I’ve finally got around to sorting out my rainwater collection system. It’s a job I had a basic idea of how to do in theory (take everything apart, move the attachment which diverts the water from the drainpipe up about a hand-span and mend the resulting hole where it used to be, and put a tap in on the pipe which takes the water to the water butts). But I was scared to do it in case I did something wrong and had to call out a plumber to fix the resulting mess.

The problems were that the water wasn’t moving from the drainpipe to the water-butts (hence wanting to move the attachment up so there was a downhill gradient) and also that when it does work and the butts get full, there is no way to stop them overflowing. If there was space to put the water butts (I have 2 lovely huge recycled plastic ones) next to the drainpipe which receives the water off the roof there wouldn’t be either of these problems, but I don’t have that option as it’s on the side of the house and there isn’t space to put the butts there and still get bikes to the shed.

Strangely it turned out to be much simpler than I’d thought because once I took everything apart and cleaned it out I realised the flow was being stopped by a build up of gunk rather than the height of the attachment. So cleaning it was sufficient. The tap was a case of moving one from a previous version of this rainwater collection system, cutting a small section out of the pipe (my neighbour helpfully lent me his hacksaw for this) and fitting it in.

And now it works! Months of dithering and putting it off solved in about an hour. And I’ll know how to clean it out if it gets blocked up again. I think two things finally helped me do it – deciding that I’d rather get a plumber than live any longer failing to benefit from all this rain we’ve been having, and knowing that I had said I’d do this 7x7 make and mend jubilee and hadn’t got on with it. And today’s rain has given me 1 ½ butts full of wonderful water for my greenhouse! 1

Ann is sharing with us her adventure in making and mending. I hope you will be as inspired as I am!

Project name:-

Rag rug back door mat.

 RagRug

Why are we undertaking this project? What has motivated us?

Fed up of muddy footprints paddling the kitchen floor. Various door mats have been tried, none absorb the moisture very well. Denim seems quite absorbent, so spent several years collecting old jeans – ones too badly worn for the charity shop. Inspiration from my long deceased grandparents and the stories I heard as a child.

Materials used and sourced from:-

          7 pairs of old jeans, mainly my old ones, but some donated by a friend.    The backing material came from ebay.

Length of time taken:-

          About 6 weeks.

Total cost:-

          £7.70

Our experience of this project:-

We liked…

The contrast in colours; the experience of sitting down to make this. We like the finished mat, it is working exceedingly well. We like that we have used jeans that would have been thrown out.

We didn’t like….

          It was boring at times and made a lot of cotton thread on the floor.

We would do differently next time…

There is a slight twist on the finished mat, caused by each knot going diagonal across 2 squares. Next time we would do it to the adjacent square, not the diagonal.

How have we benefited from doing this?..

          A clean kitchen floor, and the satisfaction of making it ourselves.

What resources did we use?

          Youtube, for instructions.

When we think of landfill we usually think of white goods and household waste but it seems that not much consideration is given to sanitary protection.  On single woman will use around 11,000 sanitary towels and tampons in her lifetime.  In just one year 4.3 billion sanitary items are disposed of in the UK. When one considers that there are an estimated 15 million women who are of menstrual age in the UK this means a lot of landfill.

Not only this but in many cases these products also include a highly absorbent chemical made from petroleum or wheat. Some use recycled paper, which sounds great. Sadly this uses bleaching to give the ‘clean’ white colour that pads have, and the chemical used is often dioxin -known to compromise women’s health. There is also the consideration of the amount of energy it takes to make these products as well as the waste and by products that need to be disposed of.

So what better way to reduce landfill, re-cycle, re-purpose and create something that benefits the environment as well as the person? Hand-made sanitary pads! These are exactly what we made at a festival workshop in April. Guided by Cat Bellinger, a dedicated re-purposer, recycler and queen inventions, we were guided through the simple stages of cutting out a shape, sewing the relevant layers and making a button hole for the button attachment. Even those of us who were stitch-craft numptys managed to whip up a pad made entirely from clean recycled pyjamas, bath towels, cloth nappies and old dresses.

Sanitary Towel

 There is a science to it though; it is useful to know what type of fabric to put where in order to make the one piece pad as absorbent as possible (attach the inside material to the towelling inside, and then sew it separately to the fleece backing). It is also helpful to do a few extra stiches in specific places to ensure the pads and their padding stay in one place and do not move around. All this makes for a more comfortable wear, which is important. All pads were hand stitched but there is the option to use a sewing machine if preferred.

Menstruation isn’t really a subject that gets talked about much, but to sit in a room with other women and be open about our experience of mooncups, childbirth and subsequent ‘flow’ as well as the menopause and experience of menses was much like I imagine a Red Tent experience. The session was gratifying as well as practical. I shall be making more as gifts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frfWGdPX_yw Toxins in sanitary pads

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGmA71o7p5s How disposable sanitary pads are made.

Yvette de Silva.

In Elspeth first make and mend article (here), Elspeth was in the process of completing a fruitcage, using coppiced hazel from the garden, and 8 sturdy uprights from her neighbours’ trampoline net. Guess what? We have just received a message:

My fruitcage is finished! With the help of my friend Jill, we managed to do it before the pigeons, squirrels and magpies discovered the fresh buds on the currant bushes and cherry trees. Attached is a picture, complete with snowy white cherry blossom. I'm looking forward to our first cherries this year!

Elspeth

fruitcage

In Elspeth first make and mend article (here), Elspeth was in the process of completing a fruitcage, using coppiced hazel from the garden, and 8 sturdy uprights from her neighbours’ trampoline net. Guess what? We have just received a message:

My fruitcage is finished! With the help of my friend Jill, we managed to do it before the pigeons, squirrels and magpies discovered the fresh buds on the currant bushes and cherry trees. Attached is a picture, complete with snowy white cherry blossom. I'm looking forward to our first cherries this year!

Elspeth

fruitcage