Nov 29, 2013

Bundles Of Joy

Bundles of Joy is a Ravelry group that was created to bring new handmade items to the OB Ward on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where approximately 420 babies are born every year. Poverty on the Reservation is extensive and extreme, and many of these new moms don't have anything at home for these new little babies.
Through a number of drives every year, this amazing and incredibly active group donates not just items to the OB Ward on the Pine Ridge Reservation, but collects items for the elderly folks in residence, kids of all ages, and just about everyone else in residence.
The group Ravelry page has links to documents containing very detailed information depending on the drive you want to participate in. Here are just a few general suggestions: ** Steer clear of lighter colors, as they get dirty quicker. ** Use whatever fibers you like best. This means you can use acrylics, wool, blends and anything else! ** Please tag your items with fiber content. ** Owls are considered a symbol of death, so please do not send items with owls on them!!
Via UPS or FedEx:
Jessica Mesteth
Indian Health Service
Attn.: OB Ward East
Highway 18
Pine Ridge, SD 57770  

Via US Mail:
Jessica Mesteth
Indian Health Service
Attn.: OB Ward
P. O. Box 1201
Pine Ridge, SD 57770
Please note on the outside of the box that it is for ‘elders’ This will help the OT organization sort the donations quickly.  

Via UPS/FedEx:
Rose Fraser
Oyate Teca Project
Wakanyeja Okolakiciye Youth Center
1000 Youth Center Drive
Kyle, SD 57752  

Via U.S. Mail:
Rose Fraser
Oyate Teca Project
P.O. Box 316
Kyle, SD 57752

Nov 27, 2013

Jul Hat For Casie

pattern: Jul Hat, by Jenny Gordy
yarn: stash olive wool, same as for Casie's mitts  
needles: size US 7 / 4.5mm and size US 9 / 5.5mm
(my Ravelry page here)

I do love my Casie friend! She's an amazing photographer who shoots outside year-round. Because of this, she knows the value of a good wool sweater (as you can see her wearing above) and recently requested I make her some mitts and a hat to help keep her warm while she shoots in the colder months.

I whipped this Jul Hat off the needles as fast as I could, and she graciously wore it while she took photos of my family last week! It was just warm enough that she didn't need the mitts as well, but I have it on good authority she wears them almost every single day, indoors or out!

For Casie's Jul Hat, I modified the pattern a bit. Originally calling for a thinner weight yarn, I grabbed stash yarn knowing I'd have to adjust the cast on numbers. Thankfully the pattern repeat was easy to work with, and I was able to cast on an even 80 stitches without messing anything up.

Until I got to the decreases, when I realized they were over a different stitch number than I could easily divide. Because of this, the stitch pattern on the body of the hat doesn't continue its way up the decrease section of the hat, as I preferred to have the decreasing match the original hat pattern over keeping the stitch pattern but going with a more generic decrease.

I love the way the hat turned out, and not having the stitch patterning on the top part of the hat doesn't take anything away at all! Besides, I'm pretty sure Casie didn't even notice! As you can see in the phone photo I grabbed above (while she was getting shots of Owen dangling upside down in Zach's arms!) she was far too busy having fun with our family to think about stitch patterns!

While the Jul Hat pattern costs a few bucks, it's one I've made a few times already and know I will make again. Perfect for men or women in my opinion, this hat is perfect for last-minute holiday gifts (look for a more extensive list of these types of hats to come soon!) and for charity donations!

Nov 22, 2013

Knitting For Noggins Arkansas

This Arkansas-based charity collects hats for the Arkansas Children's Hospital each fall and winter season. They will be collecting hats through March of next year, and always need hats for larger kids! Learn a bit more about them below!
From the website: Help make a difference in the lives of patients and families at Arkansas Children's Hospital! Knit or crochet hats for children of all ages through our Knitting for Noggins program. Knitting for Noggins is one of the many ways you can help make the lives our patients and families brighter. Since the beginning of our program, we have collected over 245,000 hats to keep our kids' heads warm.
We will collect hats September 2013 through March 2014. If you mail or bring hats to the hospital, please provide us with an accurate number of hats you are donating by completing a donor form. This helps us keep our hat count accurate. Use your creativity, but bright and colorful hats are always great! And don't forget that we can use boy colors as well as girl colors. Our greatest need is for large hats for school-age kids, teens and adults. We ask that hats be approximately the size of an average cantaloupe or larger.
  • Infant size - at least 16" in circumference
  • Child size - at least 18" in circumference
  • Teenager size - at least 21" in circumference
Due to infection control, all needlework items must be made out of new materials (not recycled items). Handmade hats are preferred, and we ask that no logos be on the hats. We also ask that items be free of any odor or pet hair. For privacy reasons, please do not attach your name, your group's name, or personal information to individual needlework donations. For safety purposes for our kids, please make sure that there are no safety pins and/or straight pins in the needlework donations that you send to us.
Arkansas Children's Hospital
Attn: Knitting for Noggins
1 Children's Way Slot 108
Little Rock, AR 72202.

** NOTE: Please fill out their DONOR FORM when sending any hats.

Nov 20, 2013

Tsunami Victims Knit For Others

You guys, if you ever needed proof that knitters are the best people in the world, this is it.

Victims of the tsunami that hit Japan over two years ago are still living in temporary housing in the northern fishing village of Shichigahama. To keep their spirits up and focus on something other than themselves, they formed a knitting group.

This knitting group is now sending handmade items to Syrian refugees.

These are women who don't have homes, who lost everything, and who are using yarn that was donated to them to make items for themselves and those in their village. Using that yarn to make items for others, who are experiencing their own tragedies. Mayumi Hoshi, pictured at left, is one of the knitting group members, and has been quoted as saying, "“It feels so good to be able to help other people, even if we’re in a tough situation ourselves." I mean. And now I want to grab my knitting needles, walk away from everything else I'm doing, and make even more hats than before. The need is great all over the world, and these women are such an inspiration! (link to full article)

Nov 18, 2013

Sandoval KAL For Arizona!

With just five weeks until Christmas, many of us are deep in holiday planning. Making lists that we're checking far more than twice, one item that can easily be forgotten is giving to those in need. This holiday season, to combat this forgetfulness, I'm challenging myself to bust through as much of my stash as I can, making hats I can mail off to my friend Kelli.

Kelli blogs over at AfricanKelli, and recently posted about the struggles her city's homeless folks face each winter. She lives in Arizona, and many transient folks make their way her direction, towards somewhat warmer temps for as many months as they can manage. While it's never easy to sleep outdoors, for folks with no other option a warmer outdoors is always better than colder. Along with challenging myself, I'd love it if you all joined me in making a few hats for folks who struggle to stay warm during the coldest months of the year.

The Pattern:

We'll be using my Sandoval hat pattern for this knit-along (KAL). It's an easy-to-remember hat that fits almost every head, works well with acrylic yarn, and is perfect for beginner knitters and seasoned knitters alike! Find directions free on the blog here. Download the PDF of the pattern free here.

Materials Needed:

For each hat, you will need right around 200 yards of yarn. Some folks have used more yarn to get their hat to the right length, and some use less, but 200 yards is a pretty safe bet. I can get two Sandoval hats out of a skein of Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn, which costs just under $4 for a skein - $2.00 a hat isn't so bad!

If you don't want to go buy new yarn for this project (and who can blame you - I plan to use stash yarn myself!) know that this pattern is incredibly forgiving! I've used worsted weight from my stash that might never have come with a label, I've made this hat with stripes of different yarns, and I've made this hat with a wide variety of "worsted weight" skeins. Every time the hat will fit my head perfectly, stretch to fit my husband's head perfectly, and works out ... perfectly! ... on our friends' heads with the biggest noggin's we know!


We will be knitting these hats from today (November 18th) through December 31st of this year. That gives everyone a full six weeks to make as many hats as they can! Whether you end up with one hat off the needles or a dozen, remember your hat will be put to good use this winter, and is much-needed!

Mailing Address:

Please send all finished hats to:
ADHS c/o Kelli Donley
150 N. 18th Ave. Suite 200
Phoenix, AZ 85007

A few things to keep in mind:

** Most of the folks who will be receiving these hats are men, so stick to neutral and darker colors.

** People will have spotty access to laundering facilities, but when they do, they'll want to be able to just toss everything in without worry ... so stick to acrylic, not wool!

** While Arizona has warmer winters than Nebraska, folks in warmer climates still wear winter jackets and hats in their winter. Just because northerners like myself would be running around in a sweater and jeans no problem, folks used to hotter temps get cold faster, and so will need warm hats!

Nov 15, 2013

quick and lovely mitts

It's that time of year for sure - holiday knitting lists are growing by the hour for me, and while I'm happy to be busy with shop orders, I also want to gift people with wooly warmth if they want it!

In the case of my friend Casie, a pair of wool fingerless mitts (with a hat to match, coming soon!) for her to use while shooting outdoors now that the weather is cold. No fun for the fingers, but full gloves won't work for a photographer's gentle touch.

Enter the Peekaboo Mitts pattern! I've made these mitts in the past, and have always loved the results. The pattern works up faster than fast -- I made these last evening between putting Owen to bed at 8:30 and my going to bed at 11:00 -- and calls for worsted weight yarn without making mitts that are bulky. Perfection! I had enough of this olive wool in my stash that I knew I'd be able to make a non-matching set of mitts and a hat for Casie, so I cast on for the mitts first, as we did breakfast this morning.

While her hat won't show up for a few more days, I knew with a full session schedule this weekend she NEEDED to keep her hands warm! Rumor has it (via text) she hasn't taken these off since she got them this morning. That's a job well done in my book!

I've got several other friends and family members who will be receiving mitts like these in the coming weeks; I might just have to take a big "group shot" of all the mitts together before they start getting sent out! It's addictive, this pattern, that's for sure, and perfect for charity knitting as well, for those looking for a fun and easy pattern to use for charity mitts! (note: I know the yarn is wool, but none of the tiny balls I had in my stash had a label on them, so I have no idea what brand. I used approximately 80 yards for these, and the pattern says you'll use about 3oz of worsted weight wool.)

Nov 8, 2013

The Preemie Project

There is no excitement quite like that of waiting for your baby to be born when you are pregnant. All the little onesies that start piling up, the unbelievable small-ness of the little newborn diapers -- I have never felt so excited, exhausted and unprepared all at the same time as I did when I was pregnant for the first time.

I was also scared every single day until I hit 31 weeks. At 31 weeks pregnant, I knew my baby would have been inside me longer than my brother Dan was inside my mom, twenty-some years ago.
Dan was born 10 weeks early in a time when there wasn't much that could be done for babies whose lungs hadn't developed. When my mom went into premature labor, they "kept the baby inside her" as long as possible in the hopes that his lungs would develop before he delivered. Six days in the hospital hoping he would stay in, and then he was born; breech, his heels tucked behind his ears, and so tiny my dad could put Dan's head at the tips of his fingers and his knees at the base of his palm.

I was barely twelve, too young to go into the NICU itself to see my little brother, and so I spent two months sitting outside the large windows, watching him grow, reading books when things were slow, and panicking when alarms would go off and I couldn't see which bed they were coming from.
After two months, Dan was able to come home fully healthy even if he was still super tiny. All he had to do was grow, and grow he did, into a toddler I would tickle until he turned pink from giggling, into a teenager who broke his collarbone snowboarding one winter, and into an amazing young man I'm proud to be related to.

While he was in the hospital, he was clothed in a wide variety of garments, all perfectly fitted around the tubes and wires adorning him at all times. Of most interest to me were the hats - always handmade, always anonymously donated, and always ridiculously cute. I had no clue where those hats came from, and after Dan came home healthy and grew stronger each day, I put those hats into the back corners of my mind.

Until I became a knitter. One day it hit my like a tidal wave, the memory of those hats and all they represented, the hands of anonymous knitters like myself making hats for babies they didn't know, sized so tiny they would fit on mandarin oranges or kiwis.

Organizations like The Preemie Project function to help get handmade hats onto the heads of some of the littlest residents of the hospital. Based out of Iowa City, they donate hats across Iowa to the youngest members of the state, bringing much-needed warmth to the babies while bringing unmeasured amounts of hope to the parents.

31 weeks was a long time to wait to feel like my little Owen was safe inside my belly. Babies nowadays are born so much earlier than that, with much higher survival rates than 20-some years ago. But these babies still need hats, and The Preemie Project steps in to help out!

Check out their amazing work on their Facebook page, and get connected so you can send them some hats!

Nov 5, 2013

Methodist Women's Hospital NICU

The Methodist Women's Hospital here in Omaha is in desperate need for the coming winter season!

According to an article on WOWT, their shelves are running bare of donations, and the whole month of November they are having a baby shower of sorts!

From the article: "Most needed are onesies, baby board books, receiving blankets, preemie and newborn clothing, and changing pad covers."

While I'm hopeful folks will pitch in and donate as much as they can, it's in the "newborn clothes" note that my eyes perked up - that means baby hats! If you're local to Omaha, won't you help me by making some preemie and newborn sized hats and taking them over to 192nd and Dodge directly for donation? And if you're not local but still want to help, go ahead and send them to my PO Box (see sidebar) and I'll be sure they make it there!

While I normally donate to the two hospitals closer to me in town, I also had never thought to donate here because it's in a more affluent part of town and thus made the assumption they would have plenty of donations - consider me wrong, and about to change my ways! I'll be adding them to my donations list from now on!