WIP Weds: Agony, Misery, Woe!

Any knitter who has any experience with mohair will know the agony I speak of, and I only have to say three words. (You might want to sit down first.)

I’m frogging Kidsilk.

I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath and slow your heart rate back down. At least, that was my reaction when I realized what I needed to do in order to fix my Sweetheart Sweater the way I wanted it. (I think it was Lorraine who mentioned fickle knitting gods. Hush, you.)

Here’s the whole story: I started knitting this sweater some time ago. I bought the yarn and loved it, but I used a circular needle that I already had and was sadly rather cheap. I didn’t like the needle, so I let the project stall out. But I wanted to have the sweater done, so I bought a new circular needle of better make and quality. (This one’s a ChiaoGoo lace needle. I love it.) And I loved knitting the sweater again, and it flew along nicely.

Then I finished the back, and looked at how much yarn I had left, and started to think that I was going to run out of the sparkly yarn. So I started knitting the first of the two fronts, knitting slowly so that while I knit I could think about what I was going do when I ran out. Then I finished the first of the fronts, and was convinced that I wasn’t going to have enough sparkly yarn. A quick trip to the store where I’d purchased the yarn originally showed that I had already taken too long to finish this sweater: the sparkly yarn I had picked for this project had been discontinued.

Oops. Now what to do? I didn’t see any obvious way to get the yarn I needed. (Yes, I looked at the Ravelry destash page.) So the sweater hibernated a long time while I thought. Could I make it a vest? Could I knit the fronts in the same colors as the back and then do some creative striping for the sleeves so that I could use a similar but different (or very different) yarn to replace the one I would run out of, and call it a design feature? Or could I maybe shorten the sleeves and make it work that way?

Too many questions, not enough answers. But miracle of miracles, when I was talking about it with my S’n’B one day, one of my knitting friends realized she had the exact yarn – DOWN TO THE DYE LOT, mind you – that I was missing, and didn’t have any reason to keep it. She gave me the new yarn, and I happily started working on the sweater again. I finished both the fronts, and started on the sleeve. I ran out of the first ball of sparkly yarn right on schedule, and kept knitting happily away. Until I realized something scary: I was going to run out of the non-sparkly yarn, too. And it is ALSO a discontinued color now.

I checked the Ravelry destash page again, and chatted briefly with the one person who has – and is willing to part with – the color I need, and discovered that due to a move, the yarn isn’t available at present. Sadness. I could wait for her to get to the yarn, or I could get creative as I had originally thought I would need to do. But there’s one thing I have now that I didn’t have before: a lot more sparkly yarn than I will need. So, the logical thing to do is to use the sparkly yarn for both accent color AND main color for part of the sleeves, and pretend I meant to do that all along. The bottom of the sleeve is the logical place to have the double-sparkly yarn, because sleeves are often used as accents to the body of the sweater. Besides, it would look weird to have the sleeve cap not match the sweater it was sewn to.

And here we run in to the (HOPEFULLY) final problem: you start knitting the sleeves AT THE BOTTOM, and work your way to the top. And since I had made my way two-thirds of the way up the sleeve, that means I am now frogging two strands of mohair yarn which sometimes are knit as stripes and sometimes are held together. For you non-knitters, this is like trying to separate really stubborn Velcro. It sometimes comes apart nicely, but usually doesn’t want to budge.

It is slow going, but I am determined to be able to wear this sweater by Christmas. (I may or may not wear it ON Christmas, but that’s my goal completion date. A present to myself, if you will.) And I have a plan now, which is great.

However, I think I can be forgiven for slipping a bit on my “only these projects” decision from last week, and doing this:

(More details of the shiny new thing next week.)

Ten on Tuesday ~ Falling

The Ten on Tuesday prompt for September 16th is 10 Things You Do To Get Your Home Ready for Fall.

Huh. Well, truth be told, I don’t do much to get the HOME ready for Fall. A few things, sure, but with: (1) no kids; (2) no school; and (3) no autumn décor, there’s just not much I need to do. However, there are things I do to get ME ready for Fall. I’ll include both of those things in this list.

1. Clean up. (This is one of the home things.) I almost do more of an autumn cleaning than a spring cleaning. Spring tends to feel like time to air the house out and clean up dust and dirt. Autumn feels like the time to get rid of unwanted things and prepare to hibernate. Even though we don’t (get to) actually hibernate.

2. Buy a bag of peppermint patties. This is for me. All for me, not for Trick-Or-Treaters. These are my reward for completing my daily goal in NaNoWriMo. Finish my word count, get a treat. It works wonders.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, Fall-prep time is when I:

3. Outline my NaNo story. Has to be done by the end of October. And I’m not in enough writing practice to be able to do this all DURING the Fall, so I have to start as early as I get inspired. (And I have to hunt down inspiration if it doesn’t come on its own.) Because it will take me that long.

4. Put out fall-colored towels. One of the few season décor-type things I have are towels. I don’t have all seasons, but I do have some of them, and I like to put out the towels. (I should get more. They’re fun.)

5. Winterize my car. New windshield wipers, make sure there’s a spare umbrella in the backseat, that kind of thing.

6. Review my Christmas gift list for red flags. IE, are there any gifts I was planning on making that I haven’t started yet? Get on those.

7. Try to plan where we will be for which holiday. So far it’s always been “the same as last year”, but with having my family on one coast and Mr. Wyrm’s on the other, I anticipate that there will be changes coming to the fall holiday planning one of these years. And sooner rather than later is my guess, even if my family does celebrate holidays much more – shall we say ebulliently – than Mr. Wyrm’s does.

8. Start wearing more handknits. This kind-of happens automatically as the weather gets colder, but it’s still something I have to remind myself to do at first since I store them on a different shelf of the closet than my other clothing.

9. Haunt Costco for chicken pot pies. LOVE their pot pies, but they’re seasonal. And they’re huge. One pie will practically feed me and Mr. Wyrm for an entire week. Yes, we get sick of pot pie by the time it’s gone. But that pesky “being sick of it” thing doesn’t last long, because they’re SO TASTY.

10. Plan all kinds of personalized, hand-made holiday cards. Usually starting with Halloween and continuing through Christmas. And then fail to complete even a tenth of the hand-made cards I’d intended. This has sadly become a tradition with me. I guess I should probably avoid trying to make Halloween and Christmas cards at the same point in time when I’m already trying to write a 50K word novel and finish the Christmas knitting…

52 Books 2014: Week 37

Doctor Who: Dead Air
by James Goss
narrated by David Tennant
(time travel, fantasy, audiobook only)

So, I picked up this Dr. Who audiobook because of a blog reader recommendation. (Thanks, Shiver!) I really hesitated about buying it, at first, because it’s only about an hour and a half long. It came highly recommended, though, and the principle of a sound-based creature being the enemy on an audiobook intrigued me, so when Audible had DEAD AIR on sale, I had to buy it.

Now, as I had been told, there is quite a fun twist at the end. (I’m not revealing what that is, no worries.) And, unexpectedly, there’s also a round-about explanation for the length of the audiobook, if you think about it for a moment. (Not telling that, either. Unless you’ve already listened to this one and haven’t figured it out, in which case leave a comment and I’ll email you about it.)

Due to both the format and the length, there are some questions that I wanted answered which weren’t. I guess that’s okay, since they weren’t really crucial questions, and explanations would have gotten in the way of the rest of it. It was a very tight work, and it felt like everything included in it was intentional. Even the bits at the very beginning that I wasn’t sure at first were a part of the story had their place. I don’t think that it’s a spoiler (given that this is a sound-based monster and the story is set at a radio station) to tell you that there are moments of static in this audiobook, and even those (or ESPECIALLY those?) felt thought-out.

This audiobook felt like a Dr. Who episode even more than the previous one I listened to did. (The Feast Of The Drowned by Stephen Cole) Hmm. There’s even one particular, well-loved Who episode that this audiobook reminds me of in some respects, but to say anything more on the subject would provide too many spoilers, so I’ll refrain. However, that should be an indication of just how well this book fits with the TV show. I don’t think it could ever be converted into an episode, though, because it’s too audio-centric. I think the video part of the TV show would get in the way of this story, instead of helping it along.

And as always, I loved David Tennant’s narration. I’ve listened to several books he’s read now, and each one was fabulous and unique. (I saw that he also narrated Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and I think now that I must buy and listen to that one. I love the story – book and movie, yes I’m familiar with both – and I think his narration style would really suit the book.) I love how distinct each of the characters’ voices are. Tennant is better at this than most narrators I’ve listened to.

So. Is this worth a listen to? Yes. (If you want to experience it, you’ll have to listen to it. It’s audio-exclusive for a good reason.) Is it worth a full-price purchase? Maybe. It is a good quality work, and there are reasons for the length (which is the only reason I would complain about the price), but I still have to pause and think about it at full-price. Just on principle, I guess. But if you see this audiobook on sale, it’s a no-brainer.

WiP Weds ~ Threes

It’s more than half-way through Wednesday, but that’s still plenty of time for a WIP Weds post! And I have plenty to show you today!

First, the oldest of my current WIPs:

This is the Sweetheart Sweater that I’ve been working on for ages. This is the first of the two sleeves, as you can kinda tell from all the increase markers along the edge there. (Fully shaped sleeves, yay. I’m not sure if this makes me happy or sad. Hopefully it will make the sweater FIT, but I don’t have enough sweater experience to know that for sure yet. Have to wait and see.)

I’ve been working on this off and on for years, though mostly off. Now, though, I plan to work on it until it’s done. There are three other things I’m allowed to work on while I’m working on this sweater, and I’m not letting myself cast on anything new until the sweater is done. (At least done being knit. We’ll see how I feel about the finishing once I get there.)

However, this is going to be only two other things I’m allowing myself to work on alongside the sweater very soon. Why, you ask? Because of this:

One of the three is almost done. (I’ve since finished the bind-off, and now it’s just waiting to have the ends sewn in, bath-time, and blocking.)

Unfortunately, that means that you won’t see any more of this project until after Christmas. Fortunately, it means that I am that much closer to having my Christmas gifts finished.

The second of the three hasn’t been touched in a while, because it’s knitting that needs a bit more focus than I’ve been giving my knitting lately. It’s the fox toy for my nephew, which I have no problem showing you in progress since he’s too young for it to matter if he sees the toy ahead of time in pictures. Besides, I don’t think my sister or brother-in-law read my blog, and I’d be just as happy to show my dad (the only family member who I KNOW FOR SURE reads the blog) the toy in person, so there’s no surprise element with this one.

The third of these projects is also a gift (they all are… I’m doing very little knitting for me right now, just the sweater) and so you won’t be seeing any details about it yet. And the pictures are no longer going to be of the whole thing at once, since that gives too much away about the project. But bits and pieces, such as this, are okay:

Fun color changes, huh? I’m really enjoying this knit. And while it looks complicated, it’s not that much. But it is a fun knit, and I think I will possibly be making another one of these once the first is finished, just to see how it works up with other yarns. We’ll see, though. There are so many projects I want to knit, that it has to be a really special one for me to knit it twice. While I’m loving the knit, I want to see the finished project before I decide on knitting a second one.

That’s it for me for now. How about you guys? Anything fun going on? And is anyone besides me thinking about Christmas gifts yet?

Ten on Tuesday ~ Books!

The Ten on Tuesday topic for September 9th is 10 Books That Have Stayed With You Long After You’ve Read Them. I know some of you have already done this on Facebook so it should be easy for you – just cut and paste! And for the rest of you, put those thinking caps on!

I did do this list already, so here’s the cut & paste for you:

(I’m not going into the whys here, but if you have questions about why a particular book is included, ask in the comments and I’ll let you know.)

1. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.
2. The complete works of William Shakespeare.
3. Peter Pan by J M Barrie.
4. The Elements of Style by Strunk & White. (What? I’m an English major.)
5. Dragonflight (aka Pern #1) by Anne McCaffrey.
6. The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong. (This one I’m explaining: it’s the first book I was credited in.)
7. The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.
8. The Joy of Signing.
9. Where Do we Go from Here? (book of short stories edited by Isaac Asimov)
10. Winnie The Pooh by AA Milne.

(I just noticed how many of these authors have initials in place of first & middle names…)

52 Books 2014: Week 36

I skimmed the first few chapters of Dragonsong (Harper Hall Trilogy, Book #1) before finishing that book and then reading the rest of the Harper Hall trilogy, which is why I am not reviewing Dragonsong. I’d feel guilty including it in my list of 52 Books In 52 Weeks since it’s a short book to begin with and I didn’t read the whole thing.

Dragonsinger (Harper Hall Trilogy, Book #2)
by Anne McCaffrey
(fantasy, YA)

This is the second book of the Harper Hall trilogy, and possibly my favorite of the three. I love the antics the harpers get into, and watching Menolly develop as a character. Now that I know so many theatre people, it’s taken on another level of enjoyment, since I can recognize bits of the theatrical personality types in many of the characters. Very fun.

I also greatly enjoy reading the events of the main Dragonriders of Pern trilogy happen from another point of view. I feel these books are best read all at the same time to get the best enjoyment out of each of them. (This is probably one reason why I have a hard time reading just one of the Pern books. There’s so much more depth to the story when you read them ALL TOGETHER.)

One thing I didn’t notice while reading these books as a teen was how they really are geared toward teens. The main characters are all younger people, and they have many of the concerns that young people have. Fitting in, making a place for yourself, figuring out what you want to do in life… all things that I was dealing with when I initially read these books. They are still enjoyable for adults, though. I used to complain when I saw them put in with YA books, but now I completely agree. It’s not that they have no hard subjects, but that they approach these hard subjects from a teen’s perspective. And they manage to do that without talking down to anyone, which is a mark of McCaffrey’s talent in my book.

Dragondrums (Harper Hall Trilogy, Book #3)
by Anne McCaffrey
(fantasy, YA)

I have very mixed feelings about this final book in the Harper Hall trilogy. On the one hand, I love (as with the prior books) seeing the events in the series as a whole playing out through the eyes of harpers. On the other, I have never connected all that well with Piemur. Maybe because I was a young girl when I read it for the first time, and hadn’t yet learned to connect with characters who were boys. Maybe because I always tried (at least then) to follow the rules, and Piemur blatantly does not. But for whatever reason, it never resonated as well as the prior two books. (Looking back now, having re-read it, I think it may also have something to do with the fact that the other two books in this trilogy spend very little time with someone other than Menolly as the focus character. Dragondrums, on the other hand, spends large chunks of time following one of the other harpers instead of Piemur.)

I think my favorite aspect of this book is that it does nicely tie up the loose ends in the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy, and introduces a few new characters that we meet in The White Dragon. It also nicely closes out the Harper Hall plotlines, and finished Menolly’s growth arc. But it still is not my favorite of the Pern books. (Which one IS my favorite is often up for debate, but The White Dragon and All The Weyrs of Pern are up there.) I do still enjoy reading it, and I’d be curious to see how I reacted to it if I’d read it for the first time when I was older. But if I were to manage to pick up just *one* of the Pern books to read without also finishing the rest of the series, I doubt this would be it.

Side note: I noticed in the author notes that Anne McCaffrey mentioned she could knit an Arran sweater in ten days. While I am jealous of the impressive list of novels she has written, I think I am nearly as jealous that she could knit such an intricate sweater in just ten days. It seems unreal. And yet, I love seeing the peek into her life. It humanizes her to see that she had other hobbies.

WIP Weds ~ More Gifts!

So I told you yesterday that I would be showing off another Christmas present today. It’s not much progress yet, but I’ll show you anyway. Here is the (almost) current status of the Rondelay shawl that I’m making as a gift. (I have made a little more progress, but the more recent picture I took looked horrid.) Not saying who this is for yet, just in case. That reveal will have to wait until after the gift has been received.

I’m enjoying the knit, though. It’s a different construction technique – you knit to the middle of your cast-on, then use short-rows to shape a half-circle. And then you add new stitches to one end, and make another half-circle. Really different, and yet (currently) super interesting. (Let’s see how I feel at the end of the shawl… I might get sick of the short rows…)

This is knit using the Seaweed colorway of KnitPicks Chroma fingering, and it makes a more subtle shawl than most of the Rondelays that I’ve seen. I think I’m going to really like the effect. Hope I can still manage to gift it when it’s done.

And another project that you’ve heard me talk about but haven’t seen yet:

Bacon!

The bacon scarf I’m crocheting for a good friend of Mr. Wyrm! Mmmm, bacon… However, for whatever reason, I don’t like carrying the extra yarns along in the work as much as I thought I would, so it’s becoming more of an intarsia piece than I’d planned. Oh well. The ends are still easier to deal with in crochet than knitting.

And while this one does have a (self-imposed) time-limit, it’s nowhere near as bad as adding another Christmas deadline. Thank goodness. It’s also not a secret, so you will be able to see the full progress with no secrecy filters imposed.