This was meant to be a diaper bag, but I took it along on a recent trip to the beach, and it looked so at home there that I thought about re-designating it as a beach bag.  The beach is literally a part of this bag, as I’m pretty sure some fine sand worked itself into several rows as I was crocheting.  So this bag plainly belongs at the beach.  But after some thought, I decided that I can still consider it a diaper bag, as any diaper bag of mine will be ending up at the beach now and then anyway.

Still needs another gray stripe (Kohl’s bags, in case you were wondering), and handles, and a lining, with pockets.  I have lots of ideas for those pockets.  I need a couple of regular pockets, plus I think I might try a zippered pocket for the first time, and a little hook thingy for my keys.

Once a week or so, I have a few hours of free time to spend in downtown Houston. I usually head to my favorite spot in Hermann Park, where I read, think, and crochet with plarn. Yesterday, I thought to take my camera.

This is my favorite spot. I sit in the cool shade and enjoy the breeze coming off the water. In the background is the Texas Medical Center.

My bench overlooking the medical center

The view from my spot. There are usually a few paddleboats on the pond, but the day was winding down by the time I took this picture.
The view from my bench
These guys (and a few seagulls, and squirrels, and turtles) keep me company while I work.

Ducks at the park

Here’s the project I was working on yesterday. I think this is going to be a new diaper bag. My last one (also crocheted from plarn) wore out from several years of heavy use. I didn’t toss it, though–I unraveled it and used the good sections of plarn to finish another project. Plarn is really easy to unravel and re-use.

My latest plarn project

Do you have a favorite spot to work on your craft?

Since I craft with plastic bags, I think about them a lot. I follow with interest when local and national governments discuss the possibility of taxing or even banning plastic bags. Somehow, though, I didn’t realize until just this afternoon that China banned the flimsy variety of plastic bags almost two years ago. Banned them completely–their manufacture, sale, and distribution.

In July of 2009, some people held a forum in Beijing to discuss the effects of the plastic bag ban’s first year. Here’s a link to the transcript of that forum discussion.

China’s Bag Ban, One Year Later

Sounds like in spite of spotty enforcement, the ban had been quite successful at reducing plastic waste.

“Our survey, conducted over more than a year, found that the number of plastic bags in garbage has reduced by over 10%. Beijing produces over 20,000 tonnes of garbage a day, with 10% — about 2,000 tonnes of that – being plastic bags. A 10% reduction means 200 tonnes less garbage.”

I’m not saying that I advocate a complete ban on plastic bags. But I do think that a tax on plastic bags–or requiring stores to charge for them–makes good economic and environmental sense. Even five cents a bag would be enough to motivate a lot of people to remember those reusable bags they already have sitting at home.

The Houston Chronicle

I don’t accumulate many plastic bags myself, as I generally shop with reusable bags (they’re so much nicer, anyway). So in order to make my plastic bag crochet projects, I gather used plastic bags from family, friends, and strangers (via Freecycle).

I’m given a lot of newspaper bags. I believe they’re from the Houston Chronicle. Apparently, the Houston Chronicle is delivered in a different color bag every day–many soft shades of gray, green, blue, mauve, and more. I’ve accumulated quite a stash of these bags. Check it out.

The photos don’t really do the colors justice. I think it’s my cheapo camera. Still, aren’t these colors great?

My favorites are the greys. I love grey. I’ve been a big fan of grey for the last fifteen years. (And yes, I spell grey with an “e” even when my spell-checker argues with me.)

I spend way too much time looking through these bags and coming up with the best color combinations for my next projects (and not enough time actually getting to work).

Help for Haiti

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Etsy sellers are banding together to help. They are donating items to the shop above, “Hearts for Haiti,” which is donating all proceeds to earthquake relief in Haiti. Purchase anything from this Etsy shop and the money you spend (minus the unavoidable Etsy and Paypal fees) will be going directly to a worthy cause. Plus you get a neat handmade item. 🙂

I think this shop is such a great opportunity for those of us who don’t have cash to donate, but do have vintage or handmade items that we can contribute.

I’ll be donating these cards:

They seemed appropriate, given the heart theme.

Update, 1/20

I just learned that the “Hearts for Haiti” shop isn’t the only one donating proceeds to earthquake relief–the “Craft Hope” shop is donating proceeds as well.

Between the two shops, over $16,000 [EDIT, 1/25: make that $44,000] has been raised to provide medical care for Haitians, and that number is rising rapidly.

Mixed Feelings

I just finished this bag–yes, finished it! I am very good at starting projects, not so good at finishing them. But this one is done and listed on my Etsy shop. As I look at it, I have mixed feelings. Part of me loves the bold colors–the white, blue, and yellow plastic bags just went so nicely together–but the other part of me thinks that it’s way too bright, and that my usual favorites (neutrals) are better.

This is only the second time I’ve lined a tote. Since I never do things exactly the same way twice, I made a few changes this way around. The top corners of the pockets are reinforced more strongly this time, and one pocket has a flap. Maybe next time I’ll do a zippered pocket.

If you’re not yet familiar with what I do–I work exclusively with recycled materials. The exterior of this one is crocheted with about 75 plastic bags donated by friends and Freecyclers (yay Freecyle!). The lovely soft gray lining fabric once covered the walls of a sound booth which has since been demolished. The handle and hardware came from an old purse I found at Goodwill (the body of the purse was stained and unusable).

I just finished ripping apart this bag. I used it heavily for a while, but it’s just too small to be useful to me any more, and too worn to sell or give away. Besides, I was never happy with the handles. So I’m going to re-use the plarn to make a new handbag. I can’t wait to get started–that big ball of lovely neutral beige and brown is just calling my name. 🙂

Almost done! Just needs a lining, a magnetic snap, and a big black button. I’ve been putting off the lining because I anticipate that it will be tricky to get a nice fit. Maybe I’ll get to it today. I also need to find the vintage black button that I’d picked out of my mother’s button box–it seems to have vanished on me. Maybe I’ll just have to order another vintage button from Etsy. I’m trying to stay away from Etsy, however, as I could spend hours “supply shopping”; yesterday I spent waaaayy too long browsing vintage zippers. Oops!