Posted in Finished object, Knitting

Freshly Finished: Silver Marigold

Silver Marigold 1

Pattern: Marigold by Marie Wallin (from Rowan 45)

Yarn: Naturally Caron Spa, colorway 0008 Misty Taupe, approximately 836 yards

Needles:  Addi Turbo circs, US 5 for the body; Hiya Hiya steel circs, US 3 for the ribbing of the neck and button band; Karbonz DPNs, US 3 for the ribbing on the sleeves

Size: 36″

Satisfaction with end product:  I love this.  It’s light and drapy. It fits and feels great.  Click here for my Ravelry project page.

The pattern calls for US 2 (for ribbing) and US 3 (for body) needles, but I couldn’t get gauge with the US 3, so I went up to a US 5 for the body and saved the US 3 for the ribbing.

Silver Marigold 3The raglan shaping gave me fits.  I had to rip out the shaping on the back three times before finally figuring out the pattern instructions. The pattern reads like there’s an extra decrease on each knit side. Nor does it make clear not to decrease on the purl side as previously established for several of the sizes. Reading through the pattern, this language is repeated for all raglan shaping. To be clear, the raglan shaping is as follows: Dec 1 at each end of each right (knit) side row as established (that is, k6, ssk, k to last 8, k2tog, k6; follow instructions for eyelet row as established); do not dec on back (purl) side.

Silver Marigold 4And it wasn’t just the shaping on the back.  The sleeve gave me fits too. After tearing my hair out and then letting sleeve #1 sit overnight, I re-read the shaping instructions for the top bit. I guess the designer condensed the instructions for publication due to Rowan space restrictions. I wrote it out line by line for clarity.

This isn’t the first Rowan pattern I’ve made, but it’s the first pattern that wasn’t an accessory, like a hat or a scarf.  The, um, brevity of the instructions gives me some pause about tackling other cardigans and pullovers.  I mean, I muddled through, and the sweater turned out fine, but it was a headache for a while.  I don’t knit to give myself headaches.  Knitting is my soothing activity.

Regardless, the knitting was finished sometime in May, and then the sweater sat in pieces for months.  Well, it did get some use as a prop in Evelyn In Purgatory, but mostly it sat.  Finally, in early September, I finished the seaming, added the front and neck bands, sewed on the button and called it good. I opted out of the embroidery after realizing how easily this yarn snags.  I’ve already worn it a couple of times.  It’s suitable for casual weekend wear and for the office.  So, I love it, despite the PITA it was to make.

 

Posted in Book review, Books, Reading

Book review: The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

The Traveler (Fourth Realm, #1)The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The following is the cover blurb: “In London, Maya, a young woman trained to fight by her powerful father, uses the latest technology to elude detection when walking past the thousands of surveillance cameras that watch the city. In New York, a secret shadow organization uses a victim’s own GPS to hunt him down and kill him. In Los Angeles, Gabriel, a motorcycle messenger with a haunted past, takes pains to live “off the grid” – free of credit cards and government IDs. Welcome to the world of The Traveler – a world frighteningly like our own. In this compelling novel, Maya fights to save Gabriel, the only man who can stand against the forces that attempt to monitor and control society. From the back streets of Prague to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, The Traveler portrays an epic struggle between tyranny and freedom. Not since 1984 have readers witnessed a Big Brother so terrifying in its implications and in a story that so closely reflects our lives.”

You are being watched.

Of course, in 2018, we all know that, and we willingly participate in the surveillance (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). When this book was written (2005), social media was in its infancy, and, while cell phones were everywhere, smart phones were just beginning to penetrate the public consciousness. This book takes the idea of ubiquitous surveillance and runs with it, creating a multi-tiered society: the civilians — we ordinary folk who go about our daily business blissfully unaware or simply not caring how closely we are tracked and manipulated; the Tabula — a mysterious cabal of wealthy no-goodniks who do the tracking and manipulating, for the good of society, of course; the Harlequins — an equally mysterious class of bodyguards-cum-assassins whose only purpose in life is to protect… the Travelers — people with the ability to psychically travel to other parallel dimensions.

Over centuries, the Harlequins and Travelers developed an “off-grid” lifestyle: as far as the government knows, they don’t exist. They live “off-grid” under assumed names and false identities.

To live off the grid, one must be completely dedicated to avoidance of the usual comforts, such as an established residence, electricity, and running water; or one has sufficient wealth or knowledge to provide one’s own infrastructure for those comforts (e.g., paying cash for a home, buying solar panels and generators, digging wells and buying pumps, etc.); or one has a vast network of trusted acquaintances with access to stolen identities that enable one to hide in plain sight.

Their off-grid habits weren’t perfect: the Tabula hunted the Harlequins and Travelers mercilessly and have nearly succeeded in exterminating them. The few remaining Harlequins believe there are no Travelers left. They spend their time in hiding, protecting the knowledge of their class. Then they hear that the children of the last known Traveler are still alive. The ability to travel between realms is hereditary, and thus is launched a global search for these now-grown children. Unfortunately, the Tabula also become aware of their existence, and finding the potential Travelers quickly turns into a race between two warring enemies.

A decent story, as far as it goes. Not particularly well-written, but not a complete dud.

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Posted in Finished object, Knitting, Yarn stash

Freshly finished: Piney Woods Tunic

Glacier 6Pattern: Glacier by Joji Locatelli
Size:  Medium (38″ bust)
Yarn: Newton’s Yarn Country Merino Nylon Superwash, in colorway LB Print, 1422 yards
Needles: Addi Turbo circs, US size 6 for the body; Hiya Hiya steel circs, US size 2 for the ribbing
Mods: Only 6 decreases on the sleeves, because going the full 10 as called for by the pattern would have made the sleeves way too long; ended mitered knitting approximately 1 inch sooner than called for by the pattern
Satisfaction with end product:  Quite happy indeed.  Now if it will just get cold enough in Atlanta to wear it.

By the way, here’s the link to my Ravelry project page.

Glacier 7I was working from the paper book (Interpretations 5) rather than the e-book, and I was a little flummoxed when the pictures of the tunic showed ribbing at the bottom edge, but no instructions for the ribbing were included in the book.  Because of the way the garment is constructed, stitches for said ribbing had to be picked up after the rest of the garment was finished.  A post in the Ravelry Interpretations forum quickly resulted in a private message from Interpretations pattern support with the missing instructions.  Kudos for the prompt response!

The yarn is some deeeeeep stash that I bought at Stitches South in 2010.  It’s actually a wool/nylon sock yarn, and I had something like 1600 yards of it.  It was a bulk purchase in an absolutely HUGE skein.  Over the years, I’d occasionally pull it out and look at it, then put it back because I just couldn’t imagine what I was going to make with 1600 yards of fingering weight sock yarn.  Finally, this tunic pattern came along: a perfect match.  So, the moral of the story is don’t despair!  Even the oldest yarn in your stash will find its project.  Eventually.

Posted in Book review, Books, Reading

Book review: The Trespasser by Tana French

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad, #6)The Trespasser by Tana French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoy Tana French’s Murder Squad series, and this installment is no exception.

Antoinette Conway and her partner Stephen Moran tackle their latest assignment, the murder of Aislinn Murray. It appears to be a slam-dunk the-boyfriend-did-it case, but the inconsistencies lurking around the edges keep hinting at another solution. Conway and Moran poke at the inconsistencies, start running into roadblocks, and begin to suspect corrupt cops and organized crime are somehow connected to the murder. Then the constant harrassment and pranks Conway suffers in the squad room lead her to believe her partner is sabotaging their case.

Antoinette Conway is a difficult character to like, and the whole Murder Squad comes off as an abusive dysfunctional unit. That makes this a rough read. But persevere. It’s worth it in the end.

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Posted in Book review, Books, Reading

Book review: Kindred by Octavia Butler

KindredKindred by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Giving this 3 1/2 stars.

You all know the plot by now: Dana, a modern black woman, is inexplicably thrust back into the antebellum South, time after time, where she is presumed to be a slave based on the color of her skin. Eventually she figures out she is drawn back to that particular plantation and that particular time to protect the life of the young son of the plantation owner. Said son is her ancestor — a twist on the Grandfather Paradox: she must keep him alive long enough to father a child with a particular slave or she will not exist.

Ms. Butler pulls no punches in her graphic detailing of the brutality of slavery. Said brutality makes this a difficult read. It’s a worthwhile read, regardless. If I have a quibble, it’s that the time travel mechanism is left completely unexplained — a trick of the cosmos, a spiritual connection, a genetic memory? Who knows? Although the “how” of Dana’s multiple trips to the early 19th Century isn’t relevant to the story Ms. Butler wanted to tell, I still wanted a bone to chew on, some pseudo-rational gobbledegook, however implausible, that my brain would accept as working within the confines of the story.

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Posted in Book review, Books, Reading

Dual book review: This Way to the End Times and The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

This Way to the End Times: Classic Tales of the ApocalypseThis Way to the End Times: Classic Tales of the Apocalypse by Robert Silverberg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A diverse collection of short stories covering a wide variety of ways the world may end, or the aftermath thereof. I’m a sucker for apocalyptic fiction, and this was right up my alley. As with all short story collections, some were better than others, but all were worth reading. Presented in mostly chronological order by date of publication beginning with the early 20th Century, the reader can see how the apocalypse changes as technology advances. That all by itself makes for fascinating reading.

The Heart Is a Lonely HunterThe Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book I read because it’s on a bunch of lists of “Books You Must Read Before You Die.”

I won’t say it was a waste of my time, but truly, I didn’t care that much about John Singer, the fellow identified by cover copy as being the main character. I was much more interested in Mick Kelly, the young girl whose family owns the boarding house in which Mr. Singer resides. Maybe that’s because I remember reading The Member of the Wedding when I was a teenager and was expecting something similar.

Maybe I’ll just reread that book.

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Posted in Life in general, theatre

On stage: Evelyn In Purgatory

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Me as Lila, Cat Roche as Evelyn

One of the cool things about Atlanta is all the local playwrights, and the opportunity to perform their work with the playwright in the audience. That was the case with Evelyn In Purgatory by Topher Payne. Mr. Payne is a good friend of Becca Parker, the artistic director of the theatre, and he showed up for a matinee.

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L-R: Allison Brady as Candace; Sean Turner as Toby; and Melissa Maute as Roberta

But I get ahead of myself.

Evelyn In Purgatory is the story of Evelyn Reid, a New York City school teacher who finds herself awaiting a disciplinary hearing with a bunch of other castoffs from the public school system. The play was staged by Live Arts Theatre, directed by Becca Parker and D Norris, and featuring (among others) me as Lila Wadkins, an erstwhile hippie-turned-art-teacher awaiting her own hearing for, ahem, insubordination.

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Rodney Johnson as Fred; Sean Turner as Toby

I was a little apprehensive about doing another show at Live Arts after the hell that was Virginia Woolf, but this production suffered none of the setbacks and roadblocks that plagued that show.  Thank the theatre gods for small mercies.  (Incidentally, that production of Woolf has now entered local theatre lore.  I can’t even count how many actors/techies I’ve met since the show closed who, once they find out I was in it, come back with “Oooooooh!  I heard about that…”  But I digress.)

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Candace tells a story; Lila tries not to judge

Evelyn‘s rehearsals ran smoothly and efficiently, direction and notes were clear and straightforward, and the directors were able to accommodate my conflicts because I was rehearsing and performing the Tapas festival at the same time.  The best thing, though, is my character was a knitter.  I spent the majority of my on-stage time with knitting needles in my hand.  It was fabulous.

Once we opened, we had great audiences, and even sold out a couple of performances.  We got this glowing review from a local director, and we were nominated for several awards.

Last Saturday was the Live Arts Theatre awards ceremony, also known as “The Livelys.”  Much to our surprise, we won!  A lot!  Five awards went to our production:

Best Supporting Actor: Rodney L. Johnson
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cat Roche
Best Director: Becca Parker and D Norris
Best Ensemble: Evelyn in Purgatory
Favorite Production: Evelyn in Purgatory

All in all, a much better experience than my last at Live Arts.  I’ll go back there again. Assuming they’ll have me.

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Roberta pantsed the little bastard.
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Coach Fred tries to whip us into shape.