Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Last Books You Have Read

Long ago I signed up for the Ten on Tuesday emails. Sometimes the topics are interesting, sometimes they don't appeal to me, but either way I never get around to writing a Ten on Tuesday post. Remember yesterday, I said blogging sounds great in the abstract? I often think of great topics to write about, but then never get around to it? Yeah, the 10 on Tuesday topics tend to fall into that category. The post gets written, but only in my head. Not this week. For one day anyway, I'm going to keep my resolution to participate more in online communities.

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is the last 10 books you've read. I read a lot and track what I read (and want to read) on Goodreads. Two of my favorite Ravelry groups are book related, Audiobook Knitters and 52 Books in 52 Weeks (a lot of us read way more than 52 books a year, some way less, it's just a personal challenge). Both groups are fantastic for recommendations, although be warned, your to-read list will grow exponentially, to match that SABLE yarn stash (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy). The good thing is that with audiobooks, you can knit and read at the same time.

The last 10 books I've read:

1) California by Edan Lepucki - audiobook (Audible), 2 stars

I got this free from the Goodreads Ford Audiobook Club. Sponsored by the auto manufacturer, this group offered a few free audiobooks last year but seems to have gone dormant. I really didn't enjoy this book. It's set in a near-future semi-dystopia. No zombies or pandemic, just a continuation of current negative trends (crazy weather, extreme income inequality, political dysfunction). I normally like dystopian novels, but the characters have to be well-written and these weren't. A lot of the drama was manufactured because characters didn't talk to each other. I didn't much care for the narrator, Emma Galvin. Her voice sounds whiny to me, making me dislike the main character. She also narrated the Divergent series, and I thought Tris was whiny too. Maybe I would have liked California better on paper.

2) 14 by Peter Clines -audiobook (on CD from my library), 4 stars

A classic-style mystery/horror story. Nate moves into a new apartment in a strange building. As he and his fellow tenants investigate, things get continually weirder and scarier. A really enjoyable listen.

3) Kiss of Steel by Bec Mcmaster - audiobook (Audible), 3 stars

A good paranormal/adventure/romance/steampunk novel. Set in an alternate London, sort of Victorian Era, with vampire-like creatures. I enjoyed the story and cared what happened to the characters, although it is pretty much fluff. The narrator was good, but I think I would have liked it better on paper. Be forewarned: there's explicit sex. A lot of it. That goes on. And on. And on. I don't think I'm a prude and I don't object to sex scenes that fit well into the plot. But here I just wanted to get back to the story. In paper I would have skimmed ahead through some of it, not so easy to skim in audio form.

4) Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire - paperback (library), 4 stars

Third in the Incryptid series. Set in the modern world, except all sorts of cryptid creatures are real. The series follows the adventures of the Prices, a family of cryptozoologists. Lots of fun. Escapist, light-hearted fluff, but really well-done escapist, light-hearted fluff. I want my own Aeslin mice.

5) Roseanna by 

First in the classic Martin Beck series about a police inspector in Stockholm, Sweden. I didn't really enjoy this book, but I think that was largely due to the poor narration of the audiobook. The story itself is okay, although the writing, attitudes and style are a bit dated. It was written in the early 1960s. I think it's in that in-between territory, too recent to read as a period classic, but too long ago to read as modern.

6) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - audiobook (SYNC), 4 stars

I got this book from SYNCa great YA program that gives away two complete audiobook downloads each week during the summer - a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title. This year starts May 7. The books are each only available for a week, so grab them while they're there. Code Name Verity is a fantastic WWII spy story, very well narrated. I'm very much looking forward to the second in this series, which is one of this summer's SYNC books.

7) Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen - hardcover (library), 4 stars

Eighth in the Her Royal Spyness series. Fun spy/mysteries set in the 1930s. Silly, light-hearted, often laugh-out-loud funny.

8) Hush by Laura Lippman - audiobook (Overdrive), 3 stars

Twelfth in the Tess Monaghan series about a Baltimore PI. I used to really love this series, but the last couple entries haven't been as good as the early ones. In this one, Tess is juggling being a detective with raising her toddler. I think the author may have recently had a child in real life, because the story often gets side-tracked by motherhood. If you have a toddler, you may enjoy this. If you're looking for a good mystery, not so much.

9) The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - audiobook (on CD from my library), 3 stars

The story of an Australian survivor of a WWII Japanese POW camp in the jungles of Thailand. The book jumps around in time and it took me quite a while to get involved or care about the characters. Parts of the book are really good, parts aren't. Parts come across as a bit sexist or misogynistic - not badly so, but definitely a male viewpoint book. And be forewarned, there's graphic violence and torture. The conditions in the POW camp are atrocious and described in great detail. I might have liked this better on paper where I could more easily have skimmed past the goriest parts.

10) Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood - audiobook (on CD from my library), 4 stars

First in the Phryne Fisher mystery series about a woman PI in 1920s Melbourne, Australia. There's a tv show based on this series with fantastic fashions. I've watched the first season and a bit of the second and would recommend it. This was my first venture into the novels. I enjoyed it, nothing fantastic, but a pleasant listen while doing household chores. Didn't leave me desperate for the next installment, but I expect I'll read it sooner or later.

That's the 10 last books I've read. What are you reading? And don't forget to check out what everyone else is reading in the links from Carole's blog,

Monday, April 6, 2015

Love Your Blog Challenge: Interactions and Community

A Playful Day

Kate of A Playful Day (AKA GreenTriangleGirl on Ravelry) has issued a "love your blog" challenge for the month of April. Every week she's going to post a prompt for us all to blog about, with the goal of making us fall back in love with our blogs. Or, for me, maybe the goal should be falling in love with my blog in the first place, since I'm afraid I've never really shown this blog much love.

Blogging in the abstract always sounds like a fantastic idea. Throughout the day I think of great topics to blog about, lots of things I want to say, pictures I want to post. But I rarely get around to actually blogging. I've committed to the Love Your Blog Challenge to try to change that.

The prompt for this week is Interactions and Community. I've been thinking about this for the last few days, trying to decide how I interact both on and off line. In real life I'm a bit of an introvert. That seems to translate to being a bit of a lurker online. I follow quite a few blogs and read quite a few Ravelry forums, but I don't comment a lot. I think part of that is my natural introvert tendencies, and part is my inner critic/perfectionist thinking no one would be interested in what I have to say. Outside of Ravelry, I've never really gotten into any social media, although I do have twitter and pinterest accounts.

In thinking about my real life interactions and community, I realized I enjoy socializing with a few people or attending small group events like knit night. I'm also comfortable speaking to large groups. But I loathe the in-between size, especially casual mixing with people I don't know well, like during meeting breaks or at parties. I feel awkward trying to join a conversation and have no idea what to say. I fail at small talk. And it seems a lot of social media are the online equivalent of small talk. I know on twitter I always feel like I've walked into the middle of a conversation and I have no idea how to join in without feeling like I've barged in.

So, any other introverts/lurkers out there? Silly question really, because if you're like me, you'll be reading but you won't comment. I'm going to challenge myself to comment more - mainly because I do enjoy getting comments. Presumably other people like getting comments too, so I'll start by picking one blog post each day to comment on. And I'm challenging myself to participate a little more in online communities, starting with this "Love Your Blog" Challenge. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

Wow, I've been ignoring this poor blog for over a year. I'm planning to start posting regularly this fall, but I've made plans like that before, so don't hold your breath.

This past weekend I had the treat of going to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, about an hour and a half north of Corvallis. After last year's hurricane, the weather was perfect this year, mostly sunny with highs in the 70s. My friend Amy picked me up early Saturday morning. We were at the festival with our tents set up not much after 9am.

There were alpacas

and sheep (I think these are Shetland)

lots of sheep

The Clackamas county fairgrounds used to have a really old, falling apart barn where the sheep would be during OFFF. Last winter we had some really bad snowstorms in Oregon that were the final straw for that old barn. It partially collapsed and had to be torn down, so this year the sheep were in a great big tent. It seemed a lot nicer, airier and no smell of decades of animal inhabitation.

Saturday afternoon we went to an interesting talk by Jeanne Carver of Imperial Stock Ranch. I love their yarns and enjoyed hearing the story of the ranch and its history, tho I wish the acoustics in the upstairs of the main pavilion building had been a bit better. Jeanne didn't have any of their yarn with her but had a lot of samples of clothing (including the Ralph Lauren USA Olympic sweater) and some beautiful blankets produced from their wool.

OFFF has started a Focus on Fiber series. I think they plan to focus on a different breed each year. This year was Shetland. I hope they do offer this on other breeds in future years - a short workshop and 4 sample balls of Shetland yarn for $3 was a really good deal. Amy went to the first hour on spinning with Shetland. Since I don't spin, I spent that hour checking out the vendors, then joined in for the second hour on knitting with Shetland wool.

I'm afraid I didn't get the name of the woman presenting, but she did a great job sharing info about differently spun Shetland yarn including how to match yarn and project. Best of all there were lots of samples to pet and admire. The only Shetland I've ever knit with is the now-discontinued Alice Starmore Scottish Campion, which was produced by Jamieson & Smith and I think is very comparable to their 2-ply Jumper Weight Shetland yarn. I've therefore always considered Shetland a fairly scratchy, stiff yarn. The presenter pointed out how much sproingier handspun Shetland can be, and wow, was she right. Some of the samples of handspun Shetland and shawls knit with handspun were so much softer and squishier than I would have ever expected. The comparison in feel with a sample she had knit from commercial Shetland was really eye-opening. I may need to keep my out for some handspun to buy. Or I joked about buying a fleece and making Amy spin it for me :^) 

Sunday there are spinning competitions which Amy participated in, including spinning blind-folded

and spinning with rubber gloves

While Amy spun, I helped out Scarlet of Huckleberry Knits in her booth and then participated in the last competition, team spinning. One person treadles and the other spins the yarn while walking backwards. First team to the finish line, about 50 feet back, wins. I treadled while Amy spun and we came in 4th out of 6 teams. Well, at least we weren't last, and everyone gets prizes, so I even won some yarn. Then I helped Scarlet tear down her booth and another OFFF was over.

I was pretty restrained in my spending at OFFF - here's the haul I came home with

From left to right, that's the four balls of grey and brown Shetland samples, a 1000yd skein of Dicentra Alpaca lace weight yarn in lovely shades of blue, a skein of natural cream sport weight Corriedale from Sincere Sheep (a team spinning prize), a brownish skein of Navajo Churro yarn from Shaggy Bear Farms (another team spinning prize), and a lovely purple skein of Cascara Lace from Huckleberry Knits. That photo really doesn't do justice to the amazing shades of purple in that Huckleberry yarn. I really need to work on my photography skills, or maybe just break down and buy a better camera.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I got lucky!

I follow a lot of knitting blogs. I mean a LOT. Google's discontinuation of Reader last spring left me panic stricken. What would I do when they took away my "Next" button for paging thru all those blogs? I procrastinated, in denial that Google would actually be so heartless. After all, isn't their motto "Do no evil"? And taking away Reader was definitely evil.

As the July 1 execution date approached, I faced facts that there wasn't going to be a last minute reprieve for Reader. So I did some research, and finally migrated over to Feedly. Surprisingly, after all that angst, I've adapted well and am actually fairly happy with Feedly.

I've continued to follow way too many knitting blogs.I might listen to/watch a lot of knitting podcasts too.  A lot of these blogs and podcasts do giveaways, and yes, I shamelessly enter all the giveaways. Well, not all. I don't spin, so I usually pass on the fiber giveaways. Though sometimes I enter those too because spinners occasionally appear on my gift list. My luck seems to come in spurts. I won't win anything for ages and then, bam, I win several things.

This held true a couple weeks ago. I was feeling like I never win anything (not true, but reality isn't always a big influence on my feelings). I've been playing with dyeing yarn and had dyed a skein of yarn for the summer dye-along of The Dyer's Notebook video podcast. This is a wonderful podcast from Laura of Gynx Yarns. You should definitely check it out. My skein came out lovely and really was it's own reward.

But Laura had lots of prizes for the dye-along, including some yarn I was really hoping to win. The odds of winning something were like 1 in 4, so I was hopeful. I watched the episode where she announced the winners late one evening and didn't win anything. I went to bed with a "Hrumph. I never win anything". So not true. I had already started knitting a pair of socks with the yarn I'd dyed.The pattern I'd chosen was The Uncanny from Teresa Gregorio's Ghosts ebook. Which I'd won a year or so earlier from the herrlichkeiten blog, so yeah, never win anything. It's a lovely pattern - I''ve finished the first sock.

So I wake up the next morning, check my email and my luck had changed. I had won two blog contests! Knitting The Uncanny must have given me good karma, because the first was from Teresa Gregorio's Canary Knits blog. I won a gorgeous skein of Bijou Basin's Tibetan Dream sock yarn, 85% yak and 15% nylon. It's oh so squishy and soft and such lovely colors.

It came with a nice sock pattern too, Woven Socks by Jill Wright. Though this yarn might be too lovely to become socks. I might have to use a plainer yarn to make the socks and use the yarn for a shawl or cowl. It's one of those skeins that's almost too wonderful to actually knit with. I think I'll admire it as a skein for a while until it tells me what it wants to be. (What, your yarn doesn't talk to you? Mine does.)

The second contest I won was from Stephannie Tallent's Sunset Cat blog. She has a pattern, the Arrows mitts and hat, in KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes 2013 Collection. I won a copy of the book and 4 skeins of Wool of the Andes to make the hat and mitts. I chose the Spruce and Haze Heather colors. Wool of the Andes comes in so many nice colors, it was hard to choose, but I think I picked well. Purple and green, pretty much my favorite color combination.

I can't wait to knit these. I'm not sure if I'm going to make them for myself or maybe give them as a Christmas gift. There are a couple people on my Christmas list who might really like those mitts. There are a couple other patterns in the collection I'm tempted to knit too, particularly the Insulate cardigan by Christina Harris.

That was a really lucky day for me. I haven't won anything since, but I'll keep shamelessly entering all those contests. I'm bound to have another lucky day sometime...

Joining in on Fiber Arts Fridays over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I'm knitting Grace by Jane Richmond out of Kollage Riveting cotton in a lovely teal color.

The sweater is knit top-down seamlessly. The first part was challenging, getting the lace pattern right while including the raglan increases. I had to rip partway back a few times. Now I'm into the endless stockinette body, although it is nice to have something mindless to work on like earlier this evening at Stitch Night at my LYS.

If you want to see more Work-In-Progress posts,  check out Tami’s Ami’s Blog

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WIP Wednesday

Last fall I knit these fingerless mitts out of Shibui Sock in the periwinkle color.

I liked them and wore them a fair bit this winter, but I never wrote up the design. I just wasn't happy with the way my i-cord bind-off curled under. It's hard to stop reverse stockinette from curling under like these do. I played with the i-cord bind-off and think I have a version that won't curl.

I also wanted the pattern to include versions with a longer cuff and with fingers (you can't really see in the above photo, but that cuff ends pretty much right inside my jacket). Over the winter I knit this version out of some lovely Knitted Wit Rambouillet fingering in the thistle color.

Now I'm working on an updated version of the short sample with no fingers, again in Shibui Sock, this time in the Kiwi color.

Joining in with Tami's Amis for WIP Wednesday.

 Join us!

What are you working on?

Monday, April 22, 2013

4KCBWDAY1 The House Cup

It's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week again!

A bit like Harry Potter, but not quite, this year’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses. Don your favourite knitted or crocheted hat and let it guide you to which house you will be in.

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.

The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet.

The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

The House of Peacock: Peacocks take something good and make it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock's Tail.

Which house am I? Aspects of the House of Bee fit me. I sometimes flit from one interesting project to the next. Without necessarily seeing a project through to the finish. Like all those designs I haven't written up the pattern for yet, like these shawls:

The House of Manatee isn't a bad fit either. I like traditional, oversized, comfy sweaters like my Irish Fisherman's Sweater.

But the pictures above show which house I fit best in: The House of Monkey.  "Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting." That's me. There's no such thing as too many cables in a first knitting project:

Complicated lace: bring it on.

 And don't forget that finicky picot cast-on.

 Fair Isle: a pattern that repeats would just be too easy:

Yup, that's me, always wanting to try a new technique. The more complicated, the better.