Thursday, 28 June 2018

Simple Stashbusters

This project is simpler than it looks.
Sometimes life becomes complicated–too many demands, activities, people, places, things, expenses, deadlines and other pressures!

This is when the fancy, challenging, thought-intensive crochet needs to be set aside in favour of easy, meditative projects.

"Simplify" is the operative word and that extends to my crochet environs as well–I am in danger of acquiring a condition called 'SABLE': Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. *

Therefore I am doing my best to combine clutter busting with stash busting.

I find visual clutter distracting and energy-draining. Buying more yarn to add to the clutter is too draining on my wallet which seems to be suffering from its own disease, the symptoms of which leave it with less cash than it needs to function properly–hypocashitis? hypochrimata (to stick to the Greek origins of the hypo- prefix)?


1. Go through the house and find all the yarn that:
  • is in the way
  • is hiding in strange places
  • has no proper home
  • has lingered for way too long
  • is not allocated to a specific project
  • was once bought for a specific project that no longer holds interest
  • you can't stand the sight of any more! 

2. Reach for the 'Remnant Tin' or whatever you use to store the leftovers from finished projects. Salvage those teeny-tiny scrappy amounts of less than 10 grams here and there before they become even more annoying.

Two hexagons crocheted
together on four sides
make a cute pouch
with a button closure.
3. Examine the colours, fibres and weights of yarn available. 
  • Which colours can be combined into a project? 
  • What type of project suits that yarn?

4. Choose a project to suit the yarn on hand:
  • What type of product do I want or need to make?
  • Review Ravelry project queue
  • Go through stack of patterns printed off but not started
  • Peruse pattern collection online and on the bookshelf
  • Look for 'scrap' in the titles
  • Look for projects that can be made with multiple colours
  • Seek projects that are quick to finish before you have time to change your mind!
Find a project that's simple and easy to follow! Simple stitches; simple structures. The world does not need another UFO** in a corner. (We're probably running quite out of corners at this rate anyway!)  If it's a portable project, even better as there will be more opportunities to work on it.

5. Be motivated. Check the pattern. Grab the yarn. Grab the hook. Get started! Now, GO!

My 'Remnant Tin'
34 x 26.5 x 8 cm
Reach for the Remnants!

This is my Remnant Tin. It was originally kept for the purpose of storing all my 4-ply cottons regardless of whether they were remnants or not but, as the years went by, specific projects required the purchase of more 4-ply cotton. Then friends gave me some of their leftovers and now my 4-ply cottons won't all fit!  The scraps ended up in the tin while the fuller reels are in a bag taking up space where they shouldn't belong.
Inside the 'Remnant Tin' are 4-ply cottons of various
colours, amounts, ages and conditions.

I want that space back!
I want to do something else with that bag!
"Let's reclaim that tin!"
I ordered myself sternly.
This inconvenience has gone on long enough.

And another thing …

Every time I go to the supermarket, I become more bothered with the use of plastic bags.  South Australia banned single-use plastic shopping bags back in 2009.  The other states are kicking up a big fuss about it at the moment because they are only making plastic bag laws now but we have survived quite well without the white plastic carry bags and have found suitable alternatives.

In South Australia (where I live) it hasn't been a total ban on plastic bags anyway. There have been exceptions to the laws such as the small, lightweight plastic bags called "barrier bags" that are commonly  used to carry fruit and vegetables or wrap around meat packages but these bother me too because they are still plastic and still can cause harm in our environment.

There's no denying these little bags have been handy–I re-use mine on multiple shopping trips and when they are too dirty, I use them to line small indoor rubbish bins–but they are still plastic and that's not good.

I applaud the supermarket in my region that has replaced the plastic barrier bags with a biodegradeable and compostable substitute.  The compostable bags are first used in the shop to buy and weigh the produce and bring it home. They become the perfect liner for small kitchen bins designed to collect green waste and cooking scraps. When the bin is full, drop the bag into the compost bin, or if you do not have one, use the household bin designated for green waste and the council will have it commercially composted and sold in garden centres for you to buy and use on the garden.  Unfortunately, my local supermarket does not offer compostable bags (yet).

My crocheted solution!
This bag is holding 7 potatoes, 5 mandarines,
4 apples, 3 lemons and 2 bananas.
I feel a bit like the "Very Hungry Caterpillar"!
(Where's the slice of chocolate cake?)
You can see how far the bag can stretch–perfect for larger items
like lettuces, cabbages and cauliflowers etc.

Old-fashioned? Maybe … maybe not. It's not old-fashioned if the times demand that I use my own shopping bags. I have gone back to the collection of 'string bag' patterns gathered over the years starting with a vintage Patons pattern for a 4-ply mesh bag.

String bags have more air than fabric which will make it easier for weighing my produce.  This bag weighs 35 g though which is much heavier than the current "barrier bags" which weigh 3 g.

The source of this pattern is uncertain because it appears on a page torn from a vintage Australian pattern booklet. It was given to me many years ago by Val C. who taught me my first stitches and to whom this blog is dedicated.

There is no fancy pattern name, my only clue is "Patons 4 Ply Gem" in the heading of the page column.

On Ravelry, there is a Patons pattern listed as "Vintage Mesh Bag". Now out of print, this pattern is available for free through a link on Fingers' Fancy blog by Ruth which takes you to a page from the book Gifts and Accessories by Beehive (Book 90).

The Patons vintage mesh bag
just finished and unblocked,
showing the three
different colours from my
stash of leftover 4-ply cotton.

The mesh was not blocked in
order to maintain the
stretchiness of the chain loops.

That (Beehive) page is obviously from a different (and likely older) publication than mine.  Interestingly, it recommends nylon be used which is understandable as it is an extremely strong fibre but with the growing social awareness of environmental issues, I am glad that my version recommends cotton.

Ruth of Fingers' Fancy (blog) clearly states her intention of reducing the use of plastic bags by crocheting these mesh bags in a blend of 41% cotton / 34% hemp cellulose / 25% rayon-viscose and giving them as gifts.  Ruth's mesh bag pattern is in American terms and, while similar to mine, remains a different pattern altogether.

Both of these patterns are designed so that the bag can be compressed and stored in its own base. Ruth's Beehive pattern has a round base. My Paton's pattern has a hexagonal base.
The bag can be stored in its base when not in use.
Use the button to keep the mesh bag in the base
while allowing the handles to be free.


My Project Details

Pattern:  vintage (unspecified) designed for Patons Gem 4 ply cotton.

Yarn: 4 ply cotton, approx 35 g
• Blue/white variegated vintage 16g
• Navy unlabelled approx 6 g
• Sullivans Natural Soft Crochet & Knitting Cotton 4 ply Equivalent, Colour 40266 Sapphire, Lot 4484, approx 11 g

Hooks: 2.00 mm & 2.50 mm  

Ravelry project page:

The pouch can be stored on a hook
or tuck the handles in to store in
your handbag or car glove box.
This was a therapeutic project for me–simple, non-demanding, easy to take along to be available as needed–so I did not concern myself with fine finishing details; e.g. "near enough is good enough"; it doesn't matter that my woven in ends are slightly visible or that my stitches are not the most even. 

I didn't even concern myself with colour symmetry or making regular stripes!  I just used a colour until it was through and joined the next colour at random as required. When placed next to each other, the three skeins did not harmonise well at all but somehow, they all work together in this bag once it is filled with groceries. That's a bonus.

The goal was to have a functional grocery bag and that I have.  Modifications were considered along the way, such as types of handles and their positions, size etc. but chose to follow the pattern verbatim so that I have an accurate prototype as a reference, especially since I plan to try out a range of patterns to find the best plastic bag substitute for my needs.

This style of 'market bag' is becoming fashionable again. (Have they ever really gone away?) While seeking the source of my torn pattern page, I came across a number of similarly styled shopping bags which I will add to the Reference List at the end of this blog entry. I have not used any of those patterns myself (yet) so cannot endorse any of them but they might be worth a try.

Meanwhile, I'm happy on all fronts:
  • Using this bag will help the environment and reduce the demand for plastic bags (and reduce my plastic bag guilt in the process).
  • It met the task as a quick project for relaxation during an especially stressful time.
  • It was satisfying because I had been wanting to make this pattern for a long, long time and now I have done it.
  • It was a successful stashbuster, finishing off two different colours of 4 ply cotton.
2018 is the year for a stashbusting spree so the next crochet projects you see on Lupey Loops will be all the stashbusting projects I've been steadily working through and meditating on while seeking solace from recent stressful circumstances.

May crochet bring happy stash- and stress-busting!

Have you been stashbusting recently?

*The term SABLE is credited to Canadian knitter, blogger and author Stephanie Pearl-McPhee of Yarn Harlot who is quoted from her book At Knit's End: Meditations for Women who Knit Too Much.  []

**UFO: Yarncrafting slang for Un-Finished Object.

Related Posts on Lupey Loops

"Handy Shower Gel Hanger: New Pattern!", 3 March 2016:

"Easter Greetings & More Stash-busting Mini Baskets", 5 April 2015:

"Quick Gifts in April", 8 May 2014:

My Patons Vintage Mesh Bag
after being stretched by use.

Carle, Eric, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, originally published by World Publishing Company, USA, 1969; ISBN: 978-0-14056-932-2, Penguin UK, 2003.

Croucher, Judy, "Provence Crocheted Market Bag":
• Web-letter, Issue 3, Classic Elite Yarns:
• Ravelry:

DROPS Design, "106-35 Crocheted and Knitted Bag", Oslo, Norway:
• Ravelry:
• Online, printable pattern:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "Plastic Bag Ban", online article, Government of South Australia, accessed 26 June 2018:

Fingers' Fancy - a craft blog "Vintage Mesh Bag" [blog entry], 18 August 2007:

Knitted Moon Designs, "Mango Market Bag", free Ravelry download (pdf):

Mayumi Kawaii (河合真弓), "Net Market Bag", printed publications, Sekai Bunka Publishing Inc. (世界文化社), Japan:
Summer hats & bags Best Selection (夏の帽子とかごバッグ ベストセレクション), 2016.
Summer hats & bags 夏の帽子とかごバッグ, 2011.

Patons, "Vintage Mesh Bag" by Patons, Ravelry project page:

Patons Design Studio, "Eco-Friendly Carryall", 11 April 2011, Canada:

Pearl-McPhee, Stephanie:
  • At Knit's End: Meditations for Women who Knit Too Much, paperback & audiobook, ISBN 978-1-58017-589-0, Storey Publishing, North Adams MA, USA 2005 
  • Yarn Harlot [blog], "Stephanie Pearl-McPhee goes on (and on) about knitting.", 2004–present, Canada;

Shepherd, Ruth, "Tuck Away Tote", Crochet World, DRG, 306 E. Parr Road, Berne, IN 46711, USA, 1999–2007:



  1. What a great make on so many levels, that is one that I have put on my to do list.

    1. I'm glad you like it. I'm keen to see how my other string bag patterns turn out - I have a few in books and pamphlets which use a range of yarn weights from size 10-12 thread to DK cotton. Then add the new patterns I found while writing this blog entry and it should be enough to keep me busy for some time.

      I can't imagine how long YOUR 'to do' list would be! You are always busy making, baking, fixing etc. What kinds of crafty projects are keeping you busy at the moment?

  2. I have been making shopping bags too.

    1. Hi Kylie,

      Do you have your shopping bags on display online anywhere else besides your Facebook page "A Bag and a Hat"? I love the upcycling you are sharing and your bag made from old electrical wiring looks great - colourful, strong and with a no-waste ethic!

      I will be recommending that people have a look at the Waste Not Want Not exhibition this month at the Pepper Street Arts Centre in Adelaide. Congratulations on having your work included.

      I hope we will cross paths sometime again with our crafts.
      Cheers! Here's to the power of a hook! xx

  3. Such a terrific project. I need to be better about not using the bags in the store although I do recycle them and everything else I can get my hands on. My stash was under 19,000 yards before my trip to New York. I am going to North Carolina in July and will visit one store while there, but other than that no other yarn purchases are allowed this year. Just using what I have.

    1. I admire your efforts to only use stash. I am guilty of purchasing a little bit more at the Beanies to Berets Creative Textile Weekend - souvenir yarn! Seriously, I did have projects in mind for the yarns bought. I have been looking for suitable substitutes for discontinued yarns for ages and here they were, so I grabbed them while I had the opportunity.

      Now my yarn calendar is full!

      Do you already have a yarn and project in mind for your planned North Carolina purchase?

      You measure your stash in yards. How do you keep track of that? Does Ravelry do it for you? My Ravelry stash will tell me how many different skeins I have but I can't find the yardage listed as a grand total anywhere. I am hoping I don't need to use my manual calculator to add up the totals of hundreds of yarn entries.
      Perhaps it is better not to know!

      Happy travels Meredith! :-)

    2. Hi Jodie, I don't usually get your replies to comments unless I go back to your blog and check. I am going to make a shawl with my NC yarn to go with a dress I will be wearing when I attend a wedding in August. I do keep track of yarn by yards on my own, not with Ravelry as I really don't list my yarn on that site. I started to put my yarn on Ravelry and I just did not finish so I keep it on a spreadsheet in a folder near my desk, the old fashioned way I guess. Hope you are well my friend.