Friday, 29 April 2011

Leave it to the professionals

Self sufficiency is over rated. Though I instinctively admire the rugged frontiersmen and make do and menders, it isn’t just that it is difficult to be self sufficient, it’s also not that good. Interconnectedness is where it’s at.

Here’s my little-bit-of-life to illustrate the point. My P had a pair of trousers that he liked, but the zipper was broken. Somehow a few teeth were missing, so it was either throw out an otherwise perfectly good item of clothing, or find a way to replace the zip. Now, I can sew, but zippers intimidate me, and replacing zippers on trousers is just way to hard, but buttons, snaps or Velcro just won’t do. So the trousers languished, neatly folded, for around a year or two. I considered looking on the internet for tutorials on zippers, but I just knew it would be too hard. I’ll admit it here now: Not only can I not replace a zip, I will never be able to, not in my entire life. And that’s o.k.

But having an un-wearable pair of trousers just hanging around isn’t o.k. So, what to do? Pay someone else to mend them! I’d passed the sign for Suzanne’s Stitch and Sew in Stockport several times on lunch break shopping expeditions, so I knew the service was available, but somehow paying to have clothes mended felt odd, like my grandmother would be spinning in her grave. When I finally psyched myself up and took the trousers in, I was really happy with the price, the service and the end result. So, with a bit of not-doing-it-yourself, I have what I think of as a successful mending project. It’s off my to-do list and back in P’s closet; what more could I want?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Finished project: Make Do and Mend bag

Looking back, I started working on patching my Make do and Mend bag almost exactly one year ago. It feels longer, possilby because it was written on every to-do list for a year. Yesterday, I finally finished stitching the new lining in. This morning, I used it around the shops and going to the People's History Museum, and it held up just fine.

Make do and mended bag

Those aren't the bag handles sticking up- there's a brown bag with my current knitting project inside the Make do and Mend bag; the edge is just visible on the needles. The knitting hasn't been done on the bus, but I have been putting together the strips of fabric and winding it into a ball of "yarn" while commuting, and on the train after visiting a friend in Disley. It isn't easy to knit with fabric yarn, but it does feel nice.

The other side of the bag has some green and pink embroidery in a blackwork pattern.

Make do and mended bag

Overall, I'm happy with the project and I think I'll enjoy using the bag again. It did drag on. When I started, I didn't realize I would need to line the bag. The lining was hard to figure out, and I'm sure there's better ways of doing it, but at least it is done. I have a new favourite phrase (from English as she is spoke), "A bad arrangement is better than a process." It describes my crafting a bit too well.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

finished string of threads

It's been a while, but finally some progress to report. When I finally got around to cutting the toggles, I really enjoyed the whole making process, but the best bit is just having the thing done:

string of threads

Originally, I was thinking of this as a garland or banner, much fancier than the finished object which I am now referring to as a string of threads. I didn't trust myself to choose a good fabric for a banner, but simplifying it to just a white crochet chain made it feel do-able again. It does look cheerful, but the test will be if it encourages me to embroider more.

I've not been very crafty lately, on or off the bus. Some of that is just indecision. I have a real problem with using stuff up. For example, I have an idea to make a rug by knitting up some fabric strips. The internet has some fancy patterns, but I just want a simple project, preferable one without counting. So, just a simple knit, using up some of my stashed fabric (especially a particularly, um, difficult purple print), and getting a honestly useful small rug for the hall. Last weekend, I even did a little test piece, to check how knitting with fabric works (yes, it is harder than yarn, but not too difficult). I like how the knitted texture makes the fabric a much gentler colour. But rather than starting in on cutting the fabric, I started worrying that if I used it all on a knitted rug, I wouldn't be able to use it on any other potential project I may want to make in the future. Not on anything I'm already planning, but on some ambiguous possibility. This is not a helpful way of thinking. So after a week of really pointless delay, I'm going to force myself to just get on with the project. Here's a look at what I'll be working with:

fabric  yarn