Friday, June 30, 2017

Spinning Friday: June 30, 2017

I finished up the FatCatKnits BFL/silk (75/25) roving I had on the wheel this past week, in preparation for kicking off the Tour De Fleece tomorrow!


I spun each of the individual colorways (which were 2.5 oz each) and then plied them together.  I love the effect this created - a sort of stained-glass look.


Roving: 75/25 Blue-faced Leicester/silk roving from FatCatKnits Mixed Blessings Club, Autumn 2011.
Weight: Fingering weight/sock weight.
Yardage/Ounces: 547 yards/4.8 oz.

No immediate plans for this, but it'll go in the handspun stash bin until I'm ready for it.

On to TdF!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stitching Wednesday - June 28, 2017

At some point, I will finally be caught up on the bulk of my deadline knitting projects and can perhaps show y'all some of the knitting things, but until then..... I bring you Stitching Wednesday.

I've got a handful of projects on the go and I'm participating in the Ivory Needle Challenge, which is to work on 5 projects with some focus, dedicating 6 days each month to work on those.  So while I am doing that, I'm also spending a bit of time on some other projects that I'd like to get finished for various reasons.

First up, right now, my 6-day rotation (which will take me to the end of the month on June 30th) is working on Village of Hawk Run Hollow by Carriage House Samplings.  I've finished blocks 1 and 2 of the 12-block pattern, and I'm working on block 3.  I'm making some tweaks to the originally charted design, and adding in some family information from my mum's side of the family - my grandmother's family, many of whom still live in Centre County, Pennsylvania.


These blocks take a deceptively long amount of time.  The brickwork/stonework sections in this are amazingly time-consumptive, but I'm plugging along on it.  I've got the city hall building bricks and foundation left to finish, the flag, the birds in the upper left-hand corner, and then I have to go back through and stitch in the lettering in the sign.  I'm not 100% sure I will have this finished by the time Friday comes and it moves out of rotation, but I'm putting some time in on it every day.

I've also been working on a full-coverage piece: Star Weaver with artwork by Tom Cross and charted by Heaven and Earth Designs.  This is one of their "storykeeps", i.e. bookmark sized pieces, so it's relatively small (ish) for a HAED.  I finished page 1 up earlier in the month and since I'm focusing on finishing this one this year, I'm trying to put in an hour or so on it in the evenings when I can.


After slogging thru almost an entire page of mostly the same color, I'm finally on to some different colored blues and am going to try to get at least to the middle of this page by the end of July.  The entire design is 3 full pages and then 1 row of approximately 720 sts or so to finish it up.

Finally, I've been working on a Mill Hill kit, the Pike's Peak Santa a bit here and there.  I've just finished all the plain cross-stitch parts, so I've got beading left to finish up on this.


Planning to gift this to my DH as an Xmas gift this year, and I think I'll be able to get it finished up over the next month and have it ready to go when we get to the end of the year. 


Monday, June 26, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge

I'm still working on The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead this week (week 8's theme: a book written by a person of color).  An interesting premise for this one.  The author writes as if the underground railroad was an actual railroad.  I'm not entirely sure if I am finding this an intriguing metaphor, or something weird enough it's bothering me.  Anyway.  About halfway through this one and hoping to finish it this week before it's due back at the library.

I'm also going to be starting a re-read of Pride and Prejudice  as my week #23 book - a book from the BBC's "The Big Read".  I've got this as an audiobook from the library as I enjoy listening to this sort of writing, so I've got that to enjoy over the next 2 weeks as well.

I joined a new group on Goodreads, A Stitcher's Book Club.  It's a lovely small group of like-minded crafters, and they have bimonthly reading challenges, as well as some other larger challenges.  Not everything is stitching-related in terms of book topics, however, and in fact, I'm going to double-dip with P&P for their July read.  Several of the challenges in this club overlap with the 2017 challenge, so I can double-dip for those as well.  Check them out if you think it might be your sort of thing!

The 2017 List
1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel.
2. A book with at least 2 perspectives (multiple points of view): Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce.
3. A book you meant to read in 2016
4. A title that doesn't contain the letter "E":  Longbourn by Jo Baker.
5. A historical fiction
6. A book being released as a movie in 2017:  Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout. 
7. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title: The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht.
8. A book written by a person of color: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.
9. A book in the middle of your To Be Read list:
10. A dual-timeline novel: The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor.
11. A category from another challenge: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
12. A book based on a myth:  Summerlong by Peter Beagle.
13. A book recommended by one of your favorite authors
14. A book with a strong female character: The Ornatrix by Kate Howard.
15. A book written or set in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)
16. A mystery
17. A book with illustrations:  Prairie Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
18. A really long book (600+ pages)
19. A New York Times best-seller
20. A book that you've owned for a while but haven't gotten around to reading
21. A book that is a continuation of a book you've already read
22. A book by an author you haven't read before:  The Secrets of Wishtide, by Kate Saunders.
23. A book from the BBC "The Big Read" list (
link) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
24. A book written by at least two authors
25. A book about a famous historical figure: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg.
26. An adventure book
27. A book by one of your favorite authors
28. A non-fiction
29. A book published outside the 4 major publishing houses (Simon & Schuster; HarperCollins; Penguin Random House; Hachette Livre) - check all the editions
30. A book from Goodreads Top 100 YA Books (
link)
31. A book from a sub-genre of your favorite genre
32. A book with a long title (5+ words, excluding subtitle):  I Shall Be Near to You by Erin McCabe.
33. A magical realism novel: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
34. A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere
35. A book where one of the main characters is royalty
36. A Hugo Award winner or nominee (
link)
37. A book you choose randomly: A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell.
38. A novel inspired by a work of classic literature
39. An epistolary fiction
40. A book published in 2017
41. A book with an unreliable narrator: His Bloody Project by Graeme McRae Burnet.
42. A best book of the 21st century (so far)
43. A book with a chilling atmosphere (scary, unsettling, cold):  Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase.
44. A recommendation from "What Should I Read Next" (
link)
45. A book with a one-word title: Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
46. A time travel novel:  Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon.
47. A past suggestion that didn't win (
link)
48. A banned book
49. A book from someone else's bookshelf
50. A Penguin Modern Classic - any edition
51. A collection (e.g. essays, short stories, poetry, plays) : Beyond the Woods; Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran.
52. A book set in a fictional location

Friday, June 23, 2017

Playing Catchup

Seriously y'all.... my blog has been really sorely neglected this year except for book posts.  I'm going to try to remedy that the second half of the year, so I'm going to try to get back to my prior Mon/Wed/Fri posting schedule.

Today being Friday, how about a spinning-related post?

Tour de Fleece 2017 is almost upon us!  It starts July 1st this year and runs thru the 23rd.  I've participated in the Tour for the last 5 or so years, I think. It's one of the few things I look forward to in the summertime, since I am not a hot-weather person and we usually take vacations in the fall or winter months.  I'm hoping to get my wheel freed up this weekend so I'm ready to go for July 1st.

I have been slowly, ever so slowly working on spins from stash this year.  Right now, I've got a club fiber from Winter 2011 from FatCatKnits on the wheel.  It's a 75/25 BFL wool/silk blend.  There were 2 colorways (as Ginny normally did for her Mixed Blessings Clubs), with 2.5 oz of each.  The original roving is jewel tones - one warm and one cool colorway set.


I had waffled a bit about how I wanted to spin these.  I originally thought about spinning them individually and keeping the colors separate, but I decided to go ahead and spin up the singles and ply them together in a 2-ply.  So far, here's where I am:


It's coming out like a pretty stained glass colorway.  It might be just the thing to use with a dark purple or black solid colorway in a 2-color project when it's finished..... someday. 

As a carrot to help keep me motivated to get this done, I pulled a random braid from a bin this morning that'll be my first braid on the wheel for TdF.  I'm not setting any specific yardage or ounces to spin goal.  I'm just going to go for 30 minutes of spinning time a day and whatever I get finished, I get finished. 

First up: Pirate Jenny from Two If By Hand on superwash merino.  



I'm pretty sure I'm going to split this braid (which is dyed as a gradient) up and do striped yarn for socks.  At least that's the current plan as of today - stay tuned. 

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge: Week of June 19th, 2017



I finished The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg over the weekend.  I enjoyed this one about the life of the author, George Sand.  While I'm by no means an expert on Sand's life, it appeared that the author did a lot of research off primary source documents to develop her portrait of Sand and her contemporaries in the world of the French art circle - writers, actors, painters, musicians - and it felt like a "real" telling of Sand's life.  The last third of the book felt a little rushed to me.  I think I wanted more information on her relationship with Frederic Chopin.  Their relationship is mentioned in almost every historical reference I've seen on Sand, but it didn't seem to have that same weight in the book.   A nicely created world of early 19th century Paris as the backdrop for the story is a nice bonus. 

This week, I'm reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  This was a NY Times bestseller and an Oprah's reading list choice as well, so it comes with some high recommendations.  The basic plot line is a story about one woman's escape from slavery in Georgia, north towards what she thinks will be a better life.  I'm about 25% into the book, so I've got a ways to go.  The author has a deft usage of language and it's certainly a compelling story.  I'll wait to give a fuller summary once I've finished.  (Note:  I wouldn't recommend this for teens and younger - it's got a fair amount of intense violence and it's also fairly graphically described.)


The 2017 List
1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel.
2. A book with at least 2 perspectives (multiple points of view): Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce.
3. A book you meant to read in 2016
4. A title that doesn't contain the letter "E":  Longbourn by Jo Baker.
5. A historical fiction
6. A book being released as a movie in 2017:  Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout. 
7. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title: The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht.
8. A book written by a person of color: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.
9. A book in the middle of your To Be Read list:
10. A dual-timeline novel: The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor.
11. A category from another challenge: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
12. A book based on a myth:  Summerlong by Peter Beagle.
13. A book recommended by one of your favorite authors
14. A book with a strong female character: The Ornatrix by Kate Howard.
15. A book written or set in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)
16. A mystery
17. A book with illustrations:  Prairie Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
18. A really long book (600+ pages)
19. A New York Times best-seller
20. A book that you've owned for a while but haven't gotten around to reading
21. A book that is a continuation of a book you've already read
22. A book by an author you haven't read before:  The Secrets of Wishtide, by Kate Saunders.
23. A book from the BBC "The Big Read" list (
link)
24. A book written by at least two authors
25. A book about a famous historical figure: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg.
26. An adventure book
27. A book by one of your favorite authors
28. A non-fiction
29. A book published outside the 4 major publishing houses (Simon & Schuster; HarperCollins; Penguin Random House; Hachette Livre) - check all the editions
30. A book from Goodreads Top 100 YA Books (
link)
31. A book from a sub-genre of your favorite genre
32. A book with a long title (5+ words, excluding subtitle):  I Shall Be Near to You by Erin McCabe.
33. A magical realism novel: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
34. A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere
35. A book where one of the main characters is royalty
36. A Hugo Award winner or nominee (
link)
37. A book you choose randomly: A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell.
38. A novel inspired by a work of classic literature
39. An epistolary fiction
40. A book published in 2017
41. A book with an unreliable narrator: His Bloody Project by Graeme McRae Burnet.
42. A best book of the 21st century (so far)
43. A book with a chilling atmosphere (scary, unsettling, cold):  Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase.
44. A recommendation from "What Should I Read Next" (
link)
45. A book with a one-word title: Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
46. A time travel novel:  Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon.
47. A past suggestion that didn't win (
link)
48. A banned book
49. A book from someone else's bookshelf
50. A Penguin Modern Classic - any edition
51. A collection (e.g. essays, short stories, poetry, plays) : Beyond the Woods; Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran.
52. A book set in a fictional location

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge - June 6, 2017

I did quite a bit of reading this weekend and finished up:

The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel.   I read this for week #1's topic - a book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016.  This book covers the early years of the Chinese courtesan who would become the Empress Wu.  (There is a follow up book that follows her history after she is made empress, although I have not read that one so can't speak towards whether it furthers the tale or not.)  A good read - I liked that it really developed the subcharacters in the Emperor's court and the intrigues and political turmoil going on. I also was happy to find a historical fiction that wasn't European - there aren't as many of those, so it was a nice change to read something in that genre that was outside my usual knowledge base.  I'm always up for learning about different things.  I'd be curious to see if the characters held up into the sequel, as that doesn't always happen.  In fact, I may pick up the sequel for week 21, and see how it goes. Overall, a B+: Entertaining, interesting, easy read.

I then picked up Longbourn by Jo Baker for week 4: A title that doesn't contain the letter "E".  This book is a sort of upstairs/downstairs retelling of Pride and Prejudice.  The author has used all of the pivotal story points (like the ball at Netherfield, the elopement of Kitty and Wickham, etc.) but has written the tale from the perspective of the servants in the Bennet household.  Smart, well-written and researched, with a LOT of historic information hidden away in subtle corners, I really enjoyed this one.  The back story behind the housekeeper is worth the price of admission alone, but I also appreciated that the author expanded the story beyond just the house at Longbourn to cover some good historical tidbits about the Napoleonic Wars.  Definitely recommended for Jane Austen fans!

This week, I'm reading The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg.  I'm not too far into this, but it's a historical fiction piece about the life of George Sand, which I'm using for week #25.  More to come on that once I've finished it.


The 2017 List
1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016: The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel.
2. A book with at least 2 perspectives (multiple points of view): Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce.
3. A book you meant to read in 2016
4. A title that doesn't contain the letter "E":  Longbourn by Jo Baker.
5. A historical fiction
6. A book being released as a movie in 2017:  Olive Kitteredge by Elizabeth Strout. 
7. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title: The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht.
8. A book written by a person of color
9. A book in the middle of your To Be Read list:
10. A dual-timeline novel: The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor.
11. A category from another challenge: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
12. A book based on a myth:  Summerlong by Peter Beagle.
13. A book recommended by one of your favorite authors
14. A book with a strong female character: The Ornatrix by Kate Howard.
15. A book written or set in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)
16. A mystery
17. A book with illustrations:  Prairie Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
18. A really long book (600+ pages)
19. A New York Times best-seller
20. A book that you've owned for a while but haven't gotten around to reading
21. A book that is a continuation of a book you've already read
22. A book by an author you haven't read before:  The Secrets of Wishtide, by Kate Saunders.
23. A book from the BBC "The Big Read" list (
link)
24. A book written by at least two authors
25. A book about a famous historical figure: The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg.
26. An adventure book
27. A book by one of your favorite authors
28. A non-fiction
29. A book published outside the 4 major publishing houses (Simon & Schuster; HarperCollins; Penguin Random House; Hachette Livre) - check all the editions
30. A book from Goodreads Top 100 YA Books (
link)
31. A book from a sub-genre of your favorite genre
32. A book with a long title (5+ words, excluding subtitle):  I Shall Be Near to You by Erin McCabe.
33. A magical realism novel: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
34. A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere
35. A book where one of the main characters is royalty
36. A Hugo Award winner or nominee (
link)
37. A book you choose randomly: A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell.
38. A novel inspired by a work of classic literature
39. An epistolary fiction
40. A book published in 2017
41. A book with an unreliable narrator: His Bloody Project by Graeme McRae Burnet.
42. A best book of the 21st century (so far)
43. A book with a chilling atmosphere (scary, unsettling, cold):  Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase.
44. A recommendation from "What Should I Read Next" (
link)
45. A book with a one-word title: Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
46. A time travel novel:  Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon.
47. A past suggestion that didn't win (
link)
48. A banned book
49. A book from someone else's bookshelf
50. A Penguin Modern Classic - any edition
51. A collection (e.g. essays, short stories, poetry, plays) : Beyond the Woods; Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran.
52. A book set in a fictional location


WIPocalypse September Check-In

I think, thanks to randomly adding a day here and a day there in Arbitrary August, I wound up with a bunch of finishes for September. Octo...