Optimistically Speaking

Every year my Optimist Club does a hat knitting challenge.  It started many years ago when I had a hair-brained scheme  to get the (mostly) older men in my Optimist Club to do a project for the local hospitals.  I thought I could teach them to knit and they could knit a few hats here and there for the local Birth Centers.  Little did I know that they would discover knitting looms and that this annual challenge would go on for YEARS.  I don’t know how many years it’s been… probably around 10-11 years if I had to guess.

We set ourselves up into 2 teams.  Sometimes we pick up knitters from across the country who help us knit hats.  Everyone in the local club uses the looms with bulky yarn.  They think it’s hysterical that they can knit a hat on a loom faster than I can knit on 2 needles.  Everyone considers me a “ringer” to have on their team, even though I do not knit anywhere near the highest number of hats.  Oh, and the winning team?  They generally get chocolate.  And bragging rights.  It’s a pretty good deal.

This year the contest is running from February 6 – March 20, so there is plenty of time to get in on the knitting action if you’d like to play along.  If you’re a local knitter, stop on by the Incline Station in Duluth on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month.  If you’re non-local and want to play, just leave me a message and we can figure out how to get the hats where they need to go.  Or knit for your local hospital, that’s cool too!

Hats can be any size to fit micro-preemie through newborn.  Hats that are slightly larger than newborn tend to be given to the big sisters and big brothers of the new arrivals.  The local hospitals definitely appreciate these hats!

So far I’ve finished 3 hats during the contest.  that’s the short stack of hats in the photo above.  I kind of like having a stack of knitted hats sitting on my end table just waiting to have more hats added to it.  I have one or two more that I should be able to finish this evening…. but then the hat knitting will slow down considerably.  See, I’ve got Olympic-sized knitting to do.  I’m planning on knitting a Clayoquot Cardigan from Tin Can Knits during the Olympic Games.  If you haven’t joined a team for the Ravellenics yet, you totally should.  You’re only competing against yourself and it’s kind of fun to see just how far you can get.  So come on, jump into the deep end of the pool snowdrift with us!

One of These Things is Not Like The Others

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong. 

Hurricane Hat
Baby Aviator Hat
Flat Top Hat
Knit 2 Purl 2 Ribbing
These hats are part of a package headed to Alaska, for our friends there.  I decided all four kids probably needed warm bulky hats to deal with the harsh winters.  The three pink hats are all made out of the same colorway, Kate from Three Irish Girls on Springvale Bulky.  I loved the way that the flat top hat was pooling, so instead of doing decreases, I continued until the hat was tall enough and did a 3 needle bind off.  I love that all three of the pink hats look so distinctively different.  The black hat, for the lone boy in the family, is made from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. 
I think I have a plan for the sweater for Addie, although I have not picked a winner for the 100th post comment.  Mostly I haven’t picked a winner because I know that I don’t have time to mail out a package right now.  I promise I will do so soon and will post a photo of the winner’s prize. 

Two Hats, Too Cute

Have I mentioned that there has been a lot of hat knitting going on around the Big Blue House?  Because there has been A LOT of hat knitting.  In addition to knitting Christmas presents for the girls, I’ve been making hats during the month of November. 

My Hat Model

I made 4 baby hats for the Optimist Club.  We are having a contest to see who can knit the most hats.  Clearly, I have lost this one by a land slide.  However, it’s hard to knit hats for newborns when you have 2 very cute girls at home that ask if that hat you are making is for them.  They batt their big blue eyes and smile a sweet little smile and say, “Momma, is that myyyy hat?”  Somehow I have to tell them that it is for a newborn baby that needs it more than they do.  “But the next hat will be for you, dear.”  And so, I knit more hats for the girls who do not need any more hats.  It’s a good thing that hats are the comfort food of knitting for me.  I don’t know what it is about hats, especially considering that for more of my life than not I refused to wear a hat unless it was absolutely necessary.  Hats weren’t cool when I was growing up.  It’s taken me until I became a knitter to realize how much better a warm head is than a cold one!!  Plus, now I can make exactly the kind of hat I would want to wear. 

Optimist Hats

 The Optimist Hats that I knit (all being donated to the local nursery), were all knit from leftover yarn.  It feels good to use up some of the odds and ends that have been sitting around.  Most of the skeins didn’t have enough yardage left to knit an entire hat from.  The total number of hats our club knit this month is  110.  Most of those hats were knit by one man using a little circular knitting loom.  The individual member who knits the most hats will win lunches at our meetings for a month.  The team (we have 2 teams) that knits the most hats will receive homemade cookies.  Guess I’d better get baking soon! 

The Girl’s Hats

Shy Child

 One thing that you never want to do is take a picture of Lily in the morning.  The smiling child that you saw in the first picture suddenly turns into the most shy child on earth.  She loves her hat, but doesn’t want to show it off before school.  For those of you with a discerning eye, or at least an obsession with Three Irish Girls, will recognize the yarn as Galenas Merino in the Maureen colorway.  It’s some of the yarn that I got when I attended the TIG workshop in October.  The yarn is held double to make a bulky weight yarn.  I used the Very Berry Bonnet pattern.  You can see the line where I seamed the hat, but Lily doesn’t really mind. 

Actress in Training

As soon as I finished Lily’s hat, Addie asked me where her hat was.  I immediately cast on a Foliage Hat.  This pattern has been in my queue forever, but I never have seemed to get around to knitting it until now.  I love the hat!  It’s knit with the same Galenas Merino that I used in Lily’s hat along with a strand of Dye For Me.  The Dye For Me adds a bit of sparkle that is all Addie.  She’s my drama queen and she loves anything sparkly.  This hat was so cute I almost kept it for myself!  I definitely see a Foliage being made in the near future for me. 

I could wax poetic about the Galenas Merino, but then again I have a thing for yarn done out of a super soft single.  Just see my obsession for Malabrigo as evidence.  The colors (as in all the TIG yarns) are gorgeous, Sharon has an eye for beautiful color combinations.  The colors in the Maureen are not wimpy, they’re well balanced and perfectly suited for little girls.  In fact, Lily says the reason she likes her hat is because it’s so colorful.

Instant Gratification

After working on a deadline, I always like to throw in a couple of projects that are instant gratification.  The Meathead hats from Knitalong can be done in a couple of hours.  STC Crafts is offering it as a free download right now.  Go, go get it and knit it.  This is the child size, but it fits me.  I made the pink one for Addie so she’d have a warm hat to wear to school.  She put it on yesterday morning and said, "Cool, a elf hat!"  I think that’s high praise from a 5 year old!  The hat was so cute on her that I made a second for Lily last night. 


Pattern:  Meathead Hat from Knitalong

Yarn:  4 Strands of Worsted weight 100% wool (I used a combination of Ella Rae, Cascade 220 and Lamb’s Pride)

Needles:  Size 15

Modifications:  None.  It’s knit flat and seamed together.  I may do another one in the round, just because I like it better, but I don’t have size 15 circular needles (Nor do I really want them) so I’d probably end up making it in a baby size. 


Another instant gratification project. 


Pattern:  Cool Little Llama Silk Mittens from 101 Luxury One Skein Wonders

Yarn:  Debbie Bliss Cashmere – 2 skeins

Needles:  Size 8 US

Comments:  I received the yarn in a swap about a year ago and just didn’t know what to do with it.  It’s two 45 yard skeins, so it’s pretty short on yardage.  I finished the first mitt with probably a yard of yarn left over.  These are super soft and cushy though!