Category Archives: Sustainable Life

Sustainable Friday | Refusing

Jul promenad photo

As I have said before, I think there can be a lot of focus on new organic and better produced but if you are going to really try and live more sustainable buying new/second-hand and produced from recycled materials or what ever slogan that is popular at the moment is still in impact. Buying new or new for you still makes an impact and I think that the focus should be to use what you have instead, even if it isn’t organic. The damage is already done in producing it. So to only buy when needed and then choose the better alternative is in my mind the more sustainable way. If is difficult for most of us, the lure of a new thing that you “really need” can be incredibly tempting but it gets a little easier with time. It is a constant fight however, not to do as everybody else and redecorate the living room every other year.

One hot topic here at the moment is plastic. But to throw out all your food storage and kitchen things over night and buy new in glass, wood and metal… The plastic didn’t become bad for you overnight just because you found out. Sending all your, still functional, old containers to landfill or energy recycling isn’t sustainable at all. I don’t want our home filled with plastic, but we are trying to substitute one item at the time as they go bad or break. You can always re-use jam jars as a lunch box, they’re sort of free and recyclable and leak proof as there used to be jam in them.

What I’m trying to say is: see what you have before getting anything new, even if you’re shopping second-hand.

Learning something new

Woodcarving docksjo design

I have been enjoying wood carving for a few weeks now and it has been wonderful to get into a new craft and a bit humbling to try and learn something new. I did some carving as a child but it’s been more then 10 years since I attempted to make something other then firewood or shelving with wood.

I got a shorter carving knife, this one, it was inexpensive, made here in Sweden and in the same brand as my scouting knife, but I quickly learned that it wasn’t the best choice for carving. The blade is a bit too fragile (or possibly I’m a bit too hard on it). I do not recommend it if you are thinking about starting.

I went foraging for some wood and started with a bit of a branch and started to shape a spoon just to get to know the knife. However I quickly learned that there was no way of getting around that fact that a straight blade can’t possibly make the gouging for the spoon. I made a note to get another tool for this and started working on a bunny instead. I worked 2 days solid before I was pleased with the shape, being so inexperienced it took some time to get it right. I was determined to be able to make the toy only using this one knife and it was possible and I’m so incredibly proud of it.

Woodcarving docksjo design

I had been eyeing these beautiful wooden toys for some time, but being the person I am, I didn’t want to wait and maybe get some in the future when we have children to play with them. I wanted to make them my self so that we can have home made toys when that day comes.

Woodcarving docksjo design

If you want the items to last and prevent stains on the wood it is important to treat the wood, there are many ways to do so and I choose to treat mine with light coloured organic raw flax seed oil. This is something easily found in an art supply store as it is also used to make oil paint. You can use flax seed oil from the grocery store as well, but it is usually deeply coloured and will effect the colour of the wood more.

Sustainable Friday | Washcloths

For sustainable Friday this week I have two versions of a simple washcloth that still looks nice, you could use them to do dishes or wash yourself. I always keep one in the kitchen, one in the shower and one by the sink where I wash my face in the evenings, they are perfect. This design has most likely been used by thousands of knitters before me, so this is most likely to reinvent the wheel but I have given it my own twist to make them as decorative as functional. Both of these versions also have the advantage of knitting until you have the desired size so there is no guessing of how many stitches you need to cast on to get a reasonable size.

Size: What is a good size is something of a personal preference but after trying a few different sizes I think that 20 cm by 20 cm is the most useful size.
Yarn: Use a fingering to sport weight linen, cotton, hemp, or mix of plant fibre. A heavier yarn won’t be able to dry between uses and drying quickly is what keeps it fresh between washes. Thrift stores usually have lots of forgotten crochet cotton.
Gauge: You don’t want it to be bullet-proof since you want it to dry quickly but not to loose either.

Washcloth rhombus

  • Cast on 2 stitches.
  • Make a yarn over (yo) and knit all stitches, repeat this row until you reached desired width.
  • Yo, slip one stitch as if to knit, knit 2 stitches together (k2tog), pass over the previous stitch over the 2 together, knit all stitches. Knit this row until only 4 stitches remain.
  • Yo, slip one stitch as if to knit, knit one stitch, k2tog, pass over the slipped stitch over the 2tog, pass over the next stitch over the 2tog, pass over the remaining first stitch on the needle then yo over the 2tog.
  • Crochet or knot a loop using the last loop on the needle.

20160203_2540docksjo design-2

Washcloth angle

  • Cast on 3 stitches.
  • Knit 1, yo, place a marker, knit 1, yo, knit 1.
  • Knit all stitches
  • knit to marker, yo, knit 1, yo, knit to end.
  • Repeat the last two rows until you reached desired size and end with a row without increases,  bind off the stitches until you reach the marker, remove the marker and bind off the center stitch, crochet a loop using chain crochet and ending with a slip crochet in the first chain stitch. Continue to bind off the rest of the stitches.

Good luck making your everyday objects reusable and more sustainable. 

Sustainable Friday | Veggie bags

20160104_2353docksjo design

Living sustainable isn’t expensive, mostly it is about not buying, using and storing things you don’t need. Todays tips is to not use the disposable bags when buying fruit and vegetables. We have for the past couple of years used reusable ones that I made from scrap fabric. For me it was important that the bags where light, easy to close and didn’t take much space in my already overflowing backpack. I decided to only use leftover bits of fabric, only using leftovers restricted the size of the bags: some are square others more triangular and one is a tiny sort of triangular that is perfect to keep all the other bags in when they’re not used.

How to make the bags
– Cut out 2 mirrored pieces of fabric or one pice with a mirror plane.
– Sew with a straight stitch 7 mm or 1/4″ from edge so as to enclose all but one side.
– Cut the corners and press the seam open then fold it the other way and pin so that the cut edge in toward the inside. Sew again with a straight stitch this time 1 cm or 3/8″ from edge on the same edges as before. You have now made a french seam.
– Choose whether you want the french seam on the outside or the inside and press the bag accordingly.
Sew 2 buttonholes on the centre on one side of the opening 4 cm from edge, if your fabric is fragile you can add a patch or interfacing behind the button hole to reinforce them.
– Press the opening edge down 1 cm and then 2 cm to create a double fold, pin down. Sew a strait stitch along the entire opening just inside 2 cm.
– Thread elastic or cord through the first buttonhole past the second all the way around and through the second one this way there is a small overlap, cut the elastic/cord a little longer then opening and tie the ends together. To close the bag simply pull the string no knots needed.

Veggie bag docksjo design

At first I tried to make them approximately the same size that the disposable bags in the store are but using leftovers the size ended up being a bit different, some big other small and after using them for some time I love that they are all different sizes because I have a few small bags for raisins and dried mango, medium sized for onions and tomatoes, little larger for zucchini and cheese and big ones for potatoes, apples, oranges and bread.

You don’t have to wash them between every use, only when needed but you do want to wash them before you use them the first time if you haven’t already washed the fabric before. Fabric is often treated with things you don’t want near your food. Everything doesn’t need its own bag if you are buying one or two onions you don’t need a bag for that, but 20 oranges can be a little difficult for the cashier to manage quickly and easily so a bag is of better use for that.

Veggie bag docksjo design

Good luck with your continual improving sustainable home. If you have tips on smart solutions please leave a comment.

2016 Calendar

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 13.57.09

I made a calendar this morning. I wanted a calendar to cross off my daily 15 minutes and thought that you might be interested as well. It is a plain calendar with week numbers and the dates to help you keep track for something or maybe just the week numbers. I use mine for exercise which is a bit of a challenge for me and I hope that this will help me a little, but you can use it for anything. It is in Swedish if you are wondering why I spelled January wrong, etc.

Download Calendar 2016

Say No to fast fashion | step 4 Going forward

Say No to fast fashion

Don’t try and change your entire wardrobe over night, the point of this was to be sustainable as well as to curate the perfect wardrobe for you. Make changes slowly, try to make everything new you make your new favourite and don’t forget to make those basics that keep the spectacular pieces going. Find the holes in your wardrobe and fill them one at the time. Try not to over stuff one section e.g. lots of dresses but nothing to wear them with. How much clothes do you actually need and instead of overstuffing your own wardrobe try to make a few special things for your loved ones, there is nothing that says I love you as much as a hand knit sweater.

How much clothes do I actually need not to run out of tops between laundry and still feel appropriately dressed and comfortable on lots of regular occasions.

I think my ideal is

  • 5 pairs of black leggings (only have 2 at the moment)
  • 3 sets of pyjamas (perfect)
  • 3 sets of active wear; 1 summer, 1 transitional, 1 winter
  • 7 tops and blouses mostly short sleeved – 3/4 sleeved
  • 3 shorts (perfect)
  • 2 trousers (This is something I’m imagining, I haven’t owned trousers for years)
  • 3 skirts; 2 warm 1 summer (perfect)
  • 2 light cardigans (perfect)
  • 2 medium warm cardigans (I have plenty, 4 regularly used and a few more, I love to knit sweaters)
  • 2 very warm cardigans (I often wear them layered with thinner ones)
  • 2 winter dresses; wool, cotton velvet (I have 1 that on it’s last run)
  • 4 transitional dresses (this category is good)
  • 2-5 fancy dresses with matching bowtie for Peter, one needs to be black (perfect, you might only need 2 but I love to make them and we always aim for spectacular when we get a wedding invitation or baptism comes along)
  • 1 dress coat (this is still on my list to make)
  • 1 rain coat (I have one but it’s not the best of rain coats)
  • 1 pair of rain trousers (could do with some)
  • 1 winter coat (thanks mom for the amazing coat you gave me)
  • 1 transitional coat (perfect)
  • 5 bras at least 5 well fitting (could do with a few more)
  • 2 slips (I have one in pale blue and a black would be a nice addition)
  • 4  tank tops for layering in winter, preferably merino (I have 3 cotton)

When working from home as I do, I normally wear leggings and a top of some sort usually something that is no longer nice enough to wear out. In one way it feels good to really use those old favourites until there is nothing left of them, On the other hand it would be good to be representable enough to answer the door if someone comes. I think that it is reasonable to be able to go 2 weeks between washes without running out of something nice to wear, we have the luxury of having our own washing machine something that definitely is a luxury where we live, but we just couldn’t go 3 weeks between washes only to have someone steal your time. Our kind parents ended up buying one for us.

This was written a few weeks ago and all the old and slightly misshapen tops went out the door, I only want to wear nice things and always wants to be representable.  This change feel so good now that it is done, so good.

Don’t make garments, make outfits

What I mean is to think of the piece that you want to make as a part of the whole wardrobe. What are you going to wear it with, is it practical for the season you are planing to use it in and so on. Having a colour theme have made this so much easier for me. You’re not left with a green blouse and a non coordinating green skirt at the end of the week since you have easy matching clothes and most, if not all coordinate. It takes time to coordinate your wardrobe I have been working on it for a couple of years. It is close now and I love to get dressed in the mornings. I have my black skirt and my forest green cardigan (current favourite) and all my blouses goes with it, it is wonderful.

This is not intended to offend anyone I hope that this might enable you to think about your habits and how you want to go forward. It might be a time in your life when making all the new pretty things is what’s filling your cup, it certainly was what made me keep going a few years ago fighting depression. If you are in that situation just go for it, having some feel good time is so important. Writing this series have been a great experience for me. I have been thinking about this for some time now but writing it all down has been really good for me, to question what I think vs. know and to go through my shopping habits.

Say No to fast fashion | step 3 Recognise what doesn’t work

Go through your fails and pin down the reason for why it doesn’t work for you, all the things that only take space in your wardrobe and makes you uncomfortable when you think of them. I think that you deserve to feel good about yourself, your style, your clothes, your body and that the clothes that weigh on your conscience could go to someone else who might love and use them. Trading clothes with friends is wonderful, my old choir used to have days a few times a year where everyone brought the stuff they don’t use and some food, we all eat together in someone’s smallish apartment. There was the display show sort of like an auction where all the dresses would be shown and the size and then we had a fitting section all walking around in our underwear trying on stuff. If several persons wanted the same thing the one it looked best on got it and being caring persons, making sure that everyone found something was in everybody’s interest. We had a great time, got a few new things and left all that remained to the nearest charity shop. I highly recommend getting together and swapping away, being so many at a time required some organisation, only taking one category at a time, (accessories, jackets, dresses, trousers… ) but being 15-20 gave an amazing opportunity of finding some amazing stuff (once there was a pink 1960s silk chiffon dress fully lined and boned), and there was a few garments that made it trough half of the choir in a few years time.

For me what doesn’t work are

  • pencil skirts
  • low necklines; I just don’t feel comfortable
  • tight sleeves
  • cropped cardigans and sweaters
  • raglan sleeves on sweaters and cardigans
  • dresses without waist shaping
  • bodices without back neck darts or yoke shaping
  • bright red, I love it but it always fails when it comes to wearing it

Me made may Belcarra blouse and Pencil-skirt

Pinning down why something doesn’t work is really important when trying to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

As a maker it can be difficult to picture how something is going to look on you, but there is one way of getting a taste. Go and try a bunch of things on in a clothing store, there is no need to actually buy something but I think it can be amazing to go and try things you normally wouldn’t wear to see how a shape or colour looks on you. It is an opportunity to reflect on style and shape, and if you feel the urge to buy something: wait a week and see if you still want it in a weeks time.

Say No to fast fashion | step 2 Colours

Say No to fast fashion

I think having a colour scheme and sticking with it for a while and to make a new one when you are no longer excited about it, instead of abandoning it, is a way to keep on track with purchase habits. I made my last one almost 2 years ago and it has been too long, I kept to it for little over a year and then forgot about it as my taste changed. I really think that having pre defined what your colours are helps when going shopping since it is so easy to get lost in all the pretty fabrics and come home with something totally different then planned. It might be beautiful but doesn’t really go with your other clothes. Take your time when choosing your colours and think long term: Will your like them a few years from now? Thinking slow fashion, the clothes that you make now is still going to be a part of your wardrobe 2 or maybe 5 years from now. My well loved sewn garment that I uses for everyday wear last about 2-4 years before they wear out, the ones I only use occasionally last a lot longer and so does cardigans that doesn’t go in the wash as often. I think it is reasonable to think that you will be wearing that cardigan 4 years from now and therefore should plan for that before you start.

These are the colours I have chosen.

Colours fall 2015

There is quite a difference from the palette I made last time, only the foundation colours navy, grey and pink have stayed the same.

Colours

When choosing your colours have these 3 questions in mind.

  1. Do they look go on you?
  2. Do they mix well with each other, can all/most be paired and look good?
  3. Do they mix well with your existing wardrobe?

It can be a good idea to ask someone you trust if the colours suit you, it can sometimes be difficult to be objective about your favourite colours. E.g. I love turquoise but it don’t look great on me exactly and believing I could wear it, I made this dress and never wear it.

Whether you make your own clothes or you buy ready made this is something good to have in mind. I keep my palette in my wallet so I can always refer to it when I suddenly feel the urge for a new skirt.

Say No to fast fashion | step 1 Identify what works

Say No to fast fashion

It is almost 2 years since I last wrote about wardrobe planning and it has been too long. My style and the colours I long for have changed since then. Last time I planned to eliminate all black and go for navy instead, now I want black (this is new for me, I have always avoided black until a year ago), really deep black leggings and a nice skirt and a blouse have become my standard outfit for all semi-formal occasions.

The garment in my wardrobe that I wear the most

Appart from leggings that I wear almost every day and underwear. This will be cold whether inside as I’m freezing a lot and autumn has definitely arrived.

Skirts

Zinnia 50's blouse Delphine mimi skirt blouse Delphine skirt remake yellow skirt

Dresses

Velvet Washi dress teachers dress manchester Kimono Sleeve dress Robe brigitte

Blouses

Tap shorts Alice blouse tap shors Alice top 50's blouse

Cardigans

Mmmay15 nancy zinnia Veste Bernadette Forest cardigan Argo Washi dress Kerrera cardigan outfit

I want all the new things I make to really fit in with what I already have, I have started to slow down in my personal knitting and sewing as I do when I feel like I have filled my needs. My crafting is driven by “necessity” even if it is an imaginary need. I love to sew fancy dresses, to make pyjamas and coats, but for some reason I just stop making for myself when my wardrobe is full. Instead I make gifts or stock up baby cloths but at a much slower rate. I think that this is healthy and only wish that I could keep my reasoning from the down time when I’m in a making frenzy as this two phases go back and forth in my life.

Going forward I want to keep my head in the frenzy phase where all I want is to make the latest indie pattern, I think that I’ve been a little better for the past year but improvement is still needed. I want to make sure before I start that this item will be something I will love and use until it can no longer be repaired.

From the most used garments, I look at them and see them as shapes, this is what works well for me. 

  • A-line skirts
  • loose fitting blouses
  • warm semi fitted cardigans with long lines
  • marked under-bust/high waist dresses with loose skirts
  • details details details, I am so much more likely to like and wear any thing with a collar, lace, lots of button plates, yoke details and so on.

Please share you thoughts in the comments or a link, I’d love to hear what you think.


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