Books,  Knitting

Unraveled Wednesday | A Mixed Bag.

Today’s unraveling is a mixed bag of things (still) in process, things finished and things up next.

Still in process Thing #1: Portage. I’m now well into the body. That gorgeous texture on the back is slow going, but the wrong side rows go quickly. and isn’t that cable detail down the side pretty?

Still in process Thing #2: A second sock. I’m pleasantly surprised the stripes are matching up so nicely. They won’t be identical twins, but they’re for sure very closely related!

Finished things – two books!

Much of that Portage progress is due to listening to Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. I originally listened to this in January 2017 and loved it. I chose it for my neighborhood bookclub (our February meeting) and wanted to re-read it. I left my rating at 4 stars, but I’m thinking it deserves at least another half (and maybe a whole).

Lillian Boxfish Takes a WalkLillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

2019 – re-listened for bookclub. must say, I loved it even more the second time around (it’s the first book I’m adding to my 2019 favorites shelf!).

Xe Sands’ narration is brilliant. She includes a wonderful interview with Kathleen Rooney at the end of the book that gives helpful insight into both the importance of narration and the development of the book. Rooney based Lillian on real-life Margaret Fishback; much of the material (including many of the poems) came from Margaret’s life. I’ve spent more time in NYC since that early 2017 listen (my daughter now lives in Manhattan) and I have to say … walking through that city is one of my favorite things to do.

I have a greater appreciation now, too, for Lillian’s civility. In an interview with Michelle Johnson (…), Rooney talks about this:

Johnson: In addition to walking, civility is a high value for Lillian. Is that due to the copywriter she’s based on, Margaret Fishback, a concern of yours that you’ve shared with Lillian, or simply a character trait appropriate for her?

Rooney: Fishback valued civil behavior, too, and wrote a witty guide to manners called Safe Conduct: When to Behave and Why. It came out in 1938 and is sadly out of print, but the advice in it holds up because good manners are timeless.

Also, Margaret’s—and therefore Lillian’s—esteem for civility is a trait that I admire and strive to share. Courtesy and politeness are sometimes derided as fake or phony. (Sidebar on this point: I despise when people claim that they have to give [a certain politician] credit because “at least he’s honest,” as if the only way to be honest is to be blunt, hateful, rude, and crass; that’s not honesty, I’m afraid, that’s being an asshole and it’s disgusting and dangerous.) Or graciousness gets dismissed as formal or distant, but to me that’s a misunderstanding of the power of civility. True civility means to meet people in the way that you’d hope to be met—with generosity and goodwill and a belief in equality: that everyone you encounter has something to offer.

I also finished Letters to the Lost. It was a real book that I borrowed from the library because it was suggested “if you love The Shell Seekers”. It was a great recommendation and I did enjoy the book (in spite of taking over two weeks to read it … blame it on the knitting).

Letters to the LostLetters to the Lost by Iona Grey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars … a lovely story told in current day (well, 2011) and WWII London. With happy endings all around, this was a most pleasant break from the real world.


Up next Thing #1Warlight. I took it to Europe last fall and it turned into a pumpkin before I’d read much … I finally got it back and I’m looking forward to it.

Up next Thing #2 – another pair of house socks for my mom. We visited a new-to-us yarn shop this morning and she chose this skein (Malabrigo Arroyo in Arco Iris).I’m thinking they’ll be fun to knit and fun to wear!

I’m also thinking it’s nice to have a projects in all stages … and wondering what I’m going to listen to next!

Joining Kat and friends to talk about all things unraveled.


  • Vera

    Oh – love your Mom’s choice of yarn. A very fun yarn and happy! Your sweater and socks look wonderful. The details in the sweater are gorgeous.

    I’m going to look for the Lillian book – sounds great.

  • Carole

    Those stripes on the socks are great – I love fraternal socks! And the yarn your mom choose is so cheerful, those will be fun to knit. Enjoy your knitting and reading!

  • Sara

    That Malabrigo is going to make some gorgeous socks!

    I agree with you about civility. My sort of unofficial mantra this year is “When in doubt, choose kindness.” It doesn’t take any extra effort to be kind to people, even if one is in a bad mood, so why not choose to be kind?

  • Kym

    I love the texture on the back of your Portage cardigan, Mary. It will be so worth the extra time and effort! Happy knitting — and reading. XO

  • Patty

    Oh that Portage is gorgeous! I’ve added Lillian to my TBR list as well. I’m going to need something light I think after The Lilac Girls…the WWII concentration camp setting is not an easy read!

  • Margene

    Your new sweater has such beautiful detail! I predict another great knit you’ll wear and wear. The sock yarn is FABULOUS! How fun for your mom!

  • Vicki

    I’m adding “Lillian” to my list! I loved reading your thoughts…

    Your mom’s new socks are going to be gorgeous!! I’m excited about the “soft opening” of our new yarn shop this weekend — it’s been a while since I’ve had a Malabrigo fix! 😉

  • Jeannie Gray

    Thanks for the Letters to the Lost recommendation. I LOVED the Shell Seekers and have reread it every few years since the mid ’80’s when my boss forced me to read it. At the time, Shell Seekers sounded like THE most boring book ever but my boss wouldn’t let up about it. She pretty much threatened to fire me if I didn’t read it. 🙂 I’m so glad she did because it has remained on my Top 5 books list ever since. Letters sounds … not horribly exciting either so perhaps…. In any event, I’ve added it to my Kindle.

  • karen

    the texture of your first project is so beautiful! I bet you cannot wait to wear it. Love the socks, I’ve committed my socks to only be knitted at work so I’ve slowed down on their progress (for now).

  • Jane

    Lovely knitting. That sweater is swoon worthy. Those socks are so closely related they could be twins. How fun that you and your Mom could visit a new yarn shop.

  • Honoré

    I so enjoyed Lillian Boxfish a couple summers ago! She was a fun walking companion. Love the yarn for your mom’s new socks…may she wear them in great health!

  • Lydia

    Love the yarn for the socks. I found some wonderful Margaret Fishback poems I was able to share with my book club when we discussed. She and Lillian are 2 people I would love to have as friends in real life.