Every few years I find myself drowning in scraps. Fabric scraps overflowing out of baskets and piled into tubs that have to be stored in the shed. Yarn scraps that outweigh and overwhelm the actual small stash that I maintain after years of Stash Less practice. Scraps that are so visible and visceral they have their own weight. And just like many years ago when I started Stash Less, this weight creates a feeling that isn’t conducive to meaningful life-giving making. Instead when I walk into my study I feel a sense of responsibility and overwhelm because to carry this many scraps is out of line with my values. And being out of alignment feels heavy.
I value thoughtfulness and mindfulness, thriftiness and waste awareness. I aim to be conscious about my resource usage. I want to think about my impact. And so to have more scraps than stash – as is the case at the moment has given me pause.
What to do. What to do with the waste I’ve created from my making practice. Waste that is my responsibility. Waste that I don’t want to continually shift to others by giving it away*. Waste that I don’t want to think of as waste.
What to do when my kids are so sick of scrap sweaters that they now beg to have sweaters that are all in one colour. What to do when you associate crazy patchwork with a childhood where less was sometimes less. What to do when you associate scraps with an outcome that is #lessthan rather than #morespecial. When you think of scrap projects as scrappy.
Now as I’m saying this, please don’t for a second think that I don’t love some scrap projects. I do. So many of them. But my relationship with them is a little ragged. To give you some context, I grew up in the 80s in a household where scrap projects were common, crazy patchwork was celebrated, and every other kid in my class was wearing a three stripe navy adidas trackie. My mum was a woman ahead of her time but when you are 10yo adidas can matter and I still find myself as a 44 yo trying to shake off this association with scraps.
So what to do….how to change the associations I have about scraps being less than. And how to create a joyful, excited relationship to scraps that means they lose their weight and regain a sense of possibility.
For the few years I’ve been searching out scrap projects I love and analyzing what I love about them. I’ve been seeking out others who do scraps beautifully – think Gee’s Bend, Anna Maltz, Hadley and Drereneeknits. I’ve looked for inspiring scrap projects where the scraps enhance the project rather than detract from it. Projects where scraps shine!
And I’ve been personally trying different methods and patterns and ideas to create scrap projects I love, to see what I can learn. Sometimes they’ve worked. Sometimes they haven’t. I’ve learnt a lot. About what I love, and about the possibility inherent within scraps to instead be seen as materials. About what types of projects are best suited to scrappiness.
But I want to step it up. I want to see if I can really focus on this part of my making. I want to learn to create projects where the use of scraps looks intentional and interesting. To see if I can shift my relationship to may scraps and decrease their weight so I don’t get squished.
And so, I’ve decided I need to create a challenge.
I give you #theyearofthescrap.
#theyearofthescrap is my personal attempt to really shift my thinking about scraps in a more generous and permanent way. I want to be able to think of my scraps as being as valuable as the small number of sweaters worth of yarn and dress worth amounts of fabric I have in my cupboard. I want to change my relationship to, and my ideas about, scraps.
In 2019 I plan to;
document my scraps this month to assess where I am starting.
create a pinterest catalog where I collate scrap projects to inspire me.
make in a way that reduces the (drowning) weight of my scraps
creatively attempt to make in a way that uses my scraps where they enhance the project rather than detracts from it.
share my sucesses
change my relationship to scraps
Over the last few years through numerous experiments my making has taught me that often the addition of something unexpected is what makes a project sing. I’ve added a few scrap projects below that I’ve made over the years that I’ve loved.
But I’m also feeling excited about this project because of the communal shift we are all making towards using less, making more slowly and getting more conscious about the impacts of our making. This means that there are so many wonderful examples of making with scraps where the scraps themselves are the stars of the show. Where the scraps enhance, enable and make the project something truly special.
I’ve pinned some initial ideas for your perusal and will be updating these boards over the year..
I’d love for you to join me. For the year or even for a single project. Just tag the projects with #theyearofthescrap. I’d love to be able to see what your making.
What is your relationship to your scraps, what you do with them, how you feel about them?
I’m really excited about this one and hope some of you are too.
*Please know that I do give away some scraps to friends, the school and the kinder but I want to see if there is another way…