Haven Hat Pattern

Every year at this time, I make a number of these simple hats for donation to our local homeless shelter, the Upper Valley Haven.
HHat-gree-white stripe-closeup-1 for web
I am happy to share this pattern with everyone who loves to crochet. It’s easy and a great way to use up scrap yarn.

Just follow the link below to download your own copy of the Haven Hat pattern.

Haven Hats pattern-12-14-2011

You are welcome to use it to make hats of your own to donate, to wear or to give as gifts. We all need to keep warm.

Troll Towers

I love playing with river rocks. In fact, I believe we all do. Put people in a river with tumbles of stone on the shore or under their feet, and someone will start making a pile of rocks, each smaller than the one before.

My husband and I also collect rocks from the river burbling behind our house. My preference is for flat stones or odd-shaped sedimentary specimens. It is very rare for us to come up from walking around our island or around our swimming area without stones in our pockets.
Free Igneous 2 for blog
Then after we’ve enjoyed them for a while, we decide it’s time to whittle down the collection of the smaller ones and we set them free.
Dragon eggs for Gracie
Jay’s preference is round stones and over the years, my gardens have become the home of his favorites.

But those piles of rocks we make in the river seem to be a universal human manipulation of the environment. We’ve found them on the leg of the Appalachian trail near our house. We see them in rivers all over New England. They have lots of names, troll towers being my personal favorite.

Which brings me to someone fun I want to share with you. Meet Michael Grab, a man who takes troll towers to a whole new level. Here’s a link to one of the videos on his website, Gravity Glue.



The Balm of Work

Haven hats on heads 1 shcom
A chorus of Haven Hats

I remember waking up on a December morning in 1980 to learn that John Lennon had died. It was one of those times when the whole world felt united in grief.

In the days that followed, I read a story about how Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, had already returned to the recording studio and plunged into making an album.

The work, she said, was the only balm that eased her pain, the only thing that made any sense to her.

Work is a funny word, don’t you think? Depending on the vocal inflection we give it when we speak, it can be a word of pride: “That’s my work!” Or it can be a word conveying disgruntlement: “Boy, that’s a lot like work.”

I think, too often, that we give work a negative connotation that it doesn’t deserve. To me, work has become a word of celebration because I express my creativity through what I make whether it’s a book, a dinner, a quilt, a nonprofit organization or a crocheted hat.

My family has lost two way-too-young men in the past month, my cousin Andy Luey (age 60) and my brother Mark Hakala (age 57). Their deaths were shocks to our system, as death is for everyone who loves. Without thinking about it, I realize I’ve plunged into the balm of work as I finish up my second Carding novel, Thieves of Fire, and crochet hats to keep my hands keep busy while my husband and I catch up on Dr. Who via Netflix.

Which brings me to the pictures I’ve posted with this blog. I developed the pattern for these hats a few years ago. I kept it simple because for me, crochet is a meditative process and I don’t want to have to pay too much attention to my stitches. I just want to fly. Here’s a closeup of one of them so you can see the curls I use instead of a pompom on the top of each hat.
HHat-gree-white stripe-closeup-1 for web
I call them Haven Hats because I donate them to our local homeless shelter, the Upper Valley Haven, just before Christmas and if I’ve got more, again around the end of January. Here is a link to the pattern so that you can make them too: Haven Hat pattern

Last year, Dan & Whit’s, the general store in Norwich, Vermont, started a fundraising drive to support the Haven. It took place over the first 19 days of December and by all accounts was a great success, stocking the Haven’s well-used food pantry through Christmas and beyond. This year, patrons of this great store (the inspiration of the Coop in my Carding novels) will be greeted by eight plexiglass snowmen wearing Haven Hats.

I’m also going to be signing copies of my two (yes, two, Thieves of Fire WILL be done by then) Carding novels on December 5. More on this as the time gets closer.

So work, yeah, the balm that gets you through.

Brothers and Friends

I spent the past four days on the Cape with all of my siblings, spouses, children, cousins, aunts and friends to celebrate my beautiful, brave, funny, sensitive and caring brother Mark.

Mark and Sonja Hakala
Mark and Sonja Hakala

I am the oldest of eight children, six boys and two girls. Mark was brother number four, child number five.

All of us love to tell stories, share stories, tell more stories and laugh everywhere in between. Because there are so many of us, quiet is not a word normally associated with the Hakala family. But all of those words, hugs, tears, and laughs were balm to all of our hearts as we mourned our missing brother.

At one point on Thursday, I was getting flowers for our celebration of Mark’s life from all of us siblings. I had a moment of extreme fuzziness when I got to the florist’s. I felt unbalanced, as if the world around me was not real.

Then the clerk asked how she could help and I blurted out “I need flowers. My brother just died.”

She murmured condolences and then helped me put together a bouquet. She asked how old my brother was.

“Fifty-seven,” I said.

“Heart attack?” she asked.


“I lost my brother at 49,” she said. “Heart attack.”

“How long did it take before you didn’t feel like you’d been kicked in the stomach?” I asked.

She looked at me sadly and said, “A very long time.”

So today is the first day of a very long time.

We’re all OK and will be OK. But…

The Wood Is In for the Winter

We’ve had a wonderful autumn here in Vermont. As a friend of mine said, “Best one evah!”
Woodpile for web
Now it’s a race with winter to get the outdoor chores done.

And we got to cross a big chore off our list yesterday—all of this year’s wood is stacked in our bulkhead or in the outside woodshed that feeds our upstairs stove.


Of course, this joy is short-lived because we have four cords of green wood destined for consumption next year on the way.

Also wanted to let folks know that we will be hosting a Piecing for Parkinson’s event at Quail Hollow in West Lebanon, NH this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A daughter wraps her father in a quilt by Bob Johnson
A daughter wraps her father in a quilt by Bob Johnson

We have a lot of donated fabric so you don’t have to bring your own if you don’t want to—just your machine, your favorite sewing tools, a bag lunch and a big smile!!

Now It’s the Oaks

Most folks “from away” think of a New England autumn as the relatively short stretch of time when our trees reveal the colors they’ve been hiding behind their chlorophyll since spring.
Red oak leaves in sun

But the first signs of autumn—or at least the change in seasons—actually begin in early August when the leaves on certain trees begin to take on a yellowish cast.

And then, of course, there’s the August version of solidago (goldenrod) that blooms along the river behind our house.

The first trees to turn on their fall foliage are the birches. Then it’s maples and ashes and the incredible staghorn sumac.
Red:green oak leaves in sun for web

The last to take their star turns are the oaks and beeches.

Usually, our oaks turn from green to a rich coppery brown with not a lot of other colors in between. But in this magical fall, they are revealing the depths of their redness.

There was frost on my car’s windshield this morning when I walked to the end of the driveway to get our newspaper. (Yep, still enjoy my wood pulp and ink with breakfast.) And the predictions are rain for the rest of the week, by the end of which we probably won’t have much left on the trees.

Yellow to brown beech leaves for web

But it’s OK because for this lifelong New Englander, this is truly one of the best falls ever.

Author of the Carding, Vermont novels, quilt books, and book publishing guides.