Mar 28, 2016

Autumn Ombre Hat

Pattern: Autumn Ombre Hat, by Country Pine Designs
Yarn: Loops & Threads Cozy Wool
Needles: size US 15 / 10.0mm

I might have a problem, and that problem may be an obsession with Country Pine Designs patterns.

But seriously. Yes, I know I've been making some of Kathleen's patterns in partnership with her brand, but seriously. The patterns are AMAZING. She's got the super bulky hat decreases figured OUT, which is something I've never been satisfied with on my own patterns even! Plus, how cute is this hat?!?

I used about 1/4 of each skein of Cozy Wool I picked out for this hat - you could use a bit more of the darkest color and make a pom, but I opted against a pom for this hat as I'll be donating it, and am unsure of who will end up with it. With this small amount of yarn used from each skein, this pattern is perfect for using up stray bits of super bulky you have from other projects, or for making several hats from the same skeins.

I whipped this hat up in a matter of hours, even! Let's be real - it took me a few days to get the hat made, thanks to the sickies that have been passing through our house lately, but if you add up all the total time I spent with this hat on the needles, it adds up to maybe 2 hours. SO AWESOME!

I've already purchased another one of Kathleen's patterns so I can knock out another hat, even though our partnership is over. That's how much I love her patterns. Totally worth it, especially for charity knitters.

If you don't have any super bulky on hand, don't think you can't make this hat, either! Just hold some worsted weight yarn triple, and you're good to go!

Grab the pattern on Ravelry and/or Etsy.

This post was sponsored by Country Pine Designs. All opinions are my own, amazing design props go to Kathleen!

Mar 14, 2016

Monte Rosa

Pattern: Monte Rosa Hat, by Isabell Kraemer
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool (1/2 skein between the main color and the accent, including pom)
Needles: size US 6 / 4.0mm 16" and US 8 / 5.0mm 16", and US 8 / 5.0mm dpns

I've had Monte Rosa in my Ravelry queue for a few years now. In fact, I'm pretty sure I added it to my queue with the intention of knitting this hat for Lou once she got big enough to fit the smallest size, which she is now. This version of the hat, however, is meant for me to wear to Husker football games this coming fall season!

I didn't adjust hardly anything when I made this hat. I did not do the tubular cast on, because I have never had luck with that one, but otherwise I worked the pattern as written.

I wasn't sure how I'd manage to keep the cables and the lace separate in my brain, but Isabell writes such a good pattern, I never had to think about it! I downloaded the PDF to my iPad, and then used the annotation tools to mark off each row as I finished it, which made it super simple! I'm trying to use less paper, and while for most patterns I don't even have to think about it, with something a bit more complicated I was worried that this method would work. Thankfully, it worked like a charm, and I'm excited to work more difficult hats now!

I made the M2 size, which says it fits a medium adult head, and the hat fits me perfectly! It's the size I'd make for most women, and I already know I'll be making many more of these, in most cases minus the pom, to donate to refugees. It was truly a fast pattern, and made in wool it's super warm, even with the lace panels all over. The small stripe area is perfect for using up even the tiniest bits of wool, and I figure having one of these on the needles every fourth or fifth hat, I won't get bored of the pattern and will have bunches of gorgeous hats to donate!

Mar 11, 2016

Breckenridge Fair Isle Hat

Pattern: Breckenridge Fair Isle Hat, by Country Pine Designs
Yarn: unknown (wool roving-like super bulky that was given to me to use for charity knitting)
Needles: US 15 / 10mm 16" circulars

The photos? That's what happens when you ask your husband to take one fast hat picture, and he starts acting like a high fashion photographer. "Strike a pose! You know you love the camera! Make them want it!" ... I swear, he's the best!

I've long been an admirer of Country Pine Designs. In a world that can sometimes feel oversaturated with super bulky items (I'm guilty of this myself), Kathleen stands out with her original designs and gorgeous photography. When she started selling patterns along with her finished knits, I knew I had to start knitting!

First on my list was the Breckenridge Fair Isle Hat. You can pick up the pattern both on Ravelry and on Etsy, and trust me when I tell you it's worth every penny. I've always struggled with just how long to make my super bulky hats, how to work the decreases, and just how much pattern is too much (or not enough) pattern for a hat made from yarn this thick

Kathleen takes all the guesswork out of it, and I ended up with a hat so perfect I've already got Zach convinced the two of us need to have matching red and white versions for Husker football this fall! And if I play my cards right, our friends (who we go to all the games with) will have some, also.

I'd like to say I've already earmarked all my super bulky stash for more of these hats, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to run out and buy more yarn as well ... my stash isn't going to last long with this pattern now in my possession!

This post was sponsored by Country Pine Designs. All opinions are my own, amazing design props go to Kathleen!

Mar 9, 2016


Pattern: Renfrew, by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Cascade 220 (I used xx yards for this hat)
Needles: US 8 / 5.0mm 16" circulars and dpns

I loved knitting this hat! In fact, I loved knitting it so much, I knit straight through to the decreases in about one day of knitting time. Getting from the body of the hat to the decreases took a few weeks, unfortunately, but that wasn't due to pattern issues, rather it was all due to user error. I found myself stalled out, and so I set the hat down and got busy with other things.

I will fully admit I love knitting everything Jane Richmond writes. I followed the pattern in every way, not deviating one little bit - a rarity for me, as I find I at least change up the cast on or the needle size. But Renfrew was such perfection I did not change a bit as I knit my way through it.

A reminder to those who would take up this hat pattern as I have - you need to weave in your ends on the side you've been thinking is the right side! One of the genius parts of this pattern is that it is knit entirely inside out so as to minimize the number of purl stitches one needs to perform. However, you must remember that at the end, so you don't make the mistake I made and weave in the ends on what is to end up being the right side of the hat!

I didn't realize my mistake until after the hat had been washed and was blocking, and so I turned the hat right side out, sought out the ends of yarn that were peeking out, and tucked them in. Not perfection, but I'm not sure anyone but myself will ever notice.

This hat will kick off my newest refugee hat pile. I keep them all in an ottoman we got for Owen's bedroom, but that he no longer uses. When it's full up, I know it's time to stuff a shipping bag full!

(Of note: Jane was kind enough to send me a free copy of this hat pattern when she heard I was in a knitting slump and was hoping to kick it by using one of her patterns. She did not, however, ask me to write about it after making the hat, and all opinions are my own)

Mar 7, 2016

While Knitting, February 2016

I've been reading books by the handful again recently, thanks in large part to being a middle school teacher now! I've been reading lots of ya fiction, and have been loving all the words bumping around in my brain again.

I decided to pick back up with my reading reviews, after so many months of not writing them. Hopefully I'll keep it up more steadily this time, as I've been reading so many I want to share!

Chicks with Sticks (Knitwise), by Elizabeth Lenhard. Our school librarian found out I'm a knitter, and immediately went to the shelves and found this book for me! The story of a high school girl who discovers knitting, and gains a few friends in the process, after a family tragedy, I loved this book to the moon and back! At the end, there are a few patterns for beginner knitters even!

El Deafo, by Cece Bell. We have a decent selection of graphic novels in the classroom, but this one is from the public library. The students love it, so I'm going to pick up a copy for the room. El Deafo is the story of a girl who loses her hearing at a young age, and must navigate learning to use hearing aides, being different at school, challenges with friends, and even a potential super power!

Chicken, by Chase Night. I've read this book at least three times now, and I'm sure I'll read it at least once a year for the rest of my life. If you haven't read it yet, comment below - I've got a few copies to give out to those who want them!

The Maze Runner (Book 1), by James Dashner. I actually wasn't sure about this one for about the first third of the book. It felt excessively violent to me, for whatever reason. As I continued to read, I changed my mind, and got excited to read the second book in the series.

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, Book 2), by James Dashner. The second book in the Maze Runner series, I found myself liking this book better than the first. It picks up right where the first book left off, with teenagers running for their lives in the midst of a wold in peril. I flew through the book, and as soon as my students are done with the third in the series, I'm going to hop onto it!

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives, by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda. Such a great book! The memoir of two middle school students, living halfway around the world from one another, who become pen pals and change each others' lives. I'll fully admit I was in love with this book from the first chapter, and have already recommended it to several of my honors kids.

Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan. The story of a biracial girl who is navigating her way through the foster care system, this book tore at my heart on multiple occasions, and I cried at least three times. Perfection from the first page to the last, I would recommend this book to every single person I know!

The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. Oh man, this book. So sad, such a perfect snapshot of grief. Didion is one of my favorites, and this book will stay on my shelves forever.

Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks. I wasn't super impressed with this book. I just couldn't empathize with any of the characters, and while I knew this was the first book in a series that had been recommended to me, I couldn't do it. I finished the book, reluctantly, and then opted out of the rest of the series.

(Note: Links in this post are Amazon affiliate links)

Mar 6, 2016

Gallatin Scarf

Pattern: Gallatin Scarf, by Kris Basta (free pattern)
Yarn: Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn! Solids (I used 165 yards, so about 1/2 of a skein)
Needles: US 10.5 / 6.5mm

It was mentioned yesterday in a comment that maybe I was just a bit burnt out on knitting hats, and I'm pretty sure that was the truest statement ever made!

With Renfrew still sitting, waiting for decreases to happen, I cast on Gallatin after a late-night Raverly binge wherein I found project after project being added to my queue. I'm not even sure how I happened upon the pattern for Gallatin (which is offered free on Kris' website), but after showing it to several different people, and each of them falling in love with the scarf, I knew I had to give it a try.

I cast on for Gallatin on Thursday after school, and was binding off and weaving in ends on Saturday morning. This quick knit definitely got me fully out of my knitting slump, gave me a cute scarf to wear on the colder spring days, and got me so excited to keep knitting I immediately grabbed my Renfrew hat and finished it as well!

This scarf is perfect for those who knit to donate - the lace is super beginner-friendly, the scarf isn't bulky at all (which makes it perfect for folks in all sorts of temperatures and situations), it can be wrapped loosely around the neck like a scarf or twisted around like a cowl (by tucking the ends in), and it can be made in wool, acrylic OR even cotton! I've already got plans for some rogue skeins of acrylic in my stash that I didn't know what to do with - they will make gorgeous Gallatin scarves!

Plus, the pattern is simple to remember, and takes just a few evenings of non-concentrated work to finish! I knit on mine while playing trains with Owen, watching Curious George with Lou, and even while having a beer at the end of the night with Zach!

As for donations, while I'll be keeping this first grey Gallatin for myself, I know I'll be making more for donation. Any I make out of wool will be sent on to Nest Maine, but all the ones I plan to make in acrylic? I'll be sending those on to the Pine Ridge Reservation! There is a group on Ravelry that is always sending donations to this area of the country that is so steeped in poverty it makes me a bit sick, and I know the scarves will be used and loved there!

Mar 3, 2016

Donating Items Made From Sock Yarn

Earlier this week, I received a comment from someone anonymous. As the question was a great one to have asked, I thought I'd share it, and my answer, here! The question was:

Several years ago I was given multiple bags (unopened, same dye lot per bag) of wool blend sock yarn. The local agencies I knit for do not want any wool clothing and the one I mail to only wants heavy weight wool socks. I have at least enough Kroy sock yarn to make 25 pairs of socks and am looking for somewhere to donate wool blend socks knitted with standard "sock" yarn (ie. 28sts = 4in on #3 needles).

So, you know my first response is ... make that yarn into Sockhead Hats and Basic Beanies! Both patterns use just about any "standard" sock yarn you have in your stash, and work up super warm while also being thin enough that you can send bunches of them for donation to a wide variety of charities.

But the real question was where to send those finished items, specifically who accepts socks. There's a few charities I know of that love to get wool socks all year long!

Nest: Maine, which has been accepting items for northern Maine residents for about a decade now, is always my go-to when people ask where they can donate woolen items. Nest accepts all manner of items, from hats and mittens to vests, sweaters, and even socks! All sizes are needed, and it's helpful to label the socks for size before you send them on over.

Another great organization is Hats And More For War-Torn Syria, which is actually a Ravelry group. What began as a way to collect just hats for refugees has become a global effort to clothe those fleeing war and disaster with wooly warmth. Socks are ALWAYS needed for this organization as well, and they simply request you tie the socks together with a spare bit of yarn so the pair doesn't get separated in transit. The Ravelry group has addresses both for the US and for the UK, so folks from all over the globe can ship to the cheapest option for them. All items are sent to refugee camp with aide workers through Salaam Cultural Museum, an internationally recognized aide group.

I hope that helps you out! And I'd love to see pictures of the items you make to donate - just tag them #shemakeshats on social media and I'll hopefully see them!!

(photo from the Kroy yarn page on Ravelry)