There are a lot of things I make myself to avoid products in plastic packaging. I make my own chocolate syrup, for example, to avoid the kind in the squeeze bottle. And I’ve made my own cleaning and personal care products for years. But when it comes to durable goods, I’ve often opted to let someone else make it, relying on the handiwork of artisans on Etsy, for example. And while it’s great to support small business owners, my Buy Nothing New challenge is not going to allow that, which is cool because all of a sudden, I’ve rediscovered the joy of knitting and the feeling of pride that comes from making things with my own two hands again.
My First Scarf in Years
I used to knit all the time. In fact, I went through a period of compulsively knitting things for every person I knew. Why then, did I find myself on Etsy, this past November, searching for the perfect handmade scarf? I don’t know, but luckily, in the middle of my mad shopping frenzy, I suddenly remembered all the many scarves I had made for other people in the past and decided to break out the knitting needles for myself.
Practicing for my Buy Nothing New challenge, I committed to using only the yarn I still had in my stash instead of buying new yarn. I discovered that I didn’t have enough of any one color, and instead of mixing yarns and making it longer, I added some buttons scavenged from an old sweater to keep it closed. Is there a name for a short scarf like this?
Perhaps I would have had enough yarn for a longer scarf if I had scavenged the 100% cotton yarn from that sweater as well. Well, there’s always next time!
The Felted Checkbook Cover
A few days later, I once again found myself on Etsy, searching for the perfect handmade checkbook cover to replace the toxic vinyl one I was still using. (Remember how I was on a frantic mission to replace every remaining plastic item in my house?) My urge to buy got even stronger before the Buy Nothing New challenge because I suddenly had this anxiety that the new year would come and I wouldn’t be able to replace anything else.
And then, once again, an alternative thought kicked in. “You know Beth, a checkbook cover is just a rectangle of material folded and sewn together. You could knit a rectangle with the wool yarn you already have, felt it, sew it, and voila!” So that’s what I did. I used this felting guide to remind me of the steps in the washing machine felting process. Check out the results! (Sorry, I didn’t take pictures of the process.)
One of the benefits of making things yourself is the surge of happiness you get every time you use the handmade item. Like little doses of antidepressant throughout the day.
The Fabric Covered Storage Box
And then, in December, I found myself in Ikea of all places. Honestly, I haven’t been in an Ikea in years! (I’m always worried about getting lost in there and not being able to find my way out. Also, impulse shopping.) I went there for a very specific thing: a rod for hanging pots and pans in the kitchen. And I actually left without buying anything else! But during the excursion, I found myself scanning all of the furniture and storage departments for a container to store blankets in our living room.
I had been looking for the perfect blanket storage bin for many months since we like to have lots of blankets handy for getting cozy while watching Game of Thrones, or whatever show we’re binging on at the moment. About to give up and leave Ikea, I spotted an empty cardboard box of what looked like the exact right size, and once again, I thought, “Why am I assuming I have to buy something when I can just cover this box with fabric and make it myself?” So I asked a clerk if I could have it, and she said, “Sure!”
To attach the fabric, I used homemade glue. I didn’t have flour handy that day, so I used cornstarch instead.
I spread the glue on each side of the box with a fat paintbrush.
The fabric adhered perfectly!
This is fabric I purchased several years ago without a plan. I just saw it in a fabric store and fell in love with it. My friend Mark also made cushion covers for us from this fabric last year. Using things up!
I lined the bottom, using the same procedure, with fabric from an old tablecloth.
Arya jumped in immediately. Because, you know. she’s a cat.
And check it out… it fits perfectly under the end table in the living room and looks great!
As I mentioned in my last post, I plan to sew an ironing board cover (gotta relearn how to use the sewing machine), knit some fingerless mittens, and make a bunch of foods that normally come in glass jars from scratch. (Maybe even vinegar?) I’ll post those projects as I do them. This new challenge has me energized and excited again!