Wiggedy wiggedy wiggedy washcloth

For those of you who figure they’re doing just fine in their consumerism, I ask you: where do you buy your washcloths?

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I used to buy mine at the Dollar Store. We’re not even going to talk about that.

Do you know how easy it is to knit a washcloth? Very. And this is coming from me, whose abilities are on par with a ten-year-old from the 1950s. Want to make this washcloth? I know you do. I knitted this much of it in three hours. (I was watching Out of Africa.)

To make this washcloth, you need to know how to knit and purl. You’ll also need a good-sized ball of cotton yarn (or two smaller balls) and a pair of size 8 needles.

Cast on any uneven number of stitches. For this picture, I cast on 40, but should have done 41. That way you’ll have a knit stitch on both ends, which will help the washcloth lie flat.

For the first row, knit all the way across. For the second row, knit all the way across again. This will form a good solid starting row.

For the third row, knit 1, purl 1 across. You should start with a knit stitch, and end with a knit stitch.

For the fourth row, knit all the way across.

Repeat the third and fourth rows until the washcloth is long enough.

See? It’s as simple as that–a pattern you can get lost in. If you want to try seed stitch, then repeat the third row for the whole washcloth.

“What if I Need…” Underwear Edition

When it comes to buying handmade, underwear is not on the top of anyone’s list, but if you think about it, it’s an item we buy often from sweatshops.  I’m guessing the number one reason that people don’t buy handmade underwear is because it almost conjures up an image of buying it used, and yes, I’ll agree, that’s gross.  But it’s not used- and it’s awesome.  Here are some options for men and women if you’re tired of getting the 12-pack made in China, or the $15 mall pair made in Sri Lanka.


 Boxer Retro - KARMA SUTRA
Tank Boy Short Brief Organic Cotton Red Camisole - Womens Lingerie Made To Order - 'Tiger Lily' lingerie set in bamboo with laced trim panties and camisole  -  BON BON range - made to order
ELCEE Pink Ruffled Silk Side Tie Panties with gold ribbon Bows Bikini Panties -stretchy hemp organic cotton 7 days of eco-unders
Nighttime Fully Waterproof YOUTH Bedwetting Underwear with Bamboo, Organic Cotton Soaker -Size 5/6 Choose Your Colors Bamboo / Organic Cotton Leggings Set of Two, Upcycled T shirt  potty training underwear, Size 3T boys

Happy New Year!

Sewing Family Aprons by goshyarnit on flickr

Happy new year everyone!  I’m sure that for many of you, 2013 represents a brand new start after what may have been quite a harrowing year- I know it is for me.  My goal this year is to buy the least amount of sweatshop goods that I can- and I’ll be providing tips on how you can do that too, right here.  Need a few basics?  How about:

  • shop at thrift stores (Goodwill gets so many new castoffs from stores like Target, Walmart, and other biggies that you can even buy things like toiletries there- brand new- for less)
  • shop local handmade (you’d be surprised to discover just what those in your community can make)
  • shop online handmade (Etsy is a big one here, but eBay and Bonanza are great as well)
  • make your own (you can do it!)
  • commission someone you know to make you something (they’d probably be glad to help and get paid!)
  • consider creative alternatives to typical products (recycling paper sacks is a great way to avoid having to buy plastic trash bags)

Let’s make 2013 our best year yet!

Recycle it: Jam and Jelly Jars

decorated jars of cookies by tkdtara84 on flickr

I love doing a jar recycling post around Christmas because they make such excellent and easy Christmas gifts.  Growing up poor, both my mother and my grandmother saved containers with a fastidiousness that used to rile my father to no end.  They provided a plethora of inexpensive toys when my sister and I were young, and when got older, a cheaper alternative to the Tupperware we needed when eating leftovers three days in a row.  It was conveyed to me at a young age how important it was to save things- you never know when you might need them.  Well, couple that with an obsession for recycling in a town where no recycling program is set up, and suffice to say I have tons of plastic and glass containers lying around the house.  My consumption of plastic has decreased thanks to this, because I am always trying to find food in recyclable containers.  I am not, however, good at taking my crate o’ recyclables down to town to put them in the bin.  So I’m making it my goal this year to make use of some of these containers before my roommate starts to complain.

Decorating jars and containers is incredibly easy.  All you need is glue and something to glue on: beans and lentils, magazine scraps, fabric, yarn, glitter.  If you’d rather, coat the jar or container with white acrylic paint and then when that’s dry, paint over it however you’d like.  Then fill it with anything you prefer and put a ribbon on it.  Instant gift!

Not sure what to give?  Try some of these culinary favorites:

cocoa mix
dry bean soup mix
applesauce
cookies
jelly, jam, or apple butter (for this decorating the jar AFTER you fill it is recommended)
preserves
dried herbs
vinaigrette dressings
pickles
dog treats

If you need something non-edible, why not try:

beads
bath salts
shells
agates or beach glass
homemade oils
decorative nature, like moss or pine cones
small toys
love coupons
rose buds

Happy crafting!

News Break: The People Who Make Our Clothes And Conditions They Face

The Diane Rehm show had an excellent broadcast today about the workers who make our sweatshop clothing and the conditions they deal with.  It is interesting to note that in many of the articles I have read regarding the Bangladesh factory fire, they all say “conditions like this are common in factories in Bangladesh”.  Why can we write that over and over with a straight face?  How can we not take it as seriously as it is?

This photo is from this article in the New York Times concerning a similar incident in Pakistan.

You can listen to the broadcast on the website or download the podcast.

How To: Make Your Own Buttons

Whether they’re functional or embellishment, buttons are grand, and by making your own you can personalize your accessories, mend clothes and more!  This is a simple button tutorial that anyone with a little imagination can do.

You will need:

  • scrap fabric (I used small scraps of a shirt I tore apart to make a bag)
  • fabric scissors
  • sewing thread / embroidery floss
  • rings (plastic rings can be bought at fabric stores for making curtain tie-backs, but you can use anything ring-shaped, from metal washers to belt hooks)
  • any decoration you like (beads, appliques, &cetera)

To create a button, you will need to cut the fabric about an inch around the ring you are using.  In my case I used a plastic ring (Dritz makes a sturdy and inexpensive one).

Make a simple running stitch halfway between the ring and the edge of the fabric.  It is good to double your thread here, or use carpet/upholstery/denim thread.  If you are using a ring shape that is flat (like a metal washer) be sure to make your running stitch far enough outside the edge of the ring to cover the edges completely in the back, but not so far away that the fabric is loose around the ring.

Place the ring inside the fabric and pull the stitches tight.

you can now tuck any extra fabric you have inside the ring to plump it a little.  at this point, if you wish to stuff your button, you can do so.

As you can see, the button looks good at this point, and if you would like to leave it as it is you can skip straight to sewing on the back surface.  I decided, however, to add a little definition by sewing a line around the inside of the button with a back stitch and white embroidery thread.  I left the needle with black thread attached, as I wanted to use it to sew the back surface as well.

Now, cut a circle slightly smaller than your button out of felt or another piece of fabric, and whip stitch it to the back of the button to cover the innards.

You now have a finished button!

There are a few options for attaching your button to something else.  you can anchor a tiny strap of felt to the back with a few stitches, allowing it to be sewed on with ease.  Or you can embroider a loop (a bullion stitch works great for this.)  A third option is to sew the back surface directly to the item, if you are using the buttons as decoration.

Happy crafting!