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Reading Update

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Can you believe we are May already? To round off April, I thought I’d share the books I have been reading this month.

Manderley Forever: Like its author,Tatiana de Rosnay, I have always been fascinated by Daphne du Maurier. She is as romantic a character as any of her heroines and her life reads like one of her novels. This biography is a great read, but for the moment only available in French. De Rosnay writes her books alternatively in French and English and I haven’t seen any trace of the English translation yet.

Sleeping Murder: An old favourite of mine and a re-read. Agatha Christie’s final Miss Marple novel, and one of my favourites. Cleverly plotted, it combines several of my favourite Christie techniques: it is one of her ‘retrospective’ murder mysteries, the murder investigated having occurred several decades before. The murder was witnessed by a young child who as an adult and newly married moves back to England, more specifically to the Devon coast – Christie country par excellence. The house she buys plays a prominent role in the story and the writer, who in real life took great pleasure in decorating her different homes, also does so on the page.

We Were Liars: A family gathering, an island and the lies that lay behind the gilded façade. This book escaped my attention when it first came out. I came across it on Amanda’s 2014 reading list (a good place for finding reading inspiration) and read some glowing reviews in the press. I won’t reveal the twists and turns of the clever plot, but I can say that when the secret at the heart of the book is finally revealed, it turned out to be more shocking than anything I had anticipated. This is a cunning and gripping novel, full of surprises, and an ideal holiday read.

A Spool of Blue Thread: Another novel with a family (and a house) at its hart. Anne Tyler is unrivalled when it comes to giving her characters life. She made me believe every word, every deed and kept me absorbed throughout the book.  A clever, subtle writer too who adds a tenderness and a light touch of comedy and irony to the events of daily life she describes. I really, really loved this book.

I’d love to hear what you are reading at the moment. I’m always on the look out for recommendations.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Spring Knitting

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Spring has definitely arrived. The streets are billowing with cherry blossom and the garden is returning to life. Everything looks new and fresh. The young leaves are the lightest, brightest shades of lime green and chartreuse. The sun is shining and all is well with the world. The sunshine has done wonders for my energy levels. I can almost feel myself waking up, just like the leaves and the flowers. The other day I saw this Robin Williams quote on Pinterest: “Spring is nature’s way of saying: let’s party!” It summons exactly how I feel about this season. There is no place I’d rather be in the springtime then right here.

I am also knitting with a renewed energy and have no less than three sweaters on my needles:

  • Hélène: a lovely and airy design by Veronik Avery, which I have all but finished. The only things left to do are seaming the front and the back piece together and then finishing the neckband. I may well have to block it ‘à mort’ as I fear it has turned out a wee bit shorter than I hoped for. We’ll see.
  • Wolf River: not exactly a spring sweater, but I couldn’t help myself, had to cast it on.
  • Liv Light: as soon as I saw NapaGal’s version, I knew I’d better frog my Keel and cast-on this lovely spring cardigan. The design is straightforward and the lines are clean. It is flying off my needles and I’m really happy with how it’s shaping up.

For all three sweaters I am using yarn that I had in my stash or recovered from another project, so I’m feeling quite virtuous.

I wish you all a very happy weekend, hopefully with some sunshine to enjoy! Me, I’m going back to the garden and my knitting.

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Ingredients for a Lazy Weekend

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Lingering over breakfast.

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Catching up on some light reading.

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Rejoicing in the first signs of spring.

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Sunday lunch. I almost never eat meat, for various reasons, but I made an exception for my sister’s beef stew. Key ingredients for a tasty stew: a slice of dark bread spread with Dijon mustard, a couple of tablespoons of Sirop de Liège and a small bottle of dark abbey beer.

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The Moonstone is proving a stunning and totally engrossing read. Minutes turned into hours and when I resurfaced I felt relaxed yet invigorated by the sheer joy of reading a good book. Ready to face a new week.

Have a good week everyone!

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A Tale of Two Cardigans

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This post was a loooong time in the making. I finished these two cardigans weeks ago, but somehow never got around to showing them here, or putting them up on Ravelry.

Cardigans are probably my favourite item to knit, as well as being something I will probably end up wearing. In this climate you can usually do with an extra layer. As I like my clothes to be loose and flow-y, allowing me to move easily, I tend to go for A-lines. And as I hardly ever close them, I prefer my cardigans without buttons.

Where I still get it wrong though, even after a good four years of knitting, is size. Even when I knit several swatches, trying out different needle sizes. I seem to have evolved from knitting items that are slightly to small, to items that are way too large. Overcompensating. As a result, the item in question ends up in my wardrode, unloved and unworn.

For the first cardigan, Michiyo’s Stranger, I have gotten it right. Partly because for this design size doesn’t matter that much. It is a big, wrap around model. The second one, Cedarwood, a design by Alicia Plummer, I have only worn once so far. I love everything about this cardigan, the design, the yarn I used (Rowan’s Tweed). And the knit itself was fun and fast. But it is so big as to be positively unflattering. So I will probably end up having to find it a new owner.

You can find my Ravelry notes for both projects here and here.

Meanwhile, if you have any brilliant suggestions as to how to remedy this particular problem, I’d love to hear them! Happy knitting!

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Winter Vitamins

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The mornings are hazy and cold. Then the sun comes out, carrying the promise of spring. There’s nothing like a day of warm sunshine to lift the spirits and to give you a sense of things to come. It definitely feels as if winter is turning. The light is changing and the days are lengthening. Spring is around the corner.

Meanwhile, I’m knitting myself another pair of socks using Susan B. Anderson’s sock pattern. The yarn is Das Paar # 2208 by Schoppel Wolle which I got at Rosa Pomar’s lovely shop Retrosaria, a treasure cave for knitters and crafters.

I’m also swatching for a Keel cardigan, a design by Bristol Ivy for Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People Vol. 8. Looking forward to warmer days to come, I’m using Rowan’s Purelife revive,  a fully recycled summer yarn, which has a beautiful rusticity and stitch definition.

The recipe for the potato soup I had for lunch I found here. Delicious and absolutely soul warming!

I wish you all a very good weekend! Hopefully with some sunshine and plenty of knitting.

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January

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Things that cheer me up in January:

  • A roaring fire.
  • Flowers on my writing desk.
  • Tea and cake.
  • Knitting! As was to be expected, I got a bit bored with the plain Chesterfield I’m knitting for my brother. So, I put it aside and selfishly cast-on a Stranger cardigan. I am now happily cabling away.
  • Knitting podcasts. I have only recently started listening to knitting podcasts. One I really enjoy is knit.fm. And Truly Myrtle, who writes one of my favourite craft blogs, posted her first podcast yesterday.
  • A good book. I must be the last person not to have read Wolf Hall. I’m racing to finish it before the BBC adaptation airs next Wednesday. Something to look forward to.