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:

http://ledroit.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx?noredirect=true

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When a milkbag project doesn’t work out …

Sometimes we make a bag or mat, either crochet’d or woven, and … well … it just didn’t work out. The rows were too tight or too loose, the edges were wandering all over the place … or we just lost interest and didn’t finish it or don’t want to try and salvage it.

Whatever the reason, we don’t want to take it to a drop-off point and pass it along — we shouldn’t pretend that “it’s good enough” or that “it doesn’t matter” or “nobody will notice”.

So — put the sad little mistake into a milkbag or grocery bag or garbage bag (all of which are also plastic) and just chuck it into the plastic bag recycle bin at your local Metro or Value Village or other store that has such a bin. Just as we’re keeping milkbags out of the landfills by making mats and bags, so too should our mistakes also stay out of landfills.

And then, when you’re in a better frame of mind, maybe start up again, figuring out how to avoid the boo-boo, and end up with a lovely finished milkbag item, one that you’d like to keep for yourself, it’s that good! The person who eventually receives it will notice — and use the mat or bag for a long time.

Video about the Milkbag Project

Here’s a video about the Milkbag Project in the Barrhaven area, which includes a plea for storage and transportation options, issues that have been mentioned a few times in previous posts.

Storage

  • In our area, we don’t have a long-term storage location where people can take their finished mats and bags. Right now, we’re using our basements, garages, sheds, local church basements, … What would be so much better would be a single location, opened perhaps 3-4 times a year for a Saturday morning, for us to drop our finished items off. I’m sure many of us could volunteer to staff such a facility, making sure things are stacked neatly, keeping a tally of everything, and then locking the place up till the next scheduled drop-off.  Ideally — a shipping container!

Transportation

  • The aim is to get finished bags and mats down to the Mississauga warehouse run by Canadian Food for Children. The difficulty for Ottawa-based transportation is that the warehouse closes at noon — pretty hard to get there in the morning unless you leave Ottawa before dawn. But perhaps there’s a company willing to haul a shipping container down there.

Essentially, we’re looking for that critical link to connect volunteers who crochet and weave milkbags into mats and bags with a charity which brings them to people who really need them.  As with so many volunteer efforts, it’s a major missing link, mainly because there’s no money to pay for storage and transport.

But perhaps there are some extra-special volunteers out there who could help bridge the gaps and make the whole undertaking flow so much more smoothly. Here’s hoping!

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.)

Map: https://chinterests.wordpress.com/2017/04/30/drop-off-location-now-available/

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.

Map: https://www.google.ca/maps/place/5374+Downey+Rd,+Gloucester,+ON+K1X+1C6/@45.2577652,-75.6401073,14z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x4ccde3cdef443a49:0x99100c8f124f21d0

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!

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