One of my new favorite things ... by jen geigley

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Check out this multi-purpose silicone project caddy, made by Lazadas! Have you ever seen anything so cool? Closed, it’s a project bag … open, it becomes a yarn bowl. It’s made of 100% odorless silicone and has a really nice feel to it. It’s lightweight and waterproof, and if you happen to spill anything on it – ahem, coffee? – it’s super easy to wipe clean. It stays open nicely and folds shut easily as well. (Read to the end for a coupon code!)

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The use of silicone for this bag/yarn bowl is genius - it’s flexible, durable and super smooth, so no snagging or pilling. It’s available in three super bright colors – teal, hot pink and electric violet. (I love them all.)

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Let’s take a look at how this thing works. First of all, it’s the perfect size. Not too huge but definitely not too small. It’s 10 inches in diameter, 5 inches deep and even my biggest needles and super bulky yarn easily fit inside.

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There are four holes on this bag, two on each side. These holes have a couple of different uses. You can poke your needles through from the inside to the outside, keeping your stitches from slipping off. Or you can thread your yarn(s) through from the inside to the outside, preventing them from becoming tangled as you knit.

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You can also just let your yarn come out of the larger openings on the sides. (This bag is really versatile.) I love the design of the handle too – it’s a loop that fits through a slit on the front of the bowl to keep it closed. If you are a knitter on the go or like to knit while walking, this caddy is a must-have. I’ve never tried anything that’s easier or more comfortable to carry while you work.

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I’m a big fan and I'm definitely going to be carrying this project bag/bowl everywhere, starting right now. Want a yarn bowl project caddy of your own? Find them here, pick your color and enter the coupon code JENKNITS10 at checkout to get 10% off through May 31, 2018!

Happy knitting!
xx - Jen

 

The Special by jen geigley

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“One day, a talented lass or fellow, a Special one with face of yellow, will make the Piece of Resistance found from it's hiding refuge underground. And with a noble army at the helm, this Master Builder will thwart the Kragle and save the realm, and be the greatest, most interesting, most important person of all times.

All of this is true, because it rhymes.”

Every so often, I feel inspired to write down our life stories. And every time the month of April comes around, I feel it’s important to document the autism stories. Today (April 2) is World Autism Awareness Day. This is our unique story, because every person with autism is different. (And that's what makes this world a beautiful place.)

Autism Awareness Day happens to be very close to the date my son Bowie was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder three years ago and when this day approaches every year, I can’t help but feel all the feelings. I often think back to those very first days of knowing our little boy had autism and what life was like at our house then.

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The thing that immediately comes to mind from that time period is Emmet. 'The Special' ... the main character in the Lego Movie. When Bowie was 3 years old, the Lego Movie became his first major interest … and borderline obsession. Like most kids who fall in love with a movie, he wanted to watch it over and over again. And if you sat next to him while he was watching, you’d see his lips moving. He wasn’t a clear speaker whatsoever at this age but you could tell that he knew every single word. You could see it in his eyes; the way he concentrated, focused and listened. He was memorizing the whole movie.

We watched him do it.

He’d try to speak along with the characters as best he could, and he'd fit those sounds in ... in perfect unison. He wanted to get those words out. He knew every inflection. He’d copy the facial expressions. In no time at all, he had all of the dialogue completely memorized. And every single action too. He’d stand near the t.v. and perfectly act out every movement Emmet made. Every jump, turn, kick … everything. He could do it without looking. He could copy the characters’ movements perfectly, exactly on time while listening to the movie from another room. Our whole family became mesmerized watching Bowie watch this movie. None of us had ever seen anything like it.

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So we all tried to memorize the movie too. He would talk to us in Lego Movie quotes (this is common with ASD and is called echolalia) and we’d respond back.

“Jumping Jacks, him them! 1, 2, 3. I am so pumped up!”

“Today shall now be known as Freedom Friday... but still on a Tuesday!”

“Croissants? I love croissants!”

“Honey, where are my paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaants?”

He was practicing his language. And we participated in the practice, because it was working. The Lego Movie gave him the confidence to speak. This movie was a BIG deal to him. It was funny, it was engaging. And we knew it was helping. During Bowie’s toddler years, Bo and I honestly did not know if Bowie would ever learn how to talk. He babbled. He didn’t say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’. If he was super into something that seemed to help bring out his speech, we were ready to dive in head-first.

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Predictably, the Emmet Lego mini figure (or mini-fig) soon entered our lives. When we found Lego Movie Lego sets in the store, we had to buy one. As soon as we brought the Lego set home, that Emmet mini figure was in the palm of Bowie’s tiny hand.

And Bowie didn’t let Emmet go for the next two years.

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He took Emmet everywhere. He held Emmet in his hand while he slept. He would cry uncontrollably in sheer panic if he dropped him or if the plastic hair fell off or if Emmet lost a hand. We had to dig for Emmet in muddy, slushy snow. Once, Emmet fell into a sewer. Bowie would carry Emmet on bike rides with Bo and yell out if he had dropped him along the way so they could turn back. We’d spend hours searching for a lost Emmet around the house. And while I completely understand that most kids do this and get attached to a certain toy or stuffed animal, this was different. A whole new level that I had never seen or experienced before. Losing Emmet could bring Bowie down to a crashing halt … for entire week. Or longer. ASD kids can be an extremely sensitive, emotional bunch and we got a crash-course on how completely devastating an Emmet mishap could be.

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We quickly realized we needed replacement Emmets. So we bought our first three-pack on Amazon. This was great because I figured I'd have an easier time keeping the Emmets clean and could carry back-ups in my purse or in our car … whew. But then we realized each Emmett figure came with different facial expressions or features. Some had a red hat, others had the brown hair. One had brown hair and a red hat. And some of them just looked too ‘new’. Bowie would only find certain Emmets acceptable and he really just wanted his old one that had some of the graphics rubbed off (from never letting him go.) He’d stare at each Emmet, turn them around in his hand studying every tiny part of them and then decide if they made the cut or not. Luckily, he became a little bit more flexible with the different Emmets over time and each of these little guys eventually got their turn as the favorite.

By this time, Bowie had started 3-year-old preschool. His teachers quickly learned that Emmet was coming to school with Bowie and would be in his hand all day. I think they eventually worked out a system where Emmet could stay in Bowie’s cubbie while he did school work but that was a process. Even the receptionists in the school office knew about Emmet and if he was ever left behind at school, I could go to the office to pick him up and our little Lego guy would be sitting on the top of the office computer screen, waiting patiently.

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Bowie finished his first year in preschool and went on to 4-year-old preschool. He made great strides. Progress was slow but steady and we were thrilled to see what he was capable of. He had his struggles but was doing well with his numbers, colors, shapes, alphabet and could write his name. He was also becoming an incredible artist.

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By the end of that second year of preschool, Bowie didn’t need Emmet anymore. (It almost makes me cry to type that.) As kids do, he moved on. Sometimes he’d carry a train, a turtle or a dinosaur to school instead and by the time summer rolled around, he didn’t need to always have something in his hand.

Emmet really was 'The Special'. For Bowie. And for our family. Emmet was there for us during that important, sometimes rocky, new autism phase. He was there for Bowie too.

And Emmet taught us some really good things. Quite frankly, he left all of us with some fantastically inspirational messages that will remain ingrained into our brains and lives forever.

Bowie recently started watching the Lego Movie again and to no one’s surprise, he still knows all the words.

Like these.

“You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things. Because you are The Special. And so am I. And so is everyone. The prophecy is made up, but it's also true. It's about all of us. Right now, it's about you, and you still can change everything.”

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Ra-Ra-Rafia from Wool and the Gang (and get 15% off!) by jen geigley

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Have you seen the new Ra-Ra-Rafia yarn from Wool and the Gang? I'm completely obsessed. I need to make every single one of these projects.

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There are about a million reasons to love Ra-Ra Raffia, our superstar yarn that's made of 100% long wood fibre. Biodegradable and vegan, Ra-Ra Raffia will add a little structure to your next project, making it the perfect fiber for summer hats, bags and home accessories. Plus, Ra-Ra Raffia is water-repellent and quick-drying, so you can even bring her to the beach for some sand-filled adventures.

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Clutches, bags, hats, a plant hanger and more ... you've gotta see these project kits for yourself.  Ra-Ra Raffia yarn comes in 4 natural shades - Cinnamon Dust, Ivory White, Desert Palm and Midnight Blue.

Shop at WATG using my affiliate link to get 15% off your order!

Have fun!
xo - Jen

Happy Pi Day (a knitted pie crust) by jen geigley

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Are you a knitting knerd like me? (Yes?) Then you might enjoy making a faux-knitted lattice pie crust on your next pie. It's not difficult ... it just takes a bit of time. And pie is always delicious. So what are we waiting for?

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First off, this was based off a post I saw on craftberry bush. (And my pie turned out differently than hers, so be sure to check out her photos too.) I would personally recommend buying two boxes of Pilsbury Pie Crust (two crusts in each box) to be sure you have enough to work with. I'm sure a homemade crust made from scratch would be delicious but the Pilsbury crusts roll up very neatly and nicely. Use a pizza cutter to slice up one whole crust. Place the other one (uncut) in a pie plate. Save the other two in case you need them later.

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Roll up your strips into 'snakes'. Take two snakes and twist them from top to bottom, right over left. Then take two more and twist them, left over right. These twists make a pair – lay them side by side on a cutting board.

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Keep going until you have enough twist pairs to cover your pie. Use an extra crust if you need to make more.

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Lay the twist pairs on top of your pie and gently smush the ends onto the bottom crust.

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If you'd like, use part of the extra crust in the second box to make one more larger roll that you can place around the edge as a crust.

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Bake it and you're done. The end. Happy Pi Day, and happy knitting.

The Gold Medal Hat (Chloe Kim's hat) by jen geigley

It's THE hat! The hat we all saw on the night the USA women's snowboarding team competed in PyeongChang, when Chloe Kim won the gold. It caught my attention right away, which is no surprise ... you all know I love the bulky knits! I saw this hat all over instagram and facebook because every knitter I knew loved it too. So of course, I wrote up a quick pattern and knitted this baby the very next day. (Scroll down to download it for FREE!)

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Find the pattern on Ravelry here or click this link to download it for FREE.

AND! If you're interested in a custom USA patch to stitch onto your hat, check out this shop! They'll hook you up.

Happy Olympics, happy knitting. Go USA!

xo - Jen

Your knits deserve a label by jen geigley

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So ... I've knitted a lot of sweaters over the past few years. And all this time they've been missing something. When I'd throw these sweaters on, nine times out of ten I'd put them on backwards. But I found an easy (and eye-catching) fix. Labels, people. I'm telling you. What a difference a label can make! My sweaters deserved an upgrade and these labels did the trick. You absolutely must check out Dutch Label Shop! (They make it easy.)

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Dutch Label Shop is quite possibly my new favorite website. These labels took less than five minutes to design online, and they offer tons of great fonts, colors and graphics to make it incredibly easy to design a label yourself, even if you don't have your own artwork or a logo. And! The price is definitely right. (Read on for a special discount code.)

There are so many things you can do! You can create care/wash instruction tags, size tags, logo tags, hang tags ... anything you want. Maybe you want to add a label to the knits you give as gifts. They could say 'handmade by me' or 'made for you with love' or you could add your name to a label so future generations will know who made that beautiful sweater or blanket or quilt.

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So, I know what you're going to say next. 'But I can't sew!' And I will say 'YES you can.' These tags and labels are well-made and incredibly easy to sew on. I took out a needle and thread and had all three of these tags sewn on in less than ten minutes. One stitch per side, knotted in the back and boom. What a difference!

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You can even fold them over and add them to hats ... I see knitters everywhere doing this and gives your hat a super cool look.

Definitely head over to Dutch Label Shop right now and check out all of the possibilities, like these cardstock hang tags, sizing tags and labels in tons of colors and different sizes. Enter the coupon code "jengeigley15" (all lower case) at checkout to receive 15% off your purchase! You're sure to find the perfect tag or label for you. (Have fun!)

Holiday Gift Guide Twenty Seventeen by jen geigley

 The holidays are getting closer, and once again I've put together a collection of my fave gift ideas. Some are perfect for the knitting enthusiast in your life but there are lots of super neat things here that anyone on your list would enjoy. Check it!

The holidays are getting closer, and once again I've put together a collection of my fave gift ideas. Some are perfect for the knitting enthusiast in your life but there are lots of super neat things here that anyone on your list would enjoy. Check it!

 First up, my fave bags in the universe ...  Moop.

First up, my fave bags in the universe ... Moop.

 I've been obsessed with these  Mason Dixon Knitting Field Guides.

I've been obsessed with these Mason Dixon Knitting Field Guides.

 Order some  Hedgehog Fibers Chubby  at my fave yarn store,  StevenBe.  (Then knit a Ready Steady hat.)

Order some Hedgehog Fibers Chubby at my fave yarn store, StevenBe. (Then knit a Ready Steady hat.)

 Check out Wool and the  Gang's Knitter’s Paradise Embroidery Kit . So cool.

Check out Wool and the Gang's Knitter’s Paradise Embroidery Kit. So cool.

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My friend Bergen at Lilla Barn is doing a collab with PoemGrown to make these incredible hand-dyed Soul Scarves. (The poem is printed on cotton and sewn on.) Check them out here.

 Do you have the winter issue of  PomPom  magazine yet? This would make a fantastic gift.

Do you have the winter issue of PomPom magazine yet? This would make a fantastic gift.

 New fave of mine ...  Lush's Sleepy body lotion . It's gorgeous. Right before bed. Trust me.

New fave of mine ... Lush's Sleepy body lotion. It's gorgeous. Right before bed. Trust me.

  Westknits Bestknits  for the holidays! Every knitter I know wants to get their hands on  this book.

Westknits Bestknits for the holidays! Every knitter I know wants to get their hands on this book.

 I need this  tshirt . You need this  tshirt . We all need this  tshirt from Shelli Can.

I need this tshirt. You need this tshirt. We all need this tshirt from Shelli Can.

 GGMadeIt literally does it all. Knitting how-to videos. She has tshirts and mugs and all kinds of knitting-related apparel. And she sells her own handknit creations as well. Find her  here .

GGMadeIt literally does it all. Knitting how-to videos. She has tshirts and mugs and all kinds of knitting-related apparel. And she sells her own handknit creations as well. Find her here.

 Knit Safari is my hands-down favorite big, big, BIG yarn. Smooth and glorious and zero of that roving shedding, THIS is the yarn you want to use if you make one of those giant blankets. (I know because I made one for my latest book and it's perfection.) Find Knit Safari Jumbo Yarn  here .

Knit Safari is my hands-down favorite big, big, BIG yarn. Smooth and glorious and zero of that roving shedding, THIS is the yarn you want to use if you make one of those giant blankets. (I know because I made one for my latest book and it's perfection.) Find Knit Safari Jumbo Yarn here.

 Trust me when I say that you need the Illest Tarot Vol. 2 in your life right now, featuring all your 90s heroes. It's so good and my good friend Kristi made it so it's extra good. Get yours  here  before they're gone forever.

Trust me when I say that you need the Illest Tarot Vol. 2 in your life right now, featuring all your 90s heroes. It's so good and my good friend Kristi made it so it's extra good. Get yours here before they're gone forever.

 For the kids! (Or for anyone.) Grab this ultra fun  Art Making with MoMA Action Painting Kit  and embrace your inner Pollock.

For the kids! (Or for anyone.) Grab this ultra fun Art Making with MoMA Action Painting Kit and embrace your inner Pollock.

 Twinkle's back. Back again. (No seriously.) Twinkle's back. Tell a friend. Find one of my all time favorite yarns right here at  Third Piece . Check out their Funky Chunky too ... another fave.

Twinkle's back. Back again. (No seriously.) Twinkle's back. Tell a friend. Find one of my all time favorite yarns right here at Third Piece. Check out their Funky Chunky too ... another fave.

 This is the perfect gift for any crafter! The magnetic  Maker's Keep from CocoKnits.

This is the perfect gift for any crafter! The magnetic Maker's Keep from CocoKnits.

 Find the perfect gift for absolutely anyone on your list at one of my fave local shops,  Eden .

Find the perfect gift for absolutely anyone on your list at one of my fave local shops, Eden.

And last but not least, I can't put together a gift guide without mentioning my knitting books WEEKEND, EVERYDAY, VISIONS and VISIONS KIDS. Treat yourself or someone you love to these gorgeously photographed collections full of simple, modern designs. These books make fantastic gifts – don't forget to add them to your wish list! Find them here.

Happy December, happy crafting and happy giving!

xx - Jen

TWO new books! by jen geigley

They're here! Two new knitting books – one for men/women and one for kids. These books have been an absolute thrill to work on and I cannot wait to share these knits with you. Both books are available in my shop and on Amazon right now!

'Visions' and 'Visions Kids' are full of knitting patterns that you'll love ... but these books will also help you take your knits a step further when you add bleach, paint or dye after you've finished knitting. Don't worry – that part is completely optional and you'll test everything on swatches before you begin. I include detailed instructions for all the techniques I used.

Find the books right here. If you purchase from my shop you will also get a FREE PDF copy of the book after you purchase so you can start knitting right away. (Enter the coupon code AWESOME at checkout to get FREE SHIPPING.) And if you're not a book person, you can find all of the individual patterns and complete PDF ebooks on Ravelry.

I dare you to try something new. I don’t believe in mistakes. Trust your creativity and let your knits become what they want to be!

Huge thanks to my photographer Joelle Blanchard and all of the awesome models who made these books look amazing. And thank YOU for following along and giving love and support over the years.

Perfect squares by jen geigley

Bowie was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exactly one year ago on 4/4/16. I will always remember that date, even though I am terrible at remembering dates.

That day, I took Bowie to his autism evaluation at Blank Children's Hospital and to make a long story short, was given the ASD diagnosis by our (now) beloved, wonderful Dr. Noble.

After it was over, I didn't know what to do next. What was I supposed to do now? I had a stack of papers in my lap and lots of work to do – waivers to apply for, waiting lists to add our names to and a bunch of things I could not quite wrap my brain around just yet. So I looked at my super cool, brilliant boy ... knowing he was the exact same kid that he had been a few hours before. And decided he deserved ice cream. Maybe we both deserved ice cream. So we stopped by Orange Leaf on our way home. Okay, frozen yogurt ... not ice cream. Close enough.

Later that day, our family went to Target to pick up a couple of things. (What an extremely normal thing to do after such a defining moment in our lives, you say! Life goes on.) Bowie loves to collect the small plastic zoo animals they have in the toy section, so we let him pick one out. At the checkout lane, he was fidgeting with the tag on his animal (because he hates tags) and was urgently saying 'cut it with scissors.'

Almost immediately, our tall, young cashier bent over and cut the tag off the toy animal. He said 'That tag is bugging him, huh.' and proceeded to make lots of comments about the things we were purchasing. Lots of comments. I looked up and thanked him for cutting the tag and he told me it was a special day. That took me aback ... because yeah, it kind of had been a special day for us too. A day that had not exactly sunk in just yet.

He said "Well, today is a square root day, which is really rare. 4 x 4 = 16, 4 is the square root of 16, 4 and 16 are perfect squares, and it's 4/4/16. He went on about this and then I realized ... I was pretty darn sure our cashier was on the autism spectrum. (I later wrote a letter to Target in praise of this cashier and confirmed this.)

I realize this is a completely random, fragmented story, but this cashier could not have been in a more perfect place at a more perfect time. He was a young adult on the spectrum. He worked at Target. (Yay Target, by the way!) And he was just doing his job, but was also incredible and bright and interesting. And he was unintentionally helping me understand and accept a million things all at once. That everything was going to be alright ... now and in the future.

It's kind of the low-lying constant question in the back of every ASD parent's mind ... what about the future? Then you remind yourself to focus on the now. But that question comes back. This cashier provided a bit of foreshadowing I didn't know I needed. Every single person on the spectrum is totally, completely different. But knowing that kind of makes me want to meet them all. Life with autism might not be a piece of cake; it might be different but it will be alright. Bowie is doing fantastic things. And he will continue to do fantastic things.

We've learned a lot this first year. We've had a lot of ups and downs. And we've had a little refresher on square roots and perfect squares. 

 

* photo by Alexandra Crahan Photography