Back in the crafty saddle again (sort of)

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Invincibility Star Hat
(Pattern modified from April Draven Designs)

So, it’s been a long time since I posted anything about crocheting. And I mean a really long time. I’m fairly certain the last time I posted anything I was currently working on was in August 2012. I will admit that I have had to put my crocheting largely on the backburner because of school, though I have actually been rather busy with it in recent weeks despite my needing to also work on my thesis. I am increasingly finding that crocheting is becoming the best way for me to combat school- and work-related stress, and I think it is largely because I am intending to donate my work to feel-good causes.  Continue reading

Donation Day #2: (Thanks)Giving

“A powerful way to show how thankful you are for what you have is to give some of it to those who have less.” (Vincent DiCaro, CNN contributor)

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Donated winterwear… and Freya, wishing she could have a pair of baby booties.

On Saturday November 10, after many delays (mainly due to exhaustion) and thus a bit later than I would have liked, I finally made it up to the Safehouse to donate my late Grandma’s scarves and baby booties, as well as the hats I crocheted over the summer. The final tally came to 22: 11 pairs of baby booties, 6 scarves, and 5 hats. Everything I made, save for some of the embellishments, was crocheted using my Grandma’s yarn. Giving away the beautiful things that she had made, as well as a few of my own creations, felt so wonderful and rewarding. I thought that parting with her creations would make me sad, but it did not: I was happy knowing that I fulfilled a generous task that she had done in life.

There was a trend on Facebook that a couple of my friends were taking part in: every day for 30 days, they would make their status something they were thankful for. Thanksgiving certainly is a time to be thankful– I myself have many things to be thankful for– but frankly, some of these statuses struck me as… well, selfish. Even tactless. I am happy for people who are able to live comfortable lives and be mindful of how lucky they are, yet there are so many people out there who do not have much to be thankful for. For one of my friends who posted every day about what she was thankful for– like the fact that she has a warm bed, a good job in a sh*t economy, her own car, etc– I’d say she got an average of 5 likes per status. That’s about 150 for the month. When I posted a status about giving things to those in need, I got 2 likes.

Two.

Granted, it was only one status (though I just posted the beautiful story of the NYC cop, Larry DePrimo, who bought shoes and thermal socks for a homeless man, and it only has one like). Perhaps people thought I was being preachy. Perhaps the fact that I have about half as many friends as this one girl does means that two is about right if we’re thinking in terms of percentages. Perhaps people just don’t check Facebook on Saturday mornings. Or perhaps my friends– real or “less real” (aka the people I barely know and am only Facebook friends with just because)– too vividly remember how selfish I used to be not too long ago.

I suppose that a little bit of selfishness is to be expected when you spend years struggling to stay employed in a bad economy, then dive headfirst into grad school, and mix in the fact that I am an only child. My shift towards being a less selfish person really began near the end of my first semester of grad school: I, like many other grad students, rarely ever feel like I am doing well. Grad school made me hyper-conscious of myself and my actions, but one of the few things that made me feel good was being kind to others. When my Grandma died, it was like something permanently changed in me. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for not having talked to her more in the months immediately preceding her passing. In a small way, my crocheting was an act of penance– for being a bad granddaughter and for being relatively selfish. Her death was a tragic catalyst that made me realize how much I wanted to do more good in the world.

Christmas is around the corner, and I am making plans to set up boxes at work and school to take donations of clothing and blankets to the Safehouse. This November and its 30 Days of Thankfulness may be over, but next year, I am thinking of doing my own version of it. And I won’t even care if I don’t get a single “like.”

Donation Day #1: Locks of Love!

I’ve only mentioned on this blog one other time that I was planning on cutting my extremely long hair and donating it to Locks of Love, and that day has at last arrived.

The last time I donated to Locks of Love was 5 years ago, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I could do it again because of how cumbersome it gets to take care of over a foot and a half of hair. When I started grad school, my hair was already pretty long, but then I never had time to get a haircut, so it just kept growing. And growing. By the time winter hit, I decided that I might as well donate my hair again. I went in to get a trim once just to make sure that my ends weren’t completely dead– luckily I never blow-dry or color my hair, so it was in pretty good shape. Today, I went to a nearby Great Clips, and I ended up getting a free haircut and style out of it!

When I measured my hair, I thought it would be a little longer once she cut off the 10 inches, but then she had to even it out and trim it a little more to get the hairstyle I wanted. It’s going to take some serious getting-used-to: I keep running my fingers through my hair, but then it just stops! It’s all gone– and it’s FABULOUS!

For those who don’t know, Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that uses donations of real hair to make hair prosthetics for financially disadvantaged children with diseases that have resulted in hair loss. According to their website, most of the children they serve suffer from alopecia areata. The mission of Locks of Love is to “return a sense of self, confidence, and normalcy” to these children.

Want to donate? You should– you will be helping a child in need! Be sure to check the website for their requirements: you need to be able to donate at least 10 inches of non-bleached hair. However, it doesn’t need to be just hair, they accept financial donations as well. Their address is:

Locks of Love
234 Southern Blvd
West Palm Beach, FL 33405

Things I dream about doing… after grad school

I have dedicated a lot of this blog’s bandwidth to rambling about grad school. Not a whole lot, but far more than I had originally intended. Summer has really opened my eyes to the glory of not being in school– in addition to revealing that everyone you know gets married in their mid- to late-20s– and I cannot believe that I ever used to get angsty about feeling bored.

My hate-love-hate relationship with grad school is kind of like my relationship with this meme.
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My relationship with grad school is best described as hate-love-hate– you know, kind of like West-Northwest, which is when you’re headed in a more Westward-ly direction than a simple 45 degree-Northwest– because, while I love learning new things and feeling like I am benefiting my career, I cannot even begin to express how stressful school can be some weeks. It’s not necessarily the copious amount of reading and writing– I’m actually pretty fond of the writing (shocking, I know– I only post on my blog every other day)– that gets to me so much as the classroom experience.

I’ve got 13 days until I’m back in school. One of my upcoming classes meets for seven hours a week. Seven. Two hours on Mondays and five hours on Wednesdays. All of my other classes– in the past and next semester– meet for 2.5 hours a week. Granted, the five-hour sessions are field-trip oriented, but still: seven hours for one class.

I’ve thought a lot about what my life is going to be like next summer, which is hopefully when I’ll be done with my Master’s degree. I don’t want to revert back to my pre-grad school ways– sitting on the couch all night playing Tiny Wings or Angry Birds, reading the news off of CNN.com like there is no tomorrow– because there is no denying that grad school has changed me. I can’t imagine being lazy after this experience. However, as much as I actually enjoy reading scholarly material now (seriously, I kind of do), there are other things I would like to do with my time as well. Continue reading

Crochet project #4: Complete!

Yeah, 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet is pretty much the best purchase I have made this summer. I just want to make more flowers– which means I will need to cave and buy some more yarn so I can have a wider array of colors– though I have to keep focused on my mission of completing 10 hats to donate this Fall. Flowers don’t take that long, though, so I could make some for fun. I just LOVE the Irish rose on this hat– it’s so big and is perfect for the size of the hat!

But don’t worry! The dianthus I also made is not going to go to waste (not that I waste anything I make– I would have turned it into a lovely decoration for my corkboard at work). As I was digging through my Grandma’s yarn to find more pink, I came across a fabulous pale pink skein that complements the dianthus beautifully. I think I am going to make this hat for a 6-9 month baby girl. I feel kind of bad because I am clearly having much more fun making things for girls. I found a gorgeous blue in my Grandma’s stash that I am thinking of making into a Captain America hat for a 3-10 year old boy. It’s not copyright infringement if I’m not making any money off of it, right? I just figure that boys like to feel like superheroes (so do lots of girls, for that matter :-)). No idea how I’ll make the “A”, though…

Crochet project #4: Flower hat

I had been thinking about doing a flower hat for a toddler for some time since I started this hat-crocheting frenzy, and I had seen many examples of flower hats that people on WordPress have made themselves. However, I have never made a flower before, and I could only find a couple patterns between my Stitch ‘n’ Bitch and The Crochet Bible books. I started the hat yesterday while sitting at the DMV and was only thinking about the colors that would go well for a to-be-determined flower.

But then I was at Barnes and Noble last night, and lo and behold, I found this: 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet. Angels sang and grown men wept tears of joy.

Leslie Stanfield is absolutely amazing: the designs are based off of actual flowers! One could create their own yarny garden, if they wanted! Unfortunately, many of the flowers I like are knitted, and maybe when I get more confident in my flower-crocheting abilities, I will modify the patterns (or I’ll relearn how to knit). For now, I am particularly partial to the geranium, auricula, Irish rose, helenium, and dianthus patterns. The fuchsia flower is really beautiful too and would make for good tassels, though that may be going a bit overboard. I’m debating if I want to put one giant flower on the hat (Irish rose would be perfect) or if I want to put several smaller flowers. I am going to have to delve into my own yarn stash for this, since I have a wider variety of vibrant colors than my Grandma’s stash has, but I’m not breaking my self-imposed rules: the bulk of the hat is made of her own lovely Caron Simply Soft No Dye Lot yarn.

Crochet project #3: Finito! …mostly

I wish I was a kid again, I would totally rock this hat. It is just about done, though I am trying to decide if I want to add eyes, or if I want to use a slip stitch with black thread around the ear flaps so it looks more uniform. If I do add eyes, I don’t want anything that can fall off or be swallowed.

And now it’s back to the academic grind. I figured if I finished the hat I would have no excuse not to get back to the reading I seem to keep avoiding. 🙂