Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What I Read in May

     I was able to read 6 novels this month. Nothing great. A lot of women's fiction/chick lit. And yes, there is a difference between the two genres. For me, Women's fiction means; written for women, main character(s) are women, not necessarily a happy ending (i.e. girl doesn't always get guy). Chick lit is; written for women, main characters are women and their love interests, and usually all end with a happy ending. You basically know how it's going to end when you start, but the fun is in how you get there. Sometimes. Both should be believable but chick lit is probably allowed to be less so.  I think all the books I read this month would make for great beach reads if you're looking for some.
     Anyway, here's what I read this month.

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen
      The first two books I read this month ended up having a lot in common. Both take place in England and deal with baby issues. In this novel, the main character are two best friends, Romily and Ben. Romily has always had a little crush on Ben, but Ben is married to Claire. Romily is a single mother but Ben and Claire have struggled to conceive. Romily volunteers to be a surrogate using her egg and Ben's sperm. I think every reader can imagine what comes next and everything kind of falls apart but all ends up how it should in the end. Plus there's a home birth. Unplanned, but I loved that it was in there without any complications for the birth mother or baby. (It's always nice to find a good birth story in a novel). I enjoyed this novel. Nice twists and turn. I think this is more Women's fiction than Chick lit due to the emotional drama. And the happy ending was just one of several ways the novel could have ended.

The Secrets We Keep by Stephanie Butland
      Another novel that takes place in England with an unexpected baby in the plot. I read this because I had it out from the library for months - it had a "New Spring 2015" sticker on the spine - and I wanted to return it. Novel centers around Elizabeth and Kate. Elizabeth's husband, a police officer named Mike, dies rescuing Kate from drowning in a pond. He drowns instead. It's a very good novel with a lot of twists and turns that I didn't expect. Highly recommend it. I'd tell you more but I'd rather you discover all the secrets yourself.


      Somehow, I ended the month by reading 4 books by the same author, Mary Kay Andrews. I read two this weekend. They are fast reads. All take place in the Georgia/ Carolinas area. I would consider them all Chick Lit novels. Definite beach reads. Each novel is around 400 pages (hardcover) and I have several more checked out or requested from the library. Little warning - all the books below contain swearing and sex, so read only if you are comfortable with that kind of stuff.

The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews
     I read this one first, because I requested it from the library. Not sure why I requested it. Perhaps I read a review or just from looking at the description on the library website. Novel centers around Riley, who always summers on Belle Isle in North Carolina. This year she arrives to a notice on the front door that her house is in foreclosure and her husband, who she is going to divorce, is missing. He turns up dead and plenty of people are suspects, including Riley. Riley spends most of the novel investigating her husband but then gets side-tracked with an old flame. My only complaint about the book is that the murder seems completely forgotten about for 50 pages while she is romanced and then quickly solved with about 15 pages left. She also has a 12 year old daughter who has been diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes within the past year. The author uses it as a plot device when necessary but I found that very frustrating. My nephew has juvenile diabetes and from what I've learned in the 8 years since his diagnosis, the way the disease is treated in the book is very unrealistic.  However, I enjoyed it enough to go to the library and check out a bunch more of her novels.

Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews
      Novel centers around Cara, a florist in Savannah. I don't think much description is needed for this book. A guy she meets at the first wedding mentioned in the book, ends up being the obvious love interest. There's drama, competition from a new florist in town and a runaway bride. But it all works out in the end, of course.

Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews
      Ellis, Dorie and Julia are lifelong friends that meet up for the month of August in Nags Head, North Carolina. Each has there own problems and secrets that come out as the novel progresses. They are joined by Maryn/Madison who has secrets of her own. Each lady gets a happy ending (some happier than others) by the time August is over. Predictable but enjoyable.

Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
      Annajane is all ready to leave her job and ex-husband, Mason, behind. She has a new job in a new city with a new fiancee. When Mason's wedding is stopped as his new bride is walking up the aisle, Mason and Annajane end up with a second chance. Lots of family secrets emerge giving the novel some good twists. Of course they end up back together, but how do they get there? You have to read to find out.

      May bookmark. I guess I read in bunches this month, but I'm coming to realize that is often how I read.  
Have you read anything good lately?

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Finished Shawl, a Couple WIP's and an Etsy Sale

     Lots to share today. I finished the Lokum shawl on Wednesday, blocked it yesterday and got up early today to take some pictures before my daughter went to school this morning. However, I didn't like any of the pictures she took so I ended up taking my own pictures (over 50 of them) to get some I liked. Of course, I cast on something new as soon as Lokum was done. I'm also making some progress on my Fogliame cardigan and one of my favourite Etsy shops is having a sale this month.  Let's get started.

     First up is the Lokum shawl. Pattern by Jen Lucas. Yarn is Misti Alpaca, hand painted sock yarn in the Treefrog colorway. Love the yarn and the pattern. So soft and full of texture. I didn't block the shawl aggressively width wise as I wanted to keep the texture but I did stretch it out, length wise, and got all the little picots on the edge to stick out. Glad I have blocking wires (thanks mom).

     Shawl blends into the grassy background. Good length. And it doesn't appear that "stripey" in real life. I'm also wearing my Low Tide cardigan.

Trying to get a nice picture outside.

Tried again inside.

     More pictures of the texture since I love it so much. And the lovely little picots too. Jen doesn't call them picots in the pattern but I don't know what else to call them. I was a little short on yarn and wasn't able to do the last 2 pattern repeats but I'm not complaining. My skein was 50 yards less than the recommended yarn so I was happy to get 54 of 56 repeats done.

More texture.

And more with the edge. I obviously can't recommend this pattern enough.

     I cast off Wednesday afternoon and grabbed the next Jen Lucas design in my queue, Any Way you want it.

      This is a bottom up shawl and started with casting on 400+ stitches. I did it on my first try with just a little tail left. That pretty much made my day. I also put stitch markers every 100 stitches to help me keep track.

     And my Fogliame cardigan looks like a weird Yoda. I finished the yoke, separated the sleeves from the body (where the blue yarn is) and picked up A LOT of stitches for the ribbing. Have about an inch of ribbing to do before I move onto the lace at the bottom.

The back.

     And finally, to the Etsy sale. I have loved Robayre for years. I often look at her store and think about what I want to buy. This month she is celebrating her shop's 10th anniversary with a 10% off sale. I finally bought something and loved all the little extras that came with it. I bought the leaf necklace but she included a couple buttons and the grass paper and envelope, too.  Go look at her shop and use the code ROBAYRE10YEARS for 10% off. Some of my favorites are this stationary set, this painting and this necklace.

     I've worn the necklace almost everyday since it arrived two weeks ago. (I'm also wearing my new Ani DiFranco t-shirt in the picture above too.) You can find Robin, of Robayre, at her blog, and on instagram. (Robin didn't ask me to write anything about her shop, or compensate me in any way. I just love her stuff and want to support her).

     And her little buttons have been added to my collection. I think I need to find a way to display them. Top buttons are from NaNoWriMo, Fresh Stitches and Mochimochi Land.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Weekend Knitting Progress

     It was a knitty kind of weekend. Last Thursday and Friday were long days helping at the book fair at my older son's school. This week, I have nothing. Other than yoga this evening, I have no other commitments outside the house. It feels nice after a crazy few weeks full of school functions. We've been invited to spend Memorial Day weekend with some friends and I'm still undecided whether we will go or not. It would be nice to sit on the beach and get away for a couple days, but I'm not sure if I'm up to being social for 3 days. We'll see how much I recharge this week. Ah, the life of an introvert.

Anyway, here is the knitting progress I made on the weekend.

     I added another 40 rows to my Lokum shawl. Hope you are able to tell that I've added to it since last week. I probably won't post another photo until it's done. I'm suppose to knit 10 more pattern repeats but I don't think I have enough yarn for that. 


     I also started a Fogliame cardigan for myself on Friday. I first cast on Thursday but it was clear it was going to be too big, so I frogged it and ended up going down 2 needle sizes. Still measuring a little big but the yarn seems to shrink a bit after washing. So far I've knit 45 of 75 rows for the yoke.  I'm considering this my Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL, knit. The deadline for the KAL is this Friday but completing your knit isn't necessary. Just sign up and participate. After frogging the shrug for my daughter and deciding against Bonny for the KAL, it's nice to have something on the needles that I love.

What did you work on this weekend?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WIP Wednesday - A Little Knitting

     It's been a slow crafty week here. The end of school means lots of activities and meetings. And paperwork for Floyd to start preschool in the fall has arrived and needs to get filled out - so much paperwork! I'm helping at one more event this week (the last book fair of the school year!) and then I should have some free time back. Until the kids are actually done school and home everyday and wanting to do stuff and go places. But I'll think about that next month.

     Here is my Lokum shawl. I'm being pretty faithful to this knit. I did cast on Bonny and then decided I didn't really feel like knitting a top in lace yarn and frogged it. Then I started casting on Viewfinder but gave myself a mental slap, knowing I don't need another WIP  and put the yarn away. Pattern repeats for the Lokum shawl is 4 rows so I sneak in a repeat when I need a break from the school craziness. The pattern calls for 54 little picots on the edge and I currently have 31. I don't think I'll get all 54 pattern repeats done before I run out of yarn. I'm very tempted to try and find another skein of this yarn (Misti Alpaca, hand painted sock yarn, Treefrog colourway).


Here's a slightly closer picture. This shawl has incredible texture.

I think an even closer picture is required. I'd love a sweater with this stitch pattern.

My Avonlea MKAL is coming along. I'm not quite done clue 1 and clue 2 has already come out.

     And after doing some editing today, I rewarded myself by winding 3 of the skeins for my Fogliame cardigan. I might have to cast on later. 

      And I also caked the worsted weight yarn I bought from Turtlepurl Yarns. Maybe I'll finally knit a Vispo cowl for myself. Or would that look too crazy in this yarn?

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's New in the Stash


     It's been a while since I posted some of the new yarn and fabric that have entered my stash. I had been doing really well not buying either but there have been a lot of Spring sales that I did a really bad job of resisting. And Camp Loopy starts next month so I had to order yarn for that too. It hasn't arrived yet so I'll show it off and the pattern I plan on knitting for June later this month.

     Last fall I joined the giftables club at The Loopy Ewe. I didn't post the yarn I received in September but I used it to make my daughter a pair of fingerless mitts for Christmas. Above is the yarn I received for the October kit.  Yarn is by Meadowcroft, Cross Creek Socks in the Polaris colourway. I plan on knitting the Hogmanay shawl by Jen Lucas with it. Guess I still need to take a picture of the yarn I received in November.

     Next up is the lovely Misti Alpaca skein gifted to me for Christmas by my mom from her LYS, Stix and Stones. Hand Paint sock yarn fingering, colorway Reggaeton. My mom gifted me a skein of a different colorway last May that I am finally using (progress photo on Wednesday) but I have no idea what to use this skein for. I am thinking of pairing it with a solid to make... I don't know what.

     Earlier this month, I caved and bought my first Turtlepurl Yarns. It's always nice to support a fellow Canadian. She had a sale and I bought the sock set in the Iris colorway. These will become a pair of socks to be gifted this Christmas.

     And I couldn't stop thinking about this skein of worsted weight yarn, also by Turtlepurl Yarns. I have no idea what it will become. It's much bright in reality and is 200 yards.  Colorway Nano and I got the last skein so I can't link to it. Any thoughts what I should knit with it? A hat? Cowl?

     And WEBS had a flash sale and I ended up buying the above Plymouth Yarn, Happy Feet in the Olive Colorway. I bought 8 to finally make myself a Fogliame.

     And somehow during the same sale, this incredibly bright skein of sock yarn hopped into my cart. Perhaps socks for my sister, or myself. Or something else.

A small amount of fabric has made it into the house as well this month.
      I've mentioned some of the fabrics I have found at a local thrift shop before. Sometimes I go and come home with nothing. Other times, my arms are full. This month I came home with a nice stack. Above are 2 solids. I left the tags with them so I remember how much yardage there is. Both pictured above are over a yard.

      There is more than 5 1/2 yards of each of these. Going to make great quilt backs for at least 2 quilts. Bought for roughly $13. Not bad.

     And some flannel. I want to try and make some pajama pants and shorts for myself and my daughter. And maybe the boys too. The blue on the right from The Loopy Ewe, is just under 3 yards and bought with store credit. The two with tags are from the thrift shop and are about 1 1/2 yards each. Of course I came home from the thrift shop and discovered that I need to buy elastic.

What have you added to your stash lately?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WIP Wednesday

     Another late post today. I had 2 meetings and just regular everyday stuff that has kept me from writing this WIP post. I really should call it a frogging post because I have quit 3 different knitted WIP's this week. I'm trying to look at it as adding to my stash. Although it doesn't really need any yarn back.
     First to go was Deryn. It was Jen's MKAL last November. I loved the pattern but as the shawl got bigger I had trouble seeing a shawl in this colour around my neck. It just looked too bright. I'm thinking of making a second Vertex with it since my first one had so many problems. 

      I've done 2 pattern repeats of the Orchid cowl. I had to go down 3 needle sizes to get the correct gauge but it made the row gauge way off and my little "leaves" so tiny. I don't like it. Frogged it.

      And this was the beginning of the shrug for my daughter's birthday but after knitting several inches I didn't like the drape of the fabric. Good-bye. 

       To make up for it, I started 2 projects today. First is one of Jen's latest patterns, Lokum. This skein is about 50 yards less than the suggested amount but I'll just knit until I run out of yarn.

      And this Anne of Green Gables themed MKAL started today. Couldn't resist. I think this is my first time knitting with lace weight. This is 8 rows in so I don't think I'm ruining the mystery for anyone with this picture. I'm on row 25 of 42 now so I'm almost done the first clue.

      One WIP made some good progress this week. I like to wear anklet socks in the summer around the house. I'm using up some scraps to make myself some. Here's the first one done. Time to cast on the mate.

And here is the birthday boy sleeping under his new quilt on Monday. Hard to believe he is 3 already.

Monday, May 9, 2016

A Weekend of Crafty Finishes

     I kept myself very busy this weekend and finished several projects. Of course I may have started some new ones, but those can wait until WIP Wednesday. 

     Saturday night I was able to finish this pair of socks for myself. Washed them yesterday and am wearing them today. Comfy and soft. Yarn is Kroy sock yarn bought at Michael's. I used a whole skein for each sock, plus some leftovers when I ran out for the toes.

Falling in love with gussets again.

Here's the other one.

     Friday, I finished quilting the quilt for my son's birthday. I wasn't sure if I was going to do more quilting or not so I left the pins in while I laid it out on our bed and decided. I came back several times during the day and decided it was done. Took the pins out, sewed the binding together, trimmed the quilt and put the binding on yesterday.

     Here is the finished quilt. He wasn't overly impressed when he opened it this morning - he turned 3. But it makes me happy that every bed in the house now has a quilt by me on it. He'll appreciate it someday. I used Cluck Cluck Sew's Stack n' Whack tutorial for the blocks.

     Binding was leftover strips from the solids used in the quilt. Had less than a strip left when I was done.

Backing fabric.

Had enough of the backing fabric to make a pillowcase.

Had to use this car print on the other side. This he definitely likes.

     And one last finish for the weekend. Once I was done the quilt, I wanted to sew something else. I took out all the 1.5 inch scrap strips I had cut, sewed them together and finished crocheting this basket. Ended up bigger than I thought it would.

    Inside look. It's 5 inches deep and the opening is 8 inches across. I used double crochets for the whole thing with a row of slip stitches for the edge. I used Crazy Mom Quilts tutorial for a crocheted mat.

Not sure what I'm going to keep in it yet but it holds a lot of yarn leftovers.

What did you do this weekend? Hope all those that celebrate Mother's Day had fun yesterday.

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