Procrastaknit

Everything else can wait until I finish this row…

Seasonal Knitter

I think I am a seasonal knitter. Not sure if that’s a real thing or not, but now that Autumn has arrived in New England I am happily casting on and working on projects I want to make.

Or maybe it’s having an enthusiastic little boy ask you to make him a sweater and get super excited about choosing out some yarns for said sweater. Okay, so maybe I picked the yarn from my stash (STRANDavarious DK an individual hand painted fiber artist I discovered during my cross country yarn crawl) because his color choices might clash a bit. Although, I am going to let him choose a self-striping yarn to add to the body of the sweater so it is more colorful. His joy is contagious and he is SO knit worthy.

Pattern: Rumpus jumper Designer: Sashka Macievich. Here I am knitting at the Board of Education meeting waiting to speak up about bullying in our town.

In Craftivism news, I won this awesome new book via an Instagram contest. It has some great projects in a variety of mediums. I recommend following Sayraphim Lothian on Instagram, she knows what she’s doing and is very inspiring.

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Back to School #Sewpplies

Remember a few months ago when someone suggested that teachers should be armed and educators responded with the hashtag#suppliesnotguns ? Well, it’s back-to-school season and teachers are getting their classroom in order for the upcoming academic year. I have a friend who teaches first grade in a neighboring town and she asked me for help creating chair slipcovers with pockets for her classroom. In order to accommodate the mobility needs of her pupils in her incoming class. The students’ desks, which usually provides individual storage, are being replaced with tables to open up some floor space.

One down, two dozens more to go!

This was the trial run for the chair pockets, I used a kid’s chair I have at home

I thought that the sewing machine is what intimidated me from learning how to sew, but now I remember it was really my hate for ironing. Learning to love the process.

I am volunteering my limited sewing abilities to help her out and I am sure there is a teacher out there that could use yours crafty skills too. If you don’t personally know a teacher check out www.donorschoose.org it is a wonderful website that allows you to find teachers that really care about their pupils’ education but have very limited resources. I recommend doing a search with the filters “More than half of students from low income households” plus one or more of the following:

  • Warmth, Care and Hunger – often asks for winter accessories for classrooms with not heat
  • Special Needs – often needs sensory items for learning
  • Art Supplies – you’ve been meaning to clean out your craft closet, now you have a good reason
  • Projects With No Donations

Now, the website original intention is to get funding from donors, not the actual items requested. So if you’re willing to knit 30 hats or make 12 flexible seating or provide any of the requested items on a teacher’s wishlist, check the status of their request. If the project doesn’t get funded, the the classroom gets none of the items needed. Try finding a school in your state and reach out to that teacher that you are willing to contribute some handmade goods to enhance his/her learning environment. They might happily accept something made with so much care a lot more from a person in their community.

Or you can just make a donation directly through the website, at the time of this posting the lowest amount needed to complete a project is $7, but sadly the only donor is the teacher who posted the project, so I’ve fulfilled it. Teachers really shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket to do their job, but more than that, students should have a safe learning environment with the materials they need to succeed.

Now lets see if we can make this small post into a movement, use #sewpplies if you decide to make something for a teacher and share it widely in all social media outlets.

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Immigrant Yarn Project workshop

Wednesday was an amazing day! I assisted in a Craftivism workshop for United Way in the San Francisco Bay area. I attempted to present on Craftivism, but I was a nervous mess and ended up rambling quite a bit. I can talk your ear off on a one-on-one basis about how craftivism is a great tool in spreading knowledge and bringing awareness to an issue, but I am very much out of practice in presenting in front and f a crowd.

It’s a good thing Cindy Weil took the lead on this workshop, she was great at presenting to the group. It was about her craftivism installation the Immigrant Yarn Project. She has worked with girl scout troops, survivors of Japanese internment camps, the populaton of skid row, and countless of other people. I was amazed at her progress so far and was happy to add a little piece of my craft and my family’s story to the installation.

Say what you will about #craftivism movements, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and it empowers me to keep on resisting.

End of the day feeling extremely accomplished

My conference badge

A poster by United Way

Made this badge to wear with my “I am an immigrant” shirt, decided to contribute it to the Immigrant Yarn Project installation

These are my scraps and swatches joined to be my contribution to the IYP

Photo credit: Immigrant Yarn Project

A close up of me in the corner with my piece

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Immigrant Yarn Project

Have you heard of the Immigrant Yarn Project? It’s an installation happening in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’s kind of awesome. I’m actually visiting family out here on the West coast, and I am excited to get a chance to meet Cindy Weil, the founder of this project. I’m volunteering at one of her workshops, providing yarn assistance to those attending as well as sharing some of my own activism and craftivism experiences.

That’s not for a few more days, and until then I brought some of my scraps to join and contribute to her craftivism project. Of course, reading Krista Suh’s DIY book is great inspiration while adding to this project. And keeping hydrated is also important. All great ways to keep the anxiety and irrational fear of potential earthquakes and aftershocks at bay…

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Yarn chicken at the courthouse

I played a mean game of yarn chicken today. I have been working on a pair of single sock (it’ll only be a pair of I don’t get 2nd sock syndrome) for my hubby. It has been the mindless project in my purse for weeks now, something to keep my hands busy when I have 5 minutes of down time or need to fight off some anxiety.

Which is a good thing I wasn’t done with it yet, because today it provided me with about an hour of anxious free time. You see, today I went to Federal Court for a hearing on a case of immigrant families that were seeking asylum, but got separated instead. Security took my phone, but I was able to keep my WIP which is what brought about this game of yarn chicken.

Check it out:

So satisfying!!

Something else that caused a sigh of relief is knowing that there are now two sets of parents reunited with their kids here in Connecticut. They are on probation for a few months and activist groups here hope that they will be given a path of citizenship so they can have the life that all immigrants hope for by coming to this country. You can read more about that story here: http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-news-connecticut-immigration-court-status-hearing-20180718-story.html

It was a roller coaster of a day. Going into the courthouse I felt a sense of gloom, but coming out that feeling was replaced with Hope. Counting the stitches – 25 – as the tail of my yarn shrunk made Doubt consume me, but with 5 stitches left I knew I’d win the game of yarn chicken. Woohoo!!

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Blog Ressuraction

I’m afraid to even peek….

Is anyone still here??

This is so embarrassing…

OK, deep breath…

Here goes nothing….

Hi again! It’s been a while, I’m not sure I am even able to reach anyone on this blog anymore, but I thought it was time to try a little necromancy and see if I can bring this baby back life!! Please comment below so I know I’m not just yelling into the internet abyss… thanks!

Unintentionally, this post has started off with some much darker imagery than I had planned for, but something kept telling me I needed to work on this blog again. So here we are…

See, what has been happening over the past two years is that I’ve become an activist. The Pussy Hat Project was my first introduction to craftivism and it gave me a sense of purpose in the days following the 2016 presidential election when I felt so powerless. I volunteered my newbie sewing skills and made as many hats as I could and sent them to friends, family and like-minded strangers all over the USA. My next craftivism project was the Welcome Blanket hosted by the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. I recruited friends from my knitting group to each make a square and we submitted two finished blankets to the give to immigrants and refugees. Currently, I am learning to sew so that I can make a Moms Demand Action Dream Quilt to honor victims and survivors of gun violence in my home state of Connecticut.

I won’t lie, it has been emotionally draining and has taken a lot out of me. I’ve had some hard days – really, really hard days – but it is not something I can just stop doing. I can escape from it for a few hours and I sometimes I will force myself to step away for a day or two – but inevitably I come back to fight for one social cause or another. I feel like I am just coming to a point where I am going to create my own Craftivism project. I have a few ideas floating around in my mind and now I just need to take that leap of faith to get it going .

Which is what brings me back here to post today. I started this blog a few years ago with the intention that I would share my knitting knowledge, fun yarny news, do some yarn crawls and review some LYSs, delight over craft festivals finds, and show some of my finished works. I will continue to do that (ideally on a more regular basis than before), but now the focus might shift heavily to Craftivism in social causes against the current Traitor-in-Chief and his Goons.

Thanks for sticking with me in this transition… here we go!

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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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