some things

Posted by on January 18, 2011 in knit | 14 comments

I think someone could make a business out of coming up with pithy blog post titles. I am obviously not that person.

Some things I've been knitting include my Seraphim shawl, which is now finished.

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I knew I would love it, and I was right. It weighs nearly nothing, but is so warm and soft. I'm cursing this ridiculous January heatwave, because it means I can't wear it right now. Not that I have anything that really matches in color or style even if it was cold. I don't care, though, as soon as the temperature goes back down to reasonable winter levels, I'll have it jauntily tied around my shoulders with my every day black hoodie sweater and jeans. 

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Sadly, I'm still not any kind of lace knitting expert. At one point, well into the lace border, I had to rip back a few rows due to a glaring error, and let me tell you, it Then, not learning my lesson, I neglected to put in a new lifeline, and found a couple extra yarn-overs. As I continued knitting, they were so obvious that I wasn't sure I could live with them, but I also couldn't face ripping back again, so I decided to let it go. And you know, as I was blocking the finished shawl, I really had to look to find them. I'm pretty sure that no one will ever see them while I have it nonchalantly draped around my neck, either. 

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I think my next lace project is going to be a Juneberry shawl from Brooklyn Tweed. I hope to get some Shelter yarn (I'm very tempted by the Button Jar color, but Almanac is also nice), I think lace in a heavier yarn could be a lot of fun. 

Of course, once I bound off and blocked my shawl, I thought I ought to start something else. I am not at all tired of the purple Malabrigo I used for my Abrazo, so I used the leftover to start a pair of socks.

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The pattern is Pyroclastic from Knitty Winter 2009, and they are easy-peasy. Well, that's not entirely true. There is a knitted-in arch support, which I think sounds like a fantastic idea, but the truth is, I started working on it and I just wasn't feeling it. You have to fiddle with about six stitch markers on size 1 needles, and keeping track of increases and decreases on this dark, dark yarn during these dark, dark evenings just isn't any fun, so I decided not to do it. I'll let you know if that's a big mistake, but I think it will work out just fine. I love the mock cables, they couldn't be easier, and the socks are just flying off the needles. 

Some things I've been reading include the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. They're YA books, so they were really quick reads. I thought they were a lot of fun. The action was non-stop, and I really enjoyed all the funny lines the author came up with, like

"I nodded, looking at Rachel with respect. "You hit the Lord of the Titans in the eye with a blue plastic hairbrush."",

or ""It's him," I said. "Typhon." 
I was seriously hoping Chiron would say something good, like 'No, that's our huge friend Leroy! He's going to help us!'"

Or "I’ve met plenty of embarrassing parents, but Kronos, the evil Titan Lord who wanted to destroy Western Civilization? Not the kind of dad you invited to school for Career Day."

I was seriously on the edge of my seat for most of the five books, so I read them back-to-back, pretty much non-stop. I would have probably loved these when I was in sixth grade, so if you have any young readers looking for something entertaining, and even a little educational (I even learned a few things about the Greek gods), give them a try. 

Way at the other end of the spectrum, I spent a good part of my day off yesterday reading Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue. Wow. I don't want to say too much about this one, but I couldn't put it down, and I will be thinking about it for a good, long time. Room is the story of Jack and his Ma and the 11 x 11 room where they live as prisoners of Old Nick. Five-year-old Jack is the narrator of the story, and it takes a little while to get into the rhythm of his voice, but ultimately, I think Donoghue has done an excellent job of creating that voice. Jack is at the same time smart yet somewhat developmentally or maybe emotionally disabled. His Ma does that best she can to educate and entertain him within their very confined, limited existence. 


Often, when I read a book, particularly a very popular book, I have a bad habit of reading the Amazon reviews, mostly the bad ones. I can sometimes empathize with the one-star reviewers, and often find new insights that I may not have thought about before. In this case, however, I found myself disagreeing with most of them. Many of them didn't like the voice of Jack, saying they didn't think a five-year-old would talk like he did, using simple words and improper grammar one sentence and then spouting multi-syllabic words the next, but I thought that was very authentic, particularly because his world was so limited, yet his mother would play games with him to teach him new words and their meanings. The other complaint that was repeated multiple times was that the reviewers thought that the many references to breastfeeding were "gross." Really? I get that in society today it's not really acceptable to breastfeed a five-year-old boy, but they didn't live in regular society. I think it was quite understandable in their circumstances, and that it was a great comfort to both Jack and to Ma. I understood the discomfort of people outside of Room when Jack wanted to breastfeed at that point, but I would hardly call it gross. Okay, I'll stop there, but if you've read it, what did you think? Please comment! I still need a book group!


  1. Hi. I have not commented for ages, but I have checked in now and again.
    I played the Christmas CD you sent me over December. It was lovely.
    I love your lacey knitting, and the blue colour is to die for. I tried to knit socks a couple of years ago but they were a complete disaster. As was the jacket I tried to knit last year 🙁
    I have not read the “Percy Jackson” series yet, but plan to do so – the kids in my classes always like them.
    I also have “The Room” on my shelves to read. Am looking forward to it – I have a few in line before it though.

  2. I read Room – and I just didn’t love it. It was too much like a story ripped from the headlines and I don’t tend to read those kinds of news stories. Sensational, highly charged, and voyeuristic into a situation that was both difficult and filled with sadness. My favorite character though was the mom’s boyfriend – he was just so down to earth and let it all be ok. Without him I don’t think Jack would have been as ok as he was. I think on GoodReads I gave it 3 stars – didn’t hate it, didn’t love it.

  3. I get what you're saying, the subject of the book was definitely "ripped from the headlines", but I think the psychology of that kind of horrific experience is really interesting. I don't pay too much attention to the news either, and I think victims of crimes like this should be left alone. I guess I felt less voyeuristic because this is fiction. I liked Steppa too, I'm sure his distance from the people involved was part of his nonchalance, which was really good for Jack. 

  4. Marne, have you read “The Solace of Leaving Early” by Haven Kimmel? It’s one I go back to over and over. And what about “The Chess Garden” by Brooks Hansen – hard to find in a modern/chain bookstore sometimes, but another one of my all-time favorites.

  5. April!
    I haven't read either of those, but I have read Haven Kimmel's two memoirs (A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch), both were hilarious. I just looked her up on GoodReads, I had no idea she had so many novels. The Chess Garden looks good too, and my library has it, so I've requested it. I'll let you know what I think when I've read both books, thanks for the recommendations! 

  6. Lovely! One of my goals for the year is to finish more projects, haha.
    I have to tell you, I was so impressed by your backyard bees last year that I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Well, now I own a house I’m going to get bees in the spring! You were definitely the inspiration!

  7. (1) Breastfeeding is such a volatile topic, and there is a whole segment of the population that will complain that breastfeeding a child of any age is “gross.” Sure, five is pretty old to be breastfeeding, but your point about them not living in normal society is sound. That said, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t comment on much else. I do know all about people who hate breastfeeding, though.
    (2) Juneberry! Beautiful! I bought yarn for it, but bought fingering thinking I’d do a smaller Juneberry. Now I feel like I’d want a big one after all. It would be gorgeous in the Shelter.
    (3) I joined Book Lushes last year (blogger Jonna of ‘s group), but there hasn’t been much action there of late. I’d love to have a more active group, too. Please update if you find something good?

  8. The breastfeeding thing, I just don't get it. It's such a personal decision, why should anyone judge a mother for doing it or not? Pfft, people should Mind Their Own Business sometimes, and definitely in this area.
    So far the best I've found for online book groups is GoodReads, the Books on the Nightstand group seems quite friendly, although I haven't participated much myself. 
    As far as Juneberry, who says you only need one? I am so tempted to start one with some laceweight yarn that I have while I wait for the Shelter to arrive, but I am forcing myself to finish my socks (first one done, second one started!) and work on the sweater I have on the needles. I will probably cast on right away, though, once the yarn arrives :o) 

  9. Yay for bees! I need to post an update on mine. It is not a happy story, but I have reserved two new 'nucs' to pickup in April, so I'll be back in business. I'll be watching to see how you like it! 

  10. I'm so glad you liked it! Sufjan Stevens is just lovely, isn't he? And I'm still pretty pleased with my mix-tape making abilities :o) I credit my 80s upbringing. 
    Don't give up on the socks. I attempted a lace project a couple years ago, and I just couldn't get it and made mistake after mistake, so I just set it aside. Now that I've got a bit more experience, it's getting easier, although obviously not without it's problems. I still have that first project, and I think I've got a better handle on the whole lace thing, so I'm going to go back and finish it soon! 
    My first socks were really plain, and I used heavier yarn on larger needles, so they were pretty quick and easier to handle. I used this sock recipe for them: Maybe that will help you? The funny thing is, I hardly every do toe-up socks now, but I'm glad I know how :o) 

  11. I can see I’m going to enjoy your blog! I found it through the LDS board at Ravelry. Your knitting projects are gorgeous – especially these ones. I’m drooling! Anyway, can’t wait to see and read more.

  12. Welcome, and thanks! I friended you on Ravlery, I hope you don't mind :o)

  13. I just found your blog. Interesting thoughts on Room. I liked the book, it gave me food for thought. I think Ma breastfeed for so long was comfort and unconditional love. Does anyone remember when your child struggled out of those love hugs…As a Mom, I wanted to keep her forever there. It was a place where I comforted and protected. I think Ma did the same. My daughter, an elementary counselor gave this to me. I love the knitting projects, I think I need to start something. Maybe socks…Thanks for letting me talk and read your blog.

  14. Thanks for the thoughts Debbie, it's nice to see we had similar thoughts on the breastfeeding. It is the sort of book that you think about for a long time after reading it, isn't it? I know I am. 
    And yes, knit yourself some socks! What could be better for this cold winter than nice, warm, handknit wool socks? 
    Thanks for stopping by, I hope you'll be back! 

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