The old adage "April showers bring May flowers" is true... problem is that the old adage never mentioned the TYPE of showers that would bring on the flowers LOL! Here in the Northern Adirondacks we're having snow showers! See photo below ;). However, that is not exactly what caused me to think about Christmas in April. Keep reading... it will be worth it!
As many of you know already I have many friends who live all over the continent of Africa. Though I have never been to Africa myself (yet) I have been treated with great respect and affection by the good people of Africa. Recently one of my friends, Charles Makawa, shared some very cool pictures of packages from the Samaritan's Purse, project Operation Christmas Child arriving in Zomba, Malawi! I was so excited! I'd never had friends who were on the ground to distribute the gifts from Samaritan's Purse to children. Not that it is important from the standpoint of validation but just to see the kids smiling! It was lovely. I asked Charles if I could share these 3 pictures below on today's blog because I wanted to share the smiles with my readers. He said YES! (Thank you Makawa) Secondly, It's NOT too early to start preparing hand knit and crochet items for Operation Christmas Child (OCC) (or your other favorite Christmas charity)
Operation Christmas Child distributes gifts all over the world and they LOVE getting handmade gifts for the children. I've seen pictures of all kinds of wonderful handmade gifts posted on their Facebook page, from handknit hats to fun crocheted decorations on flip flops. My daughter is a huge fan of OCC we spend a lot of hours together considering what toys should go into the boxes! (We look for sales and clearance) We always include handmade items. T.k. usually makes clothes for fashion dolls and I try to include hats, scarves, and mittens. We donate along with our church. Everyone donates to the project and then everyone comes together to create the boxes that are shipped to the OCC distribution center. However, anyone can donate! Make your own boxes to donate, get together with your office, your knitting/crocheting group, school, children's scouting group, or even your sports club. However, Operation Christmas Child is certainly NOT the only Christmas charity that gives gifts to children. For instance our family will donate items to a local charity called Holiday Helpers, Franklin County NY this year. We all love to see smiles don't we!
NOTE: Jodie Booth designs are crocheted if you do not crochet I recommend that you look over the designs by Elena Nodel on Ravelry. You'll get the same style and whimsy as is created by Jodie Booth only for knitters. www.ravelry.com/designers/elena-nodel
Jodie Booth of Addicted 2 the Hook caught my eye last year, almost a year ago exactly now! And it was one of Jodie's designs that popped to mind when I thought about my Christmas in April blog. Jodie Booth is not only chief designer at Addicted 2 the Hook but also a contributor to the premier issue of Indie Road Magazine. (Congrats Jodie!) She's a busy lady who designs when inspired. As a mom herself, I know Jodie Booth feels as I do that a child's smile is priceless.
What design brought Jodie Booth to mind when thinking about gifting? Glad you asked :). The Toy/Doll Baby Carrier would make a great addition to your holiday charity giving! It's adorable, gender neutral and a free pattern. If you are considering giving this toy to Operation Christmas Child you might choose a neutral color. (just a thought) However, my FAVORITE piece by Jodie Booth is the Butterfly Poncho. It is so pretty and is written for ages 1 year to adult (which takes some work given the lacey design). No it's not a free pattern but hang on, I'm coming to that... Keep reading. I also considered that this very cute Poncho Pullover might also be a perfect gender neutral item to gift. Personally I love the fact that it won't fall off a child, allows for plenty of freedom of movement and for layering. Since charities like OCC collect boxes for children as young as 2 years, the poncho would no doubt be very welcome. It too is a free pattern.
Let's look at some other clothing designs from Jodie Booth's collection that would be good for gifting to charity at the Holidays: (these are paid patterns) KEEP reading :)
Accessories and toys are also part of Jodie Booth's repertoire. Sometimes we have to think a bit smaller yet still lovely. Jodie booth manages both in her designs.
In appreciation for the signal boost and for your hearts full of charity, Jodie Booth of Addicted 2 the Hook, is offering my readers a 30% off discount on any (1) pattern in her Ravelry Store. This offer is good until June 30th, 2018. (you don't have to be a member of Ravelry to buy!) BUT... there's a catch you'll need to "Like or favorite" one of my social networking pages, after which private message me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (see my buttons to the right of the screen ➡️) AS a thank you Please "Like" or "Favorite" Addicted 2 The Hook's pages also!
Thank you EVERYONE for willingness to share your gift of knit and crochet with others. You've no idea how you will touch the world. Just knowing that someone out there cares enough to make a personal gift fills the soul. Thank you to my friends in Zomba, Malawi for the photos. Thank you to Jodie Booth for her very kind offer. Those of you who take advantage of Jodie's kindness please let her know how much we appreciate her. (Charles Makawa sent more pictures all the way from Zomba to show how many children, 200 in all, were given gifts by Operation Christmas Child!)
I have wanted to write about Elizabeth Mareno for quite a long time. I put it off because Bizzy Crochet has been in business since 2005 and in all these years Elizabeth Mareno has created many fabulous patterns. With 99 patterns on Ravelry, a blog, 2 groups and a business page on Facebook, a group on Ravelry, and top blogger credits on Allfreecrochet and Allfreecrochetafghanpatterns, plus her role as a wife and mom, the task of writing a blog about Bizzy Crochet seemed a bit daunting. However, I thought Elizabeth Mareno is a star designer for a reason, I thought it would be a good idea for me to familiarize myself with her work and to share it.
I don't write reviews as much as highlight blogs. I write about the aspects of crocheting and knitting with which I am most comfortable. Then I write about what grabbed my attention. I don't suggest any changes to the subjects of my blog, or do a "this vs. that". I feel like I am taking time to write to friends about why a certain designer is so fabulous. With Bizzy Crochet not only are many of her designs amazing (!), but we share a like, precious, faith. I'll have to work to keep the writing from becoming overwhelming.
Bizzy Crochet's, Elizabeth Mareno creates toys, dolls, and doll clothes. Those are not my area of expertise. I leave that to the beautiful and talented T.k. Wilson of Laterose Doll clothes and Doll Repair Abby.
The other day I was checking out some of the crochet-a-longs (CAL) on my friends were "buzzing" about when the Bizzy Crochet "Mermaid CAL", I sat there in stunned silence. WOW! Gorgeous blanket... well actually this CAL focuses on TWO blankets, "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl" If you are crocheting along with the group I read that there's a surprise involved. If you are not a Facebooker you can join the Bizzy Crochet group on Ravelry. Both blankets are simply breathtaking in my opinion. I wish I could just totally clear my schedule of everything and "immerse" myself in the Mermaid CAL... alas I cannot. If you are like me, and cannot join the CAL the patterns are available for purchase on Ravelry. Check out the details and close up photos on Bizzy's blog. Fabulous!
If you are looking for visually stunning blankets, look no further than Bizzy Crochet. (I do love making blankets that capture the attention) Elizabeth Mareno harnesses the genius of color and stitch choices blended to make people stop in their tracks! Of course then there's the problem of which to share?!
Bizzy Crochet is so much more than blankets so I'll force myself to move on :) Bizzy lives in Pensacola Florida so there may not be as much call for winter gear as there... still is... here in very Northern NY. (currently 28 degrees with freezing rain) Mercifully Bizzy doesn't leave us out in the cold. There are some super cute patterns in both knit and crochet to gift or keep!
All of you who read the blog regularly know I assist with a charity called Bangwe Babies Mission. Our job in the USA is to create baby clothes for the little ones born at the Bangwe Maternity hospital in Bangwe, Blantyre District, Malawi. (there are teams in the UK, Republic of South Africa, Malawi and our US and Canadian members joined forces :)) It's been a great joy. We just shipped our second box of handmades to Bangwe. Of course I am always on the hunt for great patterns to share with our volunteers. Elizabeth Mareno has made some perfect patterns available:
Elizabeth Mareno has a lot more to offer. I could not fit everything into one blog post if I tried hard :) She's very, very talented. (and has a great sense of humor) I hope everyone reading this today will take the time to visit Bizzy Crochet on Facebook, Ravelry, Issuu, and of course her blog and thank Elizabeth Mareno for her great work!
I've got a personal reason for writing about Preemies of the Carolinas. Now first, most of you know I live in the Northern Adirondacks of New York State. However, my children were both born in North Carolina while my husband was serving aboard Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station. When I saw that founder of Preemies of the Carolinas, Jennifer Opferman, post asking for assistance, I thought I would share the great work she is doing. First a little personal background, then a bit of what Preemies of The Carolinas do, then the good stuff, an event fiber artists can help with right now!
Jennifer Opferman has her own backstory After chatting with her on Facebook messenger it's apparent she's passionate about her work in the Carolinas. She's inspired many people to come alongside and share the work of creating special projects for the preemies in 8 hospitals! That's amazing! I'd like to share a paragraph from the "About" page on the Preemies of the Carolinas page:
"After a personal hospitalization experience, Jennifer was looking to give back and provide children in the hospital with something special from home, something handmade to provide comfort to the patient." (preemiesofthecarolinas.com/about/) Turning a personal experience into a passion for helping others is a beautiful thing!
Preemies of the Carolinas has been going and growing strong since 2015 thanks to Jennifer Opferman and her volunteers! The growth of this charity is exciting!
SIDE NOTE: Just so you know my short backstory: My sweet daughter, T.k. Wilson, was born in New Bern, North Carolina in a civilian hospital because the first Gulf War was on. All the military doctors were seconded to the front. When T.k. was born she was big enough to go home in size 3 months clothing. :) As a result in the nursery window there was my T.k.'s bassinet on one side and the isolette of a preemie baby on the other. Not sure why they did that except to show the contrast but the image has never left my mind. Years later when my daughter was still young a very good friend was blessed with a preemie for whom I was able to crochet some of my very first preemie baby clothes. I've never lost the love of crocheting and knitting for preemies 💝 This is why I wanted to write about Preemies of The Carolinas today.
Preemies of The Carolinas has very specific projects that are ongoing and also holds special events throughout the year. (you can find out about all of the exciting news by signing up for the e-newsletter!) Ongoing projects include:
Preemies of the Carolinas donates to 8 hospitals including: Novant Hemby Children’s Hospital – Charlotte, NC, Piedmont Medical Center – Rock Hill, SC, Greenville Health Children’s Hospital – Greenville, SC, Carolina’s Healthcare Pineville – Charlotte, NC, Jeff Gordon Children’s Hospitals – Concord, NC, Brenner Children’s Hospital – Winston Salem, NC, Spartanburg Regional Hospital, Spartanburg SC, and Mission Health Children's in Ashville, NC. The volunteers make some beautiful items for donation to these hospitals. Jennifer Opferman and wonderful volunteers have expanded from 1 to 8 hospitals in just 3 years! That blows my mind! Their work is so necessary. If you've ever spend time with a preemie or parents of a preemie in NICU you know what a comfort it is to have some handmade love for the infants. They are such amazing little fighters.
On top of the great work they do with the hospitals, Preemies of the Carolinas volunteers also create Preemie Packs. Each Preemie Pack item is lovingly created by volunteers and contains 2 Inspirational Hearts, hats and a blanket. It is a wonderful idea and perfect to help allay that feeling of helplessness people get when a baby is in the NICU. These can be requested through the website. There is a small cost for shipping but this is a tax deductible donation. Each Pack is full of beautiful handmade love. Below is a photo example of what the Preemie Packs contain (photo credit Jennifer Opferman):
🎆 🎇 🎇Now to the good stuff! If you sew, knit, or crochet YOU can get involved with this upcoming Event! The Fourth of July Event deadline is June 2 so if we're going to participate we need to get those sewing machines fired up to make red, white, and blue, Inspirational Hearts. Crochet hooks and knitting needles tuned up to make red, white, and blue hats! 🎇🎇 It's so cute to see babies dressed up for the holidays! More about this event can be found on the facebook page, on Instagram, on Twitter, or Send a note to Jennifer Opferman on the website's contact page.
There are a lot of volunteers fired up about this event! Because the weather is already pretty warm in much of the country it's a perfect time to go to making those adorable preemie hats. Excellent projects to carry along to ball games, days at the shore, or on vacation. (I never leave home without my crocheting/knitting) I'm sure many of you sewists out there are looking forward to lighter weight projects for summer. Look no further! The more you make, the more joy you can share! Below are a few pictures that Jennifer sent to me with permission of the babies parents.
I want to thank you all for taking the time to read the blog today AND for taking the time to help Preemies of The Carolinas! If you do not knit, crochet, or sew but still want to help there are ways to donate on the Current Needs page and Preemies of the Carolinas is NOW a 501c3 charity. Monetary donations to this page are tax deductible. My Fiber Artist friends, I want to say thanks in advance for the help I know you'll give to Jennifer Opferman. However, A BIG Thank you goes out to Jennifer Opferman and her team of volunteers for caring so much about our littlest citizens!
As I was looking for a pattern book I found some VERY VERY old knitting and crochet books. Old as in from the 1930's. I was given these fantastic gems by a friend who knew how much I love history. As you know Fiber Arts has a rich history! Today we'll take a look at Adorables for Baby* So Easy to Make, crochet designs. Some great designs which can be paired with great designs from modern designers. Ready to step into my time machine?
Fiber arts has a history, a meaningful history, especially to those of us who grew up watching our family members knit, crochet, sew, tat, embroider, ect. Historically many gifts were made, many clothes repaired, kept many soldiers warm, and kept many hands busy during some very dark days. Not surprisingly this carries on as I write this blog. Our art is an expression of love and support. Today's pamphlet "Adorables for Baby, So Easy to Make, of Dainty Glossilla Crochelle from the Bernhard Ulmann co., takes us to 1942. A pivotal year in history. Here are a few significant points:
When I look at the books and magazines I have from years gone by I imagine what my relatives would have been doing. Would they have been sitting by the wireless knitting their bit or would they have been sitting in front of the television watching "I Love Lucy"? With those marvelous commercial ditties that you cannot get out of your head! haha! In 1942 everyone was likely gathered around their radio set. Just judging from the shape my copy of "Adorables for baby", I'm guessing it was used a lot! The yarn featured in the book is a 3 ply 100 % rayon named Glossilla Crochelle (they may have been trying too hard to make that sound exotic methinks). I have seen this type of yarn, or what we might consider cord, today in various places and it does look like it might have been a challenge to work with because it is very slippery. Not to take away from the beauty of the projects in this pamphlet at all. They are timeless and many have modern counterparts as we shall see.
The first "set" of patterns is entitled "'Mother's Pet' Carriage Set. Bearing in mind that "fur babies" weren't a thing back then, the word "pet" simply was intended to convey: "denoting a thing that one devotes special attention to or feels particularly strongly about." This According to my google search and is obviously a rather antiquated word. The carriage set or layette is intended to go in the old fashioned pram/baby carriage. You know those things that you could either stroll through the park conveying your baby in OR alternatively use as a boat. They were huge and heavy. I.E. this pram. The pram set pictured below fits infants to 6 months size. These pretty little pieces gave a picture of a time when babies went out with a sense of style. The blanket is 27x31 inches. The beautiful part about this book is that it gives the gauge! So all things being equal I can use these patterns using modern yarns. However, there are plenty of modern pattern designers that have created similar designs with updated terms and yarns. Fast forward to 2018:
The modern day pram/carriage set might be made from these patterns!
There are some fantastic pullover and cardigan sweater designs in this magazine. I especially like them because none seem to be too heavy for an infant to wear. So we will follow suit in our attempt to bring you right up to the present! First there are 5 baby sweater designs from 1942 I'd like to share in pictures. These sweaters are, for the most part, unisex or could easily be unisex. As a rule those living during World War II didn't really have the luxury to make clothes for infants based on gender. (My own parents were born in the 1930's) I love the titles of these patterns!
Photo 1: left to right, The "Button Up Cardigan" (of course), "Smoothy Slip-on", "Cuddly Saque". Center photo: Left to right, "Lacy Saque" and the "Adorabelle Saque". Of course remove the ribbons and use toggles then you have a completely unisex designs. Really priceless. Moving back into the present we have several great designers who have created adorable sweater/cardi/pullover patterns for children.
Sweaters do make a great alternative to heavy coats, especially since the best practice for children is never to place an infant in a carseat in a bulky coat. (I do like toggles!) Nothing heavier than a sweater due to the fact that the carseat straps cannot be tightened down sufficiently to keep the baby in place. This is where your friendly neighborhood, professional, crocheter can come in very handy. Some modern day alternatives:
The Adorables For Baby has one last super cute pattern for me to share with you. Little girls always look so cute dressed up in their little play dresses. The little dress pictured below is a dress sized 2 years (though I think this model looks a little tall for 2 years)
I wanted to showcase a few dresses in this section because Spring is here in the US and Canada. For School, holidays, church, family pictures and other occasions, it's always nice to have a handmade dress available.
I hope you've enjoyed today's blog I always enjoy sharing these little gems with you. Please thank the modern designers who so graciously share their work with us!
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**Opinions expressed on blogs about which I write are the opinion of the blog authors and DO NOT necessarily reflect my own opinion.