It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

It’s hard to say goodbye to people we love. Recently my very special friend Heather turned 60. I designed and stitched a special cross stitch piece for her (see “The Magic of Outlining”). At the time it was very special to be able to give her such a personal gift, but I am even more thankful now that I did this for her. Heather died on the 1st of July and I attended her funeral on the 7th, along with hundreds of others whose lives had been touched by her.

Heather and I had been friends since we were 12, nearly 48 years. We went through high school together, got married and had children at around the same time, and shared a special bond. As life became busier, and we both shifted around a bit, there were often times when we did not see each other for quite a while. Each time we met up again, though, it was like we had only been apart for a week. There was a strong thread that wove through both our lives and now that thread has been broken.

I created my “Karen’s Korner” page to have somewhere on my site to share significant events or inspirational happenings. At the time I never dreamed that this would be the first thing I would be sharing with you, but somehow it seems the right thing to do. We all have a few very special people in our lives and, at various times in our lives, we all face the loss of loved ones. How we work through these times determines how we continue to live our lives.

Heather was a very special person with a wonderful gift of friendship which she shared generously with everyone around her. She was always cheerful, in spite of battling with several painful illnesses, and always eager to help people. Her family were her treasure here on earth and she loved them dearly. She was a gift to all who knew her.

After hearing all the memories people have shared about Heather, and knowing how she lived her life to the full, it is very tempting to think “I should try to be more like her and live more like her”. In some ways this might be a good thing, but something else has been becoming clearer to me over the last few days.

It is right that we should be inspired to live better by the example of someone like Heather, but it is not right that we should try to become them. Only Heather could be Heather, I am the only person who can be me, and you are the only person who can be you. The best way that we can honour the memory of the special people who have passed on from our lives is not by trying to be like them, but by striving to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

I believe we are each unique and have been created to fulfil a role that only we can play. Heather has fulfilled her role here, and now I must strive to fulfil mine. It’s hard to say goodbye, so I choose to say farewell to my special friend until we meet again in our eternal home.

Easy Steps to Create a Crochet Baby Blanket Gift

Easy Steps to Create a Crochet Baby Blanket Gift
Image courtesy of Pinterest
Easy Steps to Create a Crochet Baby Blanket Gift
Image courtesy of Ravelry

Easy Steps to Create a Crochet Baby Blanket Gift

If you are thinking about making a homemade baby gift, like a baby blanket, you will find there are many options. You can quilt a blanket, do some embroidery, or you can crochet a blanket. If you choose to take the time to make a homemade baby blanket it will be much appreciated. Most people realize how much time and effort it takes to plan and make a crochet baby blanket gift and they will be grateful and feel very special that you spent the time on them and their new baby.

If you have decided to crochet a baby blanket gift and are new to crocheting you are in for a treat when you hit the yarn store. Yarn comes in so many textures, colors and fabrics now it is unreal. You can get the softest yarn that will make a soft and beautiful baby blanket. You can choose from soft wool, or chenille, acrylic and cotton can also be very soft and fluffy.

If you are thinking about crocheting a baby blanket and don’t know how to crochet, obviously you will first have to learn. There are a variety of stitches, but they are easily learned and very clear directions are readily available at a number of websites. You can do a quick search using any search engine and ask for how to crochet a baby blanket. You will get great instructions and patterns, basically everything you need to know to crochet your baby blanket. I have listed a number of sites at the bottom of this post to help you get started.

If online tutorials aren’t your best learning environment and you want a little more direct instruction you can check at your local craft store. They often have crochet classes. Learning to crochet with a teacher is nice because you get immediate feedback and can quickly correct any mistakes you make. They may offer crochet classes, where you can meet up with other people who enjoy crocheting as well. You will end up with a wonderful gift, and maybe even some new friends.

Once you have learned to crochet, you just have to find a great baby blanket pattern. You can find patterns for free online. You can often print these patterns out so you have them for reference. You can also check your local library for crochet pattern books. There are complete books of crochet patterns for you to check out. You can also get pattern ideas from craft magazines, don’t forget to check back issues.

Once you’ve made your first baby blanket you may find you enjoy crocheting so much you want to move on to something a little bigger. You could try some throw blankets or even a bedspread. The options are limitless, but it is sure to be a treasured gift.

There are countless  sites with great patterns, and most of them sell yarn and accessories as well. Two sites I would highly recommend are “Ravelry” and”LoveKnitting“. You could also check out “Annies“, “Knit Picks“,”Craftsy“, or “Leisure Arts“.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Related Crochet Articles

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Enjoying Today’s Many Knitting Patterns

Enjoying Today’s Many Knitting Patterns

Enjoying Today's Many Knitting Patterns
Image courtesy of AllFreeKnitting.com

Knitting patterns are one of the things that makes knitting such an exciting activity for so many people. Once you master the basic skills of knitting, you have the ability to make countless projects come to life. Knitting patterns are like recipes that can be followed to recreate your favorite dish.

Knitting is more than merely a hobby for many people. Knitting is a way to spend time with others in a relaxing fashion. Many people enjoy getting together to work on their respective knitting projects while enjoying great conversation. Knitting is not only relaxing, but it allows a person to create many essential items. You can create new clothing for yourself or your family or friends. Finding exciting knitting patterns to create items of interest for others is a great way to make it through your Christmas list! Whatever it is you want to knit, there are usually many knitting patterns available to guide you.

If you are a new knitter, then you will pleased to learn that there are literally thousands and thousands of knitting patterns available. Once you have mastered the basics of knitting, you have the ability to create nearly anything. Searching through various knitting patterns can be almost as exciting as knitting itself. You get to see all the potential items you could make, pick out the perfect one, and then get to work bringing it to life.

Once you start looking at knitting patterns, you will discover they exist for virtually everything you could possibly want to create. You will find patterns for purses and bags. You’ll find patterns for cardigans, pants, and sweaters. Hats and scarfs are some of the most common patterns. There are even patterns for creating a wide array of stuffed animals.

 

Enjoying Today's Many Knitting Patterns
Image courtesy of Craftsy.com

Knitting patterns are relatively easy to find. Most fabric stores have an ample supply of knitting patterns. Sometimes these knitting patterns are fairly generic, but once you get a little experience it should be no problem to add on or modify them to create your own unique creation. (See “Using Patterns as a Guide“) The Internet is also an outstanding resource for knitters. There are thousands of free knitting patterns available. Many knitter enjoy sharing their newest pattern with the world. Additionally, there are many quality patterns for sale online at affordable prices.

There are countless  sites with great patterns. Just perform a few searches on whatever knitting patterns you are after and you will see lots of great sites to look through. Two sites I would highly recommend are “Ravelry” and”LoveKnitting“. You could also check out “Annies“, “Knit Picks“,”Craftsy“, or “Leisure Arts“.

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Find More Knitting Articles

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Another Octopus and Some Scarves

Another Octopus and Some Scarves

I have been putting off writing this post because I seem to have mislaid my first octopus. (See “Two Jumpers and an Octopus”.) I wanted to take a photo of both of them together to give a better idea of their similarities and differences, but my crocheted one seems to have found a “safe place” to hang out in. Consequently I have decided that I can’t wait around any longer and am going ahead without it.

I used the knitting pattern from the same website I got the crocheted one from, Prawelewe Art Studio. These patterns are downloadable pdfs and, therefore, are very convenient to use, but you can see my previous post “Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies” for other options.

It was an interesting exercise to make both versions one after the other. While I am really pleased with the finished version of both, I think I prefer the crocheted one. I found the knitted tentacles to be rather hard on my hands, and I think the crocheted tentacles are more effective. That being said, I think it’s great that there are patterns available that enable both knitters and crocheters to contribute to a really great cause. (See the “Octopus for a Preemie” Facebook page.)

One thing I noted on all the patterns I looked at was that they all recommended the same materials for making them for premature babies. These recommendations are:

  • Yarn – 100% cotton, one mentioned hypoallergenic
  • Stuffing – fibre filling which is washable at 60⁰C

I have recently started on another knitting project which you may be interested in looking at in your own area. We have just officially started winter here (I live in New Zealand) and the weather has definitely become a bit colder. I am very thankful that I am able to live in a warm, comfortable home, and have been thinking about those who are less fortunate.

My project involves knitting scarves to be donated to homeless people in my local area. I will probably look at doing hats and mittens as well, and am planning to enlist help from other people. This help could take the form of donating odd balls of wool to the cause or even knitting them up themselves. For someone living on the street, in their car, or even in a shelter, every bit of warm clothing can help, and every act of kindness can remind them that they are not forgotten.

See also “Handcrafting to Support Charities

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Knitting Is Not A Women Only Club

Knitting Is Not A Women Only Club
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Knitting Is Not A Women Only Club

This day and age knitting has a definite gender bent. We tend to think of it as a “granny” hobby done only by little old ladies rocking in wooden chairs. Maybe we think of young pregnant women waiting for the little bundle of joy to arrive. We never even consider a man to be a likely candidate to pick up knitting needles. Yet, this is by its very nature a sexist attitude. Could it be that as a society we’ve decided what a grown man can or cannot to just because we think it’s too feminine?

1.) Men deserve to relax too!

The truth is knitting is not just a pastime you engage in to simply throw together a pair of mittens. Let’s face it: buying them is quicker, easier, and cheaper! Knitting is not as much about the final product as it is about the process. It is almost meditative, a soothing, repetitive motion that has a similar effect on a person as the gentle rocking motion of a swing has on a small infant. The “click, click” sound the needles make are reminiscent of rain pattering on the roof at night. The whole experience makes a person feel cozy and relaxed.

2.) Creativity is NOT limited to women.

Men typically have a very good spatial sense. That stands them in good stead with this type of hobby. Like chess, certain knitting patterns require thinking rows ahead. Obviously, women can do this and have been for generations. Men can do it, too. It’s possible that because men often think in a logical and linear fashion, some of these knitting patterns may actually make more sense to them than to women. Now, don’t misunderstand, that doesn’t mean men are necessarily better than women at this, just that they may have an advantage that makes knitting just as likely a hobby for men as it is for women.

3.) Men actually started this whole knitting thing to begin with.

It’s really true! In the 1500’s it was men who handled the knitting and the passing on of the tradition. There were rigorous tests and requirements for young men hoping to knit for a living. They had to be able to make several different types of articles at a high rate of speed with a certain level of quality before they were allowed to be considered knitting masters. The only reason that knitting ceased to be a tradition taught and apprenticed in such a manner was because a man invented the knitting machine in the late 1500’s. It took a while, but once the machines caught on and clothes were made more easily, faster, and cheaper, hand-knitting became more of a tradition or hobby than a necessity. It then was passed to the women who began to use knitting as a way to train for manual dexterity and industry, a classic way to not be idle.

4.) Constructive idleness can be a great alternative to simply “vegging out”.

A person can be knitting and still be resting. If you are watching a movie or television you can still be working on a project and take advantage of that otherwise idle time. When one stops to consider the tremendous amount of time our society spends doing nothing more than watching television it’s actually quite staggering. You could convert that time into something useful like a garment, rug, dishcloth or some other item. There are organizations that like to have hand-knit items for the people they are helping. One good example is the cancer support groups that help provide hats for chemotherapy patients. If you could master a simple hat pattern, you could learn to practically do it in your sleep and provide something useful and beautiful for someone in need. (See “Handcrafting to Support Charities“)

5.) Delayed gratification and patience are stretched and strengthened with knitting.

Chances are it will take several days working consistently to produce a project, and “several days” would actually only apply to a small project. A larger project, say a sweater for example, may actually take weeks or months. Knitting is not something you do to get quick results. It’s something done with the idea of creating something beautiful to keep for a long time, a treasure. Some people like gifts, some people like quality time, some people like someone to do things for them. Knitting does all three.

The fact is, these are all good reasons to knit for both men and women. It’s a nice idea that a man can put off that normal societal pressure and take up such a useful, relaxing hobby as knitting. Women never abandoned the craft even though it really is so much easier to buy garments already made. Maybe there is simply a part of us that needs to keep that tradition, that love of something personally made. Knitting can certainly help fulfill a need in us to keep connected and do things that are special and unique for one another. Embracing the fine art of knitting is to embrace a classic piece of our heritage, and one that is worthy of our attention and dedication. Maybe it is time for women AND men to begin to knit.

JJ Vazquez is a primary contributor and editor for the blog located at the Begin to Knit website. She is also CEO of the Vazquez Group, a business dedicated to education and cultural advancement. Visit Begin to Knit to receive “Purls of Wisdom”, the site newsletter.

Two Extremes of Cross Stitch

Two Extremes of Cross StitchTwo Extremes of Cross Stitch

I currently have two main cross stitch projects on the go, not counting a couple that have been sitting around for a while. These projects are both intended as birthday presents for grandchildren, and they represent two extremes of cross stitch.

Two Extremes of Cross Stitch Two Extremes of Cross StitchThe one I am making the fastest progress with is a kit set cushion cover. It is the first one I have done and I am finding it very enjoyable to be able to race through it. It is worked on 4.5 mesh Sudan canvas using acrylic yarn. The design is painted on the canvas and uses only 13 colours. The big needle is easy to thread, and I seem to be flying through the pre-cut threads at great speed.

Two Extremes of Cross Stitch Two Extremes of Cross StitchThe second project is a huge contrast to the first. It is a birth date sampler which also came as a kit set, but is a counted cross stitch design worked on 18 count Aida fabric. The pattern is printed in a 10 page booklet, and the dozens of colours of pre-cut lengths of embroidery thread are sorted onto two cards. I am really enjoying this project as well, as counted cross stitch is a real passion for me, but I must admit that it is rather a challenge.

One of the things that the counted cross stitch project has confirmed for me is that I should really go and get my eyes retested. I am overdue for a check-up, and the tiny stitches and intricate design are definitely a strain. For this reason it has been great to have both projects on the go together as I can do the more difficult one in the more comfortable light during the day, and relax with the easier one at night.

So long as everything continues to go to plan, I should get both projects, plus a second cushion cover, finished by the middle of August. Fingers crossed!

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Two Jumpers and an Octopus

Two Jumpers and an Octopus

Two Jumpers and an OctopusI have managed to get a few projects finished off over the last week or so. I have completed two jumpers and an octopus, as well as conducting a small experiment with pattern grids (see “A Comparison of Pattern Grids”).

The two jumpers, more specifically a jumper and a cardigan, were for the same little girl I did the “pink knitting” for (see “Baby Knitting”). She is growing fast, as babies tend to do, and I thought her Mum might appreciate some more jumpers as the winter closes in on us.

Two Jumpers and an Octopus Two Jumpers and an OctopusThe pink jumper (yes, pink again!) was made using a pattern that is a bit of a favourite of mine. I have used it several times before and have always been pleased with the finished garment. In contrast, the pattern I used for the white cardigan was a new one for me. It was a free pattern off the “LoveKnitting” site. Some of the terminology was a little unfamiliar to start off with but I quickly got the hang of it and was very satisfied with the outcome.

Two Jumpers and an OctopusThe octopus was a sample I decided to do to try out one of the patterns I found when writing my “Octopuses (Octopi?) For Premature Babies” post.  I discovered that the crochet patterns I had found on two different websites were actually pretty much the same. I chose to use the one that was written using terms I was the most familiar with and really enjoyed the project.

Two Jumpers and an OctopusI used some left over wool for this octopus as it was only a practice sample. I have noticed that all the patterns I have are very specific about using 100% cotton yarn to make them for babies. They also need to be stuffed with fibre filling which is washable at 60⁰C. I was very pleased with my little practice octopus though, and will go looking for some suitable cotton yarn to make some “real” ones.

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