Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I read in December and 2014 Round-Up

Being busy with gift making certainly cut into my reading (and blogging) this month. As did being out of town for a week. I only have a few books to share.

A great book that was difficult to read as a parent. Not really spoiling anything by telling you that a child dies. It begins by telling you that. The novel tells you what happens to the family after and what happened before that lead to the daughter's death. Good twists and turns that I didn't expect and written well. Definitely recommend.

I've read the other Post Secret books and I usually read the post cards that are posted every Sunday on the website. If you enjoy reading people's secrets, you'll like this book. Some are heartbreaking, others will make you laugh out loud and some will make you think.

Finally got around to reading this and returned it to my SIL. I didn't realize it was considered Young Adult until I started reading it. I found the first half boring but pushed myself to finish it. The second half, once Max arrived, was much better. I didn't always enjoy the writing style but I'm glad I read it. A great book for teenagers and those who enjoy reading young adult fiction. 

I read a lot in 2014, here's my list.
1. "Astor Place Vintage" by Stephanie Lehmann (Jan.)
2. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" graphic novel, Season 9, volume 4 (Feb.)
3. "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien (March)
4. "The Weight of Water" by Sarah Crossan (April)
5. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" graphic novel, season 9, volume 5 (April)
6. "The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress" by Ariel Lawhon (May)
7. "My Wish List" by Gregoire Delacourt (May)
8. "The Knitting Circle" by Ann Hood (May)
9. "Evelyn Evelyn:A Tragic Tale in Two Tomes", graphic novel by Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley (June)
10. "Two Sisters" by Mary Hogan (June)
11. "The Stone Gods" by Jeanette Winterson (July)
12. "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" by Karen Joy Fowler (July)
13. "Knitting under the Influence" by Claire LaZebnik (August)
14. "The Wives of Los Alamos" by Tarashea Nesbit (Sept.)
15. "The House We Grew Up In" by Lisa Jewell (Sept.)
16. "Never Mind Miss Fox" by Olivia Glazebrook (Sept.)
17. "Five Days Left" by Julie Lawson Timmer (Sept.)
18. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales" Graphic Novel collection (Oct.)
19. "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple (Oct.)
20. "Eleanor & Park" by Rainbow Rowell (Oct.)
21. "Correspondences" Poem by Anne Michaels, Portraits by Bernice Eisenstein (Oct.)
22. "This is Where I Leave You" by Jonathon Tropper (Oct.)
23. "Out of the Dark" by Patrick Modiano (Nov.)
24. "The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil" by Stephen Collins (Nov.) graphic novel
25. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney (Nov.)
26. "Everything I Never Told You" by Celeste Ng (Dec.)
27. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak (Dec.)

1. "Create your Writer Platform" by Chuck Sambuchino (Jan.)
2. "The artful edit" by Susan Bell (March)
3. "This is where we came in" by Lynne Sharon Schwartz (April)
4. "Writer's Block : Using Brain Science to Solve Writer's Resistance" by Rosanne Bane (April)
5. "The Homeschool Option" by Lisa Rivero (April)
6. "Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting" edited by Ann Hood (April)
7. "Mud Season" by Ellen Stimson (May)
8. "See Jane Write" by Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs (June)
9. "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing" By Jason Good (June)
10. "The Amazing Thing About the Way it Goes" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (June)
11. "The Creative Compass" by Dan Millman and Sierra Prasada (July)
12. "Blog Inc." by Joy Deangdeelert Cho (August)
13. "The Trickster's Hat" by Nick Bantock (August)
14. "Adventures in Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm" by Barbara Parry (August)
15. "Mindfulness for Beginners" by Jon Kabat-Zinn (August)
16. "Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life" by Dani Shapiro (August)
17. The Writer's Little Helper" by James V. Smith, Jr. (September)
18. "The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets" by Simon Singh (September)
19. "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler (Nov.)
20. "The World of Post Secret" by Frank Warren (Dec.)
21. "The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life" by Lois Ehlert (Dec.)

That's 48 books in all! The last non-fiction book by Lois Ehlert will be a separate post.
My favourite fiction of 2014:
1. The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
2. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
3. Never Mind Miss Fox by Olivia Glazebrook
4. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
5. The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

I enjoyed all the non-fiction read. If I don't like it I stop reading it.

Reading goals for 2015? To read less. Weird but true. Books are addictive and I could easily read this many books again in 2015 but I want next year to be more about my own writing. I hope to get the toddler and I on a better schedule that will allow for designated work hours. But kids often have their own ideas. I will continue reading but will be pickier about what I read. I don't think I'll read much more Young Adult, I don't really enjoy it. (I feel like I just offended a lot of people) And I hope to read more of the authors I love while finding a few new ones.

What are your reading plans for 2015? And did you have a favourite book(s) from 2014?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday Night Sew-In Results

I was able to get a few things done yesterday. I cut out and ironed the snowflakes onto a table runner. Still needs to be quilted but it is basted and ready to go. This is a Christmas present.

I quilted the I-Spy quilt for Floyd. Need to trim it and put the binding on before we open presents here tomorrow morning. He loves it, especially all the owls. (We open presents here as a family early and spend Christmas Day with grandparents).

It was going to be an I-spy book but after finding a piece of Spiderman themed fleece in the remnant bin at the fabric store it became a quilt. I didn't put any batting in it and just stitched in the ditch around all the blocks. He loves Spiderman.

I think he is very happy with it.

I also started this little gnome. It is just over 2 inches tall. I still need to knit the bottom and sew it all together. I tried a pattern that was knit in the round instead of flat but it was just a little too tricky for the level of patience I have at this time of year. And I don't mind seaming. I hope to make a couple more as they are pretty cute. Pattern I used is free and can be found here. I used fingering weight yarn and size 1/2.25mm needles.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Finishes

It's been a long week here, made longer by the internet company doing repairs in our area leaving me without internet during the day. Repairs seem to be done now so I can finally do a blog post. Here are all my finishes from this week and some works in progress. Tonight is the last Friday Night Sew-In of 2014. I have 2 projects left to do on the sewing machine that I am going to try and finish tonight. You can sign up for FNSI here.

A Jane hat for my daughter, Calliope. I tried to get pictures done when the daylight was good but it is almost impossible to get a good picture of myself and keep an eye on the toddler. This shows the detail better than the next picture. I did 2 and half pattern repeats. I used the yarn leftover from her sweater and I probably could have done 3 full pattern repeats but I didn't want to run out of yarn. 

Dalek dishtowel for my BIL.

Pattern can be found here. I haven't washed this as it will shrink and fade after washing and won't look as good. 

Finished potholders/ hot pads made with insul-bright batting. The orphan block one is for me. I had planned on giving the two 9-patch hot pads to a SIL and the maple leaf set to a close family friend but now I'm thinking I'll give them one of each as they kind of look good together. 

Busy again with the perler beads and made an ornament for a nephew.

Started putting the button eyes on the Owlet sweater. 3 done, 13 to go. Anyone want to come and do the buttons for me?

I have accepted that I will not have my son's sweater done by Sunday, when we open presents here as a family. But it should be done by Christmas Day when we open presents with some of our extended family. Everyone needs vests next year, right?

I finished another perler bead ornament but it's a gift and they might read this, so this is all I can show.

Jen from Knitting Like Crazy sent me some corks. Now I just want to make more trees.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Some finishes and an almost finish

I've been quiet on the blog and twitter this past week. There is just so much to do and my to-do list keeps getting shorter and not because I'm finishing things. I've decided to buy some presents instead of making them which was a hard but good decision. Last Thursday (I think), I made one last try to make something for my brother's girls.
It started with the idea of purchasing some rabbits via Heifer in their name and then giving all the girls little knitted rabbits. I looked at patterns and somehow it all led to me making little green purses..

... that open up into little places to play for their rabbits. I love the crocheted cork trees I made to go with them. I'm going to be making more of these as Jen has mailed me more corks - I only had 5. They were a lot of fun to make and I think I need a whole forest.

Anyway, back to the purses. I planned on making each niece a purse, rabbit, tree and something else. Another rabbit or a different animal to go with them. 

Then I tried the first pattern and it was terrible. And the snowman I tried next wasn't much better. The nose made him look like a duck. Next time, I'll just stitch the nose on. 

The purses are my own design. Just pull the string...

... and they're all closed up with goodies inside. After the rabbit and snowman fail, I decided I didn't have the time or patience to do this now and will use these for birthday presents for the youngest nieces on both sides of the family this year. 

Floyd likes the rabbit and snowman and that they fit into a lot of his toys. And he can carry both of them in one hand.

Speaking of Floyd, I finished his Owlet sweater on Saturday. He loves it and wouldn't let me take it off after I tried it on him. And he wouldn't look at me for a picture either.

Need to add some owl eye buttons. 

Short rows at the back of the sweater. This means I am done 2 of 3 sweaters for my kids.

Number 3 is so close to done. Just need to do the ribbing at the bottom of the body, then the sleeves. Can't believe I might get all three finished in time. The yarn is a navy blue not the colour it looks here. See the yarn here.

It was so nice today that Floyd and I went for a walk and all he needed to wear was the sweater I made him last year. 

I also made a hat for my daughter over the weekend but forgot to take pictures of it. And I finally bought buttons for the Dundurn cardigan and put them on. I tried the cardigan on after and loved it - pictures on ravelry. Hope my mom loves it as much as I do or I might take it back. Just kidding mom. Or am I? 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What I've been up to

I had a bunch of blog posts planned for this week but it feels like I've spent very little time on the computer this week. My focus has been on finishing the sweaters for my sons and I'm making good progress on them. I hope to share pictures soon. However, there were a lot of other things keeping me busy this week.

All the squares are cut for Floyd's I-Spy quilt. I finally started sewing these together last night. I think he's going to love it. I needed 180 squares and used over 80 different fabrics. Most from stash and some from my SIL. Only thing I bought is some Spiderman fleece for the backing from the remnant bin at Jo-Ann's.

Cards. Most of them went out in the mail yesterday. I have a few left that need letters before they go in the mail. 

Sweater knitting while looking at our little tree.

And with all those big projects going on, I need some finishes so I'm working on making some of the mini things that are on my gifts-to-make list today. Maybe I'll have some finishes to share tomorrow.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Another week, another post of links. Enjoy.

I love this idea, although I'm more likely to knit the shelf.

Some good titles on this list.

I always knew reading was good for me.

A great gift for a knitter and also a great charity.

I'm not participating but this should be lots of fun.

Not exactly sure how I stumbled upon this but it was lovely to read.

I might have to do something like this next year with our advent quilt.

A review that doesn't give too much away.

What do you think of 2015's colour?

And because not every link should lead to something happy. I can't believe yesterday marked 25 years since the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre. I remember that happening and realizing for the first time that someone may want to hurt me either physically or with their words just because I was born a girl. And the sad thing is, 25 years later, I don't think women are any better off.

Friday, December 5, 2014

2 Knitted finishes and Sweater progress

Here are a couple more finishes to complete this week. I think I finished this on Sunday evening while my husband was watching Aliens 3. I was in the bedroom - it was not my kind of movie. Above is the Akron cowl from the Everyday Lace book. This is after blocking. It is a gift. 

I know the lace is kind of lost in the variegated yarn but I think it still looks good.

We finally got some pictures done yesterday after school. These short, grey days aren't good for taking pictures of knitting. I love this picture of Floyd and I that my daughter took. I'm wearing the cowl and the yarn feels soft and warm. His hat is a little big but keeps him warm.

Here is the mystery shawl finished and waiting to be blocked. I had a terrible time blocking this shawl. It didn't go the way I wanted it to go. I blame the yarn, which isn't very good, and didn't have a lot of stretch during blocking.

Here it is blocked. This is facing the right way and right side out.

And somehow it is upside down and wrong side out here. Not easy to take pictures and keep the knitting the right way with a toddler in a sling but it was easier than chasing him around.

Fixed it for this cuddly picture.

Floyd was done with pictures at this point and was trying to sneak out. Don't worry, he didn't fall.

All stretched out.

Close-up of the lace detail. Great pattern. I loved the third clue (the bottom) the best.

Once we were back inside I played around with the shawl and decided I like it better upset down. Wrapped around my neck it was very warm. And I was finally really happy with it.

My son took these pictures in the kitchen where the most natural light was. This is the shawl upside down  (but right side out). If I keep it, this is how I would wear it, other than around my neck as in the previous picture. It was meant to be a gift but I haven't decided yet if it will be. 

Making good progress on the sweaters for my sons which need to be done by the 21st. Above is Owlet for Floyd. I did all of this in one day. Love aran weight yarn.

Flax for my older son. Separated the sleeves from the body, now I just knit inches and inches of stockinette.

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