Colours in weaving milkbags

I haven’t talked about this before — but the whole concept of making striped mats, which we’ve been applying to our crochet’d sleeping and sitting mats for years, can also be done when weaving with milkbags. And of course, the stripes are in the horizontal direction, not the vertical.

Because the warp (the vertical stringers) aren’t visible once the weft (the stringers going from left to right and back again) is worked, there’s no need to do any special colour work — it’ll just be buried! So use up colours you don’t care for or have too many of (hello, Neilson navy blue!) for the warp.

Now you’re starting to weave. Since the woven milkbags are quite puffy, stripes need to be fairly large in order to show — so don’t go trying to make multi-coloured plaids! If you’re using just two colours, the stripes can be the same width or varied — I’d be inclined to say that a 10cm wide stripe is about the minimum. How many mats would that take? Oh — that depends entirely on how you weave: how slack your rows are (think of the weft stringer going up and down like a sea serpent — don’t pull it tight!), and how tightly you `comb’ the weft, pulling the just-woven rows towards the already-woven rows, to make them sit snugly against one another. Not too tight — you end up with a mat that’s at least 5cm thick and very rigid! Not to slack either — you end up with a two-dimensional flat sheet of plastic, which has no cushioning value for a sleeper!

Anyways, back to colours. I don’t have have any photos to show right now but will add them as soon as I can. Or you can post your photos to add to the story.

If you’ve got another way to use colour when weaving with milkbags, add your comments (and a photo!), to give people more ideas to play with.


Storage and transportation

Well, hello there, everyone. It’s almost a new year — 2018 — and we’re still looking for some long-term storage and transportation options for the Ottawa area.

Destination? The CFFC warehouse in Mississauga (CFFC = Canadian Food for Children). Deliveries have to be made before noon, weekdays. That’s a tough sell for anyone in Ottawa driving down — it takes at least till noon to get there! So it’s usually when someone’s visiting family and can then drive the mats/bags over to the warehouse in the morning. But a family trip usually means only 10 or 15 mats can be taken along … while we have hundreds of them, stored in our basements and spare rooms.

The dream? To have something like a transport container that’s available perhaps 4 times a year for drop-offs: we provide volunteers who’ll be in attendance for x number of hours that day, making sure mats and bags are stacked nicely.  And once it’s full, then a transport company that would be willing to take that container to Mississauga — and bring it back empty!

Yup. That’s the dream. Might not be possible for one company to do it all. But if there was one company with a container we could access, and another company that would be willing and able to haul that container to/from Mississauga …

The reality? The Milkbag Project is a grassroots endeavour — there’s no formal entity, there’s no NGO, there are no support funds from any gov’t agency. This is a total 100% volunteer activity. And all that great volunteer activity of collecting milkbags, to keep them out of the landfills,  of crocheting and weaving them into useful items that are needed so desperately in many countries — that all kinda grinds to a halt, waiting for random acts of kindness from yet more volunteers to get them from our homes into the hands of groups like CFFC, who have all the infrastructure in place to do the actual shipping.

Storage and shipping truly are the missing link in this story.

Here in Barrhaven alone, we’re adding some more schools to the weaving side of the Milkbag Project — they are so keen to start using milkbags collected by their students. If only we could find some equally keen — and benevolent — people to help with the stages that come after the weaving (and crocheting) of mats and bags … !

So I hope that perhaps this message will get passed around — by anyone who might know someone … who might know someone … 🙂

Along with good health, this is my biggest wish for the coming year.

Happy New Year, everyone!  Bonne Année à tous.

Successful shipments in July

Mat shipments have been very successful. Thank you to these most gracious volunteers, who’ve been willing to store and transport mats from the many individuals and small groups throughout the Ottawa area.

Mr McLaren took at least 350 mats down to CFFC’s Mississauga warehouse on 20 July. His
trailer, however, is no longer available, so please do not take anything over there until further notice.

> The mat delivery went well and they’re still very welcome but my
> trailer is being used for other things for now so I don’t have
> any space available for mats at my house.
> James

His mention of `they’re still very welcome’ refers to CFFC still welcoming the mats.

A few days later, Eva Downey took 42 mats down to the Peterborough area, handing them over to Marg and Bill, who were then taking them the rest of the way, to Mississauga.

A huge thank you, as always, from all of us, to these fabulous volunteer drivers!


Transportation dates!! Deadlines: 19 July; 23/24 July

In the past 24 hours, I’ve had word of two transportation options coming up in the next 10 days:

1. 19 JULY deadline for Mr McLaren’s trailer — as many mats and shoulder/tote bags as can be delivered:

> Hi Christina
> I have to go to Toronto next Thursday, so the milk bag mats are
> going with me! The trailer is now almost completely full but if
> any completed mats are still out there people can bring them by
> my house anyway – the truck can hold quite a lot of them as
> well.
> —
> James McLaren

Address: 2459 Carlsen Ave., just off Heron (between Riverside Dr. and Bank St.)


2. 23/24 JULY deadline for Eva Downey’s trailer — limit of 40 mats:

> Christina –  Would 40 mats from you people be of any help. If
> so, we could accept them anytime. We leave on the 25th.
> Evangeline D.

Address: 5374 Downey Rd. (south of Earl Armstrong Rd, via Limebank and Rideau Rds.). Second house (white) on the right.


If you could post a comment below, saying how many you’re taking to which trailer, I’ll keep track.

As soon as Eva’s load has 40 mats, I’ll send word to everyone that her limit’s been reached and all remaining mats and bags should go to Mr McLaren’s trailer.

Wow! Two chances to get our mats and shoulder bags down to CFFC’s Mississauga warehouse before the end of July!! As they say, an embarrassment of riches :-))

Huge thank you’s to both of you for offering to take along our mats and shoulder bags in your trailers!

Net Neutrality under fire again

This post is going to be different. Nothing to do with my interests — everything to do with your access to my blog on the web.

There is a fundamental principal to the internet — that all access to any content be handled the same way.

This principal is elaborated far more elegantly and in more detail here and here.

I’ve added my voice to the call for support tomorrow, July 12, an `internet-wide day of action’. I’ve done this because I not only “consume” material on the web, with this blog I’m contributing to web content. And I do not accept that anyone’s access to my musings and interests be subject to any kind of financial or technical filtering — or even complete blocking — by any company whose existence, by definition, requires their self-interest to be their prime purpose.

Here’s what I’ve written to the American FCC (U.S. Federal Communications Commission), using a bare template from the first of the two reference links above:

I would like to add my voice to oppose any repealing of the 2015 ruling regarding Net Neutrality.

The web is the ONLY way to ensure that people with no other means of communicating, no other means of learning, no other means of being part of the community of man, have free and clear access to others, without interference from corporations who intend to determine levels of access, degrees of information, and the one true medium for freedom — by monetary gate-keeping. No company should have control over such a fundamental tool that is available to every single person on the planet. No company — or government — for that matter, should be allowed to exert controls over the internet.

Thank you for reading this letter — and I hope also that you will take the time to consider what the internet means for people everywhere in the world. It is a tool that must remain available to everyone, WITHOUT any corporate control.

What you are proposing is NOT a RETURN to `Internet Freedom’ — we’re already there, so there’s nothing to return from. The name of course is typical 1984 double-speak — it is the REPEAL of Internet Freedom that you are proposing. And that is unacceptable.

Ch. Thiele
Ottawa, Canada

If you feel strongly about the subject, go ahead and use this link to express your opinion as well. 

What to do with my milkbags?

This question has come up a few times recently. I’m in Barrhaven, so I can only speak about our area. Milkbag supplies seem to ebb and flow … and right now, we’ve got overflow! More than enough for our groups and local schools.

However, that’s little help to people who have been collecting and don’t want milkbags to go into the landfill. So I’ve done a little searching (aka googling 🙂 ), and found the following links for the Ottawa area:

That’s right — that last entry is from the City of Ottawa itself … even though the city does not allow plastic bags in their recycling blue box. Check out the list — and you’ll see that foremost of all are Metro grocery stores.

Here in Barrhaven, our Metro at Strandherd/Woodroffe has a large blue bin in the front area where the grocery carts are. Plastic bags are not just grocery bags and milkbags; as long as it’s stretchy (but not the cling-film/saran wrap stuff), it’s a plastic bag. So — bags for breads and buns, bags for veggies and fruit, the plastic wrapper around juice box packs and other mass-quantity items, cleaned ziploc deli bags, …

Put an empty plastic bag on your kitchen counter and you’ll be amazed at what’s in it by the end of a week!

As I said at the start, the supply of milkbags (at least for us) ebbs and flows. At some point, we’ll have gone through our supplies and will once again put out a call for bags. But for now, we have more than enough here.

ON THE OTHER HAND: If you or your group need bags, why not post a comment below, with your contact info. That way, those with bags can get in touch with you. Our goal, no matter what our supply status, is to ensure that these marvellous milkbag resources don’t go into the landfill. Sharing our information is the best way to match supply and demand.

Drop-off location now available

PLEASE NOTE: this location is now closed (as of August 2017).

Mr McLaren has once again invited us to use his trailer to drop off finished mats and bags. We can’t thank him enough for this continued generosity!

Location: 2459 Carlsen Ave., Ottawa (just off Heron, between Bronson and Bank).

Map: click here for a .pdf map to print.

Google map:–YywAw . Note that there are tree branches overhanging the street sign (south side of Heron) so you may want to do a `Satellite’ view of the Google map.

PLEASE REMEMBER to note your delivery details on the sheet inside the trailer door.

Here are some photos (courtesy of Jan Willis) of a 21 April delivery — adding 25 to the 78 already there (total 103). We’re off to a terrific start this spring!

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