Friday, June 20, 2008

In It for the Long Haul

You know when you’re really busy and you have about 500 chores to do…so many things to do that you don’t know where to begin? That’s like this post. I have so much to say that I don’t know where to start. How about we just dive in, ok?

I know I tend to prattle on and on, even on my best days, but this time I may have outdone myself. I tried to break it up into two posts but without any particular success. Oh well…it’s Friday. We’ve got the whole weekend ahead of us. There are hats and pictures and pictures of hats and updates and non-knitting content and made up words and flagrant misuse of punctuation…we’ve got it all. So sit back, relax, get comfortable and enjoy. On second thought, don’t get too comfortable. I’d hate for you to doze off before you get to the picture of the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge at the end.

Mile Marker 95

I leave for the Ukraine in 95 days.
I’m taking note of this because I know how these things happen…I know that right now (to me at least) it seems like this trip is a long way off. I also know that I am going to turn around twice and it will be time to pack my things and go. And I am going to wonder where the time went. So I guess this is sort of like verbal breadcrumbs. More than three months. 95 days.

Contain Yourself

As this project grows, so must the receptacles in which I hold the hat-tasticness. When I very first started this, the hats I received fit nicely in my regular knitting bag but as time goes on and more and more hats come my way, the hats have, of course, taken up more room. I had to find a different container as they started to overwhelm my knitting bag.

At first I moved them to this green-grocery bag. (Green, of course, in the sense that it is reusable and saves us from the brown bags and plastic bags. Obviously, I'm not doing too well on that front if I am using it to haul hats around in and still getting paper and plastic to bring home my groceries.)
Later, they grew into this upholstered bag provided to me by my friend Molly’s main squeeze, Rob (he made the bag himself) and some stayed in the boxes they arrived in.

Now that I’ve got them all consolidated, they won't fit into the upholstered bag anymore so they have moved into new digs. The box my suitcase came in. There is still room in there for more hats. See, not quite full. They are going to hang out there for a while, next to my crutches.

Survey Says

Several people have asked me in the last couple of days what the current hat count is and I didn’t really know the number. I knew it was over 100 maybe 120. I was guessing 117, after going to knitting night Wednesday. For the sake of hat knitters everywhere (and because I hate not knowing exactly), last night I got all of the hats out and counted and photographed them. My kitchen table isn’t that big so I can’t get all of the hats laid out at once (which is pretty dang cool). Here they are, in three acts.

These first two pictures show 60 hats and 53 hats, respectively. That put the count at 113. That didn’t sound right to me for some reason but I can admit when my facts are fuzzy. 113 it is then. A very good number. So I gathered all the hats up and put them away and then I turned around and saw a small bag of hats on my couch. Damn. My best efforts to take a picture of all of them at once had failed. Whatever. I didn’t want to get them all back out so I photographed the last 7 separately.
The intrepid RC also has 4 hats (and 20 some pairs of mittens!!) at her house. (See pictures here.)

Which puts us at 124 (knitting has made me better at math). This count includes only those hats I and/or RC currently have in possession. I know there are others out there…Two that my co-worker Judy crocheted, which she is showing around to some of her family and friends before she relinquishes custody….Two that my friend Deb is doing, the first is completed and its “negative”/fraternal twin hat still on the needles, both done in the Fake Isle fair isles pattern. They are both beautiful. (She has pictures in this post.) She’s holding on to them until she shows them to the knitters at her Monday knitting group. There’s also one that I knit that is hanging out at Hooks & Needles for a while. And one that Katy finished and still has at her house plus one that my co-worker Yo has. I let her keep it for a little while longer. After all, it is her first hat and her first knitting ever. She deserves to hold on to it a bit longer. Oh – and 15 that my friend Mary's mother has done in Arizona.

That’s 22 more but my self-imposed rule is to only count those hats I actually have on hand and the ones that RC has on hand. Yippee for 124!!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. A Thousand Times Thank You

This is fabulous news, ya’ll. I can’t say thank you enough. As usual, the knitters are awesome. I must admit, not even begrudgingly, that the crocheters are pretty dang marvelous in their own right. The generosity and kindness…the diversity of the hats… ya’ll never cease to amaze me…ya’ll rock! 300+, here we come!!

Just for the fun of it, here are some individual shots for your viewing pleasure. (Dial-up users, forgive me. Please.)

These hats were made by the fabulous Katrina and are the latest additions to the collection.
10 from her, all in a row. Katrina sent me the sweetest email when she mailed the hats, in which she told me that this project has inspired her and she has started knitting hats for her local Salvation Army. How cool is that? Thank you, Katrina!

Kim knit this hat. It was one of the first to arrive to me in the mail. I love the pattern and it is super soft. I’m guessing it is made from the Patons SWS. (Kim, correct me please if I am wrong.)

Ahh, look who it is. This is the hat that started it all. It isn’t a great hat. In fact, it is a little awkward. If I were to set you up on a blind date with this hat, I would probably tell you it has a great personality. That doesn’t matter, though. It’s beautiful on the inside. See, the weekend after I found out about my trip to the Ukraine, I went to the Bay Area to do a little shopping with Katy and my mama. I was in a rush the morning we left so I just grabbed my knitting bag and a ball of Icelandic Wool I had in the stash. I had in mind to knit a hat for an as-yet-unborn-baby of a friend. The needles I had in my bag and the yarn I took along weren’t a perfect marriage for a baby hat but they were all the knitting I had with me so I just kept knitting that hat. And as it grew, so did the idea of making hats for these orphans. I guess it just goes to show that even a thoroughly imperfect hat can be perfect, too.

Here's the latest addition from Deb. Knit from a bulky Cascade in a simple foliage pattern (I think from Knitty.) Very pretty and cushy. It was Deb who set up the Ravelry group.

Come in under the “best use of hat topper decoration” category, this hat, which was knit by a lady named Lee who sometimes joins us at Hooks & Needles on Wednesday nights. Coincidentally, she was Katy’s psych teacher in college years ago. I’m super keen on that tassel/pompom action.

I love love LOVE this precious little hat. I need to get the pattern from Bea. (Coincidentally, I think one of the hats Colleen has is from the same pattern.)

This is one of Bea’s hats, too. I also want to knit this pattern. I’ve tried to just look at it and figure it out but I want the actual pattern. It is really cute and a very practical hat. I need to make a hat for my niece Tegan and I think this is a nifty pattern for her.

This hat is knit from di'Ve Teseo (the kind-hearted step-sister of the Autunno, which is still officially my favorite hat yarn.) This particular fall-colored delight was knit by the lovely Anita, who is not only a neat lady and big help to everyone at Hooks & Needles but also my supplier…of the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. Yum. Anita rocks hardcore.

My LYS proprietress-of-fabulosity knit this sweet little pastel hat from a pattern of her own making out of a new shade of Autunno. I’m showing you Kaylee’s hat as a reminder that she’s still offering a 10% discount on hat yarn to local shoppers and free shipping for knitters from afar. (Hooks & Needles)

Team effort hat, part the first: This hat was Kool-Aid dyed by crazy fast knitter Julie and then turned into an awesome hat by her daughter-in-law.

Team effort hat #2: My friend Mary knit this little hat from some leftover wool (the navy, top part of hat) but discovered she didn’t have enough to do a whole hat. Mary is a newish knitter and wasn’t sure what to do at that point so she just finished it off and decided it would just be a small hat. Unfortunately it was a little too small. So I took it to Kaylee and she crocheted that fancy little multi-color border and the hat is just right now.

Hats are super cool but so are prizes. One prize in the Super-Cool-Hat-Knitting-Contest-Pool is two skeins of Interlacements in the Alabama colorway. Each of these two skeins is 800 yards and 100% cotton.

Two additional prizes: SCARVES!! These two handknit beauties were made by the ever-talented Kim. Each scarf will be paired with some not-yet-determined something else, probably yarn. Thanks, Kim!

Flat Knitting is Cool, Too

Back in the murky days of the early part of this year, when I was busy wallowing and not blogging or doing much knitting, my friend Molly decided she wanted to learn to do Entrelac. (I mentioned this in a post a few weeks ago.) Since I am a pushover, I volunteered to learn it so I could help her. Turns out that this technique, which was always very intimidating to me, is actually quite straightforward. Straightforward and surprisingly enjoyable knitting. So enjoyable, in fact, that immediately after completing the sample, I cast on for a pillow top. (After all, I had an 18” pillow form in my spare closet, just waiting to meet its destiny. And apparently its destiny is Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton Silk.)
I’ve got the fabric for the back. I wonder how long it is going to take me to drag out the sewing machine and make it into an actual pillow case…we’ll see. But the knitting was fun.

Excitement Afoot

If you are relatively new to this blog, this news isn’t going to mean much to you but it is great news, nonetheless. See this?
That is perhaps the best ankle brace ever made. Lightweight, thin enough to fit in most of my shoes, very supportive, comfortable…Best of all, though, today is the last day I have to wear it – or any brace – on a regular basis. I’ll keep it around for distance walking and playing badminton and other activities that are particularly demanding on the ankle, but otherwise I’m free of it. Third time is indeed a charm. No more ankle surgery on the horizon for me. My ankle is almost completely better. Not absolutely better yet, but well on its way. Per yesterday’s visit with the good doctor, the grafts are “fully incorporated” and the cartilage has “stitched together nicely”. I can walk and I can climb on rocks and I can go up and down steps and I can bend it every which way I please and – AND – I can even stand on my tiptoes. A very important thing at 5’2”. I can’t even articulate how pleased and relieved I am to be at this point.

I Digress

Remember earlier in this post, I mentioned about going to the Bay Area a while back with my sister and my mother? Well it was a really wonderful, peaceful, relaxing day. We did do a little shopping but then we got a wild hair and decided to do a little sightseeing, too. San Francisco is well-known for its many sights and activities but one of the less well-known is Fort Point. Fort Point is located directly under the southern side of the Golden Gate Bridge and was the only fortification on the Pacific Coast during the Civil War. It has had other functions since then but today it is a National Historic site. Interestingly, when the Golden Gate Bridge was originally planned, it included the destruction of Fort Point but the Chief Engineer redesigned some of the bridge elements in order to keep the fort intact.

Just a couple of pictures from there. Katy and I went up to the top and it was beautiful from there. Very, very windy and beautiful. Katy then me.
A murky shot of Mama and Katy in one of the alcoves where cannons were once mounted.
Even if you aren’t interested in the history of it, there are some beautiful views from Fort Point and no charge to visit. All and all an excellent stop for anyone visiting San Francisco.

As promised: the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge. (I think that is my finger there on the right. Umm.) Whew! I think that’s all for now. Do ya’ll feel caught up? I hope you have a wonderful weekend and thank you again to everyone who is knitting or has knitted hats. Please forgive the hit or miss links. I think I’ve run out of steam…

Today's Quote

"The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." -Harriet Beecher Stowe

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two Basic Hats

In case anyone is looking for a hat pattern, here are two VERY BASIC patterns I've been using. I know there are a bunch out there that are much cooler than these and you'll have to use a chunky-ish yarn (I've been using the Autunno as frequently mentioned) since these patterns are worked on US Size 10 or 10.5. If nothing else, these patterns can be used as a jumping off point.



Abbreviations: K = Knit, P = Purl, K2Tog = Knit 2 stitches together, P2Tog = Purl 2 stitches together

On size US 10 or 10.5 needles, cast on*** 60 stitches. Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist your stitches.

Row 1: Knit 60
Row 2: Knit 2, Purl 2
Continue repeating Row 2 until the piece measures approximately 6 - 6.5”.

Work decreases as follows:

Decrease Row 1: *K2, P2, K2Tog, P2, K2, P2Tog*, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 2: *K2, P2, K1, P2, K2, P1*, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 3: *K2, P1, K2Tog, P2, K1, P2Tog*, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 4: *K2, P1, K1, P2, K1, P1*, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 5: *K2, K2Tog, P2, P2Tog*, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 6: *K3, P3*, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

At the end of Decrease Row 6, cut yarn approximately 12 – 15”. Using a darning or sewing needle, thread yarn tail on to needle and pass through all stitches then pull tight. Weave in end inside hat to secure. Weave in cast on tail. Add pompom if desired.

***I use the knitted cast on but any cast on method will do just fine.



Abbreviations: K = Knit, P = Purl, K2Tog = Knit 2 stitches together, P2Tog = Purl 2 stitches together

On size US 10 or 10.5 needles, cast on*** 60 stitches. Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist your stitches.

Row 1: Knit 60

Repeat Row 1 until hat is approximately 6 – 6.5” from edge when knitting is laid flat.

Work decreases as follows:

Decrease Row 1: *K4, K2Tog *, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 2: K to the end of the round

Decrease Row 1: *K3, K2Tog *, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 2: K to the end of the round

Decrease Row 1: *K2, K2Tog *, repeat from * to * to the end of the round

Decrease Row 2: K to the end of the round

At the end of Decrease Row 6, cut yarn approximately 12 – 15”. Using a darning or sewing needle, thread yarn tail on to needle and pass through all stitches then pull tight. Weave in end inside hat to secure. Weave in cast on tail. Add pompom if desired.

Friday, June 13, 2008

So Far

This blog really should be called "At Last Here's A Picture".

I have some individual shots, too, but this is the group as of last Thursday evening. (I really did TAKE the pictures when I planned....)

They are beautiful and I am just so amazed all over again at how wonderful the knitters (and crocheters and supports) are. We are so blessed and I sincerely CANNOT WAIT to see the children's faces. Thanks again everyone!

For all of you attending Potlucks and Knitting today - have fun. Take lots of pictures!!!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Watch This Space

As ya'll may have noticed, I seem to live by a pretty loose interpretation of time. Like, when I say I'm going to take pictures over the weekend, sometimes that means, not the weekend but sometime. You know, eventually.

This past weekend turned out to be strangely chaotic and I didn't get pictures done but tonight I have firm plans to conduct a Hat Photo Shot. I'm so excited. Please check back tomorrow (realistically, probably late afternoon/early evening) for pictures of the hats so far. I will also have a new accurate count....we are somewhere in the 80s now.

Not to be repetitively redundant but for informational purposes and because I'm not sure if everyone who reads here is on Ravelry, I am posting this update verbatim from the Ravelry group. People have been asking (and rightly so - hurray!) what I plan to do if I end up with more than 300 hats....

Thank you so much for asking. At the moment, I have 70 hats. If I receive more than the minimum needed of 300, I will take them with me to Ukraine. My reasoning on that is twofold:

1) 300 is the approximate number of children currently living in this particular orphanage. The number of residents at a facility like this can fluctuate from day-to-day and so by September, there may be more children living there. The maximum they can they can accommodate is 425 though they have not ever “reached capacity”.

2) If there are more hats than heads, I’d like to leave extra hats with the staff so when new children come to live there, they will be able to provide those children a hat as a sort of welcome gift. I can only imagine how frightening and intimidating it most be to enter a facility like that - with literally hundreds of other children - and I like to think that a little personal handmade gift might brighten a difficult day for those children.

Additionally, if we end up with more than needed, I’d like to include the staff of the orphanage in the handknit hat love. There are less than 30 workers in this facility (what a daunting task…can you even fathom what that kind of work must be like?) and I’m sure they would appreciate a special hat, too, if there are enough.

If you have any other thoughts/questions on that please let me know.

Ok. Just a quickie but I am all out of time at the moment. Come back tomorrow for the pictures!!

Today's Quote:

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Gandhi