Friday, February 5, 2016

Stash Busting

After being on Ravelry (an on-line community for knitters, crocheters, spinners, and weavers) for over five years, I finally took advantage of the Stash feature in December of 2014. I took out my entire stash of yarn and photographed it, uploading the photos and information about the yarn (including where it was stored) to Ravelry. What an enormous help that has turned out to be. Now I know exactly what I have (and where it's hiding!). I also browse through my stash photos whenever I feel tempted by pretty, new yarns. Looking through what I already have reminds me to appreciate - and use - what I already own.

For the past thirteen months, I have made a concerted effort to knit up my stash. Not just the new skeins that I just had to have (way back when) and still haven't gotten to, but also all of the partial skeins, bits and bobs left over from other projects. I didn't get around to updating my entire stash library last December, but now as I go I post updated photos. It's so rewarding to see my stock of yarns dwindling down. I truly think I could knit only with the yarn I already have for at least five more years before I even got close to being "out of yarn". 

I am so glad to have gotten out of the (very common) mindset of "have to have it". I felt that way about the yarn I already have, and I still haven't used most of that. Why would I want to keep adding more and more? I am trying to simplify and declutter the rest of my house, and my yarn stash definitely needs the same attention. I have knitted and crocheted up a fair amount of stash yarn in the last thirteen months. I have given some yarn away, and I have even (gasp!) thrown out some horribly scratchy yarn that was given to me years ago with the best of intentions by a lovely knitter. I am continuing in 2016 to happily put into service the beautiful yarn I already own. If I find I don't have something suitable for a specific project, I will buy more yarn. But mostly, I am thinking of projects to make that will use what I already have, and enjoying every moment.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Get Out of Jail Free

Many years ago, my husband received this game as a going away present after working for an organization for five years. He was insulted, to say the least. After letting this game take up space in our home for over twenty years, I was all set to throw the pieces into the recycling, when I had one of those "I'm havng a thought here, Barbossa" moments. (Still in love with Captain Jack Sparrow, can't be helped).
A thin coat of gesso applied with a card. That's better already.
Might as well stick with the theme. The printed pages were the game instructions.
Whoa! Just a little too bright, maybe? Actually, by this point I had already painted, gessoed over, and repainted the background. 
Adding marks. I used a stencil, the edge of a credit card, bubble wrap, the oval plastic piece that comes in a stick deodorant, and the circle is the extra handle from a cooking pot (long story). The solid white rectangles were made with a sponge, and the open small, white squares and rectangles were made with the bottoms of a house and a hotel from the game.
I waned to use lots of elements from the game. The tree was painted in black acrylic.
Adding details. I stamped a swirly line over the property cards using Staz On ink, used the Community Chest cards (enhanced with paint) for the windows and doors. Tree was accented with a Posca pen and a water-based Sharpie poster pen. 
I smudged white paint around the houses and upwards to soften some of the brightness of the sky and to create the illusion of fog. I added shading to the houses with colored pencils, did outlining with various pens, and covered the windows with Glossy Accents to make them shine.
The back.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Repurposed Boxes

We recently bought a bunch of thermal shirts, and I thought the boxes they came in would make great drawers for storing crafting supplies. I covered the top and sides with recycled, painted printer paper, and gave it a coat of Mod Podge. I painted the front of the drawer, too. I may end up decorating the box more, but for now I like it as it is. I need to decide if I am going to glue all the boxes together in a stack or not.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lady Bountiful Syndrome

"Luckily, the homeless shelters will take everything..."
                          a knitter on Instagram

A knitter posted a picture on Instagram today of a hat that had turned out too small for her, then added the above comment. 


Unfortunately, I see suggestions of this kind of attitude all the time. On the one hand, many people very kindly put a lot of time and effort into making things for people in need, and that's wonderful. On the other hand, quite a few of those people make no bones of the fact that they are using their, shall we say, less desirable yarns to do so. Often, combining odd balls of yarn left over from other projects with no thought for aesthetics. Of course, not for nothing do they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so maybe I should just shut up about that.

But here's the thing. I have noticed a dichotomy between knitted and crocheted items destined for cancer wards and old age homes, and those being sent to, for example, homeless shelters. Anyone might end up in either of the first two places, after all. But homeless shelters? Well, that's a whole different ball of wax. Or so these folks seem to think.

I don't even know if the people (like the knitter quoted above) even realize the implications behind what they are saying. I see it all the time. "Oh, they are / should be so grateful for anything they get."

This kind of attitude really pisses me off. I mean, REALLY pisses me off. I call it Lady Bountiful Syndrome (Lady Bountiful was a character in an 18th century play called The Beaux' Strategem, by George Farquhar. The term has come to be used to describe "an over-patronising woman, showing off her wealth by acts of overwhelming generosity"). I tend to use the term to describe people who take great pride in their "gracious assistance to poor unfortunates" (I put that in quotation marks because it seems to me that is exactly how they think of their actions, deep in their hearts).

Of course, not all people who knit, crochet, sew, or whatever for others think or feel that way! But I have to wonder if there isn't some sort of unconscious discrimination going on. People who are ill, or elderly, are somehow "better" than people who don't have a place to live. Every now and again, like today, I see something that makes me believe that, sadly, many people really do think that way (whether they realize it or not).

In a way, I think it is somewhat connected to whether one thinks of crafting for people in need to be charity, or not. Charity is a word that is used all the time, mostly with the best of intentions. I believe it has different connotations to different people, though. To me, it sounds a little condescending. In Hebrew, the word usually translated as "charity" - tzedaka - actually means righteousness or justice. In other words, doing the right thing. I tend to think of the knitted objects I send to various organizations not as charity, but as community knitting, because I am making things for people who are part of the community of the world, just as I am.

Your thoughts?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

If Hats Could Heal

On Thursday night I had the opporunity to meet a young man whose basketball skills I have admired and respected for several years. He is such a lovely person, I can't tell you how lucky I feel to have gotten the chance to get to know him a little. Avi and I are hoping to invite him (and his wife and baby daughter) over for a meal, soon.

Sadly, his wife and daughter are currently in the US visiting her mother, who has cancer. The family is trying to raise money for all of her treatments and care, and there is a fundraising site with information. Since I was aware of the situation, I spoke with the young man about it, and he told me how hard it was for his wife to see her mother losing her hair (due to the chemotherapy treatments). Of course, I immediately offered to make a hat. And here it is.

The yarn is super soft, and I hope the hat will feel warm and soothing. I only wish I could do more.

Monday, January 5, 2015

First Finish

I am very excited about my first finished project for 2015 for a couple of reasons. First, it is part of my 50 States Project, and will soon be on its way to West Virginia. Second, it was the oldest project I still had on the needles, started almost three years (!!) ago in February of 2012. For some reason, after knitting the front, back and most of one sleeve, I just put this project aside and pretty much forgot about it. It took just about two hours to finish it. So silly.

Since I have given so much thought lately to the things I do and don't enjoy knitting, I will probably focus on hats for my project from now on. Hats go so quickly and don't need much yarn, and look fabulous with stripes or colorwork, which will be great for all of the leftovers I've got. 

Except I think I want to make at least one scarf for the Red Scarf Project. Just no more sweaters for a while. Even when they are tiny, garter stitch sweaters, they seem more daunting to me. But who could be daunted by a simple hat?

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Happy 2015! I never got around to posting a roundup of all of my completed knitting and crocheting projects (and there were even some sewing projects!) of 2014. Or, for that matter, of my paper crafting projects. Rather than spend time making collages of all of the photos of finished items, I will just say that in 2014 I knit or crocheted 11 toys, 8 pairs of socks, 5 blankets, 4 squares that will be added to others and sewn into a blanket (not by me), 3 pairs of fingerless mitts, 2 hats, 1 scrap of icord that I wear as a bracelet, and 1 shawl (no partridges or pear trees, though). I sewed 5 toys (I think it was five, eep), one Kindle cover, and one patchwork quilt top (sadly, still not made into a quilt yet). No clue how many cards I made, a lot. At least by my standards.

The photo above shows the knitting projects that are still in progress as we begin the new year. The green blob will be a sweater for me one day. I started it a couple of years ago, and of course it always gets moved to the back burner as I find things I want to make for others. The pastel colored baby sweater is meant to go to an organization in Appalachia (possibly Kentucky, I don't recall at the moment. I started this tiny thing years ago, and I really must get it done! It only needs a sleeve and a half, for goodness' sake!). The gray sock for a friend was started on December 25, 2014 and will be finished in short order. The lavender item will be a bathrobe for Liat. It was also started late in December. 

But of course I plan to start something new today, it seems only right to begin a new project with the start of a new year. It will be a pair of pink socks for Meital. I am also working on a new stamping project for my friend Kristy of Hopeful Threads. I will share more about that soon.

Appearances to the contrary, considering I am talking about having five knitting projects going on at one time, I have decided that the theme for this year is going to be Simplify. By that I mean decluttering my home and my head. Getting rid of the things I don't use or need, or that don't make me happy (yesterday's post also talked about this). It will also include cutting back on the number of people I follow on social media, especially those whose posts are mostly aimed at selling something. More power to them, but I prefer to see posts by people who simply enjoy what they do and like to share it, without regard for financial remuneration.

I also want to use up as much of my yarn stash as I can, and the plan is to knit much of it into hats, and possibly scarves, for my 50 states project. I have gotten rather lax about that, concentrating instead on making multiple things for the same few organizations. I still want to do what I can for them, but I also want to reach my goal and it won't happen just by thinking about it. As my husband is fond of saying, Dream big, but don't forget to wake up and start working on your dreams!  I would also love to make 12 pairs of socks this year, one pair per month. 

Liat and I are planning to do the 2015 Reading Challenge. You may have seen mention of it around the Internet. It is basically a list of 50 challenges to read various kinds of books. One challenge is to read a trilogy, so it works out to 52 books for the year. We probably won't read that many (espcially since she is a busy college student) but may, instead, find books that meet more than one challenge - for example, a book written by a woman and a book that is set in your hometown... It's an interesting list of challenges and should be a lot of fun.

Another challenge I have set for myself for this year is to try watercolor painting. I tend not to think of myself as artistic, so it will be a stretch for me to try making art that doesn't involve rubber stamps. But to go along with that (and, by the way, I don't plan to go out and buy a whole bunch of new supplies for that, except watercolor paper, as needed), I need to think seriously about my other interests, ones that are usually neglected, like cross stitching, scrapbooking, and sewing. I want to do all of them, but realistically speaking, I never get to them. It's time to face facts, and deacquisition some (all) of the stash I have for each of those hobbies. I have my tried-and-true hobbies that I work on actively, and the others are mostly just wishful thinking at this point. If I end up enjoying the watercoloring, I will make what I create into cards, so that kind of dovetails into my stamping/cardmaking hobby.

I think that's all more than enough to be going on with, don't you?? Should make for a fun and interesting year. I hope your 2015 is a wonderful one!