Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November Reading Report

  1. Dracula, Bram Stoker (CraftLit podcast)  I've decided this is my most read book ever.  This is the second time I've listened to an audio version, and I have no idea how many times I've read it.  One day I should sit down and think about what this means in terms of why I read the way I do.  Irregardless...it never dissapoints.  Having the extra commentary was interesting, even if it didn't provide much in the way of information I wasn't already aware of. 
  2. The Magician, Lev Grossman (Ebook)  For the record, I don't believe that Harry Potter or the Narnia books are oh so precious that they can't be lampooned a bit.  (Although the Narnia movies make my blood boil.....)  I enjoyed it, but I didn't find it as fabulous as so many of the reviewers/other readers have.  It's often described as what happens when normal kids discover they have magic and go to school.  Perhaps my problem is that I was never a 'normal' kid, and so I had a lot of trouble relating to the characters.  I also thought the ending was a bit of a cop out.  I have the second book, and am having trouble getting excited about reading it. 
  3. Thursday's Child, Sonya Hartnett (print)  This is an Endicott selection, and it is fabulous.  In fact, I may have to track down Hartnett's other books.  I also may have to go back to the Endicott book list on Goodreads, which I've sadly been ignoring as of late.  I believe Thurday's Child is a YA or child's book....which reinforces the notion that often the very best books are not written for adults.
  4. Zone One, Colson Whitehead (ebook, library)  It's pretty bad when you fall asleep repeatedly trying to read a zombie book.  I didn't even bother finishing it - even though I found some of the ideas interesting.  This book is getting a LOT of press right now, mostly because Whitehead is not a genre writer.  My problem is that I believe he's incapable of telling a story clearly because he's so caught up in his literary conventions.  I consider myself to be a good reader, and I love it when writers create beautiful non-linear stories.  BUT, I detest fancy or clever just for fancy or clever's sake...and that's what I feel Whitehead has done. 
  5. The first four Harry Potter books, JK Rowling (library CD, copied to my computer!)  I checked them out this summer and then spent hours putting them on my computer so that I could enjoy them this fall.  Soooo much fun!  And a perfect background for handwork and holiday preperations.  I must say that the audio by Jim Dale adds a very great deal to the stories.  Also, it's been so long since I read them that it's honestly like I'm discovering them for the first time.  I do find myself crying quite a bit over them....which is silly, but it happens.  A good story is a good story.  (And incidentally, while I detest the Narnia movies, the Potter movies are among my favorites.  Go figure.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Blankie Love

I am quite happy to report that my blanket is officially at the 30% mark.*

The bag you see in the picture is the Amy Butler bag I made this summer, and it has solved the problem of the thieving cat.  For now.  She hasn't been able to figure out how to remove the yarn balls yet....although I've caught her giving the bag a serious look, so it may not take long.

Under the table you can see my beloved Kiera dog.  I adopted her in 1997, and near as we can tell she's about 15 1/2.  (For her size, this is indeed quite ancient.)  Though she has many old age issues, she's still happy and none of her problems are causing any pain.  However, she is moping because she prefers being on the farm with my parents - where she can run through the fields to her heart's content.

*When I strip my bed this week I'm going to measure the blanket against the mattress...which is how I determined how wide I wanted it to be.  Until then, I'm really just estimating how many squares long the blanket will be.  Ergo, it's entirely possible that I'm well PAST the 30% mark.  That would be exciting!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

News From The Farm

1. The sheep are all now coated, which means that we will have nicer wool next spring.
2. It also means they are considerably less photogenic.
3. It wouldn't be a family holiday without a bit of cow herding in bad weather.
4. Cows aren't very smart.
5. The girls have spent almost all of their time outdoors, despite the chill. Reason #946 why we need a farm of our own.
6. I'm learning farm management for Mom's family farm.
7. Corn and bean prices can be interesting.
8. Dad is going to start making buttons from the Jacobs' horns.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

For These Things I Am Thankful

This is the third year in a row that I've shared my grandfather's beautiful words of Thankgiving.  May you all have a wonderful holiday filled with love and laughter, and may you recognize your many, many blessings.

The following poem was presented to the Woods Chapel congregation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as the Community of Christ) by my grandfather, Stanley E. Curtis, on February 27, 1994, two months before he passed away.

"I am a farmer and a minister, and I see all these things that God has made and they are good.
  • To know that out under the ice and cold of winter, there are tender shoots of wheat that will emerge in the warmth of spring and produce a golden harvest next summer
  • To watch a baby calf being born, struggle to its feet and find nourishment at its mother's side
  • To ride the crest of the Missouri River in an aluminum canoe and sense the power of millions of gallons of water searching its way to the gulf 1000 miles away
  • To ice skate to school when the roads were to slick for cars or school buses
  • To wade waist deep in the Little Blue River searching by hand for fish hiding under snags of tree root - and finding them
  • To watch very fragile soybean plants push up huge clods of dirt as they emerge in the spring
  • To see a buck deer with a three-foot wide rack standing in my pasture looking exactly like a Hartford Insurance ad
  • To watch a doe raise a pair of twins later on in the spring and summer in that same pasture
  • To ride a sled down a half-mile long hill with family and friends after a new-fallen snow
  • To be up early enough for most of my life to watch the sunrise
  • To watch rivers overflow their banks covering thousands of acres of land causing millions of dollars of damage; yet realizing this has created some of the richest farm land in the world
  • To watch a nest of baby rabbits grow up less than 20 feet from the back door
  • To stand in a corn field on a warm summer afternoon and hear the corn grow
  • To watch my border collie bring a herd of cows from the pasture, up the road and into the barn to be milked
  • To smell the warm fresh milk on a cold winter morning
  • To hear the howl of a coyote on a moonlit night, and to see his shadow out the bedroom window
  • To have seen the Canadian Rockies, the Norwegian Fjords, the Hawaiian Islands, the Finger Lakes of New York, the Coast of Maine, the canals of Holland, and so many other places of breathtaking beauty
  • To see a wild tom turkey strut in the spring
  • To stand on a hillside and watch a summer thunderstorm move across the valley below
  • To taste fresh, tender sweet corn roasted in its husk over an open campfire
  • To stand in our storm cellar doorway and watch an approaching tornado pass harmlessly overhead after it had created a path of destruction ten miles long and a quarter mile wide
  • To smell a field of new-mown alfalfa hay
  • To sit under the hands of two very fine elders in administration and receive strength and healing
  • To feel the pain and yet the privilege of officiating at the funeral of a neighbor I had known and worked with for 45 years
  • To hear the scream of a mountain lion and see just ahead two huge eyes in the beam of my flashlight
  • To come home from seeing the fall colors in New England and see our own countryside ablaze with spectacular beauty
  • To see forty young friends show up to help move property out of harm's way as floods threatened
  • To watch our 12-year old daughter lead her 2000 pound Holstein into the winner's circle at the state fair
  • To stand before you this morning to testify of the overwhelming power of God's presence in my life, in you my friends, and in all of nature
From these and a Host of other experiences, I can truly say, I see all these things that God has made and they are beautiful."
Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blessings

Lifelong friends
 Laughter With Family
Learning New Skills

Quiet Time Together 

Dreams Coming True


True Love
From My Family To Yours

Have A Happy, and Blessed, Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Workbasket

On the needles now:
  1. My Princess shawl is receiving the lion's share of my time right now.  I have about 60 rows left (30 hours) on the feathered border, and then I imagine it will go away for a nice rest for a while.  Maybe.  I'm enjoying it an awful lot....and it would be nice to finish it by the end of the year....although I do recognize that's a bit nuts as a goal.
  2. Handspun Baby Surprise:  I have a ball of merino/tencel handspun in gorgeous soft blues, greens and browns that has just been screaming "BABY!"  Fortunately, the one friend of mine who would truly appreciate a handspun, handknit gift decided to oblige my knitting needs by becoming pregnant with her second child.  Remember when I said a few days ago that I needed to start using my handspun?  Mission accomplished.
  3. Basic Socks:  I needed a mindless knitting project, so I started a pair.  They are living in my purse for the rare moments when I don't carry the ginormous knitting bag.  Typically this is the type of project that takes forever to finish...and that's fine with me.
  4. Bug Out Socks:  Soooo much fun!  Colorwork socks with big, fat bugs running up the feet and legs. 
  5. December Socks:  I honestly can't remember the name of the pattern right now.  I've done the start for the toes because it required a you tube video to accomplish. (This is the only reason why it's on this list and not the planned list.) They'll be pretty easy.
  6. Not so secret socks for my husband:  He's been hinting.  Poor guy needs another pair!
  7. The Scrapbook Blankie:  Which still is a joy to work on. 
  8. Tibetan Clouds:  I'm not sure what's up with me and this shawl.  Typically if a shawl languishes this long than I frog it.  I'm not quite willing to do that yet....but something needs to be done.
Planned:
  1. Handspun shawl.  I've picked out the yarn and pattern, and just need to cast on.  I might keep it as a reward for finishing the Princess border.
  2. Baby gifts for a pair of magical twins.  They aren't due until the spring, and I'm helping with the shower as this is one of my oldest friends from church.  I am planning BSJ's with matching hats, and the yarn is already in my stash.
  3. Dad's Jacob sweater.  I wish I could get excited about this, but I still have a lot of spinning to do, and as I've complained before...our fiber processing this first year left a lot to desire.  My parents are fixing that next year by hiring someone to shear and having it professionally processed, thank God.
  4. My eldest needs a new pair of slippers.  If I can find the pattern I do have enough yarn in the scrap box to make them. 
Sorry there aren't any pictures this time!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

After dinner this evening my Princess pulled out her wheel and got to work on some beautiful merino fiber which I had bought for her this summer.

"Mom, can you teach me how to make a hat with my handspun this weekend?"

"Sure"

"Because I LOVE to knit with my handspun.  It's the best!"

This conversation brought me back to something I shared on Tuesday night with the Columbia Weavers and Spinners Guild.  My friend Shelda and I had given the program for the monthly meeting (more about that later) and during the Q & A session at the end I was asked about my handspun.  I had rather sheepishly admitted that although I love to spin and do it often I almost never actually USE the yarn I make...thinking it too precious for actual knitting.  I told the crowd that I have lots and lots of pretty yarn pets.

You betcha that's a ridiculous way to be.  Even my 8 year old daughter realizes that handspun is far superior to store bought yarn.

And so, with my daughter's words in my mind, I'm going to sit down this evening and cast something on....

with handspun.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Some Long-Suffering But Soon To Be Happy Handspun

It was really too hot to do much spinning this summer,
but in rare moments I did manage to spin up this fine yarn:
The fiber is a 70% Shetland Wool / 30% silk combo...and yes that is a very strange blend.
I purchased it on Etsy from The Thylacine as two 100g braids.
The color is called Weilangta Forest.  I am a sucker for greens...as you know.

It was not actually the most pleasant yarn to spin...again it was a very odd blend, one which I will never buy again.  I adore both fibers, and wool/silk blends, and so I thought this would be fun to try.  Shetland is just far to sticky and textured to blend with silk, though, and that made it difficult to work with.  The end result is interesting - matte with a subtle sheen.  As you would expect, it has the 'scratchier' feel of Shetland.

The fun is that I already know what I want to make from it!  Stay tuned this week...I have a feeling I will cast on very, very soon as part of a greater plan to begin working with my handspun more often!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What I'm Thinking About Today

  • Yesterday my BKB calmly stopped me midstream during one of my rambles about all of the things I really should be doing and why I'm failing to do them and why that makes me a bad person by reminding me that I get into trouble when I am not gentle with myself.  Thank You, Jenn.
  • I've found a place of peace in my Princess shawl.  It's a beautiful place to be.
  • I've also found the balance between how much time I want to be putting into said Princess and what my hands are capable of.  I've not always been good about finding that balance. 
  • My girls seem to have finally - and fully - recovered from their pneumonia, and I'm grateful for that.
  • For the last few days our family has quietly - and without plan or discussion - shifted our evening routine towards spending more quite time together around the kitchen table.  I'm really enjoying it.
  • The depression which has been hanging over me since my surgery a year and a half ago seems to have lifted on its own.  I feel happy - a fragile, crisp sort of happiness, but also a hopeful happiness.  It's been a very long while. 
  • I'm working on allowing that feeling to grow and develop on its own...without pushing, without striving, without fighting. 
  • The weather has been glorious lately.  I am such an autumn girl. 
  • An idea that I've had for a very, very long time shifted a wee bit this morning to show me how it could be accomplished.  That was neat!
  • A friend is in need today, and I wish I could be there to give him a hug.  I hope he knows how much I care. 
  • Finally...and for fun...we have some holiday possibilities which are making my heart sing. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lady Tryamour

The Sanguin Gryphon, Skinny Bugga! - 1 skein in Lord of the Flies
Oct. 15 - Nov 6, 2011
Alterations - skipped the last repeat of the instep chart because I knew that the socks would wind up too long if I added it.  As is, the length is absolutely perfect!

In fact, these may be my favorite pair of socks from this year of experimentation.  The yarn is wonderfully cushy, the fit is perfect, and they have just enough decoration to make them beautiful and interesting to knit.  It is important to note, that interesting to knit for me means that the pattern is easily memorizable so that I don't have to tote the pattern around with me at all times!

Also, I would like to add that these are a very rare dip into the toe-up sock pond, all of my previous attempts having turned  out to be less than stellar fits.  I'm getting ready, though, to do toe-up colorwork socks, and thought I would practice a tad with the technique before I dove in with the added difficulty of stranded knitting.  It was a happy experiment within an experiment, and I'm ready to move on!




Friday, November 4, 2011

50%

 Two more rows (which I should be able to do this afternoon) and I will be half way through the feather border!
I'm showing you this picture so that you can get an idea of the scale of my Princess shawl.  I blocked out roughly two of 11 feathers, and am only half way through what is essentially the edging....an a shawl knit with 2.0 mm needles and a yarn that looks like sewing thread.

I may be taking a break from the Princess soon.  There are other things I want to make!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kitten V. Kristin's Knitting Basket

I've woken up every day for the last week to the following scenes of destruction and cat happiness....resulting in hours of patiently untangling yarn. 

You would think I would have learned after the first time.....

To my credit, I did try several different methods of covering and/or hiding the yarn.  The kitten is just that darn smart.

However, learn I finally did, or rather the cat finally won, and the yarn is now safely tucked back away in my corner of the basement.



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My October Reading List

  1. The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss (ebook) * A breath of life into the fantasy genre.
  2. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (ebook) * Weeks later, I can't stop thinking about this book...and I desperately want to knit myself a crimson scarf.  If you only pick one book from this list to try, it should be this one. 
  3. Girls In White Dresses, Jennifer Close (ebook, library)  I'm glad I checked this one out from the library.  After The Night Circus I needed a bit of froth to allow my brain to settle ... and that's exactly what this book is.  Kind of surprised it was a BOTNS recommendation.  This is the closest I ever get to "chick lit" and having read it I'm more than happy to stay away from that genre.  Not much else to say. 
  4. The Passage, Justin Cronin (ebook) * Literary horror...vampiric viruses....post-apocalyptic society...and a girl who will save the world.  Bravo.  I have to wait until next year for the follow-up book, The Twelve, and that's going to be very, very hard to do.
*I find myself at a bit of a loss as to what to say this month about these three books.  Every time I try to write more in-depth blurbs I wind up with a mess of superlatives which say nothing at all.  Instead, I'll simply say that these are the best books I've read since I began tracking my reading habits through my blog. 

A very good month, indeed.