Knitting Notes

Well, both of the projects I’ve started so far this year have been frogged.

In the case of the Blank Canvas sweater, even though I’m supposedly matching gauge, it was too big.    I’d gotten all they way to the chest and where you pause before making and attaching the sleeves, and it was just too big.    I did start the sleeves (I have figured out how to lengthen them),and those were also huge.    So I did some measurements, frogged the whole thing, and started over with the 40″ size.   (I had been doing 44″.)    So let’s so how that goes.

In the case of the Winter’s Fern hat, I got fairly far along, close to starting the shaping, and I just wasn’t loving the colors.    The two options I had for base yarns are just too light – I need to start this over again when I have something darker to use as the main color.

I’ve picked out another pattern I recently saw and really liked.    I’m about 98% sure what yarn I’d like to use, but it will require some swatching.     So I should get that wound, and at least swatched this week.    I probably won’t post anything until I’ve cast on the actual hat.


The Blue Sword – Robin McKinley

91248c38bd1b3ca593038325667434f414f4141I’ve been in the mood for comfort reading lately. I do have some weightier books also in progress, but I’m finding I can’t get through a 784 page book that’s not about the happiest themes in the world without breaks. (I don’t use this blog to get political, but I’m sure if you pay attention to my location, hints I’ve dropped about my background, and general likes, it’s not a stretch to figure out where I fall out on the recent elections.) I have read this book before, but lord only knows when – it could be anywhere from high school on.

This is one of my favorite of McKinley’s books. It’s wholly original (at least half her work is inspired by fairy tales and other folklore) – Harry Crewe goes to live in the desert frontier town her brother has been posted to in the colonies after their father dies. Harry’s background is very English colonial, and Damar, the land she finds herself in, has the definite stamp of the desert countries of our Middle East, but with magic, and women that are equal to the men.

For reasons it’s better to read about, the King kidnaps Harry, but treats her with all honor, and she quickly rises up into the ranks of the kingdom’s heroes. And it’s just in time, as the Northern Kingdom is invading, and threatens both the Damarians, and Harry’s people.

This sounds way more simplistic than this book actually is – it’s such a richer story than what I can convey, and I need to reread it more often. Comfort reading at its finest.

A Curious History of Cats – Madeline Swan

1904435793-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_This is an interesting compendium of facts about cats through history- starting with their domestication, and on through the years to the present day. There are a number of famous people, both cat lovers and cat haters, mentioned. There are also a number of interesting illustrations (all black and white sadly) of various art work through the ages depicting cats.

It’s not a bad book, but the biggest thing I took away from it is that it seemed like each chapter was one gigantic run on sentence. I mean, they were grouped logically by time period, but there was no flow. I know this isn’t narrative fiction, and I believe I’m willing to cut some slack in that department for non fiction, but this book just seemed like it needed a better editor.

The Star of Kazan – Eva Ibbotson

e27b7fc264b7025597273366777434f414f4141Annika was found by Sigrid and Ellie in a church in the mountains while the two were on their annual weekend away from their job as maid and cook for three professors in Vienna. A note asked to take the baby to the nuns in Vienna. But the nuns were under quarantine, and by the time that was lifted, Annika had already enchanted the entire household, and so she stayed.

Annika’s happy in her home, and everyone in the neighborhood adores her as she grows up there. But any girl will dream of meeting her mother, and one day, that mother appeared. Annika was suddenly a member of a noble German family, and was whisked off her mother’s estate. Once there, it’s clear that things aren’t quite what they seem.

There are no real surprises in this story – it’s a tale you’ve heard before. But it’s also a loving tribute to Vienna, and to horses, and asks some interesting questions about who your family really is, or should be. It’s a nice little YA book – I’d give it to my nieces in a heartbeat.

Fool – Christopher Moore

265dea0e4ccc049593271465467434f414f4141Fool tells the story of King Lear from the point of view of his Fool. (A character that does exist in the play – one of the things I found myself looking up to verify if I was remembering things correctly. I believe I last read King Lear in 1997 or 1998.)

Moore’s decided to go with a very, very foulmouthed version of a fool, who’s pretty much sleeping with every female character in the play. (He said the genesis of this book is that he wanted to write about a true English Fool, and remembered the Fool in King Lear after the initial idea.) I really couldn’t decide if I liked him or not. He certainly had a clear-eyed view of the goings on between Lear and his daughters, but he was so generally unpleasant that I’m not sure if I was supposed to like him or not. (I really have to go with not.)

I was also really curious what he was going to do with the ending, because Cordelia was the Fool’s favorite princess (the only one he hadn’t slept with), and we all know what happens to her in the real play. He definitely went in a direction I wasn’t completely expecting with the ending, and again, I’m not sure I like it.

I don’t know – I normally like the funny tone of Moore’s books, but this one didn’t quite do it for me. It’s not that it was bad – I guess the best I can say is that it wasn’t really to my taste.

Shades of Grey – Jasper Fforde

e12d7193b31891c59316e385967434f414f4141So some sort of unnamed thing happened, and the world has evolved into a society where everyone fits according to their abilities at color perception. Eddie Russet is on his way to the outer fringes, where his father has been tapped to replace the local swatchman (doctor, more or less), who recently died. Eddie’s just shy of his twentieth birthday, so hasn’t been rated yet, but he thinks his red perception is enough that he’ll be able to comfortably marry up spectrum.

It’s really hard to describe this book, because so much of it hangs on the world that Fforde’s created, which is rich, and complicated, and totally absurd, all at the same time. It’s mostly about Eddie discovering more than most people know about the Colortocracy, which sets up the possibility for some more stories down the line, as that’s explored more. This is very much a beginning book, one that shows a lot of promise.