Monday, August 14, 2017

Super Summer Markdown

Hi Everyone. 
I hope you are enjoying your summer. It's been a crazy one! 

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have marked down a bunch of my designs to $1.25. So if you have had your eye on any of the paid patterns now is the time to grab them. 

Also two of the patterns are now FREE!!! You'll have to go check them out to see which ones they are. 

Spread the word! No code needed. The sale is on Ravelry & Craftsy.

Happy Crocheting!
Kristina

Mrs. Gladwel's Shawl

MG's Hat

The Dave Hill Hat

Iseult's Slouch Hat

The Dreamer's Hat

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bella Shrug

The pattern for The Bella Shrug is no longer available for download. 



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Orlando & and the sale to raise money in his memory.




I lost my beloved fur baby Orlando two months ago today. It's been excruciatingly difficult getting through the days and I miss him terribly. The first month I did nothing but cry. As time moves on I am a little bit stronger but I will never fully get over losing him. We had a special bond and he saved me in so many ways. I'm getting a little teary even as I type this. I'm still raw from it all.

It's important to me to honor his memory and one of the best ways to do that, in my opinion, is to continue to help and support the organizations that work tirelessly on behalf of homeless and abused animals. There are several wonderful groups here in Massachusetts, including the MSPCA. On May 21st they are holding a 5K run/walk to raise money, Fast and Furriest. I have signed up - it's my first 5K -and I have set a fundraising goal of $500. I am raising the funds in memory of Orlando.

My fundraising efforts have led to a sale in my Ravelry shop. Between now and May 20th you can purchase all of my 10 paid hat patterns for $15. You have to purchase all 10 but it's a savings of $20.00 off the regular price. All of the proceeds from this sale, every last penny, will be going to the MSPCA and hopefully help a lot of animals. It's only on Ravelry. The link is here:

http://www.ravelry.com/redeem/kristina-olson-designs?sale=81934

Whenever I crocheted he would snuggle in next to me and rest his head on my thigh, so this is the perfect way to honor him. The cash goes to the animals and you get ten trendy hats to make.

If you would like to donate without buying the hats you can do that here:

http://support.mspca.org/site/TR/FastandFurriest/General?px=2142629&pg=personal&fr_id=1863

You can donate anonymously if you choose and the donations made through the website are tax deductible.

I now have over 400,000+ unique downloads since I started this journey 3 years ago. I offer the majority of my patterns for free. Please consider donating, even a dollar, if you have ever downloaded and made one of my free patterns.

And speaking of free patterns I am spending the rest of today typing up the patterns for 2 new hat patterns. "Evie's Hat" and "The Costello Slouch". Hopefully they will both be available sometime this week for free on Ravelry & Craftsy.

Happy Crocheting everyone and thank you for your continued support and appreciation of my work.

Orlando the first time he got on top of the kitchen stool by himself

He loved to play the piano

My handsome little man

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Joyce Gladwell & Mrs. Gladwell's Shawl

Joyce Gladwell 

Inspiration comes from many places, and lately for me it has come from some of my favorite authors. Joyce Gladwell is a woman that has had a profound impact on the way I think and my view of the world. Her book Brown Face, Big Master was one of those books you devour in one sitting. The best books, for me, are the ones you still think about long after you have read them and this book by Mrs. Gladwell is one of those books.




Originally published in 1969, the themes and subject matter are just as relevant today as they were back then. She writes about her life with unflinching honesty even when it is not entirely flattering to herself. I remember the first time I read this memoir how amazed I was at her courage to be so honest and open about her life, her thoughts, her emotions and her relationship with God. Faith in a higher power did not come easy for her, and one of the major themes in the book is her personal quest to discover and embrace that faith. This is not strictly a religious memoir however. She also deals with race, discrimination, her marriage to an Englishman, growing up in Jamaica and the difficulties she had adjusting to life as a married woman. 

And yes, she is Malcolm Gladwell's mother. He is a lucky man to have such an extraordinary mother, but I'm sure he knows that. He touched briefly on her book, and her life, in his wildly popular best seller Outliers - The Story of Success. It's the last chapter, and truthfully, it is what compelled me to purchase his mother's book. Three paragraphs in I forgot that she was his mother until I was reminded again on page 178 when he was born. 

Elaine Linton, Malcolm Gladwell & Joyce Gladwell

The writing is beautiful, clean and crisp. It is well-paced and engaging.  She recreates her journey through different worlds with spare but vivid prose. As she describes her hometown in the opening paragraph:

The district is very beautiful: full of colour, varied in scenery and profuse in vegetation. Day after day in our childhood we feasted our eyes on the spectacle around us with gentle pleasure. We still do, whenever we return to Harewood, at whatever stage in our lives, however splendid the scenes from which we return. Perhaps it is the charm that attaches to any scene of happy childhood; we knew every stone and every blade of grass and we were part of them. 

The autobiography begins with her sheltered and protected childhood. Her mother, Daisy Nation, had high expectations for her children. "My mother had clear ideas on the moral standards she wanted her children to have and the social status she wanted them to achieve." She recounts  her school years in Jamaica, in particular her time at a private school, St. Hilary's. Her first encounter with race discrimination came one day when she was in the school library and looked up the word negro. 

I knew in a dim way that what I had read about the inferior intelligence of the negro was not supported by evidence, at least in Jamaica. Here at school the girls of negro origin were often more successful than white girls as the former in many cases entered on scholarships and the latter because their parents could afford the fees, whatever their ability. But whatever evidence...here was a statement to the opposite effect in the authoritative pages of the school encyclopaedia. 

She goes on to write; "I felt condemned. There were people in the world who would assume I was, by virtue of my race, inferior in intellect. It became terribly important to me to demonstrate to myself and to other people that this was not true."

Her sister won a scholarship to University in London and Joyce followed two years after. On the boat to England she suffered a sexual assault at the hands of an English doctor who assumed she was there solely for his pleasure and had no regard for her as a human being. She escaped physically but not emotionally. 

In that moment I learnt something about the relationship between men and women that I had not allowed for before: that to make love and to love could be quite separate...I have never unlearnt that lesson. If the resentment and bitterness passed in time, the sadness still remains. 
She meet Graham Gladwell at college and eventually their friendship turned to love. The family that welcomed her at first became strongly resistant when they announced their plans to marry. They felt it would be wrong for them to have children of mixed race. They married despite the objections, they have been happily married for over 50 years. 

They did not have an easy time of it. Mixed marriages in the 1950s were not common and people were openly hostile to them. She recounts one story of a landlady who had rented them property before she had seen them. When she discovered Joyce was Jamaican she kicked them out. The landlord's husband apologized but he could not persuade his wife to his point of view and allow them to rent from them. At first her response was anger. Then she looked  within herself, and her faith, and asked some very difficult questions. 

Have you not done the same thing? Remember this one and that one, people whom you have slighted or avoided or treated less considerately than others because they were different superficially, and you were ashamed to be identified with them. 
This is no small task. To look at yourself, to really be honest about your own prejudices and emphases, is an incredible accomplishment. 

...for while I was victim for one moment, the next I was myself the offender. We were both guilty of the sin of self-regard, the pride and exclusiveness by which we cut some people off from ourselves. And this is common to all men.
Her words, 50 years later, are as relevant today as they were then. It is still too common for prejudice to take root in our society. Discrimination, in all forms, is still common to all men. How many of us have the courage to be that honest with ourselves? 

She never wrote another book, or least she never published another book. It is a shame. I would have loved to have heard more about the time they spent here in Boston while Graham Gladwell was teaching at MIT. She wrote briefly "Our three months there were an enchanted time. We met no no unpleasant experiences because of my color; rather, perhaps, the reverse." 


Mrs. Gladwell's Shawl was named after her. It was my way of communicating how much I appreciate her book, and how touched I was reading it. My art, crochet, is the conduit to say thank you for sharing her story.  I was moved by her words, her strength and her frankness. I admire all of those things. I would urge everyone to pick up a copy of her book and read it for yourselves.





Mrs. Gladwell's Shawl is available for download on Ravelry & Craftsy. 

If you plan on using the pattern for charitable purposes please email me at
yarnconfections@gmail.com. I may be able to offer it for free.


Thanks to Meagan for being such a wonderful model. :)







Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shrill and Other Weighty Issues

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  
Antoine de Saint Exupéry



A few weeks ago I read a wonderful book by Lindy West, Shrill, Notes from a Loud Woman. For me, the best books are the ones that you are still thinking about long after you finish reading them. This is one of those books. It’s honest, sometimes heart wrenching, and often hilarious. I’m not usually a fan of memoirs, but this one is so much more than just her life story. It’s about a woman who at one point wanted to hide, but found her voice and learned to not be afraid to use it. There are so many superb reasons to read Shrill, but the sections that have remained with me are the ones dealing with being a fat woman in American society. It has caused me to evaluate my own struggle with my weight, and the consequences of that struggle.

From the book:

You have to participate, with a smile, in your own disintegration. You have to swallow, every day, that you are a secondary being whose worth is measured by an arbitrary, impossible standard, administered by men.

I understand those words. I live with them every day. I am a fat woman in a world that devalues any female that is larger than a size 10. I’m a size 18 currently but the number has fluctuated wildly over the past 20 years. I still struggle everyday to come to terms with my body, my relationship with food, exercise, and myself.

Lindy West isn’t the only one bringing this issue into the media spotlight. Another brilliant piece on being fat in America comes from Ira Glass and This American Life. It features Lindy West, Roxanne Gay and a brave young woman named Elna. Her story is powerful, one that you won’t forget. Everyone, including men, should listen to that podcast. You can find it here:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/589/tell-me-im-fat.

I want to be able to acknowledge that the shape of my body is not a reflection of who I am, but the question I keep coming back to is this: How can I ask others to accept and appreciate me for who I am if I can’t do it myself?

Lindy West has accomplished that. I am sure she has moments and days that are still difficult, that’s life as a human being, but I admire her strength and courage to choose to be happy, even though it may have been painful getting to that point. This is not a self-help book in any form, but it’s hard not to see Ms. West as a role model. Accepting our bodies, and rejecting the body-shaming trend, is not just a problem for fat women.

Despite all of this, I have to admit that I am ensnared by the societal pressure that I need to be thin and that there is something wrong with me as a human being because I am not. I will never be thin, but I could be thinner. And that’s the trap. How slim is slim enough? How many calories should I not consume and how many miles a week should I run? I was bulimic for years and the sad reality -as I see it anyways- is that an individual with an eating disorder is more acceptable to people than a person who is fat.

I realize that being fat can and does cause health issues for some, but not all, people. The illnesses the medical community has linked to being fat are staggering. The top seven according to WebMD are; heart disease and stroke,  high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout, and breathing issues such as sleep apnea and asthma. However, more recent research has revealed that a sedentary lifestyle may play a bigger role in these conditions than previously thought.

The weight loss industry is a multibillion dollar machine that is a clear indication of how many individuals are affected by this issue. No one has the answers or the miracle cure. The drug companies would love to find the drug that magically melts fat. The book publishers are all looking for the author who can write the next fad diet book to sell millions of copies. Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig and dozens of others are raking in tons of cash from individuals who are desperate to lose weight. They too believe the propaganda that the meaning of happy is thin.

The truth is that it’s just not as simple as diet and exercise. The truth is that it’s a complicated issue with components of poverty, a ridiculous healthcare system, emotional health, genetics and conflicting scientific research.

The emotional health aspect of obesity is just as vital as physical health in this equation. On its website the Harvard T. Chan School of Public Heath writes:
New evidence confirms that the relationship between obesity and depression may be a two-way street: A meta-analysis of 15 long-term studies that followed 58,000 participants for up to 28 years found that people who were obese at the start of the study had a 55 percent higher risk of developing depression by the end of the follow-up period, and people who had depression at the start of the study had a 58 percent higher risk of becoming obese. (1)

Of course fat people have higher rates of depression! Anyone that is systematically abused and humiliated on regular basis is going to suffer with some level of despair. The “war on obesity” can often be nothing more than moral licensing to abuse fat people.

From Shrill again:

They’d whipped up a host of reasons why it was right and good to hate fat people; our repulsive, unsexy bodies, of course (the classic!), but also our drain on the healthcare system, our hogging of plane armrests, our impact on “the children,” our pathetic inability and/or monstrous refusal to swap austerity for gluttony (like thin people, who, as you know, are moderate and virtuous in all ways). Oh and our “health.” Because they care. They abuse us for our own good.
Fat people receive poor and inadequate healthcare because too many physicians tend to write off all symptoms as obesity related. They are treating the number not the patient. I have cancelled my annual physical 3 times the past few months because I am afraid of getting on the scale and listening to another lecture about my weight. Like it’s a surprise to me I’m fat. As if everyone who is fat decided they would like to be that way instead of thin. “I would be thin but I enjoy all the rude comments I get everyday like ‘wide load coming through’ as I step on to a subway car, but thanks anyway.”

Diabetes is closely linked with obesity and a common weapon in the “fat is bad” arsenal. At the Global Changing Diabetes Leadership Forum in New York, in March 2007, Malcolm Gladwell stated:
I would think that the biggest indication would be that health would replace race and gender as drivers of discrimination... If in this country, for example, we didn’t change our healthcare system. It would become so prohibitively expensive for businesses to have people with this disease on their payroll that they would start to take active steps to avoid hiring people at this risk in the first place.
He is talking about diabetes but the disease has become synonymous with obesity. Discrimination against fat people would lead to hiring choices based on BMI instead of qualifications. Higher unemployment rates would increase poverty levels for the overweight. Lack of income would translate into unhealthy food choices because “bad” food is much cheaper than “good” food, compounded by the lack of supermarkets and fresh produce in poor neighborhoods.

Malcolm Gladwell also wrote a piece for The New Yorker in 1998 about weight (this debate has been going on a long time) entitled “The Pima Paradox.” The full article is here on his website: http://gladwell.com/the-pima-paradox/. Despite the fact that it is now 18 years old it still raises some valid points and proves that not much has changed in the landscape of American fat and what to do about it. The section on diet books alone makes this an essay worth reading.

Gladwell -an obsessive compulsive runner who probably weighs 155 pounds- doesn’t endorse obesity, or make excuses for those who are overweight, but he acknowledges that losing weight is not as simple as some people may claim or expect. And while a lot of his reporting isn’t good news for those looking to drop pounds, it is a balanced view of the problems associated with losing –or not losing- weight.
As the world grows fatter, and as one best-selling diet scheme after another inevitably fails, the idea that being slender is an attainable–or even an advisable–condition is slowly receding. Last month, when The New England Journal of Medicine published a study suggesting that the mortality costs of obesity had been overstated, the news was greeted with resounding relief, as if we were all somehow off the hook, as if the issue with obesity were only mortality and not the thousand ways in which being fat undermines our quality of life...
What Gladwell missed -maybe he can revisit this essay in the next season of his podcast Revisionist History- was the emotional toll of carrying around all that extra weight. Fat people are more than mortality rates on a page. There are legitimate physical, mental, genetic and environmental complications in the effort to shed pounds. Those shouldn’t be discounted when you look at a fat person. We are not looking for excuses, but we shouldn’t owe anyone justifications. I should be able to shop in a supermarket without people studying, and judging, the items in my cart. We are looking for kindness, compassion and the awareness that we are human beings. It’s a basic right and one that no one on this planet should be denied.

I try to remember that I am more than the number on a scale, or that a dress size determines my self-worth. It’s hard sometimes to focus on the positives. I’m kind, smart, funny, talented, loyal and strong. Boston strong. It’s hard to take me down to the point that I don’t get up again, but my weight is a weapon that does just that. It hurts. There are things that I want that are denied to me for no other reason other than I am fat. And that sucks.

1. Luppino FS, de Wit LM, Bouvy PF, et al. Overweight, obesity, and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies.Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 67:2209.


Monday, July 18, 2016

A Few Things...

This has been a roller coaster of a year for me, but unfortunately the past two months have been really challenging for many reasons.  It’s been a struggle but I am working diligently at getting back on my feet. The crochet has definitely helped and designing new things has been a key component in keeping my head above water.  Most fiber enthusiasts are well aware of the meditative and calming effects that knitting and crochet provide and I have definitely been reminded of that lately. I’ll have more on that in a future post.



The most difficult thing I have been dealing with is my beloved fur baby, Orlando, has been diagnosed with stage IV Chronic Kidney Disease.  The prognosis isn’t great, but I am doing everything I can to make him comfortable and happy. Among a few other things, I have to give him fluids subcutaneously every other day. It’s been a learning process for both of us, but we are adjusting and now it is routine most “bag” nights. I bring this up because it has been a major impact on my life, but also because I wanted to publicly thank Helen for her amazing site: Tanya's Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease . This site helped me so much from the initial diagnosis to everything that has come after it. It was, and continues to be, a lifeline, helping me to help Orlando. Thank you Helen for the amazing & wonderful work you do.  


On the better news front, I have two designs that were accepted by magazines! I will be working on the samples and written text on those the next few weeks, but after that I have a substantial backlog of designs to get out. And by substantial I mean 20-25 patterns that are almost ready to be published. I may have been quiet but I have been busy. I can’t wait to share them all with you. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I loved designing them. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to know right away when they are published as they roll out. 

I also have a few blog posts coming up on some wonderful books I have read recently including The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, Shrill by Lindy West, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and a few mysteries too. I also have a few things to say about Malcolm Gladwell's new podcast, Revisionist Historythat may surprise a few people. 

As always thanks for your continued support! 

Kristina 



Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lillian's Crochet Collar




I love vintage patterns. I have a large collection of both knitting and crochet patterns and I love looking through them for inspiration. Actually making an item from the written instructions in those booklets however can be quite a challenge. Especially this particular pattern. One of the reasons I choose to recreate this one was because it was barely more than a sketch and a paragraph of instructions. That's it! I was curious to see what it was going to be.

The pattern is part of a publication from Australia entitled  Busy Fingers VOL 1 NUMBER 1.

Most of the patterns in this booklet are for knitting but this caught my eye in the corner. This is the original pattern:


I think my favorite part is the part about hook size. "1 medium size Crochet Hook."  What the heck is considered a medium crochet hook? It also never mentions that this should be worked in the round!

There isn't a date anywhere in the booklet but I am guessing this is from the 1950s.

I tried to stay as faithful as I could to the original. You can download my version on Ravelry & Craftsy. It's a free pattern!

Happy Crocheting!

Kristina