Monday, May 20, 2013

Knitting -- My First Garment by Wendy Laharnar

Wendy Lahamar is a fourth generation Australian. She is also an author, traveler, fan of Formula One racing and a knitter. Please join me in welcoming Wendy to "With Hook in Hand" and learn about:

Knitting -- My First Garment  by Wendy Laharnar 

My mother was a beautiful knitter. From early childhood, I loved to watch the way she held the needles and wound the wool around her little finger. She made jumpers and cardigans for her mum and sisters, herself and me.  When I was ten, I asked for needles and wool. Amazingly, it was my dad who taught me to knit…left handed. All three of us were left handed, but Mum and I learned to write with our right hand.

Mum realized I was keen, so with her guidance I swapped to my right hand, and she taught me to read patterns. I knitted small scarves and ‘blankets’ for my dolls, and wrapped them in Christmas paper to be opened on Christmas morning. At eleven, I began a jumper for myself but didn’t finish it.

When I was twelve, I taught Gwenny, my best friend, what I knew about knitting, and together we started knitting ourselves a beanie. The pattern had a long tail and a pompom on the end. The finished beanies came close to the pattern but not exactly.

You see, it was a Friday night during school holidays, Gwenny was staying at my place and we planned to go to the Saturday matinee at the Coronet Theatre. I wanted us to wear our new beanies but they weren’t finished. Gwenny agreed to stay up late, but Mum finally drew the line and made us go to bed. It seemed as if our special achievement would not happen. As novices we couldn’t knit as fast as Mum, who would have delighted in leaving the finished beanies at the foot of our bed.  There was no way I would let her help us. “This is Gwenny’s and my project,” I insisted. “We’ll succeed or fail together.”

The next morning we woke early and Gwenny took out her knitting. “We still have time,” she said. The pictures would start at 2:00 pm and we needed to leave the house on our pushbikes at 1:30.

We went without breakfast and, clickety-clack, the tails on our beanies grew, slowly. By midday it was clear we would not reach the recommended length. I decided we should stop knitting and make the poms-poms and then see how much time we had left. With the pom-poms in hand, we looked at attaching them, but the tails weren’t tapered. I said, “We have to start decreasing now.” Gwenny agreed, and we jumped to the end of the pattern. At 1:15 pm we were sewing on the pom-poms. Then with only a quick wash, we dressed and scoffed down a sandwich, because Mum wouldn’t let us go without it.

Mum grabbed the camera saying this was an important moment. So, proudly we stood at the back door, Gwenny, (in tartan) and me, wearing our short, long tailed beanies; our achievement recorded for posterity.

I don’t remember the name of the pictures we watched that day, but I’ll never forget Gwenny and the time we shared knitting our first garments together.

To this day, I am still knitting; now with the help of Spitzli.


Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your story and photos with us.  You may learn more about Wendy at:

Wendy's Blog, My Imagination
And on FaceBook

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rhonda Moore--Crocheting for Charity

From Rhonda Moore

My mother taught me how to knit when I was 11 years old. I had always been a crafty little girl. I used to make clothes for my dolls and stuffed animals out of old socks. All growing up I did different crafts, art projects.

After high school I went to cosmetology school and worked as a hairdresser until complications during pregnancy put me on bed rest. I was a stay at home mom for a while after that. After leaving my abusive husband, I had to go back to work.

What better place can a crafty girl get a job than at Michael's! It opened up a whole new world of crafts and art! I went through many different mediums. I tried needlepoint, silk ribbon embroidery, painting, pastels, quilting, you name it! I was decent at most of them. Then I decided to quit my job and go back to school! I got my degree in Graphic Design and worked as a Graphic Designer/Studio Manager for a photography studio and taught private Photoshop classes to photographers on the side.

In 2003 my son was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome (a form of Autism). Being a single mom, working full time and dealing with a special needs child, I lost a lot of my energy to do crafts in my spare time. Other than being creative at work and the occasional karaoke night, I had no creative outlet. In 2005 I began to get really bad headaches and I thought it was just from looking at a computer screen all day long. Then I began to get wide spread pain in my whole body. In October 2006 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. In August of 2007 the pain had gotten so bad that I had to quit working all together.

I am not one to sit around, so I got into quilting, but sitting at a sewing machine was not working with the pain either.  Instead, I decided to get back into my knitting, which I could do while laying in bed. I wanted to learn some more complex patterns so I went on YouTube! In my search I stumbled upon some crochet videos and thought, “Hey, I wanna try that!”

In 2010 I picked up my first hook! After making some square patches (back and forth to practice) I decided to go all out and make an afghan! It came out beautifully!

I was hooked--pun intended! I made some flowers for some of my beanies that I had knitted. During this time, while playing Farmville, I made a friend who lived all the way across the country, and who also crocheted. We got to talking and thought, we should do some projects for charity!

We knew we would probably need some help so in July, 2011 Charity Crochet Exchange was born! I started a group on Facebook and posted the link on all kinds of different crochet pages and we grew fast! We did our first project in August, 2011.

We both had friends and family in the military so our first project was for our troops. Our members made their squares, sent them to me and I did the assembly. We made 2 red, white and blue afghans for injured vets in long stay hospital care. There were 10 members who worked on that project.
Shortly after, my co-founder had some personal issues and had to leave the group. With the growing number of members and projects, I needed some help. Two of our members went above and beyond and had as much time on their hands as I did, so I made them my admins!

Finally, I had HELP!! With their help with all of the administrative aspects of the group, finding charities and such, it freed me up so I could concentrate on the assembly. I do all of the assembly, unless we have a HUGE project that I cannot do alone. Our second project was for ASPCA. We tried to do projects that meant something to our members, and still do.
Now going on 2 years, we have over 100 members, and we have done 24 afghans for various charities, plus hats and scarves and our latest project we did more than 60 lapghans for a nursing home local to one of our members. Our event calendar is booked every month till the beginning of 2014. We are now getting requests from charities who wish to have one of our afghans for an auction or raffle.

It is amazing to me how watching one YouTube video can lead to this! Crochet, for me, has been a life saver! Not only does it keep me busy when I can't get out of bed, but it has brought a purpose to my life. When you are unable to work, you start to become depressed. You feel worthless, lazy, like a completely unproductive member of society. I no longer feel that way. Charity Crochet Exchange makes me proud of what I do. It makes me feel know, even though I can't work, I can do something to help people (or animals) who may be worse off than I am.