Archive for the ‘weaving with milkbags’ Category

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.

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.

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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All gone …

Well, it took more than a few weeks to finally pick up all the boxes of new milkbags from Mr McLaren’s. But it’s done. For the Ottawa area, that means we have a lot of supplies available for more than just our Barrhaven group. Lots more! Again, we thank Mr McLaren for the use of his trailer over the past half year, for his having driven 450 to 500 mats and bags down to the CFFC’s Mississauga warehouse, for bringing back 71 boxes, and for his patience while we were finding homes for those boxes. And thanks also go to the many people who drove out over the Christmas holidays, not always on the bright sunny days (!), to then store them in their basements.

Unlike our huge windfall of new bags from ProSoya last July, where each full box contained 2,400 the same bag type (colour, style), these boxes are like Christmas surprises. Not all boxes have the same type of bundles, not all bundles are full (400 bags), and they’re from a variety of manufacturers: Beatrice, Dairyland, Natrel, Neilson, Northumberland, Quebon, Sealtest … a really nice mix.

For weavers, here’s a chance to try out different colour combinations and techniques for making stripes … plaids … is it even possible to weave vertical strips?!  I’d love to post pictures of what you come up with!

For supplies, contact me directly: cthiele@ncf.ca .

Milkbag weaving workshops

Milkbag weaving workshops being held in the Orleans (east) side of Ottawa:

  • second Thursday of the month (once a month)
  • 6255 Cumorah Dr – Church of Latter Day Saints
  • 6:30pm to 8:30pm
  • contact: dduvalconway@gmail.com

Danielle-weaving-workshops-info_image1

 

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.

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