Are you a new year resolution maker?
I'm not really, mainly because, like most people, I've discovered I'm not really very good at sticking to resolutions. There just seems to be something about a resolution that seems to be more of a challenge to defy rather than to achieve. Or maybe it's that I set the bar too high, given that the year starts in full on holiday mode, where it tends to stay for the next month. Makes it a little hard to stick to optimistic ideals.
What my little family does like to do is set ourselves environmental or eco challenges. These are all about changing patterns of consumption and hopefully changing our longterm habits. We've done things like no clothes buying, no using the car in town, not buying takeaways and buying minimal packaged food.
This year our focus is on reusing and recycling rather than purchasing. Thinking about what we have here that can be repurposed to meet any needs we have. How can we use the excess of things we have?
I've started the year thinking about old towels and what to do with them. We don't have a dog so they don't become dog towels and to be honest there are only so many rags you can actually use. (I have an extraordinary amount of old flat terry nappies already serving this purpose). But we do have a lot of old towels, some past their prime well and truly and others that are just that bit too cardboardish and stiff to do the job properly.
I thought I'd hit on a golden idea when I decided to cut them up into strips, refashioning my own yarn so to speak, and knit them up into big thick squishy bath mats. The idea seemed like pure genius at the time. Pure genuis. And bath mats is one thing we do actually need.
Unfortunately, I didn't factor in the fluff. All that fluff shedding. Not so great. I'm hoping that it will cease after a bit and it will indeed make it as a useful bath mat.
I knit this on my 25mm/US#50 needles in nice squishy garter stitch. I'm guessing it's going to take about four or five towels to make a good size bath mat.
Another use I've found for my old towels is as the padding in these trivets.
I made them with some scraps of fabric leftover from clothes making and simply randomly patchworked them together. One layer of towel was enough to create a good trivet or pot holder. I used some scraps of corduroy for the backing and quilted the three layers together, finishing them off with a bit of leftover bias binding.
There's some very old scraps in there, but I can also see some more recent ones; chevron from a pair of shorts for Toby, gingham and rabbits from a geranium dress for Lily, whales from PJ shorts for Andy and Toby, green floral from a Wiksten tank for me and green spots from a geranium dress for Sage. The mushrooms is from a mei tai baby carrier I made when Toby was little and some fabric from Lily's kyoto. I gifted two of these at Christmas but I do love how my kids will coordinate with the kitchen accessories and how they provide a wee bit of reminiscent fodder. I can see myself always making these from now on. No more store-bought pot holders for us!
I did experiment with two layers, which made a very thick pot holder. The downside was that it was a bit more difficult to quilt.
If you're keen to give something like this a try, there are some excellent instructions over at My Poppet
If you've got any bright ideas for using up old towels, I'd love to hear them.
What other household items do you recycle/make/repurpose? Give me all your hot tips, please!
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Textile artist, knitwear designer and teacher.
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