Thursday, 18 September 2014

WIP Crack Away KAL

Way back in March, I put up a picture of my nearly finished front half of the hooded tunic. I said at the time I was probably jinxing myself and lo and behold I did as the front now looks like this:


I cast off the shoulders not long after that post and then laid out the pieces to to start seaming the shoulders. It was at that point I discovered the front was 20cm longer than the back, and to make matters worse, Mum pointed out that the shoulders were different heights as well. There was some wailing and gnashing of teeth then as I realised there really as no option but to rip back.

After that, it sat in the naughty corner.

Then there was Zuzu's Petals, which after ripping out the first version I made some progress on the new version in the Debbie Bliss yarn but quickly stalled. It's looked like this for the last couple of months:



All in all, it's perfect timing for the WIP Crack Away KAL to come along. It's co-hosted by Yarns From the Plain and Knit British and runs until the 15th of November, with the only rule being that you must have cast on your projects before the 1st of September. If you want to join in, you'll find the first week chat thread on the Yarns from the Plain ravelry board.

It's my first KAL, and it really couldn't come at a better time for me. I've got some time off before classes start, and once finished, both of these would be ideal for keeping warm on my commute. I'm also looking forward to chatting and getting to know some new knitters in the process.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

FO: Hurricane Hat

This wee hat has been finished for some time (and had a happy reaction from it's new owner) so I really should get the photos up.


I used Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo in DK with 3.25 mm needles to create a baby version of the Hurricane Hat pattern by Andrea Guldin. The pattern is easy to memorise and knits up quickly, and the baby bamboo is gorgeous to knit with and creates a soft and warm fabric. Neither of the photos really do justice to the colour of the green, but it's a lovely sage colour.



This was my first project completely done on DPN's and apart from losing track a little on the last few rounds, I'm (pleasantly) surprised at how well it turned out - especially the lack of laddering where the needles met. It did take me a while to get comfortable holding the needles and get over my terror that the stitches were going to just going to slide off whilst I was knitting, but I think that is a fairly normal reaction. I quickly bought a set of Knit Pro Symphonies which helped with both of those as they gripped the yarn more than the metal ones I had borrowed from the family stash and were comfier to hold.

It's certainly given me the confidence to start a pair of socks, and I can see why the pattern is so popular. Definitely one I will consider knitting again!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

What I'm Reading

What I've read
Fire Study by Maria V Snyder. I finished my reread of this, and I enjoyed it just as much as the previous two. This time around I could see the set up for the Opal trilogy (which never really stuck on me for a variety of reasons), but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of this book at all as I still like Opal as a character.

Now I've finished rereading all three books, I can definitely say it’s been lovely to revisit them all and see the changes as the series progresses. I’ll definitely be rereading these again at some point in the future, and I've just discovered that there is going to be a fourth book out next year, which perked me up considerably when I found out.

Blood Games by Chloe Neill. I didn't quite like this so much as the previous books, mainly for the reason it read like two books badly whittled down to one. It felt like one story line too many which diminished all of them which was a shame as the all had a lot more potential. Saying that, I did enjoy curling up reading it as I suspected, but overall I ended up feeling frustrated that it could have been more. I will carry on reading this series because the characters and the world-building are still great but this definitely wasn't the best of the series.

Shattered by Kevin Hearne. This series has lost a lot of its initial appeal for me now, but I'm invested enough in some characters and interested in the endgame enough to carry on reading. That said, I did like this book a little more than the last one, (politics and investigations will do that to me) but it did feel rather disjointed as the POV's felt out of sync time wise. Overall, I thought it was an all right read, but not one that will stick with me or that I’ll reread.

Earth Flight by Janet Edwards. Some books you can anticipate so much that the actual book never lives up to your expectations. Earth Flight was not one of those books. I loved it every bit as much as the first two, and as well as being a great book on its own, it felt like a fantastic end to the trilogy. There was a lot packed into this book, and it wasn't as involved with the dig site course as the previous two, but neither felt like a drawback to me. In fact it felt necessary to wrap up the trilogy nicely, and I really liked the way certain things had been foreshadowed in the first two books. Basically I loved everything about this book, not limited to the character, world and political development.

I still want to read more about everyone and the worlds, but I read the last page and felt completely satisfied. That, and the fact I that have already reread it, sums up both the book and the whole trilogy for me really.

What I'm reading
A reread of Earth Flight is really the only thing I'm actively reading at the moment, partly because it’s been that sort of week, but mainly just because I loved it that much.

What I'm reading next
I would like to carry on with The Queen of the Tearling again as I'm still intrigued and feeling in the mood for high fantasy again, and Jaye Well’s Cursed Moon should be ready to pick up from the library in the next couple of days. Other than that I would like to make a dent in my TBR pile before term starts so possibly either Child of a Hidden Sea by AM Dellamonica or The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Progress update!

One of my goals for the year was to learn how to crochet properly (my granny taught me to crochet when I was wee, so I had a gist of the basics, but I really couldn’t remember much so I was essentially starting from scratch). I’m really chuffed to say that I’ve managed to meet at least that goal!

 
The cloth on the left was my first attempt getting back at it, and I deliberately chose a cotton DK because the cloth was something I would use regardless of how badly it turned out. In the end I don’t think it turned out too badly, though I did keep losing stitches at the end of the rows, but on the plus side at least some of the ridges are intentional!

The motif on the right was several relatively plain cloths later (both square and circular I’m pleased to say), and I am really pleased with how well I’ve come on in such a quick time. I changed over to a merino 4-ply as these motifs are part of the secret project I’m helping out with.



Since then my confidence and speed have definitely picked up as well as this pile of motifs will attest. Plus I’m managing to stay consistent in my stitches, and I can now crochet this motif whilst chatting away at knitting group. Definitely a sign of progress I think.



And I’m even feeling confident enough to follow a pattern that hasn’t been thoroughly explained by the master crocheter herself (AKA Mum). This is the start of a puff stitch hexy from Kat Goldin’s pattern on her blog. I’m using a some left over acrylic wool mix in a heavy DK, and the eventual plan will to be to use up various bits and bobs for a cosy blanket.

I think learning any new skill is always a big achievement, but I think this feels even bigger for me. My mental health the last year or so really hasn’t been great, and picking up the crochet hook and keeping on going has felt like climbing a mountain. I honestly think it’s helped me get further down the road to recovery and helped me make life changing decisions that will further help. Obviously it’s not the only reason I’m getting better (my awesome family and GP for the main part), but I really can’t put into words how great it feels to show myself that I can still learn something new, and that I’m not totally useless and stuck for the rest of my life.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Flock

I'm not afraid to admit that sometimes it takes very little to amuse me.

Case in point: I got a new set of point protectors the other day. 

Clover double pointed needle protectors in large and small sizes.

I now have a flock of point protectors. *grin*

Friday, 22 August 2014

Reading Friday

I heard back about my application for the Masters course. I got accepted!!! I’m over the moon about it, but I feel like I'm living in a bit of a whirlwind at the moment as I make some big changes to get ready for it.

Some things are constant though, so on to what I'm reading. 

What I finished reading
Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews. I was a bit disappointed with this. The pacing felt off in bits, and perhaps it was just because I was reading it on my phone, but the ending felt a touch anti-climactic. It makes sense thinking about it, as there doesn’t seem to be anyway Kate could fight Roland and win, but I’m left wondering if that will really be the end of the matter, and not in an anticipatory way given the authors have suggested this was to be the end of that arc. I’m finding the very end and the set up for the next book in the series a little hard to believe, but I will read the next one to see how it goes. That’s not to say there weren’t good points in the book, there were some scenes I absolutely loved and a lot of character background that I really enjoyed, which made the sense of disappointment more annoying.

Earth Girl and Earth Star by Janet Edwards. I loved these just as much as first time round, possibly even more. I don’t really have anything else coherent to say about them, except that this won’t be my last reread of them.

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder. I spent an enjoyable wet Sunday afternoon curled up with this, and I really liked rereading it.

What I'm reading
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I’m about 90 pages in and so far I think it’s a decent debut, but I’m not really in the mood for high fantasy at the moment so it got pushed to the side a little.

Fire Study by Maria V Snyder. I’m about halfway through my reread, and I’m enjoying it as much as the previous books.

Earth Flight by Janet Edwards. Okay, I’ve only just got a hold of it, but I know what I’ll be doing tonight!

What I'll be reading next
Blood Games by Chloe Neill has just come in for me and that should be good for spending Saturday curled up with tea. Possibly The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter if I feel in a crime mood.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Reading what ever day of the week it is...

Between applying to go back to university, my wee sister passing all her highers, and my wee brother getting engaged, it's been a whirlwind of a week. A good one, but hectic all the same, and I'm finding it hard to believe it's Sunday night already so let's get on with the reading!

What I've finished reading
I ended up DNFing God's War by Kameron Hurley and Lascar's Dagger by Glenda Larke. Both were well written and full of interesting ideas. In the case of God’s War, it just wasn’t my cup of tea (I really should know by now that anything described as gritty or dark just isn’t for me.) As for Lascar’s Dagger, there was a lot of worldbuilding and character traits that I normally love, but I just couldn’t get into it. I think it was a case of good book, wrong time. I’ll definitely try one of Larke’s other books at some point.

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron. The day Aaron writes something that doesn’t completely hit all my buttons and make me grin in glee is the day hell freezes over. By which I mean I completely loved it, and I cannot wait for the next one. I love the worldbuilding in this but more than that, I love the main two characters to bits, and I could have read about them all day. Plus, the vast majority of supporting characters, good, bad and not entirely sure yet, feel well rounded and appropriately scary in places. Definitely one I’m going to reread, and I'm looking forward to the promised paper edition coming out.

The Hangman's Song and Dead Men's Bones by James Oswald. I raced through both of these this weekend, and I really enjoyed them. I like the mix of crime and supernatural, and the way there could be a rational explanation for all the events but there probably isn't. I like the way the threads and loose ends are running through the series now, and I'm loving the whole cast of characters, even Duguid. Long story short, I like Oswald's writing, he had me laughing a couple of times and these held my interest all the way through, unlike all the other crime novels I've tried recently.  I'll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for the next in the series.

What I'm reading
Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews. I'm about a third of the way through it and enjoying it so far. I'm looking forward to reading the ending, but I can definitely agree with the reviews I've seen that the pacing is a little off. It's not enough to stop me reading, but I do think it has leeched some of the (admittedly rather large) enthusiasm I had for the book. 

What I'm reading next
Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen has just come in for me on short loan, and I've heard reports it's not bad so I'm eager to see for myself. I also plan on rereading Earth Girl and Earth Star by Janet Edwards as Earth Flight comes out next week.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Reading Wednesday Thursday Friday.

If's been a while since I've done one of these but it's not been for a lack of reading!

What I've finished reading
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. I thought it managed to hold up the atmosphere and uneasiness factor the whole way through, and I was definitely intrigued by the biologist, though I was a little unsure about the Crawler scene. I'm not sure I'll reread this, but I'm glad I read it and I'll be reading the next book in the Trilogy, Authority, as I'm even more curious about Area X now.

The Chicagoland Vampire series by Chloe Neill. I spent about a fortnight reading these and they were exactly what I needed them to be: fast, enjoyable reads that distracted me. I was a little disappointed that I didn't love the rest of the books as much as I loved the first one, but not enough to stop me adoring certain characters or carry on reading. I will be reading new books in the series as they come out, but I think they will be library only books.

Poison Study by Maria V Snyder. I first read this years ago and though I hadn't really planned on rereading it, it crossed my desk at work and it really appealed to the mood I was in. I really enjoyed reading it again even if it did feel a little clunkier in some places than I remember. The main romance seemed a lot less sudden for me this time, but I think this is just that I have become better at reading subtext since then rather than I was expecting it. I plan on catching up with the other two in the trilogy sometime soon.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. As with the first one, my main reaction was ROBIN! and this time around I really appreciated Strike a lot more. I definitely agree with those who say the locations are a bit over described, but that didn't stop me enjoying it and after a while I stopped noticing as the book completely sucked me in. My overall reaction is the same as the first one as well; really enjoyed it, don’t particularly plan on rereading it, but I’m looking forward to the next one.

I DNF'd Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon. I finally admitted it just wasn't doing anything for me so off to the charity shop it goes.


What I'm reading
The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler. Well, I've only just started this but it is shaping up to be full of political intrigue and I've really liked what I've read so far.

Thief's Magic by Trudi Canavan. It's hard to tell if its me or the book, but I've lost a lot of my initial enthusiasm for this. I did skim ahead though and it seems like I will like it later on so I'll carry on with this next week when I've had a chance to relax and get some enthusiasm back.

What' I'm reading next
I've got a pile of books I plan to read on my week off: Authority, The Martian by Andy Weir, The Lascar's Dagger by Glenda Larke, and Girls, Goddesses and Giants by Lari Don.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

WIP: Oodles and oodles and a bit of hooking

Let's just pretend it's Wednesday.


I've been doing oodles and oodles of lovely, brain-free garter stitch lately as the log cabin blanket has been my mainstay project. It's also lovely and cosy for curling up to knit with (usually in the evening when it gets quite cool) so that's a definite plus.


There is a super-secret project going on in our family just now that means I'm crocheting again. I'm still fairly new at it, and these motifs are taking more brain power than I have at times so my progress here is a lot slower. I am really pleased with the one I've finished though so it is proving something of a mood boost!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Sucess Journalling

For a multitude of reasons life has been rather rough lately to say the least. I'm trying to get my mental health back on track so I thought I would try success journalling, something I've heard and read a lot about over the last couple of years as being beneficial.

Success journalling is exactly what it sounds like: at the end of each day you reflect and write down what you consider to be successful or positive about your day. It can be anything from the smallest thing to the larger, the idea is to remind you that despite the fact we can have a tendency to dwell on the negative, positive things do occur in our lives.Things like spent time with friends or family, knitted or crocheted, wrote, cooked, made an awesome cup of tea, didn't eat all the chocolate raisins (wait, is that just me?), anything at all during our day that is good or positive.

I've seen different numbers bandied about as the ideal list number, but after thinking about it carefully I settled on a minimum of six things. It's a big enough number to make a positive impression, but not too big that it's going to make me feel worse on bad days for not being able to come up with more.


It's also a good reason to break out one of the notebooks from my stash. (Not that I really need one.) This one in particular is purple with shiny owls, and it practically screamed my name the second I saw it in Paperchase. I look forward to writing in it every night (especially with a purple pen that is a nice writer), and that can only be a good habit builder.