Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What I read in September

I kind of lost my reading mojo this month so the books read list is short. Some of my reading mojo left due to editing my novel and my brain didn't want to read and edit different novels. However, it feels like my mojo may be coming back, if only to read graphic novels. 

Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
A reread. One of the many favorite novels I had planned to reread for my birthday month but it's the only one I read. It's less than 200 pages but took me almost 3 weeks to read - with no reading mojo, I really had to force myself to read. This might be the first Atwood novel I read. I think my sister had read it for a university course than gave it to me to read when I was in high school. I can still remember sitting in the school library reading it. It's still great and a little weird. You never know the name of the main character. The novel is about a woman who returns to her childhood home with three friends to try and find her missing father. The home is a rustic cabin on an island. Truths about her past come out and she kind of losses her mind. I still highly recommend it and glad I reread it. I had forgotten enough of the details to make it really interesting to read.
I hope to reread one favourite novel a month and share them here.

Charm by Sarah Pinborough
This is part of a trilogy and is a retelling of the Cinderella story. I had thought this book would make a good selection for our mother-daughter book club but there was too much sex stuff in it. Overall, it was okay. I had another book from the trilogy home from the library, started it and decided I had better things to do and returned it. It was a nice change but it just wasn't my thing. I like the idea of playing with fairytales and changing them up a bit but I didn't love this retelling. Someone else might, just a warning about the sexual content.

Fables: Legends in Exile - Graphic Novel
Keeping with the fairy tale theme, this is the first in a series of graphic novels about fairy tales and the characters being forced to live in our world but wanting to be back in theirs. Some characters are able to blend in, others obviously aren't and live on a "farm" in the country. Some characters were able to pay witches and are made to look human. The Big Bad Wolf is now Bigby, a detective. Snow White is the deputy mayor and basically runs everything. A great, quick read that I really enjoyed. Recommended by my husband to me, and I'd recommend it to you.

Fables: Animal Farm - Graphic Novel
This is the second in the Fables series. Another great, quick read. This one took place on the "farm" where all the fairy tale characters live that couldn't fit into society, think giants, three little pigs, the three bears, etc... Several of them revolt, planning to invade and eventually take back their fairytale lands from the "Adversary" who kicked them out. I don't know much about the Adversary yet and I'm looking forward to learning more. I won't spoil the ending by telling you what happens during the revolt but it's good. 
One thing I really like about the Fables series so far is the strong women. Snow White is in charge in the City. Her sister, Rose Red, becomes a strong character by the end of the second book. And Goldilocks is leader of the revolt (who knew she'd do that). It's nice to see female characters in a graphic novel who aren't toppling over with cleavage. They also have brains and aren't afraid to use them. 

So, what have you been reading? 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Few Finishes

Life got busy around here. I'm now vice-president of the PTO at my son's school and there's been other school meetings/ commitments that have been eating my time and energy. My brain has been so cloudy and scattered the past week that I haven't been able to focus on the blog, editing, or reading. It's been a long, frustrating week. Yesterday I started to feel like I'm coming out of the fog and feel more like myself. I got a little editing done and even read a bit - a graphic novel, but it counts. Here's what I've been knitting over the past week.

I knit a Gothic Lace scarf for my friends birthday. We had our birthday dinner last Friday so I needed it finished by Wednesday so I could block it on Thursday. I think I ended up finishing it Thursday morning and had it blocked before lunch. Above is a picture of the lace before blocking.

And after. The yarn is Aran weight and is very warm and soft.

Here is the whole scarf before being blocked. 

And after. I still had a little yarn leftover and could have done a couple more repeats but it was getting pretty long. This is the yarn's true colour.

Here it is wrapped around. Very tempted to keep it.

Knotted. I think it's a great length (my husband thought it was too long) and my friend loved it.

I also gave her this Vispo cowl which I showed pictures of in a previous post, here. This is a more detailed picture.

I also finished the pink one for my SIL's birthday next month. 

Comparing the two. Pink unblocked, red blocked. Both are made with Cascade 220 Superwash.

You can see the difference when worn as well. The blocked one is more "relaxed" around my neck.

Unblocked, the cowl sits up more. I kind of like it this way but I will be blocking it to help with the rolled edges.

I finished the first sock and only have the toe left on the second. Really love the stripes.

And this guy loves pumpkins so one night I made him one. This is his face when I told him to smile.

Friday, September 18, 2015

3 Finishes for Friday

I was able to block my finished knits this week and got outside for the last moments of daylight yesterday to take some pictures. Above is the little stack of finishes.

First up is the Earth shawl. It's supposed to have a different border. Now it really doesn't have a border at all. I started the border that came with the pattern but I didn't like how the stitches looked where the border met the body of the shawl so I ripped it back and tried some other options before deciding to just cast off. Go to the pattern page to see what the border's supposed to look like.

Wrapped around and ready to be used. Once the weather gets cooler.

I love the leaf detail which convinced me to cast this shawl on. 

Next up is my Low Tide cardigan. I still needed buttons for it so I used stitch markers to keep it closed. It's really soft. The neck hole is a little wider than I would have liked and read that others crocheted around the edge to bring it in a bit. Still deciding whether I'm going to do that or not. I didn't think I had any buttons in my stash but I checked last night and found 6 from one of husband's shirts that I had kept which seem to be the right size. 

The back. I think the back neckline is the worst part. I might just crochet along the back to fix it. Mods I made to the pattern. Like several others I added an eyelet row and a garter border at the bottom. I did 6 garter rows. I also did 6 garter rows on each sleeve. The pattern just has them cast off in stockinette which causes the bottoms to roll up and I didn't want that. I also crocheted along the left front. The right front has a crocheted on button row which finishes off the edge but not the left side. This seems odd to me so I did the left side so they'd both look finished.

And lastly, a very quick finish from this week. Vispo cowl knit in about a day will be gifted to my best friend next week for her birthday. Love the pattern and can't recommend it enough. 

And if I finished 3, I must cast on 3. In pink is a second Vispo cowl (told you I loved it) which will be sent to my SIL next month for her 40th birthday. In the middle is a scarf (Gothic Lace) also for my best friend. She requested a scarf but I got distracted by the cowl. And I remembered how desperately I need knitted socks for this winter and cast on a pair - loving the stripes. 

But I had to cast on my birthday project this morning. Having a Muppet Movie marathon while I knit. Above I'm knitting the first round and watching "Muppet Family Christmas". Floyd picked Christmas movies first so we've also watched "A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa" and "It's a Very, Merry Muppet Christmas Movie".

Currently watching "Muppets Most Wanted" and pausing the knitting to have some lunch. Not sure if I like the pattern or not. We'll see if I finish it. Next up is "The Muppet Movie".

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Still Editing.

I've still been busy this past week editing. I had my mother read the very rough first draft of "Lucy"over the summer and she gave some helpful suggestions. One of them was moving an important part of the plot to earlier in the novel. So part of chapter 10 was moved into chapter 4. That means the next few chapters will need some major editing.

Floyd "helping" me edit. 

And sometimes the editing needs to be set aside so I can use my new yarn swift for the first time and listen to podcasts while Floyd naps.  I love the swift but the screw got stuck after the third hank was wound. Not too happy about that but my husband is going to try and fix it.
Now back to editing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

WIP Update

I crossed 4 WIP's off my list during the past week. 

Piecing these blocks was on the list. I had all the pieces cut and I kept moving them out of my way. During one of Floyd's naps last week, I focused and was able to finish about 40 blocks. They still need to be trimmed and ironed.

Here are four blocks I made a few weeks ago all trimmed and ironed. The quilt is tentatively called Cuzco Corner since it uses a charm pack of Kate Spain's Cuzco fabric. This is a pretty easy quilt. I cut each 5 inch square into four 2.5 inch squares then sewed them onto the corners of black squares. The black squares are 10 inches and are a pre-cut layer cake. (Isn't it funny the words that quilters and knitters use?). The plan is for the quilt to become a Christmas present for a niece.

I also finished knitting the Low Tide Cardigan and Earth Shawl. Today I'm weaving in ends and blocking. Hope to have some finished pictures to share on Friday.

And this isn't technically a finish but it is crossed off the list. I decided I love the pattern but not the stripes the yarn is making, so it has been frogged. I'll do the pattern in a different yarn.

All this finishing must mean I can cast on something new....or perhaps 2 or 3 new things.

Monday, September 14, 2015

I frogged a sweater

At the end of this week, I'll have a birthday. The last couple years I started the tradition of being selfish on that day and casting on a new knit for me and work exclusively on it, that day.  

I went through my ravelry projects page and looked at what I have knit in the past and came across this sweater that I hardly ever wear. I liked the idea of it but I made the neck hole too tight which makes it difficult to get on. It is made with bulky yarn. I was looking forward to having a big chunky sweater to wear but I often felt too hot in it. Then I got pregnant and bulky sweaters are no good when nursing a baby. It has sat for a couple years ignored. I decided I no longer loved the sweater and that it was time to frog it. 

First I found the sleeve seams and undid them.

Unraveling while watching tennis last week (weren't the finals this weekend great?).

A detached sleeve beside what is left of the sweater.

Winding. Tennis was still on. The two tennis shots almost look the same but there was some time between them. It took me most of a day, off and on, to unravel and wind the yarn.

6 skeins. I only had to throw out a small portion of a sleeve cuff that became too tangled where ends had been woven in. I picked a pattern which is very different for me but you'll have to wait to see what I picked. I'm afraid if I say what I plan on knitting I'll change my mind.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Finally Editing

     It's that time again. The older kids are in school and I am left alone for most of the day with a toddler for company. The last few weeks of summer vacation I started to get the writing itch. But I didn't want to start something new, I wanted to edit. However, editing takes focus and time and three kids running around the house don't really help with that.

      So I fought the urge and got frustrated that the kids take so much of my time and energy. Then last week I realized I could start planning and get ready for when I would have more time for myself. I made notes of some editing ideas and decided to make a map and some sketches to help me.
I spent some time Thursday and Friday drawing a map of the town my novel takes place in. I then drew an outline of what my main character's house looked like on the inside, since I don't think the layout I have in my rough draft makes sense - especially the second floor.

     Once I was done, I cleared most of the stuff off my bulletin board and put them up. My desk got cleaned off last week as well and once again I have room for my computer and my notes and whatever else I might need. I bought some new pens that I love and I feel ready. Ready to tackle my novel and edit it and make it something I could be really proud of. I know I will have many moments over the next few months that I'll want to throw in the towel and forget that I ever wanted to be a writer but when that happens I want to remember what I feel like today. The desire to write and to share my work.

     I know I don't talk about my writing much on the blog and there's the possibility that might change but not until next year. I have continued my Little Poem Project everyday this year but I have not been sharing it here. I've been brainstorming ideas for what I might want to focus on next year that I can share here on the blog. But for now I'm happy that I've spent time editing or making notes about my novel 5 of the last 6 days.

Drawing of main characters house. 

Sketch of the town. This has been really helpful.

Up on the bulletin board for easy reference while I edit. I've been adding to the map as the characters explore more of the town in the novel.

And here is how I've been editing. I make notes/ edits on my printed out rough draft and then make the changes on the computer. The post-its contain big changes  - full sentences or even a paragraph that I want to add. Each is numbered so I know where in the story it goes. I'm doing a chapter at a time. I might also be watching the U.S. Open.

Only problem with working on the couch. Floyd tries to help.

But at least he gives me kisses.

Making room for editing and Floyd. He's also on my lap while I write this blog post. I guess my lap is more comfortable than a couch for watching tv.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WIP's - Yarn edition

On Monday's post, I showed a picture of my list of WIP's. Since finishing my August Camp Loopy project, I've been really good at not starting anything new - although I've pulled both yarn and fabric aside for new projects. Here are the four yarn WIP's I'm focusing on first.

The Earth shawl. This was a mystery KAL but I didn't start knitting it until after it was completed. The designer has even done another mystery shawl since this KAL ended so I am very behind. It's hard to see much progress since there are so many stitches on the needles but you'll have to take my word for it. Since the last time I posted a picture I have finished section 2 and done almost 30 rows of section 3. There is still a lot left. Over 50 rows still in section 3 and then a border worked sideways. Good thing I am enjoying it.

Low Tide cardigan. Started as part of the Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL  in May, it got set aside for Camp Loopy projects and life. I really want to wear this so it is my go to knitting right now since it's just stockinette for another 3 inches. Unlike the cables in the Earth shawl, stockinette is easy to knit while all three kids are home and awake.  I last showed progress of it here.

Tardis afghan. This is a new WIP started last month. I really wanted to crochet and decided if I was going to start something new, it would have to be a gift.  I had to add some rows to the pattern to make things look right. There are several people who this could be gifted too since I have many family members that enjoy Dr. Who. Or maybe I'll have to make more than 1.

Castine Pi Shawl. Another WIP started last month that I couldn't resist. The green yarn is a lifeline I put in - a place to rip back to if I make a mistake to save me from starting over. It's hard to see how lovely the pattern is all scrunched up like this. Post blocking pictures are going to be amazing.

Here is the front side, you can see the green lifeline. If you look a little closer you will notice a big hole on each side. I tweaked the pattern a little and added armholes so it can be worn like a vest/cardigan instead of a shawl. I played with numbers a lot and am hoping it turns out. If not... I'll be ripping it back to the lifeline to try again.

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