If you are interested in recycling and re-using, making do and mending, to both save money and care for the environment, you will be pleased to discover that crochet can add years of extra usefulness to household items.
Back in 2009, I discovered my yellow hand towels beginning to fray around the edges. I use hand towels a lot because hand washing is a big deal at my place.
The theory is that autoimmune diseases like lupus are caused by an overactive immune system. To illustrate, here's a typical scenario:
Instead of sending 10 soldiers to knock out that cold virus, the overactive immune system sends 100. After the first 10 get the job done, the next 90 arrive looking for a fight and attack nearby cells regardless of whether they are foreign invaders like a cold virus or whether they are the body's own useful cells.
What's that got to do with hand towels and hand washing?
My medications to control the symptoms work by dampening the body's immune response.
|2016: Corner details.|
Notice the chequered pattern in the fabric
which inspired the filet crochet edging choice.
(L-R) Patterns 2 and 5.
Prevention is always better than cure in my book so infection control is a large part of my strategy for staying well. Germs and infection are often spread through hands and direct contact. In my family, we wash our hands frequently throughout the day: whenever we enter the home, after using the toilet, before handling food and between activities. Towels are washed and changed daily so our hand towels get heavy use!
|August 2009: a freshly trimmed towel,|
when it still had years of life left in it.
The chequerboard jacquard pattern in
the fabric inspired the chequerboard
This was my first ever attempt at crocheting
a thread border onto fabric.
The solution: new tidy, crocheted edges!
The frayed edges were squared off with a rotary cutter and then overcast with the sewing machine. I was still very new at sewing with no experience of working with towelling fabrics so the results are a little uneven.
A blanket stitch was hand sewn around the edges of the towel; the foundation row of crochet was worked into the blanket stitches.
|Top: Pattern 5 (Chequerboard)|
Bottom: Pattern 2 (Columns)
The edging patterns (Numbers 2 & 5) were taken from a German booklet of handkerchief edgings (listed below). Because the towel fabric had a square chequerboard pattern on it, I chose square-ish filet crochet edging patterns. Pattern 5 echoes the chequerboard theme and Pattern 2 has columns.
The edges were made with mercerised cotton thread in a variegated colour. Cotton was chosen because of its strength and ability to withstand hot wash temperatures. I did not record the hook and yarn at the time. The yarn would have been between size 8 and size 20 in weight.
Photos of the newly-edged towels can also be found on a Ravelry project page.
|The towels are looking a bit world weary in 2016|
but their crocheted edges are still intact.
I am especially impressed with the colourfastness
of the mercerised cotton thread.
In recent years, these towels had been relegated to the laundry for wiping hands after messy jobs like gardening and cleaning but the pretty edgings have kept them presentable. When hung on towel rings, it is no longer noticeable that they are not quite square any more.
For a low-income household like mine, new towels are a luxury and rarely affordable.
Crochet extended the life of these towels by 7 years!
Hooray for Crochet!
Further Links & References
MEZ Garne, MEZ Lehrmuster mit Anregungen für Textiles Werken und Gestalten, Blatt „Simona” 9160, patterns 2 & 5.
This is a crochet booklet for working with lace thread. The publication date is unknown but there is a clue: this booklet has a marked price of DM 1,‒ (1 German Mark). If you have any idea of the age of this booklet, please let me know.
"Towel Renovation", Ravelry project page: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Jodiebodie/towel-renovation
Some coincidences are very useful. Here I was, thinking about using crochet to give my linen a new lease on life, when Tamara Gooderham (crochet teacher and friend of Lupey Loops) retweeted a link about 'up-cycling' which had a big photo of tea towels with pretty crocheted edgings.
This led me to the LoveCrochet (online shop) blog article, "Editor’s inspiration: crochet upcycling!" which was a general discussion of different ways to use crochet to spruce up your home. There was the photo of the pretty tea towels again which linked to an earlier article on the same blog, "Crochet with Kate: pretty crochet edging" which gave instructions about how to add edgings to tea towels.
The tutorial was written by blogger Kate Eastwood of Just Pootling where she writes about her experience creating these pretty edgings. She discusses the materials and how she felt about the projects in her blog entry, "Crochet Edgings" and generously shared the fine details of the process with Merion of LoveCrochet.
I love how a simple tweet from Tamara can lead me on a trail of new discoveries. I hope these links (in order of discovery) are helpful:
- Blog, Crafty Escapism: http://www.craftyescapism.com/
- Twitter, @craftyescapism: https://twitter.com/craftyescapism
- "Editor’s inspiration: crochet upcycling!" by Merion, 14 April 2016: http://blog.lovecrochet.com/editors-inspiration-upcycling/
- "Crochet with Kate: pretty crochet edging" by Merion, 18 July 2015: http://blog.lovecrochet.com/pretty-crochet-edging/
- Blog, Just Pootling: http://justpootling.blogspot.com/
- "Crochet Edgings" 20 July 2015: http://justpootling.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/crochet-edgings.html
Patterns for Practice
Here are three downloadable leaflets for three different weights of yarn from Spotlight, an Australian craft chain:
- Milford Jumbo Crochet Cotton Size 10, "Crochet Edgings Project Sheet" [PDF], Spotlight, Australia: http://www.spotlightstores.com/projects#jumbo-edgings/
- "Milford Soft 3 ply Crochet Edgings" [PDF], 'Feel the Yarn' series, Leaflet 15.03.05, Spotlight, Australia 2014: http://www.spotlightstores.com/projects#milford-soft-3ply-crochet-edgings/
- "Marvel 8 ply Embellished Tea Towels"[PDF], 'Feel the Yarn' series, Leaflet 15.05.04, Spotlight, Australia 2014: http://www.spotlightstores.com/projects#marvel-8ply-embellished-tea-towels/