You just never know where you'll stumble across your next craft project.

I recently found one while out shopping on Black Friday. While I had other plans in mind, my passenger insisted I stop at the home improvement store that was just a couple miles up the road. As I drove, she'd been busy perusing the store's sales paper, checkmarking items she was interested in purchasing.

After sitting in the left turn lane for what seemed an eternity, I reluctantly pulled into the busy parking lot, and after circling around several times, we finally found a vacant spot.

Aside from the crowded lot, I was reminded again that there was some serious shopping going on the moment we walked into the store and discovered there were no shopping carts available.

As the "professional shopper" I consider myself to be, I immediately turned around and followed a customer to her car where I waited as she unloaded a cart piled high with purchases. As I stood there, I was approached by two men, who each asked if I was waiting for the cart.

Once back inside the store, I noticed a lot of determined shoppers pulling over-sized plastic trash bins on wheels in place of shopping carts. Big cushy dog beds seemed quite the find for many customers -- some with as many as three piled high in the cart they were lucky to find. I also noticed three very long lines of customers that zigzagged up and down isles and departments throughout the store.

This turned into a shopping event that was even more serious than I'd imagined. I hadn't braved the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy in over 10 years, and at that moment, I was reminded why! The place was a madhouse, filled with a boat load of happy customers, and I would become one before leaving!

At that point, I figured I should make some attempt to find my shopping buddy. When we finally met up, her basket was filled to the rim. She was clearly on a mission. I, on the other hand, was struggling to find things I needed or wanted. That changed the moment I wandered into the food and snacks section, where I snatched up three 2-pound summer sausages (wish I'd gotten several more), an extra-large jar of dry-roasted peanuts, and two bags of my favorite chocolate truffles. I later added several battery-operated candles and a four-piece bath bomb set to my growing number of items.

It was then time to pick a checkout line. We followed one all the way to the back of the store to find the end. Luckily, it moved along faster than expected, and we spent the time chatting with other customers. It took about 45 minutes to reach the checkout counter, but about midway, as we stood in the area for Christmas decorations, I saw a small display of collapsible fabric-covered storage ottomans/containers sitting on the floor. I'd only seen similar ones online and on home shopping channels. "These are really nice," I thought.

I'd been in the market since last summer for a black and white storage ottoman that would work in my leopard and mud cloth themed TV nook. I figured I'd use it to prop my feet up while knitting and watching TV, and as extra storage for yarn. It could also serve as a small side table.

I envisioned the gray ottoman done over in mud cloth. It felt like it was constructed with thin plywood, so it seemed sturdy enough for what I had in mind. And because the price was right -- just under $6 -- I grabbed two of the 15-inch cubes and tossed them in my basket. I was then a happy customer!

After several hours of store-hopping, I returned home and eagerly pulled out all my black and white mud cloth, in hopes of finding a piece with a small-scale pattern that would be suitable for the size of the ottoman. Luckily, I found one, and it was just enough! I'd purchased it several years ago to wear as a wrap, so because of the width and length only a few cuts and trims were needed. And, the medium weight of the fabric added to the durability of the finished project.

Days later, armed with a small glue gun (no staple gun needed here), I began working on the project by reinforcing the two collapsible sides with a small strip of heavy denim over the top edge of the fold area to prevent it from being collapsible. 

I then glued the mud cloth to the sides, starting at one corner, which I later overlapped about an inch with raw edges of the opposite end folded under. I left about 3 inches of fabric around the top, to fold and glue to the inside.

Although the ottoman came with a thin layer of padding beneath the fabric on the lid, I wanted a more cushy feel and look, so I cut a piece of pre-quilted fabric the size of the top and attached it with glue. I then upholstered over the original fabric with the remaining mud cloth and lined the top with black cotton fabric.

After putting the ottoman together, I could see it needed a little something extra, so I purchased 2 yards of black fringe trim. I couldn't find the thick heavy fringe I had in mind, but I think it works! And best of all, I now have storage for at least 18 more skeins of yarn!

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or 

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