Mend-It Monday #23

There seem to have been rather a lot of things with holes in recently. So far I’ve managed to repair three of them. First, a fingerless mitten worn through by so many walks holding on to a dog lead. Second, yet another couple of repairs to a slipper that may be one of my most-mended possessions. And, finally, a repair of some tiny holes in a jersey fabric fitted sheet.

The mitten was mended using a Speedweve, but the slipper darns were done by hand and I think they are pretty neat. I’m hoping that the roughness of the stitching on the sheet doesn’t make it too uncomfortable, but if there is a problem, I will consider how to use a soft, thin and stretchy patch.

I still have several socks to darn too, but that’s enough for now.

Sammy – International Hound of Istry

Dogs, being pack animals, like to have a pal. So, with the loss of Sam, we have been on the look out for a new friend for Daisy. We looked online and applied for several dogs from various rescue charities, but had no luck and then, by chance, the friend who fostered Daisy before she came to us, was contacted by an acquaintance asking whether she knew anyone looking to adopt a dog. And so, two weeks ago we travelled down to The Mumbles to meet a dog called Johnny. A successful afternoon, an application and a few days wait for approval, including having to submit pictures of the garden, and the following Thursday, Mr Snail went back down to south Wales to collect our new pack member.

I couldn’t cope with the confusion of a Jon and a Johnny in the house, and anyway Mr Snail calls all his dogs Sam, so Johnny is now Sammy. A tiny bit of research reveals that Sammy is probably at least partially an Istrian short-haired hound. He’s a refugee from Bosnia, but his English is coming on nicely.

He’s very skinny, but we’ve managed to increase his weight a little in the past week, with extra-big meals, and, as you can see, he’s already settled in his crochet-lined bed, so he’s fitting in well.

ScrapHappy November 2021

The rag rug is coming on since last month, but it really isn’t interesting enough to feature on every ScrapHappy (which is supposed to inspire, not send you to sleep). However, it does produce scraps of its own – offcuts too small to use in the rug or, indeed, almost anywhere else:

Scraplets

Since I’m running short of greetings cards, I decided to use a few of these tiny scraps to experiment. I started with a small piece of an old sheet as the base and then just laid some of the tiny bits of fabric on top. Some random sewing with the machine fixed them in place and then I stitched each finished piece onto a card blank – no glue required.

Since I didn’t fix the pieces before sewing, they moved about a little, but this didn’t matter. I did discover that I needed more scraps than I originally thought because quite a bit of overlap is required to stop the base fabric showing through. Anyway, I’m content with these two as first attempts and I still have plenty fabric to make lots more and refine my technique.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folk s often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me), Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2 , Bear, Carol, Noreen, Preeti, Edith, Jule and Esther

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

RIP Sam: The First (and possibly last) Aberaeron Terrier — writinghouse

I couldn’t bring myself yo write this, so it’s over to Mr Snail…

Goodbye to our effervescent Sam who burnt bright for so long.

RIP Sam: The First (and possibly last) Aberaeron Terrier — writinghouse

Mend-It Monday #21

Today I thought I’d show off a couple of mends using my Speedweve – the heel of one sock and the ball of the foot of another. In both cases the sock was not completely worn through, but it’s always better to catch a garment before the hole has appeared than after.

For the under-foot mend I just used plain grey sock yarn, but the one on the heel has plain grey warp and patterned sock yarn weft. Next time I mend something in a more visible area I’m going to have a go at using more colours and trying to achieve a tartan effect, but there didn’t seem much point for mends that are not going to be visible.

I like the fact that the Speedweve gives a very even and smooth mend, a feature particularly important with socks, as you don’t want them to rub. As with all skills, it’s getting easier (and more even) with practice, but to be honest the Speedweve is a very well-designed gadget that is pretty simple to use one you understand the technique.

ScrapHappy October 2021

Some months ago, you may recall, I started making a rag rug. The idea is to use up all sorts of fabric scraps without having to co-ordinate colours or worry about odd shapes. Back in May I had got this far:

Progress in May

I haven’t wanted to bore you every month with a picture of progress, as it isn’t very exciting and there have been some periods when I haven’t worked on it much. However, as autumn is now upon us, I have been a bit more focused on it. As well as scraps left over from making, I’ve also started incorporating fabric from old clothes. Once I have cut useable cloths from old t-shirts, for example, there are usually some bits left over, and these are going into the rug. I’ve dismantled several garments and been able to retrieve fabric from the waistbands that has been suitable too, even it it’s a bit worn. So, this is progress so far.

As you can see, my tester seems to approve.

It is very time-consuming, but I do like the fact that fabric I would otherwise struggle to find a use for can be incorporated. It’s going to be a while before it’s finished, but, the scrap bag will certainly be much emptier once it is.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folk s often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me), Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2 , Bear, Carol, Noreen, Preeti, Edith, Jule and Esther

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

That time of year again

Every year some friends generously allow us to go and collect apples from the old trees behind their house. The trees are tall and there’s always fun and games with a long pole to knock the apples off – they are simply too high up to pick by hand. Every year I completely forget to take photographs, and 2021 is no exception. Anyway, the apples end up a little bumped, but since they are cookers and I process them quite quickly, this is not a problem. The upshot is that every year in late September or October, I end up with a big tub full of apples and several days of work to convert them into a product that will be useable through the coming year. This seasonI have decided that the majority will be stewed and bottled, plus some used for sweet hot chilli sauce. Some years I make lots of juice, but we haven’t been drinking it much lately, so that is not my current priority. Of course, the abundance means that there is lots of opportunity for apple cakes, crumbles and pies, and today we indulged and had them with waffles and cream for brunch.

This old-fashioned approach to storing the the glut and not having to rely on what’s in the shops at any given time of year feels very much like rebellion – a quiet protest against the food system that most of us find ourselves unavoidably bound to. I love the seasonality of harvesting food; I love making use of local produce and exploring inventive ways to preserve it and value it; I love a cupboard full of sealed jars, squirrelled away for use during less productive seasons; and I love the kindness of those who share their bounty freely.

Mend-It Monday #20

In a fit of exuberance yesterday, I managed to pull one of the freezer drawers out onto the floor. Fortunately I narrowly missed my toes, as its contents were rather heavy. Unfortunately, the weight resulted in the front cracking. Since it didn’t completely fall to pieces, I decided that a very simple mend was possible – duct tape to the rescue.

I was so efficient with my mend that I forgot to photograph it broken, but you can see the cracks from the inside even after the mend. If necessary, I will glue some rigid plastic inside to provide extra strength, but I am hopeful that what I have done so far will be sufficient.

It’s a quick way to mend something, but does highlight what’s possible with strong tape.

Lacking imagination

If you’ve come to read about craft projects, you might want to look away now as I’m going to have a bit of a rant…

In recent years the UK has been faced with a great deal of change. When, for example, the decision was taken for the country to leave the European Union, it was possible (not likely, given our politicians, but nevertheless, possible) to use the break to make some radical changes to our social and economic structure and improve our country. Similarly, the current threats to our environment, from pollution of all kinds and over-use of resources, call for a change to our way of thinking and could be considered to offer opportunities for change that would improve the lot of everybody whilst also protecting the earth.

I’m not surprised, however, that those in power have not seized the moment, but have chosen to hand grimly onto old paradigms that are, quite frankly, outdated and no longer fit for purpose. Just because the country has functioned on the basis of an economic model that values finance over social care, manufacturing over repair, construction over health provision, social class over skill and where you were educated over intelligence does not mean that we have to continue to do so. The book Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner* highlights the fact that much of our economic thinking is based on financially valuing what, in the 18th century, were considered (privileged) male activities and simply expecting the activities of 18th century females to simply happen with no financial recompense. In our modern world, it’s quite clear that such economics lead to all sorts of problems with supply of the people (nurses, carers, repairers, growers, nurturers) and things (nutritious food, clean air and water, soil, biodiversity) we actually need, whilst we are taught to value bankers, billionaires and acquisitiveness.

What is worse, we are brainwashed into thinking that happiness comes from things, and that if we can just own the latest technology, clothes, car or whatever, we will feel fulfilled. Modern economics demands that we buy into this (literally) otherwise the whole system will collapse. Now, I am not advocating system collapse, because when that happens the most vulnerable suffer most. But I do think that , with creative thinking and an appreciation that values other than those embedded into our economics could be our focus, perhaps we can move forward in a more equitable and sustainable way.

There is ample research, for example, on the idea of a circular economy. Currently, we have a linear economy, with extraction of resources being followed by manufacturing, consumption and, all too soon, disposal. A circular economy, in contrast, decouples economic activities from resource extraction, focusing on maintenance, reuse, refurbishment whilst minimising any materials/energy leaving the system. There is a need for skilled individuals within this system, so workers have special value too and are nurtured.

You can find out more here and here or simply search for the term online and you’ll find all sorts of examples and ideas.

Another change that we need to make is to value social care. Our local newspaper today highlighted the pressures in the area on domiciliary care staff, and this seems to be an issue country-wide. Carers have been under especial pressure during the pandemic and it is time that their role was re-evaluated. The Women’s Equality Party has been vocal on this issue, with their leader, Manu Reid highlighting the fact that “care is seen as an expense rather than a valuable investment”, going on to note that “like all forms of care – our government still relies on the fact that women will do it for little or no pay”. Continuing to regard care as a burden and not a key part of the effective functioning of the country harks back to old Adam Smith. Remember, that economics is a fiction… money only has value because we all pretend that it does; intrinsically, it doesn’t, it’s just a way of keeping score. And if we accept this, we can allocate different “scores” to different things. It’s hard to get your head around the concept, but it really is possible to have a different economic model.

Of course the problem is that our current government and politicians are so invested (literally and metaphorically) in the way things are that they are unable to see beyond it. What we need are leaders with vision, with creativity, and with the ability to educate the populace to see that the current way is not the only way. I understand that a major paradigm shift like this is difficult, but on our finite earth is is essential if we are to care for the planet and the people on it. We can all make a little difference and work towards some of the ideas introduced here, but it is those in power who have the potential to drive big changes forward. So, next time you have a chance (or make a chance) to interact with any of our elected leaders, I encourage you to raise some of these issues and see if you can’t open their eyes and spark their imagination.

-oOo-

* His mother (what a surprise)

Upgrading

Up until last week, in the whole of my life, I had only ever owned two mobile phones. The first was bought new and the other was second hand (a Nokia 3410, which originally belonged to my dad). Life has mostly kept me at home and I haven’t needed much capacity to communicate when I’m out and about (other than knowing I can call for help in an emergency). However, changes are afoot (more on this in a later post when things have progressed further) and I’m going to need to be contactable when I am not at home. So, a phone that can actually cope with voice mail, pictures and apps and a service provider that offers an affordable contract that I’m not tied into for years were required. I knew the day would come when I had to give up on my old Nokia, but I’m rather sad to say goodbye to it, particularly because of its link to my late father.

When I started to think about a new phone, I kept remembering this:

… but since I really didn’t have any phone fit for purpose, it was going to have to be a phone that somebody else had already owned. Mobile phones are challenging things environmentally, but I can live with acquiring one already in existence. The trouble is that if a smart phone is too old, it’s likely that it won’t function well because of the obsolescence that the manufacturers build in (and can be forced on the phone via its software). So I couldn’t buy a phone that was too old. In the end I chose a Samsung Galaxy 9. It’s several models down the line from the latest series, but it’s still a functional phone that can do everything (and more) that I want to do. I bought it from a company that specialises in second hand electronics and offers a 2-year warranty. It would have been nice to rehome a phone from a friend (like Mr Snail was able to do when he needed to upgrade three years ago), but enquiries did not yield anything, so the only option I felt comfortable with was buying from a reputable company.

I’m pretty sure that this new phone isn’t going to last anywhere near as long as my old Nokia (which I must have had for 12 years or more), but I will nurture it and hope that in-built obsolescence is made illegal so that it can have a long and productive life.

I realise that, because I am so reluctant to throw anything out that might be useful, I still have all three of my phones in my possession. I’m sure that, eventually, Mr Snail will find some use for components of the old ones…

All my mobile phones, ever

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