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Category Archives: Green

Take one man’s thermal turtleneck (80% silk, 20% cotton), purchased at the thrift store for $2. Never worn and still bearing the original paper tag. Unravel to your heart’s content.

Wind out 3 yard warp. Dress the loom in the silk ramen. Wind the silk ramen weft onto your shuttle. Weave in your favorite twill pattern.

Silk Ramen I

Dressing the loom

Silk Ramen II

Weave the Ramen

Result? Beautiful cream silk/cotton scarf. $2. A lot of work. A sense of eco-friendly, green satisfaction. And enough left-over silk/cotton for two more scarves.

“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.” – Marshall McLuhan


Alpaca Breeders Alliance of Northern Colorado is having their Alpaca Extravaganza this weekend at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont, Colorado. Saturday February 26 9-5, Sunday the 27th 10-4.

Shopping and hands on opportunities abound, as well as free lectures on alpaca breeding, contract language, marketing, and including alpacas in your sustainable living adventures. Free to the general public.

“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” – William Shakespeare

I was just complaining a few posts ago that we needed a Sheep to Shawl event at our annual Stock Show. Now it turns out, there is a new educational event happening tomorrow in Longmont:

From Our Lands to Your Hands Education Event
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Boulder County Fairgrounds

They’ll be teaching kids that food comes from a farm, not a grocery store. In order to have food, we need farms. And in order to have wool yarn, we need sheep! I’m going to try to volunteer for a couple of hours tomorrow in the knitting and weaving booth. Event is for pre-registered classes only from 10-2, open to the general public from 2 – 4pm.

Continuing the farm theme, I was sad to learn of the passing last month of British author Dick King-Smith, who wrote over 100 books about the animals on his farm. One of these, Babe the Sheep Pig, was turned into the movie Babe.

I’ve been making my way through the Philip Reeve list of recommendations, and well, I guess childhood favorites are a very personal choice.

First up I read The Nargun and the Stars by Patricia Wrightson, which takes place on an Australian farm. I hated the ending. Hated it. Found it lacking in compassion for critters that are non-human. I usually enjoy Wrightson’s books, but not this time.

The Owl Service by Alan Garner takes place on a Welsh farm. It was winner of the Guardian Prize for best British book of the year in 1968, and was almost incomprehensible to me. On the other hand, I enjoyed his recommendation of Eagle of the Ninth and will be reading more Rosemary Sutcliff and Dick King-Smith.

Currently Knitting: About to start a second pair of Riesines (wrist warmers), just finished stringing the seed beads onto the yarn and am ready to cast on.

Currently Reading: The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-line Pioneers

Currently Listening to: Hound of the Baskervilles

“I think the extent to which I have any balance at all, any mental balance, is because of being a farm kid and being raised in those isolated rural areas.” – James Earl Jones

Support your local independent businesses by shopping with them on Small Business Saturday rather than at a chain store on Black Friday.

If you spend $100 at a locally-owned business, $68 of that $100 stays in your community. Spent at a chain store, only $43 stays in your community. Shop online – nothing for your local economy.

One great way to shop local is with your local craft fairs. If you’re in the Denver Metro Area, there are some good ones coming up.

Nov 27 – Boulder
Joyful Furniture Artist Sale

Dec 3 & 4 – Denver
Holiday Handmade Alternative Craft Fair at Fancy Tiger

Dec 3 & 4 – Applewood/Golden
Jefferson Unitarian Church Holiday Arts and Craft Faire

December 4 – Boulder
Shining Mountain Waldorf School King Winter Faire

Nov 13 – Dec 30 – Golden
Foothills Art Center Holiday Art Market

“A machine has value only as it produces more than it consumes – so check your value to the community.” Martin H. Fischer

The crafting space is getting a bit untidy, especially with the addition of several bags of soon-to-be-unraveled sweaters. I’ve been searching for weeks for a bookcase narrow-enough to fit between the fabulous daybed and the wall. The space is less than 10 inches wide and every new thing I found was too big. And too expensive, even if it had fit into that space.

My frequent ramblings to area ARC Thift Stores resulted in the following:

Bookcase / Storage

46H x 30W x 9D

Scored on Saturday at 50% off. A whopping $7 for four shelves of storage for weaving supplies and cones of yarn. I’m in! I’m going to try to fit wheels onto the bottom to make it even easier to move, but it is so light it can be moved easily as is.

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” – Anna Quindlen

I’m continuing the sweater unraveling project, sometimes casting aside one that is too fine or too challenging for the moment. I once again hit the ARC Thift store today for the 50% off tags, and scored 6 sweaters for $14. Not bad for silk, linen, and cotton.

Upcycling Yarn

Becoming unraveled

Merino and cashmere are tougher to unravel, so I’m trying to do those in the daytime when there’s good light and I have more patience. This week I’ll try washing the first skeins of upcycled yarn and see about measuring them for a weaving project.

“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet

I do sometimes feel guilty about the amount of brand new craft supplies I purchase. Not only am I spending a lot of money, but yarn manufacturing is not always as eco-friendly as one might hope. Inspired by some recycling/upcycling fiber ladies I know (Mother Mary and Lisette Walker), I’ve decided to try upcycling yarn.

Weaving Spirit (whom I do not have the pleasure of knowing personally) has been recycling cashmere for years into beautiful new horoscope shawls. Why not take an unattractive or dated sweater, unravel it, and make it into something new?

I’ve been scavenging the local ARC thift shops, especially on Saturdays when almost everything is half price. I’ve scored some cashmere, silk, cotton/linen, merino wool, and silk/wool blends for $3-6 each. First up was this Liz Claiborne pink silk sweater, which has been unraveled into several hanks of pale pink silk. Once washed, I’m hoping to use this to make a delicate new woven scarf.

Upcycling Yarn

Upcycling Yarn - Before

Upcycling Yarn

Upcycling Yarn - After

There are some great tips and groups online about recycling and upcycling yarn. Try searching under “recycling” or “upcycling” or “unravel” yarn.

How To: Recycling Sweaters for Yarn

How to Recycle Yarn from a Thrift-Store Sweater

How to Unravel a Sweater and Recycle Yarn

“Thrift was never more necessary in the world’s history than it is today. ” – Francis H. Sisson

In the past week, I’ve made two more blindingly-bright scarves. So much for black, apparently.  The brights are a result of 1) another coworker leaving (no it isn’t me, she’s retiring after 3 decades) 2) finding a skein of banana silk half-off

Bright Red

Bright Purple

The red scarf is a combination of variegated sock wool (since I cannot find much multicolor weaving wool) and bambu.  The purple-pink-aqua is the skein of banana silk wefted with purple tencel.

I love the hand and weight of the woven banana silk, so much so that I forgot what a nightmare it was to weave. It scrapes against the heddles in the loom, gets battered by the beater, and shreds.  I had to retie about a dozen warp threads during the process. Not sure if this is going to pass muster for the sale or if it’ll end up being donated to our local professional association to raise money for conference scholarships. It is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but definitely a rougher product than usual.

“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” – George Bernard Shaw

At her recent Rocky Mountain Bead Society Steampunk lecture, Jean Campbell mentioned that she likes digging around her local hardware store for jewelry supplies. A generous member of the audience mentioned their favorite “stuff” store. The shop is Surplus Tools and Commodities at 1411 W. Alameda in Denver, a treasure trove of well, hardware chaos. Piles and tables and boxes of things that can find new repurposed life as Steampunk or hardware jewelry. Earth-friendly, green jewelry.

Hardware Store Glory

They are closed for inventory until July, but once they’re open again, I’ll be back to dig for more bits and bobs.

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist of creating out of void, but out of chaos” – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The loom cover is now complete and a relative success.

Completed loom cover and accessories holder

I had barely, barely, barely enough fabric to cover the loom using the Martha Stewart curtains from ARC. If you decide to make one of these for yourself, measure your loom ahead of time (height, width, and length both top and bottom). Then bring your measuring tape with you to the thrift shop so you can measure the curtains – or coverlet, sheets, or blanket – whatever you choose to purchase.

I was a little too generous when measuring for the seam allowance, so guard against that. You only need 1/2 inch for the seam allowance, and it may turn out that you need that extra inch or two somewhere else. I ended up using the scraps – top of one set of curtains and bottom of another set – to make a fabric accessories envelope for the other loom pieces. I’ve secured both the cover and the fabric envelope with large snaps, which I sewed on by hand. Overall, it took my brain a long time to figure this project out, but I’ve ended up with a solid, washable cover to protect the loom from sunlight – plus a holder for the spare reeds and other loom parts. Let me know if you try this!

“I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.” – John D. Rockefeller