I think I’m on a roll because I’ve shown up for two Unraveled Wednesdays in a row! A big thank you to Kat for hosting this weekly roundup for knitters and readers. Today I’m sharing an update on my Spark Cardigan and three more finished books.
I really enjoyed last week’s comments because so many people thought the sleeves for my Spark cardigan were actually socks — and I can totally see why you all thought that, ha! I finished the sleeves and have made an effort with the body. Just like with my last Spark Cardigan, I’m amazed by how quickly this project knits up – it’s magical! The best part of this pattern is that the sleeves are knitted first, so there’s no sleeve island to worry about at the end. I’m pleased with how the main color (KP Wool of the Andes in Gull) plays with the contrasting yarn (KP Chroma in Lupine).
Friends, I’ve been bitten by the knitting bug again. I’m trying not to get out of control and stretch myself out of proportion. I still want to focus on books and reading this year, but seeing as I’ve already finished over 90 books in 2021, I don’t think I’ll suffer from a tiny shift in focus. And then again — this is where I come undone. I start to think that I can, in fact, tackle it all and then crash and burn. So: I’m forcing myself to focus on one project at a time, one day at a time.
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller
I was thrilled to see Claire Fuller shortlisted for the Women’s Prize this year. And I was very excited when this was finally released in the US and I could start reading! It is well written, vivid, and has an interesting plot: When their mother dies, 51 year old twins Julius and Jeanie find that their lives are not as they seemed. Despite believing they’d been living in their cottage rent-free since children, they learned that their mother had massive debts they’d known nothing about. As the story goes on, the truth untangles itself in heartbreaking ways.
It took me a while to sink into this story and I’m not sure why. I probably only finished it because I want to read all of the books shortlisted for the Women’s Prize, but I’m really glad that I pushed through. I felt much more compelled to pick it up each evening as I got further along in the story. 3.5 stars, which I’ll round up to 4 on Goodreads.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
“Father loved the fact that a lilac only blossoms after a harsh winter.”
I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read Lilac Girls! This was my second effort with it – the first was right after my third baby was born and some of the storylines were too emotional for me as my body raged with hormones, despite reading tons of WWII fiction over the years. This was a powerful story of survival, family, and friendship. It includes storylines about a woman living in New York at the French Consulate and working to get the French people out of the country, a Polish teenager working for the Resistance and who ends up in Ravenbrück, and a female doctor who works at Ravensbück and performed heinous experiments on the political prisoners.
In the last several years, I’ve started looking for novels with storylines from the German perspective. I’m endlessly fascinated with the German mind at that time – how everyday citizens were able to justify their country’s actions (or not) and how their own pain and fear made it easier for Hitler to carry out his mission. The author cleverly introduced us to the German doctor before she went to work at the camp, which gave us some insight on her ability to do that work: she desperately wanted to be a surgeon her entire life and working at Ravensbrück would be her only opportunity given her sex and the times. That time period was heartbreaking in so many ways.
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
“I didn’t know how many habits I had that centered on drinking take-out coffee until I wasn’t allowed to buy it. Each time I craved it, I had to stand in the moment, pay attention to what had triggered the craving, and change my reaction.”
“But something I had learned time and time again was that every small change you make pays compound interest. It helps you make another change, another mind-set shift, another decision to live a new way.
Every once in a while, I need to pick up a book about living with less, decluttering, and simplifying my life. It’s kind of like a booster shot for my constant decluttering efforts. This one is about a young woman who spends a year simplifying her life by living with less. It’s not a how-to manual or a checklist, but a memoir of her own experiences. She’s young and comes from a life of relative privilege, and I was worried that I’d be annoyed by her story and find her vapid and conceited. Surprisingly, I found her story to be refreshing, honest, and interesting. She had a year full of ups and downs, managed to stay sober, save a lot of money, and learn what she really needs in order to survive. In fact, she was able to leave her stressful job and make a living by being a freelance writer — something she’d always wanted yet worried that she wouldn’t be able to afford. This was an inspiring story in many ways and I’m excited to get my hands on her next book: Adventures in Opting Out.
Another 3.5 star book for me, given that I found it a little repetitive, that will round up to 4 on Goodreads.
Friends, I probably won’t publish anymore blog posts this week. Matthew is on vacation! I plan to be back on Monday with pictures of my last two planner spreads because I didn’t write up a post about last week’s. Until then: stay cool, stay safe, and take good care!
Your knitting is absolutely awesome! Thanks for the books reviews, I’m stopping at the library while running errands, I’ll see if they’re available. Have a lovely time with Matthew at home!
Thanks Gretchen! His vacation has been wonderful so far – it’s so nice to have him around in the evenings! I hope you find a book that you can enjoy… good luck!
Love seeing another view of your Spark! I really love that Chroma colorway, and the sweater is going to be just so spectacular!
I have read a lot of WWII fiction, but they seem to center mainly on Holocaust stories or resistance/spy stories. I, too, want to read more from the German point of view to understand how such atrocities happened, and I appreciated that perspective in Lilac Girls. I also really liked the fact that LG highlighted the fact that not just Jews were in concentration camps.
Enjoy the rest of your week with the family!
It made me chuckle last week that people thought you were knitting socks, now clearly a cardigan. I love how the contrast yarn looks both blue and purple. It’s been a while since I read Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin on which the film Cabaret was based, but it gave from what I recall an insight into pre WW2 Germany. You might find it interesting. Have a nice family long weekend.
OOh.. thanks for the recommending Goodbye to Berlin. It sounds right up my alley!!
Beautiful knitting! As for thinking you were knitting socks…guilty as charged. 😉 Interesting selection of books. Right now, I’m watching the BBC series “Home Fires,” which goes right along with your interest in WWII. Why do people follow tyrants? A question that goes back to Greek tragedy, and is more relevant than ever today.
:p No worries, of course. I enjoyed all of it! Home Fires is SO good. Just beware: there are only two seasons and the second one ends with WICKED cliffhangers. It actually made me quite angry. I’m watching World on Fire, which was a Masterpiece series earlier this year, and it is set in France, England, Germany, AND Poland — and also addresses so many of these questions. SO GOOD!!
Perhaps there will be a third season? We can hope. I’ll add World on Fire to my to-be- watched list.
I went on a googling frenzy, hoping to prove that there WOULD be a third season of Home Fires — and sadly, it’s not happening. The show is very good and still worth watching… I only warned you so that you wouldn’t get as caught up in the stories as I did!! I hope you love World on Fire.
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Well, that’s disappointing. What were they thinking? Anyway, thanks for the warning. I will still watch the series. But, what the heck.
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LOL! I’m one of the “sock” people. I was trying to read on my phone which is really impossible in the worst way. Far too small. This is a really pretty design. I’ve got a body, and one sleeve done on a sweater, but can’t find the yarn to make the other… have to look for it.
No worries, Bear!! I can totally see why so many people thought that and it really made me giggle when I read all of the comments 🙂 Nice work on your own sweater – you’re nearly done. I hope you find the yarn to finish that second sleeve!
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Year of Less sounds interesting. I am on the list for Claire Fuller’s new book.
Enjoy the time with your husband the rest of the week!
I can’t wait until you read the Claire Fuller book… I’m still thankful that you recommended Bitter Orange to me!
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I was just thinking this morning that I have the yarn to knit that cardigan … not time yet, but soon! I need to decide which version/mods I’m going to use. and woot! for vacation (even one where you stay home!) … enjoy and I look forward to seeing you back next week!
Mary – you’ll fly through the cardigan when you decide to start it. It comes together SO quickly! I can’t wait to see what yarn you’ve chosen 🙂
Your sweater looks very pretty. The contrast is great. Whoa – you have read a good many books this year. Congratulations.
Beautiful knitting, Katie! And I really appreciate your reading reviews! (I am several weeks away from Fuller’s book… and I hoping it moves quicker than it has been! lol Perhaps everyone is having the same start with it as you did!)
Thanks, Kat! You’re so disciplined to keep waiting for the Fuller book. I was so anxious for it that I preordered it on Kindle, ha! It’s probably a good thing that the Women’s Prize pushed back their announcement date because a lot of people are having a hard time getting to that one because it’s so new in the US.