Saturday, July 21, 2018

Quilt finish! Doing a happy dance

I am doing a happy dance today.

I have hung the Life in the Garden quilt up -using a set of 5 tabs which I made -in the manner of tapestries hung in medieval banqueting halls. 

Can you see my cat figurine on the top shelf? 
What cat doesn't want to be near a quilt, now

Here it is, quilted and bound and hung in the spot I designed it for, just inside the front door. 

I did swirly swirls and stippling in diagonal rows to add texture and interest to the quilt. 

This quilt was fun to make -the whole way through. I really like the way it turned out. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Mid way through Plastic Free July-getting expert advice

We visited the Good Fair at the University of WA last weekend. The market was a place to find  WA’s vibrant community of ethically conscious businesses and organisations. We could browse and shop ethical fashion, gifts, food, home wares and eco products.

The Rubbish Fairy from EarthWise in Subiaco was there, talking rubbish.  Earthwise is a community organisation which has a community garden, op shop and numerous activities for aspiring eco-activists. 

The Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) was there providing us with delicious Iraqi food, made by local refugees and asylum seekers.

We heard a number of good talks about the difficulty of plastics in the environment. One was about the amount of plastic which is in our clothes -and the packaging in which it comes -which then gets into our oceans. We should be washing our clothes less, and always using cold water when we wash. The best thing, however, is to seek out natural fibres where ever possible. Second hand clothes from Op shops help to make sure that clothes are kept out of the waste stream for longer.

This is Rebeccah, founder of Plastic Free July (which started in 2011 right here in Perth), telling her story and inspiring us to keep up the good work. 

My new Keep Cup, which I am taking with me on a holiday soon. I have a little back pack and it will go in there with a stainless steel water bottle. 

Our plastic free experiments have had mixed success:
  • Rinsing hair with cider vinegar instead of condition was not successful for DH or myself. 
  • the bin seems none the worse for not having a liner. Most of our food waste goes in the compost or worm farm, so wrapping up chop or chicken bones in the pages of the community newspaper seems to work well.
  • I picked up a free net curtain or three, which I will use to make produce bags and gift them back to the community.
  • I picked up a free tiny glass and metal table for the lounge room from our local Buy Nothing group. This enables us to extend the coffee table so the room is not so crowded. It is a big room but the chairs were all crowded around my too-small glass and metal coffee table. I only recently found this group, and I am impressed with the amount of community creating giving-it-away that goes on. Buy Nothing? Great idea to keep waste down. 
We have a new bulk eco-shop opening up soon in my suburb. Maybe the best thing we can do re the conditioner thing, will be to be able to take it to the bulk shop and refill the bottle there. 

I am also putting in our first order for Who Gives a Crap totally recycled toilet paper that builds toilets in the third world. It comes wrapped in paper in a cardboard box. I usually buy bulk toilet paper anyway -my family goes into melt down if we run out, so this has been my way of reducing unnecessary stress. 

How are you doing? Are you reducing any part of your plastic consumption? I would love to hear from you. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Life in the garden -a quilt top

I finished the quilt top which I am calling "Life in the garden" last night.

I am heart-skippy with delight over it! 
It was a LOT of fun to make. 

This post is about how I made it, and what I like about it.

It started with two things: a discounted pile of 15 precuts called "charm squares" which had  a bee theme: honeycomb, bees, and also butterflies. 

I had be re-reading Gwen Marsden's book "Liberated Quiltmaking II" on improvisational piecing. She spoke about using a toile piece in an improvised quilt -and used a Welsh vintage quilt as inspiration. I decided to make her instructions for square in a square blocks, and to use some old Debbie Munn fabric as the centres: time to use this up! This gave me quite a few squares. I also added some cats -as what is a garden without cats?

I used up all the charm squares by adding borders to them. As some of them were quite dark in background, I added some dark borders. 

I added a number of fabrics to the mix -toiles and soft patterns on white fabrics -everything with a garden theme. 

I played with the design quite a bit. I didn't want to have too regular a pattern of lights and darks, but instead let the movement of the tones encourage the eye to move around the piece. 

Then, as I pondered about the way to finish the quilt following the white stop border, I saw a small quilt on Instagram which Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville had completed this week -with a scrappy strip border. I had saved all the strips from cutting this quilt -so I started to make the outer border in a fairly random fashion. So long as no two fabrics were together that was it! Add some yellow corner stones and it was done.

I have a pretty black and white fabric which I found disguised as a couple of pillow cases and a doona cover, in a op shop, which will be the back. Add a thin piece of batting -you know the leftover bits you always have from a big quilt-and it will be done. 

I loved the playfulness of the quilt making - I didn't have a design in mind when I started. I liked the way I was able to incorporate things from my stash, including fabric which had been there far too long. I liked the scrappy strip border -again it used up tiny bits which might otherwise get tossed out.

There is a narrow space near my door, with a quilt hanger. When it is finished, this will go there. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Progess in Plastic Free July

“I pledge to avoid single-use plastic, to reuse or recycle the plastic that I do use, to educate others about plastic waste, and to take action to help the world #breakfreefromplastic.
Find out more 

Here we are again in Plastic Free July, and Chez Earthmotherwithin is doing it's bit. I can't remember how many years we have taken part, but each time we learn a new habit and go a bit deeper into the plastic free lifestyle.

Disclaimer: it is very very hard to be plastic free. We are surrounded by it. My keyboard is plastic, as is the handle of my shopping trolley, and I think the fabric of the same trolley is plastic too. Nevertheless my trolley saves me both the petrol which I might use if I went by car to the local shops, and it also means I don't need single use plastic bags. 

What we are trying to do is to reduce single use plastic at the very least. That means in particular, plastic bags given out by shops for a one-time trip home, water bottles and other soft drink bottles, plastic wraps used once in the kitchen, plastic which covers vegetables and fruits in the shops, so-called disposables like plastic straws and coffee cups with those plastic lids. 

These things are hard to avoid. I can't buy milk in anything other than a plastic bottle. My meat comes in plastic. Some fruit and vegetables can be found loose -and then I use my produce bags (below) but soft fruits like strawberries are not often found that way because they bruise so easily in transport. Some people have local butchers who will let you bring your own containers for the meat, but this is a pretty much localised phenomenon. I tried it once, but I was embarrassed by the response and haven't done it again since. 

I made these bags using left over curtains and some netting I had in my stash.

Last year we swapped body wash bottles for a simple bar of soap on a wooden rack. This works for both body washing and shampoo! This year I am experimenting with replacing the bottles of conditioner with a spray bottle of cider vinegar and water. So far it is great: it is easy to use in the shower and my hair is soft but not tangled. 

I have also replaced my plastic container of dental floss with a refillable glass one which uses an organic thread rather than a plastic filament.

My rechargeable razor keeps my legs fuzz free -I used to use 'disposable' razors but this will last longer. I use rechargeable batteries in it. 

In the kitchen we regularly use bulk shopping to assist in cutting down the plastic coming in to the house. One 5 litre container of dishwasher rinse aid is the equivalent of about 20 little bottles of rinse aid, as well as being impressively cheaper for example.

My DD covets the glass condiment bottles we buy, because they become the vessels for his jams and chutneys. We always need more, because these same things are given away to friends when they visit. It is therefore easy to pick the glass jar over the plastic container when shopping.

There are lots more ways in which we can improve our plastic free life -this month helps us concentrate on these, and move a bit closer to the ideal. 

"If personal preference for free, convenient plastic bags were to trump the prospect of curbing environmental damage, we can look to a really rubbish future."  Find more here