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When Trash Becomes Treasure, or Supply and Demand

31 May upholstery detail

Its been a while since I put pen to paper (literally). In fact, other than the odd check or weekly supermarket lists, its been years.

It will probably happen with greater frequency over the course of the summer as I sit by the pool, amidst the screams and splashes of joyous kids, while my kids frolic in the water.

I haven’t written a post in quite a while, not because I have been slacking, on the contrary. The pile of unfinished projects in the corner of the studio is growing just as fast as the materials needed to complete them is dwindling, once again proving the point that the value we assign objects is subjective and subject to change at any given moment.

One moment they are shopping bags stuffed listlessly, and guiltily under the sink and in the next they are a valuable material that has been totally used up, every last one pull out of every nook and cranny in the house, and I still find myself about 500 short of completing the carpet. Into the corner goes the half finished carpet and while I wait for the bags to multiply once again and out come the chairs from my old shop that I need to reupholster, and the pile of jeans I intend to use to do so. Once again the amount of jeans I had set aside for the project fell just short of what I needed to complete the fabric for the chairs, and they too joined the pile in the corner.

 upholstery detail

Out came to old, torn, ugly sheets, soon to be place mats and carpets and once again, all to soon they find themselves half finished in the corner.

detail sheet carpet

I have been upcycling quite intensively for just over 6 months now, and something needs to change in the way I am working. I need to find a way to source materials in decent quantities, for free, so that I can work a project, or a series from beginning to end without having to wait till I grow to fat or to thin for my current pairs of jeans. It would be wonderful if all of this could happen for free.


The Perfect Solution For Lost Socks – Crochet Lost Socks Basket!

1 Feb

Have you ever wondered where all the lost socks go? I know that I am not the only one who keeps on buying new socks because in some mysterious way, I always end up with a bunch of non related socks.

It’s not as if I was raised or am raising my family to leave one sock outside and throw the other one into the laundry hamper. It’s as if there are casualties if not fatalities in the journey of the socks from our dirty feet to the clean sock draw. I would say that about 40% of the socks never make it back. They just vanish into thin air. Maybe they are kidnapped by a monstrous sock napper that lives in the laundry hamper or  maybe they are munched up by a ravenous washing machine or ripped of the clothes line by a stealth sock ripper. Who knows. What ever the case is, their sock spouses need a place to wait hopelessly for them to return from wherever it is they disappeared to, because sometimes they do.

 To this purpose, I decided to make a lost sock basket, in which all the lone socks would gather and save us the trouble of digging through piles of single socks in the hopes of finding a pair.

 Since I am enjoying the look and the texture of the crochet baskets from plastic bags I decided that this was the route I would take for the lone socks basket, but I wanted to explore other patterns than the one I have been using.

 The complete book of crochet

I have an old book that used to belong to my mother called The Complete Book Of Crochet and  it is copyright 1946 and the edition I have is from 1972. I was 5 years old when my mother bought this. She made quite a few things out of it, and I remember this book as always being around. It seems appropriate to me that now that my own daughter is 5 years old I use some of the patterns in it. As a matter of fact, I have had it for the past couple of years, and have been dying to make something, but doilies and crochet table clothes, as beautiful as they are seem kind of dated to me. Taking one of the patterns and using it with the much coarser plarn, instead of with delicate, thin cotton seemed the thing to do.

chair back 7722

I am not going to copy the entire pattern here, but you can see it on the scan (its # 7722. If you click on the image it will open much larger).

I adapted it to the size I wanted since I was working with a different size plarn than the weight it was originally planned for, the important thing is the sequence of the different crochet stitches. Since I do most of this in the evening, after I have finished all the other things I have to do, my concentration is less than optimal, and I found that I had to pull out just about as much as I crocheted.


For some reason I was surprised with the result was a bit floppy. I am not sure why because it is quite big so it makes sense that it would be. I solved that easily enough with wooden Skewer in all 4 corners. If I wanted it to be a magazine basket instead of a sock basket, I could strengthen the top with skewers too.

Now I want an Idea for something I could make out of a traditional doily pattern. Any thoughts?

How To Twine A Placemat Out Of Newpaper, Even If You Have Never Done It Before

26 Dec

It seems as if I am back in the swing of things. A couple of days ago I finished what seems to be my first “placemat”. The inverted comers are there because it doesn’t look like a place mat I would use, and might still be in the realm of classroom crafts. When I complained to R about it he said “well, what do you expect, its not as if you were born twining, learning new things takes time” and I guess he was right.

Learning new skills and techniques take time. This is my second attempt at twining with newspapers, or twining in general. Last time I tried, I found out how important it was for the newspaper sticks to be totally straight. I also thought it would be better to start twining in the middle of the piece by folding a stick in half an alternately going to the left and then to the right.

I think this could be used to create interesting textures, if you alternate the spoke you start on, potentially zigzagging across the piece making interesting textures. I might try that somewhere down the road.

The next piece I try I will work from one end to the other and see if I can make everything square out a bit more.

Even though I measured equal distances for my stakes, somehow, while working,  they didn’t stay parallel, especially the external ones, and I started getting a  trapeze shaped piece instead of a rectangular one.

This would usually be enough to send me running away, screaming and pulling my hair out, but as R said, learning is a process, and funky shaped pieces is part of that.

 After I saw things were getting a bit out of shape I decided to do a “keeper line”, kind of a boarder that would go around my piece and catch the ends of the twining at the end of each row. In that way, I thought, I could also stop the stakes from moving sideways and widening the trapeze. It did help a bit.

One think is for sure, on the next piece I make, I will make sure to slide my ruler down as I work and keep squaring out the distances between the stakes. Wobbly and crooked is ok if that is what you want, but it wasn’t what I wanted at all in this case.

Finishing the piece is something I haven’t quite worked out yet.  I weaved the stakes back into the plastic I twined around, and it doesn’t look to bad. If there wasn’t a color difference, then it would have been perfect. I am not too happy with then ends of the cross twines.

All I did was chop them off at the ends, after twinning them together with the yellow plastic bags. I thought that the best thing to do in this case would be to sew on a heavy fabric boarder. I will try that in the future, but currently lack both a working sewing machine and heavy fabric.

 I still have to try and coat it with polyurethane to waterproof it, something I am not looking forward to.

 If anyone has any experience with this technique I would love to get some pointers!

Yet Another Crochet Basket… And What Will Become With The Tin Cans

8 Dec

I always loved knitting. I loved seeing my mother and her sister knit. They would knit at superhuman speed in the eyes of a little girl, and the ticking of the knitting needles became the sound of home. Over the years, I have both knitted and crocheted quite a bit, although over the last few years, as I previously mentioned, not so much.

Crocheting the basket out of plastic bags bought my appetite for it back big time, and reminded me that a few months ago I unraveled a sweater that the kids go in a bag of  hand-me-down clothes we got.

Before the disposable age, a sweater that no longer fit was pulled out and made into something else. Today hardly anyone does that anymore. Just like the rest of the objects in our life, sweaters have also become disposable.

Since I didn’t like the sweater and the urge to knit had already begun nibbling at me, I pulled it out intending to knit something, but that is as far as I got.

While I was knitting the plastic bag basket, I remembered this yarn that I had already, and decided to make the same basket out of the ex sweater.

Of course, the crochet experience was more pleasant and the resulting texture more orderly. When you look at both baskets side by side its hard to believe that they are the result of the same pattern.

I enjoyed using both materials, and along with collecting more plastic bags it looks as if I will be collecting sweaters, old knitted blankets shawl’s and so on. Be warned 🙂

I am not sure I can say exactly At what point I started to get interested in arts and crafts from recycled materials, but for the past few months I have been in danger of being thrown out of my home because of the collection of tin cans that is growing on top of my fridge. I think they are beautiful exactly the way they are, and I do have a few dispersed in different rooms of my house on different missions.

Because I thought they were perfect just as they were, it was hard for me to think of things to make with them. Sometimes you need to leave things to ferment a bit, and it seems that the cans fall into this category.

Hopefully, I will be able to get round to using them in the next few days. I don’t want to let you in on what I want to do with them (although there are lots of simple stuff they can be used for like making stilts and old fashioned telephones. I will do that with the kids in the upcoming Hanukah Holidays).

  So, are you on the edge of your chair? I am…

How To Crochet a Basket Out Of Plastic Bags

7 Dec

As I said in my last post, I spent the last few days crocheting.


I always love knitting and crochet, but in the last couple of decades, except for crocheting in silver thread, I have not done any at all.

Being a goldsmith took all my creative resources and there was nothing left for other creativity or art.

I had not intended to crochet the plastic bags. I thought I would work in a similar fashion to the way I had worked with the t-shirts, but since I wanted to try something else, and since my fingers were still punctured from the fabric basket, I decided to turn to something a bit more pleasant and familiar.

I know that I am a bit late joining this party and that many good people have been here before (Just a little spin on youtube was enough to make sure of that fact). In a way, it is a good thing. I don’t have to invent the wheel again, and I can learn from others what others have done.

So how, you might be asking do you make plastic bags into yarn?

What surprised me was the amount of bags I needed. Most of us at least here in Israel, live with the feeling that the cupboard under the sink is about to explode with the excess of plastic bags.  Even though most of the time I use reusable shopping bags, I also find that I have endless amounts of plastic bags under my sink, but it turns out, that when you need them, you don’t have enough.

I cut strips and more strips, and rolled balls and more balls, but I still had to stop crocheting a couple of times to make some more.

There is no argument about how harmful these bags are to the environment, but one thing is for sure – whoever engineered these bags did a darned good job of planning them with a bare minimum of material.

This time too, I wanted to make some sort of container, and found this basket after searching for free crochet patterns.

You can adjust this pattern for different sizes of square containers, and this is probably not the last of these I will be crocheting.

Crocheting in plastic bags is a lot less pleasant than crocheting with wool or cotton, but the result is a lot more pleasant than I expected. Of course, returning to crochet aroused my appetite for more, and a longing for cotton…. More about that in my next post.