Category: Uncategorized

109 Year Old Man Knits Penguin Sweaters

Almost as soon as he arrived at an aged-care village, Alfred Date was told by the nurses who knew of his ability to knit that the Phillip Island Penguin Foundation was in need of sweaters for animals.

That’s how the incredible 109 year old Alfie, who’s first attempt at knitting was a whopping 80 years ago — began his road to knitting loads of sweaters for little penguins. The following are some photos of penguins rocking hand-knit sweaters.
REX_penguins_ml_150211_16x9_992

Little penguin (Eudyptula minor) wearing a hand-knit sweater. Photo courtesy Lyn Blom of Phillip Island Nature Parks.

tog_penguin01
The Penguin Foundation makes it clear on their website that this call for sweaters is “not a fashion statement,” but that penguins can actually be killed by an oil patch the size of a thumb nail. A thumb nail! Holy smokes. I didn’t know this.

When oiled penguins are admitted to the Wildlife Clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks, a knitted jumper is placed on the penguins to prevent them from preening and swallowing the toxic oil before they are washed and the oil removed by staff, ” a statement on their website says.

The little bird sweaters knitted by Mr. Alfred and others helped save many lives of the Phillip Island penguins. The sweaters made it possible for 96% of the birds to be returned safely back to the wild, said the foundation.

You can watch the interview with Mr. Alfred here.

What an inspiration Alfred is! Not only to knitters and other yarn-crafters, but to humanity as a whole, if you ask me. We may not all be able to donate, say, monetarily, but everyone has their own thing they can do to have an immensely positive impact on the world. It may be your handy-skills like Mr. Alfred, or it may be that you’re able to donate cash. It’s true that every one of us have something special to give, whether it’s to help our fellow humans or animals. Mr. Alfred’s story warmed my heart so much that I felt compelled to share what was a beautiful reminder to me — that we all have something to give, even those who may feel like they’re too far along in life to bother.

While the Penguin Foundation no longer has a need for sweaters, they are asking for donations with their “Adopt-A-Penguin” project where for $75+, you can adopt a penguin.

The Penguin Foundation aren’t the only ones to recognize, and fulfill wildlife’s needs by use of knitting. Take for example, the Wild Care Bay Area’s Baby Bird Nest campaign where 3,568 little bird nests were knitted to keep the baby birds warm in 2014!

Click here to see a video of these adorable little fellas enjoying their hand-knitted nests, and being bottle-fed, which is totally aww-worthy.

Knitted Baby Bird Nests for WildCareBayArea.org Campaign  Image source: https://www.wildcarebayarea.org
Knitted Baby Bird Nests for WildCareBayArea.org Campaign
Image source: https://www.wildcarebayarea.org

These folks are another example of combining human compassion with handy skills as a way to help wildlife in need. Like the Penguin Foundation, the Baby Bird Nest group also ran a successful campaign to warm up baby birds by calling for knitted beds! How beautiful is that?

While the Baby Bird groups is no longer in need of bird nests, although their website says they do plan to start the campaign for more nests this year — they still have the free instructions for knitting the nests available on their website, if anyone is interested in knitting a basket for their own pets, or those of your friends. Just be sure to make them bigger since a cat is typically much larger than a baby bird. One of the most common requests I get, as a knitter and crocheter is pet beds, as shocking as that is. Even I am surprised to get the request so often.

I think the little nests the birds are snuggling up inside are so adorable, and quite a genius idea! I’d have never thought of this, and I can see these also being an idea to incorporate for other in-need animals as well. I can only imagine the love a cat would have for one of these cute baskets!

I also happen to know that during the cold winter months, homeless animals like cats need shelter, and a lot of animal-groups put calls out around winter time asking folks to provide shelter methods for homeless cats, if they can. I recall seeing one lady’s beautiful, hard work in this exact area last winter. Perhaps this is something we can add to our arsenal of tools to help warm our fellow furry friends.

She had made it her mission to put together little cat homes for homeless cats in her area. She used those large plastic tubs you can get at Walmart or any dollar store for around $5-$10, filling them with warm materials, including those silver “things” made to be placed in the windshield of cars (to help hold in heat to keep kitties warm). Leaving the lid on the tubs, she placed them around areas she knew to be common for homeless cats.

The effort, love, compassion and work that goes into doing something like this for animals (and our fellow humans as well) has such a lasting impact on my heart. It really inspires me, and I hope that it will inspire you too, and warm your heart to no end.

What are some ways you (or stories you know of) have donated your handy-skills or time and effort to help animals and/or humans in need? Please share in the comments. I absolutely love hearing uplifting stories like these.

Crochet or Knitting – Which is Harder?

Is it “harder” to knit or to crochet? Which craft is the hardest to accomplish?

Source: Memecrunch.com
Source: Memecrunch.com

People ask me these questions a lot. And I mean a lot.

So I thought I would try my best to type my own answer to the question up and publish it for anyone who might be searching to find answers to this very question.

The answer? It isn’t as simple as you expected, or hoped, probably.

The answer is difficult because it likely differs for every yarn crafter who does both knitting and crochet. I can only answer this from my personal perspective, so do keep in mind that this is what I’m doing. I’m not saying for certain which craft will prove to be the hardest of the two for you specifically. But I do feel pretty strong in my own opinion of which is harder to learn and work with, so I am happy to explain why. Now that my mini disclaimer is out of the way, let me just tell you what I think.

Knitting is harder.

Okay, there! I said it. Send me to the guillotines! Even I didn’t want to admit this to be true, but I could deny it no longer.

You see, I started out knitting. It was the very first yarn craft I picked up, and while I don’t think the basics of knitting are necessarily “hard” or difficult to do, I find that crochet is so much more smooth of a craft to work with. It’s also far more lenient in terms of rules and what you can do with it. Knitting, not so much. Knitting is for the rule-followers. Crocheting is for those of us who have a rebel side and want to skip a few, and sometimes just crochet whatever we want without necessarily following a specific pattern.

You see, crochet allows you to do that, most of the time.

Knitting?
Oh buddy. I hope you are really good at picking up stitches when you drop em! With crochet if you skip a stitch, it’s usually not a big deal. Knitting, on the other hand, requires strategic focus, in my opinion. Even if I’m only knitting using one simple stitch all the way through and following a simple shape like a square for a blanket, for example. I have to keep an eye on my work a bit more than when I’m crocheting.

Therefore, knitting does not go as smoothly as crochet, for me.

That’s to put it in a nut shell. There are a lot of differences between knitting and crochet, but I won’t kill you with that kind of detail.

On the positive side, I’m really confident that anyone who’s got the patience for yarn crafting and the passion will absolutely be able to pick up knitting without trouble.

For me, a very slow learner and someone who learned from YouTube videos and no in-person help, it took me several hours of carefully watching very slow tutorials on how to “cast on” and how to wrap and twist the yarn in all those different ways that are required in knitting.

More good news:
It’s actually way easier than it looks! It’s just getting the hang of it and letting your hands get past that awkwardness and uncertainty of the movements. But once your hands are comfortable, things will flow easily without a lot of thought or confusion.

With that said, once I learned the basic stitches of crochet, I only had to go back and re-watch videos on how to do the stitches a couple of times at most. As for knitting, I had to completely re-learn how to create a purl stitch after almost one year of not picking up the needles.

It also requires two needles rather than one hook, so that alone makes things feel awkward if you’re used to holding a single hook in your hand.

I think initially, once we get past the awkwardness of holding and moving the needles, that’s when things are suddenly not as hard as they first looked to us.

So, I hope knitting isn’t something your discouraged about. Watch plenty of YouTube tutorials and allow yourself time and a lot of patience and you will probably develop a new found love for knitting, too.

However, there’s something more satisfying about the ease of crochet, the way you don’t really have to follow so many stiff rules in order to create something pretty awesome. There’s something about crochet that feels more satisfying as I do it than when I knit, most of the time. I think it’s because it allows for more mindless working than knitting typically does, although you truly can do plenty of mindless knitting (blankets, scarves, etc.) I just feel like there’s more leniency with crochet, if that makes sense.

I personally was able to catch onto crochet in one night. Knitting took several.

One more major difference between knitting and crochet that I think makes one harder than the other is the hand-strain. Knitting seems to really fire up the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome that I’ve been dealing with for several long months now whereas crochet doesn’t seem to affect my hand as easily. I can also crochet loosely so it’s easier on my hand without it affecting the work too much whereas knitting can start to look a smidgen un-even when I go loosely.

That sums up the answer, in a quick nutshell. I promise though, if you can crochet and you love it and have been considering knitting but are afraid, please don’t be. You do get a great sense of pride and accomplishment from knitting, it’s just not as smooth of a ride as crochet can often be. So, hang on, pick up some needles and get to knittin’!

Let me know what you think. Which is harder for you? Knitting? Crochet? Both? None?

13 Insanely Adorable Crochet Toys/Amigurumi

Amigurumi Crochet Collage
1. Giraffe
giraffe

Crochet-Patterns-Free has a nice list of giraffe amigurumi and giraffe themed items with free patterns! The little guy above by I Love Buttons By Emma is my favorite, but with so many free giraffe patterns available, you have a plethora of those to choose from. I think the little giraffes would be precious baby gifts.

P.S. The Crochet Stripey giraffe pattern by I Love Buttons By Emma appears to be UK pattern, so keep this in mind if you are a US crocheter.

2. Octopus found on Joann

This is the best free octopus pattern I’ve yet to be able to find online, in my opinion. octopusAnd he’s one pretty awesome octopus. Bonus: He actually looks quite easy to do, too.

3. Laura’s Loop: Bobble Sheep Pillow Free Pattern found on The Purl Bee
bobble_sheep-600-2

Free Crochet Pillow Pal Pattern by Red Heart
unicorn

If you know a child who’s been hoping for one of those pillow pets (that are $20, thank you very much), then you might just be able to impress them with your own, hand-made version. And there’s a unicorn one! As long as they don’t mind the non-light-up effect of a hand-made version, that is. My niece is a fan of pillow pets, and would be ecstatic to have one of these made for her, so I was totally beside myself to find a FREE pattern for one. And they look very much like the as seen on TV Pillow Pets, too! And let’s face it, that unicorn is bad a**! Excuse my stars/language.

…4. Oh, and this adorable
owl by Daisy Cottage Designs is too cute to pass up.
Free owl crochet pattern

I’m pretty certain that every niece of mine from my 5 year old niece to my 9 year old niece, they’re all going to be happy to cuddle this cutie.

5. As for the babies in your life (and mine,) the
Teddy Rattle by Is It A Toy looks so chic!teddy-rattle-stone

6. The very creative (and uber kind-hearted woman for sharing such a perfect design), ChiWei from One Dog Woof created this fantastically perfect Bubbles & Goldfish Teether:
fish_bubbles_teether-7

Told you it was purrfect, didn’t I? Hell, if there wasn’t a small baby in my life to make this for, I’d just make it for my own self. . . I can use it for *something* I’m sure! Too cute to pass up. I think I’ll even try for one or two for my many pregnant friends who happen to all be pregnant right now.

7. <a href=" https://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/90155AD.html” target=”_blank”>Crochet caterpillar baby toy by lion brand:
caterpillar

8. For all the Grumpy Cat fans: A Grumpy Cat Pattern
by: Crochet is for Lovers
I know, you’ve just fallen in love, right?

grumpyCat_front_smallNote: The pattern can be downloaded from her Ravelry page (simply click the link above to get there.)

9. Any small child is probably going to appreciate a pony like one of these fellas by Knit One Awesome: unicorn pony

10. …Or a floppy, precious bunny like the one by:
One Skein Bunny Rabbit by Deb Richey
amy the great
The one photographed is by © AmyTheGR8. Pattern can be found here
I liked AmyTheGr8’s version the most, but there are loads of finished bunnies you can find inspiration from, if you’d like to tweak yours to be more original, too.

11. …Or this fabulous little elephant! Even I want one of these cuties.
tumblr_inline_n4cv5ouwvY1qfosqa
Thanks to <a href=" https://www.allaboutami.com/post/83519406448/elephant" target="_blank">All About Ami for providing a useful photo tutorial here to go along with the original pattern here.

If you speak English, you’ll have to do some translating (Google or Bing Translate), but it shouldn’t be impossible as a few folks have already accomplished these!

12. And let’s just be honest here, who *wouldn’t* jump up at down for one of these adorable koalas from Craft Passion?
koala

You can get the crochet pattern for Mr. Koala here at Woman’s Day, and to see an awesome photo of putting him together, check out Craft Passion’s post.

13. If you’re crocheting for your cat (Christmas gift for kitty?) or a kid, I’m pretty sure both would love a few adorable, brightly-colored mice by Tuba Ching Ching! I know as a kid, I would have really loved a little mouse or two like these! And I’m sure they’d have been far more snuggly to cuddle up to than those ol’ plastic ones I used to play with.

If it’s for kitty, simply stuff with cat-nip (kitty will thank you! I promise) and if it’s for a child, simply use stuffing (kid will thank you…. I think. Can’t make many promises, though.)
Easy-Peasy-Catnip-Mouse-Toy

10 Perfectly Beginner-Friendly Blankets to Knit for Christmas (Free Patterns)

As promised, here is 10 beginner friendly, gorgeous blankets to knit (or simply get inspiration from) for Christmas gifting! We’ve already covered the crochet version, and in that post, I promised a knitters version to come soon & I’ve managed to compile a list of those for you all. I hope this comes as a useful ‘series’ of inspirational gift-giving posts to some of you.

I’ve chosen to focus on beginner friendly patterns to feature here since this will allow beginners to check out some patterns that will fit their skill levels, too. Had I focused on more advanced patterns, I feel like I’d have limited the amount of folks that could participate in knitting the many different patterns out there available. This way, both beginners and advanced knitters can get in on the fun.

Another thing I’d wanted to accomplish with this and the crochet version of this post was to spark some confidence or inspiration in those of you who might not have been feeling confident enough in their skills to take on a gift project. Or for those of you who have been too afraid to take up the daunting task of trying your hand at something as big as a blanket. For that reason, I’ve tried to include as many quick and fast working projects as possible.

So, now that you feel motivated (and you do feel motivated, right? Right?), I hope you’ll try knitting up a blanket or two, or five!

P.S. To see my crocheters version of this post, go here.

1. Fuzzy Fluff Blanket Project from Craft Warehouse
*Update: It appears the owner of the website has removed this pattern & link. My apologies.

Source: Craft Warehouse
Source: Craft Warehouse

This fluffy, stylish blanket is knitted with specific yarn, to create the pom “pon” effect. However, you can whip up an equally beautiful blanket using the yarn of your own choice and following the pattern. The only difference is, well, for one, it’ll be much easier and for two, you won’t have to work with tiny “pom pons” on your yarn, which the pattern calls for. This is an easy to knit blanket otherwise.

2. Quickie Blanket by Big Box Detox

This blanket is not only simple and stunning, but it’s so easy to make! Nobody will ever know you whi

Source: Big Box Detox
Source: Big Box Detox
pped this blanket up with little to no mental work. The color block look is modern, stylish and fun! Plus, this knitted beauty is so age-versatile you can knit a colorful one for a child to snuggle with for the rest of their lives, or an adult who’ll appreciate it forever.

3. Super Easy Baby Blanket (Pattern Tweaked by Time for Dinner)

Source: Time for Dinner
Source: Time for Dinner

A simple baby blanket, originally found on the Purl Bee, which uses the garter stitch has been tweaked into unique perfection by Time for Dinner. She simply used knit 1 stitch, then purl the next and repeated that all throughout to create this awesome color block blanket! I love the results, and I think you will too.

4. Knitted Stripe Baby Blanket by Tiffany from Sweet Peonies

Source: Tiffany from Sweet Peonies
Source: Tiffany from Sweet Peonies

Stripes are a classic, and this pattern uses a combo of 3 different colors, although you can totally change it up or just use one. Or you could even knit each row in a new color if you really wanted! Virtually every human will love to receive a blanket with such simple beauty.

5. Quick Knit Blanket by Red Heart

Source: Red Heart
Source: Red Heart

This quick knit blanket has a lovely, feminine, lacy appearance, making it a beautiful gift. The skill level is do-able for most knitters, even many beginners. You will need a pair of circular needles (US size 13), though.

6. Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot

Source: Espace Tricot
Source: Espace Tricot

Let me just take a second to express my love and adoration for Espace Tricot. Ahh. Total knitters bliss, that blogger! The patterns are gorgeous. Stunning. To. Die. For! And so many of the beauties are offered for free, which definitely earns &** a huge shout out from me.

This chevron blanket features bold colors that are just irresistible. In fact, this pattern is already saved in my Ravelry queue for when I have time to knit it later. The pattern is also available in PDF format. Just follow the link provided and scroll down the page until you see the blanket. *There’s no link directed for the blanket pattern specifically, so you will have to scroll down the page to find it. The page is simply one full of Espace Tricot’s gorgeous, amazing free patterns, so if you’re like me, you’ll probably be clicking on every one on the list before you even make it to the blanket!

7. Arrowhead Lace Throw by Red Heart

Source: Red Heart
Source: Red Heart

This lightweight, lacy throw features an intricate-looking stitch design, although it’s actually rated as an easy pattern to follow.

The Arrowhead Lace Throw is beautiful enough — and really complicated looking, although it’s not so don’t even fret! — that it’s sure to earn you some respect as a knitter when you give one as a gift (or just show it off and keep it yourself!)

8. 6 Hour Afghan by Lion Brand

Source: Lion Brand
Source: Lion Brand

This super fast afghan is knitted with 4 strands of yarn held together. With 4 strands, expect a thick, chunky blanket. This is a beginner level project and the result looks so cozy it’ll be hard to pass up. Oh, and that fringe! Fringe is always in. Note: If you want to save $ you’ll spend on your knitting projects (and I understand because this craft can be extremely expensive, despite what many non-yarn-crafters think, so if you’re looking to cut costs, simple ditch the last 3 strands and simply use one. Or 2, if budget allows. Remember to use a smaller needle size if you use less yarn strands, though!)

9. F343 Coffee Beenz Textured Throw by Plymouth Yarn Design Studio

Source: Plymouth Yarns
Source: Plymouth Yarns

If knitting is your thing, but you’re ready to incorporate a little bit of texture into your handiwork, then perhaps this Textured Throw will be exactly the challenge you’ve been needing. This throw is knitted using 2 strands of yarn held together as you go. Remember, you can adjust how many yarn strands you use, if needed. Just use a smaller set of needles than a pattern calls for when you do this.

With a simple design though, this throw pattern will allow you to tweak to add multiple colors, if you like.

10. Weekend TV Lapghan by Lion brand

Source: Lion Brand
Source: Lion Brand

Can’t you just imagine how nice this would look on any couch?
This loose, light-weight throw is a fast piece of work and yet another gem that looks like it required serious work on your part, but it’s surprisingly simple to work.

This pattern requires a crochet hook (size P-15 or 10mm), but don’t worry. You don’t have to have extensive crochet skills in order to create this lovely blanket. The crochet hook is just for making the fringe border.

What do ya’ll think? Are any of these lovely enough to inspire you to try knitting a blanket (if you haven’t ever done so already) to give as a gift this year? If so, I’d love to know which you choose to knit!

If not a blanket, do any of you plan to crochet or knit any gifts for Christmas this year?

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