Yarn Along

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Somehow we are back round to the first Wednesday in the month again.  Although I’m a bit shocked by how fast time seems to be passing I am pleased to be in September, it is definitely one of my favourite months of the year and I am really relishing the chill that’s now in the morning air here in Yorkshire.  I am also excited to see boots, tights and lovely knitwear in my very near future.

On my needles at the moment is a Magpie Tendency jumper in Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply.  I saw this jumper on Instagram knitted by the lovely HazySummers and as well as loving the look of the garment I was intrigued by the idea of getting a jumper to fit a larger body from just two skeins of yarn.  So I’m having a go!

I’m loving the construction which is like nothing I’ve seen before and am also thrilled with the texture and drape that’s coming from knitting this 4 ply yarn on much bigger needles than usual.

I’m enjoying the physical feel of this book, The Wicked Cometh, which I borrowed from the library.  The cover has a tactile, fabric cover which is so unusual in modern books nowadays, they all tend to be shiny and smooth, I can’t stop stroking it!  The story inside is less compelling to me at the moment. It is well written and atmospheric but I’m yet to invest in the characters.  Hopefully that will change as I progress.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.

Yarn Along

On my needles this first Wednesday of the month is my first attempt at knitting a garment using linen yarn.

The pattern is Lena by Carrie Bostick Hoge and is a loose fitting sleeveless tee. It is primarily stocking stitch with some panels of garter stitch for interest so lots of easy tv knitting which is working well for me.

It feels like I’ve been working on this forever but it’s actually only been a month and I’m hopeful I’ll have it ready to wear before the weather becomes too chilly for bare arms.

I’m using DMC Natura Linen yarn in shade 8 which is a pretty green colour which reminds me of sea glass. When researching yarn I read a lot about linen not being much fun to handle but I’m finding this quite gentle on my hands. However it is quite splitty which is frustrating and it sheds fluff everywhere when I’m knitting which I’m not enjoying at all. Especially when I’m knitting in public and wearing black! I doubt I’d choose this yarn again but it was very affordable.

The book is fantastic. It is character driven and following 3 women with intersecting lives and very different circumstances. And it has such a beautiful cover which shouldn’t matter but is always lovely.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.

Yarn Along

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At about 9pm yesterday I finished knitting a pair of socks (Twist and Turn by Clare Devine from the 2018 The Knitting Goddess Sock Club), I’ll blog them soon.  Shortly after midnight I finished reading my book.  And so I find myself sitting here, on Yarn Along day, with empty needles and no book on the go!

The book choice is easy to make, I’m going to read The Other Americans by Laila Lalami because its top of my library pile.  I can’t remember why I added it to my library reserve list anymore, I prefer to go into books entirely blind without knowing anything at all about them, but I suspect I saw that it was garnering positive press somewhere.

The knitting on the other hand is a whole different struggle!  The sensible part of me feels that I should definitely cast on the final pair of socks from last year’s Sock Club and see if I can get them done before we are halfway through this year.  I’ve even balled the yarn, it’s the lovely sea green on the far right of the photograph and is a blend of Blue Faced Leicester and Nylon.  I’ve also printed the pattern, Short and Sweet by Clare Devine, but I’ve knit a lot of socks recently and quite fancy a change.

The balled blue at the bottom of the image has been in my stash since I first started knitting and visited Yarndale for my first time way back in 2015.  I started something with it years ago but it was above my skill level and ended up unwound.  I really should make something with this yarn but its not speaking to me.

The other yarn in the photo, the blue with rainbow flash dyed by Arwen Makes; the navy and pink toned variegated a souvenir from my trip to Cambridge in 2016 and dyed by Sparkleduck; and the purple and contrast which is from Malabrigo and I think is desperate to be a Toph hat by Woolly Wormhead; all these yarns jumped off the shelf and in to my arms when I asked myself what should I knit next.

The answer, I still don’t know! I also want to learn brioche but I suspect none of these yarns are what I’d use to try out a new skill.  What a fabulous, first world problem to have, to be so spoiled for choice.  Please wish me luck as I try to figure it out!

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.

Yarn Along

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Not a very photogenic book for this month’s yarn along, in fact if I’m perfectly honest, the art on this book cover makes me feel uncomfortable and creeped out!  Luckily the socks are pretty enough to draw the eye away from the book.

The sock yarn may look familiar if you are a regular here as its the same self striping dyed by the amazing Fab Funky Fibres and contrasting grey that I used on my Rainbow Zig Zig Socks.

The scales tell me that I have enough left over for a pair of non-matching socks with contrast cuffs, heels and toes but I have to say I’m a bit concerned about the size of my yarn balls regardless of the reassuring maths, I suppose only time will tell.  I’m using my absolute favourite, go to, basic sock pattern from the fabulous Christine at Winwick Mum although this is my first time with the contrasting colours.

I am reading Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan for challenge number 2 – an alternate history novel from Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.  That and because its a new book by Ian McEwan and I’ve enjoyed everything I read of his in the past.

The book is set in 1980s Britain but not the 80s Britain I grew up in.  This one is far more technologically advanced and the protagonist has just purchased a lifelike humanoid robot.  So far I’m interested in how this novel is going to play out,  I’m loving the writing but also I don’t find myself reaching for it that often and so it has yet to fully hold my attention.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on this month.

Yarn Along

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Not much colour in my contribution to this month’s Yarn Along!  On my needles are what feels like acres and acres of stockinette in grey which will hopefully, should the stars align correctly, may, one day, become my first knitted jumper.

Although it is not especially exciting to look at I really enjoy just knitting round and round without much thought.  I love to knit in the evenings to keep my hands busy while I watch television and while I do like more of a challenge occasionally, the repetition of just knitting every stitch without any counting or thought is relaxing to the point of meditative.  The yarn is Cascade Ecological in Antique, a bulky 100% wool.

I am finding the book very difficult to put down.  I don’t read a lot of non-fiction as I prefer my journey in to books to be one of escapism from the real world but Hallie Rubenhold manages to spin meticulously researched facts into a spellbinding narrative and I’m hooked.  It is also an important tale to be told.  The man who committed a horrific crime spree over 100 years ago gained infamy and notoriety while these women were consigned to being “just prostitutes” in the annals of history.  Of course they were nothing of the sort.  They were human beings, complex people with real and detailed lives and their stories should not be forgotten nor simplified.  I would definitely recommend the book as well worth a read.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on

Yarn Along

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I know February is short but I’m still really surprised to find that a whole month has passed and we are back to Yarn Along again.

I will tell the full tale of these socks when they are finished but it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride with sock number one, the one featured in last month’s Yarn Along, not fitting on my foot.  So the socks pictured today are numbers two and three and are hopefully heading towards me having a wearable pair very soon.

The pattern is Rainbow Zig Zag by Winwick Mum from the book More Super Socks and the self striping yarn is a 28 coloured rainbow called The Big One dyed by Fab Funky Fibres.

I mentioned last month that I was reading my way through the Tournament of Books contenders (it starts today by the way which I am very excited about!) and one of those was So Lucky by Nicola Griffith.  I found myself deeply moved by the passion with which she wrote that book and keen to try something else of hers.  Hild is very different.  Where So Lucky is contemporary fiction Hild is set in the seventh century but both feature strong female protagonists and I really enjoy Griffith’s story telling.

I am also more pleased than I probably should be with the serendipitous way that my yarn ball is matching the front cover!

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.

Yarn Along

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It has been a long time since I joined the Yarn Along but I intend to blog a lot more this year than I did last and having a monthly prompt and link up  to join seems like a great way to make that happen!

On my needles today is my first sock of 2019 which is also my first colourwork sock ever.  It’s a pattern called Rainbow Zig Zag by Winwick Mum and is from her lovely book More Super Socks which I bought and had signed by Christine Perry at Yarndale last year.  I am very excited to watch the ball of self striping yarn reveal itself as the sock progresses.  It was dyed by Fab Funky Fibres and is called The Big One, a massive rainbow containing 28 colours, I can’t wait to see them all.

The book is a part of my efforts to read every book featuring in Tournament of Books 2019.  It is well worth clicking the link to check out the tournament but to simply describe it is an event, run in March each year, giving an opportunity for book fans to have big discussion about books, sounds ideal!  It has been on the periphery of my vision for a few years now but this is the first year I have committed to wanting to join in.  There are 18 books on the shortlist and I have already finished 8 with another one on my audible current listen, one on my kindle and this one, The Overstory, my current physical book.  I’m really hopeful I’m on track to follow and contribute to the discussion when the tournament begins.

As for the Overstory, I am loving the writing and the way that there are multiple stories all held together by a love of trees.  I try not read reviews before I read a book but I did see something about the structure of this novel being unconventional and I’m  looking forward to see how that works as I get further through.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.

Read Harder Challenge 2017

I became aware of Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge in the last few days of last year and thought it sounded like a great way to structure and broaden my reading over this year.

I am very excited to say I finished my last book on Sunday meaning that I have completed the 24 challenges within the first third of the year.  This is a real surprise to me, I thought it would take much longer but I think the incentive of ticking a box on a list (I love ticking boxes!) really spurred me on.

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I have posted about the books I have been reading both here in my Yarn Along posts and also over on Instagram but it feels like a list like this deserves a full post itself and so here it is!

1. Read a book about sports – The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I put this one off for ages.  I am not a sports fan.  Upon googling around this is the most recommended book about sports out there and I suppose I can see why, it is well written and looks at male relationships in a way that is not common in my reading.  But I really think that knowing something, anything, about baseball or American college sports beforehand would have helped and I suspect that this book does not smoothly transition across the Atlantic

2. Read a debut novel – Physics of The Dead by Luke Smitherd.  I really enjoyed this novel.  Its hard to describe it without spoilers but it tackles some existential questions about what happens after we die and centres around the relationship between two characters.

3. Read a book about books – Ex Libris.  Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman.  I love this book so much.  It is a series of essays about books that had me nodding along in agreement, laughing out loud and desperate to discuss the themes with other book fans.  An absolute highlight which it is highly unlikely I would have picked up  without this challenge.

4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author – The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara.  I originally earmarked this book for challenge 8, a travel memoir but decided to shelve it here instead.  This is one of those iconic books which I am pleased I read but without especially enjoying the experience.  I had hoped for more insight into the mind of Guevara but it really is just a chronicle of his journey around South America.


5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative – The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.  This was a sweet story about a pair of teenagers falling for each other in the space of one day.  Although it does technically fit the brief with one of the characters facing deportation for being an illegal immigrant it is a love story at it’s heart rather than a tale about immigration.

6. Read an all-ages comic – Princeless Vol. 1. Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley. Comics were one of the genres covered by this challenge that I don’t usually read.  I chose this one for it’s feminist credentials, it is about a Princess who is perfectly capable of saving herself.  I also thought as an all ages comic it would be a good one to share with my children.  Sadly it didn’t convert me to comics, I find it hard to follow the narrative in this format and don’t appreciate the art as much as it deserves.

7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950 – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. So much choice for this category and squarely within my comfort zone.  As I have somehow managed to reach my mid thirties without reading an Agatha Christie novel I decided to remedy this oversight.  I loved this book! What a mystery and given my lack of experience I tried to solve it as I went and obviously didn’t see the ending coming!

8. Read a travel memoir – Dear Bill Bryson: Footnotes from a Small Island by Ben Aitken. I am at a loss to explain what I was thinking when I chose this book.  The obvious choice would be Bill Bryson himself but I think I had been stung by The Motorcycle Diaries and so was hoping for a travel memoir that wasn’t quite a travel memoir.  I found this book to be meh.  It wasn’t bad, nor was it good.  It was an exercise in box ticking.


9. Read a book you’ve read before – The Little House by Philippa Gregory.  This was one of the later challenges I tackled and I was quite grumpy about it.  I hold to the philosophy of so many books, so little time and so to reread never feels worthwhile.  But upon reflection and with the help of wise people on the internet I realised that this was a valuable challenge in reading a book at a different life stage to the first time around and this book was perfect for that.  The first time I read The Little House I was young, childless and deeply moved but it was a whole different kettle of fish now that I am a mother.  This distress of the main character changed from palpable on my first reading to personal the second time around.  This book is brilliant but I found it pretty difficult now I am more able to identify with it.  I’m so pleased this challenge pushed me to re-read.

10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location – God’s Own Country by Ross Raisin.  If I’m totally honest I chose this book because it looked to be the most Yorkshire book I could find planting it firmly within 100 miles of home.  It was so very Yorkshire, filled with local dialect and beautifully painted, familiar landscapes but what made it powerful was the portrayal of the main character. I hated myself for rooting for him at some points but root I did because he told his story with such passion that I became emotionally involved.  This book will stay with me for a long time.

11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location – Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.  This book is set in Mexico City, 5457 miles away from my bit of North Yorkshire.  I loved the idea of this book, a coming of age story where music is used as magic and I see from Goodreads that I rated it 4 stars but I don’t actually remember that much about it now so it perhaps wasn’t as good as it could have been.

12.Read a fantasy novel – The Darkest Part of The Forest by Holly Black.  This was delightfully different.  A faery story in so many senses of the word with a boy with pointed ears sleeping in a glass coffin in the woods.  Where this book differs from other faery stories is that it is set in modern times and the local teenagers take selfies with the boy in the coffin.  I loved this.


13. Read a nonfiction book about technology – Longitude The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel.  This was another category I was less than enthusiastic as I find non-fiction a struggle.  This book however was brilliant.  Dava Sobel is an excellent storyteller and managed to tell the true story of the longitude problem in an engaging way that had me gripped.  Another I would not have picked up without Read Harder.

14. Read a book about war – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  I had heard that Persepolis was THE graphic novel to convert those who think they don’t like graphic novels and it certainly worked for me.  Perhaps it was the clean simplicity of the drawings, or the clarity of the storytelling but I now think this is a must read and am recommending it all over the shop.

15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+ – Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.  I had such high hopes heading into this book but think I am perhaps to old and/or jaded to love it.  It is a nice coming of age story about discovering ones true self but it failed to hit me in the feels as much as I had longed for.  I am usually a fan of well written Young Adult fiction so don’t feel it is a genre issue, it is just so sad to be disappointed by a book.

16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country – Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence.  I didn’t find it easy to find a book for this category.  The majority of the lists of banned books centre on the USA, the list of books banned in the UK was shorter and I had read some from it already.  I settled on this as it is probably the definitive banned book.  I found it pretty slow going and it is probably the book I was most pleased to be done with of the two dozen.


17. Read a classic by an author of colour – Kindred by Octavia E. Butler.  So deserving of the title “classic” this book was absolutely fabulous.  I was gripped from start to finish and stayed up well past my bedtime to finish this in two days.  I found some synopses of this book to contain spoilers that annoyed me so will say no more other than read this book.

18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead – Storm by Eric Jerome Dickey.  After being less than crazy about the other comic challenge I decided to save my pennies on this one and choose from the library.  My small library in rural Yorkshire has one revolving stand of comics and so I thought it would be straightforward to choose one.  This was the only superhero comic there with a female lead, which I suppose is the point of the challenge! It did not win me over to comics.

19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey – Mullumbimby by Melissa Lucashenko.  This book, about indigenous Australians and Native Title was a subject about which I knew nothing prior to reading.  It  was very well written and I felt totally swept up in the book.

20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel – Maurice by E. M. Forster.  Oh this is so beautiful.  I love this book.  Another one everyone should read.  And another one I probably wouldn’t have chosen without this challenge.  I spent a long time rejecting contemporary romances on the basis of schmaltzy blurbs or Mills & Boonesque covers before a friend suggested Maurice and I am so pleased she did.


21. Read a book published by a micropress – The Secret to Not Drowning by Colette Snowden.  Published by the tiny, local ish Bluemoose Books.  A quietly told portrait of domestic abuse.  Brilliantly written, understated and a great read.

22. Read a collection of stories by a woman – There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband and he Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya.  Yet again  I don’t think it likely I would have read this book were it not for Read Harder and my life would be so much the poorer for not having Petrushevskaya in it.  I definitely intend to read more by this stunning author.  The title gives a clue to the blunt, matter of fact style of writing which gives these bleak tales all the more punch.  The skill it must take to cram so much emotion into so few words is astonishing.

23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love – Anxiety of Words by Ch’oe Sung-ja, Kim Hyesoon, Yi Yon-ju.  This is a great collection of poetry.  Challenging in a good way, some I didn’t really get but others that really spoke to me.  And another book I would not have chosen myself.

24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of colour – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi.  Epic is the very best word to sum up this book.  Spanning several generations in a format of one chapter per descendant which worked brilliantly.  I chose this for my book club and some members did not like such a short period of time being given to each character but I loved to follow the threads throughout the family.  An excellent read.

 

Writing these brief summaries of each book has been a useful exercise for me, remembering those which I have loved and those which have had less of an impact.  I have found the experience of choosing from these categories to be a lot of fun and it has certainly caused me to pick up some books that would have otherwise not graced my shelves.  I have definitely Read Harder and am very much looking forward to next year’s challenge!

Yarn Along?

“Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading and I love sharing my projects and current reads here.”

These are the words the lovely Ginny at Small Things used to open her blog post each Wednesday for over 6 years before inviting people to also share their current makes and reads, an invitation I readily accepted when I first started blogging and was keen to find other people with similar interests to me.  I have loved joining in with the Yarn Along and was sad to hear that Ginny had decided to stop hosting.

So what now?  I’m not sure!  Where Ginny is hoping to find more spontaneity in her blogging I love having the structure of knowing that certain days are for certain subjects and worry that without them the frequency of posts may dwindle and content be limited only to finished objects.  So maybe I’ll move to Work in Progress Wednesdays, or perhaps a weekly roundup on a Friday?  I will be continuing with the Weekly Photo Challenge on a Tuesday so am drawn to something later in the week.  Or I might just continue Yarning Along but without the link up.  I definitely intend to continue Yarn Along on my Instagram so it perhaps doesn’t warrant duplication.  Decisions decisions!

But for now, while I consider next steps, here is this week’s Yarn Along.

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On my kindle The Power by Naomi Alderman.  On my needles almost a full pair of Rhian socks.

I am absolutely gripped by this book.  I only started it yesterday bedtime but am struggling to put it down, only stopping last night when the kindle hit my nose when I just couldn’t hold it up any longer and sneaking every minute I can squeeze out of today.

The sock pattern is Rhian from The Sock Drawer book by Verity Castledine (available to buy here) made with West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply yarn in butterscotch and I love them so much.  Not much more work to do here until I have the pair finished and ready to gift.  Before I started this book I thought I may get them finished today but that is now looking unlikely! I am hopeful they’ll be done by the end of the week though.

Yarn Along

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On my kindle Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.  On my needles my first sock of the year.

I am knitting my first sock of the year, the delightful Rhian from The Sock Drawer book by Verity Castledine (available to buy here).  I am crazy in love with this pattern, a nice simple repeat giving deceptively complex results.  I suspect this may not be my last pair.  I am using West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply yarn in butterscotch and am aiming to gift the finished socks to my lovely motherinlaw who mercifully only has small feet thereby speeding up the process!

My reading feels like a bit of a confession to admit that I have reached my mid thirties without having read any Agatha Christie.  To further pile on the unbelievable truths, much to my husband’s incredulity I also have managed to live my life thus far without knowing whodunnit!  So no spoilers please!  I am looking forward to the mystery finally unravelling as I read.

Linking up with Ginny and the other Yarn Alongers sharing what they are reading and working on.