Plastic Oceans Fundraiser

I watched A Plastic Ocean documentary on Netflix the other day for the second time. And I couldn't help it, I cried so much. Just watching how Dr. Jennifer Lavers on Lord Howe Island (World Heritage Site) pumps saltwater into the stomach of shearwater chick to get it vomit all plastic out. This was just one of many heartbreaking scenes happening as a result of human oblivious behaviour.

There is already so much plastic in our oceans that we most likely eat it in our fish and chips! You don't have to look for pieces of microplastics in your meal, it is the toxins which you can't see, released from plastic which end up in our food. Fish and sea birds mistaken plastic for food and they often die because their stomach does not process it and bloats. The record so far, Dr. Jennifer Lavers is saying in the documentary, is 276 pieces of plastic inside of one 90-day chick - 15% of its body mass. Compare it to a human body, it equals to 6-8 kilos in our stomachs. It's just unimaginable.

 Source:  WVSR

Source: WVSR

 

Me and my partner Mat were aware of this massive issue for few years now and always tried to recycle everything we bought, but we knew it is no way near enough. We started reading more about the issue and slowly started changing our lifestyle. We have always used our own bags for shopping but decided we have to make another step ( or more) so we started refusing buying anything in supermarket what is wrapped in single-use plastic. A perfect example is a cucumber. Why is it wrapped in the first place? Carrots and potatoes are not wrapped - because we usually peel them. We can peel cucumber too, so what is an exact purpose of that single use plastic?

We do shop at our local market, which still has lots of vegetables and fruit in plastic so we basically stopped buying most of the produce which is in plastic. It is a sacrifice, because we now can't eat certain things until we find a plastic free alternative. We bring our own containers to local butcher, bakery and cheese stall at the market. Farmers are not always friendly about it, but we are persistent and hope that more and more people will bring their own containers so farmers will stop giving out free plastic bags and will take containers from customers as a norm. I am really appalled when I see some of the shops with signs saying: We don't charge for plastic bags! As if it is a good thing. :(

We also started going to a local zero waste shop once in a while , where we bring our own containers and fill them with rice, pasta, herbs, nuts, etc. We are slowly using up all our shampoos and shower gels and creams and once used up, we will go for shampoo bars, soap bars, natural body butter in cardboard or metal containers.

Don't take me wrong, there is nothing wrong with reusable plastic. If you can use it over and over again, don't throw it away just to replace it for something else like glass. This actually makes it worse than better for the environment. We still use all our Tupperware for shopping (as I mentioned before, when we go to our local market) and refill our fabric softener bottle with softener in a zero waste shop. Always think about a purpose for your empty plastic bottle - what could you use it for after you have emptied it? Storage container, refill it?

The major problem which all of us can help tackle is to refuse single use plastic. You can start simply just with bringing your own tote bag when shopping and not buying 5p bags at the till. Or refusing to use a plastic straw when in the bar. Or check for ear buds made from bamboo sticks instead of plastic ones. That is already a HUGE impact. Surely you have seen this viral photo of a seahorse holding on a plastic ear bud instead of a sea weed. ;(

 

We need to change behaviour of big supermarkets. If you keep buying items which are unnecessary over-wrapped, they will simply keep selling them. Don't underestimate your power, because it is US who CAN make a change. Don't wait for somebody else to do it for you.

One of the major plastic problem which we had in our household was buying milk and juice. We have now founded a local milkman (yes, they still exist) and we get delivered milk (they do juice in glass too!) twice a week in a reusable glass bottle. It's a win win - helping a local farmer and not buying plastic. And it is not much more expensive than milk in a supermarket.

There is still so much we are battling with, but in a few months we have already reduced our recycling bin waste so much, that we take it out for emptying only once in 2 months and it is mostly full with glass and tins/cans! Our black bin (landfill) literally turned into a 'compost' bin. This is our next task, to have a compost bin so we can supply compost to our local public garden, so our 'landfill' bin will become mostly redundant.

As for Black Elephant, I have always tried to have as little plastic as possible whether when dyeing or posting orders. Only issue have been mailing bags, which I am using up now as I have now found biodegradable and recycled paper mailing bags so there will be no plastic when you order yarn from us.

My partner got so passionate about plastic free life that in two months he had managed to change his career 180 degrees and plunge into opening a zero waste shop in our local area as the one we used to travel to is just too far to shop regularly at. We are very excited to open in November.

And me, seeing him being so enthusiastic, I thought I will take my step further and Plastic Ocean Fundraiser has been created. I have been overwhelmed with so many of you supporting this cause. There is still 3 weeks to go to purchase one or more skeins of Plastic Oceans colourways - all inspired by colours in our oceans. You can find them in my Etsy shop. They will be also available to buy at Yarndale, Skipton - the last weekend in September. I hope to see you there!

From every skein sold I will donate £3 to Plastic Oceans Foundation which mission is to raise awareness on the issue of plastic pollution.  Human Race needs lots of educating into this issue which effects every species on this planet.

Plastic oceans Ban the Bag single ply.jpg

 

Remember, There is no Planet B - be considerate and think about your grandchildren. Start now, because you can.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter is coming

Since Northern Craft market in October and getting ready to sell in Bird's Yard in Sheffield I have been so busy I didn't get to write here at all. Weekend does not mean chilling out for me any more. But I want to work hard as I want my dream to come true.

Northern Craft Market in Leeds

 Bird's Yard Sheffield

Bird's Yard Sheffield

I have a short break as I am waiting for my yarns to cool down so let's summarise last three months.

I found a little studio space so I moved all of my dyer stuff there beginning of October. No heating or water but who cares - it's my first studio. :) If it all goes good I might persuade my landlord to refurbish it and have it nicely decorated. At the moment it is just a shell, but hmmm, my imagination goes wild as it has exposed trusses and it just could look amazing with few roof lights (and radiators, brrrr). I can almost see hanks of yarns hanging from hooks hung on these trusses.

From moving to studio it meant dyeing more yarn for Northern Craft and Bird's Yard as both were happening in one weekend. Ooops. It was quite tiring but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

After this it was just more dyeing wool and more dyeing wool as my Etsy shop started slowly coming to life. Black Elephant's yarns have new homes now from California to Israel. How cool is that? I am actually thinking to make a map with all destinations where my yarns landed.

There was a give away competition on Instagram, but not just any competition. Nothing like share this here and copy this there and like ten of my images and follow me. I gave a photo of the yarn below (minus Gilmore Girls poster) and asked what TV series is this yarn inspired by. It was fun, the obvious one of the first responses was Game of Thrones (which I can understand why), so it was actually really hard. I had to narrow it down to American TV series, even though that wasn't much of a help haha. But I had a winner and she got one of my yarns - she could choose any - for free. I think I will make it a regular thing, it was fun.

 
 And yes, one colour-way had to be inspired by Gilmore Girls because this is my the most favourite TV series (watched it about 5 times and will do more) and new series starts already this month! It will be binge watching Saturday for me with knitting in my hands.

And yes, one colour-way had to be inspired by Gilmore Girls because this is my the most favourite TV series (watched it about 5 times and will do more) and new series starts already this month! It will be binge watching Saturday for me with knitting in my hands.

 

Knitting kits are too finalised ( Thank God!)- it is actually more work than you would think so. And I sold already two scarves and one hat. It is exciting to think that there is somebody walking with knitted scarf, exactly the same as I have, designed by me. Who knows, we might bump to each other one day!

Now I am on a knitting mission as Christmas is approaching and I am to become an Auntie for the first time, early January. I keep browsing knitting patterns for babies and it's fun.

Soo, all in all, very good last couple of months. I am very pleased with where Black Elephant is heading so far. I would not expect to sell so much yarn, I swear and it is a glorious feeling, very satisfying indeed.

Oh, I almost forgot, I have finally figured out how to add yarns on Ravelry, so you can find Black Elephant there too.

Over and out until next time.

 

 

 

Yarndale No. 2

This year was only my second time at Yarndale. It was their fourth year and even thought I visited only twice, it was obvious that it has become even more popular event for crafters. I couldn't even get into some of the stalls, how busy it was. It keeps growing very nicely and all stalls were just beautiful.

Interesting thing to know is, that when I went there last year, it was my very first experience with hand dyed yarn. I was so excited I spent about 300 pounds there then! It was actually Yarndale where I decided I want to dye wool and have my own studio. One year since and I am really doing it! Next step is to go there as an exhibitor. Hopefully, next year. Yes, I like to challenge myself. :)

Therefore, this year, it was a different experience at Yarndale for me. I recognised so many shops by name, that I felt like at home. I recognised people faces too. I felt like a part of the community already and I recognised almost all types of yarn just by touching it. It is really incredible, when you think about it. It was a hell of a journey for the last 365 days, but I wouldn't change it for anything, because I just love every second of it.

Anyway, I am not going to bore you with my blabbing anymore as I prefer to speak in pictures, so here is a little taste of what is Yarndale about.

 And the last picture is of another colour variation for 'Cool in Town' knitting Kit. It is going to be a really cool hat, as you can wear it inside out, with or without pom pom and choose your favourite colour combination. In my  Etsy shop  from this week!

And the last picture is of another colour variation for 'Cool in Town' knitting Kit. It is going to be a really cool hat, as you can wear it inside out, with or without pom pom and choose your favourite colour combination. In my Etsy shop from this week!

Knitting kits almost ready

I have a break from dyeing yarns and am in the middle of preparing knitting kits as autumn is on our door step and a nicely packaged knitting kit would make a great Christmas/Birthday present. I have three different designs and I cannot wait to have them displayed in Bird's Yard and Northern Craft Fair. For those who are not from around here, kits will be available in my Etsy shop too.

Photo-shoots for two of the kits are finished. Hat and scarf will be available in different colours. We were taking pictures of a hat last week, in 25 degrees. That's a commitment! Now I have only a baby sleeping bag left and I am looking for a baby under 6 months but I ran out of options. :( So if you know parents who would love their baby to become a supermodel, pretty please, let me know. I would travel to their home (reasonable distance from Sheffield though), I would be super quick and I would pay in yarn and needles. Pretty good deal, right? Only thing is, that the deadline is 7th October. It would be such a shame to have photos of a lonely sad blanket. A baby would make it much more cheerful. The blanket is in unisex colours so it can be a boy or a girl supermodel.

On a positive note, I had two more sales on Etsy this week, which always makes me so happy. Especially when I get a super positive feedback. My promotion for free needles and buttons with my yarns is valid only for 4 more orders, so hurry up!

And here are some crazy photos from the last week photoshoot of my hat, which will be available as a knitting kit for intermediate knitters.

 Warning! Strait Jacket needed.

Warning! Strait Jacket needed.

 
 

 

 

Kerching!

Lots and lots of good news this week. I actually don't know where to start! So let's go from the beginning.

My friend from Slovakia, who sells on Etsy as The Ordinary Diary was kind enough and mentioned Black Elephant yarns in her blog post which talks about nothing else but autumn which we - yarn addicts - love. She sells all sorts of things from upcycled dolls,through crochet patterns and travel toys. Check it out, it's worth it.

Then on Friday, out of nowhere, somebody ordered Black Elephant's first yarn on Etsy. And if you don't know, Etsy app on mobile phone makes a noise like an old till - something like Ka-ching or Kerching! Unfortunately, I didn't hear it because I was at my Muggle job and had my phone set on quiet. :( But! I didn't have to wait for long, because on Saturday I heard it twice! Yaaaaaay. It was quite a shock, I didn't expect three sales in two days, being on Etsy only for 10. So exciting times.

And if it wasn't enough, I am in the middle of sorting out my place at Bird's Yard shop in Sheffield city centre which is an awesome shop for local makers. I should start selling Black Elephant yarns and kits there mid October, fingers crossed.

Do you think this was all? Heck, no! You can touch and sniff my yarns now in Westgate, Halifax. My mum in law has this super cosy Deli-cious cafe and she wanted to have my yarns and needles there (I swear she did as much as I)  and only put them on display yesterday. It looks super cute.

 Here you can see my first yarn being prepared to post. I do run promotion at the moment. First 10 customers will get needles and two buttons for free with any of my yarns.  Link here.

Here you can see my first yarn being prepared to post. I do run promotion at the moment. First 10 customers will get needles and two buttons for free with any of my yarns. Link here.

Little baby sweater on the left is made from Black Elephant yarn (Colourway Icecream) - only 1 skein needed.

On the other hand, I work like crazy. I get home from work and I order yarns, think about new colourways, designing packaging for my knitting kits, taking photos, updating Etsy. It is A LOT of work, but I love it.

 
 Trying new colourways is always so much fun.

Trying new colourways is always so much fun.

 

And as it is September and there is plenty of apples and blackberries and plums everywhere, here is a picture of my ricey autumny cake. Bon Apetit! :)

 
 

Busy bee but yarns are on sale at last

Since opening my shop on Etsy last week I have been super busy. It is constant refining of photographs so my yarns look their best, then tagging and re-tagging, so search engines work as they should and adding the same stuff on my website, then Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook. And I forgot about Twitter and Ravelry and God knows what else. Basically I spent the whole week away from my yarns. But it was to be expected. I read somewhere that your business is about 30% of making and 70% of marketing so here we go. Btw, have you noticed how I added links to each of my social media sites? That took me about 15 minutes, I swear. :)

So back to the photographs so you can actually see what I was working on (mostly during the weekend as I have a full-time job (for now :))

 

These are my beloved 100% baby alpaca - lace weight super soft yarns, which I will probably knit with in the future. I like this spring combos. I can imagine super big lacey shawl flying in the wind already.

This 4ply/Fingering/Sock yarn is a blend of alpaca and silk and I can imagine it on all sorts of projects, not just socks. Gloves, cowls, hats, sweaters, shawls, you name it. And I really like this colour combination too. I could not resist these colour combinations either - so happy and bright. Ideal for gloomy autumn days to brighten up your day. :)

 
 

And last but not least these speckles on merino/silk blend. Speckles are by far my most favourite method of dyeing. There are just so many possibilities and variations you can do. It's just endless combinations of colours and your imagination is only thing which can stop you.

If you want to see more of my colours, please click on Hand dyed yarn link at the top of this website.

 

Unexpected weekend visit

Mommy in law decided we need to visit some yarn shop in Yorkshire when we went to see her during the weekend. I was more in the mood which would be best described as: I need to go home as there is a massive pile of washing up and another pile of folding up waiting for me - but I am glad I changed my mind. Yarn shop over housework any time. Not so good news for my partner as you can see below, bless him. It is hard to have a yarnaholic for a girlfriend. :)

 

Baa Ram Ewe in Harrogate/Leeds did not disappoint at all. It is such a relaxed place - absolute heaven. And look at all that wool. Beautiful to touch and look at and of course my favourite criteria:  100% British.

And to my surprise I found a pattern with my name in one of the books. Petra - The Rockhopper Penguin. I shall try and knit one in the future. :)

 
 

After emptying our purses and spending a good hour browsing and looking and taking pictures at Baa Ram Ewe headquarters, we ended up in this beautiful Ribbon Tree Bakery.  It returned us back in time, just adorable.

Relaxed Sunday was topped by nothing else but knitting, or rather un-knitting a mistake and I had new helpers - Keep knitting tissues to dry by tears while undoing my work and this ewesome mug from Baa Ram Ewe for a cup of coffee. Perfect!

 
 

Hooray, the website is alive!

It's been a loooong, long time since I posted here last time. It was for various reasons, somebody up there didn't like me for few months as I had to deal with all sorts of tasks life threw at me. No wonder, I am so excited to FINALLY write my first article about my love of yarn.

What you can see is a knitted infinity scarf (or Mobius scarf, as Elizabeth Zimmermann would call it) from my very own hand-dyed yarn. The result is rather stunning - if I say so myself :). No, but seriously, look at this symphony of colours and how they dance on the scarf, no pooling, just speckles everywhere and anywhere. I am very pleased with the result, considering I have started with hand dyeing only eight months ago.

Also, as I have an internet access after a long time, I am opening my Etsy shop, which has been sitting there empty and sad for about ten months. For the next few days it will be all about photography for me so I can show off my hand dyed yarns and knitting kits the best I can and hopefully share my passion with some of you too.