April 21, 2017

Season 2, Episode 4: Interview with Kate Frank



Knitting

In this episode, I chat with Kate Frank of Kathryn Frank Fiber Arts on etsy and the Kitchen Stitching podcast. I mentioned that she's offering a coupon code for any purchase in her shop. That code is knitreadpray for 20% off anything in the shop. If you do buy her yarn, please let me know and I'll provide a copy of my newest pattern, Lingering over Tea,  made with the yarn pictured above!

Speaking of that pattern, if you'd like to receive a coupon code from me for a free copy on Mother's Day, please sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar on the right.

Reading


I review The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson and Isabella of Castile by Giles Tremlett in this episode. Very different books - I loved them both!

Bible Study


I mention the E100 Bible Reading Challenge which I've started as well as the Facebook group for the podcast. As I mentioned, I'd like to get the group going again as a place for Bible and Scripture discussion.

Sentient Moss


The song at the end is Unit Zero, written by my son, Joe Fadem, and performed by his band Sentient Moss. You can find their entire CD on Soundcloud, bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes.


April 17, 2017

Spring Break Reading & Crafting

Spring break came very late this year, and I think students, teachers, and parents all felt the effects of the long stretch of school days since the beginning of January. While my to do list was filled with both life and school tasks to catch up on, I put aside time each day to read and craft.

I am the much better for that!


Knitting

I cast on some Tahki Cora Hand Paint yarn I have had in my stash for ages (and by ages, I mean 5+ years). The colors are very spring even though it was 80 degrees the day I started knitting with this wool and alpaca blend. I stumbled upon this simple Lace Prayer Shawl pattern by Renee Rico while searching for a lace pattern for some fingering weight yarn I wanted to knit up.

Obviously, I'm easily distracted while on spring break!

This pattern fit my needs perfectly: knit a lace pattern that's not too challenging (break after all) with yarn I have in stash in spring colors. I admit, I've had to rip back a few times when I've paid more attention to what's going on around me than the pattern, but it's easy to memorize and quick to correct. It's also rectangular rather than triangular so no pesky increases!

The yarn is from two dye lots which is noticeable if you look for it, but I think I'll keep this one for me. No regrets!

Cross-Stitch

I don't cross-stitch every day, but when I do, I cover a lot of ground! This pattern is called Spring Sheepies from the Spring 2016 issue of Cross-Stitch & Needlework magazine. I stitched those cute sheep this week!


Reading

I requested Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Bachman after I read a number of good reviews on Yarn Along posts. After finishing a long (and I do mean long) biography of Isabella of Castile, I started this book having no idea what to expect.

I love it!

This has to be a movie, and Francis McDormand must be Britt-Marie. I admit, she reminds me of my mother in many ways (although her cheating husband is nothing like my father). Britt-Marie likes things clean and orderly. Britt-Marie loves a good list. Britt-Marie needs a job and finds one in a dying town called Borg caring for a soon to close recreation center. (As a Star Trek fan, this name was ominous, but the author is Swedish and one assumes Borg is in Sweden.)

With the recreation center comes a tribe of misfit children, some young gansters, a shop owner called Somebody, and a kind and slightly awkward policeman named Sven who tries very hard to take Britt-Marie out on a date.  On top of all that, Britt-Marie becomes the coach of the children's soccer team knowing nothing about soccer or, really, children.

She is, after all, as her husband says, "socially incompetent".

I'm reminded of Olive Kitteridge when reading about Britt-Marie so perhaps that's where my casting comes from. If you like a book with unusual characters, subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) comedy, a heroine who has more depth than most, and the best ending I've read in a long time, check out Britt-Marie Was Here.

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

April 4, 2017

#100dayproject

As sad as I am that Ginny Sheller's Yarn Along has ended, I understand her decision and am treating this as an opportunity. Yarn Along provided structure for my new blog when I started a year ago as well as a new audience, but change is good, and this change came at just the right time!


The #100dayproject starts today. What's this project, you ask? It's a challenge to do something creative for 100 days. Most participants do something with art or photography since an integral part of the challenge is posting daily on Instagram.

I am not an artist or a photographer.

But I am a cross stitcher! I recently returned to cross stitch after a very long hiatus. Pattern content has changed since the early 90s; babies, unicorns, and Holly Hobby have been replaced by cottages, buildings, and houses.  Based on this new aesthetic, I've come up with a project that lends itself to my interests and talents.

I'm going to create an original cross stitch pattern based on the Allgor-Barkalow Homestead in my hometown of Wall, NJ. Every day on the way to work, I pass what is probably the only historical landmark in my town. In the 20 years I've lived here, I've never visited the museum or attended an event there.

I'm not even sure why it's a historical landmark.

At the start of the project, I plan to take a picture a day of the Homestead at various times of the day and analyze each with regard to a final image. For example, I need to remove the electrical wires and fire hydrant from the final image. Another issue: the only way to take a "head on" photo of the house is to stand in the middle of the cross street. That's a problem I've yet to solve!

This week, I'll start with photos like the one below and take a tour on Sunday when the museum is open.


If you'd like to follow my adventure, please check out my Instagram feed and the hashtag #100daysofAllgorBarkalow! You'll also find a weekly update here on the blog.

Are you participating in the #100dayproject? Are there any hashtags for this project that you recommend? If so, let me know in the comments!

March 24, 2017

Season 2: Episode 3 - Lingering Over Tea



Shownotes

My new cowl pattern, Flock of Seagulls, is available on Ravelry. There's a handy link in the sidebar!

The One Nation, Under God hat, a free pattern, is also available here.

My St. Patrick's Day scarf knit in Caron Cakes Pistachio is the Latte Scarf, another free pattern on Ravelry.

Kate's yarn can be found at KFrankFiberArts on Etsy. She also hosts the Kitchen Stitching podcast with her mother Karen. If you aren't watching their podcast, go over to Youtube and watch right now!

I mentioned the Yellow Roses shawl by Clothesline Designs and the Caring Cowl by Alexis Winslow from previous KnitRead Pray KALs.

Podcasts I mentioned: The Crafty Toads and The Sampler Girl

Check out Sarah and the Craftivist Collective for some slower, less aggressive approach to activism.

40 Day Bible Reading Challenge by Margaret Feinberg can be found here. I haven't done any other activities on that site, but this challenge for Lent is excellent!

You can enter to win a copy of Proverbs 31: A Life of Truth and Grace by Jessica Mathisen by commenting on this thread in Ravelry. Check out my interview with Jessica in the last podcast.

Give the podcast a listen to hear my review of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonsen, as well as more information about the links above. After listening, please leave a comment and start a conversation!

March 20, 2017

Lifestyle Contradictions: Knitting & Thug Life

Due to unforeseen adventures in home ownership, this month's podcast is delayed until next week. However, I do have a brief update on what I'm knitting and reading this week.

Knitting

I've started a new cowl design using yarn from a new indie dyer, KFrankFiberArts, who is Kate of the Kitchen Stitching podcast. Kate kindly sent me a hank of her superwash merino silk sock yarn to use for this pattern in her colorway Linger. I wanted to create a cowl that works well in spring and early summer, and this yarn is the perfect weight! 

I've incorporated a simple cable pattern that reminds me of small tea roses in a loose cowl that'll keep out the last of the spring chill or enthusiastic air conditioning. Tentatively titled "Lingering over Tea", I hope to publish this for Mother's Day and have it ready for test knitters by Easter.


As you can see from the picture above, I'm also back to cross stitching. This design was in the Spring 2016 issue of Cross-Stitch and Needlework Magazine. I can't resist a pattern with sheep - they will appear on those hills. I still have to concentrate much more on stitching than I do on knitting so I don't have as much time to stitch, but when I do, I enjoy it so much! I learned when I was a child and forgot how relaxing and rewarding this hobby can be.

Reading

I just started a young adult novel that seems to be everywhere. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas gets its name from the first part of the words that make up the acronym Thug Life. Urban Dictionary explains Thug Life this way:

A word evolved by the late Tupac Shakur. Commonly mistaken for a Criminal. Thug Life is the opposite of someone having all he needs to succeed. Thug life is when you have nothing, and succeed, when you have overcome all obstacles to reach your aim.
I'm about a third of the way in to the book. The main character, Starr, witnesses the police shooting of her childhood friend Khalid. Complicating the issue (and that's a complicated issue), is the fact that Starr attends a predominantly white private school but lives in Garden Heights, a predominantly black neighborhood. She is living the definition of thug life as are her family members.


Add that to the fact that this is the second childhood friend Starr's see die, and you have a very difficult but important read. In just the part I've read, characters keep referring to people becoming hashtags and losing their privacy and individuality in their role as victim. I'm sure we've all read those hashtags; how chilling to read a story that humanizes those victims and the people who love them. You can't scroll by or change the channel while reading this book.

A student of mine just finished this, and when I told her I'd picked it up from the libary this week, she told me I had to read it "right now". While I have yet to finish the book, I have a feeling I'm going to be back telling all of you to go read this "right now" too!

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

March 14, 2017

Flock of Seagulls Pattern & Fierce Biblical Women

Knitting

This week, I released another original pattern, the Flock of Seagulls Cowl. While I recognize that those of us that are a certain age now have a certain song playing in our head (and I'm sorry that it will now be there for hours!), the simple cable stitch in the main part of this cowl reminds me of seagulls in flight.



Those little bird stitches require a simple cable stitch every fourth row, but don't be put off! If you've never knit cables (or rarely knit cables), this might be a good pattern for practice. I rarely knit cables but loved this stitch so much, I gave it a go. This makes the pattern just interesting enough without being so complicated you can't do a little Netflix and knit while working on it!

I knit this in MadelineTosh DK in the colors Cove and Antler. Yarn with a good drape in a DK weight is perfect for this pattern. The lighter weight works well for spring when it's cool in the morning and evening but warms up during the day. (As I write this, it's snowing like crazy out my window, but I have faith that spring is coming!).

The pattern in available on Ravelry for $1.99. The proceeds from all my pattern sales go to support my podcast.

Reading

I recently finished Fierce: Women of the Bible and Their Stories of Violence, Mercy, Bravery, Wisdom, Sex, and Salvation by Alice Connor. Not for those easily offended by curse words and feminist views (although the only f word in the book is feminist), these essays take a strong look at Biblical women both in context and as their stories relate to modern culture. While I admit that I thought more than once, "Can a Pastor say that?", I'm so glad she did! As someone who struggles to align the social views I believe are true in my heart with the experiences of people 2000 years ago in the Bible, Pastor Alice's book went a long way to showing me that protest and equality can go hand in hand with acceptance and mercy.


If you, like me, wonder if we've "come a long way, baby" or are still fighting the same fight as women and other minorities fought all those years ago, this book is for you! Pastor Alice is the first author who successfully connected the actions and struggles of Biblical women to modern women for me without forcing me to consider any compromise to my social consciousness. Definitely biblical feminism at its finest!

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

March 7, 2017

Caron Cakes Shawl & an Affair of the Heart

Knitting

My name is Laura, and I'm a Caron Cakes addict. I don't think I'm alone, however (please say I'm not). I've been incredibly busy lately and wanted a fun but mindless knit for weekday evenings. Caron Cakes are certainly fun - when you're getting bored with a color, it changes (much like the weather these days).

This time, I chose Pistachio because I knew I'd be wearing it in March. Ravelry came to the rescue with a simple yet lovely free pattern called the Latte Scarf. I hope to have this done for St. Patrick's Day!


I'm also running a flash sale on my Aspen Winter Cowl pattern because March came in like a lion here at the Jersey Shore. From now until March 12th, you can get this pattern for 99 cents with the coupon code MARCHLION. A handle link is in the sidebar at the left!

Reading

What if Humbert Humbert was accused of murdering Lolita in a book written by Elmore Leonard?

That's my description of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. Released in 2014 to quite a bit of fanfare, the book's sales didn't reach expectations here in the States. I've seen copies on discount racks in Barnes & Nobel since publication, but the book probably reached a new low when I found a copy for $1 at the dollar store.


Now I'm a person who loves to find a good book at a thrift store or in a bargain bin, and $1 isn't much of an investment. Also, on the day I found this copy, I was coming down with a cold and knew I was going to hibernate over the weekend. I wanted a book that would interest me but not require any effort on my part.

This was the book.

Harry Quebert, a writer in the mold of Norman Mailer, is accused of murder when the body of a 15 year old girl who went missing 33 years ago is found on his property in New Hampshire. A manuscript of Harry's masterpiece, The Origin of Evil, is found under the body with the inscription, "Goodbye, darling Nola". 

Harry's protege, Marcus Goldman, arrives at Harry's beach house in New Hampshire right before the body is discovered complaining of writer's block. Goldman published a blockbuster the year before and has a second book due shortly for which he received a large advance but he's yet to write a word. When the body is found and Harry becomes the prime suspect, Goldman's publisher suggests that the investigation of this murder become the topic of Goldman's second book.

Marcus' investigation interspersed with Harry's advice on writing and flashbacks to the summer of 1975 and the murder make up the bulk of the book. At over 600 pages, it's still a fast read and a lot happens including a twist I did NOT see coming with about 100 pages to go. Originally written in French by a Swiss author who spent summers in New England, there's a lot of small town hi jinx and a little social climbing that provides some much needed humor in a mystery that basically involves the relationship between a 35 year old man and a 15 year old girl. 

I really enjoyed this book, and the Lolita aspect is handled very well. There are some fun allusions - for example, Harry's lawyer is named Benjamin Roth (a not so subtle connection to Philip Roth), and Marcus' mother is every Jewish mother in the body of one New Jersey matron. While I can't say I agree with the fantastic reviews from foreign publications all over the cover and front pages, if you want a fun mystery with an unusual twist on a weekend you may not be feeling your best, this book's for you!

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Sometimes I post reviews at Cannonball Read. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!