This week I started thinking about winter hats. It’s getting nippy where we live — not cold enough for me to bring out my heavy coat yet, but cold enough that most mornings I get a block or two into our walk to school and think “hmm, maybe I should have put a hat on.” Last year or the year before I made myself a toque from some alpaca yarn, and while it generally fulfills the brief I don’t love it. The winter hat I love the most is actually my mother’s; she left it at my house after a Christmas visit one year, and I wore it for the next winter or two before finally resigning myself to giving it back. That hat is a four-hour drive away now and, yes, technically somebody else’s property. I miss it.
So then I thought, well, maybe I could just knit a hat like it. I’ve got some lovely yarn left over from my last baby blanket; I’ve got needles in the correct size; if I just knit a panel and then sew it up construction will be easy; what could go wrong? So I found my needles and got out my yarn, watched a video to remind myself how to do the long-tail cast-on, and began.
Those of you who have been reading for a while may have questions at this point. “But Christine,” you may ask, “I thought you hated knitting! Didn’t you have a whole post about how much you dislike it? Didn’t you write it less than a year ago?”
Well, yes. All of that is true. All I can say is that the memory of my knitting pain had faded and I was focused on the hat-to-be — perhaps in the same way that a woman will forget the pain of labour in her eagerness to have another child. And much like a woman in labour, there came a point where realization set in, as my text messages with my super-knitter friend Rebecca attest:
So that went well.
Anyway, here is my new hat. Which I crocheted.
Stay tuned for the next time I forget I hate knitting, ETA 8-12 months from now.
Over the years I’ve been slowly (slowly) working on a collection of children’s poems, which I think of as nursery rhyme companions. Some of them are re-tellings or glosses of poems we already know; others are simply written in a congruous style. I’m delighted to announce that The Dirigible Balloon, a wonderful webzine that curates children’s poetry, has just published three of them:
Today I finished a baby blanket, for a little “probably a girl but they’re not totally sure so we’re not officially announcing it” who is arriving in early January — but, more to the point on my end, whose shower is this Saturday. I started a bit later than I had intended, and so needed to put in some very dedicated crocheting time in the evenings to finish before the deadline. But finish I did, and here it is:
This was an attempted reprise of the honeycomb blanket I made a year or so ago. I used the same pattern, and the same yarn — but I hadn’t noted the yardage of the skeins. Apparently this yarn (Lion Brand Scarfie) is now sold in a different size! Last time it took almost four skeins to make the blanket; I stopped this one after using about 2 & 2/3rds of a skein, and it’s much bigger than the first. I’ve got plenty left for my stash, at least.
The colourway I used this time is “silver / cream” and I adore it. Grey is a very underrated colour, and I would totally wear a cardigan or winter accessories made with this yarn. Scarfie is a washable wool-acrylic blend, and it was worked up with a K (10.5 mm) hook.
It’s fall! Chilly, leafy, busy busy busy fall. Since the beginning of September Anselm and Perpetua went back to school, we resumed all extracurricular activities, I relearned how to pack school lunches (can you believe I have to feed these kids every day?), I started a business, we all got covid, and we began our annual holiday gauntlet: birthday, Thanksgiving, birthday, Hallowe’en, All Saints, birthday, Advent, Christmas, phew! Also I started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix and now literally all I want to do ever is watch it while crocheting.
Somewhere in between all that, I read some books… although it feels like I began and abandoned almost as many as I finished, particularly in October. It’s been a month since my bout of covid, and although it really felt just like a particularly bad cold at the time, I’m still struggling with a lot of lingering physical and mental fatigue. It’s not always easy to concentrate on a book, and I find it harder than usual to keep track of plot threads. So there were a lot of books where I read 20-70 pages or so and then put them away, and even more that I checked out of the library and then returned without ever cracking the cover. It was a weird month, you know? But anyway, here’s what I did get through:
Run, Rose, Run (Dolly Parton and James Patterson)
A Life in Parts (Bryan Cranston)
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls (Kaela Rivera)
Babylon’s Ashes (James S A Corey)
Available Light: Poems from the South Shore (Marty Gervais)
The Last Graduate (Naomi Novik)
What If? 2 (Randall Munroe)
The Lincoln Highway (Amor Towles)
Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller)
Ajax Penumbra 1969 (Robin Sloan)
The Golden Enclaves (Naomi Novik)
Mary Poppins (P. L. Travers)
The Invisible Library (Genevieve Cogman)
As You Wish (Cary Elwes with Joe Layden)
The Masked City (Genevieve Cogman)
One of the nice things about the lists above — and maybe this is a consequence of how many books I abandoned — is that I enjoyed every single book I finished over the past two months. Every one! So I can recommend all of them, although I will only single out a few in this post.
First on that list is Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library, which came to me as a thoroughly delightful surprise and was everything my reader-y heart desired. My local library branch had a shelf of paper-wrapped “mystery books” to choose from, and really, who could resist something like this?
Rare books, magic libraries, fairy tales, and steampunk? Oh be still, my beating heart. And there are eight in the series! Eight! Wonder of wonders.
Now, let’s see…
I reread Naomi Novik’s The Last Graduate (the second book in her Scholomance trilogy) in preparation for the release of The Golden Enclaves. I’ve mentioned this series before, and now that it’s complete I recommend it even more wholeheartedly; Golden Enclaves was a remarkably satisfying end to the series. Novik does it again!
The Lincoln Highway is Amor Towles’s latest — he rose to fame with A Gentleman in Moscow, and rightly so. The Lincoln Highway follows young Emmett Watson, who is freshly released from juvenile detention for manslaughter and intends to begin a new life with his eight-year-old brother, Billy. But when he discovers that two of his former co-inmates have stowed away in his car, the story turns into a chase/heist narrative that felt like some version of Ocean’s 11 set in the mid-50s. Be warned, though: the ending is super-duper, unexpectedly sad.
I picked up Mary Poppins (actually an omnibus edition of the first four books) for bedtime stories, but I lost my voice partway though and haven’t gotten back to it as a read-aloud. I did keep reading on my own, however, and I’ve been particularly intrigued by how different they are than the Julie Andrews movie version we all know so well. The broad outlines of the story are the same, and Mary Poppins is still mysterious and magical — but where Andrews’s version is sweetness and light, the Mary Poppins of the books is vain, capricious, conceited, and wild. She is much less Disney’s good fairy and much more the Fae, changeable and fierce. I’m here for it.
Finishing part 4 of this crochet-along marks the halfway point, at least as far as the individual sections are concerned. Time-wise it’s hard to say, as the rows get progressively longer as it grows. But I can really see the size building now, and over the course of part four the blanket went from this:
… to this!
I think I’m going to have to start turning it on the diagonal from now on, if I’m going to keep using this same chair for staging. But anyway, here is part four, which again added a lot of that lovely Helen Shrimpton trademark texture — albeit of a subtler type than in the last few sections. No bobbles, puffs, beads, or popcorns here:
I’m having a terrible time trying to get a picture that captures this section properly. Oh well. These colours are a little bleached out from the sunlight, but you can see the rows pretty well; two green and blue bands made with stitches worked in front and behind each other, green star stitch in the middle of those, two rows of plain dc with my base colour (the navy), and then the top section is made with a row of single crochet, a row of fans, and then alternating single and triple crochets in and around the fans, plus a row of sc to finish it off. Phew!
I didn’t do too much counting this time around, trusting that things would work out OK given that I know I started in the right place. Was this foolish? We’ll all find out when I get to part five! I’ve heard from other crafters that it’s a bit of a doozy, so… we shall see. I’ll let you know how much I regret my decisions on this round.
This project hit a much-anticipated milestone as I got toward the end of part four: it’s finally big enough to keep me warm while I work on it!