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?

2012 Year in Review: Exploring Ravelry

Although I’ve been a Ravelry member since December, 2007, I barely used it until 2011.  Last year, I finally started to browse Ravelry regularly for pattern searches and began to participate in several groups.  My Rav goal for 2012 was to use the notebook to track all of my projects.

Adding projects (and even taking pictures of them) eventually became like second nature for me.  Looking through my notebook, I discovered that I completed over 160 projects in 2012.  Before you congratulate me for being the most prolific crocheter/knitter in America, let me mention that number includes many, many small projects (like an individual granny square for charity).

I actually think tracking my projects helped me to complete more (if only because seeing all of those WIPs can be distressing), and it definitely encouraged me to take more pictures!  If you don’t already track your projects on Ravelry, I encourage you to start!

These are my 5 favorite completed 2012 projects using other designers’ patterns:

My first “magic loop” project – a hat for my dad.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: A Hat Fit for a Fella by Shana Kreikemeier.

 

My first Bruges lace project – a scarf for one of my best friends.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Sparkling Wave Scarf by Tatyana Mirer.

 

 

Yoga socks for my mom.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Pilates Peds (Crochet Yoga Socks) by Pam Daley.

 

 

My first knit shawl (made during and after Hurricane Sandy).
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Terribly Simple by Caitlin ffrench.

 

 

Super cute crochet slippers, made as a swap gifty.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: Granny Slippers by Bernat designer.

 

 

And these are my 5 favorite completed 2012 projects using my own patterns:

The All Weather Cowl, which I’ve been wearing a lot lately.
Ravelry project page.  Free pattern available here.

 

 

The Sandworm’s Journey Beanie, my first knitting design, and a gift for my friend, JP.
Ravelry project page.  Free pattern available here.

By the way, JP proved herself very knitworthy by sending this email after opening her hat (which I was worried might be too small for her):

I love my new hat! It is perfect in every way!!!!! I love the color, cables, shape, size, etc…. PERFECT!!!!!

My very first infinity scarf/cowl.  Now I finally understand why everyone wears these – so warm!
Ravelry project page.  Pattern available for sale here.

 

 

My first Bruges lace design.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern available for sale here.

 

This hat is way cuter with the pom pom added.
Ravelry project page.  Free pattern available here.

 

 

And this last project, a combo of my own layout with the pattern of another designer…

The never ending New Orleans Saints themed double Irish Chain granny square bedspread for my little sister.
Ravelry project page.  Pattern: I used my own layout, but my granny square was a four round version of the Basic Granny Square by Julie A. Bolduc.

On a related note, I started using Ravelry’s stash feature after reading this great post by FreshStitches.  I definitely don’t have all of my stash listed, but it has helped me to sell some stash and also to keep track of my stashbusting efforts this year.

What’s your favorite Ravelry feature?

FO Friday: My first ever knitting pattern and an interview with Marsha Cunningham

I’m really excited to unveil my very first finished knitting pattern, the Sandworm’s Journey Beanie, today.  The pattern is part of a collection for charity to support the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, so I thought it would be fitting to share an interview with Marsha Cunningham, the founder of the Knotty Knitters for Autism.  I’ll start with my interview and then share more details about the pattern.

The Knotty Knitters calendar features women of all ages posing tastefully au naturale with some of their handmade creations.  You can find the Knotty Knitters for Autism online on Facebook and Ravelry.  Marsha can be found on Ravelry as marshaknits or through her Etsy shop.

The Interview

Ms. September (Marsha Cunningham) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar.

Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first get started knitting?

Marsha: I got started knitting when I took a two week class at Rhodes Department Store in Tacoma,WA.  I was eleven years old.  My girlfriend was taking the class so my sister and I camped on.  I am the only one who continued and took it to the next level.

After that, there was no stopping me.  My next project was a V-neck sweater and then socks for my dad.  I didn’t know much about gauge then. I knit the socks on a #4 needle.  My dad wore them once, but they were too thick for his shoes.  They were really nice with cables.  I took to wearing them as sleep socks from the time I was about 13 to my second year of marriage when my husband asked me to quit wearing them to bed.  LOL.

 

Ms. May (Barbara Weber) and Fluffy from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, wearing Quincy by Jared Flood in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick.

UC: You’re an active member of a local knitting group in Tacoma.  What is it like to be involved with a knitting group, and what suggestions do you have for people who are considering joining one?

Marsha: I belong to Tacoma Knitters and we meet every Wednesday from 2:30-4:00pm at Fibers, ETC.  It is an informal group.  We help out where necessary, show our projects, etc. We have lots of fun and lots of laughs.

We have one rule….no religion or politics!  (UC comment: I think this rule explains why you have lots of fun and laughs!)

 

The ladies of March (Liz Tekus, owner of Fine Points Yarn; Becca Smith, owner of bagsmith.com; and Susan Thompson, employee at both companies) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, wrapped in a Big Stitch afghan.

UC: What is the inspiration behind the original Knotty Knitters for Autism calendar?

Marsha: My grandchildren, Mollee May and Josef Andrew, fraternal twins aged 9 were the inspiration for the calendar.  They both have autism. Mollee is mainstreamed in school as of last year at Skyline and Josef goes to a special class at Franklin elementary.  Mollee and Josef both manifest their symptoms differently.  Mollee still has “meltdowns” and a little echolalia (repeating words and sentences).  Josef does not speak although he is trying very hard.  He spins pieces of paper incessantly.  Both children tend to wander off if not watched continuously.

 

Ms. June (Zoe Weber) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, wearing crocheted granny square shorts.

UC: Tell us about the process of finding designers and models to work with you for this year’s calendar.

Marsha: It was a little difficult find models for the calendar.  (UC comment: It takes a brave knitter or crocheter to bare all for charity!)  Some people say they will and then are no shows.  So this year, I planned for some extras and had just right amount.  The one requirement is that they be able to knit.  We met Becca Smith of the Bagsmith.com at STITCHES last year.  She brought 3 models with her.  Three are returning models, 1 is the granddaughter of another model, 1 is from the Puyallup Knitting Guild, and 2 are from Ravelry.

Designers were a whole lot easier to find.  I had met some on various knitting trips I had been on, some responded to the article in Yarn Market News, and some I just asked.  (UC comment: You can download the patterns donated to the Knotty Knitters here.)

 

 

Ms. October (Ola Leonard Kersely) from the Knotty Knitters 2013 calendar, modeling an afghan she made to donate for auction.

UC: How can people help support the project?

Marsha: You can help support the project by purchasing a calendar and/or by purchasing raffle tickets for the afghan that Ms. October is wearing and that she knit.  (UC comment: You can purchase the pattern here for $20 + $5 shipping.  To purchase raffle tickets, which are $1 each or $5 for a book of six, email Marsha at marsha AT marshasells DOT com.  The drawing is scheduled for December 15, 2012.)

 

UC: What are your have any favorite crafty website/blogs to visit for knitting inspiration?

Marsha: I visit Ravelry every morning to view the new knit patterns and I get lots of emails from yarn stores.  I also subscribe to Vogue Knitting, Knit Simple, and Rowan magazines.

 

Thanks so much for stopping by for an interview, Marsha!

 

The Pattern

I read about the Knotty Knitter’s project in Yarn Market News last year, and I immediately contacted Marsha about contributing a pattern.  At the time, I had no idea what this pattern would be.  Oh, and I had never written a knitting pattern ;).  Marsha was very flexible and allowed the designers complete creative freedom in creating a pattern.  Although this freedom was wonderful, I was overwhelmed by all the ideas I was thinking up in my mind and I didn’t start on the project for months.

But then, March rolled around, and Stacey at FreshStitches announced Knit and Crochet Design Week.  Designing is usually an isolated experience for me, so I decided to try my hand at designing with moral support.  The first version of this design was born.

From the beginning, the stitch pattern reminded me of the trail of a sandworm, the creatures who feature so prominently in the Dune series by Frank Herbert.  The yarn I was using was a rich blue, like the eyes of the Fremen and Paul Muad’Dib, and so I called the project Kwisatz Haderach.  Ultimately, I wasn’t very satisfied with the decrease pattern and I ended up ripping back the project since it didn’t have an intended recipient.

In April, during Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, I uncovered this wonderful orange yarn in my stash.

I was inspired to restart the design, and the orange yarn allowed me to maintain my Dune theme because it’s the same color as the desert planet of Arrakis.  I finished the sample at the end of May, and shared it with the world in early June.  Not only am I able to share the pattern to support a great cause, but I got to use up some stash and finish a gift from my holiday crafting list early.

The finished hat, from the back.

You can download the PDF pattern on Ravelry.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.

FO Friday: We now return to our regularly scheduled blog post

Last week, I had a technical problem on my blog and I didn’t get to share two finished projects that I’m pretty excited about.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m the sponsor for Crochetlist‘s June charity challenge.  I’m organizing a collection of pet blankets that will be donated to Bideawee for Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat month.  I’ve sponsored charity challenges on Crochetlist in the past, but this time I wanted to do something extra.  So back in April, I started swatching.  A lot.  My idea was to release an e-book including 30 crochet stitch patterns that work especially well for pet blankets.  (Just in case someone was moved to make one blanket each day during the month.)

Twenty-one wonderful Ravelers tested these patterns during April and May, and I was able to self-publish 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets on time.  I’m donating all of the profits (excluding the fees from Craftsy, Etsy, PayPal, and/or Ravelry) to Bideawee, and I’m happy to report that I’ve already raised more than I expected in the first week.  The e-book includes 20 crochet and 10 Tunisian crochet stitch patterns, which can, of course, be used for other types of projects.  If you like crochet stitch guides or are passionate about treating animals humanely, please check it out!

A selection of stitches included in 30 Purrfect Stitches for Pet Blankets.

My other finished project was actually a restart of the cabled knit hat I started designing in March during Knit and Crochet Design Week.

The original.

I wasn’t satisfied with the decreases on this version, so I decided to restart the design by making another version as an eventual holiday gift for my friend, JP, as part of my Holiday Stashdown Challenge.

I really like how this version came out.

My friend is really an “orange person,” so I think she will love it.

It was unseasonably warm (over 90 degrees) on the day I modeled this hat..

The pattern is just finishing up testing, and it will be included in a charity calendar.  It’s the first knitting pattern I’ve written, and I’m excited that my debut is supporting a great cause.

For more finished objects, visit Tami’s Amis.