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October?! How did we get here so fast!

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And I thought 2016 was bad…

Beginning of October – how did we get here? I guess that everyone is feeling the same. 2020 has not exactly gone as planned for the world at the moment. I had so many plans this year for Scatty Knits. Three craft fairs were booked in for March, I intended to apply for the magnificent Make and Mend in the Grainger market and was eyeing up the best options for summer and winter plans. 

The mural was created by graffiti artist Steve Nesbit at a home in Woolsington Source: The Chronicle online

And then of course covid-19. I’ve been a shielder for the initial lockdown, but this is not a post to complain. I have been very lucky, a partner who took on everything that he needed to, a job that I did from home and my ever present WIPs to keep me occupied. 

But of course it has set back my plans for the business, but all told I’ve been able to keep going so I feel like I’m pretty much winning 2020. All things considered. 

Zero waste, charity shops & #secondhandseptember 

I have missed my charity shop rummages, though, I love love love charity shops – the quirkiness and the random nature of the findings are fabulous. it always amazes me the items I can walk away with. Perfect jeans, t shirts, silk skirts, designer shoes. But I have to admit my greatest delight is the crockery and home items. I will acknowledge that I don’t buy much as generally it would be a want not a need but I could quite happily bring a chair, tea and a sandwich and browse for hours.

Vintage stone hot water bottle
Seriously, you could not put this in a child’s bed today!

There are always so many memories that surface as often the crockery is the same as the priced possessions that my grandmother kept in her china cabinet. My fave discovery was an old stoneware hot water bottle exactly like the one that I was tucked into bed with in the early 70s. I will say that I am in search of the perfect 70s fondue set so if you see one in a charity give me a shout. 

Of course, charity shops are now also one of my suppliers for Scatty Knits. It is astounding the excellent quality and unblemished stock that they cannot sell or even the stock with one or two holes that could easily be mended to extend its life. The lockdown and the new restrictions have made it more difficult for me to gain fabric, especially for my mittens so I was delight to catch a listing on the Oxfam site which solved one shortage.  

My Oxfam haul

I do have special place in my heart for Oxfam charity shops as I was a volunteer when I was at university. Every Saturday (hangover or not) I pitched up at 9.00 a.m. to work the shop floor or sort donations in the back. Us students were marshalled by a formidable team of older ladies whose capacity for hard work and ‘cracking on’ was only exceeded by their capacity for tea and biscuits. Not long arrived in the Midlands I loved that they all called me ‘me duck’.

But I digress…

Fab stuff, Oxfam!

So I discovered that Oxfam sells cashmere rejects for the bargain price of £20. You get 5 items where you can requests colours but not sizes or types of garments. To say that I’ve been impressed with the quality of the garments received is an understatement. Firstly, while there are some holes it does not ruin the garment and the rejects are will worth the money. Nice one, Oxfam!   

Cashmere goodies – I see mittens in their future…

You can check out the order process here, if you are interested

My contrado order 

I also spotted on my research for zero waste fabric sources that Contrado was offering their cutting room floor waste for free as long as you paid for the postage. Well, tickle me pick and colour me happy. I’d ordered before I even had time to think about it. I went for the 2kg mixed bag as I love a bit of fabric experimentation. They do however do a 100% cotton bag as well. Another success as it really does tie in with my goals of zero waste production. It also helps with a personal challenge I have set myself to explore the possibilities of the fabric that I have and use it in as many different ways as possible. 

All of the fabric provided were white or cream. It wasn’t just scraps some excellent lengths were provided. So expected some unusual makes in the lead up to Christmas. Get your creative juices flowing and help reduce textile waste by ordering from Contrado here.

FULL DISCLOSURE: These are not ads but my genuine experiences of ordering and paying for my own order. Neither Oxfam or Contrado asked me to write this post. In fact I am pretty sure that they are unaware of it as I think the only people reading my blog are my brother, sister-in-law, my partner (and they are contractually obligated as they are family).  

Moving into Autumn and winter 

I think we can all agree that Autumn is here. I’m already seeing an increasing demand for the sweater mittens and fingerless mittens. So I’ll be adding more as October goes on. Remember all of my products are complete one – offs and are reliant on the fabric sources from charity shops and industry off-cuts. So if you see something you like – buy it because it will never appear again.

  • Bright blue recycled sweater mittens
  • Baby mittens with purple merino liner
  • Toddler pink and brown striped mittens

Recycling discount 

As mentioned I am finding it difficult to access my usual sources of woollens in particular this year. So if you are in the position of wanting to recycled some woollens with stains or holes or even some felted disaster, please pass them along. In return you will get a special Scatty Recycler 10% discount. I need specifically 100% wool (not hand knitted), if you are not sure email me with a pic of the knit and the label and I’ll get back to you ASAP. It’s also a great opportunity to get that special pairs of mittens made for yourself or a loved one from a treasured sweater.  

Shop updates 

This Autumn and winter all shop updates will be rolling out at 7 p.m. every Friday night.  But if you would like priority access to new makes and the chance to go dibs on new makes then sign up for my new weekly newsletter which will be send out on Thursday.

Right, I best go – those mittens aren’t going to cut themselves….

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Scatty knits’ zero waste manufacturing (ZWM)

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AKA It’s more fun than it sounds

There is no Planet B

A sneak into the Scatty process…

There is no doubt that in the last few years there has been a huge rise in information about sustainability. Bloggers, upcycling influencers, zero waste websites and articles. You look for advice and resources ending up with 30 different ideas and directions to go. But also with the sounds of ‘green washing’ ringing in your ears. I am particularly uncomfortable with some brands waving the organic and sustainable flag and still exploiting workers.   

Fashion Revolution's Who Made my clothes' campaign
Check out the outstanding campaign by Fashion Revolution

What’s a Scatty to do?

The impact of all of this that when I focused on the idea of zero waste production as one of Scatty’s goals, I had to pin down how this would work in practice. I had a very literal interpretation of a term, so I presumed that ‘zero waste’ meant zero i.e. no waste. While the term zero waste actually means 

The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.

Source: Zero waste International Alliance

So, obviously a little more complex than I had thought! Over the month of August I’m going to take time to explore the concepts of zero waste and the practicalities of aiming for this in my making process. As well as sharing some of the fascinating work of zero waste designers in the fashion industry that I’ve found in my ‘research’ (endless surfing for understanding) 

Spoiler Alert

I’m definitely no expert and this is mostly a record of my journey – warts and all. False steps, missteps and arse over tits steps. 

I think, therefore I’m Scatty…

This week I want lay out the somewhat muddled (dare I say Scatty) thinking that led to the #UseEveryScrap. 

Let’s do the time warp…

SO lets go back to the heady days of 2017 when I wasn’t under lock down and spoke face to face with actual people. I had been working for the magnificent Woolly Pedlar (Sue) producing sweater mittens. Adults, children and babies, but no matter how clever I was with my cutting layouts, I was still left with unused felted wool. 

Recycled baby mittens
Bright pink baby mittens to add oomph to any chilly little handsies

Aha!, said the creative Sue, make garlands from the scraps. And so the Christmas reusable, upcycled and almost zero waste garlands arrived. I say almost zero waste because I still had scraps left – too small to make anything with. However, being the hoarder that I am I couldn’t bare to throw them out so began my scrappy wool mountain collection.

Recycled wool garlands
Festive garlands – have an eco friendly celebration!

I never made that, but how hard can it be…

But then my neighbour (Hi Eleanor!) asked for a custom make of a draught excluder and so the scraps became stuffing. Suddenly there were no heavy wool scraps left behind. I liked this very very much. It was like a huge win. No scraps left + new makes that I had had no intention to make at the beginning + the discovery of bits of the floor in my sewing room that I had not seen in months. 

My lightbulb moment

The fabric from charity shops and textile waste had driven the products instead of virgin fabric being produced at huge environmental costs for freshly designed products.

SO that’s Scatty in a nutshell, I don’t set out to make a particular consistent one product. Instead the fabric available drives what I make. I buy fabric from from charity shops (the items that can’t be sold), or the waste from the cutting room floor from commercial production and I attempt to use it all. 

Hasta la vista baby bin

My only ‘waste’ should be thread trimmings. As soon as I figure out how to use those effectively, its game over for my little waste bin. 

Not waste bin
My not waste bin – scraps for stuffing

Never in the world…

On the micro scale I’m attempting a zero waste production model. It’s not sophisticated but it is effective. As a curious little soul this of course got me thinking if I’m doing it there much be other people doing the same thing but hopefully on a bigger scale and so began the zero waste manufacturing research (search for tips on how to do it better). I was really down the rabbit hole now as I discovered zero waste design as a part of the manufacturing process. Now this delighted my tidy little soul as the design process was intending to tackle the astounding fact that 

About 15% of fabric intended for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor. This  waste rate has been tolerated industry-wide for decades.Timo Rissanen

upcycled lambswool messenger bag
Messenger bag produced from cutting room floor waste

But that’s a blog post for another week…

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#memademay – my so called lockdown life

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Slow fashion plans…

Lockdown life

It would be a bit remiss of me if i didn’t mention the current situation on the blog. After all these are unprecedented times – anyone else beginning to hate that word? Like many all over the UK I’m under lockdown – well, I’m actually being shielded so I’ve only left the house twice in the last 10 weeks (and that was to go to hospital). Luckily as an card carrying introvert I’ve been training for lockdown my whole life. I understand that so many people are finding it really difficult but as I work from home its pretty much business as usual for me.

During lockdown, you can’t complain if this is the view 👍

Cost per wear

Except that it’s given me the impetus to put into place my long held clothes sewing plans. My clothes consumption is pretty modest, in fact I’m struggling to remember the last time I bought something – I think it was about three years ago. As I work from home – it’s t-shirt and comfy yoga style pants, jeans if I go out with knitted tops and shirts. I also have to admit that I tend to wear clothes into the ground and refuse to let them go until I have rung every last wear out of them, which may be why I am currently wearing a t shirt I bought in 2005 in Vancouver. It still looks good so I’m hoping for another 15 years at least. 😂 I think working on a cost per wear the company is currently paying me! I haven’t always been frugal in my consumption but the older I get the more I’m aware that I don’t need to buy even an 1/4 of what I once did.

One in, one out

I now operate on a ‘one in, one out, recycled or deadstock material, charity shop find’ policy. As always I’ve got ambitious plans for someone who has made exactly one dress, one skirt and one top. I’ve been regularly stalking independent pattern sites to draw up a list of possible makes. You can check out the full list on my pinterest board here. Clearly I know I’ll probably not make all of them but the patterns were too pretty not to save. I’m a pretty casual person so the patterns need to fit in my that style as well as the lifestyle that I lead. If I ever get out of lockdown I’m a shirt and jeans type of person. The standing joke in my family has always been that if I ever get married it would have to be in jeans (and they’re not wrong).

The makes

1. Tonic tee by SBCC patterns

A definite wardrobe essential

I love the simplicity and inclusivity of the pattern and I’m hoping that this will be a go to make. The pattern was free when you signed up the newsletter. I got the original copy many years ago but they have just released an update. Unbelievably generous for a free pattern. So there is now a long sleeved version as well. I’m starting with the short sleeve. The pdf pattern pieces are assembled, fabric chosen (two recycled grey cotton t shirts which I can salvage enough fabric from). I just have to make it now!

2. Sorbetto by Colette patterns

I’m thinking in purple….

Next up is another free pattern which I gained access to by signing up for the newsletter. It is simple sleeveless top that is almost identical to one of my favourite pieces EVER! This is still in my wardrobe (it’s only 8 years old so it’s practically a baby) but it is a delicate little piece so I keep it for special occasions even though I would happily wear it everyday. I’ve some paisley lightweight cotton which should just have enough yardage (fingers crossed)

3. Yoga pants from Craftsy

Many years ago I signed for Craftsy which is now bluprint. I loved the variety of the classes and the excellent videos. But I found (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) that I would watch the entire class (as I didn’t want there to be any surprises/techniques I didn’t know) and then I wouldn’t make the item as I was so daunted! However, I watched the class on the yoga pants and have the pattern so I’m going to give that one a go.

4. Plaintain t shirt by Deer and Doe

Another free pattern when you sign up for the newsletter (are you seeing a pattern here?). I thought this long sleeved t shirt would be great for autumn and winter. I’ve got some great recycled jersey fabric but this will be a bit patchwork so will need careful planning.

So that’s the initial set up at the moment. Suffice it to say these are slow makes, so don’t be expecting them next week. I’ll be concentrating on sewing for the business first, making scrubs for the NHS next and personal makes after that.

Of course there is always the knitting… I was working on Lang Ayre, a gorgeous hap in the Book of Haps. But it’s currently in ‘time out’ for being naughty – which basically means that the maths illiterate me got the stitch count wrong again. So I switched to Hancock which is being much better behaved. Being a nice tweedy yellow it’s a rather mindless and thoughly enjoyable knit.

On a side note, if you are looking for a lovely little film to watch (possibly while knitting) I’d recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. No, you’re crying…

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Slow fashion – 2020 WIPs and FOs

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My name’s Bev and I’m a ‘startalcoholic’. In the interests of full disclosure I want to state clearly that I’m not unhappy with this condition.  As a matter of fact, I genuinely think that life is too short not to cast on that shiny new project or yarn or to delve into sewing a bag or hat or anything else that floats your boat. 

When I first started knitting seriously, I thought that i was definitely an ‘end product’ type of knitter. I wanted to finish that sweater, cardigan, scarf or hat as I really really wanted to wear it. But then I met Ravelry. I am not saying that its been a bad influence, but it opened my eyes to thousands of patterns, yarns I’d never heard, designers who were using fascinating techniques. I’d thought I was hooked before but now I wanted to KNIT ALL THE THINGS NOW. 

And so begin my odyssey of starting all the things and in that process I realised that I just liked to knit and not necessarily finish. I liked the rhythm, the wool fondling as I knitted and getting my head wrapped around new techniques. I also found that I view wool as the ultimate reusable creative material. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve completed a blanket, sweater or shawl and then thought ‘oh, you would be so much better as …’ so off I go to frog and reknit that yarn.

It’s lucky that poor old Drops Andes is a robust little number as it’s been an eleventh hour blanket, Jong and now it’s a Carbeth. I’m not promising that that will be its final resting place though.  

The originals knit of Drops Andes, which became…
Round or square buttons 🤔

Because you know, new patterns and techniques are always shiny. 

Full disclosure: I currently have 15 WIPs on the needles. I’m not saying its only 15 but that’s all i can remember right now… 

If you are interested to see the current state of play, then check out my pinterest board of Slow fashion makes 2020.

Do you know I thought I might feel a little bit embarrassed about the number, but in reality I’m sitting thinking I could probably cast on another 15 and still think that that was a reasonable amount.  

That said at the start of this year I thought that I needed to strike a happy balance. While I’m not promising that I won’t cast on something new I am using 2020 as the year of finishing my WIPs. 

2020 FOs so far

This year I’ve already finished Cookie (it’s like wearing a big hug, and is getting loads of wear as I’m doing my best to self isolate at home. Cookie is from Rowan magazine 60 and the yarn was Rowan Brushed Fleece which the lovely Ian bought me as a pressie a few years ago. Like a lot of my clothes I went with the purple shade Hollow. It is a nice yarn to knit with and lovely and squishy to wear but it doesn’t half pill. So it will be getting some careful grooming to keep it looking good. Like all rowan patterns it was well written and I even got into a rhythm with the bobbles. Even though I was initially hampered by my inability to count to five consistently. Honestly if I’d know that maths was going to play such a big part in knitting I probably would have tried harder at it in school.  But, and this is just a personal bug bear about patterns, it contained my two least favourite things – a small chart (make them bigger folks!) and the dreaded instruction …and at the same time which is half way down the page when I’ve been merrily knitting and not reading ahead. 

(I know that is my own fault…) 

Carbeth is mostly finished as well – just needs the buttons but as always I’m dithering over round or square wooden buttons from our homemade button range. I’ve knitted a few of Kate Davies patterns and totally love them. Interesting to knit and the end product is always attractive. 

Back view Of Carbeth

Another almost FO is the magnificent Persian Dreams blanket.  This beauty was started right back in 2016 (it is officially my slowest make… but the Saxifrage socks are snapping at its heels!). After reading all the notes on Ravelry about the construction I kind of reversed the knitting – deciding to knit from the outside in rather that the inside out of the hexagon. Mainly because I wanted to pick up stitches and join each hexagon as I went along to save some grafting at the end. It worked a treat it did mean that it was an ‘at home’ knitting project as it was too bulky to transport. On the upside it made for a toasty lap warmer while knitting. I also changed the border to an applied i-cord, simply because I like knitting them.

It’s still at the almost FO stage as I’ve got a billion ends to weave in, have to figure out how to block it and decide if I want to have a sew-on backing. These dilemmas don’t look like they would delay the finishing of this blanket but trust me I’m not called scatty for no reason. I bounce between ‘block it, its easy” and ‘who needs blocking?!’ as well as ‘back it, be professional!’ and ‘if you back it, thats less knitting time?! I probably change my mind about 30 times a day, but eventually a course will be decided on. I’ll keep you updated…

I’m ready for my close up…

While it was finished at the tail end of last year, I am going to include Affection in this round -up. This was another yarn which I love especially the chainette construction and the way it feels so fluffy. Originally I’d knitted this yarn as Mystery cardigan by Kim Hargreaves but wore it rarely as it felt a bit too floppy for that pattern. (The suggested yarn was Rowan felted tweed which would of course be a better fit – maybe these designers know a thing or two!) But it is suited to the style of the Affection sweater. Its is the recommended yarn (see note above about designers) I did worry that the yarn would be too dark (of course it’s purple – Guatemala) to really show off the cable pattern but I love it. Its cosy, just the right length for me and it is my current going out for special occasions wear. It is pairs so well with my favourite jewellery piece – waterfall necklace (another birthday pressie) 

BTW if you wondering why purple, check out the fabulous ‘When I am an old woman’ poem by Jenny Joseph…

So what about you what are your knitting plans this year? Are you upping your knitting output during the lockdown? How many WIPs have you got? Please, please tell me, its not just me!?

If you are interested in any of my FOs or WIPs you can check them out on Ravelry or on my pinterest board.  

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