Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Painfree Crafting

In the next few months many of us will decide we have to "buckle down" and create all the presents and decorations that are on our imaginary -or sometimes not-so-imaginary- To Do List. We have deadlines- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's Day. And we cannot disappoint others by failing to create all the wonderful things that are swirling around our heads.

We settle down for several hours of work after a day of work. Soon, our hands are aching, our necks are creaking, and our lower backs are aching. But still we soldier on. In the name of all the magical goodness that is the holiday season, we will continue if it kills us.

Sometimes we end up in such pain that we wish it would.

To counteract all the physical demands we put on our bodies while we're crafting, we must warm up and stretch before we begin, and continue to stop, rest, and stretch while we are crafting. To give you some guidance about doing this, I made a simple video: Stretches for Crafters.

The stretches are simple stretches for the neck, shoulders, chest, wrists and hands. These, done before you begin and at regular intervals while you are crafting should help to keep some of the pain at bay. If repetitive stress injuries arise anyway? Alternate applications of heat and ice, NSAIDs, and rest will move you along your way to quicker healing.

Others in craft are also thinking about your health while crafting.

Becky Striepe at Crafting a Green World wrote Yoga for Crafters: The Knit and Crochet Edition.

From what you guys had to say on Twitter, it sounds like all that yarn work hits ravelers hardest in the wrists, fingers, neck and chest. Never fear! Here are some poses to help you recoop a little bit.

I'm anxious to try several of these poses to open up my chest and wrists and feel some healing coming my way. But looking at the Bow Pose- I may need yoga to recover from doing some yoga! I wonder how I can regress that to something actually do-able?

Last week, I pointed you to the Knit-A-Square charity project. The organizers were care so much about their volunteers that they wrote a How-To on Knitting for Charity Pain Free. Their points include a plan for a basic knitting/crochet training schedule to build your body's endurance for this work! The training schedule:

You are attempting to be a marathon knitter and crocheter. And as such, like any elite athlete, you need to train to be able to knit and crochet with endurance. Too many of you, especially those of you learning how to knit or crochet, or picking up your knitting needles or crochet hook again after years away from the craft, just launch straight hours of work.Start slowly and build up. As a rule of thumb, you could start by working for 20 to 30 minutes a day, slowly on a sliding scale according to half your age. So for example:

  • 20 minutes for 10 days
  • 30 minutes for 15 days
  • 50 minutes for 25 days
  • 70 minutes for 35 days.

This will give your wrists and arms the opportunity to build strength and endurance just as a marathon runner must train over months even years to first run the distance and secondly run fast.

Now that we are armed with stretches, yoga and a training schedule, there is (hopefully) no need to pray that you receive a week of massage/chiropractic after the holidays end this year. Not that such a gift would be a bad thing if it were to come.

How do you prepare to get your craft on and keep yourself pain free?

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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fashion Crafting: shows, swaps and Making it Work.

(crossposted at BlogHer)

I'm home from spending 24 hours at Pacific International Quilt Festival. This west-coast weekend is a blend of hundreds of vendors, hundreds of quilts and a fascinating mix of wearable fashions. I was there to work the Fashion Show -a Friday night tradition which is organized by wearable quilter Karen Boutte.

This year's fashion show featured designs from Margaret Linderman, Rachel Clark, and the pattern company: Decades of Style. I was one of the dozen models at the show. Lucky me! I got to wear beautiful items created by each of these three talents. Consider it my own personal experience as a Project Runway Model, except nobody was sent home at the end of the night!

While I was getting my fashion on...

...Stefanie Girard of Sweater Surgery organized and ran a Swap-o-rama-rama. If you are unfamiliar with the Swap-o-rama-rama fun:
Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores creative reuse through the recycling of used clothing.

The SwapWhen you attend the swap bring at least one bag of your unwanted clothing and a small donation (each swap varies depending on available funding). Every swap begins with a giant collective pile of clothing, the unwanted clothing of all who attend. Everyone is welcome to dive in and find their next new/used items from the pile. Take as little or as much clothing from this pile as you like, it's all free.

DIY WorkshopsAfter you have chosen your new clothes slide on over to one of the sewing stations and attend a workshop. Learn to make modifications or totally transform your finds. Each swap features a variety of workshops by local artists who are there to share their sewing and modification secrets with you. All the materials you need to sew, embroider, bead, fix, repair, knit etc, are suppled.

On Site DIY StationsSwap-O-Rama-Rama also offers on site DIY with skilled artists to help you get started. You'll find designers with sewing machines ready to teach you how to make modifications to your new/used duds. Or you might try the hand sew area and decoration station where you can learn to embroider, knit, crochet, etc. A silk screen station offers many amazing designs for immediate transfer as well as an opportunity to make your own screens using a YUDU silk screen machine.

This past August, BlogHer Burnadette Noll took place in a Back to School Clothes Swap based on the Swap-o-rama-rama idea:
We based it on the Swap a rama rama we had participated in at Maker Faire: seamstresses, silk screeners, swappers and more all gathered together in the school gym to help people modify the random selections they had made from the piles. It was amazing fun and an incredible display of abundance with more than enough of everything for everybody and not a single, solitary penny was spent. All the kids were psyched at getting "new" duds for back to school. All the parents were ecstatic at both getting rid of what they didn't want and gaining what they both wanted and needed while at the same time satisfying the societal urge to gussy up for back to school. And some cool fashion statements were made as various items were silk screened and altered and radified to suit the wearer.
Meanwhile, Kristen at ThimblyThings received a wonderful journal page with notes on a dress for her friend Erin. From the notes we can determine several things: this is to be a flirty dress with a fitted bodice and a swingy short skirt with lots of volume. And Erin does not like bows on the front of her dresses. Kristen has
made the bodice, trimmed it with a tulle ruffle, lined it, and put in boning. The boning is not particularly comfortable. I rounded the ends, but I guess I didn’t round them enough. And they are stuck in there (They’re melted slightly to the fabric. Oops.). Any suggestions? :D
This is where Kristen could use a visit by the charming Tim Gunn -with some guidance, perhaps, on how to deal with the boning and an encouraging Make It Work! Does anyone wish to stand in for Tim with encouragement or help? Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Charitable Crafting

(crossposted at BlogHer)

As the seasons begin to shift toward autumn, I starting more about giving -and especially charitable giving. Money for food banks for holiday meals, home-made biscuits for the animal shelters, and crafts for whichever charities can use them. Sewing, quilting, crochet, and knitting are the key crafts where charitable appeals are aimed.

With limited time, what are some of the charities that looking for charitable crafting?

Softies for Mirabel is an Australian crafting appeal to collect as many softies as they can before December 10th to donate to the Mirabel Foundation- an organization which assists children left without parents due to parental illicit drug use and are now being cared for by extended family. The toy collection is organized by Meet Me At Mike's. You can see some of the softies already donated by checking the Flickr Group.

Need inspiration for a softie to construct? Jodie at RicRac designed these adorable softies- one which reminds me a lot of a nutcracker toy soldier- in less than an hour. She offers the toy soldier pattern as a PDF download at Scribd.

Additionally, One Red Robin's Jhoanna MonteAranez made up an adorable Oh-Oh the Owl Softie and offers the pattern for free so you can make up a couple for toy give-aways.

Can you make a square?

Around the world from the Australian Toy drive, is Knit a Square to be used for AIDS orphans in Africa. Sandy Zanny's aunt lives in Africa and works with the Soweto Comfort Club to "collect, sort, bundle and join the squares into blankets and then distribute them to groups of children, greatly in need." If you take the short time to sort through your remnant yarn from completed projects -you can quickly knit or crochet an 8" square and mail it off. Heck, mail off a few.

These women are assembling the squares they receive into comforting blankets, hats, and overvests to give the children orphaned to AIDS. With a goal of 5000 blankets this year-this group needs donations of nearly 138,000 squares. Can you spare one evening or weekend of crafting to help? All the information you need can be found at the website.

Quilting and Sewing for a Cause

Charitable crafting takes place in the US, too. CraftSanity's Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood recently pointed out Margaret's Hope Chest, a Michigan-based charity that aims to make and distribute 400 quilts to homeless children living in shelters over this Christmas holiday.

And CRAFT HOPE has taken on crafting projects of all kinds. Their latest was to donate 225 sock monkeys to a Preschool Burn Camp. Each and every sock monkey is unique!

Ofcourse one of the long-running charitable craft projects is Project Linus.

Project Linus is comprised of hundreds of local chapters and thousands of volunteers across the United States. Each volunteer and local chapter all work together to help us achieve our mission statement, which states:

First, it is our mission 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.”

Second, it is our mission to provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.

Together we have distributed over three million blankets to children in need since our inception in 1995.

But perhaps you are moving on from one crafting adventure to another, or simply cleaning house and willing to give some of your stash to others to use in charitable crafting. Crafting a Green World wrote a great list of suggestions on places to donate craft supplies for charity. Check it out.

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