This is my first Unraveled Wednesday in quite a while! I’m joining with Kat and friends to share what I’ve been reading and knitting lately. I took a little break from knitting, but today I’m back with one finished project and one fresh, new sweater on the needles. And first, I have a stack of books from the last week to share with you.

Lullaby Lake by Katrina Charman
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to share a finished read aloud. We attempted another book a few weeks ago that might have been a little advanced for us (Redwall), so we decided to save it for another time and return to this series we’ve been enjoying. We joined our heroes at Lullaby Lake to find another piece of the ember stone. This one had an adorable sloth and water fairies – both of which Bryce enjoyed A LOT!


The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
This is the end of the Little House series. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. This was published posthumously and I don’t think this is the story that LIW would have wanted to tell. She’s now married to Almanzo and living as a farmer’s wife on the prairie. All of the love of the prairie is gone – she’s focused on paying the bills and keeping house. Of course, she’s an adult and a parent now, so it makes sense that her perspective has changed, but I don’t think Laura would have wanted to lose the spark of the prairie. I’m glad I got to read it, but it’s certainly not going down as a favorite in the series.


The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
This is the kind of book I live for. Set at Bletchley Park, it’s full of code breakers, spies, ovaltine, pencils, drafty huts, and beautiful dresses. The atmosphere simply seeped out of every page. It’s about three unlikely friends: Osla, Mab, and Beth. They meet each other after Osla and Mab were recruited to BP for top secret posts. They are billeted together at the home owned by Beth’s parents, and they quickly discover that Beth is a whiz at crossword puzzles – a sure indicator of a top notch code breaker.

Their stories are told in two parallel timelines: the early 40s, just as they begin working at Bletchley, and in the days leading up to Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s wedding. In the latter timeline, the women learn that there was a spy at Bletchley and they call in reinforcements in order to crack The Rose Code — a code that was being worked by a precious supervisor who died of cancer before the war ended – to learn the identity of the traitor.

I couldn’t decide whether to give this 4 or 5 stars. I was leaning towards 4 because there was more romance than I typically like, but I decided on 5 because: atmosphere. I’d definitely recommend this to any WWII fiction fan!


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
“Elwood never ceased to marvel how you could walk around and get used to seeing only a fraction of the world. Not knowing you only saw a sliver of the real thing.”

This novel, mostly set in the 60s, is about a reformatory school in Florida and young boy named Elwood. Elwood, exceptionally bright and passionate, hitches a ride to his first college class. As his ride is pulled over by the police, he quickly realizes that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite his grandmother’s desperate search for help, Elwood is sentenced to The Nickel Academy. Elwood quickly learns how he must act in order to survive his fellow “students” and “teachers.” These young men carried their lessons for survival throughout their entire lives.

I am grateful Whitehead didn’t go into extreme detail when describing the horror these children endured, but he gave us just enough information for us to fill in the blanks. When we discuss systemic racism and debate reparations, this (and The Underground Railroad) should be required reading.


The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
As soon as I finished The Little House series, I began listening to The Birchbark House. I’d been wanting to read it for a long time and was thrilled when this was the Audible Deal of the Day a few months ago. The Birchbark House is a children’s series set in the same time period as the Little House books, but it centers on a Native American family — also in Minnesota, which is where The Little House in the Big Woods was set.

I really enjoyed getting to know this family, who had me laughing and crying. I was hoping to read this with my kiddos soon, but there is one particularly gut-wrenching storyline that makes me think I’ll need to wait a couple of years before I introduce it to them. But on the whole — I really appreciate the balance in perspective this book gave me in relation to the Little House series. And I can’t wait to listen to more of Omakayas’ story!


Knitting

I finished Bryce’s Jubilee hat last week! He’s been wearing it a ton and it’s already super stretched out, but that’s okay. He requested a pointed top like his sister’s rather than the rounded one I did for Colton and he’s enjoyed being an elf. As I neared the top, I began to worry that I’d run out of yarn so I threw in a few gray stripes to just to make sure. I’m glad I did because that string on the right is all that’s left!!

I started a second Spark cardigan. I went into this knowing what modifications I wanted to make. 1) I’m knitting the cuff of the sleeves shorter. The original pattern calls for 5″ of ribbing so that you can fold the ends of the sleeves back, which bugs me about my first effort. This time I’m knitting 2.5″ for the cuffs and calling it a day. 2) I am NOT including the belt or belt loops. I never, ever use the belt from my first Spark and have even snipped off the loops that I sewed on. So I’m skipping that part completely!

This Spark cardigan is going to move much more slowly than my last because I was a knitting machine last summer and fall. That’s okay — I’m going to enjoy the process, no matter how long it takes me (I hope).


Thank you for taking the time to read all of these updates! I’m hoping this week brings more good books and windows of time for knitting. Take care!

13 thoughts

  1. It was a sad day for me when my sons grew old enough to want to read Redwall by themselves and not listen to me reading it to them! That probably happened when they were around 12, and all of us kept reading the many Redwall books. I hope you get to enjoy them someday! I’m going to look for The Rose Code; it sounds like it would be right up my alley. Your Spark colors are beautiful!

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  2. I am getting ready to start a new sweater with a folded cuff and have been waffling on that design feature. I think I will skip it too. that little purple hat is wonderful

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    1. Thanks, Juliann! Bryce is in love with it, which always feels good 🙂 Good luck with the sweater! I think the folded sleeve LOOKS awesome, but I find myself fiddling with the sleeves all the time and want something a little less fussy.

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  3. The First Four Years was always the least favorite of the series — so depressing! But I suppose it’s also the most realistic, because pioneer life surely was much harder than LIW often depicted it. I’m not sure I ever realized the last book was published posthumously!

    I’m glad to hear your good review of The Rose Code. I’ve seen it popping up but wasn’t sure I wanted to read another female WWII spy book just yet. I’m not sure I realized it was set at Bletchley Park, though, so that increases my interest! I am glad you liked(? is that the right word? found worthwhile to read?) The Nickel Boys. It was a real punch to the gut.

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  4. Oh your 2nd Spark looks great! … I never did make mine so it’s in the queue for this fall. and I’m adding The Rose Code to my TBR. It sounds right up my alley, too!

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  5. I’m amazed at what you accomplish with 3 kiddos. Adding The Rose Code to my list . Colson’s book has been on the list a while but I’m not sure I’m ready for the subject matter, just yet. Enjoy your knitting.
    Cheers~

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    1. Thank you!! The Rose Code is definitely easier reading than The Nickel Boys. I checked The Nickel Boys out from the library right after it was published and decided the time wasn’t right to read it then, so I get where you’re coming from. The book will be there when you’re ready for it!

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  6. The colors in the sweater are beautiful – blue and gray, my favorites. The little hat is darling. You are a wise mother with your decision on The Birchbark House. You know your kids best. I enjoyed reading The Birchbark House but never read more of the series. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ll see what’s available at the library.

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  7. Ooo! I am off to find that Erdrich series! Thank you! Also… there is a special kind of joy knitting a pattern again. You have worked out the kinks, you know exactly where you want to go, so now you just can enjoy the knitting! I love your yarn choices… what are they?

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