Whether you are a fellow fiber artist, enthusiast or just an admirer, walk along and talk with me on my journey.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tale of the tobacco twine bath mat.

Once upon a time, I made custom order bath mats made of tobacco twine.  I sold them on Etsy and had quite a bit of business generated from them.  The bath mat business was good.  Then one day, a customer ordered a very odd and specifically sized bath mat. The customer wanted the width to be within a half inch.  This is difficult to do with such large yarn.  But I did it.  They also wanted it to be quite long.  In my opinion, this was no longer a bath mat, but a runner or a rug.   I made the mat and sent it off to the customer.  A few days later, I was contacted and told the mat/runner was the wrong size.  I let her know I would do whatever it took to make her happy with her purchase. The mat was sent back and remade and returned to her at no cost-to her.  Before mailing it, I measured and photographed it on a freshly washed floor...

 I did learn something valuable about my mats in this process.  It's a crocheted item and somehow with the size of the tobacco twine, it will decrease in size from the first couple of rows to the last row.  So when I measured it after the first few rows to make certain I had the dimensions right, it wasn't.  I gladly remade this item and sent it back to her. However, I sensed a storm coming and took these photos.

A few days later, I received a message from her telling me there was animal hair on the mat and because of her allergies, she felt she had to wash it. I made a point of vacuuming and washing my floor before I put it down to be photographed.  She measured it after washing and again, noticed it was too small.  If she had laundered it according to my instructions, which I included with her sales receipt and on her mat, this wouldn't have happened.  I will make a long and frustrating story short.  Nothing I did made this person happy.  She would only be satisfied by a full refund-which she received against my wishes.  I  am still not happy with PayPal over this.

So, the mat/runner sat in my laundry in a sealed bag room for a long time.  It had an odd odor and  was slightly discolored.  I have no idea what was done to this mat, but I hardly wanted to touch it.

Months later, my sister and i discussed dyeing this rug.  I was resistant to the idea because cotton (and this very thick yarn in particular) doesn't do well when dyed.  I reluctantly agreed to give it a try.  With all the necessary dye materials in place and a large cup of motivation at hand, I began the task.

I used a largish kid pool I found on sale at the end of the Summer season.  I put it on my back deck so I could carry out buckets of hot water to dissolve the dye.  I thought this was a great idea...until I started wondering how I would drain this pool of it's dye later on.  I really didn't want dark green dye all over my deck and driveway...

So, after following all the directions from the special solution to pre-soak the item to soaking it in vinegar and salt afterwards, I was greatly disappointed in the results.

I removed the dyebath from the pool with a garden hose.  I ran the hose from the deck, down a small hill to drain.  After pinching a portion of the hose shut, I filled the remaining portion with water from a pitcher.  I then plunged the filled hose into the dyebath, released the pinched hose and the suction  did the rest of the work!  It was a proud moment.  :)  

This is the mat after dyeing it for a second time.  I made a more concentrated solution of the dye and painted it on!  It still had areas where the dye hadn't even bothered to take-and other spots, the dye actually took-twice!   More disappointment.

At this point, I wanted to set it on fire and let the ashes blow with the four winds.. But I didn't.  I thought about it at great length. I thought about the last year I had basically wasted with this ill fated bath mat.   Finally, I came up with 2 (more) possible solutions.  I could disassemble the mat and re-make it with another strand of unifying yarn.  I could also, simply make it again using only the partially dyed tobacco twine.

I consulted with my sister about our choices.  She agreed with my first solution.  As I was taking the mat apart, I saw the pile of yarn at my feet.  Oh my goodness, it was lovely!  It was a tweedy combination of the natural and green dyed yarn.  I finally loved something about this thing!   Now, I was actually excited about this project. 

I purchased a synthetic yarn to combine with the tobacco twine that would subtly pick up on the colors in my sisters kitchen.  It was such a joy seeing something so lovely come from something that, up to this point, brought me nothing but grief.
  This is the final bath/kitchen/mat/runner/rug.  I can honestly say it was an enormous pleasure to give this to my sister! 

This is almost the end of the Tale of the Tobacco Twine bath mat...

I don't do custom orders...any more...
and they lived happily ever after.


  1. I love happy endings ...

  2. And I still love that mat!! It's just as beautiful as the day it arrived and doesn't show a speck of kitchen dirt. Plus, it is soft under my feet. And of course it was made with love by my very talented sister:)

  3. ::grin:: Thank you Dee. That mat was a labor of love for you. <3


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