You’re never too old to trick-or-treat! Take The Witching Hour scarf with you as you dodge the ghouls and goblins. A gentle lace pattern repeat and soft mohair held with merino reflect nicely in the full moon!
Use 2 skeins of fingering weight and 2 skeins of mohair, held together while knitting (about 800 yards total). Pattern includes written instructions and chart.
Pattern includes written instructions and chart.
Yarns used in sample include:
(2) Loose and Complete. 70% Kid Mohair / 30% Silk. Crooked Kitchen Yarn, (lace weight, 2 plies). 465y/425m
(2) Goblin. 100% Merino. Hedgehog Fibres, Skinny Singles (fingering weight). 400y/366m
This pattern is free until 12:01 AM November 1st! Get yours before Halloween ends! Discount appears at checkout on Ravelry.
Yes, I can see into the future. I see yak, wool, and nylon yarn seamlessly forming into a wonderful new shawlette.
The only problem is that I am pushing myself to finish the shawl currently on my needles, my WIP (Work in Progress).
An Fhómhair / Autumn is a new shawl that I am finishing and hoping to release as a pattern by the end of the month. I’m very excited to wear this soft, lightweight shawl in pumpkin shades as the leaves begin to change.
So why am I dreaming of my next project? Why am I envisioning the pattern, the needle size, the dreamy yak/merino blend that feels like heaven?
It’s because I have precogKNITion. We knitters have the ability to see into the future and know what project we will cast on before the current one is finished.
Unfinished Objects (UFOs) are the bane of every knitter’s collection. But I think they are a gift. We are so creative and so excited about our craft that we can’t wait to start the next amazing adventure. Yes, we should enjoy the moment and be mindful with each stitch that ends a project. But we can also be excited by the thrill of the next project.
Studying linguistics and applying it in education makes me look at the world of language with amusement and wonder. Today, I had on Cafe Disco, an episode of The Office. Michael announces to the other workers that “funk is the problem and the solution.”
Funk is the problem and the solution.– Michael Scott
It’s funny that in English we use funk as a descriptor for feeling low, as in “she’s in a funk.” Or it’s a word for stench, as in “this laundry room has a strange funk.” But we also use funk to describe an upbeat type of music or a laid-back, easy feeling. In the 1960’s, the word even took on the meaning of “fine, stylish, excellent” (Online Etymology Dictionary).
We call this linguistic reference, when we are looking at the various ways that one word references various different real-world objects, people, or ideas. Funk as a depressing feeling is the problem; funk as fun music is the solution. The observation on linguistic reference was rather intelligent for The Office’s Michael Scott.
The quote reminded me of my own linguistic funk. I tried to write a chapter a day for a novella and then got debilitating back pain that kept me away from my computer as much as possible.
Maybe I just needed some funk.
Chapter 2: Otro Gallo Te Cantaría
As Arden stared up at the oak, she tried to be strong. Más fuerte que un roble. She was stoic on Lewis’s sidewalk, deciding what to do next.
Lewis had suggested going to the cops, giving a statement at the very least. But he didn’t understand. He didn’t see how tequila spilled out of people’s eyes, how Milwaukee Avenue became a river of blue agave spikes.
So she walked. She walked slowly and deliberately, watching everyone around her as she sidestepped dog walkers and looked for an affordable snack. The overwhelming stench of tequila was all around her, but no one seemed to notice. They carried their Starbucks and walked their dogs like it was any other day. One shop, one little panaderia, had the smell of freshly baked goods wafting out its door. It was a refuge.
Arden stepped in slowly, hesitant to interact with anyone. It was easy enough to ask for a concha and pay the smiling girl. But deciding whether to sit and eat it there was like physical pain. After standing and eyeing the tables for far too long, she decided to just keep walking.
She wondered what flavor the yellow concha was, feeling glad that she had chosen the vanilla one. It was like the Saturday mornings she and her dad would go get donuts before playing tennis. They would make fun of all the weird donuts that never got bought, the ones that were clearly just experiments. They would eat as they schlepped their racquets, balls, and water bottles to the park.
“Why can’t we drive? The park is so far away! I’ll be too tired to play tennis.” Arden saw her younger self whining as if it was yesterday. Thirteen was hard.
“Because walking is good for us. We’ll walk and we’ll be grateful that we even have legs that can walk,” her dad would answer.
Why couldn’t I have complained less? Why didn’t I try to walk with him more, back when he had the energy?
Without realizing how long she had been walking, she found herself at the Devil’s Three-Way. It was the name that she and Lewis gave to the three-way intersection of North Avenue, Damon Avenue, and Milwaukee Avenue. It was hipster central, the hub of amazing restaurants and a lively nightlife. But it was a nightmare when driving. Arden completely avoided it whenever possible.
Yet here she was, a frumpy pedestrian at the Devil’s Three-Way.
She looked up just in time to see the walk light come on. But time slowed as the light changed. Everything froze as she took in each event unfolding. The SUV turning east onto Milwaukee was stranded in the intersection; a shop owner yelled at a homeless guy just inches in front of the SUV; onlookers were filming with their phone cameras; traffic began to back up in every direction; a mom with her infant turned her stroller to avoid the entire scene.
Everything kept moving at this slower pace; even Arden felt one foot slide in front of the other. It was a dance, a choreographed movement where the vehicle inched forward in frustration just as the shop owner punched the homeless guy. More cars inched forward, each one sliding into the next like a line of dominoes as the first one slammed on its breaks. Everyone gasped at the sound of crunching vehicles, the homeless man now face-down on the road.
Arden knew his breath smelled of tequila.
She didn’t stick around to see the ambulance come. She could hear the police already on their way and wondered if the homeless guy being African American would change things. So she walked, like the mom with her infant, like she used to walk with her dad. She found a way around the intersection and threw out the remaining chunk of pan dulce still in her hand. Somehow, she had crumbled it in her fist without remembering.
What if he was White? What if the shop owner had been the Black one? She walked briskly down Damen Avenue, glad to be almost home. But the thoughts kept bombarding her. What if she had intervened and stood between the men?
What if she had just slept in today?
“Otro gallo te cantaría,” a voice whispered in her ear. It could have been the same one telling her she was stronger than an oak, but she couldn’t be sure.
She whipped around, ready to slug some prankster. But there was no one. Even though Wicker Park was alive with yuppie families playing in the park after brunch, there was no one anywhere near her on the sidewalk. There was just a bench.
She fell onto the bench, wondering if this was what a mental breakdown felt like. She remembered her counselor Phyllis’s advice. Breathe. Count. Focus.
As Arden took slow, deep breaths, counted down from ten, and focused on a little yellow hat on a toddler, she began to feel better. She followed the knitting pattern on the wool cap as she slumped. Imagine a string pulling your spine upward, she could remember Phyllis saying. She sat up straighter too.
Otro gallo te cantaría, she typed into her phone. Another rooster would crow for you.
It left her more confused. Why would she hear voices in Spanish if she didn’t even understand the message?
A young woman walked down the sidewalk, speaking Spanish into her phone. She smiled at Arden as she passed by, but dropped her bag as she juggled her phone and coffee. The toothbrush hopped over the deoderant. The pack of gum played leapfrog with with a bag of chips. Arden was quick to jump up and help, quick to grab the bouncing pharmacy items that sprang to life once they were free from the woman’s bag.
“Thank you,” the woman said kindly as Arden handed her the bag. “Dang, he hung up. Thank you so much. Really. I’m such a ditz.”
“You’re welcome. Sorry you lost your call.” Arden was about to keep walking down Damen toward her apartment when she paused and turned back toward the woman.
“Hey, can I ask you something?”
The woman was taken aback, but far too kind to say no. She nodded and offered a simple “sure.”
“I just, well, I noticed that you were speaking Spanish. Would you be able to translate a short sentence for me?”
The woman looked down at Arden’s phone as she held out the phrase she had heard just minutes earlier. Arden studied the woman’s face, the gorgeous skin that seemed to glisten in the brisk autumn air.
“Oh, this is the literal translation. I think it’s an idiom. I don’t hear it much, but it kind of means like, um, it would have been a whole different story, you know?”
Arden nodded as the girl kept squinting and thinking about the strange phrase.
“My name is Arden by the way.”
“Gabi,” she offered as she held out her hand. The two women shook hands and smiled. “You heard that crash just now? So crazy. I guess some guy is waiting on an ambulance.”
“Yeah, yeah. I saw it. I was standing there. I hope the guy is okay.” Arden glanced back toward the intersection, wondering what was happening. “Thank you so much, for the translation. Really. I appreciate it.” Arden smiled warmly again as Gabi waved and moved on.
Gabi walked west, Arden south. The two were headed to different worlds, worlds that collided for just a moment.
What if we had met in different circumstances and become friends? Arden thought to herself. She seems really nice. It would have been a whole different story; otro gallo me cantaría.
Eventually, Arden arrived back at her apartment door and lit sage incense. It cleared away the smell of tequila, the image of the man getting hit in the street. But it also gave her clarity that she didn’t quite know how to take; she realized that the Spanish she was hearing was from the nice Mexican man that died on the train earlier. It was so clear now. She saw his face, his smile. His mouth moved as he repeated the strange phrase.
Lewis had recommended that she take a nice salt bath after going to the police station. She decided to just skip one of the steps and dive right into the salt bath.
“Oh, if only I had never walked to the train stop this morning…” she began. Talking to herself seemed reasonable, as good a way as any to work out her problems.
“… otro gallo te cantaría.” The man was finishing her sentences now. The voice was comforting somehow, like a friend.
Yes, she thought to herself. It would have been a whole different story. But this is the day I have. This is my reality. Here. Now.
The bit of bubble bath that she had added to the water began creating orbs of magic, floating around her apartment like little fairies. “This is my reality,” she reminded herself.
Lewis texted her to see how the visit to the police station went, so she ignored him. She stepped into her bath and slid down into the hot water, wondering if she could add enough salt to make herself buoyant.
What would she even say to Lewis? What would she say to the cops?
“Hi, my name is Arden Oakley and I know who committed murder on the 9:20 train to Fox Lake.” She laughed. She laughed because Oakley was the fake last name she would give, like her favorite street with onion dome churches, like a dead man telling her that she was stronger than an oak. She laughed because she remembered the summer when she turned twenty-one, when she threatened to change her name because her parents wouldn’t pay the rent for her to move in with her boyfriend. She laughed at all of her life mistakes that ran through her mind like a movie reel. The laughter made it a little less painful.
“What if I am más fuerte que un roble? What if he does want me to come forward about his murderer?” She was still talking to herself, but hoping the voice in her head was also listening.
She could see the scene playing out like on her bathroom wall, the man minding his own business as the train moved north and left the city. But this time there was a son, an adult son. “He will want to know,” Arden said aloud.
She thought about going into work on Monday, how the Girl Scouts depended on her work to function as an organization. Sure, it was just bookkeeping, but she liked to think that she was a role model for girls nationwide. Just behind the scenes, like an Oz wizard behind a screen. So I need to do this, right? If I have any integrity at all? she wondered.
And so Arden released the bubbles, dried herself off, and decided to make the phone call.
It took a while to drain the tub with the older building’s plumbing. Plus she just didn’t want to make the phone call. The landline that was there when she moved in was an older phone, rotary and all. It seemed to spin on its own before she even got to it, like it was laughing at her, mocking her. But Arden told herself she was stronger than an oak and dialed the police station.
“My name is Arden Huntington. I have information on the man who was killed on the Metra train this morning.”
Arden stared at the new grocery store with its Starbucks inside and its fancy parking lot, disgust hardly disguised in her frowning face. Death had found its way to Ukrainian Village, dripping off of rooftops and slipping down the storm drains. It was the death of something wonderful, perhaps the death of an authentic neighborhood. There were plenty of the hipster parts of Chicago where she could have rented, but this was the one she liked, the one with onion dome churches.
“I can’t walk down Oakley, Lewis. It’s just too depressing. But then I have to walk by this dumbass chain store. Remember when it was a supermercado? I could get avocados and chile de árbol then walk across the street for pierogi. God, I hate that white people are taking over.”
“Hon, you’re white as as the sky is blue.”
She continued walking west on Chicago, trying to sound interested as Lewis chatted away in her ear about his new espresso machine. She approached Grand Avenue and saw the Metra train platform with the few stragglers out on a Saturday morning.
“I gotto go, Lewis. I’m getting on the train soon. Love you.”
“Love you too, Babe. Kisses!”
As Arden headed across the street toward the Metra stop, she slipped her phone back into her shoulder bag. The neighborhood felt like itself here, buildings abandoned and rundown like they should be. It was authentic, even if it was an eyesore, not yuppies with coffee cups. The new condos on Oakley were just too heartbreaking. She glanced around the Metra stop, noting the police car parked near the staircase. Some things never change, Arden thought to herself, comforted by the ritual.
There was a certain smell that had to accompany this spot. It was industrial and dirty, the scent of sewage and chemicals, to remind you that you’re in a tough city. But today the odor was different. It was like someone had added mortuary to the mix. Embalming fluid to be exact.
The other people on the platform stood like statues, like little robots that took the train as if programmed to do so. Arden watched the mom holding her son’s hand; the mom stared at the morning sky as if it was giving her military orders and the boy sang softly as he drew in the air with one finger. Another passenger, a young man with a backpack, squinted into the cold sunshine, a wool cap covering the earbuds that he used to block out other people. There were a couple women much farther down the platform with a shopping cart, homeless women who sat on a bench together. Arden had seen them there before. They never got on the train and never talked to any passengers. They just sat and complained to each other.
The train approached right on time, 9:20 AM like it did every Saturday. It emerged from the bowels of the city as it left the Loop, stopping at Grand and Western as the passengers adjusted to daylight again. It bothered Arden, the way Chicago trains could so easily switch between underground and above ground. It was like Persephone weaving in and out of her niches without a care. Death. Life. Death. Life. There should be rules for this, she thought to herself.
She began to step onto the train, the one that would take her north to her parents’ house in the suburbs. There was something hard about moving her feet forward, about crossing that threshold. It was the same train she took at least once a month, but this time her feet refused to advance.
Frozen in fear, she heard in her head.
Her body rocked backwards, knocking into the elderly Mexican man behind her. His wrinkled face smiled up at her, his eyes sparkling and blinking like the twinkle lights that Macy’s would put up in a couple weeks.
“Sorry,” she muttered, fleeing toward the stairs. She ran past the cop, kept running up Western Avenue, kept running like she was late. Farther. Farther, through Ukrainian Village, past her apartment. The murals on Division began to bleed together, like Picaso himself decided to shift all the boundaries. The face of Frida Kahlo moved toward her, reaching out from the community center and into her soul.
“Eres más fuerte que un roble,” came a voice from nearby. Arden looked around, her raven black hair whipping around like ribbon. An elderly lady walked slowly with a cane toward the neighborhood’s oldest Italian bakery. Two teens punched each other, joking around in Spanish.
Am I hearing things now?
Reaching into her bag again, she pulled out her phone and sent off a quick text to Lewis. I’m coming over.
Arden kept walking, heading toward Humboldt Park and continuing northwest to Logan Square. She walked like she was escaping demons. She drowned their noise with her earbuds, charging ahead like she was on a deadline. She felt death marching in line behind her.
Waiting for a stoplight to change, she opened Google Translate. Más fuerte que un roble wasn’t something she remembered from college Spanish. It was an idiom. Strong as an oak, like strong as an ox in English. “You are as strong as an oak,” she said aloud as the light changed and the walk sign flashed.
It was mid-October, her favorite time of year. Lewis was planning his annual Day of the Dead party, a hangover brunch for everyone who had partied too much on Halloween. As Arden hit his apartment buzzer, she was sure he was searching Pinterest for new Bloody Mary flavors to spice up this year’s party. She almost felt bad for bringing her negativity into his light-filled apartment.
“What in tarnation took you so long?” Lewis often reverted to his rural dialect when scolding.
“I ran.” Arden pushed past him and dropped her bag on the couch, out of breath. How long was I running? she wondered. She stared blankly out the window while Lewis continued to chide her.
“Ran?” he squeaked. “You should not be walking through these neighborhoods, Lady. Why didn’t you take the El?”
“Oh, like the El is so pleasant?” Arden rolled her eyes as she plopped down next to her bag. Lewis was a few years her senior, just barely in his thirties. He never let her forget his seniority.
His tone changed as he sat in an antique armchair and looked at her through squinted eyes. He squinted when he needed to solve a problem. “Why didn’t you go up to Lake Forest?” he whispered, placing a gentle hand on hers.
“I couldn’t get on the train. I just couldn’t. I don’t know if it was anxiety or what. I just couldn’t make my feet move.” Two tears streamed down Arden’s left cheek as she continued to stare blankly out the window.
“You’re still taking your meds? Still seeing Phyllis every Thursday?”
Arden finally took her glance away from the window and rolled her eyes directly at Lewis this time.
“You don’t need to police my treatments.” Arden looked back out the window as she opened her mouth to speak, but changed her mind. Birds were falling out of trees, or at least that’s what she saw. She wondered how flying was different from falling.
“What? What did you want to say?” Lewis was patient, happy to listen. His partner, James, was out of town and he had the whole weekend to himself.
“I was going to say that I should call my parents or something. They’re expecting me for lunch.” Arden spoke as she rubbed her right shoulder blade. It felt like someone had thrown a weighted blanket on her, like she had to wear it around all day. And no one cared.
Well, Lewis cared.
“Do you think birds ever fall? Like, they just forget to fly or don’t realize they’re not flying?” Arden was still looking out Lewis’s big bay window, focusing on a pigeon that moved in slow motion.
“Hon, call your parents. I’ll make some tea.” Lewis stood up and eyed her as walked toward the kitchen. He tried not to judge her yoga pants and hoodie as he made sure she was calling home.
There weren’t that many numbers in her favorites. Arden found the number quickly, even as the text blurred and swirled. She refocused on the tree outside Lewis’s window and saw a raven this time. Ravens would never fall, she thought to herself.
“Hi Mom, it’s me.” Arden struggled to find the words, but somehow explained that she missed the train and would see them the following weekend instead. Her parents didn’t need the details. Arden didn’t need the same speech about meds and counselors.
A slight breeze came through the window, the chilly October air that made Arden wish she had chosen a woolen sweater instead of her ratty grey hoodie. She watched a squirrel climbing the tree and then realized that it was an oak.
“Eres más fuerte que un roble,” she heard again. It was enough Spanish for one day. Enough of the voices. She knew she had to refocus, perhaps on Lewis and his party.
“Are you planning your party?” Arden yelled into the kitchen once she had her phone back in her bag. She and Lewis had an unspoken agreement that they put their phones away unless it was an important call or text. She slipped off her shoes, realized she forgot socks that day. She thought about how the hardwood floor felt against her flesh.
Blood poured through the panels of hardwood as the cold, dead wood changed her temperature. Or that’s what she experienced anyway, as she got up and walked into Lewis’s kitchen. The hardwood never changed color. The blood seeped into each crack, flowing with the grain of the wood. It was like sap running down an oak. She wondered if Lewis couldn’t see the blood because only she was strong like an oak.
“Yes ma’am! I found this amazing pomegranate Bloody Mary recipe.”
“So, pomegranate vodka?” Arden elbowed her friend playfully and was suddenly very grateful for his lavender chamomile tea. The smell calmed and comforted her. She almost didn’t see the blood covering his hardwood for a few minutes.
“It has just a bit of tomato juice, but yes, mostly just pomegranate and vodka. I might make a pomegranate gazpacho to serve also, like buffet style. What do you think?” Lewis was sipping his own tea as he sat on the bar stool next to their kitchen counter. He looked at Arden and noticed she had focused her gaze on his bedroom television.
“That guy. I bumped into him this morning. He’s on the news?” Arden recognized the Mexican man, the same wrinkled face and twinkling eyes.
Lewis hopped up and walked into his bedroom. He backed slowly away from the television, trying to form an obstruction as Arden leaned to look around him.
“Let me see! What’s the story about?” Arden was imagining the he saved a child from a fire or some such heroic tale. He looked like that sort of character. Never mind that blood was running down the cracks of the floorboards.
Lewis turned around and faced her. He opened his mouth and frowned at the teapot, wondering what to say. The news story had ended and the meteorologist was now showing the new cold front moving in for Halloween.
“He erm, he…”
“What?” Arden was growing impatient, sipping her tea for some focus.
“That story was about the train you were going to take today. That man that you recognized? He died. I think they said he was stabbed.” Lewis was still frowning, trying to gauge how Arden would take the news.
“He died?” she whispered, her tea cup hitting the counter hard. The blood was on her hands now. “I… I think I know who did it.”
If it feels like society is going down the crapper, we need look no further than farmers’ market to change our perception.
I took my daughter to our favorite farmers’ market today and was amazed at how pleasant the experience was. Granted, they have spread the event over a entire park where it was once on just a crowded street.
What we saw was children running through a park, farmers kindly selling us veggies for our dinner paella, lemonade and crepe stands with smiling faces, and dog owners gently tossing treats to their beloved pets. I was delighted to sample the best chai I’ve ever had.
We even stopped and chatted with the Feed My Starving Children booth. (This is our favorite local place to volunteer.) One of the representatives said, “Feed My Starving Children is such a great place to visit. You meet such interesting people and there’s so much hope.” Funny, I was thinking the same thing about farmers’ market.
So I am challenging myself to make hay while the sun shines. I am forcing myself to make the most of each moment, to find joy and gratitude in each moment.
Farmers’ market is such a great reminder of how local food, local artisans, and community kindness can intersect in beautiful ways. As Wendell Berry states,
“Healing … complicates the system by opening and restoring connections among the various parts – in this way restoring the simplicity of their union.”
Our union to each other, to the earth, to our food, and to our community is simple. We let political divides mask this truth, but we see it so clearly at farmers’ market.
At farmers’ market, we remember that we come from the earth. We remember that our food comes from that same earth and from wonderful local farmers. We remember that our librarians sit in the hot sun to promote literacy. We remember that children love to run between rose beds. We remember to make hay while the sun shines.
We are flooded
with life choked out.
And yet there is more:
a tulip collapsed.
We encounter ourselves,
in the Cedar Forest.
we fight it.
We are drenched.
When we pray only for an end–
When even the Willow can’t take any more–
Can we be flooded by hope?