Monday, January 28, 2008

Something from nothing

My son brought me a pair of his flannel pj's. Seems that both of the legs are ripped from hem to waistband. I've fixed this pair of pj's a couple of time. So now they're MINE.

The tears weren't "evenly" in the middle, but close enough. I went ahead and cut the pants apart, down the front through the crotch area and up the back, giving me 2 separate "legs".
I then opened the pant legs up by finishing the tear - cutting through the portion of the hem and waist band that were holding the pants together. I then cut the side seams apart on both sides. This left me with 6 pieces of fabric. Two large pieces from the backs of the legs and 4 smaller pieces from the torn front. The smaller pieces were just the right width for some cloth squares and I simply cut across the fabric to make the other side of the square. Well actually some were a little more rectangular. Then with the back pieces, I continued cutting squares by folding the leg in half so that I had one long piece of fabric, doubled over on itself. I cut this apart and proceeded to cut squares from that by folding the pant legs in half and then in thirds.

I ended up with about 30 squares that were roughly 8x8. I added them to my bathroom stash. They get used for anything you would use TP for. From wiping to blowing the nose to wetting and wiping off the sink. The used pieces get put into a special container and washed in hot water, hand 1/2 cup vinegar added to the rinse cycle and dried in a hot dryer (it's very rainy here in the south during the winter. If it's sunny where you are, line drying them will also kill any bacteria that might have escaped the soap and hot water.) There's no smell or stains left on them after laundering them and they're as clean as your underwear or any other item that you throw into the wash with the general clothing.

So I now have some useful items from nothing - trash that normally is discarded. It's kept that fabric out of the landfill and made a reusable item that keeps even more items out of the dump.

So what can be done with old clothes that are too shabby, stained, holey, etc to give to the thrift store, but you don't want to throw them into the trash?

Here are my ideas, feel free to add you own!

Old sweaters or sweats:
New sweater/sweats: Take it apart and make a child's sweater or sweat set out of it, and yes, you can take a knit sweater apart at the seams, cut it down and then sew it. I'd use a small zig-zag stitch along the edge to keep it from unraveling.
Mittens: Have the person that will be using them place their hand, palm down on a piece of paper. Have the slightly splay their fingers and trace around the hand, mitten like to make a pattern. Use the bottom edge of the sweater/sweats sleeve as the cuff of the mitten and place the pattern on the fabric. Cut around it, and sew it together. Hint: don't cut the folded section - it's already together for you.
Slippers: use the body of the sweater for the material. There are patterns on the net for fleece slippers that you can use the sweater material for. Just do a small zig-zag stitch around the edge, about 1/8 inch in from the edge then sew like normal. Here's one that I found just by Googling "Free fleece slipper pattern".
I would use the ribbed section of the sweater for the upper part of the bootie and not bother with the rubber "grippy" material. Instead, after I made them, I would use my fabric paints - the ones in those little bottles, and dot the bottom of the sweater fabric with that. That's what I do with regular slippers that I knit. Make some good size dots and let it dry completely before using. And if it should wear off, you can just reapply it.

Any item made of cloth:
Any cloth can be cut up for towels, napkins, wipes, rags, etc. Cut them into 10x10 squares with a pair of pinking shears or heck, sometimes I just start a tear and then tear them into the size I want. And I'm not wasting fabric by measuring things out. I just eyeball it. I fold the material to see how to get it to look about the size I want. Then I cut through the folded layers with my pinking shears. And unless your really bothered by loose threads, don't bother to hem them. After the first wash or two, they quit raveling. (I will say the first wash with the never been washed flannel was a mess to untangle. But after that, no problems with it tangling. And since this fabric has been washed before, it shouldn't shrink or fray a lot.)
Stack in an old diaper-stacker, an "Glad type" disposable 8x8 pan, make a hanger for them - anything to neatly store them where they will be handy. Use them for anything you'd use a paper towel or paper napkin for. Rhonda Jean in her blog "down-to-earth" (link below) has a pattern and some ideas of her own on using her rag stash.

Sheets, bedspreads and other large pieces of fabric:
Remember my furoshiki post from the other day? Well....Cut a sheet down to the sizes you want and use those to wrap items furoshiki style. You can do a wrap and have grocery bags faster than the bagger can fill them - or go in with cloth premade into bags and no sewing is necessary. Or use the material to sew bags for the groceries. Make a matching towel, potholder, apron, placemats, hot pads and/or napkins from a set of sheets.

Old quilt:
DO NOT throw it away. It's still got some life left in it. Make a vest from it. Make potholders, placemats, hot pads, crib bumper pads, or baby quilt out of the sections that are still good. Make (or get) some bias tape to sew around the edges. There's even a web site that tells how to make your own bias tape. So use some of the above materials instead of buying the tape.
and how to use bias tape:

Old jeans/pants:
cut off legs and make purses from the left-over body. I once made a quilt top out of my then husband's old work jeans - the ones with the knees and bum out of them. I simply cut off the jean legs above and below the tears and used the material that was still good for "squares", but don't you know, I didn't bother with those tiny 4x4 pieces. I left them in good size chunks. I actually opened the inside seam and left the French seam that was on the out leg stay. I then matched up pieces of leg and stitched them together to form an odd size, large piece of fabric. Square it off, use an old blanket, quilt or batting for the inside and then either make another jean fabric for the back or simply don't use batting and use the sheet, blanket or quilt for the other side. Mark a line 4"down across the fabric, then 4" across the fabric to make a grid and then do a tied quilt instead of "quilting" it with regular fabric. Actually, since you wouldn't be using the yarn to hold down the insides of the quilt, you could easily make it 8x8 or even 10x10 squares.

How to tie a quilt:
You don't have to have the "traditional small squares" quilt - that's what I'm talking about making when you use tailor's chalk and a yardstick to measure off your squares. And I've used yarn instead of embroidery floss/thread to tie a quilt.

Here's a 2 hr quilt idea that I found. Only, don't go to the store, use what you have at home. A quilt does NOT need to have an "insides" of anything. It does make them heavier/warmer, but you can do the same thing with layers of quilts.

Either way you choose to make a quilt, you can either finish it the way the last link shows or you can just use bias tape to enclose the loose edges. You don't need a machine for either choice. Use the same floss/yarn that you tied the top to sew up the edges.

From any material you can make a braided rug:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Furoshiki - now we can get rid of those plastic bags!

I don't even know how I got to this website. A link from a link from a link. But this reminded me of my days in Misawa, Japan.

When I was stationed in Misawa in the mid-70's, plastic "T-shirt" bags had yet to be invented. When you went to the store off-base and bought anything - no matter how big or small, it was wrapped in paper. Not just any paper, but Origami type paper. And the ladies wrapping it didn't use the first piece of string or tape. It was so folded that your purchase was inside and with a flick of a finger, the whole thing would unwrap. It was fascinating to behold.

But since those days, Japan has become Westernized. They use somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000,000 plastic bags a year! This is an island nation. Part of it is very mountainous. The flatter sections are very populated. They just don't have room for trash. The Japanese government is promoting a throwback craft. Furoshiki (Fu-roshe-kee)

It's the art of taking cloth squares and wrapping things in it. You can make totes, purses, baskets and carriers from cloth that are very functional. It requires no stitching, beyond hemming a square of fabric. Once hemmed, you just fold and tie it to cover whatever it is you're looking to cover. And when you no longer need the item wrapped, the cloth is good to go for another item.

The squares are made of cotton, silk, or any combo of fibers. You don't want a stiff fabric, but one that is easy to knot and unknot. They are any size from about 12" squared to 72" squared. The most common size is the 27" - 41" range. I've been playing with the wrapping techniques by using a 17" square napkin I just happen to have.

Here is a link of wrapping techniques:
This chart of folding techniques is read from top to bottom, left to right. About 1/2 way down the page is a second way to fold, so there's 5 columns with 2 tips each.

Here's a second link with some history and more background info:

Here is a YouTube link of a Furoshiki shop in Japan. Part of it is in Japanese, but part of it is in English. Enough that you can understand what's going on. He's showing how to make a purse/bag/tote from a 42" square of cloth.

And last, but not least, here is a really cool video on how to fold a t-shirt. It's two folds and it's done. It took us a couple of tries, but we can now do this ourselves! The lady in the video takes about 10 seconds to fold the shirt - and that's only because she's demonstrating it to us.
Here is the video on YouTube:

And here are the written, translated instructions:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

updates on life

First, thank you to all whom offered prayers in our behalf. I really appreciate it!

Nalani went in Tue to talk to the judge. They do things differently in a big city than in the back-home counties around here. Poor kid had to go into this huge court room and talk to one of the D.A.s assigned to the traffic court.

The possible "punishment" for failure to yield with an accident is 3 points on your record and a $150 fine. The D.A. pointed out that since State Farm already knew about the ticket/accident it wouldn't matter that they put 3 points on her record - her rates have already been raised. But she offered to drop the fine if Nalani plead guilty - which was what Nalani had already said she was going to plead. Then Nalani had to stand up in front of the judge at a large lectern and give her plea. The judge was nice to her but reminded her she didn't want to be getting tickets because it raised insurance rates. Nalani just said "yes, Mam".

It was a hard day because we still have big doubts that the accident was Nalani's fault. We had a Jag pulling out of a side street, Nalani starts to turn and looks back over her shoulder to make sure no one in running the intersection on the opposite side, BOOM. How do you get from a side street to an intersection in a 35 zone in the time it takes for someone to look over their shoulder? Why do you let your friends yell at a kid, but when hubby comes up yelling, you jerk his head down, whisper something in his ear and he shuts right up? Me thinketh something else was going on, but we couldn't prove it. We had our insurance company check, the X model Jag doesn't have an on-board computer, so we couldn't have that checked to prove her actions. So, since dd was turning left, she was at fault. It was a hard, unfair lesson, but as mom has been telling her, life isn't always fair.

Last night in snowed. Here in the south, we don't have snow clearing/ice melting equipment. So 1/2" of the white stuff will shut the area down. I rather figured that court would be canceled, but I didn't want to just not show up. I spent 3o minutes calling around before I finally found SOMEONE in the courthouse. Seem that if they cancel school, they cancel court too.

Since we homeschool, I have no idea what the school system does or how to find out. We also don't have tv and I don't listen to local radio. So I had no way of knowing what was going on. I just knew I didn't want to fail to show up and be in contempt of court myself.

So....everything is on hold until they reschedule this court date. I'll let everyone know when that is set for.

Thanks again for reading my blog and for your prayers and good wishes.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

When life gets scary

Normally I'm a law-abiding person. I have to be. If I EVER do ANYTHING wrong I get caught. I mean I ALWAYS get caught. So it's easier just to do what I know I should do. And to prove my point about getting caught if I do something I shouldn't:

In Dec. I was at my local Wallyworld getting whatever it was that I needed. I left the store and headed to my workplace. It was a Saturday evening-at dusk. I was trying to turn left, but there was a lot of traffic on the road. I don't need an accident, so I just sat there waiting patiently for the traffic to thin. However, the guy behind me wasn't so patient. Every time there was the smallest break in traffic, he'd inch closer to me, trying to force me to go. I could have gone, but the traffic in the far lane would have had to slam on their brakes. So I just sat there. By the time the traffic cleared enough to safely turn left, the guy was so close to me, I could no longer see his headlights in my rear-view mirror. He then proceeded to dog me all the way down the short, but steep hill we were on.

I was keeping one eye on the road and both eyes on my mirror. I was sure he was going to hit me. At the bottom of the hill is a stop sign. While watching him still coming at me, I noticed that there was enough break in traffic that if I went right then, I could get out. So I rolled to a partial stop, swung around the corner and was immediately greeted by the blue lights of one of the city's finest.

With no place to pull over - there were deep ditches on both sides of the road, I had to travel about 1/4 mile before I could find a safe place to pull over. I was worried that the officer was going to be ill with me over that. I got my license and insurance card out and he ran my tags. I asked him if he would pull my driving record and see that I don't normally get tickets (I've had 3 in 37 years of driving, all for speeding a few miles above the speed limit). Nope, he wouldn't just let me off with a warning. In fact, he wrote on the ticket that I nearly caused an accident?! I asked him about THAT, mentioning that there were no tire marks on the road, (in fact, there was no squealing of brakes and he was able to pull directly out behind me. So where did the "cars I pulled out in front of that had to avoid me" go??) He declared he wasn't going to debate it with me on the side of the road. So I just shut my mouth and resigned myself to paying the fine.

On the appointed day, I went in and paid the fine of $145 (ouch!) and was told that it would put 3 points on my driving record. Well, that kills the State Farm 28 year good driving discount. So I asked what I could do to avoid having the points put on my record. I was told I could talk to the judge.

Now I'm not real eloquent around authority figures. In fact, I tend to clam up. This has to do with some experiences as a child. I simply can not get out what I want to say. It's like I lose my voice and the ability to think straight. I look and feel like a bobbing-head doll. But I just had to speak to this man, so I came back a couple of hours later for court that evening.

I was blessed that there was a Public Defender in-house and that he spoke with me about what I needed to tell the judge. When the judge called my name, I was still a little unsure of what exactly I should tell him: No lo contendre or guilty. The "no lo" would have kept the points off my record, but I wanted to speak to the judge. When I hesitated, the PD answered for me: "Guilty, with an explanation". I was told to sit back down and after the judge had finished reading off the docket, he'd start over again and deal with those that needed to speak to him.

To make a long story short, traffic court is unlike regular court in a big time way. This was not a solemn occasion. He was joking with people and let a couple of people off with a warning- those with good driving records. So when my name was called again, I explained what had happened. the judge asked the Lt. if the citing officer was in house and referred the ticket back to him with the instructions to tell the officer what I told the judge. I thought I was doomed, but the officer was willing to let me off with a warning. Talk about blessed!

So with that scary situation under my belt, I have to take my oldest to court about her accident that she had in Nov. We did get our agent to check about the Jaguar having a computer, but the Jag dealer said that her model of car didn't have a computer on it. So there's no proving that the lady sped up.

We're resigned to paying the $150 fine. But she will get 3 points on HER record. And in this state, 4 points for anyone under 21 is an automatic suspension of their license. She's a chip off of mom with the speaking problem, but she's going to have to talk to the judge because if ANYTHING else happens she would lose her license.

We have court Tue for that. Then I have court Thur. over Child Support. It's supposed to be a contempt hearing for my ex, but I'm so concerned that the newbie (at least to this job) lawyer is going to let him turn it into a custody hearing.

I thought I had a lawyer that a friend was going to pay for. But the lawyer, for some reason unknown to both of us, won't take the case. Something about the D.A. being involved. Well, if the Child Support Recovery lawyer is with the D.A.'s office, then they're involved. But the suit against him is being brought in the children's name, not mine. So it shouldn't matter. Anyway, I don't have a lawyer and can't afford one -even if I could find one this late in the game that could make it to court that day. So if anyone feels like it, will you please keep us in your prayers?

My youngest is at dad's. She's stopped going to church - with dad's encouragement. She's gotten to be really rude with people (this was the sweetest child until about 9 months ago.) And every time I try to get her over here, they plan an activity so she can't come over. I got to see her for maybe 5 minutes on Christmas. In the meantime, he's still getting to see the other kids. (And no, I don't want to hold the other kids' visitation hostage until he lets me see her. That's not fair to the other 2 kids for me to do that.) If he gets physical custody, I won't ever get to see her.

This is all so scary to me. I hate conflict and confrontation. I hate going to court without a lawyer, even though I'm just supposed to be called as a witness. (I've never had to go to court for the other 11 times he's been cited for contempt.) And I hate that I've got to go defend myself and possibly lose custody of my 13dd. I'm trying not to worry and just pray that God's will be done, but sometimes we have to do something to help allow His will to come to pass. Many judges don't really care about God and those that DO care, are still bound by law. They can't just go by "well, God says to do..." And if you don't have someone looking out for your rights, there's nothing that the judge can do. If you don't know to what to object to and how to do it, you get run over. It's very naive to think that God will protect you when you don't protect yourself by using the people in place who's job it is to help. Only problem is, $$$. There are no pro-bono lawyers around here. There's one poor "Legal aid" lawyer for 13 counties from Atlanta north and that person is only taking minority custody cases. Sometimes things happen that are not "God's will", but he just allows it to happen. Otherwise people couldn't use their agency. And THAT'S what worries me a bit. I mean, hey, it's not God's will for people to make war on each other or murder each other, but he still allows it to happen. If he didn't we'd be just a bunch of puppets and not his children. Anyway, any prayers will be welcome.

I know - chin up, shoulders out, forward march! (Why do I feel like the Cowardly Lion?) Especially when I am so brave in other areas? I've been a medic and a paramedic. I've see stuff and been in danger before. Why can't I have the same "lay my ears back, duck my head and run forward" attitude when it comes to dealing with my ex and the judicial system? Who knows? I just try to remember Dorrie's admonition: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swim, swim." But I don't LIKE the water! And I DON'T like to swim! lol

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Happy New Year

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Christmas Eve, I spent the evening and until 7:30 am getting the rest of the knitting done. I had gotten my two kids stuff done, but still had the other fingerless glove to get done for my daughter's boyfriend. I had trouble with the first one I did for him. For some reason, my tension was WAY off and I ended up frogging it back to yarn. It was hard to do - I only needed to cinch down that last stitch and weave in the tail. didn't look or fit right, it, rip it, rip it. But that upset my timetable. I'm just thankful that I got it finished.
We had our traditional dinner together, but it was a little sad. This was the first time all my kids weren't here with me Christmas morning. My 13dd is still at dad's. I got to see her for about 5 minutes. Long enough to give her her present and wish her a merry Christmas.

Hopefully next week I'll get her back, but you never know what a judge will do. It's actually supposed to be a contempt of court hearing on him, but....the attorney for Child Support Recovery is new to her job and sounded like a rather new lawyer in general. She may not stop my ex from turning this into a custody hearing. He shouldn't be allowed to do that, but....who knows.

Just keep us in your prayers.

The other 2 kids and I spent New Years Eve together. I had the opportunity to attend a single adult dance with other singles of my faith, but instead chose to spend the evening with my two kids instead. We had a nice time. I had bought some different cheeses, a beef stick and some sparkling grape juice. We watched a movie and ate snacks.

This is probably the last time my oldest will be home for New Years. She will probably move out in the next 6-9 months. She'll be 19 and finished school in May and even though we have a very good relationship, she's ready to get her own place where mom can't "pull rank" on her - even though that's only occasionally. She's ready to fly and that is good. It means she feels ready to take on life as an adult - though she pretty much does that now.

As for my boy-o, hopefully he'll finish up the few remaining badges for Eagle scout and get his project done. Mostly he just has to write up the requirements he's already done, they just need to be documented on paper. I think he's already got a good idea of what he wants to do for his project. But there's no use planning the project until the badge work is done. He has 3 that he hasn't done anything on and then about 7 that he's lacking the written part. And for pity's sake, he can TYPE it. But I guess I'm just going to have to tie him to the computer for an hour each day until it's done. Once he starts, he'll get it done rather quickly, but it's getting him started that is the chore. lol

I've started my own small business. I'm doing data entry. I only have one client, but it's a start. And my daughter and I are working on a web business idea we have, so time to blog has been absent. Hopefully, I can make more time now that a lot of the preliminaries are done.

I wish everyone a prosperous New Year, filled with love, laughter and the ability to overcome the adversity that is a natural part of life. May our difficulties be few and our paychecks be many (and well stuffed, lol).