Three $3.00 Bags

It’s far from obvious in this photo but, I actually included at least two novelty yarns in each tote’s handwoven panel.

761 totes-1-4

Doing this project made me view the two very large baskets of novelty yarns that I stumbled upon in front of a very tiny yarn shop in a much more favorable light. Well, this project AND the yarns’ price. . . fill a gallon-sized Ziploc for $3.00!

FYI: three gallons = 42 skeins and balls! (for yarn details see “sidewalk sale” in my Ravelry stash)

I couldn’t figure out why I alone was digging through those baskets! A couple of women paused, but only long enough to fondle a ball or two before walking away. Where did they find the willpower? Granted there were only one or two balls / skeins of many of the yarns but, at that price, So What!?! (the math. . . $9.00 ÷ 42 = 21¢ per ball/skein!!)

I almost stopped after filling the first bag but then I thought, “When will I ever have this kind of opportunity again?!”, and filled two more.

This, as we all know, is the kind of thinking that results in SABLE. lol

BTW – I flattened the few cardboard cores so they’d take up less room.

And then squeezed out some air, so I could get the bags zipped. lol

Posted in Thrifty Treasures, Weaving, Yarn Stash | Tagged | 2 Comments

Revisiting an Old Idea

A few years ago I wrote about this tote bag,

473 tote in woods

I up-cycled a thrifty find by covering its’ large logo with a handwoven “rag” panel.

At the time I thought, “What a good project for a beginning weaver!”, as even a first sampler can embellish a small tote. But I never pursued the idea because sewing the handwoven fabric on by machine would not be easy for a novice and hand sewing??,  well, ugh. . . so much for a quick, fun project!

Now that I’m teaching at the Artisan Soul Gallery I am reconsidering this project idea. If I can’t figure out a way to simplify things enough for a beginning weaver, I’ll just embellish the totes myself. They would make great gifts for foster children, especially when filled with a few fun treats!

I bought two dozen black cotton totes and started to play, pulling fabrics from my quilting stash that coordinate with my scrappy handwoven panels.

Note to Self: Choosing a fabric first and weaving a panel to match would be much easier!

First I tried lining the shoulder straps on a tote. Easy-peasy and I enjoy seeing the look of surprise when people notice the colorful strips.

Next I sewed a pocket inside, like on the red tote. I had to make the pocket small so the stitching on the outside of the bag will be covered by the woven panel.

473 tote pocket

Boy, I’d forgotten how difficult/frustrating sewing something to a finished tote could be, even when using a machine with a free-arm. – sigh – I thought this step would be easier with an all-cotton tote than it had been on the red tote which is nylon? with a rather stiff rubbery-feeling lining, but no. Decided, considering the effort involved, there simply isn’t enough benefit gained from adding a cute little interior pocket.

Maybe the totes will be happy with only a handwoven panel and contrast straps?

– sigh – Nice, but. . .

they need something more.

ah ha!

How about a larger pocket on the outside? Still not the easiest thing to sew, but at least now I’ll get more bang for my buck, so to speak. A large pocket on the back is much more obvious than a little one tucked inside.

After struggling to attach a few handwoven panels – this is supposed to be fun?! – I set my brain on “ponder” for a couple of days.

Would the heat required to melt fusible webbing also melt the acrylic and polyester yarns in my weaving? There was only one way to find out. . .

I’m sure other brands of iron and fusible would differ but, I got the best results when I set my iron at the low edge of its’ wool setting, spritzed the front of the tote with water and used a WET pressing cloth.

The upper right-hand corner is curled up on the bright blue one because I wanted to find out how much force it would take to pull off a fused weaving. The answer is LOTS! – lol. – This will not happen accidentally.

Here’s my second set of five, with fused panels. Let’s call them totes #6 – 10:

The cream and khaki totes, #s 6 & 9, I found at Savers, like-new – $1.00 each.

Took these first ten to Fiber Night to show Laura.

The one with purple roses, #7, now lives with Laura’s teen daughter. lol

Having shared my story of frustration over the little interior pockets, Laura gave me a very good idea. . . sew down only the interior pocket’s upper edge, so it hangs down like a pouch. And I can hide the machine stitching in the seam, where the band at the top edge of the tote meets the body.

Next I’m going to try fusing a handwoven panel to the front of a rubbery-lined nylon tote, like that old red one. I have three thrifty ones to experiment on. . .

Difficult to decide which to do first, as I know it may be ruined in the process.

Posted in Bags, Sewing, Weaving | Tagged | 4 Comments

Tees for Potholders

Although several people around the nursing home have said they’d bring in some old tees for the ladies’ weaving projects, only Ellen, the recreation director, has actually delivered. Soooo. . . I continue to shop for cheap tees at Sal’s.

Fellow volunteer, Ann, drops by once in awhile to help bind off potholders.

Currently weaving a couple of black and silver-grey potholders for the cashier at Sal’s. She’s anxious to see what we make with the dozens of t-shirts that I buy there!

Mostly I get 29¢ tees,

hoping to find those with very little advertising.

Since it only takes a few tie-dyed loops to jazz up an entire potholder

I’ll pay up to 49¢ for tie-dyed tees, even in little kids’ sizes. Woo-hoo. . . I’m such a Big Spender!! lol.

I don’t often find garments other than tees priced that low but Sal’s has been slowly lowering prices on their few remaining summer garments. I can’t wait to see what cute potholders we’ll make from this 49¢ XL flowered knit top!

It’s worth taking the time to look through the rack of men’s long-sleeved tees too.

Yeah, there’s a huge ad on the front, but the XL-sized back is clear, plus there’s all that extra fabric in the long sleeves – and all for only 29¢. ha

More tees means more weaving fun to come for m’ladies. Yay!

Note to Self: Must Remember – cut strips from that flowered top vertically, rather than horizontally, so when stretched on the loom they will curl toward the fabric’s wrong-side, letting us see the pretty print. Strips cut horizontally curl in the opposite direction, which usually works out well as the unfaded inside of a used tee often looks much better than the outside.

Posted in Thrifty Treasures | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What a Great Idea!

Sorry to those of you who are watching for crochet news, but I thought another weaving post would be better than no post.

It was a looong time before I came across another thrift store picture frame suitable for turning into a large potholder loom.


But it was well worth the wait because. . . turns out this is a 12″ artist’s stretcher frame.

It would be so much easier to make potholder looms from frames of all the same style, I immediately wondered, how much do new stretchers sell for?

The best price I found on-line was $3.16 (79¢ x four 12″ bars) plus ? for shipping, during a Super Sale at Jerry’s Artarama. I was sure I could do better locally and boy, did I! Instead of buying DIY wooden bars or empty stretcher frames, I ended up with a pack of seven complete artist’s canvases for only $10 w/a coupon at Michael’s. That’s less than $1.45 each, thrifty frames without having to scour a single thrift store!

I’m thinking that, someday, I may want to use a few of these to display other small weavings made by the Crochet Corner ladies. – I could poke tiny holes through the canvas and attach the woven piece with fine wire twist-ties. Kindof like this. – so DH removed the canvas from just three frames to start, pulling about 24 staples from each. Then it was my turn. . . lots of holes to drill and nails to hammer in!

This all happened just in time as our newest weaver, B2, uses the potholder loom we made from that old quilt frame,

which temporarily left me without a potholder loom of my own.

That turned out not to matter much because with three ladies steadily weaving potholders and mug rugs (S alone makes at least three potholders per week.)

759 for sale

I’m spending more and more time turning tees into potholder loops!

Posted in Weaving | Tagged , | 5 Comments


Those of you who have followed alottastitches for a while know that few things make DH and I happier than figuring out how to make something for ourselves! A while ago that meant we turned old picture frames


into large potholder looms. YAY!

741 ta-dah!

This spring I gave you a quick look at the special boat shuttle we made for the Crochet Corner ladies to use with their “new” Initiation floor loom.

Now I’d like to take a minute to explain what makes it so “special”. . .

This is a traditional boat shuttle.

The pointy ends and slick finish make it very easy for this type of shuttle to slip between the lower layer of warp threads and go crashing to the floor! – I’m sure you can guess how I happen to know this. lol – And, if your hands happen to be arthritic or weakened by a stroke, getting a bobbin on/off its spring-loaded rod could be a real struggle.

I searched the web for boat shuttles that would work better. This is the cardboard prototype DH built from my rough sketches.

Notice – no rod!  Just pop in a yarn-filled bobbin and you’re ready to weave.

Compare the size of the circular hole in its side to the narrow slit on the traditional shuttle.

Which do you think will be easier to thread?!

And, instead of costing anywhere from $25 (used) to $100 (new), they’re free because DH used hardwood scraps (maple), some of which he salvaged from shipping pallets!


758 4A in proc

DH made three: one for me,

one for my friend, Linda,*

and one with pegs for the Crochet Corner ladies.

Those pegs are going to work as brakes to keep the shuttle from flying off the end of the wide shuttle shelf that he added to the nursing home’s loom.

I ordered a dozen durable 6″ plastic bobbins for the ladies, but for my personal use I’m going to cut down Milkshake Straws. – 25/$1.00.

758 6 2w:strws

By wrapping a thin rubber band round and round the shaft – The teeny tiny rubber bands used on braces would work real well here. Where’s a brace-wearing teen when you need one? –

I can get these large diameter straws to work with my Harrisville Designs bobbin winder. –

Easily crushed, these colorful bobbins aren’t going to last forever but, since I can get over 400 for the cost of 12 “real” ones, I don’t mind. – Gee, at that price I suppose I even can afford to share a few with Linda. HAha.

* In exchange, her DH is making a rag shuttle for the ladies!

Posted in Weaving | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Everything Counts

It’s the beginning of August. By this time of year, I’ve usually (since 2011) shown you around 30 additional blankets that I’ve made for charity.

So far this year. . .

only eight!

Feeling that there’s still a small chance that I can catch up, I’m willing to count just about anything as a blankie.

The nursing home’s Rec. Department recently received a gift of all this sportweight yarn.

Remembering a bag of vintage Sport Spun that I had in my own charity stash,

757 vintage yarn

I figured I had enough neutral colors to make a little sportweight Ripple Wrap.

757 shwl8

Usually the Crochet Corner ladies who don’t enjoy the Rec. Room’s air conditioning bring their own jackets, but it’s going to be nice to have something available for those times when someone forgets.

2016’s Blankie #9

757 shwl2

How is everyone?

It’s been hot and muggy here in New England. DH and I were lucky enough to miss the recent 100 degree day, though. . . We were camping, with my sister, at the lovely Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, NY. In the comparatively cool shade of our campsite, – Moved the picnic table every few hours to keep it in the shade. lol – I taught her how to weave. yay!

Posted in Blankies of 2016 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

What a Cute Little Baby!

Here’s the newest addition to my family of Rigid Heddle Looms. . .

a used size A Easy Weaver, which I found on eBay.

Smaller, 17-1/2″ x 10″, and much lighter, than my 18″ x 18″ Bs,

this baby will be easier to tote around!

Although it can only weave fabric 6″ wide, (compared to about 14 1/2″ for the size B) that’s not a problem for demonstration purposes. What is a problem is the missing “shedmaker”. That’s what Harrisville calls the tall block of wood which serves as a heddle rest. . . near the middle of the larger loom. But DH says he can make one. Yay!

He has plenty of time to get that done. . . my next demo isn’t until August 5th, during Putnam, CT’s next First Friday.

Oh, I want to share with you the fun little bonuses that came with my new loom:

a 7 x 10 pegLoom,

which I suspect one of the Crochet Corner ladies will enjoy weaving on, (Found a couple of video tutorials: Part One, and Part Two.*. Looks like DH needs to make us a pick-up stick, maybe by tapering down one end of a wooden ruler.)

and a 1995 Harrisville Designs catalog!

Interesting to see that back then you could order Refill Warp Kits in SIX different color combinations for the Size A

and, on the right-hand page, three for the, then NEW, size B.

* More Information on Lap Looms:

  • First 2 min. of this video, from Schacht, talks about larger versions.
  • Double warp to weave with finer threads.
  • I like the over-sized wooden needle that comes with this one!
  • Note to Self: Could add legs to any frame loom as a way to display a finished weaving or work-in-progress.
  • Instruction Booklet – pdf
Posted in looms | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment