Crocheted Aliens in the Western US

Annie’s Adventures

Annie the Alien went on an exciting adventure this past summer. She joined us on our road trip from Georgia to Las Vegas, NV and everywhere in between.  From the bright lights of the Vegas Strip to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the United States, Annie enjoyed them all.  She wanted to share with you some of her favorite sites.   Psst! See below for a special offer in honor of National Crochet Month, 2017!

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Somehow a pink alien fit right in at infamous Las Vegas!

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Annie the Alien LOVES Bryce Canyon.  She didn’t want to leave…. Annie will be back.  I’m sure of it.  And she will bring her brother Arnie to see it all.

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Annie the Alien enjoys the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  The North Rim is so peaceful.  We saw very few humans at the overlooks.   BTW, the black bean soup at the little snack bar at the North Rim Visitor’s Center is REALLY GOOD!

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Another view of Annie the Alien at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. WOW! It is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!!!

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Annie the Alien started this hike at 6am to avoid the 110 degree weather. Boy, was it worth it! The arch is HUGE!!!!!  Do you see the person in the middle of the arch and one on the left side?

Want to make your own Annie (or Arnie)? You CAN! In honor of National Crochet Month, 2017, the Arnie and Annie Baby Lovey Crochet Pattern is FREE with any Crochet by Darleen Hopkins purchase on Ravelry. Yup! With the purchase of any of my self-published patterns on Ravelry and coupon code “AnnieNatCroMo2017“, you can get the pattern for free. Happy Crocheting! Valid during the month of March 2017 only (expires 3/31/2017 11:59 PM EST)  Use this link to get started. The pattern and the coupon are already added to your cart.  You just need to figure out what other pattern you would like by clicking on “View all available items” at the top of the page. ENJOY!

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The Potholders Have Arrived!

YIPPEE!  They arrived!  The packaged didn’t even make it to the house before I ripped it opened.  And they are gorgeous!  In May I posted about a crochet potholder swap  (Post 1 and Post 2) and I’m super excited to share with you the three beautiful potholders I received in the swap.  I can’t wait for the next one 🙂

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The round purple/teal was crocheted by Sybil. The pattern is called Disc Disc.

The lavender and white was crocheted by Linda. The pattern is Vintage Climbing Trellis Hexagon.

The dusty red and indigo was crocheted by Linda. The pattern is an Ornamental African Flower Potholder!

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ILikeCrochet.com – how to subscribe

ILikeCrochet.com-online magazine

Winter Sky Cowl, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
February 2017
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Farmstand Watermelon Basket Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins August 2016 Photo by ILikeCrochet.com #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
August 2016
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

ILikeCrochet.com is an online/digital magazine that is published by Prime Publishing. You can view the bimonthly issues on either your desktop/laptop or your tablet.

The site offers a couple different options for access. Either tablet only, website only or combined tablet and website access. I don’t have a tablet so I only use it via my laptop. The great thing about the website subscription is you get access to ALL THE PREVIOUS ISSUES dating back to April 2014, as well as 6 new issues a year! That’s a lot of patterns and articles. FYI-back issue access isn’t an option with the tablet only subscription, just the website subscription.

In addition to my contributions to the magazine, I have also made the following hats; The Butterscotch Cream Hat from the December 2014 issue and the Darling Baby Hat from the April 2015 issue. Both have been donated to Halos of Hope as part of my 2014 and 2015 Stash Busting Challenges.

Check it out, see all the great patterns currently available and imagine all the fantastic patterns still to come.  If you do subscribe, please follow my link. This is another way they support independent designers by providing referral fees. How awesome is that!

Check out the magazine at this link. > Subscribe!

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Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
April 2017
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Spiced Cider Set; hat and button-up scarf, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
October 2016
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Watermelon Placemat Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins August 2016 Photo by ILikeCrochet.com #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
August 2016
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Watermelon Napkin Ring Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins August 2016 Photo by ILikeCrochet.com #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
August 2016
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Fresh Air Scarf crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins August 2016 Photo by ILikeCrochet.com #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
August 2016
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Blue Rivers crochet hat pattern by Darleen Hopkins, photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
December 2015
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Lime and Lemonade coasters crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
August 2015
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Tuxedo Bib crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH, photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
June 2015
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Sunny Days Baby Mobile crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
April 2015
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Owl Always Love You crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
February 2015
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Pepermint Pals Hot Pad set pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH photo by ILikeCrochet.com

Pattern by Darleen Hopkins
November 2014
Photo by ILikeCrochet.com

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Magic balls of yarn made with yarn scraps

Crochet and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Part 2

The 3 Rs and Crochet, Part 2- Reuse and Recycle

Our last post discussed a few ideas on how we can incorporate REDUCING in our crocheting and crafting.  By practicing the 3 Rs we are not only helping the environment be greener but in many was, but you can save a little green too!  So…

Let’s discuss REUSE!

Reusing can also be called repurposing or upcycling.  This is my favorite part of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle waste hierarchy.   Once something is no longer useful in its current state, see if you can find a new use for it. Let’s explore how we can do this with our crochet.

FROG it!
One of my favorite ways to reuse is to take a damaged sweater (sock, scarf, hat, anything) unravel it and knit or crochet it into something new (reclaimed yarn).  Beth Graham (BethGraham on Ravelry) does this with hand knit socks and dishcloths.  She saves the good bits of yarn from worn-out socks for darning and for sock scrap blankets and she saves the good yarn left from worn-out dishcloths to reknit fresh cloths. Check out this blanket she is working on where she recently added a square that was made with the yarn from the very first pair of socks she ever knit!

Market bag crocheted from a thrift store sweater. Upcycled, reclaimed yarn.A few years ago I found a beautiful coral cotton Eddie Bauer sweater at a local thrift store.  It was damaged so I bought it for about $1-maybe 50 cents-and unraveled it.  I cleaned the yarn, removed the kinks, balled it up and then crocheted it into a market bag which I then gifted to a favorite teacher of my boys.  This is a great way to get great yarn for next to nothing, if you don’t mind putting in a little effort to unravel, clean, and dekink the yarn.  You can often find silk, linen and other expensive fibers for very little money.  There is a trick to this technique though.  You want to make sure you pick up the right type of sweater.  Sweaters with selvage seams will not unravel.  Check out this Reclaiming Yarn Handout created by Angelia Robinson (Quarternity on Ravelry).  She wrote the step by step instructions when she taught a class on reclaiming yarn at her local knitting guild.  http://www.quaternityknits. com/freebies/

Turning a damaged sweater into a market bag makes a unique gift most everyone will appreciate.  Seriously, who can’t use an extra bag?  And for fun, sew the sweater label in the bag.  I bet the recipient will love it.  And of course, you aren’t limited to crocheting market bags with reclaimed yarn.  Knit or crochet scarves, shawls, hats, mittens, anything and everything.  I have two damaged 100% cashmere sweaters in my stash waiting for the yarn to be reclaimed and crocheted into something beautiful.

Felted sweaters ready to cut up and turn into a crocheted kitchen throw rug.  And my cat. :)

All the sweaters are felted and ready to cut up. My kitty is anxious for her wool rug!

FELT it!
We’ve all done it, whether on accident or on purpose.  We have all shrunk a wool garment to teeny tiny proportions.  No worries, that sweater can be repurposed into many things.  In the past I have made lunch boxes, ice scraper mitts, a tea cozy and backed hot pads with felted sweaters. Check out this previous post about felting with a purpose.  Many of the wool sweaters I find in thrift stores have accidentally been partially felted already.
What about a rug?  Cut felted sweaters into strips and crochet them into a rug. I have two boxes of damaged wool sweaters collected over the past 5-6 years.  2015 just may be the year those sweaters finally turn into a kitchen rug!

RIP it!
Turn old, damaged sheets into rugs or baskets.  Cut up damaged cotton blouses into strips and crochet them.  I’ve seen jeans crocheted into rugs.  There are so many crafty options to use our worn out or damaged fabrics.  Think about it.  Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie) didn’t run to Oleson’s Mercantile when she needed something.  She saved all of her and Mary’s and Laura’s and Carrie’s and Pa’s old clothing and turned them into squares for quilts or strips for rag rugs.  Here is a video on how to turn a sheet into a rag rug. http://startingchain.com/2015/03/scrap-project-learn-how-to-crochet-a-rag-rug-out-of-old-sheets-.html

TARN!
Tarn = T-shirt yarn.  Yup, you can use the old Ts too.  I’ve started saving white Ts and undershirts once they are past wear-ability with a goal to crochet them into something.  Don’t forget, it is easy to dye T-shirts.  You aren’t stuck with dingy white.  Remember summer camp and tie-dyed shirts?  A little dye to transform them and you may have an awesome bright pink laundry basket crocheted out of your hubby’s previously dingy and underarm stained undershirts. 🙂  Here is a great tutorial on how to make TARN. http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2009/06/05/making-t-yarn-from-recycled-tee-shirts/

Japanese Knot Plarn Tote bag.  Crochet pattern by Cindy, aka RecycleCindy.

Japanese Knot Plarn Tote bag. Crochet pattern by Cindy, aka RecycleCindy. Click for pattern. Photo by RecycleCindy.

PLARN!
Plarn = plastic yarn.  This is such a great solution to all the extra plastic bags you accumulated BEFORE you started using your market bags.  Sure, we could always dump the extra bags in the blue recycling bin but recycling uses energy.  If we can reuse that plastic, we can save energy.  I made a bag and a trash can out of plarn.  Because I bring my own bags everywhere, I don’t get a lot of disposable plastic bags.  About 9 years ago I belonged to a knitting/crochet group.  I asked if anyone had extra bags sitting around the house and one lady jumped on it.  She came the next week with a lawn and leaf bag full of random plastic bags.  It was gigantic and took up my entire trunk.  I sorted, cut and wound the plastic into really large balls of plarn.  Eventually some of the bags did end up in the recycle bin but I was able to use a lot of them.  At the time my boys were in Tae Kwon Do and I would work with the plarn while they were in class.  One day the instructor couldn’t stand it any more and asked what in the world was I working on that was so crinkly. After that I decided I better finish it up at home.   Both the bag and the trash can were improvised, no pattern.  I always get compliments on my bag and the trash can is used in our hallway bathroom.  I’ve also seen people make doormats with plarn.  Here is a great tutorial on making PLARN.  http://www.thecrochetfoyer.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-to-make-plarn.html and another by RecycleCindy who designed the awesome Japanese Knot Plarn Tote Bag pictured here, http://www.myrecycledbags.com/tutorial-for-making-plarn-yarn/ for tutorial, http://www.myrecycledbags.com/2015/04/23/japanese-knot-plarn-tote-bag/ for pattern.

magic balls of yarn made with scraps to be used for crocheting a lapghan for donation

Magic Balls of Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice scraps soon to be a laphan.

SCRAPS!
Save your scraps and turn them into MAGIC BALLS.  A Magic Ball is when you take scraps of a few yards each, join the ends and then wind them into balls of yarn.  Once you have enough, crochet something with it.  If you do neat joins, like a Russian join, you can make anything and you will have a self striping ball of yarn.   Or you can just knot them together securely with a square knot and not worry about the knots or the ends and crochet a dish rag.  Let the ends poke out all over the place, who cares.  This might even be an added benefit if you make a Swiffer cover.   I suggest grouping yarn by type (cottons with cottons, acrylics with acrylics, etc).  That way you know what you have and you can make cotton dish rags or an acrylic bag or wool pot holders.  You can also group by color choice, all blue hues for example.  You are in control of the striping and only limited by the scraps on hand.  Here is a tutorial for a little more information on Magic Balls.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/ 19680430/The-Magic-Ball-Tutorial  This was a new concept for me and I’m so glad I found it while doing research for this post.  I’ve started working on a lapghan made with lots of scraps using the Magic Ball method.

Save all the teeny tiny ends too.  I’ve used them to stuff cat toys.
This suggestion came from Kaila via my Facebook page

“I save all my small scraps of yarn (like from weaving in ends) and the little pieces from sewing and put them in a zip lock. It makes a fluffy filler that my 8-year-old son has decided to use to make smaller pillows for people who sleep on the streets.”

What a sweet and caring little 8-year-old!
I’ve seen others put the tiny scraps out for the birds to use as nesting materials.  I believe this is best for wool scraps.  Acrylics and other synthetics should be avoided.  Wool provides warmth and water resistance to the nest.  I’ve read the synthetics can be dangerous to the birds’ respiratory system.  I don’t know if it is true or not but makes sense.  Wool is found in nature, fun fur isn’t.

SEW!
Can you sew?  I found this Craftsy class, Project Upcycle, Thrifty Sewing Projects.  It is on my to-do list waiting for a day my sewing skills improve some.   And Angelia has a great tutorial on how to add a fabric lining to your crocheted or knit bags.  I bet you can find some fabric to upcycle for these awesome ideas.

THINK!
The one thing I would like to stress when it comes to reusing is to make sure the item is no longer useful in its current condition before you reuse it.  For example, if you decide to shop thrift stores for sweaters to frog or felt try finding ones that are damaged first.  No one wants to wear a sweater with moth holes but that doesn’t matter for felting.  Maybe you can talk to the manager of the store and get the damaged clothing for a discount or even free.  And with plarn, please don’t buy plastic bags to crochet them.  I have seen folks do this because they wanted pink or purple plarn.  Or they go to stores and asked for a stack of unused bags.  If that is what you really want to do then fine, just realize you aren’t “recycling” that way.  It is the same as buying a skein of yarn.

Recycle

OK, I’ve Reduced my waste, I’ve Reused as much as possible, now how do I recycle?
Wkikipedia’s definition of Recycling

Recycling is a process to change waste materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to plastic production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle” waste hierarchy.

Choose yarns and products made with recycled materials.
Unfortunately, it seems this must not be a profitable area for major yarn manufactures. Most yarns I found that contained recycled materials have been discontinued.  I did find these.  If you know of more, please let me know!

Berroco Remix is made with 100% recycled fibers.
Lion Brand Fettuccini is made from the remnants of garment manufacturing.
Red Heart Silk Sari is made from the remnant fibers from the manufacturing of silk saris.

Reclaimed-yarnI’m sure (hope) there are other, smaller manufactures of yarn that use recycled materials.  However, if you don’t want to reclaim your own yarn, you can buy recycled (reclaimed) yarn and support some small business owners too.  A quick Etsy search yielded many sellers of reclaimed/recycled yarn.

I was pleasantly surprised when I was stuffing my Bloodshot Eyeball Pillow with polyester-fiber fill that not only was stuffing made in the USA but was also of recycled materials.  https://www.fairfieldworld.com/store/big-bag/poly-fil-premium-fiber-fill-32-ounce-bag/

Recycle it.
Finally, when your crafted items (or any another clothing, fabric or scraps) are beyond repair or reclaiming for another use, don’t throw them out, recycle them!!  Many of the larger donation stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army) sell the unsaleable clothing and fabrics by the pound wholesalers for recycling.  Our little local charity thrift store does as well so check with the small ones too.  Or drop them into the clothing drop boxes around your town.  We have USAgain in this area of the county.  http://www.usagain.com/  http://www.smartasn.org/ collectors/

And last, but not least, recycle the paper label wrapped around your skein!

Black Raspberry Shawl Crochet Pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Crochet and Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, Part 1

The 3 Rs and Crochet

TreeHuggingKingsCanyonI’ve always been a little bit of a nature girl.  You can call me a tree hugger if you like, I don’t mind. I grew up where curbside recycling began in 1980 and therefore separating trash became second nature to me.  I try to do my part to keep the air clean, the water pure and the land pristine.  If you love this big blue marble we call home as much as I do you likely practice the three Rs as much as possible.  You know them, reduce, reuse and recycle.  The 3 Rs are important and it’s important to understand the proper order.  First and foremost we want to REDUCE the amount of waste we create or the items we use.  When we can, we should try to REUSE what we have.  Once something has fulfilled its purpose, can we reuse it as something else (repurpose, upcycle)?  If we still end up with trash after we have reduced our consumption and reused what we can, then we want to RECYCLE whatever is possible to keep from having to use virgin materials.

We can incorporate the 3 Rs in our crochet, knitting and general crafting too.  The suggestions below are practices I use every day to reduce, reuse and recycle as well as suggestions that were made by readers of my Facebook page or other ideas discovered while researching this post.  All are great ways to do your small part to help our Mother Earth, no tree hugging required, I promise.

REDUCE

First and foremost we want to reduce the amount of trash we produce.  Less waste means a healthier planet.  Anytime you substitute reusable items for disposable items, you are reducing!  This is good!

Plarn Crocheted Bag Plastic Bag Upcycle Practice the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) with your crochet, knitting and craftingIdea #1-Crochet a sturdy market bag or two or ten and reduce the amount of disposable plastic bags you use when shopping.  There are A LOT of patterns out there for bags of all types.  This would be a great use of that scratchy purple and orange yarn you bought on clearance and have NO IDEA what to make with it.  Keep the bags in the trunk of your car and bring your bags with you everywhere!  They aren’t just for farmer’s markets.  Take them to the grocery, to the yarn shop, to the home improvement store.  Anytime you shop, if you need a bag, use your handmade market bag.  Not sure you can give up your disposable plastic bag addiction?  Trust me, you can and don’t worry, a few of those pesky bags will still make their way into your home. I’ve been bringing my own bags to stores since the mid-1990s yet I still end up with plastic bags. When I get them, I use them for various things like collecting items for donation or for household trash.   I end up with just enough to use for my household needs with no unnecessary extras to throw away or recycle.

Idea #2-Crochet some napkins and use them instead of disposable paper napkins.  You can use any larger dishcloth pattern.  We use cloth napkins made out of some worn out flannel sheets.  My husband had the sheets when I met him in 1995!  About 5 years ago the sheets were worn so thin in spots that it was time to replace them.  I cut up the good parts and sewed them into reusable table napkins we use every day.  The worn out parts of the sheets were sent for fabric recycling and the pillowcases are still used today.

Best-Little-Crocheted-DishclothIdea #3-Crochet dishcloths, this is my favorite, The Best Little Dishcloth EVER!, and use them instead of disposable sponges or paper towels.  Get a fresh one every day and you won’t have to worry about icky bacteria build up.

Idea #4-Bonnie (via Facebook) suggested crocheting some Swiffer duster covers and use them instead of the disposable ones.  This is a great idea and would also make a really nice housewarming gift when paired with a new Swiffer. Check out this pattern for the floor mop and this one for the duster.

Idea #5-Reduce paper usage by either using your tablet only when working on a pattern or, if you are like me and don’t have a tablet, print your pattern then place it in plastic sleeve.  Use a dry erase marker to mark your spot.  When done, clean the sleeve and the paper can be saved for the next time you want to use the pattern.  This fantastic idea was suggested in the From Trash to Treasures Ravelry group.

Idea #6-For the ladies only-reduce your use of disposable sanitary products and switch to handmade.  I’ve not seen any crochet or knit patterns but here is a link for many sewing patterns. http://clothpads.wikidot.com/patterns.  I switched to cloth liners for every day use quite a few years ago and I’m extremely glad I did.  Another idea is to switch from disposable diapers to fabric diapers you make yourself.  Confession-this isn’t something we did with our boys but now that I’ve switched to cloth liners, I really kinda wish I had tried it with my babies.

Idea #7-Make some dryer balls and ditch the disposable dryer sheets.  Check out this video for more information. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8hbYKET6Rs This is something I’ve been wanting to try.  Let me know how it goes if you do it.

cotton and cotton blend yarn stash for charity crochetIdea #8-Reduce your stash-yup, I said it.  Buy less yarn or at least use what you have before you buy more.  Some people love their stash, and that is fine.  If your stash brings you comfort then this isn’t for you.  I read somewhere where a lady purchased yarn while on vacation and then she used the yarn to decorate her craft area.  This isn’t the type of stash I mean when I say to reduce.  The yarn I am referring to are all those random skeins that you have no idea why you bought.  Find a good home for it-maybe turn it into market bag.    What about the miscellaneous partial skeins that are tucked away at the bottom of the stash bin?  Maybe you can make something beautiful with it.  Would the yarn make a good chemo hat for donation?  Or what about a lapghan to donate to an assisted living home for the elderly?  Maybe a cute teddy bear for a sick child and his siblings (Team Lewis)?  Or maybe there is a place to donate the yarn?  A charity group that crochets for needy or someone who teaches knitting or crochet at a local senior center or a library or a church or a school.  Find a use for what you have before you buy more.

Idea #9-When you purchase yarn, reduce by doing research.
Everyone has to decide what is most important to them and use that knowledge to make decisions.  Knowledge is power and use your power to make informed decisions.  What is important to you-saving energy? reducing pesticides? reducing waste caused by production?

Buy local
Reduce energy consumption by buying locally.  Not everyone has a cotton plantation or an alpaca farm in their backyard but maybe when you do buy yarn, you can buy yarn that was made in your country with domestic materials.  Check labels.
Commercial yarn options:
*Lily Sugar ‘n Cream is made with 100% USA grown cotton.
*Lion Brand has yarns that are made in the USA (some are made in the USA of imported fibers, read the label!)
*Red Heart Medley, Super Saver and With Love are made in the USA of imported fibers.
*Caron Simply Soft is made in the USA of imported fibers.

Some smaller companies use domestic fibers as well.  Check out:
**Made in America Yarns, www.madeinamericayarns. com
**Brown Sheep Yarns, brownsheep.com
and many indie dyers use domestic fibers too.

Maybe you don’t have an alpaca farm in your backyard but there may be one in the next town over.  Search the web, go to farmer’s markets and ask around.  You may be able to find a local producer of yarn.

Buy eco
Support the reduction of pesticides by buying organic cottons and natural fibers.  Lindsay Lewchcuk (KnitEcoChic on Ravelry) is a bit of an expert on this subject.  She says,

“The more you know about the yarn you use, the better able you are to access whether it is an eco yarn. The skein wrapper is a great place to start. Look for words like “organic,” “vegan/ natural dyes,” or “low-impact dyes,” or on animal fibers “humane,” “GOTS certified,” or “virgin.” Next, look into the company that created the yarn. In this technological age, most companies will have websites. Check out the “About” page, they love to tell you how they are working to be environmentally and/or socially conscious in their manufacturing processes. Ask around and read reviews. Have people complained about chemical residue on the yarn? Or do people rave about the company’s commitment to the environment?”

Check out Lindsay’s blog, http://knitecochic.com/ blog/ and her commitment to designing with eco yarns.

Is it better to only use organic yarn or natural materials? or to buy non-organic yet made with domestic materials yarn? What about reclaimed/recycled yarn (see next post)?  I don’t know-that is a decision that is up to you and what you feel is most important.  How nice would it be if we could all buy the most locally produced, least toxic in production and most organically grown option for $1 a skein?  We have to make choices we are comfortable with but ones we can afford too.  If you are thinking about your choices and the environmental impact your choices may have, then you are doing your part for Mother Earth.  Yay for you!

Idea #10-Reduce by reusing!  Check out my next post for a number of ideas to reuse, reclaim and upcycle everyday items while we crochet, knit and craft.

Whispers

2015 Stash Bust for Charity, Early February update

Fun Fur Silliness, Phase One

Fun fur crochet hat for donation  https://crochetbydarleenhopkins.com/category/2015-chemo-hat-challenge/My last post stated  “I’ve got some funky fun fur that needs to used…” and this is the result of the first fun fur hat in 2015.   It’s pretty stretchy and should fit most about 8 years old and up.  I’m hopeful it will find a home to someone with a unique sense of humor. This hat weights 2.25 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 4

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date:
8.25 ounces

 

Blocking Acrylic Yarn-Yes You Can!

Patchwork Kitty BlanketOne of my favorite 100% acrylic yarns to use is Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Choice, a great aran/heavy worsted weight yarn.  With its bright colors and easy care wash-ability, it is often my yarn of choice for baby blankets, throws and hat and scarf sets.  Even my kitty loves Vanna’s Choice!  Not everything you make with this yarn will need blocking.  However, when you do make an acrylic item that would benefit from blocking, don’t fear.

Blocking acrylic can be done and is easy.   To block acrylic, you must subject the fiber to heat in the form of steam.  Some call it KILLING ACRYLIC, and in many ways, this is accurate in that you do permanently alter the fabric.  The heat “melts” the fibers together to create the blocked shape.  If this is done properly and accurately, you will not notice anything more than a beautifully finished item.   So how do you do this?

First, what do you need?What you need to block acrylic yarn

  • Steam  I choose to use a garment steamer.  Some use an iron with a steam setting.  If you use an iron, it is important that the iron NEVER touches the fabric.  If it does, it will burn and you will end up with a shiny, flattened item with loss of stitch definition.  There are times when this may be the desired effect, but usually it isn’t.
  • Blocking boards
  • Blocking pins-no rust
  • Your item.  I’m using the scarf from the pattern Glacier.  The stitch pattern creates a knit look ribbing on one side and a beautiful texture on the other.  It also causes the scarf to curl.  Blocking is necessary to remove the curl.

how to block acrylic yarn step 1Step One

Pin the item to the blocking boards.  This is the time to stretch it to shape, open up lace and even out the edges.  For this scarf, I just want to remove the curl.  I’m not interested in stretching or opening up the stitches.  I like the ribbing and want to keep it as is.

how to block acrylic yarn step 2Step Two

Attack with steam.  Keep the iron or the garment steamer head about 1/4 to 1/2 inch away from the fabric.  Work the steam over the entire item and use your fingers to make adjustments if necessary (do not place your fingers in direct steam, it will burn you).  I found it is NOT necessary to soak the garment.  Just damp is fine.  For this scarf, I steamed the entire scarf but spent additional time on the edges as that is my area of concern.

how to block acrylic yarn step 3Step Three

Allow to dry, mostly, then repeat on the other side.  I had a couple of sections that did get soaked.  I didn’t worry about them drying.  When the damp parts were mostly dry, about 20 minutes or so, I flipped it over and repeated.  As you can see by the photos, the scarf is laying pretty flat and there was no need to pin.  Giving it a second attack of steam on the other side will finalize the blocking.  Now allow it to fully dry and you are done!

Your finished product will now look like a polished and beautiful handmade work of art!

Glacier scaf before blocking acrylic

Glacier scarf before blocking

Glacier scarf after blocking

Remember, blocking or killing acrylic is permanent.  There will be items you don’t want to block as you wont want them to lose their stretch-ability. You won’t want to do this on something that is crocheted with negative ease.  The sample scarf has a ribbing stitch pattern.  It is purely decorative and not necessary for stretching.  The coordinating hat also uses a similar ribbing stitch pattern however it is necessary for the hat to have give and stretch for proper fit.  I would not want to block the hat as I would not want to remove this necessary design feature of the hat.

Blocking shouldn’t be something to fear but you do need to be aware that it does permanently change the crocheted item.  Therefore, go slow.  You can always block some more but if you do too much, you could end up with something you hadn’t planned for.

Glacier