March 24, 2017

Season 2: Episode 3 - Lingering Over Tea



Shownotes

My new cowl pattern, Flock of Seagulls, is available on Ravelry. There's a handy link in the sidebar!

The One Nation, Under God hat, a free pattern, is also available here.

My St. Patrick's Day scarf knit in Caron Cakes Pistachio is the Latte Scarf, another free pattern on Ravelry.

Kate's yarn can be found at KFrankFiberArts on Etsy. She also hosts the Kitchen Stitching podcast with her mother Karen. If you aren't watching their podcast, go over to Youtube and watch right now!

I mentioned the Yellow Roses shawl by Clothesline Designs and the Caring Cowl by Alexis Winslow from previous KnitRead Pray KALs.

Podcasts I mentioned: The Crafty Toads and The Sampler Girl

Check out Sarah and the Craftivist Collective for some slower, less aggressive approach to activism.

40 Day Bible Reading Challenge by Margaret Feinberg can be found here. I haven't done any other activities on that site, but this challenge for Lent is excellent!

You can enter to win a copy of Proverbs 31: A Life of Truth and Grace by Jessica Mathisen by commenting on this thread in Ravelry. Check out my interview with Jessica in the last podcast.

Give the podcast a listen to hear my review of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonsen, as well as more information about the links above. After listening, please leave a comment and start a conversation!

March 20, 2017

Lifestyle Contradictions: Knitting & Thug Life

Due to unforeseen adventures in home ownership, this month's podcast is delayed until next week. However, I do have a brief update on what I'm knitting and reading this week.

Knitting

I've started a new cowl design using yarn from a new indie dyer, KFrankFiberArts, who is Kate of the Kitchen Stitching podcast. Kate kindly sent me a hank of her superwash merino silk sock yarn to use for this pattern in her colorway Linger. I wanted to create a cowl that works well in spring and early summer, and this yarn is the perfect weight! 

I've incorporated a simple cable pattern that reminds me of small tea roses in a loose cowl that'll keep out the last of the spring chill or enthusiastic air conditioning. Tentatively titled "Lingering over Tea", I hope to publish this for Mother's Day and have it ready for test knitters by Easter.


As you can see from the picture above, I'm also back to cross stitching. This design was in the Spring 2016 issue of Cross-Stitch and Needlework Magazine. I can't resist a pattern with sheep - they will appear on those hills. I still have to concentrate much more on stitching than I do on knitting so I don't have as much time to stitch, but when I do, I enjoy it so much! I learned when I was a child and forgot how relaxing and rewarding this hobby can be.

Reading

I just started a young adult novel that seems to be everywhere. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas gets its name from the first part of the words that make up the acronym Thug Life. Urban Dictionary explains Thug Life this way:

A word evolved by the late Tupac Shakur. Commonly mistaken for a Criminal. Thug Life is the opposite of someone having all he needs to succeed. Thug life is when you have nothing, and succeed, when you have overcome all obstacles to reach your aim.
I'm about a third of the way in to the book. The main character, Starr, witnesses the police shooting of her childhood friend Khalid. Complicating the issue (and that's a complicated issue), is the fact that Starr attends a predominantly white private school but lives in Garden Heights, a predominantly black neighborhood. She is living the definition of thug life as are her family members.


Add that to the fact that this is the second childhood friend Starr's see die, and you have a very difficult but important read. In just the part I've read, characters keep referring to people becoming hashtags and losing their privacy and individuality in their role as victim. I'm sure we've all read those hashtags; how chilling to read a story that humanizes those victims and the people who love them. You can't scroll by or change the channel while reading this book.

A student of mine just finished this, and when I told her I'd picked it up from the libary this week, she told me I had to read it "right now". While I have yet to finish the book, I have a feeling I'm going to be back telling all of you to go read this "right now" too!

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

March 14, 2017

Flock of Seagulls Pattern & Fierce Biblical Women

Knitting

This week, I released another original pattern, the Flock of Seagulls Cowl. While I recognize that those of us that are a certain age now have a certain song playing in our head (and I'm sorry that it will now be there for hours!), the simple cable stitch in the main part of this cowl reminds me of seagulls in flight.



Those little bird stitches require a simple cable stitch every fourth row, but don't be put off! If you've never knit cables (or rarely knit cables), this might be a good pattern for practice. I rarely knit cables but loved this stitch so much, I gave it a go. This makes the pattern just interesting enough without being so complicated you can't do a little Netflix and knit while working on it!

I knit this in MadelineTosh DK in the colors Cove and Antler. Yarn with a good drape in a DK weight is perfect for this pattern. The lighter weight works well for spring when it's cool in the morning and evening but warms up during the day. (As I write this, it's snowing like crazy out my window, but I have faith that spring is coming!).

The pattern in available on Ravelry for $1.99. The proceeds from all my pattern sales go to support my podcast.

Reading

I recently finished Fierce: Women of the Bible and Their Stories of Violence, Mercy, Bravery, Wisdom, Sex, and Salvation by Alice Connor. Not for those easily offended by curse words and feminist views (although the only f word in the book is feminist), these essays take a strong look at Biblical women both in context and as their stories relate to modern culture. While I admit that I thought more than once, "Can a Pastor say that?", I'm so glad she did! As someone who struggles to align the social views I believe are true in my heart with the experiences of people 2000 years ago in the Bible, Pastor Alice's book went a long way to showing me that protest and equality can go hand in hand with acceptance and mercy.


If you, like me, wonder if we've "come a long way, baby" or are still fighting the same fight as women and other minorities fought all those years ago, this book is for you! Pastor Alice is the first author who successfully connected the actions and struggles of Biblical women to modern women for me without forcing me to consider any compromise to my social consciousness. Definitely biblical feminism at its finest!

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

March 7, 2017

Caron Cakes Shawl & an Affair of the Heart

Knitting

My name is Laura, and I'm a Caron Cakes addict. I don't think I'm alone, however (please say I'm not). I've been incredibly busy lately and wanted a fun but mindless knit for weekday evenings. Caron Cakes are certainly fun - when you're getting bored with a color, it changes (much like the weather these days).

This time, I chose Pistachio because I knew I'd be wearing it in March. Ravelry came to the rescue with a simple yet lovely free pattern called the Latte Scarf. I hope to have this done for St. Patrick's Day!


I'm also running a flash sale on my Aspen Winter Cowl pattern because March came in like a lion here at the Jersey Shore. From now until March 12th, you can get this pattern for 99 cents with the coupon code MARCHLION. A handle link is in the sidebar at the left!

Reading

What if Humbert Humbert was accused of murdering Lolita in a book written by Elmore Leonard?

That's my description of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. Released in 2014 to quite a bit of fanfare, the book's sales didn't reach expectations here in the States. I've seen copies on discount racks in Barnes & Nobel since publication, but the book probably reached a new low when I found a copy for $1 at the dollar store.


Now I'm a person who loves to find a good book at a thrift store or in a bargain bin, and $1 isn't much of an investment. Also, on the day I found this copy, I was coming down with a cold and knew I was going to hibernate over the weekend. I wanted a book that would interest me but not require any effort on my part.

This was the book.

Harry Quebert, a writer in the mold of Norman Mailer, is accused of murder when the body of a 15 year old girl who went missing 33 years ago is found on his property in New Hampshire. A manuscript of Harry's masterpiece, The Origin of Evil, is found under the body with the inscription, "Goodbye, darling Nola". 

Harry's protege, Marcus Goldman, arrives at Harry's beach house in New Hampshire right before the body is discovered complaining of writer's block. Goldman published a blockbuster the year before and has a second book due shortly for which he received a large advance but he's yet to write a word. When the body is found and Harry becomes the prime suspect, Goldman's publisher suggests that the investigation of this murder become the topic of Goldman's second book.

Marcus' investigation interspersed with Harry's advice on writing and flashbacks to the summer of 1975 and the murder make up the bulk of the book. At over 600 pages, it's still a fast read and a lot happens including a twist I did NOT see coming with about 100 pages to go. Originally written in French by a Swiss author who spent summers in New England, there's a lot of small town hi jinx and a little social climbing that provides some much needed humor in a mystery that basically involves the relationship between a 35 year old man and a 15 year old girl. 

I really enjoyed this book, and the Lolita aspect is handled very well. There are some fun allusions - for example, Harry's lawyer is named Benjamin Roth (a not so subtle connection to Philip Roth), and Marcus' mother is every Jewish mother in the body of one New Jersey matron. While I can't say I agree with the fantastic reviews from foreign publications all over the cover and front pages, if you want a fun mystery with an unusual twist on a weekend you may not be feeling your best, this book's for you!

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Sometimes I post reviews at Cannonball Read. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!




February 27, 2017

One Nation, Under God Hat Pattern

This week's blog post is slightly different; I have a free hat pattern I'd like to share with my readers and listeners. It's called the One Nation, Under God hat pattern.



I mentioned this in the last podcast episode and explained that the title comes from the Pledge of Allegiance. As many of you know, I'm a teacher, and teachers recite this with their students 180 days a year.

In my school, our principal recites the pledge over the PA most days. He also happened to mention how much he'd like one of my knitted hats earlier this year. (I made one for a teacher I was mentoring who wears it every day; I think my principal was slightly jealous since I've known him much longer than the new teacher!) When I asked about colors, he said he'd really (really) like a red, white, and blue one.

Challenge accepted!

I already had this yarn (it's the same yarn in different colors that I used for "that hat"). Two summers ago, I learned the fair isle technique and thought this was a good way to test my expertise. With good old graph paper at hand, I came up with my star pattern... and wouldn't you know, the number of stitches I decided to cast on was divisible by 13! Perfect since the colors I used reminded me of older flags I've seen in museums and in documentaries.

Since the United States is known as the Land of the Free, I'm offering this pattern for free. All I ask is that you fill out the form below, and the pattern will be sent automatically. I'd like your email address because I plan to start sending a monthly newsletter to blog readers and podcast listeners in the near future. The newsletter will contain blog and podcast updates as well as giveaways, calls for test knitters, and future pattern publications.

The pattern is also on Ravelry where you can find more detail about yarn, supplies, etc. I look forward to seeing many versions of the pattern in the months to come!

Free Pattern Download

* indicates required

Today, I'm joining Teresa at the Really Crafty Link Party. Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Sometimes I post reviews at Cannonball Read. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

February 19, 2017

Season 2, Episode 2: Girl Power!


Podcast Love

I mention three podcasts in this podcast, and I recommend all of them!!

CooCooforCowls with Jillian (another Joisey girl!)
The Crafty Toads with Helen and Mary Beth (two more Jersey Girls)
Tome Time Reading and Knitting Podcast

I've noted the time where each sections starts in parenthesis for the segments below:

Knitting (3:47 minutes)

The Caring Cowl KAL ends on February 28, 2017. Alexis Winslow, the designer, donates the proceeds from the pattern sales to the American Red Cross. I knit mine out of Bernat Dimensions; my version and a number of other versions can be found in the Ravelry group.

I am looking for a few more test knitters for my new pattern, Flock of Seagulls. Knit in MadelineTosh DK, this pattern uses approximately 210 yards of DK weight yarn and does have a very simple cable stitch in the main section. I am not a cable knitter! You only use the cable needle once very 6 rows so it's a good pattern to try cable knitting if you've hesitated to do it in the past!


I'm asking that test knitters finish by St. Patrick's Day (March 17, 2017) and post their finished project on Ravelry when the pattern is finished. A final PDF copy of the pattern will also be provided to anyone who is gracious enough to test this pattern!

I also mention the One Nation, Under God hat pattern I'm working on. Here's a picture of the hat before the fair isle stars were added. This yarn is Briggs & Little Tuffy and Heritage in Red, Cream, and Navy. Come back to the blog next week when I will post a final picture. The free pattern should be released on Ravelry by the end of the month!


Reading (18:00 minutes)



Find out just how much I love this book about 16th century women who ruled Europe - there's way more to the story than Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I!

Bible Study (30:54 minutes)

Please check out my interview with Jessica Mathisen, the author of the devotional Proverbs 31: A Life of Truth and Grace. I am giving away a copy of this devotional to listeners... but you have to listen to find out how to enter to win!

You can find Jessica on her blog, An Immeasurable Joy. The video about her devotional that I mention in the interview can be found here
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In addition to podcasting, every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Sometimes I post reviews at Cannonball Read. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

February 13, 2017

Galentine's Day & Race with a Capital R

Knitting

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I love Parks and Rec so it should come as no surprise that I celebrate Galentine's Day:


For this year's Valentine's Day, I knit a version of the Caring Cowl in Bernat's Dimensions yarn. It's pink, it's squishy, it mimics thick and thin handspun, and all pattern proceeds go to the American Red Cross. What's not to love about this cowl?


There's a Caring Cowl Knitalong going on in the Ravelry group through the end of February. Check out some of the completed projects for inspiration and then share yours for a chance to win one of two prizes!

Reading

In the last blog post, I wrote about The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem and likened the story to dropping Holden Caulfield into 1970s Brooklyn. This is true for the majority of the book. Sure, his parents move Dylan (the main character) to Gowanus during the last gasps of white flight where he is in turns treated well and badly by the black characters that surround him. He eventually makes his escape to an exclusive private college and then to the mostly white environs of Berkeley and the Bay Area.


It's a modernized Holden and his backstory until the last 80 or so pages. Then, the reader CANNOT IGNORE the fact that this book is about Race with a capital R. If it's a coming of age story, it's a dual tale: a white boy in the same circumstances as a black boy escapes his situation, leaving the black boy behind and in jail. In the same way The Catcher in the Rye deals with identity, Fortress also deals with identity in it's most basic form: what do you look like, what do people see when they look at you, what assumptions do they make based on what they see.

Early in the story, Dylan finds a ring that bestows superpowers on the wearer depending on who they are and what point in their life they are in, a nice touch of magic realism... but wait! As a tween and teenager, Dylan, can only fly along the tree lines, never really leaving earth. Mingus (his black friend), is adept at flying until a strong wind blows him off the Brooklyn Bridge. Mingus is at home in his world until outside forces intervene; Dylan is not.

As adults, the ring makes Dylan invisible, and if your familiar with Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, you'll know this twist is a take on that novel. Dylan's color makes him visible; only the ring can make him invisible. Mingus, on the other hand, is always invisible, a character almost always off stage in this story... until the very end.

Like I said in the last post, this book is beautifully written and the New York of the 70s authentic (I was there, trust me), but ultimately, this is a book that forces you, no matter what your color but especially if you are white, to face just how little progress we've really made in this country since that time regarding race. Read it especially if you are privileged and visible in our culture.

On Tuesdays, I Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!