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.

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 when mounting stringers — 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.

Sewing your own Face mask

In these difficult times, people are thinking more and more of wearing a face mask. To that end, it makes more sense to make your own NON-medical mask and leave the real medical masks to our very beleaguered health care workers.

Like so many, I turned to the web to see what was out there. And after viewing a great many videos, I landed on these two — which have been garnering a great deal of positive feedback, judging by the comments.

Face mask with elastics:

Face mask with ties:


I made 4 of these masks — the ones with the ties. And by the end, I had also made a few adjustments in my techniques, which I’ve written up, as I’m not really a video-producing person … yet … !


Again, as Erica in the videos cautions, these are NON-medical masks. And her pattern is NOT for commercial use.

Stay safe … wash hands … keep 2m distance … don’t go out much … eventually, things will get better. History is replete with calamities … but humanity is still here 🙂

UPDATE: I’d like to post a link to an Ottawa-based website which has re-tooled its production of sports hijabs to making face masks (these _are_ a commercial product):

Newtonville drop-off location has ceased operations

This is to let everyone know that the drop-off location just off the 401 near Newtonville is no longer accepting any mats or bags. This was just about two-thirds of the way down to Mississauga, to the CFFC (Canadian Food for Children) warehouse.

Mike Loudfoot maintained a welcome drop-off point for many people over the years, accumulating mats until his truck was full, and then driving the remaining distance. This was a crucial location, as deliveries to the warehouse must be made before noon — which is next to impossible for most of Eastern Ontario volunteers to drive. Mike’s location made short work of that remaining leg of the journey.

Thank you, Mike, for all your dedication and contributions to transporting so many of our mats and bags to CFFC from all over Eastern Ontario. You’ve never met most of us in person, but most all of us know your name 🙂 Thank you.


NOTE: There are still 2 drop-off locations I’m aware of: # 1 and #3 (Mike’s was #2). See the map here.

Donating milkbags

For those who want to collect and donate milkbags, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The bags will be touched and used by sorters, crocheters and weavers, and eventually slept on — do NOT `donate’ dirty, stinky bags, or bags with dried-up milk on them. Donations are NOT garbage — they are raw materials that will go through many hands before the finished mat or shoulder bag will be used by someone in need.
  • And since I’ve mentioned `stinky’ … keep in mind that plastic will absorb odours: from contact with other stinky bags as well as from airborne odours (from smoking or cooking). The storage tips below all focus on minimizing the space taken up by bags, so one offending bag can affect the entire collection — which then has to go into plastic bag recycling. Granted, that still avoids dumping plastic bags into the landfill — but what a waste of raw material, all because of one or two bags `infecting’ all the others.
  • Turn the bag inside out and hold it under the tap so the water runs all around and down the outside. Let it dry upside down until totally dry — a damp bag, folded, quickly acquires an odour.
  • Rejected bags can still be kept out of the landfill — there are grocery stores that have plastic recycling bins, especially where your municipality doesn’t include plastic bags in its recycling program.
  • Storing bags by stuffing them into a milkbag or other plastic bag is easy to do … but oh-so-wasteful in terms of storage space 🙂 Take the time to flatten the bag, fold in half, and then slide into another milkbag. You can get 30-40 milkbags into one bag — and it’s easy to stand up, like a file folder, taking up a lot less space.
  • Another storage option is put the bags, unfolded, into a box that allows you to lay them flat.
  • My favourite storage method: milkbags with folded-in-half bags (see above), stacked vertically in a photocopy paper box — the box is just the right width to keep adding bagged bags … you can get up to 800 or more, just by pushing the bags against one another, removing the air. We used to put just 24 bags into a milkbag — but many more can go in. A tip: stand the box on one of its short ends, add the filled bags, pushing down as each one’s added. Tip the box back upright.
  • One of my least favourite storage methods? Milkbags folded up into teeny-tiny triangles — not only does it take massive amounts of time to do each bag, but at our end (the sorters, crocheters, weavers) , even more gobs of time undoing every single one of them. Please don’t do this 🙂  I’ve heard the explanation that it’s to avoid having young children find the plastic bag but my response is: then keep the bags out of reach of children, just like anything else that has the potential for danger.
  • When donating your collection of bags, keep in mind that not everyone is as strong as you are! Spread the weight across a few boxes or bags, in consideration of those of us who aren’t what we used to be 🙂

Do you have storage tips to add? Send them in!

Left-handed crochet

Every so often, this comes up when someone new joins the crochet
group. Fortunately, we now have a left-handed crocheter who can help
— but when she started, it was just really tough figuring out how to
show her. But she persisted and now she’s our go-to person!

Of course, the internet is a great resource, so here are some links I’ve found which may be helpful:

And here’s a link that with lesson 1 of a series, all for left-hand work:


If you have a particular favourite on-line resource, send it along and we’ll add it to this post!

Happy crochet’ing!



Updated map with drop-off locations

Hi, everyone. Here’s the link to an updated map with drop-off locations in southern Ontario:

As always, please contact them beforehand, to make sure the time and day you choose will work for the person — just like us, they’re volunteers.

Thank you Angela, Mike, and Bill and Marg for being so generous with your time and your place, for staging the transfer of milkbag mats and bags down to the CFFC (Canadian Food for Children) warehouse. We are always so very grateful for your key roles in the transportation chain!

And thanks of course to Brent, who created this map in the first place.

Milkbag weaving in Gatineau school

Here’s a neat story that ran just a few days ago (7 April 2018) in Le Droit, about an elementary school in Gatineau (across the river from Ottawa), where students are weaving with milkbags:

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