Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Do Your Research Before Up Cycling With Unconventional Materials

It's great to up-cycle materials, right?  It keeps old stuff out of the waste stream by converting it into something that is useful again when it's original function is no longer wanted or feasible.  Old torn t-shirts? Cut them up into a string of t-shirt yarn and crochet with it!  The torn areas can even be worked into the new rug or handbag you make out of it without much fuss.  Use the coffee cup that the handle has broken off of to hold your crochet hooks, or use it as a candle holder or planter.  Maybe send it to my mosaic tiling friend who will break it up and make beautiful things from the pieces.  Dad's old necktie collection?  Sew them together into a pillow cover or a handy wallet and enjoy the memories they bring to mind.

However, it is important to do a little research about more unconventional materials you think might be useful as up-cycling ingredients.  Lately, I have been feeling restless (a combination of cabin and spring fevers, I guess), and I have been thinking about reusing or removing some of the clutter I have accumulated in life so far.  Gazing upon the wall full of old cassette music tapes I own, I thought, "I wonder if I could crochet something with all that tape?!"  I've seen people crochet bags and such from videotape.  I'm so glad I started to dig into how others have done it before I just started trying!

Turns out, there are a lot of toxic things that typically flake off of that magnetic tape when it is freed from its cassette casing that can endanger you as you manipulate it, and can pollute your immediate environment as well as the world in general.  Exposing the tape to air while you work with it, and/or when the finished product is used, causes the tape to shed chemicals.  Some of the substances in the 'black dust' that can hang in the air or settle on and around you while you work include magnetite, a.k.a. iron oxide , cobalt (poison), and chromium dioxide (lung irritant when inhaled).  Trace amounts and limited exposure to these substances don't usually present a health problem, but long-term use does not appear to be a good thing.  Especially if you are crocheting with it in your home, with pets and children running around, without a face mask.  And since nothing really goes 'away', I can't believe that unleashing these chemicals, even in trace amounts, into the wastewater when I wash my hands, or into the air, is a good thing, either.

So I will be looking into how to safely dispose of my tape collection at our solid waste authority, and move on to the next potential upcycling opportunity.  Hmmm.  I wonder if I can turn those hardcover books into shelves, like I've seen on Pinterest...

Monday, June 13, 2016

Eye Masks Sooth and Comfort!

I have been making cotton eye masks for this spring and summer!  With record pollen counts, and weather fronts coming and going, these have been needed, for sure.  These are my own design - crocheted with USA grown worsted weight cotton.

A wide ribbon allows the wearer to adjust the fit for comfort, and a set of round eye pads can be used for added darkening for sleeping, or for warm or cold compressing to ease headaches and sinus pain.  I love putting the damp pads in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, then putting them on and securing them with the mask - aaaahhhhhh!

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Banner Is Here!

I have been struggling with finding a design that fits my business for some time.  Crochet hooks and motifs are not very abundant in the marketing world (hmmmm, maybe a new niche?).  
I found one design through Staples for my business cards, but they did not have the design available in banner form.  Fortunately, Vistaprint did!!  I am very excited that I'm able to present a consistent 'look' on all of my signs, as well as my banner and business cards now.  Can't wait for market this week to hang this up!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

It's Baseball Season!

A happy customer in her new hat!
Many colors and sizes available.
Last year, I began offering cotton baseball caps for kids at my market booth.  They are my own design.  I wanted to offer a hat that was more appealing for boys as well as girls.  They were well received, so this year I am adding more inventory and offering more sizes.  Custom color choices are available as well.
Baseball cap with rose flower clip.

I am using worsted weight,  USA grown 100% cotton for these hats. The weight provides just enough structure for the brim, while providing a soft, cool feel.  They look very cute on kids!  They can be glammed up with flower clips for the girly-girls, too.

Right now I am not offering these hats in adult sizes.  I am working out how to stiffen the brim on larger sizes.  The brim has to be longer and flatter to give the proper eye shade on larger heads.  So far doubling the yarn hasn't given me the results I seek, and I haven't found an ecofriendly brim stabilizer that retains its structure after a trip in the washing machine.  I'd appreciate any ideas from fellow hat makers out there!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Pretty Custom Little Girls' Hats

This winter, I spent a considerable amount of time completing custom hat orders!  They were so fun to do, and I am very pleased with the results.  I used Debbie Bliss organic, free trade Ecobaby cotton yarn.  So soft and a perfect weight for spring.

These hats were made by eyeballing photos posted on Facebook, as the original pattern was written in Russian. (I found the only English translation I could find to be incomprehensible to me.)  They are beautiful, yet time consuming, so I likely won't make them for general sale - just custom orders.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Versatile Designs for Variable Weather

The weather has been so topsy-turvy here, I never know what I'm going to need from morning to evening to stay comfortable!  Two days ago our high was 84 degrees F and humid. This morning it was in the high 30's, and by late afternoon it reached 60 degrees F with a cool breeze.

Soooo.... I've been working on some designs that can function as either scarves or shoulder wraps. I like the pairing of a geometric mesh stitch paired with a shell or puff stitch pattern.  I am striving for a more modern look with just a touch of softness.

I'm using Debbie Bliss Ecobaby fair trade sport weight organic cotton yarn.  Very soft and just right for adding a little warmth around the neck, or a cool cover over the shoulders in the sun.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ecofriendly Yarn Hunt!

I am on a serious hunt for additional sources of ecofriendly yarns!  I am specifically looking for fiber grown and processed in the USA, but I am not limiting myself completely to USA products.  I am investigating buying wholesale supplies in order to offer the yarns themselves to my customers over the coming year, in addition to my finished items.  So far, I've found some really interesting ventures, and I will post here as well as on Facebook about them as I go.

First, I'll start locally (for me):  Home Again Farm, 37098 Schell Road & Route 26, Theresa, NY 13691-2226; 315-628-5302; http://www.homeagainfarmalpacas.com/

Home Again Alpaca Farm was originally established in 1831 as a dairy farm, and is now owned and operated by the family's sixth generation.  They converted to alpaca farming in 2005, and have a current herd of 20 alpacas. The farm also grows grapes for local wineries.

Home Again encourages "slow, 'drive by' viewing" or calling to make an appointment for a full farm tour and personal introduction to the alpacas.  Schools and organizations are encouraged to visit!  Experiencing the farm is truly a joyous treat - I wrote about my family's 2010 visit here:  http://lindagibbshandmade.blogspot.com/2010/05/our-visit-with-alpacas.html

The farm also has a lovely gift shop that offers yarn and roving made from the fur of the alpacas on the farm.  The yarn is processed near Syracuse, about 100 miles away.  If you are not a fiber artist or crafter, they offer many finished items made with alpaca yarns by both local artisans and by artists in collectives in South America, supporting alpaca and human well being in Peru.