Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Quest for New-ness #4

The quest for New Things is always a win – for variety, for newness – but the exact result of the quest sometimes yields a few duds. Recently, I’ve scored two clear wins, but the jury is still out on the dud.

They all came from classes at Anchorage Community House, my new go-to place of learning and doing New Things. The other things I’ve made there have been wood projects, but the class description for Indigo Dyeing said, “Create beautiful indigo creations using the shibori dyeing technique.”

In class, we took our fabric and folded it, tied it, clothes-pinned it. Basically, we made a tight little wad so that when it sat in the indigo dye bath, we’d leave the marks of where dye absorbed and where it didn’t. Yes – shades of tie-dying! – that’s shibori.

This was a clear success. I think I’ll cut my bluish indigo-ish fabric into squares and make a quilt, but that’s a project for another day … or year.
While we were busy dyeing indigo, Meg told us of another Community House offering: Bundle Dyed Scarves. What I got out of this one was that we’d roll flowers and vegetables up in cloth and make patterns. This sounded sufficiently goofy and fun and useful – right up my alley.

Yup, we rolled rose petals and leaves and eucalyptus and flowers and bugs in silk. (The bugs are from cochineal insects which produce the crimson color. I first met them when visiting weavers in Peru.) Then we wound the silk around tin cans or sticks and tied it on really, really tightly. Then we stuck the bundle in boiling cabbage water.

Finally, our dye bath was over, and this one, too, was a great success. An artistic, silk, loop scarf will challenge my usual schtunk attire, but it’s soft and pretty … and can always make a nice gift.
So now we get to my last New Thing class:

“Learn to make bags out of plastic grocery bags. These bags are EXTRA sturdy and hold lots of weight. It’s easy. Just bring a scissors, a crochet hook the size of your pinky, and patience.”

What really amazed me was that everyone in the class brought their own Bags of Bags. We all have Bags of Bags … along with Boxes of Boxes and Containers of Containers. Even using cloth shopping bags, plastic bags accumulate. We were supposed to slice our plastic bags into strips, loop them together, and make “plarn,” plastic yarn. This class was a decluttering/recycling opportunity!

My only experience with crocheting was a Brownie project when I was little. I would ride my bike to Mrs. Goodhartz’s house for help crocheting Pierre the Poodle. Every trip, Mrs. Goodhartz would say, “My, my, these stitches are so very tight.” They were SO TIGHT they were impenetrable. If Pierre had ever been finished, he would have been airtight.

But this time, I was armed with a crochet hook the size of my thumb!

A crochet hook the size of one’s thumb is no protection against tight stitches. My thumb nail hurts from trying to pull stitches off the crochet hook. When I come around a row, things are so tight and jam-packed that it’s hard to tell what exactly qualifies as a stitch. Peggy, who took the class with me, said I must be adding stitches: instead of going up, my shopping bag is going out. I am making a plastic rug.
Mimi, who also took the class, said this sort of project would drive her mother crazy. Her mother doesn’t get quilting (“Why cut fabric up only to sew it together?”) so the idea of slicing plastic bags in order to crochet them together to make another plastic bag would strike her as ludicrous. I’m starting to agree.

I had to take a break for my thumb nail, cuticle, and spirit to recover, but then I cut my thumb slicing an onion. After bleeding on my plastic bag, things have ground to a halt.

In my Third Third, I get to abandon projects that aggravate more than they please. Maybe I’ll recycle my crocheted plastic and call it a draw. Then I’ll sit and re-admire my indigo-dyed fabric and flower-dyed silk.


  1. The two dyeing projects seem to be about art, while the plarn project is more about recycling. For you, at least. So next time, maybe you should go for the art project over the recycling project?

    1. I think it has more to do with my crocheting in-ability. The bag would be pretty ... if I ever got it done.


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