If you saw this plant in your garden, you would probably yank it out without giving it a second thought, which is what I did.
I know it may not be much to look at, but this plant has historically played a vital role in the fiber industry, and is still important in the cottage industry.
It’s called woad, or dyer’s woad, and it’s a member of the broccoli family. It is the source of a bright blue pigment that has been used to dye yarn and fabrics since Ancient Egyptians, who used it to dye their clothing. The Celts would paint their bodies with it in order to frighten their enemies. Thus, the tribes of Northern Britain were known as the Picti, or “painted people”. Woad use continued throughout the Middle Ages, and into recent times. Woad dye was commonly mixed with common woodsorrel to produce the famous Robin Hood green. It was purposely introduced to the United States in the early Colonial period as a cash crop, where it has since gone a little out of control, and now can be found almost everywhere. Woad was the favored dye for the uniforms of the French army during the Napoleonic Wars. The vivid blue coloring made them easy to shoot. Woad finally fell out of fashion around 1930, when Asian indigo finally caught up with it after centuries of competition.
Woad continues to be used by home spinners to color yarn and fabrics. There are a myriad of recipes on the internet about how to make the dye yourself; I haven’t tried any of them myself, so I can’t rightly recommend any of them. If you’re interested in trying it yourself, I understand it’s a very lengthy, smelly process.
Dye is not the only use for woad, however. Woad has a long history of use in traditional medicine, and comes recommended by many herbalists today. The leaves and roots contain many antiviral and anticancer compounds that just need bringing out. Chris Dalziel has provided detailed instructions on cultivating, collecting, processing and using woad, which can be found here.
Thanks for reading, and remember, think before you yank!
I know many knitters and crocheters are already familiar with Project Linus in fact, as I've shared with you before it was the very FIRST charity I ever became involved with as a beginner crocheter. So why am I covering Project Linus Greater Boston Chapter now? Because I have a friend and her husband staying in Boston where their baby girl is being treated for a bad case of bacterial pneumonia. I wanted to highlight the great folks in Boston and the amazing work that they do to support over 50 hospitals and social service agencies! That's a lot of work! Not unlike The Binky Project, Project Linus has been around a long time is well organized and worthy of another look.
Very likely all of us know what its like to get the jarring news that a child we care about has been run to an emergency hospital with a broken limb or a serious illness. Its terribly disconcerting. When a child is far from home, receiving treatment its a strain on both the family and the child. In the case of my friend, she's several hours away and the baby is just a little thing. The knitters, crocheters, seamstresses, and fleece blanket tiers of Project Linus work hard to provide a little comfort to those who need a hand made hug. As of January 2012 PLGBC had given away 39,380 blankets! Now two years later I am sure the need is greater then ever! http://www.bostonprojectlinus.com/recipients.html
One of the great things about living in a big city is that organizations like Project Linus have contact members in outlaying areas of the city so that everyone can participate. Boston is one such amazing city they have no fewer than 5 members who act as contacts for the organization! Of course my whole village would fit in one of their major hospitals several times over. LOL! If you live or know someone who might be interested in helping Project Linus: Greater Boston Chapter the list of contact numbers and the Facebook page is found here: http://www.bostonprojectlinus.com/contact.html I've often said my fiber friends are some of the most generous in the world.
Like many other organizations Project Linus has pretty specific guidelines so before you snatch up that yarn or fabric please read here: http://www.bostonprojectlinus.com/blankets.html One very important aspect of donating through any fiber related charity is that the materials must not have any strong odor. I adhere to this rule like GLUE because both my children and myself have asthma. This is what PLGBC writes:
Now I know that some of you wonder whether a blanket could really make that much difference. Let me assure you, THEY DO! Whether you are creating a blanket for a hospital or a nursing home, I can virtually guarantee that your hand work will be appreciated. Never once have I donated to a hospital or nursing home when the recipient hasn't been over joyed to receive a hand made gift. Once, when my children were very young, my daughter had to go to the ER in an ambulance. An ambulance worker reached up into a compartment and pulled out the most adorable hand made bear. My daughter is now 24 and we still have that bear. We call it Ambi... as in Ambulance :) There's just a tiny example of how hand made gifts are so very appreciated. Here's the link to a letter written to the selfless and caring folks at Project Linus: Greater Boston Chapter: http://www.bostonprojectlinus.com/images/tapsthankyou.jpg
I know at this point I've wished that I could do more to help my friend and her little baby girl but its not to be so. This situation has sent me back to the roots of my charity giving. Back to Project Linus. Here are the ways YOU can help Project Linus: Greater Boston Chapter: http://www.bostonprojectlinus.com/helping.html Thank you for reading today!
Hello everybody! Tamra here again to tell you about an indie designer who is one of my go-to girls for preemie clothes and Barbie dresses, Myshelle Cole, aka Mamma That Makes! http://mammathatmakes.blogspot.com.au/
Myshelle is a proud mamma to four kids, three girls and a boy, who somehow has time to design awesome baby clothes on the side. Her preemie clothes are well thought out and executed and easy to make, using simple stitches and construction. Bear in mind however that she uses metric hook sizes and measurements as she lives in Australia, so keep your handy-dandy needle sizer close!
Her Barbie clothes are just the most brilliant things! One of her daughters has special needs, so she needed to find Barbie clothes that would be easy for her little one to manage. The answer? Elastic hair bands! All or most of her Barbie clothes are made around elastic hair bands making for easy on-easy off. She even has a tux for Ken! I’ve made a bunch of her designs and I love them. (You can see one of my dolls modeling dresses from Mamma That Makes below)
Along with Barbie, Myshelle has several patterns for play food and other toys and games, including a super cute tic-tac-toe board.
I can’t say enough good things about Myshelle’s work. Whether you’re looking for preemie clothes or cute stuff for older kids, the Mamma That Makes will have something for you!
Thank you Tamra and Myshelle for the great work and beautiful pictures!
Have you ever looked at the content label on your yarn and wondered “What in the world is that?!” Given the variety of confusing names on fabric labels, this is no surprise. Half of them don’t even sound like real words, and you’re left wondering “What am I wearing?” Today, I will make an attempt to provide a few answers.
Among the most common fibers used in yarns and fabrics are cellulosic fibers. These fibers are manufactured from reconstituted cellulose. Cellulose is a complex sugar that is manufactured by plants to give them rigidness. Basically, since plants don’t have bones, they need something to keep them upright, and that’s where cellulose comes in. It’s also referred to as dietary fiber. That’s right, dietary fiber. Meaning it’s edible, sort of. Humans aren’t really built to digest it.
Through a complex process, the cellulose is reconstituted, and converted in cellulosic fibers such as Rayon, Lyocell and Modal. In most cases, the cellulose in cellulosic fibers comes from the wood of various trees, and occasionally, bamboo, which is not a tree, but I’ll get into that later.
Modal is a cellulosic fiber renowned for its silk-like softness, durability, absorbency, resistance to shrinkage, and dyability. It’s often used in towels, socks, underwear, and basically any garment that receives a lot of wear and tear. These attributes make Modal an excellent fiber for yarn. Shine Worsted Weight Yarn, for example, is a blend of Modal and Pima cotton.
Modal is synthesized from the wood of the American beech tree. Because of its natural hardness and durability, beechwood is often used in furniture, tool handles, and yes, even knitting needles. Beech nuts are edible, and can be ground and made into a coffee-like drink. Beech nuts can also be made into natural dyes for yarns and fabrics. What do you know?
In conclusion, the American beech tree has made great contributions to the fiber industry in a number of ways. So, next time you spy a beech tree, and stop and give it a hug; if you’re into that kind of thing. Fertilizer is good, too.
**Knitpicks.com Shine Worsted is made with Modal and Pima Cotton!
This week our little village had the "Cops on Top" effort to raise funds for Special Olympics. The village police department had their officers perched atop the Dunkin Donuts store in town, as were MANY police officers perched on roof tops across America to support Special Olympics. First a little bit about Special Olympics.
I learned about Special Olympics when I was a young woman because my father was a big supporter of the Special Olympians. My dad, an avid runner, former soccer player, former rugby player, was always involved with sports of some kind. Both my parents believed that ALL children should be given the ability to explore their gifts and talents. They LOVE children :)
The Special Olympics has a very long and really wonderful history http://www.specialolympics.org/history.aspx Giving all kids with intellectual disabilities AND their families the certain knowledge that their disability was no bar to athletic endeavor. We focus on the kids but there is a support network of people behind the scenes working every day to be sure that the Special Olympics has the money and the talent necessary to make each year successively better!
My husband had an Uncle with an intellectual disability due to a birth accident so when, in 2012, I found Red Heart was encouraging people to make scarves for the Winter Special Olympics I was very happy and proud. I may not have been able to help Tom's uncle I could help others. 2012 was the last year that Red Heart as a company decided to sponsor this effort because the number of scarves donated outnumbered the athletes! Red Heart distributed the excess in the 2013 cames. As a result many states individually have kept up the tradition and therefore Red Heart still has the patterns available for use. http://www.redheart.com/search/?text=special+olympics! How can you help? First, ask! For instance Special Olympics NY has a facebook page dedicated to the North Country region. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Special-Olympics-NY-North-Country/110421212386037?fref=ts Check your social networking pages to see if your state has a Special Olympics page and if so ASK if they would be interested in scarves for their athletes. Then depending on how many athletes there are get a group together for the express purpose of making scarves for your local Special Olympians. In order to save time the good people at Colouring With Yarn have compiled a list of the states collecting scarves for their athletes in 2016 https://colouringwithyarn.wordpress.com/special-olympics-scarf-project-2/2015-special-olympics-scarf-project-2/
I find that some of the rural areas or some of the crowded city populations are hard pressed to find volunteers to do things like make scarves for their Special Olympians. However, if the public school where my husband is a Teaching Assistant is anything to go by, they know which students are participating in or training for Special Olympics. Its never a bad thing to approach a school board member or call the school administration to see if you can be of assistance to the kids, or their parents. There are so many ways to help besides knit and crochet. And the smiles? OH the smiles are SO worth it.
I'm so thankful for my knitting and crocheting community. You all are the most giving and caring group of people! Thank you for reading today.
Okay so every avid knitter, crocheter, cross stitcher, basically any fiber artist has their go to patterns, and at one time or another we've all had that unpleasant experience of having one of our favorite patterns disappear off the internet. Now I have hundreds of patterns printed off the net but it NEVER FAILS that the one pattern I need I did not print off. Probably thinking well, its a major manufacturer, my pattern isn't going anywhere. Just the time you think that, the company gets sold and the patterns disappear. Now what?! The Wayback machine on Archive.org may just provide your answer!
Maybe you've heard about or even used the Internet Archive. Its a great place to find a bonanza of old/vintage movies, music, books, magazines, photography, podcasts in short, a lot of stuff. You can access books listed on Project Gutenberg, a website that gives access to hundreds of thousands of old books. Now back when computer internet access was very young (yes I was but a child LOL. Ha hahaha) There was no internet archive available, and so when I lost a pattern it was just lost. However most of that is in the past. (unless of course the author of the website has blocked access to the old articles and patterns)
I used to watch Carol DuVall show on HGTV. She had all kinds of great ideas including some really great knitting patterns. They took the Carol DuVall show and all the free patterns off the HGTV webpage when the show was not renewed. Of course I was sad and upset that I could not access her great patterns and fun ideas any more. Then a friend said try this Internet Archive. At first it was unwieldy, not very organized, and well the front page just looked like a mess but check it out NOW! https://archive.org/ Much to my relief Carol DuVall's great patterns were still accessible and I was able to make the ever favorite knitted play ball that I give as gifts to charities. http://web.archive.org/web/20000815205144/www.hgtv.com/shows/CDS/cds-534.html
Another adorable pattern happened to leave the internet before I got a copy from Coats and Clark. Frustrated, and thinking no way Coats and Clark allows us access to the website I tried my luck on the Wayback Machine. I couldn't believe my eyes, there it was! The Internet Archive came through again! I love this pattern, its sweet and very "girly" http://web.archive.org/web/20120118200456/http://www.coatsandclark.com/Crafts/Crochet/Projects/BabyChild/LT1431+Baby+Poncho.htm
Now I'm going to turn the computer over to my daughter Tamra, she can tell you what she "mines" from the Archive!
I like to use Archive’s WayBack Machine a lot for my crafts as well. The Wayback Machine has a ton of old patterns for toys (less scary ones, anyway!) from internet websites available from nowhere else. These include scans of “retro” Barbie clothes from the 1960’s and 1970’s, an era where the clothes were simple, colorful, and not a pain in the neck to reproduce. You can certainly find Regency, 1860s, and other period clothes, but I find they just don’t look as good in crochet as they do sewn. When crochet, it looks like the clothes are wearing them!
Here’s a pattern for a cute “Hippie” dress for Barbie http://web.archive.org/web/20120108062900/http://www.knitting-crochet.com/crochet/barout.html
On an insanely tiny hook!
Here’s a pattern for a belted, drop waist dress popular in the 60’s for Barbie. Once again, fun and funky for a classic look!
How does one use the Wayback Machine? Its pretty simple
1. Open Archive.org.
2. Type http://www.abigailgoss.com/sbonnet.htm into the Wayback Machine search engine.
3. You MAY be taken to a page with a calendar on it and a timeline at the top of the page.
4. Click the year 2010 in the timeline. A page with blue dots on calendar numbers will open.
5. Click the blue dot over the date March 5.
6. A new Page will open with the crocheted instructions for a bonnet.
If you want to see what the actual bonnet will look like finished you can open this page: http://www.oocities.org/gossgirl2/sbonnet.htm Its really cute!
Enjoy mining Archive.org!
Good Afternoon! My friend Jill is amazing. I've not really felt well since July 2. I was thinking about what I would write for you all this week when OUT of the blue my friend Jill sent me an email with an offer to write the blog for me. Sometimes Jill and I start thinking along the same lines we write about what we love and what interests us. Our husbands then become frightened because she and I think alike. LOL! (probably a good idea... let Jill and I loose in any bookstore or craft store and watch the chaos ensue) Without further ado or comment from Moi... Jill:
Lyn is allowing me to take control of her blog this week to share my views on what I call "unorganized" charity knitting. She has been highlighting a charity every Sunday that asks for handmade things to give to those in need. There are so many out there that request things that it can be hard to choose who to knit for. Which leads me to "unorganized" charity knitting, knitting done because you feel like sitting and knitting a dozen baby hats, or you get on a whirlwind of slipper knitting. Then you find yourself with a pile of nice items looking for a home.
It might be tempting to just drop your slippers or baby hats off somewhere thinking that they can certainly use the items. Before you are tempted to do this, CALL! Some organizations are limited on storage space. Some already have a box of baby hats sitting in the back room that no one has taken. Keep in mind when you are knitting that it is seasonal too. Wool mittens in the summer aren't something many organizations want to take in and store until the need arises. So please, call ahead to see if they would like your items so they don't end up in a bin gathering dust.
Many people do like to keep their charity efforts in their own community. If you are planning ahead and have a particular organization you would like to make things for, call and ask what they can use. Be specific! Ask what materials they will accept. Many places don't want wool. Some want wool and not acrylic. Some ideas of places who may want handmade items:
Assisted Living Houses
Be creative. How about using up bits of leftover sock yarn to knit bookmarks for the library to hand out? Or mittens for a mitten tree at the library? How about a nice dishcloth donated to the food pantry so people who are picking up their next meal can have something nice to clean up with? (You can buy a bottle of dish soap and wrap the dishcloth around it, and someone will be very happy to recieve that!) The past two years I have knit dishcloths for the food baskets my friend's Girl Scout Troop hands out at the holidays. I wrap the dish cloth and a purchased kitchen towel around a bottle of dish soap. How about a favorite non-profit who needs things to sell for a fundraiser? Many groups participate in Relay for Life to raise money for cancer research, so that stack of things you made and tucked away might be something a group could sell to raise money.
Just remember that when you are knitting for charity you are spreading smiles, and presentation counts. Here is a pile of baby booties I knit:
I used jam jars to package them as “Toe Jam.” Now they are indeed a gift, of my time and my hope that whoever gets something I made smiles, knowing there are those who indeed care.
During the World Wars both one and two, civilians were relied upon to aid the war effort. I have studied Great Britain and the United States efforts to involve the public in the war effort most closely. However, in countries all over the world (including the Axis powers) people were asked to willingly give up for their military. As we are celebrating Independence Day here in the United States I thought it might be fun and a little sobering to share with you a little about what a BIG part knitting and crocheting played in the War effort. There were "propaganda" posters and celebrities doing their best to show American citizens (my focus for this blog) that everyone was in the effort together!
I'm not one for nostalgia for the most part. I have a degree in History education. However, I do think that the unity of purpose shown in the Knit Your Bit campaigns brought knitting to the foreground of the effort to keep military men and women... warm and dry. I want to keep this Blog post short and so I will really leave the story to pictures, pictures of people doing their part. On this Independence day lets remember that America still needs YOU to do your part to help our veterans. :)
The art of the war effort posters was not only in the beautiful pictures but the simplicity of the message. The "heart" of the Knit your Bit campaign was the American Red Cross though there were other types of posters encouraging people, including men, to knit. The posters speak for themselves and are of course very moving. Given the situation, they did a fantastic job getting men, women, boys, and girls to knit.
Along with the posters there were MANY dedicated celebrities who gave of their time to join the war effort by knitting or sewing to aid the troops. Various online collections like the National Portrait Gallery have some wonderful photos of actors and actresses knitting away to help the war effort. I found a book very much suited to this Blog post entitled "No Idle Hands: The Social History of American knitting" by Anne Macdonald (Google books $10.99) The book chronicled the history of each generation/period of knitter. Its very interesting from a reading stand point not just as a knitter/crocheter. Celebrities kept the inspiration to fight on going so lets take a look at a few famous faces, starting with Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States!
Thank you for reading today's entry and HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!
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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.