You may or may not have heard the term ‘upcycle’. Upcycling is similar to recycling except you give the old item more value, not less. It’s a great way to keep costs down and be kind to the earth.
Last weekend I attended a workshop called “Upcycle: bring new life to your threads” put on by Green Villages. The workshop was led by Kelly Doust, author of Minxy Vintage: how to customise & wear vintage clothing, who shared her tips and tricks for repairing and customising seccond-hand clothes. It was a real treat to get a peak in Kelly’s wardrobe as she brought along some of her favourite pieces, many of which are featured in her book. All participants were allowed to select an item of vintage clothing to be customised from the large pile provided, or you could take along your own. There was also a pile of scarves and other bits and pieces intended to be used to add accents to our clothes. It was in this pile I spotted the crochet tablecloth. Straight away an idea popped into my head- poncho! I love old crocheted clothes and a breezy poncho would be perfect for summer. I wore them all winter as they’re so easy to breastfeed in and cover up a body still recovering from pregnancy. I also feel kinda glamourous in a poncho. I know plenty of people think they’re daggy but there’s something about a bit of flowing fabric that makes me feel special.
The process was very simple. First grab your old tablecloth. You can pick these up at your local op shop for next to nothing.
Fold on the diagonal twice to find the centre then start cutting! I aimed for a boatneck style as I want to use it for breastfeeding over summer but you could make it scoop or V neck, whatever works for you. Try to keep the crochet design intact for aesthetic and structural reasons.
Pop it on and see how it fits. Despite measuring beforehand I found the hole stretched once cut so I marked the spot where I wanted to take in the hole on both sides with black thread then sewed this section together using a darning needed and matching cotton yarn.
Once you’re happy with the neck hole size you need to finish the edge. Again using your cotton thread and darning needle blanket stitch
all around the neckline, making sure to sew through structurally sound sections of the remaining crochet.
That’s it! You’re done! (Excuse the embarrassing selfie! And the messy hallway!)
If you have more time you can then crochet a decorative edge yourself. This is something I will attempt when I have some baby-free time over the holidays. I’ll update the post with a photo if/when that happens. Another nice idea would be to use contrasting yarn, or you could dye the whole poncho, ombré would be nice. The possibilities are endless! What’s your best upcycling project? Are you like me, a long term upcycler that has only recently discovered the term?
In modern society we tend to underestimate the power of stillness and of the mind. Meditation is often misunderstood and not seen as productive use of our time however this could not be further from the truth. The benefits of meditation are physiological (e.g. decreased blood pressure), psychological (e.g. calmer state of mind), and spiritual (e.g. feeling more connected to the universe or your God). One of the big aspects of downshifting is slowing down, and it doesn’t get much slower than sitting still and meditating.
Meditation doesn’t require fancy equipment or extreme flexibility (hello lotus pose!), all you need is 10-15 minutes and your mind. The goal is to focus on one thing, your breathing is a good place to start, and clear you mind of all the other stresses and thoughts that fight for your attention. I find guided meditations very helpful. I often put my headphones on and listen to one of many stored on my iPhone. A favourite audiobook is The Joy of Meditating by Salle Merrill-Redfield. It consists of four guided meditations that teach you how to meditate. The first focuses on breathing techniques and relaxing the body, then each subsequent meditation builds on what you’ve learned and teaches a new skill such as visualisation.
Sometimes when my baby is having a nap during the day I will lie on the bed and do a short guided meditation. I find I’m much more refreshed at the end than if I had taken a short nap. During particularly stressful times in my life I took to doing a guided meditation before going to sleep. This really helped fight off insomnia from anxiety and allowed me to cope much more successfully than I otherwise would. Sometimes when I need a break I just sit and gaze at my waterlily in wonder at its perfection and beauty.
Still not convinced? Have a look at this fact sheet produced by the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel
Meditation – Better Health Channel It’s very easy to dismiss meditation, to say we don’t have the time, or can’t waste time on something with intangible benefits, but the benefits are real. I encourage you to give it a go, especially if you’re stressed, anxious, or unwell. Or if you are already a regular meditator share your method in the comments, I’d love to hear what you do!
You may remember my loofah seedlings from my Reuse Greenhouse post. Well they were ready to be planted out so they have been relocated to the garden bed, a large pot, and a couple even made it to my mother’s garden up the coast. Those that remained in my garden have been protected with more reuse- drink bottle cloches! We don’t go through a lot of soft drink in this house so I had to make the most of my empty soda water bottle. I cut it in two and the top section was ready to use straight after removing the lid, the bottom half required thirty seconds with a drill to create a hole in the top. Ta da! Safe seedlings!
Tragedy struck this morning when Butterfingers (aka my husband) dropped our coffee plunger and the glass broke. If this had occurred a few years ago our first course of action would have been to throw the whole thing out and go and buy a new one. Not these days. Instead we headed to the shops to track down a replacement glass insert, and it wasn’t hard to find either. With only a short walk, visit to one shop, and $14.95 the coffee plunger was fixed and brewing again. Coffee never tasted so good.
Whilst shopping it was interesting to note the cheaper brands did not sell replacement parts, despite being poorer quality and more likely to break. I will now check if replacement parts are available before making large purchases as I believe it is a sign the company expects their product to last long enough to potentially wear out parts. My original plunger was purchased when I left home at 18, without giving my exact age away it has lasted well over 10 years before this breakage and I imagine it will now last many more.
The simple act of pausing before purchasing a whole new coffee plunger has saved us money and I think the environment would thank us too (the broken glass will be recycled). What parts have you replaced and what did it save you?