Gratitude

Even though this is the week during the year we are supposed to focus on being grateful, I have to admit I haven’t particularly felt grateful this week. Both of my kids have had stomach flu, so I’ve pretty much spent the week helping them recover from that. There are other things this week stressing me out as well, and let’s be honest, life is full of stuff that just does not generate grateful, happy thoughts. Today, while we are all home recovering, I happened to be catching up on some of my yarn-y reading, aka Vogue Knitting, Interweave, etc., and came across a number of inspiring, charitable knitters and organizations that craft for people in need. Reading about these people who are going through way worse things than I ever have, and the kindness of those who are working to help them, made me feel much more grateful. My life is indeed good, even if a particular week is not. In celebration of Thanksgiving, and of cultivating gratitude year-round, here’s a list of people and/or companies who are doing good in the world. I hope you enjoy browsing this list and feel grateful and inspired to help also! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

  1. Debbie Macomber and World Vision’s Knit for Kids is perhaps the most well-known, but worthy of support nonetheless. Debbie seems like the patron saint of charitable knitters, and if you haven’t read her books, you should definitely relax a few hours after your turkey and enjoy one!
  2. More than 50% of the employees at Skeino are challenged. This is a group of people who are often overlooked, and Skeino aims to give them a place in society and a way to make a living. And they’re doing a good job – the Arabella Shawl is gorgeous!
  3. This generous soul gives free patterns and information on knitting chemo hats.
  4. Ancient Arts Fibre donates to a cause particularly close to my heart – helping stray animals. I have two rescue cats, and as any animal lover knows, for every two you take in and adopt, there are 200 more that still need help. Dog lovers, they donate to help stray dogs too. And I do think it’s just plain cool to dye yarn based on cats and dogs – who doesn’t want a skein of Meow or Woof Yarn?!
  5. Ten places that need crocheted items.

A Little Birdie Told Me…

…about these really beautiful yarn bowls that make me want to have way more than one and use them for way more than just yarn. I don’t have any yarn bowls, and I never even thought I needed them, but these are changing my mind. I share with you all because you might want to add these to your holiday wish lists! Browsing this site also makes me imagine a utopia in Maine in which there are sheep wandering around, a fireplace, cable-knit sweaters, and all the knitting time I could ever hope for. One can dream…


A Hack for a Swift

SwiftHack2

I’m a big believer that you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, in the case of ballwinders and swifts, you always end up spending a good amount, even for the ones on the low end of the cost spectrum. I will be nice and not name the company I bought my swift and ballwinder from, but let’s just say it’s one of the inexpensive ones, relatively speaking, and sure enough, I’ve had tons of problems. Usually when I want to wind my yarn, I just take it up to the shop, which defeats the purpose of having the equipment at my house. The main problem with my swift is that the screw you use to hold it in place after you expand it to the size of your skein has never worked. It seems like the company never made it properly, and it has never held the swift up. The company even sent me a replacement, which didn’t work any better than the first one!

A closeup so you can see just how simple this hack is!

A closeup so you can see just how simple this hack is!

Then the other day, my husband dug around on a shelf and came up with what you see in the photos. It works like a charm, and I can’t believe it took us this long to figure out such a simple hack! But then that’s the thing about hacks – they are genius, yet simple at the same time.


A Crafter’s Luxury

sock knitting

The basics – cuff down and toe up.

As I’ve mentioned before, my foray into yarny adventures began with crochet. After I crocheted for awhile, I realized how different knitting and crocheting are, and that each lends itself better to certain things. My original reason for wanting to learn to knit was so I could make socks. People do crochet socks, but all the ones I saw my friends making were knit, and I wanted to be able to do that too!

Sock knitting has been a difficult thing for me, for whatever reason. DPN’s do take some getting used to, and then there’s the heel turn, and getting the darn things to fit on my extra long feet! However, I will say, despite the struggles I’ve had, I still think a handmade pair of socks, even those like mine above, which don’t have any fancy pattern, are a crafter’s well-earned luxury. Most of the socks you buy at chain stores may be cheap, but they’re not made from superwash merino or alpaca and cashmere, and let’s be honest, they just don’t look half as cool! Most people would abhor the idea of spending $25+ on a single pair of socks (the going rate for a skein of fine sock yarn), and to make them means you’re completing practically as many stitches as you would if you made a sweater. However, I figure it’s a small price to pay for a really special luxury!

toe-up sock knitting

Toe-Up – given a choice, I do like toe-up better than cuff-down.

If you are new to sock knitting, I recommend that you find a very simple pattern to follow, or begin with Silver’s Sock Class. You can always use a variegated or self striping yarn as I did to give basic Stockinette interest. My first ever pair was done cuff down. I then decided I wanted to try toe-up, which is the second pair I just finished. There are many books on sock knitting, but when I’m learning something new, I like to stick to the basics for awhile. Now that I’ve tried the basic techniques and managed to finish two pairs, I’m ready to try a pair with a little more pattern. If you are struggling to make it through the second sock, I encourage you to push through to the finish, because you will be rewarded when you slip them on your feet!


Seriously Cool Star Wars

Here’s a little something you probably don’t know about me. I don’t think I’ve posted anything that would have made anyone guess, but I really LOVE Star Wars. I blame this on my brother. I hadn’t seen the movies or paid much attention to it until he became a fanatic. He begged me for weeks to just watch one movie, and of course, once I did, I binge-watched them all.

I am not as geeked out over it as he is – I never bought and traded thousands of the collector cards like he did, but I did go see the re-releases plus all the new ones in the theaters. And every summer or Christmas break, I get in the mood to have a Star Wars marathon, and enjoy them each time. I think this is one of THE coolest things I’ve ever seen, so I am excited to share it! I have no problem admitting that I am definitely enough of a fan to make and wear this! And any fellow fans should seriously send this person a thank you, because I doubt George Lucas would be giving it away for free! :)


Chunky Polka Dots

elizabeth kay booth polka dot scarf

Polka Dot Scarf

Not too long ago, I posted a holiday gift guide of sorts. Please allow me to respectfully add one more item of my own design to the list. This scarf, which was claimed by my daughter about 5 minutes after I started working on it, is super fast, even though it involves intarsia, and is the perfect gift for a young girl. My daughter is 9, and it is hard to find patterns for kids that age. Most of the books only take kids’ sizes up through 6 or 7, and even stores seem to skip age 9. Style-wise, kids, especially girls, that age are at a difficult stage. They’re done with the Disney princesses, but not quite ready for all the stuff targeted at teenagers.

My daughter went to a birthday party a few months back and came home with a polka-dotted gift bag. The bag sat around our house staring at me for a few weeks before I finally threw it out. But when our shop got a shipment of Zumie, I had a jolt of inspiration. Polka dots and chunky knit seem to fit the bill for 9 year-old girliness crossed with a move toward growing up. You can have your own fun picking out the colors, as I did, or you can ask your little lady what her favorite colors are.

Aside from my new free pattern, I offer one more little goodie. I have, up until now, been posting all my patterns on Ravelry, as it is the only place I’m able to process transactions on patterns for purchase. Other freebies, such as the Doubles Remix cowl have simply been blog posts. I thought it would be helpful for everyone if all my patterns were in one place. Starting with this new pattern, plus all others, you may now visit the newly created Patterns page. For now, all of my for-sale patterns are on the main page, and the free patterns are separated into the dropdown. As I continue to design and add patterns, I will do my best to keep it easy for you to find what you want. For instance, once I add a few more crochet patterns, there will be another dropdown for those. In the meantime, I hope this new page makes it easier to find things. Enjoy browsing my little portfolio of designs, and I hope, enjoy crafting them! Many thanks to all of you who read my blog, make my designs, and support me as a designer! Please share your photos of finished objects on Ravelry with me, because I would love to see!


Crochet and Knitting Trivia

I recently finished reading The Glitter Plan, which is the story in their own words of how the two founders of Juicy Couture built the company out of basically nothing. I am a sucker for American Dream stories where someone has a few dollars and through their own hard work and creativity, turn it into a multi-million dollar company. I was very pleasantly surprised to read that Gela Nash-Taylor (half of the Juicy Couture founding team) is a knitter and, like me, sits up at night and knits to relieve stress. I’ve periodically seen a photo here or there of other more famous celebrities who knit and crochet. Just for fun, I thought I’d see if I could find a list. Here is what I came up with, although I’m sure this is by no means comprehensive. I’m not sure why I enjoy yarny trivia so much, but I hope you all enjoy browsing these as much as I did!

Those who knit might surprise you. By the way, to add to the trivia fun, I am told a certain Desperate Housewife in this list used to come in our shop all the time. I just wish I’d been working there at the time!

Those who crochet might surprise you even more!

And, if like me, you still love a good track suit, this book will tell you the story behind how it all started.


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