Sunday, April 3, 2011

Reduce: Knitting For The Family

An owl I've made before (with different colors) and will make for Owen and a few others,
 Do you know the number one thing I've gotten sick of as a parent?  Cheap, plastic toys, with tons of wasteful packaging and ridiculous prices.  I am so sick of them breaking, being under foot, not lasting, and my kids losing interest in them after a week.  I want toys that are durable, dare I say, cool looking, and made out of sustainable materials.  In the last year, I've cut our toys by half and am forever going through the kids' rooms and toy box to eliminate more.  We sell or donate each and every one of them.

What are the kids doing instead?  Well, shocker of shocker, we also cancelled cable, got rid of half our DVDs (Adios, Dora!) and decided to do stuff like go to the library, paint, make our own play doh, and also make a bunch of our own toys.  Hence about 2 1/2 years ago, when I learned to knit, one of my biggest goals was to learn how to make toys!  Have you seen some of the cute things you can make!  The toys I've made for my children have lasted longer, been played with more, and cost far less than anything we buy.

That's incentive enough for me, frankly.  I've grown to adore making things for my family.  Last winter, I made every one of our hats and scarves.  I like to make potholders and wash cloths with acrylic yarns (they don't harbor bacteria and wash up very nicely).  This year, two of my biggest projects are to keep making toys and brand new afghans for the kids, and making blankets/hats/toys for SEVEN of my dear friends and family members who are having babies.

The latest baby blanket I made for my friend, Jess's new baby boy, Cyrus.
Now, I understand we don't all have time to knit or crochet, we don't all have the talent or patience for it, but I think we can all reach for toys that have been locally made or hand crafted.  We can all find a lot of more creative stuff for our kids to do, making art, reading with them, and helping them use their imaginations with toys that you lovingly made for them or someone else made with their own two hands.  Encourage creative play, less materialism, and if anything encourage yourself and local artisans to keep making things with love.

The four toys my daughter plays with most, and she is a 5 1/2 year old? Her handmade Coraline and Madeline dolls, and two knitted toys that both I and people I love made for her.  Owen sleeps every night with the sock money and a knitted owl a friend helped me make.  The kids excitedly pick the colors they want for their new afghans and toys and other projects I line up.  It makes me happier than you can imagine to give gifts I made with my own two hands.

A fairy I'm making Eva and two baby girls this year.
I hope they can be loved and cherished and passed down.  I know that the things that have been handmade for me are the things I cherish the most.  I hope my kids will too, bu the proofs in the pudding when we spend an afternoon creating things with our own two hands, reading, and using our imaginations.  We all retire to bed happier, more fulfilled, and knowing we made the world a little bit brighter.

Being green, being more conscientious, a lot of it boils down to what we want to fill our kids' childhoods with. I know I want my kids to feel loved, encouraged, and like they are making a positive impact with the choices they make.  So when I get to help them make their own toys and fun, that's part of when I know we're doing one little thing to reduce our footprint here on Earth.  We're tired of wasting our money on toys that are harmful to the environment, suck up our bank accounts, and that stimulate no creativity.  Let's hope we can continue to make choices and purchases that are better for the Earth and for us.

Here's a list of websites and books that are my favorites for making toys and knitted goodies.  Soon, I'll be putting up a list of lots of other fun ways to make creative, greener fun with your family.
-Amy Gaines Knit and Crochet Patterns
-Kntting Momoichi
-Rebecca Danger Patterns
-Teach Yourself to Knit Visually

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