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.

Monday, June 26, 2017


I haven't watched the movie, and I didn't realize they were beetles. I was also unaware they went by "May beetles".
  1. Bertolt by Jacques Goldstyn
    • I forget where in my periphery this showed up, but the moment I realized this was another book about a little boy's friendship with a tree, I realized I needed to read it, especially after having been left completely torn about The Giving Tree not too long ago. Goldstyn does not disappoint. A meditation on both friendship and death and how friendship transcends death through the imaginative and heartwarming gesture of the little boy, this book is absolutely beautiful.
  2. A Streetcar Named Desire ballet
    • I'm so glad I went to the pre-show talk for this, because I didn't realize how much of it I had forgotten - no surprise, considering it's been since high school though - and what I had never really picked up on (for example, desire being something that is inescapable being signified by the streetcar, in that we are all in no more control of our own desires as we are as passengers in a streetcar). I had also completely forgotten about Stella's pregnancy, and while I'd never watched the movie before, which scene was the "Stella!" scene? I'm also blithely unaware of the mime gestures used in ballet and what they mean, so it was very helpful to have it pointed out the significance of the gesture of Blanche placing Allan's hand to her forehead when they first dance. I'm sure I would have made the connection at some point later on, especially after he has shot himself and she tries to revive the connection, revive him and undo her vitriolic rejection of him.
    • All this to say, I wanted to love this ballet very much, but for personal reasons, I couldn't. I was predisposed by situational factors, mostly, so I'll go over real quick a couple of things to give an idea of what my commentary's going to be coloured by: going in straight after work, I had forgotten my water; the subway was having power failure issues at Finch when I got there, and when it started back up again there was an incessant loud beeping noise that continued until either Sheppard or Lawrence; and I only had a cookie for dinner, during the intermission. So in that state, going into the second act and listening to a slew of cacophony with an eerie slant of classical thrown into the mix, I was quite unable to rouse myself to absorption in the ballet. That being said, I completely understand how the music chosen for both the first and second acts complemented the events in each scene, both physical/literal as well as internal. I loved the death scene, the repeated deaths, and the recurring dance where Blanche is lifted by her partner, happening throughout the ballet and becoming more suspect each time.
    • I'm pretty sure I made the connection back when we were studying A Streetcar Named Desire, but I know for sure we didn't actually play the song in class nor discuss lyrics to It's Only a Paper Moon. I remember searching up the song, and I can only hope I wasn't so daft as to not realize what it meant in the context of the play. It remains one of my favourite songs to this day, and I think its incorporation within the ballet, interrupting Blanche's memories incessantly, was quite a nice touch. There was something about it that was both lonely and accusative, and it captured Blanche's state quite well. Her desires and the consequences to the actions she takes to either procure what she desires or to reject them is captured in her inability to run from the reality of what has happened, even - or perhaps especially so - in her memories.
  3. Ice Diaries: An Antarctic Memoir by Jean McNeil
    • This was more of a work-related reading and something I most likely would not have picked up on my own, by dint of the fact it is filed under Biography & Memoir. Not that I veer far away from it and avoid them at all costs, so much as I don't browse there, generally.
    • I cannot help but think that this memoir could plausibly have taken place anywhere; not in the sense that anywhere would have done, so much as it is much less a book that transports you where the author has gone, and one that details the author's thoughts and revelations, her anxieties at every turn and how they are related to her past. There is not a single instance where I am carried away entirely by the text to Antarctica, and I find myself disappointed. I looked forward to the blocks within the book, between her diary entries and her narrative, the separate thread - her past - was much more intriguing to me. I know it all ties together, and even at the very beginning McNeil states that the characters featured are of necessity characters and not people, despite their having basis in reality - to an extent, I feel as though any one person's interpretation of another, either through observation or by transcribing them into words, already renders the one they have created in their mind, on the page, a separate existence from the person they are based upon - but for myself personally, I would have preferred either a full narration, a novel (which I believe actually does exist, so perhaps I should have looked there instead), or a diary. McNeil does blend them all quite well, in a cohesive manner, and I enjoyed the way she achieved this, but there is a self-consciousness there - one that is part and parcel of the category of memoir, I suppose - that made me think it no memoir, rather a guarded telling of a story, threaded together from elements of McNeil's life.
    • While McNeil writes in a beautiful prose, I kept getting this nagging sense of pretense throughout precisely because of her style. There are a family of adjectives that keeps popping up in her descriptions at some point, along the lines of glutinous and glaucous, and while I can appreciate there being a glutinous quality to the air, the atmosphere, the very experience of being on base in the Antarctic, there appeared to be some pattern of choosing her adjectives such that they conjured the feeling of starting with a G, if that makes sense. I realize in terms of meaning, the words don't have any relation, but there is a physicality in reading the words that groups them together in some stringy, sticky mass, impossible to disentangle from the text. Something about the sheer quantity of words that McNeil chooses that fall into some nebulous category of "not quite often observed in the vernacular from my own experience of it, apart from the literary crowd perhaps" strikes me as another layer of defense against what I associate to be the revealing nature of memoir: it is as though we see her thoughts, her connections, and the events she experiences only through layer upon layer of ice, in all their colours and brilliances. I suppose this is what makes me feel as though I am reading not so much a memoir as a novel. It is less of a revealing, a flensing, as McNeil herself might put it, than a meditation on her life as a collage. Which is fair; it is a memoir. It's simply not what I expected, and when I keep reading on, trying to transport myself to the Antarctic or the Arctic, wherever it is McNeil goes, I realize I am doing it using brute force, and my sheer force of will is not enough. I am instead transported into McNeil's thoughts, and the general sense of her thoughts remains the same throughout, essentially unchanged and unaffected (despite what it may seem, and against what is written).
  4. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
    • I like the rundown before the novel of places you might like to enjoy a leisurely read. I wonder if Colgan does this for every novel she writes? Another one of the armchair travel (as Ice Diaries above) reads for work. Next on this list is A Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks. See a pattern here? Sheep, countryside, Antarctica... isolation and a harking back to the good ol' days I never partook in (which generally means a romanticization of what it is to actually live those climes)?
    • Whenever Scotland comes up as a topic, I always refer to it as my spiritual homeland, because the one time I went for vacation, there was this feeling of belonging, or perhaps it was just a level of comfort I'm unused to, and Colgan captured that beautifully with Nina surveying the fictional town of Kirrinfief: "here, looking down on the valley, at the tiny villages full of people getting on with their own lives in their own way... Nina had the oddest sense of things she had ever experienced... she felt that she had come home" (p.41). Not that I got too many views of tiny villages, but you get the idea. The novel is peppered throughout with descriptions of the beautiful countryside, complete with festivals featuring dancing and drinks and a view of the aurora borealis, all transporting you to Kirrinfief with the beautiful imagery. The daily life is what really gets me, though, in the closeness of the entire town and how everyone gets along and looks out for each other (as Nina wryly remarks in response to her friend Surinder saying much the same as I just did: "Well, we have to... there isn't an Accident and Emergency for sixty miles" (p.216)).
    • As far as the plot is concerned, well. It's pretty lighthearted stuff. Not so much the content, I suppose, although that too, so much as the style of writing and the general tone of the novel overall. It's some light reading for your leisurely time, as Colgan herself suggests in the Message to Readers right before the story starts.
      • To be honest, I really wish that Nina became able to stand up on her own, without the romance aspect of it. "Good thing I don't talk much then"????? Really? Anyway.
  5. The Lottery and Other Short Stories by Shirley Jackson
    • Each and every single one of these short stories has an odd mundaneness to them in that they seem to be a story about just another ordinary day... until they take some weird twist, as when Jim leaves his own apartment, where he has hosted a neighbour for dinner, and he goes "back" to her room instead, leaving her and her colleague in his apartment. It's as though our notions of what constitutes the norm don't apply, and yet these stories don't exist in another dimension altogether: they have just enough of the surreal to them to strike the reader as really weird and kind of freaky, but enough similarities to our familiar world that the oddness of the story creeps in on you rather than rudely making itself known.
    • The titular story is quite disturbing, and the stoning that happens retains its savage quality despite not being written in full (to her death), precisely because of the nonchalance of that town's inhabitants throughout. Chilling, unsettling, these stories are spooky in their own right despite not really detailing anything all too out of the ordinary (save maybe in The Lottery).
  6. XXY (2007)
    • What a beautiful film! That family has such a wonderful dynamic and the support and love that the parents provide and have for Alex is palpable. The only thing is, I'm not sure whether the surgeon had to be as stubbornly unchanging as he was, in viewing Alex as a case that needed to be solved, as well as embodying most evidently the societal norms that the family moved to get away from when he talks to his son about leaving. I'm not sure that Alvaro leaves ready to face the changed dynamics between his parents and in terms of his own life, although he was able finally to talk seriously with his father. All said, all the characters developed throughout the film, and while Alex always had her own, it was great to see in the end that she chooses not to care about what others think about her being intersex and (from what I understood) going on to lay charges.
  7. The Book of Henry (2017)
    • We were supposed to go to the ROM FNL. Then we were supposed to watch Wonder Woman. And because we got the times wrong, we ended up going with the movie that had the worst rating & the most hilarious review titles instead: The Book of Henry. Here are a few of the ones that popped up immediately following a quick google search: The Book of Henry is so deliriously bad, it feels cursed (Vox), The Book of Henry Review A Unique Kind of Terrible (Vulture), and The Book of Henry is a Warped Nightmare of a Movie (The Atlantic). They're all true.
    • What is this movie even about? What's the overarching plot? Is there one? I get the feeling the director tried to fit in too many subplots and didn't end up making any cohesive and believable story (e.g. Christina goes to live with Susan? Really? Henry's not much of a genius if he shakes the instax polaroid slide, among other things). The characters aren't fleshed out, and personally, I don't think the scenes that were supposed to be tearjerkers were very successful at all. Why did the principal end up reporting Glenn? Is it because Christina started crying on stage? Or her dance conveyed the extent of her abuse? Wait. But what exactly did the abuse consist of, exactly? Was she being beaten, or sexually abused, or what? Because it's such a serious issue at hand, I think it's kind of important for this detail to be hashed out. Besides which, where are her bruises? And she doesn't grow as a character, at all.
    • And what bothered me most was probably the fact that Glenn ended up killing himself - was there no way to fix the issue without him dying? Are there situations where you really do just have to get rid of the person in order to help everyone else? What's the message I'm supposed to take away here? What's the role of that doctor????????? I thought he might be a potential love interest, but there's nothing there for him. What is he even doing there? He's not much emotional support, but he's a bit more than a nameless side character - what's the point of him being there? Ugggghhhhhhh.
  8. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
    • I was recommended this by a customer after I remarked that I had read Rotters (Daniel Kraus), and it's a pretty spot-on recommendation! If only I could do RA with the same aplomb as him for every customer, my (library) life would be pretty golden. Someone who has read Rotters will most likely enjoy The Monstrumologist, and here are just a few reasons why:
      • Father-son dynamics are very similar, in that they're dysfunctional, and it's this odd relationship that fuels the boy's maturation into a young man.
        • The protagonist starts off a boy, reliant upon his parents, before losing them (in Rotters, it's more that the father was never really a father figure, so even though his father is who he gets sent to live with, the boy did lose his parent figure) and being sent off to live with someone who fills the father figure role in an unconventional manner. Someone who's awkward but honourable and lives by rules that don't seem to match completely with the mores of whichever society they're living in.
        • It's a coming-of-age sort of plot, in short.
      • Gravedigging, death, descriptions of dead bodies. If you're into that. Lots of unusual activities taking place under the cover of the night - grave robbery, monster hunting - and a sense of those who participate being at an elevated remove from the rest of society. Elevated in that they are of the impression they are more worldly and know more about nature, or how the world works, than everyone else just living their lives completely unaware of the grave-digging battle happening underfoot, or the existence of monsters that were supposed only to live in myths.
      • Religion, specifically Christianity (or something like). In Rotters, through and through, whereas in The Monstrumologist, used a bit more sparingly and not quite permeating the text.
      • Although Rotters doesn't have a supernatural element to it, there sort of is, in the character of Boggs, and the entire situation is odd enough that you'd be willing to suspend your disbelief for the purposes of immersing yourself in the novel. With The Monstrumologist, there really are creatures of a supernatural slant, so you know what you're getting into, but it's also presented in a more matter-of-fact way, not wavering much between dream/hallucination and reliable testimony.
    • For all that, though, and while I enjoyed the overall plot, adjectives probably constituted about 80% of the text, which is really off-putting and comes across as a bit try-hard. That on its own might not be entirely too much, but coupled with the overall feel of the writing reminding me of someone trying too hard to imitate a writing style gone by of ages past, so I couldn't really get into it as much as I could Rotters. I don't know how authentic Yancey managed to be, as I haven't really made it a hobby to read 19th c. manuscripts, but it prevented me from plunging into the novel. I'm somewhat interested in whether this remains constant throughout the series (I have heard it does), but it's also off-putting enough that I'm not much looking forward to trekking through them.
      • Also, just a note: I didn't get that the monstrumologist was supposed to be handsome until Will Henry commented on it outright. This is odd.
      • Also, the doctor is a bit too flawed, in that the glimpse of humanity we get in the form of his affection towards Will Henry doesn't balance off the general asshole that he is throughout. He's supposed to be intelligent, which would to an extent justify his arrogance and the way he treats everyone else (though even then... but at least he would be more sympathetic as a whole), but he's wrong all the time. And Will Henry, being the narrator, while being critical of the doctor, doesn't have the fortitude of will to go against him outright, for the entire book. I should hope there's character growth in that department throughout the series, but as far as this particular book goes, it's not getting me emotionally vested in the characters.
  9. Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
    • For some reason or another, it appears that words - perhaps languages - have secret lives that are easily discoverable enough that we are able to find books that purport to give us the inside look at, say, pronouns, or in this case, dictionaries. Word by Word is witty and engaging Stamper is everything you could hope for in a narrator about the dictionary and how it is to work as one of the editors who writes the dictionary. Let me say that again: writes the dictionary. Stamper relates it as though it's nothing out of the ordinary when she's asked what she does and she answers that she writes dictionaries, but if you will, just think about the enormity of that phrase: writes dictionaries.
    • Stamper cracks me up at least once in almost every chapter, which is kind of a big feat (maybe less nowadays, but I still think it takes quite a bit to make me laugh out loud when reading). Witty and enlightening - it took Stamper an entire month to define "take" (do you see what I did there?), and another editor nine months to overhaul "but" - NINE MONTHS! That's a baby! - Stamper reveals the day-to-day operations of being a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. The outrage from complaints she recounts I could already imagine, and I have a lot of trouble defining words when asked to do so on the fly, so it came as no surprise that new lexicographers have to take in-house classes on how to define a word, and that it should take so much work to do so, but all of it is is still so well written and frankly hilarious at times that I could barely get myself to put the book down. Read it! Then follow Merriam-Webster on Twitter. Better yet, buy one of their dictionaries so they can continue to churn them out!
  10. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
    • Ultimately, I feel as though it ended up being much more an analysis of the relationship between Bechdel and her mother, or rather the effect her mother had on her growing up (and continues to have as an adult). To be honest, I'm not sure how to write about it, but the way the "story" jumps from one place to another to explore different episodes in her life and how they manifest themselves in her dreams was interesting, and worked well in this graphic novel; it imitated the associations made during therapy, I think, which are explicit following the dreams.
  11. Amerika by Franz Kafka (edited to completed list June 30)
    • It's an onion man, right? It's an onion. Right? (On the cover of the edition I've got, at least.)
      • Is it a representation of Karl's integrity being peeled away and lost one layer at a time?
    • I'm surprised I haven't read any Kafka until now, although I do remember trying to read The Trial during my spare in grade 12. It hooked me in from the start, but I wasn't a library user back then, despite me being an employee at another library. Even just going by Vonnegut's diagram of Kafka's stories (his plot plots are hilarious and I hold them dear), I'm all the more struck by how odd it is I hadn't picked up any of his novels prior to this. I've also tried listening to Benedict Cumberbatch's narration of The Metamorphosis at some point, but I think it's more just that audiobooks aren't quite my jam (or weren't, at any rate; it's been a while).
    • It took me a while to finish this one, mostly because I was reading it as my work breaktime novel, but I'm glad I ended up finishing it after I read The Miner by Soseki. I do think that Karl slowly loses sight of himself throughout Amerika, but at the same time, there is his naivety and industriousness that is never lost, characteristics that help define how this young man has not learned a thing from the beginning of the story to the end. Likewise, the protagonist of The Miner (I forget his name) has much of the same personality characteristics: he had a bit of a problem at home to do with a woman, was banished and went off on his journey, in much the same sort of mood as Karl (though in the beginning with much fewer prospects), and ends up basically just where he started (in terms of what he has learned from the whole experience), though now fully entrenched.
Not quite done these:
  1. The Shepherd's Life by James Rebanks
    • Another work-related read for armchair travel reading. This is actually my second time trying to read through this book, and considering the subject matter, you'd think I'd be all over that, right? I thought so too! But I'm just not getting pulled into the life of being a shepherd in Lake District. It might have something to do with the style of writing or the tone, or the way it can get a bit choppy, although there are instances of pure gold in the writing, as in Rebanks' comment about dipping the sheep into chemicals: "No one worried about such things too much back then - but basically we were dipping them in chemical agents developed to kill people in the First World War" (p.35). No comment follows as to whether they have switched to more environmentally & sheep-friendly alternatives to keep the flies away.
    • It's just surprisingly difficult to get through such a short book with such large set type. It's less like strolling through the hills & valleys and more like climbing up a cliff.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Alistair's Rose Pi Shawl
It's been a while since I've knit anything, or so it feels - anyone else noticing a pattern of all-or-nothing going on here? - but I finally got myself to start something up, starting with a skein I've been wanting to use for a couple of years now: Studioloo's lacey-loo in Roseblood. It's a lovely deep, saturated pink that reminds me of honeysuckle (even though I didn't actually know what honeysuckles looked like until I searched them up for writing this post to make sure they are what I'm being reminded of... yes. Even then, they reminded me of honeysuckle) or an overripe fruit, overlaid with a touch of honey to bring forth that almost golden glow - I say almost because there is zero that is yellow or golden to this colourway, and the illusion of a golden pink is only through the slight halo arising of its singles construction, producing the slightest of a golden aura, albeit an imaginary one. The yarn itself is soft and surprisingly strong, and I found zero knots in the entire skein, which meant I had exactly two ends to weave in at the end of all the knitting: the cast on and the bind off. So much for what I love about the yarn, and now onto the murky cons, specifically: it crocked like nothing else (except for maybe that other saturated pink, the madtosh tosh dk that I used for the chevron bomber - I'm tempted to conclude torchere has some relation to torture, that. What's with the pinks?), and subsequently, unsurprisingly, bled into the soak. I tried rubbing it vigorously against a white fabric surface after it had dried to see if it would crock again, but it didn't transfer any colour, so perhaps all the excess dye washed out in that one soak? Probably just my wishful thinking.

It blocked out spectacularly! I also can't aim my camera today.

I knew from the start I wanted to use more or less the entire skein on one project (it took 979 yards total to make this size using 3.25mm needles and laceweight yarn), so a pi shawl seemed the best bet, besides which it had been a while since the last one and I've been itching for a large project since finishing the brioche dress. (There might also have been the little issue of me not wanting to do the whole nine yards for swatching, so garments were out of the picture altogether.) And of course, having such a saturated pink in a colourway called Roseblood, of all things, I figured I should go all in or nothing and look for something flowery in design. Alistair's Rose Pi Shawl seemed (and I think did turn out to be) a pretty perfect fit, so I went for it. Now, the design's lovely and very easy to follow - I think everything's pretty self-explanatory upon seeing the charts, especially if you understand the mechanics of a pi shawl.

Just to see the edging, which I ended up pinning while it blocked.

However. And this is a very stressed however. If you follow the instructions to the letter, your charts will not match up. They will not be centered. It's not by much - one stitch, and what's one stitch in the grand scheme of things? Can you tell I only found out after the first chart? Can you also tell I goofed, twice!, and tried to fix one of them? No? Good. - but if you, like me, are the type to be bothered (but apparently not bothered enough to rip back after discovering that yes, I would have to rip back an entire chart or two) by this one stitch off-centered design, then you just need to insert these lines into the pattern as you work your way through:

  1. Before working Chart 2, after working the yo & K rounds: sl first stitch of round so it becomes the last stitch of round
  2. Before working Chart 3, after working the yo & K rounds: sl first stitch of round so it becomes the last stitch of round
  3. Before working Chart 3B: sl first stitch so it becomes last
  4. Before Chart 4: sl last stitch of round so it becomes the first stitch of the round
I believe that's all. I'm pretty sure the direction of slipping stitches I've provided here is correct, but just pay attention to the numbers (count how many stitches until the center of the chart below, and make corresponding changes to current chart). I made the mistake of not looking through everyone else's projects before starting, also, so although a number of others have made a note of this already, I failed to see it until I encountered it myself.

Perfect size for doubling up as a crescent shawl

The original plan was to keep it for myself, but as with all the best laid plans, this is going to become a gift. My parents mentioned my cousin very briefly while I was knitting this and I haven't been able to get it out of my head thereafter that this shawl is to be hers. Not that I know her very well, unfortunately, but I do think it would look lovely on her, from the couple of times I've seen her over the years. (I'll have to make especial mention of possible transfer of colour though. That's actually quite worrisome.)

I suppose a pi shawl for myself will just have to wait till the next shawl itch comes around.