• Books,  Knitting & Crafting

    2018 Goals and Challenges

    Things have changed a lot for me the last couple of years. I am busier, work more, and generally, have less time for my personal hobbies and interests. I still have many interests and with them continuing goals to exercise more, be grateful, spend time with those I care about, etc. I bake and cook a lot these days, but I do not post about it here on this blog. These goals and other more practical ones (career training, driving, and more) are still present.

    The following are some goals and challenges I want to complete this year.

    Books

    Challenge: Read 32 books in 2018

    This blog did not set out to be a book blog, but for much of its 17 year history, its primary focus was books. In fact, this goal seems piddling when ten years ago in 2008, I had read 81 books! Ahh, gone are those days. I have not read more than 50 books a year since 2014. The books are still interesting and varied in my humble opinion, but I really have less time. Shamefully, I only read 27 books in 2017. That’s the one of the lowest number of yearly read in a long time. In 2009, I only red 20 but I was living abroad and writing my Masters at the time. Now, life has done. In any case, this must change. I think 32 is reasonable and will work harder this year to read. I still love books passionately and know the importance of them in my life.

    Knitting

    Challenge: Knit 6 projects in 2018

    I have let knitting lapse quite a bit in the last few years as well. I am getting back into it and knitting for my loved ones more. However, I do not have the fervor for it as I did a few years ago and when I started over a decade ago. I have a lot of yarn in my stash and some long term projects. I want to use up what I have and have bought a lot less yarn in the last three years. The biggest challenge is to use up as much as my stash as possible. After that in a few years, I will continue to knit, but hopefully branch out as well. I bought a sewing machine last month and haven’t even used it yet. I don’t plan on taking up another craft as I have done with knitting, but there are still some crafts and skills to acquire.

    I had about 4 projects in 2017 so I think six is reasonable. I’m already working on one now and planning the next 2-3.

    Write More

    This is more for me to remember to journal which I have been very bad about and to write more in this blog.

    Meditate

    I did a form of active chanting meditation for the last few years, but I am ready to switch back to doing mindfulness and quiet mediation.

  • Knitting & Crafting

    FO: First Man Socks

    First Man Socks

    Having knit almost 30 pairs of socks in the last ten years, I had never actually knit a pair of socks for a man. My father didn’t really want a pair and his wearing of the knit hat has been sporadic at best. Other than him, there was no man in my life to knit socks for until recently. This was the Christmas present I gave my partner. He selected the yarn in a wonderful wool shop in Toronto on a trip. I bought two balls of the yarn knowing that there was a good chance his socks would need it. The leftovers I will make another pair for myself and a sock yarn square too. He received these socks gratefully and wore them on Christmas day.

    First Man Socks

    First Man Socks, started October 19, 2017, finished December 12, 2017. Ravelry Project Page
    Pattern: Toe-up Socks by Leah Mitchell from More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts / Geschenke aus dem Wollkorb Ravelry Pattern Page
    Made for: P
    Size: US11/UK10 – Foot circumference: approximately 9.25”, Foot Length: 10.5”
    Yarn: 1.05 balls of Jawoll Aktion Color by Lang Yarns – 75% Wool, 25% Nylon –
    420 meters / 100 grams – each ball includes matching nylon thread
    Needles: US1/2.25mm 40″/100cm circular

    First Man Socks

    Modifications & Notes: Lots of mods as I really only used the pattern for the stitch count and the ribbing.

    • Judy’s magic cast on 24 sts
    • Fleegle heel – Inc for gusset after 7”/18cm until 74 sts on it (37 on both sides)
    • Leg about 4”/10cm
    • Jeny’s Stretchy BO

    Cost of Project: Two balls of the Jawoll cost $24
    Would I knit it again? This is a basic toe-up sock with ribbing so not this exact pattern, but another similar one definitely.

  • Books

    Scythe by Neal Shusterman

    When I told someone I had finished a young adult sci-fi book, they asked me what I was doing reading young adult books. I find that the young adult demographic novels has had a good range of dystopian and sci-fi novels.

    It also made me think about how when I was a young adult or teenager, the young adult genre hadn’t really ballooned the way it has in the last ten years. This was before The Hunger Games, Twilight, and John Green novels. I am somewhat thankful for that and it’s not that I missed much. I sent most of my teens reading classics and adult books. I did have Harry Potter and a few other series, but it was not part of the mainstream book or pop culture of the time. I digress.

    Scythe is set in not so distant future, probably a couple of hundred years off. It has some dark ideas about the future and backs it up with some intriguing world building. I wouldn’t say it is the best in terms of details, but this is the first book.

    This series’s ideas reflects much more on mortality which is one of the reasons I wanted to read the book. The idea of life without death is a bit abhorrent to me; I have not ever been someone who wants to live forever. I understand human ambition for it, but as this book explores, death is also what makes many people human.

    As I was reading this novel, I liked it more objectively than emotionally. I think it was because I was not invested in the two teenage protagonists very much. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been a teenager in a long time. The author does not really explore them as much as I feel he could have. There is a lot of plot in this novel. I did adore two of the mentor characters.

    By the end of the novel, I did like the teenagers a bit more and the plot had twisted enough that I am looking forward to the sequel.

    Read January 9-10, 2018.

  • Books

    Sourdough by Robin Sloan

    I found this book when searching for books about sourdough a few months ago. I looked at the reviews and realized that this was the same author as Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. I did like that book and remember certain unique passages in it even though I don’t remember all the plot details well.

    This was a very enjoyable read and it was fast. I would have finished it one sitting easily too. This is the kind of book that gets me out of a book ruts as I have been in on and off for most of 2017.

    What was personally enjoyable for me were all the bread baking references as I knew all about the techniques, a lot of the science, and even the various allusions to websites and figures in the bread baking movements. I got a lot more of the jokes because I have been exposed to that culture. As a bread baker who does keep an active sourdough starter, this book hit me close to the heart. In fact, I took a break to eat my own sourdough baked bread while reading this book. I did love the little magical realism aspect of the book’s sourdough culture. It sounded wonderful and I love the idea of bread as a unifier as well.

    I liked the female protagonist Lois. I wanted more from her life and reflections in fact. The ending was a bit rushed and felt a bit tacked on. It was on the bombastic side and I would have been more glad of a quiet introspective end to things. Unsurprisingly, like the last of Sloan’s book, the best supporting character was the librarian or researcher. A lot of the other side characters were flatly drawn.

    All in all, I really liked this novel and look forward to reading more from Sloan in the future.

    Read December 29-30, 2017.

  • Books

    Books I Dumped in 2017

    Growing up and up til about five or so years ago, I would rarely dump books. I was often dedicated to finishing series and even slow nonfiction books. As I have gotten older and busier, I have less time nowadays to read and enjoy a book. As a result, I am more discerning when I read and if I try to read a book and it’s not engaging me or if I feel it’s not going well, I will dump it. I have only done a handful of times in the past few years, but I’d like to note them more.

    You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice by Tom Vanderbilt

    I was looking to this as I heard a podcast interview with the author on a podcast. I like exploring taste and preferences. I made it after the introduction and the first chapter before giving up. There didn’t seem to be a cohesive presentation of ideas. The book with this topic does not need to definitely answer questions about taste or preferences, but it seemed to meander all over the place. I also did not find his interviews with experts interesting. After reading some of the first chapter, I stopped and read some online interviews which echoed my views about the disorganized presentation of ideas. I always have many other books to read so I dumped this one. Too bad.

    Dumped January 31, 2017

    Books that were put on hold to be read later so not dumped:

    Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac

    I think I removed this from my Good Reads Currently Reading sometime in 2016. I own it and classic French novels in French are difficult for me to read. So maybe in the future.

    Possible books to be dumped:

    The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

    I’ve been reading this book mostly off since January 2016. I should give it up but it is so weird. Maybe I will make a dent in it sometime in 2018 but I’m not gambling on it either.