Mending, sewing, crafting
Lately a lot of my crafting inspiration has come from my son, who is growing and needs things, and from my goal to live more gently on this earth and think twice before buying and using things.
My values of living frugally and of buying ethically-produced clothing that is not damaging to the environment sometimes feel completely at odds with each other. I love that I can buy a high-quality child's raincoat that is made from recycled plastic bottles and made in Canada... but when it costs well over $100 and will likely only fit for a year or two, it can sometimes feel hard to justify the expense.
For me, this is where mending, crafting, and buying second-hand come in. Can I mend something to extend its useful life? Can I knit or sew more of our everyday wardrobe basics? Is it something I can trade or buy second-hand rather than purchasing new?
Accomplishment #1: Mending
This one is from a few months ago, but I'm pretty pleased with this knee patch for my son's pants. The request was for a sun with a field of corn or wheat. It's certainly not my tidiest embroidery job, but I think I fulfilled the brief!
Accomplishment #2: Sewing
One of my goals this year was to get back into sewing and this was a great project to brush up on my sewing skills. A few months ago Debbie was cleaning out some of her crafting supplies and found a stack of vintage children's sewing patterns which she passed on to me. I already had the material on hand for these boy's pajamas since my son likes to talk me into buying fabric for him almost every time we go fabric shopping :)
Although these pajamas are far from perfect, I'm very pleased that I made it through the whole pattern and I learned a lot. I flat-felled all the seams so there are no exposed raw edges on the inside, which is more work but it's worth it to make them look so much more professional and finished. I would definitely make the shorts again, but I didn't love sewing all the curves around the collar so I think for the next pair I might do a simple t-shirt top to go with them.
Accomplishment #3: DIY Crafting
My latest crafting adventure has been to try making sandals! Shoes are a hard purchase for me as I don't really want to buy them second-hand, or buy cheap ones that will fall apart and end up in the garbage, and it's hard to find good minimalist-style shoes past the baby stage. After a frustrating trip to a shoe store that had nothing in my son's size and nothing I really wanted to buy anyway, I came home and jokingly said to my husband "why don't I just make some myself?". After a bit of online research and some poking around the house gathering materials, I started working on a prototype. This is a total experiment and I have no idea how they'll work out in the long run, but my son is looking forward to trying them out and was happy to help with the design.
I traced his foot onto paper to make a template, used the template to cut a piece of thick felt for the lining and as a guide to crochet a sole out of jute twine. After using a knitting needle to poke holes in the felt, I threaded the cotton rope through and laced it using this video as a guide and adding a star charm to the knot. I sewed the lining to the sole with bright cotton yarn and whipped the end of the rope with the same cotton to prevent it from fraying. Ta-da! As I said, this is a prototype so we'll see how long they last and what improvements might need to be made, but it's a start and a fun challenge for me.
P.S. Aside from the charm and the felt (which is unfortunately not wool) everything else in this sandal is biodegradable :)
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One of our big goals for Sweet Paprika this year was to source a new line of Canadian wool yarns. We started contacting farms and mills last January, researching options, connecting with farmers, and collecting samples.
Eventually we settled on working with wool from Circle R Livestock, a family farm in southern Ontario. Over the spring we worked out the details to have the wool milled in New Brunswick, and we then spent the summer doing dye tests and creating colour recipes for our new Winfield (worsted) and Sutton (bulky) yarn lines.