Rodzina – Karen Cushman

Rodzina is originally from Poland, but came to America so young that all she remembers is Chicago.      She had a wonderful family, but through a series of accidents and illness, she’s now left an orphan.    One of the local orphanages finds her on the street, and puts her on an orphan train heading west.     She and other orphans are there to find new families.

This is a wonderfully written little slice of late 19th century American life.     The other orphans are great characters, and the little interludes in the various places they stop are interesting studies in life in the west.    Rodzina does ultimately find herself a home, and it’s a satisfying journey.


Eye of the Tempest – Nicole Peeler

In the further adventures of Jane True, Jane’s back in Rockabill, where she and her friends are promptly attacked by regular humans with guns.     Jane manages to pull enough power to save herself and her friends, but it puts her in a coma for a month.

By the time she wakes up, it’s clear that even greater forces than the minions of the local, now exposed as evil Elf queen, are in play, and Jane has to figure out what’s going on.    I rather like her local discovery (the reason behind the Old Sow whirlpool).

The gatheringless ending interludes where Jane gets a running commentary from her libido are starting to wear a bit thin.    But things are getting interesting on the real story front, so I think I can ignore those.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Fishies by Jackie Ziegler
Yarns: various DK and Worsted weights
Needles: Size 3 DPNs

Stash busting, part deaux!

This is a fun little pattern.    I’ve been able to use up a number of little ends of yarn that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have been able to use.     These are stuffed with cotton, but if I can verify that cats actually like them, I might make some more stuffed with catnip.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Hand Spring Fingerless Mitts by Micol Day
Yarn: Tess’s Designer Yarns Superwash Merino Lace
Needles: 1.5 DPNs

Here’s another attempt at stash busting.     I had a fair amount of this lace weight yarn left over, and when I found a mitt pattern that actually used lace weight, I had to try it.   If you look carefully, you’ll see I flaked and forgot to add ribbing to the top of the second one before I bound it off, but these are for me, so I’ll live.    And actually, I kind of like that top better, I think.

What I really appreciated about this pattern was the way the designer laid out the chart.      It was really set up well for a beginner – she added side markings so you could keep track of where you were, and where there were other things going on in particular rows.      I didn’t actually need that extra help, but I think this would make a great pattern for someone starting out with charts, with the way she set it up.    (And there are even two copies of the chart in one page, since you’re making two mitts.   No need to make an extra copy.)

I do think if I made these again, I wouldn’t increase the thumb gusset quite so much.    I realize I do have relatively skinny fingers, but that thumb is just huge on me.   (I actually could make these again – I have enough of this yarn left.)

Blameless – Gail Carriger

Alexia Maccon is back living with her mother and sisters after her husband has kicked her out of their house.    There’s the small matter of her being pregnant, which shouldn’t be possible, since Lord Maccon is a werewolf.    Alexia knows that he’s the father, but has to figure out how to convince him (and he meanwhile, is getting roaring drunk and leaving the running of his pack to Prof. Lyall, his Beta.)

So, it’s off to Italy, by way of France.    Once there, Alexia falls in with the Templars, who are able to give her information on the child, despite the fact they’d prefer not to speak to her, since she doesn’t have a soul.

These books have definitely grown on me.     They’re just so madcap, and Alexia has such a dry sense of humor, I can’t help but like them.

Sewing Notes

It’s another snowy day, and I still had fabric sitting on top of my sewing kit for potential projects I’d mapped out back in December.     So to gift bag sewing I went.     I’ve done enough of these recently that I winged the cutting on these.     And I gusseted some, and not others.    The final green three, I even sewed assembly line fashion.

This means I’m now done with enough gifts bags to cover my knitted stash, with a couple left over.

So I need a new sewing project.   I should probably attempt another clothing pattern muslin.

Quilting Notes

I had a little bit of time last week to finish off the binding my seaside quilt.    Side bonus: it was lovely having an extra layer on my lap during the depths of the ridiculous cold we’ve been having.

I probably should have finished this off in 2013, since I only had the binding to go, but binding definitely takes a concentrated time to sit down and plow through, and that didn’t happen until 2014.

If I Pay Thee not in Gold – Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey

Xylina is a Manzonite, but not a very good one.    While her skills at magic are strong, she’s not much of a warrior, unlike her famous mother, who sadly passed away, leaving Xylina destitute.

She’s reached the end of the time where she has to do the Challenge that will either confirm her as a woman, and a full citizen, or kill her.      The challenge is to subdue a man in the arena.   Because she’s put off the challenge so long, she has to choose from the hardened slaves, and ends up with Faro, who hates all Manzonite women.     Fortunately, her skill at conjuring leads to Faro respecting her very much, and she wins the challenge.

Unfortunately, her skill in conjuring attracts the notice of the Queen, because Xylina is the one person in Mazonia that could challenge the Queen and take her throne.   So Adria sends Xylina off on a hopeless quest.

Peirs Anthony apparently came up with this story idea, and Mercedes Lackey actually wrote it (a long time ago, since she’s the one coming up the story ideas these days).    Finding that out at the end of the book definitely explained a few things to me.    I like the characters in the book – they were really well drawn, and fairly sympathetic.    But some of the story features were idiotic.    I mean, Mazonia?    You want to conjure the image of Amazons, but not actually use the name?    You couldn’t come up with something a little less obvious?    The name thing definitely set the tone for me.    The relationships in this book could only have been thought of by a man.

This book definitely reconfirmed my decision to stop reading Piers Anthony after I left middle school…

Knitting Notes

I figured I’d start out the year using up some old yarn, so here are some Hexipuffs using my Claudia’s Fingering Handpainted Silk 55 yarn.    I’d had it separate from the rest of fingering weight leftover stash since it has so much silk in it, but it occurred to me it would still be fine for hexipuffs, and will bring a nice shot of color into what is otherwise a set of fairly dark, or at least cool, colors in the rest of the hexipuffs.

I also cast on these Handspring mitts, using Tess’ Superwash Merino lace.     Finding a mitt pattern in lace weight was cool – I have some definitely chunks of lace weight yarn that aren’t big enough to make most traditional shawl, scarf, etc patterns, but will work perfectly for this sized project.

Lady Friday – Garth Nix

In this latest book of The Keys to the Kingdom, Arthur is going after the fifth piece of the Will in Lady Friday’s realm in the Middle House.    It’s basically anything having to do with printing, including a river of words where everyone has to wear clothes made of paper with moveable text to protect themselves from the water.    As a book lover, I loved that touch.

It also turns out that Superior Saturday has taken over Lady Friday’s lands, so Arthur gets his first taste of fighting her.

On the side, Arthur’s friend Leaf has been taken to another planet where Lady Friday is holed up, “experiencing” the lives of people she’s kidnapped from Earth, including Leaf’s aunt, and possibly Arthur’s mother.     This experiencing takes the memories from people, leaving them sleeping shells.     Leaf needs to figure out a way to get to Arthur so he can come help her save the kidnapped people.

The plot is definitely moving into high gear, with only two books left in the series, and the searching and fighting for the pieces of the Will are growing more fierce.   I definitely can’t wait to see what happens when Superior Saturday actually arrives on the scene.