Saturday, 28 October 2017

Vegan Vs Wool Felt - My Perspective

Recently I read a discussion regarding wool felt and ethical issues. Whilst I believe these arguments are made sincerely and have valid points, I feel that the other side of the argument is often left out entirely. Are there any ethical issues relating to vegan felt?

Please be warned there may be graphic content in my words. You can google the graphic pictures if you so desire.

Moondyne / CC-BY-SA-3.0
The Big Merino in Goulburn
Australia is famous for it's "Big" attractions


Wool Felt:

The argument was made that vegan felt was more ethical due to the fact that it was made from recycled plastic bottles, and did not cause harm to animals. Whereas wool felt comes from sheep, and there are cruel animal husbandry practices such as mulesing associated with farming practices. Concerns were also raised about living conditions.

As the daughter of a sheep farmer in Australia, I must say that most farmers want to look after their sheep. Sheep in Australia are generally not housed in a shed or factory. They are free to roam in a paddock and eat grass. I guess the exception would be fat lambs - where lambs are kept in an enclosure in order to restrict grass intake and are fed grain in order to fatten them up quickly for market. This is done for the meat market and those lambs do not live long enough to provide wool. So wool felt has nothing to do with that. Sheep do not have to die to give us wool, and in fact, they need the wool taken off them for summer. It is in the best interests of farmers to look after their sheep, and the majority do.

Mulesing is a widespread practice that involves cutting strips of wrinkly wool-bearing skin away from around the backside of sheep to prevent faeces and urine getting stuck to the wool, which attacts flies who lay their eggs there. When the maggots hatch, they eat the flesh of the sheep. I have seen fly strike first hand. I know that whilst mulesing does cause pain it is short-lived and is very effective at preventing fly strike - where a sheep may rot to death from maggot infection. It does not smell nice.


Wool Felt Sheets by Andiec / CC-BY-SA-3.0


Vegan Felt:

Whilst the title sounds great, vegan felt can also have serious ethical issues.

Acrylic/Polyester Felt is vegan. It does not come from an animal source. It is however, made from petroleum. Wars are started over securing a stable petroleum source, so there are definitely ethical issues involved. Also, there are the issues of it being highly flammable unless treated with flame retardants - which probably carry health issues too. Plastics tend to off-gas hormonal substances which can interfere with the endocrine system and possibly cause infertility issues in factory workers. Not to mention the conditions endured by factory workers and the possibility of child slave labour.

Eco Felt is vegan. It is made from recycled plastic bottles. But does the fact that this is a second use negate the effects of production in the first place? The re-melting process is likely to cause further off-gassing anyway. 

Bamboo Felt is vegan. It comes from vegetation. But it is probably harvested in a way that causes deforestation and loss of habitat for Panda Bears. If it is grown, how likely is it that it is grown in areas that were previously deforested?

Viscose/Rayon Felt is vegan. It is made from cellulose sourced from wood pulp, so is also likely to contribute to deforestation and loss of habitat issues.


Colored Felt Cloth by Bastet78 / CC-BY-SA-3.0


My conclusion:

Ethical issues are important, but no decision is perfect. Until Jesus returns to set everything straight, we are going to have to live with imperfect circumstances.
I use whatever I am able to get my hands on. 

If I use: 
  • acrylic felt - I am providing factory workers with a job (and using affordable felt)
  • wool felt - I am providing farmers with a job (and using great quality felt)
  • re-cycled materials / eco felt - I am preventing waste (and reducing pressure on landfill)
  • second-hand materials - I am upcycling (and giving to charity when I buy from a charity shop)
  • new materials - I am developing industry (which is important for the financial health of a region)
  • etc etc etc

I hope that what I am making out of the felt is important too. I am using what resources I can to make the world a better place, and bring a smile to the faces of both children and their carers. My aim is to spread the message of God's love for each individual.

"So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Ribbon Quiet Book Binding Method

The Ribbon Quiet Book Binding Method is a very simple way to put a quiet book together if you want the book to be completely bound. By 'completely bound' I mean that you cannot swap the pages in and out. It is a completely bound book and will stay that way.


The pillowcase closure has been pulled back underneath so you can see the layers side on.



Explanation Video


This is a method I came up with after trying Debbie's tutorial of How To make Cloth Books from her website Cloth Books for Baby. I tried her method on my Up-cycled Clothes Quiet Book, and while it was super simple, I found that the spine was rather thick and difficult to sew. It didn't help that I sewed some of the clothes right to the edge of my borders, but I guess that is what you get when you make a quiet book. Very thick pages.




So to combat this issue, I tweaked Debbie's idea slightly and came up with the Ribbon Quiet Book Binding Method.

I must warn you, I put this quiet book together very late, actually very early, on Christmas morning last year. It came together quite quickly, considering. If I was using the traditional quilted quiet book binding method, I am certain I could not have finished in time.




I think I may have already attached my Pillowcase Quiet Book Closure to the back cover before that night, but I can't quite remember. Let's assume that I had!




Most of the pages were made by people in a swap that I went in, so I can't take any credit for those. Aside from the cover, the pages I did made for this book were for a Felt Board in a Fabric Quiet Book, and a pocket page to store the felt board pieces and random pieces from other pages. I wanted the pocket to be easily accessible from the felt board pages as it is not constructive to play to be having to turn the page to get to a pocket, especially when there is nothing attaching the pieces, and they would likely fall off and have to be re-positioned.


View of the book folded out with the cover and closure showing.

I positioned the pages in the order I wanted them to appear once put together, then sewed the pages on two or three sides (depending on how many ribbon spines or joiners were to be attached to them) with right sides together. Then I turned them so right sides were facing out before attaching ribbons to form spines or joiners between the pages.




This reduced the bulkiness along the seams, and meant that the pages could be stacked together and sewn down the middle to form a spine so much easier than with my attempt for the Up-cycled Clothes Quiet Book.




Mum was horrified that I didn't top stitch the pages once I turned them, and is worried that they will fray, especially if I need to wash it. I guess I am just lazy, and I will hand wash it anyway if I need to so I think it will be OK. The zigzag stitch should help with that too.




View of the ribbon joiner attached at the seam where the pillowcase closure is attached.


The book can be folded innumerable ways so that any page can be sitting on top.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Genesis 6 - Preparing For The Flood Quiet Book Page

In Genesis chapter 6, God tells Noah to build an ark.



Memory Verse: "And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female." Genesis 6:19

Materials needed to create Preparing For The Flood quiet book page:

  • A4 felt background sheet. I used dark green
  • Betty Lukens Felt book 07 Noah's Ark available at Koorong.
  • sewing thread to best match the page
  • scissors!
Cut out all the pieces for this page and the page itself from the Betty Lukens set. Cut it out as it is, not in the shape of an ark as suggested in the instructions. The Betty Lukens FAQ section has posted a cutting tips PDF.

Sew the Betty Lukens page onto the background felt along three sides, leaving the top edge open to form a pocket. Pop the pieces inside the pocket (or better yet, play with them)!

Finished!




Difficulty Level = Easy, plus No Sew version.

One of the easiest quiet book pages ever!
Just use hot glue wherever sewing is recommended for a no sew version.

Key Learning Areas and Skills

  • Genesis 6 - this page tells the story of how God instructed Noah to build an ark to prepare for The Flood.
  • Imaginative Play - get all the animals ready to enter the ark.
  • Matching - there are two of each type of animal - match them into pairs.
  • Fine Motor Skills - all quiet books encourage fine motor skills through turning pages, and on this page, through rearranging the pieces.

Read the Chapter

Genesis 6

Devotional

How big was the ark? Tour the life-size replica at Ark Encounter via you tube.

Or read this article on worldwide flood traditions

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Psalm 127 - Unless the LORD Builds the House Quiet Book Page

In Psalm 127, Solomon notes that a lot of effort is wasted when we try to do things without God's help.


Memory Verse: "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain." Psalm 127:1

Materials needed to create Unless the LORD Builds the House quiet book page:

  • A4 felt background sheet. I used bright green.
  • Wonderwall in a slightly smaller size than the background
  • sewing thread to best match the wonderwall
  • stiffened felt in various colours
  • Velcro dots - hook side only
  • hot glue gun and glue - optional
  • the free template
  • pen and scissors!
Cut out the blocks from the template and draw around each the correct number of times on the colour of stiffened felt chosen. Cut out the blocks from the stiffened felt. Cut your Velcro dots in half and attach the Velcro dot to the side of the stiffened felt block which has the pen mark on it. You may need to use a little hot glue to hold them in place, especially if your Velcro dots are a little old like some of mine were, and the sticky is not so sticky anymore.

It is difficult to see in the photos, but the white circle is actually attached with a Velcro dot to a dark blue square block. It is meant to be a clock.

Sew your Wonderwall to the background page, leaving enough room for a colourful border and to allow you to sew your pages back to back once you are ready to sew the book together.




Stick your building blocks onto the Wonderwall with the Velcro and re-arrange to make all sorts of buildings.  They should all fit on the page for storage purposes.




Finished!

Difficulty Level = Easy, plus No Sew version.

One of the easiest quiet book pages ever!
Just use hot glue wherever sewing is recommended for a no sew version.

Key Learning Areas and Skills

  • Genesis 6 - This page tells about how much God works behind the scenes. We often forget that it is actually Him keeping our cities and country safe, and helping us to build our lives.
  • Shapes - Learn the shapes square, circle, semi-circle, arch, rectangle, pillar, and triangle.
  • Touch and Feel - The Wonderwall adds a rough texture to the page.
  • Imaginative Play - Build endless combinations of houses, city gates, and walls, etc.
  • Fine Motor Skills - all quiet books encourage fine motor skills through turning pages, and on this page, through rearranging the Velcroed pieces.


Read the Chapter

Psalm 127

Devotional

Solomon wrote this Psalm. I'm not sure that this is what he was talking about, but I found it a little fitting because he was the one God selected to build His house - the Temple. David had been busy making plans to build a temple, but God told him "No". I guess David knew better than to argue with God, because it seems he accepted that without complaint. He did all he could so it was ready for Solomon though, gathering supplies and drawing up plans.

Like I mentioned in my last devotional for Luke 12 - Where is Your Treasure Quiet Book Page, no-one can be an expert on everything, and if you want your plans to succeed, it is best to ask for help. God's help is the greatest help, and He can find you the right people to provide you with help too. If God has decreed something is not going to succeed, it ain't gonna, so don't waste your efforts.

Once again, we can't rely on own own efforts to build a good life and to keep ourselves safe. That's God's job, and that's great for us, because otherwise how could we go to sleep at night? But He is always there keeping watch and helping if we ask Him to.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Deuteronomy 4 - Seek Me Find Me Quiet Book Page

In Deuteronomy chapter 4, God tells the Israelite's His laws and asks them not to let the memory of all the good things he has done for them fade from their hearts.


Memory Verse: "But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29

Materials needed to create the Seek Me Find Me quiet book page:

  • A4 felt background sheet. I used black
  • flat silver cross (I found one at a bead shop) - see the photo at the end of the post to gauge the size - the Australian 10 cent coin pictured is roughly the size of a US quarter.
  • embroidered heart from an embroidered geometric tulle panel
  • ribbon to trim the heart with
  • sewing thread to best match the page
  • scissors!


Cut out the heart from the tulle panel. Pin it to the background felt sheet and slip the cross underneath. Sew it down with zig zag stitch. Measure the length of ribbon needed and melt the ends to prevent fraying. I turned the ribbon under at each end for a nice finish. Sew your ribbon down on top of your stitching to hide the edge of the heart, beginning and ending at the junction at the top. I sewed mine down with a slight zig zag stitch as well because of the type of ribbon I used. It made the ribbon sit better. 


Finished!

Difficulty Level = Easy, plus No Sew version.

One of the easiest quiet book pages ever!
Just use hot glue wherever sewing is recommended for a no sew version.


Key Learning Areas and Skills

  • Deuteronomy 4 - This page tells about how God is wanting us to seek Him, and is ready to forgive if we do.
  • Seek and Find - Find the location of the silver cross underneath the embroidered heart.
  • Touch and Feel - The embroidery ribbon and sequins on the heart provides a textural quality to the page, and the cross underneath feels hard to the touch, but is hard to find.
  • Shapes - learn the shape of a heart and cross.
  • Fine Motor Skills - all quiet books encourage fine motor skills through turning pages, and on this page, through parting the embroidery ribbon or palpating the heart in general to see/feel the cross underneath.


Read the Chapter

Deuteronomy 4

Devotional

What a beautiful promise God makes with this verse. He has just warned the Israelite not to follow Idols and what the consequences of doing that would be, but then takes the time to reassure everyone that He is very willing to forgive and will not snub them if they do but then repent. He is always there ready to be found if we choose to, in fact He is longing for us to. No sin is too great for God to forgive, for the price Jesus paid with His life is great enough to save us all.