WIP Weds ~ East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Happy Hump Day!

I think it’s time for a WIP Weds post. There will only be one WIP listed today, because there hasn’t been much visible progress on any of the other WIPs. For instance, I love working on the Dark Side of the Moon socks, because the yarn is so soft and the striping is fun to watch, but I can only take so many in-progress photos of plain vanilla socks.

So, today we have photos of my East of the Sun, West of the Moon shawl. This is a Nim Teasdale pattern, and the yarn is Knitwhits Freia Handpaints Ombré Lace in the Ice Queen colorway.

I’ve been really enjoying this pattern, though I’m finding that I like the lace a LOT more than the stockinette sections. I knew I would. I mean, lace is FUN. I love knitting lace. But I thought that I would like the way the two sections differed enough to keep me interested in knitting the stockinette parts. This is not as much the case as I was hoping. So, even though I had planned to alternate all the way to the bottom of the shawl, I may do lace only from here out. It’s so pretty, so it’s not a hardship.

I’m also enjoying the beading. I’m so glad there are beads in this pattern. You may recognize the beads, in fact. These are the same beads as I’m using for the Semele shawl I’ve been working on. There are only two differences: first, I’m using only the opaque beads for this one. Second, the beads and the yarn for the Semele shawl are complementary colors while the beads and yarn for the East of the Sun, West of the Moon shawl are close to a perfect match. (Granted, since the Freia is a gradient yarn, the beads match one part of the shawl but not another. Also, there are a couple colors of beads I’m using, so they may match the bottom of the shawl but not the middle section. I love the way it’s working.) Actually, I love the way both color schemes are working. They’re just completely different from each other.

So that’s what I’m up to lately. Knitting shawls is great for binge-watching TV shows, since the rows can be so long, so I’ve been knitting this shawl while watching “Castle”. (I just started it. I know, bad author. But it’s a lot of fun!) Anyway, I hope you’ve been having a great week!

Ten On Tuesday ~ Country Mouse

Hi Everyone!
The Ten on Tuesday topic for 8/11/2015 is 10 Things You Love About Visiting The Country.
Have fun!

This is not going to be as specific as last week’s Ten on Tuesday was. (That was about “The City” – San Francisco for me, an unnamed generic city for others.) This is going to be the country in general, because I don’t have any specific place in the country that I go visit.

  1. The quiet. I am a city girl (well, suburbs, really), but sometimes it’s nice to get away from it all.
  2. The smell. You know, the smell of nature. Sun-warmed grasses, freshly tilled earth, and above all, NO POLLUTION. Wonderful.
  3. Hiking options! Yeah, I take walks around the surrounding neighborhoods for some outside exercise (as opposed to indoor exercise equipment) but there’s nothing like a good hike.
  4. Listening to the wind through the tall grass. Have you ever listened to the wind through tall grasses or wheat fields? It’s so calming. Almost sounds like the ocean. I love it.
  5. Wildlife! I love seeing critters in their native environments. And yes, that includes big critters, like the bears we’ve seen in Yosemite.
  6. The stars. Amazing how many stars you can see when there aren’t that many lights at night to get in the way…
  7. Local foods. Country towns can have some of the best local-made foods if you can find them. Jams and honeys are some of my favorites, since I can take them back home with me easily.
  8. Local crafts. I do enjoy wandering a country town’s Main Street and seeing what the local artisans have made. You can find some really neat stuff.
  9. Pacing. Not as in “walking back and forth”, but as in “the pacing of life”. It’s probably busy enough for those who live in the country, but since I don’t, the pace of life always seems so much slower and more relaxed to me. (Maybe it’s more that I’m in vacation mode than anything? I do associate this more with country visits than other vacations, though.)
  10. Things are often in walking distance. Not everything, of course. The Big Box Stores are often driving-distance only. (Though why you go to the country for a Big Box Store, I have no idea.) But there’s usually a more central “downtown” in country towns, and once you’re in town you can park and walk to everywhere else you want to go.

Have a great week!

Friday Reads: Still Life With Shapeshifter

13520061Still Life With Shapeshifter (Shifting Circle #2)
by Sharon Shinn
(contemporary fantasy, slight romance, shapeshifters)

So, remember when I reviewed THE SHAPE OF DESIRE and didn’t know if it was part of a series? Well, it seems it is, because this one follows it. (Good thing I read them in the order I did, even though I got SHAPE OF DESIRE out of the library when STILL LIFE WITH SHAPESHIFTER had been on my bookshelf at home for months…) You can read either first, but if you start with the second book there will be definite spoilers for the first book.

So, my (only kinda spoiler-free) thoughts on this one? I really enjoyed it. As with the first book, I was interested while reading the first half of the book or so, but not completely hooked yet. Yes, I wanted to find out what happened to the characters. Yes, I wanted to finish the book. But yes, I could easily put the book down when it was time to go to sleep or my lunch break was over. And then, half-way through? I could not stop reading. I hit the big hook at the very end of my lunch break (which was torture), thought about reading for the rest of the work day, and then devoured the remainder of the novel between getting home and cooking dinner. (Dinner was only slightly late that night.) As an interesting point, the same thing happened with book 1, where I was interested but not fully caught until the halfway point.

As to the plot and such, you find out early in book 1 (and again in book 2, though I forget where) that Shinn’s shapeshifters don’t live as long as normal humans. I really appreciated this detail of her shapeshifting. It just makes sense. Most animals have shorter lifespans than humans, so for a shapeshifter who spends half their time as an animal, wouldn’t that impact their lifespan? This is the first shifter series I have read that incorporates this, and I appreciate it. I think it was Isaac Asimov who said that good Sci-Fi only changes one thing, and everything else has to fit in with reality. Well, to me, Shinn’s shapeshifters fit in better with this idea than any other shifters I have read. (Granted, shapeshifters aren’t usually considered Sci-Fi, and Fantasy or Paranormal Romance don’t have the same rules. But still, I appreciate it.)

Right. About the book and not just the concept… Our main narrator is Melanie, though there are sections added by Janet periodically. (These will be explained by the end, I promise.) Melanie’s half-sister Ann is a shapeshifter, and Mel’s life has been arranged around trying to protect her sister. Well, enter in a boyfriend for Ann, a reporter asking questions about Ann’s shifter nature, and a possible illness, and there’s plenty going on to make protecting Ann much harder. The details would be too spoiler-y, but I do have to say that I really like the character of the reporter, Brody from the first book. (I didn’t like him then, but you get to know him a lot better here.)

Anyway, this is a fun read. Not super romance-heavy, though it is present without going into tons of detail. The biggest annoyance for me (which admittedly was not a huge annoyance) was the comments by various characters about “I don’t know what to do without you” or “I don’t want to live without you.” Yes, it’s common in romancy-novels. No, it’s not any more believable here when the characters saying it aren’t dramatic teenagers. This wasn’t enough to make me not enjoy the book, but since it did bug me (and I know it’s a pet peeve for some) I thought I should mention it.

Ten On Tuesday ~ City Mouse

Hi Everyone!
The Ten on Tuesday topic for 8/4/2015 is 10 Things You Love About Visiting The City. You can pick a specific city or a generic city, it’s your choice. And next week on 8/11/2015, since it’s only fair, the topic will be 10 Things You Love About Visiting The Country.
Have fun!

Well. I am a NorCal girl, and so “The City” to me always has been (and always will be) San Francisco. So this list is going to be all about that specific city. Enjoy!

  1. The weather. Yeah, it’s usually cold and foggy. But it kinda seems to fit. It was always easier to feel comfortable dressing up and wearing my fancy coat (which, when I was younger, really only meant heavy coat instead of jean jacket) for an evening out when the weather was pretty much guaranteed to be chilly. And also, you know what to expect. Very few surprises with San Francisco weather.
  2. The Golden Gate. Even if you don’t drive over it, it’s really hard to miss it entirely on a trip to The City.
  3. Great food options! Though yeah, you have to know where to find them, and that’s not always easy.
  4. Public transportation. It’s one of the few places in California that appears to have given any thought to public transportation, and I always used to enjoy taking BART in, spending the day walking or taking buses, and then taking BART home. I like it less now that my dad isn’t the one planning out the routes, but then again, we have smartphones now to help navigate.
  5. Ghirardelli Square. Mmmmm. Yummy chocolate and a great view while eating it.
  6. The Walt Disney Family Museum. We’ve been several times, and I still don’t think we’ve seen everything (and that’s not counting the new things or the special exhibits). There’s so much to see and read there, that every time we go it feels like I see something new, even though I know I walked past it the time before. Amazing place.
  7. Theatre! I know, it’s not Broadway, but it’s not bad, either. San Francisco has some great theatre options, and I don’t get out there for them as often as I’d like.
  8. Robot Dance Party The robot is a friend of mine, and while I haven’t seen him perform live in Dolores Park yet (I know, bad me), I love the fact that this is something that can happen in San Francisco.
  9. The Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences. Science! Great stuff. I really remember these mostly from when I was younger, but want to go back again now. (It would have been two items, except I ran out of room. Consider it a bonus.) I especially loved the trip to the tactile dome we took with my Girl Scout troop.
  10. Chinatown. I’ve always loved wandering Chinatown, especially when I have a little cash in my pocket for spending money. There’s always some little thing that calls out to me. Silk coin purses, fans, parasols… you know. (There are big things that call out to me, too, and they’re easier to admire and not buy if I have already picked up a random little thing instead…)

Have a great week!

Friday Reads: A School for Unusual Girls

22238184A School for Unusual Girls: Stranje House #1
by Kathleen Baldwin
(historical fantasy, YA romance)

This is an amusing book. It has its issues – including that, for a smart girl, our heroine takes quite some time longer than I would have expected to figure out what is going on in Stranje House – but is a fun read nonetheless. It’s definitely a YA, but can still be enjoyed by adults. The themes, however, are all aimed more at teens than adults. For instance, even though there is talk of treason and spies on both sides of the cause, the girls worry more about how to stop the (good) spies from getting hurt instead of what the other side is up to. We find out about the bad guys’ plot because of events that occur, and not because of anything the girls are told or find out.

Granted, this is quite possibly more realistic for the time period. However, when the novel starts out with a girl being banished for trying to design invisible ink and sent to a reform house where the other girls are being tortured, something tells me that realism is to be taken with a grain of salt. In any case, it is a fun story and I am looking forward to the second book, which will follow Tess’s life (and young romance). Hopefully we’ll get to see more of Georgie (the heroine from this first novel, short for Georgiana) in book 2 as well, since she finally started to get truly interesting (as opposed to confused) by the second half of this first book.

I do like the premise for this book. I like a lot of the supporting characters, and look forward to reading from the other girls’ points of view (since that appears to be the way the series is going). I also think that at least the main villain for this book is well thought-out, and provides a good adversary for Georgie. However, since Georgie is completely untrained, that may not be saying as much as it could. I will be interested to see how this villain grows (or shows more depth) to keep up with the other girls, or what new villains are introduced to keep things interesting. Hopefully the other girls don’t get shallower to compensate.

Anyway, this was a fun read. I’ll be looking for book 2. But do go into it expecting a fun read and not something deeper.

WIP Weds ~ the long overdue update

Hi there! It’s Wednesday and I’m posting a blog! Fancy that.

So, WIP Weds have been absent not because there has been no progress, but instead because I have been too lazy to take pictures of the progress. We’re going to do a really quick one today, and I’m sorry (well, not really) but one of the “WIPs” is actually an FO.

We will start with a true WIP, though. Here is the current progress of my Dark Side of the Moon socks:  

I love how the striping is perfectly matched and I DIDN’T HAVE TO DO A THING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN THIS WAY. I love this yarn. And I would happily buy any of their other OCD sock skeins.

Another WIP, and another sock-in-progress is the Flutterby Socks. I don’t have the first sock to show you, because when I gave the first one to my niece to try on, she didn’t want to give it back. However, here’s the status of sock #2:  

I need to get cracking on that one before she outgrows the pair. (However, since I could nearly get the first one on, I think it will still be a while before that happens. On the other hand, she’s young and not used to putting on handknit socks, so it’s still a good idea that I finish these soon.) I do still like the pattern, though not as much as when I started the first sock.

There are other knitting WIPs that I could show you now, but it’s harder to get pictures of them. (Shawls-in-progress at a certain point just look like blobs of yarn.) Instead, I’ll show you the FO I mentioned at the beginning of this post:  

This is the Della Wallet Clutch by Swoon Patterns. It was surprisingly easy to make. The hardest part was turning the wallet right-side-out at the end of the project. I also had to do some online surfing to find the findings at the size listed (my local JoAnn’s has a limited size selection on purse findings), so that was a bit of a pain. However, the wallet itself was easy to sew, fun to make, and I learned some new techniques. I love it! And I loved making it. I will be making more for gifts, and if I ever decide to start an Etsy store, I will probably make some to sell as well, since the designer allows you to sell bags made with this pattern.

Anyway, that’s the WIP Weds for today. Hope you have a great day!

Ten on Tuesday ~ Blueberries for me!

the Ten on Tuesday topic for 7/28/2015 is 10 Favorite Things To Do With Blueberries.
Have fun!

Yum, blueberries. You remember the picture book Blueberries for Sal, right? I do. At the time I read it, however, I was a little unclear on the difference between blueberries and blackberries. Possibly because where we lived, blackberry bushes could be found occasionally, but there weren’t any wild blueberries. Anyway, I love them both, but here are my favorite things (in no particular order) to do with blueberries. (Truth be told, though, I can happily do most of these with just about any kind of berry.)

  1. Bake them in scones. Yum!
  2. Eat them plain! They’re awesome as-is.
  3. Eat them over vanilla ice cream for dessert.
  4. Fruit salad!
  5. Bake them in muffins.
  6. Freeze them (preferably with a mix of other berries) and then blend them up for a quick, no-sugar-added ice cream substitute.
  7. Serve them with yogurt and granola for a home-made breakfast parfait.
  9. Did I mention just grabbing a handful of them and eating them plain? Because that’s probably my favorite way to eat them.
  10. Mixed-in to ice cream (a la ColdStone). I haven’t found a commercial blueberry ice cream that I like yet, but that would be wonderful!

What about you? Any favorites I missed?