Monday, 14 September 2009

Upcycled Crochet Blanket – Montbretia & Earth Balls

Well it was quite a busy weekend with lots of tidying up in the garden and cramming as much in as possible into the short space of sunshine, we had. Needless to say there was much stiffness of muscles this morning.

Lots of chopping, trimming and pruning. I managed to plant quite a few lily bulbs and spruced up the containers at the front of the house. They are in shade most of the day so trying to find the appropriate plant to add a slash of colour wasn’t easy. I decided to dig and divide a few existing montbretia (crocosmia) plants which I hope will adapt and thrive in the old pieces of chimney pots. I absolutely love montbretia and it’s wonderful shades of red through to vivid oranges.


173-7357_IMGReady for action.  173-7356_IMG

My little helper eager to get on with the work!173-7358_IMG

I also planted all the lilies underneath the montbretia – it will either work or it won’t. You can get too uptight about gardening. As long as you are doing it – it doesn’t matter if you break the rules. What does matter is that you learn from both your mistakes and your own experience. I had looked up dividing monbretia on the internet and ended up with a vast array of differing opinions about the optimum time to divide. So I just went with the moment and with the sunshine and did it.

 173-7362_IMG Lily bulbs warming in the midday sun.

As I was doing various things in the garden I stumbles upon a new mushroom – fungi. As you know I have been studying these little beauties over the past month. This example is a beauty and I expect it will grow to a considerable size.

173-7365_IMG Earth ball. scleroderma verrucosum

Okay so what is all this hype about upcycling ?– it seems to be quite a buzzword and concept at the moment. But what is actually meant by upcycling rather than recycling?

Upcycling is a component of sustainability in which waste materials are used to provide new products. It is generally a reinvestment in the environment. "Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable or downcycled and transforming it into something of greater use and value."[citation needed] This process allows for the reduction of waste and virgin material use.

I personally think ‘upcycling’ has always been around – the make do and mend mentality. It seems to me that it has now been championed by the green movement and rebranded as a new ideal. I believe this ‘movement’ is re emerging again as people become increasingly disillusioned by materialism and it vacant trappings. I think there is a fundamental change occurring in peoples attitude towards disposable consumerism. No longer do people just want to replace an item that is old, outdated or broken. The ‘just throw it in the bin and buy a replacement attitude’ is receding.

Of course we all know people who have always retained these values throughout life. Not always by choice and quite often by necessity. We have lived in a society where consumerism has been the ruling dictate for too long and the upcycling movement will have long reaching implications for the generations to come. You can explore this concept further by visiting ,,,, to mention but a few.

Okay so I’ going to upcycle a granny square crochet blanket. This was given to me a while ago as someone’s unfinished WIP (work in progress). Being the old fashioned type a ‘recycler’ I intended to rip the blanket out so that I could use the yarn for some other project. Most unlike me, at the time, I had no particular plan or project in mind.

That was when I was a upcycle virgin or was it? I think we’ve all been upcycling forever, just my opinion.

173-7372_IMG 173-7374_IMGSo last night after all the garden work and feeling fairly drained I decided I need some ‘no brain’ activity. When I’m designing patterns or documenting them I’m always concentrating. A big granny square blanket crocheted in cotton is a pleasure to work with and I can do it with my eyes shut all at the same time as I’m actively upcycling – yippee. 

Next up I’ve been wondering why it is ,in the global knitting and crochet community, that if in the US a blanket is an afghan and everywhere else an afghan is a blanket. I know I do question the strangest things sometimes. Here is a quick resume of what wikipedia had to say.

An Afghan is a blanket, wrap, or shawl of colored yarn, knitted or crocheted in geometric shapes, also referred to as "throw blankets" or simply "throws". Afghans, throw blankets, and throw rugs, originally named because the materials used would decay and the items would be thrown away, were first made in Afghanistan and commonly included geometric designs and many holes in the pattern. The most common defining detail about afghans is that they are made from yarn and hand-stitched or knitted.[1] In North American craft tradition, Afghans are handcrafted blankets of various sizes to be draped over sofas or large chairs for decoration, and sometimes used for napping or warmth. Afghan blankets are normally homemade or gifted items and are rarely sold commercially.

There are many different designs and kinds of afghans and three main types: Mile-a-Minute afghans, join as you go afghans, and motif afghans. Mile-a-Minute afghans are usually (though not always) made in one piece and with a minimum of stitches. They are the simplest and easiest to make and are especially popular with beginners. Join as you go afghans are made up of many different pieces, often with one piece begun where the other leaves off. Motif afghans, such as the granny square, are composed of many different small pieces, often called motifs, squares, or blocks. These motifs or blocks may be all of the same design or all of different designs but are almost always the same size for ease of joining. This method of making afghans is preferred by many because of its portability and versatility of design.

Find my Handmade Silver Crochet or Knitting Stitch Markers here

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