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May, 2014

How to Make Plarn & Crochet an Eco-Friendly Tote Bag

May 20, 2014 by in News Comments Off on How to Make Plarn & Crochet an Eco-Friendly Tote Bag handmade and vintage goods

About the Project:

Crocheting with plastic yarn, or “plarn,” is a fun way to repurpose plastic bags and create a reusable alternative that is durable and even recyclable! This sweet tote is a great project for beginning and experienced crocheters alike, and a perfect complement to our Earth Day celebrations! Once you’re comfortable with chaining, single crochet stitch, slip stitch, half double, and double crochet stitches, you’re ready to get started!

Supplies you’ll need:

20-25 clean grocery bags*
Plastic crochet hook, size 6.50mm K**

*Tip 1: When choosing bags for your plarn, consider color and texture. Try to keep all the bags for the project the same density: some bags are stretchy, some are crunchy. It’s best to keep your plarn consistent to achieve a good overall effect. When considering color, think about combining different color plastic bags to create a pattern of color, random color changes, or even create a look that doesn’t reflect plastic at all. For example, brown plastic bags can look like raffia and not at all like the original material when crocheted.

**Tip 2: While the pattern calls for a certain size crochet hook and a specific number of rows to stitch, there may be variation in your project due to the tightness of your stitches or the density of your plarn. Don’t feel like you have to follow the pattern to the letter. The number of rows in your project can differ from the pattern. The goal is to create a tote that is almost a perfect square, but not quite. You’ll know when you’ve stitched enough rows when the height of your project measures slightly less than the width before you’ve started crocheting the handles. This way you can use whatever size hook you’re comfortable with, stitch as many rows as you need to make your tote look nice, and have fun doing it!


1.  Flatten out your clean grocery bags and fold them in half. Cut off the handles.
2. Cut off the bottom of the bags. Place these cut off pieces into a pile for the recycling bin.

3. Flatten out the round piece of plastic you now have and fold it in half. Fold that into thirds. Fold that in half again. Cut this folded piece into 1 inch pieces, discarding the pieces from both ends. I often layer 3 of the flat pieces and fold and cut them up together to save time, since we have so many bags to do. You can also cut them quickly on a cutting board with a rotary cutter and metal t-square.
4. Now we have created plastic loops that can be connected to create the plarn. Bring one loop through another.

5. Pull the other end of the loop through the end you just put through the first loop. They should now be connected.
6. Slowly and with finesse, pull the loops tight. You want that connection to be as flat and smooth as possible. If your loop is weak and breaks simply put it in your recycling pile and go on to the next piece.

7. Wind your plarn into a ball that feeds out of the center.
8. Create a slip knot and place it on your crochet hook.

9. Chain 20 stitches.
10. Stitch half double crochet for the body of the bag.

Tip: Make your stitches loose! You will become frustrated if your stitches are too tight. Do yourself a favor and keep it loose.

11. Crochet the tail in as you work.
12. Work in the round. No need to chain and turn, simply continue into the next stitch for the entire project.

13. After 4 rows of half double turn your work. It’s now right-side-out and you will continue working to left instead of to the right like before you turned it.

14. Complete 14 rows of half double crochet. If your stitches are tighter or looser you may need to do more or less rows. The goal is to have your bag slightly wider than it is tall at this point.
15. Now you will use single crochet. Do 6 stitches of single crochet.

16. Now you’re ready to make the first handle. Chain 20 stitches. Hold it up to the bag and see how you like that length. Want longer/shorter handles? Simply chain more/less stitches. Be careful not to twist your handle as you’re chaining. Count 8 stitches from where the chain started on your work and attach your chain to the bag with a single crochet stitch.
17. Stitch 12 single crochet stitches around to the other side.

Tip: Feel free to alter the pattern. Make the handles longer, the bag wider, more flowers. Be creative!

18. Now you’ll make the other handle. Chain 20, count 8 stitches along on your work, and attach the chain with a single crochet stitch, just like you did on the other side for the first handle. Make sure they look even. If not, find the place where they are even by holding the chain up to your bag and attach it there.
19. Now simply stitch single crochet all the way around and onto the handle, stitching into your chain stitches.

20. Continue stitching into your chain stitches, widening your handle.
21. Continue using single crochet and stitch along the other handle.

22. Stitch a few more single crochet stitches until you’re at the fold of the bag and the top looks even. Slip stitch and finish the ends off by hiding them in the stitches on the inside of the bag.
23. Attach the flower. Enjoy!


Abbreviation Key:
ch = chain stitch
ss = slip stitch
sc = single crochet stitch
hdc = half double crochet stitch
dc = double crochet stitch

Instructions for the Plarn Tote, for the crochet-inclined
ch 20.
Stitch hdc in the round. Crochet the tail into your work.
After 4 rows hdc turn your work right side out. Continue working hdc to the left now.
Complete 14 rows hdc.
Stich 6 sc.
ch 20. Count 8 stitches on your work and attach your chain with sc.
Stitch 12 sc.
ch 20. Count 8 stitches on your work and attach your chain with sc just like you did on the first side.
Stitch sc around and onto the first handle.
Stitch sc along the handle.
Continue sc around to the other handle.
Stitch sc to edge. ss and finish ends off by hiding them in the stitches on the inside of the bag.

Attach the flower.

Instructions for Flower
ch 4.
ss into first stitch to make circle.
work 10 sc around circle, crochet tail in as you work.
join by ss into first sc.
first petal: into first stitch do sc, 3 dc, sc. ss into next stitch.
repeat petal stitches 4 more times to make five petals.
ss into last stitch and finish by hiding ends in the back.


Thank you to Claire Baker from Montclair Made for sharing this project with us.

Originally posted here.


Shop Local!

May 16, 2014 by in News Comments Off on Shop Local!


The products at Miette on Magazine Street dot the shelves, the walls and the ceiling.

French Market coffee tins turned into clocks, Lego blocks used for jewelry charms and melted beads crafted into colorful lamps make up just a few of the artists’ work for sale.

Owner Angee Jackson, 34, says she opened the shop in 2010 to give local artists a place to grow and add to the offerings on Magazine Street, for years a mix of locally owned high-end furniture and fashion boutiques and thriftier vintage offerings.

“It used to be so much funkier,” said Jackson, who also owns Mojo Coffee House shops on Magazine and Freret streets.

The quirky landscape on Magazine Street has begun to change, riding the wave of an often-ballyhooed economic resurgence in New Orleans in recent years. The Uptown and Garden District neighborhoods around Magazine have emerged as hot real estate markets, driven by cash sales and offers from people flocking to New Orleans from across the country.

Meanwhile, national retail chains that once ignored New Orleans are now considering the city’s high-traffic retail corridors. In some cases, those areas have been proven viable by thriving locally owned shops. Home furnishings store West Elm is moving into the 2900 block of Magazine Street. Other nationals nearby include Jamba Juice, American Apparel, Starbucks, and clothing shops Free People and Chicos.

Some local owners see the trend as a threat to their businesses.

StayLocal!, an alliance of New Orleans independent business owners, recently surveyed Magazine Street businesses in response to concerns from its members. The group recently unveiled the results of the survey in a story for The Lens investigative news website. On Wednesday (April 30), a meeting of business owners organized by StayLocal! will be held to discuss the street’s future.

“Magazine Street is unique and that is the key to its charm,” said StayLocal program manager Mark Strella. “If chain after chain comes in, it’s at risk of becoming like every other street in the country.”

Twenty-three locally owned businesses between the 1900 and 5800 blocks of Magazine Street were surveyed. Of those, 65 percent reported noticing “higher than normal rate of rent increases” on the street. Nearly four out of five businesses said they are worried that higher rent will hurt their economic viability, according to the survey. Nearly three out of four shops reported fearing a rent increase could force them out.

Three out of four also reported viewing national retailers as a threat to the street’s character. The same number also said something should be done to manage rent affordability.

Three out of four also reported seeing national retailers as a threat to the street’s character and said something should be done to manage rent affordability, according to the survey.

Strella said with property values on the rise, business owners began noticing rising rental rates three or four years ago, but rent in the last year or two have clearly surged. He said he hopes business owners at Wednesday’s meeting will begin a conversation on the options moving forward, whether through a government policy or a private-sector marketing and business development effort, aimed at beefing up competition against the chains.

In several places in the United States, from the increasingly pricey San Francisco to the Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, governments have implemented various rules or limits on “formula retail” — chains that use the same products and design in many locations – to protect the flavor of certain historic areas or neighborhoods.

In New Orleans, national retailers are setting up shop citywide, developments that Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration and City Council members celebrate. The new arrivals inlcude Costco, Mid-City Market with Winn-Dixie, among other chains, two additional Walmart stores, Tiffany’s jewelry and the soon-to-be open outlet mall inside a renovated Riverwalk.

A report last year by the New Orleans Business Alliance, which counts retail recruitment among its missions, found that residents spend $1.9 billion on retail goods in neighboring parishes every year, more than the $1.48 billion spent inside the city.

Strella said chain stores can have a place in the city, such as anchoring a new development. “We’re not advocating putting up walls around New Orleans and keeping chains out,” he said.

Keith Adler, a sales and leasing associate with Corporate Realty, said he works as a broker on Magazine Street, owns property there and also lives nearby. Retail rental rates on Magazine Street are range from about $20 per square foot, per year, to $35 per square foot on the major shopping blocks, nearing historic highs, he said.

“I think that Magazine Street is a microcosm and a victim of the great successes and strides that New Orleans has made since Hurricane Katrina,” Adler said. The city has a finite amount of land to build on, different from cities like Memphis or Atlanta with neighborhoods and suburbs for ongoing expansion, he said. As national retailers look to move in to New Orleans, they are searching for proven retail ground.

Meanwhile, the growing number of new residents moving to the city “are not beholden to what old New Orleans used to be and the fabric of pre-Katrina New Orleans, but what they do want to see is their favorite dress store from home,” he said. On the other hand, proliferation of national chains looking for big-box style spaces will be hindered by the older, smaller building sizes on Magazine Street, he said.

In a shifting market, he said, there will be some businesses pushed out because of higher rents. But he said he thinks there’s room for everybody.

“What is happening on Magazine Street is good for New Orleans,” Adler said. “It’s a good thing for Uptown and it’s a good thing for our national presence. … I don’t blame the mom and pop retailer for being a little scared that they can’t afford what’s coming down the pipe. Those people cannot sit on their laurels … they have got to be proactive and find those spaces they can work their business in.”

Aidan Gill, founder of Aidan Gill for Men barbershop and haberdashery, owns the building for his Magazine Street shop. The Dublin, Ireland native founded the business in 1990. He said more and more tourists are getting out of the French Quarter and visiting the city’s neighborhoods, and it’s up to businesses on Magazine Street to work hard to compete, including opening for regular hours, handling garbage properly, keeping storefronts clean and being friendly to visiting customers.

“People aren’t coming to Magazine to find the Gap and Banana Republic,” he said.

Jackson said she is grateful that monthly rents at both her coffee shop and her artists’ gallery are reasonable for the current market. She pays $1,650 at the coffee shop, up from $900 seven years ago, although that increase includes the addition of a $250 storage space. At Miette, the rent is $1,900 per month.

She said she is concerned that costs will go up and put more pressure on her operation. She focuses on supporting other local businesses by spreading the word and serving coffee roasted locally rather than serving nationally known brands. But big corporations can afford to pay the higher rents, she said.

After Hurricane Katrina, Jackson opened Mojo Coffee Shop inside a former Rue de la Course in the 1500 block of Magazine Street. For a week after opening, she couldn’t get any cups. The neighbors showed up with their own cups from home, she said.

“I wish there was something protecting small business,” Jackson said. “We all take care of each other. It’s a Southern thing. I don’t want us to lose our Southern charm, and I think small businesses help with that culture.”

Originally posted here.

May Picks!

May 2, 2014 by in Fashion Comments Off on May Picks!

For the Ladies


The Zaria Necklace by Greenola is the perfect Summer accessory! The bright hand woven design will spice up any Summer basic like the Chambray shirt!


And May wouldn’t be complete without a trip to an outdoor festival! So throw on the beautiful Penny Lane maxi dress and you are good to go!

For the Men


The Voyager shirt says it all in the name! Set off on a Summer adventure in this cool and breezy 100% cotton shirt.


Or be casual on a brunch hang out date in this perfectly soft henley!