Bye-bye blankets

Over the past nine months or so, I’ve been contributing to the Sixty Million Trebles Project – highlighting the plight of the sixty million refugees in the world (in fact, there’s now more than sixty-five million). The idea was to make blankets to send to refugees and for each stitch (a standard UK crochet stitch is called a ‘treble’) to represent one refugee. Three knitting stitches are equivalent to one crochet treble… you can, therefore, perhaps begin to imagine the huge amount of work that has gone into this.

Originally, the plan was to create a world record-breaking blanket. However, it gradually dawned on the group that the blankets were actually desperately needed by displaced people and so it was agreed that we would set aside the world record attempt and get the blankets to where they would keep people warm. Boxes and boxes have already gone to Syria to a hospital caring for premature babies, but the main bulk of the blankets are destined to travel to those in need later this month. So, feeling a little sad at seeing them go, I’ve just completed my last ‘refugee blanket’ and packed up my final three (totalling 97,258 trebles) to go off to one of the big collection points.

Prior to this, I’d made eight smaller blankets (plus a bigger one that went to a different charity – Knit for Peace) and these had already been dropped off in person at one of the collection points. Here they all are (as well as one of those in the current batch):blankets

The grand total for the 60MT project so far is 55 million trebles, so you can see how close we are. After this big dispatch, further blankets are destined for various UK charities as it was agreed that we also wanted to support people in need closer to home.

For now, though, I’m going to concentrate on some personal projects and finishing some neglected WIPs*

-oOo-

* WIP = Work In Progress

 

The frog princess

Sometimes you know when something is wrong.

Over the winter I crocheted most of a sweater. All the main pieces were done, it just needed the neck working up and sewing together. But I didn’t do it. It sat in my work basket for months whilst I made up excuses for not finishing it.

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nice wool, shame about the pattern

Finally, over the weekend, I got it out of the basket and looked at it. And admitted that I really didn’t like the shape – too long and skinny. In fact the pattern was for a man’s sweater and I should have taken this into account and adjusted it, but I didn’t, I followed the pattern. I should also have stopped working on it when I realised my tension was wrong and it was not as wide as it should have been for the number of stitches. For some reason, I pretended this wouldn’t matter as I worked and considered adding side panels… despite the fact that this would change the way the arms would have to be attached.. and their length… and their shape. And even knowing this, I followed the pattern for the arms too, so they weren’t going to work if I made the body wider. Is it any wonder that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it off?

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back to balls

On Saturday, however, I bit the bullet. I love the yarn and hate the way the pattern turned out. The only thing to do in such circumstances is to frog (unravel it for those of you who don’t do yarny stuff… because you “rip-it, rip-it”). So, with much sneezing (it had got dusty from all that sitting around), I converted it back into balls. I have plenty of yarn, so now I’m going to have fun choosing another pattern to work it up into… probably a cardigan or jacket. I have to admit that this is one of the reasons I like knitting and crochet better than sewing – the work can be completely dismantled and the raw material used again in its entirety if you don’t like the finished item or if it doesn’t fit.

 

-oOo-

This is another in my series of ‘honest’ posts, about things that don’t work or aren’t perfect. You can read my first one (about gardening) here. This is the anti-Instagram!

 

 

 

ScrapHappy July

The scrappy project from last month is completed!

The blanket began with old crochet squares and unwanted yarn given to me by Wild Daffodil, grew with the addition of scraps from my own collection and has finally been completed with scrap yarn on cones plus some odd balls of 4-ply (both given to me by Sixty Million Trebles). The result is a blanket measuring approximately 60 by 52 inches:

This blanket will soon be on its way to keep a displaced person warm – showing refugees that the world does care.

-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.

 

Hug a mug

We are currently in the middle of Plastic-free July – an event aimed at getting people to cut down on single-use plastics. Things like straws and plastic shopping bags are relatively easy to give up for most people (I don’t tend to use either now), but some things are less obvious. For example, disposable coffee cups: with their plastic lids and plastic-coated cardboard that’s generally not recycled or, indeed, recyclable, and often can’t be composted. The answer, of course, is simple – get a reusable cup and ask the coffee shop to put your drink in that.

One of the problems with the re-usable (and disposable) versions is that many of them don’t have handles. Last year, I crocheted a cover with a thin handle for my (very elderly and well-used) cup, so that I had some way of keeping a hold of it:

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cup holder in use (on a train)

When my friend Katie saw this, she asked if I could make her one too. I liked mine, but I decided that it could be improved upon, so I bought a KeepCup and started to experiment. In the end I came up with a cover that has two handles, so that you can easily hold on to your cup, and also give your mug a hug:

This cup and cover is with its new owner now and I’ve had good feedback. Now, isn’t that so much nicer than a cardboard cup that you simply throw away?

Marvellous Meadows

Yesterday, 1 July 2017, was National Meadows day here in the UK. Our favourite local conservation charity, Denmark Farm, were hosting an event to celebrate, and Mr Snail and I had volunteered to go along and help out. After a cold and rainy week, we were delighted to wake up to sunshine and the prospect of a lovely afternoon.

There were local artists and artisans there, as well as experts on bumblebees, gardening and plants. Once we were set up, it looked lovely:

And, despite being in competition with other similar events in the area, lots of visitors came along… many for the first (but we hope not the last) time.

I led a walk and talked about the different grasslands at Denmark Farm, whilst Mr Snail was on car park and welcoming duty. However, maybe my biggest success was teaching a whole lot of small children how to crochet…

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making crochet flowers © Mara Morris, Denmark Farm

And the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed two little bees on my table – one kindly given to us for our craftivism exhibition in Manchester by Helen, Maker of Beasties and one made by me from her pattern. These two felt bees are now going to live at Denmark Farm to help to teach people about the importance of conserving pollinators.

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little buzzy bees and a bee house! © Mara Morris, Denmark Farm

Three Things Thursday: 29 June 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, Knit Night. I’ve started going to the Thursday evening knitting and crochet group at Red Apple Yarn in Lampeter. Chatting and knitting (or crocheting – that’s allowed too) in a wool shop, what could be nicer?

the perfect location for a spot of knitting

Second, an afternoon nap. Normally staying awake all day is fairly easy for me, but Max was ill on Tuesday night, so I spent several of the early hours of Wednesday morning sitting up with him and crocheting. He’s stopped vomiting and has perked up now and both of us benefitted from a couple of hours sleep on Wednesday afternoon. He’s currently snoozing under my chair, but I’m managing to keep my eyes open today.

He woke up when I crawled under my chair to take this just now

Third, sending parcels. Finally this week, I’ve managed to send Laurie the bag she won in the give-away and another parcel to a friend who is very unwell (contents to be revealed once it has been received). Each parcel also contained a hand-written letter, something else that makes me happy.

So, those are three things making me smile this week. What is making you happy?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

A bit more scrappy

Following on from yesterday’s post, I’m happy to report that the parcel of unloved yarn arrived today.

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a mixed bag of fine yarn

Some of it is very fine, and clearly intended for weaving, but that is no obstacle. I immediately set aside the sock I was knitting for Mr Snail (it’s summer, he doesn’t need new sock right now, right?)

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temporarily abandoned sock

and wound some of the yarn into multi-coloured cakes of two or three strands:

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cake, anyone?

But I couldn’t leave it there, and had to test it out by making a square for the scrappy blanket:

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behold, a square!

I think I’m going to be able to create a fine big blanket now and still maintain the basic colour scheme:

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looks like it belongs, doesn’t it?

ScrapHappy June

OK, OK, everyone else did their ScrapHappy posts last week, but events conspired against me and mine did not happen. That is not so say that I haven’t been working on a scrappy creation, just that it didn’t make it onto the blog.

In fact my current scrappy project is a continuation of one you have seen before – a blanket using old crochet squares and unwanted yarn given to me by Wild Daffodil. It has progressed from this:

to this:

and on to this by the beginning of this week:

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The outer squares and the edging were made from wool left over from some of my old projects and some from Freecycle. And I thought that might have to be it, as I’d almost come to the end of my brown/beige/green scraps. But, no! Someone in the 60 Million Trebles group has a load of old cones of wool and other 4-ply scraps and oddments and these are now on their way to me, so that this can be made into a full-sized blanket. I am really enjoying this collaborative effort and hoping that eventually it will keep someone warm and let them know that there are people in the world who care.

-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.

 

Small calm things

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I came across this quote a while ago and saved it, thinking that I might use it in a post sometime. And, today, whilst looking at some old drafts I came across it, and thought that the time had come to share it.

After a number of recent ‘big mean things’ happening across the world, this feels like a very good time for ‘small calm things’. A few days ago I finished the cotton blanket I have been making for 60 Million Trebles (who have got two thirds of the way to their goal, reaching 40 million trebles last week), I’ve now returned to the wool and squares sent to me by Wild Daffodil earlier this year… it’s very fine yarn, so this blanket could take a while, but I am regarding every blanket that gets sent out as representing a hug to someone in need.

I’m also thinking that over the next month I will try to focus on some random (and not so random) crafts/acts of kindness. I have one gift completed to send off to a friend who is not at all well at the moment (no picture, as I want it to be a surprise), I have a partially made blanket that I want to send to a bereaved friend (again no picture to maintain the surprise), and I’ve made a start on some letter- and postcard-writing that’s long overdue.

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so many letters!

 

I like random acts of kindness directed at strangers who I will never meet, but it’s also uplifting to do something for someone I know, allowing me to witness the positive effect of my action.

17 for 2017 – May Update

May turned out to see lots of action with respect to 17 for 2017, including another two sets of goals achieved. So, this is progress to date:

17 RCKs 5

A gift vaark

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. I could claim that this goal has been completed, having put dozens and dozens of hearts in the community garden in Chorlton last Saturday, but I’m only counting this as one ‘act’. I also made a little vaark which was sent as a surprise to one of the administrators for the 60 Million Trebles project. Thus, the total so far is six.

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. Three lots in May means I’m just a single batch away from my goal.

Fifteen… cheeses.  I made two lots of Bel Paese-style cheese – it’s really simple, is ready after just six weeks and it’s great for cooking. Th total now is nine

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. None this  month, so the total is still six.

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Mended with a swirl or two of Sugru

Thirteen… mends. Leggings, pyjamas and two different sets of headphones this month means that I’ve reached my target for the year.

Twelve… letters to friends. None written this month, so the total is still six.

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. I’ve added just one item this month, the “Start a Revolution, Plant a Garden” embroidery that appeared in the craftivism display. This takes the total to eight.

10 plants rehomed 9

Lemongrass, grown from seed, off to a new home

Ten... plants given to good homes. Although I only gave the first plants away last month, I’ve already reached my target, with summer purple sprouting broccoli, lemongrass and chillies accounting for most of the plants that have gone off to new homes in May.

Nine… games of Scrabble. None yet.

Eight… meals using only our own produce. None yet, although there have been several meals that came close.

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. My visit to Manchester took my total to six.

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. None this month, so still only one made

Five… book chapters written. None yet.

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The squares for blanket six of four

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. I’d completed this target by the end of February; however, I finished another this month and I’ve nearly finished one more.

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. None yet.

Two… patterns published and on sale. No new pattern this month, so just the one published in January.

 One… gardening apron. I made this last month.
I’m feeling rather pleased with my achievements this month – how about your projects this year? If you have a 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.
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