Posts Tagged ‘crochet instructions’

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.

17 April conference handouts now available

I’ve now added links and info from the recent (17 April 2015) OCDSB Leadership Conference held in Ottawa to the page `Weaving with milkbags’ (click on tab in the bar above).

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.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

Working on your mats over the holidays

Hi, everyone! A bunch of little pointers as we wind down for the holidays and you’re working on your own … you may find one or two which might be useful reminders:.

  • remember to cut your strips wide enough — aim to make 9 cuts along the folded edge of the bag
  • before you start up on the next row, check that you’ve actually done the last stitch in the row you’re finishing
  • the loop(s) on your hook should be at least twice the diameter of the hook — to help, pinch the work just below your stitch with your left fingers (thumb and the 3rd/4th finger) to keep from pulling too hard
  • your stitches should be going under BOTH parts of the interwoven V-shape you can see on the top of each row
  • dc = double crochet = go under the V-shape, pull the plastic through so you have two loops on the hook, then fetch the plastic a second time, to go through BOTH loops on your hook — and you’re back down to one loop
  • when you have both loops on the hook, the first one you did moves you along horizontally, the second one determines the height of the row — so make that 2nd loop larger
  • don’t pull your plastic tight as you pull it through the loop or loops — the stitch won’t be pouffy … keep it loose and relaxed
  • it’s really hard to handle plastic when your hands are sweaty (!) so maybe stop for a break

And remember to have fun — this should be a relaxing activity that you pick up from time to time. If it frustrates you, time to put it down and come back later.

If you’ve got a useful tip or trick, why not add it here?

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.

A productive year

I had to finally `give up’ all the mats and bags I’d been crocheting for the past year — taking up too much space … and it was time. So I took ’em all outside a couple of weekends ago, to take a few photos of such a gaudy display in the fall garden 🙂  My tally: 2 sleeping mats, 17 sitting mats, and 14 shoulder bags … no wonder they weren’t able to hide anymore behind my wingback chair! I’ve kept a few bags back as they’re just too handy for storing supplies and teaching materials. It’s easier to see the different patterns in the mats, which were also laid out in a swirl pattern.

I’ve had fun, that’s for sure. And it’s still fun — my latest bag’s going to have a red base, some other colour for the main part, and I think red again for the top rows and shoulder straps. So, keep crocheting, play with colours, and and pass the pleasure along.

A pinwheel of shoulder bags.

Turns out my bags are larger than the recommended 16 x 16 inches … oh well!

My `bag-instructions.pdf’ file (v.3.1) starts with a chain of 24; I’m now trying a chain of 22, to see how wide that’ll make the bag. Stay posted!

A pinwheel of sitting mats.

Some mats are all in one colour, some are a grab bag. A few, I put a broad central stripe of one colour, and then another for the rest. For example, the pink bags make a really striking contrast with the dark blue ones on either side. The sitting mats are generally 40 rows — so make the colours change every 8 rows or 5 rows … as I said — just play and see how it turns out.

%d bloggers like this: