Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Waste Not

"Use it up,
Wear it out.
Make it do
or do without."
That particular bit of wisdom was my Great Aunt Martha's favorite.  Born in 1892 she grew up in a time when waste was shameful (as well as stupid) and the need to be frugal was reinforced by the first and second World Wars.  I was small when I knew her but I liked that bit of rhyme and have always remembered it.
Processing wool through a carder to make roving always generates some waste - short and broken fibers that fall from the carding cloth and are discarded.  I've always been annoyed by the reality of having fiber that I've spent time skirting and washing and dyeing end up being thrown away even though it isn't a great quantity.  But no more!  I'm a bit slow on the uptake but have finally caught onto the thought of making dryer balls from the waste.
I've asked Diane from Acorn Works to return my carder waste to me along with the good roving.  Thanks to a tutorial from Thecrazysheeplady I have turned several bags of fiber into dryer balls.  I made seventeen in the first go 'round and I have more fuzzy waste fiber yet to use. 

I had a little trouble keeping the size consistent and the bigger ones were a little too squishy so I got the bright idea of cinching them up with yarn and letting them have another wash cycle. Then I threw them all in the dryer to beat the fuzz and dust off them and round off the lumpy parts.  The yarn worked to help them tighten down but what I thought was a fun little pattern of yarny dashes ended up looking like the big cartoonishly obvious stitches that hold Frankenstein's head on.  Oh well, they are functional and turned my waste fiber into a useful item so I'm hooked.
Totally unrelated, we have cliff swallows nesting in one machine shed!

I love these little guys!  We have barn and tree swallows too so the flying insects had better watch out.  The barn swallows make a mud nest with a traditional cup shape, the tree swallows are cavity nesters and have camped out in one bird house in the big rose bush, but the cliff swallows don't settle for some simple nest - they make a mud structure that's totally enclosed with just a little entry hole.  And they were smart enough to settle in the one building that the cats frequent less than the others.  Coincidence or are they a bit smarter than the other species of swallow?  Maybe elaborate nest structures are correlated to intelligence?  Sounds like a thesis paper for someone.....
Speaking of building, I saw this paper wasp industriously gnawing on the wood door frame of my wool shed.  You can see from the parallel chew marks in the wood that this is a favorite place to come get building material. 
After scraping wood fibers from the board he mixes it with spit to make a pasty pellet and then carries it to the paper nest and applies it to the leading edge, using his jaws to shape it into a thin flat strip - building a sheet of paper one mouthful at a time. 
I'm always amazed by the abilities the good Lord gave all his creations, even the little ones.



  1. Clever use of left-overs. Well done. I just need to ask: are these also balls of wool or are they playing balls? (My cats would love them!)