Before 40

September 16, 2014

Tomorrow is September 17, 2014. It will be exactly 1,000 days until my 40th birthday.

I used to make more life lists, birthday lists, all sorts of lists. And then I had kids, and my lists took on a much more day-to-day look – groceries we needed, baby items to grab at Target, what to pack for our family visits to Chicago, etc. About two weeks ago, I realized not only did I no longer have an official Life List written down anywhere, I had no big goals for the next chunk of my life, excepting my 10,000 hats quest. For someone who has always loved having multiple goals and lists going at a time, this felt foreign, and more than a little sad.

So I’m remedying this, in large fashion. I’ve made a list of things I want to accomplish in the next 1,000 days. My hope is to have a life full of new experiences and completed mini-goals as I blow out my candles on my 40th birthday. I’ll document these here on the blog, of course, with more or less words depending on the goal.

Many of these goals I'll also document on Instagram, with hashtags used to help me keep track of it all.

Here’s my goals:
  1. Get to 1500 hats donated.
  2. Knit through the wool stash for nest: Maine.
  3. Use up my leftover bits of yarn. Once leftovers are used up the first time, never have more than the glass jar of leftovers before I make scrap hats.
  4. Knit one sweater for each of us. Zach. Robyn. Owen. Lou.
  5. 25 hot yoga classes.
  6. Live in the home where we'll have our kids' high school graduation parties.
  7. Insta-Life book for each year (including finishing the one for 2013).
  8. Read 100 books, sharing my thoughts in my Out And About wrap-up posts.
  9. Knitting tattoo.
  10. Take Owen on a "real" train (not the one at the zoo).
  11. Buy only sweatshop-free clothes, and only do this as my clothes wear out. Minimalist signature style for the win.
  12. Get a passport. Travel somewhere that uses said passport.
  13. Go on an adults-only vacation with friends.
  14. Get my teaching certificate. 
  15. Donate a large priority flat rate box filled with hats to 25 new-to-me charities (places I've never donated before).
  16.  Stand on the bridge where Iowa and Nebraska touch.
  17. Give up all birthdays/holidays/occasions for presents to Charity: Water.
  18. Finish the 40 Golden Pear hats.
  19. Impossible Hats goal met.
  20. Finish getting my teeth taken care of.
  21. Watch 10 documentaries.
  22. Write 15 letters to Hababo.
  23. Sponsor a second child.
  24. Take Lou to her first football game.
  25. Toes in the ocean.
  26. Donate blood 10 times.
  27. Honeymoon. Finally.
  28. Read three chapter books to Owen.
  29. Men's hats pattern book.
  30. Kid's hats pattern book.
  31. 10 real push-ups.
  32. Hat-tember project again, this time knitted hats.
  33.  Learn about humanism.
  34. Try every flavor of Baskin Robbins ice cream.
  35. Library cards for the whole family.
  36. Try 25 new beers.
  37. Practice public gratitude for 30 days (at least).
  38. Donate baby hats to the hospital Grandma Corwin used to donate to.
  39. Get our will in order.
  40.  Watch the kids eat chicago-style pizza for the first time.

777 Project

September 14, 2014

Back in mid-August, my friend Joel Runyon shared his newest Impossible goal - the 777 Project.

Almost as soon as he announced his plan - to run 7 ultra marathons, in 7 continents, to raise money to build 7 schools - I knew I wanted to get on board.

I first met Joel back in 2012, when he committed to running a marathon (his first ever) to raise $25,000 and build a school with Pencils Of Promise.  I hopped on the fundraising train that time around by committing to Hat-Tember 2012, a project that changed the way I make hats and give them away, and changed how I looked at how this whole hat-making thing could really do something big for the world.

Now, two years later, Joel is ready to do more - so much more! You can read read all about his journey to The 777 Project here. He will be funding all of his travel and ultra-marathon related stuff himself, so all the money he raises goes straight to building schools.

And man does he have a lofty fundraising goal - to build 7 schools with Pencils Of Promise, Joel needs to raise $175,000.


Much of that money will come from folks committing to donating $25 a month for the next 12 months, but Joel was also looking for some crazy committed folks to jump in and do a bit more. Complete their own Impossible Missions, as it were.

You know I had to jump in!!

This time around, I'll be making hats to sell in my shop! I've got a super fun Impossible Hat pattern worked up and ready to photograph, with both a beanie and slouchy version, and both a kids and adults size! This means you can outfit almost your entire family in these Impossible Hats, and help me get to my goal of raising $5,000 for the 777 Project!

I'll be sharing photos of the hats over the next few weeks, as well as more fun stuff about the 777 Project, but for now I'd love for you to do the following:

1. Head over to the 777 Project homepage and read all about it. I've only touched the surface of this amazing year-long odessy, and you'll want to read every last detail.

2. Donate. You may want to purchase one (or more!) of my Impossible Hats, but you may decide you just want to go ahead and donate now. Every dollar helps build schools for kids in some of the most in-need areas of the world.

3. Share this post, and Joel's story! The more folks know about the 777 Project, the faster those 7 schools will get built!

Out And About 8

September 12, 2014

Happy Friday! It's been raining here like crazy, and we've been turning the heat on already. Looks like we're in for a cold fall and winter, which means lots of hats! I've got some fun news on the hat front for next week, but right now I wanted to share a bit about the book I just finished reading.

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life is the latest offering by my friend Chris Guillebeau. Chris set about to visit every country in the world, and in the process inspired millions of folks to live lives their own way. THOP shares not just his quest journey, but the stories of dozens of other folks who have completed or are in the midst of quests of their own.

I'll freely admit I'm in the book, for like a paragraph - it was such a fun experience to share my 10,000 hats quest with Chris and the team of folks he worked with to help compile people's stories. That said, the book was also a huge inspiration to me. I loved reading about not only  Chris' journey, but the journeys of so many other folks. After a year of having a baby and writing my own book, I've felt a bit lost on my quest journey. THOP has helped re-focus me and re-inspire me!

If you haven't already, grab a copy of Chris' book - you won't be disappointed!

Here's a few fun things I've found around the web this week:

I love Ysolda's tips for blocking hats.

My friend Jen had a Wool And the Gang workshop a week or so ago, and it looks like so much fun!

Do you believe there's a difference between happiness and meaning?

Elise just made me want to get PSE, thanks to her time saving photo editing tip!

I'm always on the hunt for family-friendly movies, and this list helps a ton!

If the first hat in Sweet Tooth is any indication, the new progressive e-book from Alex is definitely a winner!

While I love me a beanie with slouch, some folks prefer the slouchless variety better.

In need of a new shawl for fall? The Double Deco knit-along starts October 1!

The Playful Stripes Cardigan is now available in adult sizes!!!

The difference between an orphan and a daughter.

There's still time to whip up a newborn red hat and get it sent off for the Little Hats, Big Hearts drive! I'll be sharing my hats before I get them shipped off!

Have a great weekend!

Brooks Hat and Blanket

September 9, 2014

I'm so excited to share this new pattern set today! The Brooks Hat and Blanket patterns come in a variety of sizes for all sorts of babies! Perfect for donation items, these patterns also work up wonderfully for baby shower gifts.


Two skeins Lion Brand Wool Ease (80% Acrylic 20% Wool, 197 yards/180 meters per 85 grams)


US N / 10.0 mm hook

Darning needle for weaving in ends

2 sts per 1” in pattern stitch

newborn (0-6 months, 6-12 months)

Purchase the Brooks Hat for $1.99 here. BUY NOW


Two skeins Lion Brand Wool Ease (80% Acrylic 20% Wool, 197 yards/180 meters per 85 grams)


US N / 10.0 mm hook

Darning needle for weaving in ends

2 sts per 1” in pattern stitch

small (large) = 13” x 13” (20” x 20”)

Purchase the Brooks Blanket for $1.99 here. BUY NOW

Charity Hat-Along, Take Two!

September 8, 2014

Back at the beginning of July, Heather and I wrapped up the Charity Hat-Along. Or, we thought we wrapped it up.

During May and June, you guys stepped up pretty huge, sending 500 hats my way for Completely Kids. As the PO Box filled up over and over again with boxes full of hats, I felt more grateful than I have in quite some time.


However there are still approximately 1500 kids that Completely Kids works with, kids who live below the poverty line and won't have much in the way of winter gear to help keep them warm in just a few months.

So Heather and I are bringing back the Charity Hat-Along for round two!

Remember, we need hats sized to fit elementary and middle school kids. This means your hats should measure 19" around unstretched, and at least 8" long. Many of the elementary and middle school aged kids I personally know love hats made from darker colors, and hats that have a fair bit of slouch to them, although you can make your hats however you'd like.

New to the Charity Hat-Along? You can find all sorts of information located here, and feel free to ask any and all questions!

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