YarnCraft Episode 71 Transcript :: Eco‑Chic Projects Ways to Green Your Knitting Crochet

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You’re listening to YarnCraft. [music]


Zontee:  Welcome to YarnCraft. It’s episode 71 on July 20th, 2010. Thanks for joining us today. This is Zontee.

Liz:  And I’m Liz and we are the hosts of YarnCraft.

Zontee:  Stop by our website YarnCraft.LionBrand.com for more information on the patterns and products we talk about on today’s episode. You can also leave your comments there or give us a call and leave a voicemail at (774) 452‑YARN (7276). We always love sharing your stories, questions, and comments on the show.

Liz:  As usual we’re here at the Lion Brand Design Center in New York City and today we’ll be talking about eco-chic projects, projects that use eco friendly yarns as well as items that allow you to reuse and revamp things that you already own. Plus, Zontee shares with us some exciting news about how you can knit along with her this summer.

Zontee:  And, on today’s Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life, we continue our eco friendly theme with ways to reuse common household items to organize your yarn crafting.

Liz:  Stay tuned for all that and more, next on YarnCraft. [music]


Zontee:  Starting off our episode, we’re going to talk a little bit about what we’re working on currently.

I have to be honest, Liz, I haven’t been making much progress on my sweater–the Vanna’s Glamour cardigan that I was talking about in the last episode, but I did want to let everyone know that there are some great projects from other members our team on the Lion Brand Notebook, which you can find at blog.lionbrand.com–that’s our official company blog. They’re really great. So that might be something that you guys want to check out because there are some cool craft projects and everything from socks to sweaters. So it’s a lot of fun over there.

Liz:  Well, it’s a little hot out to even think about working on a sweater, even in nice, cool Vanna’s Glamour. So I can see why you might have slowed down a little bit, but for those who are interested in watching and learning about yarn crafting while they’re making a small project this summer, isn’t there a special way they can do that with you, Zontee?

Zontee:  Well, you are correct, Liz. This summer, starting–actually–this current week, you should be able to see Knitting Daily TV’s 500 series which I am a part of. You can join me to knit along three different projects. I’m going to be making a scarf, a stuffed animal, as well as a tunic vest. So there are a lot of different skills that you can learn just by watching. You can go to KnittingDailyTV.com and click on the schedules button in order to see where it’s playing in your local area. Or, if you happen to be like Ravelry commenter Betsy K., you can buy the DVDs and watch them all at your leisure.

Liz:  That’s super exciting. You’re going to be a total yarn crafting celebrity.

Zontee:  Yeah, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m glad that people are going to be able to actually work on projects with me. Of course, listeners, if you are working on one of those projects and you have a question, feel free to ask it on our Ravelry boards and we will definitely help you along with those.

Liz:  Speaking of Zontee‑spotting, I know you were up at the Knit and Crochet Show week before last. How did that go?

Zontee:  It was really great. The Knit and Crochet Show is a joint show between the Knitting Guild Association and the Crochet Guild of America. They both have their annual conferences there as well. Lion Brand sponsored the Crochet Guild’s professional development day as we have several years now. It was really fun to meet fans and talk to people about what they can get out of the Lion Brand experience as people who want to become professionals in the industry. Of course, you can go back to some older YarnCraft episodes to actually find out more about how you can get involved in the industry. I believe episode 43 is a good one for people who are interested in that sort of thing.

Plus, I just want to give a quick shout out to some of our listeners who were there at the show who I met. Those would be Josh, Irene, and Linell. Thanks so much for stopping by and saying “hello.” I know I met some other listeners as well, but I’m sorry, I didn’t remember your names. Please leave a comment and I’ll be sure to recognize you next time.

Like I said, it was definitely always really fun at these shows and people are always saying, “Liz, why aren’t you there?”

Liz:  Well, I really wanted to be there, but this year, on the exact same days of the show, I had to be in Europe for company business to make sure that there is always a continuous supply of exciting new yarns for you guys coming out all year long. That means I have to travel a lot and often I can’t go to fun things like the Knit and Crochet Show.

Zontee:  It’s a shame. Maybe next year.

Liz:  Maybe next year. We’ve got to get all these things off the same schedule. They’re all synced up right now.

Zontee:  I hear you. Sometimes that happens. It’s just the way the moon aligns or something.

Liz:  Exactly. So sad. [music]


Liz:  Today, we’re talking about ways to get earth‑friendly with your yarn crafting life. We know it’s something that’s important to a lot of our listeners. So we just want to throw out a bunch of different ideas for different ways you can be eco-friendly and still enjoy lots of crafty fun.

Zontee:  Well, why don’t we start of with some of our listener’s suggestions, because we’ve got a couple of great ones on our blog?

Liz:  Austin, who’s one of our younger listeners, wrote in with his tip about cutting yarn out of plastic grocery bags. I know this is something that is really popular. I’m sure there are a lot of places online where you can find the specific tutorial, but basically you want to cut in a continuous spiral, about an inch wide, to make a long loop of yarn. Then that’s going to be pretty thick so you want to crochet with a large hook and it’s really great for making things like market bags or purses and it’s a great way to recycle those plastic bags which are just everywhere.

Zontee:  Yeah. I always feel like I collect a ton of them because I refuse to throw them out. I try to reuse them for other purpose, but I think making yarn out of them and making… Wait, wait! I’ve just got a very meta idea. You make baskets out of them for your yarn because the stiffness of the plastic would actually be a really great container.

Liz:  That’s a pretty good idea.

Zontee:  Well, we do have some great crochet basket patterns on our website. So you could take one of those and adapt them. Just follow the directions, but make it with a thicker yarn, you’d get a bigger basket and thinking some really good yarn storage, guys. Janell takes the same general concept of recycling a material into a yarn and she does it with old t‑shirts where she cuts strips out of those and actually uses it as yarn. What’s really great about this is, of course, it ties back in with our Recycled Cotton which is a yarn made out of the scraps left over from the manufacture of t‑shirts. So this is almost the flip side of the coin.

Liz:  I know I have some really, really, really bizarre compulsion where I am not capable of throwing away t‑shirts. I have t‑shirts in my closet that are from when I was a freshman in high school, which was just last year, but still that’s such a long time to keep t‑shirts around. [laughs] Maybe if I cut them up and recycle them into yarn that I can use to maybe make a bathmat or, again, some market bags…

Zontee:  A bath mat is a great idea.

Liz:  Maybe that will allow me to move them out of my closet but still have them in my life.

Zontee:  It’s a good idea. It’s a very good idea.

Liz:  Speaking of market bags, Lucy wrote in to say that she lives in the South and it’s pretty impossible to think about sweater weather there right now. I can only imagine how hot it is there. It’s awful here. So she is obsessing on market bags. She’s actually started a market bags group on Ravelry. They’re doing summer knitting and crochet‑alongs and an upcoming swap. That sounds like a lot of fun. Market bags are so popular and what a great way to talk to other aficionados.

Zontee:  Agreed. Of course, the reason that market bags are great for this eco‑chic episode is that they keep you from ending up with hundreds of plastic bags. I know that I carry one with me all the time now just so that I don’t have to get bags at stores.

Liz:  Yes. I’ve been so diligent about not using plastic bags. I like to put my shoes in them when I pack. On this most recent trip, I actually did not have enough in my house for all the shoes I wanted to bring. It was a challenge. [laughs]

Zontee:  That is kind of a challenge. Perhaps you will have to make real shoe bags by knitting them or crocheting them.

Liz:  I think so. It’s going to be a lot of crocheting. I have a lot of shoes. I don’t travel light.

Zontee:  Now that we’ve heard from our listeners, we also want to, of course, highlight some of the yarns available from Lion Brand that are really appropriate when thinking about being more eco‑friendly in your knitting and crocheting, changing the yarns that you use is, of course, an easy way to make your yarn crafting more eco‑friendly.

Liz:  Zontee already mentioned the Recycled Cotton, which is a great choice. It’s really soft and comes in great tweed colors. If you’re looking for something with solid colors as well, you may want to look into our Nature’s Choice which is a slightly thicker, but also very, very soft, cotton. We have 14 solid colors and we just introduced seven print colors. So that’s a lot to choose from.

Zontee:  Yeah, and those print colors are really great. So it gives you a lot of options because you could pair a great solid with a print to kind of mix up your look. Another organic cotton that we offer is the Lion Organic Cotton. And that’s a completely undyed line of yarns. And, again, it’s worsted weight. But the construction is different so it’s more of a classic worsted weight instead of the kind of soft, spun look of the Nature’s Choice.

And, as a special bonus to our listeners, we’re offering a special deal this week. So just go to our blog, YarnCraft.LionBrand.com, and follow the link over to buy Lion Organic Cotton, three hanks for $12. That’s a saving of 38%. So it’s a pretty good deal.

Liz:  Wow!

Zontee:  And you can eco‑chic your crafting right away.

Liz:  And then, if you live somewhere where you can actually think about touching wool [laughs] right now, you might want to check out our LB Collection Organic Wool. That’s only available in our New York studio and online and through the mail order catalog. But it is a worsted weight wool, very soft, certified organic processed. And it’s dyed with the same certified, low impact dyes as Nature’s Choice.

Zontee:  It’s definitely a great line of yarns. And it comes in such great classic colors that I think it’s perfect for your fall wardrobe. So, if you are planning ahead, which I think it is starting to be the right time to start planning ahead for fall, this is going to be a yarn you’re going to want to try.

Liz:  And If you follow the Lion Brand Notebook, you may have seen the recent post about Kool‑Aid dying, which is great, eco‑friendly way to customize your colors. And it would work great on the undyed color of the Organic Wool to pick whatever trend you want for fall.

Zontee:  That’s a great idea. I love that that gives you the option to expand the palette and do some more creative, personal things with it. Another yarn that I think is really great is the LB Collection Cotton Bamboo which, of course, features rayon from bamboo which is a very renewable resource as bamboo grows very quickly. As my mother will tell you because she has tons of it growing in her yard, and it’s just gone crazy. It’s a whole forest. We keep joking that you could have filmed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in that forest because it’s gotten so huge.

Liz:  My grandparents also had a bamboo patch in their yard that was more like a forest than a patch. And that yarn is just very soft and may be just the kind of texture you’re looking for during these summer heat waves.

Zontee:  I think it would be a great summer yarn. It’s silky. It’s soft. It’s very cool to the touch. Definitely a good one. Now that we’ve mentioned some of the yarns in our lines that might be really great for your eco‑friendly projects, let’s talk about some patterns that are great to pair with them. Do you want to start with baby products, Liz? Because I think that baby products are a great way to add eco‑friendly things to your knitting and crochet.

Liz:  Definitely. One I really like is our Earth Bunny Blanket and our Eco‑Bunny Blanket. Those are versions of our extremely popular “bunny buddy” blankets done in the Recycled Cotton. So I think what a great gift to make for a summer baby than a nice cool, soft, eco‑friendly cotton bunny.

Zontee:  We also have some great sweater patterns in the Recycled Cotton. Our Soft Green Baby Cardigan as well as our Eyelet Remix Cardigan are really adorable, really sweet cardigans. The Soft Green Baby Cardigan is a very classic crew neck so it’d be good on both boys and girls. And the Eyelet Remix features some kind of cute lace. So it’s really charming.

Liz:  We also have a very cute Oh Natural! Baby Set done in Nature’s Choice. It’s a garter stitch sweater, hat, and booties. So it’s great for beginning knitters. If you’re looking to make an adult sweater, again, want either a layering piece for early fall or planning well ahead to winter, it’s a good idea to look for some very classic styles.

Zontee:  Agreed. One way that we can really conserve is to reduce the amount of things that we’re using. And so, if you pick a sweater that you’re going to wear for seasons to come because of its classic styling, I think that’s the best use of your knitting and crocheting.

Liz:  One I have seen so many people make and have great success with down in the Studio is the Weekend Retreat Cardi. We have it shown, again, in the Recycled Cotton, but you can make in really any number four yarn and it’s going to turn out great.

Zontee:  Oh, definitely. I also really like the Portland Cardigan, a project that’s knit in the LB Collection Organic Wool. Again, a really classic sweater and, if you happen to be watching the Knitting Daily series, you’ll see me wearing it in the Redwood color of the LB Collection Organic Wool. Really warm, really comfortable. A classic sweater that you can really layer and wear for a long time.

Liz:  Another great classic shape is our River Road Pleated Tunic. It’s shown in the Nature’s Choice. And it’s a very flattering shape with an off‑center button placket. And I think, if you do it in the Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton, not only can you wear it for years, but it’s also going to be very multi‑seasonal. So you’ll get a lot of use out of it.

Zontee:  A project that really combines the ideas of recycling with the ideas of using an eco‑friendly product is our Solid Shell Crocheted Jewelry Frame and our Quilted Lattice Knit Jewelry Frame. These are products where we’ve taken old picture frames and repurposed them as a display/organizer for your jewelry. And we’ve made them in the LB Collection Cotton Bamboo which we talked about just earlier.

Liz:  I really love this idea. I may have to look at home to see what unused picture frames I have sitting around. And I think that’s another really great attitude to take with your yarn crafting is: how can you use knitting or crochet to improve or embellish or repair things you already have around the house?

Zontee:  I definitely agree, especially when it comes to favorite garments that have kind of gone to the back of your closet because maybe there are moth holes or a little stain or something. And you just haven’t used them in a long time, but you can’t bear to give them up. Lindsey wrote on our blog about this sweater that she spotted at a local store that had knit and crocheted flowers embellishing a very classic cardigan. And I think that that’s a great idea that you can really repurpose into your own life. If you have a classic shirt or sweater or cardigan that you haven’t worn in a while because of some damage or something, consider making some knit or crocheted flowers or embellishments to sew onto them and give them new life.

Liz:  Or maybe you have a sweater that was exciting when you first bought it a few years ago. Now it’s still perfectly fine, but it just doesn’t excite you anymore. It’s not the most current color or cut or whatever. Consider how adding a knitted or crocheted collar or cuffs or trim can give it a whole new life and make you excited about wearing it again instead of throwing it away and buying something new.

Zontee:  Agreed. And, of course, you can check out the Stitch Finder at LionBrand.com under the Learning Center section where we have trims, motifs, flowers, all sorts of directions for generic patterns that you can make in any yarn to really embellish all of these projects. You can also really extend this whole concept into crafting with your kids. We’ve talked previously about things like the Father’s Day Organizers which are glass jars recycled to be wrapped in yarn for organizing your desk.

Liz:  The milk, juice concentrate cans are also a classic choice for those.

Zontee:  Oh, that’s a really good idea. As well as milk cartons which we’ve recycled into vases.

Liz:  And those new‑fangled orange juice cartons. We don’t really do so much milk in our house, but we do a lot of orange juice. So that’s where I’m coming from with these suggestions.

Zontee:  Oh, definitely. You can even reuse old paper bags as a great canvas for yarn paintings. And, if you don’t know what a yarn painting is, you can definitely Google around online, but it’s pretty literally what it says. Print out a photo or an image and actually stick little pieces of yarn onto it to match the shape of the image so that you actually get a yarn painting. Paint with the yarn.

Liz:  And we’re going to have a specific example of that on the Lion Brand Notebook this week, so stay tuned for that. These are just a few ideas of how you can be more eco‑friendly with your yarn crafting from the choice of yarn to the type of project you pick to ways to really get creative and think outside the box and use your own crafting in unconventional ways. So we hope you got some great ideas, and we hope you’ll share any ones of your own that you come up with. [music]


Liz:  On today’s “Stash This: Ideas for Your Crafting Life,” we are going to talk about creative ways you can use common household objects to organize and make your yarn crafting life a little simpler. You might not know this but, on our Lion Brand website, there’s a place on the left side where there are user submitted tips. And so many of those tips are great suggestions for ideas like this. So we want to share some of those with you.

Zontee:  One of the most common things we get is different suggestions for ways to keep your yarn clean and make yarn caddies so that your yarn ball stays neat. Your cat doesn’t go after it. It doesn’t get tangled or fall off onto the ground. And there are so many different creative ways to keep your yarn protected. And what’s great about most of these ideas is that they can be done with recycled goods. For instance, empty coffee cans, once you’re done using all the coffee inside of them, can be recycled into a yarn caddy. Simply punch in the lid, put your yarn ball in, thread the yarn out, and then put the lid back on. Now the yarn’s completely protected and good to go.

Liz:  Another common item is to use the two liter soda bottles for larger items. You cut off the bottom, wash everything up thoroughly, let it dry. Put your yarn in, thread the yarn up through the neck of the bottle, and then fit the top back into the firmer bottom base. And that works well for skeins like Homespun that are a little larger.

Zontee:  Oh yeah, that’s the perfect size for something like that. Other uses for can related items that I really like is Pringles cans to be recycled as needle holders for all of your long straight needles. I think that’s a great idea.

Liz:  And what’s really fun about coffee cans and Pringles that are a little firmer is that they can absolutely be embellished with yarn so you get a personalized, beautiful recycled yarn caddy or needle container. Whereas it’s little harder with the soda bottle because it’s a little softer.

Zontee:  Mm, makes sense.

Liz:  The plastic mesh bags that are sold around vegetables, produce, those can be great yarn bras. They’re flexible and, if you have something slippery like the cotton bamboo that you maybe are concerned that it’s going to kind of collapse in on itself, it can be helpful to put them in those firm plastic nettings because it helps the ball hold its shape. I’ve also used old little ankle socks that are the pantyhose material or even the feet of old pantyhose to be a yarn bra as well.

Zontee:  That’s a really great suggestion.

Liz:  I know people also like to use the long newspaper bags as storage for longer skeins like Homespun or Fishermen’s Wool. If you’re storing them or putting them into a larger tote bag, that’s a great size.

Zontee:  That is a great size. Another tip that I really like is to take the packages that your sheets come in, those little zip bags, and use that as a project bag. I find that they’re really great because they sometimes also have a pocket where they put the information about the sheet inside. But you can repurpose that pocket to put your pattern and any loose things inside of. And then you put your whole project in there, and it’s good to go. And it’s great. It’s waterproof. You can stick it in your carry‑on bag on a plane and not worry about it. So I like that it’s clear, which means that you can see into them and not have to worry about figuring out where everything is.

Liz:  Exactly. And, of course, we would be remiss not to mention the ever popular Ziploc bag. I try to reuse mine as much as possible. And sometimes that means washing it well, letting it dry, and then using it to carry a yarn project around.

Zontee:  Oh definitely. I have some that are dedicated only to yarn projects, and they just go from one project to the next to the next. Moving on to smaller items, there are a lot of really creative tools that you can, instead of purchase, you can use household items to replace them. For instance, stitch stoppers or point protectors, which turn your double points into straight needles or also can be useful to keep your yarn from actually sliding off of your double points, can be made with rubber bands, where you just twist the band around a couple of times on the end.

Liz:  And I know people also use soft erasers where you can just kind of push the point of your needle into them for that purpose, for stitch stoppers.

Zontee:  Makes sense. Rubber bands are also really great as stitch markers because a lot of them come brightly colored, and they come in a variety of sizes. So you can put them in between your different places to keep track of them when you’re doing a knitting project.

Liz:  I like to use the very little ones that are for putting on the ends of braids or even unused orthodontal rubber bands…

Zontee:  Oh, that makes sense.

Liz:  …because they’re a nice small size…

Zontee:  Very true.

Liz:  …and also often very brightly colored.

Zontee:  [laughs]

Liz:  Even the humble paper clip can be pressed into service as a stitch marker.

Zontee:  I actually used paper clips as my very first set of stitch markers when I actually thought that I had invented the concept of stitch markers.

Liz:  Wow!

Zontee:  And you know, I thought to myself, “This is great! I can put them between my stitches, and I can tell how many I’ve done. This is the best idea ever!”

Liz:  Paper clips are also a great way, if you’re making a certain number of repeats in a pattern, you can put one paperclip on the front of your knitting for every repeat you complete so it’s easy to count how many you’ve done.

Zontee:  That’s a really smart idea. I bet you could also use a paper clip on the side of your pattern to keep track of where you are in your pattern.

Liz:  You totally could. That would be great.

Zontee:  The wheels are turning right now.

Liz:  Yeah. See? There’s no end. Another great way to make inexpensive stitch markers is to use a drinking straw and cut it into thin rings. Again, those are usually pretty brightly colored. And you hit up the local convenience store, you can usually find a couple different sizes.

Zontee:  Plus, that’s probably good for a lot of your smaller needle sizes where you’re looking for kind of smaller rings that are going to be appropriate.

Liz:  Dental floss has a wide range of applications in knitting or crochet. It makes a greater non‑sticking stitch marker if you make small loops out of it. And can also be used if you’re making any sort of provisional cast‑on where you need to hold a certain number of stitches but them you’re going to come back and work into them later. It’s great because it’s very easy to slide out the dental floss, and put it onto your working, hooker needle.

Zontee:  It’s also very popular for the same reasons as a lifeline because, again, it slides out really easily and it won’t catch on your yarn.

Liz:  And perhaps the ultimate in convenient stitch markers is to just take small loops of yarn, hopefully, if you can, in a contrasting color to your main yarn, and tie little loops and slip those onto your needle in between stitches.

Zontee:  It’s a good thing to do with your scrap yarn. Finally, let’s talk a little bit about storing and organizing your crafting space. Personally, I really like the idea of taking milk crates or other kinds of boxes that you have lying around and actually turning them on their side and using them as storage/display units.

Liz:  You can check out our photos of the Studio online to get an idea of how beautiful yarn can be when it’s tucked in so the end sticks out into a sort of crate display.

Zontee:  Oh, definitely.

Liz:  I also think it can be very convenient to use some of the plastic bag, sheet protector bag, all those sorts of ideas you mentioned about yarn caddies, and use them when you’re putting yarn into storage. Just keeps everything organized if you have all of the yarn for a certain project or of a certain gauge together in a larger bag.

Zontee:  It’s also nice to be able to protect yarn that way if you have the plastic zip bags for something like a duvet or maybe even a comforter where they’re really big. Then you can definitely use that to store a bunch of yarn, all of the yarn that you’re not using currently that you want to put in your basement or something. This way it’s safe and you know that it’s going to be protected.

Liz:  Calling back to our very first episode, where we talked about inspiration boards, it can be very simple to create a personalized one out of some found materials. If you have an existing bulletin board or even an old piece of foam core from a school project, you can cover it with scrap fabric or even a wide piece of knitting or crochet, and wrap it around, and secure it on the back. And then you’ve got a great bulletin board to put up in your space that you can pin all sorts of ideas to, photos, swatches, whatever you’re thinking about.

Zontee:  Agreed. And one final great recycling idea for your yarn crafting space, and this isn’t necessarily an actual item, but, if you’re going through your patterns and you see something where you say, “Wow, I really love that motif” or that specific pattern stitch, copy it out and keep it in a notebook so that you have a whole book of things you really enjoyed making in terms of those stitch patterns. And maybe you can find another purpose for that later on.

Liz:  Absolutely. For the same fact that patterns are so adaptable and yarn is almost infinitely reusable, it lends itself well to thrifty and conservation‑minded crafting. [music]


Zontee:  We want to thank all of you for joining us today, and we want to thank those who shared their tips, questions, and comments on our blog, by emailing us, and on our Ravelry group.

Liz:  Join us again in two weeks when we are joined by several different knit‑ and crochet‑wear designers who will be answering your questions. Leave a question on our blog, by emailing us, by leaving a comment on our Ravelry group, or by voicemail at 774‑452‑YARN. That’s 774‑452‑9276. And your questions may be included in the next episode. And, as usual, our music was “Boy with a Coin” by Iron and Wine from the Podsafe Music Network. [music]


For more information about the patterns, links, and products discussed in this episode, please see the episode guide.