March: Book Reviews

I read a lot of books this month, but hardly anything seemed to be really recommendation worthy, so this month’s list is a bit leaner.  What was the best thing you read in March? Share your recommendations!

Best Fiction of the Month: Mr. Fox

I’ve been meaning to read Helen Oyeyemi’s work for a while, and was really happy to have started with this novel. It’s a literary cat-and-mouse retelling of the Bluebeard fairytale, with Mr. Fox a well known writer of slasher books where the women are always killed on his pages.  A woman named Mary Foxe begins writing him and the two create a long distance collaboration on writing stories together that don’t involve murdering women…. but is Mary real? What is ‘real’, anyway? The stories-within-the story are wonderful, and Oyeyemi’s clever handling of the language and the characters sucked me in right away. This isn’t a breezy beach read, but if you are looking to get sucked into a novel and be thinking about it even when you aren’t reading it, then I think you might like this one.

Best Nonfiction: The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris 

I confess that I didn’t love this book, but I completely understand why it’s a bestseller and cropping up everywhere- it’s sort of like Eat Pray Love and A Homemade Life: Stories from My Kitchen Table combined into one. The structure, of a woman’s memoir of divorce, depression, and finding herself through baking and Paris, is interspersed with recipes, excellent quotes, and beautiful photographs; making it feel very immersive and covering up the haphazard structure. But my biggest problem wit this book is I couldn’t identify at all with the author’s perspective, even though it should have been pretty easy for me- I kept getting tripped up by her relentlessly lousy self-esteem that bordered on self-obsession, and it coloured everything. But hey, that’s a gorgeous cover and it sure looks pretty on Instagram.

Currently Re-reading: The English Patient

Michael Ondaatje is one of my favourite writers, and my first introduction to his work was this novel – this gorgeous, lush, heartbreakingly beautiful novel.  The story focuses on the intersection of lives of four people after the end of WW II, and how they are grappling with loss and how to move forward — if moving forward is even possible. There is another Ondaatje novel that I love, In the Skin of a Lion, which also has the story of two of these characters from before this book, which is an excellent companion piece. But it’s The English Patient that I suspect will still be treasured and read a couple of hundred years from now, by people whose great grandparents have yet to be born.

The One I’m Recommending to Just About Everyone: M Train 

I loved M Train even more than her far-more-famous Just Kids. M Train is a wonderfully crafted collection of Smith’s thoughts and reflections on so many subjects –  cowboys, dreams, coffee, travel, secret societies, what makes a home, the nature of being alone – and yet deftly weaves them together into a stunning tapestry that never feels contrived or ridiculous, despite the fact that her life is pretty bloody extraordinary. A friend recommended the audiobook version, as Patti Smith reads it herself in her hallmark new Jersey accent, and I agree- it’s fantastic.

Looking for book reviews from the previous months? Check them out here.

Did you read anything amazing lately? what about a craft book you are currently loving? I’m always on the hunt for new books t take out of the library!

February: Book Reviews

And just like that, it’s the last day of February. Time for this month’s reading list! if you are looking for your next great read, perhaps something from this month’s round up will strike your fancy. I loved the comments from last month, so many people had great suggestions and shared what they are reading, too – If you have read any of these, or want to recommend a book, please share in the comments!

Best Fiction of the Month: Little Fires Everywhere

February Book Reviews | knittedbliss.com

Little Fires Everywhere came highly recommended for just about anyone I’ve talked to that has read this book, and I’m going to add my voice to the chorus of praise. It centers around a particular family with four children in a well-to-do neighbourhood that also own a rental property, and how a series of events from the past and present collide when they rent to a single mom and her teenage daughter, who both become socially entangled in the lives of all four children. If you read and enjoyed The Mothers, this is thematically similar, but with even more fascinating characters.

Best Nonfiction: Worn Stories

February Book Reviews | knittedbliss.com

This was an enchanting collection of essays, many famous individuals- all about one memorable item from their wardrobe that holds special significance to them. As someone who can remember exactly what I was wearing when anything significant happened in my life, this really spoke to me. I showcased this one on Instagram recently, because it’s given me a great idea for exploring the stories behind our knits and the things we make. I’m just pulling together some general guidelines, and then I’m going to be looking for guest posts on the subject. If you think you would be interested in writing a guest post like this, let me know!

Currently Re-reading: A Field Guide to Getting Lost

February Book Reviews | knittedbliss.com

I first read A Field Guide to Getting Lost about 4 years ago, but almost all of Solnit’s books hold up wonderfully through multiple re-readings because she weaves together history, culture, personal stories, and philosophy in such an artful way that just makes sense. After all, getting lost is the precursor to finding ourselves. One of the many memorable passages:

“I love going out of my way, beyond what I know, and finding my way back a few extra miles, by another trail, with a compass that argues with the map…nights alone in motels in remote western towns where I know no one and no one I know knows where I am, nights with strange paintings and floral spreads and cable television that furnish a reprieve from my own biography, when in Benjamin’s terms, I have lost myself though I know where I am. Moments when I say to myself as feet or car clear a crest or round a bend, I have never seen this place before. Times when some architectural detail on vista that has escaped me these many years says to me that I never did know where I was, even when I was home.” 

Crafty Book I’m Loving: The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts and Other Homemade Adventures

February Book Reviews | knittedbliss.com

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this book, but I just took it out of the library for a second time, so I think I’ll need to buy a copy soon. It’s divided up by the four seasons with chapters for each month of the year, and in each month there is a collection of seasonally appropriate crafts, recipes, and other ideas, like how to enjoy early mornings, or picnicking in the fall instead of the summer. I particularly liked that nothing about the book felt too trendy, so it feels like it will age well and still be useful years from now.  The author (who is the blogger at A Cozy Kitchen) is a dog lover, so there are some doggie-friendly crafts and recipes, too!

Lila and James are Loving: 10 Little Ninjas

February Book Reviews| knittedbliss.com

Lila likes to pretend she can read all the words, and James loves to listen to it and comment on the illustrations: “Wace Caw!!” (I love that his R sounds are still so babyish). This sweet book is a take on the infamous No-More-Monkeys-Jumping-on-the-Bed theme, but each number counting down features children in silly costumes getting up to mischief on what looks like a very long journey to sleep. It’s a sweet bedtime story that’s getting a lot of repeated readings around here lately! Ideal for ages 2-6, so if you have little ones or are looking for a gift idea, this might be a great choice!

I can’t believe tomorrow is the beginning of March! What are you guys reading, anything wonderful?

 

 

*Note: The links are Amazon affiliate links.*

January: Book Reviews

This is a new feature I’ve planned for 2018 – a monthly reflection of a handful of books that I read in the past month that I thought would be worth sharing.  If you follow me on Instagram, you already saw a recent photo of a couple of these books in a recent post! it seems like that you and I have a lot in common, and if I read voraciously, I bet a lot of you do too- so why not share some of the books I most enjoyed recently?  If you have read any of these, or have some great recommendations of your own, let me know in the comments!

Currently Re-reading: As It Is in Heaven

As It Is in Heaven is one of the few books I re-read every few years. The prose is sometimes overwritten, and in the author’s quest to grapple with the big issues of life, death, and love it ends up coming across heavy handed in places, but I still love it. I first read it a long time ago when I was still living in Istanbul and English books were expensive to come by, but I fell for the wintery setting, the lush Irish landscape, and the utterly charming cast of characters in the town where most of the book is set. It’s comfort food in book form. It’s not the best thing you will ever read, but it soothes me. And I do think that it’s best enjoyed in the winter – don’t read this book in the summer or it will feel all wrong.

The One I’m Still Recommending to Just About Everyone: Station Eleven

I’m not usually one for post-apocalyptic fiction at all, but a good portion Station Eleven is set in Toronto (where I live!) and focuses on a travelling troupe of actors who perform Shakespearean plays at the various settlements that spring up after a massive virus wipes out 95% of the world’s population in a very short time frame. I binge-read this, it was that hard to put down! Same goes for everyone I’ve lent it to – it’s seriously addictive, fascinating to think about, and you will want everyone else to read it so that you can talk about it with them. I wish I had written it.

Crafty Book I’m Loving: Plum Dandi Knits

This is the combined effort of Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary, who have combined their knit design efforts in the past. Plum Dandi Knits features 23 patterns for a whole range of gorgeous knits that are what I would consider to be the sort of knits I want in my handmade wardrobe – lots of gorgeous sweaters, mitts, cowls, and accessories that make me want to snuggle up in every single knitted thing in this book. I already have a bunch  of the patterns in my knitting queue!

Cookbook that Actually Makes Me Want to Cook: Smitten Kitchen Every Day

I’m not much of a cook, but I do enjoy recipes that are easy, healthy (most of the time), and don’t involve more than ten ingredients – which means Smitten Kitchen Every Day just might be the only cookbook I need. If someone said I could only bring one cookbook to the (well-stocked with groceries) desert island, this is the one I would pick. I love the recipes and have already committed a few of them to memory, it covers a lot of ground in terms of meals types and has lots of great breakfast, mains, veggie, and dessert dishes.  Everything I’ve made from it has been absolutely delicious, and exactly how I wanted it to turn out. And that doesn’t always happen for me in the kitchen.

I’m Still Mulling Over: Women & Power

Women and Power is a short book (even shorter once you realize how many illustrations/photographs are in it) but it is an excellent exploration of the very timely- yet ancient- practice of how women are silenced and kept from accessing powerful roles in government, business, and work outside the home. It’s the kind of book I recommend everyone read – not only can you easily devour it in a single sitting, but it very clearly illustrates how any time a woman has achieved a certain amount of power, she is frequently vilified for it, or accused of being ‘manly’ or ‘unfeminine’. Touching on ancient Greece, the Trump election, Hilary Clinton; after you read it you will definitely want to talk about it, and likely press it into the hands of other smart, courageous women that you know and love.

Have you read any of these? Do you have a comfort book that you re-read, or a new book that you are dying to tell everyone about? Please share!

 

*Note: The links are Amazon affiliate links.*

Meet The Sponsors: February Edition

Ah, February- the shortest month feels a bit longer this year since it’s a leap year. Doesn’t it feel a bit cool to have an extra day? I like doing something special on February 29th, just something small, but something out of the ordinary to mark an out of the ordinary day.  Often I get myself a special treat.

Speaking of special treats! You have to see the wonderful goodies for this month’s sponsors. I’m having a tough time holding myself back…
Meet the Sponsors: Knittin Little | knittedbliss.com

Name: Knittin’ Little 

What They Are All About: Andrea Sanchez is the creator of Knittin’ Little, which features adorable knits for kids and babies. The current Winter collection has 9 patterns that feature an assortment of garments and accessories, most of which are easily made for either boys or girls. If you like knitting for kids, you have to check out the site- they also have a book club that features kids books with knitting themes, and the blog often features round ups, interviews, book reviews giveaways, and DIYs.

 A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: Catoctin is a high neck sweater with a great cable and reverse stockinette yoke; written for sizes 6 months to 12 years.  Clara is a beautifully feminine ruffles sweater for sizes 2-12 years. Then we have a classic and toasty warm cabled hat in sizes toddler to teen, which would be amazing in just about any colour. And how fun would a contrasting pom pom be!

Meet the Sponsors: Ancient Arts Fibre | knittedbliss.com

Name: Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts

What They Are All About: The team at Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts hand-dye a huge array of both tonal and variegated colourways available in a wide choice of yarn bases (most from chunky to laceweight, plus a variety of fiber bases within each weight), specializing in the Meow Collection and Woof Collection, which are colourways inspired by cat and dog breeds. A portion of the sales are donated to Best Friends Animal Society to help animals in need. If you are a pet lover, I bet there is a colourway that matches your furry friend!

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right:  All of these colours are available in a variety of yarn weights. I love this speckled Cross Stitch Sampler colourway– it manages to combines vivid reds and blues in a really attractive skein and knits up beautifully. Rose Tribute is a sophisticated golden pink that would be so, so beautiful in a sweater or a shawl.  Calico Cat is just like a pretty little calico kitty, and would be an awesome pair of socks, I think!

Meet the Sponsors: Biscotte Yarns | knittedbliss.com

Name: Biscotte Yarns

What They Are All About: Biscotte Yarns specializes in self-striping yarns with lots of fun inspiration, but they have all sorts of goodies on offer- fabrics, project bags and kits, patterns, and tonal single ply yarns, as well as a mystery club! And a bonus to my fellow Canadians- Biscotte Yarns is offering 20% to help offset the exchange rate, using the code cadpal20. I know that a lot of Canadian companies have had to put their prices up because the cost of their supplies has gone up, so it’s nice to get a bit of a break.

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right:  This one is a limited edition, so get it while you can- Pure Silk Lace beaded yarn is 90% silk, and 10% glass beads. So beautiful! Lumos (shown here in Nuit) is a subtly sparkly fingering weight in 75% superwash merino, 20% nylon, and 5% stellina. And for fans of grey and yellow as a fabulous combo, the self striping Bis Sock yarn in Yellow Brick Road is just for you!

Meet the Sponsors: Madbird | knittedbliss.com

Name: Madbird 

What They are all about: Alecia and Rob Miller make fun and functional project bags, project clutches, totes, spindle bags, needle and hook rolls (even for dpns and interchangeables), and zip pouches- with a wide variety of fabrics, you’re sure to find the right size you need in a print you love.  Project bags come with interior yarn guides that have a snap on them, so your yarn feeds through cleanly, but you can change out the yarn or project any time you like. And they are all sturdily built, with fleece interfacing and solid bottoms that ensure the bags stand up well on their own, once a project is inside. If you haven’t tried one of their bags, you are missing out- every detail is perfection. Want 10% off? Of course you do. They are offering 10% off everything in the shop with the code KNITTEDBLISS.

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: I love the fun Japanese fabrics that are part of the new line! This gorgeous medium-sized project bag has a beautiful sushi print on one side, but is fully reversible to show a blue butterfly pattern inside. This Harajuku Garden elegant drawstring project bag has a gorgeous Japanese floral design on one side, and a pretty orange and pink diamond pattern when reversed. This large project clutch in Whiskers design totally appeals to the cat lover in me. I love the cute fabric, and gorgeous inner lining.

Meet the Sponsors: Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe | knittedbliss.com

Name: Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe

What She is All About: Alicia makes luxurious all-natural lotion bars and lip balms using skin-loving ingredients like lanolin, cocoa butter, almond oil, and vitamin E and mango butter. If you haven’t tried a lotion bar before you are missing out! Everything is non-greasy, and the lip balms are my favourite on the planet.

A Few of My Favourite Things, from Left to Right: Carnations are such an under-appreciate flower in floral arrangements, but remember how good they smell? clean, a little spicy, and so delicate. This Carnation Lotion Bar smells just like that.  How adorable are the sheepy soaps? They come in all sorts of great scents, this one is Green Tea. I can personally attest to how fun they are! And finally, the lip balms are fantastically moisturizing , colour-free and all natural- Winter Clementine is a sweet, bright choice.

So what do you think? Any stand out favourites that you are now craving? I’m always happy to enable!

Finished Knit: Heyworth Mitts

Without a doubt, spring is the perfect season for fingerless mitts. Especially if they are the colour of flower petals.

Pattern: Heyworth

Yarn: Rohrspatz & Wollmeise Blend (70% merino superwash, 20% cashmere, 10%nylon) in ‘Romantisch’

Needles: 3.25 mm and 3.5 mm (US 3 and 4)

Mods: None

Not that you know it from the many, many times I’m willing to take my coat off outside in the winter just for the sake of a good knit photo, but I’m usually chilly. I’m that person who starts wearing tights under their jeans around mid-November and carries on until April. All my sweaters have tank tops or t-shirts under them. Layers are a cold person’s best friend! So when you get cold as often and as easily as I do, fingerless mitts are perfection. I’m always typing, or knitting, or taking photos, and you would think that all that activity would keep them warm, but no — my hands are always cold.

Enter the noble fingerless mitt. The humble, hardworking, utterly perfect fingerless mitt.  I can never seem to have enough pairs of them.

The Heyworth pattern is from Plum Dandi Knits, a pattern collection I recommend back in January. I bookmarked several patterns from this collection, but these mitts are the first things I’ve made from it so far. I’m really happy with how they turned out- they look exactly like the pattern photos (we all know that doesn’t always happen). The only thing I found a little strange is that the increases for the thumb gusset were the reverse of what I would have done- meaning the M1L was done when I would have naturally done a M1R, to have a more defined edge to the gusset. But it works with the highly textured fabric of the mitt, so all’s well that ends well.

This is my first time using Rohrspatz & Wollmeise yarn, and I’m really impressed. The yarn is from a family-run small business in Germany, and is stocked in select yarn stores all over the world, although with the modern wonder that is online shopping, you can easily order from the site and have the yarn shipping directly to your doorstep.  The yarn I chose is from their Blend line, and it’s a butter soft melange of merino, cashmere and nylon. Having anything with cashmere in it on a delicate area like your wrists automatically feels like heaven.

The Blend line comes it more colourways than you can imagine, and I had a really tough time deciding – but it’s funny how we crave those lighter spring colours after a long winter. And this colourway seemed to be the perfect balance between a dusty rose and a pale lilac, and I like that it was a little hard to pin down, it make the eye linger a little longer.

I was blown away by the yardage (364 yards) in a single skein of this yarn- I only used about 25% of it for these mitts, so now I’m thinking of something that coordinates- a hat perhaps, or a small cowl? I’d love to use the same sort of stitch as the mitts. I’m already looking forward to using this yarn again – and I’m kind of kicking myself for not getting a sweater’s worth, because this would be a fantastic sweater yarn. Next time! Or maybe these sets of mini skeins….. I know, I know. so easily distracted.

This is sponsored post from Rohrspatz & Wollmeise. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.