Tag: charity

It’s Okay

This week’s post is just a short PSA that IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY.

Small business owners will say you should always be positive on your social media. However, I think it’s important to be real, and the reality is, we all have bad days. Heck, I’ve had bad months.

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Have Hope.

I went to a pop punk concert the other night and got this bracelet, made by an organization called Hope For The Day. They do great work in suicide prevention and mental health education. Over the years, I have learned to recognize and accept when I am not okay. I find solace in knitting and music, and that’s what gets me through. I k1p1 to the sound of screaming and banging on drums until I regain the mental energy to deal. It’s better to be open about it than to suffer in silence. Have hope that you’ll be able to ride out the bad and make it to better days.

As part of our effort to support those who are not okay, every item purchased = one item donated. If you’re not into that, it’s okay too.

Hello? Everyone Still Here?

Happy New Year!

I’m back! Website-ing is hard, and it took me longer than I anticipated to get everything set up. I like to think I’m pretty good at technology but this is a whole new level of skill. So many times I just wished I could go back to simply knitting.

BUT, all the hard work has paid off! I’m ready to start 2018 off with a shop launch and new crafting goals. This website is full of new features beyond the blog now. I encourage you to click around on all the new tabs and links. The WWK shop is officially open with a few cozy knitted items available for purchase. 3 styles, 3 colours, only one of each! Treat yourself to something nice to start off the year, why don’cha?

I’ve also converted what was formerly known as The Sidewalk Sock Project into Winter’s Weather Knits Gives Back, in order to encompass more knitted gifts and incorporate my charity work into my sales. You can read about that on the WWKGB tab.

Other fun plans for the year include:

  • Tons of new pattern ideas waiting to be shared.
  • Fun new fibres to play with.
  • Collaborations with new maker friends.
  • More blog posts, including what you’ve missed over the last few months of 2017!

Social media links are at the bottom of all the pages so you can keep up with everything that’s in store for this year!

2018. Let’s go.

“Whoops, I made a hat!” Syndrome

“Whoops, I made a hat!” Syndrome

I usually like to keep organized and on top of things when it comes to this blog (and in general, really). In the past it hasn’t been too difficult because of the constant flow of ideas and projects. I would spend my weekends taking pictures and writing posts to schedule for the month. Recently however, I have been busy and stressed from work, and trying to keep up with family life, a social life, and my charity project! I’m whining a little, but I’m not really complaining–I love all those things. It just means I’ve had less time to allow my creative juices to flow, which in turn means nothing to post about.

As the weather gets warmer, it gets more difficult to be inspired to knit. Kind of like when you shop for groceries on a full stomach instead of an empty one. I haven’t been as “hungry” for new projects as I usually am.

So, this week, instead of having nothing to post, I want to talk about what I like to call “whoops, I made a hat” syndrome. I’ve written about this on various social media platforms already and it still makes me chuckle. I think the phrasing comes from that cartoon of a grandma eating noodles who accidentally uses her chopsticks to knit them into a scarf. I don’t knit my noodles (food just may be the one thing that is slightly above knitting on my hierarchy of values), but when I sit down with a ball of yarn to make hats for the homeless, I always experience that moment where I pause the show I’m watching and look down to see a completed hat. ((Other people my age have ‘Netflix and Chill’, I have ‘Netlix and whoops, I made a hat’.))

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With my lack of motivation to start a new project, I’m really channeling my energy into stockpiling hats so that once the cold weather comes round again, I’ll be ready with bags of hats to donate. If next winter is anything like the last one, I want to be prepared well ahead of time!

And so, at the risk of being repetitive and constantly plugging my charity project, here’s a quick video I made to try and visually represent WIMAH-syndrome.

DIY Yarn Stamps

DIY Yarn Stamps

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I have been making toques to give away to the homeless as part of my charity project, The Sidewalk Sock Project. Since I began, I have branched out to make both socks AND hats because why not stay warm from head to toe?

I had piles of hats waiting to be stitched together and have their ends weaved in, and I finally got around to doing that and getting them washed. The next step was to figure out how to package them. At this point I realized that packaging hats isn’t as straightforward as socks. When you go to buy these kinds of hats at stores, they are always just laid out. I also wanted people to be able to look at the styles and sizes and maybe try them out at shelters. I believe that allowing them to have a choice gives a small sense of control, something they may be lacking in their everyday lives, so being folded and wrapped wasn’t ideal. I decided to design some tags that I could tie onto the hats, which also allowed me to write little messages or sign my name, making each one extra special.

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To do so, I asked my dad to cut me a couple of blocks of wood from his scraps. With one of them, I simply wrapped some yarn around and glued a button on the side. This created a cute yarn stripe pattern and a button stamp in one. I sketched out a ball of yarn with some knitting needles in them, and hot glued pieces of yarn to cover the lines. I glued this to the other block to stamp that design! (I’m particularly proud of that one…)

It took a little bit of trial and error and I’m really not sure how long they will hold up, but I was super happy with the results! From now on packaging will be simple and professional looking. I have made tons of extra tags for now. Guess it’s back to churning out hats!

Two-at-a-Time Socks Give Me Anxiety

Two-at-a-Time Socks Give Me Anxiety

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My double-pointed needles were giving me grief and I was just about ready to snap them and throw them across the room!

But instead I set them aside and pulled out my circular needles and decided to give two-at-a-time socks a try. I have been researching sock patterns in attempt to find the optimal method and design for my sock charity. I already changed from top down to toe up socks, as well as the method in which I do the heel from heel flaps to the fish lips kiss heel. During that transition of incorporating new techniques, I found that my work started laddering, which is something I haven’t struggled with for a long time. Trying out circular needles was my last option, though I wasn’t particularly hopeful that with only 2 gaps (instead of 4) my laddering problem would be solved. If anything, I just wanted there to be fewer ladders I needed to sort out later on.

The entire time from start to finish, I felt this sense of stress wondering if it would work. Was I pulling tight enough at the ends? Was I pulling TOO tight? Would the first sock end up slightly different than the second sock? There’s double the amount of loss if this doesn’t work out compared to trying a technique out on just one sock. I’m also going to point out at this point that I had casted on two different colored socks so I could tell which was the first and which was the second, which completely defeats the purpose of two-at-a-time socks!

By the end, I was quite pleased with the final product. No ladders, no holes, just two socks. My next set is obviously going to be two different colors again to finish off these pairs, but after that I think I’ll have had enough practice to do one pair at a time!

Thought you might be feeling a little bald…

Thought you might be feeling a little bald…

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Last year, my sister grew her hair out so she could donate it to make a wig for a cancer patient. It was a long and frustrating wait, as she’s always had short hair. I get the feeling that the saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” applies here, however. In anticipation of the day of the big haircut, I designed….yarn wigs!

It started off as a goofy little project but turned out to be quite the artistic endeavour. It incorporated some crochet, some weaving and stitching, and some actual hair styling! I created a set of 4 wigs so that our family could do our annual photoshoot to include my bald-headed sister.

I don’t expect her to wear these out, but it was a fun little project that may come in handy for future photoshoots and parties. She has them around when she does photoshoots and people always have fun and a good laugh. It’s a smile-maker for sure!

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On a more serious note, huge shoutout to my sister for doing this. Here are all her links!

Hair blog: http://jamiepoh.com/giving-back/hair-donation/

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/jmegivesback

  • (She is still accepting donations for The Kettle Society and WE)

Livestream of the haircut: https://www.facebook.com/fcimagery/videos/10154183575992709/?pnref=story

TSSP Meets The Kettle Society!

We brought 120 pairs of knitted socks over to The Kettle Society on November 10 so they could share them with their members! Amidst all the negativity going on in the US and here right now, it was nice to have a day filled with good vibes.

Did a little bit of vlogging for the first time…that’s an art too, right? I’ve been experimenting here and there with this blog and now with doing videos. If it goes well I may invest more of my time into it. I really like the idea of being able to look back at my accomplishments, both in photo and video form. Not quite comfortable in front of the camera yet, but glad to be part of the growing process!

Socks for Days

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The question I get asked the most when people talk to me about The Sidewalk Sock Project is, “Wow, do you make all the socks yourself?” My response is typically something like, “Yes, it is a long process and I was fortunate enough to have raised more funds than I had anticipated, so I will likely be making socks for many years to come.”

While all these conversations start to sound bland and very scripted, they always prompt me to think about what exactly I am doing. When I sit at home watching Netflix and knitting socks, I feel as though I am just passing the time. It’s easy to feel like I should be doing something more productive, and I often forget that by making socks for the homeless, I am doing something productive. It’s only when you stop and step back do you notice how all the little things you do add up to something significant. I guess that goes for everything we do.

My lazy days have turned into a mountain of warm feet (figuratively speaking, of course).

The Sidewalk Sock Project

In the summer of 2014, I decided I wanted to learn to knit socks.

The thing about learning how to make something new is that it often takes a few tries to get it right. A problem I face all the time in my crafty pursuits is that I end up with way more finished products than I have room for. The initial fix was to give my projects away as gifts, although that got old pretty quickly too.

Around the same time, I was very involved in a homeless outreach program at my school. We sent groups downtown once or twice a week to hand out food to the homeless and attempt to interact with them, since most people wouldn’t give them the time of day. Through this program, I got to speak with a few people living on the streets of Vancouver. It surprised me that many of them rejected our offerings of food, saying that they had already eaten, didn’t want anymore granola bars, or couldn’t eat/chew them. When asked what we could do to help them, they told us that what they really appreciate that we can give is socks. It makes sense. Things like blankets and sleeping bags are bulky and expensive, so a small group like ourselves wouldn’t be able to help them in that sense, but socks are cheap and easy to distribute, and it can make all the difference when you’re out in the cold.

And so The Sidewalk Sock Project was born. This was a way I could learn to make socks, practice, and give them away for a good cause. I started by making a colorful range with the letters TSSP stitched on the bottom to sell to willing family members, friends, and friends of friends. With the profit from those sales, I purchased more supplies and knitted mass amounts of socks to give away to the homeless.

Basic socks are not difficult to make. I did find flaws in the first few versions but through trials and modifications I’m slowly improving my design. Among my difficulties were:

Tight cuffs–allow more yarn and cast on loosely

A hole in the ankles–when you’re done, use your needle to pull the threads and spread out the extra yarn along the chain (I have yet to find a way to avoid this hole in the first place)

Laddering (common in knitting in the round)–I think this is more of a technique flaw that goes away over time with practice. Washing the socks in the laundry also helps even out the tension so I haven’t had significant problems, but I find it to be less of a problem now that I’m speed knitting socks without even thinking about it.

I did try making a more complicated pair of socks, but those were more trouble than they were worth. These simple socks are now an ongoing project for me in between periods of inspiration. I managed to raise way more money than I anticipated, and I had promised that 100% of the proceeds would go towards hand-knitted socks for the homeless (minus a few blankets), thus it seems like I’ll be knitting socks for many more years to come. I have become so good at it now though that I can make them while watching TV and really only checking in to what I’m doing every so often. It keeps my itchy fingers busy when my brain needs to relax!