Today is Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving. I’m sharing some of my favorite crochet and knitting related charity links today in honor of this event, which encourages us to put aside the shopping for a moment during the holiday season. I hope this roundup with inspire you to share your talent (or money!) with charities that are important to you.
If you’re looking for a crochet-a-long, Sunset Family Living is hosting the annual 12 Days of Christmas Charity Challenge (also known as the NICU charity challenge). She is challenging people to crochet 12 hats for preemies in their local neonatal intensive care unit. Last year, over 26,000 (!) hats were donated as part of the challenge, which runs through January 6, 2015. 20 crochet designers have donated hat patterns, and if you’d like to sign up to participate, you can read more about the project here.
Some designers sell specific patterns to raise funds for a favorite charity. Some of my favorites are the Mitered Cross Blanket (knitting) by Kay Gardiner. All proceeds from the sale of this pattern are donated to Mercy Corps, an international emergency response/disaster relief organization.
I also donate pet blankets in the sizes suggested by the Snuggles Project. (I interviewed Deborah Green from Bideawee about blanket donations here, if you’d like to hear how local shelters use these blankets.) The website allows you to search for a local pet charity that accepts handmade blankets. The Snuggles Project is a program of Hugs for Homeless Animals.
Another organization that accepts handmade goodies is Project Linus. Their mission is to “provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer ‘blanketeers.'”You can find out more about donating a crocheted or knit (or sewn) blanket to a local chapter, contributing funds to help defray shipping costs or volunteering on their website.
If donating an entire blanket is out of your crochet comfort zone, Warm Up America is another charity that distributes blankets and accessories to a variety of social services agencies. You can send a blanket square, or accessories such as hats or scarves to them for distribution. The Kitty Cap by Bella Crochet is a great free crochet pattern for making children’s hats for charity.
You might also be interested in the Red Scarf Project from Foster Care to Success. Each year, they coordinate the delivery of Valentine’s Day care packages, including handmade scarves, to young adults who have aged out of foster care as they experience life on their own at college. You can learn more about this charity in the current issue of Crochetvolutionhere. There are also two great free crochet patterns in this issue, Big Red and Vino Scarf, that would make great projects for the Red Scarf Project. You can also try some of Kim Guzman’s many great free winter patterns. (I interviewed Kim here.) Two of my favorites that would be perfect for the Red Scarf Project are the Reversible Pinstripe Scarf (double-ended crochet) or the Twisted Cable Scarf.
What are your favorite charities to share your crochet and knitting with?
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’ve recently been hit by an attack of the granny square. Perhaps (finally!) finishing the granny square blanket for my sister has reminded me of my tremendous love for grannies and of blanket-making. In any event, since last week I’ve dug through my stash to work on several granny square projects for charity.
I revived this long-term charity blanket project on Saturday afternoon by adding some length to one strip and joining the two rows together.
(You can find a list of patterns I used for these squares in this post.)
I’ve also finished seven individual grannies, but I’ll save those details for Friday :).
Besides the grannies, I’m working on some other scrappy projects which will eventually turn into pet blankets to donate to Bideawee. I’m glad to finally be spending time working on my charity and stashbusting goals. I dream of the day when another plastic tub of yarn will be used up, but there are a lot of granny squares and pet blankets between today and that day.
I finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest in the nick of time last Wednesday, by staying up reading until about 1 a.m. The book was removed from my Kindle by the library before I woke up for work that morning. You can check out my review on Goodreads.
On a related note, I’ve been thinking about doing a 365 project (taking and posting pictures every day). This is to encourage me to use my camera more frequently and to, of course, improve my photography skills. Has anyone done one of these before? If you have, I’d love to hear your suggestions about where you posted your photos. Did you use a blog, Flickr, 365 Project, or another site? I should mention that I’m sort of cheap, which is why I haven’t just plunked down the twenty-five bucks for a Flickr Pro account, and am instead asking you all for free advice :).
Tanis is an accomplished knitwear designer. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and was the former Yarn Editor at Soho Publishing. Like many yarn crafters, she shares her love of the craft through her volunteerism, and teaches knitting at a women’s shelter and also donates Snuggles to pet shelters. She can be found at her website or her Ravelry designer page. All photographs are used with Tanis’s permission, and credited appropriately below.
Underground Crafter (UC): How did you first learn to knit?
Tanis: My mother taught me when I was 8 years old with the help of a family friend. Both my grandmothers were knitters and crocheters. I can’t wait to get knitting needles in my son’s hands! I think everyone should knit and am a big believer in knitting being taught in schools. I’d love to see it taught in every single school in America. It teaches concentration, basic math, self confidence, a sense of accomplishment, color skills, and the simple act of being able to provide for yourself. If you’re cold, make yourself a hat! (UC comment: This is so true! I’m always impressed when people tell me they learned knitting and crocheting at school “back home” before coming to the U.S. – and they all seem to have a better understanding of math than our students here!) People are too plugged in nowadays. We need to break that cycle with the new generation and knitting could be instrumental in that.
UC: What inspired you to start designing?
Tanis: I had always designed my own mittens, hats, and scarves. I was in a serious mitten phase for many years and pretty much anyone I knew got a pair at some point. I started looking for certain things in stores and could never find exactly what I wanted. That led me to start designing, but I didn’t get serious about it or have the confidence until I worked at Vogue Knitting to try designing beyond accessories. Seeing my first sweater design published was a thrill. I still get a tingle of excitement when I open a magazine or book and see something I designed and knit on the page.
UC: Where do you generally find your creative inspiration?
Tanis: Everywhere! There are so many museums where we live in Washington, D.C., and my mom and I spent so many weekends at the art museum growing up. Looking in magazines, reading books, seeing something on the street, in a dream… Inspiration is all over, you just have to keep your eyes open.
Tanis: I had worked on so many books for other people while working at Soho Publishing. Being in charge and working on every single aspect where it was all on me was interesting. I wrote the entire thing on my kitchen table and at a few local coffee shops and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and last thing before I went to sleep. It was so much writing, talking on the phone with the yarn companies, emailing, fact checking, photo gathering, and patience.
My husband is a green mechanical engineer and he was a big inspiration. When we first started dating he changed all of my lightbulbs to energy efficient (long before it was trendy), investigated my recycling, and opened my eyes to living a more enviormentally-friendly lifestyle. Getting a bunch of designers together to design for this book who understood what it was I was trying to convey was a tough process, and I think the end result speaks for itself. The designs are beautiful and I am so proud of everyone who contributed.
My soul is in this book and I hope people love it as much as I enjoyed making it.
UC: You have held many roles in the yarn industry, including working as a designer, editor, and now author. What advice do you have for aspiring needlearts professionals?
Tanis: Never give up. Designs get rejected all the time but it’s not necessarily because the design was bad. It may not have fit into the issue or been what they were looking for that time around. Keep trying and keep designing. Don’t be married to a certain idea. I’ve seen people submit the same design over and over again because they loved it so much but it wasn’t what the magazine was looking for. Self publish it on Ravelry, get it out of your system and start again. Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before being published! Where would we be without Harry Potter? That’s a fantastic example of determination and not giving up.
UC: What are your favorite knitting books in your collection (besides your own, of course)?
Tanis: I have so many knitting books. When another one comes in the mail, my husband always asks “do you really need another knitting book?” The answer is YES! I especially love older knitting books that are very straightforward. There are no bells and whistles, just the knitting. But on the other hand, I love glossy, full-color, beautiful books also. It’s interesting to have books from the Victorian era that are falling apart next to the most popular of today sitting side by side on my shelf. I’m a big fan of historical knitting books because I think it’s so important to know the history of a craft if you love it, especially if you do it as a career.
UC: What are your favorite types of yarn to work with?
Tanis: I’m an equal opportunity fiber lover. I love cotton, which many people don’t like knitting with, but a nice springy wool, a soft alpaca, a beautiful hand dye… I love it all! I think you should try every fiber at least once. Sometimes I’m surprised at how much I’ll love a yarn that I may have been unsure about.
Thanks, Tanis, for taking time out for the interview!
The concept of Tanis’s book is great. The target audience is confident knitters in the United States who are environmentally conscious and/or interested in knowing more about how the yarns they love are produced. Tanis encourages you to learn about where your yarn comes from, and introduces the reader to U.S. based companies who produce yarn in an eco-friendly manner. By promoting these companies, Tanis aims to encourage us to be more environmentally conscious consumers, who buy products locally to reduce the carbon impact from transportation. To this end, the book is arranged regionally, and includes a profile of twenty-eight yarn companies. Each company’s profile is followed by a pattern using one or more of its yarns.
What I like about this book:
As someone who has always live in an inner-city, and who occasionally fantasizes about living on farm, producing my own super awesome yarn, I was thrilled to read about people who’ve actually lived this dream.
The stories of the different companies are really interesting. (Full disclosure: I find entrepreneurs and their stories interesting – if you don’t, this could bore you to tears.)
It was helpful to read the business philosophies of the different companies and to know more about their products. I learned a lot about the philosophy behind some of my favorite yearns.
I enjoyed learning about new yarns, and especially about those produced by small, independent yarn companies. The profiles feel more intimate than reading about the yarn company on a website – almost like being introduced by a friend.
The resources section in the back includes information about knitting notions made in the U.S., as well as information about the yarn companies profiles in the book.
The book is graphically attractive and has excellent photographs. It definitely qualifies as “eye candy.”
Unlike many books, which have no defined target audience and include beginner tutorials along with advanced patterns, this book aims squarely at the experienced knitter. Two patterns are done in crochet, and the rest are in knit. About half of the projects are advanced difficulty, with the rest being mostly intermediate. There is one easy pattern.
There is a broad range of projects by many different designers.
Like some works of conceptual art, the book doesn’t come together exactly as you would imagine based on hearing about the concept. For example:
After Tanis convinces us in the opening pages about all of the benefits of buying local to reduce environmental impact, the back cover flap proudly declares that the book was manufactured in China. It is hard to believe that Sixth & Spring couldn’t find a location in the Western hemisphere to publish this book, especially given the subject matter.
It is wonderful to see a book with so many different designers represented. However, I’m not sure that any one knitter would actually be interested in making this diversity of patterns. There are baby/child garments, men’s and women’s clothing, all manner of accessories, a pair of socks, and a sprinkling of home decor – in quite a few different styles and using a range of techniques. The book doesn’t look as cohesive as most books with a limited range of designers or a project theme. I think many people look for themes in their books – either a project type (e.g., socks) or emphasis on a certain technique (e.g., cables), so this aspect of the book may limit its appeal.
While the back cover declares “30+ Gorgeous Knits!,” I keep counting and only get 30 projects. I actually think 30 projects is plenty for a book of this price – but since the back cover has me thinking there are more projects, it seems like something is missing.
I can’t help but wonder why the companies with only 1 yarn produced in the U.S. are included (though their stories are just as interesting as the rest).
I don’t knit nearly as much as I crochet, and if you read the blog regularly, you know that I don’t tend to follow patterns, so I’m not in the target audience of this book. However, it does stand on its own as an introduction to some of the small, independent yarn companies in the U.S. I think an environmentally conscious knitter who likes at least five of these patterns would be quite happy with the book. (And it would be easy to find 5 patterns you like, since the patterns on the whole are really great and represent a variety of techniques and styles.) If you are not persuaded by Tanis’s case for buying local, eco-friendly yarns, you may still be swayed by the 30ish designs included in the book. I do think you are likely to rate the book higher if you are interested in the environmental issues Tanis presents, or prefer to shop local for other reasons. I would rate the book as a 4 out of 5 stars for the experienced, eco-conscious knitter. It is an attractive exploration of diverse projects with interesting, well written tales of independent yarn companies. This is not a book for a beginner knitter, and will probably have limited appeal to eco-friendly knitters outside of the U.S., or knitters who aren’t particularly concerned with how their yarn is produced or its impact on the environment.
Full disclosure: A free review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Although I accept free books for review, I do not accept additional compensation from the publisher, nor do I guarantee a positive review. My reviews are based entirely on my honest opinions. This also post contains affiliate links. You can read my affiliate and review disclosures here.
I’m giving away my review copy of Knit Local: Celebrating America’s Homegrown Yarns, courtesy of Sixth & Spring. In the spirit of the book, this giveaway is only available to those with U.S. mailing addresses. (Don’t worry, my international peeps – I have another giveaway coming up for you soon!)
To find more blogs participating in Blogtoberfest 2011, visit Tinnie Girl. For Blogtoberfest 2011 giveaways, visit Curly Pops.
Happy Friday everyone! I’ve been thinking for a while about how to celebrate I Love Yarn Day, since I first read about it on the Craft Yarn Council website. The CYC has several suggestions about what to do to celebrate (and several projects from famous designers, too!).
My post for today is a celebration of my favorite yarns and also about yarncrafting for charity. If you have been crocheting or knitting for any amount of time, you have probably found that we yarncrafters are a generous lot. I even have some Finished Objects to share, in the form of charity crochet projects.
Like most of the yarns on my list, I discovered this super soft yarn in my LYS, Knitty City. As the name implies, Cascade Eco Duo is an eco-friendly yarn made of undyed baby alpaca (70%) and undyed Merino wool (30%). Since it is undyed, it is offered in a relatively limited range of colors (mostly browns, blacks, whites – very gender neutral) and it is marled. The softness is incredible and it is really nice to work with. There is a kind of self-striping effect with most of the colors. The one drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable, and since I hate handwashing, I only use this yarn for small accessories.
Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love
This is my favorite big box store yarn. Alpaca Love is also a wool (80%) and alpaca (20%) blend. I love the feel of the yarn – a great combination of softness with firmness. It comes in some very fun coordinated colors. This yarn is very affordable (especially when purchased at Michaels using a coupon!). The drawbacks for me are the handwashing issue again, and the limited color range. I usually get around the handwashing issue by felting projects made with this yarn :).
Dream in Color Classy
Dream in Color Classy is another great yarn that I first tried out at Knitty City. This yarn has recently made several appearances on the blog (in my crocodile stitch project and my yarn haul post). Classy is a 100% superwash Merino wool yarn that is spun and hand dyed in the U.S. The colors are variegated and are really fabulous. The only drawback here for me is the cost, which means that I have to save it for slightly more special occasions. At least there are 250 yards in each skein, which makes me feel a little less guilty when splurging!
Patons Classic Wool
Patons Classic Wool is another big box store yarn. It is 100% wool and it is available in a great variety of colors, including both solids and ombres. (A few colors are also available as tweeds.) The solids have 210 yards in each skein and are reasonably priced. It isn’t the softest wool I’ve felt, but it isn’t scratchy, either. It is a great, firm, workhorse yarn which doesn’t split. The only real drawback for me is that it isn’t machine washable.
Spud and Chloe Sweater
Sweater is probably the yarn in this group that I’ve worked with the most. It is a blend of 55% superwash wool and 45% organic cotton. I also found it at Knitty City 🙂 about a year ago. I first picked up a skein of Turtle for a design submission which wasn’t accepted. I loved the yarn so much that I submitted two more designs with it, which were both accepted. The first was my Sunshine Blanket, published in the August, 2011 issue of Inside Crochet. I am also in the middle of a top secret project using these colors for Cooperative Press‘s Fresh Designs Crochet (Kids) book, which should be published in 2012. I honestly can’t think of any drawbacks to this yarn: the colors are great, it is machine washable, and it feels nice :).
You may have noticed that all of these yarns are worsted weight – yes, I am one of those American yarncrafters that prefers a heavier weight yarn! You may have also noticed that all of these yarns are made with natural fibers. I am by no means a “yarn snob” – I work with Red Heart Super Saver, too. But recently, I have really tried to limit my purchasing of acrylic yarn. I just don’t feel comfortable buying a yarn made from crude oil anymore. This is my own personal choice as part of changes I’ve made in my life to be more environmentally conscious. On the other hand, I can’t just let the existing acrylic yarn in my stash go to waste (that’s not too eco-friendly either), and so that is where some of my charity crafting and experiments with freeform crochet come into play.
One great way to use up your stash while finding a home for some of your creations is through charity crafting. I especially like to make items for infants and pets (because they are fast and cute, and because my very own special cat was adopted from the Humane Society).
I was inspired by the phrase “Think globally. Act locally.” and decided to make up a list of local NYC charities that accept handmade donations. I checked in with all of these organizations, and the list is current as of October, 2011.
ASPCA, the first humane organization in the Western hemisphere, has a wishlist of donated items for their Manhattan adoption center which includes handmade bedding or toys. Items can be dropped off during regular adoption hours.
Bideawee, the oldest no-kill animal humane organization in the U.S., welcomes Snuggles in any size for cats and dogs in its adoption center. These can be delivered in person, or mailed to the attention of Lauren Bonanno at the Manhattan location.
S.A.V.E., a pet rescue organization in Queens, is looking for small or medium sized bedding. Email the organization at savepetNY@aol.com to arrange pick up.
Knits for Infants is looking for hats, booties, sweaters, and blankets in soft, machine washable yarns for newborns and infants being treated at the North Central Bronx Hospital. Having worked in the health care industry in the Bronx for years, I can say that families served by this hospital would really benefit from the donations. They also accept yarn donations (no novelty yarns or “scratchy” yarns like Red Heart Super Saver, please).
Today, I’m showing off some of the projects that I’m donating to charity for I Love Yarn Day.
My post yesterday was a reflection on my craft goals for the year, and I’m thinking that when I update them, I will add some charity crafting goals. I used to donate a lot of projects to charity, and I would like to make more crocheted donations in the coming months.
For more finished objects, don’t forget to stop by Tami’s Amis!