Ten On Tuesday ~ Repeat

Today’s Ten On Tuesday prompt is “10 Patterns You Could Knit Again . . . and again and again!” This one is kinda hard for me. There are very few knitting patterns that I repeat. There are a few, however, that I have repeated. And there are a few others that I want to knit again…

1. Damson. I knit one of these for myself, and one for my sister. I’ve thought about making another, but with larger yarn or some other variation that would make it larger.
2. Monkey socks. I’ve only knit one pair, which then stretched out and no longer fit me. So I want to make another, but haven’t yet gotten there…
3. Peasant top. I’ve knit two of these, also. Again one for me and one for my sister. I’d love to make another that I lengthened so that it’s no longer a crop-top and I feel comfortable wearing it NOW… I haven’t worn mine in ages. :(
4. Plain vanilla socks. These could be knit again and again and again, and the yarn will keep them interesting.
5. Noro entrelac socks. Another sock pattern that could be repeated with different yarn to make it fun.
6. Lazy Katy shawl. Or, really, any of Birgit’s shawls (though I’ve only knit the one so far). They’re lovely. I made one of these for a gift to a friend of mine because I loved the way my first one (which I AM KEEPING) turned out.
7. Annis Shawl. One I get past the cast-on, that is. I think I’ve made two of these, also, one being a gift to someone or other.
8. Serpentine mitts. These seem to be a very flexible mitt, which will fit a wide variety of hands. Great for gifting.
9. Mini Totoro toys! As with any small toy, it can be a little fiddly, but for any fan of My Neighbor Totoro, this is a must-knit.
10. Susie’s Reading Mitts. This is a bit of a stretch, since I haven’t actually knit it yet. But I’ve been wanting to for ages, and it looks like the kind of pattern that I could make tons of before tiring of.

52 Books 2014: Week 30

Past Midnight
by Mara Purnhagen
narrated by Tara Sands
(YA contemporary fantasy, ghosts)

“Life doesn’t stop just because you’re being stalked by ghosts.”

That is how I would have started the book. Instead, this was the first sentence of the 8th chapter. Granted, at the beginning of the book, ghosts weren’t something that the main characters were talking about as real things, but still. I’m sure there were ways to use this as the first sentence of the book. It would have been a much bigger hook, I think. As it was, I don’t remember anything about the first paragraph of the book. (By contrast, I remembered this sentence all the way to the end of the book, and I knew exactly where to find it, even though I had listened to it during my commute. I didn’t even need to replay it at the time for it to stick in my head through the remaining thirteen or so chapters.)

Anyway, enough of me trying to re-edit the book for the author. I did enjoy it, but my enjoyment of it really started around chapter 7 or 8. That’s when things really started happening. Most of the early stuff felt like background or set-up. Important, but less so. I wasn’t really hooked until chapter 8. Up to then, I could have put the book down and forgotten to pick it up again. (Nearly happened. I listened to HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON in the middle of this one, and restarted PAST MIDNIGHT mostly because my new Audible credits aren’t available yet.) Once I was hooked, though, I was HOOKED. I listened to most of this book at home on Wednesday while cooking dinner, eating laundry, and doing various other chores. If it had been a paper book instead of an audio one, I would have finished it there and then instead of saving the last ½ hour for Thursday’s drive to work.

The basic plot is that Charlotte’s parents are ghost hunters, but their focus is to find a scientific explanation for the hauntings. And then… something happens that can’t be explained by science. Ghosts follow them home, and start haunting (aka “stalking”) Charlotte. And in the meantime, Charlotte has to deal with a new school, making new friends, and figuring out a mystery surrounding her new best friend’s boyfriend and his former best friend. There’s plenty going on, and even though I figured out essentially everything before it was detailed in the book, the reveals were still enjoyable.

The characters are all enjoyable, even the ones who aren’t friends with Charlotte. Some of the situations didn’t seem to fit what I remember of high school life, but then my parents weren’t paranormal investigators, either. And none of my friends were given brand-new cars for their birthdays, though I did know kids who were. So I suppose the situation is all believable – once you get past the hauntings and all.

Tara Sands did a good job of narrating the book, too. I’d listened to one of her other works before, which is actually why I bought this one in the first place. A good narrator makes a huge difference in the enjoyment of an audiobook.

TdF Thursday

So, there has been knitting, but not a whole lot of it. And the knit teaser that I showed you last Wednesday has been essentially finished, so you won’t get to see that one again until I sew up the ends and write its FO post. I should be able to have another (knitting) WIP Weds next week, but for now let’s celebrate the Tour De Fleece.

I’ve been doing a lot of spinning lately, especially compared to usual. I wouldn’t be surprised if over the past couple weeks I have doubled my life-time spinning output. The fun thing is watching the evenness of my spinning improve as the TdF goes on. It’s still all definitely done by a relative novice, but now it’s much more balanced with itself. Instead of being a randomly thick & thin yarn like the first yarn I spun this month, my current project is a good sport weight yarn with only minor fluctuations.

Speaking of that first yarn I spun for the 2014 Tour De Fleece, here it is:
This is the “May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor” fiber from BohoKnitterChic. It was a part of the Phat Fiber sampler box in February – and while I didn’t get the sampler box, I saw the fiber online and loved it, so decided to buy some.

Spinning it was a new thing for me, since I’d never spun from rolags before. Rolags are rolled-up fiber that looks a little like cigars or sausage curls, for those of you who didn’t know. You spin them from one end, and in my experience it was really had to control which bits of fiber got pulled into the yarn at which point. This was fine with me, since a completely random yarn was kinda what I was going for, but if I’d been trying to spin to a plan it would have bugged me.
The second yarn I spun was another Phat Fiber seller, though I bought this one long ago. I don’t know how long this fiber has been in my stash. It’s from Tamara of Spincerely Yours, and was a standard wool roving. I tried for a more even yarn with this one, and succeeded, though it was still a bit uneven at times. Love the colors, though, but I will need to remember that they bled a bit when I washed the finished yarn.
And here is the third finished yarn I have from this year’s TdF. It’s an art batt from Kitty Mine Crafts, and was enjoyable to spin up. Like the rolags I spun at the beginning of the TdF, though, I had the darndest time controlling where the bits of color showed up in the yarn. Not too much of a problem, though it was a little frustrating to go from long stretches of white to parts where there were two or three colors of banana silk together. Ah well.

I have more of this on order, because I wanted enough to knit a shawlette with it. I’m really looking forward to that – it was a nice fluffy batt to work with. I want to wear it and snuggle into it.
Finally (for today), here’s a picture of my current spinning project. This is a wool roving from Sprouty25, which I have been spinning up in tin singles and chain-plying together so that I can control the color shifts. I’m REALLY pleased with how this turned out. It’s my most even spinning yet, though you can’t quite tell from the photos. It’s also the only yarn that I’ve gotten to do what I want color-wise. (I usually don’t bother trying, but still.) I still have a little over half of this left to spin up, and I’m enjoying the process. It makes me look forward to the next roving that I’ll be able to play with the color, though I don’t know yet what that will be or how I will play with it.

Anyway, I’ve been having a fun week at home. Hope you have too!

52 Books 2014: Week 29

How to Train Your Dragon
by Cressida Cowell
narrated by David Tennant
(children’s fantasy, audiobook)

First of all, let me say that yes, I’ve seen the move. And yes, I saw the sequel. And yes, I saw both movies before I read (listened to) the book. And while there were definite changes between the book and the movie (which may or may not have annoyed me if I’d read the book before seeing the movies) I can understand why the changes were made and don’t have a problem with them. Now that that’s over with… on to the review.

I greatly enjoyed this audiobook. Yes, a lot of that was because of the narrator, but it was also the book itself. If you are going to read this one (in any form), however, there is one thing you must keep in mind: its target audience. I would say the target reader is a pre-teen boy. So if you are not okay with snot and potty humor, you may want to read a different book. Even so, though, it’s not overly gross, and there is a quite respectable plot. But it’s told through a young boy’s eyes, and it shows.

My favorite part of the story was the interaction between Hiccup and Toothless. But then, I have always loved human-dragon conversations. That’s probably my favorite part of the Pern books, too – the bits where the humans and their dragons communicate and play together. I do like this (book) version of Toothless, even if he’s not as awesome as the version of him I was introduced to first (movie). Not as awesome, I guess, because he’s bigger in the movie, mostly. (AKA Hiccup can ride on him, rather than Toothless riding on Hiccup’s shoulder as in the book. Back to Pern: it’s the difference between dragons and fire lizards. No matter how cool fire lizards are, dragons are more awesome.) Also, while I enjoy the conversations that Hiccup and Toothless have in the book, I LOVE the expressions that are on Toothless’ face in the movies.

The plot is fun, too. Different than either movie, and yet similar. You don’t have to look far to see the similarities even though they are technically nowhere near the same plot. I do like the way the book explains the different kinds of dragons, and the illustrations are quite amusing. (I listened to the audio book, but I also recently bought the paperback for my niece, and so I flipped through it before wrapping it for her.) I especially like the way the other book titled “How To Train Your Dragon” is duplicated within the pages of this book. Very fun.

And the narration. Ah, the narration. I love having David Tennant as the narrator for this. He seems to have so much fun with it. (Though as with the movie, I’m not sure that a Scots/Irish brogue is the right accent for the Vikings. I guess I can ignore that, since I have no real idea what a true Viking would sound like.) Tennant is quite good at the various voices for the different characters, to an extent that I’d never had proof of before. And his timing is good as well, as are his dragon voices. I knew I liked him as an actor, but this just makes me like him more.

WIP Weds ~ of Tours and Tsocks

Welcome to another WIP Weds! Today there is knitting again, though there is also more spinning.

First up, some of the spinning.
The Tour de Fleece is still going strong, and this year (for once) I didn’t wimp out after the first few days. The above is a picture of some yarn I spun up from fiber I got from Spincerely Yours. This is the Chantico colorway, and it’s a superwash merino. It spins up beautifully.
I’ve also gotten some fiber from Kitty Mine Crafts, and have started spinning that too. It’s an art batt, white wool with colorful bits of banana silk blended in for interest.

Next up, some knitting.
This is the second of the Kitri socks by the Tsarina of Tsocks, a project which has been in my WIP bag for a LONG time. I’m not going to admit how long (until I finally finish them and write their FO post). But suffice to say that one way to get past the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome is to knit one sock, put the project bag aside until you have forgotten how the knitting went on the first one, and then knit the second sock. It’s like knitting a brand-new sock pattern!

Anyway. So far so good. And this is my current travel knitting, so hopefully it won’t take too long to finish. I really want to get my WIP list manageable this year so I can start new projects guilt-free.

Um. Did I say “start new projects guilt-free”?

52 Books 2014: Week 28

The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel (Stoker & Holmes Novels)
by Colleen Gleason
narrated by Jayne Entwistle
(audiobook, YA, steampunk, historical fantasy)

This book has been on my TBR list for a while, in great part due to the cover art. I will admit that I did judge this book by the cover, and this time I was not mistaken in that judgment. It was a highly enjoyable steampunk romp. There were some aspects of the steampunk world that seemed to be added for no particular reason (the “sky anchors” come to mind; the only reason I saw for them was to obscure something else later) but for the most part the world was well-built.

I wasn’t sure about the narration at first, but it grew on me. I think part of the reason I didn’t think I liked it initially was because Jayne uses distinct voices for each of the two main characters (Mina Holmes and Eveline Stoker) and Mina’s voice – which is the one used in the first few chapters – is harsher and more prim. Once I adjusted to the narration style and different voices, I thought the book and narration suited each other very well.

My biggest issue with this book was that about 2/3 of the way through, it became obvious to me that this was not going to be a stand-alone book, because there was no way they could finish everything to my (and hopefully the author’s) satisfaction. The end of the book brought with it quite a lot more resolution than I’d expected, but not enough to make me think anything other than, “yup, this was meant to be a series.” Will I continue reading the series? Probably. But I hope that the second book brings some better conclusion to the bad guy in the first book. I for one am not fully satisfied with that part. (A good sign: Mina Holmes is also not satisfied with the bad guy’s end, so that makes me hope that there will be more resolution of this in the sequel.)

Favorite parts… I like the character interactions between… well, between everyone. The two girls, the girls and their probable romantic interests, etc. I also like that the girls’ “famous relatives” show up, but only for very brief moments. I like most of the steampunk gadgetry. (As I said before, there are a few things that seem silly to me, but maybe there’s a reason for them that we’ll find out later.)

FO: Dragonfly Socks

Lookie here! Another FO post!

This time we have the Dragonfly Socks. These were so much fun to knit!
I’ll admit, most of the reason these were fun was the yarn. It’s so colorful and pretty and – as Chris wondered – squooshy. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. I love it.

But the pattern was nice, too. It was easy to follow, easy to memorize, easy to knit, and still so much more interesting than a plain vanilla sock. (Not that there’s anything wrong with vanilla socks. I almost decided to knit this yarn into a vanilla sock in order to better look at the yarn. But I think I made the right choice to go with this pattern.)

I think I only made three modifications to this pattern. (I’m not counting the cast-on edge, which I rarely count as a modification anyway. Cast-ons are rarely an official part of the pattern.)
Anyway. The first modification I know I made was to continue the pattern alongside the toe decreases. The pattern says to finish the pattern repeats and then to decrease for the toe. I decided to start the toe decreases on pattern row 3, so that the decreases followed the yo’s toward the point of the toe.

The second one was after the last pattern row, before switching to stockinette for the rest of the toe, I worked a “yo, centered double decrease, yo” to finish the pattern. I like the way it looks well enough that, had I realized it beforehand, I might have modified the entire pattern to add this extra row each time. But as it was, putting it on just the last time was enough. Even though that part will be IN A SHOE and ALMOST NEVER SEEN. Oh well. I know it’s there.
And the third mod was the heel decreases. I moved them from where they were written to the sole of the foot. I did a double sole decrease as described in Turtle Girl’s blog, here. I think I like the way it turned out. I definitely like the way it kept the dragonfly pattern smooth and pretty.
SPECS: (and a link to my Ravelry project page)

PATTERN: Dragonfly Socks
DESIGNER: Jocelyn Sertich of Cavyshops
YARN: Ella Rae Lace Merino
NEEDLES: US 1.5 (2.5 mm)
START/END DATES: April 15 – July 2, 2014
MODS: toe decreases at the same time as last pattern repeat, work a centered double decrease on the last pattern repeat (see above for specific details)