Chalk it up

I’m cheating with this post as it isn’t about an item bought in a charity shop. Bear with me though, because it is of relevance to charity shop finds. Let me explain…

Earlier this week I used chalk paint to upcycle a table I have had for years and years. The table was chipped in places, and had a few faint cup rings on it, so the time had come to choose between sprucing it up or taking it to the tip. To be honest, I didn’t fancy adding to the piles of wood in skips, as I don’t know what happens to the furniture that ends up there.

Due to the heatwave I had the opportunity to use my garden as a workshop.


I wasn’t sure if chalk paint would work on the table, as it had a sort of vinyl, shiny finish. I had used chalk paint a few times before, but only on ‘proper’ wood, like photo frames. It was worth a try though, so out this pot came.


I’ll be honest, the table wasn’t nearly as easy to paint as the photo frames had been, which I think was due to the furniture’s glossy finish. Whereas the frames soaked up the paint quickly, meaning only a small quantity was required, the paint kind of shifted around on the table, leaving patches of brown showing. Perhaps I should have sanded the table down before applying the paint, (I’m no expert in such things, so really don’t know). I learned pretty rapidly that this meant quite a few coats would be needed, to produce a built-up finish.

I didn’t time myself, but I’d say the whole thing was done and dusted in less than four hours. My aim had been to get a shabby-chic finish, with a streaked effect, and I’m happy with the end product. Not bad for a complete novice, if I do say so myself!



(The coasters, in case of interest, are from John Lewis).

To bring this back to charity shop finds… Having a go with chalk paint has made confident that I could upcycle a charity shop find, whether that be wooden shelves, an occasional table, or a dining chair. I’ve heard that chalk paint isn’t the most hardwearing of finishes, but I presume I’ll be able to add a few more coats if/ when required. Given the table could have ended up at the tip, I’m sure I can put up with the need for a bit of maintenance.



Pocket rocket

I love Bank Holidays because days off work mean more craft time! I’ve had time to finish off a few works in progress, including a hat and a festival-bright wall hanging.



The vast majority of my crafting ventures involve knitting, so I’m really pleased to have had time to complete a different type of project.


I made this from just four items; a box photo frame that I bought in a charity shop (for less than the price of a cup of coffee), some pretty paper which came from an old copy of Mollie Makes or Breathe magazine, the pocket from a pair of jeans that were too old and damaged to donate to a charity shop, and some fabric glue.

I’m keeping this one for myself, but I’m sure this project could work as a handmade gift.

I was lucky enough to find the frame in a charity shop, but I’ve seen similar on Hobbycraft’s website. The paper was also at hand, but I reckon good quality wrapping paper could be used instead, (the paper needs to thick enough to not rip when being handled and to not get soggy when the glue is applied). Again, the jeans were also at my disposal but, if you don’t have an old pair at home, you could buy jeans or a denim skirt from a charity shop.

I’ve cut out the other pockets from the jeans and will use them and the remainder of the material for other projects.

Happy upcycling everyone!



Easter makes


A short post to show you something I made for Easter.

If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know I knit covers to go on empty glass coffee jars. It’s just a little upcycling/ recycling thing I do.

A while back I found some fluffly yellow wool in a local charity shop. I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for, but I bought it because there’s always a use for wool in my house!

When I began to knit with it (back in the depths of Winter) I felt it was chick-like in colour. First, I knitted a scarf with the wool (which I will give to a charity shop).


Next, I knitted a jar cover, as you can see. My mum had some Easter egg shape buttons, so I nabbed them to decorate the front and back of the jar.


I’ll fill it with totally unhealthy snacks to munch over the Easter period, (chocolate mini eggs and chocolate buttons included). Naughty, but nice!


A good cause

Two of my favourite things come together in this post; charity shops and knitting.

I have just finished one project inspired by wool bought in a charity shop, and I have another work in progress.

This chunky knit scarf has two tones, a red and a raspberry pink, (see the photos further down the post for a better representation of the red).


The red wool came from a charity shop, but only one ball was available. I started to knit it up on large needles and decided I definitely wanted to make a scarf from it, but doubted I’d be able to find a matching wool in a yarn shop.

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Well, I was right. I hunted around a few stores but couldn’t find the right shade of red, so I decided I would find a colour that complimented it, and create a kind of ombre effect. I’m pleased with the end result as the scarf provides a nice colour pop and is really snuggly.

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One of my current works in progress uses beige yarn bought in a charity shop. A whole  bag of wool was available, and so I won’t have the challenge of colour matching this time. It’s very early days but I have decided to make a wall hanging. It’s not something I’ve done before, and I haven’t got much of a plan, but I’ll work it out. I figure that some bright pom poms (my nemesis) and fringing against the plain garter stitch background might do the trick.



A few days ago I found a hamper of wool in my local Cancer Research charity shop. I don’t have much storage room, and I’ve pledged not to buy too much craft stuff this year, so I reigned myself in and bought just four balls.


I don’t know what I’ll knit with this lovely lemony-hued wool, but at such a bargain price I wasn’t going to miss the chance to make the purchase. I’m knitting all the time and so I’m sure it will be used.

So, whilst I may have fallen off the wagon yet again by buying more craft materials, I can justify my actions as it was for a good cause.

Falling off the wagon

My most recent posts have been about my desire to buy fewer things, because my house is full of ‘stuff’. This includes craft materials. I like trying projects I haven’t attempted before, which leads to the purchase of various materials. Some of these I utilise over and over, but others barely see the light of day after a few trial uses.

Well, it’s late January and I’ll get to the point and admit it; I have fallen off the wagon. The ‘no purchase’ wagon, that is. I could tell myself it’s the fault of craft programmes, encouraging me to try lots of new arts, which necessitate the purchase of a kit for each. I could point the finger of blame at retailers for having new year sales that are too good to resist. In reality, nobody is to blame but me and my lack of willpower.

In part to shame myself, and in part because I can’t wait to share my purchases, I’m going to show off my new stuff!

I couldn’t resist these wooden knitting needles, due to the cute woodland print fabric that surrounds them. Did I need more needles? Definitely not, but I can’t resist foxes, owls and deer, plus they were seriously reduced (down to half price).

New needles

I bought this pom pom making duo after I struggled to use one I’d had with a craft mag. Two days after buying the pack I sort of worked out how to use the freebie! You may be thinking, “How can anyone struggle to make a pom pom?” Well, the answer is, I have a problem with spatial awareness and I couldn’t work out how the component parts of the gadget fitted together. Not even after an hour of trying…


I’m going to take this opportunity to go off on a pom pom tangent, and ask why they are so tricky to make? When I make them, the central fastening thread is visible, which results in the pom pom appearing halved, with more of a bow shape than a nice fluffy ball. I tried shaking the finished pom poms out, but the securing yarn in the middle remained visible. I tried rolling them about, to try to round them out, (they fell to bits). Maybe I am using too much wool to fasten the halves together, which gives the pom pom a chunky mid section. I’ll have to attempt it with fewer winds of wool.

Anyway, back to my confession about buying stuff I don’t really need…

I bought five balls of wool, even though I have bags of the stuff. Two of the balls have been knitted up into a scarf (a justifiable purchase, therefore). The other three are sitting in a basket, waiting for a project to come along.

I bought these cute motifs, but at 10p each I’m not going to be too sorry!


Finally, I bought yet another roll of double sided sticky tape, because I have an irrational fear of running out of it. I get through loads of the stuff when making gift jars from coffee containers.

I could have bought so much more. My local Hobbycraft has a clearance section and the bargains there are incredible, even more so than usual at this time of year. I really had to show restraint. John Lewis haberdashery also has a sale on, with lots of items discounted or reduced to clear. I had to walk away from the temptation to buy an embroidery hoop and fabric, craft kits, little fake flowers, Christmassy fabric, the most sparkly wool I have ever seen, and a sewing box covered in the woodland fabric I mentioned above.

John Lewis also have the most incredible looking knitting needles I have ever seen, in kaleidoscopic colours. They are so beautiful I suspect my eyes turned heart shaped while I marvelled at them.

Let’s look on the bright side. I fell off the wagon, but I also showed restraint. My challenge in February will be steadfast and show more control. An obvious way to do this would be to avoid craft shops and haberdashery stores altogether, but I’m sure they call to me. They have a siren song. I can’t be the only one to hear it…

Got it? Use it!

In my last post, I wrote about my desire to stop buying so much ‘stuff’, including craft ‘stuff’. Like many people, in the post-Christmas period I feel the need to consume less, and I don’t only mean food.

Helping me keep on the straight and narrow is the 64 Million Artists’ January Challenge. As they say on their website, “Each day in January we’ll send you a short creative challenge to do. It will only take 5 or 10 minutes to complete, it’s free and any materials you need should be easy to find (a pen, paper, random junk in your recycling bin, a sense of humour, etc). The challenge might be writing a poem or drawing a picture, or it might be thinking your way around a problem or going on a mini-adventure.”

I’ve completed each of the daily challenges, so far, and I haven’t had to buy a single item. All I’ve used is my phone (to draw, play music, and take photos); a box, canned food and some recycling (to make a castle); and pen and paper.

A paper snowflake.
The challenge on Day 10 was to spend a few minutes creating something using only one sheet of A4 paper.

People are sharing their makes on Twitter via #TheJanuaryChallenge and #64MillionArtists

There’s still time to sign up for the challenge, as it’ll go on throughout January. I’m loving it, and so would encourage you to give it a go. Actually, I’m not sure what I’m going to do come February 1st!



Waste not want not

I’m a sucker for a craft project. If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that. I’ve watched a couple of the episodes of the most recent Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas series, so far, and I’ve been inspired. It’s a great programme. But, as I was watching, I noticed I was making ‘must purchase’ lists for new projects. One list was for making a Christmas diorama as featured in one episode; I was all for buying miniature Christmas trees, tiny skiers and a weeny ski lift. Another list contained items required for making hand painted tree baubles (featured in another of the episodes). Then, mid list, I had an epiphany. Why was I planning to trek round shops spending money when I have so much stuff at home already? By ‘stuff’ I mean stacks of wool, boxes of ribbons, bags of scrap fabric, a tool box full of card making stuff, masses of embroidery floss – the list goes on and on. I really don’t need to consume more. There’s enough consumerism in the world already.

As much as I want to start a million new projects, because I want to learn new skills and have different crafting adventures, I’m going to focus on projects which can utilise the stuff I have in storage.

In the lead-up to Christmas I have loved reading Louise Walker’s Scrapvent tweets. Louise took on the challenge of using scraps of wool to knit up tree decorations. I admire the no waste approach and she made beautiful decs, which you can see here.

Here’s hoping I can avoid temptation and a follow a ‘waste not want not’ path over the next few months.