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Book Recommendation - The Edible Front Yard by Ivette Soler

Yesterday I picked up a book while out shopping with Parker, and I've already flipped through it several times, and read all the way through half of it.

The book is The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler. I've been inspired for a while now by the concept of sustainable gardening replacing the modern water-wasteland of a lawn that is currently the neighborhood norm. It's also important to me to maintain a beautiful visual statement and have a pleasing sense of design and purpose to my front yard. When I saw this book, I gravitated toward it, and with a quick flip through the pages, realized this was going to be a wonderful resource for me.

Soler shares information on choosing plants that are not only edible, but also maintain integrity and visual appeal well through the year. She also gives design advice for creating a pleasing yard that works with your style of house, and gives suggestions for elements that will tie the space together during off-season months.

I loved the images of blooms of common plants that give great visual appeal, and was excited to see suggestions of the more ornamental varieties of plants that their common varieties are otherwise a little on the plain side visually.

Some of my favorite tips are to use lettuce and leafy edibles for borders, thyme to create a thick lawn-like bed of foliage, and to repeat plants for visual and design stability.

If you are interested in creating a garden space in your front yard, I suggest you check this book out. It's a great resource for any sustainable urban gardener, or anyone who is just tired of mowing and watering a lawn that doesn't give them much in return.

Recycled T Shirt Rainbow Rug

I made this great recycled t shirt rainbow rug for Earth Day, and I wanted to share it with you as another great idea for recycling old or thrifted t shirts.

Each round is made from part of a cut t shirt. I used t shirts in 14 different colors, and saved the left overs for other t shirt yarn projects.

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Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's the t shirts before being processed into strips. This time I cut strips across the width of the shirt at a slight angle, and broke the strips at the weak point, overlapping to join.

I love using old things to make new and beautiful items, especially when they have a lot of vibrancy and color like this item. What will you make with t shirt yarn?

Plastic Bag Yarn Christmas Tree - Recycled Holiday Decorations

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to participate at an eco-holiday craft workshop for San Jose's Our City Forest. I brought along several project ideas for decorating without purchasing anything new, and my plastic bag yarn Christmas tree was a big hit!

Cardstock or thin cardboard
Hot glue gun & glue
Plastic Bag Yarn
Decoration for top

To begin, find a piece of thin cardboard or cardstock. Cereal boxes work well, old poster board from a past school project is perfect for larger trees, or anything flexible yet firm that you can roll up into a cone shape will work. I'm using a piece of used bristol paper from a scrapped drawing assignment last semester.

Find the center point of your edge, and roll the edges of the paper in on themselves. You'll have to cut the bottom to be flat, so don't worry if it's not evened out.

Once you're happy with the shape of your cone, hot glue the edges of the outside down all the way around. Let the glue cool, then trim the bottom of your cone so it sits flat.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Starting at the top, glue the end of your plastic yarn into the hole at the tip of the cone. Laying down a line of glue all the way around the cone tip, wrap the plastic yarn carefully into the glue. Once you get all the way around, continue wrapping the yarn down the cone in a spiral fashion, keeping the yarn tight to the round above it. Add more glue as necessary.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Continue wrapping and gluing plastic bag yarn all the way down the cone. When you get near the bottom and the last layer looks even across, trim excess yarn and cardstock.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Now it's time to decorate our tree. Over an area that will collect excess glitter or hot glue, such as a box or a large piece of paper, apply a dot of hot glue on the plastic yarn tree. Low temperature hot glue works best here, but if you just have a high temperature glue gun, be careful that the hot glue doesn't move around on your tree much.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Holding the tree over the box or paper, and while the glue dot is still hot, cover the hot glue in glitter. Allow glue to cool completely, then shake off excess glitter. Wait for each hot-glue-and-glitter ornament to be completely cool before applying the next one.

If necessary, dust excess glitter off plastic bag yarn with a soft dry paint brush.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Finally, decorate the top of your tree. I used two circles punched from a recycled foil-lined envelope, which I glued back-to-back and finished with a confetti star glued to each side. I cut a tiny slit on both sides of the cone tip, added a little hot glue, and stuck my star medallion to the top.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's the tree on my craft table at Our City Forest's Eco-Holiday Craft workshop. You can see people making recycled ornaments in the background. Everything was a big hit!

Here's to great decorations, creating less waste, and a happy holiday to you and yours. Cheers! <3

Making T-Shirt Yarn - Recycled Craft Supplies

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

The holidays are here, and it's time to spread the good cheer. Why not make an effort this year to reuse and recycle as many of your gifts as possible?

Today I'll be showing you how to make t shirt yarn, which is great for creating custom yarns, from slim to bulky weight, that can be made into any number of great home decor or fashion gifts.

First, collect t shirts. Specifically, you want a tube knit shirt with no side seams for the best results. Harvest shirts from your give-away pile, your friends' or family's cast-offs or closets (after asking, of course!), or from thrift stores. If you opt for the last option, this is a case where bigger is better. Hit up the men's sections first, heading straight to the xxxl's if possible. Bigger shirts will get you more yardage for the same amount of money.

Wash and dry all shirts when you get them home. Next, we dissect.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Begin by cutting off the hemmed portion of the t shirt as close to the stitching as possible. From there, cut a spiral strip from the bottom edge of the t shirt all the way up to either the armpit area of the t shirt or to the printed design, whichever comes first.

The thickness of your strip will determine the thickness of your yarn, but be careful not to cut down to less than a quarter of an inch strip or you won't be able to stretch your strips into yarn.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's one 3xl shirt, cut into 1 continuous strip, before stretching.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Begin stretching the strips between both hands by pulling the strip lengthwise. This works with the properties of a knit stitch to curl the cut ends of the fabric in on the strip, creating a rounded piece of fabric that is easy to work with and looks smooth. Continue pulling the strip until the entire length of the fabric has been stretched.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's the same 3xl t shirt after being cut and stretched, waiting to be rolled into a ball.

Originally uploaded by theartofmegan

Here's my original pile of t shirts after being cut, stretched, and wound into balls. As you can see, I've already started crocheting them into a Christmas-colored rag rug. The rag rug was raffled off at the Our City Forest Eco-Holiday Craft Fair, and now has a happy new home!

Enjoy your new yarn, and enjoy making a green impact on our world!

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