Ilivetolearn's Blog

April 17, 2009

trying to convert people to my latest idiosyncratic hobby

Filed under: fused plastic,sewing/knitting,upcycling/recycling — ilivetolearn @ 1:17 pm

I’m getting ready to spend the day at the Hopewell Valley Greenmarket tomorrow, demonstrating how to fuse plastic and make bags. So I wrote up the process with pictures and made it a “page.” Scroll down the right-hand side to find it, under the calendar, the archives, the category cloud, the blogroll, pretty much at the bottom of that column. Have fun.

March 30, 2009

felting, fulling, fusing, forgiving

Filed under: fused plastic,laundry,sewing/knitting,Uncategorized,upcycling/recycling — ilivetolearn @ 1:22 pm

I have now spent weeks producing fused plastic and making it into tote bags. I learned how from an Etsy tutorial, and also got hints from and Pretty much every site compares the plastic “fabric” we are creating to Tyvek in that it is lightweight, durable, waterproof, and easy to sew. So I thought I’d check out the official Tyvek website: Wonder of wonders, they have the audacity to call Tyvek “The original nonwoven technology.” There are Mongolians and others in central Asia who would dispute this. They’ve been producing felt (the real original nonwoven technology) for thousands of years, predating weaving, knitting, and pretty much any other fiber work. I know this because I recently went to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for a fantastic felt exhibit.

I was carrying the bag pictured below, which I call “felted” but is actually “fulled.” Fulling is subjecting previously knitted or woven material to wetness and compression to make the fibers bond together tightly, whereas true felting is subjecting fiber itself, recently on the sheep but cleaned and carded, to wetness and compression. Many people have fulled something by mistake, as I did when I washed one of my adult-sized hand-knit sweaters in the machine and it came out fitting Elliot, then 4. The buttonholes I had carefully spaced out on the right side of the cardigan shrank themselves out of existence and I had to install a zipper. So to get the bag to its current size (about 9-10″ in either dimension) I had to knit a sack resembling a pillowcase. Fortunately the fulling process hid all the imperfections of my first attempt at entrelac…the knitter’s term for the diamond pattern.

Fusing is equally forgiving…if you have the iron on too hot and produce some holes you can just patch them up with a few more layers of plastic bags. Next I’ll work on installing zippers.

February 26, 2009

Fusing madness

Filed under: fused plastic,sewing/knitting,upcycling/recycling — ilivetolearn @ 10:07 pm

Now that we’ve collected approximately three dozen fabric bags of all varieties for grocery hauling (when we don’t forget and leave them in the car), I am ignoring them in favor of getting more plastic ones to feed my fusing addiction. I even (and this embarrasses the girls no end) fish used ones out of the receptacles in the entryways of markets, especially when I see exciting new colors. Neighbors have taken to leaving pink or coral ones in my mailbox. Menus are planned around which food is in the bag I most covet for my next project. I did the carbo loader:img_0750and a purple one for Margo (whose friends all now want bags):

img_0741and an eye-smarting cross-pollination of Forever 21 and CVS:


Coming soon, thanks to today’s dumpster-diving, is one with a sea creature theme (we don’t eat at Red Lobster, but some local shopper does).

It’s as satisfying as quilting. Actually more so, since each project is done in an hour or less, and 99% of the raw materials are free.

I love upcycling.

February 19, 2009

Mystery destinations

Filed under: food/groceries,fused plastic,mystery destinations — ilivetolearn @ 10:46 pm

Bill and I have a new way to keep each other guessing.  OK, we’ve only done it twice but I predict it will become a tradition. We pick a few hours when neither has anything going on; one chooses an outing and the other is in the dark. The first was to the Food Bazaar in Trenton–Bill told me we were going to a new grocery store and I didn’t believe him–

What a trip. It’s one of 15 stores run by the Bogopa Food Services Corporation, most of them in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, and it’s an amazing conglomeration of international foods, mostly from Central and South America and the Caribbean. Plus produce pyramids rising to the ceiling, every variety of meat you’d ever want to try and many you wouldn’t (beef pizzle, anyone?) and a seafood section that rivals any port in the world (Barcelona comes to mind). Reflecting the neighborhood it’s in, Latino foods reign. If there were a few more Asian specialties, we’d be there very week instead of twice a month.

And so our fusion cooking/shopping outings will contribute to the fusion bags (see last post).

“My feet are on back order.”

Filed under: fused plastic,random quotes,sewing/knitting — ilivetolearn @ 3:16 pm

Recently Margo has taken to quoting random lines from commercials. Her latest was, “Fine. I’ll put away my toaster.”

Inspired by this, I had to report the above quote from the saleslady at Jo-Ann’s. I was there to buy bobbins, but thought I might ask whether I was using the proper needle to sew through plastic. I’ve been putting my Viking through heroic deeds that were not in the minds of its inventors; after warming up with pj pants and a beanbag chair (Christmas gifts) I moved on to snowpants


and a series of fused-plastic tote bags


but  I had noticed that the feed dogs didn’t like moving the plastic under the needle. Turns out, according to the experts, any needle would do and the feed dogs would be happy if I just bought a Teflon-coated presser foot. But they were out of stock.

So I left with bobbins, without the foot, but with a nice line for Margo to insert into a future conversation.

December 22, 2006

navidad y las tres reinas

Filed under: food/groceries,fused plastic,random quotes,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 12:01 pm

This year Christmas feels more like Christmas. We have a real tree, and supplemented the cheap gold and red balls from the Chinese store with dozens of hot-bead creations (we’ve been good customers of the Perler company over the years) made by just about every family member. We’ve gotten more cards this year and have displayed them on a bulletin board. We’ve made sugar cookies and gingerbread persons in our new oven. There are clementines studded with cloves here and there in the house for aromatic value.

We even have a large sprig of mistletoe, brought by houseguests. It was problematic to hang in the doorway (all the tall males in the family kept crashing into it) and had to be moved higher twice. Evan, who made his appearance a week or so after its installation, ran into it, sending leaves and berries flying, and said, “OK, who hung dead stuff?” We decided it had outlived its usefulness.

And as for adopted Spanish traditions, we will have a shrimp feast again on Christmas Eve, eat some turron (nougat), and go to the Cabalgata de Los Reyes (Three Kings Parade) on January 5th, though we stop short of doing the present exchange on the 6th. It really makes sense for children to send wish-lists to Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar (rather than Santa), since they were the original gift-bearers in the nativity story. I’ve read that the Church of England, three years ago, decided to drops “kings” in favor of “magi,”making them more gender-neutral. This, I think, gave rise to the joke:
Q: “What if the three wise men were women?”
A: “They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, brought practical gifts, and there would be peace on earth.”

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