Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Year-end Knitting and Other Hobbies Review, including Outlander and John Howe

Part two of the year end reviews, this time for all other hobbies!



I had a very short recap last year of my knitting in 2014, and posted these goals:


1. Finish knitting three more cowls
2. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies
3. Organise all our photos and print a few, especially for our grandparents
4. Bake more!

I completed 3, got a start on 4, and am still doing 2! The first goal got derailed a bit as the second cowl fell to pieces (I attempted to use a set of very thick circular needles, which didn't work in my hands at all. I need to tink (undo; knit spelled backwards!) that cowl and restart).

Items that I completed were a square for a joint project, a baby tuque, a second tuque, and two baby blankets.

The second tuque started as a pair of leg warmers, promised to Diana Gabaldon when she was up in Scotland, and cold... 

...it reached this height...

...and somehow turned into a hat instead!

If I had started both leg warmers at the same time, they might have stayed leg warmers (also if I had been able to finish them in any decent length of time), but one of the reasons why I use the Magic Loop method when (and if) I make socks is because I can't stand knitting something then having to turn around and make a matching second item. Much better to knit both at once!

 This is the start of the baby tuque; I shared a photo of the completed tuque in October.


Blankets one and two. Funny, I guess I didn't take a photo of the first one after I completed it. Will try to remember to take one after baby comes!


I only had a handful of blog posts last year, some featuring interesting knitting links, one related to Outlander, one featuring Geek Knits, and one on Tolkien Reading Day.

I also became a patron of Knitty magazine, and kept up my collection of knitting-in-public-and-literature references. Here's one more:

Edith Piaf knitting


A collection of other-hobby items:

Blog contests
Crystal's always featuring new authors! Back in December she showcased Jules Smith, and I won a signed copy of Sophie's Throughway!
A new author each time; see who she's featuring this week at Crystal Collier.

Illustrations
It was the anniversary of Charles Perrault's birthday last Tuesday, and Google had some lovely doodles:

And I got an Outlander colouring book and a signed (!) page of a Pauline Baynes illustration for The Chronicles of Narnia!



Travelling
I just learned that one of my favourite Tolkien illustrators, John Howe, lives in Switzerland!

Poetry
This weekend is Burns supper night, held to celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns.

Here's a track that features a line from Tam O' Shanter:




Gratuitous baby photo

What projects are you focusing on?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Talli Roland's Latest, and a Knitting ROW80 Update

More holiday tales!

Talli Roland has a new story out:

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage



"With a whirlwind lifestyle travelling the world, the one thing Jess Millward relies on is Christmas with her gran in cosy Cranberry Cottage. When her grandmother reveals the house is directly in the path of a new high-speed railway, Jess is determined to fight.
Can Jess save the cottage from demolition, or will she have no home to come to this Christmas?"

I read this last weekend, and recommend it! It's just the right blend of heartwarming but not sappy, and was all the more poignant as it made me think of my maternal grandmother, who passed away last spring. Thanks for the warm and fuzzy feelings, Talli!

I've cross posted from the writing blog today, because my ROW80 goals have gotten somewhat skewed. I've got some notes and those five pages of Larksong still to type, Druid's Moon notes to check and editing to do, and NaNo to plan for, but instead I've been reading and knitting!

One project started, and one done:

Baby blanket (for a cousin due in January):




Coincidentally, the pattern for this blanket is taken from a pattern book I bought at the Knit n Purl shop in Myrtle Beach, the same book I used a pattern from when knitting a gift for Talli when she was expecting!

Baby tuque!



Came across this fun Wondermark a while ago:



I've also become a patron of Knitty, the longest-running online knitting magazine!



Have you supported any projects on Patreon? Or maybe on Kickstarter or another similar site?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Knitting and Music (Finished Secret Square, Maison Tavel, and Knitting Madonnas)

Cross-posting to the neglected knitting blog today!

With all the excitement on the writing front, and busy real life, knitting has slid onto the back burner. I see intriguing patterns, and have family and friends with new babies, but can't seem to get a project started that's larger than one square to donate to a group project:

Starting out...

Oh no, I made a mistake and have to tink (unknit)...

Whew! Managed to finish a square!

Now for the inspection...

I'm also still compiling knitting-in-public images and references, as I see them. One of the more recent was a portrait of a knitter in Maison Tavel, the oldest house in Geneva:



Also came across a website listing 46 Interesting Facts About Knitting, including about its origins and history:
"In the 1350s, 'knitting Madonnas' began to appear in Europe, depicting the Virgin Mary knitting. These include Our Lady Knitting (c. 1325–1375) and Visit of the Angel (1400–1410). These paintings are important markers that indicate when knitting entered Europe and how knitting was done. ... There were shepherds in the Landes swamps in France known as tchangues ('big legs') who would knit on stilts while they watched their flocks. The need for stilt walking and shepherds were obliterated by the early 20th century when the government planted a forest of maritime pines over the swamps."
Apparently, knitting for 30 minutes burns 55 calories!

Knitting or otherwise keeping my hands busy is sometimes a good way to work through a plot problem or character conversations. Other times, music can be a source of inspiration:



I've written a couple of thousand words this past week, but am not much closer to finalising the short story. Two weeks to go till the deadline!

What other hobbies inspire your writing (or vice versa)?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Worldwide Knit in Public Day, and Links!

I have a new project!

Top secret for now, but it's nice to be working on something again, even if it's in fits and starts. But it's just in time for Worldwide Knit in Public Day this Saturday!


Meanwhile, some links!

The latest issue of Knitty features Neil Gaiman. Browsing the issue also made me realise I hadn't checked the Knitty blog in a while. They always feature some neat links, and the last few posts were no exception.

I learned about author, knitter, and designer Sylvia Olsen's two month Great Canadian Knitting Tour.

I read about knitters who sit on Iceland's language committee.

I discovered a Scottish museum I'd love to visit, learned about Newfoundland patterns, and discovered that knitting was used by spies in World War I.


Mostly, though, drooling over all the patterns and knitting books featured in this issue of Knitty makes me want to drop everything else and just knit.

What projects are you working on?

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Outlander

O is for Outlander.

For this year's A to Z I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.


Today's book is one set somewhere you've always wanted to visit: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.



I've noted before that if it wasn't for Outlander my life would be very different:
A great book affects you not only at an emotional level - when you can't let go of the characters - or at a mental level - when you learn new words and information at every reread - but at a life level.
It's a stack of dominoes - if I hadn't read Outlander, I wouldn't have joined the (awesome!) Compuserve Books and Writers Community (and its group of wonderful readers and writers!). If I hadn't joined the Forum, I wouldn't have started taking my writing seriously. Imagine, I used to finish a story or novel and just leave it by the wayside. Now I've got two fully edited novels - one out on queries! - and I'm in the process of overhauling [four more]. If I hadn't started taking my writing seriously, I wouldn't be blogging, and I wouldn't have met all you wonderful people!
Yay for Diana Gabaldon!

The "somewhere I've always wanted to visit" aspect is, of course, Scotland. Later books in the series are set in France and North America, but I've been lucky enough to visit most of those settings (especially France and the Carolinas in the United States). In Scotland though, I've been to Edinburgh twice, yet have never been further north.

Let's see... I'd like to take a distillery tour, roam the Highlands, explore the islands, drop by the Walkers Shortbread factory, attend a Runrig or Idlewild concert or two...

My Runrig playlist

My Idlewild playlist

With the Outlander musical, and now the new Outlander series on Starz (with its evocative score, especially the title music, which always makes me cry) -- not to mention the awesome Outlander Kitchen -- there's an Outlander to suit (nay, overload) all five senses.

And that's not including all the knitting possibilities!

While I'm visiting the United Kingdom, I'd also love to attend the Hay-on-Wye literary festival.


 (love these press photos from the website!)

This year's edition will feature talks by Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Graham Swift, Elif Safak, Irvine Welsh, Rose Tremain, and Stephen Fry, among others. Wish I could go!

Which festivals would you like to attend?

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Knitting: Geek Knits!

K is for knitting!

For this year's A to Z Challenge I'm featuring books I've read based on the Reading Challenge.


The full A to Z is over on the writing and reading blog, The Girdle of Melian.

But one of the categories fits a knitting book that's on my wishlist: A book published this year:



Featuring all sorts of authors, actors, and other geeks:
"Are you ready to embrace your inner geek? This fun and fashionable compendium of knitting patterns definitely leans toward the Dark Side--but who says the Dark Side can't be chic and colorful, too? With projects ranging from easy to advanced, there's something here for everyone: sci-fi geeks, dice rollers, and fantasy enthusiasts alike. And if you're less into the culture and just need something unique to hold your comic book collection, author Joan of Dark has that covered, too.
Inside you'll find fun and funky projects modeled by some very familiar faces, including René Auberjonois of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and his Blue Box Scarf, John Carpenter and his Asylum Comic Book Cover, and George R. R. Martin with his trusty knitted Dire Wolf!"

Now I just need to find some time to knit...

Which new books are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tolkien Reading Day

Announcing...

Tolkien Reading Day, hosted by the Tolkien Society!

This year's theme is friendship, and the Society's page features videos from various scholars reading some of their favourite passages on that theme. Some of them are my favourites too, and I've always loved Leaf by Niggle.

During the 2012 A to Z Challenge I blogged about my favourite books and quoted one of the lines I love ("'and my companion, who, alas! is overcome with weariness' - here he gave the other a dig with his foot"), which also happens to relate to friendship. Those moments of levity are always heartwarming. Here's another of my favourites:

"Merry smiled. 'Well then,' he said, 'if Strider will provide what is needed, I will smoke and think. I had some of Saruman's best in my pack, but what became of it in the battle, I am sure I don't know.'
'Master Meriadoc,' said Aragorn, 'if you think that I have passed through the mountains and the realm of Gondor with fire and sword to bring herbs to a careless soldier who throws away his gear, you are mistaken. If your pack has not been found, then you must send for the herb-master of this House. And he will tell you that he did not know that the herb you desire had any virtues, but that it is called westmansweed by the vulgar, and galenas by the noble, and other names in other tongues more learned, and after adding a few half-forgotten rhymes that he does not understand, he will regretfully inform you that there is none in the House, and he will leave you to reflect on the history of tongues. And so now must I. For I have not slept in such a bed as this, since I rode from Dunharrow, nor eaten since the dark before dawn.'
Merry seized his hand and kissed it. 'I am frightfully sorry,' he said. 'Go at once! Ever since that night at Bree we have been a nuisance to you. But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place.'
'I know that well, or I would not deal with you in the same way,' said Aragorn. 'May the Shire live for ever unwithered!' And kissing Merry he went out, and Gandalf went with him.
Pippin remained behind. ‘Was there ever any one like him?' he said. 'Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related. My dear ass, your pack is lying by your bed, and you had it on your back when I met you. He saw it all the time, of course. And anyway I have some stuff of my own. Come on now! Longbottom Leaf it is. Fill up while I run and see about some food. And then let's be easy for a bit. Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can't live long on the heights.'
'No,' said Merry. 'I can't. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them.'"

Nothing to do with knitting of course! I currently have two unfinished projects, and more babies on the way (not mine!) that I'd love to knit for.

Please share your favourite baby item patterns!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Year-end Review

Year-end review, this time of my knitting projects!

Now this is sad. Looking back, I see that without counting the A to Z Challenge, I posted only three times on my neglected knitting blog (Now I'm 26 posts away from 200 overall).

The first was a recap of my knitting in 2013, the second was a happy announcement, and the third featured gifts and an update.

Happily, however, this does not mean I neglected the hobby itself! I completed two baby blankets and started work on two Outlander-inspired projects, one of which I finished last week! I haven't uploaded my photo yet - mine's in black and pink - but this is sort of what it looks like, though much thicker:


I looked at two patterns, the gathering and the sassenach, before deciding that I knit too tightly for such patterns. I did a 2*2 rib on circular needles, which made for a very cosy cowl.

I've already started another, along with a sweater for myself!

It's been a while since I shared famous people who knit, or literary references to knitting. I still collect them! I came across this one a while ago on Twitter:

Knitting Tim Burgess of The Charlatans (who have a new album out!)

Speaking of projects, I haven't moved ahead on my A Round of Words in 80 Days goals. That's what happens when you bring home office work on the weekend... But I'll take this opportunity to list my main knitting and other hobby goals for the year:

1. Finish knitting three more cowls
2. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies
3. Organise all our photos and print a few, especially for our grandparents
4. Bake more!


Which hobbies are you focusing on this year?

Please share your favourite baking recipes!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Projects in Progress, and Gifts!

Quick post! Let's see how quickly I can get this up during a certain someone's naptime... I've been sharing photos on Twitter but it's best to collate them here.

Works Completed and In Progress, and Gifts!
A crocheted set from one of her aunts - there are also a hat and booties!

Another auntie's lovely monogrammed gift!

Giftie #1 from another Auntie -- and apparently there's more to come!

One of the blankets I made

And another blanket -- the weather's still too warm to be using these

Outlander-inspired knitting in progress.
I have other less-thick wool to try this cowl pattern with after I've completed this one.

Hope everyone's having fun with their projects!
If you have any other Outlander-themed patterns, please share!