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Archive for the ‘Warm Hats Not Hot Heads’

Rats, and cats, and hats, oh, my!

Dear Jan,


It seems we have rats.


Fortunately, we also have cats.








121.jpg131.jpg16.jpgNeed I mention, we also have hats?

In order, Lisa’s Rock Creek Hat, Carrie’s Man Hat, and my Mirelle, which I have named Fair (Isle) Talk.  They are all for the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project, which I am happy to report continues making headway (heh!) towards sending a special hand knit hat to every Congressperson.  We stand at 14% of the 535 total members officially on the tracker; I believe there are a number of knitters out there working away who haven’t contacted me.  Further details on the project can be found in the link at the right side of this website, in the Ravelry group by the same name, or on the Facebook page.

111.jpgSeveral other knitters from my Monday night group were working on hats, though they sneaked away before I could get a picture.  A standout project of the night was The Other Lisa’s T-shirt, a long time in the knitting but so worth the effort.

10.jpgI can’t go without posting a hurrah for the Packers.  I wore Wilson’s jersey down to StephenBe’s Super Bowl party, where Steven was wearing the non-partisan jersey for his Own team.  I’m not sure he actually knew who was really playing, but it didn’t matter.  We had fun.

14.jpgSome of us had so much fun, in fact, that we were head over heels.

I hope your week has started out fun.



A double digit celebration…

Dear Jan,

Warm Hats Not Hot Heads heard from a few more knitters yesterday, taking our total coverage of Congress to double digits – 10% of our Representatives and Senators have a knitter who has committed to knitting them a hat!  In celebration of that, I am offering up a new hat pattern for free.

13.jpgI call this Hat’s Not Another Noro Scarf!  Even though I haven’t knit one, those striped ribby scarves knit out of a long color repeat yarn like Noro enchant me with their waves of undulating color and sometimes surprising juxtaposition of hues.  But five feet of 1×1 ribbing isn’t my thing.  Twenty inches, however, in a narrower band – definitely something I could wrap my brain around.

Or more accurately, something I could wrap around my brain, in the form of a self-striping hat.  With a decorative cast on to establish the striping right off, a band of 1×1 ribbing forms the brim of a quick to work but satisfyingly clever hat.

The ribbing, worked in alternating colorways 2 rows at a time, is stitched closed and trimmedwith buttons or decorative closures of your choice.  The crown of the hat is picked up along the edge of the brim.  Knitter’s choice as to whether to continue with the striped theme and knit with both colorways in a spiral to the center or to opt for a single yarn used to the finish.  Width of brim can also be varied as one chooses.

2.jpgYou’ll note a small error in the version I’m wearing – I did 4 rows of one color instead of two.  But this couldn’t be ripped out – it was when I was knitting for the world’s record at Sock Summit back in 2009 and is one of my best mementos of that trip.

The link to the pattern is here.  It’s a Ravelry link, but if you aren’t a member of Ravelry and would like a copy, just leave a comment on the blog and I’ll send one to you directly.

3.jpg4.jpgAnd here is another hat for the WHNHH campaign.  This one is Jared Flood’s popular (and also free) pattern, Turn a Square.  I’m calling mine Crossing State Lines as I will likely be sending this one to one of the Senators or Representatives outside of Minnesota who don’t have a committed knitter yet.

Apparently, as sure as I love knitting with browns and greys, Selkie likes hat modeling.

12.jpgNote: This gratuitous sunrise shot is proof I DO like other colors.  Just not as much as brown and grey.  🙂




Dear Jan,

11.jpgFor as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been gray.  Kiddens are an excellent way to add gray to your home decor.

1.jpgAnd Thorpe,  a free pattern by Kirsten Kapur, when knit out of two shades of gray in Debbie Bliss Como Merino/Cashmere is an excellent way to feel how soft this color is.  This hat, knit for the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads campaign, is currently destined for my MN Representative, Erik Paulsen.  I rarely agree with Representative Paulsen’s positions, but knitting for him has helped me see him as a person.

Too bad I can’t get the hat to him today.  We’re supposed to be creeping barely above zero for the next day or so, and this is just that hat for it.

I know you are nice and warm down in Jamaica.



P.S. We’ve climbed over 8% coverage of Congress with soft hats to encourage softer political rhetoric.  Check out the details at the link in the right sidebar or in the Ravelry group, Warm Hats Not Hot Heads, OR in the new Facebook page of the same name!

Updated (and final!) details on WHNHH

Hi, all,

Alison and I discussed the various options for the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads campaign and have made some decisions on how to move forward.  Check out the details in the page link in the right sidebar of this blog –  or click HERE.

In short –

  1. Choose a recipient for your hat.
  2. Let me know who you are knitting for.
  3. Knit the hat.
  4. Deliver the hat as close to February 28 as is practical for you.  Personal delivery is best, mail to district offices (not D.C.) second best, and sending a photo of the hat donated to a charity on the Congressperson’s behalf is a third option.
  5. Spread the word – send people to the details page, the Ravelry group (Warm Hats Not Hot Heads), Alison’s or my blog, and soon, a Facebook group!

Let me know in comments or in email (e DOT silva AT comcast DOT net) if you have any questions.  And Thanks!



Dear Alison (Jan is away in Jamaica, so this one’s for you),

29.jpgI had a wonderful day at StevenBe’s open house yesterday, recruiting some of my wonderful knitting peeps to the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads campaign.

47.jpgAny day spent with Steven leaves you feeling good, but it was especially great to have my buddies along (and to find so much great hat yarn in his sale bins!).

37.jpg Julie’s vest was the only finished object in sight from our group; good thing it was such a great vest to keep up our knitting cred.

As far as the campaign goes, we are, I believe, establishing cred.  We still have a long way to go, but we more than doubled the number of hats we had committed over the last few days from 2% to 5% of the total number needed to cover Congress.  More importantly, I’m already starting to see change.

28.jpgIt’s a little like watching buds respond to the returning light, a barely discernible swelling and coloration that bodes good things.  I’m hearing knitters who, a week ago, said they could never knit a hat for Representative X because they disagree so vehemently with their politics, quietly move to needing to knit for that particular person.  I’m hearing other knitters say that just by thinking about what hat to knit for that politician for whom they’d never vote, that person has become more of, well, a person to them.  And I’m experiencing exactly the same thing myself.

115.jpgSo, the fluffy coating of snow that we got this morning, rather than making me think winter will never end, did nothing more than look beautiful.  Underneath, there is so much change in the works.

(There is also another hat in the works, more on that tomorrow when I hope to lay out the final details on the campaign for our wonderful knitters after you and I chat.)

Love to you and all the generous knitters out there,


116.jpgP.S.  Spinning cred.  Not much happening on the wheel, but what there is, is making me happy.

P.P.S.  Don’t forget to check in on the Ravelry group, Warm Hats Not Hot Heads , for great discussion.

Two Things…

Dear Ellen,

Our flight leaves in less than 12 hours and I haven’t started to pack…so, brevity follows —

dsc01962.JPGA new hat for the campaign…will i.d. the recipient later.





dsc01959.JPGThe winter view we’ll have from our porch next year…it’s from the pile of rocks in front of the porch decking this year.

I’m ready for Jamaica…packed or not!

Love, Jan


Dear Jan,

8.jpgWarm Hats Not Hot Heads is making progress, and so am I on knitting (hats, of course).  Here is my first effort, a hat I’m calling Positive Energy.  The pattern, Turbine, is from Wooly Wormhead, and the yarn is from Briar Rose Fibers, Chris’ 4th of July in colorway 7070.

26.jpg35.jpg45.jpg52.jpgI have to say, the hat was easier to knit than it was to photograph.

62.jpg 9.jpgI finally locked her out of the bathroom and got a shot of the crown.  After a good wash and block I got the outdoors shots (first and last of the post), which show the true colors best.  The last shot is the inside of the hat, which I like almost as much as the right side.

114.jpgDespite the arctic air we’ve experienced lately, I’ve been feeling warmed by the response Warm Hats Not Hot Heads has received.  Knitters are knitting hats and claiming the reps they are knitting for (see the list here), and Alison and I are getting lots of ideas from friends and connections on how to execute this effort to use soft, warm hats as a reminder that civil public discourse will help move our country forward for all.  We are actively exploring several avenues to create the most awareness by our Congress.  In the meantime, all who want to participate (and oh, Alison and I hope you will!) please let me know who you are knitting for – you don’t have to finish the hat first, we just want to know how many we might expect.

Update on Warm Hats Not Hot Heads

Editors note, added 1/31/11:  After some investigation about postal security in the federal government, we are recommending  that you send your hat to the district office of your recipient, or better yet if possible, hand deliver your hat at a meet-and-greet type event.  Another alternative is to send a photo of your hat with a note saying it was donated in the recipient’s honor.  We’ve updated and finalized the details for the campaign accordingly – you can read them all in the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads page over on the right sidebar of the blog or in the Ravelry group of the same name.

Hi, everyone,

Alison has some political ins, and she has determined that until we build some publicity for the hat campaign it might be best to hold off on mailing them in.  We don’t want them being set aside by some office worker – we want them to be seen (maybe even anticipated!) by our congresspeople.  I’ve updated the post with details, but here is the plan in brief.

As before, knit a hat for the congressperson of your choice.  Let me know who you’ve knit for when you are finished, and get the hat ready to mail.  Towards the end of February we’ll announce the big mail-off date when we will all send our hats winging towards the offices of our elected officials.  (Hats Off to Thee?  That’s a Minnesota joke.)

In the meantime, Alison and I will explore publicity for the effort so each hat can make its way to where it is intended.

If you know of your congressperson having a meet the public event before the end of February, DO go ahead and take your hat there and present it in person.  That will help create awareness for everyone’s hats.

I know we keep tweaking this, and I apologize for that.  We’re kind of new to this sort of thing.  Thanks for the support and love, anyway.



P.S.  You can check out the list of who has hats waiting for them here.

Nothing but Knitting…Almost

Dear Ellen,

dsc01941.JPGThis week I bring you almost all knitting.  I couldn’t resist including this photo from the Costco in Lancaster County.  I just love that the area businesses make accommodations for all of their customers including the ones who arrive in horse drawn carriages.  I think that kind of respect for differences is very much in keeping with the spirit of the campaign that you and Alison have begun.  As we travel around the Lancaster County area we see again and again how folks with very different beliefs and backgrounds come together to help each other and to help the community.

dsc01945.JPGdsc01942.JPGI’ve begun my part of the campaign.  On our way to and from the building site I worked on using up the yarn leftover from Woodland Vines to make a simple, masculine bucket hat.   The yarn is Briar Rose Fourth of July, a 100% merino…aren’t you using it for one of your hats too?  I cast on 116 stitches and did a bit of K2/P2 ribbing in the round.  Then I switched to a simple knit-purl checkerboard pattern.  After about 6 inches of knitting I did decreases at four equally spaced locations in the round.  I knit 13 stitches in pattern, did a left leaning decrease, a single purl stitch and then a right leaning decrease, then knit 13 more in pattern.  Do that four times and it takes you to the end of the round.  The next row is knit in pattern with knit-purl-knit at the decrease points.  Next row, same as the first decrease row except the number of stitches in pattern is decreased by one…and so on till you’re down to 4 stitches.  A simple gathering of those stitches on the tail, weaving of it and the cast on tail in and you have a very big slouchy hood-hat.  That’s not what I wanted, so into the front loader with a few towels it went.  When it came out I was very pleased.  The pattern stitch does give the fabric a bit of texture.  It fits my head just snug, so I think it will be a good size for anyone with a larger head.  Because it gained some thickness and wind resistance, it should be pretty practical too.

dsc01950.JPGI also pulled out the Mochi Beret that I knit last winter.  I have never worn it, but I’ve used the mittens.  It has sat in the closet patiently waiting for its turn to go out.  And it’s really a nice hat, but you really need to be a beret wearer to put it to use.  I’m just not really a beret wearer.  I’ll send it to one of the women in Congress who doesn’t get covered by a constituent.   Maybe I’ll Google a few for winter images and see if I can spot someone who has evidence of a beret wearing history.

dsc01953.JPGMy Sweater from Down Under is making great progress.  I’ve finished the body to include blocking.  I made it tunic length and wider at the hips to account for my particular weeble shape.  (I wobble, but I don’t fall down.)  I’m loving the Blue Faced Leister yarn — the feel of the fabric and the pleasure of knitting dsc01954.JPGwith it.  I think the stitch definition is exactly what I wanted for this particular project.  I’ll get the sleeves going this week, but won’t stop knitting hats either.

Love, Jan

P.S. I’m tagging my projects for the campaign with “warmhatsnothotheads” — I suggest you do to.  In fact, the thought of a contest for those hats so tagged occurs to me….hmmm…..

Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads

Dear Congressperson,

113.jpgThis hat was hand knit with care for you.  Many of your colleagues will also be receiving hats from knitters of all political stripes and from all around the nation.

Why a hat?  Knit hats meet a simple need for warmth.  They are an every day comfort.  Everyone can use a good hat.

Civil political discourse also meets a simple need – the need for our government to have the best information and insights from many viewpoints.  It would be an every day comfort to me and many other Americans if the airwaves were free of hate-filled rhetoric, and it would lead to good government.   As I’m sure you agree, everyone can use good government.

Thank you for your service, and best regards,


P.S.  More information about this effort, Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads can be found at or


That’s the letter I’m sending along with the hats I knit for my Senators and Congressman.  I hope many other knitters will join in on our effort to introduce a bit more kindness into the political sphere with the delivery of handknits to our Congresspeople.

Edited 1/31/11 to reflect slight changes to the WHNHH campaign – read them in full in the page on the blog sidebar.

Here is what you need to know.

  1. Knit a hat, a nice hat, out of materials you would be happy to wear.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It can be any color and any pattern.
  2. Write an accompanying note to express why you knit the hat.  You are welcome to adapt my note to your use, or check Alison’s blog for her note which she will be posting soon. Please keep your note positive and short for maximum impact.
  3. Mail your hat to the congressperson of your choice.  Prepare to mail your hat to the congressperson of your choice.  We’ll all try to mail at once, and Alison and I will try to do some publicity to make sure the hats make it to the people for whom they are intended.   To find your own House representative, check this website – and to find your Senator, the website at  will do the trick.
  4. Email me when you finish your hat and have it ready to mail so I can track which representatives have hats committed to them.  If possible, send a photo or link to your Ravelry project so I can publish it here on the blog.  And I’ll email with information about exactly when to send it on its way.
  5. Let’s try to finish this up by February 28.  Were the houses of Congress located in Minnesota, we could continue till sometime in June, but I hear spring comes earlier in D.C.
  6. One exception to holding onto your hat for a bit – if you can find a meet your congressperson event in your area, please consider hand-delivering your hat to them and making it really personal!  And please let us (Alison or myself) know that you’ve done that.

That’s it, really.  I will track the congresspeople for whom hats have been committed (click HERE to see the list of all congresspeople and who is knitting for them), so you might check to see if your reps have already been covered.  If you’d like to send your hat directly to me and not even worry about writing a note, I’ll handle sending it to a congressperson who has yet to chosen.  If you have any trouble at all, please email me (eDOTsilvaATcomcastDOTnet, PM me on Ravelry where I am twinsetellen, or comment here on the blog and I’ll help out.

112.jpgOh, and in case you were wondering, the hat in progress, destined for my own Senator Amy Klobuchar, is Wooly Wormhead’s wonderful design, Turbine, knitted with the fabulous Briar Rose 4th of July.  The nighttime picture is horrid – I’ll replace it soon with a better one, one that the pattern and the yarn deserve.

Thanks to all for their interest.  Now let’s go make the world a warmer place!