The Feminist Knitter

Last year I had my second piece ever, “The Feminist Knitter,” published in my college’s literary magazine. Now that the publication has run, I’m free to share it with you here! I wrote this in response to the Women’s March 2018 and felt today was good timing to share it with you. 🙂

I don’t have a picture handy of the Pussyhat I made, but I’ll edit this post when I get one. Instead, have a colorful crochet divider:

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The Feminist Knitter

It’s January 20, and women across the country are protesting a year of the Trump presidency. My mom, who was stuck in traffic because of the protests, describes it to me that evening. “There were pink hats everywhere,” she says, busily knitting away on her latest sock project. “This dad and his little boy were wearing them, too!”

We agree that this is the cutest thing. He’s raising him right.

“The hats are cool,” I say. They’re called “pussyhats,” based off a remark that Trump made about grabbing women by that body part. “I can’t believe I haven’t knitted one yet.”

“Me neither,” says my mom.

I decide that needs to change. I was too timid to join the knitting rebellion last year, but now I’m ready to take a stand.

***

The Pussyhat was designed by a group of knitters who wanted to create a visual protest at the Women’s March on Washington. It’s a pink hat with cat ears, hence the name “pussy” hat. The pattern is knitted, and I am a crocheter. It would be easier to adapt the pattern to crochet, and there are in fact designers who have done just that. But I want to challenge myself and make the original knit design.

I scrounge through my yarn drawer and produce a ball of pink yarn. The pattern calls for size 5 needles. I have size 4 and size 6, and am far too cheap to buy another pair. I figure that a bigger hat is better than a too-small hat, so I gamble on the size 6 needles.

The pattern says to cast on 50 stitches. I pull out three arm’s lengths of yarn and begin my long-tail cast on, counting under my breath to the click-clickof the plastic needles. When I reach the end, I survey my handiwork and sigh. It took me ten minutes to accomplish the first row. I could have crocheted that in ten seconds.

But, I remind myself, crocheting was slow at first too. I will never improve if I keep giving up.

***

Nobody thinks of knitters as particularly rebellious. The stereotype is that only old women knit, and for hundreds of years it was “women’s work.” It makes it all the more powerful to have a knit hat be the symbol of the 2016 Women’s March.

I taught myself to crochet when I was 14 years old and quickly fell in love with it. It’s my creative outlet and my comfort zone. When people find out I crochet, they will inevitably tell me: “You should sell what you make!” They don’t realize it’s nearly impossible to make a profit from selling your crafts because nobody is willing to pay for all the time spent. Is our time really worth that little?

The Pussyhat is a way for yarn crafters to say: Our work is worth something.

The Pussyhat is, essentially, a knitted rectangle folded in half and seamed up the sides. This makes it the perfect pattern for a beginning knitter. And I am certainly a beginner.

The first four inches of the hat are ribbed. I am happy to finish this stitch pattern and move onto stockinette stitch, but it only takes me two rows before I realize just how long this is going to take. Each row is barely a centimeter long. I’m going to have to knit hundreds of rows before this hat is complete.

I groan and stretch the fabric to see if it will magically grow.

Then I pick up the needles and keep going – knit one row, purl the next…

***

This hat has become more than just a knitting project for me. I wanted so badly to be part of the Women’s March, but my anxiety kept me inside. Crowds make me panic, which prevents me from marching, but the Pussyhat allows me to be a part of the protest anyway. I can’t be on the front lines of feminism, but I can still make a stand, however small. The world needs all kinds of feminists.

The hat comes together in a series of moments. A few rows knit before bed, a few more between assignments. I finish a book for my English class and pick up my knitting. Critique a classmate’s piece, back to the hat. Since the knitting is so monotonous, I watch the entire first season of Friends. Slowly but surely the fabric grows, and I am delighted.

I notice a twisted stitch twenty rows back, and my inner perfectionist wakes from its slumber. I gingerly drop the stitch until I reach the mistake, untwist it, and ravel it back up again.

My mom finishes her first pair of knit socks, and I cheer with her. We are two crocheters learning to knit – a task that once seemed insurmountable. But a little at a time, we are learning.

I have my first French exam of the term, and the knitting takes a backseat as I frantically review interrogative pronouns. Quand est-ce que je finirai ce chapeau? When will I finish this hat?

***

I finish the last stitch and cut the yarn triumphantly. It is full of imperfections that no one but me will ever notice, yet it still quickly becomes my favorite hat. It is my quiet form of feminism.

My French teacher compliments my hat and asks: Est-ce que vous l’avez tricoté?Yes, I reply, I did indeed knit it myself. And I smile.

I have a long way to go on my knitting journey, just as women have a long way to go to achieve equality. But I have faith that one day we’ll get there, one knit stitch at a time.

Originally published in the Spring 2018 issue of Portland Community College’s Letter and Line. © Claire G.

20BiTeen

I added something to my Etsy shop that I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, and I just realized I never showed you guys! I’m a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and I wanted to make something inspired by it. I saw a lot of really cute mini flags around the internet and decided to do my own take on it ^__^

By the way, the title of this post is taken from good ole Tumblr – last year was dubbed 20gayteen, and they slightly modified it this year to 20biteen. I always love a good pun.

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Rainbowpalooza! Here’s the Etsy link.

These are the most fun things ever to make. The ends aren’t so fun to weave, but it’s worth it for rAiNbOw. I chose some of the more popular Pride flags to start.

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Rainbow/gay flag

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Bisexual flag

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Transgender pride

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Genderqueer flag

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Asexual pride

I’m selling them for $3 each with the option of adding a keychain or a pin back. I’ve already gotten quite a few compliments on the rainbow keychain I put on my backpack. I brought a bunch of these to the craft fair and they all sold out, which made me super happy. I saw teens walking around with two or three pride flags clipped to their belt. Pretty cool. 🙂

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I think they’re pretty cute, but I do really like tiny things haha. But this is a great way to show your LGBTQ+ pride and support. I might do a giveaway sometime with these.

Here’s the Etsy link one more time. I’m about to start a new college term, so this would be a great way to buy me a burrito for lunch… 🙂

What other flags do you think I should make? 🙂

2018.

Somehow it’s New Year’s Eve? How did that happen? I swear each year goes faster. Probably because I’m getting older and each year is a smaller fraction of my life, but it still feels astounding to look back at the year and think, where did it go? 

As far as blogging goes, it was a pretty quiet year on Once Upon a Yarn – only 24 blog posts. I’m moving away from the blogging platform, it seems. Instagram is a much more fun outlet for me lately. If you miss me, you can always come see what I’m up to at @onceuponayarn. 🙂

Here’s the year summed up in pictures.

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First ever craft fair! This was such a fun and rewarding experience. It makes me so happy when my creations make people smile.

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I made significant money from crochet for the first time ever, which feels amazing, as I continue to work on my Etsy shop. I sold a custom dragon like the one above, 10 cactuses and 10 snowflake ornaments to a relative, and of course the things at the craft show…which I’ll post about one of these days. 🙂 It’s hard to make a living off crochet, but it’s nice to make a little extra money doing what I love.

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I miss you, Ruby. ❤

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Went all out for a Halloween party with my friend and his family. Lexa is my favorite character from The 100, and her outfit is so cool!

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I did a lot of #bookstagram, which is such a nice creative outlet. Turtles All the Way Down was my favorite book of the year, and I really recommend it. Bookstagram just makes me happy lately. Pretty pictures of books are so fun to browse and photograph.

2018 Goals

Last year I set some goals for 2018, so let’s see how those went!

1) Expand my knowledge of knitting.
and
2) Knit a sock. (Two socks, preferably.)

Well. I knit one sock. I had a terrible time doing it, though, and I never got around to the second one. Honestly, I just don’t like knitting (the process, that is – I absolutely love how knitted items look!) Crochet will probably always be my craft of choice. I’m still proud of the sock I made, but it probably will never get a companion… maybe I’ll just give it to Dobby. 🙂

3) Post free crochet patterns here again.

I published 4! They were all doll clothes – and it felt good to return to making those. The Barbie Fencing Outfit is my favorite. 🙂

4) Write a novel.

Yes! I wrote 1) the first draft of Song of the Sea, 2) 10,000 words of a contemporary YA novel I’m working on, and 3) most of the first draft of By the Sea. What I have learned is that I really like the ocean, and I desperately need to think of more original titles.

In other writing news, I actually had 2 pieces published in my college’s literary magazine, and I’m really excited about it. One was a poem about my poodle, Ruby, and it’s really special to me to have this small tribute to her. I miss that dog.

FINAL book cover   endless

5) KonMari my life.

Well, I’m trying. It’s a process, but progress has been made, and it’s something I’ll keep working on. It’s so much nicer to have a tidy life.

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It was a rough year, honestly, and one thing I’ve learned is that life is unexpected. You just have to go with the flow. For that reason I’m not making any concrete goals for this year. I just want to see what happens. There are a few things I’d like to accomplish, but it’s not a resolution exactly. I’d like to read 100 books this year and review all of them, even if it’s a short review, because that helps me both as a writer and a reader. And I’d like to work more on my Instagram, both with photography and with making more friends there!

One thing I know is that blogging isn’t the same creative outlet it used to be. Instagram has replaced it for the most part. I’m going on hiatus from blogging for the foreseeable future. I’ll be taking 4 college classes starting next week, and I don’t need the additional commitment of writing blog posts. I’ll probably be stepping back from commenting as well, although I still want to read your lovely blogs. I value you all as my blogging friends. ❤

If you still want to keep up with my shenanigans, I’ll be posting regularly-ish at @onceuponayarn on Instagram. There is a possibility that I’ll post book reviews here on the blog, if you’d be interested in that, rather than disappearing completely. Let me know if you’d like to see those! Happy New Year to all of you, and I hope 2019 treats you super well. What was your favorite part of 2018?

The one with the craft fair

Hello! I’m feeling cheerful because I just finished my last final exam and winter break has officially begun. I figured what better way to celebrate than with colorful crochet? I wrote a 3-page, 7-page, and 13-page essay for various classes and am pretty tired of writing, so this post will mainly be pictures. 😉

I did my first ever craft fair and it was so much fun! My dad’s coworker told him about a holiday bazaar at her kid’s school, and I signed up as a vendor. My dad was kind enough to help me set up and move everything as well as being a calming presence throughout the fair. I’ve wanted to sell at a craft fair since I first learned to crochet at age 14, so it was amazing to check this goal off the list. It was really successful and people said super nice things about my crochet, so I left feeling good. 🙂

Enough blather, onto pictures! Don’t forget that if you like any of this, you can always visit my Etsy shop or shoot me a message for a custom order. 🙂

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I learned a lot from the experience, and I’ll post about it another time so others can benefit from my trial and error. Long story short: anything with eyes and a smile sells really well!

Have you ever sold at a craft fair? If not, would you like to? Tell me all! ❤

Book Review: Rise of the Seer by Brandon Barr #BrandonsBuddies

I’m excited to share an extra-special post with you today! As you know, I love fantasy books, and I’m pretty active in the indie (self-published) author community, both as a reader and a hopeful author. There’s an awesome Facebook group called Indie Fantasy Addicts that I really recommend. I’ve met so many awesome people and discovered new favorite authors through this group. They’re actually doing a reading challenge that just started, and you’re more than welcome to join in!

That’s how I learned about Brandon Barr, an extremely talented writer who sadly is in the final stages of leukemia. The indie author community is banding together to promote his book and help support his family financially, creating #BrandonsBuddies. After hearing this, I bought his book, and I was so happy to genuinely enjoy it. So I wanted to share it with you!

I wish I’d discovered Brandon’s writing earlier. He seems like a wonderful person, and if you can, I’d really encourage you to check out his book and GoFundMe. It’s a great read and for a good cause. Below you can find my review. ❤

About the Book

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A god-gifted young woman is chosen for a grim task – one that will take her beyond the boundaries of her own world. Winter’s chilling visions of the future make clear that her choices will not only affect the success of her mission… but whether those she loves will live or die.

On the distant world of Hearth, Meluscia is the daughter of a dying king. As he wages a bitter war in the north, a growing evil devours the villages of the east. She would turn her kingdom’s forces to face the emerging threat– but first, she must gain the throne… and confront the secret desire that torments her soul.

Though worlds apart, Meluscia and Winter’s destinies are bound together by portals and an ancient prophecy that promises to pull friend and foe together in a devastating collision.

Goodreads | Amazon | 237 pages | Adult fantasy
Where I got it: Purchased the ebook

Review

THE WRITING

I haven’t been this sucked into a book in years. Can’t remember the last time I was so instantly hooked. This book reminds me of Game of Thrones with a little bit of sci-fi thrown in. Brandon Barr’s writing is the perfect mix between simplistic and flowery – it’s pretty writing, but it doesn’t get in the way of enjoying the story. In fact, it felt like I was sucked right into the pages.

THE PLOT

There are two storylines here; Aven/Winter and Meluscia. By the end of the book I’m still not sure how they line up, but I’m curious to see in future books. I liked Aven/Winter’s storyline better, but Meluscia is intriguing too. I tend to find fantasy plots difficult to follow, and this one was no exception. But my reading comprehension is at fault there, not the writing. It’s an intricate plot with a lot of world-building, and I’m really impressed with Mr. Barr’s imagination. Please note that I’d classify this as Adult fantasy rather than YA simply because of more violence (though certainly not worse than Throne of Glass).

THE CHARACTERS

An awesome, varied cast of characters! Aven’s chapters were my favorite. I like his sister Winter; she reminds me of Winter from the Lunar Chronicles (and not just because of her name). Meluscia reads a bit as an anti-hero to me, with some of her voyeuristic tendencies. But I really like how the book explores the requirements of religious celibacy. Meluscia would be a great leader, but she has a really hard time with the idea of being alone for life…which is completely understandable! I’ve never seen this idea explored in a book before, so props to the author.

POINT OF VIEW

Rise of the Seer is written in third person from alternating perspectives – my favorite writing style to read. As I mentioned before, I love Mr. Barr’s writing style and felt I was able to easily connect with the characters. There are some quite hard-to-pronounce names in here, as with most fantasy, and the 3rd person left me wondering how exactly you pronounce Meluscia. I’m going Mel-oo-shuh.

WILL I CONTINUE READING?

Absolutely! I can’t wait to read the next installment. (It just released yesterday, with the third book in January I think.) I’d like to own this series in paperback, too. It really is amazing. I encourage you to give it a try!

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Thank you, Brandon Barr, for allowing me to spend time in your wonderful fantasy world. I heartily recommend this series to any fantasy readers!

Scalloped Shirt for 16″ Disney Rapunzel

Just realized I never finished the series of Rapunzel outfit posts, and that will never do! This is the last pattern for now, but she’s so much to crochet for that I’ll probably do more later. It was so much fun to design doll clothes again – I’ve missed it. Maybe I’ll work on some Ever After High outfits next. 🙂

You can see the other designs for her on my Free Patterns page. There are quite a few Barbie patterns on there, haha. I tend to obsess.

Materials

  • G hook (4.00 MM)
  • Worsted-weight yarn
  • Small snap

Note: I use US crochet terms in all my patterns.

Ah, I miss those summer days.

Pattern

Row 1: Ch 25. Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in next st. *3 sc in next st (mark middle sc), sc in next 5 sts* 3 times. 3 sc in next st (mark middle sc), sc in last 3 sts.

Row 2-3: Ch 1, turn. Sc in each st across, making 3 sc in the marked middle stitch of the “3 sc” from the previous row.

Row 4: Ch 1, turn. Sc until you reach the first 3 sc increase. Sc in the middle stitch. Ch 5, skip the stitches until you get to the next 3 sc increase, and sc in the middle stitch. Sc until you reach the next 3 sc increase and repeat this step. Sc in the remaining stitches. This forms the armholes.

Row 5-7: Ch 1, turn, sc in each st across.

Row 8: Ch 1, turn. *Sc 4, sc2tog* across.

Row 9: Ch 3, turn (counts as first dc). *Sk 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st.* Repeat from * to * until 3 sts remain. Sk 2, dc in last st.

Row 10-12 (or desired length): Ch 3, turn. (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in each chain space across. Dc in top of turning chain.

Row 13: Ch 1, turn. (3 sc, ch 1, 3 sc) in each chain space across. Sc in turning chain.

Fasten off, leaving a long tail for sewing. Sew together the lacy part at the bottom, leaving the yoke open at the back. Attach a snap.

And you’re all done!

All right, back to my finals paper. Sigh. I’d much rather be designing doll clothes.

Thanks for reading! What are you up to this weekend?

Book Review: Neenah Fynn and the Dawn of Summer

Hello lovely readers! It’s been a while since I posted a book review here, so I thought it might be fun to mix it up a bit. I do review a lot of books on my Goodreads, but maybe I’ll post more of them here if that interests you.

Today’s post is about an ARC (Advance Reader Copy), which is always fun. There’s something really cool about reading a book before it comes out. And, okay, I was influenced by the pretty cover.

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About the Book

A school for faeries… An evil queen… And a fight to the death.

“Life as a faerie is supposed to be simple. You go to Endeavour Academy, learn to harness your powers, and gain your wings so you can become an active member in society. Unfortunately, that is not reality for my friends and me.”

Neenah Fynn is a new full-fledged faerie at Endeavour Academy, but learning to harness her powers isn’t as simple as it seems. With rumors that the next-in-line Faerie Queen has come to Endeavour, dark faeries begin hunting students and threats abound from all corners of her world.

When her best friends are thrust into the dark faeries’ path, she must find the strength to fight back. Will she have what it takes to defeat the forces that are trying to destroy her?

Goodreads | Amazon | 284 pages | ebook
Where I got it: I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Neenah Fynn and the Dawn of Summer releases tomorrow!

The Writing

This was a fun read I would classify as middle-grade. The main character is 13. From the back cover blurb, I was expecting older for some reason, but I always enjoy a good middle grade book so I didn’t mind at all. The writing style was conversational and easy to get into. Neenah’s voice felt fresh and unique. It felt nice to read from a younger perspective for a change. It’s been a few years since I was 13, so I can’t really speak to how accurate it was, but she seemed to be realistic.

The Plot

I got strong Harry Potter vibes from this. Neenah goes to a faerie school where she’s sorted into one of four houses. However, this wasn’t an original idea for J. K. Rowling either – what I learned in my Children’s Literature course is that the “school story” is quite a popular genre in British fiction. And there are common tropes within the school story – namely, British schools have “houses” within them – so the Hogwarts houses are just playing off that trope. I didn’t know this before taking that college class, but that information definitely helped going into this book. So while there are similarities to Harry Potter, it’s perfectly fair use because it’s drawing from the school story trope. That being said, the “sorting” did seem a little too similar (I got someDivergent vibes from it as well).

The plot is pretty fast-moving and well thought out. I called the plot twist from 30% in, and was just waiting for the characters to catch up. Since it’s a middle grade novel, though, maybe the target audience won’t catch on as quickly. Overall the plot was well done and drew me in. It ended tidily while still leaving room for future books (much like the Harry Potter series does).

There was no “fight to the death” as promised, which was disappointing. Not sure what that says about me.

Editorial Notes

A clean read, both in content and in editing, for the most part. A few swear words, but the characters are young, so nothing intense. The occasional typo, but not enough to distract from the reading. Also, I read an ARC, so I’m guessing it will be cleaned up in the final version. Quite well-edited.

The Characters

Neenah was a great main character. She was sweet, smart, and cared about her friends. One thing I really appreciated was when she decided she wasn’t ready to date, even though she and another character liked each other. I was flipping out at the mere thought of 13-year-olds dating, because that’s way too young in my opinion. *head explodes* But Neenah was sensible about it. There are some pretty wild names in this book, like Savaraeh, but I always enjoy a fancy fantasy name. (Neenah is a really cute name, and I like this spelling.) There are a variety of diverse characters. There was one scene where a girl is shocked at the thought of another girl being a lesbian, and I didn’t like how it was just a throwaway line (even though the idea is accepted). Maybe future books will see some LGBTQ+ characters. It’s not “mature content” to have a gay character in a children’s book. I hold out hope for future books!

Point of View

Written in first person from Neenah’s perspective, which I think was the right choice for this book. I really liked reading her point of view.

Will I Continue Reading?

I’m satisfied by the conclusion to this book, but I could see reading future ones if given the opportunity. It’s not my preferred genre, so that’s the only reason why I wouldn’t continue. I think my younger self would have adored this book. I wish I could send it back in time to young!Claire. Definitely recommend for readers of middle grade fantasy!

★★★★☆

4/5 stars = really liked it