WIP Weds – socks!

It’s Wednesday! And there has been knitting! (Lots and lots of knitting, but all on one project.)

 

Remember last week how I told you that there would be new socks? Well, here they are:


 

The pattern is Scylla, and the yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks That Rock in Puck’s Mischief. I’m really enjoying the knit. Though, you may notice that I’m knitting these two at a time. And if you have been paying attention, you may have figured out that I almost never knit my socks two at a time. So why am I doing it this time? Well, let’s start with the first picture I took of these socks in progress:

 

I started them on a plane. (Cross-country trip to visit family. If you’re not family, that’s all the information you’re going to get about it. If you are family, you probably already know all about it.) But I hadn’t done a whole lot of prep-work before deciding to knit them. All I did was print the pattern, find the needles I wanted, and throw them in a project bag with a handful of stitch markers. Most of my notions got left behind.

 

And then I knit. And knit, and knit. A cross-country trip give you a lot of time for knitting. Here was my progress about 2/3 of the way through the trip:

 

And I started to panic. This yarn was given to me from a friend, and I knew she had wound the ball. I didn’t know if she had used any of the yarn. (I didn’t think so, but I had never asked so I wasn’t sure. My S’n’B gives each other remnants as well as whole skeins if we think the other person has a use for it.) At any rate, I realized that I hadn’t weighed the cake, and didn’t know how much yarn there was. I also hadn’t split the yarn cake into two that each contained half of the skein. And I was pulling from the outside of the ball, and the yarn was disappearing rather quickly.

 

So, I got the first sock to the point where I had about an inch above the heel flap, and started looking for something to put the stitches on so I could start the second sock and make sure I didn’t run out of yarn. I couldn’t find anything. So I cast off. But I left the sock attached, umbilical-cord-like, so that I could undo the cast-off and keep knitting if it turned out I had more yarn than I thought. Also, I hadn’t brought any scissors.

 

Then I started sock number two, knitting from the other loose tail. And I knit on that for a short while, and then we arrived. I did minimal knitting at our destination, and still thought I was going to have yarn problems. Then, when we were heading home and I started knitting again in earnest, I started to notice something. While the yarn pulled from the outside of the ball seemed to disappear into thin air, the yarn pulled from the inside of the ball seemed to be endless. I reached the heel, and still had plenty of yarn. I turned the heel, and got to the point where the first sock had been abandoned, and only slightly more yarn had been used.

 

At this point, I saw two options: keep knitting on sock #2, and guess at the true half-way point of the yarn, or pull sock #1 out of limbo and knit them at the same time so that I didn’t have to keep playing the guessing game I’d been doing when I was knitting on sock #1. I guess pitching the whole thing out the window in frustration would have been a fun option, but I don’t think the flight attendants would have been too happy with me for trying.

 

Needless to say, as you can see from the first picture, I went with option two. In theory, this way I can use up every last scrap of yarn without having to worry about the sock length matching. I’m not going to make any plans, though. I can already tell that these socks have a mind of their own.

Ten On Tuesday ~ Everyday Pleasures

Hi everyone!
The Ten on Tuesday topic for 4/14/2015 is 10 Everyday Things That Delight You.
Have fun!

That sounds like fun! Let’s see what 10 things come to mind first…

  1. Kitty snuggles.
  2. Spring breezes.
  3. Music played on a good stereo. Usually just my car stereo, but still.
  4. A cup of tea at just the perfect temperature.
  5. Soft yarn. I’m not going to specify which blend, because the softness of them can vary even when they are the same content.
  6. Sunshine.
  7. Back rubs from Mr. Wyrm.
  8. Finishing a puzzle.
  9. Visits with my family.
  10. Time spent playing with my camera for random shots. One of my favorite places to roam with my camera is my grandma’s garden, so I can combine this with #9. Happiness.

Have a great week!

Friday Reads: The Selection Series

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The Selection Series

The Selection, The Elite, The One
by Kiera Cass
narrated by Amy Rubinate
(fantasy, YA, not-quite-dystopian futuristic)

This series is one that I’ve been eying on my Audible wish list for a while. So when I decided I wanted a light read – because face it, any book whose cover features girls in cupcake dresses is a light read – I picked it up. I love the narrator, so I knew that the listening part would be enjoyable. I wasn’t mistaken there; Amy did a great job of narrating the book. However, I had to go at her pace. Normally I don’t mind moving at the narrator’s pace when I listen to a book. With this one, however, it seemed to slow. I’m not sure if that’s because Amy was reading slower than normal (or slower than I preferred) or if it was because the content was not challenging and so it just seemed slow. In any case, I listened to the first book, then promptly got the second and third from my library e-book collection because I wanted to read the rest of the series at my pace. I finished them (plus one of the series novellas) in about a day.

So, what about the actual books? Well, as the covers imply, they are light reads. They are not deep, even though there are hints of a deeper theme to them. (You know, rebellion, tyranny, etc.) The deeper themes are more background than truly a part of the story, though. The main thrust of the story is, as marketing has said, “Hunger Games meets The Bachelor”. Unlike the Hunger Games, the Selection series doesn’t focus on the dystopian aspect of this nameless future. Unlike some other reviewers, I get the impression that the worldbuilding was done, but that it just wasn’t communicated to the readers very well. (Others didn’t think the would was well built at all.) I felt that the author knew what her world was doing, but that she focused on the game-show aspect of the plot instead of the world in which this was happening. This may have been a good choice, or it may not. I’m not entirely sure – but I do know that if she’d given the readers more of the world’s background, it wouldn’t have been able to stay as light a read as it is.

Pros: I liked the characters. Even thought bits seemed unbelievable, it was mostly the situation that was unbelievable, and not the characters. Put these characters into the situation presented, and their reactions felt real enough. (Some of the situation didn’t feel real, however. The complacency with which people accepted this new caste system is one of them. We didn’t really get to see hints of dissatisfaction among the general populace until the third book.)

I also liked the pacing, for the most part. I only got dissatisfied with the pace of the narration of book one when I neared the end of it, and the other two books – which I read at my own pace – worked well. Nice blend of slower sections and action scenes.

Cons: even as a teenager, America should have seen more of the dissatisfaction than she seemed to have. I found that part very unbelievable. The love triangle drove me nuts. I knew that Aspen was going to somehow show up and cause problems, but I didn’t expect the triangle to be as prevalent and annoying in book two as it was. Also, the names were a bit of an eye-roller, as was the fact that they truly married off their prince via game show.

Reading these books, especially the second and third ones, I was struck by how much more this series could have been. It was a really amusing fluff read, and definitely worth picking up for that purpose. But it could have had Hunger Games-level intrigue. It could have really spoken to our current society and some of the ills in the way we do things. Instead, it stayed on the fun fluff level. It just served to reinforce the cupcake dress image I had of the cover. Lots of sugar and enjoyable in the moment, but not really anything of substance.

Do I recommend these books? Certainly, as long as you know what you’re getting into. These are beach reads. These are something to do for entertainment. They are not the next Hunger Games. If you are willing to enjoy them for what they are, then by all means go for it. But if you’re looking for something deeper and won’t enjoy the lighter read, then I don’t think I can recomend these for you unless you are willing to read between the lines and pick up on the background story that exists without being told.

Wip Weds for 4/8/15

Happy WiP Weds! How about some knitting pics? Yeah, I didn’t think you’d mind.

This is the newly revised Semele Shawl, on a US 5 needle and beaded. The beads are from Joann Fabrics. Nothing special, mostly because I decided I wanted to bead it NOW and didn’t want to wait for a special bead order to come in. With the beads on it, this pattern looks more like feathers to me than leaves (which it looked like before). 

I’m really enjoying this shawl. The bead placement is essentially random, though I do try to make sure that no more than two beads of the same color are next to each other. The pattern is surprisingly easy to memorize, too. Or – maybe not “memorize”. “Intuit” might be a better word. I still refer to the pattern on each row, but I don’t have to study it the way I did at first.

 

I’m also still trying to decide whether I want to bead the edge of the Sweetheart Sweater. I have all but finished seaming it – I still have one sleeve to set it, but that’s it. And then I have to decide on the beaded edging. Sigh. Choices.

 

There’s also the Flutterby socks. I still like them, but I have to admit that I’m starting to get bored with them. I realize that this is partly because I have now decided that they aren’t going to be for me. It’s always easier to knit things for myself unless I have deadlines I’m up against. (And even sometimes then…) It’s also partly because the yarn isn’t super soft. Yes, this means they will be longer-wearing socks. But they are not as much fun to knit as super soft yummy yarn.

 

Not pictured today is the Pretty Thing Cowl, which is all done except for the blocking. I’m not sure how to block it so that there aren’t seam lines from where it’s folded in half. I’ll figure it out sooner or later, but until then it’s sitting and waiting for me to do something with it.

 

And, because this is me… we also have a not-yet-started pair of socks. I’m not sure what pattern they’re going to be yet. But they’re sure to be fun, because they’re Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Yarn (the Silkie blend). I love that stuff.

Ten on Tuesday ~ Recent Reads 

The Ten on Tuesday topic for 4/7/2015 is the 10 Last Books You Have Read.
Have fun!

This one should be easy! I keep a list of the books I’ve read on my book review site, so it’s just a matter of borrowing the content! (These are listed in the order in which I read them, so the newest is at the bottoms.)

  1. The Snow Queen (Hans Christian Andersen)
  2. The Iron Wyrm Affair: Bannon & Clare #1 (Lilith Saintcrow)
  3. Timebound: Chronos #1 (Rysa Walker)
  4. The Selection: Selection #1 (Kiera Cass)
  5. The Prince: Selection #0.5 (Kiera Cass)
  6. The Elite: Selection #2 (Kiera Cass)
  7. The One: Selection #3 (Kiera Cass)
  8. Elfshadow: Forgotten Realms Harper series (Elaine Cunningham)
  9. The Lark And The Wren: Bardic Voices #1 (Mercedes Lackey)
  10. Indexing (Seanan McGuire) 

What about you? Read any good books lately?

Friday — make that Sunday — Reads: Elfshadow by Elaine Cunningham

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by Elaine Cunningham

(fantasy, Forgotten Realms)

 

This book is one that I first read when it was new and I was in High School. At the time, High Fantasy was my chief book type, and this one – featuring a charming bard and a shy half-elven maiden – was everything I wanted out of a book. Truth be told, it was everything I wanted out of life.

 

Anyway, I mention all of that because it’s always interesting to me to see what different things I take out of a book when I re-read it. ELFSHADOW is a book that I’ve re-read many times, but this was the first time that I really paid attention to how different my outlook was on it than when I first read it. I found myself critiquing the writing style more, instead of getting lost in the fantasy world. I found myself laughing at what the girl-I-was wanted out of life. I still enjoyed the book, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of why I enjoyed it was nostalgia instead of for the book’s own merits.

 

And the book does have merits. It is well crafted, even if parts of it do show signs of the era in which it was written. The characters are well formed, and the pacing is good. Even with how many times I’ve read it before, I didn’t get bored reading it again.


So, would I recommend it? Yes, for the style of book. For someone expecting a modern edgy novel, this is not that. This is not really YA (since the heroes are not young adults), nor is it romance. It is not the distopian novel that is currently in favor. What it is, though, is a fun fantasy romp, with magic and betrayal. I especially recommend it for fans of the Forgotten Realms universe who haven’t already read it. In my opinion, Arilyn Moonblade and Danillo Than are two of the best characters in that universe. They are certainly the two I keep coming back to the most often, and I’ve read – I think – all of the novels and short stories in which they feature.

Update and Semele Shawl

Well, it’s been a while since I had the energy to blog consistently. First there was the rehearsal period, then there were shows, and then there was recovery time. Truth be told, I’m still not sure I’m fully recovered. I don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis anyway; throw in late nights at the theatre, and it’s really no wonder I was so exhausted for so long.

It was worth it, though! The show was fabulous, and it was so great to be involved with theatre again. Mr. Wyrm and I had taken a break to focus on health (mostly his, but I also needed an emotional break from drama) and so getting back was so nice for both of us. He seemed pretty able to handle it, too, which makes me happy.

One of the things that I did during the show was to start the Semele Shawl. Double-sided lace… not the kind of thing that one normally thinks of doing while Stage Managing a show. But this is me… so I started the shawl. This is the progress I made on it, though not all of it during the shows:

However, at about this point, I took a closer look at the shawl and decided that I didn’t like the fabric I was getting with this yarn on size US 3 needles. I should have known better when I started it – fingering weight on a US 3 makes a fairly dense fabric – but I was too excited to start the shawl, and didn’t pay much attention to the fabric density in the dark booth at the theatre.

So, though I loved the way the shawl was working up in this yarn (Dream in Color – Stardust, which was an experimental yarn blend and has been discontinued) I made the hard choice to frog it and start over on a larger needle. And since I was ripping it out anyway… I added beads. Because beads.

I do prefer the way this is knitting up already, so I think I made the right choice even if it was a wrench to have to start over. I can’t say that this is a super difficult shawl, but it’s also not an easy one – lace patterning on both sides – and the beginning is a little fiddly. So starting over was not what I really wanted to do, but it was what I needed to do.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to. And hopefully now that the show has closed I will have a bit more energy to spend writing – both blogs and otherwise. I’ve missed having that energy. Hope you are all doing well!