Behold the Evolution

It was February 2009 when I received the email from Lion Brand Yarns introducing me to the world of Knit-a-square. Can you believe I actually emailed Sandy to ask if they’d accept crocheted squares? I had no idea what an impact my small amount of 8″ squares could make, nor the impact KAS would have on me.

First Squares

I joined the forum and started crocheting a handful of squares, originally with the goal of making enough squares for a blanket (40, at that time) by the end of the year. Then in April came the first forum challenge – make a square a day for a month. I decided that if I could complete the challenge then I was definitely committed. Thirty squares later, I was hooked! It’s hard to believe I used to send five or six squares at one time in a padded envelope.

Dance Blanket

At the end of 2009, Debbie Posmontier bought tickets to see the Soweto Gospel Choir in Philadelphia (U.S.) and suggested we make blankets for the choir members to bring back to South Africa with them. Could we do it in time? I created a jigsaw square pattern, pulled together my stash of yarn and finished the blanket with just enough time to post it for the concert. A total of 28 blankets were made and presented! And, unbelievably, my blanket was chosen to be on stage.

Dance

Personalized squares, baby blankets, GO-Overs, KASCuddles, hats, squares from quilt patterns… it didn’t take me long to branch out. My family started gifting me balls of yarn for Christmas and birthdays. I created alphabet books for members to print and send, an 8″ ruler to help spread the word and alphabet square patterns. For all that I’ve done for KAS though, this charity has returned the gift to me tenfold.

KAS has given me a chance to learn new patterns, play with colour and expand my crochet skills. I can’t describe the joy and pride I feel when I see one of my squares in a photo, in amongst all of the other colourful works of art.

Through KAS I have made friends across the globe and even met a few of them in person. One of these days, I’m going to travel for the sole purpose of meeting more of those lovely people.

KAS has given me something purposeful to do while waiting – in lines, for appointments, on transit – and allowed me to start conversations with curious people so I can raise awareness about the poverty and need in South Africa.

It has helped me to feel fulfilled as a human being because, from half a globe away, I can help children in need. I can’t think of anything else in this world, aside from helping by physically being there, that can give that feeling, and at so little cost.

So, thank you, Knit-a-square – Ronda, Wendy, Lindi, Wandi, Lorinda and so many more – for giving so much not only to me, but to all the precious children you help each day.

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Purl One, Knit For Good

My mom taught me to crochet when I was seven years old. In my memory I learned instantly, although I know that isn’t possible. I’m sure there were challenging times where I was trying to catch on to the stitches and order of things. Since I’ve been crocheting for such a long time it comes easily to me; I can read a pattern like a book, know what type of yarn it is by feel and turn out a square in about an hour.

Knitting, on the other hand, is another story. I learned to knit last year, again thanks to my mom. I had tried to knit (unsuccessfully) for years but finally something clicked. My first square took three days. I made one more square after that and put the idea of knitting aside.

TeddyFast forward to this past winter when I joined a knitting group. After being literally surrounded by knitters, I felt compelled to pick up the needles once again. I decided to knit a simple sweater for Evan’s teddy bear. I made some mistakes and more than once shouted at my husband, “I don’t know why people think this is a fun and relaxing thing to do!” while trying desperately to get my stitches back on the needle. I persevered and Teddy had a sweater.

JorgeThen it was Mason’s monkey’s turn. Jorge’s sweater went a little quicker but I still experienced some frustration. The difference was, I was finally learning the construction of the knitted stitch. I found better ways to fix my mistakes and even learned how to increase and decrease. Now I was unstoppable.

I moved on to a square. I really wanted to try the seed stitch. I learned how knit and purl stitches interacted with each other. I managed to finish a square the same day in which I had started. Next up: a basketweave square. I perfected the way I held my yarn and actually managed to keep track of my stitches.

Seed Stitch-Basketweave

Now I’m really hooked. Or would that be needled?

Check out the amazing squares members have made for the KAS July Challenge: Stripes, Textures, Zig-zags and a Mandela Day Salute. Mark your calendars for Mandela Day on July 18!

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June: The Month of Younger Ones

African-Child-logoOn June 16, 1976, about 10,000 black school children marched the streets of Soweto, South Africa in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the inferior quality of their education and demanding the right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of children were shot down by security forces and more than a hundred people were killed during the following two weeks of protest, not to mention the countless number who were injured.

June 16th has been celebrated since 1991 as the Day of the African Child, to honour the memory of those killed and the courage of those who marched. It also brings a reminder of the continuing struggles with health, education, protection and inequality. The Day of the African Child is this month’s challenge on the KAS forum.

wwkipeuropeCoinciding with the Day of the African Child is World Wide Knit in Public Day, from June 14 to June 22. WWKPD has grown from a single day to a week-long celebration and serves as a way for knitters/crocheters to come together and enjoy each other’s company. I don’t mind crocheting in public. Many people will stare, mostly because they’re transfixed by how fast my fingers move. I’ve encouraged more than a few people to learn, taught two people how to crochet and spread the word about KAS to as many people as will listen.

Also of note are some June factoids. The first is that June is the month with the longest daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest number of daylight hours in the Southern Hemisphere, where South Africa is. The second interesting tidbit is that the name June is fabled to come from the Latin word iuniores, meaning “younger ones,” as opposed to maiores (“elders”) for the month of May.

When I took all of these things into consideration, I immediately wanted to make a Hexagon Sweater for the June challenge. It’s a perfect way to honour the children of South Africa, I can work on it anywhere and it keeps the little ones warm during the darker winter months.

Hexagon Sweater

I picked up this fantastic green yarn on our last trip to the U.S. and paired it with a beautiful periwinkle-lavendar (actually called Lavender Blue on the label). Hopefully these vibrant colours will brighten a dark night.

More StashLast night I was also lucky enough to receive a HUGE bag of donated yarn by someone who was looking to contribute to a charitable cause. I can’t wait to sift through this bag of varied colours, textures and fibres. It’s almost like Christmas all over again!

Have fun with this challenge and be sure to check out some of the amazingly creative squares fellow members have made, from the African Flower pattern to educational squares to African colour themes!

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April’s Colour Collision

We’ve had a particularly long and snowy winter here in Canada but the signs were slowly appearing that Spring was around the corner. The geese came back, the snow melted (with the exception of some stubborn snowbanks), the garden showed signs of coming back to life and there is even a duck nesting in it. And then yesterday it snowed. AGAIN. Will winter ever end, I wondered?

Garden Duck

Then I checked out the April challenge on the KAS forum, Colour Collision. Could anything be more right to combat the white fluffiness of never ending snow? I’m lucky enough to have a large stash of yarn, balls given to me from here and there or picked up from a sale I couldn’t resist. I raided my stash last night for the most colourful yarns I could find and worked them up into the most colourful square I could think of.

Colour Collision SquareThe sun was shining on my square when I woke up this morning. What a difference a day makes! The morning was bright, the snow was melting despite the below freezing temperature and my square appeared even brighter than it did last night.

I know winter can’t last forever but it certainly does feel like it sometimes. Working on this square lifted my spirits and I hope it will lift the spirit of a little one when they receive it in a finished blanket.

Here are some photos of other members’ Colour Collision squares, and what an amazing job they’ve done!

Anneke

Anneke

Lisa Marie

Lisa Marie

Elaine

Elaine

Mary Anne

Mary Anne

Lisa Marie2

Lisa Marie’s Go-Over

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Happy 8th birthday, Mason!

MasonMy big boy Mason turns eight years old today! Now that his Minecraft-themed party is over, I can share some pics. For those of you who don’t know, Minecraft is a computer game where you “mine” for 3D textured cubes and build, well, pretty much anything you want. It’s very popular with both kids Mason’s age and adults alike. I’ve learned a lot about Minecraft over the past month!

For the invitation, I got a 3″ brown box from a storage solutions store and printed green pixelated grass for the top and edge to mimic a grass cube.

Invitation

Mason labeled the food – wool (popcorn), sticks (pretzels), TNT (licorice) and monster eggs (jelly beans).

Food

Minecraft cakeI found out there is a cake in Minecraft. Who knew? Naturally, I had to make it and naturally, I had to add to it so it wasn’t so plain. So I made a sugar cookie pickaxe and iced squares onto it.

Cake

Then the boys “mined” (scavenger hunt) for crocheted Minecraft blocks – creeper, diamond, grass cube, obsidian, stone, TNT and emerald. I had a ton of fun making them!

Blocks

A good time was had by all! Now on to Evan’s birthday party ideas…

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Hearts Warming Hands

Last night I tucked the boys into bed and casually checked my email, where there was a March KASnippet waiting for me. I began reading about Hobby X and the move to the new office space (YAY!) but the Hand-Warmers stopped me in my tracks. I’ve always thought I needed to send a hat with a batch of squares but there’s been a surplus of hats. The perfect solution is Hand-Warmers! ‘What a fantastic idea’ was my first thought. ‘Think of the possibilities!’ was my second – the colours of the South African flag, a rainbow, adding a flower, adding a butterfly, stripes, a diagonal pattern… the possibilities truly are endless.

HandWarmers1I immediately went upstairs, chose my colours and started crocheting. I used 25 stitches, as Linda laid out in the pattern, worsted weight yarn and a 6.0 mm hook. In the time it takes me to crochet a square, one hour, I had a pair of completed hand-warmers. And they weren’t kidding, it took very little yarn. A great stashbuster! The sizing is perfect for both my 4-year old and 7-year old.

I did make some alterations. To save myself from the sewing, I crocheted my last row to the beginning chain, with the chain row at the front of my work and using the back loops of my second-to-last row, right sides together. For stitches 15 to 20, I crocheted only on the second-to-last row to create the thumb hole (see below), then picked up both rows for the last five stitches. Lastly, I added an edge around the top to stop little fingers from snagging the places where I carried the yarn. It also helps to give a nice finishing and shows where the top is so no one is guessing which way is up.

HandWarmers3

I’ve spent the last month crocheting mittens and hats for an April craft sale so making a pair of Hand-Warmers was a welcome diversion. I’m no stranger to ribbing, both on my mittens and from my knitting friends who tease me all the time about how fast crochet is compared to knitting.

HandWarmers2I can see already that these are going to be addictive. I have so many little balls of yarn to use up, some that were donated to me, some that were the end of a larger ball. It’s a great portable project with very little time commitment. They would slip nicely into a KAS package. And it would be an amazing first project for anyone learning to crochet or knit.

I say, HOORAY! for Linda Maltby!

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Squaring in a Circle

The first square I’ve made since the end of 2013 was crocheted at a knitting circle with a couple of friends. Being off work has finally given me the time to join a social circle and it’s amazing to see how much I get done.

Crocheting in public is very different from doing it with friends. I bring my crochet to the doctor’s office, parties, family get-togethers, the park and on transit. Most people ignore it and some ask what I’m working on. But when we’re all working on something, it becomes less about the needlework and more about the chatter. And I have to admit, I really like it.

Together SquareThis reversible square has a warm waffle texture. Using stripes really brings out the visual texture of the stitch (see Week 49 for examples). My next project uses this stitch in a baby blanket for a friend.

Start with an even number of chains.
Row 1: *Single crochet two together, chain one*, repeat * * across, sc in last stitch.

Row 2: *Sc two together (using the ch-1 space for the second half of the stitch), ch 1*, repeat * * across, sc in last stitch.

Get ready for a deluge of Michael’s blankets!
Blanket five…

BlanketFive

Blanket six…

BlanketSix

Blanket seven…

BlanketSeven

Blanket eight…

BlanketEight

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