Monday, April 20, 2009

Adventures With Old Jeans

I've been saving the kids' old jeans for awhile, waiting to be inspired to make something with them, and the other day I got it in my head that I was going to cut them into strips and knit with the denim. I didn't know what I was going to make just yet, but once I get it in my head that I'm going to do something, I have to follow through with it right then, which is a bit tricky because I have three kids and I take care of my friend's baby. Don't ask me how I find the time, because I will not have an answer for you.

So I immediately drug out the old jeans and started cutting. I cut them into strips about 1/2 - 1/4 inch wide... varying widths because I just wanted to mix things up a bit. I knotted the strips together and ended up leaving the ends hanging out, thinking that this might make the object look kinda shaggy and unique-looking. Here is a pic of the beginnings of what would turn into a bag/purse. It was a bit tough knitting with the denim strips, especially since they had knots throughout them, but it was fun, nonetheless. I did not know what size needles to use, so I started with 11s, which ended up being way to small. Then I started over with 17s, which ended up being too big. So I ended up with 15s, which were perfect! This project was also a little messy. I'm still finding denim lint and strands everywhere.

So all I did was knit a rectangle and stitch up the sides. I stitched the sides with denim, which was a real pain, again because of the knots, but I didn't want to use yarn or thread, just because I wanted it to be completely made of denim.

For the strap, I just braided three strands of denim together and sewed them to the purse, again with denim.

When I finished with the bag, I found that I could do something useful with the pockets of the jeans, and I had heard about people making "pocket purses" with pockets. So my daughter and I started making a purse for her. She braided some strips like I had done for my purse and we are going to sew a flower onto it with embroidery floss.. I just need to find the time to do that, hopefully today and then I'll add the final picture.

I still have lots of denim scraps, which I plan on using to decorate other crafts, such as some felt things I like to make, like drink coozies and coinpurses. If anyone has further ideas on what to do with old jeans, I'd love to hear them! I did find this link awhile back and found it interesting: 13 things you can do with old jeans: I plan on doing some of these projects pronto, but I think I will scavenge some thrift stores for MEN'S jeans instead of kid's jeans :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Well yesterday I took a break from charity knitting and knit up this cute little coinpurse. It is knit from 100% wool I acquired from a sweater I frogged, so I guess it is a green purse, in more ways than one :) (I suppose you can't really tell from the pic, but it is a greenish-grayish-brownish color)

Spreadin the Knittin Love

I began knitting because of my grandmother, who is now 92 and has been knitting for about 50 years. This is a picture of me with her today... we're holding up an afghan she just finished after spending months on it. It is made up of 20 squares, each a different pattern. She is quite proud of it! Over what she guesses is the last 50 years, she has knitted sweaters, tons of afghans, lap robes, socks, slippers, dish clothes, and doll clothes for my mom's dolls when she was little. My grandmother, who has 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren, says she taught herself to both knit and crochet by using a book. She says she's just like me... she just can't sit and do nothing!

One day about 5 years ago, I was saddened by the thought of, when she passes away, her knowledge and love of knitting will not be passed on because my mother never learned to knit. I mentioned in passing that I might want to learn to knit and ended up getting a "Learn to Knit" book for Christmas. So shortly after that I sat down and, although it seemed pretty overwhelming, I gave it a go and right away knit a long, skinny, and pretty plain looking scarf (that my son still wears!).

Here is that first scarf I attempted. Not bad for a first try, right ?

For years, about 5, I knit and knit and knit scarf after scarf after scarf, because I quickly learned that knitting is addicting and yarn is like delicious candy. Since I first learned, I've always made time to knit. I started doing a craft fair at my kids' school every November and I usually sell about 13 scarves, out of about 30 that I usually have on display. I give the others as Christmas gifts to the kids' teachers and coaches.

In January of this year, 2009, I found a super easy pattern for a hat (just knit a rectangle, cinch up the top, and sew down one side) and then began making tons of hats. I've probably made over 80 since January. All but about 3 of those have gone to charity.

I love to knit easy, quick things because I lack the patience for anything that takes too long or requires thinking :) I see patterns all the time that I wish I could make, but I just say to myself "maybe later" or "I can't knit that. No way!". I'm hoping one day soon I'll bite the bullet and sit down, read a bunch more about more advanced knitting techniques, and practice with needles and yarn until I can knit anything I want! I'd LOVE to knit stuffed animals - imagine how happy that would make kids in a hospital or a homeless shelter! Until I do bite the bullet, though, I am perfectly content with what I'm doing now. I absolutely LOVE to knit, whatever it may be, and especially if it is for someone else.

I am pretty much always knitting when I'm sitting at my daughter's swim practice. She swims every night because she's on a swim team. Sometimes I drop her off because I have two younger boys that have a hard time sitting for an hour and a half every day :). But, about 3 days a week, we sit and watch her and I knit. People watch me all the time and seem to be in awe that I can actually make something. They find it fascinating. One day a little girl watched me make a hat in utter disbelief and, when I was done, I stuck it on her head and said, "Here ya go!" Her smile went on for miles :) And here's the exciting part: I've actually caused two people to learn to knit!! One has made several hats for Knits For Needs, and one lady came in yesterday with needles and yarn and was excited to see me, saying, "I taught myself to knit!". I helped her with her cast on because, apparently, she was doing it incorrectly.

I have also taught my 11-yr-old daughter to knit, and, every now and then we go hang out with Grandma and knit with her. My daughter has been working on the same scarf for over a year.. hey, she's busy with school and swimming, ok? I plan to teach her my easy hats and maybe she'll like to make some for herself, her friends, and others. We'll see.

Passing on the art of knitting is something that I feel good about doing and I hope others take the time to do it. Being "caught" in public, doctor's offices, ERs (yes, I knit for two hours the other night in the ER when my son was getting stitches. Don't worry, I put it down to hold his hand as the stitches were actually happening), swimming, libraries, coffee shops, book stores, the car (when parked!), and all the other places you find yourself in, really reminds people that knitting is making a comeback and that knitting is NOT just for old farts (sorry Grandma)! Take the time to learn or teach someone knitting today!

I just found this Pledge Bank where you can promise you'll teach someone to knit:

Here are some tips on teaching someone to knit:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I love this cute little coinpurse I knit a couple weeks ago. I'll save it and many others for the craft fair I do at my kids' school in November. The flash sure did make that button shiny, though, didn't it? It is sort of an orangy button. I love making things like this because they are fast and I can knit them up in an hour or so. I love things that are fast.. not much patience for things that take too long. If it is on the needles for more than a couple days, it will probably just stay on the needles and never be completed. Guess I won't start a sweater any time soon!

Here's a not-so-great pic that my 5-yr-old took of me knitting yesterday. Obviously not trying to win any fashion contests here.. and that hair.. geez... dark roots and everything! Ha!

So Excited About the Charity

I've been really busy lately with Knits for Needs. It is really growing and the interest is amazing. I get emails and messages every day about "Where can I send my yarn?" and "What project are you working on now? What do you need?". I am very excited and happy about this project that seems to be taking over my life.. love it! I feel a new sense of purpose and importance and I love the feeling of helping others. I have always been like that, and now I feel like I really found what I'm supposed to be doing. I look forward to also getting monetary donations to help with the costs, too, such as shipping costs and such. Also, I have a ton of yarn from donations and I'd like to get it out to people knitting for charity, but I can't afford all that shipping yet! But.. its growing and I think donations will be coming in soon. I just got a PO Box for us yesterday. Also, I was interviewed about Knits for Needs!! By Loose Thread Stitchers. I can't wait till that is published. That was exciting! I've never been interviewed before.. kinda feel important :) Go Knits for Needs!

Welcome to Merf's Turf

Merf's Turf is brand new! Still working on it. I started the blog for my charity, Knits for Needs, and few days ago and found that blogging can be quite addictive! I look forward to being more personal in this one and letting out my creative and passionate spirit a bit more than I do in my regular life :) This blog will probably mostly be about my knitting and crafting, but I don't want to limit it to just that, so I think other aspects of my life will also make an appearance from time to time. Thank you for visiting my space and I look forward to sharing it with you!