Darned if you do! June Main Meeting

 

 

Combining craft and care, our June Main Meeting tackled the subject of ethical clothing.

A lot of us do our bit for recycling, and know about how awful landfill is, but when we think of pollution and waste old garms aren’t the first thing to come to mind. Our first speaker Lyla Patel from Traid gave some startling facts. Aside from the time it takes our old clothes to break down in landfill, they still give off methane and lots of other toxic gases. They still contribute to the pollutants in the air we breathe given off by the incinerators just a few miles north of us in Shoreditch. But natural fibers like cotton and viscose are good right? They still have a huge impact on the environment due to the extraordinary amount of resources such as water used in their production. Having doubled the volume of clothes purchased in the past four years, it’s an alarming predicament. So what do we do about it? Lyla put it to us that we should change our disposable mindset to clothing. Taking the time to choose, personally investing in each find, valuing the memories that come with our clothes rather than the brand.  And when you’re done, spread the love by donating for second hand sale so someone else can treasure it.

And on that note a perfectly time traid van swung by to pick up donations from this month’s visitors by the sack full.

 

When then shifted the focus from the environmental to the human cost of clothes and were joined by Thulsi Narayanasamy War On Want. Taken through the shady supply chains, and lack of accountability it is worrying to consider that it is mainly women affected by the poor working conditions within the industry, but also mainly women consuming these goods. And how are we not more aware  of it? Thulsi put it to us that the fashion industry is wonderful at PR and we lap it up. We also heard how normal it was for women in some factories to experienced intimidation when trying to organise a platform for themselves, and was considered part of the package by them. It was eye opening to view the subject not just as a labour rights issue, but as a women’s rights issue through the wider frame of patriarchy.

After a thought (and hopefully action) provoking first half of the meeting, we got skilled up in the long lost skill of darning so that we could go away knowing how to breathe new life into old glad rags.

 

 

Meanwhile, the Shoreditch Sisters…

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With the Spring all around us, for our April main meeting we decided to arrange something special for our members to nurture ourselves as well as some plant life.

Bridget and Frances of the Meanwile Club  joined us for a members exclusive Desktop Garden workshop. The Meanwhile Club’s ethos being to build community through horticultural activities we thought this would be the perfect way for members to get to know each other, whilst making something wonderful to take away by the end!

 

Equipped with soil and succulents we got stuck in with arranging our plant pots. Not forgetting a key component – decorative dinosaurs!

And of course it wouldn’t be a main meeting without a bumper raffle (raising money for Ella’s Home).

Proudly clutching our very own terrariums, there was a satisfying sense of achievement by the end of the meeting.

The Meanwhile Club can be found on the last Thursday of every month on Leake Street running their Make Do and Mend Yourself workshops. The Shoreditch Sisters give their seal of approval!

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Shoreditch Sisters meet up with Art Macabre

Our March Main Meeting involved a collaboration with Art Macabre for a life drawing class with a twist!

Fueled by the Strongroom‘s W.I meeting meal deal  of Poutine, we were ready to recapture the joy and freedom of how we drew as a child!

 

Our muse for the evening was the mother goddess of destruction Kali (our second meeting involving the theme of goddesses!). Expertly portrayed by Geta Von Tease who had the difficult task of portraying a deity with six arms, she provided several poses for the drawers in the room to replicate this effect. Where was Kali’s infamous belt fashioned from the heads of men? Alas, we had to turn to our imagination for that, although we didn’t have to dig too deep for inspiration given current world politics…

 

Art Macabre warmed the room up for the activity by asking us to first draw Geeta without looking at the page. Trusting our instincts was the aim. Another approach was to work together on a joint drawing, taking it in turns to hold the pencil together and guide our partner through the image.

 

To finish our very own Committee Member Katie Pepper posed as the defeated Shiva!

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Keep warm and cosy on!

January’s Knit and Natter will focus on the East London Yarn Triangle (Fabrications, Broadway Market; Wild and Woolly, Lower Clapton Road; Knit with Attitude, Stoke Newington High St  Keep Hackney Warm This Winter initiative. They are looking for cosy scarves which will get passed on to rough sleepers in Hackney.

 The East London Yarn Triangle is four-and-a-bit miles, which is about 466 scarves. Their aim is to get as many knitters as possible involved and collect 466 scarves! The scarves can be knitted from any yarn with whatever stitch pattern you want. They recommend casting on for a width of about 25 cm and knitting a 150cm length.

Every East London Yarn Triangle shop will also be acting as a yarn exchange where knitters with extra yarn can drop it off, and knitters in need of some more can come and pick it up.

Once you’ve knitted your scarf, drop it off at any one of the shops and they will make sure it gets passed on to a rough sleeper. You can also bring any you have knitted along to January’s Knit and Natter and we will arrange a drop off of what we’ve got.

If you’ve never knitted before this is a great way to get started! Scarves are very easy to do and this is for a great cause. We will have experienced knitters on hand who can teach you how to knit. We’ll even have some yarn and needles on hand if you’ve not been able to pick up your own supplies.

 If you’d like to get yourself some supplies, we recommend checking out the shops of the East London Yarn Triangle: Fabrications on Broadway Market; Knit with Attitude on Stoke Newington High Street and Wild and Wooly on Lower Clapton Road.

January’s Knit and Natter will take place on the 24th of January 2017 from 6.30pm at Leon in Spitalfields market. This event is open to non-members too, so feel free to come along!

Shoreditch Sisters strum their G strings

Also known as the meeting the ladies sort of learnt to strum a Ukelele

The Ukelele evening, was in my humble opinion one of the best meetings we have had, not necessarily because we made beautiful music, or got a grade 8 certificate in ukulele and banjo. The evening was great because regardless of whether your a proficient wind blower, or the closest you got to musical greatness was recorder in year 7, everyone can get stuck in strumming some cords and singing along to some cheesy hits.

imageour evening conductor Martin Laking of the Queen of Hoxton’s Ukulele Hootenanny left us all in no illusion that this was going  to be an evening of beautiful music. In his words… The ukulele’s not the nicest noise… But it’s the singing and playing together, or  not that really makes the evening.

The evening started with learning some pretty challenging cords…. Or three cords. Which we then played with varying skill and dexterity to murder “You are my sunshine”.

After getting fairly excellent at that, we quickly moved on to The Proclaimer’s greatest track…Five hundred Miles…we had to learn a new cord for that one, and we rounded off the evening with a Beach boys classic Sloop J B… Which none of us recognised until we got to the title, and with a full 5 cords required it was for this musician dear reader, a cord to far.

The raffle and cake was, as always, excellent. Whoever made the fairy cakes…. More please! Also every month, all the money for the raffle goes towards a Shireditch Sisters chosen charity. For the last 6 months that charity has been Luminary Bakery. In the last 6 months we have raised over £430. So keep buying tickets.

Radiant Riders cycle London to Paris!

Note to reader: Despite the trip originally being planned as just a challenge for us all, we later decided it would be a great opportunity to raise money for a worthwhile charity. If you would like to sponsor us we are raising money for Calais Kitchen, who work in refugee camps in Calais and feed over 9,000 refugees in Calais and Dunkirk daily. Thank you.

Having conquered lots of short rides in East London (usually finishing in a good pub for a well earned drink), the Radiant Riders started to think about something more challenging…and the classic cycle from London to Paris was the one that captured our imagination. Nine members signed up and the planning and training began, with a decision to follow a scenic 340km route over four days. We did plenty of training rides, learning useful things along the way, like the fact Essex is lovely, and it’s pretty hilly on the way to Brighton. A few members of the group hadn’t ridden since they were about 15 and so new bikes and learning how to maintain them suddenly became more important!

Then two weeks before D-Day disaster struck. Stef was hit by a car door when cycling home and ended up with a broken wrist – very sadly she had to pull out. (Get Well Soon Stef!)

So eight ladies set off for Paris, leaving in a range of groups, meeting up in the lovely village of Lindfield to start our journey proper.

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After a pleasant 35mile ride through beautiful Sussex we made it down to the coast for the HUGE ferry to France!

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We started our time in France as we meant to go on : with delicious things. After bakery products and coffee we set off on our 35 miles of the Avenue Vert – an old railway line converted to a lovely cycle path – nice and flat!!

After a relaxing lunch it was time for the hills to begin! At least hills=views

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Upon arrival at our overnight stop, celebratory drinks were in order!!

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The second day in France was more rolling hills. The spectacular views just about made up for the pain of pedaling up them. And then we arrived at our accommodation for the evening – a chateau!!!

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After relaxing on the terrace and a eating a delicious home cooked dinner (made by the owner, not us) we retired to bed at about 9.20pm (rock and roll!).

Final day!! We set off for the final 40 miles in high spirits, knowing most of the route was through beautiful forests and we’d be in Paris for dinner.

Minor disaster with a detour for Kathryn off of a dual carriageway and Karen experiencing the only puncture of the trip, but these didn’t hold us up for long and we were soon on our way again.

We stopped to enjoy French bread, cheese and salami in an uber picnic in the genteel gardens of Versaille, before pushing on for the final stretch to the Eiffel Tower!!

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As we started our final descent we turned a corner and caught our first glimpse of the city, and moments later the Eiffel Tower was revealed, standing proudly like a beacon over the rooftops. We paused to squeal and enjoy the magical moment before doing our final weave through the city streets, with the tower getting larger with every pedal stroke.

And then we made it! We were greeted by the lovely Katie and Stef at the Eiffel Tower, waiting with bottles of sparkling wine and medals to congratulate us on completing the route.

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Cycling through Paris to Gare du Nord to drop off our bikes was an experience but we all survived and made it for dinner involving copious amounts of wine and ALL OF THE CHEESE.

We had a well earned relaxing Sunday in Paris and then a Eurostar journey home with more wine!

Here’s to the next challenge in 2017!!

Unwrapping the Mast Brothers

Our June meeting was all about CHOCOLATE! It was a taste extravaganza, as the lovely ladies from the London branch of the Mast Brothers took us to flavour town with a talk…and samples of their chocolate making process. Mast Brothers are craft chocolate makers and according to our lovely guest speakers they are a full bean to bar chocolate makers. The roasting process is all done by hand, using similar methods to the Mayans and Aztecs. More exciting than that though was getting to see a full on cocoa pod which was still filled with its pulpy fruit – which honestly looked like an extra from the Alien movies- but it tasted ok. I’m not sure I’ll add it to my weekly fruit intake, but it was exciting to try out the mushy blob!

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We learnt about tempering chocolate…all important if you want to avoid bloom on you chocolate… That’s the white stuff you occasionally find out your chocolate that has melted in the sun, and then reset. If you heat and cool chocolate without controlling the temperature the crystallisation of cocoa butter will result in crystals of different sizes (bad crystals) forming. The key crystal is crystal number 5 apparently. 5 is the key for cocoa and coco butter to remain friends!

Aside from amazing flavours, the chocolate is wrapped in the most amazing paper. Totally beautiful designs…. Puts Wonka bars to shame!

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