Archive for the ‘general crochet info’ Category

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!



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.

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.

Next meeting for milkbag crocheters — Nov. 11

The next meeting for people who want to learn how to crochet milkbags — or just come and be with other like-minded crocheters 🙂 — will be on Nov. 11, from 1 to 3pm, at the Woodroffe/Strandherd Metro store (the store will be closed until 12:30, to observe Remembrance Day). We meet in the small cafe, tucked in behind the Take Out Food counter; follow the signs.

While it’s always nice to have your own (sharp) pair of scissors and crochet hook (size 8 or 9mm — this link shows comparisons of UK/Canadian, US, and metric sizing),  we will have these on hand, to get you started. And, of course, we have plenty of milkbags, already sorted by colour. If you do have milkbags, bring them for the Metro’s plastic bag recycle bin — no need for any milkbags to ever go into the regular garbage!

We have samples of sitting mats (roughly 2 x 2 ft), sleeping mats (3 x 5-6 ft for adults, 3 x 4 ft for children), and shoulder bags, so you can choose what you’d like to undertake.

Meetings are the 2nd Monday of every month. The meeting after this will be Dec. 9.

Come out and see the surprising things that a milkbag can be turned into!

… it’s been ages since …

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything (mid-April!) and so much has been going on since then … I’ll try to do some catch-up …

  • The school milkbag club finished the year with a grand total of 19 completed mats — and 7 or 8 that are over half finished! Several students made more than one — and one had 4 mats to her credit! In all, we had a core group of almost 20 students. Congratulations to everyone who came out, for only a few months to attending all year long. The club will continue for the intermediates (gr7/8) and a high school version will also start up this fall.

17 mats in one year!

17 of the 19 mats made this year!

  • Two of the 19 club mats had already been taken down to Haiti in late April by Mr Des Garvey, one of the directors of Nepean Outreach to the World (NOW). The remaining 17 were just recently packed up, along with a sleeping mat and two shoulder bags, to become part of a shipment of clothing and such that Mr Garvey is organising for some time in Sept.
  • Again with schools: I did monthly pick-ups of milkbags collected by one of the local elementary schools. From October 2012 till June 2013, a grand total of 9,984 milkbags! The teacher who introduced collecting for the milkbag project is returning this fall. We’re hopeful that a milkbag club can be started up there — perhaps even get some of the experienced high schoolers to come in and mentor them!
  • We’re also looking into the possibility of having monthly drop-ins at a local grocery store, to promote the crocheting of milkbags: there are still far more bags than people to crochet them. More when details become available (this would be in Barrhaven).

And that’s about it — the highlights of the past several months!

Crocheting with plastic is everywhere!

Last entry, I wrote that I’d been poking around at sites about recycling plastic. Here’s one of the links I found. I think there are dozens of such sources — if you find some really good ones, pass them along!

Then, I found this link about women in a town in Gambie, who crochet plastic into small purses and other items — they do it to try and tackle the plastic bag garbage everywhere on the landscape. I’ve since sent this to someone in Uganda, and to people involved with volunteer activities in Haiti and Nigeria. i think everyone, everywhere, can find something useful to make, if they only had crochet hooks and scissors!

And if you do a google search on these words — youtube crochet plastic bags — you end up with something like 295,000 links to both videos and other web pages! Just follow a few and see what people are doing and where. It’s pretty darn amazing.

So,we’re not crazy to be wielding crochet hooks and cutting up plastic. There’s a whole community out there doing the same as us!

The school milkbag club

I haven’t written about the school milkbag club in quite some time.

A solid core group of 12-15 students comes twice a week, during second recess (many more began last October, but the overall attrition has been low). The students fetch the bin with all their kit bags, the box with supplies, and settle down to crochet within 5 minutes … well, most of them 🙂 Their work this year has been to crochet sitting mats (roughly 2 ft square), for which they prepare their own strips; their hooks are either purchased or borrowed from the school supply. Their skill level has increased noticeably and their continued enthusiasm for this project is a source of quiet pride for me. So far, we have seen 11 mats completed, with more than one from several students! A photo is taken of each student, holding their finished mat — it’s a very proud moment for both student and me.

We have now begun working on a special `club project’: a purple-only sitting mat which still be made entirely by the students, each one participating in the whole process, from cutting to crocheting. They will make the base chain, learn how to crochet back along the chain for the first row, and then carry on till it’s completed. The finished mat will serve as a tangible symbol of the club and its members, and will remain in the school for the following year’s group. In case it needs to be said: purple is the school’s main colour!

As for the milkbags in general, they come from a variety of sources: those left at our own office, and those which come from two elementary schools, where they are collected and now sorted by volunteers. Given the current labour issues, there are no teacher-led groups at those schools who could undertake any crochet projects, but I’m hopeful that some day some of our students can come along with me to teach younger students how to do more than just collect. I’d like to point out that ALL bags are collected — those which are too smelly or dirty or ripped go to the plastic bag recycle bins at the local Metro stores, while the `nice’ ones are kept for crochet work. There is no reason for any milkbags to go into the landfills.

… I’ve just spent an hour exploring YouTube videos on crochet and plastic bags … oh my! That’ll have to be another blog entry! Stay tuned …

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