Monday, 25 February 2013


A while ago a lady attending my crochet workshop told me a story about how prostitutes, in New Orleans, used to crochet edgings to embellish their clothing and make themselves more attractive. As a result, they became known as 'hookers'.  Of course being one for loving a story like this, I repeated this anecdote, on many occasions, to people that I have taught.  I wanted to find out if this story was true so have spent a while doing a bit of research and so far I have not found anything about the New Orleans 'hookers' but I did find references to Joseph Hooker a Major General (1814-79) during the Civil War in America.  Seemingly Hooker's troops were poorly disciplined and famous for fraternizing with the "working girls" of the day, in some accounts a practice tolerated by Hooker to the extent of allowing prostitutes to set up shop in the troopers' barracks.
Pink Lemonade by Flint Knits
Another theory is, that it is based on the slang term "to hook," which back then meant "to entice or swindle." An 1850 magazine illustration, for instance, titled "Hooking A Victim" shows ladies of the night, in hoop skirts no less, plying their trade at Broadway and Canal Streets in New York City.

Anyway, I rather like the idea of the first one, that it was a term used for embellishing items of clothing which is a little project I did this weekend.
Good bit of cloth but not keen on the flare!
This skirt was found in a charity shop but had a bit of a knee flair to it that I didn't like so off it was chopped to create a shorter version.

Next I did a blanket stitch to the lower edge marking equal spaces as I went along.  With this blanket stitch edging in place you can crochet easily around the bottom.  Into each of the spaces created by the blanket stitch I did 2 double crochet joining with a slip stitch at the end of the round.  I did a second round of double crochet adding in a simple fancy edging by doing a chain of 3 and slip stitching into the first chain to give it a picot edging.

 I am fairly pleased with the outcome but I think I may embellish it further.  Am not sure I will wear it with bare legs, mine are worse for wear these days, but it looks great over a pair of jeans!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Too many plastic bags...

On short journey to the cinema recently, my children counted, no less than 37 plastic bags caught up in trees.  Each bag counted raised their voices to an higher octave.  I think they were disgusted at the amount of plastic debris and well aware of the risks to wildlife.  I will tell you more about that in a moment.
Supermarket carpark plastic bag tree!
So, I did a quick metric and calculated that we had travelled 6 miles, so that's approx 6 bags/mile.  If you take the distance between John O Groats to Lands End it is approx 603 miles and times that by 6 bags/mile you get a whopping total of 3612 bags and that's if you go in a stright line.  Imagine if you travelled all the 2705 miles of road in the UK you might count up to a total of 16236.  That is alot of plastic floating around our small island.  Of course you might say that the roads in the countryside will have less bags so my calculation may be grossly overestimated but then again city centres may have more than my estimated 6bags/mile so I could have grossly underestimated my sample size. Regardless of my statistical inexperience the fact remains that there are plastic bags floating about in trees, I've seen it with my own eyes (see the above picture).  Not only do these bags get stuck in trees and verges, they also get into our water system.  It's a sad fact that over 1 million plastic bags  are consumed every minute globally and marine wildlife mistake them for food which kills them if consumed.

Image from the Marine Conservation Website
So what can we do help?  Last year, through a series of happy encounters I was introduced to Morsbags.  Morsbags is a global not-for-profit organisation. They are re-usable cloth bags made by volunteers using donated recycled fabrics, such as curtains and remnants, and given away free to the public at various local events. The idea is to encourage the use of re-usable bags instead of plastic carrier bags. Leicestershire, where I live, is a morsbag making hotspot, having made and given away over 25 000.  Last year I started my own local group and so far, our small group, has made 60 bags, most of which have been given away.

The day we caught a plastic bag in St Ives!
We meet approx once a month in the Greenacres Community room, The Sidings, Adjacent to the Leicester North Great Central Heritage Steam Railway Station in Leicester. We call ourselves the Morsbags Charnwood Pod. If you live nearby, why not come along to one of our sessions and have a go at making a bag. It is not just sewing, we need helpers to cut out, seam press, sew, and help give away the morsbags. We also have a fabric drop off box at the Greenacres Centre if you have any unwanted fabric remnants or curtains.  You can find details about the Charnwood Pod on our Facebook page.  If you don't live nearby then you can make your own bag or, better still, get some friends together and set up your own Morsbags Pod.

They're very easy to make!
I have measured the (rough) distance, from North to South, of Leicestershire and have calculated the number of miles by the number of plastic bags per mile and have come up with the number 240.  A challenge for the Charnwood Pod, for 2013, is to make that equivalent number of Morsbags - Can we do it - yes we can!