Sep 29, 2014

September In Sentences


knitting sweaters for my babies, and so happy with how they're turning out.

snuggling a baby with a cold and several teeth popping out at the same time.

building shake-shake bridges every day.

drawing Thomases on repeat, complete with coal tenders and troublesome cars.

crocheting Impossible Hats as fast as orders are coming in.

reading An Abundance of Katherines in every spare moment I can find.

cooking in the crock pot at least once a week.

celebrating the first birthday of sweet Fiona, Lou's best friend.

watching football, football, and more football.

catching both baby kittens born under our porch recently, along with the mama cat, AND one of the adult boy cats as well!

overwhelmed by the number of people talking about my 10,000 Hats project.

driving to the Goodwill on repeat as I pare down like my life depends on it.

wearing the same grey shirt and ripped jeans on repeat, and loving it.

working on a fun (and big, and scary) project for 2015.

writing as many hat patterns as I can before Colin comes to town for a marathon photo session.

celebrating the coming of fall and the holidays.

Sep 26, 2014

Impossible Hats Send Kids To School



I'm so excited to share some of the photos my friend Casie took of the Impossible Hats on Thursday. She swung on by my house late in the morning and we powered through all 15 hats with enough time to get hopped up on coffee before she had to pick up her youngest from pre-school.

I'm so thankful to have such talented friends, friends who jump on board without pay to help me out when I get super excited and passionate about something. And to say I'm super passionate about the Impossible Hats project is quite an understatement.
 

I was passionate about Pencils Of Promise back in 2012, when I undertook Hat-Tember 2012 and raised $750 in one month to help build a school. A school that cost just $25,000 to not only build, but furnish and completely equip, including paying a teacher for a full year.

I took on that challenge in 2012 when I learned that it cost just $25 to send a child to school for an entire year. JUST TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS.


This time around, I'm asking folks to help Pencils Of Promise again, in a different way. Rather than sponsor hats as I make them, I'm asking you to buy a hat. Yes, I'm charging $35 a hat, which feels like a lot of money. But for every Impossible Hat sold, I will donate $25 to Pencils Of Promise. That's enough to send a child to school for a year.

This means that your hat purchase will send a child to school. Children with no access to education, children who are desperate for the type of learning our children get every day. 


I know a lot of you reading are knitters and crocheters, folks who can make your own hats for far less than $40. But I ask you to consider buying a hat anyhow, for yourself or for someone else. I'm asking you to consider supporting my impossible goal to raise $5,000 between now and the end of the year, a goal that will send 200 kids to school.

You can buy an Impossible Hat in the She Makes Hats shop from now through the end of the year. Hats featured in this post are Glacier Bay, Denali, Redwood, and Grand Canyon. 15 total colors are available.

Sep 25, 2014

Welcome Unconventional Readers!


Today is quite the day in SMH-land! I just got done doing a photo shoot for all the Impossible Hats (pictures will be both here and in the shop shortly!), and then came inside to discover my feature on Chris Guillebeau's website had gone live!

To all of you headed over here from Chris' site, welcome! I'm excited to have you all stop by my online home, poke around, and get to know both me and my quest a bit better.

It's such a gift to have friends who are doing amazing things with their lives, and Chris is definitely one of those friends. Not only did he recently finish up visiting every country in the world, he inspires folks daily through is website, and hosts yearly conferences that connect folks together! Amazing!!

In his most recent book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life, I had the pleasure of being featured for a nano-second, as the book discusses quests. I was honored to be included, and blown away when Chris contacted me to see if I'd be interested in doing a more in-depth interview on his website. Of course I said yes!!

I've been making hats almost exclusively since 2009, and some days I forget that what I'm doing is a bit unconventional. It's become so natural to me to grab yarn and needles as I head out on my day, it's such a treat to be reminded that what I'm doing is fun and special, and worth writing about.

For those of you who have been here already, whether for a day or a year or even more, I'd love for you to swing by Chris' site and check out my interview ...

One Lifetime, 10,000 Hats: Robyn Devine's Ambitious Project

And I'd love for you to consider purchasing an Impossible Hat. Don't forget, the first 20 orders will get a free copy of Chris' latest book - so not only are you helping build schools, and give a hat to someone in need, you're getting a hat AND a free book! Such a deal!!

Sep 24, 2014

My Minimalist Knitting Bag


I've been spending the past few months really looking at what I knit, what I knit with, and what I have far too much of. The truth of it is I have far too much of almost everything, and while I occasionally attempt a scarf or pair of mittens or even a sweater, the bulk of what I make is hats.

So why I had needles of all sizes and types spread all over the house was a mystery.

I decided to not just take a good hard look at what I have, but also really pare back to just what I actually use. So over the last few weeks I've been getting organized. I've been pulling together the things I actually use, and either donating or giving to others the stuff I know I won't actually use.

This, then, is the final pile. What I actually use, keep in my knitting bag, and know will see lots of knitting time and love.


The main bag is from Thirty One (this style is now discontinued), which is one of the more fun organizational companies I've come across in a long time. A good friend sells the bags, and we've got quite a number of them around the house.

Above you can see into the bag, with a view of everything I keep inside. The flowery project bag is from Six Munchkin Stitching, and I won it in a giveaway on Raverly. That said, I'm in heaven over the quality and size, and would definitely recommend it to knitters looking for a new project bag!


Once I take everything out of the bag, you can really see what all I'm packing. The black skein on the left is going to be turned into two hats for a fun partnership I'll be sharing in a few weeks, and the two skeins of red yarn are Modern Baby, waiting to be turned into hats for the Little Hats, Big Hearts campaign.

The pile in the center is my circular/dpns case (flowered, more photos in a second), my interchangeable needle set my mama got me for my birthday, and a pencil case holding all my crochet hooks.

To the right of that pile, at top is a kitchen food scale I use to weigh finished projects (to calculate yardage) and the flower pouch from Six Munchkin Stitching.

All of this fits into my bag with plenty of room for at least two more yarn skeins.


Above you can see inside my project pouch. Right now I'm using it to hold remnant balls of yarn waiting to become Golden Pear hats, although it's also the perfect size to hold a skein of yarn that's being knitted into a hat! I'm loving it as a way to keep my Golden Pear hats in progress out of the rest of my knitting bag, though. I don't have to worry about the small balls of yarn getting wrapped up around anything else this way!


Finally, this is an inside shot of my circular and dpns case. It's the Combo Needle Case from Chic-a, and I've been coveting it since I saw Heather share hers on the Ewe Ewe blog a few months ago.

None of their patterns really "spoke to me" so I decided to go for the most ridiculously gaudy one they had, and I couldn't be happier with it! It's got these ridiculously large Hawaiian flowers all over it, which I love love love!

I'm using it for all my 16" circular needles, plus all of my DPNs and all of the notions I use for just about everything I knit (darning needle, tape measure, stitch markers, scissors, cable needle). I don't have all the circular needle spots filled up, but these are all the ones I've got, so I'm thinking of separating out the FOUR SETS OF SIZE NINES I have (I don't want to talk about it) so they each have their own spot, and seeing how I like that.

Some of you may be thinking to yourselves "that's not very minimalist!" while others are probably saying "how does she get away with having so little!" and I totally see both sides of that. I'm sure I could knit with less, but what I have here is what I use every single day. And while some knitters may need more for their daily knitting habit, for me and my hat knitting, this is exactly the right amount.

My yarn lives separately, and I don't want to talk about that right now - not how much I have, or how it's (not) stored. I still need to come to peace with what I've got or keep paring down, and I definitely need to find some better ways to keep track of what I've got, yarn-wise.

But that's it, quite literally. I've had much more than this before, and always struggled to find what I needed. I've tried to function with less, and always felt like something was missing. Working with this system for a few weeks now, I'm in heaven and feel like I've found a system I can work with, and just the right amount of supplies for me!

Sep 22, 2014

Impossible Hats and the 777 Project

Impossible Hats

Last week I told you about my friend Joel's big goal - he's running 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents, to raise $175k to build 7 schools. He's called it the 777 Project, and has been asking folks to join in on the fun.

For my part, I'm going to be selling Impossible Hats in the She Makes Hats Shop starting October 1st, and will be donating $30 from each hat purchase towards the 777 Project - with my own goal of raising $5,000 to help build some schools!

Above you can see the hats in all fifteen available colors. I'm going to be getting photos taken of each of these hats next Sunday morning (coffee will factor in big here, I'm pretty sure), and then unless something terrible happens, the hats will be in the She Makes Hats Shop on October 1.

The hats are made with 100% vegan-friendly acrylic yarn that's so soft and cushy I have actually rubbed these hats lovingly against my face a few times. This also means they are washer/dryer safe, which is a must in my house!

The hats are 10" tall, so they have a bit of slouch to them, and measure 18" circumference, which means everyone from our three year old son to my husband can wear them. They stretch to fit perfectly, but don't get a stretched out look to them, if that makes sense.

I love that there's colors for both men and women, and for both kids and adults - you can outfit pretty much everyone you know with a hat this fall and winter with the Impossible Hats!

Hats will cost $40 each, but with $30 going to help build schools and the rest going to pay for yarn and shop fees, I'm actually not making a penny on these hats. Well, maybe like a dollar, but the goal here is not for me to make money, but to get some schools built!

I'll share some sneak peeks of the hats again once Casie and I get together and get some good shots of them on my head, so look for those next week!

My goal is to raise the full $5,000 before the end of the year - that means I'll need to sell almost 200 hats in just 3 months. That's quite a lot of hats and hat-making for me this fall, but I'm super excited to watch as the hats fly out of the shop, to make trips to the post office on repeat as I mail the finished hats out, and to overwhelm the folks at the yarn shops as I shop relentlessly for more and more hat yarn!

I'd love for you to consider buying a hat this fall to help me reach my goal, and I'd super extra love it if you'd share about this charitable project with everyone you know! Thanks, and happy first day of fall!!

Sep 16, 2014

Before 40


Tomorrow is September 17, 2014. It will be exactly 1,000 days until my 40th birthday.

I used to make more life lists, birthday lists, all sorts of lists. And then I had kids, and my lists took on a much more day-to-day look – groceries we needed, baby items to grab at Target, what to pack for our family visits to Chicago, etc. About two weeks ago, I realized not only did I no longer have an official Life List written down anywhere, I had no big goals for the next chunk of my life, excepting my 10,000 hats quest. For someone who has always loved having multiple goals and lists going at a time, this felt foreign, and more than a little sad.

So I’m remedying this, in large fashion. I’ve made a list of things I want to accomplish in the next 1,000 days. My hope is to have a life full of new experiences and completed mini-goals as I blow out my candles on my 40th birthday. I’ll document these here on the blog, of course, with more or less words depending on the goal.

Many of these goals I'll also document on Instagram, with hashtags used to help me keep track of it all.

Here’s my goals:
  1. Get to 1500 hats donated.
  2. Knit through the wool stash for nest: Maine.
  3. Use up my leftover bits of yarn.
  4. 100 Sandoval Hats.
  5. 100 Waffles Hats.
  6. Knit one sweater for each of us. 1. Lou's Owlet 
  7. 25 hot yoga classes.
  8. Live in the home where we'll have our kids' high school graduation parties.
  9. Insta-Life book for each year (including finishing the one for 2013).
  10. Read 100 books. (Instagram #robynreads100 to see where I'm at with this one.)
  11. Take Owen on a "real" train (not the one at the zoo).
  12. Capsule wardrobe project through 2015.
  13. Get a passport. Travel somewhere that uses said passport.
  14. Go on an adults-only vacation with friends.
  15. Get my teaching certificate. 
  16. Donate 25 large priority flat rate boxes full of hats to various charities.
  17. Stand on the bridge where Iowa and Nebraska touch.
  18. Finish the 40 Golden Pear hats.
  19. Raise $5,000 for Pencils of Promise.
  20. Finish getting my teeth taken care of.
  21. Watch 10 documentaries.
  22. Write 15 letters to Hababo. 1/15 done.
  23. Sponsor a second child.
  24. Take Lou to her first football game.
  25. Toes in the ocean.
  26. Donate blood 10 times.
  27. Honeymoon. Finally.
  28. Read three chapter books to Owen.
  29. 10 real push-ups.
  30. Hat-tember project again, this time knitted hats.
  31.  Learn about humanism.
  32. Try every flavor of Baskin Robbins ice cream.
  33. Library cards for the whole family.
  34. Try 25 new beers. 1. Zombie Monkie.2. Laguinitas Censored. 3. Arcadia Rapunzel.
  35. Practice public gratitude for 30 days (at least).
  36. Donate baby hats to the hospital Grandma Corwin used to donate to.
  37. Get our will in order.
  38. Watch the kids eat chicago-style pizza for the first time.
  39. Finish all the half-done patterns.
  40. Stitch Dictionary Project.

Sep 14, 2014

777 Project



Back in mid-August, my friend Joel Runyon shared his newest Impossible goal - the 777 Project.




Almost as soon as he announced his plan - to run 7 ultra marathons, in 7 continents, to raise money to build 7 schools - I knew I wanted to get on board.



I first met Joel back in 2012, when he committed to running a marathon (his first ever) to raise $25,000 and build a school with Pencils Of Promise.  I hopped on the fundraising train that time around by committing to Hat-Tember 2012, a project that changed the way I make hats and give them away, and changed how I looked at how this whole hat-making thing could really do something big for the world.

Now, two years later, Joel is ready to do more - so much more! You can read read all about his journey to The 777 Project here. He will be funding all of his travel and ultra-marathon related stuff himself, so all the money he raises goes straight to building schools.

And man does he have a lofty fundraising goal - to build 7 schools with Pencils Of Promise, Joel needs to raise $175,000.

ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS.

Much of that money will come from folks committing to donating $25 a month for the next 12 months, but Joel was also looking for some crazy committed folks to jump in and do a bit more. Complete their own Impossible Missions, as it were.

You know I had to jump in!!

This time around, I'll be making hats to sell in my shop! I've got a super fun Impossible Hat pattern worked up and ready to photograph, with both a beanie and slouchy version, and both a kids and adults size! This means you can outfit almost your entire family in these Impossible Hats, and help me get to my goal of raising $5,000 for the 777 Project!

I'll be sharing photos of the hats over the next few weeks, as well as more fun stuff about the 777 Project, but for now I'd love for you to do the following:

1. Head over to the 777 Project homepage and read all about it. I've only touched the surface of this amazing year-long odessy, and you'll want to read every last detail.

2. Donate. You may want to purchase one (or more!) of my Impossible Hats, but you may decide you just want to go ahead and donate now. Every dollar helps build schools for kids in some of the most in-need areas of the world.

3. Share this post, and Joel's story! The more folks know about the 777 Project, the faster those 7 schools will get built!

Sep 12, 2014

Out And About 8

Happy Friday! It's been raining here like crazy, and we've been turning the heat on already. Looks like we're in for a cold fall and winter, which means lots of hats! I've got some fun news on the hat front for next week, but right now I wanted to share a bit about the book I just finished reading.

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life is the latest offering by my friend Chris Guillebeau. Chris set about to visit every country in the world, and in the process inspired millions of folks to live lives their own way. THOP shares not just his quest journey, but the stories of dozens of other folks who have completed or are in the midst of quests of their own.

I'll freely admit I'm in the book, for like a paragraph - it was such a fun experience to share my 10,000 hats quest with Chris and the team of folks he worked with to help compile people's stories. That said, the book was also a huge inspiration to me. I loved reading about not only  Chris' journey, but the journeys of so many other folks. After a year of having a baby and writing my own book, I've felt a bit lost on my quest journey. THOP has helped re-focus me and re-inspire me!

If you haven't already, grab a copy of Chris' book - you won't be disappointed!

Here's a few fun things I've found around the web this week:

I love Ysolda's tips for blocking hats.

My friend Jen had a Wool And the Gang workshop a week or so ago, and it looks like so much fun!

Do you believe there's a difference between happiness and meaning?

Elise just made me want to get PSE, thanks to her time saving photo editing tip!

I'm always on the hunt for family-friendly movies, and this list helps a ton!

If the first hat in Sweet Tooth is any indication, the new progressive e-book from Alex is definitely a winner!

While I love me a beanie with slouch, some folks prefer the slouchless variety better.

In need of a new shawl for fall? The Double Deco knit-along starts October 1!

The Playful Stripes Cardigan is now available in adult sizes!!!

The difference between an orphan and a daughter.

There's still time to whip up a newborn red hat and get it sent off for the Little Hats, Big Hearts drive! I'll be sharing my hats before I get them shipped off!

Have a great weekend!

Sep 8, 2014

Charity Hat-Along, Take Two!

Back at the beginning of July, Heather and I wrapped up the Charity Hat-Along. Or, we thought we wrapped it up.

During May and June, you guys stepped up pretty huge, sending 500 hats my way for Completely Kids. As the PO Box filled up over and over again with boxes full of hats, I felt more grateful than I have in quite some time.

YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!

However there are still approximately 1500 kids that Completely Kids works with, kids who live below the poverty line and won't have much in the way of winter gear to help keep them warm in just a few months.

So Heather and I are bringing back the Charity Hat-Along for round two!

Remember, we need hats sized to fit elementary and middle school kids. This means your hats should measure 19" around unstretched, and at least 8" long. Many of the elementary and middle school aged kids I personally know love hats made from darker colors, and hats that have a fair bit of slouch to them, although you can make your hats however you'd like.

New to the Charity Hat-Along? You can find all sorts of information located here, and feel free to ask any and all questions!

Sep 5, 2014

Out And About 7

Fall is in the air, with crisp mornings, the smell of bonfires already filling the evening air, and football games already on the books. For those of you who are seasonal knitters, you may already be dragging your needles and yarn out of the closet, getting ready for fall and winter projects.

We've already gone to the first Husker home game of the season (GO BIG RED!) and I've got a big list of hats I want to make this season. There's some fun big projects in the works I can't wait to share with you as well!

For now, enjoy some great things I've found online in the last few weeks!

My friend Joel is going to run 7 ultra-marathons ... one on each continent! The 777 Project is going to be EPIC!

My new friend Barbara is trying to collect 100 hats to give away in her little corner of the world this fall. Want to help me bombard her with hats?!

I love all the test knitting Isa does. Man that lady knits fast! This newest group off her needles is to die for!

I love A Cup Of Jo's Beauty Uniform post with Jessie.

Elise read some great books in August.

Natalie's paring down her fall wardrobe - I can't wait to see what she ends up with!

Stormbreak looks like a wonderful new collection of knits, just in time for fall!

Rules for keeping life simple. Love this!

What was your first clue? This documentary is genius, and looks phenomenal!

Have you read my book, She Makes Hats, yet? If not, I'd love for you to grab a copy and check it out! And if you've read it, I'd love for you to leave a review on Amazon, helping others decide if they want to purchase a copy as well!

Sep 3, 2014

Little Hats, Big Hearts Hat


I'm super excited to share a fun new pattern and charity hat drive today! Not long ago I was asked by the wonderful folks at All Free Crochet if I could write a newborn knit hat pattern for their September charity drive in partnership with Lion Brand Yarns.

From their website:

All Free Crochet is working with the American heart Association on their initiative, “Little Hats, Big Hearts" to donate homemade hats to newborn babies. Little Hats, Big Hearts is a wonderful project to help raise awareness of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country.

Whether you are a crocheter, knitter, a sew-er, or just a crafter looking for a good excuse spend the weekend getting creative, we hope you'll consider making a quick, easy baby hat to give to a newborn in need. The deadline to donate is September 30, 2014 (patterns must be post-marked no later than Septmeber 30, 2014).


My latest pattern, the Little Hats Big Hearts Hat is being shared for free and in full over at All Free Knitting right now!  This beginner-friendly hat looks difficult, but is made up of just knits and purls, and fits newborn heads perfectly!

The pattern is made using Lion Brand's newest addition to their yarn collection, Modern Baby Yarn. This super soft and squishy DK weight yarn is just about perfect for baby hats, and while I'll be using a few skeins of Modern Baby in red over the next few weeks making hats for this drive, I'm also positive I'll be grabbing skeins of this yarn in all the available colors for baby hats in the future!

The charity drive runs through the end of September, and your hats must be post-marked no later than September 30th. You can send your hats directly to the All Free Crochet offices, and they will be hand-delivering them to the local Little Hats, Big Hearts chapter in Chicago!!

Send your hats to:

Prime Publishing, LLC
Attn: Baby Hat Charity Drive
3400 Dundee Road
Northbrook, IL 60062

I'll share a photo of all my finished hats before I send them off, and can't wait to see photos of all the other hats people are making over on Instagram. If you make hats, definitely share them on Instagram using the hashtag #babyhatdrive14 on all posts!

Sep 1, 2014

Golden Pear Hat



pattern: Golden Pear, by Melissa Thomson (free)
yarn: remnants from my stash
needles: size US 9 / 5.5mm 16" circs and dpns

For the next three months I will be making the Golden Pear hat pattern on repeat. It's the start of a new term over in the HPKCHC, and this term I'm working on my Potions OWL.

For the non-cuppers, HPKCHC stands for Harry Potter Knit And Crochet House Cup, and it's where super Potter fans like myself gather to be sorted into houses and complete knit and crochet projects for classes, Quidditch, OWLs, and more, all in an effort to win the House Cup, along with eternal glory.

I win the nerdiest person in my family award, hands down.

I love the Cup (as it's affectionately called); I've made some phenomenal friends thanks to this game, I've stepped up my hat making game by leaps and bounds, and I've managed to convert about a dozen ladies to charity hat-making with as much (and more!) passion as I've got.

I've been looking for a way to knit through my ridiculously large stash of worsted weight acrylic remnants, and while I could make striped hat after striped hat, I wanted something with a bit more interest. After another Cupper started sharing bunches of newborn hats made with the Golden Pear pattern, I knew it was just what I was looking for.

The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but just size 7 needles, so I went up in needle size to 9's, where I'm most comfortable with worsted weight acrylics. I knit the pattern according to the directions, and ended up with a hat that fits Lou's head almost perfectly. There's a bit of room for her to grow into it, so the hat is perfect for donation for babies from 6-12 months!

My plan is to knit 40 of these, hopefully making a HUGE dent in my remnants stash, and adding them to the pile of donation hats I've got growing in the closet. These will be taken to the Med Center for donation to their pediatric oncology center, and I know they'll go to good use there.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll be seeing so many more of these in the coming months, and I'll be sure to share at least one or two updates on my progress here on the blog in the next 60 or so days! For now, I'm definitely in love with this easy pattern, and can't wait to cast on another hat!