Listen & Craft: Simple Fall Knits and Literary Picks

By Olivia Langen

Nothing is more meditative to me than getting lost in an audiobook, knitting for hours on end, and completely losing track of time and space. If you know, you know. If you don’t, consider this your formal invitation to enter the niche, nerdy world of knit lit.

Here you’ll find four extremely customizable patterns for all proficiency levels, alongside four of summer’s most engrossing literary fiction releases to keep you entertained as you knit. If you’ve taken a break from knitting during the hottest months of the year, it’s time to limber up for that wool sweater with some short and sweet projects.

So dust off your knitting needles and queue up some good books — autumn is nigh.

The Cottage Kerchief 

cottage ketchief

Skills needed: stockinette stitch, decrease, single crochet chain

For your fairycore, cottagecore, and/or Renaissance fair needs, this kerchief is quick to knit and easy to style. Start by casting on however many stitches add up to your desired width (mine is 12” wide at the crown), and knit in stockinette. Decrease two stitches on each knit row (one decrease at the start of the row, and one at the end). Do this until you run out of stitches, and bind off.

Make the straps by crocheting two single chains, and stitch them onto two corners of the triangle. If you’ve never crocheted before, don’t worry! Neither have I. The simplest crochet cords and chains are really easy to learn, and they’re great skills to have as a knitter. Crochet hooks are always good to have on hand, anyway, to pick up dropped stitches during a knitting project. Once you bind off, tie up your hair and live out your pastoral milkmaid fantasy.

Your new cottage kerchief is the perfect accessory to pair with Lauren Groff’s enchanting new work of historical fiction, Matrix. Follow the earliest known French woman poet, Marie de France, as she is expelled from her home country and sent to live in a nunnery in England. Set in the 12th century, Groff explores themes of love, hardship, and sisterhood in a way that transcends the nearly one thousand years that stand between us and our protagonist, Marie.

Need another reason to download Matrix? The audiobook edition is narrated by the one and only Adjoa Andoh, who plays Lady Danbury on Netflix’s Bridgerton.

The Phone, Keys, Wallet Crossbody Bag

phone wallet keys crossbody bag
Skills Needed: stockinette stitch, button hole, mattress stitch, crochet cord

This funky little bag is big enough to fit the essentials, and small enough to knit in under a few hours. Work most of it as you would a scarf: First, knit a long rectangle in stockinette stitch (my rectangle was about 5” wide x 12” long). Once you’ve reached your desired length, fold the project onto itself to form a bag shape, and use a mattress stitch to bind together the side seams. The buttonhole on the front flap is optional, but the tutorial linked above makes it pretty simple.

You can knit the strap if you so choose, but the quickest way to wrap up this project is with a crochet cord. This is slightly thicker than a single chain used in the cottage kerchief project.

Get tangled up in the beautiful and complex skein of contemporary New Orleans with Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s latest collection of short stories. These 19 narratives orbit themes of hardship and loss, yet never fail to invoke a sense of humanity and hope. Read by two compelling narrators on audio, the witty and insightful prose of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You is most likely to leave you enamored.

The Scrap Yarn Top-Knot

scrap yarn top knot
Skills Needed: stockinette stitch, increase, decrease

Use this headband to highlight your bangs on a good hair day, and hide them on a bad one. Get started by casting on two stitches. As you knit in stockinette, add two increase stitches once every three knit rows. This will create a gradually tapered effect. Once your headband has reached ideal width, start thinking about when you want to start decreasing. Try to mirror your decreases with the increases you made in the first half of the project. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly symmetrical — since the stockinette stitch tends to curl inwards, the edges will be softened by the time this headband gets on your head.

Wrap the band around your head and tie it in a knot or a bow. The finished product is modeled here by my stunning reading lamp.

In a world where dystopian climate fiction (cli-fi) looks more like reality by the day, Alexandra Kleeman takes a fresh approach to writing about the crisis. Many cli-fi novels depict a fallen society, taking place after our systems have officially crumbled. In Something New Under the Sun, Alexandra Kleeman leans into the contemporary absurdities by projecting a near-future where Hollywood is booming and the markets continue to flourish, now featuring the most popular product: fake water. As grim as this premise seems, Kleeman keeps the story moving forward with a page-turning plot and incisive commentary on truth and fiction.

The Fancy Little Towel

fancy little towel
Skill needed: seed stitch

Drying my hands on this fancy little towel brings me such joy, and I’d like to share that joy with you. This surprisingly absorbent cloth gives you a practical, high-quality product in just a couple of hours. It’s the only project on this list that I’ll specify what yarn you should use: 100% cotton works best for utility and washability. Spice things up with a color gradient cotton yarn to make it look much more complex than it actually is.

If you’ve never knit a seed stitch before, there are only two things you need to know: knit and purl. Cast on an odd number of stitches, making it as wide as a dish towel or as narrow as a face wash cloth, and work the stitches in knit 1, purl 1. These fancy little towels make great gifts, especially when you knit matching sets and tie them up in a bow.

Part of the reason I chose to keep these knitting patterns super simple is because these stories deserve your full attention. In Skinship, Yoon Choi throws you head first into the unique and intricate worlds of her many beautifully-written characters. Read by a full cast of narrators on audio, each short story in this collection focuses on a different Korean-American perspective, highlighting a diverse range of immigrant experiences. Complex intergenerational tensions and deep interpersonal ties shape these stories into lessons that will stay with you long after the audiobook credits roll.

Got the knitties and looking for more listens? Find more audios to Listen and Craft to.