Girl Power Strengthens Knots of Love

At Laurel Hill, we are always inspired by stories of people doing good in their communities. We are moved even more when we learn about young people who reach out to help others, giving compassionately from the heart. A perfect example is Samantha Hirata, a college student from Fountain View, California.

Sammy Hirata has been involved with Knots of Love since she was 15.

Since the age of 15, Sammy has been involved with Knots of Love, an amazing, award-winning 501c3 organization that donates knitted and crocheted caps to men and women, including veterans, undergoing chemotherapy, burn victims, brain surgery patients, head trauma patients, and individuals with Alopecia. They also donate tiny blankets to fragile new lives in incubators. For Laurel Hill, Knots of Love is our chosen non-profit, the cause we stand behind every day. And Sammy does too.

Kudos to Sammy for attaining the Gold Award, the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA, earned by Senior and Ambassador Girl Scouts. Only 5.4% of eligible Girl Scouts successfully earn the Gold Award.

We could explain all that Sammy has done for Knots of Love, but we think she says it best in her own words:

“I became involved with Knots of Love when I was 15 and starting to work on my Gold Award Project for Girl Scouts. I wanted to find something that would be sustaining, and when my mom saw an article in the Register about Christine Fabiani and her organization, Knots of Love, we knew this would be a great fit.

 image2Christine herself patiently worked with me to teach me how to knit, and I began to create caps for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

 My involvement with Christine has been phenomenal!  She was so excited when I contacted her about working with KOL for my Gold Award. She has always been extremely supportive, and involved every step of the way. It is really such a great experience to work with someone who is so passionate about what she does – Christine volunteers countless hours of time, energy and love, with her only expectation being that she will be able to bring comfort and love to others as they struggle through their difficulties.

 KOL is important to both my mother and me since we have been able to see and experience firsthand the impact KOL has made.  Thanks to Christine, we were able to actually hand deliver caps to chemotherapy patients, and to see their expressions when we presented the caps and told them they could pick out any one they wanted at no charge. The experience was priceless.  They were quite surprised, and many were brought to tears over receiving the caps.  Although I have completed my Gold Award, my mom and I feel the need to continue to be involved with KOL and do as much as we can to help Christine help others.

 That’s why even though I am away at school for a good part of the year, I try and volunteer whenever I come home, and will continue to help well into the future.

 Currently, I attend San Francisco State University, majoring in Child and Adolescent Development. 

 When I begin my teaching career, I plan to introduce my students to KOL, and help the younger generation learn how to knit or crochet, since this seems to have gone by the wayside.  Many times I hear people say, ‘Oh I remember my grandmother used to knit or crochet,’ but the younger generation doesn’t often have these skills. Not only would it be great if they could learn, but it will be even better if they are able to touch lives in a positive way through Knots of Love.”

 Getting acquainted with Sammy has been a true highlight here at Laurel Hill. The future is bright when young adults are so generously giving back, creating a legacy of caring for generations to come.

Let Us Know

We are always eager to hear your comments and feedback, and your input keeps our offerings fresh and relevant.  Do you knit or crochet for good causes?  Please tell us about it. We would love to share your good deeds with our readers!

Interested in getting involved with Knots of Love?  Visit for kits to get started, including a discount as our “thank you” for your generosity.





Need a Back to School project?

What better way than to start the school year off with a homemade pencil pouch to carry all of your things in! You can add beads, sequins, ribbons, or whatever your style may be with the simple patter from Laylock designs!

You will need:

Less than 50m / 55yds of aran-weight yarn
4.5mm / US7 needles, or size to get gauge
21cm / 8in zipper
10 beads in a light colour
10 beads in a darker colour
1 large bead for zipper pull (optional)
Approx. 22 cm x 22cm / 8.5in x 8.5in fabric for lining (optional)
A tapestry needle
A sewing needle & thread

Gauge: 13 sts / 20 rows to 10cm / 4in.
Finished size: 18cm x 11cm / 7in x 4¼in.

A Word on Yarn & Bead Choice

I recommend an acrylic or acrylic-blend yarn, so that your pouch is less likely to sag or felt with use, or pill when you slide the beads around. Use needles smaller than the yarn calls for, to get a sturdy fabric. The beads need to be the right size to stay put when strung on the yarn, but should slide along easily when pushed. Large beads that stand out too far from the fabric make it difficult to gauge the length of the “swags”, so I recommend medium or smallish beads. Mine were 1cm wide.

Knitting the Pouch

String your beads onto your yarn in this order: 5 of the lighter shade, 5 of the darker shade, 5 of the lighter shade, 5 of the darker shade. The beads you will knit first are therefore strung on last. A small crochet hook will help, if you can’t get your tapestry needle through your beads. You’ll need to keep pushing your beads along as you knit.

CO 26sts.
Work 4 rows in st st.
ROW 5: K8, sl 10 sts pwise wyif, push 5 beads up to the last knit stich, so they lay in front of the slipped sts, leaving enough slack for the beads to slide k next 2 sts tightly, k6.
ROW 6: Purl across.
ROW 7: Knit across.
ROW 8: Purl across.
Rep. rows 5 – 8, 3 times more. Work in st st until piece measures 11cm / 4¼in, ending with RS facing.
Next ROW: P across. (This forms the fold).
Next ROW: P across.
Next ROW: K across.
Next ROW: P across.
Continue in st st until back measures 11cm / 4¼in from fold. Cast off.

If you choose to line your pouch, hem your fabric all the way around, then sew it 1cm / 0.5in in from each side of your pouch. You may want to stretch your pouch as you go.

Open the zipper, pin and sew it onto your pouch. I recommend working by hand, unless you’re a sewing machine whiz. Try to sew just under the cast on & cast off chains, as they will border the zipper nicely.

Mattress stitch the sides of your pouch.

Thread the cast off tail onto your tapestry needle, and pull your needle away 25cm / 10in from the pouch. Twist this length of yarn, keeping the rest of the yarn untwisted (you’ll be using it to secure the tab, but trim it a little, if that makes it easier). When you have enough twist that the yarn kinks up on itself, fold it in half, and even out the twist. Then insert the tapestry needle near where the tab emerges. Fold the tab into a loop, and sew the loop down. Secure the threads with a knot. You’ll need to cut the needle loose, but it should be ok, as long as you’ve knotted it well.

Zipper Pull
Cut a length of yarn approx. 25cm / 10in long, and pull a loop through the eye of your zipper. Then pull the ends of your yarn through the loop to form a lark’s head knot. Thread a large bead through both strands of yarn, secure with a knot. Trim off any excess.

First Project: Garter Stitch Scarf Complete

Whew! done.

This scarf probably needs another 10 inches or so to really be a good length. But I was tired of the yarn, bored with lack of pattern and frankly ready to move on. I’m glad I found my scarf groove. I’m moving onto a couple of other projects. Both are scarves, but I’m playing with yarn and needle sizes. Which honestly, is my favorite part of knitting so far.

I used size 10 Laurel Hill forest palm needles and Vanna’s Choice Baby yarn in Sweet Pea.

Found My Scarf Groove

It took a while. I’ve started, unraveled, started, unraveled, started, unraveled… started, had my toddler unravel, etc. etc. etc. When at my folks’ house for a short vacation, I picked up some clearance yarn at Michael’s craft store just to play around with. I might have been the ability to focus a little more clearly, but I think I just finally found my groove. No extra stitches, no split yarn. Yay!

The yarn is Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice in a bright lime green. It was on clearance for a buck-fifty.

An early photo of the scarf-in-progress

My biggest challenge now is that the end of the skein is a big knotted mess. There’s gotta be a better way. I think I’m (literally) going to cut my losses and start with the second skein.

Will post more progress soon.

First Projects Shared: Wild Wrist Warmers

Kelbel (Ravelry member) was kind enough to share her first project story. I love this one!

My first project was a pair of wrist warmers in this wild yarn I’ve never been able to find again. It was Skacel, and probably acrylic/wool mix. There’s these extra long, soft fuzzies hanging off of the main bulky strand, and it is in this grey-black-charcoal mottled hue. I wish I could find this yarn, as I’d love a scarf in it! I’m sure it is discontinued 😦

Basically, I knit a couple of rectangles, and (poorly) crocheted them together, leaving holes for the thumbs. They are all in garter stitch, there are a couple of dropped stitches that were poorly sewn up and they scream FIRST KNITTING PROJECT EVER! OMG! They are in my project file, if anyone is interested, in my projects page.

But, those things are so darn warm, I don’t care who fusses about their look. I wear them proudly at work as a sign of confidence and perseverance. I have a really stressful job, and sometimes warm fuzzies help me get through the day!

Later, I was at work, where it is deathly cold on graveyard. One guy was absolutely freezing, and his hands were nearly seizing up. Long story short, he ended up with wearing those gloves all night long! (Ironically, they matched his grey shirt!) He agreed they were very warm and worked super well.

Apparently, I am now the boy scout of handknits. In my bag also were: two shawls, another pair of fingerless gloves and a wool hat. This winter, at no point did I have less than two hats and four pairs of mittens added into the mix. I am prepared.

First Projects Shared: Cotton Washcloth

Tinkertots, a member of the “Soggy Stitches” group (for Eugenians and those who want to be) on Ravelry responded to my first story request with this great example of a first project. And, it turns out, she’s my neighbor! Small world.

My first project was a cotton washcloth on bamboo needles. My mother and grandmother were visiting just after I’d moved here to Eugene and they brought their materials with them. I jumped right in. I’d say it was “hard” because it was my first ever project. I was an insanely tight knitter and the cotton simply would not slide easily over the bamboo. I look back now and laugh.

My next project after that was a jump into the deep end using Wool Ease and no pattern, only basic “how-to” instructions and a picture of some cables that I liked. I constructed my own purse with ribbing and cables down the front and a knitted strap… since I didn’t know what an I-Cord was (much less have DPNs at that point) I did it back and forth on straights and then seamed the whole thing shut. I still have it in my closet!

If you’d like to make your own cotton washcloth, you can get a free pattern here.

This Knitting Thing is Harder Than it Looks

Beth at The Knit Shop was a terrific teacher. When I sat and concentrated on what I was doing and had her there to fix my oopses, things went great!

The first day, I worked on a basketweave scarf sort of like this one. Knit 5, purl 5, knit 5, purl 5, etc. etc. It was looking pretty good. I left feeling pretty confident that this was something I could do and be good at. Then I tried it at home.

The first stitch I tried to do, I immediately screwed up all of the rows I had worked so diligently on with Beth. So I tore it out and started over. And then again. And again. And again. I was determined to finish on a good note and knitted several rows that I felt ok about and called it a night.

The next morning, my 2 year old brought be one of my knitting needles. “Here, mommy!”

“Oh god. Where’s the other one?”

He had taken it out of the scarf-in-progress and stuck it through the fabric. Well, I guess he thought he was knitting.

By then I was sick to death of starting over and over with the same darn yarn. So I went back to The Knit Shop and said that I needed to do something “fun.” Beth laughed and told me to look around, pick some yarns out let me know if they’d work for such a beginner as me. I ended up with Chinchilla yarn in Violet. Other than the fact that I keep adding stitches to the point that I have almost double what I started with after just 15 or so rows… it seems to be going ok. Pretty sure I’ll start over again. I’m such a perfectionist.

Purple Chinchilla Yarn on Size 10 Needles
Purple Chinchilla Yarn on Size 10 Needles

I also got some bigger needles. The Laurel Hill size 15 are substantial needles, there’s no getting around it. I went back to the first yarn for a bit and came up with this sloppy mess.

Finally, I started working on a different yarn – Lion Brand Homespun in Baroque with the big needles. I probably should’ve gone back to The Knit Shop to find “big needle” yarn, but it’s about a 30 minute drive and with gas prices these days… thought I’d pick something up at a department store to try it out.

This is the first go and I think I’m going to take it out and start over, but we’ll see.

I like experimenting with different yarns to see what the effect is. Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll start knitting like a grown up and will actually finish something that’s relatively free of slipped stitches and added stitches – my two biggest weaknesses as I see them right now.

My best friend also learned to knit about the same time I did. She’s finished her first scarf… show off. But at least she’s having the same problems that I am. That makes me feel better.

Any advice?