Friday, May 10, 2019

Crocheted Market Bag

Recently I heard on the news that some grocery stores in our area are going to phase out the use of single use plastic bags .  People will have to bring their own bags.  They may offer paper, but I'm not sure about that.  It's a good idea because plastic bags can take 10 to 1,000 years to decompose, and every year 100 billion of them end up in landfills around the country.  Aldi has always had a no bag policy.  If you don't use one of their boxes or bring your own bag, you have to buy their bags.  We just take it for granted that all other stores provide bags.  I try to remember to use reusable bags if I do big shopping, but we all manage to accumulate more plastic bags than we need.  They can't be recycled by our local waste management people and have to be put in the regular garbage which really clogs up the landfills.  Many stores have bins to bring the bags to, but it's hard to remember.  I used to bring my bags to a local store, but they went out of business.  Most people don't want to go to the trouble so they just throw them in the trash.

Recently I was packing up my extra bags and saw this written on one of them.

"Please reuse or recycle this bag" sparked a memory of a blog I wrote a few years ago.  I made things out of plastic bags, but somehow I got out of the habit.   Here is the blog from 2013.  It has the step by step instructions for cutting the bags and making the "plarn" so you can knit or crochet it just like yarn.  If you want the instructions, just click on this link.

I thought this would be a good time to make a more permanent shopping bag out of the flimsy plastic bags I have accumulated.  I organized my bags into colors.  I had a few gray bags from Walmart, green from a local grocery store, yellow from Dollar General and Festival foods, orange from Fleet Farm and a lot of white bags with different colored writings.  I hope my instructions are understandable.  I'm not a pattern writer and make most things on the fly.

Crocheted Market Bag

Chain 51 stitches from your prepared "Plarn".  Single crochet, with a size "H" hook, in the second stitch from the hook and in each stitch until the end.  Turn and crochet two stitches in the first and last stitch of the chain.  Then single crochet on the other side of the chain crocheting two stitches in the first and last stitch.  You now have 52 stitches on each side making 104 stitches in total.  Place a marker and single crochet on these 104 stitches around and around changing colors as you see fit.  You can make this bag as long as you want.  Mine is about 15 inches long.

When you get to the top, it's time to make handles.  I chose short handles but you can make them any length.  I crocheted in 16 stitches, chained 32 for the handle, skipped 20 stitches, and continued in single crochet on the next 32 stitches, chain 32 again and crochet in the last 16 to the marker.  The next row single crochet around including the 32 handle chains.  There is no sewing together.  This bag is all one piece and very sturdy.  It took about 60 plastic bags to make this one bag.  I may put a zipper in the top or some large snaps, but it isn't necessary.

The finished Market Bag 
Close up on the single crochet stitch

Here are a few more I have made.  I have learned to make the handles at least 4 rows to make them sturdier.  I have even used a strand of yarn with the plastic to make them more colorful. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Wildflower Walk in South Woods

I was looking through my pictures and trying to decide which to keep and which to delete.  I take way too many, and it isn't possible to keep them all.  I save them on thumb drives organizing by person or subject.  I have an external hard drive that doesn't work anymore so I have tons of pictures I can't access.  I don't understand the cloud.  There are photos there but you have to pay if you store too many.  I used to save them on CD's but I don't have a computer with a CD drive any longer and some computers don't have USB ports so the thumb drives will be obsolete very soon.  Oh well, I'm getting to the age where accessing the pictures will soon be someone else's problem just like we were left with movie camera film which turns brittle and needs an operating movie projector.  We have recordings on Beta and VHS tape also that will never be looked at again.

This is the reason I blog and make hard cover books of the blog.  At least there is a hard copy of my life which includes a few pictures.  My daughter makes beautiful scrapbooks with her family memories that will also be there for the future.

Last weekend my daughter, her mother in law, our grandson and I attended a Wildflower walk through South Woods in Ripon Wisconsin.  It was sponsored by the South Woods Park Association and led by a former biology professor from Ripon College.  Before I delete any of the pictures I took, I will put some of them into this blog.

It was a beautiful day and we spent over two hours walking the trails in the woods and learning about plants that are often overlooked.  Many people showed up.  This walk is done yearly but this was our first time.  Its amazing what appears in the woods early in the Spring.

I have written about our grandson Ewan many times, and even though I may be prejudice, he is the most interesting kid.  It doesn't matter what it is, he goes all in.  He showed up with his walking stick (which he made himself), his rubber boots, a water bottle and his canvas bag which contained everything he needed.   He had a journal, a pencil and various items which may be needed for survival in the woods.

We started out learning about the bloodroot plant.  Dr. Wittler explained about the structure of flowers and how different plants survive and are pollinated.


Ewan kept very good notes.  The instructor picked several of the plants to pass around.  Ewan somehow ended up being the last one to look at the plant and would then stash it in his book to press and preserve.  He told me that he didn't want to get in trouble for picking the flowers but as long as the professor had already picked them, it was alright to keep them.

Ewan with his mom and his other grandma.

We saw a lot of different plants and heard stories about all of them.  Dr. Wittler was a college professor for many many years, so he had a lot of anecdotes and stories taken from his experiences.

We saw skunk cabbage, hepatica, trillium, wild leeks, Dutchman's breeches, trout lily and spring beauty to name a few.

  Dutchman's breeches 
Skunk Cabbage
Wild Leeks (Ramps) 
Spring Beauty 
It was a great day.  We ended the tour with some information on some invasive species.  Someone found some Morel mushrooms which are a delicacy to some people.  Ewan even managed to go home with them.

There were a couple logs to climb and steep hills, but we managed just fine.  I have to admit, I was a little tired by the end of the day, but that kind of tired is good.  Fresh air, sunshine and exercise is a great combination. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Spring 2019 and the discovery of a Great Blue Heron Rookery

The spring migratory birds are returning or have returned in the past few weeks.  The Red winged blackbirds arrived very early.  They were one of the first to show up.

The Baltimore Orioles and Hummingbirds are back.

The whooping cranes have returned from the south to an area nearby.  Some were raised there and some have just showed up at the habitat for the first time.

The sandhill cranes are nesting within sight of our windows.  They were beginning to nest closer but some bad weather and flooding moved them a short distance away.  We can't see them as well, but we will be able to see when the egg or eggs hatch.

There are always the bluebirds, the various ducks and the tree swallows.  Neither the tree swallows nor the bluebirds are nesting in our yard yet, but they are in the area and should begin soon.  I can't even begin to mention all of the species of birds we see around our house.

This year the most exciting times have revolved around the Great Blue Heron.  Every year they come to our marsh to fish.  I see them and I photograph them often.  This spring I saw one actually eating fish.  They wait so patiently, then slowly move in as if they are walking on tip toes and suddenly dip their head into the water and come out with a fish.  I saw it twice so far this spring.  One fish was very large and it took him a long time to swallow it.  Another time it looked like a pan fish.  It is amazing how they can just swallow a fish whole.

This morning a Great Blue Heron flew up into a tree outside our dining room window.  He sat there for the longest time.  I don't usually see them sitting in a tree unless they are nesting.

Speaking of Great Blue Herons nesting in trees, we actually have a Great Blue Heron Rookery in our area. If you have ever seen a group of huge nests made of large sticks in tall tree tops, you have seen one of these rookeries.  They are the spring nesting place for these large birds.  I was always under the impression that Great Blue Herons had young ones in the south during our winter.  I never really knew for sure, I just assumed.  Assuming is never a good thing.  Rookeries can have more than a hundred nests in them, but this one has around 20 or so.

I don't know how long this rookery has been here or why they chose this particular location.   This is the first year I knew about them.  As much as things stay the same, they also evolve.  You never can predict what the changes will be or what you will see from year to year.