Reuse and Repurposing in the Kitchen
Over the past month, I’ve been working to reduce and repurpose when I can. One thing I’ve been making a lot of over the past few weeks are dishcloths. I’ve been doing my best to do my small part for the environment; reducing trash and reusing items when I can. I have a huge stack of dish towels that I keep in my kitchen that I’ve been collecting for the past 20 years. I use them like crazy instead of paper towels, but I have to admit that even though they’re very functional, they are very, very ugly! Most of them are stained, faded and several are ripped. So I thought that it was time to make up a set of dishtowels that had a bit more of aesthetic appeal. This was a great project to work on all throughout last month, because tossing a cotton skein in my bag with a hook was really easy to tote around to everywhere that we I needed to go, and I would just pick them up and work on them whenever I had some extra time – even sitting in the car during traffic standstills!
But I am so happy with the results! I love the bright splash of colors that they lend to my otherwise neutral kitchen. I used my favorite dishcloth pattern (which is free here) and made up a couple of dozen. I tried to be mindful of the scraps as well. What I’ve been doing with these cotton scraps are making jar covers. I had written last month about how a friend had paid me to make a couple of them up for her mason jars, and they turned out so pretty that I decided a few for myself would be a great way to use up those scraps. But instead of covering up my mason jars, I’ve been hanging onto glass jars that I buy in the store – jars that hold spaghetti sauce, salsa, olives, and pickles. After we use them, I clean them out and get as much of the label off as possible. But a lot of the times, there’s always a little bit of paper label stuck to the jar. I had previously thrown those jars away, because they didn’t look nice at all (yet I kept my dingy old towels, go figure!). But I decided that crochet covers were the perfect option for hanging onto them and covering up the ripped labels. And so I have a pretty shelf full of jars that are being reused for teabags, wine corks, and other kitchen items.
And finally, since I was on a roll with reusing food containers, I have also been keeping my old metal cans from canned food as well and scrubbing them off when I have used their contents. I was just using them for storage, and thought that I might crochet around them as well, but when I was visiting my local craft store, I came upon these pretty duct tape patterns, and found that duct tape was an easy and lovely way of making metal cans both look nice and be a practical storage solution.
The crochet jar covers are easy enough to make. I’ve previously used this pattern here, but lately, I’ve taken to just making them on a whim. I basically just make a chain that’s just big enough to fit around the bottom of whatever I’m covering (usually around 34-40 chains depending on the size), and then go round by round up in whatever color or stitch you want to use. In the rainbow one above, those are all bpsc all the way up. I added a drawstring of a long chain and then for the final round did an (sc, ch1) repeat, then I wove the drawstring through the holes and tightened it up. The lid is scrapbook paper with modpodge. The jar below is a spike stitch pattern with a couple of sc in between. I don’t know if I like it as much as the others, but it’s functional and in use, and I’m too lazy to change it any time soon!
As I go through the jars, I keep them on the floor next to my crochet table, and then whenever I have extra time or need some extra storage room, I’ll just make one and use it as I go along. Extra jars are saved for birthdays and holidays where cookies and candies can be placed inside. That’s crochet in a nutshell, right? Functional and decorative! And it makes me happy to do my little part in reducing trash as well.