In this episode I’m wearing my Treysta jersey.
This morning I came across a advert for eco-friendly biros, and was left wondering why you wouldn’t just use a pencil. I’ve always been rather fond of a pencil – so much easier to put things right or just change your mind. I won’t be buying eco-friendly pens, but the ad did remind me to pop in here to update you on the unsustainable textile quandary.
You might remember that I was concerned about the micro-particles that are released from non-biodegradable textiles as they are laundered, and their impact on marine life. The questions I raised were about the textiles already in my house, and the best way forward.
Having done an afternoon of research, and consulted the hive mind (that’s you), I came up with nothing – well almost nothing. The answer seemed to be ‘it’s complicated’. The problem is that these textiles even exist at all. Once they’ve been manufactured, they’re in the environment, and there is just no getting rid of them.
With that in mind, I intend to make the most of my polar fleece dressing gown. Using and reusing it for as long as possible seems to be the best way forward. But what about the micro-particles washing in to waterways? I’ve decided to try a product called Guppyfriend. This is a washing bag that is supposed to contain these harmful fibres, so that you can scoop them out and pop them in the bin. I haven’t tried the bag yet, but will say two things. Some people will find the £32 price tag prohibitive, and most stockists are sold out. I can only hope that there will be other solutions that are more accessible. I am cynical about the effectiveness of the bag; however, I was a Brownie sworn to do my best, and right now that’s a fancy laundry bag.
I had thought that buying new things would be less of a problem, however even that is proving to be more of a shift in thinking than I’d anticipated. Finding yoga leggings wasn’t a problem. Yoga buffs are an environmentally conscious lot, and finding clothing with explicit green credentials wasn’t too difficult. Buying fabric for a work project was a little more problematic. I only needed a metre of cotton, so popped along to the quilting shop to buy local. There are other environmental issues around cotton, but at least this less thoughtful purchase is biodegradable. The item that really caught me out was a fabric advent calendar that I purchased on line without giving it a second thought. Hopefully it shouldn’t need washing.
My transition to using textiles with a lower environmental impact isn’t going to be as simple as picking up a pencil. This is going to be a journey that involves acquiring a consciousness and conscientiousness around everyday items and choices I currently take for granted.
I’d love to hear how your managing your man made laundry, and if you’re trying anti-micro-particle products. What have you found that works, or doesn’t work? And how are you finding the transition to using only textiles made from natural fibres? Are you finding there’s lots of choice, or have you slipped up like me?
There is a 10% discount on everything at Shoplouleigh until 18 November. The new enamel pins for the Stash Appreciation Society are available now.
Today I’m wearing my Swallowtail Shawl, and a cardigan that my mother knitted (for herself).
This week I finished a pair of socks, and another Buddy the Bear. This is the link for the tutorial I use for sewing soft toy feet.
There are twenty-five more sleeps till we all get to open the first window of our advent calendars! If, like me, you happen to be a knitter and have a yarn advent calendar you have good reason to be excited.
This year I’m hosting an advent calendar KAL over in the Louleigh Ravelry group. Members of the group have been swapping mini skeins all year in preparation for this KAL; however, you are welcome to join no matter how you came by your calendar. All projects are welcome too. You don’t have to be knitting scrappy frankensocks.
It is my tradition to make advent socks to wear on Christmas day. I share this tradition with a very good friend. She calls me on the first of December every year to ask how many rows of each colour she should knit. My friend can’t be the only knitter who isn’t sure how to work this out, so this year I’ve put together the Stripe-O-Meter. The Stripe-O-Meter is meant to be used along side my Favourite Sock pattern, and my Favourite Toe-up Sock pattern, however you can still use it with your go-to vanilla sock pattern.
I’m delighted that so many people want to join in this winter knitting fun with me, and hope you have everything you need to start on 1 December.
This morning I hand stitched the last little bit of binding on the Charm Pack Cherry quilt. I really love the finished quilt, and enjoyed making it, despite the long hiatus between putting the top together and making the sandwich. The break between staring and finishing this project coincided with an influx in media coverage about plastic pollution. Most of the issues these programmes raise are not news to me, but this new conversation highlighted a few things I wasn’t aware of.
Last year at Guild we had a wonderful talk about Japanese textiles from Japan Crafts, and I picked up a charm pack of beautiful Japanese prints. The Charm Pack Cherry Quilt is a fun, free pattern from The Fat Quarter Shop, and has a helpful video to accompany the pattern. It actually calls for two plain charm packs, and two patterned charm packs. I ordered a second charm pack, and made the plain squares from stashed linen. The linen turned out to be tricky to work with. The fabric is loosely woven, and likes to move about while I’m cutting and sewing. I don’t think there was a true right angle in the whole quilt by the time I finished. Having said that, it’s a very beginner friendly pattern if you use a nice stable quilting cotton.
The wadding is Quilters Dream Green, which is made from recycled bottles. I quite like this wadding because it’s durable and easy care, and I had thought that giving a plastic bottle a second, longer life was the right thing to do. But it’s this element that has got me thinking.
There are quite a few of these types of textiles in my home. Fleecy dog blankets, polyester pillow inners, microfibre cleaning cloths… I’ve tried to choose items that are easy care AND have a long life.
Recently I’ve learned that the tiny particles that these textiles release when washed are as damaging, possibly more, to the environment and wildlife than a complete plastic bag floating about in the sea. This revelation has thrown me into a bit of a quandary.
It’s simple enough to be thoughtful about the new textiles I buy, but what’s the best thing to do about my polar fleece dressing gown (now 16 years old), and the six year old microfibre cloths I use to clean the house each week?
Usually, I’d send unwanted clothing to the charity shop, but that just continues the cycle. What happens to textiles that go in the rag bin at the refuse centre? Is it a good idea to have these items shredded for insulation or mattress stuffing? Is the best option just to bury these textiles in landfill and hope they’ll be less harmful down there? At least they aren’t floating about in the sea. Or is the answer to keep using these items for as long as possible and not repeat the mistake?
This problem is obviously much bigger than me. While it’s apparent that we all need to do our bit, this is another situation where it’s difficult to know what that bit should be.
Are you wondering the same thing about the man made textiles in your life? What have you decided to do? Have you found any useful information or projects about the use and reuse of man made fibre? I’d love the hear.
Last month I made a toile for the Alexandria Peg Trouser. The pattern was in a post on Pattern Review, highlighted as one of the top trouser patterns for 2017. It appealed to me for the couple of reasons. Firstly, the lack a fabric flopping around the calves. I’m a pear shape, and most style guru’s will recommend a boot cut to ‘even out my hips’ and give the appearance of height. Have you ever been caught out wearing a boot-cut trouser on a wet day. They are dirt and water collectors, and are terrifically uncomfortable once damp. Secondly, I love the look of this relaxed peg style on other people. Comfortable, casual and sporty. I’ve tried quite a few ready to wear trousers in similar styles, without success – mainly because there’s either too much or too little fabric in all the wrong places. Finally, it just irritates me that my style choices are supposed to be driven from a desire to look taller and thinner.
So I duly made up a toil using an old brushed cotton duvet cover. The fit was okay, and they were beautifully comfortable. The most obvious fit problem was the wrinkling down the back of the legs. This is caused by an excess of fabric over the bottom, so I installed a couple of horizontal darts across the bottom to smooth it out. (Sorry about the truly rotten photo’s here. It’s been raining for the last few days, and my usual light source is out of commission.)
Having lounged about the house in my toile, I’ve decided not to precede. Comfy as they are, these trousers are not for me. They just don’t fit in with my tidy casual sort of style. I’d feel like I was going out of the house in my pyjamas. Having made the toile I realised that I don’t actually own any trousers with an elasticated waist. There is nothing wrong with the pattern. The trousers just aren’t my style. I’m moving on.
A few weeks ago I purchased a sweater quantity of Whistlebare Cheviot Blue 4 ply to make a cardigan. I duly swatched, and then promptly put to whole project on hold because the colour wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind. Having knitted with the yarn a little, I thought it was worth reviewing here. You can find Whistlebare at a lot of shows in the north of England, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to squish their yarn in person. If you live further afield, or just can’t make it to shows, you might be trying it out unsquished. And, in that case, it’s always useful to be able to find out more about yarn performance before you part with your pennies.
Yarn weight 4 ply / fingering; Skein weight 100 g; Fibre content 60% Whistlebare’s Cheviot 1st Shearing / 40% locally reared Blue Faced Leicester; Length 350 m; Recommended tension 32 stitches x 36 rows over 10 cm; Recommended needle 3 mm needles; No. of plys 2; Reared in Northumberland, Spun in Yorkshire, UK.
Opening my parcel from Whistlebare was pure joy! The yarn feels elastic and lofty, and has a little hailo. It smelt very slightly of spinning oil when I shoved my nose right in to it, but not so you notice while knitting. This is a smell that doesn’t bother me. It reminds me of the industrial process that natural materials have to go through in order to become consumer products. And it washes out. Cheviot Blue, in the hank, is not the softest yarn. It feels crisp, with a mild prickle. It’s also the sort of yarn that wants to cling to itself like Velcro.
My intention had been to knit the Kara Cardigan by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. This cardi has a beautiful all over lace pattern, that is simple to memorise and knit. That is the pattern you’re seeing here in my swatches. In the first swatch I used the 4 mm needle recommended by the pattern. The resulting fabric was very open, and had plenty of drape; however it was too loose for my liking. I loved the second swatch knitted on a 3.25 mm needle. The stitch pattern was still beautifully visible, the fabric still had a little drape, but it was much more stable. The yarn is a pleasure to knit with, and felt fine running through my hands
I didn’t measure my gauge before and after washing this time. Lace is always so scrunched up when it comes off the needles that it hardly seemed worth it. After washing the gauge over 10 cm of the stitch pattern was 24.5 stitches on 4 mm needles and 26.5 Stitches on 3.25 mm needles.
In the first wear test, I started by tucking the swatch in to the band of my trousers, and moved it my armpit on day two. It was itchy. Not so that I was conscious of the it all the time, like a dry skin itch that you want to apply moisturiser to later.
The yarn does soften over time. I’ve washed it three times now, with no discernible change in gauge. There is still an itchiness when I wear it next to sensitive skin, however it has more drape in the hand. The stitch pattern flattened out with wear, then sprang back on washing. This wouldn’t be my first choice for texture, however this might just be because of the 2 ply yarn structure.
And finally! My little Cheviot Blue swatch has been riding round in my armpit for two weeks now, and not a single pill! The fibre stays in the yarn, which makes me think it will wear magnificently.
I’ve since dyed the beautiful hanks of yarn I bought, and have my eye on a design for a lightweight jersey… eventually. I’m in the midst of a WIP down. For now I’m enjoying this little heap on the shelf by my desk.