Monday, September 11, 2017

The Too Little Lilla My

Lilla My sweater/shirt for the brother

So... this was what it was meant to be, for my brother (above).

Lilla My on the front

This is how it came out (above).

Now, my brother's about one full size larger than I am as far as clothing goes. So suffice it to say it doesn't fit him. The good news is that it came out pretty true to the illustration, at least! The slightly relaxed fit, the drop shoulder, the Lilla My... the size just came out completely wrong. About a full size wrong. What went wrong? I can only guess at a few possibilities.

  1. I had two gauge swatches: the first was not quite tall enough, but used the chart, and the second was the bottom half of the shirt after I had ripped out the colourwork because my row gauge was wrong and I had to reknit it. I should have made two swatches: one with the chart, and one plain stockinette. Then I could probably have made more accurate calculations regarding how to make up for the difference. Measuring again using this finished shirt, here is the stitch gauge: 25 sts (stockinette) and 28 sts (over chart) = 4". That's a pretty big difference.
  2. I put too much faith in the magic of blocking. It seemed to stretch out somewhat and relax into a good shape after the first block, so I didn't have my brother try it on or compare it against the tee he gave me as reference after that.
  3. I tried it on in the last few stages and saw that it fit me, and assumed my brother being only one size larger should be ok with that too (and besides, it would stretch back out a bit after blocking, right?)

Weeeell... what can you do right?

I'm actually pretty miffed about the whole thing because this would have been the first thing I knit specially for my brother, but well... what can you do? I'm not about to rip the entire thing out (who knows if I'd ever finish it again after frogging the entire sweater?) and the sizing issue's a bit too much for me to just adjust it little by little, so. The shirt will have to be for me and/or my mom, since it fits us pretty well. And just in time, too! It's getting a bit chilly, but not outright cold just yet, so we'll be able to make good use of it, I'm sure.

And besides, this is sweater/shirt #2 completed for the Very Shannon Summer Sweater Knit Along 2017! Considering my progress in 2014, this is amazing.


At least I've learned a few things from this project (in addition to getting a nice new shirt, though it's not really my style):

  • Make proper gauge swatches! Especially if I'm going to be doing colourwork, because now I know that my tension goes horribly awry when I do that.
  • Use smaller needles for the inside of the folded hems: I had to reknit the sleeve hems because (as you can see in the photos above) the folded hems are kind of popping out a bit. That's because I knit them using the same size needles. I went down to 2.5mm needles afterwards for the inside bit.
  • The sweater curse runs true, even if it's only for your brother! (For further proof, see the unfinished Sherwood sweater, which I'm pretty sure is actually also too narrow for him.)

Friday, September 1, 2017


There's this folk tale I haven't been able to find online, that I remember my mom telling me as a child (and she remembers the gist of it, too, as well as my brother remembering having heard it before). It's the story of why the sparrow hops. I don't know the set-up, unfortunately, but here's the bare bones of it: the king summoned all of his subjects (or perhaps it was only the sparrow? this detail is a bit fuzzy) and the sparrow refused to bow/kowtow to the king, and so the king inflicted punishment upon the sparrow for its impertinence by forcing it to hop for the rest of its days (apparently the sparrow looks like it's constantly kowtowing with every hop it makes). Except I've got a couple questions:

  • Was this just the king of birds, or was it the Emperor?
  • Why did the sparrow refuse to bow or kowtow? Was it a pride thing?
  • In the other two versions my friend, who can actually read & write/type in Chinese characters, found on Google, the sparrow's legs are actually chained. Were there chains in this version as well?
    • The other two versions are as follows:
      1. A sparrow killed & ate the pigeon's 3 offspring, and so the pigeon went to tell the King of Birds of the heinous deed. The King called the sparrow to court and the sparrow confessed its crime. The punishment meted out to the sparrow was to have its legs chained so it must hop for all time.
      2. The sparrow, which loves to eat grain, once ate the grain set aside as offerings for the gods. The gods, who were angered by its disrespect, punished it for this transgression by binding its feet in chains.
It's times like these that I think it would be great had I paid a bit more attention in my Chinese school lessons back in elementary school, because I couldn't find anything about the folklore using English search terms, but these popped up relatively quickly once my friend at work searched it up in Chinese.

  1. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li
    • A collection of short stories, these were strangely reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and Other Stories that I read earlier. It's certainly a different sort of uncanny feeling you get from both authors, but it might be because both of them distill elements and details that focus less on presenting the full picture, instead almost creating the effect of being in someone's consciousness as they turn their attention to one thing, then the other and accompanying their sudden jumps in their thoughts. These short stories are halfway between what one might expect of a full novel, or a novella, and fairytales or myths, in a sense. They have the "stock" characters that you expect once the tone is established for the rest of the book, yet these characters are far from stock characters, idiosyncratic as they are. There is this pervasive understanding throughout all of the stories that we can never fully understand the full intentions and motivations of anyone else, and that of course relationships can never be as pure and beautiful as they may be portrayed in fiction, nor people as comprehensible as we wish they would be.
  2. Birds by Jeffrey Fisher, illustrated by Christine Fisher
    • I didn't realize the parliament of rooks actually had some kind of logic to it: apparently rooks occasionally form a circle around one or two other rooks, appear to deliberate as to what to do with them, before either deciding to pardon one (or both) or to peck them to death. Whoa.
  3. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
    • Not mind-blowing, but I did like it. I also quite enjoyed the size of the book, the colour palette, the photos, the illustrations - it was well designed (unsurprisingly, considering this is a book about hygge and the Danes).
  4. Prestige (2006)
    • I really wish Nolan didn't introduce the completely magical component (ironically the one "true" thing on stage that happens in the movie) - the film would have been so much better if there was some way to make everything actually fantastic magic tricks. I guess I just wish these two men could be outsmarting one another all the way through without resorting to fictional inventions, just pulling trick after trick from up their sleeves.
  5. The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection by Louisa Thomsen Brits
    • This presented as one big list of "hygge is....", split up into a few chapters that could be called themes, but that are in fact simply one big repetitive list. I'm not saying it's bad... per se - it simply isn't my cup of tea.
  6. The Call by Peadar Ó Guilín
    • Surprisingly good! I was gripped throughout most of the story. Apparently there's going to be a sequel released sometime next year, so I'm looking forward to seeing how Nessa & Anton play their parts in helping to eradicate The Call altogether. I was just thinking that there didn't seem to be much in terms of closure for the plot, in the issue of those who had made deals with the Sídhe didn't really get wrapped up, so thank goodness there's going to be a sequel. Some of the characters died before you really got to know and care about them, and to an extent, even when Megan died, it wasn't heart wrenching. There's also quite a bit of violence and gore, both implied and described, which is expected but also not. It's kind of like it's darker than I would have expected, but not in a perverse way where every bloody detail gets described in full.
    • A couple of shout outs:
      • Protagonist with disability that still kicks ass with her resourcefulness and physical strength
      • Non-heterosexual characters: one of the mothers of one of the children, I forget who, who happens to love and live with a woman (but does and still does love the man she left); Aoife & Emma; possibly Megan
      • Most of the characters, while not fully developed and endowed with flaws and weaknesses, are round characters
  7. How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen
    • A good chunk of the pages are dedicated to recipes, running the gamut from fika treats (think cardamom twists and a mouthwatering-looking sour cherry bundt cake) to every part of a meal, including sandwiches (featuring an ultimate grilled cheese), salads, mains, and a few boozy concoctions for every season. Johansen takes a slightly different approach to hygge, focusing more on the outdoors activity - living an active life in general - rather than the comfort and coziness of home and the conviviality of a gathering. She's also pretty upfront about hygge not being a shortcut to a happy life: "to a certain extent, you have to earn it" (p.7), which I quite appreciate.
    • Where the other two books on hygge focused more on the getting together part of hygge, and trying to define what exactly hygge itself is and isolate it in order to figure out what it is, Johansen covered a lot more ground, I think, and in doing so, provides a more realistic look at what Nordic inhabitants are doing well in order to live lives that are hygge. What I appreciated most about her approach, I think, is that she makes no secret of the fact that you can't just make your home a certain way using dimmer lights, or by lighting candles, and indulging in everything you'd like throughout the week, and not change your general outlook or perspective, and expect that to bring hygge: it actually takes effort to achieve (as I noted above).
    • Here are the main points I remember, without looking at the summary that Johansen provides at the end:
      • Enjoy the great outdoors, or at least get out of the house when you can, regardless of the weather
      • Exercise - outdoors if possible
        • Don't do it in order to get to a certain body shape, so much as in order to enjoy yourself
      • Cleanliness
      • All things in moderation, but indulge yourself
        • In the same vein, eat well and don't go for fad diets
      • Be present with other people, especially during meals
        • Take your time and enjoy the meal, rather than rushing through it
        • Enjoy the social aspect of it also
      • Surround yourself with good design & lighting - doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, but it has to make you comfortable
    • There are also a number of recipes featured in this book that I'd like to try out, such as the cardamom twists and the bundt cake, which I mentioned above, but the mains also look delicious!
  8. Anomalisa (2015)
    • I don't know that I agree with the summary of the plot here... or it may have been that I was under the impression that it was going to be about Michael not being able to see faces properly. Perhaps it's more that the "mundanity of his life" from which he escapes during those two days is simply represented by his seeing everyone as being the same person - and it's ironic that although he espouses seeing each customer as an individual, as each person in the audience is, he is unable to do so himself in any part of his life, except for that brief interlude with Lisa - but I was hoping for a discussion on prosopagnosia, which did not come up.
    • The stop motion animation is beyond amazing! Just absolutely incredible! I'm completely blown by how smooth everything is, and there were times when I wondered whether it was stop motion at all because of how seamlessly everything flowed.
  9. Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Tourell Søderberg
    • Wow is that font ever tiny!
    • The recipes included I wasn't super impressed with, though I did enjoy the photos throughout. I also quite enjoy the aesthetic, but it didn't really resonate with me as much as How to Hygge (above) did. The mystery snowflake poetry or letter tradition was really interesting, as well as learning about some of the different, more obscure, holidays or feast days, such as that for the last day of April. There was also a pronunciation guide, or rather instructions that teach you how to pronounce the enigmatic hygge, which was fun (and confirmed that I was pronouncing it correctly inside my head - I still have no idea whether I can actually say it the way I know it's said).
  10. The Circle by Dave Eggers
    • Very 1984, even in the way that it ends. Except Mae doesn't waver nearly as much once she has been converted, and it only takes periodic doses of two of the Wise Men telling her she's doing the right thing to get her back on track. There were a couple of typos, which were circled by someone who had borrowed the book before me, but apart from that it's written well. The insistence of Stenton & Bailey, and Mae's complacency, are a bit difficult to believe - especially on Mae's part - because there's less resistance than you might think in Mae, and I would have enjoyed a bit more of a twist or turn here and there, maybe? It's pretty easy to guess who Kalden is early on enough, and I wish he played a slightly bigger role, or was a bit more successful - to truly trick the audience into believing for a second that maybe Mae would side with him, because as it is, there's no doubt that Mae will turn on him - but it was fine.
    • It's relatable, even if not quite to the extent that Mae takes it by becoming transparent in the novel, in that the fear of too much (personal) information being made available on the web, along with handing all the power over to one entity, even if it is a company, is a recipe for disaster. And while I don't think it's going to get to the point that the novel reaches, it's still an unsettling picture all the same.
    • I'm wondering whether Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is like this as well?
  11. Pantheon by Hamish Steele
  12. Following (1998) by Christopher Nolan
    • Going back and forth in time from frame to frame, it was a bit confusing to get straight when what happened, but this film certainly keeps you on your toes the entire time! I think this had a lot more draw to it than Prestige, personally.
  13. The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth
    • I swear it's a coincidence that I've been reading a stack of hygge books, followed by a dystopian novel, then going on to this book seeking to debunk the utopian view of Scandinavian living. There's actually no connection - this was one of the books I picked up while making the Armchair Travel list months ago for work, of which Ice Diaries and The Shepherd's Life were a part, as well as The Bookshop on the Corner. See my reviews for those here in June.
    • Part of me wants to think Booth is taking his witty repartee a bit far, but at the same time, he addresses the issues the hygge books inevitably bring up. And apparently the xenophobia extends beyond just hygge into the other Nordic countries as well. (Which gels with what a coworker friend of mine had told me about her experience of Denmark.) At times hilarious and always entertaining - though some of those chapter titles I'm not quite getting... such as Stockholm Syndrome when nothing of the sort takes place in that chapter - this is an interesting foray into debunking the myth of the utopia found in Scandinavian/Nordic countries.
    • Booth does seem to have something against Sweden, and he readily admits that when faced with these seemingly perfect facades that are the Scandinavian reputations at first glance, there is certainly an urge to expose the dirty underbelly, and he says of himself that perhaps he hasn't resisted that urge as well as he perhaps should have or wanted to, but still - it's as though all the animosity the other Nordic countries have towards Sweden have been absorbed by Booth and he's simply out to expose them for their flaws and denial.
  14. Death by Hanging (1968)
    • I'm not sure how to talk about this film, in part because I'm not too knowledgeable as regards the treatment of Koreans living in Japan after WWII, as well as the horrors inflicted upon Korea by Japan during the war. By which I mean that I know an overview, from an art history course, but I also don't feel as though I'm in a position where I can make meaningful commentary about the movie and all that it, in turn, comments on.
    • Of course, there's the theme of guilt, as well as of responsibility and personhood running through the entire film, but I can't really speak to much of it without doing further research, I don't think.
  15. Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story at the ROM
    • I went with a friend who is a bit squeamish, so we did skip the flensing video, but went through the rest of the exhibit and interacted with most of the stuff there (except for the video game). Personally, I don't think I really learned anything in particular from the exhibition, and the immensity of the full blue whale didn't really surprise me as much as maybe it should have - I do think the models in the Whales of Iceland exhibit were pretty close, if not, 1:1 - which is not to say that the exhibit was underwhelming! But I did get the feeling the target audience was probably families, especially those with younger children. Lots of interactive components, including a plastinated moose heart you could touch, as well as a photo booth section where you could dress up as krill and step into a whale's mouth (or at least the skeletal remains of its mouth, complete with baleen).
    • A lot of the information was covered in the Whales of Iceland exhibit, which I actually enjoyed more overall, but I'm still glad I went to this one!
    • There was also a very conspicuous smart car right beside the plastinated heart (for which they didn't really explain the process of plastination either, sadly, or that I could see), which was probably the most blatant advertising by a sponsor that I had ever seen in a ROM exhibit... ever. The car had heart-like vessel designs on it, but let's be real: it's nothing more than advertisement. My friend also noted how a lot of the information presented in the exhibit also led you to other organizations.
  16. The Milliner's Daughter (Ydessa Hendeles) at the Power Plant
    • WOW. That was probably my favourite show this year - maybe tied with work.wear, but definitely up there on the list!
    • I'm getting lazy at this point, but here are some things I would talk about if I were to put the time into it (horrible, I know):
      • Flat characters in fairytales, and the lack of individuality in collective groups, or the herd
        • Are we playing roles in the tableaus Hendeles sets up? Which roles do we play, and how best should we approach them?
      • Nietzsche?
      • Also the amorality, or ambiguous moral lessons, present in less edited fairytales (I'm looking at Grimms' as highly touched up, so no, I don't just mean return to Grimms' original publications)
    • Can we ring the working bicycle bell? We didn't, and it doesn't look like you should, but in truth are we allowed?
  17. Legacies 150 at the Harbourfront Centre
    • I really enjoyed the tablets on the table in the center of the gallery space where you could watch/scroll through each of the stories.
  18. Quanta article: Interspecies Hybrids Play a Vital Role in Evolution
    • So you mean convergent evolution doesn't explain everything? It might actually just be that they swapped DNA somewhere down the line?
  19. Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? by Andrew Lawler
    • I was reading this at the same time as I was reading Bird Sense (below), and had coincidentally just got to the Touch chapter of Bird Sense before reading the final few chapters of Why Did the Chicken Cross the World, where Lawler talks about how hens are debeaked... right after I had read about beaks being a sensitive sensory organ. A lot of the last third of this book was uncomfortable to read, but rightly so! The poultry industry drives invention to produce chickens that produce more meat or more eggs with less feed, and over a smaller span of time, to the detriment of the chickens themselves, whose very bone structures don't have time to grow before the meat packs on. Some of them can't even walk to their feed and water bowls because of how they have been bred to prioritize heftier chests that grow in some forty odd days. And their invisibility in everyday life - I get that banning backyard chickens is probably more out of fear of the diseases associated with fowl - makes it that much easier to turn a blind eye. I never realized that free-range, organic chickens don't necessarily have the time of their lives either, some having the same chance of seeing the light of day as their caged brethren. Which is to say: none.
    • Because my parents do use Hmong chicken in their cooking, I am familiar with the black skin, flesh and bones that pops up in our soups every so often, and I do find that they taste different. While I'm pretty horrible at discerning different tastes - as an example, it took me a good two minutes or so to figure out the flavour of Jelly Belly I was eating the other day, despite its familiarity: black pepper - I think it's safe to say that it would really be quite a pity if we simply lost all the different types of chicken indigenous to different parts of the world, for we would be giving up a whole world of flavours (even without the consideration of genetic diversity and how that might help to produce chickens that will survive in their respective climes, outside of layers and cages).
    • While I'm not about to purge poultry from my diet, I don't think that's exactly what Lawler had in mind either, so much as to force you to become more aware of the industry and thus have you make more informed choices. I like the idea of having a photo of the hens' living conditions on the egg cartons, so that consumers cannot simply turn away from the knowledge that the chickens aren't living a glamorous life. Besides providing a wonderful history of the chicken and its journey across the world, along with its role and significance in different times and different places, I think what Lawler managed to do spectacularly well is to not present as sermonizing about the chicken industry while at the same time giving a sobering account of it. Part of it is that he, and the people he interviews, are quite realistic about the situation: chickens are doomed. But the beauty of it is that people are still researching and doing their quixotic parts to help chickens for the sake of chickens - as Brisbin (who rescued wild Red Jungle Fowl from destruction in the 70s) says, it's "a way to say thank you" (p.264).
Still working on (and new ones):
  1. Toppamono by Miyazaki Manabu
  2. The Bird by Colin Tudge
    • There's a lot of "more on this later", which gets a bit irritating after a while, to be honest, though I also do a fair bit of that in my own writing. Although it's good for those who might be interested in a specific topic, to see (see Chapter 4) or something along those lines, to know exactly where to skip to, for myself personally, if there was something I was looking for, I'd just go to the index or the table of contents, so all these internal "links" are distracting at best.
  3. Bird Sense by Tim Birkhead
    • I really like the way this is laid out, how Birkhead goes from some background history of our knowledge of bird senses and how it has changed over the years, and what appears to be a pattern of "we didn't know this until recently", coupled with personal anecdotes and many examples that illustrate the senses, from notable abnormalities (e.g. the use of echolocation by oilbirds and a certain swift) to common sense capabilities.
  4. Beautiful Angiola translated by Jack Zipes
    • Unfortunately, I had to return this before I finished reading all the tales, but I do enjoy the queens' roles in these! Ever so exasperated and rational - "Just give it up, son! She doesn't want you!" or "Leave the poor girl alone already! She's suffered enough!" - and ever so ignored. There's quite a bit more murder in these fairy and folk tales than in the Grimms, I think, in that they are glossed over much more perfunctorily. And the running theme of beauty being of utmost importance is readily apparent also. There's also the fact that some of these tales can be seen in both Grimms as well as in this collection, or at least they are similar enough (like the story of the fur skin, or the really dirty princess with the three beautiful dresses).

Sunday, August 13, 2017

5-Year Old Sheep

I suppose the sheep are closer to 3 years old since I reknit them all in 2014?

I think I can call it a year now. This sheep sweater-turned-vest-turned-sweater has finally - finally - been finished! It's come a long way, and I just discovered the progress updates information on the ravelry project page, so I have a bit of a better idea when I did what... kind of:

  • April 2012: CO and work on it sporadically until sometime in May
  • 21 months pass
  • March 2014: join in SSKAL14 in an attempt to motivate myself to work on it again - it didn't work.
    • I ripped this out all the way until the ribbing, re-knit the sheep and basically got myself back to where I was before picking it back up again, I think?
  • 4 months pass
  • September 2014: unfortunately I didn't write any notes down as to what I did to it during this time, but I remember just knitting it straight up to the armholes and starting the armhole shaping
    • I also started to knit a sleeve, because my original plan was to knit it all in one piece, connecting the sleeves and knitting the armhole shaping all at once.
    • The sleeve was frogged for several reasons: it was way too roomy because of the sudden increases right after the ribbed cuff (part of original pattern that I ended up changing), but also because I was rethinking how I wanted to knit the sweater
      • I think I also decided to make it into a vest around this time, so that probably gave me a good reason to just rip out that entire sleeve.
  • 33 months pass - 33!
  • July 2017: pick it back up again, just in time for the SSKAL17!
    • Had to re-knit the ribbed neckline once because I just winged it and it was a bit of a tight fit.
  • August 2017: finally done!

It's been a long time coming.

Longer armholes next time, maybe?

To tell the truth, I probably wouldn't be casting this on if I saw the pattern today. It might make it into my favourites, but I don't think I'd even have added it to my queue: I just wouldn't be able to see myself wearing it. So thank goodness I cast on before I started actually thinking about the practicality of casting something on! It's a pretty basic sweater, and I know the sheep aren't all that sheep-like, but it's cute, it's comfy, and I think it'll probably see some use once fall and winter roll around. It's actually the first stranded sweater I've ever knit, and what's even more amazing is that knowing that there was colourwork all throughout the entire thing didn't faze me a bit - me, who had yet to do any stranded knitting before; who didn't get gauge so had to recalculate the pattern (though this has never really fazed me so much as irritated me because it was extra work - though satisfying once everything came out just as it was supposed to!); and me, who didn't understand what magic blocking could generate (as evidenced by the pink sage). Though I'm pretty sure everything to do with knitting can't be that difficult, really, and that it's mostly a matter of practice and going for it, which has been my attitude since I started. And which is why I ended up knitting wight in a completely different gauge, and did the math to make a sage pretty early on. Knitting finally made me see the practical use of the math I had been learning all those years - truly, it did!

Loopy stitches possibility - neckline too wide to do this

Originally (by which I mean my Plan B after I decided I'd cut myself some slack and make it into a vest instead of a full-blown sweater), I was going to add a loop stitch funnel neck (as in the sketch above) to really bring out the sheep colourwork at the bottom hem, but the neckline ended up too wide and I really didn't want to rip it out and re-knit the neckline for both front & back again, so I ended up just doing a regular red ribbed collar. Because all the measurements for the finished garment were for a slightly drop-shoulder sweater, it ended up being too wide to change into a vest, so despite having ripped out an entire sleeve before some years ago, I went ahead and knit some sleeves to go with the body. Everything came full circle.

Impractical with shorts? Definitely!

This sweater has gone through so many revisions, starting as a sweater and then turning into a vest, then returning to the original sweater plan because the body was just too wide to be a vest; not to mention the frogging of everything except the ribbing at one point! It's been a solid 5 years since I cast on in April 2012 and I'm so glad it's done and out of my WIP pile! And now I've only got one more long outstanding WIP: the Sherwood sweater for my brother. I started that one in July of 2013, so I've got one full year more to just get on that before I break my record for this sheep vest. It will get done eventually, or so I tell my brother (who has  long since stopped asking about it). At least my completion of the sheep sweater should serve as proof of my word!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

July Reads

Hmmm... it's been slowing down this month.

  1. The Lunchbox (2013)
    • I saw the trailer for this in one of the pre-movie trailers from another movie and remember marking it down, but I rarely ever actually follow up on stuff like that, so I was pretty surprised to see The Lunchbox on display when I went to cover at another library, making sure to bring it home with me.
    • The Lunchbox is a very gentle love story, but not just a romance, because it touches on some of the insecurities and worries both Saajan and Ila as people living their own lives, but also both in Mumbai as they live through the ever-changing city. We see only snippets of their lives through their letters to each other and how they respond to them, and it is this remove that allows them also to develop the affections for each other that they do. I found the movie very satisfying, and am glad it ended where it did.
    • That lunchbox delivery system is pretty cool. How do they make sure they get the right lunch to the right person? I saw a number written on the lunchbox handle in a shot, so I'm assuming those do the trick, but the workers who actually hand out the lunches must have amazing memory! I wonder if the strong message against smoking (literally printing "smoking kills" on the screen in a corner whenever Saajan smokes on screen, as well as having a lengthy information session before the movie starts about how smoking affects your health) is government-enforced?
  2. Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus by Laura Kipnis
    • I never really understood why any attempt to even just think about proposing that both men and women get educated on how to ask for consent and protect themselves respectively (or perhaps not strictly respectively, since there are also men who are victims of sexual harassment and abuse) made me feel as though I were going down the route of victim shaming, even when I wasn't. There's this need to qualify the statement, "Now, I'm not suggesting that the blame lies in the victim, but..." And now Kipnis has written about it! Hurrah!
    • Well written, with a touch of wry humour throughout, Unwanted Advances is a delightful read that makes every bit of sense. Title IX sounds horrifying and it's a surprise to me that something with that much power should not be standardized, at the very least. I would have liked to see more of an exposition of how Title IX investigations and proceedings go, and how flawed they are, in a more systematic study, to absolutely crush public perception of them and reveal how arbitrary the system is/can be, but this is not the book to do so.
  3. The Beguiled (2017) by Sofia Coppola
    • I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but watching the trailer certainly gave me a good idea in terms of the atmosphere and the whole aesthetic of the movie. My friend was telling me how people generally either love or hate Coppola's works, precisely because of her aesthetic and the unconventional plot lines, and while I have yet to watch anything else of hers, I can see why that might be so. I did enjoy the almost dreamy quality to the entire film, an everyday mundaneness made eerie by the danger lurking outside, contrasted with the young girls and women living in this school. I'm not sure how unexpected the turn of events was, in that the man (spoiler alert) dies by the women's hands, and even in the trailer, you see the turning point already. What does surprise me is that Edwina was able to calm him down (by confirming his masculinity and what he thinks his place is amongst all these young ladies) - or rather, that she should want to at that point - and yet still deign to return to the way things were before (or a version of things as they once were, before the disturbance).
  4. Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
    • I was working on a display about sex and gender, and a couple of fiction books popped up with "intersexuality - fiction" as the subject, of which this was one, another one being Annabel by Kathleen Winter. I have yet to read Annabel, but I'm pretty interested to see how these two novels featuring an intersex protagonist differ in their portrayal of the individual, especially since they are categorized as being for different target audiences (Golden Boy being for young adults; Annabel for adults). I realize that differences in the way intersexuality is presented between the two novels of course will be due to differences in the authors as well, but it'll be interesting to compare how intersex characters are portrayed in fiction.
    • I really enjoyed reading this. While some characters were less developed than I would've liked (e.g. Karen & Steve, the parents, as well as even Sylvie), Tarttelin did a wonderful job switching perspectives and presenting where all the characters stood. It's also one of those novels that doesn't tie up all the loose ends: the mother and father live separately at the end; Max tries to kill himself; and his being intersex does not become public knowledge, so there's still the question of how everyone is going to navigate that.
    • While it sort of feels as though Tarttelin tries to deal with too many topics at once - gender & sex, intersex, identity & coming of age, rape & the domino effect of its consequences for everyone - I think she did a pretty good job juggling them all.
      • One little quibble I've got concerns the doctor. The parts where she explains her research about intersex individuals and what she uncovers in her brief search online (at Wikipedia... despite being a doctor and thus very likely being more than qualified to look at the scientific literature), was presented in an information session-like form. There's also the fact that it's only when she slips up that Karen, the mother, realizes what happened. Karen's character isn't entirely believable, in how childishly she deals with everything - not facing reality, refusing to listen to Max, her inability to realize that Max is a person rather than a thing - but it certainly drove the story along.
  5. Search and Spot: Animals! by Laura Ljungkvist
    • Yeah, I know, I jump from one end of reading topics to the other. This reminds me of the way there are now adult colouring books; this search and spot book of animals is absolutely delightful. And that's not an exaggeration in the least. I couldn't find the last hooting owl, or two of the snail buddies, or one of the fish swimming upstream. Admittedly, I had been staring at the entire thing for probably a good half hour to an hour, but that it entertained me for so long, and that my joy was unabated throughout, is a testament to what a wonderful book this is! The illustrations are playful and set the mood for the entire book, which I love, and it's surprisingly complicated, with layers upon layers of things to look for - between finding animals, spotting line colours, directions, and different colours of a variety of animal body parts, you'll be absolutely consumed by the illustrations and instructions. In the best of ways, of course. I see that there's also a Go! edition that features vehicles and things related to things that go, so I'll have to keep that in mind for a lazy day like when I stumbled upon this treasure.
  6. Hector and the Search for Happiness by François Lelord
    • I liked the movie quite a bit, which is the reason I'm picking up this book, but I'm really put off by the writing. It's kind of imitating that patronizing way adults can write when writing for children, except you don't find that in children's novels so much nowadays, I don't think, because it's a bit of a sly wink at the child also, in that the author knows the child must know more than what's written, and thus it's written the way it is, but it's strangely frustrating this time.
    • The movie was a lot better. I didn't like the novel at all! I know it's trying to imitate a bit of that fairytale style, but it's a bit too much. I don't really know what the takeaway is, either? I feel as though it was just poorly executed for a story with some promise. Characters weren't developed, and came across as incredibly flat. Clara in particular had no role in the novel. I much preferred the movie adaptation on this front, as well as on Hector's part.
  7. The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood by Irving Finkel
    • So... there's a notes section, but none of it is directly noted in the text, and I'm kind of confused why they're not. How else are you supposed to know that there are notes to look at at the end of the book? There were also some sentences I couldn't be sure were just poorly written or I couldn't parse it because I was trying too hard, and one part that referred you back to chapter 10 (while you were in chapter 10), except I think it meant chapter 9.
    • Very interesting! It's amazing how the discovery of one small tablet unleashed all this new information, allowing us to reinterpret older tablets that have long been decoded. All the cuneiform tablet photos look like gibberish to me, so it's pretty cool that so much information could be written into such small tablets, made of clay no less. Not that I have much interest in learning how to read them, personally, but I do think the decoding and comparing of various sources is fascinating nonetheless. Especially as it concerns what may be the source of some Bible stories (apart from, obviously, the Flood). I was expecting something else altogether, in part because I had been reading up so much on the ocean, so I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that this book is based pretty much entirely on written tablets.
    • I love that Finkel includes the math in an appendix! Not that I went through it in much detail, but I still love that it's there!
  8. Angels, Mobsters, and Narco-terrorists by Antonio Nicaso & Lee Lamothe
    • I was chatting with coworkers about how I really wanted to have someone have already published a book comparing different criminal organizations and exploring how they all interact with one another, and lo and behold! It just so happened one of the people I was chatting with had also read John Dickie's Cosa Nostra & Blood Brotherhoods, and upon hearing my plea, guided me over to this title over here. We are on the ball with reader's advisory!
      • I guess what I'm more interested in is simply information as to why certain organizations arose of the society that they did - i.e. why it's not just different incarnations of the mafia the world over. There are subtle differences to each of the organizations, I'm sure, in terms of both the structure of the organizations themselves, as well as myths, but also in how they fit into the societies they grew out of. And of course, why some of the differences may have arisen: why, for example, is it allowed for those in the Russian mafiya & the Japanese yakuza to wash their hands of that life, but not the Sicilian Mafia? This book does not cover much of the history behind the organizations.
    • Did anyone proofread this book before it hit the press? No? I didn't think so. Beyond weird sentence structures (e.g. starting off a sentence with "while..." and not balancing it back out with anything on the other side of the sentence), there are at least ten typos where entire words - conjunctions for the most part, granted, but still! - are just wrong.
      • I also did not feel like the entire volume was very cohesive as a whole. I suppose rather than a finished product, it feels more like the in-between stage where the authors have clearly done their research, but they haven't tied everything together nicely. There's no conclusion to sum things up either, though I suppose the Canada chapter serves, in theory, as the conclusion? Overall impression: weakly compiled, repetitive (how many times do you have to define "snakehead" immediately after mentioning the term? Once should be plenty, thanks), uncompelling writing.
      • Nicaso & Lamothe do a good job covering organizations around the world, though, and I think it's a good starting point for if you're interested in reading about mafias and gangs around the world and aren't sure where to start. There's the obvious ones like the Italian mafias and the Chinese Triads, maybe even the outlaw motorcycle gangs, but others might not immediately come up as something to look into, for example other Asian crime organizations, the Russian mafiyas, or the involvement of Africa despite the absence of a traditional crime organization native to the land.
        • There's a clear difference in how much weight is given to each organization - the yakuza only gets about a page or two, for example, which is especially odd considering the fact that the yakuza are introduced as being the largest crime organization worldwide, as compared to the entire chapter dedicated to Italian organizations - but if you're just starting to look at the topic, this is a good place to get terms & names to continue your research, I suppose.
    • The entire book could have been expanded into at least three times the size to be a bit more comprehensive and produce more information about each of the areas, as well as benefit from proofreading and better structure in general. It's not bad, but I wouldn't really recommend it either. It would probably be more worthwhile to simply track down more in-depth books discussing each of the different types of organizations around the world. But then again, it might just be my own expectations.
  9. Tabu (2012)
  10. The Journey by Francesca Sanna
    • The style of illustrations and my expectations based on the cover were so incongruous with the story that there was this disconnect when I flipped to the second page and the war started. What a powerful book. And the illustrations are absolutely phenomenal.
Working on:
  1. Toppamono: Outlaw. Radical. Suspect. My Life in Japan's Underworld by Miyazaki Manabu
    • The straightforward style of writing, and frank admissions that come of it throughout, made this a really enjoyable read for me. Miyazaki makes sure to note the social context around which he grew up, and explain how that affected even the yakuza side of his upbringing by contrasting it with how things are now (as of first publication, I assume, in 1996).
  2. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Iceland (photos)

Warning: photo heavy.

I think it's a Glaucus Gull? They're beautiful! And they also seemed a bit larger than the seagulls hereabouts.

We just got back not long ago from Reykjavik, and I'm already missing (strangely enough, of all things) the sulphurous smell that accompanies the hot water. I was a bit skeptical at first when my coworker was telling me that one of the things she remembers most about Iceland was that the hot water smelled of sulphur ("... you mean like rotten eggs?" "Yeah, exactly that."), but I actually found there was something soothing about it once I experienced it myself. And I was also surprisingly fond of all the licorice flavoured stuff they have there - this coming from someone who used to absolutely shiver with disgust whenever she so much as heard the word licorice crawl out of someone's mouth! (The hotdogs were also amazing.)

Can't help but think buttcrack when I look at the photo, to be honest.

We were very lucky in terms of weather; every day trip we took (one to the South and another to Snæfellsnes) was more or less sunny, with a bit of cloud and rain for Snæfellsnes, which made for a couple of rainbows - a couple of double rainbows, actually! - at the waterfalls in the South and a fun time all around. Our guide for the Southern tour told us that this was the first time in about a month that he was able to actually talk about the volcanoes we were passing, because they had been hidden from sight all the other times he had led the trip by fog or cloud! My film never caught after I reloaded it during the South tour, and that was for the camera I was using the most that day, unfortunately, so there isn't too much to show for it (including double rainbows at both waterfalls), but apart from that tidbit, everything went pretty smoothly and we even got to go into a cave!

We went with Gateway to Iceland for both trips - they keep the tour sizes small, and the tour guides were knowledgeable and obviously passionate about their work, which is always great to see!

Double rainbow...! Jokes! Film didn't catch till I gave up on trying to capture that. Photos or it didn't happen though?

It was actually even more of a saturated blue than this.
Directly across from where we were living.


The rest of the time we stayed in and around downtown Reykjavik, though we did go visit the trail in the Elliðaàrdalur valley (I still can't pronounce it) after visiting Àrbærjarsafn (Àrbær Open Air Museum), where I finally got to see some sheep up close! We got a bit confused along the way to Elliðaàrdalur, trying to match up a map with reality and not realizing that we were looking at the wrong bit of map (the road we were looking at continued with the same name even though it looked as though it was just an intersection), and ended up having to ask for directions. Once we reached the river, my brother and I both saw - but failed to capture! - a fish jumping right up the small waterfall (if you could call it that). Not sure what fish it was, but it had great timing! Although there isn't too much in terms of wildlife that I saw, the bird population we encountered was huge. Birds everywhere, from gulls and Arctic terns (I will never forget the sound of their warning calls or the feeling of the love tap they gave me on the back of my head - beautiful birds otherwise) to ducks and geese to your regular pigeon. We had just gone during nesting season, too, so after that tern attack, I couldn't really fully enjoy Viðey island the same way as maybe I would've been able to before that encounter, especially not after seeing a "protected nesting grounds" labeled on the map. The island was... I don't want to say it's boring, but there wasn't too much to see. It's great for a leisurely hike, and I'm sure we missed out on a lot of the more scenic routes because we tried to avoid getting attacked by birds and stuck to the main road, but I kind of expected more colour all around.

Did I mention the lichen and the moss?
I have no idea what's going on there, but this was in between houses.

The colours that you can find sort of just everywhere in Reykjavik are so incredibly vivid and varied that I was tempted to take photos of basically everything I came across at times - imagine a Hockney-esque panorama of some view or other, even within the city with all the buildings. The roofs of the buildings offer pops of colour left and right, and even the building walls themselves are coloured! I'm not sure why exactly, and from the photos my brother took last time he went (a couple years ago, I think?) from up in the church, it does seem to have dulled a bit in comparison, but it's still very cheerful at ground level to see the variety of colour. Something else that was everywhere: wall paintings and graffiti.


The entire construction wall was graffitied through, ranging in style.

See below.

I thought I saw you somewhere before! (There's also a restaurant called Ugly, though not sure if associated?)

I know we have moss & lichen here too, but there's something about it!

There's also a profuse amount of moss and lichen, the likes of which I want to say I've never seen before, but I'm sure I have and it simply didn't make as great an impression on me. What really got me, though, was the moss. And not even the incredibly bright green moss that carpeted the entire ground on either side as we were driving along the road for the South tour (because it had just rained the day before). It's the thick, light green-grey stuff that's probably inches thick growing on the lava fields. Those are absolutely mind-boggling! How thick and lush they are; how plush! Just imagine lying down on that! (Though you'd get a pretty hefty fine from what I understand if a ranger found you on top of the moss.)

This. Is. The. Dream.
See that streamlined shape in the foreground, that the guy at the side is keeping an eye on? That's an arctic tern (see below).

Aggressive when nesting.

We didn't explore too much around the city itself, going to the same broad areas throughout the week:
  • Along the harbour. We ate ice cream at Valdís a couple of times, where I tried a salted licorice ice cream despite my initial misgivings (I mean, it is licorice after all, and you know those boxes of black and brightly coloured licorice candies? That was my first experience of the stuff, so I think it's an understandable reaction). We also went to the omnom factory, where we got most of the chocolate souvenirs.

Along the way to Whales of Iceland

The car roof looks like water!

  • The Whales of Iceland exhibit. I think they set this up quite well: the audio guides were small and unobtrusive, the size of an iPod mini, I think, and they provide you the headphones as well. I usually never listen to audio guides, so the fact that I did is a good sign. There were also tablets set up beside each dolphin or whale so you could read a little blurb about it if you chose not to listen to the guide or if you wanted a reminder which is which (with language options between English, Icelandic, and German). There were also interactive displays that gave a bit more information about specific things, such as killer whales, the evolutionary backdrop to whales (and how hippopotamuses are their closest living relative), and another one on mink whales. Then there are the models and the way they were displayed, such that you literally walked among the whales! Pretty cool.
    • The only concern I had after watching the documentary they were showing was that the documentary, which talks about Keiko the killer whale, who was set free after a campaign following the Free Willy movie. The documentary shown (that I saw - perhaps there is more than one being shown?) only goes up until the part where Keiko is still in the pen in the ocean, being slowly trained to eat fish in the water instead of having fish being thrown into his mouth. It doesn't tell you that Keiko never integrated into the pod that was closeby, or that Keiko died alone off the Norwegian shore, completely dependent on humans for subsistence for the rest of his "free" life. I spoke to one of the workers there and he told me that they had only just started showing the documentary, so perhaps they will be adding the other one, which follows Keiko till the end of his life - they actually have this documentary in the store, so I really hope they do! - depending on how things go, later on. It would definitely change the views of the visitors who come into the exhibit, I think, and be a bit more thought-provoking, though I suppose that isn't really the point of this particular exhibit.

Outside the bedroom window

Nifty back corridor we took to get to the harbour & thereabouts.

  • We walked along Laugavegur a couple times also, taking the bus to Hlemmur and walking back to Ranargata, where we lived.
  • City Hall area, which was actually very close to where we were staying, so I'm somewhat surprised we didn't go more often considering how beautiful it is there. That being said, if we had made regular strolls around the city in addition to all the touring we did, I'd probably not have made it back in one piece, so I'm glad we decided that sleep is important and we should probably indulge in that.
    • Surprisingly, the 24-hr daylight didn't bother my sleep schedule one bit. I probably slept better there than I have continuously in a while. It might have something to do with how much walking we were doing every day and how many activities we would fit into each and every day, such that I'd be exhausted by the end of it all, but all the same. I loved the constant sunlight.
  • Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. They are the best. I'm not even a hot dog person. I stay away from street meat when in Toronto to the point where I can't even remember the last time I ate one. But these I'm pretty sure I can eat every day. No joke.
  • We did get to go visit one of the swimming pools, which was beyond amazing! We went to Laugardalslaug and stuck to the outdoor pool and the hot tubs - I didn't even realize the beach volleyball was accessible from the floor of the pool area - and the lack of chlorine was a nice change from the swimming pools here. There was also the fact that even though the lanes weren't strictly regimented into slow/medium/fast lanes and didn't tell you which direction you had to swim, everybody looked out where they were going and it self-regulated well. But that's not even the best part. The entire system is the best part.
    • You get a little wristband after paying that allows you past the turnstile and opens/locks the lockers inside the changerooms. The pool provides towels if you didn't bring your own (already amazing) as well as soap (which pools provide here as well, but the soap was actually soap-like, not the poor excuse for soap they provide at public pools here). There's an open shoe rack outside the changerooms, and shoe lockers right beside those if you want to use them, so shoes are not allowed at all into the changerooms. The floor of the changeroom is also completely dry. Whoa. I'm always tiptoeing left and right around the disgusting muck that is the floor here! Someone monitors who goes into the pool and comes back in, as well as hands out the towels, so if they see you're heading into the pool dry, you'll get stopped and reminded to shower. The pool gets to stay cleaner and you don't step on all manner of dirt and hair on your way back into the changeroom - incredible. There was also a dryer so your swimsuit wouldn't drip all over the place afterwards, although I hear that's been implemented here also in some pools. On your way out, there's a bag for you to dump your towel and the turnstile lets you out only after you return your wristband. I have no words to describe how much I love this system. No words.


I was never afraid I'd get lost to the point of no return, and navigating the streets came pretty naturally after the first day, which is weird. I can get lost in Toronto, and it's a pretty rigid grid system in Toronto. It might have something to do with how colourful everything is and how close to the ground everything is. I definitely want to go back - maybe in the winter next time?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Riff Dress

Just finished a dress.

In light of my recent addition to the stash (though really, I haven't been adding to the herd much this past year or so), I feel as though I should put on a proper show of stashbusting at the very least. Granted, the Rosebleed shawl was also knit using yarn dug out from somewhere around the middle layers of my stash, time-wise; I purchased both this teal cotton and the studioloo lacey loo at the same time at the Knitter's Frolic a couple of years back. Maybe there's an incubation period that yarn has to go through before I can finally use it? (Though I'm not sure what that means for all the yarn that I bought when I first started into the knitting abyss and have yet to use...)

Anyway, this dress was a riff off the Country Garden Top pattern, using completely different yarn & needles producing a different gauge and completely disregarding the pattern altogether save the feather and fan bib. I also took the idea of knitting the straps past the front and attaching everything at the back. And that's basically it. So I think of the Country Garden Top pattern as more of an inspiration than anything, but I'm also veering heavily towards "let's not make a pattern out of this".

More slip dress-like than I planned

I was aiming for a summery dress, and to be sure, this fits the bill, but I overestimated how much 40" would be once it went completely around the bottom hem of the dress, so it's a bit less voluminous than I wanted it to be. In hindsight, I should have skipped the A-line shaping altogether and did heavier decreases at the top, just under the front bib, to get a more dramatic shape out of it, but I suppose this is fine too. It came out rather more slip-like than babydoll dress-like, but I think I can work with this - and it supports layering!

The yarn gives this dress wonderful drape, as you can see in the photo above, and the cotton makes it heavy enough to actually hang down rather than float about me, which I sometimes get when working with light wool. I was afraid that I was playing yarn chicken throughout - the original plan was actually to introduce another yarn to colourblock the straps/back because I thought I might not have enough yarn - until I realized that the first skein of yarn (out of two) took me well past half of the entire dress. It would probably have worked out just about perfectly if I had skipped the body decreases and just knit a straight tube up until the armholes, but alas. I'm pretty happy with how the back turned out, though! It's a bit of a hassle in terms of making it work with a bra, but isn't it always? And the straps going all the way from the front to the back was a nice touch, which I probably wouldn't have done normally, so I'm glad I took a look at the Country Garden Top pattern (if only just to double check that what I thought was feather and fan lace was actually feather and fan lace).

Not as sheer as I'd feared, either!

The entirety of the pattern I drafted was worked out on the yarn label, so there isn't much to go off of, and I'm not sure I really want to write this one out at all, as I mentioned above. We'll see if I ever do it, but in case you're interested in knitting this up yourself, here's the recipe:
  • It's an A-line dress, knit bottom-up.
  • CO a multiple of 18 sts for the bottom hem (the feather and fan pattern is an 18 st repeat)
    • I cast on 40", but I would maybe suggest even 50~56" if you want to do the body decreases throughout to get a nicer silhouette
  • If you want the A-line like I did, decrease slowly up to the armholes
    • You don't want to decrease down to your bust measurement though! You're going to be doing *k1, k2tog* or some variation thereof (I think just k2tog to end, or even *k1, k3tog* might be better), so make the calculations as to how many stitches you need before starting out the armhole shaping
    • Keep in mind also that you'll be binding off about 1" each side of both front & back pieces! Those you don't need to account for in terms of the decrease row.
    • I also think it might be better if we keep the decreases to the front bib (but do it all along the back), but that's up to you. The ribbing of the strap does help ease the look.
  • Armhole decreases/shaping (do this in reasonably few rows, because you want the pleats/gathers to be right over your bust - I decreased one stitch/side, every row, 3x)
  • Gathers row: whatever variation of this you decide on, just do it across to get to the measurement you need to cover your front
    • Keep in mind that the ribbed straps will pull in a bit, so keep a few stitches (or just don't do the decreases as heavily) in the strap area to accommodate for this
      • I forgot to do this, personally, and remedied it by pu&k around the outer edge of the armhole, which worked
  • Mark off however large you want the front bib to be and start feather & fan lace, placing markers to mark off where the ribbing starts/ends and where to work the lace
    • Work even until high enough for you, then BO all feather & fan lace part
  • Work straps individually until it goes around to the back, minus however high you want the back neck to be.
    • I worked the back piece armhole shaping and all that just past the gathers row so it was ready for grafting while I was here, also. Just use another skein or use the other end of the ball of yarn you've got.
  • Long-tail CO back neck stitches using scrap yarn and knit across to join both straps to main body piece once more.
    • Work in rib until long enough to reach back piece.
  • Graft together using kitchener stitch. I'm not sure if it's necessary, but I made sure to adjust the instructions for whenever I saw that it was a purl stitch next rather than a knit stitch (because one side is ribbing), to make it a smoother transition. I know this is something that makes the work look better if both sides are ribbing/not stockinette, but I'm sure it would have blended in just fine even if you just do the regular ol' kitchener.
  • If you would like to add some stability to your straps, PU&K around outer armhole (I didn't even count, but I did just pick up every edge stitch I saw - I slipped first stitch of every strap row, so you might actually want to do a different pickup rate)
    • I didn't do that for the inside, because I liked how it looked better without, but feel free to do whatever!

I know you're thinking there's no way I could possibly have written all this onto one yarn label, but that's because I was making stuff up on the fly as well. It's mostly just the calculations, so it really does fit on just a few lines!

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


on a reindeer skin
That's (probably) what you think it is, yes.

This is going to be real quick. Just stuff I bought in Iceland (the irony being that both of the above items are from Finland). Yes, I added to my stash. No, I didn't take any digital photos, so photos of Iceland will have to wait until all the film has been processed and printed.

Eskimo wool blanket
In the colour Pistachio, even though I've never met a pistachio quite this acid yellow-green.

This lovely blanket came from a souvenir gift shop, but the moment I saw the colour, I couldn't quite bring myself to leave it behind. (Though I did leave it for a day before going back. It helped that I had it in my mind that it was double the price it actually was, so when we did go back (to get postcards, but also take a second look), I snatched it up immediately.) I've been noticing that I'm quite attracted to this type of colour, as you might have gleaned already from what yarn I'm attracted to and this dress I knit. The blanket itself is also just dreamy - look at that weave pattern! It's not just a diamond grid, and that slight off-centering just makes the blanket - and seeing as I got a lot of use out of an older large doubleweave red-black blanket/scarf that I dug out of storage earlier this year, I was able to justify it to myself. I'm sure this pistachio blanket is going to get a lot of use later on, once autumn comes back around.

I'm not sure what Sisustus & Sina mean, but I had a lot more luck googling Reeta Ek, the designer. This comes from her Lapuan & Kankurit SS/2016 collection, and just looking at her other collections, I really like her aesthetic! There's something about this blanket (and the collection itself) that leaves me beyond confused though: which part of this is "Eskimo"? Because that's what the blanket is called both in print (on the back side of the tag; I didn't notice until after I got home and looked at the full card) as well as on her site, where it says "Eskimo & Mehiläispesä (beehive)". Beehive makes sense, so I'm wondering if this is the result of some unfortunate naming due to an unfamiliarity with the English language (it also translates in English under materials, "100% wool, pistachios", and I'm not sure if it's 100% pistachios or 100% wool, or... both?) and the offensive connotations of the term "Eskimo" (though a quick search on Google tells you it's offensive right at the very top, so in which case I'd suggest simply doing some research), or if there's something I'm not quite understanding here about what Ek is trying to say about either the blanket or the collection. I mean, I still love the blanket itself - just uggggghhhhhh. I feel as though the blanket just got a bit heavier.

Onto a lighter subject, though: yarn. (Though perhaps not so light considering how much of it I have?)

Grenadine Einband for a lace dress I saw in the Handknitting Association Store

There was really no way I could've made it out of Iceland without bringing some yarn with me (despite not yet having used the yarn my brother brought back last time), so here's some more Einband. The dusty rose (Grenadine) above is going to become something akin to Miðja, which I think I saw a sample of in-store. There were two other dresses of similar style, cinched with ribbing at the waist and covered otherwise in allover lace, that I quite liked. I think there's actually too much yarn here, since the dress looked a bit big on me - I didn't try it on - but better safe than sorry, right? I also don't have the pattern, so I think I'm just going to find a lace I like and improvise. As I do.

The below three are going to be used for a sweater. Hopefully I've got enough of the body colour, but even if I don't, I'm sure I'll be able to make do with some of the other Einband I've got in my stash.

Main colour.

Contrast/accent colours.

You might notice I haven't really talked about what the wool blanket is sitting on, in the first photo. It's a reindeer skin. I've been eyeing a reindeer skin for a while from the Shetland Tannery (as well as the lambskins, to be honest), and I did wait until the last day to purchase one from Iceland, because we're not really a fur or leather family, and what am I going to do with a reindeer skin? In the end, I couldn't get it off my mind and I caved - especially after hearing one of our tour guides say that the lambskins in Iceland all come from lambs that are used in the meat industry, and that Iceland tries to use as much of the animal as it can, though this reindeer skin in particular did not come from Iceland, as I noted above; I didn't know the airport duty free stores also stocked skins, and Icelandic ones at that! It's always a gamble to wait until the airport anyway though - so now I am a happy owner of a beautiful reindeer skin! I'm still kind of drooling at the Shetland Tannery lambskins though, so if I ever make a trip to Shetland, I might still end up bringing home a sheep, or as much of one as I'll most likely ever own.