Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Gift of Giving

In honour of the 25 000 tuques movement, I created a new phrase.  We have a gaggle of geese, a pod of whales, and a school of fish.  Now, we have a family of toques.
Early last week, I attended a meeting of the Barrie Knitting Guild to talk about GTA Knits 25 000 tuques #GTAKnits.  Not only did they hear me out, I learned that the main part of their meeting was to do a "show and tell" of the goods they had knitted for the local Christmas Cheer campaign.

Knitters all over Canada knit for charity year round, and it's gratifying to get out and see just how much kindness and giving resides in knitters.

Today, I received word of another knitting initiative for Syrian refugees.  Kind Canada Genereux has started a campaign to make scarves for the refugees.  You can register on their website, http://www.kindcanada.org/scarves-for-refugees/.

Of course, you can also support other groups with regard to the Syrian refugees, such as 25 000 tuques, of which I belong to the GTA Knits chapter, 1000 Stitches for Syria, and Lifeline Syria.  This blog post is merely to bring awareness to those who want to help.

Whenever I speak about GTA Knits, I note to the audience that the Syrian knitting effort is there to provide a handmade welcome to people who have lived under very unwelcome circumstances for several years now.  It is not intended to detract from other campaigns that a knitting group might have, rather it is an immediate, and hopefully temporary initiative. 

While it is temporary, it has been an incredible feat of organization, one that I hope will continue and go on to help other Canadian charities once this need is over.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Power of Many

The 25 000 tuque movement marches on, and it grows every day.  Today I learned about groups in Newfoundland and Muskoka, Ontario. 

These are the first donations received by GTA Knits 25 000 tuques, which I've signed on as a section co-ordinator for the Barrie/Simcoe County area.

Our group is working with local sponsoring agencies to try and determine numbers so that we can give volunteer knitters good information.  We are also looking for dropoff locations, and we would like to have co-ordinators in a few more areas of the GTA.  If you're interested in helping, please drop me an e-mail at info@cgknitters.ca.

Personally, I would like to have more time to knit, but at least I got a toque cast on early today and by the end of our online organizing meeting this evening, it looked like this:

Knit on, dear knitters!

#GTAKnits, #25000tuques

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Power of One: 25 000 Tuques

Today, I tip my hat to Danielle Letourneau.  When she learned that the province of Quebec was to receive upwards of 7500 Syrian refugees, and that Canada was taking in a total of 25 000 refugees, she put out word to fellow knitters by creating a Facebook page called 25 000 tuques.  Within a week, there are "chapters" all over Canada, from Nova Scotia to BC.

Some groups are keeping their efforts local -- they are donating their knits to families being sponsored in their own communities -- and other groups are sending their knitted wares to QuĂ©bec for distribution on the families' initial days in Canada.

In the past week, I've been contacted by two organizations wanting to do something along this line, and I'm liaising with Heritage Canada to keep them apprised of what's going on.

Canadian Guild of Knitters is not recommending that people stop supporting their local charities, nor are we requesting your support; we merely offer the following information in case you want to join this effort.

Personally, I've linked with one of the four Ontario groups I found today (the GTA group).  There is a group in Toronto, one in Ottawa, and one in Bruce-Grey-Simcoe.  All have Facebook pages, and you can find them by doing a search on Facebook for 25 000 tuques.

If you want to help, please contact me through the website, or through Facebook.   The Calgary group Calgary's 1300 Stitches for Syria put some good information on their page as to guidelines for the knits, which I'm offering here for your reference. 

DONATE: Help by donating one or more of the items we’re collecting. Please note these items MUST BE NEW due to health restrictions. They can be purchased or handmade items. Also please be advised that currently these are the ONLY items we are able to accept.

We also ask that you ensure the items you donate are suitable for our cold winter.

We are accepting donations of the following items ONLY in sizes from infant to adult:

Please make sure your donations meet the following criteria;

 1.All items must be void of any possibly offensive religious or political graphics, phrases and or comments.

2. Please include the suggested care of your donation. (ie. hand wash in cold water, machine washable etc.)

3.Please include the fiber content of the item you’re donating. In the event of items made with wool this is critical information for those with allergies to it.

4.Please place the donated item(s) in a clear Ziploc bag (one per hat, pair of mitts etc.) to protect them while also allowing the contents to be visible for easy handling and distribution.

Please Note: If you would like to include a brief message or welcome message for the recipient of your donation please feel free to do so. Each family will be working with a translator.

Already there are photos of some of the work done by some of Canada's knitters.  Each of us is also the power of one, and with the co-ordinating efforts of Danielle Letourneau, the people on the way to us will get first hand knowledge of that power and of the warmth of Canadian knitters.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

It was an Artist's date

I'm a fool for a good play on words, and this is the one I really enjoyed this weekend:

What a GREAT name for a flower shop! Not to mention the creativity in the Celtic-looking hearts interlinked to resemble carnations.

This weekend, I got away for a couple days.  My journey took me north, to Sundridge Ontario.  Sweetie had a barbecue up there, and we decided to make a weekend of it. Zoey, my little dog, was sent to her "second family" for the weekend, so the grownups wouldn't have to worry about stopping for meals and points of interest.

One of our first stops was the "town" of Burks Falls, which is now little more than a village.  While there, we found a studio containing works of local artists.  There were egg cups hand-turned from  ironwood, quilted placemats, and some really interesting works by local artists. It is worth the stop, if you're ever up there.

At the barbecue, we learned that there was a Sunflower Festival in Sundridge, where we were staying.  We headed over there and were treated to all kinds of inspirational things -- solidly-built Mennonite furniture, metal sunflowers (I'm still kicking myself for not buying one of those for my garden), some beautiful, abstract watercolour paintings, and a rustic bench with bear-themed upholstery on its back. 

This morning, I awoke, refreshed, and got to enjoy morning coffee on the dock of the resort with some knitting.  Sweetie took a picture of me "knitting in my natural habitat", but it's on his phone... it may take a while to get it.  In the meantime,  here's one of me knitting in my natural habitat back in 2006:
(This was Newfoundland, I believe up toward Bonavista)

On our way home, at Huntsville, we stopped at a lovely souvenir shop that had lots of signs to hang around the house, beautiful hand-turned and polished wooden bowls, beeswax candles, shaker boxes made in New Brunswick, and pillows, with faces fringed with strips cut from old knitted garments. "I could make that", I observed.  (Huntsville is a must-stop if you're travelling through Muskoka -- it's downtown rivals many of the pretty ones in the province.  And, there's a chocolate shop!)

As we drove home I said to Sweetie, "You know, it has been good to get out this weekend -- we can get pretty stuck in our little box called home, and I've spent far too much time in the house so far."

Being a proponent of The Artists' Way, I like to get out once in a while and have an "artist's date".  (An artist's date is an opportunity to feed the creative, right side of the brain.  It could involve tasks that are routine or mundane that take your mind off things and allow your brain to float off on its own (gardening is a good example of this), or getting out and feeding off of the creativity and inspiration in the world around us.)  This weekend's jaunt certainly qualified as one.

This weekend, I got out there. And it was good.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Flatstock Dyeing, Anyone?

You know, no matter how much you know about a craft, there's always something else you can learn.

Last Sunday, I joined some of my colleagues from the Severn-Muskoka Knitting Guild for a flatstock dyeing workshop with Lynda Gemmell of Shelridge Yarns

In the interest of full-disclosure, dyeing isn't "my gig". It's too much like cooking, to me, but when we do it in a workshop setting, I can play along.  This is the second dye workshop I've taken with Lynda -- the first was hand-painting skeins.

The results of the day turned out like this:

My pieces are the ones with the pink in the foreground over the middle bar and the purple/iris blue over the back bar. 

Workshops are amazing things to go to with a group of creative people in your circle.  I can't recall who made the two pieces in the middle, but I know that Denise made the piece on the bottom left of the photo.  By Lynda's guidance and Denise's colour-sense, these will make some great socks!

Terry did the piece in the background with the sunset tones.  Like me, she did two pieces, and plans to make a sunset-themed piece.

The day after the workshop, once my work had dried, I unravelled the dyed blanks to create skeins.  This is how they turned out (forgive the low light of the photo):

After that, I washed the skeins to relax the yarn, then, after they were dry,  I wound them into cakes so that I can do centre-pull balls.  Because of the way I chose to paint the knitted blanks,  I got this cool-looking knitted cake that looks like a very expensive yarn kit that is currently on the market:

I'm pretty pleased with the result, and am currently working on a pattern to make a stole from the centre-back outward to the ends using a provisional cast-on.  Stay tuned to this blog.  I'll let you know what happens.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weaving in Ends

To  me, weaving in ends are part of the process of knitting.  Sometimes, they are a little more than that.

Several times in my life, now, I've been graced to receive the nearly-finished articles made by another knitter who has passed away.  When an aunt passed away in 2000, I received two unfinished sweaters, one of which only needed the pocket bands and button bands.  Well, Canadian Guild of Knitters, a full-time job, and my own knitting projects kept me away from completing that one for a long time, but I did eventually get it done.  The bonus was that it fit my father (Aunt Linda's brother-in-law) perfectly.

Several months ago, a lady contacted me with some "scraps of yarn" she had received for me to donate on to another cause.  Yesterday, I took some time to go through the bag, and discovered this partially finished pair of booties and a matching bonnet. The yarn was cushy old Paton's Carefree Baby Sayelle.  If you've never had the chance to work with Sayelle from the 1970s, you've missed out on a soft, comfortable knitting experience.

This morning, as I threaded my tapestry needle and started to sew up these wee articles of clothing, I wondered about the lady who had done the knitting.  Was this set for the hospital gift shop?  Were they for a specific baby?  Was she just using up yarn, as I myself have done with so many baby things?  Was she older? (the style of the garments would suggest that she was probably a little older than myself.) Did she intend to make a matching coat for this?  There was an extra ball of yarn, but only one -- not quite enough for a jacket.

Just as happened when I worked on the final stages of Aunt Linda's cardigan, these questions floated through my mind.  All the while, I knew that I wasn't only weaving in the ends of this project, I was helping to weave in some of the ends of another knitter's earthly existence.  It felt good.

And, as if finishing these items weren't enough, once I've added the ribbons (I think white, don't you?), I will donate them to charity.  I think the knitter, whoever she is, will be pleased.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It was a rainy day...

However, instead of sitting under the shelter of the front porch, knitting, I was inside with my laptop, updating a bunch of things while sipping a nice cup of tea.

Yesterday I had a great meeting with Carla Canonico of A Needle Pulling Thread.  We talked about information she plans to include in upcoming issues, and things I could be doing to "spread the word" for her, as it were.

First on the list is blog more.  This was my commitment to myself this year, and, to have this be only  my third post of 2015, I am clearly being lax about it, so I promise, dear reader, to do better.

The second was to upload some information on Ravelry about recent knitting patterns that have appeared in the magazine.  The editors of the magazine have created a store with patterns for all kinds of projects that have appeared in the magazine.  My humble offerings are there, too.

So, this early afternoon, I spent some time on Ravelry, creating posts on the ANPT group (Yes, there is an ANPT mag group on Ravelry) and some links to various patterns.

There is a lot going on at ANPT, including KnitMuch, an on-line presence just for knitters that complements both the magazine and their other on-line initiative, QuiltSocial.

I just love the swirly heart logo on the KnitMuch website.  It reminds me of my own tag line "For The Love of Knit".  The KnitMuch tag line is "to k is to love", and both sentiments sum up my feelings nicely.

Do you want to know a secret?  The inspiration for this logo actually comes from a beautiful hand-hooked heart that Carla made years ago that graces the door to a room off her entryway.  If, like me, you think this logo is pretty, you should see her original piece!

The summer issue of A Needle Pulling Thread is nearly ready to hit the mail and newsstands.  It's always exciting to see the colourful offerings each new issue brings.

Now, I think I will go and sit on the porch, and work on some knitting.  Enjoy the day.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Welcome, Spring

I can't believe it's almost 4 months (give or take a day) since my last blog post.  I so intended to be a good blogger this year! But, I'm finally chiming in with this entry:

I was driving around the countryside the other day (actually, I was on my way home from a visit to my parents) when I saw this FABulous sign.  It does my heart good to see young people doing something as constructive as knitting.  Go, SBPS knitters!  I'm very certain that your  knitting club does rock!

There are knitting clubs in many schools.  I've spoken at several schools over the years about knitting and spinning.  These "little chats" help plant seeds of interest that may one day germinate into an interest in our craft.  Whether the interest is passing or it becomes passionate, that's up to the student, but I find that often, if the teacher is passionate, that passion can be shared and ignited in the knitting newcomer.

We older (okay, experienced) knitters have a responsibility to teach our young.  I learned to knit (and crochet) with the hands of my paternal grandmother guiding mine as I stumbled with foreign objects like needles and yarn.

Next week, I will begin a class with several young knitters in it, and I hope I am able to guide them as Grandma guided me.  And I hope I create several knitting "grasshoppahs" who go on to knitting greatness.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 - The Year of the Hat?

Happy New Year, Knitters!  I hope your Christmas/ Holiday Season was as blissful as mine was.  There was lots of time to rest and relax and still sufficient time to enjoy the people who mean much to me.

Two weeks of vacation left me with the required time to finish several projects. First, I finished a weaving project -- the first one in about ten years.  The loom was warped in July, on my summer vacation, and I cut the warp off in time to wash and finish the table runners and placemats I'd made for Christmas presents.  Setting up the loom takes a lot of time, but it's really rewarding to see that strip of fabric, months later!

I also got an inherited knitting project finished.  Last summer, my mother handed me a bag containing a nearly-finished cardigan that her sister didn't get done before she passed away.  It just needed the pockets and bands, and there was LOTS of yarn, so I got this finished in December, and now my Dad has a sweater made by my Aunt Linda and me.

Designing continues in my world.  You won't see any of my designs in A Needle Pulling Thread in 2015 -- I'm taking the year off to work up new designs.  In December, I finished the first prototype for a vest.  The first draft of the pattern is done, and I'm checking the numbers.  This vest is made in an acrylic yarn, which makes it a most affordable project.

Stash busting took the form of two pair of fingerless mitts.  One pair was done before Christmas, and another pair materialized the day after Boxing Day.

Since then?  Well, I've started a large project, but it's hard to argue with the instant gratification of hats.  Three have come off the needles since December 27, and there's a fourth one that just needs cap shaping.  What's your "go to" project to knit when you can't think of anything else to do, or when you need a quick little "in between" project?

While I'll probably go on to other projects in another hat or two, so far, 2015 is "The Year of the Hat."

Here are two toques.  Both are made of wool superwash yarn, and both are destined for charities.