Natural Dyeing and a New Project

Naturally dyed in goldenrod and indigo.

A new project is in the works, Pure Wear Canada. This is an expansion of what started with my project Handmade in Canada. Pure Wear Canada is focusing on naturally dyed premium knits, but not contained to a Canadian theme.

Currently works are in progress and will be appearing in the online shop at www.purewearcanada.com over the next few weeks. This is an exciting direction that opens up more and more possibilities. Pop by the site, or check us out on Facebook and Instagram (@purewearcanada) if you have a spare minute.

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The Garbage Project – The “Do What I Say Not As I Do” Edition – a peek into City Hall garbage (literally)

April 27, 2016 and another “Garbage Project” post. So let’s start with an update. The City of Red Deer passed the policy to reduce the household limit of garbage from 5 bags to 3 (500L to 300L per week). The blanket policy passed, even though the numbers make no sense. Those championing the policy may feel they have “won”, but the truth is they will never truly reduce garbage going to the landfill until they base the amount allowance proportionately (per occupant of the household) rather than per household. But enough on that for now, we will visit the changing face of Canadian households in another post.

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Up until 8:00 pm this evening this post was going to be taking a different direction, and then I went and picked up my son at the library, the library located right next to City Hall.

As I sat in the car I thought “Does City Hall Park have recycle bins?”, followed by “Okay kids, we’re going for a walk.”…….there is only one way to find out, and that is to look. We walked the whole of City Hall Park, and while we found plenty of garbage cans there were no units for the recycling of plastics, paper, organics or refundables. A bit surprising seeing as the City’s new limit is partly because they feel households are not directing items properly for recycling and yard waste.

blog garbage bin city hall

So I continued to walk, coming to the area the gardeners use for tools, incoming plants and such. I see the composters and think “great”. I see the sign on the composters mentioning the “Compost at Home” program, and this is also a good thing. But then you stop to think, why isn’t there a composter for visitors eating lunch in the park to use, for organics like apple cores and banana peels?

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Detail of the “Compost at Home” sign.

Now as I took the above picture I noticed a stench, and it wasn’t the composters, it smelled like garbage. It was bad. So I continued walking south down the sidewalk only to find a dumpster.

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The dumpster would not have caught my interest except for one thing. Can you spot it, the item that peaked my interest? Top right-hand corner……………the branch.

You see the City of Red Deer has a “yard waste” program which is used to divert yard waste from going in the landfill. Now this dumpster has to have some affiliation to the City of Red Deer as the only destinations on this block are City Hall Park, Red Deer Public Library and City Hall. Everyone connected to these organizations would know about the yard waste program, yet yard waste was visibly sticking out of a dumpster smelling of trash.

Now you all know what happened next…of course you do…..I went in for a closer look (wouldn’t you?!).

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And then closer yet!

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A quick glance and you can see yard waste (tree branch and grass clippings), recyclable cardboard,  recyclable plastics (coffee cup tops and clear plastic cups), refundable and recyclable bottles, food wrappers and a pair of shoes.

This is a visual of “public” garbage. This is a visual of “commercial” garbage. No separating out of recyclables, refundables or yard waste. Everything is “garbage” when it comes to “public” or “commercial” garbage.

This is garbage maybe 200 feet from City Hall.

The City says the residents need to do more, recycle more, divert recyclables and yard waste from the landfill, but this is what I find in the dumpster at the edge of City Hall Park. The dumpster, at the edge of City Hall Park, shows zero effort to divert waste appropriately from the landfill.

I think at this point we realize the waste reduction policy is a case of “do as I say not as I do”.

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So I carry on around the corner and decide to take a peek into the foyer of the library. I found a container for refundable bottles and cans and a blue bin (I will assume for paper waste from its position). So a little bit better.

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blog library blue bin

Of course there is room for improvement remembering that this space shares a cafe. What about recycling for non-refundable plastics (food containers), organics, and a more obvious spot for waste paper and newspaper. Also what about public education? The perfect spot to educate as people at the library are tuned in to reading and learning. After all how many people know what is included in the new expanded recycling program?

And so in one door and out the other (the design of the foyer, literally), and I was in front of the City Hall in seconds.

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I glance up to the window and see….garbage…….A LOT OF GARBAGE.

blog city hall garbage

So much garbage they need a cart to wheel it around.

Is this one day’s worth of garbage, or a week’s worth? It would be interesting to know. However in a building that is essentially an office building that is a lot of garbage.

Let’s think about it. Paper waste should be the bulk of waste in an office building, and that is recyclable. Our city is testing an organics program, so all lunch waste should be taken care of in that manner. Plastics such as bottles and food containers are recyclable , as are cardboards. A city so set on being “green” should have hand driers instead of paper towels in the washrooms, cutting down on washroom waste. So why does City Hall create so much waste?

Why does City Hall create so much waste while blaming households for the filling of the landfill?

Why is the dumpster on the edge of City Hall Park full of recyclable products?

blog city hall cigarettesI descended the steps of City Hall with many thoughts running through my mind, Only to see this…..

blog city hall cigarettes close up

…yes the lids are recyclable, and this is where the workers of City Hall stand daily having their “smoke break”. Not even the garbage could be deposited in the garbage can. Pretty sad.

The pictures speak for themselves. If City Hall wishes to reduce the volume of waste going to the landfill and increase recycling they need to set the example. They aren’t.

Now I am left wondering even more so the intent behind the waste reduction initiative. City Hall, City Hall Park and public buildings should be the poster child of being green. These are the places that are perfect for the education of the public, and the creation of new habits with regards to the management of waste. City Hall, which operates in a similar fashion to a commercial operation such as an office building, should be both an inspiration and a resource to the business sector.

After what I viewed this evening I had a thought, quite a sad thought actually. The thought was ……is the new waste reduction policy a way to place the blame of the quantity of waste going into the landfill on the homeowners in an effort to divert blame from commercial operations such as restaurants, fast food, and cafes? Think about it. Do you ever see paper, cardboard or plastics recycling at any of these places? No, only refundables (because they are worth money!). Have you ever seen organics recycling? Never. Everything goes in the garbage bin. A working couple might eat 11 meals at home during the week creating minimal organic waste, while restaurants feed hundreds daily creating mounds of half eaten food, plastic cups and cardboard and plastic containers.

Looking at the waste management in City Hall Park, in public buildings and in public spaces (such as parks), there is a big disconnect when being considered along the “waste reduction ” policy. The average household output of garbage was already well under the limit, which makes one wonder “what’s the real deal?”, because there is way more to this story than just waste reduction.


And now for this week’s stats:

This week we produced:

2.5 – 75L bags of garbage

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4-5 buckets of compost (I’ve been making dehydrated fruit resulting in a lot of peels…..that’s what happens when you get apples for $4 a case!)

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2 large bins of recycling (last week’s pic!)

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……plus refundable cans and bottles but no yard waste


Garbage around the block ( from our romantic midnight walk ūüôā ) , from this week on I will count each house even if no garbage is put out :

House 1 – 2 occupants – 2 .5 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L)

House 2 – 3 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling, 1 garden waste

House 3 – 2 occupants – 0 garbage, 0 recycling, 0 garden waste

House 4 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), three garden waste bins, one recycling

House 5 –¬†2 occupants – 2 garbage cans , half garden waste bin, half recycling bin

House 6 – 2 occupants – 0 garbage, 0 recycling, 0 garden waste (second week running, no bins out after pick up either)

House 7 –¬† 0 occupants – 5 garbage bags (owner is still cleaning up after past renters, huge job)

House 8 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , two recycling bins

House 9 – 1 occupant – 2 garbage bag , four garden waste bins, one recycling

House 10 – 3 occupants – 0 waste (they put out their garbage very late when they get in from work; last week one garbage bin and one yard waste)

House 11 –¬† 7 occupants –¬† 2.5 garbage bags , two large bins of recycling

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Stay tuned for next week. Who knows where looking at garbage will take us.

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Happy Earth Day – eco-printing …fashion from the earth

102 scarf eco print detail 2

I thought sharing a post on eco-printing was a suitable post on Earth Day. A lot of the textile work I do focuses on natural and plant based processes rather than chemicals.

The scarf pictured above has been eco printed. This is a process where the silk has been dyed with the natural occurring pigments of leaves through a lengthy process of bundling the item tightly to achieve the best contact with the leaves. Results can vary depending on the time of year the leaf is picked, the length of time of the bundling, the type of fabric , and the mordants used.

The leaves on this scarf are peony and maple, picked from the garden. Results are always very random with a combination of leaf prints and abstract shapes and lines.

If you are interested in seeing more images of this scarf, and how it looks while being worn, there is a gallery on my other site www.handmade-canada.com , or click here for the link .

Eco-printing and slow cloth by Debra Hunter

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The Garbage Project – April 20, 2016

blog garbage 1This is week one of tracking our garbage, compost and recyclables. We started this project after the City of Red Deer proposed a change in waste limits, a change where no matter how many people reside in your household the limit is the same. Personally we think garbage output limits should be based on occupancy. If scaling back what goes in the landfill is the goal,  the limits per household need to be based proportionately on the number of people residing in the dwelling (after all a census is done each year to provide that very information!).

So in order to see what we produce for garbage, recycling and compost we have decided to track for a few weeks what goes out on collection day.

This week we produced:

2 – 75L bags of garbage

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1/3 bucket of compost

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3 large bins of recycling

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……plus refundable cans and bottles plus a significant amount of yard waste

So this is quite interesting coming in at 150L of garbage for a family of seven. I will admit we were out of town one day, and with school interviews and other commitments probably ate dinner out a couple of times which of course put dinner “garbage” in someone else’s bin not ours.

We also decided to walk around the block late this evening to see what others put out.

Garbage around the block:

House 1 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin

House 2 – 3 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 3 – 2 occupants – 1 regular sized garbage can , one large bin of recycling

House 4 – 2 occupants – 2 regular sized garbage cans (75-77L), one garden waste bin, one large bin of recycling

House 5 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

House 6 – 1 occupant – 1 garbage bag , one garden waste bin

***the rest of the occupied homes had not put garbage out yet

So this is quite interesting, if the City of Red Deer is bringing in new waste restrictions of 300L per week in order to reduce landfill amounts, according to garbage from around our block, exactly the same amount of garbage will reach the landfill as everyone is under the 300L volume. A few more weeks of tracking will give a clearer picture of what people average putting out.

The other thing I kept an eye on was what went in the “garbage”. Wrappers, cellophane, plastic wrap, paper towels, coffee cups, tissues, drier lint, debris from vacuuming. Only one food item, off carrot cake, hit the bin as I watched (seriously how does cake go off in a house with 5 kids?) which again makes me question the panic in BC over food scraps.

Stay tuned for next weeks’ findings. This is quite intriguing.

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Refinish and Renew – The Story Of Our Table

It seems like March has been a month of renewing, we’ve been reorganizing, refreshing, and basically eliminating a lot of the rubbish in our life.

Our dining table was one of these projects. Still sturdy and strong, and a style we quite liked, the table however was showing the effects of heavy family use. Hundreds of dinners, plus many hours of working and crafting and playing, had left scratches and dents across the table top. I figured we were at the point where we had nothing to lose and that perhaps it was worth attempting to refinish the table top.

blog refinish 1Before refinishing. A well loved and well used table.

blog refinish 2The point of no return. A good couple of hours were spent with the palm sander. This is where you wonder if you had made the right decision.

blog refinish 3Sawdust EVERYWHERE! I must research dust collection systems.

blog refinish 4Sanded and looking better already.

blog refinish 5Praying that the wiping stain matches. I held my breath through this stage and through the topcoat stage as well. It was my first experience with wiping stains and I was very impressed. I was also able to refinish a small portion of wood flooring ( a parquet floor quick fix that actually worked!) and a south facing window sill at the same time.

blog refinish 6The finished table. I was completely thrilled with the result. Twenty-five dollars and a bit of time and the table is literally as good as new…….or better…….I think the topcoat I used is better than the one originally on the table so hopefully this will take a lot more wear.

blog refinish 7And now to research the next project, the 1946 the table is sitting on. Only by the table is it worn, the rest of the floor is in great shape. Does anyone have any idea what the finish on the floor is? Shellac? Varnish? I am toying with just stripping and sanding individual boards and refinishing them. The way the boards are laid I think it will blend well ( I did a blending on the parquet floor and it worked). If anyone has any thoughts let me know.

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More Finger Puppets

finger flyers

Tonight it is another super quick blog post as I am finishing off the last of the “have to’s” on my knitting list. The last few months all I seem to do is knit , knit , knit, dye more yarn and repeat. It also explains the lack of blogging (well that and endless weeks of preserving and jelly making). The fact that I have a shipment of 25 pounds worth of Canadian wool on its way tells you just how much knitting has been going on….of course I haven’t quite figured out where I will store it once it arrives, but I will figure it out.

Tonight I am finishing off more finger puppets. This time simplistic childlike airplanes. Perfect for popping on your finger, acting out aerobatics and making zooming noises. This first batch is a special request, but I will eventually have a few online at www.handmade-canada.com .

As of tomorrow I can start rebuilding stock for the shop online. Currently it is pretty wiped out with stock going into boutiques and galleries in Alberta and British Columbia. I have lots of new ideas that I am looking forward to trying including expanding the wearables section of the items I make. It’s a good thing I have a huge shipment of wool coming my way!

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93,951 Views Of My Open Letter And Still Receiving Hate Mail

News flash…….. the election is over. The votes have been counted, the decision has been made. Isn’t it amazing, the election has been over for days yet the hate mail continues.

As of 5 minutes ago my open letter had been viewed 93,951 times, and still continues to be viewed hundreds of times each day. The number of views is significant, however beyond the readership numbers I am getting an inside look as to the mentality of a certain portion of Canadian society.

Let me share what I am discovering. First, there is an absolute HATE by the political left for stay-at-home parents.

Evidently we are living in the lap of luxury, lounging on the couch eating bon-bons all day while our servants run around cleaning our house and dusting our bottoms due to our lack of activity. Unfortunately they are wrong. The fact is we bought our house for land value and renovated for years. We chose to stay at home after arriving to our baby sitter and finding our toddler had been left with her ten year old son while the babysitter went shopping. We choose to raise our own children and run our own lives rather than outsource all aspects of our lives. We choose to have a marriage that is a partnership. We choose to be responsible and self sufficient and hard working. We choose to make our own path for success rather than blame others for our lack of foresight, hard work or ambition.snowshoeing at riverbend - red deer, alberta, canada

When the election results came in my husband asked me my thoughts, so as I am still getting hate mail (clearly people have a lot more free time than I do) I may as well share them here:

The Environment – anyone who really knows me, knows we are environmentally conscious. Yes it is shocking, but not every person that leans to the right believes in raping the earth. Check back in the blog and you will find an ambitious fight (and win), spearheaded by us, to save a nesting ground, including door-to-door canvassing with our five children. We walk the talk on a daily basis. The other political parties were quick to point their fingers at the “nasty, nasty” Conservatives, yet all their environmental talk was nothing but babble. Neither the Liberals, Greens or N.D.P. had a firm plan in place, it was all political babble. These political parties are clueless. They like to blame the oil industry but emissions are an issue nationwide not just in Northern Alberta.

If these parties had any clue they would have promoted feasible plans, what they needed to do is so simple. The two nationwide polluters and users of fossil fuels are our homes and our cars. This is where the fight to improve the environment needs to start. It is so simple, kill the commute and put solar and wind in our homes. The solution isn’t a carbon tax, it is changing the way we live.

Killing the commute is quite simple. All that would be needed are government incentives to move industry and large employers to smaller towns and areas with dwindling populations. By moving industry and business into areas like this jobs are created in areas that are usually economically struggling, housing is affordable, and the drive to work is 5 or 10 minutes rather than an hour and a half. It is a winning situation. It is a simple situation to reduce vehicle emissions. However it takes a creative forward thinking government willing to work WITH business,  not a government that just wants to tax business.

Putting solar and wind in our homes is another concept that is beyond simple. The technology is there, and has been for decades. It is time for our homes to be run on cleaner power. Solar power has been an interest of mine for years, we have investigated the possibilities and walked away on numerous occasions. The price is too high to get your investment back and it is difficult to learn all the ins and outs of what is really needed to switch your home over to a sustainable form of clean energy. As long as it is only a minute fraction of the population using solar and wind, this will never change. For change to happen government needs to intervene and give incentives; incentives not to the homeowners, but to big business.

The place to start is with diversification of the energy sector. The energy sector is just big business. The government needs to talk to them about the form of power they produce. Would they be interested, with the aid of government incentives into moving into producing clean power options as well? Businesses diversify all the time, they don’t care about the product the produce, they care about guaranteed profit. If there is money at the end of a venture, business is interested. Building factories that produce solar panels, equipment for wind power and storage batteries. Retraining some of their staff for these factories and as installation technicians. All of this can be done up at Ft. McMurray just as easily as the tar sands operations are now. But a government promise has to go a bit farther to make this feasible, they need to provide a sure-fire need for the green technology produced. The federal government will have to work with provinces and municipalities to revise building requirements and building codes, and make all new builds powered by a certain percentage of green energy. This creates a demand for the product, and the demand for the product is what will bring the price down to an affordable level. As the price comes down homeowners will retrofit their homes. A whole new industry is born, new jobs are created nation-wide as installers will be needed coast to coast, and our country begins to wean off fossil fuels in our homes. So simple. So effective, but again it takes a creative forward thinking government willing to work WITH business,¬† not a government that just wants to tax business.

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“Generation Entitlement” – “Generation Entitlement” was my second thought regarding the election results. They are the new generation of voters, and the left wing parties recognized the fact and ran with the concept. Undoubtedly the generation that thinks that their parents should pay for their college educations, their cars, their vacations, and a coat “when they are sad” (true story!) are going to need to vote in a government who will “take care of them”. Mommy and Daddy have been giving “hand outs’ all their life, and now they want the government to do the same. This is the same generation that still think of themselves as “kids” at the age of 30. This is the same generation that feel they deserve the big house and fancy car “right now” rather than work for it. This is the same generation that is on CBC Radio every few weeks complaining that there are no middle management jobs for when they get out of college, and that the older generation is staying in their jobs for too long and not retiring. Newsflash “kids”……..the old folks are staying in their jobs longer to pay for your education, holidays, cars and coats when you are sad. They will be staying in their jobs even longer if they are taxed higher by a government with a “hand out” mentality. The tactic may have voted in the Liberal’s, but I suspect four years from now “Generation Entitlement” will be exactly where they are now, complaining with their hand out.

A Campaign of Hate – Hate is what ran this election. “Harper Hate”. Hate for people who blog their opinion. Even after the election the hate continues, which is quite remarkable. I’m still receiving hate mail. hate mail is everywhere on social media. We live in a hateful society. We have made a few observations through people we know in person and have interacted with online. Generally the “hate” seems to be a way people either respond in jealousy to other people’s success, or is a reaction regarding their own lack of ambition or regretted choices. I am not talking about people who have truly had unfortunate incidents happen to them in their lives, in fact I have not received or witnessed “hate” from a person in this circumstance.

We personally know a person full of “Harper Hate”. This is an educated person from a comfortable upbringing with a lot of emphasis placed on material items; a person who migrated to Alberta a few years ago from an easterly province. Interestingly¬† this person’s employment¬† is somewhat dictated by the oil industry in Alberta. They are a one income family, his hours were cut, yet he still spouted “Harper Hate”. His livelihood is hanging in the balance yet he would prefer to spout hate and vote in a government where their energy policies could leave him unemployed. He would prefer to be jobless and homeless. The “hate” is blinding people.

I find it amazing that the hate continues after the election. What is the point? The votes have been cast, the decision has been made. We watch and see what happens. The “haters” too have cast their votes, they should be happy, but the hate continues. This is troubling. It shows the election results do not reflect an informed population, it just reflects a hateful society. If the hate had been in an effort for change, the haters would now be silent, but they are not. They continue their personal attacks. They continue their social media attacks. The Liberal’s may have won the election, but evidence shows (and continues to) that they won on hate and not policy, and that is pretty sad.

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Yesterday my husband commented how quickly I have moved on from the election. I said to him “It’s a done deal. This is the vote. This is the decision. Now we watch.” ( I also may have said “Thank goodness our oldest has a job and by the time our second oldest needs a job another government will have been voted it.” …..but back to the post.)¬† He also asked “Are you not angry?”, and I replied that I am not angry at all but rather amused.

I am amused. Year after year all we have heard in the media is people blaming Harper and the Conservatives for everything that has gone wrong with their lives. Now I get to sit back and watch. Now I get to sit back and watch the same people, continue to live the same lives, with the same problems under a different government. Now I get to watch the circumstances, that these people blamed on “Harper”, remain under Trudeau. What these people do not understand is that hand outs do not move people forward, added taxation does not help a country, and legalized pot does not make everything better. The fact of the matter is that the only thing that can truly improve one’s plight in life is to make wise choices, be responsible, self sufficient and hardworking. Each person¬† chooses to make their own path for success, and blaming and hating others for their own lack of foresight, hard work or ambition will get them nowhere.

I am amused because four years from now the “haters” will be exactly where they are now. However it will no longer be “Harper’s fault”, it will be their own.

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