Crafty Conscience

Tote Bag Crocheted out of Strips of Plastic Bags

From the files of *More Trouble Than It’s Worth* comes my second plarn* bag.

It took so many hours to make the plarn and then crochet it into this bag. I’m talking like 40 hours of folding and cutting and connecting and winding plastic to get enough for this larger bag (it holds about 10 large skeins of yarn)… and after all of that, the crochet is very slow going.

All to end up with something that’s, honestly, pretty daggone ugly.

But I’ll probably do it again.

It makes me feel good to do something with the plastic bags that find their way into our home in spite of the 200 reusable bags we keep stashed in the cars. It’s kind of like doing craft penance. Either way these bags will last forever, but at least now my heirs will have solid proof I was a bit of a nut.

That’s worth something, right?


* Plarn is yarn made out of strips of plastic. I made mine out of bags I collected from stores over the past year or so. This colorway is “Target – Old Navy – Joann’s – Michael’s”. I really need to remember to take my reusable bags into these stores!

Self Care Day on the 6th: November 2014

November 6

There’s something particularly wonderful about old friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting new people — with all of the possibilities ahead and the zing of discovering common connections — but I treasure the folks that have been on this ride with me for decades.

We’ve all heard (and probably used) the platitudes about friends who can go for years without speaking and then pick up right where they left off. There are folks in my life that definitely fall neatly into this category, and man am I ever sorry about that. Not the “pick up right where they left off” part — that’s a gift!

I’m sorry about the “go for years without speaking” part of the equation.

Mea Culpa! I let the whirl of life carry me along for weeks, months, sometimes years without stopping to touch base with people whom I proudly consider friends. At first email and social media seemed to make it easier to stay in contact, but somehow clicking “like” on someone’s latest vacation picture or beating them at e-Scrabble doesn’t seem particularly friendly.

The other day one of my oldest friends — someone I’ve known for three quarters of my life — popped in to comment on a picture I’d posted online. He made a funny comment. I made one back. We clicked like on each other’s comments. And then we were off to snark elsewhere.

Now, this guy is a dear. He’s “been there” for me in about a thousand ways going all the way back to the early 80s. I was kind of reminiscing about that and how we used to grab our spouses and meet halfway for dinner (we live 200 miles apart these days) or plan vacations that crossed paths. Then I started counting the years since I’ve seen his actual, live-in-person face and was a little appalled and a little embarrassed and, honestly, a little sad.

So, did I call him? Pshaw! Of course not! Instead, I started crocheting him a blanket, because what says, “I miss your face, friend!” better than starting a months-long craft project that he knows nothing about?

I can’t always explain me.

The reality is that most folks need folks, and we’re lucky to have those folks. Barbra wasn’t kidding in that song of hers.

So, for self care this month I’m pledging to reconnect with some people who are essential to my happiness and well-being even if my behavior doesn’t seem to reflect their importance.

I’m not flogging myself over this — in spite of my “mea culpa” above — I’m pretty gentle with myself when I discover something I want to change. I am, however, going to pour some love into this intention over the next several weeks and see what manifests.

Oh, and I’ll be working on that blanket, too.

Robert desperately needs a Doctor Wubbie, and making one for him is the least I can do for one of my oldest — Man, is he older! — and kindest friends.

So, what’s on your “nice to do” list that just never seems to make it onto your calendar? Whatcha waiting for?

Doctor Wubbie


Edna on Bravery

Beginning rows of a lace-weight cape.

Superhero capes often have humble beginnings.

It’s the wearers who give them their powers.

Off to a Beautiful Start

Noro Bouquet

There’s no question that I love, love, love yarn. A complete yarn inventory has been on my “Nice to Do” list for months. Of course, I would rather knot yarn than count it, so I haven’t quite gotten around to figuring what all I have in my stash.

I love getting an idea, — usually around midnight on a holiday weekend — diving into my bins of colorful skeins, and finding exactly what I need just waiting for me there.

I will admit to having way more than I could possibly use in a year… or two.

Even so, there are times when I see a project that I want to make that calls for something that I don’t have handy. Sometimes — like last spring — my vision requires a huge order of 19 different shades that I just can’t find at my local yarn store. More often, I’m wanting a particular fiber or colorway but tell myself that I can make do with something on hand…

I put off a trip to Bliss as long as possible, start 4 other projects, attempt the desired project in a different fiber, and then I finally give in and run across town to get what I’ve wanted all along.

It happened just that way today. Well, I’ve been wanting to make an Tunisian entrelac scarf for months. But today I had to go into my local yarn shop and get three skeins of delicious Noro Taiyo and start my project.

If I didn’t have two of our kids with me, I would have plopped down in a chair and started crocheting on the spot. As it was, I had to go to the grocery store and put everything away before I could even think about giving it a go. I’m so antsy to get started I may just pop.

So, I’m off to wind this lovely bouquet of yarn into balls before I decide that it’s too pretty to use and start obsessing over finding the right yarn for the crocheted version of the Color Affection Shawl that just caught my eye.


Oh, She’s That Kind of Nerd!

Nerdy Crafter

Why, yes! Yes I am that nerd who solved a 25X25 Sudoku to determine the placement of these supposed-to-be-random squares.

But I’m not compulsive enough to pull out the 49 squares I’d already made and attached before I came up with this brilliant scheme.

So not only is it not random, it doesn’t actually follow the Sudoku pattern rules completely.

So, does that make it a Random Pattern?


Good News: Bad News

Navy Placemat

The good news is that I completed my second place mat while scoring 100% on my statistical analyses this week.

The bad news is that I was forced to eat the prop after taking this picture and odds are high that I’m going to need a glass of milk to wash it down and low that anyone around here is going to feel sorry for me and bring me one.

Studying Statistics: It Looks Like Crocheting

Teal PlacematYou know how when you’re studying statistics and watching delightful and informative videos on Visually Determining Kurtosis via SPSS Rendered Histograms?

If not, imagine driving… alone… across the prairies… at night… without a radio…

Same thoughts go through your head when learning statistics.

My apologies to statisticians, but as well as I do in these courses I can’t want to have your job.

Anyway, while entertaining the left side of my brain with said videos, I used the entirely-ignored right side of my brain sussed out the pattern for this placemat from a Japanese chart on a Spanish blog. I’d send you the links, but that part of my brain is busy right now.

I may have a set of 8 before we get through skew.

Wish me luck.


The gorgeous bowl was made just for me by Michael Robison. We went to high school together, but I’d bet he’d make you a pot, too, if you wanted one.

Edna Reworks Grandma Mae’s Granny Afghan

Great Grandma Emma May's Granny Square Afghan

As I’ve mentioned before, when I was a tiny child, my Great Grandmother Emma Mae (we called her Gramma Mae) made me and my sisters and cousins each a granny square afghan. I’ve carried mine around the country for almost 40 years, but never quite knew what to do with it.

It was a small thing — 48” X 64” — and not particularly pretty to look at. But it means the world to me.

Her choice of square color and placement can only be described as “random”. She’d put 4 greens in a row and one of them would be a different shade, etc. She chose yellow for her “holding” color — and used several shades to complete the blanket. To top it all off, she used an abundance of thick, red thread to sew everything together.

After decades of staring at the only relic remaining from my connection with my Gramma Mae, I finally got brave and took the whole thing apart on New Year’s Day. Then I got braver and actually fixed some of the squares that were especially wonky. I made one more green square from the edging yarn to replace a blue square that was beyond repair.

To my complete amazement, our gauge is identical. And when I ripped a couple of the squares that needed some love, I discovered that — like me — she turns her rounds. It was a sweet connection and as I ripped out stitches and recrocheted the pieces, I could feel her hands on the yarn, too.

I then spent a couple of days arranging the squares until I got a layout that I liked. Once I knew where the squares belonged, I created a pattern with my word processing software and printed it out.

Once all that was done, I started edging each square in black Red Heart — the traditional holding color and the only brand of yarn I ever knew her to use — with two rows on each square and attaching as I went. Once they were all a single piece, I created a border of black with one row of yellow and a very simple chained scallop edge.

The afghan is now large enough to completely cover the top of a king size bed, or the back of a large sofa. It’s useful and somewhat prettier and I’m just delighted with it.

I’m even more delighted at the time I got to spend with my Grandma Mae. She’s been gone a long time, but it felt like she was kind of hanging around here over the past two weeks, encouraging me to be brave and rip apart her work, matching me stitch for stitch as I reassembled it, and whispering stories about rare, cool nights in Texas as I sit wrapped in this now-warm afghan in a somewhat colder Tennessee.

Edna and Emma Mae

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