Friday, 23 October 2009

Snoods R Us

This is a tale of recycling to make us all feel good about ourselves again, after stamping all over the Planet with our big carbonised feet.

Recently, my rogue washing machine ate my favourite fleece jumper. It got caught between the spinny thing and the non-spinny thing and melted through friction. I could have thrown it away but hey, I've got a Secret Laboratory...

Salvaging the unchewed bits from the fleece, I began to wonder what I might make of them. A snood! What else? Great for keeping my neck warm whilst cycling, now the winter is upon us.

Historical note: traditionally the term snood refers to a kind of bag worn on the head with the express purpose of containing hair. More recently, snood describes a tube of fabric worn around the neck and which can be be pulled up around the lower part of the face. It does the job of a scarf but you don't have to agonise over what kind of knot is in fashion this year - it's just a tube.

Obviously some stitching would be involved and therein was the first challenge. Broadly speaking, the head is wider than the neck and so any hem stitch would need to be stretchy just to get the thing on. I know we're all on a spectrum here. If anyone can get away with a straight stitch, all I can say is try banging the rocks together guys - see what happens in the next million years.

My ancient Singer can't do fancy stitching like that, so I engaged the services of Agent A and her fabulous Bernina. In no time at all, she had the stretchy hemming sorted out with a special zig-zag stitch pattern:

I installed elastic in the bottom hem and a draw-string in the top:

Hey presto - snood!

And sooner may a gulling weather Spie
By drawing forth heavens Scheme tell certainly
What fashioned hats, or ruffes, or suits next yeare
Our subtile-witted antique youths will weare...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Revitalising shoe polish

You know how it is with tins of shoe polish. We don't polish shoes as obsessively as we did in the old days, so, invariably, when you open up that tin that's been at the back of a cupboard for 10 years the contents have gone all dry and lumpy. Sometimes you chase a lump around the tin for ages, failing to get any on your rag. Sometimes you manage to get the whole lump on the rag - too much even for a regiment. Sometimes the lump escapes and goes on a wild tour, making your home look like the lodger's been on dirty protest. Familiar scenario? Here's the solution:

Place your tins of polish in a pan with about half an inch of water just to cover the bottom. Bring this to the lowest simmer you possibly can for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

When cool, open up your tins to find the polish looking as good as the day you bought it!

Another work of absolute genius from The Secret Laboratory...

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Wonky Trigger Fish

It was supposed to be a Trigger Fish for my girlfriend but it went a bit wrong. That's the trouble with home-made lavender bags - you never know what you're gonna git. Ah, the things we do for love...