Here's a new yarn for you: plastic bags!
(My thanks to Angelkarhu, aka Angel Bear in the Knitting Community, for coming up with this suggestion. Her grandmother made something like this for use in the sauna.) I found the cutting instructions here. You can cut each plastic shopping bag into one long strip for weaving.
First you cut the seamed bottom off as well as the handles. Then straighten out the bag, so the fold at the top is gone (the bottom fold doesn't matter, but you can unfold that, too, if you like).
Next, using a rotary cutter or scissors, cut strips up to about an inch or two of the top edge. My strips are roughly 2" wide.
For this next step, I put a small cutting mat inside the bag so you could see what I'm doing, but you don't need to do that. You want to cut one end of the first slice so it comes free. Then cut from that one to the next, as shown here:
When you get to the last one, you just cut it loose. Don't worry if you make a mistake. If you end up with a short strip, you can just overlap slightly in weaving and it will stay put. Also, don't worry if you end up with skinnier and fatter pieces. It will work out.
One bag will make an inch to an inch and a half, depending on the thickness of the plastic and the size of the bag. Here it is on my loom:
The warp is 8/4 cotton carpet warp left over from my denim chair mats. (Remember those? See below.) The plastic bags were free, so this project was free, if you consider the carpet warp was going to waste. I'm going to get some synthetic carpet warp, though, for making more mats/placemats/bags, so the warp won't deteriorate with use.
My mat ended up 19.5" X 14.75". The size was determined by how much warp I had left. The shed doesn't open up as much when you get close to the end of the warp. I used a big boat shuttle until I ran out of room for it. Then I used a smaller boat shuttle, and finally I was just poking the strips through with a stick shuttle.
I'm planning on making a bigger mat for use in our trailer. This might also make great placemats. I've also seen beach bags and pillows made the same way. If you don't weave, you could use this same technique to make "yarn" to knit or crochet a beach bag or mat. It certainly isn't expensive! (I may have to go dumpster-diving to get more. We usually use reusable bags for our purchases!)
Remember the denim chair mats that provided this "free" carpet warp? I finished them, of course. This will sort of give you an idea of what they will look like in use:
I'm going to reupholster the arms of these chairs (we have two) and make a slipcover for each. The denim mats will protect the slipcovers from wear. (That's the plan, anyway.)
In knitting news, I've been working on a chemo hat for a friend who has breast cancer. This is my pattern. It has a brim of linen stitch and a crown of stockinette, which may be turned inside out for comfort. I finished the brim (which was challenging!) on Saturday and moved on to the crown. The yarn is Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere (a blend of 72% super wash, 15% nylon and 13% cashmere).
Dark yarn + linen st = impossible to see! In addition to not being able to see the stitches, I found that I had to concentrate to keep from going into autopilot on a 1 X 1 ribbing, because linen st requires slipping a st with the yarn either in front or back every other st. It's so like ribbing, I found myself having knit a few inches of ribbing by mistake. I couldn't listen to an audiobook or watch TV or even hear singing! I put some instrumental music on my iPad, and that helped. But I have a wandering mind, I'm afraid!
I switched to dpns at the end of the brim, which was knit back and forth, but I could only find 4 the right size, and I like to work with 5, so I ended up switching to Magic Loop. It's going better. I had planned on using two circular needles for this hat, but at Common Threads on Thursday, my friend Liana discovered after swatching diligently, that she needed smaller needles to get gauge on her project. Like a trooper, I passed her the circular needle I wasn't using yet. She's still using it. So there I am with Magic Loop. It works great!
Here's progress on the chemo hat:
That's about 1/5" of st st past the brim that gave me so much trouble.
Speaking of Common Threads, Lynda was crocheting a scarf. Everyone else was working on a new project with not much to show, and I was sewing binding on a charity quilt Julie had just finished quilting. Here's Lynda's scarf:
Karan is in the early stages of a bed-size quilt to go with the wedding album quilt she made for her son and DIL (the one using patches people who attended the wedding had written well-wishes on). Sorry, quilters, no photos yet. (I'm fired!)
And a bit of spinning has been done:
This is Full Circle Roving in "Fawn." I've decided to use all of the yarn spun from my Full Circle Roving to make a woven blanket. I have two bumps woven already. After this one, only two more. I'm working on getting my spinning finer and more consistent. I love my wheel!
Last Monday I went to the ophthalmologist, who took my bifocals away so I could get new lenses. I've been living with either my hiking (single vision, distance) glasses, or no glasses at all for close up. It's a struggle. Tuesday, Sunny and I were scheduled to visit the nursing home to give pet therapy, and we woke up to this:
DH got the driveway cleared in time, and we were only five minutes late.
I'm about recovered from my fall. I can still feel it, but can walk normally and am sleeping well.
It really is Miss Daphne's turn to be featured as a "gratuitous baby photo," but Soren just turned 9 months and Master Zachary is one year old today! We shared his birthday party by Skype. (The parents are working today, so they celebrated a day early.) The blocks are from us. Zachary has turned into a great demolition specialist! We could have used him when we tore up the house for the bathroom remodel!
Here's Soren resting up for the next 9 months. He pulls himself up to standing now and crawls like a GI. (The blankie was knitted by Mommy, one of her favorite patterns.)
What's on my needles: Not-Just-For-Chemo Reversible Cloche, working on the crown of the hat. Also
Daphne's Bunny Suit, back done, and Dogwood Blossoms. Ready to CO for Christmas Waffle Sweater, Part Deux as soon as the chemo hat is done.
What's on my loom: Empty, but planning to warp for a scarf using Imagination sock yarn and Palette. Maybe today.
What's on my wheel: Full Circle Roving in "Fawn."
What's on my iPad: Now I'm listening to Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear from Audible.com.
What's on my Featherweight: Delectable Pathways; no progress this past week, but I managed to get about half of the binding on the charity quilt. I'm getting up and down the stairs better, so maybe this coming week will show something.
What's in my wine glass: Fisheye Shiraz 2011. The big bottle. One of our faves.
Note: This blog post was produced entirely on the MacBook, using the iPad for photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for or cleaned.