After my last post about exploring the zero waste lifestyle, I followed up on some of my pledges. I ordered my first OddBox.
I decided to try out the recommended recipe for the sorrel. I must say that next time I have to taste unfamiliar ingredients before cooking with them! I had no idea how lemony sorrel was, so regretted my decision to substitute the recommended lemon sole for a fillet steak.
I also made cauliflower puree for the first time.
I used up some of the tomatoes and courgettes making this healthy egg recipe I discovered when I was gardening last year.
I also went for my first zero waste shop at the Source Bulk Foods in Turnham Green. I’ve got to say I got unreasonably excited when I was shopping at the Source. It just felt like the way I want to shop. I wonder if the novelty will wear off when I’m lugging jars around west London, but for now I’m loving it.
One slight concern is the cost of all the delightful organic produce. Even though I make a comfortable living in my day job, I was raised in a proud tradition of miserdom.
I decided to do a little price comparison with supermarkets on items I am likely to purchase.
With three jars and an Illy coffee can clanking around in my tote, I finally understood why people use cloth produce bags. One of my plans for the summer is to make some using some of my fabric scraps.
It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing. One of our bottles of milk got broken in the street. I have a phobia of bad milk, so this was a challenge for me.
It’s only been a week so I am remaining cautious, but so far I am really enjoying the lifestyle changes I am making to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics.
After a very challenging summer term, which included changing jobs (which has gone horribly) and moving house (which has gone well) I decided to treat myself. I’ve had my eye on a Tatty Devine rainbow necklace for an age. I’ve always loved rainbows and I feel that this necklace really captures how beautiful and fun they are. I tried the sample on at my last workshop and knew the necklace had to be mine.
And now she is!
I really enjoyed this workshop. Since I’ve done so many, I whizzed through the construction.
I was a little more apprehensive about adding the crystals- this element is what makes the workshop necklace unique and I can never resist a bit of sparkle. Putting them on took some serious glue.
I kept my crystal placement quite close to the sample and I’m happy with that decision.
And here is the finished item
We had a bit of a debate at the workshop about whether these necklaces are really ‘handmade’ or simply assembled (my view).
The fact that the workshop took place on pride weekend got me thinking. First, I thought that I am a sucker because I bought both rainbow doughnuts and a rainbow bagel as I walked down Brick Lane.
Secondly I started thinking about taking pride in a range of identities. As a mixed race woman, it has taken me many years to take pride in both sides of my heritage, especially spending my time predominantly in the company of white people. People tend to be black-or-white thinkers, struggling to hold on to complexity when the pull of easy stereotypes can be so irresistible. It felt pertinent to see this quotation from Harriet Tubman for the first time.
I finished my latest summer top in short order after my last post, which meant that I met my target to wear it in Florence.
Fortunately the tight armholes are not too much of a problem.
However, I definitely need a full bust adjustment and possibly a back adjustment too. I see people talking about swayback adjustment quite a bit so maybe that?
For a top made in the wrong type of fabric, I’m fairly satisfied with it. I find the mandarin collar a little constricting around my throat, but I can’t really see myself wearing this buttoned all the way up so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
This picture was taken on the way to my first commentary spot at the 2018 quidditch world cup. Calling and analysing the matches was a lot of fun, and it was nice to realise how much my understanding of the game has increased in the past two years.
Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10
Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It
Notions: Around £8
Pattern: £3.22 (second use)
Total cost: Around £27.50
Not long after writing my last blog post, I tried on my Humboldt sweater and realised that I wasn’t happy with how the gradient was looking. When I calculated how long I wanted each section of colour to be, I didn’t know that I had made a mistake when measuring my Port Charlotte sweater and therefore the dimensions were out. Also, the ribbing section is much more navy than turquoise, meaning that the turquoise section looked way too narrow.
The only viable solution was to rip back to where I finished the turquoise part.
This marl is pretty difficult to photograph! When I was looking yesterday, I couldn’t see much of a difference but now I can. I spent quite a bit of time examining the pattern schematic to try and think about the look of the gradient rather than just calculating it and I’m hoping this way will work out nicely. I will also have to think about how to do the sleeves, which will be much longer than the body.
I’ve managed to finish knitting the body and I think the length is looking as I want it. It feels so weird to be deliberately making a jumper too short!
I managed to cast on my first sleeve so that I could work on it on a flight. Despite the current heatwave in London, I’ve been making decent progress.
Now having a bit of a dilemma about how I want the gradient to look on the sleeves! Maybe it’s time for another lifeline…
Pattern: Humboldt by Anna Maltz
Reducing the impact of my life on our beautiful planet has been something I have been getting more and more interested in, especially over the past year. Travelling to India was a real eye-opener because you could see garbage absolutely everywhere. I know that we produce a lot of waste in the UK too but the problem is hidden away and sanitised. In India, it is literally in your face.
I went through the photos I took in India and was shocked to discover that there were almost none containing garbage. To me, this is very indicative of our response to the waste crisis. Even though rubbish is a huge issue, people don’t want to see it. The problem is hidden and if it not hidden, it is wilfully ignored. Even though our group commented regularly on the trash everywhere- we often saw the cows that roam city streets eating it- I didn’t want this ugly stuff cluttering up my lovely holiday snaps so I framed it out. You can only see the rubbish in these pictures because I was focused on the monkeys. Note that the location is the top of a hill in Pushkar, which we had climbed around an hour to reach.
I wrote a little earlier in the year about reducing the amount that I waste as a maker. When making a recent project, I was very aware that I probably threw away as much fabric as I used to make my finished item. Writing that has reminded me to start collecting my scraps and seeing whether any of my schools might find a use for them.
More broadly, I have made a few lifestyle changes to reduce waste already, mainly around reducing my usage of single-use plastics. I almost always have my keep cup, water bottle and spork with me. I have also mostly stopped using disposable sanitary products.
This year I would like to add the following:
- Stop buying milk and juice in plastic packaging
- Shop in bulk wherever possible
- Subscribe to Odd Box
I feel especially excited about subscribing to Odd Box. Aside the issue of food waste in relation to supermarket standards, I have been becoming more and more mindful about the level of unnecessary packaging. Why do cucumbers need to be wrapped in film? Why do five lemons have to be put together in a plastic net?
I think the box will encourage me to be more creative with recipes. Growing my own vegetables last year did the same thing. I tend to get stuck in a rut of making the same prep-friendly meals over and over again, which is okay but very boring. I may even post the odd recipe!
I don’t think that I will ever be truly zero waste and I think even zero waste bloggers acknowledge that this is an impossible aim. However, I would like to consistently take the small steps that I can to reduce waste and support businesses with practices that are more in line with my beliefs. Starting to reduce waste (and plastic usage) comes with other mini-dilemmas too. For example, seeing pictures of beautiful pantries piled high with matching glass storage jars always tempts me to chuck away the old jars that I store most of my food in.
Since we’re over halfway though the year, I thought I would review where I am with my sewing for the year. I have completed five items so far.
It’s interesting for me to note that, just like last year, my plans have changed hugely in the six short months since I made them. Here’s what I thought I might make:
- Cloud Lark
- Stripy Lark
- Ultimate shirt in Liberty fabric
- Third day dress in viscose
- Wearable toile- copy of the perfect pencil skirt I have
- Threadcount 1617– I think I will start out with a toile using a viscose remnant I have.
- I also have my eye on some beautiful viscose with a monstera (my favourite leaf) print for a second version. I won a £20 voucher from Sew Over It’s #SOIshowoff competition, which would buy 1.5m
- Teal anorak
- Dotty Linden
Now I’m thinking that I’m more likely to end up with this:
Cloud Lark Stripy Lark Nautical Linden Floral Threadcount 1617 Dotty Linden
- Wink blouse
- Clouds and rockets blouse
- Navy corduroy trousers
- Teal anorak
I’ve written a little about this before, but I would still like to get better at making pre-planned projects. Lots of the items on the first list are things that I would like to make and would be useful but somehow they don’t grab me. The shirt in particular has been on there for 18 months and remains no closer to being cut out. In contrast, my wink blouse went from twinkle in the eye to wearable item in five days. At the same time as wanting to plan, I don’t want to (and perhaps can’t) put reins on my creativity. I’m realising that sudden inspiration and feverish spurts of making are part of my process.
I’ve been thinking in therapy about how I find it difficult to know what I want in life. Often I see myself as a plastic bag blowing around in the breeze, Making is one of the few spaces I have where I know precisely what I want and then make time to work tirelessly until I have it.
When I was planning going support some friends at the Quidditch World Cup in Florence, I thought it would be fun to make some supporters’ stash. One of our friends is famous for sharking (flirting/trying to get people into the sport) so I wanted a shark hat to wear in the crowd. I was going to crochet one until someone pointed out how hot that would be in the Italian summer.
Lots of brands sell shark baseball hats for babies, but finding something similar for adults was a struggle.
I managed to find this hat on eBay. I showed a selfie to a fellow supporter, who asked if I had made it. I do have a history of customising baseball caps. From looking at the hat, I thought that I could make something equally good or better, so I decided that I would make another one for her as a surprise. Within twenty-four hours, I had purchased the materials.
You will need
- Plain baseball cap
- Fabric paint in black and white
- Felt/fabric that matches the baseball cap
- A small amount of stuffing- you can use fabric scraps for this if you don’t want to buy
- I also used some scrap red corduroy for the heart eyes
Choose your design
Because I’ll be wearing this hat to support a cute and loving shark, I thought it would be fun to give her heart eyes. I played around sketching some initial designs.
Decide how you want to apply your design
I bought fabric paint in black, white and red, but then I thought it might be fun to add some mixed media elements. In particular, to either applique or use buttons for the heart eyes. Another advantage of appliqueing the eyes was that they covered the vents in the hat.
Because I knew that corduroy frays, I tested out ways of finishing the edges. I decided to slap on a liberal coat of fray check and then use blanket stitch to apply the patches.
I very roughly sketched some lines on the hat with a pencil. I decided to eyeball most of the painting and I think that was the right decision- the texture of the hat affected my painting and it was easier to adjust on the fly.
I did the teeth first, building up layers of white paint until it was opaque.
I did the black next. I had to use a fine brush for all the parts near the teeth.
Again I did a second coat of black to make sure the paint was even.
Finally, I added the grey section. Once it dried, it looked a bit dark so I added a second coat of grey with more white in it.
Don’t forget to iron your design if you want it to be weather proof. Use a pressing cloth to protect your iron.
Next, I glued on my corduroy heart eyes with fabric adhesive. I then blanket-stitched around. I couldn’t find my embroidery thread so I just used ordinary sewing cotton.
For the fin, I cut out a rough fin shape on the fold.
I then stitched it right sides together and added some stuffing.
Finally, I hand stitched it onto the top of the hat. I tucked the raw edges of the fin under, pressed and then stitched along the pressed line. I was in a rush so I didn’t photograph this step.
And you’re done!
Here you can see the difference between using a snapback (with a flat brim) and a baseball cap (curved brim). For me, it’s a matter of preference.