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While knitting N’s socks, I had a breakthrough in my continental knitting style

May Dishcloth by allie1123488.

(not my hands, photo credit here)

When I learned to knit, I learned the traditional (American) way, holding the yarn in my right hand.  Then, while taking a sock class with Kari, I met a couple really neat knitters who were SO FAST while making their socks.  Watching them closely, I saw they were holding the yarn with their left hand.  Continental knitting, one of these amazing women explained to me, as her hands handled that yarn like Dash from the Incredibles, zooming through her sock project at warp speed.

(photo credit)

So the week between classes, I determined to learn continental (translation:  speed knitting, for us Type-A knitters).  I got onto knittinghelp.com, and slowly learned this backwards-feeling method.  I would have quit for sure if it had just been a theory, because it felt so awkward, but I had seen with my own eyes the speed when it was done right.

Well, I did manage to teach myself to knit continentally, but (silly me) I did it on the second sock of that project.  As a result, I had one normal-ish sock and one very-loosey-goosey-new-methodly-knitted sock.  Normally, I am a very tight knitter.  (Result of my type-A personality, no doubt).  But this continental method was So Loose.  After that project I sized-down my needles to get the right guage.

Now, if you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know that by this point, I’d made two pairs of socks that Just Are Not The Same Size.  The first pair was mismatched because I was getting used to those blasted giant toothpick dpn’s and it was my first lesson in Tension.  The second mismatched pair was the intro to continental knitting, which was made during my sock class with Kari, who chronicled her journey with the Stupid Sock from that class through a series of hilarious posts. 

And now there’s N’s latest pair of socks.  Mismatched Pair Number 3.

N's socks looking not quite even

N's socks looking not quite even

The photo (mercifully) doesn’t show just quite how mismatched these socks are… 

See, what happened is somewhere near the end of the first sock, I got my groove regarding continental knitting.  Seriously, it FINALLY became easy and all of a sudden, there was my guage again, just like with the American knitting method.  How refreshing to be all (up)tight again. 

The problem, of course, is that the first sock was almost finished and the second sock was made with an entirely different guage.  I toyed with the idea of ripping that first sock out and doing it over again, but even I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  N is still pretty happy, and I figure I can always semi-felt the suckers if they get pulled too far out of shape. 

But the problem with My Continental Groove does cut a little deeper.  See it affects…The Husband.  The Husband’s Sweater.  I started this sweater months ago and set it aside because frankly, it just got to be So Boring.  This was all fine, until I got my groove.  Now, I’m going to get to finish this sweater while trying to ungroove my groove.  I know I could just change needle sizes, but what fun would that be really?

I’ll either figure it out or else poor, poor Husband will get a nice big sweater with little-bitty sleeves.  Either way, I’m sure he’ll love it.  🙂

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handmade-doll

(photo credit)

With the help of you and people like you, “Save Small Business from the CPSIA” was voted one of top ten ideas for change by Change.org.  As I understand it, these top ten ideas will be presented to president-elect Obama in an effort to encourage him to influence change in this over-reaching law that could effectively put an end to crafting and reselling handmade items for children. 

Some cool numbers:

  • This Cause was ranked in the top ten out of 7,847 ideas.  (Only the top ten get presented formally to the President).
  • There were 12,280 votes in the second round of voting by people out there just like you and me.  (Don’t ask me what happened in the first round, I came late to this party.  That’s a change.org question.)
  • There are currently 474 endorsements by nonprofits and bloggers, including me and many of my readers.  (Woo Hoo, Go us!)

This work is far from over.  The law is already on the books and set to go into effect on February 10th.  The key here is to mobilize to effect change from this point forward. 

Text from the change.org website informs us:

Over the next week we will be working with nonprofit sponsors for each idea, including 1Sky, Healthcare-NOW!, and The Peace Alliance, to craft national campaigns around each idea. In the meantime, we have opened discussion for how to most effectively turn each idea into a successful national campaign, and would love your suggestions.

There’s an area where you can make suggestions and give input regarding how/why handcrafted items should be an exception to the CSPIA’s prohibitively burdensome testing criteria.  If you’ve got a strong opinion about this whatsoever, I urge you to get involved, whether in this forum or another. 

We crafters and/or resellers are, in general, a pretty laid-back bunch of folks.  Usually, that kind of approach works just fine, thank you very much.  But please consider how this law would effect your ability and the ability of other crafters to make and distribute beautiful handmade items for children.  There is real (negative) impacton us with this legislation.  It’s likely that well-meaning elected officials didn’t consider how their vote for this messy law would effect people like you and me.  It’s not too late to let them know now.  Don’t wait.  Something can be done about this.

For more information on the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, also known as HR 4040, click on the following links.  And thanks!

https://shannonsays.wordpress.com/2009/01/09/sew-important-defend-your-ability-to-craft-for-kids/

http://www.change.org/ideas/view/save_handmade_toys_from_the_cpsia

Text of the actual Act: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsia.pdf

http://coolmompicks.com/savehandmade/

http://savekidsresale.squarespace.com/

A similar post tailored to resellers will be posted on one of my other blogs, What Matters Most, at http://matteringmost.wordpress.com/.

[EDIT:  Please note the first comment from Jon below, which gives GREAT information and an important link to follow regarding (different site, folks!) www.change.gov, which is another site you’ll want to explore, along with explanatory links.  Let’s stick together and get some stuff accomplished here!]

I’ve entered the world of Pattern Improvisation. 

My friend Kari is amazing.  She can improvise almost any pattern.  And she has a great attitude about it:

Don’t have that kind of yarn?  Who cares?!  This is pretty–let’s try it.

Only seem to find a different size needle?  No big deal, use it!   It’ll all work out. 

Did that pretty green hat end up too big? 

The Green "Hat"
The Green “Hat”

No problem, let’s just make it into–oh yeah–a hula skirt for the husband.  Yes!  That would work just fine. 

Counting stitches?  Excuse me what did you say?  Counting?  Huh?  Hmmm.  HA HA HA HA!  You were joking weren’t you?  Where’s the fun in that?  Ooh look, there’s something shiny over there…

She’s one of those knitters–those carefree knitters–happy happy happy.  (And incidentally, I think she’s awesome, even as I tease her!)

Happy Kari
Happy Kari

Now, me on the other hand, I’m a Type-A, by-the-book, follow the pattern, rip-it-out-if-you-made-a-mistake-ten-inches-ago (I’ll know that mistake is there!), tight-gripped, jaw-clenched, do-the-math, get it right, perfectionist, kind of knitter. 

Let’s just say, we’ve balanced each other out…

So Kari, bless her widdle heart, will be thinking, well how nice for you, Shannon, that you’re finally relaxing a bit with this knitting adventure. 

But to me, improvising is mucho stressful.  Did I say Mucho? 

It all started when I lost , misplaced, surely my husband is somehow to blame for the fact that this book is not where I remember it–my World’s Greatest Sock Book.  I love this book by Ann Budd.

getting-started-knitting-socks

I learned to knit socks using this book and every time a sock pattern seems kinda squirrely, this is my go-to book of help. 

So when I started knitting N’s socks on the magic loop, you know, the ones I started five times, I figured I could get details I needed from my Awesome Sock Book.  I needed the help because I was using different yarn and size needles than the pattern called for (very rare and scary for me, but I am under the mandate of No More Yarn!  So I am using what I have).  Now the Awesome Book doesn’t really help with circular knitting, but it’s great about explaining the heel flap and heel turn very specifically.  I figured I could figure out the ribbing, but once it came to that heel turn, I’d need a bit of a primer. 

So, fearlessly knitting away, I work on my little sock, getting ready to head into the flap and the infamous heel turn and–wouldn’t you know–I couldn’t find that stinking–I mean awesome–book ANYWHERE.

Complicate this with the fact that we had to head out of town, so I had no Awesome Book, no internet access to knittinghelp.com, no lifeline to call.  All I had is the pattern with the Way Wrong Information, and some folded patterns in the bottom of my knitting bag. 

Just before despair set in (if I didn’t figure this thing out I was going to be sitting for HOURS in a hospital waiting room with NO KNITTING–subject of another post), I got Determined not to let that stinking sock beat me! 

So I MacGiver’d parts of several patterns together and with my own considerably puny expertise, managed to turn that heel without an Actual Pattern or Actual Instructions!  I do have photos, but my camera has pooped out, presumably due to sympathy-stress from my Improvisation Ordeal, so the photos will have to wait until we’re both recharged.

But still–WOO HOO!  Very exciting to have crossed over into the world of Improvisation Knitting.  Not necessarily relaxing and enjoyable the way Kari would do it–but exciting to rise to the challenge nonetheless. 

Confession:  I’m relieved to be back to the pattern now, however.  Enjoying myself much more, and really looking forward to that Kitchener stitch at the end.  (I have issues.  I know.)

 

 

 

 

 

This little bear and what he stands for is VERY important to anyone who values making handmade items, or even giving or selling vintage or resale items to children:

Save Handmade Children's Items

Save Handmade Children's Items

Link to Really Important Information About the Concerns Regarding the New Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act

I first heard of this pending legislation today and, let me tell you, I’m very concerned.  Kudos to Kari for finding this button and the site that explains in layman’s terms the new Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act, or HR4040, which is the cause of serious concern. 

This act, which takes effect on February 10, 2009, places tremendously prohibitive and punitive requirements on sellers and resellers of children’s goods, including, but not limited to handmade items.   In addition to toys, clothing, furniture and books may also be effected. 

In the words of the email I received today:

HR4040 is a retroactive rule mandating that all items sold for use by children under 12 must be tested by an independent party for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.
 

All untested items, regardless of lead content, are to be declared “banned hazardous products.” The CPSC has already determined the law applies to every child’s item on shelves, not just to items made beginning Feb. 10.
 

The regulations could force thousands of businesses; especially smaller ones that cannot afford the cost of lead testing; to throw away tons upon tons of children’s clothing, books, toys, furniture and other children’s items and even force them to close their doors. All of these items ending up where; landfills!

The ban of these items appears to extend beyond the retailer and could be construed to include esty.com shops, ebay sales, resale shops, flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, pregnancy assistance clinics, hospitals, and gifts. 

This is appalling on its face, of course, but as we consider the dire predictions our president-elect made about our economy today, thift store, resale and garage sale shopping, in addition to making and using or gifting children’s items, could be the only way that many “ordinary” families (like ours) are able to survive this challenging economic season for our country.

More from the same email regarding the penalty phase of this legislation:

However, the HR404 has taken measures to such extremities that its effects may be more horrendous than its “good intentions”.  Estimates testing for each clothing article can run between $300 and $1,500. The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it may consider exempting clothing and toys made from natural materials such as wool or wood, but paint and dyes on the products are still required to be tested.  But seriously, what and how many kids’ articles are made of 100% wool or wood?  What kind of kid is going to wear a super-itchy 100% wool sweater?  Due to such costly testing, shops that sell used books may be forced to close their doors.  Second-hand, consignment , and thrift stores may be forced to close their doors.  Folks with home and on-line businesses that make specialty kids products may have to close down.  The act’s broad wording could extend to children’s items sold on eBay, Craig’s List, Amazon and even garage sales; also sources of income for many families.  February 10th, 2009 will be “National Bankruptcy” day.
 
 
 
 

 

This is a very, very serious situation for crafters and families of young children alike.  The folks at this link  give some GREAT action steps that you can take to make a difference.  

In addition to giving resources for contacting your representatives, they also encourage us to “vote for amending the law on Change.org, digg style:If it makes the top ten proposals, it will be presented to President Obama in January!” I urge you to click through and do you 60-second part to help ensure that this abysmal and harmful piece of legislation is NOT signed into law. 

Here is a link to the actual legislation.  It is 62-pages and I must disclose that I did not read every bit of it before passing this information along.  I will be reading it thoroughly and if after doing so, I believe that anything I’ve written here is in error, I will update with a correction immediately. 

But for now, please act quickly.  Time is of the essence if you want to maintain your rights to craft for kids, resell your rocking horse, or even donate that lightly-used coat to a needy child who would otherwise freeze after February 10th.

Note:  The majority of the content of this blog post also can be found at my blog, What Matters Most.  Normally, I do not duplicate posts between blogs, but I considered this topic so vastly important to both the distinct and different readership, that I thought it merited appearing in both places.  Thanks for your understanding.
EDIT:  The Consumer Products Safety Commission has a link on their website that gives some clarification as to the intention and enforcement of the CPSIA.  The key, I think, especially important if you make a living selling crafts or resale items, would be to look to the actual language of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  If there was ever a question of interpretation, the Act would be looked to first.  Be informed of the whole picture–especially if this is part of the way you feed your family.
And Melissa, thanks so much for the update and the link!  🙂
And a link to an LA Times article discussing HR4040  (thanks Ann)–it seems there may be improvements for resellers, but I still can’t see how those who handcraft children’s items are protected with these revisions/clarifications.  I’m could be missing something.  Or it could just be that the resellers are screaming louder about the effects of this than the crafters.  Stay informed! 

In my last post before I went AWOL, I told you about the children’s play that my youngest daughter was in.  You know, the one where I found out AFTER she was cast in the role of her dreams that the PARENTS were responsible for the costumes.

Go on, laugh, you children’s theater veterans.  Of course, the parents make the costumes.  They also make the sets, the programs, the props and basically, everything else.  But I did not know this, stage-mom-rookie that I was, so I was just a teensy bit surprised.  (For the record–no complaints here–our children’s theater group and its parent team are Incredible!)

Anyway, as I pointed out in my earlier post, my mom was called upon to save the day.  I really enjoyed watching her fly out of retirement and into action in her role of Costume Maker and Creative Genius Extraordinaire. 

Anyway, months later, but as promised, here are some photos of the (in)famous Lion Cub costume:

lion-cub-costume

Lion Cub Costume

Even the tail had a cute little hot pink bow on it! 

m-roar

M: "ROAR!"

This was certainly one of those masterpieces that you would never want to examine from the inside.  For all you costume makers, the bare materials were two gold sweaters from the Good Will and some fringe from the local fabric store.  We also took a headband with cat ears and sewed the matching fabric around the ears and band.  Hot pink accents, because, after all, she is a girl lion cub.  And a tail long enough for her to swing around and be a ham on stage (made of extra sweater fabric). 

Also, this play called for LOTS of sick monkeys.  The costumes were simple, but these little guys needed tails.  Now, I’m no expert knitter, but I did know how to make an I-cord, and in my world, a long enough I-cord was a monkey tail just waiting to be pinned on the behind of a monkey costume. 

These looked very complicated to the non-knitters, but ooh, so easy, and gave me a great reason to use some of my stash.  Here are the super-simple monkey tails:

monkey-tail1
100_1987

I-cord detail of the monkey tail

monkey-tail-model4

Our monkey tail model

Tip:  if you know of a community theater where they need costumes, but don’t have a resident knitter, a few night’s worth of effort and the added benefit of de-stashing will make you a hero as you make simple things that are really appreciated! 

One thing I’ve appreciated more and more this year is the value of being still and making things with my hands–especially with my children.  I think back to the times I sat with my grandmother while she knitted and with my mother while she made amazingly creative things for our home.  These are some of the best memories I share with these great ladies. 

grandma-hands   (photo credit)

 

It’s made me even more determined to be a memory-maker this year with my daughters. 

Last year I penned a list of observations and life lessons I learned through knitting–but they apply to sewing, crochet, and probably just about any other endeavor where you get to create something with raw supplies, some basic tools, your love, and your hands:

Sometimes more is gained from slowing down than from running harder.

Every big project starts with that first stitch.

Take time to spend with your parents and grandparents and children in a quiet, “agenda-free” setting.  Those are the times you’ll remember most when they’re not with you.

Things worth having are worth working for.

A teensy slip-up, ignored and not fixed, can turn into a great big hole and a nasty mess down the road.

It’s easier to fix a problem right away than to wait until later.

If something’s a real mess, sometimes it’s best to rip it out and start over from the beginning.

Enjoy both your results and every stitch of the journey to get there.

Finish well.

Homemade really is better.

Read the instructions.

Don’t panic when you realize you’ve messed up.  Stay calm and think it through and you’re on the way to fixing the problem.

Listen to advice from those that know more than you.

When Grandma says, “I can fix it, honey,”  chances are she really can.

When God said He knit you together in your mother’s womb, He didn’t use a knitting machine.  He did it stitch by stitch, purposefully and full of love.  And He didn’t make a single mistake.  (Here’s where He said that.)

For the original post, you can click here.

Happy 2009!

Wow!  I’ve received so much feedback from my first post back into blogland, that I am tickled pink!  N is very encouraged and, of course, I’m sure that Linda is secretly planning her autograph signing party for her new found fame! 

I have a sneaking suspicion that more than a little of today’s traffic has been from the Treadle On Angels themselves (my name for them, but I do say it sounds very cool and is quite fitting).  I wanted to make sure that everyone had a chance to know just how to reach these folks. 

Official flag of the Treadle On angels

Official flag of the Treadle On Angels!

You can hit this link to go to their organization’s homepage, which is a treasure trove of information, friendship and sewing lore.

And, just for fun:

Enjoy!

Okay, I know it’s been, well, months, since I’ve posted here, but believe me, I have some very good reasons.  Between hospitalizations, a vacation, the holiday frenzy, and lots of other assorted stuff, I’ve been well, Indisposed.  But now, we’re back and I’ll try to pick up (at least slightly) where I left off, craft-wise.  (I’d have to have gotten back to business eventually, as Kari has shamed me into writing again!)

One really big area where I was remiss in not posting was the incredible, awesome TOGA party that N and I went to back in October.  My friend Linda and her incredibly creative sister, Sharon, invited me to this gathering of sewing legends who are (seriously) experts in treadle and handcrank sewing machines.   Linda and Sharon’s sister, Frankie, was part of the party too, with her creative crocheting self.   Well, My daughter, N, and I went and we had a wonderful time! 

As you may recall, my daughter N, took a liking to sewing  and was sewing on a chainstitch TOY machine.  Enter, the Treadle-On Angels. 

We simply CANNOT have sweet little N sewing on that toy.  (Seriously, I knew no better, but N was happy, so who was I to interfere?)  Yet, these amazing men and women literally took us in, taught N to sew and (for real) gave, seriously GAVE,  N an antique hand-crank sewing machine.  (Very special thanks to Karen and her very special guest, Iz).

I cannot thank these incredible folks enough for the hospitality and generosity they showed us.  More importantly, as a mama, I can’t thank them enough for the huge round of applause they all gave N as she finished her very first real project!   WOO HOO!  Oh yes, she’s got the sewing bug now.   And even though our opportunities for any kind of new crafting have been minimal with our family’s recent illnesses, N’s still chomping at the bit to get back in there and crank that machine.

These people are the real deal.  They blessed my daughter and me more than they could possibly realize.  I am so grateful for the chance to attend their get-together.  Whether they knew it or not, it really was a life changing event for N.  Which always makes me happy.

Here are some neat pictures of the event:

 A quick PS to Karen:  if you’d like me to post the photo of Iz with the machine here, I would be happy to do so.  Just want to make sure it’s okay with you.  Also, if you would rather I’d just send the photo directly to you, just let me know.   🙂

(And I promise, more updates from other crafty-type things will follow soon!)

Well, I’m officially in Big Trouble.  My youngest daughter, M, has been witness to the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding N’s debut into the World of Sewing, and naturally, she will not be left behind.

So I dutifully drug myself to the nearest Hobby Lobby and purchased her a $15 Kids’ Singer (hot pink, of course) and some sale bin fabric.  She has announced to me her list of project goals and is more excited about learning to sew than eating or sleeping.  I’ll sneak some photos at least of the cute little machine (and my ever-expanding stack of sale fabric) tomorrow and get them online for ya.  But Big Trouble, with both girls wanting to sew now. 

Speaking of Trouble, the cute little LYS where the Yarn That Has Stolen My Heart is having a party/sale evening tomorrow and I’m being lured in that direction.  Don’t buy the yarn.  Don’t buy the yarn.  Don’t buy the yarn.  (I’ll have to let you know how this works out…)  Details about the object of my obession are here.

And then there’s Little Bit of Trouble:  M has the role of a cute little ornery lion cub in an upcoming children’s play in our area.  (Can you say typecasting?!)  And–Surprise!  Parents are responsible for the costumes.  Mom to the rescue (not ME, silly…MY MOM, the costume-maker and woman-who-can-create-anything, to the rescue!).  So the little trouble, is really trouble for which I have a partner in crime–team lion cub creators. 

I am also knitting monkey tails for the same play.  Really.  Monkey tails.  But seriously, once you learn to make an I-cord, you can’t really call making eight brown ones while destashing some of your old yarn trouble, can you?!

SO–I promise soon to post photos of:

1.  M’s new sewing machine, hopefully with her in action

2.  N’s latest sewing adventures

3.  The lion cub costume WIP

4.  The monkey tails

5.  Hopefully nothing from the yarn store–but if I break down, I’ll confess to it all here.  Seriously–I’m just going for a visit.

I’m trying (trying, mind you) to figure out the wild and wonderful world of Ravelry.  What an amazing resource this is!  Up until today, I’ve also never used Flickr, so this has been a technological adventure to say the least. 

I do have some photos on of my projects with lots more knitting detail up on Ravelry now, for the hard-core knitters that might peek at this blog. 

If you’re a Ravelry junkie, I would love feedback (especially if as a newbie I’ve breached any knitting, blogging or Ravelry etiquette unbeknownst to me!).

Thanks for all the encouragement as I jump into this incredible world of crafting!  Your comments and emails have really been appreciated! 

🙂

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