Woollen Woods 2019

This year, 2019 the Woollen Woods were slightly later than usual and this turned out to be a good decision as we were once again very lucky with the weather. As has happened in previous years some pieces were seen for a second time such as the stripy snakes.Most of the trees were decorated with new pieces however, with many trees being taken on by local groups. Transition Belper put up a Bee Kind to Nature Tree with an amazing beehive suspended high above our heads. A line of bees could be seen flying back to the hive and on close inspection a Queen Bee could be seen wearing a small handmade silver crown. The tree also included many species of wildlife and wildflowers.
Chatterbox once again excelled themselves with their tree full of very colourful birds. The local Oxfam shop installed a magical tree full of so many woolly creations. So many local groups took part as well as many individuals and it really has become quite a task to both set up and take down. One group new to the woods this year was Derbyshire Toy Libraries They chose to theme their tree with the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar who turned fifty this year.There was a fantastic blue, sea themed tree from the Blue Box Charity

They had also been working with Fleet Arts, Belper to felt a blue sea inspired tree wrap. Marianne who can often be seen at Belper events with her knitting needles or crochet hook made a very impressive Christmas Tree.There were rainbow elephants, large octopi and a completely Dinosaur Tree.Once again the group Chronic Creatives completed a tree with many flowers, birds and woodland creatures. I have by no means mentioned all the amazing trees but there are many photographs to be seen on the Belper Woollen Woods Facebook page.We want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who took part in this event which does bring so much pleasure to those who visit the woods.

Fashion Revolution Week

Belper’s first Fashion Revolution event took place during Fashion Revolution Week 2019. The action happened in St Peter’s Church on Friday April 26th,  it was very well supported by people from Belper and beyond.The idea for the Fashion Revolution movement came from Carry Somers after the tragedy of the Rana Plaza disaster. On 24 April 2013, a factory building in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1,134 people and injuring 2500 more. Carry (who has a Fair Trade shop in Ashbourne) felt this was a tipping point and something needed to be done. She phoned Orsola de Castro, founder of up-cycling fashion label ‘From Somewhere‘. Orsola immediately said, ‘Yes we have got to do this.” The first fashion Revolution Day took place in 2014. Fashion Revolution Day has now become Fashion Revolution Week and this year took place from April 22 – 28.

It was encouraging to have at the event a young fashion designer from Derby, Leren Connor. Her company Bambis Den is an eclectic mix of forgotten treasures, festival attire, alternative clothing and accessories. Leren is an advocate for sustainable fashion, she sources charity shops and car boots for the best denim and materials to use in her collections and gives them a new lease of life. A clothes swap was organised by Shena Lawrence and her team. Shena runs a monthly clothes swap at Creartii Belper and the next one will be on May 22nd 2019 from 7.00-9.00pm. More details can be found at the bottom of this blog.
There was a Fabric Swap for all those who enjoy making or mending.

Bryony Roberts travelled  from the South West to lead a craft activist activity. Craft activism is slow activism which helps people to think about important issues while making something. In 2014 I started an ongoing banner about why things need to change in the fashion industry. The idea was that people thought about the issues and wrote or sewed something onto a fabric post it note. Last Friday more post it notes were embroidered and added to the banner.One of todays trends, currently referred to as Fast Fashion, is to wear clothing and then discard, either because it is cheap or you can easily buy something new because it gets damaged in some way. Two local ladies brought along their sewing machines. Marilyn’s was from the 1930s and she had information about making your own clothes. Pam’s was more modern and she was able to help with repairs and showed examples of how garments could be mended or altered to make something new.There were two workshop tables where those who attended could have a go at altering or creating something new from something old. Sue MacFarlane (owner of Sues Sustainables, a shop that sells sustainable options for your everyday needs) turned mens shirts into bags.Kim Kerry (who has a monthly stall on Belper Farmer’s market, selling wool and wool related items) brought along yarn and crochet hooks to give people a go and show how crochet can used to alter or mend clothing.There was space to have your photo taken holding a card which asked, Who Made My Clothes? The idea behind this is that you contact the brand who made the item and ask them if they know who made it, encouraging transparency in the Fashion Industry.And of course there was a cafe area with homemade cake and biscuits.For your information shown below are details about an event organised by Shena Lawrence at Creatii Art Studio.

Fashion Revolution Belper

Do you wear clothes? In that case please read the rest of this article. Our Member’s of Parliament say the Fashion Industry is a major source of the greenhouse gases that are overheating our planet. Discarded clothes are piling up in landfill sites and fibre fragments are flowing into the sea when clothes are washed. Find out more HERE.

On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. That’s when Fashion Revolution was born. The idea for Fashion Revolution Day came from Carrie Somers whose Ashbourne shop Pachacuti sells Fair Trade hats.

Pachacuti Shop in Ashbourne Derbyshire.

Here is what Carrie says about the start of Fashion Revolution,

After the Rana Plaza disaster, everywhere I looked, there were newspaper articles calling for a more ethical fashion industry. All of us within ethical fashion circles wondered how we could channel the energy and momentum. The Rana Plaza catastrophe was a metaphorical call to arms. The idea for Fashion Revolution Day literally dropped into my head in the bath a few days after the 24th April. I could so easily have stayed soaking in my hot bath and ignored the idea, but it seemed like a good enough idea to act on.’

Fashion Revolution Day has now become Fashion Revolution Week and this year it is from April 22nd until April 28th. There are events happening all over the world with the aim of encouraging all of us to think about the clothes we buy and wear. Everyone wears clothes even if we don’t think of fashion as something that interests us on a daily basis and the clothes we wear are MADE by someone. People like a bargain but is our bargain at the expense of someone else’s well being.

I was horrified to discover the amount of water that it takes to make a cotton T-Shirt and also the pollution and environmental damage done by the growing of cotton. Is it better to buy one expensive organic cotton t-shirt rather than 6 cheap t-shirts?  Water needed for one T-Shirt

We are planning out first Fashion Revolution event in St Peter’s Church, Belper this year. The address is Church Lane, Belper, DE56 1EZ. This will take place on Friday April 26th from 7.00-9.00 pm.

There will be different activities to join in with including some Craft Activism. If you have not heard of this more information can be found here https://craftivist-collective.com  Craft can be a tool for gentle activism, while making something it gives you time to think about issues and changes that you can make. There will also be an opportunity to bring along clothes that you no longer love or wear to swop with others and a fabric swop. At the last clothes swop I went to organised by Shena at Creartii, Green Lane, Belper. I found a plain denim skirt that fitted me nicely. I enjoyed myself adding some embroidery to the front of the skirt.

Don’t worry if you are not into craft there will be a cafe and information about changes we can all make. Please come along and support because however much interest you take in clothes you do wear them.

Reusable Gift Wrapping

At Christmas I decided to wrap all my Christmas presents with brown paper because I wasn’t sure whether normal wrapping paper was suitable for recycling.

This is the information I found on the internet.

  • Some local authorities accept wrapping paper in home recycling collections
  • Others ask for wrapping paper to be taken to the local recycling centre
  • Some do not collect wrapping paper at all because wrapping paper is not accepted by some recycled paper mills. There are a number of reasons for this.

I looked on my local Councils recycling page and wrapping paper was not mentioned so I am still not sure.

We didn’t manage to recycle all our brown paper as in all the mayhem of Christmas there wasn’t a huge amount of time to remove all the sticky tape. I should have probably folded the paper and then kept it in place with ribbon and not used any sticky tape.

As a family we always have a celebration on New Year’s Day and give small gifts. I decided this year to make up some fabric bags to wrap presents. This worked really well and they can all be reused next year. I didn’t buy any new fabric, just used up bits I had. The only downside will be next Christmas working out which bag is the best for each gift. I tried different ways of making and then came up with one that I could complete in 10 minutes.After Christmas I decided to make some bags by the same method to keep our reusable coffee cups in. We like to keep a couple of cups in the car as you never know when you are going to feel like a coffee and of course by using reusable cup you cut down on single use plastic. You also save money usually at least 25p a cup.The larger bag on the left has two cups in it and the smaller one on the right is big enough for one cup. This fabric I bought years ago on a trip to Estonia. I had used some of it but had a small amount left.

To make the bag for one cup I cut a piece of Fabric 36 cms by 28 cms. I like to stop the edges of the fabric fraying so I used a zig zag stitch around the whole piece. I folded the piece in half with the right sides facing each other and sewed with a straight stitch down the side seam, starting about 6 cms from the top edge and along the bottom of the bag.The next stage was to make the top with a casing for a piece of ribbon to go through. Again I like to neaten my work so I folded back each short 6 cm edge at the side and sewed it in place with a straight stitch.The last step was to turn over the top edge so that it came down about 3 cms and sew with a straight stitch right around the bag. I then used a straight stitch to sew about half a cm down from the top folded edge.The bag can now be turned out the right way and a piece of ribbon threaded through the top casing. This will close the bag and can be tied with a bow.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield for the first time this week. I was very impressed by the variety of exhibitions both inside and out. The Park describes itself as a 500-acre outdoor art gallery and there are over 80 sculptures to see outside. The area was originally the landscaped parkland of Bretton Hall and so the setting is very beautiful. There is much to explore including Lower and Upper Lake , Menagerie Wood, the Chapel, Boat House, Shell Grotto, various galleries and much more.

We didn’t see all of it so there is plenty to go back for. Outside there is a group of figures made by Barbara Hepworth called, The Family of Man. I had been to her house and gallery in St Ives and hadn’t realised that she originally came from Wakefield.This photo is just one of the group which has been on loan to the park since the 1980s.

Another very interesting sculpture was the Iron Tree made by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. He gained worldwide attention in 2011 when he was arrested for ‘economic crimes’. His arrest provoked an international campaign for his release. He is home now but under constant surveillance and banned from leaving China. The Iron tree is made from 97 elements cast in iron from different trees joined together with nuts and screws. The park also includes several indoor exhibitions in different galleries. These are time limited and the one that I was very keen to look at was, The Wish Post by Mister Finch. Mister Finch is a textile artist and as he puts it, he is a man who sews. I have seen photos of his work but never seen it in the flesh and it didn’t disappoint. The Wish Post is the story of a magical kingdom of woodland animals whose job it is to collect and sort other creatures’ wishes. These are breathed into envelopes and posted in toadstool postboxes. Badgers in blue jackets, hedgehogs playing brass bells, long eared rabbits, rats, mice, squirrels, moles, hares and foxes all play their part in this magical amazing story. These creatures will disappear from the park on September 23rd so you must be quick to make their acquaintance. I also really enjoyed the temporary exhibition called, A Tree in the Wood by Giuseppe Penone. Part of this exhibition was outside in the form of trees with large objects in their branches. At first I thought that these large pieces such as a box shape had been hoisted into the branches and wondered how safe they would be in a wind. It turned out however that the really realistic looking trees were actually made of bronze.I loved the metal tree outside the Bothy Gallery, it is a bronze sculpture of a split tree with gold leaf reflecting the light.Inside the Underground Gallery is a force of nature, called Matrice. It is a fifteen metre conifer which has been spliced vertically in half and laid tip to tip to measure thirty metres . The tree had been cut down in the Alps and the centre hollowed out.I was also very interested in the exhibition called, Beyond Time by Chiharu Shiota , a Japanese installation artist. This was inside the refurbished 18th-century Chapel.  It has been made with 2,000 balls of woollen thread, with pieces of sheet music suspended from the thread.Unfortunately this instalation is only there  until September 2nd.

I enjoyed my visit but am very aware there is still lots that I didn’t see so look forward to a return visit.

Community Spaces in the North East

I have just returned home from a few days staying in a cottage near Whitley Bay in the North East of England. During the visit I was very interested to see two community projects which were both in different ways a little unexpected. The first was a Community Garden in the walled garden area of a National Trust House and the second was made for the community by an open cast mining company. Continue reading Community Spaces in the North East

Adopt a Tree for Belper Arts Festival

This year as a new event for Belper Arts Festival, local individuals and groups were asked if they would Adopt a Tree on King Street.  The trees were decorated for the duration of the Arts Festival. The idea was suggested back in Autumn 2017 and was quickly taken up by a number of people in the town of Belper. Trees were installed on May 5th and taken down on May 28th. Continue reading Adopt a Tree for Belper Arts Festival

Woollen woods 2018

We have just taken down the Woollen Woods and 2018 has been an amazing year. The sun has been very good to us and more individuals and groups have joined in the fun. I have written about previous years on this blog and also linked to videos Woollen Woods 2015 . This one was created for us by a Derby company https://www.ablewild.com . We were written about on the Angel Eden Blog in 2016 and there are links to videos on their page. Continue reading Woollen woods 2018

Belper in Bloom

Once again this year Belper will enter the RHS Britain in Bloom competition. The competition is now over fifty years old and is entered by communities in towns, villages and cities with different categories for each size of settlement. Groups are assessed for their achievements in three core areas: Horticultural Excellence; Environmental Responsibility; and Community Participation. Over 1,600 communities around the UK enter each year, participating in their local region’s  “in Bloom” campaign. From these regional competitions, roughly 80 communities are selected to enter the national Finals of RHS Britain in Bloom.Last year ‘Belper in Bloom’  was selected to represent the East Midlands in the Large Town Category in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Britain in Bloom UK Finals.

Andrea Van Sittart, RHS Head of Community Outreach, reacted by saying: “Congratulations to Belper on reaching the UK Finals of this year’s RHS Britain in Bloom campaign. To represent their region on the UK stage is an incredible achievement and shows they are already at the top level of community gardening, going the extra mile to improve their local area and make it cleaner, greener and more beautiful for everyone.”

Belper has numerous  volunteers and groups who get involved with the towns involvement in Britain in Bloom. These include Belper Gardening Group, Transition Belper, the Open Gardens Team, Belper Goes Green, Friends of the River Gardens, Guides, Brownies, Scouts, local schools and for the first time this year St Peter’s Parish Community Garden. As well as volunteers, the staff at Belper Town Council and Amber Valley Borough Council, will be working to make Belper bloom. Once again this year they will be planting thousands of bedding plants in the parks and planters in and around the town, putting up hundreds of hanging baskets, keeping Belper Railway Station and the grounds of Strutts looking beautiful and keeping the Parks, Wyver Lane and other Nature Reserves accessible and well maintained.

This year as part of the town effort the Belper Woollen Woods are asking  local people who can knit, crochet or felt to make flowers which will be used to brighten up part of the route that the judges will walk along.Belper is a fantastic town full of residents willing to be part of Community events. So I am asking everyone who reads this to help make flowers for the Belper in Bloom Group. There are plenty of free patterns on the internet that can be used for events such as this.

I am a knitter so I am adding a few quick and simple knitting patterns to this blog post. However flowers can be crocheted or made out of felt.Flower OneOne main colour of DK Yarn (A) and a small amount of a different colour for the centre of the flower, (B). Needles size 3.25 (10)

Body of Flower Using Col A Cast on 60 stitches
Rows 1 –10 : K2, P2 across whole row. Row 11 : Knit 2 stitches together across the row (30 sts).
Row 12 : Slip 1 stitch, Knit 2 stitches together then pass the slip stitch over… repeat across the whole row (10 stitches).
Break off yarn with long tail and thread back through remaining stitches and pull tight. Join edges with mattress stitch

Centre of Flower Using B, cast on 20 sts, knit 2 rows, cut the yarn and thread through all the stitches. Pull the thread tight and sew base to the centre.

Flower TwoUsing 3.23mm (10) needles and DK yarn, cast on 160 sts, Knit two rows. Next row: Knit two together across the row (80 sts), Knit the next row.

Knit two together across the next row (40 sts), Knit the next row.

Knit two together across the next row (20 sts), Knit the next row.

Knit two together across the next row (10 sts)

Break off yarn with long tail and thread back through remaining stitches and pull tight. Join edges with mattress stitch.

The flower will naturally curl to make an interesting shape.

Flower ThreeUsing 3.25mm (10) needles and DK yarn, cast on seven sts

Row 1: knit,  Row 2: Knit 1, kfb k to last two sts, kfb, k1. (9 sts)

Row3:as Row2. (11sts),     Row 4: as Row 2. (13 sts)

Rows 5-8: knit,    Row 9: Knit 1 (knit two together through the back of the loops) twice,   k to last four sts, (k2tog) twice. (9 sts)

Rows 10-12: knit,   Row 13: (k2tog through the back of the loop) twice, k to last four sts, (k2tog) twice. (5 sts)

Rows 14-16: knit,    Row 17: knit 1, slip 1,k2tog, psso, k1. (3 sts)

Row 18: knit and then Cast off.

Make three or four more petals to complete the flower.

Sew lower sections of petals together by threading a length of wool through all five petals and pull up tightly.

Centre of Flower Cast on 20 sts. Knit 2 rows.

Cut the yarn and thread through all of the stitches and pull to make a circle, sew onto the centre of the flower.

Flower FourUsing DK yarn and size 3.25 (10) needles cast on 86 sts. Knit 2 rows.

Last Row, (Knit 2 sts, cast off 12 sts) repeat this across the row.

Cut the yarn and thread through the remaining stitches and pull up to make a flower that looks a bit like a daisy. Put in a few stitches to hold in place.

Flower Centre Cast on 20 sts. Knit 2 rows. Cut the yarn and thread through all of the stitches and pull to make a circle, sew onto the centre of the flower.

It would be fantastic if lots of people would help with this effort and we do not have very long before Britain in Bloom. The completed flowers can be left in a box in St Peter’s Church Chesterfield Road, Belper or given to me Anne Clark

If you would like to print off the patterns here is a PDF Flowers

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. Continue reading Up-Cycling and Mending