Monday, January 31, 2011
1. The Bard of Bone Plain, Patricia McKillip - Thoroughly satisfying, even if I'm left scratching my head a wee bit as to what exactly happened in the last few pages. It was considerably better than the last couple of books by McKillip, and - as always - her use of language is a treasure. (Even her worst is better than most!) Several of her characters in this book really stood out, and I loved them!
2. And I finally finished My Mother She Killed Me... I know a few of you have already picked up a copy of this brilliant volume of modern fairy tales to read, and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I did!
3. The Painted Boy, Charles De Lint - DeLint has moved away from his Newford books for now, and it's interesting to watch him explore entirely new characters. It perhaps wasn't such a grand idea to read a book set in the desert southwest during a crazy cold, snowy winter as it made me long for something I can't have right now....but that's neither here nor there. My only complaint is that this book seemed to lack the emotional punch most of De Lint's books carry - and I'm not entirely sure why.
4. The Awakened Mage, Karen Miller - I'm perplexed. You might remember that when I finished the first book a couple of months ago I was left with a great deal of reluctance over the second book because of what happened at the end of the first. Miller is a talented writer with an ability to draw you in, and she does write engaging characters. Having said that, I still don't feel as if her work added anything new or interesting to the genre. I liked these books, but then I don't feel as if they were anything special. It's an odd reaction.
1. The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise, Julia Stuart - In a word, delightful! I'd seen the book at B&N, but had never even picked it up so I didn't have a clue as to what it was about. To my delight it was a gem of a book centered around a long marriage and filled with a cast of memorable - and eccentric - characters. It helped that the reader had an amazing English accent appropriate to the setting in the Tower of London. It was both deep and lighthearted, and left me feeling very happy indeed.
2. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen - I think I stumbled onto this book just as the library was making it available in downloadable audio because there wasn't a waiting list - which I would have expected given all of it's buzz. Seriously, isn't everyone reading this...especially after it was let known that Obama had taken it on vacation? A few comments. 1. I realized about 1/2 way through that I didn't like ANY of the characters. They are all rather unsympathetic. (Although I will admit that the female protagonist's autobiographical section is amusing.) 2. It's pretty bad when (around the 2/3 mark) you find yourself wishing that one of the characters would just have a heart attack and die already. 3. If you are going to use an idea as your title, it's perhaps a bit too obvious to then repeatedly smack your readers with long discussions about that idea in which the word gets thrown around way too often. 4. And yet, I listened to the end. The payoff was somewhat satisfying, but overall I'm left with a general sense of meh. I have had some pretty significant prejudices for years against popular contemporary fiction - and this book confirmed most of those issues.
3. Proust Was A Neuroscientist, Jonah Lehrer - Science as explained by art....Or rather, modern science predicted by artistic inspiration. Hmm...maybe the genius of artistic thinking carrying particularly accurate insight into the workings of the mind? Any way you look at it, this is, quite simply, a fascinating book. Each chapter focuses on an artist, explaining their particular insight into the human experience - from memory to taste to how emotion is generated - and then that insight is tied into modern neuroscience, proving why they were right. Fascinating! Now I must go read Whitman and Eliot...although I still have no desire to read Proust. (Lehrer is another RadioLab discovery of mine...and his other book, How We Decide, is also available through our library. I'll be checking it out the next time I'm in the mood for nonfiction!)
4. Middlemarch, George Eliot - The great question is, "How on earth did I manage to get through an honors English degree without ever having read Eliot?" Curious indeed. I actually didn't read any of her work at all until I started using my library's downloadable audiobooks, which converted me immediately into a raving fan. Lehrer reminded me that I've been meaning to read Middlemarch for a long while, and I'm so very glad I did. It was a very satisfying read.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
- I eliminated the side seams, working the body in one piece and then dividing for the armholes.
- I worked the sleeves in the round to eliminate that seam as well. (This does, of course, mean that I had to set the sleeves into the armholes and sew them in. I also had to sew in the saddles.)
- To get the best fit, I used the 42 inch (M) numbers, but then knit to the lengths used by the largest size. My husband prefers a close fit...but he is pretty tall and spindly.
- It's no wonder I was so annoyed with this sweater....I let the project hibernate on the needles for way too long! Never again.
- I was very, very lucky with the yarn. I had originally intended to make this sweater for myself - purchasing enough yarn to make the large size so that I could have a cozy weekend sweater. Lucky Duck me, that was just enough with the modifications I made.
- Cables are still my mother's thing, and not mine. I love the finished look, but they just aren't my favorite thing to knit.
- The husband is very happy, and spent several days circling the sweater as I did the finish work and blocked it. He's a smart man!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Of course, they are quite naturally a highly opinionated lot, and trying to manage the group is akin to herding a large group of cats. How I managed to wind up with that dubious job is still a bit of a mystery....
I knew when I started my blanket project that I wanted to incorporate leftover yarn from as many guild friends as I could cajole into sending me their scraps. After all, not only are they friends....but they are also the knitters most responsible for the type of knitter I've become.
The batch of leftover sock yarn above was gifted to me last night by my friend Shelda. She's gone from being my personal knitting guru to a very good friend....albeit one who's really good at digging up new yarns and patterns to tempt me with. (We have a bit of a competition.....and I always consider it quite the coup if I find a new lace or sock pattern before she does....which I rarely manage.) As she is my partner in the crazy sock plan of 2011, it is only fitting that her yarn is now finding its way into my blanket.
Thank You Shelda!
PS. You most likely have figured this out by now....but yes, I do plan on posting pictures and a wee blurb about each friend who gives me yarn for the grand blanket. Not only will it help me to keep track of things, but it also gives me a chance to introduce you to some important people in my life!
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Child's Zip-Up Cardigan (Again, my ravelry project page)
also by Kristin Nicholas in Color By Kristin
Materials are all the same as above
Time to Knit: June 27 - November 19, 2010
Mods: The pattern was actually riddled with mistakes...and my solutions can be found on my ravelry project page. I found myself doing what a guild friend does - knitting largely from the picture and not the pattern. It was frustrating, but the end results were more than worth it.
She loves it so much that it's already showing signs of wear...and I've already had to repair one pulled float! Makes this mama proud.
Please do check out my Ravelry page if you would like more information about either sweater. I know that I have a lot of readers who aren't necessarily knitters, and so I just don't want to bog the blog down with the details...especially when the projects were so very complicated.
I will say, though, that the yarn - Nashua Handknit's Julia, which was created by Kristin Nicholas herself, is a delight. It was a pleasure to work with, and I'll definitely be using it again!
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
- I haven't been able to get much done for the last week because we've been living in a house of high drama and lots of illness.
- Seriously, I need a break.
- I did rip out that shawl last night and am going to cast back on tonight, going up 2 needle sizes. Honestly, it's a fast knit, and so I don't mind at all.
- Besides, the more I get to work with handspun, the better!
- I owe you LOTS of FO posts....for the girls' Christmas sweaters, for my husband's sweater, for the clogs, for my vest.....Ouch, I'm behind!
- I raided my fiber stash for some pretty pink to give my daughter....and managed to give her a pretty worthless braid of merino/tencel that we way matted. Oh well, it was an etsy purchase and it's the only thing I bought from that seller. Live and learn.
- Now I have to find pink fiber for the child....hmmm.
- I am happily back on my allergy diet. Yay me!
- I took a two week break from it for the holidays, and that was a mistake.
- Then I decided to ease back into it rather than go cold turkey..which was both good and bad. I'm not sure which is the better plan.
- Just an FYI - ice cream and yogurt (neither of which I've had in months) are evil.
- Pizza (which I did have during my break) is also evil.
- A blessing...Patric Chocolate, which is made here in town, doesn't seem to bother me at all. I'm guessing this is due to the fact that it only has three ingredients - Cocoa Beans, Cane Sugar and Cocoa Butter - and my preference for 70% dark, which is low in sugar anyway. I eat it rarely, but it's awfully nice to have something available when I'm desperate!
- I literally haven't been able to go to the gym since Thanksgiving because of illness/holidays/snow days/etc. It's really stunk.
- SO, this week I'm starting over...and man! Does it ever feel good to be back!
- The girls are still traumatized about the Guinea Pigs, and we're considering some options.
- Nothing will be done until the school is out, though, because I don't want to deal with anything else until my babysitting job is over for the year.
- We had two snow days last week...and will probably have one tomorrow. (It's starting now...)
- The girls took turns being sick last week....
- and the Princess's bout with the evil bug ruined all of our plans for the weekend..... including a trip home to visit my parents and celebrate Mom's birthday.
- She had also been invited to a sleepover (I don't know the parents, and so I would have said no anyway.), and knowing she had missed not one but TWO parties pretty much trashed her mood for the rest of the weekend.
- I'm taking book suggestions for my upcoming vacation.
- I'm also taking suggestions for which crafts to pack....there will be sixish hours on the plane (during which I'll have to wrangle children) as well as four days on a cruise ship where the girls will be happily checked into the children's area. Ahhh....
- Redoing the kitchen floor is now a priority.
- As is reupholstering/reinforcing the bottoms of our dining chairs.
- Don't have much else.
Monday, January 17, 2011
The second was much bigger...but also was more of a error in judgement issue rather than an out and out mistake. I had started this shawl - Jared Flood's new Juneberry Triangle - on the recommended needle size with some homespun. I liked the way it looked, and figured that I would be sure to have enough yarn this way. To my surprise, I finished the center portion this morning to find that I had only used 2.5 of 8 oz! As I do NOT want that type of leftover, and as I ALWAYS like my shawls to be a bit bigger...I will be ripping the whole thing out this afternoon and starting over with a larger needle. Not sure yet if I'll just go up one size or if I'll be brave and go up two. (Opinions?)
If it's worth doing...it's always worth doing right, even if that means starting over.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
The little tags you see? Bonnie very kindly labeled each ball of yarn for me.
Which is a good thing, because these three are so lovely that I just might have to track down full skeins for myself....
Nevertheless, the yarn hadn't been in my home for more than an hour before it made an appearance in my blanket, putting a big smile on my face.
Bonnie sent a lovely note with the yarn, commenting on the types of colors she generally prefers. It got me to thinking....what do the colors of my own scraps say about me? There is one obvious answer - that I knit a LOT of socks for other people.
The rest I'll have to think on for a bit.
Thank You Bonnie!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I also still need to do something about the bane of my existence - the plant shelf that wasn't. (It's a long story...suffice it to say that we bought the house just after the foundation was poured, it was one of my requests for the interior...and they completely botched it.)
I'm hoping that by having shared my challenge with you I'll actually do something about it.
At least that's the theory.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
(Ok, the color is between the two pics...my camera just can't get it right, so you get two pictures.)
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Rufus passed this evening. He was fine up until about 4, and whatever this was took him out in less than two and a half hours. I am very glad that I took some extra time last night and this morning to enjoy his company. He was, by far, the sweetest, calmest of the Christmas bunch...and I did enjoy my short month with him greatly. In addition to just being a nifty rodent, he helped to ease my hurt over my cat a bit...and for that I'm grateful.
I'm left with a fairly large amount of parental guilt right now. The Christmas present that we were so wonderfully excited about just completely exploded in our faces, and instead of several years of fun my girls received one really harsh life lesson.
I'll be back to fun posts tomorrow, promise.
After speaking extensively with my Dad, we've decided to take the replacement Guinea Pigs back to the store tomorrow. We purchased them (stupidly in hindsight) when we thought that the first death was a fluke, and that the meds would take care of the others. As whatever this illness was obviously was extremely powerful and didn't respond to the antibiotics, we have no guarantee that the cage and supply sterilization was enough to get rid of it. I've spoken with the store manager, and we are also going to return the cage condo and all supplies, and so financially at least it's not as bad as it could have been. (For the record, it's a reputable store that does quarantine new animals and also does vet checks. We honestly don't know what happened or where the problem came from, but the only time Dad's ever seen something similar it was a salmonella taint that came from another store.) At this point the kids - especially the Princess - are fairly traumatized, and I don't know that we'll try Guinea Pigs again. If we do, we're certainly going to wait for a very long time.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
You see, JoJo is so very calm and laid back that we are all very comfortable with letting the Pixie lead him around the lot. You can imagine how much she loves this!