September Sustainability Challenge

For the month of September, I have gathered together a talented group of five full-time textile designer / makers for a friendly “Sustainability Challenge”. As part of the challenge, we will all have a month to make something spectacular, but sustainable from six balls of blanket yarn (offcuts from the woollen mills in Yorkshire). I bet your creative cogs are already turning! 

In a bid to inspire you lovely lot, we’ll be sharing weekly updates on each of our social media channels, so you can follow along with our progress. I suspect there will be some highs and lows! Here are the brilliant makers taking part and a bit about their specialties… 

Elspeth Jackson – Rag Rug Expert from Ragged Life 

You presumably know a bit about me already, but in case you don’t. I’m Elspeth, author of Rag Rug Techniques for Beginners and Rag Rugs, Pillows & More. I’ve been making rag rugs since I was fourteen and have now made everything from rag rug pouffes and bunting to rag rug bouquets and Christmas trees. I love turning old clothing and textile offcuts into colourful and practical homeware using traditional techniques. 

Follow Elspeth on Instagram here and Facebook here. The main Ragged Life website is here.

Elspeth Jackson, rag rug teacher and textile designer from Ragged Life

Lucy Rowan – Weaver / Maker from peasandneedles

Our second challenger, Lucy, specialises in weaving and punch needle. She has been featured in many magazines, including Elle Decoration and Mollie Makes Magazine. She is the author of not one, not two, but four craft books and you can often find her hosting workshops in the South of England passing on her textile skills. 

Follow Lucy on Instagram here and Facebook here. Lucy’s website is here.

Lucy Rowan from Peas and Needles

Paula Clark – Macramé, Crochet & Knitting Expert from Cocoon&me.

Anyone who has been to the Knitting and Stitching Shows may well recognise Paula and Cocoon&me from their eye-catching, boho-chic stands. After a long & successful career working in fashion as a knitwear designer, Paula started her own business, Cocoon&me, in 2017. Since the very beginning, Paula’s aim has been to create a brand of beautiful things for like-minded people whilst respecting the people and planet. Bags, blankets, bowls… all kinds of stunning items – Paula makes them!

Follow Paula on Instagram here and Facebook here. Paula’s website is here.

Paula Clark from Cocoon&Me

Jen Hogg – Great British Sewing Bee s5 Semi Finalist & Sewist from Jenerates.

Saying that Jen is a seamstress is a bit misleading, as she seems to have tried every craft that comes her way – silversmithing, photography, pottery, stained glass, joinery, needlecraft, weaving, knitting… you name it, Jen has probably tried it! ​

Within the world of textiles though, Jen is well known for having reached the semi final of Season 5 of the Sewing Bee (quite the feat!), and the subsequent creation of the Jenerates Seam Circles and Jenerates Silicone Hemmer – both amazingly handy tools for any sewer that are now sold all over the world. Jen has worked with surplus fabrics in the past, so we’re excited to see what wisdom she brings to the challenge!  

Follow Jen on Instagram here and Facebook here. Jen’s website is here.

Jen Hogg from Jenerates

Scarlett Hawkes – Size-Inclusive Upcylist from AFRAYED Upcycling

I’ve been following Scarlett on Instagram for a while now and absolutely love her iconic tea towel dresses. Here’s a bit about her…

Scarlett has been sewing since she was 14 years old, but didn’t get around to starting AFRAYED Upcyling until lockdown. After travelling for five months, then being sent home due to COVID19, Scarlett was desperate to get back to sewing after such a long break. She went to order fabric online but lockdown had caused a 4 week delay. So, being the thrifty maker that she is, she cut up some of her mum’s old clothing (with her consent of course!!) and made a patchwork jumpsuit (see the photo below for the exact jumpsuit!). She posted this on Facebook and it was so popular that she has been taking commissions and upcycling full time since. Scarlett has always been passionate about the effects of fashion on our planet, so our Sustainability Challenge is right up her street!

Follow Scarlett on Instagram here and Facebook here. Scarlett’s website is here.

Scarlett from AFRAYED Upcycling in her handmade upcycled jumpsuit

So, that’s a brief intro to our “contestants”. We’ll be doing a more in-depth Q&A with each of them in the coming weeks to showcase some of their previous work. Stay tuned for more updates and. read on below for the Sustainable Student Competition…

Sustainable Student Competition:

We will also be running an open competition alongside the professional crafters one. If you’ve made a project in blanket yarn and would like to be in with a chance of winning, send a photo to with the subject “Sustainable Student Competition” to enter – what do you have to lose? Make sure to email your entry over before the end of September and include a little blurb about what you’ve made and any story behind it. Your project must be at least partially made using blanket yarn (mill selvedges), but can be made in any technique and you fancy.

Beautiful blanket yarn rag rug cushion handmade from recycled blanket offcuts

On Monday, 2nd October, our five September Sustainability Challenge makers will choose a winner of the Sustainable Student Competition and we will share a gallery of all the entries here on the Ragged Life Blog.

Our winner will receive a bundle of craft goodies worth over £100 made up of gifts from the professional crafters taking part in the competition. Two runners up will each win £50 store credit on the Ragged Life Online Shop.

I’m already looking forward to this competition and hope you are too! 

Elspeth x

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