Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summer Reading, Part 3 - AUGUST!

My Series:

Didn't happen this month. Whoops!

My Short Story Collection:

1. Points of Departure: Liavek Stories, Patricia C. Wrede and Pamela Dean - I started reading this some time ago, and truth be told it would have been better if I'd been able to get through the entire book in a relatively short amount of time as there were some stories that connected throughout.  I absolutely love the world that Wrede, Dean, and several other writers created to play around in, and part of me wants to track down the rest of the Liavek stories.  Enjoyable, but ultimately not pieces that will stick with me as grand favorites.  At the very least, I appreciated the fact that most of the stories were long enough that it really felt like I was getting something out of them.

The Rest:

3. Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine - Oh man, I loved this book more than I can possibly say! It's another recommendation that came from the Huff post article that also recommended Roses and Rot.  In fact, given how much I love both books, I may have to find that article and read the rest of the books in the list.  Plucky heroine, alternative history/gaslamp fiction, interstellar travel done Victorian was so much fun!  Levine is definitely someone I'm going to keep an eye on.

4.  American Gods, Neil Gaiman (audio) - This was a reread for me, and this time around I had the added benefit of being able to easily google some of the crazy locations mentioned in the book.  (And now I need to go on a big, fat road trip.)  I chose to reread it in large part because of the upcoming television adaptation of the book, which looks to be amazing.  I love Gaiman's work, and it was fun to revisit this book.  It was a lot less action-packed and a lot more rambling than I remembered, but at this stage in my life that's exactly what I wanted.

5.  Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik - AND THE LIBRARY NOW HAS SOME OF THOSE FABULOUS DRAGON BOOKS I TALKED ABOUT LAST MONTH!!!!  Now, there are some issues.  They have books 1, 2 and 9 available in digital ebook format right now, while 7, 8, and 9 are available for audio streaming.  This is somewhat annoying, but it does mean they are most likely working to get the entire collection.  So I happily moved on and read the second book, and I loved it every bit as much as the first.  Now I just keep telling myself to be patient for the rest....

6.  Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow (audio) - With the soundtrack of Hamilton: An American Muscial being the soundtrack for our family's summer, it was inevitable that I should read the book that inspired it all.  Goodness, though, this book is a beast!  I chose to listen to the audio, which clocks in at 35 hours at normal speed.  I was able to speed it up a bit and cut that down to 29ish hours, but that's still a major, major time commitment.  Chernow does a really good job of telling the story of our first secretary of the treasury in an engaging way that feels relevant.  This is certainly not a dry history book.  Occasionally it does get rather bogged down in the details, but that's to be expected.  While that can be overwhelming at times, I'm hard-pressed to come up with any ways that Chernow could have condensed the details without leaving out some important information.  I love that the book began and ended with Hamilton's wife, Eliza, who was fascinating in her own right.  All in all, an excellent read...even if it did rather wear me out!  (Plus, it was super fun to listen to songs from the musical after reading about the events that inspired them!)

7.  Poisoned Blade, Kate Elliott - This is the second book in her Court of Fives YA series, which I've been eagerly awaiting since I finished the first book!  One thing I appreciate is that our plucky heroine is also a very real person, with fears and insecurities of her own.  (Plucky heroines get a bit tedious unless they are fully fleshed out characters, with warts and all.)  Elliott finished the book in such a way that she can continue the series or not, and I'm really hoping that she does.

8.  The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin - This is Jemisin's follow-up to her Hugo winning book, The Fifth Season.  As with the first, I felt it was a tad difficult to really lose myself in this book...perhaps because of the shifts in point of view, perhaps because of the super-dense - and completely gorgeous - language.  The payoff for getting to the end, though, is massive once again.  There is another book to come, and I think when it gets here I'm going to have to start from the beginning and read them all together.  These are not easy books, and they have some pretty powerful things to say.  Much as I enjoyed some of the 'easier' books I read this month, I'm very glad that there are writers like Jemisin in the world.  (Bonus: an article on Jemisin that came out this week.)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Making The Decision

Remember Mike?
Well, I carefully took into consideration all of your opinions about which sweater his wool should become.  I tallied up the votes, which knocked two sweaters out of the running as they received no love at all!  Then I made notes about the gauge requirements for all of the rest.
Then I knit a couple of swatches.
Once the swaches were washed and blocked, I revisited my notes about the gauge requirements for the various sweaters.
This took several other sweaters out of the mix as they were designed for a bulky yarn, and clearly Mike's wool doesn't work up to a bulky gauge.
It came down to two choices....both lovely, both receiving lots of love from all of you.  A few texts to a couple of beloved friends as well as a thorough reading of both patterns (with a close eye on the pictures to see what the recommended fabric looked like), helped me to decide.
A thorough exploration of the finished projects on Ravelry, reading through the notes on all of the projects marked as helpful, was the last thing I needed.
and then I began

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Decisions, Decisions.....

Mike says we must choose something grand to make out of his fine fleece.

Mike is correct...and in any case, with those horns, who wants to cross him?

So here are some of my ideas with a few notes.  
Please feel free to weigh in or vote in the comments!
(Pictures snagged from Ravelry)

1.  The best part of this is that the cables rather marvelously change direction, and go in a flattering angle over the chest.  The big problem is that the pattern is apparently a wreck, and it would almost be more of a hassle than it's worth. (I totally buy it...I did sample pieces for both of this designer's books...she's an artist who couldn't care less about accuracy in the patterns.)

 2.  I hadn't intended lace for this...but I keep coming back to this design. 

3. This one is a party in the back, boring on the front sort of sweater.

 4,  It's a very traditional type of jacket, and it's been in my favorites for years.  

5.I adore everything but the neckline, which would need to be altered to be more flattering.

6.  I'm not sure about the hood...but I adore these cables.

Here are a few other ideas....these actually call for a heavier yarn, but I could make it work with some extra work.  (or I could just save them for later, and make it easier on myself by getting the right weight of yarn!)