Category: inspiration

Knitting Help & Inspirations

I first learned to knit by taking a class at a local crafts store. Equipped with the skills of cast-on, knit, purl, and bind-off, I went home and knit a grey scarf in stockinette with a skein of Vanna’s Choice.

And then I was itching for more. What else could I do besides stockinette or garter scarves? A quick Google search, and I fell down a rabbit hole of seemingly unending knitting resources. I’ve listed my favorites below, in hopes that they will inspire you!

  • Ravelry – The Mecca of knitting sites. If you knit or crochet, join Ravelry right now. You can organize your yarn, needle, and hook stashes, look up thousands of patterns, manage your own library of resources, join knitting groups and post on message boards… It’s like a combination of Facebook and an online library for yarn lovers. You can even add me as a friend, if you’d like! :)
  • Knitting Help – This is the first site I suggest to new knitters, or knitters ready to learn something new. This site has a great Glossary (to understand those pesky abbreviations), Videos (to help you see what you’re supposed to be doing!), and Patterns.
  • r/Knitting – Reddit is “a social news website” (thanks Wikipedia). Reddit as a whole isn’t for everyone, but if you knit, the knitting subreddit is a great community to be a part of. We knitting redditers post our finished objects (FOs), ask questions and advice of other knitters, complain about shitty yarn our well-meaning friends buy us, and support others’ yarn habits.
  • Lion Brand, Red Heart, Caron, Bernat, Patons, Berroco – Most yarn companies publish their own patterns for free on their websites. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use their yarn to knit up their patterns! Just use a yarn that’s a similar weight, and it’ll turn out fine!
  • Knitty – An online knitting magazine. Read interesting articles, find out about new designers and yarns, and peruse their free patterns index!
  • Knitting Fool – My most recent discovery – an online knitting stitch encyclopedia organized by Name of Stitch, by Stitch Category, or (my favorite) by Stitch Count. I’ll search for stitches by stitch count when I want to make, for example, this All Day Beret, but with this Eyelet Diamonds lace instead of their suggested stitch. The only downside is it’s not the most user-friendly website… Any web designers want a little project?
  • “How Many” Knitting Tool – A tool for figuring out common knitting math problems. Very useful if you’re trying to adjust the size of a knitting pattern, or are trying to get the right gauge with different sized needles or yarn than the pattern suggests.

What are your favorite knitting websites for help & inspiration?

Conceptual Knitting, Design, Data, & Infographics

Have you ever done any Conceptual Knitting? The idea is, instead of using a pattern to determine what you knit, you use something observable around you to direct your knitting. Here are some great examples:

  • Sky Scarf- knitting rows the same color of the sky every day
  • My Year in Temperatures- knit rows in a color that represents each day’s high temperature
  • Mood Scarf- record your daily mood and knit a color that represents your mood
  • Game Knitting- create a “drinking game” of sorts, but instead of taking a shot when the “trigger” happens, change your yarn colors, or switch from knit to purl, or create and eyelet. This sounds especially fun for knitting groups. Gather your group, create a list of “triggers”, play the movie, and see what interesting things you knit!

By the way – if you wanted to do the Temperatures or Sky project for last year, you can use the Weather Channel’s Weather History page to look up temperatures and the weather for each day. Or you could do a smaller project by using the week or month averages. Pretty neat!

I’m trying to develop my own conceptual knitting project to create something that I would display as art. Some ideas I’ve had-

  • Beer Journal- keep a journal of the types of beers I drink (porter, stout, ale, belgian, etc.) and designate a coordinating color for each type.
  • Dream Journal- not entirely sure about this, but somehow translate my dream journal entries to knit representations.
  • Notable events- keep a record of all the important events this year. Designate different colors for national holidays, birthdays, important family occurrences, life changes (new job, relationship, house), and vacations or trips.
  • Book journal- I’ve finally been getting back into reading on a regular basis. Maybe after I finish a book, I knit a number of stitches equivalent to the pages in the book, and in the same color as the book cover. Or maybe designate colors based on book type (self-help, mystery, scifi, knitting book, etc.)
  • Meditation- Knit a number of rows equal to the number of minutes I spent meditating each day. Perhaps switch colors each day.
  • Growth charts of kids – okay this one isn’t for me at all, but I could see mothers loving this idea. Measure your baby each week and knit as many stitches as inches he/she is. Maybe switch colors each day? Perhaps somehow coordinate weight in there, too.

A great inspiration of mine is Information is Beautiful. I love the way David McCandless takes everyday (ahem, boring) data, and transforms it into something that’s both beautiful and meaningful. Browsing through his work gives me some ideas…

I’m still coming up with ideas. What conceptual knitting ideas do you have?

Self Exploration and Learning

“Take some time to get to know yourself. Figure out who you really are.”

A number of people have given me this advice in the past few weeks, which is curious to me, as I’m pretty sure I know exactly who I am. Further, I’m usually the one giving that advice to others!

On a recent trip, in the midst of listening to a TED talk, I had an epiphany. I haven’t been myself, not because I don’t know who I am, but because for nearly this entire year I’ve not been doing and surrounding myself with some of those things I’m incredibly passionate about- teaching, learning, being inspired by others, and having my mind opened to new perspectives and ideas. I haven’t sat in a classroom in nearly two years! I don’t even want to think about when the last time was that I actually read a book – and I love to read!

So these people with their advice… they’re not crazy. They’re absolutely right.

As a result of this epiphany, I’m starting Daily Brain Food. Something each day that will add to that grey matter in my skull. It may be a podcast, a video, a book, or an article. I probably won’t share them every day, but I’ll make sure to share the notable ones.

Today’s Brain Food: a TED Playlist entitled, “A Better You.” 9 talks that are inspirational, well-researched, and heartfelt – all aiming to help make you a better you! Enjoy!


My parents let us tinker. I helped my dad with power tools. I carried and moved around bricks with bare hands and bare feet, and made my own little pathway in the yard. I dug with sticks in dirt, climbed trees, sat on the roof, picked up bugs, caught lizards, ran around, played with fire, baited my own hook, and caught my own fish. Sure, sometimes we hurt ourselves, and yep, I have a few scars from my childhood, but I learned and explored and discovered my independence more than the people my age who have no scars.
Tinkering = creativity and learning. Let your kids be dangerous.

Sir Ken Robinson

From, “Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.”

This video helped to spark my teaching epiphany. I wonder what the rest of the world thinks about it…

a post on failure

I wanted to share one of my class lectures from last week. My class is Leadership & Organizational Behavior, and we always talk about what goes into making leaders and organizations successful, but I had a sudden thought one afternoon and decided the next class we’d be discussing failure. I asked my students to think of one goal they had – maybe a job they wanted after graduation or a business they want to start. Then I told them to list all the ways they could fail to attain that goal. They all looked a little hesitant, but soon everyone was thinking of hundreds of ways they could fail to achieve their goals.

Then one of my students remarked “Well, this is depressing…” and I said “It is! But, it’s also useful. Why do you think we should talk about failure?”

We decided that failure is a constant. Everyone fears failure. No one wants to fail, and so often our strategy to prevent failure is to ignore it, pretend like it doesn’t exist. Instead of being successful, more often than not, the “it doesn’t exist” strategy causes us to pull the wool over our own eyes and blindly, suddenly fall into mistakes that ultimately can cause failure.

Instead, talking about failure can help us to prevent mistakes, overcome obstacles, and even learn something when we inevitably make mistakes. We read John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership in my course, and in The Law of Navigation, Maxwell explains that we need to be very detailed in our planning – plotting out each small success in the path to achieving our ultimate goal – but we also have to think about all the obstacles in our path. If we forget to plan for mistakes, problems, and obstacles, then even a small problem can throw our jouney off course.

The other thing about failure is that it’s not always a bad thing. Failure often teaches us more than we could have learned if we had been successful. Failure generates new ideas and encourages innovation.

Think of the coyote and the road runner. The coyote failed over and over again, and every time he recovered, learned from his mistake, and developed a new strategy, one that he could not have imagined before the previous failed strategy. NASA has a saying “We never punish error. We only punish the concealment of error.” That simple phrase says volumes. Mistakes will be made. To be human is to err. But we must learn from those mistakes in order to grow.

I’ve found several resources – blogs, articles, and videos – talking about failure and its benefits:

The Harvard Business Review interviewed several OB experts asking them what they think are the biggest mistakes of leaders ( What is the benefit of this? Well if we know how leaders fail, then we as leaders can avoid those mistakes.

Sean Silverthorne adds his 2 cents, saying that leaders fail by losing their humility and forgetting their values (

Mitch Ditkoff of Blogging Innovation explains that there is no innovation without failure (so true!), and several individuals who would be considered influential leaders agree with him (

JK Rowling talks about failure in her commencement speech to the Harvard graduating class of 2008. In this speech, she talks about how failure can strip you to your core, make what’s really important stand out, and cause you realize who you really are (

Ken Robinson, talking about schools and creativity, dabbles into the failure topic by explaining that kids are unafraid of failure, and we tend to teach that fearlessness out of people ( If we are constantly afraid of failing, then we’re never going to try, which ultimately means that we’ll never do anything great.

So in summation: failure is not to be feared! Sure, your goal should not be to fail, but it’s inevitable in many ways, and when it happens, it should be embraced as an opportunity to learn more and be greater.

I realize some of these videos are long and that you are all very busy, but I think each of them are worth your time, so whenever you get a chance, give them a look!  :)