2012 Year in Review: Charity projects and crafting for a cause

This year, I donated more projects and patterns to charity (and causes) than I have for quite a long time.

I started off 2012 by making 6″ granny squares.  I sent off 40 to Binky Patrol in May as part of the Crochetlist charity challenge.

26 6″ granny squares.

In June, I hosted the charity challenge for Crochetlist on behalf of Bideawee‘s Manhattan Adoption Center.  I created a pattern e-book, 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets, and I donate all of the profits from its sale to animal welfare organizations.  So far, I’ve raised over $180 for Bideawee and the Humane Society of New York!

I also collected about 70 pet blankets for Bideawee.

In August, my very first knitting pattern was published in support of the 2013 Knotty Knitters for Autism calendar.  You can read my interview with Marsha Cunningham, the organizer, here.  (And calendars are still available for sale here.)

In the fall, I made two hats and also donated a scarf to the Hats 4 the Homeless drive hosted by Lion Brand Yarn Studio.

The Studio’s November window was all about crafting for charity.

This year, I made a strong effort to destash.  In addition to using up yarn for new charity projects, this also meant rummaging through my bins for existing projects and yarn to donate.  In September, I donated a bunch of yarn to the Roosevelt Yarnies and Knitters and Crocheters Care.

And in December, I mailed off 6 hats, 5 scarves, and 2 cowls I crocheted in years gone by to the Oyate Teca Project, a charity I found through the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation.  I also included this wool scarf I made in 2012.

I sent out a very big bear I crocheted in 2008 to a drive for the children of Newtown, CT that I read about on FreshStitches.

I’m not sure why I crocheted an enormous bear (other than because I wanted to try out the pattern at the time), but I’m hopeful that he’s found a better home than squished into a plastic bin in my apartment.

I also packed up 60 (!) granny squares to send to Afghan Squares for Pine Ridge.  These included the charity squares I made as part of the second Year of Projects and a bunch of squares I found hiding in a yarn bin during the summer.  I will mail these out by the end of the week.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up this much charity crafting next year (especially since a many of my donations were actually crocheted years ago), but I’m glad I was able to help out this much in 2012.

I also started a Pinterest board of charities that accept handmade donations, in case you are looking for places to donate.

Do you have a favorite crochet or knit charity or charity project?

Year of Projects, Year 2: My thoughts on continuing in YOP

You may have noticed I haven’t posted a Year of Projects update for the last two weeks.  I have been following along with my favorite YOP bloggers, but I think I’m taking a break from the Year of Projects for a while.

I say “I think” because this has been something I’ve debated about for weeks.  I’ve actually previously written posts about this and then never published them.  I love participating in the Year of Projects because it is a great crafting community, and I’ve “met” some of my favorite bloggers this way.  Last year, my YOP goal list was tied to one amazing book, and I felt really compelled to work through it as a way of learning new crochet techniques and also of sharing with the world some of the amazing things crochet can do.

This year, I tried a slightly different approach.  I set up a list of goals that included my crafty aspirations for learning new skills.  I added some projects that I wanted to be accountable for completing but where I might need some community support to help me stay on track.  In some ways, having a list that has so many different types of things on it has made it harder to choose what to work on next.  Yes, I know I can sit back and reform my list at any time but I’m not sure that is what I want to do right now.

You see, some things have changed in my life since I joined this year’s YOP.  I’ve been given some more opportunities to publish my patterns, and for the most part, I’m not able to share anything about those projects until publication.  This means that I’m working on more and more projects that I can’t share with my readers while simultaneously having less and less time for projects on my list.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about three blog posts lately:

  • this one from Crochet Concupiscence describing why she isn’t participating in the Year of Projects for 2012-2013,
  • this one by Thistlewood Farm asking bloggers to consider what they want their blog to be when it grows up (which I originally discovered through a post from Project: Stash), and
  • this one that I wrote back in back in January about my fear of becoming over-memed.

I know I don’t want my blog to be a place of obligation and crankiness, nor a place of feeling like I don’t live up to (my own) expectations about completing goals.  I have a lot of ideas about the direction I’d like my blog to take in the future, but I also have to be realistic about the amount of time I have left after accounting for my full-time and part-time jobs, attempts to have a personal life, etc.  The solution that seemed the best for me right now is to step away from participating in YOP until I have time to work on specific projects and I feel energized about posting about them!

For more YOP updates, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

Year of Projects, Year 2: A quickie

This post contains affiliate links.I

‘m sharing a quickie post today because I’m running out to meet my mom and join the lines of New York City shoppers preparing for Hurricane Sandy.  Public schools are closed tomorrow, but I haven’t heard about the colleges yet, so I may or may not be going in to work.  I hope everyone in the storm’s path remains safe over the next few days.

On a lighter note, I did make one charity square this morning.

This is the Dog Rose from Granny Squares: Over 25 Creative Ways to Crochet the Classic Pattern by Stephanie Gohr, Melanie Sturm, and Barbara Wilder.  (I’ll be reviewing this book soon, by the way.)  I haven’t woven in the ends because many of the charities ask that you don’t – it seems that some people just “knot and cut” and to make sure your ends are woven in sturdily, the charities ask you to leave the yarn tails hanging.  It doesn’t make for a neat photo, though.

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Bl0g-a-long on Ravelry.

 

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and  CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Year of Projects, Year 2: Spinning, Take 1

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I had a bit of a cliffhanger in my last Year of Projects update (you might have missed it since it was hidden between pictures of yarn): would I be able to take the Basic Dropspindling class at the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival? It turns out that there was room for me.  But, um…  well, you can be the judge.

Is that what you call handspun?

Clearly, I have a long way to go before I can actually spin some yarn that anyone (myself included) would ever use.  While I did resist the urge to buy a stunningly beautiful hand made drop spindle from Hearthwise, I couldn’t stop myself from getting some super cool roving.  You know, for that day when I’m an accomplished spinner and stuff.

Yum.

So from here on out, I’ll be relying on these spinning teachers: Abby Franquemont (via Respect the Spindle) and Maggie Casey (via Start Spinning).

If these don’t help, there’s always Drucilla Pettibone‘s Craftsy class.  I think spinning is something I’ll need to set aside a fair amount of time for (since a 90 minute class was definitely not enough!).  That probably means that my next self-guided spinning lesson will take place over Thanksgiving weekend or the break from work between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This seems as good a time as any to share an update on my general YOP progress so far.

1) Crochet 52 granny squares for charity. I’m furthest along here.  I have 25 blocks finished (I made 26 but one was frogged).

2) Knit my first complete pair of socks.  It appears I’m not a sock person.  My socks have stalled since the end of the Ravellenic Games.

3) Make my mom a special bedspread for her milestone birthday.  I might need a little help here.  I already started working on these squares … and then I realized there’s a Tree of Life crochet pattern.  I started thinking maybe I should switch to a Tree of Life project?  What do you think?  (If it helps you decide, the yarn is a little more cream and less yellow than it appears in the picture.)

4) Learn to spin.  See above for update.

5) Design my own Bruges lace pattern. Done!  I released Visit to the Kantcentrum this week.  If you’ve never done Bruges lace crochet before, there is a photo tutorial inside.  As a thank you to all my YOP friends for your support, you can download it for free on Ravelry with coupon code BrugesYOP (or by following this link) through October 31.

Visit to the Kantcentrum, a Bruges lace crochet pattern with a photo tutorial for newbies.

6) Learn overlay crochet. No progress yet.

7) Create my own hairpin lace pattern.  No progress yet.

8 ) Try double knitting. No progress yet.

9) Try domino (modular) knitting. I’ve looked over the book, and even had a false start.  Perhaps I should make a charity domino square?

10) Make a small project inspired by Pop Knitting: Bold Motifs Using Color & Stitch.  No progress yet.

11) Learn knit entrelac. No progress yet.

12) Design a crochet lace shawl pattern or recipe for my DC 37 crochet class students.  As I’ve mentioned before, this is actually finished.  The design has even been tested and edited.  You’ll just have to wait until it is ready for release…

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.

Year of Projects, Year 2: North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival 2012

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I scheduled today’s post because I’m teaching at the fourth annual North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival.   I had a great time last year, so I decided to return this year.  I taught a class on Friday and I’ll be teaching another one today.

The festival is in Ridgewood, New Jersey and I can get there pretty easily with New Jersey Transit and a short walk.  I took off from work on Friday and headed to the festival with plans to arrive a little after noon.  I started a new project during the ride, using a motif pattern from Granny Square Crochet: 35 Contemporary Projects Using Traditional Techniques.  (If you haven’t already, you can read my interview with author Catherine Hirst here.)

I got a wee bit lost during the walk from the train (thank goodness for smartphones and Google Maps), so I only had a few minutes to set up before my first class.  My new project was immediately pressed into service as a coaster – after all, I didn’t want to destroy the table!

After the class, I took a trip around the first floor to check out all the vendors.  I’ve been fairly good about decreasing my stash as part of my efforts to Surmount the Stash this year, but I brought cash to the festival and a plan to purchase as many as 5 skeins of yarn.

Yep, I met the quota.

My first stop was Mimi’s Needlebasket.  I’ve been dreaming about the Chiaogoo Twist RED Lace interchangeables since I learned of their existence and my eyes were drawn instantly to the sets on the table.  Unfortunately, she only had the mini kits in stock, and I’d like to buy the whole set, so I went on to the next table, Leilani Arts.  While I was really intrigued by the recycled sari yarn, I’m a sucker for tweeds and there was some very soft Donegal tweed on the table.  I couldn’t decide on colors, so I vowed to return later.

My next stop was WendyClay Pottery.  There were some AMAZING buttons, but I couldn’t think of a project I would make so I decided not to buy anything.  (Perhaps today will be my day?)  And then I found Yarn Monkey Productions.  Angela and her friend were just about the friendliest people I’ve ever met vending at a festival.  I had a great chat with Angela and fell in love with many of her colorways.  She was very tolerant of my complete indecisiveness and offered some tips.  I eventually settled on these two lovely skeins of superwash wool.

Two skeins of Yarn Monkey Productions SuperSaki, in colorways Anastasia (top) and Aella (bottom).

The colors don’t appear accurately on my monitor, but you can get the general idea.  I’m thinking that the Aella will end up as an accessory for me and the Anastasia is a possible gift or blanket motif.  (I’ve been dreaming of a superwash wool blanket for myself – that will definitely be a 2013 or later project!)

I then had a little moment of amazement at the Hearthwise booth.  There were all kinds of stunning drop spindles, which immediately brought to mind my YOP goal of learning to use a drop spindle.  I had a chance to chat with Jessica Suiter, the instructor teaching Basic Dropspindling at the festival, and it seems like she might have an extra spot for me in the class on Sunday (fingers crossed!).

Finally, I returned to Leilani Arts.  I decided to go with a charcoal and dark red combination.  I imagine this eventually turning into a shawl or wrap for me.

Imported Studio Donegal Soft (Merino) Donegal in Charcoal and Dark Red.

Even though I bought 5 skeins of yarn, I didn’t use my whole budget.  I still have $19 to spend, so perhaps there are some buttons in my future…

For more Year of Projects posts, visit Come Blog-a-long on Ravelry.

I’m  blogging daily throughout October.  Visit I Saw You Dancing for more Blogtoberfest bloggers and CurlyPops for Blogtoberfest giveaways.  Search #blogtoberfest12 on Twitter.