The Giving Tree

I’ve found a way to keep the Christmas spirit all year around — even though the best evidence of that comes in December.

As many of you know, I’m an avid knitter. So avid, in fact, it caused tendonitis a year ago. I’ve been knitting since I was 19, and there are countless pieces out there I’ve created. Some I’ve even designed myself.

Giving Tree sm
The Giving Tree

Over the years I’ve used this gift  (and I truly consider knitting to be a gift) from time to time to make items for charitable giving. My current endeavor is hats for those who come to my church’s food bank. Every year we have the Giving Tree, and people hang cold weather items such as hats, scarves, mittens on it during December.

Those items are available for a group of people in need, some homeless, some struggling to keep a roof over their heads. All struggling to get enough food for themselves and their families.

The year-round aspect of this is easy to figure out. I knit the hats throughout the year, and keep them in a basket until it’s time to give them away. Some of the yarn is leftover from other projects, some is purchased for this purpose and some is donated to me.

Giving Tree Hats
This year’s collection

I take pleasure in knowing a handful of people will have attractive, warm hats for the cold weather. Some say charitable giving is selfish, because you do it to make yourself feel better. I say, I don’t have to do this to feel good about life and myself. I do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Do you have a talent you share with others in need (whatever that need may be)? I know Judy shares her music and her growth from tragedy with others. Lois shared her kind heart and tough spirit with prisoners until health issues prevented her from doing so. And each month Kathy writes about how to keep the Christmas spirit alive year-round.

Most of you who read this have been given so much, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. For those who are struggling, I pray others reach out to you. I was lucky enough when, during my worst hours, kind people gave me a lift out of the abyss.

This is my thank you.



I don’t often post about my knitting projects here, but today seemed like a good opportunity to make an exception. After all, the prompt is “circle” and I have a project that was knit in the round, thus creating a circle.

This is my own design, one that was created for my local yarn shop, Mockingbird Moon. It’s a cowl with matching fingerless mitts using a truly fun — and high quality — yarn my LYS stocked up on this fall called “Dyed in the Wool” by SpinCycle. Loralee, who owns the shop, needed a pattern for the statewide yarn crawl coming up in October, and wanted to feature this yarn.

I played around with various designs using yarn from my stash (for those not familiar with yarn terminology, “stash” is leftover yarn from finished projects or yarn you’ve purchased believing the right project will come along someday — the former is what makes up my stash). Here’s what some of those samples looked like:

I took those samples in to Loralee, who decided on one and gave me some yarn from the store to knit up a sample cowl, both the Dyed in the Wool and a yarn named Alegria by Manos del Uruguary. Once I finished it, we realized there was plenty left over to make some mitts, so using the same basic design, I created a pattern for those and knit them up.

After displaying the cowl and mitts in the store, where it received a really good response, we learned that even though the original cowl is a full 24″ around, some people feared it would be too tight. It was easy enough to adjust the pattern to make a longer cowl, so the pattern now has two sizes.

CowlI really wanted the “right” pictures for this project. Loralee’s daughter Lydia seemed like a good choice for a model, unfortunately, she wasn’t available. So we thought one of the shop’s regulars, Heather, would be perfect. As it turns out, Heather’s niece, Kaylan, enjoys this sort of thing (and Heather doesn’t), and as you can see, she was the ideal model. Heather’s mom and Kaylan’s grandmother is my friend Yvonne, and I have to thank all three of them for their support with this project.

After writing out an initial draft of the pattern, I needed some test knitters, and three women graciously volunteered to knit a set and give me their feedback. Fortunately, the pattern didn’t need too much revision.

The cowl requires two yarns, and in addition to the Dyed in the Wool, one of the yarns used by test knitter Maureen was locally-spun and dyed, in a color named “ColPat.”  The color was given that name in honor of her son, Cole Patrick, who committed suicide several years ago. My LYS has taken on suicide prevention for fundraising, and proceeds from the sale of the ColPat yarn will go to that cause. It’s selling well.

The design looks like it uses stranded, sometimes called Fair Isle, knitting, but it doesn’t. Instead, there are slipped stitches, which create the two-color effect. The cable is a really fun dropped-stitch version, which can have a lace effect with certain yarns, or a more textured effect with others.

20504153_10154902012905668_1045306875_nThe pattern, which I named MoonDance, is available for sale on, a social media site for knitters, crocheters and weavers. If you dabble in any of those arts and haven’t checked out Ravelry yet, do so now!!

I’m really pleased with the final result, as is Loralee. I don’t do a lot of designing, but when I do, there’s a great deal of satisfaction.

If you’re a knitter looking for your next project, I invite you to take a look at this pattern! Another yarn that would work well with it is Lorna Lace’s Shepherd Sport, which comes in numerous variegated colorways. That’s the yarn I used in the sample on the left above. They also have solids in the same yarn, which would coordinate well.

One note about the Lorna’s Laces variegated yarn: the color repeats are shorter, so the effect would be very different from the Dyed in the Wool. You can see that difference in the sample.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with this pattern!!


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