Pattern: Savante Hat, by DeBrosse
Yarn: Lion's Pride Wool Spun (almost a full skein for each hat)
Needles: size 11 16" circulars

I've been Insta-friends with Teresa for awhile now, and have been bugging her almost since we met to publish the Savante hat pattern. As she had just begun dipping her toes into pattern writing when we met, she kindly declined my offer, but said  maybe someday.

So, I've been stalking her shop and Instagram almost every day since. I've fallen head over heels in love with her mission to help mamas and babies in Haiti with every shop sale, and have bought several of her crochet patterns just so I could help support the cause.

And then.

One day, I hopped over to her shop. And there it was. The Savante pattern, just waiting for me to snap it up!!

Friends, this pattern is everything I could have hoped it would be, and then some!! Bulky yarn, no double points needed, a fast and easy to memorize pattern? Yes to all. These two hats flew off my needles, and I've got a truckload of bulky yarn that's about to become more Savante hats for sure!

And when I run out of bulky yarn? I'll probably just double up my worsted and keep on making!

The double brim makes this hat super warm, so whether you're an acrylic gal or a woolie lover, this is a pattern you can use for charity knitting and know the recipients will be kept super warm through every cold season they encounter.

My current plan is to make 100 of these over the summer, in both wool and acrylic, so that I'm ready for fall and winter donations!

Savante Hats, part one (of many)

May 21, 2017

Pattern: Boardwalk Infinity Scarf, by Danyel Pink
Hook: US I / 5.5 mm
Yarn: Caron Cakes in Gelato

Just before we moved, I finished up a test run on the Boardwalk Infinity Scarf. I'd picked up a Caron Cake, and wanted to try it out on something that had an easy-to-memorize pattern, something I could potentially make on repeat for gifting this holiday season.

I altered this pattern in just one way - I didn't make it into an infinity scarf. Instead, I added fringe on the ends, making it a regular scarf that can be wrapped around your neck at least two times (like I did in the picture).

The yarn cake has 383 yards, and I didn't use all of it. In the end, I had enough yarn left for three baby hats.

After I first finished the scarf, I thought that if/when I made it again I'd make it thicker, maybe actually make it an infinity scarf even. I wasn't sure I liked the long stripes of color this skinny scarf pattern gave me.

Now, however? I love it exactly as it is. I plan to cut the fringe for the first side before I begin crocheting so the fringe matches, and then I'll just go and go and go until the scarf is around 7 feet long. Then I'll cut fringe for the other side, attach it all, and call it good!

I've got three more of these Caron Cakes, and if all goes well I may just pick up a few more even - this is the perfect scarf to give to literally every female on my list! The yarn is 20% wool, so even this skinny it's super warm, and the length is perfection!

Boardwalk Infinity Scarf (minus the infinity part)

Nov 21, 2016

Pattern: The Léogâne, by Debrosse NYC
Yarn: Loops And Threads Cozy Wool (pewter, 2 skeins super bulky)
Hook: P / 11.5mm

I finished this infinity scarf before we moved, and have been meaning to take pictures for about two weeks now. Turns out, it can be hard to find time to take pictures when you're packing, moving, and then unpacking! ;)

Now that we're a little bit settled in (although a long way from done unpacking ...) I found some time over the weekend to get this scarf out and snap a few pictures. Louise wasn't as into getting her photo taken as I was, but we powered through. For posterity. And fun.

The Léogâne is the perfect "learn to crochet" infinity scarf - it's fun and fast, uses two skeins of super bulky, and can be gifted a million times over.

Next time I make it (for holiday presents) I think I'll chain about 8 fewer before joining in the round, however. I love the pattern and the way it looks, but it felt a bit long around my neck once I wrapped it twice. Since the scarf will stretch with time, I know that if I make it smaller it won't make it unwearable for others, and it will be a piece I love even more.

Seriously - with just a few weekends left before the holidays, I'm about to kick things into high gear, and this one is about to be gifted on REPEAT.

If you're not a crocheter, you can buy the finished piece from DeBrosse in her shop!

Off The Needles: The Léogâne

Nov 7, 2016

FINALLY sharing the Refuge Hat pattern! I've been using this for months now, and keep saying I'm going to get it written up, and then .... life. But yesterday I got the whole thing written up, so today you get to meet Refuge!

This isn't a pattern that no one has ever used before, by any means. It borrows from the Shanti Hat pattern for the brim, and from a few other crochet hat patterns I've seen around for the body. But rather than just continuing to share a few mods on Instagram each time I share a photo, I wrote it all down, turned it into a PDF, and am sharing it for free!

Here are the official deets from Ravelry, and you can also DOWNLOAD THE PATTERN here!

Perfect for donation, the Refuge Hat uses HDC throughout to create a thick and comfy texture that will keep your head warm in any conditions. Make it in wool or acrylic, cotton or blends, and donate it to every place that accepts hats!

Approx 140 yds worsted weight yarn.

I have used Vanna’s Choice, Hobby Lobby I Love This Yarn, Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool (pictured), Cascade 220, Caron Simply Soft, and more! HOOK: Size US I / 5.5mm hook

Darning needle
3 HDC x 3 HDC= 1”
18” unstretched - fits most teens/adults

BPDC = back post double crochet
CH = chain
FPDC = front post double crochet
HDC = half double crochet
RND = round
SL = slip
ST(S) = stitch(es)

Refuge Hat Pattern

Oct 24, 2016

Apr 2, 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 9, 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)

While Knitting, February 2016

Mar 7, 2016

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!

Gallatin Scarf

Mar 6, 2016

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)

Donating Items Made From Sock Yarn

Mar 3, 2016

Earlier in the month, I was lamenting on Instagram that I'd hit a huge knitting slump. I'd been casting on and then ripping back just about everything I put on my needles pretty much since the beginning of 2016, and I was about ready to throw in the needles and take a knitting hiatus.

And then I cast on Jane Richmond's Renfrew. Working with some cauliflower purple Cascade 220 given to me by a knitting friend, I blew through the body of the hat so fast I'm not sure I properly remember actually knitting it! And then ...

Well, and then life got the best of me. Zach went out of town for a few days, I found myself doing a lot of grading for school, and before I knew it Renfrew had been sitting unloved for over a week! Today I plan to hop back on and get the decreasing done, and then hopefully snap a few pictures.

So my knitting slump is sort of kicked, although I'm still trying to power through. Hopefully a gorgeous finished hat will do the trick!

Still Slightly Stalled

Feb 15, 2016

One of the questions I get asked quite often is if someone can knit for charity if they get their yarn from big box craft stores. And if so, what can they make, and where can they send it? The answer, of course, is that you can CERTAINLY knit for charity using yarn found at big box craft stores, and there's TONS of things you can make, and just as many charities to send your items to!

It doesn't always feel that simple though, does it? And so I'm starting a new series here on the blog, called Paired Up. I'll be matching yarn you can find at big box craft stores with patterns I've found FREE on Ravelry, and then pairing those items up with charities I know will accept them. My hope is this will make it simple enough for any and everyone who wants to make something to give away to be able to do just that. Because it truly is just that simple.

I've got a few ideas all ready to go, but I want to hear from you as well! What yarn do you have in your stash that you're not sure what to do with? What yarn do you purchase most often? What shops are closest to you? What sorts of people do you want to help with your donations?

(Yarns pictured: Caron Simply Soft, Vanna's Choice, Paton's Classic Wool, and Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick N Quick)

Paired Up: An Introduction

Feb 3, 2016

I feel like I've been in such a huge knitting slump lately. I keep casting on hats, and then not finishing them, leaving them sitting on various surfaces around the house until I give up and rip them out, adding the yarn back to my stash.

The trouble isn't motivation - I know I want to keep knitting hats and giving them away. My heart breaks daily with the need I see all around the world, right outside my door, and everywhere in between. I just haven't been able to make my fingers follow my heart this past month or two.

Then, on this snowy stay-inside day today, I think I figured out the problem. I knew my student teaching would take up gobs of my time (for good reason!) and so I had decided in late December that I was going to commit myself to knitting just Sandoval Hats for the first four to five months of the year. A pattern I know by heart, I assumed it would help keep me knitting, while not occupying too much of my brain space as to become a nuisance.

Turns out, I need a bit more variety than that! While I've always kept myself occupied with Sandoval hats, I've always  had another hat (or something else) on the needles at the same time, giving me variety and some much-needed interest, it turns out. So I took a few minutes earlier today to dig through some of my "want to knit" hat patterns, and decided to go back to a designer I know and love dearly - Jane Richmond. Jane has become a friend over the years (albeit an online friend, as we've not yet had the opportunity to meet in person), and I count myself lucky for that. Her designs are minimalist and aesthetically pleasing, simple to knit while never boring, and just exactly what I needed to bust myself out of my knitting slump!

I grabbed some cauliflower Cascade 220 out of my stash (de-stashed to me from a friend in Des Moines) and cast on Renfrew while Lou was sleeping, and I'm already almost halfway done, by knitting slump officially kicked!

(pictured above, clockwise from top left: Extra Slouch | Begbie | Renfrew | Wellington)


Feb 2, 2016

My plan, late last December, was to close up shop for Christmas and through the New Year. And then I started student teaching, and everything got a bit crazy for awhile there! Now it's the end of January, and I'm just now getting things back opened up over at the shop - I'd love for you to take a look!

We're supposedly getting a HUGE storm here in the Midwest in the next couple of days, so if you're in need of something to keep you cozy and warm I've got a few items that might fit the bill!

And don't forget, every purchase helps buy solar lights for Al Amal! I'm able to purchase AT LEAST one solar light for every shop purchase, which means tons of refugees are gaining access to safety and education, the ability to maneuver the refugee camps at all hours (as many are showing up in the middle of the night), see where they're going as they walk to their next location, and so much more!

I'm also using shop profits to buy books and supplies for my middle school classroom. I'm teaching in a Title 1 school in one of the poorest neighborhoods here in Omaha, so my students can't afford to buy things like notebooks and pencils. My goal is to have a huge classroom library for them to use during our silent reading, and to always have pencils and notebooks and paper and such on-hand. I also need to make copies for their writer's notebooks, quizzes, and such, and our district doesn't have the money to fully fund that, so I use shop profits for this as well.

It's the most rewarding, and the most draining, work I've ever done. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Thanks in advance for checking out the shop!

The Shop Is Back Open!

Jan 30, 2016