ScrapHappy October 2018

Several years ago I came across a maker who I greatly admired. I looked at her work and I pondered whether I could emulate it, but in the end I decided that it was beyond me and that, therefore, if I got the opportunity, I would buy one of her creations. So, unusually, this month’s ScrapHappy post features a creation that is not my own.

Fwo weeks ago I managed to get to Yarndale (more on this in a future post) and finally to see the wonderful creations of  Sue Reed, The Woolly Pedlar for real. I was so captivated, that I completely forgot to take any pictures of her stall, so it you want to see more of her work, you’ll have to follow the link. Sue uses old knitwear as the raw material to make amazing dresses, shawls, ponchos, coats, hats and more. In Sue’s own words:

I take waste knitwear and create new pieces from it, saving it from landfill. Textile waste is a huge problem, and landfill sites are full of discarded textiles that could be upcycled into new things.

And this is the poncho I bought:

One of the things I love about Sue’s creations is that she can use damaged knitwear. Elbows of a sweater worn through? No problem, just use the bits that are still intact. Moths got your cardigan? Cut out the squares from between the holes. Her eye for colour is amazing, as are her quirky designs. What an inspirational ScrapHappy business she has created.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Sanctuary

One thing leads to another…

Last autumn I decided to participate in Sewchet‘s Secret Stitching Santa – an exchange of gifts between crafty bloggers. I chose, as you will not be surprised, to get involved with the knitting/crochet version. I was allocated a person to send my gifts to and I immediately checked out as many blog posts as I could on Julia’s Creative Year. I had great fun putting together Julia’s parcel and I have continued to follow her blog. In February she wrote a post about a crochet retreat that she had attended called The Crochet Sanctuary and I immediately wanted to go. I checked out their web site and booked a place…

And so, last weekend I set off for my weekend of crochet bliss… and what a lovely weekend it was. My journey was a little more stressful than I would have liked, but the venue is promising from the moment you arrive, with a grand façade and sheep and cattle lined up at the front door:

We were greeted by Lisa and Lynda (creators of the experience) and a glass of bubbly (not standard, but compensation for weekend being in the “wrong” room). After this there was the goody bag containing the first project and introductions conducted with the aid of the Hogwarts’ sorting hat! It turns out that I am in Gryffyndor (I was really hoping for Ravenclaw)

There were happy people, cakes, sweets and hot drinks in abundance and projects aplenty… starting off with Mabel the rabbit and progressing on to hot water bottle covers (with the hot water bottle included in the goody bag), a lavender pillow and an amigurumi workshop with Heather Gibbs of Keep Calm and Crochet On UK, with whom we made Relaxing Ralph (a laid-back amigurumi kitty).

Although I probably wouldn’t have chosen any of the projects if I had been sitting at home, it was inspiring to have a go at some different things and use some different yarns. The atmosphere of the weekend is lovely – an abundance of friendship, laughter, food, drink and yarn. There’s someone on hand to help if you get stuck with your crochet and all the materials and equipment are provided. But perhaps the most valuable thing is time: it’s so rare to be able to dedicate a whole weekend to creativity.

You will know how much I enjoyed it, when I tell you I have booked to go again next year.

ScrapHappy September 2018

You may remember Sophie… which took up quite a bit of my time last year:

I bought new wool to make her, but there was rather a lot left over: perfect for a ScrapHappy project. So, with Mr Snail living away from home during the week (more on that in a future post) and him commenting that the flat he’s renting doesn’t entirely feel like home, I decided that a snuggly sofa blanket was needed. It’s not finished yet, but this is progress so far.

As well as the left-overs from Sophie there are a few balls from my stash. It’s all wool (with the exception of a tiny bit of silk in on blend) and almost all British; any that isn’t is old balls that I have no idea anymore of the origin. I’m planning to work on it until I have used up as much of the wool as possible and then edge it in the cream wool (Cambrian Mountains), of which I have quite a lot left on the cone I bought to make Sophie.

I think it will make Mr Snail’s flat feel a bit more like home and keep him warm on those cold winter nights… if I can just get it finished!

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three Rs

I’m taking a little time off from paid work to get some things sorted out around the house. Originally I planned to do some decorating this week, but somehow I got diverted and the week ended up being all about the three Rs: Repair. Repair, Repair! Yes, I know it’s usually Repair, Reuse, Recycle, but there was so much of the first that it seems worth repeating.

I reattached the rufflette tape to the heavy curtain over the front door, darned two pairs of crochet slippers (one of which I had nearly convinced myself to throw away, but which turned out to be repairable), sewed a button onto some trousers, repaired a hole in a dress, made a new waist band for a pair of leggings and mended a cap that the dog had chewed.

Several of these jobs turned out to be quite time-consuming, but in all cases I’m happy with the results and the work extends the life of all the items involved. Plus, the curtain should be more efficient at keeping the heat in now it hangs properly.

I often collect repairs and then can’t summon up the energy to do them, but this week the motivation was there and I think that I have now worked my way through all of my mending pile. Maybe I will do some decorating next week… maybe…

Shame

It seems to me that large manufacturers and retailers are genuinely out of touch with the public. As environmental awareness increases and there are more and more demands for reductions in packaging, ditching unnecessary single-use containers and abandoning built-in obsolescence, it’s time that big corporations made some changes. Now I know that it takes dinosaurs a long time to respond, but I can’t help feeling that some of the reluctance to change is because it’s simply easier not to. However, it is not impossible – specifications can be amended, processes can be modified, expectations can be altered. Making the excuse that it’s because of economics just does not wash (economics are a fiction – plastic in the sea killing marine life is a reality).

So, I have decided that I will take action. I already vote with my money, but that’s a rather private action and, whilst it is important, is not going to make a huge difference in isolation. I am, therefore, taking to social media with direct, public messages to companies that I have issues with. Today, via Twitter, I targeted Seasalt, who make lovely organic clothes, claim to be environmentally responsible and pack all their goods in plastic.2018-08-21 (2)They did respond, which is at least something, but obviously it’s easier to blame someone else:2018-08-21 (3)

They haven’t responded further, but I hope that other people will join in and we might be able to persuade them to make the change.

I would like to think that shaming companies publicly might have some effect, because after all social media is a key part of their marketing strategy. Perhaps you’d like to join me? Do tell me about any companies that you have contacted and how they have responded. Perhaps we can support each other and make our ripples into waves.

ScrapHappy August 2018

For some time now, I have been collecting old t-shirts. I would really like to do something with the designs on them because so many of them are associated with special places and memories. However, that still leaves rather a lot of fabric available for other projects. So, this month I thought I would have a go at making some “yarn”. Helped by Sam and Daisy (the speedy spaniel), I cut up the bottom parts of a few old t-shirts into long strips:

There are lots of instructions for doing this on the internet, so I won’t bore you with the details. None of them, however, cover working around canine friends, but I think I managed to avoid any loss of whiskers or tail hair. I decided to start with something simple: a round rug. The joy of this is that I can just keep working round and round until I run out of t-shirts (or possibly patience). I have learned not to cut the strips too wide as it makes it very hard to work with (the white was a bit too thick for comfort).

As you can see from the latest picture, it’s currently about 14 inches across and that has used up all the yarn that I made from three large t-shirts. As a truly scrappy project, I am just going to make use of all the colours that I have, so it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing creation, but it is becoming a lovely thick mat and should provide good insulation on a cold floor, plus it feels like a very positive use of fabric that would been of little use for anything else (I really have enough dusters and cleaning cloths for now).

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knit, Purl, Save the World

The other day I was browsing the local library and came across this bookIMGP5890so I couldn’t resist taking it out to peruse thoroughly at home. I love the idea of the book:

A sustainable approach to knitting and crochet that benefits the planet AND your creativity

The book takes a pattern-by-pattern approach, using a different “eco-friendly” fibre for each – alpaca, soysilk, locally produced cashmere, camel, bamboo, jute and so on. Some of the pros, cons and eco-credentials of each fibre are discussed and some of the patterns use scrap yarn or yarn made from recycled/repurposed materials. There’s also a two-page spread entitled Community Awareness: Global Efforts to Live, Create, Employ, and Sustain Via Yarn Crafts which describes projects in various countries that use knitting, crochet or fibre production as the basis for community development and economic independence.

But I’m sorry to say that I was a little disappointed with it overall. The organisation means that the patterns rather than the fibres take centre-stage and there is no handy way to browse the types of yarns and compare their characteristics and credentials. I’m rather saddened that the research that the authors clearly did to find out about the yarns they use was not presented in a more accessible and thorough way. Space is dedicated to basic knitting and crochet techniques, which are easy to find in a multitude of books, rather than to the really interesting, unique stuff. I don’t need another book of patterns, but I would have loved a book comprehensively discussing the merits (environmental and otherwise) of different yarns and fibres, so I’m glad I got it out of the library rather than bought it.

Ah well, I guess that I’ll just have to write the book I want myself. I’ll add it to the list.

Knit, Purl, Save the World by Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong, ISBN 0715336347

Foxy Roxy and the rainbows

Not long after we lost Max the friend who was so supportive over that time also lost one of her dogs. Roxy was a Vizla who, like Max, far outlasted her prognosis. Even so, her death was a blow and she will be much missed.

You may remember the beautiful light catcher that Pauline made for me in memory of Max (who looked rather like her dog Siddy) and how touched I was by it. It continues to bring me rainbows and to provide a beautiful reminder of my much-missed pal. I thought, therefore, that it would be lovely to be able to give my friend a Roxy memorial light catcher and so I asked Pauline if she could oblige. I sent her this photo, showing Roxy in her favourite fleecy ‘pyjamas’, and asked if the light catcher could be made in these colours:

roxy copyright

Roxy in her ‘pyjamas’

And what a marvellous creation arrived through the post. The colours look a bit washed out because it’s just so darned sunny here at the moment, but they are really evocative of the original.

So, if you are looking for a special memento, or just a beautiful decoration for your house, do check out Pauline’s creations here.

I’m dubious about the idea of ‘shrines’ to loved ones, but I am very taken with the idea of capturing happy memories, and the light catchers seem to do this perfectly – the rainbows they create capture the ephemeral nature of life and it’s associated beauty. Grief and loss are so very difficult the deal with, and finding ways of moving on from the gaping hole and remembering the good times are really important if we are to lead full lives. Incidentally, I was much inspired by the animated film Coco in addressing ideas surrounding death and loss – I highly recommend, whatever your age (don’t be fooled – it isn’t a typical Disney film and the trailer doesn’t do it justice).

Just a word of warning – if you do commission Pauline to make a memorial light catcher, be prepared for floods of tears from the recipient.

 

ScrapHappy July 2018

One of our regular Knit Nighters has moved away and so we will only be seeing her when she comes up for an occasional visit. Before she left, however, she witnessed the creation of the alpacadillo and she was besotted. I didn’t have time to make her one of her own before she left, so this little chap will have to go in the post:

His head, body, limbs and tail are made from the remains of a ball of wool from Sophie, but I can’t remember what the shell is an oddment from… anyway, it was lurking in a basket of small left-over balls, so I clearly made something out of it at some time (I do know it’s one of the last remaining bits from the sadly missed company Colinette). This critter is 100% wool, so not an alpacadillo, but a scrapadillo, I think. It’s going to live in Swindon.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month… do check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trouble with water

Here in Wales we’re having a bit of a drought… it’s hardly rained for weeks and the water butts Chez Snail are sadly depleted. This is a bit of an issue because we try to avoid flushing the toilet with mains water – instead using rainwater that we have collected from the roof of the house and shed. As the water butts have gradually emptied, we have started using ‘grey’ water: saving the water when we shower for use in the toilet, for example. We’ve also been tipping water from washing up and washing onto the plants in the garden (in both pots and the ground) and trying to make use of any other collected water, like when the  hot water tank started overflowing because the arm of the ballcock had warped (now mended).

So, when I get home from swimming, I put my swimming costume and my goggles into a bucket of cold water to rinse away the chlorine, and then I use the water in the garden (assuming that it’s so dilute by then that it will do no harm). And this is where the ‘trouble’ originated.

This morning I simply could not find my swimming goggles. I usually leave them on the table in the kitchen to dry and then put them back in my swimming bag ready for my next session. But this morning they were nowhere to be seen. Where had I put them? Had I left them at the pool? Now, I know that you can see exactly where this is going, but at 6:30 this morning I was completely bewildered. I hunted around the house to no avail, and I asked at the pool, where they have a box of abandoned goggles… none of which turned out to be mine. The lovely staff offered to lend me some, but I had my old ones and so although my swim was a bit blurry (unlike the new ones, my old ones do not have prescription lenses), I was fine. As I swam up and down I mulled over what I could possibly have done with my goggles… and the light started to dawn.

On returning home, I checked the garden, and there they were in a pot with a courgette plant. Apart from a little compost and needing a rinse, they were unharmed. Needless to say this is going to cause great amusement with my fellow swimmers when I tell them on Monday. Ah well, it’s just one of the hazards of a green lifestyle.

IMGP5829

The offending goggles with my eco-friendly swimming costume (made from recycled fibres)

 

 

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