A Flock of Spontaneous Combustion

If you're visiting from Cannonball Read, scroll down for my review of Spontaneous.

Knitting

Over the weekend, I finished my first test knit of a new cowl pattern I've called Flock of Seagulls. I knit the borders in sand stitch and the center is a cable knit that I think looks like a flock of seagulls taking off from the beach.


My LYS has an amazing sale every New Year's where everything in the store, including Madeline Tosh yarn, is 25% off. On New Year's Day I found the perfect yarn for this pattern in Cove (right) and Antler (left):


If you've read previous blog posts or listened to the latest podcast, you'll know I'll be knitting another version of this pattern in Prado de Lana DK yarn that I picked up at Vogue Knitting Live. I plan to finish that by mid-February and will be looking for test knitters around that time. The pattern should be released in mid-March.

Reading

Do you ever have a run of days where you just can't get in to any books in your TBR pile? That happened to me last week. I finished both The Sun is Also a Star by Nicole Soon and Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer and just couldn't find another book to make an awesome YA trifecta. Why you ask? The premise of Spontaneous is simple: high school seniors spontaneously combust in the oddest places like pre-calc and an SUV.

What could possibly follow THAT?


The first half of the book is a lot of fun - who will blow up next? The main character, Mara, is far from perfect and a possibly unreliable narrator. Dylan, her romantic interest, is odd in a Jesse Eisenberg sort of way which means he's quirky and endearing.

Mara's best friend Tess is a big part of the first part of the book but disappears for a large section towards the end which I don't think was explained very well. Mara and Tess pledge to be cool old ladies together at the beginning of the book then in the third half Tess disappears, tries to solve the problem of explosive students without sharing her activities with her BFF, abruptly reenters the plot, and then ... well, that would be a spoiler, wouldn't it?

If your unsatisfied and / or confused by the second half of the book and the ending, it may help to view the story as a metaphor for senior year in a US high school. After I lent this book to a student, we had a healthy conversation about that possibility. Both of us were more comfortable with Tess's actions and the book's conclusion after we talked it out from that perspective!

The book takes place in New Jersey, and I agree, our state is one where students could very well spontaneously combust. The author lives in Vermont, and I think he takes some liberties with NJ geography. Mara talks about riding her bike "down the shore" where I live quite a few times during the course of the book, but the action takes place the northwest part of the state. There's NO WAY a high school kid (or anyone for that matter) could ride a bike from that part of NJ to my part of NJ especially round trip in one day. The author also mentions "Rumson Road", a road very near where I live down the shore which the author places in Mara's home town.

Color me confused.

If you don't live in NJ and you're intrigued by the premise of this book, I suggest you give it a go. I read the opening paragraph in the latest podcast so if you're on the fence, give this episode a listen and let me know what you think!

On Tuesdays, 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!


Season 2: Episode 1 Caring & Sharing


Caring Kal

To participate in the current KAL, please join the Ravelry group and purchase either the Caring Cowl  by Alexis Winslow (proceeds go to the American Red Cross) or complete the Yellow Roses shawl if you purchased that pattern last November to support MIND.

Here's a pic from Alexis of the Caring Cowl:


The KAL runs through February 28, 2017, and winners will be announced on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (see links at top of page). There are two prizes for participation, a hank of handspun, hand dyed wool from Pucker Brush Farm (left) and sock yarn from Expression Fiber Arts in the colorway Kismet (right):


I plan to knit my version in Bernat Dimensions yarn:

Knitting

A big thank you to Amanda Barcenas of Prado de Lana yarns for graciously chatting with me and my listeners!! Please visit her website to check out her yarn and sign up for her newsletter to keep up to date on the events and other farm news. You can follow her on Instagram and share your knitting with her as well.

My Aspen Winter Cowl can be found here - don't forget that if you purchase it in the month of January, you're eligible to win a hank of Robin's custom colorway!

You can find pictures of me wearing "that hat" on all my social media accounts.

I'm almost done with my scarf using the Caron Cakes yarn in Funfetti my son gave me for Christmas in the Tin Can Knits pattern Wheat:


Information about the Modern Log Cabin blanket pattern by Mason Dixon Knitting can be found on Ravelry.

My second original cowl pattern, Flock of Seagulls, will be released in March. The original version is knit in MadelineTosh DK. I will be looking for test knitters in mid-February after I finish the second version using Prado de Lana Yarn. 

I shared my haul from Vogue Knitting Live in this blog post.

Books

My complete review of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon can be found in this blog post. Please consider joining Cannonball Read and help raise funds for cancer research.

I plan to write a complete review of Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer in the next blog post and on Cannonball Read. If you purchase through the Cannonball Read Amazon link, the proceeds go to their fundraising efforts.

I'm currently listening to CraftLit's version of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

Devotional


I recently stared Jessica Mathisen's devotional Proverbs 31: A Life of Truth and Grace. As I say in the podcast, I love it! You can see Jessica's video that I mention here and purchase the devotional here. Since recording the podcast, I've worked through a few more days of this devotional, and really love it. While each day's reading is short, Jessica sends you off on your day with a lot to think about and apply, not just for yourself but as you come in contact with others as you go through your day.

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 link party posts.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Seagulls and Young Love

I'm joining Cannonball Read for the first time this week. If you've arrived from that community looking for a book review, please scroll pass the knitting chat!

Knitting

Project progress is light this week, although "that hat" is finished except for the bind off. I plan to finish before the weekend and wear to to my local Women's March in Asbury Park. If you're in the area and planning to attend, let me know!

I also worked on my next original pattern "Flock of Seagulls". I knit this version in Madeline Tosh DK in the colorways Cove (shown) and Antler (the border not shown). The lovely Celtic knot progress keeper was a little treat I picked up at Vogue Knitting Live this weekend.


While at VKL, I met up with Amanda of Prado de Lana farm. She's even more friendly and fun in person! I bought some light DK weight yarn from her to do another version of this cowl pattern in a solid color. I plan to recount my adventures at VKL in the next podcast and interview Amanda in the near future. Here's a pic of my entire haul from the weekend. The yarn on the right came from Prado de Lana:


I also bought ribbon yarn from Tess Designer Yarns (on the left, above) because I wanted to try something different; I have a lot of wool! There was a lovely drop stitch scarf in this yarn that I thought would be beautiful and practical in summer when the a/c is cranking!

Reading

I'm joining Cannonball Read this week with my review of The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. So many feels! This is a young adult book with some heavy themes. On the surface, it's a romance between Natasha, a Jamaican born illegal immigrant facing deportation, and Daniel, a first born second son of Korean parents. The two, both seniors in high school, meet by accident while Daniel is on his way to his college interview with a Yale alum and Natasha is trying one last time to stay in the US. 


The action takes place over an afternoon and early evening primarily in Manhattan. A variety of characters briefly come in contact with the couple, and these interactions either change the course of main storyline and/or Daniel and Natasha change the course of the secondary characters lives. For example, while dining in a Korean restaurant, Natasha asks for a fork. The waitress responds by telling Daniel that he should teach his girlfriend how to use chopsticks. This character's backstory reveals that her son became involved with a non-Korean woman and as a result, her husband cut off contact with their son. They didn't attend their son's wedding nor do they know their grandchildren. As a mother, that broke my heart. 

The book addresses so many timely themes like diversity, tolerance, the immigrant experience, and of course love and commitment (but not in the way you might think). I love this book so much I plan to recommend it for our summer reading list! Don't disregard this book because it's categorized as "young adult". The vocabulary and main characters may fall into this age range, but I think the book is even more powerful for those of us who are much older than the young adult moniker. 

If you've read this book or decide to do so, please let me know what you think in the comments!

Today I'm joining 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!


Controversial Knitting & Romantic Suspense

It's been brutally cold the last few days here at the Jersey Shore. While I much prefer summer, snowy weekends are perfect for staying indoors to read and knit. This past weekend, I worked on a number of new projects including another scarf using a Caron Cake my son gave me for Christmas:


Unless you've been completely cut off from civilization, you're familiar with these colorful cakes of yarn. You might remember I knit a Moss Cake Scarf with the teal gradient cake known as the Faerie Cake. This time around, I decided to knit a version of Tin Can Knits's Wheat scarf in Funfetti. (My son was a good sport and braved Michael's right before Christmas to get this for me as his present.)


I altered the pattern slightly; instead of knitting 3 inches of garter stitch before starting the 1x1 rib, I knit 5 rows of garter stitch to make the bottom symmetrical with the 5 stitches on the left side of the scarf. I think the pattern looks very Art Deco (but that could just be because I hang out with art teachers).

I also started a new cowl pattern. My goal for 2017 is to create a cowl pattern for each of the 4 seasons with an optional 5th cowl if I get inspired. The early spring cowl is entitled "Flock of Seagulls" because this stitch reminds me of a flock of seagulls taking off from the sand:


I admit, the song "I Ran" from the early 80s runs through my head each time I sit down to knit this, but I'm going with the name! This version uses Madeline Tosh DK, and I plan to knit another version with farm yarn from Prado de Lana assuming the weather cooperates this weekend for Vogue Knitting Live.

Finally, I hopped on the bandwagon for "that hat". I knew this pattern was political, but I didn't think it was controversial. Boy was I wrong! We had some serious snow this past Saturday, so I decided to dye up some yarn in hot pink. As I often do, I posted this on Instagram.

Controversy ensued.

I support women's rights as demonstrated by my use of the "f word" (feminism) in my last podcast, and, for me, this is a way to demonstrate not only the power of women but the power of craft. Here's the yarn I dyed as well as the start of my version of the hat:


I look forward to wearing the hat next weekend as a show of solidarity and support.

In book news, I celebrated my birthday last week, and my kids were very good to me:


I started The Fisher King by Melissa Lenhardt during the snow storm and am enjoying this sequel to Stillwater. This is the second in a series that takes place in east Texas quite near where my parents live. The main storyline follows Jack McBride, a former FBI agent, now small town police chief, and Ellie Martin, lifelong resident of Stillwater with a rocky past. Jack deals with a drug war at work, his bad boy twin brother Eddie, and his sociopathic wife at home while Ellie runs for a city council seat against the man Jack suspects is the town's drug kingpin.

My children referred to this as a "sexy thriller" based on a review on Amazon, but it's more of a "when/if they will", much like Murdoch and Dr. Ogden on The Murdoch Mysteries if you watch that show.

The best part of this series is Jack's relationship with his 13 year old son Ethan. Much of the first book deals with their adjustment to being abandon by Julie, Jack's wife and Ethan's mother. Jack and Ellie experience a strong attraction in that book but this abruptly ends with Julie's return. I'm enjoying this installment so far although I hope Ethan plays a bigger part as the book progresses.

Today I'm joining The Really Crafty Link Party and 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!



The Best of 2016




My first published pattern, the Aspen Winter cowl (pictured above) can be purchased on Ravelry. More about the pattern, including pictures, can be found in this blog post. If you're going to be at Vogue Knitting Live this month, stop by the Prado de Lana Farm booth and check out Amanda's yarn and my pattern. You can find Robin's yarn on etsy. Anyone who purchases the pattern in the month of January will have a chance to win the custom colorway Robin created for this pattern. All proceeds go to supporting the podcast.

Top 5 Patterns for 2016

1. Harvest Leaf Bag by Carmen of ASimpleHomestead (my finished version can be found here)
2. Grandpa's Veggie Garden/Grandma's Flower Garden by Clothesline Designs (my Veggie version can be found here, and my Flower Garden is here)
3. Jane Eyre shawl by Tanya The Sampler Girl (my finished version can be found here)
4. Elder Leaf Shawl by Softsweater Knits (my finished version can be found here)
5. B.Y.O.B. 2.0 Bag by Wyndlestraw Designs (my finished version can be found here)

Top 5 Books Read in 2016

1. Underground Airlines by Ben Winters
2. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
3. In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner
4. 7 by Jen Hatmaker
5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I mentioned Cannonball Read, a wonderful reading challenge that raises money for cancer research.

Bible Study

I mentioned the Women's Bible Cafe and All Things New by Kelly Minter. If anyone is interested in doing that study with WBC or has suggestions for how to go forward with the Bible studies in 2017, please contact me either at knitreadpray (at) gmail.com or via Instagram or on the Facebook Page.