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  • Kate Hanfling, Volunteer

DIY for National Handmade Day with Hog Island!

Today is National Handmade Day, which celebrates the love and thought that goes into handmade products. The heritage breed Hog Island Sheep that we’re working to protect here at the Accokeek Foundation produce beautiful wool that we use to make yarn and handmade crafts which are sold to help fund our conservation efforts.

If you want to try your hand at making your own yarn or start a new project, you can purchase wool and yarn from the Accokeek Foundation! We’ve got raw wool straight from the sheep, wool that’s been carded and ready for spinning, and finished yarn that’s ready to be turned into something beautiful. Quantities are limited as our yarn is processed by volunteers. All proceeds from sales go straight back to our work of preserving these endangered and critically endangered heritage livestock breeds. If you’re interested in learning how we go from sheep to yarn, check out our ‘Processing the Process: Hog Island Wool’ post.

If you’re ready to start a knitting project, check out our video series on basic knitting techniques! First, learn about different yarn weights and colors.

Next, discover what needles to choose for your project.

Once you’ve selected your materials, see how to cast on (the technique used to loop the yarn onto your needle). Now you’re ready to get started.

Here’s how to do the basic stitches you can use for almost any project (knit, purl, and rib stitches).

Finally, learn how to increase (make your row bigger), decrease (make it smaller) and cast off (finish your project and take it off your needles). Once you master these techniques you’re ready for almost any beginning to easy level project.

A great one to start with is a simple scarf. Make the scarf as wide as you like by casting on as many stitches as it takes for your desired width (remember, your project will be a bit larger than it seems on your needle!), and then go from there. No need to do increases or decreases if you don’t want to. You can knit/garter stitch the whole thing as a very first project or practice different techniques by making a pattern.

When your scarf is the length you want it to be, cast off. Experiment with it! Soon your friends will be asking for one of their own. If you use a bulkier yarn, you’ll need fewer stitches, so depending on the yarn you choose this project could take you anywhere from a few hours (jumbo, super bulky, roving, etc.) to many weeks (lace, fingering, baby, etc.). You could even knit with your fingers, if knitting needles are not available, or use chopsticks as makeshift knitting needles.

Above are some examples of projects we’ve done with our yarn that we sell in the visitor’s center. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back so you can see the crafts in person soon!

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