Up-Cycling and Mending

In 2016 I made two shopping bags and a garden cushion from some coffee sacks. They were made from old jute sacks that coffee beans are imported in. I had used the sacks originally to collect garden clippings but didn’t find them very useful as twigs got caught in the weave. The instructions for making these were written up and posted on the Angel Eden Blog. Because the original sacks had been used in the garden they had to be washed but this is not always necessary.I have been using the smaller of the bags almost daily since it was made and noticed that it was getting rather worn at the edges. I decided it was time to make a new bag and also to mend the original one. Luckily I have found a new source of coffee sacks. The sacks came from The Northern Tea Merchants in Chesterfield. They import both teas and coffee and supply Harrods with forty different coffees. They also have a lovely Tea shop with fantastic cakes.In the photograph the large coffee tins are covered in the colourful sacks. It is a really interesting place to visit and while there I had a pot of loose tea called Ruanda Tea. It was so good I bought some to bring home. I also bought a few coffee sacks.

My new bag was made from one side of the sack shown below.I cut out two pieces each 44cms by 48cms. The handles were made from some leftover pieces of map fabric and the inside was lined with a red fabric. The instructions of how it was made can be found on the earlier link to the Angel Eden Blog.

As to the previous bag that had been so well used it was worn into holes. I darned the holes with some wool garden twine from Twools I love their products and they are very eco friendly.I darned the holes and blanket stitched the top edge. The next two photos shows the holes and the last one shows my mending which I rather like.




Here is my new bag.

Beeswax Alternative to Clingfilm

As a family we are trying to reduce our use of plastic items, particularly single use plastic. Everyones lives are full of plastic which for years has proved to be very convenient and useful. However we now realise the harm it is doing to both animals and the environment. There is also the problem of potential toxins leaking out of the plastic we use to store and cover food.

We have stopped buying bottled water and now use refillable bottles. I have to admit these are plastic but at least not single use. I have however bought a bamboo reusable, take away coffee cup rather than using the ones supplied by the coffee companies. I have already found I can benefit from a 25p reduction in the cost of the take away coffee from some companies.Today I have been making an alternative to clingfilm out of organic cotton and beeswax. The wraps can be used to cover food for storage,  wrap sandwiches etc, just as you would use clingfilm. To clean them you can wash with warm water and soap but not really hot water. The wraps are not recommended to be used to cover meat or fish.

I bought some thin organic cotton, two non stick baking trays from Poundland and some beeswax from Livemoor .I cut the fabric into squares, the correct size for the baking trays and then scattered a desert spoon of beeswax over the surface of the fabric spreading it out as evenly as I could.I found all the instructions for making these wraps on the website My Healthy Green Family . The instructions are very clear so I have not written them out again. The only thing I found confusing was the oven temperature and ended up setting my oven to 100C and found this worked well. I put my tray in for 5 minutes and had to put it back in if the wax started to set before the fabric was completely covered. I then used a wrap to cover some left over potatoes. I also made myself a sandwich for tea and wrapped it until I was ready to eat. The wrap worked really well and I used some clean jute string to keep it in place.  Just to finish this blog on how I am trying to reduce plastic, I have bought a small cloth/pan scrub made from 100% cotton. As well as being non plastic I love the design.

Handmade Christmas

I know Christmas is nearly over for another year, tomorrow is twelfth night and then traditionally the decorations are taken down. On the subject of decorations I love to make homemade ones and have done so for many years. I also have been given ones made by family and friends and absolutely love their uniqueness. I thought I would take some photos for this blog. Decorations could be made during the year ready for next Christmas, in fact it is best that this is done way ahead of the season before all the busyness begins.The first photographs show some patchwork decorations I made about twenty years ago. They only need very small amounts of Christmas fabric which can be found in many sales at the moment. I cut the fabrics into strips and machined these together. I then cut the piece into more strips at right angles to the machining and moved the pieces around before machining again so that the finished piece looked like lots of  small squares sewn together. A quick and simple way of making patchwork. I then cut the heart and boot shapes from cereal box card and drew around them onto the back of my piece of patchwork. I used some plain red fabric for the back of each piece and sewed these together right side to right side, leaving a gap to be able to turn the piece the right way out before stuffing and sewing closed.

If you prefer to knit I made some small knitted boots a few years ago which I always fill with chocolates to help them hang well. I cannot remember where I found the pattern but have recently found this fantastic free pattern on Little cotton rabbits blog. The grandchildren love to take these decorations down and share out the goodies found inside. Last year I knitted a number of mini Christmas jumpers. On my tree I have these cute teddybear decorations made from polymer clay which have been baked in the oven. These were made by my son-in-law.A few years ago I made a fabric Advent calendar which is always filled with chocolates. The instructions for making this can be found on my daughters blog. Angel Eden Blog. Apart from a traditional Christmas Tree I also have a small white tree on a table and this is hung with many handmade decorations. There are round felt robins made by my daughter-in-law and needle felted robins made by my daughter.  I was also given a lovely collection of knitted pieces made by my three grandchildren and a small Christmas Tree sewn by them from small scraps of fabric.This year I haven’t had a lot of time for making but have experimented a little with needle felting.Things do not need to cost much or be complicated, here is a stick tree made by my youngest grandson.And lastly for this year I dried some slices of orange in the oven and when I have a moment will experiment with making them into decorations.

Simple Patterns for Woollen Woods

The Woollen Woods are once again planned to come to the Parks Wood in Belper during May 2018. Lots of individuals and groups have already expressed interest in being part of the event. There are no set patterns and it is perfectly acceptable to make one item or to take on a whole tree. At the moment I am enjoying myself making woodland birds to install in the wood.

It is important to me that anyone who would like to be part of the event feels confident that they can do this. There are lots of free patterns available on the internet but on this blog I am sharing some simple ideas that still look really good, especially when things are grouped together in a tree. Three years ago we had a tree full of pom pom ladybirds and I had written a blog with instructions on how to make these. http://www.anneclarkhandmade.co.uk/pom-pom-ladybirds/pom pom ladybird in the woodsIn previous years other pom pom animals have been made, including robins, bees and spiders. Here are the instructions for some Hedgehogs It is possible to make things from knitted squares and rectangles which can look really good. The first I am going to share are knitted birds. These are made by knitting a square with every row a knit row.For my square I used 30 stitches and knitted 58 rows but this can be varied according to how big the finished bird is going to be. Once knitted the piece is folded in half to make a triangle shape and the open sides are sewn together leaving a gap to stuff the bird. Once stuffed I usually bend one of the more pointed ends forwards to become the head. I put a small stitch in it to keep in place and then sew on two small black buttons for eyes. I knitted a couple of wings by casting on 13 stitches and knitting 10 rows. After this I decreased one stitch at the beginning of every right side row by knitting two stitches together. I continued this until the last two stitches could be knitted together and the wing was finished. I have also made wings for these birds by cutting out a wing shape from a piece of felt. The legs are made by putting some string or wool through the lower body and stringing beads on the ends.

Another creature that can be made from a rectangle of knitting is the caterpillar. For the green and yellow caterpillar I cast on 20 stitches and then knitted the piece in alternate stripes. The first stripe had 18 rows and the others had 14 rows each.To make this into a caterpillar I folded it in half and sewed the long edges together matching the stripes. Each end was closed by sewing some running stitches around the short end and pulling it tightly together. I closed one end and then stuffed the caterpillar, once stuffed I finished the other end. To give the piece some more realistic shaping, I sewed some running stitches around each edge of a stripe and pulled up. lastly I used some black yarn to sew some eyes and a mouth. The caterpillar will be attached to a branch making it look as if its back is hunched up.

A butterfly can also be made with rectangular pieces of knitting. I made two pieces, the first was in brown for the head and body. I cast on 25 stitches and knitted 20 rows. The second piece for the wings, I cast on 30 stitches and knitted 46 rows, 24 in yellow and 22 in pink. I made up the body in the same way as the caterpillar and then sewed some running stitches along the middle of the wing piece, sewing a line of stitches along the middle of the yellow and pink stripes. Having pulled these stitches up slightly I joined the wings to the middle of the body. To give the wings more shape, I ran some running stitches along the line where the pink and yellow met and gathered this up.In previous years I have made rabbits from knitted squares with pom pom tales.Details of how to make these can be found here Knitted Rabbit.

In 2016  we had some amazing spiders webs made using sticks with wool wound round them.Here are some instructions for making the webs. Last year we also made lots of birds by winding wool around cardboard. Instructions ca be found here Wool Wrapped Birds

I hope these instructions give people a few ideas and lots feel they would like to become part of Woollen Woods 2018.

Belper Christmas Angels

I thought I would write an update about the Christmas Angel project. Knitters and Crocheters in Belper have been very busy this year making small angels as a Christmas Gift of Love for the people of the town. The project had been adopted by Belper Churches Together as their Christmas initiative but it has also been very much a community activity with hundreds of people getting involved. Continue reading Belper Christmas Angels

Nature and the Great War

A love of nature and the horror of World War One are not usually thought of as being connected. However having read the book ‘Where Poppies Blow’ by John Lewis-Stempel, I realise there is a connection.

During the war soldiers lived inside nature. There was no escape as they lived and fought in trenches dug out of the earth. There are lots of references to the natural world in the poems written during the war and in letters written home to family members. Many said it was a love of the British countryside that encouraged them to volunteer. Continue reading Nature and the Great War

The Joy of Autumn

Autumn is such a special season. There is fun to be had walking along kicking the fallen leaves, searching for conkers and brightly coloured berries. The season used to start on September 21st and it can be a bit confusing these days as media weather people start talking about it starting on September 1st. Continue reading The Joy of Autumn

Tomorrow, the film.

Do you believe that climate change is happening? Are you worried about the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere and the air quality in towns and cities around the world? What about the damage that plastics are doing to our world. It can be very easy to feel that there is nothing we can do, the problems are too large and so it is easier to bury our heads in the sand. Continue reading Tomorrow, the film.

Adopt a Tree in Belper

In the town of Belper people are starting to think about next years Art Festival. Unlike many Art Festivals, the one held each year in Belper is a community event, a festival of inclusivity, not exclusivity and everyone is welcome to take part.Belper Art Trail has already posted on their Facebook page asking for ideas for next years trail which is one element of the whole Art FestivalContinue reading Adopt a Tree in Belper