Friday, January 24, 2020

RiP Christopher Tolkien and Others, New Project, Robert Burns, and A New Look

Well, I've done it again. I was trying to figure out how to get Blogger to show more than three posts per page, and in the midst of all that, have chosen a new template.

It's a bit easier on the eyes, but I'd like to tweak some of the colours, the next time I have time.

It does sort of put paid to my continuous use of drop caps though. I've been using Daily Drop Cap for years, but this new theme doesn't showcase the letters as well as the former ones did.

Some sad news: in the past couple of weeks, actor Derek Fowlds, Neil Peart of Rush, and Christopher Tolkien have passed away.

I first found out through Dr Dimitra Fimi
The statement from the Tolkien Society came later

The first news was from his local Var Marin newspaper
John D Rateliff shared his first thoughts
John Garth shared a clip of Christopher Tolkien reading from The Lord of the Rings and later wrote the obituary for The Guardian
I tweeted about the History of Middle-Earth books...

...and Neil Gaiman

The German Tolkien Society had a lovely tribute
The next day, I read The Saga of King Heidrik the Wise...

...and blogged about riddles and Alvin Schwartz...

...then cried at this memory...

...that Christopher Tolkien shared about his father

Finally, Marcel Aubron-Bülles has been collecting as many of the Twitter tributes as can. Do visit his page!

Burns night!

Here are two poems by Robert Burns:

A Red, Red Rose, which I had to memorise and recite back in grade school

Tam O'Shanter, which features as the intro to Ghost House by Whisky Trench Riders
Read the rest of the poem here

Finally, my new project: another knitting project!

I was asked to knit a red superhero scarf...

I used the pattern for which my knitting blog is named!

Recommended needle size is 5mm, but any size will work; use any wool you like!
Cast on 34 stitches
Knit 2, *Purl 1, wrap yarn over, Purl 2 together, Knit 1*
Repeat ** to end; all rows are the same, repeat to desired scarf length; cast off


Have you finished any quick projects recently?
What do you think of this layout?
Do you have any Blogger layout tips?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Year-End Knitting Review

Year-end knitting review!

Throughout the year, I didn't have time to knit much, or focus on other hobbies, but I did manage a few projects, including some baking...

There was the week I baked bread from scratch and made Oreo cheesecake!

I signed up for both Bold Beginner Knits and Knitting Season by Kate Davies -- someday I hope to have time to knit some of these beautiful patterns!

Knitting Season also includes the collected essays Wheesht, which are very thought-provoking and insightful.

My year-end knitting review for 2018 featured the quilt made for me by a special group of friends. The first four months of baby-on-a-quilt photos are in that post.

Here are the next five months:

5 months

6 months

7 months

8 months

9 months

Near the end of the year, I knit some cute mittens and an unsuccessful hat.

Since then, I've been experimenting with a pair of leggings for a friend. Trying to get the right combination of pattern, needle size, and her chosen yarn!

For this year my goal remains the same, to simply knit something sometime.

My other ongoing goals are to:

1. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies
This is ongoing, and mostly on the backburner

2. Pick up crochet again, but I'm still stumped by the double crochet stitch.
I need to watch more YouTube videos...

3. Organise all our photos and print a few in photobooks
I'm managing to stay on top of this!

4. Bake more!
I have been more successful at this lately. Now to start trying more complicated recipes...

Do you have a few favourite patterns or recipes?
Please share!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019 and New Knitting No. 2!

National Novel Writing Month is coming!

The website is acting up at the moment, so I'm having some trouble entering this year's project:

The Antipodean Time, a contemporary romance featuring new character Kimberley Hamilton, and Simon Chevalley MacDonald, who had cameos in The Charm of Time and The Handful of Time.

I also can't seem to see any of my buddies at the moment. But if you're on there, let's join up!

In the meantime, I've squeezed in another knitting project, which wasn't part of my stated ROW80 goals, and which didn't turn out to be quite the right size...

Baby hat

At least the model is cute!

Next project is a secret gift for a friend!

Thanks to Knitty for the pattern. I'm going to try to do it properly this time, which means experimenting first and then knitting the actual gift, rather than simply diving in and hoping for the best.

Hmm, maybe that should be my NaNoWriMo approach, too -- plan first, write after. It'll be a twist on my usual pantster techniques.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IWSG Day, ROW80 Goals, New Knitting, and Diana Gabaldon's Rules for Writing

New projects!

Somehow there's always time to do something you really want to do.

In between the usual busy-ness, I found time to knit something!

I sorely missed knitting, and my daughter needed new mittens...

I love Marianna's Toddler Mittens pattern because it's not only easy to knit, it's also easy to resize as needed. It took a bit of experimenting (one mitten came out slightly wonky on top, and I haven't shown that in the photos!), but not much time overall.

It always feels good to finish a quick project.

Particularly relevant, as it's time to set our goals for the next round of ROW80.

Mine are to:
  • keep up with (complete?!) The Antipodean Time for NaNoWriMo
  • solve the plot hole in The Handful of Time
  • keep up with school and everything else
(A corollary to this is that it's been about a year since I've actively commented on other blogs. I'm really hoping to remedy this and get back to regular visiting and commenting by next summer, once school is over.)

And maybe knit something else! I've collected a few "I wish I had..." ideas from friends, including leg warmers and a tuque.

Today is Insecure Writer's Support Group day!

Very intriguing question this month: "It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?"

I think the only people who write, but don't read, must be those types who live, the ones who are busy building cabins or sailing around the world, or helping isolated communities in far-flung parts of the globe, or... Their stories are always exciting to listen to, and they might have a natural ear for storytelling that helps them translate oral tales into written ones.

Otherwise, I just don't think it's possible to write without reading. For one thing, how can you not want to read? It's so enjoyable and interesting and exciting! For another, you need to read often and widely, to learn (either actively or passively) all the tools and methods that are available to you.

Diana Gabaldon puts it best:

"Frankly, there are only three “rules” to being a successful writer:

1. Read. Read everything. This is how you learn both what you like, and what you don’t like (and you sure shouldn’t waste time writing stuff you don’t like, no matter how popular you think it might be)–and how you begin to learn what writing techniques are, and how they work.

2. Write. You can read all the books about writing and take all the classes about writing that you want (and I’m not saying these are pointless; they’re great for some people, not so much for others)–but the Horrible Truth is that nothing will teach you to write, except the act of putting words on paper. I naturally can’t guarantee that you’ll be published, successful, or rich–but I do guarantee that the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

and the third rule is the most important:

3. Don’t Stop!!"

Have you completed any projects recently?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Crafts! Bread and Cake and Knitting


Back in March, I promised an update on the fact that I've baked bread for the first time ever!

(Side note I: I was searching all bread-related posts on my blog, and came across the mention back in 2010 of one of my main characters, Austin, and how he got his surname of Cunnick. Rather apt, as the only writing I'm doing at the moment is a long, fun scene featuring Austin and his wife, which has no relation to any current WiPs.)

(Side note II: I was also reminded of this awesome beer bread recipe from Kait Nolan.)

Without further ado, here's the baking:

The recipe was based on Refrigerator Bread by Kelly Yandell.
450g flour
1 x 7g sachet of instant dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups warm water
Mix it all in a container. Let it sit for two hours. Put it in the fridge for two more, or until you're ready to use it (even overnight). Let it rise 40 minutes, then bake at 475 for 25 minutes, then another 10 without the lid.I used the same Le Creuset pot for the entire process!


Starting with the flour...

Mixing everything





I also made some Oreo cheesecake over Easter:

Supplies (upside down)


Ready to go in the oven

Wait, I forgot to take a photo!

Too late, I ate it!

A photo from our guest, the host of Nakki Spa

A lovely photo of our village beach, also by our guest

I haven't actually started, but I have two new knitting goals: leg warmers knit with cotton yarn, and new mittens for the kids for next winter. I'm looking forward to shopping for wool, especially since I only have one bag of wool left at home, and it's nice to have an excuse to buy some new skeins!

I've also signed up for Bold Beginner Knits from Kate Davies Designs, and look forward to receiving a new pattern each week! I really can't wait till I have more time, to knit some of these...

Which crafts are you exploring at the moment?
What are some of your new projects?