Yearly Archives

2017

Books

2017 Winter Reading List

December 14, 2017
2017 Winter Reading List

As the Christmas season approaches, I am forced to let go of Fall and acknowledge Winter. I always have a hard time with this because Fall comes late to Texas, and the leaves are just starting to turn by the beginning of December. But with winter comes the winter reading list! I’m keeping my winter reading list a little lighter and more flexible to account for the business of the holiday season. That being said. I recently got my new library card and I’m drunk with power, so who knows where I’ll end up!

Knitlandia

Knitlandia by Clara Parks

Knitlandia has been buzzed about in knitting circles quite a bit. I suppose we all like to hear about the world through our unique lens. Knitlandia is a memior by Clara Parks that discusses her most memorable travels throughout the world, but from the viewpoint of a knitter. Knitting has so many regional differences, that I’m anticipating a lot of interesting stories. I’m hoping that this book will inspire me when I’m lagging on my knitting projects. It will certainly make a good discussion topic at knit nights.

Murder for Christmas

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Murder for Christmas is described as “perfect for fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.” Well, that sounds like me, and a Christmas themes murder mystery sounded like fun. Mordecai Tremaine arrives at a party at the home of Benedict Grame, but finds that not everything is good cheer. When party goers discover a dead body among the presents beneath the tree, the mystery begins and Mordecai must sort it out before anyone else suffers the same terrible fate. 

Still Life

Still Life by Louise Penney

Sarah Bessey often talks about her love for Louise Penney and her Inspector Gamache books, and frankly, I trust her judgement. Still Life appears to be the first in a long line of Inspector Gamache novels. I’m excited by the idea of adding a new series to my To Read list. This one focuses of the surprising yet rather mundane death of Jane Neal. On the surface, it seems like a hunting accident, but could it be more sinister? Inspector Gamache thinks so. The fact that this book is impossible to get at the library and never goes on sale indicates to me that it’s probably a winner. 

Option B

Option B by Sheryl Sandburg

Since reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg shortly after my college graduation, I have been a fan of her writing. Much of Lean In talked about making your partner an equal partner in household labor so that women could rise to their fullest potential in the workplace. When Sheryl’s husband died suddenly and tragically, I wondered how it would effect her message. Option B is her response. Option B deals with Sheryl’s grief, but also her decision to find joy again. I expect this book to be full of wisdom and hard truths, but also grace an encouragement. I’m excited to finally read it.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See was recommend to me by my boss, who read it for a book club. She told me that it was excellent, so I’ve had my eye out for it ever since. It is a World War II novel that deals with a German boy and a blind French girl on opposite sides of a war that neither of them asked for. I have heard that it is incredibly well written, and so I have high expectations for it.

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Since I liked the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, Heartless seemed like the next logical progession. It’s a fairy tale retelling as well, but this time deals with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland rather than a traditional fairy tale. It goes back to before the Queen of Hearts was queen, when she was just a young woman hoping to find her own way, make her own decisions, and fall in love with a person of her choosing. Somewhere along the way, it seems that something goes wrong to give us the brutal Queen of Hearts that we know today.

Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a traditional Christmas read for me, so it’s natural that it would appear on my winter reading list. Growing up, my family would watch a version of A Christmas Carol every year on Christmas Eve. (The best version is the one with Patrick Stewart and I will fight you on this!) Now that we’re adults, we don’t always watch it on Christmas Eve, but we do always watch it sometime during the Christmas season. Now that I’m grown, I’ve taken to reading it as well. Most of the movies are pretty accurate, but I find that the literary Scrooge is a little more sympathetic and complex.

Of Mess and Moxie

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

I do appreciate a good Jen Hatmaker book, and Of Mess and Moxie is her latest. I find that she is down to earth, but totally earnest and convicting. She doesn’t ask you to do anything that she hasn’t already challenged herself about. Sometimes she gets a little distracted with silly stories, but I love her humor and storytelling style, so I’ll put up with it. I may read this one via audiobook, just to see if I come away with a different conclusion (and also because the audiobook is available through my library).

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven was featured in one of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog posts as a book that she loved rereading. I was intrigued, since I consider rereading to be the mark of a good book. Station Eleven takes place in after the collapse of modern civilization as a result of disease. It include a travelling symphony/Shakespeare troupe, some unique comic books and the life and impact of an aging actor. Just that combinations of factors seems interesting to me, so I’m excited to see what it’s all about.

That’s all that’s on my winter reading list so far! I am looking for recommendations as well. I finally got a goodreads account in hopes of getting tailored recommendations, but I value a personal recommendation much more. What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?

Finished Object Knitting

Find Your Fade: Pattern Review and FO

December 7, 2017
Find Your Fade: Pattern Review and FO

I finished my Find your Fade Shawl! After much agonizing over color choices, much knitting, and a last minute change the shawl is complete! As predicted, it’s huge. It’s also really really pretty. Let us discuss.

The Pattern

Find Your Fade: Pattern Review and FO

Find Your Fade is perhaps the most famous of Andrea Mowry’s patterns, and for good reason. It’s accessible to knitters of all levels, extremely versatile, and incredibly fun to knit. The shawl utilizes a creative shaping technique involving a center decrease line.

In the first half of the shawl, the center decrease is paired with increases on either side. Once the shawl reaches the halfway point, it changes to double increases on one side, and a dropped yarn over on the other. It’s a really interesting construction, and I didn’t really see how it was going to work until the very end.  On top of the shaping, Find Your Fade features lace sections and color changes.

I found the pattern to be fairly easy once you got going, though a bit intimidating with my planned deviations. I liked the garter stitch, which made for ideal travel knitting. The lace really only needed concentration around the center decrease line, and I’ll admit that it fudged that part throughout the whole pattern. What I liked about Find Your Fade it that there’s always something going on, whether its a new color to appreciate or a lace section. 

My Modifications

Find Your Fade: Pattern Review and FO

I made modifications to construction of the shawl because I chose to only increase to 223 stitches before switching to the 2nd half of the shaping. This made it very slightly smaller than the original. 

I modified the lace section, because I got rid of the double yarn over, and just did a regular yarn over instead.

The colors were modified as well, because I chose to only use 5 colors rather than the full 7 (cheaper this way).  I did this by combining colors B and C, along with combining colors D and E. There was just barely enough using one skein of Malabrigo sock to finish colors D and E. My other modifications helped sneak it by, but it was a close call. 

The Yarns

Find Your Fade: Pattern Review and FO

Listed as shown from left to right:

Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Thunderhead – Great, affordable fingering weight yarn. Not as soft as the others, but sturdy and consistent. The color worked well for this project. 

Primrose Yarn Co. Adelaide in Cosmos – I discovered this yarn at StevenBe in Minneapolis. The dye job on this skein is just amazing. The colors are complex and incredible. It’s a single ply and very soft. It seemed pretty sturdy for a single ply as well. If my swift can’t break it, it will probably stand up to whatever you can throw at it. I would love to work with this yarn again.

Malabrigo Sock in Candombe – What can I say about Malabrigo that hasn’t been said already? It’s amazing. Candombe is one of my all time favorite colors as well. It looks like oil on water or a black feather when the sun hits it just right. I was worried that it wouldn’t mesh well with the rest of the fade because it has more of a cooler tone, which the rest of the colors are warmer, but I think it does pretty well.

Dream in Color Jilly in Cabaret – I picked this yarn up during the DFW yarn crawl. I especially loved watching the color changes on this. I’ve been wanting to try Dream in Color for a while and the colors did not disappoint!It is a single ply as well, and though I never had issues with breakage, there were a few sections where the yarn got a little thicker or had a bit of a bump. It was pretty rare, but it happened at least twice in my knitting. 

Dream in Color Smooshy in Wineberry – This was a last minute game change. I was going to use a golden yarn to tie into some of the yellows if the Dream in Color Jilly, but once I got a few rows in, the yellow looked too green. We were visiting a few yarn stores in San Francisco, and I picked this skein up at one of those. My only complaint is that it’s very heavy of a fingering. It’s really more like a DK. Luckily it isn’t too noticeable a transition in the pattern, but everyone who saw me using it was surprised to hear it was a fingering weight.

Find Your Fade: Pattern Review and FO

What do you think? Inspired to try your own fade shawl? I’m extremely happy with mine, and since we’ve got a cold snap coming through Dallas, I’m going to need it! I’d love to see your favorite color combos for a fade. Who knows, maybe I’ll knit another someday!

Books Seasonal

2017 Reading List Reviewed

November 30, 2017
2017 Fall Reading List Reviewed

Well, Thanksgiving has passed, so I think we can consider Fall to be over. I’m sure it’s not technically over, but everyone is going crazy about Christmas, so it feels like Winter. I made quick work of my Fall Reading List and then some! I’ll talk about the “and then some” later, but I wanted to give a recap of the books of my Fall Reading List and let you know how I liked them!

2017 Fall Reading List

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

10/10, Do recommend. Dreamland Burning switches perspectives between past and present, highlighting racial tensions in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I thought that Dreamland Burning was thoughtfully done. It was well written and did not shy away from complex and difficult situations. This book would be really interesting to see taught in a classroom setting. That being said, it will definitely piss off whatever rascist old relative you have, so read and recommend thoughtfully.

2017 Fall Reading List

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

I expected this book to be a good ol’ Christian Woman Encouragement Book, and I was right. Uninvited deals with those who feel a little distant from others and handles those feeling of not fitting in. It was nice and obviously close to the author’s heart. You can see her passion for reaching the left out. It’s sweet and encouraging but not a bit of it stuck with me. It’s a nice read where you’re in need of encouragement, but it probably won’t change your life.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

This book did not do much for me. The Nest revolves around four (wretched) siblings and their separate hopes and dreams for their nest egg inheritance. When one sibling wrecks their dreams by using up the money, they all have to deal with the consequences. I found this book to be tiring. Everyone in it is irritated, all the time. They’re all fairly selfish and perhaps that is the point. It just came across to me as a book that is trying hard to be an Adult Book for Grown Ups because nobody is happy and everyone drinks. Also, I found that there were a lot of characters to follow, especially since I didn’t care what happened to any of them.

2017 Fall Reading List

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children By Ransom Riggs

I enjoyed the concept of this book as well as the addition of vintage (creepy) pictures. Riggs does a fairly convincing job of integrating this fantasy into the normal world. The characters are interesting and complex for children. The only issue that I have with this book is the cliffhanger ending. It’s really more of a chapter ending than a book ending. I know the author does this on purpose, but it’s still annoying to me and seems cheap. I’m reading the second book in the series, so I’ll let you know how it goes.

2017 Fall Reading List

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is always delightful. I have no complaint here. Her stories are like good rainy day reading. They are comforting, despite the facts that at least one person is usually dead. They don’t require a ton of emotional investment and they don’t stress me out. I usually give up on trying to guess the murderer, because I’m always wrong. I think that I prefer Christie’s Poirot mysteries to Miss Marple, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this book one bit.

2017 Fall Reading List

North and South by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

Think Pride and Prejudice, but with a lot more class consciousness. Margaret Hale must adjust her county sensibilities to a new life in a manufacturing town. Margaret is much more of a proper lady than Elizabeth Bennet. She is less snarky, a little more noble and long-suffering, but every bit as tenacious. I enjoyed North and South, though it got a little slow in a few sections. A lot of depressing things happen to Miss Hale, which can be a bit of a downer, but I like that Gaskell didn’t shy away from the darker parts of manufacturing towns. 

2017 Fall Reading List

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beaty

This is a kids/young adult book that takes place at the Biltmore Estate. Since I’ve visited the Biltmore, I found that this was extremely interesting. Even if you haven’t seen the actual setting, this book was fun and engaging. It was not overly simplistic for a kid’s book. The suspense felt read and I enjoyed the main character, Serafina. I would recommend this to a younger child or any adult who is young at heart.

2017 Fall Reading List

Emma by Jane Austin

I am officially a good Austinite again, as I have read Emma. And man is she annoying! I think that’s the point, that Emma is a bit of a know-it-all, but she’s definitely a harder character to root for than Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet. But it’s still Jane Austin, and even if Emma is kind of annoying, so still want her to end up happy. Emma is humorous without compromising real emotion, and I still enjoyed the read.

2017 Fall Reading List

All is Grace by Brennan Manning

Brennan Manning is a broken man who still proudly proclaims his message that God loves you just as you are, not as you should be. I found his memoir to be honest and endearing. It is clear that Mr. Manning does not have any illusions about who he is as a person. He is brutally honest throughout the memoir about his alcoholism, his denial of it, and the effect that it had on his loved ones. He does not hide his selfishness as his tells his life story, and I appreciate the complexity of his journey. Brennan Manning would be the first to tell you that he is a walking contradiction, but he would also be the first to tell you that peace from that can be found with God.

2017 Fall Reading List

You are Free by Rebekah Lyons

I’ll admit, I tried to read this on the plane on the way home from San Francisco, but I couldn’t do it. It was too much. It found it to be too trite, too sugar coated. Maybe at another time it will be a good fit, but I didn’t jive with me.

Along with these books, I have read scores of others. I may include my favorites in a separate post, because I’m not exaggerating when I say that there have been at least three separate series and a few other unrelated books. I just recently got a library card since moving to my city over a year ago, so let me know if you have recommendations! I’m currently into young adult fiction, because I’m tired of adult books needing to seem so grown up and cynical about everything. What are your favorites?