Roving Color Bomb

There’s been a color explosion over at my Etsy Shop recently as I listed some beautiful rovings that I dyed over Spring Break – along with some other new summer goodies!

This was the largest dye session I’ve managed yet, and I’m happy to say that my process has come a long way since my first foray into fiber dyeing. Here’s a peek at the madness I unleashed on my poor kitchen! It all starts with coffee, of course.

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And here’s the results!

I dyed 4 braids of that earthy multicolored green and brown; it’s a generic wool blend from Dharma Trading Co. – no wool breed listed, but it spins up super nicely. The other three or so braids became faux dreadlocks using a combination of spinning and felting.

I also split the “Mango Punch” colorway BFL braid into thirds and spun one of the thirds for quality control purposes and also because I couldn’t help but play with some of that luscious color after all that work! It spun really beautifully paired with a deep emerald BFL roving from my stash into a bright art yarn I call “Jungle Juice.”

The other 2/3rds of that braid is listed in my shop at a discount since it’s already split!

As much as I am enjoying classes, I’m antsy and anxious as hell for the freedom to keep dyeing and spinning and stitching without other obligations. But I need to buckle down and finish the semester.

Well, maybe just one more row.

-MF

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I Sing a Song of Plastic Bag Yarn

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Out of all the materials I have ever crocheted with, I would have to say one of the most fun and rewarding is Plarn. For those of you who don’t know, “plarn” is the common terminology for “yarn” or cordage made from repurposed plastic grocery bags (plastic + yarn = plarn).

Despite the name, plarn actually contains no yarn and is made up entirely of strips from these grocery bags. Many countries have put initiatives in place to stop the enormous amount of plastic grocery bags from entering landfills and polluting the environment – but in America, we are mostly still woefully wasteful when it comes to these things.

That’s why it’s so satisfying to turn them into art instead!  Also it’s like SOOOOOO FREEEEE.

Did I mention how durable this stuff is? You may not think that plarn would be strong, since grocery bags are relatively weak, but once you combine and stitch them, they are astonishingly durable. The first plastic bag yarn bag I ever made was in 2010, a nice simple drawstring mesh bag. For 6 years I have crammed my shower supplies and towels in that thing and dragged it from camping trips to festivals to cross-country journeys and it’s still holding up. Mind you, I have not treated the poor thing gently at all. That’s how strong this stuff can be!

I won’t show you a picture of that bag, since it is pretty dingy after all that back woods hippie behavior, but I do have a few others to show. Here’s one from 2012…

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I used tapestry crochet for the trunk on the flap of this messenger bag and then slip stitched the green plarn on the surface to make a swirling leaf design.

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If you’re friends are nice enough, they will save you special colored plastic bags and you can make something like this mandala messenger style bag out of colorful plarn!

There’s lots of different ways to make plastic bag yarn, so I’ve collected a few links to tutorials I find most helpful to narrow down the search:

This HubPage article by Moira Durano-Abesmo demonstrates both the double-strand and the single-strand method for creating plarn (I use the double strand method)…

…while this Hubpage article by the same author talks about ways to make plarn softer by spinning it or working it.

Look At What I Made has a great post about making plastic bag “thread” for use in smaller plastic bag projects. Also, she mentions that plastic bags in the UK are mostly biodegradable now and therefore not good for use in projects you want to last! Again, here in wasteful America this isn’t a consideration, but something to keep in mind for readers from other countries.

Another great video on making plarn and then spinning it can be found on Youtube in a video from Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

Of course, there’s a million billion awesome creative uses for this plastic bag yarn once you’ve made it. I tend to make bags (I call them Bag Bags), but one simple Pinterest search will overwhelm you with other ideas – like this awesome Hammock project from Too Many Hobbies, Too Little Time.

One thing I searched for but couldn’t find was a tutorial for the “whole bag method” that was taught to me by someone who used it to make recycled plastic rope. It’s stunningly simple AND you don’t have to worry about throwing away those pesky handles!

The theory is similar to the double strand method, only you use entire bags to make the loops instead of strips of a single bag. To start, you need some plastic bags (duh) and scissors.

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Take the scissors and cut down the side of the bag, from the bottom of the handle opening down to the seam at the bottom. Repeat for the other side.

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Grasp the bottom seam in one hand and the top handles in the other, and smoosh the entire bag into one big loop.

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Grab another bag and repeat, making other big loop.

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Overlay the loops and pull one back through itself, creating a knot.

Continue making whole bag loops and looping them together. The cordage that this makes is really thick and stronger than normal plarn, especially if you twist or braid whole strands of this stuff together into rope!

It’s so thick that I haven’t tried to crochet plarn (plope?) made from this method, although I am sure there are intrepid bulky crocheters or knitters out there that have done so or will do. What about you? Have you worked with plarn, and if so, what do you like to make with it?

-MF

 

Sol Halter Top

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Drawing on inspiration from the numerous cute crochet halter tops that pop up on my Pinterest feed, I’ve designed a  free spirited crochet halter top pattern that’s quick, cool, and comfortable!

It’s the Sol Halter Top, available for 5.50 USD on Ravelry or Etsy.

 

This halter top goes anywhere from beach to festivals to yoga class! The top is designed for coverage and comfort while still feeling free to be your awesome self.

The Sol Halter top is designed for a comfortable, supportive fit that still looks fashionable with any outfit. Looks pretty layered with flowing see-through blouses, denim shorts, or long tiered skirts for a cool bohemian style.

Size Small fits A to lower B cup sizes, size Medium fits upper B to mid- C range cup sizes, with a band size up to about 44” for both sizes (measurement includes tie length – 20” at the bottom of the halter + 12” for each tie)

Pattern includes detailed, step-by-step directions with stitch counts and tutorial photos. Best of all, it only uses one skein of the recommended yarn, making it a cute and super affordable gift for your friends or just for yourself!

Yarn Weight required: #4 Worsted Weight
Hook size: 3.5 mm
Pattern written in US crochet terminology

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For bigger cup sizes, check out my Plus Size Sol version of this pattern!

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-MF

Just One Picture of Yarn

Well, I’ve reached the annoying point in the semester where pretty much all my time is going to be consumed by schoolwork until the welcome relief of semester break (only a few days away thank goodness).

Fortunately I’ve been doing a lot of hush-hush work on a new pattern over the past couple of weeks and I should be able to release it shortly after break starts. UN-fortunately this means I have almost zero interesting stuff to show you on this blog. How about a nice picture of yarn?

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Check out how sweet that shot is! It’s because I finally invested in a lightbox, and let me tell you, the results were WELL worth it. It’s kind of a cheapie from Ebay, and the directions are written in Chinese, but it definitely does the job – clarity is great and the texture and colors really pop.

Speaking of texture, that’s a 2-ply merino spun from roving from my LYS. I just love the warm beige speckled in with the slate blue!

That’s it, really. Soon I will have crochet projects here out the wazoo, but for now it’s the books for me. Meanwhile, you could check out my Pinterest crochet board, which now has 1,000 awesome pins on it!

-MF