Archive for the ‘tips’ Category

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.

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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.

No pillows with milkbag stuffing, please

This is a follow-up to a comment about pillows, posted on 1 August, 2016, where I wrote that “… the milkbag snippet stuffing will eventually get out of the cloth pillows (a seam breaks, the cloth rots, … ) and cause a great mess”.

Since that time, I’ve gotten in touch with local (Ottawa) charities, as well as the Humane Society — I’m afraid no-one wants to take these pillows, with their snippet stuffing. The Humane Society, I can understand — if a pillow were to burst, the plastic would be ingested, perhaps proving fatal.

I have about half a dozen on hand, so I’ll open them, remove the milkbag snippets, and then add them to unfilled pillow cases that were made by one of our local volunteers from her stash of material. She made a couple hundred at least, when we were all very enthusiastic about the idea. And while it’s disheartening to know all that time and energy (and supplies) have gone to naught, I’m still hopeful that the cases themselves can be passed on to Value Village or some other place, for someone to stuff with more traditional materials.

There are loads of sites that come up in response to googling the words

pillow stuffing types

Here’s just one:

http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/buying-guide/understanding-filler-materials-polyfil-pellets-microbeads-beanbag-filler

Note, however, that microbeads have come under scrutiny recently. I like the flaxseed and millet options, further down on the page. I wonder if rice might also work …

In any event, I guess this is sort of like an `official’ announcement (not that I have any standing at all as an official person!) that pillows made with milkbag snippet stuffings are not being accepted, so please don’t make any more.

 

 

 

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: http://app06.ottawa.ca/online_services/recycling/items/450_en.html. 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: recyclemilkbags.pbworks.com

 Blog: https://chinterests.wordpress.com

Frames: ravenswoodworking@gmail.com

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:

https://www.mapcustomizer.com/map/MILKBAG%20MAT%20DROP-OFF%20LOCATIONS

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.

Another tweak to the many-bags-at-a-time step

This is further to the entry for 20 Feb. post, `Cutting those bags even faster!’, which is for cutting many bags at a time for the `hula’ stage.

I’d bought two sets of clips — metal with extender arms (more or less the same as those Danielle uses in her video) and also plastic ones, which don’t open as widely. So, with 12 clips available, I decided to make up 3 sets of 10 bags each, clip them carefully together, and then do all the same steps to the three sets: clip off the two corners, slit the bottoms, then proceed with cutting as in Danielle’s video.

The result: 30 bags all at the `hula’ stage in about 15 minutes, all set for when I sit down to watch TV and can mindlessly (!) cut each of them into the single long strip and start up again — another sitting mat, this time with Beatrice green and Sealtest navy blue. Should make a nice combo!

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