image via

the tough thing about knitting is, sometimes you just don't need another dang knitted thing in your life, you know? so your hobby sort of sits on the back burner until you either lose a mitten, feel like watching the six hour version of pride and prejudice + need something to do with your hands, or else you just get really, really bored and have nothing else to do. but today i have for you TWO projects! yes, two! as a long-time knitter, i can assure you. this is a very exciting time to be alive. we're useful! let's be useful! dust off ya knitting needles, grannies, we're doing it!

first: you may have heard about the call for knitted jumpers for all the little penguins who've been caught in oil spills. naturally, huck + i are all over this. come on. let's help these little dudes. 


you can read more about this project HERE and HERE.
the pattern is found HERE.

you can send the finished jumpers to:

phillips island nature park
replay paid 97
victoria 3922

huck and i are so excited to get started on this once i'm able to clear some room for it in the schedule. he'll be on yarn color duty. (thank you to everyone who has emailed me with the link! i could kiss you all.)

instead of that, let's focus on this!

my sweet friend robyn devine, author of the upcoming book she makes hats (available april 29) is currently collecting knitted hats for the university of iowa's pediatric oncology center who are desperately in need, and i say we pitch in. 

here's the story: robyn's friend casie's son, eli, was there for treatment in 2012 for a rare form of retinoblastoma. he was diagnosed with it just before christmas. he was two. after six months of chemo and radiation therapy at the UI oncology center, i am so excited to say he was declared cancer free! he's been cancer free for six months now. casie + eli received such loving care and support from the staff and families at the center, and consider everyone there family. it's truly the happiest ending possible for such a scary time. on their last trip to the center for eli's routine testing, casie noticed that the "grab a hat" bin was empty. these knit beanies are so essential in these centers. due both to the hair so loss common with chemo as well as the side effects of the treatments, these kids need all the warmth they can get. she asked about it and learned that these bins are nearly always empty hospital-wide. no amount of donations can ever keep up with the flood of kids that come through those doors. so! it's a knit drive, kids! robyn is on collection duty. she needs as many knit beanies as possible by APRIL 28th--and casie is on transport duty. she will be driving the beanies to the oncology center in may, when eli is there next for his routine tests. i'm so excited to help spread the word on this, number one because, how wonderful is this! and number two because i always need a good craft project that i don't have to find a place for once it's finished. ;) you in? let's positively drown these ladies in beanies!

some important info about these beanies we're knitting:
-- hats for older kids tend to go quickest, so casie and robyn are focusing on hats for ages 10-18. most kids these age are wearing adult size hats, so robyn says "if it fits you, it'll fit them!"
-- the hospital says that the older teens usually love the neutral colors and slouchy shapes (think: black, navy, grey, and the like). while knitters may find knitting with these colors less exciting, these hats are always grabbed up the fastest. (of course, please use whatever yarns you may have on hand if you're looking for a stash buster!)
-- the hospital requests that you please use acrylic yarn, the softer the better--remember these are touching bare skin, skin that is often very sensitive due to treatments. these hats MUST also be able to be machine washed and dried. you can find soft acrylic yarns at most big box stores at pretty low prices.

and here's some information about the UI pediatric oncology center:
-- the center is a 150-bed "hospital within a hospital" on the UI health care campus, with 170 physicians + surgeons, 500 specially trained pediatric nurses + more than 40 pediatric specialties. 
-- last year the center cared for 55,866 patients, from every county in iowa, every state in the united states, plus at least eight foreign countries. people come from all over the world to be treated at this center, in fact, casie was among the lucky ones, with only four hours of travel time to get to the center from their home. unlike most families there, they didn't need to pick up and move all or part of the family for the duration of eli's stay. 
-- because the center is treating some pretty hard core cases, the center is able to receive a lot of grants for their work, which allows them to do cutting-edge treatments that no one else is doing.

please mail your completed hats to:
robyn devine
p.o. box 6093
omaha, nebraska 68106

in case you need some help getting started, there are some great knitted beanie patterns online. here are a few: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. if crochet is more your jam, here's some of those: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE! whew.

(in case you're looking to learn how to knit or crochet, this site is a pretty great resource. youtube videos are also really helpful for more visual learners. good luck!)

on behalf of the team--robyn + eli + casie + all the kids + staff at the UI pediatric oncology center--thank you in advance for your help! now go find those needles, i'm sure they're somewhere!


  1. Natalie, I can't even begin to describe how happy this post makes me! Sad because the penguins need jumpers and the kids need hats, but so so happy that these causes exist! I've been going on a crochet bender of late so I can't wait to start helping out. Thank you for raising awareness of these issues. You are the bomb dot com. As is Huck and his yarn colour duties.

  2. I love both of these! Too bad my knitting skills are almost nonexistent -Hanna Lei

  3. Love it!!!!

    A few lines on my bitter-sweet birthday and greetings from Germany:


  4. i am not a knitter by any means, but this is the sweetest! and seriously, huck knitting cannot be any cuter. :)

  5. I'd make a note that the penguin sweaters don't actually go to penguins but rather penguin toys to help fund penguin rescues. see also Just an FYI for when people start saying it's a hoax. :)

  6. Yeah, knitting a sweater for a penguin is actually not a good idea.

  7. Echoing what others are saying re: the penguin sweaters

    There are far more worthy causes to knit for, the second one you mentioned here, for example! And a great excuse to take up a fantastic hobby.

  8. Hurray!!!!!! Even if the article posted in comments above is correct and there was an inundation of penguin sweaters last time and some of them WERE used on penguin toys - it's all going to support the same cause (and a worthy one, animal conservation for the win!), right?!?

    I'm going to buy some yarn and knitting needles and knit a little penguin, or penguin toy, a sweater! Come on guys don't be hating!

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  10. such a cute little picture of the penguin! also, more importantly, nice post!

  11. Oh my gosh, I actually had a whole crop of hats for preemies turned away at a hospital once because the staff said they always got hats that were either too big, too delicate, scratchy wool, not machine washable, etc, so they no longer accepted donations! So although we knitters love to show off our skills I will echo Natalie and say PLEASE make sure it is soft, durable, acrylic, machine washable yarn you are working with so that it is a genuinely practical gift you are giving. Save the silk/alpaca blend lace deal for your dearest loved ones. Thanks Natalie, for showing how knitting can be a great source of joy and charity!

  12. This is such a great post! I'm an Omahan and am so excited to see a project from our sweet spot in the middle. Such wonderful inspiration to finally learn how to knit. Thank you for the worthy post :)

  13. Yay for knitting! One penguin sweater, coming right up.

    Also, does the hospital only accept hand-knitted hats? I have quite a few hats in my giveaway pile right now, all of which are only lightly worn and reasonably fashionable/soft. Whadaya think?

  14. I am a longtime reader of your blog, and can I just say that I am tickled pink that this post hits so close to home! To have a famous blogger show support for "our" hospital is the coolest ever! Like I feel famous by association haha! Anyway, we here are LOVERS of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics ourselves because they saved my sons life too! We lived there for 2 1/2 months when he was first born (3 1/2 years ago) and he still has regular follow-up visits there. So, if you are ever in need of another transporter, I am local and totally and completely willing to bring hats! You can email me at to get my mailing address if you are ever in need!

  15. I about died when I saw that little penguin in a sweater! Thank you so much for sharing this kind of information! Can't wait to start knitting!


  16. Oh, I do love Iowa. And knitting. Such a lovely idea. Thanks!

  17. It seems that others picked up on the same thing I did as soon as I read this (hey, hadn't I heard this debunked a few years back?) and yes, I have:

    Natalie, would you mind doing a new post with the better information?

  18. This makes my heart so happy! These are such wonderful causes, now I just need to learn to knit...

  19. I live in Omaha! Damn, I wish I could knit. This is a cause that's close to my heart, my sister had neuroblastoma as a baby and I grew up doing all of my research papers about it in school.

  20. Thanks for updating this. You're ace.


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