Sunday, August 05, 2007

Crafty Tidbits

Acrylic Yarn and a New Word

A few weeks ago I learned a new word: tawashi. A tawashi is a Japanese scrubbie. (And "scrubbie", for anyone who doesn't use the term, is an English word for something you use to scrub dishes with.) What's interesting to me is that I've read they're typically crocheted with acrylic yarn. I've come across a lot of people online saying you must use cotton yarn for crochet and knit dishcloths, with no reason given, unless you count "because acrylic yarn in the kitchen--eww!" Now, I knew you could use acrylic yarn--my first few did--and that it worked fine. Also, as acrylic yarn dries much faster than cotton, it was arguably more hygienic. (I figure the longer the cloth hangs around damp, the longer nasty things that thrive in damp environments have to grow on it.) But people were so unanimous about not using it I wondered if they knew something about acrylic fiber I didn't. It's good to have some backup to my "it's okay" theory.

So if you have some cheap, scratchy acrylic, make tawashi. Scratchiness is a plus for scrubbing.

You can see one lady's pattern for a tawashi here. I haven't tried the pattern; I'm mostly linking it as an excuse to link the rest of her site, as she's obviously a very skilled crocheter and happens to reside in my home state.

Painting #10 Thread

I mentioned recently that I find size 10 crochet thread a bargain, as I can find it for 29 cents a ball at Goodwill and a ball lasts a long time; even paying retail, which I've never done, it isn't expensive, considering how far it goes. But, no more crocheting than I do, I don't want to clutter up my house with a lot of balls I won't use up. If you need a small amount of size 10 crochet thread in a color you don't have, you can make it yourself, provided you have some cheap acrylic paint on hand and don't mind taking a bit of time. I've tried this several times now, and the only color I had fail was black--I got a nice gray instead. How-to below.

Wind the desired amount of white or ecru thread onto a book or chair back, then loosely tie this skein with a bit of acrylic thread in six places so it won't become tangled during the dyeing. (Five ties will work for skinny skeins.)

Dampen the thread, if desired; I wouldn't bother for a tiny amount of thread, but for a thicker skein it can help get more even coverage.

Squirt acrylic paint in the desired color into a cup or plastic bowl. Thin with water and mix well; you don't want the mixture watery, just a bit more soupy than straight paint (the size of the "bit more" can vary according to the effect you're going for).

Submerge the thread and stir to coat thread with paint. (A bamboo skewer is handy for this.)

Leave to soak a while. I'd say at least half an hour, but how long depends mostly on when it will be convenient for you to do the next step; I've left it all day with no problem. Just leave it somewhere accessible so you can give the thread another stir every time you walk by.

Remove the thread from the paint and hold under running tap water to rinse. When you've rinsed it well, hang to dry.

Bamboo Skewers

Bamboo skewers, while we're near the subject, are a another good crafting bargain. Where I live you can get a pack of fifty, 9"-long bamboo skewers for under a dollar. In addition to poking holes in polymer clay and such like, you can make knitting needles with the skewers (mine gave US size 3); like Thompson's Individual String-ettes, there's a whole host of household uses.

This Blog

I recently began adding labels to past blog entries. I'm far from done and I may never get done because it is a mind-numbingly boring task, but I'm 99% sure I have gotten all of the crafts posts labelled. Not that I'm a good resource or anything, but just in case anyone is interested.

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