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 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.
My youngest son loves going to thrift stores with me. We have purchased some silly stuff and some useful stuff and some fun stuff at thrift stores. We both love the adventure of looking around and finding something unique. So much of what we see in retail stores is the same. I guess this is why I, like many others, enjoy crocheting. We are making a one of a kind item, something you won’t see at Target or Kohl’s or the outlet mall. Much of my house is decorated with thrift store treasures.
My youngest son also loves the nutcracker decorations that come out during the winter holidays. We have a small collection (some previously purchased at thrift stores!) When he was real little, he would line the nutcrackers up like opposing armies in battle formation or marching. So when we walked into the store and saw a 15″ nutcracker for sale he was really excited. Initially I was hesitant because I try to avoid having too many knick-knacks and such in the house. I’ve been called an “anti-hoarder” before. And my other nutcrackers are more traditional yet this nutcracker was golf themed. But, he made a convincing argument. He said, “Look. It’s wearing a knitted sweater”. Yeah, I couldn’t argue with that. We had to get him. Besides, it’s Christmas in July time!
About a year ago, I picked up a used crib. I had asked the manager at a local thrift store to please let me know if she received a crib that she couldn’t resell as I was looking for one to use as a photo prop. She called me a few weeks later letting me know she had a crib and a changing table. She couldn’t sell them because they were recalled. Since I didn’t plan to use them for a baby she said if I was interested she would let me have them for $10. SOLD!
Changing table saved from the trash.
I was super excited. Right away I painted the changing table white and used it for photos and for storage when I wasn’t using it as a prop. Because the changing table worked so well both as a prop and for storage, I decided I didn’t need the crib after all. It spent some time on my covered porch while I tried to determine if I could/would ever use it. When I finally decided I did not need it I recycled the metal springs and posted the wood pieces for re-purposing. I couldn’t bring myself to toss them in the trash as they were in good shape. When nobody responded, I put them under the porch and thought I’d try again in a few weeks. Then this morning, while taking a shower, I had a EUREKA moment; use the crib slats as yarn storage. It was so simple and so awesome! Originally I wanted to hang the slats. I also thought I needed spacers between it and the wall. But when I started filling the slats up with yarn to see if it would really work I realized I didn’t need any of that. Propping it up against the wall is perfect! Easy-Peasy. The room has carpeting in it so it shouldn’t slide at all. AND the crib has another piece just like this!! I plan to pull out the other one, clean it up and fill it up with more of my yarn stash! I know I have enough. One day I will work through all this stash…one day.
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.
I’ve always loved potholder patterns. There are so many cute, silly and fun patterns available. I have a lot of crocheted potholders. They were my first crochet projects. It was a great way to perfect my tension. But because they were so simple, they are plain and not at all exciting and are showing some wear. I’ve had them for about 10 years now. So when I heard about a potholder swap, I was super excited.
I’ve never participated in any swaps before and have always been curious about them. I’ve learned that you make the item then mail it along with return postage to whomever the organizer of the swap may be. She (or he) sorts them all and mails you an item made by another person. For this swap we are each making three potholders of the same pattern. The colors can vary but the pattern is to be consistent. Then, we will receive back three potholders made by three different people! I think it will be awesome to see the work of others.
I had a heck of a time deciding on which pattern to use. I was tempted to go whimsical. Many of my bib patterns could easily be converted to potholders and I was really leaning toward making three pigs (three little pigs, get it?) But then I saw this Granny Stitch Potholder pattern by Recycle Cindy. I thought it was adorable and genius in its simplicity. And I’m really into grannies lately as I’m working on three different pattern designs that incorporate granny squares. So, the combination of this cute potholder pattern with my quest to work from stash and I quickly became hooked (sorry, no pun intended).
So far I’ve completed one potholder. Each one is using up a lot of scraps, which is great but results in a ton of ends to weave in. My goal is to get them in the mail this weekend. I have a lot of weaving and crocheting to do to in order to finish!
New #CbyDH Pattern Alert! The Modern Tote is now available!
An easy and versatile tote bag for you to make. Use yours as a gym bag, a project bag, a take my lunch and other necessities to work bag, a book bag, a beach bag, a large purse, or make yours in thinner yarn for a smaller purse. Whatever purpose it is made for, it will look fantastic. Pattern is written for heavy worsted/aran weight but it can be made in any weight yarn. Your bag will vary in size if you use different yarn.
Each November the local Wal-Mart hosts a couple giving trees for charitable organizations that support local kids in need as well as seniors living in the local assisted living center. Paper ornaments are hung with holiday wishes of the individuals served by the organizations. Every year I fulfill a child’s wish and purchase something from the store for them. And every year I notice a senior wishing for a warm lapghan and I think to myself, “Darn it, I don’t have time to make one.” So this year I was determined to plan ahead and make a lapghan or two in advance. This is my first and it will be donated this coming November.
While doing research for the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle series, I came across a new-to-me concept for using up small scraps called Magic Balls. I thought this was a fantastic idea. I gathered up a number of unused squares and scraps from when I designed the Patchwork Kitty Blanket and made three magic balls with the smaller scraps. Working in the left-over squares with a version of the Nighty Night Baby Blanket I was able to finish a 30″ X 36″ lapghan. Phew, that was a lot of ends to work in!!
The blanket weighs 1 pound, 3 ounces.
The scraps before!!! What a mess 🙂
Magic balls of yarn made with yarn scraps.
Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 9
Total bears made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 6
Total lapghans made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 1