Thursday, May 8, 2014

Stitch 'N' Witch

In the spirit of my last post on knitting for nature, today I came across the notion of shawl ministries. These ministries bring together faith/religion (though this is not always a necessity or the case) and knitting to create shawls for those in need. A quick Google search displayed a wide number of Christian denomination websites which exemplifies how non-religiously specific this can be. "How Do I Start a Prayer Shawl Ministry?" on about.com offers a nice explanation:
"In fact, prayer shawl ministries do not have to be centered on one religion, or even necessarily any religion. A group of friends can get together and knit shawls for people in need, sending good thoughts along but not necessarily any formal blessings."
Image via Temple of Witchcraft's Facebook post

I learned about shawl ministries from a Facebook post by the Temple of Witchcraft. They have been working on creating their own shawl ministry after other successful "witch 'n' stitch" charity and group events. You can read more about the founding of the Temple of Witchcraft's Shawl Ministry in their Imbolc 2013 The Temple Bell newsletter. If you would like to donate shawls, the Temple of Witchcraft asks that you contact silver@templeofwitchcraft.org with any Shawl Ministry questions.

I like the notion of blending the Craft with a craft, especially when the intention is to benefit and help someone else. Regardless of one's faith, "Shawl Ministries" and similar groups can offer positive intentions and interactions to those that are in need of someone to be understanding of their situation and be treated kindly.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Knitting for Wildlife

The snow has finally stopped, allowing spring to ensue and although the Farmer's Almanac says this summer is going to be "oppressively humid," I am looking forward to that narrow window where the door can remain open and the cats will come and go as they please. For the moment, though, it is still jacket weather and the heater kicks on when the sun goes down.

Image via The Penguin Foundation
We do not often consider the idea of our fellow animals needing some extra protection from the elements at times. Those that are wild are quite capable of finding natural shelters, while semi-wild and domesticated animals often find comfort in our homes or provided shelters.

The story of The Penguin Foundation using knitted jumpers to help protect penguins after an oil spill has made its rounds on the Internet recently and is an example of a novel way to address wildlife needs. The Foundation uses the jumpers to prevent penguins from preening oil-covered feathers before they are cleaned. This reduces the chance that the penguin will swallow oil that will hurt or kill it, while simultaneously providing some warmth against the damage done to the penguin's natural heat retention abilities it derives from water-resistant feathers. This happens because "[o]il separates and mats feathers, allowing water to get in which makes a penguin very cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food."

While The Penguin Foundation has expressed that they are not in urgent need of knitted jumpers at the moment, you can still find knit and crochet patterns for the jumpers at the bottom of their webpage and mail them in. Extra jumpers are sent to other wildlife centers when an oil spill disaster occurs as well as being used for educational purposes and sold for funds to continue research and conservation. If you are interested in making one of the sweaters for the foundation, remember to use either wool or acrylic material.

Another cause that is in need of knitters' skills is WildCare. They are requesting 200 wool knitted nests and pouches, each in small, medium, and large sizes. Patterns for both nests and pouches can be found on their website and downloaded along with the donation form. 

Image via WildCare
WildCare uses the nests and pouches to help rehabilitate orphaned birds that are brought into wildlife hospitals. The site explains that knitted nests provide "the right stability along with the appropriate softness to maximize the comfort and health of our baby bird patients. And we can never have too many! Knitted and crafted nests are like towels in a nursery— they're constantly in use and constantly in and out of the laundry." At the time of writing, the wildlife rehabilitation hospital has only 8 or the needed 1,200.

These two examples pose a great opportunity for stash-busting projects, teaching others to knit or crochet, or just simply as a volunteer-from-home project. This could also make a great focus for a project by local knitting groups or for a skill-building class at a library or community center.

Bonus: Remember that, while volunteer hours are not tax deductible, charitable knitting may get you a tiny deduction for the cost of materials and, perhaps, the postage as well if you are donating to a recognized {read 501(c)(3)} charity. Check with your tax preparer/expert to know if you qualify. In this instance, The Penguin Foundation states they hold "a Deductible Gift Recipient status and all contributions are fully tax deductible" and WildCare states that after they receive the donation, you will receive "[a]n in-kind donation receipt you can use for tax purposes."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stash-busting #2

My theme for this stash-busting project is hearts/love, but as I've been looking for patterns to work on, I came to realize that I'm not a big "hearts" person. So, my theme is slowly moving towards "things I love". I am much more comfortable with this theme. Thus, my second stash-busting project were my love of maneki nekos!

Maneki neko literally means "beckoning cat" in Japanese. It is also sometimes referred to as a lucky cat or a welcoming cat. They are typically found in front of stores and businesses as a lucky charm to welcome or beckon in prosperity and luck. While maneki nekos can come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes, there are typically two more prominent distinctions that are made between them. The distinctions are whether the neko (cat) is raising its left or right paw (and sometimes even both!). Which paw is raised and the meaning attached to it differs within the culture, but when I first learned about them one paw was meant to beckon wealth, while the other was to beckon luck.


I ended up making two versions--a teeny tine neko and a small-ish-medium sized neko. I made two partially because I had a lot of fun making the first one, and partially because I wanted to see how the pattern I made for this project looked using the standard double-thread version. I also altered the larger version to make the coin stand straight up, rather than tilted in the smaller one. I absolutely love the tiny version. It is incredibly cute and oh-so tiny!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stash-busting

In January, I signed up for a long term needlepoint project via Nuts About Needlepoint. Though it has taken me over a month to get into the groove (classes can be demanding and take precedence over fun-time), I finally started my first of 10 small projects.

This project had been one that I have been wanting to try for a long time, so I decided to use it as a jumping off point. My "theme" for this challenge will be hearts/love.

One of my comfy long-sleeve shirts.

Halfway through the project and it's going quite well.

Almost finished.

As the DIY tutorial explains, a little water on the sheet and it peels away fairly easily. I used some tweezers to help pull the paper away from the center stitches. 

I am very happy with the outcome of this first project and it is quite encouraging for the rest of the challenge. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Changes

I am planning on expanding the focus of this blog to be more inclusive of other aspects of my life, whimsies, and interests. It will be much more reflective to the name of the blog and my love of learning with the possibility of a little journaling mixed in.


To start off this change of pace, I wanted to share today's Google Doodle which features a tribute to Jane Addams and her 153rd birthday. She was an amazing woman that I regret that have only just learned about today. She was quite a generous human being and a lady after my own heart, if you don't mind me saying.