Paired Up: An Introduction

February 3, 2016

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)


February 2, 2016
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)

The Shop Is Back Open!

January 30, 2016
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!

slowly but surely

January 11, 2016
It's taking longer than usual, but I'm slowly but surely getting both knitting and reading time in. I began my student teaching assignment last Tuesday, and even though I'm having such a great time and learning SO MUCH about teaching (middle school rules!), I find myself ready to drop into bed the minute Owen and Lou are asleep at night!

I can already feel this shifting just a bit, and I know that in a few short weeks getting up so early and doing so much every day will feel totally normal to me. My new normal. But this past week, and the weeks to come I am promising to be gentle on myself. And that means less knitting and reading than I was getting done over the holiday.

Slowly but surely I am plugging away at my goals. One more hat off the needles and another started, and a page here and there during silent reading at school (which the students do for 20 minutes every day!!) means I can see some progress amid the chaos, and that feels good.

new year, new goals

January 1, 2016
Happy new year!! It's been quite a few months since I've written here - I needed the break, whether I knew it or not! Now that the new year is upon us, I'm setting a few goals for myself, and am hoping to hop back here onto the blog on occasion and share my progress!


This is a big one, but it is also my only knitting goal for the year. I've got a closet full of yarn to contend with, and I'm hoping to turn most of it into Sandoval hats sized for babies that I can donate locally. We've got an amazing hospital down the road that is always in need of hats, and so I'm hoping the bulk of my acrylic yarn will be made into these tiny hats for some little ones being born this year.

ETA: I've adjusted this goal slightly. I'll still be knitting many Sandoval hats, but I have expanded my goal to just be donating 100 items. This will help me meet the needs that are most urgent, and hopefully use up s much of my stash, as quickly as possible. 


Now that I've got my glasses back on my face on a regular basis, I've been reading at an almost frantic pace. I'm sure that will slow a bit starting next week when I head into the classroom as a 7th grade English student teacher (!!!!), but I'm hopeful that between summer break, the books the kids are reading, and my "spare time", I'll be able to knock out all the books on my shelves and my Kindle, as well as pick up some new finds.

My reading goal will be documented here on the blog, thanks to the fact that Goodreads will automatically post my reviews to the blog!! Hooray for not having to think too much and still share content! I'll share weekly (hopefully) updates on my Sandoval progress here on the blog as well.

But as always, the best (and fastest) way to see where I'm at with my goals is to head to my Instagram. I'm there every day, sharing photos and updates on life, knitting, reading, and all that good stuff!


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