Why do you knit?

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Do you know what I just realized?  That I never posted final photos of my Reversible Smocked Hat that I wrote about here back in November.  I was scrolling through some photos of knitting projects I had on my computer, and found these.  How could I have forgotten?

Anyway, here are some notes on the final product:

This yarn is beautiful: soft and with a stunning combination of purple shades. However, it sheds a TON when being knitting up. I looked down at my lap after knitting for a while, and I was covered with little alpaca hairs. It also may not be the best yarn for showing off the beautiful pattern of this hat, but that just means I’ll have to make another one with a different yarn!

I really love this beautiful pattern, but after everything is done, here are a few things I would do differently if I made another one:

  1. Make the larger size – The pattern comes with instructions for two sizes, but since the hat looked pretty slouchy on the designer in the photos, I went with the smaller one. Maybe it’s because of the yarn I used (which doesn’t have much stretch), but combined with the major slouchiness hanging in the back, it feels like it wants to fall backward off my head a little bit. Normally anyone would say that this means it’s too big, but in this case, it seems that it’s because pulling the hat down any farther on my head makes it way too snug so it naturally settles a little farther back on my head. Weird explanation, but the main point is next time=bigger size. (I also have a big head, so…)
  2. Do NOT use a multi-ply yarn – I love this yarn. It’s super soft and made with wool and alpaca, but the hair-like plies can make it very annoying at times. I liked the yarn too much to get too upset over it, but I’ve finally admitted to myself that this probably wasn’t the best yarn for this hat. The halo effect of the alpaca doesn’t show off the smocked pattern as well, either.
  3. Skip one – maybe two – of the smock repeats – The hat is meant to be slouchy, but I think it’s almost too slouchy. The pom-pom works well to weigh the back down so it’s not sticking up while being worn, but I’d prefer it to be closer to a slight slouch.

I love the look of this pattern, so I’ll probably make another one, but this combo of super slouch, smocks, and yarn may not have been the best. Siiiigh.

It’s no secret that I may or may not have a slight obsession with Disney, even if I don’t write about it much here.  Although they were never a huge thing in my house when I was little, nobody can deny that most Disney films are fantastic.  In what I now like to call the Dark Times, I once admitted to a friend in college that, although I enjoyed it, I wasn’t crazy about Disney like she and another friend were.  And I wasn’t.  Disney was always just there, and I enjoyed a movie every now and then, but I didn’t have one of those “I love this movie so much” movies or an “I love this princess so much” princess.  I had a slight affinity toward Snow White, but for no reason other than when my family got our first DVD player, that was one of the movies I got that Christmas.

But then I went to Disney World in May.  And, boy, let me tell you: I could either consider that the best or worst decision of my life thus far.

  1. It was absolutely incredible.  It was my fifth time going, but the first when I was old enough and mature enough to fully appreciate how wonderful (and expensive) it really is.
  2. I got to go with just my mom, and it was great to be able to spend time with just her after a stressful and grievous few months.
  3. Even though it rained for a couple days and, at the time, it was really annoying to constantly be wet, I can’t help but look back and just sigh at how perfect everything seems in hindsight.


  1. I can’t stop thinking about Disney World.
  2. I’m constantly planning my next trip in my head. Where will we stay?  How many days will we spend in each park? What will the decorative Minnie ears look like this time around?
  3. Each time I mention going again to my mother, she tends to, shall I say, disagree with me on our ability to go again in 2014.  (But toward the end of 2014.  Let’s not get too hasty.)

Well, let’s just say that I’ve been saving my pennies, even though it’s really $100 bills I need.  But in the meantime, I’ve started working with color palettes and photos to choose yarn to work on some Disney-inspired knits.

One of the first comes from the photo of Cinderella Castle you see above.  It’s an icon I’ve seen in person and in photos hundreds of times, but I don’t think I’ve ever really looked at its architecture.  I was stunned to notice that some of the turrets are actually pale pink in color, and that there are so many differently-colored stones in the masonry.  Looking at this photo and others taken by this photographer and more I’ve found online – it was as if a whole new world surrounded Disney architecture opened up.

I’m not going to say much else about the Castle project right now, mostly because I don’t have any photos of anything yet to show, but let me just say that I am very pleased with how it’s turning out.  I’ve loved taking color schemes and playing around with them, so I’m really excited about doing this.

More to come soon!

Photo of Cinderella Castle by joe.diebold on Flickr.

(And super bonus points to anyone who caught my unintentional Disney pun in this post.)

This hat was one of the first things I listed when I opened my original Etsy shop almost two years ago, and it migrated over with me when I opened my new one in March.  I love it, but it was just sitting there in my shop in virtual reality and in a plastic bin under my bed in real reality; I thought so many times about how I should just take it down and keep it for myself.  Why keep renewing the listing when nobody was going to buy it?

Someone bought it last week.

I was happy to get a sale, but there was also a small bit of me that didn’t want to part with it.  Isn’t that ridiculous?  I’ve sold items before it, and I hope to sell many after it, but it was the first thing I listed for sale, and selling it was a weird milestone that I didn’t really want to pass.

But Monday afternoon, I got a message from the buyer, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Hi Maggie. The hat is wonderful! Thanks for shipping it so quickly. My son’s babysitter calls him “Curious Jonah” so he is going to give her this hat for Christmas…but she will look far more stylish than the Man in the Yellow hat from the Curious George books. 🙂

Isn’t that the cutest thing?  I couldn’t get over it.  So, yeah, I’m okay with selling it.  To have loved and lost is better than never having loved at all, right?

P.S. I renewed the listing and made it a made-to-order hat.  Go check it out!

I’d been working on this shawl for a couple months now.  Well, I finished it in a few days, but then procrastinated like crazy when it came to weaving in the ends and crocheting the edging.  But I finally finished it last week and made a listing for it in my Etsy shop.  Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out.

It’s so super soft, and the colors are so much richer than they’re showing up in any of these photos.  I may have to do another photo shoot in better lighting, because I think that seeing their true colors would give so much more POW to how beautiful it really is.

I’m currently working on a shawl for a friend’s mother for Christmas. She wrote to me about a week ago after she had seen one of my shawls and asked if it was possible for me to make one. After a bit of a back and forth, we ended up with these colors, and I have to say that I am in love with them. They’re so rustic and look beautiful together.

I’m making pretty quick work of this one, mostly because I have so many other things I need to do, but I wanted to make sure that she’d be able to have it at least a week before Christmas. And since Christmas is  officially fifteen days away, I kicked it into high gear and have been knitting non-stop for the past few days. I hope to finish this one by tonight or tomorrow, block it, and get it ready for delivery!

Introducing the #makermonday hat!  There’s a pattern down below, so bear with me for a bit of a long-winded update beforehand.  🙂

(Oh, and FYI, this post ended up being a lot longer than I had planned, so if you’re just here for the pattern, scroll down a ways and you’ll find it.)

It’s no huge shocker for me to say that I love making things.  I find such joy in creating something with my own two hands, and I don’t think there’s anything quite like it in the world.  You just created something that didn’t exist yesterday?  Whaaaa?  Equating it to having a child would probably be the most ridiculous comparison in the world, but I’m gonna do it anyway – everything I make is a little part of me, and so I tend to think of everything I make as my baby.  (God, I can’t even imagine how this is making me sound!)  I personally think that everyone should have at least one hobby that requires them to use their hands – I’m sure it would make a lot of people more appreciative of the little things in this technology-laden, non-DIY life!  (Don’t get me wrong, though –  technology is super awesome, too, especially if it allows me to share my love of making with all of you!)


I’m a member of an online maker community called Kollabora.  It’s different than other knitting sites I’ve experienced because it’s way more community-based and sharing-friendly.  You can follow other makers, comment on and “heart” their projects, as well as make collections of the things you like.  There’s not a million members like some other crafting communities, so you really get the feeling that the people who see your projects appreciate them.  It’s also not solely focused on knitting and crocheting, but rather ANY kind of making: sewing, quilting, embroidery, painting, drawing, paper crafting, upcycling, jewelry-making, pottery, basket weaving – you name it, it’s there.  It’s awesome, and it’s so inspiring to see the things everyone makes because then I want to do them ALL.

and / here / are / some / links / to / a / collection / of / my / favorite / projects / so / far

I’d heard about the idea of Maker Monday before and have seen other crafters post their creations on social media sites with the tag #makermonday, but it’s never been something that I’ve really participated in, mostly because I never even knew that it was a thing to participate in.  Maker Monday?  How about Maker Every Day of the Week?  I don’t really need an excuse to make something, but it is still nice to know that there is a day within the maker/crafter community that is dedicated solely to the art of creation.

When I saw on the Kollabora blog that they were hosting their own Maker Monday, I knew I would participate.  So when I got an email from them reminding everyone, I whipped up this hat, the #makermonday hat – because why not use a hashtag?

So, without further ado, the pattern for the #makermonday hat!  It’s a beginner level hat, but sometimes those are the best.  They take no time at all and they’re super customizable.  I’m writing out the instructions based on how I knit mine up, and 54 stitches was a good size for my somewhat larger head.  Altering the number of stitches will change the pattern, so if you want a smaller/bigger hat, go down/up a needle size after considering your gauge.

I’m not an experienced pattern writer, so if you notice any errors, or something isn’t working out for you, let me know, and I’d be happy to fix the error and/or help you out.

Also, in italics and indented are some notes about the process.  More experienced knitters will probably know them, but they’re tips that I wish someone else would have given me when I started knitting 8 years ago.

Size 11 circular needles, 16 or 24 inches
Size 11 double-pointed needles (optional)
Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, one skein each in Fisherman (A) and Nantucket (B), or any bulky weight yarn
1 large split-ring stitch marker, or any other stitch marker type that can be removed mid-row
6 stitch markers
Tapestry needle

8 stitches x 12 rows = 3 inches

Using color A, cast on 54 stitches.
Join in the round, being careful not to twist stitches, and place the split-ring stitch marker to indicate beginning of round
Begin a K1P1 ribbing, continuing for 10 rows, or until desired brim length.

Row 1: Knit one row around using A
Row 2: Knit one row around using B

When knitting anything in the round with thinner stripes, it can sometimes get frustrating to see that the stripes don’t line up at the color changes, and instead create an annoying zig-zaggy type look in the back.  Well, here’s a super easy fix for that:

When you reach the end of a round, slip the first stitch of the round purl-wise, remove your split-ring stitch marker and place it at the new beginning of the round, then continue knitting with the next color.  BUT BEWARE – don’t pull the yarn too tightly when you knit the first stitch of the second color, or the last stitch of the previous round in that color will be tight and smaller than the rest, creating an un-clean look.  The color changes inside your hat will create a diagonal line.  If you don’t see that, you’ve done something wrong.

And, as with mostly all color changes, pull your new yarn under and around your working yarn, or else there will be a hole.  Learned this the hard way, unfortunately.  Hashtag womp.

Repeat these two rows 10 more times (22 rows total)
Row 23: with A, *k6 K2tog pm* two times, k5 k2tog pm, *k6 k2tog pm* three times, k5 k2tog – 47 stitches
Row 24: with B, knit all stitches
Row 25: with A, *knit to 2 stitches before marker, k2tog* repeat 7 times around.
Repeat these two rows 5 more times, knitting together the two stitches before each marker on the odd numbered rows (12 rows total) – 12 stitches

Continue slipping the first stitch and moving the split-ring marker with each new row.  This will shift your increases over with each row, but as long as you leave the decrease stitch markers where they are, you shouldn’t have a problem.

You can move to double-pointed needles when you need to, or you can continue with the magic loop method.

Row 35: *k1 k2tog k2tog* twice, k2tog

Cut your yarn, leaving about 8 inches, and weave it through the remaining stitches twice.  Pull tight, and weave in ends.


I used a pom-pom maker, but if you don’t have one, here are a couple of tutorials to show you how to make a pom-pom without one:

using your hands / using cardboard

Both are simple.  Using your hands takes less time and less materials (and is better if you don’t have any cardboard) but use what’s best for you! But forreals, if you make a lot of hats and a lot of pom-poms (and pom-poms are awesome, in my opinion), you should invest in a pom-pom maker.  You can get one inexpensively, and they’re super helpful and way quicker.

When you’re done making the pom-pom, don’t cut short the yarn you used to tighten around the pom.  This is the yarn you will use to attach if to the hat, since attaching new yarn to a pom-pom is hell.  To attach it, use your tapestry needle and insert it in the very top of the hat.  Knot it through one of the top stitches, weave in the end, and you’re done!

Ta-daaaa!  #makermonday hat complete!  If you make one, I’d love to see it – and then you should make a Kollabora account and post it there.  🙂

And here’s the link to the pattern on Ravelry.

© Maggie McGuire, 2013
Please feel free to make this hat to give as a gift or to sell.
I believe that if you’ve made it, you deserve to do whatever you’d like with the finished product! 

DON’T BUY, DIY image courtesy of Kollabora