Green Crafting

During most of 2013, Whipup.net will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Hi! We are Abby Glassenberg and Stacey Trock and we are guest editors together here on WhipUp for the month of March.

We are both stuffed animal designers, Stacey crochets amigurumi and Abby sews softies, and we both have creative businesses centered around our crafts. We share a love of making something new and wonderful, by hand, where nothing existed before. The theme for our month here together is the notion of making something from nothing.

Craft, in its essence, is about turning humble materials, such as yarn and cloth, into beautiful, useful things that enrich our lives. It is DIY at its essence and we are excited to share our ideas on this topic and to hear yours, too. Thank you for joining us!

owl and the pussycat

Owl and the pussycat

Abby:

I spent winter vacation at my in-laws house. I always bring a project with me on trips and this year I brought my scrap bin. While everyone sat around the fire, watching movies in the evening, I sat on the floor and sorted a year’s worth of fabric scraps into color-coded baggies. Some scraps were fairly large and some were treasured bits of vintage fabric, but others were just tiny leftovers from some project or other. Looking at some of those tiny pieces my mother-in-law said to me, “Don’t you throw anything away?”

Here’s the thing. I love crafting for a whole host of reasons, but primary among them is my devotion to making something from nothing. That tiny scrap could become a beautiful covered button or a fabric flower pin! I save what other people might sweep up and throw out. Why? Because I’m a crafter.

This month on WhipUP my friend and fellow plush maker, Stacey Trock, and I will be talking about our mutual love of making something from nothing. We’ve got lots of thoughts and ideas for you on this topic and we’re excited to be here.

Abby’s Blog: While she naps :: Etsy :: Facebook

dragons

Dragon pattern

Stacey: I absolutely love quilts. The idea that you can take tiny scraps from well-worn clothing and make something functional… even something beautiful, has always astounded me. I never became a very skilled quilter, but my passion for using and reusing every scrap of material and fiber lives on. Professionally, I’m a crochet designer who specializes in making stuffed animals. I live the lucky life of being surrounded by yarn and making beautiful things that I (and others) enjoy. But after my design-work is done, there are leftovers. A half-skein of blue yarn. A little patch of felt. A fun fluffy orange yarn. I can’t bear to see them vanish into the garbage bin. Instead, I stow these leftovers in a bag in my closet. They’re still valuable… they have a crafting purpose left!

This month, I’m delighted to team up with Abby Glassenberg, a fellow plush maker, who also shares my passion for letting no crafting material go to waste. I hope you love what we have to share!

Stacey’s blog: Fresh stitches :: Twitter @freshstitches

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The Essential Herbal for Natural Health: How to Transform Easy-to-Find Herbs into Healing Remedies for the Whole Family by Holly Bellebuono [blog]. Roost Books (March 13, 2012).

As you may have guessed I am very much into home herbal healing and beauty products lately. I love how they make me feel, how they smell, how satisfying they are to make and that they do really work. I recently published my latest Action Pack Magazine all about this topic – it’s called Family Apothecary – you can download a free excerpt – how to make healing salves.

Holly begins the book by describing the 11 essential herbs that she refers to throughout this book and the various methods for using the herbs — tinctures and herbal oils, tisanes and teas, infusions, decoctions and syrups, plasters and liniments and soaks – it is very thorough. Holly’s writing style is easy to digest and understand — she explains all of this in a very non-stuffy friendly way. The recipes focus on specific remedies to men, women, children and then the whole family.

This book really feels complete. Its compact size and easy layout will mean it can remain in the kitchen or bathroom or close at hand for when you need to quickly look something up, and the lovely breezy, yet knowledgeable writing style will make you want to sit on the couch and read it all cover to cover with a cup of herbal brew.

There is a really lovely chapter titled ‘mind and spirit’ which has recipes for easing anxiety and insomnia, there are teas and tinctures for sleeping and improving memory and for boosting your emotional strength.

I want to share this recipe for Crossroads tea

Holly says that this tea is grounding and centering.

2 tablespoons of dried chopped ginger
1 quart of water (just under 1 litre)
2 tablespoons of dried violet flowers

Simmer the ginger in the water for 5-8 minutes, add the violets and stir and remove from the heat. Cover and let steep for 5-8 minutes. Strain and drink.

Oh and I need to mention the wonderful illustrations — hand drawn by Geninne Zlatkis.

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Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…

Lara Cameron is a Melbourne based textile designer and co-owner of Ink & Spindle, a boutique, organic and sustainable yardage screen printing studio located in Melbourne. Lara blogs at kirinote.

It would be so easy for me to write a post about how to turn your hobby or passion into a business. It’s a topic I know about all too well, since textile design was one of those things I dabbled with on the side before Teegs and I launched Ink & Spindle, our small, textile design and screen printing business. But I think there’s enough posts out there already explaining the value of business plans, pricing, blogging and good photography (although if you want to know about pricing check out the blog post I wrote on the topic over here!).

Instead I thought it would be nice to write about how my craft – and running Ink & Spindle – has improved my health and outlook on life. Because over the years it’s becoming more and more apparent to me how much the way I view the world has changed during the time we’ve owned this business.

I guess fundamental to this shift in thinking is the fact that running a small business doesn’t provide much in terms of financial reward. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact. If you want to produce goods in an ethical, sustainable manner, without cutting corners or working crazy hours, you’ll never make as much money as those people whose businesses function within (and depend upon) the fundamentally flawed construct of the capitalist world. You pay first world rent, pay first world wages, work first world hours (mostly). Naturally profit margins are much lower, but that’s inherent in any ethical business and I feel like it’s the only way I’d ever like to earn money.

So if you’re not doing it for financial reward, why are you doing it? Because there are other rewards in the world that are more valuable than money, such as going to work each day and feeling good about what you are doing. It feels like such a privilege to do something each day that I enjoy, to work with my hands, be creative, be surrounded by good people and ultimately have full control over my own direction. It’s also highly rewarding to feel like you’re making some small positive contribution to the world. We may be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of the world of textiles, but it’s great to be providing people with an ethical alternative, and proving to our peers that it is possible to make a living doing something you love.

In a way I’ve found my very modest wage to be quite liberating. Before Ink & Spindle I worked as a web and graphic designer. My wage was still modest but fairly consistent, and I started to entertain the notion that I could buy some property. Buying a house is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was quite young, and I still love the idea of it. But living in Melbourne where property prices are through the roof respective to average incomes, buying a home anywhere close to the city is something that’s just not an option to a lot of people in my generation.

But strangely, now that that option has been taken away from me, I actually feel quite free. Thinking about buying a house and feeling like I needed to save a lot and start looking ASAP was always a background stress in my life, a constant pressure. Now that I’ve let that go I feel like my eyes have been opened to other ways of thinking about life and what my priorities are. I also feel as though it’s okay for me to live more in the moment. I don’t need to be constantly saving or chasing higher incomes just so that I can save for a deposit or pay off a bit more of a mortgage. I can live a bit more for the “now”. I can focus on those things that make my day to day life enjoyable – friends, family, making things – and what’s more important than being happy, right now?

I think this is a good moment to quote a bit of the wise ‘ol Dalai Lama: The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, he said:

 

Man.
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.

I guess it’s easy for me to spout these ideals whilst I am currently unattached and childless, but I hope that in my future – when I do have a family – I will be able to live by similar values. I’d like to live simply. I’d like to extend the ethical practices of my business into more facets of my life. I’d like to have chooks and a vegie garden and maybe one day build a self sufficient home outside of town.

I guess to put it simply, my small creative business has educated and allowed me to step outside of the rat race, view it from a slightly more objective standpoint. I am happier and healthier now that I stand free of those pressures, and am glad to be able to put my time and energy into building a business that makes myself and others happy and is hopefully benefiting the world in some small way :)

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This is a guest post by Kathryn AKA CrochetBlogger. She is the blogger at Crochet Concupiscence, a leading source for all crochet news and information.

From Kathy Withers Fiber Ranch in Arizona: Tucson Wool Festival http://www.uniquedesignsbykathy.com/

What is the Slow Yarn Movement?

The Slow Movement has taken off in recent years. Many people know the term because they are interested in slow food (as opposed to fast food). However there are also trends in slow gardening, slow travel, slow fashion, slow schooling and slow art. And I would argue that there is a trend towards Slow Yarn despite the fact that not many crafters are using the term.

Understanding the Slow Movement

The Slow Movement is, as the name suggests, an intentional shift towards living a slower paced life but it is about far more than just simplifying life and reducing fast-paced processes. The slow movement is about sustainability, supporting a local economy and engaging more hands-on in all areas of a craft. So for example, the slow food movement encompasses buying from local organic farmers as well as growing, preparing and preserving your own foods.

So What is Slow Yarn?

When it comes to yarn, the slow movement can encompass many different things. Knitters and crocheters are already participating in a slow yarn way of life since they are choosing to hand create items, including clothing and home furnishings, rather than buying them factory-made. But those yarn crafters who want to go further into the slow yarn movement can do so at many different levels from raising their own fiber to spinning their own yarn.

Elements of a Slow Yarn Lifestyle:

  • Choosing carefully sourced yarn. A responsible approach to yarn crafts includes making careful choices in the type of yarn that is purchased and where it is bought. Slow yarn supporters choose sustainable yarn, usually from independent sellers. There is a big emphasis on buying locally at fiber festivals but some people consider “local” to refer to purchases from their home country and may be through indie yarn sellers online. The book Knit Local by Tanis Gray is a great resource for people interested in the history and business philosophies of local yarn sellers.
  • Growing your own fiber to create your own yarn. Even slower than buying yarn responsibly is making your own yarn. This can mean starting a small fiber farm with animals like sheep and alpacas or growing your own plants to process into yarn. You can then spin the fiber into yarn and use the yarn in your crafts.
  • Using recycled yarn materials. Recycling and upcycling are certainly also part of the slow yarn movement. You can make yarn out of plastic bags, old T-shirts and sheet and even bicycle tire tubes.
  • Home-based yarn dyeing. The slow movement breaks down the process of a craft and encourages the crafter to participate in each step. Instead of buying a pre-dyed yarn, the crafter may dye yarn at home. A truly committed slow yarn crafter would grow her own herbs and use them as a natural dye base.

Benefits of a Slow Yarn Movement

Here are some of the reasons that people choose to join the Slow Yarn Movement:

  • Supporting the local community. People who buy locally are helping to lend support to the other indie crafters in their area. This is good for the local economy, enhances options for people to live creatively and builds stronger ties with others.
  • Meditative qualities. Taking the time to slow down and participate in each part of the process allows the crafter to enjoy more of the “in the moment” wonder of crafting.
  • Eco-conscious lifestyle. The slow yarn movement emphasizes eco-friendly practices and habits from reduced transportation when buying local yarns to increased use of repurposed materials in upcycling.
  • It’s fun! If you already love to knit or crochet then your whole experience of crafting can be enhanced when you also learn to dye or spin your own fiber.

So are you going to jump on the slow yarn train? Why or why not?

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