Month: August 2008

Project 166/365 - Foliage

The universe may be sending me a message that I should not wear red knit hats because every time I make one, they end up too big or too small. This one ended up being way too big, and I am someone with an above average head size. I like the fact the pattern is top-down, but I really was not in the mood to make this hat and made several mistakes while doing the lace. I probably will never wear this hat. This red Cascade 220 is the one I ripped from Koolhaas (and from leftovers of Gretel) and that for some reason, I keep having bad luck with it though it’s a lovely colour and yarn. I still have one skein of it which will go into storage for who knows how long because of my upcoming move.

Foliage, started August 23rd 2008, finished August 26th, 2008 Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Foliage by Emilee Mooney from Knitty Fall 2007 Ravelry Pattern Page
Size: Worsted version
Yarn: Cascade 220 (220 yards/100g) in #800 Cranberry – I had exactly 58g left (weighed at my LYS) of this.
Needles: #7/4.5mm metal long circulars with magic loop
Modifications: Emily Ocker CO and I only knit 5 rows of 1×1 rib because I was running out of yarn.
Cost of Project: $7
Would I knit it again? Doubtful. If I do, I’ll use lifelines or make the chunky version or the beret mod.

If you’re anything like me, one of your favorite reasons to read is for the story. Not for the character development and interaction. Not because of the descriptive, emotive powers of the writer. Not because of deep, literary meaning hidden beneath layers of metaphor. (Even though those are all good things.) No … it’s because you want to know what happens next?

Or, um, is it just me? – BTT

It’s hard to say what my favourite reasons are to read. It is true that plot and story factor into overall enjoyment of the book. There have been many times when I dislike the characters but am interested in the plot or the writing powers of the writer. I think style and themes really do factor into books I like; it’s also why I can read poetry these days. It is true that a good character can not really be saved if the plot is boring, but I find good plots more common than good characterizations, and both are fed by good writing. But yes, stories and plot are very important to my enjoyment of a book for the most part.

In The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes and Watson commit a crime for good and even witness a greater crime, but do nothing. This collection has quite a few stories which highlights Sherlock Holmes as someone between the gray area of the official law and that of private matters. He is not amoral nor a vigilante, but he is not a police man; if law is broken, he is not obligated to reveal all. The stories in this are even more violent than before; I guess turn of the century allowed for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to be more aggressive in his plots and characters.

The Valley of Fear is the last of the novels, but not of the Holmes canon. It as violent as Return of Sherlock Holmes relative to the earlier stories. It is very similar to the first Holmes novel/story The Study of Scarlet. It is not in the same style as Hound of the Baskervilles (which is more gothic in feel), and like SoS, two sections, one of which does not have Holmes or Watson at all. It is more clever than the first novel though, and I liked parts of the plot and the characters. Like many, I do think these stories are better in short story form since the flashback section can drag on. The ending felt a bit anticlimactic to me though.

My fourth Edith Wharton novel; I think she may be one of my favourite female classic novelists. Edith Wharton called Summer, her “hot Ethan.” Before reading this book, I thought I would like this more than EF because that novel was very bleak. I liked Charity in the first chapter and then grew indifferent to her; though, the plot had more interested and sympathetic to her plight towards the end. When it was first published in 1917, it was not a critical success though many see it as Wharton’s finest work. It is dramatic, but not in the way EF’s ending is because there is definitely a sense of realism to Charity’s predicament. It must have been controversial in its time, and like most of Wharton’s work, has themes of forbidden love and women who “fall” from grace in some way. All in all, I grew to appreciate the weight of the work by the ending however much I did not come to love the characters.

This past week, I finished reading Hardy’s Far From the Maddening Crowd and continued reading more Holmes by finishing The Return of Sherlock Holmes and starting The Valley of Fear. After this novel, there will be two more short story collections and then I will be finished the Holmes canon on audiobook. I spent all of yesterday listening to Holmes, and it has been a long experience. I enjoy it for the most part, and though I have not ever been a shipper for slash pairings, Holmes and Watson are made for one another and I totally ship them.

Today and this week, I want to start Wharton’s Summer, Graham Swift’s Last Orders, or The Book of Lost Things. It’s hard to determine at the moment since I have so many books; they are going to consume me. I am going to miss having so many books around me like this in a month’s time. During the school year, I get antsy if I haven’t read a book for fun in more than three weeks. It is such a relaxing release for me to read a book for fun, and I miss it if I don’t do it regularly such as spending most a day reading and finishing a book.

Off to do some errands and then back for some intense reading. Have a good week!

Literary Links:

Just a couple of book lists this week: 50 Amazing and Essential Novels to Enrich Your Novel and 30 Books Everyone Should Read Before their 30th Birthday

Whether you usually read off of your own book pile or from the library shelves NOW, chances are you started off with trips to the library. (There’s no way my parents could otherwise have kept up with my book habit when I was 10.) So … What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library? – BTT

I use to spend childhood summers in the library, and my dad took me. Nothing funny or odd other than the incalculable amount of time I spent there and still do. I go every week, and my library check out and reserves lists are both large. I love libraries, especially public ones. It’s a great way to occupy the time of children and to get lost yourself. Not all libraries are created equally, and I will miss my own public library system when I move next month. I will have lots of fond memories of it, and it is honestly, one of the things I will miss the most of living in my hometown.

I found one odd skein of Araucania Nature Wool Chunky on sale at the LYS, and instead of using it to make one project, I wanted to maximize my project possibilities by getting two neckwarmers from one skein.

Project 159/365 - Not So Cashmere Neckwarmer

Quick, easy, and good excuse to use a cool wood toggle button. I cast on 17 sts. since my yarn less than super bulky. I knit for 22″ and then blocked it severely because it curls quite a bit.

Not So Cashmere Neckwarmer, started August 17th 2008, finished August 18th, 2008 Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Cashmere Neckwarmer by Kim K. Ravelry Pattern Page
Size: 5″ (13cm) x 25″ (64cm) blocked
Yarn: Araucania Nature Wool Chunky 100g 131 yards/120 m #115 – less than 1 skein
Needles: 7.0mm
Tools/Notions: 2″ wood toggle button
Cost of Project: $6 yarn + $2 button = $8
Would I knit it again? Yes, but I’d slip the knit stitches and/or find another to make it so it wouldn’t be that curly. I also would love to use it in the intended bulky cashmere.

Project 160/365 - Luxe Neckwarmer

This is quite the popular neckwarmer pattern, and I can see it why. The chunky yarn makes it go by fast, and the feather and fan stitch is very attractive. Definitely a good stashbuster and gift knit. I am going to give this one to a friend.

Luxe Neckwarmer, started August 18th 2008, finished August 19th 2008 Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Luxe Neck Warmer by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark from Knit 2 Together Ravelry Pattern Page
Made for: Nathalie
Size: 4.75″ (12 cm) height
Yarn: Araucania Nature Wool Chunky 100g 131 yards/120 m #115 – less than 1 skein
Needles: US9/5.5mm
Cost of Project: $6
Would I knit it again? Yep.

My third Hardy book which makes him my most read Victorian author I think. It’s not that I love him, but I keep being drawn to his books and not finding him irritating to read. I had heard good things about this one in particular. Nothing could be as tragic and as sad as Jude the Obscure. I liked Gabriel the character very much in this book. I thought there a few genuinely funny and romantic scenes in this novel. Bathsheba is naive young woman though; however beautiful and spirited she may be. For a woman who is independent and self-confident, she has no way of dealing with men. She always leads them on and it’s sad to watch her get entangled as is often the theme with the relationships and women in Hardy’s novels. I haven’t read Tess yet, but this is definitely my favourite Hardy novel of the three I have read so far. Having read both this, his first novel, and his last novel (Jude), I can appreciate Hardy’s progression as an author.

More Stockings than Kilt Hose

This pattern has often been paired with Regia Silk, and I would not have used the yarn in particular if it was not on sale; it is nice and soft. This is my first Nancy Bush pattern, and while it was not a perfect project, I look forward to making more of her sock patterns. These are not quite knee socks or kilt hose, more like stockings. The turn down cuff takes a lot of yarn which made me doubt how much I could spare for leg length. I also wanted to do it in 2.5mm as many have, but I only have those in DPNs, and I really like knitting socks magic loop now. I finished these for WIPwrestling of Ravelympics 2008.

Highland Schottische Kilt Hose, started July 25th 2008, finished August 17, 2008 Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Highland Schottische Kilt Hose from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush Ravelry Pattern Page
Yarn: Regia Silk 4-ply / 4 fädig Solid in #091 (50% Wool, 25% Nylon, 20% Silk) 50g – 3 skeins
Needles: My faithful Hiya Hiya #US1/2.25mm 100cm/40″ metal circulars

Project 157/365 - Highland Schottische Kilt Hose

I am a little more than 5’4″, and my calves are not the most slim so I was worried about it slipping especially since I knit it on such small needles than originally called for. They do slip a bit, but not too much since I think the elastic threading I knit into the 2″ ribbing really helps. I knit the leg for 11″ (mostly because I was afraid of running out of yarn, the leg itself took nearly one 50g ball). It was all for naught though since I could have easily knit 1 or 2 inches more of the leg; the first (right) sock weighed in at 62g. I knit the foot 2″ before toe instead of 2 1/2″ called for due to fingering weight change.

Modifications: Yarn weight and needle change (pattern intended for a man), elastic threading in ribbing, 2″ before toe on foot, and magic loop as usual for me.
Tools/Notions: Elastic threading
Lessons Learned: Picot edging, and I finally did Russian Join correctly. I had tried learning it before, but this was the first actual successful time.
Cost of Project: $18 for yarn
Would I knit it again? Even though I do not seem to love the calf decreases as much as other people seem to, I would definitely like to knit this again. I’d knit the leg 12″ to 14″ next time and use 2.5mm, and keep the mods I had this time.
Helpful Links:

Grey Kilt Hose

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is the second of the Sherlock Holmes short stories has his first case (as recounted to Watson), another early case, and introductions to Sherlock’s brother Mycroft and his archnemeis Professor Moriarty. It’s not as varied as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but it does have a couple of interesting cases. It reveals a lot about the Holmes so I think it’s worth the read in the canon. By this book, I find more reasons to adore Holmes and the Watson/Holmes relationship.

The Hound of the BaskervillesThe Hound of the Baskervilles is the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes novels and has his most famous case. Of the three novels and one short story collection I have read so far, I am inclined to agree at least with the former. It is a rather good stand alone novel as you may not get the background on Holmes or Watson, but their characters are easily sketched. This novel has more than one mystery, and more red herrings as a result. The earlier two novels were not as layered. It is very gothic. Why is Devonshire so gothic? I guess it is the moors. Watson shines in this novel particularly. I think my appreciation of these stories and characters were cemented in this novel. The pacing, mystery, and likeability of this novel were all there.

You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:


  • Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general?
  • Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?

And, Second:

  • Do you consider yourself a sports fan?
  • Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story.
  • (Or a good sports movie, for that matter. Feel free to expand this into a discussion about “Friday Night Lights” or “The Natural” or whatever…) – BTT

I have never read any books about the Olympics, and I do not read a lot of books on sports in general. The one I can remember off the top of my head and that I liked quite a bit is Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch. I do consider myself a sports fan in the sense that I like spectating sports, but I do not have any strong loyalty to any teams or countries. To some, but not to the level that most fans of. I would also like to read Friday Night Lights and have been meaning to since the television show began as I hear it is a good sports story. I rather like nonfictional sports books it seems.

As for the Olympics, I have been watching it and keeping up with it for many years.

Essays in Love / On loveAlain de Botton’s book of essays on love and romance written in novel prose about an unnamed narrator in the beginning to the end of a romance. When I started the book, I found out that it is on Peter Boxall’s 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. That was a pleasant surprise, and it is nicely unconventional to be put in on the list. While is technically fiction, it really is a book of essays in an unconventional format. I have read de Botton’s The Art of Travel and found his subdued, analytical writing style and subtle humor very comfortable to read. The book works for me completely because I am a romantic and philosophical. I found myself relating to it such as Number 17 in False Notes discusses a lover’s view of their partner compared to the family/parents view of them, and I think this is very true and honest especially in my case. In family, I seem to be viewed as this other person compared to the world. It also has the aforementioned humor which involves diagrams, equations, and other sly random funny bits. I liked this, but then again, I think the style, essays, and romanticism worked for me personally that may not interest others.