Archive for April, 2016

29 April: Drop-off for mats and shoulder/tote bags

The date has been set for dropping off your sitting and sleeping mats, and shoulder or tote bags, be they woven or crochet’d. It’ll be this Friday, 29 April, 2016, from 5 to 6 pm. Sent email to for pick-up location. You can drop your items off during the course of the day, if that’s more convenient (there’s no forecast for rain!).Thanks in advance to everyone who’s able to make this happen.

Oh, by the way … if you feel so inclined, we would welcome any donations to help defray the cost of gas for this one.

Hope to see a lot of mats piling up, waiting for the bus to take them on their journey to Mississauga and the CFFC warehouse!

A good day at the 2016 Eco-Fair

What a good day! And a very busy one, too! From 9am till 1pm, a steady stream of visitors came by the more-than-generous space provided for the milkbag project. I’d like to thank the many people who stopped by to lend a hand, to chat, to see how the weaving’s done or how to start collecting and storing milkbags, and so on. It’s always a pleasure to hear about where else milkbags are being collected and then used. For some, it’s an opportunity to see mats and bags up close for the first time and to marvel at what can be done with this simple outer wrapper for 3 bags of milk.

People dropped off lots of mats and lots of milkbags — and some even came looking for bags (always a nice change 🙂 ). A lot of interest in the weaving — how to do it — and in the frames (kudos to the LDH fine woodworking students for those). The Eco-Fair’s a great place to meet people who are actively involved in charitable work, and who actually go to places where people are in need. One group I’d like to single out is Fondation Solution Haiti Foundation, which works more in the rural areas of Haiti. In January, they shipped a good number of sleeping mats from the Ottawa area to that country. And I’d like to pass on that, at the end of the Fair, Musset and Gail Pierre-Jerome offered to take all the mats from the display (close to a dozen in all) back with them, to become part of their next shipment to Haiti! So, everyone who dropped off a mat today — they’ve already begun their journey on to someone who needs it! That it meant I had a lot less to pack up for the car was a lovely bonus for me as well 🙂

A frequent question was: where can I bring my milkbags? Unfortunately, there’s no single depot. It’s by word of mouth (there’s a group who meets in such-and-such a place, or, I know someone who … ) or by checking local schools (especially elementary) to see if they collect bags. Many do, but don’t always have the capacity to add bags from the public — their students are already bringing in sometimes 500, 800, or more (!) a month. Always call ahead to check if they’re collecting, and if they’ll take bags from someone outside their immediate school community. If not, the fact is that milkbags can also be taken to most Metro grocery stores for their plastic bag recycling bins — it’s not ideal, but it does at least keep them out of the general garbage stream. Here’s a handy link to a City of Ottawa webpage, listing Metros and other stores which take back plastic bags: There’s no date on this list, so again, it’s probably best to call first to check.

After a demo/display such as today’s, I like to post links to all the documents which go into the various handouts and posterboard displays.  My collection has grown over time, and many are simply trotted out again and again 🙂 But it’s easier for you to have them all in one place, one post, so here you go — this should cover most of the material out on display this morning.

  • bag-prep-for-weaving-updated-2016: 3-pg document that describes cutting bags, creating stringers from fat loops, loading stringers onto the weaving frame, and then where to google for YouTube instructional videos
  • milkbag-prep-flatten-and-store: 2-pg document that shows a space-saving way to store milkbags. A longer version, at 7 pgs,. then goes on to show how to cut the bags into strips, for crocheting.
  • Milkbag Crochet Instructions Flyer: 4-pg flyer with instructions on everything 🙂 … Focussed on crochet, this one has general tips, instructions for making sleeping mats, sitting mats, and shoulder bags.
  • a small card with three useful addresses:

    Main website:



I always enjoy being at this event because of the people you meet. Sure, I’m showing how to do this or that, giving tips here and there, but it’s meeting people whose own activities and interest sometimes intersect in unexpected ways with mine. And once an idea is sparked … there’s no telling what might come of it!

UPDATE NOTE (27 April ’16): Also check out the `Weaving with Milkbags‘ page for more info on past workshops and displays, and links to documents available at those events.

Eco-Fair/Rock the World with Kindness

This coming Saturday, 23 April 2016, will see the annual Eco-Fair/Rock the World with Kindness event at the Bell’s Corners United Church. Many, many displays and demos will be on site, including (of course 🙂 ) one for crocheting and weaving mats from milkbags. A few weaving frames (half-height; that is, you make two mats and then lash them together) will be available for sale (20.00); frames are made by the Gr.12 Fine Woodworking students at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School in Barrhaven.

Bring your milkbags — but please, NOT all scrunched up in a garbage bag! Please take the time to prepare them for the volunteers who then turn the milkbags into useful mats and bags. First, though, please take all the torn and smelly bags to the Metro grocery store — many of them have a plastic bag recycle bin in the front foyer (the one in Barrhaven does). We do NOT want to crochet or weave with those. What we DO want is nice clean bags to work with — so we can make nice clean mats and bags that people less fortunate that us will want to sleep on and use. A handy and economic way to store bags can be found in this handout: milkbag-prep-flatten-and-store.

One change to note: this year we CANNOT accept finished mats. There is simply no place to store them until they can be delivered to Canadian Food for Children in Mississauga. Nevertheless, we are working on a one-day drop-off for mats and bags in the Ottawa area. News will be posted as soon as details of a time and location are confirmed. So again, please do NOT bring your finished mats and bags to the 23 April event at the church.

Moving mats to Mississauga — halfway there

One step at a time, that’s how this is working out for mats coming from the Ottawa area. For mats intended for the charity Canadian Food for Children (CFFC), their warehouse in Mississauga is only open till noon — which makes it difficult if you leave Ottawa that morning. So there’s a growing network of drop-off locations that are part of the way to Mississauga. A map with 4 locations can be found here:

Sleeping mats should be rolled up and bound with 2 or 3 strips, to keep them that way. It’s the most efficient way to both move them around and to store them.

PLEASE NOTE: ALWAYS call or email ahead, to make arrangements. Everyone’s a volunteer — but even volunteers go on vacation, have other commitments, don’t have space for 200 mats at one time (!), and so on. Courtesy is our coin.

This map (courtesy of Brent Conway) is current as of April 2016.

Barrhaven milkbag crochet group

For the past several years, a group of us have been meeting in Barrhaven (Ottawa) to crochet milkbags into sitting and sleeping mats, as well as shoulder bags. Last fall we were offered meeting space at the Court at Barrhaven seniors residence. We meet on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month, from 1 to 3pm. Come and join us — to learn how to crochet with milkbags or to bring your work and be with like-mind people for a couple of hours.

Please note: this is a crochet group only and not a location for dropping off milkbags. Milkbags (and all other plastic bags, for that matter) can be dropped off for plastic recycling at the local Metro store (large blue bin in the front entry, by the grocery carts). Or you could inquire at local schools to see if they accept donations.

There will be a one-time drop-off for milkbags on 23 April, 2016, at the Bell’s Corners United Church, which is hosting this year’s Eco-Kindness Fair (iCare2016 poster print).

19 April 2016: UPDATE: Note that the 23 April event will accept milkbags but NOT finished crochet’d milkbag mats — there is no room this year to store them. Please stay tuned for news on a future drop-off time and location for the Ottawa area.

Becoming active again

There have been some updates made to the page `Weaving with Milkbags‘, to match the display/demo which will be part of the OCDSB’s Leadership Conference at the Shaw Centre, 7 April, 2016. In particular, there are links to two documents that have been updated from last year.

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