I recently had the pleasure of receiving an e-mail from Barbara of Wildflower57. We started chatting knitting, charity, and hats, and had a great several-days-long conversation. She's agreed to letting me share this part of our conversation because her story is phenomenal.
I came to knitting late in life. I had started many times before, attempting a sweater each time I had a baby. In my top drawer were 5 unfinished baby sweaters. I've been a sewer all my life so I just figured I didn't have the knitters patience or gene that my grandmother and mother possessed. My girlfriend had started knitting and I loved her sweaters but just kept remembering the 5 unfinished sweaters...And then my dad got sick, super sick and he died shortly after. He made me promise that I wouldn't fall to pieces which was a stupid promise, but I still had two sons at home to raise and they needed me to be present. So my knitting girlfriend sent me some yarn, a circular needle and the pattern for Blue Sky Alpacas Cropped Cardigan...and I cast on....
I spent that first summer floating in the pool and knitting...that's all I could manage..Knitting saved me from a dark place and I fell deeply in love. I made the cardigan and then another one. Then I tried bulky socks and hats, mostly hats. When I found a job at an elementary school running the computer lab, I found that there were kids who wanted to see what project I had in my bag so I started teaching a few girls to knit at lunch..And then more, and then other teachers wanted to help. We ended up with 78 knitters that year who made blocks for charity blankets. All over the school, kids were sitting in groups at recess knitting and it was amazing. Troubled students became better students and we made blankets. I sent out a request for yarn through the local RAvelry knitting groups and we were swamped with gifted needles and yarns. So you see knitting saved more people.
And then we moved to a new town. My husband is in construction and in California, Construction fell apart in 2009. We were going broke. I had a stack of old sheets, a basket of yarn and a computer. I jumped in with my big dream of my own business, opened a Facebook page and an Etsy shop and started working that page like it was my job. I made aprons and bags from the sheets and knit hats and headbands. And they sold. And then more sold and then I did a show and another show...and here I am...A girl who makes stuff for a living. Knitting and sewing...saved me and still does every single day.
So that is my story and I love that you started with 100 hats and I am committed to 100 hats this fall... this is the stuff that makes me giddy...Thank you again for allowing your patterns and story be a part of this project.
Thank you Barbara. For letting me share your story, and for being the amazing you that you are!!
I'd love to share other people's knitting stories - if you'd like me to share yours, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aug 26, 2014
I've been slowly but surely working through all my notes, scattered across several notebooks and a few computer folders, and working the fragments of patterns into completed designs. This one is so fun and simple to work off the needles, and it's about to become a donation staple for me!
A simple stockinette stitch, broken up by purl ridges creates a ribbed and slouchy hat.
YARN90-120 yards Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice (100% acrylic; 170y/155m per 100 grams)
NEEDLESUS 9 / 5.5 mm 16" circular needle
US 9 / 5.5 mm double pointed needles
NOTIONSOne stitch marker
Darning needle for weaving in ends
GAUGE16 sts x 20 rows = 4" in stockinette
SIZESbaby (toddler, child, adult)
BUY THE PATTERN HERE
Aug 25, 2014
pattern: 1-Skein Zig Zag Cowl, by Heather Walpole
yarn: Ewe Ewe Yarn Ewe So Sporty (145y/133m per 50g) - one full skein used
needles: size US 6 / 4.25 mm
My darling friend Casie takes the most amazing photos for me - of my hats, of hand knits in general, and even of my gorgeous family. A phenomenal photographer, she is also amazingly generous, and won't let me pay her a penny for all the photos she takes. So I'm trying to get sneaky, making her things on occasion as a way to pay her at least a bit for all she does.
The Zig Zag Cowl is one such "payment", and it worked out more perfectly than I could have imagined. Heather of Ewe Ewe Yarns had sent me a kit for the cowl not that long ago, but I am not much of a cowl wearer. So I wasn't sure who to make this for, when Casie tagged me on an Instagram photo of a white cowl with a very similar texture to this one. Lightbulb!
The cowl itself was a quick and fun knit. You work the directions two full times to get the zig zag shape, and it is truly a one-skein project. In truth, I was only able to get within four rows of the full two repeats of the pattern, but you literally cannot tell I left two rows off.
My gauge was a slight bit different from the pattern's instructions, because my size 6 needles are 4.25mm instead of the typical 4.0mm. I have no idea how I managed that one, but because of the miniscule needle size difference, which I thought wouldn't matter in the least, I ran out of yarn a wee bit early. I could have squeezed one more row out of the yarn, but didn't have enough to do the bind-off in a non-yarn over row, so I had to leave some yarn wasted, which was a huge bummer. But like I said, you can't tell in the least that the last zig zag set is shorter, so I'm cool with it.
Casie is in love with her cowl, and grabbed her niece to model for a few photos the other day. I love how happy McKenna is all the time (and gorgeous to boot!), and how much she loves modeling for knitting photos. Almost all my friends have relinquished their hat modeling duties to her, and I'm totally fine with it! Although it does add another person to my "pay with hand knits" list ...
Aug 19, 2014
With my desire to ditch the sweatshop clothes this fall, and dress my family in ethically-made items, I've decided that maybe it's time I branch out a bit from hat making, and make a few family sweaters.
I've shied away from sweater-making in the past, thanks to two horrible experiences in a row attempting to make a sweater for my husband. And while I hope to make him a sweater this fall/winter as well, I'm starting a bit smaller, with sweaters for the kiddos and me. Dip my toes in, figure a few things out on some smaller pieces before I move on to his sweater.
With each of our sweaters, I already know I'm going to have to make a few modifications, but each should be easy enough that the sweaters shouldn't cause me too much stress.
First, there's Owlet for Lou. The smallest size has an 18" chest, which is just about where she's at right now, so I'm going to size it up one I think. That way she should be able to wear it a bit longer into the winter before I have to make her a new one. I plan to make this one with short sleeves, so she can wear it over a long sleeve onesie and not have the arm bulk get in her way as she learns to crawl soon (too soon for my liking, I think).
Then I'll make a Fisherman's Pullover for Owen. This little man is so skinny I'm going to make the smallest size for him, and then add length until it fits. Unless he decides to start eating like a linebacker anytime soon, this sweater should fit him all fall and winter long, which will be nice! I might make the ribbing on the sleeves start a bit sooner, so it's a bit longer. That way the sleeves won't droop on him, and will stay out of his way!
Finally (for now, at least), I want to make myself an Oatmeal Pullover. So many folks have already shared modification notes for this sweater, I'm just going to follow their suggestions and hopefully breeze right through this one! I love that it's made using a bit chunkier yarn, and that the millions of miles of ribbing should help it stay in place as I chase after my kiddos - both of whom will be mobile very soon, if Lou has her way!
I'll share as I knit each sweater, along with when each is done. And of course I'll still be knitting tons of hats this fall and winter, have no fear! What do you have on your needles for fall?
Aug 18, 2014
pattern: Close Cables hat, by Pickles
yarn: Hobby Lobby I Love This Wool!, approximately 150 yards
needles: sizes US 8 / 5.0 mm and US 10 / 6.0 mm 16" circulars, and size US 10 / 6.0 mm dpns
I've been in the mood for some serious cables lately, and this hat was what started it all. I've loved every single Pickles hat pattern I've used to date, and was shocked to realize I'd never made their Close Cables hat, so about a month ago I popped it onto the needles. After just a few hours it was finished, I was in love, and a small cable addiction had formed!
I've been trying to use up all my HL yarn in the past month or two. I've managed to use up all the acrylic, but I have a large stash of wool left, thanks to an amazing Christmas gift last year. I'm hoping to turn it into a huge batch of hats to send to Nest in a few weeks, and am well on my way to filling up a box already.
This hat was such a joy to knit. The cables are chunky and squishy, just the way I like them. The pattern is simple to follow, although because I used a thick worsted weight yarn I didn't hold it double, as the pattern suggests.
I also worked an extra cable repeat before starting the decreases. I find I almost always have to add length to hats when I make them, to ensure they cover the ears fully. For whatever reason, most hat patterns don't leave hats long enough to cover the ears fully, and with donation hats I want to make sure there's as much coverage as possible.
I plan to make this hat again in the next few weeks at least twice - once in red, once in white, both times with Lion Brand Wool Ease. This way I have some Husker hat options for fall and winter football games! I'm also going to add a contrasting pom to them (red for the white hat, white for the red hat) to give them just a bit more extra festive flair!
All in all, this pattern is a super winner, perfect for gifting, charity donation, and personal hats!
Aug 15, 2014
When your friend says to run into the middle of the street, throw your hats into the air and jump, by golly you kick off your flip flops (after almost killing yourself the first time, when you left them on), run into the middle of the street, and jump!
And then almost get hit by a car as you scramble to grab the hats ...
Clearly I have mad ups. Gotta love a friend who pushes you to do different things, and then laughs so hard she almost cries at your silly attempts.
Have a great weekend!
Aug 14, 2014
Over the last few weeks and months, I've felt more and more compelled to move away from buying clothing for our family that's been made in sweatshops. And let me tell you something, it's harder than I thought!
Mostly, it's harder because I'm an impulse shopper. I see cute clothes for me and the kids, and I want to grab it up right away. I tend to shy away from buying things for Zach, and he tends to wear his clothes for years and years, but with me and the kids, I'm totally prone to Old Navy and Target sales like you wouldn't believe.
But the fact that workers in Bangladesh are on hunger strike right now due to the horrible conditions? Man, that's a wake-up call. It's time to make a change.
For me, I'm just going to stop buying clothes. I've got plenty, and where I lack is in the sweater department, so I plan to make a few for myself this fall and winter. (I'll share more about that later).
Owen is a bit more difficult, but not much. He's finally at the stage where he's wearing his clothes for more than one season. And while he's transitioning between sizes a bit with his shirts, by winter he should be in just 3T in everything, and be able to wear that size for about a year. He's set for jeans, but will need some long-sleeve shirts as it gets colder. I plan to knit him a sweater or two, in washer/dryer safe yarns, and we're thinking of shopping American Apparel for a few staple long-sleeve shirts.
Lou is the hard one. She's still quickly growing out of clothes, and will continue to do so for the next year or two. I'm lucky that we have a friend whose daughter was born a year before Lou, almost to the day, and she's been generous with the hand-me-downs. I may turn to Etsy for some staples, and will probably get a few things at American Apparel for her as well, but with how fast she's growing, and how messy a stage she's about to enter (food for the win!) I'm not sure how this will all work out for her just yet.
I'm also super excited about a start-up called Wildly Co. I've already backed them on Kickstarter, and am hopeful that they'll get the full amount they need to begin production on their fall line. This feels like a great option for shirts and pants for Owen, with their fun tees priced right where I'm comfortable spending. The best part is they plan to do their manufacturing in North Carolina, so they're totally not sweatshop made! (Their tees are currently being made by their family, from production to screen printing to product testing!)
But it still feels like, especially for messy and growing babies, there just aren't very many good AND affordable options. American Apparel is better, but not the best (they still don't pay their workers very much, and because they're super trendy styles, the clothes don't always last more than a season or two), but I'm not sure what else to do to keep away from Target and Old Navy buying in the future.
(Note: This post is not sponsored by anyone. I'd love to be able to get clothes for my kids that are ethically made, so I'm writing about it in the hopes someone has some ideas.)
Aug 13, 2014
A few weeks ago, my dear friend Casie took me downtown and we did a quick photo shoot. She got some great photos of me with my knitting, which I'll be sharing later this week (and next), but I wanted to share this photo first.
As I go through all my old posts, I'm doing three things specifically. First, I'm just getting them all back here on this space. But more importantly, I'm re-knitting many of my old patterns for new photos, and I'm making all my patterns available for free.
Some of my patterns are still only available for purchase, and I'm working through those patterns from the older ones first through to the newer ones. As I make all the patterns free, I'm also adding all the directions right here to the blog, rather than having them be available for download only. I'm working on getting a "print this page" button added to each post so you can still print the directions, but I wanted to make sure people didn't need to download anything in order to knit any of the patterns I've written.
One such pattern is the Helping Haiti hat pattern. I've always charged for this hat, donating all proceeds to Doctors Without Borders. But not many folks have bought it, and I get it. It's a simple enough hat, it makes more sense to have it be freely available so people can make hats to donate with the pattern. More good will come of that, for sure!
As always, be sure to let me know if you have any problems with this pattern - it will be much easier to edit now that it's just online, and I want to be sure my patterns are as user-friendly as possible!
Aug 11, 2014
A funny thing happens after you've been knitting for awhile - you start to accumulate leftover yarns. Small bits of varying yardage, remainders of projects you've finished. In all the years I've been a knitter, I've yet to finish more than five projects without having leftover yarn - and those five projects were scarves or cowls, knit until I had no yarn left!
So what do you do with all those leftover bits of yarn skeins once your original project is done? I tend to save them in a giant glass jar until that's full, and then I work those skeins up into striped hats.
I usually follow my Tyson Hat pattern, adding stripes as the remnant balls run out. Sometimes, if I've got enough balls that have enough yarn each, I'll decide to stripe each color for 3, 4, or 5 rows each before switching to the next color. I don't think about color, and just grab from the pile, trusting that the colors will all work out together in the end.
If you're not that adventurous, or this will be your first scrap hat, here's a few patterns you can use to get you started using up those leftover bits of yarn!
A Most Bespeckled Hat - perfect for the smallest bits of leftover yarn.
Bella's Eclipse hat, modeled after one from The Twilight Saga.
From Norway With Love is perfect for using up bunches of similar yarn colors.
Hello, New York uses bits of one leftover color and lots more of a neutral color.
Traveler's Hat - the perfect striped slouch!
As I get closer to filling up my scrap yarn jar, you'll surely see more of these hats making their way to this blog! Do you do something different with your yarn scraps? Know of any other good scrap-worthy hat patterns?
Aug 6, 2014
My cable obsession continues with this hat. These cables are spaced far enough apart that they stand out, and this is a perfect hat for beginner cablers to test the waters with!
YARN150 yards Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool (100% wool; 465 yds / 425 meters per 227 grams)
NEEDLESUS 8 / 5.0mm 16" circular needle
US 10 / 6.0mm 16” circular needle
US 10 / 6.0mm double pointed needles
One stitch marker
Darning needle for weaving in ends
GAUGE9 sts x 13 rows = 2" in stockinette
SIZESchild (adult) = 14 (16)” circumference, un-stretched.
See the Ravelry Page for more information.