Wordless Wednesday: Throwing Away Christmas

Christmas tree garbage

I took this picture yesterday after walking by tons of Christmas trees in plastic bags. Why on Earth do you need to put your tree in a plastic bag… just sweep the needles off your stairs after you carry it out. http://instagr.am/p/UO4C9nnOSd/

Etsy Spotlight: RipTie Knits


Today I am introducing a new weekly feature here, Etsy Spotlight, which will showcase and interview one Etsy shop and designer each week. Every shop I feature will have elements of eco-friendly crafting including up-cycling and other creative re-use techniques. Sometimes there will even be a giveaway or coupon depending on the shops owners preference. So please be sure to come by and check out each pick. 

This weeks pick is RipTie Knits, she cleverly makes knitting skeins out of up-cycled t-shirts. I also love her pillows made out of old t-shirts as well. Please head over to her shop to check out more of her great things. 

When did you start your Etsy shop?
I started my Etsy shop in October 2010. I discovered Etsy and was really excited to find something that would be fun to do to make some extra money to fund other hobbies. I was in the middle of a closet overhaul when I was inspired by a pile of unloved clothes all tumbled together. It reminded me of a time I’d gone window shopping with a friend, and we stumbled upon a yarn shop with all sorts of funky, fun yarns, one of which was a skein made of strips of recycled saris sewn end to end. I remembered from slicing up t-shirts for other projects how much stretch they had, and decided to whip out my scissors and go ninja on a few to see what I could come up with… and I came up with RipTie :)

Explain how people would use your RipTies to make something?
RipTie is a really easy “yarn” to knit with, especially for knitters/crocheters who are just getting started. The blends and little knots are great at hiding not-so-perfect stitches, and you don’t have to do anything more to switch between skeins than cut, tie on another end and continue working. It’s fun to mix and match colors and blends. Since I generally use cotton shirts for my blends, the finished projects are soft and have a nice stretch/give to them, which also makes it easy to work on the needles/hook. Specialty blends (denim blends, or blends with bits of bling) are a little trickier, but make up some of the more interesting projects… denim knit scarves have lots of little stringy bits that really add to the character, and speciality blends generally have pops of sequins, rhinestones or metal grommets which add some bling.

Is your Etsy shop to support your hobby or is it your job?
Well, my shop started out as kind of an experiment, to see how many pieces of clothing I could save from the landfill… then I liked it so much, I started sourcing unloved clothing from multiple sources and cutting it up for backstock, so when inspiration struck, I’d have piles of colors to choose from to make new blends. The shop is more of a hobby supporter than a job… because my day jobs generally keep me pretty busy.

Did you always sell what you sell now? If not what else did you sell?
The shop started with RipTie blends… then I added doing custom blends (special requests) and making projects made of RipTie to sell. Then I started branching into other eco-friendly ideas, like homegrown lavender products, repurposed abalone and seashell fragment jewelry, Tillows (t-shirt pillows), WristTwists (RipTie bracelets) … you never know when inspiration strikes, and how I’ll find a way to bring it into the shop to share :)

Why did you decide to make eco-friendly item?
Fabric is such an interesting medium to work with, and finding a way to blend different colors and textures is a fun challenge. To me, taking shirts no one loves and making them into something unique and new is really a lot of fun, not to mention good for the environment.

How do you find your up-cycled materials?
At first it was easy… just clean out my own family’s closets… then I started running out of options, and got creative. Now, I have a network of friends who regularly bring me bags of unloved goodies to sort through, plus several thrift stores that I regularly make rounds at to pick up back stock.

How long does it take you to cut up your materials to make one RipTie?
Great question! It really depends on how many skeins of a particular color blend I am making… if I am just doing a one-skein blend of say three different fabrics, it generally takes me about 10-15 minutes to slice and process, and another 20-30 minutes to tie and roll. I’ve never really timed myself… if I knew I was being timed I might try to beat the clock and get it done in under 30 minutes 😉 I keep a large backstock of colors all sliced and processed at the ready, so then it’s just perusing my color bins and selecting the fabrics to blend, and tying them up.

What kind of eco-friendly things do you do in your everyday life?
I try to cut back on buying things from the store by growing a garden and having a few hens to lay eggs, of shopping thrift stores over the mall when reasonable. If I am doing any kind of spring cleaning, I always try to find another use for something someone no longer wants, before discarding (discarding generally means donating, I try not to throw perfectly usable things in the garbage ever).

What do you find the hardest thing is to do to help the environment?
Convincing people there’s a need to cut back. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older that people are very programmed to always keep upgrading the things in their lives. Newest phone, latest computer, this season’s fashions… I’m more retro in that if I like it and it works, I’m good. Constantly feeling like you have to upgrade your possessions can be incredibly wasteful. I grew up with very little, and yet was pretty fine with that. I’ve always been able to see value in simple things. I think convincing other people of this is difficult.

What do you think is biggest problem for the planet/people?
Water quality. Without water, we’re done.

One fun fact about you
When I say I “go ninja” on a bagful of clothing to come up with my RipTie, I’m not really exaggerating. Because while my “day jobs” consist of being a graphic artist, a high school cheerleading coach, a fitness instructor, and a face/body painter, I also am a certified martial arts instructor (I can’t help it, I have a fondness for sharp and shiny things). :)

Right now RipTies is offering doing custom blends of skeins of RipTie, for just a $10 fee… you can request the colors you want blended, and can be for as many skeins as you’d like (skeins are generally 40 yds. each), for just one $10 custom blend fee.

Etsy shop: RipTie Knits 
Facebook: RipTie Knits 


Wordless Wednesday: Vintage Recycling Ad

Not totally wordless… I am fascinated by the fact that we were much more eco-friendly in the early 1900’s than we are now. I went on a search for vintage recycling ads and I found this at http://pzrservices.typepad.com head over there to see what other advertising advice they have and vintage goodies (it is a fun website!).

vintage recycling ad

Why Do We Recycle?


As my daughter gets older I want to teach her about the environment. We read the Lorax all the time, for about 4 months and she memorized it. Recently we were at the local toy store picking out birthday gifts when I saw the book Little Pirate: Why Do We Recycle? that is part of the Little Pirate Science Made Simple series.

When I took education classes in college we learned about the importance of early childhood education and how children start to form their interests when they are very young. I realized I had to teach my kids as early as I can about environment and this book is a good but basic way to teach them.


We have read it every night this week!

It is a pretty simple book that talks about not throwing trash into the ocean. Not using paper cups and not using plastic bags


I love the part where it talks about recycling. It explains to kids what happens to the stuff that we put in all those color coded bins.

Bonus: At the end of the book it has three craft projects on reusing your old water bottle, newspaper, or shoebox.

My one complaint is that the book is a little to simplistic I think they could have taken the topic a bit further. Kids have much more capacity than this book gives them credit for.

My daughter now says when we finish the book “Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse.”

Disclaimer: innovativekids.com has never heard of me. They did not send me this book and they have no idea I wrote this post.

Wordless Wednesday: Garbage Patch TED Talk