Posts Tagged ‘demonstrations’

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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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.

A milkbag crochet workshop on 18 Feb.

There will be a milkbag crochet workshop at Woodroffe United Church on Wed., 18 Feb., from 9 till noon. The announcement appears in this week’s `Our Town’ column of the Ottawa Citizen:

February 18
MILKBAGS 2 BEDMATS & Totes Workshop. Free.
Crocheters needed, bring “pointed” scissors and 9mm
crochet hook. 9:30-noon. Woodroffe United Church,
2007 Woodroffe Avenue. 613-761-5921.


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.

Speed crocheting — this is insane!

I subscribe to the e-newsletter for `Crochet Me’, a magazine. Not that I have time to do crochet with `real yarn’ 🙂 I just find it interesting stuff to sort of keep tabs on. If you’re interested, here’s the website.

Signing up for the newsletter can be done by going to the bottom of the page; look for the line that starts `Interweave  Advertise …’ and the newsletters option is at the end of that line. Interweave (the parent publisher) has a lot of newsletters, so take a look around. It’s very easy to subscribe and unsubscribe, I’ve found.

So, back to the `Crochet Me’ newsletter …

A few weeks ago, there was a link to a DVD with lessons for all kinds of tips and tricks, from Lilly Chin, a well-known crocheter. But it’s what she’s doing while she’s talking that had my jaw dropping. Check this out:

Isn’t that something?!

Cutting those bags even faster!

A couple of weeks ago I came across a link at the website to a pretty neat way to speed up bag preparation.

The YouTube video is by Danielle Duval-Conway, who is the coordinator for the Orleans area:

I’ve been using this for the past few weeks, and have only found one small additional step to add — I use two more clips to hold the cut edges together, as I move from one cut to the next. I find it helps reduce slippage even more. Oh, I notice that I’m also tugging a bit with the left hand, to try and keep the bags taut as I cut up towards the top.

The other thing is to take the time to really carefully line up the bottom corners of the bags — I clip near the lined up corners at one end and then adjust the other corner, and clip near that, too. Flatten the bags towards the top tab ends, and then put three clips across the top edge, as Danielle shows in her video. The only way to make this give you even strips through all the layers is to make sure everything’s as lined up as possible.

My other observation is that 10 bags is about the most to do at the same time — after that, the layers become too hard to cut and that slippage thing starts to happen again. The `hula skirt’ of many layers (!) can then be folded into three, put into a bag, and set aside till you want to sit down and do the final cutting stage … while watching TV or something like that 🙂

I did indeed find clips at the Dollar Store — I bought both metal and plastic ones, and find the metal ones, with those extender handles, are easier to manipulate and open wider.

I think this is a great idea and thank Danielle for making this video! I find it really does speed things up: you can do a set of 25 bags with just three rounds of cutting, rather than doing 25 individual sets of cuts. And for me, it saves a bit of wear and tear on the hands and wrists, even if the multiple layers require more force. So, give it a try!

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