Tag Archive | year in review

2016 in Review: Yarn

Last January, I proclaimed 2016 as the “Year of Knitting Selfishly”.  Out of a total of seven projects completed, five were for me, so that’s a win.  On the other hand, only seven projects were completed, so that’s a blow to the Ravelry queue.

The two gift projects were for babies:  Kaysen’s Blankie for my newest grand-nephew; and Davi’s Stocking for a girlfriend’s baby.

Both were knit projects and took far longer than I expected.  The two months it took to knit that baby blanket — size approximately 24 inches by 34 inches — gave me pause to reconsider tackling a couple of other knitted blankets I have queued.  I can crochet  blankets far faster than I can knit them.  I may stick to crocheted blankets in the future, especially for babies.

The five remaining projects were for me.  I’ve blogged three of them:  Ribby Striped Cowl; Wildflower Cardigan; and the Lacy Moebius Cowl.  The two remaining projects, a shawl and a pair of socks will be blogged shortly.

2016 Technical Accomplishments

I  designed and knitted three projects: Kaysen’s Blankie, the Ribby Striped Cowl, and the Lacy Moebius Cowl.

I made my first pair of toe up socks (to be blogged).  That same pair of socks also included my first short row heel.

I made my first real colorwork project with Davi’s Stocking.  Learned a lot about intarsia by muddling through and juggling bobbins.

2016’s Stash Accomplishments

I used 3,743 yards of stash yarn.

I acquired 5,576 yards of new yarn for a net addition of 1,833 yards.

I refuse to feel guilty.  Look at this one.  Look.

Silk Traveler 1

Fingering, 70% Merino, 30% Silk

*drool*

2017 Goals

I make no plans whatsoever to avoid acquiring new yarn because that’s a silly idea doomed to failure.  In fact, I’ve already doomed it by buying four skeins in January alone.

What I plan to do is:

  • Make a baby blanket for my nephew and his wife
  • Make more socks
  • Finally tackle a Fair Isle project — probably a hat that can be knit in the round
  • Continue to knit from stash as much as possible — the baby blanket for my nephew and his wife may be the exception because I don’t have much yarn suitable for that purpose
  • Continue to knit through my library of patterns
  • Write out and publish the patterns I’ve designed

Everything else is on a wait-and-see basis.  I’m dropping weight fairly rapidly (down approximately 17 lbs since surgery), so I don’t intend to make any cardigans or other  garments until I’m much closer to my goal weight.

What are you going to make this year?

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2016 in Review: Books

As the end of January approaches, it’s time to get on the ball with the wrap-up for the previous year.  Normally, I write these entries in the first week or so of January.  I plead that late December surgery as my excuse for the delay.

So.  Books.

I managed to finish 49 books this year, three short of my goal, but acceptable nonetheless.  Of those 49, three were re-reads, so 46 new-to-me books completed. Two were non-fiction, one was a collection of essays, and the rest was fiction from a variety of genres.  Like last year, the majority of the books I read came from the library or were books already in my personal collection.

Of those 46 new books, a few were standouts, and a couple that I expected to be standouts were disappointments.

25143155My chief disappointment was Gregory Maguire’s After Alice.  Maguire’s prose is clever, but the story itself was uninspired and plodding.  Click the link to read the full review on WordPress or click the book cover to go to the Goodreads site.

29440984Another disappointment — the fault for which I lay at my own feet rather than the author’s — was Neil Gaiman’s A View from the Cheap Seats.  This was the book that finally convinced me to avoid essay collections, because they just don’t work for me, and it doesn’t matter who wrote them.  Sorry, Neil.

22522808Happily, one of the standouts this year was another Neil Gaiman collection, this one of short stories.  Trigger Warning was fabulous.  Go read it.

22125258Another collection of short stories I read this year was also stellar.  Kelly Link’s Get In Trouble is filled with the kind of short stories I love: weird and off-kilter and a teensy bit disturbing.  Plus they’re exquisitely written.  I’ll be looking for more Kelly Link in the future.

21403302David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks  cemented this author’s position on my “favorites” list.  What an amazing, far-flung, rambling, glorious story of youthful passion, mistakes, and greed.

A few other books worth mentioning:  Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank is a wake-up call for the progressive movement that’s especially relevant considering the unqualified narcissist this country somehow elected in November 2016 and who is being sworn in as POTUS as I type this blog entry.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff is an intimate look at a marriage wherein neither individual is exactly who they appear.

And finally, I Am No One by Patrick Flanery is as much a love story to the city of New York as it is the story of a man who reaches middle age and wonders how he got there.

Looking ahead to 2017, I set the same goal of 52 books, but I may reduce that number due to lifestyle changes and a few other priorities.  Or not.  We’ll see.

Happy reading!

2015 in Review: Books

Same as last year, 2015’s goal was to finish an average of a book a week: 52 weeks, 52 books.  The Goodreads shelf for 2015 shows 69 books in total.  That would be 69 books attempted, because Goodreads only counts the total put on the shelf, not the total I actually finished reading.

Analysis of that 69-book statistic reveals 15 books were abandoned very early on or in mid-read and never finished.  Most of those abandoned books were simply gawd-awful wastes of digital data space, but a couple of them were left unfinished because I stopped caring or never acquired any sympathy for the characters within.  Of the remaining 54 books, none were re-reads.  Goal accomplished.

I managed to write reviews of maybe half of those 54 finished books, which is too bad, because several books that were real standouts don’t have written reviews.  Of the standouts (below), if I wrote a review, I linked to it; otherwise, I linked to the main book page.

The Night CircusI read a number of books about magic this year.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern tells the story of two young people caught in an on-going magical competition, fueled by the ancient rivalry of their fathers. I came away from this book wishing I could visit Le Cirque des Rêves myself, if only to see the Ice Garden and the Cloud Maze.

The MagiciansLev Grossman’s Magicians series caught my attention a few months ago.  (It also caught the attention of the SyFy Network because its series based on these books debuts January 25.)  The series had been on my radar for a while but I finally picked up the first book from the library a couple of months ago. Many readers didn’t care much for Quentin Coldwater, who is somewhat of an anti-hero, and I admit he is a little hard to take. But the story itself is a fascinating twist on the The Magician Kingidea that magic exists, some people are naturally talented at using it, and those people are recruited to attend a special school. The first book, The Magicians, was good. The second book, The Magician King, was better. I’m waiting for the third book, The Magician’s Land, to become available at the library.

In keeping with a magical theme — although “magical realism” might be a better term, if such a term can be The Miniaturistapplied to a period piece —  I thoroughly enjoyed The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. Unfortunately, this was one of those books that didn’t get a review other than its 4-star rating.  From what I remember, it was beautifully written, gloomy and dark and mysterious.  I thought it was lovely.  Plus the cover art was simply stunning.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to DustAlan Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce novel,  As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, is as delightful as all of its predecessors.  Flavia, now age 12, has been exiled (for so she sees it) from Buckshaw, her beloved if bedraggled home in rural England, to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, an all-girls school in Toronto, Canada, where her mother had been enrolled.  Naturally, a dead body is very nearly the first thing our intrepid heroine encounters, and Flavia is back in her default sleuthing mode, albeit in unfamiliar surroundings and absent her usual sources of information.  Pure fun.

The MartianSpeaking of pure fun, The Martian, even given its serious subject matter of a lone astronaut marooned on Mars and struggling for survival, was something I read with a big grin on my face nearly the whole way through.  Andy Weir wrote a rollicking adventure yarn filled with gee-whiz moments, and created a hero who maintains a can-do attitude if only to ward off depression and despair.  I haven’t seen the movie yet, but it’s on my list.

SevenevesOn a more serious note, several of this year’s standout novels dealt with an apocalypse and its aftermath.  The masterpiece was Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, a spectacular hard SF novel that tells the story of mankind’s efforts to save itself when some mysterious force wipes out the moon.  Filled with all the math and science anyone could ever hope for, but still accessible for readers like me whose formal math and science education stopped with high school trig and freshman biology.  This novel ended in a way that leads me to believe a sequel may be forthcoming.  Nothing on the author’s website currently says any such thing, but one can hope, right?

The Water KnifeThe Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi addresses a different apocalypse, one fueled by climate change and inspired by the raging drought currently suffered in the western United States.  In this near future novel, cut-throat corporations feud over water rights with brutal force and no one stands in their way.  Scary as hell.

Station ElevenA more conventional end of the world sets up the events in Station Eleven, but the setting itself is unusual.  After a worldwide plague wipes out most of the population, a traveling theatre troupe roams the Great Lakes area of North America, eking out a living while practicing their art.  But then they run afoul of the leader of a religious commune, and their travels become a race for survival.  Emily St. John Mandel wrote a breathtaking piece of fiction that bounces between the events that led up to the disaster and the post-disaster consequences.  Don’t miss this one.

The Lathe of HeavenUrsula LeGuin’s The Lathe of Heaven can be seen as post-apocalyptic if one looks through the eyes of its main character, George Orr, who awakens in a new world every day — a world that changes based on the content of his dreams — and he’s the only person who remembers the old.   I don’t know why I haven’t read more LeGuin; this is only the second of her novels that I’ve picked up (the first was The Left Hand of Darkness, read in 2006).  I’m putting the rest of her novels on my library list right now.

Finally, there’s The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, which I reviewed in the blog entry linked in the title. While the slow-moving catastrophe taking place on Earth isn’t the focus of this novel, the background tension it creates for our chief protagonist helps drive his choices.

I read so many excellent books this year that it was difficult to choose the titles to highlight.  Books deserving “honorable mention” follow, and any of them are worth reading:  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro; The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; The Scar by China Miéville; Life After Life by Kate Atkinson; and How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer.

In other 2015 accomplishments, all of the year’s reading material came from the library or free from Amazon.  I didn’t make a single new book purchase this year (except for a few knitting pattern books and some nutrition books recommended by my doctor: I hereby decree that those doesn’t count).   I did buy a few used books from a used bookstore while on a day trip to an unfamiliar city.  Looking ahead, 52 finished books is once more the goal for 2016, plus I’m adding the goal of writing at least a one-paragraph review of every book I finish within a day or two of finishing and posting that review here on this blog. I’d also like to keep up the pattern of reading from material already owned or acquired from the library.  We’ll see how that goes.

5KCBWDay7 — Looking Back, Looking Forward

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Look back on last year’s Day Seven post. Did any of the techniques, ideas and hopes for the last 12 months that you wrote about ever make it onto the hook or needles? Did anyone cast on and complete the project researched in last year’s Day 2 post? One year from now, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?


 
Last year I discussed several things:

  • Making the cardigan worn by the little girl in the movie The Fall.
  • Organizing my craft room
  • Attempting Fair Isle
  • Attempting Tunisian
  • Making sock puppets for my friend based on a photograph

Success rate? 60%. I achieved three out of the five goals. Behold the craft room:

Craft Room 1

And the Tunisian:

Mom's Tunisian 9

And those sock puppets, which got their own dating profile in this year’s Blog Week Extravaganza:

Avatars 1

For next year, I’m putting Fair Isle and The Fall Cardigan back on this list. Also, I want to finally write up and publish the pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts I designed as a gift several years ago.

San Luis Mitts

I’ve gotten multiple requests for this pattern, but have procrastinated writing it up for so long that I may have lost my initial notes on the project. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I originally designed the mitts in a bulky yarn and have since decided a lesser-weight yarn is a better choice.

Magazine Review: Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009Blog content-wise, I’m considering a return to magazine reviews. I pared my knit and crochet magazine subscriptions down to two (from a high of seven), Rowan and Vogue Knitting. Back when I had so many subscriptions, I was trying to review each magazine as it came in. That meant upwards of 30 magazine reviews per year, which resulted in a stack of unread issues sitting next to the computer, giving me guilt. I don’t need more guilt, thank you very much, so I stopped the reviews. Vogue and Rowan only may be manageable: Rowan publishes two issues per year, and Vogue publishes five (six if you count the special crochet issue, but that’s not included in the subscription). Rowan CoverWriting timely reviews will require a certain amount of self-discipline. I’m not good with self-discipline, and I need to be, because the next step for this blog — not next year, but within the next five — is to turn it into something that generates a little income. That means content other than me running my mouth about my latest project or the last book I read. It means patterns and tutorials mainly; perhaps little stuffies, if I ever design any. I don’t expect to make excessive bank here, just enough to cover the domain fees.

And that’s quite enough ambition for my little corner of the interwebz.

As Blog Week draws to a close, I just want to say I appreciate each and every one of you who’ve dropped by during this past week. I found a few new bloggers to follow and hope at least one or two of you enjoyed my articles as much as I’ve enjoyed yours. See you around! And y’all come back now, y’hear?

2011 in review

Just for fun…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I haven’t done much blogging recently, but intend to remedy that in 2012. Happy New Year!