Category Archives: helping the planet

Oops, I missed some yarn


I was feeling pretty accomplished after last night’s stash organisation and today I was reading a thread on Ravelry which someone started called Flash Your Stash 2021. There is a thread like that every year and while I didn’t post my photos in there I did have a realisation that I hadn’t included my WIPs in yesterday’s blog post.

Works in Progress are kinda sorta part of the stash. After all, they aren’t FOs, and there may well be some yarn left over when they are finished that will end up in the stash. So tonight I pulled my two WIPs (yes, only two) out of their bags in the living room next to my end of the sofa and laid them out.

The Turtle Dove sweater is almost done. I bought 10 balls of the Cygnet Chunky from Wool Warehouse especially for this project and I will have over 4 balls left when I’m done.

This colour doesn’t photograph well in artificial light. I have a little bit of ribbing to finish on one cuff and then a second sleeve to knit.

The other WIP is one that has been hibernating for a really long time. Thanks to my Ravelry project page, I can see that I cast on this blanket on October 14th 2019. Yes, you read that right. It’s been hanging around for 15 months. I have a strong suspicion I should unravel it and maybe start a crochet one instead. I’m not loving the colour combination so far.

All of these worsted weight acrylics were intended to go into the blanket but I became less inspired by them as the blanket grew! Maybe one evening I will enjoy some mindless frogging and plan something new.

New venture


I do apologise if this blog gets a little quieter in future. However I have been working on setting up a brand new website/blog all about the benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based diet.

Having been vegan for thirty years, and getting more and more interested and informed on the plethora of scientific evidence that this is the way of the future, I wanted to start putting my money where my mouth was, as it were. Actually, I have, for now, set up a free WordPress blog, so no financial investment at this time. However since graduating from the Centre for Nutrition Studies Plant-based nutrition course at eCornell, and even before that, I have wanted to do something concrete to help get the word out.

I know there are many resources out there, but each website, book or documentary adds a little more to the mix, and different approaches appeal to different people. Even if only a handful of people get the message via my new blog, and it makes a difference in their lives, then it is worth doing.

The yarn has been lying dormant for a couple of days while I played with Squarespace (professional but even though it is supposedly user-friendly I found it frustrating to set up), considered my options (do I want to commit to a monthly fee for a site which won’t be generating income, at least initially), investigated the WordPress options (from free up to $30 a month, depending) and just dived in to a regular basic blog because I just wanted to get started already!

Setting up the blog took a bit of time, getting the first two posts published, creating a new Facebook page, opening up a new Twitter account, and I needed to get out for a walk in the evening to burn off some of the tension of all that laptop time.

I’d love it if you were to check out my new website, Grains, Greens, Berries & Beans. Long name but I like the alliteration and the other options I considered were already taken. My youngest son helped with the logo that appears on my Facebook and Twitter profiles. I gave him my idea on paper and he translated it into digital!

I have so much information to share that it will take a long time to publish just what I already have planned, and of course new things are appearing on the web all the time. I hope to create a comprehensive resource for all things related to the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle. I’m excited to get on with it.

Thanks for visiting.


Making my own pads


You may recall a while ago I made a camera bag for ds3, after which I was left with a piece of ripstop nylon. I also have quite a lot of cotton flannelette that I was given by a friend who has been decluttering for some time now in anticipation of a house move. And another friend moved recently and gave me a bag of sewing notions which included a small amount of Velcro-type hook and loop fastening.

I made a prototype panty liner with a layer of ripstop nylon for water repellency, a layer of flannelette for absorbency, and a crosswise strip of the nylon with little squares of hook and loop to hold it in place. I tested it. It was okay, but not perfect.

I usually keep a supply of small thin pads around as I have used a menstrual cup (a Keeper or a Diva cup) for about 12 years now, but some days the flow is heavy enough to need a bit of insurance.

I felt it was time to once again have a go at making my own. Tonight I ran up eight of them. It didn’t take long.

For each pad, you start with two rectangles of flannelette cut 6 x 2.5″, one rectangle of ripstop nylon cut to the same size, and another rectangle of the nylon cut 5 x 1″. Plus about half an inch of hook and loop.

Pin the two layers of flannelette together with the layer of nylon, hold a commercial pad over the top (this is optional, you could just wing it), round the corners and curve the sides in. Once that’s done, pin the small rectangle of nylon across the back of the pad. Zigzag around the whole pad. Use a straight stitch to sew the hook and loop onto the ends of the ‘wings’ so it will wrap around your underwear.

I was VERY slapdash about my stitching, but you of course can make yours look much nicer!  (You can click on the small pics to see them full size.)

Let me know in the comments what you like to do to reduce the waste that’s going into the landfill!

Home-made soymilk


I’ve recently been thinking about cutting back on the expense of commercial soymilk and becoming less reliant on the supermarket. Making one’s own ‘milk’ is so easy and relatively inexpensive too. In fact there was a great link on Facebook this week about making your own ‘milk’ from all sorts of nuts and seeds, even buckwheat, of which we have an abundant supply, as Tai Chi Man eats it regularly for breakfast. image

I tend not to go overboard on vegan stuff here on the blog, so suffice it to say that plant milks are beneficial for

(a) people: nutritious  and delicious without the suffering, antibiotics and hormones inherent in commercially produced dairy milk

(b) animals: they don’t need to die for us to eat well

(c) the environment: cutting down on intensive cattle raising, with its huge use of water, ginormous piles of cow poop and clouds of methane, has to be a good thing.


I used to have a soymilk maker, where you soaked the beans and then put them in a metal basket inside the jug with water, where the blades blitzed the heck out of them and created the ‘milk.’ When I bought my Vitamix, I gave away the other machine, and finally, after a few years of buying cartons of soymilk, I have started making my own again.


The Vitamix book said to soak the beans overnight, steam them for five minutes, then use a cup and a half of beans to three cups of water. I actually pressure cooked mine for the five minutes, let the pressure come down naturally, and then froze the beans in yogurt pots so that I could just defrost a small amount at a time.


Well, the first batch was really sludgy. Way too many beans.

So I cut it down to one cup. Still too thick. Then three quarters of a cup. Much better. I add a quarter teaspoon of Himalayan salt and a tablespoon of organic sugar, and it tastes great. The true test, to me, was that I can use it in my Yorkshire tea and it is actually fine. I don’t strain it, and I give it a shake before pouring any out, but it can still get a bit thick at the bottom of the jar, so my latest batch is two thirds of a cup of beans to three cups of boiling water, blitzed at high speed for up to a minute with the salt and sugar, and the resultant quantity fits perfectly into a large mason jar.


It’s great that there is way less stuff going into the recycling bin too.

FO and nests for wildlife


I have found my next project, and probably many more after that. Wildlife Rescue Nests is an organisation founded in Canada which has spread to many other countries. They have a Facebook page and a website.

If you wish to knit or crochet nests for orphaned animals and birds and donate them to your local rescue agencies, you will need to sign up on the Facebook page, read the terms and conditions, and download the patterns. They are made with two strands of medium weight yarn and worked tightly to make them as firm as possible. Such cute photos of the nests in use by tiny rescued creatures!

Tonight however I have finished my scrappy basket. Once again, it’s nighttime and I only have living room shots! Final measurements when laid flat – 16″ across and 17″ deep. I stuffed my Boho Cosy Wrap inside it to show it standing up so I can attest to the fact that it will hold a lot of yarn.

This project used ALL my small random balls of yarn, although I have to confess to tossing out a little bit of laceweight that I just couldn’t see myself ever using, and a small quantity of super bulky has been tucked in with some of its friends downstairs.

I made it up as I went along, starting with a chain at the bottom centre, which I worked around in an oval until it was big enough, then continued without increasing for the sides. I decreased six stitches about a third of the way up, then repeated that about two thirds of the way up. The top edge is finished with reverse sc.

I’ve only woven in a couple of ends around the top/handles, and I may just leave the rest. It’s not quite as self-supporting as I’d hoped, so I shall just have to keep it filled with yarn and/or a project.




ever heard of tarn?


Tarn – or t-yarn – is yarn made from old T-shirts. Tai Chi Man was throwing out some old worn shirts so I cut off the bottom hem and then cut a continuous strip, about an inch wide (though my cutting was very wobbly) from the bottom up to the armpits.

These are some of the balls of tarn that resulted from all that cutting. It’s very forgiving stuff as it curls in on itself so it doesn’t really matter if it’s not perfectly cut.

The first day’s progress, started because I’d had enough of cutting T-shirts and just wanted to get on with it.

It’s pretty tedious but not as hard on the hands and wrists as actually crocheting the stuff. I’m not sure what size crochet hook I’m using – it’s the second largest that I own, probably about 15mm. I just chained 31, then made 30 single (double in UK) stitches across the row. After a few rows I managed to lose one stitch but now am holding steady at 29.

At least it grows fast. This will make an absorbent hardwearing floor mat. If I had a lot of more colourful shirts, I think I’d make something prettier than a mat….maybe a bag of some kind.

Buy Nothing Day


Yesterday was Black Friday in the US – a day when, it is said, many businesses sell so much stuff that their finances go into the black. It was also Buy Nothing Day, a day that was created in direct opposition to the materialism and craziness of Black Friday.

I started a thread on Ravelry’s Remnants forum about it a couple of days ago, and the debate continues.

There is a website called Buy Nothing Christmas and they have a very useful list of alternative ideas for giving at Christmas. Of course these ideas would work for any special occasion throughout the year.

Our family opted out of the commercial Christmas about 5 years ago. I initiated a new festival for our family – or should I say an old one – Yule, or Winter Solstice, which we celebrate on December 21st. We have a tree, we bake, we give each other gifts. But we don’t trawl the malls looking for things to buy just because we feel obliged. “Santa” may not visit our house any more but instead the children put more thought into giving to each other.

“Shopping” or “Retail Therapy” is a hobby that promotes environmental degradation, debt and stress. If every single one of us was to look around us with fresh eyes at the stuff that’s in the stores, especially the cheap crap that many offer, we would see the stupidity of a wasteful society that just wants stuff for the sake of having it. Keeping up with the latest in technology, just because we feel entitled. Forget keeping up with the Joneses – when I look at my neighbour’s stuff, like an RV or quad bike or boat, I see debt. And the money is lining the pockets of the huge corporations and their CEOs.

Happiness doesn’t come from having more material possessions. It comes from inside, it’s all about attitude and perspective. And I’m grateful for that.


bags and rags


I came across a pile of T-shirts in my sewing room the other day. I’d forgotten about them – I left them there because I wasn’t wearing them any more. I don’t know about you, but I usually drop something down the front of them, it leaves a grease spot that never washes out, then they’re relegated to wearing underneath sweaters!

It was an easy matter to get out my nice sharp sewing shears, cut off the sleeves and scoop out the neckline (or not if it was already deep enough), hem the raw edges and close up the bottom. It takes all of ten minutes to make a new shopping bag.

Not only that, but I was left with a few sleeves and other pieces of soft cloth which went into the rag bag in the utility room for clean-up jobs.

A Mouse in my Computer Room!


Yes, I know I have a mouse on my desk next to my computer, but this was a REAL mouse, running around amongst the wires and Lego on the floor. (I have told my kids to wash their Lego.)

My teen told my husband early yesterday morning that he’d seen a mouse in the family room. I had to go out yesterday, but before I went I left a couple of buckets out with food in them in the hope the mouse would trap itself. It didn’t, though it was probably hiding out, away from L’s loud music.

While I was out, I bought two of these (only $3.99 each) and set them up with a dab of peanut butter in them, as per instructions. I also cleared out the Lego and some other stuff and vacuumed the room, as there were crumbs on the floor, evidence not only of the mouse chomping on something but also left around by said teen and his snacking.

I’m glad to say that while the rest of us were in bed, L heard a click and some scratching and the mouse was caught. He released it outside, unharmed. Hopefully it didn’t have any friends in the house with it….and we’ll be more careful about keeping the back door closed in future.

I had a good stretch of knitting time yesterday while talking with my friend, and this is the progress I made on the new pair of socks. The yarn has some lovely colours in it – hopefully you can appreciate them in the picture.

I was wearing the other ones that I finished recently and I would have liked them to be more snug. So instead of 64 stitches, I cast on 60 for this pair, and I’m going to make the ribbing on the cuff a bit longer too.

I’m so used to the way the cotton/elastic elann esprit hugs the foot that anything else feels odd.

And finally, I heard today about this – This group is trying to put pressure on Clorox, who own Brita (yeah, really), so that they will sell recyclable filters for their jugs. In Europe, of course, this is already happening. Sign the petition and if you have a bunch of used filters, as I have, send them to this group so they can flood Clorox with a tonne of them and get their message across.