Saturday, January 31, 2009

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

This is one of the best books I have read in awhile. A story about an orphaned vet who mistakenly ends up on a circus train during the depression, I could not put this one down. I finished it in less than 5 days.

The story is well researched and has a twist. From the opening, you think you know where the story is going, only to find out that you only things aren't as they seem.

I alternately loved and hated the characters, and found myself reading for hours on end just to find out where the story would lead.

I did not realize the parallels with the biblical story of Jacob until the end. It is certainly not the story of Jacob, but does use some twist on biblical names, and some of the events that happened to Jacob in the bible are similar to events that happened to Jacob in the book.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Darker and more mellow than his previous books, I did not find this one as laugh out loud entertaining as some of Sedaris' previous work. Still an entertaining read, I especially enjoyed the 'Smoking Section'.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


No pictures to show, but my weekend was filled with a fair amount of knitting due to my husband being in Annapolis this weekend for a tux fitting/ghost pub crawl, and the fact that I wasn't feeling all that well, so I didn't push myself to do my usual weekend workouts.

I worked on three different projects: I did a few repeats of my Flower Basket Shawl, for some lighter knitting during movie watching I worked on the Smock Jacket with some easy moss stitch. Today I worked a bit on my Snowflake socks and am now through the heel and into the gusset. I need to free up my size 2 circulars for later in the Smock Jacket.

My husband has charged himself to help me in my resolution to finish what is on my needles by discouraging me from starting any new projects. Except, or course baby gifts for some upcoming little ones on the way. For this he will whole-heartedly encourage me to cast-on.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Toy

This arrived on Wednesday. So far, so good. I haven't sewn in awhile, so I grabbed a precut project to do to learn how to use my machine.
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Sunday, January 18, 2009


This is how much yarn I had left over at the end of my secret project. The ball was looking like I had a lot to go, but about halfway through the castoff row, I started to worry. That skein was looking awfully small. Would I make it of have to rip back? With 600 stitches in the last round, this would be no small feat. And with the 600 stitches translating into 3600 bind-off stitches, I had no way to accurately judge if I had enough yarn or not....Luckily I made it, with 6 inches of yarn to spare.

It is blocking now and is lovely.

In other news, I went into Joanne Fabrics to buy blocking pins on Saturday and walked out having ordered a sewing machine. I couldn't help myself, I found fabric that would make the perfect drapes to match my new bedding, and I have been unable to find the perfect drapes anywhere. But not owning a sewing machine presents a problem. I could do the project on my mother's machine, but she doesn't live here, and our visits are usually too short to accomplish such a project. So I meandered to the sewing machine section intending just to look....I should have known I would buy one as soon as I saw that just too perfect fabric.
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Monday, January 05, 2009

When the cat's away....

Saturday was a lovely day. Hubby had to go to work, so I planned out a wonderful day for myself while he was away. In the morning I went running in Fairmount Park with the Philly Runners and went to the coffee shop with the group after my 8.5 miles and had a cup of hot cocoa and caught up with some friends.

Then I spent the afternoon at my favorite yarn shop Slip Knot working at the large back table on my Mary Jane baby socks. And of course, I no sooner made the resolution to shop from my stash than I found this:

Artful Yarns Cliche
A cotton/linen/acrylic blend in this stunning green.
And, what? It's on sale!? Seven skeins later and I had made my first yarn purchase of the year.

I even had a project picked out for it before I even left the store:
Lotus Blossom Tank by Sahron Shoji
From the Best of Interweave Knits Book

I will probably knit it with some modifications as laid out by Lickety Knit to increase the length of the tank and make the bust shaping more flattering.

Of course this is more of a summer/spring project, so this will not ruin my resolution to finish what is already on my needles.

My husband stared in disbelief when I came home with my spoils and just said, "But, we have so much yarn already." Exactly.
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Friday, January 02, 2009

The Gathering by Anne Enright

This was one of the more disappointing books I have read in awhile. I am one who actually does often judge a book by its cover, or at least pick a book by its cover, and this one looked intriguing and even won an award. Who could go wrong? Although Enright's use of language is beautiful, the plot of this story about grief and deception in a large Irish family is lacking at best. I also found the main characters inconsistencies and contradictions to be distracting. While I realize that her inconsistencies are purposeful (so as to show the nature of childhood memories and the imagined stories we develop about our ancestors), I didn't trust the narrator's story because of it. This took me awhile to get through, but I finally did complete it and am glad to move on to the next book.

A leap of frog and a lot of unfinished business.

Here is a recent finished project of mine. This frog hat was knit for a coworker's child so that she could match dad's outfit for Philadelphia's Mummer Parade.

Pattern: Frog Hat (Free Cascade Yarns Pattern)
Filatura Di Crosa Baby Zarella 1 ball each in colorway 1 & 15, plus some scrap worsted weight black yarn
Needle Size: Size 8 for Cast-on and Size 6 for body of the hat
Size: 6 months

Next are two projects that probably you probably won't see for awhile, as I am trying to finish a secret gift project, and have many other projects on the needles that need to be finished.

This one is a pair of Mary Janes from pattern 18305 in Dale of Norway Baby Designs/ Dalegarn #183 knit with what else but Baby Ull

Next is the Smock Coat from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby Book knit with Knit Picks Shine Sport.

Since it is the beginning of the new year and I had set a few goals for myself last year, I decided to revisit those goals and see how I did and make some new knitting goals for 2009.
In 2008 I kept my knitting goals simple due to my crazy school schedule. They were:

1. Try fair isle - I already have some yarn and all the tools I need.
2. Finish at least 1 sweater
3. Delve further into lace knitting : I plan to try the flower basket shawl, and have yarn to do at least 1 more shawl (maybe a Niebling)

Well I did try fair isle with my snowflake socks, and actually had some success. Unfortunately these socks remain unfinished, but as I will discuss later in the post I have a plan for my unfinished business.

I did finish 1 sweater with my FLS, but I also have an unfinished Bell Sleeved Jacket to complete. I just couldn't resist the bandwagon for the FLS!

As far as the lace knitting goes, I finished my Branching out Scarf and started a Flower Basket Shawl, but alas this project too remains in the unfinished category. I have delved into some worsted weight lace, such as FLS, and my current secret gift project as well. As for Niebling, well.....I purchased a Niebling pattern (Lyra) while I could get my hot little hands on it at a reasonable price. Maybe someday I will knit it.

Okay, so I tried out a lot of my resolutions, but have had a little trouble with follow through.

My knitting resolutions for 2009? Well number 1 is no surprise, but here they are:

1. Finish my unfinished business. I have many projects on the needles that I need to finish before I get swept up in all that new project fever. In order of how I will do this
a) Secret Gift Project (70% complete)
b) Snowflake Socks (65% complete)
c) Bell Sleeved Jacket (65% complete)
d) Flower Basket Shawl (20% complete)
e) Baby Mary Janes (10% complete)
f) Smock Jacket (10% complete)

Of course, I always like to have about 3 projects on my needles at all times anyway, so there may be some overlap. Usually I have 1 lace project, 1 sweater or bigger project and 1 small project like socks that is very portable on my needles at all times to fit different knitting situations.

2. Socks. I have developed a habit of collecting skeins of sock yarn. Everywhere we go, I find the local yarn store and find a skein that reminds me of the place we visited or that has a simply beautiful dye job. I need to get in the habit of using these skeins to make even more beautiful socks to keep my feet warm.

3. Knit my man a sweater. Gasp! I have been married for over a year, and have not knit my husband anything except a hat. Although my husband is generally not into sweaters, I did find a pattern that appeals to him in the Best of Interweave Knits book called Cambridge Jacket by Ann Budd. I think it is about time to knit my man a sweater. (And maybe some Dashing mitts as well).

4. Shop from my stash. I have a lot of yarn. Probably not as much as some of you, but even so. I currently have enough yarn for 3 sweaters in addition to the yarn to finish the sweater on my needles. I also have enough yarn to knit about 9 pairs of socks, and 3 shawls. I also have a lot of skeins that would be great for smaller projects.

5. Try Mobius knitting. I have had my eye on the Cat Bordhi Mobius Cowl for awhile, and already have a skein of variegated yarn picked out for it.

6. Try Entrelac knitting. I may start with a pair of socks, but I also have the Forest Path Stole in the back of my mind.

7. Knit more, now that I have the time.

There are a lot of other things I want to accomplish, but for now this seems like a reasonable list of goals. I look forward to a year of knitting in 2009.