DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and cutting board

Crochet Enhances a DIY Laptop Stand

Eco-Craft: Making a Laptop Stand from Household Materials

If you follow my blog you know that in addition to crochet I am passionate about the environment. So whenever I feel like I need something new, I often look for environmentally friendly options first. Can I make it? Can I pick one up secondhand? Can I buy a handmade option vs plastic junk? Sometimes there are no great options and I end up having to order online from a big box store, but when I can, I do try to come up with an alternative.

DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and cutting board
DIY laptop stand made with mason jars, cutting board and crochet!

With COVID shelter-at-home orders in place, my work transitioned us all to work remotely. I’ve been working at home for over five weeks now. I really do like it although I am missing my work station. In my office I have a variable height desk and two massive monitors. It’s been an adjustment working on just a laptop, but one that has been surprisingly easy. After a week I realized I needed to raise my laptop to eye level. Too much looking down was bad for my neck. I found a box that was the right height and used that for a couple weeks. But I got sick of looking at that ugly brown box. Stuck at home without access to thrift stores had me initially looking online for a laptop stand. Once I saw how basic and how expensive it was for plastic junk, the DIY in me knew there had to be a better, Earth-friendly option.

Like most projects, I thought about this one for a few days trying to figure out the best way to make the project work. I decided on using four mason jars and an old cutting board. The jars were saved from store-bought salsa. The cutting board was one that I have been meaning to replace. It was old and had started to split as ***someone*** ran it through the dishwasher a few times. Split cutting boards are not good to use as bacteria can get in the cracks. I knew it was important for the jars to have some weight to them to add stability to the laptop stand. I had enough sand for two jars. The third is filled with blue sea glass purchased at least 15 years ago. The last is filled with shells collected from one of our beach trips. The two sand jars were a little plain looking so I added a display of some of the nicest shells in one. The second I decorated with a crocheted motif using stash yarn. This was inspired by my Zinnia Votive pattern. I used the motif from the pattern and secured it with a crocheted band around the back. The cotton and linen yarn (CotLin by KnitPicks) in Raindrop, looks great, is the perfect dusty blue, and contrasts nicely with the white sand. The jars were secured to the cutting board with hot glue. Now when I’m working on my computer, not only is my neck happier, but I am surrounded by crochet and memories of good times with my family at the beach. All for zero dollars and zero impact on the Earth.

DIY laptop stand enhanced with crochet
Crochet used to decorate a mason jar in a DIY laptop stand.
DIY laptop stand with seaglass
DIY laptop stand with sand and shells in a mason jar
Sea shells my family collected on one of our beach trips!

And an added bonus is the space under the laptop. Underneath the stand I placed a basket. Now my computer glasses, cleaning cloth, and lip balm are close at hand but out of the way.

DIY laptop stand made with mason jars and old cutting board decorated with crochet
Ta-Da! an awesome laptop stand!

I purchased a new cutting board to replace the one used in the project. I did have to go online to a big box store but at least it is made from bamboo-an environmentally friendly material.

My office/guest room is the latest room painted in my quest to repaint my whole house. I first blogged about it here and my last post was about the first thing I added to the freshly painted walls in this room. I’ve got a couple more crochet themed projects planned for the office/guest room, if I can ever get to a thrift store for supplies!

You can easily make one yourself. If you can’t find a old cutting board, a book, mirror, or any other solid, flat board will work. Just be sure to add some weight in the supports as you don’t want the stand to be top-heavy. If you are using glass jars, you can fill them with decorative stones, loose change or marbles. Your neck will thank you. 🙂
Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

crocheted container for plastic cutlery

vintage crocheted doilies transformed into beautiful wall art

Grandma’s Crocheted Doilies

Turning Grandma’s vintage crocheted doilies into wall art.

vintage crocheted doilies transformed into beautiful wall art

I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother and uncle. My parents, brother, sister and I would drive from Long Island to Columbus, Ohio just about every Christmas break. Grandma always had an assortment of delicious homemade cookies ready for us when we arrived and the holiday meal always came with fruit suspended in green jello. My uncle would take us to the A&W for a root beer float and we would play ping pong in the basement and canasta in the living room. My brother usually won the ping pong and canasta games. He was always good at all types of games. I remember my grandmother teaching my sister how to sew and her showing me how to make french knots. I also remember all the doilies. My grandmother had them all over the house. She had many Dresden dolls (I always called them “Lacy Ladies”), Hummel figurines, and other collectibles. Each was placed upon a doily. These doilies are some of my earliest memories of crochet. Although I’m sure I didn’t realize how they were made, I remember I always loved the beautiful lace and symmetry of them.

Grandma’s vintage doilies

My grandmother passed away in 2003 (98 yrs old!). My uncle continued to live in the family home until he passed in 2008. And when he passed it was time to clear out the house. In doing so, we all brought home items that were special to us. One of the items I kept was a collection of doilies. Ever since I have been wanting to do something with them but not sure what. My home isn’t the doily and figurine type so I knew it would have to be a project. Eventually I figured out I would frame the doilies and display them as art.

Not only is this project special because it is a reminder of the good times with my grandmother and uncle but it is also a reminder of my brother. When I graduated from college (1991) he let me live with him for three months while I completed a management training program. I’m sure that wasn’t the most exciting thing for him, having his little sister crashing in his new duplex, but we made it work. And it was a huge help to me as I didn’t know where I would be transferred to once I completed the training program and therefore did not want to commit to a lease. While I was living with him, I started collecting items for my future apartment in the corner of the room where I slept. The pile grew as I often stopped by yard sales on the weekends. One of my purchases was a framed print. I moved that print to my first apartment in Elmira and to many other apartments after that. Eventually the print faded but I always kept it because I loved the wood frame. This is the frame I used in the project. Seeing it reminds me of my brother and his generosity to open his home to me. It is a reminder of how important family is and of how we need to make time for each other. My brother passed away in July, 2019. He was only 57.

The print, now faded, purchased at a yard sale while I lived with my brother.

So, how did I make it? First I cleaned up the glass and revived the wood frame with Old English wood polish. I spent about a week trying to figure out how I would make the background. My original thought was to purchase a solid framing mat but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the local framing store was closed and my shopping options were very limited. I looked at poster board online and even thought about painting cardboard for the background. Then, on my essential once-a-week-outing of shopping for food and supplies at Walmart, I took a quick look in the craft section and found a pre-cut section of beautiful blue knit fabric for $2!! It was perfect. I selected nine doilies from the collection to be displayed. Seven are crocheted, one is knit and one I believe is tatted. The doilies were steamed flat, placed in position, and voila!, beautiful crocheted wall art.

Beautiful vintage crocheted doilies turned into wall art
Beautiful wall art made with vintage crocheted doilies.

I didn’t start crocheting until a year or two after my grandmother passed. It saddens me that I didn’t get to share this craft with her. My grandmother was extremely talented in crafts and could sew just about anything. Years ago I had asked my uncle if Grandma crocheted and he could only remember her making an afghan. My father doesn’t remember either. So I’m not sure if my grandmother made the doilies or if they were given to her by friends or other family members. But I do know they are beautiful and bring comfort of warm family memories when I look at them. The total cost of this project was less than $6 (fabric, hanging hardware and poster board to seal the back), but to me, it is priceless. It is a beautiful reminder of childhood memories and of family who are no longer with us.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

Moxie shawl crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Eco-Craft update, dryer balls

Homemade Dryer Ball Update

I originally posted about my homemade dryer balls in March and I’ve been using them ever since.  At first I wasn’t sure if they worked but now I am sold on them.  Almost always my items are dry when the dryer beeps.  I rarely need to add time and run a standard load in the dryer longer.  This wasn’t the case before I started using them.  I’ve also used less dryer sheets.  I still use them, but I’m definitely using less.  Static is not bad either but that is hard to gauge because I’ve been using them during the warmer months where the heat hasn’t been on much.  The true static test will be in December and January.  But, less time in the dryer results in less static so I’m anticipating less static this winter.

A couple months ago I made two more dryer balls out of t-shirt scraps wrapped in wool.  And I lost one of the original balls somewhere in the house.  I’m sure it will turn up eventually.

Because we do a ton of laundry, my dryer balls have taken a beating.  One in particular unraveled a good bit today so it is time to fix them.  As you can see, they have been well used.dryer balls

Four of the six balls needed fixing.  I wrapped the unraveling one up with some wool scraps and finished it and the others with 100% wool yarn wrapped really tight.  I tried to work the ends in a little better as a few came loose with the initial batch.  Then I washed them with a couple of loads of towels set to hot.  This time I did not place them in a lingerie bag.  They seemed to felt better and we are ready to do some more laundry!

homemade dryer balls with wool and yarn scraps

 

Hello-Fall-crochet-by-Darleen-Hopkins

Eco-Craft, Yarn Balls aka. Dryer Balls

How to make dryer balls for zero dollars!

I’ve been intrigued by dryer balls for awhile now.  Every once in awhile I’ll see a post about them and think to myself-I wonder if they work? I have no interest in purchasing plastic or rubber ones or using tennis balls in my dryer.  I can’t help but wonder if those types of dryer balls release toxins of some sort when exposed to heat.  My interest is to improve my laundry, naturally.  I would like to use less dryer sheets, not replace sheets with potentially more or different chemicals.  So I finally decided to give dryer balls a try when I came across some wool yarn and felted wool scraps in my stash.  I’m on a quest to reduce my stash. I thought this would be a good way to use up some of it and finally find out if 100% wool dryer balls actually work.  The yarn and felted sweater scraps are leftover from previous projects.  Therefore, my cost is $0.

Step 1: Gather up 100% wool scraps and 100% wool yarn.

yarnballs1

Felted wool scraps from various projects, felted wool “yarn” cut from a damaged wool sweater, and some random 100% yarn wool.

Step 2: Smush the scraps into a ball and then wrap with yarn.  Add more scraps and wrap with more yarn.  Repeat until the ball is the size you want.

yarnballs2

Step 3: Secure yarn.

yarnballs3

Step 4: Repeat until you have as many as you want or you run out of scraps.  I didn’t time myself but I think it took me about an hour to make all of these.

yarnballs4

Step 5: Felt them.  I placed them in a lingerie bag and washed them with my regular laundry for a couple of  loads.  Once they were felted enough where I didn’t think they would unravel, I took them out of the lingerie bag and washed them with the regular laundry for a couple more loads.  Last, I trimmed the few ends that came undone.

So DO THEY WORK?

I’ve heard claims that they save energy, reduce static, reduce dryer time, reduce wrinkles and make clothes softer.   If they did all of these, I would be ecstatic.  If they did one or two, I’d be happy.  I’ve been using them for over a month now and I’m pretty happy.  My clothes seem to be dry when the cycle is complete.  Before dryer balls, I often had to add time to the dryer because the clothes were still damp.  More time in the dryer will result in more static.  And, while I still have to use dryer sheets, I’m using one per load rather than two.  Yup, I’ve had to use two for awhile now.  My boys wear a lot of athletic, moisture wicking type clothing made out of synthetic materials.  These items tend to pick up static when in the dryer.  However, less time in the dryer = less static.  So, overall, I’m happy with the results.

I have a few more scraps so I may make one or two more.   If you have the materials, give it a try and let me know what you think.

PatchworkKitty-001

 

Eco-Craft, an up-cycled tea cozy.

I love herbal teas and I love to drink tea while at work.  It helps to keep me warm as my office building is really cold.  Add to that I’m usually cold when others are not and that my job is sedentary and you get a very cold me.  I have a space heater, an extra sweater and a throw blanket in my office.   I just recently purchased an electric tea kettle and I love it.   However, I found that I had to keep reheating the water for my second and third cups of tea.  So the crafty in me kicked in and I decided it was time to make a tea cozy.

I got up early Saturday morning and while having a cup of coffee with my husband, we heard a bang and the power went out.  Great.  No power = no water = no shower. Thankfully he was already ready for work so he left.  Without power I had nothing to do.  There was enough daylight coming in so I decided I’d start working on the tea cozy. Rummaging through a box of pre-felted wool sweaters saved for a throw rug I hope to eventually make, I found this really cute striped sweater.  cozy-sweater-1

I pinned the sweater together and cut around the arms and neck.  I forgot to take a photo of this step so I drew on the cut lines, below.   If you are making one, you would want to make sure you have everything pinned together first and make sure your cuts are as even as possible.

cozy-sweater-3.jpg

The cozy was looking like it was going to be too tall so I trimmed off the bottom ribbing.  The sweater was originally a cardigan so I opened it and traced the shape onto eco-fi felt to use as a liner.  This felt is very cool as it is made out of 100% recycled bottles!cozy-sweater-2

At this point the electric company showed up and determined the cause of our problem was a poor squirrel.  The little guy got on the transformer thingy and was electrocuted.  😦 They trimmed back the tree limbs that were too close to the pole and replaced the damaged part and our electric was back on in a jiffy.  Thanks guys!!!  FYI-save the squirrels and keep your tree limbs well trimmed near power poles.  I know I will from now on.

With the power back I was able to steam the sweater and the felt so they were nice and smooth.  I trimmed the edges of the both the sweater and the eco-fi felt so they were even then trimmed the liner so it was just a little bit smaller than the sweater.  The next step was to sew the two end pieces together and across the top.

Next I turned the sweater inside out and sewed the opening closed and across the top.  Then turned it right side out.  This step probably would have been a lot quicker if I used a sewing machine.  My sewing machine and I don’t always get along so I decided to hand sew it.

cozy-sweater-4Next, the liner was inserted into the sweater and sewn together along the bottom seam.  I decided to sew the ribbing over bottom edge of the cozy to add some stability.  Last, some random buttons where sewn where the cardigan button holes were and a little tab was added to the top.  Success! An adorable tea cozy made of recycled and re-purposed materials!  If I had thought ahead, I would have added the trim, tab and buttons before sewing together and before adding the liner.  This may have saved some time.  But I was making it up as I went along and it worked out fine.  The end result would have been the same.  It was a fun project for a lazy Saturday.  I tested it out with my stove top kettle and it works great! I can’t wait to use it at work.

cozy-sweater-5Happy crafting!!

#familyfun tic-tac-toe game board crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Pattern Testing for Hope

Thank You Amazing Pattern Testers!

Whenever I’m ready to release a new pattern, I always tech edit and pattern test it.  There’s a great group on Ravelry where individuals volunteer to test patterns, for free.  They work through it and let me know if anything is confusing and could be worded better.  Or if stitch counts are wrong, if I missed a “ch 1 and turn” or even typos.  I usually ask my testers to list final yarn usage so I know if my amounts listed are accurate.  It’s a great group and everyone wins.  The testers get a lot of free patterns and the designers get a lot of free help from the very people who use the patterns.

When I was ready to test my Kissy! Kissy! Fish Face Hat, I tried something different.  With the help and blessing of the group’s moderator, Chris, I made an unusual request of the test that the tested hat be crocheted in chemo friendly yarn and then mailed to me to be donated to Halos of Hope for their Under the Sea Campaign for Atlanta area hospitals.  I wasn’t sure what to expect-postage is expensive and a lot of people don’t have the extra $$ for postage, but boy did this great group of ladies step up to the challenge.  I had 16 volunteers in a short period of time.  From the 16, I received 26 hats for donation!   What a great, giving group!

Kissy Fish Crochet Pattern by Darleen HopkinsCrochet Pattern Kissy Fish by Darleen HopkinsKissy Kissy Fish Face Crochet Pattern by Darleen HopkinsFish Hat crochet pattern by Darleen HopkinsHats for Halos of Hope

Check out these amazing fish!  I included the 3 that I’ve made so far.  I’ve got a couple more fishy hats I plan to finish up this week (Stash Busting for Hope!).  Once they are done, I’ll be packing up all 31 hats to send to those brave young fighters.

Find out more about Halo’s Under the Sea Campaign.  It’s not too late to make a hat and get it in the mail to them.  I’m offering a 50% off coupon on my Ravelry site for the Kissy! Kissy! Fish Face Hat pattern.  Use coupon code “HOHFishFace” to save $2.25 on the pattern, then, apply the savings to your postage.  You’ll be so glad you did. : )

Coupon code expires 3/15/2013 midnight EST

Enjoy!

Buy 2 Get 1 Free on Ravelry, Crochet by Darleen Hopkins