Mar 18, 2015

kids' clothes and car rides and a former self

Today was just one of those days, you know? We had to get out of the house, for the love, despite the fact that it feels like it might start snowing any minute. Which is very dramatic of me, really, as it's in the mid-40's. But after a solid week of warmth and sunshine and no hats, back to normal spring weather feels like a death sentence.

But we put on our hoodies and our hats, grabbed our sunnies and headed out the door. We had two bags full of clothes for a little friend of ours, six months behind Lou in age and so the perfect dumping ground for all those things we no longer need - baby clothes, diapers we've outgrown and haven't used, swings and bassinets and all those little baby things you have and use for five seconds and then hold onto JUSTINCASE they decide they love it again, when you know they won't. Which reminds me, I've got an exer-saucer in the basement we should have brought along as well. Ugh.

We're so lucky, really. We have a friend with twins - A and J - and we give her all of Owen's old clothes for J as he grows out of them, and she gives us all of A's old clothes as they no longer fit her. Lou gets an amazing new wardrobe every four months or so, as does her son, and we both spend far less on clothes than we would have.

In turn, when Lou grows out of everything, we bag it all up and take it over to little miss M, who gets a new wardrobe and her parents then don't have to spend a mint, either. It works out far too well, you'd think we planned it. I promise that's not the case.

On our way over to M's house, stopped at a stoplight, Owen began to tell me about the pretzel he wanted for lunch. His stories have gotten amazing lately, let me tell you. The kid knows how to spin them, and I laugh so hard every time. The pretzel he wanted, very specifically, tasted just like a french fry, and was blue. As all the best pretzels are. So as I turned around at this red light to discuss the pretzel situation, I happened to notice the girl in the car next to us.

I swear, it was me. Well, me at 24, with my bleached out blonde hair cropped just so, tussled with product and extra large sunglasses shielding my assuredly hung-over eyes, a Parliament Light in my hand with the window cracked just enough to let the smoke out and keep me naively convinced the smoke smell wasn't permeating every pore of both the car and myself anyhow.

She was singing along to some song, and I stopped, so startled at seeing this girl, an older version of me so clearly driving along next to me. And here I was, in my late 30's with two little kids singing songs and discussing blue french-fry tasting pretzels as we took baby clothes over to a friend, and I laughed out loud.

That girl, that former me, she was decidedly anti-kids. She didn't ever want to get married, for the love, much less have KIDS to contend with. She was just passing through, finishing up her degree after her original reasons for being in this small town calling itself a city went up into smoke. She was just doing some time before moving on, leaving all of this midwestern smallness behind her.

She had no idea that before that bleach blonde would have a chance to grow out she'd meet the man who would change her mind on all of it, or that in a decade she'd be driving around with two car seats, singing the ABC's on repeat, counting to 20 while always forgetting 15, and reminding her strong-willed little Louise that she really should NOT try to rip the modem out of the wall for the fiftieth time today.

And then, the light changed, and the former version of myself sped off and turned the corner, and we continued on our way. We stopped to get french fries after I convinced Owen that I was probably not going to be able to find a blue fry-flavored pretzel on such short notice, Lou laughed at the construction on the street, and we came home. Hoodies and hats and sunnies on the bench, please, and yes I will get those fries out now. Shoes off, trains out, and life goes on.

Mar 17, 2015

the state of things

Lately, life has felt a bit jumbled, and much harder than it should really be. I'm so lucky - I get to spend my days puttering around with two of the greatest monkeys on the planet - and yet, these last few weeks (months, really) I've felt it all to be just a bit too hard.

And there's no reason why. When I step back and look at it all, I love every bit of it - my husband, my kids, staying home, this home we've made, the little bits and the big that make up life right now are all wonderful. But still, this dark cloud hangs over.

So I'm practicing gratitude. Openly, here in this space, as often as I can and for as long as I must. And then some, I'm sure, because gratitude is good. And I have so much to be grateful for.

Like the fact that I gave Owen a hair cut by myself, and it's not the worst hair cut he's ever had. Not the best, but after the last few butcherings at the shop by trained professionals, I figure I can do at least that bad! Thankfully, he's not yet a kid that cares what his hair looks like, so long as we don't mess with it too much.

Like the fact that Lou has grown herself into 18 month clothes, and fights sleep in all the exact same ways Owen did when he was a year old. She prefers sleeping on the couch (beds are dumb, guys), and loves to get excited and scared and surprised at movies she's seen a hundred times.

Like the weather, which was so warm yesterday that we should have all been wearing shorts. And even though it's cooled off today, to 50 degrees, it's still nice enough to not need a jacket in mid March, which is unheard of.

Like the fact that I AM IN LOVE WITH TEACHING MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS. I officially have that particular brand of crazy down, and my practicums this term have shown me exactly where and how and who I want to teach. It's such a relief!

Like the fact that, even when the laundry is never done, and the carpet needs to be vacuumed at least three times a day, whenever I want an extra hug or kiss there's three people here who want to give them out.

Like the fact that Zach can see how stressed I am, and takes overnight shifts more often than he should so that I can get some sleep and hopefully knock this black cloud away, and how he gives me big hugs as often as he can, and reminds me that our life is good and amazing, and our kids are happy and healthy and that I am, in fact, and despite what I may think, doing a good job.

Like getting hats off the needles still, one at a time, slow as molasses, but hats for others, none the less.

Mar 16, 2015

Keiran Blanket

I love little baby props, and mini blankets are no exception. They work up super fast, look adorable in photos, and can be gifted to new mamas to use as car seat blankets, perfect for keeping baby warm between the house and the car!

I've been slowly stocking the She Makes Hats Shop with newborn hats again, and have added in a few other fun newborn photo props, this Keiran Blanket included. You can purchase one there for just $25, or if you're so inclined you can make one for yourself using the free pattern shared after the jump!

Mar 13, 2015

Out and About

It's been so gorgeous out these last few days, I grabbed some new sandals (my old pair kicked the bucked this week) and have been spending as much time outside as possible. This means the park, walks up and down the block, and driving around with the windows open as often as possible! While the weather won't probably stay this nice through to summer, and we're sure to get plenty more cold days and rain and the like, I'm so ready for spring to be here!

Also, how cute is Lou in her pigtails?! They only last about five minutes, but they're worth it every time!

Here's a few fun things I've found while poking around on the internet these last few weeks -  have a great weekend!

Great thoughts from Susannah on living in and loving on your body.

Gilmore Girls knit-along!!

I love this story about a guy who took an upright piano around the country!

For as often as we have bananas about to expire, I could be doing this instead.

You guys, Rebecca never disappoints!

Even though I read far less than I used to (where do I find the time?!), I love finding book lists like this one.

Great photo editing app lists from both Taza and Tammy!

As a hat knitter, I don't usually have to worry about storing bits of my finished projects, but I love Karen's thoughts on the subject!

Elise is always on point with her decorating thoughts, and these framed photos are no exception!

I love love LOVE how Natalie parents! Also, her book comes out on Tuesday - have you ordered yours already? I sure have!

And finally, I guest posted on Asymmetrical's blog today, sharing a bit of a peek into my writing life. Spoiler alert, it involves kids on tables, pajamas, and food.

Mar 12, 2015

Word Tasting Tour 2015

I'm so excited to share the next big book tour happening with Asymmetrical Press - Word Tasting Tour 2015!

For those new to this space, Asymmetrical Press published my book She Makes Hats last March, and is comprised of a great group of writers who are super passionate about words, writing, and the medium of books.

Most of last year saw two of Asymmetrical's founders touring around the USA (and a few stops across the globe as well!) in support of the book Everything That Remains. They're taking that model and scaling it to be more manageable, and probably a bit more fun, by inviting more authors on the road with them, stopping at a smaller number of cities, and touring for a shorter amount of time.

From the website:

Not just a book reading, not just another event—a meaningful experience. Asymmetrical Press’ team of talented authors is hitting the road in May and June for a WordTasting Tour across the western United States and Canada. From minimalism and travel to storytelling and humor, this tour provides a taste of something for everyone.
Join Colin Wright, Josh Wagner, Shawn MihalikSkye Steele, and special local guests for an evening of WordTasting: readings, stories, live music, questions, and answers. Plus special guests Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists will host and read at most events (see full schedule for details).
Admission to each two-hour event is free. So are the words. Come get a taste of something simple, unique, indie.

The tour is taking place on the West Coast for the most part, touching into Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado as well as Montana, so I won't be able to attend any of the dates (sad! tears!), but if you're anywhere near any of the events, you should make a point to attend.  These guys are true class acts, their writing is above and beyond amazing, and they give free hugs at the end of every event.

Visit the website for more information, a list of dates and specific cities, and to learn everything you can about these amazing authors!

Mar 11, 2015

Otterburn PQ WInner -- And Coupon Code!!

While I don't normally write a separate post for giveaway winners, I wanted to in this case, in part to say THANK YOU for the amazing comment influx that happened! You guys really do love these Otteburn PQ bags, that's for sure - and why wouldn't you? They're amazing!

The winner of the giveaway was Patt, who said, "The bag reminds me of the pictures you see of shepherdesses knitting as they walk behind the sheep. This would make a great bag to carry at all times to knit while you wait. Walk and knit, too. I would tuck in a sock or a hat."

Patt, can you please e-mail me at so I can get your address and get your bag sent over to you?

And for those who didn't win, Jesabelle has generously offered a discount code for your Otterburn PQ bag purchase! Simply enter SHEMAKESHAT15 at check-out to receive 15% off your next order! The code is good until 6/11/15, so you've got a bit of time to order if you need to save up to buy ALL THE THINGS (like I happen to have done)!

Mar 9, 2015

Simple Slouch Knit Along // My Finished Hat!

I may have had to bribe him with some chocolate to get him to pose for the photos, but the hat is done, and Owen loves it! He wore it long after the photos were taken, which is a definite sign of success!

How did your Simple Slouch Hats turn out? I'd love to share some finished photos here on the blog next week - be sure to hashtag your projects #simpleslouchKAL on Instagram so I can add them to the gallery of Simple Slouch goodness!

And for those of you that made your first hat, congrats! Hat making isn't near as hard as it's made out to sound, and now that you've mastered some of the basics of hat construction, you can move on to something a bit more "advanced beginner", as it were.

Coming up in late March or early April, we'll be doing that together, here on the blog again, with another one of my beginner-friendly hat patterns, so stay tuned for that! Thanks for knitting along!

Mar 4, 2015

Simple Slouch Knit Along // Binding Off and Weaving In Ends

Now that your decreases are done, you're ready to bind off your stitches and then weave in the ends. Binding off a hat is easier than almost all other garments, because you're not actually binding off anything at all, really. You're simply tying the end off by pulling the live stitches tightly together.

You'll want to cut your yarn, leaving at least a 12" tail. This way you'll have plenty of yarn for transferring all your stitches off the needle, and for weaving in your ends. Then you simply thread your yarn end through your needle and begin taking the stitches off, one at a time, in the same direction you've been knitting. Rather than knit the stitch from left needle to right, however, you're simply moving the stitch off the left needle and onto your darning needle, as seen above.

Once all your stitches are off the circular needle and on your piece of yarn, your hat will look like this.

To close the top of your hat, simply pull the yarn on the darning needle, tightening up the hole almost completely. Before it's too tight, however, slip your darning needle and yarn through the hole, and turn the hat inside out.

With your hat turned inside out, run your darning needle through the stitches one more time, to tighten up the hole just a bit more and give it a bit more stability.

Finally, you'll tie a knot in your yarn (I KNOW!!! A KNOT!) and pull tight.
 To weave in the end at the top of the hat, simply work your darning needle up and down through one stitch after another, moving around in a circle a row or two below the knot you tied.

To weave in the end at the brim of the hat, you'll need to do a few extra steps.

First, you'll thread the yarn end through your darning needle.

Second, slip the darning needle through the bump of the first cast on stitch - it will be a bit of a bigger bump than the other stitches because it was your slip knot.

Third, re-insert the darning needle, from front of the hat to the back, through the stitch the tail originally came out of. This will close any little gap between that first and last cast on stitch (as seen in 4 above), and will put your yarn back on the inside of the hat.

Then simply weave in this end as you did for the top end in the hat.

Once both ends are woven in - I like to weave the ends for at least a few inches, to keep them secure - simply cut both ends and turn your right-side out, so it's ready to wear!

Early next week I'll be sharing my finished hat photos! Be sure to ask any questions you may have in the comments, and don't forget to hashtag your projects #simpleslouchKAL on Instagram!

Mar 3, 2015


Knitting doesn't happen in a vacuum here in SMH-land. Instead, I'm always reading something (thanks to my Kindle) or watching something (thanks to Netflix). Here's a short list of what I've been reading and watching lately.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber. My friend Kelli read this recently-ish, and I loved her review and immediately picked up a copy for myself. The book didn't disappoint, if you're into religious biography. Which I am.

Montessori Inspired Activities for Pre-Schoolers: Home projects for 2 - 6 year olds by Jo Ebisujima. Since we're all home together full time right now, I want to be doing more intentional schooling with Owen, and eventually Lou. This book has given me some great ideas, and even though it says Montessori, the activities don't require any special materials (which Montessori sometimes does). Which is nice, because we're strictly a markers and blank paper kind of crafty family.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Re-reading this one, because this winter I am in need of the spiritual jolt this book offered me the first time I read it. Thankfully, I am feeling it again already, reminded as I am to find beauty and love in every aspect of my life. I don't know what it is about winter (the cold, the snow, the freezing down to my bones ...), but I seem to always forget to look for beauty and love. 

House of Cards, season 3.

The Blacklist: Season 1. I keep thinking I'm not going to watch another episode of this show, thanks to the crazy amount of violence happening in every episode, but then I find myself queuing up another one on Netflix while I knit away. I feel like I know a few of the more spoilery plot points already, and I'm waiting for those to be revealed before I decide if I truly loathe the show or if I actually like it and am just embarrassed that I like a  show with this crazy level of violence. I guess it's not a crazy level of violence, but for a non-cable show? I'm consistently surprised at how graphic it is.

Note: Links are Amazon Affiliate links. When you click on one, if you end up purchasing something from Amazon I'll receive a small commission. I use that money to buy young adult fiction books I'm starting to collect for my future classroom library! Plus, I'll share them in future posts.

Mar 2, 2015

Simple Slouch Knit Along // Decreases

Now that you've knit your hat to the length you'd like, it's time to start our decreases! Before you get started on your decreases, however, be sure to measure your hat to make sure it's the right length.

Because the bottom edge of the hat rolls up for the first few rows, to measure your hat you'll need to hold it down as flat as you can while measuring. It will feel a bit awkward, and the hat might bulk up underneath where you're measuring, but you'll want to be sure your hat is long enough. The decreases only hapen over one or two rows, so if the hat isn't long enough it'll fit more like a beanie, with a bumpy top.

The Simple Slouch Hat uses a K2TOG decrease, which means "knit two together". To do this, you simply insert your right needle into the next two stitches on the left needle, rather than just one stitch.

Then simply knit the two stitches as though they were one stitch - wrap the working yarn around the right-hand needle,

Lift the left needle up and over the right needle, carrying both stitches with you as you go,

And finally, you drop both stitches off your left-hand needle, leaving just one stitch on the right needle instead of two.

After you've worked an entire row in this manner, you'll have half the stitches on your needles, as seen above.

You will continue decreasing along the second row, until you can no longer comfortably decrease stitches. For my hat, this meant only decreasing for about half of the row, rather than decreasing for a full second row. If you're comfortable squeaking out more stitches, then do so!

Above is a video showing the K2TOG stitch from Knit Picks.

Wednesday we'll talk binding off the top of the hat, and weaving in your ends! Be sure to ask any questions you may have in the comments, and don't forget to hashtag your projects #simpleslouchKAL on Instagram!