Yarn out, books in

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Lots to get my hooks into

I love our local library, but it doesn’t serve all my needs when it comes to books – first, they don’t have all the books I want, especially specialist books and, second, I have to take the books back! Now the latter is fine most of the time – I read a book and then I’m done with it – but it’s not always the case. So, recently, I have been building up a collection of reference and source books for my knitting and crochet. I want to develop my skills, I want to expand my horizons. I know that there’s the internet, with a host of web sites and videos, but it’s not the same as browsing through a book. And when I’ve found something I want to focus on, in general I’d rather not have to have a screen in front of me (after all, that’s how I spend my working life, so I don’t want it to fill my leisure time too).

I’m hoping that all these books will aid me in working my way through my yarn stash – providing new ideas and inspiration – as well as with my pattern design aspirations. For the moment, though, I’m focusing on getting some WIPs and UFOs out of the way. In this respect this week has been very positive: two projects completed. The first I showed you nearly finished the other day in my ScrapHappy post – a woolly hug for a friend – but now all the ends are stitched in and it just needs to be packed up and sent on its way:

The second is also a scrappy project, this one for charity. A few months ago, a friend gave me some very old crochet squares. These had been made by her aunt (I think – correct me if I’m wrong, Ann) in Belgium. She asked if I could make use of them for a charity blanket. Time had not treated them well, and there were three of four squares that had been nibbled by mice. However, I was able to repair the holes and replace the edges where necessary. I crocheted them together using wool left over from a previous project and then edged the blanket with some scraps that my mum passed on to me a couple of years ago. So, this too is ready to be packed up and sent off to Knit for Peace:

At this rate, all my projects that are languishing in bags will be done and my stash will be greatly reduced by the time I go to Yarndale in September.

Playing

Sometimes it’s good to play. So, after making some very specific items for particular reasons and to deadlines, I thought that I’d spend some time just playing with my crochet hook. I have piles and piles of yarn oddments to use up, so I’ve been trying out some new patterns and some old favourites:

They are various sizes and I plan to put them (and more) together quite randomly into a large blanket that I will donate to Knit for Peace, who can always find a good home for woolly items.

All the above are made of wool or acrylic, but I also have a bag of cotton yarn oddments. Because cotton isn’t stretchy, it doesn’t really belong in my planned blanket, so I thought I would have a go at a completely different type of square, with a view to putting lots of these together into a fancy shawl or throw. It’s not my best work, but this is what I made:

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cotton square

The design is from the book Connect the Shapes. I’m rather fond of this book, particularly because it’s spiral bound, so it stays open whilst you are working from it! In addition it includes both charts and written instructions, making complex patterns easier to follow.

Now I have another specific task to get on with, but the playing has been fun…

Small acts

IMGP6674I’m still feeling rather gloomy about the state of the world, but a friend pointed me in the direction of the following quote earlier today:

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. JRR Tolkien

Being at home working means that it’s quite difficult to manage any spontaneous small acts of kindness right now. I was kind to Mr Snail this morning by making leek and potato soup – his favourite, apparently – but it seems like a very small thing.

However, I have discovered a good way to do some crafty kindness… a lovely charity Knit for Peace. I came across them as a result of a Twitter post and am rather taken with their ethos:

Knit for Peace UK is an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust. It grew out of projects we developed in Rwanda and India, which brought together women of traditionally hostile communities (Hutu and Tutsi war widows in Rwanda and Muslim and Hindu women in the slums of Delhi) to knit clothes for street children and orphans. We paid the knitters and distributed the clothes through local NGOs.

The funds came from the Good Gifts Catalogue (another of our initiatives). Knitters in the UK asked if they could knit for those in need, and we discovered there was a huge need for knitters to have someone to knit for. Once we said we would distribute donated knitting we found we were inundated.

Here at Knit for Peace we believe that knitting is good for people in all sorts of ways. As well as being fun and therapeutic, knitting brings people together and gives a way of helping others in need, providing benefits both to the knitter and the recipient. Based on our experience of developing Knit for Peace over the last few years, we have learned that knitting is extremely important as an activity that can be carried out right into extreme old age and helps improve long-term health.

Our policy is to encourage people to give, whether it is time or money. So we set about finding outlets. We now distribute regularly to over 80 outlets, including hospitals, women’s refuges, refugee drop in centres, prisons, community groups, and hospices as well as to developing countries. We never sell the clothes; we send them where they are needed. We also pass on donations of yarn and needles to enable people on low incomes to knit. The operation has grown organically, and we estimate we have over 11,000 knitters.

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This can be an act of kindness

How great is that? They will accept all sorts of knitted items and find a good home for them. So any knitter/crocheter with a bit of time on their hands can contribute… whether you like making hats and scarves or blankets or cardigans, your work will be found a good home. This means, that I can manage a small act of kindness any time I like, just by picking up a hook or needles. I think that I’m going to start making granny squares, which can be turned into a blanket or dressing gown when I have enough.

So, can you cheer me up? Do you have any tips for being kind or any stories to share?

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