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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Bringing Your Own Utensils has Never Looked So GOOD!
Do you remember when you were a kid and you always wanted to be first in line? We all did because we all thought being first was the most important and no one wanted to be last. The truth is in grade school it didn’t matter who was first as we were all important. However, when it comes to the three R’s; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, while they are all important, REDUCE is probably the most important. While all three are necessary in helping our planet, recycle should be your last resort as recycling requires energy. If we reduce our consumption of items, there’s less to recycle. And if we reuse what we have, there’s less to recycle. Less to recycle means less energy used. While recycling is good, it would be best of we all had less to recycle. Make sense?
So, what’s that got to do with a crochet blog? Well, I’m passionate about two things, crochet and the Earth. And when I can combine the two, I’m a real happy camper. So I’m super excited to share with you how I have figured out how to reduce my use of disposable, single use plastic.
One day I was eating lunch out at one of my favorite casual dining restaurants (Moe’s) and as I was picking up a use once and toss fork, it hit me how wasteful it was. We all know there’s too much single use plastic trash in this world and I knew I needed to come up with a way to bring my own utensils for this type of dining. When I got home I pulled out my eyeglass case pattern sample and voila! it was the perfect size. I placed a variety of forks, spoons and knives in a ziploc bag and placed them in the eyeglass case. The eyeglass case, now a utensil case, went right into my purse. The plastic bag keeps the utensils clean while the soft cushioning of the crocheted fabric keeps the plastic from breaking. Going forward, I will always have clean utensils with me and do not have to use the restaurant’s wasteful, disposal utensils. And when I use one of the utensils, I just wrap the dirty part in a napkin and bring it home to wash. My choice is to use plastic ware in my utensil case, however, you could easily use your regular flatware. You just may need to make your case a little longer to accommodate the longer knives.
You can find out more about the Eyeglass Case crochet pattern here: Pretty in Pink
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.
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!
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.
Now Available, Zinnia Votive. A lace sleeve for a standard canning jar.
Dress up a standard canning jar and turn it into a beautiful gift. The Zinnia Votive is a pattern for a standard canning jar sleeve. Place a tea light inside the jar and see the beauty of crochet lace like never before. A gorgeous way to light up your late summer nights. The pattern includes fully written instructions as well as an illustrative chart.
The pattern is written to fit a standard, round 8 oz Ball canning jar. However, it is easily adaptable to fit many different jar sizes. Upcycle your glass jars into illuminated lace.
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.
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.
Step 3: Secure yarn.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Next, 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.
A while back I posted about men in crocheted pants. That post has become quite a hit-obviously, who wouldn’t want to see men in crocheted pants! I get a lot of emails asking where to get the patterns. And I have always had to respond “Sorry, I don’t know.” Until now.
Pattern and photo by Kirstie Adamson with EcoCreate. Photo used with permission.
These amazing crocheted shorts can now be made with the awesome pattern by Kirstie Adamson. I haven’t tried the pattern…yet. I’m envisioning a pair of capris in blues and greens. I have the perfect yarn. I just need to find the time, and the guts, to go for it. If you decide to make a pair of these shorts, please let me know. I’d love to see them!!! The link for the pattern is here: Crochet Shorts Pattern by Kirstie Adamson. While you are there, check out the website and blog for some great upcycling ideas and tips.