Day #4 – Craftsy Continuing Ed

On the fourth day of my sewing challenge, I took advantage of the free video workshops offered by Craftsy in honor of Labor Day. I previewed the class offerings on the night before and then opened my Chromebook with a plan of attack early Monday morning.img_3485

I learned to knit in the Portuguese style with Andrea Wong. It never hurts to have a new knitting style in my repertoire considering my arthritis gets more painful every day.  I learned from the video workshop that Portuguese knitting requires the least amount of physical movement making it very appropriate for arthritic knitters. The little need for hand and arm movement enables the fastest knitting speeds available. Who knew?

I learned advanced alterations with Alison Wolf. (I’ve already purchased and studied her beginning course.) She is an excellent teacher. I would love an in-person workshop with her.  Attention clients: I learned how to fix a jeans zipper so if I can find some jeans zippers locally, bring on your favorite damaged jeans!

For the afternoon, I settled in my recliner to learn all I could about zipper bags from Joan Hawley. Sewing bags is a subject I’m familiar with but it never hurts to learn a little more.  Ms. Hawley’s manner of teaching is so calm and reassuring that I’m pretty sure she could walk me through performing brain surgery without either of us becoming nervous. Her Sweetpea Pods have always intrigued me and this workshop guided my through step-by-step construction of Pods as well as another interesting zipper bag. I jotted down notes and quickly made my own pair of Pea Pods by bedtime.

This I learned:  I am never too old to learn something new.


Super Pants-hemmer? Not!

As of June 1st, Fruit From My Hands became established as a business.  That is, as far as the Internal Revenue is concerned.  What kind of business is it, what do I do?  Good question! I’ve listened to webinars, read blog posts, studied theories, meditated and everything else I could think of to do.  There are some very good materials out there for creative entrepreneurs who want to go into business for themselves.  I especially like the free streams from CreativeLive, but alas they never solved my major problem. What should I do?

What do I “do”?  What is my craft, what is my skill?  One of the first workshops I listened to informed me that I cannot do it all. I should define the single thing I do and do it.  This is the one step that stymies creatives, I have found.  I was frozen in place for several years on this step.  My Etsy shop has many random items with no central theme other than I had a bright idea and wanted to try them.  (I’ve been advised that is the sure sign of death for an Etsy shop but it is what it is.) The exercise from the speaker suggested looking at the past six months and decide what one “thing” had people paid me to do the most.  Okay, so I looked back over the past six months to a year.  Wow, people really love to have me hem their pants!  So, by their estimation, I should be the Pants Hemmer. Be the best pants hemmer out there, market myself as that and sleep, eat and breathe pants hemming.

Um, no.  I’m pretty sure that I will be paying the rent in the future with pants hemming and I am not opposed to doing it but I have too many skills to confine myself to one task, one skill.  While I was looking at the past six months activities, I saw so many other things that tied for second place but they did not net me a lot of money.  I’ve written articles, I’ve dabbled with an ebook, I’ve investigated my own ecourse, I’ve taught classes, I’ve advised creatives, I’ve consulted on projects.  No, I can’t be the great superhero, Pants-hemmer.

So without much fanfare, I made a command decision.  I choose to be a sewing and craft consultant.  A Jack-of-all-crafts, so to speak, that can help, advise, teach and further spread the joy that is creativity.  So whenever someone says, “Do you know anyone that does ______?” or “Is there someone that can teach me how to __________?”, my name can go in that blank.

Now to figure out how to make that into a tagline and find a market….hmmmmm.

Special Olympics-Ky Scarf Project 2015

SOKY15I believe my talents are a gift and I should give back whenever possible.  I’ve tried to make an effort to participate in the Special Olympics Scarf Project for several years.  I missed a couple of years.  This year, I was fortunate enough to run across the new color announcements for my state early enough that I could put a scarf on my crafting schedule.  This year’s Kentucky colors of Royal Blue and Yellow Red Heart Yarn were readily available enough, some even coming from my mother’s stash.

I see the SO-Scarf Project and other charitable crafting programs as an opportunity to both give back AND try out new techniques, new stitches and new patterns.  I know there are those knitters out there that look down at those that use the less-expensive acrylic yarns but I will use whatever my hands find to use.

Here is the 2015 scarf for Kentucky in the chosen colors.  I had another pattern that used a raspberry stitch for the scarf so I took that pattern and adapted it to a two-color stripe scarf that fit the requested dimensions of 6″ wide and 54′ to 60″ long.  I learned a new stitch and have provided a treasured item to those working the SO games.

Do you participate in charitable knitting projects?

For more info on the Kentucky Scarf Project:
Special Olympics Kentucky Scarf Project
Special Olympics Kentucky’s Facebook page

“Hypoallergenic” Knitting

Is there such a thing? What does it mean? Am I one?……After some research, yes, I am a hypoallergenic knitter. Am I happy about it? Yes and no. But it does answer a lot of questions I’ve had and it also nixes a lot of plans I had.

Due to the dear daughter’s wedding, I’ve had to postpone sewing for a couple of weeks and find stress relief working with more portable fiber projects.  I’ve been knitting and crocheting like a fool.  I find myself drooling over the brilliantly-colored hand-dyed yarns that can be found on the Instagram posts of YarnInk, Handspunstagram, Vividyarnstudio and Hauteknityarn, just to name a few.  I have dreams of so many projects that can whipped up in the soft superwash merinos.  I’m hesitant to try them. Superwash merino is wool.  Many years ago I discovered I have a problem with wool.  It makes my palms swell, itch and become very painful.  So I assumed I was allergic to wool.

Working at an academic library, I proceeded to conduct some research into the subject of wool allergies.  Many blog posts stated that a wool allergy is rare and can be avoided by knitters by switching to alpaca fiber which is much less irritating to the skin.  So as a scientific experiment, I rounded up some alpaca and proceeded to knit up a pair of wristers for the wedding photographer.

Two hours into the project, I decided that I must finish the wristers in one sitting because I did not want to ever pick up alpaca again.  The alpaca fibers stuck to every surface that was exposed to them, much worse than the dog hair that is a continuing problem in my house.  My neck, which seemed to be catching the alpaca hairs flying around, broke out in a rash.  The inside of my throat became raw and irritated.  Yep, I must be allergic to alpaca.  So back to the research.

Further study revealed that anyone allergic to animal fibers should turn to plant-based fibers for their yarn projects.  (There goes every hope I ever had of visiting the Southern Animal Fiber Festival!)  After a couple of clicks on sources of cotton, silk, bamboo, and hemp, I noticed that some commercial yarn sites place these fibers in a “hypoallergenic” fiber category.  So, thus, I am a hypoallergenic knitter.  Who knew there was such a thing?

Gone are my hopes of knitting with those brightly-hued hand-dyed fibers.  It seems that gorgeous hand-dyed color is  something that is more easily achieved on animal fibers and is very, very difficult to accomplish in plant fibers.  One must search far and wide to find the couple of vendors that offer a dyeable hypoallergenic yarn that has a more yarn-like than twine-like feel. Hand dyers of those yarns are even fewer and far between.

So, here I am 2 days later and all my hopes are dashed of ever knitting beyond acrylic and cotton.  Bamboo and silk are also nice but are a slicker fiber than I want.  Hmmmm, my state just legalized the growing of hemp…..perhaps I could be a trailblazer in dying that fiber?  But who would buy it and who would want to use it? I’m willing to bet there are not many hypoallergenic knitters out there.

And, I have this crazy rash on my forearms.  I’m thinking the alpaca has not had its last say.

Further reading:
What is a wool allergy?
Winter and Hypoallergenic Yarns


Ravelry for Sewers?

Ravelry buttonI’ve had a Ravelry profile for a while now but I only used Ravelry for searching for free patterns.  I’ve been inspired by some of their recent Unraveled blogposts to flesh out my profile and actually participate in the whole yarn community.  And let me just say, it is awesome!  The functionality of the entire website is outstanding!  The sewing community needs something like this desperately.  I wish there was some way that Ravelry would make the code open source and someone with a less than genius programming knowledge could go in and brand the site and get something rolling for sewists……….I would love to but I have a day job. LOL

Now that the dear daughter’s wedding is over, I can go back to some major sewing.  Thank goodness for yarn projects getting me through the stress of that event.

Charitable project – Special Olympics Scarves

I’ve always wanted to participate in a charitable knitting or sewing project and haven’t found one yet but I stumbled across this one and it was perfect – 2011 Special Olympics USA Scarf Project.  This was perfect!  I don’t necessarily get their color combinations, but I love the idea of us all using a common color combination  and creating unique items with that palette.  There are no listings for Kentucky (DARN!) so I’m sending mine to Tennessee.  And I love their motto, “Unity is handmade”.  Let’s hear it for handmade!

And I got mine done before the deadline and before Tonya!

New Year, New Projects, New Plans

It’s a new year! 2009! It’s time to make the most of my time and energies!

Okay, enough of that. I’m trying to record (for posterity or just my pitiful memory and need to self-promote) all of my projects. Every artist has a portfolio and I have wasted years and years not cataloging my creations. There are some beautiful things I created and now don’t really remember. And how do you show your work when a client/customer asks what you have done? All of my things now have a happy home somewhere and are no longer in my possession. So here is to portfolio building. I hope to blog pics and keep a journal of items made and sold or given away.

A random call the week before Christmas was inquiring if I could make some scarves “just like the one you made me last Christmas”. Unfortunately, I never met this woman so I cannot remember what I made her. It was all handled through the DH. And it was so close to Christmas I couldn’t complete them. Then I received a call last week asking me to make them anyway, if I could get them finished before the cold weather was over. Thus, here we are, a week later and I have completed twin scarves in the local high school’s colors. They are gifts for teachers. They are the basic team scarf that I found in an older knitting magazine. This is one of my favorite patterns. The pattern is a K1, P1, rib that lays very flat and looks good and doesn’t curl. Done on my favorite “barbie” 9 needles, they went real quick. I plan to have a stock of the local high schools’ colors next year.

I hope they like them.

From dishcloths to baby blankets

I love the versatility of this pattern–one of those free ones in a crafts store leaflet. It makes perfect baby blankets in a self-striping yarn from Bernat. Then change the needles and the yarn–a 100% cotton worsted weight from Peaches and Cream and I have great dishcloths. Plus, it’s a pattern that is simple enough I can remember it wherever I need to drag my project along. Good thing to have when the brain goes on the fritz and just needs something repetitive to unwind.

More Tiger stuff

From the knitting department, I needed a quick baby gift for a church member. He is a football coach and I thought a baby toboggan to match his team uniforms would be cool. Or warm rather…..during the chilly fall game nights. It turned out cute although I am not sure I like the style. It is definitely modern. It was in one of the most recent of my knitting magazines.

I hope they like the colors. You never know about gifts; if the like them or not. Oh well, I tried.