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How John Smedley knitwear is made

John Smedley factory tour A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be able to look around the John Smedley knitwear factory. I left Lukas with Nanny and took Tomas with me on the tour all the way to the beautiful Peak District. It felt like my fashion years are back again!!John Smedley factory tour For those who don't know John Smedley knitwear I really recommend to visit their website where you will find more detailed info (the whole history if you want). John Smedley is a family business that is owned by many generations of the same family. They still handcraft finish their garments and still maintain many traditional craftsmanship methods. So buying their knitwear is really worth the money if you want to add some staple jumpers and cardigans to your wardrobe as they are made to last ;-).John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley knitwear starts with a good quality yarn, mostly made with sheep hair (or cotton for summer) which I was quite surprised by. My memories of sheep wool is not great and I remember it being rough and stingy on the skin. But wait, this yarn comes from special sheep that come from New Zealand (called merino sheep). Their hair is softer because of better weather conditions. John Smedley factory tour The yarn then gets washed and conditioned to achieve maximum softness.John Smedley factory tour As I was visiting John Smedley factory it was obvious that the quality is the top priority here. The knitting is checked and checked again at many different stages and gets rejected when it does not meet these high standards. But it does not go to waste. These clever machines unravel the knitwear so this beautiful yarn have another chance to become a piece of knitwear again. Pfew! Thats good to know ;-).John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour I especially loved some of the older machinery that although it is vintage is still very well maintained and making quality garments(however these are a little louder than modern ones). John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour Every piece of knitwear is kept on needles as you would expect (If you are knitter yourself you would understand what I mean here). There is special compartment for trims as you can see here that get later attached to the main body.John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour This is where the garment gets its handcraft finish. The neck hole is cut by hand and then a special machine knit stitches the body and the trim together.John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tour Finally each garment gets a final steam press.Smedley garments are beeing pressedThe factory building has it's old charms as well. The original water mill is still here, although it is no longer used to power the machinery it still makes a very pretty feature.  John Smedley factory tour John Smedley factory tourHope you found this post interesting as much as I did when visiting this fine knitwear factory ;-).

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My journey in chair upholstery

My journey in chair upholsteryToday I have decided to finally share my experiences in upholstery. I know this may not be the simplest project to start with, but I have learned so much from it! Of course I did not do this alone, my mum-in-law and her friend Mariane helped me a lot with their knowledge. Now looking back, I can't believe it is still the same chair!

I got this chair from a cafe that once I helped out at, it was about to go to the dumpster. Luckily I saved it and now it gain it's second life as a nursery chair :-).  before and after chair upholsterySo we started the chair refurbishment with removal of old material such as top fabric, felt, foam, hessian and lots of dust (yuck!). Everything was tacked with little nails called tacks. We did stripping in this order: first we removed the bottom covering fabric, then from there we removed tacks to strip the fabric all around. removing tacks in chair upholseryThen we removed back fabric where we could access even more tacks! This allowed to remove top fabric and felt from the front of the back. I was so pleased to find that original springs were in very good condition, so we left them as they were.removing old upholsery from the back of the chairFinally we stripped the chair arms and removed the rubber webbing that stretched out over the years. Other than original back springs we left hair material on the back and hessian on the inner arms.  We removed top wooden arms to be sanded, re-stained and re-applied back once the arms are covered with the new top fabric.Complete old upholsery removalAfter the chair is stripped, I was told it is good idea to go shopping (Yey!). We made the list according to what we stripped and what needed to be added so the chair ends up all nicely padded. At the end of the project we realised that we bought too little of rubber webbing, but way too much of wadding. My shopping list for chair upholsteryWhile we did our shopping Joni's dad fixed the chair frame. Some parts were loose and the little holes that were made by old tacks needed to be filled. Fixing chair frameFirst thing we did after shopping is stretched out the webbing onto the seat of the chair. We tacked one end of the webbing on the back of the seat and then stretched it over to the other side with this very cool tool just made for that kind of job.  Applying rubber webbing on the chairWe repeated the same technique to apply webbing from left side to the right side.Applying webbing on the chairWe started the chair upholstery with the seat. We applied hessian and calico with wadding layer in between. Applying hessian, wodding and calico on the chair seatSecured everything with the tacks....Tacking a calico layer onto the chair seatThen moved onto the front back and repeated practically the same. Except this time we used upholstery felt for extra cushioning.Applying hessian, wool felt and calicoAnd same with the arms as with the seat.Applying hessan wodding and calico onto chair armsFinally the day have came when we could apply top fabric! To choose top fabric was a hardest bit for me. Eventually I narrowed down to three pictured bellow. The blue one seemed like the most obvious choice as the check fabric is difficult to work with and the dark green fabric reminded me of those tacky furnitures at the skiing resort (you know, those green carpets matched with pine wood?). Anyway, I am really happy with my final choice as this fabric not only turned out to be versatile, but also really forgiving and easy to work with!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApplying top fabric is almost like applying calico. With calico, I felt like practicing to upholster, therefore when it came to applying the real thing, I wasn't that nervous!Upholstering with the top fabricUpholstering the front back of the chairWhilst doing upholstery Joni's mum made sure that all dents from the arms went away. She used ironing technique, where she applied wet cloth and ironed it on the wood. Eventually Joni's dad sanded it down to perfection as well as chair legs. I used antique pine stain that really suits overall chair style I was aiming for. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUpholstering the chair arms witht the top fabricAfter we finished upholstering the chair I closed the back with the hessian (for support) and top fabric. I used invisible stitch to sew the sides (I did the same to join inner and outer arm top fabric pieces). Upholstering the back of the chairWe got the cushion foam specially cut for the size, slightly thicker than original cushion because I wanted to sit slightly higher when nursing. It came covered in stockinet that helps to insert into the cushion case and also protects it from wear. To begin with I have traced the foam shape onto the fabric as tightly as I could and then rounded the edges for extra fit. I cut two pieces out with 1cm seam allowance. pattern tracing for custom cushionThe foam measured 10cm thick, therefore I cut out long 12cm wide strip (1cm seam allowance on each side). I wrapped the strip tightly around the foam and stitched it according to the fitting. I applied one piece I cut out earlier on to of the cushion and pinned it down onto the strip. I stitched it according to where I placed the pins. pattern cutting for custom box cushionNext I turned the cushion up side down and repeated the same with the second piece as I did with the first piece. This time I left a gap so I would be able to turn the cushion cover inside out. Once the cover is finished I re-inserted the cushion and by using invisible stitch I closed the gap completely. Custom shape pattern for box cushionMy final step was to close the bottom of the chair. I used a very basic black fabric for that. I measured roughly the size and cut out the square according to that measurement. Then I stretched the fabric onto the bottom making sure the edges of the fabric are folded in.Closing the bottom of the chairI secured the fabric by neatly stapling all over the edges.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe end!My journey in chair upholsteryLeia is loving new chair!My journey in chair upholsteryI hope you found this inspiring!

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How to transfer laser printer image onto almost anything

how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingWhen I have been asked for nicely printed wedding photo as a birthday gift I got really excited as I realised that I could try out different techniques on transfer printing. To begin with I thought I will transfer the wedding photo on canvas, but then realised printing on wood would be much more unique (well, kind off). I also got stuck with slight limitation. I have laser printer which means I could not use the ink from the printer like I would with ink jet printer. But there is always hope, even if that means buying extra products in the craft shop instead of using what is already available at home. So instead of extensive experiments I just did a bit of research on what products to use (only because I did not want to spend a massive amounts of money). Here is what products you can try when transfer printing:

PVA or Mod Podge. I heard that some people swear by it and apparently it works, especially with Mod Podge (which is I believe a fancy type of PVA). I went and bought Mod Podge only because it was available in matte finish unlike PVA basic glossy finish. However I ended up returning it after reading this helpful article.

Mod Podge image transfer (or any other brand image transfer). I have no idea where to get it, but here is the post where I have seen it used. The blogger there then used Matte Mod Podge as a finishing sealer.

Gel Medium. This is mainly used for mixing your acrylic paints with so larger areas can be painted more cost effectively. Unfortunately it often comes in huge pots, so if you only buying this for one off project it can be quite costly. They did not have gel medium in my local craft store which sort of worked out for the best! However gel medium can be used for finishing as well.

Acrylic Medium. Like gel medium it comes glossy or matte. It is also cheaper to compare to gel medium , but can't be used for finishing the print.

Here is what I used to make my image print:

  • A block of plywood
  • A laser printed picture, flipped horizontally on Photoshop (or any other image editing program)
  • A paint brush
  • A Roller
  • Acrylic matte medium
  • Matte varnish
  • Saw tooth hangers (for picture hanging)

I applied acrylic medium on top of the photo.how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingI used a roller to press the picture onto the wood. Make sure the bubbles trapped underneath get pushed out.  how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingOnce completely dry (after 8 hours or so) dampen the image and start rubbing the white layer off. Make sure don't rub too much as the image itself can be easily rubbed off at this stage.how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingLet it dry before the next stage...how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingI applied matte varnish (acrylic type) on top. This stage fixes the image onto the wood (or any other surface) and remove all the white layer imperfections as well.how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingApply the hanger onto the picture:

1. Measure and place the hanger in the centre. Use a pencil to mark the dots where the screws should go.

2. Make a hole with the nail (smaller then the screws) by hammering it in and then removing it with the other end of the hammer.

3. Screw the screws in to hold the hanger.how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingTa-da!how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anything how to transfer laser printer image onto almost anythingI hope you found this inspiring :)

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Crafty afternoons in Bedford (you are welcome to join us)

Crafty afternoons in Bedford (join our social group)Hey guys, I got some wonderful news! Our crafty social meets are back and are better than ever :). The improvements include:

  • Unlimited space (almost), so no RSVP needed
  • Super comfortable sofas at the ground floor cafe in Kings House
  • Convenient location (if only you live in Bedford)
  • Any type of crafts are welcome (before we were only knitting)

Interested to join? Visit our events page for more info.King's House ground floor cafe, BedfordCrafty afternoons in Bedford (join our social group)Hopefully see you soon!

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Handmade pasta (without pasta machine)

How to make handmade pasta at home without machineI will admit that making your own pasta is a lot of hassle! It takes long and it is soooo messy (with all that flour). But I still like making it as things made from scratch are the way of life for me. Like most of types of pasta such as gnocchi or skryliai (Lithuanian pasta) you can make lots of it over weekend and then freeze it for a quick lunch or dinner later in the week. I have not tried doing this with this pasta, but I believe it should work. Will let you know if I try that out! My favourite pasta is with cabbage (this one is with kale actually, but it is as good!). I know, I know this is a weird preference, but after trying out this recipe I just keep coming back to it!!!  How to make handmade pasta at home without machineI have learned making Italian fresh egg pasta while in Tuscany. Me and Joni took some cooking lessons while on honeymoon. Luckily Joni had some experience with pasta machine before, while I just stood and watched. "Dust the pasta machine with a lot of flour to avoid the dough sticking to it" apparently thats the most important tip! However today I will show you how I made pasta by hand. Same tip applies here as well (lot's of dusting with flour indeed)!Making pasta in ItalyBASIC HANDMADE PASTA serves one, multiply as needed!

  • 1 medium egg
  • 95g '00' flour

1. In the food processor or by hand combine egg with flour. The dough will be crumbly at this stage.How to make handmade pasta at home without machine2. Kneed the dough into the ball and wrap it into cling film. Let it rest for 1 hour.How to make handmade pasta at home without machine3. Flatten the dough ball with the rolling pin on the well floured surface (flour the rolling pin as well). Roll and lift the dough as many times as it needs. The dough should become as flat as a piece of fabric. How to make handmade pasta at home without machine4. Roll the dough into the roll. If I did this stage again, I would have rolled it into looser roll. Would have been easer to unroll it later on!

How to make handmade pasta at home without machine5. Slice the roll into the 7mm slices. How to make handmade pasta at home without machineThis has been observed by Leia of course :-)How to make handmade pasta at home without machine6. Unroll the pasta while keeping it well floured. And that's how it is done!How to make handmade pasta at home without machineCook pasta for 4 min in boiling water (longer from frozen) and serve it with your favourite sauce.How to make handmade pasta at home without machineEnjoy!

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Learn how to bind books!

Learn to bind booksEvery time I want to start a journal or a diary I can't find one that I like in the shops. Can you relate? They either are too expensive or the styles available don't quite fit mine. So that is why I have decided to make my own book. There are so many pros to making your own hand bound book. There are unfortunately also cons as it takes sooooo long (it took me a day to make two books)! But I guess the pros weighs it down so this is totally worth it. Here are the pros:

1. Create your own cover design

2. Insert the paper type you like

3. Have fun making it

4. It will be much much cheaper!

The choice is yours ;-)Learn to bind booksI made two books completely from scratch. I planned it to be painted over with an oily sort of fabric paint. However the cover surface did not come out as I expected. I hoped for a neat looking cover, but it turned out to be a bit messy. I would still use this technique in the future, but maybe not in such big amounts. For now however, I do prefer my second book that I covered with embroidered fabric.Learn to bind booksReady to make your own hand bound book? Click HERE for the step by step instructions.Learn to bind books Learn to bind booksHappy book binding ;-)

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Liquid soap making

Liquid soap making (recipe included)One of our favourite wedding gifts we have received is this lovely soap pump from Alex. It looks very handsome don't you think? The only con of having an empty soap pump it that it does come empty and we just realised that it is not so easy to find soap refillers in the shops. So I have decided to give a go and make my own! Few years ago I have made soap, so I know a little bit about how to make soap from scratch. However I have decided to make liquid soap half-way this time (I mean from existing hard soap). First, I had some soap to use up and second, I did not want to do much of preparation. Basically I wanted this to be a quick job without worrying about chemical reactions in my kitchen. Liquid soap making (recipe included)For this Liquid soup you will need:

  • 100g hard soap (can be any you want, but scent-free ones are preferable)
  • 200ml water
  • 1 tsp glycerin (can be purchased in many pharmacy shops)
  • 1 tsp essential oil (I used lavender)

1. Grate the soap. I used Wrights coal tar soap, which wasn't a good choice as it is almost impossible to kill that strong burned smell. Liquid soap making (recipe included) Liquid soap making (recipe included) Liquid soap making (recipe included) Liquid soap making (recipe included)2. Gather all other ingredients such as glycerin, and essential oils. Liquid soap making (recipe included)3. Weigh the soap flakes and boil water accordingly. There should be 200ml water per 100g of soap. Melt the soap flakes in boiled water and process it with the hand processor. Liquid soap making (recipe included)4. Add glycerine and essential oil into the soap mixture and combine it well.Liquid soap making (recipe included) Liquid soap making (recipe included)Have you learned something new today? Rasa xoxo

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Tatting

how to tat

Recently I could not put my tatting work down... I have finally nailed it! Thanks to CRAFTSY online classes and their really easy to follow step by step videos. I especially love the fact that the teacher is really positive as that makes you feel like you can defiantly do it, regardless how complicated it looks. I can't wait until I create new projects using this skill that I have learned (hopefully soon you will be able to make it too!). It's like making friendship bracelets, but prettier ;).

how to tat

This is my first time ever signing up for e-course! Have you had good experience with online classes before? Would love to hear your story :).

how to tat

Finally, just wanted to mention that Craftsy offers a wild variety of courses to do with crafts and a little bit more (e.g baking). So pick yours HERE ;).

Happy e-learning!

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Soap making (from scratch)

I love creating, crafting and DIY projects! I would like to think that I buy less (and spend less by being really really frugal) and make more, however this is still not truth. I started making my own cosmetics and soap so hopefully this will take towards my goal (to live homemade lifestyle of course).

To make this soap you will need:
610g olive oil
85g caustic soda (I bought mine in B&Q and I have seen some sold in Boots)
230ml water
2 tsp lemon balm or citronella essential oil
zest of 3 oranges
zest of 2 lemons
Safety googles
Rubber gloves
Scales
A stainless steel or enamel (not aluminum) pot
A glass or plastic pitcher to hold the water and caustic soda
A glass or plastic measuring jug
Plastic or wooden spoons (that you are not going to use for food again)
A stick blender/hand processor
Two thermometers with the prong (I used one, but had the kitchen towel paper at hand to wipe after each use)
Kitchen towel paper for clean ups
1. Prepare the workspace and gather all the ingredients ( you will be working with caustic soda, dangerous chemical, so make sure children and pets are not underfoot while you work). Make sure you have googles (I used my own spectacles which was safe enough) and rubber gloves at hand, because caustic should never touch your skin, as it would burn you (for more info read on how to work with caustic soda (sometimes called lye) safely.
2. Pour 230ml cold water (around 20C) into the pitcher. Measure 85g caustic soda and pour it into measuring jug. Add caustic soda into the water (not the other way round; don't add water into the caustic soda) and as you doing that keep your face turned away to avoid inhaling the fumes. Set the mixture aside as it is cooling down and fumes dissipate.
3. Weigh out 610g of oil and pour it into pot. When Caustic soda water is around 45C start slowly heating the oil. When both oil and caustic soda are at the similar temperature (around 35C-39C), gradually pour caustic soda mixture into the oil while mixing (do not use metal spoon for this).
4. Use stick blender to mix the mixture for 5-10 min until "tracing" occurs (you should see the spoon leaving visible trace behind it, like in the pudding). If you don't see any tracing, be patient and try again after 10-15min rest.
5. Add essential oil and orange/lemon zests in to the mixture, mix and then pour it into the moulds. I used celicon loaf baking tin, but if you are using regular baking tin do line it with baking paper as well. Be sure you are still wearing your rubber gloves at this stage, since raw soap is caustic and can burn skin.
6. Leave the soap in the tin/mould for 36hours before unmolding.
7. To unmold the soap turn tin/mould over and allow it to fall on a towel or clean surface. Cut the soap into desired size pieces (I used cookie cutters to cut out these lovely heart shaped pieces).
8. Allow the soap to cure before packaging or before use for min of 3 weeks.
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