Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crafting a Life: Crafting in Public

crossposted at BlogHer
With the weather warming up and days getting longer, we can anticipate more occasions to take our crafting outside and create in the great outdoors. Casual evenings of drinks on a patio with a simple stitching project in our lap, picnics in the park. Then there are organized public crafting events that occur each year:


Stitch N' Pitch will again be held in major and minor league stadiums around North America. If you've never heard of this event before...
Stitch N' Pitch brings together two wonderful traditions — Baseball and the NeedleArts. Come to a ball game and knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch and needlepoint. Sit among friends, family and colleagues and cheer on your favorite Baseball Team. Beginners, intermediate and experts are all welcome.
Stitchers who love baseball, knitters who don't have a clue about baseball, stitchers who love being together in a crowd, they all come out for local Stitch and Pitch games. What I love are the projects created to wear at the baseball park. Be sure to check out the photos that accompany the following blogs.

What bloggers wrote about last year:

Life in Cleveland
: Believe me when I say there were knitters everywhere. And nothing’s more fun than that!

Stitches of Heritage: For stitchers, it's a great night to grab your project and head to the stadium for a night of stitching & fellowship. And what a long night it was........ the game went into 14 (yes - fourteen) innings! I brought along a knitting project but the goodie bags were full of great cross stitch freebies too!

knitting daily:
I'm not much of a sports person (most of you have figured this out by now!). But I have gone with friends to sports events, because being with lots of people,watching men and women run around after small objects, eating junk food (I ADORE hot dogs), shouting yourself hoarse when someone makes a point(or a goal, or a home run) is really a lot of fun even if you have no clue what is
really going on.

However, baseball has been a special challenge to me. To the uninitiated (thatwould be me), the game is a
bit...well...slow. The first few baseballgames I went to, I was--I shall tell the truth, even if it makes the commenters explode at me--bored. The home runs were exciting, and the SMACK of the bat hitting the ball is a great sound when you're actually in the ballpark, but all that time in between...I kept thinking, "I
could be knitting. I wish I had brought my knitting." Those first few games, I would come home feeling as though hours of perfectly good knitting time had been wasted, because of course, I was too shy to bring my knitting to a sports event in a ballpark full of rabid fans.

Thank goodness those days of being too shy to bring my knitting out of the house areat an end.
Knitting has taken me many places I never expected to go, but none more unexpected than a baseball field. Yup, I went to Stitch 'n' Pitch Chicago last night. I said I wouldn't and I truly believed I wouldn't. But at the last minute there was ticket, and the weather was good, and there was the prospect of An Evening with Knitters. So I went.

You remember Eleanor Roosevelt's line about how you should do something every day that scares you? The game was my Scary Thing for yesterday.

A Year of Stitches: The best thing about Stitch 'N' Pitch night is that it brings together two things I love. Baseball and yarn.


In previous years, there has been a WWKIP day held the 2nd Saturday in June. This year, to make Knit in Public easier for all to schedule, the event is being held over the entire weekend.

World Wide Knit in Public Weekend allows for:
a specific day to get out of your house and go to a local event (with your knitting in tow) just for you and people like you. Who knows you might even bump into your neighbor! Consider this a spark, to ignite a fire; getting all of the closeted knitters out into fresh air.

WWKiP Day is unique, in that it's the largest knitter run event in the world. Each local event is put together by a volunteer or a group of volunteers. They each organize an event because they want to, not because they have to. They bring their own fresh ideas into planning where the event should be held, and what people would like to do.
What bloggers wrote about last year:

: it was rad to have so many public knitters, i mean most of us are not ashamed, or all of us are not ashamed to be knitters, and knit in public all the time without thinking about it. it was wonderful to be part of such a public display of unashamedness. for most i don't think it is poltical, but when you get a group together (there were about 60 of us there), it becomes political. si se puede!!!

Lorrie Knits And Sews: World Wide Knit in Public Day was also my daughter's wedding day. Yes I knit, when not busy celebrating.

Furry with Ruffles
:You would all be aware (if not, go out and slap yourselves soundly now please) of World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIP) on Saturday June 14th. Perth had a very satisfactory turnout due to my constant prodding I suspect as well as some great kindnesses on the part of the weather gods. Indeed it was so warm that sunburn was a serious risk for those of us who spent the large part of the day in residence.

Strings and Sealing Wax: I did manage to make it to our local WWKIP '08 event on Saturday June 14 with my Ravelry group. We did a great deal of chatting while knitting, as usual. We sat on the benches in the courtyard, shaded by the trees, listening to the splashing water and every now and then feeling a bit of the mist blown by the wind off the fountain. It was truly lovely.

Other crafters seek out opportunities to craft in public:

Whatever James: In Stitches:
Somehow the man cross stitching and the neck tattoo and wanting to relieve stress led to the conclusion that I had been in the klink. And that was emotional for me because how many people think the same thing and don't ask? I have been called many things by the uneducated and mostly unwashed masses. I've had trash thrown at me because they think a guy with an embroidery hoop can't start some shit.But as equally important are the conversations my working in public has started, the compliments and oohs and awwws I have gotten at my work, and the friends that I have made because of it.

My Love Is: My personal faves are knitting, crocheting or embroidering outside - easily transportable...... I love the feeling of calm that I get crafting outside with the sun on my face......

The City of Crochet:And last but not least, some crafting progress is being made! Lookee! I have 2 finshed dishcloths that flew off my hooks in no time at all, and the Crafting in Public shot...I pulled out my purse dishcloth and was working on that while having a beer and people watching at the Irish Pub next to the Bourse (Belgian Stock Exchange building)


Crafty Goat's Notes:

It's not that I don't enjoy crafty get-togethers. I love being around other creatives, watching their process and absorbing their conversations. But I just don't create well in that situation. Maybe it's performance anxiety. Maybe it's perfectionism. For whatever reason, though, I prefer to do my creating in my own comfy little craft room, where I can really dig into a project and do it just right.

So is this just me? I'm curious what the rest of you think of crafting in public...?

I'm curious, too. How do you feel about crafting in public?

Debra Roby blogs her creative life at A Stitch in Time and her journey to fitness at Weight for Deb.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fun Crafty Blogs Finds

Time again to visit some new-ish -or new to me- blogs rolling through the blogrolls.

Have you found the funny or slightly sad Craft Fail? It's the blog where you can be honest about a craft project you've done that just didn't work out right? Have a knitting nightmare-you can share it people who truly understand. Experimented with using food dye on clothing? Really, they'll understand. Founder Kim Werker even shared her first knitted sweater:
This is the first sweater I ever knit, clearly not to completion. Why not to completion? Because after I assembled the first sleeve and started on the second and then tried on the sweater, I discovered to my horror that the thing weighs as much as a knee-length coat and is hotter than Phoenix in August.
CraftLeftovers is described as Resourceful Crafting for Creative Folks. Posts are discussions, tutorials, and promised interviews. I was fascinated by a post on crochet done directly on a painting:
I’ve been overly fascinated by crochet lately and have started to use it more and more in my paintings. I’ve working on this particular piece and while I want the crochet to be flat across the painting I do not want a lot of tension on the sides of the painting (it’s on museum board and would warp badly over time). Starching seems to be the obvious answer. Well how will I do that when it’s crocheted directly to the painting? I don’t want to destroy/alter/contort the painting. And I also want to preserve the sense of the crochet organically growing out from the forms in the painting. Luckily there are many ways to starch a crocheted item and not all of them involve dipping and squeezing and pinning flat - although if possible that is the best way to go.
Monaluna is a fabric designer by trade. Her blog is a taste of gardening, cooking, crafting and design. In Hot off the Singer she shared a recently made tablecloth using fabric she'd designed.

Somewhere there's a mid-century home filled with babies and crafting. That home is the center of Kristena's Thimbly Things. She shared her score of patterns:
When I came home Friday and showed Evan my $4 worth of plunder, he laughed at me. I had somehow managed to get a Lizzie McGuire pattern and 3 Project Runway patterns. And Evan was quite certain this was related to my obsession with Project Runway.
Kim Guymon writes ScrapBizness about the business of scrap booking and paper crafts. Recently she wrote her cardinal rule of getting personal in business:
Never say anything that would emotionally wound you if it got thrown back in your face in a mocking or "mean girl" kind of way. That means, it's okay to talk about how lame your computer or gardening skills are. Or, how you don't like cats or can't stand pizza. If someone mocked you for those "qualities", who cares? But, what if you dump your soul about your fertility problems or weight issues? If people turned on you about those topics, it would cut like a knife and hurt very bad. There are plenty of people ready and willing to do that - especially on the internet where anonymity is acceptable.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Green Crafting

When you read the words "Green Crafts" what comes to mind? For me, a variety of craft activities and movements fight to be noticed first.There is:

The Wardrobe Refashionista, who take what's already in their closets -and on the racks at thrift stores- then cut, sew, design, dye, alter in some way to make a new wardrobe item.

The Guerrila crafter like Knitta who use scraps to create unconvention art pieces around the world.

Crafting a Green World that discuss using safer chemicals, organics, renewable items to make craft.

StashBusters (like our project here) that support using already purchased supplies instead of rushing to buy more. While this might be "green" in result, at the moment the impetus seems to be economic in nature, not inspired by concern for the planet.

Likely more different divisions.

Looking at these items, I'm not seeing much of a unifiying theme. Is "green" crafting concerned with saving the earth, saving our spirits or saving our wallets? Is it based on the resources we use or where we find them? Can it be forward looking?

These themes were recently discussed in one of Diane Gilleland's Crafty Podcasts: Crafting Green: What's It Mean? Gilleland prefers to consider the term "sustainable" instead of "green".

Examining the idea of sustainability, Gilleland first took the time to inventory her crafty supplies. Store like items together and make a list of what she already owns. Using this inventory list can be a jumping off spot for your crafty inspiration.. or assure you that acceptable substitutions do exist in your craft room.

My favorite of her suggestions? Examine the UFOs sitting in your room. Not those projects you are actively working on, but all those projects that you've realistically given up on. How many supplies do you have tied up in "never to be done" projects? Instead of torturing yourself with the reminder of these items, Gilleland suggests that you reclaim it - unstitching the sewn items to get back pieces; unknitting or uncrocheting to reclaim the yarns, undoing the beading to be able to now use those beads.

Hold a reclamation party with your crafty friends and maybe even swap some your now reclaimed supplies!

There are many links and ideas in the show notes. Make sure to check them out.

Listening to this podcast, I'm still struck that there isn't anything approaching a unifiying idea when it comes to "green crafting". The term I think is too broad and too all-encompassing for me to want to use anymore. Sustainable crafting, upcycled crafting, recycled crafting, stash busting, reclaimed materials, sustainable supplies, non-toxic supplies. These terms are all much more specific and understandable in use.

So although "green crafting" is a hot term, I will try to retire it from my conversations. Instead, I'll use the more descriptive term for whatever I'm trying to explain.

Other Readings:

After listening to this podcast, Rob Walker of Murketing reacted in Craft And Green.
All in all a very thoughtful discussion, and another example of why, when I talk to people about the book and they ask me what I’m keeping an eye on this year, I still say it’s this DIYism subculture.

In comments following the podcast notes, Betz White adds another thought on green crafting:
Something to add: Think about crafting items that encourage “green” habits, ie: sewing up a set of cloth napkins or reusable grocery totes.
Betz should know. She recently published a book called: Sewing Green.

And how about you? What does "green crafting" mean to you? How do you craft green?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gardening Q&A- Upside down Tomato Planters and Mulch

(crossposted at BlogHer)

Whenever I meet knew people and tell them I'm a gardener, they have questions. Wide ranging questions that vary depending upon that individual's interest and experience. Today's questions are a sampling of the wide-ranging variety of interests in growing.

1. What do you think of those upside-down hanging tomato systems?

Truth be told, I do not like them. The containers are rather small -maybe 10" round and a foot long- which means there is not a lot of soil in them. Tomatoes need lots of root space to flourish- that's why you plant them in 1/2 whiskey barrels or spaced 18" apart in a garden. These systems, the plants -it seems to me- will stunt the growth by the lack of root space.

The small size is needed to keep these containers from pulling off fascia boards if hung on your house. I still wonder can you hang these high enough to keep the plants off the ground and still be able to reach the top of the container to water? I'm short. I don't give myself much hope of this one.

Additionally, with such a small root space when the heat of summer comes, you will need to water these containers at least once a day, most likely twice. As good intentioned as many of us are, I can see days when this will not happen.

While searching for actual experience with these systems, I found greentxmama who provided 2 videos of her experience last summer with this system. Several of her commenters- and greentxmama herself- complained of very low yield.

In the suggested stream of this video was another showing how to adapt a 5 gallon bucket for a hanging system. While this would give you more soil for your plant; you would need very strong attachments to not lose the pot/siding under the weight of the bucket filled with damp soil and a fully grown plant. Still, if I were choose to grow upside plants, this is the method I would use. Yet I still think I would just plant the tomato upright and let it hang over the top of the plant.

2. Mulch? Tell Me Everything.

Mulch can be used to hold moisture in the soil, to cut down on weeds, and to improve the makeup -the tilthiness- of your soil. Because these are all important, we should all consider mulching our garden beds.

However, before laying down a cooling and protecting layer of mulch, please let your soil warm up. I always try to use a natural guide to planting - my favorite spring guide plant is the lilac. Usually when the lilac blooms the fear of killing night time frosts are over. The soil is awakening and ready to accept almost every plant that can grow over the summer. -yes there are exceptions in the deep south where they may take a break from growing during the hottest days of summer.

When -and if - lilacs bloom in your neighborhood, then start thinking about getting the mulch for your gardens.
Or check the local garden center to find the last frost-free date in your area. That is accurate so less romantic that watching for the lilacs.

Choosing the right mulch is determined first by the type of garden and second by your aesthic. A utilitarian garden such as vegetable garden can be mulched with straw, shredded paper or compost. These items will break down over the season and be dug into the soil to further decompose over the winter adding fresh nutrients to the soil.

More formal or decorative gardens can take a fine-textured such as cocoa hulls or shredded bark which only require a thin covering of 2-3 inches to do a fine job. Coarser mulches need a thicker layer to work -add a layer of newspaper under them to really protect the soil. These mulches often last more than one year before needing to be dug in and replaced.

This E-How video is a great basic on mulching:

How to Mulch a Garden -- powered by

Later Gardening Q&As will discuss fighting insects and pruning. What other questions do you have?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hot By BlogHer-week

I half-heartedly committed to the Hot By BlogHer plan. Yes, I'm admitting it was half-hearted. Other half-hearted commits have included NaBloPoMo. It takes long enough for me to commit to something - and make it part of my psyche - that I have no hope of succeeding in things when I'm not fully committed.

Yet I continue to try and convince myself that I can make improvements by making half-hearted commitments. Setting myself up for disappointment. Proving myself wrong (right?).

Last week I managed to meet the personal goals of HBB: practice random acts of kindness every single day. Ok. some of them were not so random. In the original context, random acts were the ones where you could not know the recipient and they would not know you. Hence the leaving coupons in the grocery store or paying tolls of cars behind you. You never knew who they were; they most they could know about you was maybe your car's make and license number.

Many of my acts this week were with people I know. Some were with people who at least might recognize my face. Only 1 was truly "random". But I'm counting them all.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How I Spent My Easter Sunday

How I spent my Easter Sunday.

We cut up a couple hard boiled eggs and hid the pieces around the yard. Then we let the dogs wander around and hunt for the pieces. This idea was not as clearly understood by the dogs as we thought it might be. Still...

I thought I filmed the whole thing, but I only got the last minute. All the rest was more of the same. Enjoy the video...

If you can't see the video embedded here, the link is: Katy & Jake's Easter Egg Hunt.
I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Craftivism. Craft+Activisim. Is Politics Really Part of the Mix?

(crossposted at BlogHer)
I first got wind of the Etsy kerfuffle on craftivism when Julie Finn posted about it on Crafting A Green World this weekend. An Etsy Team breaks apart over the very definition of the term? I was boggled. As Finn explained it:

The problem arose very recently when the team leadership, during a virtual meeting, just sort of mentioned, in the context of another discussion, that the Craftivism Team has a liberal political agenda.

Yep, a specific political agenda. And the leadership also seemed quite surprised to hear that a LOT of team members not only had no idea that the Craftivism Team was even supposed to be politically liberal, but that these members were themselves not politically liberal.

Indeed, we had some right-wing craftivists on our team. 

According to Wikipedia, craftivism is "a form of activism, typically for social justice, environmentalism or feminism, that is centered around practices of craft - especially handicrafts. Practitioners are known as craftivists."

Yet the term craftivism was, I believe, created by author Betsy Greer who writes:
My whole idea for this site is based on the idea that activism + craft = craftivism. That each time you participate in crafting you are making a difference, whether it's fighting against useless materialism or making items for charity or something betwixt and between.

It's about the not-so-radical notion that activists can be crafters, and crafters can be activists.
In a comment on the Finn piece, Betsy further adds:

The most concise definition I’ve written was on Twitter of all places: Craftivism to me is way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite.

Your hands are powerful. Your voice is powerful. Your passions are powerful.

Nowhere in these fairly concise definitions of the term can I find any alignment of craftivism with a political stand.  So it behooved me to examine the Etsy group's own definition of their purpose:
The Etsy Craftivism Team is a team of progressive Etsyans who believe that craft and art can change the world. Some of us use our work to carry messages of protest and political activism. Others believe that the act of making craft can be an act of resistance. Still others see that by buying and selling directly from the maker we are challenging the all pervasive corporate culture that promotes profit over people.

And, like BlogHer's Elise Camahort-Paige, I see terms used in this team defition that at least sound politically liberal to me:
  • progressive
  • protest
  • act of resistance,
  • pervasive corporate culture
  • profits over people 
Do not these very words sound a liberal bent?  By using these terms in defining the group, and accepting these terms when joining the group, didn't the members agree -at least tacitly- to these ideas?  Am I mistaken that conservatives would not normally align themselved "against a corporate culture"?  Or align themselves as "progressive"?

In comments on the first Crafting a Green World post, group creator Stephanie wrote the same thing:
While you guys are debating the meanings of liberal and progressive
and craftivism, and reporting what they mean to you, you’re not
considering what they meant to the people who first got this team off
the ground.

As I stated yesterday, the INTENT of the group came first; the NAME
second. I contacted people who seemed of like-minds (generally) based
on things I read or saw in their shops, and asked if they’d like to be
part of a group of progressive, socially activist etsyans. After it
was clear that a group would be started, the name came. I’ll repeat it
here: Someone suggested the name craftivist, which I thought was a
great idea. So it stuck.

Hence, you can’t just say, “It doesn’t matter if you are liberal or
conservative, it just matters if you’re a craftivist,” without knowing
a couple of things. First, where did the name come from? (For this
group). Second, where did the group come from, and thirdly what
craftivism means to those who decided to name this team.
Anyone is free to start another team with their own take on
And yet kakariki countered this assumption of the term "liberal" on her Radical Cross Stitch blogpost Whose Craftivism?
The key phrase (I think) in the group description is this “The Etsy Craftivism Team is a team of progressive Etsyans who believe that craft and art can change the world.”  While I respect what Stephanie has said about believing she had a very clear ‘liberal’ definition when this was written.  I do believe this sentence is open to a quite wide interpretation.  I read it as people  who want to make positive change in their communities and use art and craft as their main medium to do so.  When I read this when I joined, I understood that there’s going to be people of different political persuasions, and knowing that this is an international group, even the spectrums of left and right will be different for different people, they may not even exist in some countries (and they don’t, I assure you).
It seems to me that the problem with this Etsy group was not with Craftivism, per se, but with how the team was originally defined and how members chose to accept that definition when they joined.  Or whether they even took the time to read the mission statement.

In that light, I hope that a new Etsy group - and groups outside the Etsy culture - form and define their purpose using less politically embued words if their intention is to practice an apolitical version of craftivism.  The Etsy Craftivism group is clearly -in my mind- defined as a politically liberal group.  Perhaps it would be better if they changed their name to something different since this is the rare instance where politics was attached to the term from the groups inception. Just to keep the term "craftivism" clean.  Yet there is no method to compel such an action, and I doubt it will be taken.

Personally, I hope for a future similar to the one TreeHugger's Kimberley Mok envisions in Must "Craftivism" Have A Politically Liberal Bent? :
Or perhaps is it more appropriate to ask: will we someday move toward a culture that will someday view creative self-empowerment and crafting positive change as instinctive as breathing, rather than a political agenda that one specifically adheres to?
Julie Finn has posted Examples of Craftivism in Practice with projects that span the entire political spectrum at Crafting A Green World.

What's your take?  Must craftivism take a particular political stance or is it a movement without political boundaries?  How would you have crafted the group mission statement if Etsy Craftivism group was formed first as a craft+activism group instead of a politically liberal crafting group that just happened to borrow the term?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, April 06, 2009

(crossposted at BlogHer)

This is month four of a Year of Stash Busting. Back in January, I suggested we work together using the supplies at hand whenever possible to craft without compromising our design principles, we finish the projects we have on hand or find new ways to use the partially completed UFOs.

Are you enjoying the year so far? Looking at some of the pictures in the StashBusting '09 Flickr group there are folks having great fun! This month, read through the blogs for some great ideas to craft fun, useable items from the stash we have on hand.

Betz White designed charming Reusable Sandwich Wraps for her book Sewing Green, then shared the pattern with us.
Kick the baggie habit! Save money and bring less plastic into the world by using sandwich wraps when you pack lunches. I made a handful of these for my boys and use them every week. (Ours have Batman and Scooby-doo on them and they never get left behind in the lunchroom!) It's fast to make and easy to use, which is a major plus for a busy family.
Wendolonia first dreamed, then created adorable monsters for her boys. She shared the whole creative process.
The other night I had a dream I was making a super cute stuffed monster for Augie. The dream was one of those super realistic ones, where you wake up and you’re not sure if you actually lived it or not. I made the monster out of actual materials in my stash and it was a combination of two different projects I’ve been meaning to put together for a while — a taggie blanket and a stuffed monster kit that I picked up at the Maker Faire last year. The project came out really cute in my dream and when I woke up in the morning, I knew I wanted to make one just like it!

Which is your favorite? The taggie monster or the 7-eyed Cupcake Butt?

MLQKnits blogs serious knitting stashbusting at Odd Ball Knitting. She recently decided to clear out some fun ribbon-like yarns by knitting a shawl for her sister. The resulting posts became Pythagoras for Knitters.

It's a straightforward matter to knit a triangular shawl, especially in garter stitch, and we probably all know how it's done ... cast on 2 stitches, and knit them, then on each following row, increase one stitch at the beginning of the row, usually by knit 1, knit 1 tbl, then knit to the end of the row. When the resulting triangle is big enough for what we want, we cast off. So far, not very difficult ... but how do we know if we have enough yarn for what we want to do?

And that's when Geometry can be our Best Friend ...

I loved geometry in 8th grade which might explain why her explanation of the math did not make eyes glaze over, even before my first cup of coffee in the morning. She shares her pattern for the shawl, too, so go enjoy.

Have you found some great creative ways to bust your stash? Please share below in the comments.

photocredit: Wendy Copley's Flickrstream.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Loom Knitting

It started innocently enough with a friendly conversation on Twitter. Two of my many crafty twitter friends were having a light hearted talk about a craft I knew nothing about: Loom knitting. I wedged myself into their banter and sought some guidance.

If you played with a small red Knitting Dobbie as a child, using 4 hooks on a small hand-held plastic base, you have loom knit. Today's looms are different sized and shapes to allow the knitter to make -@sorka and @purlingsprite assured me -almost anything you can knit with needles.

Turns out I could not have asked two more knowledgeable people. @Sorka is looming knitting author/blogger Denise Layman, who writes at Knitting Without Needles. PurlingSprite is Isela Phelps, blogger/author at the same named site.

The two teased and suggested and sent me off to my local big box craft stores in search or some simple supplies. While it might not be everybody's first project, I decided that a feltable bag would give me something useful to work on and the felting would hide any obvious mistakes I might make along the way. So I picked up a 22" plastic loom and several balls of a feltable wool. With spring and summer coming, neutral linen shades were speaking to me.

These got packed up for a weekend at the ocean with my sewing/knitting buddies and I was on my way. After a nice long walk along the beach, I settled myself in to (gasp) read the directions and get started working on my project. I had picked up Isola's book Loom Knitting Primer and followed the directions for the felted bag inside. Like any yarn project I've ever tried, the first two rows seem a challenge until things get rolling along, but now I'm looping and knitting confidently, wathcing my bag appear from inside the loom.

The only problem I have? Like anyone knew to a technique, my tension is not fabulous. In this case, it's much too tight, but I'm working on loosening it up. So far I like loom knitting. It seems to put less strain on my aging eyes, so it might allow me to keep doing yarn crafts after I've been forced to give others up. It's fast and not too demanding at the moment, which means it will be the perfect "baseball" knitting activity at home. At games, I will still carry my current sock project; it's just a bit more portable.

Loom knitting seems a great new activity to learn, appropriate for anyone over the age of 6. So definitely consider this for a Easter Break crafting activity.

Want to learn before you take the plunge:

Sister Diane interviewed Denise and Isela for CraftPod.
In this show:
- All about knitting on a loom, with the editors of the Loom Knitters Circle.
- Where loom knitting comes from, and where it’s headed.
- Get all your burning technical questions about loom knitting answered!
- Learn why you should not mess with loom knitters.

Isela wrote an detailed introduction to loom knitting, How to Knit Needle-Free, for Knitty:
A small spool knitter was my first introduction to the knitting world. I was young and rambunctious and the only way for my Grandma to keep me out of trouble was to sit me down and give me some yarn. I remember sitting by her side knitting away, she knitting away on a pretty sweater while I knitted a cord long enough to wrap around the world! A few decades later, I can say that I have graduated from my small four-prong spool knitter to a bigger spool knitter. Instead of miles of cord, I am now creating accessories and knitwear items.
Isela goes on to discuss the different loom shapes, and to demonstrate the basic stitches of loom knitting.

While checking out Denise's blog I found a wonderfully helpful article on how to reclaim yarn from thrifted or old sweaters. Even if you do needle knitting or crochet, this is a great idea to keep in mind if you are of a thrifty nature. Recognizing the perfect sweater to buy and recycle? Priceless.

If you're a visual learning, Isela has a numer of great video to learn loom knitting on the Purling Sprite site.

Angie from Many Little Blessings started looming weaving this week.
Having never done any knitting (or a loom or otherwise), I was thrilled to put in only a couple of hours, and to end up with a cutie hat that Molly was thrilled with. I also realized that this would be a great activity for older kids, who could easily master the basic loom use after being shown how to do it.

I still definitely want to learn to knit with needles at some point (maybe during the summer when we have more free time), but for now, I'm thrilled to be able to do some loom knitting until then. I have to admit, the whole time I was making the hat, I kept smiling as I watched the hat grow.
When I finish my little bag, I'll felt it up and post the photo on my FlickrStream. But in the meanwhile, here's my suggestion. Loom Knitting: Try It! You'll Like IT! What do you think?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Towards a Plastic Free World - Fateh

In a time when we are inundated with trash and seeking ways to keep it from burying us, this video shows women who collect, clean, cut and then weave discarded plastic bags into great looking items.

Wonderful example of upcycling.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.