Knitting Notes

Can I just say how much I’m enjoying working on the Cabled Swing Cardi? The cable pattern is so just much fun to watch develop. Granted, this means I’m probably getting the most fun part of the whole sweater out of the way first, and will probably be regretting this while I’m slogging through stockinette hell on the back, but there are just so many cool little construction details in this sweater I’m hoping it’ll still be fun even when the cables are done.


Practical Demonkeeping – Christopher Moore

Read for the 2010 TBR Lite Reading Challenge.

Christopher Moore’s books tend to feature a figurative cast of thousands of people with seemingly disparate lives, who collide into some sort of climax at the end of the book.

In Practical Demonkeeping, we have Travis, who accidentally summoned the demon Catch, and is traveling around the country trying to keep Catch from killing too many people, who finds his way to the small California town of Pine Cove. In Pine Cove, we find the Breeze, a stoner trying to make it big in the drug world; Robert, newly dumped by his wife; Jenny, the wife, trying to figure out life without Robert; Augustus Brine, the manager of the local find foods store; Rachel, leader of the local Pagan Vegan society, and a host of other people. Travis and Catch’s arrival in Pine Cove is not accidental, and touches off a whole series of events.

This was Moore’s first novel. I seem to have accidentally been working my way in a generally backward direction through his work, and the more I read, the more I realize I prefer his newer books. There’s an element of humor in the newer work that’s missing in the older, and Moore’s mad-cap, frenetic pacing needs that humor. I don’t want to say I hated this book, but I didn’t read it with nearly as much enjoyment as most of the other books of his I’ve read. I still have a few of the newer books left to read, and I suspect I’ll gravitate to them before finishing off the rest of his older works in my library.

Knitting Notes

Before I describe the above picture, I have to admit to a bit of knitting fail. I bought the yarn to start the Star Crossed Slouchy Beret two weekends ago, but didn’t realize I’d need needles I didn’t already own to start it. Thus the week delay in casting it on. Well, I did the ribbing, and realized I needed yet another size of needles (one size up from the ones I just bought) that I don’t own. In a fit of what I can now say was complete stupidity, knowing that I generally need to go up a needle size if I’m trying to get gauge, which I had not done with this pattern, I decided to keep going with the needles I’d just bought. Needless to say, in what should come as a surprise to no one who knits, including me, I got most of the way through the hat, and it doesn’t fit. So, that’s on hold for the moment until I can make it to the store, and buy yet another set of new needles, at which point I’ll frog what I’ve already done. Yes, I am an idiot.

Back in another moment of knitting fail, I’d cast on the Cabled Swing Cardi by Norah Gaughan that’s in The Knitter’s Book of Yarn. This was back when I was trying to find a project for my Fibre Company Organik yarn, and I cast in during a moment of truly terrible math. I was all the way through the bottom ribbing before sense returned. But I was really sad to frog that ribbing. So I decided that would be my next sweater project. I was surfing around about a week ago, and stumbled upon a really great deal on Classic Elite Renaissance in the Webs closeouts. I decided on a lovely red colorway, which arrived on Saturday, and thus you have the above picture. With my track record on sweaters, I probably won’t finish it in time to wear it this season, but I harbor a secret hope of finding the will power to manage that. We’ll see how it goes.

The 2010 Complete Booker Challenge

In a further effort to diversify this year’s reading, I’ve decided to do the 2010 Complete Booker Challenge. In reading through the prize-winners, short lists and long lists from years past, I was surprised to see how many Booker nominees I’ve read, considering I feel like I don’t read very much “straight” fiction. This made me feel a bit better about my reading habits, and made me realize this challenge certainly shouldn’t be that onerous a departure from my normal habits.

After scouring my TBR pile, I’ve decided to do the Long List challenge, which is to read at least six books from past years’ long lists during the year. For the moment, I’ve decided to pick from the following:

The Welsh Girl – Peter Ho Davies
The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time – Mark Haddon
Nick Hornby – How to Be Good
The Stone Carvers – Jane Urquhart
Black Swan Green – David Mitchell
Havoc, in Its Third Year – Ronan Bennett
The Light of Day – Graham Swift
The Mulberry Empire – Philip Hensher

Knitting Notes

I’ve cast on a Star-Crossed Slouchy Beret in the Fibre Company’s Canopy Worsted, in the Yerba Mate colorway. I was hoping to use Malabrigo Worsted, which is what the pattern called for, and I knew that my LYS had had a great selection when I was in there before Christmas. Well, apparently it was a good Christmas seller, because there was nary a fiber to be seen when I was in there last weekend. So instead, I grabbed the Canopy Worsted. I’ve worked with the Canopy in fingering weight before, and really enjoyed it, and so far, the Worsted is equally enjoyable.

The Hunter’s Moon – O. R. Melling

Read for the 2010 YA Reading Challenge.

Findabhair and Gwen are sixteen year old cousins, planning a trip around Ireland when Gwen comes over from the US to visit for the summer. The two girls have always loved the stories of the Fair Folk and the Summer Realm that exists alongside our own. It’s their plan to visit the sites in Ireland where the Fair Folk once roamed. Their first night, they sneak into Tara, and get more adventure than they bargained for when Findabhair is kidnapped by the King of the Fairies. It’s up to Gwen to rescue her, and her search brings her all over Ireland, and brings her all kinds of adventures.

This was a fun read. I’d say it’s on the chick-lit side of YA reading, with a heavy emphasis on relationships, but there’s also great detail about the places that Gwen visits in Ireland (several of which I have visited, and the descriptions, of the Burren especially, put me right back there). The Fair Folk are true to form – they often come across as immortal teenagers – and they are treated with respect by the author. I’d recommend this to anyone that enjoys Celtic folklore, and can stand a bit of teenage angst on the side.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Crossover Rib Socks from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks
Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll Sock Yarn in the Merlot Heather colorway
Needles: 1.5 DPNs

My Christmas knitting is done! My third skein of the sock yarn for C’s socks came in way too late to get them done for Christmas, but he was rather amused by my error, so it worked out in the end. I will now not underestimate the power of increasing and decreasing patterns to devour yarn.

Yarn issues aside, this is a great, easy pattern, and would have gone quite quickly if I’d been able to do it in one feel swoop. Were there not dozens of other patterns in that book that I haven’t made yet, I’d happily consider doing this one again.

I can also recommend the Knitpicks Stroll (formerly Essential) yarn. It has a nice feel to it while knitting. Hopefully it’ll wear well.

So I’m now down to just a scarf left on the needles. Well, and with yarn for two hats I bought this weekend. And an order for a sweater’s worth of yarn on its way. I guess I can make it one night with only one unfinished project. After that, only the need to set up the yarn winder and swift will determine how long I can keep myself from casting something new on.

Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits – Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson

Read for the 2010 YA Reading Challenge.

I’ve had this book on my radar since 2004, when I saw Robin McKinley speak at my local Borders after her novel Sunshine was published. At the time, she’d mentioned that her husband had finished his contributions to their book about fire, but her story ideas kept having the nasty habit of blowing up into full blown novels. Sunshine was one of those ideas, and her next novel, Chalice, could very well be one as well, as it features a fire priest. Apparently, she finally managed to keep a few stories short, as Fire finally came out late last year.

This book features five stories, three from Dickinson, two from McKinley. If that seems lopsided in number, the final story in the book, which is McKinley’s, is a novella taking up a full third of the book.

I liked Dickinson’s stories, but McKinley is definitely my favored author in this partnership. My favorite story of Dickinson’s was “Phoenix”, a story of the phoenix being found in England, and how that effects the lives of the people touched by this mythical bird.

“Hellhound” is the shorter of McKinley’s stories. It’s set on a horse farm, where Miri has turned eighteen, and has become a full partner in the family business. She’s also finally able to add her own selection to the family menagerie, and promptly heads off to the pound to adopt a dog. What she finds is a curious looking dog with red eyes. Despite how initially scary he looks, she brings him home and names him Flame. Flame manages to make himself very useful by saving the life of Miri’s brother, and the story ends with what could be the beginning of many more stories.

“First Flight” is the longest story in the book. It’s the story of Ern, the third, runty son in his family, who by tradition should be apprenticed to a wizard, but doesn’t believe he’s capable of something so grand. His oldest brother, Dag, is a cadet at the dragon rider’s academy, and Ern is drawn into events there that prove his abilities to everyone, but most importantly, to himself. This story made me forgive everything that annoyed me about McKinley’s novel Dragonhaven. I wish this one had ended up as a full novel instead. The cast of characters is enchanting, and I enjoyed Ern’s journey to adulthood much more than Jake’s. I’ll now put Dragonhaven behind me as a fluke in an otherwise excellent body of work. I know McKinley doesn’t often do sequels, but I’d be happy to see one of this story.

Graphic Novels Reading Challenge 2010

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but one of the first signs I had that my BF was “the one” is his abiding love of fantasy novels. His favorite author list often overlaps mine. What I found out not much later is that he’s an even bigger comic/graphic novel fan (you have to see his collection to believe it). I know his taste is impeccable, and I’ve been meaning to read more of the graphic novels he’s been trying to press on me for years now. (I’ve at least managed to get all the way through Sandman. I’d have been a tasteless idiot not to devour that as quickly as possible.) So, in his honor, I’m going to participate in the Graphic Novel Challenge this year.

I’m going to aim for the Intermediate level, which is 3-10 books over the year. Based on my To Read list from LibraryThing, and knowing I’ve started and not finished a few series along the way, I know I’d like to read the following:

The next Lucifer book I need to read
The next Fables book I need to read
Runaways, Vol 1. – Brian K. Vaughn
Astonishing X-Men, Vol 1.: Gifted – Joss Whedon
Astro City: Life in the Big City – Kurt Busiek
Girl Genius, Vol 1. – Phil Foglio

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2010

The closest I’ve come to a New Year’s resolution this year is to try and branch out from my comfort zone of fantasy, and read other genres. The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge plays into this semi-resolution beautifully. I’m actually a pretty big fan of historical fiction, but often forget to look for it, so this challenge should keep me honest in seeking it out this year.

I’m going to aim for the Fascinated level of the challenge, which is to read six historical fiction books in 2010. However, since I don’t need a set list beforehand, I may try for the Addicted level, which is 12 books.

Based on my TBR pile and the top of my Booksfree queue, my preliminary list is:

Carter Beats the Devil – Glen David Gould
Mollie Peer – Van Reid
The Beduin’s Gazelle – Frances Temple
Twilight of Avalon – Anna Elliott
The Convenient Marriage – Georgette Heyer
Kristin Lavransdattar: Volume 1 The Wreath – Sigrid Undset