on m/m romance, baking, knitting, and occasional smut

Tag Archives: Knitting

This month I’m thinking about the very basics of knitting and crochet. No, it’s not the yarn this time, but those humble sticks we use to push, pull, loop and twist that yarn into fabulous fabric. I’ve got to admit, I have quite a collection of needles and hooks going, and am gradually replacing my older ones with fancier modern alternatives as I get the chance. Here then, is my quick and very subjective history of needles and hooks:

grey hooks & needlesSteel Yourself

Knitting needles have changed. I remember my gran knitting when I was a child, and the soft clicking of the metal needles against each other. They were always metal, always grey, and didn’t seem to get any thicker than about 5mm. The same went for crochet hooks. Okay, you could find plastic ones sometimes as well, but for some bizarre reason the manufacturers thought they would be best in grey too. I have a selection of my gran’s metal knitting needles in my collection, along with a set of grey steel crochet hooks and a fair few of those dull grey plastic ones. They form the early core of my hook and needle collection, and I’m strangely sentimental about them despite finding them rather ugly and in the case of steel, unpleasantly cold to hold.

plastic hooksPlastic Fantastic

Then, about ten years ago something started happening. The plastic started getting funky. This was around the time I picked up crochet again and I was overwhelmed by the choice of hooks. I bought a set of clear plastic coloured ones in sizes up to… wait for it… a whole 10mm! Wow! I even found ones with glitter in that made me insanely happy to use. Yes, I really am that easily pleased by sparkly trinkets.

Got Wood?

But that wasn’t the end of this explosion of consumer choice in craft tools. There were other, traditional materials still waiting to be explored. Wood and bamboo came onto the market and with hefty price tags attached. I have to admit, I was drawn to the natural materials from the outset. Not only do they look warm, but they feel warm and they don’t make that annoying “tic-tic-tic” sound when you’re knitting. Even better, the stitches are far less likely to slip off a wood or bamboo needle than a slippery steel one. I am now a devotee of fancy turned wooden hooks and needles, and one of these days plan to replace all of mine with the gorgeous birch ones from Brittany.

Wooden hooks & needlesThere is one major disadvantage, though: wooden needles snap far too easily when you sit on them and I’ve had to repair quite a few of my finer ones. It’s also not a suitable material for really fine crochet hooks, where you end up having to go for steel again. Fortunately, I’ve now found a more comfortable compromise: crochet hooks with a plastic and rubber grippy handle and a metal shaft. After my initial qualms (looks more like something you’d find in a tool box than a craft kit) I was converted. What makes these hooks particularly suitable for me is that the hook end is tapered rather than inline, which I find much easier to work with. For an explanation of why that’s so important, check out this excellent illustrated post explaining all about what to look for when choosing from different hooks.

knitproneedles_2_1_2_2Going in circles

I used to think that when it came to circular knitting needles, I’d have to go with plastic or metal. Fortunately that’s no longer the case and I’m now the proud owner of a set of beautiful coloured wooden Symfonie KnitPro needles. Better yet, they’re interchangeable! Now I need to learn how the use the things, as I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never dared use them before. It can’t be that hard, though, right? After all, I can knit socks on double-pointed needles.

needles 300XEverybody get funky

Yes, these days there’s almost too much choice when it comes to hooks and needles. Metal ones are now available in a rainbow of colours, as well as with lots of different types of easy-grip handles. Plastic is brighter than ever, and even the wooden ones are starting to appear in all manner of colours. KnitPro do all different kinds of needles and hooks in their trademark rainbow striped wood, or if you want something unique you can even buy ones direct from artisan woodcarvers who will make them in the wood of your choice.

Of course, all these funky tools cost money, but if that’s an issue you can make your own knitting needles with absolutely minimal woodworking skills. Children in Steiner Waldorf schools make their first needles when they learn to knit. Apparently they just use a pencil sharpener on a piece of wooden dowelling then sand off the end. The cap end is made of a lump of beeswax, but it would be easy enough to glue on something more appealing like a brightly coloured bead. You could even make your own custom end caps using polymer clay.

There really is no excuse to stick with the boring grey hooks and needles!

Anyone else out there a helpless addict when it comes to funky hooks and needles, or do you not care what they look like so long as they do the job? What’s your favourite material for knitting needles and/or crochet hooks, and why?

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Josephine Myles first learnt to crochet when she was eighteen. After making one beret that turned into a teacosy and frustrated at the crappy choice of yarn in her local shops, she decided the craft just wasn’t for her. Fast forward ten years, and having a bun in the oven prompted Jo to pick up her hook again to crochet some teeny-tiny baby things. Fortunately, by this time the world had caught up with her and there were all kinds of sexy yarns out there to indulge in. A few years later she taught herself knitting and dressmaking, and she hasn’t looked back since.

When she’s not busy with yarn or sewing machine, Jo can be found with her head in a book, pottering in the garden or running around after her daughter. She should probably get back to writing the steamy manlove novels, shouldn’t she?

Jo’s website and blog: http://josephinemyles.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JosephineMyles
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/josephine.myles.authorpage
Ravelry profile: http://www.ravelry.com/people/Anna-Jo

All photographs either the author’s own, or manufacturer’s publicity shots.


Happy New Year peeps! I don’t know about you, but in the cold, grey doldrums of January my mind naturally does turn to the year ahead and the sort of goals I want to set for myself. Perhaps it’s just a way of cheering myself up after the Christmas season has ended, and I’ll freely admit some of these goals never get met, but even thinking about them helps to energise me. I don’t do resolutions per se, but I do like to have some ambitions in mind for the year, and one or two of those will always involve either learning new crafts or new techniques for existing crafts.

The Knitting Lesson by Eugene von Blaas

The Knitting Lesson by Eugene von Blaas

Which brings me neatly on to my topic for this month: learning a new craft. Much as I might want to be able to master a new craft technique instantly, there’s usually a steep learning curve involved and sometimes the patterns I choose are beyond my level of ability. However, I love a good challenge and attempting the (nearly) impossible is always fun.

But what about getting started in the first place? Do you remember your first time?

Picking up the baton:

I’ll always remember how I was introduced to my favourite textile crafts. Sewing was very much learned at my mother’s knee, and I have fond memories of sitting embroidering with her when I was off school ill (she never made me go in when I felt poorly). Likewise, knitting was taught to me by her mother, my Nanny Moya. To be honest, she wasn’t much of a knitter and preferred smoking, drinking, betting on the horses and oil painting (which she was pretty talented at). However, when I was about eight she sat me and my sisters down with some plastic knitting needles and horrible pastel pink acrylic yarn, then proceeded to teach us the basics of garter stitch.

While the sewing stuck with me and is something I’ve dabbled with all my life, knitting fell by the wayside as soon as my favourite doll had a scarf. I didn’t bother with it again until about five years ago, when a lovely woman who ran a children’s craft group I took my daughter to decided to teach me all over again. This time it stuck, and I’ve been knitting ever since.

The Colour Book of Crochet

The book that got me started

Beret

The beret that turned into a Rasta hat

Crochet, on the other hand, is something I’ve had to teach myself using books. Back in the mid-nineties I was

lucky enough to find myself a second-hand book on crochet with some fantastic line drawings and explanations of the basic stitches (something a lot of modern books don’t seem to be able to equal). Of course, the patterns were very 70s and as I didn’t pay any attention to the concept of tension or gauge, the hat I crocheted looked absolutely ridiculous. It might have been big enough to fit over my mass of dreadlocks, but the wannabee Rasta look really wasn’t working for me!

Passing it on:

To my mind, one of the most rewarding things about learning a craft is in passing that knowledge on to someone else. Of course, it can be ever so slightly galling when they really devote themselves to it and their skills quickly surpass yours, but I’m also really proud of all the people I’ve got started who’ve then gone on to greater things. I just remind myself that I’m too much of a craft omnivore to attain true mastery of any one craft—a Jo of all trades, perhaps 🙂

Paula's scarf

Paula’s very first knitting project

Over the years I’ve taught many different crafts—some professionally in a workshop setting, like mosaic making, furniture painting, trompe l’oeil painting—and many others to friends who’ve expressed an interest and were willing to sit still long enough for me to show them. It’s my latest student I’m most proud of, however. My good friend Paula has always told herself she didn’t have the patience to learn to knit, but over the last few months she’s made herself a gorgeous, oversized garter stitch scarf using chunky yarn. It looks amazing on her, and best of all, after a few early panicked “fix-it” sessions with me, she gained so much confidence that she was able to diagnose a lot of her own mistakes and fix them all by herself. I’m hoping to teach her a few more stitches this next year, and I’m going to really enjoy having a close friend to go yarn shopping with!

Options for learning a new craft:

  • Find a good book. Stitch ’N Bitch by Debbie Stoller is a classic for learning the basics of knitting and I still refer to it occasionally. Ask other experienced crafters which books they’d recommend to a beginner.
  • Find a crafty friend and bribe them to teach you all their arcane secrets. It helps if they’re the patient sort who aren’t going to make you feel silly when you make all those mistakes that are bound to happen. If you don’t have a crafty friend, you might be able to join a local group of crafters who meet up and persuade one of them to teach you. It’s been my experience that the vast majority of crafters are really keen to pass on their skills to newbies.

    cary_grant_knitting-thumb-430x322-119215

    Cary Grant learning to knit

  • Search for local classes and workshops. These days many yarn shops and haberdasheries make ends meet by offering short crafting courses. I’m spoiled for choice even in my rural Somerset town!
  • Search online. Not only are there thousands of wonderful free tutorials out there for almost any craft you can imagine (in text and photo or in video, depending on your preference), but you can also sign up for more advanced, paid for classes at venues like Craftsy.com. I’ve only just started my Craftsy adventure but I can see that it’s excellent value for money and will definitely be signing up for more in the future. You can work at your own pace through the video tutorials, interact with your teacher, chat to other students and download all kinds of helpful materials.

My personal crafting goals for 2013:

This year I aim to make a new item of clothing every month. Many of these will be dressmaking projects as that’s much quicker than knit or crochet, but by the end of the year I do want to own at least two more cardigans made by my own fair hands (one of which will be my Craftsy project, Jennifer Hansen’s Rebel Lace Cardi), along with a couple of more luxurious items for wearing out to cabaret evenings, such as some lacy opera gloves and a filigree shawl. I also want to have made a few macramé items (a belt and a bracelet), and to have fully mastered the skills of broomstick lace and hairpin lace.

I’d also like to introduce at least one more person to the joys of knitting or crochet. So many of my friends say they’d love to but they don’t have the time. I’m just going to have to help them find it!

How did you learn your favourite crafts? Have you passed those skills on to anyone else yet? And do you have any specific crafting goals for 2013? Do share! I’m terribly nosey like that ;D

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Josephine Myles first learnt to crochet when she was eighteen. After making one beret that turned into a teacosy and frustrated at the crappy choice of yarn in her local shops, she decided the craft just wasn’t for her. Fast forward ten years, and having a bun in the oven prompted Jo to pick up her hook again to crochet some teeny-tiny baby things. Fortunately, by this time the world had caught up with her and there were all kinds of sexy yarns out there to indulge in. A few years later she taught herself knitting and dressmaking, and she hasn’t looked back since.

When she’s not busy with yarn or sewing machine, Jo can be found with her head in a book, pottering in the garden or running around after her daughter. She should probably get back to writing the steamy manlove novels, shouldn’t she?

Jo’s website and blog: http://josephinemyles.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JosephineMyles
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/josephine.myles.authorpage
Ravelry profile: http://www.ravelry.com/people/Anna-Jo

All photographs either the author’s own, or now out of copyright.


Damask (Lace Shawl)

Congrats to

Cel

for winning a knit garment of her choice knitted by me. I’ve already written Cel to let her know. Since she seemed pretty excited that she might get someone to knit Damask (pic left) for her, I figure she’ll probably get back to me), however the rule still applies. Reply to my email within 48 ours from now or I’ll need to pick a new winner. So, thanks for playing everyone and thank you all for stopping by and commenting! If this goes well I might be able to do another one of these sometime soon 🙂 Though, this being a pretty complicated pattern this one will take me a while, so not too soon!


***Update Note — See the Giveaway Info below for those looking to enter outside of North America***

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Before I get to the knitting bit, I want to wish all of you who celebrate today a Merry Christmas! I’m at home because we’re getting a snowstorm today. For the second time in my lifetime (the first in 2009, when we actually had a blizzard with almost 20 inches of snow) the state of Oklahoma is getting a white Christmas today. It’s supposed to be pretty nasty this afternoon, so we’re staying home and celebrating with our family in a few days.

So, stay safe and have a very happy holiday! To get in the spirit I want to share with you Pentatonix’s rendition of “Carol of the Bells” below. For those of you who don’t know Pentatonix, they’re a really really wonderful a capella group of 5 who do the most kickass renditions of songs. They won The Sing Off last year at this time (sadly, it was the last year of the show) and Tina and Laura (of The LL’s Word) and I would watch every week in awe of this group. They now have their first album done and a holiday album out last month, which this song is from. Enjoy! This song features the incredible vocal stylings of cutie-pie Mitch, who you’ll all be happy to know is gay.

Knitting Giveaway!

I’m so excited about this! A lot of you got in contact with me about this giveaway as well, so I hope you’re excited too. I’ll give a list of all the details below, but I’m going to keep the giveaway open just a bit longer to give more people time to sign up, especially since it’s around the holidays and some of you might not be around for a few more days.

Here’s How It Works:

Drawing Details

  • I am offering to knit the winner one garment of their choice.
  • The giveaway is open from now (12/25) until January 3rd at Midnight CST.
  • I will draw the winner using Random.org and write to them on January 4th, as well as post the winner on the blog. The winner will have 48 hours to get back to my email, or I’ll be forced to draw another winner.
  • I will work with the winner on the pattern and yarn of their choice and the other details.
  • The winner agrees to allow me to post about their garment of choice on the blog if I want to post pictures, etc.
  • International residents are welcome to enter!

Knitting/Pattern/Yarn Details

  • I will buy the pattern (if I need to), yarn, or anything else I need to make your garment. This is a giveaway and my gift to you this Holiday Season 🙂
  • I have made a list of the patterns that I’m most familiar with, have knitted before myself, or have earmarked that I’d like to knit. It ended up being a fairly large list and I’m posting the pictures below. I hope that it doesn’t make the page too hard to load! But take a look and see if there’s anything you’d like.
  • If you win and have an idea of something you’d like or a pattern of your own you’ve found and you’d like me to knit for you, then by all means share it with me. We can work on what you’d like together.
  • I’m limiting the types of garments I’ll knit to Mittens/Gloves, Scarves/Shawls, Wristwarmers/Legwarmers, Hats and Socks — or, anything of similar size or monetary value (yarn, pattern, supplies, etc.) I’m willing to pay for yarn, etc. on anything I have listed here, but I retain the right to say no to a project that will cost me too much money, which is why I haven’t listed anything like sweaters, etc. Those also take a lot more time. Another thing I’m not including is amigurumi, the art of knitting/crocheting animals and the like. It’s just not something I have experience with, though Jo’s recent post has piqued my interest! Maybe I can get some practice and include it next year 😀 I suppose it someone wants a cocksock though, I can knit that, LOL. I won’t ask too many questions 😉
  • I will try to get you your knitted item as soon as I can, but please bear with me if it’s a larger project or takes me a bit of time to get the supplies together, etc. I won’t be able to pin down a time when I’ll be able to send you your garment until I’m working on it.
  • While I might have to steer you in certain directions depending on my level of skill or funds, I promise that most of the decisions will be yours. I’ll give you an option of yarns after we decide on a pattern and the color will be up to you to decide on.
  • While I can crochet, I’m limiting this giveaway to knitting because I’m just not confident enough in my skill at crochet. So, knitted items only.
  • During the beginning process of working on the pattern, etc., you’ll be able to let me know preferences. For instance, if you have any allergies, that can be taken into account, or if you’d prefer a yarn that is very soft or mildly scratchy, etc. I’m fairly knowledgeable about fibers so I’ll be able to give you information about that.
  • And lastly, I’m a fairly proficient knitter. I’ve been knitting now for just over ten years and I’ve knitting in quite a lot of different styles. I’m able to knit anything I’ve listed below in the patterns and if you send me something that I won’t be able to do I’ll let you know up front. But, I will probably be able to accommodate whatever you’d like, so feel free to let me know what you are really interested in, if not something below 🙂

Patterns

*Each picture will take you to the pattern details and more pictures, if you want a better view

Mittens/Gloves

Arrowhead Mittens34th & 8th MittensAlmeara GlovesCarlisle MittensGloaming MittensSpiral MittsGrove MittensShipyard MittensChinook Fingerless GlvoesHege MittsBurnham MittensParson MittensFlint MittensLockhart Mitts

Scarves/Shawls

Convoy (Infinity Scarf)Daybreak (Shawl/Scarf)Glacier SweepPurl Ridge Scarf (Infinity)Quinnipiac (Cowl)Wayfarer ScarfGeysir StretchLongview ScarfFeatheron (Infinity Scarf)Color Affection ShawlThorn ShawlSempervivum (Lace Shawl)Barndom (Shawl/Scarf)UpperCross (Shawl/Scarf)Damask (Lace Shawl)Kindling ShawlLumen (Lace Shawl)Guilder ScarfOslo ScarfQuill (Lace Shawl)Sweetgrass CowlClemence (Infinity Scarf)Spruce Forest (Lace Shawl)Elfreide ScarfFarthing (Lace Scarf)Leaves of Grass (Circular Lace Shawl)Pei CowlSakura (Lace Shawl)Stonecrop (Lace Shawl)Thayer (Lace Scarf)Wexford (Lace Scarf)Nero ScarfSt. Léger Cowl

Hats

HabitatForge (Brimmed Hat)Turn a SquareQuincy (Side-Brimmed Hat)MuirNorbyAurora Expanse (Ombre Hat)ScrollworkZeebeeVertitwistFortnightTildenWanderer CapNinian (Hat or Tam)IrvingBayardFjordOljettPolar (Earflap Hat)Seasons HatRavensfootJaffrey Cap (w/ a REALLY cute guy!)Jaffrey TamRosebudSt. Léger CapVega

Socks

Boyfriend SocksInglenookSlideTrellis Socks

Legwarmers/Wristwarmers

In Defense of Tights LegsIn Defense of Tights ArmsGelsomina

Patterns are all linked to Ravelry, the social media of all things fiber. The large majority of these patterns are designed and published by Brooklyn Tweed and their various publications: Wool People, BT, and Jared Flood, by various designers. Many other patterns are designed by Stephen West of WestKnits. Both places are my favorites for patterns online, and Brooklyn Tweed has a great new yarn line with fabulous, solely American produced yarn!


Title: A Knitter in His Natural Habitat (Knitting #3)
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 51,455 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Knitting/Fiber Arts, Mafia/Mob, Secrets & Lies, Man Sluts!, Funny Guys
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Stanley’s life took a left turn at a knitting shop and hit a dead end. The closest thing he’s had to a relationship breaks things off to date a “nice boy,” and none of the pretty young things in Boulder’s limited gay scene do it for Stanley. He needs to reevaluate whether working as a floor designer for a series of craft stores is really where he wants to be.

Then Stanley does a peculiar thing: he starts to live the life he fell into. Stitch by stitch, he knits his life into something meaningful. Just when he does, Johnny, the store’s new delivery boy, walks in.

Johnny is like no one Stanley has ever met: he doesn’t believe in quickies in the bathroom and has a soft spot for theater and opera. There has to be a catch. When Johnny’s dark past comes back to haunt them, Stanley realizes how much he loves his cushy life in the yarn store—but he’ll give it all up to keep the man who makes his ordinary life extraordinary.

REVIEW

I admit, I was a bit worried to read this book. I loved Stanley in the past books (or at least, I knew I would once we got to know him better), but I loved How to Raise an Honest Rabbit so, so, so much, along with Jeremy, that I wasn’t sure if this book could live up to my feelings about that one. In a way it did, but in some ways it didn’t.

Stanley is an old party boy — or at least, that’s how he feels. Never has he had a real relationship, just quick fucks in clubs and one night stands. His “relationship” with Craw is a perfect example of this. Just sex, no strings. But when Stanley is shoved aside when Craw meets the love of his life, Ben, something changes in Stanley. He’s sad, and suddenly his life doesn’t seem so fabulous anymore. Could it be that he really wants something more?

In a style reminiscent of a How To Guide, Stanley decides to make over his life. First, he has to get rid of the men and focus on himself. And what better way to do that than by learning to knit? He knows, technically, how to knit, but not do anything more than garter stitch. And he’s worked for years at a knitting store! Plus, knitting is permanent, and as the rhythm and care that goes into his projects starts to translate into his own life, he realizes just what hand-knitted items mean. They’re personal, and so by knitting, Stanley finds that he’s not quite as settled in his life as he thought. Knitting brings about new friends, a new life, and a new man — who seems to go against all the rules of his old life.

This story sees the return of Stanley, Craw’s past monthly arrangement in town whom we first met in the first Knitting book, The Winter Mating Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters. He’s flamboyant and seems carefree, he’s outrageously funny and a self-proclaimed slut who will bend over for just about anyone. He likes sex, it’s just that until now, in his mid-thirties, he hasn’t even considered what life might be like trying to get to know someone before he lets them screw him. It’s a novel idea, and one that takes hold in his brief bout of manless depression just when he meets Johnny, the new deliveryman. It is important to read these stories in order, because of the way the characters are intertwined and how events happen in time. Because of that, we (the reader) know Johnny from the past book as Gianni, the man who saved Jeremy’s life and allowed him to escape the mob. We also know his backstory, and the events that led to him turning state’s evidence and now living in the area under the protection of WITSEC. Stanley, however, is not only blind to “Johnny’s” past, but the whole relationship thing is new to him anyway.

I like Stanley in this book, he has real gumption and we get to see him really surprise himself. The change in his life and then his subsequent new relationship with Johnny teaches him a lot about himself, his past, and what is important to him. Watching him stumble through a series of revelations most go through in their twenties (he’s a late bloomer!), paired with his humor and lack of filter, makes for an almost slapstick like prose. Stanley is almost always inserting his foot into his mouth, either by words or actions. He’s flailing, trying to find solid ground since he jumped in feet first. Not only is that fun to watch, but it is also good because he learns how strong he is, and that was satisfying to read.

The problems I had stemmed mostly from the fact that this book had to be absolutely spectacular to live up to my feelings of the previous book. But, I did find the mob/mafia sub-plot to be somewhat strange. While it all made sense, and didn’t bother me by itself, I found it left a lot less room for Stanley and Johnny to really get to know each other on page, and I missed that.

One thing that I love about this series, and this book carried on with this from the previous ones, was all the detail of knitting, yarn and production. I love reading about that, as a knitter, and reading these stories, this one especially, made me itch to pick up the needles. It is all about the joy of knitting, and what knitting really means. And I’m not sure that a non-knitter really understands, or might even find that sentiment hokey in these books. Watching Stanley in particular learn to knit was fun and carefree and I was always looking forward to what he was knitting next 🙂

Fans of this author and this series will definitely want to read this book, and I found it a really worthy addition to the others in the series. It might just make you want to learn to knit! Plus, if you haven’t read any of Amy Lane’s knitting novellas, you should check them out and remember that I said you should read them in the correct order.

Now, I’m off to knit!


Title: Sock it to Me, Santa!
Author: Madison Parker
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 13,300 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Young Adult Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, High School, Closeted, Knitting/Crafts, Secret Santa
Rating: Loved It!

BLURB

Ryan is assigned to Jamie Peterson for his class’s secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant  and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It’s a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he’d be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he’s going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that’s the reason he’s putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn’t be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?

REVIEW

I have to say, this might be the cutest story I’ve read all year!

Ryan is just admitting to himself that he likes guys, but it is difficult and scary keeping such a secret in high school, especially when his only friend has a lot to say about “fags.” He’s scared to get close, in any way, to Jamie, the queer kid. It is social suicide. When he draws his name for Secret Santa in their study hall, Ryan has to figure out a way to make three gifts for Jamie without them knowing it came from him. The problem, is that now Ryan has started noticing Jamie, he can’t get him out of his head — and he starts to see just how hard a time Jamie has in school. Maybe he can make a few gifts to cheer Jamie up.

Not only is this well written, plotted, paced, and pretty much everything I could think of, this is such a feel good story, a perfect young adult story… it is just completely heartwarming. I knew I wanted to read and review this immediately when Madison contacted me. I mean, knitting…young adult boys… secret santa. It just sounded cute. But then I heard from a friend that they loved this story and I just couldn’t wait to read it — I barely made it through finishing the novel I was reading before jumping in. And it completely lived up to my expectations. Sometimes the best thing about a story is the way it makes you feel, and this will give you the warm fuzzies. You’ll fall in love with Ryan and Jamie — the latter because he needs a good cuddle, and Ryan because he’s so honorable, yet still a confused kid. He’s the kind of guy you want to champion, yet still give him a gentle kick the in ass to get him back on track, simply because Jamie needs a champion of his own. I loved them both.

And it made me want to knit a sock monkey!

So, I definitely recommend this story and I’ll be looking out for this author’s work in the future 🙂 It’s a perfect story for the stressed out holidays! So for those of you eating Turkey today (or tofurkey, or yams and potatoes and stuffing), take this story with you to your family dinner and sneak out when the bickering starts! It will make you feel warm and happy again 🙂