I started knitting hats. I had a goal of making 100 hats, using 100 patterns, in just one year. It felt daunting and totally out of reach to hit that goal, but by August 2010 I had finished my first 100 hats and had set a new goal. Ten thousand hats, for ten thousand people. One woman, some needles and yarn, and a mission to make the world warmer, one hat at a time.
It turns out that while making all these hats (and other knitted items for charity as well, let's be honest), I inadvertently gathered together a wealth of charity knitting knowledge - where to send items, which patterns (both free and for sale) are best for using on repeat, and more. Thanks to the amazing Heather of Ewe Ewe Yarn, I'm slowly pulling all this knowledge out. One post at a time, we're building the site MAKE | GIVE | REPEAT, creating a place for charity knitters to find patterns and places to send finished items, and hopefully also inspiring knitters who've never made something for charity to give it a try!
To celebrate these small, simple acts of kindness, and hitting a pretty big milestone on my way to 10,000, I partnered with Heather and wrote the Ripple Effect pattern. It looks complex, but it's actually just a few repeating rows that you can memorize pretty easily. And with just knit and purl stitches to contend with, this hat is perfect for a beginner knitter to dip their toes into hat making.I hope you'll knit it for yourself, for your friends and for a charity that you feel is worth of your time.
You can download the pattern for free on Ravelry, and you can also find the pattern shared for free on the Ewe Ewe blog!
Sep 21, 2015
I can't even begin to explain what it feels like to be sharing my 1,000th hat tomorrow. Instead, I'm going to just share some of the first 999 hats that have been made here in my little house. Hats made before we had babies. Hats made in the hospital while staring at brand new babies. Hats given to friends and family. Hats sent all around the world.
Sep 11, 2015
I am not by any means a good photographer. I actually have like three images I seem to re-create and post over and again - the "knit wear on my deck" photo being the most prevalent. But here's the deal - I love our little deck. To be clear, I didn't always love our little deck - in fact, I sort of thought it was gross and wished we didn't have it. Then Zach power-washed it.
Turns out, the deck actually was pretty gross. Our back yard faces north, and where our deck is there is approximately no direct sunlight. This means that a decade of rain and snow with all that moisture just sitting there, not getting burned away by the sun, left the deck a little less than gorgeous. But a quick wash to get the grime off, and she's looking super amazing!
In fact, I love her so much I've been using the back deck INSTEAD OF the front porch for all my knitting photos lately! No direct sunlight to contend with, a standard look, and it's just right there, out the back door, five seconds and done!
Such a small thing, but I cannot help myself. As I lean into this coming fall season, I've decided to take time to appreciate the little things. Fall is incredibly busy for us, and for a number of reasons this fall even more than others. Rather than let myself get all worked up and stressed out, I'm choosing to lean in to the crazy and the excitement and the busy. I'm fluffing little corners and not worrying about the rest. I'm pulling out tights and getting Lou some bigger socks. I'm throwing open the windows and stocking my knitting bag. And I'm loving on my back deck!!
Sep 9, 2015
I am in a life season where there isn't much time for reading. I've got a stack of books growing on my shelf that people have given me - must-reads that I hope someday to attack with gusto. I look longingly at that shelf, going so far as to pet the books and tell them I love them even if there's not a lot of time for them right now.
Books are magic. I truly believe it, and don't care who knows it. My favorite form of book magic is young adult fiction ... truly some of the best authors are writing books for young people. These are books that help teens and almost-teens realize (for maybe the first time) that they aren't alone. These are books that open up still-forming brains to all the possibilities the world has for them. YA authors are heroes. And damn good at their jobs, too.
My favorite YA author? Well, I'm totally biased because I know him, but it's Chase Night.
People. PEOPLE. Everyone MUST GO OUT RIGHT NOW AND GET CHICKEN.
In truth, if you know me in person, and even remotely like to read, you will probably be given this book for Christmas. That is how much I love it. I cried like three times. And whatever, I'm a crier, but still. THREE. EFFING. TIMES.
Okay, so I've read the book twice now, and it's been out for long enough that I should have told you abut it sooner, I know. Bad blogger! But I haven't known how to write about it. It's too beautiful. Too perfect. I don't want to say the wrong thing and have you not like it because I said something wrong. It's too precious for me to potentially ruin for you. So when Chase wrote an essay about Chicken recently, and it explained everything perfectly? I knew I basically had to just copy the whole thing and share it with you here.
DON'T WORRY, I DIDN'T DO THAT.
I am, however, sharing the best bit, and then linking to the full article so you can read it yourself. And then? GO BUY CHICKEN!!!!
Okay, maybe I shared most of it. Read the rest of the article here. Then GO BUY CHICKEN!!!!
Chicken is the story of a boy who falls in love with another boy. It’s about other stuff too—unpleasable parents and weird religion and the politics of fried chicken—but mostly it’s about love. First love. The first time you want someone so much it makes you sick. The first time their hand lingers on your shoulder a little longer than it should. The first time they make you laugh so hard you forget to be afraid.
Those strike me as very universal feelings, things to which anyone of any orientation ought to be able to relate. But very early in the writing process, I shared a draft of a chapter in a college workshop class. My professor was enthusiastic, and the majority of my classmates were positive or politely silent, but one student returned their copy with the following note:
“Straight people won’t like this.”
Whoa. I had prepared myself for moral outrage, but this blunt honesty caught me off guard. For days, I was angry, but now, looking back, I can see this comment was my story’s saving grace.
See, up until then I’d been trying to write a window into a brick wall. I wanted to show people who’d never been queer teenagers in the evangelical South what it was like to be a queer teenager in the evangelical South. But those five little words made me realize that as ridiculous as it was for that classmate to believe they could speak for all straight people, it was even more ridiculous for me to believe I could lead a person to a window and make them see.
After that, I stopped planning and started listening. I stopped trying to write the story I thought straight people needed to hear and started writing the story my protagonist wanted to tell. And while that story contains all the things I mentioned—parents and religion and fried chicken—it’s mostly about falling in love. And if straight people don’t like that, it’s really not my concern.
Because the thing is, if you’re heterosexual, then every bookstore and cineplex you walk into is an infinite hall of mirrors. You could live a thousand years and never finish reading every single book and watching every single move about people like you. But if you’re not heterosexual, then those same buildings are made almost entirely of windows. You could roam the halls forever, pressing your forehead against the glass, straining for a glimpse of someone like yourself who isn’t just there to be sassy or get murdered. You might find enough to tide you over for a year or two.
So in the end, I wrote Chicken to be a mirror. I wrote Chicken to show queer teenagers in the evangelical South that they are brave and beautiful and their love for each other is real and joyful. I wrote this book for them and for the adults that used to be them. I wrote this book to say, “I see you and you deserve to be the heroes of romantic star-crossed stories.”
Sep 3, 2015
I'm so excited to share this fun new website I'm collaborating on with Heather Walpole of Ewe Ewe Yarns!!
MAKE | GIVE | REPEAT is designed to be a hub for charity knitters! We feature charities that accept handmade items for donation, as well as knit and crochet patterns that are perfect for charity making! With so many amazing and generous crafters around the world, Heather and I wanted to have a space dedicated to helping you get the most bang for your charity crafting time - patterns you can use on repeat and donate to a variety of charities, along with charities that not only LOVE receiving handmade items but are always looking for more fill our blog pages!
As the site grows, you'll be able to search for just about anything you want!! Looking for a charity that needs hats? We've got you covered! Looking for the perfect charity-friendly cowl patterns? We've got you covered!
As an added bonus, my darling friend Jen Geigley is offering up a free digital copy of her new book Weekend!! Weekend is full of amazing knits, every single one of which is perfect for charity crafting - I've already got big plans for most of the patterns to be on my needles this winter, and I'm hoping that many of you will join in on crafting from her ridiculously fun book! Visit the blog to enter to win Weekend - the giveaway is open until Friday evening!!
Sep 2, 2015
Are you feeling the tug towards knitting ALL THE THINGS, like I am?! September always does that to me. I'll be floating along all summer, hit a point where I'm sure I'll never want to pick up yarn again, and then BOOM! It's September, and I've got a list three pages long of everything I want to make before the cold hits!
This year, I'm dividing up my knitting plans by months, and September is all about knitting for babies! Over at MAKE | GIVE | REPEAT (full introduction post on that tomorrow!) Heather and I are working all month on making hats for the Click For Babies campaign, so I'll hopefully pare down some of my rather ... extensive (cough) ... purple acrylic stash this month.
I'm also excited to use Ewe Ewe's Bundle Of Beanies pattern for much of my sport weight yarn this month - just one skein is the perfect amount for a baby hat, and I hope to have a huge pile to send to Syrian refugees at the end of the month.
On top of all that charity knitting, I've got a gaggle of little fall and winter babies to knit for - three boys and two girls, the first of which is coming in just a few short weeks! I've already got plan after plan for every one of them, but nothing will happen if I don't actually get things on the needles, so it's time to get busy!
You can follow the daily knitting adventures on Instagram, and I'll try to share finished projects as often as I can here as well ... especially sine I'm just 20 hats away from hitting my first 1,000 hats given away!! So much goodness planned for that huge milestone as well ... September is going to be a big knitting month indeed!!!