Friday Reads: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Ian Fleming
narrated by David Tennant
(fantasy, children’s fiction)

First off, I guess I need to say that I love the movie version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Always have. It’s just good clean family fun, and I suppose it can be considered a movie musical. (I never really thought of it that way, but I suppose it is.) And I love the music for it, so that’s helpful. And second, I have to say that I have read the book before, too. So I knew what was going to happen in this audiobook before it did.

But it was still worth the listen. (For those who are already fans of the book, I suppose I should have started that sentence instead like this: “But. But… and again but!” And my apologies that the punctuation may not match what is in print. It’s hard to tell punctuation from an audiobook.)

As to the audiobook version specifically, David Tennant is a joy to listen to. And somehow, while I love him as Doctor Who, I can listen to him read a non-Who audiobook without thinking that the Doctor is reading me a story. I’ve listened to several of his audiobooks now, and the only ones that have felt like Doctor Who to me have been the Doctor Who books. (However, if you WANT the Doctor to read you a story, David Tennant uses an accent very similar to his Doctor for audiobook narration so you can have that your way, too.)

And the book itself? Well, I love how much more of a character Chitty is in the book than the movie. In the movie, yes: she’s a magical car. But she’s a magical car that is mostly put together by Mr. Potts. In the book… well. She has plenty of magic without any help at all. I do love that in both versions Chitty needs rescuing from the scrap heap.

There are times during the book that I was reminded that it was an older book, but that was mostly due to the way things were described or the way people acted. For the most part, the book stands the test of time without any need for a reminder of the time period. The British terms are also not hard to pick up, and I think even children (who the book was written for, after all) would find both the time period difference and (since I’m American, I’m talking about American children here) the cultural differences easy enough to follow. Mr. Flemming does a great job of explaining the things that might be odd, and the rest can be inferred easily from context.

This is a great story. You can see the same imagination here that created all those spy stories, even though it has a very different tone from Bond. The action parts are well-paced, and his use of sounds is wonderful. I highly recommend it for all ages.

Phat Fiber!

I have been aware of the Phat Fiber Sampler Box for ages now. I first became aware of it due to Spincerely Yours, I think, but I only recently started paying attention to the boxes again. At the time I first heard of them, I wanted to get one, but didn’t think I’d have any clue what to do with the fiber. I mean, what could you do with little sampler bits of yarn?

Well, since then, I have run into all sorts of ideas of what to do with it. There’s shawls like Leftie, which use one background color and lots of smaller bits of color. (Great for stash busting scraps and for samplers! Yay!) There are also what one member of my Stitch ‘n’ Bitch calls “Frankensocks,” where you use all kinds of random odds and ends to knit up a sock and don’t worry about whether they match or not. (Crazy stripes FTW!) And then there’s scrap yarn blankets. (I have two in the works, with a third one planned.) Lots of ideas!

So, when February’s Phat Fiber Sampler Box was announced with a “coffee and chocolate” theme, I HAD TO GET ONE. Other than the “Geekery” theme last year, this is the theme that has spoken to me the most. So, when I just happened to be awake at early enough on the Sunday it was to be released, I opened up the sale page and hit refresh until the boxes showed up. And then one happened to find its way into my cart, and a week or so later, it ended up on my doorstep!

I’d never gotten one before, and had never seen any pictures/videos of what the boxes looked like, so I had no idea what to expect. It was a very fun surprise to open! And I loved how so many of the vendors packaged up their samples in some fun way. Some of them used fun bags to hold their fiber (or other items, since this was a mixed box). Some included chocolate – which would always be welcome, but which was especially appropriate this month! My favorite packaging was the bag from Kitty Mine Crafts, which was of the “Breakfast Blend” fiber batt sample, and came in the kind of bag that you buy coffee beans in. So perfect.

All of the things look like they will be fun to use, whether the stitch markers or the fiber or the yarn samples. (I’m happy that the yarn samples are about the same weight, so that I can use them in the same project if I want to.)

I am a part of the Phat Fiber group on Ravelry, so I’m also happy to have easy access to links for these vendors’ stores. I’ve bought from several of them before, such as when I wanted the things they were listing for the “Geekery” sampler box but didn’t buy a box. However, I do like being able to see the other things they are working on that didn’t get into the box, or that got into some boxes but not others. (For instance, some vendors send multiple samples over, say of different color blends, and so some people end up with Color A and other people end up with Color B.)

I really enjoyed getting my first Phat Fiber Sampler box, and I have to say that it will not be my last. I won’t get one every month, but for a fun splurge, I’m there. Kudos to the organizers for getting together such a fun idea and a great way to support independent fiber artists!

FO: Cats Will Play

Today we’re going to have knitting on Tuesday! A bit different, I know, but I wanted to show off my latest finished shawl. (And I can’t wait until Friday because I have a book review scheduled.)

This is the “Cats Will Play” shawl, or at least most of it. I knit it out of a handspun yarn I made for last year’s Tour De Fleece, so I only had a limited amount of yarn. It ended up being plenty of yarn to make a nice shawlette, but not enough to make the shawl full-size. (There’s supposed to be one more cat’s pay lace section, followed by a final garter stitch edging.)

Still, I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. The pattern is interesting enough to add texture and interest without detracting from the lovely handspun yarn. It was a fun pattern to make as well. I could see myself making another shawl (full-size) with commercial yarn to see what the difference is with something more uniform than my personal handspun. (I’ve gotten better at creating an even yarn, but it’s still not machine-perfect, which I am glad of.)

The fiber I spun the yarn from was from Kitty Mine Crafts’ etsy shop. It’s called “Cloudy With A Chance Of Color,” and it was so much fun to spin. The fiber was white wool with colored banana silk mixed in, and it spun up effortlessly (except when I tried to make the colored bits follow any kind of order. I gave up on that pretty quickly and just let it do what it wanted to do). And it’s SO SOFT! I love this stuff, and am happy to report that there is more Kitty Mine Crafts fiber waiting for this year’s Tour, or whenever I bring the spinning wheel downstairs to play with.

Other than the size difference, I didn’t make any mods to this pattern. No need! It was easy enough to follow, and the shape of the shawl ended up a nice crescent shape as written.

SPECS:

PATTERN: Cats Will Play
DESIGNER: Jaala Spiro
YARN: my handspun, fiber was “Cloudy With A Chance Of Color” by Kitty Mine Crafts
NEEDLES: US 7 (4.5 mm)
START/END DATES: August 5, 2014 – February 15, 2015
MODS: none except making it shorter to fit the amount of yarn

Round of Words – Update #7

IMG_0183.JPGHappy Sunday! I don’t know about you, but I have plans for later to watch the Oscars and eat cheesecake. Hope you have a fun day!

Here’s my ROW progress for this week (and a link to the official ROW80 blog for today):

1. Some kind of writing task at least two times a week. Nothing at all done on this front this week. For shame. I really must focus on this in the coming week. (3/7)

2. Exercise at least three times a week. Yes. (But barely.) (4/7)

3. Knit 2 squares for the 2015 Geek-A-Long blanket. The first square is done, and the second is started. Yay! (1/2 squares)

4. Finish a crocheted scarf I’m working on for a friend. DONE. (1/1 completed scarf)

5. Post ROW blogs at least once a week, and visit (& comment on!) the blogs on my blog roll plus at least 5 random ROW-er blogs. Yes. At least I’m pretty sure I did. I know I caught up on my blog roll and wrote a ROW post. I think I visited ROW-er blogs, so I’m going to count it. (5/7)

Have a wonderful week!

Friday Reads: The Iron Wyrm

IMG_8083The Iron Wyrm Affair (Bannon and Clare #1)
by Lilith Saintcrow
(steampunk, historical fantasy)

This book is great fun. I really enjoyed how the world was reminiscent of the (history or the) one we live in, and yet was different. I liked that it took place in an alternate London with alternate place and country names instead of taking place in an alternate London with the same names. That’s a small thing, but it’s a nice touch. It’s one of the little things that speaks to me of good world-building.

I also loved the way the magic and logic worked together. It seemed the perfect way to blend the fantasy and steampunk worlds together. (I’m speaking here of the more pure steampunk, with steam engines and machinery but no magic. Most of the other magic + steampunk worlds I’ve seen don’t blend the two well, just have them both sort-of there.) I especially love that there are genius-plus people (aka mentahs) who use logic in the same way that sorcerers use magic. (Sherlock Holmes would be one example of a mentah, and seemed to be the inspiration for this group of people.)

About the characters: I loved them. Well, the main characters, anyway, and even the secondaries. The villains you aren’t supposed to like (but the couple we really got to see were fun, even if not likeable), and there were some other characters whose portrayal I enjoyed while I didn’t get a true sense of who they were going to grow into over the course of the series. I look forward to finding out, though, because I definitely intend to continue this series. It’s great fun. (Yes, I said that already. It bears repeating.)

As to the plot: some of it was predictable, yes. But it was a conspiracy theory plotline – those have a few typical parts to them which you usually see coming. There were other parts that were much less predictable. And even the parts that I did see coming were executed well and I didn’t mind being right in my predictions.

Ten On Tuesday ~ Antici… pation

The Ten on Tuesday topic for February 17th, 2015, is 10 Things You Are Looking Forward To Right Now.

Well. This should be a fun one. However, those of you who know me should expect lots of things Disney on here…

  1. Disneyland trip this spring. Because Disneyland. You know how it is.
  2. Disneyland trip for the 60th anniversary. See previous. Also, it should be a fun party.
  3. Alaska Cruise! Yes, on a Disney ship. No, I won’t be posting about it again until after we get back. I don’t mind telling the blog that I’m going on these trips, but I don’t want to talk about them much until I get BACK from them.
  4. More squares for the GAL blanket! This is a really fun knit-along. (Or crochet-along for those who prefer that format.) More information about the GAL is here, and if you’re at all interested you should check it out. For the fun of looking at the designs if nothing else.
  5. Summer of Socks. I think I’m going to participate again this year. Well, maybe. But I always get excited about it beforehand, and this year is no exception.
  6. STICHES WEST! It’s coming up soon… as in Thursday. Should be fun, since it usually is.
  7. Tomorrowland (the movie). It looks really interesting, and I’m curious to see what they do with it.
  8. Inside Out (another movie). I love Pixar films and this one looks like it will be no exception.
  9. Eurovision 2015. Most people in the States don’t know about Eurovision, and I only found out because Mr. Wyrm got introduced by someone – he got hooked, so when we started dating, he got me hooked. And now we watch it regularly every year, and choose who we would have voted for if we, you know, had votes. It’s got some great music. You should check it out.
  10. Avengers 2 (yup, another movie). I really loved the first one, and the trailers for the second look AMAZING. So that will be fun, too! Should be a good summer for movies.

Hope you’re having a great week so far! Anything particular that you are looking forward to?

Round of Words – Check up #6

IMG_0183.JPGOops. Today’s Yesterday’s Round of Words check-in was delayed. My only excuse was that Mr. Wyrm and I were both feeling a tad under the weather, and celebrating a late Valentine’s Day. So here’s a Monday Summary instead.

1. Some kind of writing task at least two times a week. I don’t remember how often I did this. Which generally means “not enough.” (3/6)

2. Exercise at least three times a week. Yes. (Finally.) (3/6)

3. Knit 2 squares for the 2015 Geek-A-Long blanket. I finished my first square over the weekend! I finished the Tesla square, and it was a ton of fun. The designers ask that anyone who enjoys it “consider making a donation to Child’s Play Charity. Here is a direct link to our donation page benefiting the charity. Please help us raise $1,000 this year! No contribution is too small.” I haven’t donated anything this year (I did last year) but I will be doing so once we get a little farther away from the holidays. (1/2 squares)

4. Finish a crocheted scarf I’m working on for a friend. DONE. (1/1 completed scarf)

5. Post ROW blogs at least once a week, and visit (& comment on!) the blogs on my blog roll plus at least 5 random ROW-er blogs. Maybe? But since I have that question mark there, probably not. (4/6)

I hope you all had a great weekend and have a lovely week to come!