Book Club: The Handmaid’s Tale

Welcome to the second installment of Book Club! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can check out the introduction post here.

The Book

This week I failed the city and didn’t finish my book club book. I’ll finish it before I start next week’s book, but this is not an easy listen. I got obsessed with watching the Hulu series of The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s amazing. Obviously this review is based on not yet finishing either one, but I think the show handles material from the book in a classy and effective way. I will finish the book before watching Wednesday’s finale.

Last week, I read the Codex Alera and that was a MUCH easier book to listen to while knitting. The Handmaid’s Tale is the sort of book that sometimes you just want to stop and think about before moving on to the next chapter. It’s hard for me to stop, put down my knitting, and take some reflection time, but I also think it’s been a really good exercise in taking better care of myself. Mabel the Merciless keeps me on my toes, and generally, if I put yarn down she seizes possession of it.

Anyhow, I think it’s good to sometimes slow down and take the time to really process something. I’ve been listening to the Audible version of the book, and it includes a special essay at the end about what might happen after the book ends. I’m really looking forward to that, and if you are going to go for the audio-book for this one, I think Claire Danes’ performance is spectacular.

We don’t really go into politics here, but it’s not exactly a secret that we fall pretty far to the left of the United States political spectrum. Reading this book now, for the first time during the Trump administration, is an extremely emotional experience. I’m almost certain it wouldn’t have impacted me as much one or even two administrations ago. If you haven’t read the book or seen the show, it takes place in a dystopian future where, after a terrorist attack, the US was overthrown by a far right Christian sect that outlawed just about everything and the people are forced to live a puritanical life. It’s against the law for women to read. Homosexuality and promiscuity are punishable by death. Women are enslaved and raped as gestational surrogates. I know when I describe it, it sounds over the top or far-fetched, but this didn’t happen overnight in the book. Slowly the country accepted the hate and fear and allowed itself to be turned into a caricature of evangelistic nightmares. I think you should watch the show and read the book. This one gets a 5 star review, almost as a default, but either enjoy it on it’s own or choose a project that is a simple, meditative, garter row affair.

The Project(s)

This week I’ve been working on a new shawl design, the Umami Shawl, and finishing up projects for a Ravelry swap. The Swap theme is Supernatural and I’m going for a more subtle interpretation. My two knits, The Piper Hat and Rye Mitts, are unassuming on their own, but I’ve chosen some fantastic witch and tarot inspired buttons to complete them. I’ll show off the Finished Objects on Instagram next week after my swap partner gets her package.

The Umami shawl was more appropriate for this week’s book. It’s simple garter rows, and the construction allows you to track your place with a stitch marker rather than having to count rows. It’s my second project in Coffee Cake yarn, and I’m using my favorite colorway: Sunnydale High. When the shawl is done, I imagine it will look like a dancing flame in this color. I’ve frogged and redone it a few times in the pursuit of perfecting the pattern, and each time I’ve edited it I’ve removed an element to simplify it. I tend to be a more-is-more designer (see also, the Rose Quartz Shawl!), but this one needed clean, smooth, unbroken lines. I’m not sure how much of my concept for it was shaped by reading Handmaid this week. It seems plausible with so much disdain for excess discussed in the book. Anyhow, now that the pattern is adjusted to fit the idea of the shawl I have in my head, it’s flying off the needles. More progress pics soon!

I wasn’t the only one knitting away to dark undertones of Margret Atwood this week! @Knittymumof3 is working on a stunning Mandala while she listened to audiobooks. I don’t know what’s more impressive, her mad crochet skills or that she worked on a complicated project while listening to challenging books!

Tag your projects on instagram with #LandLbookclub, and each week I’ll feature some here!

I need something lighter for next week, so I’ll be reading “Matched” by Ally Condie. Don’t forget to comment about what you are making and reading here and/or on the Lattes & Llamas Ravelry Group.

See you next week!

From each, according to his ability. To each, according to his need.

P.S. For those of you on the Geek-A-Long train: Get your week 25 colorways, Invisible Jet and Mansion Hideout, for half off through today. Click here.