Catching up on yarn biz 2: More recently finished FOs

Misty 1Pattern: At Dawn by Joji Locatelli.  Great pattern. Easy to follow. Looks good either side, although if you look closely, you can tell which is the “wrong” side in the photos.

Yarn: MC (darker shade) = Araucania Huasco/Botany Lace in colorway 017, 329 yds; CC (lighter shade) = madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorway Urban Flagstone, 353 yds.  Misty 2Both yarns are fabulous to work with, and they look so good together. I was a little concerned because the Tosh is a single and the Araucania is a two-ply, but they worked like they were meant to go together and made a scrumptious garter stitch fabric.

Needles:  Hiya Hiya Sharp Steel Circs, US 3.  These are pretty much my go-to needles for most fingerweight projects.  They’re just grippy enough, and plenty sharp for picking up wrapped stitches or working lace charts.

Satisfaction with end product:  A qualified hurrah!  I love the drape and think the colors look amazing together.  The unusual shape makes it a little difficult to wear, but I may remedy that with a shawl pin.  I’m looking forward to wearing it once the weather cools.

Another pic because it’s so pretty.  If you want more pics, you can go to my Ravelry project page.

Misty 6

Next up, my new favorite!  I finally found the perfect pattern for that Cascade Ultra Pima I’ve been trying to turn into a cardigan for years.  Behold!

Flower Cardigan 5Pattern: Blomstertrøje / Flower Jacket by Lene Holme Samsøe, from the now-out-of-print Feminine Knits book.  I rated the pattern medium difficulty because increasing/decreasing while maintaining the lace pattern isn’t necessarily a beginner skill. Otherwise, it’s fairly easy. I rated the pattern itself as three stars because of the many errata, only one of which (the error in the flower chart) is noted on the Interweave site. For example, the directions to bind off for the shoulder were identical for the left front and right front, when they should have been reversed. Also, the directions for buttonhole placement should have been in the Flower Cardigan 3section prior to “shape neckline”.  It’s only because I’m an experienced knitter that the errors gave me no difficulty.  A newbie might have been in a little trouble. While I’m willing to believe these may have been simple Danish-to-English translation errors, the English-language tech editor should have caught them.

Size: 36″.  And you can’t imagine how much of a thrill it gives me to make something in such a small size.

Yarn:  Cascade Ultra Pima, colorway 3732 Aqua, 685 yards.

Needles:   Addi Circs, US 2; Addi Click Circs, US 4

Buttons:  4 vintage 1/2″ mother-of-pearl shanks from stash. The pattern called for 3/4″ buttons, so these were just a smidge too small for the buttonholes.  I remedied that by tightening up the buttonholes with sewing thread after sewing on the buttons.

Satisfaction with end product:  Regardless of the pattern errata, the cardigan itself turned out great.  I finished it on a Saturday and wore it to work the following week.  It fits like it was custom-made….Wait a minute; it was!  And I love it.

Because I love it, here’s one last photo.  Naturally, the Ravelry project page has more.

Flower Cardigan 6

Now we’re all caught up on finished stuff. Another project is on the needles, of course, so stay tuned.

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Catching up on yarn biz: Recent FOs

I actually have been knitting stuff in the last few months.  Somehow the knit blogging got lost in the shuffle of the book blogging and weight loss blogging.  Let’s remedy that.

Can’t get a decent picture of these socks to save my life.

Pattern:  Espalier by Sarah Hatton.  Well-written pattern. I love the little triangle detail at the back of the calf.  Here’s the link to my Ravelry project page.

Yarn:  Pagewood Farms Yukon in colorway Maple Leaf, 315 yards from a 450 yard skein.  The variegated colorway gave each sock a slightly different look in color patterning — one is definitely more green than the other. But this is great yarn — handles beautifully, feels oh so soft, and the stitches are clean and precise. If I run across it again, I’ll be happy to buy more.  Unfortunately, the web page for Pagewood Farms no longer exists, so I’m guessing they’ve folded.

Needles:  Knitter’s Pride Karbonz, US Size 1 DPNs. LOVE these needles.

Size:  Large (cast on of 84 stitches)

Satisfaction with end product:  LOVE!  If they weren’t intended as a gift, then I’d keep them myself.

Silken Heaven 1Oh, look! I tried beading for the first time!  Although you can’t really tell in this photograph.

Pattern:  Heaven Scent by Boo Knits.  I made the all-over lace version.  Link to my Ravelry project page.

Yarn: Wild Orchids Fiber Arts Swiss Mountain Baby Camel and Silk, colorway Natural. 424 yards from a 437-yard skein.  Another defunct small yarn company that made gorgeous yarn.  When you see those little independent booths at the big yarn shows, go buy their stuff.

Silken Heaven 7Needles: Addi Clicks Natura Circulars, US 5. I needed the stickiness of the bamboo needles because this yarn was so slippery.

Beads: Toho Glass Beads, 6/0 “E”, color Rosaline (silver-lined), approximately 320  (2 sleeves + a partial sleeve).

Satisfaction with end product:  I think it’s beautiful, and I can hardly wait for the weather to cool off enough to wear it somewhere.

I have two more finished projects that need photography, so stay tuned.

Latest stash additions

It’s been all books and weight loss around here recently.  Let’s jump back into yarnie stuff and look at the new(ish) stash for a change.

Laceweight yarn has caught my attention in a big way.  The last several skeins I’ve purchased have all been laceweight.

100_4790 (2)Juniper Moon Farm Findley Dappled in colorway Rost Turkey is a shimmering silk/merino blend.  Each skein is 798 yards, so there’s enough here for a cardigan or long sleeve top.  I going to give the colorway naming people the benefit of the doubt and believe they meant to spell it that way.

100_4793 (2)

Shibui Knits Cima in colorway Lumen.  This yarn was on clearance at the LYS so I bought every skein they had in this colorway.  1900+ yards of alpaca/wool laceweight that simply glows. I see this as a drapey A-line tunic to wear over black leggings with black suede boots.

100_4885 (2)

Swans Island Natural Colors Collection Merino Silk Lace in colorways (from top to bottom) Ivory, Sand Dollar, and Sea Glass.  These beauties are destined for a long-sleeve “fade” pullover, mostly likely Little Bird by Veera Välimäki.

 

Under 150!

The progress pics:

Latest FB profile pic:

IMG_20170805_170532

The stats:

  • Seven months, two weeks since surgery
  • Total weight loss: 69 lbs.
  • 33 pounds to goal

Physically I feel great.  Psychologically, I feel a little like an imposter.  I mean, I look at myself in the mirror and barely recognize me.  On the other hand, I feel attractive again for the first time in years, and have noticed men noticing me.  (Not that my husband has anything to worry about on that score, but you know, after all these years, it’s nice to be noticed.)  More than one person at work has commented on how “skinny” I am becoming.  They’re going to think I’ll blow away in a stiff wind when I reach my goal weight.

Speaking of “skinny”, virtually every item of clothing that I wore prior to surgery has now been removed from my closet.  Some of the first round of clothing I bought at the thrift store to see me through this transformation is also on its way out the door.  I need to go through the stuff in the dresser again. Some of it — such as the exercise clothing — still fits, but I know there are tees and other casualwear that does not.

I really wish I had taken measurements before we started.  Oh well. Here’s the progress in inches lost since March.

March 18, 2017 May 7, 2017 August 10, 2017
Bust 43 42 39.25
Waist 40 39 36
Hip 45 43 41
Thigh 25 24 22
Calf 17 16.5 15.5
Upper arm 14 13 12
Neck 14.5 14.25 14

I’ve started to have some loose skin: a little on the underside of my upper arms and on the inside of my thighs.  Some sag around the lower belly, too, but that could be stubborn fat deposits.  I think it will all eventually regain elasticity and snap back.  Exercise and improved muscle tone should help, too.

I still have trouble with meat, unless it has been boiled/processed to a fare-thee-well in a canned soup. Fish is okay, especially shellfish. Diced ham is good in a salad. So I eat a lot of vegetables and salads and fruit and soup.  And shellfish.  And of course, the protein shakes, multivitamin, iron, and calcium supplements.

I go back to the nutritionist and the surgeon for a follow-up on Monday. I hope they are as pleased with my progress as I am.

Book review: The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

The Map of True PlacesThe Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After the suicide of a client, Zee Finch leaves her fiancé and her Boston psychology practice to care for her ailing father in their Salem family home. Very little drama ensues. Really.

Honestly, I didn’t see any point in this novel. I didn’t particularly like Zee (although I loved the fact that her given name was Hepzibah) or her eventual love interest, Hawk; the emphasis on navigating by the stars was weird and contrived; in fact, the whole of the story felt contrived and weird and and incoherent, like a series of set pieces linked together only because they involved the same characters. Zee traveled some small distance as a character, but in the end I felt she was little different from the wishy-washy human being that began the story.

Sophomore novels are often a let down after brilliant debuts. The Lace Reader was brilliant. This? Not so much.

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Book review: June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

JuneJune by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summer 2015: A persistent knock on the door and a ringing bell rouses 25-year-old Cassie Danvers from an alcohol-induced haze. Cassie, grieving a number of things — the end of her engagement, the demise of her photography career, and, most recently, the death of her beloved Grandmother June — stumbles to the dusty foyer and opens the door of the decaying family mansion to be greeted by handsome young Nick Emmons, who promptly informs her she is the sole heir and, allegedly, the granddaughter of Golden-Age Hollywood movie star Jack Montgomery, and would she mind giving a DNA sample to verify?

Summer 1955: Hollywood comes to St. Jude, Ohio, to shoot a movie. Lindie, age 14, is determined to get involved somehow; and she wants her best friend June to come along too. June is a few years older and already engaged, but Lindie disapproves of her fiancé — he’s too stodgy and undeserving of June’s beauty. June reluctantly agrees to visit the movie set, where she meets Jack Montgomery. And all manner of complications arise from there.

I’m a sucker for stories that take place in two separate time periods. I love seeing the connections, and how long-ago actions affect present-day circumstances. Add a dreaming house, visions of ghosts, back-stabbing intrigue, murder, and quiet heroism to the mix, and you’ve got a fabulous page-turner of a story that satisfies right up to the surprising conclusion.

Excellent story. This is Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s fourth novel. I’ll certainly be looking for the other three.

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Thank you to LibraryThing‘s Early Reviewers program for the opportunity to read this book.

Book review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

The Fifth PetalThe Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

25 years after she witnessed the murder of her mother and two other women, Callie Cahill returns to Salem to aid her Aunt Rose, who is suspected of being involved in the death of a teenager. Callie, raised in foster care after the events of that fateful night, had thought Rose dead, and rushed to her side the moment she saw a news report.

In the years between Callie’s childhood tragedy and her return, Rose Whelan, once a noted historian, suffered a mental breakdown and became homeless. Rose is well-known to the Salem townfolk; while most of them ignore her, a few look out for her, and a few see her as an easy target. The boy who died was one of the latter. The circumstances linking Rose to the boy’s death are damning, and her freedom is in jeopardy.

Callie tries mightily to help Aunt Rose recover her memory of the night of the boy’s death while she herself is slowly recovering her own memories of her childhood. And in the meantime, she finds herself falling for Paul Whiting, the son of one of the wealthiest families in town.

Behind all of this lurks the still-unsolved “Goddess Murders,” as they are known, for which Rose was also briefly a suspect. What part did Rose play? How does Rose’s obsession with the legend of a banshee connect? Where does Salem’s history of witch trials fit in? And why do links to those long-ago murders keep turning up in the current investigation?

Brunonia Barry’s third novel is better than her second, but still not as good as her first. I appreciated being back in Salem with some familiar characters, and meeting some new ones. And the story moves along well enough. Still, the final twist to the mystery was too abrupt and, to me, completely out of left field. (Look, I understand authors don’t want to telegraph who the “bad guy” is and lay red herrings in the reader’s path as diversions, but this reveal was totally unexpected. Did Barry write herself into a corner and only belatedly realize she had to come up with a villain? Don’t know.) Also, major quibbles with how Paul’s character turned out.

Look, it’s a good read. And if I hadn’t ever read The Lace Reader, I’d probably give it four stars. But I have, and I know Barry is capable of much better.

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Book review: Olympos by Dan Simmons

Olympos (Ilium, #2)Olympos by Dan Simmons

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

MARS: Paris is dead. Hockenberry and Helen are lovers. Achilles and Hector have joined forces against the gods while the gods fight amongst themselves. Mahnmut and Orphu discover the quantum energy they’ve been tracking emanates from Earth rather than Mars, and it’s about to destroy both worlds.

EARTH: Meanwhile, Odysseus travels with Harman and Ada, seeking an end to Setebos. Daeman travels alone, seeking the same end. And the voynix drop their pretense of servitude; humanity’s continued existence is precarious.

Dan Simmons juggles many plates in the concluding volume of this epic duology. I admit to being a little lost at times, and occasionally needing to trudge my way through chapter 2017SFFReadingChallengeafter chapter in dogged determination. Yeah, the story bogs down now and then. So many moving parts! But stick with it, and you’ll be rewarded in the end.

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Read as part of the 2017 Award-Winning SF/Fantasy Challenge. Click that badge over there to see more reviews. And once there, consider joining us!

Book review: Ilium by Dan Simmons

Ilium (Ilium, #1)Ilium by Dan Simmons

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Allosaurs, Greek gods, and space-going Shakespeare enthusiasts? Dan Simmons must have read my Christmas wish list.

Troy is at war. The Greeks, led by Agamemnon and Achilles, and the Trojans, led by Priam and Paris, wage pitched and pitiless battles, aided by the gods and observed by humans. These humans — the scholics — were once experts on Greek poetry and ancient history. They were reconstructed by the gods from their DNA, and then brought back to make sure the path of the war follows the path of the Iliad as laid out by Homer. Thomas Hockenberry is one such scholic, tramping around the battlefield in the guise of various soldiers, making notes and reporting back to the Muse. One day, after nine years of such a life, he is summoned by Aphrodite and told he is to alter the course of things. He is to kill Pallas Athena.

On Earth, humans live in an idyllic setting, pursuing a sybaritic lifestyle. The world is a constant round of dinner parties, picnics, long walks through the woods, and casual sex. No work, no worries, no schooling, no commitments, their every need is seen to by the voynix, mechanical servants who cook, clean, and care for them in their Eden. Daeman, who, like most others of society, is spectacularly incurious about the whys and wherefores of his world, and who collects butterflies and bed partners with equal vigor, arrives at the estate of his cousin, Ada, for a birthday party. He is shocked to discover that the party is not in celebration of someone’s 20th — after which they will be whisked away to the Rings and then returned after rejuvenation — but of Harman’s 99th. In essence, it’s Harman’s going-away party, for he has only one more year of life. But a chance encounter with an allosaurus changes everything.

On Europa, the Five Moon Consortium, a conclave of biomechanical beings, gathers to discuss the 600-year lack of contact from the post-humans and the more recent (in the last 200 years) apparent terraforming of Mars. The consortium is especially concerned with unusually massive amounts of quantum-shift activity centered on Mons Olympus, and decides to send an expedition to investigate. Mahnmut, a Europan moravec, is excited to be included in this expedition with his friend Orphu, an Ionian moravec, and looks forward to continuing their discussions of Shakespeare and Proust and literature in general.  The expedition sets off well enough but soon suffers a severe setback, leaving Mahnmut and Orphu to make the best of what may be a fatal error.

Simmons adopted three different voices to tell these stories. The Trojan saga echoes Homeric prose, to the point of opening the novel with a paraphrase of the opening lines of the Iliad itself; and it is in this opening paragraph that we first begin to understand the sorrow and tragedy of the scholic Hockenberry and the rest of the cast of characters Simmons introduces. The story of Daeman, Ada, and Harman is told in simple descriptive language akin to the childlike outlook of the humans themselves; while the conversations of Mahnmut, Orphu, and the rest of the moravecs are full of technobabble and high literary analysis. This narrative trick is effective, if occasionally jarring when 2017SFFReadingChallengemoving from artless human idyll to high Homeric tragedy.

Three settings. Three stories. Three disparate and wandering paths that lead to the same destination? We’ll find out when I read the sequel.

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Read as part of the 2017 Award-Winning SF/Fantasy Challenge.  Click that badge over there to see more reviews. And once there, consider joining us!

Sci Fi Summer Read-athon starts tomorrow!

Seasons of Reading is hosting their annual Sci-Fi Summer Read-athon beginning tomorrow and running through June 7.

Some folks are really ambitious with their plans, posting that they plan to read three or four or more books.  In a week.  I don’t have that kind of time, but more power to ’em!

Of course, I could be wrong, and those are the books they intend to read throughout the summer.

Me, I just hope to get halfway through Olympos by Dan Simmons during this week.  It’s the sequel to Ilium, which I finished last week and plan to review in the near future.  Like Ilium, it’s a doorstop of a novel (upwards of 800 pages).  I’m currently on page 127.

What are you reading right now?