Creativity Leads to Self Sufficiency

Every article I write is aimed at this realization.

By suggesting that “traditional skills” are indeed important to cultivate in our modern day, I hope to inspire others, especially the less inclined to be creative type people, to learn a craft. If every person would just experiment and find a craft or skill that they could develop a talent for, then every person would be able to feel that they had something to offer to the world.

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The “end of the world” proclamations and jokes are ever abounding. More and more people are seeking out how to live outside of a city, how to grow gardens, how to make food from scratch, and essentially to adapt into a lifestyle of homesteading or “prepping”. None of these are unworthy goals. All are indeed wonderful and essential skills and goals to have. The threats and the “what-ifs” are always there and even seem to be increasing as time passes.

Computer Sciences are also a very real skill that is required in this modern day. It is nothing to sneeze at. But imagine, we lost the ability to use our modern technologies? Having a trade-skill in that scenario would be priceless. The great thing is that while we have it…we should use it! Learning and gaining knowledge has never been easier. The internet is a valuable tool for those that seek to be educated.

Will it ever happen? That’s in God’s hands.  If I (and suggestively “you”) don’t take the steps to cultivate some of these skills into my (our) everyday living and teach them to friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren, then the traditional skills that our ancestors built this nation on, will die out. In the event of an “end of the world” scenario, too many will not know how to build it back up again. We have forgotten how to be creators, how to imagine something and then have the skill set to be able to build it.

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Our best friend’s recently built their own home from the ground up. It is the cutest little dry cabin in the woods ever! My husband and I helped a bit with the construction, and all of us learned what it takes to build a home as it was constructed piece by piece. We had the worst winter in years, and that little hand-built, owner engineered house withstood it all and kept a family of seven warm and cozy. I have to say we are all feeling pretty good about that, and it proved that we really can do things ourselves. 

 

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

P.S. I was lucky enough to chat with writer and Youtube hostess Esther Emery of Fouch-O-matic Off Grid on her homestead wife channel about how yarn and fiber arts are relative to homesteading, preparedness and survival. Watch it below or go here!

Learning Hedebo: a heirloom lace-making technique

Today I felt my ancestors smile.

It has been established that my family tree was grafted from many places, so it is likely that there is someone Danish in my genealogical history. I am pretty certain I had a few ancestors looking over my shoulder today as I learned this heirloom needlework stitch. There was some sort of deep satisfaction that bloomed within my soul as I completed the first scallop row of the Hedebo lace edging on the pocket of my knit vest.

While we can’t all knit or sew our clothing ourselves, we can work on altering our clothing with the art of our own hands. It is satisfying to create something unique even from a mass produced garment. The point is to work with what you have.

This impromptu project today started with this book from the library and this recycled cotton yarn that came from a sweater:

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“Vanishing American Needle Arts” by Denise Longhurst

There is a treasure trove of heirloom needlework techniques in this book that I have been itching to try out since a brought it home a few weeks ago. And this book for sure is going to be in my “wishlist” on Amazon.

Today, I decided to open it up and give one of the stitches a try and then share it with you. At first I had no clue what I would stitch on. The thought that first came was to add a pretty border to a kitchen towel that my daughter had embroidered. But, with it being a first attempt, I was hesitant to try it, and then ruin her hard work with my messy beginner stitches. At some point, I looked down and put my hands in the pocket of my knit vest, and the light bulb went off. I have been wanting to add something to this plain garment for awhile. It is has been a favorite thing to throw on this winter over a long sleeve shirt when I just need to get rid of a bit of chill.

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My first idea was to make a Hedebo lace edging all the way around the bottom. And then reality once again entered my brain that for a first time project I should really choose something smaller. So, I decided just making a pretty trim edge along the pocket would be a better idea.

Interestingly, there is not a lot of information on the web about the Hedebo stitch. It popped up here and there in some articles, but there were no tutorials on Youtube at all. The author learned this stitch from her grandfather passing on their Danish traditions in lacemaking. She give a basic explanation of how it is created:

“Hedebo is Danish needle point lace that is worked right on the edge of the fabric it is being used to decorate much like a crocheted edging, but a darning needle is used in the construction. it is one of the sturdies of lace trims. “

Following the instructions and the diagrams in the book I started the set up row which included stitching from the left to the right with a button hole stitch. It is similar to a blanket stitch. Because I am working with a bulky knit garment I used a plastic darning needle, for other types of fabric a regular sharp point one would be needed.

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The needle goes in at the back and out the front.

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Keep a bit of a loop, don’t pull it tight.

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Slip the needle through the loop from back to front.

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After pulling tight it will create a little knot at the top.

The diagrams in this book in conjunction with the written instruction does a pretty good job at explaining how to complete each step of this heirloom stitch. I started to try and explain it all here, along with photos, but I think it will really be best explained with a video. After some more practice I will attempt to make one and share it.

Here are a few more photos of my handwork using the Hedebo stitch.

 

 

 

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You can see that my first scallop is a lot bigger than the others. Hopefully with practice I will improve at the sizing them.

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Working the second set of scallops and almost meeting the first on the second row.

There was a rhythm that my fingers picked up as I stitched and it became easier. It was hard to stop, but I knew if I didn’t this post would not get typed up. Keep a look out on my Facebook page for the finished photo and hopefully a future video tutorial.

The Hedebo lace stitch is something worth learning. How wonderful it is that our Danish ancestors kept their hands busy as they came to the Americas, and then continued to teach it to their posterity. I am excited to have an alternative method from crochet edging to dress up the edges of a project.

We make our hardworking ancestors smile in the heavens when we discover these heirloom arts and put to them to use in our modern environments. There is so much more worth and satisfaction in practicing an art like this than playing “Candy Crush” or taking silly quizzes on Facebook.

Make your ancestors smile.

Be a Butterfly.

Heidi

Intro to Natural Fibers

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The word “natural” constitutes existing without man. It was and is provided to us through this great planet Earth or the creatures that walk upon it.

We have rightfully invented and manipulated other materials and all has its purpose either as a learning tool or a useful product. However, should we replace all that is natural?

Natural Fibers let our skin breathe. Our skin is the largest organ on or in our body. We should take care to put the best quality of fibers next to our skin. Many natural fibers also have anti-bacterial properties that benefit and protect our bodies.

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There are lots of sustainable resources for natural fibers. Several species of sheep give us wool. The most common being Merino because it is the softest against our skin.

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Goats produce mohair (which is most often used in fabrics that cover furniture and is also commonly the choice for lovely doll hair.). Cashmere also comes from goats-who doesn’t love the feel a luxurious cashmere sweater?

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Alpaca, Llama, Angora Rabbit, Camel, Yak, the silk worm-the list goes on there are many breeds of animals that produce useful natural fibers for our use.

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Plants also give a variety of fiber that can be used in textiles. Cotton is by far the most known and popular. Linen, which comes from the flax plant is another popular light weight fabric. Hemp, Bamboo, and Nettle are other plant sources. These fibers are usually best used for lighter garments, whereas the wools tend to give warmth and water resistance.

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All of these natural resources produce wonderful varieties of fabrics for our use. I am a firm believer that when we make a point to use the creations that God put here for us in their appointed purposes-we give glory and thanks to Him. We also allow for those creatures and plants to fulfill the measure of their creation.

 

Just for fun:

Take a look at the clothing in your closet. Touch your clothing, as you do, create two piles: those that feel good when you touch them, and those that don’t appeal as much. Then take a look at the tags on those items. I am willing to say that you will probably find the things you liked the feel of most are made up of a natural fiber. You might even be surprised at what is not made of a natural fiber.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

Our little farmstead grows natural fibers on goats! Learn about it here.

Now available: Natural Fibers 101 Workshop  email knittyheidi@gmail.com to learn more about these fibers, see and touch them in person and learn how they are processed.

 

No Wrong Way To Make a Mitten

I had a goal to finish 7 pairs of mittens by the end of November. There is nothing wrong with admitting that I may fall short of that aspiration, because I feel accomplished in that I was able to complete four pairs of mittens and there is also a pair of finger-less gloves in the works. And, I just might get one more pair done in the next few weeks.

This week at the library I picked up a couple of pattern books to help spur my interest in continuing the mitten goal. I really want to make at least one pair in a traditional folk technique. This book has some amazing patterns to be daring with:

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The opening paragraph in the introduction of this book connects me to the author in our view of fiber arts as being a practical and necessary skill. She writes:

Kitting has always been, to its very roots, a practical art, with craftsmanship grounded in inventiveness, utility, and common sense. For centuries, harsh climates around the world inspired the knitting of wool garments that provided an unrivaled defense from the elements. Yet handknitted garments were created for more than winter protection. They were knit to express care for the wearer, to identify homeland and family, to fulfill traditions of courtship and marriage, to follow fashion, to increase family income, or simply for the sheer pleasure of giving expression to creative talents. All this and more can be seen in the humble mitten.

After reading that how can you not want to try your skill at knitting up a pair of folk mittens? I will admit, some give me knitter’s anxiety, but others are just challenging enough to spark my desire to give it a try.

Here are the non-folk mittens mostly created from my own “inventiveness” that have been off the needles for awhile: (these are in addition to the ones shared in my first post on knitting seven pairs of mittens.)

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This little pair is for my toddler son. The pattern for these just came as I created them. the finger portion was made from a  wool sweater and is double in thickness. Then stitches were picked up with some squishy wool yarn and knit in the round. Because I was making it up as I went the thumbs are a little different on each-but that’s okay, he loves them anyway!

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This set was created using the free mitten pattern I designed. It knit up quickly in this bulky acrylic blend yarn that was laying around in my stash. I love how the striping of colors ended up different on each mitten. This yarn was so soft and easy to knit up that this pair had to have a hat to match!

**I must insert an apology here concerning the free mitten pattern. When I was knitting up this last pair I realized that the directions to knit up the after-thought thumb were left out of the pattern! I will be updating this mistake ASAP!**

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Here is another repurposed sweater mash-up. These are some finger-less gloves I began for myself. The glove portion is from the sleeve and cuffs of a cotton sweater and the crochet cuff that is being created is from a lovely cotton. I wanted this pair to be easily washable as they are likely to be worn daily around the house. And yes, this knitter does also enjoy the use of a crochet needle from time to time!

The first folk-style mitten that I intend to try is the “Fana Mittens”. It is worked with only two colors and uses a similar technique that I have tried before in adding tufts of raw wool as you knit to create a soft cozy inside. I have known it as “thrumbing” but it is mentioned in this book as “tufting” but I believe it to be the same. The pattern is worked in blue and white with a checkerboard edge. The author tells us that this design “became a symbol for peace during World War I” in Norway.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

little things are sometimes Big.

 

Yesterday I did a small thing-and then realized it was a big thing—

I cleaned the laundry room.

It was in such a state that one could not get in the door let alone to the washer and dryer. This is a bad scenario when you have to do 15o loads of laundry a day-I might be exaggerating just a little, but the concept remains the same. Who wants to go into a room that you can’t see the floor of? My 3 year old son told me he heard a monster in the bathroom sink-it could easily have traveled the water pipes and be lurking in the laundry room. The last thing I need is to encounter a sink-monster when trying to find a clean shirt after being peed on. I am very happy today that the laundry room is clean and can be used in a productive manner again-whithout fear of a sink-monster attack.

This has been the theme of my thoughts of late. We are surrounded by little things that have big impact. Even Jesus taught of small things that have large importance. From the creation of the earth beginning with the basics of things such as light, water and planting the seeds. Then of course when we think “seed” our mind goes  to the parable of the mustard seed that teaches us of faith. We can see a pattern in all of the examples in the Bible that illustrate to us that it is important to have a special reverence towards the seemingly insignificant. 

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The list of things I can make that are small yet largely important in my life is so endless that I can not pick what deserves to be in this article the most. So I will just stick with the most recent discovery of a clean laundry room and leave you to ponder the little big things in your own life.

I will however, bring this topic around a corner and point it towards these little lost skills I am being directed to learn and teach. It has started with knitting, but it doesn’t end there, and each skill is as important as the other.

This description, given in “Our Vanishing Landscape” by Eric Sloane,  makes a great illustration that can be used as a comparison to those things that have been forgotten or un-taught, in that, they can be learned again and the generations after us can indeed benefit.

Imagine a farm abandoned….The summer after cultivation ceases, the plowed fields will have become overgrown with weeds. The next year you will find grass and berry seedlings that have blown in with autumn winds. At the end of five years the fields will be a complete tangle of briars with occasional clumps of birch and juniper from seeds brought in by bird droppings. In ten years these trees will be a head high above the briars and in their shade will be hundreds of tiny oak and maple seedlings. In forty years…..the fields will look like woodlands that had never seen a plow. Fire or insects and disease may decimate this second-growth forest, or winds may blow it down, but it will miraculously build itself back again….

This little thing of teaching how to use traditional skills for our benefit today-could be a big thing.

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It could mean that our children and grandchildren know how to survive.

Without (enter large chain store name here).

 
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A little skill now, could be life-altering later. 

 

Next Month…

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The topic will be “slow food”.  This differs from my original lesson plan for 2016. It was going to be the topic for November but yesterday I started a rescue mission for my sourdough start that has been neglected and so it is perfect timing. In the past, we have successfully made all the bread our family needs from scratch-with little effort. Bread isn’t all we will learn, so make sure to follow by email (click the button on the sidebar) so you can get next weeks articles! I will be sharing recipes too!

Thanks for learning with me about what we can do to give “New Life to Old Traditions” this past month!

Heidi

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You might also want to take a peek at:

Beginning Knitting Lessons

Skill Development Lessons

Free Patterns!

 

Free Mitten Pattern!!!

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I did it! The mitten pattern I have been  writing of the past couple of weeks is finally written down and published on Ravelry.

To be honest, it is my very first self-published pattern. It is exciting! I tested it and the second mitten turned out just like the first so hopefully when others try it out they too will have success.

You can find the FREE PATTERN for Easy Custom Fit Mittens right here under the “free patterns” page.   *as of 1/18/17 the pattern has been updated to correct the missing thumb directions!

You can also find it on Ravelry to save in your library or que and it will link you directly to the above page.

Feel free to share this awesome new Free Mitten Pattern with your friends!

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To schedule a Skill Development Workshop and learn how to make these mittens with one-on-one instruction send me an email: knittyheidi@gmail.com or a Facebook Message!

Thanks for being a friend!

Heid

A New Life to Old Traditions

The crispness of fall air has been on the end of the summer breezes and felt in the coolness of the morning air this past week.

I am attempting to find the “glad”(as Pollyanna would say) in the change of weather. There still seems so much on the to-do list before the first snow fall, and in these Idaho mountains there isn’t much time between the fall of the color-changed leaf to the drifting down of the first snowflakes.

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Nonetheless, the seasons must change as God designed, and we must prepare.

There is a reserved excitement going on in my creative soul. It is begging to be let out from where I have kept it while completing the day to day tasks required of me.

 

My hands have been aching to spin yarn, sew clothing for my children, make rugs for the new kitchen floor and curtains for the new windows.  The bite-sized knitting projects I have been working up as I have moments to sit have not been enough to satisfy this hunger.

However, it has been fulfilling to complete a pair of mittens and write a new pattern for them. There are many many patterns that would have been suitable to use. My Ravelry library is hosting several of them right now as is my knitting Pinterest board.

Why did I wing it?

It was that need to be creative that did it. The pattern was kept simple, as it should be for the purpose of teaching others how to knit in the round.

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As I have read about the historical methods of handicrafts, I noticed something: everything from the simplest design to the most complex was done in a manner that could be remembered. 

I read in No Idle Hands by Anne L. MacDonald, an account of a woman who pulled from her closet a bedspread that had been started by a relative (perhaps her mother-I don’t remember for sure). She was inspired to finish the project and remembered being taught the pattern when she was young but couldn’t recall how the stitches went. Her aunt (I believe) was still living and had also been knowledgable about this particular stitch pattern. Over the phone, her aunt was able to think about and bring to remembrance this now heirloom pattern for the bedspread. The woman worked diligently and finished the project, giving it new life and a home outside of the closet.

It was such an inspiring story!

There was also a picture of the bedspread-and believe me this pattern was on the complex side of the measurement of skill.

That being said and in answer to my above question: why not?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a treasure trove of patterns ready to emerge from your creative mind like the aunt in the story?

This is one thing I hope to impart to my students: Use written patterns to enhance your skills, and pictures to inspire.

Then, just create!

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It is very liberating to not be dependent upon a written pattern, and likewise- I am grateful to have the resources this modern day offers to learn from since these skills did not continue on in the past couple of decades in my heritage.

Thanks for being a friend!

Heidi

p.s. The pattern for the mittens will be ready soon, so make sure you click to follow by email to get it in your inbox right away! 

If you are ready to learn how to knit in the round and want to take the mitten course-contact me either in the comments, by email (knittyheidi@gmail.com), or our FB page!

For information on beginner lessons go here.

To read more about my yarn spinning please visit our sister-site : TwistednPlied