Sunday, October 19, 2014

Domestic Road Trip Report

What comes in to the AFSC Basement ...

What goes out of the AFSC Basement ... here, Terrie and Tom on 9th Street, making sure our message is clear:

We crossed the Bay Bridge and headed east to Budd's staging area. Budd, the founder of Trust in Education, is on the left. Our cartons have the blue and blue/yellow (Go, Cal!) tape on the upper edges. This is for easy identification in transit and distribution. The blue/yellow combo is on the boxes of baby hats and socks for the maternity hospital.

Thankfully, Tom carried the boxes and drove the U-Haul truck for us. I don't know how anyone can safely drive a truck in a crowded city with bike riders, wandering people, and street construction around every corner. Tom was our man. And, if that isn't enough, you should know that when Tom was a kid, he taught himself to knit from an encyclopedia. Tom TRULY APPRECIATED all the cargo he was hauling -- he knows that our wonderful volunteer knitters and crocheters put in a priceless amount of labor, creativity, and caring into our wool gifts for the Afghans.

Driving back to U-Haul, we hit heavy traffic on the Bay Bridge, which turned out to be our reward ... enjoyed the finale of an orange sunset behind the silhouette of the city and even the GG Bridge on a rare clear evening.

Does anyone remember what chapter we're on?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

From Down in the AFSC Basement to
Over the Moon

Sue squeezes the last box shut with all her might and a huge smile ...
We never tired of seeing such adorable baby socks in a rainbow of colors for the new babies at the maternity hospital in Kabul ...
The cartons are all packed and inventoried. Took a stroll by the AFSC conference room on the way out and admired how our artful banner hangs on the wall after all these years ... some of you may remember seeing the banner at Stitches West or other events in the past ...
And, then the moon rises over San Francisco. The Afghans enjoyed this same moon about 11 or so hours ago, assuming their sky was clear. Hope you saw the moon wherever you were tonight.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just finished 4 more little wool hats to get in the mail tomorrow. Pink with purple stripes,  two tone purple, red and rust tweeds.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

September 8

That's the just-announced due date for school kids' socks, mittens, and hats. If you can make just one more . . . 

A4A hopes to continue collecting through the end of the year, but sending things by September 8 means they'll get to Afghan kids in time for this winter. 

Cast on!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Take a look at Diane's happy hats ... for Afghan babies and children.

Diane is one of our longtime, devoted "local volunteers" who helps behind the scenes to keep afghans for Afghans going. Diane use to live on the Peninsula, south of SF. Then moved to Gold Country. Diane helps respond to incoming emails. She is golden to me and a4A.

I loved this photo of her hats on the striped background and asked permission to post here --
Now I am prompted to flip through our scrapbook of memories here ...
Diane packing with us back in 2010.
Diane's version of our Fulled Afghan Carpet Bag pattern.
Diane has a special talent for mixing up colors and using up small oddballs to great effect.

Thank you, Diane, for all that you do! We miss you here, but glad and grateful that you make time to help behind the scenes from your undisclosed location in the Sierra Foothills. Have you cleared out the town of all wool oddballs, yet? Oddballs can stay to keep life interesting, but wool oddballs must be put to good use with knitting needles.

Have a good weekend, everyone,

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why I love taking taxis ...

Last Saturday, I called for a ride to SFO. The taxi arrived a little late. How aggravating! The delay was because SF was invaded by the Outside Lands concert in Golden Gate Park. Always something, especially in the summer. Still, airport rides usually get pushed to the top.

I am talking with the driver and trying to relax and not worry about the time. We're bemoaning the city's growth as we cross town. He tells me he grew up in the East Bay. This is his first month on the job. I want to guess his homeland, always my favorite taxi game. "John" Rahimi says he's from Mazar-i-Sharif. I would not have guessed that! He's been called John ever since school when the name was easier for classmates. I told him that I ate in the Helmand Restaurant last week and had my favorite Aushak dish. We're on the subject of food. I bring up Bolani. Guess what? The East West company was founded by his sister. Remember when I posted about Bolani here? Small world! I told him about a4A and handed him my card. I told him about my 1999 visit to the NW Frontier Province when Afghan refugees were pouring over the Khyber Pass. I floated the idea that getting a trademark on bolani is like trademarking tamales. He laughed. We could have gabbed together for hours if I didn't have a plane to catch.

Nice man. I will call Zalmi whenever I need a ride to the airport. That was the right cab for me, wasn't it.

I love taking taxis because you meet drivers originating from all over the world (and/or drivers with colorful stories about SF when you could make a living doing the job). Pink furry mustache, not for me.

PS: If you are ever in SF and need a taxi to or from the airport, email me for John's phone number.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It rained (wool) at the AFSC Basement in San Francisco.

Monday's super-strong gang included (left to right) Kirstin (Happy Birthday!), Charlene, Bette and Giovanna. Carol R had to catch the street car to the ferry, so escaped before we took the photo. Bette and Giovanna visited us as emissaries from the Fiberfrolics knitting group in Benecia, above San Francisco. Our longtime supporter and friend, Carol M, involved the Fiberfrolics many years ago, and they have knit hundreds of sweaters and hats and other garments for a4A. Giovanna owns the yarn shop, of the same name, that orchestrates charity knitting and includes us because they love to use wool. Glad the ladies could drive down to deliver their pile of colorful hats and spend the afternoon with us. We needed their muscle. A huge pile of boxes and envelopes were waiting for us. We worked non-stop to open as many as possible .
On Tuesday, Candace, Elizabeth, Marina, Rachel, Susan, and Anne finished opening almost all the mail and reviewing the baby socks. That more than filled our afternoon, and we even started to fill the cartons that will be sent to Afghanistan. I have no idea how most of the afternoon's stars managed to escape the camera, but they did. (You could probably search this blog to find photos of the long-timers.)

Susan visited us all the way from Bezerkeley. Let me tell you, meeting her and hearing about her work was very meaningful and not bezerk in the least. Susan coaches Afghan-American immigrants in English as part of the social service programs of Jewish Family and Children Services East Bay. While the women visit and support each other, Susan has them knitting for Afghanistan. Susan brought over their beautifully well-made hats to add to our cartons heading to their homeland. Susan's on the right (Anne is on the left):
Anne was a special visitor from Wellesley, MA. In town for work, she managed to schedule us in before flying home -- and we had a super visit. Anne G is connected to a group that reached out to the people of Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11. Anne's neighbor lost her husband on the United Airlines plane.

Can you believe that Anne brought us a box of chocolates not available, everywhere, thanks to globalization? Check out this exotic box from New England nestled in with the fabulous wool baby socks:

Golden foil for precious wool baby hats --
The Baby Shower ended on July 31. Knitters and crocheters across the US and Canada, plus some Royal Mail, a package from Switzerland, and Japan, too, plus maybe a couple other far-away lands responded enthusiastically to the invitation to create wool socks and hats for babies at the Malalai Maternity Hospital in Kabul.We don't know yet how many heads and footsies are going to be warmer and happier because of our generous volunteers, but the number will have 4 digits.

Here's the first of the cartons to be packed up ... 500 pairs ... 1,000 Afghan feet ... 5,000 Afghan toes!
Thank you, Knitters and Crocheters, for Afghanistan! XOXOXOXO

Thank you, Stephen McNeil, Director of Peace Building at AFSC, and the front office staff at AFSC.

Group hug, everyone, and enjoy the weekend.

Wish we could make it rain rain in California, too, but our powers are limited.

Friday, August 1, 2014

There is still time to knit for the bigger kids

Hats, mittens, and socks for kids ages 7 through 16 will continue to be collected until at least the end of the summer. (I was confused.) This is great!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

deadline for the older kids?

Now that we are done making baby things, I put all my little bits back in my stash and discovered that I had knitted enough to empty one shopping bag of sock yarn as well as quite a bit of worsted and sport.  So, does that justify buying more yarn? :-)  By the way, what is the deadline for the hats, mitts, and socks for the older kids?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

was only going to do one...

Initially I had planned to knit one hat for this campaign, then went back to my LYS for socks to match, then had to dye some yarn (orange) and finally went thru my stash. I ended up not dyeing enough of the orange for socks to match, and ran out of time so the green hat is also lonely. All the yarns are superwash merino, so warm and soft. I tied the matching sets together, socks first then with the hat so if folks in the basement feel they would be better off not attached, they can undo the hat and the socks will stay together.
Fun campaign! Now to see if there is any wool/mohair blend in my stash for mittens for older kids.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There they go

Four more pairs! I did indeed finish the pair I'd hoped to (far left) but I also was delighted to find 3 pairs I'd knit for the last campaign and carefully stowed in "a safe place." Oops. The post office says they will be delivered on Thursday. I can't wait to hear the final tally.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Finally finished nine little baby hats in Wool of the Andes.  Not the softest so I soaked them in softener and they came out nice and soft. Got them off in the mail this morning and they say they should get there by Thursday.

Oh I can't believe I figured out how to send this! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hats to Be Mailed Monday

Baby hats are the perfect use for leftover sock yarn, no?

In addition to the four hats shown here, a woman who is in my knitting group at church is also making a few things. I'm handing off my hats to her tomorrow, and she'll mail everything on Monday. I hope it all makes it to A4A by the deadline!

Friday, July 25, 2014

for the big kids

It's been so much fun knitting for the babies that I started to worry about the big kids. So last weekend I grabbed some Lopi (actually reclaimed from a failed sweater for an earlier A4A campaign) and made these. I followed the stitch and row counts for my basic mitten pattern, available on the A4A web site (Blogger does not want to link from my phone so I will add the link later when I get home) and they came out just the right size for many teenagers. 

In the mail today -- there is another pair I hope to finish, but I want to make sure these arrive before the deadline. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Raining Socks!

Just finished up pair # 10 in my second push for the summer's Baby Shower.  The remnants in my sock yarn basket have decreased noticeably, which is always very satisfying.  Any even more satisfying is knowing that 10 more little babies will go home with warm socks for the winter.
All these socks are knitted with fingering weight wool.  You can see that, for some of them, I ran out of self-striping yarn and had to complete them with solids. Next stop for these socks is the Post Office.

The next few days will be very busy for me, but I hope to get another couple of pairs finished before the end of the month.  It's great to sit inside on a hot day, listening to an audiobook and knitting tiny socks.

Keep on knitting!

Some Small Hats

I am glad for the need of hats as usually those are the first categories filled when I donate to charities, and it helps me to have mindless items to work on during bible study class and so on.  These are not great photos but show my progress so far.  I am using 100% wool worsted, DK, and sport yarns by Patons or Brown Sheep, and sock yarns of 75-100% wool.  It's a great way to use up oddballs and remnants!

The center hat in the photo at left is out of sock yarn alone, and while I think it's cute and it did come out newborn size, that was pretty fiddly.  It also needs to be blocked.  The four around it are crocheted and slightly different sizes depending upon whether they are DK or worsted weight yarns.  They work up very quickly, especially now that I have the pattern memorized.

All of these, and about half of the ones in the picture below, need to have ends run in, I'll get that done and mail them all this weekend.

The hats below are a basic watchcap pattern, made with two or three strands of sock yarn, or one of sock yarn and one of a sport or DK solid colour yarn, or a single strand of worsted.  I use 56 or 64 stitches and they go pretty quickly.  Sizes range from about 11" to about 15".

The watchcaps are mostly folded in quarters to fit them into the photograph more easily.  I made them all with a deep ribbing that will hold the hats in place and can be folded down as the child grows and needs a bigger hat.  Most have the ribbing down and are about 7.5" long from top to edge.

I love the one second from the right in the top row.  It is a 100% merino wool handdyed yarn that was sent to someone in the KnitTalk list annual gift swap, and she made a fit and said it was horrible and she didn't want it.  I stepped in and said I would take it and send something to her in exchange.  I think she cut the hank when she opened the package and didn't want to admit it, but most of the hank is fine and it was a treat to knit.  I used it multi-strand because I didn't want to do another hat in a single strand of sock yarn!

You can see some of the yarn used in the crocheted and knitted hats also.  I expect I will have a few more done before I get the package into the mail.  Hopefully they will be useful to the mothers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

George Washington Carver and a4A

Earlier today I happened to read a quote by George Washington Carver: "It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank, that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success."  As I sit in my air-conditioned house this hot and humid afternoon, knitting socks for the a4A Baby Shower, it's good to be reminded how much our service to the people of Afghanistan really does matter. 

Hoping to have at least 10 more pairs of baby socks in the mail by the end of the week.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Feeling sad for the world tonight.  Knitting helps, knowing I may be helping to keep some babies alive.  I hope that all of you are finding comfort in your needles and yarn.  Sending love.....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Take a guess at how many wool baby socks so far ...

First, please look below at Chris' sock monkeys wearing you-know-what. Then, back up here. Thank you.

On Tuesday, when we opened packages and packed at our AFSC Collection Center, we counted the wool baby socks received so far:
540 pairs.

Now we know there will be at least 540 warmer Afghan babies this winter and hundreds of appreciative mothers. Great job, everyone! We ran out of time before we could count the baby hats, so we'll just have to live with not knowing for now.

Here's what the 540 pairs of baby socks look like:

Now, meet some of the elves who sorted and inspected the wool baby socks and hats, as well as the wonderful wool socks, mittens, and hats for 7 years to adult ... Nancy joined us from Michigan while here for a vacation and wedding. How generous of her to share her free time. She knows her wool, of course.

Even after many years of volunteering to open your packages, Terrie never tires of seeing more knits and thinking about the caring that goes into making every garment. Then, Terrie rushes home to get to her own needles. This happens to all of us in the Basement.

Sue and Carol also sorted and packed with us on Tuesday. Thanks, always and forever, to our devoted local gang.

Baby Socks- with Sock Monkeys

Hello to all.  I'm new to the blog, but not to a4A.  Since I'm a rabid sock knitter, I always have lots of leftover balls of sock yarn.  What better way to put them to use than to knit baby socks?  Yesterday I put 16 pairs of tiny socks in the mail.
Here they are all planted in my yard before going to the Post Office.
You can find the pattern for these socks at
Since the Baby Shower campaign deadline's been extended, I hope to get a few more pairs finished in the next week or so. 
Happy knitting!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hurray! 10 more days!

The deadline for the current campaign has just been extended; it is now July 31. So if there's anything you put down because you didn't think it would be possible to finish it -- here's your chance! (I have a couple things in that category.)

The intention is not to drive us all crazy -- it's just that Ann doesn't extend the deadline unless/until she knows it's possible. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Hats and Mittens, with Cat

The cat insisted on taking part in the picture taking! The last step before packing is removing cat hair. This batch of hats are done with crochet ribbing.  The one in front is the third attempt and I'm happy with that one.  The other two required getting creative to close the hole at the top.  The inner diameters are 12" (blue mixture), 14.5" (green and brown mixture) and 15" (solid green).  All are very stretchy.  If anyone is interested, I can describe how I did these.

The hats below are done with half-double crochet stitches, spirally out from the center.  The one in front is done "in back loops only", which adds stretch in both directions, surprisingly.  I was using up yarn left over from making mittens and supplementing with coordinating solids (Patons Classic worsted weight).  Inner diameters are 12", 11", and 12".  Hmm, a little larger would be good.

I stopped making mittens and switched to hats when Ann told us we needed more hats. The smaller set of mittens are outside the guidelines of this campaign. They're a good size for 3-5 year olds. Would these be useful? The larger pair is child-sized.

Newborn baby hats

Hi All,

I have been having a great time knitting these little baby hats.  The free pattern can be found at:

These hats knit up very quickly using worsted weight yarn on size 8 double-ponted needles (I used size 7 since I knit loosely).  So far I have made 7 of them and hope to make a several more before the deadline.

It's so great knitting for a4A again.  A number of years ago I made several sweaters and hats for a4A, but my very demanding job got in the way of my time and energy.  I am now retired and hope to resume more knitting for our Afghan friends in between projects for my two new grandchildren.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

ribbed baby hat

As promised, here is a hat from the pattern I recommended yesterday, in pictures:

On the left, the finished hat. On the right, with the brim folded up. Unstretched, the circumference is 7.5 inches (19 cm); it stretches to 15 inches (38 cm). I cast this on yesterday using some no-longer-labeled 6-ply sock yarn I had lying around; the hat took well under 50 grams. I wonder what else I can find. . .

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

just one more thing. . .

I knit a lot for the NICU (for non-US readers, that is the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at a local hospital, making hats for full-term babies who need special care. The hat the nurses love is this one. I have made at least 15 of these, some in solid colors and others in self-striping yarns. All look great.

You can see many pictures on the Ravelry page, here. Oddly, I don't seem to have pictures of any of mine. I just cast one on; I'll be sure to document it when it's done.

Because it is knit entirely in k2 p2 rib, it stretches or pulls up to fit almost everybody. This is a great feature when you're knitting for an unknown child. The drawback is that it takes a little longer than the quick stockinette caps -- but it is so perfect for this Baby Shower campaign.

I have always used DK weight yarn with this pattern; I think it would also work for worsted that is no thicker than Cascade 220, because the 2 x 2 rib pulls up quite a bit.  (For a thicker worsted, knock the stitch count back and adjust the number of rows.) The first set of instructions is to knit flat and seam up; scroll down for the instructions to knit it in the round (always my preference).

Edited to add: make only the largest size, for full-term babies.

updates, and some requests

I am delighted to announce that I have just two balls of yarn left to mail away (so if you want one, speak up -- send your address to yarnystuffATgmailDOTcom). This was given to me a while ago by local yarn shop Stash specifically for A4A, and I am so pleased that it's finally found the right campaign.

I have been talking to Ann recently (via email) and there are two things I'd like to pass along. First -- if you have things ready to send now, it is so much easier for the volunteers to pack when things come in gradually instead of all at once at the last minute. I was able to mail some things yesterday using regular first class (small packages, because these socks don't weigh much), and it is considerably less expensive than Priority mail. The post office estimates it will take 3 days rather than 2 to get all the way across the country to California, and when you mail early that is not an issue.

Also, a lot of the baby hats that are coming in are kind of big. The guidelines do say up to 1 year of age -- but remember, the hats are being given to women who have just given birth. So a "larger" newborn size would be ideal -- that can be used now, and for some time to come. Hats that measure 18 inches around are just too big, even though in theory they do meet the "up to 1 year" criterion. Besides -- littler hats go faster! Circumferences of about 13 to 16 inches are terrific; a little larger -- and I do mean a little -- would also be OK.

It is going to be about a million degrees here in southeastern Pennsylvania today, and the humidity is already over 70%. I think I will lurk indoors in air conditioning and cast on a baby hat -- nothing to sit on my lap and make me even warmer.

Hope everyone is having a great summer with lots of knitting and no destructive weather events.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Hi.  I have a question about size for the baby campaign.  I've started making hats.  Most are new-born size.  I noticed, however, that the guidelines say we can make hats up to 1 yr. of age.  So I made a hat that is supposed to be 6 mo to 1 yr.  The circumference is 18".  Seems large to me, but I have trouble estimating baby heads.  I followed the gauge directions carefully.  Do you think this is too big to send?

Monday, June 30, 2014

a new deadline, and some yarn

Reposting because nothing happened the first time:

We now have until July 21 -- that is 3 weeks from today. So there is time to make one or two more things! In honor of the new extended due date, I am offering these 5 balls of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine -- 50% wool, 20% alpaca, and 30% nylon, 433 yds (400 m) in 100 g. That means each ball has enough for an adult-sized pair of socks, or mittens (you could hold double and still make an adult pair of mittens), or a whole lot of baby socks and hats. I realize the colors are not exciting, but this yarn is lovely to the touch.

I will send one ball to each of 5 lucky winners. Send me your name and MAILING ADDRESS (it is surprising how many people forget that) and I will put one in the mail -- tomorrow if you write soon, the day after if you write late in the day.

Send that information to this address: yarnystuffATgmailDOTcom (Please note that there is a letter y in the middle of that address.)

I am making this offer to readers of this blog first; if I don't hear from 5 of you by tomorrow evening, I will open it to members of the Fans of afghans for Afghans group over at Ravelry.

Mailing tomorrow

Although my vacation didn't result in quite as many knitted things for the kids as I had hoped, there were a few. These will go in the mail tomorrow:

Four baby things and one pair of mittens for a bigger person. I will try to do a couple more things for the older kids before the new extended deadline.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hi all,

I'm putting a few pairs of socks in the mail today.  Is there any more word yet on a final deadline?  I'm trying to figure out when I need to stop knitting baby things, considering 2 days to get to SF in the mail, 2 or 3 days to dry after washing...    also, how is the count coming (if you already know.  Don't go count them just for me!)?

Monday, June 23, 2014


I have made a few of these: and love the simplicity of the pattern. I can make one in a couple nights of Netflix/Hulu watching. I am currently working on this one: with a few simplifications. I am using some Plymouth Select Merino that i dyed with food colours. I will make the dreads with a single crochet chain so it is not so bulky. I made one for my grandson and he still asks to wear it... even tho it it 90+ degrees (34C) outside.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

AFSC Basement Update: Good Wool Gifts on a Bad Hair Day

For some mysterious reason, we lost our heads yesterday in the AFSC Basement while opening packages from across the country (and a few from Canada) -- Jill is cradling 24 pairs of exquisite socks knit by Anne D. --

Teresa (who is also our volunteer blog admin) is showing off Kathy's super mittens with the ribbing at the wrist and then longer arms for extra warmth (called gauntlets?) --

Louise in Orange, CA, sent us a rainbow of luxuriously ribbed baby hats --

Christy in the Pacific NW dropped off a box of multi-flavored Frango chocolates when she was in town. The chocolates are for the hard-working Basement volunteers, and the multi-flavored wool socks are for cold feet in Afghanistan. We promise not to mix up who gets what --

Laura, Antje, and Annette were also volunteering in the AFSC Basement yesterday. We did leave some Frangos for the next packing session.

Thank you to all who have sent in packages of wool socks, hats, and mittens for 7 years to adult and socks and hats for the Baby Shower. Everything we have received is first-class and will be deeply valued by the recipients in the winter.

As of yesterday, for the Baby Shower, we have about 100 pairs of wool baby socks and 40 wool baby hats. Based on our past experiences, we estimated that we could offer thousands of socks and items to the Malalai Women's Maternity hospital in Kabul. They deliver about 85 babies every day.

Please let your fiber friends -- online and off -- know about the need for wool socks and hats for babies so we can deliver!

Click here for campaign details on our website.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I have* finally* finished my most difficult sock pattern to date--for myself--so I am eager to whip out some quick baby things.  What do we need more of, socks or hats?  Or do we know yet?

Monday, June 16, 2014

another sock pattern

I was skimming entries on the Ravelry group Fans of afghans for Afghans and stumbled across a nice-looking baby sock. This one uses a light worsted, and the ribbing helps it stay on -- it is the Ribbed Far-Away Baby Socks pattern, which made its debut on this very blog in 2008.

I will post a picture as soon as I have made a pair -- or you can wander over to Ravelry and take a look. A total of 383 projects have been posted there.

Friday, June 13, 2014

June baby shower: a quick hat

Happy Friday the 13th!

We are almost halfway through June, which means we're almost halfway through the available knitting days for the baby shower. Here is a very speedy hat, in case you thought you didn't have time. (Hate double-pointed needles? I tell you how to knit it flat at the end.)

I tend to knit very plain things for afghans for Afghans -- not because I don't think the Afghan kids aren't worthy of my "best," but because by doing that I can finish more things, so more kids get something warm. This hat is as plain as it gets.

I am starting one now, and will add the picture later today -- it goes that fast.

edited to add this picture (the hat is actually a beautiful clear red, but I haven't been able to get the camera to agree)
Worsted weight rollbrim baby hat

Materials: 1 ball worsted weight yarn such as Cascade 220, Galway, or Paton's Classic Merino (will make more than one hat)
double-pointed needles of size needed to get 5 stitches per inch (20 sts/10 cm)

edited to add: the yarn I picked out of the odds & ends box was a little thinner and knit up at 6 sts/inch, giving me a hat that's just about 11 inches around, perfect for a newborn. I wrote the pattern to make a hat a little larger, so it will fit for longer. Remember -- these babies are not going home to piles and piles of new clothes, so the longer something lasts, the better.

Cast on 64 stitches. Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist.

Work in stockinette (knit every round) until hat measures 5 inches (12.5 cm) from cast-on edge.
Work crown decreases:

Rnd 1: *k6, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (56 sts remain)
Rnd 2: knit
Rnd 3:*k5, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (48 sts remain)
Rnd 4: knit
Rnd 5: *k4, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (40 sts remain)
Rnd 6: knit
Rnd 7: *k3, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (32 sts remain)
Rnd 8: *k2, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (24 sts remain)
Rnd 9: *k1, k2 tog,* repeat from * to * around (16 sts remain)
Rnd 10: k2 tog all the way around (8 sts remain)

Break yarn and thread through the remaining 8 stitches, drawing thread tight. Pull yarn to the inside of the hat through the center of those stitches. Weave in ends.

To work flat: Follow instructions as written, EXCEPT work stockinette as knit one row, purl one row. When you get to the crown decreases, work rows 2, 4, and 6 as purl rows. Work decrease rows 8 and 10 on the purl side, as purl stitches. Break the yarn, leaving a tail long enough to sew up the seam. Draw the yarn through the remaining 8 stitches, and then sew a flat seam to finish the hat. Use mattress stitch or a whip stitch -- something that will leave as little bulk as possible, to make it more comfortable.

Want to control how far the rollbrim rolls? Here are two ways to do that:

(1) work the first 6 rows on needles one size smaller, or
(2) Work 6 rows, then insert a garter ridge as follows:
     (a) if working in the round, purl 1 round
     (b) if working flat, knit the 7th row instead of purling it. Then return to stockinette.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My favorite sock recipe

Thank you, Elizabeth D., for pushing me ever so gently into the world of knitting socks a couple of years ago.  All it took, really, besides your encouragement (that was key!) was the right yarn, the right size needles and a simple how-to book. Making simple socks has provided me enough pleasure so far that I haven't yet ventured on to more sophisticated patterns. For now, I am sticking with stockinette or simple ribbed socks.

Knitters looking for a basic sock pattern are certain to like Susan B. Anderson's blog post, "How I Make My Socks."  It is very clear and reliable. If like me, you choose to use 2 circulars or the Magic Loop method, your stitches will be distributed differently on the needles, but that is easy to figure out. I use Susan's stitch numbers when I make socks for myself or for an older teen/adult size for afghans For Afghans.

For the current baby sock campaign, I looked around the web, using Ravelry pattern search engine to find free baby sock patterns, just so I would have a sense of how many stitches to start with. Once I looked at a few of them, I figured out my own "recipe". With sock weight yarn, I cast on 36 sts on a size #1 circular needle. As I mentioned before, I stop to tretch my new stitches every 4 or 5 sts. It really makes a difference. In response to a recent comment here -- I have tried casting on a larger size needle, which didn't work. What matters most here is the length of yarn in between two stitches. (The larger needle method works better for binding off in my experience, but only if I go several sizes bigger)

Back to the baby socks: using either sock yarn or fingering-weight wool, I cast on 36 sts, work in either 1/1 or 2/2 ribbing for 6 rounds, then switch to stockinette.  When the leg is about 3" long, it is time to start on the heel flap. Working on 18 sts, I follow Susan Anderson's method exactly. You may decide that a baby is not going to need the reinforced heel that this method produces. In this case, just go on in stockinette for 18 rows, knitted back and forth, slipping the first stitch of every row. Then return to Susan Anderson's steps to shape the heel and complete the foot. I make sure to have at least 2.5 inches from the heel to the beginning of the toe decreases. For this drive, I have made every pair a bit different in length since they will need to accommodate a variety of babies.

I make the toe decreases every other round until I am down to a total of 20 sts, then I proceed with more decreases on the next 2 rounds, which leaves me 6 sts to "kitchener". A fellow knitter recommends a more square toe with fewer decreases since baby feet do not taper off as ours do. Knitter's choice.

With sportweight or dk wool, I cast on 32 stitches on a size #2 needle and go from there. In either case the knitting is fast and pretty easy. Give it a try!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Alice's socks

Alice Kimble just sent 12 pairs of baby socks and 8 pairs of kids' socks to afghans for Afghans by priority mail this morning.  She didn't take a picture of the kids' socks but here is a picture of some of the baby socks:

Her friend also gave her 2 wool baby hats to include.

Next week is one of those weeks when I'll be spending a certain amount of time in the car. I hope to increase my baby sock census significantly!

June Baby Shower: Hats

As with the socks, I am posting links only to patterns I have actually made. If there is a baby hat you love and make all the time, please do post the link! (Crocheters, you too -- I am a relatively inexperienced crocheter so don't have a whole lot of experience there, although I do plan to try a crocheted hat pattern this weekend.)

You can, of course, use any pattern you like. This is just meant to be a short list of a few simple hats for those who do not have a pattern.

This mock cable baby hat (worsted weight) is fun, and the cables act like ribbing to pull it in, so it fits for several months.

This hat (worsted) can be made with or without the earflaps.

This very basic hat (worsted) is quick and simple.

Make only the larger (13-inch) size of this sock yarn hat; preemie hats are not needed.

My recipe for a simple rollbrim hat made with sock yarn follows. The 96-stitch version comes out to about 13 inches around; the 104-stitch version is closer to 14.

1 50-g ball of sock yarn (200-230 yds)
double-pointed needles of size you need to get gauge of 7.5 sts/inch (30 sts/10 cm)

Cast on 96 (104) stitches. Join in the round, being careful not to twist.
Work in stockinette (knit every round) until work measures 5.5 inches from cast-on edge.
Begin crown decreases:

set-up round: *k 12 (13), place marker,* repeat from * to * until back to beginning of round. Use a marker of different style or color to indicate beginning of round.

Round 1: *knit to 2 stitches before marker, k2 tog,* repeat from * to *
Round 2: knit every stitch

Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until 48 (56) stitches remain.
Now work round 1 every round until 8 stitches remain.

Break yarn, leaving a tail of 8-10 inches. Thread through 8 remaining stitches, pull through to inside, and weave in ends.

Remember, use yarn that is at least 75% wool or other animal fiber. Some of these patterns recommend acrylic, but that's not acceptable for the A4A baby shower.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Baby Shower

I am really please with how well these sorta match. As anyone who has worked with self-patterning yarn knows, It Don't Come Easy.

And here's the whole selection. Three pairs of socks and a little hat.

There's a second hat On The Needles to match the dark green pair on the left.

As soon as they are dry, I'll pop them in the mail.