Repairing an antique chest of drawers

I really love this antique, probably Victorian, chest of drawers, despite its sad state.

Victorian chest of drawers

Victorian chest of drawers in need of restoration

My hope is to one day being able to use it in my home – but before that, it will need at least a degree of TLC to make it functional, if not perfect. I might be in for a looong term plan…

Some time ago I made a start, by repairing one of the broken drawers: the back was partly broken and coming off, part of the sides were split and bits had come off.

The sides are being repaired – the clamps hold the parts in place while the glue sets. Note the back is still broken and the dove-tail joins are coming undone

To restore it, I used wood glue to reattach the parts that had broken off, while for the joins I opted for liquid hide glue because it’s reversible (this is what could be used for “proper’ restoration, as it can be later taken apart if needed).

This is the drawer after the repair

I’m quite pleased with the results!

Ideally, this work should be done in a garage or a workshop – that is, if you had one….

Reusable bag for produce

I made a reusable bag for produce!

produce-bag-1produce-bag-2produce-bag-3

I follow Celia’s blog (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) and she often offers interesting ideas to save the environment.

One of these is to make reusable bags for produce to avoid using plastic bags (VERY BAD for the environment) or paper bags (much better, but still why use unnecessary resources and cut down trees).

She used net fabric but I didm’t have any at hand. I didn’t want to use man-made fibre (= nylon = plastic = oil = BAD for nature)

The idea stayed in the back of my mind for a while, then one day it came to my mind that I had some vintage cotton (a charity shop from while ago) in my collection.

vintage-cotton-yarn

While cotton is a natural fibre, it is not necessarily good for our Earth: it uses a lot of water to produce the raw material and then process it. A LOT, like in

20,000 LITERS
The amount of water needed to produce one kilogram of cotton; equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans.

(source: WWF https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton). So I was happy to use some unwanted vintage one.

Pattern:
I went freestyle –  just did some filet crochet alternating sections of standard filet with parts of double-chain ((I think – whatever it is that it results in a “full square” rather than the “empty square” of filet).

Project notes with instructions:

https://www.ravelry.com/projects/ItWasJudith/reusable-produce-bag

produce-bag-4

produce-bag-5

produce-bag-6 The first side

The only thing to improve is possibly making it with a finer yarn to obtain a lighter weight; this one is about 20-25g for a small size (finished bag is approximately 19×24 cm).

The bag is now finished and is being carried in my rucksack for when I go food shopping.

It’s perfect for the small vegetables (mushrooms, beans, carrots..), nuts or fruits (kiwi, mandarines), etc.

It can store the items as long as needed and then reused. When dirty it can be easily washed.

I’m so happy to have made it!

 

Repair : patching a pj (short tutorial)

This pj is made of a light knit jersey fabric, which recently was starting to develop some wear and tear… but I was keen to rescue it from demise.

I patched it with some iron-on material that is perfect for such thin and soft fabric: Kleiber repair patch for fine textiles (Oeko-Tex material)

I wrote this short step-by-step repair tutorial for anyone who wants to make-do and mend (and save the environment):

  1. Repair the damaged spots – I mended it by hand using fine thread
  2. Iron the mend to flatten the fabric. Raised parts may cause the patch to adhere unevenly and develop weak spots.
  3.  Cut a bit from the patch kit, larger than the size of the damaged area, allowing at least 1 to 1.5 cm (around 1/2 inch) extra. This would prevent strain points on the damaged area.
  4. Place the patch on the damaged area, laying a thin cloth on it before proceeding with the next step.
  5. Iron the patch, applying as much pressure as you can and hold the iron on it for around 1 minute (check instructions on your mending kit, they usually state how long you should hold the iron on it for).

    Let it cool and settle before moving it, to prevent any weakening to the repair.

  6. If you don’t mind the visible mending, apply a repair patch on the outside as well as on the inside of your clothing. This will make the mending even stronger and more durable.

  7. Mend any small weak spots before they develop into full holes
  8. That’s it.. Well done for rescuing your clothing from landfill!
  9. Now wear again & enjoy!!

Don’t forget to feel prod for having given a new lease of life to your item 🙂

 

 

The kindness of strangers

That’s a lofty title for a simple blogpost, I admit.

There isn’t a philosophical commentary on kindness and people to come, sorry…. I don’t think my boring style of writing would be up for the task.

Anyway, what I’m meaning to talk about today is natural dyes. And incidentally mention Freecycle.

The natural dyes have been kindly donated by a sweet elder lady through Freecycle (a site where one can offer or ask for free things). Freecycle is “a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. […] Membership is free”. Isn’t Freecycle a wonderful thing? And there are local groups across the world, I believe. I’ve used it to give and get items countless times – it’s fabulous. Go check it out, maybe there’s a local group near you?

The lady was offering quite a few of colours, dyes and art supplies. I hope she didn’t have to relocate or downsize, but she was just tidying up her home. I didn’t want to be nosey and ask…

Back to the main topic, I’ve long been curious about natural dyes. The only experience with them was in my teens when I used some walnut powder to dye the dark squares of a chess board I was making.

I’d love to try them again. Two things hold me back though: lack of space and the desire to avoid any harsh chemicals. So I’ll need to do a bit of reading on the best way for me to fast the colours. And then I may need to wait to have space somewhere at some point to do the process.

This is what I was kindly given:

  • madder
  • quebracho red
  • pomegranate
  • logwood purple
  • teal
  • indigo? (unlabelled blue powder)
  • woad
  • Brazil wood chips
  • cutch
  • sorghum
  • old fustic
  • cochineal
  • some unused packets of tannic acid and cream of tartar

If you have advice on easy and gentle dyeing, please do let me know 🙂

PS I’ve just learnt that off Freecycle (wikipedia link), a new non-profit organisation was born in the UK: Freegle (wikipedia link). I think I’ll join them too!

Synthetic fibres (a pledge and a WIP)

Today I was reading a post by Fadanista, who was making a more environmentally-friendly alternative to a fleece jacket from a vintage pattern.

In it she mentions the issue of man-made (i.e. synthetic materials like fleece, nylon, acrylic, etc.) and the negative impact these can have on the environment (as well as on the people wearing them). Apart from the production of such materials, which come from oil basically, one of the key issues is the tiny particles and lints that such garments release in the waterways while being washed and treated. In her post, she mentions some interesting articles and sources (like this one from the Guardian – please visit her blog for more links).

These particles ending up in our waters and oceans, are ultimately contaminating water, as well as are being swallowed by fish and so ending up in the food chain (= on our tables).

I now feel really bad because I know that I have some synthetic yarn and fabric in my stash (not much, but still). There is no good way of dealing with it:

  • if I pass it on, it will still end up in the water
  • if I consign it to the bin, it will end up in landfills where it won’t break down (unlike natural fibres)
  • if I burn it, it will still release polluting fumes (like all oil products)

As she suggested, the only good option may be to “leave it alone” at the bottom of the stash.

Still, I think it’s a good time to have a conversation in the crafting communities about man-made fibres and their ill effects on health and environment. I think of the inexpensive craft packs that are being used in large quantities – the end product may look pretty, but it has a hidden nasty side effect: it pollutes our environment.

So, today I pledge to try and avoid using synthetic fibres as much as possible. I hope others will join in!

~ ~ ~

On the bright side, I had just decided to bring some order to my UFOs queue. There aren’t too many items in there (about five, I think)… still it’s worth dealing with them – do something with them or reuse the yarn.

The first I picked up, is this summer top: Sea top (Ravelry project). It’s made of aran silk and based on Simple Irresistible, a free pattern that I slightly tweaked.

I looked at it again: after measuring the part I had so far (about 1/3) it looks that I casted on too many stitches and is now too large for my size M (even allowing some positive ease for a more flowing line). Despite that, I decided to carry on, because:

  • so I can actually have a better idea of how to alter it the next time around
  • it’s a quick knit, so it’s ok to do extra rows, even if I frog it in the end
  • I’m curious to see how it is in its current version

I’m still expecting to most probably ending up at the frog pond!

A few shots of the top short before it was put on hold… I’ve now added more rows to it and started a new skein. The yarn is an aran silk in Seaweed (one-off stock), it’s soft, drapey and shiny.

There are many other things I wanted to share, but I will leave them for the next posts… one will be about some vintage lace gloves and how they went to some period dances in grand halls.

Until then, take good care x

 

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