Saturday, April 28, 2012

3KCBWDAY5 : And now for something completely different!

Something A Bit Different It's back, and this time it has the most amazing of prizes (look for the prize for 'most creative post'). This was a massive success last year, and for many it was the highlight of the Blog Week, so this year you are challenged, again, to find a new way of blogging. This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.There are no rules of a topic to blog about but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog.


What could be more different than Monkey knitting?

Okay, he's not actually knitting. But he's holding it somewhat correctly. This is a significant change from his usual throw-all-the-knitting-on-the-floor-while-managing-to-drop-all-the-stitches. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

3KCBWDAY4 : Summer knitting, happened so faaaast

A Knitter or Crocheter For All Seasons? As spring is in the air in the northern hemisphere and those in the southern hemisphere start setting their sights for the arrival of winter, a lot of crocheters and knitters find that their crafting changes along with their wardrobe. Have a look through your finished projects and explain the seasonality of your craft to your readers. Do you make warm woollens the whole year through in preparation for the colder months, or do you live somewhere that never feels the chill and so invest your time in beautiful homewares and delicate lace items. How does your local seasonal weather affect your craft?


I can't say I've ever been particularly practical when it comes to seasonality of clothes. I can remember many a heated fight with my mother about putting on my winter coat, or changing out my jeans before I got heatstroke. When I was in high school, what I wore hardly varied- the dress code was strict, and they kept the building in arctic temperatures anyway that my uniform quickly became pants and an over-sized sweatshirt. Couple that with living in a very temperate climate, and I don't think I looked at the weather once.

When I started college, things were a bit different. For once, administrators weren't hell bent on turning you into a Popsicle. No one cared if you were wearing less than two inch wide straps. I could wear skirts without having to argue with the subjective length rules. Granted, I very quickly realized that wearing skirts prompted the Marylin Monroe pose more often than not, and that it actually snows in Oklahoma- nothing compared to other areas, but more than Texas! Needless to say, I learned to glance at the weather website before walking outside.

Even still, I only own one semi-decent winter coat. I ran around all December in sleeveless dresses. I inevitably wind up wearing my peep toe shoes when it's supposed to rain, and when the tornado touched down in Norman a few weeks ago, I sitting in my third floor apartment. My knitting follows a similarly impractical theme. I have more scarves and fingerless mitts than I would ever need living in the DFW area.

In terms of my actual timing when knitting, the only pattern I seem to follow is that I work on more on project that require more attention during the summer- I have more time to spend sitting in front of a pattern. Most of my toy and lace projects get churned out then. During the fall and spring, I seem to focus on primarily autopilot knitting.  Hello scarves and garter stitch shawls!

Although, there's always an exception. As per usual, I found that as finals approach, I find myself collecting more and more distractions. Like a fancy schmancy lace shawl, a Lord of the Rings Marathon, or a non-stop viewing of every episode of the Closer.



(Also, I know this is late. I fell asleep yesterday before actually publishing it. Whoops!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3KCBWDAY3 : Be My Hero

Blog about someone in the fibre crafts who truly inspires you. There are not too many guidelines for this, it's really about introducing your readers to someone who they might not know who is an inspiration to you. It might be a family member or friend, a specific designer or writer, indie dyer or another blogger. If you are writing about a knitting designer and you have knitted some of their designs, don't forget to show them off. Remember to get permission from the owner if you wish to use another person's pictures.

If I had any sense, I would have planned these posts out way in advance so that my overworked little brain could take a break, instead of trying to be witty and creative when it's running on empty. Okay, I'm not particularly witty or creative whenever I'm not exhausted, but that's beside the point.

My first thought when I read this post was the Knitmore Girls. Dedicated, generous, adventurous, and amazingly entertaining, their podcast was what really motivated me to go beyond the realm of garter stitch scarves and the occasional amigurumi. Thanks to them, I:

Tackled my citron.

Mastered entrelac
 entrelac scarf

Crossed a few cables

And was introduced to the wonderful world of Rebecca Danger and Rachael Herron, and countless other amazing things.

But as heroic as Gigi and Jasmin are, they are  by no means my only knitting heroes. One of the reasons I'm friend happy on Ravelry is because I love trolling through the friend activity tab. Absolutely fabulous inspiration there! I'm always so excited to see the various knitting adventures people are going through, and frequently find myself planning my own expeditions. Some of my recent obsessions?

To sum up: I find my heroes everywhere. Even the newest, most inexperienced knitter (crocheter, dyer, etc.) has something fabulous to add. You never know who you'll inspire!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3kcbwday2 : Photography Challenge(d)

Photography Challenge Day! Today challenges you to be creative with your photography, and get yourself in with the chance to win the photography prize. Taking interesting photographs in this instance isn't about flashy cameras or a great deal of technical know-how, it's about setting up a story or scene in a photograph and capturing something imaginative. Your photograph(s) should feature something related to your craft, so that might be either a knitted or crocheted item, yarn, or one of your craft tools. One example of setting a scene would be to photograph a girl in a knitted red cape walking through the woodlands with a basket of goodies, as in the Red Riding Hood tale, or you might photograph a knitted gnome hiding among the flowers in your garden. Photo editing is permitted for competition photos. Here are a few examples of my own photographs to illustrate an imaginative use of photography, but you can do much better than these...

Okay. I kind of ran out of time (and ideas) for this one. That's not a good sign, right? Day two and I'm already scrambling for ideas?

After panicking for a few days, when Monkey passed out last night, I was struck by a "brilliant" idea. Glasglow was more than happy to assist, and thus, these photos were created. My monster buddy can't turn down an opportunity to snuggle and be mischievous- especially not at the same time! I can't believe Monkey slept through our posing, as Glasglow and I were giggling loud enough to wake the dead.


Monkey still hasn't seen these yet. Hopefully, when he does, he won't be grumpy about it!

Also, note to self: when rotating pictures, rotate words as well. D'oh.

Monday, April 23, 2012

3kcbwday1 : Color Lovers

Colour is one of our greatest expressions of ourselves when we choose to knit or crochet, so how do you choose what colours you buy and crochet or knit with. Have a look through your stash and see if there is a predominance of one colour. Do the same with your finished projects - do they match? Do you love a rainbow of bright hues, or more subdued tones. How much attention do you pay to the original colour that a garment is knit in when you see a pattern? Tell readers about your love or confusion over colour.

My interest in color has always sided with the... obnoxious spectrum. In elementary school, I'd dress in completely garish combinations: purple turtlenecks with kelly green leggings, pink plaid skirt and vest combos, etc. In middle school, I abandoned the ridiculous clothes for entirely too much eyeliner and brightly colored shadow. In high school, I hopped on the neon skinny jeans trend and wore the heck out of the array of brightly colored pants topped by my various club shirts.


While my clothing style certainly has developed past that point (I wear dresses almost exclusively), my obsession with color hasn't faded. While I don't wear quite as many neon pants (mostly, because I've gained too much weight to fit comfortably in them any more!), I still sneak in the saturated colors whenever I can- including in my still obnoxious eyeshadow. Why limit the blue eyeshadow in the 80s? Even beyond that, My obsession with highlighter shades has been well documented recently.

With that thought in mind, I looked through my various projects expecting to see a full array of bright, thoroughly saturated projects. Consequentially, I was a bit surprised to note there really isn't too much of a color trend with my projects. I don't seem to shy away from *any* color- except white and black. I've even knit with the dreaded burnt orange that makes my flesh crawl. (Dear mom, why are you obsessed with the color that my university's rival touts?). Still determined to find a pattern, I finally wound up collecting up my "nice" yarn and trying to find a theme.


Still not seeing it. For every brightly colored beauty, there's an an equally stunning muted skein. For every cool color, there's a matching warm ball. The only colors I see missing are black, white, grey and purple, which can be explained away, as I usually actually wear those colors, rather than accessorize with them!

In short, my brief forays into assigning a colorwheel to my knitting has only served to remind me that I adore all colors (except burnt orange), and that definitely shines through in my knitting.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Sign of Four

book review thursday

book review thursday I've got to admit- I was rather disappointed with this story. It wasn't one of the ones I was familiar with before, and I think that there was probably a good reason for that.

I decided to read the Sherlock Holmes stories in publishing order, so next on my list was The Sign of Four was next on my list. I was rather excited to read it, as it had a thoroughly intriguing title, and wasn't a story I was familiar with in the least bit.

There's a reason I wasn't familiar with it- it was rather disappointing. The mystery was fabulous, the clues were tantalizing, and the wrap up was a surprise. The love story sub-plot? Absolutely horrendous. I'm not one who believes in love at first sight anyways, but this was just poorly written. Don't get me wrong, I adore love stories. I live for happy endings. What I don't live for is poorly written romance. I'm a firm believer that an author shouldn't clutter an otherwise wonderful novel with writing they can't do well. It's one thing to practice an area you're not good at, it's another to force it on an unsuspecting reader.

J.K. Rowling was my first memorable example of this. I absolutely adored the first few books in the Harry Potter series. Once she started incorporated romance (in my experience, a monstrous feeling in the pit of your stomach usually has more to do with indigestion than love), the books quickly went down hill. She's an absolutely fabulous author, incredibly imaginative and excellent at writing action and dialogue. Romance? Not so much. The books would have been so much better without all of that detail. I'm not saying an author entirely skip out on something like that, as it is often enough an integral part of the plot. What I am saying is don't dwell on it for pages and pages.

The "romance" in this book essentially equated to Watson seeing Mary and deciding he loved her because she was pathetic. While Monkey may jokingly expound on my cuteness when I'm being pathetic, it certainly wasn't why he fell in love with me. The author just really missed the mark with that subplot. I really didn't enjoy it, and it generally detracted from the entire book. It doesn't help that you barely see the relationship between Watson and Holmes at all, yet we have to listen to Watson snivel about some random girl off the street. Uh, okay. I know that his marriage is somewhat used as a strain on their relationship in later stories, which is something I am looking forward to because, well, he'll actually have a relationship with Holmes.

I think I'm rambling at this point. Basically, I was disappointed. The end. Hopefully the next book will be better.

(2/5 stars)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Beer Bomb

cupcake saturday

I suppose three out of four winning recipe is pretty good odds. Unfortunately, that means one was a dud. Thaaaat would be this one.


I first read the recipe for chocolate cupcakes with a brown sugar beer buttercream, I was instantly intrigued. This, I thought, would be absolutely perfect for my beer connoisseur father! I happily saved it and set it aside for a more appropriate time.

While selecting the cupcakes for Monkey's birthday, I remembered this and put it on my list of treats to make.

I really shouldn't have. I made these after the chocolate and Kahlua ones, so of course I made comparisons. They... sucked. Both used simple chocolate cake recipes- the Kahlua a doctored up cake mix, and this one from scratch. The difference was astonishing. The cake was dry and bitter- not appealing in the least bit.

The frosting wasn't any better. While the syrup I made was actually surprisingly good (not great, but again, I'm not a beer fan), the minute it hit the butter, I knew it was going to be a problem. Despite the fact that I had let it cool significant amounts, and then stored the mixture in the fridge to try to get it to a workable texture, and then drowned the whole thing in powdered sugar, I just could not get the frosting into a workable texture. It was simply too much syrup. Perhaps I should have gone with my gut and only used a few tablespoons of the syrup. In any case, the frosting was a disaster, and tasted absolutely horrible with the cupcakes. You can tell just how liquid the frosting was, because that cupcake had been stored in the fridge for a considerable length of time before I took the photo. I couldn't even frost them properly. When it came time for the taste test, I think I managed all of two bite before tossing it.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder- What Crap.

book review thursday

book review thursdayClearly, I'm a big of the cozy mystery genre. I enjoy the predictability to an extent, and I enjoy the situations and quirky characters. I love not having to fully invest my thoughts into it. If I'm not in an overly sappy mood, but need some distraction, cozy mysteries are where I go- either through television, movies, or books. I'm willing to forgive poor writing to a certain extent to get this. I'm not looking for Shakespeare here, I'm looking for something that will take my mind off of my own life.

The Chocolate CHip Cookie Murder went beyond my limit though. The most unforgivable aspect was the characterization The characters weren't even characters! They were simply names. No one had any semblance of a personality, so all of the quirk and determination I look for in my plucky hero/heroine was missing. The dialogue was horrendous. While I fully admit that I'm a terrible writer, even I could have written more believable dialogue than that. If the author had tried reading it out loud, even she would have had to cringe. The constant over-explanations drove me batty. I actually do like when mystery authors do summations of information you know throughout the book, as it reminds me of what I've forgotten. It's more than excessive to do so after every paragraph. Literally, it would be one paragraph of action, one paragraph summing up the action, and then another paragraph summing up the summation of the action in context. Every time she mentioned her "notebook", I wanted to just skip the paragraph. It was excruciating.

To top off all of that, the lack of believability of the entire book drove me crazy. The main character is supposed to know how to solve a murder better than the police. Instead of, I don't know, telling her to butt the hell out, the police let her act like an officer. There was no real sneaking behind their backs, it was all very out front and put on display. At least shows like Castle have Castle act subservient to the real police when it comes to interviews. If she had been merely suggesting information, or doing it entirely behind the police officer's back, then I would have a heck of a lot less problem with it. Not only was that driving me crazy the whole book, but her reactions to everything drove me crazy. Oh yes, a battered woman that you've never spoken to would pour her heart and soul to you. And no, no one would ever guess you're working on the case when you're asking everyone questions. The "romance" at the end was just the icing on the cake. It greatly resembled the kinds of things I wrote in my diary at, oh, I don't know, age eleven. I'm not even joking. My writing skills may have even been better than this book at that age.

What makes this all worse is that this book was on my hold list for months. That means there were countless readers who were subjected to this horrible story. I was so excited- baking and mysteries rolled into one- you can't get much better than that! Well, you could definitely do better than this book.

The only redeeming quality about this book was the recipes- although I wouldn't be surprised if those were utter crap as well.

I cannot recommend this book to anyone, it was that annoying. The only reason I finished was because there was supposedly a surprising twist. It wasn't. The scene where she solves the murder and confronts the villain was so incredibly cheesy, I couldn't stand it. I had to actually put the book aside for a while before I could finish the epilogue. Yuck.

(1/5 stars)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lime, Rum, and Mint

cupcake saturday

Yet another alcoholic cupcake for Monkey' birthday! I picked a rather easy theme. Thee cupcakes are Mojito flavored cupcakes, and gave me all sorts of worry while making them. They involved some funky flavors for a cupcake, and made me wonder how well they were going to turn out.


Oooh blurry photo. My bad, I'm sorry.

Despite the photos and my apprehension, these cupcakes were not only delicious, but absolutely gorgeous as well. It was definitely a differenttasting cupcake, but really, really yummy. I wound up having to add 4 cups of powdered sugar to get the consistency I wanted, but it wasn't too sugary sweet.


A few years ago, Monkey and I went on vacation with one of his sisters and her husband. The whole time, they were sipping on Mojitos- they even made a few virgin ones for Monkey and I. Not quite my cup of tea, but the cupcakes? Yum yum.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Outlander: Outlandish Porn

book review thursday

book review thursday My determination to stop reading fluff lasted as long as it took for this book to come off my hold shelf at the library. Whoops. I think I would have enjoyed Outlander considerably more if I had read it a few years ago. I was more tolerant then of books, and a lot less annoyed at smut.

As it is, Outlander started off with a bang. Rather foolishly, I started the book during the middle of the week, and consequentially, couldn't put it down. I wound up absolutely dying to read it and wanting to just skive off and curl up in a corner and pound through it. I haven't felt that way about reading in a long time. Probably because I usually am a heck of a lot smarter in terms of starting books at the end of the week so I don't have to skive off on any of my 'duties'. Ahem. Anyways, when I first started reading the book, I was hooked. I loved the descriptions, I loved Claire's personality, and I loved Jamie. My knowledge of history, especially Scottish history, is limited at best, so it was really intriguing to hear about all of Claire's encounters. My favorite parts were when she was adapting to life at the Castle and her position as nurse. I enjoyed the intrigue of Colum and Douglas' motives. I even enjoyed their tour and 'forced' marriage.

The minute the main characters began to romp like bunnies, I lost interest. Even the looming threat of Black Jack Randall couldn't re-engage me. In fact, the author's "resolution" involving that character was downright awful. If she had merely made him the motiveless evil villain, he would have been a lot more believable. instead he wound up with "family issues". While this in all likelihood would explain someone with such issues, it was written so terribly that it was just a joke.

The book rather quickly devolved into a pattern of sex, beat up Jamie, sex, beat up Jamie. The "plot" went out the window, as did all semblance of good characterization, well written dialogue and exposition, and my interest.

The most disappointing part was that it started out so good. It's not like it was terrible from the get go. There was some great writing in there that unfortunately got lost in this giant tomb of sex and torture. It's almost as though the author lost sight of what she really wanted to write about in favor of either her sexual fantasies or her attempts to please the lowest common denominator. From what I've heard about her series, it only gets worse.

I'm not even going to get into the Suprise!Buttsex. Seriously. Just... No.

(2/5 stars)