Monday, June 28, 2010

The 100 Book Challenge: 25 down

Yes, I'm trying to read 100 books this summer! (So is my older son, who just finished 1st grade. He has the advantage that his books are 10 to 20% the length of mine.)

This summary isn't complete, but it's a good estimation of the books I have read thus far:

1-7) Carolyn Graham's Chief Inspector Barnaby Series- I've read all 7 books.

8) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin

9) Ten Things I Love about You by Julia Quinn

10) Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

11-13) Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan - I've read the first three thus far.

14-21) Barry Maitland's Kathy and Brock series. I think I've read 8 of them thus far. (Confession: I read at least two of them during the spring term, but I'm probably going to count all of them.)

22) House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

23-24) Burning Lamp and Fired Up by Amanda Quick

25) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Ten on Tuesday: books to read this summer!

I took the "100 Book Challenge" along with my older son. Thus far I've done a poor job of planning ahead AND keeping track of what I've read thus far, but here's a quick glance at my reading pile:

1) Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. This isn't my choice, but is required summer reading for everyone who works at my school.

2) Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. I love his books, own all of them, and cannot wait to dive into this one. It's a fantasy set in a country very like Ming China, but not quite.

3) Malcontenta by Barry Maitland. I've now read all the others in this series; this was the last one to come in via Interlibrary Loan.

4) The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. I loved, loved, loved the first book in this series (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) and can't wait to get my hands on this one. An 11-year-old girl in 1950's England, solving murders like a more cynical Harriet the Spy.

5) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I know, I know, everyone's reading this one, but the movie was so good that I have to see if the novel can compare.

6) Blackout by Connie Willis. Time travelors, comedy of manners, and London during The Blitz. The first two novels in the series were fantastic - this is the first half of a duology and apparently ends on a cliff-hanger.

7) The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. I've gotten sucked into the delights of YA fantasy this summer. This series was clearly inspired by the Harry Potter craze, but has its own merits to recommend it. A quick, light read.

8) House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds. Fantastic far-future science fiction, told from the alternating points of view of a pair of lovers who are "shatterlings," or slightly altered clones of the same woman.

9) Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

10) The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker. While this is theoretically part of her long-running series about The Company, it stands on its own quite well. I adore several of the short stories that developed this world so I hope the novel will be equally compelling.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I promised you scarves

and have then been blathering on about everything else under the sun. Time to fulfill my promise, wouldn't you say?

This is Ishbel, knit from some purchased-very-long-ago silky fingering merino from Sundara. Sorry about the lousy photos... it was 5 minutes before I had to take it off the blocking wires and I had no assistant. I don't recall any details of it, except that the stockinette part seemed to take forever and the lace was over in a flash.

This is a Moebius scarf in Boku, knit for my MIL. I also made a matching one for my FIL but forgot to take a picture of it. His was cream rather than light grey. Knit almost six months ago, they were Christmas presents and I now have no idea what needles or anything else I used to knit them.

I actually should have another scarf for this post, but the photos won't download properly. It's another Moebius scarf. I'll get pictures of it up soon... promises, promises.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

I've joined! What can I say... I'm rarely a joiner, but this idea is too good to pass up. I also joined Summer of Socks and actually have socks on the needles already. (Child size 5, using KnitPicks Felici Sport in the Sticks and Stones colorway. Pictures in a later post, when they actually look like something.)

Ten ways to entertain a child:

1) Cook or bake with them. Even really little kids can mix up an egg in a big bowl. Mine love to sift flour, cream butter, and try to shape the drop cookies onto the tray.

2) Read to them.

3) Make a fort. All you need is a sofa, bed, or table, and a couple of blankets.

4) Legos.

5) Playground.

6) Your local park. One of the ones near us has a little pond with turtles and frogs... the latter will occupy my kids for multiple hours.

7) Birdfeeder on the other side of a closed window. It it isn't squirrel-proofed, that's even better. My cousin, who has pretty serious ADD, when he was about 3 or 4 could be entertained for over an hour by watching the antics of the squirrels on the feeder. My aunt said that the bird feeder kept her sane until he went off to school.

8) Pets, if the kids are old enough to treat them nicely.

9) Let's Pretend.

10) Board games, card games, pen-and-paper games...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Books (and movies) of the summer

The Chalon Heads by Barry Maitland: lovely mystery, 3rd in the series.

The Sea of Monsters and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: a quick read, obviously playing off the popularity of the Harry Potter series but with enough original touches to be fun in their own right.

Also, I went to see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" at our local second run/art house theater. If you're thinking of seeing it, GO SEE IT. Do not be put off by the subtitles... they're well done and the dialogue is slow enough that you won't miss any critical action while reading them.

Monday, June 7, 2010

More sewing wishes

My own project bags? Priceless!

In other news, I am frantically knitting away on an infinity scarf using a set of skeins from The Unique Sheep. The yarn is Verve, the colourway is Peacock (I think!) I am pleasantly stunned by how well the colors are coming out. I'm alternating skeins on the last two rows of each color, which involved some fancy math on my part to figure out how many rows I could actually eke out of each 25 gram skein.

The yarn isn't as soft as I would usually use for a scarf, but it isn't scratchy so I hope it will do.

They've got a lot more suggested combinations up than I remember from my last order... might have to place another order soon!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

FO: More mittens!

My mother once joked that my blog name should have been "The Mitten Mama" and she's not far off.

These mittens were a belated Xmas gift for my younger son's preschool teacher. She is a complete treasure and we try to tell her that a couple of times a year. She loves blues, so I thought that a Cascade Paints would work well for her. It actually pooled terribly but she said that she liked the unpredictability of it. (Do you begin to see why we love her?)

Preschool Teacher Mittens:

Details: Spiral Mittens
Cascade 220 Superwash Paints, in Blues
#3 needles, two 16" wooden from KnitPicks
Summary: LOVED the pattern, hated the way the yarn flashed and pooled. I plan on making these again with a different yarn.

Graduation Mittens (#1)

Details: 4-10 Mitten, from Magnificent Mittens by Anna Zilboorg
Cascade 220 Superwash in lime green, pink, and royal blue
#3 needles, two 16" wooden from KnitPicks
Simple ribbed cuff at recipient's request.
Reversed the pattern and the coloring on the second mitten, to make "mirror image fraternal twins"
Summary: Loved the pattern, loved the yarn.

Little Kid Mittens (Campbell)

I knit these back in March so I don't recall most of the details. Cascade 220 Superwash, I think. I finished knitting them AT the birthday party which is why I only have pictures "in progress."

Next up: scarves!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

FO: mittens + pictures!

Finally, I have my computer and my camera AND my camera-cable in the same place.

These are the mittens I made as a good-bye present for my upstairs neighbor, Elli. She's lived in the apartment above mine for nearly 2 years. She requested brown and "classic" which I interpreted as "cables." Turns out I was right. She loves them.

Details: Cascade 220 superwash - lost the band so I can't remember the name of this brown color.
#3 needles, two 16" wooden from KnitPicks
Pattern loosely based on the Lofty Cabled Mittens with the cuff of the Hugs & Kisses Mittens. I mashed the two together and figured out my own way to make the decreases at the top.
Size: a woman's long and narrow hand. About 7" around and 8" long.
Summary: WIN! I love the way these turned out. I took pretty good notes so I hope to be able to recreate these one day.

Next up, the mittens I made for our neighors' son's birthday. His initials are NS, obviously!

Here's the palm side:

Details: Cascade 220 superwash, in grey and red
#3 needles, two 16" wooden from KnitPicks
Pattern mostly from my own experience, with the alphabet provided by Little Cotton Rabbits
Size: a child age 8
Summary: Pretty much a WIN. The mittens fit him now (June) so I'm afraid they may not fit in November. I liked the speed of knitting the top in only one color; I'll definitely do that again.

I speed-knit a pair of mitts for my step-mother for Mother's Day. Modified the pattern to make the cuff less long, which meant putting the cables closer together... let's just say that it's a good thing she has small hands or I don't think she could actually put these on.

Details: Cascade 220 superwash in grey
#3 needles, two 16" wooden from KnitPicks
Dashing, from Knitty
Summary: Cuff was quite tight, since I spaced the cables closer together. I will use the original pattern next time. I do plan to knit these again. They were quick and made a remarkable visual impact for so little effort.

Finally, another good-bye present. The recipient is in my younger son's preschool class and his father is a colleague.

Details: Cascade 220 Superwash, in tan and red
Pattern mostly from my own experience, with the alphabet provided by Little Cotton Rabbits
Size: a child age 3
Summary: Pretty much a WIN. The pattern worked out perfectly. The recipient turns out to have huge hands so the mittens may not fit him by November. Oh well... he'll be in another state by then.

I actually have MORE pairs of mittens to post about, but I'll save them for another day.