Mother Bear Project-a volunteer that combines service with eco-thrifty

A few months ago I found out about the Mother Bear Project.  If you haven’t yet, check it out.  I have made four bears so far and plan to make more.  They are adorable, fun and quick to make, and serve a great purpose.  There is a group on Ravelry that focuses on making bears for the Mother Bear Project, Mother Bear Project.  It is in this group that I met Bitsy and Bobbie, two bears knit by Grace (uknowmeas on Ravlery).  I was completely smitten when I saw these two bears as they are not only adorable and made for a wonderful cause, but because Grace made the bears with scrap yarn.  And with a sense of humor, aptly named them Bitsy and Bobbie for “Bits and Bobs”.  I love it!  I asked Grace if should would agree to an interview for my blog and she graciously said yes.

bitsy

Bitsy

How did you find out about the Mother Bear Project and how long have you been making bears? How many bears to date?

I learned about Mother Bears from a blogger Compassionknit and decided to look into it, in May of 2017. I have made 186 bears for MB and about 11 for others.

WOW! 186 bears for Mother Bear Project and 11 others.  That’s a lot of bears since May 2017!
Bitsy and Bobbie are Scraptastic! Is this the first time you have used scrap yarn on a project? If no, what else?

No there are a couple of other bears out there made of scrap and I make scrap shawls and or blankets all the time. I usually crochet the shawls and blankets. In my projects bears 151 thru 154 are all scrap sweaters, and bear 127 is all scraps.

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Bear #127 made of scraps as well.  “Jo”

Please describe your process to save the scraps and then knit with them.

I almost like knitting with scraps more then knitting with a fresh new skein. I knit what I want out of the skein, hank, ball whatever the put up is and then I have a bin I put the leftovers in. These go to bears, sometimes there is enough left over for an entire bear, sometimes I need to stripe or helical knit the bodies to use more then one color.  When I have little bits left over 6” to about 3 feet, I roll them up in a ball and just keep adding to it. I just slip knot them, the knots wind up inside the bear. I keep the ball next to my chair and it grows, then when I decide it is large enough, I combine it with a fingerweight yarn and start a bear. This gives it continuity and strength and I do this with the blankets and shawls too but then I will use worsted weight.

What is your motivation for using your scraps? general thriftiness? Eco-conscience? other?

I just hate to see anything go to waste, although thriftiness plays in too.  I also love to play with color and I think the randomness adds to the bears personality.

Do you have a preference of crochet or knit?

I do both although I prefer knitting, it fits better with my sense of orderliness and neatness. I like the density of the fabric or the flow of lace that knitting creates

When you aren’t stitching Mother Bears, what do you like to knit or crochet?

Everything–I am very charity minded, partly because of the undeniable need but also because my family just doesn’t want anymore hand knits LOL so I knit hats for Linda’s Hats for Hope, shawls for any place that can use them, toys for a children’s support house in the neighborhood, and still the occasional scarf, mitten, fingerless glove or baby gift for the aforementioned ungrateful family (again LOL).

 

bobbie

Bobbie

Thank you so much, Grace! Your bears are adorable.  And I’m sure your family loves all your handcrafted gifts :).

If you haven’t checked out Mother Bear Project, please do.  It is a wonderful charity that is dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day here in the United States.  This is a day that is known as a Day of Service.  You can honor Martin Luther King by serving your community.  Whether your community is local or global, you can make a difference in someone’s life by volunteering your time.  So if you are not able to go out and support a local cause, consider putting your knitting or crochet skills to service and make a bear or two for a child who could use a little comfort in his or her life.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

#familyfun tic-tac-toe game board crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins #CbyDH

Stash Bust Update, Second Quarter, 2018

Busting out some stash at a snail’s pace.

Just when I think things can’t get any busier, they do.  April, May and June 2018 have been nuts and I’m sure it is not going to slow down any in the very near future. That’s OK, because it is the nuttiness, the “life that happens”, that makes our time on this big blue marble an adventure.  Most of the past quarter’s busyness was good.  My oldest graduated high school and is preparing for his freshman year of college, my parents came for visit and were able to attend his graduation, my youngest is now driving,  we’ve had prom, college visits, awards night and all the other end-of-school year activities.  In addition, both mine and my husband’s jobs continue to grow and demand more of our time, my in-laws are moving out of their home where they have lived the past 30+ years and have needed some assistance and, just to make things interesting, I’ve decided that about 80% of the interior of our house needs to be painted.  Sprinkle in a two week vacation to the Pacific Coast, a trip we have been planning for at least two years, and you have a very busy second quarter.

My crocheting has taken a back seat to all of the items on the to-do list.  However, I was able to get a few projects completed and bust out some stash.  And I purchased ZERO yarn this past quarter (yay me!).

I mentioned above that my parents came for a visit.  They live in Florida but decided to rent an apartment this summer in upstate New York where my brother and sister live.  Since they will be “snowbirds”, I made the following potholder, Red Bird in the Snow Potholder by Doni Speigle, for them.  The pattern is adorable.  You can read my notes and suggestions on my Ravelry project page.
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Next, I finished up the UNsquared Granny, Tea for ME! mug cozy.  Love this.  It keeps my tea nice and hot.  Perfect for work.
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I also finished It’s Just a Granny throw blanket/baby blanket/lapghan.  This project was started in January.  I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do with it.
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The next project was for charity.  I plan to write a post about it soon so I won’t go into much detail right now.  This is Chief and he was made for the Mother Bear Project.
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Another potholder and a couple dishcloths for The Snowbirds.  Flower Dishcloth by Lily / Sugar’n Cream.
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And last, another adorable potholder design by Doni Speigle called Dinnertime!.  This was for the May potholder exchange.  Once I have the time, I can think of a number of cat people, myself included, who would love one of these.
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It is already July and my crochet time for the last three weeks has been zip, zero, zilch.  I’m hopeful I will have a couple projects to share with you for third quarter 2018.  But if I’m too busy with life’s adventures to crochet much, that’s good too.

Happy Crocheting!
Darleen

Psst! Start now on your holiday crocheting!

Hot Pads Snowman Gingerbread Man Peppermint Facebook

Crocheting for Charity, Part 2

Charitable Crochet, Keep it Local

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Christmas Pickle Gift Sets donated to the local High School Marching Band Holiday Craft and Bake Sale to raise funds for new uniforms.

Crocheting for charity can be extremely rewarding.  We all want to do good and it is rewarding to know you can make something that can make another person happy.   Being able to support your local community with charitable crochet is an added bonus.

My last post addressed the awesome part of crocheting for organized organizations.  The organizations I listed have not only found recipients for the items but actually have people asking for them.  They can say with certainty that the donated items (if they are made within the established guidelines) will end up in the hands of the intended recipient. But, what if your funds are limited and you just don’t have the money to pay for shipping? or what if you just want to keep it local?

I often hear of local church groups or civic organizations where they crochet hats for chemo patients or something similar.  But when asked where or how they are getting the items to the patients, the response is along the lines of “We bring them to the hospital”.  While it is wonderful to crochet for charitable efforts, I learned the hard way that you have to be selective in where you donate your charitable crochet.  Delivering items to the hospital does not mean they make it to the patients (read the story here).  So, please keep in mind, no matter where you donate your handmade items, my number one suggestion is to contact the business or organization FIRST to see if they WANT and will ACCEPT the items.  If you get a yes, push them a little further and ask, do they have more than they currently need and will the items be distributed to the patients/kids/residents/etc.   And be sure to ask if they have any guidelines and/or restrictions you need to follow.

Below are a few suggestions on how you can crochet for charity, keep it local AND be sure the donated items are getting to the intended recipients. Again, check FIRST to make sure they want/need and will distribute your handmade items.

  1. Contact national organizations and ask if they can direct you on how to donate locally.  While it may not be possible to donate directly to the recipients as they likely require all donated items to be inspected for quality control, they may be able to direct you to a local drop off location-maybe a guild chapter or yarn shop.
  2. Check with your local hospitals and oncology centers to see if you can donate hats directly to them.  If so, what guidelines to they have?  If not hats, can they suggest anything else that their patients may like.
  3. Is there a local shelter, woman’s or homeless, that might like blankets?
  4. Check to see if your community has a organization that helps homeless families find homes.  Could you provide housewarming gifts to be including when helping to set up the home.  Think blankets, potholders, throw rugs or anything to help make the new place warm and comfortable.  Check with the women’s shelter as well as they often help set up new homes for women escaping abusive situations.
  5. Check with the animal shelter to see if they would like blankets for the cages.  Or maybe you can make cat toys or fancy dog collars that they can give away with new adoptions or possibly sell to raise money for the shelter.
  6. Check with the local police to see if they would like comfort buddies to have on hand for when a child has to be removed from a home or is involved in an accident.
  7.  Maybe there is a local foster care home that would like crocheted blankets for the kids.  Remember, displaced teens need comfort blankets as well as small children and babies.
  8. Check with food banks and see if they also collect blankets or maybe they have suggestions of items you could provide that they will offer to their patrons.
  9. Is there a senior assisted living center/nursing home in your area?  Maybe the workers know of a resident who doesn’t have many visitors and could use a lap blanket or slippers.
  10. Is there a community toy-drive for families in need at the holidays?  I’ve made character hats for ours.
  11. And my favorite, because organizations always need money, donate handmade items for a craft fair fundraiser or a raffle.  Check with schools to see if any sports teams or the arts (band, chorus, etc) have upcoming fundraising opportunities you can donate items for a charity sale.  I made Christmas Pickles, see photo above, for the marching band and donated hand made items for the elementary school’s silent auction.  Many shelters and other non-profit organizations hold silent auctions as fundraisers.  They are always looking for items to include in these fundraisers.

When donating local, be sure to follow guidelines established by national organizations.  They are there for a reason.  It may be for the patient’s comfort, ease of washing or maybe the safety of the recipient.  Be sure to use appropriate yarns, wash and/or sterilize if necessary and be sure to keep pets away.  And if you don’t have the appropriate yarn but still want to make items for donation, get creative.  Baby blankets and lap blankets don’t need the same yarns required for chemo hats.  Animals don’t care if your yarn is an odd color.  Market bags can be made in inexpensive, scratchy yarns and may sell well at a craft fair fundraiser or silent auction.  And if you smoke or have pets in your home be honest and disclose this.  Some groups may not want to risk the possible allergens.  If having pets is an issue with local organizations maybe concentrate your charitable efforts on supporting an animal shelter.

Shells of Love baby blanket crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

Octopus for a preemie donating to a local hospital

New Year, Less Stash

Octopus for a preemie donating to a local hospital

Two octopuses for preemies donating to a local hospital.

Hello and Happy 2018!

Time is marching on and the new year is here.  Time to reflect on the past year, soak in the good times, let go of the bad, and resolve to make changes for improvements in your life.  One of my goals/resolutions is to reduce current yarn stash.  I’ve been called “the anti-hoarder” before and feel weighed down by stuff.  I have been working on reducing stash for a long time.  A couple years ago I “trained” myself to only buy yarn for current projects if something appropriate wasn’t already in my stash.  It was hard at first but now I can easily walk past a yarn sale and not linger.  However, I still have a lot of yarn.  Too much yarn.  Approximately 12 paper boxes full of yarn.    For some, that may not seem like a lot but for me, it is still too much.  My goal is to work it down to 6 boxes at the most by the end of the year.  Once I get there, I will work on reducing it more.  I want to have an amount of yarn that can be easily access and store in one place.  So, how do I get there?

1. Crochet more!

A lot happened in 2017 which prevented me from crocheting near as much as I would have liked.  A number of new designs were halted or not started as planned.  I also did not get to do nearly as much charitable crochet as I would have liked.  So, the number one way to reduce stash is to use it both in new designs and charitable crocheting.  2017 brought the shutting down of a wonderful group, Halos of Hope.  I’m sad to see them close but happy for the founder as she has decided to focus on her family.  2017 also brought to my attention the Octopus for a Preemie movement.  This is a great international organization.  Check out the Official Octopus for a Preemie-United States group.  I am fortunate enough to know a woman who works in a local NICU.  She collects these octos for the babies in the unit.  A good bit of stash will be used making the octos for her.  The two in the photo above were finished last night!  I also enjoy making lapghans for the local senior center.  I made two in 2016 but was unable to make any in 2017. Some stash yarn has already been earmarked for this 2018 project.

In addition, I have some personal projects I have been wanting to make forever.  One in particular is a rug out of felted sweaters.  I have one box full of felted sweaters.  If I could FINALLY make that project, it will clear out one of the boxes!

I also joined a monthly potholder swap group on Ravelry.  I’m excited for the monthly exchanges, making the potholders and seeing what arrives in the mail.  I’ll be sure to update the blog with both what is sent and received.

And of course, design more.  I’m hoping 2018 won’t be as crazy busy and I’ll have more time to design with the yarn on hand.  When I wrote the Yarn Stash and the Anti-Hoarder post 3½ years ago, I had LESS STASH than I do now!  UGH!  I know this is due to my ordering yarn in early 2017 for planned designs that just didn’t happen.  I am determined to reduce the stash this year, not gain.

2. Donate yarn.

A good bit of the yarn that is not appropriate for planned personal projects, designs or charitable projects will be donated.  I did a pretty thorough clean out a couple years ago but it is time to revisit the stash with this goal again.  Expensive and specialty yarn may be listed for sale or given away.  Most of my yarn isn’t fancy or expensive and therefore, most that isn’t planned to be crocheted with in the very near future will be donated to the local thrift store.

I love hearing about other crocheters’ new year goals.  While writing this post, I learned about the 365 Days of Granny Squares.  Very cool.  I also love the idea of a temperature blanket.  This is on my future to-do list.  Do you have any crochet related goals for the new year?

Happy New Year and Happy Crocheting!

Darleen

Winter Sky Cowl, crochet pattern by Darleen Hopkins

FO-Baby Shower Gift, Twin Octopuses

Twin OctiWOW-the last couple of months have been crazy. We have had a number of unplanned distractions during August and September.  Some good, some not so good.  But we are making them work and I finally feel like I will soon be able to get back to normal.  Normal for my family is busy but not crazy busy.  We enjoy our down town and it is during the down time that I am able to crochet.  When I found out a co-worker of mine was pregnant with twin girls, I started on a baby project for her.  That was a few months ago-she wasn’t even showing at the time :).  But I’m glad I started early because I have not been able to do much crocheting for far too many weeks.  Her baby shower was scheduled for this past Friday so I had to kick it into high gear and get her gift done.  And I finished just in the nick of time, the night before the shower.  They came out pretty cute!!!

The pattern is from the Facebook group, Octopus for a Premie-US.  Earlier this year I made a few of these for the local NICU unit.  I know one of the head nurses of the unit. She told me about the octopuses and how they help the premies.  She crochets too and makes them for her unit.  I made three for her and hope to make some more. They are too cute.  While making the three for donation, I realized they would make great baby gifts as all babies would love to grab onto to the tentacles.  And did I mention how cute they are!

With this pattern, I learned a new technique of yarn under rather than yarn over.  This technique makes a tighter sc so there is less of a gap in between stitches.  Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpYj6ECBAck It is a little odd to get used to the method but it really does work.

Happy Crocheting!

Darleen

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