ScrapHappy August 2019

This month was another one when I finally got round to making something that I’ve had in mind for a while. Actually, the thing that was holding me back was the fact that my overlocker was not on my work table and I was too lazy to get it out for just one project. However, because there ended up being several items that I needed it for and all of them required white thread, so I had to re-thread it anyway, there was no excuse not to get on with this particular make.

Because my hair is long and I always let it dry naturally, I’m a big fan of wrapping it in a head towel after washing. I’ve only ever owned three of these – one I lost and the other two are showing signs of wear. My favourite is an organic cotton one that I’ve had for about 10 years and that I really, really wanted to clone. Being extremely reluctant to buy new, I unearthed a towel that belonged to my grandmother (she died about 25 years ago) that was a bit tatty, but still looked like it had some life in it. When it was bought is was baby pink… all these years later it’s white with a hint of pink, but that’s ok.

So, I started off by placing my head towel on the old towel and drawing around it. Them I folded the towel over and pinned the two layers together

IMGP7311

Marked up and ready to cut

Next,I cut around the shape away from the line (an overlocker trims the fabric as well as stitching it) before overlocking the two pieces together along the long curved side. Oh, and one of you might recognise that pincushion!

I overlocked the opening, all the way round, then turned a hem and stitched it using my sewing machine, inserting a loop of scrap tape that was left over from mending a baseball cap belonging to Mr Snail. Finally, I added a button from my button box (one with a shank, as I thought that would hold the loop more securely).

And there you have it…

A new head towel made entirely from bits and bobs I had hanging around the house (please excuse the poor selfies… I’m not very good at taking them and Mr Snail is away).

And the trimmings from the overlocker didn’t get thrown away… I used them to tie my chilli plants to their supports:

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

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me)Karen,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki and Sue

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.

Making, mending and modifying

I haven’t been very good at sharing my creative projects recently, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.

First, I completed the blanket for charity that used up some wool given to me specifically for such projects. It’s nice and big and it will be on its way to Knit for Peace just as soon as I can get it packed up and to the Post Office.

I’ve started work on a new project too. I wasn’t going to – the plan was to finish some of my WIPs – but a dear friend asked me to make her a hooded cardigan and since she’s been having a challenging time over the past couple of years, I didn’t want to say no. We spent a long time selecting the perfect yarn and so I’m now working with beautiful Jacob’s wool from WYS and a pattern by Hailey Bailey called The Albatross. Here’s a sneak peek:

Stripes

I also made my mum a handbag for her birthday, but I don’t think the pictures really do it justice:

Then there was the mending… new clasps on the strap of another of my mum’s handbags, repairs to two buckets (one with a broken handle and one with a hole, both mended using Sugru) and a bit of binding round the top of an old laundry basket to keep it going for a bit longer (using some salvaged ribbon from a fancy Easter egg).

And then there’s the adjustments and additions. First, a rug for Mr Snail’s rented flat that may not be colourfast (the rug not the flat). Just in case, I backed it with a piece of an old towel… we really don’t want the floors getting stained. Then letting down the hems on a pair of trousers (too boring to photograph). And finally a transformation that I’m saving for this month’s ScrapHappy.

So, what’s been keeping you busy recently?

Right on Kew

Last weekend I visited Kew gardens for the first time in over 30 years. It’s a place that I’ve been intending to return to for ages. It’s amazing, with iconic glasshouses and rare plants, as well as some artwork that I particularly wanted to see again. As an unexpected bonus, there was also an impressive exhibition of the work of Dale Chihuly, who creates huge glass sculptures, many inspired by natural forms.

It was a hot day, so spending any time in the tropical house was beyond us, but we did manage to enjoy some of the glasshouses. Mostly, however, we wandered the extensive outdoor spaces, enjoying the sculptures dotted around the garden as well as the beautiful plants.

I particularly wanted to revisit the Marianne North gallery – it’s a wonderful space, completely filled with her paintings. She paid for its construction, but was prevented from implementing her original idea that it be a tea room… such a shame because it would be a perfect place to relax with afternoon tea.

I’m not going to leave it another 30 years before going back.

Back from the brink

A couple of years ago I bought a specimen of Drosera dicotoma – it is an amazing sundew, which produces huge leaves and, therefore has the ability to catch a lot of flies:

Huge, trailing leaves

I hung it up in the limery and it did a brilliant job. However, during last winter it completely died back and I wondered whether, reluctantly, to tip the contents of the pot into the compost bin. I decided, after a little thought, to leave it and see whether any shoots might reappear – carnivorous plants do seem to have a tendency to ‘play dead’ and, whilst they don’t always come back (Venus fly traps, I’m talking about you), I have experienced several resurrections.

To begin with, it looked like this:

Apparently dead

But, with a little patience, I started to see signs of life:

Tiny shoots

It was weedy at first:

Struggling

But as the weather warmed up and the sun shone more often, it rather perked up:

More shoots

And now, although it’s nowhere near as big as it used to be, it is thriving once again:

Call me Lazarus

I have high hopes for a long and active life for this very useful plant. I really hope that it achieves its previous impressive size.

Opening up

It’s all very well to visit large estates and see amazing rolling acres, huge walled gardens and what can be done with a dozen gardeners, but inspiration is probably more likely to strike closer to home. It was lovely, therefore, to visit a couple of gardens just round the corner from us who were participating in the National Garden Scheme. I think the pictures say more than my words could:

And as a secondary source of inspiration, I discovered that Beryl (one of the owners), who I regularly have a chat with when I’m passing with the dogs,  is the most amazing needlewoman. She had some of her quilts, stumpwork and stitched pictures on display in her conservatory along with the open garden. Because I usually see her when she’s gardening, we normally talk about plants and I never knew about her sewing… learning more about your neighbours is certainly a hidden benefit of visiting their gardens.

Woolcool

IMGP7223In order to support small producers, we buy most of our meat direct, and it arrives by courier. In general, it’s packed in a cardboard box and insulated with a product called Woolcool – basically a thick layer of wool in a recyclable plastic cover. Some of this has been returned to the producers for reuse, but we have also been finding new uses for it, as encouraged by the manufacturers.

There are a couple of pieces of it in the cool bag that Mr Snail carries back and forth to Reading each week with his supplies – it provides additional insulation and stops everything rattling around and falling over. I’ve also used some as mulch in the garden. I had put one piece aside, however, for a specific project which I finally got round to this week

We have an old plastic dog bed that both dogs are rather fond of. For years it’s simply had an old blanket or duvet in it, but the current blanket is disintegrating and so it’s time for a revamp. To begin with, it needs some padding in the bottom, and this is where the wool packaging comes in. The Woolcool is a long thin strip and the bed is oval, so I had to cut the strip in two and then join the pieces side by side, but there was plenty to do this. I used a little fabric glue to hold the two bits together and then stitched them using some knitting wool. As the pad is used the wool is likely to felt, so the yarn and the fleece will probably become one. I made a cotton cover out of some more of that old sheet that featured in July’s ScrapHappy because the paw prints seemed appropriate.

The off cuts of the wool went into the compost heap because I’m very keen to see how well it breaks down, and the plastic cover went in the recycling… I wish they didn’t use this, I’d be perfectly happy with unenclosed fleece. Now all I need to do is make a new blanket… I might just have a few yarn scraps somewhere for that.

ScrapHappy July 2019

For some time now I have had it in mind to use some scrap fabric to make present bags. When Mr Snail and I give each other gifts we tend to wrap them in paper that has been reused many, many times – we never buy new wrapping paper. I have to confess that all the paper has all seen better days and it has become increasingly difficult to give a present that looks presentable. So, I had a rummage and found some nice scrap fabric left over from various sewing projects, as well as the remains of some old pyjama bottoms. I wanted to make draw-string bags, so needed lengths of ribbon and tape. Looking through my collection, I found some pieces from chocolate boxes, some quite long lengths that had been around clothes and household linen from ethical suppliers (to hold them neatly without the need for plastic), a piece that was once a curtain tab, two bits that were the hangers from the aforementioned old pyjamas and some other bits left over from long-forgotten projects. Not all the tape was long enough, but it was easily stitched together.

As I worked on the bags, I realised that I could also do with three in which to store plastic bags in the kitchen. Until the doors were replaced on the kitchen cupboards, plastic bags lived jammed into a cupboard and there was always the risk of a bagalanche when the door was opened. We reuse plastic bags, but storage has always been untidy, so three drawstring bags (one for small bags, one for medium bags and one for large bags) seemed like the answer. I made them in different colours so I would know which was which: the last of the spotty fabric from the dismantled night dress (the rest lined the scrappy satchel a while ago); a bit of an old sheet that had worn through in the centre, but has good edges left to be salvaged and has a cute paw print design; and a piece of stripy fabric that remains from a long-forgotten project. When Mr Snail saw what I was up to, he requested a bag for bags to use in his rented flat, so I made two of the stripy ones.

I’m very pleased with these scrappy creations – easy to make and all scrappy apart from the sewing thread. Even the little plastic tool I used to thread the tapes is a stirrer that came with a takeaway hot drink many years ago and has been living in my sewing box ever since, used lots of times and still going strong.

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

KateGun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan (me)Karen,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki and Sue

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.

Growing and groaning

The saga of the tooth continues – the first part of the root canal work has been completed, but it has awoken the infection and so I’m back on antibiotics. Hopefully the stuff I’m taking now will have less of an adverse effect on me than the last lot. Anyway, I have a few weeks to wait before the procedure can continue. In the mean time I’m sitting here, moaning gently and watching my garden grow….

I’ve photographed the good bits and carefully avoided the jungle elsewhere!

Going crackers

I’m rather a fan of crackers and cheese and of cheesy crackers on their own, but recently I’ve been unable to find any that didn’t give me pause. First, there were some lovely locally made crackers… they were delicious, but came with a lot of packaging. Then there were some lovely crispy treats that I bought from a farm shop in north Wales when I was on my travels… and discovered had been imported all the way from Australia (WHAT?) plus they had a lot of packaging. Then I found some different local ones, that not only had loads of packaging, but also were made with palm oil (I didn’t even buy these as I noticed before I put them in my shopping basket).

It’s just like the saga of the biscuits… the only solution is to make them myself. A quick internet search and I found a simple basic recipe (flour, salt, oil and water) that could be adapted. I made some with freshly ground black pepper and some with added cheese, and voila… plastic-free, palm oil-free, yummy crackers…

Straw poll

When I’m trying to work out what to do with stuff I no longer want there are lots of options – donations to charity, repurposing, freecycle, sale and (as we’ve discussed recently) eventually recycling. Some things, however, leave me wondering…

With the kitchen cupboard doors sorted out, I have been left with a small heap of stuff that needs to be dealt with. There’s a box for charity donations, I need to organise a storage solution for the plastic bags, there are a couple of tins that I’m dithering whether to keep or not, and then there’s the pot of plastic straws.

IMGP7134

my dilemma

Yes, I have a pot of plastic bendy straws. They are very old and have resided in the back of a cupboard for a couple of decades. I forget exactly why I bought them in the first place, but it may have been for when my dad visited – he was severely physically disabled and using a straw for drinking made his life much easier sometimes and he certainly used a few. Maybe I bought them for a party, or for the nieces and nephew. Anyway, whatever the reason, I now have a bundle of plastic drinking straws that social media has screamed at me are not recyclable and, indeed, The Guardian clearly states here that straws can’t be recycled.

My eldest niece is 30, my father passed away several years ago and Mr Snail and I have metal straws through which to enjoy an occasional stormy harbour, so I can’t see a use for them. A quick internet search revealed a lot of lampshades made from plastic straws as well as a London Underground map and various ‘sculptures’, but none of these ‘uses’ appeals to me. However, a bit more of a search suggests that straws can be recycled, that they tend to be made of one of two types of plastic and that the problem arises, at least in part, from determining which one. Obviously, my unused straws are clean, so there is no contamination, and I am sorely tempted to pop them in the recycling and let our very efficient, local recycling company do the rest.

But before I do, I want to hear your ideas . Can you think of something creative to do with them that won’t mean they eventually end up floating around the oceans or in landfill? I’m not inspired, but perhaps you are…

 

%d bloggers like this: