Christmas Valley resident Mary Russell has been crocheting since she was six years old. Russell has turned that skill into a sustainable art by repurposing everything from audio tape to baling twine into useful and decorative household items using her crocheting and sewing skills.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years in Christmas Valley (CV)” said Russell, “but not many people know exactly what I do – using discarded materials to make new useful items. Repurposing material(s) is a process. I named my business Creations at Wayout Ranch because my home is way-outside of town.”
What Russell does is far more than unwinding a skein and working fiber with her crochet hook and sewing machine.
“There is a lot of work involved in getting the material into a workable condition,” explained Russell. “I make a lot of things out of baling twine – some used and some discarded. The process for repurposing baling twine is to eliminate the knots and then I use a lighter to burn then ends to prevent unraveling.”
As an example of her ambition to repurpose, Russell once walked an entire hay field to retrieve baling twine that had come off the baler as it moved around the field. More recently she was given “quite a pile” of one-ton seed bags which she will take apart and transform into several tote bags.
Learning crochet from her mother and grandmother at the age of six, Russell made her first area rug out of plastic grocery bags when she was 12. “I’d run out of yarn and couldn’t talk my grandmother out of any more yarn,” recounted Russell who has also made a small area rug out of VHS tape.
Always thinking of new ways to repurpose and designs for those items she makes with her crochet hooks, the crafter researches designs on the internet and in magazines. Using a variety of different colored baling twine; blues, greens, white, and pink her designs range from whimsical to abstract. Her creations range from baby slippers made from yarn to area rugs made from baling twine and mop heads. Smaller items are crocheted with a size 14 and the area rugs are made with a size Q she believes was made in the 70’s. “The hard rubber Q hook is just right for using without putting a lot of strain on my hands,” said Russell.
Her products can be found on her Facebook page Creations at Wayout Ranch. The web page has also become a market-place general items for sale by other residents of the North Lake communities. Russell shifts gears from arts and crafts during the winter to pest control during the warmer weather trapping small animals that interfere with local hay growing and gardening.