Friday, 25 July 2014

Crowdfunding donation - week three

This week I chose to donate to a cause that aims to teach workshops on sustainability in Mullumbimby. One of the workshops they propose to teach is 'making rubbish bricks' and what to do with them. I am thinking I might sign up for that one when it is up and going.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

What to do with old sheets - making pajama pants

We seem to have lots of old ripped sheets. We buy all our sheets at second hand stores and although we buy the least worn ones they still seem to wear out on a regular basis; getting thin in the middle and developing little tears on the edges. So what to do with all these sheets?

One thing I do with mine is to make pajama pants from the still good outer edge of the sheet.

To make a pattern, I picked apart an old pair of cotton pants that had also worn out. Once they were picked apart at the seams the pants revealed themselves to be just four pieces the same shape and size, sewn together. So I used one quarter as a guide to cut out my pattern pieces (four of them) and allowed about two centimetres extra around the outside as a seam allowance.

I followed this really handy tutorial (without the cuffs added) to sew them up on my old Singer 201; Prudence. I love my old treadle machine, she is straight stitch only but she doesn't use electricity and sews quietly with a strong stitch.
My old treadle sewing machine; Prudence. Made in 1936 and still sewing strong.

My new pajama pants, made from an old flannelette sheet

The rest of the sheet has become cleaning rags, animal bandaging and strips for making rag rugs (depending on the quality of the material).

What do you do with your old sheets?

From fleece to tote bag and all stops in between - part five

This is the final step in the making of a tote bag from scratch; felting (or fulling). First let me explain the difference between felting and fulling; felting is the actual process of entangling fibres tightly together to make a solid material, raw wool is felted. Fulling is the process of partially felting knitted items to provide a stronger bond between stitches, knitted items like my bags are fulled. The process for felting or fulling is the same; everything your mum told you not to do with knitted clothing in the laundry.
If you are interested in wet felting wool, follow the link to a good tutorial.
If you are interested in fulling pure wool knitted (or crochet) items, follow this link to a good tutorial

My licorice allsorts bag, all ready to be fulled.

The bag is knitted up and looks just like licorice allsorts to me, so that's what I called it. The exciting thing about fulling knitted items is that you can never be sure how much or how fast the felting process will go, so the results are infinitely variable.
So here's how I go about it...
First I fill the washing machine with cold water and add some shampoo (which seems to make fulling go faster) I only just cover the items to be fulled so the water level is low. Then I switch the machine on (after fueling and starting the generator as we have no 240v electricity) and let it wash for a while. In the meantime I boil a big pot of water on the wood heater. Once the water is boiling I carefully carry the pot into the laundry and tip the hot water into the washing machine, this temperature change is generally enough to 'shock' the wool into felting. I then spin out the item and hang it to dry while stretching it into the shape I had intended as far as possible.

My bag after fulling, hanging in the sun to dry.

An example of the unpredictability of fulling; the dark blue and black stripes didn't felt as much as the other colours.

That is the end of the journey from fleece to tote bag. As you can see; it takes a while to get there, but the results are worth it.

Did you enjoy this series?
Should I do more of them?
What else would you like to read about?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Crowdfunding donation - Week two

I promised last week to donate $5 every week to another crowdfunding project, as I believe that this is a great way for us all to support each other and get things done.
This week I have chosen a health related project to give my five dollars to; Cystic Fibrosis Vest.

Cystic fibrosis is a truly horrible genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.
The vest seems to be a high tech version of the old 'lay facedown on the bed while mum pounds your back' cure for mucus in the lungs. I hope this little boy gets his vest and it improves his quality of life.

Friday, 11 July 2014

New interest; crowdfunding

I have just discovered crowdfunding and I am exploring the options and possibilities of it right now. There are so many projects I have wanted to do for a long time, but funding, or the lack of it, always stops me.

What is crowdfunding? Well the basic idea is that individuals donate small amounts of money to a project via Paypal or direct transfer. It's an offshoot of the social media craze. The specifics, as I understand them so far, are that a website hosts the project (there are heaps of them, a google search will reveal them all) and people use social media to advertise their project and gain sponsors, people donate using Paypal or bank transfer.
The basic question is always 'Who makes money out of this?' Well, the hosting site and Paypal both get a small percentage from each donation, and the people who are seeking the funding get the majority of the funds. I am very excited by the possibilities of this method of fund raising, especially for small personal projects and things outside the norm.

The biggest success for crowdfunding in the media of late is the Climate Council's raising of enough funds to continue operation despite losing government backing and the silliest has to be the case of the man who raised $37000 to make potato salad.

 Having read these media reports and thought about it for a few days...I decided to launch my own campaign. My reasoning is this...we pay 52% of our total family income to a bank in order to (eventually) own the block of land on which our humpy stands, if we can crowdfund enough money to pay off this debt (and avoid all that interest payment) we can spend a proportion of that money onwards to other people's projects. I see it as a way to break the hold of the banks on our purchasing choices, try getting a loan for a rural property with a small deposit some time.

The link to my campaign is;

As part of my 'putting my money where my mouth is' policy, I have decided to fund one project every week for $5 while I can afford it. I will post the project I choose on my personal Facebook page and also on this blog.

This week I chose;

Everyone knows I have a soft spot for animals.

I would love to hear views on this new interest; is crowdfunding a valid way to raise funds, or is it just begging?
Do you have a crowdfund project on the go? Send me the details and I may donate.
Can crowdfunding change the way we use money?
What do you think?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Upcycling an old chest of draws into a garden feature

After a cold morning spent drinking coffee and googling garden upcycling  ideas on my phone, I decided to use an old chest of draws from the 'to burn' pile as a useful garden feature. My daughter and I dragged it around to where we wanted it, lined the draws with builders plastic (also reclaimed), filled them with chook compost and potting mix and planted some Johnny Jump Ups in them. We also sprinkled around some seeds for Love in the Mist (Nigella), calendula (pot marigold) and marigolds to add some more colour to the mix.

We also planted out some old terracotta pots with flower seedlings and seeds and left them lying artfully around. I must say the entire experience was very satisfying.

Until recently I have not been a flowers person; I prefer to grow food and herbs, but lately I find myself drawn to colour and flowers in the garden. Maybe I'm getting old.

I can imagine this feature spilling over with green, purple and yellow in a month or so, can you?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Happy late Yule to all

Happy Yule to all

We were about two weeks late for Yule this year but when we did get to it we had a lot of fun.

Yule is the celebration of the winter solstice; the shortest day of the year which falls on the 21st/22nd of June here in the southern hemisphere. It is the time of the long, dark, cold night that reminds us of the suffering our ancestors went through to survive this time of year, when food is scarce and it seems that the warm days of spring may never come. To answer these feelings we have a feast (showing faith that we will be able to grow more food) and light a fire as a symbol that the sun will return and grows stronger from this time onwards to Litha (summer solstice).

We celebrate Yule by thanking the elements for another year of abundance, telling stories and lighting a candle each to symbolise the rebirth of the Sun. We also have a bonfire and swap handmade presents. This year I got a beautiful crochet poncho. In past years we have decorated an evergreen tree with solar symbols and decorated the circle with branches, but as there are only us old pagans left we toned it down to the essentials.
One element that is always present though is the gluhwein (mulled wine). It warms the blood and makes the long night speed by.

Getting everything ready for the ritual (making a list, checking it twice)

The master bonfire maker.

The apprentice

Our altar, ready to go as the darkness fell. Presents, candles and gluhwein (mulled, spiced wine)

The glorious bonfire, giving us warmth and light.

The candles burned down as the night went on, feasting and talking. They made frozen wax waterfalls.

The bonfire burned down to ashes too, but still kept us warm.
My gorgeous poncho

It makes much more sense to me to hold this celebration at midwinter rather than in December; the symbols all make sense now.
Have a happy Yule everyone.