Homemade Foam Stamps

I saw this tutorial about making your own packaging and decided to use some of ArtMind‘s tips to create my own tags to go with my Amigurumi Pears.

I used a small piece of foam and outlined a pear shape with a pencil onto the foam. The vertical lines marked the sides of the tags I was using.
DIY Foam Stamp 1

Using a craft knife, I cut along the outline of the pear but only going halfway through the foam.
DIY Foam Stamp 2

Then I cut along side of the foam until I reached the cuts I made for the outline of the pear.
DIY Foam Stamp 3
DIY Foam Stamp 4

And within minutes, I had made a pear shaped foam stamp! Dip in a little acrylic paint and got stamping right away.
DIY Foam Stamp 5

I tested the stamp several times on scrap pieces of paper and immediately fell in love with the texture the foam gave to the pear stamp.
Testing Foam Stamp

Now for the real thing. I stamped the paper tags I bought from Officeworks and drew in the stalks with a Sharpie.
Stamping on Tags

I also wrote a little message above the pear. (Thanks Mike! ;) )
A Message on Tags

I’ll show you the rest of the packaging in my next blog post.

Oh. By the way, have you had your cuddle today?

NO!?

Well, here’s a little hug from me… H-U-U-G-GG! :D

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September Giveaway sponsored by Ecoyarns

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How to Store Painting Tools

Brushes, rollers and leftover paint have to be stored properly to prolong their life. I thought I might share some useful tips that I’ve gotten from here and there on how to do this.

Most importantly, you must clean your painting tools according to the type of paint you’ve used. Most household paints are now water-based so painting tools are a lot easier to clean. Simply scrap off excess paint onto several layers of newspaper and rinse in warm, soapy water. For a paint roller, roll the excess paint onto newspaper before washing in the same way. You can also get a tool from your hardware store, like Bunnings, which squeezes the excess paint out of rollers. Cheap and very handy.

Once your painting tools are clean and dry, you can’t just throw them into a drawer and hope for the best the next time you need them. With a little help from good, old regular cling wrap, you can ensure that your painting tools stay in good condition.
Equipment

Wrap your clean, dry brushes and rollers in cling wrap. The cling wrap keeps the bristles in position and keep your painting tools free from dust.
Using Cling Wrap
Cling Wrap Rollers Too

If you’ve spent a bit more to buy quality paint brushes, the brushes would have come with protective sheaths. These sheaths are not merely for packaging and marketing. They are designed to be reused over and over again to store your brushes in pristine condition.
Using the Protective Covers

I’ve also recently learnt from my father-in-law the proper way to store leftover paint long term. The air in your half-empty (or half-full :P ) can of paint will slowly dry out your paint. So a piece of cling wrap placed directly on the paint will protect its surface. Your paint will now stay fresh longer. Obvious, isn’t it? Talk about a DUH moment.
Placing Cling Wrap in Paint Tins
Placing Cling Wrap in Paint Tins

And before you hammer the lid closed on your can of paint, grab a piece of flat wood. Place it on the rim of the lid and gently tap the wood with the hammer. It’s a lot easier to open the lid next time if the lid is not damaged.

Hope these tips help in some way. And if you have more tips or you’ve got a better way of doing things, feel free to leave a comment. I would love to hear from you, even if it’s just to say hello!

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DIY Neck Coolers

First and foremost, THANK YOU. Thank you for all your wishes and condolences. It means a lot to me. (sniff sniff)

Ok. Let’s quickly move on before I start crying again. I’ve made another handmade gift for my grandmother. Well, two actually. She is in her 80s now and the hot, humid, tropical weather of Singapore is really getting to her. (Climate change I tell ya!) I got the idea of the skinny neck cooler from a visit to a pharmacy. I love snooping around pharmacies. Maybe it’s the hypochondriac in me. :P I saw the neck cooler weeks ago and thought that would be perfect for bush walking or for my grandma. Regrettably, I didn’t buy it then.

Yesterday I went to two pharmacies hunting for the neck coolers with no success. They only had overpriced large wheat bags and the medipacks. So with a quick google search, I found this crystal filled neck cooler tutorial. The crystals in the neck cooler swell with liquid to hundreds of times their weight. As liquid from the crystals evaporate , it lowers the body temperature.

Water Storage Crystals
But I didn’t know where to buy the water storing crystals. The only similar crystals I could think of which is readily available here is the water storing crystals that you use in the garden. I read up more about it and the garden variety crystal looked safe, especially since there will be no direct skin contact.

Crystals Swell with Liquid
I soaked 1tsp of dry crystals in water while I sewed up 80cm by 4cm cotton tubes, with one end open. I used this bandana design as a guide. I sewed scross the width of the tube about 20cm from the closed end. Once the crystals had swelled with liquid, I filled the tube with them and sewed the tube close and also sewed across 20cm from the end. The parts that aren’t filled with crystal become the ties to hold the neck cooler in place. I think my grandmother would like this very much.

(Unswelled) Crystal Filled Neck Cooler
I made three more of these cotton neck tubes. I filled two of them with 1tsp of dry crystals each and sewed it up like the first one. Then I soaked the middle part of the tubes in water. The crystals soaked in the water through the cotton material and swelled inside the cotton tube. It worked well both ways! It’s definitely a lot easier to fill the cotton tube with dry crystals so I’ll do it this way from now.

Soaking Crystals in Neck Cooler
When the crystals lose all their moisture or they feel dry, the crystals can be simply reactivated by soaking it in water again. These neck coolers are super cool! Literally!

Crystal Filled Neck Cooler
I’m keeping these two for when Richard and I go bush walking in Singapore. :) Aren’t I clever?

Rice Filled Neck Cooler
I decided to fill the last tube with rice. This is the back up neck cooler, just in case she doesn’t like the wet feel around her neck. It won’t keep cool as long as the crystal filled one but the rice neck cooler might work better on really humid days where the evaporative cooling method won’t be as effective.

The rice filled neck cooler is stored in the freezer in a plastic bag until she’s ready to use it. I have used my wheat bag chilled in this way and it was so handy in bed on hot summer nights. Stays cold long enough for me to fall asleep.

I’m in a mad rush to get things ready. Only one more sleep to go! Singapore here I come!

Related Post:
Sectioning Homemade Heat Pads

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How to Block a Scarf You Can Be Proud Of

Let’s start with why you should block your knitting. “The Knitting Answer Book” by Margaret Redcliffe summarises it into five reasons:

  1. Reduce curling, straighten edges and make sewing up easier.
  2. Get rid of slight variations in length or width between two pieces that should match.
  3. Open out a fabric, such as lace, to show off the patterning.
  4. Smooth the surface of the knitting and make the stitches more even.
  5. Adjust the shape of the finished garment or reshape it after washing.

You can see how this is demonstrated in my before and after photos of the my Asherton Reversible scarf below.

Before & After
Knitted Asherton Scarf WIPAsherton Reversible Scarf

There are many ways to block knitting depending on the item you’re blocking and what yarn you use. The most common ways are misting, steaming and wet blocking. The method below is wet blocking. I’m by no means an expert but I have successfully blocked several knitted wool scarves and shawls this way. I hope this tutorial helps beginner knitters overcome the fear of blocking and guide them through the procedure . It really isn’t that hard! :)

HOW TO BLOCK A KNITTED SCARF

You’ll need wool detergent, a sink, washing machine, pillow case, a large flat surface like a bed and rust-proof pins.

1. Wash
Fill tub or sink with warm water and add a little wool detergent. (Check the bottle label for exact measurement.) Soak scarf in warm soapy water for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, roll the scarf gently while still in the water and pick it up in your hand. Make sure to support it well. Place aside.
Soaking Knitted ScarfHandling

2. Rinse
Empty tub and refill with lukewarm water. Place scarf back into the water and unroll. Swoosh the scarf around lightly in the water.
Rinse Knitted Scarf

3. Spin
Get your pillowcase ready. Roll the scarf underwater and pick it up in your hands. Squeeze as much water out as possible. Place rolled-up scarf into a corner of the pillowcase (I use a bolster case). Tie a knot so that the scarf is squashed into the corner and will not move around. Set washing machine into spin cycle. Spin on fast speed.
Place Knitted Scarf in PillowcaseSpin Knitted Scarf in PillowcaseSpin Cycle

4. Blocking
Carry the pillowcase to a large flat surface like a clean bed. Take the scarf out and unroll it onto the bed. Carefully stretch the wet knitted scarf out onto the bed to about the width and length that you want. You may wish to stop at this point if you are satisfied with the way it looks and leave the scarf to dry completely.
Wet Knitted Scarf

However, you may need to pin the knitted scarf in place to really show the pattern and get the right size. This is especially so in lace knitting. Using rust-proof or dressmakers’ pins, pin along the edges of the damp scarf. Use as many pins as needed to keep the edges straight and even. Dry the scarf completely before removing pins. You have successfully blocked a scarf!
Blocking Knitted Scarf

Related posts:
Asherton Reversible Scarf
A Tale of a Bad Yarn Shop Experience

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Sectioning Homemade Heating Pad

Homemade heating pads are easy to make and I am here to offer you a tip when sewing sections in the pad. Creating sections in the heating pad help distribute the wheat or rice evenly. It’s especially useful when wrapping it around your neck or knee.

Martha Stewart’s video instructions on how to make a basic rectangular heating pad is an excellent starting point. It’s simple and I especially like the size of the pad made.

I followed Martha’s directions and sewed my own pads using recycled old curtain material. I filled them with wheat from the local pet shop. I tried to sew the sections and filling them as I go but the needle kept getting caught in the wheat, despite my attempts at pushing them aside. Eventually, the sewing machine needle snapped! I gave up and just sewed the opening closed.

Yesterday I read Cathe Holden’s tutorial for making her lavender heating pad and saw that she sewed her sections after filling and sewing up her pad.

So before attempting to sew the sections on my pad again, I pushed the wheat as far away as possible from where I’m about to sew and pinned the wheat aside. I didn’t want any more broken sewing needles! The sewing went a lot smoother and no needles were lost in the process. In hindsight, it also helps if you do not overfill the pad.

Homemade Heat Pad

You can see from the picture below two different heat pads. The one above is created with Martha Stewart’s instructions and below it is the sectioned heat pad as suggested by Cathe Holden.

Homemade Heat Pad

By the way, heating pads have a misleading name. These pads can be used hot and cold. Place the pad in a sealed bag and freeze it for an hour before use. It’s especially good during hot summer days for a quick cool down. It stays cool for up to an hour. Leaving a pad in the freezer all the time is recommended. You can still have a heated pad by microwaving it straight from the freezer. So don’t just save your heat pads for winter and body aches. Use it all year round!

How do you make your heat pads and what do you fill it with?

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