Waste and Want

tiptoe hookingAs a rug hooker I am always trying to find ways to use my linen waste. Linen backing fabric is expensive and being a very strong fiber has potential for reuse. Waste not want not. When was the last time you heard that saying? Perhaps it is time to dust off that old quote from yesteryear. It has come back into fashion as we now call it recycling or green crafting.

sale7One idea that I have shared before but bears repeating is to use the threads themselves. When I have finished hooking a project, I then trim off the excess linen fabric before finishing the piece. If I have a leftover scrap that is pretty long, I will pull out the long threads and wind them onto a card or a spool. This tip also works with saving threads from other linen dress weight fabric. I love the way my hand-wound thread looks on a vintage spool or an embellished tag. I enjoy using my recycled thread as it is pre-cut and ready to sew or embroider with. Think of using it for wrapping packages and gifts, or using small bits for handwork like making a tiny nest for catkins.

DSCF1023This is not a new idea. Back in the day when fabric for garments were hand woven, every last scrap had value. Uses were found for every bit of new and old whether it be bits of string rolled into balls, or worn out fabric turned into quilts or used for stuffing pillows and toys and rags.

I even remember when I was a young child sitting by the window with my Italian Nonni, that a rag man would often walk through the streets of town. I think that the rag man was calling out for discarded rags to take, but now I am not sure of these details. I do remember that he was an old scruffy looking fellow. I think he carried a large rag bag on his back. And of course I was terrified of him. If we were naughty we might hear our grandmother threaten to give us to the rag man! To her defense, my Nonni needed these little bits of leverage because she could not run as fast as we could and I had a great place in her vestibule where she could not find me.

3-owl-babiesIf you have wider pieces of linen to conserve, consider serging or zigzagging the edges of them to keep them from unravelling, sewing several of these strips together to make a piece large enough to stretch on your hooking frame.

pinkieThen you can hook something smaller such as my Owl Babies, Signs, Birdhouses, Rose Sewing Case, or Raggedy Ann Flowers patterns. I offer all of these as PDF instant downloadable patterns on my Etsy shop. Or make up your own flower or vegetable or critter to hook. You could even use your initials to make into a small design for a decorative pillow or mat.

Sometimes scrap crafting can bring out your creativity and give you ideas you wouldn’t have had otherwise. I love it when that happens.

Do you have a thrifty craft idea that you would like to share in a comment? Please do!

Thanks for stopping by to visit ~ Karen

Click to see all of what’s new on my PDF instant downloadable patterns section on Etsy


24 thoughts on “Waste and Want

  1. Karen, I am old enough to remember the rag man driving through our Italian town with his horse drawn wagon calling raaaags old iron. He would collect rags and iron for pennies and sell them to a company to make paper and repurpose the iron. My Nona
    would always try to make a donation. It was a respectable job in Italian communities.
    I, like you have been taught well and save all kinds of scraps and always manage to find a use for most of it. I like your way of thinking


  2. I save the trim from my rugs for granddaughters to learn to hook. They start with embroidery frame, plastics needles and worms. They get use to the feel of linen and wool.


  3. I learned the best of color planning from you at a class in Santa Fe several years ago!
    I recall as a child in the late thirties in Cleveland Ohio.. A scruffy old man at our side door calling: “PAPER”…RAGS?. My mother donated what she had…fed him…sent him on his way. She told us he was a bum…no prejudice!…no fear…just compassion!


  4. Hi Karen! I’ve used my linen scraps for various things. I’ve sewn up a side to make a bag for a wine bottle, and secured the top with a scrap of wool. I’ve also used bits to wrap small presents, which looked particularly nice under the tree at Christmas. I was saving the string (as per an older post of yours) stopped, and think I’ll start that tradition again! Nice post, and lovely warm photos!
    Best to you,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Karen,
    Designate long wide strips of unsuitable hooking wool to become borders for hooking projects. I cut and reuse this wool time and time again. Zig zag pieces together to make fit for length and width and then sew to the linen thereby only leaving just enough linen to turn back for hems. I have photos on my blog at rug hookers hollow dot blogspot dot com. No more wasting hooking linen!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I want to thank you for the birdsnest bag pattern. I made one and especially like the way you made the finish so neat with the wool strip sewn to the edge ahead of the hooking. I am now making another large carpetbag and using that tip for the top edges.


  7. I remember living in Alameda during the war. There were a man and his wife who road around in a horse drawn wagon collecting rags and things. I remember asking my mother about them. Back then kids were allowed to roam and one day I road my bike across the bridge to Oakland (risking my neck riding on the expanded metal re-purposed landing field material) so I could see where the couple lived. They had a high wooden fence around the house so I couldn’t see much, but I can still see it in my mind. Just the other day I was thinking of them and wishing people could still do things like that instead of everything going into the dump. I have saved scraps of fiber for as long as I can remember, far beyond the old “rag bag” families used to have. Now I have a wonder stash for proddy. I wish I could hook with cotton.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wonderful memories! you certainly CAN hook with cotton! it will not be the same dirt resistant boyant rug as wool, but will work. i have not hooked with cotton, but some artists have.i think that strips will have to be thicker and folded over some. experiment with them!


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