• Books

    Sunday Salon and Shakespeare: The World As Stage

    TSSIt’s been a good week for reading. I finished V for Vendetta after last TSS, finished Eugene Onegin by Wednesday and I listened to Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson yesterday (review below). Today, I started to read Life and Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee. I am about half way through the book now. It is not very long, but there are no chapters. It reminds me a bit of McCarthy’s The Road. I only learned recently Coetzee is South African, and I did not know anything about the book before I started reading it today. With a lot of books, I have no idea what the plot will be. I rather just dive in to the story than look at the synopsis on the cover. It makes the reading experience more interesting. I also find that plots that may sound boring end up being well told and engaging with its characters. A plot summary can seem interesting, but the writing can be slow as molasses.

    Now a review of Shakespeare: The World As Stage by Bill Bryson.

    I listened to the complete audiobook yesterday. It’s quite a short book about Shakespeare, but it covers many details and the lack there of of William Shakespeare’s life. Bill Bryson is an author I’ve liked for years, and he is consistently an informative and shrewd writer. This was my first time reading a book of Shakespeare’s life, but I’ve been aware of the debates of the doubts of his identity, sexuality, genius, etc. What Bryson sought out to do in the book is to avoid speculation that seems to run rampant among scholars and other biographies about Shakespeare. He evaluates and summarises the small amount of real information about Shakespeare we have at present. The book is a good as a brush up on the Elizabethan and early Jacobite eras. I learned quite a bit about the evolution of the human language, people, dress, and cities of the time. Bryson avoids making any big and blanket statements about the kind of man Shakespeare was, but he does shoot down theories about the idea that William Shakespeare was actually Bacon/ Marlowe/ Earl of Oxford/ your mother, etc. He also provides insights from historians and scholars either directly interviewing them or referencing their work. I think it is a really good introduction to Shakespeare that can provide grounding for further scholarly study about the man and the myth. A quick and recommended read.

  • Knitting & Crafting

    Back-to-School U-Neck Vest

    See my vest

    See my vest!

    When I first saw this pattern in the book, I was not that into it. First of all, this is my first real sweater vest. I haven’t ever owned or wore vests even though my style can be described as sometimes being on the preppy side (love those blouses). Also, I do not like u-necks; I’m a v-neck girl. My decision to make the vest came when I realized that the wool would be affordable, and the patterns in this book do seem fitted and relatively easy. With that in mind, I made a few mods to the vest to my style.

    I lengthened the ribbed body by an inch, lowered the neck, did 3 repeats of the bust increases of 5, made the straps 11 sts instead of 14, used three needle BO instead of seaming, and I used 4.0mm needle (I didn’t have a 3.75 circ) to do 2 purl rounds on the edgings on the neck and the armholes. My gauge swatch was over by half a stitch, but it ended up still working out. I’m often between 34-36 in bust any way. In the end, I only used 2 full skeins of the Patons which means it was a cheap and relatively fast knit.

    See my vest and hair

    Even though it turned out okay, I won’t knit this again. The ribbing and the bust increases were fine, but I found out that I sort of suck at reverse shaping and decreasing. The straps are not symmetrical at all, and I ran into problems with the back shaping and the edgings too. It was not as fun towards the end, and I rather try knitting other vests. I think I will wear this, but not sure how often.

    It also was my first time wash blocking. I bought some Eucalan in Lavender to wash this and future knits. After I soaked it, I put it in a pillowcase and ran it through the Delicates Spin cycle and that saved a lot of time in drying. I love Eucalan, and I wish I had bought it earlier. My knits came out soft and smelling wonderful.

    Back-to-School U-Neck Vest, started January 24th, 2008, finished February 15th, 2008 Ravelry Project Page
    Pattern: Back-to-School U-Neck Vest by Stefanie Japel from Fitted Knits Ravelry Pattern Page
    Size 34″
    Yarn: Patons Classics Merino Wool (100% merino wool – 223yds/204m – 100g) in #00231 Natural Chestnut – 2 balls
    Needles: 4.5mm/US#7 100cm/40″ bamboo circs (Magic Looping as usual) and 4.0mm/#6 16″ circ for edgings
    Modifications: Lengthened ribbing, narrowed straps, three needle BO for straps, lowered neckline, 2 purl rounds for edging
    Lessons Learned: Three needle BO, LLI and RLI, and some general shaping.
    Cost of Project: $12 for yarn.
    Would I knit it again? No.