Hooking for Good: Hat Week

Hat Week - HiJennyBrown.com

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It’s time for a confession…I’ve been cheating on my crochet – with knitting!

Knit Hat - HiJennyBrown.com

I know, right?  I really don’t understand why knitters and crocheters are the craft version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, but somehow I feel like I have to apologize for picking up needles.  Personally, I blame dumb TV shows and commercials where folks are making granny square with knitting needles (held like weapons, of course) and ribbed sweaters with crochet hooks (although that can be done, but not the way they’re doing it). It gets us all riled up and we take it out on our poor fellow crafters.  So yes, like everyone else in the US, I blame all my problems on the media.

Crochet is still my first love, but when it comes to hats, especially for little boys, I just gotta knit.  There’s really nothing cuter, and poor little Babes was hatless.  I made his brother a green and blue knit hat a while back (he picked the colors, folks, not me)

Alexander and the green and blue hatSo I made Babes one with the leftover yarn (yep, I still had the yarn).  He’s very into “matching” right now, so the timing is perfect.

Babes' hat - HiJennyBrown.com

BTW – Babes has been secretly working on his “Ravelry face”: the chin-down-look-away.  Some day you’ll see him on Sad Etsy Boyfriends, and you’ll know he started here first.

Babes does the look-away - HiJennyBrown.com

In case you’re looking at that ribbing and wondering: “Does Jenny Brown think she’s good at knitting?” No, no I don’t.  I haven’t put in enough hours to consider myself anything more than a beginner, but I’m OK with that. That’s why I started the ribbing of hat number two, which I will be donating, in super dark grey – see any mistakes?  Nope, me neither.

knit hat - HiJennyBrown.comI’d like to admit 1. I had to pay him a quarter to model this hat and 2. This hat fits me.  Actually, so does Babes’ hat.  These kids just have big, cute heads.

I improvised the design with some leftover Cotton-Ease.  The hat is off to Emily’s Hats for Hope, which was started in my new home, NJ, by a 17 year old. Since 2011, they’ve donated over 15,000 hats to people who are homeless or are living in low-income communities.  They also mentor groups in the US and beyond, so check out their list for a group near you.

I made a crochet hat to donate as well, but I asked Erin which buttons to use…

Crochet Hat Close-up - HiJennyBrown.com

And then to try it on…

Crochet Hat - HiJennyBrown.com

And now I can mark her off my Christmas list.  I mean, really, it’s just too cute on her.  I promise to make another one to donate soon.  The pattern is the Women’s Peaked Cap by Yarnspirations, and it works up super fast once you get the front-posts down.

Want to donate hats to charity? Here are a few tips:

  • Use a yarn that feels super soft – imagine how cozy and comforted your recipient will feel the first time they slip on your hat.  Also, double-check the charity’s website before using animal fibers. (Some organizations do not accept certain fibers that may be itchy or require special laundering.  Also, label any items with animal fibers so they will not be given to someone – ahem – with an allergy.)
  • Be careful when choosing a pattern – most organizations have specific guidelines about the types of hats they will accept.  Some organizations prefer really dense, warm hats.  Others, especially those for cancer patients who may be wearing hats indoors, prefer light-weight, patterned hats.  The good news is that most sites have their own suggested patterns, so it’s a great chance to try something new.
  • Think about teens, men, and older women – everyone loves to crochet a teeny, fuchsia baby hat: definitely make one of those.  Then, make a plainer, larger hat that someone older and less flashy will love to wear.  And don’t forget about those big-headed kids!

A few organizations that accept knit and crochet hats (or google your own):

  • Emily’s Hats for Hope – accepting hats for people who are homeless or are living in low-income communities
  • Halos of Hope – donating hats to people fighting cancer  (I’ve donated to them before)
  • Your Local Women’s Shelter – many shelters accept donated hats for the women and children they serve.  Use womenshelters.org to locate an organization near you, then email them or check their website to find out if they accept donations.

Now get your hooks and needles out and live every week like it’s hat week.

Jenny Brown


Cute Hat Alert

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Get ready for it, friendos:

Photo Courtesy Crochet Creations by Marsha

Seriously, how cute?


This hat was made by Crochet Creations by Marsha who personalizes the hat pattern with digits from my Numbers & Punctuation Pattern.  What a cute idea for a kiddo’s birthday party (and maybe for your favorite 40 year old).

Just $20 for this handmade, personalized cuteness.  And be sure to tell her I sent you!

Jenny Brown


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Y’all know I love my super cute helpers, and Mr. Babes (as he is unfortunately nicknamed) never disappoints.

I headed over to Erin’s house so she could photograph my crochet Valentines.  It was so crazy cold that I wore a hat and my enormous cowl.  The hat was a gift from Erin’s mom (so cute!) and the scarf I made for myself out of scrap Homespun.  It was my first knitting loom project, and I maybe overestimated the number of stitches needed.  It is so very toasty, though.

Well, as Erin and I were deep in conversation about the Valentines (or our husbands), Mr. Babes saunters in modeling my hat and scarf.  Oh how I wish I looked this good in them!  What a funny, cute kiddo he is!

The Rainbow Connection

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Don’t you just love hearing: “Oh, hey, you do crafts! Can you make me a…”

I usually answer “no.” Not because I’m mean (although I am), but because in most cases, the thing would be cheaper or better to buy, would take an ridiculous amount of time to make, or is generally ugly.  Oh, plus no one ever wants to pay for it.

But when my cousin asked me to crochet her a hat, she said the two magic words: “rainbow” and “pay.”

Rainbow projects are awesome: First, there are plenty of rainbow songs that will run through your head while you work. And second, it requires mucho yarn shopping.

I’ve been wanting to try Knit Picks Brava worsted yarn for some time, and I thought this was a great chance to take advantage of the wide array of colors.  When the box came in the mail, I was in the middle of another project and thought I would wait a few days to open it.


Um, yeah.  That lasted almost an hour.


The colors are super cute (although the orange wasn’t as vibrant as I expected – it looks brighter in this over-flashed pic) and the yarn was pretty soft (especially for an acrylic).  Woo hoo!  As usual, I looked at a million patterns and then just went off on my own…I wanted to make sure the stripes were even and that the end hat wasn’t too long.


Which involved ripping back at the laundromat.


And at Starbucks (don’t judge).

And a few times more at home, in the car, and again at Starbucks (OK, maybe you should judge).


The final hat is still a little long after all.  So long, in fact, that Craft Husband had to take pictures of me in our yard from the second floor to get the whole hat in.   I’m sure my neighbors think we are insane, and they are right.  Please enjoy this pic of my big…hat.


Jenny Brown

Zombie Walk

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I am committed to telling the truth here, so I have to share…I don’t like making things for craft shows.

Sacrilege, right?  We’re all supposed to love making the perfect thing to place at our perfectly decorated table.  The type of thing we can stare at for 4-8 hours, then lovingly pack into the boxes we brought them in, to be indefinitely stored in a box marked “craft show” at the back of an overcrowded closet. Wait, is that just me?


Any way, my dear friend Annie asked if I wanted to share a table and get out the word about my baby Ohio Valley Handmade and her baby the Warsaw Craft Beer Stitch ‘n’ Bitch.  We had a few things to sell, too:  Annie and our friend Paige made hats, and I provided a few little stuffed cutenesses.


The little ghost is from my brain, and the pumpkins are from a Lion Brand pattern.  The ridiculous magazines are from the “kindness” of “friends” who know I do “crafts.”  All the doilies are from my mom – boy, does my mom love to make doilies.

The band-aids were Craft Husband’s idea for getting the word out about OVH – you know how folks are constantly getting bit in zombie movies and shows and act like everything is OK – right up until the point where they start gnawing someone’s arm off?  The band-aid stickers had little sayings on them like “Just a flesh wound” and “Guess who’s not making it to the sequel.”  I designed them in Illustrator and printed them on sticker full-sheets (bonus, they are already scored in the back, so they peel like real band-aids).  I loved them so.


And since it was a zombie-themed event, I made a bandolier to store my crochet hooks in a post-apocalyptic way.  T’was good on paper, but in case of a real apocalypse, I would argue against keeping your crochet weapons at the ready – they kept falling out.


The theme of our booth was decidedly eclectic grandma, which I dig, and Annie and her son made it a fun day.


The event was a bit rainy and attendance was not what they expected.  Although I had no sales, I did get to do a little bartering – I traded one of the pumpkins for this caricature from Lizzy Hannah (thanks, Lizzy!).  And before you feel obliged to tell me: yes, I know that hat is ridiculous.  But I knit it myself and I love it.  Sorry, friendos.

So, I think this will be my last craft show for some time.  Or, at least until someone asks me again!

Jenny Brown

The one where I don’t talk about my feelings

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The one where I don't talk about my feelings

I know there are other folks like me – the ones who cry after they see Dirty Dancing for the 300th time (Johnny!) but can’t express one sincere thought to the people they love.

Sometimes I take my non-feeling feelings and twist them and turn them, and when I am really lucky, they become something. This week, I took this mountain of unbearable sadness and guilt and fear and turned it into a hat. There is something about the repetition, the purpose, the finished project, that can pull me out of my hole and get me back into the world.

I’m donating it to Halos of Hope, which distributes handmade hats to chemo patients in need. A little happy point in an otherwise sad time.

Jenny Brown

Magic Hats

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Beer hats - 12 in box

So, when someone asks me to make beer hats, I have to make them. Nevermind that I don’t understand the practicality. Nevermind that I have to knit them (and my knitting is sub-par on its best days).  And nevermind that she wanted a dozen.  I had to do it.

I knit 6 out of Simply Soft yarn (has anyone noticed that nothing made from this yarn is simple, and it is also not soft?) with a different design for each. And they were ugly, the decreases were off, and I hated them.

Time for round 2.

Beer Hats 1

I used some leftover Loops & Threads Yarn Gang yarn that I bought on clearance before it was discontinued. The colors are so bright, the selection is so vast, the cotton/acrylic mix is so soft…of course it would be discontinued.  I thought it was great for this project – I could make every hat a different color, which makes for great pictures. (I can say that because I didn’t take the pictures)

Beer Hats from top

This time I decided to do a much simpler pattern (no cables and ribbing only on the band) and top it all off with a nice big pom-pom.  I think they’re pretty great.  Impractical, but great.

Beer Hats - 12 no box

Photos by Erin Markan.  Thanks, Erin!