After reviewing my progress in last week’s post, I decided to revise my list for the last half of the Year of Projects. This may not seem as ambitious as my original list, but for right now it works for me.
I’ve been purposely vague about the exact numbers of projects, etc. because I would like to keep my Year of Projects participation fun and not obligatory!
So without further ado, here’s my new list.
1) Continue to reduce my yarn stash and track my yarn consumption. I’m an active member of the Surmount the Stash group on Ravelry, but I’m always looking for new ways of tracking my yardage. I started using KnitMeter yesterday, and I think this will be quite helpful. I’ve already learned a lot from entering the projects I completed (and didn’t unravel) in 2012!
My goal is to have one less plastic bin of yarn by the end of 2013, so I guess I should be about halfway there by the end of the Year of Projects. I have no idea what that represents in yardage!
2) Make more projects for myself. I never seem to focus enough on projects for myself. I’d like to make myself a pair of crocheted socks and a full winter accessories set (hat, scarf/cowl, and mittens or convertible gloves). If I could do this by the end of June, I’d be pretty pleased with myself.
3) Learn at least one (hopefully more) new (to me) knitting technique or skill. Some options I’ve been thinking about are entrelac, efficient use of DPNs (the horror!), circular knitting that starts with a small amount of stitches and increases rather than a large amount of stitches and decreases (like some of the great motifs from Knitting in Circles), and more advanced cast on, bind off, or colorwork methods.
4) Host at least 2 CALs or KALs in my Ravelry group. I had a lot of fun with the Ripple Mania CAL last year and the Chubby Sheep CAL going on now in the Underground Crafter group. I’d like to be more organized about how I approach these, though. Maybe I might even write up a mystery project for a fall CAL…?
5) Donate crocheted (or knitted) projects to charity. Crochetlist is a Yahoo group that I’ve been involved with on and off for years. I’ll be hosting the September challenge this year (pet blankets for Bideawee again), and I’d like to donate my own projects to at least one of the other challenges.
6″ squares (and I think we all know that I love to make grannies) for Casting Off the Cold by the beginning of June. But I’m not sure about the cost of shipping to Canada…
I could also participate in a charity drive through the New York City Crochet Guild or to send some 8″ squares to Sandy for Bridge and Beyond. And I’m actually hoping to find a charity that accepts crocheted toys. I know that I can look charities up on Bev’s Charity Links or Lion Brand’s Charity Connection, but if anyone has a suggestion of a US based charity that accepts crocheted toys that don’t need to be made in any particular colors, please let me know!
Right now, this list seems incredibly ambitious since I have two samples due next Friday, another one due at the end of the month, and I’ve just volunteered to help out Crochet Happy with her January CAL. But I’m sure once February arrives, I’ll be amazed at the small size of my list. I can always add more things to it if need be!
I had plans for more creative (read: flashy) hats, but then I remembered these guidelines on the Bridge and Beyond blog about donating handmade hats to homeless people:
Choose colors that don’t show the dirt, that are appropriate for the group you’re donating too. Wild colors, bold stripes aren’t a good choice for homeless people… Homeless [people] don’t like to call attention to themselves with wild colors. Dark colors work for everyone, kids, teens, women, and men. Light colors limit who can benefit from your warm hat.
With that in mind, I pulled out the charcoal yarns and went work. I made both hats very bulky and warm so they will provide a little extra protection in harsh weather. I’m also planning to make some scarves before the drop off deadline.
Yummy yarn stuff
When I wrote my post for I Love Yarn Day last year, I was already thinking about thinning out my stash. This year I’ve been participating in Surmount the Stash and I started my own Holiday Stashdown Challenge, and I’ve made a lot of progress towards reducing my stash and increasing the proportion of natural fibers in my collection. I’m not even going to enter the I Love Yarn Day contest where you can win 365 skeins of yarn. Last year, I wouldn’t have been able to pass it up. So what changed?
One of my best friends and I took part in the 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge with Frugally Sustainable in January. As New York natives working in the public/non-profit sector and watching prices rise astronomically, we are always worried about our finances.
I found this lovely skein of Dream in ColorEverlasting Sock right next to the needles. My final stop was The Yarn Company. I’ve done a fair amount of browsing in the shop since it came under new ownership and the vibe is much better than it was in the past. Other than a few skeins of sale yarn that I bought when ownership switched over, I had never found the “right” yarn for me when visiting. It is in my neighborhood and I appreciate the work the new owners have put into rebuilding the store’s reputation, so I decided to stop by during the Yarn Crawl. And I wasn’t disappointed when I found this lovely skein of Miss BabsYowza-Whatta Skein! in Violets in the Grass. I have ideas for these yarns, but honestly, I almost never make exactly what I planned when I’m buying the yarn! (Does this happen to anyone else?) By the time I get through the things I’m making now and the projects I have deadlines for, I’ll be interested in making other things. At least now that I started using Ravelry’s stash feature (thanks to this tutorial from FreshStitches), I can easily scan my stash before starting a new project. For more I Love Yarn Day excitement, check out the inspiration webpage, Pinboards, and Facebook page, and follow @iloveyarnday or search #iloveyarnday on Twitter. And for more Finished Objects, visit Tami’s Amis.
In the early 2000s, when I first learned to read crochet patterns, there weren’t many good crochet websites. One that I would visit time and again for help understanding a new technique was Crochet Cabana. Even now, as a crochet teacher I often refer beginners to this wonderful site. So I’m really excited to interview Sandie Petit today, the founder of Crochet Cabana.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started crocheting?
Sandie: In the summer of 1980, I went on vacation with some girlfriends in Mississippi. They pulled out their hooks and started crocheting and offered to teach me. That got the ball rolling. When I returned home the local TG&Y became my primary source for patterns, yarn, and hooks. The yarn was Sayelle at the time. For many years I thought Boye was the only kind of hook manufactured! With the advent of the Internet a whole new world opened up to me and I now have quite a nice hook collection! My house is often overrun by yarn and I have more patterns than I could complete in several lifetimes!
UC: What was the original inspiration behind Crochet Cabana?
Sandie: Crochet Cabana began in 1997 as a couple of pages on my personal website, Sandra’s Backyard. The original purpose was to have an area where I could jot down what I knew about crochet for my own reference. I also wanted to provide information for those just learning to crochet. I wanted to write it all down, with pictures, in a way that I hoped could be easily understood. All of my first tutorials were written with the new crocheter in mind. As I learned more myself – both in the field of crochet and also in web design – more was added.
In my wildest dreams I never imagined the site would get so large. As I got requests for information on this or that topic, I would add those topics also to the site. In 2001, my husband purchased a domain name for Crochet Cabana as a gift for me. Then in December 2004, we decided to purchase hosting space so I wouldn’t have to keep moving the site as it grew too large for the present host.
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Sandie: For designing, inspiration is everywhere. The world around you. Television. The Internet. Sitting in a doctor’s office or in traffic I might notice a particular color or pattern that is intriguing. Quite often it is a matter of need. I need a gift and I have xx amount of time (usually a very short window). It’s actually quite difficult to come up with something new and I always wonder if someone else has already done it. There are so many wonderful designers out there! I don’t feel that I do that much designing really, but when I post a picture of something I’ve worked up I know someone will ask for the pattern as soon as it’s posted.
As to inspiration for tutorials and videos, that generally comes from visitors to the site who inquire if I can show them how to do this or that. If enough people seem to be having the same problem or are interested in a particular technique, I consider adding it to the site. I do fairly often get requests for me to do a video or tutorial on how to work a particular pattern. That is something I cannot do because of copyright issues.
(One of Sandie’s videos. We start our foundation chain the same way!)
UC: You are a true pioneer of the DIY/craft scene on the internet. What were the benefits of establishing yourself online early, and what are some of the changes you’ve had to deal with in recent years?
Sandie: How nice of you to say! When I first began, I had no clue how to put up a website. My husband created the original site and showed me how to update it. Since then, I’ve done most of the work myself though my family, who are much more computer literate than I, have been a great help over the years. My daughter created the logo presently on the Cabana.
One of the benefits of being established so many years ago is that I can appreciate the technological advances available today. I clearly remember having to move the site over a dialup connection! What took many hours then would take mere minutes now. I am still using the same program to update the site (Microsoft Front Page). It is no longer supported so I will eventually have to find a new program to use – which is something I dread.
In those beginning days, way back when, one didn’t have to worry about Internet theft. In recent years, there has been a problem with people taking the work of others and claiming it as their own. Just a few months ago I found photos lifted from one of my tutorials on which the person had placed her own name right on the photos and put them on her site as her own. It was a foreign site and though I requested she remove them, that didn’t happen. You really have no recourse in these situations and it is quite discouraging since it is a lot of work to take photos, edit them, and add all the text to a tutorial, as well as making videos. Sadly, this has also happened to other designers. Sometimes you will even find people selling your patterns on Ebay, particularly if they are free patterns. They just copy them and sell them. It’s really terrible. In fact, I removed all the patterns I had on the site after one such incident. Since then, I’ve put a few back and opened Etsy and Ravelry shops. There are still quite a number I haven’t put up anywhere again. I am really torn about what to do as I love sharing my work with others. (UC comment: What a shame!)
Another change is that people are more and more moving to video teaching. I LOVE video teaching. It is amazing to me that I can create a video demonstrating how to do something, giving the tips I’ve learned through the years, and have someone in another country watch it and learn the technique. I guess I am showing my age here, but it just fascinates me. I often wish I had my own video studio and staff! I still have much to learn. I hope the industry doesn’t change too much while I’m learning!
Yet another change I have seen is the availability of e-books and e-patterns, both free and for sale. Being able to get a pattern you want immediately certainly has its up side. One thing I like about this is if I sell a pattern this way, I know exactly who purchased it and if I update it or find a significant error, I can let them know quite easily. Along with this is the self-publishing industry, such as Lulu, which has grown tremendously in the past few years.
The problem with all this availability is that much of it is free. This hurts the designers for whom crochet sales are a significant part of their earning power. I think this may be why we are seeing more complex designs as magazine publishers have to find a way to entice people to spend their discretionary income. It’s a dilemma I’m sure we will be addressing for some time to come as the industry works to find a balance between paper publishing and e-publishing.
UC: You do a lot of charity crochet. Can you tell us about some of your favorite charity projects, causes, and organizations?
Sandie: There are so many worthy organizations out there. I find that people generally gravitate toward a cause that is in some way meaningful to them. For example, I have lost many loved ones to cancer so if an opportunity arises I might donate to that cause. I had two preemies so I will occasionally donate preemie hats and afghans.
I also like to help out organizations that are based in my own state when I can. I also love to make scarves and squares. Those things came together for me in Scarves for Special Olympics where I could donate to the Louisiana branch of their organization. I was even able to deliver the scarves and meet the people there. That was rather exciting. They do require you to use particular brand and colors of yarn and there are size specifications, but I find that a challenge. I like to try and find different ways to make the scarves unique within those boundaries. This is an annual project so if you haven’t participated in the past you can always pick up and join in the next go round.
Then there is the National WWII Museum’s Knit Your Bit which is also located nearby and accepts scarves. I have had many family members in the military, including my son, and I am happy to be able to do something for the soldiers who put their lives on the line for us. Knit Your Bit gives a bit of a thank you to those soldiers. They accept any pattern, any color so it’s very easy to participate. Most of the vets are men so colors tend to lean in that direction.
I also like to be sure my work makes its way to the people for whom it was intended. With that in mind, I am cautious about sending to people I don’t know. I have known Sandy Holladay for many years and have no qualms about sending items to her for The Bridge and Beyond Project, which helps the homeless. She accepts many different items including scarves, mittens, and socks. She does amazing things with donated squares, putting together afghans which are then given to one of several local missions. Each day I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, clean clothes, and food to eat. It’s a shame there are so many who don’t have these basic needs met.
Heartmade Blessings has been around quite a number of years. They accept 12” squares which are put together into comfortghans. Several people I know personally have benefited from this effort. (UC comment: I’m actually working on several squares right now to donate to Heartmade Blessings as part of the Crochetlist March charity challenge.)
Crafting for a Cause is a wonderful group that supports our Native Americans. Most of the items made are sent directly to the reservation so you can be sure they are getting where they are needed.
In addition to official organizations, I like to donate where I can locally. As time goes on, postage costs for mailing packages has gone up so anything I can deliver is a plus.
That said, I occasionally like to send to SIBOL, way across the pond from me. I just love to go to Sue’s blog and Flickr page and see all the beautiful things. Everything is so artfully shown. She accepts 6” squares which are joined into lapghans for nursing homes in her area. Her challenges are fun too!
UC: You are a CGOA Master of Advanced Crochet Stitches and Techniques and a CYC Certified Crochet Teacher. Tell us why you decided to pursue these certifications and how/if they’ve been helpful to you.
Sandie: I am going to share with you my REAL reason for taking these courses. Shhhh. I never think my work is good enough and I thought that if I took these courses someone else could tell me if I was doing things correctly and, if not, I could learn the proper way. Having the certificates does not mean that I am a wonderful crocheter, but it does mean, to me, that I’ve run the course and persevered to complete it successfully. I may have a tiny bit more confidence than I had before since I did pass the courses.
I also thought that having the certificate would give a bit more weight to my qualifications as an instructor if I decided to teach community education classes or even paid classes through a craft store. (UC comment: I am also a CYC Certified Crochet Instructor and Teacher, and will actually be attending classes this weekend to become a CYC Certified Knitting Instructor and Teacher. For more discussion on the pros and cons of certification, see this post.)
The two courses are very different. I did learn some new techniques through my work on both courses, particularly the CGOA course because it covered more of a variety – like hairpin lace, which I’d not done a lot of before.
I find that every step you take is one step closer to your goal. You mentioned knitting. I’ve been trying to learn to knit for many years. I can cast on and I actually can knit, but if I drop a stitch, that is it for me. However, every time I try I get a little bit further in my understanding. It is the same with crochet. When I did the CGOA course, I did not work much with thread and I had to complete a filet thread project with thread, which I did successfully. I did not pick it up again until recently, but those things I learned at that point have come back to me and I find I just love filet!
I don’t know if the certificates mean anything to those who look at my work. I think your work really has to speak for itself. When I pick up a magazine or look online at a pattern I may purchase, I don’t know if that person has a certificate or not. I just like the pattern, the colors, and the way it was photographed, perhaps the stitches used or the yarn. I think taking the course was for me more than anything.
I would dearly love to take Pauline Turner’s course. I understand it is difficult and I think if I passed that one I would really feel like a crochet master.