My husband, Jay, will be the first one to tell you that I find it impossible to sit without having something for my hands to do. If my hands aren’t busy, I’m probably asleep.
My favorite types of in-front-of-the-TV-watching-a-movie projects are small, the kind that have a distinct beginning, middle and end.
Yarn projects are perfect for this type of endeavor. Like most yarn lovers, I have smaller amounts of lots of colors, and I developed a crocheted hat pattern that I dubbed “The Haven Hat” to use them up. I donate them to our local homeless shelter of the same name.
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.
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.
I was out of the house early this morning to grocery shop and my first stop was at this great store in Norwich, Vermont called Dan & Whit’s. They are doing something very special this holiday season, and I’m planning to write about it over the next couple of days. But we’re going to start with hats.
Haven Hats, to be exact.
There’s a homeless shelter on Route 5 in White River Junction called the Upper Valley Haven. It’s an amazing place. They’re part of the Dan & Whit’s story so you’re going to learn more about them.
Back to the hats.
When you’re a maker, someone compelled to create with her or his hands, you have to have a place for your stuff to go. Some people are content with letting their creations pile up in totes under the bed.
But most of us need a reason to create.
I write books for people to read. I make quilts for people with Parkinson’s Disease. And when I’m itching to feel the pull of yarn between my fingers, I crochet.
I’m not a master crocheter and don’t have any desire to be. I just love the meditative quality of repeating stitches until there’s a hat or a scarf or a pair of slippers where there used to be a ball of yarn. So I gravitate to simple patterns, the kind you can make on autopilot.
I developed a hat pattern that I named the Haven Hat pattern because I make them to give to the Upper Valley Haven. (See, this all connects.) I put it all together in a PDF and if you crochet or know someone who does, I encourage you to download it, and make a few for someone in need
The picture below was taken in 2011 just before I took a batch of hats to the Haven. We had a lot of great snowball snow that winter.
Author of the Carding, Vermont novels, quilt books, and book publishing guides.