In the United States, heart disease remains the number one killer. Yes, still. The amazing strides in early detection, proper care, understanding the genetic link between heart disease and high blood pressure, understanding and helping folks recover from strokes and still heart disease takes more lives than all other causes combined, this according to the American Heart Association. But BABIES? Yes, and let me share why.
According to the March of Dimes 1 in every 100 babies born in the United States is born with a heart defect. http://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/congenital-heart-defects.aspx Some heart defects aren't serious, some are fixed with little fanfare, but some are quite serious, again the March of Dimes reports about 4,800 babies are born each year with a heart defect that can cause serious health problems or even loss of life. Doesn't seem like very many babies, I think we agree that if its your baby its 1 too many babies. This is why the American heart association has planned the Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign.
First, what is this campaign about? Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in babies. With heart disease and birth defects being so prevalent the American Heart Association started this Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign to coincide with National Heart Month in February. They want to raise awareness about congenital heart defects and heart disease by asking knitters and crocheters to make red hats to be sent to hospital nurseries and Neo-natal intensive care units in various states around the country.
I started my affiliation with the American Heart Association when I was a teenager in High School. I became good friends with the school nurse who was sort of my refuge from he hustle, bustle, and bullying of my large school. She asked me to get involved with the program to help encourage my peers to stop smoking. I knew that smoking was a bad habit for teens, I saw some of my peers already suffering the effects of cigarette smoking. Shortness of breath, nicotine withdrawal during school hours, and of course the ubiquitous smoking in the girls bathroom. I was concerned for my friends. With good reason. One of my best friends lost her dad to cancer and another her mom to a very sudden heart attack, both while we were still in school. Traumatic to say the least. I am also a big advocate for the "Go Red" campaign. So yesterday when a friend, a young mom who gave birth to a premature baby herself, sent me the link to this story in the Chicago Tribune online I was thrilled. http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/arlington-heights/community/chi-ugc-article-american-heart-association-collecting-red-bab-2015-10-09-story.html Monica knows how much I love knitting and crocheting for babies! What she probably did not know was how passionate I have been about the work of the American Heart Association.
How can YOU help? Well its really very simple! Follow this link, find the nearest Little Hats, Big Hearts affliate state and start stitching http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Affiliate/Little-Hats-Big-Hearts_UCM_470829_SubHomePage.jsp#mainContent In my case the nearest program is the Southern New England chapter. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Affiliate/Little-Hats-Big-Hearts-Southern-New-England_UCM_472883_SubHomePage.jsp#mainContent
Because I know knitters and crocheters have BIG HEARTS, I'm looking forward to overwhelming response to this call for Little Hats :) Thank you!
Today I am so happy to present to you a very creative and lovely lady I met through Ravelry. She's just a delightful person and a really excellent and FUN knit and crochet designer. I think you will enjoy her work as much as I do!
I found I had a few things in common with Amy B. so it is easier to write a blog post about someone with whom I share commonalities. We found that we have our faith in common and also that our stitching has been made more delightful by sharing rather than by self promotion. Let me share her own words:
"I'm a wife and mother! I love God and like to share the knowledge of all that He has given me!!!
Since I was a little girl I have always been stitching something. I learned to crochet when I was 9 at the knee of my Moma. I was always around a sewing machine, making doll blankets and clothes for my Barbies. In my mid 30's I learned to knit and just took off with it. I love to stitch and it has provided me with a way to clothe and warm my family....and also earn a little extra $$$....which ...is nice :D
I have published approx 32 patterns in leaflets and books, many unpublished crochet patterns in notebooks, a handful published on my blog free for your use http://amysastitchatatime.blogspot.com/ , and many many MANY still in my head. I hope you like what you see.....if you have an idea in your head PM me and we can work out the details. Enjoy!!" https://plus.google.com/+amybstitched/about (She's also a Grandmother now) As you can see she and I have another thing in common... we began our "stitching" career, if-you-will, in our 30's and learned to incorporate it into a bit of a sideline business. She however, is a prolific designer which I have not achieved yet. I am still so busy knitting and crocheting the designs I find to try writing patterns! :)
Amy B's unique perspective on her work, obviously comes from a happy spirit. Her designs are so much fun, and such a joy to work up! One of the patterns I absolutely LOVE is her "Dinosaur Baby" hat and diaper cover photo prop set. As is her custom she gave credit to the designer who created the booties to match the set. Adorable little spikes on the hat and diaper cover are so sweet! She did a great job with the design. You can find Amy B's pattern here http://amysastitchatatime.blogspot.com/2014/04/newborn-dinosaur-baby-hat-and-diaper.html and the pattern for the dino booties here https://www.etsy.com/shop/HookNYarnCrochet. So cute!!! If you look around Amy B's. blog for more than a couple of minutes you'll see she has a great sense of humor :) Check out her latest Princess Leia beanie. http://amysastitchatatime.blogspot.com/ She like so many of us young girls fell for the dashing Han Solo and the handsome Luke Skywalker in the first release of the movie to the big screen. Why not I say? :)
Another aspect of Amy B's blog that I found so endearing and so very valuable was a measure of transparency. So many would have shied away from sharing her heart and how knitting/crocheting has soothed her in times of distress. Amy B is right there for us. None of us are exempt from the stresses and hardships of life. Amy expresses in such personal ways how she has used her work to keep her hands and mind busy in times of tragedy. I appreciate this because few people in this commercial world really take the time to give people a look into what makes us tick. For many of us who knit and crochet... it is those moments of struggle that cement our love for what we do and cannot imagine life without our skill. This quote from her blog struck me in my heart because this is where I often find myself " I think in each persons life, as tragedy occurs, we find comfort in certain things. For me, that thing is the repetitive nature of crochet and knit. When nothing makes sense....and I can't focus.....I'm able to pull out a ball of yarn and a hook (or needle if I'm in the right mood) and just stitch." I did want to share this moment from her blog as a comfort to those who might be struggling right now... people do understand http://amysastitchatatime.blogspot.com/2015/09/comforting-stitches.html I know my readers will appreciate this blog entry as much as I did. Our skill is a gift from God!
For my own part I enjoyed exchanging messages with Amy B. through Ravelry. So let me share with you how you can find Amy B. online and then I will show you my latest attempt at an Amy B. pattern.
Lastly I do want to thank Amy for being so gracious in our message exchanges. When you write to Amy B. you get the sense of someone fully at peace with the direction of her life. Someone with whom you can share your love for fiber arts, faith, and family.
Recently a good friend of mine has started down a path to truly helping those in addiction, or recovering from addiction. I wondered if there was anything knitters and crocheters could do to practically support those in recovery. Now recovery is a big word and the need is very real so when I found My Recovery Buddy through Giving Artfully's Facebook page I was pleased and relieved! I thought HURRAH! A need has been answered.
Karen Agnello is the founder of "My Recovery Buddy" she felt a need to help those struggling. Not just with addiction but with illness, trauma, medical or mental issues. Now speaking as a person who has been dealing with a non-life threatening but serious medical issue for the last year or so I can honestly say that just knowing someone has though of you, taken the time to make something for you, given you a loving gift, its priceless! http://www.myrecoverybuddy.net/#!page2/cjg9 Many people have experienced those anxiety ridden and lonely night time hours when no one is around to listen. That is the purpose behind My Recovery Buddy. WENY TV did an interview with Karen Agnello here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=37&v=O63rTL53z4E. You can readily feel how much those little stuffed "buddies" are appreciated. Something to hold on to when things seem to be going south. A big hug of love from your heart to someone who needs you. Making a connection to let someone know they are not alone!
Lets get down to brass tacks, how can YOU as a knitter or a crocheter help "My Recovery Buddy"? First here's the website with the guidelines: http://www.myrecoverybuddy.net/#!guidelines/ckr2 . Always read the guidelines! Its so exciting to give a gift that you KNOW is going to help someone, a child with cancer or a soldier recovering from PTSD. Next you can check out the patterns: crochet http://www.myrecoverybuddy.net/#!crochet-patterns/c1ww6 or Knit http://www.myrecoverybuddy.net/#!knit-patterns/c1gu9. Remember these are going to people to help alleviate some of their struggle so make them "Huggable". As knitters and crocheters we are all about huggable :) Just to give you a little incentive here's a picture or two of finished buddies and their new friends http://www.myrecoverybuddy.net/#!homecoming/c1ojk also: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/my-recovery-buddy
If you do not knit or crochet any donations to My Recovery Buddy are tax deductible: http://www.myrecoverybuddy.net/#!faq/czl8. They will also happily accept donations of materials so that others can knit up or crochet "buddies"
Struggle is part of the human experience. We have all been there but some really experience the full weight of pain. As a person of deep personal faith I rely on God and my praying friends to help me. As does my friend who, as I write this, is working to help addicts. Even so there are times when life is overwhelming. If you've experienced those moments you know what I mean. Think what marvelous things ONE recovery buddy can do. Perhaps a buddy will be passed along from one person having gone through a trauma to another? Ever widening circles of relief because you took the time to care. That is what its all about. Thank you for caring enough to read this blog today. Have a beautiful Sunday.
As you know credit my amazing customers with helping me find great designers to highlight. Today's designer is no exception! A friend wrote to me looking to purchase an skirt and bolero for her spirited little girl who has a style all her own. Right down to her pink cowgirl boots :) I knew immediately which skirt I would pick! A design by Annastasia Cruz of My Treasured Heirlooms.
Annastasia Cruz has been crocheting, knitting, sewing, smocking, for many years. In her own words "My name is Annastasia Cruz. I am the person behind My Treasured Heirlooms. I love using my hands to create something beautiful. I am almost always carrying some sort of project with me. I have been crocheting for 20+ years, knitting for 15+ years, sewing for I don’t know how many years and smocking for 13+ years. Wow that’s alot of years." http://mytreasuredheirlooms.com/?page_id=2 That IS a lot of years. I'm a mere beginner compared to some of the designers from whom I purchase patterns.
My Treasured Heirlooms has some truly beautiful patterns available for little girls. Totally priceless patterns that I would be proud to have made for my own daughter when she was a child. The best part about My Treasured Heirlooms is that there are so MANY different kinds of projects to choose from all carefully tested. "I also have several self published patterns, most of which have been tested by multiple testers. All the girls pattern have been professionally tech edited to ensure accuracy. You can find those patterns on my ravelry page, in my etsy store, or on craftsy. Right now I have my free patterns available on my ravelry page. You can also find me, and some of my personal favorite pages, here on pinterest" This aspect of Annastasia Cruz's work is vital because patterns that are not well tested are not vetted for errors. Errors, that for me, lead to frustration as I have a friends waiting for the work to be completed. http://mytreasuredheirlooms.com/?page_id=2 REMEMBER please that My Treasured Heirlooms is a source of income and pride please give credit where credit is due!
For my part I have purchased the pattern and yarn for the Triple Ruffle Skirt. You cannot even imagine how perfect this pattern is for the little girl who will be the recipient. (A little girl I've known since she was born) It will look absolutely perfect with her cowgirl boots!
Of course my regular readers know all about my daughter's mad love for making doll clothes. Well Annastasia Cruz has us covered there too. Lots of adorable patterns for the Blythe and 18" (American Girl) sized dolls! Such clever designs! My favorite Blythe doll Design: https://www.etsy.com/listing/74454003/blythe-cable-knit-sweater-pattern-doll?ref=related-2 My favorite 18" Doll Design (to match the Triple Ruffle Skirt) https://www.etsy.com/listing/115313407/triple-ruffle-skirt-crochet-pattern-to?ref=shop_home_active_7
One thing that has not been mentioned is that My Treasured Heirlooms is on Facebook so for all of you, like me who enjoy keeping up with the latest. Check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/656044857778019/ Join the group and see what is coming up next in My Treasured Heirlooms.
In short Annastasia Cruz is my kind of designer. Patterns that I would give as gifts to my own family. The rule of thumb is give a gift you would like to get yourself. My Treasured Heirlooms is filled with many things that I would most definitely like to have given my own daughter.
Okay by now you know me well enough to know how much I enjoy finding and writing about great indy designer. I found a very exciting and enthusiastic designer to share with you today. Susan Carlson is as beautiful as her designs. I know you are going to LOVE her work.
I first ran across designs from the Felted Button on The WHOot. (another site I am completely addicted to) The design was called the "Spring into Summer Blanket" and uses one of my favorite techniques to create a beautiful pattern you can find it here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/spring-into-summer-blanket on Ravelry. (If you are in any way involved with crocheting, weaving, knitting, or spinning you should be on Ravelry. Its a great resource. ) The Blanket pattern is free and a great way to learn a new crocheting skill!
The first thing I noticed is that Susan Carlson has got to be one of the most prolific pattern designers I have come across since my blog on "Zooty Owl". Color, color, color and more color. Amazing. Her career began much like my own... inspired to pick up her crochet hook after many long years away from the art by bloggers who caught her attention. I love her description of her experience "...I picked up my hook and began hooking again. I was smitten--as it quieted my "noisy" brain and allowed me to make beautiful yarny things." Boy has it allowed her to create many beautiful yarny things. Wow! Everything from a child's teepee, to blankets, to mittens! Everything made with great colors and textures!
You can find all of her designs on http://www.feltedbutton.com. There are some beautiful crocheted throws on her page that I think would make a great edition to any decor. For instance the Pansy Parade Blanket pictured here: http://www.feltedbutton.com/p/my-patterns_26.html (scroll down) is so pretty and would make a great piece for a child's room or a favorite chair. Susan Carlson has a world of delights for crocheters interesting patterns, shapes, textures, colors, wearable, gift-able, joy. Check out all of her designs including the Treasures in Sand Wrap and the Ombre Ruffle blanket. Spectacular! Felted Button can be found all over the web so exploring the bright, beautiful world of color presented by Susan Carlson is very easy you can even subscribe to her newsletter!
I am certain that once you see Susan Carlson's designs you'll be as charmed as I was by her contagious l love of color!
"Today a young friend of mine posted the most adorable picture of her Elementary school aged daughter, a little friend, and herself out on a girls night. Top down on the convertible and out "on the town". SO CUTE! I thought of how many moms and dads would be standing by a bassinet at a hospital talking about days ahead when they'd be out on dad/ daughter dinners or mom/son T-ball games. The Preemie Project is an organization out to make sure that every preemie possible has a great start in life! Knitters, crocheters, and anyone with a knack with a round loom can help! Its pretty easy too :)
The Preemie Project is a fabulous project started on and by Mamashealth.com http://www.mamashealth.com/preciouspreemie/aboutus.asp. Some of you are probably familiar with mamashealth.com. Its a website designed to help with CLEAR easy to understand health information and its goal is to put the power in the hands of people. Which is why it makes total sense for this website to sponsor a charity like Precious Preemies. "Each month, we send hand-knitted and crochet hats to hospitals with NICUs (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) in the United States. The donation of hats is our way of sharing hope and love to make their lives and their families' lives better. Knit or crochet with us and help us give hope to a premature baby and their family."
mamashealth.com doesn't just stop at giving hats to preemie babies. Because its a site full of health information mamashealth.com gives help to those parents who have a preemie baby for which to care. http://www.mamashealth.com/preemie/preemie.asp There are informative videos, stories from other preemie moms and dads. Lots of inspiration and support. I've told you my own story about my grandmother, she was a fighter as are most preemies. I never cease to be amazed at their strength, their parents love, the doctors and nurses to provide their care everyone working in concert to give those infants in their care the best chance at being healthy and happy. However, the Preemie Project believes that WE as the community around these little bundles of tenacity can and should play a role in helping their fight.
How can you help? Well as the quote above states they need hand knit, crocheted or loomed hats to help the babies stay warm.
When donating yarn please use this link to help you decide on what yarns would be best for donation. http://www.mamashealth.com/preciouspreemie/help.asp
As you can see from the links above The Preemie Project does have a presence on the web so don't be shy! Sign up for the mailing list, join them on facebook or Pinterest. See what they are up to and what the goals are for the future. Also check out their page on Giving Artfully. (You know that's my new fav. charity site) http://www.givingartfully.com/campaigns/precious-precious-project/ Now Giving Artfully is in the process of updating (as is Weebly thus some of the "funky" typeface you see on the page) Why not join them in helping our tiniest members grow and thrive?
Depending on needs and resources, silk yarn is an excellent fiber with which to work. Durable, lightweight, and extremely strong, silk has been used in a number of industries, from fishing lines to car tires. I often wonder if people would look at it differently if they knew it was a product of caterpillar spit. Yes, that’s right, caterpillar spit.
The Chinese silkworm (Bombyx mori) has been domesticated for thousands of years for the sole purpose of manufacturing silk. They have been domesticated for so long that they are no longer capable of living in the wild and have since gone extinct. But rest assured, the domestic variety shows no signs of going anywhere. The Chinese were the first to domesticate the silkworm, and silk became an important feature of the Chinese economy early on, leading to the now famous silk road, which carried the fiber all the way to Rome. Silk was at one time as ubiquitous as nylon and cotton are today. Everyone wore it. Thus the Chinese were always very protective of silk production, and smuggling silkworms out of China carried the death penalty at one time. Eventually, one way or another, they made their way out of China and are now raised on virtually every continent. After going out of style briefly upon the advent of synthetic fibers, silk is coming back in, often mixed with other fibers. (Check out http://www.knitpicks.com/yarns/Gloss_DK_Yarn__D5420190.html )
The silkworm is, of course, the larval form of the silkmoth. After gorging themselves on mulberry leaves for about six weeks, the two inch long silkworms spin a cocoon of silk around themselves, which is then steamed to collect the silk. Yes, they are steamed while the pupa is still inside. They did not die in vain. The cocoons can yield up to a half mile of silk fiber!
The cocoons that are not steamed are allowed to metamorphose into medium sized white, fuzzy moths. The cocoons are still usable after the adults have emerged, but the fibers are significantly lower in quality. In order to emerge from the cocoon, the adults secrete an enzyme that partially dissolves the fibers. They essentially have to eat their way out, and no one wants half-eaten silk.
The adults live for a few days, just long enough to mate and lay eggs, then they die. The eggs pass through a dormant period (they have to be kept cold) before hatching into tiny caterpillars and the process begins again.
Those brave enough are welcome to try raising silkworms themselves, I’m given to understand it’s fairly simple. This is a good website on the subject of raising silkworms.
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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.