Who doesn’t love a mystery? Whether on paper or film? Puzzle or yarn? As a reader, channeling one’s own powers of detection against the author’s controlled revelation of details which may or may not be clues leading to the discovery of whodunit. As a knitter, reveling in a new stitch and then trying to deduce where the design will go next.
Despite our Minnesota days feeling nothing like spring, it is nearly time for Marie Greene’s spring mystery knit-along (MKAL). Her new pattern will be revealed in four clues, over 10 days, April 3-13. The advance teaser alerted MKAL participants that this will be a triangular shawl in two contrasting colors, knit from top-center down, incorporate texture and special design elements, and the accompanying story will feature the adventures of one rambunctious sheep – hence the title of the MKAL and the shawl – A Sheep Story.
The March surprises in my Sew Happy Jane Hand Dyed Happy Yarn Club subscription could combine nicely for a lovely A Sheep Story mystery shawl. But, my April box arrives on Friday, so I will make my final decision with two new skeins in hand.
While I tracked my first hand-dyed installment from Idaho, I wondered if the new skeins would blend with the predominant hues already in my stash or provide challenges from the color wheel. Both of these thoughts proved true. The solid aqua skein was well within my color comfort zone. The variegated skein is one I definitely would never have selected with its repeating runs of un-dyed natural cream to yellow to coral to burnt orange.
I knew I needed to use this odd yellow skein right away or it would languish for years. A new shawl pattern from Marie Greene featuring lacy contrasting stripes was released at just the right moment for a February project inspiration.
Martina Behm’s Strickmich! Club has gone on hiatus for 2023 so no squishy packages will arrive this winter from Damsdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Lest I miss the excitement of mystery yarn deliveries, I have filled the gap by joining the Sew Happy Jane Hand Dyed Happy Yarn Club.
Heather Best is an amazing fiber colorist. I used her DK tweed in the Brighter Day colorway for my Fireworks pullover and a matching cowl. The yarn was lovely to work with and that sweater is among my favorites for a bit of warm color on a gray winter day. Using her Kool-Aid formulas, (Yes, the sweet summer drink concoction!) I took five skeins from au naturel wool to subtle hues all the while learning that my passion is not as a dyer.
She begins dying each month’s palate only after club orders are placed. This ensures accurate quantities without overstocking and enables members to choose Fingering or DK weight yarn in single 100g. skeins or to double the fun with a pair of perfectly coordinated hanks – 1 tonal and 1 painted. And, if beautiful yarn is not a prize in itself, each themed box includes curated gifts. Club members may vary weights and quantities each month and even pause participation for a month or two without totally disengaging. The flexible subscription plan is great for participants, although I imagine this marketing approach requires more recordkeeping. Waiting is the only downside of this new yarn service. On these gray January days, while Heather is deep in color-filled production, I must wait to discover the treasures of my February Happy Yarn Club box.
I can attest that the normal excitement felt when the FedEx truck parks in front on your house is compounded when knowing that the only expected delivery is an international priority from Damsdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. My Strickmich! Club yarn arrived today making it a Valentine’s Day treat! Inside the FedEx mailer were four individually packaged projects. The recyclable opaque paper bags were designed to keep the mystery alive, but carefully color coded 1-4 to match the Strickmich! Club logo and the corresponding cast-on dates.
The four (just begging to be opened) bags hold one-of-a-kind skeins representing the artful collaboration between four independent European dyers and designer Martina Behm. Each exclusive skein was specially colored to compliment a new original pattern. But even if I succumb to a sneak peak (which I have not, as yet) the patterns will remain a mystery since they will only be released electronically on the specified cast-on dates. And, on those dates, just as this year’s club theme Together celebrates, I will join other knitters from around the world as Martina hosts two Zoom parties – one in German and corresponding to Central European Time (CET) followed by an English workshop at a time conducive to US participants. As Martina explains:
In Strickmich! Club 2022, the people who make our yarns come from very different places, and every project I design for the club will reflect that. But what’s important is that knitting brings them – and us – together. That’s why our motto for 2022 is “Together”, and we will celebrate that with every design and club project we knit.
Just 12 days until I can open package #1. Happy club knitting!
I am old enough that while working my first library job librarians were still debating the efficacy of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. At the time, there were two distinct camps: Those that felt children should only read “quality” literature and those that believed that any reading was good. This dichotomy played out in library selection meetings and at library conferences around the country as the debate waged over spending precious tax dollars for what, by some, were deemed titles just slightly above pulp fiction. (Note: The distinction that books by Carolyn Keene were not pulp was based solely on the hard covers of this series versus the paperbacks of such authors as Philip K. Dick or Edgar Rice Burroughs. Remember – At the time, a similar debate waged over the merits of paperbacks, perceived as ephemeral and not worthy of being in a library collection, regardless of the author!)
I definitely fell into the latter category; after all, I had loved Nancy Drew mysteries. My childhood friend, Julie B., introduced me to this strong female heroine and her two best friends and ever faithful sleuthing partners, Beth and George, when she lent me her copy of The Hidden Staircase. I thought Julie was immensely lucky as she owned a wonderful collection of 10-13 titles which she began lending to me. Her collection consisted of early titles in the series, so, with my allowance and every birthday and Christmas, I acquired the later books in the series. Our goal was to own every Nancy Drew title, that by combining her early titles and my later ones, our collection would meet in the middle.
There are those avid readers who pride themselves on never re-reading a title and those that re-visit well loved books time and again. On this topic I fall in the middle as I generally don’t re-read books simply because, in the words of Frank Zappa, “So many books, so little time.” But I do remember the first book I ever re-read. It was a sunny day during summer vacation and I readThe Clue in the Old Stagecoach three times, cover-to-cover. The magic of the words transported me into Nancy’s search for hidden treasure. Having just re-read The Bookseller for The Directors’ Book Club, my list of re-read titles (not inlcuding library storytime favorites) is now a dozen plus a few:
The Booksellerby Mark Pryor
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Clue in the Old Stagecoach by Carolyn Keene (Three times in one day!)
Dune by Frank Herbert
Harry Potter, #1-7 by J.K. Rowling (First as the titles were released & re-read before each movie premiere.)
His Dark Materials, #1-3 by Philip Pullman (For the summer science fiction book club.)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Just because what is not to love about a time travel romance between Claire and Jamie aka Sam Heughan with his own blend of whisky.)
A well written mystery, with a story that evolves from an interest in antique books, to the kidnapping of a bouquiniste (a bookseller with a stall along the Seine), plus historic WWII intrigue, and, of course, murder. There is even a little love interest scribed by Mark Pryor in The Bookseller, the first title in the Hugo Marston series.
After enjoying our first book club title, The Directors – a library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends – moved literary settings from the English countryside to Paris for our second book club choice. The Bookseller introduced us to Hugo Marston, a former FBI profiler now head of embassy security in Paris. The tall Texan, who is fluent in French, loves well brewed coffee and walking Paris streets, possesses a strong sense of justice but will diplomatically step out of the limelight and let the French police claim the glory after catching the bad guys. The Directors all agreed we will be exploring the other titles in Pryor’s Hugo Marston series.
When I started Knit+ Librarian, I thought I could simply resurrect my blogging skills and, violà, creativity would abound. But I forgot that while the WYSIWYG environment is easy to navigate it also abounds in sophistication. Depending on themes and choices, the options for style and design are wildly numerous. So, as part of my 2021 self-improvement resolutions, I registered for WordPress Courses and, dear reader, you may see some different posts (not just knitting or baking) as I experiment with tools and techniques. First up – learning new formatting options and inserting a YouTube video.
The Directors – a library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends – just finished our first book club discussion, something new for the new year. Our kickoff title was the charming debut mystery, The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. The septuagenarian and octogenarian characters are laugh-out-loud funny as they gather evidence, support the local constabulary, enjoy a cocktail and, of course as our heroes, solve the mystery. We all agreed, later in life, we could easily conceive of living in such a retirement village as the one nestled in the hills of Kent, England. Enjoy a book promoting interview with the author.