A Moment of Silence

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My father passed away on Sunday, 18 months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He counted his friends and family as his greatest blessing, and I share his sentiment. Thank you to the many people who have shown our family incredible kindness and support over the last year and a half. If you’re reading this, know that I count you among them.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network was a powerful resource for us during our time of need. If you wish to join me in making a contribution, they have a matching campaign going on right now that will double all funds from first-time donors. You can find more information at www.pancan.org or by clicking the #WageHope banner on the right.

Dear reader, I’m sending my warmest wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season to you and your loved ones–make sure you give lots of big hugs this year.

My Latest DIY Project (We Are Knitters Review)

Flurries are blanketing the city, radiators are rumbling on, and everyone is breaking out their puffy winter coats…that means it’s knitting season! Every winter, I bring my yarn basket down from the closet and start musing about warm projects to make. I’ve always loved to knit and crochet, and–get ready for a humblebrag–I was actually on TV as a kid, teaching viewers a crochet craft for the holidays. In retrospect, I look at the uneven, lumpy bookmark I crocheted at age six and realize that my bright-eyed cuteness probably trumped my skills in that scenario.

This time around, my knitting project stole the show, and I have We Are Knitters to thank!

We Are Knitters Review | Jaybird

We Are Knitters is an international knitting company on a mission to transform knitting from your grandma’s craft to an art form that’s fun, modern, and fashionable. They offered me a kit to review, and it was hard to limit myself to just one: they offer both knitting and crochet projects and have kits for making blankets, scarves, sweaters, hats, and even decorative items. Finally, I chose the Soho’s Snood, a project knit with WAK’s signature chunky Peruvian wool. Snoods, infinity scarves, and cowls are simple and trendy styles that you can easily make at home, so I wanted to see what the difference was when knitting with a kit.

I’m a more experienced crocheter than knitter, so I chose an easy level kit to build my knitting repertoire. Each kit comes with a pattern, wool, large wooden needles, a yarn needle, and a cute little We Are Knitters label to sew onto the end product. Upon opening the bag and letting two balls of gray wool tumble out, I was smitten: the thick wool begs to be touched. At size US 19 (15mm), the knitting needles are on the gigantic side, which mean that they’re easy to wield for new knitters and kind of a conversation piece if you like to knit on the train or while chatting with friends.

We Are Knitters Kit - Soho's Snood| Jaybird

Following the We Are Knitters pattern was a fun and easy learning experience. Each time I came upon a new stitch, I would grab my phone or laptop and pull up the fantastically helpful We Are Knitters YouTube channel. They have an entire library of videos showing knit and crochet techniques. Videos are my go-to for learning everything from how to snake a drain to how to braid challah bread, so having each stitch at my fingertips helped me practice until I felt confident moving forward. One of the instructions from the pattern, “yarn over, knit two together” (yo, k2tog), isn’t on their channel yet, but I easily found other videos to use in the meantime.

It took me a few sessions to complete the snood, and I always looked forward to picking up my knitting. Once I finished the project, which is knit as a long rectangle, it wasn’t hard to sew it up and take it for a spin. Jim got his blogger-BF brownie points by accompanying me to Millennium Park for some photos, and we caught the last bright leaves of fall before it started snowing this week.

We Are Knitters Kit - Soho's Snood| Jaybird

As a garment, the Soho’s Snood is perfect for a Chicago winter. It’s thick and warm, and it can be pulled up to protect your face while you traipse through a snowstorm or scrunched down. The eyelet stitches add an element of texture that several friends have already commented on. I can’t say enough about the softness of the yarn–I used a piece of scrap to tie a bow on a friend’s birthday gift, and she couldn’t stop talking about how soft it was either!

Since this is a review, I guess we’ve come to the final question: would I buy a We Are Knitters kit on my own?

The answer is absolutely–with the caveat that I couldn’t afford to make WAK my go-to for every craft project. Great yarn comes at a price, so while I’d love for every project to be a We Are Knitters project, I’ll have to wait before I purchase my next kit (hopefully the Jake Blanket pattern).

We Are Knitters gets it–and they’ve generously offered a 10% discount for Jaybird readers with the code ‘JAYBIRDWAK‘. If you have a beloved knitter on your holiday list, you can find kits, free patterns, and lovely skeins of wool, cotton, and fabric yarn over at We Are Knitters. Happy crafting!

We Are Knitters Review | Jaybird

Disclosure: I received a We Are Knitters kit to review; all opinions (and raves about super soft yarn) are my own.

A Weekend in Detroit: Food, Drink & Art

One of my goals this past summer was to use my car for more fun trips. Since I commute in Chicago traffic every day, I have some negative associations with time spent driving, and I wanted more opportunities to look forward to local travel. Last fall, I went camping in Michigan with friends, so it felt right to head east again. This time, Jim and I set out to spend a weekend in Detroit, Michigan visiting my cousin’s family and seeing the city for the first time.

A Weekend in Detroit | Jaybird

One incredible thing about social media is the ease of building a network of friends all over the country. I knew right off the bat that some of my blogging friends lived in eastern Michigan or were from the area, and so I reached out for recommendations. Amy, who blogs at Club Narwhal, not only has an index of Detroit Adventures, but also generously sent me ideas for places to eat and things to see while visiting. As I posted pictures on Instagram and Facebook along the way, more friends chimed in with their own Detroit and Ann Arbor favorites, which made the trip even more fun.  This post is a long one with plenty of pictures, so read on after the jump!

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