Fun with Spine Poetry

Spine poetry, for lack of a definition, is a creative way to use the books around you to create a poem. To create a poem, you “simply” stack your books with their titles facing out and work top to bottom. I say “simply” because it actually takes a lot of thought and playing around, plus you’re limited by the books that are at your disposal. In other words, if I could walk into the library I would either be overwhelmed by the options or I would be able to find titles that matched what I was trying to say.

Spine poetry falls into a category of poetry known as found poetry. According to Poets.org, this type of poetry takes existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. In other words, found poetry is the literary version of a photo collage.

The point of Spine poetry is to create art without the intimidation of a blank page. Perhaps you end up using a title to create a deeper poem. Perhaps you become inspired and starting using more than the title of a book (ex a entire quote!). Here are some of the poems that I’ve created using my books:

Spines of three books to create a poem, see caption for author and titles
Close your eyes, hold hands (Chris Bohjalian)
Pawn of Prophecy (David Eddings)
Swallow me whole (Nate Powell)
Spines of four books to create a poem, see caption for author and titles
Castle of wizardry (David Eddings)
Stardust (Neil Gaiman)
A game of thrones (George R. R. Martin)
And then there were none (Agatha Christie)
Spines of four books to create a poem, see caption for author and titles
The name of the wind (Patrick Rothfuss)
Lost ocean (Johanna Basford)
I regret only everything (D. Mars Yuvarajan)

Winter Moss Hat Pattern (free)

Winter Moss Hat without pompom and brim folded over twice.

Jump to pattern.

Last October, I applied to be a Blue Sky Maker for Blue Sky Fibers and was invited to join the team. If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while or have read any of my previous posts before reading this one (see Camp Loopy 2019 and Camp Loopy 2020) you’ll know that I have a special place in my heart for Blue Sky Fibers, especially their Woolstok line. Woolstok has a way of screaming out to me whenever I’m wondering a yarn shop or perusing an online store, and when I come across it I find myself distracted by all things colorwork. How could I not be excited when they sent me one of their cool bundles in the mail?

Winter Moss Hat with Pom-pom

Seven colors, that’s how many colors come in a woolstok bundle. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent pouring over Pinterest looking at blue and green images or Ravelry looking for inspiration. One of the Strange Brew knits came to mind, but I wanted to make something that wouldn’t need much more than the one bundle and didn’t find inspiration in the charts found in Anthology. The colors on my table looked so beautiful together, the more I stared at them the more I thought about my fiancé’s homeland, New Zealand.

It’s worth noting at this point, that I have never been to New Zealand unless you count viewing the Lord of the Rings trilogy that was filmed there (I don’t). Despite looking at many pictures of gorgeous scenery, it’s safe to say that there is a little bit of the Shire in my eventual design. It probably took me four or five hours to develop this chart, all the while I was wondering if I would come to hate myself for having more than two colors within the same line.

Winter Moss Hat without Pompom

Chart done, I started swatching to develop the fabric that I wanted and then started playing around with numbers in order to get fit vs fabric that I was hoping for. The final result is this hat! I love how the colors come together to show a sunny mountain day from the side and a snow flake or flower when looked at the hat from top down.

For those of you who are not feeling up to holding more than two colors at a time, I recommend using a duplicate stitch. Honestly, I found holding multiple colors at a time a fun challenge – it helped that you don’t have to hold them together very long!

Now my fiancé and I have different head sizes, but we are both able to wear and enjoy the hat. Since I knit the brim long, when he wears it he folds it over twice and enjoys extra warm ears. When I wear the hat I tuck the brim in, so that about two inches are showing, which makes the hat feel smaller while also keeping my head nice and toasty. Can you tell that our winters are cold?

Please use the hashtag: #wintermosshat so I can see your project!

Hat Pattern

Winter Moss hat with out Pompom and the long brim unrolled.

Sizing: One size fits most adults, decrease or increase stiches by multiple of 20 for a different size.

Recommended yarn: Woolstok Bundle (cool, neutral, or warm), 1 skein of 150g solid color Woolstok

Recommended Gauge: 22 sts x 28 rows per 4 inches

Suggested needle size: US 5 and US 6

Note on sizing: Decreasing your stitches per inch will result in a larger hat, increasing your stitches per inch will result in a smaller hat. My fiancé and I can both wear this hat (I usually wear an adult S/M and he usually wears an adult M/L) due to the brim construction. I push the extra brim inside the hat and he doesn’t need to.

With smaller needles and the Italian Tubular Cast on, CO 120 sts

Join in the round, being careful not to twist

Work 1×1 rib for:

  • 6-8 inches (double fold brim, I did 6)
  • 4 inches (regular fold brimg)
  • 2 inches (no folding)

Switch to larger needle, Knit 1 round

Work 48 row chart (below), changing to double pointed needles or magic loop when needed.

Cut yarn leaving about a six inch tail. Thread the tail through the remaining 12 stitches.

Optional make a pom pom with your leftover yarn.

Chart Key:

  • / k2tog
  • \ ssk
  • ^\ s1k2psso
Pattern chart, see written version below.

Chart Written Instructions Key:

K: Knit

MC: Main color

CC 1-7: Contrast Color (7 total)

SSK: Slip Slip Knit

K2TOG: Knit Two Together

S1K2PSSO: Slip One, Knit Two, Pass Slip Stitch Over

Chart Written Instructions:

To be repeated a total of 6x around

Row 1: [K1 CC1, K9 MC, K1 CC1, K3 MC, K1 CC1, K1 MC, K1 CC1, K3 MC]

Row 2: [K2 CC1, K7 MC, K2 CC1, K2 MC, K2 CC1, K1 MC, K2 CC1, K2 MC]

Row 3: [K3 CC1, K2 MC, K1 CC1, K2 MC, K3 CC1, K1 MC, K3 CC1, K1 MC, K3 CC1, K1 MC]

Row 4: [K1 MC, K3 CC1, K3 MC, K3 CC1, K1 MC, K3 CC1, K3 MC, K3 CC1]

Row 5: [K1 CC1, K1 MC, K3 CC1, K1 MC, K3 CC1, K1 MC, K3 CC1, K2 MC, K1 CC1, K2 MC, K2 CC1]

Row 6: [K1 CC1, K2 MC, K2 CC1, K1 MC, K2 CC1, K2 MC, K2 CC1, K7 MC, K1 CC1]

Row 7: [K1 CC1, K3 MC, K1 CC1, K1 MC, K1 CC1, K3 MC, K1 CC1, K9 MC]

Row 8: [K20 MC]

Row 9: [K5 MC, K1 CC2, K7 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K2 MC]

Row 10: [K20 MC]

Row 11: [K5 MC, K1 CC2, K7 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K2 MC]

Row 12: [K4 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K6 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K2 MC]

Row 13: [K3 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K5 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K2 MC]

Row 14: [K2 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K11 MC]

Row 15: [K1 MC, K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC4, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K10 MC]

Row 16: [K1 CC2, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC4, K1 MC, K1 CC4, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC2, K2 MC, K1 CC4, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC4, K2 MC]

Row 17: [K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC4, K3 MC, K1 CC4, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K4 MC, K1 CC4, K1 CC3, K1 CC4, K3 MC]

Row 18: [K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC4, K5 MC, K1 CC4, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K2 MC, K2 CC3, K1 CC4, K2 CC3, K2 MC]

Row 19: [K1 MC, K1 CC4, K3 MC, K1 CC3, K3 MC, K1 CC4, K4 MC, K1 CC4, K1 CC3, K1 CC4, K3 MC]

Row 20: [K1 CC4, K9 MC, K1 CC4, K2 MC, K1 CC4, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC4, K2 MC]

Row 21: [K20 MC]

Row 22: [K2 CC5, K1 MC, K4 CC5, K1 MC, K4 CC5, K1 MC, K4 CC5, K1 MC, K2 CC5

Row 23: [K20 CC6]

Row 24: [K2 CC5, K1 MC, K4 CC5, K1 MC, K4 CC5, K1 MC, K4 CC5, K1 MC, K2 CC5

Row 25: [K20 MC]

Row 26: [K6 MC, K1 CC7, K1 MC, K1 CC7, K1 MC, K1 CC7, K1 MC, K1 CC7, K7 MC

Row 27: [K2 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K3 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7]

Row 28: [K1 CC7, K3 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K3 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K3 MC, K1 CC7, K1 MC]

Row 29: [K1 MC, K1 CC7, K1 MC, K1 CC1, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K1 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC]

Row 30: [K2 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K3 MC]

Row 31: [K4 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K2 MC, K1 CC7, K5 MC]

Row 32: [K1 MC, SSK MC, K1 CC7, K4 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K4 MC, K1 CC7, K2TOG MC, K2 MC]

Row 33: [K1 MC, K1 CC7, K4 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K1MC, K1 CC3, K4 MC, K1 CC7, K2 MC]

Row 34: [K1 CC7, SSK MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K5 MC, K1 CC3, K2TOG MC, K1 CC7, K1 MC]

Row 35: [K3 MC, K1 CC3, K7 MC, K1 CC3, K3 MC, K1 CC7]

Row 36: [K1 MC, SSK CC3, K1 MC, K1 CC3, K5 MC, K1 CC3, K1 MC, K2TOG CC3, K2 MC]

Row 37: [K6 MC, K1 CC6, K7 MC]

Row 38: [K1 MC, SSK MC, K2 MC, K3 CC6, K2 MC, K2TOG MC, K2 MC]

Row 39: [K3 MC, K5 CC6, K4 MC]

Row 40: [K1 MC, SSK CC6, K5 CC6, K2TOG CC6, K2 MC]

Row 41: [K2 MC, K5 CC6, K3 MC]

Row 42: [K1 MC, SSK MC, K3 CC6, K2TOG MC, K2 MC]

Row 43: [K3 MC, K1 CC6, K4 MC]

Row 44: [K1 MC, SSK MC, K1 MC, K2TOG MC, K2 MC]

Row 45: [K1 CC2, K4 MC, K1 CC2]

Row 46: [K1 CC2, S1K2PSSO CC2]

Row 47: [K2 CC2]

Row 48: [SSK CC2]

Top down view of hat pattern.

Baby Patterns I’m Enjoying Right Now

I suppose I’ve hit the time in my life where all my friends (and a good chunk of my family) are having children. While I am not quite ready to have children of my own, it’s very exciting to see pregnancy and birth announcements pop up in my Instagram feed for two reasons: 1) I’m happy for them! 2) I get to knit for them.

Is it fair to say that I’m happy I get to knit for them? Baby items, as it unfortunately took me way to many years of knitting to learn, make for amazing projects. For starters, they don’t require a ton of yardage. This means that I can use up a special skein of fingering weight that I’ve been saving or purchase new yarn without the price tag that comes with making an adult sweater. While I would recommend a washable fiber, what this really means is that baby items are the most economical things to knit — other than socks of course.

Next, they provide an avenue to work complicated stitches, simple stitches, and everything in between. Want to knit cables? There’s a pattern for that. Want to knit colorwork? Pattern for that. Lace? Pattern for that. Plain garter or stockinette? There’s a pattern for that too. Actually there are thousands of options for each one of those.

Both of the above reasons point directly to my third reason for enjoying to knit for babies: the time that it takes to knit a baby item is short. Want to try a new yarn or technique? You’re not committing to a giant project!

Pattern’s I’ve knit and enjoyed:

  • French Macaroon by The Noble Thread — I’m currently halfway through this one and “patiently waiting” for the yarn I’m using to come back in stalk. More on that in a future post…
  • Flax Light by tincanknits — I can’t even begin to discuss how much I love this “basic” sweater pattern. I’ve knit it a total of 7 times, twice of those were adult sizes
  • Flax by tincanknits — Literally the same pattern as above but written for worsted weight! I love this one for when I knit for bigger kids, but it create a snuggly fabric for younger ones as well
  • Gingersnap for Bigger Kids by Kristen Rettig — Rettig also has a free version of this pattern, but the paid version comes with so many size options I couldn’t resist.
  • Barley by tincanknits — Yes to quick baby hats, they’re such a great use of leftovers!
  • Rye Light by tincanknits — You know what else is great for leftovers? Baby socks. I think these were done in a matter of hours and I used leftovers from my Lava Lake Shawl.
  • Bearly Bonnet by Pure Stitches — Trust me things that have ears make little ones look 10x cuter, plus they add a little bit of something you don’t knit everyday.
  • Harvest by tincanknits — Actually now that I think about it, I’m not sure I ever got a picture of my niece in this one. Still, it knit up fast!
  • Knit Four Points Baby Blanket by Purl Soho — My only complaint is that you need to either pick up stitches or seam. I went with seaming because I’m apparently anti-picking-up-stitches.
  • Simplest Baby Blanket by Paige Scudder — Shameless plug for my own design, sorry not sorry.
  • Crochet Beginner Blanket by Heidi Wells — I adjusted the stitch count on this to 101 and ended up with a stroller blanket.
  • Marley by tincanknits — Yes, I love tincanknits for baby patterns… but I’ve made this one in larger sizes too and always enjoy casting it on again. Unlike the blanket I designed, it’s a rectangle shape.

Patterns that are on my “to-knit-eventually” list:

  • Garden Gnome Hoodie by Knitting Expat Designs — For starters, it’s a Gnome inspired hood. But also, I love the optional textured stitches and would love to see a little one wearing this in the fall.
  • Fox mittens by Eva Norum Olsen — I love these and have had them as a favorite for a while now. Plus, you have so many baby-child sizes to choose from.
  • Octave or Octavie by imawale imawale — This will be the project that I learn how to double knit on. I already know.
  • Dancing T-Rex sweater by Natalie V — Do I really need to say more than “Dancing T-Rex”?
  • Veggie Patch Cardigan by Lisa Chemery — Not sure if it’s the name or the texture stitches that speak to me on this one. Usually anything with buttons is too much pressure for me to take on. After all, it’s hard enough to select the perfect yarn, now I have to pick buttons too?
  • Easy Puzzle Blanket by Purl Soho — So many colors! Although, somehow I imagine that I would have the same problem that I had with their four point blanket…
  • Hosenmatz by Mayumi Kaliciak und Antje Litzmann — Why haven’t I ever knit baby pants before? Honestly, I think I’m holding out for my future children with this one.
  • Pepita by Martina Behm — I think this one focuses on a very specific age bracket and season, but I love it just the same.
  • Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster by Rebecca Danger — I’ve saved so many knit toy patterns and have yet to make any. Perhaps these will come into play more as all of the babies that I’m knitting for get older?
  • Shark Attack Lap Blanket by Angie Hartley — Honestly, I want one of these for myself…

In the interest of not making this post much longer and acknowledging that you might like to see the projects that I’ve been working on, I used a tag to make my baby/kid knits have their own bucket. You can view that search at this link if you are signed into ravelry: https://ravel.me/8odg0l

February Book Club: Next Year in Havana

A young woman wearing a sheer sleeved princess cut reddish pink dress, a pearl necklace and a heather in her hair on a turquoise couch. Her dress fades into the Havana city line.
Next Year in Havana, By Chanel Cleeton

The cover art for this month’s book is so beautiful, the fancy pink dress providing a stark contrast against the empty city line. The image provides a a lot of insight into the book, foreshadowing that I might have noticed if I had been paying enough attention.

Over all, I enjoyed Next Year in Havana, though I have to admit that I’m bias towards Elisa’s story and wanted more of it. To live with a character whose world is being turned upside-down. Where promises are being broken and hope is all that you have. My heart broke for Elisa when she learned the news that her fiancé didn’t make it back from the mountains, further still when Marisol learns that Elisa’s father had neglected to tell her that he had helped him out of prison.

As Marisol traveled to Cuba and began to piece together her grandmother’s (Elisa’s) story, I couldn’t help but long for the chapters that provided us with insight from Elisa’s perspective. The historical context was a romantic, or at least as romantic as a country on the brink of rebellion can be.

When Marisol fell in love, I couldn’t help feel a twang of irritation. On the one hand, it was clear that Chanel Cleeton (author) was trying to mirror the future with the past. On the other, I didn’t need Marisol to fall in love in order to experience what she experienced. Louis could have been someone who was just a friend (of either gender) and Marisol could have still felt a duty to help.

Then we learned the truth about Pablo being Marisol’s grandfather and the duel love stories held a little bit more power. Would Pablo had helped Marisol if Louis hadn’t been a love interest? Would he have been able to relate to someone else?

Thought less compelling, my heart broke a little bit when Louis realized that he had to leave Havana and when Marisol realized that he would be leaving a piece of his heart with him. Cleeton never told us whether or not this was a torn in their relationship, but the book ends with Hope.

“When Fidel dies, we’ll return.” A saying initially uttered by Marisol’s family, she finds herself saying it when speaking of Cuba with Louis. Despite Fidel’s death, the legacy he leaves behind will be in tact for who knows how long. There are many ways that the Castro’s are still controlling the government.

All in all, Next Year in Havana left me itching for more information, especially because the book takes place right before the “wet foot dry foot” policy was removed. Perhaps someday the limited information on Cuba will grow and I will find myself wandering its shores. Until then, I will do my best to satisfy myself with stories.

I’m not sure how The Bride Test made it onto my “to read list”. Perhaps it was the yellow cover that seemed inviting or the idea that there was a test you had to take before you could become a bride.

A young Vietnamize woman holding a pencil eraser to her mouth as she stares down at a piece of paper.
The Bride Test, by Helen Hoang

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

My Yarn Stash Fits in a Hat Box

When my sister was younger she and my mother were constantly bargaining on the status of her bedroom, which is a nice way of saying that my sister’s room existed in a constant state of a tornado whipped through. To her credit, it wasn’t clothing that hadn’t made it’s way to the hamper or towels that needed to be returned to the bathroom. No, my sister had a way of bringing toys to her room and leaving them there. I’m talking stuffed animals, dolls, clothes for each, Polly pockets, lego kits.. it didn’t matter. I have many memories of playing house in my sister’s room and adding, much to my mother’s dismay, to the mess.

At first, the bargaining was a plea to get us to play in what we called the “back room” or the room that we were very fortunate to have to ourselves as a playroom. The next attempt was a “you have to play downstairs”. As time went on, it was clear that there was something about the cozy bedroom that lent itself to hours of playing no matter how the rules changed. Realistically, this is probably because my sister and I enjoyed sharing a room together growing up and often slept in sleeping bags on the floor so that we could wake up and start playing right away (a habit we unfortunately grew out of as we got older as I developed into a book worm and wanted to spend my mornings reading). In order to find a compromise, my mother invested in hatboxes and my sister swore that if she had the space to put her toys she would clean up after herself.

Brightly colored hat box.
My hatbox

To tell you the truth, I don’t remember if it worked, especially because my sister seemed to grow out of her messiness as she got older. Nights of leaving toys out so that play could be resumed the next morning were replaced with “I can’t sleep if my rooms a mess” and I genuinely don’t remember if the boxes had anything to do with it. Years later, I would claim one of the hat boxes for myself and start building my yarn stash in it.

The point I’m trying to make with this backstory, is that the box I originally choose to start collecting yarn in, the box I still collect yarn in, is large enough to hold three, maybe four, average size stuffed animals. True, this box is well over ten years old and is start to look a little worn, but it’s served me so well over the seven years of serious knitting that I’ve been doing (I’ve been knitting longer than that). With the exception of when I bought three projects worth of yarn this fall, somehow I have never managed to have more yarn than would fit in that hatbox. It’s hard to even count this fall when one of the projects hit my needles right away and didn’t need to go into the hatbox…

I’m not saying that 2020 has completely put in a cramp in my stashing, I actually like having a small stash because it means that I can “cheat” on knitting without feeling bad about it. I can spend time hiking and sewing, going days without knitting without feeling like my yarn is neglected. I can sign up for cast on clubs (like Scratch’s or Simply Sock Co’s) without worrying about what my partner would say (For the record, I’ve yet to feel like I’m not allowed to buy more yarn. He usually tells me to buy more). I can spend time plotting projects and buy yarn specifically for them instead of trying to guess what future me will want to make. Although that’s fun too…

Open hat box with four skeins of multi colored yarn, a piece of cedar wood, a lavender satchel and a sock ruler. See caption for links.
Yarn from top to bottom: Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin, Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Pure 100% Merino Superwash, The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers Moon Sisters, Uschitita Merino Sock. There is also a piece of cedar and a lavender satchel for month prevention and a sock ruler for quick access.

This isn’t to say that I don’t stash yarn, I totally do! Whether money or space, there has always been a barrier between me and buying all the yarn I touch in a yarn store. Either way, I have usually been in a position to regularly patron a yarn store to touch yarn…

With all this in mind, 2020 has totally put a cramp in my stashing and I’m a little stressed out by the fact that my stash currently has four skeins of sock yarn in it! My box looks sad and empty. Despite having a growing number of favorites and queue on Ravelry, I’m not sure what I want to pick up next. True, I can knit four pairs of socks while I think about it, but it takes time for yarn to be shipped! When you add that to it’s harder to pick and combine colors via a web browser, it hard to to be a little cranky that I can’t go into a yarn store and grope yarn. I was banking on attending wool festivals and tent sales in 2020, perhaps 2021 will have some in store for me (or at least 2022).