Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Goal Number One

I don't like to make New Year's resolutions.

I find them hard to keep, plus January is usually a VERY busy time of year for me, so it's hard to get started on new things. I just got back from a weeklong trip to Japan for work, and got back just in time to grade piles and piles of midyears. Instead of grading those midyears, I'm going to spend a few minutes thinking about what I would like to accomplish in the creative part of my life this year.

Recently, I've been thinking about why I like to make things. Sometimes, I make things that are useful. Often, I make things that are not useful, or in any case, not useful to me. Keith will often ask me what I'm working on, and then ask...why? Often, I don't have a good answer. I just like to make things. I find it soothing.

But then, what do I do with the things I make? Some people make things and sell them, but I don't think I have that kind of drive, at least not at this point in my life.

However, I think it would be nice to have a little more purpose behind my crafting. Hence, goal number one:

Every month, I want to choose a charity, and make a donation of something I have made.

Since January has mostly gone by, for February I have chosen to make a donation to Knitting and Giving, a charity group based in Connecticut that collects hand-made items for homeless shelters and poor families. For my donations, I've started turning my leftover stash yarn into hats for newborns. They knit up quick, and it's easy to try different variations so you don't get bored. I found about a billion free patterns on ravelry - I liked this one, which was very simple and easy to experiment with.

I know not a lot of people read this blog, but would anyone out there be interested in crafting and giving this year?

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Travel Necessity

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm planning on doing some traveling next week. And in the wintertime, Keith and I do a lot of back and forth between home and Maine for skiing. One of the biggest annoyances of travel, for me, is laundry. I always end up with random socks and underwear stuffed into corners of my suitcase.

Luckily, Keith has an abundance of super-large t-shirts, like this one.

And with a little bit of fiddling, I was able to turn it into this (apologies for my terrible photography!)

It slips easily over the doorknob, or on a towel hook, to hold dirty clothes. On the way over, I'll use it to hold my shoes so they don't mess my clothes up in the suitcase!

It's not beautiful, but it sure is useful. Want to see how I did it?

First, I cut the hem off the bottom of the t-shirt. Then, I cut off the sleeves. I angled the cut so that I'd have as much of the t-shirt body left as possible, like so:

Then, I cut off the top of the shirt just below the neckline:

I turned mine inside out, so the original t-shirt design is inside my bag. I put a little star on the new outside, because I wanted to. Then, I sewed up the bottom of the shirt, and the holes where the sleeves were. That left me with a bag that looked something like this:

(It's actually much more even than it looks in the picture!)

I cut off one of the sleeves and cut a strip out of it that was about 12x3". (That's the handle.) I folded it over and sewed up the long seam...

And then turned it inside out. To give it a more finished look on the inside (because I'm weird like that) I folded the ends in and sewed them as well, like so:
Now, back to the bag. I folded the top over, and the folded it again, so that the raw edge wouldn't show.I stitched over the fold, leaving quite a bit of space so there would be room for the drawstring. The first time, I didn't pin it, and then later wished I had.

And, voila! Time to attach the strap. I put mine in the back, and stitched over the existing seams (so there's room for the drawstring to go through!)

I cut a little hole between the two straps, and used a safety pin to lead the string around the top of the bag. For the drawstring, I just used the hem I had cut off the t-shirt.

Voila! Rufio approves :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A million uses for an old T-shirt

Since we got married, dear hubby and I have been trying to cut down on the clutter. We both came into this marriage with quite a bit of stuff, and now we have to combine.

However, I have a problem. I have a really hard time throwing stuff away.

I always think to myself...what if I need that again someday? Won't I regret throwing it away if I someday have to spend money to buy a new one?

But when you live in a one-bedroom condo, you can't keep everything. We have basically no storage space at all. We keep our seasonal decorations in the attic at my parents' house, and Keith still has loads of stuff that has never even made it's way over here.

The outgrowth of these two problems - overwhelming amounts of stuff, and inability to throw things away - has had some creative consequences.

Keith has more t-shirts than anyone I know. Most of them, I think, he has gotten for free over the years. So, a raiding of his t-shirt pile was an easy step to decreasing the amount of "stuff" in our home. I have already decreased my pile of t-shirts by making a T-shirt Quilt, and I'm in the process of making one for hubby as well. But in the meantime, I've found lots of uses for old t-shirts.

From a variety of old shirts, I knitted a rug for our kitchen floor. It's much nicer than standing on the cold tile, and washes easily.

From a too-small t-shirt with a cute logo, I made this little bag. It's perfect for storing the essentials in my big ski bag - deodorant, tape, batteries, for my boot warmers, etc. That way, the little things don't get lost.
Members of the ski team I coach tend to leave things behind - and once they've been in the lost and found for a whole year, I consider them fair game. Hence, a little coin purse.

I have a few more up my sleeve, but those will have to wait. I'm preparing for a big trip next week - going to Japan for a week! I'll be working most of the time, but hope I'll find some time to do a little sightseeing as well!