Milosz, FictionKNITsta update

Over the weekend I made a few decisions about the FictionKNITsta project. 
After having read the book and thinking about it for a few weeks, I decided a scarf would be the most appropriate thing to knit. Several times in the book, Milosz is found lying down with a scarf on his face; the scarf was left behind by his ex-girlfriend and he lies there with it on his face, as though he is trying to breathe her in. He lifts it up and lets it float back down onto him again, and it is such an evocative image. He misses her terribly but has no clue what to do to bring her back into his life.
So, the item will be a scarf. But what about the colour, the style, the yarn? I chose green because of the many references to growth, plants and gardening, and picked a plant-based yarn for the same reason. Cordelia loves scarves and she is very tall so this will be a super-long scarf to wind around her neck several times or wear very, very long. Since it is a plant fibre, it is very soft and will drape beautifully.
I chose this for the pattern. It is very lacy and open and light, perfect for the Spring tour. It looks complicated but is actually a four-row repeat so should actually be relatively simple to reproduce.(In theory! We'll see—as I've never knitted lace before, this could be interesting!) But I wanted something with a regular pattern because of Robertson, Milo's neighbour who is autistic and needs to see order and patterns in his life.
So, I have the pattern and the yarn. What next? Now to do some swatches with this yarn that I wound last night. It is VERY soft, so I think it will be a challenge to knit with. So, swatch with the good yarn, test the pattern with some scrap yarn, and start the scarf! Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted!


By Cordelia Strube
I am totally thrilled to have been chosen for the FictionKNITsta tour! When I saw the first tweet by Coteau books announcing the Cross-Canada author tour and putting out a call for knitters, I wondered if I would qualify and thought it was worth a shot, as I’ve been knitting for ages and read whenever I can. Also, a bunch of us twitter gals who love knitting and Canadian literature had already discovered the joys of combining these two passions and had recently formed a knitting book club (appropriately called #canlitknit) where we meet at a pub, drink beer, chat books and knit. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon! Three of us were chosen to participate and now we are all busily reading and contemplating amazing garments or accessories, inspired by our books.
When I was assigned Cordelia Strube’s book I couldn’t have been happier, as I loved Lemon when I read it last year and was sure I would love Milosz as well. I was right! Although the books are completely different in terms of protagonist and story line, they are both humourous, despite some of the serious themes, and are peopled with interesting, appealing characters. In the current book, many of them actually live in Milosz’s house! There is Wallace, a junk remover, with his very British mother, Vera, and Pablo, who, without ever having spoken Polish before in his life, learns how to communicate with Milosz’s father Gus, who can speak nothing but Polish; and of course, there is Robertson, the boy next door, who is autistic, and who tugs at Milosz’s heart and protective instincts. I enjoyed getting to know Milosz and his eccentric friends and acquaintances, while contemplating the more serious aspects of the book as well.
I will write a review later, but right now I must figure out something to knit for the author to wear on tour, inspired by something in the book, whether a theme, an item of clothing or even the colours of the cover. This will be a fun challenge and I only have a few weeks to come up with a fantastic idea, so I’m off to do some serious creative thinking!

Mr. Roger and Me

By Marie-Renée Lavoie

From the first sentence of Marie-Renée Lavoie’s debut novel, Mister Roger and Me, we are drawn into the lively world of the feisty eight-year-old Hélène, otherwise known as Joe. Growing up in the 80s with her parents and three sisters, Joe finds life somewhat humdrum, compared with that of her heroine, a TV cartoon character named Lady Oscar. Oscar, disguising herself as a man, is captain of the palace guards in the court of Marie Antoinette, leading a life of dangerous deeds and heroism. Hélène admires Oscar’s strength and bravery and, wanting to be more like her, searches for adventure, hardship and sacrifice in her own life.
In her first attempt at this, she takes on a paper route, pretending to be ten to get the job. Rising very early all alone, carrying the heavy load of papers and delivering them on time in the early morning hours, she has pride in the knowledge that she is doing something hard and having to sacrifice a few hours of sleep in order to do the job properly. This gives her great satisfaction (as well as cash) and helps prepare her for later exploits.
Although her surroundings seem commonplace to her, Joe’s neighbourhood has some very interesting characters wandering around in it, including several psychiatric patients, and a few neighbours who entertain the others on hot summer evenings with their loud carrying-on on the balcony. It’s as good as a movie! Into this mix, Mr. Roger arrives, adding his own brand of local colour with his salty language dispensed from his armchair on the front lawn, where he smokes cigarettes and drinks beer. Ready for the end of life as Joe is beginning hers, the two have some prickly encounters, each side trading insults with equal ability and enthusiasm. They settle into a relationship of tolerance on one side and protectiveness on the other, eventually forming a deep and solid bond, with which both are content.
This book was a delight to read. First encounters between Joe and Mr. Roger are hilarious, and the advice that Hélène’s mother bestows on those not as adept as she at handling their children had me laughing out loud. There are also some genuinely touching moments, particularly between Hélène and her sad father, and of course when Mr. Roger nears the end. But Lavoie depicts these scenes as adeptly as the humorous ones; we feel sympathy and compassion, but it is never overdone or sentimental.
But the main attraction of the book is Hélène/Joe herself. I loved her spunk and determination, her tenderness towards her two younger sisters, and her willingness to help, sometimes anonymously. As the book progresses we see a young girl growing up who never loses her early goals, or her spirit and sense of humour. She is just as appealing as a young woman named Hélène as she was as the girl called Joe.
Lavoie’s wonderful book was translated by Wayne Grady and he does it beautifully. While it never feels like a translation, there is enough French here and there to evoke a colourful and inviting French-Canadian community.
Thanks to House of Anansi for supplying me with the Advance Reading Copy.