Sunday, April 29, 2012

Upcycle, reuse and recycle packaging materials

I have a small business which uses quite a lot of packaging materials for posting parcels.  When I am busy I am posting several packages a day, perhaps up to eight a day in the run up to Christmas.  Add in ebay sales and I use a lot of packaging/envelopes/Jiffy bags etc.
For the business I tend to use new materials, and find ebay is a good source for plastic bags, and I scour the internet for good deals on Jiffy bags.  Ebay is a bit more flexible as it is quite usual to reuse and recycle good quality packaging materials, and as you know I am always trying to reuse as much as I can, both to save resources and to save money.  This is even more important now that I try to offer my ebay items with free P&P, and postage rates are due to increase hugely at the end of the month.
This is a list of materials that I save for recycling:

Plastic bags for immediate packaging
The plastic envelopes that greetings cards come in
Tiny plastic bags that hold spare buttons on new garments
My son is an IT technician and saves me lots of plastic bags that electrical components come in
The outer bags used for catalogues that come through the post
The air cushioning plastic strip that comes eg with Amazon parcels which I cut into bags

Outer packaging
Thank you Amazon for using lots of that brown paper strip to cushion inside boxes.  This is invaluable.  It can be used as brown paper to make parcels.  I cut it into smaller pieces, double layer, and run some seams down the side with my sewing machine to make envelopes.

(Incidentally, although off topic I can't resist adding this link on how to make storage baskets with it).
Corrugated card which is cut to sandwich items eg knitting needles
Most Jiffy bags can be reused
Plastic sacs received in the post are turned inside out and reused

I am brilliant at sandwiching stuff tightly so that it can be posted as Large not Packet - this saves a lot of money
Superdrug sometimes sell stamps at a discount - it is worth stocking up
And although too late for this year it is worth stocking up on 1st class/2nd class stamps at the old rate

I promise that this is the end of my recycling blogging, I will get back to knitting next time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Re-use, re-cycle, up-cycle or just save the world

I was brought up in the years of austerity just after the war, in a family without a lot of spare cash.  It was drummed into us at an early age that nothing was to be wasted, and to some extent this is ingrained into me still.  I hate to see waste in any form, and really dislike throwing anything away that can be reused.  Then it was to do with saving money, although now it would be called saving the world.  I strongly believe that the earth's resources are finite, and that we should all be thinking about reusing as much as we can.

Some things I remember from my childhood:

Never leave a light on when out of a room
Be sparing with hot water - we were allowed one pint jug full to rinse when washing hair
Reuse waxed paper from cereal boxes to wrap packed lunches
Wear jumpers to bed in winter
Unwrap Christmas presents carefully and fold paper to use next year
Burn as much rubbish as possible on the open fire
Shut doors to keep in heat in winter (hands up if you can remember huddling next to the open fire and getting blotchy marks on your legs and a frozen back!)
Hand down clothes (I was the youngest girl of three so certainly knew what that meant!)
Hand knit and sew as many clothes as possible
Re-use fabric from old clothes to make new garments, and unravel jumpers to reknit the yarn
Shop at jumble sales

I am sure there are many more.  We never actually used newspaper in the loo but I remember going to play with friends nearby who did!

We re-use and re-cycle as much as we can now without especially thinking about it.  Although we are not fanatical about it here are a few of the things we do:

Used stamps are taken to Oxfam
Plastic milk bottle caps go to the playgroup
Unwanted DVDs and CDs are hung up to deter birds on the allotment
Old video tape is used to tie up plants on the allotment
Shredded paper is composted
Fizzy drinks bottles are cut down and used as mini greenhouses on new plants
Small plastic bottles like Yakult size are used to top canes
Old spectacles go to Specsavers for renovation and passing on
I collect buttons from old clothes
Junk mail/letters or paper printed on one side goes through the printer again for non important printing
I refill printer cartridges with ink (tip, unless you want black fingernails for weeks use plastic gloves)
Yoghurt pots are used for mixing filler/paint etc when decorating
Old carpet goes onto the allotment for paths or on areas to clear weeds
Old hand knit jumpers are unravelled and the yarn reused (I wind it round plastic bottles, dunk in water with a bit of detergent in and dry, to take out the kinks)
Plastic plant pots are saved for plant sales
Broken terracota pots are used for crocks in pots
Plastic carrier bags (we get them occasionally even when using our own bags!) are used to hold rubbish for the dustbin
Clothes go into clothes banks (whatever happened to jumble sales, they don't seem to exist in our area any more?)
A couple of old bikes have gone to a chap nearby who renovates them and they are sent to Africa (he doesn't seem to have a weblink but I see there are several similar schemes online)
Old pallets have been used to make a compost bin
Screws, nuts and bolts are saved for reuse
Margarine containers are cut into strips to make plant labels
Many many things such as packing materials can be used in craft activities with children

We have an excellent kerbside collection which takes all the usual things such as glass, paper etc.
In our area there is a thriving Freecycle scheme, and any unwanted item listed there is snapped up by someone who would like it.
This site tells you how to recycle anything!

I had intended to write a post about how I recycle packing materials, but got carried away.  That can be for next time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Make do and mend

I always wanted one of those M&S Per Una jackets, you know, the one everyone of a certain age has.  The one with the stripes and big buttons down the front.    They seem to do the same one every season in slightly different colours, so they are obviously a big seller.
I finally bought my version in blues and greys, and although I was told it looked nice I was never completely happy with it, as it gaped at the neck and worse still the flappy opening at the bottom of the button band put inches on where I didn't need them. 
I was brought up in an age when you made do rather than chuck things out, so I decided to modify it.
First I took off the front two bands.  I forgot to take a 'before' photo but here it is with the band placed where it was.
I found some grey 2 ply yarn and picked up along one side, double crocheting to the end.  I carried on until I had a wide double crocheted band then slipped stitched it to the other side to fill the centre.  As the yarn is so fine the band is firm and the crochet stitches are so fine that it just looks like the same fabric as the main parts of the sweater.  Then I sewed the buttons in place.

I am much happier with it now.  I always prefer a sweater to a jacket anyway, it can just be pulled on without having to think about layers to put underneath.  Made do and mended for another day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Don't forget, free gift with website orders in January

I am giving away a FREE sweater kit for the dolls house doll with all website orders received in April.  Last chance to buy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to make little balls of wool in dolls house scale

Easy peasy but very effective, this is a little tutorial in how to make balls of wool for the knitting basket in the dolls house.

You will need:  some fine 2ply yarn, a plastic drinking straw, a darning needle and some ball bands (I took an existing yarn band, scanned and amended to my own 'brand', reduced it in size, and printed it off), and some glue.

Cut the straw into small lengths of about 1cm (half an inch) or so.  Thread the needle with plenty of yarn and double it up.  Holding the end to start, thread it in and out of the straw until it won't take any more, making sure it is completely covered.  Cut off any loose ends.  Cut a yarn label and glue into place around the ball of yarn.

You can make lots in a very short time!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pebble monsters

I just love these and couldn't resist re-blogging about them.  I am so taken with the idea of leaving them on the beach for others to find!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Free knitting patterns

Found this new site
Lots of hints and tips about knitting, techniques, give aways and free patterns.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Free knitting pattern for a garden gnome jacket

A little while back I told a garden gnome tale. 
The story ended by showing the jacket that I knitted for our garden gnome;  my own bit of garden yarn bombing.

I wrote up the pattern and listed it on Ravelry but thought I might as well put it on the blog too, so that it is there if anyone else feels inclined to cover their garden in knitting.  Here it is:

Materials:  A small ball of Double Knitting yarn, a pair of knitting needles size 3.75mm, and two buttons.

Measurements:  My gnome measures about 11 inches (28cm) tall and 12 inches (30cm) around the chest.  The jacket will of course also fit any small toy, teddy or doll of similar dimensions.
Abbreviations:  sts = stitches;  k = knit;  k2tog = knit 2 sts together;  tbl = through back of loops.

The jacket is made in one piece.  Make the pieces in the following order:
Left front:
Cast on 20 sts and knit 24 rows.  Break yarn and leave sts on needle.

Cast 22 sts onto the needle holding the front and knit 24 rows.  Break yarn.

Back:  Cast 30 sts onto the needle holding the other pieces and knit 24 rows.  Break yarn.

Cast 22 sts onto the needle holding the other pieces and knit 24 rows.  Break yarn.

Left front:
Cast 20 sts onto the needle holding the other pieces and knit 24 rows.  Do not break yarn.

Work the yoke across all the sts (114 sts).

Row 1:  k 17, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k16, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k24, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k16, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k13, cast off 2sts, k1 (104 sts)
Row 2:  k2, cast on 2 sts, k to end  (106 sts)
Row 3:  k 16, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k14, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k22, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k14, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k16 (98 sts)
Row 4:  k
Row 5:  k 15, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k12, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k20, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k12, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k15 (90 sts)
Row 6:  k
Row 7:  k 14, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k10, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k18, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k10, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k14 (82 sts)
Row 8:  k
Row 9:  k 13, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k8, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k16, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k8, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k13 (74 sts)
Row 10:  k
Row 11:  k 12, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k6, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k14, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k6, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k12 (66 sts)
Row 12:  k
Row 13:  k 11, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k4, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k12, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k4, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k7, cast off 2 sts, k1 (56 sts)
Row 14:  k2, cast on 2 sts, k to end (58 sts)
Row 15:  k 10, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k2, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k10, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k2, k2tog tbl, k2, k2tog, k10 (50 sts)
Row 16:  k
Cast off.

To make up:  Turn inside out join side and sleeve seams.  Turn right side out and attach buttons to right front to match button holes.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Free gift with website orders in April - cotton tweed polo sweater kit

Here is the free offer for April.   A kit giving instructions and yarn for you to knit this lovely soft cotton tweed sweater for a 5 to 6 inch doll, very easy to knit in just a couple of hours.  It will fit all dolls house dolls such as Heidi Ott and similar, also suitable for other similar sized dolls such as Pippa, Dawn, and (if you are able to remove head to fit) Strawberry Shortcake, and other tiny bjd such as Lati Yellow and Pukifee.  Will be oversized on Hujoo Baby and smaller dolls.  You will need a pair of 2mm knitting needles.

To obtain the free kit just send an order to the webpage during April.

Why not have a look at the kits and extras available from the site and start knitting soon!
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