Mend it Monday #15

There’s a bit of a pile of mending building up again, including the never-ending sock darning. However, today’s mend required a bit more care than simply brandishing a darning needle.

Mr Snail has a much-loved mug that he got when he contributed to crowd-funding a stage production of Aberystwyth Mon Amour in Aberystwyth a few years back… he’s also got an original script, but it’s the mug that’s the subject of this post. Sadly, a couple of months ago, there was an incident and the handle broke. Rather than add it to the growing collection of pen pots round the house, I decided a mend might be possible. I toyed with various options, but in the end I used Gorilla Glue combined with a cloth binding. I never trust a handle that’s just been glued and, indeed my first attempt without the binding just wouldn’t hold. So, I glued the surfaces that needed to be joined, and then I glued a “bandage” of strong cotton fabric in place. Once it was completely dry, I soaked some ribbon in diluted pva glue and bound this over the cotton fabric. A little more pva to ensure that the whole thing was waterproof and it was done.

We have lots of mugs and it has to be a special one to make it worth mending, but hopefully this will now last a good few more years.

ScrapHappy October 2020

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A new arrangement

Over the past couple of months I’ve been reorganising my work room, this included moving the big table so that it is adjacent to my sewing machine. Previously it was up a corner and lots of stuff had accumulated underneath, so the move meant that many things came to light that I hadn’t seen for ages… including a stash of fabric scraps from about 25 years ago! Combined with scraps from some recent makes and some rescued fabric from worn bedding and garments, I had a good selection for this month’s projects.

First, some new face coverings. Now masks are compulsory in indoor public places in Wales, I wanted to experiment with designs that would minimise fogging of glasses. I finally settled on a pleated version that tucks nicely under the chin and has a channel along the top in which to put a wire to bend over the nose. We experimented a bit and have found that an old-fashioned pipe-cleaner (I had an ancient bundle of them) does the trick. This particular design is such that the wire can easily be removed for washing. I made us three each. The lining is from old sheets/pillowcases and the outers are from various clothes I made over the years (apart from the snails).

I’ve also wanted to experiment with making more Japanese knot bags, so I returned to my original pattern, which I followed using some scraps. Now I’ve made it again, I have decided how I’d like to modify it to improve it slightly. Anyway, my latest creation has become the home to Mr Snail’s clean masks.

And finally, I made a few more gift bags. Having decided to give up wrapping paper completely, it’s useful to have bags in a variety of sizes for gift-giving. Since some of them end up in new homes (we reuse the ones here), It’s good to replenish my stock every so often. All the fabric, binding and ribbons were scraps (and there’s plenty left!).

-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 folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

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.

Mend it Monday #14

“If you can’t fix it, you don’t really own it”

Stientje v Veldhoven, Dutch Secretary of State for the Environment

Whilst I’ve managed some fairly small mends recently, the mend I want to share today was so big that it took two of us to complete and I didn’t have the energy left to write about it. So, over to Mr Snail for all the details (prepare yourself for the puns)…

https://writinghouse.wordpress.com/2020/09/28/mend-it-monday-the-sheds-too-wet-without-roof/

Do pop over to read it, there is a picture of me brandishing a tool!

A fruity post

Over the years I have become fastidious about bottling fruit, so that I have a supply all year round with which to make desserts and breakfasts. It all started with apples given to me by friends and family. With limited space in the freezer, I learned how to preserve the (free) bounty in jars. I progressed on to bought fruit – pineapple, peaches, nectarines, plums… available cheaply and in abundance for limited times of the year.

This year, however, we’ve tried to minimise our travelling (for quite some time we were only allowed to go out for essentials and then ideally only distances less than 5 miles) and so there were few opportunities to acquire exotic fruits (the place we get them from is local for a rural area but many more than five miles away). It’s probably been a good thing, though, because it has encouraged me to use what’s on the doorstep. So this year the jars are once more filled with apples, but there are also red currants (it was a spectacular year for them) and rhubarb. There are still some jars of plums and pineapple, but most of the produce came from our garden or the gardens of friends. I’m currently still working on the 2020 apple harvest and have yet to juice any of them, but the cupboard is looking nice and full, and it will certainly see us through many more months with relatively few food miles.

A little bit more ScrapHappy

Because I haven’t been writing very often, I have rather a lot of projects to share. I know that I’m likely to finish some more ScrapHappy things before October, so rather than end up with a queue of posts, I thought I’d share this now…

One of the projects at the Crochet Sanctuary last year was a cotton rug in a kit from Hoooked. The company produce yarn from recycled or reused materials, in this case Zpagetti – a “t-shirt yarn” made from selvedges and remnants. So, whilst the yarn was new to me, it was definitely scrappy. I managed to complete about half of the project during the sanctuary weekend, but it was then put to one side and I never got round to finishing it… until now.

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Zpagetti rug

I should note that the kits contain just one colour, but we did some swapsies during the sanctuary, and so I had a ball of dark blue for the edging.

Once the rug was completed, there was a bit of the yarn left over, so I made a doubly scrappy storage basket – perhaps I should use it to store even more scraps.

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A scrappy storage basket

ScrapHappy September 2020

The past month has been very ScrapHappy – I resurrected a cushion cover, the zip of which Sam had decided would make an exciting chew toy. I removed the zip, then didn’t worry about an inner case, but simply stuffed the canvas cover with a combination of Woolcool insulation, tiny bits of left-over fabric and yarn ends that were too small to tie together to make scrappy hats. There’s no point in making any furnishings with zips because of Sam’s predilection for them, so I simply stitched it closed and now we have an extra sofa cushion.

Sam not eating the cushion this time

I came across some red yarn that might be pure cotton or might be cotton and bamboo. It was a bit of a ball and I have no recollection what I used it for originally. Anyway, I used it to add to my ever-growing wash cloth collection. I like making these because I can play with different stitches and it doesn’t really matter how successful the design actually is. As you can see, I only had enough for a small cloth with the last of the yarn, even combined with a final scrap of some of the organic cotton that I’d been using for the same thing earlier in the year.

Three new cloths

My final project was a mend, but using a scrap (as is so often the case). Daisy’s harness is attached to her lead via a metal ring that slides along the “handle”. After two years, the fabric had started to wear, so I rummaged around and found a length of (nylon?) ribbon off a chocolate box and used that as binding. I wrapped it around and stitched it, then wrapped it around and stitched it for a second time, so hopefully it’s strong and secure and won’t need mending for another couple of years. The harness is perfect for an enthusiastic spaniel and they are quite expense to replace, so I’m pleased to have been able to mend it… especially since it was a scrappy mend.

So, that’s three different ScrapHappies for this month. How about you?

-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 folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

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.

Dressy

I may not have been writing much, but I have been sewing. The plan to update my wardrobe is going well, and I have chosen to work as far as possible in natural fibres. I’ve made two dresses using a pattern from Anna Allen (the Demeter Dress), the first in a cotton and linen mix and the second in a wonderful bright pink linen. Both dresses are lovely to wear, especially in hot weather, and were simple to make, with brilliant instructions to follow.

After these, I decided to use a fabric remnant that I acquired last year. I modified the pattern that I made up in MayThe Avid Seamstress’ Raglan Dress – making the neckline a little lower and the skirt part a little more flared. This also gave me the opportunity to test out my new “invisible zipper” foot for my sewing machine, which turned out to be a dream to use and did indeed make the zip nearly invisible. This time I made the dress with short rather than 3/4 sleeves, because that was all the fabric I had available.

Now I’m on a roll with my dress-making, I plan to make several more, including some for winter and I have a few new patterns to try out. I have two more pieces of linen, some wool/viscose jersey and a number of pure wool fabrics (more on these in a forthcoming post), as well as some silk, so I have plenty to keep me busy for a while yet.

ScrapHappy August 2020

Sam the dog likes to wear pyjamas. Well, actually, what I mean is that she sleeps better when she is wearing a dog coat. We thought that this was because she was getting cold overnight – she’s an old lady at around 15 years – but even on warm night she seems to like to wear something. Maybe it’s the slight pressure calming her down, like a Thundershirt, but whatever the reason, she doesn’t wake us up at 2am if she’s dressed. She has a couple of woolly coats, which are fine for the winter, but we were concerned that over the summer these would be too warm and so I have been looking at different options. Then, Mr Snail finally wore a pair of his sweatpants so thin that they were impossible to repair and I saw a scrappy opportunity. A bit of deft scissor work and Sam has two lovely soft cotton coats…

Since the pictures were taken, I’ve overlocked the edges to add a bit of strength. She seems happy with the outcome..

-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 folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

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.

I want to tell you a story

Recently, there has been a fashion on social media to ask friends to post pictures without words… usually something along the lines of

“I have been challenged to post one picture of every day for seven days of my *** – no words, no explanations, just pictures. Now I challenge Friend X to do the same”.

Where *** is life/favourite books/pets/influential LPs/black and white photos/most awesome cheese or whatever.

Now, I know that they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I disagree. Pictures are great – I always include at least one in my blog posts because they catch the attention and can get across a quick message or illustrate something that’s difficult to describe. But they don’t necessarily get to the heart of the matter. If you post a picture of an influential LP, I always wonder why – was it a particular song? the fact that it represents the sound track to an important era in your life? that you love the artwork on the cover? that you know the musician? And, honestly, I find what you have to say about it much more meaningful than simply seeing a picture.

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A story-telling snail… but unless I explain, you won’t know why

Stories are important. Humans have been telling each other stories for thousands of years – long before we wrote things down. By listening to stories we learn, we develop empathy, we are moved… and we remember. It’s much easier to recall a story than a list of dry facts – and the story may contain all those facts, as well as presenting them in a context that enables understanding. When I was teaching, I often embedded the information I wanted to get across in stories… indeed the Snail of Happiness was born to assist with story-telling in a teaching context.

Our history – personal and on a wider scale – is a series of stories… the word is embedded right there. We can all tell the story of an event and every single person will tell it slightly differently. Your truth is not my truth, and that’s why it is important to listen to each other. And that’s why one person’s hero can be another person’s villain – and generally it’s the winners who get to write the story of what happened (and erect the statues). I think it’s very important to remember this and to understand that the truth depends very much on the story-teller. This link is really worth following for a sensible perspective on the truth of history.

So, next time someone suggests that you post a picture without an explanation – resist! Yes, post the picture, but tell your friends why. Share your history, because unless you do, someone else might write it for you.

-oOo-

I was inspired to write this post by my friend Chiqui – thank you Chiqui, I enjoyed your pictures with explanations so much more than all those without context.

 

A Dorset adventure

Actually, despite travel restrictions being eased, I am staying firmly at home, with any visits restricted to friends in the area. So, what have I been doing in Dorset? Well, nothing, actually, but I have made some of their buttons…

Dorset buttons are something that I’ve wanted to have a go at making for ages, so when I saw kits for sale I thought that would provide me with an ideal introduction. Making these buttons dates back to the early 1600s, and at its height their production constituted a cottage industry in Dorset, employing over 4000 people. When the technology was developed to make buttons by machine, the Dorset button industry was destroyed and the skill all but disappeared. However, it was not entirely lost.

Dorset buttons are made by weaving/stitching yarn onto ring. You begin by blanket-stitching around a metal ring, then make “spokes” across it before weaving your yarn in a spiral around these spokes. By back-stitching and stretching the yarn across more than one spoke, it’s possible to create all sorts of different patterns, like these :

These are my first attempts, and I’m rather pleased with how they came out. Never again will I be disappointed because I can’t find buttons to match an item I’ve knitted or crocheted.

The company I got my kit from is called Beaker Button. They make lovely kits including hand-dyed yarn, all packaged in reusable bags and with no plastic. IMGP8317

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