Knit, Purl, Save the World

The other day I was browsing the local library and came across this bookIMGP5890so I couldn’t resist taking it out to peruse thoroughly at home. I love the idea of the book:

A sustainable approach to knitting and crochet that benefits the planet AND your creativity

The book takes a pattern-by-pattern approach, using a different “eco-friendly” fibre for each – alpaca, soysilk, locally produced cashmere, camel, bamboo, jute and so on. Some of the pros, cons and eco-credentials of each fibre are discussed and some of the patterns use scrap yarn or yarn made from recycled/repurposed materials. There’s also a two-page spread entitled Community Awareness: Global Efforts to Live, Create, Employ, and Sustain Via Yarn Crafts which describes projects in various countries that use knitting, crochet or fibre production as the basis for community development and economic independence.

But I’m sorry to say that I was a little disappointed with it overall. The organisation means that the patterns rather than the fibres take centre-stage and there is no handy way to browse the types of yarns and compare their characteristics and credentials. I’m rather saddened that the research that the authors clearly did to find out about the yarns they use was not presented in a more accessible and thorough way. Space is dedicated to basic knitting and crochet techniques, which are easy to find in a multitude of books, rather than to the really interesting, unique stuff. I don’t need another book of patterns, but I would have loved a book comprehensively discussing the merits (environmental and otherwise) of different yarns and fibres, so I’m glad I got it out of the library rather than bought it.

Ah well, I guess that I’ll just have to write the book I want myself. I’ll add it to the list.

Knit, Purl, Save the World by Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong, ISBN 0715336347

ScrapHappy June 2018

I haven’t done a ScrapHappy post for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been using my scraps. Here is my latest “Permaculture Hat” (follow the link for an explanation):

I used up the whole of my scrap ball, but I’ve already started another one (you can see it in front of Hattie in the first picture). This and others of its ilk are made entirely from those tiny scraps of yarn that would otherwise be too small to be considered for a knitting or crochet project. Usually I sell these hats, but I have decided that this, and a variety of other hats I have made recently will be donated to Knit for Peace, who are always able to find such items good homes.

We have been very ScrapHappy Chez Snail this month, so Mr Snail is also writing a ScrapHappy post (check out his blog here after mid-morning on the 15th UK time)… be prepared for something completely different to the usual tales of fabric and yarn!

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.

ScrapHappy February 2018

I had a sort out the other day and decided that the time had come to get rid of some clothes that were really beyond repair. Initially, I was going to send all of them for recycling, but then I realised that there was some good fabric left in some of them, so I set-to with my pinking shears and chopped up some old pairs of pyjamas to make cleaning cloths/dusters. They are 100% cotton and so there are no plastic microfibres to shed. I put the off-cuts (the bulky seams mainly) in the recycling and ended up with a nice big pile of eco-friendly cloths and a little pile of waste.

Actually, this wasn’t my main scrappy activity this month, but I wanted to share it anyway. My scrappy focus has, in fact, been on crocheting a blanket. A couple of years ago I bought a kit from Colinette (the company is, alas, no more) and made a knitted blanket. The blanket turned out beautifully and I use it regularly:

but there was rather a lot of scrap yarn left over. I originally planned to use this yarn in a blanket for charity, but the more I considered it, the less suitable it seemed – lots of different textures and rather too fluffy for easy washing. Nevertheless, I made a start on it sometime last year, beginning with a central square made from some purple yarn that had been given to me – some one else’s scraps! And then I got distracted… other charity blankets were made, other projects embarked upon and completed and this one languished as a UFO*.

In the past month, however, I have been revisiting abandoned on-going projects and I decided the time had come to get this one finished. A secondary incentive is that I know who I want to give it to: a friend who is having a hard time, but who is too far away to go and see in person. The idea is that I’m sending a hug in the form of a blanket. So, my hook has been flying and the scraps have been gobbled up – including additional oddments from my collection of left-over yarns. There’s quite a lot of mohair in the mix, so the blanket will be especially snuggly, plus they are cheerful colours and I’m hoping they will brighten my friend’s day. What do you think?

It isn’t finished yet, but I am nearly there. I’m hoping to be able to send it on it’s way within the next week.

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.

-oOo-

* UnFinished Object

 

 

 

 

 

Woolly connections

In recent years I have met many people via social media – some only online, but quite a number I’ve eventually encountered in person. The networks that I have built up have enriched my life, providing me with new friends, sources of produce and teaching me a great deal. And this week, they yielded a creative collaboration. I won’t go into the rather convoluted details of how this link came about, but Thursday found me visiting Glynelwyn, home of Faithmead Felt, Fleece ‘n’ Fibre, to talk wool.IMGP4975Mandy and Derek have goats, pigs, horses and poultry, but it was the sheep that I was there for. Below are some of them – indoors to keep them out of the current poor weather (some breeds are not as hardy as you might think, plus this will help to avoid pre-felted fleeces). As you can see, some of them are particularly partial to dry pasta as a treat!

 

Glynelwyn is home to small numbers of a variety of breeds – Blue-faced Leicester (standard and coloured), Wensleydale, Corriedale, Gotland, Leicester Longwool, Teeswater and Grey-faced Dartmoor – and produces single-breed wool. It is also the home to tiny Fennel – a ‘micro-Corriedale’. She’s not a big wool-producer, but she does write well (a truly amazing sheep) and has just started her own blog!

IMGP4970

Fennel and her pal Dennis

The wool from the big sheep is sold at occasional shows and on-line (they will send wool anywhere in the world!) and Mandy’s studio is heaven for a wool lover:

 

But, as well as the fibre, fleeces and yarn, Mandy wants to sell kits, and that’s where I come in. After a couple of unsuccessful previous attempts to have some patterns written, a mutual friend got us talking to each other and I’m going to help out. We are going to start small – a knitting kit for a hat using one of the yarns that Mandy has in (relative) abundance. On returning home, my first job was to knit some swatches, decide on an appropriate needle size and stitch pattern, and then get working on the hat…

 

It’s really lovely to be doing this with a local producer and I’ll be reporting on progress over the coming weeks.

Three Things Thursday: 9 November 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, things arriving in the post. I love to receive letters and cards and parcels, especially when they have been sent by friends. The post this week has yielded two of these things – a card from Cathy and a parcel from Ann. Both made me smile a lot.

IMGP4506

lovely arrivals

IMGP4507

I think I can spare some!

Second, sending things in the post. Although I don’t ‘do’ Christmas, I decided this year to participate in Sewchet’s Crafty Secret Santa event… Stitching Santa. Basically, you are allocated a person to send a little gift parcel to and you receive one from someone else; there’s a budget but you can add extra bits and bobs that you have from your stash. I’m taking part in the knitting/crochet version, but there’s a sewing version too. I’m having fun reading my recipient’s blog and trying to decide what to include in her parcel. I really think I must send some Cambrian Mountains wool and some vintage buttons and some of my spare stitch markers, plus I’d like to make something… I have so many ideas! The suggestion is that everyone opens their parcel on Christmas day, but I may keep mine until my birthday a week later since I rarely receive presents because everyone is so busy with Christmas/New Year that they either forget or just don’t bother. I’m sure my gifter won’t mind a little delay in getting thanks. Oh and I have a parcel to pack up and send to the Beasties too.

Third, 100 swims. Yes, that’s right; so far in 2017 I have been swimming 100 times. That must be a cause for celebration, and must mean that I’m getting fitter.

So, that’s some of what’s making me happy this week. How about you?

-oOo-

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

Three Things Thursday: 2 November 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.

IMGP4477

say “cheese”

First, yummy cheese. The little cheeses were not maturing in the way I had hoped, so the other day we decided to sample one of them… and it was delicious, with flavour of a mild Caerphilly and a feta-like texture. With the poor growth of white mould needed to create brie, I abandoned this idea and brought forward the next stages, so I chopped up half of one cheese for preservation in olive oil, I wrapped one in Calvados-soaked nasturtium leaves and I wiped one down with Calvados and then oiled the surface. The other half of the first cheese we ate as cauliflower cheese and it was a great success.

Second, a pay-out. Now, I know that this weekly post is usually about the little things in life that make me smile, but I was delighted to get a cheque yesterday, covering compensation for a mis-sold financial product. I may be smiling even more soon, because there’s a second claim still to be settled! Actually, it would have been good never to have been duped by my bank in the first place, but at least they have been forced to put things right.

IMGP4482

and there’s a whole ball still left

Third, passing it on. A while ago I was given some yarn, which I completely forgot about. However, I came across it the other day and realised that it would be perfect for a surprise gift I wanted to make. When posting my most recent lot of parcels, the lady in the post office admired my fingerless mittens and told me how cold her hands get… so next time I go to do my post I have a little gift to take for her. I whipped them up yesterday evening, so the kindness of a gift of yarn (thank you Katy the Night Owl) has been converted into the gift of warm hands.

So, that’s what’s making me happy this week. How about you?

-oOo-

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

Three knits

For the rest of the year in terms of knitting and crochet I’m focusing on completing projects, using up yarn that I already have in my stash… much of which was bought with specific projects in mind. So, in order to keep track of what I’ve achieved, I plan to share regular pictures of my progress (possibly in the form of WIP Wednesdays, but I may not be that organised/productive). Today, I give you one skeleton hat pattern test, the first of the honeycomb cables socks nearly finished, and the back of the golden spikes jumper completed.

Strangely it’s all knitting, but I do need to make some bird roosts, as I’ve sold out of one design in my etsy shop and so some crochet is in the offing. I have a couple of train journeys in the next few days so I’m hoping to make progress on the second sock.

Stash not scraps

It’s the fifteenth of the month, which would usually mean a ScrapHappy post, but not this month. You’ve already seen my latest scrap creation, in the form of this blanket:

IMGP3801

a big blanket of scraps

For the next few months, my plan is not to use scraps (although it might happen on the side), but to work my way through my slightly out of control wool stash and complete some WIPs*. Whilst I have been busy using up scrap wool for charity blankets, I have worked on relatively few other knitting or crochet projects, but I have continued to add to my yarn stash.  I’ve decided that the time has come to address this imbalance and to make use of some of the lovely wool currently squirrelled away in draws and cupboards.

So, my first (small) stash-busting project is a pair of socks (which will also contribute to one of my 17 for 2017 targets). This wool came in my 2016 sock yarn club subscription from The Knitting Goddess. The theme was The Discworld and the colour combination is called Distressed Pudding**. Personally, it makes me think of Neapolitan ice cream.

IMGP3837

scrummy yarn

There were six stripy colour combinations that came in the 2016 subscription and this is the third that I have used. I subscribed to another club this year with more subtle colourways, but since I have not knitted up any of those yet, there will be no 2018 subscription… I really have to reduce the amount of wool, not increase it.

As someone who bangs on a lot about excessive consumerism, I’m feeling a bit guilty about having this lot, especially since this is by no means all my stash. It’s time to enjoy using rather than accumulating I think.

-oOo-

* WIP = Work In Progress

** If you are not a Terry Pratchett fan, just accept this and don’t worry about what it all means.

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.

IMGP3678

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?

IMGP3681

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.

 

%d bloggers like this: