Inexpensive Back Yard Slide

I needed a slide in the back yard for my son. He is seventeen, and he really needs a slide in his yard. I could take him to a playground (and I do) but sometimes there are gobs of other kids there, and their parents seem to feel a little funny about what appears to be a large grown man taking turns on the equipment with their toddlers. I get that. It makes sense for my son to have his own slide in his own yard.

IMG_20160810_185251988_HDR (1)But wow, guess what? I’m going to sound like the big cheese at an IEP meeting, but there are “financial constraints.”

There are other constraints too. Sometimes you can find someone willing to sell you the playground their kids have outgrown for a song, but the catch is that you need to disassemble it, haul it to your place, and then reassemble it yourself. I’ve assembled playgrounds, and I’ve disassembled playgrounds. In my experience, it takes about 2-3 times as long to disassemble a playground as to assemble it. That’s because there are no instructions, the metal parts have gotten rusty, the wooden parts have rotted and splintered, and the playground has sunk into the ground. You may find this to be worth your time, but it depends on your situation.

Since I wasn’t doing the whole swingset thing, I found it easier to just build a little slide.

I looked for a used plastic slide in my area, but I didn’t have any luck so I ordered one online.

I built the support for the slide out of thrifted lumber and hardware from the Habitat for Humanity store.

At my local store, people donate all kinds of building materials, some of them new and some of them used. They have a big pile of lumber out in the back and I picked through it three weeks in a row to gather the boards I needed. I used 4x4s, 2x4s, 4x6s, and 1x whatevers. The boards I bought were all sorts of lengths, and parts of them were damaged, so I did a lot of trimming. I had some screws and other hardware on hand, and the rest I bought at the Habitat store.

IMG_20160806_171322289 (1)Since my son is a teenager who knows that he shouldn’t jump off the top of the slide, I did not bother putting a rail or fence at the top. If I were building this for a younger child, I would do it differently.

I put drawer handles on the deck at the top so that my son could easily pull himself up.

I also put some solar lights at the top right near the slide part because my son is really into reflectors. I mean he is really, really, really into reflectors. He likes to play in the dark just so that he can see the lights.

Since I used thrifted lumber, this slide may not last as long as a slide built from brand new lumber. I’ll have to keep an eye on it to make sure it’s safe to use. I guess I would do that anyway though.

IMG_20160806_171238702I built a ladder right into the tower for the slide. My son doesn’t like it so much, so when I get a little free time, I’ll make him a ladder too. He’s right, it is easier to climb up when you can do it at an angle. But he’s enjoying his slide just fine in the mean time.

IMG_20160810_185251988_HDR (2).jpgI can tell he likes it by the ruts in the landing area.


A hole in my favorite jeans!

Doggone it, just when I was getting them broken in!  These are my favorites too.

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Normally by the time I’ve ripped the knees out of my jeans, I’ve ripped a lot of other stuff out too and I don’t even bother to mend them.  But I really like these jeans, so I decided a patch was in order.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a giant hole in my clothes, I like to put a giant obnoxious patch on it.  I’m glad that I can sew, and I don’t mind a patch as long as the patch is as awesome as the jeans.

I used some polyester knit scraps and an old button to make a patch and I won’t bore you with the details. The knit has a little bit of stretch, so I hope the patch will stretch at the knees instead of tearing again.

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I flipped my pants inside out and then ripped the seam of the pants near the hole – a few inches above it and a few inches below it.  I ripped out the non-topstitched seam because that’s a lot easier to sew back together when I’m done.

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I pinned my patch to the right side of my pants directly over the hole.  Then I zigzagged all the way around the patch.

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This is what it looks like from the other side.

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Then I pinned the seam that I tore out earlier, and I sewed it back up.  I used the stretch stitch on my machine.

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And here are my jeans, as good as new!  Well, now that I see the photo, I am a bit concerned about the area under the patch.  It’s looking pretty worn.  But I have some lovely grass-like green poly knit that I can use for patch number two if necessary.  I could make that little ducky a nest.

I know what else is coming.  When I made the patch, I cut out a second duck (mirror image) for when the other knee goes. I’ll give it about a week.

Thanks for stopping by!


More of those crochet basket bowls, DIY fabric yarn tutorial


I have been knocking together a few more of those baskets.  Sometimes I make them into bowls.  It’s a great way to use up my knit fabric stash, and they make nice gifts.

I found the pattern that got me started.  It’s here on Ravelry.

I make my own yarn out of knit fabric.  I don’t remember how I learned to make it, so I’ll just show you what I do.

First I dig out a piece of knit fabric.  I sometimes use funny-looking polyester knits from way back when.  This light blue is a great example of that.


Sometimes I get lucky and have a piece of fabric that’s in a tube.  Other times I sew it together.  I sewed this one.  It has a sort of basketweave patchwork pattern knit right into the fabric.  Somehow I got a little goofy about that, and I felt like I needed to match the pattern when I sewed it.  Of course the fabric was cut crooked when I got it.  I would have evened that out anyway, but I went a bit overboard with the matching because of the pattern.  That’s just me though.

Instead of a regular seam, I overlapped the fabric to sew it.  It just seemed (seamed, get it?  Get it?) smoother to me for when I crocheted later.  That’s probably not important.  It is important to use a stitch for knits, because a plain straight stitch could come unraveled when you cut through the seam.  And then your yarn comes undone, which is a pain.


Then I laid the fabric on the mat and used my 2 inch ruler to cut it into strips.  The seam I made is along the left edge.  I know it looks funny.  I turned the photo so that it was consistent with the photo above so you could figure out what I was doing.


I cut strips across the fabric, leaving about 2 or 3 inches uncut on that left edge near the seam.

Did it bother me that the pattern in the fabric was just a little under 2 inches?  No silly, of course not.  Not much.  Just a little bit.  But I got over it because I am a grownup.


Then I turned it and sort of opened it up.  This is what it looked like.  Like a monster with lots of arms. Arms that are loops.  It looked weird, but that’s normal.


Then I started cutting.  I made diagonals from the top of the strip on the right to the bottom of the strip on the left.  I did that all the way up the fabric.



See?  Like this.


It got to be a massive amount!


If I use more cottony fabrics, when I stretch the strips, they roll into that nice t-shirt yarn you see all over the place.  Not so with this polyester.  That’s OK.  It just makes bulky yarn.  I rolled it into a giant ball.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo of that.



I got out my enormous crochet hook.  I bought it at a thrift store and it doesn’t have a size on it.  It’s about as thick as one of my fingers.

And then I crocheted this bowl.  Fun, huh?

As soon as I finished the bowl, I spilled my coffee all over it.  I tossed it in the washing machine and dryer, and it came out great.  Ahhhh, polyester!


Here’s one in a very soft pink.  I used a thin cottony knit fabric like a thin t-shirt.  I cut 1 inch strips instead of the thicker ones for the blue bowl above.

Some people make their yarn without a seam even if they don’t start with a tube.  They cut the fabric differently.  I’m lazy, so I do it the lazy way.

You can use almost any kind of fabric to make yarn like this.  Knits are nice because the edges don’t come unraveled like most woven fabrics do.  If you’ve got one of those knit bed sheets and someone’s giant scraggly toenails poked a hole in it, you can cut it up and make yarn.  Wash it first, for pity’s sake!  Lots of people make yarn like this out of old t-shirts too.

Thanks for looking!

Another gift bag – much easier than it looks!


Perfect for shipping a pattern!

It was a tiny bit more work than my usual bags, which is still not much work at all.

I started out with a crib sized dust ruffle.  If I had used the hem for the top of the bag like I usually do, it would have been upside down.  So I had to roll a little hem.  SIGH, so much work, work, work.  It took about 4 minutes to hem 10 bags.  I did the hem before I cut the bags apart.  🙂

I also had to cut off a row of wide white rick rack at the bottom of the bag, which made me a little bit sad.  But the dust ruffle had been washed and dried, and the rick rack had shrunk and it just wasn’t adorbs anymore, so it had to go.  Okay, okay, it also looked like a dog or cat had chewed on part of it, so it really had to go.

I love that I was able to make a bunch of people smile with something that could have ended in the trash!

Here are a couple more recent gift bags:



Sorry I haven’t posted.  I’ve been busy, which I know is no real excuse, but there it is.

My mom came to visit, which was awesome.  When we were driving her from the airport to our house, we had a tire blow out on a big huge bridge.  We managed to pull over safely and conveniently at Sonic.  Nobody screamed or cussed out loud.  Except for maybe the tow guy who changed our tire for us, but if he screamed and/or cussed out loud, it was after he left and we didn’t hear him.  He might have screamed and/or cussed out loud because we had a toilet there on the curb at Sonic.  I took the toilet out of the back of the van to get out the spare.  Then I realized the spare was not in back – that was our old van.  So I just looked like an idiot with a toilet sitting on the curb at Sonic.  Nobody tried to use the toilet, so I’ll count the whole event as a big, huge win.  Why did I tell you all of this?

More freestyle amigurumi – Lucky, our pet muscovy duck

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Shhh!  Christmas present for my hubby!  He says he doesn’t want anything for Christmas.  I’ll bet he changes his mind when he sees this.  His office is very professional and professor-y, which is nice I suppose.  But maybe just a little bit, he needs to lighten up and make it cozy!

I used a bulky black scrap to make the body, then switched to a scrap of some kind of zigzaggy lightweight yarn for the neck and head.  Then another scrap of red for the caruncles around his eyes, and a little bit of gold for his feet and bill.  I used the same black and white for the wings and sewed it all together.  I didn’t use a pattern.  I just winged it.  Get it, get it??   Her-her-her.

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Freestyle crochet amigurumi owl – “interesting” update below


No pattern this time.  Just using up some extra yarn!

My youngest came home from school feeling miserable.  I’m afraid he’s sick.  No more blogging just now – my mothering skills are needed!


UPDATE all is well.  Sort of well.  My son is fine.  OK here’s the weird part.  He was feeling terrible, terrible, terrible, so we drove him over to the urgent care clinic.  There was about a 1-1/2 hour wait, which was not so bad, so we checked him in and then went to wait in the van.  After about an hour, he needed to use the bathroom, so we started walking towards the clinic.  All of a sudden, he collapsed in the parking lot, but don’t worry.  He crouched to the ground and I was afraid he might pass out.  But he thrashed around for a minute or so and then got sick to his stomach, and then he felt a lot better.  Sorry, I know this is kind of gross, but there was cheese and maybe some chicken and corn or something.  Weird part’s still coming.

Next it was his turn and the doctor checked him out and gave him an antibiotic for a sinus infection.  No flu!  Just a sinus infection and then the nausea from the accumulation…never mind.  I don’t want to be gross here.  The weird part is next.

I fessed up to his horking in the parking lot because I thought they might have some sort of procedure involving a bucket, some disinfectant, maybe some of those little rubber gloves they wear, something.  But the doc said not to worry about it because they have a lot of raccoons at night.  “They’ll clean that right up.”

Remember, there is no food so bad that a raccoon won’t eat it!

Magic Circle, where have you been all my life???


I’ve been crocheting practically all my life, but I don’t remember patterns like this when I was young.  I got it from Planet June, which is the cutest place on the internet.

When I was a kid, I made some granny squares, but I hated them.  Of course all those loose ends drove me bananas, but most especially the chain ring in the middle frustrated me to no end.  I always made it either so loose it looked ridiculous or so tight I couldn’t use it and there was just no “just right.”  Even if it looked just right, I knew it was not (knot, ha ha) and I couldn’t stand it.

Just who invented this magic ring, and why is this the first I’ve ever heard of it?

The yarn I used for this little guy is from some secondhand yarn that I bought.  Lots of times when I go thrifting for yarn, I end up with 3 balls of nice yarn, and then 1-1/2 cuffs and 6 inches of a scarf.  Sometimes I use the yarn and sometimes I sell it, but I never know what to do with those little worked bits.  Glad I saved them, because now I know!  I see quite a few of these little guys in my future…

I did notice that all of June’s guys have adorable pointy little noses, and everybody else’s guys on Ravelry using the same pattern also have cute little noses.  I must have messed up somewhere, but I like him anyway.  I didn’t put any eyes on him because my eldest is scared of eyes (because they have “ert things.”)  It’s nice to be able to make your own toys when you have issues like this!

I have a love/hate relationship with eyelash yarn.  I love the fuzz, but I can’t see what I am doing and I get frustrated with the fuzz too.  I used some black eyelash yarn with a little bit of white running through the center, and I think that helps a bit.  I’ve got a little more in my shop too, and I’ll definitely keep my eye out for more.

Project idea: owl cash register paper roll notepad


Here’s a treasure I found at a rummage sale this summer.  It’s probably from the 1970s.  Orange owls were so very…well probably not groovy, maybe the 70s verion of groovy.  Cool?  Maybe.  No, I think they said “groovy” on The Brady Bunch.  But were they square when they said that?  Hmm.

I’ve had this hanging on the inside door of my kitchen cupboard and I really like it.  I can keep a running grocery list there until I’m ready to go to the store.  Then I tear off the list and leave it on the counter when I go to the store.  🙂

But it does seem a shame to cover that cute little owl with a big old roll of paper.  Here’s what it looks like when the roll is full:


I’ve already got this and I don’t need another, but I’m putting these photos up here for anyone interested in making one of their own.  It’s just so cool, and it could be made of mostly scraps and recycled materials.


The bar to hold the paper roll looks an awful lot like a belt buckle with a couple of snips.  It’s held in place with two brass fasteners that poke through a couple of holes in the wood.

This little guy was probably made in a factory, and the cutter looks like it was made by the zillion for little owl note thingies.  But you could make your own out of the steel cutter from a box of foil or freezer paper.  I think the bends at the ends are key so that it lifts off the base a tiny bit.  I think it’s also important that it’s about 1/4 inch above the bottom of the base.  I haven’t cut myself yet, and I am very clumsy.  So it’s surprisingly safe this way, at least for grownups.

I’ve seen other ideas to make your own that are cute too, like using ribbon or  shoe string to hold the paper roll.

I keep trying to imagine how to make something this cute and practical without covering the owl.  I thought maybe putting the roll hanger where the cutter is, like a perch, and then have the roll hanging down from that with a cutter below that.  But then it would be impractically large, plus it would look like the owl is pooping all over the grocery list.  The kids would be drawing inappropriate mysterious chunks on the list and maybe that would be kind of fun for them, but I need to start thinking like a grown-up.  So maybe just a tiny owl or other decoration with a more plain backing, maybe with decorations around the edge.

Idea: A bride, and the list is her train…with chores written on it…to keep track of wedding planning stuff.  Oo, oo!  Somebody make this and show me how it turns out!

More Freestyle Needle Felting


I finished up our teamwork Porky project yesterday.  I grabbed a stick from the yard and snapped it to the right length.  I cut the wool into a rectangle shape with tabs at the top, then hand stitched the flaps over the stick.  I had to finish it myself because my daughter was off doing something else.

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She got all independent on me.  She printed out this photo of Lucky for inspiration…


…and just look at what she made!  She even made little orange feet and black speckles on his head.  His caruncle looks nice and lumpy too.  I’m so proud!

I’m afraid we have found a new hobby.  🙂   🙂   :0)

Unfortunately, it seems to be the sort of hobby where we collect all sorts of little bits of things and save scraps of all kinds because they might become useful someday.  We both already have major packrat tendencies.  Does anyone have any ideas for how to organize/control ourselves?  I really am serious here!