Jul 29, 2013

100 Hats for 100 Kids

I ran across a new group forming on Ravelry this morning, and wanted to share! 100 Hats For 100 Kids is in support of foster children served by Caring Family Network a non profit organization contracted by the State of TX to serve the daily needs of Foster Children and the families with which they live. Many of these kids have never had a special only for you gift like a hand knit or crochet winter cap. The specifications are as follows:
  • There is no standard pattern and we want unique items.
  • Average winter temps are above freezing, but it is very windy from November to February.
  • Please use acrylic or washable yarn… in a Foster home laundry is a group chore and making it easy is important.
  • Please use neutral colors that can be both boy and girl hats.
  • Biggest ask is for 50 school child hats (elementary school child first to fifth grade)
  • For Teens fashion forward colors are great
We are out to give 800 hats, scarves, mittens, and gloves to foster children this year!! The PO Box for sending Donations is as follows:

100 Hats for 100 Kids
PO Box 140287
Austin, TX 78714 USA

I love that this homegrown organization is looking to bring something handmade to the foster kids in Texas! I have a brother who lived in Texas for many years, and he'd always tell me that for Texans, the winters there feel as cold as our winters feel to us up here in Nebraska. They wear huge winter coats and bundle up just like we do, even if to us "northerners" the temperatures would seem mild.

And remember, school-aged kids have larger heads than you'd think -- if you plan to make hats to donate to this cause, make them at least 19" circumference (or 9.5" across when laid flat).

Jul 27, 2013


pattern: Norby, by Gudrun Johnston  
yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Solids (122 yards, 75% of the skein)  
needles: US 9 / 5.5 mm 16" circulars and dpns

This is not my first time knitting Norby, nor will it be my last. I love how easily adaptable this pattern is to different fibers and yarn weights -- the pattern is written for DK weight wool, and I've consistently knit it up using worsted weight acrylic with fabulous results!

This Norby hat is a well-belated gift for a co-worker, who asked me to make her one far too many months ago. It kept getting pushed back on the queue, and finally I just stopped everything else I was doing so I could make it, and write down my mods in the process.

Because I used a thicker weight yarn, I had to make several modifications. I cast on just 77 stitches, increasing every 7th stitch rather than every 11th. I also only knit two full repeats of the pattern before beginning the decreases, which still gave a nicely slouchy hat.

When this pattern is knit up with the correct weight yarn it has several more ribbed chevron sections before the decreases, but I like that having so few doesn't upset the pattern or the look of the hat in any way.

The best part of this pattern is the speed with which it can be knit. I both started and finished this Norby in the same day, from casting on to weaving in ends. A hat this quick is perfect for charity knitting, and the pattern is easy to remember once you get going!

My only complaint about this pattern would be the price -- at $6.50 it seems a hefty sum to pay for a simple hat pattern. Now that I've worked with it a few times I know I'll use it again and again, and have no problem recommending it to you, but be aware of the price before you click over to buy.

Jul 23, 2013


pattern: Jul Hat, by Jenny Gordy  
yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice (almost a full skein)  
needles: size US 10 / 6.0 mm

I made one huge modification while knitting with Jenny's Jul pattern -- I knit it with heavy worsted weight yarn. The pattern itself calls for a very light DK weight yarn and sizes 4 and 6 needles, but I wanted to work with what I had on-hand, so sizing it up was done.

When you use a thicker weight yarn than the pattern calls for, you have to make several calculations. First, your cast on number must go down, sometimes drastically.

When you decrease your cast on number, you need to keep a few things in mind:

1. Am I able to keep the ribbing on the hat brim the same?

2. Will the stitch pattern be disrupted?

3. Will I need to alter the decrease sections any?

In the case of Jul, the stitch pattern and decreases were based off the same number as the ribbing, so as long as I decreased by an even 4 stitches I was in good shape. This is not always the case, and I've been burned halfway through a hat before when using different yarn -- if you're going to do this, be sure to read the entire pattern and check your numbers before you start!

 I love the way the Jul hat turned out -- I'm sure it's gorgeous with the right weight yarn, but this thicker weight makes for a nice unisex hat that's super warm when the weather turns colder!

Jul 8, 2013

let's build a maternity clinic together!

This month I have the distinct pleasure of helping build a maternity clinic in Asiri, Ghana. Asiri is a small rural village addressing the critical issues of maternal & infant health and obstetrics in the village.

While traditional midwife practices have been used as long as the village has existed, there are many aspects of it that are potentially exceedingly damaging and life-threatening to both mother and child. Babies are often pulled out too roughly, causing life-long damage to the child’s body, and aren’t given to the mother to nurse upon delivery. Gloveless fingers inserted into the mother continuously during labor, between the midwife cooking food, caring for children and going about her daily life, readily create infection.

Among countless other concerns, there is no testing for diseases, HIV/AIDS, or anything else, as there is for births in proper clinics. (from the Indigogo site)
Imagine being a woman or girl in a dusty rural village, walking into an unlit room without access to electricity or running water. You remove all of your clothing and lie down on the cement floor as labor pains wrack your body. You prepare yourself for the most painful event of your life, one that very well might kill you.
There are no drugs to dull your pain, no gloves to protect you from germs, no instruments to monitor your baby's progress, and not a single doctor or nurse nearby. Labor will continue for hours on end, perhaps even days. This is the most natural human phenomenon in the world, yet it's absolutely terrifying. You have lost control of your body. You know of many women and infants in the village who have not survived this.
Once your baby is born she is placed on the ground off to the side while the midwife focuses on you - the one with the better chance of survival. Once you are cleaned up and sleeping she turns her attention to the baby. Hopefully the baby doesn't aspirate amniotic fluid or meconium since there is no bulb syringe to clean out her nose and throat. Hopefully she doesn't need medical attention because none is near. Hopefully she will live..
This story seems so foreign to me -- when I had Owen it was in a well-stocked and amazingly staffed hospital, surrounded by the best my city (and my health insurance) could offer. Had I given birth to Owen in rural Africa, where this story originates, my chances of survival would have been slim due to Owen being breech and my needing a C-section.

I became acquainted with Jasmine, the Peace Corps worker raising the funds for the new maternity clinic, when she contacted me, requesting my help. Excited at her ideas, I immediately jumped on board! Jasmine has started an Indiegogo campaign, which will run for just 26 more days! She is looking to raise just over $14,000 to finish building the much-needed maternity and birthing clinic that will be used to not only build the clinic, but help stock it full of supplies!

Your donation of as little as $20 will help bring this much-needed clinic to life! For my part, for every $20 donation made I will be sending a handmade cap to the clinic! My hope is to stock the shelves full of hats for babies who will be born for years to come -- and I need your help!

Right now the campaign has reached 10% of its goal, leaving quite a bit to go in the next 26 days. Won't you consider donating just $20 to this amazing cause? I'm excited to make as many hats as donations, and will be sharing photos here each week, as well as on Instagram!

Jul 4, 2013

hats on people: Shawn Mihalik

pattern: Streetwise Brim, by Sharon Mann  
yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice (122.4 yards, or 75% of the skein)  
hook: size I / 5.5 mm

I was introduced to Shawn Mihalik through Asymmetrical Press, the publishing company we both work with. Shawn is, among other things, a phenomenal writer, and I fell deeply in love with his most recent work, a young adult novella The Flute Player.

Shawn is a gifted writer -- his words float through your mind, transporting you into the character's world and leaving you breathless in the end. I am very lucky to be working with him, and already can't wait for his next novel, Brand Changing Day, to be released!

When Shawn asked me to make him the Streetwise Brim hat, I was a bit nervous. I've attempted this hat before, and despite the simple instructions, the hat has always looked a bit strange when finished. This time around I made several modifications and ended up doing two almost full drafts before finishing the hat -- and it turned out perfectly!

For starters, I sized up my hook one. I knit tight, which means I also tend to crochet tight, and between that fact and the yarn I was using, a larger hook made sense. However, because of the larger hook, I also didn't need as many increases -- this is where I've gone wrong in the past. I've continued to increase far too long, and the hat ends up far too wide for any normal human head! This time, I increased to just 66 stitches, and as you can see the hat fits perfectly!

Finally, I adjusted the rows after increasing. I added a few rows and tried to keep up the hat patterning happening during the increases so the hat would look fluid and also be the right length. In all, my modifications meant the hat fits well and looks good to boot. Here's hoping Shawn can find lots of use for it once summer fades into fall in Ohio!