Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Bit Beyond Crochet

   Today I'll let you in on a little secret...I get free crochet thread, and I keep some trash out of landfills while doing it.. Well, maybe its not entirely free, I do pay for the source it comes from. Do you have pets, and do you buy bags (food, litter, etc) which have string closing the ends? This is where my "free" thread comes from.
  On a side note, maybe there are products other than pet food which have string enclosures...I just don't know of any.
  I'd like for you to think of something: If you own a pet, or your pet owns you, it is most likely that you have some compassion for animals. Now, you buy your pet its favorite kibble to ensure its health and happiness. Then you throw the empty bag in the garbage. A few months later when the bag has disintegrated  in a landfill, there are the strings left over. We can all imagine what that could do if an animal ate it or got tangled in it.
  Now, imagine using that string for something with purpose...

So let's cover a bit of the basics I've learned about this material so far:

  • Some string is colored, but it is most commonly white.

  • There is string on both ends of the bag. The bottom string is usually more difficult to remove than the top.

  • The string will need to be cleaned with a good detergent or degreaser, especially if it is from a pet food bag. I find that the thread soaks in the smell/oil from the kibble.

  • Each string varies but is close to a yard in length. When collecting string, please don't just throw it into a bag or a box, hoping to someday pull out a magical roll of thread. Wrap it around something or roll it and secure it, or you will need a long time to untangle it. (I still blame the troll, everybody knows it's his job to steal and tangle things)

  • Most white string can be dyed after cleaning, but beware of the results. Whether it is treated with a stain blocker or is a different material, here are the results of what I colored all in the same batch. It's a surprise every time. I like the results. Maybe you don't.
So my original idea was to use this to make a set of cafe curtains for my small kitchen window. Then I thought better...That's a lot(!) of beginning joins and ends to weave in, small window or not. Now my thoughts are wandering about the subject...How can I use all this thread? My first idea was for crocheted jewelry. Other ideas like Christmas tree ornaments, refrigerator magnets, and cat toys are running through my mind. 
  But there's one thing you have to consider when using recycled materials: Will it last? The medium has already been used for another purpose, therefore compromising its strength. A refrigerator magnet and a cat toy will have very opposing levels of use. 
  This is where I say "recycle at your own risk". The magnet will most likely stay on a surface and not be handled much. The cat toy would be, well... Never to be seen again when it gets batted under the fridge that has the still-useful magnet on it. 
  On a serious note though, be mindful of what you make. You probably(?) don't want to make a rattle of recycled materials for a newborn baby, or have your house pet choke because a woven-in end came loose. Think ahead about what purpose your project will serve, how much abuse it will take, and if there is any danger in its use. 
  Recycling is not as important as SAFETY. But recycling is still important. Don't give up on the whole idea, there are plenty of other uses for your (hopefully) neatly wound ball of string.
  As stated above, not all string is equal. Some of the string I have been saving is of a nylon-like material.

 That would be okay if you have all the same kind, but mine is mostly cotton. I have set the odd string aside and use it for various things around the house such as:

  • Plant ties for the vegetable (or any) garden

  • Again in the garden, for marking where to plant. Measure the distance your plants should be apart, mark it on the string with permanent marker. Tie both ends to bamboo skewers or something of the sort to stick in the ground

  • I also love to make candles. I have not tried yet, but I'd like to see if the cotton thread can be used for candle wick.

  • Let kids paint with it, if you're prepared for a possible mess. Hmm, maybe that's a good outside project on a nice day...But really, forget the brushes. Give the (not too) little ones some bowls of paint, cut the string into about one-foot lengths, and let them experiment. Just don't be surprised if it turns into finger painting, and please, please supervise

  • String always comes in handy for tying up parcels, packages, or a boyfriend (Ha ha! No, its not strong enough for the last one, and I'm just making sure you're paying attention)   
  • Friendship bracelets are back in style, if they ever went out. Let 'tweens dye their own string. Most bag string is the perfect length for friendship bracelets. 

  So these are just a few of my thoughts. Do you have any? Whether it's a crochet project or a helpful tip for "oddball" string, I welcome you to share your own ideas with everyone.

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