A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: Thoughts

I’ve been away a few times over the summer and mostly on holiday from blogging. It was a broken-up European tour encompassing France, Slovakia, Hungary, Finland and Spain.

Going away has made me much more aware of what being zero waste would mean giving up. It hit me when I was in a petrol station and wanted a pre-made chilled latte. The ZW option would have been to get a coffee in my keep cup and wait for it to cool down. When I’m at home, I’m happy to make an espresso frappe thing. But the idea of drinking a cold filter coffee was just too depressing to contemplate.

Apparently coffee is my main trigger because I had a similar dilemma later in the summer. ZW option: Nescafe. Preferred option: single-serve iced latte drink. I was too much of a snob to drink the instant. So many of my favourite tasty treats- crunchy Cheetos, Bugles, different kinds of chocolate and cheese- are packaged in plastic. I’m glad that my eyes were opened a bit more, even if I’m not sure how I will approach this dilemma.

I got my third OddBox the week I returned home properly. I didn’t use it for anything glamorous enough to photograph but all of it has been used a little under a week later.

Just before the summer I started having terrible sugar cravings in the afternoons. I realised it was because I had got into the habit of having a protein bar every day. Although the ones I have are ‘low sugar’ (AKA filled with horrifying chemicals that I almost certainly should not be consuming), they taste like a chocolate bar. Clearly my body had become accustomed to having its daily sugar hit. To be fair, I have always had a sweet tooth. I just don’t remember having such strong sugar cravings.

I picked up some more dates to make up some more caramel bite things to snack on instead. I bought the dates on impulse at the supermarket so they were inevitably packaged in plastic. Next time, I will get them at the Source. I added a ‘no single-use plastics’ item to my habit tracker and I haven’t been able to tick it off once. I’m quite strict and include everything like milk cartons and yoghurt tubs. Still a long, long way to go.

Weekly tilt

A disadvantage of trying to reduce waste is becoming hyper-aware of how wasteful society is. Here I share things that have bothered or worried me.

  • I can’t seem to find a plastic-free moisturiser. Neither of the shops near me with bulk options stock one. I guess one idea would be to try something from Lush because they at least reuse their tubs in a closed-loop economy.
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I managed to see another inspirational exhibition in Helsinki. My flatmate and I were visiting our Finish friend and I read that we were just in time to catch the Grayson Perry show at the Kiasma gallery. I went to see his exhibition when I was in Bristol for a conference less than a year ago but was still keen to see more.

Kiasma in Helsinki

Folk Wisdom contained some different pieces to the last Perry exhibition I visited. Again, I was impressed by how prolific he is as an artist and how he brings methods that might be traditionally regarded as craft into the realm of high art.

I love Perry as a cultural commentator. The image below is just part of one of his huge tapestries, itself part of a series. However, it really captures an issue that comes up a lot in my work as a psychologist.

I’ve been noticing how artists that inspire me have included my current interests in their work. For example, the textiles on show at the Frida Kahlo exhibition I visited. Similarly, I was taken by the garments Perry had made.

I have been getting more interested in beading since doing some work on the vintage jacket I picked up. I’m hoping to do an embroidery and/or beading class at the Royal School of Needlework soon. I noticed that part of one of Perry’s tapestries was beaded.

While in Helsinki we were staying near an adorable LYS called Snurre. Of course I coudn’t resist possing in and my flatmate was very patient while I looked at every single skein in the shop. I had hoped to get yarn that was linked to Finland in some way but they were a little low on stock. I ended up getting this, which I plan to use for some new fingerless gloves/mittens to match my planned Kelly anorak, if I ever get around to making it. I impulse-bought the buttons, which are made from coconut husk and would be perfect for a cardigan.

I also picked up this hemp yarn at the local craft store in my friend’s hometown. I’m planning to use it to make some plastic-free kitchen scourers.

Finally, we managed a visit to the national craft museum in Jyvaskyla. I highly recommend it. It’s got lots of interactive exhibits, which are always a plus for me. I resent not being allowed to touch stuff in museums. I tried my hand at the loom pictured and I’m even more sure that I want to have a proper go at weaving.


A few weeks ago I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibition that is currently on at the V&A. Titled Making Herself Up, it displays a lot of her personal artefacts. I believe that her husband’s will requested that Kahlo’s bathroom remain sealed for a number of years after both of their deaths. The exhibition explores how she created and curated her image as well as how she presented herself in her artwork.

I thought I knew quite a lot about Kahlo before attending the exhibition. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was under that impression. I never really studied her when I was doing art at school. I was going through a phase of antifeminism at the time and for some reason picked Roy Lichtenstein as the artist I studied for my GCSE art project. Many a regret was had.

Anyway, it was really interesting to learn about her life and how it influenced her as an artist. In particular, I had no idea that she was disabled.

One of my favourite parts was seeing the display of her clothing. Her personal style evolved quite a lot over the years and she seemed to be very mindful of her image. I liked the way that she wore traditional Mexican clothing.

Many of the pieces were embellished with beautiful embroidery or beading, which must have been done by hand. It was also interesting to think about how Frida’s dress enabled her to present herself in the way she wanted in spite of her health and physical challenges.

I felt quite an affinity with Frida through the exhibition, in particular a love of colour and being inspired by flowers and animals. I had chosen an outfit especially to wear to the exhibition. Sometimes I curate my image very carefully, but there are also days where I don’t bother. I generally don’t think that I dress in a notable way until I see a picture of myself in a group and realise that I am wearing every colour of the rainbow while everyone else is monochrome!

I tried to get a selfie with the Frida earrings I couldn’t resist buying from the gift shop. I discovered that, even with a machine designed to take self-portraits in my pocket, I’m not very good at it!


Last week I went to Wilderness festival. I have been mostly blissfully ignorant of the rubbish problem when I have attended festivals before. I’m sure I felt a little bothered by the bins full of disposable cups and plates, and the massive piles of perfectly good items that attendees leave behind. But now my eyes are much more open to the problem.

I armed myself with my vacuum flask, water bottle, keep cup, metal straw and cutlery.  This was quite a lot of equipment to have with me at all times, but I brought my beloved yellow backpack along largely for the purpose of carrying these items. Aaaaand…. like the best laid plans of mice and men, it went completely out of the window.

Delicious food that I felt a little bad eating

I learnt that I actually find it very difficult to make a special request for myself when the infrastructure is not set up to deal with it. All of the plating was set up and I just felt bad asking the vendors to change it so that it would fit in my containers. Wilderness has a lot of ego-massaging placatory messages, such as the dishes being compostable, but of course there is a lot of upstream waste associated with making the disposable items.

Because I am extra af and dangerously addicted to espresso, I took my stovetop coffee maker and milk frother for my morning flat white. So I at least didn’t use any coffee cups during the weekend.

One thing that the zero waste mindset helped me with was with making purchases. Wilderness is a festival where people feel very free to dress outlandishly, which I am very much on board with. This year was one of my first festival experiences where I had some disposable income available. It would have been very easy to spend a lot of money on items that are just not wearable in any other context. I was very much enamoured of this pompom headdress.

In the end, I bought a vintage beaded jacket that was actually very restrained for the festival, but just about straddles the line between jazzy and useful in my real life.

I also bought some little sparkly jewels to wear on my forehead because I couldn’t resist getting a little something.

The festival did allow me to get out some much-loved but seldom-worn items. I wore my rocket Southport dress for just the second time and it was perfect for this event.

I brought the circuit sentiments kit I have had at home for years and used it to fashion my own light-up headdress using a flower crown I bought a few years ago on eBay. The LED kits are the kind of impulse craft purchase that I would like to stop making as much. I used a few of the items to make my Port Charlotte jumper light up when I was pretending it was a Christmas jumper.


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.

The waste reduction holy trinity

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:

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.


Typically, I left it to the 11th hour to sign up for Me Made May 2018, though of course I knew I would be doing it after enjoying participating so much last year.

I’ve added quite a few garments to my handmade wardrobe since last May, though I’ve also got rid of a couple of items that I never wore. This is my pledge this year:

I, Monique of www.craftycrusader.wordpress.com @craftycrusader on social media, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear at least one item of handmade clothing for every day of May 2018. I will post daily pictures on my Instagram. One of my aims is to streamline my wardrobe before I move house in June, particularly to cull the RTW clothing I seldom wear. I would also like to identify gaps in my me-made wardrobe.

Something I continue to be terrible at is wardrobe planning. As a maker, I am very much inspired in the moment. I get an idea for something I want to make and it’s not long before I’m delving into research for that item. I was going to say that planning is the converse before realising that I actually love to plan for individual projects. It’s having an overview or overarching plan that is my downfall. To be honest, that is very much a reflection of my personality. I tend to get caught up in the nitty-gritty of things without really having much awareness of what it is all leading to.

In fact, this has been the main dilemma of my thirties so far- feeling rudderless.

Before I get too deep into self-analysis, I will simply say that I am looking forward to taking part in #mmm18 and I hope it will help me to think a little more strategically about my makes. I have two mini-breaks coming up in May, which makes it even more exciting!