Monday, August 31, 2015

A Couple August Finishes

Somehow it is already the end of August. Not sure what happened to this summer. The kids and I have been lazy homebodies which is just starting to get boring. My daughter and I watched most of Gilmour Girls together (we have around 30 episodes left) which gave me plenty of knitting time. I'm going to miss the older two kids when they return to school in just over a week but it will be nice to spend some time with just Floyd as next year he'll be in preschool and things will get pretty busy (but I'll have 3 mornings a week to myself!). 
And as amazed as I am that summer vacation is almost over, I am more amazed that Christmas is four months away. I still have a very long list of things to make. This month I was able to finish 2 projects of that long Christmas list.

I finally finished the Flax for a niece that I started in July. It was supposed to be my July Camp Loopy project but when it wasn't going to use the necessary 600 yards, I knit a Flax sweater for her older sister instead. Flax is a great, free pattern. I might have to make one for myself someday.

Here is my leftover yarn. Once I an done the third Flax (for my nephew), I'll have enough yarn leftover for something else (around 5 skeins). I was thinking of making matching hats to give along with the sweaters, but I'm not sure yet.

And here is my August Camp Loopy project. I finished it last Monday. It really needed to be blocked to show off its beauty. Pattern is Wispy Willow Cardigan.  

And here it is after being blocked. It is for my daughter but she's supposed to wait until Christmas to get it. She would really like it now.... we'll see.

Simple leaf lace along each edge...

... and on each sleeve.

The back got a crease during the few days between blocking and photo taking.  She wants me to add a button at the top to help keep it closed and then it will be really finished. She didn't want the lace that went down the back.

Poor Floyd wanted to come out and join in the fun.

Now that I'm done those two, you'd think I'd have time to tackle some of these projects. I kept forgetting what I had yarn set aside for, so I made a list of the yarn and the project. But I can't get started on this list. At least not yet, although two of them are also on the Christmas to-make list. The rest of the projects are for me.

I need to make a dent in this list first. This is a list of WIP's. I've crossed 3 items off since I made the list (and added one that I forgot) and am making good progress on several of them. This list isn't just for knitting, there are quilt WIP's on there too. I'd like to get 4 more crossed off before the kids return to school. I was thinking of starting something the day they go back, but only if I exclusively work on finishing up things before then. I've tried to be monogamous while finishing but it doesn't seem to be part of my crafting nature. I do easier (stockinette) knitting while Floyd is awake and save lace, cables and anything that needs a lot of attention/ or sharp (such as cutting fabric) for when he sleeps. Hope to have some more finishes to share with you next week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What I Read in August

I doubt I'll finish another book before the end of the month, so here is what I've read this August. It was a good month. I've only read 3 novels since my last what I've read post but two of the ones I've read I feel very passionate about. Here's what I read and what I thought about them.

This book was amazing. Once I was finished I couldn't start another book for almost 2 weeks, (and I only started reading again because it was Harper Lee). It definitely stayed with me since I still think about it. I tried to tell my daughter why it was so good and ended up telling her the whole plot. It reminded me of Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", so if you liked that I think you'll enjoy this. It is set in the future and Earth has been divided into zones (book takes place in the Europe zone) and genetics have been modified so a set of girls are "born" each year and raised together secluded from the rest of the world. On their 17th birthday, ten are picked to be wives, the rest become mistresses or teachers at the school. There are so many twists and turns - especially at the end - that I don't want to ruin. This is supposedly teen fiction but other than the main characters being teens, I wouldn't consider this a young adult novel. I'm sure it will be included in classes about Dystopian novels, if it hasn't already. Highly recommend.

Brevity is the Soul of Wit by Mya L. Gosling
A quick 10 minute read. A local author (works at University of Michigan) and a lover of Shakespeare. This would be great for anyone who has read Shakespeare, seen a play or a movie based on his plays and enjoyed them. Laughed out loud a few times. As the sub title explains it is , "The complete works of Shakespeare in three panels each". Mya also has a blog with more cartoons and she recently returned from seeing lots of plays in Stratford, Ontario.  

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Where to start about this one? Read it in 12 hours but took a break after the first 85 pages while I decided whether I was going to finish it or not. Yeah, it's that bad. But it had enough good qualities about it that I finished it. I tried to stay away from all news and articles about the book before I read it. After I finished reading it at 1 am, I stayed up an extra 30 minutes doing some quick research about the book and I think it never should have been published. Or at least not marketed as a second novel, a new novel or a sequel. This book is Lee's first draft of what would become "To Kill A Mockingbird". Her editor at the time told Lee, the flashbacks that 26 year old Scout had of her childhood were the strongest parts of the book (and I totally agree) and maybe she should focus on that for her novel. Lee did, and a wonderful classic was written and is beloved by many. As a writer, I enjoyed seeing some of the process - how a book starts out as one thing and then becomes another. This is not a sequel and was never meant as one. And although it was investigated whether Harper Lee was taken advantage of in her old age (courts say she knows what she agreed too), I don't believe it. This book badly needs an editor. Dialogue and plot are terrible. It is clearly an early draft of something that could be great but has no right to be published as is.  

Here is part of the inside jacket blurb. I agree with the last sentence. This book makes "To Kill a Mockingbird" look even more brilliant than it is.

However, it's not a new novel!
Have you read it and think differently about it? I would love to hear what other people think of this book. I know I'm not alone in how I feel about it but I'd love for someone to defend it.

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos
 I wasn't expecting much from this novel. It had a few twists that surprised me and some that didn't but the storyline was developed well. I think it may be chick lit disguised as women's fiction (and yes those are two different things). The happy ending for everyone kind of threw me off but I'd still recommend it. The novel is told by two different women, half sisters who have the same father. The older sister doesn't really like her father and how he treated her growing up. She returns home, at his request, after he's had a heart attack and is reunited with her younger sister who she hasn't seen in 15 years. The younger sister (age 16), is going to public school for the first time (the father had homeschooled her) and a lot of her parts of the novel deal with high school and trying to fit in. Of course both of the sisters date, much to their father's disapproval. It was interesting and a nice break from the other novels I read this month. There is a lot to this novel but the main focus is the relationship between the two sisters and their individual relationships with their father.

Next month, my plan is to reread some favorites. It's my birthday month and I don't care what's due next at the library, I just want to read some books that I love.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Camp Loopy Progress

August is the last month of Camp Loopy. The project needs to use at least 800 yards and my plans were to make my daughter's Christmas present. I had bought yarn and a pattern but didn't look at my yarn right away since I didn't want to be tempted. When I finally looked at it, I realized they sent me the wrong accent yarn. Calliope and I looked at ravelry and picked a different pattern that I had enough yarn to knit using the other yarn I had ordered. Lucky for me, I already had the magazine that the pattern was in.

I'm knitting her this light cardigan that has lace panels down each front and on each sleeve. It also has a lace panel on the back but she didn't want lace on the back so I'm just doing a stockinette back. The yarn is Cascade Heritage Silk.

For fingering weight yarn it is knitting up surprisingly fast. Here it is after 3 lace pattern repeats.

I think this is after 8 lace repeats. Sleeves and body were separated after 6. The sleeves only need ribbing to be finished but my daughter hinted that she wants longer sleeves. I'm going to have her try it on before we come to a final decision. This will definitely look better after blocking. I think I have 9-10 lace pattern repeats to do before the body is done. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Added to the fabric stash

This year, I have purged a lot of my fabric stash. I even have room in the bin I store fabric in which I don't think I've ever had before and I can't remember the last time I bought fabric. When we visited family last month, I was gifted some fabric. Most of it was scraps and aren't taking up a lot of space. 

This half yard piece is from my mom. It's already been set aside for backing of a completed quilt top.

My mother-in-law had two bags of fabric for my sister-in-law and I to go through. I also got the bag of stuffing. Looks like only a bit has been used. The bottom two are big pieces. The yellow piece is polyester. I couldn't resist it. The rolled piece underneath it is a piece of felt.

I really, really want to do a solids quilt so I brought home most of the solids. 

Three different Christmas fabrics at the top and two fat quarter size fabric pieces on the bottom.

I wasn't planning to bring home any of the smaller scraps but I ended up selecting a lot. They are just so unique. 

More neat scraps.

These ones might be my favorites. Love how the 2 on the right look like quilts.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Mochi-mochi Knitting

On July 11th, my daughter and I were lucky to go to a Anna Hrachovec workshop again. We went last year to her yarned twig workshop. The best part is that both of them were hosted by our public library and were free.  This time, Anna, did a talk about her recent trip to South Korea and the publication of her new book, Adventures in Mochi-Mochi Land. Then we all knit Gary the crab together and she provided helpful hints. We had a great time.

This was Calliope's first time knitting with dpn's and she did awesome. I gave her size 8 needles with worsted yarn to help make it a little easier. While we waited for the talk to start she did some practice pieces to get used to the needles.

I was able to finish my little guy during the workshop. I love the two little strands of stuffing coming out of his head that make him look a little crazed.

He's just the right size for sitting on my computer and watching me type in codes for the Summer Games hosted by our awesome library. (We got a code for attending the workshop and then for buying one of her books there.)

Calliope knit most of her crab at the workshop but finished him at home. I did the eyes on both and hers are much better.

Calliope enjoyed using dpn's so much that she started making a monster from one of Anna's other books (Super Scary Mochi Mochi) that I have out from the library. She has knit a whole ball - which I haven't taken a picture of yet.

Her crab kept a close eye on her knitting.

The two books I bought. I've borrowed the Huge and Huggable Mochimochi from the library several times so I thought I should buy it. If the Super-Scary one had been there, I would have bought it too. The one on the right, is her new one.

Both are signed of course. Anna is super nice and if you ever have a chance to go to one of her workshop's you should go. 

Her new book is a little different, in that she wrote 3 stories plus patterns for some of the characters/ props in them. Trying to decide what I want to knit next. Kids think I should make a giant muffin.

Also trying to decide what I want to make from the Huge and Huggable book. I am leaning towards this big teddy bear...

... or this monster truck for Floyd. Floyd really wants me to make the truck. Christmas present, perhaps?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What I Read in July

I really should have titled this post, What I read the past 2 weeks, as that is when I read these 6 books.    Our days have been incredibly laid back this summer and the kids and I have watched way too much tv. Great for knitting, not so much for reading. When we went away the middle of July I took 4 books with me to read. I read 2 before we arrived home. I think that's pretty good. I used to read more in the car but now I prefer knitting or crocheting. Anyway, here's what I read the past 2 weeks.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
This is Judy's latest (and supposedly last) novel for adults. I really enjoyed the first half of this book but the more I thought about it, the more disliked the second half. I'm not exactly sure why that it. The writing is good but where she took the story wasn't where I wanted it to go, perhaps. Maybe there were other characters I was interested in, I'm not really sure. If you enjoy her work, read it. I think my dislike of it, is just a personal reaction. As soon as I finished it, I started reading another book so I would stop thinking about it.

Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
And this is the book I read right after in less than 24 hours. It's my favourite read from this month. It tells the story of Hannah who returns to L.A., and stays with her best friend, Gabby (and Gabby's husband). They go out that night for a welcome home celebration. At the end of the night, Hannah has the choice of going back to the house with Gabby or staying out with her ex-boyfriend. The novel than splits into 2 different stories - what happens if she goes and what happens if she stays. I enjoyed both what if stories and found them believable. It was a great vacation read. Definitely written for women but I wouldn't consider it chick lit. Would recommend if you are looking a light, fun read.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston
Novel told via a scrapbook of a woman in the 1920's. A nice, quick read with a solid story. I borrowed this (and several more books) from my mom. I enjoyed it and would recommend it if you want something a little different to read.

Here is a sample page. Not a lot of text on each page but plenty of stuff to look at. I enjoyed the story so much, I requested her other novels from the library.

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
Written well but I didn't really enjoy it. The novel is about what happens to a family once infidelity is exposed by the children finding all the emails the father had with his mistress. I found that reading this book made me angry but I couldn't stop reading it. I didn't really like any of the characters. Found them to be stereotypes a bit but the writing was good enough that I kept reading. I'd be willing to read other things by the author. I'm sure other people love this book, it just rubbed me the wrong way. Warning: there is some graphic sexual language.

Hold Your Own by Kate Tempest
A poetry collection all based on the the theme of Tiresias from Greek Mythology. He lived as both a man and a woman and then was sentenced to live on Earth, blind, by the Gods for generations. I really enjoyed this. Poetry is very personal and I liked how the poet wrote. Others may not.  This collection is just over 100 pages. I'd love to read more of her work and recommend this.

Pretty is by Maggie Mitchell
I just finished reading this yesterday (it's due back at the library tomorrow) and I haven't completely decided how I feel about it yet. The novel is told by two different women, Lois and Carly May/Chloe. The summer they were 12, they were kidnapped by a man who kept them for 6 weeks at a cabin in the woods before the police found them and the man took his own life. The girls were then returned home and lost touch with each other, as there parents wished. As an adult, Lois writes a novel loosely based on what happens under a different name. It becomes a movie and Carly May, now going by the name Chloe, gets cast in the movie. The two women eventually reunite on the movie set but they don't tell anyone how they know each other. There are some twists and turns, such as one of Lois' students figuring out who she is and stalking her. I think I found the ending rushed. I enjoyed the novel but then all of a sudden it was over. Think it could have been 50 pages longer to make the ending better. I enjoyed it enough to recommend it. 

I have lots more to read this month. Our library shelf is overflowing. Only the novels on the left are mine. I have another novel due Saturday that I can't renew so I better get reading.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Around the Web with a Cup of Tea

Here are some of the interesting things I found on the internet last month. I had to decide which were the best ones to share. Hope you enjoy them.

Here are some historical novels that have or are coming out.

This Writing Workshop is close by. Deciding whether I want to go to it or not.

I think I might have to get something from this shop.

I've read 4 Judy Blume books this year, so I found this interview with her interesting.

I think I might use this technique the next time I need to cast on a lot of stitches.

Always looking for more ways to craft for charity. Here's another.

If you enjoy Jane Richmond's knitting designs, here's an interview with her.

And this new lace knitting book might be going on my wishlist.

It seems that adult coloring books are a bigger thing than I thought. Here's some free coloring pages, if you're into it.

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