Nov 21, 2016

Boardwalk Infinity Scarf (minus the infinity part)



Pattern: Boardwalk Infinity Scarf, by Danyel Pink
Hook: US I / 5.5 mm
Yarn: Caron Cakes in Gelato


Just before we moved, I finished up a test run on the Boardwalk Infinity Scarf. I'd picked up a Caron Cake, and wanted to try it out on something that had an easy-to-memorize pattern, something I could potentially make on repeat for gifting this holiday season.


I altered this pattern in just one way - I didn't make it into an infinity scarf. Instead, I added fringe on the ends, making it a regular scarf that can be wrapped around your neck at least two times (like I did in the picture).


The yarn cake has 383 yards, and I didn't use all of it. In the end, I had enough yarn left for three baby hats.


After I first finished the scarf, I thought that if/when I made it again I'd make it thicker, maybe actually make it an infinity scarf even. I wasn't sure I liked the long stripes of color this skinny scarf pattern gave me.


Now, however? I love it exactly as it is. I plan to cut the fringe for the first side before I begin crocheting so the fringe matches, and then I'll just go and go and go until the scarf is around 7 feet long. Then I'll cut fringe for the other side, attach it all, and call it good!


I've got three more of these Caron Cakes, and if all goes well I may just pick up a few more even - this is the perfect scarf to give to literally every female on my list! The yarn is 20% wool, so even this skinny it's super warm, and the length is perfection!

Nov 9, 2016

Bath Towels And Bus Passes For Homeless Vets


With winter coming, there is about to be an influx of homeless folks hitting shelters for help. Whatever your thoughts about homelessness in general, I hope that we can all agree that the problem of military vets being homeless in America is a tragedy.


In my conversations with the folks at the Omaha VA Homeless Outreach Center, one thing they say they always need is bath towels and bus passes. So let's shower them with both.


Why Bath Towels?



As homeless vets come to the Homeless Outreach Center, one of their most frequent requests is for a shower. They want to wash the grime off, just like the rest of us. But the HOC is always short on towels, and are constantly having to ask people to wait for towels to make their way out of the washer and dryer before they can shower.




Why Bus Passes?



One of the other most pressing needs at the HOC is bus passes. As homeless folks try to navigate their city - to find employment, places to live, food to eat, etc - they may not have reliable transportation. They will need to rely on the bus system to get them where they need to go, but may not always have the money to pay for a bus ticket.




*  *  * 




These things are inexpensive. These may be things you already have lying about the house. These are things that can make a huge difference in the life of someone who is struggling.




If you live in Omaha, I will be collecting bath towels and bus tickets until Thanksgiving. You can bring them to me at school or at home!!




If you don't live in Omaha, look up your local VA Hospital's Homeless Outreach Center. There is one in almost every major city. They will for sure need these things. Drop them off, make a tangible difference in your city.

Nov 7, 2016

Off The Needles: The Léogâne




Pattern: The Léogâne, by Debrosse NYC
Yarn: Loops And Threads Cozy Wool (pewter, 2 skeins super bulky)
Hook: P / 11.5mm

I finished this infinity scarf before we moved, and have been meaning to take pictures for about two weeks now. Turns out, it can be hard to find time to take pictures when you're packing, moving, and then unpacking! ;)

Now that we're a little bit settled in (although a long way from done unpacking ...) I found some time over the weekend to get this scarf out and snap a few pictures. Louise wasn't as into getting her photo taken as I was, but we powered through. For posterity. And fun.

The Léogâne is the perfect "learn to crochet" infinity scarf - it's fun and fast, uses two skeins of super bulky, and can be gifted a million times over.

Next time I make it (for holiday presents) I think I'll chain about 8 fewer before joining in the round, however. I love the pattern and the way it looks, but it felt a bit long around my neck once I wrapped it twice. Since the scarf will stretch with time, I know that if I make it smaller it won't make it unwearable for others, and it will be a piece I love even more.

Seriously - with just a few weekends left before the holidays, I'm about to kick things into high gear, and this one is about to be gifted on REPEAT.

If you're not a crocheter, you can buy the finished piece from DeBrosse in her shop!


Oct 28, 2016

Saying Goodbye To 3030



 Today I drove away from 3030 for the last time as a resident. Last night we signed papers and officially purchased our new home - the best home, down the street from best friends, near the schools we wanted, and so much more.

But. 

3030 is the address I have lived at the longest. So much has happened here, I could write a book full of memories. Maybe I will. 

If there were a book, then, consider this the ultimate spoiler alert. Because everything happened at 3030 ...

This is where I had my first real and true and serious breakup. It was heart crushing, even though it was the right decision. 

This is where I lived when Grandpa T died. I collapsed onto the floor for far longer than I can remember, and had to haul myself up and get it together to go back to Chicago to say goodbye. 

This is where I lived when I met Zach. He kissed me for the first time at the top of the stairs, leaned against the banister. I knew the second our lips touched that he was my forever. 

We were in the living room when Zach proposed to me, with a ring inside a Mama's Pizza box. It was perfection, and I was totally me, mad that there was pizza sitting on the table but he wasn't getting plates! He dropped to one knee as I opened up the box to grab a slice of pizza, and everything was different. And perfect. We still have the top to that pizza box. 

We were huddled in the bathroom together two days before Christmas trying to read a pregnancy test - that's how we found out we were having Owen. 

3030 is also where I got fertility shots for both kids, slung over the bed sobbing at the pain and the hormones and the injustice of it all while Zach had to give me injections. It still feels unreal that it ever was difficult, looking at our two monsters. 

My water broke with Owen on the floor of our family room. I said, "did my water just break?" And I gushed a river of amniotic fluid while Zach spun in circles like a husband in a rom com. 

This is the house we brought both Owen and Lou home to. The house where they took their first steps, threw their first tantrums. 

This is the house where I struggled through morning sickness and afternoon sickness and evening sickness and middle of the night sickness while I wrote my first book.

This is the house where everything started. But it is just a house. Some walls, some paint, a lot of renovations. It is the four of us (plus some cats ...) who have made it a home.

And so now we go to Jefferson Circle. To a new house we will make our home, make new memories in. 

I cried rivers of tears as I drove away this morning, saying goodbye to this amazing house. I will miss her - she was amazing. But I am excited for our next home. 

Oct 24, 2016

Refuge Hat Pattern

FINALLY sharing the Refuge Hat pattern! I've been using this for months now, and keep saying I'm going to get it written up, and then .... life. But yesterday I got the whole thing written up, so today you get to meet Refuge!

This isn't a pattern that no one has ever used before, by any means. It borrows from the Shanti Hat pattern for the brim, and from a few other crochet hat patterns I've seen around for the body. But rather than just continuing to share a few mods on Instagram each time I share a photo, I wrote it all down, turned it into a PDF, and am sharing it for free!

Here are the official deets from Ravelry, and you can also DOWNLOAD THE PATTERN here!

Perfect for donation, the Refuge Hat uses HDC throughout to create a thick and comfy texture that will keep your head warm in any conditions. Make it in wool or acrylic, cotton or blends, and donate it to every place that accepts hats!


YARN:
Approx 140 yds worsted weight yarn.

I have used Vanna’s Choice, Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn, Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool (pictured), Cascade 220, Caron Simply Soft, and more! HOOK: Size US I / 5.5mm hook

NOTIONS:
Darning needle
GAUGE:
3 HDC x 3 HDC= 1”
SIZES:
18” unstretched - fits most teens/adults

ABBREVIATIONS:
BPDC = back post double crochet
CH = chain
FPDC = front post double crochet
HDC = half double crochet
RND = round
SL = slip
ST(S) = stitch(es)

Oct 22, 2016

In The Last Few Months ...

In the last few months, despite my not being very present on this old blog, a lot has happened!

Owen turned 5.
FIVE.

How is it possible that this boy, who changed my life in all the best of ways, has turned 5? He's been rocking pre-k and can't wait to go to kindergarten, depending on the day. He's decided he's ready to read chapter books, and so we've started reading The Magic Treehouse series together most nights, which makes my bibliophile heart explode with happiness!



Then there's this monkey. Lou still doesn't talk much, and is getting some early intervention help for her sensory issues. No official diagnosis until she's 3, but it's looking less like autism and more on the sensory side, which ... whatever. She's a gem of a daughter, and I wouldn't change a thing about her.

She's been rocking a heavy backpack during transitions at school, and finally figured out she loves jumping more than almost anything else in the world, so she bounces almost everywhere she goes now. She's a huge lover, and gives hugs and kisses and snuggles all the time. Fearless, this lady is going to give me a lot of grey hairs in the next few years, and I can't wait!





And then there's this guy.


It's been a rough year for him, but he's taken it like a champ. We are moving in just 6 days, and he's been a rock through all my craziness and emotions.


We've had so much fun hat Husker games this fall, and I can't wait to watch fall turn to winter with this guy.


Plus, there's been making ...











My plan is to get back to this space, start sharing the things I'm making. Life is super busy, and my job is AMAZING but takes up a ton of my time.


That said, I miss this outlet. I miss sharing my crafting, talking about giving hats away, pumping up the patterns and people I love. So I'll be trying to get back more often than once every three months with a photo dump!


Fingers crossed!!

Oct 8, 2016

Scoreboard Scarf, Husker Edition


Have you heard of the Scoreboard Knit-Alongs that happen during the football season?

A scoreboard scarf is a great way to keep track of your favorite team's football season - you knit one color for every point your team scores, and a contrasting color for every point the opposing team scores!

Aug 27, 2016

Three Weeks In ...

I've officially been a teacher for three weeks now. It's amazing and overwhelming and exciting and hard and so filling in so many more ways than I could even begin to explain. I've already learned more than I think I learned in my time getting my teaching certificate, and I'm sure I'll keep learning at this pace all year long.


In an effort to help remind myself how far I've come, and to make room set-up and those first few weeks SO. MUCH. EASIER. next year, I'm compiling a list of things I've already learned this year. Things I know I want to do differently next year, things I'm proud I did this year, all of it.




KEEP THE TURN-IN TRAYS AT THE BACK OF THE ROOM.


I started the year with one turn-in bin for all my classes (I teach 5) at the front of the room. Since all 5 of my classes are doing the same things every day, I thought this would be an easy way to streamline the turn-in process. HAH!! Instead, I had a jumble of papers from all 5 of my classes to sort through, and it made grading those first articles so stinkin' time consuming.


So then I changed it to a stack of turn-in trays, one for each class. But they were still in the front of the room right by the door. This created a huge cluster of 12 year old bodies by the door all the time, which drove me absolutely crazy.


Now I've got the turn-in bins on the back counter, with each bin next to the crate the students keep their notebooks in. It works perfectly, it's out of the way, no papers are jumbled up, and everyone knows where there things go.


I hate that I changed this one around so much, though. Next year, this is how I will start the year.



SIGN UP FOR THE LAPTOP CARTS AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.


I don't even care if it makes me a jerk. I want my students using laptops as often as possible. Turning their articles in online. Doing their writing online. All of it. We use Google Classroom, and if I could have them on it every day I would.


The entire district is going one-to-one with laptops for all high school and middle school students in the next year. They are starting with the high schools this coming January, and then eighth graders next fall, with the 6th and 7th graders after that. This means my 7th graders will all have their own school-issued laptop beginning next fall, and I want them to be ready for it. I want them to know how to use GAFE (Google Apps For Education) as fluently as possible now, so there's not as steep a learning curve when it becomes their main way of turning in work and operating in class.


Let's be clear - I am over the moon excited for this. I think giving each student a device levels the playing field in some pretty awesome ways. I know there's lots of reasons for people to be worried about it, but my students are already on devices (phones, computers, gaming systems) all the time in their personal time, so this is just a good way for them to learn to use these things in more effective and responsible ways.





DITCH THE JOURNALS AND INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS.


We are using both writing journals and interactive notebooks this year. I t was my idea, and I thought they would be a great way to keep the students organized without having to worry about folders and loose papers and such.


Man, it feels like a disaster. They struggled to set the interactive notebooks up correctly - about half of the kids in every class have their notebooks set up wrong. They struggle to bring their journals with them to class, and I have a bunch of random journal pages turned in each time I collect their journals for checks. It's just all super frustrating.


I think I needed to be more realistic about what I should be expecting from 12 year olds. The truth of their lives is that many of them don't have to worry about organization or responsibility outside of the classroom, and so they haven't learned those skills.


Our school provides each student with a homework folder and an agenda, and about 1/3 of my students already can't remember to bring those to class, or have lost them. I should have started out smaller. Make them be responsible for keeping track of their paper in class, turning it in at the end of class. Making them responsible for bringing their agendas and homework folders, helping them learn to be responsible and organized in that way.


I'm nervous to make a switch in how I do these things now, though. I can definitely start checking as they come in the door, and if they don't have their homework folder and agenda I can block them from entering until they get it. If they are tardy, that's a lesson they learn. I can work more with the idea that "this is something you're turning in, it's not for your notebook" and see where that goes. I need to talk with my fellow 7th English teachers, see what they think. Maybe I just need to keep powering through, and they will start to get it. Mostly it's frustrating for me, lots of late or missing assignments.





SPEND THE FIRST TWO WEEKS TEACHING PROCEDURES AND TEAM BUILDING. SERIOUSLY.


I thought I was doing this. I thought I was owning this like a BOSS. I was a fool.


I probably spent 1/4 to 1/3 of each class period the first two weeks worrying about procedures, and the rest of the time worrying about getting some type of content into their days. I should have spent THE ENTIRE TIME working on procedures. Not just standing at the front of the room talking at them, but having them act things out, make lists with me, etc.


I'm also figuring out I did literally no team building, which sucks. I'm still struggling to know their names, where other teachers have all their 130 students down. It's a lot of kids. It's my first year. I will do this better next year. I know because I didn't do this, my classroom feels less fun, and more of a me vs. them type of place, and that bums me out. I want my room to be a haven, a place of refuge. Instead I think many of the kids just think "man, it's English class. Yuck."





REMEMBER, YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN


I have to constantly remind myself it is my first year. I am doing the best I can. My students are amazing and resilient, and they are still learning. They will come out of this year knowing more than they started the year knowing, and I will grow so much as a teacher that by the end of the year even these things will feel like a distant memory.


Right now I feel like I'm swimming upstream in a serious current. I will get there. It will get easier. I love this job, this passionate life calling I've found myself in. I wouldn't change jobs for all the money in the world. It's where I'm meant to be. It's such an amazing gift, to be able to help middle schoolers grow into themselves, begin to love themselves more wholely and completely. To show them they have worth, their words and ideas have power. I want to do the absolute best I can for them, every single day. That's how I know I'm good at this.

Jul 17, 2016

For the Cowdrey Care Center




Pattern: The Every Beanie, by Corina Gray (free Ravelry download)
Yarn: various, all acrylic, all worsted weight
Hook: size I/9 - 5.5mm

The last few weeks has seen us at the doctor's office more often than I'd like. With all that time comes more hats made, and I've fallen in love with one crochet hat pattern in particular. The Every Beanie is made with worsted weight yarn and a size I/9 hook, and I've adjusted it so that it has ribbing on the edge, using FPDC and BPDC.

The hats all fit a wide variety of heads, which is nice. The pattern comes with just one size, and so I altered a few of the hats to make them small enough to fit Louise. The regular size fits Owen, myself, and Zach all comfortably, so these are perfect for donation!

I've already dropped this batch off to the Cowdrey Care Center, which is the Oncology center at Nebraska Medicine. The hospital is just blocks away from us, and does amazing things, so I love being able to donate there.

Plus? I've already got another bag half full, so I should be able to donate again soon!

May 27, 2016

#ReadProud In June!


Thanks to my amazing friend Chase Night, I've come across Julia Ember her June #readproud challenge. The goal is to read LGBTQ books all month to celebrate Pride, and I'm totally on board! I'm hoping to not only read some new books and authors, but also find some books I can add to my middle school classroom library shelves.

Here's the full list of suggested reads, thanks to Julia's blog ... I'm not sure yet what I'll be reading, so I'm including the entire list here for you to look at!

WEEK 1 — May 29-June 5
 
Category A:  TRANS YA  ** fiction or non-fictional 
BEING JAZZ: MY LIFE AS A TRANSGENDER TEEN by Jazz Jennings (non-fiction)
IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo
FREAKBOY by Kirstin Elizabeth Clark (lyric)
BEING EMILY by Rachel Gold
THE ART OF BEING NORMAL by Lisa Williamson 
BEYOND MAGENTA by Susan Kuklin (non-fiction) 
 
CATEGORY B: GAY CONTEMPORARY, NA or ADULT.
FOR REAL by Alexis Hall (over 18s!)
SUTPHIN BOULEVARD by Santino Hassell (over 18s!)
FOXES by Suki Fleet 
INTO THIS RIVER I DROWN by TJ Klune
CUT AND RUN by Abigail Roux 
 
WEEK 2 — June 5-12 
 
Category A:  LESBIAN SPECULATIVE
THE BETTER TO KISS YOU WITH by Michelle Osgood
UNICORN TRACKS by Julia Ember (meeee!)
THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US by Emily Skrutskie
DISSENTION by Stacey Berg
THE RAVEN AND THE REINDEER by T. Kingfisher
THE RENEGADE by Amy Dunne 
THE SECOND MANGO by Shira Glassman
 
Category B:  LGBTQ Middle Grade or Younger
GEORGE by Alex Gino
RED: A CRAYON'S STORY by Michael Hall
AND TANGO MAKES THREE by Justin Richardson 
HEATHER HAS TWO MOMMIES by Leslea Newman
ONE MAN GUY by Michael Barakiva 
 

NOTE: I'm so excited about category B here ... I want to get every book on this list for my classroom for sure!

WEEK 3 — June 12-19 
 
Category A:  AUTHORS OF COLOUR
ASH BY MALINDA LO 
IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan 
SEVEN TEARS AT HIGH TIDE by CB LEE
THE SUMMER PRINCE by Alaya Dawn Johnson
THE BATTLE FOR JERICHO by Gene Gant
TREASURE by Rebekah Weatherspoon 
 
Category B:  LESBIAN CONTEMPORARY 
OUT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR by Dahlia Adler 
ANNIE ON MY MIND by Nancy Garden
LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley
AT HER FEET by Rebekah Weatherspoon (over 18s!) 
CAREFULLY EVERYWHERE DESCENDING by LD Bedford
EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour
 
WEEK 4 — June 19-26
 
Category A:  GAY YA
We Are the Ants by Shawn David Hutchinson 

JERKBAIT by Mia Seigert 
SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA by Becky Albertalli 
DAGGER by Steven dos Santos
BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan
FJORD BLUE by Nina Rossing

NOTE: This category is another one I'm excited about, and while I already have Simon, I plan to get the rest for my classroom shelves as well!
 
Category B: WILDCARD 
Surprise me. Surprise us all. As long as it's LGBTQIA. I'd LOVE people to bring forward some terrific Asexual, Bisexual and Non-binary books. 


May 7, 2016

shop


I haven't blogged in some time now, and don't have any plans to in the near future. But if you're looking for simple, colorful hats to take along on all your wild adventures, then head on over to my shop!

I'm selling hats in all sizes - newborn through adult - so you're sure to find just what you need! Plus, 25% of all proceeds are donated to refugee aide organizations!

Apr 2, 2016

Mar 28, 2016

Autumn Ombre Hat


Pattern: Autumn Ombre Hat, by Country Pine Designs
Yarn: Loops & Threads Cozy Wool
Needles: size US 15 / 10.0mm

I might have a problem, and that problem may be an obsession with Country Pine Designs patterns.

But seriously. Yes, I know I've been making some of Kathleen's patterns in partnership with her brand, but seriously. The patterns are AMAZING. She's got the super bulky hat decreases figured OUT, which is something I've never been satisfied with on my own patterns even! Plus, how cute is this hat?!?

I used about 1/4 of each skein of Cozy Wool I picked out for this hat - you could use a bit more of the darkest color and make a pom, but I opted against a pom for this hat as I'll be donating it, and am unsure of who will end up with it. With this small amount of yarn used from each skein, this pattern is perfect for using up stray bits of super bulky you have from other projects, or for making several hats from the same skeins.

I whipped this hat up in a matter of hours, even! Let's be real - it took me a few days to get the hat made, thanks to the sickies that have been passing through our house lately, but if you add up all the total time I spent with this hat on the needles, it adds up to maybe 2 hours. SO AWESOME!

I've already purchased another one of Kathleen's patterns so I can knock out another hat, even though our partnership is over. That's how much I love her patterns. Totally worth it, especially for charity knitters.

If you don't have any super bulky on hand, don't think you can't make this hat, either! Just hold some worsted weight yarn triple, and you're good to go!

Grab the pattern on Ravelry and/or Etsy.

This post was sponsored by Country Pine Designs. All opinions are my own, amazing design props go to Kathleen!

Mar 14, 2016

Monte Rosa



Pattern: Monte Rosa Hat, by Isabell Kraemer
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool (1/2 skein between the main color and the accent, including pom)
Needles: size US 6 / 4.0mm 16" and US 8 / 5.0mm 16", and US 8 / 5.0mm dpns

I've had Monte Rosa in my Ravelry queue for a few years now. In fact, I'm pretty sure I added it to my queue with the intention of knitting this hat for Lou once she got big enough to fit the smallest size, which she is now. This version of the hat, however, is meant for me to wear to Husker football games this coming fall season!

I didn't adjust hardly anything when I made this hat. I did not do the tubular cast on, because I have never had luck with that one, but otherwise I worked the pattern as written.

I wasn't sure how I'd manage to keep the cables and the lace separate in my brain, but Isabell writes such a good pattern, I never had to think about it! I downloaded the PDF to my iPad, and then used the annotation tools to mark off each row as I finished it, which made it super simple! I'm trying to use less paper, and while for most patterns I don't even have to think about it, with something a bit more complicated I was worried that this method would work. Thankfully, it worked like a charm, and I'm excited to work more difficult hats now!

I made the M2 size, which says it fits a medium adult head, and the hat fits me perfectly! It's the size I'd make for most women, and I already know I'll be making many more of these, in most cases minus the pom, to donate to refugees. It was truly a fast pattern, and made in wool it's super warm, even with the lace panels all over. The small stripe area is perfect for using up even the tiniest bits of wool, and I figure having one of these on the needles every fourth or fifth hat, I won't get bored of the pattern and will have bunches of gorgeous hats to donate!

Mar 11, 2016

Breckenridge Fair Isle Hat





Pattern: Breckenridge Fair Isle Hat, by Country Pine Designs
Yarn: unknown (wool roving-like super bulky that was given to me to use for charity knitting)
Needles: US 15 / 10mm 16" circulars

The photos? That's what happens when you ask your husband to take one fast hat picture, and he starts acting like a high fashion photographer. "Strike a pose! You know you love the camera! Make them want it!" ... I swear, he's the best!

I've long been an admirer of Country Pine Designs. In a world that can sometimes feel oversaturated with super bulky items (I'm guilty of this myself), Kathleen stands out with her original designs and gorgeous photography. When she started selling patterns along with her finished knits, I knew I had to start knitting!

First on my list was the Breckenridge Fair Isle Hat. You can pick up the pattern both on Ravelry and on Etsy, and trust me when I tell you it's worth every penny. I've always struggled with just how long to make my super bulky hats, how to work the decreases, and just how much pattern is too much (or not enough) pattern for a hat made from yarn this thick

Kathleen takes all the guesswork out of it, and I ended up with a hat so perfect I've already got Zach convinced the two of us need to have matching red and white versions for Husker football this fall! And if I play my cards right, our friends (who we go to all the games with) will have some, also.

I'd like to say I've already earmarked all my super bulky stash for more of these hats, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to run out and buy more yarn as well ... my stash isn't going to last long with this pattern now in my possession!

This post was sponsored by Country Pine Designs. All opinions are my own, amazing design props go to Kathleen!

Mar 9, 2016

Renfrew


Pattern: Renfrew, by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Cascade 220 (I used xx yards for this hat)
Needles: US 8 / 5.0mm 16" circulars and dpns

I loved knitting this hat! In fact, I loved knitting it so much, I knit straight through to the decreases in about one day of knitting time. Getting from the body of the hat to the decreases took a few weeks, unfortunately, but that wasn't due to pattern issues, rather it was all due to user error. I found myself stalled out, and so I set the hat down and got busy with other things.

I will fully admit I love knitting everything Jane Richmond writes. I followed the pattern in every way, not deviating one little bit - a rarity for me, as I find I at least change up the cast on or the needle size. But Renfrew was such perfection I did not change a bit as I knit my way through it.

A reminder to those who would take up this hat pattern as I have - you need to weave in your ends on the side you've been thinking is the right side! One of the genius parts of this pattern is that it is knit entirely inside out so as to minimize the number of purl stitches one needs to perform. However, you must remember that at the end, so you don't make the mistake I made and weave in the ends on what is to end up being the right side of the hat!

I didn't realize my mistake until after the hat had been washed and was blocking, and so I turned the hat right side out, sought out the ends of yarn that were peeking out, and tucked them in. Not perfection, but I'm not sure anyone but myself will ever notice.

This hat will kick off my newest refugee hat pile. I keep them all in an ottoman we got for Owen's bedroom, but that he no longer uses. When it's full up, I know it's time to stuff a shipping bag full!

(Of note: Jane was kind enough to send me a free copy of this hat pattern when she heard I was in a knitting slump and was hoping to kick it by using one of her patterns. She did not, however, ask me to write about it after making the hat, and all opinions are my own)

Mar 7, 2016

While Knitting, February 2016


I've been reading books by the handful again recently, thanks in large part to being a middle school teacher now! I've been reading lots of ya fiction, and have been loving all the words bumping around in my brain again.

I decided to pick back up with my reading reviews, after so many months of not writing them. Hopefully I'll keep it up more steadily this time, as I've been reading so many I want to share!

Chicks with Sticks (Knitwise), by Elizabeth Lenhard. Our school librarian found out I'm a knitter, and immediately went to the shelves and found this book for me! The story of a high school girl who discovers knitting, and gains a few friends in the process, after a family tragedy, I loved this book to the moon and back! At the end, there are a few patterns for beginner knitters even!

El Deafo, by Cece Bell. We have a decent selection of graphic novels in the classroom, but this one is from the public library. The students love it, so I'm going to pick up a copy for the room. El Deafo is the story of a girl who loses her hearing at a young age, and must navigate learning to use hearing aides, being different at school, challenges with friends, and even a potential super power!

Chicken, by Chase Night. I've read this book at least three times now, and I'm sure I'll read it at least once a year for the rest of my life. If you haven't read it yet, comment below - I've got a few copies to give out to those who want them!

The Maze Runner (Book 1), by James Dashner. I actually wasn't sure about this one for about the first third of the book. It felt excessively violent to me, for whatever reason. As I continued to read, I changed my mind, and got excited to read the second book in the series.

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, Book 2), by James Dashner. The second book in the Maze Runner series, I found myself liking this book better than the first. It picks up right where the first book left off, with teenagers running for their lives in the midst of a wold in peril. I flew through the book, and as soon as my students are done with the third in the series, I'm going to hop onto it!

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives, by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda. Such a great book! The memoir of two middle school students, living halfway around the world from one another, who become pen pals and change each others' lives. I'll fully admit I was in love with this book from the first chapter, and have already recommended it to several of my honors kids.

Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan. The story of a biracial girl who is navigating her way through the foster care system, this book tore at my heart on multiple occasions, and I cried at least three times. Perfection from the first page to the last, I would recommend this book to every single person I know!

The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. Oh man, this book. So sad, such a perfect snapshot of grief. Didion is one of my favorites, and this book will stay on my shelves forever.

Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks. I wasn't super impressed with this book. I just couldn't empathize with any of the characters, and while I knew this was the first book in a series that had been recommended to me, I couldn't do it. I finished the book, reluctantly, and then opted out of the rest of the series.

(Note: Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links)

Mar 6, 2016

Gallatin Scarf


Pattern: Gallatin Scarf, by Kris Basta (free pattern)
Yarn: Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn! Solids (I used 165 yards, so about 1/2 of a skein)
Needles: US 10.5 / 6.5mm

It was mentioned yesterday in a comment that maybe I was just a bit burnt out on knitting hats, and I'm pretty sure that was the truest statement ever made!

With Renfrew still sitting, waiting for decreases to happen, I cast on Gallatin after a late-night Raverly binge wherein I found project after project being added to my queue. I'm not even sure how I happened upon the pattern for Gallatin (which is offered free on Kris' website), but after showing it to several different people, and each of them falling in love with the scarf, I knew I had to give it a try.

I cast on for Gallatin on Thursday after school, and was binding off and weaving in ends on Saturday morning. This quick knit definitely got me fully out of my knitting slump, gave me a cute scarf to wear on the colder spring days, and got me so excited to keep knitting I immediately grabbed my Renfrew hat and finished it as well!

This scarf is perfect for those who knit to donate - the lace is super beginner-friendly, the scarf isn't bulky at all (which makes it perfect for folks in all sorts of temperatures and situations), it can be wrapped loosely around the neck like a scarf or twisted around like a cowl (by tucking the ends in), and it can be made in wool, acrylic OR even cotton! I've already got plans for some rogue skeins of acrylic in my stash that I didn't know what to do with - they will make gorgeous Gallatin scarves!

Plus, the pattern is simple to remember, and takes just a few evenings of non-concentrated work to finish! I knit on mine while playing trains with Owen, watching Curious George with Lou, and even while having a beer at the end of the night with Zach!

As for donations, while I'll be keeping this first grey Gallatin for myself, I know I'll be making more for donation. Any I make out of wool will be sent on to Nest Maine, but all the ones I plan to make in acrylic? I'll be sending those on to the Pine Ridge Reservation! There is a group on Ravelry that is always sending donations to this area of the country that is so steeped in poverty it makes me a bit sick, and I know the scarves will be used and loved there!

Mar 3, 2016

Donating Items Made From Sock Yarn

Earlier this week, I received a comment from someone anonymous. As the question was a great one to have asked, I thought I'd share it, and my answer, here! The question was:

Several years ago I was given multiple bags (unopened, same dye lot per bag) of wool blend sock yarn. The local agencies I knit for do not want any wool clothing and the one I mail to only wants heavy weight wool socks. I have at least enough Kroy sock yarn to make 25 pairs of socks and am looking for somewhere to donate wool blend socks knitted with standard "sock" yarn (ie. 28sts = 4in on #3 needles).

So, you know my first response is ... make that yarn into Sockhead Hats and Basic Beanies! Both patterns use just about any "standard" sock yarn you have in your stash, and work up super warm while also being thin enough that you can send bunches of them for donation to a wide variety of charities.

But the real question was where to send those finished items, specifically who accepts socks. There's a few charities I know of that love to get wool socks all year long!

Nest: Maine, which has been accepting items for northern Maine residents for about a decade now, is always my go-to when people ask where they can donate woolen items. Nest accepts all manner of items, from hats and mittens to vests, sweaters, and even socks! All sizes are needed, and it's helpful to label the socks for size before you send them on over.

Another great organization is Hats And More For War-Torn Syria, which is actually a Ravelry group. What began as a way to collect just hats for refugees has become a global effort to clothe those fleeing war and disaster with wooly warmth. Socks are ALWAYS needed for this organization as well, and they simply request you tie the socks together with a spare bit of yarn so the pair doesn't get separated in transit. The Ravelry group has addresses both for the US and for the UK, so folks from all over the globe can ship to the cheapest option for them. All items are sent to refugee camp with aide workers through Salaam Cultural Museum, an internationally recognized aide group.

I hope that helps you out! And I'd love to see pictures of the items you make to donate - just tag them #shemakeshats on social media and I'll hopefully see them!!

(photo from the Kroy yarn page on Ravelry)

Feb 15, 2016

Still Slightly Stalled


Earlier in the month, I was lamenting on Instagram that I'd hit a huge knitting slump. I'd been casting on and then ripping back just about everything I put on my needles pretty much since the beginning of 2016, and I was about ready to throw in the needles and take a knitting hiatus.

And then I cast on Jane Richmond's Renfrew. Working with some cauliflower purple Cascade 220 given to me by a knitting friend, I blew through the body of the hat so fast I'm not sure I properly remember actually knitting it! And then ...

Well, and then life got the best of me. Zach went out of town for a few days, I found myself doing a lot of grading for school, and before I knew it Renfrew had been sitting unloved for over a week! Today I plan to hop back on and get the decreasing done, and then hopefully snap a few pictures.

So my knitting slump is sort of kicked, although I'm still trying to power through. Hopefully a gorgeous finished hat will do the trick!


Feb 3, 2016

Paired Up: An Introduction


One of the questions I get asked quite often is if someone can knit for charity if they get their yarn from big box craft stores. And if so, what can they make, and where can they send it? The answer, of course, is that you can CERTAINLY knit for charity using yarn found at big box craft stores, and there's TONS of things you can make, and just as many charities to send your items to!

It doesn't always feel that simple though, does it? And so I'm starting a new series here on the blog, called Paired Up. I'll be matching yarn you can find at big box craft stores with patterns I've found FREE on Ravelry, and then pairing those items up with charities I know will accept them. My hope is this will make it simple enough for any and everyone who wants to make something to give away to be able to do just that. Because it truly is just that simple.

I've got a few ideas all ready to go, but I want to hear from you as well! What yarn do you have in your stash that you're not sure what to do with? What yarn do you purchase most often? What shops are closest to you? What sorts of people do you want to help with your donations?

(Yarns pictured: Caron Simply Soft, Vanna's Choice, Paton's Classic Wool, and Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick N Quick)

Feb 2, 2016

GETTING OUT OF MY KNITTING SLUMP

I feel like I've been in such a huge knitting slump lately. I keep casting on hats, and then not finishing them, leaving them sitting on various surfaces around the house until I give up and rip them out, adding the yarn back to my stash.

The trouble isn't motivation - I know I want to keep knitting hats and giving them away. My heart breaks daily with the need I see all around the world, right outside my door, and everywhere in between. I just haven't been able to make my fingers follow my heart this past month or two.

Then, on this snowy stay-inside day today, I think I figured out the problem. I knew my student teaching would take up gobs of my time (for good reason!) and so I had decided in late December that I was going to commit myself to knitting just Sandoval Hats for the first four to five months of the year. A pattern I know by heart, I assumed it would help keep me knitting, while not occupying too much of my brain space as to become a nuisance.

Turns out, I need a bit more variety than that! While I've always kept myself occupied with Sandoval hats, I've always  had another hat (or something else) on the needles at the same time, giving me variety and some much-needed interest, it turns out. So I took a few minutes earlier today to dig through some of my "want to knit" hat patterns, and decided to go back to a designer I know and love dearly - Jane Richmond. Jane has become a friend over the years (albeit an online friend, as we've not yet had the opportunity to meet in person), and I count myself lucky for that. Her designs are minimalist and aesthetically pleasing, simple to knit while never boring, and just exactly what I needed to bust myself out of my knitting slump!

I grabbed some cauliflower Cascade 220 out of my stash (de-stashed to me from a friend in Des Moines) and cast on Renfrew while Lou was sleeping, and I'm already almost halfway done, by knitting slump officially kicked!

(pictured above, clockwise from top left: Extra Slouch | Begbie | Renfrew | Wellington)

Jan 30, 2016

The Shop Is Back Open!

My plan, late last December, was to close up shop for Christmas and through the New Year. And then I started student teaching, and everything got a bit crazy for awhile there! Now it's the end of January, and I'm just now getting things back opened up over at the shop - I'd love for you to take a look!

We're supposedly getting a HUGE storm here in the Midwest in the next couple of days, so if you're in need of something to keep you cozy and warm I've got a few items that might fit the bill!

And don't forget, every purchase helps buy solar lights for Al Amal! I'm able to purchase AT LEAST one solar light for every shop purchase, which means tons of refugees are gaining access to safety and education, the ability to maneuver the refugee camps at all hours (as many are showing up in the middle of the night), see where they're going as they walk to their next location, and so much more!

I'm also using shop profits to buy books and supplies for my middle school classroom. I'm teaching in a Title 1 school in one of the poorest neighborhoods here in Omaha, so my students can't afford to buy things like notebooks and pencils. My goal is to have a huge classroom library for them to use during our silent reading, and to always have pencils and notebooks and paper and such on-hand. I also need to make copies for their writer's notebooks, quizzes, and such, and our district doesn't have the money to fully fund that, so I use shop profits for this as well.

It's the most rewarding, and the most draining, work I've ever done. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Thanks in advance for checking out the shop!