Transition Stroud Newsletter Editor Josephine Murray (JM) talks to Clare Sheridan (CS) from Transition Stroud’s Textiles Group, a retired Psychiatric Nurse, specialising in Children, Adolescents and Families who is now involved with several gardening and growing initiatives, as well as textiles.
JM: What prompted you to join the Transition Stroud Textiles Group?
CS: I joined when it was first started, I think in 2006 or 2007, by Rose Liles. I remember going to someone’s house and we put the banner together that Transition Stroud still uses at events. I have always loved sewing and hated how some people would just throw clothes away when they were tired of them. Most of my wardrobe is from charity shops or clothes swaps. Any clothes that I do buy, eg underwear and socks, are ethical and eco-friendly.
JM: What are the group’s aims?
CS: The Textile group aims to keep clothes out of landfill, teach people how to repair clothes and upcycle them. We swap clothes and material and share skills such as knitting crochet, embroidery and mending. We’ve had sessions making buttons, wax wraps, painting on cloth with natural dyes, and more recently learning to spin wool.
JM: Could you tell us about the Textile Group’s projects?
CS: We were asked by the seed bank to make an ‘inedible edible garden’ to advertise open edible gardens. We had great fun making tiny veg that were planted in knitted fields, a small pond with ducks, and miniature apple trees. Out of that we were commissioned to make one for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which we were paid for.
Before Covid we held an annual Trashion Show, the first was in December 2007, where we would showcase upcycled clothes and clothes made from rubbish. The audience was informed of possibilities for recycling, clothes production, the massive amounts of water and chemicals used in the process and how re-using clothes is much better for the environment.
During the first lockdown we individually made animals and insects to go on a banner to be part of The Dursley Sculpture and Play Trail in Twinberrow woods Dursley.
Some of us were involved in making numerous sets of scrubs for hospital staff during the initial shortage and most of us made masks for family, friends and neighbours.
More recently we made pieces for the COP 26 1.5 mile banner that went to Glasgow during the Climate Conference. After the event the main organisers of the event made the pieces into blankets for refugees. We are looking for more members who want to learn how to mend clothes and upcycle those already in the wardrobe. We usually meet at the beginning of the year to decide on a new project but any suggestions would be welcomed, even if you don’t want to join us.
JM: How long have you lived in this area?
CS: Stonehouse has been home for my husband Paul and I for the past 29 years. We love it here where we live by the canal, with swans coming up on the grass opposite our house. There are hills all around for walking and mountain biking. This was especially lovely during lockdown.
JM: What do you do in your spare time?
CS: We belong to the Gloucestershire Mountaineering Club and love going to the hills in Wales, the Lake District and Scotland, walking and rock climbing.
I have 9 grandchildren now and spend time with them and our four boys and their families. Family is very important.
I volunteer with Cotswold Boatmobility, a charity that helps less able people get out on the canal.
I take care of a planter on Downton Road in Stonehouse as part of Stonehouse in Bloom. I have only edibles in there, a mixture of fruit such as currants and strawberries, veg in red chard, flowers like nasturtium, calendula and day lilies. This is edged with herbs, red sage, oregano, mint and feverfew. I also look after the phonebox next to it where there is a thriving book swap. I love to read and do so morning and evening. The book swap has kept me in interesting books.
JM: What other sustainability initiatives are you involved with?
CS: We have an allotment and I also co-ordinate a Fair Shares Allotment. Fair Shares is a charity all about reciprocal volunteering and bringing communities together. Referrals come from schools, GP’s and Community Wellbeing Service agents. People come when they are able and have a share in the harvest when there is some available. A 9-year-old boy who is being home-schooled comes one morning a week and has learnt a lot about being able to feed himself in the future including saving seeds. As part of Stroud Community Seed Bank I am an advocate for seed saving and retaining the seeds that have been shown to have better flavour and interest than those grown commercially. We practise no dig so that the soil microbe life isn’t disturbed more than necessary and compost and rotted manure is added on the surface and worms can then do the work of taking it down into the soil. I am a member of Gloucestershire Organic Gardening Group and co-ordinated a stall at Malvern Spring and Autumn gardening shows for many years until Covid.
Paul and I belong to a wood group that manages woodland at Hawkwood and Summer Street and we get a share of the wood for our wood burner. We also have shares in a community woodland, Folly Woods Co-operative and Thrupp Community Orchard. We have been members of Stroud Community Agriculture since its inception. It was wonderful to be secure in our veg supply during Covid when the shops were struggling at times, especially as we are vegetarian.
I am also involved with Share and Repair which keeps items out of landfill by repairing if possible. I do some of the mending which varies from replacing zips or shortening trousers to darning or upcycling jumpers.
Find out about more local Stroud Transitioneers
If you would like to share your experiences of sustainable living and working in Stroud district, or would like to suggest someone for us to talk to, please email newsletter editor Josephine Murray via email@example.com