Tomorrow is World Environment Day. To honour the occasion, I’ve arranged a little ‘flash mend’ here in Bath to try to raise a awareness about where our clothes go after we’ve done with them. I’ve called it ‘Green your wardrobe!’
I was pretty shocked to discover that so many unwanted textiles here in Bath get tossed straight into our regular bins (9 out of 10) rather than into the green recycling boxes (just 1 in 10). All the more shocking as we generally have a pretty good record of recycling things around here. I don’t know how much clothing is donated to local charity shops, though I suspect it’s a huge amount; that would be really interesting to know.
I’m hoping that our little mending ménage tomorrow can underscore some of the many alternatives to plain old wasteful binning tomorrow, one being the loving repair of our well-worn textile favourites. If you fancy joining us, that would be wonderful. We’ll be at the top of the escalators in Bath’s Waitrose at 1pm. You won’t be able to miss us: we should be wearing something green and carrying magenta darning mushrooms! Bring along something to mend, if you can. The idea is that we will gently darn and patch around our cappuccinos, space in the cafe allowing. If it’s crammed to the gunwhales, we might adjourn to the library next door – for a spot of silent slip-stitching, obviously. We should be there till a little after 2pm so just pop in for a moment or two, if you can.
And here’s a two-sided poster I drafted for the occasion. Feel free to share, if you like. Click on the top right arrow if you need to print.
green your wardrobe poster
green your wardrobe
PS Yes, yes, I know that this isn’t the promised Clothworkers post. The fatal error is that nobody pays me to write this poor, bedraggled and neglected blog. But soon…
I’m sneaking in several scraps at once – again. Who wants moderation in thrift anyway? Where’s the fun… I present:
1) A Cecil Gee (previously moth-eaten) 100% merino wool men’s sweater in aqua,
2) A Sisley 80% wool sweater in a moss green/brown stripe, and
3) A Viyella 100% lambswool women’s cardigan in rusty red.
A glimpse of the sweater stash
All were thrifted from Bath charity shops. All have been hot-washed, dried and pressed (where necessary) and are ready to go. The aqua one has that rippled texture which often happens to merino when I attempt to shrink it; it still has a degree of stretch too which limits the ways I can use it. I’ve tried eliminating those ripples by steam-pressing for all it’s worth but it can’t be done. So, much better to find a use for that feature. The striped Sisley (which I particularly love) is reasonably firm but is quite fine. The red one has been the perfect candidate for felting, forming a nice, dense, very stable felt.
What will I do with them? Unlike many of my featured scraps (which still languish, awaiting creative inspiration to strike) I’ve already transformed these into something else which has been great fun to make. However, I can’t show you the finished article as it will spoil a very special person’s birthday surprise. Here is a big fat hint though…
Cutting out the mystery project
Come back tomorrow for the big reveal!
I’m doing it again: wearing a charity-shop wool top that I really bought for felting (of fulling, or whatever I should be calling it) in order to upscale it into something else more wonderful.
I must confess that I often feel tempted to just slip on that cardigan or fair-isle tank top once I get my woolly trawl home. I’m often surprised by how much I like wearing what I find. There’s something so deliciously random about the process. Things I buy for shrinking need not be my size, they just have to be made (mostly) of wool. I’m small, so can fit into most sizes, and sometimes the big sizes look better than the small ones. Occasionally, something big shrinks to fit me quite well after felting in the washing machine: that happened with a gorgeous cashmere cardigan. I look for good strong colours for crafting projects, so end up wearing things that I’ve programmed myself to avoid in first-hand shops where my choices are often much more conservative. I’ve (unconsciously) learned to limit myself over the years. I don’t know why I don’t buy new red woolens, for example, except that I’ve probably tried on the wrong red to suit my complexion at some point, or the wrong pink, or orange, which has set me against that entire chunk of the colour spectrum. As I grow older I’m hoping to grow bolder with colour.
Here’s some colourful wool I managed to locate on a recent charity-shop excursion, though I’m not planning to wear any of it. Mr Green, the tank top on the left, has been cut straight up the middle (why?) so is unwearable, and Ms Designer Stripes there on the right is is entirely the wrong size (too small) and shape. Both will hit the hot wash. Flashy Lord Kingfisher in the middle there is a vintage mohair scarf which just needs gentle sprucing before landing on my spring fair stall.
Do you operate different rules when buying new/second-hand? Have you any wardrobe or crafting quirks that you’d like to confess to? One artist friend, who uses felted garments in her work, told me that she can’t bear to buy second-hand sweaters as she finds them too ‘personal’. She doesn’t mind scarves though. Funny. The personal nature of second-hand doesn’t bother me at all, though I hasten to add that I do wash them before wearing.
Colourful charity-shop wool