DIY Reed Diffusers

I’m the worst hoarder and can’t bear to throw anything out if I can re-use it, or make it into something else. I love reed diffusers and the shapes of the bottles they come in. Needless to say I have saved quite a few empty ones.

They are perfectly reusable (after a run through the dishwasher to remove as much of the previous contents as possible, though a hint of the old fragrance remains. The reeds however become clogged with the scented oil so need to be discarded.

I ordered some more reeds online along with a bottle of Augeo – this is the solvent that is used in most reed diffusers on the market. Some DIY recipes use vodka or sweet almond oil, but Augeo gives the best scent throw. The only other ingredient is the fragrance: either fragrance oils (as used for scented candles) or essential oils used in aromatherapy. I’ve dabbled in both so still have a selection. Sometimes it pays not to throw anything away!

The other thing I used is a recently acquired set of measuring cups.

These stack together and have a pouring lip. I’ve previously used them for making up dye solutions for colouring my handspun yarn.

Daughter (also a reed diffuser fan) was over here on Sunday and we assembled a few diffusers.

I had previously worked out the capacity of all the decorative bottles by filling each with water and emptying into a measuring cup – I wrote the capacity on the base of each bottle with a Sharpie. This saved a load of time and avoided wasting materials.

We used the following proportions:

For fragrance oils: One part fragrance oil to three parts Augeo (ie 25%)

For essential oils: 30-40 drops for every 100mls Augeo

Tor a 40 ml bottle therefore, you would add 10mls of fragrance oil (or about 12-15 drops essential oil) and add 30mls Augeo or top up to 40mls, then mix thoroughly.

You can then either add the stopper until needed or add 5-8 reeds. These can be inverted after a few hours to boost the scent.

Of the ones I made, which used fragrance oil, I had great results and quite a strong smell with the melon and cucumber fragrance and vanilla and black pepper. Not as strong but still very good was the lime, basil and mandarin fragrance oil. Daughter tried a half and half blend of jasmine and lemongrass essential oils in one of her diffusers but reported that the scent was quite faint. This could be because the essential oils were quite old. It is also possible that the fragrance oils are created as a blend of essential oils and chemicals that enhance the scent throw so will always appear stronger. Different oils has have different densities that will influence how quickly they will diffuse. It is worth keeping notes of what is in each blend and how they perform so successes can be repeated and weaker scents adjusted to a higher concentration.

The diffusers were really quick to do and inexpensive as I already had the fragrances. I’d certainly make them again. The craft room looked more like a chemistry lab but it smelt delicious!

Knit and Natter 7th May

Another crop of makes from our Knit and Natterers were on show on Friday,.

T is crocheting colourful wraps (shown above) for the yarn bombing installation we are taking part in this summer. We hope to identify a site within Alnwick Garden that we’ll be able to decorate with our handiwork. One suggestion was the Chatty Bench – a designated place to sit and chat, which would fit in with what our group is all about. We found out that this was right next to the toilets though, which put us off somewhat! We are now looking for somewhere else but wherever we end up it will certainly stand out with Tracey’s crocheting!.

A has crocheted a baby blanket.

She knitted this baby top (which has a matching hat too).

We’ve seen a lot of R’s gorgeous hexagon patchwork as it has grown over recent weeks. She’s not the only quilter in the group though. This week L showed us a quilt she’s been working on. The fabric prints, in lilac shades, have a butterfly theme.

The reverse is deep pink with polka dots.

Y has had a busy week but has not neglected her knitting. She’s been working on this cabled cardigan.

I’m still spinning alpaca and have tried dying some of it.

All in all a busy week for the group.

Dyeing Day

I started spinning yarn in September and after a while I thought is would be great to try dyeing some of the yarn I spin, especially when I have a great supply of raw alpaca from friends who own a couple of these adorable animals. I got a dye kit for Christmas and this week I finally got around to using it. I’ve been collecting suitable containers for dye stock and to use as dye baths. I also acquired a second hand microwave. You really need to keep these separate and not use them for food once they’ve been used with the dyes.

These are acid dyes, which are used specifically for protein fibres, including wool, alpaca and silk. The kit from DT Crafts includes 10 pots of different coloured dyes, citric acid, a measuring spoon, protective apron and gloves and a detailed instruction booklet.

I began by retying the skeins of yarn. Usually I secure the skein ends by tying a couple of half hitches but this would be too tight and stop the dye getting to some of the yarn. I undid these and used some strips of plastic bag very loosely tied in a figure of eight so the dye could circulate freely. I then thoroughly soaked the yarn in water.

Meanwhile I mixed up the dye solutions using 3 colours of dye powder adding citric acid powder to fix the dye.

I used three different methods. The dye needs heat to fix it as well as the acid. With the turquoise dye I placed the soaked yarn in an old pan with water and dye solution and brought to simmering point on the hob , keeping at this temperature for 30 minutes,

I used the green dye (more of a teal shade) in a shallower vessel in the microwave, heating this for 20 minutes in five minute bursts, stirring in between.

At the end of cooking the liquid should turn clear as the the dye molecules leave the solution and chemically bond to the fibre.

for the final batch I laid the soaked skeins on clingfilm and painted stripes of violet,turquise and green dye onto the yarn,, massaging it into the fibre and allowing the colours to bleed into each other. The skein was then wrapped in clingfilm and microwaved for 20 minutes.

All three were allowed to cool in situ before rinsing, and hanging up to dry

Here are the finished skeins

The turquoise yarn (left), which was simmered on the hob,gave a lovely solid colour. The teal/green which was microwaved (2nd from left) was a little patchy – I’m not sure if the dye bath was too shallow or I hadn’t got the temperature quite right, but I quite like the effect. The painted yarn (right and 2nd from right) worked well, though the turquoise and teal are quite close in colour. I love how vibrant the colours are and it was such good fun to do. I’m frantically spinning enough yarn to make a jumper for myself and am mulling over which colours to usefor that. I also want to try dyeing fibre before spinning and experiment with mixing colours. The possibilities are endless!

Knit and Natter 29th April

We had another lively session on Friday. Y has completed this amazing sweater for husband, C, made from his handspun yarn. isn’t it amazing. Y joined us from her car as she was out of the house – even the car has some of her handiwork in the form of this crocheted rainbow.

A borrowed my knitting loom set to have a go and made this baby hat. We agreed that loom knitting can be a real yarn guzzler, with several strands needed to get a decent finish.

L has been loom knitting for ages and uses chunky yarn when she can – here are some of her adult hats.

She’s also working on this pretty pink striped blanket.

S has made this barn owl motif, which will be added to a banner depicting endangered wildlife. The banner will be on show at the forthcoming Climate Change Summit.

She’s also finished a pretty baby cardigan and found the perfect buttons.

R’s patchwork is getting huge!

I’m still spinning alpaca for a jumper for myself.

Spring Walk at Druridge Bay

The other day we met some friends, who are visiting the area, for a walk at Druridge Bay Country Park. Daughter came too and the dogs had a lovely time. Our Buddy was joined by our friends’ cockapoo, Bertie.

The cowslips are in full bloom now.

The mallard ducklings have hatched.

It was a perfect day (although there was a cold wind) and there wasn’t another soul on the beach. Beautiful!

The Craft Room Gets a Makeover and More Buddy Bedding

I have a ridiculous amount of crafty stuff. There is fabric, a sewing machine and sewing accessories, loads of yarn and fibre, my drum carder and other spinning accessories, art and card-making materials, beads and jewellery making supplies and much more. I came across the acronym SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy) a while ago and it must apply to me.

The candle-making kit, has invaded the garage, also known as K’s man cave (and he want’s it out) but everything else is in the conservatory, which is where I do my crafty activities. It had become a sorry mess. Until recently I shared the space with son’s drum kit, but that’s gone now. Also, I recently got a second hand microwave that I plan to use for dyeing fibre and yarn. I needed to move things around to accommodate that. I bought a load of plastic crates and, with a lot of help from daughter, who has been an absolute star, we’ve sorted the space out. I love it!

The first job I tackled in the newly revamped space were doggy duvet covers! I made some cosy doggy bedding a while ago from an old duvet, but the white cotton covering shows every muddy paw mark. I had a couple of old throws made from a nice soft fleece fabric, which were surplus to requirements so I’ve used these to cover some of the doggy duvets. I just cut them to size, pinned them in place over the duvets and machine stitched all the way round, about 2 cm from the edge and then again as close to the edge as possible.

They look much better than the uncovered ones.

More importantly, Buddy seems to really like them!

What do you make for your pets?

Knit & Natter 23 April

We had a small but select gathering online for our Knit and Natter Group on Friday. As you can see, we are all keeping busy!

R’s hexagon patchwork (pictured above) is growing rapidly.

A is also working with hexagons – in crochet, being pieced together to make a pretty blanket in shades of pink.

L is making this knitting T shirt top.

We recently heard about an opportunity to take part in a yarn bombing event at Alnwick Garden. We are all rather excited about this and T has started already. This colourful scarf will look amazing wrapped round a tree!

I’m still spinning alpaca fleece. I’m working towards a sweater for myself.

It’s always great to see what everyone is working on.Knitting,crochet

Spinning With A View: Alnwick Garden

I’ve always enjoyed knitting with a view. This usually entails a drive to the beach. I sit in the car watching the waves (and knitting) while K walks the dog. I recently acquired a battery pack for my little e-spinner, so I can spin yarn anywhere. I took it outside for the first time today for some very scenic spinning at the Alnwick Garden.

We wandered up to the walled garden first of all. In spring this part of the garden has a spectacular display of tulips.

There are a couple of secluded little secret gardens, sheltered by tall yew hedges with a central pool and fountain.

I stopped at a bench here and spun some of the alpaca fibre I prepared. It is such a peaceful spot.

Our next stop was the Cherry Orchard. Here 329 Taihaku cherry trees are planted on a steep slope. At the moment the cherry blossom is at its peak and it is breathtaking.

Every branch is smothered in white flowers which are alive with bees feasting on the nectar .

A path snakes down the bank through the trees in a series of hairpins, past benches and swing seats. I stopped here for a bit more spinning.

On we went past the poison garden and stopped for a coffee on the lawns in front of the grand cascade.

I’d packed my spinning into a little old picnic hamper which also balances on the front of my scooter so I can set up on there.

It was a perfect spring day, with hardly a cloud in the sky and warm in the sun out of the wind. I’m looking forward to a lot more more al fresco spinning this summer.

Purple Flower Hat

When there’s a new baby being fussed over and showered with gifts, older siblings can get left out. When I delivered the Teddy Bear Baby Hoodie for my friend’s new baby boy I wanted to take something for his big sister. I didn’t have much time to come up with something but I made this flower hat on the knitting loom and it didn’t take long at all.

I used three strands of DK yarn, each in a different colour (purple, magenta and lilac).

When I finished it is felt there was something missing.

I crocheted a flower and sewed it on. Much better!

It was lovely to see the children and their mum this morning when I took their presents over. We sat in the garden and had coffee. What a nice way to spend a morning!

What do you make when you need a last minute gift?

Teddy Bear Baby Hoodie

Do you have a go to pattern when knitting for a new baby? This is one of mine. I’ve done it at least five times now. I even made it twice for my great nephew. He grew out of the first one and his mum asked if I could make it again in a larger size as they all liked it so much! I’ve just knitted it again for a friend’s new baby boy and I’m looking forward to meeting him when I deliver it in person tomorrow.

It’s a Stylecraft Lullaby pattern and I think both pattern and yarn are discontinued so I needed to pick out an alternative DK yarn.

When I bought it and the matching buttons, all but essential shops were closed as part of the COVID Lockdown (though many of us might consider yarn/craft shops as pretty essential! ) I was still able to choose yarn and buttons from The Amble Pin Cushion via a series of messages. Proprietor Norma picked out a selection of suitable yarns and sent a photo. I picked the shade I liked best in a washable yarn (hand wash only baby clothes are not a very practical gift!). We repeated the process with the buttons, then I paid by phone and went to collect my order the next day – Norma even brought it out to my car!

The hoodie uses a DK yarn and it’s knitted in a broken rib pattern with K2P2 rib edges.

The cute teddy bear ears are what make it special.

Although there are a lot of components to sew together it is fun to knit. I hope its new owner likes it!

What is your go-to baby knit?