DIY Bedding Box

A few months ago I was given a very old and rather sorry-looking bedding box. Although slightly forlorn, I knew it wasn’t quite bin-worthy so I decided to give it a new lease of life, and at the same time create a home for my, ahem, rather large collection of wool. I knew just the girl to help me: Laura Capper of Laura’s Attic. As the home of furniture re-upholstery, Laura’s studio contains all sorts of tricks and tools for projects just like this one – such as a magnetic hammer, possibly the coolest invention ever? So over numerous cups of tea, she helped me primp and preen my bedding box into a thing of floral beauty. So here is a little DIY story for you today…

Poor old bedding box before its makeover…

Little bit ragged around the edges…

First we ripped off the lid covering and pulled out many rusty old nails, and I gave the box a good clean with soapy water…

Then I painted on two coats of moss green paint, to match the fabric I had chosen for the lid of the box…


Now on to the lid: we took off the rusty old hinges and chain…

And I cut out a rectangle each of upholstery foam and wool batting, to fit on top of the lid…

I used spray adhesive to stick the two layers on top of the lid…

Then we positioned the lid on top of my chosen fabric…

And I used a staple gun to secure the fabric all the way around, pulling the fabric taught…

Then trimmed off the excess material…

Next I used a glue gun to attach bias binding all the way around the edge of the lid (that neat corner, there? Yep, that was all Laura. It takes quite a bit of practice to get them that neat – and a good magnetic hammer…)

Then I used the glue gun to attach my pom-pom trim – my favourite part!


And it’s done – all apart from attaching new hinges and chain to the lid…

I’m sorry to say that the box sat in my sewing room all over Christmas, waiting for its hinges and chain to be added. But this past week my boyfriend obliged…


And my bedding box really is finished! Now, I wonder how much wool I can squash in there…



Double rainbow

One of the many books I have out on, ahem, extended loan from the library where I work is The Gentle Art of Knitting by Jane Brocket. It is a great book, packed full of great patterns and, crucially, lovely photographs. Each pattern comes with a bit of background story on the inspiration and design behind it, and is written with Jane’s trademark familiarity and friendliness which you can also find on her blog. Jane is so nice that, when I emailed her recently with an absolutely bonkers question about an idiot-proof – and rather simple – pattern from the book, she didn’t just ignore my email, or even, with an eye-roll, delete it. No, she replied to me very kindly. Sorry about that, Jane. And thanks!

When I first got my hands on ‘The Gentle Art of Knitting’, I immediately flicked through the pages to find out what I wanted to knit first. It is so jam-packed with loveliness that I found myself, on every other page, saying “I want to make that”, “and that”, “and that”, but, truth be told, it was when I got to this page that I stopped, put the book down and said “I REALLY want to make THAT!”

On a trip to New York last year I had come very close to buying a similar cushion; rainbow-coloured, with black stripes and a black button in the middle. I loved it, but it was just a bit too…flea-markety to justify taking home on a plane with me. So here was my chance to make my own!

This pattern is a lot of fun, and deceptively simple to knit, too. You knit the cushion not from the middle out, but round, like a clock, working in little steps up and down each coloured panel. It’s all worked in garter stitch, and involves simply knitting, then turning, then knitting back down each row. What could be easier! Plus, it’s great for using up those oddments of wool you have left at the end of projects. I didn’t have to buy any wool to complete my double-sided cushion, and when I ran out of the pink I was using, so just used another I had in my stash. I really like the effect, and that it’s not too perfect.

This is a great project to do while sitting in front of the TV, as it doesn’t require too much concentration. And if you decide you’ve had enough after knitting one side, or have run out of certain wool colours, you could always knit the other side in a single colour – or even cut out a circular piece of fabric to back it instead. The possibilities are endless! These cushions could easily take over your living room if you let them. But you want your guests to be comfortable, right!? So put The Gentle Art of Knitting on your Christmas list and get looking through your wool stash for inspiration. I bet you’ll find it.

Square Eyes

About four years ago, I learned to crochet. I say “learned” like it was an easy task, but in fact it was a long, arduous process in which I would sit with my crochet hook and wool, and struggle, then swear, then throw the whole lot across the room. I went on like this for about eight months. I could knit perfectly well, for goodness’ sake! Why couldn’t I do the crochet dance? My annoyance mainly stemmed from wanting so much to be able to make a granny square. Those neat little colourful squares looked so much fun – and so satisfying – and I wanted to join the club. Mostly, really, after falling in love with this wondrous granny square afghan by Molly Chicken.

So I persevered, and thanks to lots of patient help and demonstrations from my friends Mabel and Helen, it finally, one day, just…clicked. I got it! I was no longer resigned to gaze with wonder at the projects in my copy of Happy Hooker. Finally, single and double and triple crochet meant something to me, and I knew how to make a magic circle, and I could actually understand those little symbols in crochet patterns!

As usual, I jumped right in, ordering eight balls of Rowan Pure Wool DK in bright rainbow colours, and with Happy Hooker as my guide, I set to work. Man, I was obsessed. After eight months of pent-up crochet frustration, I must admit I got a little bit carried away. I drew out a chart so I could tick off the colours and avoid the horror of making two squares in the same colours (NEVER). I took my squares everywhere with me, and crocheted wherever and whenever I could: on the bus to and from work, in the car (as a passenger, silly), on my lunchbreak. I even took them all on holiday to Indonesia with me, along with a wooden hook so I could crochet on the plane.

Gradually, my pile of squares grew. I wasn’t sure yet how big I wanted my finished blanket to be, but after a while I had enough to be able to lay the squares out and play with colour combinations: another very addictive activity.

I would highly recommend weaving the ends of your squares in as you go, taking a break from crocheting to tidy them up. Otherwise you’ll have them all to do at the end, and that would be a pretty monotonous job. After another month I needed to buy more wool…and after another month I had enough so my blanket measured 9 by 11 squares, which I decided was enough. I spent a good, ahem, few days playing around with the layout of the squares, then sorted then into neat piles before stitching them together using a simple mattress stitch, first stitching the squares into rows, then stitching the rows together. In the end, my blanket about one metre by 140cm.

And so, after several months, many miles of travelling and lots and lots and lots of wool the granny square afghan…was finished! It now has pride of place on our sofa. I actually finished this blanket a couple of years ago, so think I’m about ready to tackle a new crocheted afghan…maybe a black number…and a bit bigger this time I think…

A woolly wedding present

Last December, one of Jim’s best friends, Kevin, got married. He and his wife-to-be, Joanna, requested that instead of wedding presents, people donate money to their honeymoon fund. Like true annoying friends, we ignored this request, because we felt that we had to MAKE them something unique that would remind them of their special day forever.

We thought long and hard about what we could make…a blanket, maybe? But I had already made one for my friend Penny when she got married. Matching waistcoats? Bit weird. Ooh, how about a knitted cushion with their faces on it!?


We set to work scouring Facebook for a photograph of Kevin and Joanna that was both cute and flattering, and settled on this one:

Jim then worked his magic on Photoshop; zooming in, making the photo monochrome and putting it into a grid for me to knit. Kevin and Joanna suddenly became strange pixelly versions of themselves. But if you have ever tried knitting a picture straight from a grid, you’ll know that the image will distort slightly, becoming wider. This is because in a grid the squares are, well, square, but knitted stitches are wider than they are tall. I was quite worried about giving Kevin and Joanna a wedding present that made them look fat, but luckily Jim again worked his magic, stretching the grid to give them nice tall heads:

Then it was over to me for the knitting part. I thought it would be wise to stick to two colours so there wouldn’t be too much going on. As it was a Christmas wedding, I plumped for red and cream in the end. Nice and festive, and fairly safe just in case Kevin and Joanna weren’t fans of insane neon colours.

So I began to work through the grid, bottom up, knitting the grey squares in cream wool and the black ones in red…

Once I got going, it didn’t take too long to knit. It was so fun seeing Kevin and Joanna’s little faces appear in the wool, and before long, the front was done! We also threw a cute little heart in there for good measure.

As for the back, I thought it would be nice to include the date of the wedding, and maybe some more hearts. And stripes! Stripes are good. Basically I wanted Kevin and Joanna to have the option of turning the cushion around in case they got sick of looking at their own knitted faces. So I drew out their initials, some hearts and the date of the wedding on graph paper, and freestyled some stripes.

I decided to make the back as an envelope closure so Kevin and Joanna could take the cover of the cushion off to wash it. I found some nice big wooden buttons for this. Once the front and back were knitted, it was time to block them, sew them up…

…and voilà! A cushion fit for a lovely couple. This project was lots of fun, and Kevin and Joanna assured us that they loved it. Hooray! As a bonus, I now know how to take my friends’ faces and convert them into wool-based homewares. And that is a most excellent life skill, right?

I’ve arrived

So, after encouragement from various friends, I finally started a blog. A BLOG YAY! Creative activities are a really big part of my life, so this is where I will jabber on about them. I will also talk about things, people and other places on the internet that inspire me. Because I get very excited when I find nice things I want to share.

So I’ll begin with a project I finished recently: the doily lampshade. After reading this post on the DOS Family blog I immediately became over-excited at the idea of making my own lovely lacy lampshade. After a couple of months of ebay-battling and charity shop-scrounging I had all the materials needed: a huge balloon, a LOT of cotton doilies and wallpaper paste.

Then you just paste, and paste some more…

until all covered and nice and dry!

Next it’s time to pop the balloon, hang up and gaze adoringly at your homemade shade.

Want to make your own? Go on, it’s dead easy and FUN too. Hop on over to the DOS family blog for full instructions.

Wow, a blog post! I did it, you guys! Procrastination is over. Buckle up blogland. I am READY!