Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winter Reading

1.  Welcome to Night Vale, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor - I discovered Welcome to Night Vale a couple of months ago when I heard an interview with the creators/writers on NPR and decided to check it out.  To my great delight, the podcast is a real treat - a whacky, X-filesish take on a small town radio show that's consistently laugh out loud funny.  I listened to more than half of the episodes and then bought the book.   I'm so happy to say that the book is equally delightful.  It's probably not for everyone, but I loved it!

2.  Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay - It's been a long, long while since I read Kay, and I had truly forgotten how beautiful his books are.  This one is a historical fantasy (one of his specialties) based on Tang China. I loved his characters, and wept (literally) over the ending.  There is a lot of detail in this book that I could spend days unpacking and gushing over.  I just loved it....and I loved the pacing, which is interesting at times but makes complete sense.  Kay is a master, and in addition to purchasing the book that followed this one I may have to dig out my paperback copies of all of his older books for a reread.

3.  A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab (audio) - I decided to check this one out because I had seen quite a bit about it on various lists over the last year.  This was another delightful find.  The characters are nicely drawn out, the worlds are unique, and the plot is interestingly drawn out.  I'm annoyed a tad with having stumbled on a new series with only the first book done!  The second book is preordered, and I can't wait!

4. Lumberjanes, Vol.1, Vol. 2, issues 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 - I wish now I could remember where I saw reference to these books, but wherever it was it was glowing enough that I immediately ordered the first two volumes for my youngest daughter.  I devoured them in one sitting and put up a glowing review on FB for all of my friends who want strong girl-centric books for their kids.  They're fun!  And super-smart.  One of the characters swear by yelling the names of feminist icons...and I had to look several of them up.  Math and science save the day a couple of times.  Greek mythology is tied up in there.  And on and on and on.  (I checked out the individual issues through the library's digital services, but because there's a limit on the number you can check out I haven't finished up everything that's available yet.).

5. Life in Motion, Misty Copeland -  Santa brought this book to my eldest for Christmas.  She devoured it in one day, and then loaned it to mom!  Copeland's autobiography is a rags to riches Cinderella story, and it's another book that I'm glad is out there for my girls.  Love watching her dance!

6.  The Folded Clock: A Diary, Heidi Julavits (audio - unfinished) - I'm not sure I'm completely done with this book, and I may continue reading it next month.  It's lovely, it really is...but it's not something I found myself reaching for often.  Perhaps in print it would be better.  I will say that I did very much enjoy the portions I listened to.  Of course, anything 'diary' is something I tend to love.

7.  Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Lisa Randall (audio - unfinished) - I heard a fantastic interview with Randall on the podcast OnBeing, and pretty much fell in love with her very approachable and very beautiful take on very difficult physics.  (If you've never considered math and science to be beautiful, I would sincerely suggest you listen to the OnBeing interviews with mathematicians and scientists!). I waited a long time for the audio of this book to become available...only to discover it's not at all a good medium for this book.  The reader was far too dull, which made it impossible for me to focus.  I may try again in print.

8.  My Year of Running Dangerously, Tom Foreman (audio) - I love to listen to audiobooks when I run.  Even better if they're about running!  Foreman is a producer at CNN, and he's a talented - and very funny writer.  He tells the story in this book of coming back to running after years away, taking on the challenge of a marathon with his daughter and then transitioning into ultra running.  It was super-fun to listen to, and often made me laugh out loud! 

9. The Witches: Salem, 1692, Stacy Schiff (audio) - Now here's how you do nonfiction audio.  An amazing reader plus a history book that reads like fiction.  Bravo!  It's a pretty in-depth look at the Salem Witch Trials, and not only is that a fascinating subject but it's also chilling.  The public madness on display during 1692 just boggles the mind. 

10. The Witch of Lime Street, David Jaher - Harry Houdini, Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, spiritualism, belief, and doubt.  What's not to love?!  My one complaint is that the writing style does occasionally tip over into being a bit much. I get it.  You don't want to produce a boring nonfiction book that's strictly the facts.  You also don't want it to lean into melodrama...which this did, a bit.  Still, a fascinating subject!  Sent me online multiple times to look up pictures and references.

11.  All The Birds In The Sky, Charlie Jane Anders - This is a brand new book which came highly recommended on BOTNS.  When I saw it pop up on two more lists of exciting new books I decided to go for it.  I fell in love with this book within just a few pages, and devoured it!  It's early in the year yet, but this is already on my list of contenders for best of 2016.  If I had to pick my favorite part, it would definitely be the two main characters, who are superbly drawn. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Shawl Project

I was gently taken to task for not wearing my lace when I wrote this post, so I decided to try to wear as many of them as possible this month! 
The only rule - it either had to be worn out of the house somewhere, or had to be used at home for a significant period of time.  (In other words, I couldn't just take a picture and be done with it)
Documented selfie-style, of course.
 1/10/16 - handspun, handknit silk Estonian lace Peacock scarf
 1/10/16 - later that day, beaded silk Tibetan Clouds stole.
 1/11/16 - Mandala shawl
also worn as a scarf with my coat.
1/12/16 - Elektra (to be fair, this is one I wear all of the time)

 1/13/16 - Taygete - this one makes my mouth water, the colors are such an amazing combo!  But I never actually wove in the ends (eeep!), and so I'd never worn it.  Went ahead and wore it today despite that little oversight...which is all too common with my shawls.

1/14/16 - Weeping Willows. Another cheat, as this is a go-to shawl of mine that I've worn a LOT.
 1/15/15 - Rhea Silvia - I made the mistake of attempting to wrap it like you do with cowls....
 I HATE having stuff wrapped around my neck! This is better.

 1/15/16 - Second outing for the day, Prairie Rose Shawl

 1/16/16 - Lisianthus

 1/17/16 - Aolian Shawl

 1/18/16 - Wore Tibetan Clouds a second time, styled very differently

 1/19/16 - Melon Scarf

 1/21/16 - Heart to Heart (used to wear this all of the time, too)

 1/21/16 - Color on Color, worn on top of Heart to Heart

 1/22/16 - Miralda's Triangular Shawl

 1/23/16 - Hap Shawl (I was sick, so I curled up with it in my favorite chair all morning.)
1/25/16 - Maia Shoulderette
 1/28/16 - Shamrocks! (The weather has warmed...they are beginning to be a bit much.)

 1/29/16 - Another old favorite and oft worn, Laminaria, for around the house in the morning.

And with all of that...these are the shawls that I wasn't able to wear.  If I'd given it the full month...maybe.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Black & Gold

I'm not going to lie.  This yarn was a newby sock knitting mistake. 
I found it on KnitPicks back before they made their own yarn, and was so enamored by the idea of knitting socks in the colors of the beloved university that my entire family attended that I ordered enough to make socks for everyone.  (In my defense, it was deeply discounted.)
Here we are, a decade later, and I'm STILL trying to use it all up...and am now thoroughly sick and tired of black and gold sock yarn!
Live and and learn.
Having said all of that, this yarn was exactly what I needed to make a special Christmas gift for my BRF*, who is a passionate fan of all things MU and a spectacular friend.
This is a hard one to surprise someone with - the custom fit is important to me - so I presented her with the yarn when we did our gift exchange and took her measurements then.  I finally had time to get to work over this last week, and whipped them out in no time!
MU Socks for my BRF
Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Mult
Bee Stripe - 1.25 skeins
KnitPicks Harmony DPN's - US 1, 2.25mm
64 stitches around, 72 rows 2x2 ribbing in leg, 57 rows foot
January 3 - 26, 2016
The bad news....there's still enough yarn left to make one more pair of socks....
*Best Running Friend

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mittens = Love

My  youngest child will still wear the things that I make for her....and in fact has put in several special requests lately.
First up, a pair of basic mittens to keep her hands warm when she plays outside - which she's doing a LOT of this winter as she's rediscovered the joy of her playhouse!
Thumbies, Plain or Striped - by Robin Hansen
Knit Picks Harmony DPN's US 2 and US 3
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (leftovers from a kit I bought years ago)
January 20 - 22, 2016
I do love to knit mittens.  They're just sweet, and to me they mean love...and I really should make them more often!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


 In my ongoing quest to use up my stash...and in my current mood, where I don't want to start big projects just now...I decided to knit a quick scarf.
I've knit a Streussel before, but I gifted that one away.  I absolutely love this shape for scarves.  The extra fabric in the middle makes it really cozy to wear.
My one complaint is that the yarn - which was beautiful in the skein - is rather hideous when knit up.  I kind of hope it fades.  A lot.  Sigh.  It was unfortunately one of the most colorfast hand-dyed skeins of yarn I've ever washed....
As a funny note...I did rather start it on a whim, only to discover a little while later that I'd started it on the designer's birthday!
Streussel, by Bonnie Sennott
Addi Turbo, 24 inch circs, US 6
Pagewood Farm, Glacier Bay, Forest Cami
January 13-15, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Snow Day

We knew that today would be a snow day.
School was canceled before bedtime last night, much to the delight of my two daughters and the two friends we have staying at the house this week. 
Snow days are, after all, pretty darn wonderful.
With twice the normal amount of children in the house, and with the tv and most of the toys being downstairs, I decided to pack up my creative life and move it to my bedroom for the day, where I was guaranteed a small amount of privacy.
I think it took four trips to move everything I wanted up to my room.
In the end, of course, I didn't end up having that much time to myself.  Four children do need a certain amount of wrangling, and two of them did have their evening activities in session.
But still, I managed to get some things done.
Today I:
  • Cleaned out my knitting bag
  • Dug out an old magazine so that I could use a pattern in it.
  • Knit a swatch for my next sweater project.
  • I was a good little knitter and washed the swatch, too.
  • Wound down the yarn for three separate projects - a total of 12 skeins, which takes a while!
  • Spent some time going through my collection of mitten books, which is more extensive than I'd remembered and should be utilized a lot more
  • Started a pair of mittens for my youngest
  • Washed a newly finished scarf so that it could be blocked
  • Pulled out my finish work basket, and went through the contents. (Although I - ahem - didn't actually do any work from it.)
  • Let my youngest go through the sock yarn basket to pick out yarn.  She wants more socks.  That makes me very happy!
  • Put in a few rows on the pair of socks I'm currently working on.
  • Reorganized my basket of leftover sock yarn...this has to be done periodically because it starts to look rather ragged when I'm digging around in it constantly as the balls start to unwind.
I love snow days.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Small Things

 I absolutely adore knit Christmas ornaments, toys, and other small whimseys...but I almost never knit them because truth be told they are kind of a pain.  However, I simply could not resist KnitPick's 2015 Christmas ornament booklet, Adorn.  (I actively regret not having bought their last couple of Christmas collections while they were available.)  I had intentions of knitting more than a few of the goodies in that book, but time and some knitting fatigue were against me.  I managed four of the wee mittens before I was done.
Mini-Mitts by SpillyJane
(If you aren't familiar with SpillyJane, she is very well known for her colorwork mittens, which are fun and modern takes on old traditions.)
Adorn pattern booklet by KnitPicks
KnitPicks Harmony DPN's, size 0, 2.0mm
KnitPicks Palette leftovers
December 6-20, 2016
I gifted one of the cream colored tree mittens to a good friend of mine, the rest of them I kept for myself.  My intention is to perhaps start this summer making more so that I can gift them next year.  I have some ideas for taking the basic pattern and using it as a template for personalized designs!