Mar 31, 2010

The Story: Linda Blakely

In an effort to recognize I am not alone in my desire to change the world one hand-knit at a time, I’m sharing the stories of fellow crafters who are using their knitting for good.

I’ve found that as I engage other knitters in conversation, it is rare that a knitter isn’t actively engaged in making the space around them kinder, more peaceful and happier using their yarn and needles. By sharing our stories, we are building a narrative of world-change.

In Her Own Words: My name is Linda Blakely. I'm from all over. Military Brat. I started knitting about 30 years ago, taught by my mother. I got away from it for more than a decade (I know...why on earth???) but resumed knitting after seeing all the gorgeous handspuns and hand-dyes on Etsy. Then came Ravelry, and I was sucked back into the fold. After being commissioned by Regretsy to knit some hats for charity, I realized this was something I wanted to do full-time, so I created my own non-profit called ConnieCaps, Inc.

1. What’s one way you consistently use your knitting to change the world? My hairdresser saw that I was making chemo caps and asked me to knit one for her friend, who was undergoing treatment for cancer. She asked for specific colors, and that's what gave me the idea to make ConnieCaps customizable. We have several ready-made hats that the cancer patient can choose from, or they can special order a hat from one of eight different styles.

2. Is there a quote, piece of advice, or nugget of truth you’ve carried with you on your knitting journey? Persistence always wins. I've worked on several projects where I just didn't like the way it was turning out, no matter how many times I reworked. Just when I would be about to give up, things just fell into place and the yarn, needles, and my perseverance became harmonious and the project got finished.

3. What would be your knitting dream? A megabuck shopping spree at my favorite yarn stores, both online and off.

4. What are your favorite materials to work with? Bamboo, Cashmere, Alpaca, Angora. Oh Lordy, the decadence!

5. Who are some of your knitting influencers? My mom, who taught me how to knit. All the multi-talented spinners and dyers on Etsy.

7. What is the legacy you want to leave? I want to make people happy with my knitting. If I can make a cancer patient's day a little brighter with a nice hat, then I'm good :-D

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If you are interested in sharing your story with the knitting community, shoot me an e-mail ( I’ll send you a copy of the questions along with a few instructions!

Mar 30, 2010

Flat Knit (#56)

After a rough week filled with death, drama, and tears, I'm happy to be back home in Omaha, surrounded by my knitting and my cats and my every-day life! This week I've got four fun hats to share with you, along with the launch of a great new project I'm super excited about!

The Flat Knit hat was one on my list of PDFs from Ravelry, and it fit almost perfectly with the Cascade 220 I had. Because Cascade 220 works up a bit thinner than some other worsteds, this hat knit up a bit smaller than I'd have liked for myself - good thing I'm donating it! If I were to knit it again, I'd actually knit it in the round.

I know that the hat is meant for those who don't want to knit in the round, but I'm so used to doing that now that it felt weird to not be knitting that way. I'd also make the brim a bit larger - mine turned out to be about 1.5" after being folded, but I'd like it to be a bit thicker for winter months.  

Specs: Flat Knit Cabled Hat by Crystal McDonald; knit using Cascade 220 in pink heather with size 8 needles.

Mar 29, 2010

Knitting For Africa

Knitting for others, especially those I’ve never met, can be a tricky thing. As I set up new knitting challenges for myself, I think first about who I’ll be knitting for. Hats make sense for colder climates in the United States, but as I continue on my quest to knit ten thousand items for charity, one goal I have is to expand my knitting towards giving to other countries.

Like many people I know, my heart is drawn to Africa – the immense suffering heaped upon many of its’ residents due to centuries of abuse, slavery and dictatorships has left millions living in the lowest depths of poverty and dying of diseases we give our infants shots for without thinking twice. {And yes, I know this is an over-simplified description.}

I find myself drawn over and over to knit for the people of Africa, and yet it seems out of reach for hand-knits. When I think of Africa I think of desert, of warmth and sun; I rarely think of a need for something hand-knit.  

In reality, there are large portions of Africa with temperatures that dip low (below freezing!) during harsh winter evenings, leaving the door wide open for hand-knits to be given.

Researching organizations that donate hand-knits to Africa brought another huge round of questions. It would seem there aren’t many currently operating, at least not many my Google search could find!

What I did find did not surprise me – organizations that are collecting squares to be sewn into blankets. If you have a heart for Africa, consider donating to one of these three organizations – all three collect simple knit/crochet squares – an item even the most beginner of beginner crafters can make in an afternoon. Each organization works in a different region of Africa. Each organization helps orphans and the poorest of the poor.

 Ghana Project – acrylic knit/crochet squares are sewn together into blankets for children undergoing surgery in Ghana.

Knitting 4 Charity - South African winter temps dip below zero in the evenings!!!

Knit A Square - accepting squares (their goal is 105,000 this year!) and knitted items for orphans in South Africa

One of my Life Goals is to knit 200 squares for charity; I think these squares will definitely go to one of these three charities. And I will be on the lookout for ways to donate vests, sweaters and more in the future, not to mention hats!

Mar 26, 2010

this weekend

This weekend is set to be another busy one! We're spending some time with family to celebrate the life of my great-grandmother, who passed away last week after a glorious 103 years of life. Because there will be a fair bit of hanging around - plenty of time for hand-fidgeting - I'm bringing along reinforcements.
This weekend
This bowl of yarn will accompany me all over this weekend. That's hat #56 on the needles {in pink}, which I hope to have done before Saturday afternoon. At that point I'll be stuffing the green yarns (three skeins-worth) into my purse so I can whip through a bunch of adorable baby hats. The goal is to knock out hats #56-#61 before Monday evening. Should be super exciting!

Here's hoping your weekend is full of celebrations of life - with all the gorgeous spring weather happening all around us, it shouldn't be too hard!

Mar 25, 2010


People ask me all the time where I find the patterns for the hats I knit, how I connect with other knitters in this digital age, and where I love to visit when I'm not knitting. And it's about time I responded! Here's a grouping of my favorite spots on the internet, divided out into a few categories for easier viewing.

{P.S. - Want to see your knitting blog, or your favorite knitting blog, added to this list? I'm always on the hunt for other knitters online, so shoot me an e-mail to and I'll get the blog added!}

Every Single Day

Free Patterns
Bev's Country Cottage

Knitting Blogs
A Friend To Knit With
Afghans For Afghans blog
Artsy Craftsy Babe
Bella Bambina
Chez Plum
Close Knit
Cosmicpluto Knits
Crazy Aunt Purl

Flint Knits
Future Girl
In Knitting News
Lixie Knits
Purl Bee
Split Yarn
Stay Fancy Free
Through The LoopsVickie Howell
Wooly WormheadYarn Harlot

Mar 24, 2010

The Story: Lorrie Jo

Lorrie jo 1 In an effort to recognize I am not alone in my desire to change the world one hand-knit at a time, I’m sharing the stories of fellow crafters who are using their knitting for good.

I’ve found that as I engage other knitters in conversation, it is rare that a knitter isn’t actively engaged in making the space around them kinder, more peaceful and happier using their yarn and needles. By sharing our stories, we are building a narrative of world-change.

In Her Own Words: I've lived in California most of my life. I spent some time in Australia, Indiana and Canada when I was young, but my home is northern California. I've always been a hands on person, and my mother and my daughter are the same way. We've always made gifts more often than buying. We all have ongoing projects some of them multi-generational, or at least over several decades. Knitting in particular is a multi-generational pastime in my family.

I don't remember a time when I didn't know how to knit, but my mother tells me I learned when I was about 5 years old. We were living in Australia then. A neighbor taught my mother how to knit. After watching her do it, I wanted to learn, so she taught me. In the beginning I knitted blocks that my mother would sew together into blankets or I'd knit larger blocks that I used as blankets for my dolls. Later when I was about 8, I graduated to scarves. Then in high school, I started making sweaters (one of which my husband still wears).

When I had my kids, I was all excited that I could sew and knit for them. But it's pretty hard to work and raise your kids while making their clothing on the side, so I had to settle for a few things here and there. As my daughter got older, I tried to teach her how to knit. She could do it, but it was slow and there really isn't any undo button in knitting, so she lost patience. She loved latch hook for a long time, but then when her 8th grade class was going to learn knitting, she tried again with renewed interest and turned out to be a natural.

Knitting has been an ongoing thread throughout my life. I like it because I can take it anywhere with me. My knitting goes with me on car or plan trips, to swim meets, in front of the TV, or pretty much anywhere I can take my knitting bag.

1. What’s one way you consistently use your knitting to change the world? My daughter and I have been knitting hats the last few years for disadvantaged children. Usually we get 20 or so done each year. I keep meaning to start earlier in the year, but never seem to get to it until September, hence only 20. This year I set myself a more ambitious goal . . . . 50.

2. Is there a quote, piece of advice, or nugget of truth you’ve carried with you on your knitting journey? There are really two principles I live by. They apply to knitting and everything else in life; 1) Don't wait from "someone" else to take action. If everyone's waiting, not much gets done; 2) Strive for balance. Like when the perfect pattern and yarn seem to call to you, make that sweater for yourself you deserve it, plus it keeps you motivated to do all those things for other people.

3.. What would be your knitting dream? I would love to get a group of people helping me knit hats. I want to be able to donate so many hats that it makes an amazing visual impression. Plus, it's always more rewarding when you do things together. I have my eye on some co-workers or possibly high school students (I think it would make a great senior project).

4. What are your favorite materials to work with? Yarn, all colors and weights! My favorites are variegated or textured yarns, but plain colors work to. That's the wonderful thing about knitting; you can create your own texture from something very simple just by changing your stitches or mixing colors.

5. Who are some of your knitting influences? My mom and my daughter are my biggest inspirations. My mother taught me how to knit. I watched her knit my entire life. She always did beautiful work, so she was my standard for knitting. But also because she came from a difficult background and still managed to be the sweet caring person who so generously knits for others. My mother knits hats for premies and scarves for elderly war veterans among her may charitable activities.

My daughter because she is so fearless. She taught herself how to cable over a weekend with my mother. She didn't pick a simple cable either; she picked what she thought looked pretty. She never once thought she couldn't do it. It was really my daughter who inspired me to knit for others. When her entire 8th grade learned to knit, she decided to make each of her friends a hat for Christmas. All together she knitted 11 hats between Thanksgiving and New Years (plus the scarf that was her school assignment). Seeing her knit all those hats in such a short time, got me to thinking.

6. What is the legacy you want to leave? When you think of a legacy, it sounds like it has to be something really big, but it doesn't. I have no illusions that my knitting will end homelessness or poverty, all those little things together, might just make a difference in one person's life.

As a girl, my mother remembers receiving food baskets and gifts from charities during the holidays. That generosity meant a lot to her and has motivated her to give of herself. I just hope that there is one person out there that I helped, who will find a way to a better life because I took time to make them a hat.

A friend once asked me what I would do if I saw someone wearing one of the hats we made. I would just smile to myself, knowing that I had accomplished more than just knitting a hat and hope that it's effect lasts far beyond it's useful life.

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If you are interested in sharing your story with the knitting community, shoot me an e-mail ( I’ll send you a copy of the questions along with a few instructions!

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Shout Out to Jordy of Omaha.Net who interviewed me last night for his amazing new online magazine! He even learned the knit stitch, adding his new-knitter awesomeness to Hat #56!

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Newsletter Readers: Check your inbox today for the winner of our newsletter contest! Want to get in on the newsletter action? Simply e-mail me ( with the subject "Newsletter, please!" and I'll get you added! I send out almost-weekly updates with fun thoughts, updates on the hats, and more!

Mar 23, 2010

Ballard (#55)

Knitting right along, and still enjoying the hints of spring that are cropping up all around me. From more bikes on the road to kids running around our neighborhood to the games of soccer that happen in the middle of our street, I'm convinced that spring is here!

With spring comes more outside pictures {and the realization that we might need to get outside and tend to our backyard!} in the wind and sunshine. Ballard, billed as a "slouch hat", features a clover lace pattern that was as easy to knit as the pattern says.

Knit exactly to pattern, however, my hat did not turn out at all slouchy - in fact, it barely fits on my head! At least I've got the ribbing stretched pretty far as well, so it should fit onto a child's head without too much problem. I wish it fit better, because Ballard is quite a wonderful looking hat. There are instructions for a "super slouchy" version, and I'm betting if I whipped that one up I'd end up with a gorgeous spring hat I wouldn't want to give up. C'est la vie!

 Specs: Ballard by SweetGeorgia Yarns (free download), knit with Cascade 220 wool in pink heather on size US 7/4.5mm and US 8/5.0mm needles.

Mar 22, 2010

Aesderina (#54)

After far too long without a hat post, I'm back in the swing of things (at least temporarily!) and have a few fun hats to share this week! Thanks to all the wonderful new yarn I received a few weeks ago, I'll be busting through some great patterns I've had saved in my Ravelry queue for far too long - this means there will be lots of hats in the same hue, but great new patterns to test out!

Have I mentioned to a nauseating degree just how much I love Jane Richmond's patterns? Every one I've used thus far has been wonderful, and Aesderina is no exception. Similar to Wurm in construction, the doubled-up brim on this beauty makes for super toasty ears! And now that it's warming up outside, I'm loving hte toasty ears while taking photos!  

Stats: Aesderina hat by Jane Richmond (Ravelry Link), knit with Cascade 220 heathers in pink on size US 7 / 4.5mm and US 9 / 5.5mm circulars.

Mar 17, 2010

New Yarn For Hats

I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things after a long weekend spent with family, celebrating the long life of my husband's grandmother (she'd just turned 93 when she passed). I'm finding it easy to pick up the hats, as I carry them with me everywhere, but figuring out when to take pictures has gotten me stumped. It will be a few days still before I can share some new hats I've been working on.

All is not lost, however. Last week I was lucky enough to receive a super sweet package, stuffed full of Cascade 220 from Meg!

Meg is a Ravelry friend, and when she talked about de-stashing some wool that, while she loved on principal, she never really wanted to knit with, I jumped. A Paypal transaction later, and eight skeins of heather pink wooly goodness were on their way to me!

I've already used one of the skeins to knit up hat #54 and am working my way through skein #2 for hat #55! I think I'll save a bit of it for future charity projects, but because my love for Cascade 220 wool rivals my love for Patons Classic, I'm not sure if I'll be able to hold out!

If you're on Ravelry and are my friend (I'm "adevinelife"), you may have noticed I've got like 15 hat patterns queued up and ready to go. I've decided to knit my way through all the hat patterns I've been purchasing as PDFs over the last few months - and believe me, there's a LOT of them!

Because I've got them all queued up and ready to go, now that I'm back in the swing of things I should start to coast through hat after hat, which means I'll be peppering this space with spring-time photos more often! I'm excited to take the hats down the street to the park, around the Old Market area of downtown, and even maybe to the dog park for photo shoots!

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** Special shout-out to Lorrie, who sent me a wonderful e-mail the other day. I'll be sharing more of her story later this week, but wanted to send a special HEY! to her.

** If you've been knitting for charity and want to share your story with the rest of the OHH community, simply shoot me an e-mail to let me know what you've been up to! I love hearing how we're all changing the world, one hand-knit at a time, and would love to let the rest of this amazing community in on all you've been doing!

Mar 11, 2010

Autumn (#53)

Wouldn't it figure? Just as soon as I get all excited that the weather is turning towards spring, just as soon as I excitedly proclaim I'll be taking all my photos outside from now on - it snows. That's right, we woke up today to a nice, wet blanket of snow. Suck. I do, however, still have one more hat to share this week - and thankfully I had snapped the photo inside, and before the snow!

 Autumn is a hat pattern from the prolific Jane Richmond. I'm in love with every one of her patterns, and you're sure to see more of them make their way to this challenge in the near future. Autumn works up fast and on thick yarn - a definite plus when trying to knit three hats a week!

The Lion Brand Thick n Quick was stash yarn I've had laying around for forever - no actual recollection of when the yarn was purchased in fact! I'm sure there's something to be read into that, but I'm choosing to look at it as kismet - I was meant to knit this hat for sure, as I already had the yarn I needed! And so comfortable I've already knit another one up - this time for me! - I can already assure you this will become a gift pattern in the future!  

Specs: Autumn hat, by Jane Richmond {Ravelry link}; knit using Lion Brand Thick n Quick in peacock blue, on size 11 and 13 bamboo circular needles.

Mar 10, 2010

Regular Guy Beanie (#52)

The weather has finally turned a bit warmer, and I'm hopeful that this will be one of the last "it's super cold outside, so I'm taking this photo INSIDE!" shots I'll have to share. The Regular Guy Beanie turned out to be just that - a regular hat that can be worn by anyone, so long as the color is right. Simple stockinette and only one size meant I had to do almost no thinking - perfect after writing two new hat patterns in as many weeks!

As I was knitting this hat, I kept thinking I should have cast on in a much less dreary color - the combination of dark grey wool and simple stockinette had me almost ready to cry by the time I was on the decreases! The hat pattern, however, is a gem - perfect for those who want a "no fuss, no muss" hat to get them through the winter, and even more perfect to use as a donation hat pattern!  

Specs: Regular Guy Beanie (free Ravelry download), by Chuck Wright; made using Patons Wool in dark grey on size 8 bamboo circular needles.

Mar 9, 2010

Vancouver Hat (#51) - and Pattern!

While watching the Winter Olympics in February, I noticed the hats the American commentators were wearing looked hand-knit. Modeled after those hats, this hat is knit with a large ribbed band, stockinette to the unisex decreases, and is turned inside out so the backside of the stockinette stitch is shown when worn.

I know I just offered up a free hat on Friday, but I had this one worked out already, and figured it was better to just put it out there than hold onto it for a later date. This way I get to show off hat #51 on time, and you get two free patterns in less than a week!

To make the Vancouver Hat, visit the pattern page here.

Mar 1, 2010

The Oma-hat (#50!!!)

Welcome to the 50th Hat Celebration! I can't believe I made it all the way to 50 hats, and in just under six months! To celebrate, I've got a week of some fun giveaways planned, but first I wanted to introduce everyone to hat #50 - The Oma-hat!

Here in Omaha, we like to refer to our city as "the Big O", and our city's symbol is a large red letter O, so I wanted to show off some city pride with this hat! I'll be sharing the free pattern this Friday, but couldn't resist the chance to not only introduce you to the hat, but also to show off all 50 of the hats I've knit so far - and even a sneak peek at one of the hats to come next week {being knit while my husband took this shot}!
Starting tomorrow I'll be giving away a few fun things to a few lucky readers. Thanks so much to the wonderful ladies who have donated patterns and goodies to the giveaways - I wouldn't be able to give all this stuff away without their generous donations!

Also, a special thanks and big love shout out to my husband {who stops by occasionally to make sure I'm keeping on track!} - I know that I wouldn't be able to do this without him. He thought it was a great idea from the word go, and doesn't mind {too much} that our house has been taken over by yarn, needles and hats!