Tuesday, December 22, 2009

100 Bags Project

Usually, when I crochet with plarn, I cut up about 50 bags to get started, then cut more as I need them; so by the time I'm finished, I'm never quite sure how many bags I've used. This time I decided to make 100 bags into plarn up front, then see how much of a bag I could make with them.

This is what 100 bags looks like. These are mostly Kroger bags, with a few others thrown in. I collected these from friends, family, and recycling bins.

I sliced them into 1 1/4" strips with my rotary cutter, and filled this storage tub to overflowing. Sorry for the bad photo quality--my flash isn't working, and it was a cloudy day. I had to edit heavily just to get it to this point.

I meant to take a picture of the two balls of plarn I ended up with, but once again, no flash, cloudy skies. But I did have sunny skies on the day I reached the halfway point:

That's 50 bags' worth of plarn that I've crocheted, and 50 bags' worth still wound into a ball. This will be a messenger bag when completed. I'm thinking about using a thrifted woven belt as the strap, and lining it with recycled twill.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Green" gift wrapping

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. My parents moved halfway around the world and accidentally took my USB cord with them. Shipping from where they are would be prohibitively expensive, so I had to find a new one. Turns out that it's rather hard to find USB cords for my almost-antique camera, but I finally found and ordered one online--once it arrives, I have lots of pictures for y'all. :)

Meanwhile, here's a great post I came across, by a blogger named Jessica, about how to make a gift bow from scrap paper. I personally think that items made from recycled materials usually have much more personality and character than items made from new, and this bow is a fine example of that philosophy!

Make a Gift Bow From a Magazine Page

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

White Plarn in Progress, part 2

I'm going in a different direction with this bag...it will be more of a handbag, and less of a tote. I like the shape of it, so far. However, lining it is going to be loads of fun.

This is the second ball of plarn I've used to create the sides of this bag. I wish I'd kept track of how many plastic bags went into each ball. If I had to guess, I'd say I've salvaged at least 50 bags so far.

I just discovered that the recycling center here doesn't accept plastic bags. Which makes me wonder, what happens to the bags that go into the recycling bins at Kroger and Walmart? Are they just getting thrown away? It wouldn't surprise me...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Work in progress--again

I set aside the misshapen bag for now--when the time feels right, I'll go back to it. Meanwhile, I'm making good progress on this white plarn bag (old-school Walmart bags with the black graphics, in case you're curious). This bag had been complete except for the handles, but in the end I decided that I just wasn't happy with it; so I ripped it back to its base (pictured above) and got back to work.

Funny thing is, this is the third time I've ripped it out and redone it. :) This time around, however, I have a pretty clear vision of where I'm going with it, so I'm optimistic that the final result will be something I'm satisfied with.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Organizing? Oops

I promised in my last post that I would organize my craft supplies, then post pictures. Sadly, I haven't gotten far. I filled an old bookcase with various craft supplies: various colors of plastic bags, squares and strips cut from worn-out clothing, yarn unraveled from old sweaters, etc.--all neatly organized into see-through storage boxes; and I hung a few larger pieces of material from skirt hangers in my closet. But that took care of only a third or fourth of my supplies, and I currently don't have a good place to arrange the rest (by "good" I mean accessible).

So I've put my organizing project on hold for now. At the end of November, I'll be switching to a different bedroom, one with two large closets; one will be my designated "craft closet." I can't wait!

Meanwhile, I decided to finish a year-old unfinished project. I cut some more plarn and have nearly finished off this large plarn tote. Obviously, it's still missing its handles, and its lining, but here's what I have so far:

However, I'm not happy with it yet. Look at the sides of the bag--see how wavy they are? (It looks worse in real life.) Being squished into a box for a year had warped this bag a bit. Plus, I guess I crochet a bit more tightly now than I did a year ago, so as I started to work on it again, the sides began to pull in--until I realized what was happening and loosened up a bit, at which point, of course, they started to bulge out.

It's normal for a plarn bag to not be perfectly smooth and even when it's first completed. Usually I am able to manually reshape a bag with my hands; then to get it just right, I pack it smoothly with something heavy like rolled-up pairs of jeans, and hang it from a doorknob for a few days. As it hangs, the stitches sort of "settle in" to one another and it smooths out (I do this before lining the bag).

But this one is a bit more uneven than usual, so I'll have to use more drastic measures. I'd like to soften it up a bit with a hot hair dryer before my usual "blocking" process, but I must confess that I don't own a hair dryer. :) I'll have to borrow one.

Ultimately, this bag would smooth out with regular use. My plarn bags always soften up and become smoother and more supple with use. This one has been going strong for close to two years now, and it looks great, except that the bottom has a couple of slightly frayed spots (which will happen when you routinely ask your two-year old to carry your purse from car to house, and he does so by dragging it along the sidewalk). But...I'll be selling this bag, not using it, so I need to get it properly shaped some other way.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Inspiration, and Organization

I seem to be lacking in inspiration lately. I have dozens of unfinished projects, but have not made any appreciable progress on any of them lately. I think my problem is my lack of organization. If I had all of my crafting supplies neatly organized and visible, I bet I would find plenty of inspiration. So my mission for this next week is to get my materials organized and visible. I'll post pictures when I have it done. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Utility Quilt

I love the idea of making utility quilts from old work clothes. I especially enjoy the texture of denim and twill fabrics. I have loads of material salvaged from old pairs of jeans and khakis, and decided to get started by using up the little bits first. This one is just four inch squares, many of them cut from the insides of pockets. It's sewn together with a half inch seam allowance. Here it is on the sewing machine:

The Kenmore sewing machine was my grandmother's, then my mother's. It's over fifty years old and has never once needed any repairs. It's pretty basic--only does forward and reverse, and buttonholes--but that's all I need for most of my projects. Oh, check out the nifty vintage pin box--also my grandmother's.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Washing Bags

I love to work with plarn, that is, plastic yarn, made from plastic bags. The thing is, I use cloth bags when I shop (at least, as long as I don't forget to bring them), so the majority of the bags I use for crafts come from recycling bins or friends' collections, meaning...I don't know what's been in them. I hate the thought of handling bags that have held raw chicken (ugh) so I feel like I ought to wash them.

The washing part is easy (machine wash, delicate cycle, with a squirt of dish soap), but drying them is more challenging! They can hang on the line for hours and still have droplets inside...I can go back and turn them all inside out and re-hang them, but that's tedious work. :) Still looking and hoping for an easier solution.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A doll quilt

Doll quilts are a great way to use up those little leftover bits of fabric. This one is a gift I made for a special little girl. I generally like to line quilts with recycled blankets, but in this case I had a scrap of polyester quilt batting that was just the right size. I backed it with some leftover muslin, machine quilted it, and wrapped it up with some tissue paper and a gift bag from my pre-used stash. Voila--a nice gift made entirely from materials I had on hand, no purchases necessary! The gift was more of a hit with the grown-ups than with the recipient, but I'm sure it will see some use in years to come.