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The New Yorker on “Crocheting for a Cause”

The New Yorker Crocheting for a Cause

“I’m starting with the base, which is a tree,” the street artist London Kaye said. “Once I get that up, I’ll add all the adorable koalas and goodness and things. I’m excited!” It was a face-numbingly cold early morning on a corner of Wooster and Spring Streets, and the wind cut like a knife, but Kaye, whose medium is crochet, appeared upbeat. With a white cap pulled low over her long blond hair, and wearing a pair of fingerless gloves, she secured a brown swath of crocheted yarn she had made earlier to a chain-link fence across from the SoHo Chanel store. Kaye, who is thirty-one and based in Los Angeles, was in town to install the large-scale sets—multicolor crochet creations attached to a wire-fence backdrop—that she’d made for “Beyond Babel,” a dance performance inspired by “Romeo and Juliet,” which is being put up at Judson Church, off Washington Square. On the plane from L.A., she had lugged an army duffel full of crocheted hearts with her, to hand out to the audience members. “It takes me a minute and a half to make a heart,” she said.

While in town, Kaye decided to undertake another project: a ten-foot-by-eight-foot yarn installation of outback animals encircling a sapling, to raise awareness of the Australian wildfires. “I like making things that have to do with current events, but that also make people happy,” she said, cocking her head to consider the placement of a wool branch she had just tied to the fence. Rummaging in her bag, she unfurled a life-size rust-colored yarn kangaroo. “Look, he’s got a little joey, too!” she said.

Kaye studied classical ballet as a child and learned to crochet as a teen. “When I was in ninth grade, I hurt my back badly, dancing, and that’s when it took off,” she said, attaching a supine gray koala to the fence, then thrusting her hands into her pockets to warm them. “I loved crochet. I’d sell scarves to my friends. I was always the weird girl who would bring yarn to parties.” She went to N.Y.U. on a dance scholarship, and when she graduated she began working at the Apple Store in the meatpacking district. One day, in 2013, the fibre artist Agata Oleksiak, known as Olek—who has yarn-bombed monuments such as the Wall Street bull and the Astor Place Cube—came in to buy a computer. “I thought she looked so cool,” Kaye said. “She had this crazy crochet bag.” After Olek left the store, Kaye reprinted the receipt so she could Google her name later. “That’s what led me to yarn-bombing,” she said. Realizing that her hobby could find a larger canvas, she took a scarf that she’d made—“shocking pink and lime green and fuzzy”—and wrapped it around a tree outside her Bed-Stuy apartment. She kept going, pursuing projects that mixed a dash of twee with a heap of ambition: a thousand yarn hearts tied around Union Square on Valentine’s Day; a giant crocheted Jonas Brother tacked up in Williamsburg during Winter Storm Jonas; an enormous woollen green-pepper pizza slice outside an East Village pizza joint. To every installation, she affixed a card with her Instagram handle.

Soon, companies began approaching her: Kaye has yarn-bombed a school bus for a Gap ad; a Brooklyn Starbucks; fourteen REDValentino store windows; and a Miller Lite billboard in Times Square. The branded projects allowed her to leave her job at the Apple Store and have given her the freedom to pursue her street art. Even though her creations often get taken down quickly, either by passersby or by property owners, she persists. A few years ago, on the side of a Bushwick building, Kaye installed three enormous crocheted figures—the twins from “The Shining” holding hands with the boy protagonist from Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”—and earned the ire of local activists, who saw the work as a sign of the neighborhood’s creeping gentrification. “It was the wrong piece on the wrong building,” Kaye said. She stood on tippy-toe on a collapsible stool. “These three huge white children. It’s a painful memory, but it was a lesson.” She tugged the top of a koala’s ears over the fence’s jagged edge. “You can stretch and manipulate the yarn in such organic ways,” she said.

A bespectacled woman in a purple felt hat approached the fence, her eyes watery from the cold. “Oh, this is adorable,” she said, taking in the woodland scene. “I tried to learn to crochet recently, because I wanted to make stuff for my baby granddaughter, but I was so bad at it.” She laughed. “The friend who taught me was very patient, but somehow . . . my fingers . . . ” The woman looked down at her hands.

“Once you learn, it becomes so relaxing and meditative,” Kaye said encouragingly. She turned to the fence, her own fingers flying nimbly, fastening a wool leaf atop a wool branch. “Crochet is very forgiving.” ♦

Source: The New Yorker

Join us at our next Noble Knits & Crochet Group Meeting. Stay up to date as things open up, for our next meeting time. Or begin your next crochet or knit for a cause in the comfort of your home with one of our patterns. Need ‘Cause’ ideas? Just ask! Have you ever knitted or crocheted for a cause? What was the cause? Why did you choose this cause? Share your answers with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of information with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today.

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Washing vs Blocking Wool

wools shdionna raven patterns and publications

As you probably know, one of my students completed a beautiful baby blanket for a new addition to the family. She purchased beautiful wool yarn from Cascade Yarns. She asked me about blocking the blanket and then told me she had washed it, which are too different things. Cascade Yarns has a beautiful selection of yarns. Some of their wools are even washable: superwash. So, I thought, let me give it a little more information. Before we get too far, there are a couple of ways to block:

  • Steam Blocking
  • Spray Blocking
  • Wet Blocking

If you would like to learn more about the differences, just ask or leave a comment and expect a reply. The important thing to remember whenever blocking or washing wool is”

  • Be careful with the water. Just use as much water as you need. Less is more in this area.
  • Be careful not to agitate the wool. Normally agitation is good in washing because that is how the dirt gets loosen. Again, in the case of wool, less of this is more.
  • Be careful to keep the temperature as cool as possible.

All of the three proceeding things done too much will encourage felting, which is totally different than your traditional wool fabric as you know. This applies to both blocking and washing wool. So, what is the best way to wash wools:

  • Fill a clean sink with lukewarm water
  • Add wool detergent
  • Squeeze your wool gently and allow to soak. Do not wring your wool as this will cause damage to your fabric.
  • Once the wool is clean lay it out on top of a towel. Roll the wool up into the towel and press the water out into the towel.
  • Lay your wool out on a new dry towel and allow to dry. Bobbles or pills will appear in small amounts on your wool due to agitation. This is natural. Use a shaver or comb to remove any bobbles or pills.

Would you like to learn more about blocking? Great, just ask or leave a comment. How long have you been crocheting or knitting? What is your favorite blocking method, why? Share your answers with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of information with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today.

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True to our Passions

As the saying goes: do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. With all the hours we put in, we believe that saying is 100 percent correct. Our roots were founded in sewing and like most people who sew, knit or crochet, we have been doing it since we were children. We loved it then and we love it now. Before we knew what draping was, we were draping clothes on our Barbies and hand sewing the latest fashions around Barbie town.

We not only develop and create patterns and publications, we teach as well. It always strikes me as interesting how much and how deeply we can talk about knitting or crocheting. My students contact me throughout the week and day with random questions about projects, knitting and crocheting. Were this any other job, aka job we did not love, we might not be so readily available. But since we love what we do, we are always thrilled to get the questions and to hear from students about what they are working on. We also believe in our crafts and the preservation of them.

So, we welcome you to a unique experience. As knitters and crocheters ourselves we have seen many patterns and know what a difference it can make to be able to ask a question or two about the pattern and the project itself. You work so hard and long to complete your project and you make every effort to do it correctly and completely. We understand. That is why we are here to offer you support with the patterns and publications you purchase with us. So, do not be shy. Ask. Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been doing it? How did you start? Share your answers with the community by sharing them below. Share the wealth of information with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people.