Mar 11, 2013

Recycling containers with crochet


This is a post that has been lurking unfinished in my drafts for YEARS!!! How bad is that! The first one of these I made was I think in 2008 maybe. I've made loads since then, for halloween trick or treat pots, for Easter egg hunt baskets, and just randomly to store things like bits of polly pockets, or pens, or any one of the zillions of odd little collections that the kids have. For a while we had one that contained sparkly bits of asphalt?! I always liked the glass jars with crochet over them thing, but everyone would end up in the ER if I made those and left them around the house. The ones above are made from an old plastic mayo jar and an old plastic cordial bottle, and that way the kids can swing them around their heads and bash them on the floor and no one's going to require stitches. The mayo jar one is my favourite, and it's been used so much. Right now it's full of crayons (you can see Del using it in the background of this pic from the dragon mask post)
You can even make them really small if you have something like a dremel to drill little holes into a travel sized shampoo bottle, and a teensy crochet hook and thread. Very useful for collecting random small objects as my children are wont to do.
This one was for Ffion to use as a trick or treat pot. It was made from an old protein shake plastic jar that a friend gave us.

Anyway, I've been wanting to show you how I make these for ages, because they are really useful for a number of reasons.
  1. the kids can see what is in them (if you use clear plastic jars or bottles to make them), and can root around for stuff without having to tip it all out.
  2. They hang up places, or can be carried around easily.
  3. They are pretty easy to make (very basic crochet stitches) and are really cheap as they are made from old plastic bottles and jars.
  4. They are virtually indestructible. We've not had to throw a single one out due to breakage yet, despite them being dropped all over the place and flung around.
  5. I think they look pretty, given that they are made from trash, especially if the kids decorate them with stickers or sharpie pens.
  6. Because the crochet narrows the opening to the basket, generally if you drop it, whatever is in it doesn't come spilling out all over the floor.
Here's one that I made from a yoghurt pot for Del to egg hunt with last Easter. She was only nine moths old, so she really enjoyed taking the eggs out of it and putting them back in again.

Given all that, and the fact that Easter is around the corner and a few of you that can crochet might want to make kid's Easter baskets with this technique, here's how I make 'em...

You'll need a plastic container, so go rummage around in your recycling. It doesn't have to be transparent, but the plastic does have to be reasonably flexible if you are going to punch through it with a regular hole puncher. If you have something like a Dremel that you can use to drill holes then you don't have to limited by that. You do need to make sure that your crochet hook can fit through the holes you drill though! I've happily used a hand punch on all the baskets that are shown here (except the tiny necklace one) The easiest to punch through was the yoghurt pot.

If you've got a container with labels on then weight it down in some water to soak them and make them easier to peel off.

It's handy to note that if you have a container that has printing on it that you want to get rid of first, then giving it a scrub with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser or similar product will take off the printing (on a transparent plastic it will make it translucent though) here's the yoghurt pot with some of the printing scrubbed off.
 Sometimes a container will have a thicker rim that you need to cut off to be able to punch around the top. You can see below that I cut off the rim of the yoghurt pot with a pair of kitchen scissors before punching the holes.
Here you can see that I also cut off the top part of the protein shake container before punching the holes into it.
The littlest one was made from a travel sized shampoo bottle that I cut the top off and used a small drill bit to put the holes in it.
To do the crochet part you can use whatever yarn you like. Chances are if it's going to be dragged around by children you won't want to use white cashmere, but anything will do really. I've used various coloured cheap acrylic scraps for mine. The tiny one was cotton fine crochet thread though. The basic method to start these off is to treat the row of holes as though it is a row of stitches and just crochet into them all the way around the container. I start off with a single crochet into each hole by pulling through the yarn like this to make a second loop on your hook.
and then making a single crochet stitch with it by hooking the yarn over the top of the rim and through the two loops on the hook, like this.
If you keep going round the whole container like that, then you'll end up with a nice base to then crochet further rounds of stitches into.
Here you can see the base round crocheted onto the protein shake bottle in pink yarn. I joined the round with a slip stitch and chained one before starting the next round.

From here on out you can just wing it really to get the shape you want from your basket top. Each basket I've made has been different and I kind of like the "make it up as you go" way that these come together. With this one it looks like i made two single crochet stitches into each of the base round stitches, but generally if you do just one stitch into each of the base round stitches then the top will start to pull in like the style of the larger ones I've posted pictures of in this thread.
To make the handles for most of these baskets, I started a round and then made a length of chain stitches the size of the handle I wanted and then joined it again to the round with a single crochet stitch, carrying on around with single crochet stitches and then doing the same thing on the other side for the second handle. Then I just continued to do single crochets into each stitch of the much larger round that now included the handles. A couple of rounds of stitches is enough to make the handles really quite sturdy, but you can see that with Del's little purple easter basket I didn't even bother with that and just left the handles as a single row of chain stitch.
The teensy necklace one just has one big loop of chain stitch for it's handle too.
Once you're done with the crochet (which doesn't take that long unless you make really big handles or something) the kids can decorate their baskets with stickers or sharpie pens.

I need to find more little plastic bottles, because they all want one of the little necklace versions now!

56 comments:

  1. You are brilliant woman! Truly brilliant!!

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  2. I've been following you for a few years now and your ingenuity is amazing. These are amazing, you are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing this and your awesomeness!!!

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  3. Brilliant! Thanks to you I have a new use for all my saved jars!

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  4. You are so clever! I love these. :)
    ~Alicia

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  5. I so love the look of these, and the recycling aspect. It would make a fun gift container as well! Thank you for this idea!

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  6. that is SUCH a fantastic idea!! i wish i knew how to crochet. i just started learning, but gave up pretty quickly because i just couldn't figure it out from youtube videos. :( but thank you for sharing!! :) lisa

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  7. Wow.....these are lovely. Awesome idea....

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  8. I thought I commented on this yesterday but I must not have... I absolutely LOVE this idea! I favorited this page and will be coming back to it again often. Thank you for the inspiration!!

    www.mrsdixxxon.blogspot.com

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  9. Such a FAB idea... love the handles... We used to do a similar thing with ice-cream containers years ago... just crochet them up straight then add two crocheted cords to pull them in... each new project would go into one of these containers... they were just so useful too... Great to see the idea revamped... <3 Bethel

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  10. This is amazing, thank you so much for shareing.

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  11. Cool!!! Such a simple and necessary idea!!!

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  12. orror8rvAfter all the great comments, it isn't needed to say how brilliant you are again, but this really is brilliant. My college age daughter really has become a very green spirit. She really is concerned with the waste in our house. I can make these for the kids I nanny for. She will be so proud of me. Thank you.

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  13. This is fabulous!! I'll make some, too! Thank you for sharing, you are such a creative person!

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  14. I remember my aunt doing this with a margarine tub. She used to use it for her bingo markers!

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  15. Merci beaucoup,
    je vais le proposer à un groupe de femmes dans un Centre Social à Paris (France),
    bonjour de la Tour Eiffel,
    Mohair

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  16. c'est une trop bonne idée!!! merci de la partager avec nous!!!!
    Je vous regarder dans mon panier de recyclage et commencer tout de suite!!!

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  17. this is brilliant - thank you so much for sharing and giving such clear instructions. I have no children but will enjoy making and using these for all those little oddments which get lost in the back of drawers - elastic bands, pencils etc. - as well as sewing notions. I also think that they would be great for stopping balls of yarn from ruunning away while knitting.

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  18. This is so cool. OMG!! I just luv it!! I would really walk around six flags with my zip lock bag in my waterproof bag and see all my things. I'll just add a drawstring around the top. I'm gonna make this too. ty.

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  19. Fabulous idea! I've done the same thing with the holes to attach kid's drawings to the inside to make gift baskets, and now thrilled for this idea which I'll use with large bleach containers, can't wait! Thanks so much for sharing, I'll be sure to link to you as the source for this idea!

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  20. Great idea. Thanks for sharing. Its gorgeous. I'll give it a try for sure.

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  21. This is a fantastic idea! Can't wait to make this!

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  22. Its 3am and I'm digging through the recycling bin. Lol

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  23. You are beyond brilliant, why dont you have your own tv program????

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  24. Oh my gosh love this! I crochet all the time and just taught my third grade daughter a few stitches. She has to do a "trash-to-treasure" project for school and this is perfect! She can even do the crocheting herself since its fast and easy. Thanks so much for sharing this idea!

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  25. My mom years ago made carriers from old bleach bottles with the top cut off, but it was made with denium or some heavy fabric and for the life of me I dont remember how she attached the fabric now it has been 40 years. However crocheting would have been great if she had thought of it.

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  26. Catherine edwardsApril 22, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    You are brilliant to come up with this great idea. I am going to make loads of these for all my pals in the uk. I am going to make a large one out of a water bottle so my husband can store his golf balls. My daughters can have one each to store their rollers for their hair. A great light weight,see through invention which every household needs Bravo.
    A happy Scarlett's Knitting Nanny.

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  27. So I'm jumping on this bandwagon and confirming what the others have said... this is pretty brilliant way to use up some extra containers

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  28. very nice...i remember going though some of my aunts old things and finding one that she made in home-ec years ago. have you thought of using pill bottles? you could put in a little animal or things and then glue the lid back on and brill holes around the side of the bottle.

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  29. Very useful idea Thanks!

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  30. What a cute idea! I've got clear peanut butter jars that would work well for this...

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  31. This is really a great. I 'm going to make some for my great grandaughters!

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  32. I've been saving a variety of recycled containers until I can do something colorful, and maybe tacky with them. Sounds like fun.

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  33. I try to find the larger bathroom lid covers and the stores only offer the standard sized ones. I bought a rug and matching lid cover in the color I wanted. The lid cover has enough fabric to cover the top. Now I'd like to figure out a way to use that same crochet adaptation for the underside to hold it on and still be attractive and comfortable when you lean back. I guess I could punch holes around the edge and stitch it up like lacing up tennis shoes, but crocheting offers more, doesn't it?

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  34. These are amazing! All my grandkids want the necklace one! I'll be very busy now!

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  35. Wow you are a total genius! Love this so much :) will need to blog this on strawberry anarchy.

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  36. good idea !!! love it.. thank you ;)

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  37. You may not believe this, but I did the same thing that you have done here, with a clorox bottle, back in the 60's when I was in high school. The plastic was way thicker then, so I had to use our rounded knife sharpener and heat the end of it up over the gas stove and burn each hole through. Long process. My mom used my first one to hang on the bathroom door and she put her hair rollers in it. I guess that I have always looked at items with a "what can I do with this", eye.

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  38. this is a lovely idea!
    and you have beautiful children.. =)

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  39. This is great! I've been thinking what to do with my smallest acrylic yarns. Now, u inspired me to do it with my recycling bottles/tubs or whatever i can find. Now my son wants me to do 1 for him. We enjoyed it!

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  40. une belle interprétation, pour recycler de simples objets bravo j' adore allez je vais faire le serail crocheteuse d' isabelle a bientôt biz

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  41. c' est fais je me suis servie de ton idée et j' ai fais une jolie réalisation tu peux voir sur mon bloghttp://www.dane-et-le-crochet.fr/?post/2013/06/27/The-Serial-Crocheteuses-n%C2%B0175
    j' ai mis un lien vers ton blog a bientôt

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  42. this is such an amazing ideal, thanks for sharing your creativity :)

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  43. I was given one of these made from a bleach bottle from my dads girlfriend over 40 years ago. I hated it then and thought it was ugly because of who gave it to me im sure. Now I think they are sweet and I love the recycle factor.

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  44. What can I say?
    Thank you so much for sharing this brilliant idea! My 4 year old boy and his 15 months old sister really love their crochet jars. And I love to make them as it only thakes some minutes.
    Kind regards from Munich, Germany.
    Nadine

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  45. I am smiling ear to ear... My grandma made us these one year for Christmas I would guess 40+ years ago. Great to see them again!!

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  46. You can get the printing off of plastic containers very easily with nail polish remover.

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  47. You can use nail polish remover to get the ink off most plastic containers.

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  48. I'm 72 and just learning to crochet... I LOVE these ideas! Thank you so much for sharing. God bless!

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  49. So so love this simple idea. Thanks for sharing <3

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  50. My aunt used to do this with the bottom of a dishwashing detergent bottle. The crocheted part closed with a drawstring. It could be flipped back over the plastic container, and a small hood would come out of the inside of the bottom to create a bassinet for my little Kittle dolls. I have looked for patterns for this for years, and cannot find one.

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  51. I just adore the necklace idea! I have the large container and am going to try making one tomorrow! You did a fantastic job with yours!

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  52. Thank you for this idea irresistible!
    I left all my work back to work on this project, and now I can not wait to finish it o)

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  53. You inspired me to make one of these to carry - my crochet! I used a straight-sided soft drink bottle, and after a couple of rounds, made a long handle in foundation chain. I put my yarn in it, and I can now crochet standing up on the train, because it hangs so neatly over my left shoulder. Thank you for your clear instructions and photos.
    Cheers, Tas

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  54. So cool! These are perfect for all the craft bits lying around from beading, crochet, doll making- keeps all the bits away from the cat! These are so handy for general organization- what a smart lady you are!

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  55. Love it..
    everything comes back. my mom was crocheting these in the late 60's & 70's.
    her fave was a dish soap bottle about 3 inches high.. she'd put a pillow & blanket in with a tiny doll & crochet the top to look like a pram.. :-) so cute.
    thanks for reminding me !!

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