A Stitch to Wear

continuum scarves in multiple colors

Allison Taylor’s story as a crafter begins in a familiar way: she first learned to crochet at her grandmother’s knee at the tender age of six.

Despite her grandmother’s considerable skill as a fiber artist, not to mention her infinite patience, crocheting didn’t quite stick with Allison that first time around. Six year olds aren’t famous for their attention spans, so it’s not really that surprising!

the vienna hat

It wasn’t until much later when Allison was a college student that she picked up crochet hooks and some yarn again. Although she had never gotten into the knitting, crocheting, sewing, and other fiber arts that her grandmother had mastered, Allison had always admired her grandmother’s talent and skill with needles, yarn, and fabric.

When her grandmother became ill and was no longer physically able to craft, due to side effects of a stroke, Allison was inspired once again to take up the craft she had not been able to master as a little girl.

the superchunk scarf

She made her grandmother a blanket, to show her how much she appreciated her, and how impressed she had always been with her fiber skills. Blankets are still Allison’s favorite thing to make, and friends and family can count on one for a gift whenever there’s a wedding or baby on the way.

a summer wrap in linen blend yarn

Allison was “hooked” on crochet from then on, and turned her hobby into a side business with her Etsy shop that opened in 2008. Although she has a day job unrelated to crafting, it in no way diminishes her fierce love for making.

The best part for Allison is having strangers own something she made with her own hands: “It’s a way of sharing something tangible with people across long spaces, which is so rare,” she says. “It’s really exciting and touching, and I never get over it.”

the continuum collar

She also feels a connection to her grandmother every time she picks up her crochet hook, another feeling many crafters can relate to. The emotional connection associated with creating and sharing handmade goods is probably one of the big reasons handmade is so popular these days.

the best friend beanie

The most popular item in Allison’s shop is the best friends beanie, which also happens to be her favorite thing to make for the shop! Customers also respond well to her continuum scarves and continuum collars, with their unusual shape.

Like most of her creations, Allison let the continuum scarf emerge on its own, without too much planning ahead from her. Her general technique is to pick up her crochet hook and yarn, and experiment with different stitches until something she loves emerges.

the zig scarf

You can find Allison’s crocheted gems in her online shop. If you see something you like but are fixated on a certain color, don’t worry because Allison loves to do custom work!

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Crescent Maille
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Gocksfrocks Elegantly Handmade Clothing for Girls

Lavender Field

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Lavender Field: I’m a self-made crafter and forever a learner.

My style is very unique as I don’t follow any trends, but actually make my own.

I have an insatiable urge to create, create, create stuff with my hands. After all that’s why God gave us hands…. to put them to good and creative use!

Colors, nature and my surroundings in general are my inspiration, and I have this unconscious habit of always picturing ugly things turned beautiful.

The variety of styles I create reflect exactly that: my love for variety. Variety in jewelry, clothes, music, decor, food and styles in general.

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And check out her attention to detail in her custom work. Nice!

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  • Handknit Hugs
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Crescent Maille
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Gocksfrocks Elegantly Handmade Clothing for Girls

Living Arrangements Part One: Happy People = Happy Homes.

I’m writing a Two Part series on Living Arrangements. This post is all about Happy Homes, how to be satisfied with your home and how to make the best of what you have. In the next series I will talk about the many different living arrangements people have around the World and why adopting a simple home can save you money but not take away from what you want from your living space.

As someone who has spent the better part of a year looking for somewhere new to live I can safely say that the whole experience of house hunting is not a pleasant one. There is a lot of bureaucracy involved, for a start. There are a lot of places we would like to live in but they are well out of our range in terms of everything humanly possible.

I think the problem with finding your ‘dream home’ (which is entirely like anything you’d dream up in your mind, non existent) is that when you set your standards they are rarely met. And if one or two things don’t fit, you make them fit so that a house becomes your home – and I’d go as far as to say that it turns into your dream home.

There is an age old “if these walls could talk” saying that I’ve heard more times than I care to count. If my walls could talk then I would consider getting my home dedicated/exorcised. Also, consider the certain Swedish furniture conglomerate that ran a TV ad campaign a few years ago in which they proclaimed that houses had souls – that love, not money was what gave the home it’s soul. I’m not swayed either way on the argument myself so, do you believe homes have souls?

What is it with our need to constantly categorise and humanise everything? After all in the Wizard of Oz there were three non-human characters all searching for human traits and body parts. The lion wanted to be brave, the tin man wanted a heart and the scare crow wanted to have a brain – I don’t even want to think how he functioned without one. They were humanised, much like Andy’s toys in Toy Story , the talking horses, cows, sheep, dogs, cats and everything in between that we’ve seen our whole lives. Animals and non-human characters speaking like humans and having human feelings and experiences.

Now homes have souls, hearts and our walls might be able to speak. I wonder if my walls are crying. No? Oh it’s just a leaky roof.

To be happy in your home, you need to be happy first and foremost. Where the house is plays a part in it; is the neighbourhood decent for your needs? If it’s not, do you have adequate security measures? Do you have enough room to swing a cat? If you cook a lot, is the kitchen to your satisfaction? Do you have the number of rooms you honestly need? If you have most of these things and you’re satisfied with your life in general then you’re more likely to have a happy home and be happy with your home.

I personally believe that most people have more than they need out of their homes yet they are not satisfied with their home and then I see others who struggle happily with what they already have. It’s all about perspective.

So, how can you be happy with where you live? It’s simple.

Get comfortable with where you live. Metaphorically and physically. When my couch started to get lumpy I felt annoyed at the couch. Then I realised if I throw a couple of pillows down I have comfort once more. It’s also about acceptance of where you live – if you want to stay there long term, be at peace with this. If you don’t, do something about it.

Big Love. No, not the TV show. I’m talking about thinking before you speak, acting before you react and flighting before fighting. In short: cut the crap. Stop picking at your house mates for every little niggle you feel about them. Show them love, bake them cookies, lace their brownies with tranquillizers if that’s the only act of kindness you can perform for them and yourselves – just don’t implicate me on that one. I’m working on House Harmony myself so I know this one can be tricky, especially when someone has annoying habits. The point is you need to learn to deal with it if you want a happy home. So deal with it!

Keep it fresh. A clean home to me is a happy home. When my home is a mess (around 98% of the time) then I feel a mess (so, again, 98% of the time.) I like to let the air circulate in my home by opening windows wide and keeping all doors open to let some good fresh air into them. Get others involved in the cleaning and running of the home, leaving it all up to one person is never going to create a happy atmosphere …okay who am I kidding. You can’t get others involved unless they want to be, so either live with the fact you live with slobs and do everything yourself, hire a cleaner or accept the fact you’re the slob of the house and you’re quite happy with the mess.

Make it personal. Add your own touch to your home; change over photographs in frames every few weeks of happy times you’ve had. Keep a diary of things you’ve learned that make you happy in the week (a challenge I have just started.) You don’t have to fill your home with ‘things’ to make it pretty; a nasty couch can be transformed with a favourite throw – or why not try and make some silhouette pictures? As seen on Life Is Sweet.

Join me next week when I talk about living in shipping containers, tents and the man who invented a sliding door system in his flat all in order to get more space from his living space.

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Crescent Maille
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Gocksfrocks Elegantly Handmade Clothing for Girls

On Beans

My oldest daughter refuses to eat beans. As a matter of fact, she can pick through a bowl of chili eating everything but the beans with incredible accuracy and persistence. Ask her to clean her room and it “takes too long, Mom”, but she will sit for hours picking the beans from any dish without blinking an eye.

The rest of us, on the other hand, adore the musical fruit. Entire meals can, and often are, be based around beans — of one variety or many, we’re not picky. Black, dark and light red kidney, great northern, navy, white, and yes, even lima. Soups, stews, salads, pasta dishes; the options are endless.

And why not? They’re not only essentially a super food — packed with protein, fiber and nutrients galore — they’re easily grown and even easier to store. Whether canned, frozen or dried beans keep well for months and lend themselves equally as nicely to both hearty winter and light, yet filling summer fare making them prime candidates as a year-round local eating staple.

My favorite for meals is the black bean (chick peas, for obvious reasons — hummus! — win out for snacks.) Tossed with onion, sundried tomatoes, roasted corn, a generous handful of fresh chopped cilantro, a pinch of ground pepper and the juice of a freshly squeezed lime — or three, we love limes — they’re always a hit. Served warm next to fish tacos or cold as a mid-summer lunch all their own after a night spent marinating in the fridge, it’s versatile to boot.

What are your favorites? What beans must I try this year and in what inventive ways should I prepare them? Share with me your tips, tricks and recipes — my oldest daughter will not appreciate your kindness, but the rest of us sure will, and who knows her taste buds just might come around someday.

  • Handknit Hugs
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Crescent Maille
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Gocksfrocks Elegantly Handmade Clothing for Girls

Spinswim

I’m not a knitter, but I love the look of handspun yarn.

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Danika: I love combining quality fibres and found materials to create beautiful, one of a kind yarns. I’m always experimenting to discover new, unexpected color and fiber combinations. I rarely repeat an exact colorway, so everything I make will always be one of a kind.

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  • Handknit Hugs
  • Twirly Fabulous Upcycled Sweater Skirts
  • A pincushion for every day
  • Crescent Maille
  • Fiber Jewelry by Susan Sanders
  • Fabric Balloon Ball For Big & Little Kids
  • Spring Organization: Workspaces
  • Gocksfrocks Elegantly Handmade Clothing for Girls