Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yes, "making do"

No negative connotation intended. I was referring to the World War II adage "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

Historically, the needle arts have helped with that kind of thinking significantly. Of course, if you make your own clothing, you are more inclined to repair it when it gets threadbare. People have also been known to unravel old items and reuse the yarn (it's recommended that you wind the yarn into a hank and let it hang in a steamy room for a little while to straighten it out before reworking it, btw). Lace edgings have frequently been used to cover threadbare fabric and worn shelf edges. And in the world of sewing, people have long cut up old garments and such so they can reuse the remaining good fabric (see this post for an example).

Other modern examples can be found through a brief search of the Internet, or better, Ravelry. For example, people make scrubbing pads by crocheting cut up plastic grocery bags. In the absence of an appropriate yarn, Practical Crocheter has found a better material by using hardware store nylon twine to make net shopping bags.

Repurposing things that would normally go to waste is not only economical and environmentally friendly, it's incredibly satisfying and has a long and proud place in American history that's worth identifying with.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Making Do?

Your process for making a rattle sounds perfect: using what you have in just a few minutes to make something you can use. There are lots of connections there, connecting you with your environment (resources), needs, abilities, and time available. A project with a beginning, middle, and end that goes out into the world with a purpose. How very satisfying! While your baby may not even notice the rattle, he may spend a small corner of his mind wondering forever what the 'hidden meaning' was behind the choice of colors and patterns in that rattle.

I vaguely recall wondering very seriously what the plot was in a little book I had as a small child: "ABC with Ant and Bee." Every page seemed disconnected from the one before -- the plot was very esoteric.

The title "Making Do" implies all kinds of negative stuff -- but maybe that is just me.

FAO Schwartz (among others) seems to be capitalizing on the ugly critter phase (probably started by that delightful book of "Stupid Sock Creatures" by John Murphy). Going from there to the Museum of Natural History in New York reminded me more that crocheting critters (or knitting them or sewing or whatever) may be a meditation on really cool shapes: some kind of shape for a body (maybe), adding fins, flippers, tails, ears, mouth (with or without teeth/tongue), nose, and legs/arms that keep dividing into smaller bits like toes/fingers. How delicious.... And then applying those ideas to the natural shapes suggested by specific stitches makes it more fun.

And it makes you look clever, too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Making Do

Baby toys. They need to be simple, safe, and sturdy. Bright colors are preferable so that baby will notice them, but not necessary. And how it looks isn't too important to the baby, just to the parents. At the same time, baby toys can cost an arm and a leg, and recent studies can put a new parent ill at ease about plastic toys certain to find their way into baby's mouth. So I make do.

My little one is just at the age that he's starting to enjoy toys. I wanted him to have a rattle. Unrelated to my baby, I also wanted to use up little bits and pieces of leftover sock yarn. I put a few dry black beans in an empty prescription bottle, closed the lid, and crocheted a cover around it in single crochet. I started with a hexagon just a little bigger than the diameter of the lid. Then I worked without increasing in a tube for the length of the bottle. Finally, I decreased six per round around the bottom of the bottle, trapping the bottle in the cover.

After making the cover, I did not finish of the project. I made a chain the length of the bottle and attached it with a slip stitch to the other end. I finished off after working a row of single crochet. The result, while not the most aesthetically pleasing rattle, but it does what it's supposed to do and the handle fits securely around my baby's wrist, so he won't drop it easily.