I’ve mentioned before that I am trying to use up my much too large yarn collection. While I’m not near the end of it yet, I had noticed I was getting more and more partial skeins and bits and pieces. I also had a collection of swatches, unsuccessful design WIPS and projects that were abandoned when I realized I didn’t have enough yarn to finish. So I took some time this weekend to work on my scrap yarn stash. I pulled out all the scraps, partial WIPS, design fails and swatches of yarn that had been discontinued. Everything was frogged and balled up. I’ve been inspired by Grace’s Bits and Bobs Mother Bears so I put all the tiny scraps in one bin and the even tinier ones in another. I’ll need to make a magic ball with them at a later date. It was like going down memory lane frogging some of those items. Some dated back to my very first published design, theI Do Blanket, where I was working out different ways to attach the rings.
I’m excited to have this section organized. When a yarn is discontinued, I won’t use it for a new design. The discontinued yarn is what I use when I make Mother Bears or other small items for personal use. Having them all together and ready to use will make it a lot easier when I’m ready to start a new project. I haven’t yet dived into the partial skeins, unsuccessful design WIPS, abandoned projects or swatches of current yarn, but I’ll get to it. For now, they are in the appropriate stash box with full skeins of the same yarn.
I belong to a few groups on Ravelry. I love how groups have themes and I love when someone in the group starts a thread with a theme. In honor of Earth Day, one of the groups started a thread called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and I was super excited to see what others would post. I wasn’t disappointed when KristyRecycles posted about three hot pads she made out of tarn (T-shirt yarn = tarn). While I have seen a lot of projects made with recycled t-shirts, I was really touched by her motivation for the project.
After my Grandma past away (a few years ago), my aunts, mom, and I were going through her things. Any t-shirts that didn’t have a side seam I took home and made tarn out of. When not working on it, I kept it in a sealed bag so that her smell stayed on it. I made these hot pads from one of the shirts, and gave them to my mom and 2 of my aunts for Christmas.
I asked Kristy if she would like to interviewed for my blog and she graciously said yes. Please read about this eco-concious crafter.
How long have you been crocheting and/or knitting?
I have been crocheting for 33 years, knitting for 17 years, and weaving for 24 years.
Was your grandmother a crafter?
My grandma was a quilter and a sewer. I own a couple of quilts that my great-grandma pieced from my mom and her siblings’ clothing, and my grandma quilted. My grandma sadly had to stop sewing when her arthritis got to bad. When she passed away, the family agreed that I could keep her mother’s singer sewing machine, because I am the only quilter in the family (blood relative that is…and it’s a very large family). One of my childhood memories is of her letting me raid her fabric stash, which I made some Barbie clothes and clothes for myself from.
What was your inspiration to make the hot pads from your grandmother’s t-shirts?
The day after her funeral, my mom, some of my aunts, and I went to her trailer and were going through her bedroom. We were sorting items to be given to different family members, to be donated, and things to be thrown away. There was a shirt that didn’t have any side seams, which is perfect for making tarn (t-shirt yarn) from. I asked if I could have it, which got a few surprised looks from my aunts (because who asks to keep a brown t-shirt). When I told them that I planned on making something from it, then they put aside all of her t-shirts for me to pick through before adding them to the donation box. Sadly I think that that was the only non-seamed shirt in the bunch.
Do you use the hot pads or gift them?
I was only able to get 3 hot pads out of the tarn that I had made, so I was only able to gift them to my mom and 2 of my aunts. My mom is one of 8 surviving siblings, so I had some unhappy family members that Christmas.
How else have you incorporated Reduce, Reuse, Recycle into your crochet or knitting?
For Reduce, I try to only buy yarn and craft supplies as I need it and not buying it just because. The exception to this is souvenir yarn, but I do have a go-to pattern for that yarn (and I usually make it soon after the purchase).
For Reuse: I do a lot more sewing projects under the Reuse heading, but I think that my use of scraps might fit in this group. Not only do I save all of my “too small to use” scraps of yarn, but my friends and crochet students save theirs for me as well. On a weekly to monthly basis I use them as stitch holders. Around Christmas I put them into clear ornaments and give them to friends and family. During the off season, I like to add them to shadow boxes to make fun pieces of art for my home.
After Christmas I like to crochet around my Christmas cards and turn them into ornaments. It’s a great way to have the card and to see them (and the sweet words written in them) every year. I use the inside of the card as the back of the ornament.
One trick that I learned from some knitters at the yarn shop that I use to work at (and which I have passed on to a lot of other people) is to reuse the plastic bread tags to wrap up my yarn tails so that they stay out of the way. This prevents me from accidentally working with the tail instead of the ball of yarn. I make a lot of amigurumi which require me to start with a long tail to use when the section is finished (for sewing with).
I’ve used found sticks for weavings and for coiling string and embroidery floss around. I have also used cardboard food boxes to create the cards used in card weaving, and shuttles for weaving with. Once I even made a weaving shed out of a coral box.
For Recycle: For a while recycling was a big part of my crafting world. I even had a local t.v. show based on it. I use recycled materials in all sorts of crafts. For knitting and crochet I mainly focus on making and using plarn (plastic bag yarn) and tarn, plastic bottle caps, metal jar lids, plastic bottles, pull tabs, plastic bottle rings, corks, and toilet paper tubes. I have knit and crochet plarn bags, a hat, and an amigurumi jellyfish. I really like spinning with it, especially plying novelty yarn that I no longer care for with it, because the crochet bags from it look really cool. Since moving to California I haven’t made any plarn, because plastic bags are hard to come by here. With tarn (t-shirt yarn) I have crochet bags, a walker bag, hot pads, and a rug. With the pull tabs I have crochet bracelets, purses (one used over 800 tabs), earrings, flowers, and garland. With plastic bottles, I have crochet drawstring bags where the top is crochet and the bottom is the bottle. I have also made a tool caddy out of several 16 oz soda bottles. With the plastic bottle rings (that are just under the bottle cap), I crochet around them to create mini wreath ornaments and brooches. Those rings and the pull tabs also make great ways to hang the wreaths that I have made. I have knitted little hats and outfits to put on the wine corks so that they look like little people. My husband and I don’t drink, but I have a large collection of corks because of friends and family. Right now I actually keep them and the pull tabs in shadow boxes so that they can serve as a fun decorations until I get around to crafting with them. Last but not least are the plastic bottle caps and metal jar lids. I don’t actually knit or crochet with them, instead I make pincushions out of them which I used daily. The caps and lids are the base of the pincushions. I sew felt around them, and have the stuffing (inside of felt) on top of them. The jar lid ones I use for my sewing pins, and the bottle cap ones I use for my yarn needles. The bottle cap pincushion that looks like a mushroom is the one that is in my yarn tool kit that goes in my current project bag. I like to make hat ornaments with the toilet paper tubes. They aren’t knitted or crochet, but they do use yarn and make great gifts for my yarn friends.
How else have you memorialized someone with your crochet, knitting or other crafts?
A friend had asked me to use her grandmother’s nightgowns to make pillows for her and her family members as well as 2 little purses for her daughters.
I’ve used the buttons off of my grandpa’s shirt to use as eyes on a sock plushie for my youngest son.
When my grandma passed away, I got back most of the things that I had made for her (crochet and sewn). In a way that is a memory in and of itself. Every time I see them I think of her.
In college we learned how to make paper. I embedded some childhood family pictures in the paper. You could still see the image.
I have a box of t-shirts that contain their own memories that I plan on turning into a quilt.
A few years ago I started knitting a California King sized afghan. It’s one of my movie watching projects. Each colored stripe is a whole skein of yarn. It is actually inspired by a crochet afghan that I remember my mom making for years when I was a kid. She would crochet the length of the blanket until she ran out of yarn, and then she would start with another color. It became this warm colorfully striped afghan on my parents’ bed. She still makes versions of this on a wooden knitting board. She doesn’t really care about if the colors match or even if the yarn weight is the same, its about the process for her (about relaxing). I can’t be random like her, but this afghan is an ode to her.
Once I did an exquisite corpse drawing of my grandma with family members. I’ve drawn and painted lots of pictures of friends, family, and myself over the years.
I still think of a college friend every time I look at some small woven bags that I made in college, because I used her waste yarn (cut from the warp) from a hand dyed floor loom project that she did. I used my tiny table loom to weave the scraps with.
I have also dedicated several bears for the Mother Bear Project to family and friends. The one most like the person is my Swiss Bear, which is named after my dad. Once he saw the picture of the bear with his forever friend, he asked me to make him an identical one for his birthday.
What is your environmentally favorite crafting item (crochet/knit/other)?
My favorite one to craft with are pull tabs. I love it when people don’t realize until closer inspection that that’s what the metal part is. But the 2 things that I use the most when crafting are bread tags and my bottle cap pincushion. They are a staple in my yarn tool bag.
What else have you made with tarn?
Here is a link to the tarn items on my project page. There aren’t too many things, because shirts that work the best, and that you don’t mind cutting up, are not usually easy to come by. I have made a large market bag (my favorite one to use), hotpads, a walker bag, and a rug. Surprisingly the tarn rug is not very absorbent. I do plan on making a dog toy out of tarn in the future.
Any tips or tricks when working with tarn?
When making tarn (t-shirt yarn), look for a shirt that does not have a side seam (see the first 3 images). Also when it is time to cut the inch of the un-cut t-shirt so that you have a continuous piece of yarn, I like to lay that part on my leg so that the cut lines are very clear (See images 6 & 7). A suggestion when making the tarn is to make it outside while wearing clothes that you don’t mind changing out of afterwards. This is because little bits of the t-shirt (like fuzz) go all over the place, especially when stretching the tarn and winding it into a yarn cake.
Thank you Kristy!! Kristy is VERY EXPERIENCED in the world of eco-crafting. She sold her eco-crafts at different craft fairs for years, had an environmental local tv show for a few years, ran her town’s Earth Fair for 5 years and several years ago was the runner up in an environmental contest run by TerraCycle!
I’m still, slowly, working on my stash. I had a lofty goal of reducing my boxes of crochet from 12 to 6 by the end of 2018. It is the end of 2018 and I now have…drum roll please…9 boxes. While I didn’t make it to 6 boxes, the 9 boxes aren’t quite as stuffed as they once were. Not what I had hoped but a little progress. In 2018 I only purchased two skeins of yarn. This was to make a hat for my brother. And I received some yarn support for two designs that will published in 2019 by third parties. So overall, my yarn stash did decrease, just not as much as I had intended. Once again, the second half of 2018 was busy and I just did not get to crochet near as much as I had planned. Here is what I did complete in the last 6 months of 2018-
#AwkwardFamilyPhoto Halloween pumpkins with crocheted eyes
Ghost Pumpkins with crocheted eyes.
Harvest Corn Pillows
Christmas Tree Pillows
Mother Bears for donation
A potholder gift
An ear warmer headband for me.
And last, but not least, 3 more octos for donation to local NICU.
I’ll be back at stash busting in 2019. However, I think I’ll make my 2019 goal a little easier to measure. I plan to set a goal by weight rather than volume.
Happy New Year to you all. May 2019 be filled with lots of happiness and lots of crochet.
This Halloween, Decorate Your Pumpkins with Crochet!
It is almost that time of year. My favorite holiday, Halloween. I love the silliness of the holiday, the tackiness of the decorations and of course, the candy. I love seeing children using their imaginations and turning into a character for the afternoon. I love trick-or-treating, haunted houses and spooky snacks. And I love carving pumpkins and making jack-o-lanterns. But pumpkin carving is messy. Sometimes we don’t want to make a mess. So here is a non-messy alternative to pumpkin carving. Crochet some eyeballs and attach them to the pumpkin! Make a patch of scary pumpkins with some alien or demon eyes. Or go for silly pumpkins and crochet surprised eyes or eyes with eyelashes. Attach the eyes with double stick tape and use them year after year. Whether you go for scary or silly, have fun and Enjoy!
Just when I think things can’t get any busier, they do. April, May and June 2018 have been nuts and I’m sure it is not going to slow down any in the very near future. That’s OK, because it is the nuttiness, the “life that happens”, that makes our time on this big blue marble an adventure. Most of the past quarter’s busyness was good. My oldest graduated high school and is preparing for his freshman year of college, my parents came for visit and were able to attend his graduation, my youngest is now driving, we’ve had prom, college visits, awards night and all the other end-of-school year activities. In addition, both mine and my husband’s jobs continue to grow and demand more of our time, my in-laws are moving out of their home where they have lived the past 30+ years and have needed some assistance and, just to make things interesting, I’ve decided that about 80% of the interior of our house needs to be painted. Sprinkle in a two week vacation to the Pacific Coast, a trip we have been planning for at least two years, and you have a very busy second quarter.
My crocheting has taken a back seat to all of the items on the to-do list. However, I was able to get a few projects completed and bust out some stash. And I purchased ZERO yarn this past quarter (yay me!).
I mentioned above that my parents came for a visit. They live in Florida but decided to rent an apartment this summer in upstate New York where my brother and sister live. Since they will be “snowbirds”, I made the following potholder, Red Bird in the Snow Potholder by Doni Speigle, for them. The pattern is adorable. You can read my notes and suggestions on my Ravelry project page.
And last, another adorable potholder design by Doni Speigle called Dinnertime!. This was for the May potholder exchange. Once I have the time, I can think of a number of cat people, myself included, who would love one of these.
It is already July and my crochet time for the last three weeks has been zip, zero, zilch. I’m hopeful I will have a couple projects to share with you for third quarter 2018. But if I’m too busy with life’s adventures to crochet much, that’s good too.
2018 began with a post announcing my goal to reduce my yarn stash. 3 months have passed and I’ve made some progress. A good bit of progress. I gave away a full box of felted sweaters to someone on Ravelry. I sold 16 hanks on eBay. I gave away 2 skeins in my pot-holder swap group and donated almost 2 full boxes of yarn and misc. craft supplies to a local thrift store. In addition, I completed 3 potholders, 2 scarves, 3 hats, 5 dryer balls and 1 votive cover. My only yarn purchases were 2 teeny tiny skeins of cotton yarn as I needed them for one of the hats. So, with all that, you would think I would only have about 8 boxes of yarn remaining, right? Nope. I have 10 boxes and at least 1 box worth of loose yarn that is not boxed up. UGH. Apparently I significantly underestimated the amount of yarn I had scattered about the house and in project bags and such. So, I DID clear out about 4 boxes worth, I just refilled those empty boxes with yarn that wasn’t boxed up. Oh well. It is still progress and I’m happy to be reducing my stash. I addition to the completed projects shown below, I have a few WIPS. Hopefully they will be completed by June 1 and I can share photos in my next update.
Click on the photos for more information about each project. Patterns used are linked below.
Christmas Pickle Gift Sets donated to the local High School Marching Band Holiday Craft and Bake Sale to raise funds for new uniforms.
Crocheting for charity can be extremely rewarding. We all want to do good and it is rewarding to know you can make something that can make another person happy. Being able to support your local community with charitable crochet is an added bonus.
My last post addressed the awesome part of crocheting for organized organizations. The organizations I listed have not only found recipients for the items but actually have people asking for them. They can say with certainty that the donated items (if they are made within the established guidelines) will end up in the hands of the intended recipient. But, what if your funds are limited and you just don’t have the money to pay for shipping? or what if you just want to keep it local?
I often hear of local church groups or civic organizations where they crochet hats for chemo patients or something similar. But when asked where or how they are getting the items to the patients, the response is along the lines of “We bring them to the hospital”. While it is wonderful to crochet for charitable efforts, I learned the hard way that you have to be selective in where you donate your charitable crochet. Delivering items to the hospital does not mean they make it to the patients (read the story here). So, please keep in mind, no matter where you donate your handmade items, my number one suggestion is to contact the business or organization FIRST to see if they WANT and will ACCEPT the items. If you get a yes, push them a little further and ask, do they have more than they currently need and will the items be distributed to the patients/kids/residents/etc. And be sure to ask if they have any guidelines and/or restrictions you need to follow.
Below are a few suggestions on how you can crochet for charity, keep it local AND be sure the donated items are getting to the intended recipients. Again, check FIRST to make sure they want/need and will distribute your handmade items.
Contact national organizations and ask if they can direct you on how to donate locally. While it may not be possible to donate directly to the recipients as they likely require all donated items to be inspected for quality control, they may be able to direct you to a local drop off location-maybe a guild chapter or yarn shop.
Check with your local hospitals and oncology centers to see if you can donate hats directly to them. If so, what guidelines to they have? If not hats, can they suggest anything else that their patients may like.
Is there a local shelter, woman’s or homeless, that might like blankets?
Check to see if your community has a organization that helps homeless families find homes. Could you provide housewarming gifts to be including when helping to set up the home. Think blankets, potholders, throw rugs or anything to help make the new place warm and comfortable. Check with the women’s shelter as well as they often help set up new homes for women escaping abusive situations.
Check with the animal shelter to see if they would like blankets for the cages. Or maybe you can make cat toys or fancy dog collars that they can give away with new adoptions or possibly sell to raise money for the shelter.
Check with the local police to see if they would like comfort buddies to have on hand for when a child has to be removed from a home or is involved in an accident.
Maybe there is a local foster care home that would like crocheted blankets for the kids. Remember, displaced teens need comfort blankets as well as small children and babies.
Check with food banks and see if they also collect blankets or maybe they have suggestions of items you could provide that they will offer to their patrons.
Is there a senior assisted living center/nursing home in your area? Maybe the workers know of a resident who doesn’t have many visitors and could use a lap blanket or slippers.
Is there a community toy-drive for families in need at the holidays? I’ve made character hats for ours.
And my favorite, because organizations always need money, donate handmade items for a craft fair fundraiser or a raffle. Check with schools to see if any sports teams or the arts (band, chorus, etc) have upcoming fundraising opportunities you can donate items for a charity sale. I made Christmas Pickles, see photo above, for the marching band and donated hand made items for the elementary school’s silent auction. Many shelters and other non-profit organizations hold silent auctions as fundraisers. They are always looking for items to include in these fundraisers.
When donating local, be sure to follow guidelines established by national organizations. They are there for a reason. It may be for the patient’s comfort, ease of washing or maybe the safety of the recipient. Be sure to use appropriate yarns, wash and/or sterilize if necessary and be sure to keep pets away. And if you don’t have the appropriate yarn but still want to make items for donation, get creative. Baby blankets and lap blankets don’t need the same yarns required for chemo hats. Animals don’t care if your yarn is an odd color. Market bags can be made in inexpensive, scratchy yarns and may sell well at a craft fair fundraiser or silent auction. And if you smoke or have pets in your home be honest and disclose this. Some groups may not want to risk the possible allergens. If having pets is an issue with local organizations maybe concentrate your charitable efforts on supporting an animal shelter.