Monday, July 28, 2008

Knitting with plastic bags

I've been getting sick of the huge mounds of plastic shopping bags that pile up in the space between our refrigerator and our kitchen counter. We have canvas tote bags, of course, and carry them around in the car or have them hanging from the kitchen door handle, but that doesn't always mean that we remember to grab them when we go in to the store to do our shopping. Sometimes, our groceries end up in plastic bags. (Bad habits are hard to break, and grocery stores tend to reinforce this particular bad habit--the clerks won't look at you like you're an absent-minded loon if you don't bring a shopping bag to the counter with you. In fact, they often seem to be in a race to stuff those food items into plastic faster than you can haul out your own bag or even say, "Hey, I don't need that--")

So, what to do with all those bags? Well, some of them we use for garbage bags, but that's not many, and the pile builds up faster than we can keep up. Today I had the brilliant idea of knitting a tote bag out of them. Then I thought to myself, "Well, surely someone's thought of this before." So I looked it up on Google. Hoo boy. Bazillions of how-tos on making yarn and knitting with plastic home-made yarn. Here's a particularly nice explanation on making the yarn, from a blog called Gooseflesh. Helle Jorgensen, the writer, is a wonderfully talented sculptor and knitter.

My one concern with using plastic bags is the possibility of toxic residues. Of course, this is a problem with many plastics. Anchorage writer and knitter Catherine Hollingsworth, who writes the column Two Sticks for the Anchorage Daily News, suggests using gloves while making the yarn, and cleaning up your needles with rubbing alcohol.

(cross-posted on The Ester Republic)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shetland sheep at Calypso Farm

Time to revive this blog. Calypso Farm & Ecology Center has acquired three Shetland sheep, smallish, hardy little multicolored sheep that ought to do well in the Alaska climate. Susan Willsrud, one of the founders of Calypso, likes to spin and dye, and hopes to breed a small flock from their starter group. The two new ones are from Oregon, both brownish, I'm told, and will be arriving soon. Susan uses plant dyes from plants she grows on the farm. Shetlands are apparently good all-purpose sheep, good for milking and meat, too.