Jul 31, 2014

never not knitting podcast!


Most knitters I know listen to at least one podcast, sometimes many. One I've fallen in love with is Alana's podcast (and website!) Never Not Knitting! So when she invited me to share a story from my book She Makes Hats on her podcast recently, I jumped at the chance!

And by jumped, I mean to say it took me all of three seconds to say yes, and then three months to get off my duff and record one of the stories from She Makes Hats! Thankfully, Alana is as gracious as can be, and very understanding of life with a newborn.  Thanks to her patience, I can be heard reading one of my favorite stories from the book!

For those who have come here thanks to Never Not Knitting, welcome! Take a peek around, and feel free to start a conversation. I love to meet fellow hat knitters, and love to talk about making hats and giving them away!

And for those of you who have never listened to the Never Not Knitting podcast, head on over to the blog and have a listen today!

Jul 22, 2014

seven months of simple

Back at the end of 2013, I decided to join in the millions of folks who have been selecting one word to help guide their year. People have done this for years and years, but I've always thought I could never know what my year would hold, and so I didn't want to try to pick one word that would guide it.

Not 2014. I knew that with a new little girl on the way, and me staying home to care for two kiddos under three, plus a book coming out and all that would entail, I needed some sort of guiding principle for my year. And without thinking twice, I knew what my word would be.

SIMPLE.

With all the craziness I knew this year would bring, I wanted to remind myself to keep everything as simple as I could. I could think of dozens of ways this word might apply to my life in 2014, and knew that for every way I'd already thought of, a dozen new ways would pop up.

Seven months in, I'm so grateful I chose this word.

This year has been so full, in all the best of ways. And throughout it, I've reminded myself SIMPLE as often as I could.

Because of this word, my post-baby closet is edited down to the things I love and wear. We have taken car-loads of baby things to a friend who is having her first baby (a little girl!) in just a few months. We have taken car-loads of things to donate.

Because of this word, my yarn stash is a fragment of what it was seven months ago. I'm working on using up what I've got, focused on giving again instead of pattern-writing and shop stocking and so many other things.

Because of this word, I haven't written nearly as much as I had in summers past, and I've knit less than a handful of hats in July. Instead, we're off to the park almost every day, heading to splash parks and the zoo, and generally having adventures as often as we can. The weather has been wonderful so far this summer, and while I'm not a fan of the heat and the sunburn that comes with it, I am living outside and in the moment as much as I can with my two outside-loving kids.

Because of this word, I am choosing simple in all areas of my life, and constantly asking "is this the simplest way?" in new situations. It's because of this commitment to simple that I'm back on Blogger. It's this commitment to simple that's guiding a few big decisions for my fall and winter hat-making.

I'm so excited to watch how SIMPLE shapes the rest of my year. For now, I know that even when our house is a disaster (like it is right now), with toys everywhere and laundry needing to be done, things are fare more simple than they've ever been. And it's such a good thing, and such a fun way to live life. Just what I needed this year - SIMPLE.

Jul 14, 2014

Evangeline Toque



pattern: Evangeline Toque by Courtney Spainhower (Ravelry link)
yarn: Patons Classic Wool Worsted (210 yards / 100 grams), used 162 yards (75% of the skein)
needles: US 8 / 5.0 mm 16" circular and US 8 / 5.0 mm dpns

I finished the Evangeline Toque back at the end of May, but knew that it needed some good photos before I could share it. Thankfully, my pal Casie was willing to add it to the pile of hats I wanted to photograph in June, and her niece McKenna was a more than willing model!

I loved knitting the Evangeline Toque. The pattern was simple to follow, and the hat worked up in less than 24 hours. It also comes with three sizes, and I'm already planning on making all three sizes up to gift to folks I know this holiday season.

After blocking the hat, the ribbed portion measured 20", and the hat body measured 22". I couldn't have blocked down the ribbing any tighter/smaller than this, and at the time I thought this was blocked down plenty. However, when I put it on my head, the hat felt loose around my ears, which isn't how I like my hats to fit.

That said, I know I have a smaller head, and if I were making the hat for myself I would have cast on the middle size (written for children) anyhow. As the hat wasn't for me, I knew it would be fit a wider variety of folks in the largest size. And it ended up finding a home with my friend Angie, who was also at the photo shoot the day these photos were taken, and it fits her PERFECTLY.

As I said, I loved knitting the hat, and I have plans to gift it to a few folks this holiday season. The pattern costs $4 USD, and as I plan to use it at least a few more times, I definitely think it's worth the money. Honestly, I'm surprised so few folks have knit it up (it shows a mere 6 projects on Ravelry!), as it's a fast knit, and looks adorable both on the pattern model and in person! If you like knitting lace, this is a perfect hat pattern for you!

Jul 10, 2014

life lately


While I figure out what the heck is going on with all the posts I need to move over (not as bad as I thought it would be, still totally ridiculous), I wanted to share some "what we're doing this summer" type photos.

I've been knitting far less this summer than I have any other summer since I first started knitting almost 15 years ago now. Even that first summer with Owen I managed to knit bajillions of hats (the actual number), which seems so crazy when I look back. This summer, however ...

This summer we are going to the park almost every day. And when we're not at the park, we're playing trains (Owen) and practicing sitting up (Lou) and grabbing every toy within arm's reach (both kids). And not napping at the same time. Which, some days that feels like they've plotted to make me crazy with how perfectly they've timed one waking up just as the other falls asleep!

So.

Not as much knitting. But tons of memories being made, which is far more important. I've been taking photos as much as I can remember to, always with my phone because that's what I've got on me, and sharing them on Instagram (I'm @shemakeshats). If you're an Instagram fan, you can see all these photos, and so many more (for better or worse) over there. If you're not an Instagrammer, these photos are a little peek into our daily lives right now.

Also, my arms are like three shades tanner than my legs, if you can call the difference between see-through and alabaster three shades. Also, how does that happen??

Also, also. I'm pretty sure I'm getting a flip flop tan, something I have coveted for like three summers. Although I'm also pretty sure I'm the only one who can see it. Hopefully by the end of the summer it won't just be my imagination!

Finding The Perfect Pattern For Your Stash Yarn

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. 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!

Jul 9, 2014

let's ramble about life for a minute, shall we?!

It's been one of those years, you know? The winter just went on forever, I went from a crazy pregnancy to figuring out how to be mama to two rambunctious kiddos in a matter of minutes, and I wrote a book.

I also decided, somewhere in there, that I needed to step up my blogging game. To me, this meant  focusing in on what I was sharing, figuring out what sorts of features I thought might resonate best with readers, trying my hand at a blog series or two, and most importantly, moving to Wordpress.

And now here I am, six months (less?) after making that switch, and I regret it. While I love the blog design that was lovingly crafted just for me, the back-end stuff doesn't work the way I'd like it to; and while I'm sure I could figure out solutions, I don't have the time or inclination to do so. Which means slapping stuff together in a way I'd rather not do on a fancy-pants site.

So I am switching back to Blogger. Again. For good.

The best part of all this? I'm having the hardest time getting any of my old posts off Wordpress and back here in their original home. Because when I made the move to Wordpress I decided to "burn the ships", as it were, and delete the posts from this space as I transferred them over.

Note to self: Never make rash decisions like that six hours after having a c-section. IT'S UNWISE.

For now, this space will look incredibly sparse, a blank slate of sorts, while I figure out how the heck to get all the old content back here. I'm hoping I don't have to manually move things one post at a time, but if I do, then that's what I'll do.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep right on keeping. I've been feeling lately like everything is being shaken to the core, and am finding I'm coming out the other side of all that shaking a much different person than I thought I would. Having Owen was a huge change, to be sure, but it feels with Lou like she's taken the very insides of me, pulled them out, juggled them around, and now I have to figure out what really goes where. The pieces are falling back into place finally, but the final picture looks a bit different than it did before. In some very good ways, to be sure, but different.

I'm sure I'll share more about that as the days and weeks go on.

Suffice it to say, I'm done pretending I'm a fancy-pants blogger. I'm settled into who it is I am online - a mama who loves to make hats, and who rambles far too much. Ultimately, this space started as a place for me to keep a record of my knitterly days, and that's what it shall be once again. A place for me, for my family, and for hats. And for you, should you care to read along!

Jul 7, 2014

Charity HAL || The Final Total And The Giveaway Winners!



With the end of July came an end to the Charity HAL, and the amazing partnership I've been loving with Ewe Ewe Yarns. Over the past two months, Heather at Ewe Ewe has been dedicating much of her time to helping spread the word, share the yarn love, and work up hats alongside many dozens of you fellow knitters and crocheters, as we worked our way towards 2,000 hats donated for Completely Kids.

The drive is officially over, and I'm super proud to say we collected a total of 500 hats!!



While we didn't reach our goal of 2,000 hats collected, I'm so excited and proud of our knitting community for joining together and donating an astonishing number of hats in such a short time. Last fall, when I first partnered with Completely Kids, I was able to donate just over 100 hats to one of the many schools they work with. And while it was amazing, and the kids loved the hats they received, I was also very aware that there was still so much need going unmet.

This year, thanks to package after package winging its way to me here in Omaha, we will be able to get hats to every kid in at least four local schools this fall!

I plan to keep right on collecting hats through the summer for this amazing organization, so if you'd like to make more hats, or yours didn't make it in time for the giveaways, I'll definitely still make sure they make it to kids who need them!




And now for the giveaways! Above you will see what five lucky folks won (yarn colors and stitch markers may vary)! I let Zach draw the names so I wouldn't have any chance at bias, which I think he enjoyed far more than he'd ever admit. And the winners are ...


Linda B.
Sandy W.
Nancy H.
Judy H.
Eileen G.

If you see your name, you should have already received an e-mail from me, letting you know you've won! If you see your name, but don't have an e-mail from me, check your spam filters; if you still don't see an e-mail from me, shoot me a message at shemakeshats@gmail.com to confirm that it's you that won.

Congrats to the winners, and thanks again to everyone who sent in a hat!