Archive for the ‘picture(s)’ Category

Eco-Fair display at St Rita’s Elementary

I just realised I haven’t posted any news items and there have been things happening!

One recent event was at St Rita’s Elementary School. I was invited to put on a display and demo of milkbag weaving, as part of their school Eco-Fair (24 March). The student displays in the gym had been made by different grades, all focusing on being a more environmentally aware person. For my part, there were posters, hand-outs, cards — and, of course, samples of bags and mats, both woven and crochet’d.

Using milkbags in this way was a totally new concept to the students, so the whole process was a mystery — and ended up being hugely fascinating to them. Like all students, they wanted to touch everything — so it made sense to get them to actually weave a few strands. I’d brought along a bag of pre-made stringers (all red) and a frame with only 3 or 4 sea-green rows done. By the end of the day (2:30), pretty much half a mat had been woven!

Here’s a brief slide-show to show how it went.

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And they’re off … !

After various final drop-offs this past week, the trailer and truck filled with mats and bags has left for the CFFC warehouse in Mississauga!


There are probably well over 400 mats and bags in total, with deliveries from Barrhaven, Ottawa South, Orleans, as far away as Renfrew (!) — and many points in between. This has been a tremendous collecting point for us over the past half year and now all our efforts are on the road, heading out to help people in a lot of different places around the world. Thank yous go out to everyone involved!

Results of mid-July pick-up

To finish off the story begun in the post for 9 July (2016), mats and bags — and a few teddy bears — from both the Ottawa and Renfrew areas were loaded up and driven down to the Peterborough area. Forgot to do an actual count of the Ottawa portion, pictured below.


Mats and bags from Ottawa-area milkbag groups

Once in Peterborough, everything was transferred to yet another pair of tremendous volunteers from the Kawartha Mission, who took them the rest of the way, to the CFFC warehouse in Mississauga.

  • 173 mats, both woven and crochet’d
  • 12 bags
  • 28 sitting mats
  • 6 dresses
  • some stuffed toys

As well, there were 121 pillows but these will be have to be redirected elsewhere as there is a concern that the milkbag snippet stuffing will eventually get out of the cloth pillows (a seam breaks, the cloth rots, … ) and cause a great mess. But there surely are some other options for both pillows already made … perhaps ask around to see what they might be.

All in all, a great haul for the early summer. Looking forward to making more and then organising another shipment for the fall. Always looking for volunteers who can store mats and bags between shipments — and of course, volunteers who can drive the stuff either all the way to Mississauga or to the half-way point in Peterborough.

Weaving workshop in Barrhaven — 28 Feb. 2015

Mark your calendars – Saturday, 28 February, from 10am to 1pm, at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School (LDHSS), right in the heart of Barrhaven!

If you’ve been hearing or seeing news about using a frame to weave milkbags into mats, then register now:

(or call 613-823-3630)

Faster than crocheting – uses more bags – easier on the wrists. It’s a whole new way to make mats!

Workshop leader will be Danielle Duval-Conway. Frames based on Danielle’s design are produced by the LDHSS woodworking shop and will be available at the weaving workshop.

Come and see what weaving with milkbags is all about. If there is sufficient interest, future workshops could be organised. (For a poster, click here: workshop-28-Feb-poster; feel free to print and post!)

A-frame (D. Duval-Conway's design)

A-frame (D. Duval-Conway’s design)

Half-height frame, half done

Half-height frame, half done

Eco-Fair 2014 summary

The 2014 Eco-Fair was held at Bell’s Corners United Church on 18 October.

I thought the day was very well attended — both in terms of exhibitors and visitors. A
photo-story summary can be found here:

Milkbag Crochet Project boothThere were people stopping by our table all day long — some had already been involved; many knew about collecting bags but not what was made; many knew what was made but not where they went; and there were some people who had never heard of the whole project and kept coming back to see more … There were also quite a few children, esp. ones whose schools have collected the bags — now they have a better idea of what happens after that 🙂

Around the tables were all the different kinds of milkbags we’ve come across — I’d created this `banner’ for a school demonstration last spring and it seemed a nice `decorative’ touch to add to the tables.

Bins with suppliesAs well, there were bins with milkbags at various stages, so I could demonstrate any given step easily. As it was, there was too much traffic and not enough space to actually have people sit down and give it a try. But it was useful, nevertheless, to set it all out. The box of sets (30 or so) was useful, to show how compactly one could store milkbags — as opposed to having hundreds of them scrunched up into a garbage bag!

Display panel for posters I had three really nice poster `photo stories’ mounted on boards behind the tables (thanks to my daughter for the posters and for setting things up `nicely’ 🙂 ).

We had quite a few handouts: updated versions of the Milkbag Crochet Instructions Flyer, as well as many cards with all the websites and contact info. As well, I had a 1-page flyer (Contact info for Eastern Ontario (mostly)) on many groups in the Ottawa area and beyond, the result of surveying members of a mailing list that Barbara Eade had included me on in September (contact people for groups in many different areas). You can find the .pdfs for the posters here:

Gotta love a mascot with a sash!

Gotta love a mascot with a sash!

While we were setting up on Friday afternoon, Barbara Eade came around with a teddy-bear … crocheted … purple Sealtest bags! One of three cuties that someone had dropped off with mats … so my daughter set him up as a mascot — and I tell you, people stopped by to comment on him … and then eventually looked at the display. So — thank you, Barbara! And … if I could … I’d like to keep him for a while …:-)

Half-height frame, half done

Half-height frame, half done

Danielle Duval-Conway came with several frames, showing various stages of weaving — had a fantastic time with her! Thank you so much, Danielle! I’m going to post some photos of her frames, because she’s made some interesting innovations on the plans that are currently found on the Milkbags Unlimited website — essentially, to make the frames more space-efficient, she’s `folded’ the frame height in half … you work on both sides of the frame, which is then only half as high as the Milkbags Unlimited plans.

And then she has a version with `legs’, so that it stands like an A-frame — very clever ideas that I think will appeal to people who want to move over to weaving but perhaps find the idea of a 6-ft high frame a bit too unwieldy.

A-frame (D. Duval-Conway's design)

A-frame (D. Duval-Conway’s design)

And the mats themselves? They’re thick! Two fingers’ thick, on the edge! The trimmed milkbags are cut once, in the middle, to yield two very very wide `bands’, which are then chained together to make the strips that will be woven.

Woven mat (by D. Duval-Conway) -- it's about 2 fingers thick!

Woven mat (by D. Duval-Conway) — it’s about 2 fingers thick!

Detailed instructions will be appearing elsewhere so this is just a quickie overview. But I have to say that I really like her innovations.

A number of teachers stopped by, especially intrigued by the weaving samples and spoke with Danielle about how they might bring it into their schools. I know Danielle had been thinking of that before the Eco-Fair so I do hope it works out!

I spoke with a lot of people, actually! Including two ladies from the Woodroffe United Church milkbag group. Many used the Eco-Fair as an opportunity to drop off finished sleeping mats — as did I, with most all of what our group’s done over the past two months. I forgot to count how many mats there were … easily 50 or more mats, both sleeping and sitting … and a couple of shoulder bags.

The day’s haul.

In all, I think it was all really worth it. There are .pdf files for most all the items at the display, so if anyone wants to use them for demonstrations or displays, please go ahead … but I’d ask that a credit line to me be included 🙂 And for the 1-page list of contacts, please pass along any updates or new groups and I’ll do up a new version for everyone to use.

Poster photo stories from the Eco-Fair 2014

Here are .pdf files for the various poster photo stories that were on display at the Milkbag Crochet booth for this year’s Eco-Fair.

Moving into summer …

Well … once all the rain stops and our gardens become true green jungles … 🙂

Yeah! It’s almost summer! This is when crocheting milkbags easily takes a second seat to all kinds of other activities, so things usually slow down. On the other hand, if you’ve got children, you’re facing two months of summer holidays and may need to crochet something … ANYthing … just to get away from the `Mama! Mama!’ stuff … Either way, there will be more sleeping and sitting mats made, along with a few shoulder bags, by the time September rolls around again.

For us in Eastern Ontario, most of our crochet work is transported down by volunteers to Mississauga, where Canadian Food for Children (CFFC) has their massive warehouse. Every so often we hear about where shipments have been going; here’s a recent list (first 3 months of 2014):


I know it’s fuzzy but you get the idea — CFFC is sending hundreds of thousands of pounds of goods to many different countries. And they tell us that when someone brings the crocheted milkbag bags and mats, they’re greeted with great enthusiasm and delight. So, everything you do is very very appreciated — and shipped out very very quickly, sometimes directly from the vehicle into the next available shipping container. The CFFC website has a map and their hours of operation, if you ever want to see it all in person.

Locally, here in Barrhaven, the 2nd month of the month at the Metro (our `MMM’) continues. We now have sufficient milkbag supplies to last us the whole summer and so we are now asking that people take their milkbags directly to their local Metro’s plastic bag recycle bin. We can’t crochet them all! But that’s no reason to stop collecting milkbags! No milkbag needs to end up in a landfill. Instead of being crocheted, the recycled bags are shipped to facilities which prepare them for use in other plastic products — plastic lumber and other items made of recycled/reprocessed plastic.

So, enjoy the summer, keep crocheting those milkbags — and recycle the rest!

… 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!

Sitting mat slide show

This is a test, to see if I can get the slideshow feature to work — I’m using photos of sitting mats I’ve made over the past several weeks. I’m hoping that a slideshow will give a better idea of what playing with colour can yield.

One thing to note: each strip has a `white’ end (from the top of the bag) and a coloured end. I attach like to like: if I end with the white part, I start the next strip at its white end as well. This leads to some interesting variegated effects, as you can see in some of the bags. You just never know what you’ll end up with!

Hover over the bottom centre of the image to get navigation buttons: back / pause / forward. The captions are in white and not always easy to read quickly.

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Using colour is great fun. And it’s funny how you want to keep going, to finish one band of colour so you can get to the next — and before you know it, the mats done! These sitting mats are generally 38-40 st wide and 38-40 rows high/long… they’re almost all a couple of inches wider/taller than the 2-ft sq. target. But at any size — even the longer sleeping mats — playing with colour bands and stripes makes things go so quickly … !

Who knew plastic milkbags could give such creative scope to this ever-so-worthwhile project!

Shoulder bags — at the smaller size

Hi there. Last time I wrote, I was experimenting with the chain length that would get us to a (roughly) 16 x 16 in bag. Finally got those dimens and have written them up.

My test with a 22-stitch chain yielded a bag that was about 18-19 in. wide, so I went down to a 20-stitch chain, and that’s done the trick. Recall this is all with a no.7 hook, bags with 11 snips (about 1.25 in. wide, which is narrower than for mats), and a fairly tight tension.

So — here are the revised instructions (bag-instructions-4) and a photo with both recent tests. Left: chain 22 for an 18 x 18in bag. Right: chain 20 for a 16 x 16in bag.

Smaller bags.

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