August Classes, KALs & CALs

Planning for August totally snuck up on me.  The full-time gig is deep into its summer busy spell and I’m honestly not sure what day it is most of the time without calendar apps throwing alerts at me daily.  When I’m not working, I’m still working by knitting up or crocheting projects. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  Right?  I’m trying something new for participants.  In the past we’ve done three sessions (for most things) in three consecutive weeks.  This month, we’re going to try three sessions on alternating weeks, giving students five weeks to finish a project instead of three.  Everyone is busy and some of the projects we tackle are intimidating on such a short timeline.

There’s a mixed bag of projects coming up.  Winter is coming.  (Ha! Successful Game of Thrones Reference) The holidays are coming too, it’s time to get to work on those gifts and some of these projects may make a great one for the knit-worthy people in your life.  All classes, KALs & CALs will be at Yarn Rhapsody in Gainesville, GA.  Please sign up at least 48 hours before classes/KALs/CALs begin, by phone at 770-563-3130, or in person.  A link to register through PayPal will be posted here as soon as it becomes available.  This will guarantee your spot.  Space is limited.  Yarn and patterns for each offering must be purchased at Yarn Rhapsody.

By popular demand I’m leading a knitalong for Building with Lace by Michelle “Knit Purl” Hunter.  This is Michelle’s third publication featuring patterns that build skills along the way.  By the end of this KAL you’ll have an amazing lace shawl featuring nine different lace patterns.  It’s a sizable and beautiful piece of work.  This KAL has a couple of options.  You have a choice of how many sessions you would like to attend, the full KAL is 18 sessions for $80, or you’re welcome to attend 9 for $45. You will be required to purchase the book for this KAL.

Session Dates: August 12, 19, 26 – September 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30 – October 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 25

Saturday Session Times:Noon – 1pm Wednesday Session Times: 6pm – 7pm

Skill Level: Adventurous Beginner (really, this can be your first lace knitting these books are designed to be fully educational)

Are you looking for a unique crochet shawl? Well, here you go.  Hotel of Bees is an interesting and subtly complex piece that will keep you on your toes.  Featuring overlay, open, and filet crochet techniques with a modern twist this isn’t your grandmother’s shawl.  (No I’m not trying to insult the grandmothers out there.  I know a lot of them and they are great people).  Because of the complexity of pattern this one is a class offering.

Class Cost: $60

Session Dates: August 5, 19 – September 2 from 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Skill Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Fall in Georgia is one of those odd in between times where a heavy shawl is way to warm but something lightweight is perfect.  Reverse Psychology is perfect for fall and early winter here in the south.  It begins on the bias and has a wonderful abstract shape with several partial bind offs.   The pattern features beadwork but can easily be done without.

KAL Cost: $30

Session Dates: August 5, 19 – September 2 from 3pm-4pm

Skill Level: Intermediate

Gainesville seems to be just as obsessed with elephants as it is chickens.  For you out-of-towners that don’t get that joke, Gainesville, GA is considered the chicken capital of the world.  We don’t have a town Christmas tree lighting event, we have a giant light up chicken.  Anyway….I digress.  Loxodonta & Elephas the African Flower Elephants can be your next stuffed animal friends.  Crocheted and then joined in multiple pieces these guys can be made using any yarn weight creating tiny elephants to giant ones.  The color possiblities are endless here.

Class Cost: $60

Session Dates: August 12, 26 – September 9 from 1pm-2pm

Skill Level: Intermediate

And bringing up the back of the line, because slow and steady wins the race, there’s Sheldon the Turtle.  This is a cute one for the little ones, or for us big ones that just like having a stuffy here and there.  Sheldon has a removable shell, so if you’re so inclined you can make different colors and patterns for any occasion.

KAL Cost: $30

Session Dates: August 12, 26 – September 9 from 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Skill Level: Intermediate

There it is, an action packed offerings schedule!  Keep in mind, if you don’t feel like you are ready for a group class I do offer individualized instruction for $40 per 1 hour session.  I hope to see you all in class…or KAL….or CAL in August.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Knitting on the Road

planeI’m escaping Georgia tonight for some shenanigans with friends this weekend.  Being the fanatical knitter that I am, there is always at least a pair of socks on needles in my purse and there is always a project bag tossed in my luggage for downtime on trips.

I’ve been asked at nearly every gate waiting for boarding about the legalities of traveling with knitting needles, so it’s time for a quick primer on air travel with projects.  My experience here is limited to domestic air travel, other rules may apply to international flights.

Are knitting needles and crochet hooks allowed in your carry-on bag?
The simple answer is yes.  But when is the simple answer ever the complete one?  All it takes is one misinformed TSA agent or a flight attendant to think your needles look intimidating and you’ve got a problem on your hands.  As much as some of us love our nice, pointy, metal ChiaoGoos or Addis you may want to leave those home.  Kick over to wood or plastic, and circular needles would probably be preferred over straight.  Besides using straights in a tightly packed airplane may be uncomfortable for you and the passengers seated next to you.

How about scissors?
This is another yes, but, answer.  Blades must be shorter than 4-inches, and the type that fold up onto themselves are recommended.  Those nifty thread cutting pendants, or anything that looks like it may have a razor style blade are a no-go.

Regular needles, you know the ones you finish projects with?
Ummmm this one is a bit gray.  I’ve flown with finishing needles with rounded points, but I’ve heard more than one person complain that theirs was taken.  So, you may want to leave those at home.

So what do I do if TSA tries to confiscate my needles or hooks?
The most important part of traveling with craft projects is to be prepared, just in case.  Carry a copy of the TSA policies related to your particular project, there are some agents that may not be clear on the guidelines, but screeners can confiscate any items they feel are unsafe despite of the guidelines.  You can find some help with this information on the What Can I Bring section of the TSA website.

If you think an item may be pushing a guideline, put it in your checked bag, or have a self-addressed, pre-paid mailer to ship your item to your destination or back home, and don’t risk flying with expensive or sentimental items.

Always be polite, and informed if questioned.  From personal experience here, I’ve only been questioned about my knitting once, and after showing the screener the policy from the TSA site all was well.

Now that the technicalities are out of the way, now what?

Bring something small with you, socks, scarves, and other items of similar size are perfect on adventures.  Just think about projects that don’t require grand gestures to manuver when flipping over to do the next row, since space is limited, and your row-mate may not want to be covered with a half finished afghan.  Simple projects are best for a couple of reasons.  Patterns that require you to reference printed patterns may become fiddly in a limited space, also it helps if your project is simple enough to be able to stop quickly (God-forbid mid-row but it happens) and is easily memorized.

Other things to consider…
Yarn:  try to have yarn caked or rolled into center pull balls so you can leave your yarn in a project bag while you work.  Having a ball fall to the floor and roll halfway down the plane isn’t as funny as it sounds. Trust me.

Needle Holders: Travel isn’t alwasy the safest things for needles, find a way to protect  your needles when they aren’t in use.

Project Bags:  I’ve always had great luck with project bags that have carry handles built in.  You can loop the bag around your arm and have the yarn feed from it while you work.  No worries about anything falling in the floor there.

Knitting in airports and on the plane is an excellent way to pass the time and maybe spark the interest of your fellow passengers, so enjoy it!

Knitting in the News: Political Craftivism

Let me begin with a disclaimer, that will apply to this post as well as any possibly politically charged issue that may be referenced on this blog in the future.

With the election and inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, our population has begun to very openly express their political opinions, be it leftist, rightist, or down the middle.  For the purposes of this blog, I will strive to keep my own personal political beliefs out of the conversation and remain as neutral as possible.  I ask that any comments that  a politically themed post may generate remain respectful to anyone that may read them.  Comments are moderated, anything I deem offensive, crude, or an attack on another will be deleted. 

It’s 10 days after the inauguration of Donald Trump, and your local yarn shop is probably still a bit low on pink yarn.  By now, everyone knows about the “pussy hat” worn at the women’s marches around the county in response to the inauguration and comments of an offensive sexual nature that were brought to light during campaign season.

This week the brain beanie is on the rise (more pink yarn) to support those in the sciences that are being gagged.

Craftivism, is defined as the practice of engaged creativity, especially regarding political or social causes to bring about change via personalized activism.

I am in love with the concept of craftivism.  The idea of physically making something takes  time, energy, and dedication, more so than picking up something from the store pre-made.  The pussy hat (and I cringe using that word, my southern great-grandmother is rolling in her grave, and I would consider her a feminist) is certainly not the first act of craftivism but it certainly is the most well-known public example.

womens-march-on-washingtonPolitical viewpoints aside, I encourage you to check out the photos of the men and women wearing these hats, there are hundreds, if not a few thousand examples floating around.  You’ll find some obvious first-time knit and crochet projects out there.  How many new crafters were born out of this act political activism?  How many will get bitten by the yarn bug and will begin other projects?  In a culture where the average attention span has been reported to be 8 seconds; it’s amazing so many people were introduced to a skill that requires concentration and focus.  It’s healthy!

Love it or hate it, the pussy hat may have started another revolution.  Despite our own personal viewpoints on reason for this mass act of craftivism, crafters should be encouraging newcomers.  Not pushing them away because of their viewpoint.

I’m saddened by the reaction of several local yarn shops that have publicly stated that they are not interested in selling yarn that will be used in possible future acts of craftivism.  Shop owners have the right to do as they please, but it makes little to no sense to push aside customers for political views.

All I know is this crafter is more than happy to see more acts of craftivism, and am more than happy to teach that first-timer how to work that yarn around needles or hooks to make their statement.

Social Knitting?

When knitting comes up in conversation the image of a matronly woman sitting in a rocking chair often comes to mind.  There she sits, alone, needles clicking away at some beige colored yarn.  This is the reality of some, well, maybe without the rocking chair, or the age….or the beige yarn….

It’s the norm for some of us knitty types to just work in the comfort and privacy of  our own homes.   At the end of a stressful day I’m absolutely guilty of grabbing a project and heading for the couch, with a cup of tea, or something harder depending on just how stressful that day was.  I knit alone for the first four or five years after picking up needles for the first time, and then there was the discovery of whole knitting social networks out there.

It happened after I moved to the current homestead and stumbled into a local yarn shop.   In the center of this shop was a long table with chairs set all the way around it.  No one was there that afternoon but the owner brought up she had several times a week where other knitters would come in and work on projects together and invited me to come.  The concept was a bit foreign to me, it took a few weeks to take her up on the offer, but I finally packed up a project into a bag and headed back down to the shop on a Saturday afternoon.

No joke, my social life changed.  This introvert found her tribe! The shop was filled with a group of vibrant and varied individuals, both male and female, working away and laughing their asses off.  All ages, and walks of life were sitting around that table.  I was made to feel welcome within minutes after getting grilled with the typical who-are-you and what-do-you-do questions.  You know, the typical initiation into any group.  After meeting these people, my knitting began to travel with me wherever I went, and if there was more than a few minutes of waiting time, out the needles would come.

Sunday mornings would  usually begin with a caramel macchiato, people watching, and yarn manipulation at the local coffee-house.  That led to another invitation to a knitting group on Thursday evenings packed full of more amazing people after being discovered knitting in a corner.  For the better part of a year and a half, Thursdays and Saturdays had standing plans to meet up with these knitting nuts.  The Thursday group began to disolve after jobs and life began to impact schedules, but both groups have introduced me to friends that have become family.  I really don’t know how I’ve survived without some of these people in my life, and we all have one thing in common, we love making things out of yarn.

All that said, there have been studies pop up over the years (just google them) that have shown crafting with others can improve confidence and self-esteem, reduce stress, and help with feelings of isolation (well duh on that last one).

If you are in northeast Georgia, or north-metro Atlanta wander into Yarn Rhapsody  in Gainesville, on Saturday afternoon, we’re a welcoming kind of people, and don’t bite.  Claudia (owner) also carries an amazing selection of yarns.  Side note: there has been no payment for this endorsement, this shop has turned into my home away from home.

Grab your yarn and tools of choice and get out there.  Find a group!  Or just start knitting at your local coffee house, the group will find you.  Thank me later.