Taliesin – Stephen R. Lawhead

Here’s another reread – this is a five book series (The Pendragon Cycle) that I had read the first three books of back in high school, and then lost track of.  (It was originally the trilogy I read, but he then expanded it.)    I happened upon the last two used, so brought the rest out of storage to get reacquainted with the story.

This is an Arthurian cycle, but the first book is very much a precursor, a way to bring Atlantis and the Welsh bard Taliesin into the story.      In the first two sections, the chapters alternate between the stories of Charis, a princess of Atlantis, and Taliesin, the semi-mythic but historical Welsh bard.

Charis is the daughter of Avallach, one of the kings of Atlantis.     She has a touch of the sight, and she is able to save her father and some of her kin, even though barely anyone else will believe that she forseen the fall of Atlantis.     They find their way to Britain, and build the castle of Ynis Witrin – the Glass Isle, home of the Fisher King (you should now recognize Avallach’s name).    Oh, and did I mention that Charis has a jealous younger half sister named Morgian?

Taliesin is raised by King Elphin of Gwynedd, who found him as an infant in a salmon weir.    He was immediately recognized as a bard by the local druids – foreseen to be a great king of the Summerlands.    He does have many gifts, including the sight, where he at one point sees Charis, and names her the Lady of the Lake.

Charis and Taliesin eventually do meet, marry, and have a child – Merlin.    I’ll admit, that portion of the story didn’t work for me as well.    It’s probably partially because I already knew something that would happen at the end, and I think it made the rest seem rushed to me.      I also didn’t love how Taliesin converted over to the Christian faith very quickly, after a vision, which didn’t seem terribly Christian like to me.     I don’t know, that part just rang a bit weird to me.

Anyway, if you’re reading this book for the Arthurian stories, this one is a bit light on those, but it does have some important set up for some of what’s to come.


Knitting Notes

This is the sky scarf for the month of January.

I have to admit, I’m really enjoying this project.   I’m enjoying deciding on what color combination to use each day (I am slightly regretting not splitting the white ball – snow storms can be very not gray), and I really like being able to look back to see how things have changed through the month.   I’m so glad I happened across this project.

The Blizzard of 2015 – 1/27/15

Unlike the Blizzard of 2013, the Blizzard of 2015 didn’t happen on a weekend, and didn’t happen overnight so that we woke up to a perfectly sunny, photogenic winter wonderland waiting to be photographed before we cleaned it up.

While we did get less snow (24 inches vs 31), I liked this one less.

1.   It was on a Tuesday.    The interesting thing with that is that for the first time in the 35 years my boss has worked for our company, they preemptively closed the office on Monday afternoon.    So that was something.

2.   I have not been that coated in snow since the last time I purposefully rolled down a sledding hill.     So maybe middle school.

The wind was crazy.    We went out at about 4:30 to make a first pass.    It was about halfway through the storm, but at that point, we knew BF at least was probably going to have to go into work the next day.   All I did was the front steps, and help with the car (above).    He did all the snow blowing.     After which he immediately went inside and ordered a balaclava and ski goggles.
I today bought some heavy duty goretex/thinsulate wonder gloves that cost more than I usually spend on a full outfit.     Got to test them out in the dunes that are our driveway right now.    I have no regrets.

3.   It snowed again yesterday.    And is supposed to on Monday.   And maybe Wednesday.    Because I wasn’t running out of room in the yard for what we had already…     We’ll not even mention the state of snow removal in the city.

4.    We still have wind, and this stuff is so light and fluffy.   Which means it’s blowing everywhere.    It’s a fascinating experience to drive through.    Oh, and we’re supposed to get lows in -10 to -20 range next week, so it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Jacques Cousteau Hat by Lalla Pahjanpalo
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in the Glazed Carrots colorway
Needles:  Size 4 Circs and DPNs

BF has decided this is his favorite hat pattern.   Because it’s knit with smaller needles, the fabric is nice and thick, and therefore warm.    Because I had a little extra yarn to work with this time, I was able to make it a bit longer than the last one I made him, so he can fold it up, and still have it cover his ears.   (You can still see at the moment where I had a lifeline, in case I didn’t have quite enough yarn for the length I wanted.)

Coincidentally, I used the same yarn as the last time, just a different colorway.    I will say, it’s fantastically hard to photograph well.    It’s really not quite as bright as it keeps coming out in pictures.   Not that it’s not bright, but it actually has some nice depth to it that pictures seem to lose.

The Children of Kings – Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross

This is the latest Darkover book – a series I’ve been following for a long time (heck, it’s outliving the original author).

In this book, Prince Gareth Elhalyn is chafing a bit at the strictured life he has to live in Thendara as the heir to the throne of the Comyn (as well as being a member of the notoriously unstable Elhalyn family).     His grandmother, Lady Linnea Storn, understands what he’s going through, and when Gareth decide to venture out to the Dry Towns, because Lady Linnea knows she can’t stop him, she gives him what help she can.

The Dry Towns aren’t mentioned much in previous Darkover books –they’re more a threat on the horizon, a different part of Darkover that hate the Comyn lords.    Oddly enough, the most complete story about them is The Door Through Space, which isn’t technically considered a Darkover novel, as it was written early on while Bradley was writing these books, and she didn’t decide the Dry Towns were a part of Darkover until later.    (Darkover completist that I am, I do have a copy of it on the shelf next to the real books in the series.)    So it’s nice to see this part of Darkover dealt with in a story.

The story itself is a fairly standard young man goes to find himself in the desert and has adventures, mixed in with return of Offworlders, who had left Darkover when Gareth was very young.

There’s  a separate side story about Linnea’s oldest daughter, Kierestelli, who Linnea and her husband had had to hide away when she was young, and the World Wreckers had been trying to take out the families of Darkover’s ruling figures.     Stelli was lost to them at that time, and Regis and Linnea were never able to find her again.    Linnea accidentally stumbles upon Stelli, now called Silvana, who is the Keeper of Nevarsin Tower.     Silvana thinks her parents abandoned her, and wants nothing to do with Linnea.    Naturally, Silvana has a part to play in the larger story.

I could have taken or left Silvana’s part of the story.    It did seem a bit tacked on.    It does make me wonder if Bradley left a checklist of loose ends she wanted tied up, and Ross is just working them into stories as she goes along.      What did make me happy is that this story sets up the return of the Terranan, so there’s plenty of potential action, and hopefully more stories to come.

Knitting Notes

Here’s try three for an orange hat for the BF.   I’m doing him another Jacques Costeau hat, which I’m hoping to make a little longer than the last one so he has a little extra length to turn up.

I’d forgotten how much tighter the fabric is on this one, due to the size 4 needles.   No wonder the Fisher Hat seems so loose in comparison.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Honey Cowl by Antonia Shankland
Yarn: Sundara sock yarn in the Winter Twilight Colorway
Needles: Size 6 circs

Last year’s goof off cowl went much slower than this one did, I think because it was just stockinette.    All I did was the four row pattern repeat most nights, and it seemed to eat through yarn.   (Seriously – I got to a point where I decided to weigh the yarn so I could calculate how much a repeat used so I knew how much more I could use, and it turned out to be the second to last repeat.)

This is an interesting pattern, and it does look nice with this yarn, since the slipped stitches do interesting things to the color repeats.

The Essential Guide to Color Knitting – Margaret Radcliffe

I don’t often review craft books, because I don’t often read them cover to cover – what I buy are mostly technique or pattern books, and while parts of those are readable, reading the whole thing is usually only something a sadist would do.  I do occasionally make exceptions.

One area of knitting I haven’t explored in much depth is color work – mostly because the idea of working with multiple skeins of yarn at once is not something I’m terribly interested in.    However, I was listening to the Knit Picks podcast one day, and Kelly talked about this book, and what a wonderful resource it was.     She talked it up enough, I tracked it down, and added it to my Amazon wishlist.     Well, guess what was in the year end blow out DIY themed Kindle Daily Deal day shortly after Christmas?     For 1.99 (maybe 2.99 – a steal either way), I couldn’t resist.

And this is a really good resource.    The author does touch on the more complicated color work with multiple skeins of yarn that I’ve been avoiding, but starts out with color theory, and ways to more strategically play with color in your knitting.     She even ends with a chapter on designing with color.     I’d say it’s a good read for any knitter that wants to better understand how to pick their own colors for making knitwear.

To Ride Pegasus – Anne McCaffrey

This is technically a reread – I was cleaning out my stored books, and came across the omnibus this was a part of.     I’d read it so long ago I figured it was time to revisit and figure out if I still wanted to keep it around.

Holy product of the 70s, batman!   The book is actually four novellas brought together, and one of them – “A Womanly Talent” has not aged well at all.    There was a point where I became acutely embarrassed that it was written by a woman, because holy-god-the-sexism!     I’m actually holding off from reading the other book in the omnibus just to give myself a little palette cleanser.    (I actually picked up two paperbacks of the books, because it would take up less room than the omnibus, and they were both on Bookmooch.    The cover for this one is also awful – definite 70s edition, and the women just look ridiculous.)

The basic background to this stories is that it’s pretty much present day today (so nearish future to when they were originally written), and people have finally figured out how to scientifically measure and quantify psychic talents like telepathy and telekinetics.    The four novellas in this book tell four distinct stories of people with these Talents, and how they eventually band together, both for recognition of these Talents, but also for protection from the non-talented, who are naturally afraid of them.    I still really love the concepts behind this, but some of the writing really doesn’t hold up.

Knitting Notes

I got all the way to the end of the Turbine hat, and had BF try it on before I actually finished it and cut any yarn, and it was way too small.     So that’s frogged, and awaiting a new plan.

Coincidentally, he realized that while he doesn’t always love the stretchiness of the knit hat I’d made him a couple of winter ago, he does like how warm it is.    And since I made them in exactly the yarn (Malabrigo Rios), he has a good demo of how pattern actually does effect the warmth of the fabric.    So it looks like I’ll be making  a very orange Jaques Costeau hat.    But that’ll be waiting just a bit – I really cruised along on the Honey Cowl, so I think I’ll finish that before casting on something new.