• Knitting & Crafting

    Quant

    Project 121/365 - Quant

    My second entrelac project after Danica. I really like the technique, but I think of the two projects I liked Danica more. I bought this odd ball yarn with the intention of making a Calorimetry with it, but I made one of those earlier in the week for a friend and the Quant entrelac was a-calling. I am unsure if I will wear it since it is flashy and not actually that warm; I have never really loved headbands. It is cute objectively speaking.

    Quant, started July 10th 2008, finished July 12th 2008 Ravelry Project Page
    Pattern: Quant by Star Athena, Knitty Winter 2007 Ravelry Pattern Page
    Yarn: Wisdom Yarns Sonnet #715 (50g 93yds/85m) – 1 skein
    Needles: #7/4.5mm HiyaHiya long circs

    Quant Entrelac Headband

    Modifications: Since I did not have enough yarn and was afraid of running out, I knit only 12″ instead of the 15″ called for and then blocked like mad. I used mightbekatrina’s mods to make it symmetrical at the end:

    Ending with Section 1:
    Set up: (RS) pick up 5 stitches along triangle edge (6 total), pass last one back to ssk as usual. Turn.
    Row 1: (WS) p to last 2 st, p2tog
    Row 2: (RS) sl1, k to last st, ssk
    Repeat these 2 rows until 1 st remains.
    Repeat this procedure for the other two triangle ‘holes’. 1 st will be left on the needle. Turn.
    (WS) Pick up 17 more stitches along the edge: 5 in the first triangle, 6 in the other two. 18 sts total.
    Row 1: (RS) k1, ssk, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1
    Row 2: (WS) p all sts
    Repeat these 2 rows until 6 sts remain.
    (RS) ssk, sl1, k2tog, psso, k1 (or any other 3 st decrease you like). 3 sts .
    Work in I-cord to match the other side. BO.

    Cost of Project: $4 for yarn.
    Would I knit it again? Yes, and maybe try using DK weight yarn.

  • Books

    Sunday Salon: Books to the ceiling

    It seems to be a slow reading week or it felt that way, even though I read and finished Pyongyang and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid early in the week, I only started and read one chapter of Crime and Punishment. I have knit a little more this week, and as a result, I listened to one short audiobook. I also listened to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which is in an audio anthology of his short stories. I think I am going to look forward to the movie and like it even more. It was interesting. I always have mixed feelings of FSF because while I have two of his novels and liked them, I do not love him, and yet, I still want to read This Side of Paradise and some of his other short stories. Though I think I rather read them than listen to the audiobook.

    Today, I am going to read more C&P so I can make a bigger dent in the Russian tome. One chapter is not enough for me to judge, but it seems as somber as expected. Must get back to it; goodness I have loads of books to read off the TBR pile. Here is a quotation to end things. 

    Books to the ceiling,
    Books to the sky,
    My pile of books is a mile high.
    How I love them! How I need them!
    I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.
    — Arnold Lobel

    How very true, except the part about the beard.

  • Books

    The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

    Bill Bryson’s memoir of growing up in 1950s Iowa. I have liked Bryson’s writing for many years and have devoured most of his travel writing. He is always funny, candid, and incredibly observant and insightful. He seems to do a good deal to research his books as well. While this is a memoir, there is commentary on the 1950s as a whole particularly in the US. Bryson admits that he his childhood was not particularly unique or traumatic and yet, as I usually do, he takes simple subjects and revels in the day to day life of being a child in a relatively prosperous and peaceful time. I enjoyed this quick memoir even if I did not live in the 1950s, but there are many moments that remind me of childhood in general. He captures the idiosyncratic nature of the whole time of our lives with his usual writing of his memories. A nice, light read.

  • Books

    Pyongyang

    Pyongyang: A journey in North Korea is Guy Delisle (a Quebecois, now living in France) graphuc memoir of two months spent working in the North Korean capital for a French animation company outsourcing work to the North Koreans. It is a fascinating look at North Korea and its regime. While he is not in NK for very long, Delisle observes the expat community of NK, and the dictatorial regime’s forceful propaganda machine. All foreigners seem to be kept in a very closed bubble constantly watched by their assigned guides. The author takes a copy of Orwell’s 1984 and observes the parallel. It is apt because the regime seems to permeate in all aspects. It is the most closed country in the world, and it is rather frightening the extent in which the whole population seems to live in a bubble themselves. Without any outside media and severe limited ability to travel and educate themselves, many seem to genuinely believe the personal cult and god-like presence of the Kims even if one of them is dead. The cult of personality is rather creepy. Though there is little choice, but to pretend to believe because the dictatorship has some of the worse human rights violations globally. A lot of what the memoir describes is not creepy. Nothing can last forever, and the NK regime certainly won’t. It will be interesting when that happens since the country is in a time warp. It’s like how people go to Cuba and say it looks the 1950s, but North Korea and its population seem to be still in the 50s since they are limited in communications, food security, electricity, industrialisation and manufacturing. Since the culture is protected is by the government, art is monitored. This is especially significant in that all its neighbours are accelerating at a very fast rate in the globalisation. Having read on North Korea a bit from my studies, I would recommend further reading of the subject if you are intrigued after this short, but interesting read.

  • Books

    Sunday Salon: Summer Balance

    The readathon last saturday seemed to have sapped all my energy in reading as I’ve been taking my time reading Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir and the graphic novel Pyongyang: A journey in North Korea. I enjoy them both and am reading more today after some Sunday errands. I’ve just been pacing my reading. I posted all the reviews I wrote during the readathon this week too, and I’ve been considering all the books I will be reading for the rest of the summer. I have been thinking a lot this weekend. 

    Currently, I have 12 books and one movie taken out from the public library. That is the lowest number of items taken out in more than a year, at least. I love my public library. I spent summers there as a kid going through books. As I have started to recently buy books and borrow more from friends, I have needed to cut down on browsing in the library. Other than the express/bestseller reads, I don’t even browse there. I request all my books from the online catalogue and pick it up in my weekly visit. I am actually a bit glad that my library checkout item number is down because I own so many more books now, most of which I have not read because the library books get precedence. This summer, I am trying to achieve a balance.

    In other reading news, I have been reading a lot of fanfiction today. I actually read a lot of fanfiction in general, and can into periods of not doing so, but for the most part, I do read many amateur writings. I have been doing so more or less consistently for years. They can be based on television shows, movies, or other books. It’s fascinating what writers do with other writers. I have read some wonderful writing and stories from fanfic. It’s an interesting subgenre made possible or at least, more alive by the internet.

    Have a good Sunday and week.

  • Movies

    Monthly Movies 06/08

    Bee Movie (01 06 08) – I love honey bees. This has a stellar voice cast; they even got Oprah. There were a lot of bee jokes, but they amused me even though they were incredibly cheesy. I guess I love bees and honey too much.
    I’m not there (02-03 06 08) – REVIEW
    Jumper (08 06 08) – What happened to Hayden Christensen’s voice? He must be smoking a lot. It bothered me, but not as much as Jamie Bell’s irritating character. It’s funny how the movie ends with a possibility of a sequel, but there is no way that is going to happen. I knew before I saw this movie it would not be great, but low expectations are the key to these things. At least Rachel Bilson is pretty, and they actually have decent chemistry due to their real life romance.
    Coming Home (30 05 08, 14 06 08)
    – I actually was looking for the other Coming Home, but got this 1998 tv mini series starring Peter O’Toole, Joanna Lumbley, and Emily Mortimer. It also stars Paul Bettany and Kiera Knightley, who plays the younger version of Mortimer’s character; she really hasn’t changed that much in a decade. I don’t know why I like Emily Mortimer; she is a frail little thing, but I like her rather mouseish, British looks and demeanor. I like that she does not scream glamour in the way Knighley and Bettany do. Also Bettany could totally be Peter O’Toole’s son. PT and JL are fabu together. Any excuse to watch either of them works for me.
    Boogie Nights (22 06 08) – For some reason, I had few inclinations or knowledge of this movie before I watched it. Odd considering it’s such a cult film, but I watched it based on the rec of a friend who told me it was such a wonderful film that exemplified the 80s (she having grown up in the time era of the film). I enjoyed it. I couldn’t believe the plethora of actors who are in this film. Almost the whole cast has had best acting Oscar nominations now. Heather Graham had purpose at some point. So the acting works, and so was everything else. It was funny. It was sad. It was the late 70s, and the early 80s. It’s not something I would rewatch often because it can be so sad, but also, I was not alive for most of this era to feel nostalgic. I liked the montages, and Anderson’s film style. Actually, this is the only PT Anderson movie I’ve ever seen. Methinks I should go about getting Punch-Drunk Love now.
    Marty (27 06 08) – This film was uncomfortable to watch because it was honest. I could understand the pressure about being a late bloomer, and the negative stereotypes and ideas perpetuated. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and wished for more insight. Good film.
    Persepolis (29 06 08) – REVIEW
    Punch-Drunk Love (29 06 08) – So I did get this movie as I said I would. I was underwhelmed and annoyed by the music. Positives include the presence of Emily Watson, Adam Sandler’s acting, and Anderson’s direction. It’s peculiar and has lots of annoying characters except Sandler who really does shine in this however slow the plot is.
    Love in the Time of Cholera (30 06 08) – I did not think this was as bad as the critics made it. I’ve read the book, and while I don’t think it can capture the book (too difficult with magical realism), it had it’s nice points. Javier Bardem is wonderful and super fine for one thing, and the visuals are another bonus. It was slow, but not unbearable. The actor that played young the younger version of Bardem’s character looked a lot like Daniel Day-Lewis. It reminded me that Bardem himself is a bit like DDL in his character choices, intensity, and talent. I need to watch No Country for Old Men soon.
    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (30 06 08) – I heard that this was one of the most beautifully shot films of 2007. I must concur. The cinematography was beautiful; I like the director’s choices. The acting was great as well. I really adore Brad Pitt these days, and Casey Affleck surprised me. He was good at being the insecure twerp and transformed into someone I felt pity for. The downside is the slow plot of course. It drags at the beginning, and all the good stuff is in the second half.

    Total: 10

    Rewatched Movies:

    Pride and Prejudice (02 06 08) – My friend who has never watched P&P and I watched the 1995 BBC mini series. It was pretty much a late marathon. I think it was my fifth time rewatching it. It is always so fun and addictive. One can appreciate the intense chemistry between Firth and Ehle. This is definitely one of my favourite mini series. I do wish they included one more scene at the end of the couple before the final scenes. I always thought the fast cut to the ending was somewhat abrupt. Also missing out the hilarity of a scene were Lizzie tells her mother. Still, one of the best series ever to watch over and over again. Never gets old.

  • Knitting & Crafting

    Sterling and Bead Cuff

    Project 112/365 - Knitting with Wire

    Often, I’ll see a pattern and just want to make it for no other reason than that I want to. I find I don’t even necessarily care for the end result, but I want to make it and use the pattern. This is what happened with this pattern that I saw a year ago. It is an experiment mostly to try out knitting with wire. Now that I have, I’m not too keen on doing it for awhile. It is difficult, but it was educational. I doubt I’ll wear this cuff often since it looks a bit bulky on me personally and may not exactly be my style. My cuff looks nothing like the one in the book.

    Sterling and Bead Cuff, started July 1st 2008, finished July 4th 2008 Ravelry Project Page
    Pattern: Sterling and Crystal Cuff by Annie Modesitt from Lace Style Ravelry Pattern Page
    Size: It is about 2″ of wire and 2 1/2″ with the beads tall
    Yarn: Bead Smith Bead Silver Wire with Copper Core 26ga and 28 square beads
    Needles: 3.75mm metal DPNs
    Modifications: I did one less repeat, did not use crystal, and didn’t really follow the finishing instructions.
    Tools/Notions: Marker for the round, beads
    Cost of Project: $13
    Would I knit it again? No.

  • Books

    Reading Challenge Updates 06/08

    I read a lot in June, and made quite a few progress in some of the challenges though I still have a long way to go. I have to read as much as I can in the summer because I am unsure of my reading time in the autumn and beyond.

    Completed this month:

    Current Challenges

    Personal Challenges

    • 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die – 85
    • TBR Pile – 1: Read Beloved.

    Pending Challenges

    Completed Challenges

  • Books

    Beloved

    This Pulitzer Prize winning and critically acclaimed novel is very sad and includes many stories of horror and trauma. The persistence of memory and the past is part of the novel from a mother’s obsessive overprotection to the reconciliation of people’s past personal and with slavery as a whole: “To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The ‘better life’ she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one.”

    The narrative shifts with a stream of consciousness writing towards the end of the book. It also reminded me of an even more twisted version of Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray by that time.

    It’s a complex novel, but very beautifully written. I love the prose. It is difficult to read due to the story and plot, but the literary prose is wonderful. Morrison is also very adept at characterization. I get a total sense of these characters whether or not I agree or actually sympathise with them. She presents them so clearly and honestly. It is not a pleasurable read, and like many books literary books, it is not for everyone. It’s difficult, but honest and well written.

  • Knitting & Crafting

    Anastasia Socks

    Project 110/365 - Anastasia Socks

    My first toe-up socks. Originally I started toe-up Jaywalkers but I ran into problems so I decided to just do those another day top-down. I like toe-up socks because you can try them on. This is a very easy pattern to knit as well. A good candidate for a first sock pattern. It’s also one of those patterns that goes well with all sock yarn. As for toe-up vs. top-down, I wouldn’t say I love one technique over the other yet, but I do love sock knitting in general. Same goes with the heels, I like the short row heel I used.

    Anastasia Socks, started June 16th 2008, finished July 1st, 2008 Ravelry Project Page
    Pattern: Anastasia Socks by MintyFresh Ravelry Pattern Page
    Yarn: DGB Confetti 100 Cotton (100g/418 yards – 35% cotton 49% wool 16% nylon – #15.04) 1 skein
    Needles: US#1/2.25mm 100cm metal Hiya-Hiya circs – Magic Looping

    Anastasia Socks Two

    Magic Cast Oned 28 sts so I could avoid using a short row toe. I hate provisional cast ons where I must pick up from scrap yarn. As a result, I love the Magic CO and will use it for all my toe-up socks unless another good non-provisional CO comes along. A tip for increasing from 28 to the 60 is using a YO and then knitting it through the back loop in the second knit row. I find this achieves a better increase than M1A or KFB.

    Modifications: Magic Cast On and miscocrafty’s short-row heel (which involves picking up two wraps and passing them over k st)
    Lessons Learned: Magic Cast On, short row heel, and EZ’ sewn BO (which I think I learned before, but don’t know for what)
    Cost of Project: $12 approx.
    Would I knit it again? Maybe, but not for awhile. The pattern says to knit foot until 1.5″, I think one can start it at 2″ before heel. There is some room in the foot. I could have probably knit another 0.5-1″ of leg too, but I’m always scared of running out of yarn.
    Helpful Links:

  • Books

    William Shakespeare’s Sonnets

    sonnetsWhen I started this, I began to note the sonnets I really liked, but stopped in the 70s because I realized I liked almost all of them and the list was too long. While I can not relate to the emotions of some of them, there are many variations in this book. There are themes of not just love but of time, change, politics, desire, death, and much more. I found the theme of time and change to the be the most interesting. Maybe it’s because I am a romantic, but the poetry worked for me on a lot of levels. These are words to be read aloud, as is usually the case for poetry. I was enchanted and moved. I have always liked Shakespeare, but I think this may be one of the works I love most from him. I did wonder a lot about Shakespeare the man when reading this. I am not so overwrought with questions about the identity, but I wonder his exact mind when he wrote this. Were they for someone? When did he write this? In any case, I am glad we have these beautiful words left. I would very much love to own a copy of these sonnets to cherish and read over and over again. Classic.

  • Books

    My Sister Life and other poems

    Years ago, sometime after I read Anna Karenina and knew that Russian Literature as one of my first literary loves as a result, I had this notion I would learn Russian one day. “Then I can read Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, and Dostoyevsky,” As one does when one is young, in literary love, and naive. When I realized I had no time to learn Russian (I was only interested in reading it), I decided to read W&P. I am still debating when to read DZ. I had seen the film years ago, and the DVD extras allowed me to be fascinated with Pasternak, this utter poet that had loved and lost in more than two wars and a revolution. A novelist as much as a poet. Often those two come hand in hand, but he seems to be both with a deftness and balance most other others do not or can not do. He is both completely, though poet seems to tip the scales of course. In this way, he reminds me of another writer I love which is Shakespeare, a dramatist and a poet. Unsurprisingly, Pasternak is lover of Shakespeare having translated many of his plays into Russian and referencing the bard in his own poetry.

    While Doctor Zhivago cemented his place in world literature, his poetry changed the Russian literary landscape completely in the 1920s that it probably tipped the scale of his 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature. My Sister Life (sometimes a dash or a comma is placed between the last two words) was written in 1917, but not published until 1921. The collection of poems has themes of nature, Shakespeare (“English Lessons” and “Hamlet’), passion and life (“In Everything I seek to reach”), mythology and fairytale (“In memory of the demon”), love, change, and finally, like any good Russian literary legend, on history and politics (“1905”). I am not adept at reviewing poetry. I have only really started to be interested in it in the five years, and writing reviews even less. While English classes have allowed me practice to analyse novels and plays more thoroughly, poetry is often overlooked. I have never taken a university level literature class where poetry analysis is probably more common. All I know is that I like a lot of poets, their words, the music, the themes, and the feeling one often gets from reading it that the author is completely immersed and given to his works. Poetry can be so personal in a way prose is not always. I felt it for these poems, translated or not. I like them and that is the extent of my poetry criticism.

    The edition I have was translated by Olga Andreyev Carlisle, she too of Russian literary progeny. Knowing the limitations of translating poetry which relies so heavily on tone and the language’s perfect uniqueness, Carlilsle wanted to translate more the imagery. I thought she did a fine job because I’ve read two other translations of some Pasternak poetry on the web, and she is at least better than someone else. This translation was a project that started in 1967, published in 1976. It has photographs specifically taken for the project, alongside the poems which are translated and include the original Russian cyrillic. Sadly, it seems the edition is out of print. It is a shame because one of the best parts of this edition is the last section of the book has the translator’s experiences visiting Pasternak in winter 1960, just months before his death. Their conversations made me appreciate both the translator and the poet even more.

    I recommend this collection if you like poetry, and especially if you like Russian literature. If you find a copy of the translation, all the better for it is a gem.