DIY plant hanger

Time for me to publish my contribution to February’s Monthly Makers theme: wood. I thought a lot about this and had several ideas, many of which I didn’t have time to finish (I do work on my thesis sometimes, you know), and some of which I couldn’t find the right material for. So I made a really easy thing, which is perhaps only remotely related to wood. Anyway, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time but just haven’t got around to (in fact I bought the material more than six months ago), so I’m happy it’s finally done! I like the idea of using these Monthly Makers challenges to craft stuff I actually want or need.

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So, here’s my new plant hanger which I made yesterday in less than half an hour! Remotely related to wood, as I said, but it has wooden beads. I’ve never made one of these before, but since it was super easy I’ll definitely be making more. All you need is some strong, non-elastic and quite thick thread/yarn (I used jutesnöre) and some wooden beads. I checked Pinterest for some inspiration but then I just tied the knots quite randomly. Just make sure to check they’re approximately even.

Despite being merely a detail, I really think the beads make a great difference to the outcome. In a way, they’re kind of the centerpiece.

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I placed it in our bathroom window, which is uncomfortably close to an opposite window in a staircase across the yard – very inconvenient if you’re getting naked in here, which, it being a bathroom, you often are. It’s currently hanging from the window handle until I’ve put up a hook in the ceiling. Then I’ll just be waiting for the plant to grow bigger so it can protect us from nosey neighbors.

Bikes

Today I thought I’d blog about another gift, one that I made a few years ago for my bf.

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It’s an ink drawing of various types of bikes. Which may be an unnecessary description since you can probably see that for yourselves…………. Anyway, I started by sketching the bikes very thinly with a pencil on a semi-thick piece of white A4 paper (my paper vocabulary is very restricted but it was more “stable” than normal copy paper if you see what I mean). Then I filled everything in with a black ink pen. I made sure to use one that dried quickly (try it on a separate paper first), otherwise the ink would have been drawn out all over the paper in the process. When I was done, I carefully erased the pencil lines where needed. It took a few hours in all, but it was really quite easy, and fun! As you can see, my drawing style is really quite naïvist; the lines aren’t very straight and the circles aren’t very perfect. I’ve liked and practiced drawing since childhood, but I’m definitely not an illustrator – the things I can do with a pen are very limited, but this simple style is right up my alley. I like how closeby it looks quite sloppy, but from a distance you don’t really see that.

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It now lives in a black frame on our wall, together with…

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…lots of other stuff in black frames: a drawing from a market in Budapest, a Lichtenstein print, a portrait of the king of Sweden (I’ve negotiated A LOT about this without success but I guess you have to sacrifice some of your principles when moving in together… please don’t judge me), a Snufkin print by Tove Jansson, a Rothko print, a photograph from an exhibition we visited in Sarajevo, and a mirror. Despite the diversity of motives I think there’s a nice coherence about the wall (including the king…), partly because of the matching frames and partly because it goes in the same colours (which was actually a coincidence).

The armchair by the window is my favourite reading spot!

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The drawing also goes well with the opposite corner of the room. 🙂

DIY chunky knit blanket

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It’s been a while! I could have lied and said it’s because I’ve been busy writing my thesis (wish that was true), but really I’ve just been kinda down for the past weeks due to 1) lack of sunlight and 2) overexposure to sad British music from the early 90’s. But: today the sun is shining! So I finally found the energy to share a DIY from January: a chunky knit blanket! Anyone who’s been on Pinterest at any point during the past couple of months must have seen these in their feed. I tried to come up with a way to make one on my own without spending my entire salary on yarn for 50€/ball (!), and ended up buying some IKEA fleece blankets which I cut into long strips. I wasn’t able to find any needles thick enough to fit the size of the strips as well as long enough to hold all the loops, so I first tried arm knitting (i.e. using my arms as needles), but I wanted the holes in the blanket to be as small as possible so I searched the basement of our building and finally found a dusty old broomstick in a corner which I *magically* turned into a pair of needles. DIY from scratch! Detailed instructions below.

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You’ll need:

  • large quantities of fleece blankets/other fabric that can conveniently be cut into strips
  • scissors
  • some kind of long wooden stick, of desired thickness
  • a saw
  • a knife for carving
  • sand paper
  • something to stick to the ends of the needles, e.g. some small pieces of wood
  • (drill)
  • (glue)
  • a week off
  • strong shoulder muscles
  • patience

“Yarn”: If you’re rich: skip this step and buy super thick (and super expensive) yarn instead.
First, cut off the fringe (if there is one) and then go on to cut each blanket into a single, long strip (I made mine approx. 7 cm wide). Start at the outer edge, making 90° turns as you get close to a corner, and round the edges to avoid having little snippets of fabric sticking out of your blanket here and there. When finished, nicely ask an S.O./friend/dad or similar to roll the strips up into balls of yarn for you, so you can head on to cutting the next blanket (this step takes time).
Don’t bother too much about getting the width perfectly even everywhere, mine was quite carelessly cut but it just gives a nice, uneven texture to the finished product.

Needles: Take your stick of choice, measure it, make a mark at the middle and saw it in two. My saw was so dull that I couldn’t get all the way through the wood, so I got annoyed and ended up breaking the stick with my hands after a while. It needs to be polished anyway so it doesn’t really matter. It’s also not the end of the world if the two sticks don’t turn out exactly the same length, it’s only knitting needles. Use your knife to sharpen the edges, and then your sand paper to smoothen the surface. Make sure to go over the entire surface of the needles, not just the ends – you don’t want any splinters sticking out. Last but not least, you’ll need to stick something to the back ends of the needles in order for your loops to stay on it. I was lucky to find some wooden candle holders on sale at my nearest craft supply store. They even had properly sized hollows in them, so I just removed the metal parts, carved a few mm off the edges of the back ends of the needles, and stuck them in. If you’re not as lucky as me, you’ll have to drill the hollows in your wooden piece yourself. If needed, use glue to attach the ends and wait for it to dry before you start knitting.
My broomstick was about 25 mm across, which worked out great.

Knitting: When you’ve come this far – just knit as you normally would. Well… it gets about a million times heavier than a mitten and you’ll look absolutely ridiculous, but the technique is the same as ordinary knitting. I just did a basic stockinette stitch, knitting and purling alternate rows, but I suppose you could use any knitting technique.

Tips: I pulled and stretched the yarn a bit, making the edges curl in so it would look smoother and more yarn-like. Whenever there was an angle, I twisted the yarn a little so that the extra fabric wouldn’t stick out so much. Also, whenever I came close to finishing a ball of yarn, I layered the last 30-or-so cm with the beginning of the next ball, so that there’d be 4-5 stitches with double yarn to hold both ends in place. It looks a bit bulky but I don’t mind, I prefer it to having the ends visibly tucked in into the stitches.

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I gave the blanket to my sister for her 25th birthday last month. She named it Blanky. I asked her to send me some pictures of it in its new home:

Mini schnauzer for scale.

It’s made of fifteen (!) IKEA blankets and it’s so fucking heavy – 7,6 kilos according to my sister. 1,5 times the body weight of the schnauzer. At least it turned out pretty!

Now please excuse me as I go back to my bubble of Scandinavian winter depression, accompanied by Brett Anderson’s falsetto.

DIY deer box

Who doesn’t have an old cardboard box lying around? Not sure if the same holds for plastic deer, but I happened to have one. I bought it at a toy store once. I love deer!!! They’re beautiful. Just needed to adapt it to fit into a grown-up’s interior. So, when I saw that one of my favourite DIY-bloggers and namesake Sandra had made a bookstand, I knew what I wanted to do with it! Here’s the result. I’m really happy with how it turned out!

(Unfortunately, JUST NOW as I’m writing this (what are the odds?), my boyfriend’s headphones accidentally got tangled into the antlers and the whole thing fell on the floor and broke :((( The deer was separated from the lid and some paint fell off. Hope I’ll be able to fix it…)

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The materials I used were:
– an old cardboard box (with a pattern I was tired of)
– a plastic deer
– matte white acrylic paint
– golden acrylic paint
– glue

I had everything at home, so it (kinda) cost me nothing. I started by painting the box and the deer with a small paint brush (if I hadn’t had the paint at home already, I probably would have bought spray paint). This takes a while since you have to paint a layer, then let it dry, then turn it over to paint the other side, and so on. I just went on until the pattern/colour underneath was completely covered, maybe 3 layers or so in all. Then I put glue underneath the hooves of the deer, placed it on top of the lid and let it dry.

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Great storage for jewellery, coins, etc. Also thought of filling it with pebbles if I’d like to use it as a bookstand at some point. Hope you like it!

Sandra