Woom, woom…

Laser cut needle gauge
Laser cutters have come along way since its induction in manufacturing in the mid-1960’s. Today’s CNC machines are smaller, lighter and more affordable.  Moreover, they can read just about any vector base file.

To commemorate World Wide Knit in Public (WWKIP) day, I designed at simple knitting needle gauge using Adobe Illustrator.

A needle gauge can be made of metal, plastic or wood, and is used to determine the size of a knitting needle.  Most knitting needles have the size imprinted on them, but over time and use, it often wears off.  Needle gauge are an integral part of a knitter’s arsenal.

Needle gauges

The biggest challenge was creating accurate size holes for which the needles need to passed through to determine their size.  Thankfully (and not surprisingly) I own just about every needle size available so testing the final product was easy.

Needle gauges

My husband was in charge of “printing” my design. After a few trial and errors in various materials, the final product was completed in birch plywood and polished with linseed oil. The WWKIP attendees loved them! This small project has inspired me to explore and design other knitting tools.

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In a pinch: Stitch markers

No stitch markers? Don’t be sheepish. Check your key chain for rings.

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Pie-spiration!

City of Chicago Small Business Center on the Road.
This past Saturday was the City of Chicago’s Small Business Development Center Expo at the South Shore Cultural Center. The expo consisted of about 40 exhibitors that included anything from financial information, to tax and legal clinics, to zoning information.  One valuable service provided was free headshot by a professional photographer which include services by a hair and make-up artist.

The Expo offered several free workshops. The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) offered a workshop on developing a business plan. Fifth Third Bank and ACCION presented information for accessing capital, and Blue Top Marketing offered a workshop on Facebook marketing.  I wanted to attend all of them, but unfortunately the workshops  occurred simultaneously.

Maya-Camille Broussard, founder of Justice of the Pies, was the guest speaker. Maya-Camille started Justice of the Pies in honor of her late father. Her father was a self-proclaimed “Pie Master”, in addition to a criminal defense attorney. Maya-Camille wanted to recognize her father’s passion for baking and, professionally, his hard work & belief that everyone deserves a second chance.

City of Chicago Small Business Center on the Road.

Maya-Camille presentation focused on lesson’s learned during her journey creating Justice of the Pies.  I walked away learning so much, I really wished I would have taken notes or recorded the presentation.  The main take-aways for me was:

  • Keep your product or services simple
  • Your product or services should have an emotional connection to its customers
  • Hire experts in areas like branding and logo design
  • Get paid for your time, services and products

Maybe one day I will utilize all these great local resources in Chicago, and apply Maya-Camille lessons to my own business.  You never know what the future will bring.  One thing for sure, I will be picking up a pie at Whole Foods!

 

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Empowerment

I was born and raised in the McKinley Park neighborhood in Chicago. I attended public schools and went to both DePaul University and Columbia College.  I worked and lived in many different neighborhoods. I didn’t buy my first car until I was in my late 30s, so I’ve always been very familiar with public transportation.  If I wasn’t on the CTA, I was on my bike.  I was never afraid,  but I was always aware of my surroundings.

Despite Chicago’s reputation, I’ve always been comfortable walking the street no matter the location of the sun or moon.  In my 20’s and 30’s, I owned this town! This was my city.

As a new mom, my confidence in my safety and city was waning. Was it typical mommy self-doubt?  Mommy brain fog? Suddenly, pulling into the garage at night with my daughter became a bit frightening. I starting asking myself was it safe to play at Maggie Daley Park until closing? Getting on the Electric Line to go home? Being the last passenger on the platform as I attended to the stroller and my daughter? Was it even safe to walk home from the train station after dark?

I was also angry. Angry that I feared my city and parks at night.  Angry at the mass scale of violence against women. Angry for messages that women are somehow responsible for the horrific violence perpetrated against them because of something as arbitrary as the time of day.  Angry at all the fathers that do not teach their sons about consent.  Angry at all the men who DO NOTHING to stop the rape culture in this country.  (Have you ever heard a group of men discussing what they can do about the rape culture in this country?) Angry at the judges who set free sex offenders because the offender attended an Ivy League School. And so on, and on, and on.

My anxiety increased after the 2016 election.

I couldn’t continue living this way. I was inspired by a Facebook post to do something about my fears and anxiety. This past November, my nephew’s girlfriend mentioned taking a self-defense class.  I started looking up classes. It was to sad to see how few classes were available. I did find IMPACT Chicago, a small non-for-profit founded in 1987.  IMPACT has a sliding tuition schedule, making classes accessible to people of all economic and racial groups.  More importantly, they firmly believe women of all ages and sizes have within them self-protection skills.

Impact

Mission statement: “IMPACT Chicago is committed to ending violence and building a non-violent world in which all people can live safely and with dignity.”

This past weekend I attended IMPACT’s Core Program – an intense two and a half day self-defense training class.  WOW, just wow!  I can’t even begin to describe the experience.  One thing is sure, my inner-strength and confidence has been resurrected.

I am empowered with strength and knowledge. The class was taught through different scenarios where the assailant is either a complete stranger or someone known.  I learned how to use my voice to de-escalation situations and set boundaries. I practiced physical techniques and strategies that will fend off an attacker.  I was taught how to managed my adrenaline to allow me to make quick, deliberate decisions while delivery full-force strikes. Wow, just wow!

Even after a weekend of intensive physical fighting, (and cheering on fifteen other women doing the same), I am still angry that violence against women is so widespread.  However, I am thankful that IMPACT-Chicago is helping women overcome their fears, and giving them hope for a safe environment where they live and work.

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The thrill of it all

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Organizing knitting events can be very satisfying.  Knitting meet-ups build closer relationships, better connections, and powerful attachments. I love when crafters gather, make new friendships, and old friends get re-acquainted.  Twice in the last few months, a parent is reunited with their children’s high school teacher.  There is always that moment of “I feel that I know you….” and next thing they are hugging, laughing and sharing pictures.

Another favorite of mine is learning that there are other meet-ups in the neighborhood, or better yet, a knitting charity project happening at the local yoga studio or church.  Starting this week is the Welcome Blanket Project at First Unitarian Church on Woodlawn Avenue (Wednesdays 7-9p).

Organizing knitting events are nerve wrecking. Perhaps I am a perfectionist. I am always concerned that all the meet-up attendees will have a good time.  Just the mere idea of knitters getting together should easily make it a win. However, I find myself worried that there won’t be enough seating, poor service or food, unclean tables, or not enough toilet paper in the bathrooms.  Like the character Beverly Boyer in the movie “The Thrill of It All,”  I am sure everything is going badly.

Organizing knitting events are fun, plain and simple. The unexpected adds to the excitement of it all.  This past Saturday was World Wide Knit in Public Day.  I organized the local event at Dollop Coffee located on the University of Chicago campus. Surprisingly, it was relatively easy getting ready and leaving my house on time. (I have a 3 year old that can complicate tasks like taking a shower or getting dress).

I was feeling pretty good on my way to the event, but was surprised how difficult it was to find parking. Usually 55th Street has plenty of open spots.  As I walked to the cafe, the courtyard was flowing with maroon – the school’s colors. Tables were set up everywhere. Who knew the university would be hosting a convocation lunch right outside of the cafe.

Things got more “interesting” when I realized the cafe did not reserve seating for WWKIPDay despite the fact that I checked-in with the manager the day before.  I didn’t panic, although it would have been easy to start yelling. Thankfully the cafe was empty. I cleaned up the tables and rearranged some furniture, and made my own reserved signs.

Knitters and crocheters started to arrive – familiar faces and new ones too.  There was plenty of conversations and crafting going on even though for about an hour the cafe was swamped with caps & gowns and their parents (more of the unexpected).

I have developed better self-esteem and confidence since I’ve starting organizing knitting meet-ups over 2 years ago.  I’ve developed great relationships that inspired me to be the best I can be. But most importantly, it has taught me that its the people, not the things, that make any event a success.

 

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World Wide Knit In Public Day

WWKIPDAY-logo

I am super stoked to announce World Wide Knit in Public Day (WWKIPDay) is coming to Hyde Park!

WWKIPDay was established in 2005 by Danielle Landes. Landes wanted knitters to come together as a community.  Knitting has come along way since 2005. Today, craft meet-ups, guilds and conferences are almost everywhere.  Please join WWKIPDay on Saturday, June 10th, 10a – 3p at Dollop Coffee. Visit the official website for location information and registration.  I encourage crafters spread the word by printing a flyer and posting at your LYS or neighborhood community board.

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Knitting Studio at the Quilt Show

I recently had the pleasure of presenting at the International Quilt Show in Chicago.  The show includes several open studios dedicated to artists, teachers and exhibitors to give demos to inspire others.  There were studios for Quilting, Knit & Crochet, Painting & Embellishments and Sewing.  A friend connected me with the organizer of the show so I proposed two demos for the Knit & Crochet studio.

The first demo was Fun with Loom Knitting! I recently received the addi Express Knitting Machine for my birthday.  The Express is a hand-cranked knitting machine with 46 “needles” and can knit in-the-round or flat.  With this machine, you can knit a hat in about 15 minutes.  Prefect for charity knits or stash busting.

00_2017 Quilt Sho

Cranking can get tedious and boring, so my husband rigged the crank with a drill to speed up the process.  Hooking up a suction cup and the drill to the crank made the demo an instant hit!

The second demo was Knitted Knockers – knitted or crocheted breast prostheses. I spoke about the benefits of Knitted Knockers, and taught one quilter/knitter how to knit the Knocker with two circular needles instead of using double pointed needles.  It was well worth the time for this demo for as I was able to give a set of Knockers to a woman whose sister recently undergone a mastectomy.

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