The Latest: News and Knitting

Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images News / Getty Images

This week's blog post was going to be entirely about the knitting patterns I released into the wild late last week. But this weekend, white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, and through their acts of terrorism, they severely injured and killed people, including Deandre Harris and Heather Heyer. The president has, once again, shown us who he is by failing to immediately denounce the neo-Nazis and their actions. I wish I were shocked.

I've read great pieces about how we can respond to the events in Charlottesville, including this one, and this one, about how to talk to children about it.

But a "what happened in Charlottesville" conversation is a tiny part of the ongoing conversation we (and when I say "we," I mean white people, in particular) need have every day with our children. Hate mongers don't get to decide when I address racism (or any other societal scourge) with Wyatt. So today? We continued reading Rad Women Worldwide. We read about Sophie Scholl and the White Rose. Sophie's story is inspiring, remarkable, and so worth your time. I hadn't heard it before this week. Here are some of the things we discussed in connection with our reading:

  • "Wait. So she JOINED the Nazis? Didn't she know they were bad?" (She joined because she didn't know what they were about. When she learned they were about hatred and inequality, she fought them.)
  • "I'm smiling right now because she was so brave making those papers and leaving them around--she could have been arrested for that!" (YES!)
  • "Do the people that hate always lose? Like in that war we talked about, the one before the enslaved people were free, and in this one, the Nazis lost. But if they lose, they don't always get killed, right? So there are still some of those kinds of people around." (Right. We've talked about them before. People who hate other people because their skin is a different color, for example.)
  • "Hang on. So those Nazi people liked people like them. And I'm white like them, so they'd like me, right?" (Ah. Good point. They might. But they don't like people who stand up for others, either. I know it feels good when people like us. But it's okay, and sometimes it's really good, not to be liked. You're safe. Your dad and I and other grown-ups keep you safe. There are a lot more people (like us) who believe in equality and fairness, and we win because we work together.)

We win because we work together. May it be so.

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In lowercase "n" news, I published some patterns last week. (No, there aren't any good transitions from Nazis to knitting. Trust me. I've looked.) My Coastal Urban Trails Collection includes patterns for three accessories inspired by the rugged beauty (and fog!) of San Francisco’s beaches, parks, and open spaces. All three patterns include two versions: one for a bulky yarn and one for a lighter weight yarn.

There's a hat, Nest: Dove (in O-Wool Chunky Merino) and Hummingbird (in O-Wool Local).

There's a cowl, Strata: Mountain (in O-Wool Legacy Bulky) and Sand (in Sincere Sheep Equity Sport).

And there are also boot cuffs!  Footpath: Stroll (in O-Wool Legacy Bulky) and Hike (in Sincere Sheep Equity Sport).

Nest and Strata use a technique called helix knitting (or helical stripes) (like a barber pole!) in their construction. I have included how-to instructions and a link to a video, too. It's hard for me to believe I've been working on these patterns since the winter; no one ever said I was efficient or prolific in this new occupation. I am pretty excited to see how much people enjoy knitting and wearing them.

(If you're so inclined, each pattern is available individually in my Ravelry store, and the ebook containing all three is 15% off through the end of August.)

 

 

 

How to Knit a Bunny

It has been awhile since Wyatt has participated in the craft exchange with Benjamin.

On his last turn, in February, Benjamin sent Wyatt the most incredible felted owl in a nest. And then, for Wyatt's birthday, he sent Wyatt a teddy bear scarf he had knitted, and he also sent him a copy of Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson.

Since about April, Wyatt has been focused on learning to knit. For anyone who has ever tried to learn to knit, you know how slow and frustrating it can be. Even with the rhyme ("In through the front door, running 'round the back, peeping through the window, and off jumps Jack!"), stuff happens that you truly hate. Stitches get too tight, your head starts to hurt, stitches drop, you find that you have wrapped yarn in weird ways that make no sense, and sometimes, you want to scream, "STUPID JACK!!" and then hurl the whole mess across the room.

But, eventually, it gets easier. Soon, you can do two rows without stopping, and some days you can do four. And eventually, after a couple of months, you find that you are so close to having a square, you just keep knitting until your eyes cross and you're there! It's a square! Then you can wander around the house with your knitted square for a bit, hugging it, pulling it by its yarn tail and pretending it's a pet, all the while celebrating that it's a square, free and safely cast-off from the needles.

But then? It's time to make it into a bunny. (I learned how to make a bunny from the parent craft circle.) Here's how we did it.

You'll need: Bunny-colored yarn, white yarn, knitting needles, a blunt tapestry needle, stuffing fluff, a smallish bunny-butt-sized flat stone, and if you want a face, buttons and some pink yarn for a nose.

Knit a Square:

Take your bunny-colored yarn and appropriately sized needles for that yarn to get a nice cushy square. Wyatt has been using some pretty fluffy, low-twist yarn and size 10 needles. Cast on 20 stitches. Knit row after row, maintaining your stitch count of 20, until you have a square. You can check for square-ness by folding a lower corner up to the needle. When you see one triangle with no left-over rectangle, you'll know you have a square. (Or you can use a ruler and measure until the sides are even.) Cast off your square and dance around!

Make the Bunny's Head and Ears:

Take some masking tape and make a triangle like this. Thread a tapestry needle with a length of yarn about 8 inches longer than the perimeter of the triangle. If you can, choose a yarn that constrasts a little bit with the bunny yarn you've used so that you can see your stitches. Using a running stitch (over-under-over-under with your needle), and starting at the left corner, leave a 3- to 4-inch tail and stitch along the outer edge of masking tape from the left corner up to the top, and down the other side of the triangle. Tear off the two pieces of tape where you have just stitched, then stitch across the hypotenuse on the inside of the remaining piece of masking tape.

When your last stitch meets your first stitch, you're done with the triangle. Take hold of both ends of the yarn and gently pull the yarn so that you cinch the triangle together. Work the stitches and fabric gently because you don't want to break the yarn!

The head will appear at the center of the triangle, and the ears will take shape from there. It's so fun when the head appears! Before you cinch it super tight, stuff it with fluff so it's sort of firm. Then take the remaining yarn and stitch the stuffing hole closed.

Make the Bunny's Body:

Using an overhand (or whip stitch), close the bunny's spine. Stuff the bunny's body with fluff so it's sort of firm. Drop in the flat, bunny-butt-sized stone. Using a running stitch, go around the edge of the hole, leaving a tail of yarn at the beginning. Cinch the hole closed, pulling gently. Tie it and stitch the hole shut.

Make the Bunny's Tail:

Make a pompom. I hate making pompoms so much. There are a ton of online tutorials for how to make pompoms. Have a look around and see which one you like. (We go with the two cardboard donuts technique. ) Maybe you'll love making pompoms. Let me know if you do, because I am in favor of anyone but me making them. Trim the pompom to the size you like and then stitch the pompom to where the tail should be.

Finishing:

Weave in any loose ends and trim them. If you want, stitch on buttons for eyes and a little triangle for the nose.

Take some pictures of your bunny before you send it to your friend. Finally, cast on a new square to start a bunny for yourself.

Summer Reading

"MO-OM. Why are you SAD? Stop crying!"

Yes, sometimes I cry at picture books. Especially beautiful ones, at a page where a dad is packing his daughter's stuff into the car so he can drive her out of the city, away to college, and he needs that really useful piece of rope the family relied on years ago when they left South Carolina for New York.

"It just makes me sad to think of when you'll be ready to leave, that's all." (Stifled sob.)

"Stop it, Mom. This is not a sad book."

The callousness of a six-year old can be astonishing. Anyway. This Is the Rope: A story from the Great Migration is wonderful, and if you're me, it's also pretty moving. Wyatt, on the other hand, mostly loved the detailed illustrations, especially the ones of the children. He was also impressed with one of the later illustrations, where the mom has just come home from work and is teaching her daughter the "Miss Lucy" jump rope song.

We've checked out a bunch of books to read, all pulled from the list my friend gave me this spring. Wyatt will be getting his San Francisco Public Library Summer Stride prize in no time!

(My own reading has been put on hold for a bit while I finish a mess of work on some knitting patterns. Next for me is finishing Mo' Meta Blues and then diving into Lincoln in the Bardo.)

What are you reading this summer?