weekending

Oct 29, 2010
After a Thursday full of football, I'm ready to kick off the Halloween weekend with ... more football! We got lucky enough to get tickets to the Nebraska v. Missouri game, set to hopefully be the deciding factor in our getting to the Big 12 Championship - Go Big Red!
And taking a queue from Marta - November blogging blueprints: more about the Holiday Made Simple e-book as it becomes available for pre-sale; the last few posts in my Quick Holiday Knits mini-series; a six-month shift; a few fun announcements; some new hand-knits; even more paring down.
Have a safe and happy Halloween, those who celebrate. And enjoy football, those who watch it!

Project 333: The October Update

Oct 28, 2010
October is almost behind us now, and with it follows the first month of Project 333. Many of you are following along with great interest, and a few of you are even participating as well - as promised, here is my October update.


When I signed up for Project 333, I knew I'd end up switching out a few of my pieces - what I didn't know is that I'd do a complete overhaul, that I'd end up wanting to wear dresses all the time, or that I'd end the month with fewer than 33 items!

Less than two weeks into the challenge, I was found with five dresses in my closet along with a few pairs leggings and tights, and all those shirts and my lone pair work pants were left to languish on the sidelines.
If I'd known how constricting dress pants felt once the sweet freedom of a dress had been experienced, I'd sure have switched to being a dress girl YEARS AGO. Why did no one tell me? Why did I not listen?!

Due to a weekend warrior-style closet room renovation {more on this next week}, I got super off-track on taking daily wardrobe photos - and really, shots of me in cut-off sweats and a grimy tee three days straight wouldn't have been super exciting anyhow.

Once the renovation was completed, I never got back into the habit of taking daily photos, although I did manage to play dress-up for an afternoon with the stuff I'm wearing pretty regularly - the phots that are scattered throughout this post {and please ignore the pissy face - I'm not a big fan of being in front of the camera, preferring to be taking the photos instead}.

Now that November is upon us, I'm working fast and furious to finish at least one cardigan before it gets ridiculously cold - my grey store-bought cardigan is starting to dislike being tossed into the wash machine so much. I'd like to pick up another dress or two - maybe even work my way up to owning a full ten! - but for now, the five you've seen on repeat are working out just fine.



I have noticed that I spent a good chunk of my time in October shopping - for more tights, a few new dresses, and a pair or two of leggings. The point of this project was to not spend money on clothes and wear what I've got, and instead I did the exact opposite!

I should be upset about this - I've even considered starting the project over in November as penance of some sort - but when I really step back and look, I'm not upset at all.

I discovered a way to a more minimalist wardrobe, and have consistently pared down my clothing over the last 30 days. For each item in, I've put one or two in the donatiosn bag. And most importantly, I've come up with a sustainable way to dress for years to come!

For those of you participating in Project 333, how did your first month go? Does anyone have any questions, concerns, snarky remarks? Leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them {also in comments, and with equal amounts of snark!} as best I can.


Oh, and for those interested, here's a new and improved list of my wardrobe items:
  1. black tank #1

  2. black tank #2

  3. white tank #1

  4. white tank #2

  5. gray cardigan

  6. skinny jeans

  7. knee-high boots

  8. dress 1: gray/white dress

  9. dress 2: black pattern dress

  10. dress 3: green dress {not super comfy, and will more than likely be replaced at some point}

  11. dress 4: black/turquoise houndstooth dress

  12. dress 5: black/white swirly dress

  13. tights

  14. black wedges

  15. tan owl top

  16. Husker tee

  17. black turtleneck sweater {for football games}

  18. black turtleneck

  19. grey turtleneck - both of these are for layering under dresses in the coldest weather

My goals in the next two months? Pick up a few more pair of tights, add a cardi or two to the selection, grab a long-sleeve shirt or two for layering during the coldest months, and potentially grab another dress or two to spice up the line-up. The rest of the clothes I own will be donated as I pick up new items - my goal is to end the year with 50 or less items of clothing TOTAL in my posession.

Project 333: The October Update

October is almost behind us now, and with it follows the first month of Project 333. Many of you are following along with great interest, and a few of you are even participating as well - as promised, here is my October update.


When I signed up for Project 333, I knew I'd end up switching out a few of my pieces - what I didn't know is that I'd do a complete overhaul, that I'd end up wanting to wear dresses all the time, or that I'd end the month with fewer than 33 items!

Less than two weeks into the challenge, I was found with five dresses in my closet along with a few pairs leggings and tights, and all those shirts and my lone pair work pants were left to languish on the sidelines.
If I'd known how constricting dress pants felt once the sweet freedom of a dress had been experienced, I'd sure have switched to being a dress girl YEARS AGO. Why did no one tell me? Why did I not listen?!

Due to a weekend warrior-style closet room renovation {more on this next week}, I got super off-track on taking daily wardrobe photos - and really, shots of me in cut-off sweats and a grimy tee three days straight wouldn't have been super exciting anyhow.

Once the renovation was completed, I never got back into the habit of taking daily photos, although I did manage to play dress-up for an afternoon with the stuff I'm wearing pretty regularly - the phots that are scattered throughout this post {and please ignore the pissy face - I'm not a big fan of being in front of the camera, preferring to be taking the photos instead}.

Now that November is upon us, I'm working fast and furious to finish at least one cardigan before it gets ridiculously cold - my grey store-bought cardigan is starting to dislike being tossed into the wash machine so much. I'd like to pick up another dress or two - maybe even work my way up to owning a full ten! - but for now, the five you've seen on repeat are working out just fine.



I have noticed that I spent a good chunk of my time in October shopping - for more tights, a few new dresses, and a pair or two of leggings. The point of this project was to not spend money on clothes and wear what I've got, and instead I did the exact opposite!

I should be upset about this - I've even considered starting the project over in November as penance of some sort - but when I really step back and look, I'm not upset at all.

I discovered a way to a more minimalist wardrobe, and have consistently pared down my clothing over the last 30 days. For each item in, I've put one or two in the donatiosn bag. And most importantly, I've come up with a sustainable way to dress for years to come!

For those of you participating in Project 333, how did your first month go? Does anyone have any questions, concerns, snarky remarks? Leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them {also in comments, and with equal amounts of snark!} as best I can.


Oh, and for those interested, here's a new and improved list of my wardrobe items:
  1. black tank #1

  2. black tank #2

  3. white tank #1

  4. white tank #2

  5. gray cardigan

  6. skinny jeans

  7. knee-high boots

  8. dress 1: gray/white dress

  9. dress 2: black pattern dress

  10. dress 3: green dress {not super comfy, and will more than likely be replaced at some point}

  11. dress 4: black/turquoise houndstooth dress

  12. dress 5: black/white swirly dress

  13. tights

  14. black wedges

  15. tan owl top

  16. Husker tee

  17. black turtleneck sweater {for football games}

  18. black turtleneck

  19. grey turtleneck - both of these are for layering under dresses in the coldest weather

My goals in the next two months? Pick up a few more pair of tights, add a cardi or two to the selection, grab a long-sleeve shirt or two for layering during the coldest months, and potentially grab another dress or two to spice up the line-up. The rest of the clothes I own will be donated as I pick up new items - my goal is to end the year with 50 or less items of clothing TOTAL in my posession.

Avoiding Knitting Injury

Oct 26, 2010
Back when I shared my love of the Mustard Scarf, Kristen asked me how I avoid knitting-related injury as I seem to knit so much in such a short amount of time. Unfortunately for Kristen, my take on this is to simply knit until my hands and arms start to get tired, and then I quit. When it hurts I don’t knit, and I usually start to feel pain in my left elbow after a marathon knitting session that tells me when it’s time to take a break. Fearing this wasn’t quite the best answer – either for Kristen or for me, really – I took some time to look up how others handle knitting injury, as well as searching for some good ways to avoid it all together. Thanks to Knit A Square, Knitting Guru, and Suite 101, here’s what I’ve learned:  

Firstly, it looks like I was actually doing something right with my “stop knitting once it hurts” strategy. When your body is tired, it will let you know, and that’s a good time to stop!

Secondly, if you know you’re going to be involved in some sort of marathon knitting, training is a must. No, seriously! Building up your body’s tolerance for extended periods of knitting by knitting a bit more each day will do you more good than simply going in with the “knit until I can knit no more” strategy. This has proven itself in my life as well. Two years ago, before knitting One Hundred Hats was even a thought in my head, there’s no way I could have knit three hats a week. When I started the One Hundred Hats project, I was pushing it with two. But as my body got used to knitting more often, it became easier to knit longer.  

Thirdly, maintaining good posture is key. Sit upright, be sure you’ve got enough back support, and rest heavier projects in your lap – think blankets here. Keep your elbows close to your sides rather than up in the air, and hold your knitting loosely.  

Finally, be sure to knit and crochet in good lighting and take frequent breaks – both of which I avoid at all costs! I knit most often while watching movies and television, and have been known to knit in the car as well. I don’t pay much attention to how light it is, simply feeling for the stitches if it’s too dark to see them. As for taking breaks, I do so if I’m hungry, thirsty or in need of a potty break, but for the most part if I’m sitting down to knit, I mean business! If I get caught up, I’ll knit for several hours straight without noticing it.

After all that, I was pleasantly surprised to note that I’m not doing too bad on the injury avoidance list – I follow almost all of the suggestions I could find, and will try to knit in better lighting from now on! And remember – if you ARE injured, rest is the best possible thing you can do!

Avoiding Knitting Injury

Back when I shared my love of the Mustard Scarf, Kristen asked me how I avoid knitting-related injury as I seem to knit so much in such a short amount of time.

Unfortunately for Kristen, my take on this is to simply knit until my hands and arms start to get tired, and then I quit. When it hurts I don’t knit, and I usually start to feel pain in my left elbow after a marathon knitting session that tells me when it’s time to take a break.

Fearing this wasn’t quite the best answer – either for Kristen or for me, really – I took some time to look up how others handle knitting injury, as well as searching for some good ways to avoid it all together. Thanks to Knit A Square, Knitting Guru, and Suite 101, here’s what I’ve learned: 

Firstly, it looks like I was actually doing something right with my “stop knitting once it hurts” strategy. When your body is tired, it will let you know, and that’s a good time to stop!

Secondly, if you know you’re going to be involved in some sort of marathon knitting, training is a must. No, seriously! Building up your body’s tolerance for extended periods of knitting by knitting a bit more each day will do you more good than simply going in with the “knit until I can knit no more” strategy.

This has proven itself in my life as well. Two years ago, before knitting One Hundred Hats was even a thought in my head, there’s no way I could have knit three hats a week. When I started the One Hundred Hats project, I was pushing it with two. But as my body got used to knitting more often, it became easier to knit longer. 

Thirdly, maintaining good posture is key. Sit upright, be sure you’ve got enough back support, and rest heavier projects in your lap – think blankets here. Keep your elbows close to your sides rather than up in the air, and hold your knitting loosely.

Finally, be sure to knit and crochet in good lighting and take frequent breaks – both of which I avoid at all costs! I knit most often while watching movies and television, and have been known to knit in the car as well. I don’t pay much attention to how light it is, simply feeling for the stitches if it’s too dark to see them.

As for taking breaks, I do so if I’m hungry, thirsty or in need of a potty break, but for the most part if I’m sitting down to knit, I mean business! If I get caught up, I’ll knit for several hours straight without noticing it.

After all that, I was pleasantly surprised to note that I’m not doing too bad on the injury avoidance list – I follow almost all of the suggestions I could find, and will try to knit in better lighting from now on! And remember – if you ARE injured, rest is the best possible thing you can do!

Are there any suggestions I’m missing, tricks you’ve tried that have worked well for you?

Quick Holiday Knits: For Women

Oct 25, 2010


While finding the perfect quick-knit for the men in your life can seem tricky, sometimes it can be harder to find a knitting pattern suitable for the women in your life – between all the options and all the likes/dislikes of the women around you, it can feel like an uphill battle from the start.

These five patterns have been tried and tested by the friends and family in my life, and each time have proven to be the perfect quick knit to gift. Each is small enough to be portable, and comes with a minimum of directions, meaning all you’ll need to worry about is grabbing the perfect color!

Boneyard Shawl. This free Ravelry download from Stephen West has quickly become one of my favorite quick knits. I’ve whipped up one for a friend, whipped one up on a long car ride, worked one in a wool blend, one from locally sourced wool, and am making one in cotton just to see. Make it large {at least a dozen pattern repeats} for a huge body-hugging shawl, or work it a bit smaller {eight or so repeats} for a neck-warmer sized piece. It’s so perfect for anyone on your list – I’m considering just working this one again and again to keep on hand just in case!

Calorimetry. I honestly didn’t even consider this a pattern worthy of holiday gift knitting until no less than three girlfriends saw it as part of my One Hundred Hats project and began to squawk about wanting one of their own. Turns out this is the perfect thing to give to the runners in your life, and so many of my runner friends have sworn by it I knew it must be added.

Jane Hat. Who placed a bet that this pattern would be on my list?! If you did, you’re smarter than I am, because it was a last-minute addition. No matter the fact that I’ve knit it for approximately five people ALREADY to give as a holiday gift, I didn’t think to add it on until someone reminded me of my love for Jane and her amazing hats!

Fetching. Know a lady who could use some gorgeous little mitts to help keep her digits warm? Fetching is the perfect pattern for this! I’ve considered just working up one pair of these a month throughout the year and then having them on-hand to give as gifts as needed, but although that plan has yet to work itself out, Fetching is the perfect go-to holiday mitts pattern.

Mustard Scarf. One more Jane Richmond pattern for good measure! I knit my first one of these amazing scarves up just a few weeks ago, and it’s already being loved on and fondled daily by the recipient. As soon as I bound off, I knew I’d need to make several more to send off as gifts to those who live far away – it packs up small, can be buttoned a variety of ways, and is the perfect alternative to a full scarf for those who don’t like the bother of all that fabric.

Now that we’ve got a plan for the adults in our lives, let’s take a look at the smaller set – next week we’ll be tackling both kid-friendly gifts and those for the littlest of babes. Never fear, I’ve found some adorable – and fast – knits for you!

Milo Vest {Simple Knits}

Oct 21, 2010
On the lookout for a top-down vest pattern for kids and babies that whips up quickly and can be used for either a boy or a girl, I was super excited to come across Milo in time to knit it up for baby Lu who was just born in San Fransisco.


Milo1

Knit in the round, this vest only has two tails that need to be woven in - once at the top and once at the bottom. The sleeves divde quick and easy, and the body comes with six different pattern choices - or can be left plain stockinette.

I opted to use one of the cabling options, spacing the cables out a bit farther each time as the vest gets longer. I also knit the vest in a 3 month size using one size larger needles than recommended, in the hopes that Lu can rock this not just as a vest as she gets a bit older, but also as a dress in the meantime.


Milo2

I love that Milo's pattern reflects all knitters, yarn types, and sizes - you can use a wooly yarn as the pattern calls for or knit it with Caron Simply Soft {purchased at Walmart} like I did. It can be knit up for a boy or a girl, and will fit kids from newborn through pre-school with ease. A more advanced knitter can add cabling and colorwork to their heart's content, and a novice knitter can use this pattern to practice both stockinette and garter stitch while knitting in the round.

I'll definitely be knitting this vest again, and will use the pattern frequently for charity knitting. If you're looking for a first-time project for knitting in the round, or a new vest pattern to add to your arsenal, this is definitely it.
Check out my Ravelry project page for all my notes, and check out Milo's pattern page on Ravelry to purchase your own copy!

Favorites: Namaste Circular Needle Case

Oct 19, 2010
Just around a month ago, disgusted with the state of my knitting needles, I decided to take some serious action. I’d already organized my DPNs into travel toothbrush containers, and that’s been working like a charm, but I was stuck when it came to my circular needles.

For the past six months, they’d resided in plastic sandwich bags divided up by needle size – I’d had them in a needle roll for a time, and before that in a hanging needle organizer. None of these solutions worked well for me for a variety of reasons – what I wanted was some sort of hard case that would organize them easily, while not taking up a ton of room and still keeping the needles totally contained.


Enter Namaste Inc, a provider of knitting bags and accessories that have ridiculous amounts of style.


I placed my order with squeals - $23 for a vegan-friendly turquoise case?! – and waited rather impatiently for my purchase to arrive. Within a week I had my case in hand, and began to organize my needles.


Thanks to my initial needle purge back in early June, I only have circular needles and they only range in size from 5 to 10.5. I have thankfully yet to run into a project I’d like to make that uses a needle I don’t have, and while I may have a few different lengths in each of these sizes, I’m happy with the size of my needle selection for now.


I have a separate spot for my 16” needles of each size, as these are the needles I use most often, the hat lover that I am! All other needles for each size sit behind it together – I have no more than three other needles of each size.


Every single circular needle I own – really, every needle I own other than my DPNs – fits into this tiny case, and I couldn’t be more pleased! It takes up less room in my knitting bag than all those plastic bags once did, is much easier to find and sort through, and I can tell in an instant where to find the needle I need.


Perfection in a little square case indeed!


{Note: this is not a paid endorsement of any kind. I paid full price for my Namaste Circular Needle Case and make no affiliate sales off any of the links. I just love love love my case, and knew the knitters reading would need to know about it!}

Quick Holiday Knits: For Men

Oct 18, 2010

Men can be the hardest people on your list to gift hand-knits. Unlike women – who love the wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns hand-knitting can provide – most of the men I know want something simple, classic, understated, and able to go with anything and everything they already own.


Thankfully, in recent years knit designers have begun to design for men with these very ideas in mind, and our pattern stashes have been able to reap the benefits. Here are my top five patterns for the men in my life – each one of them tested and loved by a man I treasure!


Cigar Mitts. Men don’t want fingerless mitts like women do, one giant hole for all their fingers to fit through. They want something that makes them feel like they’re wearing gloves, but with their fingers free for typing on their computers and working in the yard. The Cigar Mitts pattern from Knitty has hands-down been a favorite amongst the men in my life. I knit all five fingers open at the top, and have yet to have any complaints!

Vancouver Hat. The simplest of hat patterns, perfect for just about anyone on your list. I’ve worked it up in both wools and acrylic yarn, and have had lovely results every time.


Basic Ribbed Sock. While this one calls for you to know their foot measurement, you can work up a pair of what is bound to be their new favorite socks thanks to this wonderful pattern. And now that sock yarns are being made in solid and semi-solid colors from most larger companies, you’re sure to find a color any man on your list will love to wear.


New York Scarf. Perfect for those who take mass transit to work, spend time outside shoveling snow, and in general need to keep their necks warm in style. This scarf has been on my list several times, and I have several friends who don’t leave home without their very own on cold winter days!


Peter Easy. Sweaters may be a bit of a challenge to finish in a weekend, but you can add a vest to your list without too much worry. I’ve got a few friends who love to rock a sweater vest in colder months, and this pattern is the perfect one – easily customizable, tons of sizing options to fit any man on your list, and once you pick the perfect neutral this vest can be worn with anything.


Next Monday we’ll discuss Quick Holiday Knits for women – trickier than you’d think!

weekending

Oct 16, 2010



Near our home there's a pumpkin patch - each fall our extended family rents a campsite space, builds a fire, eats some hot dogs, and picks out pumpkins.









This year, we went the no-spend route, only paying our admission but staying away from the over-priced pumpkins and treats.






Instead, I took a few photos - there would be more, but the sun went down, my battery died, and a few turned out blurry. Ah, well. There's always next year!









How are you spending your weekend?

Finding The Perfect Pattern For Your Stash Yarn

Oct 14, 2010
We’ve all run into this problem: we’ve got one skein of yarn sitting in our stash far too long because we have NO IDEA what pattern it should be made into. Maybe it’s a skein of novelty yarn you were given when you first started knitting, or some lace weight you purchased before you realized lace weight makes your left eye twitch uncontrollably.

No matter how it got there, each time you shuffle your yarn, pulling out skeins for donation or searching for yarn for your next big project, you see this yarn and are frustrated anew. You can’t bring yourself to get rid of it {The initial cost of the yarn? Gifted to you by a loved one?}, and so it languishes in the back of your stash, unloved and unused.


We all know my stance on keeping yarn around for guilt or sentimental reasons {short answer? Don’t do it!}, and I can’t come to your house and get rid of that yarn for you. I can, however, offer one key suggestion for using that yarn up to make room for new yarn that you will love – or better yet, to help you achieve minimalist knitter Zen.


Simply match a pattern to the yarn.


If you are on Ravelry, this process couldn’t be simpler. Here’s a quick photo tutorial to show you how.


You log on, go to the yarn tab, and type in the name of the yarn from your ball band.


Select the correct yarn from the list, and then click on the “pattern ideas” tab.

You will be given a list of not only possible patterns to use, but also photos of that pattern being used for that specific yarn by other Ravelers!

If you aren’t on Ravelry, you can make the process super hard for yourself by trying to do all of this through Google, or you can do what I'd suggest, and join the thousands of knitters around the globe who have already jumped in, and join up with Ravelry. It’s free, it helps you track your knitting projects, and you have the benefit of a knitting circle of men and women around the globe, ready to cheer you on as you achieve your knitting goals!

How Many Knits A Year? Knitting 10,000 Broken Down

Oct 12, 2010
Back in August I set the audacious goal to knit 10,000 items for charity in my lifetime. I’d already knocked out 100 in a year thanks to the One Hundred Hats project and was excited to really challenge myself to do something meaningful for the planet during my short time here. Without setting many rules or thinking too much about it {as is my way} I announced to the internet my intentions and set about knitting some hats for a local football team and crocheting some squares for charity.

 A few weeks ago, I decided to calculate just how many items I should really be knitting a year in order to reach my goal – just thinking “this is one more towards 10,000!” is fine and all, but to have a concrete goal for each year seems like the best way to go about this. According to Canadian Business online, I should live to be 86 years old. That gives me 53 years to knit 10,000 items. I also need to factor in the One Hundred Hats I knit last year, so really all I have to knit is 9,900.  

This means I have to knit 187 items a year for charity. Rather than being nervous at this number, or even overwhelmed, I’m super excited. I think I can do this. I have known several women who have knit well past 86 – my great grandmother was knitting hats and sweaters for babies at her local hospital until she was almost 100! – so knitting up to that age shouldn’t be a problem. And if I proved anything last year, it’s that I can knit at least 100 charity-based projects while still having plenty of time to knit for myself and for family/friends as well.  

It also means I need to start thinking in terms of plans. When I sat down and re-wrote my Life List, I added a few ideas for ways to hit my 10,000 goal. I included more hats, hats for babies, a few sweaters, and some squares. I thought mittens would be nice, and while I hate to knit full socks I thought making some yoga socks could be a fun thing to do.

After figuring out how many items I need to knit each year, I decided to get all sorts of Penelope for a few hours, and figure things out a bit more specifically. This means a list – yay lists! And since there’s a group of you reading who has been super interested thus far in my progress with knitting 10,000 items for charity, I thought I’d share my list/plan with you!

The “Official” Knit 10,000 Plan*

*subject to change at my whims. I am, after all, in charge.  

First and foremost, anything knit to this point will count towards the goal. We already knew that, but it bears repeating. To help alleviate some of the stress and panic I tend to feel when I think about big numbers, knitting tons of sweaters, and the like, I’m going on record right now and saying that 5,000 of these charity knits will be in the form of squares.

That goes above and beyond my first 100, my second thought of making 1,000 and allows for more of my project to be done over the course of some smaller knits, and actually mostly crochet! Say what you will about this, but while I love to dream big, I’m also a big fan of low stress levels and sanity, and declaring this eases almost any stress about this project almost immediately. I can crochet squares like the wind, and love all the fun granny square patterns I’ve seen. I crochet squares faster than I can knit them for some reason, and love to watch them form. The rest of the 4,900 knits will be broken up as follows:
    • One thousand hats – this includes the first One Hundred.
 
    • One thousand baby hats, donated to my local NICU.
 
    • At least one hundred pairs of mittens.
 
    • Fifty Project Linus blankets – or one done each year, during the coldest winter months.
 
    • Fifty Oatmeal sweaters, with a few mods worked in.
 
    • One hundred vests, all sent to Wool-Aid.
 
    • One hundred yoga socks, hopefully sent as a donation to the SF location of Yoga To The People.
 
    • One hundred pair of woolen baby pants.
 
    • One hundred pair baby booties.
On top of those 2,600 knits, already laid out into projects, I will be adding charity-specific projects as I go along. I’ve loved knitting the hats for Boystown, at least partly because it’s a local organization, I’m donating to a specific group for a specific need, and it’s a smaller project with more immediate results. I know I want to donate to a few groups that send items to the Pine Ridge Reservation, and I’d like to make a yearly donation to Nest: Maine. And I know that when I say “knit”, I truly mean both knit and crochet.

For the time being, I’m setting a goal of 200 knits a year – that’s above what I figured my yearly total to be, but within that goal, I’d like to make 100 of those be squares. I start my yearly count at my birthday, which means I have until June 13 each year to hit my goals. So there’s a better picture at my Knit 10,000 goal. In the coming days and weeks, I’m hoping to add a section to the sidebar that showcases the project a bit better, along with a counter that tracks my knits for the year.

How Many Knits A Year? Knitting 10,000 Broken Down

Back in August I set the audacious goal to knit 10,000 items for charity in my lifetime. I’d already knocked out 100 in a year thanks to the One Hundred Hats project and was excited to really challenge myself to do something meaningful for the planet during my short time here.

Without setting many rules or thinking too much about it {as is my way} I announced to the internet my intentions and set about knitting some hats for a local football team and crocheting some squares for charity.

A few weeks ago, I decided to calculate just how many items I should really be knitting a year in order to reach my goal – just thinking “this is one more towards 10,000!” is fine and all, but to have a concrete goal for each year seems like the best way to go about this.

According to Canadian Business online, I should live to be 86 years old. That gives me 53 years to knit 10,000 items. I also need to factor in the One Hundred Hats I knit last year, so really all I have to knit is 9,900.

This means I have to knit 187 items a year for charity.

Rather than being nervous at this number, or even overwhelmed, I’m super excited. I think I can do this. I have known several women who have knit well past 86 – my great grandmother was knitting hats and sweaters for babies at her local hospital until she was almost 100! – so knitting up to that age shouldn’t be a problem. And if I proved anything last year, it’s that I can knit at least 100 charity-based projects while still having plenty of time to knit for myself and for family/friends as well.

It also means I need to start thinking in terms of plans.

When I sat down and re-wrote my Life List, I added a few ideas for ways to hit my 10,000 goal. I included more hats, hats for babies, a few sweaters, and some squares. I thought mittens would be nice, and while I hate to knit full socks I thought making some yoga socks could be a fun thing to do.

After figuring out how many items I need to knit each year, I decided to get all sorts of Penelope for a few hours, and figure things out a bit more specifically. This means a list – yay lists! And since there’s a group of you reading who has been super interested thus far in my progress with knitting 10,000 items for charity, I thought I’d share my list/plan with you!

The “Official” Knit 10,000 Plan*

*subject to change at my whims. I am, after all, in charge.

First and foremost, anything knit to this point will count towards the goal. We already knew that, but it bears repeating.

To help alleviate some of the stress and panic I tend to feel when I think about big numbers, knitting tons of sweaters, and the like, I’m going on record right now and saying that 5,000 of these charity knits will be in the form of squares. That goes above and beyond my first 100, my second thought of making 1,000 and allows for more of my project to be done over the course of some smaller knits, and actually mostly crochet!

Say what you will about this, but while I love to dream big, I’m also a big fan of low stress levels and sanity, and declaring this eases almost any stress about this project almost immediately. I can crochet squares like the wind, and love all the fun granny square patterns I’ve seen. I crochet squares faster than I can knit them for some reason, and love to watch them form.

The rest of the 4,900 knits will be broken up as follows:
  • One thousand hats – this includes the first One Hundred.

  • One thousand baby hats, donated to my local NICU.

  • At least one hundred pairs of mittens.

  • Fifty Project Linus blankets – or one done each year, during the coldest winter months.

  • Fifty Oatmeal sweaters, with a few mods worked in.

  • One hundred vests, all sent to Wool-Aid.

  • One hundred yoga socks, hopefully sent as a donation to the SF location of Yoga To The People.

  • One hundred pair of woolen baby pants.

  • One hundred pair baby booties.

On top of those 2,600 knits, already laid out into projects, I will be adding charity-specific projects as I go along. I’ve loved knitting the hats for Boystown, at least partly because it’s a local organization, I’m donating to a specific group for a specific need, and it’s a smaller project with more immediate results.

I know I want to donate to a few groups that send items to the Pine Ridge Reservation, and I’d like to make a yearly donation to Nest: Maine. And I know that when I say “knit”, I truly mean both knit and crochet.

For the time being, I’m setting a goal of 200 knits a year – that’s above what I figured my yearly total to be, but within that goal, I’d like to make 100 of those be squares. I start my yearly count at my birthday, which means I have until June 13 each year to hit my goals.

So there’s a better picture at my Knit 10,000 goal. In the coming days and weeks, I’m hoping to add a section to the sidebar that showcases the project a bit better, along with a counter that tracks my knits for the year.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I’d love to hear them both in the comments!

Quick Holiday Knits: An Introduction

Oct 11, 2010
This is a series of posts, sharing some of my favorite patterns for holiday knitting. Broken up into six parts, you are reading part one right now.

Each year as the holiday season inches closer, I find myself overwhelmed by the number of presents I want to knit. I divide and conquer, make lists, queue items up in my Ravelry account, and get as far as matching yarn in my stash before the system starts to break down – usually in early November, in the form of a Robyn-sized pile of tears on our office floor as I realize I’ve over-estimated myself yet again.

Each year I revise my plan of action, feel much better about the whole thing, and get most of my updated plan handled before things need to be wrapped and given away. I make extensive mental notes, and the next year I vow to make far fewer mistakes – which I usually manage.

By this holiday season, I think I’ve got the whole thing down to a science - not just the patterns I'm using, but how I go about deciding who to knit for. Today I’ll share the general stuffs, and then over the next few Mondays I’ll share patterns with you {five each in five different categories} that can be worked up for a variety of people on your list in less than a weekend.

Before You Start Knitting

The best place to start any type of holiday knitting plan is before any actual knitting takes place. Because I’m a list-maker, I start by writing down all the people I can think of that I’d love to knit something for during the holiday season. This usually takes 20 minutes, and ends with about 60 people over two pages.
I like to make my wild, "if I could just sit around and knit all day" list first, because it gives me a good starting point. Let me be clear – this is not the list I knit from! Once my first list is written, I pull out a different colored pen and do the following:

I cross off at least half of the list.

I start with people who I know to not love the idea of hand-knits as presents. Every knitter knows this person – the pinched look and forced thank you that says "I will never use/wear this thing that took you hours upon hours to make". You know that hat will end up in their closet never to be worn the minute you see that look.  Take these people off your list.

Next, I cross off anyone I haven’t seen in at least six months. Friends, relatives, anyone. If I haven’t seen them recently, I have no idea what sorts of things they would want in a hand-knit. It’s okay to send these people a gift card, if I send them anything at all.

Finally, I cross off anyone that I wouldn’t give a present if I weren’t going to knit it. We all know the feeling - I'm a knitter, I love to knit, so I want to knit a present for every. single. person. i know. That's just silly talk, and is the first sign of a holiday plan gone wrong! If my goal is to become more minimalist, what better time to practice what I preach than the busy holiday season, no?

Finding Patterns

Once I have my list pared down, I get to find patterns – the fun part! It can seem overwhelming to find a simple pattern that would work perfectly for each person on your list, and I’ve felt that stress so much some years that I’ve given up all together.

Thankfully, I’ve found a staple set of patterns I turn to again and again – they knit up fast, look gorgeous finished, and suit a wide variety of people. I’ve tested them out, used them for myself as well as for gifts, and love every minute of knitting each of them!

Over the remainder of this series, I’ll be sharing with you my five favorite patterns each for men, women, kids, babies, and the home. For now however, make your list and then cross half the people on it off – we’ll begin the fun of attaching patterns to names on your list next Monday!

Ten {More} Minimalist Choices You Can Make Today

Oct 7, 2010

{see my first list here}


1. Donate something. Every single one of us has something in our possession we aren’t using, don’t love, or no longer need. I don’t care if you own only 50 things or closer to 5,000 – there’s something you can let go of. Box it up, bag it up, and take it down to your local Goodwill. Today.


2. Knit a square. Grab some of your acrylic yarn and knit {or crochet} a square for charity. I’m doing this every day, and will be donating One Hundred Squares to three charities. It’s a great stash buster, and helps you do a bit of good for the world.


3. Read an e-book. No need to head to the bookstore to check out the latest books on de-cluttering or living a more minimalist life – you can snap up an e-book for about the same price, and with much less physical clutter! I’ve reviewed some of my favorites over the last six months to help get you started.


4. Get a library card. Not only will you not have to buy as many books in general {save money! Save the planet!} but you’ll also probably find tons of great knitting books you didn’t know existed! I’ve found some great stuff at my local library, and if I’m honest Omaha’s library system isn’t near as good as some others!


5. Pick a knitting project and stick with it. You will get more knitting done, your knitting basket will be less full, and you’ll love knowing you don’t have ten different projects lurking around behind you.


6. Cut half the people off your holiday knitting list. I know this sounds cruel and possibly goes against all sorts of DIY beliefs about the holidays, but you just can’t knit for everyone. If you decide to knit presents this year, stick to giving smaller gifts like hats and phone cases {look for my full “hand-knit holidays” guide next week}, and only make them for people you know will appreciate hand-knits.


7. Knit something for charity, and from yarn in your stash. There is a charity that will take almost any object you will knit, made from just about any fiber you’ve got on-hand. Search through Ravelry, do a simple Google search {which is often how I find charities to donate to} or check out Lion Brand’s charity connection. Then cast on something you’ll love to knit with some yarn from your stash, and go to town. You’ll be helping others and you’ll drop some stash weight!


8. Unsubscribe from an e-mail list. We all sign up for them without thinking too much about it, and then they start to clutter up your inbox. Feel free to unsubscribe from the Minimalist Knitter newsletter if it’s not something you love getting each month, for that matter. The less clutter in your inbox, the more time you have to create!


9. While we’re on the subject, unsubscribe from a few blogs in your feed reader as well. I go on subscribing jags where I’ll start following any and every blog that catches my fancy. Before I know it, my feed reader is full of blogs I only sort of love to read. If it doesn’t give you new information, bring you joy, or help you learn something, get rid of it. you’ll be much happier for it.


10. Take five minutes to sit. Head outside, do this inside if you prefer, but take five minutes to just sit and listen – to your breath, to the noises around you, to what your heart is telling you. In the midst of all the chaos of our Western lives, sitting can be an amazing tool.


{image from Arianna Belle, via We Heart It}

Minimalism and Passion: Raam Dev

Oct 6, 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.

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


Today's interview is with Raam Dev. Raam Dev is a writer, changemaker, and digital nomad. He writes about sustainable abundance and practical minimalism on raamdev.com, and has an amzing six-part e-mail series Six Steps To Practical Minimalism that I love!


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


RD: My passions have always been learning and exploration. As a child, I had an endless thirst for knowledge; I wanted to learn everything there was to know. I still feel that way today, but I've discovered there is a secret to having more than seems possible.


In my quest to learn as much as possible, I was forced to focus only on the things that really mattered. I needed to eliminate everything from my life that didn't directly contribute to my goals. That led to a natural progression towards minimalism.


But as I adopted more and more minimalist philosophies, I discovered that the true beauty and value of minimalism is the way it makes us feel like we already have everything we need. Less really is more.


When we drop the scarcity mentality and adopt an abundance mentality, the entire world instantly becomes ours. Suddenly, the entire world with all its wisdom and knowledge becomes our playground where there are no restrictions or barriers, only challenges.


I no longer see the world as full of "knowledge I need to gain", but rather as "challenges that can teach me something". All I need to do is pick the challenges and hang on for the ride!


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


RD: Absolutely. The more I eliminated unnecessary things from my life, the more I started searching for a greater purpose. As I began to feel a growing sense of abundance surrounding me, I seemed to instinctively feel the need to share it, the need to redistribute and spread the abundance around to those who need it.


Earlier this year, I left the United States for the first time and spent six months backpacking in India, Vietnam, and Nepal. I traveled with just one small backpack; it was the most minimalistic lifestyle I had ever lived. I really felt as if the entire world was my home.


When I witnessed firsthand the extreme poverty, suffering, and inequality -- when I witnessed the extreme imbalance of abundance -- I suddenly knew what I was supposed to do: I needed to work towards a world of sustainable abundance.


My passions for learning and exploration are still there, but they no longer feel one-sided or only driven by self-interest.


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


RD: The "do more with less" mentality is really the abundance mentality in motion. When we're attached to less and we feel the abundance surrounding us, we have more freedom maneuver through life. We don't feel like we have less, and that empowers us to do more.


Instead of looking at things as either mine or not mine, I see the entire world as if it's available to me whenever I need it. That feeling of abundance and freedom makes me feel like a kid in a playground. I don't need to ask permission to create, dream, or innovate. My creative spirit is only limited by my imagination. Nothing feels lacking or missing, so my creative spirit always feels invigorated and alive.


We really don't own anything in this world. Even our own body is on loan for a certain amount of time (and even then, our contract can end abruptly without notice). Every single physical possession will cease to be ours when this life ends, so why should we worry about owning things and becoming attached?


Let go of the scarcity mentality and your creative spirit will soar freely.


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


RD: Minimalism for me is a way of life and I try to apply minimalist principles to every thought, decision, choice, and challenge. However, the thing that constantly trips me up is finding ways to live with minimalist principles in a materialist world.


I would love to possess nothing, but that wouldn't give me much freedom to navigate the world, gain new experiences, and share my knowledge. There are certain systems in place that directly conflict with minimalism and finding ways to work around those is an ongoing challenge.


If we want to apply minimalist principles to our own thought processes and internal development, the only thing holding us back is ourselves. But to apply those same principles to the world around us, we need to take into account the motivations and desires of everybody else. That's a challenge.


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


RD: Try to see the life as abundant and full of opportunity instead of looking at what you already have and then comparing it to everything else. Recognize that you're already complete and that objects add very little value to your life. Experiences, on the other hand, add enormous value.


You can only do so many things at once. Likewise, you can only make use of so many physical objects at once. How many of the things you currently possess are actually adding value to your life? If they're not adding value, they're watering down the value of everything else.




Looking for more Passionate Minimalists? The Minimalism and Passion interview archives are full of great stories!

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!

Mustard Scarf {Simple Knits}

Oct 5, 2010
While it may be the beginning of October and the rush for Halloween costume greatness is on the minds of most, I have been thinking of holiday hand-knits for at least a month now. I'm always on the look-out for a pattern that hits my personal trifecta for the holidays: it knits up fast, it looks good when finished, and I can use the pattern for at least three people on my large list.

Trifecta, meet the Mustard Scarf.

Mustard1

My first version of this amazing pattern from Jane Richmond, this scarf is not very mustard to be sure, but is perfect for its recipient - who picked out the yarn herself! Knit using massively large needles {size 15!} but using worsted weight yarn, this is a scarf that knits up quick and dirty, and would look amazing with just about any yarn.

I knit the Mustard Scarf a fair bit longer than the pattern calls for - meant to wrap around the neck just once, I wanted enough length to wrap around the neck at least twice before buttoning - the loose weave means more length will give better protection from the elements.
Mustard2

Despite this small change, the scarf only took a few hours to knit up - the pattern is quick to remember, and football on a Saturday to keep my mind occupied is the perfect setting for a holiday list attack of the Mustard Scarf variety to be sure.

If you know me in real life and are female, chances are one of these will make its way into your hands for the holidays - you will not be disappointed! I can't wait to try this sucker out on some nubby hand-spun, with some wooly goodness, and even rock out a few solids for good measure!

To see my notes on the project, head to my Ravelry page {anyone can view it}, and to knit one yourself, visit Jane's Ravelry shop and pick up the free pattern.

September Squares Update

Oct 4, 2010
It’s been a few weeks since I shared with you my goal to crochet 100 squares by the end of the year. I’ve been crocheting in the evening after I finish my knitting, while out watching football games {both in person and on television in bars}, and in any spare minute I can find. The beauty of crocheting squares is the portability, and I’m happy to share that I finished 21 squares in September!

I managed to work my way through about half of the green yarn I had balled up and ready to go when I started this One Hundred Squares challenge. My goal for October is to work through the rest of the balled up green and get at least halfway through the gold/browns bag I’ve set up.


I’m about halfway to filling up a box to send off to The Ghana Project, the first of three charities which will receive squares from me this fall. I always love sending squares to them, and get so excited to see new photos of finished afghans as the squares are sewn together.


Because I send squares that have their tails in the middles of the squares, I like to include a bit of extra yarn for sewing them together. One of the requests of The Ghana Project is that you leave the tails at least 10” long so they can use them to sew the squares together easier. Because my tails aren’t at the ends like on most squares, this ensures they don’t have to hunt for yarn.


In September, all the squares I knit have been based off the Quad Color Square pattern. I’m obviously using only one color per square, but the pattern followed is the same. I love that it’s a modified granny square, but there are far less holes between stitches, which makes it that much warmer – a bonus and a half for this thin yarn!




All of this amazing acrylic was donated to me by some lovely nuns who, upon reading about my One Hundred Hats project in the local paper, offered up a huge bag of yarn they’d had but weren’t using. Within I found several sweaters’ worth of wool, which I am happily putting to use for holiday presents and some charity donations, but there was also the mother-load of acrylic meant for blankets.

There were two just-started blankets in the bag, but neither had enough yarn included to finish them up. The yarn that wasn’t already on the needles is what I have been using thus far, although I am in the process of frogging both blankets and winding the yarn up into balls for this squares project as well.


It makes me so happy to think that this yarn, intended to be made into donated blankets, will end up living out its full purpose, if not exactly in the manner originally assumed. While I won’t be knitting up one or two full blankets, I will be sending on dozens of squares – possibly my entire One Hundred Squares will come from this yarn – to be added to blankets for children around the world!




The success of this One Hundred Squares project over just the past few weeks has got my mind turning. If I keep on this pace – 21 squares every two weeks – that means I’ll reach my One Hundred Squares goal in half the time I’d thought it would take.

Squares are, after all, a quick and somewhat easy way to knock out items for charity. And when one has set a huge goal of donating 10,000 hand-knits in her lifetime, quick and easy is not a bad thing.


Originally, I’d set a “mini-goal” on my Life List to work up 1,000 squares towards my 10,000 goal. With as fast as I’ve worked up this first group, I’ve decided that once I hit my One Hundred Squares goal, I’m just going to keep right on going until I hit 1,000.


I don’t intend to let square-making take over my crafting life – my hope is to use squares to supplement when bringing a larger project along doesn’t make sense, and for working up during those in-between times. I’ve got plenty of acrylic currently in my stash to work up, and once that’s gone I’m sure I can find some more at a local thrift shop, on Ravelry, or at my local big box craft store.


This means more updates like this – consider this the first of many monthly Square Updates!


{that blurry photo, by the way, was the last i took before getting my new camera. wanted to save it for posterity.}

September Squares Update

It’s been a few weeks since I shared with you my goal to crochet 100 squares by the end of the year. I’ve been crocheting in the evening after I finish my knitting, while out watching football games {both in person and on television in bars}, and in any spare minute I can find. The beauty of crocheting squares is the portability, and I’m happy to share that I finished 21 squares in September!

I managed to work my way through about half of the green yarn I had balled up and ready to go when I started this One Hundred Squares challenge. My goal for October is to work through the rest of the balled up green and get at least halfway through the gold/browns bag I’ve set up.


I’m about halfway to filling up a box to send off to The Ghana Project, the first of three charities which will receive squares from me this fall. I always love sending squares to them, and get so excited to see new photos of finished afghans as the squares are sewn together.


Because I send squares that have their tails in the middles of the squares, I like to include a bit of extra yarn for sewing them together. One of the requests of The Ghana Project is that you leave the tails at least 10” long so they can use them to sew the squares together easier. Because my tails aren’t at the ends like on most squares, this ensures they don’t have to hunt for yarn.


In September, all the squares I knit have been based off the Quad Color Square pattern. I’m obviously using only one color per square, but the pattern followed is the same. I love that it’s a modified granny square, but there are far less holes between stitches, which makes it that much warmer – a bonus and a half for this thin yarn!




All of this amazing acrylic was donated to me by some lovely nuns who, upon reading about my One Hundred Hats project in the local paper, offered up a huge bag of yarn they’d had but weren’t using. Within I found several sweaters’ worth of wool, which I am happily putting to use for holiday presents and some charity donations, but there was also the mother-load of acrylic meant for blankets.

There were two just-started blankets in the bag, but neither had enough yarn included to finish them up. The yarn that wasn’t already on the needles is what I have been using thus far, although I am in the process of frogging both blankets and winding the yarn up into balls for this squares project as well.


It makes me so happy to think that this yarn, intended to be made into donated blankets, will end up living out its full purpose, if not exactly in the manner originally assumed. While I won’t be knitting up one or two full blankets, I will be sending on dozens of squares – possibly my entire One Hundred Squares will come from this yarn – to be added to blankets for children around the world!




The success of this One Hundred Squares project over just the past few weeks has got my mind turning. If I keep on this pace – 21 squares every two weeks – that means I’ll reach my One Hundred Squares goal in half the time I’d thought it would take.

Squares are, after all, a quick and somewhat easy way to knock out items for charity. And when one has set a huge goal of donating 10,000 hand-knits in her lifetime, quick and easy is not a bad thing.


Originally, I’d set a “mini-goal” on my Life List to work up 1,000 squares towards my 10,000 goal. With as fast as I’ve worked up this first group, I’ve decided that once I hit my One Hundred Squares goal, I’m just going to keep right on going until I hit 1,000.


I don’t intend to let square-making take over my crafting life – my hope is to use squares to supplement when bringing a larger project along doesn’t make sense, and for working up during those in-between times. I’ve got plenty of acrylic currently in my stash to work up, and once that’s gone I’m sure I can find some more at a local thrift shop, on Ravelry, or at my local big box craft store.


This means more updates like this – consider this the first of many monthly Square Updates!


{that blurry photo, by the way, was the last i took before getting my new camera. wanted to save it for posterity.}
 
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