Yeah, well, so much for good intentions… The fete is over for 2014. YES. Fete 2013 came and went and was a success without any more posts and then 2014 too!

I was going to blog regularly about planning for this year’s school fete on 29 March and then I didn’t. It was so busy and my brain was so reeling I just had to concentrate on collecting and making and the important family stuff – you know food sleep school work – and had no time for extra things that didn’t fit into the normal routine. Like the on again off again blogs.

So I reckon I’ll still do something but in retrospect. And one itty bitty bit each day so I can get through it and actually start a routine.

The fete was a great success. The weather was wonderful and punters turned up in droves! We – all the stallholders – made our projected financial goal and then some – so all planned programs are safe and we may even be able to look at the wish list!

What’s even more astounding to me is that our stall – the Enviro Stall – made double what we did last year! And most of the things we sold were made from collected recyclables – all donations and no actual expenditure except for some tools and equipment which can be used again.

So yay! Three big cheers for recycling, making, and saving stuff from landfill for fun and profit. As they say. I don’t know, someone said that. Who said that?




Collecting supplies

Tetra Pak juice cartons, soy milk cartons, plastic bottles and lids CRAFTING GOLD!

I’ve sent the word out – we need your recyclables!

I’ve put boxes out next to my letterbox and aim to have a big one at school as well.
We will use this booty to create items for sale and items to display


Juice carton wallet closed


  • wallets
  • snack boxes
  • bunting
  • windchimes
  • fridge magnets
  • bag tags
  • key chains

Whatever we can think of and have time to have a go at!

T-shirts are coming in via donations to the clothing stall and some of them are quite nice – others may need a bit of embellishment from our young designers and artists. We’ll see. There are plenty of other things we can do with t-shirts if we manage to get a huge supply. Yarn for one thing. Like Plarn, cutting up the t-shirts and using the stretched tube-shaped strips to make things that would normally be made from string, wool, raffia, fibre and yarn of all types…

  • hats
  • baskets
  • cushions
  • mats
  • planter holders
  • necklaces
  • bracelets

We also sorted through the school art supplies and picked out all the broken crayons to melt and reshape into new ones – with a bit of an enviro theme. We are melting greens blues and white together and reds, oranges and yellows together in muffin tins to create little planets and suns. They look great packaged together and make great multi-coloured marks on the page.

cropped suns planets

The Show Bags

Here’s a couple I made earlier…

We showed off these and a couple of other show bags at school assembly this week and were very impressed with ourselves. I think our audience was reasonably impressed too, especially at the other items we showcased – wallets made from fruit juice and soy milk containers!

The T-shirt bags are very easy to make and don’t need sewing. I chose this method because anyone can have a go at making them – even the kids. But no-sew does mean the bags can’t carry tiny items – small things would fall through the knotted base of the bag – but they can carry the items we plan to give away or sell at the stall.

The shape and pattern is based on plastic supermarket bags. The T-shirts are cut to that shape – really a tank top or singlet shape. The bottom of the T-shirt is cut to make a fringe and the fringe strips are knotted together to make the base of the bag.

There are plenty of patterns and instructional videos online for T-shirt bags with various methods to cut and finish them. This one at uses the hem at the bottom of the shirt to pass a cord through and tie the bottom of the bag. An Instructable posted by someone going for their Girl Scouts Gold Award (achieved!) suggests sewing the bottom of the bag – a sturdier and safer option than tying. Wild Onion also uses this method, as do many others – just go a Googling for your method and demonstration of choice.

I can’t remember where I found the method I’ve used here with the fringes but I had no problem finding others who have posted tutorials on the process: Tealou and Sweetpea; Recyclart; cutoutandkeepClever Wren; and plenty more no doubt.

I also liked this T-shirt version of the string grocery bag by Pascale posted back in 2010. I think this was the first T-shirt bag I saw. Pretty gorgeous styling too. Parisian.

My pattern is a mix of a couple of these ideas, but basically cut off T-shirt sleeves, cut out neckline, cut fringe, knot fringe. I follow the shape of a plastic shopping bag by folding the side seams into the body of the bag by about 3cm and knotting the fringes beneath to keep this shape. Just seems a better shape and a bit stronger on the sides of the base of the bag. But not a huge difference to the other patterns.

I first saw this film on SBS many years ago. I loved it then and love it still. It’s inspirational – wonderful watching the way the discarded thongs (flip flops or patta pattas) eventually make it back to the place they were created – more beautiful than they were on their first day, and enriching the lives of many more people than the one who wore them first.

Now where are my old thongs…

just not posting. much. at all.

I’ve made a bunch of iffies – a few with holes in the middle so they can sit on a spindle, a cd spindle or quoits pin/stand thingie. I’ve thought about making indoor quoits but haven’t got there with the hook & yarn yet.

But most of all I’ve been thinking about making; what to make, how to make it, looking at all the beautiful things others make (my how Melbourne is crowded with beautiful shops full of hand made gifties!) and gathering inspiration for our green show bags for the school fete in March this year.

THIS YEAR already.

I’ve purchased a few things too – some Remarkable products from the Biome online store. I had to source these from Queensland rather than locally, but the Biomees were very lovely, efficient and friendly. And now I have lots of rulers and pencils that proudly announce what they used to be.

Interestingly the cheapest calico bags (online Aus stores) also come from Queensland. I wonder why that is?

Other things I’ve been thinking about:

  • Starting early with new Prep parents, Prep teachers, Grade 5/6 buddies
  • Enviro stall and activity centre – not just selling but DOing
  • Biodegradable takeaway coffee cups – fill at the coffee stand and recycle at the enviro stall with…
  • Magic dirt – scoops of homemade compost/seed raising mix and indigie flower & grass seeds – wallenbergia or running postman or windmill grass
  • herbs,veg – chives, thyme, mint, lemon balm
  • stick on kid-made sticker face with care instructions
  • cover with coffee cup lid to take home
  • This will grow into a hairy head – have a few hairy heads on show
  • Indonesian, Vietnamese or Burmese bamboo hats…
  • DIY decoration – did this last year and all sold out need to improve set-up and decoration materials
  • Instant drying fabric paint or  sharpie markers for drawing designs
  • Loops already attached, sewn, holes made on rim for dangles
  • plastic cups (used for attaching balloons to sticks) inverted inside hat peak for pom pom, propeller or flower
  • Have several on show for sale
  • Tried this last year and had a bit of interest – but mostly with the hat-making, need to improve plan and set-up
  • Collected cleaned recyclables for making
  • Tools – blunt scissors (and some pointy ones handy for rostered Grade 5/6 buddies?), string, ribbons, ties, fasteners, elastic bands, some glue (clag not pva) too although not used in the Aquilizan projects I’ve seen
  • Aasta’s suggestion of locally made/sourced healthy yummy snacks
  • Ask at Julio, Merri Table & Co-op cafe at Ceres, Munsterhaus, Fruit Peddlers, GreenGrocer, Pope Joan
  • Local eco/enviro shops sponsorship
  • Last year the Enviro shop gave a few items at discount – but not a huge discount. Need to ask early and work with them about sponsorship
  • Many beautiful shops have sprung up nearby – ask for vouchers or at cost items
  • Go a bit further afield – online eco companies, services, places in the inner north
  • Whip-up Action Packs on a disk with site information and demo…
  • Whip-up Action Pack
  • Action Pack pdfs on disk in the bag (need to purchase licences from Whip-up),
  • QR code on display for more info
  • demo DIY from the recent Apothecary Issue
  • Local knowledge re green and eco ideas
  • Go for a Suburb walk and find the local networks – North Fitzroy, Northcote, Brunswick maps
  • Green shopper guide
  • Sustainable fish eating guide
  • Local recycle resource centres & FAQ ‘Where do I recycle my… batteries, CRT TV, computer, paint, bike tyres, smoke alarm…’
  • Info and QR codes about Freecycle, Gumtree, Sustainable Gardening Victoria, Byte back,
  • Vouchers from local and nearby Green stores (as above) including Brunswick -Eco co-opportunity shop in Victoria Street, Gleeners in Ballarat Street

So you see I have been thinking a lot and not just about making…

So yes, Plarn. I’ve been having a bit of a plarn – making it and making from it.

Having a plarn… crocheting a plastic yarn iffy


Making a plarn pom pom

Plarn pom pom snowball

There are zillions of vids on youtube (going back as far as 2007) on how to make plarn and then crochet or knit with it: sewphisticate; rockpoolcandy2; rigidheddleweaving; mandy927 for example. Instructables also have step-by-step instructions on plarn. So I thought I’d have a go. I made a very so-so mediocre iffy out of an uninspiring white plastic bag. My source of plastic bags is the local supermarket which favours white bags.  So no gorgeous coloured iffies yet. I found a bag with green writing on it in my stash – so the iffy image here shows a tiny bit of colour.

So white plarn only. My son’s class is making some winter themed decorations for their classroom, which made me think maybe we could try making some snowballs to add to their glittery snowflakes. I cut up a cardboard box for a template and yep, made a pom pom snowball.  I think a whole lot of these could look very snowy – and I’ll get rid of about 80 bags. Not sure I have 80 plastic bags…

While we’re on frisbees, I mean iffies, I happened across something on Hipcycle the other day that made me think I could add a recycled element to the iffies.

Hipcycle was launching a campaign to promote Funky Junk Recycled to the US. Funky Junk is a social enterprise, based in Cambodia, creating and selling bags, baskets, mats and other items from reclaimed and recycled plastic bags. It provides employment and fair trade income for local makers, and cleans up the environment at the same time. Watch the video about the project.

One or two of the products in particular caught my eye. The round placemats and coasters. Aha – recycled plastic bag iffies!

Funky Junk coasters, and very funky stubby holder

To make the coasters, placemats, stubby holders (and the other items) cleaned gleaned plastic bags were first turned into a plastic yarn then crocheted. After Googling and Youtubing I’ve found many plastic yarn projects described and illustrated by individual craftspeople or communities of makers. I also know that the term for plastic bag yarn is ‘plarn’ and there are plenty of video tutorials on how to make it.

I haven’t tried it yet, but depending on how tricky it is to crochet with the plarn, this might make a good project for older kids. The plarn iffies would still be light enough to play with indoors – without the weight to knock things over or break noses – but stiff enough to spin and fly well. And who cares if they get wet or crappy in outside play?