A dishcloth report…

So, for those of you who have kept up with the whole “lunchbox project” thing, you may have been wondering what happened after I shrunk the dishcloths. Well, no you probably have far more interesting things to wonder about, but I’m going to assume you’d like the sense of closure that comes from hearing the end of a story.

The shrunken dishcloths were a lot denser than in their original form and that was both a good and a bad thing. Good because they felt more solid, which was somehow satisfying. Bad because they seemed to hold more gunk.

Really though, I don’t think it changed the use or drying either way. If they were being used at home, then I’m pretty sure drying might have been more of an issue with the higher density. In an office block with constant air conditioning running, they were going to dry overnight if not while I was present.

I quite like both pre and post shrinkage cloths.

They are nice to look at, massively cut my paper towel usage and they are easy to clean and dry in a big office building. My only gripe has been that I get a bit of fluff off them on my hands when I wring them out. Small gripe.

So, I might make some more… We shall see…

Lunchbox project: Success!

I haven’t said much about the lunchbox project since it began. Mostly, that’s because I was slow to make my napkins and weave my dishcloths, but it has now been in full swing for a bit!

The dishcloths have been more successful than I’d hoped. They dry well in the office and don’t seem to hold too much grease or food bits.

Napkins have become tea-towels! Well, sort of. They still get used as napkins, but they are good tea-towels too, so I haven’t made a dedicated tea-towel. I might still do that though as the napkins are kind of small.

The reusable cups are in use, though I need to get a glass one for use in the office (the silicone ones I own are carried in my bag for on-the-way-to-work drinks).

I haven’t bought dedicated cutlery yet, but I have removed a spoon from the office stash and that’s enough for eating most foods!

So… it has gone pretty well. The next thing I want to make are waxed cloths for wrapping sandwiches etc. Exciting!!

And, while it’s not part of the lunchbox project I have to say the patching of the jeans worked for their first wear. I’m hoping to patch a second pair now and that may mean a clothes-buying-free year this year!

Lunchbox project: I made dishcloths

I know I said this project mightn’t involve weaving, but you know how it is when you have yarn… in this case a bright and cheerful acrylic vari that was originally used to knit a scarf.

I can’t even remember why that project was a failure, but I pulled the whole lot back and was left with squiggly yarn:

ball of yarn

That was ages back and then I got thinking it’d make nice dishcloths, because it’s chunky (12ply), colourful and acrylic. Now, a lot of people prefer natural fibers for dishcloths but, as this is for the office, I want it to dry quickly and acrylic is good for that!

I had enough warp for 3 so I’m well supplied now. Though you can only see one facing here, this is the whole lot still all one piece, drying on the line:

dishcloth drying on the line
With hemstitching and a few rows of PW each end, I decided to texture the middle of the cloth with a pick-up stick pattern

I wanted more scrubbing power, so I did a 2 ends up, 2 ends down pattern with an offset, divided by 2 picks of PW (image above shows the reverse).

The pattern opened up the web nicely and I think it’ll make for a better cloth for my purposes. It also looks nice with this vari – kind of amps up the chaos of the colours crossing themselves – and I want chaos, because it’ll hide stains, wear etc.

My only worry is they’ll be a bit fluffy, as it is a soft acrylic. I’m going to throw them in the machine a few times before I start using them to “wear them in”.

Dishcloths for work… Tick!

I’ll report back on how they go in use… But that’s the first lunchbox item done!!

Lunch box project: Frugality and waste

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about “I have thousands of dollars of debt” type frugality in this post. For me it’s about not wanting to be “wasteful” with my money and saving more than I do now.

Which is how, late last year, I discovered that I was… well… accidentally frugal. You see, I had consulted the internet on how to be a better saver only to find I couldn’t give up the suggested behaviours because I don’t do any of them!

It was a weird feeling. I mean I know I’m a good saver, but I don’t budget etc so I’d assumed there was room for improvement. Turns out that buying meals is about the only worthwhile area I can cut back in (other than giving up yarn). So, if I want to be more frugal then I need to solve the lunch problem.

This got me thinking about waste too. I can replace my paper wrapped, paper bagged sandwich from the shop with a paper wrapped, paper bagged one from home… but isn’t that a missed opportunity?

On work days, I’m definitely contributing to the vast amount of paper waste we create. And there’s no way that what I put in the recycling bin at work gets recycled – there’s just too much contamination (mostly take-away coffee cups) – so I don’t even have that to fall back on!

This is where the craft aspects come in. For the cleaning issues, I’m going to make myself some dish cloths and tea towels for the office. For eating, I’m going to start with some cloth napkins. It mightn’t involve weaving (we’ll see!) but it will definitely be a re-use, up-cycling thing. Exciting!

Lunch box project: The lunch problem

I have a lunch problem. It has a few parts to it, but the heart is the conflict between my desire to take lunch and my hatred of dirty lunch containers.

You see, I used to love buying lunch because I’d go out with work friends and we’d sit somewhere and let off steam. It seemed like good value for the $ spent. But then I went over to doing contract work and poof! work-friends became less common, bitching about work became less therapeutic and lunch shifted to take-away, so my environmental footprint went up a boot size or two!

Sadly, no matter how hard I try to take lunch, what stops me from succeeding is the dirty lunch container.

They hide. Only to be found later in a gross state. They resist cleaning. My containers are plastic and love chicken and other fats (chicken is the worst). Sometimes they leak. Which sometimes means they leak on other stuff because I don’t have a dedicated lunch box carrying receptacle/bag.

The observant reader might be wondering why I don’t just wash them at work. Well… I have three reasons:

  • seems daft to wash them twice, so a work wash needs to be a proper wash

  • I need to wear gloves to wash dishes (sensitive skin)

  • the work dishcloth is often a bit feral… okay, it’s always feral

  • if you dry things with paper-towel it leaves an odd smell behind, but I’m never using a communal work tea towel (see comment about dishcloths) and that’s assuming there is one!

So, a big part of the lunch box project is solving these problems. I have some ideas… Before I share these though, I’d like to explain the other issue I’m hoping to tackle; frugality. Stay tuned.

Lunch box project: It may just be an excuse for craft!

2018 appears to have delivered me a new project to work on. One that will involve a mix of problem solving, philosophical reflection and craft!

Hopefully you’ll enjoy coming with me on the journey to solve one of my biggest challenges in life…lunch.

Why this seemingly simple part of a day is any kind of problem, will be revealed over the next few lunch box project posts, but lunch has been a thorn in my paw for quite a few years now. It needs a solution and I think I might have found one. We’ll see.

The funny thing is that my original instinct to blog about this was rejected by the part of my brain that recognises a “first world problem” when it sees one. Then I looked more deeply at my lunch issues and realised they are actually tangled up in bigger questions like waste, health, financial security and charity.

So, here we are…and while I might not get to the craft aspects of this project straight away, that’s the part I’m probably most excited about!