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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Extending the use of one-use containers - another mad idea.

South Australia has been a pioneer in legislation to encourage recycling. We have had deposits on all drink bottles for 25 years now and on single-use supermarket bags for more than a decade.

Recently, however, I became aware of how much rubbish I generate. I tried composting my food waste on my balcony - and killed several plants before realising that it takes months, not weeks, to make compost, too long for my balcony system.

I then turned to the plastic packaging I put into the recycle bin, and into the ordinary rubbish collection each week. While some of this (such as meat trays) I can eliminate by how I shop, some, like berry containers, are not so easily eliminated (except perhaps for a few weeks at this time of the year when I could go to local berry farms and pick my own!).

I go through at least two punnets of strawberries and one of blueberries each week. I decided to see if I could find a way to reuse the containers.

I began with the idea of embroidering them - tracing a pattern on them, making holes along the pattern and stitching between the holes. I also tried using the holes around the sides of the containers to thread ribbon through and weave it. The coverage wasn't good enough - and was unlikely to be better using embroidery thread.

I decided to try a kind of fabric decoupage. I got out my bin of small fabric pieces, a pot of glue and some lacquer.

It's a relatively messy business.

The olive oil spread container that I happened to be ready to throw away proved an easy beginning.

It held its shape and looked OK.

Then for the strawberry container.

It wasn't easy to get full coverage, and I needed to be careful not to cover the edge that clips the top to the bottom.

But it more or less worked.

The blueberry container worked in about the same measure. With the help of a bit of lace, I got a bit closer to the edges in coverage.

All in all, three or four of these I could find a use for. Three or four a week is too much of an ask. These will need to go into our apartment block recycling bin and hopefully be usefully recycled. I also note that a couple of supermarkets are beginning to use more readily recycled containers - not yet, however, for berries.

Then, in November, a couple of things happened. I discovered that two supermarket chains in Adelaide collect soft plastics for recycling. This includes cling wrap, chip packets, linings of cereal boxes, bubblewrap and postbags. Then Adelaide City Council announced a composting scheme. Our strata opted in immediately. I now have a composting bin and biodegradable bin liners that I empty into a collection bin near my carpark. Between these two initiatives, I have had no rubbish go into landfill in the five weeks it has been operating.

I'm glad I satisfied my curiosity and had a go at covering these containers - but still more glad that local recycling advances have overtaken me. I can recycle the containers without feeling the need to reuse them!

I am posting this before the end of the year - mad idea behind me! More conventional embroidery projects in 2019.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Bling.

Last year I made this little fellow on the left for a friend of mine who is into penguins. I have made a few penguins for her over the years, and this one, part of a kit, fitted the bill.

This year I added a companion (green scarf, rather than red!)

My friend has this year excelled herself in the Christmas penguin theme on her tree! I especially like the little row of penguins riding on the cow's back.

One of these hearts was last year's offering to another friend who likes to decorate her own tree with hand-made ornaments.

My offering to her this year is a little stocking. These were designed to be merely an ornament, but I prefer a working stocking, so added a felt back. It's nice to add a chocolate or two.

For myself, I have this year finally completed Casper, the third beaded Wise Man. His companions, Melchior and Balthasar, have been waiting since 2012 and 2013 respectively for him to join them.

There is much rejoicing amongst the reunited Wise Men.

I'm pleased to honour their story by completing the task - but am not planning to expand into a full beaded nativity! I'm not sure I have yet found all the beads that escaped from their container down, around and under my sofa!

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts, we traverse afar
Field and fountain
Moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Happy Christmas!

Oh, star of wonder, star of might
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading
Still proceeding
Guide us to the perfect light

Here's to perfect light!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Churro cowl

It's an odd time of the year in Australia to be posting this - but I'm trying to tidy up the year's work.

After the workshop on New Mexico Colcha Embroidery in August, I decided to knit up the churro wool I had purchased so I and my friends at the South Australian Embroiderers' Guild could see, feel and smell some of the wool that forms the basis of Colcha Embroidery.  I had purchased four skeins from Southwest Wool - three in natural colours and one dyed with natural, local dyes.
Winding wool from skein to ball is challenging when living alone, but my new dining chairs came to the rescue.

I wanted to use up as much of the wool as I could in a significant project that would both serve me well and be available to show people if I needed to do more talking about New Mexico Colcha.

I opted for a cowl that I have had my eye on for a few years, from Cowlgirls.

The feel of the wool was very firm and tough. It twisted as I knitted - and needed to be untwisted like embroidery thread often does.

Nevertheless, it knitted up fairly quickly. I'm a loose knitter, and wondered a few times if I should reduce the size of my needles.

I was also unsure how this was going to feel against my skin.

The pattern, however, was turning out really well once I got the hang of it. It had a nice variation - basically in three sections, a two-row per colour rib band, a centre of bobble bands and a one-row per colour rib band. This not only provides a result interesting to the eye, but is interesting to knit.

It was also interesting to see the way the colours appeared in relation to each other. The natural grey wool appears blue, and in the narrower border, the taupe takes on a grey tinge.

I am surprised at how much I like the result. I love the colours and the overall effect.

The best surprise is how comfortable it is to wear. It is lovely and warm, flexible and feels good. I wore it all evening at home after I tried it on, because I didn't want to take it off.

Shame it's the wrong season here - I love it!

Friday, December 7, 2018

More Estense

In August I did another Estense class with Christine Bishop at the Embroiderers' Guild. I had enjoyed the Certificate Course workshop so much, and gained so much from it, that I wanted more.

We met over a Saturday and Sunday, about ten of us, all engaged and eager.

The project was a pin-cushion, with an option for enlarging it to a cushion.

It is in the lovely, rich colours of the tiles of the Ferrara region of Italy.

We made good progress in class, and I went home and worked on in the evenings. It is mesmerising and the combination of counted and drawn thread work very engaging.

I decided against a pincushion and in favour of another jewellery pouch.

I blocked it first

then folded the linen to form a pocket, lined it in silk and inserted a zip.

I have a string of pearls with a chunk of coral on the end.  The silk lining will keep pearls' lustre and the red centre of the pouch will remind me of the coral - helping me to remember what is stored inside.

A lot of fun, some learning, convivial company and a useful and beautiful item.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Embroidered shirt

I recently bought this purple cotton shirt from Dare2BStylish - a US company whose tops I really like. I have a wardrobe full of them, mostly synthetic. They are colourful, great for travelling and for daily wear in the ‘between’ seasons in Australia. For Summer, however, only cotton really works. I thought I’d try this cotton shirt in fabulous purple.

When it arrived, I saw immediately that I could embroider it. Within four minutes of opening the package I was hunting through my storage cupboard for some old iron-on transfers I knew I had somewhere. They turned up in a plastic container full of old patterns, carefully stored in plastic sleeves labelled things like ‘children’s’, ‘hats’, ‘gloves’.
The transfers I chose first were blue, which I thought might not work too well on purple. I then chose a spray of flamboyant yellow which I thought would be clearer on the purple.

I was wrong. The blue worked well - the yellow sank into the fabric and I needed to go over it with a chalk pencil! Consequently I worked these sprays first, to get as much done as I could while the chalk lasted. I used some perle cotton overdyed by the Embroiderers' Guild.

Above these sprays, on either side, I worked a simple spray of lazy daisies in 3 strands of stranded cotton.

At the bottom, I added a couple of budgerigars. These were transfers I got in a women's magazine more than 50 years ago!

I looked at lots of photos of budgerigars and decided on one blue-grey and one green-yellow.

I wanted to wear this top to a birthday party last weekend. That gave me about 9 days to finish the embroidery. I finished 45 minutes before I needed to leave home for the party! I then had to iron it (as you can tell, I took the photos before I did that!)

I do think I've gone a bit mad - but I'm pleased with the result!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Running Hare and Chair

I've been up and running on covering my chair with crewel work. Sarah, from Comfort Works, offered me $75A to have the cover altered to the right length. I appreciated the offer, but decided I didn't want the hassle of finding someone to do it, taking the cover there etc. So I set to work and altered it myself - just turning up the hem about 2" and running it around on the machine.

It's now fine. I've also been trying out bits of finished crewel on it.

I also got out the Crewel Work Company's Running Hare which I've had for a couple of years, and got to work. 

It proved lovely to stitch and worked up quickly.

The colours are inspired. I am not so good on colour, and would not have thought to put these together.

I couldn't resist trying it on the chair at the last hoop change!

It might have been better to start with the hillock, rather than finish - it wasn't easy to get the hoop smooth over the existing stitching!

Nevertheless, I finished - a lot of enjoyment, and another raggy piece to show for my effort.

 Before long, however, it was looking much better. I also blocked the crewel work sampler from the 2017 Retreat

Then came the tricky bit - stitching it on to the chair cover. It's coming along.

I have ordered a Jacobean Stag kit to go on the left of the inside. I think I will have to get some extra pieces of linen twill to fill in the gaps between the pieces - but I'll wait and see when it is further advanced.

Obsessed is again the word. I also ordered the two fire screen panels to put on the back of this chair. It's a bit mad, I think - but I'm going to really enjoy doing it!

And I really do NOT need any more cushions (nor, unfortunately, fire screens!).