Knitting Notes

For my next project, I’ve cast on Cookie A’s Flicker socks (a pattern I was given in a long ago swap) with my Knit Picks Risata yarn, in the Fairytale Colorway.     Yet another yarn in my stash that turns out to discontinued.   I didn’t realize my stash was getting so old.


Knitting Notes

Pattern: Fino Scarf by Jocelyn Tunney
Yarn: Schaffer Audrey in the Dian Fossey colorway
Needles: size 6 circs

I more or less used this pattern as a base.    I added a provisional cast on, but ended up using a three needle bind off to finish it off, because it was just easier.   I suppose grafting would have looked nicer, but this was at least easier than mattress stitch.

I love this yarn.   I’m really bummed the company has closed down.    I think I would have stocked up on more if I’d known that was going to happen.    On the other hand, I don’t really need to increase my stash that much, so I guess it’s probably not a bad thing I didn’t have prior warning.

The Lantern Bearers – Rosemary Sutcliff

Aquila is a Decurian in the Roman calvary in Britain –not a Legionnaire, as the Legions have been gone from Britain for decades.     When his unit too is summoned back to Rome, marking the end of Roman presence in Britain, Aquila knows that he’s of Britain, and must stay.     Leaving the legion behind, he returns home.     The rest of Aquila’s story leads to spoilers, but I will say that he encounters Saxons, Celts and the remains of the Romanized British as they try to figure out who will rule England.

This story is set in the late 4th century, the waning days of the Roman empire’s presence in the British Isles.    Based on some of the reading I’d done around the historical basis of Arthurian legend, a number of  the larger characters were familiar to me – the Celtic King Vortigen, the Saxons Hengest and Horsa, and Ambrosius Aurelianus, one of the great Romano-British rulers.     Ambrosius is often linked to King Arthur, often as an uncle.

But this story is about the power vacuum that developed after the Romans left, and one man’s struggle to figure out where he fits in it.    It’s a compelling story, and Aquila’s journey is an interesting one.

Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli

The first day of Leo’s junior year in high school, there’s a new girl at school.     Her name is Stargirl (well, really, it’s Susan, but she takes a new name whenever it suits her).    She’s been home schooled up until now, and it shows – she’s a total free spirit, and has no idea of all the social rules that it takes to fit in at school.    Not that she really cares – Stargirl knows who she is, likes who she is, and brings the entire school along with her on the wild ride.

This is a such a sweet story – it’s all about fitting in, but also how you start to learn to be yourself in high school, and that fitting in isn’t the be all end all of your life.    I feel like it’s a bit of a throwback to before YA lit became a thing – when younger books had a more optimistic outlook.       This is definitely a message book, but it’s one that won’t bring you down in the end.

Music and Silence – Rose Tremain

This is one of those books that have about six different threads going on, weaving around a central theme, which is in this case, is love.

The true, historical backdrop: Christian IV was king of the Denmark in the 16th century.    He’s still the longest reigning king, and is remembered for a number of reforms he brought to the country.   After his first wife died, he fell in love with Kirsten Munk, a beautiful young women 21 years his junior.     Her mother managed to arrange for the king to marry Kirsten, but because it was outside of the church, she was never made Queen, and eventually bored of the king, and took up with a German nobleman.    This book is set during the year that Christian finds out what Kirsten is doing.

The fictional portion: Peter Claire is a lute player from England, newly arrived to play in the king’s orchestra.    He also resembles a dear childhood friend of the king, now deceased, which makes the king bring Peter into his confidences.

At the same time, a young women named Emilia Tilsin, whose father’s lands border Kirsten Munk’s mother’s lands, comes to Rosenburg to be Kirsten’s companion.    She’s escaping her home, where her mother has died, and her new stepmother seems bent on destroying all memories of her husband’s first wife.

Peter and Emilia meet, and fall head over heels in love.   Unfortunately, Kirsten is shortly thereafter exiled from Rosenburg, and Emilia is sent along with her.    Whether or not Peter and Emilia can ever be together becomes the central question of the story.

The story is multi layered – I can’t possibly capture the complexity of what happens – it all seems so simple when I try to write it out, but it’s definitely not.      I really enjoyed the book, partially because this is a slice of history I’m not familiar with, and Christian’s story is an interesting one.

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

After my slight disappointment with Shiver, I’ll admit I was a little leery of picking up another Maggie Stiefvater book, but I’ve heard such great things about her (hi, Jenn!), I gave her another go when The Scorpio Races came up as an Amazon Kindle special.     I’m definitely glad I did – I liked this story a lot more than Shiver.

Set on the fictional island of Thisby, which I imagined as one of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, both Sean and Puck have lost parents to the capaill uisce, the water horses that come ashore at certain times of the year, and hunt on the island.  Puck’s parents actually died in their fishing boat, hunted by a capall uisce, but Sean’s father died racing them.

The Scorpio races are held once a year, where men on the island try and tame a capall.     Sean is the best man on the island.  In a race where men die every year, he has a remarkable ability to sense what the horses are doing, especially Corr, who he’s trained from the day he was caught coming out of the sea.   But Corr belongs to the Malverns, who Sean works for, and the Malverns won’t sell him to Sean.

After Puck’s parents died, she and her brothers have continued to live in the family home, assuming it was paid for.    But her parents still owed money to the Malverns, and Benjamin Malvern has decided that it’s now due.   So Puck hatches a rather desperate plan to enter the races, and if she wins, Malvern will give her the house.

At the same time, Sean makes an agreement with Malvern that if he wins, Corr will be his.    And so the races begin, with Puck and Sean both desperately needing to win.

I really enjoyed this story.     It wasn’t YA-angtsy.   I also really liked this version of the water horses – it’s not necessarily true to any of the various legendary versions, but it’s a very satisfying portrayal.    So Stiefvater’s back on my watch list.

Newt’s Emerald – Garth Nix

Lady Truthful Newington is turning eighteen, and her father has decided to mark the occasion with a viewing of the Newington Emerald.    The Emerald has been in the family for centuries, and is a powerful magical tool for the women of the family.    It’ll be Truthful’s when she’s twenty one.

The viewing happens during  a storm and when the lights are knocked out, someone steals the Emerald.  Now it just so happens that Truthful will be shortly heading to London, where her Great Aunt Ermintude is going to shepherd her through her first Season, so she heads to London early, and with Aunt Ermintude’s help, hits open a plan to dress as a man while she searches for the Emerald.

This book is set in Regency times, but don’t expect a strictly Regency story – I’m quite sure no self-respecting Regency Lady would have dreamed of dressing up as a man, even if it was to track down a jewel of such importance.     What you can expect, is a really good adventure.    Truthful is fun, and the other characters she runs into are great additions to the story.    Granted, I was just so happy to run into something new by Garth Nix, I was already ready to love it.

Besh Ba Gowah, Globe, Arizona



While we were at Tonto, we were chatting with another couple, and they mentioned the Besh Ba Gowah ruins in Globe.     They’re a bit off the main route, so we had never seen any signs, but they’re worth seeking out if you’re in the area.

The site is run by the city, and they have a tiny museum.  You can watch an orientation video (worth it), and they have a room filled with finds from the ruins.    There’s a great collection of pottery, in really good shape – it’s definitely worth checking out.

These ruins are also Salado, but are larger than Tonto, probably housing a couple hundred people.   Sadly, they were excavated before WWII, and were abruptly abandoned due to the war, so there has been some decay of the walls.     They have rebuilt a few things to give you an idea of the scale.   (And how dark it was inside those dwellings – I had really no idea.)

This is definitely a neat little place – I highly recommend it to anyone that makes it out to Globe.

Roosevelt Lake and Dam, Roosevelt, Arizona




To get to Tonto, you take Route 60 from Phoenix, up to Globe.     That drive takes you over the Gonzalez pass.    We’d done this trip before, but from the opposite direction, and it was at night, so we’d missed the scenery.    The mountains are strikingly beautiful, but what’s even more striking is when you get closer to Globe, and see the mines carved into the sides of the mountains there.     I’m not sure how I actually feel about strip mining, but the results are certainly striking.

Once you turn off onto State Route 188, the Salt River Valley opens up in front of you.      No camera will ever be able to do justice to that sight, but I’ve included a couple of pictures above as a reminder.    There are certain things you just have to store in your memory banks, and the Roosevelt Lake is one of them.     It’s such an amazing landscape.

Tonto National Monument, Roosevelt, Arizona












The last time we were in Arizona, at the end of our rather epic journey along the Apache Trail, we passed the entrance to the Tonto National Monument.     It was closed at the time, so while it mentioned cliff dwellings, we had to look it up later to see what it involved.

Turns out, there are two sets of dwellings, the Upper Dwellings, which are visible from the road if you’re taking 188 in from Globe (we were going the opposite direction in our initial trip) – which you can see in the second two pictures above.    They’re also harder to get to, so you have to book a guided trip to get there.    It’s enough of a hike that we decided against that for this go.

The Lower Dwellings are accessible from the visitor’s center.    It’s a nicely paved path, with a bit of an incline, but not really a bad hike at all.     We actually arrived at the same time as two classes of fourth graders, so I figure if they can do it without complaint, it can’t be that bad.

The views from this place are spectacular.    It looks out over Roosevelt Lake, which at the time it was built would have been the Salt River valley (it was built in the 13th century).     The people that built it are named for that river (the Salado – our name for them, as they were gone by the time Europeans arrived in the area).     Apparently, around 40 people lived in this set of dwellings, which I admit is hard to wrap your head around when you think about the size of our modern houses.

One really neat thing – you can still see the hand prints of the people that plastered the walls (the last picture) – I’ll admit that was probably my favorite thing to see there.