Post Little Women Thoughts

When I heard that Greta Gerwig was making an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, I expected people to start asking me for my thoughts on it. So I decided to re-read the novel before seeing the film so that I would be best prepared to criticize the movie.

I ended up seeing the movie twice. I enjoyed the movie. I was predisposed to like some of the characters. (I love Meg. I’ve always loved Meg, and I love the way that Emma Watson played her. I really wish that she had gotten more screen time) I felt that it was a fairly accurate representation of the book. (They even included some of the New England Protestant moralizing that I abhor about the book! I’ll give them points for that.) The setting/scenery were solid.

But I had some issues with movie. My companion for my second viewing of the film (a friend who is an excellent writer but also has a certain way of conveying words when speaking) defined it as “interesting,” in a tone that conveyed so much more than that one word seems to express. I so wish that I could convey that “interesting” to you. I’m going to just list them off in bullet points, and then at the end I intend to list off a few things that I did like about the movie.

  • Chris Cooper is too young to be Timothee Chalamet’s grandfather.
  • He’s also too old to have been friends with Laura Dern’s father. That whole thing BUGGED me.
  • Aunt March is the widow of Mr. March’s uncle, NOT his rich spinster sister.
  • The Marches are temperance people. They only use alcohol medicinally. In fact, it’s a significant point that there was NO alcohol at Meg’s wedding.
  • Aunt March didn’t pay for Meg’s wedding.
  • I did NOT like using the same actresses for Amy and Beth when they’re children as when they’re adults. I think that I kind of get the idea behind it, but Florence Pugh playing a nine-year-old and sitting in class with a bunch of age-appropriate actresses felt weird. Yeah, they did things with hairstyles and skirt lengths, but it rang a bit false to me. Eliza Scanlen never stopped being a child to me, and Pugh never could be a child for me. (Also her voice might have had something to do with that. Pugh’s voice is a bit lower than a soprano and definitely lower than a child’s voice.)
  • Amy was whipped for the limes, not the drawing-although she did get in trouble for the drawing. And she went to her sister at Aunt March’s not to the Laurences’.
  • Professor Bhaer really ought to be old enough to have had some experience as a university professor. Also, he should have been played by Oscar Isaac because that’s what I wanted. Also, he should have sounded German because that’s an important part of his character.
  • And while we’re talking about Professor B, when am I going to get a Little Women movie that includes Franz and Emil? I love Franz and Emil. Love.
  • Mrs. March makes a comment that she’s never been proud of her country, which feels very 2020 and very NOT 1860s. There were other lines and aesthetics (hairstyles and fashion choices) that felt a bit too modern.
  • Beth and Meg, the “domestic sisters,” get less screen-time/narrative focus than Jo and Amy, the “creative sisters.” This bothered me because Little Women is a story about sisterhood, and I think that there is a great deal of power in Meg’s and Beth’s narratives

Things that I did like:

  • I actually really enjoyed Amy’s “marriage is an economic proposition” speech. It’s not text from the book but it’s the spirit of the book as I read it. Also, it’s NOT wrong. Marriage for a woman like Amy was absolutely an economic proposition.
  • I loved that Meg’s green silk dress and the ensuing drama made it in the film.
  • I loved the Laura Dern/Saoirse Ronan mother-daughter dynamic. More of that, please Hollywood!
  • Jo’s “I want to be loved…I’m lonely” speech was brilliant. I know so many people (including myself) who have felt that feel. Her concern wasn’t so much about loving others but in her loneliness she JUST wanted to be wanted and loved.
  • Meg telling Jo that she is marrying John Brooke because she wants to! I loved this. I loved the power of this moment in which she acknowledged that she chose marriage and a family over other possibilities. She is choosing to love a poor man. Her eyes are open. The life isn’t always easy, and she does struggle with it at times. But she chose this life willingly.
  • I like Bob Odenkirk. He seems like cool people.
  • James Norton was there, and that made me happy. He was a good if underused John Brooke. He and Emma Watson also had good, solid chemistry.

Overall, it was an interesting film. It’s not my favorite movie ever. It isn’t my favorite Little Women adaptation, but it was enjoyable. I definitely don’t regret seeing it.

FO: My Merriment

This all began five years ago when Melynda Bernardi made a Christmas stocking and sweater for her younger daughter. I saw them on Instagram (and maybe her blog?) and LOVED them. A year or two later, Melynda made an adult version of the sweater for herself, and I wanted one. I really wanted one of my own.

I tried not to be a pest about it, but I did let her know that I wanted that pattern. I wanted to be able to make that sweater for myself. Finally this fall, she wrote the pattern, and I got to have the pleasure and privilege of testing it for her.

I’m completely thrilled with My Merriment. Completely. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. And the resulting sweater is utterly delightful. It’s beautiful.

The pattern is knit in the round and then steeked. (Steeking: That thing where you cut your knitting open and then sew it down so as to pick up stitches for a buttonband. Cutting your knitting, you know, that totally normal thing that people do.) I’d never steeked anything before. Now, conventional wisdom says that you should either get a sweater from a local thrift shop or knit up a steeking practice cup cozy before you cut a sweater for the first time. But you know…sometimes I like to live on the edge. So I didn’t do that. I just went for it. And fortunately, it worked out!

Overall, it’s a great pattern. The colorwork is easy to follow and looks amazing. I love the way that Arbor knits up, and I’m definitely going to use it for colorwork again. I’ll even steek again! If you’re looking for a straight-forward fun colorwork sweater, I highly recommend My Merriment. I love it. (And I might knit it up again as a pullover with a different color palette sometime…

Pattern here.

Raveled here.

FO: A Few Stripes, All Parade

A few weeks ago, I was talking to one of my favorite crafters (pictured below) while knitting this sweater. She started to ask me what pattern I was working on before looking at it and quickly recognizing Stripe Parade. This is my fourth visit to Stripe Parade and decidedly not my last, so it’s not surprising that someone who knows me well would recognize the pattern. I do love this pattern.

Now we need to talk about this sweater. The particular garment has a personality. I started it in mid-July but didn’t finish it until the end of December. It didn’t truly take me more than five months to knit it up. This sweater was set aside MANY times to allow me to focus on a piece with more of a deadline. Also, a sweater dress in fingering yarn takes a while to knit.

But there’s another problem with this sweater itself. (Not me, not the pattern; the sweater itself.) This sweater needed the proper motivation to be finished. It refused to be finished unless it was presented with proper motivation.

What does a sweater consider proper motivation? Well, different sweaters like different things. Some sweaters like books. Some like trips. Some like to watch plays. My recently finished My Merriment liked John Krasinski. This sweater? It liked Chris Evans and Sam Heughan. It insisted upon being taken to see Knives Out three times, and it really likes Knives Out. (Chris Evans in a sweater is apparently this sweater’s jam.) One evening last week, the sweater and I needed some new knitting TV. We didn’t have enough time to watch a full film (sorry, Mr. Evans) and we’d already finished the newest season of The Crown on Netflix. The sweater and I decided to watch an episode of Outlander. It turns out that not only does this sweater like Chris Evans in a sweater but it also likes Sam Heughan in a kilt.

Mercifully, finding things that the sweater liked to watch seemed to get the sweater finished. And I finished it before the end of the year, which I really wanted. It meant that I exceeded my 2019 Finished Object goal on Ravelry by one project. It also meant that I got to wear it to my friends’ annual feast held in honor of the birthday of the great J.R.R. Tolkien, and I really wanted to do that. (It also meant that we took finished object photos at my friends’ charming house, and I was able to wear the dress with the Tolkien jewelry that I purchased from the Bodelian in Oxford.)

I knit the dress using Plucky Feet from the Plucky Knitter. It’s a yarn that I’ve used before, and I really like both for socks and other garments. It holds its shape well and doesn’t pill easily. It’s warm but not too warm. Overall, it’s a great yarn for this project. I used the colors Pure Michigan and Twill. I love Pure Michigan for some reasons that are probably quite obvious (I’m quite fond of my home state) and because I do love a beautiful blue with notes of grey.

I modified the pattern slightly to create a higher neckline, and there are notes on that in my Ravelry project page. I also lengthened the pattern (obviously?) to create a dress. Overall, I’m really pleased with this sweater and I can’t wait to wear it often this winter and spring.

Raveled here.

FO: Pamplemousse

I feel like we’re pretty clear on the fact that I love cables, Thea Colman patterns, squishy yarn, and cocktails. I don’t need to explain that anymore, right?

So, when Thea gave me the opportunity to test her new Pamplemousse pattern, I jumped on it. It was partially an effort to try YOTH’s Father yarn, but it was also because I love me a good warm squishy cable…and this sweater also has a squishy cowl. The color I chose is Rutabaga, which is a stunning purple that I can’t say enough good things about. I loved working with Father, and I’ll definitely use it again.

This pattern doesn’t disappoint. The pattern as written is fairly loose-fitting, but my sweater is a bit more fitted due to some gauge issues. (YOTH Father is a wonderful yarn, but it doesn’t block out as much as the Taiga that Thea used does.) The pattern is easy to follow, and it’s a fun knit. The sweater is cropped, so I styled it by layering it over a tank top with leggings but I can also see myself wearing it over a dress or with high-waisted jeans.

I really love this sweater. I’m looking forward to wearing it this winter.

Raveled here.

Bonus pictures of cats approving of Pamplemousse:

FO: Greyhound Shawl

In early May, Thea Colman announced a Knit Along (KAL) for her Greyhound Shawl in her Ravelry group. The shawl is quite pretty, and I thought that it might be fun to join in. The pattern is written for sport weight yarn, but it’s been knit up using fingering weight plenty of times. And I have more single skeins in fingering weight than I really know what to do with. So I grabbed two skeins of Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn and set to work.

The two colors that I chose contrast well together, but they’re an interesting mix. Harajuku is a gorgeous bright pink. Boombox is a loud variegated skein. I chose to do the lace in Boombox, but I won’t try to tell you that I wasn’t nervous about knitting lace in such a busy colorway.

But the funny thing is that it worked. Somehow the lace pattern and the busy variegation worked well together. I love the way that it looks. It’s perfect shawl to brighten up a simple outfit…hence the fact that I’m wearing it with a black dress in the pictures here. I can also see it going well with a pair of jeans and a plain top. The other day, Joy said that it reminded her of ice cream, and the more that I look at it, the more that I see the bubblegum ice cream that I loved to order when I was in elementary school. (My elementary school self loved nothing more than going to The Parlor and getting a small bowl of bubblegum ice cream.)

The pattern itself is easy to follow. The garter sections are intuitive from the get-go. The lace takes a bit of time to master but once you’ve got it, it’s like potato chips; you just can’t stop. It’s a fairly easy, almost mindless, knit, and the end result is delightful.

Raveled here.

FYI: The indoor pictures were taken at Blom Meadworks in Ann Arbor, MI. The outdoor pictures were taken by the east wall of Literati Bookstore. The words on the wall are taken the public typewriter in the basement at Literati.

FO: Oban Cardigan

To begin, we’re going to review a few points. I really like cabled knits. I love Thea Colman’s designs. I love a good sturdy cabled cardigan. My Oban Pullover might be my favorite sweater ever. (Do I need another one? I’m thinking yes. Watch this space…) I love Brooklyn Tweed Shelter; I think it’s divine.

At some point after she published the Oban pullover pattern, Thea started making noises about not being done with the world of Oban. (There’s a hat too. I need to knit me one or two of those.) She specifically was making noises about a cardigan. The idea of an Oban cardigan really spoke to my heart, and I knew that I needed one in much the same way that a duck needs water. Naturally I began to pester her for this pattern to become reality, and she kindly assured me that she’d contact me when it was ready for testing.

Well, on March 2, Thea made me happier than anything in this world could other than Chris Evans showing up on my doorstep with peonies…and sent me the pattern for testing. Naturally, I (like the totally normal and rational person that I am) immediately drove to Spun and bought a whole bunch of BT Shelter in this beautiful ice blue called “Iceberg.” The Good People of Spun wound it for me while I sat on their couch and knit a sock…and chatted with other customers about the beauty of a good handknit sock. Once they were done, I went home and immediately started the sweater.

So what can I tell you about this sweater that’s supposedly better than Chris Evans with peonies? Well, it’s a v-neck cardigan with cables and pockets. Guys, it has pockets. Like real, usable pockets. It also has a shawl collar, which is darling.

It’s an easy knit. The cable pattern is easy to memorize, and the directions are, as always, really straightforward. The technique for knitting the pockets was new to me, but the directions were clear AND this would work as a swatch as well. You knit the sweater flat, then seam the shoulders, and then pick up stitches first for the sleeves, which are knit in the round, and then for the collar and buttonband. The directions for doing this are quite clear. They require focus, but they are easy to follow.

I love this sweater. It’s warm and cozy. It also dresses up well with a dress but could easily be dressed down with a pair of jeans. I’m looking forward to getting it out of my closet next fall and enjoying it. It really is better than Chris Evans with peonies…not that I’d say no to Chris Evans with peonies…but this sweater is better. (Also, this sweater could easily be adapted into a man’s cardigan if you wanted to make one for Chris Evans, that stupid bearded sweater wearing dork.)

Raveled here.

(Many, many thanks to my friend Laura who photographed my Oban for me at the Matthei Botanical Gardens back on Cinco de Mayo!)

FO: Anthi

Back in the spring of 2014, Hilary Smith Callis released her Anthi pullover. I thought it was lovely, added it to my Ravelry queue, and bought three skeins of a light pink fingering weight yarn from Eat.Sleep.Knit. so I could make the sweater. The yarn (a merino/cashmere/nylon blend) came from a dyer who has since gone out of business, but the pink was lovely.

For one reason or another, the yarn languished in my stash, and the pattern slipped from my memory. At some point in the past two or three years, Joy wound the skeins into balls for me after a cat had played with tangled them, but they continued to languish…until a morning in early June. I was on my floor looking at my stash bins when the lovely balls of pale pink yarn caught my eye. I’ve been wanting to make more spring/summer tops, and this yarn was perfect for that. I remembered the pattern for which I’d originally purchased the yarn and found it. And one very specific design detail caught my eye.

This particular pullover is a relatively simple pattern. It’s just top-down stockinette and following the yoke increases with ribbed hems until you’ve got a sweater. The most unique feature is the ties at the neck. They have a Jazz Age feel to them, and I’m personally of the opinion that “In a world where you can be anyone, be yourself…unless you can be Phryne Fisher; in that case, be Phryne Fisher.” The neck ties felt very Phryne to me, and I knew that this had to join my wardrobe.

I really enjoyed knitting this. It is a more or less mindless knit. You have to keep track of the yoke increases, which isn’t hard honestly, but beyond that it’s great TV or movie watching knitting. This sweater went to the movies twice (it really enjoyed both Late Night and Spiderman: Far From Home) and has been subjected to much of my recent “Oh crap, Death in Paradise is getting pulled off Netflix at the end of July; let’s quick watch seasons 3-7!” lifestyle.

Overall, I’m really thrilled with this sweater. I’m glad to have another summer piece in my wardrobe. I really like that I could wear it with jeans or dress it up a little. And I really, really like that I have a new Phryne-esque piece in my wardrobe. That makes me very happy.

Raveled here.