Category Archives: Green Living

Adventures in Felting

Ages and ages ago, I purchased a book on making neat things out of wool sweaters from thrift stores that had been felted and cut up. I even went so far as to buy several sweaters at Value Village, and felt them. So for the past god knows how long, I have had felted sweaters sitting in my crafty stash, taking up space, collecting dust and cat hair, and generally just getting in the way. I have always been really good at coming up with ideas, but not so great at following through.

Enter Pinterest. I follow several crafty ladies, and someone had pinned this lovely sweater bag. Immediately, I knew what I’d be doing – this was the perfect use for one of those felted sweaters hanging out in a milk crate under my desk! And even better, it would make a perfect gift for someone in my family. So I got out my sewing scissors, and went for it. I snipped and cut and pinned and sewed. At first I thought it would be lovely if I could line it with a bright cotton print, but that attempt failed pretty quickly when I realized how long it would take me to pin the lining in place. The felted sweater was too thick to fold down and sew the handles as per the linked tutorial, so instead I reinforced the stretchy edges by running it through my serger, and using a fray-stopper on the snipped threads. The original tutorial had a plain square bottom seam, so to help round the corners a bit, I sewed a seam 2.5″ in from the corner at a 45-degree angle from side to bottom, and then snipped off the excess fabric inside. I feel this gives a nicer shape to the bag, even if it compromises a little in the interior space.

Once I made the bag, I realized that it needed some character, some oomph, something to make it extra-fun. I went stash-diving and found some gorgeous variegated green wool. I used this felted flower corsage tutorial and crocheted up three flowers to felt. I originally planned to do a crocheted rolled rosette, but after test-felting one, it turned into an unidentifiable ball of green. These flowers felted up nicely, it took two washes for the big one and three for the small ones to get just the right amount of felting for me. Once they were done and dried, I pinned them on the bag, and hand-stitched them in place.

Overall, I’m really happy with this upcycled project. I have a couple more felted sweaters in my stash that are sure to have a similar fate!

Guilt-Free All-Purpose Cleaner

Over the years, I’ve amassed an arsenal of cleaning products, both of the green and not-so-green varieties. The only thing I hate more than cleaning is the plethora of artificial scents and harsh chemicals that come in typical cleaning products. So-called ‘green’ products are slightly better, but damn, those can get expensive. And with both, mountains of waste pile up as you finish one bottle and buy another. I also have a moderate scent sensitivity, fake chemical smells are the worst offenders for me, especially the kinds that make cleaning products smell ‘pretty’. To me, they just smell gross. So, I have decided to cut myself off cleaners. I’ve been using the standard 50/50 vinegar & water mix for a while, and it works great for light cleaning. But lately I’ve found that I need something a little stronger, so I went off in search of other all-purpose cleaner recipes. Twitter did not steer me wrong – when I polled my followers, I got several replies to my query.

This recipe is an adaptation – I changed it a bit after reading others that had different ratios of soap, borax & vinegar. And of course, since I’m a bit of an aromatherapy nut, I added some essential oils – tea tree oil for a little extra cleansing power, and lemon just because. I used Dr. Bronner’s almond castile soap as well since it’s what I had on hand, but you could just as easily use another scent (peppermint would probably be great!), or a liquid dish soap of choice, preferably something ‘green’ like Seventh Generation or Nature Clean. I’ve found this stuff works pretty well, a spray and a light scrub with a rag took off a couple weeks’ worth of filthy fingerprints on my front door, tomato sauce splatter on the stove top, and toothpaste residue in the sink. It picked up the dried-on stuff with less elbow grease than just vinegar & water, and didn’t leave filmy residue behind. And bonus? It smells good! Not chemically and fake, but actually good. And since I keep all the necessary ingredients for this cleaner on hand anyway, my cleaning supply arsenal just got a little bit smaller. Score!

Just a note, good spray bottles can be hard to find.  I happened across good ones at Home Depot in the cleaning section, and they’re nice and big with a good spray nozzle. If you can only find smaller (~500mL ones), just cut this recipe in half.

Guilt-Free All-Purpose Cleaner
(Adapted from Different Shades of Green)

– 950mL spray bottle (~ 1 quart)
– 1/4 cup vinegar
– 1 tsp borax
– warm water
– 2 Tbsp castile soap or dish soap
– essential oils, optional (I used tea tree & lemon)

In the spray bottle, mix together vinegar and borax. Swirl until borax is dissolved.

Fill bottle mostly full with warm water, and give it a shake to mix.

Add castile soap, and 10-15 drops of essential oil, if desired. Swirl to mix, and get cleaning!

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Do you have a favourite DIY cleaning solution? Share and I’ll test it out!

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