Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sit and Knit & Crochet at the Prayer Shawl Ministry at Washington Hospital Center Cancer Center

I have been knitting up a blue streak this summer as quiet as it's been kept. My freelance writing practice has really taken off, so I've been doing a lot of writing for clients and not enough for my own blogs.

But one thing that helps to keep me sane and centered is knitting prayer shawls for the Cancer Center at the Washington Hospital Center. We gather on the fourth Monday of each month and knit (actually, there are more crocheters than knitters in our group) prayer shawls to give to the women and men who are cancer patients at the hospital. I think it's been almost a year since I joined this group, and it has been a wonderfully rewarding experience for me.

Each month I knit a shawl to be donated to one of the cancer patients. We don't really get a chance to meet these people, so we are knitting anonymous gifts to bless people we don't know and most likely will never meet. As we knit or crochet the shawls we hold the recipient in prayer, and so the making of the shawl becomes not unlike a devotional in and of itself. As I knit each stitch I might silently repeat a mantra or whisper a prayer or just focus on feeling good so that the resulting shawl will be imbued with positive, healing, uplifting energy.

At each meeting as the shawls are given, they are blessed with a special prayer. I really enjoy going to the meetings because I enjoy the fellowship with the other women and because it is a time in my life where I set aside all of my other obligations and focus on this simple offering.

We work with yarn that gets donated by lots of generous crafts women, and for the most part we get acrylic and other man-made fiber yarns to create our shawls with. Being the unabashed yarn snob that I am, it has been challenging for me to work with these yarns. Well, a few months back we got a generous donation of some really nice, natural fiber yarns. I found a big bag of Rowan DK weight yarn in a soft, olive green. I grabbed it up and knit the Woodland Shawl http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/woodland-shawl on size 9US needles, and then instead of putting a fringe on it, I added single leaves coming out of an I-cord, as found in Nicky Epstein's, Knitting on the Edge: Ribs*Ruffles*Lace*Fringes*Flora*Points & Picots

Chris Vinh, the group's organizer, snapped this photo at the meeting:

With the leftover yarn I knit up a Damson shawl, which, when knit with fingering weight yarn works up to be a shoulderette shawl, came out to be a full sized shawl because I used the DK weight and size 9US needles. I think it looked spectacular, but it did not get as big a reaction as the Woodland Shawl. That shawl came out quite nice.

So, if you are a DC Metro area knitter and you are free on the fourth Monday of the month from noon-2pm, come join us at the Prayer Shawl Ministry. I get far more than I give from attending this ministry.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'll Be Speed Stitching for Charity on Sunday!

They are holding a 'Speed Knitting for Charity' event at Fibre Space in Alexandria, which is turning out to be my new fave LYS. I plan to be there on Sunday to participate, so I'm encouraging/laying down the gauntlet for all of my local D.C. knitting peeps to come on over to Fiber Space and whip up a hat for charity and a bit of good, clean fun.

The money for the entry fee will go to support Michelle, who is raising money to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. If you can't make it, but still want to make a hat to donate to the Washington Hospital Center Cancer Institute, visit the Fibre Space website to get all of the details.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Homespun Yarn Party in Savage Mill--A New Local Fiber Tradition

Yesterday I attended the Homespun Yarn Party, which took place at the historic Savage Mill in Savage, Maryland. It was about a 40 minute drive for me from D.C., but it was well worth the schlep.

This mini-fiber festival took place in a Civil War era textile mill, which has been converted to a marketplace with a bunch of adorable little shops.

The yarn party was held in the great room, which was packed to the gills with yarn, fiber and happy shoppers. It was about 72 degrees outside, and the room seemed to be about 80.

I stood in line for about 15 minutes before I was able to get into the space. I ran into several of my knit blogging buddies including CiCi from http://sistahsthatknit.blogspot.com/, and lots of other Ravelery peeps as well.

I didn't really buy anything as I saving my cash for my annual pilgrimage to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival that takes place on the first weekend in May (my birthday is May 3, so I like to pretend it's all for my Bday ;-) ) at the Howard County Fairgrounds.

My friend Claire was there with Knitters and Crocheters Care, a non-profit group that acts as a clearinghouse for collecting charity knitting and crochet items and distributing them to local charities, and they also collect donated yarn and disperse it to knitters and crocheters in the area who create the items that get donated.

But if you live in the area and you love yarn, knitting, spinning, or weaving there was lots of fun to be had by all. I ran into an acquaintance that I've not seen for years. She and a friend will be hosting the fabulous Shirley Paden for a special class in June. I will post more details on this as they become available. I just love Shirly Paden's designs because I love cables. I became a fan way back in the 90's when she designed one of the squares for the Great American Afghan that Interweave published a few squares at a time in their magazine.

So, now I'm adding the Homespun Yarn Party to my list of local fibery traditions. It's a wonderful warm-up for the MDS&W, and a great opportunity to meet up with folks that I usually only interact with online.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

March is National Craft Month: What Are You Making or Doing to Celebrate?

OK, so I'm aware that this is a knitting blog, but since I'm the boss if it, I get to decide what gets covered. I'm a hard-core crafter, and March is National Craft Month, so I'll be highlighting some of the crafts that I find enjoyable in addition to knitting.

Here's a fun video with some crafty ideas to inspire you:

I love doing crafts because it's something that my mom used to do with my siblings and me when we were growing up. My mom is also a knitter, but she also did crochet, macrame, she made hand-crafted books, did Calligraphy and drawing. We learned how to hand-carved rubber stamps, we did sewing, dollmaking, quilting and collage.

Being crafty and creative is a wonderful way to express yourself, it's just a ton of fun and a good way for parents and kids to spend, wait for it. . . quality time with their children. My kids love to use their crafty skills to make gifts for family members, and oy you should see my refrigerator and my office. That's our de facto 'gallery' where my girls hang their art pieces.

So, stick around and you'll get exposed to a few cool crafty ideas and projects.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Little Dresses for Africa

I was on Twitter on Sunday afternoon and I saw a tweet about a swap-bot.com swap involving 'Little Dresses for Africa.' Intrigued by the title, I clicked through and followed the link to find a wonderful website with pictures of beautiful African children wearing these adorable dresses. Each one is hand made with love and attention, and those little girls look so happy to be wearing new dresses that were made just for them.

So, I joined the swap and immediately went on an excursion to see if I had anything suitable in my fabric stash to whip up some little dresses. I did not really have enough pretty fabric, so I took a quick trip to Hancock fabrics, which is down the road from me in the Penn/Branch Shopping Center. They were having a sale, so I was able to get enough adorable cotton print fabrics to make 12 dresses for $34. Well, almost because that price does not include the thread and the elastic, but when I total it up, I think the cost for each dress will be about $3.50 each. Not bad.

My girls were thrilled and they wanted to help. We measured and cut the dresses on Sunday, and then yesterday, since Jordan had the day off from school, she and I made three dresses so that I could work the kinks out of the process. The next nine will be made in assembly-line fashion. It will be a fun, creative project.

As I was working on the first three samples, I thought how nice it would be to also send them to Haiti. I learned on Saturday from an interview I heard on XMradio between Deepak Chopra and Wyclef Jean, that 61% of the population of Haiti is under the age of 21. That's a lot of children, and the girls will need dresses. Leila quickly noticed that we should also be making boy clothes as well, on our next trip we'll get suitable fabric for britches for boys.

We had been feeling like we wanted to have more of an impact on helping the people of Haiti and showing them our love other than just sending money. Now, we have a way to send our love in a tangible way to the little children in Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and soon Haiti, that we love them, we want to see them smile and we want them to have hope and a future.

Here's a picture of Jordan modeling one of the dresses that for a much smaller girl:

So, if you're a member of swap-bot, join the 'Little Dresses for Africa' swap with me. If you are not a member, visit the Little Dresses for Africa website and contribute a few dresses or send in your donation to support this amazing organization.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Interview in the New Infinite Field Magazine

I was interviewed by Synolve Craft, the editor of the Infinite Field magazine, about my passion for knitting. Take a look at the February edition, which is absolutely lovely. My interview is the last story in that issue.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowed In But Still Knitting!

Here in the Mid-Atlantic we were slammed by a huge snowstorm yesterday. I don't watch TV, so I'm not sure exactly how many inches we got, but I'm thinking we got around 24." I'm thankful that we were all safe at home, but now we're actually snowed in as I live on a secondary road, which does not seem to be a priority for the plows. . .

It made me think back to my childhood days when I lived through the Blizzard of '78. In that storm the snow drifts were so high they completely covered our front door. In order for my dad to get out of the house he had to climb out of a second-story window (in my bedroom) which was right above the roof over the front porch. He climbed out on to the roof, slid down the roof and on to the snow below. I was afraid as I watched the top of his head disappear that the snow would swallow him up.

But, of course he was fine and he set to digging out our front door and then our cars. We were out of school for two weeks. It was lots of fun for me because I was a little kid then.

So, yesterday we watched movies and I finished up some of my writing work and I got a bit of knitting done on my Totally Autumn blanket that was in knitty.com a few issues back.

I've never been much of a blanket knitter beyond making baby blankets, but earlier this winter our furnace broke down and we had no heat for a few days. That caused me to scramble around to find every blanket I could. That little experience inspired me to get some Fisherman's wool and knit a blanket. It's now getting so big that I usually work on it in bed where I can spread it out, or when I'm watching a movie.

Since we'll probably stuck in this house again today, I'm going to make a hat from some of my newbie hand spun yarn. I've been saving this precious yarn because it's the first yarn I made when I got my wheel, but I think it's time to use it. This yarn is a hot mess of thick and thin because I was just getting the hang of spinning. I will hold two strands together to make a heavy worsted, not quite bulky weight yarn. Take a look, but please don't laugh:

I know that my spinning skills will improve with time. For now I will enjoy the fruits of my labor and knit myself a hat made with yarn I made myself!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crafters Unite for Haiti Relief

I am so proud of the way my fellow crafters have joined forces to raise money for our sisters and brothers in Haiti who have been devastated by last week's earthquake.

I've collected some links for ways that we as crafters can help the relief effort in Haiti.

Crafters for Haiti Relief:

A bunch of etsy.com artists have joined together and are donating a portion of their proceeds for Haitian relief.

The Indie Fixx blog is running a silent auction where 100% of proceeds will go to Haitian relief:

Ravelry.com, one of my fave knitting websites ever, has a growing selection of items where a portion of proceeds go to Hatian relief. Look for the little 'help for Haiti' tag.


Finally, here is CNN's handy list of ways to help Haiti now:

So, do what you can and keep Haiti in your prayers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Shout-Out to My Swap-Bot Peeps!

I'm a member of Swap-bot.com, a website where creative, crafty people get together and swap stuff that we make. Since I'm a knitter I usually swap knitted items, but I also enjoy making ATCs and Dottee dolls and swapping them with people all over the world.

I'm currently in a Blogger followers swap. So we all agree to visit each others blogs, follow them and leave a nice comment. Last night I visited about 20 of the most fabulous blogs and found a few gems that I may never have found otherwise.

So, I know this is a bit late, but "Hi!" to all my swap-bot people. ;-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Inspiration from Shirley Paden

I am a knitter who loves cables and lace, so I've been a fan of Shirley Paden's for many years. Today I was thrilled to see her upcoming book being highlighted on Interweave's Knitting Daily email message.

Here's a quick video that gives you an insight into some of the designs from her book and her overall approach to design:

This book comes out on February 15th and I'm looking forward to grabbing a copy to add to my vast collection of knitting books. I will publish a review once I've gotten my hands on a copy.