I Hamilton: I am a self-taught artist born in Crimea and now living in Norfolk UK. My passions are paintings,jewellery making and crocheting. I love to learn new techniques and use mixed media. Sometimes I try to combine completely different materials.
Plarn is the new yarn (or wool, as us Brits call it.) It’s name comes from combining the words ‘plastic’ and ‘yarn.’ Plarn is made up from folded and shredded plastic bags which are then rolled into a ball and is used as a replacement yarn. It is then crocheted into various items. I’ve seen bags, (like the above) necklaces, ear rings, koozies, cuffs, scourers, coasters and even headbands made from plarn. (Top image: Arny’s Etsy)
Yep, I said necklaces made from plarn. This was one of my favourites from the Arny shop, but if you wanted something a little more low key and less chunky you could opt for something like this:
The Arny shop strapline is; “Giving Earth a second chance.” And after a recent de-clutter and purge of my un-used “stuff” I came across Plastic Bag Mountain in our kitchen.
We have a huge collection of plastic bags and here’s why; we don’t drive otherwise we’d invest in some strong milk cartons which would carry our groceries home, so every time we hit the store, we (read: my husband) forget to pack our ‘Bags For Life’ (a cotton bag that the stores have taken to sell near the cash registers in order to encourage customers to opt out of using plastic bags.) So more plastic bags are used, collected, stored in the tiny kitchen we have and generally they get forgotten about.
I have heard it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill site. Bearing this in mind, I wanted to check this out for myself. There are conflicting studies; some studies suggest that it takes between 10-20 years to break down (The New York Times, Nemve E. Metropolitan Diary, October 1, 2001) and Ohio State University telling us that by adding moisture to a landfill site that it will speed up the decomposition process.
Either way, plastic bags are becoming a growing problem; clogging up drains, being a general eyesore and have even more serious fatal consequences when wildlife mistake plastic bags for food.
In the UK our supermarkets have started to charge it’s customers per bag when they opt for plastic as a way to bring down the usage of plastic bags.
So while I still have Plastic Bag Mountain I will opt to learn to crochet, make plarn and try my hand at plarning myself some necklaces for next Christmas. And thanks to eHow and their step by step “how to” on making plarn I can make my own ball of plarn.
Tish Maguire of Artish has no pets, which is understandable when you learn she has two girls, Poppy and Daisy, four and two respectively. Plus! By not having pets, she eliminates a whole aisle at the supermarket! Tish and her husband, Nigel, live in Hunter Valley, in New South Wales, Australia.
Tish traveled around a fair bit growing up; living in Papua New Guinea, the USA, and London, and visiting lots of other places. She lives in the country, about an hour or two north of Sydney. She likes being close to the vineyards and the mountains, not far from a myriad of beautiful beaches, and close to the city.
When/how/why did you start crocheting?
My mother taught me to crochet (and knit) a long time ago – but I didn’t ever really do anything with it for quite a while. My mother and I now live in different countries – so when I became interested in fiber again, I bought a book to refresh my memory. I’ve been making scarves and beanies randomly over the last 10 years, but mostly just for myself to wear – because I could never find what I wanted in shops, and because I like fashion to be personal, not mass produced. Then friends and family started asking me to make things for them, and I started giving my creations as gifts because the house was getting too crowded.
Aside from these reasons, I also had two babies, and needed something that was indoor-friendly and didn’t need to be put too far out of reach of little hands.
How do you figure out the color combinations?
My process is fairly random, and often accidental. When I do have a plan, it usually starts with an idea that requires hunting for the right fiber to create it. But most of the time I start with one ball of yarn that I love and then add colours or textures that just look or feel ‘right’ to me. If I find I can’t create anything and have Knitters Block, I will generally start with two yarns that I think DON’T go together, and I’m often pleasantly surprised by the results.
Where do you find your yarn?
My yarn comes from everywhere! Local shops, on the internet, on Etsy, from friends (I’ve even recently been offered the wool from a friend who has become the owner of a sheep!), and from re-purposed items that I unravel and reuse. I love the internet, and could (in fact, I probably do!) spend hours on there browsing yarn stores.
Do you have a favorite kind of yarn?
Not really. They each have their pros and cons. And it varies from season to season, and it depends on what I want to use it for.
Is this your day job or your side job?
This is my day job now. It started off as a hobby since I have two girls aged 2 and 4, who keep me very busy. It’s now become quite consuming, and is fast on it’s way to being a full time job.
Do you do other kinds of arts/crafts?
My first loves are painting and drawing. I found it difficult to paint when my girls were born, so I started turning to other creative things that I could do indoors, and could leave out without it being a hazard for the girls. Now it seems to have taken over, but I would like to get back to my art one day. I also love to sew, take photos, and play around with web design.
What is your best selling item?
Scarves are absolutely the best sellers. They are so versatile, and appeal to women, men, and children. After scarves, I’d have to say that wrist warmers are the biggest sellers.
Do you have a workspace or workroom? What does it look like?
I have a workroom. It is not ideal! It’s too dark and too small. It consists of some lovely square pigeon-hole-type shelving for my wool, and a desk where my sewing machine and other various bits and bobs live. I also have some shelves and big rectangular tubs for storage of completed and abandoned
projects. My scarves all hang on racks. Every now and then I am inspired to give it a thorough Spring Clean…. then it slowly ends up in chaos again as I create things!
If you love yarn and making things with yarn, then your new favorite place is Fibre Space. A beautiful, full-service yarn shop in Old Town, Alexandria, Fibre Space is the brain child of Danielle Romanetti and the brick-and-mortar manifestation of her popular mobile knitting club, Knit-a-Gogo.
Danielle started Knit-a-Gogo in 2006, teaching knitting and hosting fibre-loving events at coffee shops and bakeries in the DC area. Two years later, her client list and faculty had grown so much, she knew they needed a permanent home. In 2009, after careful planning and research, Fibre Space was born.
Danielle has created the perfect haven for knitters and crocheters because nobody loves yarn more than she does. She has done careful research and works hard to find the most beautiful and high-quality yarns in every imaginable category, for any project, and at every price point.
Fibre Space customers know they can rely on the shop for lovely natural-fiber yarns from both national brands and local spinners and dyers.
One of the most popular brands in the store is Neighborhood Fiber Company, from a local hand-dyer who names the colorways after beloved DC neighborhoods. The yarns are a favorite with locals and tourists alike, for both the ties to the nation’s capitol and their gorgeous, saturated color, which is unusual for hand-dyed yarn.
Danielle stocks her store very thoughtfully, and would love to tell you why she has chosen any particular product. Just ask!
In addition to the beautiful array of yarns, Fibre Space also provides books, patterns, needles, roving for needle felters and spinners, and notions of every kind. There’s also a space to sit and hang out with your latest project, as well as classroom space and an always-full calendar of events.
One of the most unique events hosted at Fibre Space is the Yarn Tasting. Periodically, Danielle partners with a local Alexandria business – a chocolatier or a bakery, for example – and invites her customers to come in and experiment with a new yarn and taste some locally-made goodies.
No full service yarn shop would be complete without an educational department, and Fibre Space definitely does not disappoint. With six experienced instructors (in addition to Danielle herself), the shop provides an extensive schedule of knitting and crocheting classes, appropriate for anyone ranging from the spanking-new beginner to the seasoned veteran. Private and semi-private lessons are also available.
Additionally, Fibre Space also hosts workshops on unique projects and techniques, like yarn dyeing or spinning. Other events include a Lock In Sock In, and the monthly Friday Night at the Movies. You can even host your own knitting or crocheting event at Fibre Space!
Fibre Space is located at 102 North Fayette Street in Alexandria, Virginia, and is open seven days a week, extra late on Thursdays and Fridays. You can keep up with what’s happening at the store, as well as progress on Danielle’s latest project, at the Fibre Space blog.
My favorite thing about the Try Handmade Gallery is that I know that every day I will be surprised by something wonderful. A perfect example is Chilli Crab. What wonderful intricate creations.
Chilli Crab: i am a german expat happily living in singapore with my husband and two sons. i really enjoy the freedom of being engaged with the things that i have been doing for more than 6 years now.
the biggest influence on me becoming a creative person definitely comes from my parents and my mother-in-law. my mother loved to do any kind of handcrafts, from knitting, crocheting to silk painting and sewing. she did everything. my father is talented with any kind of woodwork. and my mother-in-law is a great painter and artist in general.
but the decision to keep my fingers busy with other things than typing the keyboard in a software company came during my first pregnancy. i felt almost forced to create crochet treasures and made a lot of gifts for friends and family. after that my interest evolved into designing home accessories. later i got interested in creating jewelry. nowadays, i still maintain my interests in all these areas.