Category Archives: gifts & easy to make gifts & presents

Upcycled Cardboard Boxes and Folders

Normally, we wrap all our presents in bags that I have made over the years. We never buy paper for gift wrapping.

But, this year, my husband and I made some gifts that needed special packaging.

So I set my mind to working on how to do this in an eco friendly way.

(I’ll show the special gifts in my next blog post)

Several years ago, Jim bought a roll of cardboard to build a case for his Oud (Turkish Lute).

It came as a roll that is 12 inches wide by ever so long, and it’s been kind of in the way ever since, but I didn’t want to get rid of it because I have a huge fondness for cardboard.

Jim wrapped the first gift in a protective swath of the cardboard, but that seemed rather ‘less than’ to me, so I mulled it over and came up with the folder idea.

I LOVE it.

It’s super simple:

I cut a 36 inch long piece of the cardboard and cut triangles off one end to make the point.

Then glued one triangle to the inside of the point to stabilize it.

I traced a tray to make the curve and then glued the edges.

Next time I will add strips of cardboard along the sides to give more dimension to the folder.

I used the off cuts to decorate the front.

The cord is made from crochet cotton that was given to me last summer (see Tea Towels) and a Lucet (LINK) and I am pleased as can be.

Another cluster of gifts needed special packaging, so I tried to fold origami boxes with the cardboard.

FAIL.

Instead, I came up with trial and erroring in making fitted boxes that were a time consuming pain in the neck to make. I tried using this technique, which works great with ‘normal’ card stock and paper: LINK

I won’t bother doing this again- not with this cardboard.

(Note- even though these were the pits to make, they were still made with love and some mild cussing).

BUT, by now, I was seriously on a roll with this whole box/package designing thing and remembered those nifty containers that are tubes that have semi-circular ends that push in to close them.

Of course, I probably could have looked up a tutorial online and found the simple way to do this, but, oh no, that’s not the way my brain works.

My brain likes ~to figure things out~…..

So I pushed cardboard around and flipped and folded it and measured and hummed and finally came up with this ‘Slightly Tube-ish’ container:

I had made several of the ‘Slightly Tube-ish’ ‘ containers when I twigged to the fact that they had a big old mistake, which I then fixed.

I made proper templates for the ‘right’ ‘Slightly Tube-ish’ containers , since I really like these and plan on using the concept again.

But, I wasn’t going to waste the ‘wrong’ ones, so I used them anyhow, with an apology to the recipients of the gifts and an explanation that I have got it right now, and they’ll get a better iteration next time.

Until then, the wrong ‘Slightly Tube-ish’ containers can be re-used and eventually be recycled or used as fire starters.

Here are the proper templates:

This one is for cutting out the ‘Slightly Tube-ish’ container
And, this one is for scoring the curves on the ends.

All in all, it was a lot of work, but I loved doing it and I hope that my family liked the nifty boxes and folders.

Even though I used cardboard that we had bought years ago for another project, these techniques will work really well on regular upcycled cardboard and cardstock, which pleases me very much!

Happy Upcycling! ❤

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Tea Towels woven from upcycled crochet cotton

Last summer, loved relatives gave me 2 boxes of crochet cotton that they had adopted from the ReUse Centre in their town.

This is the smaller of the 2 boxes.

I immediately used some of the cotton to tat butterflies, and thought about what to use the generous and unexpected treasure that remained.

I decided to weave Tea Towels for my family – I wanted the cotton to become something useful, rather than just languishing as ‘stash’.

I had no idea, when I began, just how much I would love weaving the Tea Towels!

It was so meditative and contemplative- and watching the play of shadow and light on the various shades of cream and white cotton was deeply pleasing.

To begin the journey, I warped up several warp chains.

And wove

and wove and wove….

The blue bands look odd, because I used several strands of variegated blue thread held together…

I used one of my favorite weaving drafts, ‘Rosepath’, which gives the diamond effect when woven to the ‘correct’ treadling, but also a pleasing zig zag twill and of course, plain weave tabby.

This was perfect for me, as it allowed me to add definition to the hems, the cream colored borders, the blue bands and the body of the tea towels.

Once the tea towels were all woven, washed them and then ironed them and hemmed them.

I had hand stitched the hems between each of the towels while they were on the loom, but then stitched the hand stitched edges again by machine before cutting them apart.

I then rolled and pinned the hems and stitched them by machine.

I had hand stitched the hems on some of the prototype tea towels, but wasn’t happy with the way they looked, so opted for the machine.

Ooops… at one point, my grandson, who has been taught how to sew on the machine by his mother, chastized me for sewing over a pin. Oops!

He has the family ability to raise one eyebrow very high and fix you with a baleful gaze.

This is also a family trait. We pass along such interesting legacies, don’t we?

My father could transmit a world of ‘ahem’ with his eyebrow. Ahem.

I didn’t sew over any more pins after I was given ‘the eyebrow’!

Earlier in the process, I wove miles of tape on my narrow band loom.

But, I forgot to take a picture of the weaving process for the tape.

I cut lengths of tape from the miles of narrow band.

Then I sewed the hanging loops with it onto the tea towels by hand.

Then, off to the washing machine for the towels….

It was so exciting to see how washing the towels snugged them up and made them all soft and inviting.

And then ironed the living daylights out of the tea towels again.

Most of them have been designated as gifts.

Generous gifts of boxes of abandoned crochet cotton by our relatives turned out to be such a lovely gift for me.

I loved the process of bringing the cotton to life again and I hope that the towels will be a pleasure in some small, quiet way for years to come.

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How to Weave a Butterfly on the Mirrix Saffron Loom

I have been weaving a lot of butterflies lately, as a metaphor of hope, transformation, healing, creativity, community, and so much more.

These butterflies are ones that I designed to weave on the Mirrix Saffron loom.

I love the way that I can set up the Saffron to the exact size that I want….

The pink butterfly is made by weaving a full size triangle on the Saffron (see instructions in my book: Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom).

And, the blue butterflies are made by weaving half size triangles.

Because the smaller butterflies are woven using a variation on the technique that I developed for the book,

I have made a video showing how to weave them.

The bodies are made on the loom, using the same setup as the wings, so you can weave away without having to re-set the loom. Yay!

Here’s the link to the Video How to Tutorial:

Mirrix looms are selling a wonderful kit that includes my book: Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom, as well as the Saffron Loom and the Sandy Stand for it. It’s a great kit! Here’s the link for it:

In the video, I mentioned that I carved a chopstick to make the weaving hook for weaving the triangles.

Here’s the link to that video:

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Imagine” Banner Weave Along: PART SIX: How to assemble the banner

To see all the links for the ‘How To’ posts for the “Imagine” Banner Weave along, please go to L I N K S

To order the loom, book and extras kit for the Weave Along from Mirrix, please go K I T

ASSEMBLING THE BANNER:

Place Einstein behind the narrow band.

Stitch his hands to the front of the banner and then stitch the banner to his sweater.

Enjoy and be inspired!

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Imagine” Banner Weave Along: PART FIVE: How to weave the freeform homage to Albert Einstein

To see all the links for the ‘How To’ posts for the “Imagine” Banner Weave along, please go to L I N K S

To order the loom, book and extras kit for the Weave Along from Mirrix, please go K I T

FREE FORM WEAVING: HOMAGE TO ALBERT EINSTEIN:

Albert Einstein is woven (with a few extrapolations and a slight adjustment to the waistline) following the instructions for the Woven Dancer on page 30 of “Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom”.

In order to hold the pattern onto the loom, a backing board is needed. See: LINK

INSTRUCTIONS:

HOW TO WEAVE THE ALBERT EINSTEIN FIGURE:

1: SET UP THE LOOM so it is 11 inches/27.5 cm) from the lower set of pegs to the upper set. Lock it into the ‘Sandy Stand’.

Fold the ends of the backing board to the back and slide it in place on the loom.

2: WARP THE LOOM: Following the instructions for the Woven Dancer on page 30 of ‘Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom’, with 1 strand of #4 Medium weight (Worsted or Sport weight) yarn white and 1 strand grey held together as if they are a single strand:

Skip 6 pegs at each side of the loom and warp the loom, following the instructions in the book closely.

3: WEAVING:

LEGS:

Leaving only an inch or of a tail end rather than the long tail end listed in the instructions in the book, weave the legs with 2 strands of black yarn held together as if they are a single strand, and packing the weaving down closely to completely cover the warp strands. Follow the instructions in the book for weaving the legs, but noting that you will be beating the weft yarn in more densely than in the book.

SWEATER:

With 2 strands of light blue yarn held together as if they are a single strand, weave up to the neck. Beat the weft so it completely covers the warp strands.

DO NOT pull in the waistline as it is drawn in the book. Weave the sweater straight up to the shoulders.

Wrap the neck with the blue yarn and weave in the ends.

SLEEVES:

Weave the sleeves following the instructions for the arms, but, once again, beat the weft so it completely covers the warp strands.

FACE:

With skin tone yarn, weave the face, weaving under 1/over 1 and over 1/under 1.

MOUSTACHE:

Stitch loosely over the shed stick with 1 strand of white yarn and 1 strand grey yarn held together as if they are a single strand at least 3 times. Take the ends to the back of the head.

EYEBROWS:

Take 2 slightly tighter stitches over the shed stick for each eyebrow.

EYES:

Stitch 2 small black ‘e’ size beads on for eyes.

HAIRLINE:

Lock the top of the head in place by stitching around each warp strand at the top of the forehead.

Lift Einstein off the loom.

NOSE:

Stitch 2 vertical stitches with skin tone yarn.

SHOES:

With Brown yarn follow the instructions for the feet on page 36. Weave the yarn ends into the legs.

HANDS:

Weave in the single strand at the side of each hand into the arm so that it is the same size as the loop of the hand.

With skin tone yarn make hands the same way as the feet. Weave the yarn ends into the arms.

HAIR:

Stitch loops of hair yarn around the edges of the face and on the back of the head.

Use felting needles to finalize the loops into the ‘dandelion’ shape of his classic signature hairstyle.

FINISHING:

1: Steam the woven figure on the wrong side with a steam iron, being sure to not touch the iron to the weaving.

Finger press the arms down and the hair into place.

Weave in the ends.

Trim any ends.

2: Sew a plastic or metal ring to the back of the head for hanging the banner.

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“Imagine” Banner Weave Along: PART TWO: How to embroider the narrow band

To see all the links for the ‘How To’ posts for the “Imagine” Banner Weave along, please go to L I N K S

To order the loom, book and extras kit for the Weave Along from Mirrix, please go to K I T

HOW TO EMBROIDER

THE WORD ‘IMAGINE’ ON THE NARROW BAND:

NOTE: The embroidery is done while the weaving is still on the loom and under tension.

1: Print out a copy of the ‘Imagine’ letters so they are approximately 1 inch/2.5 cm high by 7 in/17.5 cm or use 1/4 inch graph paper to draw them out.

2: Fold the paper so the edge of the letters can be placed right against the 1 inch/2.5 cm high white center section of the weaving.

3: Place the straight pins at the upright lines of the letters, ‘I’, ‘m’, ‘n’, and at the outside edges of the chubby ‘a’, ‘g’ and ‘e’.

4: Use the pins as guides to draw the letters onto the narrow band using a permanent felt tip marker.

5: Following the instructions on page 27 of “Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom”, embroider the letters with dark blue embroidery floss.

The photo on the lower left of page 27 shows how the running stitch is done.

FRINGE:

6: Lift the weaving off the loom and remove the 2 pieces of cardboard.

7: Cut the ends of the loops at the right hand side of the narrow band (it was at the top of the loom) open.

8: Trim the ends that were at the lower edge of the loom, now the left hand side of the band, to the same length as the warp ends at the other end of the narrow band.

9: Tie a knot (left over right and under, right over left and under) with each set of 4 strands of yarn across both ends of the narrow band.

10: FINISHING THE NARROW BAND:

Steam the narrow band on the wrong side with a steam iron, being sure to not touch the iron to the weaving.

Finger press the narrow band to make sure that the fringes behave themselves and line up politely.

Trim them again if necessary.

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“Imagine” Banner Weave Along: PART ONE: How to weave the narrow band

To see all the links for the ‘How To’ posts for the “Imagine” Banner Weave along, please go to L I N K S

To order the loom, book and extras kit for the Weave Along from Mirrix, please go to K I T

In order to weave the “Imagine” banner, you’ll need the following things:

Saffron Pocket Loom

Extender rod

Sandy Stand

Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom Book

HERE IS A LINK TO THE BOOK AND SAFFRON LOOM KIT that is available on the Mirrix website. LINK

Other things that are needed for the ‘Imagine’ banner:

Yarn: Less than an ounce of each of the following colors: white, grey, black, pale blue, brown, beige

Embroidery floss: 1 skein of navy or dark blue

2 small black ‘e’ beads for the eyes and needle and thread to sew them on

Scissors

cardboard

a plastic page protector

a ruler

transparent tape

felting needles,

6 rubber bands

paper

long straight pins

permanent felt tip pen

plastic or metal ring to hang the banner

1 Weaving Needle (5 1/2 inches or 6 inches long with a blunt tip)

1 Shed Stick: a second weaving needle or 6 inch Paddle style bamboo Cocktail Skewer or a short dpn knitting needle

1 craft needle (short metal tapestry needle approximately 2 3/4 inches long)

-1 crochet hook: 4.5 mm crochet hook works just fine

PART ONE:

THE WOVEN AND EMBROIDERED NARROW BAND:

The narrow band in Albert Einstein’s hands is woven (with a couple of small modifications) following the instructions on page 171 of “Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom” for the Alpaca Blanket. While it’s still on the loom, the word, ‘Imagine’, is embroidered using a simple running stitch.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1: SET UP THE LOOM so it is 11 1/2 inches / 29 cm from the lower set of pegs to the upper set. Lock it into the ‘Sandy Stand’.

2: WARP THE LOOM: Following the instructions for the Alpaca Blanket on page 171 of ‘Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom’, put on 10 sets of warp strands.

Use 2 strands of #4 Medium weight (Worsted or Sport weight) yarn held together as if it is a single strand.

Skip 6 pegs at each side of the loom and warp the following colors, or your choice of colors:

NOTE: A ‘set’ of warp strands in this case means tying around one peg from bottom to top of loom and snipping it after tying the knot at the lower edge. The 2 strands of warp yarn are held together while warping the loom.

1 set of warp strands Black

2 sets Light Blue

4 sets White

2 sets Light Blue

1 set Black

3: Slide 3 rubber bands over the lower set of pegs and 3 rubber bands over the upper set of pegs to help keep the warp strands from jumping off.

4: Cut 2 pieces of cardboard that are 2 inches/5 cm tall. The piece that will go into the lower edge of the warp strands should be 5 1/2 or 6 inches/15 cm wide. The piece that will go into the upper edge of the weaving once it’s done can be just 3 inches/7.5 cm wide.

5: Weave the shed stick under 2/over 2 across the warp strands at the top of the loom.

6: Weave the longer piece of cardboard into the warp strands – slide it into the shed formed by the shed stick and push it down to the lower edge of the loom. This will make the warp fringe at the first end.

7: WEAVING:

NOTE: The instructions in the book say to pull in on the weft strands while weaving. When using the Saffron loom, that is not necessary.

With 2 strands of white yarn and a weaving needle, following the instructions in the book, weave until the weaving is 7 1/2 inches/ 19 cm tall.

Fold the shorter piece of cardboard in half lengthwise and weave it into the warp strands, then open it up. This will keep the weaving taut while you embroider the word, ‘imagine’.

The 2 pieces of cardboard – 1 at each end of the weaving are essential to keep the weaving in place while embroidering the letters.

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“IMAGINE” Banner Weave Along

IMAGINE” BANNER

Woven on the Mirrix Saffron loom, using techniques fromInnovative Weaving on the Frame Loom”

A Weave Along by Noreen Crone-Findlay

The “Imagine” banner is a reminder about the power of creativity. Noreen Crone-Findlay, author of “Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom”, has designed this banner as a weave along, featuring the delightful Mirrix Saffron Loom.

Albert Einstein has been credited with saying that he valued imagination over knowledge.

Now is certainly the time for us all to imagine that we can make things better, so hurrah for creativity, resiliency and imagination!

The 3 components of the ‘Imagine’ banner are all based on techniques that are featured in ‘Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom’, with little tweaks so that you can make a unique and one of a kind celebration of creativity to inspire yourself and other people, too.

You will need the Mirrix Saffron Loom and ‘Innovative Weaving on the Frame Loom’ by Noreen Crone-Findlay (that’s me, of course) to participate in the weave along.

Mirrix is offering a kit that includes both, as well as other tools that are used to create the ‘Imagine’ banner.

HERE IS A LINK TO THE BOOK AND SAFFRON LOOM KIT that is available on the Mirrix website. LINK

You can use whatever yarn (#4 Medium weight yarn) that you like to weave the banner.

I will be posting the instructions for the Weave Along in 6 separate posts here on Tottie Talks Crafts,

beginning on Sept 13, 2021 .

PART ONE: How to weave the narrow band L I N K

PART TWO: How to embroider the narrow band L I N K

PART THREE: How to weave the 2 small triangles L I N K

PART FOUR: How to make the cardboard backing board for doing freeform weaving L I N K

PART FIVE: How to weave the homage to Albert Einstein figure L I N K

PART SIX: Assembling the banner L I N K

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A Dragon tapestry for my husband

My husband really likes the dragon that I designed for my ‘Innovative Frame Loom Weaving’ book.

He asked me to weave him a dragon tapestry for Christmas, so I did.

I went a bit overboard on the beads, but he likes it, so that’s okay.

He hung it on the beam between the kitchen and the dining room to be the Guardian of the Hearth.

I am so glad that he likes it.

Woven with love in every stitch.

And, yup, I designed and made the frame for it.

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Carving Wooden Spoons is delightful

Oh my goodness! Carving wooden spoons is just wonderful!

Hard work, yes. but…. ohhhh….

I have been a wood carver for decades, but have just discovered the joy of carving spoons.

The picture above is the first spoon I carved…. for our grandson.

My husband loved it, so I secretly carved one for him for Christmas, too.

I asked my family if they would like spoons, and the response was an enthusiastic yes!

So…

and

And, then….

I couldn’t resist combining one of my other great delights, which is carving wooden dolls, with spoon carving.

The inspiration that poured out kept me out of bed for a couple of nights as I had to sit and draw and draw and draw

all the ideas that were just pouring out….

I have tied in a few metaphors that have been weaving their way around in my heart…

On Facebook, I learned about  stardust that has been discovered in Antarctica and then having a long time friend

sent me a poem about how the trees are full of stardust (as we all are) just enchanted me!

I am now carving what I call: ‘Storyteller Spoons’ – hand carved spoons that are meant to stir up STORIES, not soup.

After, stories are food for the Soul 🙂

Oooh!  I had to carve a Star Baby spoon from walnut:

And, I have started a series of ‘Stardust Sisters Spoons’- articulated dolls with moving arms,

This one is carved from a blank that my son made for me from a birch tree that died and was cut down

in his neighbor’s yard:

I carved this Stardust Sister from the bass wood blank that came with the kit:

I love the metaphor of hearts and hands working together, so I went back to

the drawings that I did for the first scoop that I carved for my daughter.

But, I added a hand to the spoon, and carved out a bowl in the palm of the hand

as well as in the scoop of the heart.

While I was carving it, it came to me that spoons are meant to gather things,

but also to offer them, which is the perfect metaphor for this spoon:

I will be working with Hearts and Hands together a whole lot!

I made a video showing some of the carving that I have done over the last 30 odd years,

as well as the very very first beginnings of getting started in spoon carving.

These are just the first spoons that I have carved, and now that I have worked out

a pattern language for myself with this, there will be many, many more!

(I hope!)  😀

And, I hope that you are finding things that bring you joy, too!

Be kind, be safe, be well! ❤

Here’s the video:

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