Mend It Monday #7

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

Last week I started darning a second sock and that has now been completed. It’s a rare sock for me because I didn’t originally knit it myself, but it’s so comfy inside walking boots, that I really wanted it to last a bit longer. Anyway, once I’d started, it didn’t take long to make it usable again.

The embroidery problem that I mentioned last week was kindly solved by my friend Lizzie (thank you so much Lizzie), who sent me some black and yellow embroidery floss so that I could work a bee design over a hole in one of Mr Snail’s sweatshirts. When I came to look at it, there were two holes, so he’s got two bees. He’s threatening to make more holes in it, so he gets more bees! First I sewed around the edges of the holes to stabilse them, then it’s simple satin stitch to cover the holes, a running stitch “trail” and back stitch wings. The orientation of the bees is defined by the hole itself.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

Mend It Monday #6

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

I’m afraid it’s more darning this week. I was intending to do some visible mending involving some embroidery, but when I looked at my thread, I discovered that a key colour was missing. As I’m sure you’ll understand, just popping out to get the colour that I want is not possible right now, so that project has had to be put on hold (and may, in the longer term, be re-designed on the basis of the colours that I do have).

Anyway, there always seem to be socks to darn. There was a pair of Mr Snail’s colourful socks, knitted by me as well as hole in some thick socks I wear with my walking boots. The latter is a work in progress, but the former are all mended.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

Mend It Monday #5

“If it’s not worth mending, it’s not worth buying” …

This week I finished repairing the cardigan that I darned last week. Once the holes were repaired, I moved on to the frayed cuffs. In fact the fraying wasn’t too bad, only affecting the very ends of the sleeves, but sorting the issue out now will save a much more difficult mend later.

I started by reinforcing the frayed edge, so that it wouldn’t fray anymore, catching any free stitches to avoid ladders forming. Then I worked a row of blanket stitch around each cuff, a couple of centimetres in from the end. I used these stitches as the foundation for crocheting new cuffs. I worked two rows of double crochet, then three rows of treble crochet so that the work was long enough to fold over the original end of the sleeve and enclose the raggedy ends. Although the original cuffs were cream, I decided that black would actually be much more practical. I used sock yarn, so it should be robust and, hopefully, last a good few more years.

So, have you mended anything this week? If you’ve written a post about mending recently, do share a link to it – I love to see how other people manage to extend the lives of the things they own.

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?

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…

ScrapHappy April 2018 #1

Whilst I haven’t been blogging recently, I have been busy with other projects… several of which have involved scraps, so this is only the first of a couple of ScrapHappy posts this month.

Mr Snail spends most of his life wearing jeans, and he has a sort of hierarchy, from relatively new to ancient and only suitable for gardening/practical conservation work. I used to refuse to mend them, but my discovery of boro mending and my determination to keep as much stuff out of landfill as possible has encouraged me, in recent years, to regard the continued life of these jeans as a personal challenge.

Boro makes use of scraps of fabric behind the tear or hole to reinforce the garment and then lots of running stitches which form a visible mend and which rely on the additional fabric to act as a foundation. If the hole is big, or of you what to make a feature of it, it’s fine for the reinforcing fabric to show through. And it is this fabric that has been the destination of a variety of scraps. I’ve used several sorts of fabric, including some cotton jersey and we’ll see what works best.

First I repaired the seat of a pair of work jeans. The knees of these jeans had been patched with waterproof fabric (salvaged from a raincoat that the dog ate) a while ago and that has lasted well, but both sides of the seat area had split, so I used some scraps of checked cotton drill, edged using my overlocker, to repair these.

Next I moved on to some ‘everyday’ jeans. One knee of these had been mended twice previously, but the other knee was close to tearing and, again, the seat was worn through on one side… perhaps Mr Snail has been doing too much sitting down recently! This very odd pair of jeans is significantly darker on the inside than the outside – you’d never guess those were the same mends, would you?

All the fabric was small off-cuts from previous projects that otherwise could have been considered to be waste (too small even for dusters, which I made a few more of from some of Mr Snail’s old pyjamas last week).

Watch out for more scrappy activity soon!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start as you mend to go on

Last week we had the disappointment of having to replace something rather than mend it. Our ancient dvd player, which has been making strange noises for some time now, finally gave up the ghost. Mr Snail attempted to render first, and then second, aid, but the problem appeared to combine a mechanical issue and a software problem and it proved impossible to solve. As we have a large collection of dvds and no cable/satellite subscription, our dvd player gets a lot of use. So, we bit the bullet and bought a new one.

We were feeling a bit glum about this defeat, but then I reminded myself that in the past week I have done lots of successful mending and re-mending. The heel of one of my shoes came adrift and this was quickly reattached with Gorilla glue.

I darned a pile of holey socks over the weekend. Some of these have been repaired multiple times and in places there are darns over darns. I also took the opportunity to strengthen some patches that looked like they were wearing, but which did not have holes (yet).

And, finally I patched a hole in the pocket of a pair of Mr Snail’s jeans. I hate the fact that jeans of made of hard-wearing denim, but the pockets are often constructed some flimsy cotton, easily pierced by a key.

A sly repair – no one will know it’s there

And all this mending has made me realise that, despite making a new pair of slippers the other day, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw my old ones into the compost… so I’m going to do a big repair on those too. It is, however, going to take some work:

My very sorry old slippers

Have you mended anything recently? Or failed to mend something you would have liked to?

Going to extremes… or not

I keep coming across articles on the internet about people who have pared their life down to the bare essentials… like Rob Greenfield who only has 111 possessions (you can check them out here). Now I’m all for cutting down on waste and not buying unnecessary ‘stuff’, but I simply wouldn’t be happy with so little. What about creativity? What about owning equipment to make things or repair things? What about tools for cultivating the land? Living a nomadic life with no roots (metaphorically and literally … I love my plants), no money and no ‘safe’ place is just not something that I would want to contemplate seriously. I suspect it isn’t something that would work for many people and, indeed, the earth could support a much smaller population if we all foraged for all our food. I’m not saying that any of those things are ‘bad’, but just unrealistic given our starting point.

So, where do we find a balance? How much stuff should we have? Should we all follow the advice of Marie Kondo and only have possessions that ‘spark joy in our life’? I have to confess that I worry about decluttering simply for the sake of it… particularly where in a fit of enthusiasm for a tidy house, all the unwanted items end up in landfill. My desire for fewer possessions is balanced by my desire to be kind to the planet. An item may not spark joy in me, but if I know that it will be useful in the future, then I’m not going to throw it out.

So, my approach to reducing clutter in out home is currently based around the following:

Not adding to what we already have. This means being a member of the library rather than buying paperback books; not buying more craft supplies when I have plenty to keep me amused; making use of existing electronics (mobile phone, e-reader, pc etc) rather than being seduced into buying the latest model.

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it looked like this in 2012…it’s still working but more repaired!

Repairing. Making use of the materials/equipment that we have to repair things that wear out or break. Mr Snail’s collection of electronic components comes in very handy for repairing… this doesn’t reduce what we have much, but it justifies keeping some ‘stuff’ around. I refer you to the much repaired radio.

 

Being generous. When a friend mentions that they need something that I own but don’t really have a use for or a particular reason to keep, I give it to them. I’ve even started giving away things simply because a friend likes them.

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refreshed and ready to be sold

Finding new homes. This is slightly different to the last one because the driving force is that I no longer want an item rather than someone else expressing a desire for it. I feel guilty about sending anything to landfill, but selling something on, donating something to charity or offering an item for free (e.g. via Freecycle) feels like a positive action.

 

Composting. I have discovered the joys of converting unwanted paper into compost. This means that piles of old lecture notes, financial statements, old magazines and official letters are now part of the foundation for our vegetable crops! Composting also extends to natural fabrics that have reached the end of the useful/repairable life, along with worn out wooden items (bamboo toothbrushes, wood and bristle scrubbing brushes, broken wooden skewers etc), although sometimes we burn wooden items (for fuel, not simply to dispose of them).

and as a last resort…

Recycling. But it’s much better to find ways to repair/reuse/repurpose/rehome before you get to this stage.

And more than anything else, not to be seduced into thinking that buying new ‘stuff’ will make me happy.

So I’m slowly clearing and sorting and selling and sharing… I’m never going to be down to 111 possessions, but I am going to have found new homes or new uses for lots of the ‘stuff’ in my house, and I’m going to love making and repairing and creating with what I do have.

Mendiferous

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All soles

I had a dilemma this week – my crochet slippers developed some holes and I had the choice of finally giving up on them or mending them. A while back, Kate sent me some sheepskin slipper soles that are no use to her in tropical Australia and I plan to use these to make myself some brand new spiffy slippers at some point, but looking at my old slippers, I decided that there was still a bit of life in them and mending would be worthwhile. I did briefly toy with the idea of using the new soles to mend the old slippers, but actually the new pieces do not coincide entirely where the old ones are worn and, anyway, I have some ideas for the new ones… when I eventually get round to them.

This is the third mend of my old faithfuls and each time I have used a different colour to make the repair obvious. First they had new crochet soles, then I added some crochet reinforcement to the sides, and now finally I’ve done some darning:

The original yarn was a mix of sock wool and some 100% wool chunky, but all the blue mends, including the latest three patches of darning, have been made using Axminster rug wool. The original company that I got the Axminster wool from went out of business, but I’m delighted to say that a new supplier, Airedale Yarns, has popped up. I haven’t ordered from them yet, but I can highly recommend Axminster wool for making slippers – it lasts so much longer than any other yarn I’ve tried for the job.

So, my slippers live to be worn another day. I’m pondering whether there will come a point when there is nothing left visible of the original slippers… or , indeed, whether they will eventually become unsalvageable.

Do you have items that are mended repeatedly? And when do you decide to give up on them?

A little bit of toast

I like toast; I eat it regularly… with eggs, with beans, with jam, with cheese and just with butter. It’s great for lunch and it’s something that I crave when I have been deprived of it for a while. I like it made out of 3-day-old homemade bread and I don’t like it burnt. Making it, however, has been rather energy inefficient recently. Our old toaster was rubbish – very small and unreliable in terms of the amount of toasting achieved – so I’ve been using the grill. This is ok when I’m making lots of toast, but is highly inefficient for a single piece when I’m home alone.

So, I decided we needed a new toaster and my heart sank when I thought about all the research and trying to make the most ethical decision. BUT I very quickly came across Dualit, who make toasters in the UK that are designed to last and for which you can easily buy spares, and that come in a variety of different sizes and which allow you to select how many pieces of toast you are making so that only the necessary elements are heated each time. And I thought to myself… why isn’t it always this  straightforward to find a company who do not subscribe to designed obsolescence?

And today, when it arrived, it was packed in cardboard and paper… the only tiny bits of plastic present enclosed the delivery note and took the form of the small seals to keep the box closed. So, hurrah for Dualit and here’s to many years of happy toasting.

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