I am not going to rehash the news but let us face facts, Americans need a way to pull together and Fiber artists may just have a way forward through charities such as Warm-Up America. With a 26 year history behind it, Warm-Up America is an ocean of knitters, crocheters and sewists who have a goal of healing.
I remember the first time I saw a Warm-Up America donation box in JoAnn Fabric and Crafts stores. I really did not know anything about WUA so I picked up a brochure to learn more about their goals. It seemed like a lot of work to take squares from all around the world and sew them together into blankets. However, as volunteer coordinator for 2 charities, I learned very quickly that fast finish projects that bring people from all around the country and indeed the globe together, are an amazing force for hope. Imagine taking squares from all corners of the country, and sewing them together to make one blanket that represents us all! What a great concept. At the time of the writing of this blog WUA offers several ways to contribute and offers excellent suggestions on creating crafting groups. Spectacular.
Current projects at WUA include
I don't think I have to tell you how difficult this past year has been on the United States of America, indeed the world. Natural disasters, fires, accidents, conflict... it's been quite a ride. However, fiber artists choose to focus on what we can do to help. WUA is a close "knit" organization reaches out to those groups listed above, forms partnerships, and then distributes it's donations based on a first come basis. "The Foundation maintains a request list of charitable agencies, which provide services to homeless, battered women's shelters and people in need. As afghan blankets are received at the Foundation, they are shipped to the agency on the top of the list. Contact is maintained with the agencies on the Foundation's database before and after shipping the afghans." warmupamerica.org/howWUAworks.html WUA put out a call for afghans to be distributed after hurricane Harvey, (an ongoing project) word spread quickly throughout the fiber arts community on facebook. Because the track record of WUA is so trusted people naturally began to contribute immediately. This is the kind of track record all of us who are volunteer coordinators can only hope to establish! Of course financial donations are accepted please see the WUA website for details.
Does WUA only accept afghan or afghan squares? No! :) They will accept any new, handmade winter warm item from hats to socks, as you no doubt noticed from their Made with Love project. The Frequently Asked Questions on the WUA website clears up what they accept and what they do not accept. Caps, mittens, scarves, gloves, socks, and baby caps are all accepted. In fact Warm-Up America has patterns both on their website and on Ravelry for items you can donate to WUA. No doubt if you look around on Ravelry or google you will find other "unofficial" patterns not listed on the website or on Ravelry. Choose your favorite pattern but make sure it follows the parameters for donation to WUA
We have all heard that desperate times call for desperate measures, but I say desperate times call for intense devotion to peace and altruism. If you are a fiber artist there are several worthy causes to which you can donate. Ask friends, ask on social networking or if those avenues do not work read the Charity Idea Outpost blog postings here on Out of the Parc Designs. Every Sunday I attempt to help fiber artists find new and exciting ways to donate. Thank you for being willing to share of yourself, to give, to offer hope, to stand in the gap for others. From the bottom of my heart.
Somehow I missed the grand re-launch of one of my favorite, online, indy, knitting and crocheting magazines. How? I have no idea! Today I was taking a look at this beautiful shawl that someone had started knitting in one of my many knitting and crocheting groups only to find out it was a pattern from Knotions.com! Wow. I erased the blog post I was doing in favor of a quick intro to my favorite new/old magazine. Knotions re-imagined magazine sports some fantastic features for your browsing and reading pleasure.
The re-launch of Knotions is a real asset to knitters and crocheters because you can reach the site from all your devices! The idea is to learn to knit and crochet smarter. This is an idea we can appreciate. :) First the facts: This online magazine is free but doesn't scrimp on design. They do not cut back on pictures or design features. The magazine has a clean look, no clutter, no excess pictures, or clipart. Navigating the page couldn't be easier. With an accessible navigation bar and search box one can find exactly what they need quickly. As a person with dyslexia this clean/clear look is highly valued. Knotions is responsive to questions or to comments on the magazine. Jody Richards, the kind founder of Knotions, "Jody’s mission for knotions is to make crafters better"
I will not take the time to rehash everything at Knotions because it's MUCH better to check it out yourself. However, allow me to highlight some great features of the magazine for you. First, of course the current issue is prominently featured on the front page of the desktop version along with the latest tutorials. Who doesn't love a good tutorial? The current issue has some fabulous patterns including my favorite, the Little Gardener's Pinafore. There is something for every skill level of knitter/crocheter. Including very unique and beautiful creations like the Forest Shawl which, as it happens, doesn't seem so hard to create! I look at color color changes in shawls like the Forest Shawl and cringe a little. However, reading the description that precedes the pattern, I'm not quite so intimidated. (a minor miracle LOL)
The next feature that I thought was super useful is the pattern archive. Instead of plowing through all the pages of every magazine to find a pattern you might want to create, the "Pattern" button in the toolbar sends you directly to a list of all the pattern links with photos of each. The Archives go all the way back to 2008. (one of the very versatile shawls is "False Modesty" stole/scarf/shawl published 2008) This feature makes the magazine much more user friendly! (Whew! Right?)
There is a direct link on Knotions to the techniques covered in the magazine. Another user friendly feature. I do not like having to pick through a page to try to find the search box or an index to the website/magazine's contents. Make it clear and easy. The tutorials page contains very cool tutorials for things like a Magic Knot . This is a way to join yarns that does NOT require a darning needle. (Score!) Additionally there are tutorials for "Cables Without a Cable Needle" (that got my attention) and also a tutorial for yarn substitution "Ready, Set, Sub". Intrigued yet?
Readers will find links to some of their most popular subjects, socks and shawls along with the extremely useful ebooks! The ebooks include "Sockstar" written by Jody Richards. Sockstar sells for $5.95 on the Knotions.com webpage. The second ebook is entitled "Hatstar" by Elizabeth Felgate and retails at $12.95 on Knotions. There is a free preview available so check it out!
Knotions is also a blog! Yes, you can read book reviews, the latest on knit-a-longs, and even give-a-ways! One of my favorite articles is "Another Way to Look at Failure". We all have those projects that we look at and wonder what we did wrong... or if we should have taken that commission. Yes I wonder that a lot myself. (especially this time of year!) The whole process of designing is one I've thought about several times however, I do not design patterns for others to use. I usually design a project and then other knitters/crocheters wonder how the heck I managed it LOL! However, there is a very useful article for those wondering about whether to go down the road of designing patterns; "To Be or Not To Be a Designer" by Kristel Nyberg. These are great articles to encourage all of us who are looking to be "Better Crafters".
Well I won't take any more of the fun out of surfing through "Knotions" magazine. Please tell them hello and thank you for all their hard work. It is not easy to put out a high quality magazine on the internet, the competition is stiff. I want to thank Jody Richardson for all her tenacity and skill. She has done an excellent job with Knotions. Find Knotions on Facebook.
Hello, everyone. This is Ian Wilson. My dear mother is having a rough weekend, so I’m taking over for her once again. So last time I wrote, I wrote about unusual hybrid animals that are used for making yarn fiber. Well, turns out I missed one. It’s known as a Paco-vicuña.
The Paco-vicuña is a cross breed between the alpaca and an animal known as a vicuña. The alpaca is essentially the domestic cousin of the vicuña. It’s the same as if you crossbred a labrador with a wolf. The vicuña was domesticated by indigenous Americans in the highlands of South America about 6000 years ago. What a lot of people don’t realize is that until Columbus landed in 1492, there were no horses, cows, sheep, pigs or goats on the American Continent. Actually, that’s not true; there were a few horses, but they went extinct millennia before Columbus. So having none of these animals to work with, the indigenous peoples had to make do with what they had. So in a moment of ingenuity, they domesticated the vicuña and it’s larger relative, the guanaco. The vicuña eventually evolved into what we now know as the alpaca and the guanaco became the llama.
“But wait!” you cry. “What’s the difference between a llama and alpaca?” Excellent question. Llamas are significantly larger and more aggressive than alpacas. They’re as tall as some horses. The Indigenous peoples of the Andean Highlands use llamas for their warm fibers, as beasts of burden, and for their meat. Alpacas are quite a bit smaller, and have a much more even temperament. Because of their size, they’re really only used for fleece. Basically the same differences exist between the vicuña and guanaco.
So back to the paco-vicuña. Why would one desire to cross an alpaca with a vicuña? Well, vicuñas are well adapted to a multitude of different terrains and environments; even more so than the alpaca, which I am told are some of the easiest livestock to keep. Their fleece is probably the main draw. It’s softness and weather-proof qualities are superior to even the alpaca. However, they are wild animals, and getting them to cooperate would be challenging to say the least. Additionally, the vicuña is a threatened species in the wild, and becoming increasingly rare. So breeders had the idea to crossbreed the alpaca and the vicuña to circumvent these issues. The paco-vicuña has the even temperament of the alpaca and the fleece of the vicuña. All in all, a pretty handy critter to have around the farm. And don’t even get me started on the fertilizer....
Grandmother's birthday also happens to be I Love Yarn Day. When I was a little girl, my Grandmother, Iola Foreman, taught me to crochet a little chain and also taught me finger crochet. She was very patient with everyone and very gracious. My gram passed away when I was still a child but her legacy lives on. Therefore, today, I thought it would be appropriate to write about a fantastic crochet artist in honor of my Grandmother. She surely would have appreciated the resurgence of crochet and all the variants of yarn.
Iola and Floyd Foreman
Crochet has come a long way and at the same time remained very much the same. In the latest revival of the fine art of Crochet, artists have found great ways to integrate the new yarns to make traditional stitches look brand new. These styles will be appreciated for years to come. Stephanie, designer at Stitch Me In has a wonderful collection of classic lines, fresh designs, and wonderful yarn combinations. Fabulous!
On I love yarn day, I bought yarn, because what else would I do? I was cruising through the latest designs on Ravelry when up popped this fabulous baby blanket. I simply could not take my eyes off of the color combination and stitches. I clicked the link to the "Micah's Ladder Baby Blanket" immediately, to find a wealth of wonder designed by Stephanie. :) Aren't the color combinations in the Micah's Ladder blanket cool? Stephanie has a great eye for color and texture.
In honor of my Gram, there are a few designs on Stitch Me In I wanted to highlight that feature the combination of both sewing and crocheting. The days of the Great Depression and World War II taught people to use everything at their disposal. My family had a few pieces in which left over fabric was combined with knitting or crocheting to create home decor or blankets. I have a couple of small pieces using small sections of wool blanket as batting for a child's quilt. Stephanie combines the art of sewing with the art of crochet in both My First Crochet Quilt and the Crochet Joined Quilt With A Granny Edge. I love this vintage look and the modern color/fabric combinations are practically endless.
The fact is on this day when yarnnies appreciate our yarn stash, I confess, I have way too much yarn in children's or baby colors. LOL I know y'all are shocked. However, when I looked through the patterns at Stitch Me In I could see how all that yarn could be easily used up. (It would help if I had more hours in the day!) Along with Micah's Ladder Baby Blanket there is Piper's First Steps Baby Blanket to commemorate her niece's first steps (very cute idea). Piper is a very lucky little girl :) The combination of stitches and colors in Piper's blanket are fantastic AND if you are a little unsure of how to create the mesh look featured in the pattern there is a tutorial! YAY! Another pattern that has a bit of a vintage flare is Evie's Lapghan using Stephanie's, Penny's Willow Square pattern. The colors in Evie's Lapghan are beautiful! Stephanie chose perfect color combinations to create this lapghan for her own grandmother! There is a tutorial on the joining method Stephanie used to connect all the squares together. (Thank you!) I could see this in a little girl's room as the colors are muted and would go with just about any room decor. Kids love having their own grown-up blanket.
It's that time of year when a lot of us are taking stock of what Fall/winter clothes we might need or thinking about holiday gifts. (Of course our favorite charities will be looking for warm clothing donations especially with all of the natural disasters the USA has faced in just a few short months) Stitch Me In has created designs for both men and women. You know how hard it is to find good designs for men! You know you cannot go wrong with a good Basic Beanie/hat/toque. Stephanie has created different styles and sizes out of one basic hat. Cool! In late Fall my husband wears a nice, not frilly, scarf with his school coat. I know the travails of trying to create a scarf that was just right. Apparently Stephanie went through the same thing and it inspired her to create a pattern for a Men's Color Block Scarf. She liked the Men's Color Block Scarf so much she created a lovely version for herself, the Autumn Glory Circle Scarf . Both scarves would be perfect as gifts or for donation. If you are more the triangle scarf/shawl person, check out Kitty's Something New Scarf/Shawl, for sale on Ravelry. Stephanie sent her pattern out for testing and then displayed all the variations of the shawl on her website.
Stephanie's webpage has a lot of great ideas and designs I did not share in today's blog so click the links and check those out for yourself! Stitch Me In has a Facebook page which is updated with the latest and greatest designs from the hook of Stephanie. Please don't forget to say thank you for all the great work and free patterns! ;) Thank you for stopping by today and reading the blog. It is appreciated more than you know!
It's Fall here in the Northern Adirondacks. Usually we are surrounded by bright red hues in the leaves on the sumacs, and maple trees. This year the trees are a orange and bright yellow/greens. Beautiful!
Everyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows how much I love bright color, especially for children. I realized I had never written a blog post about colors! That is the theme of today's blog.
There is, in fact, psychology that goes behind the choice of color. There is a reason to think about color choices when sewing, knitting, crocheting, weaving, or loom knitting for charity. If our purpose is to bring hope, then we ought to think about hopeful, happy, or peaceful color choices right? My daughter, T.k. and I spend quite a bit of time choosing colors for our projects. We stack up all the yarn on the beds and choose which colors we want to put together with which project. (though we have the hardest time with our gradient yarns like Caron Cakes LOL) The Spruce has a great primer on color which lays out all the ins-and-outs of color choice! I recommend crafters read it. I've always been partial to a mix of primary and secondary colors. Red, yellow, blue, the primary colors and the corresponding secondary colors, green, orange and violet, have always been a good starting place for me.
There are some knit and crochet designers that are very color conscious. In fact the Crochet Crowd has an entire plethora of articles on the color wheel. Fueled by the color artists at Yarnspirations, the yarn choices are pretty amazing. The color card combinations at the Crochet Crowd's webpage would keep any artist plenty busy. Color theory basics are discussed at Lion Brand Yarn. Lucy at Attic24 is a genius with color combinations. Color is discussed in some length in this blog post on her typepad page. In fact in the UK she has partnered with Wool Warehouse to create yarn packs to match the projects she has created on her website. Susan Carlson of the Felted Button is very big into bright and colorful crocheted creations. Admittedly some of her creations are not within my current skill set, however they are all spectacular! Lots of lovely color combinations with great textures! If you are ready to play with a little color I recommend Susan Carlson's Citrus Stripe Blanket , Lucy's Cozy Stripe Blanket, or Zelna Oliver's Cosmos Fields Shawl
Knitters, I don't know about you but I like color even in my knitting. Pattern designers who like color in their knitting can be a bit challenging to find. I don't do "colorwork" or "stranded" patterns. (I simply do not have time) I do less knitting now, probably because I cannot find the color that feeds the soul. However, it's easy enough to find all the color you want in the color palettes found in catalogs from your favorite yarn companies, ie Lion Brand, Willow Yarns, Knit Picks, Herrschners or Mary Maxim. Using these color palettes with your favorite yarns or with yarn leftovers, and a basic knitting pattern will give you a great idea what yarns work together. Ready to practice? The Garter Chevron Blanket by Mina Philipp, also the aptly named Loops & Threads Colorwheel Chevron Baby Blanket (would also make a good lap blanket),or the Van Smoot shawl by The Cashmere Junkie
Even my son, who is really pretty sedate in his color choices likes a bit of red or bright blue in his clothes. As I thought about today's post, I wanted to be sure to include a note about crafting for men. Don't be afraid to add a small stripe of color. It just shows that you put some thought into what you made for them. As crafters we always strive to do our best for others but I think the rule of thumb my mom taught me was the best. Always give someone a gift that you would want to receive yourself.
It is that time of year again! I am putting in a plug for Northern Adirondack Hats for Hope Initiative in NY.
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time you know that this charitable group is a Spin-Off Group from Emily's Hats for Hope Initiative. Our Spin-off was started by 5 women, including myself, (full disclosure) in the Northern Adirondacks who saw a need for providing warm accessories for our friends and neighbors.
It is a hard thing to see friends and neighbors struggle to make ends meet to the point where they cannot afford truly warm clothes for their families. My family and I have many wonderful friends who had been asking themselves the same question: "How can we get organized to help?" After doing a lot of research and seeking information on other groups in the area, the answer finally came a year ago when we approached Emily's Hats For Hope Initiative for their support in setting up a spin-off group. They graciously offered their help. (yes there are several spin-off groups around the world! Check to see if there is a group near you!) That is a thumbnail sketch of our history. Not long ago we celebrated one year of being in operation, of making a difference. I've been amazed at how many people have told us they are so happy to have a group like ours in this region.
Oddly there was a glitch in a post from last year and the entire post got cut in half. As a result I am going to republish that blog post in this week's Idea OUTpost:
Truly Free Ebooks for Knitters and Crocheters: (ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 11/20/2016)
Many of our larger yarn and wool companies do us the favor of producing FREE ebooks for use in charity work. We've covered this idea before on the blog but with my patch of the Adirondacks expecting 11-18 inches of snow, (as seen above) I thought today would be a great day to update!
The easiest way for me to keep this blog organized was to try to do this by yarn company. As you know companies that produce yarns, patterns, books, and tools for fiber artists change hands a lot so sometimes we have to go to the good old Way Back machine at Archive.org to find and mine the goodies. I think it's marvelous that we have these amazing resources at our disposal don't you?
Red Heart, owned by Coats and Clark, produce many affordable yarns, tools, and patterns for our use. I once was one of those people who refused to use Red Heart yarns because their basic yarns were not very high quality. However, and happily so, Red Heart has vastly improved their yarns and their tools over the last few years to be competitive. Lets check out their offerings of free ebooks for charity.
Yarnspirations has done us the favor of putting some of their patterns on ISSUU. Yarnspirations encompasses some of our favorite yarn companies all rolled into one great site. Bernat, Patons, Caron and Lily Sugar & Cream. ISSUU is a great site for finding lots of cool things like pattern books or "lookbooks". I love it. (and Its free)
Last but not least there's Archive.org a great resource for older Paton's projects here: Knitting magazines? Yes right here. How about crocheted hats? Yes right here. Crochet Today magazines! Yes right here.
So today's Charity Idea OUTpost is finished. I hope you find something useful to get you on your way to donation!
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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.