Dec 18, 2013

Casie Hat




Using less than one hundred yards of bulky yarn, this beginner-friendly hat is perfect for last-minute gifts, stash-busting, and charity donations.

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD

YARN

1 skein Loops & Threads Cozy Wool (50% acrylic, 50% wool; 90y / 82m per 127g)

NEEDLES

US 11 / 8.0 mm 16” circular needle
US 15 / 10.0 mm 16” circular needle
US 15 / 10.00 mm double pointed needles

NOTIONS

Darning needle for weaving in ends
Stitch Marker

GAUGE

8 sts x 12 rows = 4" in stockinette

SIZES

baby (child, adult) = 15 (18, 22)” unstretched

DOWNLOAD NOW

Dec 11, 2013

Sandoval KAL For Arizona || Update 1


We're almost halfway through December, which means this knit-along for Arizona homeless and transient folks is about half over. Have you been knitting away with me? While I don't have as many hats off the needles as I'd like, I have been carrying a set of size 9's and some worsted weight yarn in my bag everywhere I go, and slowly but surely managed to knit through these two Sandoval Hats over the past few weeks.

There are still a few weeks left in this knit-along, and I'm hopeful that as shop orders slow down I'll be able to knock a few more off my needles before mailing them off to Kelli. Honestly, knitting the Sandoval Hat is one of my favorite ways to pass those moments when I used to find myself "doing nothing" -- riding in the car (when I'm not driving), waiting for a movie to start, even while we watch a favorite television show. The knit 2, purl 2 pattern becomes easily felt by your fingers as you knit along, meaning you don't need to look down at your knitting every five stitches to be sure you're following the pattern correctly.

The pattern has four sizes listed as well, which means even after this knit-along is done, you can make this hat for everyone you know! (And look for a photo tutorial coming in January showing the different sizes and just how versatile they truly are!) New to this knit-along? You can learn more here.

Dec 9, 2013

HAT | GIVE | REPEAT 2014

If you’re anything like me, your yarn stash has begun to get a bit out of control. Whether you’ve got rooms dedicated to your stash or one small bag, thanks to a love of all things yarn-related I’m sure most of us have more yarn on-hand than we can find places for!

If you’ve got a firm handle on your stash, with every bit of yarn accounted for and a pattern assigned to it, with all your scrap yarn stored properly for use in striping and color work, I envy you! I know at one point I thought I was almost there with stash organization … and then I had a baby boy, and then I got sidetracked by a million other projects, and now I’m looking around, pregnant again no less, and wondering what happened!

In an effort to get my yarn stash under control, I’m claiming 2014 as the year I will knit from my stash as exclusively as possible! Lucky for me, I am mostly a charity knitter so this should be much easier than it sounds. So long as I stay out of the yarn shops and craft stores (hah!) things will run smooth as can be!

To give myself a bit of organization, I’ve decided to make this year-long stash-knitting odyssey a year-long knit-along on the blog, called HAT | GIVE | REPEAT 2014!! Because life is about to get all sorts of hectic and crazy by adding a new baby to our family (just a few months to go!), I've had to fight the urge to do monthly challenges and different charities. In fact, many of you may notice this post has changed quite a bit from when it was first published - originally, I had a much grander and broader plan ready to be set in motion. However, a few gentle reminders from some very important folks in my life helped me realize that having such elaborate goals for 2014 might not be the best way to go.

By summer things may well have reached a "new normal" and I may be ready again for some more focused challenges, but between now and my birthday in June life is going to move at a very different pace than I'm used to. Having a toddler and a newborn will do that! So to keep me knitting hats for others while acknowledging the bulk of my time will be spent with two adorable little ones most days, I plan to focus on one charity, and use those patterns I know and love best!

HOW MANY HATS?

I wouldn't be me if I didn't set myself a goal, however! While I won't always know just how many minutes I can spend with knitting needles in my hands each day, I also know myself well enough by now to know I do love to set goals, check boxes off on lists, and watch myself inch closer to self-imposed deadlines and goals.

Because of this, I'm setting a goal to knit 250 hats for HAT | GIVE | REPEAT 2014!! I won't be writing a new post for every hat as I finish it, because after seven posts of the same pattern made from the same yarn, that will get old for all of us! Instead I'll share mid-month and at the end of the month, hopefully showing off a stack of hats each time!

 I will also be sharing photos of each hat as I finish it on Instagram (I'm @shemakeshats, and I'll be using the hashtag #HGR14 the entire year), sometimes wearing the hats, sometimes tossing them onto our wooden bench on the front porch. But each hat will be photographed separately for Instagram (and for posterity)!

WHAT ABOUT PATTERNS?

While I love to try out new hat patterns, and will most certainly do so throughout the year, for this big challenge I plan to focus on a few old favorites. This means I'll be working lots of Casie Hats, Sandoval Hats, and Waffle Hats off the needles in the next year. I can make hats from these patterns practically blindfolded, and despite my best efforts I don't find myself getting tired of them, even after making 20 or more in a row! Some months I may switch things up by choosing a different pattern to focus on, but these three patterns will make up the bulk of the hats I knit this coming year.

WHERE THE HATS WILL GO

For 2014, I will be focusing my hat donation efforts to Completely Kids.

Early in December I had the pleasure of taking them 200+ hats through the Nebraska Hats For Hope Initiative. The hats were both made by me and donated by amazing folks from around the country, and have already been distributed to some kids in my very own neighborhood!

After dropping those hats off, however, I learned the organization actually works with 2,000+ kids each year, ranging from pre-K through middle school.

THAT'S A LOT OF KIDS, PEOPLE.

And most of them live in and around my very own neighborhood.

Now, I'm not totally crazy. I know I can't make 2,000 hats in one year on my own, and thankfully I'm part of the Nebraska Hats For Hope Initiative, so I won't have to! However, I also know I have bin after bin of yarn that can quickly be made into hats for these kids; hats in all sizes and shapes and colors, hats for littler kiddos and about-to-be teenage kiddos.

INVITING YOU TO JOIN IN!

And because these sorts of things are always more fun in groups, you all will be invited to join in on the fun! With each HAT | GIVE | REPEAT 2014 post there will be a “linky exchange tool” thing at the bottom of the post for you to use - link up to your blog, your Ravelry page, your Flickr, or just about anywhere else you’re sharing your goals for that month, your hats in progress mid-month, and your finished tally at the end of each month!

While I'd love for you to join in with me and make hats for Completely Kids, I know many knitters already have their favorite charities to donate to -- so keep making hats for those folks if that's where your heart leads you!

This challenge is about getting hats on people's heads, wherever you may be and however that looks for you! For me, it means hats for kids in my area, using a few specific patterns. For you it may mean something completely different!

With all the changes and challenges a new little brings to any family, I’m excited to have this bit of structure in place for my knitting life for the year. I’m sure there will be months where less will get done (March with a newborn, as an example) but I’m also sure that by giving myself this challenge I will end up with far more charity hats off the needles to show for my year than I would otherwise! So who’s with me?

Comment below if you’re in, and let me know if you know of some good charities to feature throughout the year! Are there any of my hat patterns you can’t wait to work through?

Dec 6, 2013

Philly Care Caps

ABOUT THIS PROJECT
Philly Care Caps is a group of volunteers who create handmade hats for little ones at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). We welcome all types of crafters even though most of our hats are knitted and crocheted. Volunteers can come from all over the country – you do not need to be in Philadelphia to be a volunteer. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cares for more children with cancer than any other pediatric hospital in the country. This is why they’re always in need of soft, comfortable chemo caps for patients in the hospital and in the clinic. Patients range from newborn to mid-twenties, however, hats for toddlers and teenagers are in highest demand at the moment.
HELPFUL HINTS
Please consider the following when creating your care cap:
  • Use a soft material that feels good on sensitive skin (just use your judgment here). .
  • Care Caps should have a snug fit. Simple beanie patterns can be found on Ravelry for free. If you decide to go with a rolled brim hat, try substituting a 2×2 rib for elasticity.
  • Be creative! If you come up with a pattern that works for you, great! Tell us about it and we’ll consider posting it for others to try.
  • Think like a child. Toddlers and younger children will more often love bright colored hats than teenagers will.
MAILING ADDRESS
To send your hats to this group, please e-mail them at PhillyCareCaps@gmail.com -- this way they know to expect your hats when you're ready to send them!

Dec 5, 2013

An Interview With Stitch and Unwind!

I don't always pop my head in here on Thursdays, but am making an exception today to share some fun news! I was recently interviewed by Stitch And Unwind, an amazing online publication about knitting and crochet, and the interview went live today! Read all about She Makes Hats and my mission to cover the world in handmade hats in my lifetime in the article Tis The Season: Charity Knitting! And welcome to those of you stopping by here for the first time -- have a peek around!!

Nov 29, 2013

Bundles Of Joy

Bundles of Joy is a Ravelry group that was created to bring new handmade items to the OB Ward on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where approximately 420 babies are born every year. Poverty on the Reservation is extensive and extreme, and many of these new moms don't have anything at home for these new little babies.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Through a number of drives every year, this amazing and incredibly active group donates not just items to the OB Ward on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but collects items for the elderly folks in residence, kids of all ages, and just about everyone else in residence.
HELPFUL HINTS
The group Ravelry page has links to documents containing very detailed information depending on the drive you want to participate in. Here are just a few general suggestions: ** Steer clear of lighter colors, as they get dirty quicker. ** Use whatever fibers you like best. This means you can use acrylics, wool, blends and anything else! ** Please tag your items with fiber content. ** Owls are considered a symbol of death, so please do not send items with owls on them!!
OB WARD MAILING ADDRESS
Via UPS or FedEx:
Jessica Mesteth
Indian Health Service
Attn.: OB Ward East
Highway 18
Pine Ridge, SD 57770  

Via US Mail:
Jessica Mesteth
Indian Health Service
Attn.: OB Ward
P. O. Box 1201
Pine Ridge, SD 57770
ITEMS FOR ELDERS MAILING ADDRESS
Please note on the outside of the box that it is for ‘elders’ This will help the OT organization sort the donations quickly.  

Via UPS/FedEx:
Rose Fraser
Oyate Teca Project
Wakanyeja Okolakiciye Youth Center
1000 Youth Center Drive
Kyle, SD 57752  

Via U.S. Mail:
Rose Fraser
Oyate Teca Project
P.O. Box 316
Kyle, SD 57752

Nov 27, 2013

Jul Hat For Casie


 
pattern: Jul Hat, by Jenny Gordy
yarn: stash olive wool, same as for Casie's mitts  
needles: size US 7 / 4.5mm and size US 9 / 5.5mm
(my Ravelry page here)

I do love my Casie friend! She's an amazing photographer who shoots outside year-round. Because of this, she knows the value of a good wool sweater (as you can see her wearing above) and recently requested I make her some mitts and a hat to help keep her warm while she shoots in the colder months.

I whipped this Jul Hat off the needles as fast as I could, and she graciously wore it while she took photos of my family last week! It was just warm enough that she didn't need the mitts as well, but I have it on good authority she wears them almost every single day, indoors or out!

For Casie's Jul Hat, I modified the pattern a bit. Originally calling for a thinner weight yarn, I grabbed stash yarn knowing I'd have to adjust the cast on numbers. Thankfully the pattern repeat was easy to work with, and I was able to cast on an even 80 stitches without messing anything up.

Until I got to the decreases, when I realized they were over a different stitch number than I could easily divide. Because of this, the stitch pattern on the body of the hat doesn't continue its way up the decrease section of the hat, as I preferred to have the decreasing match the original hat pattern over keeping the stitch pattern but going with a more generic decrease.

I love the way the hat turned out, and not having the stitch patterning on the top part of the hat doesn't take anything away at all! Besides, I'm pretty sure Casie didn't even notice! As you can see in the phone photo I grabbed above (while she was getting shots of Owen dangling upside down in Zach's arms!) she was far too busy having fun with our family to think about stitch patterns!

While the Jul Hat pattern costs a few bucks, it's one I've made a few times already and know I will make again. Perfect for men or women in my opinion, this hat is perfect for last-minute holiday gifts (look for a more extensive list of these types of hats to come soon!) and for charity donations!

Nov 22, 2013

Knitting For Noggins Arkansas

This Arkansas-based charity collects hats for the Arkansas Children's Hospital each fall and winter season. They will be collecting hats through March of next year, and always need hats for larger kids! Learn a bit more about them below!
ABOUT THE PROJECT
From the website: Help make a difference in the lives of patients and families at Arkansas Children's Hospital! Knit or crochet hats for children of all ages through our Knitting for Noggins program. Knitting for Noggins is one of the many ways you can help make the lives our patients and families brighter. Since the beginning of our program, we have collected over 245,000 hats to keep our kids' heads warm.
HELPFUL HINTS
We will collect hats September 2013 through March 2014. If you mail or bring hats to the hospital, please provide us with an accurate number of hats you are donating by completing a donor form. This helps us keep our hat count accurate. Use your creativity, but bright and colorful hats are always great! And don't forget that we can use boy colors as well as girl colors. Our greatest need is for large hats for school-age kids, teens and adults. We ask that hats be approximately the size of an average cantaloupe or larger.
  • Infant size - at least 16" in circumference
  • Child size - at least 18" in circumference
  • Teenager size - at least 21" in circumference
Due to infection control, all needlework items must be made out of new materials (not recycled items). Handmade hats are preferred, and we ask that no logos be on the hats. We also ask that items be free of any odor or pet hair. For privacy reasons, please do not attach your name, your group's name, or personal information to individual needlework donations. For safety purposes for our kids, please make sure that there are no safety pins and/or straight pins in the needlework donations that you send to us.
MAILING ADDRESS
Arkansas Children's Hospital
Attn: Knitting for Noggins
1 Children's Way Slot 108
Little Rock, AR 72202.

** NOTE: Please fill out their DONOR FORM when sending any hats.

Nov 20, 2013

Tsunami Victims Knit For Others


You guys, if you ever needed proof that knitters are the best people in the world, this is it.

Victims of the tsunami that hit Japan over two years ago are still living in temporary housing in the northern fishing village of Shichigahama. To keep their spirits up and focus on something other than themselves, they formed a knitting group.

This knitting group is now sending handmade items to Syrian refugees.

These are women who don't have homes, who lost everything, and who are using yarn that was donated to them to make items for themselves and those in their village. Using that yarn to make items for others, who are experiencing their own tragedies. Mayumi Hoshi, pictured at left, is one of the knitting group members, and has been quoted as saying, "“It feels so good to be able to help other people, even if we’re in a tough situation ourselves." I mean. And now I want to grab my knitting needles, walk away from everything else I'm doing, and make even more hats than before. The need is great all over the world, and these women are such an inspiration! (link to full article)

Nov 18, 2013

Sandoval KAL For Arizona!


With just five weeks until Christmas, many of us are deep in holiday planning. Making lists that we're checking far more than twice, one item that can easily be forgotten is giving to those in need. This holiday season, to combat this forgetfulness, I'm challenging myself to bust through as much of my stash as I can, making hats I can mail off to my friend Kelli.

Kelli blogs over at AfricanKelli, and recently posted about the struggles her city's homeless folks face each winter. She lives in Arizona, and many transient folks make their way her direction, towards somewhat warmer temps for as many months as they can manage. While it's never easy to sleep outdoors, for folks with no other option a warmer outdoors is always better than colder. Along with challenging myself, I'd love it if you all joined me in making a few hats for folks who struggle to stay warm during the coldest months of the year.

The Pattern:

We'll be using my Sandoval hat pattern for this knit-along (KAL). It's an easy-to-remember hat that fits almost every head, works well with acrylic yarn, and is perfect for beginner knitters and seasoned knitters alike! Find directions free on the blog here. Download the PDF of the pattern free here.

Materials Needed:

For each hat, you will need right around 200 yards of yarn. Some folks have used more yarn to get their hat to the right length, and some use less, but 200 yards is a pretty safe bet. I can get two Sandoval hats out of a skein of Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn, which costs just under $4 for a skein - $2.00 a hat isn't so bad!

If you don't want to go buy new yarn for this project (and who can blame you - I plan to use stash yarn myself!) know that this pattern is incredibly forgiving! I've used worsted weight from my stash that might never have come with a label, I've made this hat with stripes of different yarns, and I've made this hat with a wide variety of "worsted weight" skeins. Every time the hat will fit my head perfectly, stretch to fit my husband's head perfectly, and works out ... perfectly! ... on our friends' heads with the biggest noggin's we know!

Timeframe:

We will be knitting these hats from today (November 18th) through December 31st of this year. That gives everyone a full six weeks to make as many hats as they can! Whether you end up with one hat off the needles or a dozen, remember your hat will be put to good use this winter, and is much-needed!

Mailing Address:

Please send all finished hats to:
ADHS c/o Kelli Donley
150 N. 18th Ave. Suite 200
Phoenix, AZ 85007

A few things to keep in mind:

** Most of the folks who will be receiving these hats are men, so stick to neutral and darker colors.

** People will have spotty access to laundering facilities, but when they do, they'll want to be able to just toss everything in without worry ... so stick to acrylic, not wool!

** While Arizona has warmer winters than Nebraska, folks in warmer climates still wear winter jackets and hats in their winter. Just because northerners like myself would be running around in a sweater and jeans no problem, folks used to hotter temps get cold faster, and so will need warm hats!

Nov 15, 2013

quick and lovely mitts


It's that time of year for sure - holiday knitting lists are growing by the hour for me, and while I'm happy to be busy with shop orders, I also want to gift people with wooly warmth if they want it!

In the case of my friend Casie, a pair of wool fingerless mitts (with a hat to match, coming soon!) for her to use while shooting outdoors now that the weather is cold. No fun for the fingers, but full gloves won't work for a photographer's gentle touch.

Enter the Peekaboo Mitts pattern! I've made these mitts in the past, and have always loved the results. The pattern works up faster than fast -- I made these last evening between putting Owen to bed at 8:30 and my going to bed at 11:00 -- and calls for worsted weight yarn without making mitts that are bulky. Perfection! I had enough of this olive wool in my stash that I knew I'd be able to make a non-matching set of mitts and a hat for Casie, so I cast on for the mitts first, as we did breakfast this morning.

While her hat won't show up for a few more days, I knew with a full session schedule this weekend she NEEDED to keep her hands warm! Rumor has it (via text) she hasn't taken these off since she got them this morning. That's a job well done in my book!

I've got several other friends and family members who will be receiving mitts like these in the coming weeks; I might just have to take a big "group shot" of all the mitts together before they start getting sent out! It's addictive, this pattern, that's for sure, and perfect for charity knitting as well, for those looking for a fun and easy pattern to use for charity mitts! (note: I know the yarn is wool, but none of the tiny balls I had in my stash had a label on them, so I have no idea what brand. I used approximately 80 yards for these, and the pattern says you'll use about 3oz of worsted weight wool.)

Nov 8, 2013

The Preemie Project


There is no excitement quite like that of waiting for your baby to be born when you are pregnant. All the little onesies that start piling up, the unbelievable small-ness of the little newborn diapers -- I have never felt so excited, exhausted and unprepared all at the same time as I did when I was pregnant for the first time.

I was also scared every single day until I hit 31 weeks. At 31 weeks pregnant, I knew my baby would have been inside me longer than my brother Dan was inside my mom, twenty-some years ago.
Dan was born 10 weeks early in a time when there wasn't much that could be done for babies whose lungs hadn't developed. When my mom went into premature labor, they "kept the baby inside her" as long as possible in the hopes that his lungs would develop before he delivered. Six days in the hospital hoping he would stay in, and then he was born; breech, his heels tucked behind his ears, and so tiny my dad could put Dan's head at the tips of his fingers and his knees at the base of his palm.

I was barely twelve, too young to go into the NICU itself to see my little brother, and so I spent two months sitting outside the large windows, watching him grow, reading books when things were slow, and panicking when alarms would go off and I couldn't see which bed they were coming from.
After two months, Dan was able to come home fully healthy even if he was still super tiny. All he had to do was grow, and grow he did, into a toddler I would tickle until he turned pink from giggling, into a teenager who broke his collarbone snowboarding one winter, and into an amazing young man I'm proud to be related to.

While he was in the hospital, he was clothed in a wide variety of garments, all perfectly fitted around the tubes and wires adorning him at all times. Of most interest to me were the hats - always handmade, always anonymously donated, and always ridiculously cute. I had no clue where those hats came from, and after Dan came home healthy and grew stronger each day, I put those hats into the back corners of my mind.

Until I became a knitter. One day it hit my like a tidal wave, the memory of those hats and all they represented, the hands of anonymous knitters like myself making hats for babies they didn't know, sized so tiny they would fit on mandarin oranges or kiwis.

Organizations like The Preemie Project function to help get handmade hats onto the heads of some of the littlest residents of the hospital. Based out of Iowa City, they donate hats across Iowa to the youngest members of the state, bringing much-needed warmth to the babies while bringing unmeasured amounts of hope to the parents.

31 weeks was a long time to wait to feel like my little Owen was safe inside my belly. Babies nowadays are born so much earlier than that, with much higher survival rates than 20-some years ago. But these babies still need hats, and The Preemie Project steps in to help out!

Check out their amazing work on their Facebook page, and get connected so you can send them some hats!

Nov 5, 2013

Methodist Women's Hospital NICU

The Methodist Women's Hospital here in Omaha is in desperate need for the coming winter season!

According to an article on WOWT, their shelves are running bare of donations, and the whole month of November they are having a baby shower of sorts!

From the article: "Most needed are onesies, baby board books, receiving blankets, preemie and newborn clothing, and changing pad covers."

While I'm hopeful folks will pitch in and donate as much as they can, it's in the "newborn clothes" note that my eyes perked up - that means baby hats! If you're local to Omaha, won't you help me by making some preemie and newborn sized hats and taking them over to 192nd and Dodge directly for donation? And if you're not local but still want to help, go ahead and send them to my PO Box (see sidebar) and I'll be sure they make it there!

While I normally donate to the two hospitals closer to me in town, I also had never thought to donate here because it's in a more affluent part of town and thus made the assumption they would have plenty of donations - consider me wrong, and about to change my ways! I'll be adding them to my donations list from now on!

Oct 31, 2013

it's a halloween miracle!


What a fun Halloween we are already having! Owen and I stopped by his school this morning for their trick or treating and party (he normally doesn't go on Thursdays), and like some sort of Halloween miracle he wanted to wear his costume! For the past few weeks we've been trying to help him understand Halloween and costumes and such - he's not always the best at transitions like this, so the long approach seemed best.

He wouldn't have any of it. Panicked cries when we'd get the costume above his knees every single time, and so this morning I put him in a pumpkin shirt and figured if he didn't want to wear his costume, no big deal.

One look at all the other kids in their costumes, though? He was ready for action! We got that thing on in record time (minus the Buddy The Dinosaur head, which was far too big) and he roared his way around the school, trick or treating to all the classrooms!

Now I've got a few hours to figure out how to get a non-blurry picture or two of him tonight - I swear he never stops moving, so I'm learning to love the imperfection of the blurry shot. Better than nothing at all, that's for sure! Happy Halloween!

Oct 23, 2013

the hats of brooklyn tweed

1. Altair // 2. Bray Cap // 3. Brig // 4. Fjord 
5. Habitat // 6. Irving // 7. Norby // 8. Ravensfoot 
9. Rosebud // 10. Seasons Hat // 11. St. Leger // 12. Turn a Square 
(all links to BrooklynTweed.net)

Brooklyn Tweed began in 2005 as a knitting blog for Jared Flood. By 2007, the blog featured Jared's designs, and today has become a treasure-trove of patterns featuring clean designs nodding to nature and city life.

I've found a few of the design house's hat grace my needles in the past few months and years, and if I'm honest I had a hard time picking just a few to share here with you - so I picked a dozen!

Most of the Brooklyn Tweed patterns cost between $5 and $6 - not a small sum to pay for a hat pattern, but every time I've bought one I've been over the moon with happiness and have used those patterns enough times to make them well worth the money!

Oct 22, 2013

knitXmidwest is next weekend!

I'm super excited to be heading a bit east next weekend (November 1-3) for knitXmidwest, being held in Des Moines, IA! This first annual knitting retreat looks like it's going to be full of all the things I love most about gathering together with other knitters - comfy pants, lots of time for getting to know one another, stash diving, and of course plenty of knitting time! Oh, and I'll be sharing a bit of my charity knitting story, as well as the whole "I'm writing a book!" thing that Saturday afternoon!

There's still space available, so if you're anywhere close to the Des Moines area you should get registered for just one day or for the whole weekend! Need a few more reasons to attend? How about these --
  • Devastatingly good lunch catered by Tacopocalypse.
  • Lots of uninterrupted time to knit + crochet, perfect for finishing up that big project you've been wanting to work on.
  • Relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. Wear your hand-knits and your sweatpants. We don't care.
  • We'll be knitting and crocheting in the beautiful Walnut Woods Lodge. Have you seen the leaves changing colors this week? It's gonna be gorgeous out there.
  • T-shirts!
  • Photobooth. There will be a photobooth, people! (Or ... Jess and Jen with cameras and a backdrop, but same difference.)
  • Fun times with friends.
  • Knitting and crochet show and tell. Show off the coolest things you've ever made! Bring your stuff. We want to see it.
  • Knit + crochet doctor. In case you need help with something.
  • Stashbust. Calling all hoarders: bring yarn that you want to trade/get ride of. Anything left over will be donated!
  • Yoga. Which will be easy (and optional.)
  • Mimosas! And cupcakes.
  • After-hours shopping and wine + dessert at Hill Vintage & Knits in the East Village.
  • Fantastically cool door prizes.
I won't be partaking of the mimosas, but I will have more than my share of cupcakes, and plan to rock my maternity leggings the entire weekend! Oh, and probably spend far too much money during the after-hours shopping (and dessert!!!) at Hill Vintage & Knits!

For those of you who will be there, I've never been a speaker like this before, so .... be kind? Don't throw knitting needles? I'm super excited to dip my toes into this whole "talking about charity knitting as a calling" thing, and hope to do it more often, and know that this will be the PERFECT place to dig deep into it! Hooray for knitting retreats! Hooray for Des Moines! Hooray for knitXmidwest!

Oct 15, 2013

shop talk :: binder love


I'm not sure if it's the season or the pregnancy, but the urge to organize, pare down, streamline and even color code everything has been almost overwhelming in greatness these last few days. I've been organizing school papers into binders, setting up notebooks for everything from personal lists to work lists to blog lists and more, and I've been on a tear when it comes to the shop.

In the last few months I’ve slowly and quietly re-opened the She Makes Hats Shop, first selling just newborn hats and in the past few days slowly expanding my inventory to include hats for babies and children as well as adults. The shop operates on a one-for-one model – for every hat someone purchases, a hat is made and donated to a local hospital for a newborn in need. I love that I can earn a bit of side income for our family through the sale of something I love to make anyhow, but that I can also give hats to little ones in need at the same time.

I hadn’t thought too seriously about growing the shop or using it as a viable second income source, but as sales have made their way into my inbox and hats have made their way off the needles, I’ve been thinking it might be time to take this thing a bit more serious.

First on my list was getting my shop orders and donations lists organized. I love the office supply section of Target, which means I tend to just sort of pick up office supplies whenever I see something I love. This means we have far more binders and post-its and colored pens than one person could ever need, but it also means that I was able to get my entire Shop Organization Binder (tm) put together using supplies I had on-hand! So far, what's working is as follows:


>> In the front inside pocket I keep orders I've finished but haven't shipped yet. This fills up on the weekends, because during the week I try to print shipping labels and pack up orders as soon as they're off the needles!

>> Tab 1 is for "personal stuff". There's a few months of calendar pages there to help me remember life stuff and some paper for list-making.  

>> Tab 2 is for orders. As someone places an order, I print up two copies -- the first goes behind this tab, with the oldest orders at the front (so a new order will be placed at the back of the pile). When it's time to knit, I simply open up to the first order and get busy! When an order is done, I take it out of the binder and either print a label right away (during the week) or place it in the front pocket (weekends).  

>> Tab 3 is for donations. The second copy of each order goes here. As I make newborn hats to donate, I grab the right number of orders (one hat for one hat, not one hat for one order!) so I can thank each person individually! I post photos of the charity hats both here on the blog and on the shop Facebook page, and note the first name/last initial of each person who helped make one of these donation hats happen!

>> Tab 4 is sometimes full, sometimes empty. This is where I put special orders and projects. Look for Tuesday "ready to ship" sale invoices here, as well as notes on things I'm making for photographers (or shops!) in bulk.  

>> Tab 5 is currently not in use. I'm keeping it in the binder as a nice back page, although at this point I'm not sure I'll ever really use it! I've been using this system for just around 3 weeks now, and so far I'm in love with it! I can toss the binder in my purse (because my purse is ridiculously huge) and always know just what's going on. All my most important shop information is stored right there in one place, ready for me to make ALL THE ORDERS!

Oct 9, 2013

owen lately

Let it be said that I will take two any day of the week. Two is the greatest age!

Lately you ...

... say "oh me, oh my!" when you get excited about something. Specifically when you get to eat a Popsicle before noon.

 ... love popsicles, with a passion I did not think you would ever have for food.

... stroll into school like you own the place. The transition to the two-year-old room was harder than we thought it would be on you, but now that you've got it all figured out, you love to walk in, say hello to your old toddler teachers, and then run into your classroom for either breakfast or playing (you get to choose now!). It's so fun to watch you go from being carried in and handed to your teachers to walking in, saying hey to your buddies, and going about your business with a fast "bye dada" (or mama) and a wave.

... have finally decided to give cinnamon toast a try, much to mama's delight. And you love it!

... know all your letters! Mama and Dada take very little credit for this - a combination of school three days a week and Super Why have done the bulk of the work on this one for us, but to hear you shout out letters wherever you go is just amazing! You have a hard time saying K but other than that you know every single letter, both in and out of order.

... eat Boo Berry cereal almost every morning, marshmallows first, then the rest of the bowl.

... have grown over an inch just since your two-year check-up. We had to buy you all new size 2T clothes, and are pretty sure you will grow out of the jeans (in length, never in the waist!) before winter is done.

... read mama stories at bedtime instead of the other way around. We used to cuddle in the rocking chair and mama or dada would read you three (or four) stories each night before bed. Suddenly you've decided to take on that part of the routine for yourself. Now mama (or dada) sits at the edge of the bed while you read three (or four) stories to us. The scary part is, you get about half the words to the story right already!

Oct 2, 2013

October Knitting for the Maine Cancer Center

While I may find myself super busy with shop knitting this time of year, I don't want to forget my charitable roots. I fell in love with hat knitting thanks to giving hats to charity, and no matter how many hats I drop in the mail thanks to a flourishing shop I always want to make sure I have a hat to give away on my needles.

This month is breast cancer awareness month, and all over the place pink ribbons and shirts and shoes and more will start popping up. Heck, even the NFL gets in the game, with players wearing pink gloves, shoes, and carrying pink towels. It's amazing to watch, and I love how people rally around such a great cause.

This October, I will be knitting as many hats as I can, and sending them off to the Maine Cancer Center. They are in desperate need of warm hats to gift to the folks who use their treatment services, and there's a group of us on Ravelry who are banding together to help them out. Our hats are all being made in honor of a woman who recently lost both her husband AND mother-in-law to cancer, both of whom received treatment at this center.

As an added bonus, Elizabeth Ravenwood is offering her Braided Gems Hat and Wristers (ravelry link) set for sale at 1/2 off until October 12th, and his hosting a KAL in her Ravelry group - for every hat that's sent to the Maine Cancer Center this month, you will be gifted a free pattern from her pattern list OF YOUR CHOICE! She's got some amazing patterns (I'm partial to her Capiz Window Baby Blanket right now) which makes this project even more worth it than before.

We are all sending our hats along to a fellow Raveler, so if you'd like to join in, just send me an e-mail to shemakeshats@gmail.com for the address - or you can send them to my PO Box (in the sidebar) with a note that they're for the Maine Cancer Center, and I'll be sure they get to where they need to go!

Won't you join me in making hats and sending them off to the Maine Cancer Center?

Sep 25, 2013

mitts for Colin


(collage stolen from Colin's Instagram feed, because that's how I roll)

pattern: Cigar Mitts
yarn: Patons Classic Wool, just under one skein
needles: size US 5 / 3.75 mm dpns

While it's been said I'm a bit of a hat fanatic, I also seem to find time to make other things on occasion. One such occasion is a friend heading to Iceland, England and a few other spots this winter. And when said friend is a crazy-pants style* minimalist (with everything he owns fitting into just a bag!), but still somehow manages to rock the hats I've made for him on repeat, the itch to craft becomes even more extreme.

When crafting for friends and family, especially when they own so few things, checking to be sure they'd actually like something is a plus. In this case, Colin (of Exile Lifestyle and Asymmetrical Press) said he'd love a pair of fingerless gloves to keep his precious money-makers warm this winter.
Done. And done.

Lucky for him I've got a go-to fingerless mitts pattern under my belt. Cigar is meant to have half full fingers and half fingerless ones, but I've made half a dozen pairs or so now with all fingerless digits, and every time I hand them to someone they love them.

Zach has three pairs - just saying.

Colin's heading overseas before the weather actually gets too cold, but it made sense to get these to him before he left the country, mostly so I wouldn't have to pay as much in postage. He got them the other day, and thankfully they fit like ... well, like a glove.

Consider these your Christmas gift, Colin - unless you decide you need another hat, in which case I will happily oblige. And don't let Josh and Ryan try to take them from you while you're sleeping ...

* let it be known I mean "crazy-pants style" in love. Always in love. Even if his total number of belongings is less than the number of things in my knitting bag.

Sep 23, 2013

It's A ...



We are so excited and overwhelmed to know (so early on!) that we are having a girl! Owen will have a little sister, and Zach is over the moon that he gets to have a little "daddy's girl" to love and dote on.

I can't believe we have to start from scratch with newborn clothes, but may have already gotten started .... a bit. Or a lot. Whatever. Now we just have to wait (and wait!) for our little one to show her face at the end of February!

Sep 9, 2013

halloween hats for the whole family!

Now that September is officially here I can finally start talking Halloween without sounding a bit like a crazy person. Which means by the end of the month I can share holiday thoughts without seeming too odd, right? ... RIGHT?!

Despite my love of holidays of all kinds, I'm not much for dressing up on October 31st. Which doesn't usually work in my favor as my husband used to be the king of Halloween. For reals, he ruled that holiday with an iron, and always well-costumed, fist.

Now that Owen is in full toddler mode and excited to pick out his own costume, and the looming thought of another little to dress up and go door-to-door with next year as well creeps into my brain, I might have to suck it up and get festive with at least my headwear.

Thankfully, Ravelry has almost 300 hat patterns tagged with the word "Halloween" - here's a few of my favorites for folks of all ages! (note: all links are to the pattern Ravelry pages)

Kittyville, by Kitty Schmidt
Kurbis, by natalja
Lael Viking Helmet, by Tara Murray
Zsa Mask, by Nele Peeters
Brain Hat, by Alana Noritake
Ood Ski Mask, by Lilana Wofsey Dohnert
Dr. Zoidberg, by Kate Quinn
Lassie Wig Hat, by Charlotte W.
Princess Leia Hat, by Amanda Kaffka
Mummy Hat, by Tara Murray

Sep 3, 2013

have you heard the one about each pregnancy being different?


Yeah ... that's me, just over the 12 week mark, clearly ready to party like I am having ten babies instead of just one. You know what they say about your body just going, "Hey, a baby is in here! I should make room ..."? Well, my body totally did that. Like, right away. As in, I've been rocking maternity jeans for like a month already (and loving every minute of it). Also, my butt has already gotten bigger. What the???

I should have known this pregnancy would be different. Every person is different, so why would carrying a person be the exact same as the last time? Instead, I thought, "I've done this before, I know what to expect" ... hah! Famous last words.

I have spent most of my summer in one of two places - head stuck in the toilet or entire body in the fetal on the bed, pretending I can get some sleep. The first trimester has been difficult, to put it mildly. With Owen I felt a bit sick most of the first 12 weeks, but a few Cheese-Its in my tummy and I was good to go. This time around I have thrown up my first sips of water in the morning, entire meals, and everything in between. It has not been fun. I think I'm starting to come out of the worst of it. I still find myself feeling sick on and off all day, but the bulk of the exhaustion has worn off, so I guess that's good?

Now that fall is just around the corner (please? maybe? hope upon hope?) we are starting to move everything around in our house, dismantle the office to make room for a nursery, and in a few months we'll get down to the dirty work of bringing all Owen's clothes out from storage to decide what will work this time around and what won't. So much to do, so little energy to do it in.

For those who will ask, we did fertility treatments this time just like we did with Owen. That journey was also incredibly different than the first time around (sensing a pattern here?), but ultimately I wouldn't trade it for anything. And for those in Omaha, Dr. Meghan Oakes -- she is a goddess and a genius and the best fertility doc a gal could ask for. Tell her we sent you.

I'm excited to share this journey here on the blog, just as I did when I was pregnant with Owen. Coming soon, a few things that I've been leaning on this time around, my big "what to knit for this kid" list (he/she will be born in late February, so the knitting list is even longer than the first time around!) and some thoughts as I move into my second trimester.

While I'll keep focused on knitting hats and giving them away this fall and winter, with something this big happening in our family there's no way I can't share at least a little bit!

What sorts of pregnancy/baby related things would you love to read about? I want to make sure you get as much dish as you need!

Aug 30, 2013

sandoval fundraiser

I spend a larger-than-average amount of time talking about knitting, specifically talking about knitting hats. Because of this, there is much that goes unsaid, some of it unintentionally, and some of it very much so.

For example, I don't spend much time talking about how messy our house usually is, and I don't share anything about my work life.

I also don't talk much about faith.

There are many bloggers today who talk faith, specifically Christian faith, in excellent ways. They move people's souls as they share their relationship with Christ freely for all who read, unapologetic in their love of their god and their churches and their Jesus. I have stayed clear of this talk for several reasons - first and foremost, it's hard to share your unapologetic love for Christ when you don't go to church yet live in a world where church attendance counts for more than people would care to admit when it comes to love of Christ.

Mostly though, I don't share my faith because I still struggle with it. I shove against grace with all my might every single day of my life, unsure of just how to live in a world where there is a god who loves everyone so much that he freely sacrificed his child for us.

EVERYONE.

for god so loved THE WORLD.

This kind of love stops me, breaks me, as I try to figure out just how it can be possible. This kind of grace frees me as I know just how not perfect I am.

I struggle because that kind of love and grace seems big enough to push back against the horror that is our world today. The death and destruction and poverty and the overwhelming lack of grace we humans have for one another. How do I, one person, exhibit that grace in a world that seems so hell-bent on blocking it out?

I knit hats because I see the children in my neighborhood walk to school in January without winter coats, and I don't have the money to buy one for each of them. I knit hats because I look in the eyes of the homeless guy sitting on the corner smelling of alcohol and urine and know that someone somewhere loved him, even if it was long ago, and my heart breaks that he is sitting there while I walk by.

I knit hats because I honestly don't know what else to do.


This is my friend Steve. The last time I saw him in person he looked nothing like this strong and fully grown man you see here - he was a 15 year old high school student about to embark on a summer-long mission trip that would change the course of his life. He was tinier than me, heart full of hope and laughter and soccer, and I had known from the moment I laid eyes on him he was special.

I knew Steve when I worked at a large church, in their extra large high school ministry. I knew Steve because he went to the same high school as many of the girls I spent large amounts of time with, praying, laughing, and loving fiercely. And I knew Steve because there is no doubt in my mind he was brought into my life to show me what grace truly is.

Steve is now a grown-up living in Copenhagen with his wife and their two small children, having been called their by our god of grace to live and work. Just typing this blows my mind.

On August 24th Steve was rushed to the hospital following an attack due to a pre-existing medical condition. After evaluations and then surgery, Steve is now looking at a months-long stay in the hospital as he tries to regain movement in his left leg and both arms/hands.

Months away from his amazing wife Dawn and their two little ones Hope and Esben. Months of not knowing, months of pain as his nerves register every touch from every single person as attack and fire.

Half a world away, I spend my time on my knees in tears, because how does this happen? In a world where so much is wrong, how does this little family that is so RIGHT experience this pain? And how am I so far away I can't grab the kids for a few hours so Dawn has some time, can't bring a meal over, can't stop by with coffee and a hug? And so it seems that all I can do is knit.
I have re-listed adult-sized hats in the She Makes Hats shop, for sale from now through the end of the year for $35 each. I will continue to list adult-sized hats between now and then, each of them available for $35.  

For each hat sold, at least $20 will be sent to the Sandoval family, for bills, food, whatever they may need.

I say at least $20, because I know that is the minimum I can send. I will update this amount after I figure out realistically how much I will spend in yarn and fees. I am not trying to make money here, I am trying to do what I can in this moment for some folks I love dearly. T

hese hats are well-made, make excellent holiday gifts, and are all washer/dryer safe, something I know we all love and appreciate! I'd love it if you'd consider purchasing one and helping this family out.

** EDITED TO ADD **

I've been asked to share a way to help the family out financially without having to buy a hat, for those who make hats themselves or already have their winter hat situation handled. You can send the Sandoval family money directly to their Paypal address (which is how I will be sending money as well), which is estebanquinn@gmail.com

Aug 29, 2013

everyone else is doing it, too

Thanks so much for all the well wishes on our big announcement from Tuesday! We're over the moon excited to be having another little one this coming winter. I've got so much to share about it all, and will jump in and start doing that early next week.

Before I share our big story, however, I wanted to point out just how many people are having babies right now. In the last few months no less than seventy billion people have announced a pregnancy, and with a list of friends already having babies this summer and fall ... well, let's just say that my "baby hats to knit" list has been growing ever larger!

Don't believe me? Here's my "off the top of my head" list of folks I know who are having a baby between right now and when I'm due:

August - Brook H., twin boys
September - Wendy B., refuses to find out the sex (to torment me!)
October - Shauna N., boy  Tina F., unknown
December - Melissa B.W., girl
January - Bridgit M., unknown yet Shawn B., unknown yet
February - Nikki D., unknown yet

Nine. That's nine babies, and I'm almost positive I'm missing a few! Add to that the two boys and a girl born between last March and now that I'd like to make holiday hats for, and the friends we have who already have kids who have grown by leaps and bounds and are in need of new hats, and my head starts to spin!

I'm pretty sure this means I'll be sharing bunches of baby hats in the coming months, though, and that's never a bad thing!
What are your favorite baby hat patterns? I'll round up some of mine in the coming weeks, but would love to know if I've missed any treasures!

Jul 29, 2013

100 Hats for 100 Kids

I ran across a new group forming on Ravelry this morning, and wanted to share! 100 Hats For 100 Kids is in support of foster children served by Caring Family Network a non profit organization contracted by the State of TX to serve the daily needs of Foster Children and the families with which they live. Many of these kids have never had a special only for you gift like a hand knit or crochet winter cap. The specifications are as follows:
  • There is no standard pattern and we want unique items.
  • Average winter temps are above freezing, but it is very windy from November to February.
  • Please use acrylic or washable yarn… in a Foster home laundry is a group chore and making it easy is important.
  • Please use neutral colors that can be both boy and girl hats.
  • Biggest ask is for 50 school child hats (elementary school child first to fifth grade)
  • For Teens fashion forward colors are great
We are out to give 800 hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves to foster children this year!! The PO Box for sending Donations is as follows:

100 Hats for 100 Kids
PO Box 140287
Austin, TX 78714 USA

I love that this homegrown organization is looking to bring something handmade to the foster kids in Texas! I have a brother who lived in Texas for many years, and he'd always tell me that for Texans, the winters there feel as cold as our winters feel to us up here in Nebraska. They wear huge winter coats and bundle up just like we do, even if to us "northerners" the temperatures would seem mild.


And remember, school-aged kids have larger heads than you'd think -- if you plan to make hats to donate to this cause, make them at least 19" circumference (or 9.5" across when laid flat).

Jul 27, 2013

Norby




pattern: Norby, by Gudrun Johnston  
yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Solids (122 yards, 75% of the skein)  
needles: US 9 / 5.5 mm 16" circulars and dpns

This is not my first time knitting Norby, nor will it be my last. I love how easily adaptable this pattern is to different fibers and yarn weights -- the pattern is written for DK weight wool, and I've consistently knit it up using worsted weight acrylic with fabulous results!

This Norby hat is a well-belated gift for a co-worker, who asked me to make her one far too many months ago. It kept getting pushed back on the queue, and finally I just stopped everything else I was doing so I could make it, and write down my mods in the process.

Because I used a thicker weight yarn, I had to make several modifications. I cast on just 77 stitches, increasing every 7th stitch rather than every 11th. I also only knit two full repeats of the pattern before beginning the decreases, which still gave a nicely slouchy hat.

When this pattern is knit up with the correct weight yarn it has several more ribbed chevron sections before the decreases, but I like that having so few doesn't upset the pattern or the look of the hat in any way.

The best part of this pattern is the speed with which it can be knit. I both started and finished this Norby in the same day, from casting on to weaving in ends. A hat this quick is perfect for charity knitting, and the pattern is easy to remember once you get going!

My only complaint about this pattern would be the price -- at $6.50 it seems a hefty sum to pay for a simple hat pattern. Now that I've worked with it a few times I know I'll use it again and again, and have no problem recommending it to you, but be aware of the price before you click over to buy.

Jul 23, 2013

Jul


pattern: Jul Hat, by Jenny Gordy  
yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice (almost a full skein)  
needles: size US 10 / 6.0 mm

I made one huge modification while knitting with Jenny's Jul pattern -- I knit it with heavy worsted weight yarn. The pattern itself calls for a very light DK weight yarn and sizes 4 and 6 needles, but I wanted to work with what I had on-hand, so sizing it up was done.

When you use a thicker weight yarn than the pattern calls for, you have to make several calculations. First, your cast on number must go down, sometimes drastically.

When you decrease your cast on number, you need to keep a few things in mind:

1. Am I able to keep the ribbing on the hat brim the same?

2. Will the stitch pattern be disrupted?

3. Will I need to alter the decrease sections any?

In the case of Jul, the stitch pattern and decreases were based off the same number as the ribbing, so as long as I decreased by an even 4 stitches I was in good shape. This is not always the case, and I've been burned halfway through a hat before when using different yarn -- if you're going to do this, be sure to read the entire pattern and check your numbers before you start!

 I love the way the Jul hat turned out -- I'm sure it's gorgeous with the right weight yarn, but this thicker weight makes for a nice unisex hat that's super warm when the weather turns colder!

Jul 8, 2013

let's build a maternity clinic together!


This month I have the distinct pleasure of helping build a maternity clinic in Asiri, Ghana. Asiri is a small rural village addressing the critical issues of maternal & infant health and obstetrics in the village.

While traditional midwife practices have been used as long as the village has existed, there are many aspects of it that are potentially exceedingly damaging and life-threatening to both mother and child. Babies are often pulled out too roughly, causing life-long damage to the child’s body, and aren’t given to the mother to nurse upon delivery. Gloveless fingers inserted into the mother continuously during labor, between the midwife cooking food, caring for children and going about her daily life, readily create infection.

Among countless other concerns, there is no testing for diseases, HIV/AIDS, or anything else, as there is for births in proper clinics. (from the Indigogo site)
Imagine being a woman or girl in a dusty rural village, walking into an unlit room without access to electricity or running water. You remove all of your clothing and lie down on the cement floor as labor pains wrack your body. You prepare yourself for the most painful event of your life, one that very well might kill you.
There are no drugs to dull your pain, no gloves to protect you from germs, no instruments to monitor your baby's progress, and not a single doctor or nurse nearby. Labor will continue for hours on end, perhaps even days. This is the most natural human phenomenon in the world, yet it's absolutely terrifying. You have lost control of your body. You know of many women and infants in the village who have not survived this.
Once your baby is born she is placed on the ground off to the side while the midwife focuses on you - the one with the better chance of survival. Once you are cleaned up and sleeping she turns her attention to the baby. Hopefully the baby doesn't aspirate amniotic fluid or meconium since there is no bulb syringe to clean out her nose and throat. Hopefully she doesn't need medical attention because none is near. Hopefully she will live..
This story seems so foreign to me -- when I had Owen it was in a well-stocked and amazingly staffed hospital, surrounded by the best my city (and my health insurance) could offer. Had I given birth to Owen in rural Africa, where this story originates, my chances of survival would have been slim due to Owen being breech and my needing a C-section.

I became acquainted with Jasmine, the Peace Corps worker raising the funds for the new maternity clinic, when she contacted me, requesting my help. Excited at her ideas, I immediately jumped on board! Jasmine has started an Indiegogo campaign, which will run for just 26 more days! She is looking to raise just over $14,000 to finish building the much-needed maternity and birthing clinic that will be used to not only build the clinic, but help stock it full of supplies!

Your donation of as little as $20 will help bring this much-needed clinic to life! For my part, for every $20 donation made I will be sending a handmade cap to the clinic! My hope is to stock the shelves full of hats for babies who will be born for years to come -- and I need your help!

Right now the campaign has reached 10% of its goal, leaving quite a bit to go in the next 26 days. Won't you consider donating just $20 to this amazing cause? I'm excited to make as many hats as donations, and will be sharing photos here each week, as well as on Instagram!

Jun 20, 2013

Creepers All Around!



 
pattern: Creepers All Around, by Tracey McDowell (free Ravelry download)  
yarn: I Love This Yarn! in lime and black (82 yards total)  
needles: size US 9 / 5.5mm 16" circulars and dpns

I am surrounded by nerds. Nerds who love Minecraft. I can't tell you a single thing about Minecraft, other than it's a game of some sort (I think computer?), and just about every boy I know loves it. This hat has a ring of "creepers" around it, which are apparently part of the game somehow? All I know is my husband about jumped off the couch when I showed him this hat pattern.

This Creepers pattern is free, which is wonderful, and the charts are amazing -- simple, detailed, and without error (more of a bonus than you'd think). However, it was clearly written for much thinner weight yarn than I used, because I cast on for the smallest size and the hat ended up fitting me perfectly. Not a big deal -- I knew based on the needles suggested and the yarn I was using that I'd have to cast on for the smallest to get a hat that would fit me (and most men or women) perfectly.

I've got plans to make bunches more of these, and might even make a few sized to fit toddlers and even babies. The hat knits up fast, I love the decreases, and I know the person who receives this hat (as well as the others soon to find their way off my needles) will love it!

Jun 19, 2013

college world series 2013



Made it to one game of the college world series this year -- the opening game! Owen spent the day with grandma Mimi, and Zach and I parked at the south end of the Old Market so we could walk to the stadium, eating and drinking all along the way!

After two separate stops for beer we made it to the park just as the first inning was getting started. Perfect seats -- just under the overhang, but still close enough to take a good photo or two. More food (I can't help myself, stadium food is the best!) and then a foul ball came flying our way, landing right in Zach's lap!

Jun 14, 2013

Thoughts As I Turn 36


Yesterday I turned 36. The truth of it all is, I haven't always liked celebrating my birthday. Where I have always wanted to go above and beyond for others when it's their day, I find I'd rather ignore my birthday all together. After years of disappointing days (for a host of reasons), a few years ago I decided that eating pizza and watching a movie with my most favorite person in the world was the only way I wanted to celebrate. Ever again.

And then I turned 36.

I had hoped for little to no fanfare. In fact, I wished for that so hard, I managed to get the stomach bug that's been floating around for the last week or so. Not so bad I wanted to curl up and die mind you, but bad enough I had to lay on the couch drifting in and out of sleep for most of the day. Bad enough that I wasn't sure I'd even be able to eat the pizza I'd been so looking forward to.

And then Owen started to give me big hugs and kisses, out of nowhere, and while watching Thomas -- which for him is like the most selfless thing ever, as Thomas hangs the moon for him right now, and if we talk too much while he is watching he will put a finger to his lips and all but yell "SHHHHHH" until we are quiet.

And then Zach ran out to grab something, and came back with Jones Bros. Cupcakes, which are just about the best cupcakes in the known universe. And he put a candle in one, and then my two favorite men in the world sang me Happy Birthday, and Owen helped me blow out the candle, which I didn't even realize he knew how to do.

And then we ate pizza even though my stomach kept trying to tell me it might not like it (it ended up liking it very much) and instead of watching a movie we watched two episodes of Dr. Who, which we are just now getting around to watching.

And while we watched I cast on my second hat for the day, realizing I'd been able to knit as much as I'd wanted, all day long. I talked to almost everyone who is important to me throughout the day, including both parents and two brothers (the third fell asleep before he could call, so texted me right at midnight).

And then, just as we were about to head to bed for the evening at 10:30pm like the boring grown-ups we are, my phone rang. And three people who have become little extensions of my family were on the phone, singing me happy birthday all the way from Canada. Right after a very important event, rushing to the phone to call because they knew I'm "old and go to bed early".

And as I smiled so hard I thought my face might break, I was reminded just how precious this life of mine is, just how lucky I am, and suddenly I was the most thankful person that has ever existed. And as I fell into bed, I realized this is what birthdays are supposed to be -- all my favorite people, all my favorite foods and things to do, all wrapped up into one lazy day of staying in my sweats and smiling every second I was awake.

//

I'm also very thankful that folks have been showing up in droves to donate to my Charity: Water birthday campaign! Thanks to some amazing donations, I'm slowly working my way towards my goal, and am grateful for each dollar donated (even the ones from friends reminding me how old I am! Hah!) If you'd like, consider donating as well -- 100% of all donations go directly towards water projects, so your money will be wisely spent. 36 looks like it's going to be a good year, judging by the way it started!

Jun 13, 2013

Ribbstickad Hat



 
pattern: Ribbstickad Hat, by Jenny Gordy  
yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Colonial Blue (92 yards, including pom)  
needles: 7.0mm 16" circular

 I've been dancing around the edges of the Wiksten world for a few years now. Friends love Jenny's work, at least half of the blogs I read sing of her praises, and I've read enough reviews of her writing and her projects to know at some point I should find my way to her blog. But it wasn't until a friend told me she'd decided she wanted to learn to knit after seeing a few of Jenny's hat patterns that I finally made my way over to her website and shop.

Ribbstickad became the first of Jenny's patterns I put on my needles. My modifications were minor - I didn't have the right size 16" circular needle on-hand so I sized up a tiny bit, and I used a thick worsted weight acrylic yarn instead of bulkier yarn, which gave the hat just a bit more drape.

A simple ribbed pattern, Ribbstickad flew off the needles from brim to pom. After trying it on I wished I'd made it a bit longer, as it didn't slouch off the back of my head as much as I'd have liked, but was also too short to turn up the brim and wear fitted. This happened because of the yarn substitution, giving me fewer rows per inch than the bulky yarn would have, making my decrease rows take up less space.

I forget to adjust for this problem more often than I'd care to admit, leaving many of my hats 1/2 to 1 inch shorter than I'd planned. You'd think after all these years of knitting hats I'd just go ahead and knit a bit extra before decreases, and while sometimes I do, most times I forget!

The hat is wonderful regardless. The pattern is easy to follow, a perfect charity pattern and ideal for people looking to dip their toes into hat knitting - you learn to work in the round, knit, purl, and decrease with ease.

Jun 11, 2013

an afternoon outside







Before his hair cut, so this must have been a few weeks ago. I find I have a terrible memory, forgetting all the amazing little moments we have together, this lovely family of mine. Even when I take photos, share little sentences on Instagram, the bulk of what I want to remember slips by.

This day, he finally climbed through the tunnel on his giant slide contraption. He tried desperately to climb the cut-outs on the side, but they still seem to tough.

He already doesn't fit into those red shoes. He's growing so fast, I can hardly keep up!

Jun 10, 2013

$3,600 For My 36th Birthday!

I can't believe that on Thursday I turn 36!

While this last year (this last decade?!) seems to have flown by, as I look back I can't count the number of things I am thankful for. My life is overflowing with goodness, and for that I am truly thankful. To celebrate we plan to order pizza and watch a movie (we STILL haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty, so I'm hopeful to finally check that one off the list), but I wanted to do a bit more.

And so like most of the best things I've done, last Friday I quickly set up a Charity: Water campaign to celebrate my birthday with a little more style. My goal is simple, albeit large - I'd like to raise $3,600 for my 36th birthday, helping bring clean water to folks in need. I love everything about Charity: Water, and believe the work they are doing is changing lives, communities, and our world.

I've run donation campaigns in the past, donated to other folks' campaigns, and even sent the entire office a box of hats once as a way to say thanks for all they do. I've got some big plans for my 36th birthday, which I'll share more about next week after the birthday celebration hang-over wears off (who am I kidding, we'll be asleep by 10pm!).

In the meantime, I'd love it if you would help me start my 36th year on the planet by making it a better place for some folks. Just $36 will bring clean water to someone in need, and will help me get a step closer towards my goal! Won't you donate today?!