October 2011

How to Tie-Dye on a Budget

Tips, ingredients, and tools to get you started.

Craft stores often sell affordable tie-dye kits that dye one, or two pieces of clothing  A problem arises, however, when you are in charge of providing a craft for a large group, but are only given a small stipen in which to buy craft supplies. Fortunately, you can still add tie-dyeing to your list of things to do. Simply use food coloring, or Kool-Aid packets instead.

Turn Your Walls into an Easel for Your Children

Cultivate Their Inner Artist

If you have small children, chances are you have writing on your walls, or have had to clean it off at some point.  Something about the wide-open, blank canvas of a pristine white wall is simply irresistible to many kids.  If you want to encourage their creativity while keeping your house clean and your sanity intact, you can turn your wall into an easel that, when they're done playing with, requires no scrubbing or cleaning.

I Can't Let My Kids Draw on the Wall!
In my opinion, it is almost impossible to prevent kids from drawing on the wall once they discover how fun it is.  My 18-month old daughter just discovered her inner artist, and no matter how careful we are about keeping pens, pencils and crayons picked up, she manages to find one and pull a Picasso before we have a chance to notice.  I think this is a case where you can go with the tide or be washed under.

Homeless Knitters

"Knitting feeds the soul - and more"
This amazing article in the Washington Post has brought to light something that's obvious once you think about it: a certain percentage of knitters are homeless. This is true of just about anything, of course. And sadly, it's more true these days than it used to be, with the unemployment rate climbing, and the number of foreclosures continuing to rise.
 
In the discussion about this news article on Ravelry, several knitters stepped forward to explain that they were homeless, or had once been. Doubtless there were more homeless Ravelry users who either didn't see the thread or didn't want to "out" themselves.

The Case Against Charity Knitting

This is an extremely volatile topic, so I shall tread lightly. Charity knitting is one of the most revered traditions in the knitting world. Knitters have been asked to help the cause by donating their knitting throughout history. What knitter hasn't swooned a little at those "Knit Your Bit" posters from WWII?
 
Knitting for a charity makes us feel good about ourselves. What's wrong with that? Nothing, except that the warm fuzzy feeling can quickly turn to a smug sense of complacency. And more damning of all, that sending hand-knit goods is probably not the best way to help the intended recipients.
 
It stings to hear it, I know. As someone who has spent literally hundreds of hours on charity knitting projects, I'm wincing at this, too. But it's true: between your time, the materials cost, the cost  for you to mail the item, and the cost to ship it out to the recipients, they just don't get the value from it that they would if you donated money to the cause.

Conceptual Knitting

 

I recently learned about "conceptual knitting," which is the amazing invention of artist Lea Redmond with Leafcutter Designs. The first conceptual knitting project (Redmond promises more to come in the future) is the Sky Scarf.
 
The idea behind the Sky Scarf is that you knit a row on a garter stitch scarf every day, which represents the color of the sky on that day. If you use laceweight yarns with two strands held together, and do it every day, you end up with a 5 foot-long scarf by the end of the year. The scarf is not only a physical artifact of your year, but also a unique representation of the natural world, recorded in scarf form. The Sky Scarves are surprisingly beautiful just as objects in and of themselves. 

Reverse Graffiti: Oops, I Made A Clean Spot!

 

This great video shows the work of a crew of "reverse graffiti" artists working in the city of Riga in Latvia. A reverse graffiti artist "draws" their artwork in the filth and grime accumulated on city walls and sidewalks, using a pressure sprayer. Most of their artwork is made with the use of stencils - made from some sort of sturdy material, I should think! But easy to wield, and the results are amazing.