Minimalist Monday: Kicking Bad Idea Yarn Skeins To The Curb, Part One

Aug 30, 2010
Many of us are getting ready to celebrate Labor Day here in the States, and this last hurrah of summer has left me looking forward to fall weather – fall means cardigans and warm socks, hand-knit hats and campfires! Fall also means the kick-off of a new weekly column – Minialist Mondays!

Now that I’ve done the initial work of paring down my yarn stash, needles, and notions, I’ve found that it’s easy to get complacent with my minimalist journey. To help combat that, and to help you all dig a bit deeper into the idea of minimalist knitting, I’m going to offer up a weekly dose of advice designed to help you pare down your yarn stashes, figure out which projects and needles you love, and move towards a minimalist knitter lifestyle.

To kick it off this month, we’re going to focus on Bad Idea Yarn Skeins. These are the skeins we bought when we first started knitting or were gifted to us by well-meaning non-knitters. This is yarn that we once thought we would love, but after trying desperately to fit it to a project have realized we may never actually knit it up. Most of all, this is the yarn that we hide at the back of our knitting stash, embarrassed and ashamed that we have it.

I say NO MORE!

It’s time we rid ourselves of these skeins of yarn, either by knitting them up, giving them to other knitters who will actually use them, or sending them off to the donation bins! All month we’ll focus on identifying our bad idea yarn skeins, what we can do with them, and how to release the attachment to yarn you’ll never actually use.

 For this week, start out by identifying what yarn in your stash can be considered a Bad Idea skein. Separate it from the herd into its own containers – no matter how few or how many skeins you have, don’t let any yarn that you consider a Bad Idea skein languish in your working yarn stash any longer!

Next week we’ll start dividing this bin out into useable and non-useable piles and sfiguring out what to do with all that yarn, but for now, simply separate those skeins out. Some tips to consider:
  • Work in 15 minute increments. Most knitters have rather large stashes, and to try to tackle the whole lot in one afternoon will likely send you over the edge.

  • Take each shelf or bin separately. Trying to look at all your yarn at once may make you hyperventilate! By focusing on one small area, you can make better choices.

  • Look at each skein of yarn separately. Don’t consider skeins in relation to the rest of your stash – you may easily convince yourself that while you loathe a certain skein, you could probably pare it with another, less revolting skein. Don’t do it!

  • Drink a big glass of water before you begin each session. This will help you stay alert, make sure your tummy feels full – which will help keep you from rash decisions – and will symbolically fill you. Besides, fiber makes me thirsty!

 Don’t despair if at the end of the week you have more yarn than you’d thought in your Bad Idea skeins pile – and don’t be discouraged if you have less. Whatever you are able to separate is the perfect amount for September. I’ll be back to share my photos of my Bad Idea Skeins pare down next week, along with our next step! Are you playing along? Let us all know in the comments so we can cheer one another on!

Favorites: Ladies Who Blog

Aug 26, 2010
Aside from the knitting blogs I read, the next big category of blogs I love are those written by women. Some are crafty, some carry a huge dose of humor. Some are all about inspiration and some share tips and tricks I love to snag. Some are single, some are married. Some are moms, some are not. How do I categorize these women who blog? I call them amazing, and leave it at that.

Here is a list of the ones I would miss seriously and with great sobbing if they were gone {in alphabetical order, since I could come up with no better way}.
Andrea Scher. (@andreascher) Just when I think she can't get more chock-full of inspiration, Andrea busts out another to-the-point post that digs right at the heart of where I’m at and what I need. From her jewelry to her e-classes on living your best and fullest life, Andrea’s world is colorful and beautiful for miles.

Boho Girl. (@bohophoto) Denise speaks to the hippie in me on a daily basis. Her love of her boho family, her love of organic and healthy living, and her love of nature and spending time when she can by the water all speak to my soul. Open about her fertility struggles and eventual adoption, Denise reminds me that all paths to family are correct.

Chookooloonks. (@chookooloonks) Photography, beauty, peace and love. Chookaloonks reminds me of the neo-hippies I used to envy – totally put together and brilliant, yet floating through life with such an eye for detail and beauty that I could never begin to imagine having in my world. Thanks to Karen I’m realizing this life might not be as unattainable as I once thought.

Danielle LaPorte. (@daniellelaporte) White Hot Truth, it ain’t no joke! Danielle rocks me each time she posts – dolling out permission to create and offering sage advice for working your hustle in bite-sized bursts that pack quite a punch!

Dooce. (@dooce) Her design sensibilities amaze and humble me, and I love how open and honest she is about her thoughts and feelings. Her accosting of Gwyneth Paltrow while in NYC recently makes me think we could definitely enjoy a few drinks together – Heather, call me!

Elise Blaha. (@eliseblaha) Crafty maven Elise discusses memory-keeping for the younger generations. Her blog is packed full of ideas for keeping track of your life and celebrating every minute – I turn to her blog when I need a dose of beauty and reminders that all those little moments definitely do matter.

Gala Darling. (@galadarling) Whip-smart. Gossip Girl on Acid style that I envy. Gala reminds her readers to look for the love and the light in their days, and encourages us to follow our dreams, whatever they may be. All about loving ones-self to the hilt, she lives her life out loud and with no regrets.

Gwen Bell. (@gwenbell) Envious short hair and adorable husband. Gwen reminded me that I should be sending out more cards, and that it’s okay to seek out the divine in my days. Lanky, gorgeous and self-confident for days, Gwen helps her readers find the balance between their online and on-the-mat lives.

Hula Seventy. (@hulaseventy) Beauty in photographs, this lady is a dancer, and her writing flows like movement to music. I love how creative she is with her family, and how she unabashedly disappears when she needs time to just live.

Susannah Conway. (@photobird) Susannah reminds me to open myself up, to let life in by the handful, and to share it freely. Through struggle this amazing woman came into herself and is now helping others do the same!

Kandee The Make-Up Artist. Kandee is a hugger. She shares really great advice on how to look the part even when you don’t yet have the part. Thanks to Kandee I have whiter teeth, a plan for my bangs, and an eyebrow shape that fits my face. Never underestimate the power of a good eyebrow, people.

Maggie Mason. (@maggie) Looking for a kick in the pants when it comes to living your best life, rocking your best wardrobe, or simply documenting it all with style? Maggie’s the gal for you. Her Mighty Closet series has me coveting a more streamlined and sassy look, her Life List has inspired thousands, and you just know she's not going to stop challenging us all to live to the hilt anytime soon!

New Nostalgia. (@MyNewNostalgia) I have the pleasure of knowing Amy in real life, and I promise she’s as tremendous as she seems. Her tips for living a simplified life with a husband and three kids translate to anyone’s life, and her recipes can’t be beat!
 
{image credit}

Minimalism and Passion: Brooks Palmer

Aug 25, 2010
brookspalmer.pngAlmost every Wednesday I post short interviews with passionate people, digging into their thoughts on minimalism.

As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.

Today's interview is with Brooks Palmer, the man behind the Clutter Busting Blog and the book Clutter Busting. I've been reading Brooks' blog for many months now, and have learned a lot about how people connect their clutter with their emotions, and how we all need to de-clutter our inner lives in order to best de-clutter our outer lives.

MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?

BP: I found that I think better when there's less stuff around me. Plus I really like open space. I love the feeling of being outdoors in my home. It makes my mind and body relax. Plus it inspires me with new helpful creative ideas.

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?

BP: I found that new things and opportunities come to me out of nowhere and quickly. I like writing and recording songs. My two guitars sit out in the open space. When inspiration appears, I feel pulled towards the guitars and easily pick them up and begin playing. Too much stuff felt like obstacles. I figured there was enough obstacles out there in the world, so it was nice to have a creatively friendly and encouraging home.

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?

BP: When there's less stuff, there's less noise. Too many things makes my space feel loud. With less stuff, there's a really nice quietness pervading my home. Its out of that quietness that that my creativity thrives. I also write stories and draw cartoons and pastel paintings. They all come out of the quietness. It's funny because I don't consider myself a minimalist. But I naturally enjoy living that way.  

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?

BP: This doesn't consistently trip me up, but now and then there's paying bills, answering emails, and other various errands. I try and take care of things right away. I notice if I don't, then my mind gets distracted by all the things I need to do.

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion and are exploring minimalism?

BP: It's nice not having distractions constantly vying for my attention. It's easy to get caught up in the adrenalin rush of all the stuff, but it's not very satisfying. It feels better to save myself for the things that actually matter to me. It's nicer having the peace of mind.

+  +  +  +  +

Want to share your story of Minimalism and Passion? Shoot me an e-mail {rmcdevine@gmail.com} with your answers to the questions in this interview, and I’ll share it on the blog!

Six Ways To Donate Your Finished Knits

Aug 24, 2010
No matter your knitting productivity levels {how fast you knit, how many finished knits you produce in a year}, as a knitter you will quickly hit a point where knits are taking over your home.

Whether you’re a sock knitter or a sweater knitter, you will run out of time to wear all your gorgeous hand-knits, and your friends and family will start to look less and less excited when you gift them another pair of mittens. charity-knits-200x300.jpg

When this happens, it’s time to start donating your hand-knits to charity!

While I tend to donate the large majority of what I make, even sending one or two items to someone in need can make a huge difference in a person’s life.

If you’re brand new to charity knitting however, it can feel overwhelming to begin. How can you knit something for charity if you don’t know where to send it?!

Here’s a list of some great places to donate your finished hand-knits, along with some of the items they most like to collect, so you can start to focus your knitting towards charity a bit!

1. Wool-Aid. This international organization is “a community of knitters and crocheters who create warm woolen garments for children who live in the coldest climates and have the least access to resources.” The focus here is on kids, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, living in some of the poorest and most remote areas of the world. Per Wool-Aid guidelines, please use wool, and knit items that will be bulky and warm, as they are going to some of the harshest climates on the planet. The need is greater for children ages 10-16, but items are collected for children of all ages.

2. Donate to your local hospital. Most hospitals gladly accept donations of handmade items for their NICU and PICU areas. The hardest part here is finding a contact – in my case I simply walked into the hospital and up to the NICU and asked who I would talk to about donating some items! Be sure all hand-knits are made with acrylic and/or cotton yarn – wool is not useable here, as items will be washed by the hospital and must be made out of items that are hypoallergenic. Your hospital may have specific needs, but hats, booties, and blankets are a great place to start!

3. Afghans for Afghans. This international organization donates “hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.” This organization works on a campaign-by-campaign basis, so you’ll want to check in regularly or even sign up for e-mail updates so you can be knitting what is most needed!

4. Project Linus. The goal of this organization is “to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer ‘blanketeers.’” Blankets can be knit, crochet, sewn, quilted and fleece tied styles. They must be new, handmade, and washable.

5. Local animal shelter. Shelters around the world are in need of everything from blankets to toys to winter sweaters for the animals they house. Your best bet is to contact your local shelter and ask what they’re collecting. And make sure you use yarn that’s washer/dryer friendly!

6. The Ghana Project. This amazing organization collects squares to be sewn into afghans that are then given to children undergoing surgery in various parts of Africa. All squares must measure7x7 inches, made of acrylic, and can be knit or crochet. As of July 2010 they have donated over 250 blankets!

There are thousands of organizations around the world that collect hand-knits to distribute; these are simply seven options I have used with regularity in the past. A quick Google search will reveal tons more – perfect if you’re looking for a specific way to donate. No matter what, every knitter should take some time out of each year to knit something for donation though. We knitters are already a generous bunch, and this is just one way to show it!

What are some other charities you send your finished knits to? Add them to the comment section so we can have a larger list!

Celebrating One Hundred Hats

Aug 23, 2010

This morning, I posted the photos of the one hundredth hat over at the One Hundred Hats blog, along with a link to the pattern I wrote in celebration {I'll be sharing the same link here in just a little bit}. All week there will be giveaways, people commenting like mad to try to win amazing patterns, books, and so much more that has been generously donated by readers of the blog, fellow crafters who are celebrating this huge accomplishment with me.

To be honest, when I set the goal to knit one hundred hats in one year, I wasn’t really thinking. I didn’t plan out how many hats I’d need to knit a week, figure out which patterns I was going to knit up in advance, or think much about if others would follow the project. I simply decided that I wanted to do it, and picked up some yarn.

In the last year I’ve seen readership to the One Hundred Hats blog ebb and flow, and if I’d done more marketing I’ll bet there would be thousands more people commenting right now to win prizes. That’s okay, though – the reason for doing what I did was not followers, it was life change.

A few weeks before I decided to knit one hundred hats in a year, I decided I wanted to be the kind of person who loved on the world in grand and ridiculous ways. Because I am a knitter, the goal to knit 10,000 items for charity seemed like a natural outpouring of this desire for big love.

To kick off my new habit of grand and loving gestures, I dreamed up the One Hundred Hats project. Now one year later, all I can do is sit back and marvel.

I marvel at what has happened – people around the world who have read about the project are now knitting items for charity as well.

I marvel at what I have been able to accomplish – there will be one hundred people who are much warmer thanks to my efforts.

And I marvel at myself. While I tend to downplay myself a lot, I think it’s perfectly fine to marvel at what I have been able to accomplish. With my two tiny hands and a lot of wool I’ve managed to change my life.

I cannot imagine sitting still without knitting needles in my hands now, where before I was content to let time pass unused. I cannot imagine small-scale projects any longer – I have list upon list of new goals ranging from hundreds of mittens to sweaters for every person in my family.

Most importantly, I can now see that I truly can change the world, one hand-knit at a time. Knitters, stay tuned. I will be taking two months to finish up another big knitting project {more on that next week!} and then I’m turning my focus outward even more. I’m excited to start working together to knit this world a warmer and better place, and hope you’ll join me! +

In the meantime, head on over to the One Hundred Hats blog to participate in all the great giveaways that are happening – there’s tons of amazing stuff to win!

Celebrating One Hundred Hats

This morning, I posted the photos of the one hundredth hat over at the One Hundred Hats blog, along with a link to the pattern I wrote in celebration {I'll be sharing the same link here in just a little bit}. All week there will be giveaways, people commenting like mad to try to win amazing patterns, books, and so much more that has been generously donated by readers of the blog, fellow crafters who are celebrating this huge accomplishment with me.

To be honest, when I set the goal to knit one hundred hats in one year, I wasn’t really thinking. I didn’t plan out how many hats I’d need to knit a week, figure out which patterns I was going to knit up in advance, or think much about if others would follow the project. I simply decided that I wanted to do it, and picked up some yarn.

In the last year I’ve seen readership to the One Hundred Hats blog ebb and flow, and if I’d done more marketing I’ll bet there would be thousands more people commenting right now to win prizes. That’s okay, though – the reason for doing what I did was not followers, it was life change.

A few weeks before I decided to knit one hundred hats in a year, I decided I wanted to be the kind of person who loved on the world in grand and ridiculous ways. Because I am a knitter, the goal to knit 10,000 items for charity seemed like a natural outpouring of this desire for big love.

To kick off my new habit of grand and loving gestures, I dreamed up the One Hundred Hats project. Now one year later, all I can do is sit back and marvel.

I marvel at what has happened – people around the world who have read about the project are now knitting items for charity as well.

I marvel at what I have been able to accomplish – there will be one hundred people who are much warmer thanks to my efforts.

And I marvel at myself. While I tend to downplay myself a lot, I think it’s perfectly fine to marvel at what I have been able to accomplish. With my two tiny hands and a lot of wool I’ve managed to change my life.

I cannot imagine sitting still without knitting needles in my hands now, where before I was content to let time pass unused. I cannot imagine small-scale projects any longer – I have list upon list of new goals ranging from hundreds of mittens to sweaters for every person in my family.

Most importantly, I can now see that I truly can change the world, one hand-knit at a time. Knitters, stay tuned. I will be taking two months to finish up another big knitting project {more on that next week!} and then I’m turning my focus outward even more. I’m excited to start working together to knit this world a warmer and better place, and hope you’ll join me! +

In the meantime, head on over to the One Hundred Hats blog to participate in all the great giveaways that are happening – there’s tons of amazing stuff to win!

#100 - Team Spirit Hat


With fall comes football and showing off your team spirit! As the weather turns chilly, this reversible hat will take you from home games to road games to tailgating in style! 
 
Gauge: 4.5 sts per inch  

Materials needed:
  • US size 8 (5.0 mm) 16” circular needles

  • US size 8 (5.0 mm) DPNs

  • One skein each in three separate colors (referred to as A, B and C)
Finished diameter: 18 (20, 22) inches un-stretched. Hats will stretch another 1-2”.

You can purchase the Team Spirit hat for $3 now - buy now

Review: Personal Branding

Aug 20, 2010
Almost every Friday I review e-books I've either purchased or found for free around the internet. Each was read for a variety of reasons, and if I've found the information share-able, I'm doing so in this way.

This week, I'm reviewing Personal Branding, by Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle.

Of all the things I may be able to say I’m good at, marketing and branding do not appear on the list. I tend to forget these are even important, so I jump at any chance I get to read something on either subject.

I was especially pleased to read Colin’s free e-book Personal Branding, because it touched on the idea that you can be your own brand with every breath, action, and wardrobe choice. Add to my excitement the fact that Colin is a minimalist living with less than 100 things as he globe-trots for a living – this meant he’d get the whole “I want to have a good personal brand but don’t want to have all the stuff most people think goes along with that” mentality I’ve begun to espouse.

And no, it wasn’t all about fashion, although there was enough of that to get my wheels turning in positive directions. The key is to label yourself based on where you’re headed, not where you are. For me, that means owning my desire to be the forerunner in the minimalist knitter movement, and to present myself as such in my actions, words, deeds, and appearance.

He talks a lot about “physical collateral” – the stuff that I just said I didn’t want to have go along with personal branding – and how you can maximize your impact with a few key thoughts and pieces. Everything from the colors you choose for your blog to your business cards to having my own personal “Cheers!” spot in town resonated strong.

When it comes to building a social reputation, Colin tackles both online and in-person image in a way that I love – he tackles the basics {body odor, bad breath, basic cleanliness} first and foremost.

When it comes to wardrobe however, he falls into the trap most men fall into when talking women’s clothes – he goes the super-professional business route. I have no need for a suit in my life, and many of the items he lists involve a much more dressed-up lifestyle than most women I know.

This slight misstep aside, 90% of the information in the book was incredibly helpful. I walked away with a sheet of notes, full of ideas for how to kick my personal brand into high gear in the coming months.

#99 - Armando


And with the Armando hat, we've neared the end. Just one hat to go, a week's worth of giveaways, and the One Hundred Hats project is officially over. Strange - I feel like I've got nothing to do now that I'm not knitting hats everywhere I go, planning which patterns to knit up next, and fretting if I'm going to finish knitting on time. Armando was a great hat to round out the project with, to be sure.

I wish I could have knit it longer before beginning the decreases, but alas I was running out of yarn {smaller skein than I'd thought} and didn't want to break down and knit it all over again with fewer cast-on stitches. So it is a hat that is a bit short, but also was knit a bit tight and so will fit someone's head I am sure.

Tune in next week for the reveal of the One Hundredth Hat, the week full of giveaways, and then in early September my final thoughts on the entire project.

 Specs: Armando hat, by Gina House {Ravelry link}; knit using size 9 needles and brown stash wool.

Project 333: An Introduction

Aug 19, 2010
Are you one of the few people in America today that wears everything in your closet, or are you like me {and most of us}, and have hanger after hanger full of things you never actually wear? A few months ago I started to keep track of what I actually wore from my closet and have been shocked at the few items I truly wear regularly - and even more shocked at the large number of items I simply never wear.

It's clearly time for a wardrobe re-boot, and just in time I discovered Courtney's blog Be More With Less and Project 333 - a fashion project wherein you live with 33 items of clothing for 3 months. The rules are simple:
When: October 1 – December 31

What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.

What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring, underwear, sleep, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
How: over the next two months, outline your 33 items, by the 1st of October, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of site.

What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. If you purchase items for project 333, stick with the one in, two out approach. Consider the essentials and stick to 33.
As is my way with challenges and large-scale projects, I decided to participate in Project 333 without much thought. I'm excited to pare down my wardrobe - even temporarily - and see if I can live with much less than I currently do.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to start working my way through my wardrobe. I'll box up some of the summer items, but much of what I own will most likely go to the donation bins. I'm already conscious of just how much clothing sits on hangars not worn, so I'm hoping the goal number of 33 will be easier to reach than I think.

Once I get my list together, I'll be posting it to the blog. Because this is a side-project for me, I will not be doing super regular updates about this, but will instead come back here and share as I see fit. Have you considered participating in a project like this?

Do you think you could get your wardrobe down to 33 items? I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts, and would love to know if any of you are participating as well!

Project 333: An Introduction

Are you one of the few people in America today that wears everything in your closet, or are you like me {and most of us}, and have hanger after hanger full of things you never actually wear? A few months ago I started to keep track of what I actually wore from my closet and have been shocked at the few items I truly wear regularly - and even more shocked at the large number of items I simply never wear.

It's clearly time for a wardrobe re-boot, and just in time I discovered Courtney's blog Be More With Less and Project 333 - a fashion project wherein you live with 33 items of clothing for 3 months. The rules are simple:
When: October 1 – December 31

What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.

What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring, underwear, sleep, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
How: over the next two months, outline your 33 items, by the 1st of October, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of site.

What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. If you purchase items for project 333, stick with the one in, two out approach. Consider the essentials and stick to 33.
As is my way with challenges and large-scale projects, I decided to participate in Project 333 without much thought. I'm excited to pare down my wardrobe - even temporarily - and see if I can live with much less than I currently do.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to start working my way through my wardrobe. I'll box up some of the summer items, but much of what I own will most likely go to the donation bins. I'm already conscious of just how much clothing sits on hangars not worn, so I'm hoping the goal number of 33 will be easier to reach than I think.

Once I get my list together, I'll be posting it to the blog. Because this is a side-project for me, I will not be doing super regular updates about this, but will instead come back here and share as I see fit. Have you considered participating in a project like this?

Do you think you could get your wardrobe down to 33 items? I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts, and would love to know if any of you are participating as well!

Minimalism and Passion: Elise Blaha

Aug 18, 2010


elise-blaha.jpg Almost every Wednesday I post short interviews with passionate people, digging into their thoughts on minimalism.
 
As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles.


Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.

Today's interview is with Elise Blaha, writer, scrapbooker and crafty lady! She blogs daily, runs an amazing shop, and is getting ready to kick off another online workshop!

Elise rocks out memory keeping with the idea that by using the supplies you have on hand, the photos you take every day, and a few words and memories, you can create scrapbooks and save your memories in style!

MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?

EB: I realized that "less is more" can sometimes make the biggest impression in design.

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?

EB: I think the less complicated I make projects the more attractive big elaborate decorative projects tend to sound. The grass is always greener ... and going back and forth between minimalism and complicated-ness can be inspiring.

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?

EB: I work well with minimal colors. I like to pick projects that are accented with just a few - like green, yellow, blue. Once I have boundaries in place I find that it's easier to be creative without getting overwhelmed.

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?

EB: Just the abundance of what is out there. I think the internet is a great creative resource, but there is so much to see that sometimes I get too many projects going at once because I am inspired by too many different things. I think having too much going on at my workspace results in many of the projects suffering. I do my best to work one thing through to completion at a time.

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion and are exploring minimalism?

EB: Believe that you can make a big impact with a simple thought.

Simple Knits For Babies: Hats

Aug 17, 2010
In the last year or so, I’ve noticed a trend – the women around me are all having babies! From close friends to acquaintances to friends-of-friends, there have been at least a dozen babes born in the last year, with no sign of slowing as more and more gals I know are sending out “we’re expecting!” e-mails and Facebook status updates!

In the past, I’ve been able to keep up with my desire to knit an entire room’s worth of clothing and blankets for each new babe I hear of, but with everyone I know suddenly giving birth, I’ve had to temper back my desire to clothe every baby I may ever meet, and settle into a “new baby kit” sort of routine.

The easiest gifts for me to knit for babes are hats. After working my way through One Hundred Hats over the last year, I’ve become a wiz at knocking out a hat from start to finish in just under a day, and with baby hats it takes a mere few hours, thanks to the small size. What I love about baby hats {besides their quick time} is that I can rock out more than just pale blues and pinks thanks to a plethora of baby-friendly yarns hitting my local craft stores. And with a few basic patterns under my belt, I always have a baby hat either on or just off the needles.

Below are my four favorite baby hat patterns. I love them for their minimalist tendencies: all are freely available, all use worsted weight yarn, and all are gender-neutral so you can whip them up for a boy or a girl. Plus, each pattern is easy to remember after the first few lines, so you might not need to keep the pattern handy!  
{listed as shown in photo from left to right}

Noggin Hat. This hat is the newest to be added to my baby-hat repertoire. In the photo above, I extended out the point of the hat so that it could wrap around the babe more for a photographer, but usually I make the pattern as stated. This is the perfect understated hat for a babe whose parents love them some classic lines and are all about dressing their kid in understated basics.

Mock Cabled Hat. For quite some time I only knit this hat up for little girls, due to what I thought were very delicate cables. Then I whipped one up in a deep red, and was smitten – this hat is perfect for a boy or a girl! I love the idea of girl/boy twins rocking this hat – one in hot pink and the other in sapphire blue – for birth announcements.

Little Boy Blue. Simple ribs are the best way to go if you want a hat that can be worn for months and months. I tend to knit this one up for babes that have been born a bit early {and are therefore a bit smaller} or for babes born at the tail-end of fall, giving them more time to wear a warm hat as the weather turns cold.

Cabled Baby Hat. I tend to make the 10-cable version, as I love the gaggle of cables it creates. This is my go-to hat for spring/early summer babes. They may not be able to wear it for long due to most babies’ fast-growing tendencies, but while they’re rocking it, it looks so good!

The super double-bonus part of these hats? I can knit one of each from one skein of Caron’s Simply Soft yarn and have enough left over for a pom or two to top the hats off! This means I can whip out four different hats using the same yarn – perfect for charity knitting, or for knitting hats for quadruplets {which is who the four hats pictured were for}!

If you’re like me, and you have a bunch of new babies on the way in your friendship circle, cranking out a few of these at a time can increase the odds those babes will end up with something handmade, and it will up your “awesome Auntie” factor for sure! And to all you friends out there having babes soon? Please act shocked and surprised when one of these hats turns up in your gift package!

#98 - Mock Cables


After knitting an adorable baby Mock Cables for a commission, I knew I needed to knit one up for the One Hundred Hats project. I love how fast and easy the hat is to work up, and I'm pretty sure I'll be knitting up more of these for charity soon!  

Specs: Mock Cables by Bonnie Bran; knit using leftover wool and size 8 needles.

#97 - Purple Baby (in rust)

Aug 16, 2010

Looking for a quick-knit to fill my baby-hat fix I've been rocking lately. I love a quick, simple and beautiful hat, so the Purple Baby hat fit the bill nicely. I got lucky that I also had just enough rust-colored wool left over from other hats knit for the project that I was able to whip this hat up without creating any new half-skeins!

Specs: Purple Baby Hat by labpugglechi; knit using I Love This Wool! in rust, with size 7 needles.

Black Diamonds Hat


Love to ski the winter away? This hat will show off your love of the hardest hills, while keeping you warm as you head to the chalet.

MATERIALS NEEDED

* One set size 6 16" circular needles
* One set size 8 16" circular needles
* One set size 8 DPNs
* One skein Paton's Classic Wool color A (I used dark grey)
* One skein Paton's Classic Wool color B (I used black)
* Darning needle

GAUGE

20 stitches and 26 rows = 4 inches in stockinette

SIZES

Small (medium, large) — 8 (9, 10) inches long.

PURCHASE PATTERN HERE

Review: Consume Less, Create More

Aug 13, 2010
consume-less-create-more.png Almost every Friday I review books I’ve either purchased or found for free around the internet. Each was read for a variety of reasons, and if I’ve found the information share-able, I’m doing so in this way.

This week, I’m reviewing Consume Less, Create More by Brett Oblack of Step 1 Minimalist.

When I made the discovery that minimalist living could help me achieve my goals faster, easier, and with better results, I was in. For me, it made sense almost instantly – have less stuff, focus more on what’s important.

For many creative people however, minimalism seems either unattainable or unwanted. Part of the creative life is surrounding oneself with papers, paints, music and movies, yes?

Brett would argue no – and in compelling prose explains how a minimalist lifestyle can aide creatives in producing not only more, but better.

This book is all about permission – permission to create, to see oneself as an artist, and to forge ahead in a world that no longer honors only the top 1%, but is beginning to recognize greatness in anyone willing to step up and say they are doing something worth looking at.

We live in a time when truly anyone can live well based on their passions, no matter how quirky or “childish” they may seem. Look at me, for example. I write a blog about knitting for charity, and doing so with the smallest amount of knitting supplies possible, and I’m growing a following daily and seeing some revenue come in thanks to pattern sales and affiliate links.

No longer for business blogs, the idea of earning a living online through multiple income streams is becoming relevant to artists of all types – photographers, writers, painters, musicians, movie-makers and more.

In part one of his book, Brett touches on the idea of consuming less. For those who have read extensively on minimalism, this will feel like a bit of a re-hash, although Brett consistently points back to the idea that consuming less is an act of creativity itself – creatively looking at the world and your surroundings based on what you need, not what you want.

It’s in part two that Brett’s ideas for creatives truly begin to shine. Beginning with a definition of art by Seth Godin, Brett dives deep into what it means to create more, create better, and create with minimalism in mind.
Art is defined in three parts: 1. It is made by a human being. 2. It is created to have an impact, to change someone else. 3. It is a gift of something special.
Brett is constantly encouraging creatives to dream. “Dream and dream big. Write down some outlandish and terrifyingly huge goals and push yourself to see them come true.” At the heart of creating more? Focus, practice and capture.

 Brett reminds us that we need laser-beam sharp focus with our art – don’t be the jack-of-all-trades, and instead focus in as small as possible and carve out your unique gift. He reminds us that even the masters practice for hours – Yo Yo Ma still spends hours on cello scales, for example.

And finally, we cannot continue to create new art without a way to capture our ideas – whether you use a pen and paper or a computer, write it down for God’s sake!

Brett packs a punch with Consume Less, Create More. I have four typed pages of notes, reminders, quotes and ideas thanks to his writing, and I’m excitedly adding this e-book to my “read often, read thoroughly” file.

If you’re interested in getting your hands on a copy, Brett’s got it available for a mere $14.95 – well worth every penny!

Ten Ways To Improve Your Mood Without Spending A Dime

Aug 12, 2010
In the past, I’ve fallen prey to the idea that shopping can lift my spirits. You may have seen me wandering the dollar aisles of my local Target in years past, attempting to shop my sad and bad moods away. I’ve since come to learn that there are plenty of ways to lift your spirits without paying a dime – here’s ten to get you started.

1. Every time you answer the phone, do so with a big smile on your face. Not only will the person on the other end sense the happiness in your voice, you’ll find it’s much harder to be rude or short-toned, and your spirits will brighten just a bit. Works doubly well when dealing with someone who’s already crabby!

2. Close your eyes and roll your neck around. What a shock to discover that when I was in a foul mood, my neck muscles would tighten up, causing a chain reaction of stress, foulness, tension. Now, when I feel the grumbles coming on, I take a few minutes to close my eyes and roll my neck from left to right with my chin to my chest. Not only do I feel looser and more relaxed, the grumbles have usually passed!
hand_washing.jpg
3. Wash your hands. Sounds silly, and a bit strange, and don’t believe it will work? The feeling of fresh clean hands gets me every time! Don’t reach for the hand sanitizer here – get up from where you are, head to the nearest bathroom and slather on the suds. Give your hands and nails a good two-minute scrub under slightly cold water, and then pat dry. That super clean-hands feeling is sure to lift your spirits a bit!

4. Drink some water as fast as you can. It’s possible that your mood is foul because you’re feeling tired or dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water will take care of your much-needed (and probably ignored!) thirst, and will open your eyes a bit wider the colder the water is!

5. Make a list of five or ten concrete things that are awesome about your life right now. Don’t dip into the past, and don’t go for the esoteric stuff like “my health is okay”. Giving your brain concrete items to wrap around, like “I took the stairs at work instead of the elevator” and “The sun was shining at lunch and I got to eat my sandwich outside” will help you see the good in your day, and before you know it your list will have grown and a smile will have stretched across your face.

6. Close your eyes and picture a person you love. Doesn’t matter if it’s your spouse, your child, your significant other, your best friend, or someone you just met. Just try to detail out in your mind every little part of their face for 30 seconds or so. I love to do this when it’s super hectic at work – just a few seconds with my eyes closed and my husband’s face behind my eyelids being goofy or sleeping soundly brings a smile to my face every time!

7. Snuggle a cat or dog. There’s nothing like an animal companion to lift your spirits! My cat Burt snuggles me extra close when I’m feeling under the weather, and I credit him with keeping my spirits up when I’m feeling sick. ellen-and-barack.jpg
8. Dance around in your car or your home to top-40s music. Save your super cutting edge music for another day here, folks. While we all make fun of top-40 at some point, those catchy beats and simple lyrics make you want to shake your bootie no matter who you are, and by giving in your mood will lift along with your heart rate!

9. Watch the “full on double rainbow” video on You Tube. You know what, even if you think you’re in a good mood right now, go ahead and click that link. Click away from this page, and watch as this dude freaks his freak over a gorgeous double rainbow. Yes, most of us have made fun of it, but I defy you to watch that video and not laugh at the innocent wonder of it all.

10. Hang upside down from your couch. What??? I know, I know, I sound nutters now, but I promise you cannot be in a bad mood after having hung upside-down from your couch. How do you do this? Lay your back down on the seat of the couch, throw your legs up on the back-rest and over the top edge, and hang your head off where your feet normally hang. Chill out there for a minute or two, and see if you don’t feel a bit happier!

What are some of your fool-proof {and free!} ways to boost your mood? I’d love to add some to my list, so please share in the comments!

#96 - Naughty Knitterz hat #2


With the first of two donated patterns completed, I set out to knit the second baby hat - and it would also turn out to be a bit bigger than expected! Another great hat, the simple patterning meant I whipped through it in no time flat, and ended up with a second hat in two days I would love to add to my hat collection!  

Specs: Naughty Knitterz donated pattern, knit using I Love This Wool! in rust, on size 7 needles.

Minimalism And Passion: Everett Bogue

Aug 11, 2010
Almost every Wednesday I post short interviews with passionate people, digging into their thoughts on minimalism.

As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.

Today’s interview is with Everett Bogue of Far Beyond The Stars. He's the author of both The Art of Being Minimalist and Minimalist Business, and is passionate about helping others escape the trappings of corporate life and starting their very own very small businesses!

As an aside, his book Minimalist Business is what inspired me to write my very own e-book, The Minimalist Knitter's Handbook, which I shared about yesterday!

MK: How did your passions inspire or move you towards minimalism?

EB: I started my minimalist journey around a year ago. I had already lived with less for most of my life, but it all started to make sense in July of '09. I was stuck in a job in New York that wasn't fulfilling, and I needed out. I was barely making enough money to support my lifestyle in NY, and so when I quit my job I found myself in an interesting predicament: how do I survive without money. I hopped on a plane to Portland, OR with $3,000 in the bank and all of my stuff in a bag.

What surprised me was that I was able to survive on $3,000 for three months by embracing a hardcore attitude towards possesions. Fast forward year from then and by applying minimalism I've been able to reduce the time I spend working to less than 10 hours a week (and this is slowly dropping.) and I started a minimalist business that allows me to live and work from anywhere in the world. All in all, it's been a great experience.

MK: Did you find anything change or shift with your passion once you began your minimalist journey?

EB: I honestly thought I was going to be taking a short vacation from the world of the working-dead, but not having a job has become my life. Because my life-overhead is low, I don't need to make as much money to sustain my lifestyle, and this enables me to focus on whatever I'm passionate about in the moment. Right now that's practicing a lot of Yoga in San Francisco.

MK: How do you nurture your creative spirit within the boundaries of the “do more with less” mentality of minimalism?

EB: I've found that it's a lot easier to nurture your creative spirit when you're not working 40-60 hours a week. It's so much easier to follow your dreams when you aren't stuck behind a desk. Yes, this means if your passions involve buying expensive things you need to reconsider them, but I've always enjoyed the least expensive creative pursuits.

MK: What is one thing that consistently trips you up on your minimalist journey?

EB: Early on it was difficult to imagine what it'd be like to live like this, but now it all just seems so natural. I recently reduced my possessions to less than 50 things, and that honestly was going too far for me, so I'm slowly working my way back up to 100. It was an interesting experiment, but I was micromanaging my experience of the world too much, so I decided to end that experiment.

MK: What is one piece of advice you’d share with others who share your passion or are exploring minimalism?

EB: You've got to realize that the junk is just an excuse to not live your life. We were brainwashed by the industrial age and the televisions to buy a lot of stuff we never needed to live an American dream that was invented to fill the pockets of corporate executives with money. When you opt-out of this perpetual cycle of consumerism, you can stop working so much and start living your life. It's a win for all.

+  +  +  +  +

Want to share your story of Minimalism and Passion? Shoot me an e-mail {rmcdevine@gmail.com} with your answers to the questions in this interview, and I’ll share it on the blog!

#95 - Naughty Knitterz #1


Thanks to some freelance writing I've done for Naughty Knitterz, I was gifted with two baby hat patterns to use for the One Hundred Hats project. The first of these hats ended up turning out a bit bigger than baby sized, but I love it almost too much to send it off to someone else! The super wide garter stitch band was a breeze to knit up, and I love how it gives that hat a more masculine look while still being suitable to a woman or a man. Love!

Specs: Naughty Knitterz pattern, knit using size 7 needles and I Love this Wool! in rust.

Minimalist Yarn Stash Vs. Conscious Consumerism

Aug 10, 2010
Since publishing The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook a few weeks ago, I’ve had the pleasure of e-mails full of questions showing up in my inbox. I love the conversations that have happened, and have noticed a few recurring themes. One such theme is the idea of having a minimalist yarn stash vs. practicing conscious consumerism. From an e-mail:
I have been knitting exclusively for charity for the past decade or so. This purpose dictates probably 90% of my project and materials selections. I have long wanted to work down to a minimalist stash as you have done. At the same time, when I see materials at bargain prices, I often find it difficult to avoid putting the priority for cost effectiveness ahead of the desire for a minimalist stash.
While I responded personally to this person, and got their permission to reprint a portion of her e-mail, I wanted to share some thoughts on the subject here as well as hear what you all have to say in the comments.
My answer to those of you in the same position can be convoluted. It is hard for me to pass up really good bargains on yarn for that same reason! I try to remind myself that "there will always be another sale" and that if I have more yarn in my stash than I’ll be able to knit in a three-month time period, the chances of that yarn ever getting knit are drastically reduced.

In truth, every charity knitter is different in this regard.

For some, they only get yarn when it is on super sale, and have a larger stash. For others, a small stash is key, and yarn is bought as charities express a need for specific garments and yarn needs. The desire to stash away yarn that is on super sale is huge, but for me it’s best to walk away more times than not.

There will always be another sale, and I will always be able to find more yarn to knit with. It is more important to me to be able to knit from a small stash, always know what I’ve got on-hand, and know that I’m using everything I have. What’s your take on this question?

#94 - Soule


I have loved Amanda Soule's blog for years - I think I started reading around the time her now four-year-old daughter Ada was born!In all that time, I had yet to knit one of her free patterns - with the One Hundred Hats project about to finish up though, I knew it was high time. Soule could have been a bit longer - after finishing the hat I measured for gauge and realized while I had the stitch gauge down perfect, the row gauge was a bit smaller - a few more rows before the crown decreases and this hat would have been a perfect snug fit on me. None the less I love the pattern - easy to remember, easy to knit up, and super fast from on to off the needles! I forsee this hat making it's way back onto my needles again soon for more charity donations.

Specs: My Hat Of Choice by Amanda Soule {scroll down for link to PDF}; knit using I Love This Wool! in rust, on size 9 dpns.

#93 - Point Lobos

Aug 9, 2010

Last week hats were flying off the needles left and right. Now that I'm down below the last 10, I can feel the end approaching quickly, and my knitting has started to move faster and faster! Point Lobos was on and off the needles in less than a day, for instance. Made just a tad too small to fit my head for photos, this hat will look great on a younger child. Easy to follow instructions meant I could breeze through the knitting in no time!  

Specs: Point Lobos by Sarah-Hope Parmeter; knit using Cascade 220 heathers in pink and size 7 needles.

Review: Small Ways To Make A Big Difference

Aug 6, 2010
Almost every Friday I review e-books I've either purchased or found for free around the internet. Each was read for a variety of reasons, and if I've found the information share-able, I'm doing so in this way.

This week, I'm reviewing Small Ways To Make A Big Difference, edited by Raam Dev.

Just about a week ago I followed a Twitter link to the free e-book Small Ways To Make A Big Difference. Edited by Raam Dev – a dude living in India after selling all his possessions and leaving his decade-long career in the IT field – this book packs quite a punch.
We can do no great things, only small things with great love. ~ Mother Teresa
Small Ways is a compilation of some great advice from a wide variety of people {mostly bloggers who responded to Raam’s call for change-making ideas}, all centering around the small things we can do every day to make the world a better place. Some of my favorites include “under-think your life’s purpose”, “live intentionally”, and “let elderly people have your seat”, although the essays run from living more minimalist to meditating on the one-ness of all beings.

I love that while the book can be read all in one sitting, it’s formatted almost like one of the Daily Prayer books I used to pick up every few months back in my Presbyterian days. Each page reminds me of a devotion, something to read, sit with, and meditate or pray on throughout the day, letting the words soak into and through you.

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the world – all the injustice, sadness, poverty, and war that permeate our societies can bring down even the most positive person. These simple and daily reminders that small steps can create big change are just what our world needs right now! Thanks for this Raam!

#92 - Jacob

Aug 5, 2010

I know, I know. I'm far too old to love the cheese and drama that comes with the Twilight series, but I can't help myself. Yes, I think it does young women and girls a disservice by presenting true love as a woman subjugating herself to the whims of her man, but that's why I'm decidedly on Team Jacob - had Bella chosen him, she would have been able to be her own dang person at least! anyhow. While I did not have any black wool to make this hat, modeled after the one worn by Jacob in the first movie, I did have some fabulous blue that was gifted to me by my brother - perfect for this hat!  

Specs: Jacob hat by Nancy Fry {Ravelry link to free pattern download}; knit using Debbie Stoller wool and size 8 needles.

On Minimalism and Passion: The Series

Aug 4, 2010
As I move towards a minimalist lifestyle, I’ve found I learn more from listening to others share their unique journeys than I have from books and impersonal articles. Everyone has their own take on minimalism, and in hearing those stories I find myself more open to exploring my own minimalist journey.

With that in mind, I’m excited to kick off a new interview series, Minimalism and Passion. Most Wednesdays for the next few months I’ll be interviewing a wide variety of people - artists, writers, knitters and more – and asking them how minimalism has affected their passions.

Much like Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Interview series, I’ll be asking each person the same basic sets of questions, digging into their unique take on minimalism and how it’s been affected by the things they’re most passionate about. My hope with this series is that together, the collective story of all these passionate minimalists will encourage us all to move towards a more minimalist lifestyle.

Each story is unique, and each take on minimalism is varied, but all contain the running thread of knitting/writing/biking/singing/doing/living more with less. I’ve got some exciting interviews lined up that I can’t wait to share with you, but I’m not done interviewing people yet – and I’d love to hear your story as well!

If you’re interested in sharing a bit about how your brand of minimalism has been inspired and shaped by your passions, send me an e-mail! Kicking it off next week is Everett Bogue of Far Beyond The Stars! {photo credit}

#91 - Orvieto


While I'm not much of a beret girl myself, I know most women are. I've actually been pretty bad and not included many berets in the project, mostly because it drives me a bit batty to knit them {although I'm not really sure why!}, but the Orvieto hat pattern caught my eye, so I added it to the queue.

Not sure if it should have been knit with variegated yarn, but in the end the striping worked out to my advantage - no mass pooling at the crown like I've experienced with so many other variegated yarns throughout this process! I made a child-sized hat, but it stretches quite nicely, and so actually fit me like a saggy hat rather than a beret - bonus for me!  

Specs: Orvieto Hat by Nina Machlin (Ravelry link); knit using gifted variegated yarn and size 8 needles.

Killing Your Life-List: How To Be A Superstar

Aug 3, 2010

Life Lists have been all over the internet recently. I first saw them take hold thanks to Maggie Mason, and after writing my own I watched as internet superstars from all types of blogs and websites shared their lists and all the fun things they were able to cross off.

My own Life List contained a fair bit of travel, an even larger amount of knitting projects, and more than a few smaller items. Since writing my list I’ve crossed a few off excitedly, and even created a smaller list of things I wanted to get done in my 33rd year of life – many items for this list coming directly from my Life List.

All this list-making quickly got me frustrated, however – it’s hard to maintain any sort of focus when you’re trying to accomplish over 100 big ticket items!

And so I killed my Life List, just deleted it both from the blog and from my computer. Maybe it has something to do with the article I recently read on the Superstar Effect? The article discusses what makes the difference between impressive and superstar, and how to push towards superstar-style status.

Focus On Your “Main Thing”

The article got me thinking – what if I focused on one thing, on my main life goal, rather than spreading myself thin {and stressing myself out!} with all these Life List items? What if I truly gave in to my passion for knitting for charity, and committed whole-hog to knitting 10,000 charity items before I die? For me, knowing my “main thing” was knitting was easy.

I’ve spent much of my adult life knitting for others anyhow, and while much of the other to-do items on my Life List sounded fun, knitting for charity was the one constant, the one item that was a must-do amongst a list of “should-do’s”. Figuring out your Main Thing may be simple like it was for me – or it could take years. Chances are you already know what it is, though.

Setting An “Unreasonable Goal”

One year ago I quietly set the goal to knit 10,000 charity items in my lifetime, and in the last 365 days or so I’ve knit approximately 120 items – mostly hats. At that rate, it will take me 83 years to knit 10,000 items. I’m 33 – this means if you include the past year in my tally {which I do}, I’ll have to live to be 105 or older before I’ll complete the 10,000.

In order to truly live your Main Thing with superstar status, you need to have an “unreasonable goal”. Chris Guillebeau is travelling to every country on Earth, I’m knitting 10,000 items for charity. Your Main Thing should be a bit scary, truth be told – it should challenge you and stretch you, force you to be the most streamlined and razor-sharp version of yourself. It’s hard to knit 10,000 charity items while dilly-dallying around with other crafts, just as it’s hard to travel to every country in the world when you’re caught up in owning the latest must-have vehicles and gadgets.

Don’t Let Your Big Dreams Scare You

Chances are your Main Thing will be completely different from mine, and your Unreasonable Goal will blow me away – that’s a good thing! Don’t let your big dream scare you; simply sit down and figure out what steps you need to take to reach it!

Rather than letting the number of hand-knits I wanted to make scare me, I immediately begin thinking about how I can up my knitting tally in the coming year – more baby hats, less diversity with my knitting, a better plan of attack. I began making lists, plotting new knitting challenges that will far surpass the One Hundred Hats challenge I am about to finish.

So how does this fit in with minimalist knitting? Easy – by minimizing my life goals, and by sticking to a minimalist knitting lifestyle, I think I can easily increase my total hand-knit numbers for each year and accomplish my goal of 10,000 donated hand-knits in my lifetime. The key for me? Kill my Life List.

{image from Rowdy Kittens}

#90 - Hill Country


Hill Country is such a fun little hat - the design shifts and moves along the hat, giving it a very polished and masculine look but still allowing it to be a hat a woman can rock. Plus, it's knit up using chunky yarn and bigger needles - what could be better!

Like so many hats I've knit lately, I made one big mod to this pattern - I knit it from the brim to the crown rather than crown-down as the pattern calls for. I struggle through all those needles early on every time, so I find it easier for me to just go ahead and start with the ribbing and work my way up. Doesn't change the way the pattern looks at all, and while it might require a bit more thinking on my part, it's always worth it!

Specs: Hill Country by Clara Parks {free Ravelry download link}; knit with leftover chunky yarn and size 10 needles.

How To Knit Cables

Aug 2, 2010

I was going to make a video explaining cable knitting, but ended up discovering my camera's video setting was NOT the best. Instead, I found a great video for making a basic cable stitch, and thought I'd share it here.


Don't want to use another needle to cable? Here's a great video for cabling without a cable needle!


I will admit, I use a cable needle or an extra DPN when I make most of my cables - thankfully, in Purke you don't need either! I'm still looking for a good video of the cabling method wherein you work as if to k2tog, and then knit into the right-hand of the stitches {as used in my Purke pattern actually!}, so if you know of one, or if you film one, let me know so I can share it!

Purke Hat


In mid-June, amidst the excitement of the College World Series, I became captivated by the TCU Horned Frogs and their freshman pitcher. After watching them almost make it into the finals, I couldn't help but name this hat pattern - one I worked on in the stands during the game, even - after Purke. Knit with worsted weight yarn, this hat is available sized from small toddler up through adults. And with the simple cabling design to break up the stockinette, it's perfect knitting for road trips, charity, and last-minute gifts.

MATERIALS NEEDED

size 8 16” circular needles
size 8 DPNs
Stitch Nation Alpaca Love yarn
Tapestry yarn

SIZES

x-small (small, medium, large) = 15 (17, 19, 21) inches
this hat will fit from a young toddler through to an adult.

GAUGE

4.5 x 6 stitches per inch.

DOWNLOAD NOW

#89 - Gooseberry

Aug 1, 2010

Rounding out my kids' hats posts from last week, here's Gooseberry! I fell madly in love with this hat while I was knitting it, and have plans to knit a few for some babes that are set to be born in the next few months. Anyone looking to get into hat-making for kidlets should give this pattern a look - you can use a small circular needle throughout most of it, the pattern works from memory after the first few rows for the majority of the hat {longer if you knit it from the crown down, as written!} and looks amazing when finished!

My mods, although somewhat extensive, had more to do with yarn available and personal preference than with pattern.

** I knit the hat from the brim to the crown, although the pattern calls for knitting from the crown down.

** I used worsted weight yarn, where the pattern calls for sport weight. This meant I also used larger needles, and the hat came out toddler sized, rather than baby-sized.

** I chose to not knit the i-cord tie at the top.  

Specs: Gooseberry Hat by Suvi Simola {free Ravelry download}; knit using leftover stash pink worsted and size 8 needles.
 
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