Welcome to Wednesday! I’m linking up with Kat at As Kat Knits to share what I’ve been reading and knitting lately. I have another big stack of books to share with you and a finished shawl, along with my trusty cup of hot coffee by my side this morning. So please, please! Pour yourself a cup of something warm and catch up with me?
KNITTING THIS WEEK:
I took this picture very late last night so please forgive me for the terrible lighting, but I finished my Ramble shawl! All the details can be found on my Ravelry project page. I chose Capra DK yarn from Knitpicks and debated about using the merino/cashmere mix, but I’m glad I went for it. It is so soft and wonderful. The brioche is squishy and perfect. This was a great project to work on in March while I was narrowing my focus on other crafting interests; because of the complexity of the brioche, this project was never boring nor did it ever feel too hard. It was a lovely and enjoyable knit all the way around.
I’m planning to weave in the ends tonight and give it a good soaking bath. I cannot wait to wrap up in it! Next up: DRK Everyday Sweater (Ravelry link). I hope to swatch tonight or tomorrow. And after that (because one must plan ahead) will be Cloudesley (Ravelry link), which I think will be a lovely spring/summer top. There’s so much to be excited about!
READING THIS WEEK:
My reading high has continued this week. I say it all the time: everything comes in waves with me. Sometimes I’m intensely focused on reading (like I have been the last few weeks) and sometimes I cannot imagine being able to pick up a book. So when the wave is high, I simply enjoy the ride. And I am very much enjoying this reading wave right now!
There are some Buddhist philosophers (a branch referred to as Zen) who say that sometimes a bad thing happens to prevent a worse thing happening,” Dr. Kellet said. “But, of course, there are some situations where it’s impossible to imagine anything worse.” page 160
Mary recommended Life after Life to me after reading End of Days and I’m so glad I prioritized it and got to it quickly. How do you even describe it? It is a series of overlapping realities, in which Ursula lives her life again and again as she tries to reach her true destiny. It was incredibly well written and beautifully shaped. This novel brings up so many questions about what would have happened throughout history if the right person was in the right place at the right time. “History is all about ‘what ifs'” (page 473).
I loved so much about this book. Much of it takes place in various parts of Europe during WWII – totally my thing. Ursula’s cozy childhood home is called Fox Corner and is the stuff of fairytales and Kate Morton novels (which are sort of the same thing?). She lived so many interesting lives and it was an incredible journey. It is endlessly discussable and I wish I would have read it with a book group. Why can’t every book be THIS good?? I definitely experienced a book hangover and had a difficult time landing on my next good read.
After Life after Life, I needed something totally different. A Spindle Splintered was recommended by Sarah and I love everything written by Alix E. Harrow, so I decided to go for it. It’s totally different from what I usually read and was refreshing and fun. It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, from the perspective of an irreverent 21 year old, Zinnia Gray. Zinnia doesn’t expect to live past 21 due to a rare genetic disorder that is specific to her hometown. She’s spent her entire life obsessed with the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and, on her 21st birthday, she pricks her finger on a spinning wheel (I kid you not) and is taken through a series of overlapping realities in order to help save another Sleeping Beauty.
This book made me want to go back to school to study folklore and to read a LOT more fairy tales to my own children. I really only know the Disney versions of these stories and am interested in their deep histories. So much fun. Anyway – Alix E. Harrow is working on a whole subversive fairy tale series, so I’m looking forward to more!
A Glass of Blessings was my first Barbara Pym novel in a very long time and I’m disappointed that it took me so long to return to her! This was full of interesting and curious characters. Pym was ahead of her time and managed to bring in topics that were typically whispered about in the 50s. The main character, Wilmet, had to be the most arrogant and self-centered character I’ve ever rooted for. Somehow I really liked her in this novel but think I’d be repulsed by her in real life (I’m sorry to say). She was always reflecting on how wonderful it was that her beauty gave so many people so much pleasure. Ugh! The people in her life often made me laugh out loud and I highlighted so many little lines that made me chuckle (you can see them on Goodreads – another reason to LOVE Kindle). I’m definitely returning to Barbara Pym more often. I’m lightly penciling in Pym novels every other month. Would anyone like to join me?
The Island of Missing Trees was my first Elif Shafak novel and I’m pretty sure it won’t be my last; I’m not sure anything I write can do it justice. Kostas and Defne, teenagers on the island of Cyprus during the 70s, fall in love despite knowing their families would never approve. Their relationship is full of interruptions and fear of being found out.
Fast forward to the late 2010s in London and we meet their teenage daughter, Ada, struggling to understand the loss of her mother and why there’s no contact from family members still in Cyprus.
Wrapped up in this all, is a fig tree. The fig tree was nearly 100 years old before Kostas took a cutting and smuggled it back to London. The fig tree witnessed so much history in Cyprus and held such a deep connection to the humans, flora, and fauna of the island. And now, in London, the tree falls in love with Kostas.
See? I can’t do it justice. But it’s beautifully written, wonderfully structured, and absolutely un-put-down-able.
Bronwyn and I finished another American Girl book this week, Felicity’s Surprise. In this one, Felicity is invited to a royal ball at the Governor’s Palace and she bravely asks her mother for a new dress. Mrs. Merriweather is delighted to sew one for Felicity, but is extremely busy with the Christmas holidays and Felicity’s younger siblings. And when Mrs. Merriweather’s nagging cough becomes more serious, everything in their lives has to be put on hold. Felicity, again and again, learns how important patience is. She steps up and helps with her siblings while her mother is deathly ill and learns to push aside her disappointment about her dress while maintaining a cheerful disposition for those around her. And of course – with a little help from some very good friends, all turns out well in the end.
I enjoyed reading about all of your experiences with the American Girl books a few weeks ago. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who adores them!
I hope your week has been treating you well. The news continues to be heartbreaking and I’m so thankful to have little projects to turn to for distraction. And of course – knitting is so therapeutic. I started working on my Ramble shawl shortly after the invasion of Ukraine and almost think of it as a prayer shawl, considering all of the good energy I tried to fill it with, stitch by stitch. I hope you’re able to find something that brings you joy right now: a walk in the woods, a hot cup of tea, some time at your sewing machine, or cooking a delicious meal. We all need some comfort.
I plan to be back on Friday with a quick update. You can expect flowers and sunrises — something to look forward to, right? I wish you all the best. Stay safe and cozy!