Friday, January 27, 2012

Mustard Bandit

finished object friday

So, this has been a long time coming. I actually don't remember when I officially finished my Mustard Bandit Shawl, but I do remember that it was last year. It's been happy, finished, and blocked since then, but I just recently took a few photos of it.


The pattern was Springtime Bandit, an incredibly popular free pattern. I knit it out of Malabrigo sock- it was my first experience with Malabrigo, and let me just say, I understand what all the hype is about. The yarn was delightfully soft, and it had a great elasticity. Working with it was like knitting with butter, I really enjoyed it.

The first time I worked on it, I knit to the edging and realized that I wanted a larger shawl. Consequentially, I ripped back and knit an extra two repeats of the body section. I'm really happy with the size it turned out. It's absolutely perfect for how I wear my shawls: as a cross between a cowl and a bandana.


The above photo is a really good representation of that. I usually wear it tucked into my jacket with the ends crossed behind my neck, then tied loosely in the front to make sure it stays put. It covers my chest and neck thoroughly, and if I'm feeling particularly cold (or at least cold enough that I don't care if I look like a whackjob), I'll pull it up over my nose and pretend to be a highway bandit.


I knit a good chunk of this while listening to A Red Herring with Mustard, which was great. I don't ordinarily like knitting to charts- I actually sort of hate it. Give me a pattern I can easily memorize and I'm happy as can be. Thankfully, I managed to memorize the pattern reasonably quickly with this shawl, so it worked out pretty well. I like to use my knitting as an activity for my hands- not my brains. I bite my nails rather terribly, so keeping them occupied while I'm listening, or reading, or watching television, or really anything else does wonders to keep them out of chewing range (ew).


At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed this project. My biggest complaint is actually the edging. The leaf pattern is so lovely throughout the entire shawl, that the edging just feels like a cop out. I really wish it had an opportunity for bigger points. Unfortunately, even after I blocked the heck out of it, it still wound up as a wibbly straight edge. Since I cast off tightly, the edge also has the nasty habit of curling when I don't pay attention (as demonstrated by these photos. It's awfully difficult to style a shawl while trying to take a photo of yourself with the camera balanced precariously on top of a stack of boxes). While I'm pleased with the final product, the shawl edge pretty much ensures I'll never knit this pattern again.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Shop On Blossom Street

book review thursday

book review thursday I've been thoroughly enjoying the romance and chick lit genres of books lately. I think a lot of the reason is that I've been more stressed out and worried lately than usual. In high school, I read primarily memoirs and biographies. Before that, it was a lot of fairy tale inspired stuff. One of my favorite memories about high school was my involvement in a once a month book club. The book club helped me make sure I was reading in a variety of genres and really helped introduce me to a lot of great literature (and my best friend!). Now that I'm no longer involved, I've den finding it harder and harder to read anything other than fluff. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading fluff. I just miss reading books worth actual discussion.

All that being said, The Shop On Blossom Street was one of those fluffy, mindless books. I admit, I had never heard of the author before stumbling across this book. Judging by this book, there's a reason. While it wasn't terrible, the book definitely wasn't great.I wasn't engaged in any of the characters, and at thee d of the book, I was still either ambivalent or annoyed with them all. No sod the characters were given enough depth or realism to make them interesting. It was very much a token character ridden boom. Overall, it was very cliched and difficult to engage it. Each of the characters had their designated problems and resolutions- Jackie the snobby elitist, Alix the troubled punk, Carol the infertile workaholic, and Lydia the cancer survivor afraid of life- but it all seemed like a shell of character development.

I'm really rather apathetic as a whole about the entire experience. Like I said before, the book wasn't bad. I'm planning on reading the sequel, if only because I had already checked it out before I had finished The Shop On Blossom Street. I'm hoping that the characterization problems will improve.

(2/5 stars)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Deep Creek: Deep Dissatisfaction

finished object friday

Oh look, I'm on a roll! Two fridays in a row.

Okay, that was totally facetious. I took the photos at the same time and wrote the posts right after another. Let's just pretend I'm actually on top of things though, why don't we?


I knit a Deep Creek cowl to match my mom's Tread mittens for her birthday. I had the same problems with the yarn on this as well, as well as the added trouble of terrible stitch definition. Lesson learned. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran = bad.

I'm so not happy with the finished product on this one. The pattern was simple enough to understand (you know, once I actually read it. Apparently I made it to college without ever learning how to read), and went reasonably quickly. I only cast on 80 stitches to make a tighter fitting cowl because I had a thinner weight yarn than the pattern called for.


I'm just unsatisfied, I suppose. Hopefully mom will like it (because I certainly don't!).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How to Knit a Love Song

book review thursday

book review thursday If you're of the fibery persuasion and you love romance novels, drop everything right now and buy How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron. Is it Great Literature TM? No. Is it a great, fluffy read? Yes.

I could not wait to finish this book- it was a perfect balance between that and studying for my impending GMAT.

Abigail, the frightened knitter, who came to a recently inherited cottage encounters hostilities at every corner from Cade, the handsome cowboy who inherited the property surrounding Abigail's new safe-haven. While there were cliches and overused phrases (I think Abigail might have needed an inhaler for all of the gasping she did), I utterly fell in love with the characters. It was absolutely perfect get away from reality, and hit the syrupy sweet romance spot just right. I can't wait to read the rest of Rachael's books, I can definitely see some vacations from reality in my future.

Two thumbs up from me!

(5/5 stars)

Monday, January 9, 2012

I love me some oatmeal

make something monday

A make something Monday that isn't about food? Shocking


This is actually a ridiculously quick and easy project that I was inspired to do after the upteenth attempt to find a random knitting needle, as well as my hesitation to toss out my giant oatmeal container of dooooooom after it had been emptied. Basically, what I did was slap some pretty scrapbook paper and glue on random cylindrical containers and called it a "project".


The big one has my straight and circular needles (the circs mostly contained in their original packaging). I'm planning on eventually figuring out a better system for the circular needles, most likely a sewn over the door organizer, but that can wait until I both figure out how to use a sewing machine and acquire some more circular needles. The smaller container houses my DPNs, as well as my crochet hooks.

After my mom had seen my new storage system, she fished out her own empty cylindrical containers, so I have two more. One has all my odds and ends of yarn (scraps less than a few feet). I use them for stuffing, so they definitely needed to be wrangled into organization. The other container will be used for various knitting goodies such as stitch markers, row counters, and the like.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Girl with the Beekeeper's Tattoo

start something sunday

This isn't a true start-something-sunday post- unless you count actually updating my blog somewhat regularly. But it is a restart to something.

When I was little, I used to go to the movies all the time with my mom's best friend's husband. Skip is like a second dad to me. He's always willing to talk and offer guidance, as well as my mom and my go to date when we want to go somewhere and my father is being ornery. Skip went with my mom and me to see my favorite band perform on my eighteenth birthday. He was there to change my diapers when I was little, and he's always willing to try my dessert concoctions (barring any nuts or coconut that is). I always love spending time with him, so when I found out that he wanted to see the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I jumped at the chance to go with him. It was our first movie date in a long time, and it was nice getting a chance to do it like old times.

Well, except there was a lot less nudity, violence, and sexual content back in the old days.

In any case, I desperately needed something to bring along with me to the theater (sitting still for three hours? Can you image?!). Since it was a dine in theater, I knew I wasn't going to be any more of a distraction than the waiters frequenting the stairs. I need to look at a pattern for the Bella mittens, and I couldn't think of anything else I had on the needles. I was panicking while sifting through my queue for a project I could work on when I remembered my beekeepers blanket. I had set it aside about a month ago to work on projects that required deadlines, and it had completely fallen out of my memory. During the movie, I churned out four unpuffs and remembered how excited I was to knit on it.


Now I don't want to do anything but knit on it. This is probably mostly because my bella mittens require me to actually pay attention to the pattern (and they're a chunky weight yarn when I prefer to work at a DK weight or thinner). I'm trying (resigning myself, really) to putting the puffs away again. I'm sure they'll resurface when my classes start up again, but for now, I'll content myself with looking at the pretty puffs that are already finished.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tread Lightly

finished object friday

Finally! Another one of these! I've been finishing projects, I've just been terrible about taking photos of them. At any case, here's at least one.


I made these mittens for my mom's birthday. She, for some horrible reason loves the color orange. Even the dreaded burnt orange. It was horribly painful to knit these consequentially... Perhaps next year she'll get a much better pair in crimson.

All jokes aside, these really were a bit frustrating to knit. For one thing, I'm the queen of loose gauge, so I had to drop down to a size one needle to make these fit a normal human being. Even that wasn't quite enough- after knitting and frogging more times than I care to count, I finally cast on 34 stitches. I wasn't planning on knitting the fingerlings that were on the original pattern (called Treads), but if I had, it would been a total headache with math. Yikes. The pattern itself was lovely- extremely easy to understand, even the lateral braid section.


The yarn, on the other hand, was miserable. I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and it sucked. It fuzzed like crazy, and the balls it came in tangled like no other, as well as having several portions where one or two of the plies were broken. I hated working with it. Really, I would have been happier with the entire experience if I had simply used Caron Simply Soft- at least the quality is reflected in the price. The Cashmerino Aran is a yarn I will never purchase again.


All in all, I really think my mom will love these. She saw me working on them and repeatedly asked me if they were for her ("No. It's a tea cozy." was my most frequent response), so I'm taking that as a good sign. Besides, even if she doesn't like it, I certainly do! And I could always overdye them out of that hideous color...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Living Dead in Dallas

book review thursday

book review thursday Living Dead in Dallas by Charene Harris, the second book in the Sookie Stackhouse series revolved around two separate plot lines. One involves a murder in Bon Temps, while the other involves vampire politics and their interactions with the infamous anti-vampire church, The Fellowship of the Sun. I absolutely sped through this book. It's not that it was incredibly engaging- rather it was because it was such an easy and quick read. While there were certain passages made me absolutely hooked, and I couldn't wait to read the next word, there were equally many that made me cringe- the graphic ones in particular.
I realized that a good chunk of that is because, well, I'm rather prudish when it comes to fictional voyeurism. I get uncomfortable even reading (or watching) about fictional characters kissing, let alone engaging in some hanky-panky. But a larger part of it was that in this book, I just felt that it was poorly written and unrealistic. Make up sex? Realistic. Make up sex after your boyfriend has just murdered someone and given absolutely zero thought about your safety and has yet to apologize? Not so realistic. Make up sex when your boyfriend has not only done the aforementioned, but has also had absolutely no preamble or warning? Barring issues of consent here, uh, not romantic. At all.
Apart from that minor quibble, my biggest issue with the book was that after the big adventure in Dallas, the home town mystery was essentially slapped together. I would have enjoyed it a great deal more if it had been either handed in a more detailed manner, or had been given it's own separate book. I vastly preferred how the television series handled the two story lines. I had to reread the passages involving the climax of the maenad a few times to understand what happened, and I'm still not entirely too clear.
I did appreciate that I could recognize the differences between the books and the television show. I think I still by far prefer the TV version. It feels more campy than badly written, and gives greater detail to many of the areas that are sort of whitewashed by Harris. It's certainly interesting to see where they got their jumping off points. I was glad to see that Tara and Eggs were both actual characters in the books, though I was disappointed in that their story lines were mere shells of what they are on the series.

(On a side note, every time Monkey and I see Eggs on another show or movie, we both have to point out "oh it's Eggs". It doesn't matter that at this point, we've seen him more often in other roles than as his True Blood character.)

As a whole, this was a good fluffy read, and something I'd recommend for pure beach bunny purposes. I loved Eric's exchanges with Sookie- that was something I don't often get to appreciate on the television show (I think I just haven't warmed up to Eric yet on the show, though in the last episode I watched- I'm almost a whole season behind at this point- I definitely wanted to cuddle up with him.) Anyways, the exchanges were humorous, and I can definitely see the appeal for those diehard Sookie/Eric shippers. After Bill's inability to see beyond his own penis blood-lust, I'm firmly in the anti-Bill camp. Their relationship has definitely gone out of favor in my mind. Charene Harris has done a great job of developing an interesting world with engaging characters.

Dead After Dark: something I'd recommend to someone who wants something light and fluffy, but definitely not a great piece of literature. Speaking of which, I've been sadly lacking in that department for a while... This is why I miss going to a book club!

(4/5 stars)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday at last!

You remember that thing I used to do?

You know, the thing I did all the time.

That thing? That thing I haven't photographed in about a million years? Yeah, well, I finally started to feel guilty. As a consequence...

wip wednesday

Okay, I'm just going to preface this by saying- it's all of two inches. Two horribly slow, painful inches. As usual, gauge is my enemy, as is reading directions.


What's that you ask? Why, it's the beginning of a mitten! When I first added Bella's Mittens to my queue forever ago, I had every intention of knitting the ASAP. When a few months later, a friend of mine gave me a skein of hot pink red heart super saver as a gift, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. Fast forward at least a year and I've finally cast on as part of my 12 in 2012 list. I am so ridiculously excited for the rest of that list, I'm just hoping that I can speed through these mittens.

So far, after restarting about ten times so far, that's not looking like it's going to happen. I'm point blank refusing to restart for the eleventh time, despite the fact that I wanted to add an extra cable repeat to the arms to make them super long, so I'm going to have to fudge that somewhere. Whatever. I've got skinny arms. It's all good.

...I hope.