June 30, 2012

Love 2 DIY on the Weekend~ Design It Yourself!

Okay DIY lovers~ this week we're putting a new spin on the 'D' in DIY!

I found products made by our Upcyclers team that you can custom order in your own design~ choose your colors, send in your own favorite jeans, pick a name & photo or just customize the size! You name it, you got it!

Lynn Minney Designs offers you a chance to upcycle those favorite old worn out jeans into a new handbag!

The Crafters Co-op will handsew custom wool "Slocks" (slipper/socks) for you in your size and choice of colors!

Or how about a custom made handsewn fiber art bird from Gone Rustic? Each one is uniquely designed for you...

Like monsters? Cadence from Altered Decadence starts her creations with an Altoid tin and upcycles them into furry monsters designed in your choice of colors, eyes & TEETH!

Here's another way to upcycle an old favorite cloth item! Drapes of Wrath can custom design an apron from your old shirt, a pair of Grandma's funky vintage curtains~ you name it! They love an "Upcycling Challenge"!

Prairie Peasant will upcycle your choice of hardcover books into a Rebound Journal... I loved reading these when I was a little girl!

Jordana from LaraLeib Designs will create a beautiful collage in a magnetic frame using your photo and name of choice~

Another collage artist, Abounding Treasures, will create a Flutterby Treasure just for you!

It's wedding season, so how about some custom made shot glasses for the bride and groom created by Pir8t? Choose a design, names or a saying to be etched in glass!

Here's another gift idea for the happy couple from Tough and Twisted, who create custom designed metal art in a wide variety of choices~

I love this one from Heather, even though she's not on our team I just had to include this! Choose from a variety of original graphic illustrations by Drunk Girl Designs (love that name, giggles!) of your favorite recipe to hang on your wall or give as a gift! How unique is that?

So even if you aren't super crafty, you can still Love 2 DIY~ just do the designing and Upcyclers will do the rest!

Have a fantastic weekend!
;) Cat

June 28, 2012

Composting: The Ultimate Upcycle

What could be better than using free stuff to get better stuff? Nothing of course. That is what composting is all about. You take the free nitrogen and carbon that grows from the ground or falls from the sky and turn it into a medium that your new plants can use to become stronger, produce more flowers/fruit, and create a great place to relax.

First off a confession: I am a lazy composter. I throw my stuff in my pile and let the magic of nature do it's thing. This means that my compost takes 2-3 times longer than anyone else using a hot composting method. But I will get into more details below and point you in the direction of some great resources as I go along.

The basics:

To start off you will need a place to put a compost pile, materials to construct a composting box, and plant clippings. My compost box is constructed from 4 T-posts, coated garden fencing mesh and zip ties. Other composting boxes can be made from upcycled pallets or other materials, but see paragraph 2, plus I didn't find these plans until just now.

You can also buy compost bins like this one, but beware the plastic bins, they can get so hot your plants will produce a foul smelling plant juice. Unlike wood or wire mesh composters they don't get the needed air circulation.

As for what to add to the compost bin once you build it you need a mix of both green plant clippings (e.g. grass) and brown plant clippings (e.g. fall leaves), adding these will give you the appropriate mix of carbon (brown) and nitrogen (green) that you need to promote growth in your garden. Unfortunately, they tend to be available at different times of the year.


There are two types of compost which I am going to touch on here: Hot composting and cold composting. 

Hot composting can only take place if you have the required balance of nitrogen, carbon, water and air. To accomplish this you need to add alternating layers of brown and green plant materials. I would suggest each layer be approximately 4 inches thick. You also need to make sure to water your compost. Don't let it get soggy, but don't let it dry out either. The last is air. About once a week you need to turn your compost pile to add in air. See I am tired just thinking about it, but you get good compost in 2-3 months. FYI, it is normal for this type of compost to steam.

Cold composting on the other hand is much simpler. Build compost box, add plant clippings, wait 6-9 months. 

For more information, I recommend checking out Composting 101.

Good stuff to add:

Grass clippings, food waste (vegetables), coffee grounds, garden waste.

Fall leaves, hair or pet fur, fruit, shredded newspaper or cardboard, peanut shells.

Stuff to watch out for: 

If you decide to add fruit or vegetables to your compost make sure to bury them at least 6 inches from any side of your bin to deter rodents.

Don't add meat, pet droppings, or anything with oil in it. It will sour the batch.

Don't put diseased plants or weeds in your bin, it probably won't be hot enough to kill either of them.

But wait you say, when and how can I use my compost?

This is a great question. Once you have created a pile, you need to let it 'cook' for awhile, either actively or passively managing it. Once you have determined there must be compost in the pile, I recommend sifting it through a 1/4 inch mesh screen to remove any large pieces of vegetation (to go back into the compost pile). Then place around plants or till into your garden plot.

Pretty upcycled stuff to decorate your garden with while you are waiting for the compost:

As always hoping your garden is a little greener,

This 'n That Creations

June 24, 2012

Sustainable Sundays: BOOKS

Let's start the week of with a little upcycled knowledge!  :)  Each week we search through thousands of upcycled creations made from over 2,100 sustainable shops on our Upcyclers Etsy Team! Here's what we found for you this week...

Summer is a great time for reading, but check out what else can be done with


"Give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed."
- Anne Rice, The Witching Hour

Happy Sunday. Hope it's a sustainable one!
The Wooden Bee

June 23, 2012

Love 2 DIY on the Weekend~ Kickstarting a Kinkajou!

I just virtually met Patrick Lehoux~ an entrepreneur with an awesome product that he's trying to launch with Kickstarter. I was so excited about this because it would make upcycling glass bottles so much easier and I've been sitting here with cases of them just waiting to be upcycled! (Yeah, makes me sound like a bit of a lush, but seriously, I get them from friends and I have a lot of parties!) Anyway, Pat is working towards a $75,000 start up fund and has already surpassed $32,000! But he only has two weeks to go, so I'm proud to offer a hand to a project so worthy. I especially love his options for sponsoring at the $50 level because you get a Kinkajou when they start production!

So what's a Kinkajou? It's a "bottle cutter with a new twist" that basically evolved from Lego wheels and wood and now is a design that efficiently scores a bottle safely and neatly, making it ready for separation. Pat even describes his method for separating the bottle with a foolproof hot water method. He also is marketing a finishing kit with his bottle cutter, making this a complete DIY Kit! Here's a video that spells out the picture completely:

If you go to his page on Kickstarter, not only can you pledge to back his Kinkajou, one option even allows you to vote on the third production color! Standard colors will be black and white.

For those of you who haven't seen some of the amazing glassware that can be upcycled from bottles, Pat shows some examples on his Kickstarter page and here's a few examples from Upcyclers' member, Groovy Green Glass:

Beautiful, right? And eco-chic! They are also wonderful conversation pieces and as Pat mentions, a great way to keep a bottle(s) from a special occasion! Okay, so you're ready to buy one and start doing it yourself? Well, pass the word or sponsor Kinkajou yourself and let's get these on the market! Even if you don't think you'd want one, I know a lot of our Upcyclers who would, so help make our upcycling job easier and we'll help keep your landfills a little emptier.

June 22, 2012

T.G.I.Free~ Read for Free!

Do you Love 2 Read? Well, this week I went looking for a free read~ and I found some great resources for free eBooks and downloadable books! Not only do you save money, but you can save paper by reading online or on a reading device~ good for your wallet, your planet and your brain!

Freebooks.com calls themselves "the most popular website for Free Books"~ just ignore the annoying pop-up offer for a free gift card~ as much as I like free things, I don't like them with tricky strings attached! I didn't find very many choices but there were some all time favorites.

Pride and Prejudice from Freebooks.com

Grimm's Fairy Tales from Freebooks.com

I loved Kobo where they invite you to "Read Freely"...and offer about 180 titles including many classics.

Aesop's Fables from Kobo

Jane Eyre from Kobo

You can "go to the mall"~ the eBookMall, that is! They have about 125 free eBooks you can download to your "eReader, smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac. But they say their list is updated on a regular basis and that the same books are not always available, so grab them when you can!

Walden from eBookMall

Maxwell's Smile from eBookMall

Just Free Books is a search engine you can use to find free eBooks for you! I searched for one of my daughter's favorites: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and found 10 pages of results! Some better than others and a bit varied from the title, but it led me to a nice find called Storynory where you can download or just listen to audio books for children. They had a wonderful version of Alice in Wonderland that is illustrated and clearly read with lovely diction.

Available at Storynory.com

Just Free Books also listed another audio version from BooksShouldBeFree.com that is dramatically read and uses different readers voicing the different characters.

Available from BooksShouldBeFree.com

Of course there are tons more sites out there~ including Amazon.com, Audible.com, Project Gutenberg, PlanetPDF.com, ManyBooks.net, FreeKidsBooks.org and MagicKeys.com.

I hope you'll have fun browsing for your favorites like I did~ when you find a good one all you have to do is find a comfy spot and enjoy a good read for FREE!

June 18, 2012

Demystifying T Shirt Yarn Series: What is T Shirt Yarn?

I was ready for many things when I opened my supplies shop.  I was ready to spend many hours creating inventory.  I was ready to spend many hours building up my social networking and involvement in online communities.  I was ready to build my accounting system and work out all the business details.  I was ready to make mistakes and learn from them.  However, I was not ready for the question I would most frequently be asked, "What is t shirt yarn?".

The other thing I hear a lot is, "I've seen/heard of it, but haven't tried it because I don't know how to use it".  So I have decided to do 2 things with this article.  First, I am going to clearly explain what t shirt yarn is and how to use it correctly.  Second, I will tell you how to tell what to look for in a high quality t shirt yarn.  Third, I will tell you what your expectations should be.  Fourth, I will tell you all the ways this is eco friendly.  And fifth, I will link you to my t shirt yarn giveaway, where you can enter for a chance to win a literal rainbow of t shirt yarn and try it for yourself for free!  Wanna see it?

What is T Shirt Yarn and How Do I Use It?
Very simply, t shirt yarn is made from t shirts that have been cut into a continuous loop and then carefully stretched into a cord.  It usually ranges in widths from 1/8" to 1/4".  Depending on the t shirt it is made from it can be rather stiff or it can be very soft and some a little stretchy.  Once you learn how to use it, it becomes a very versatile and eco friendly medium to work with.  

Let's quickly discuss some t shirt yarn terms.  T shirt yarn is measured in WPIs.  That means "wraps per inch".  I like to use a ruler to describe this.  So if you wrap a 4 WPI yarn around a ruler you should have to wrap it around 4 times to equal 1 inch.  I like to remember that a 4WPI t shirt yarn is 1/4" wide and an 8WPI t shirt yarn is 1/8" wide.  The larger the WPI the thinner the yarn is.  8WPI is about as thin of a width as you can get.  Anything smaller tends to not curl up well so it is really tattered looking and tends to break easily.

So how do you use t shirt yarn?  You use it the same way you would any bulky yarn, but there are a few things you should know to help you get started on that first project with t shirt yarn.  T shirt yarn has 2 sides.  One side is flat and the other side shows the cord.  There is not a twist in it like traditional yarns so you will need to keep your yarn straight, by keeping the same side up when holding it in your fingers, to keep it consistent throughout your project.  Good t shirt yarn should be a consistent width throughout the entire ball, but sometimes you see a spot that is a little wider.  When/if you see this, gently stretch the yarn a bit and it will thin to the width you need.  You also need to remember that even an 8WPI, which is usually the thinnest you will see, is still pretty bulky and you will need to use a size J crochet hook (or the equivalent if knitting) to properly work with it.  If you are using a bulkier t shirt yarn like a 4 WPI I recommend nothing smaller than a size M crochet hook or the equivalent if knitting.

How Do I Look For Quality T Shirt Yarn?
The most important thing to look for in a quality t shirt yarn when you are purchasing is good cording.  By that I mean that the cord has curled nicely into the yarn and you don't see any edges.  You are looking for the cording to be like this photo:

See how the ends curl in and there is none of the outer edge showing?  That is what you are looking for.  Of course, you don't want any stains or any holes from the t shirt showing either.  A quality shop will cut any areas with a hole or stain out of it.

What should your expectations be?
In the world of t shirt yarn, it can be difficult to find matching colors and textures.  Just like each t shirt feels a little different, so does each ball of t shirt yarn.  For me, that is often part of the charm of it.  Each ball is original and cannot be copied.  That charm can wear off fast if you are wanting to do a large project and want everything to match.  That doesn't mean that you can't use t shirt yarn.  Yes, it is difficult to find large lots of matching t shirt yarn, but it isn't impossible.

There are a couple of ways you can get around this.  First, shops that sell t shirt yarn will sometimes have yarn from event t shirts.  These are brand new shirts that are headed for a dumpster, until someone like myself of Mike from Mike's T Shirt Yarn, comes along and rescues it.  These are sold in bulk packages and are fabulous for a project that you want a uniform color and texture to, as each ball will be the exact same color and texture.  The other option is to use a shop that dyes their shirts.  They can dye up a batch of matching balls for you.  

How is T Shirt Yarn Eco Friendly?
Not all t shirt yarn is what I would consider eco friendly, but I am a bit of a purest when it comes to this.  Why am I a purest?  Because 11 million tons of textiles go to the dump each year.  Because creating 1 pound of textiles emits more than 7 pounds of CO2 and the average t shirt wastes 700 gallons of water during manufacturing.  You see where I am going with this?  There is a great info graphic that shows all of this information on the Naturally Advanced Blog.  Upcycling t shirts into yarn is a fabulous way to save t shirt from going to the dump and help reduce the 11 million tons of textile being dumped annually.

So what makes t shirt yarn eco friendly?  Eco friendly t shirt yarn is usually made from gently used t shirts.  The exception for me is event t shirts that a company or group is going to throw away.    That being said, when it comes to a product like t shirt yarn, there is room for all kinds of variety.  I have seen many people who cut new shirts to make t shirt yarn and others that dye them like I mentioned before.  Outside of event t shirts that are one breath away from a dumpster, cutting up a new t shirt to make yarn is in no way eco friendly, as a new t shirt is in no immediate danger of seeing a dumpster.  I think dying t shirts can be eco friendly if they are using a used t shirt and the dye that is being used is biodegradable and doesn't contain any harmful chemicals.  There is still some water being used in manufacturing these kinds of t shirt yarn, but if handmade the water used would be minimal and certainly no where near the 700 gallons needed in mass manufacturing.

Didn't You Say Something About A Giveaway?
I most certainly did!  If you want to win that beautiful rainbow of t shirt yarn, all you need to do is log into your Facebook account and use this link.  Sorry Facebook haters, but this does everything for me, which leaves me more time to make more yarn.  The drawing ends on June 30 and there are no shipping charges.  

I hope that t shirt yarn seems more comfortable to those of you who haven't tried it yet.  New mediums can be intimidating to work with if you don't know anything about them.  Next month I will be featuring some shops that use t shirt yarn to show its versatility.  You will see everything from rugs to baskets to clothing!   And then in August I will post an article full of tutorials so you can begin using t shirt yarn yourself!  

I also want to thank Mike from Mike's T Shirt Yarn for contributing to the article.

Love and Peace,

June 17, 2012

Sustainable Sundays: MADE IN AMERICA

Here's your weekly dose of sustainable finds on Etsy. We search and highlight upcycled creations made from over 2,000 sustainable shops on our Upcyclers Etsy Team! Shops that are actively upcycling and participating in our community are available for selections.

We're going to start out this week with the a few patriotic finds.  July 4th is less than three weeks away, and with a little preparation, you can celebrate America's birthday the eco-friendly way this summer!

A perfect way to decorate your front door!
Upcycled red, white and blue crocheted tshirt rug by iamthemandy

Make your own July 4th Decorations!
4th of July Recycled T Shirt Yarn 116 Yards by Mikes TShirt Yarn

Great accessory for your 4th of July outfit!
Star Spangled Upcycled Wooden Nickel and Charm Necklace by twitchandwhiskers

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”  JFK

Patriotic Collage P...
Repurposed T Shirt ...
Pr Antique Porcelai...
vintage sewing butt...
Eco Friendly Boys R...
Star Spangled - Up...
All American Stars ...
SALE Size 18 mo - 3...
American Flag Card ...
Eco-friendly pot ho...
Scrabble Tile Earri...
Red Hot Large Round...
Brooch Zipper Flow...
SALE Red and Blue G...
Pillow Red White an...
You can also find more patriotic upcycled items in this Etsy treasury collection: Red, White & Upcycled!

Happy Sunday!
The Wooden Bee