Friday, 7 June 2013

The D.O.V.E. Fund Bandage Brigade

The photo on the right above is from the Quick Tricks, Book 188, published by Coats and Clark's in 1968. And no, that pattern is not intended to be used in the way you might have thought it was. Even the most bored of houswives wouldn't have thought clogging up her plumbing was a good use of her time, unless she had an incredibly hot plumber or something. No, those are not rolls of knitted toilet paper, but leper bandages. And I was all set to start making jokes about this pattern, had in fact written some of them, until I did a little research and found out that, bizarre as it was to include such a pattern in a booklet with all the frivolous and hideous items shown on the cover, a knitted leper bandage pattern isn't just some useless artifact. I deleted the jokes that suddenly didn't seem the least bit funny and decided to tell you about the actual need for handmade leper bandages in today's world.

Though leprosy can now be prevented, treated, and cured, and though approximately 95% of the world's population is immune to leprosy, there is still leprosy and leper colonies in some third-world countries where lack of proper food and bedding and contaminated water contribute to the spread of the bacteria that causes leprosy. Handmade leprosy bandages are needed for wrapping the stumps of leprosy patients because the handmade bandages breathe better than mass-manufactured gauze or bandages, and can be sterilized for reuse. The D.O.V.E. Fund Bandage Brigade, an offshoot of the non-profit D.O.V.E. (or Development of Vietnam Endeavors) Fund, is one organization that collects and transports handmade leper bandages to remote leper villages in Vietnam. Since they first organized in 2008, they've transported more than 15,000 bandages, usually in the luggage of D.O.V.E. mission volunteers en route to Vietnam. If you'd like to contribute to their efforts, they have instructions for either knitting or crocheting bandages on their website. If you've been looking for a charity that needs your knitting or crochet skills, making those bandages will be as easy as charity handiwork gets, and you could hardly make anything more useful.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Mystery of the Unsigned Yarn Bombs

In March 2012, a mystery yarn bomber, or bombers, decorated a railing on a pier in Saltburn, Yorkshire with a a 3-dimensional scarf commemorating the 2012 Olympics.

Residents of Saltburn wondered if the it could be the same yarn bomber who'd previously added various knitted decorations to several locations in town since 2011, such as the selection of Royal Jubilee yarn bombs that appeared on the handrail near the top of the incline tramway.

Now the yarn bomber, or possibly a group of them, struck again in May, decorating the railing on the Saltburn pier with a second and even more elaborate yarn bomb, this time with an aquatic theme. The Saltburn residents seem universally delighted with the wit, skill, and invention of the yarn bombs, but curious as to who could be responsible.

Given the scale of the projects, I think it more likely that it's a group of people than just one, but who knows where and how they'll strike next, or if they'll ever be identified? Who knows what yarn bombs designs lurk in the hearts of knitters?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

That Glove Just Wants to Be Your Teddy Bear or Chipmunk

This terrific idea for making a chipmunk out of an extra knitted glove comes from the book Happy Gloves: Charming Softy Friends Made from Colorful Gloves, by Miyako Kanamori. There's a full tutorial for how to make the chipmunk on Etsy. Looks like a practical and inventive way to give new life to a wool glove whose mate has disappeared into the ether... and don't we all have those.

You can see more of Kanamori's darling upcycled toys, such as the moose above, on her website. I used to knit toys such as teddy bears from scratch, but it got to be just too much work and too time-consuming. I think the breaking point was 2009, the year nine of my family members, friends, and co-workers produced babies. I now sew them, usually using remnant fabrics from my other sewing projects. People make just as big a fuss over sewn toys as they do over knitted ones, and the children who get them love them just as much. Upcycling knitwear that's in good condition and that would otherwise go to waste is another means to produce toys if you want toys with that knitted look.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Thug Knitt

Funny or Die brings us a video in which the supremacy of a knitting gang leader is challenged by an unlikely outsider and an epic one-on-one fight ensues. Respect, yo.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Beach Boy Knits

The beach boys you see above are sporting the "By the He Sea Laced-Tank Top and Slipover" and "Ripple Poncho" patterns from Aunt Lydia’s Rug Yarn Collection, published circa 1970. And where do I start? Besides being an aesthetic disaster, those tops look horribly hot and itchy. I keep expecting the models' spray-on tan to start running any minute and creating little orange pools on the floor. I think that if whoever made these items for these men actually got them to wear said items to the beach (and it would take no less than threats, substantial bribes, or blackmail), someone would wind up getting his or her head held under water.

And Aunt Lydia... if you can't remember that rug yarn is for rugs, maybe it's time we put you back in a home again.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Knitting Needles From Somewhere Over the Rainbow

If you find wood- or metal-tone knitting needles too visually bland or boring, you could always make these rainbow-coloured knitting needles out of wooden dowel and some watercolour paints. It's easy and inexpensive and the resulting gift would make a good gift for a knitter. Make It Handmade has posted a tutorial that tells you how it's done.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Knitted Wonderlands

You may have seen the works of Japanese-born, Nova Scotia-based artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam before (I know I've posted some pictures of her work on this blog's Facebook page as shares), without getting a chance to learn more about the artist behind them. Architecture News Daily offers us an excellent interview with Horiuchi MacAdam, who talks about how she came to focus on designing knitted playgrounds for children. She had been questioning the meaning and the value of the work she was doing, and then:

One day I was exhibiting a 3-dimensional open-work textile sculpture I had created in collaboration with a friend. Some children came to the gallery and climbed into it. Suddenly the piece came to life. My eyes were opened. I realized I wanted just such a connection between my work and people alive at this moment in time (not a hundred years from now). I realized I was in fact making works for children. It was an exciting moment for me.

I should say so. Judging from the pictures of her wonderful installations, the Japanese children who are fortunate enough to be able to play in Horiuchi MacAdam's knitted playground are able to have as much fun as they might at Chuck E. Cheese or Disneyland, with the all-important difference that the adults who accompany them or who pass through the park for their own purposes can actually enjoy the visual feast spread before them instead of having to feel like they're enduring some kind of aesthetic hell.

Horiuchi MacAdam at work on a knitted sculpture. Amazingly, her playgrounds are almost entirely handmade, although she does incorporate some mechanically knotted nets.

You can see photos and video of Horiuchi MacAdam's work in the above video, and also visit NetPlayWorks to view more of her work. Until recently, Horiuchi MacAdam's playgrounds had all been installed in Japan, but in 2012 she completed one in a municipal park in Zaragoza, Spain (and yes, it was certified compliant with European safety standards for children's play structures), and she and her husband Charles MacAdam are currently developing projects for Canada and the United States. I'm kind of hoping she does one for Canada. Adults would get to play on it too if they go during school hours or after bedtime, right?