Tag Archives: Books

Revisiting Old Favorites

At some point after the election I wanted something escapist and comforting, so I picked up some Tolkien.  (Laugh all you will at my use of “comforting” to describe a dark and morbid fantasy novel, but hey, it does have a happy ending!)  The Peter Jackson movie versions of the trilogy were released while I was in college, and they were my true introduction to the Lord of the Rings series (excluding an animated version of The Hobbit from my childhood), but once I found the books themselves I was hooked.


While I got a nostalgic kick out of revisiting the Tolkien, I got stuck halfway through the second book in the trilogy (The Two Towers), so I think it’s time to switch to my next reading project.

A good friend of mine recently mentioned that My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead is all the rage (judging by how many people she’s seen reading it on the NY subway), and since I’ve been living under a rock I had to do some quick googling to see what all the fuss was about.  Once it was clear that the focus of the book is revisiting an old favorite of the author’s (Middlemarch by George Eliot, unsurprisingly), our mini-book club of two decided we should start with the original inspiration.  It’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve never read any Eliot, so maybe at age 34 (yes, I’m deep into the mid-30s, folks), it’s about time.


(Did you notice how that post came full circle with the “Old Favorites” theme? My high school English teacher would be proud – ha!)



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A few weeks ago I was stuck in a rut, going around and around in circles about the #pussyhatproject.  By December it had become a well-known fact that knitters around the globe were creating piles of these things to be worn at the Women’s March, planned for January 21st, the day after Inauguration Day here in the United States.  Day after day I was seeing them pop up in my Instagram feed, on Ravelry, and on Twitter, but I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon.  There were concerns that the hats would take away from the seriousness of the issues at stake, or that they were too infantile and silly, or that the purpose of the march was vague, unclear, and unlikely to force any policy changes.  Or, and maybe this was just an issue in my own mind, that it would be silly to make hats for people that they would never wear again.  (I apologize, it’s just the pragmatist in me.)

Then I decided I would make hats for a few of my friends, just as a gesture of support in a political climate that may soon see some disappointing policy changes for women.  Then I thought, “Well, I do like pink,” and then I found myself at my local yarn store (LYS) wandering the rows in search of anything pink that would knit up in a flash.  


Ultimately, I ended up knitting three pussyhats, all in super-bulky yarns, and one almost-pussyhat for myself.  (I’ll leave the details of that one for my next post, but it’s the darker hot pink one in the picture above.)  I had come home with a skein of Madelinetosh A.S.A.P. in Beach Bonfire (pink with black speckles) and Malabrigo Rasta in Porrinho (pink and purple variegated), and immediately jumped on Ravelry to find patterns to suit both.  I used the Super Cat Hat for the Malabrigo Rasta version since I was pretty confident in 40 stitches around being a good fit (having just knit a Vermonter with the same stitch count), but for the Madelinetosh version I went with 52 as my cast-on number (stolen from another free pattern for a simple super-bulky hat called Calzetta), because it was clear that not all super-bulkies are made alike.  In addition to knitting up at a smaller gauge, the Madelinetosh was much bouncier and had quite a bit of drape, while the Malabrigo had a ton of structure.  


All three hats in action (from L to R: Madelinetosh A.S.A.P, striped version, Malabrigo Rasta)

I fussed a lot about getting the fit right on all these hats, which was probably not necessary, but I was so determined to give these ladies gifts that were worth wearing again, or at least cherishing as a nice memory.  After knitting the two versions with a single yarn each, I had scraps leftover, so I eeked out one more by knitting the brim with Malabrigo, and then striping the two yarns until I ran out.  Since the Madelinetosh was thinner, I held it with a strand of Cascade 220 in a dusty pink to keep the gauge fairly even.  The colors were actually such a good match that you can barely tell it isn’t just a slightly more variegated colorway of Rasta.  


Documenting the day to avoid “alternative facts”: from L to R: striped version, Madelinetosh

As I was barreling through these knits, it occurred to me that the Pussyhat Project was an extremely smart and clever idea – the pattern is unbelievably simple, especially if you do the version that’s in the round (see the KitKat hat, not officially the pussyhat pattern, but essentially the same thing).  Cast on, knit 2-3 inches of ribbing, switch to stockinette, knit to a length of 7 or 8 inches, three-needle bind off.  I think the original pattern was written to be done flat and seamed, but I honestly think in-the-round is better for beginners, and although some patterns called to kitchener/graft the top, I preferred the three-needle bind off method, both for quickness of execution and for the extra structure, which helps the ears stand up.


March/Block Party in Spokane, WA

The sister march in our little city was calm, peaceful, and jubilant; in fact, it felt like a block party more than a protest.  If anything, it was giant support group for those of us who are unhappy with the outcome of this election, and are gearing up to become more politically active than we’ve been in the past eight years.  Obviously, a march like this is more about building momentum than accomplishing anything specific, and I think it was extremely successful in that respect.

Mostly I loved spending the afternoon with my ladies, and watching them march happily with pink hats atop their heads.  It’s always rewarding to knit for others (especially when you get the chance to see the gifts in action), but for this purpose it felt even more significant.  


Me (on the far-right) and my ladies

I’ll be back in the next post with details about my own hat.  Oh, and if you haven’t read the book in the first photo, We Should All Be Feminists, check it out!  It’s adapted from her TED talk, which can be found here and her novel Americanah is on my short list of upcoming reads.


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Episode 15: Konmari and Everything in Moderation


Looking forward to Spring sewing!

Fancy Tiger Crafts

On my Needles

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Bellows Cardigan by Michele Wang IMG_2675 Husband Socks in Crazy Zauberball

Dovetail Wrap from PurlBee.com with diVé Autumno held double


Palmyre by Nadia Cretin-Lechenne IMG_2632

Elijah! by Ysolda Teague



E-books vs. Physical Books

Currently Reading: Washington Square by Henry James

Finished: Nora Webster by Colm Toibin;  An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell

Movies/TV: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bob’s Burgers, Archer, Broad City, Girls

Is X-Files coming back??

Waiting for:  Veep, Silicon Valley (both on HBO)

Libations: Latest Tea Obsession is Genmai Cha from Peet’s Tea

Coda: I have a tiny baby face/head and CANNOT find glasses that fit. Grrr.

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