I Tried Plastic Free July

I don’t know when Plastic Free July became a thing – until this year, I’d certainly never heard of it before.

But I thought it was something I could have a go at. Usually I don’t jump on bandwagons…I like to watch them roll by! The thing is, I thought this was doable for one main reason…work!

I could pack my own lunchbox for work!!

So, what did I do?

I bought myself a glass water bottle from Wilkos for a measly £2.50 and it has worked perfectly as my workplace has a staff canteen where I can refill it with either water or squash.

I also bought myself a glass pyrex lunchbox and some metal reusable cutlery.

There is only one problem with all of the above and that is the very obvious ‘But Sarah, they’re made of glass!‘. Yes, yes they are! I proved I had the reflexes of a cat ninja the other day when my glass water bottle fell out of my locker.

Overall though, the plastic free lunches worked quite well. I still had the odd bottle of Coca Cola or Fanta…it’s a heatwave kind of summer you know? So, there were a few plastic items that slipped in.

The thing I did really well was that I started recycling MORE of my plastic last month. I didn’t realise my local supermarket took in soft plastics to recycle, so on the way to work lately I’ve been dropping off a plastic bag full of soft plastics to recycle. Soft plastics such as bread wrapping, food packaging, food bags etc.

I’ve used my local greengrocers more and opted for paper bags over plastic ones.

And as always I’ve brought my own shopping bags with me (such as the one below I designed myself for my Zazzle store).

tote bag woolly orbit zazzle

So, my ‘plastic free’ July was mostly focussed on food and shopping. I didn’t go completely free as it just wasn’t possible for me then. I got sick in July and something else cropped up and I had to just focus on a couple of things.

But I still class it as a success though as I got into the habit of thinking about plastic and I actually made a start!

What’s next?

I guess there’s always health and beauty products, but honestly, I’m not ready to completely change my period products just yet!

I do have some ideas for other things though; a selection of either sewn or knitted facecloths or pads, buying shampoo bars instead of bottles, hard soaps instead of in bottles etc.

And there’s always cleaning products for the home. I’m experimenting in finding the right dishcloth pattern with cotton yarn. I find cotton quite hard to knit with, so I’m still looking for the ‘perfect’ pattern.

Such as the ones below from a couple of months ago.

I did buy more cotton yarn in different colours, so I might have a go and see what I can make.

I quite like the colours and the texture of the yarn of James C. Brett’s It’s 100% Pure Cotton DK range. Another cotton yarn by James C. Brett which I’ve used in the past is Craft Cotton which is good for cotton dishcloths. You can get it from The Knitting Network here. It’s also quite cheap for a 100g ball in my opinion!

I quite like The Knitting Network as they don’t use any plastic in their packaging. I’ve ordered from them before and can recommend them!

I’m glad I tried Plastic Free July, even if I still bought and used some forms of plastic. It just goes to show how widespread it is in our lives. It’s also given me a bit of a push to look at how much plastic I’m using in other areas of my life, such as crafting and hobbies.

But more to come on that in another post!

For now, I’m going to continue using my glass bottle and just pray I don’t drop it!


This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I could earn a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.


Advertisement

Knitting with the freebie yarn – Christmas and Rude Mice!

In the previous post I talked about using up the stash of yarn I had saved up from free yarn kits that you get with knitting magazines. Here are some of the things I’ve made so far…

I’ve been knitting Christmas stockings in July. Yep, you read that correctly!

I’ve done 3 so far and I think that’s the lot for now!

I also made a knitted bauble and a crocheted one (which I don’t think I’m going to keep – I just can’t get the decreases in the round to look good when I’m crocheting). AND I also tried to make a knitted paper chain but the first link I made looked so rubbish that I changed my mind pretty quickly on that one!

I really like the knitted bauble. I made a Christmas one last year and placed a polystyrene ball inside. This time I used toy stuffing and the result looks just as good, maybe even better as the knitted fabric doesn’t have to stretch over the ball.

So…2 baubles and 4 mini stockings are done so far.

I did also make a knitted toy mouse, thinking if the pattern was any good then I could make a few more for an animal shelter (specifically for the cats to play with)…but NOOOOOOOOO!

All I can say was before I sewed on the ears and eyes it looked REALLY RUDE!!

I’m going to save the white fluffy wool and the bit of black I have leftover…that’s pretty much all I have left.

Not bad for a few evenings knitting. I even did a few rows on my jumper.

I also bought some more yarn at my local yarn shop today. It’s so funny because for so many posts I’ve been saying things like ‘I need to stop buying yarn and use up my stash’ or ‘it’s not environmentally friendly to keep buying acrylic or other manmade fibres’.

And what do I do?!

BUY MORE ACRYLIC YARN IN REALLY FUNKY SHADES WITH NO PROJECT IN MIND!

And I’ve bought some more possible baby blanket yarn. I have plans for that.

And some plain black toy eyes.

Oh and 2 books – 1 about using up sewing leftovers into mini projects and another for knitted baby blankets.

I am getting my creative mojo back! Yay!

I know I’ve been ill for a few weeks, but I’m feeling much more productive and motivated now. I’m getting back to crafting and writing and even spent a happy hour organising files and folders, cleaning, recycling bits and bobs…you know, the sort of productive pottering around that feels like you’re procrastinating but you actually get a lot of stiff done!

The next thing is sewing! I haven’t sewn anything since Christmas and the projects are slowing piling up!

Neon Fair Isle Knitted Bag – DONE!

Yay! A finished object!

Or…mostly finished! This project seems to have taken AGES to complete but it’s done now. 🙂

I had a push for the finish line this Bank Holiday Weekend and I finally finished it Tuesday 1 June, so that’s one of my June goals finished straight away!

I knitted it with acrylic yarn with 4mm needles. And I have quite a bit of yarn leftover.

There are a few things I want to point out.

First, I used my knitting doll (French Knitting/ Spool Knitting/ Knitting Nancy) to make an I-cord for the drawstring. I used 2 strands together, both pink and purple. I’m not sure about the finished cord, it looks a bit big. I might just redo it in a single colour (maybe the neon yellow) as it didn’t take that long to do really.

Second, I don’t like the idea of knitting a strap for the bag, even though it needs something to carry it with. So, I’m thinking of using a metal chain I bought last year. I knew then it would make a good strap for a project…the only problem is I can’t remember where I put it! When I find it, then it’ll have a strap!

I LOVE the bright colours of the bag though. And black with neon colours looks amazing in the Fair Isle colour stranding technique. But it takes so long changing all the colours…

I did think about doing a cowl in these colours and a similar Fair Isle technique…but I’m going to put that on my maybe list!

Here it is below, just ignore the terrible lighting, placement, background of the photo hahaha! The colours are much warmer in real life but instead of waiting to get a perfect picture, I am putting this put there and carrying on with life!

In future, I think this type of bag would work better in the round rather than in two pieces…and maybe a bit of neon green thrown in there too?

The fabric behind it will become the lining for a denim rucksack project I’m about to sew.

Next on my needles is something that I started a few years ago and put it aside until last year, where in the summer I knitted the front of a jumper and started the ribbing at the bottom for the second piece. Bit then I put it aside for the holiday season. I’ve had a bit of a break from knitting for the past few months (ignoring the main subject of this post!) and now I want to get this big project finished. The main pattern is a simple cable lace and there are just a few things after that like sewing it together, doing a neckline and tiny sleeves.

I can definitely finish it THIS year!!

And something to finish with is the amazing skyline last night. The past few nights have been so clear, not a cloud in sight. This was taken with my phone, which doesn’t have the best camera for these types of things but look how pretty the sky was…

Day #17 – Using Up My Stash

CRAFTY 30 DAY BLOGGING CHALLENGE DAY #17

Day #17 – Using up my stash

Last year, I emptied my stash. Used it up in almost its entirety. And I wasn’t alone.

A Youtube channel called The Crimson Stitchery did a stashless 2020 project to use up spare yarn. If you look at the hashtag #stashless2020 on Instagram you will see hundreds of posts of people’s makes, with tons of ideas and inspiration as to how to use up your stash. Socks, cardigans, blankets…

So many people were forced to look at their stash last year due to the pandemic and the fact that A) a lot of people couldn’t leave the house to go shopping and buy more yarn or B) with so many people losing their jobs/ being affected financially by the pandemic in some way or other, they simply couldn’t afford to spend on frivolous new purchases.

So, people looked at what they already had in their drawers and cupboards. And it was a lot, lol! And not just wool, either, loads of little pieces were sewn as well as knitted and crocheted.

Here are 5 simple ideas to use up your scraps.

5. Fabric

-Use left over scraps to make a patchwork blanket, cut out the squares as you go along until you have enough to start making either strips or squares.

-Small Christmas decorations such as mini stockings or fabric ‘paper’ chains.

-Scrunchies and knotted headbands – Pinterest has loads of ideas for sewn headbands!

4. Wool/ Yarn

-Granny Square blankets

-Hats, scarves, cowls, mittens, socks etc.

-Items for the home such as cushion covers, tea cosies, coffee pot/mug cosies, trivets out of cotton yarn

I love to crochet pumpkins out of scrap NEON wool! 🙂 can you tell the background is wallpaper and not real wood?!!!

3. T-shirt Yarn

-Make macrame wall hangings/ coasters

-Placemats

-Crochet bowls and pots

macrame wall hanging using t-shirt yarn

2. Paper

-Cards, tags, wrapping paper, stick odd bits in scrapbooks/ art journals as background – I have seen a Youtube channel called MaremiSmallArt use tags (from when you buy clothing) and use them as texture for the background of a make before she paints over them

– Discover origami

-Donate pretty paper and card you won’t use to your local primary/ elementary school

  1. Pattern books/ books/ craft magazines

-Go through and weed out any patterns you will never use and recycle/ donate, buy online patterns to avoid clutter

-I have a button badge maker and I have looked through old knitting and crochet magazines and created unique badges (that I have stuck on my knitting needle bag) out of pictures of knitted fabric

-Decide on a challenge – e.g. Make 1 item from each book/ magazine or flip through a book and pick a pattern to try blindfolded…something like that

Day #12 – Knitting vs. Crochet

CRAFTY 30 DAY BLOGGING CHALLENGE DAY #12

Day #12 Knitting vs. Crochet

Knitting

How long have I been doing it?

I learned at the start of 2016. I made a stocking stitch scarf and that was it, I was away. I taught myself from a few Youtube videos.

What level are you?

I would say I am an intermediate knitter. I haven’t done a lot of lace, cables or Fair Isle, although I’ve done some in the past. 

What kinds of things have you made so far?

Blankets, scarves, cowls, hats, random freebie patterns from magazines, a couple of knitted whale toys, hot water bottle covers, a coffee pot cover, cushion covers, one lone single sock, loads of Christmas decorations – baubles, mini stockings, hanging trees etc., 3 large Christmas stockings, a tea cosy in the shape of a pudding…

What techniques have you mastered so far?

Simple ones. Stocking stitch, rib, gartur stitch, moss/ seed stitch, patterns with knit and purl such as basket weave and waffle stitch, basic cabling, basic eyelets and button holes, baby jumpers/ cardigans, increases and decreases.

Would love to try entrelac, brioche and Double (reversible) Knitting next.

Crochet

How long have you been doing it?

About 12 -13 years. I learned at university and although I tried knitting at the same time, I found it too difficult at the time and just focused on crochet.

What level are you? 

I would say advanced. I understand how stitches are made and altered, even if I have to refer back to patterns for stitches sometimes. Most of the things I crochet I design myself as I tend to make quick and easy items.

What kinds of things have you made so far?

Blankets, scarves, hats, amigurumi figures, baby dress and waistcoat, balls and baubles, pot holders, trivets, a terrible top which I threw away!, decorations, bunting, granny squares, bags, cowls, cushion covers…

What techniques have you mastered?

Pretty much most of the basic ones and once you understand how crochet is done, it’s pretty much variations on a theme. A few techniques I haven’t tried yet in crochet is entrelac, broomstick lace and hairpin lace. 

Notes

I find crochet a lot quicker than knitting – I could crochet a scarf in an evening, depending on the stitch used. But I like the look of knitted stocking stitch better than crochet. 

I would prefer to have a knitted jumper rather than a crocheted one, although I could probably whip up the crochet one in half the time. 

As you can see from the answers above I tend to make household items, rather than pieces of clothing, whether for knitting or crochet. I don’t tend to do many small items such as toys or figures because I hate the fiddly bits and they never look ‘normal’ by the time I have sewn them up! I hate doing crochet amigurumi mostly, I have to be in the mood. 

In 2021, it is sweater knitting all the way, I have 3 on the go, as well as a knitted shawl and there are sewing projects getting lined up, so I don’t really have the desire to do small projects at the minute. Especially as Christmas is out of the way and I did quite a few small decorations last year.

So…if there was a contest between knitting and crochet, I think knitting would win, but not by much. I am equally a knitter and crocheter…I don’t discriminate, it’s all yarn!!

WIP’s and UFO’s

WIP = Work In Progress

UFO = Unfinished Object

I have a few projects on the go and a few craft materials leftover from previous projects that I have some ideas what I could do with. Here is what is on my needles/ in my project to-do list so far (as of January 2021).

KNITTING

On my needles at the moment are some pretty big projects. 3 jumpers and a shawl to be precise.

  1. My first ever jumper is an orange, simple design I found in a magazine. I actually cast it on a couple of years ago, maybe at the beginning of 2018 or 2019, did a few rows of the rib at the bottom and then put it away and forgot all about it. Last year, I took it out again and managed to get the whole of the back done and I am now finishing the rib of the front. But whilst I wanted this to be my very first jumper, I cast on another one in September of last year for Christmas, which sadly I never got done in time to wear for Christmas Day 2020. I CAN ONLY KNIT SO FAST!!! So, I am alternating between this orange one and the Christmas one below. This one has a simple cable and eyelet pattern with lots of stocking stitch. (The pattern is by Pat Menchini and is in a collection of patterns called 100 knitting patterns. I think it’s a collection of knitting patterns previously published in Let’s Knit magazine, a knitting magazine in the UK. It doesn’t really have a name as such, it just says Cinnamon Spice and that it’s a long-line tunic.)
knitted jumper

I am really enjoying knitting this up.

2. The Christmas jumper – this is a very simple plain stocking stitch jumper with three quarter length sleeves. I have done the sleeves and the back and am about a third of the way done with the front. I love the wool, it is called Glitz by King Cole (1698) and is a Double Knitting weight. The festive colours are soooooo pretty! I also knitted a bauble with some leftover yarn from one of the sleeves in this wool and it looks quite cute!

I bought the pattern (9181) for the jumper for £2.99 (I think or maybe £3.99) from an online store called Deramores and I ordered 6 balls, so hopefully after sewing it together and knitting the collar I should have some leftover for future Christmas knits later on this year. It is by Stylecraft and the pattern uses Cabaret yarn.

The only thing I don’t like about this pattern is the back – it’s a cardigan in reverse and looks really strange, so I am simply knitting two fronts instead and hoping they don’t look too weird once I sew them up.

christmas knitted jumper
Christmas knitted jumper

3. Autumn knitted jumper – this is exactly the same pattern as above except in different yarn (actually using the recommended yarn but in a different shade) and I decided to do the cowl collar instead of the simple plain one. I am going to put this aside for a while and concentrate on the other 2 first as I am not sure on the sizing! I think I will see if the Christmas one actually fits before I carry on with one. If not, and I’m thinking of doing this anyway, I might just rip it back and make something else out of the yarn. I have five balls of it, so maybe a hat and a pair of mittens? I have never knitted a pair of mittens before so that could be something new for this year!!

look at the pretty autumn colours – style craft cabaret yarn
the pattern I am using is the one in the top right corner!!

4. Sock Yarn Shawl – I bought 2 balls of this sock yarn from John Lewis on Oxford Street, London, when I travelled down for a visit a few years ago. After realising I will NEVER be a sock knitter (I tried a few years ago and I managed ONE sock out of a pair and that took me 3 weeks so I gave up completely!!) I decided to make a simple shawl, BUT it isn’t the most softest of wools I have ever used so this might get ripped back as well. Who knows.

the sock yarn shawl so far!

That’s all for the knitting WIP’s. I also a further 2 balls of sock yarn in orange so maybe an actual pair of socks (doubtful) or more mittens? Sock yarn is much thinner than I usually use so it takes me more time to knit up on smaller needles therefore I have less patience for it. We shall see with that. I also have a couple of balls of spare Christmas yarn (red and white) and a tiny ball leftover of white cotton and that is pretty much it for wool. The yarn is by West Yorkshire Spinners (WYS) I can’t remember the exact shade.

Last year, in 2020, I used up MY ENTIRE STASH of yarn. Of which I was drowning in, literally. Yes, literally. I can see the floor now.

SEWING

And sewing? I don’t have that much on my list for sewing but here goes…

  1. I have mostly cut out a pattern for a linen top with darts. I have never sewn darts or tucks or anything like that before in my LIFE! So, I am quite nervous. The only thing I am slightly worried about is the fact that I chose vertically striped fabric for the top, so the pattern may get a bit squished and wonky. That’s OK, I am still at the stage of saying ‘IT’S ONLY A PRACTICE!!’. Just need to cut out some edging and sew it together.

2. I have some leftover yellow fabric from the pencil skirt I made [see previous post https://woollyorbit.wordpress.com/2021/01/27/first-ever-skirt/ ] and was thinking of a knotted headband/ turban headband and some smaller projects OR a camisole vest type top. Not sure. Pinterest has some really good tutorials and ideas for knotted headbands.

3. I also have some leftover wool fabric from a cushion I made my Dad for Christmas. About half a metre to a metre left? I can’t quite remember how much, so something with that, not sure what exactly.

4. And finally, leftover from Christmas sewing which was manic last year, several tiny stockings and quite a few squares for which I was thinking a Christmas patchwork quilt, but it’s past Christmas now. Maybe that could be a project for next year. Except, I don’t like having a stash anymore – I want it all gone. I am trying to slim down all my possessions and don’t want materials and tools cluttering up the place, maybe that can be a project that I work on bit by bit?

the mini stocking pile!!!

That’s all my current projects for which I have fabric for. I have a really cute pattern for a small backpack which I think would look amazing in denim and I’m thinking of buying some fabric for that – in the far future, let’s get some of these projects done first. And I have a pattern for a long, wrap skirt which, even though I’m not really a skirt kind of gal, I could totally see me wearing. But I need to get fabric for that too.

CROCHET

Shockingly, I have NO CROCHET PROJECTS on the go at the moment! Yay!

MISCELLANEOUS

I also have some other random projects on the sort of go. One of which is Lino cutting. I tried last year and cut myself so badly on the finger I bled all the way upstairs to get a plaster and stop the bleeding. Which kind of put me off lol! I would love to Lino cut and make some prints, I have all the materials, even the ink, just need to work up the courage (and work out how to do it safely) so that I could have another try.

Gouache is a new love. I am a terrible painter and artist and sketch artist. But there is something so therapeutic about smushing paint around a page. I just want to have a go and have fun.

I have a block of wax to use up and make a candle with. That is next on my list of odd bits to do.

Bath and body/ beauty products such as hand/ cuticle salves and body lotions etc. I have lots of oils and butters that I want to use up, especially shea butter. And it’s winter and we’re stuck inside so hopefully I should fly through them.

I almost forgot, I went on a workshop last year, before lockdown and all that jazz, to make a leather handbag. I learned how to do saddle stitch and I made a yellow and green dyed leather bag. Since then I have dyed another set (I bought a spare blank set of pieces to try myself) this time I dyed it pink (thought it would turn out a lot redder but oh well!) and green and everything is all ready to be sewn up – just need to spend a weekend doing that. It’s been a while, so I might need to refresh my memory about saddle stitch but I can’t wait to have that done and dusted.

I think that’s it. It’s a lot, but the bigger projects like the sewn top and the knitted jumpers will keep me busy for a while. I have decided NOT to start anymore new knitted projects until I finish what I have on the go at the moment.

Phew, this is a super long post! What’s on your needles right now? Something for yourself or for a friend?

Take care x

Hello and Welcome!

Hello there!

Ah this feels soooooo good! Blogging old-style!

A long time ago I used to have a little nonsense, crafty blog which I loved but it kind of ended up being a long shopping list/ to do list of things I wanted to try or do as well as a random hodge-podge of things.

And so, I shut it down and was sad. It had become a place where I could share my crafty makes and was kind of a diary of what I had made. I could see the progress I had made with projects and how my style and skills had evolved over time. And now, I’m back! I’ve missed you WordPress!

So, who am I? I am Sarah. I live in the UK, in the north, not far from both the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors (those are 2 National Parks in case you don’t know).

I want to share here what I have been up to, what I have been making and any future crafty plans.

What crafts do I like doing at the moment?

I have been crocheting for over a decade now, I learned at university and tend to make homewares with crochet (and most other crafts actually, as opposed to clothing). I like to make cowls and blankets, decorations, that sort of thing.

neon crochet granny square
neon crochet granny square blanket

I do not have the patience to make fiddly small amigurumi type figurines so you will never/ rarely see me make those kinds of things and I prefer the look of knitting for jumpers and sweaters rather than crochet, so probably not much crochet to wear.

And that brings me to knitting. I have been knitting for about 5 years now, I watched a Youtube video, had a go and then I was hooked. That was 2016, I think. I had tried at university to learn but couldn’t get into the hang of it, and had learned briefly as a child. But never anything ‘proper’ until I just decided to have a go, and the rest is history.

I have knitted all sorts since then:- blankets, scarves, hats, toys, bunting, tea cosy (just one Christmas pudding one last year!), Christmas stockings, hanging tree decorations, socks, freebie kits from magazines – all sorts. I am currently working on two sweaters – a Christmas one and a simple orange one with a bit of cabling which will be my two first ever jumpers!

knitted jumper
Knitted orange jumper
christmas knitted jumper
Christmas knitted jumper

I have also started sewing once more. I have a sewing machine (which I have had since I was 16) and messed around a bit over the years, nothing major. And then last year, 2020, I thought I would have a go at actually sewing pieces of clothing. The things I have sewn are mostly Christmas items such as gift bags, zipper bags, decorations like stockings etc. But I have had a go at at a dress, a top and pj bottoms. I still have to get my head around measuring and re-sizing patterns so they actually fit me and the question of whether I would actually wear anything I make outside is another ball game, but I have started and can honestly say, thanks to last year, that sewing is officially a new hobby!

pincushion
pin cushion
bunting
Christmas Bunting (background crochet shawl)

Another recent-ish hobby is the concocting of various hand salves and body lotions/ bath salts etc. No idea what I am doing here, I just like to have a go!

In the past I have also dabbled in cross-stitch, candle making, soap making, needle-felting, loom-knitting. Last year I went on two courses to make a mosaic tile and a leather handbag. I have also tried glass fusing and pottery.

Although my ultimate favourite types of crafts are fibre arts crafts like knitting, crochet, dyeing that kind of thing.

And of course, I love to bake cakes and bread too!

bread
seeded wholemeal and white plaited bread

So, pretty much anything goes!

I used up all my stash of wool and yarn last year, which was quite the achievement. In the future I would be looking at buying craft supplies with intention. Both only buying what I need for a specific project (as opposed to just buying yarn for the hell of it) and buying more eco-friendly yarns from local suppliers and using natural fibres/ dyes.

What else?

I like colours but tend to go either really garish and bold, such as neons paired with black, or natural, autumnal colours like burnt oranges, dark purples and grey. I love grey. Not keen on pastels though.

I also love to read, in the past year I have really got into Isaac Asimov and his Foundation series, reading it all out of order and context, but still loving it. War and Peace has been on my shelf for YEARS but I have never got around to reading it…this is the year!!

Yeeeaaahhhh. So, that’s what I like to do craft -wise.

I think I am going to leave it here, have a great evening!

See you soon x