Posts Tagged ‘knitters anonymous’

All Thirty Hats In One Place

Monday, November 15th, 2010

It’s hard to believe I’ve made 30 hats.  It’s amazing what these hats have done for our robotics team (K-Botics).  We’ve set ourselves apart and created an identity–we certainly stand out in a crowd.

Each hat is unique, but bonds our group together–some have even said the hats are helping to make us such a tight knit group!

It’s not just me knitting…students and mentors are getting into it too. Some of the Knitters Anonymous have now started building robots. Some of the robotics team members have learned to knit specifically so they can make a robot hat!  The smile on a kid’s face, when they get a hat–made just for them–is priceless.  That’s why I keep knitting!

Here’s a free pattern, so you can make some too.

This hat making enterprise would not be possible without the generous donation of K-Botics coloured yarn from one of the team’s families.  If you’d like to help us purchase yarn, please donate. For $5 you could sponsor a hat!

And here are the hats that I’ve made….All 30 of them!  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

It all began in the spring of 2009, on a very long bus ride to Atlanta for the World Championships of FIRST robotics.  I needed something to do on the bus for 24 hours.  Robot knitting, inspired by hats I’d seen on Ravelry, seemed to be the right choice.

First to get hats were our drive team and some mentors

Some hats were quite plain, while others had huge pompoms, and curlicues coming out of the tops, for added flair.  This was a sign of things to come!

Spring 2010: Hat making began at the kick-off of our season in January.  Hats had horns knit with copper wire, or were reversible “transformer” hats (ravelink).

Preparation for our Chairman’s Award presentation required more hats!  They are kind of a trademark of our team now.

Hats now had holes for hair (ponytails or many curls) to show through.  We even made a hat for the MC of our competition to wear.  His team colours included red, so we added red just for him.

There was a sad tale…the first version of this hat went missing on a ski trip, so the second version was created–note the pink tentacles…that’s why they’re there!

Head bands are preferred by some…

Others don’t mind the more unique aspects like tassels and beads.

Sometimes the hat needs only one robot.

Fall 2010: It’s not yet kick-off for this season, and hats are being made at an astonishing pace.  Some of these hats include glow in the dark yarn.  If you want some, you can order it from Seed Stitch Fine Yarn in Salem MA.

How Peculiar!

Sunday, September 26th, 2010

On Friday, at a top secret location, at an undisclosed time, a group of knitters met secretly.  Part of the mission was to knit.  Part of the mission was to teach knitting to others.

A more recent member to our little group brought with her this interesting package

She claimed that it contained circular needles which would be useful for her hat project that she was going to start.

When we opened the package, we were surprised that although there were needles and plastic cords attached, that they were not actually circulars!  Although they wouldn’t be helpful for her hat project, they are pretty neat.  May I introduce to you the PONY TOTAL KNITTING SYSTEM! (4 items in one package!!!)

Needles, stitch holder (the cord), row counter, and point protectors!

I’ve never used a row counter, but I can see where it would be very useful!

To avoid losing stitches, the needle points fit into a little hole in the knob at the end of the cord.  It’s quite a tight press fit, and I think it is pretty secure.  It could potentially save lots of time and frustration!

All of this, in a convenient little package!  I asked this anonymous member of our secret group where she acquired these needles.  She admitted that they were a very cheap purchase from a garage sale.

Have you seen them before?

Designing A Headband

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Several anonymous knitters met today at lunch to sketch out a plan for a surprise project. The goal was to design a headband that has a complex image on it, and some of these anonymous knitters looked at me strangely when I mentioned words like gauge and thickness of yarn, and stranded knitting, and reading charts.  This post is dedicated to these anonymous knitters, and all other beginners who want to make up their own designs.

Find out the general size of the garment

For a headband, this requires the circumference of the head (wrap a string around your head, then measure the string with a ruler), and an estimation of the width of the band.

Plan of attack

Headbands fit best if they can stretch outward, and knitting in the round will allow for this stretch.  Another option would be to knit a rectangle and sew it up (I avoid sewing things up if at all possible).  Consider how the edges might roll–add ribbing on the top and bottom edge to prevent rolling but to still allow it to stretch.  (I-Cord will not stretch….I learned the hard way on this one)

Choosing the right yarn and needles

If you are planning a really complicated pattern, choose thin yarn and fine needles.  This will let you have detail in your project without the project getting too large.


I don’t like this step, but it is sometimes a necessary step in the design process.  With the needles and yarn that you have chosen, knit a small rectangle at least 2 inches by 2 inches.  Get a ruler, and (without stretching your sample) measure how many stitches fit in one inch.  Measure also how many rows fit in one inch.  Write down your needle size, yarn that you are using, and stitches per inch, and rows per inch.  This will prevent the need for future swatching with the same materials.

NOTE: Stranded knitting with two colours tends to draw in (get tighter) than knitting in one colour.  Keep this in mind if you are going to knit with two colours.  Another option is to use duplicate stitch to add designs on after the headband is knit.

Math Time

To make a headband fit snugly around the head, you need negative ease.  This means that you should aim for the headband to be about an inch less than the head circumference.  If you are doing stranded knitting you might not need so much negative ease, since your knitting will be tighter.

Headband circumference[adjusted to account for negative ease] in inches x #stitches per inch = #stitches to cast on

Desired headband width in inches x #rows per inch = #rows to knit

Chart Time

Get a piece of graph paper, or a fresh excel spreadsheet, and mark off the rectangle that will be the headband (#stitches to cast on is the long side, and #rows to knit is the short side)

Colour in the design on the graph paper.  Each square will represent one stitch.  Think of it like you are creating the pixels of your picture.

Cast on!

Start with ribbing, then add your design according to your chart.  If your design is not symmetrical (like letters or numbers) make sure that your pattern will be the right way up and the right way around.  End with ribbing, and cast off.

I look forward to seeing the finished product!  Get knitting!


Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

As the New Year approaches I start to think about decluttering my shelves to get more organized.  This includes airing out the stash, and getting rid of all that yarn that I will most likely never use. (I’m not even going to mention the bags of fleece…3 bags full…gotta start spinning!)

I feel bad throwing things away that could be useful to someone else.  I try to donate my leftover stash yarn to groups that will put it to good use.

Whether you are moving, downsizing, or just cleaning up your house here are some places that might be happy to adopt your extra yarn.  Ask around…

  1. Local high schools or elementary schools might have a knitting club like the Knitter’s Anonymous that meet at my neighbourhood school.  Kids can learn with just about any of your stash yarn.
  2. Check the Project Linus site for a coordinator near you.  Maybe your local yarn store might be interested in becoming a coordinator!  Knitters could take your donated yarn, and make patchwork blankets for sick children.
  3. Thrift stores like Value Village or The Salvation Army Store survive on donations of all sorts of household items.  They will sell your donated yarn, and raise money and donate some of their earnings to local non-profit organizations.
  4. Some prisons accept yarn donations for their “Knitting Behind Bars” programs
  5. Some nursing homes accept yarn donations as well.
  6. Some keen knitters have put a call out for yarn to knit for charity purposes.  100 Hats is one that has caught my eye.  She’s done 26 now!
comfort dolls

comfort dolls

If you have the time to use up your stash, but haven’t thought of a good quick project, take a look at the following lists of links.  Find a charity near you!  You might be inspired to knit a teddy bear, comfort doll, or a hat or a blanket for the variety of people who are in need of warmth or comfort.

I knit about 20 hats in 2008 and donated them to the clients of a local soup kitchen in the fall.  It was such a worthwhile exercise.  I do hope you feel more comfortable parting with your clutter of stash yarn knowing that somehow, somewhere it will provide warmth and comfort for others.

Charity Knitting Lists (feel free to add more suggestions in the comments)

Halcyon Yarns

Interweave Press

Unslumping Yourself Is Not Easily Done

Friday, December 4th, 2009

First of all, I have a thing for children’s books, good children’s books, the kind with solid advice for life embedded within a story so entertaining that you don’t realize that the message is there. I enjoyed being read to when I was young, and now I read to children of all ages at any chance I get.

My all time favourite kids book would have to be “Oh The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. It was first read to me by my mom when I was in university, but since then I have read it to enough people that I can recite it almost entirely by heart. Over the years, different messages in the story have resonated with me at different times.

There is a great optimism in this book. It was originally written as a graduation address for university students. It speaks of choices…

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good-street.

It speaks of the balance in life. The good times and, to the surprise of many first time readers, the bad times too. It speaks to the great ups and downs of life, moments of popularity, and fame contrasted with moments of loneliness and isolation. One of the quotes that has stuck with me over the years is:

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch, and your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch. You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are then, that you’ll be in a Slump. And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

For a “kid’s book” it presents a very balanced view of life, ending off with the following words of motivation and advice

Kid, You’ll Move Mountains!

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!

A birthday cake made for me by some of the Knitter's Anonymous students

This is a book that should be read to kids when they are little, and then brought back out again over the years at graduations, or times of challenge and change. Teenagers may roll their eyes when you drag out “that book” again, but deep down, I know they love to hear it.

“Look back at your year”, says the blogger Gwen Bell

“Reflect upon books, and your memories tell!”

Answer this challenge, that’s just what I did.

Now what was your favouritest book as a kid?

Charity Knitting

Friday, November 13th, 2009

As knitters, we generally enjoy sharing warmth with others. Many of my friends and family members have been recipients of my knitted goods over the years, but I also try to do my bit and knit for those in need, or to raise money for worthwhile causes. Stay tuned for an opportunity to use your knitterly talents to PAY IT FORWARD (this special post will be added sometime in the next 24 hours)

pay it forward

This time last year I was helping a group of high school students knit hats for people who attend a hot lunch program at a downtown church. We knit a total of 30 hats, and brought them to the lunch program toward the end of November. We mixed and mingled with the lunch program patrons, and let them choose a new hat, hand knit just for them. The joy on their faces of the knitters and new hat owners was wonderful to behold.

Donated to the Lunch Program

Donated to the Lunch Program

Some of the same high school knitters had also come together to make a blanket for a local women’s shelter. We delivered the blanket for Christmas 2007. The blanket was made from donated yarn knit up into garter stitch squares and rectangles by beginner knitters, and fancier cabled and intarsia squares and rectangles by the more experienced in the group. The large pile of pieces were put together “Tetris style” to form a very unique blanket.

almost finished (lots of ends to sew in)

almost finished (lots of ends to sew in)

This year we are making a blanket for Project Linus, a charity that delivers blankets to children in need of comfort in times of illness or trauma. There are many new knitters in our group this year, so some of the pieces have been more free-form than in the past. It will be an extra challenge to piece them together this season.

next blanket (not nearly enough squares yet)

next blanket (not nearly enough squares yet)

I challenge you to get together with your friendly neighbourhood knitters and put together a blanket to donate



Every now and again I get asked to donate some of my knitting for different silent auction tables. I’ve made stranded mittens, thrummed mittens and more recently slouchy hats. I am always surprised what types of things bring in the most money at these types of events. A slouchy hat I made in a single afternoon brought in twice the money that my lovely thrummed mittens did (that took significantly longer and more materials to make).

Auctioned for a school board breakfast program

Auctioned for a school board breakfast program

This week I was asked to knit mittens or a hat for a charity silent auction raising money for “green initiatives” in the local community which is being held at the beginning of December.

What knitting donation do you think would bring in the most money for this worthwhile cause?

Knitters Anonymous

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

knitters anonymous

knitters anonymous

Today the puffy mitten came to school with me to enjoy lunch with the “Knitters Anonymous Club”. It is such fun to spend time with such creative young minds.

working on squares

working on squares

Some students are learning to knit, others are mastering different stitches, some are making socks, and others are bravely venturing into the land of lace scarves.

Branching out Scarf in blue cotton

Branching out Scarf in soft blue cotton

While we eat, and talk, and collaborate on pattern ideas, we are actually “knitting together” a wonderful creative and welcoming community within the school. We even have a mascot named Bertha that was created as a result of several “happy accidents”.

bertha, the mascot

Bertha, the mascot

As students learn they make squares that we sew into blankets to donate to various charities (which I will talk about another day…that deserves an entire post to itself!) Some are now getting very good at squares, and are venturing out into the wilds of Ravelry to knit other fancy things.

multi-tasking...knitting and homework!

multi-tasking...knitting and homework!

In the upcoming weeks we look forward to learning new skills like spinning and dyeing

casting on

casting on

We keep each other up to date about local knitting related activities and yarn sales

making squares


We share our latest patterns and projects

making great improvements


And we usually end up having a laugh!

making sure no extra stitches creep in there!

making sure no extra stitches creep in there!

I think everyone is amazed at how much we can accomplish if we each do a little bit

our lord of the needles a very fast learner!

our "lord of the needles" a very fast learner!

Here is a picture of our most recent blanket which is a metaphor for our group. Each square is unique, some are bright and crazy patterns and colours, some are calm muted tones. Some are conventional patterns, others are invented (on purpose or accidentally). But together, when all joined up, it is a very warm and beautiful object.

blanket (work in progress)

blanket (work in progress)

This is the fifth year that I have been a part of this amazing group. We have accomplished a lot, learned a lot, and experienced a lot. We even met the Yarn Harlot!

Knitters Anonymous field trip to meet The Yarn Harlot

Knitters Anonymous field trip to meet The Yarn Harlot

Thanks to those anonymous knitters who have agreed to have their photos on this page. :) You are an impressive lot!