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

Sunny Days Baby Mobile crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Time for Spring, April 2015

Springtime Crochet

Spring was late to north Georgia this year but when it finally did arrive, it brought the beautiful and bright colors of the springtime flowers.  First the sunny yellow daffodils, then the bright purple pink of the redbud trees and the sweet purple of vinca.  Currently the white and pink dogwoods are in bloom and azaleas in many shades of pink to red and white are starting to show their colors too. Of course the new green leaves are popping out and to the dismay of many, the light green of pine pollen covers just about everything in sight.  It is because of the pine pollen that I am always happy to see April showers.  Springtime is beautiful and colorful and often wet.

I finally had a chance to peruse the latest issue of ILikeCrochet.com, April 2015.  And just like the colors Mother Nature brings us in the spring, this issue is full of gorgeous and bright patterns and projects to bring a little springtime to everyone, even if nature is a little late.  From the bright Flower Power Throw on the cover to one of my favorites, the Retro Flower Cushion (adorable!). Blooms abound on hats, bags and in the lace of shawls, wraps and tops.  There are some wonderful gift ideas for new baby and Mother’s day.

Sunny Days Baby Mobile crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

photo courtesy of ILikeCrochet.com

And because we are always thankful for April showers that not only bring May flowers but clear the pine pollen from the air and the cars, the Sunny Days baby mobile would make a great gift to any expectant parent.  I just had to give a shout out to my design. 🙂

I’ve already started a Darling Baby Hat in extra large as one of the hats for my 2015 Stash Bust Challenge.  What will your first project be?

Crochet to do list and a hat challenge

Hats, and Lists and Bears, Oh MY!

Hats for Halos of Hope; bears for a sweet charitable project called Team Lewis I just found out about and has a very special meaning to me; a new design currently in progress; new design ideas I’m dying to get started on; the CGOA Master Crochet Program I’m determined to start and finish in 2015; and EYEBALLS, gotta have more eyeballs in lots of colors.  So much to crochet and so little time.

cotton and cotton blend yarn stash for charity crochet

How many hats and bears will this yarn make?

What do you do when you can’t decide what project to crochet first?  Do you have multiple WIPs going at once, skipping from one project to another or do you just crochet as fast as possible to finish one item and then move onto the next?

Me, I’m a list girl.  Growing up I remember my dad making lists.  They’d be in the corner of his desk blotter with the items crossed out as completed.  I don’t remember or know what the lists were for, “to do” lists of some sort, but I can still visualize them on his desk in the house I grew up in.  I guess that is why I make lists for everything.  I make them at work, I make them at home.  I make lists for my kids of chores to do when school is out and my husband and I have to work.  I make lists for the grocery shopping (sectioned into quadrants: grocery, non-food, cold stuff and produce).  And I make lists of items to pack for when we go on vacation.  Lists for everything!

See UPDATE below! So here’s my list of crochet items I plan to stitch in April.  I tend to get bored making too much of one thing so I have to mix it up a little.  I’m going to try to stick to it and in order…

1) Finish WIP hat for Halos of Hope
2) 2 bears for Team Lewis
3) Cotton hat for Halos of Hope
4) Work a night or two on WIP design
5) 2 more bears for Team Lewis
6) Work a night or two on WIP design
7) Cotton hat for Halos of Hope, ship all hats made to date
8) 2 more bears for Team Lewis, prepare for shipping
9) Finish brown eyeball
10) Start that new design you want to do so badly!!

UPDATE:  After drafting this post but prior to publishing, I received a challenge from Pat.  She bet me 2 skeins of cotton yarn that she could make more hats for Halos of Hope this month than I can.  I say GAME ON!  I may have to tweak the order of my crochet to do list a bit due to this new development and pick up in May what I don’t get to this month.  Halos of Hope is such a great organization so I want to make as many hats as possible.  Also, I want to WIN!   And I do want to make at least 6 bears this month as they need to be in the mail by the end of the month.

Revised list
1) 6 bears then as many hats as physically possible.

Looks like my crochet time will be spent mainly on hats and bears.  And it looks like we may be eating a lot of frozen dinners this month.  Less time cooking = more time crocheting!  So much to crochet, so little time.

Silly hats for silly kids crochet patterns by darleen hopkins

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

 

Happy Puppy Hat, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

2015 Stash Bust for Charity, Mid-January update

New Challenge for 2015

It’s a new year and therefore time for a new challenge.  A couple of years ago I decided I was going to work on busting out some of my stash yarn and make hats for chemo donation.  My 2013 Stash Bust Challenge was focused on a box full of Bernat CottonTots yarn.  I ended up crocheting 5 pounds, 15.5 ounces of it into 32 hats for Halos of Hope or other charitable donation.  I had also crocheted other hats for donation in different yarn that I didn’t include in the count.  I was pretty busy with hats that year.  Last year’s challenge didn’t focus on any yarn in particular, just random yarn in my stash.  Last year I made 24 hats out of 5 pounds, 4.25 ounces!  I must have made some pretty heavy hats!

It would seem that most of my stash yarn would be close to gone at this point. Sadly, no.  I still have too many boxes of yarn.  So 2015 will once again be all about working from stash yarn for charitable causes. This year’s goal will be a minimum of 24 hats and 5 pounds of yarn.  I’ve got some funky fun fur that needs to used and a ton of cotton and cotton-blends that will be perfect for chemo hats.  I also hope to make a lapghan or two.

Let’s start this challenge off with the first 3 hats of 2015 completed!

Hat for Halos for Hope, crocheted by Darleen HopkinsThe first is called End’s Swell.  I won this pattern in the Gift-A-Long on Ravelry last month.  It is stitched with slip stitches which was totally new to me.  The final result is adorable.  The pattern is a great way to use up smaller leftovers without having to work in a million ends.  I can see making more of these in random stripes as leftovers come available.

Divine Hat for Halos of Hope, crocheted by Darleen HopkinsNext is another Divine Hat.  This is a great pattern and my third one.  I used Caron Simply Soft for this one.  It looks great but, going forward, I’ll use thinner yarns when making this pattern.  I loved it in Caron Spa.

Happy Puppy Hat, crochet pattern by Darleen HopkinsLast is a Happy Puppy.  Last month I re-worked the pattern in Vanna’s Choice by Lion Brand.  I also re-formatted the pattern and took new pictures.  The pattern was originally written with Bernat  Denim Style-a great cotton/acrylic blend.  Unfortunately this yarn has been discontinued.  I (of course) have a few skeins of it in my stash and found this hat partially finished.  Because Denim Style is super soft and perfect for chemo hats, I finished it and will include it in my next batch of hats to Halos of Hope.

This 2015 challenge is on and off for a good start!

The three hats weigh 7 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 3

Total weight of yarn used in the 2015 Stash Bust Challenge to date: 7 ounces

CrochetForMen

 

Stash Bust 2014, Final Update

Last, but not least… but what is it?

Critter Hat for Halos of Hope, chemo charity crochet hat

Critter Hat

December 31, 2014 and my last hat of the year for the 2014 Stash Bust Challenge was just finished.  I didn’t think I’d have time for another hat this year but then remembered this hat I had started a couple of months ago and hadn’t finished.  There’s a reason I didn’t finish it…fun fur/eyelash yarn.  I’m not a fan of this type of yarn but for some reason (clearance aisle a few years ago!) there are a few skeins of this stuff in my possession. UGH.  There’s no pattern for this critter.  I just made a hat.  As it progressed it was kinda large so I added some super bulky yarn as an edging to tighten it up.  Then, to use up what was left, made some ears-why not?-to create a critter of some sort.  The edging part is pretty tight on Buffy’s head so I’m hoping it will fit a large child.  The good news is I used up all the super bulky and the dark blue fur yarn, less than a yard leftover of each, and created a hat some child will (hopefully) like. The bad news, I have more of this fur stuff, lots more.

This hat weighs 4.25 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2014 Stash Bust Challenge: 24
Total weight of the hats made for donation in 2014: 5 pounds, 4.25 ounces!

Check back in a week or so for a new 2015 Challenge!

Stash Bust 2014, Mid December Update

Purple Butterscotch for Halos of Hope

Butterscotch Cream crochet hat made for Halos of Hope
Here’s the second hat for December in my 2014 Stash Bust Challenge.  This is the Cable and Rib Slouchy Hat from Red Heart.  I really like this pattern.  It uses short rows for the crown shaping and it’s pretty easy.  When I was a little more than half-way through I realized I wouldn’t have enough purple yarn (Caron Simply Soft) so I added the blocks of cream to get the needed circumference.  The only other modification I made was a slight adjustment to the brim.  I’d like to add a pom-pom but I’m going to wait until I have a chance to crochet another Divine Hat with the remaining cream yarn as I don’t want to run short.  If there’s enough cream left over, I’ll make a pom-pom for this hat.  If not, it looks good as is!

This hat weighs 3.5 ounces.

Total hats made in the 2014 Stash Bust Challenge: 23
Total weight of the hats to date: 5 pounds!