House of Many Ways – Diana Wynne Jones

This book is billed as the sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle, but it actually takes a little while for Howl and Sophie to make an appearance.   Instead, the main character is a young woman named Charmain, who has been drafted to mind her Great-Uncle’s house while he’s away being  cured of some unnamed illness.    Turns out, Great-Uncle William is a wizard of some repute, which Charmain knows nothing about, because her mother doesn’t think it’s proper.     But his house turns out to be filled with rooms, some existing it different times, and with links to different places.

At the same time, Charmain has been trying to get a job at the Royal Library, and she’s given the opportunity to help the King while his daughter is away.     They’re trying to find some missing gold, and that’s where Sophie and Howl come in.  Princess Hilda has asked Sophie to come and help with the search, and Howl sneaks along disguised as a small boy.

There’s a lot afoot in this search for the missing gold, and it turns out to be related to Great-Uncle William’s mysterious illness.    Charmain ends up being the one person that can save the day.

This is a charming story, and I definitely enjoyed visiting with Sophie, Howl and Calcifer again.


Knitting Notes

Pattern: Brownie by Woolly Wormhead
Yarn: Classic Elite Renaissance
Needles: Size 6 DPNs

My Christmas knitting is done!   And before Thanksgiving even!

I really enjoyed this pattern.    You start out knitting the brim flat, and then graft the ends together, and pick up stitches to get the crown.   The spiral effect on that was pretty fun to do, which is impressive, considering it’s seed stitch based, and that is normally SO BORING!

There’s an ear flap in the pattern as well, which I skipped this time, as it brought it a little further away from the silhouettes of the hats I knit for L’s parents.   (This is for my niece.)

Sewing Notes


I had yesterday off, and since we had a lovely nor’easter going on, and my family’s Thanksgiving festivities are on Friday this year, I didn’t really have anything I had to do.    So I did a lot of chores.   Including some clean out the sewing basket things.   I made the backing for the quilt I put together last weekend, and made a few more gift bags.

I was also planning on trying some paper piecing, but found I didn’t like what I had picked out at backing fabric.     So, that’ll be pending my trip to Joann’s this weekend (for the Black Friday sale, woo!).

Quilting Notes

Here’s today’s project: a crib sized Yellow Brick Road quilt top from some sea themed fabrics I picked up a couple years ago.    This is something like the fourth or fifth time I’ve used this pattern – it’s deceptively complex looking, but is actually just strip quilting.

I took Carol Doak’s Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing class on Craftsy, and while I’ve yet to do some paper piecing (there’s some pondering a foot), I did use one tip.    She recommended basting together the blocks at the joins before actually joining the quilt, and I did that while joining the long strips.   It works really well- gives stability to those long seams over and above what pinning will do, and ensures the corners of the blocks actually match up.

Sprig Muslin – Georgette Heyer

Some of Georgette Heyer’s books have a certain air of authenticity of the time they’re set in.    This is not one of them.

Sir Gareth Ludlow is on the way to totally flub up a marriage proposal (the whys are not important.  It’s immediately clear he and Lady Hester will eventually be engaged) when he happens upon the young Amanda “Smith”, who has run away from her grandfather because he won’t let her marry her one true love.

Sir Gareth, being an honorable man, does his best to figure out how to get Amanda home, but she’s stubborn, and isn’t giving him many clues about her real identity, and keeps trying to run away.    Eventually, Sir Gareth gets shot, Amanda has to summon Lady Hester, everyone’s family’s find them, and we all live happily ever after.

This book is just mad cap.     Only way to describe it.    Would absolutely have never in a billion years happened in Regency times, but it’s still a fun story.

Knitting Notes

I’ve got two projects going at the moment.   The above is Woolly Wormhead’s Brownie Hat, which will complete my trifecta of hats for my older brother’s family.     It’s a fun pattern so far.    The brim is knit flat, and grafted together at the end, and I picked up the stitches for the crown last night.

I’m using what is hopefully the last of the Classic Elite Renaissance yarn of any real size.   It’ll be down to pieces when this is done.

For my brainless stockinette “I don’t want to have to think about it” project, I’ve cast on the Fino Circle Scarf by Jocelyn Tunney.     I’m using my Schaffer Audrey in the Dian Fossey colorway, and when adding that to the project, I discovered Schaffer had retired.    So sad!   I loved those colorways, the yarn bases were divine too.

I’ve made one modification already – a provisional cast on.    I’m probably going to be lazy and do the three needle cast off when I get to that, but I think that’ll still look better than mattress stitch.    Not that I expect to get to the end of this any time soon.     There’s lots of stockinette, and lots of nearly lace weight yarn.

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Ok.  I totally get why these books are the next big thing.    There’s a love triangle, but it actually makes sense, so you’re not finding yourself rooting for the guy you know will lose.    (Honestly, I don’t know who to root for.)   There’s a revolution starting, and that also makes sense.   And the heroine is totally kick ass.

I’m now somewhat regretting my decision to only get these books used.    I really want to know what happens in Mockingjay.

Knitting Notes

Another sock yarn skein done.    This was the Three Irish Girls Beckon Merino in the Silver Bay colorway.    I’d gotten it through the yarn club, so I actually had about a skein in a half, because we’d gotten a bonus amount.    I made another pair of Fallberry Mitts (love that pattern), and three more hexipuffs.

I’ve now got a couple hats for Christmas gifts in mind, as well as a stash busting scarf.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet – Salman Rushdie

At first blush, this book is the story of the love triangle of Ormus Cama, Umeed ‘Rai’ Merchant and Vina Apsara.    Rai is the story’s narrator, which starts at the very seminal moment of Vina’s death.    From there, Rai takes us back to the childhood of the three in India.   For various reasons, they all leave, and end up in America, where Rai becomes a photographer, and Ormus and Vina become VTO – one of the most famous rock groups in the world.

What’s not apparent at the beginning is that this is a slightly alternate history of the world, where President Kennedy wasn’t assassinated in Dallas, and various famous rock figures are slightly tweaked.    It’s an incredibly rich world, and the side characters are half the fun of the story.

I have to admit, part of the reason I wanted to read this book is that I really love the U2 song that was taken from it (also titled ‘The Ground Beneath Her Feet’).    I wanted context, and it’s a really neat context, because it’s the song that Ormus writes to Vina after her death.    A very important song, because beneath everything else, what this story really is is Orpheus and Eurydice, and more than anything else, it’s Ormus’ search for Vina throughout their lives that drives the story.

I took quite a while to get through this book.   I’d initially picked it up on August, and then put it aside for my trip and RIP VIII season.     It’s my first Rushdie novel – and his writing is incredibly dense – just full of allusions and images.    It’s worth reading, but it definitely took me time to get through it.