Warm our cockles

30th October 2011 by

So we had an October heatwave, but let’s not kid ourselves, we all know what’s coming. So this month’s challenge, inspired by our own office ‘winter box’ of communal jumpers, is that we want you to show us all the clever, low-energy, no-energy and low-cost ways you can keep toasty during the chilly months.

Have you knitted yourself a beanie or some slipper socks? Stitched and stuffed a colourful draft-excluder? Done some crafty energy-saving DIY? Or maybe you know what you want to do but need some tips from the Otesha community? Whatever you choose, it’s a great opportunity to save money, cut carbon and learn a new skill (or get even better at an existing one).

We want to see your work and hear your tips and questions, so email us your photos, videos or words. Get cracking!

Guerrilla Knitting

20th May 2011 by

In case you didn’t know I am a knitter, a knitist even. I love knitting because you can do it  everywhere, except I believe on airplanes these days, which is fine by me since I’d rather be on the train clicking my needles anyway. So if, like me, you have an slightly obsessive compulsive desire to make things constantly, I recommend counseling. Or knitting.

All of my nearest and dearest are proud owners of surprisingly shaped hats. I once bought a cardigan from a charity shop, unraveled it and knitted it back into a jumper – and yes, believe it or not, it was worth it. One day I hope to only wear socks of my own creation. So far I have 3. I would love to knit and wear this jumper.

Real wool is expensive, but it is lovely and luxurious and comes in beautiful colours. I have tried to ban myself from wool shops but I occasionally go in and stroke the shelves. Recently I met a man who spins undyed wool from his own sheep, it takes him a day to make a hat, the result is beautiful, warm and waterproof (the oil in untreated wool gives it water resistant properties). He gave me some, it still smells of sheep.

Luckily I was bequeathed several bin bags of wool that a friend bought at a car boot sale. This matched with my penchant for unraveling second hand jumpers means that my wool habit should be forever satiated. This much wool in the cupboard is a constant race against the clothes moths, but I do like to live dangerously.

Anyway, imagine my excitement at discovering that June 11th is International Yarn Bombing Day (it’s also Worldwide Knit in Public Day, what a coincidence). Stitch and Bitch London will be marking the occasion with a Stitch Crawl through the Royal Parks.

Yarn bombing for those not in the know, is the process of decorating the streets with knitted or crocheted graffiti. Yarn bombing (also know as guerrilla knitting and yarn storming) is practised in cities all over the world. Past targets have included a London phone box, a bus in Mexico City, street furniture, trees and a subway carriage in Berlin.

Wikipedia, the source of all random knowledge, says:
The practice is believed to have originated in the U.S. with Texas knitters trying to find a creative way to use their leftover and unfinished knitting projects, but it has since spread worldwide.

While other forms of graffiti may be expressive, decorative, territorial, socio-political commentary, advertising or vandalism, yarn bombing was initially almost exclusively about reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places. It has since developed with groups graffiti knitting worldwide each with their own agendas.

The movement has been said to be “changing the face of craft” as stitchers are more and more frequently being viewed as fibre artists.

So get your needles out and improve the urban landscape one stitch at a time. Does that seem a bit wooly?

Innovate your insulating

3rd November 2009 by

The nights are drawing in fast and thermostats are twitching skywards, so this month we challenge you to keep snug while keeping those ‘stats down. Seal up those cracks with draft excluders , make your own double glazing and improve your insulation .

Energy consumption in the home makes up more than a quarter of the UK’s CO2 emissions, most of this is heating. By turning the thermostat down a mere 1 degree C, you can reduce your contribution by 10% and save around £40 (best invested back into insulation).

If you’re lucky enough to have a wood fire you’ll be warmed with all the collecting, carrying and chopping before you even get on to the burning. A bit of vigorous knitting will also keep you warm whilst you’re making some wondrous woollen wear, legend has it that Fairisle knitting was developed in an effort to keep warm during long Scottish evenings.  And if you’ve got any other carbon-saving, warmth-giving ideas we want to hear them to (email jo@otesha.org.uk).

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