Nov 30, 2010

the tree is up!

I am so excited to share this ... our tree is finally up! I tend to spend most of November doing a little happy dance that soon our Christmas tree will be up and decorated.

We wait until the day after Thanksgiving each year to haul it out of the basement and add our ornaments - our own little tradition that I love, but get impatient for as we inch closer to December.

Stockings were hung
This year I put out of few indoor decorations and rocked out to holiday music while Zach added some lights to the outside of our house, and then we snuggled up on the couch, fireplace on and hot chocolate in mugs to enjoy the first bits of the season.

Nov 29, 2010

giving thanks

What a great Thanskgiving we had here in Omaha! We didn't travel, choosing instead to hang around, eat tons of turkey, and watch tons of football! I brought my camera along  and snapped a bunch of fun photos ...


The only thing missing? A few of my family members! Last year we had my brother Dan with us, and for several years before that we've been lucky to have almost all of my side of the family with us. This year was the first in a long time it was just his side, and I'm hoping that in years to come we can convince the Corwins to head our way again ... Apples to Apples isn't the same without brother laughter!

Simple Knits: November 29 - December 5

December is on its way, and with it comes even more holiday decorations - specifically wreaths! As I get my wreath done and ready for our door {and the tutorial written up to share in a few days}, I wanted to share a week's worth of wreath making.

Wrap wreath  

November 29: Wrapped Wreath {pictured above}. Featured in a 2008 issue of Crochet Today, you can make your own by simply wrapping yarn around a wreath form and then topping with crochet flowers! Easy-peasy, and a great decoration!

November 30: 12" Crochet Wreath. This larger wreath {Ravelry download only} is perfect for hanging on your door or using as table decoration!

December 1: Wreath Ornament. This adorable ornament twists around and uses up those remnants of yarn, while adding some handmade love to your tree!

December 2: I-Cord Wreath. A great way to practice I-Cord, these little wreaths would make great decorations or present-toppers.

December 3: Fun and Fast Wreath Pins. Perfect for gifting to co-workers and friends, these wreath pins will add a festive touch to almost anything.

December 4: Ring Wreath. Worked around a metal ring, these little wreaths work up fast and beautifully.

December 5: Christmas Wreath Dishcloth. Add some wreath love to your bathroom and/or kitchen with this fast knit!

Nov 23, 2010

a few Thanksgiving links

My goal for the next few days? Spend less time on the internet and more time with family {and knitting, of course!} - this means I'll be taking a bit of a digital sabbatical. I'll be off the blog, off Twitter and Facebook, and only occasionally checking e-mail.

While I'm gone, don't forget that if you purchase Holiday Made Simple before December 1st, you'll be signed up to receive an e-mail from me every day in December with some fun holiday tips and tricks to help make your season run a bit more smooth!

Until next Monday, here's a few fun Thanksgiving-minded links I've stumbled across in the past few days - enjoy!

Make a table runner using fabric scraps.
Yummy homemade hummus.
Add some pretty party balloons to your decorations!
Pretty up your mantle with a Thanksgiving theme.
Gorgeous November Leaves hat pattern.
Seven simple dining room DIY projects.
Some projects to celebrate fall.
Bite-sized pumpkin pies are too cute!

Nov 22, 2010

Simple Knits: November 22nd

The holidays are fast approaching, and hopefully you've got some time to focus on some quick projects to decorate your home as well as wrap under the tree!

Last week I shared a simple I-cord idea for garland, and it got me thinking. What if I don’t want to make that much I-cord, but still want some handmade garland for the holiday season? I took that physical challenge, and looked up the following knit and crochet garland patterns. They’re so cute, I had to share!


November 22nd: Flower Garland. This is a flower scarf, but I love that you can just keep going on it and make it into garland for your window, your tree, or your door!

November 23rd: Bauble Garland {pictured above}. Another item meant to be jewelry, but perfect for new crocheters, and easy to whip up yard by yard!

November 24th: Polka-Dot Garland. I want this so bad - and it's the perfect crochet garland to carry with you on Thanksgiving Day!

November 25th: Crochet Snowflake Bunting. The perfect decoration for around your windows or hanging from your tree!

November 26th: Advent Calendar Garland! What a fun way to celebrate Advent - with hand-knits

November 27th: Knitted Bunting. This is a more traditional garland piece, but I'd love to hang this across my fireplace mantle!

November 28th: Traditional-Looking Garland. This  looks most like traditional garland, and a great way to use up that Fun Fur!

Nov 20, 2010


Travel knitting

We were supposed to head to a football game last night, but a sick husband kept us home, curled up on the couch watching movies and knitting. At least my knitting got to travel with me to work and back!

Today and tomorrow are full of home improvement projects, more knitting, and hopefully some photo-taking as I snag as much time with sunlight as I can possibly manage!

And what are your weekend plans? Keep warm and healthy, no matter what you plan to do!

Nov 19, 2010

my very own handmade holiday challenge!

I read a post yesterday about how as a blogger I have to share how I’m living my message – I think lately I’ve gotten so caught up in stuff {writing an e-book, knitting commissioned items, general life stuff} that I’ve forgotten my goal of being more minimalist with my life – I’d still like to use what I’ve got, spend less money, and in general pare down my life.

However, it’s also the holiday season, which has traditionally been a time of spending, bringing new stuff in, and forgetting all my goals and plans completely! In an effort to reign myself in, get back to my crafty supplies, and remind myself of my minimalist goals, I’m creating my very own Handmade Holiday Challenge!

I’d like to do all of my holiday decorating, and as much of my holiday gifting, from what we’ve already got around the house this year {that's last year's tree above, by the way}. This means gone are my big plans for a brand new large wreath for our door, but let in is a new idea for a wreath-filled hanging thing for the door (if I can pull it off). Gone are some of the other plans I may have been plotting, but welcomed in are brand new ideas for how to make our home more holiday-tastic without purchasing a bunch of new things.

So I’m going to work on doing just that – using up the supplies I’ve got, working with what I’ve got, and crafting a more minimalist life. In the coming 30-some days, I’ll share as many of these projects and plans as humanly possible, along with instructions on how to create your own versions as well as how these projects and plans fit in with my idea of a minimalist holiday. Ready?? GO!

Simple Knits Is Switching Days!

pssst .... just wanted to let you know Simple Knits will now be shared on Monday instead of  Friday, so look for it to arrive on the 22nd, and every Monday after. Happy weekend!

Nov 18, 2010

dreaming of ...

While I knit away on holiday presents and plot new baby items for a friend who will be welcoming a little boy into her family in April (!!!!!), I can't help but dream of a few other things ...

Nola slippers

Slippers to cushion my cold feet all winter long, like these gorgeous ones from Spiderwoman Knits.

Skirts with elastic waistbands and long-sleeve tees like Naomi rocked with her pumpkin.
She and he

Our very own "she and he" book like the one Elise has been working on.
Lion brand

A pile of yarn like this ...

used to make an Oatmeal sweater like Jane's.

Can't wait to start sharing holiday projects next week ... I've got a few fun things up my sleeve already, and am excited to plot a few more as I stare jealously through our neighbor's window at their Chirstmas tree already up!

Nov 15, 2010

Quick Holiday Knits: For The Home

When you're at a loss for what to give someone, but know they love to receive hand-knits, consider gifting them with something they can use around their home. These types of gifts work especially well for newlyweds or those who have just purchased or rented a new home - everything is new to them, and it's the perfect time to gift them something new for their new abode!

Oh So Soft Washcloths. While the pattern says these are for babies, these are amazing for just about any home use.

Easy Peasy Dishcloths. Another pattern that’s perfect for gifting to new home owners, these dishcloths work up like a dream in your favorite cotton, and have always been one of the most well-used and well-loved gifts I’ve given.

Puff Daddy. A kitschy gift for a fun friend or perfect for a child’s room, this puff knits up quickly thanks to bulky yarn and big needles, and you can use recycled materials to stuff it. Win win for sure!

Knit Coffee Sleeve. Know a coffee-addict? This is the perfect little ditty to whip up for them. It will fit around almost any coffee mug, and the cabling detail will make them think you slaved for weeks, when it was only a few hours!

Free Pattern: I-Cord Tree Garland

Depending on how fast you knit with big needles and thicker yarn, this may take you longer or shorter, but whipping up some I-Cord Garland to adorn someone’s tree, bookshelves, windows or table is a great way to use up scraps or work through an especially thick ball of acrylic. Based off the idea from Soulemama, you can download the free pattern I wrote here, or follow the instructions below!
Materials Needed:
  • Worsted weight yarn in your color and fiber of choice. Grab from your stash here, folks - it will make a more festive garland!

  • Size 10 DPNs. You will only use two of them, or you can use a circular needle if you prefer.

  • Darning needle for hiding ends.

Cast on five stitches. Work in I-Cord stitch to desired length. Bind off all stitches and cut end. Weave end into the center of the I-Cord, and you're done!

Working the I-Cord Stitch:

The I-Cord stitch is super easy to work on it's own. Rather than work back and forth, you slide the stitches back and forth, creating a tube of knit stitches. Here's a video that will show you how to do it.

And that, as they say, is that! Here’s hoping I was able to share with you at least one or two patterns you can gladly use for each person on your list, making your holiday knitting time a bit easier and giving you some new ideas for those on your list that have had you stymied.

Remember, at the end of the season no one will know you cut down your hand-knits list, and people will appreciate small handmade items just as much as larger ones – sometimes more if they’re items they know will be used and loved!

Nov 13, 2010


Last night, on our way to a friends' home, it started to snow. Large, fluffy, wonderful flakes of wintery goodness.



Today, while we get ready for Husker football {by watching as much football as possible, naturally}, we're cleaning up around the house a bit. And curling up with our fireplace, a candle lit, and some yarn.

White yarn


Oh, and watching the cats pretend they DID NOT attack a remnant green ball of yarn.
What are you doing this weekend?


I love watching the cats pretend they are not attacking yarn. Please to ignore the filthy floor - I may need to vacuum.

Nov 12, 2010

Simple Knits -- November 12th

This week it's all about the hats! Yep, if you know how much I love to knit hats, this was an easy guess for you - I think a hand-knit hat is a wonderful and simple present to give to anyone, a great stash-buster, and the perfect way to test out a new stitch pattern or technique without having to commit to an entire sweater or blanket!



November 12th: Jane. This lovely hat is one I've made at least five times - once for myself, and then over and again for friends and family. I love the subtle keyhole stitch, the doubled-over brim, and I love how quickly it knits up.

November 13th: Cabled Baby Hats. Perfect for a first-time cabler, this adorable hat works up in a day and looks great on both baby boys and baby girls! One of my favorite gifts to give, this hat is the perfect gift for baby's first holiday.

November 14th: Walk In The Park. Back in January I wanted to knit one of these for every woman I know. While I didn't finish that goal, I'm still convinced this super simple hat would work as a gift for anyone on your list this season.

November 15th: Lace-Edged Women's Hat. Not sure if you love the idea of lace knitting? This hat is a great way to work yourself into lace - with just a bit at the edge of the hat, you'll just figure out if you like lace or not, and you're ready for the stockinette! No need to knit up an entire lace shawl, and you end up with a gorgeous hat, lace-lover or no.

November 16th: Stella. This is another hat I'd knit over and over again if I could - in fact, I might just! A few knits, a few purls, and suddenly you have a hat - what could be better?!

November 17th: Simple Pleasures Hat. This slouchy number {pictured above} is the perfect way to work through a skein or two of some of your fuzzier yarn, and is perfect for those on your gift list who'd love a super simple and cushy hat for the winter months.

November 18th: Bella's Eclipse. You don't have to be a Twilight fan to love the design of this hat. After knitting one up for the One Hundred Hats project, my husband commented several times that he'd love to have one of his own to wear, the striping was so cool.

Nov 11, 2010

A Day Off

Day off

Thanks to our union employees, I managed to snag a day off today. Zach has the day off as well, so we're spending it snugged up on the couch watching movies while I knit and crochet away, and at some point we might do some cleaning. What are your plans for the day, those of you that have it off?

Nov 10, 2010

Simplify Your Holiday In Five Steps

In just a week, Holiday Made Simple will be sent out to those who pre-ordered, as well as become available for immediate purchase. There’s just a few days left to get your copy of A Very Charity Holiday when you pre-order Holiday Made Simple – to celebrate, I wanted to share five easy ways you can simplify your holiday.

Holiday made simple

Schedule as many appointments before December 1 as possible. This includes getting your hair cut, taking your dog to the vet, doctor visits, and even a fresh oil change for your car. The more appointments you can tackle before December 1 rolls around and the holiday celebrations begin in force, the less stress you’ll feel as the month goes on.

Two. Mail as much as you can from you home – avoid the post office! Thanks to, you can send not just letters but packages directly from your front door. Simply weigh the package, and then print a label and ship! Lines at the post office are always epic in December, so anything you need to send – bills, presents, and more – are best shipped direct from your home.

Three. Donate the decorations you no longer use. Rather than continue to store box after box of holiday decorations you no longer us, consider donating them. You can bring them to your local homeless shelter, refugee center, or Goodwill. Or you can put an ad up on Craig’s List, offering them up for free to those who will come pick them up. Just get those old ornaments and decorations out of your basement!

Four. Make big batches of food to freeze, making meal planning a breeze. It’s hard to find time to cook between present-making, party attendance, and time with family and friends in December – make it easier by freezing meals ahead of time. Grill chicken breasts, brown hamburger meat, even pre-make lasagna or pasta and freeze it for those evenings when there’s no time to start from scratch!

Five. As soon as cards enter your home, use the envelopes to update your address book. This is the perfect time to be sure you’ve got the correct addresses for all those relatives you hardly ever see, and once you’ve got your book updated, you can toss the envelopes knowing you’re good for at least the next 364 days!

Nov 9, 2010

Color Coded Yarn Shelves

Thanks to some lovely donations by some wonderful folks, my yarn stash has jumped back up from a three-month stash to a much larger number. Most of that yarn has been sitting in bags in the office closet, and I’ve found myself rummaging through them, hunched over with my body half enveloped in the yarn, trying to find the skein I need for the project at hand.

This means of course that I have far more yarn than I’ll use in the next three months, and that some serious work needed to be done to get back to my minimalist yarn state. By Halloween weekend I’d had enough, and so I decided to take the shelves in our office that had heretofore been holding mostly random bits of stuff, and turn them into my yarn shelves.

Shelves before

Thanks to my new camera, I can now capture much more of the messy details of the shelves, and of just how non-minimalist the office still is. Piles of stuff are everywhere, most needing to be gone through and all the items donated – but isn’t it so much easier to sit down with needles and yarn and make something warm and cozy?

Thanks to some inspiration from Twinkie Chan’s shelves of color-coded yarn, I decided I was no longer going to hunch over bags or rifle through drawers, instead creating for myself a yarn-themed shelving unit!
First up was clearing off the shelves. At this moment, everything on those shelves is pretty much in one big box on the floor of the office – that’s this week’s project. Once the shelves were cleaned off and wiped down, I began to sort through yarn.

No photos unfortunately, of the disaster that took place over the course of about two hours. Suffice it to say, I made a pile on the floor of unfinished projects {of which there were around a dozen in the donated bags of yarn}, and began to pile the rest of the yarn onto the shelves, one skein at a time, and divided by color.

Shelves after

The shelves quickly took on colorful life. It’s amazing to head into the room and see my yarn at a glance, know what I have and what I can make with it all – it’s even better to know that I found yarn I’d thought I’d donated that I needed for a small project for a friend on the West Coast!

Once the yarn was on the shelves, the rest of the week was spent at the ball winder, undoing all the fantastic 70’s patterns – mostly sweaters – and transforming the yarn back into usable cakes. Those have now all been added to the shelves, all the old bags and patterns disposed of, and a big project called complete.

I’m excited to start knitting hats and scarves and cowls and mitts from all this yarn – I’ve already been pairing much of it with patterns for the shop in my mind, and wish for more hours in the day to whip through some of them!

The room is by no means done – I still have to tackle the stuff I pulled off the shelves, finish emptying out the closet, and work on a few craft projects to make the room feel more like and office and crafty space, and less like a catch-all. And I’m going to have to come up with some simple projects to sell in the shop to use up the majority of this yarn, as I want to get back down to my three-month supply by January 2011 if possible.

I’m happy to report the yarn re-organization has been a success though, and is something I’ll stick with for at least the next six months! Now, if only I could convince Zach to whip up some boards for inside each cubby – I’m dreaming of diagonal dividers like the fancy yarn shops have ….

Nov 8, 2010

October Squares Update

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! At the end of September, I smugly decided that I would be able to knit and crochet my way at least halfway through the squares for my goal in October - based on the numbers I'd managed to whip through in September, it seemed like a no-brainer.

October squares
It would appear I was sadly mistaken - I only managed to work through 12 squares the entire month. People, that's less than one every other day! And the worst part? I made them all pretty much in one evening, while hanging out at a friend's house watching a football game.

Looks like it's time to step it up for November - I need to whip through like 33 squares if I want to come close to finishing up my goal by the end of the year - a totally do-able thing, so long as I actually set myself to doing it.

I took the first steps the other day - while organizing my yarn onto the office shelves, I set up a bucket for all the little scraps. Now, when I'm up in the office {usually while Zach does the P90X workout in the family room in the evenings} I can just grab the bucket and crochet away for an hour or so - perfect for watching a movie and curling up in the office chair.

October Squares Update

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! At the end of September, I smugly decided that I would be able to knit and crochet my way at least halfway through the squares for my goal in October - based on the numbers I'd managed to whip through in September, it seemed like a no-brainer.

October squares
It would appear I was sadly mistaken - I only managed to work through 12 squares the entire month. People, that's less than one every other day! And the worst part? I made them all pretty much in one evening, while hanging out at a friend's house watching a football game.

Looks like it's time to step it up for November - I need to whip through like 33 squares if I want to come close to finishing up my goal by the end of the year - a totally do-able thing, so long as I actually set myself to doing it.

I took the first steps the other day - while organizing my yarn onto the office shelves, I set up a bucket for all the little scraps. Now, when I'm up in the office {usually while Zach does the P90X workout in the family room in the evenings} I can just grab the bucket and crochet away for an hour or so - perfect for watching a movie and curling up in the office chair.

Quick Holiday Knits: For Babies

These five patterns are the ones I knit over and over again – for both boys and girls, babies I get to hold once a week or those I may never get to meet in person, these patterns all work up quickly, stand up to the wear and tear of a little one, and are always loved by the adults in the baby’s life!

Pebble. I love to make this vest! It works up quickly, and the addition of adorable buttons along the side makes this a quick-change item for new moms – perfect to add a bit of warmth without the worry of pulling it over a squirmy baby’s head!

Kanoko Pants. I fell madly in love with the Kanoko Pants pattern several years ago, and have made it several times since. Read my Simple Knits review of the pattern here.

Snug As A Bug Sleep Sack. Frustrated with sleep sacks that used fingering weight yarn and took weeks to knit up, over a year ago I came up with this worsted-weight version and have been delighted to watch as people from around the world have knit this pattern, both for babes in their lives and for charity!

Oh, Handsome Sweater. Perfect for all the little men in your life, this sweater seems like the perfect first or second holiday season present. With just a touch of manliness, this sweater seems best knit in wools and wool-blends, with a tweedy yarn setting the pattern off best. I love to knit this one for the little men around me!

Cabled Baby Hats. I cannot think of a baby that has been born in the last year that I haven’t made this hat for. It has been in donation bags for my local hospital, mailed across the country, and kept close to home as neighbors have given birth. It can be whipped up in a day’s time, and looks gorgeous no matter what color or fiber yarn is used.

Roselette Top. Did I say five patterns? I meant six, with this last a crochet pattern at that! I have whipped up this Roselette Top for several little girls now, and each time it turns out perfectly and becomes a beloved wardrobe staple. Whips up fast with any type of yarn, and works well as a charity knit also.

Our next installment covers all things for the home – it’s a not-to-miss, as there’s a free pattern included!

Nov 7, 2010



After watching the Huskers pull out a win in OT yesterday {wish we could have been there!}, my weekend has been packed full of hat knitting, kitty snuggling, hockey with friends, Watson killing his pet duck, and Mama's Pizza tonight! A good weekend for sure!
What have you been up to this weekend?

Nov 5, 2010

Simple Knits — November 5th

I'm super excited to start bringing you more simple knits to whip up in no time at all. My criteria for these projects? Either they can be worked up in under a week, or the stitch pattern is simple enough that even if the project takes a little longer {sweaters, blankets and such} you don't feel like pulling your hair out the entire time!

To kick things off, I've mined my Google Reader for some fun finds. The plan is to share one for each day of the coming week - so each Friday you'll get a sweet pattern suggestion for said Friday through the coming Thursday!


November 5th and 6th: Sophie's Slouch And Mitts {pictured above}. Another great set from Through The Loops, and with only a bit of cabling these items should whip up in no time!

November 7th: The Super Easy Baby Blanket. While this one will probably take you longer than a day to complete, the garter stitch squishyness can't be beat, and you can seriously use any colors, fibers, and needle size to get this one accomplished!

November 8th: Holly, Ivy or Steve. Looking for a few cute projects to knock off for the holiday season? Check out these three adorable mini monsters from Danger Crafts! I've got a few of their larger counterparts on the docket for Christmas presents, but these little guys are ornament-sized, so they should take less time to finish up!

November 9th: Ribbed Hand Warmers. Super simple, and depending on color choice would work for either a man or a woman. Ribbing means you really don't have to focus on sizing as much, and can let the knitting take you over!

November 10th: Tephra Pullover. The majority of this gorgeous sweater is stockinette stitch, containing just a bit of patterning to keep it interesting. Could be the perfect knit for a traveling holiday season - long car rides are the best time for rows of stockinette.

November 11th: Round out your week with the Lovely Leaf Lace Scarf. Just a bit of leafy detail at both ends makes this scarf a gorgeous hand-knit present for a loved one, but all that stockinette in the middle means you don't pull your hair out working with charts for hours on end!

Next week I hope to bring a bit of themed action to the Simple Knits party - should be easy to figure out where I'm going to focus, if you know what I love to knit best!

Nov 4, 2010

Introducing ... November Holiday Spotlights!

I wanted to take up some space this holiday season showcasing some of the blogs and shops I love to spend web-time flipping through. Rather than just put up some sidebar buttons all willy-nilly, I sent out a few e-mails and was blessed to have a few lovely ladies and gents sign on to test-run this sidebar feature.

Today I'm going to take a few minutes to introduce them to you - be sure to swing on into each of their virtual homes and say hello!

I've read Elise's blog for several years now - I think she'd just moved to the East Coast to be with her love Paul when I discovered her. Now she's a married lady living on the West Coast and crafting amazing things out of paper and photos!

I'm super excited to be sharing a link to her holiday books with you - these books are the perfect way to preserve your holiday memories, and each is handmade! Perfect for the photos you take, jotting down daily thoughts on the season, or using for a December Daily album!

Last month I advertized on Liz's blog, and was touched by the number of people that swung by to say hello and visit me and this little space. Now that Liz has Little Gray Suitcase open for business, I'm excited to help her promote it.

Packed full with vintage and indie finds, LGS is the perfect online stop for thrifty-minded ladies looking to add a one-of-a-kind new piece to their wardrobes. Liz's eye is tremendous, and I already want at least half the items she's got listed! Your best bet is to head there now and beat me to the punch, for sure!

How much do I love Jane Richmond? Well .... those of you who have been around for some time know I used as many of her patterns as I could for the One Hundred Hats project, and that I continue to knit them up on a regular basis for friends and family.

Jane's design sensibility when it comes to knitting patterns is something to behold - she's able to take a gorgeous piece and whittle it down to simple and easy-to-follow instructions so even those of us who tend to -ahem- take liberties with patterns can't screw it up too bad!

I'm excited to finally be able to give back a little to this lady who has brought so many great patterns to life! {p.s. - Jane, if you're listening, can you make the Oatmeal pattern into a cardi?}

Actual Web Space is the brain child of my friend Raam. After spending several months living with less than 50 things while traveling the world, Raam is now plotting how to change the world while giving back as much as possible!

I'm excited that he's also hosting web space now as well - the rates are comparable with places like Dreamhost and Go Daddy, and i'm betting you'll get some superstar customer service to boot!

I've followed the blogging adventures of all the ladies from Red Velvet off and on for some time, but I'm consistently most inspired by Rachel's home/family balance, shared at Smile and Wave. This mama of two small kiddos and wife to a military man makes it all look easy - all while being honest about just how easy it truly is not.

If I could pick her up and bring her to Omaha to help me style my home and myself, I'd do so in a heartbeat - with a little more minimalist bent, of course! Looking for inspiration? Head here for sure!

Last but not least there's Elise, founder of Red Velvet and the blogging goddess of A Beautiful Mess. This lady awes me with all she accomplishes - blogging several times a day, opening her own successful resale and crafty shop, running an online business, and consistently producing amazing online courses.

I want to learn to snap photos as gorgeous as hers, to style my wardrobe as feminine and spunky as hers, and to promote myself and succeed as well as she does!

Thanks so much to each of you for letting me share your stuffs in this space - direct links to these lovely folks will be up in the farthest right sidebar for the rest of the month, and through December as well!

If you like the idea of this - sharing small businesses and crafty-minded folks in an ad-like way, please let me know. I'm considering making it a regular part of the blog, and would charge a nominal sponsor fee if people like it. In exchange, I'd be able to bring you giveaways, more fun links to amazing crafty content, and so much more that I can't even begin to imagine - I'm excited just thinking about it!

For now, give these folks some web-love: swing on by their blogs and shops and tell them how you found them, and if you like what they're offering up!

i’ve got the blues

... but not like you'd think! After getting most of my yarn organized into the shelves in the office {photos of that monster process early next week!} I snapped this photo.

I just have so much blue yarn! Much of it has been donated, but as I look at the projects I've been making lately, I notice just how many of them have a blue theme - two pairs of blue baby pants, a blue monster, a blue-ish gray scarf, blue hats abounding - and I realize just how much I love the color blue in the fall and winter.

With everything turning so cold in the Midwest, I gravitate away from the warm reds, oranges, and golden colors of the leaves and towards cool-tones like blues and grays. So I started looking through some of my recent saved images from We Heart It - more blues!

What are you favorite colors for the fall and winter seasons?

Nov 3, 2010

Live The Change

Yesterday Everett Bogue wrote an article about becoming an a-list minimalism blogger. While I’m not sure yet I even want to be an a-list anything, I loved the challenges he put forth to his readers – he gave nine tips for beefing up readership to your blog, and each was really a challenge to be a better person both on and off-line.

Cowl test

I may not always agree with everything Ev says, but I love his first tip – live the change you want to make in the world. It got me thinking: how am I living the change I want to make in the world, both on my blog and off?

I am knitting for charity. I want our world to be one where no one goes hungry, or gets cold, or has to survive without clean water. And so I donate – I give to organizations like Kiva, Charity: Water, and Doctors Without Borders. I sponsor the education of a child overseas. And I knit and crochet for charity.

Some months I do better than others – as will be evidenced by my October squares round-up tomorrow – but I make time each month to knit items for others. I do not deal well with the people around me going without warm woolens for the winter months, and my passion extends out to all the people of the world. Quite honestly, if I could figure out a way to get paid to knit solely for charity, I’d do it in a heart-beat.

I share my knitting in this space, and feature simple patterns even the most beginner knitters can pick up and work through. One of my long-term goals listed on the first piece of notes I took for this space was “share easy knits”. I wanted to make this space full of easy projects anyone can do – even if you’ve never picked up knitting needles or held a crochet hook in your hand, I wanted to be sure you could join in on the fun and make stuff for others.

Again, this is something I’ve done better at some months, and not as good in other months. To bring more of these simple knits your way I’m going to start featuring not just projects I’m working on, but also great patterns I’ve found that fall under the “simple knits” category that I haven’t gotten to yet.

Plus, now that I’ve got a better camera, I’m hoping to be able to get more photos of the items I’m knitting in general as well. I find myself constantly working on simple knits, and I should be sharing more of them with you.

I am consistently paring down what I own, and sharing the process here. While so many bloggers seem to have decided in one day to live with less than 100 things and tossed everything else, for me it’s been a difficult process to let go of my attachment to stuff. While the majority of this is based in fear {isn’t it always?} I know that because I was taught that the more stuff you had, the more it meant you were happy and well-off, I am butting up against deeply ingrained habits when I toss or donate the stuff I no longer want.

There is guilt abounding: over how much I’ve purchased and not used, over how much I am adding to the landfills, and mostly over all the poor choices I’ve made with my money in the past. There are questions left and right: what if I end up needing this after all, what happens when I don’t head to the store every few days just to shop, will I feel guilty when I need to purchase new yarn?

What I’ve learned is that the process is just as valid as the destination. Many of the minimalist bloggers I read didn’t start sharing their journey until they’d already gone through these steps, and so to me it seems like it was the easiest thing in the world to pare down – I was not there during the process however, so truly I have no idea how hard it may have been.

I chose to share my journey from day one, and I love that I’ve been able to walk this path with all of you – showing off items I’ve donated, sharing my struggles with letting go of most of my knitting supplies, and photographing the fine lines between too much yarn and not enough.

These three things are good, but there is much I am still not doing to live the change I want to see in the world. I still shop. We still watch too much television. I still eat fast food, and junk food, and not enough veggies. I still head to the craft store and wander aimlessly with friends on the weekends occasionally.

I want to do more with this little space I’ve carved out on the internet – share more tutorials and ways for you to use up the crafting supplies you have while making stuff you can give to others, give away more patterns, promote other bloggers and crafters who are part of the minimalist movement.

I want this space to become a haven for minimalist crafters – those who are choosing to use the minimum amount of supplies and those who are choosing to craft simple projects and give them to others. With all the magazines, stores, and many other blogs telling us we need this new tool or that new supply to make our crafting time complete, I want to be sure I’m carving out a space that says WHAT YOU HAVE IS ENOUGH. WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS ENOUGH.

On Tuesday I shared some of the shifts that this blog will take in the next six months. My hope is that through these shifts I can better be that change I want to see in the world – that I can inspire you to give more to charity, to knit simpler and with less, and to create to your heart’s content!

For those of you who are new here, and want to dig deeper into the idea of minimalism, here’s a few great resources to help you out:

Everett Bogue’s first e-book The Art Of Being Minimalist was the first I read on the subject, and it was the catalyst for tons of change in my world.

Chris Guillebeau’s blog The Art Of Non-Conformity was the first blog I read on minimalism, living your best life, and carving out a unique space in the world. To this day he remains my go-to writer, as well as friend.

Brett Oblack has a great book for creative types called Consume Less, Create More. It was the first time I saw minimalists give advice specifically to the creative set.

My free e-book The Minimalist Knitter’s Handbook talks specifically to knitters, and shares my path towards a more minimalist knitting life.

Nov 2, 2010

Six Month Shift

Things have been shifting around for me a lot in the last six months or so. I began writing about minimalism and the challenges of becoming more minimalist while a crafter and someone who owns a ton of stuff. I’ve written two e-books. I’ve made some amazing friends online.

While all this has been going on, I’ve been slowly knitting my way through my yarn stash – you wouldn’t know it to look at it though, as people just keep giving me yarn! This is not a bad thing, as I haven’t needed to purchase any in quite some time.

In the past six months I’ve also realized I own far too many things, and have struggled with how to get rid of them all when the attachment is still so strong. And I’ve learned I like to shop a lot more than I thought I did!

Through all of this discovery I have also been feeling a slow shift internally – a shift towards smaller and less, from big dreams to more compact, and from large desires to tinier ones. I’ve been looking around me and discovering I’ve been building up around me more and more things {websites, projects, plans and ideas} when I truth what I want is less, less, and even less.

The past few weeks have been spent dreaming and planning – I’ve been trying to imagine how I want my life to look in six months, one year, five years from now. At each timeframe, I see a few distinct things – children, a small knitting business, crafting constantly, writing – and yet when I look around at my daily life many of these things are not yet present.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during this first part of my minimalist journey has been to follow my heart and passions. We tend to focus more on filling our lives up with tons of meaningless crap when we’ve got no focus, no passion to drive us – now that I’ve been pushing myself towards my passions, I’m seeing a slow shift away from the desire for all that crap.

But to follow my heart and my passions even further, a few things necessarily need to shift, and possibly shift hard. I’m getting super excited for these next steps in my life journey, but these next steps involve a fair amount of shifting – and some of that will be evident here at Minimalist Knitter.

I’m going to begin sharing more of my crafting. While knitting is a huge passion of mine, I’ve got a love for all types of crafts that I haven’t been sharing too much in this space. In general, if I’m honest, I’ve let the rest of my crafting love fall by the wayside as I’ve embraced my knitting needles, and I’ve missed fabric and paper and glue guns and staples, so it’s time to shift back to those a bit.

This means I’ll be sharing more crafty projects with you all! I’ve got tons of fun projects either just completed or queued up and ready to go, and I can’t wait to start sharing more of my crafty side in this space.

I’m changing up the Simple Knits focus a bit. While I love sharing my finished knits, there are so many more amazing simple knit patterns out there I don’t have time to knit but would love to share with you, and so I’m making a change. Going forward, I’m going to make Simple Knits a more regular feature, and share not just what I’m making, but some of the amazing patterns out there that you may love as well.

I had tried to do this for a bit over at Knit The Day, but the regular schedule of it combined with splitting my focus left me totally burnt out for about a week – which is when I decided to combine the two into a feature here.

Now you’ll get a more round-up style post once a week {most likely on Fridays} or so with some of the great Simple Knits I’ve found on the internet recently, as well as my continuing to share the finished knits I’ve fallen in love with.

I’ve added some “ad space” to the blog. For now, I’m not charging for this space and am instead featuring some of the blogs/shops I love, but am considering adding an advertising portion to the blog. This is something I’d love your thoughts on, actually – minimalist blogs tend to think ads are for suckers, but more and more crafty blogs consider them a great way to promote other small business owners. I’m torn – I love the idea of supporting other like-minded folks, but don’t want to turn off those of you who head here for a dose of minimalist fun. What do you think?

All of these shifts are actually tied to a much bigger shift, and one I’m the most excited about. I’ve set up a small Etsy shop under the Minimalist Knitter name, and have begun listing items to the shop! You’ll be able to find patterns for sale as well as finished hand-knit accessories such as hats, scarves and even yoga socks!

My current plan for the shop is to use some of the patterns I’ve been working on in my “spare time” for the finished knits, and to list a items up a dozen or so at a time once every few weeks. I’ll be letting people on the newsletter list only know before I update the shop, so if you’re interested in that sort of information you’ll want to join up {if you haven’t already}.

 **My first big shop update {currently only a few patterns are for sale} will happen around November 10th - 15th.**
One of my big life goals is to work for myself, and this is a huge step in that direction – it will help me shift from knitting so much and so often for others for free to a better business model, while freeing me up {strange as that may sound} to do more charity knitting. I will be able to knit more of what I love, and will also figure out if I can knit enough in any given month to match what I make at my day job.

I’ve got big long-term plans for the shop as far as charity partnerships go, but for November and December I’m all about quick holiday gifts – these are the items that are perfect for almost anyone on your list thanks to their minimalist construction and neutral colorings.

That’s quite a lot of shift for a short amount of time, no? I’ve learned in the last few months that I don’t do well with sitting on ideas, letting them simmer, and working on one thing at a time. While I was writing Holiday Made Simple I was working on a few guest posts, plotting my holiday hand-knit presents, and completing the Boystown Hats project. Looking ahead, I realized I didn’t have a ton on my schedule for November/December, and so ideas began to form.
I’m excited to see how these shifts will move me closer to the life I know is perfect for me. I’m excited to look at minimalism a little closer through the eyes of a crafter, and can’t wait to explore that with you via some articles I’ll be cooking up as well as the craft projects I’ll be sharing.

I’m bursting at the seams with ideas right now, and so while these first six minimalist months have been all about settling into a new state of mind and testing the waters, these next six will hopefully be about sharing and ideas and crafting and pulling it all together in a new way.

I’m excited to begin, and hope you’ll love this new-ish ride! Feel free to ask me any questions, or let me know your opinions in the comments {especially on the whole ad-space thing} – I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments, and share more details on these shifts in future posts.

Nov 1, 2010

Quick Holiday Knits: For Kids

Knitting for the children you know {for purposes of this guide, 2 years and older} may just be the hardest set to please. Full of their own opinions, it can be hard to match just the right pattern with just the right yarn in just the right color, and I’ve been known to give up and just give books or gift cards.
You can prevail in this fight, however – these five patterns have proven time and again to be instant crowd-pleasers and take much less time than you’d think! One of these patterns is sure to please even the most picky of children on your list!

Monsters from Danger Crafts. File these adorable monsters under “it looks harder to knit than it is”, because you can whip up any of these adorable creatures in just a few days’ time and be someone’s favorite aunt! My personal favorite is Maddox, but any one of these adorable little monsters will fit the bill!

Spring Shirts For Girls. The Spring Shirt pattern is one of my go-to knits for girls between the ages of 2 and 10. It works up fast, can be made in any type of yarn, and so long as you get the right color it’s bound to be a hit. The pattern is a dream to follow and thanks to the simple no-seaming-required technique, you’ll only have a few ends to weave in before this can be wrapped up!

Legwarmies. Legwarmers have officially made their way back into fashion, and it’s no wonder with such gorgeous designs as these! Worn over tights, under pants, with boots, flats or sneakers, almost every little girl I know wants a pair of these to call her own!

Milo. A newer find, Milo may soon become my go-to vest pattern for children. It can be worked up using one of the four cable stitch patterns given, plain, or embellished as you wish – no matter how you do it, this pattern works up fast and looks gorgeous when complete.

Gooseberry Hat. This free Ravelry download was part of my One Hundred Hats project, and has since become one of my go-to hat patterns for kids. I love the simple construction as well as the fact that it is gender neutral.

Next time we tackle by far my favorite type of hand-knit to gift – baby knits!