Yarn Heroes, Chapter 1: Mama In A Stitch
Greetings fiber fanatics, crafters of all kinds and stitchers of all stripes! We want to help every crafter, from beginners to seasoned experts, unleash their inner Yarn Hero! This fall, we’ve assembled a super group of 15 of your favorite yarn bloggers and designers to inspire you to pick up your hooks & needles for a good cause. Every week, we’ll be telling you the stories of these uncanny Yarn Heroes, finding out what issues and causes are dear to them, and giving you a closer look into the lives of these fine folk from the frontiers of fiber! Up first, the inimitable Mama In A Stitch!
LB: Tell us a little about unleashing your inner Yarn Hero – What inspired your charity project, “The Loft” Pom Baby Blanket?
Mama In A Stitch: A while back, I was researching blanket sizes to make a sizing guide for the blog, and I came across Project Linus. It just seemed so incredibly special. Now, having a child of my own, I can’t imagine the difficulty these families and children face as they battle serious health issues. I remember receiving a hand knit hat from the hospital when my daughter was born, and it meant so much to me! I specifically asked the nurse, “Is this handmade?!” When she said yes, I couldn’t believe that someone would take the time to make something so special for someone that they’d never met.
This was before I’d ever touched a crochet hook or knitting needles. I hope that the blanket that I’ve made can bring a smile to a family that is facing difficult times. I also hope to use up some of my partial skeins of super bulky yarn and use the same pattern to make a blanket for a cat or dog in my local shelter. We are major animal lovers in this house and my daughter will be especially happy to take that donation to the shelter with me.
LB: That’s a fantastic story. We are also major animal lovers at Lion Brand and have a sweet tripod Yorkiepoo named Pumpkin who is the mascot of the Marketing team. In a way, he is all of our comfort animal, so we are thrilled that you are thinking of making something for animals 🙂
Is this your first experience with service / charity crafting?
Mama: While I have given many knit and crochet gifts to friends and family, I have yet to donate to a yarn craft charity until now. In fact, I wrote a blog post at the beginning of the year where I talked about the fact that I’d like to do something with a charity that could use handmade items this year. Several of my readers have talked about making items for charity so I’m excited to finally be joining them! This is why I’m especially thrilled to be part of this campaign and I hope to continue to keep yarn charity projects going throughout the years ahead.
LB: Have you been involved in charitable work that doesn’t involve knitting?
Mama: Beyond sponsoring children through non-profits, I was the Philanthropy chair of my sorority in college where we organized several fundraisers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I also had the privilege of teaching English in Ecuador for some time, and brought dental supplies and necessities from the U.S. to an orphanage with special needs children. More recently, after teaching special education here in the U.S., I’ve grown a place in my heart for foster children and would like to look into more ways to help children that are in our foster care system. I also donate a small percentage of profits from my Etsy shop sales to Magic Bus India whose mission is to lift children out of poverty through an incredible mentorship program.
LB: What issues facing the world keep you up at night? (note: no politics! Hehe)
Mama: There are so many wonderful people in this world that were born into a circumstance or situation that makes life far more difficult for them than life has been for me. I may complain about the bills, or my daughter’s germs that she brought home from pre-school, but I try to remind myself to snap right out of it and look at the big picture. When I think that there are still people with no running water in this world, or children living in war zones, all of my problems are not problems at all.
LB: How did you first learn to craft with yarn? Did you have a mentor? Did you teach yourself?
Mama: If you could have seen me trying to knit for the first time you would wonder how it’s possible that I’m actually knitting today. After I had my daughter and decided to leave my teaching job to stay home with her, I felt that I wanted a hobby that would be feasible with a toddler. I went to the craft store and bought a book on “how to knit”. There I was, sitting at the kitchen table, me, my skein of yarn, shiny new knitting needles, reading how to cast on while creating a massive group of knots on my needle. After literally hours of trying to figure it out, I gave up. A few weeks later, someone gave me the idea to check out YouTube and it saved me from quitting yarn crafts forever! I learned to both knit and crochet from YouTube and am so grateful that I could do so in my own home, whenever I had bits of time between baby and life duties.
LB: What was your first yarn project? The first project you were really proud of?
Mama: My first yarn project was a “scarf” for my daughter. I never finished it as it looked more like a misshapen elongated dishcloth. The first project that I was actually proud of was a knit scarf made with Lion Brand Hometown USA. In fact, it’s still a scarf I wear quite often!
LB: When did you decide to start a yarn craft blog?
I wanted to knit my brother a pair of fingerless gloves for Christmas of 2014 and couldn’t find a pattern where they were knit flat and looked as I envisioned for him. I ended up making up a pattern and thought it might be nice to share it online in case anyone was looking for something similar. I had been making up my own projects and patterns for about a year, but never had kept good track of them. Between wanting to keep my projects a bit organized and sharing with others, I thought the blog might be a nice idea. At the end of January 2015, I posted my first pattern and blog post. I never expected the blog to become such an immense and wonderful part of my life!
LB: What do you consider your greatest strength as a yarn blogger to be? (We must admit here that we are totally biased and think Mama In A Stitch has no secret weaknesses and is all super powers)
Mama: Oh my. I’m not sure what my strengths are, but I do know what I love about blogging and what I love blogging about!
My blog began with the idea of nothing more than creating a happy space for sharing easy projects, and occasionally writing about family happenings (all while never taking things too seriously). I hope that it’s a place where visitors feel like they are at home, maybe they have a little laugh, see a pretty nature picture and leave with a new idea.
As far as what I love about blogging, it’s definitely the people! Between getting to know fellow yarn lovers, my readers, fellow bloggers, and so many others, I have found an entire new community. They inspire me, motivate me to improve, try new things and they teach me a lot too. It touches me when I hear that someone is making something for their grandchild, their teenage daughter or a charity and they tell me a bit about what’s going on in their life. We have yarn in common, but we are all so much more than our projects. I love that!
LB: When did you first realize “hmm, I’m really pretty good at this?”
Mama: Ha ha! Am I good at blogging?!! I don’t know, I guess there was one night that I realized that more people than just my mother were reading and taking interest in my blog posts. I logged into my blog one evening to write a post and saw that I had 1,000 views that day and had absolutely no clue why. I later realized that Lion Brand had shared my pattern on Facebook. What I thought to myself was, “OH DEAR, I better make my blog somewhat presentable if people are going to see it!” Since then I’ve tried to improve, but it’s a challenge when I am not “techy”. I love to make the projects and meet new yarn friends, but I wish someone could inject my brain with some “how to run a blog/website” knowledge!
LB: What areas of yarn craft do you still need to work on? Any particularly hilarious stories of a yarn project failure? 😉
Mama: Back when I had just learned to crochet, I thought I was ready to tackle a beanie after watching a few YouTube tutorials. I found a hat that was crocheted flat and then seamed and closed ( I think I found it on Stephanie’s blog, All About Ami actually!). Off to the store I went where I bought some beautiful, squishy, chunky grey yarn and a nice big hook. After getting half way through the pattern, I realized it looked about three sizes too big. That’s when I learned that buying the correct yarn size and hook size does in fact matter. I actually ended up folding the piece in half, adding some long ties to the bottom and a pom-pom. It became my daughter’s oversized hood for the season rather than my beanie. I guess this was my first “custom” design, which was a total mistake.
LB: What area of blogging do you want to work on?
Mama: There’s more than a few things I’d like to work on, I just need to find enough time in the day! Just as one of my goals at the beginning of the year was to do some charity work, another goal of mine was to improve my photography. I would LOVE to take a class in the coming months to be able to do justice for the yarn projects and landscapes here in Colorado. Also, I hope to get a better handle on my time management, but I’ve been saying that for a while. Ha!
LB: Tell us a more long-term dream charity project that you could do (if we’re lucky enough to do “Yarn Heroes 2”) in the future?
Mama: It would be really neat to do something where I make a whole set of items to donate, or my readers and visitors all join forces to do something big together. Maybe make enough blankets for an entire hospital floor, or enough scarves to brighten the day of several foster children, or work on hats for cancer patients. Maybe we make a whole lot of squares for Warm Up America to assemble blankets for the needy. Something big like this would be so amazing!
LB: Give us a sneak preview of what’s next for your blog!
Mama: Moving forward, most of all, I want my blog to be a light hearted space where people can come, feel at home and get ideas if they’d like. There will most likely be more trying out new stitches, using uncommon fibers (maybe rope again?), and learning new techniques and ideas! I’d love to explore the possibility of making videos to help show how to make what I post to the blog. Also, I’d like to keep my blog a place where you can find more than just yarn. I get so into my yarn projects that I sometimes forget to post the DIY that I did with my daughter or the Asian salad recipe that I made for dinner. It would be cool to find the time to share these types of things more often. I can’t wait for the coming year as I get to meet more lovely people and blog about the wonderful yarn hobby that we share!
To Our Readers: Submit YOUR stories of charity crafting to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win $250 in yarn support for your charity crafting cause – we’ll be picking winners every week, and it never hurts to let us know what you are doing for the world!