Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Giveaway!

One of the things I like to do is prep things in the summer for winter charity drives. This year, I've decided to do a Facebook giveaway in conjunction with that project.

If you would like to enter to win one of these cute little hats, head over to the Kusala Knitworks page, give a like, and comment on the picture of the grey cloche hat!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A different sort of craft...

There are many, Many, MANY, great things about living in Portland. Okay, the lack of sunshine isn’t necessarily one of them. However, we do have a phenomenal crafty community. When I say phenomenal, I mean, insanely huge, awesome, and wonderful. Many of the things that others wouldn’t necessarily consider craft, we do; for example, ever heard of ‘Craft Brewing’? Pretty sure that term was developed here… or at least our PBS affiliate told me so.

Combining craft with recycled materials is something that a lot of local artists are known for, some nationally renowned for. I discovered a cool place in North Portland about six months ago, and also found out that they have other locations nationwide – which only adds to the coolness. What comes to mind when I say recycled materials? Bottles, cans, milk jugs, etc., right? What if fabric, zippers, old trophies, binders, buttons, paint, folders, odd pieces of wood, spent CO2 cartridges, old patterns, snaps, signs, and random plastic tubes were included?

Yep. You’d have SCRAP. Located on MLK in North Portland (very close to the Nike store, for you Portlanders) this little store is a little wonder in a very small package. Materials are donated, and resold, at a HUGE discount. Make an art project, get your back to school binders, make a garden art plaque, how about a baby hat? Sure thing. The funds go to help get art to kids and schools that might not have a lot of the funding that they need, and as many people are coming to realize, are incredibly important for well rounded development. Helping to create hand-eye coordination, spatial skills, group collaboration, and more, art is an essential part of a developing (and well functioning) brain as we grow older.

During the summer, SCRAP hosts two different summer camps: Camp SCRAP and Trashion to Fashion. Camp SCRAP is a week long gig, where each day the kids focus on a new material, learning its properties, and exploring what they can create out of it. Trashion to Fashion is all about creating wearable garments from recycled materials. We were lucky enough to receive a scholarship to Camp SCRAP (with me still not being able to find a “real job”… the $275 for the week was way out of our budget). Ethan, who is 10, had a blast. They made crayons, shrinky dinks, rubber band balls, stained glass sheets, and more. Quite frankly, he was rather hesitant about going… “Whaddya mean, an art camp?”, however, in the end, I’m pretty sure he had more fun than he did at his OMSI computer programming camp that he was so stoked to attend.

From this experience, he has decided to create an entry for SCRAP’s upcoming youth art show – I think he has decided on a space lander craft… but we’ll see what we find when we go up there to search for more materials! Oh, and he has decided that “even though I'm a boy, that Trashion to Fashion camp sounds pretty cool, and I think I want to do that one next year.”

Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe, Mom was right?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sock Summit 2011

It’s taken me a few weeks to write this posting, since I wanted to do the experience justice – and I knew it was going to be a long one. I have put in hours and hours at the Oregon Convention Center over the past few years, working everything from bridal expos to food equipment sales shows. Sock Summit was a totally different experience.
{Clockwise: OCC Readerboard, Lorajean from Knitted Wit,
Krugers Farm baskets, Sanguine Gryphon Tent;
Center: The Sockgate}
I attended Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, even though my actual class was on Sunday. Let’s start with Friday… I was there for a few hours, wandering around, looking for that specific, perfect blue to make my much anticipated Doctor Who socks. (By the way, entering through the Sockgate was SWEET – Huzzah for geeks!) After finding the perfect shade of blue from Miss Babs, out of Tennessee (although I found out later that another vendor had a color specifically called ‘Tardis’ – more about them later); I headed over to visit with Lorajean from Knitted Wit, and wound up getting some lovely bright yellow sparkly yarn.

For my purchases during Sock Summit, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, which tend to be hand painted yarn with LOTS of colors worked into one colorway. I managed this by staying with solids or semi-solids, with only one purchase of a multiple color handpainted… though it is in colors that I don’t normally use.

On Saturday, I took some handmade stitch markers and attached them to some business cards, and passed those out to some pals… Shan, Rebekah, Jen, and a few others. Why? Well, I was a Girl Scout for a long time, and when we went to conventions, camps, etc., we brought these fun little things called Swap Its to trade with other Girl Scout groups. Just a fun little “Oh my gosh, so nice to meet you in person!!” present. Also on Saturday, I visited the fantastic kids from Indigo Dragonfly. They had all sorts of fun geek yarn! Being a MASSIVE Firefly and Serenity fan, I completely appreciated the yarns dyed for each character – dark greens for Jayne, bright colors for Kaylee, and deep browns and burgundies for Mal. My one acquiescence to habit was the Mal yarn. Named Captain Tight Pants, this yarn is perfect for fall, and I already have a pattern selected.

{Clockwise: Yarns from Miss Babs, Knitted Wit, Sanguine
Gryphon, Indigo Dragonfly; Coral Cloche crochet hat,
SS11 badge and show book, Jen Andersen of
Anderson Fiber Works}
In a strange turn of events, I purchased my only pattern on Saturday as well, and it was a crochet pattern. I’m new to crocheting, and this lovely little number was a perfect “first hat” – especially since it doesn’t LOOK like a first hat. I brought the pattern home, and worked it up that night in a gorgeous silvery grey Madelinetosh that I had stashed away. (Far upper left)

Sunday, the final day, was my actual class, a One Hour Wonder called “Math for Knitters”. I’m not so great at math. I didn’t have a math teacher I understood until I was into my 20’s, and I think there were various reasons for this, but Beth was great and understands that we all don’t think the same way, or do math in the same way. I have a very convoluted way of doing math, which makes sense to me, but usually not to others. Or, even better, HELLO CALCULATOR!! I also made my final purchase – a lovely hank of “Little Traveler” fingering from Sanguine Gryphon. Of course, to quote Zoe from the aforementioned Firefly, “Sanguine, as in hopeful, or it can mean bloody”

{Lorajean of Knitted Wit, and Kristine of AVFKW,
Gnomes from SplitYarn, and rows and rows of
super fun buttons!}
There were a few things that I missed out on, opening night party, the Sock Hop, and the Flash Mob (you can check out that craziness here: Sock Summit Flash Mob), but all in all, I would say it was a fantastic experience, and many thanks to all of the staff and volunteers (though I volunteered, I never got a response… maybe next time). Hopefully this is something that will continue to happen. We have such a great yarn community here in Portland, and really, in the whole Northwest – um, all it does is rain… we’re pretty good at socks and sweaters here, and I know everyone would be incredibly excited to see Sock Summit return again very soon.