Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reading in November and December


1. The End of the Sentence, Maria Dahvana Headley and Kat Howard - Oh my goodness...a writing match made in heaven!  I can't believe how beautiful this book was...and I love the fact that it wasn't quite what I expected.  These two writers are definitly among my favorite discoveries of the last few years, and I love that they teamed up.  The really interesting thing is that together they have a style that's unique from their individual styles.  (usually in team writing I can tell who has added what) 

2.  The Masked CIty, Genevieve Cogman - I so enjoyed reading this book, but at the end of the day I had trouble remembering what it was about a few weeks later when I went to do this report.  Either I'm getting forgetful in my old age or it just wasn't awesome enough to stick real well. I've preordered the fourth book in the Hidden Library series...but now I'm not sure if I want to continue on.  (Haven't purchased the third yet.)  I do love the characters....maybe I've just been tired and stressed? 

3.  Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel (audio) - I'm a bit obsessed with Perel, who I've heard speak in many podcast interviews over the last few years.  In fact, her podcast, "Where Should We Begin?" is currently a must-listen as soon as it's published. This is the book that first truly introduced her to the world, and I find I'm really drawn to the work that she does with couples and that is deeply compassionate and real.  Truth?  I would also listen to Perel read the phone book...her voice, accent, and reading style are that good...and so I'm beyond grateful that she read her own book. 

4.  Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey - Another case of the right book coming along at the right time. I wish I could sit down with Bessey over a pot of tea.  I think she and I would get along quite well.  The premise of this book is that sometimes we need to shake out our beliefs, reexamine everything we thought to be true, and do the work needed to move forward.  My own feelings about church are somewhat conflicted right now...and this was exactly what I needed. 

5.  The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin - trilogy wrapping up, I'll now admit it...I don't actually like this trilogy as much as everyone else seems to.  Jemisin is one of my favorite discoveries from the last few years,, but I find this particular series to be unnecessarily difficult to read because of the writing style she utilizes. (note...I didn't finish it...and I may weird.)

6. Artemis, Andy Weir - No, it's not as good as the Martian.  Not by a longshot.  Yes, it was a lot of fun.  I think Weir had the incredible good fortune to hit gold with his first book....and maybe he should have stopped there (?). 

7.  Akata Witch and 


8. Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor - I adore Okorafor.  Her books are magical.  Akata Witch has been on my wish list for quite some time, and it's sequel - released this year after a very long wait - has made many best of lists for 2017.  I'd heard the books described as an African Harry Potter at one point, but that doesn't do them justice.  I love them because the characters are complex, and our lead has real emotions and sometimes doesn't think before she other words, they are real kids who behave in real ways. 

9. Weave a Circle Round, Kari Maaren - A prepurchase, based on the cover blurb by a trusted author.  It was fun, but I don't think I loved it as much as I might have another time.  (If that makes sense.)  Interesting concepts, fascinating time travel elements, excellent characters...yeah, I should have loved it more...probably tired and stressed again. 

(Then my birthday happened...round one of splurging on new books (round two with Christmas money)...and then I had a glorious 10 days off over the holidays, in which pretty much all I did was read!)

10.  Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders - I've never read Saunders, and although I've heard his praises sung for years I wasn't sure what to expect.  This was so heartbreakingly beautiful.  I loved every single word, and while it should have been sad I found it full of hope and peace. 

11. The Girl in the Tower, Katherine Arden - I wasn't aware that Arden's The Bear and the Nightengale (which you may remember I reread recently) was the first of a proposed trilogy until I stumbled on this book in my periodic browse through presale books.  I'm such a fan.  These are beautiful fairy tales, and in this book Arden takes her girl who doesn't fit in with the norms of her culture even farther.  I don't know where she's going, but I can't wait to find out!

12.  Turtles all the Way Down, John Green - The truth?  The plot is pretty iffy.  Fortuantely, that's not what you read this book for.  John Green has taken his own struggles with OCD and has created a character who's so very real in her own mental illness that she breaks your heart over and over again.  We need books like this to help teach us awareness and compassion.   And that line about first love at the end?  So very true. 

13. The Power, Naomi Alderman - I'd been desperate to read this book for quite some time.  It's also making the Best of 2017 rounds, and is a wonderful addition to the conversation about gender that we've been having all year long.  I wasn't surprised by anything - the reviews pretty much gave away the plot and the ideas - but wow, it's so very well done.  There's a line at the very end that really blew me away.  Gender and power..these are things we need to be talking about. 

14. Bright Thrones, Kate Elliott - Court of Fives novella.  Instead of adding new information to the series, it told one small portion through a different perspective.  I adore Elliott, and I love the Court of Fives books...but as charming as this was, it was wholely unnecesary. 

15. The Thorn and the Blossom, Theodora Goss - A confession.  This is one of the first books I added to my wish list back when I started listening to the (sadly now defunct) Books on the Nightstand podcast years ago...and yet, I passed it over every time I went to buy books, even though it's survived every purge of my wish list.  I finally decided it was now or never, and so it became one of my Christmas book purchases.  Oh's brief, but it's absolutely lovely.  It's a twice told tale - you get the same story from the two diffferent characters, and while the potential is there for boredom through repetition, the story is short enough, and the perspective shift interesting enough that I didn't lose interest.  Beautiful writing...and let's face it, I'm a sucker for anything that includes a Green Man or Woman. 

16. Shalom Sistas, Osheta Moore - I picked this up on a recommendation from Sarah Bessey, who's blog has become a must read for me.  I cried several times while reading this book.  I want to be a a Shalom Sista, and this has given me some things to think about. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

September AND October Book Reports


1.  The Brightest Fell, Seanan McGuire - I really, really, really hope that McGuire will be able to maintain the quality in her October Daye novels for the long haul.  So far, so good.  In fact, this is one of the best long-running series I've ever found!  This is her newest, and I'm delighted to report that 11 books in she's still got it!  The Toby Daye books are pretty much everything I want in a fantasy series....fantastic characters who actually grow and change throughout the series, a beautifully built world, enough new each book that you don't get bored, magic, romance, fairies...yep, I love these books! So much so that I've started to purchase all of them, and may do a reread sooner rather than later!

2.  The Wind In His Heart, Charles De Lint - What can I say?  De Lint remains one of my favorite authors for good reason.  He's been away from adult fiction for a little while, and my oh my...when he returned he came back big.  I devoured this book in about 24 hours...and am going to get ahold of the audio for a reread this winter because I want to experience it again.  So much to love.  De Lint's true gift is that he writes with an intimacy that makes the reader feel that they are a part of the gets into your heart and soul, and carries you along.  His usual themes of healing, redemption, art, community, love, friendship...they are all there.  Nods to fan-favorite characters are a welcome treat, and help ground the book in the world that he's built over time.  So grateful for his writing.

3.  The Girl With All the Gifts, H.R. Carey - Oh wow.  I picked this book up on the virtual sale table after stumbling across the hardback in the bookstore a few months ago.  I was impressed with the blurbs on the cover, but had little to no idea what the book was about.  I don't really want to spoil it for anyone, but I will say that it's the best book in a somewhat tired genre that I've read in ages and ages.  In fact, I had thought for a long while that the genre could use temporary retirement because it's so overdone....and then along comes this book.  It's a fresh, unique take...and I loved every minute of it!

4.  Dead Spots, 5. Trail of Dead, 6. Hunter's Trail (unfinished), Melissa F. Olsen - I really, really wanted to like these books, and am super dissapointed with my experience of them.  I discovered Olsen through a review of her most recent book in this, her Scarlet Bernard, series.  The review was glowing - and it was done Charles De Lint, who's never steered me wrong before.  In many ways, though, these books are Laurel K. Hamilton light (the market has been flooded with such books for years), tough and hot young woman in a world filled with vampires, werewolves, etc....solving crime, futzing over her love life.  I'll give Olsen credit for a twist on the subgenre that was actually pretty cool, but it wasn't enough to elevate the books beyond the rest of the crowd.  Even with that, I might have kept going...if it weren't for something I noticed (probably because I read them back to back).  Olsen has a really bad habit of unnecessarily using weight to describe characters, and she has at least one derogatory stock phrase that she used repeatedly.  In fact, I stopped reading the third book when I stumbled on that phrase for the fourth or fifth time in the series.  To give her the benefit of the doubt, I'm sure she was just trying to populate her world with something other than the standard 'everyone is gorgeous' that you typically get in this type of book.  Unfortunately, the way that it was done displayed both lazy writing and a bias that was uncomfortable for this particular reader.


A note:  typically I do scary books in October.  It's a tradition that I've done for 4 or 5 years now - one that I enjoy very much.  I found that this year, though, the world itself is scary enough, so I turned to fairy tales...including four rereads that are all great favorites of mine. It was comfort reading, and it was perfect 

1. An Unkindness of Magicians, Kat Howard - Kat Howard is one of my favorite discoveries of the last few years.  This is only her second book, and based on her writing so far she has an amazing career ahead of her.  Her two books are quite different in tone, plot, and characterization...and yet they are connected by the simple fact that Howard is a brilliant writer with beautiful prose.  I don't want to spoil it.  It's just that good...and you should all read it. 

2.  The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman - iBooks has been recommending this series to me for quite some time, and I finally decided to take them up on it!  (The first book was on's a good incentive for me.)  No, it wasn't a perfect book by any means....but it was fun and original and I loved the world that Cogman built.  Can't wait to read the next couple of books!

3.  Uprooted, Naomi Novic (audio, reread) - Love, love, love this amazing book.  It's a must read for anyone who loves fairy tales/fantasy/magic.

4.  The Replacement, Brenna Yavanoff (reread) - It's a changeling story, and ultimately is a book about love...and I adore it.  No, it's not the most perfectly writen book out there, but it makes me cry every time.

5.  Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Caitlin Doughty - I've heard a couple of interviews with Doughty, and was intrigured.  This is her first book, a memoir of her early days in the mortuary buisiness.  It's not for the faint of heart or the squeamish, but if you can handle her description of what happens to our bodies when we die you will find that it is a book full of compassion.  It will also really make you think about why we do things the way we do.

6.  The Bear and the Nightengale, Katherine Arden (audio, reread) - I didn't realize this was the first in a trilogy.  I discovered as I was getting ready to listen to it that the second is coming out soon, so it's been preordered. This was my first time listening to it, which always adds to the experience...particualrly with an amazing reader.  Love this one too!

7.  The Boy on the Bridge, M.R. Carey (unfinished) - It's the sequel/prequel to The Girl With All the Gifts, and although I wanted to enjoy it given how much I enjoyed that book, I found I just wasn't in the right space to read it...and I just didn't care.  The first book may have been too perfect alone.

8.  The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black (reread) - I'd almost forgotten that so much happens in this lovely fairy tale! Perhaps part of why I love it so is because of the changling story within...just one component, but one that's beautiful. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Inside Columbia Magazine

On April 20th of 2008, I squashed the fear bug and turned to my computer to start a blog.  Green Woman Comes Knocking - named from a piece that I wrote decades ago - became an outlet for me to share my creative endeavors with the world.  The blog has gone through changes over the years, but at it's heart it's always been a place for me to talk about my knitting and spinning.  I take great pride in being, "the one who makes all the beautiful things," as one of Mom's friends recently dubbed me.  

This is what I do.  It's who I am.

My dear friend Carrie Koepke has been writing for Inside Columbia, a local magazine, for several years now.  Earlier this year she asked me if I would like to be a part of an article she wanted to write about all of the amazing things you can do with wool.  Quite naturally, I said yes.  (The fact that she wanted to feature my Princess Shawl had a lot to do with that - but truthfully I would do just about anything for Carrie.) The interview and photo shoot were a lot of fun, and I really loved learning about the needle felting art of Carrie's friend Kate McKenzie, which would also be featured.  

The article was published in the October issue, which was released this afternoon.  As I've been looking forward to this for months, I made a special trip into town today to pick up a copy.  It was everthing that I had hoped it would be - beautiful pictures, a warm and sweet story that pays tribute to all that I love about the fiber arts world and the type of people you find in it. 

....and then I realized that Carrie had shared my blog address at the end of the article.

In hindsight, I'm laughing at myself for being so surprised by that little detail.  Silly me, it's a completely natural thing to include!

Which is why I'm here this afternoon, to welcome anyone who read the article and decided to check out my blog.  

Welcome, and Thank You so very much for visiting!

If you are new to my blog, there are a few things you should know:
  1. The blog has been through many changes over the years, so if you look through the archives you will find all sorts of experiments.  In addition to posts about crafting, you will also find posts about my family, monthly book reports, stories about my parents' flock of sheep, personal essays about running and my allergies, and crazy lists that used to make my readers fear for my sanity.  It's been fun!
  2. Seven months ago I went back to work after 14 years of being a stay at home mom.  Unfortunately, I've had little time to knit since then - and even less time to blog, which is why it's been very slow this year.  I haven't at all given up on my blog, and am working really hard to figure out how to once again find time for the things I love. 
  3. I miss writing!  I've many ideas rolling around in my noggin, and this just may be the kick in the pants I need to get started again.  Please check back to see what happens next!

If you are an old friend, thank you so much for all of your support over the years.  You've no idea how much I appreciate all of the kind words when I've shared my thoughts or my work with you.  You've been a joy, and I hope we can continue on together!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Mixed Bookshelf

1.  The Waking Land, Callie Bates (audio) - I listened to 3/4 of it and didn't finish.  While it sounded like just my type of book, I was struck by a.  how much I wanted to slap our protagonist throughout the entire first half of the novel for being an idiot; b. the flat, flat characters; and c. the heavily borrowed - and not in a good or inovated way - mythology.  Oh, and did I mention love stories that made no sense whatsoever?  No.  Just no.  The fact that this was only the first book of a trilogy doesn't bode well...

2.  The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, Theodora Goss - Now this is more like it!  Goss tapped into all of my favorite classic horror novels in the best way possible, borrowing characters from classic works but truly inovating in her plot and character development. This is how you add to the cannon!  I love, love, love the fact that Goss asked herself why all of the female 'monsters' were disposed of in the classics and then came up with a brilliant story about them.  I sincerely hope she writes more about them!

3.  The Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee - This was one of my holiday splurge books, and it just seemed like the time to read it.  It's an amazing, delicious historical novel, full of larger than life characters and more drama than one life could possibly hold.  So much fun!  And a perfect end that didn't cheat around the actual plot.

4.  The Lady Astronaut of Mars, Mary Robinette Kowal (short story) - It's a love story, a beautiful love story that addresses aging and loss.  It may be my favorite work from Kowal.  Sweet...gorgeous...satisfying.

5.  For the Love, Jen Hatmaker (audio) - Hatmaker has been on my radar for a while as part of the group of Christian women writers who are taking the world head-on.  While there wasn't anything new in here, there were some messages I needed to hear right now.  I was charmed by Hatmaker's style - part loving sermon, part memoir, part comedy, part recipes - even as it occasionally drove me crazy because I wanted more substance at times.

6.  Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (audio) - I wanted to like it, but ultimately it bored me.  I do like Gay's writing, and perhaps the problem is that I agree with her and didn't need to listen to a book reflect back my own outrage.  (which is what was happening)  I may try to read it later, but life is short and there are a lot of books out there.

7. The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor Lavelle - I'd bought this novella some time ago on the sale table, but it wasn't until I read Lavelle's brilliant book The Changeling that I felt drawn to actually read it.  He's definitly a new favorite of mine, and I can't wait to see what he does next.  (even while I'm not really a Lovecraft fan, and this is a Lovecraft homage.)

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Very Good Month of Books Indeed

1.  The Girl From Everywhere, Heidi Heilig - I discovered this book through NPR's 2016 book concierge, one of several I put on my wish list.  Oh my.  It's a true delight!  Truly unique idea, fantastic characters that really drew me in, excellent pacing, and thought-provoking concepts.  Mostly, though, it's just a really good story.

2.  The Ship Beyond Time, Heidi Heilig - So of course, I had to read the follow-up.  It wasn't quite as magical, but I loved it as well.  I love that Heilig used her books to ask really big questions, and I love the way she navigated those questions.  In retrospect, this could have been one of those books with the 'twist' ending that I hate (ahem, remember how ticked off I was with the Queen of the Tearling books?), but Heilig didn't go there at all, instead crafting an ending that was deeply, deeply satisfying.

3.  The Shadow Land, Elizabeth Kostova - Oh.  My.  Lord.  I can't believe I forced myself through this awful book.  I LOVED Kostova's first book, The Historian.  Perhaps I should have paid better attention when the reviews said her second book wasn't good.  The third....well, it's ridiculous that I pushed myself to read this all the way through.  If the book were 1/3 of what it is then perhaps it would have been good.  The central story that Kostova is trying to tell could be an important one.  Unfortunately, she muddied it with a worthless framing device, pointless digressions, and writing techniques that tried to be fancier than was warranted.

4.  Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (audio) - It's been less than a year since I discovered this book, so to return with a reread so soon is unusual for me...but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to discover what the audio added to the story.

5.  Hunger, Roxane Gay (audio, read by the author) - As someone with a complicated relationship with my own body and with food, I related to this book in a way that some may consider surprising even though the details of my life and Gay's are not at all similar.  It's an important book, and I highly recommend it.  We don't talk honestly enough about our bodies, and this is an important first step.

6.  March, Geraldine Brooks - I think Louisa May Alcott would have approved of this beautiful novel that tells the story of what happened to the father of her "Little Women" while he was off at war.  It's a beautiful book - well-deserving of the accolades it received.  I've often been critical of writers who seek to capitalize on the classics, but this is one of the few cases where I've truly seen it done right.  Bravo, Ms. Brooks.

7.  Magic For Nothing, Seanan McGuire - Truth time, I was getting a bit tired of the Incryptid series, and the our youngest sibling just didn't capture my attention like her big sister and brother did. My one big problem with the entire series is that it takes too long to really get into the books.  In this case, I was 100 pages in before it captured my attention.  The entire first act was m'eh.  Oh well.  Still planning on reading the next one!

8.  The Changeling, Victor Lavelle - Oh.  My.  Goodness.  It was a perfect modern-day fairy tale, and I loved every minute.  Hands down, one of the best books I've read this year so far.  I've read one other Lavelle book, and knew I liked his writing style, but I honestly wasn't expecting a straight-up urban fairy tale.  Now I feel like I need to go read everything else he's ever done!

9. Finding Your Own North Star, Martha Beck - In doing a bit of research for my current job, I discovered a phenomenal website (Storytelling Nonprofit) run by a brilliant writer who recommended this book in one of her posts.  I was intrigued as it seemed to fit a particular need I have had for quite some time.  Haven't finished it yet because I'm working through the exercises, and it's just going to take time.  Truthfully, there's nothing in here that's new or surprising - it's a variation on a common theme with these sorts of books - but it is speaking my language, so I'm enjoying it.

10. Buried Heart, Kate Elliot - The final in the Fives trilogy.  Oddly enough, I had trouble getting into it.  The pacing felt different from the others, with the beginning being an extension of the end of the second book in a way that was a bit jarring to start with.  Overall, I'm satisfied with the series and I very much appreciated the way that Elliot finished it up, even though I felt it petered out a bit in the third book as if she'd lost a little bit of steam, and/or didn't have quite enough material to actually fill a third book.  That makes it sound worse than it was....I"m only a little bit disappointed that it wasn't as great as the first two.  Elliot will always be one of my favorites.

Giving Up On 'Em (for now):

11. The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber - I wanted to like it, but ultimately it committed the crime of failing to make me actually care about any of the characters.  Life is just too short.

12. Mile Markers, Kristin Armstrong - Too precious, not enough insight, too suburban mommy blogger, nothing unique....too something, not enough substance.

13. One Square Inch of Silence, Gordon Hempton - I loved the interview that drew me to this book, but I just couldn't connect for whatever reason.  I suspect it's timing and it may go better at another time.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Reading Once Again

Apparently, all I needed to do to kick my reading into overdrive again was to declare that I had let go of my expectations for myself.

That, and I started focusing on finding good audio and tumbled into a series I enjoyed mightely....

1. Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell - Um...I'm not sure why I hadn't already read this, and am rather embarrassed about that oversite.  I finally did because it turned up on the itunes sale page, and I decided to snag it and give it a go.  So.  Much.  Fun.  And so much that was relatable for me.  Now I need to reread Carry On.  

2. Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Sugestions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (audio) - It's a brief book, but it's important.  I'll be buying copies for my daughters.   For all that I have made some very 'traditional' choices for myself, I'm a raging feminist at heart and I want my girls to have better.

3.  The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men's Prison, Mikita Brottman (audio) - Very interesting.  This is the author's memoir of her time running a book club in a men's prison, and I was captivated by both the books she taught and by the characters she  met.  It was fascinating, and humanizing.

4.  Word By Word, Kory Stamper - I heard an interview with Stamper on NPR, and immediatly put the book on hold.  Stamper is a lexicographer with Merriam-Webster, and this delightful book is both a memoir/slice of life and a book about words.  Now I think I know what I want to be when I grow up....or when I snap and finally become a hermit.

5.  Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Seanan McGuire (novella) - This lovely little book is a Wayward Children book, following McGuire's brilliant Every Heart a Doorway.  It tells the backstory of Jack and Jill, and it will utterly and completely break your heart.  The Wayward Children books are very different than McGuire's other works, with beautiful language and a fairytale atmosphere that are a delight.  These are the McGuire books that really get into your heart and soul.

6.  Discount Armageddon, 7.  Midnight Blue-Light Special, 8. Half-Off Ragnarok, 9.  Pocket Apocalypse, 10.  Chaos Choreography, Seanan McGuire - Having read the novella, I decided to finally try McGuire's InCryptid series.  Truth be told, it was a huge shock switching from the Wayward Children novella (MCGuire's best writing is clearly in this series) to the InCryptid books, which are little more than popcorn fluff novels.  (This series is nowhere near as good as the October Daye books either.)  But, they were fun and unusual enough that I enjoyed them.  Every once in a while I had to work to keep reading (slow getting started in a couple of the books), but for the most part they kept me turning the 'page.'  I do enjoy that the series is about an entire family, as the change in characters between books kept it from becoming boring.  I am dissapointed with how flat the characters are...but then in this type of book that's almost to be expected.

11.  Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami (audio) - My first Murakami novel, and I'm in love.  It was lyrical with a slight tilt into the fantastic....and I enjoyed every minute.  (Bonus, multiple readers who were all amazing.)  I'm not at all sure I actually understood the whole thing.  Curiously enough, that's fine with me.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Books

1.  Assassin's Fate, Robin Hobb - This one was a doozy, both in length (864 pages) and scope (not only does it complete a trilogy, it completes a story that Hobb began 20 some years ago).  I've always loved Hobb's books, which not only give me grand fantasy epics, but which are also deeply character driven.  It says something that I've been reading her books for years and years and years, and I still remember details from all of them.  Hobb always writes in trilogies, and they are all connected in some way.  This actually marks the end of the third and final trilogy about Fitz and the Fool, and I believe it may also mark the end of Hobb's playing in this particular world.  I say this because in many ways this last book was a who's who, in which we revisited the lead characters and locations of all of Hobb's other books.  Felt very much like a last harrah, which was both fun and a little bit eyerolling at times.  It was a slow read.  These books are so character driven that sometimes there's a lack of urgency.  I finally blocked in an entire day to finish the last half.  (The pace, mercifully, picked up.)  I will make a complaint that the first half felt at times that it was recycling plot with one character.  (How many times can this happen....) Overall, though, it was a satisfying end.  Now...I wonder where Hobb will go next?

2. The Runner's Guide to Yoga, Sage Rountree - I've wanted this book for a long time, and finally invested in it.  First step, read it.  Second step, implement.  (That's going to happen after my race!)  I can't remember where I first came across Rountree, but I do love her style and appreciate her approach to yoga and running, which focuses on balance.

3. Miracle Mindset, JJ Virgin (audio, read by author) - JJ Virgin is a health and nutrition expert who's been around for quite some time.  I've never read her books, but I've seen her in various tv spots and know enough to have a healthy dose of respect for her.  Years ago I remember watching an interview with her in which she described her son's near fatal accident and spoke of how important it was to focus on her own health during his time in the hospital.  It made a big impression.  The message was, if you don't take care of yourself you can't take care of others.  Well, she's now written a book about that experience and about the life lessons she learned along the way.  Miracle Mindset is an interesting cross between memoir and the sort of self-help book that is about sharing life lessons rather than preaching at you.  I very much enjoyed it, and although I don't relate to Virgin in many ways (she's a very different personality than I am), it did leave me with some things to think about.

A note about my reading as of late:  Truth be told, now that I'm working full time I'm having to make some decisions about how to spend my limited free time, and reading is lower on the priority list than running (which I HAVE to do for my health) and knitting.  I realized too, that staring at a computer screen for much of the day leaves me not really wanting to stare at a book or a screen in my free time. My eyes and my brain need a break.  SOoooo....I'm revising my reading goals in order to make sure reading does continue.

1.  I'll be working to find more audio...and will be cutting back somewhat on the number of podcasts I listen to.
2.  Reducing my goals to five books/month, with one of them being an unfinished book.
3.  Oddly, I'll probably be reading more nonfiction for a while.  I find that as much as I love fiction, I don't have the emotional energy to invest in it right now.  That's ok, because I have a pile of nonfiction to get through!

Sunday, May 21, 2017


 As many of you know, I've been unable to shop in our local yarn stores for quite some time because of my alpaca allergies.  Well, to my selfish delight, the owner of True Blewe has developed the same problem, and so the store is now free of all alpaca products...which means I can shop again!  

(I should be clear - I'm VERY sorry that someone else has this problem, and I'm also not at all surprised given the market saturation/overexposure of alpaca products that they've reported that there are a lot of customers who share the same problem.)
 I found myself at True Blewe shortly after I was offered my job, and so I decided to treat myself to something new and different....and it just so happens that they had laceweight yarn made of yak in just exactly the shade of salmony pink that I love best.  It was meant to be.
 Words cannot describe how delicious this yarn is (or how much fun it is to say YAK YARN!!!).  It's buttery soft with a barely existing halo, and it knits up like a dream.  The silk adds sheen and is helping the finished shawl hold it's shape beautifully.

Given the hefty pricetag, I decided to work on a smaller shawl - more of a shawlette/scarf than anything else.  I'd fallen in love with Anna Victoria's patterns some time ago, and this gave me the perfect excuse to try one out.

Originally, I worked up the fancier version of Hortense - which has a lace pattern in the upper section - but I was never very happy with it.  It didn't flow into the beautiful lace as well as I'd hoped, and it was too fussy.  I wanted this shawl to show off the yarn AND the I ripped it out and started over with the 'plain version.'

Also, the pattern calls for beads, and as much as I love beads that would have been much too much for this particular yarn, which was luxurious enough on its own.
 Hortense by Anna Victoria
Reywa Fibers Bloom
50% Yak 50% silk
Addi Turbo 32" US 4, 3.5mm
March 23 - May 11, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Did I Read In April?

OK. Let's get real.  Going back to work after 14 years as a stay at home mom means that a lot is going to change.  One of the things that happened this month was that I just flat out didn't have time or energy to do much reading.  Trying to find balance to make sure I still get to enjoy the things I enjoy while giving my family what they need is tricky!  So this is the shortest list I've ever presented.  Hopefully next month will be better!

Interesting note:  nonfiction was considerably more appealling for some reason this month.  I've actually started a couple of other nonfiction books to share next month.  I'm normally a fiction girl, so this is an intersting development.

1.  Searching For Sunday, Rachel Held Evans - Beautiful.  Another lovely book in line with my religious viewpoints, this time on what it means to search for a church that is truly Christ-like.  Evens will be speaking at SPEC this summer, and I can't wait.

2.  The Ask, Laura Fredricks - This was a career development book that was recommended by my new boss..  It's about how to be a fundraiser in the nonprofit world, and was actually quite helpful as it focuses on direct asks, which is an area I need to develop!  Also gave me an opportunity to do some serious reflecting about some serious topics.

3.  First Ladies of Running, Amby Burfoot - I needed some inspiration, and had picked this up quite a while ago on sale.  I didn't expect to be quite so moved by it...and many times I found myself in tears over various stories.  Burfoot's writing style got a little bit repetative, but that's a quibble.

4.  Within The Sanctuary of Wings, Marie Brennan - The final Lady Trent book was released this month, and it's the one fictional book I made it through.  Win!  (Truth:  I started three other novels, and kept getting distracted despite the fact that they were all fun.)  I'm going to miss Lady Trent...and I may have to put these books on the list of hardbacks to acquire.  Isabella is just exactly the sort of plucky female I love...and I ADORE the fact that these books took her from childhood through middle-age with hints into her elder years (from when she is writing).  It was a gift!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saying Good-Bye Is Hard To Do

 Let's pause for a moment to acknowledge the awesomeness that was my 50th pair of handknit socks. 


Socks aren't forever, and normally I can let them go with ease....but this kind of hurts.

You see, this was the very first sock yarn I bought.  Not knowing, exactly, how much yarn I needed to knit a pair of socks, I bought two skeins of Opal instead of just one.  My dad was the recipient of my very first pair, and years later I celebrated a milestone by using that second skein to knit my 50th pair for myself.

And today they gave up the ghost.


All good things come to an end, thank you beloved socks for years of awesome warm, comfortable service to my tootsies.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Reading

1. A Conjuring of Light, V.E Schwab -That loud squealing you heard at the end of February was my excitement when this book showed up in my inbox!  It's the final book in one of the most amazing trilogies I've come across in a really long time, and I'm happy to say that it more than lived up to the awesomeness that was the first two books.  (And as a reading experience, this more than made up for the dissapointment in the Tearling books)  Schwab is a gifted writer who's managed to craft a series that's well balanced with strong world building, characters, plot, and action, which makes for an excellent read.  If I had to pick one thing that I love the most, though, I would have to say that I absolutely adore the characters that she's created.  They are all complex, interesting, flawed, and uniquely cardboard characters here.  Pretty spectacular.  May need to buy this series in's that good!

2.  A Shadow In Summer, Daniel Abraham - This is the first of a quartet that a friend of mine recommended a while back.  It also happens to be in the essential reading list on the iTunes fantasy page, so I decided to try it out.  So it's good, and very well written, but I'm not sure I fell in love with it enough to read the next three books in the series.   It didn't bode well that I put it down for a week and almost forgot to finish it.  Wish I could put my finger on what the problem is.  It's not exactly that anything is wrong with it so much as that it just didn't capture my interest.

3.  Gather Her Round, Alex Bledsoe - The newest of the Tufa novels, released just this month, and I'm happy to say that Bledsoe is back in form!  At this point these characters feel like old friends, and so I have high expectations about how they are treated in the books.  If you haven't read them, I wouldn't start here.  It's not that it wouldn't work as a stand's just that the series deserves to be started from the beginning.  This is what a truly unique, American fairy tale looks like.

4.  The Stranger In The Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, Michael Finkel (audio) - I'd seen this listed in the new books section on several sights, and was intrigued.  I snapped it up when I found it available immediately through the library.  Excellent book, intriguing subject, loved the way he handled it....telling the story with occasional philisophic breaks.  Two thumbs up from this wanna be hermit!  (Seriously, though, crazy!)

5.  Shockaholic, Carrie Fisher (audio) - Yep, I enjoyed The Princess Diarist that much.  It's just a treat to listen to Fisher read her own books!  Not much else to say about it though...

6. Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor -   I found Okorafor in a Neil Gaiman edited anthology, and picked up this award nominated book as part of my birthday binge.  I was blown away by this book.  It's beautiful, and mythic, and hard to read because you care about the characters so very much and you know bad stuff is going to happen.  I loved the ending more than I can possibly say.  I loved what it had to say about gender and power.  I loved reading a book in which a beautifully well-rounded woman drives the entire story.  Now, I must read everything Okorafor has ever read.  

7.  Luka and the Fire of Life, Salman Rushdie - I have tickets to see Rushdie at a local book festival next month, and it's been rather a bit of a question as to whether or not I should actually go given that I hadn't read any of his work before.  Problem was, I didn't have much interest in reading any of his books.  I dutifully checked them all out from the library...and then ignored them.  After an intersting conversation on FB on the subject, I tried listening to Rushdie's memoir...but, charming as it was, I had trouble working up interest for a 27 hour book about someone I hadn't read.  Then this book showed up...the last of the available digital books, finally available.  And my oh my, I fell in love.  I adore fairy tales and whimsy, but it's hard to do right and too often it comes across as being too precious.  This was just perfect.

8.  Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman (audio) - Because really, is there anything better than Gaiman reading his own work?  It reads like a child's mythology book, and I loved every minute even as I understand the criticism that's coming from some quarters that it's not scholarly enough.  This is a realm of myth that I'm not so familiar with, so it's all good to me!

Some Shorter Stuff, with a note:
My life changed pretty dramatically this month, as I went back to work full-time after 14 years as a Stay At Home Mom.  I stumbled upon the following short stories and novellas while browsing iTunes the week before my job started, and felt like they would be a great way to incorporate some reading once my reading time became more limited.  Plus, I just didn't have the attention span for a lot of long books this month.

9.  For Want of a Nail, Mary Robinette Kowel (short story) - I'm not typically in to Science Fiction, but this story won the Hugo in 2011, and I was curious, given how much I enjoyed Kowel's Glamourist Histories.  What I found was a curious story that posed more questions than it answered, which is what I think great Science Fiction is supposed to do.

10.  Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, Seanan McGuire (novella) - McGuire is extremely prolific - as in 'i kind of don't know how she manages to produce so many books.'  Fortunately, she also happens to be an extremely good writer.  This book is a ghost story, and it just so happens to be the sort of ghost story that I like best.  In fact, I cried buckets at the end.  In terms of her other work, this is more like McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway than her October Daye series...beautifully written, deeply emotional, speaking to the heart.

11. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (novella) - This novella grabbed my attention because N.K. Jemisin had given it a blurb.  It's a love story with an ending I didn't see ending that made me cry buckets.  Totally worth it.

12.  The Escapement of Blackledge, Mary Robinette Kowel (novella) - This snagged  my attention because it was tagged as being for fans of Kowel's Glamourist Histories, which I most certainly am.  In a!  and hot!  oh my!

13.  Cold-Forged Flame, Marie Brennan (novella) - meh, which surprised me.  I expected more because Brennan is so much fun in her Lady Trent works.  Makes me question whether or not I want to try her other series.

And a note:  No unfinished books this month.  Whoops!

Friday, March 24, 2017

This is love.

Our family by choice expanded recently with the birth of a very special wee one...a tiny girl who's already brought great joy into the lives of all who know her.

Her Mae Mae is my sibling by choice...someone who I love with all of my heart...someone I chose because of the light they bring into the world. 

Her Mama is a beloved friend...the sort of person you want on your side...another light bearer who makes me smile and who reaches out to me when I stumble.

We can't do without either one of them.

And so, of course, their niece...needed something very, very special.

 The dress was supposed to be a jumper, but after consulting with my mom, I decided that wasn't a good idea.  A dress will fit longer, and it's also a whole lot easier to deal with when diapering a baby!  I totally winged it, using several other baby dress patterns as a guide....and I'm sad to say that I didn't take notes.

 The color...a great favorite in their home which I lucked into thanks to the internet.  I managed to find a store which not only carried this discontinued color (which was a much better match than the currently available blues), but also had it on sale for almost half price.
I did something unusual (for me) and made the set in a newborn size.  If she never has a chance to wear it...well, I'm sure I will knit her something else.  Sometimes you need to tuck away in a special place a reminder of just how tiny they were.
I've made several things from my Dale baby book, and I've never been disappointed.  The patterns are sublime, and the finished pieces are heirloom quality.  This set was such a joy to knit.

 Permemor Infant Set
by Dale of Norway
Dale Baby Ull, 2 skeins white, skeins turqoise (discontinued)
US 0 (2.0mm) and 1.5 (2.5mm) Addi Turbo 24" circs
February 10 - March 18, 2017
 Welcome to the world, little one.

We are so glad you are here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Reading

1.  Cold Eye, Laura Anne Gilman - This very nearly wound up on the unfinished shelf...exept that would have irritated me because, as you may remember, I'm trying to clean that shelf off.  Pros: Gilman has created a very American mythology with her books about the Territory and the Devil's Hand.  Her characters are still fantastic, and I enjoy the relationship between Gabriel and Isobel.  Cons:  lordy, it moves at a snail's pace and the language is often unneccessarily vague.  I wanted something - ANYTHING - to happen...or maybe I wanted the things that were happening to just be described in a more straightforward manner.  Both of those.  These are critisisms I had of the first book...they were just a million times worse this time around.  Final verdict:  Much as I enjoyed the first book, I'm done with this series.

2.  Kindred, Octavia Butler - It's not an easy book to read, but it is a book which I believe should be read because it deepens understanding and hopefully increases empathy and compassion.  I'm impressed with how quickly Butler got right to her need to dilly dally or build a background.  The reader is pushed into it immediately, and has trouble walking away from it later on.  I was glad it wasn't longer.  I'm not sure I could have handled that.  I'm very glad I read it, though, and I appreciate the critical essay and readers' guide in the back.

3.  The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden - I'd preordered this quite some time ago, knowing little to nothing about it other than the brief description on iTunes.  Shortly after it showed up in my inbox, I had two friends post glowing reviews on Facebook...which is something that's never happened before, so I moved it to the top of the list.  My oh this ever one beautiful book!  If I had a checklist to create the perfect book for me, this would hit almost all of the items on that list.  Most notabley, it's an extremly well-told (Russian) fairy tale with a plucky, marvelous female protagonist.  Yes, I need a hardcover copy to add to my was that good.

4.  Stars Above, Marissa Meyer (audio) - This is a collection of short stories based on the Lunar Chronicals which I read last month.  It was a largely unneccessary, but still enjoyable book.  Most of the stories just served to fill in the backstories of the main characters from the Lunar Chronicals, which honestly wasn't needed as Meyers had done a great job of that in her series already.  Fortunately, they were fun enough that I didn't mind.  Also not needed was the retelling of one portion of those books from a different point of view.  (That's the one story I didn't finish.)  It was all totally worth it for the last story, though, which was the only one to further the the lives of the characters, adding to the story told in the Luner Chronicles.

5.  Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly  (audio) - If you haven't seen the movie yet, run - do not walk - to your nearest theater as soon as is humanly possible.  I saw it with my girls this month, and was blown away by the story it told.  (As an aside...I'm impressed with how much tension it built around historic events that I already knew the outcome of!)  I wanted more info, so I checked out the book, and I'm glad I did.  Kudos to Shetterly for bringing to light the lives of women who deserve to be recognized for their amazing contributions to our world.

6. Jesus Feminist, Sarah Bessey - A friend of mine brought this book to my attention after attending a conference with the author.  I was looking for a nourishing Sunday morning book, and snatched this up when I discovered that it was on sale.  When I found myself in tears less than two pages in, I knew I had found something I needed.  Simply put, I am a progressive feminist because I am a Christian...and it was wonderful to read this affirming book which deepened my understanding.

7.  The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher (audio) - OMG, this was sooooo much fun!  I'm so very glad I did the audio.  Fisher reads it herself, and she's a stitch!  I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read any of her works before, but after this I might have to track every bit of it down.  This might not even have come on my radar (I like Star Wars, but am  by no means a superfan.), but for the fact that Fisher did an amazing Fresh Air interview for it about a month before she passed.  She was truly an original, and I'm so glad she left us this book.

8.  Kingfisher, Patricia A McKillip (my unfinished book for the month) - So weird that I didn't finish this.  It became, for some odd reason, the book that I read in the tub during post-long-run soaks while training for my half marathon last spring.  I finished the race before I finished the book, and for no good reason I let it fall off the radar.  So glad to have finally finished it.  I adore McKillip, and this book is just as wonderful as the rest of her work!

9.  The Sun is Also A Star, Nicolla Yoon - Yoon is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine, and this - her second book - was part of my birthday bonanza book purchase.  I knew this book was a YA version of the movie, Before Sunrise (which I've never seen), in which two teens from different worlds spend one perfect day together and fall in love.  Admittedly, I was a touch skeptical because of that. However, I also knew that Yoon is a fantastic writer who has the ability to sweep the reader up in her stories.  My response when I finally sat down to read this book?  Read it in one sitting, loved every minute, cried frequently.  Yes, Yoon is definitly becoming a favorite.  The fact that I was both enjoying the book while simultaneously being carried back to what it felt like when I was 17 and in love?  Well..that was a gift.  (As a side note...really good YA writers get to me because they tend to cut through the BS of so-called 'adult' literature to really get to the heart of the matter.)

10.  The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit (a second unfinished book) - Another oddity.  I adore Solnit's writing, and don't remember why I set this book aside either, especialy as I only had a few chapters to go.  I had a little bit of time, so I decided to pick it up again, and within one page was transported.  Solnit's use of language is amazing, and this work definitly sits close to my heart.  I'll have to persue some of her other works.

11.  The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen - First of all, I have to stop picking up new series before they are finished. I had to hunt down an online synopsis of each of the first two books because I'd forgotten so very much.  Secondly, the first of this series - The Queen of the Tearling - is an absolutely brilliant book, but I should have been forwarned because the second didn't really sit as well with me.  Third, and I haven't quite put my finger on the why of this, the writing is occasionally confusing as to what's going on.  The author says in the back of the book that it's a difficult world and there aren't answers to everything...but I would argue that having so very much shrouded in mystery makes it difficult to follow at times.  Finally, I hated the ending.  I feel pretty cheated, and I don't often say that.  (As a side note, Emma Watson optioned the first book for the movie rights before the second and third were published, and I really wonder how she feels about that now.)  The more I think about it, actually, the angrier I am.  Intellectually, I get it...although I also feel in some ways like the author took the easy way out.  Emotionally, I kind of can't believe I wasted my time and money on these books.  So much potential...for nothing.  (Edited to add:  Shortly after I published this post, I realized exactly what my problem is.  The end plot device is not at all a new idea, and in fact was used in a made for tv movie that I watched back in middle school.  I hated it then...left me angry for days...and I hate it now.  To me, it's the lazy thing...write yourself into a corner and then hit a reset button.  I have always disliked stories that make use of this because I feel it does such a huge diservice to everything that comes before.  Why bother, if this is the way it ends?)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Baby Nemo

On the (very rare) occasion, I take a special request.

This time I said yes because the woman asking was one of my favorite people in the entire world...someone I look up to and admire a very great deal.  

  My friend had a photo of a Nemo costume for a newborn, and she wanted to know if I could  make something similar.  Easy the very least I knew I could work up something based on the shark hats I made a while back.

The problem was the yarn.  I spent about a week poking around online, trying to find just the right yarn - something heavy enough that it would knit up quickly, but not too expensive, in just the right color.  I'll be honest, this was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.  In fact, I gave up and emailed my friend to tell her I just couldn't do it.  (Time was also a constraint.  I have another gift to make with a deadline, and was rapidly hitting the point where I had to focus on it.)


Years ago I had bought a whole bunch of KnitPicks palette from a friend at $1/ball.  I've used quite a bit of it, but there were 4 skeins of bright orange sitting in my stash that were driving me crazy.  The orange was a totally obnoxious color for most anything else....but, it was perfect for a clownfish costume!

In further good news, there was a perfect pattern available through Ravelry, so I didn't have to reinvent the wheel.  After a quick consult with my friend Sunday morning, I even dropped the scale-like stitch pattern to make it a faster knit. I had a bit of trouble with the row gauge and the proportions for the length (since I didn't use the stitch pattern, it was off), but that was minor.  For the most part, it was a super quick and easy project.

I finished everything and delivered it this evening.  I left yarn with my friend, who will be adding crocheted fins - including Nemo's lucky small fin - for some extra fun.  She's happy with how it turned out, and thinks that her friend will love it!

Truth be told, I will be paid for this project.  It's not much, but it will reimburse me for all materials and will help pay for that other baby gift that I'll be working on, which helps.

by Angie Hartley
Knit Picks Palette (held double)
2 skeins orange, 1 skein white, 1 skein black
Addi Turbo 16" size US 7
Knit Picks Harmony DPN's - US 7
January 6 - 8, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Birthday Bonanza!

I chose to spend all of my birthday money on books, and it was glorious!

The big debate was whether or not to immediately start reading my birthday book haul because I still had the Telemair series from the library that needed to be read before the library wanted it back.  It was an oddly agonizing debate, one that was settled (more on this later) when I struggled to get through the third Telemair novel (I read the first two in the series a few months ago, and loved them.) because it committed the unpardonable sin of being, well, boring.

Beyond that, you may remember that one of my goals for 2017 was to tackle one book from the unfinished shelf/month.  I took some time to go through that shelf at the beginning of the year, and I pulled about 8 options and put them back on the active to-read shelf.  It's a start!

1. Aerie, Maria Dahvana Headley - Surprise!  A sequel to Headley's brilliant debut novel, Magonia, that I didn't know about!  I just happened to check her author page and discovered this, so it was added to the birthday haul and became the first book I chose to dive into because I was so very excited about it.  Aza and Jason are up there in my personal list of favorite literary couples, and the world that Headley has created for them is so very unique that it makes my heart sing.  I don't honestly know if Magonia needed a sequel, and as sometimes happens the sequel wasn't quite up to the perfection of its predecessor, but by the end it had won me over.  I would have been totally ok if it had never existed, but it did wrap up a lot of loose ends (that hadn't bothered me before) and it allowed me to spend more time with Aza and Jason.  Besides, Headley's language is gorgeous...a real treat!

2.  If I Were Your Girl, Meredith Russo - Truth be told, this is the one book that wasn't at all on my radar.  I discovered it because it wound up on a bunch of Best of 2016 lists, and was subsequently placed on the itunes sale page.  I read the entire book during the course of one insomniac night, and it was beautiful.  As an LGBTQ ally, I think this book should be required reading as it portrays the life of a transgender girl.  It's also a very relatable story of first love, and I found myself reliving my own teen years and my own first love as I was carried through the story.  Absolutely beautiful.  Also, the dedication and the notes at the end are must-reads as well.

3.  White Jenna and 4. The One Armed Queen, Jane Yolen -  These are the second and third book in Yolen's Sister Light, Sister Dark trilogy.  I fell in love with the first book a few months ago because not only did it contain an excellent plot, original ideas, and interesting characters, but also because Yolen sprinkled the story with myth, legend, song, and scholarly history reports about the world she had created....showing brilliantly how truth is distorted and changed depending on who's telling the tale and how.  That first book was brilliant.  Unfortunately, neither the second nor the third quite lived up to it.  I enjoyed the second...and wound up skimming the third as quickly as possible.  The first two books work together to tell Jenna's story, but the third is about her kids, and I quite frankly didn't find any of them nearly as compelling as their parents.  Also, by that time the myth/legend/story device had grown a little bit old, although I did appreciate the humor in the letters by the historian.  Still glad I read them all, though.

5.  The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson - This is another book that I found via the Best of 2016 lists, this time the 2016 NPR Book Concierge.  (Look it up, it's great fun!).  I've read Johnson before, and loved her, and was captivated by the book description in the I snapped it right up.  This is a very slim book which was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.  I've not read the Lovecraft original (I recommend checking out the Wikipedia entry if you haven't.  It's not neccessary to read it to enjoy this book, but it is fun to find out where much of the inspiration came from.)  I loved every minute of it.  There's a lovely, dream-like quality to Johnson's book that manages to carry the story along without becoming lost in the poetry of the language.  It was also very nice to read a book about a 55 year-old, fully-actualized woman.  Not only is she an amazing character, but she also provided a nice counterbalance to everything else I read this month.  The portions of the book where she sat down and reminisced were poignant, and taken with the YA novels I've been reading led me to some sweet remembrances of my own past.

Which leads me to the library book mentioned earlier:
6.  Black Powder War, Naomi Novik (Telemair, book 3)  - The first two books in this series were among the most delightful dragon books that I've ever read, charming and funny and unique.  It was all I could do not to rush out and buy the full series!  Being practical about the cost, however, I waited...and then checked the entire remaining series out from the library in December. 3 proved to be horribly boring.  Nothing exciting happened until about half way through the book, much of it felt like it was written to just move players around the board, and (truth be told) I realized I just don't have the stomach right now to read about war of any sort (Napoleonic, in this case.) I managed to finish the third book, but honestly don't know if I'll go back and read the rest (6 more)...which is sad, given how very much I loved the first two books.

And then I tackled my January "Unfinished" book:
7.  Help, Thanks, Wow, Anne Lamott - Church was canceled for the third Sunday of the month because of winter weather, so I decided to return to this little book on the three essential prayers.  (Also, I'd like to get back to my Sunday morning practice of reading a book that is nourishing to the soul...and this did the trick nicely.)  It's a beautiful reflection, one which drew me to the famous Thomas Merton prayer...which cracked my heart wide open in a really good way. Sometimes a book just needs to find its when to mean something to you.

Back to the birthday fun!
8.  The Just City, Jo Walton - I absolutely adore Jo Walton, and was so excited to purchase her Just City trilogy with my birthday money.  In fact, these were the first books I selected when I turned myself loose in my wish list!  The Just City really tugs on my heartstrings because it reconnects me with one of my first loves - Greek mythology.  That love eventually led me to a minor in the classical Greek language, which included a whole lot of classics courses in college.  However, it's been 20 years since I read Plato....and after this book I feel like I need to dig it out of storage and read it again!  I agree 100% with the reviews of this book which call it a thought experiment.  It is that, and it is beautifully done.  Walton's idea of the gods is pretty genious, and true to my understanding of them, and the Platonic ideal that she builds is both well-thought out and very natural in how it plays out.  Will be reading the second and third books as soon as possible!

9. Cinder, 10. Scarlet, 11. Cress, 12. Winter, Marissa Meyer -  We're going to blame this on a friend of mine, who happens to be the world's best librarian by profession.  She's so wanted me to read Cinder that she decided I needed it for Christmas.  Only the bookstore didn't have a hardback, so she gave me a gift card and loaned me her beloved copy.  I laughed myself silly, and promised to read it asap.   My friend was totally right.  I loved Meyer's take on four very classic fairy tales as she very carefully wove the important elements into a very modern/futuristic plot.  True, I spotted the 'twists' a mile away, and I'm not usually fond of series that leave each book with giant clifhangers.  I'll forgive Meyer for both because she did such an incredible job of making me need to know what happened next.  I hadn't intended to read straight through the series, but I quite simply couldn't help myself!  For added fun, I checked the books out from the library in audio form, and for two of the books I swapped back and forth from audio to print as time allowed.

Friday, January 6, 2017


 This is Luci.

Luci was born in the spring of 2014, and she very quickly became one of Mom's favorite lambs.

Why?  Well....that first picture is a clue....
Luci (on the left) was a bottle baby, which meant she spent time in the house and has grown up to be one of the sweetest ewes in the flock.

Last summer Mom and I went through the yarn that she'd had spun up, and I discovered a batch of beautiful, creamy, squishy fingering weight wool that had been made from Luci's first shearing.  I could tell Mom was super attached to that yarn...and I knew that it needed to be made into something special just for her.

I also knew Mom tended to put herself last on the list, so I asked if I could bring it home and knit it up for her.

She requested lace, and she wanted a shape that she didn't already have. 

I decided on a rectangular stole because it would allow me to make a fairly large piece.  I also knew that the pattern needed to be fairly simple because the yarn was not spun up very evenly...there were thick and thin spots which made more complicated lace tricky to pull off cleanly.  Also, I wanted the yarn to be the star of the show...not the pattern this time.  Jane Sowerby's beautiful book, Victorian Lace Today, provided just exactly what was needed.

I missed my Christmas deadline by a few days.  I was not at all happy about that, but life got in the way and it just wasn't possible.  Also, I'd forgotten how long those knit-on edges take!

Blocking this piece was a real revelation.  It relaxed beautifully, and the finished piece ended up being larger than I expected...even though I didn't pull it very tight.

Can't wait to deliver it to my mama!

Leaf and Trellis by Jane Sowerby
in Victorian Lace Today
fingering weight Jacob wool by Luci - about 1,500 yards
Addi Turbo 24" (I forgot to record the size, and now I can't remember...maybe a 6?)
finished size - 26 x 72 inches
December 17 - 29, 2016 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Someone to Look Forward To....

In November of 2015, 
I knit wedding socks for some very dear friends of mine in their wedding colors.
 Yesterday I finished a pair of wee socks made from the leftovers...
 Baby will be here in a few months, and I plan on spoiling her rotten!
Baby Socks by Bianca Boonstra
Knit Picks Harmony DPN's, 2.5 mm, US 1.5, 6 inch
September 27, 2016 -  January 4, 2017

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year, New Life

 I absolutely adore knitting Baby Surprise Jackets.

You probably know this...I've lost track of how many of them I've made over the years!

They are the best when the yarn is leftover from other projects, when I can add random stripes as the mood takes me.

This one turned out particularly well, if I do say so myself!

Wee baby showed up the day after Christmas - the son of a friend I bonded with at our dance studio last year...a woman who is now my youngest's ballet teacher.  (And she is an amazing teacher!)  Baby is the cherry on top of a fantastic year for her family, and I coudn't be any happier for them!

Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Addi Turbo size 5, 24 inch circular needles
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (leftover from an old cupcake kit)
January 1-3, 2016

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Newest Sweater

 Torgeir by Elsebeth Lavold
Book One: The Viking Knits Collection
Simply Shetland Silk & Lambswool, 8 skeins in Moniak
Addi Turbo, US 3 (3.25mm) and 4 (3.5mm) 24 inch circulars
October 26 - December 26, 2016
As you know, I'm a lucky knitter because my husband LOVES his handknit sweaters.  He gets a new one every other year for Christmas, he wears them frequently, and he always looks forward to getting a new sweater.

Two years ago I made Sean a traditional fair isle sweater, which was quite the undertaking.  I love that sweater, but it took a long time to make, and it was quite pricey.  SO, I decided to focus on something simple in 2016, and to try to use yarn that was already in my stash.  

Elsebeth Lavold's pattern was perfect for this...quick to knit, designed for lighter weight yarn, with just enough detail to make it interesting.  The yarn...well that was sale yarn that I picked up for dirt cheap years ago.  I only wish that this sweater had eaten up more of it!  (I have six skeins left.)

Truth time.  Sean loves it, I'm not crazy about it.  Torgeir is a very basic drop shoulder pattern - which means, as I knew it would, that there's a bunch of extra fabric in the underarm.  It also grew way more when being blocked than I expected it to.  It looks a lot better on Sean than I thought it would...but I'm kicking myself for not altering the pattern more for a better, more sophisticated fit.

But the husband is happy, and that's what matters!