Green Crafting

During most of 2013, will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Abby and Stacey for the month of March.

Guest editor: Abby Glassenberg :: Blog :: Twitter: @abbyglassenberg


I’ve stocked much of my sewing studio from local thrift stores and rummage sales. Reusing materials you find secondhand is eco-friendly and usually much cheaper than buying new. Here are my best tips for a successful shopping trip to the resale shop:

1. Don’t buy thread
Thread becomes brittle over time. Old thread will fray and snap so you can’t sew with it. Because I love wooden spools I buy old thread, but just for display purposes.

2. Find the “holiday décor” section
People who organize rummage sales often stick the fabric and sewing supplies in the holiday décor section. Search for the Santa figurines and Christmas ornaments. I’ve found tons of awesome fabric shoved in bins under the holiday table.

3. Look under the table
Fabric is bulky and hard to display. It often gets shoved into garbage bags or cardboard boxes and is underneath the table at the sale. Be sure to pull the bags and bins out and have a thorough look inside.

4. Head over to the “linens” section
Large cuts of fabric are often mistaken as tablecloths and may be hanging with the linens. Old linens themselves are also awesome sources of fabric. Vintage cloth napkins, linen placements, and tablecloths make great fabrics for tote bags and all kinds of other craft projects.

5. Check for stains, weak spots, holes, and smells
Items often end up at a thrift shop for a reason. Be sure to look things over carefully. But just because something has a stain, or a moth hole, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, but do assess how much of the piece is usable before making your purchase.

6. Finish what other people start
Half completed needlework canvases, quilt squares that have been sewn but not assembled, embroidery kits that were never begun… these are all wonderful treasures! Don’t feel limited by the work that has already been done. You can disassemble or cut up what’s there and use the materials in a new way.

7. Don’t buy stuff just because it’s cheap
Having too much stuff crammed into your studio space is demoralizing. Just because fabric is cheap doesn’t mean you need to take it home with you. Evaluate your finds and try to think clearly about them. Do you need 3 yards of zebra print canvas at a $1 a yard? Maybe not (or maybe yes!).

Soft Toy Sewing Books

8. Don’t forget the books
I learned to sew stuffed animals from vintage soft toy books. Be sure to peruse the book section of any thrift store before you check out. Craft books are often shoved in with the gardening titles and cookbooks. Vintage craft books are like gems, full of crazy color combinations, antiquated language, and terrific inspiration.

9. Keep an open mind
Thrifting is a treasure hunt. If you have time, look at everything that’s for sale. Those leather gloves could be cut up and used as teddy bear paws. That skein of yarn would make awesome doll hair. And the funky fleece scarf could become an excellent elephant. Think broadly and embrace the thrill of the hunt.

Do you shop secondhand for craft supplies? If you’ve got story of a great find, we’d love to hear about it! And please share your tips for successful thrift store shopping.


During most of 2013, will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Abby and Stacey for the month of March. The theme for their month here together is the notion of making something from nothing.

Stacey Trock: blog :: twitter: @freshstitches

Have you heard of a magic ball?

magic ball

It’s a ball of yarn that changes colors and textures as you work. It’s something offered by a number of artisan yarn makers… but it’s also something you can make yourself with your leftover yarn!

pile of scraps


Besides ending up with an awesomely fun end-product… you’ll finally get to use up all of those weird leftover pieces of yarn that are too small (you thought!) to do anything with! How great is that?

Ready to get started?

You’ll need two things. One, gather all of the leftover yarn bits that are lurking in your stash. You know what I mean. They’re too small for their own projects, but too big to toss out. You keep thinking you’ll do something with them…

And a tapestry needle — (mine is a bent-tip needle, but that’s by no means necessary for this. All you need is a needle that’s big enough to fit your yarn through the eye.)

Okay, now we’re ready to start! We’re going to make our magic ball by joining all of these leftover yarns together using a technique called the ‘Russian Join’. The Russian join allows you to fasten yarns together without a knot, and it has the advantage of working with any type of yarn (unlike the ‘spit splice’, which relies on 100% wool yarn.)

In terms of grouping your yarns together, you’ll want to group yarns in a way that is pleasing to you. Some folks prefer the random approach, but I like creating a color theme. For my magic ball, I’m attaching only various shades of purple. I also recommend using yarns of the same weight. My magic ball is composed entirely of worsted weight yarns.

Let’s learn how to do the Russian Join.

Step 1: Thread your tapestry needle with yarn A (to start, yarn A will be an arbitrary choice. As you continue, yarn A will be the yarn that is attached to your ball).


Step 2: About 2 inches from the end of the yarn, insert your tapestry needle through the yarn. Split the plies, and work the needle through the yarn for about an inch, then pull the needle through, bringing the yarn tail through this bit of yarn.



Notice that you have a loop!


Step 3: Okay, now, thread yarn B (the other yarn) through the tapestry needle, and stick the tapestry needle through the loop in yarn A.


Step 4: About 2 inches from the end of yarn B’s tail, insert the tapestry needle through the yarn… just like you did before.


Now you’ve made a second loop, joined onto yarn A!


When you pull the ends, you’ll notice the two yarns are fully joined! Hooray!

step7To make a magic ball, keep attaching yarns, one after another. You’ll probably find it helpful to wind the ball up as you go, particularly if you’re using long leftover lengths of yarn.

Once you’ve run out of leftovers (or have a ball that’s big enough), you can use your magic ball for any project! When knitted or crocheted, it’ll create an awesome striping-effect! And, you don’t need to do anything special at the joins, just keep working!

Isn’t that fun? And doesn’t it make you want to gather up (and use) your leftovers?


We both share a love of making practical things from humble materials, but what brought us together initially was our love of designing patterns for stuffed animals. We are really excited to announce that we’ll be releasing our first collaborative pattern on March 20th: Pepper the Penguin.
Together we’ve designed an adorable penguin softie. Stacey created the crochet pattern and Abby created the sewing pattern. And you’ll get both in one! Pepper comes with patterns for a cute wintry hat and scarf, too, so that you can mix and match. Sew Pepper, then give him a crocheted hat and scarf, or crochet him and then sew up his accessories. It’s so much fun to mix and match! We hope you’ll enjoy sewing and crocheting Pepper. He’s terrific both ways!
Get the pattern beginning on Wednesday, March 20, at freshstitches and whileshenaps Thank you!


During most of 2013, will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Hi! We are Abby Glassenberg and Stacey Trock and we are guest editors together here on WhipUp for the month of March.

We are both stuffed animal designers, Stacey crochets amigurumi and Abby sews softies, and we both have creative businesses centered around our crafts. We share a love of making something new and wonderful, by hand, where nothing existed before. The theme for our month here together is the notion of making something from nothing.

Craft, in its essence, is about turning humble materials, such as yarn and cloth, into beautiful, useful things that enrich our lives. It is DIY at its essence and we are excited to share our ideas on this topic and to hear yours, too. Thank you for joining us!

owl and the pussycat

Owl and the pussycat


I spent winter vacation at my in-laws house. I always bring a project with me on trips and this year I brought my scrap bin. While everyone sat around the fire, watching movies in the evening, I sat on the floor and sorted a year’s worth of fabric scraps into color-coded baggies. Some scraps were fairly large and some were treasured bits of vintage fabric, but others were just tiny leftovers from some project or other. Looking at some of those tiny pieces my mother-in-law said to me, “Don’t you throw anything away?”

Here’s the thing. I love crafting for a whole host of reasons, but primary among them is my devotion to making something from nothing. That tiny scrap could become a beautiful covered button or a fabric flower pin! I save what other people might sweep up and throw out. Why? Because I’m a crafter.

This month on WhipUP my friend and fellow plush maker, Stacey Trock, and I will be talking about our mutual love of making something from nothing. We’ve got lots of thoughts and ideas for you on this topic and we’re excited to be here.

Abby’s Blog: While she naps :: Etsy :: Facebook


Dragon pattern

Stacey: I absolutely love quilts. The idea that you can take tiny scraps from well-worn clothing and make something functional… even something beautiful, has always astounded me. I never became a very skilled quilter, but my passion for using and reusing every scrap of material and fiber lives on. Professionally, I’m a crochet designer who specializes in making stuffed animals. I live the lucky life of being surrounded by yarn and making beautiful things that I (and others) enjoy. But after my design-work is done, there are leftovers. A half-skein of blue yarn. A little patch of felt. A fun fluffy orange yarn. I can’t bear to see them vanish into the garbage bin. Instead, I stow these leftovers in a bag in my closet. They’re still valuable… they have a crafting purpose left!

This month, I’m delighted to team up with Abby Glassenberg, a fellow plush maker, who also shares my passion for letting no crafting material go to waste. I hope you love what we have to share!

Stacey’s blog: Fresh stitches :: Twitter @freshstitches


The Essential Herbal for Natural Health: How to Transform Easy-to-Find Herbs into Healing Remedies for the Whole Family by Holly Bellebuono [blog]. Roost Books (March 13, 2012).

As you may have guessed I am very much into home herbal healing and beauty products lately. I love how they make me feel, how they smell, how satisfying they are to make and that they do really work. I recently published my latest Action Pack Magazine all about this topic – it’s called Family Apothecary – you can download a free excerpt – how to make healing salves.

Holly begins the book by describing the 11 essential herbs that she refers to throughout this book and the various methods for using the herbs — tinctures and herbal oils, tisanes and teas, infusions, decoctions and syrups, plasters and liniments and soaks – it is very thorough. Holly’s writing style is easy to digest and understand — she explains all of this in a very non-stuffy friendly way. The recipes focus on specific remedies to men, women, children and then the whole family.

This book really feels complete. Its compact size and easy layout will mean it can remain in the kitchen or bathroom or close at hand for when you need to quickly look something up, and the lovely breezy, yet knowledgeable writing style will make you want to sit on the couch and read it all cover to cover with a cup of herbal brew.

There is a really lovely chapter titled ‘mind and spirit’ which has recipes for easing anxiety and insomnia, there are teas and tinctures for sleeping and improving memory and for boosting your emotional strength.

I want to share this recipe for Crossroads tea

Holly says that this tea is grounding and centering.

2 tablespoons of dried chopped ginger
1 quart of water (just under 1 litre)
2 tablespoons of dried violet flowers

Simmer the ginger in the water for 5-8 minutes, add the violets and stir and remove from the heat. Cover and let steep for 5-8 minutes. Strain and drink.

Oh and I need to mention the wonderful illustrations — hand drawn by Geninne Zlatkis.


Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Lara Cameron is a Melbourne based textile designer and co-owner of Ink & Spindle, a boutique, organic and sustainable yardage screen printing studio located in Melbourne. Lara blogs at kirinote.

It would be so easy for me to write a post about how to turn your hobby or passion into a business. It’s a topic I know about all too well, since textile design was one of those things I dabbled with on the side before Teegs and I launched Ink & Spindle, our small, textile design and screen printing business. But I think there’s enough posts out there already explaining the value of business plans, pricing, blogging and good photography (although if you want to know about pricing check out the blog post I wrote on the topic over here!).

Instead I thought it would be nice to write about how my craft – and running Ink & Spindle – has improved my health and outlook on life. Because over the years it’s becoming more and more apparent to me how much the way I view the world has changed during the time we’ve owned this business.

I guess fundamental to this shift in thinking is the fact that running a small business doesn’t provide much in terms of financial reward. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact. If you want to produce goods in an ethical, sustainable manner, without cutting corners or working crazy hours, you’ll never make as much money as those people whose businesses function within (and depend upon) the fundamentally flawed construct of the capitalist world. You pay first world rent, pay first world wages, work first world hours (mostly). Naturally profit margins are much lower, but that’s inherent in any ethical business and I feel like it’s the only way I’d ever like to earn money.

So if you’re not doing it for financial reward, why are you doing it? Because there are other rewards in the world that are more valuable than money, such as going to work each day and feeling good about what you are doing. It feels like such a privilege to do something each day that I enjoy, to work with my hands, be creative, be surrounded by good people and ultimately have full control over my own direction. It’s also highly rewarding to feel like you’re making some small positive contribution to the world. We may be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of the world of textiles, but it’s great to be providing people with an ethical alternative, and proving to our peers that it is possible to make a living doing something you love.

In a way I’ve found my very modest wage to be quite liberating. Before Ink & Spindle I worked as a web and graphic designer. My wage was still modest but fairly consistent, and I started to entertain the notion that I could buy some property. Buying a house is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was quite young, and I still love the idea of it. But living in Melbourne where property prices are through the roof respective to average incomes, buying a home anywhere close to the city is something that’s just not an option to a lot of people in my generation.

But strangely, now that that option has been taken away from me, I actually feel quite free. Thinking about buying a house and feeling like I needed to save a lot and start looking ASAP was always a background stress in my life, a constant pressure. Now that I’ve let that go I feel like my eyes have been opened to other ways of thinking about life and what my priorities are. I also feel as though it’s okay for me to live more in the moment. I don’t need to be constantly saving or chasing higher incomes just so that I can save for a deposit or pay off a bit more of a mortgage. I can live a bit more for the “now”. I can focus on those things that make my day to day life enjoyable – friends, family, making things – and what’s more important than being happy, right now?

I think this is a good moment to quote a bit of the wise ‘ol Dalai Lama: The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:


Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

I guess it’s easy for me to spout these ideals whilst I am currently unattached and childless, but I hope that in my future – when I do have a family – I will be able to live by similar values. I’d like to live simply. I’d like to extend the ethical practices of my business into more facets of my life. I’d like to have chooks and a vegie garden and maybe one day build a self sufficient home outside of town.

I guess to put it simply, my small creative business has educated and allowed me to step outside of the rat race, view it from a slightly more objective standpoint. I am happier and healthier now that I stand free of those pressures, and am glad to be able to put my time and energy into building a business that makes myself and others happy and is hopefully benefiting the world in some small way :)