ScrapHappy February 2023

There’s been a lot of ScrapHappiness at The Snail of Happiness this month.

The lovely Sew Social ladies who came for a class at the end of January really enjoyed experimenting with some sashiko. We used new sashiko thread, but all the stitching was on the same cream-coloured scrap fabric that I mentioned in last month’s post. Anyway, everyone seemed to have fun and I hope I’ve inspired future use of scraps.

Back in the land of crochet, there had to be bollard covers for Dydd Santes Dwynwen and Valentines day. As usual, these were made entirely from scrap yarn…

During the first covid lockdown I made some curtains for our bathroom out of a saree. The remaining fabric has been languishing in my scrap collection ever since. I use a small amount of it to make a gift bag last year, but in the past month I have finally got around to some more curtains for two small windows in the shop.

And finally, I’ve started work on another rag rug. For this one I’m using an old coffee sack kindly sourced for me by Conti’s Ice Cream. Their coffee supplier will send boxes of coffee sacks for re-use. I selected one with a lovely bird design on which to base my latest rag rug. I dug out lots of bits of beige/brown fabric and some bright blue and am making a simplified version of the bird in the original colours.

We are continuing to encourage the love of scraps and there are several more projects in the pipeline. Watch this space!

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

Kate,  Gun, Eva,  Sue, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Edi, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys, ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti, DebbieroseNóilin and Viv

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.

ScrapHappy January 2023

You may be starting to think that my entire life is taken up with crocheting bollard covers from scrap, but actually I am finding time for a little other scrappy action. Whilst the shop is closed (we don’t reopen until 25 January), I’ve been sorting through boxes of scraps that have been passed on to me by various people and these are going to be used in some of our courses this year.

My own scrappy creations have extended to sashiko and boro. I love the simplicity of the concept – decorative running stitches – and the practicality of the technique – layering and stitching for strength and insulation. For the sashiko, I’ve started off with some templates to get me going on some traditional designs, but am looking forward to exploring other ideas from the various books I have and also doing some free-form stitching. The straight lines of running stitches associated with boro (which is all about repair and using scraps) are a great way to reinforce and mend. Here are some of my practice bits:

As you can see, I’m playing about with pieces of scrap fabric on an old cloth shopping bag that is long past its best. The dark piece in the middle is a scrap from some old jeans (part of which was used in a past scraphappy post in combination with the cover from a discarded body board) and the cream fabric is mill scraps that I bought over 30 years ago!

I started experimenting with embroidery floss and a household sewing needle. I soon found that my needle was too short and too flexible, so I’m now using proper Japanese sashiko needles (and stocking these in the shop). They are very sharp, have a large eye and don’t flex, making it very much easier to get your stitches even (unlike mine in the boro you can see in the middle of the three pieces, which was done using a crewel needle). I’m also now using proper Japanese sashiko thread, which is very strong and smooth and is much easier to draw through the layers of fabric (again, I now stock this in the shop). The plan is that my bag will form a sampler with various traditional and non-traditional designs and, no doubt, demonstrating my improved stitching!

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

Kate,  Gun, Eva,  Sue, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys, ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti, DebbieroseNóilin and Viv

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.

Some sparkle in my life

Earlier in the week I came across an attractive cotton yarn with a sparkly thread running through it. I thought that it would be lovely to make some glamorous string bags with this yarn, but the choice of colours was very limited and so I didn’t buy any, thinking I might be able to find a better range on-line. As it turned out the shop that I had seen it in had the entire range – navy, white, black, pink, turquoise and lilac was pretty much it, so I didn’t buy any hoping that the manufacturer might expand the choice later in the year.

Yesterday, however, a dear friend of mine gave me this:

An old chocolate box... what could be inside?

An old chocolate box… what could be inside?

She told me that it had belonged to her grandmother and that she’d had it for 15 years. She said she wanted this to go to someone who would make use of it. It’s exactly the sort of box I use for crafty treasures, so I suspected it would contain something lovely. And I wasn’t disappointed:

A box of all sorts of colours of shiny thread… ideal for combining with some plain cotton yarn to make glamorous string bags. What a fabulously generous gift! On my way home after receiving this treasure chest, I called in to my favourite yarn shop and bought some lovely colours of cotton so that I could start making a thank you:

Hook out straight away when I got home!

Hook out straight away when I got home!

The picture really doesn’t show up the sparkles very well, but in real life it will really add some shine to any shopping trip. I also got these colours:

I think these bags are going to be in demand!

I think these bags are going to be in demand!

So, west Wales is going to be full of lovely shopping bags – saving the environment and brightening up our lives.

… and sewing too…

Although sowing (actual and metaphorical) is an important part of being sustainable, I think that sewing is too…

I was mulling this over yesterday as I repaired the curtain (drape for my US friends) that covers our front door. I say ‘repaired’ but perhaps ‘reassembled’ might be more accurate

If only this was all she did with the mail!

If you don’t have terriers, you may not be aware of their propensity to eat the mail as if comes through the front door (yes, we have letter slots in our doors here in the UK, not those box things on posts that seem to be the norm in the US). Maxwell does not participate in this activity, but Samantha makes up for his lack by being particularly exuberant. This means that if the curtain is open, the mail is grabbed and shredded if no one is around, or simply grabbed if someone it there to yell at her. If, however, the curtain is closed, she grabs the mail through the fabric. This means that the weight of a fairly hefty terrier is taken by the curtain on a regular basis. The result being that the curtain fabric had become progressively detached from the rufflette tape (that’s the stuff that you draw up to make gathers at the top of a curtain).

The curtain is made from a very heavy fabric, selected for its insulating properties and its ability to take the weight of a dog. The thread used to stitch the components together, however, turned out to be less robust. I bought the curtain from a company who sell fabric made only from natural fibres, so it was a surprise to discover that it had been stitched together using nylon thread. The problem with nylon is that it’s slippy, so once it starts to come apart it tends not to stop. But, with my trusty sewing machine (a 16th birthday present, so it’s lasted well) I was able to reattach the tape and lining to the curtain. Each seam now has three rows of stitches, so I think that it should stay in one piece for some time.

A skill like sewing is, in my opinion, greatly undervalued. Too often these days sewing seems to be considered either too old-fashioned to bother with or to be a frivolous hobby… fit only for creating fancy items. I was taught to sew by my mother, my grandmother and an old family friend, but we also had classes at school. These days, media studies and computing seem to be deemed more useful… shame. Wouldn’t it be great if all our kids grew up learning how to create and mend real, not just virtual, things? I learnt to make clothes as well as to do embroidery, needlepoint, darning… you name it.

The ability to repair an item like a curtain provides a way to save money, but is also a valuable addition to our sustainability toolbox… in the same way that Mr Snail-of-happiness can repair electrical items such as my radio. You will often hear exponents of things green talk about the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle, but I think that we should add a fourth: repair. And, in our house at least, this is what we are trying to do… sewing the seams of sustainability, perhaps!

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