The Year Of The Refugee

Robyn here.

For most of 2015, Heather and I have brought you charities and patterns, ways to combine them and help people close to you, and those across the world. It has been extremely amazing to watch this community grow as we've opened our hearts to those around us, and to the idea that we can use our needles and hooks for good.

Today is the first day of a new year, and with that newness comes a new focus for this space. As Heather and I have talked over the last few weeks and months, we've come again and again to the idea that, as much as it's great to have a huge database of charities and patterns at our disposal, what most knitters have been asking for is one simple direction.

Knit this, give it here.

In the face of so much need, all over the world, it can feel overwhelming to try to knit something and give it away. Where do you give the items once they've been knit? What is truly most needed? What pattern should I use on repeat, and with what yarn?

These are the questions we are asked most often, and so in 2016 we will begin to help you answer them. We will be focusing our knitting efforts on refugees, people with no homes. This may mean people in your neighborhood who are homeless, and this may also mean Syrian refugees.

Each month we'll be sharing about a specific need, and giving you a specific way to meet that need. In this way, we can focus as a community on meeting immediate needs in tangible ways, making the most difference with our knitting needles and crochet hooks. I'll be heading back here later tonight to share January's focus - it's a fun one, and for a hat knitter like me, a bit out of my comfort zone in all the best of ways!

Will you join us? We'd love for you to share your knitting projects across social media with the tag #makegiverepeat. This way we can band together as a community and put visuals to the work we are doing. We knitters are mighty, and we are kind, but so often we go unnoticed because we do not shout from the rooftops. It's time to start shouting, friends! We're here, and we're going to change the world, one knit and purl at a time!!

 

Mini Thermal Vest

Pattern: Mini Thermal Vest, by Claire Russell (free Ravelry download)

Yarn: dk weight through aran weight

Needles: sizes US 7 / 4.5mm, US 8 / 5.0mm, or US 9 / 5.5mm

Winter has reached the Midwest, and while in many areas of the US there's still warmth to be found, for those in need, the cold is setting in quickly ... and it can be extremely dangerous.

The Mini Thermal Vest can help keep little ones of a variety of ages warm, thanks to the free pattern and wide size range! You get the different vest sizes by changing gauge, which means you can make this vest to fit anywhere from infants to two year olds simply by switching needles and yarns!

While I mostly knit hats, this vest is going to be on my needles on repeat this winter, hopefully using up the bulk of the wool I have left on-hand to make vests for Syrian refugees. A vest is perfect for charity knitting, and especially for donation to refugees. A vest will provide warmth to the body, keeping vital organs warm, while not adding bulk to extremities (like arms), keeping mobility as high as possible. This means people will stay warm while still being able to do work, walk for weeks at a time (as many are), and carry their children and their belongings as they go.

For little ones, like this pattern is meant for, this type of warmth is even more important. Keeping warm while not adding bulk can mean the difference between life and death for these tiny refuge children! Wool is best in this case, although the vest can also be made in acrylics and donated to local homeless shelters for little ones in your area.

The Sliver Knit-Along On Instagram

Have you been knitting Sliver hats on repeat? Heather, Jen and I have ... man, is that pattern addictive! Above are some of the hats Jen whipped up earlier in the month, and below are some of the images from Instagram!

Remember, use the hashtag #makegiverepeat to tag any items you make for charity drives from this space, and use the tag #mgrweekendkal for the Sliver knit-along all month long! I've got a few more Christmas presents to get off the needles (I know, I've got less than 48 hours. I don't want to talk about it.) and then I'll be back to making Sliver in a variety of sizes for the rest of the month!

Sliver Knit-Along: Working The Dropped Stitches

One of my favorite parts of the Sliver hat is the dropped stitch section - it seems super difficult, but it's actually super easy to do! If you've never worked dropped stitches before, don't be afraid of them ... Jen, the pattern writer, made a quick tutorial for us to help get through those rows!

01. Place marker for dropped stitch (which will occur right after the marker.)

02 + 03. Bring yarn from the back to the front of your work, between the needles. (Yarn forward.)

04 + 05 + 06. Holding the yarn in the front, knit one stitch as you regularly would.

07. The yarn forward will create an extra stitch that will sit next to your marker.

08. Knit around in stockinette stitch for 10 (10, 12, 12, 14) rounds, knitting the yarn forward stitch as normal and slipping the marker each time. When you’ve finished these rounds, it’s time to drop the yarn forward stitch after your marker.

09. Remove that stitch from your needles.

10 + 11 + 12. Pull the stitch, dropping all the other stitches below. This will create the ‘run’ in the fabric. The dropped stitches will stop on the row where you made the yarn forward. Continue knitting the hat from there!

Thanks for the tutorial Jen .... I can't wait to work my dropped stitches!

Sliver Knit-Along: Choosing Your Yarn

All this week, we'll be knitting Sliver together - are you as excited as I am!?!? You'll want to have your needles ready to go, and don't forget about the coupon code Jen offered up to us, so you can grab the pattern for free!

Sliver calls for Wool And The Gang's Crazy Sexy Wool, which is a super soft and squishy super bulky wool that I want to rub on my face whenever I come near it. If you've got some in your stash, or your local yarn shop sells WATG, I say use this yarn. I always love using the yarn the pattern calls for as much as I can, because every yarn knits up a bit differently, and the pattern was written with this specific yarn in mind.

THAT SAID.

We all have different budgets, and different stashes. We all live in different types of cities and towns, with different access to yarn options. So if you aren't going to use Wool And The Gang for your Sliver hats (which is TOTALLY FINE), here's a few options for you to consider!

Always a fun choice for super bulky patterns, Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick N Quick is a staple in many knitter's stashes. You can find this yarn at almost any big box craft store (Michael's, Jo Ann, Hobby Lobby, etc), it is washable, and it wears incredibly well.

For those who don't want to use wool - allergies, you want the hat to be fully washer/dryer safe, etc - Red Heart Grande is another great suggestion. Also available in big box craft stores, you can be sure you can donate your hats to hospitals and homeless shelters when you use 100% acrylic like this!

Something to remember when choosing your super bulky yarn is that all super bulky yarns behave a bit differently. For whatever reason, there's a HUGE variety when it comes to this yarn weight - I've found yarns that call for size 11 or 13 needles that call themselves super bulky, sitting right next to super bulky yarns that call for size 17 needles!

You'll want to keep in mind you want a yarn that calls for size 13 or 15 needles, so your hat won't end up super tightly knit and stiff. You want your Sliver to have a little bit of drape to it, and the yarns listed above all have made some great looking Slivers!

So grab your yarn, and cast on! We'll be chatting one of the more fun features of this hat pattern on Wednesday - the dropped stitches!!!

Simple Stroller Blanket

Pattern: Simple Stroller Blanket, by Sara Gresbach (free Ravelry pattern)

Yarn: any bulky yarn works (see my notes for substituting yarn below)

Needles: US size 11 / 8.0 mm

One of the items Nest Maine needs in abundance this season is stroller blankets. Simple and small, stroller blankets are perfect for wrapping around little ones who are out in the frigid temps in their strollers (and car seats) during winter months.

For families without permanent housing, much of the daytime hours are spent outside moving from place to place, which means if there's little ones in the family, they're spending time outside everyday in freezing weather - often without blankets to keep them warm. A simple stroller blanket, smaller even than a crib blanket, can help keep these little ones snug and cozy, and provide comfort, security, and stability in a time of constant change.

Don't have any bulky yarn, but want to make stroller blankets? Just hold some worsted weight double!! That's right, if you grab two strands of worsted weight yarn and hold them together, you've got yourself bulky weight yarn! This is a great way to use up stash yarn and make some fun color combinations for these blankets!

December Featured Pattern: Sliver

Pattern: Sliver, by Jen Geigley

Yarn: super bulky yarn (used in the pattern: Wool And The Gang Crazy Sexy Wool)

Needles: US 15 / 10.0 mm

From the pattern notes:

Sliver is the basic hat everyone needs, and that’s why it’s been designed in five sizes – XS through XL. Knit in the round, Sliver is unisex and can be worn by kids, too. A yarn forward and dropped stitches create a ‘run’ in the hat. Sliver is named after one of my favorite Nirvana songs, and the first test sample of this hat was knit in olive green, inspired by Kurt Cobain’s memorable ragged green cardigan.

I always get panicky in December, feeling like I've got to make 50 hats to donate, but with no time to do it! As the cold sets in, I begin to worry that I haven't donated enough hats, that too many people will still be cold, and that there aren't enough hours in the day to help keep them all warm by knitting until my fingers get stiff.

Thank goodness for super bulky wool and hat patterns that I want to knit on repeat!! Jen's latest book Weekend is full of amazing patterns that can be knit super quick, and Sliver has quickly become my go-to charity hat pattern for this winter. Sized for kids through adults, worked up on big needles with super bulky yarn, and perfect for both men and women, this hat keeps people warm while also being a hat I can make in an evening while watching holiday movies!

UPDATED TO ADD!!

Jen has kindly offered a coupon code, so you can get Sliver for FREE through January 1!! Just enter the code MAKEGIVEREPEAT when checking out on Ravelry, and the pattern will be yours for free!