Tag Archives: mending

Mending – a Radical Act of Value

Another Vlog post is up.

Josh (having listened to my rants on long journey’s far too often!) suggested that I talk about some of our values and philosophy behind our choices.

So I did…

 

Tales from Westwick Episode 1

I’m experimenting with the form and trying out a few you tube videos – little diaries of what we are up to.

 

 

I’d love to know what you think so please check it out and if you feel like it then like and subscribe.

This is episode 1 and episode 2 is going up shortly!

Show Notes:

Book I mention…The Radical Homemaker by Shannon Hayes
Dinosaur jumper pattern – by Linda’s Knitwear Designs
Yarn – Cascade 220
Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn (I got the company name wrong in the video, sorry!): Awesome Aran in the Suffragette colour way

Spring is bringing back my mojo.

IMG_0160

Greek Salad on our first outdoor meal of the year!

I am still in that third trimester funk of discomfort and exhaustion, I am still totally jealous and incredulous marvelling at all the homesteading, home schooling, art mama blogs I read from women zipping around managing 3 children with a 4th on the way who seem to fit triple the amount of stuff in a day that I do. I ration myself on them so I don’t get too blue about how little I seem to accomplish beyond keeping my son reasonably clean, away from the kitchen knives and well fed.

But in the last few days my energy levels have increased a surprising amount.  It might be the sunshine, it might be the impending deadline of Baby but I think it might be having gestational diabetes.  I have eaten refined sugar in 3 weeks and I think it has really levelled out my energy levels.  Hurray!  Silver linings!

I have completed projects!

2 baby cardigans knitted, blocked and bedecked with buttons (photos to follow)

1 pair of mended trousers for R

1 baby hat (corrected from the disaster here)

1 giant maslin pan full of homemade stock (which cleared 3 chicken carcasses out of the freezer)

18 Cheesy courgette muffins made with R (I want to do more cooking with him – so far going well)

3 portions of Lasagne for the freezer (for Babygeddon)

1 session of painting with R (I feel guilty if I’m too tired to have art time with him)

Work trip to Newcastle (which I totally survived)

With help from family I reviewed all my current baby clothes and sleeping sacks.  Worked out the gaps in my collection and decided to cast on for a quick red cardigan in lightweight wool just in case it is a chilly May when they arrive… And then I did some shopping (online because getting into an actual shop these days is more effort that it is worth!).

First up ‘The Creative Family’ by Amanda Blake Soule – full of ideas and projects that I love.  I’m mostly being good and plan to update my BIG LIST rather than feeling like I have to make them all NOW, NOW, NOW.

Although I’m tempted to make R a felt crown from the book using the same design as Max’s Crown in “Where the Wild Things Are’. I think he’d like that for his birthday and it would be easy to run up on the machine before the baby arrives…

IMG_0161

Second (ordered all the way from Australia!) Rhonda Hetzel’s new book ‘The Simple Home’.  You can’t get it in the UK so it had to come from the other side of the world.  But I’ve read her first book (and blog) so many times I realised I had to have this in hard copy. I’ll be reading it with a pencil and stack of post it notes, marking what I want to make as I go.

Lastly the yarn I need to finished a pair of navy socks for a friend has arrived.  I have struggled to knit with this yarn.  It make my hands cramp up something fierce.  But I want to get these off my back and I’m over half-way through the second sock.  I CAN get this done before B- Day, I know I can.

I’d love to hear about anyone else spending their third trimester lying on a sofa feeling like they barely have the energy to make a cup of tea.  It would make me feel less alone 🙂

Mending, Mending, Mending

I’m having one of those months where the pile of mending is definitely growing faster than I can manage it.  Which has got me to thinking about mending a lot…

So far I’ve finished:

1. Sewing a busted seam on R’s swimming costume

2. Sewing a busted seam on R’s PJs

3. Sewing two busted seams on Josh’s green cabled  jumper

4. Sewing a busted seam on my PJ bottoms

(Sensing a Theme right!)

5. Darned 4 socks with about 8 to go more holely socks.

6. Invisible mending on my best jeans 3 times (and they have just blown a forth hole – totally my fault, I thought that my last patch was too close to the hole, turns out… it was!)

Which leaves darning my lightweight Spring jumper, sewing a seam on R’s duffle coat, patching my other PJ trousers, patching Josh’s black jeans, patching my combat trousers and patching another PJ top of mine.  Oh and probably a whole load of horrors lurking that I haven’t found yet.

Most of these items I’ve had for years (that PJ top, did about 20 years hard service in my normal wardrobe first! before it got downgraded to PJs). Sometimes I bought them second hand expecting a fair amount of wear and tear in them. But others, like R’s duffle coat were brand new – worn once or twice at most before the seams split. These were not cheap throwaway clothes from Primark or Tesco but brands you would think better of like Marks and Spencer. There is only so many times I can mend those items before it gets me down.

If you are reading this blog then I probably don’t have to tell you why I’m mending.  But just in case… the short story is that I don’t believe in throwing away useful things, I don’t really care if people see me wearing patched jeans (because I’m lucky enough that any judgement they make doesn’t really affect me) and I don’t want to waste money buying clothes I don’t need.  But it is exhausting sometimes.  I don’t really mind mending all the socks – I knitted them in the first place and the mending maintenance is expected (socks often last several years round here before a darn is needed) – but I am angry that brand new clothes seem to fall apart with a harsh look. Believe me it isn’t because I’m washing them at 60 degrees!

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this post – I think it is a shame people don’t mend clothes much anymore but part of me empathises with them, mending is endless with the poorly constructed garments available today.

I’m just going to drop a few useful links on mending down here – to make this post slightly more useful and slightly less like I’m just having a rant for no reason 😉

– There is a huge amount of amazing resources in Jen’s Make Do and Mend website here.

Repair Cafe, a fantastic movement which is connecting people who can mend with people who need mending to happen!

This is the you tube video which taught me to darn socks about 7 years ago (it is still a great video and the only technique I use).

Denim Jeans – Invisible Mending (Almost)

Following on from my experiments in patching here and EcoThrifty’s slow fashion challenge, I decided to tackle the 3 pairs of jeans with holes in the knees.  I knew I’d saved them for something 😉

I’m really pleased with the results and this is how I did it.

Tiny tiny stitches. As if made by mice.

I’d looked at a couple of different online tutorials and even bought the embroidery foot attachment to do it by sewing machine.  Then in a fit of enthusiasm (I can’t remember why) I decided to do it by hand.  This was a much slower process but gave much better results.

You will need:

Patching needs a patch.

Patching needs a patch.

Spare denim for patch

Thread in a similar coloured thread to the denim

Sharp needle

Small embroidery hoop

Pins

Choose your weapons!

Choose your weapons!

1. Pin the denim patch on the inside of the trousers with the right side of the patch facing the wrong side of the hole. You should be able to see the right side of the patching material through the hole.

2. Then stretch the denim over an embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taught and even throughout the mend.

You can just about see just under a half of the patch has been stitched on the left of the photo.

3. Sew vertical lines of small running stitches up and down the patch, securing it to the original denim with lots of small little stitches.  For material this thick running stitch works fine.  Just don’t pull the stitches so tight the material buckles. If you look very closely in the above photo you’ll just about be able to see my rows of stitching on the left hand side of the patch.

4. Once you have covered the whole of the patch with lines of closely spaced running stitch turn the jeans right side out.  Use more hand stitching to blend the edges of the hole and any bits of frayed fabric until it is hard to discern where the edges of the patch are.

If you don’t have any spare denim to make a patch then you could consider sewing up one of the back pockets of your jeans and cutting a patch out of the fabric in the back layer of the pocket which won’t be seen.

When I showed the jeans to Josh he couldn’t see the patch at all at first.  Success!

This mend took a lot of time and effort.  But it was worth it, partly because I got a real buzz out of doing such a great job (no false modesty here!)  Secondly because it is one of the small steps I’m taking against throw-away fashion.  If we mend our clothes they will last longer, then means we can afford to buy fair trade, organic cotton and more expensive clothes which will in turn last longer.  Not everyone can afford to buy more expensive clothes and every choice you make for yourself and your family is personal so this isn’t about judging anyone’s choices but my own.

But I can’t buy clothes which I know are made by people who don’t get paid a fair wage and have to work in dangerous conditions, use cotton grown using farming practices which are unsustainable.

 

Full Steam Ahead

Yesterday I wrote about a number of minor setbacks catching me on the raw.  Thankfully they were all silly and minor but obviously minor things don’t always feel that way.

I was determined to make sure I had a great day today… no matter what! I made sure of it 🙂

Golden Sweet Mangetout - so close to being ready!

Golden Sweet Mangetout – so close to being ready!

Firstly our roof was fixed.  It has been leaking for ages, we have been through many temporary fixes and this time I think we have cracked it.  Fingers crossed.  Getting the work done was simple, quick, painless and not too expensive.

Secondly it was Transition Chesterfield’s repair cafe today.  I didn’t sit on the repairing crew this time (next time I’ll volunteer for clothes mending).  I won’t say too much about it as I want to do a separate post on the whole Repair Cafe (which was awesome!) but I got most of my bike fixed (and I know what is wrong with the rest), I got told what was wrong with an old bottle steriliser (should be simple to fix once we get a small part) and I came away with 2 replacement courgettes, and a bag full of denim scraps for patchworking and mending some of our own jeans.

Big basket of denim scraps and a nearly mended steriliser.

Big basket of denim scraps and a nearly mended steriliser.

Then we walked back in the sunshine and I took a quick break before hitting the garden… and hitting it hard!

I potted out the 2 courgettes from C, 4 tomatoes, 1 mountain mint, 1 french tarragon.

Lots of tomatoes - really tiny still but I'm hoping they'll make it.

Lots of tomatoes – really tiny still but I’m hoping they’ll make it.

I sowed 4 pots chives, 2 pots summer savory, 2 pots of basil, 1 pot of bergamot.

Lots of mint - all safely tucked up in pots.

Lots of mint – all safely tucked up in pots.

I’m starting everything in pots because it is easier to protect them my Nemesis – the slug!

Then I had a quick visit to the pig pen and admired my mangetout and redcurrants – they are both so very nearly ready and looking grand!.

Dark skies, red currents.

Dark skies, red currents.

AND I got another sock mended. Back down to 10 socks to mend.

Catching you on the Raw…

“Catching you on the Raw.” It’s a funny little phrase we have in our family for describing something minor which happens when you are already feeling low and spirals into something which feels much worse than it really it. Or when lots of little things add up and you get the same effect.

Today things have been mostly catching me on the raw.

I know I am lucky that we have a decent income and don’t depend on our tinyholding to feed us.  I’d like to source most of our veg from the tinyholding but we don’t have to and on some level I know we need to build up slowly to get where I want to go.  But as I sit and watch a million and one prolific and abundant vegetable plots emerging throughout blogland at this time of year I will admit to feeling tired, jealous and a little down.

I decided I would write a post about the days it goes badly – with all the glorious bad pictures, because otherwise blogland can look unattainably perfect. Once I’ve put this all out there I can pick myself up, plant some more seeds and move on.

Thing the first… bread making

See that white stuff, that is a flour crust on a loaf with the texture of a brick.

See that white stuff, that is a flour crust on a loaf with the texture of a brick.

We make all our bread in a bread maker.  Maybe one day I’ll get back to handmade bread but for our current lifestyle (read: busy chasing a baby down every 5 seconds – how can he crawl so fast!!!!) a bread maker is perfect.  We can time it so that it is fresh and ready to eat when we get up and we still avoid eating any bread which has more than 5 ingredients in it (unless we add something weird like sun dried tomatoes or raisins!)

But sometimes the bread maker doesn’t work and this is the “bread” you get.

The kneading part of the programme failed and when that happens in a bread maker you lose the whole loaf – you can’t rescue it as you might with hand kneading.  Mostly our bread maker is reliable.  But sometimes it isn’t.  Annoyingly I’ll have to make another loaf to check if it was a one off or a wider problem and risk wasting more ingredients. It also mean another guilt ridden trip to the expensive mini-tescos.  Gah!

Thing the second… Slugs

 

This *was* my biggest and best Cavelo Nero.  I'm hoping she can recover and survive.

This *was* my biggest and best Cavelo Nero. I’m hoping she can recover and survive.

I know I’ve been mentioning my hatred of them on this blog for sometime.  But this morning when I went to feed the pigs it was just a disaster.  The brassica patch (the largest part of the veg patch this year) has been decimated.  Maybe some of the seedlings will pull through but I just wanted to cry.

All over the place everyone’s vegetable gardens look amazing.  Mine looks bare, with plants that are struggling to get established or half eaten.  The peas and potatoes are doing fine but everything else looks terrible and just today I have been struggling to maintain optimism about it. I’ve been growing veg on and off for a while, so I can’t claim to be a beginner but it just looks like I don’t know what I’m doing.  This morning all I could see was all the time, energy and money (on seeds) which was totally wasted.  I’m not even keeping a tally of what the slugs have eaten now it is too depressing and measured in whole packets of seed gone to waste, I can literally cost out how much money they have eaten.

Thing the third… holes in socks.

 

tiny hole - still takes 30 mins to fix!

tiny hole – still takes 30 mins to fix!

I’ve a big post planned on darning socks.  I had a pile of 12 pairs to mend a couple of days ago and managed two pairs in the last two days getting the pile down to 10.  As of this morning it is back up to 11.  Darning feels never ending at the moment.

I’d be able to take more joy in the simple work if a) there wasn’t so damn many of them! and b) the bread and the slugs.  But when I get through the whole pile I will feel amazing.  So I guess I have a date with a darning mushroom again tonight.

I know I need to get back out there and sow some more stuff.  I know the only thing I can do is push through this, keep going, plant more, put down more slug traps, go out in the evening and pick them off one by one.  I know gardening is a slow process and what happens this year will be different to next.  I know I just need to have faith.  I’m just glad that I’m not having to rely on it to feed us.

I’m not looking for advice, I just wanted to write out the frustration . If this blog is going to be worth anything to me I need to write the bad days along with the good days.

I’ve got a 101 solutions to try next year.  But sympathy is much appreciated.

I did eat my first peas today.  A little early but sometimes you need a pick me up!

yum yum!

Variety: Hatif d’Annonay.