Wednesday, September 26, 2012

LaKnitShack or Embracing the Entrepreneurial Spirit

A couple of days ago, I opened my own shop! It's called La Knit Shack, which, in case you didn't already figure it out, is a play on my last name - Labishak. You can find it on at and on Facebook at

Back in middle school, when my brother and I spent our afternoons at our babysitter's house, we both learned to crochet. In college, I met other gals who liked yarncraft and rediscovered my own love of working with yarn. I even taught myself to knit. Since then, I've made gifts and dabbled in sales, but now, for the first time ever, I'm tossing my hat in the ring of business and making a go of it.

Today, I sold this beautiful baby blanket:

Right now, I'm working on another one in a multi-hued yarn, and available in the shop now are these lovely flowered earwarmers:

Check back for new inventory and follow LaKnitShack on Facebook and Etsy to keep up with what's new in the store!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Burn Books! (Or Vote to Save the Library)

Libraries nationwide continue to face tremendous budget cuts. In tough economic times, I suppose it's easier to slash a line item that seems superfluous than another that is agreed to be essential. I've always loved the library. It seems to me that a place that provides free access to information should be kept around so that even if people can't afford to buy the book or the newspaper or the magazine, they won't miss the opportunity to read it. Plus, libraries often lend movies, music, audiobooks, and language-learning resources; provide Internet access; and have resources to help with research beyond the Internet. Best of all, they do all of these things (and more) for free!

Supporters of the library in Troy, Michigan, took a unique approach to saving their library when the local branch of the TEA Party urged voters to deny a 0.7% tax increase that would support funding for the library. Check out this video that documents their guerilla efforts:

That's one way to save a library!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Happy: William Mauvais & Maeva Truntzer Showcase ILHC 2012

I've never been to the International Lindy Hop Championships, but this video makes me want to go. Also, I may have to name my future daughter Maeva for no other reason than it's a lovely name. (Do I need a reason other than that?)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Room: A Review

"Utterly gripping"



These are just a few of the words reviewers have used in describing Emma Donoghue's 2010 novel Room.

(Mild spoiler alert from here on out.)

Five-year-old Jack's and his Ma's lives are confined to the eleven-foot-square room where Jack was born. To protect him, Ma has raised Jack to believe that "Room" is all there is, that everything in the TV is pretend, that they are the whole world--except for Old Nick, who visits in the night. Narrating, Jack tells how they live, how they exercise, what they eat, what they read, how he learns. Ma has created as full a life as she can for him with what limited resources she has, but she is growing restless and desperate and knows that not even her creativity can survive the situation much longer, though her ingenuity, along with Jack's bravery, does save them from it. The second half of the novel, outside "Room," recounts Ma's adjustment to what life can now be--and what it must be as a result of what she has endured, Jack's first regular interaction with anyone but Ma and his experience of a wider world he has only just learned exists, and Ma's continued fierce protection of her son even as she struggles to reconcile the person she has become with the person she once was.


I stumbled upon Room in the bookstore and picked it up because of its simple but eye-catching cover:

Room sat on my bookshelf for months until this week when I picked it up and found I couldn't tear myself away, even during rehearsals for the play. (I sat backstage in the sawdust and hay from the set and read until my entrances.) [Note: The copy I have includes an intriguing interview with the author. If you read the book, definitely check out the interview as well.]

Donoghue's elegant, five-year-old prose captured my heart and broke it in one fell swoop: Jack has no idea that there is a world beyond "Room." His way of seeing his world heightens the contrast between the two halves of the book--the first half of confinement and the second half of freedom that seems, to Jack, incredibly suffocating.

The Ma that Jack portrays also has two strikingly different halves. In "Room," she must be all things to Jack. She is mother and teacher and protector. All mothers are these things (ideally, I suppose), but she has no one to help her, no "village," so to speak. She also has no one to be any of these things to her. Jack doesn't understand that Ma is a daughter, too. Jack doesn't even realize Ma has a name besides "Ma." Outside, as Ma tries to maintain her relationship with Jack while simultaneously re-learning how also to be everything else she once was, she shatters. Donoghue does not manipulate the character into a paragon of virtue, all things perfect, all things managed. Ma is real and flawed and, thus, all the more affecting.

Donoghue challenges the media's tendency to sensationalize stories like these. During an interview with Ma, a television host tries to idealize the experience into an exercise in simple living, assumes she understands what Ma must have thought on finding she was pregnant, directs Ma toward the narrative the show wants to tell rather than the truth. Ma won't play the game. She refuses to make herself the untainted heroine but neither will she let them make her into more of a victim.

Most of the sordid details of Ma's ordeal are lost on Jack and absent from the narrative, which might make this novel more accessible to the squeamish and the highly sensitive, but the story is far from simple and happy. It haunts the brain and sends the reader on a dark trip from one prison to a kind of other and finally, hopefully, to freedom.