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Posts Tagged ‘hats’

Erie hat pom pom knit table

I used to be quite a prolific knitter.

Especially the first few years I lived in Boston, I was always making something – fingerless gloves for my girlfriends, sweaters for my then-baby nephews and niece, so many hats and cozy cowls for myself. These were also the years of Downton Abbey and Castle, Lark Rise to Candleford and Sherlock and Grantchester. I’ve never been a big TV watcher, but an hour here and there added up to lots of knitting over the years.

And then a couple of years ago, I just…stopped.

We’d moved again, and several of my favorite shows had gone off the air, and I couldn’t really justify knitting myself yet another hat or scarf. I spend more of my evenings running than sitting at home these days, and so the knitting fell by the wayside. But around Thanksgiving, as the hubs and I were watching Modern Family or doing the NYT crossword (possibly both), I realized I had itchy fingers. So I picked up a skein of Madelinetosh sock yarn I’d had sitting around for ages, and I started knitting – just a round or two here and there.

Two months later, I have an Erie hat – cozy and soft. And I decided it was high time I owned something with a pom-pom. (Red, of course.)

It’s been a comfort to have something back on the needles, and to watch the progress, stitch by stitch, round by round. The merino wool feels good in my hands. And when the weather in New England does its schizophrenic thing, I have another way to keep out those biting winds.

I’m not sure I’ll dive back into knitting the way I once did. But I am eyeing the Queensland Beach headband pattern, with some yummy red yarn I have in my stash…

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argo bookshop interior montreal quebec canada

The President’s Hat, Antoine Laurain
This fun novel was a serendipitous find at Brookline Booksmith. It begins with Daniel Mercier, a Paris accountant who finds himself sitting next to President Francois Mitterrand at a restaurant. Mitterrand leaves his hat behind and Daniel takes it home with him – and the most extraordinary things begin to happen. The hat eventually finds its way to several other new owners, who find their lives changed after its arrival. Whimsical, mischievous, clever, and a loving portrait of 1980s France.

Busman’s Honeymoon, Dorothy L. Sayers
I loved my recent reread of Gaudy Night so much that I picked up its sequel, which follows Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey on their honeymoon in a (supposedly) quiet English village. Of course, a corpse turns up soon after they arrive, and our intrepid detectives must solve the mystery. I’d read this years ago, but had forgotten Lord Peter’s delight in quoting writers and philosophers at every turn, and the calm efficiency of his man, Bunter. And as a married woman with a career, I appreciated this sensitive portrait of a fledgling marriage between two strong-minded people. Slower going than Gaudy Night, but rich and rewarding.

I Can’t Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays, Elinor Lipman
I loved Lipman’s novel The View from Penthouse B and enjoyed this collection of her essays on family, writing, friendship and other topics. Lipman is warm, witty, often sarcastic but deeply loving – especially when it comes to her family. Amusing and sometimes insightful, in the vein of Nora Ephron and Anna Quindlen.

The FitzOsbornes in Exile, Michelle Cooper
After her uncle’s death and a Nazi invasion, Princess Sophia and her family have fled to England from their native island of Montmaray. Now living with their aunt – who is determined to marry off Sophie and her cousin Veronica, and mold tomboy Henry into a young lady – Sophie records her hopes, fears and impressions of the London Season. A fun glimpse of the social whirl (including appearances by the Kennedy clan) and a sensitive exploration of a young woman trying to make her way in an unfamiliar world. My favorite of the series.

The FitzOsbornes at War, Michelle Cooper
Bombs are dropping on London, food rationing is taking effect, and Sophie and Veronica, princesses of Montmaray, are doing their bit for the war effort. Espionage, diplomacy and politics live side by side with personal drama in this conclusion to the Montmaray trilogy. Several minor plot elements seemed far-fetched to me, but I love Sophie’s voice and enjoyed following the characters through World War II (and, finally, back home to Montmaray).

The Family Man, Elinor Lipman
A phone call from his newly widowed ex-wife, Denise, turns Henry Archer’s quiet, lonely life upside down. Soon, Denise’s charming actress daughter has moved into Henry’s basement apartment; Denise is setting Henry up with her eligible (gay) friends; and Henry finds himself acting as lawyer to both Denise and her daughter. A fun, modern comedy of manners – occasionally veering into stereotype, but highly entertaining.

Margot, Jillian Cantor
It’s 1959, and The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen (after the book took the world by storm). Meanwhile, quiet Margie Franklin, secretary in a Philadelphia law firm, has a secret. She is really Margot Frank, Anne’s sister, who escaped from the death camps and somehow survived. Cantor presents a compelling what-if story, a nuanced exploration of sibling rivalry (and love), and a sensitive portrait of a deeply wounded young woman. Wistful and moving.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg
Duhigg examines the neuroscience of “habit loops” – how our brains form patterns related to cravings, routines and rewards. He looks at individuals’ habits, then widens his focus to companies (Starbucks, Target and others) and social movements (the Montgomery bus boycott; Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church). Interesting stuff, with some truly disturbing examples.

This post contains IndieBound affiliate links.

What are you reading?

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Late winter knits

After nearly a decade as a knitter and three winters in Boston, I’ve accumulated quite a pile of winter accessories: scarves, fingerless gloves, lots of hats. But as the gray-edged piles of snow linger and the cold temps refuse to rise, I keep knitting more of them. My two most recent projects are getting lots of use.

First we have Rosebud:

rosebud hat

I coveted this pattern for ages, finally bought it and promptly knitted it up in yellow – but it turned out way too big. So I tried again with this lovely purple skein of Madelinetosh Vintage. The colorway is called “Flashdance,” which suggests ’80s neon, but the color is rich and deep. It’s warm and cozy and I’ve been wearing it almost every day. I love the big braid on the side. (Ravelled here.)

My favorite yarn shop, the Windsor Button, is closing (sad day), so I stopped by the clearance sale and picked up a few skeins of yarn. My new gray Fluted Cowl is made of two skeins of Cascade 128 Superwash Chunky. (I wish I’d had three, but there were only two skeins on the shelf.) It, too, is warm and cozy, either worn long or doubled up around my neck. (Ravelled here.)

fluted cowl

fluted cowl

If winter’s still lingering where you are, what are you wearing to keep warm? (And when, for heaven’s sake, will it be spring?)

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1. A batch of Ron’s oaty scones.
2. A wee baby hat for a friend, out of leftover sock yarn.
3. A patch for some jeans, rendering them wearable again.
4. A few new outfits with items I already own.
5. Quite a few blog posts.
6. A patio container garden. (So far: mint, basil and a geranium.)
7. Packing lists.
8. Order out of chaos in our apartment.
9. Lots and lots of wedding decor.
10. A couple of summery salads.
11. Cream of jalapeno soup on a chilly night.
12. Pages of scribbled ideas in my journal.
13. A strawberry-rhubarb crisp.
14. A few simple, healthy dinners.
15. Packages to send to friends.

What are you making these days? (Check out the wonderful stuff happening at 30 Days of Creativity. Inspiring!)

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Since the weather turned chilly in, oh, November or so, I’ve been obsessed with knitwear. Mostly hats and snuggly cardigans and big, cozy cowls and scarves. I find myself staring at people on the T because of what they’re wearing on their heads or wrapped around their necks. If it’s an unusual stitch pattern or a lovely cabled beret, I try to figure out how it’s constructed. I’ve even recognized a couple of Ravelry patterns, knitting nerd that I am, and my wish list for accessories has grown and grown.

As much as I’ve complained about winter, it is a knitter’s dream – the perfect season to knit and wear tons of cozy accessories. (As Abi points out, we actually have time to wear all our cold-weather clothes up here.) And since I now commute on the T (along with half of Boston), my favorite knitted hats are getting even more play.

Slouchy (though not too slouchy) berets are my style of choice, and I have several favorites. So I thought I’d model them for you today.

First up is the Snapdragon Tam – complicated, but oh-so-lovely in Madelinetosh DK (colorway Cedar):

I fell in love last year with a Malabrigo colorway called Paris Night – smoky and velvety and rich. Here’s my Star Crossed Slouchy Beret (Rav link), which works just as well for Boston nights:

And finally, my third-time’s-a-charm attempt to knit myself a black beret. This pattern is called Double Crossed (Rav link), designed by another Katie (an English Katie). A triumph, and so warm.

It’s still chilly/wet/nasty here (Mother Nature is playing an April Fool’s joke on us poor Northeasterners today). I may end up with another hat or two before the winter’s truly out. Any favorite patterns to share?

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handknits in action

My drawer full of handknit hats, scarves, cowls and fingerless gloves doesn’t see too much action in West Texas until November each year, if then. But I’m pulling them out as fall swoops into Boston, so here are some photos of my favorite handknits around town. (You can order your own custom pieces from me – see my Katie’s Custom Knits page!)

This is the Ishbel shawl I made this spring – I broke it out on a chilly Sunday:

I’ve also been wearing my lovely Snapdragon Tam, knit in a color called Cedar:

And I wore both my Star Crossed Slouchy Beret, knit in a colorway called Paris Night (I also have a red one),  and my Princess Mitts on a recent cocoa-drinking afternoon:

(Hard to see the detail, since they’re black, but they are super warm and cozy!)

I’m working on a new cardigan, and am eying a few more hat and cowl patterns (as if I needed any more of either). And Jeremiah has requested another pair of mitts to wear around town. So my needles are busy, but I’d also love to design and knit custom items for you! Email me at katieleigh83{at}gmail{dot}com to place an order.

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Believe it or not, dear readers, the holidays are approaching. Some of you may already be thinking about your Christmas gift lists (others, like me, haven’t even thought about it yet – too much going on in the here and now!). Either way, I present to you a handmade option for your holiday gifts: Katie’s Custom Knits.

I started knitting nearly seven years ago, as a college student, and since then I’ve knitted dozens of hats, scarves, cowls, fingerless gloves, Christmas ornaments and even a couple of sweaters. If you’re looking for a unique, handmade gift to give your loved ones this year, why not order a custom item from me?

All products will be designed and handmade by me, with yarn sourced from either area yarn shops or trusted online suppliers. You pick the product type, color(s) and fiber(s) – I’ll be sure to take preferences and any allergies into account! I’m happy to discuss options by phone or email, or to send you photos of yarn or past projects. Rates will vary by product, taking into account supply costs and labor. Payment will be via Paypal.

You can view some of my past projects below, and on my Katie’s Custom Knits page. (Note: most of those projects were knit from someone else’s designs, so your products will not look exactly like those.) I will accept orders for hats, scarves, cowls, fingerless gloves, and home items such as dish towels and tea cozies. To place an order for yourself or a loved one, or if you have any questions, please contact me at katieleigh83{at}gmail{dot}com.

I look forward to knitting for you!

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