Misc Monday ~ in which a shawl is born

It’s time to show off a finished shawl! Yay!

Finished "Cats Will Play" shawl

This is the Cats Will Play shawl designed by Jaala Spiro, and it’s a fun knit. It’s named the way it is because the lace sections use the cats paw lace. Since this is going to be a gift for a cat lover, it seemed an appropriate pattern to use.

Finished "Cats Will Play" shawl

The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering Superwash in the Lavender Fields in the Mist colorway. It was a lot of fun to work with, but it got a little splitty on the cast-off. (Which is weird. It didn’t give me any trouble at all during the actual knitting, not even during the lace section.)

Finished "Cats Will Play" shawl

This is the second Cats Will Play shawl I’ve made, but the first one I made full-length. My first one used handspun yarn, and I just knit until I ran out. This one did leave me with some leftover yarn, but not much. It’s enough that I’ll give it to the gift recipient in case of emergency repairs, but not enough to make a matching accessory for the shawl. The result, though, is that this one is a proper shawl length, which my first one was very definietly a shawlette. (Note: yes, shawls can also be much larger than this one ended up. But make them much smaller and they are no longer really shawls.)

Finished "Cats Will Play" shawl

I love the end result of this one, and I hope the recipient does too. I don’t normally make her items with colors this subdued – I usually make her things with much more vibrant yarns. Hopefully this one is a nice change. It seems very calming to me, and we can all sometimes use calm in our lives.

Have a great week!

Friday Reads ~ in which I can’t read the inside of my eyelids

Sleep. It’s a wonderful thing. I never seem to get enough of it these days.

I know, it’s my own fault for not going to bed earlier. (I can say this since I tend to pass out very soon after going to bed and attempting to sleep. It is possible that, should I go to bed earlier, I would lay awake thinking instead of sleeping. Then it would no longer be my fault, since I’d be trying to get more sleep. Since I’m not trying, it’s my fault. (Just wanted to be clear, since I have friends who are insomnia-sufferers, and I don’t want it to seem that I’m belittling their difficulties.))

Anyway. In my case, at least, sleep (or a lack thereof) and pleasure reading don’t mix well. I will be attempting to stay up reading. Therefore I am not sleeping. But when I try to read, my eyes drift closed, so I’m not getting any reading done, either. The end result is that neither gets accomplished very successfully.

WHAT I READ:

All that to say that, even though my current paper book is a thin volume, I haven’t finished it.

I have finished an audio book, however: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Very enjoyable listen, even if some of what was said is not going to stick with me. (This is more learning than pleasure reading, and I do my best learning when I see something and write it down. Since I heard all of this, it won’t all stick.) Some of it will stick, however, and this is a short enough audio book that I might listen to it again. I’m also pretty sure that I’ll be buying a copy of it in paper form, too.

WHAT I’M READING:

I am currently reading The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun, the 4th Cat Who book. (Yes, I skipped #3.) It’s enjoyable so far, but I haven’t gotten very far into it and I’ve already predicted someone who is likely to die. There are certain themes in cozy mysteries. Also, there are certain regular happenings in this series — like so far, in every installment Qwill gets a new column / section / topic to cover, and a new apartment. Amusing, but predictable.

I have just started listening to NPCs by Drew Hayes. It’s been on my radar for a while, and I want to read it early enough in the year to be able to decide whether or not it will be on my gift-giving list. (Yes, I plan these things way in advance when I can. I’m weird like that.)

As you have probably guessed, on the e-reader I am still making my way through both Paid in Gold and Blood by Lazette Gifford (though that one’s technically on pause) and the InCryptid shorts by Seanan McGuire. I’m into the Verity and Dominic short stories now, so I’m nearly caught up to the point where I can’t read any more shorts for fear of spoilers.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT:

I really have no idea what my next paper book will be. I have a Doctor Who novelization which was given to me last Christmas. Maybe I’ll read that. I also have Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire which I thought was a stand-alone novel but which may actually tie into the InCryptid series. Maybe I’ll read that instead. My physical TBR pile is large enough that I have a huge selection of books to choose from and unless I have specific plans I never know what I’m going to end up with when I go to select a new book.

My next audio book is also up in the air, since I just started one. And as far as ebooks go… it will be a long time before I need to worry about my next one of those.

WIP Weds ~ in which there is an unexpected shawl

Right. I don’t think I specifically said so, but my plan after casting off the Cats Will Play shawl (which is finished – more on that next Monday) was to work on the shawl I’ve had lingering in the WIP pile for ages. That one is my East of the Sun, West of the Moon shawl designed by Nim Teasdale. I love the knit, I love the beads, and I love the yarn for that shawl (Knitwhits Freia Ombré). However, the rows are very long, and so it (a) is not travel knitting, (b) takes a little focus, and (c) doesn’t show much progress even after I’ve been knitting for an hour (or five).

So I guess it should have been really no surprise that instead of working on my huge but lovely beaded shawl already on the needles, I cast on a NEW project. This one is the 22 Leaves Shawlette by Lankakomero. (It’s also going to be a Christmas gift.) I’m using some Noro Taiyo sock yarn that had been intended for socks until I didn’t like the way it was striping as socks. I like it much better as a shawl. Don’t you agree?

22 Leaves Shawlette

This is my progress after 2 days of knitting. (One of those days was Sunday, when I knit for a large chunk of the evening, and the other day was Monday, where I knit for an hour and change.) I am loving everything about this shawl. It’s working up beautifully, the yarn goes well with the pattern, the pattern is easy to follow (though it is charted and not written out, for those of you to whom it matters), and it’s easy enough to read the knitting that I know where I am just by looking at it. I’m definitely going to be making another one of these shawls. Maybe lots more. We’ll see.

There has been other knitting, too. I suppose I could take the 22 Leaves for travel knitting, but instead the Hyrule socks have been my recent travel knitting. I’ve put the first sock onto stitch holders, and have started the second sock from the other end of the ball of yarn. This way I can be sure to knit the socks to the same length without having to rip anything out or wasting any yarn.

Hyrule sock progress

I’m enjoying this knit too, but not as much as the shawl. I blame the needle choice, though. These are Addi Natura Bamboo Needles which are nice to knit with, but not so nice to do k3tog with. The tips just aren’t pointy enough. If I had other needles to switch to, ones with pointier tips, I would do that. But I don’t have anything else that will work (or at least, nothing currently not in use) so I’m stuck with these tips for now. I got sock one (essentially) finished on these needles, so I can do it for sock two as well. I’m just complaining at myself.

There are other things that are on the needles (or hook) right now, and I need / want to get back to most of them as soon as I can. However, that’s all that I’ve been actively working on this week.

Hope June is treating you well so far!

Misc Monday ~ in which I watch a Disney documentary

So I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of the Disney company. (Those of you who have been following along will already know this. Newer readers might not, as I haven’t talked about it much lately.) And one of the things I love is Disney animation. They do, and have done, some amazing things with animated movies and shorts. I love the classics, and I love the newer movies too. (We were late to the party with watching “Moana,” but I LOVED it.) Some of my favorite movies are Disney animated features.

However, there was a period of time when Disney animation almost died.

Well, maybe that’s me being dramatic, but I just watched “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” and that documentary sure made it sound like animated features were an endangered species for Disney back in the 80’s. Do any of you remember the “Black Cauldron” movie that Disney made back then? I vaguely do, because I loved the books. (Still do.) But at the time, it was too dark, and too ambitious, and from what I can tell it nearly spelled the end of animation at the Walt Disney studios.

In any case, if you’re interested in the history behind the Disney Animation Renaissance, then you should watch this movie. It goes into what happened in the Disney company as a whole, and animation specifically, that led to movies like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” being able to breathe new life into the animation department. It goes into the difficult decisions management made (decisions that sometimes don’t sound all that favorable) which either helped or hindered the animators. And it goes into the personalities behind those decisions.

It also mentions things I didn’t know. For instance, I didn’t know that “Beauty and the Beast” was the first animated film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (and this was when only 5 movies were nominated per year). And I believe “Beauty” was only the 3rd Best Picture nomination received by a Disney film – the other two being “Mary Poppins” and “Dead Poets Society” (released officially by Touchstone, which I did know was a Disney label).

I also didn’t know that “An American Tail” was made by a former Disney animator who left the company, taking a bunch of his fellow animators with him. I knew there was politics in any company, but it can be rough to hear about the hard times a company you love has gone through in the past. It’s hard to understand why there was a time when people didn’t believe in something that, now, is doing so well. But this documentary does a great job of showing how things happened, and why, and what happened to change them.

If you’re interested in all things Disney (like I am), or in movie history, or in these specific Disney animated films specifically, you owe it to yourself to watch this documentary. They’re enjoyable movies to watch regardless, but knowing the climate in which they were made somehow makes them more powerful, more important.

Friday Reads ~ in which I have a lot of reviews

So, about the title. I finally took the time to write up my reviews of Seanan McGuire’s Midnight Blue-Light Special and Half-Off Ragnarok, InCryptid books #2 and 3. (Links are to the reviews.) And there is still more! Details below…

WHAT I READ

I also finished reading The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern, (Cat Who #2) by Lilian Jackson Braun, and wrote up the review here. If you don’t feel like reading the whole review, the short version is that I liked it for the colorful characters and for the cats, but found the plot a little on the predictable side.

And I finished reading (well, listening to) The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher. Good story, but I’m not sold on the narration in all cases. (full review here)

AND I finished reading The Diabolical Miss Hyde (Electric Empire, #1) by Viola Carr. It’s a book I’ve wanted to read for a while, and I finally went ahead and asked Barnes & Noble to order it for me. Once I got it, I bumped it to the top of the TBR pile. And then I started reading it, and decided not to put it down. I did skim the middle section a bit (I went back and finished it later, but that’s part of how I kept my interest up to read nearly the whole book in one evening) and read the end before I read the middle. Still, an enjoyable read. (full review here)

WHAT I’M READING

I’m taking a deep breath before I start another paper book. I just devoured two in a very short period of time, and need to catch my breath. Also to, you know, catch up on chores and things.

However, I am listening to a book – Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Because Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s a short book, but informative so far. I think I might need to also buy the hard copy version for reference later.

And I’m still working on Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid short stories in ebook form. (I’m only reading the ones that happen before the next of the novels, so I won’t be finishing the short stories yet. I’m also only reading the ones I can get as individual ebooks instead of the ones I need to get an entire short story compilation for.)

Once I’m done with the InCryptid shorts that I’ve caught up to, I’ll get back to Paid in Gold and Blood by Lazette Gifford. I have no issues with this ebook; I’ve just discovered that I am a LOT more likely to read short-format fiction on an ereader than a full-length novel. Short stories are perfect. Novellas are okay. But full-length novels? Those take me a while.

WHAT I’LL READ NEXT

I think my next audio book will be Drew Hayes’ NPCs. It’s been tempting me for a while, so when Audible had it on their one-day sale I bought it. I’m really curious how it will read (and it might make a GREAT gift for my family members that I used to play D&D with) so I think it will be soon, if not next.

For paper books, I want something a little slower-paced than what I’ve been reading. Not boring, just not something I’m tempted to read in one sitting. Maybe I’ll re-read something? Or maybe I’ll move on to another Cat Who mystery… I like those, but I can put them down when I want to.

101 in 1001 ~ update the eleventh

It’s time for the 11th update on my 101 in 1001 Challenge! If you haven’t been following along on this journey so far or have any questions about what the challenge is, you can check out this link for details.

Happy birthday month to me! No details, except that I got to spend some time celebrating with family and friends. That’s the best gift I could ask for.

Here’s this month’s challenge progress:

May 2017
1 item completed this month
30 items currently in progress

~*~     ~*~     ~*~

Personal #67: Visit 3 museums ~ 5/16/2017

I do enjoy museums, but when I’m the one making the excursion plans I often forget that we have so many interesting ones so close to home. It’s one thing to plan to visit the Smithsonian during a trip to Washington DC; it’s another to remember the museums in my hometown. So I’m glad this was one of my challenge items, because it made me remember museums as an activity! There are still many in the area I haven’t visited yet, though. Here’s hoping I continue to remember to plan time to visit them.

Not tons of completion this month, but there has still been progress at least!

I hope you had a great month!

WIP Weds ~ in which there are sadly no pictures

There are no pictures today, mostly because I forgot what day it was and so didn’t take any. Ah, the hazards of a three-day weekend.

Anyway, I have been knitting on the Vanilla is the New Black socks, and have been making progress. I tried them on various family members over the long weekend, and found out that they fit my sister the best. (Which was NOT what any of us expected since I was originally making them for me and her feet are significantly smaller than mine.) So they will be a Christmas present for her this year.

I have also been working on the Cats Will Play shawl which is slated to be a Christmas gift for my MIL, and just a couple days ago I cast off the shawl! Yay! So that’s all over but the blocking. I’m looking forward to seeing how it ends up after it’s blocked out.

And I have been working on the Hyrule socks, which I think are going to be a Christmas (or maybe birthday) gift for my mom. Her feet are only slightly smaller than mine, and I think these socks would fit her better than they currently fit me. Also, she likes ankle socks better than I do — this pattern is definitely ankle socks. It’s kinda a mystery why I thought I was knitting them for me when that’s not my favorite kind of sock.

So, there has been knitting. And hopefully next week I will be less scattered and can show you pictures of some of it.

Have a great rest of this short work week!