Bridget actually said it best

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It’s summer and with summer comes more reading. A friend gave me a book by Jenny Colgan as summer reading and I finished it the other day. I have read some things by Jenny Colgan before and I’ve liked it well enough. It’s chic lit and chic lit might not be my favorite genre but Jenny Colgan’s author notes are so charming that I can’t really help myself. I also like that her heroines are quite accomplished, they have a talent and they know it and they do something about it. I like that. I’ve started to see a pattern though. It’s sort of the same formula in many of Colgan’s books, they only thing that change is the heroine’s talent. They all even fall for the grumpy guy whom they despise in the beginning.

This book – The Little Shop of Happy Ever After – is about shy and bookish Nina who is laid off from her work at a library (they often get laid off in the beginning, often due to budget cuts or a change in management) and buys a van and fills it with books and travels around Scotland to sell these books. In the beginning she is shy but Scotland suits her (I do want to go to Scotland some day) and after a while I started noticing that there wasn’t much of a difference between Nina and the heroines from other books. I think that must be so difficult for an author, to actually change the personality from their different characters, especially if it’s a main one. They so easily become stereotypes, as in commedia dell’arte. Sure, chic lit is supposed to be an easy breezy read but some variety is needed even here.

Main characteras are interesting. I once read a book where I realized towards the end that the heroine was a horrible person. It grew gradually over the course of the book and by the end you really disliked her. I find that very clever and interesting since it’s not often that you don’t like the main character. You are kind of supposed to and most books also make you do that but not this one and I thought that was an interesting tactic from the author, since it wasn’t an immediate dislike from page one but one that grew stronger and stronger.

Nina in The Little Shop of Happy Ever After however, she is very likeable. I like the book references, I love it when I understand them which I often do, but I wonder in her taste in men. She compares them to heros in books, saying that they are neither a Mr. Darcy not a Heatcliff and sure, Mr. Darcy might sound good on paper and we do love him in Pride and Prejudice but in real life, nah, I don’t think so (that’s another chic lit by the way, Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter).  Heathcliff though, he’s not boyfriend material and has never been. Not in the books and certainly in real life (I think he would actually be in prison had he been a real person). He is the reason why I feel a bit scared when I think of the British moors (and Mr. Rochester does nothing to help that sentiment) and no one, not even Emily Brontë herself, could have thought that spending the evening in the garden, shouting Cathy and banging your head against a tree could ever be romantic. There is something seriously wrong with Heathcliff (Cathy herself is not very nice either) and one should never, ever get involved with someone like that. Yes, he had a horrible childhood and Cathy is not nice to him but that is absolutely no excuse to what he does. Stay away from Heathcliff, Nina! I sure hope the guy she actually do end up with (it’s chic lit, the persection of love is its’ sole purpose so there is no spoiler here) is nothing at all like Heathcliff. (Speaking of Wuthering Heights, there you have a book with pretty much no likeable character, neither Cathy nor Heathcliff but also not Edgar nor Hindley and don’t even get me started on that wretched Nelly Dean.) I think Bridget Jones, queen of chic lit, nailed it when she meets Mark Darcy, and says that it struck her as “pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It’s like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting ‘Cathy’ and banging your head against a tree”. So, by all means, pine after Mr. Darcy all you want, Nina, but I sure draw the line at Heathcliff.

Curling edges

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The freaking amazing tank top and I are continuing our journey together. I must say it was easier to knit in linen than I remembered but still much trickier than wool. What is not so freaking amazing is that it’s freaking impossible to measure the pieces. The sides curls terribly and I have measured in all kinds of ways but I keep getting different results and right now I’m just guessing that the front is the same size as the back. I really hope it will all be sorter in the block. We’ll se in a few days.

It gets all the energy I have left

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This week I have a lot to do at work and and I’m also busy in the evenings and there is not time for much else. I have but one knitting goal this week and that is to finish the top. I think it might be doable and I’m quite happy I picked a garment that doesn’t have sleeves. Knit on, knit fast!

A bit of a test run

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I got yarn in the mail today. It’s from a company I’ve never tried before but I’m very intrigued about what I can see on their web page. I ordered two skeins as a test and if this works out well, well, then that’s indeed good information for the future. So far I like very much what I see and it feels good (it is merino though so how could it go wrong?) and it will be interesting to wind it and cast on. I don’t have a plan for them yet but I think they would be lovely as fingerless mitts. A little shawlette wouldn’t be wrong either. The blue especially feels very summer-y.

It’s all angles at this point

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This weekend I’ve blocked my ribbon sweater. It was a fun block, all straight angles, but it still took some time. It takes a while before it’s dry and then it’s just two seams and some ends to weave in. I hope it will turn out well, I’m not sure how much blocking will change ribbon yarn. There are a lot of question marks at this point. What if ribbon yarn doesn’t feel good to wear? What if it doesn’t fit? Yes, I’m very curious how it will turn out. And perhaps also a little scared.

My grandmother’s meringue cake

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I think a lot about generations sometimes. Some things from your older relatives you want to keep and some you don’t. It’s the same whether it’s about furniture – you might want to keep the lovely sideboard in the livingroom but you don’t mind ditching the broken chairs in the basement – or small keepsakes or traditions. I love mixing new traditions with old ones, to make up my own but to also keep things I really love. Every year for my birthday my mum used to make the only cake I liked, my grandmother’s meringue cake. It’s good, it’s crunchy, it’s sweet, it merely use whipped cream as binder and not as a main attraction, it has berries (preferable strawberries in the summer but other berries are fine too) and it’s just so delicious. It’s interesting how much symbolism and memory can be found in food.

A few years ago, when I used to bake a lot (I had a better oven then than I have now), I was looking into making a cake like this and I asked my mother about the recipe. She had gotten it from my grandmother back in 1982 during a phone call where one or both of them were in a hurry and the recipe only said “add eggs” and things like that. Completely impossible to bake from unless you were the one to write it down. This year though, I decided it was really the time. I’m over 30 and it’s time that I take responsibility for this tradition and start taking care of it. What better time to start than midsummer? So, I told my mother and she gave me the recipe, a better version of it than before, and also lend me her oven and her good advice and I made a lovely cake that was much appreciated. It feels good to be able to shoulder the tradition and make my grandmother’s meringue cake. It represents my childhood and hopefully I can make it for future generations as well; friends’ kids and also perhaps my niece and nephew if they ever come back to Sweden. Then maybe someone else will take over when I’m too old to continue. It’s a nice thought.

Take this waltz

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It’s close to midnight and soon this Midsummer Eve will be over. I haven’t picked any flowers to put under my pillow as I already know who I will marry (since that part is already taken care of) but evenings like this make me think of poetry. I told you Midsummer was romantic. And also a little wistful as summer evenings often are. One of the best poems is called A Waltz Melody by the wonderful Nils Ferlin.

With this I wish you a good night and I hope you all had a great Midsummer!

Summer night sunset

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Speaking of the summer night light, tonight was an even brighter night with a lovely melon juice colored sunset. Tomorrow is Midsummer Eve which potentially is the most romantic evening of the year. I heard it might rain, it usually does on Midsummer, but since I have a knitting, I don’t care. It will be lovely either way.

Freaking amazingly crazy

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Summer apparently makes us do crazy things. Or rather, it makes me do crazy things. I blame… the yarn store and the light and my enabling co-worker and language and… well, myself. This is really all on me.  But you should know that the picture in my head is freaking amazing. So amazing in fact that it will probably never happen in real life. But I will dream and the dream is freaking amazing and will make me look just as casual as you never can pull off during summer. Or at least I can’t. I’m usually overdressed in the summer (but hey, I do have a lot of woolen shawls and they are gorgeous and I want to wear them all year round) and when I have been sweating for several days and realize that maybe I can lose the merino cardigan, that’s when some cooler air has come and I walk around freezing, longing for my sweater. But the crazy has happened and my dream is freaking amazing and let’s just stick with that for now.

Two days ago my co-worker (yes, as I said, I could totally blame her) told me that there was some mullberry silk on sale at the LYS. She didn’t just mentioned this in passing but gave me the password to get the discount and also texted me the new price. Yep, enabling (and I love her for it). Of course I went to my LYS. Once there I saw a sign that said the magic word discontinued. This is a trigger word, it means that I have to fully evaluate if this is a yarn that I might at some point in my life feel the absolute need to own. It usually is. The magic word was there and the color was wonderful and I put three skeins on the counter and paid without even blinking. (I also got more mullberry silk than I care to disclose.) Now, there is only one type of (natural) fibre I would never knit in again – linen – and it’s true what they say, never say never, because my three newly purchased skeins are all linen. Three red linen skeins that will become a top to wear with the jeans I just bought and I will look cool and casual (which I rarely do in the summer) and it will be freaking amazing. Now the only problem is that I actually have to knit the top before any of this can happen. To knit in linen… I’d better bring out the chocolate right away.

How much does your life change in five years?

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Okay, so it really isn’t news to me that babies grow. I have made this observation before but it feels like my own life is slowly slowing down while kids’ lives are just picking up speed all the time. During five years in my life it doesn’t happen that much (which is totally a lie but it feels that way) but during five years in a childs’s life there is no end to what will happen.

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My darling little niece turned four a few weeks ago. The first time I met her she wasn’t even two years old and the second time she was just over three. Now she is four. Five years ago I didn’t know her. Five years ago, nobody knew her and nobody knew she was about to enter our lives. In these five years she has grown in her mother’s tummy, she has entered the world, she has gone from baby to toddler to child, she has travelled the world (well, at least some parts of it) and she has learned how to walk and talk and smile and laugh and play and ride a bike and she knows how to say butterfly in three different languages and she has gotten more than 10 knitted items from Aunt Ina.

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My darling niece has gone from nothing five years ago to being a whole little person who likes to go swimming and run fast and gives the best hugs. That’s quite a lot. So what have I accomplished in the same time?

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Five years ago I was about the be dumped by the guy I had been dating for the past 6 months. I thought I was going to have the best summer of my life and instead I lost my job and I got dumped. Since then I’ve got a new job. I’ve taken a lot of classes at the university. I’ve met Julle. I’ve been to Warsaw four times and the US once. I’ve bought my first apartment. I’ve gotten married. I’ve turned 30. I’ve lost a parent. Five years ago I actually already knew how to say butterfly in three different languages but I’ve potentially learned it in a fourth and I’ve knit more than ten different items for my niece.

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I’ve done a lot in the past five years but it doesn’t feel like that much. The truth is though that both me and niece have gotten whole new lives in that time (well, maybe she didn’t get a new life, she was born which is probably much bigger an accomplishment than to just change the life you already have).

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During the next five years she will hopefully learn how to read and write and add and subtract and she will form opinions (and probably won’t like knitted items from Aunt Ina anymore) and she will meet friends and maybe lose some of them and gain new ones. She will read books (some of them probably from Aunt Ina since the sweaters will no longer be as interesting) and get to know more of the world and there is no end to the possibilities.

For me? Well, there is absolutely no way to know what the future holds. But one thing is for sure, it will be interesting no matter what.

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Pattern: Zephyr by Allison Britt. Yarn: Drops Muskat from Garnstudio, color 38 dark purple.