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2017 Summer Reading List Reviewed

September 7, 2017
2017 Summer Reading Review

Now that it’s September, Summer is officially over in my book. If someone could please inform the state of Texas, that would be great, because I’m ready to go into basic-white-girl-who-love-fall mode. I refused to be ashamed of it either!

I’m wrapping up all of my summer projects and lists now that summer is ending and I am desperately looking forward to fall. However, I wanted to give you a follow up on my summer reading list to let you know how I, and the books, did. I am pleased to announce that I accomplished my summer reading list and then some! I’m not just going to leave you with that, though. I’ve got to tell you how I liked them all. You ready? Hold onto your kindle, here we go!

The Favorites:

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (Finished 05/23/2017)

The Blue Castle was, hands down, my favorite book from my summer reading list! Call me a romantic. I loved it. The Blue Castle tells the story of a young woman named Valancy who receives a startling diagnosis. Even though the diagnosis a death sentence, it frees her to finally live her life on her terms. I think deep down we all love it when the shy character bursts out in confidence (Hello, Neville Longbottom!), and Valancy giving zero shits is delightful. Think Elizabeth Bennet levels of attitude. And of course, there’s a little bit of romance for our heroine as well. This book is easily accessible for a high school level reader, and can be found online for free! I do wish I had it in print though, because I like it that much.

Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie (Finished 06/14/2017)

I might be a sucker for Agatha Christie, but I loved this book! It goes without saying that this is a murder mystery book. After an unsavory character is found dead on the snowed in Orient Express, Hercule Poirot must determine the killer before snow thaws and the killer escapes. I’ve read a lot of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, so I like to see if I can figure things out on my own, but this book totally got me! I never would have guessed the ending, and it was delightful. This book is being made into a movie this fall so you should totally read it. It’s a totally satisfying, easy little read.

At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider (Finished 08/15/2017)

I loved this book. It was definitely the most summer reading-esque book on my summer reading list. In At Home in the World, Tsh Oxenreider chronicles the 9 month trip that she and her family took around the world. In it, she finds a delicate balance between the love of constant travel and the need to be a homebody. Besides making me want to travel to all the places (especially New Zealand) and eat all the things, At Home in the World wisely makes the point that sometimes restlessness says more about who we are than where we are. I thought this was a great summer read, but if you don’t have any travel plans before you read it, you’ll wish you did by the time that you are done!

Food for Thought:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (Finished 08/06/2017)

Hillbilly Elegy sticks out as one of the more meaningful reads on my summer reading list. J.D. Vance is both nostalgic and brutally honest about his upbringing in America’s rust belt. He does not flinch away from deeply troubling scenes of poverty and abuse, but he also doesn’t assign them more meaning than they deserve. In telling the story of a poor, white, American boy who pulled himself out of poverty, Hillbilly Elegy could have come out as self righteous and pious; but J.D. Vance is a humble and thoughtful narrator. He does not shy away from his message, but never gets preachy about it either. Hillbilly Elegy is a complex, thoughtful memoir and I highly recommend it.

 The More of Less by Joshua Becker (Finished 08/11/2017)

I love a good minimalist book. It makes me want to clean out my closet. And then actually do something with the clothes other than bad them up and leave them on the floor of my closet…

Joshua Becker is my go to minimalist writer. He doesn’t over romanticize it and promise that you’ll never struggle. Instead, he encourages you to think about what your ideal life looks like, and asks you to eliminate the barriers to that. I enjoyed his biblical perspective, which was approachable to Christians and non-Christians alike. He wasn’t preachy, but used biblical stories more like parables or fables. Did this book totally change my life? No. I find it hard to reconcile my minimalism with my this-could-be-used-in-a-craft-3-years-from-now. But for someone wanting to know more about the mentality of minimalism, this is one of the better books I’ve read.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (Finished 07/21/2017)

Both Tsh Oxenreider and Sarah Bessey have recommended Hannah Coulter to their readers so I had high expectations for this book.  Honestly, though, I found this one to be a bit slow. Hannah Coulter is comes from the perspective of an old farmer’s wife looking back on her life and her decisions in the fictional town of Port William. It’s got the same dreamy, personal narrative style of a Laura Ingalls book, but with a touch more regret. The writing is beautiful, bittersweet, and full of wisdom. However, it’s best read a little bit at a time and digested. 

Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner (Finished 06/23/2017)

In her book, Chasing Slow, Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind is totally honest about her frequent inability to chase slow. Chasing Slow allows Erin to feel back the instagram perfect facade on her life and talk about the pressures we all face to look like our idea of success. Chasing Slow is the kind of book that tells women to have grace with women, including themselves. I happen to think that is an important genre, and I like books like this when I feel like I’m in a slump. I did think that this book lost some of it’s presentation on the Kindle, so I recommend getting the physical copy if you read this book.

The Fluff:

The Woman on the Orient Express by  Lindsay Jayne Ashford (Finished 05/26/2017)

The Woman on the Orient Express is a book about Agatha Christie that is not an Agatha Christie book. Agatha is grappling with the end of her marriage and fighting off a breakdown when she decides to book a ride on the Orient Express under a different name. On her way, she encounters some complex women with secrets of their own. The Woman on the Orient Express is part drama, part historical fiction and part travel book. I found it difficult to track with the multiple characters at times and definitely skimmed some parts. The ending was dramatic, but I found that some of the character’s story lines were a little contrived. It’s a nice mindless summer read, but I wouldn’t pay more than $5 for it.

 

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker (Finished 06/07/2017)

I’ve mentioned before how much I love Jen Hatmaker. This is still true. However, I found For the Love to be a bit scattered and unfocused.  I didn’t see a lot tying the chapters together, and that make them feel too much like blog posts. It’s not that I disagreed with anything that she was saying, but I can’t really tell you anything about the substance of the book either, except that Jen’s got opinions about the leggings-as-pants situation. Jen is such a smart and heartfelt woman that I believe that she can deliver a more polished, meaningful (that’s “impactful” in church speak) message than this. I’m hoping that’s what has happened with her most recent book, Of Mess and Moxie.

In Praise of Women’s Bodies by Gloria Steinem (Finished 06/13/2017)

This is more of an essay than a book. I wish that I had read it in college, so I could have discussed it with others. I do think that it’s important to see women’s bodies as something other than attractive, but capable, strong and powerful.  Gloria Steinem points out that women’s bodies can be important in different ways for different women. It’s easy for feminists to put as many limitations on women as others so, and so I was glad to see Gloria Steinem calling out and praising diversity among women.

The Extras:

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman (Finished 08/30/2017)

 This would make a great book club/small group/bible study book, but it was a little slow on its own.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer (Finished 06/12/2017)

Enjoyable. Good for Jane Austen lovers. Predictable is a good, comforting way. Read it when it’s raining, with tea.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (finished 08/16/2017)

Meh. Reliant on too many tropes. I’d skip this one.

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth (Finished 08/17/2017)

Do not, I repeat, do not read this book while your sister-in-law is in the hospital with post-partum pre-eclampsia. You will give yourself a panic attack. Other than that, it’s great. 

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Young adult book about the child of a Greek god. Funny and enjoyable, I want to read the rest of the series now. A little biased towards western civilization, but I can suspend belief for a young adult novel.

That’s the end of my summer reading list! I’m a little impressed at how much I was able to finish! Now you know I’m already lining up some books for Fall. I’m taking recommendations! What did you read this summer that blew your mind?

Knitting Lifestyle Travel

DFW Yarn Crawl 2017, Part 2!

September 2, 2017
DFW Yarn Crawl 2017 - Part 2!

Yikes, ya’ll! I switched my knit night and I can’t even remember what day it is! Lucky for me it’s Friday and the office is closed Monday! Last week feels like a long time ago, what with Hurricane Harvey and The Great Dallas Gas Shortage of August 31, 2017 (Spoiler Alert: There was no shortage. People just like to panic. Including me…). Even though last weeks feels like forever ago, it’s still important, because it was the final weekend of the DFW Yarn Crawl. I lucked out and was able to visit three more stores, so  now you get to hear about them!

Fleece

DFW Yarn Crawl - Fleece

I didn’t know that Fleece existed before the DFW Yarn Crawl. When I saw the name on my passport, I kinda wrote it off as someplace that would sell more roving and raw fleeces than yarn. Boy, was I wrong! Fleece is a very neat and tidy shop near my old school, SMU. If you’re not looking for it, you might miss it, but be sure to stop because it’s a great little shop. Fleece is bright and clean and organized well.

DFW Yarn Crawl - Fleece

I was happy with their selection, which included Dream in Color and Malabrigo. They seemed to have a large selection of novelty yarns as well. If you need yarn for those arm knitted blankets, they have it here! There was a class or knitting group going on when I went in. Another lady nearby was taking signups for a needle felted pincushion class (they looked super fun, by the way). The staff was very friendly.

DFW Yarn Crawl - Fleece

The other thing that I loved about Fleece was that they have a little coffee station set up with a Keurig and some other options for beverages. I love the idea of knitters gathering in the winter with their coffee and tea and hanging out. I thought it was a sweet touch. It gave the atmosphere a very welcoming and hospitable character. I’m excited to go back.

Holley’s Yarn Shoppe

Despite being somewhat further out of the way, I have been to Holley’s Yarn Shoppe before. In fact, The Hubs has even been to Holley’s Yarn Shoppe before! It was at Holley’s that The Hubs first realized that there were male knitters. It blew his mind. 

DFW Yarn Crawl - Holley's

Holley’s Yarn Shoppe has a large yarn selection, though they do tend to be very faithful to certain lines. They have a huge table for classes and knitting hours and there was a group busy at work when we were there. Holley’s is also one of those blessed stores with a clearly discernible clearance section. I love them for it.

DFW Yarn Crawl - Holley's

Holley’s Yarn Shoppe was having a Twisted Owl Trunk Show during the yarn crawl, and I was loving the bright colors and speckles. I wish I could have brought a skein home with me, but I had to be judicious with my yarn choices. Totally had my eye on some colors though…

Yarn and Stitches

DFW Yarn Crawl - Yarn and Stitches

Yarn and Stitches has the distinction of being the only yarn store on my way home from work. It’s also open late on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which means I can actually stop on my way home. Yarn and Stitches has a fun selection of yarns. They have plenty good staples, but some fun locally dyed yarns as well. I always feel like I have to circle the shop 10 times before I’ve seen it all.The staff at Yarn and Stitches is always really friendly. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is a worker and who is just a regular, since they’re all so familiar with each other. It’s fun to hear them chatting while you shop though. 

Knit Picks Interchangeable Tips

The other thing that I like about Yarn and Stitches is that they carry Knit Picks interchangeable needles. I have an interchangeable kit, which I love. However, over the years, I’ve rubbed the finish down on some of my tips. They were starting to feel really rough! I bought new size 4 tips for my current project and oh my gosh it made a difference! Everything feels much smoother now!

I’m losing the race against time to finish my summer knitting list (though I rocked my reading list!). The 19 inches of straight stockinette in the Del Sol Tank is killing me. In a cotton blend, too! But the end is in sight, and I think I finally found my fade, so I’m looking forward to some good fall knitting soon! What about you? Any exciting projects coming up? I’d love to hear about your plans!

Knitting Lifestyle Seasonal

DFW Yarn Crawl 2017!

August 24, 2017
2017 DFW Yarn Craw

Hello Everyone! We are currently in the thick of the DFW Yarn Crawl! Anyone else participating? I’ve never done a yarn crawl before, though I’m familiar with the concept. My mom used to work at a quilt store and they would do similar events. Every so often a bus would drop a load of quilters and they would swamp the store until the bus came back again. While the yarn crawl did have a bus, I chose to use my favorite form of transportation: my husband. (It goes without saying that I let him drive me everywhere so I can knit.)

I’ve been able to visit 3 shops on this yarn crawl so far. It’s not over yet, so I’m hoping to add at least a few more. So far I’ve been to Jacob’s Reward Farm, Mckinney Knittery, and Fiber Circle. 

Jacob’s Reward Farm

DFW Yarn Crawl 2017 - Jacob's Reward Farm

Until the Yarn Crawl, I’d never been to Jacob’s Reward Farm. It’s super close by and I passed it all the time without knowing it! It’s a teeny tiny little place, but they did have a trunk show going on for the yarn crawl. If you’re interesting in getting into spinning, this is a good stop for you! They have lots of spinning paraphernalia, including spindles, carding brushes and roving. 

2017 DFW Yarn Crawl - Jacob's Reward Farm

I don’t spin much these days, and never got past the “park and draft” phase with a drop spindle, though I’d love to return to it someday. Due to my lack of spinning ability, I don’t buy roving very often. That being said, I have become seriously obsessed with weaving this week and love the way roving looks in that, so I may need roving after all. If you’re not looking for spinning supplies, there’s not a lot at Jacob’s Reward Farm. However, they do sell farm fresh eggs if you give them a call ahead of time, so I feel like this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

McKinney Knittery

2017 DFW Yarn Crawl - McKinney Knittery

The McKinney Knittery is my home base of yarn stores, where I go once a week for knit night and generally keep up with their stock. They are an easy favorite, and despite being tiny as well( Their address is 106 1/2 S Church St! It’s like Harry Potter or something!), they stock an impressive array. I went mostly to check out the Lazy Cat trunk show, though they’ve gotten in Madelinetosh and Long Dog yarns since I was there(on Saturday), so I may have to go back!

2017 DFW Yarn Crawl - McKinney Knittery

While we were there, we were able to visit the shop owner Ginger, her puppy, and her husband, who was stationed outside making root beer floats. You guys know I can’t turn down a good root beer float. I didn’t buy anything at McKinney Knittery, because I am saving myself for their Hedgehog Fibers shipment (though I could maybe be persuaded if some Long Dog yarn matches the fade I’m putting together), but I will be back in the near, near future and I’m always excited to see what is new. 

Fiber Circle

2017 DFW Yarn Crawl - Fiber Circle

Whenever we get a new knitter at knit night, they invariably get asked this cryptic question, “Have you been to Fiber Circle yet?” Despite my best efforts, I had never been there prior to this weekend. My mom and I tried to drive up to Farmersville to go there once, but it was closed. I’ve heard that it has strange, unpredictable hours, and that sometimes you have to call first before going. The phrase “call first” elicits a huge “nope” response for me, since calling people is a huge part of my job and I prefer not to do it in my off time. Hence, I’d never been to Fiber Circle. 

2017 DFW Yarn Crawl - Fiber Circle

My lovely, dashing hubby was so kind to drive me up to Fiber Circle during the yarn crawl and he got to witness it with me. All I can say is, now I know what people are talking about! Fiber Circle is the biggest yarn store in the DFW area. It might even be the biggest yarn store in Texas. and it is stuffed! Like, to the ceiling. Fiber Circle was freaking The Hubs out, and he’s normally pretty chill about yarn!

2017 DFW Yarn Crawl - Fiber Circle

I’ve never seen so much yarn in one place. They have yarn of every different type, from hand dyed to Lion Brand. The only catch is that you have to find it in their store! I couldn’t tell if there was a system to what yarns went where, but it’s not easy to find things there. That said, the staff did checked on us frequently, and we were able to find what we needed. I did pick up one skein here, so add to my Find Your Fade stash. It’s coming along nicely…

Find Your Fade

So far I’ve kept it local on this yarn crawl. With a lot of family and church stuff going on, I wasn’t ready for a huge trek to Fort Worth. Plus it gives me something to do next year! I’m hoping to hit a few more of the Dallas shops, just to round out my passport. My husband even offered to drive me there….

Anyone else doing any yarn shopping this weekend? What are you looking for.