Procrastaknit

Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Craft + Activism = Craftivism 

I am only one, but I am one.

I cannot do everything, but I can do something.

And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.

– Edward Everett Hale

Has anyone heard the term Craftivism before? I admit that I didn’t even know it was a thing before I started the pussyhat project.  It’s a term coined by Betsy Greer (craftivism.com) and it is just what I was looking for when I was left wondering what to do after the Women’s March.

I have been crafting for a long time (I grew up in the dark ages when kids didn’t have their own tablets) but I am so very new to activism.  Truthfully, it was when Trump was announced president of the USA that I felt a shock so powerful it left me in disbelief.  My bubble was burst and the fear was numbing.  I felt defenseless and imagined threats all around me and my loved ones.  Once I came to my senses, I looked for what else I could do with my crafting abilities and Google led me to the Craftivist Collective.

The Craftivist Collective is a wonderful organization in the U.K. led by Sarah Corbett.  She puts together different projects that uses craft as a form of gentle protest.  Her current project is The School of Gentle Protest which is partnered with 1215 Today.  I have registered (it’s free so join in at any time) and am doing the best I can with the curriculum.  The crafting is the easy part, it’s the gentle protest part that has me struggling.  

 We are talking about Inner Activism in this week’s lesson and it’s hard to face the truth:

  • I am overweight and eat more than I should. 
  • I watch TV, play a game on my phone and check FB on my tablet all at the same time.  
  • I say “Oh, I can get that cheaper online” a lot.
  • I clean using products with powerful chemicals and disposable wipes/towels/sponges.

I am a wasteful consumer that takes things for granted, but that’s just the tip of my “first world problems” iceberg.  This is where I am part of the problem, identifying them was part of the homework.  The other part is figuring out where how to be part of the solution.  

  • Over eating has become more obvious since spending the last few months here in Italy. For starters every Italian home I have been in has a refrigerator that is 1/3 of the size of those in the USA.  The food here also has less preservatives, so doesn’t last as long (i.e. Cheese).  Once my husband and I realized this, there was no point in shopping for groceries like they do in the States “it’s on sale now and I can cook it over the weekend”.   We have to adapt to the Italian way and only buy what we need when we need it and eat it fresh.  There is no need to have a fridge that is constantly so full you forget what’s shoved all the way in the back.  Keeping this mindset will be the real challenge when we go back to the US.
  • This one is a pretty easy fix, just shut down 1, 2, or all 3 gadgets to save some electricity.
  • Buying online will be hard to adapt, everyone has a budget and staying within it isn’t easy.  Since finding the Craftivist Collective, I’ve been searching for ecofashion that I like.  But the plus size style of green fashion is either pin-up replicas or loose linen bohemian, neither really speak to me.  I’m also thinking of giving up the major craft stores where I buy some of my fabrics, thread, coloring books, and miscellaneous other hobby supplies.  But one of the things I do is accept hand me downs (my son’s wardrobe is mostly from his cousin) and shop at consignment stores/ flea markets/ yard sales, etc.  I have done this mostly because of cost, not as a reason to reduce clothes going to landfills.  I’ll have to change my way of thinking about fast fashion and really respect the craftsmanship that goes into a well made product.
  • I’m on Pinterest a LOT, but there is only so much that baking soda and vinegar can clean.  Some jobs require bleach.  I’ll have to do some research on the brands of soaps and detergents we use in order to be more informed.  I’ve been considering switching to cloth towels and napkins, but that would mean doing more laundry – does it balance out?  I don’t know, will have to get better informed on this subject.

These are some examples of how to help save the environment by reducing waste.  In the resistance against Trump these small efforts will be of help to the National Parks Services and the Environmental Protection Agency.  I’m still working on what to do in the social issues that are under attack.  As an immigrant, a person of color, a woman, a mother, and an ally to different communities there is just so much to do for so many causes.  Being this overwhelmed can be just as numbing as the the fear that I first felt back in November, but I’ll get past it and persist.

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Museo del Tessudo 

I love the fact that my 3yo has a rudimentary understanding of knitting and sewing, so that when I took him to the Museo del Tessudo here in Prato, Italy he was impressed by the beauty of the  displays.  I was able to explain this fluffy stuff comes from a sheep, this machine makes yarn, someone embroidered this shirt, these are the plants used for color. There is also no doubt that he is my child, because when given the opportunity to touch the different types of fiber he chose cashmere as his favorite.  I’m so proud. 
The museum was small but impressive to anyone that values fiber arts.  Prato has a rich history of textile from its very beginning in 1050!  Just look at some of the highlights of the museum:


Ciao!

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Women’s March and Pussyhats

January 21, 2017 was an AMAZING day.

Did you attend a March? I went to the one in Hartford, Connecticut.

Did you make any of the pussyhats? I managed to knit 3 and sewed dozens! 

 This was my first time practicing craftivism and I found it extremely empowering.  I had hoped to knit many of the pussyhats, but with a toddler it took a day to knit just one.  I wanted to get this powerful symbol out in huge quantities.  I needed to mass produce in order to meet the high demand.  I embraced my sewing machine.

I just learned to sew last year and was a bit unsure if I could really do much with my limited skills.  But what some might call stubbornness, I call determination and so off I went to get pink fleece and thread.  Shopping for this project was so much fun!  I got so many different prints besides the solid don’t-look-straight-at-it-for-long-or-your-eyes-might-bleed neon pink.  My favorite was the Hello Kitty print, which was a bit more expensive than the rest, but the little girl (along with the snarky adult) in me couldn’t resist it.

For the sake of efficiency, most of my sewing happened between 8pm to midnight.  I started out doing one by one from beginning to end.  Quickly I realized that I needed a better system and so i I did it in steps.  I cut all the fabric one night with my large cutting mat and adjustable height table (an awesome Christmas gift from my husband).  Used an entire spool of thread to fill four bobbins.  Started using only 3 pins for the sides: two for the bottom corners and another for one of the top corners. For the hem I just eyeballed the fold.  I cut out a piece of cardboard with a 90degree angle to mark where I needed to sew the ears.  And so it went.  The first few came out a little wonky but eventually, with all the repetition, it got better and better.

I was working away on my sewing machine up until the night before the March.  Those last 40 pussyhats didn’t have the ear sewn on.  Instead I had a little help from my mom, who put  little loom rubber bands on each corner to form the ears.

Overall I was very happy with my first act of craftivism.  It has emboldened me to continue to use my crafty skills for a worthwhile cause.

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Happy New Year!

Hello and Happy New Year to you!!

A lot has happened since last I posted.  Fall of 2016 was busy.  My family and I all submitted items to our local fair,  my husband in the baking category, my 3 year old did some general crafts,  and I entered my knitting.  We all came home with ribbons, my Christmas stocking even got best in show in its category!

I also went to two book signings at my LYS, Knit New Haven.  I had a total fangirl moment when I approached Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweeds!  I got him to sign his new book, “Woolens” and one from my library “The Knitter’s List”.  The other book signing was from a regular to our weekly knit night, Gale Zucker, a very talented knitter and photographer.   The book is called “Drop Dead Easy Knits” and it has some beautiful designs.  I have already bookmarked some of the patterns in these books to start knitting them soon.

But first, I am sewing!  I’ve also taken a basic 101 class at a local studio that recently opened downtown called Sew Crafty.  The sewing machine no longer intimidates me and it’s not hidden in my craft closet either.  I have it out in corner of my living room and I’m using it regularly.  I am in the process of starting my own craft business and sewing is my medium.  I am working on the branding and marketing of it right now, once it’s ready I’ll debut it here.

Another use for my sewing machine is craftivism.  I think most of the knitting community in the US has now heard about the Pussy Hat Project.  I had every intention of knitting as many of these hats as I could manage, but turns out that wasn’t many.  Even with bulky yarn I was only able to make one hat a day, after I made two hats I turned to my sewing machine to mass produce them for the cause. I’ve made about 8 a day!  I’m planning on handing them out to people going to the Women’s March in Washington, DC or to any of the sister marches happening nationwide.  I’ve gotten requests from friends in California, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachussetts, New York and here in Connecticut.   If you want to help me in this cause, I can still use more materials, please check out: https://www.gofundme.com/378k9reg

The march is just days away and I have no time to spare – off to make more #pussyhats!!

 

September 12, 2016 Woolens book signing with J. Flood

September 12, 2016 Woolens book signing with J. Flood

Oct. 18, 2016 - Drop Dead Easy Knits Book Signing

Oct. 18, 2016 – Drop Dead Easy Knits Book Signing

January 4, 2017 - made my first knitted pussyhat in a day and then moved to sewing

January 4, 2017 – made my first knitted pussyhat in a day and then moved to sewing

January 2017 - the first round of sewn pussyhats

January 2017 – the first round of sewn pussyhats

 

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I’m Hooking

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I’m Bi; I knit and crochet. Well, knitting has taken a place at the back burner and my hook is flying!

I found the Mandala Madness pattern on Ravelry and joined their Facebook group for the crochet-a-long.  I didn’t start it with everyone else and as the weeks passed and people kept posting photos of their work I became both enchanted and intimidated. The projects were all breathtaking.  People did them in a solid color, in gradient hues, in repeats of three, or four, or five complimentary colors, and in colors from all over the spectrum that somehow come together beautifully.

I became more and more obsessed with each image that went up.  I decided that I needed to try it.  I wanted to make it in cotton and with (at most) four colors.  I imagined taking it to the beach or the park for play dates with my son and his little toddler friends.  It was a peaceful scene… and totally delusional, because toddlers would’ve brought chaos upon the Mandala.

Sadly, the cost of buying all new yarn for such a project was a little out of my budget.  Every week that I went to my LYS I would browse and pet the yarn on the shelf daydreaming of this project.  I knew my bank account wouldn’t be able to supply my Mandala, but my stash could.  So I decided to make it a destashing project and use up what I already have on hand.  I grabbed my hook and my little scraps and just went for it.

It’s going to be wild ‘n crazy colors.

It’s going to be wool.

It’s  going to be EPIC!!

(Cue music and fireworks)

But for now it’s just a baby mandala and this is all I have so far:

 

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Pig in the Woods

For a knitter, no trip is complete without finding a place to sit and knit.  I’m lucky to have a husband that understands this concept. We are currently in Tokyo visiting his family and he has found a knit café for us to spend the afternoon.

It’s called  Mori No Kobuta, which translates to Pig in the Woods.  It is not a yarn shop, but a café that is just as welcoming to knitters.  They serve some delicious treats, sell very few items and have the occasional craft workshop.  So don’t go there thinking to buy yarn, instead take a few hours to work on the many WIPs you likely overpacked.  There is nothing wrong with skipping some sightseeing and tourist attractions for an afternoon to enjoy your vacation doing what you  
love. over

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Browsing through a Japanese crochet book while savoring some tea and chocolate cake

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First I thought the lighting was excessive, but when then I realized I was able to see my dark yarn so much better

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Husband got to enjoy a beer while I knitted. See how the lighting helps see my dark yarn?

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There were cute little displays featuring pigs all around the cafe

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Some of the yarn they were selling, that was pretty much it

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Off Topic: adult coloring books

Have you gotten on this bandwagon yet?  I have and I L♡VE it!  A few weeks ago I went to an coloring event at my local library –  I even skipped my weekly knit night to try it! ::gasp::  I remember being in a real funk that night, but coloring a really bizarre rabbit got me feeling much better.

I now have two coloring books – one on floral mandalas and one on animals – and a variety of coloring tools.  And yes, it is very likely that I might have snatched some of my toddler’s art supplies.  But only because I believe  the crayons and water colors are better used as intended as opposed to being eaten or shoved up a nostril.

Here is what I was working on today while waiting for a doctor’s appointment:

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So fun!  I got a set of brush-like markers at Michael’s and this was a perfect image to try them out on since the tips are more flexible than my pens and pencils.  I’m excited to finish it.

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If I’m sitting, I’m SPINNING!

Hooray!   I have finally learned to spin!  For the past 5 years or so the spindle and wheel have intrigued me.  I was very reluctant at first to learn how to make my own yarn.  I always thought that I had enough projects to keep me busy knitting. Why should I bother making my own yarn when I can buy it at the store all ready made?  Then I realized that is what non-knitters say about socks and sweaters and everything else we enjoy creating.
So I gave it a try and failed. 
Bought a spindle kit with some fiber at a festival and failed. 
Sat in with some spinning guild members at a festival and failed.
Tried watching some tutorials on the Internet and failed.
Bought a few books on how to spin and still failed.
There was a lot of time passed between all of these attempt, and after each try I started to think it just wasn’t for me.  Then, a few weeks ago I got a newsletter from a LYS offering to teach a mini session on spinning.  I always wanted to sign up for a spinning class, but most often it is taught on a wheel and way out of my price range.  This was affordable and I was the only one that signed up, so I got the instructor’s undivided attention.
It was awesome!
I couldn’t believe that after two hours I was spinning – rather wobbly – and making my own yarn!  I guess all those failed attempts over the year helped to create a weak muscle memory on my fingertips.  And the reading, research and discussions helped me to become familiarized with some of the terms which made the class less intimidating.  Plus I got to walk away with a CD spinner and some merino fiber to keep practicing. It is surprising that it’s coming out so well, even if it is thick ‘N thin yarn.  Every spinner I’ve talked to says that the bumpiness of your first spun yarn is impossible to recreate so I should embrace it as art yarn.  I’m excited to finish it and figure out how to ply it so I can knit myself something with it.

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Nipple Hat

Don’t you love knitting a gift to someone with a good sense of humor?  Wednesday I went to my local yarn store and found the perfect yarn to make a Nipple hat for a friend’s newborn. Check it out:

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The yarn is Quince & Co Chickadee in the Petal colorway,  the nipple part itself is just a little bit of scrap yarn from my stash.  I can’t wait to send this outfit to her!

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Hello, it’s me…

… I’m in Connecticut knitting, with new yarn very happily.

HA!  Nothing like a little Adele parody to start off the new year right?  I have so much to share too!

Yes, I have been lacking on posting, but I was creating a Pinterest-worthy birthday party for my 2 year old; who proceeded to get sick with Coxsackie (aka hand-foot-and-mouth); which my husband got; then my brother-in-law got when we traveled to California (we thought we were over it when we boarded the plane) for Thanksgiving; followed by a few short weeks at home recuperating; then having a low-key Christmas; before getting on a plane to travel to the other side of the world so my son could meet his great-grandparents; before coming home just a few days ago to battle jetlag and a blizzard.  That would keep anyone busy, right?

I plan to write a separate post on the Under the Sea themed birthday party and our trip to Japan. For now, I’ll keep this post short just by showing you the photos of the knitted projects I have completed in the past three months, so that we can get back to our sharing our love of knitting.

I managed to do two Christmas Stockings – one for my husband and one for my son – by December 25th.  I have to finish two more by this December. The bottom left pattern is Foliage by Emilee Mooney from knitty.com; but I think I am going to have to frog it.   The Ecolã Hand Painted yarn I got from Brazil a few years ago isn’t a good match for this pattern, the thick and thin texture and the beautiful colors take away from the lace pattern.  The cowl on the bottom right is the Bee Keeper’s Cowl by Grace Ahkrem (free download on Ravelry) – with two bulky yarns it is really warm and perfect for New England winters.

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