Monday, September 13, 2010

From Trash to Treasures

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Creative women I know see the beauty, usefulness and possibility in all kinds of items that the ordinary person would throw away or recycle. One of my ravelry friends, spookycuddles (a.k.a. Brenda) is one of these women. She gets excited about turning trash into treasure and even belongs to a group called From Trash to Treasures within the ravelry community.

Her enthusiasm for this kind of creative challenge is infectious and, although I don't belong to her group, she inspired me to make some trash to treasure items for her.* [See end of blog page.] Below is a photo that Brenda took for me (because I accidentally erased my photo) of the items I sent to her to keep, gift, swap or share as she pleased.

This blog page will detail the items made for Brenda with the hope that others may be inspired to turn more trash into treasures that can be enjoyed by others.

Here's how it all started:
Brenda had been sharing her excitement about her upcoming swap with her Trash to Treasure group. She had said she was doing detective work on her secret swap pal. After that, all of her messages will filled with ideas of what she planned to make for the swap. In the spirit of the swap news, I had told Brenda that I had been saving some plastic, cylindrical containers that I hated to throw out because, after all, I am a Trash/Treasure person at heart. About these cylinders and other "too good to throw out" items, I thought, "Maybe I can find some use for these."

Somewhere in the midst of our exchanges, I decided to make some Trash to Treasure items
for Brenda. I started with these plastic cylinders (see photo of Kroger peach tea powered drink) that had been accumulating because I was sure I would find SOME use for them. I go through two or three of these per month. Once the label is removed, a strong, white cylinder remains—too good to throw out. Hmmmmm, what could I make for Brenda with some of these? Some of my ideas for the cylinders: a large peppermint stick, a large firecracker, a bank of some kind and a faux candle. I settled on making a candle and sending two additional painted, but unfinished ones to send to Brenda for her to create as she wished.

As long as I planned to send these items to Brenda, I figured I would fill the cylinders with other little Trash/Treasure items. From there, the whole thing took off and I began making and collecting all kinds of things for her, just because I wanted to and because she is such a fun person and friend.

My next project was a plarn project bag. Here it is.

Looks pretty good and you would not know what it is made of unless you are a creative person and you know what plarn** is. Plarn, is the combination of the words "plastic" and "yarn." This bag is crocheted using plastic grocery bags. I cut 48 plastic bags (one at a time) into spiral strips to use as the yarn-type medium for making this waterproof bag. The three kinds of bags I used were Kroger bags (brown with dark blue printed words and logo), Fiesta bags (gold with red print) and Wal-mart (white with blue print).

General instructions for how to make the plarn bag appear near the end of this blog page.

**Another of my ravelry friends, Braydenbugsmom (a.k.a Christina), mentioned this word to me in a conversation. I said, "You mean there's a word for this?! Who knew?" Yes, indeed there is. Thanks Christina for expanding my creating vocabulary.

Candle: Here is the finished faux candle. To make the candle: I started by soaking and removing the label. Then I painted on three coats of craft acrylic paint followed by a final coat of clear acrylic spray. I painted white "drips" of candle "wax" with craft acrylic paint and then added a little dimensionality with some puffy paint, also white. Using some of the plastic left from the plarn bag, I cut and twisted some goldish color plastic to make the flame and inserted it into a small cross cut I made in the center of the lid. All done.

Orange Mittens: I made these mittens from a repurposed wool sweater. I washed and dried the sweater on high to shrink/felt it and then cut out the pattern pieces and sewed them up to make warm, wooly mittens that are perfect for cold weather. (I have made about 150 pairs of wool mittens in the past year.) I chose orange for Brenda because she likes Halloween so much. Speaking of Brenda and Halloween, here is a perfect opportunity to mention her ravelry name, spookycuddles. Those of us who know Brenda thought her ravelry name might be a special endearment that she is called at home, but Spooky and Cuddles are the names of her two cats. She put both together and made one word to use as her "handle."

Table napkins and coasters: I sewed and quilted (by hand) four tiny Halloween coasters that are seen here on the far right. I tied the four together with an orange ribbon. A few years back I found brand new Halloween napkins at Goodwill for a very cheap price and tucked them away thinking, "The price is right and I am sure they will come in handy in the future." Well, this is the right time and they match the coasters! Having purchased them at Goodwill qualifies them for Trash to Treasure.

Dish cloths: I didn't make these dishcloths but they are brand new and nicely crafted. I found a whole bag of 28 of these knitted dishcloths at Value Village in a bag for 10 cents each. A real steal! Someone donated them to the thrift store and, to me, this qualifies them as Trash to Treasure. I picked out two from my stack and rolled them up. I specifically chose one in colors that was somewhat Christmasy because I wanted to put them into the candle. They fit perfectly inside.

Wreath pin: I sent two small wreath pins (under 2 inches across) to Brenda wrapped in tissue and inserted into one of the red cylinders. One wreath was completed (pictured here on the left) and the other was ready to be decorated. I also sent a little ribbon and some tiny Christmas balls for decorating so Brenda could complete it using these decor items or...she was free to decorate as she pleased. I wanted to send her a third one, a larger, unfinished one (2 and 3/4 inches across), but it didn't fit into the cylinder unless I scrunched it, so I didn't send it.

(Right) Here is a picture of a larger wreath pin that I made after I sent this Trash to Treasure package to Brenda. I am including it for the purpose of letting readers know that the directions for making this have already been posted. Make and enjoy!

Magnets: Wrapped in tissue and inserted in the final red cylinder, these refrigerator magnets were made from cut-out glossy magazine pictures that I glued to the backs of glass "rocks" from a package I bought at a craft store. Powerful little magnets were glued on last. I chose a sunflower specifically for Brenda because she had just completed a sunflower potholder for herself. Of these magnets, Brenda said she is keeping the rose and sunflower (she has lots of magnets) and plans to share the orange and horse toy with a family member. (She is doing exactly what I hoped, keeping what she wanted and then giving, swapping or sharing the rest.)

Cards: Using glossy magazine pictures or scrapbook paper and my sizzix machine (a little die cutter) I cut out little purses and used them as the focal points on some cards. I inserted optional sayings to insert into the cards along with the packet of five cards/envelopes that read, "Friends are like can never have too many of them."

Six-inch squares: I sent two completed six-inch squares worked up in the same pattern in the plarn bag. Brenda is always mentioning squares for a group in which she participates. Most of the yarn in these two squares that I crocheted is left from a project I finished up last month. Also I sent her the pattern for the squares and a few other patterns, too. This was a new pattern but she had some of the other patterns I sent her so she plans to share the duplicates with others.

General Directions for Making the Plarn Bag

To make the spiral strips of plarn:
  • Cut off the top handles and the bottom seal of a bag.
  • Using scissors, start at the top and make a diagonal cut to one inch.
  • Continue going around and around the bag in a one-inch spiral strip to the bottom.

To make the bag:
  • I used a G hook and, because I wanted a tight stitch to lessen any stretching, all stitches are sc's.
  • I made a bottom gusset and then worked up the sides going around and around to make the body of the bag in one piece. (no seams) I didn't count, but there are more than 120 stitches around on a single row.
  • Here was my pattern up the sides: six brown rows, 4 gold, 6 brown, 4 white, and so on.

Special thanks to Brenda for taking some of these photos because I accidentally erased photos from my camera before I downloaded them for use on this blog page.

* Update: October 5, 2010. I joined the From Trash to Treasures group, too. October's challenge is turning denim (old jeans) into something useful, wearable and/or attractive. I have two projects in mind...


  1. I LOVE this blog!!!! I have wanted to do things like this, just haven't quite learned the skills. Thank you for the great inspiration!

    Jennifer @

  2. Hello! Love the grocery bag which I found on Pinterest. I'm not understanding your directions. Whta is a "gusset"? Do you mean you just crocheted a rectangle and then went round and round to go up the sides?

    Love this bag. Hoping you still check this?? :)

  3. Yes.

    Here is the dictionary definition: The gusset is the rectangular piece which allows the bag to expand and stand up on its own... basically, the bottom of the bag. The size of the gusset is the width (smaller side) of that rectangular piece.