Friday, November 8, 2013

My First Knitting Project

This post is dedicated to my Mom.

Debi Loring-Verburg 09/10/1954--04/20/2010

My first real knitting project was a hat made out of dog hair yarn.  I know, I know, it sounds strange--but if you think about it, it really makes sense!  My Mother used to always find me some neat yarns when I was just learning to knit, and an alpaca ranch near my hometown had some interesting yarn that the owner had spun--which was made with alpaca and dog hair.  I wish I knew what kind of dog hair she used, because the yarn is so soft!   I still have a little bit leftover today, and I'm saving it forever--to remember my Mom.

A couple of months after my mom bought me this yarn, I was supposed to graduate college.  I was taking 21 (yes, 21) credits to finish up my double major in art and communication.  About a week before final exams, I received a phone call from my husband (then boyfriend), and he said he was coming to pick me up. This was quite unusual, as I basically lived at the college at that point--as you could probably imagine, with my trying to squeeze everything in at the last minute for graduation!

It turned out that my mother had suddenly gotten sick the night before and was taken to the hospital. They did a CT scan and found cancer everywhere.  The doctors told her they could make her comfortable, but she was dying.  She had small cell lung cancer, stage IV.  She had just quit smoking about 8 months prior.  We had her transported to a larger hospital to see if there was anything they could do, but ultimately 9 days later, we had to take my mom off of life support and say goodbye.

As you could imagine, I was destroyed.  PTSD became a real thing for me, not just something experienced by veterans.  I didn't finish school, and I spent many months on the couch crying and watching Grey's Anatomy reruns on Lifetime.  In this crippling depressive state, part of what helped me out of it (besides a lot of therapy and medication) was knitting.  It was something I could do that didn't involve a lot of human interaction, as I was in a very fragile state, yet I could give knitted items to people if I wanted to, or just pass the time.  I found knitting to be one of the most therapeutic things I've ever done!  Having the solitude and alone time to just sit and concentrate on one thing, hear the rhythmic clicking of the needles, and just sort of meditate--that's what I loved (and still love) about knitting.

I did eventually finish my college degree a couple of years later, and I am doing just fine.  I am happily married and thankful for my family, but I still miss my Mom a whole lot--who doesn't?

I had just started knitting a few months before my Mom died, and I had made that hat out of the yarn she got me while she was still alive.  It was far from perfect:  It was knit flat, the gauge was uneven, the side seam was very visible, and it fit too loosely.  But I still love it, and wear it like it's some of my best work.

I love you, Momma.

This post is my entry in the Interweave Story Behind Your First Knitting Project Contest.  
If I am chosen for a winner, here are my prize picks:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ashley's (Free) Easy Hat Pattern

Christmas is fast approaching, and if you're anything like me, your fingers must be killing you from all the last-minute knitting!  I like to give hats.  They're versatile, unisex, customize-able, and in Michigan, everyone needs one!  Here's a pattern I've written to help you finish making hats for all your recipients.  I have included instructions for 2 versions:  one with a slightly rolled brim, and one with ribbing.  I have also included instructions for an optional stripe.  It's a good starter hat for beginners, and it's easy for more experienced knitters to customize to one's needs.  Enjoy (it's free)!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Update

Well hello there, strangers!  I apologize for the lack of posting lately.  I haven't been knitting as much, and I haven't had much about which to post.  Truthfully, I've been going through a severe case of TMJ disorder.  Basically, my jaw muscles decided to stiffen up one day and make it so I cannot align my teeth when I close my mouth, chew food,  or talk for any length of time. I'm not able to work right now, because my job is to talk on the phone in a cal center all day.  Because of the circumstances, My life has been pretty boring.  I have been crocheting granny squares for an afghan, but besides knitting-to-order any sales in my Etsy store, I can't do too much until I undergo treatment. I've been seeing the best of the best specialists, but the drawback of this is that it takes a month to get anything done.  Insurance approval, appointments, and such all take a month each to accomplish. Until then, it's a lot of "hurry up and wait," so to speak.

Anyway, I just wanted to let my readers know that I am still going to continue to blog, but this medical issue is something that is getting in the way for the time being.  If I kept blogging though this, each entry would probably just say, "my head hurts, gonna go eat some soup," and I'm pretty sure you don't want to read that Debbie Downer bullshit over and over, and I'm already sick of writing it here right now!  

On the positive side, I am enjoying time home with my husband and my dogs.  Chunk is my little partner in crime, and he sits and watches TV with me. We've watched every season of Breaking Bad and Mad Men.  All my closets are completely organized.  I also planted a garden and have sunflowers that are taller than myself.  Once I go back to work and become a productive member of society once more, I will let you know and continue to update the blog. Until then, thanks for your understanding!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Slouchy Striped Beret

I have a new pattern for sale, it's a slouchy striped hat.  This beret is only slightly slouchy, so it can also be worn as a standard beanie if desired.  The increases are almost invisible, and the brim is snug enough to ensure that it won't fall off your head.    I hope you enjoy it!  PDF file available for purchase and download for $3.00 here:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free Pattern: Rat Hammock

I know this pattern isn't for everyone, but I recently had the privilege of meeting my neighbor, Jillian's rat, Lily.  She is sooo cute!  I used to think that rats were disgusting little creatures, until my best friend, Cherish, lived with us.  Her rat, Nicodemus, was trained to do little tricks, and he was a neat little guy.  Through Nicodemus (RIP, little buddy!), I learned that rats are actually very clean animals.  They are extremely intelligent, and they're pretty fun.  So, when I got to meet Lily, I was thrilled!  So were the dogs:

I wanted to knit or crochet something for Lily, so I made her a hammock!

She isn't so sure about it yet, but I think she'll learn to like it.  The pattern PDF can be downloaded for free here:

I hope your little buddies enjoy it!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Free Pattern: Chunk's Toy Ball

Chunk sat and watched me knit.  He sat and stared longingly at my needles, hoping he was going to get a new toy to play with!  Sometimes when I am knitting, Chunk will bring me all of the toys I've knitted him and start a pile at my feet, as if to say, "I know what you're doing there, you made these things!"  So, when he was so patient, only to realize that the little Mr. Monkey was not for him, I had to make it up to him.  God, that dog's spoiled!  Thus, this pattern was born.  Chunk loves his ball, and he even throws it up in the air by himself.  A free PDF is available to download here:

download now

"Mrmph mrmph mmmrmph."

Here he is, tossing it up in the air. <3

Mr. Monkey and Charity

My supervisor at work is pregnant and due in May.  It's a girl, and my office is having a baby shower for her on Wednesday!  While I am going to miss it due to my TMJ disorder, I still wanted to knit something for her!  She has been my "test subject" for many baby items and original written patterns, and this time was no exception.

I am told that the baby's room will be decorated in pink and brown, and monkey-themed.  I have never knit amigurumi before (I have crocheted it), so I looked to Ravelry for something suitable.  I was hesitant to write a pattern, since I knew I would want to use short rows for shaping the face, and I'm not very experienced in that area yet.  I finally settled on a charming little pattern written by Sarah Gasson, who donates proceeds from her pattern sales to various charities, including her local Hospice.  Sarah's prices are extremely reasonable: I only paid $1.67 for this pattern!

 For those of you who don't know me, my mother worked for Hospice for 30+ years as a social worker, and she very suddenly died 2 years ago after a nine day battle with stage 4 small-cell lung cancer.  She dedicated her life to helping those at the end of their life, and Hospice helped us through dealing with the end of her life as well. I thought it would be wonderful to purchase a pattern from someone who donates to that same cause.  If you would like to purchase patterns from Sarah, you may do so via her website, or through her Ravelry page.

Here is the finished product:

The monkey is actually worked flat, then sewn up the back.  The same goes for the arms, ears, legs and tail. I actually preferred this method, as I always get ladders using DPNs.  I think the color changes would have been extremely difficult were this pattern written for DPNs.

In order to get better definition of the face, I placed a few stitches to cinch the outer side of each eye, as well as from between the eyes to under the chin.  This ensured that the shape will stay the same through light play.  While I added those to the original pattern, the pattern does call for a similar method to be used for  the neck shaping.

Sarah offers her patterns for sale as individual projects, or as collections.  This is a great idea!  You can purchase a Christmas collection, a Farmyard collection, and more.  Mr. Monkey came from her Safari collection, but I purchased just the monkey pattern alone.    

Lastly, I want to make clear that I am not being paid to feature this knitting pattern on my blog, I simply really enjoyed this pattern and wanted to share the good cause with my readers!  I hope you enjoy it too!