Sunday, May 17, 2015

And Now For Something Completely Different: Yarn Edition!

I've enjoyed crocheting over the years, but put it aside for quite awhile because my toddlers inevitably wound themselves in my yarn and made it difficult to accomplish much!  Recently, I got this big urge to pick up my crochet hook again, and figured the girls are old enough now to stay untangled. 

I want the chance to crochet, but I don't really have anyone to crochet for, so I decided to focus on blankets for babies and small children.  I plan to donate them to a local food and clothing bank when the cold weather comes back again.  I am guessing that I will have a nice little stack of blankets by the fall, and my mother is joining me in the project, so that will double our donation.

Right now I am working on two blankets at once.  Once is a bit coarser variegated yarn, where one color changes into another color along the strand:
The other is a super-baby-soft yarn in cream and light green; I still have several more squares to add for this one to be completed: 
My favorite part of the process is crocheting the squares.  A little less fun, but still satisfying, is sewing the squares together.  My least favorite part of the process, and the part I haven't started tackling yet, is hiding all those crazy yarn ends!

One great thing about crocheting as a creative outlet is that I can put all my needed supplies in one little basket, and take it wherever I want to work on it.  My six-year-old took this picture of me crocheting in my favorite corner of the family room, but I also like working in a chair across the room from this sofa, as well as upstairs in Studio 791.  Have crochet hook, will travel!

My crochet companion is Stella, my 18-year-old kitty.
For another recent yarn project, I made my own wool dryer balls.  Dryer balls take the place of fabric softener, which contains all kinds of toxic chemicals that have no business on my clothing and thus on my skin.  Several of the chemicals in dryer sheets are on the EPA's list of toxic hazardous waste, and have been tied to central nervous system disorders, cancer, and respiratory disorders.  For more details, I invite you to do your own search of "fabric softener chemicals" to find information from sites you trust.  In place of my old Downy and Bounce, I found Woolzies dryer balls in the Isabella catalog.  I asked for them one Christmas and have been using them for years--long after their intended life span!

When it became obvious that they were ready to discard, I decided to make my own, using skeins of real wool from the craft store.  I had clipped a couple of magazine articles with directions, and also watched a YouTube video that demonstrated just how simple the process is. 
I chose to wind the yarn in a small ball, then felt it inside a sock in a hot washer and dryer before winding some more to create a bigger ball, which I then felted again to make it ready for service.  (There are a couple of versions of directions for making these.)
The balls work even better than the Woolzies brand in my opinion!  I'm only using three rather than six.  They truly cut the drying time of my clothing, and if I don't run too long of a drying cycle, static cling is not a big problem.  Clothing comes out very soft whether I'm using the store-bought or handmade dryer balls. 

If I want scent, I can add some drops of essential oils to the balls and they will infuse the smell into my clothing.  I have gotten used to "clean" smelling like nothing rather than a manufactured scent, so I haven't bothered to try this. 
I used three skeins of wool yarn ($10.99, but I used a 40% off coupon for each of them) to make ten balls.  I gave three to a friend as a gift, am using three myself right now, and have some in reserve for the future.  It's a much better buy than store-bought, and I had the mindless therapy of rolling the yarn balls to boot!


Anne said...

Your afghans look great -- some babies are going to be very cozy come winter. Think I may have to try those dryer balls because the static cling with my laundry is terrible. Is there anything you won't try??!

Parabolic Muse said...

Andria!! That cat!

Let's face it: that picture of you is fabulous.