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Blog Posts on My Frugal Life:

Dirty Knitting
Friday, February 21, 2014 | By pamphyila

For the past few days I have been knitting up a storm & have almost finished a stole/shawl made out of my yarn stash.  That's one way I save on yarn costs by collecting yarn from sales & thrift shops in bits & pieces and them putting the yarns together to make scarves or shawls.  I have made it faster by using TWO strands of regular worsted weight yarn (& sometimes THREE with a specialty yarn such as a mohair) to create a tweedy effect.  I put it on size 11 needles - casting on 50 stitches. Then I change the combination of yarn every 3 to 4 rows (at the end of the row). 

As I said, this creates a tweedy effect - in rows. And I am adding just a bit of fun fur along the beginning and ending edges just for a bit of flare. (I didn't have enough fun fur to do more than that & I mixed the fun fur with a strand of worsted weight, and a strand of a light novelty yarn.) 

There is not fixed formula - you mix and match yarns as you will and according to what you have in your yarn stash.  I found out that I wound up following a loose pattern of alternating yarn colors - & as I get closer to the end, I am trying to reproduce the pattern at the beginning of the shawl with more accuracy.

And that's it! Quick & VERY easy technically with a satisfying artistic effect. (I use the knit stitch throughout  as I think it has more of a hand-knitted effect.)  It is also very forgiving of errors. I did a blue one before I started this one with a white/green/purple mix and I could go back and make knots where I found holes or dropped stitches somehow - & the effect is so "dirty" - so craftily messy - that it doesn't really show or matter. (That one was an experiment and was done on larger needles with 100 stitches across, which was almost too wide for the needles, but I jammed the yarn on there & continued.)  But then these are really all experiments of a sort - which is what makes them interesting.

The lesson is that even with knitting you can use your own creativity.  And of course, it makes all those balls of yarn go together in a  version of a rag rug - but with more chic. I love the shawls that come out of it.  And in California weather shawls are perfect for cool evenings.  I wear them by themselves, or draped over a jacket for when it's chillier.  So that's it - what I call  "dirty" knitting.  I am looking for an excuse to wear my NEXT new shawl - & there's still stuff in the stash for another one or more!

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Summer Projects
Friday, June 29, 2012 | By pamphyila

Thought I would share with you some of what hubby & I have been doing over the summer -

  • The aeriel snapped when hubby took the car through a new car wash with less than soft fiber parts - And when he asked the mechanic about it, he said it would cost $60 to replace!  So hubby went to a bargain store knew of where he could get one for $10 & then put it on himself with dollar store epoxy - And spliced the wires himself - Voila! All fixed for $50 less!
  • Hubby has also been on the hunt for good USED tires - there are a LOT in our neighborhood off wrecks, etc. - & now we have 2 good ones ( $50) to add to the others we got ($60). Now - those would be $400 new & good enough for our 16-year-old Mercury!
  • I found a 50's/60's jewelry box - the leatherette kind with a lock - for 50 CENTS at a junky thrift shop. The inside is a lovely red satin & red velvet - but the top was battered & down to the cardboard. So I went looking for the perfect thing to decoupage on top. I found a 50's black & white vintage fashion image from BAZAAR & applied it with my homemade MOD PODGE (just white glue thinned with water!) It has dried & now looks fantastic - as if the image had always been there! So a new jewelry box for $.50!!

By the way, the Carmex people are giving me more of their product for a giveaway - I will keep you posted & please send in your names & addresses so I can forward that to Carmex.

Anybody out there? I miss your comments! Please tell me what you think - even if you think I stink?


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Fashion Fixes
Wednesday, May 02, 2012 | By pamphyila

Suppose this is me being crafty - I have been FIXING costume jewelry & clothing lately.  Have to admit - I enjoy it!

Numero Uno - I bought what I found out was a Schiaperelli bracelet (famous 30's designer, Paris, surreal see pic) in Sacramento at a thrift shop - but it was a bit worn - so I FIXED the finish slightly with gold-colored nail polish - just a bit here & there where the gold finish was worn - & voila! lovely bracelet - which I couldn't afford otherwise - even in vintage. (Also touched up a worn bit on a pair of "gold" earrings - wore both with bargain new bracelet to concert on Sat. - in $7 Chico cropped pants set I had bought in Ventura & a pr. of silk? flats in a golden color $1 same place in Ventura - I am a good customer of theirs.)

Two -  Fixed a spot on a nice light turquoise cotton jacket with waffle texture -

I got it for $1 because of 2 slight coffee spots in the front - So I bleached them just slightly with hydrogen peroxide - & it did make a lighter patch - which I could then fill in with water -soluble felt pen in turquoise applied on wet cloth - Worked!

Spot cleaning technique is very valuable for repairing/restoring vintage, etc.

Three  - I tinted the ribbon "soutache" on a 99 Cent Store Vest

Did it with a light brown permanent marker (I have a whole set) - & colored the white plastic "dots" with dark blue nailpolish AND the white plastic buttons with the same light brown marker (I probably will replace them eventually).  Now it will look fine with my dark blue & black Indian pants - with the 99Cent white chiffon blouse I also bought at the 99 Cent Store. That's how outfits are born!)

I have also colored white plastic buttons (they look so cheap) on a dress with light pink pearl nail polish to go with the dress.  I liked the dome shape & once colored, just kept them.  Never even had bothered to unsew them.

See- more secrets of the frugalista trade!



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Craftlink Experiment
Thursday, February 10, 2011 | By pamphyila

Just linked up with Suzy's Sitcom, a craft site

Here she has a tutorial for FAUX Cast iron from toilet paper tubes??? Daunting. (I would have looked for it in the decor section of Ross!)


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Reuse or recycle thread spools as ribbon organizers.
Saturday, January 22, 2011 | By hoptownracer1

I finally thought of a way to store my loose  ribbon where I could see them easily. I had been saving all my empty thread spools, with the intention of using them to make ornaments with felt and little wooden heads, but then it occurred to me today to use them to store my ribbon. I had tons of them, so it worked out great. I actually had just enough to store what I had. I just used Scotch Magic tape and adhered them to the spool, then twisted them around it, and attached a piece of magic tape to keep them in place. For some of the thicker ribbon, I had to use regular tape, but I only had a few of those.  You could also use straight pins to adhere them, but that wouldn't be safe with pets or kids.  Also, I didn't want holes in my ribbon.
A lot of my ribbon is smaller pieces like a foot or so.  I left the cardboard spools of ribbon alone.  They work perfectly already.


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Greeting Card Bookmarks
Thursday, January 06, 2011 | By begonia

After the holidays, I am left contemplating a stack of beautiful cards that are too pretty to throw away. In the past, I’ve made them into gift tags, but there’s a limit to how many of those I can use per year. I’ve also given a lot of cards to a friend who converts them into pretty wall decorations with scripture verses and sends them to missionaries as gifts for the people they are serving.

Bookmarks are one thing that I never seem to have enough of. (At any given time, I will be reading five or six books.) I also like to give books as gifts and will often include a bookmark. I correspond via snail mail with a number of people as well and have found that bookmarks make nice tokens of esteem and liven up a letter. While traveling last summer, I bought photo bookmarks of that section of the Mississippi River in lieu of post cards (although postcards also make good bookmarks for bigger books)!

Making cards into bookmarks is simple.

1.       If the back of the card is written on heavily, cut it off and retain the front, reinforcing it with white pasteboard or cardstock from another source. (I save stiff white cardboard packaging material rather than throwing it away or recycling it so I can reuse it to make bookmarks.) If the back of the card is not written on, simply glue the card shut and trim to the desired width. Sometimes I will fold the front of the card over and glue the halves together to stiffen it.

2.       I use glue stick for most of my projects because it goes on relatively dry, and I make sure to apply the glue all the way to the edges so they don’t separate later. You could also use white tacky glue and spread a thin layer with a small paint brush.

3.       One card can sometimes be made into several bookmarks, depending on its size and design. I usually trim off the greeting, unless it suits my purpose, and any excess cardstock to make a nicely proportioned finished product.

4.       Finally, I punch a hole in the top of the card with a die cutter or hole punch and attach a ribbon or cord. Beads can be threaded onto the cord or ribbon to make the bookmark even more attractive.

Try making bookmarks out of birthday and anniversary cards you’ve saved because they were too pretty to discard (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) or recycle. Even pretty product packaging can be made into attractive bookmarks. (I’ve even made bookmarks out of the printed linings of envelopes!) Have fun. Begonia


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A Sewing Day
Sunday, January 02, 2011 | By begonia

It was a lovely bright day here on My Little Farm in Town. The sun was shining and actually felt warm! My daughter and I spent the rest of the day sewing with a friend.

My friend is an excellent seamstress. I provided the fabric from my stash and she helped us make sense out of the diagrams and directions! She came in the morning and stayed until the sun went down.

We started out by chatting and looking through some books on making tote bags and purses that I had gotten from the library and picked up at my favorite library book sale. We settled on patterns from two books: The Total Tote Bag Book: Designer Totes to Craft and Carry by Joyce Aiken and Jean Ray Laury, Taplinger Publishing Co., New York, 1977; and Making Handbags: Retro, Chic, Luxurious by Ellen Goldstein-Lynch, Sarah Mullins, and Nicole Malone, Rockport Publishers, Gloucester, Mass., 2002.

We moved to the family room and combed through my extensive stash of fabric. I find fabric at garage sales throughout the season for as little as 75 cents per yard or less—April through November. Some of my fabric came from friends who were sharing large windfalls of material from quilters.  I never turn down or pass up fabric, crafting materials, or art supplies because my daughter is very creative.  If she doesn’t use the items now, they will be there when she is ready for them!

After a break to collect eggs and eat lunch, we started cutting and sewing. I’m not a great seamstress. (I once made a pair of shorts with one leg!)  I just decided to jump in there and sew something myself. I’ve been watching my daughter sew her 4-H projects for a couple of years now, as well as lining up expert help to get her over the rough spots (such as a assistance with a plaid six-panel skirt for a season’s barter of fresh eggs).  

In the midst of all this frantic creativity, I got some strawberries out of the freezer and made shortcake.

We ended the day with two completed tote bags and one still under construction. We invited my friend’s husband over to ruin his supper by eating dessert and drinking strong coffee with us first. It was a nice way to break up the tedium of winter by doing something different and creative with a dear friend.

Can you think of some activity you can share with a friend? Try something new! Begonia

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finding stuff for my Garden art projects
Thursday, October 07, 2010 | By Jan Lee

Another beautiful day here on the east coast. I'd rate it a "10". So, in my on-going quest for pottery, plates, bowls, glassware, figurines etc. for my craft called "Garden Art" I took a trip to my local Salvation Army. I hadn't been there is years & thought it would be the usual ares of semi-clutter. I wasn't sure they would even have a china section but to my surprise I found a lovely well organized beautifully displayed area. There was a gorgeous end display of red glassware with stemware, plates, bowls & vases all artfully displayed with several stems of flowers & a lovely silk-like scarf. There were equally lovely displays in blues, yellows, greens & clear crystal & a striking display of black glassware & dishes also with vases & figurines. For a moment I thought I was at Neiman Marcus. I bought a few more items for my craft project & had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Take a few minutes or hours & go to your local Salvation Army. You'll have just as much fun as I did while helping a good cause.


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What to do with old weathered Fence boards
Tuesday, September 07, 2010 | By pigeonflyer

What to do with old weathered Fence boards?

I took it upon myself last weekend to make the pilgrimage out to my garage,

you see every time i clean my garage it seems as though the night after ,Gremlins will go in and

mess it up again, (I think the gremlins are a couple of people that I know) anyway, last weekend

I finally got the garage back in order, all of the tools back in their place, five trash cans full of stuff,

sorry environment I will be more responsible from now on,

I came across some old weathered cedar fencing that i have been saving to make a project out of.

Yesterday was the day, I gathered up the boards, I already had and Idea on what I was going to make, So I started, I spent all day in the garage, shot my self in the index finger with my brad nailer, good thing the brad was only 2"long or it might have done some real damage.

Anyway here is what was created out boards destine for the landfill hope you enjoy,

If any one would like some help creating one of these please be sure to email me and I will

help you all that I can.

Until the next time

Keep your fingers away from the nailer.



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plant stand
Thursday, July 15, 2010 | By gogalyboo

Trash To Treasure

or Junk style....

A new term I've learned, and found a great Website on it. Gave me an idea.

We had a 25 foot 3 tier steps , left over from our porch project. I found a website on how to make a plant stand out of them .. so here is our attempt at it.

Someone moved out and left this behind.. I sanded and refinished it, My new plant stand


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