knitting it up in a big way

2015 Reading Challenge

Somewhere in May or so, I was handed a reading challenge for 2015, and I thought ‘hey, why not?’ and I’ve been slowly chipping away at it ever since. I wasn’t strict with myself, I didn’t quite finish and I bent some rules, which I’ll note below. But I got quite far, so I thought I’d share with you, as well as some cursory notes from me! I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks on my commutes and car trips, so I noted those that I found particularly good as well.

This was fun! Because I wasn’t being strict, I didn’t feel any pressure from it, and I started out with one book per prompt, but then decided if they applied to multiple prompts, then so be it. It didn’t really change any of my reading choices, except giving me a little incentive to finish books that dragged on a bit (Handmaid’s Tale, I’m looking at you), and inspiring me when I was in between books.

8 books

1. An author you’d never read before: (14 new authors by my count, I won’t bore you with a list)

2. A book that takes place in your hometown: (None of the books I read took place in my state, much less my hometown.)

3. A banned book: PersepolisSlaughterhouse FiveHandmaid’s Tale have all graced the list of frequently banned books.

4. A book originally in another language: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi  (Originally published in French. This was a re-read; I loved it the first time 10 years ago, and I still love it now)

5. An LGBTQ book: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Non main character Tiny Cooper is truly the shining star of this book)

6. A book written by someone under 30: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (This is surprisingly difficult to verify, but this was his first book and he looks really young, so… I’m counting it.)

6 books

7. A non-fiction book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.

8. A book with non-human characters: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. (Featured some dragon characters. This was a truly excellent audiobook.)

9. A classic romance: North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Also a re-read. I love this book, and I am moderately obsessed with Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Mr. Thornton. Hand me my fan, ladies, I feel a swoon coming on.)

2015 books

10. An author of the opposite sex: John Green, Gary Schmidt, Kurt Vonnegut, etc.

11. A mystery or thriller: Heist Society by Ally Carter.

12. A book longer than 500 pages: Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas.

13. A book that became a movie: Paper Towns by John Green (I didn’t see the movie though. I heard mixed reviews. Anyone want to weigh in? Also: listened to the audiobook of this, which was pretty good.)

14. A funny book: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (Totally recommend, I loved this. Can’t wait to read her newest!)

5 books

15. A book with a number in the title: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (My first Vonnegut! So much funnier and more surreal than I expected. I listened to the audiobook, which was excellent and read by Ethan Hawke)

16. A book published this year: Ms Marvel Vol 2-3 are the only titles published this year that I read. There’s several titles I’m very excited to read published in 2015, but they keep getting de-prioritized for other titles.

17. A book with a one word title: AttachmentsWingerUnraveling, etc.

18. A book you own but never read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (I’ve been meaning to read this for quite awhile, as it has been a noted influence on many things I love. I had a really really difficult time being so immersed in the head of a protagonist I wanted to slap out of inaction for the majority of the book. That having been said, the atmospheric creepiness was wonderful, and this did end up being a book where the end justified the means, and that isn’t something I say very often.)

7 books

19. A graphic novel: Wicked + the DivineMs. MarvelLumberjanes (I actually read scads. September inadvertently turned into a graphic novel month for me!)

20. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. (I actually don’t remember which assigned books I skipped out on, so I just assigned this one a ‘classic’!)

21. Based on a true story: El Deafo by Cece Bell. (Wonderful mid grade graphic novel based on the authors experiences growing up deaf but desperately wanting a normal childhood.)

22. A friend’s recommendation: Several!

23. A memoir: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

24. A play: N/A

4 books

25. A trilogy: Raven BoysDream ThievesBlue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Not technically a trilogy, but I counted three in the same series as pretty much the same thing. I adore this series. The final volume will be out in March, and I am looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures. Oh, the audiobooks for this series are seriously wonderful.)

26. A retelling: CinderScarletCress by Marissa Meyer (Based off of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. Really fun series, and the final book was just released, but I couldn’t remember many details, so I had to re-read! Listened to the audiobooks, which were very well done!)

27. A book you can finish in a day: Any of the graphic novels were easily finished in a day.

28. A sad book: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard and Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Anderson gets major props for handling tough subjects delicately and beautifully)

29. Pulitzer Prize winner: N/A

30. An author with the same initials as you: Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston (shockingly difficult to find an author with the initials EJ! Haven’t tested if this is hard in general, or if I just have a less frequently used combination of letters)

31. A book set in the future: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner. (I love this series, the third one was just released, and I went to a signing by the authors at the beginning of the month!)

2 books

32. A book that came out the year you were born: A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I really liked this! It was a bit difficult for me to get immersed in, as the style automatically holds the reader at arm’s length, but once I got used to that, this was quite interesting. Definitely a different version of ‘dystopian novel’ than that phrase currently connotes.)

33. A book with magic: Kiss of DeceptionThe Raven Boys (and sequels)

34. A book of poems: N/A

35. A book with a color in the title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.

36. A book with a protagonist of color: Ms. MarvelThis Shattered World, and if you count memoirs Persepolis and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Accomplished: 32/36 ~88%

3 books

Not every book I read fell into one of these categories, so there are a few titles on my goodreads 2015 shelf not mentioned here. I may finish another book before the end of the year, but I sincerely doubt any of them will check off another category from this list. I really enjoyed having the structure of this challenge to encourage my reading habits, so I found another one for next year. I might prioritize some of the prompts that are similar to the ones I missed this year, but other than that, I don’t plan on changing my approach.

 

Did you read any great books this year? Anything I should definitely check out?

FO: Berliner Kindl Weiss and Bouquet Socks

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In the spring I started going down  an internet rabbit hole, which started in pinterest, as many do, and ended up at fringe association’s purple textured shawl in progress. Something about the way the two yarns came together to create a more prismatic, dynamic color absolutely enchanted me. Feeling inspired, I leapt to my stash in search of two similar tones and yardages that I could pair in the same way. When I found them, I was so dang excited, I didn’t even stop to consider an alternative pattern. Though I probably had time, considering that moths had gotten to my Sun Valley Fibers MCN Laceweight and it took me an unnecessarily long time to wind it into a useable center pull ball.

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The name comes from when I was in Germany, where I became mildly obsessed with a Berlin based beer that is called Kindl Weiss. It’s very sour, so they add syrups to sweeten it. I loved the raspberry kindl weiss, and I ended up buying some lace weight yarn from Handmade Berlin that reminded me of it.

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This yielded a larger shawl than I usually knit, having a stash comprised of many many single skeins (I should really kick that habit), but both of these skeins were larger, and the resulting shawl is so warm and soft, and not as dense as I might have feared. I just kind of eyeballed the stripes of the textured and stockinette, and started the garter stitch as early as I dared to have a nice deep garter edge. In a perfect world, it would be a little deeper yet, but I’m fine with this.

Berliner Kindl Weiss <– Ravelry Project Page

Pattern: Textured Shawl Pattern

Yarn: Sun Valley Fibers MCN Laceweight and Yarn Edition Extrageelong Single

Needles: US size 6, 4.0mm

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In the last few years, I’ve been sticking to socks with simpler patterns, knit and purl or shorter repeats. I got a little burned out on complicated patterns that took forever, only to find out that the finished socks didn’t fit my feet. This summer I got an urge to cast on for some super pretty socks, though, and I dug out this skein, which I bought in Cork from Beata. Someday I am going to splurge on one of her clubs, she is absolutely one of my favorite indie dyers. I bought a few skeins of sock yarn, and she mentioned that twist sock wears harder, and is better for socks. At the time, though, I was way too excited to knit something up with my ridiculous pink yarn to not cast on for my candyfloss socks, even though it wasn’t twist yarn.

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I’ve now been wearing these socks for about a month (and more time this week than I should probably own up to), and I can definitely say: they are harder wearing than the Hedgehog Sock yarn. There is much less fuzzing of yarn, and the soles are only just starting to show signs of felting on the bottom. For the record, though, my candyfloss socks seems to wear at a rate that is quite typical of other sock weight yarns. Twist just seems a little hardier is all.

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Bouquet Socks <–Ravelry Project Page

Pattern: Bouquet Socks from the excellent book Toe Up Socks for Every Body

Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock

Needles: US Size 2, 2.75mm

avoidance tactics and/or planning a redesign

You know how sometimes you sit down to do homework, and then 45 minutes later you have a really cohesive plan for making over the bedroom, which has been slightly bugging you as ‘unfinished’ for the last four years?

If you aren’t up on the exact details, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the basic concepts at play here.

I rearranged the bedroom about three years ago, and in our current apartment, I think it’s about it’s best layout available. I’ve had ideas in the past that involved spending some pretty money on furniture, but I’m reluctant to do that. This isn’t our forever home, I want to wait to buy furniture to fit that space, not this. Right now my plan involves spending money on:

  • painting the walls
  • updating the bedding
  • accessories
  • and in my dreams: buying a new rug

Let’s start with the little stuff, hey?

accessories

Clockwise from left: gauzy white curtains, hanging planters, laundry basket, trailing plants.

Right now we have some random cheap-o roller things on the window, and those will probably stay, but if I put some gauzy curtains that maintain privacy but let in as much light as possible, that’s even better. Plus, real window treatments make a room look considered. Don’t need to buy these, just need a weekend to toss some seams on some gauzy fabric I own.

Hanging planters! I love this pretty brassy one. I bought a copper one at a thrift shop this summer, but it hangs kind of high, so it would be nice to get a second one that hangs a little lower for a layered look.

The real, honest to goodness issue with this room is that it kind of becomes the dumping ground of the apartment. There’s a good amount of storage in the apartment, but it does not come in the form of closets, and there are a few larger objects that don’t fit into the cupboards that make up most of our storage space, namely the vacuum and the laundry basket. I do put the vacuum away in the crawl space, but the apartment gets vacuumed much more infrequently when it’s in there. Ahhhh, well. I don’t think that is going to change. But! Our current laundry basket (large, plastic, white, boring) is slowly dying, and there’s an opportunity here, to replace it with something cuter. I’m looking at this one. Cute, right? Like it could stand around in the corner of a room without screaming ‘pay attention to me this is where the dirty laundry goes’. It’s a little more quietly ‘don’t mind me, just discretely storing things en route to the laundry’.

I bought a donkey’s tail succulent a while back, and not only is it NOT DEAD, but some of the baby leaves that fall off (no matter how gently I try to handle it) ARE PROPAGATING. I need to calm down right now or my sheer excitement will kill it off. Anyways, this plant is a dream hanging plant, and I make a point of fulfilling dreams if I can. Plus maybe a fern? Or a spider plant? To fill/even it out? PS- the image is not a donkey’s tail, it’s a string of pearls, and I want one.

The thing that started this whole line of thinking is that our duvet is old, lumpy, and too small for our bed. Technically it’s a full/queen, but when you have an extra deep mattress, and your duvet barely hangs over the edge by 2″, well… it leaves something to be desired, aesthetically. Up until this point, I’ve kind of been acquiring bedding haphazardly, based on need and good pricing, never with any kind of idea for the cohesive whole. But I think now might be a good time to develop an aesthetic or palette, as I move forward.

duvet

Clockwise, top to bottom: Belgian Linen Duvet Cover, Ikea Bjornloka Duvet, UO Jersey Duvet, Ikea Nypronos Duvet

Belgian Duvet Cover: Well, hella expensive to begin with, and possibly slightly too warm a grey? But I’m drawn to the crinkly cozy casual vibe.

Ikea Bjornloka: That large expanse of pristine white in the middle is just asking for trouble. It makes me feel like I’ll somehow projectile throw something really staining onto the bed somehow. But aside from that, cute.

OU Jersey: I am definitely drawn to jersey sheets. They are so comfy! Hard to find for a deep mattress, though. My main concern is how long this duvet cover is likely to last. Will it sprout tiny holes like all of my t-shirts?

Ikea Nypronos: This is probably the sweet spot of affordable, durable, less stainable expanses of bright white, while still being the greyish base I’m hoping for. You can’t really tell in this picture, but it’s skinny little stripes.

Onto the long term goal: painting the walls. When we originally went green for the walls, I thought we were opting for a soft, herby green with just a hint of saturation. Instead we got a green so bright you could film a movie on it. Which we practically have. Jake has grown fond of it’s saturated hue and the strong visual it can lend, but I don’t find it particularly restful. So our compromise is that he gets to keep it for the duration of PoPS, and then I get to pick the next color.

grey walls

This won’t be happening for a while yet, but a soft pearly grey, with just a touch of warmth sounds really nice to me.

Taken altogether, these images make it seem like I’m going for a really pale space, but there’s a lot of wood furniture and wood trim in our bedroom, so I don’t think in the long run it’s going to be all that ethereal. Hopefully it’ll just calm the space down a little. And there’s no question that there are going to be pops of color. I find it really hard to avoid them. A natural way to provide a little color would be a rug!

rugs

This is probably the most unlikely part of this? Because I keep my eye out allll the time, but rugs are not cheap. Especially not larger, room defining gorgeous rugs like I dream about. But who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky at the flea market and score a wonderful rug. I dream in bold colors and traditional patterns.

So there you have it. Maybe once the semester is over, I can use some of my free time to start working on curtains and hanging plants!

So Hi: High Five!

Short Story: I started grad school and suddenly I can’t even accomplish most of the things I want to, much less need to. Expect blogging to be bumpy for the foreseeable future. I’m sorry friends, but I know you’re cool and you’ll get it!

In the mean time, here’s some things that I’ve been enjoying recently.

OMG it’s a Pusheen backpack, I can’t even stand how cute it is! I can’t stand it!

Coconut La Croix! That coconut water phase last year? I didn’t get it. And I tried. But Coconut La Croix? I’m OBSESSED. We just went out of town for a week, and I daydreamed about Coconut La Croix the entire time. #truestory

These insanely gorgeous cowls from woollen flower. In my daydreamy imagination I’ve been toying with the idea of what I could accomplish if I got a knitting machine. It’s really a terrible idea, I don’t even remotely have time to learn a new skill set and embark on a new hobby. But that idea is hanging out at the back of my mind, tickling me… In the mean time, I might work on knitting a hat based off of these…

Ms. Marvel! Oh, heart eyes all the way for this. I would qualify myself as a ‘comics dabbler’ at the very most. I don’t think I’ve really read any for several years, but I kept hearing about how gooooooood the Ms. Marvel reboot is, and I’m here to say: It’s SO GOOD. There are so so many things to love about this. From the cultural standpoint, I’m super excited the the lead is a strong capable female, muslim American where her faith is just a thing that exists, not a plotline for contention. From a story perspective, it’s just fun fun fun watching a nerdy girl figure out her powers with quippy writing and wonderful visuals. I contemplated dressing as Kamala for Halloween, but I ended up as hipster Snow White because I already owned all the elements (the only thing I’m really lacking is any piece of clothing with a lightning bolt on it, and I didn’t have time to throw that together. Though, honestly, that’s all you’d need for a Kamala costume.)

Is it too much for me to assume that likely all of you are as interested in colors as I am? This Radiolab episode is allllll about colors, scientifically and historically! It’s so good I’ve listened to it twice! I promise you’ll crack a smile at the choral arrangement that celebrates the Mantis Shrimp’s amazing ability to see colors we can only dream of.

Tell me about you! What’s going on? How’s life? What have you been obsessed with recently?

Stuff I want to buy, pronto.

Oh, hi there!

I’m in a real consumer mindset right now, and I’m trying to talk myself out of buying ALL THE THINGS. But I thought I might tell you about a few of the things I wish I could buy!

This vintage Dooney & Bourke purse! That brown & black, cross body purse really has my number, guys. Cute! Good size! Hands free!

These Clark’s cut out Hotel oxfords! So cute! Door Sixteen has been posting a bunch of pics of hers, and I like them a lot! (Alot!) Of course the mustard has that pop-y, bright color draw, but the tan and mushroom seem truly useful to me, and I start to justify it by wondering if they can fill the hole left by my grey wingtips, which I haven’t gotten rid of yet, but I really probably should like for real maybe yesterday, they are not in good shape.

Since we’re already on the subject of Door Sixteen, we may as well mention that I want this biker tank from her store K is for Black, even though whenever I’ve tried this style of tank on I feel frumpy, I somehow believe that this time it can be different!

An overdyed quilt! Unlike the others, though, I’m thinking about making this one instead of buying it. I have one quilt that is the perfect midweight blanket, but I’m not terribly keen on it’s pattern. But if I overdyed it… But how do you dye such a massive object? I mean, my dye pot is large, but it isn’t QUILT large.

Running shorts. Okay, I’m having a mild problem with fitness clothes in general. When we started running/going to the gym on a semi regular basis, I started to want to actually feel good in the clothes I was wearing to work out. Crazy, right? Well, it turns out there’s like scads of really cute workout clothes now. And I want to keep adding to my collection. My collection isn’t becoming problematic yet, but if I keep finding athletic clothes I want super much, it may start becoming problematic.

So that’s one tiny corner of my dusty mind. How are you guys????

Lately

Good morning!
Breakfast at a European style bakery I adore.

Made this amazing portrait of @mothramydear tonight.
This wonderful and ridiculous poster I made. It’s a prop for PoPS, and I love how it turned out!

Just remembered about afterlight's #doubleexposure #photoblend options today. So here's some north country meets south side of the city.
I recently remembered about afterlights double exposure option and went to town on this city meets country pic.

After work sun appreciation! 🌞
I know Daylight Savings Time isn’t terribly popular, but I get so excited when it’s still light after work. Jake and I took our first after work jog this week!

Because, really, what else are you supposed to do with Noro? Entrelac is the obvious solution.
I have officially begun my Sous Sous! This isn’t a picture of it, of course. I got gifted 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon a month ago, and the entrelac urge hit! I wanted to finish that project before starting my sweater. I have a slightly ridiculous pile of knits to finish and take pictures of…

Roses.
It was my birthday in early March. So I got some roses! And went out with friends! And family! I love celebrating, I really do. This year was kind of a big one (30), so I did it up proper. It’ll probably be low key for a few years now.

Peanut butter cheesecake is an acceptable dinner, right?
As I said: celebrations were had!

Newly obsessed with this Waverly sweater, and this glorious dimensional tweed yarn (tiverton tweed).
I brought my friend coffee at the yarn shop where she works, which I’ve mostly been avoiding while attempting to destash… For reasons exactly like this sweater: I fell totally in love! Look at that gorgeous tweed! I’m just crazy about the natural base with the little bright flecks of tweed! Look at the fabulous contrast of the colorwork body and the two tone sleeves! I love the little… epaulet style of that sleeve cap! The only thing I might do differently is change the color of the little sleeve cap, but I am seriously in love with this sweater. I dug around my stash and daydreamed about it, but I have a Sous sous that needs knitting first!

Urban jungle kitty. #catsofinstagram #lasso
This handsome fella belongs to a friend of mine, but he posed so obligingly with a fiddle leaf behind him, I couldn’t not take his picture.

FO: featherweight champion

Last September I asked you guys to cast your vote on what yarn I should use to knit the featherweight cardigan, and you chose lace weight strandavarious.

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FO: featherweight champion <– ravelry project page

Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: Laceweight Strandavarious, somewhere in the neighborhood of 600-700 yards
Needles: US size 6 (4.0mm)

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This was a fairly uneventful knit. The pattern is clear and easy to follow, so it was just miles of stockinette as I made my way through. I made it a shorter as I don’t have as many cardigans that work well with the skirts I tend to wear at my natural waist, so I thought I’d make this one fit that bill. I don’t mind how it looks with a longer tee, either. This did leave quite a bit of the skein leftover though.

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As suspected, I preferred the reverse stockinette side. I made sure to sew in my ends in carefully so they wouldn’t be visible from either side, and I picked up stitches for the collar 2 stitches in to create a tidy ‘visible seam’ look. This is what I’m most proud of in this knit. I also did a sewn tubular bind off. It’s a bit of work, but it really makes the finished product feel polished, you know?

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I would absolutely use this pattern again. It makes a very wearable cardigan. Next time, I’d probably opt for a slightly longer cardigan.


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