For those of you not subscribed to our Facebook page, allow me to catch you up. On September 1st, we began our Fall KAL, with a pattern of my own design. As promised, this pattern is now available for all Naughty Knitterz, not just those on Facebook. (Though be sure to find us on Facebook! We’ll be starting another KAL soon!!!)
Over the past few years, it seems as if everyone is “Going Green”… current proposals where I live have local government discussing proposals to “Ban the Bag”, which would result in no more plastic shopping bags and a five cent charge for paper bags. So, as crafty types, this is a whole new realm to get involved in.
Many people ask, “Well, where can I start?” or “What is a good project to begin with?” Fortunately, there is a simple answer. In fact, it is so simple that it is easy to overlook! We started our household out with washcloths. Yep, an hour to make and a whole two dollars spent for two of them. This is also a great thing to pass along to friends and family – a set of three tied with a pretty ribbon and an organic bar of soap makes a great hostess gift!
Another option which is super popular is the cotton market bags. I’ve found several patterns for everything from a messenger bag size to totes to littler ones specifically for fruits and vegetables. The Lion Brand site has a couple really great patterns and Ravelry is always a terrific source. The thing about these that I really like about these patterns is that they’re customizable for any recipient (or yourself…) and can easily be adjusted in size or in color… just grab a different cotton!
Hand towels for the kitchen and bath, cute little reusable lunch totes, reusable coffee sleeves for those days when you forget your reusable mug, mug wraps for at home instead of using that paper towel, coasters, placemats, napkins. These are all fantastic, easy and decorative projects that are readily available. Look around your home and see what you can find… sometimes the inspiration for your next project may be in the last place you would think – like the top of a bottle of wine!
You’ll notice that a lot of these projects are made with cotton. There is, naturally (oh, yes, pun was intended), the debate between organic and regular cotton. In my opinion, yes, organic cotton is the better choice, and if you can find an organic bamboo/cotton mix, then that is stellar. However, that being said, I don’t like to spend eight or nine dollars on one little thing of yarn that is going to make me one washcloth. Call me crazy. I think the first step is to make products that are reusable and get not only yourself, but your friends and family into the habit of reusable goods as well.
One final thought… local farmers markets and fairs usually have farmers that spin their own wool (and if you’re really lucky and live in the southern part of the U.S., they should have cotton too!). Buy from them! Support your local growers. Not only are you helping build a sustainable local economy, you’re also cutting down on pollutants needed for shipping and manufacture of the mass market goods. Just make sure you are tossing those farmer’s market purchases in the tote that you made!
I recently purchased a wonderful book titled “AwareKnits” by pro knitter Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong (knitter and wife of Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong). Along with dozens of eco-friendly knitting and crochet patterns and tips, there was a fabulous section on Plarn- or plastic yarn.
Plarn can definitely take some getting used to while knitting but its actually fun to make and a clever way to recycle plastic shopping bags. Through trial and error I have some fantastic tips to get you Plarn-ing away.
Here are the supplies you will need:
- Flat surface
- Scissors or Exacto knife, depending on your preference.
- Oodles of plastic bags. More bags = more Plarn!
Try to make your bag as flat as possible and remove the handles. You can keep the handles to use as embellishment or just recycle them. Take your cutting implement of choice and make a one inch cut in the top of the bag at the seam going down. That will be the start of your strip. Cut in a spiral until the whole bag is one big strip (the book compares it to peeling an orange). Remember- the longer the strip, the fewer knots you have to tie.
From there, its just wash, rinse, repeat. Keep your strips in a pile until all of your bags are cut. I know it seems like a lot, but once you find your rhythm you’ll be turning out bags a lot more quickly. Once all of your bags are cut, tie them together. Knot them GENTLY so you do not tear the plastic but TIGHTLY because you’ll be knitting or crocheting with it. Snip the ends off the knots. Once they’re all knotted just ball it up and bada bing- PLARN!
Once you’ve made your Plarn there are many different things you can do with it. The book has a pattern for a bag, but you could do some really stellar art- deco items for the home or some mod or bohemian- esque jewelry. The possibilities are endless, and there are millions of bags out there.
Stitch on and remember to Knit Happy with your PLARN!!!
Red Heart’s Eco Ways Recycled Blend Yarn Review
- 70% acrylic, 30% recycled polyester
- 186 yards, 113 grams
- Machine wash warm – gentle cycle, tumble dry low
Because I make so many things for kids, and living in the Northwest…well, if you don’t use something with some form of recycled fibers people look at you like you have three heads. I saw this yarn on one of my trips to the craft shop for Fiber-fill. The Eco-Ways blend was on sale and I thought, hey I’ll give it a shot.
Overall, not too bad! While it does have a slightly “acrylic feel” to it while knitting, it doesn’t “squeak” or have a rough finish to it when the project is completed. I used this for two different projects (for a child’s ball and on a preschooler’s backpack) and am currently using it on a third project. The yarn is durable and holds up well under washing and drying.
I would recommend this for smaller projects or projects specifically for children – simply because you can toss it in the washing machine without worrying about what will happen to the piece. While the pattern given on the wrapper lists an afghan, I think this yarn might have too rough of a feel upon the completion of that project.
Definite bonuses: inexpensive (around $3), easy to care for, usually on sale! Unfortunately, the colors I’ve seen in the stores are all pretty neutral. The bright colors are only to be found on-line.
I found a really good selection at the JoAnn Fabric and Crafts website: www.joann.com