pair of socks.

How to Rescue Bleeding Yarn: What to do when your indie dyed yarn is bleeding

So thank you Vicky for your advice and helping me rescue my bleeding skein of yarn!

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Workshop Update

Private knitting, crochet and sewing lessons in Tucson, Arizona.

I'm taking a little hiatus from teaching my monthly craft workshops, but that doesn't mean I'm not available to give you a little one-on-one crafty inspiration and instruction.

I am currently taking appointments for private lessons in knitting, crocheting and sewing, all levels, beginner to advanced.

For those of you in the Tucson area, I am able to schedule appointments on weekdays, evenings or weekends. My current rate is $25 for a one hour session or $40 for a two hour session.

Send me an e-mail to schedule your appointment.

Happy crafting!

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Tutorial: Outdoor Cat Litter Box

How to build a simple, DIY, outdoor cat litter box that I like to call "The Zen Garden"It's been a few years since the real chilly dog, my blog's namesake, passed away and we have been pet free ever since. We've always enjoyed having pets - dogs, cats and even a few gerbils - but haven't been in a real hurry to invite a new furry friend into our home.

In early January, our pet status changed when Dobby the cat chose to move into our backyard. She also happily comes inside when the weather is less than hospitable.

I like cats. They're soft and cozy and nice to snuggle with. What I don't like, is changing the litter box. Maybe that's why I wasn't actively looking for a pet in the first place. Lucky for me, Tucson has fantastic weather most of the year and Dobby likes being outside. So, I am able to minimize the indoor litter box activity and contain the activity outside by building an outdoor litter box that I like to call "The Zen Garden."

The Zen Garden still needs to be cleaned out every once in awhile, but it's an inexpensive way to keep the house smelling fresh and the yard free from surprises.


  • 8 - 16 inch long edging stones
  • 100 lbs of non-clumping cat litter
  • rake
  • level (optional)


When you go to the store to get the cat litter for this project, make sure you buy the cheap, non-clumping kind or you will have a gigantic ball of clay when the first rainstorm hits.

Also, be prepared for some interesting questions at the cash register or even from other customers when you are walking around with 100 lbs of cat litter in your cart. (My husband was ready to say that we just adopted a tiger cub.)

Location, location, location. Find a spot in your yard to place your litter box. I chose a spot by the wall that's surrounded by trees and bushes so the litter box will be mostly hidden and away from our patio table and fire pit.
Next, clear an area about 3 feet square and 3 inches deep. For me it was just a matter of raking some rocks out of the way, but it may take a little more elbow grease depending on where you live.
Place your edging stones in a square with two edgers on each side. If you are a perfectionist, go ahead and make sure the edgers are level, too.

(If you like the edgers I used, I got them from the garden section at Lowes, Tan Matt Log Edging Stone.)
Carefully remove any nosy cats then fill the area with litter.

Finally, let your cat add some feng shui to the zen garden.

Please remember that even though it's outside, you will need to remove the solid waste from time to time. You will also need to add more litter occasionally.

How to build a simple, DIY, outdoor cat litter box that I like to call "The Zen Garden"

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Field Trip: Tucson Botanical Gardens

I'm going to take a little break from my normal crafty topics today. Instead of crafting, let's go on a field trip!

When my daughter was much younger, one of the places we enjoyed exploring together was the Tucson Botanical Gardens. The property is beautifully maintained and has a variety of plant life and exhibits that always please. Unfortunately, over the years, hanging out with mom and looking at plants became increasingly "uncool" so our visits to the garden became less frequent.

Now that mini-me is out of the house, my husband and I have had more time to spend doing the things we enjoy, so a couple weeks ago we headed out to the gardens.

Since our last visit, the Garden Railway exhibit has expanded. The mini town is enchanting, especially as the model train zooms by.

I especially liked this little store on main street. Maybe it would be easier to get our husbands to join us at the fabric shop if it was more like this one ;)

We saw some critters throughout the gardens.

Of course I am always on the lookout for project ideas like this beautiful mosaic bench.

But the highlight of our visit was Butterfly Magic in the Butterfly and Orchid (and tree frog) Pavillion.

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Gardens

 After wandering the grounds, imagine our surprise when we turned a corner to discover...

 I guess it's time to head back to the sewing room and get to work!

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Fun From Finland 2

It's been a few month's since my friend Henna and I swapped packages. You may remember my first Fun From Finland post.

Henna and I met through Etsy and decided to exchange crafty care packages. It was my first time ever doing a swap, but I liked the idea of having a pen pal, learning a bit about a new culture and getting some goodies.

A lot of my local friends were curious about the first swap, too. They were as eager for me to receive my package from Finland as I was. Needless to say we were not disappointed.

Since then, I've been collecting more goodies to send Henna. We are both interested in crafts and fiber arts. Henna also collects postcards and old pictures. So my second package to her contained two skeins of yarn, a knitting needle case, postcards from our trip to the Dominican Republic, a small loom for making yarn flowers, a tiny pair of kitty shaped scissors, a bag I made from re-purposed plastic shopping bags, a magazine about Tucson and a pair of vintage framed pictures.

I wrapped it all up and sent it on it's way. Then I waited. It usually takes 2-3 weeks for packages to travel between the US and Europe.

While I was waiting, I decided to get my knitting needles out and create a little something with the yarn Henna sent in the first package. I ended up making an infinity scarf. My pictures hardly do it justice (probably because it was 105 degrees outside when my daughter and I were taking pictures and we were anxious to get back into the AC).

And finally, my package from Henna arrived. It contained a bunch of fun fabrics, a Marimekko coin purse, a pair of fridge magnets, a handmade ceramic bird necklace created by a Finnish artist, a handful of cute little patches and some lace trim, some magazines about Joensuu, a craft magazine with the materials to make a mini fabric purse, and a green coin purse that Henna made. (I get to add a little embellishment to Henna's coin purse and send it back to her the next time we do a swap.)

I can hardly even describe how much joy this fun package gave me. I promptly put the magnets on our fridge with the rest of my collection. My husband and I had a great time flipping through the Finnish magazines trying to choose our perfect vacation home ;) And as silly as it may seem, hand-stitching the Mollie Makes fabric purse made me feel like a kid again.

I don't even remember the last time I did a sewing project without the help of my machine. It turned out so cute that I wanted to keep it for myself, but I know someone who needs it more than me. I'll tell you who and share a special project in my next post.

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Graduation Day!

Mischief Managed Graduation Cap: Harry Potter Marauder's Map inspired mortarboardI'm feeling a little Pomp and Circumstance coming on! Today is pretty important in our house because our daughter will be graduating from high school this evening. I am so proud of my girl, but I am having a tough time wrapping my head around the idea that I'm old enough to have a kid in college. And don't even let me start thinking about becoming an empty nester in three months. But I'm going to put my worries aside and just enjoy today's celebration.

Like so many events in our house, graduation prompted a crafty project. This one however was created by my daughter, not me. She is a child of the Harry Potter generation and decided to decorate her mortarboard with her representation of the Marauder's Map.

She used a wash of coffee to give her paper a vintage finish. Everything else was hand drawn, by her, with pen. I especially like the way she incorporated the Empire High School "E" at the center of the castle and represented the school mascot, the Ravens, with a flag flying above the castle.

Mischief Managed Graduation Cap: Harry Potter Marauder's Map inspired mortarboard

Now, high school diploma in hand, she'll be heading to college, Mischief Managed!

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Fun From Finland

Now that I am not working in an office, I spend most of my days crafting in my studio or blogging. It's a fairly solitary existence until my family gets home in the afternoons. Sometimes I really miss not being able to share the latest news and happenings over lunch with my office mates.

However, I am finding that blogging and running an Etsy shop have introduced me to a number of interesting artists and crafters. Even though I have only met a couple in real life, or at least by video chat, I have been lucky to interact with some incredible people from around the world.

My most recent interaction was with another Etsian. She contacted me and said she really liked a couple of the roll-up crochet hook and knitting needle cases in my shop. She also said she had some yarns that I may like and asked if I would be interested in doing a swap.

Hmm... You hear a lot of stories about wierdos on the internet. I was a little reluctant at first, but figured worst case scenario I would be out the two cases that I sent her and the cost of shipping.

Henna is a fiber arts enthusiast, like me. We exchanged a few e-mails and she sent me some pictures of her yarn stash so I could choose my favorites. We also shared a little bit about our interests, culture and where we live. It turns out that Henna is from Finland. That was pretty exciting to me because my great-grandparents came to the US from Finland.

So we each put together a little care package for the other.

My package included:
  • roll-up knitting needle case (made by me)
  • roll-up crochet hook case (made by me)
  • beaded knitting stitch markers (made by me)
  • a few vintage postcards and photos
  • a few new postcards featuring Arizona sights
  • Mexican cook book
  • Disneyland map and Mickey Mouse pin
  • Hershey Bar and M&Ms
We both shipped our packages on the same day. And then we waited... two weeks.

I was so thrilled the day my package arrived!
The envelope contained a shopping tote with a map of Joensuu, Henna's home town, on the outside.
Inside the tote I found five beautiful skeins of yarn. The colors are incredible!
Assorted cards and postcards - I especially liked the ones with the Moomins. They are sort of like the Disney characters of Finland.
A variety of teas - The Moomin characters are so popular you can even find them on the teas ;)
And a Kismet bar. Yum!
I shared the chocolate with my family. I'm still working on the teas. My favorite flavor so far was the Forest Fruit tea. And I recently finished a knit summer sweater with the two skeins of lightweight nylon yarn.

Now, Henna and I are collecting more items so we can do another swap in a few months and I can hardly wait!

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