Sunday, June 2, 2013

Use It Up! -- What to Do with Leftover Material

In one of my earlier blogs, I mentioned a rhyme my grandmother taught me:

“Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.”

A couple of the Annake's Garden members have been working to use up leftover materials, both our own and each other's. This is how it came about.

Sunflower Quilt
I've spoken before about the making of quilts and comforters as the classic example of recycling. One of our artisans has decided to concentrate on quilting exclusively from now on, so she has been cleaning out her craft cupboards. (You can see one of her quilts in the accompanying photo.) She generously donated some leftover fabric to another member and brought me a tall kitchen trash bag full of balls and skeins of yarn. In return, I was able to share some Hawaiian quilt patterns with her.

 A "Patchwork Princess" Dress
The fabric recipient started piecing together rectangles from her fabric windfall to make little girls' sundresses. These are very cute, with lined bodices, shoulder straps, and tiered skirts. They would also serve as swimsuit coverups or jumpers. We call them “Patchwork Princess“dresses. Needless to say, no two are even remotely alike.

I decided to turn the small and medium balls of yarn into what I call “scrapgans”. These are yard-square or meter-square afghans that are perfect for throws, baby blankets, lap robes, etc. They are based on traditional granny squares with some modifications of my own. By their nature, each is unique. In fact, I couldn't duplicate one of them if I tried. I have had great fun working out color schemes and figuring out how many rounds each ball or skein would provide. (I've only miscalculated once and run out of a yarn short of a round in the making of the last five scrapgans.)

A "Scrapgan"
I start with a yarn combination that will give me one of several typical granny squares about eight inches on a side. I join new yarn at a corner and work a full corner, rather than a half, ending the round(s) with a slip stitch in the first corner stitch. Then I slip stitch across to the middle of the corner, secure the yarn, and break it off there. This produces a very slight ridge in the stitches, but makes a much more secure joining. Then I move ahead one corner, join the next yarn, and proceed with additional rounds, increasing as needed on each round. I do only complete rounds. By moving ahead for each change, the little ridges do not accumulate at any corner, but are distributed all the way around. I combine different colors of yarn used in the body of the scrapgan to make tassels.

ripple afghan in progress
This technique of using leftover yarns can be used to produce more conventional afghans, of course. You can see here a picture of a ripple afghan I have in progress. Once I reach the midpoint, I will repeat the sequence of color rows in reverse. If you prefer the hit-or-miss approach of the afghan on the March 15, 2013 blog, you can use up any number of yarns in a continuous repeat of any stitch pattern you like. This causes a lot of yarn splices in the middle of rows, however, and I prefer to avoid that.

Very small balls of leftover yarn go into cardboard or foam egg cartons for use in needlepoint ornaments for next Christmas. I pierce the top of the carton over each section and thread the yarn from each ball through its own hole. That way the yarns don't get tangled and I can see at a glance what colors are available for use.

Even small scraps of yarn can be put to good ecological use. Put them in a perforated container like a mesh bag or a lattice strawberry basket from the grocery store. Hang them in a shrub, being sure that they are beyond the reach of neighborhood cats. The local birds will use them, in addition to their natural building materials, to make and line their nests. If you are lucky, a bit of bright-colored yarn may help you to locate a nest and watch the nestlings as they grow up. (The birds also like dryer lint for a soft bedding for their babies.)

Happy recycling!

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1 comment :

  1. I love the idea of collecting beautiful scraps--and the end result is serenity itself in the sunflower quilt.


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