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Hubby models the new scarf, which he should not assume means it is his to keep.

Hubby models the new scarf, which he should not assume means it is his to keep.

As the cool weather settles in, I feel the call to start knitting. My first project of the season was a simple scarf made with the chunkiest of the alpaca yarn I bought earlier this summer on Martha’s Vineyard. I decided to make something with a slightly open weave, since the yarn itself was so thick and warm.

I used a basic Faggot Stitch (what an unfortunate name), which you can see here, but I only cast on 9 stitches to start with. The result is rather nice, and it is genderless, so Hubby and I can fight over who gets to use it.

This is a good start to my autumn knitting! I think my next project will be with the soft, fine yellow and green yarns Thing 1 choose for herself. I’m going to try the feather and fan pattern, which should make a pretty wave pattern for her scarf. It’s a bit beyond my current skill set, but I’m not going to improve my knitting if I don’t keep reaching for things just beyond my competency level.

Yesterday I was taken over by a need to try something new, so I decided to try making laundry soap. I had purchased the ingredients a few weeks back and was planning to make it when my tub of “environmentally friendly” detergent from Costco ran out, but it appears that this tub of mediocre washing goo has broken the laws of physics and is somehow bottomless. I am tired of waiting to run out of so-so stuff to try something more interesting! (I promise I’ll use the rest of the “environmentally friendly” goo for towels, at least, because I don’t want to be wasteful).

Grating the Fels Naptha took a while, but it was easier once I switched from the microplane grater to the box grater.

Grating the Fels Naptha took a while, but it was easier once I switched from the microplane grater to the box grater.

I have seen a few recipes for liquid detergents that look gloopy and icky, but then I found a recipe for a dry version at Debt Free Adventure. I modified this a bit to make use of the Fels Naptha bars I had already bought rather than using Ivory bars. I tested this recipe on three loads, two of which were darks and one lights (which included a white T-shirt smeared with guacamole). The clothing came out really clean, except for the guac which needed a second run, though to be fair that was a lot of green fatty stuff on white which would be hard for any detergent. Everything smelled clean but not perfumed, which is nice.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  1. Grate the Fels Naptha bar. I tired using a microplane grater, which took forever and made little curls, and the fine side of my box grater, which was faster and produced fine soap powder.
  2. Stir together borax, washing soda, and grated soap until well combined.
  3. Dump it all into a container for storage and seal. Use 1-2 Tbs. per load of laundry, depending on the size of your machine.
The final product stuffed with alpaca yarn.

The final product stuffed with alpaca yarn.

Last year while browsing a local crafts gallery  in Provincetown I noticed some throw rugs made from strips of T-shirts crocheted together. I loved the idea, and it seemed like the sort of project that I could handle with my basic crocheting skills. Since then any worn out or outgrown T has been secreted away into a growing pile, and today I began using my pile of treasure to create.

The first step is to cut the T shirts into strips by laying them flat and cutting straight across from side to side to form big loops. I had tried doing this by hand with scissors, and that was awful. I really recommend using a rotary cutter to preserve your sanity and produce consistently straight lines. The “yarn” is made by pulling the loops through one another to form a chain.

For my first attempt I cut the T’s into 1″ wide strips. The largest hook I have is 10 mm, which is just a little too small to handle the 1″ wide strips, though I did work a row just to see what the texture was like. It came out pretty close to the weight of the rugs I had seen in P-town, and as soon as I get a bigger hook I’m going to go ahead and finish a rug.

I decided then to try a thinner strip, and I cut 5 T’s into 1/2″ strips. This thickness produced a slightly lighter fabric, which seemed ideal for making small baskets, placemats, bags, and belts. I figured I’d try to make a small basket to hold my alpaca yarn while I figure out what to make with it. I’m moderately pleased with the results, though the basket is a little soft, and I wish I had prepared more “yarn” to make it a little bigger or give it handles. I think next time I’ll wait until I have twice as many T’s and make a taller farm basket with handles to use while harvesting things from the garden.

One note of caution if you try this at home: when you cut T-shirts, be prepared for a lot of lint dust to coat everything around you. As far as messy crafts go, this is pretty mild, but you don’t want to work this around anything sensitive to dust, like computers or wet paint.

August 2017
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About me

I am on a personal and professional quest to find a happier, healthier, greener and more cost effective way to live life in the suburbs.