Green Crafting

Rohan Anderson is a Ballarat based Dad, Husband and self confessed modern Hunter Gatherer. He’s often found pottering in his vegetable garden, in the kitchen or out embracing the food that nature provides. His blog ‘Whole Larder Love‘ documents his approach to food, fun and life in general.

Waste not

A few unseasonably warm days at the end of winter has me thinking about the spring plantings. Actually I turn into a pubescent schoolboy, giggling with joy when I asked that cute girl out to the blue light disco. Man I’m old. Sure you can grow some veg during winter, but it’s the warm season that floats my boat. So much garden action, and less reliance on the evil supermarkets for fresh produce.

One of the keys to having a veg patch that will provide enough produce for a family is planning. ‘Be prepared’ was the mantra drilled into me when I was a Cub; yes I was a total cutie in that uniform. If you want pictorial evidence email me at (

Being ready for the onset of spring is something I diligently take care of every year. A few years ago I purchased one of those cheap little hot houses from the hardware store, all of $30 and worth every penny. I have to mend it with new clear plastic each year but the frame size is good, perfect for the urban farmer.

Raising seedlings makes more sense to me than buying a punnet of seedlings for around $4, especially when you are growing a lot of veg it can become quite a fiscal commitment, one of which our family, on a single income, couldn’t afford. It’s not that I’m a super tight arse but it just makes sense to find a cheaper alternative. Okay so I’m a bit of a tight arse.

We raise our own seedlings; with a packet of seeds costing only a few bucks which goes a great deal further than buying trolleys full of punnets at your garden centre. Take carrots for example, in a punnet you get 6-8 individual carrot plants for $4, where as a jumbo pack of seeds for the same price can grow you a 100 individual carrots. So why on earth do people insist on buying punnets of seedlings? Well usually it’s a combination of poor planning, laziness or limited knowledge of how to raise your own seedlings. It’s super easy guys, like opening that crisp cold beer on a stinking hot summer day. Easy.

Making the effort will you save a heap of doe, but the satisfaction you get from raising a plant from the beginning to end is something we don’t get from most of our everyday lives. That’s one thing I believe is fundamentally flawed in our society, we don’t get to see much physical evidence of a job well done. You go to work, sit in front of a computer, make a few phone calls and go home. Sure you’ve done ‘something’ but the satisfaction isn’t immediately obvious. With gardening you can physically see something rise from the soil and grow into a tangible object you can put on your plate. You know its origins, you know no chemicals were used and the flavour will blow you away so much you may need to change your knickers. I remember tasting my first homegrown garlic many years ago and was astonished by the rich peppery flavour. A change of knickers ensued.

Gardening doesn’t require super specialised equipment, or rules… I hate rules. Like everything in life simplify the process and leave room to enjoy yourself. I tend to recycle items that would otherwise be destined for the bin, like toilet paper rolls and food tins. There are a few advantages of utilising both.

The toilet paper roll is normally bound for ground fill where they would rot without purpose, but using them for seedlings gives them one last purpose. There is also another great advantage – from a gardening perspective – for the seedling to be planted directly into the garden still in the roll, the roll will eventually rot down while at the same time providing some support for the delicate root system of the seedling. When you plant from a punnet you disturb the root system no matter how careful you are. If there is a lot of disturbance the growth of the plant can be set back a few weeks while it recovers. With toilet rolls there is no (minimal) root disturbance, allowing the fresh seedling to thrive once it’s planted.

Saying that though I also like to use old food tins to raise individual seedlings. A generous root system develops and they make ace gifts for your family and friends, especially when you plant a tomato in an Italian tomato tin… oh the irony. With the tins – I bang in a few drainage holes with a hammer and nail underneath – otherwise they can get waterlogged.

It’s a simple process. Choose your seeds; fill the chosen container with seed raising mix, pop in your seeds and top with more seed raising mix and water. Continue to water each day and in a few weeks depending on the seed type little plants will pop up, at this point you will need to change your undies due to the level of excitement.

I always tend to grow more than I need, and the excess I give away to anyone interested, in the hope of getting someone else interested in becoming one step closer to self sufficiency. Now that totally rocks.

Now finish up the gardening session with one of these…

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Maize Hutton is from Montana and lives in a cottage in the woods with her little Westie Violet. She loves to thrift, design DIYs and share her creations on her blog. She’s a recycled silver artist with two websites Mommy and Maize

Howdy! I’m Maize Hutton and I’m thrilled to be a guest blogger on

I started blogging DIYs back in 2004 when my recycled silver tag necklaces ‘Mommy Tags’ became popular. The success of Mommy Tags enabled me to stay home, create and play. I love to thrift and reconstruct. I consider myself a multi-media artist because I dabble in everything from sewing, embroidery, crochet and knitting, to jewelry making, clay modeling and paper projects.

I’ve been recycling and thrifting since the 70s, a long time before the existence of the current thrift store chains and the popularity it has now garnered. When I was younger, there was a stigma attached to thrift stores but I looked past it when my girlfriend would show me the cute clothes she’d bought and hadn’t spent much for. My parents owned a bar and recycled enough aluminium cans one year that our family of five was able to travel to Hawaii for a two-week vacation! So, I guess you can say it’s in my blood.

Part of being a good thrifter is making sure to visit your thrift store often (I make my rounds once a week) and keeping a notebook of things you’re looking for with family member clothing sizes and measurements of items you need to fit in a specific area of your home. Having a notebook reminds me of what I’m looking for and allows me to stay on track when I’m thrifting because I can get carried away with the idea of a ‘good deal’ and end up bringing home more than I really need or have space for.

There have been times when I’ve bought something, such as a bag of vintage skeleton keys, that I didn’t know what I would use them for but I knew I’d be inspired to create something with later on. I’ve learned not to pass up those special types of items because I’ll stew over them for a few days, come up with a use for them and then kick myself for not buying them.

I also believe that having the basic skill of sewing allows you to reconstruct things you normally wouldn’t consider. My mother taught me how to sew but everything else I’ve learned, such as knitting and crocheting or using power tools, is self- taught.

I’m drawn to vintage linens, doilies, dishes, paper items, and leather coats and boots. I cut up a thrifted leather coat and made the “Howdy” fringe banner in the picture. Currently, I’m collecting a supply of leather belts to use as webbing in reconstructing a vintage aluminium lawn chair. Recently, I was invited to a luau and needed to wear a Hawaiian shirt. I didn’t have one, but because I visit my thrift store often I knew they had a large supply of Hawaiian shirts in great condition for 95 cents. It helps to make a mental note of what you see in your thrift store in case there’s something you’ll need in the future.

If you find an item that appeals to you but isn’t in the greatest condition, consider how it can be reused or reconstructed. For example, if I discover a vintage tablecloth with a great print but it has a few stains that can’t be removed, it can be cut up and used as dishtowels, curtains, a bag, bunting, gift-wrap or blocks for a quilt. Think outside the box and play with various ideas.

Thrift stores satisfy my creativity and help me make something personal to suit my taste instead of buying something new and generic that everyone else has. Thrifting is not only about saving money; it’s the thrill of the hunt. Finding something you’ve been looking for, in the condition you want at a thrifty price, is so satisfying that you can get addicted to the thrill! For me, and my pocketbook, it’s a good addiction to have.

I get bored quickly and I’m always working on several projects at a time. Fast and easy crafts with satisfying results are my favorite, so I thought I’d share a few of my recent creations with you. You can also visit the tutorial page on my blog for archived projects since 2005.

The following projects are easy, take minutes to make and you’ll love the results. You can even include your kids to help you with a few of them! Have fun creating and I hope you visit me soon.

Enamel Vintage Keys with Nail Polish. So easy!

Make Paper Twine with Crepe Paper Rolls

Make Butter with Your Kids It's Simple!

Make some Heart Clips for your Huny

Sweet Vintage Spool Sentiments

Thanks Kathreen for the opportunity to share some of my DIY projects with all of your lovely followers. And, BIG hugs to everyone who visits me on my blog.

Yer sweet!


Kylie Gusset is a Melbourne based yarn and fibre nut who is a fully paid up member of the Solidarity League of Creative Women Distracted By Oooohh! Shiny! She has a background in studio textiles from RMIT, and has contributed to Yarn Magazine, Knitters Review, and Entangled. 

Today she is here to tell us about issue that affects most crafters, and almost certainly anyone involved in working with wool – whether you knit, crochet, felt, or do something else with the end product of our sheepy pals. TON OF WOOL is her initiative aiming for change, and enabling sheep to skein processing of rare wool within Australia. 

Let me tell you a story about wool.

Before I get started though, there’s a couple of other stories that I need to tell you about: garlic and strawberries. It will all make sense in the end, I promise.

Once upon a time, I bought those little cheap mesh baggies of white garlic cloves and added them to pretty much everything savory without a second thought. Then I found out that those cheap garlics come at a price. They’re imported from China, grown in sewage, covered in chemicals to stop them rotting, then onsold (in Australia and elsewhere), often a year after harvest.*

There’s an icecream company** in the USA who are currently under fire from the US health department because they use real food – that is, real strawberries and real dairy products. What does the US health department want them to use? Corn syrup, and a fake processed mix. The freaking health department.

It’s a similar story with wool…

Around 80% of the annual Australian wool clip is shipped to China for scouring. What happens to this wool over in China? I don’t know. Given what happens to garlic, and we ingest that, it scares me. Labelling regulations in Australia for wool don’t require us to know if something has left the country before it has been sold. Companies such as Australian Country Spinners, Bendigo Woollen Mills and Heirloom are then able to say that their wool is “Australian Grown & Spun” and can leave out the chinese scouring information.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) – they have no interest in supporting local enterprise***. It’s white merino, or nothing. Reading their press releases is not unlike reading the Onion, and is able to give the same entertainment value. A major pat on the back to the Wool Carbon Alliance back in 2009, who pimped wool as the fibre of choice for attendees of the United Nations Climate Change Conference:  ”Wool suits, jackets and coats can all be seen at the conference… with the capacity to reduce our reliance on heating from fossil fuels.” Of course, what the press release declines to mention is the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport and process wool in order to create those suits, jackets and coats.

Over 60 million tonnes of lanolin, dirt, sheep dung, and all the other stuff that gets removed in the sheep fleece washing process (known as scouring) is shipped to China each year, using fossil fuels. Why? It’s cheaper to scour in China. Scouring in China also ensures that the guys at the top of the food chain in the wool industry are taken care of – it’s like if you’re in the business of selling handmade bags, if you have five to sell, your options of selling into various places might be limited. If you have five thousand, it’s a different story.

If you’re a small operator, or you have sheep that aren’t white merino, you, my friend, have a real problem. To cut a long story short, the only place that I know of in Australia who is currently able to knowledgeably scour wool can do a minimum of a ton (preferably after some talking down from their usual minimum of 2 tons). For a small scale farmer, coming up with around 300 fleeces, and the $30,000 (and upwards) to process that amount after breeding, feeding, and general care of sheep is a huge ask. While there’s some who do, such as Wendy Dennis and Bennett and Gregor, their options for processing shrink each year.

I’ve started an initiative online, and time is running out.

If only it were true that there was plenty of Australian wool. As an indie dyer, sourcing the best that I can find in terms of raw materials has always been a major part of what I do. In terms of purchasing merino yarn that hasn’t left the country, I wasn’t able to find anything that I’d be happy dyeing and selling. However there was the awesome choice of Woolganics, who have an amazing organic yarn that is spun in New Zealand because we don’t have organic manufacturing available in Australia. Thing is, as a dyer, I’m a tad hamstrung – due to rising wool prices, Woolganics is no longer offering wholesale.

I’m not encouraging a boycott of big companies, or suggesting that every single yarn that goes through china is the work of satan. Instead, I’m encouraging the wonders of a balanced diet with yarn, just like you would food. Overdone it on the junk food? Might be an idea to take a break from the donuts and up your intake of fruit and veg. Think farmers markets are way too expensive? Don’t feel that you have to spend your complete weekly food budget – just set a target of X amount of dollars, and buy the rest elsewhere.

Similarly, if you haven’t spent a cent in a local yarn store, yet rely on their stock to check how those online colors fare in real life, it might be time to give a little back. There’s no harm in letting them know that you’re prepared to pay more for something that hasn’t left the country, either. It’s time to support local initiatives while you still can.

Help out with Kylie’s TON OF WOOL initiative aiming for change, and enabling sheep to skein processing of rare wool within Australia. 

*Link to article on Chinese garlic

**the icecream company is nicecream. Read about their story here, and check out their kickstarter project.

***There’s a real problem with the current Australian wool industry, and the sooner it gets resolved, the better. Charles Massy has done an incredible job in outlining exactly where AWI (Australian Wool Innovation) have been pulling the wool over people’s eyes.


The California Wine Club is partnering with to “Put a Cork in it” and recycle 20 million wine corks. We would like to offer a great big thank you to Kathreen for allowing us this opportunity to talk about the benefits of natural cork, our collection drive, and also – wait for it – our SWEEPSTAKES!

Natural wine cork is a fascinating resource. Unlike paper, the Cork Oak can be harvested without being felled. Instead, mature cork trees are stripped of their bark, leaving the tree ready for harvest again in about 10 years. And, with a lifespan of up to 120 years, Cork Oak trees are a truly renewable resource, right from the beginning.

Unfortunately, once the cork makes its way into our wine bottles, and subsequently our homes, it is often thrown away, despite the fact that it is renewable. Cork can be recycled, upcycled, “whipped up” and everything in between; shoes, flooring, artwork, and candleholders are just a few of the examples that we have seen.

Links to upcycled/recycled wine cork diy projects:

All these creative uses for what would otherwise be garbage have inspired us to host a contest! Just post a picture of your cork art project on our Facebook wall, and you’ll be entered to win a FREE membership to The CA Wine Club, which includes three months of home wine deliveries.

If you’re not feeling inspired, but would still like to contribute to our collection drive, simply visit the “Request an Envelope” tab on our Facebook page and fill out the form for your postage-paid envelope. Don’t forget to visit the “Sweepstakes” tab as well, because you shouldn’t have to be a great artist or craftsman/woman to win free things!

If we reach our goal of 20 million corks collected, ReCORK will plant 1,000 Cork Oak trees in the Mediterranean Cork Oak Forest. These trees provide essential income to the families that harvest them, and all you have to do to help is save your corks and send them in!

So let’s drink wine and be green! Next time you pop a cork, set it aside for recycling!

Best Wishes,
The California Wine Club.


Kirstin and Jordan are sisters who blog at kojodesigns. And while ‘creativity’ sometimes looks different for each of them – Jordan’s kitchen is the backdrop for many an experiment in crafty cooking and she is rarely without her camera while Kirstin is slowly decorating her home with Anthropologie knock-offs and using her extra minutes to whip up new J Crew-y duds for her kiddos (and her sisters), there is a whole lot of crafty overlap as well (mostly their shared love for throwing kicking parties and showers).

Hello whipup friends! I am Kirstin, half of a sister team that blogs over at kojodesigns, and I am just thrilled to be here today!

Recently, I helped hostess a “retro patchwork” baby shower. For the decor, we tried to incorporate as many vintage items as possible (vintage quilts and afghans, a retro cooler, mason jar glasses, vintage serving ware). We also used vintage sheets to make several of the decor elements, including a vintage sheet flag bunting, vintage sheet cocktail napkins and vintage sheet fabric flower corsages. But why let the vintage sheet fun stop there?

I’m here today with a darling (and super simple) vintage pillowcase skirt tutorial.

To make one yourself, you’ll need:

  • a vintage pillowcase
  • sewing supplies
  • a yard of contrasting bias tape
What to do:
  1. Cut the sewn top edge off of the pillowcase. Cut the rest of the pillowcase down to 20″ long.
  2. Measure your natural waist. Cut a length of 2″ wide elastic, the same length as your measurement. Sew the ends of the elastic together, right sides facing each other, creating a waistband. Trim the edges to look clean and top stitch them down.
  3. Pin the elastic tube to the top edge of the skirt. First turn the elastic inside out, slide on the outside of the skirt (so that the right sides are facing each other). Find the middle of the back of the skirt and pin to the middle of the back of the elastic tube. Repeat with the middle of the front of the skirt and the two edges (this ensures that your elastic is evenly spaced). Continue pinning at equal intervals. Sew the elastic to the top edge of the skirt. Pull the elastic taut as you go. Sew a zig zag stitch around the perimeter to prevent the minimize fraying.
  4. Finish off the hem with contrasting bias tape.
  5. Done! Super cute, super simple skirt with a retro vibe!