A Flock of Spontaneous Combustion

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


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.


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!


  1. I have to travel far and wide to get mad tosh :) Lovely yarns you've adopted and your cowl is beautiful!!

    1. I don't by MadTosh that often. It's pricey and when blocked, VERY stretchy, but it was perfect for this project. Definitely meant to be - I didn't plan to buy it when I hit the LYS sale!

  2. Your project is so pretty! It really does look like seagulls.