Returning to a Favorite Craft: Potholder Loom

potholder loomIn case you’re a bit younger than I am, I must let you know that there wasn’t much for kids to do back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. There were basically three channels on TV, with Saturday morning cartoons being the highlight of the week. In those in-between hours of boredom and restlessness, we looked through our View-Master at pictures of far-off places, colored pictures, and made crafts.

Crafting, unlike today, now a cultural movement, was simply what one did. My mother crocheted and made macrame plant hangers…my grandmother sewed…and I, fairly young at the time, made potholders.

It doesn’t sound so exciting now, but it was a ton of fun back then. My grandmother would purchase a big bag of the loops for the loom, and I would go to town. It was an easy craft that even a child could do. And boy, did I do it! While I sat and watched re-runs of Brady Bunch and The Rifleman, I wove potholders to my heart’s content, filling the days with crafts and entertainment. Eventually, my grandmother had to say “Enough!” to the crafting as she had a whole stack of potholders, enough for a lifetime.

And now? Well, I wanted an easy craft to make for presents, and low-and-behold, those looms still existed. And they have become sophisticated, with a larger size available and loops with prettier colors. There’s even a handy-dandy pattern wizard!

Yes siree, I had to jump back into the potholder fray. I quickly remembered how much I enjoyed the mixing of colors and creating new patterns.

The only problem was that the thing kept popping off the loom as I was finishing it off. With a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a way to prevent that from happening: wide rubber bands wrapped strategically around the loom. A bit of a pain to coordinate, but a lifesaver for keeping the potholder secure as you complete it.

I guess my family knows what they’re getting for Christmas this year…

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Preparing for Holiday Crafting

preparingforholidaycraftingAs money is a bit tight this year, I will have to make all of our holiday gifts for family and friends. Although purchasing a lot of crafting materials is tempting, I just can’t do it at this time. To make the crafts truly frugal, we’ll have to make do with what we have on hand. And doing that often requires a bit of patience as well as preparation. Today I’ve begun preparing the materials for two holiday crafts.

dryinglavenderleavesThis past spring we purchased a lavender plant. It has grown to be quite healthy and big, but there were not enough blossoms to harvest for any project. I therefore did a bit of looking around on the internet, and I discovered that I could also use the leaves from the plant. I picked the leaves from throughout the plant, providing me with a modest amount for drying. These I scattered over a piece of newspaper placed in an old pie tin; that was also covered with another piece of newspaper. I am hoping that this configuration will allow the leaves to dry properly as long as the tin is shaken each day so that the leaves dry completely.

makingplasticyarnAdditionally, I also began creating some plastic “yarn” from bags that we had lying around the kitchen. I have been crocheting with plastic bags since 2005 and have used several different methods for creating yarn. I have found the method below to be the easiest, and it also results in the strongest yarn possible.

First, simply lay the bag flat on the ground and cut off the top and bottom of the bag. Next, cut the remaining bag into loops, giving you several loops from one bag. These loops will be connected by threading them together. After you have connected the loops, you can wind the “yarn” into a ball, just like regular yarn. This method should give you a double-strong yarn that will withstand some tugging when you crochet. Just continue adding loops on to the free end to make the “yarn” longer or add new colors.

Finally, one caveat if you have cats. They love to “help,” especially with the yarn. My little helper particularly enjoyed stealing the ball of plastic yarn and running away with it. As these crafts aren’t compatible with kitty kittieslovetohelpassistance, then I would highly recommend doing them when they are sleeping or otherwise occupied. Also, be sure and store them somewhere the cats will not be able to access.

Although these tasks may not produce very flashy results as of yet, they will pay off in the long run. Making use of what’s available is certainly a frugal way to create crafts for holiday giving. Being creative and resourceful allows us to participate in gift exchanges, even on a small budget. Too, these crafts are environmentally friendly as they utilize materials in a new way.

How to Make Recycled Candles in a Solar Oven

How to Make Recycled Candles in a Solar Oven

Click on the above link to learn more about using up all of those candle stubs that you have lying around the house. And by using a solar oven, you can do it all without heating up your home. Now that’s green and frugal!