Sunday, January 26, 2014

Finished Item TWO!

Unfortunately, the evil empire of Google no longer allows me to link photos from the evil empire of Yahoo.  You'd think they'd form some sort of unholy alliance.

Chouette  The pattern had a chart and written instructions.  I would like to say this made me an adept chart reader but that would be a big fat lie.  Charts confuse me.  You would think they wouldn’t, since I knit left to right, as I read. I really struggled to reverse the topmost cable which made the horns of the owl.  There was a significant amount of frogging and swearing and do-over.  I think however, that I learned enough about cables for this to be of benefit in my next cabling project.  

A friend of mine had a rough year last year and shortly before Christmas/Solstice she put up a picture of Chouette on facebook and said facetiously “Who wants to knit this for me?”  Well, I DO!  I had never knitted cables before, and this is the classic owl cable so it seemed like a good starter cable. (SNORTY SNORT SNORT).  

There were some keystone kop-like antics in making this.  My kid spilled macaroni on the first skein of yarn.  Luckily I bought 2 because I thought 1 was pushing it with the yardage listed on the pattern. The yarn I used is Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky.  I’m not usually a fan of single plies because so often they pill if you raise an eyebrow at them.  This yarn, though, gave me a problem I had not encountered before.  As I cast it on, it unspun and broke. TWICE!  I ended up pausing  several times in the final cast on attempt in order to respin it against my leg.  I don’t know if this is peculiar to this yarn or peculiar to lefties knitting this yarn or if it is because I am a lefty mirrored knitter.  The yarn also sheds like crazy.  Fuzz everywhere.  Do not knit beige yarn in dark clothes!  I will say though that I don’t find this a scratchy yarn and I think once it has a little soak with some hair conditioner that it will be soft enough for anyone to wear next to skin.  I hope it is anyhow, or I will have to instruct the recipient to line it or mail it back to me for lining. 

I knitted this on 2 shorter circulars as I am not a fan of either DPNs or Magic Loop for hats.  Since the yarn is a wholesome oatmeal color, I used my Harmonies for ultimate contrast between yarn and needles.  I highly recommend that to others with powerfully corrected vision.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week 3, Book 3: Fat Vampire 4: Harder Better Fatter Stronger

This is not a stand alone book. There is really no way to review the 4th book without spoiling the hell out of the first three, should you want to read them.  You should want to read them, strictly for entertainment purposes.  This is not enriching literature.  That is probably why the first 4 are sold as a Value Meal package of ebooks.

Reginald is a fatty.  Not chubby, not hollywood fat, but real fat.  He's 350 lbs. He's a comfort eating loner who is the recipient of workplace bullying.  Usually, anti-heroes are morally nebulous.  Reginald is an anti-hero in all the external ways.  He is turned in book 1 after being brutally attacked by some douchebag vamps.  Think of every mean, popular, dim asshole who picked on dweebs in high school.  It was a lot like that.  So a less cool, but much older stronger vampire, Maurice, turns Reginald because otherwise, he'd die. This turns out to be a tipping point in the vampire world as you don't let the fatty sit at the cool kids' table in the cafeteria.  You just don't!

Since ole Reg isn't going to become superstrong or fast he ends up becoming super smart-- his usual braininess ends up getting amped up to excellent strategizing,  pushing the limits of glamouring, and a little mindmelding.  Reg can't seem to give up his human weakness for stress eating, which can be somewhat offputting, even for me, a champ at eating feelings.  He wears his low self esteem on his 4XL sleeve.  That is, to me, more offputting than the extreme eating descriptions. Reg, despite his unattractive physique and whining manages to get a superhot girlfriend.  Ah, male authors and wish fulfillment!  I found Reg's girlfriend, Nikki, to be sort of boring and flat.  Claire, a young girl Reg becomes friends with because he can't bear to eat her, is much more interesting.

The first 4 books are really about the descent into chaos and revolution in the vampire world, with a little run in with pissed of angels in the mix.  Each book ends at a pretty dramatic cliffhanger.  So the first half of each book is fixing a shitstorm and the second half is the gathering of clouds for a new shitstorm.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Week 2, Book 2: Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch

I really enjoyed this book.  The first half was kind of rough, what with the struggles of show biz and the cavalcade of losers that Rachel meets in her quest for love.  I found the discussion of improv comedy training and the processes of SNL pretty interesting.  The grinding shallowness regarding how women are 'allowed' to look in our entertainment is pretty much as I expected, but still a soul sucking bummer.  I very much identified with the midlife semi crisis that Rachel found herself in, although, no one gives a shit how I look at work as long as I come to work with all my clothes.

Then! When least expected, Rachel finds herself pregnant by a guy who she hasn't been with all that long and they forge a coparenting arrangement independent of their relationship.  I don't know if they are still together, I suppose if I wasn't lazy as crap I would check wikipedia. It's just an amazingly grownup thing to do, to put your kid ahead of  your id.  What a goddamn shame everyone doesn't do that. 

There are some laugh-out-loud discussions of pregnancy and that first bit of time after the baby is out when your whole life is a series of whatthefuck and I'msofakingtired.  That's the fourth trimester there and it's exhausting.  

First Finished Object

At one time, I was able to write a blog post from a flickr link. . .now flickr links are not accepted for photos by blogger.  Here is a photo.  I semi-improvised this cape for my 5 year old niece.  I started with a pattern for a top down raglan cardigan and fiddled around till I got a gauge I liked.  The yarn is Regia Vulcano 6 ply. It's a nice superwash/nylon blend in sports weight and best of all, it comes in a 150 g put up.

I ended up using a size 6 US needle.  The needle was my brand new Caspian from knit picks.  It is just as nice as their other needles, a different color is all.  Now, I love my original Harmonies, but I knit a lot of purple stuff.  I got some Symphonies when they first came out and the sizing was inconsistent, but still, mostly good interchangeable needles for the price.  So as it stands, I have 2 complete sets of Harmonies, one of Symphony and one of Caspians.  I would rather knit with shitty yarn than shitty needles.

So, I cast on 36,  I knitted 6 rows for the collar and then the rest is stockinette with a 4 stitch garter band on either side.  I did the raglan increases until it looked approximately like where the stitches would go onto holders to be used for sleeves later.  I didn't put the stitches onto holders, instead I put a few more increase rows in and then I knit straight down until the amount of yarn I had looked like approximately 1/3 of the yarn.  I got out my trusty kitchen scale and weighed the ball, then I knitted 10 rows and weighed it again and I determined that each row used 2 grams of yarn.  I knew I wanted to do a feather and fan border, four repeats of four rows each plus a row to cast off and a smallish amount of yarn for an i-cord button loop, so I knew to start the border at 35 grams of yarn.  I ended up casting off 1 row early so that I did just the one row after the eyelets.   I picked up stitches on the back of the border to graft in the i-cord loop for the button.  I fitted it as I went along.  The button is just a pink flower button I found at walmart.

This yarn was very prone to blooming when wet, though I am pleased to report the color was mostly fast, just a tiny tinge to the soaking water.  It could have blocked even larger, but my niece is pretty shrimpy, like the rest of the family.  The feather and fan opened up really nicely and the shape held without any pins at all. Instead of a fancy blocking mat, I used a floor mat from harbor freight.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Week 1, Book 1 The Geek With the Cat Tattoo

I sat down this morning because the most orderly way to read 52 books in 52 weeks is to check in weekly with a freshly finished book.  Instead of having a book to write about with my coffee I realized that I am a total spaz.  It's either hyper focus or no focus at all with me.  At 7 am, I hadn’t finished a book during the first 7 days of the year because I have SEVEN books in progress.  I am reading a contemporary romance, a historical romance, a paranormal non-romance, a contemporary mystery, a horror novel, a memoir and a religious book.

I haven’t finished a knitting project in the first 7 days of the year because I have SEVEN things in progress!  I am knitting a cape (for my niece), a hat for a friend, a scarf for gifting, 2 shawls for myself, a pair of socks for myself and a pair of slippers for myself.  The slippers are about my 4th start at slippers.  I keep not liking the patterns I pick, so the slippers should count as seven projects on their own, as many times as I’ve started them and ripped it all out.

Clearly, I need to get my shit together and finish some stuff. I sat down to read at lunch and whipped out the last 70 pages or so of The Geek With the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir.  I bought this because it was a $0.99 book on kindle and I'd enjoyed the first book in the series.  TGWTCT is the print equivalent of 162 pages.  For comparison, The Shining is 466 pages.  (It's also the horror book I'm reading). 

The first book in the series is a contemporary romance with a little suspense action thrown in.   I was disappointed that this one was not a suspense hybrid.  The Geek of the title is Emerson, who builds and repairs guitars, and is afraid to talk to girls like Lola, who's a free spirit musician with a recent bad boyfriend experience.  The Cat, is a magical cat, named Sam, who has the ability sort of mentally push humans around.  JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER CAT.  EVER.  

I found a lot of the conflict manufactured in this, what with Lola not being bright enough to figure out if Emerson was shy or just a jerk, and Emerson being all insecure and shy. There was a significant amount of navel gazing by the characters.  It's also always weird to me in a book when characters care what their siblings think of their boyfriends.  Do adults do that?  I never cared. Anyhow, I think it's probably a lot harder to plot a romance in a novella than in a full length novel, and it showed in this book.  I would probably give it a C- if it was more expensive, but at the current bargain price, it was a C.

I read it on the kindle app on my phone or on my nook HD+ tablet.  I don't care for the weird way that Kindle tracks your progress by percentage.  However, I do find it pretty crazy the way it tracks your reading speed and then tells you how much longer you have to read the book.  It's pretty gratifying for people who read fast.