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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
All the sweaters are felted and ready to cut up. My kitty is anxious for her wool rug!
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!
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 = 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. Click for pattern. Photo by RecycleCindy.
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 Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice scraps soon to be a laphan.
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.
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.
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.
I’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.
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!
I’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.
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!
Idea #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.
Idea #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.
Idea #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?
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.
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.
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?”
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.