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.

The title of this pattern 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 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!

Galentine's Day & Race with a Capital R


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!


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!

Caring Cowl Progress & Boy Grows in Brooklyn


A new semester started this past week at the high school where I teach. While I love the semester system, that first week is exhausting! I teach 3 different courses, Python, Java, and Web Design. This is the first time I've taught different programming languages at the same time.

(Fun Fact: The programming language Python got it's name from Monty Python's Flying Circus. The creator was binge watching while he came up with the language.)

It's weeks like this one just past that I really need knitting! I started my Caring Cowl for the Caring KAL currently running in the Ravelry group. All proceeds from the sale of this pattern go to the American Red Cross. I saw on the news recently that the American Red Cross is very active right now assisting victims of the recent tornadoes in Alabama, so every little donation helps! 

I'm using Bernat Dimensions yarn not so much for the thick/thin texture but for the colors. Perfect for February! I did alter the pattern somewhat by using a smaller needle - this yarn is knits up too loose with a larger needle - and making accommodation for the small needle size by casting on more stitches. I also started with a purl section because I didn't care for how the yarn curled with my first attempt. This yarn makes a nice scalloped edge most likely because it is machine made and the thick and thin sections are uniform. 

I have another ball of this yarn and will probably use most of it. As much as I love real handspun, this yarn is much more affordable! Also, I think I'll knit this pattern in a standard bulky weight yarn too; it's a quick knit. Please consider joining the KAL in the KnitReadPray Ravelry group!


In the last blog post, I mentioned I had a hard time finding a followup to 2 really good books I read last month. After rejecting ever book in my library TBR pile, I started rummaging through the multiple TBR piles around my house. (Tell me I am not alone in that!) In stack #2, I found a copy of a book recommended to me by a student a few years ago for consideration for summer reading. I never got around to reading it because we selected other books, and it didn't appeal to me at the time.

Now? I love it. And by love it I mean I LOVE IT! The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Letham is the The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay with magic realism, but it's SO MUCH MORE. The story of Dylan Ebdus begins in 1970s Brooklyn, a white boy in a black neighborhood. Early on, his mother abandons the family, and he meets his neighbor, Mingus Rude, another motherless boy. The bulk of the book recounts Dylan's school years, his friendship with Mingus,  and their adventures as Aeroman after Dylan is gifted a magic ring by a homeless man.

The writing is lyrical, poetic even, and the observations spot on. For example, Dylan observes that second grade is first grade just with math. I know! As Dylan moves from elementary school, to middle school, to testing in to Stuyvesant High School, the author's observations regarding the world of children, Tweens, and teens is painfully accurate. This is a coming of age story that places Holden Caulfield smack in the middle of Abe Beam's New York by way of Gowanus.

I just finished the "Underberg" section (the longest) and will write a complete review next week!

UPDATE: The second part of this book review can be found here.

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!