On Minimalist Knitting

Apr 30, 2010
Minimalism is currently one of the hot button topics on the internet. I keep running into bloggers espousing minimalism to varying degrees, and the discussions between two distinct minimalist camps are starting to get pretty heated. Should we own less than a certain number of items? How do we count those items? Is there a danger in counting what we own – does that keep us enslaved to possessions? What about going car-less? How do you practice minimalism with a family and kids?

These are just a few of the arguments that I've been reading over the last few months, and despite a few caveats and reservations directed towards living a minimalist life, I'm ready to go all-in. Better late to the party than to never show up, I say! I've got a lot of stuff, you see; too much stuff for any one person to own.

I jokingly tell my husband I'm borderline hoarder, but it's not far from the truth. While I don't save all our old newspapers, I save items from old craft habits that have long since died, and I'm pretty sure my sock drawer has more single socks missing mates than socks that match up. Our office is littered with photo albums I've purchased and never filled, journals with only one or two pages used, and half-finished knitting projects. And let's not talk about the piles of yarn that sit all over!

While I may never be someone who owns only 100 things, I'm all for practicing minimalism – the idea that I only own what I need and what I love, and don't spend money on mindless consumerism. I think part of getting to my happiness point along my minimalist journey comes from massive purges - and I can feel another one coming shortly – but I also think that part of my minimalism journey will come from using what I've got and making decisions about what sorts of things I want to keep in my life.

To me, part of minimalism means I can't have it all. More specifically, it means that I don't want to have it all. It's acknowledging I'll never truly be a scrapbooker {not because I can’t, but because other things are more important to me}, and letting go of the multitudes of scrapbook supplies I've had. It means owning up to the fact that I'll never be a girl who wears tons of dresses, and so only keeping one or two and donating the rest.  And it means owning up to what type of knitter I am.

When it comes to knitting, despite what the office looks like, I strive to be a minimalist knitter. I tend to stick with knitting worsted weight yarn, occasionally branching into sport weight. I stick with needles sized between five and ten, and have only used smaller needles three or four times in my decade-long knitting past – and I hated every minute of it!

Enter The Minimalist Knitter Project.

Beginning May 1, I am challenging myself to become – and then consistently live as – a minimalist knitter by knitting through my stash and paring down my supplies to that which I will use over and over and/or truly love. I’ll be documenting the entire process here on the blog, sharing my thoughts on the process, before/after photos of my yarn stash and accessories, and sharing photos of all the amazing items I knit with just the yarn in my stash.

Over the next few weeks, while I knit away at my yarn stash I’ll be sharing photos of what exactly my yarn stash entails, tallying up all the yarn I have so I can track how I’m doing with the pare-down, and sharing some of my thoughts on what it means to me to be a minimalist knitter.

My goal? By my birthday next year (June 13, 2011) I want to have knit through all the yarn that was in my home at the beginning of the project, pared down my knitting accessories by at least 50%, and be 90% digital with my pattern library. I also want all of my knitting stuffs – any yarn I’ve got, accessories, and patterns – to be wholly contained by my yarn dresser. The next few days and weeks will be full of a bit more explanation and documentation, but I’m excited to begin this project!

Roll Brim (#65)

Apr 28, 2010

With the weather finally turning a bit nicer, we've been doing a bit of spring cleaning around the house. This means messy office desks, yarn in boxes, and cats who want to be played with more than anything in the world. With all this movement, I wasn't able to get a good shot of the latest hat for the project, but this shot was so cute I had to use it. Blurry as can be, but with Poppleton giving out kisses, I had to share anyhow!

 Specs: Roll Brim by JoAnne Turcotte from Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time; knit with hand-dyed yarn and size 7 bamboo needles.

 A roll brim hat like this is perfect for a last-minute gift or a charitable donation - it can be knitted with any type of yarn, with pretty much any size needles. Definitely one to keep in the knitting arsenal!

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Because we're required to now, the link above is an Amazon Affiliate link. Should you decide to click on it, any purchases you make will gift me with a tad bit of returns. Which I will use to buy more knitting books, natch!

a few presents for my cousin

in my family, we've got lots of cousins who aren't really related by blood. such is the case with Mike and Sara. Mike's mom is my god-mother, so we grew up together, and consider one another family to be sure. while neither of us was able to make it to the others wedding, we've since made up for it thanks to amazing Mediterranean food and even better conversation.

when i found out Sara was pregnant, i immediately began plotting the knitting i would be doing. so when i found out they didn't want to find out the baby's sex, i had to put on the brakes slightly. on hold are my visions of sweaters and blankets (perfect First Christmas presents to be sure!), and on board were a few projects good for either a boy or a girl.

recently received in their mail box was this little group of hand-knits. perfect for the spring and summer months, none of the yarn is too heavy. and perfect for parents who can't wait to be surprised by their new little one, two hats - one in a girl-friendly color and one for a super tough boy - were included in the package. they have promised to donate whichever one they don't use to the hospital, so another babe can look super-fly in their handmade hat!

the pants are from my favorite baby pants pattern, Kanoko Pants by ymymmylm. meant to be knit with cotton yarn, i ended up using a bamboo blend to make these babies easy, breezy, and summer-ready. hopefully the little one can wear these all spring and summer long, and even into the fall!

the hats are made from my favorite baby hat pattern, Cabled Baby Hats by Hey Julie. Perfect to stretch over not just a newborn's head, but to fit for quite a few months, i love all the cabley goodness this hat has to offer! and the sleep sack is my own pattern - i'll be sharing it here in a few days with you, but it's been available for free download on Ravelry for quite some time.

I love how it can double as wrapping for all your baby hand-knits, and will help keep the little one warm on blustery nights! i can't wait to meet the newest little member of my amazing family, get to know him or her a bit, and then get to work on some Christmas presents!

C.C. Eyelets (#64)

Apr 26, 2010

Spring in Omaha means some days are warm and sunny, while others are cold and dreary. The last few days have been of the "cold and dreary" variety - thank goodness I got shots of this eyelet hat while the sun was shining earlier in the week!

The Eyelets hat comes from one of my favorite knitting books of all time - Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time. Full of patterns that are perfect for charity knitting, the book also profiles tons of great charities that would love to receive your handmade items! This eyelet hat is profiled as perfect for those going through chemo, but I re-purposed the pattern for the One Hundred Hats pattern no problem! Soft wool and not a single change in pattern, and in one short day I had a gorgeous hat!

Specs: C.C. Eyelets hat by Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time ; knit using stash green yarn and size 6 bamboo needles.

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Because we're required to do so, I'm letting you know that links in this post are Amazon Associates links. If you click on them and then purchase a book, I get a small commission, which I'll use to purchase more knitting books!

renovations and knitting

it's been quite the busy weekend! we started renovations on our extra bedroom - soon to be my brother Dan's bedroom for the summer. one of the last rooms we need to redo, it needs new floors, new windows, and some new paint. we got started on the new floors part this weekend - ripping up the carpet, pulling up all the padding and staples, and laying down the new sub-floor.

while working on all this, i also managed to cast on a new hat. an acquaintance is going on a book tour this fall, and i offered to knit her a turquoise hat to wear as she tours around the country. and with her good eye, she picked one of my favorite hat patterns - Pasha.

who knew turquoise yarn was not only extremely difficult to find, but even harder to photograph!? even after serious adjustments on the computer (something i'm not normally a fan of) the color still doesn't match the gorgeousness of the hat.

hopefully, as i finish up the hat i'll be able to figure out a way to photograph the color better so you can all see how perfectly the color and the pattern blend together. turquoise is definitely one of Shauna's favorite colors, and as i knit this hat it's fast becoming one of mine as well!

Seven Computer Tips and Tricks For Knitters

Apr 23, 2010

I know some knitters are still leery of computer-use when it comes to their needles and yarn, but as the world moves ever-faster to a digital society, there’s a lot of use you can get from your desktop or laptop. Here’s a few ideas to get you started - and best of all? Not one of these ideas will cost you a dime!

1. Set up Google Reader alerts for Ravelry groups. A reader over at One Hundred Hats shared this idea, and I think it’s a great one. You can set up your favorite groups in your feed reader, so you know you’re always up on what’s happening!

2. Use Excel for charting. Have a pattern you’d love to see a chart for, but one’s not included? Use Excel (or any other similar program) to chart it out yourself! I’ve been doing that as I get into color work, and it’s been a lifesaver.

3. Store your patterns. As more patterns are becoming available in PDF form, it’s become easier and easier to store those patterns on your computer. I’m going so far as to scan the books I have as well, so I always have a pattern with me when I need it. If you do this, however be sure you’re using the patterns for personal use ONLY, and not sharing them on Flickr, Ravelry, etc.

4. Connect with a charity. Websites like Charity Craft Connect are a great way to get connected with charities in your area {or around the globe!} that accept handmade goods. As more charities turn to crafters to help supply basic needs to the people they serve, the Internet is becoming the perfect way to connect givers to those in need.

5. Track your hand-knits on Ravelry. More knitters everyday are joining in with the phenomenon that is Ravelry. You can find patterns by the million {maybe thousands, but it grows everyday}, and connect with knitters from around the globe. But what I love best about it? I can track the items I’m knitting. As long as I snap a picture of it {and sometimes even if I don’t} I add it to Ravelry, linking it to the pattern I’ve used and writing in any notes I made while knitting. It’s a great record of my crafting, and helps when I think, “I’d love to make another one of X, but I don’t remember what the pattern was or the mods I made.” Now I do!

6. Show off your knits with a Flickr account. Flickr is free to use {with an option to buy more space at a nominal cost}, and a great way to keep photos of your hand-knits safe and sound. Bonus? You can tag the photos, and instantly share your work with thousands of other knitters.

7. Twitter your pattern questions. More and more knitters are signing up with Twitter, which is great if you’ve got a pattern question. Chances are there’s a knitter out there who’s worked the pattern before and can help you out!

There’s so many more ways you can use your computer, and the internet, to simplify your knitting and connect with other knitters. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks?

Seven Computer Tips and Tricks For Knitters

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some posts from my personal blog, A Devine Life. This is one of them, originally published on December 14, 2009.

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I know some knitters are still leery of computer-use when it comes to their needles and yarn, but as the world moves ever-faster to a digital society, there’s a lot of use you can get from your desktop or laptop. Here’s a few ideas to get you started - and best of all? Not one of these ideas will cost you a dime!

1. Set up Google Reader alerts for Ravelry groups. A reader over at One Hundred Hats shared this idea, and I think it’s a great one. You can set up your favorite groups in your feed reader, so you know you’re always up on what’s happening!

2. Use Excel for charting. Have a pattern you’d love to see a chart for, but one’s not included? Use Excel (or any other similar program) to chart it out yourself! I’ve been doing that as I get into color work, and it’s been a lifesaver.

3. Store your patterns. As more patterns are becoming available in PDF form, it’s become easier and easier to store those patterns on your computer. I’m going so far as to scan the books I have as well, so I always have a pattern with me when I need it. If you do this, however be sure you’re using the patterns for personal use ONLY, and not sharing them on Flickr, Ravelry, etc.

4. Connect with a charity. Websites like Charity Craft Connect are a great way to get connected with charities in your area {or around the globe!} that accept handmade goods. As more charities turn to crafters to help supply basic needs to the people they serve, the Internet is becoming the perfect way to connect givers to those in need.

5. Track your hand-knits on Ravelry. More knitters everyday are joining in with the phenomenon that is Ravelry. You can find patterns by the million {maybe thousands, but it grows everyday}, and connect with knitters from around the globe. But what I love best about it? I can track the items I’m knitting. As long as I snap a picture of it {and sometimes even if I don’t} I add it to Ravelry, linking it to the pattern I’ve used and writing in any notes I made while knitting. It’s a great record of my crafting, and helps when I think, “I’d love to make another one of X, but I don’t remember what the pattern was or the mods I made.” Now I do!

6. Show off your knits with a Flickr account. Flickr is free to use {with an option to buy more space at a nominal cost}, and a great way to keep photos of your hand-knits safe and sound. Bonus? You can tag the photos, and instantly share your work with thousands of other knitters.

7. Twitter your pattern questions. More and more knitters are signing up with Twitter, which is great if you’ve got a pattern question. Chances are there’s a knitter out there who’s worked the pattern before and can help you out!

There’s so many more ways you can use your computer, and the internet, to simplify your knitting and connect with other knitters. What are some of your favorite tips and tricks?

green all over

Apr 22, 2010
it's felt cold and dreary the last few days, which has definitely affected my moods. i find i've been knitting hat after hat in green, willing the weather to be sunny, the flowers to bloom, and the green grass and leaves to push the dreary weather away.
a green hat, rolled brim and hand-dyed yarn. green after green, did i not tell you! people must be tired over at the One Hundred Hats project of seeing green hat after green hat!
if that were not enough, i've also got a scarf on the needles - one i'd promised to a friend ages ago. green, but by her choosing in this case. i am using the star stitch pattern used by Vickie Howell recently for a Craft Hope drive, and am loving every minute of it.

Ganomey (#63)

Apr 20, 2010

By the end of last week, I'd been knitting the same hat for four days - probably the longest I'd knit one single hat since the beginning of the project - and I was still not even halfway done. Frustrated with my progress, I had a full day of "Knitting sucks!" thoughts before I decided to put down the hat I'd been working on and pick up something new.

Enter Ganomey.

Leave it to Elizabeth Zimmerman to cure my “knitting stinks!” attitude I was sporting yesterday! In an effort to start knocking down many birds with one stone, I cast on the Ganomey hat right after work. Not only was I working on another one of the One Hundred Hats, I was also knitting one Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern (the goal is ten) AND knitting something from one of my craft books (I want to knit something from each of them). Add to all that excitement the fact that, as of my lunchtime, I was completely done with the hat, ends woven in and photographs taken – less than 24 hours after casting on – and I may have found the perfect “rainy day attitude” knitting pattern!

Ganomey is the perfect introduction to Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns – she tends to write very succinct directions, leaving much to the knitter to work through on her own. Perfect for those who love the joy of figuring things out, but it can be scary for those who are used to being handed directions that spell out the increases and decreases of a project line by line {like me}. Over the course of the last eight months (can I really have been knitting hats for that long?!)

I’ve learned enough about hat construction that the succinct explanations given by EZ didn’t scare me as much as they had a year ago – I was ready to jump in and increase and decrease my way to an adorable (hopefully!) hat to add to the One Hundred Hats collection. And as the increases and decreases created an adorable and fun hat that fits my head perfectly, I began to have visions of hundreds of these hats adorning the heads of children and adults alike all over the world!

I was so excited about this idea I almost abandoned the entire basis of the One Hundred Hats pattern so I could make the next 40 or so hats in the project using just this pattern. Alas, that is not the intent of my hats project, so I will have to leave my Ganomey love for another project.

For now, I’m satisfied knowing I’ve found a hat pattern I want to gift to everyone, make over and over, and that can be done in just under a day. Knitting attitude, be gone! Specs: Ganomey hat by Elizabeth Zimmerman; knit using stash dark green yarn and size 8 needles.

Slouch (#62)

Apr 19, 2010

Last week was super busy - knitting away on a plethora of projects, both personal and for this project. I've been trying to get myself ahead of the game, and I think it might be working! A cute hat, Slouch was a quick knit. I probably should have made it a bit longer before I started the decreases, but I was running out of yarn so I made the decision to begin the decreases. It still fits wonderfully, and will definitely keep someone's ears super warm!

Specs: JC Slouchy Hat by Sandy Satre (Ravelry link); knit using blue stash yarn and size 8 bamboo needles.

the spring game tradition grows

Apr 18, 2010
One of our family traditions is the annual trek west to Lincoln for the Huskers Spring Game. While most schools have a few hundred people show up to their spring game, Nebraska sells out the stadium, we all wear our Husker Red, and the whole day is treated like it's a fall game.




Like any good fan, we kicked off our morning at Sandy's with some Elk Creek - it's like a Long-Island Iced Tea, but with with orange juice and some fizzy added. Once we're good and morning-tipsy, it's time to head off to the stadium.



Just like at a fall game, when the first points are scored we all release balloons - it's all very non-friendly to the environment, but I take extra care to pick up trash and recycle the rest of the year to make up for it.





{cutest couple award!}

We tend to only last until just after halftime, when we head back downtown to designate a driver, the rest of us drink some more, and then we head back to Omaha.

Always a good time! Bonus? It looks like we've got a good team again this year, Ndamukong Suh showed up and got a standing ovation when he shared his desire to donate MILLIONS of dollars to the university for scholarship funds, and there's only 139 days until the first fall game!

GO BIG RED!

The Story: Channah

Apr 14, 2010
Israel 3 In an effort to recognize I am not alone in my desire to cover the world in hand-knits, I’m sharing the stories of fellow crafters who are using their knitting for good.

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

Today I'm lucky to share with you Channah's story. She started Hats For Israeli Soldiers, and now collects over 2,000 hats a year!

1. Let us know a bit more about you, and about Hats For Israeli Soldiers! I was born in New York, grew up in Montreal and have been living in Israel for almost 24 years. I work freelance in communications, writing and producing brochures, websites and promotional videos. My husband and I have four fabulous children.

My mom taught me to knit when I was a teenager. I made a scarf and a vest (this was back in the late 70's, early 80's) and then didn't do any more knitting until about 5 years ago.

How I got started again: My mother was visiting and knitting some sweet baby hats in bright cottons (Takhi Cotton Classic, I believe). My teenage daughter was intrigued, so the next time she came to visit, my mom brought along more of the cotton yarn, a simple hat pattern (stockinette with rolled brim) and some needles and taught her how to knit. Well, my daughter started working on a hat, got the idea and put it aside. I saw it lying abandoned on the couch and picked it up out of curiousity. As soon as I started knitting again, I was hooked. I'd simply forgotten how satisfying it is.

Soon, of course, I was shopping for yarns and looking up patterns online. After a while, I wondered who else in my area knits (it's not so common here) and thought it'd be nice to sometimes exchange information and tips with others. I started a little local knit/crochet group called "Chicks with Sticks" and we began meeting once every few weeks at people's homes. It soon became a regular thing and now we meet at a local cafe once every 2 weeks.

Anyway, at one of those meetings in someone's home, one of the woman said, "How about we do some charity knitting?" We discussed the idea and someone suggested that we do something for soldiers. My son was serving as a paratrooper in the Israeli army at that time, so I was despatched to find out what they might need. I spoke to him and his commanders and we came up with the idea of knitted hats. I made a sample, sent it in for approval (to make sure it'd conform with their dress code) and we were off.
Israel 1
Our little group made 10 hats for my son's unit, the soldiers were happy and all was well. Then...other soldiers saw the hats and wanted some too. I wasn't sure if we could make enough ourselves so I put out a notice on my local community chat list. That’s when the power of the internet took over. It seems that everyone knows someone who knits. People started forwarding my notice to their relatives, to other community groups, to synagogue groups, schools, old age homes etc. Soon I was getting handknit hats from all over the world. Hundreds of them. I had a label made up to be sewn in all the hats that says “Knit for you with warmth and love” (in Hebrew), got flyers printed with the pattern and partnered up with another organization to help with the distribution.

The first year we gave out 2000 hats, the second year 4000 and this year we’re past the 3000 mark already, and more keep coming in. The soldiers keep asking for them, too. Some of the hats I distribute personally, to the units of soldiers I know who are serving in combat duty, and others are distributed through Barbara Silverman’s organization “A Package from Home” that makes care packages for “lone soldiers” – soldiers who don’t have family in Israel.

Israel 2
You can read more about it, see pix of the soldiers in our handknit hats and download the pattern at Hats for Israeli Soldiers.

I’m a little embarrassed that I haven’t updated for a long time, but I do have some new photos that should be going up soon, and – this is really new – a crochet pattern for those who prefer crocheting to knitting.

2. Is there a quote, piece of advice, or nugget of truth you’ve carried with you on your knitting journey? I don’t know if I’m consistently changing anything, but my knitting is pleasurable for me and hopefully also for others – from family members that I gift with my handiwork to the thousands of soldiers doing guard duty in the middle of the night who I hope have been warmed up a bit, both body and soul.
Thinking about it a bit more, I think the Chicks with Sticks group I established and run has also been a friendly, supportive entity for many people in my community. We’re a disparate group, of different ages and backgrounds, who enjoy each other’s company and encourage each other, both in crafting and in general.
Israel 4
I don’t see myself as on a knitting journey that’s separate from my general life journey. I’ve been an Orthodox Jew all my life, and this is a community in which helping others and doing charitable work is just a regular, almost taken-for-granted, part of life…so the whole Hats for Soldiers thing just grew naturally within that context.

My own knitting for myself and family or friends is just something pleasurable that I do – a creative outlet that results in a satisfyingly concrete product.

3. What would be your knitting dream? My advice to other knitters would be – enjoy! My dream would be to have lots and lots of time to play around with my yarn and needles, without guilt about all the other things I could/should be doing with my time J

4. What are your favorite materials to work with? Wool! There’s nothing like it. I like sheep, too.

5. Who are some of your knitting influencers? I guess I’d have to say my mom, who taught me to knit and continues to craft (also crochet and needlepoint) to this day.

6. What is the legacy you want to leave? Uh oh, that’s a biggie. The most I can say is that the qualities that most appeal to me in others, that I aspire to live by too, are: Be modest and seek out ways to be kind to those around you.

knit knit knitting away


some days it feels like i go from work to knitting to sleep, and back around again. most days i don't think about it, really. i love knitting, knitting for others and for charity especially - but some days all i want to do is curl up on the couch and watch movies, or snuggle up on a porch swing {ah, to have one someday!} with a good book.

maybe the frustration comes when i'm stuck on a particularly frustrating hat, which is exactly where i'm at right now. after four days of knitting on the same hat, i feel like it's NEVER going to get finished! looks like it's time to cast on another hat so that i can get more than one hat done this week!

sometimes i have to do that - pick a new hat pattern and work through that one before going back to the pattern that's giving me trouble. with all the different items i've got on the needles right now, one more cast on won't hurt me that much!

plus, it gives me the chance to get started on a few of my life goals - knit something from every one of my knitting books, and maybe even cast on an Elizabeth Zimmerman hat to start working on my "knit 10 EZ patterns" if i'm feeling particularly randy.

here's to knitting more than one thing at a time! maybe someday soon i'll get that porch swing so i can knit from my front porch - enjoy the weather while i whip up some fast hats!

Lucky 7's (#61)

Apr 12, 2010

Whew! After a whirl-wind weekend of knitting and getting some great stuff done to the house {including my husband fixing our stairs - a project we thought would end up taking MONTHS - in approximately an hour!}, I seem to have run out of steam when it came time to take photos of some of the hats I've gotten knitted. Don't believe me? Check out the completely UN-inspiring photo for the latest hat in the project, Lucky 7's!

I must be on a jag wherein my stitches are ending up a bit tighter, because this hat was meant to fit my head loosely. Um, nope! And between the smallness of the hat, the super sun that's shining today {it's got to be 80 degrees outside!} and the discovery that flowy sleeves make me look a good eight inches wider in photos than I am, I'm not at all happy with the way the documentation of this hat turned out.

I am, however, in love love LOVE with the Lucky 7's hat pattern, and have added it to my list of "must knit again" patterns! The free pattern works up fast and gorgeous - seven cables around, knit seven times, crossing on the seventh row each time means whoever ends up in this hat will be one lucky little guy indeed! Those looking for a fun cabled hat to have at the ready for fall/winter gifts would be smart to pick this pattern up from Ravelry post-haste - you won't regret it!  

Specs: Lucky 7's hat by weezalana {Ravelry link}; knit using stashed blue wool and size 8 bamboo needles.

Using Green Yarn

Apr 8, 2010
Green yarn – and I don’t mean the color here – can be much harder to find than I realized! Thanks to a wonderfully in-depth article over at Petite Purls, I’ve learned more about the process of making yarn, things to look for when buying yarn in the future, and much more.

Realistically, most of the yarn I use isn’t very green. I use acrylics for baby gifts because most of the new moms I know don’t want to have to hand-wash daily use items. I use Big Box craft store wools because of the ease of purchase. In general, I don’t think much of where my yarn comes from, just about how it will be used.

As I’ve been de-stashing, knitting through what I’ve got (an intrinsically “green” action) and thinking about future yarn purchases, I have yet to think in terms of "green yarns". But if I truly want to change the world, one hand-knit at a time, to do so at the expense of the environment, using chemically-treated yarns might not be the best way.

Thanks to the PP article, I’ve come up with a few guidelines I’d like to follow for future yarn purchases. While it may take me some time to get to the “ideal place” with my Green Yarn purchases, these are some ways I can start.

 Purchase my wool from sellers like Manos Del Uruguay and Peace Fleece. The environmental impact of the yarn traveling to me from farther away if off-set {in my mind} by the types of companies I’ll be supporting.  

Buy as much yarn from my LYS as possible, avoiding the Big Box yarn sections, even if they are more convenient. In this way I'll be supporting locally-owned business, along with supporting smaller yarn manufacturers, which are more often stocked in yarn shops versus big box stores.  

Any acrylic I need to buy, consider purchasing off someone on Ravelry first. This way, I’m reusing something that another person wants to de-stash, and not buying new.  

Pick up sweaters at thrift shops and unwinding them for their yarn. Time consuming for sure, but for charity projects such as hats and mittens, reusing yarn like this is a great alternative to buying new.  

Buy as much Brown Sheep Yarn as possible! This is a Nebraska-based company, and they are known for purchasing wool from smaller farms to help keep them in business – on both sides of the transaction! With all of this, my larger goal is to keep my yarn stash smaller than ever {my yarn dresser is not that large, and I’d like to keep it contained to that space} and use up even the tiniest of ends in my work.

I’m starting to set up systems to save my remnants better {sorting by type when it comes to yarns I use most often, and then by fiber and WPI (wraps per inch) for random bits, so I can use every last yard in color-work and Leftovers Blankets. I’m also trying to only purchase yarn on a project-by-project basis, rather than my previous “this yarn looks pretty, I think I’ll buy it!” mentality.

How do you “go green” with your knitting? Have you thought about it at all previous to today? Are there fun tips and tricks I haven’t discovered yet that can help me along?

Using Green Yarn

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some posts from my personal blog, A Devine Life. This is one of them, originally published on March 17, 2010.

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Green yarn – and I don’t mean the color here – can be much harder to find than I realized! Thanks to a wonderfully in-depth article over at Petite Purls, I’ve learned more about the process of making yarn, things to look for when buying yarn in the future, and much more.

Realistically, most of the yarn I use isn’t very green. I use acrylics for baby gifts because most of the new moms I know don’t want to have to hand-wash daily use items. I use Big Box craft store wools because of the ease of purchase. In general, I don’t think much of where my yarn comes from, just about how it will be used.

As I’ve been de-stashing, knitting through what I’ve got (an intrinsically “green” action) and thinking about future yarn purchases, I have yet to think in terms of Green Yarns. But if I truly want to change the world, one hand-knit at a time, to do so at the expense of the environment, using chemically-treated yarns might not be the best way.

Thanks to the PP article, I’ve come up with a few guidelines I’d like to follow for future yarn purchases. While it may take me some time to get to the “ideal place” with my Green Yarn purchases, these are some ways I can start.
  1. Purchase my wool from sellers like Manos Del Uruguay and Peace Fleece. The environmental impact of the yarn travelling to me from farther away if off-set {in my mind} by the types of companies I’ll be supporting.

  2. Buy as much yarn from my LYS as possible, avoiding the Big Box yarn sections, even if they are more convenient.

  3. Any acrylic I need to buy, consider purchasing off someone on Ravelry first. This way, I’m reusing something that another person wants to de-stash, and not buying new.

  4. Consider picking up sweaters at thrift shops and unwinding them for their yarn. Time consuming for sure, but for charity projects such as hats and mittens, reusing yarn like this is a great alternative to buying new.

  5. Buy as much Brown Sheep Yarn as possible! This is a local-ish company {same state!}, and they are known for their purchasing of wool from smaller farms to help keep them in business – on both sides of the transaction!

With all of this, my larger goal is to keep my yarn stash smaller than ever {my yarn dresser is not that large, and I’d like to keep it contained to that space} and use up even the tiniest of ends in my work.
I’m starting to set up systems to save my remnants better {sorting by type when it comes to yarns I use most often, and then by fiber and WPI for random bits} so I can use every last yard in color-work and Leftovers Blankets.
I’m only purchasing yarn on a project-by-project basis, rather than my previous “this yarn looks pretty, I think I’ll buy it!” mentality.
How do you “go green” with your knitting? Have you thought about it at all previous to today? Are there fun tips and tricks I haven’t discovered yet that can help me along?

The Story: Cathy Mann

Cathy In an effort to recognize I am not alone in my desire to cover the world in hand-knits, I’m sharing the stories of fellow crafters who are using their knitting for good.

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

1. Let us know a bit more about you! I am a 47 yr old wife/mom I was born in Council Bluffs, IA and have never lived anywhere else. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 28 years. We have 2 daughters our oldest is 22 years old and is married to a wonderful man, she will student teach in the fall. Our baby is in the 8th grade and she is my knitting partner.

We were taught to knit in the summer of 2009, we go a resort in Minnesota and the owner’s wife purchased the local knitting shop. One rainy afternoon she suggested we come in to learn to knit. We are such newbies the only needles we have are #8 bamboo, we have made some dish cloths and some scarves. I got a couple of knitting books for Christmas but we are in awe of circular needles! When I read the article about you in the Herald I was just so impressed.

4. What would be your knitting dream? I am hoping to learn more as I go, I would love to knit items for members of my family (my husband was the recipient of my first scarf!) But to make items for the next generation of our family would be wonderful. I think it would be pretty cool if and when I make hats to be able to donate them to an organization.

6. Who are some of your knitting influencers? You! and my friend who had the patience to teach this old dog a new trick

7. What is the legacy you want to leave? It would be wonderful if my daughters/grandchildren (to be) would have things that I made. I had aunts that I still have/use items that they made for me for wedding gifts.
I love sitting down and knitting, I find it calming and relaxing (unless I make a mistake!) I have never been a crafty person so for me to have learned this I am so happy to say that I knit no matter how basic.

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This week's profile is special because Cathy won a Newsletter contest! She will be helping me design a hat for the One Hundred Hats project - she'll work with me on color choice as well as pattern.

Israel In Maroon (#60)

Apr 7, 2010

I've been taking some time to finish up some baby knits I need to get shipped off as presents in the next few days, so hat posting has been light to be sure. I have managed to knit my way through one hat at least in the last few days, however.

Channah Koppel is a woman who collects hats for Israeli soldiers through a charity she started - Hats for Israeli Soldiers. Unlike here in America, all young men and women are required to serve in the Israeli army for a period of two to three years, so military service is simply part of a young person's life.

Channah is a mom who has a son serving in the army, and began collecting hats for the young men and women she knew. The project grew by leaps and bounds, and now she collects over 2,000 hats a year! This maroon version of the hat is going to be donated along with the other 100 hats I'm knitting, but I have committed to knitting another hat in black, according to charitable specifications, as a thank you for giving the hat pattern for free to the knitting universe.  

Specs: Ribbed Watchman's Hat, by Channah Koppel; knit using leftover maroon yarn from my stash and size 8 bamboo needles.

How I Do It

Apr 2, 2010
Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some posts from my personal blog, A Devine Life. This is one of them, originally posted on August 17, 2009.

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On the wake of posting a slew of new finished objects, I'm going to answer a question posed in the comments, one I get asked more often than I care to admit. Simply put, "how do I do it all?"

In truth, there is SO much I don't do. Which, I know, is the most trite and common answer you hear from bloggers. But I just vaccuumed for the first time in months (seriously. it was gross), we rarely eat home-cooked meals, and I spend most of my days and nights on the computer.

My response to the "how I do it all" question fell into a different category than this general admittance of sloth and disgusting living. I think that the how it all gets done question can be answered in two ways.

First, I think my brain moves like 10 times faster than other brains. Which sounds arrogant, but I tend to lose track of time, days and weeks blend together because by the time everyone else has processed an idea or a plan I'm already three steps into things or have moved on completely to others. Couple this with an almost sickening OCD-like love of planning and lists, and by the time I put one of my plans into action, the whole thing is divided into easily followable steps. I'm convinced, in fact, that just about anyone could take one of my big plans and complete it just fine thanks to my psychotically thorough notes.

Second, at least when it comes to my knitting, I carry a project with me everywhere. Literally everywhere. Case in point?

This is my knitting project, one of about four on the needles currently. It's sitting with me on a blanket at a concert last week. That's right, I took knitting with me to an outdoor concert. I got some strange looks as I went through security, that's for sure! I've brought my knitting to football games, movies, and will knit if I'm in the passenger seat for more than 5 minutes. These moments of knitting add up!

I'm completely aware of the fact that this pace cannot last forever. Someday we will start a family, and my crafting time will be cut in half (at the very least!), the time taken up by babies and more family time. But for now, I work at a frenetic pace, and hopefully you all enjoy the benefits!

Preemie Hats (#57-#59)

Apr 1, 2010

Who doesn't love adorable baby knits? I get sucked in at least once a week on Ravelry, favoriting and queuing up dozens of adorable baby knits before having to reign myself back in! Thanks to this project, however, I'm able to keep the baby hats in the queue for the days that I want/need a quick hat fix.

These three lovelies are thanks to a pattern from Carissa Knits - five patterns actually, with a ribbed and a striped version of the baby/preemie hat to round out the whole (free!) deal. I had just enough yarn to knit up these three - the diamond version, the eyelet version, and the heart version - while away last weekend. They were the perfect traveling companions to be sure, although I had to continually explain that I was in fact knitting them for babes that are not my own.

Specs: preemie hats by Carissa Knits (free patterns); knit with stash green DK weight yarn and size 5 bamboo DPNS.
 
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