Monday, February 29, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Weeks 8 and 9

While I was on the road and this past weekend, I finished up a few books from the list.

I took Adeline by Norah Vincent with me on the road to cover week #34 - A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name.  This was a slow read for me.  I think I would recommend it - to a small pool.  If you don't immediately know who Lytton Strachey is, you will probably be lost throughout a lot of the book. (I could see my mum, who is an English major and ex-English Lit teacher liking it).  At any rate, this is a fictional retelling of Virginia Woolf's last hours, although the book jumps forward and backward to points in her life that are (the author feels) formative.  I think the author was attempting to write the book in a voice similar to that of Woolf's, with some stream of consciousness type writing, but on the other hand...Woolf suffered from some form of mental illness, so there are parts of the internal dialogue that are just plain confusing and rambling and hard to figure out what's going on.  A list of the prominent writers and intellectual minds of the early 20th century are liberally scattered throughout - Woolf and her husband ran in artistic circles and he was part of the Bloomsbury Group, but if you don't know much about TS Eliot or Yeats, or Strachey, it's hard to have much of a reference. I think it's also difficult to have but so much suspense when writing about an actual living person - Woolf killed herself by walking into the river Ouse and drowning - so you kind of know from the outside how the book is going to end, right? Anyway..... an esoteric but interesting read.  If it sounds like something you'd love, give it a shot.  If you are scratching your head about why one would read this, I'd recommend picking something else.  (FWIW, there was a LOT of information about bipolar disorder and depression in here....)

I also started and finished Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose.  I originally picked up this book thinking it was a contemporary piece, but it's not.  Written by Stegner in the early 1970s, there's some peace, love and rock-n-roll references going on in it.  The copy I picked up (Penguin Classic) had almost 35 pages of analysis by a literary critic at the front end - I find that sort of annoying.  I like to approach a book and decide for myself what the succinct points of it are, and not have that outlined for me in a Cliff Notes version.  Anyway, the book is centered around a retired (and now disabled/confined to a wheelchair) historian who is researching his grandparents lives.  His grandfather was an explorer at heart, an engineer who worked on irrigation and mining projects in the west in the late 19th century.  His grandmother was a Quaker, an artist from New England, who ran with the artistic set in the Northeast US.  The story covers 4 generations of this family - although it focuses mostly on his grandparents.  I liked this book more than I expected to.  I think in part because: A) I read Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence earlier this year and the grandmother in the book is definitely from that group and B) There are a lot of places in the book that are places I've been to - Leadville, Colorado, and Boise, Idaho, for instance - and it was fun for me to layer the 1870s or 1890s view of life in the "Wild West" over what I know today.  Then, as now, irrigation and water is a HUGE deal.  A good book, I thought.  Contemplative, interesting, good back story.

I've now started Margaret Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg for week #17 (a book with a beautiful cover). It's a collection of short stories, some autobiographical, some not - a VERY mixed bag so far.

The 2016 List
1. A book you meant to read in 2015, but didn't
2. A book set in a different continent
3. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 (winner or nominated)
4. A book by an author you discovered in 2015
5. A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name:  Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose - DONE.
6. The highest rated on your TBR
7. A book about books
8. A classic book with less than 200 pages:  Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence - DONE
9. A book that was mentioned in another book
10. A book by an author you feel you should have read by now
11. A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge
12. A childhood classic
13. Reader’s Choice:  Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell - DONE.
14. A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How) What She Left - T.R. Richmond - DONE.
15. A book set in the past (more than 100 years ago)
16. A book from the top 100 mystery novels
17. A book with a beautiful cover: Bluebeard's Egg by Margaret Atwood
18. A book on a summer/beach reading list
19. A non-fiction book
20. A book with a first name in the title
21. A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page
22. The first book in a new to you series
23. The next book in a series you are reading
24. A "between the numbers" book of a series (0.5, 1,5, 2.5, etc.)
25. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
26. A book everyone is talking about
27. A book with a beautiful title (in your own opinion)
28. A biography, autobiography, or memoir
29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name:  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) - DONE.
30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
31. A work of young adult fiction:  The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge. DONE.
32. A historical fiction book
33. The 16th book on your TBR
34. A book about mental illness: Adeline by Norah Vincent - DONE
35. An award winning book
36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
37. A book that you've seen the movie of but haven't read
38. A book about an anti hero:  Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace - DONE.
39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list
40. A novella from your favorite genre
41. A book about a major world event (fiction or non-fiction)
42. A top 100 fantasy novel
43. A book about a thing that goes bump in the night
44. A book you're embarrassed to read in public
45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have
46. A crime story:  The Cutting Season by Attica Locke - DONE.
47. A book with a type of food/drink in the title
48. A dystopia
49. A book with a great opening line
50. A book originally written in a language other than English:  Tove Jansson's The Summer Book - DONE.
51. A short story from a well-known author
52. A book published in 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WIP Wednesday: February 17, 2016

For all the details, please see the podcast, episode 5, which is now live:



Otherwise, for the drive-by version:

Sekret Knitting:
The only deadline project I'm working on right now is the final sweater due March 8th.  I'm about 2/3rds of the way up the body to where I need to cast off for the underarms and then shape the rest of the garment top.  I've got sleeve 1 started, and I'll get that and the body finished up for sure this week, and hopefully get sleeve 2 cast on (and done if possible), which will just leave the front bands/collar and finishing to do when I get home!

Personal Knitting:  The only things on the needles right now are self-striping sock yarn samples.  I'm cutting myself off from any other personal projects for a bit while I finish my deadline knitting with the carrot that I get to start a new handspun shawl project if I can free up those needles.

Monday, February 15, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Week Seven


I finished up the week #31: A YA fiction book - The Iron Thorn.  I liked this one a lot more than I expected to based on the first 4 or so chapters.  It kind of came into its own as the author gathered steam.  It has a strong female heroine in it, and I really enjoy anything with elves in it, so there was that too.  A bit of steampunk, a bit of mystery in the mists, and some great supporting characters.  I will likely read the others in this trilogy when I need some escapism fiction.  A fun, quick read.

This week I also read week #46, a crime story, with the novel The Cutting Season.  This is a murder mystery set on a Louisiana plantation in current day, but there is also a historical murder mystery underlying the contemporary one.  This was... okay.  I wished there were a little bit more going on with the historical murder mystery portion of it.  There were a few loose ends that the author just kind of dropped and tidied up quickly at the end that I wished had been given a little more time, but it was an entertaining read - something that would be great to take on the plane or at the beach; enjoyable.

I'm deciding on books today to take with me for my road trip to California - I'll not have a reading challenge post next Monday as I'll be starting the drive home, but I'll catch up for weeks 8 and 9 on the 29th, when I'm back.


The 2016 List
1. A book you meant to read in 2015, but didn't
2. A book set in a different continent
3. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 (winner or nominated)
4. A book by an author you discovered in 2015
5. A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name
6. The highest rated on your TBR
7. A book about books
8. A classic book with less than 200 pages:  Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence - DONE
9. A book that was mentioned in another book
10. A book by an author you feel you should have read by now
11. A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge
12. A childhood classic
13. Reader’s Choice:  Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell - DONE.
14. A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How) What She Left - T.R. Richmond - DONE.
15. A book set in the past (more than 100 years ago)
16. A book from the top 100 mystery novels
17. A book with a beautiful cover
18. A book on a summer/beach reading list
19. A non-fiction book
20. A book with a first name in the title
21. A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page
22. The first book in a new to you series
23. The next book in a series you are reading
24. A "between the numbers" book of a series (0.5, 1,5, 2.5, etc.)
25. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
26. A book everyone is talking about
27. A book with a beautiful title (in your own opinion)
28. A biography, autobiography, or memoir
29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name:  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) - DONE.
30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
31. A work of young adult fiction:  The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge. DONE.
32. A historical fiction book
33. The 16th book on your TBR
34. A book about mental illness
35. An award winning book
36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
37. A book that you've seen the movie of but haven't read
38. A book about an anti hero:  Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace - DONE.
39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list
40. A novella from your favorite genre
41. A book about a major world event (fiction or non-fiction)
42. A top 100 fantasy novel
43. A book about a thing that goes bump in the night
44. A book you're embarrassed to read in public
45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have
46. A crime story:  The Cutting Season by Attica Locke - DONE.
47. A book with a type of food/drink in the title
48. A dystopia
49. A book with a great opening line
50. A book originally written in a language other than English:  Tove Jansson's The Summer Book - DONE.
51. A short story from a well-known author
52. A book published in 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WIP Wednesday: February 10, 2016

Sekret Knitting:

  • I finished up the second Heroines Club shawl and blocked it.  I even shot photos for it yesterday and my tester is finishing up her version. 
  • I'm halfway up sleeve #1 of the current sweater project, and I've cast on for the body.  I had some detail at the bottom hem I needed to fuss with regarding numbers, but that was less painful than I thought it might be (easy in fact), and so I am now cruising along on the body.  This is my focus project for the next couple of weeks. 
Personal Knitting:
  • I finished my Dewberry cowl and love it!  It's soft and drapey, and was a quick fun project that used up some handspun.  What's not to love?  My version used a sportweight yarn - the pattern was written for Aran, so it's a bit smaller than the original.  I'm actually thinking I might knit it again in a heavier yarn just because.

  • With Dewberry off the needles, I cast on a Quaker Yarn Stretcher with my recently spun Mirro Lake colorway BFL from Three Waters Farm.  I'm a bit farther along since this picture was taken - I knit on this during the Superbowl this weekend, and it's a quick and easy knit as well, so I made a lot of progress on it. 

At the rate I'm going, I'll probably have this finished up this weekend as well, and I've selected a more complex pattern to knit up with a gradient skein of handspun for my next on-the-needles project. 

  • I have finished up the March self-striping socks colorway - those will preview on the podcast on Monday.


Monday, February 8, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Week Six

This week, I finished The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) for topic week #29 - an author who writes under more than one name.  This is a complete departure from Harry Potter.  It's most definitely not young adult type fiction - this falls firmly in adult mystery/thriller writing, but a bang-up job in this genre as well.  I could not put this one down.  The characters are well-rounded (but not necessarily loveable or engaging), and the plot was multi-faceted and layered.  The main character, Cormoran Strike, is the love child of a 1960s musician and a groupie, who is just back from a tour to Afghanistan as an MP, and is now back in civilian life with bad nightmares and a prosthetic leg.  He's in the midst of a nasty break-up and living in ths back room of his office.  He's hired by the brother of a famous model who is found dead in the street in front of her posh apartment to investigate - was it suicide or murder or an accident?   If you like this genre of book, I'm wagering you'll really like this one.  (And it's the first of a series - Galbraith/Rowling's got more in store for this character apparently!)

I started topic week #31: A YA fiction book - The Iron Thorn.  I've had this on the radar for a while - it's a fantasy/steampunk themed book.  Again, I am apparently clueless about what would constitute an appropriate "young adult" theme for a book - since, like many I've read in the last year, there is a gloom and doom plague-oriented theme running throughout.  I almost put this one down because of it, but I have plowed on and it appears to be less of a plot issue in this one than in some others I've read and I'm hoping that trend continues.  I'm just under halfway through this (it's a fairly quick read), so I'm sure I'll have this one finished up before I hit the road for Stitches West.

I'm going to try to sneak in a Monday Reading Challenge blog post next Monday before I take off on Tuesday, but then will have a missing week when I'm still on the road where I'll have to double up weeks Seven and Eight when I'm back. OTOH, I'm planning on selecting a book (maybe 2) to listen to while I drive a gazillion miles to California, so I may jump ahead a bit because of it.


The 2016 List
1. A book you meant to read in 2015, but didn't
2. A book set in a different continent
3. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 (winner or nominated)
4. A book by an author you discovered in 2015
5. A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name
6. The highest rated on your TBR
7. A book about books
8. A classic book with less than 200 pages:  Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence - DONE
9. A book that was mentioned in another book
10. A book by an author you feel you should have read by now
11. A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge
12. A childhood classic
13. Reader’s Choice:  Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell - DONE.
14. A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How) What She Left - T.R. Richmond - DONE.
15. A book set in the past (more than 100 years ago)
16. A book from the top 100 mystery novels
17. A book with a beautiful cover
18. A book on a summer/beach reading list
19. A non-fiction book
20. A book with a first name in the title
21. A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page
22. The first book in a new to you series
23. The next book in a series you are reading
24. A "between the numbers" book of a series (0.5, 1,5, 2.5, etc.)
25. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
26. A book everyone is talking about
27. A book with a beautiful title (in your own opinion)
28. A biography, autobiography, or memoir
29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name:  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) - DONE.
30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
31. A work of young adult fiction:  The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge.
32. A historical fiction book
33. The 16th book on your TBR
34. A book about mental illness
35. An award winning book
36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
37. A book that you've seen the movie of but haven't read
38. A book about an anti hero:  Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace - DONE.
39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list
40. A novella from your favorite genre
41. A book about a major world event (fiction or non-fiction)
42. A top 100 fantasy novel
43. A book about a thing that goes bump in the night
44. A book you're embarrassed to read in public
45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have
46. A crime story
47. A book with a type of food/drink in the title
48. A dystopia
49. A book with a great opening line
50. A book originally written in a language other than English:  Tove Jansson's The Summer Book - DONE.
51. A short story from a well-known author
52. A book published in 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

Spinning Friday: February 5, 2016

I've got 2 finished spins to share with you today!

First up is the December FatCatKnits club fiber, which was a swirl merino (dark and light merino blended together) in the Scarlett and Rhett colorways, the final installment in the Famous Couples Club offering this go-round.

The original roving consisted of two 2.5 oz braids.  The bright one is Scarlett (lots of red, royal blue, emerald green and purple) and the more muted one is Rhett (charcoal, black and a gray-blue).


I spun each of the colorways up into singles and then plied them together to yield a fingering-weight 2-ply with 530 yards/5 oz of yarn.


While I haven't decided for sure the grand plan for this yarn, I do have enough yardage for a decently sized shawl, and I'm eyeing Romi Hill's Artesian as a possibility.  This one will marinate a while while I decide on a final project to try with it.

I also spun up 4 oz of BFL from Three Waters Farm as part of the CTA first-quarter SAL in the CTA Ravelry group.  The colorways Mary Ann dyed up were inspired by 1930s artwork and this colorway is Mirror Lake.  The original braid looked like:



I decided at the front end I wanted to use this colorway for an asymmetrical triangular shawl, something like the Quaker Yarn Stretcher or the like.  When I unbraided the roving, I found I had 3 basically equal sets of color runs so I pulled the braid apart into thirds.  Then I split one of the thirds in half and spun each half into singles, followed by the other third so that I had a shorter run of the colors and a longer run of the colors repeated twice over the length of the singles.  I then plied the 2 plies together to produce a 285 yard/4 oz skein of sportweight. 


The theory is that since this type of shawl starts with shorter rows and increases to longer ones the color blocks will stay more proportionately the same over the course of the increasing/shaping of the shawl.  We'll see if this actually works out in the final project when I get there!

Currently on the wheel, I'm spinning an 8 oz combo spin of some of my oldest fibers - two braids of BFL from FatCatKnits that I'm spinning a ply of each and then will ply these together.  I've gotten the first 4 oz of singles spun so far, and will update progress next week!



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

WIP Wednesday: February 3. 2016

For those of you following along on the antics via the Podcast, Episode 4 is now live!



For those of you here for just a quick drive-by update, here ya go!

Sekret Knitting:

  • Sweater #2 of 3 is finished!  Sample is knit, blocked, buttons are on and it's ready for photography.  The draft is off in the capable hands of my TE for review as we speak.
  • So I'm working on sweater 3 of 3.  Just started the first sleeve and I'll be working on the sleeves this week while I am finishing up the last bit of...
  • The second Heroines Club Shawl pattern.  I'm in the final repeat of the biggest lace pattern, so hoping to have that off the needles by the end of the weekend and blocked!
Personal Knitting:
  • I finished my Hogmanay Shawl.  If you are interested, you can find all the details on my Ravelry project page here.  A very successful project - I love how the pattern worked up in handspun.  I was able to use just about every yard of the skein too - win/win! 



  • Having that off the needles, I cast on my next handspun project - the Dewberry Cowl by Hilary Smith Callis.   This one I'm knitting up in a handspun gradient in the Iceberg colorway that I spun up on Falkland from the shop.  Currently, I'm through the first 2 pattern sections and about to start section 3. 

  • And finally, I'm still cranking thru samples of self-striping sock colorways.  I have a half-dozen of single socks right now, since I'm trying to keep ahead of new colorway releases, but this summer when things are a bit quieter (or sometime soon!) I need to get mates knit up.  Drives me crazy to have half-pairs of socks finished.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge: Week Five

This week, I read Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell.  This is a fairly highly fictionalized account of the English soprano, Anna Storace.  Born in England and trained by a famous castrato to perform, Anna eventually winds up at the Austrian court, where her gorgeous voice and pretty looks earned her a paying position as the "lead soprano" for the Emperor's court.  A lot of the details of her life aren't known.  The author postulates that she was engaged in an affair with Mozart, and while she certainly knew the composer and sang things he wrote, there isn't a lot of historical basis for this theory - although it makes for a good story.

I did enjoy this book, although I think it could have used a bit more editing, and it would have been really nice to have a bit more of the historical information the author used to create the plot line. (I wound up hitting Google and Wikipedia since I didn't know very much about the central character.)   Enjoyable and easy read after last week - just what I needed.

This week, I'm starting The Cuckoo's Calling, written by JK Rowling (of Harry Potter fame) under the pseudonym  Robert Galbraith.  I just started this one last night and it's so far a great read.  Well written and engaging, with characters who are flawed and not in a stereotypical detective story sort of way.  I'm looking forward to this one.

The 2016 List
1. A book you meant to read in 2015, but didn't
2. A book set in a different continent
3. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015 (winner or nominated)
4. A book by an author you discovered in 2015
5. A book with a title beginning with the 1st letter of your name
6. The highest rated on your TBR
7. A book about books
8. A classic book with less than 200 pages:  Edith Wharton's Age of Innocence - DONE
9. A book that was mentioned in another book
10. A book by an author you feel you should have read by now
11. A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge
12. A childhood classic
13. Reader’s Choice:  Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell - DONE.
14. A book with one of the five W’s -or H in the title (Who/What/Where/When/Why/How) What She Left - T.R. Richmond - DONE.
15. A book set in the past (more than 100 years ago)
16. A book from the top 100 mystery novels
17. A book with a beautiful cover
18. A book on a summer/beach reading list
19. A non-fiction book
20. A book with a first name in the title
21. A book from the Goodreads Recommendations page
22. The first book in a new to you series
23. The next book in a series you are reading
24. A "between the numbers" book of a series (0.5, 1,5, 2.5, etc.)
25. A book whose main character is in a profession that interests you
26. A book everyone is talking about
27. A book with a beautiful title (in your own opinion)
28. A biography, autobiography, or memoir
29. A book by an author who writes under more than one name:  The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling).
30. A fairytale from a culture other than your own
31. A work of young adult fiction
32. A historical fiction book
33. The 16th book on your TBR
34. A book about mental illness
35. An award winning book
36. An identity book - a book about a different culture, religion or sexual orientation
37. A book that you've seen the movie of but haven't read
38. A book about an anti hero:  Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace - DONE.
39. A previous suggestion that did not make it into the list
40. A novella from your favorite genre
41. A book about a major world event (fiction or non-fiction)
42. A top 100 fantasy novel
43. A book about a thing that goes bump in the night
44. A book you're embarrassed to read in public
45. A book related to a hobby or passion you have
46. A crime story
47. A book with a type of food/drink in the title
48. A dystopia
49. A book with a great opening line
50. A book originally written in a language other than English:  Tove Jansson's The Summer Book - DONE.
51. A short story from a well-known author
52. A book published in 2016

Stitching Update: January 16, 2018

I rotated back to my Winter's Encounter project for the past 5 days and made some good progress on it. I managed to finish all of p...