How to make fingerless mittens from socks

Hi everyone – sorry to have neglected you lately!

Although it is getting (rapidly) warmer here in Melbourne (35degC today), I’ve been reading lots of lovely blogs from the northern hemisphere and have a very quick craft project that might be of interest to readers from that part of the world.

During the winter just gone, I needed a new pair of fingerless mittens to keep my hands warm while I was typing or otherwise working, and was unable to find what I wanted, no matter how hard I looked. Because I have psoriatic arthritis, regular fingerless gloves and mittens put pressure in the wrong places, and make my hands very uncomfortable, so I get very fussy.

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Then, while folding the washing, I came across a way to solve my need for mittens, and to use up socks whose feet had disintegrated beyond the hope of darning…

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In my case, I used one pink and one blue-striped sock, because I re-fashioned the other disintegrating pink sock into an iPod cozy for Meg, and couldn’t find the pair to the blue sock… They were identical socks, except for the colour, so the mittens have ended up sort-of looking like a pair.

As you can see above, I cut the feet from the socks and just used the leg part for my mittens. For ease of construction and to make them look as neat as I could, I kept the bands, and these became the cuffs around the wrists.

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I then cut a small curved piece out of each sock, about half way between the cuff and the cut edge, for my thumbs to fit through.

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… then I rolled the top edge down so that the glove was the right length. The cuff that was formed by doing this hid the raw edge of the sock, and formed a gentle cushion at the base of my fingers.

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Not elegant, perhaps, but a good use for old socks and very, very comfortable for cold, sore hands. Aaaaah!

I didn’t feel the need to line them or finish the edges – after all, they are just for knocking around, not for going out in – but if you did, it would be a simple matter to make a polar fleece or interlock lining which could be attached using blanket stitch for a decorative finish. Just make sure, if you do line them, to put any seams in the lining where they won’t annoy you, like on the back of your hands.

Enjoy!

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Don’t think, just do it!

School holidays (which ended here in Victoria a week ago) coincided with me finishing a big editing job and gave me the opportunity to spend the time with Meg, just enjoying myself. I really wanted to make something big, and had a yen to do some sewing, so I started poring over blog posts and books looking for inspiration.

I have a tendency to over-think projects – sometimes to the point of paralysis – and didn’t want to be caught up in so much planning and preparing that I didn’t actually achieve anything, but ended up just wasting my time.

So, I decided I’d make a quilt. Inspired by a young friend who spent a couple of days sewing with us on the previous holidays, and who made a quilt pretty much from start to finish in that two week period (without any sewing experience), I resolved not to over-think it, just to do it.

The pictures here show the development of my quilt, which measures approximately 48″ square, and was made out of fat quarters from my stash. No shopping; minimal planning; quick cutting and tearing of the pieces, and the top came together really quickly. The colour-combination worked out even better than I had hoped, too.

Once all the blocks were assembled I laid them out on the dining table to work out the best arrangement…

And here is the finished (untrimmed and only partly pressed) top, waiting to be backed. It was based on the pattern shown, from a book called “Quick and Easy Projects for the Weekend Quilter”.

I’m off to assemble the quilt-sandwich and start basting, but before I go I wanted to show you two treats I received during the two week break.

The first treat was my first-ever harvest of lemons. After years of nursing my lemon tree along and maybe getting one small lemon if I was lucky, this year we have so many that I think I will have to freeze lemon juice for use later in the year – otherwise we are going to become enormous from eating too much Lemon Delicious pudding or Syrup cake (both of which I love more than I can tell you!).

My second treat (for taking Meg and supervising her and her friends for a two hour session of Laser Tag), was a tray of gingerbread with a message (above). Eating someone’s words has never tasted so good!

Have a good night!

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Spoilt again

It’s my Birthday, and look what Meg made me… Those of you who know me will see the resemblance, I’m sure.

Calico shopping bag with picture on it, with a softie showing the same image of a woman with curly hair.

The little softie is sitting on my desk, and the bag will accompany me on those (almost daily) trips to the shops or library. Isn’t she clever?!

Now you can see why I consider myself so lucky, with both Meg and her dad making me such beautiful gifts.

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How to turn a scarf into a shopping bag in four easy steps

My friend Linda put me on to the coolest way to make a re-usable shopping bag the other day. Of course, Japanese people have been using this method for about five hundred years, so you might well know about it, but in case you don’t, watch the video below to see how to tie three different styles of bag from a square of fabric, or furoshiki.

I learnt about using furoshiki to wrap presents years ago when I fell in love with shibori dyeing, but had no idea that these apparently simple cloths were so versatile. I love the thought of having three or four scarves in my handbag, and quickly whipping them out when I do the shopping, and producing bags seemingly out of nowhere.

This tying chart has been produced by the Japaned Ministry of the Environment

This tying chart has been produced by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment

The Japanese Ministry of the Environment have created the above tying chart with lots of different patterns for wrapping everything from bottles of wine to watermelons. It is available here, as a downloadable pdf (416kb).

I’ve been practising all weekend with every square of fabric I could lay my hands on. I’m going to hem a few in different sizes, to use when wrapping presents.

If you’d like to do this as well, you might like to pop over to Mommy Cooks for her tutorial on producing a furoshiki with a beautifully mitred hem.

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Chocolate hedgehog slice – a tutorial

 
A triangular white plate with five squares of the finished hedgehog slice beside a mug of tea.
The finished product

One of my favourite recipes as a kid was chocolate Hedgehog slice. Made with crushed biscuits, it is one of those quick and easy ‘melt and mix’ slices that doesn’t need to be cooked – just assembled and chilled to allow it to set.

I’ve been making this a lot lately, and we’ve been really enjoying it, so I thought I’d share the recipe (with a very simple photo tutorial) so that others can make it too.

Butter, cocoa, sugar and a bowl of crushed sweet biscuits are assembled.

Most of the ingredients for Hedgehog.

Ingredients: 

125g (4 1/4 oz) butter
140g (5 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
1 large egg, beaten
1 packet plain sweet biscuits, crushed.

Method:

A stainless steel bowl full of crushed biscuits.

The biscuits form the base of this slice, in the same way they do for a cheesecake base.

Crush the biscuits and add 2 tbsp of cocoa; mix to combine. (Don’t make the pieces too small or too uniform. Variety in the size of the crumbs makes for a much better texture in the finished slice.) I crush them by putting them in a couple of freezer bags and then hitting them with my rolling pin.

A bowl full of crushed biscuits and cocoa, with a container of cocoa next to it.

Mix cocoa and biscuit crumbs together before adding wet ingredients.

Melt the butter and sugar together; add the beaten egg and mix well.

Butter and sugar in a glass mixing jug, in the microwave.

Melting the butter and sugar together in the microwave is quick and easy.

Add the wet ingredients to the biscuit and cocoa mixture.
Mix until all ingredients are well combined. Press into a plastic container, cover and refrigerate until it is cool.

A container filled with the prepared slice is surrounded by other ingredients including butter, cocoa and a measuring cup.

Ready to be covered and refrigerated.

 Prepare the icing; remove container from fridge (remove cover) and …

A green bowl filled with icing sugar, cocoa and butter.

The icing ingredients ready to be mixed

…spread icing over slice.
I make a butter icing, with around 2 cups of icing sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp of butter and a couple of tbsp of cocoa; creaming the butter and sugar/cocoa together, and adding a tiny amount of water if the mixture is too dry, until I get a thick, creamy consistency.

A plastic container filled with the iced hedgehog slice.

Make the icing as fancy or plain as you like.

Return the container to the fridge to allow the icing to set, then cut the slice into 2.5cm (1in) squares and it is ready to be eaten.

If you can wait that long, you should be ready to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and a piece (or two) of hedgehog slice in about an hour.

Enjoy!

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How lucky am I?

I think I am just about the luckiest person in the world, and I have to tell you why…

Today is my wedding anniversary (at least it will be for the next five minutes), and this is what my husband gave me:

The scarf that M made for me

He made me a jumper for our first anniversary, but hasn’t done any knitting in almost 16 years. This year, because Meg was knitting and we were both helping her out, he decided to have make me a scarf. He spent hours on it, and it is absolutely beautiful.
The pattern came from here, and he searched Youtube for tutorials on how to work the lace.
In the words of Meg – the sage 14 year old – “Knitting [Mum] that scarf is pretty sexy, Dad”. Oh yeah.

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Birthday card

Envelope

Envelope

Front of card

Front of card

Jumping girl - inside of card

Jumping girl - inside of card

A friend of Meg’s had a birthday recently, and a party was held last night.

This is the card Meg made to accompany the present. It came complete with decorated envelope and had a pop-up girl who appeared to jump when the card was opened.

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