Booking Through Thursday: Rereading

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This week's questions were suggested by me. Thanks, Laura!

  1. Do you ever reread your books?
    Given that I asked these questions at least partially in hopes of confirming that I’m not such an odd duck in obsessively reading books over and over again, well, you have your answer.

  2. If so, which ones? If not, why not?
    Rereading a beloved book is like coming home. At least that's how I feel when I pick up a familar text and the words resettled themselves in my head. Books containing worlds or stories that I loved inhabiting the first time around get picked up again and again. It would be quite tedious to cite all the books that I reread but here is a sampling from a quick scan of my bookshelves.

  3. Do you read the books the whole way through or pick through for favorite scenes?
    It depends on both my mood and the book. In terms of mood, sometimes I feel like rereading a text from head to tail, in order. Sometimes though, a particular line or scene will suddenly crop up in my thoughts and nothing will do until I’ve revisited it in the book. In terms of the book, there are those books that contain scenes I find unpleasant to revisit, usually because they are emotionally uncomfortable (yes, I do get rather emotionally involved in my reading), and I will often skip these scenes on a rereading.

  4. What qualifies a book for the reread pile?
    I guess my answer to question 2 answers this question as well. Not all the books I enjoy reading the first time get reread. There are special ones that render me insensible to the world while reading and send my imagination racing after I am finished. These are the books that I reread.


You know you really miss knitting when...

...even tinking seems like fun. Today my stupid (for lack of a better word) arm felt a bit better, and I was so desperate to do something, anything, with yarn that the idea of doing some of the tinking on Icarus has imminent appeal. Happily, I managed to get through two rows before the nerve protested. Hurrah!
Since I don’t want to bore you with another picture of the (now two rows shorter) blueish lump of a shawl-in-progress, I’ll show you two of my somewhat recent yarn acquisitions instead.

Usually, I’m not a big fan of yellow but these particular blends of citrusy and woodsy color really appealed to me. Both skeins are hand-painted and come from Black Bunny Fibers. Carol does a beautiful job of dyeing the yarn...the colors are wonderfully deep and complex. The top skein is DK weight 100% Blue-Faced Leicester in October Oak Tree

and the bottom skein is fingerling weight superwash sock yarn in Butternut (actually a bit oranger in real life).

Even after having these for a month, I’m still so enthralled by the colors that I have yet to think about what I want to make with the yarn. I had planned on socks for the sock-weight (original, I know) but now that I have the skein in hand, it seems entirely too pretty and well, cheery, to be relegated to being hidden by shoes. I'm almost tempted to keep both around in the skein as decorative objects but that's hardly in the spirit of the practical nature of knitting, is it?


Now back to our regularly scheduled summer weather

No, no, don’t dust off your monitor --- it’s summer in San Francisco. After a brief run of abnormally sunny and warm (even bordering on positively hot) weather, the true summer weather has finally asserted itself. Starting around noon, a blanket of fog rises from the ocean and gradually creeps over the city. By the time I took this picture in the early evening, the fog had enveloped the entire neighborhood in misty droplets. It’s hard to believe that a few days ago at this time, the sun would still have been shining.
Now that the weather has gotten properly chilly for maximal knitting urge induction, my body has decided to throw me a curve ball. A while back, pre-knitting, I pinched the ulnar nerve in my arm after moving something heavy. This meant that whenever I kept my arm bent for an extended period of time, it started to hurt and my hand started to go numb. Fortunately, this all went away in time as the inflammation went down and the nerve healed. All was well, I thought, until last night when, for no particular reason that I can discern, the same pain and numbing tingling started creeping up my arm as I worked on Pomatomus. I stopped, I stretched, I massaged, but all to no avail. The annoying whinges of pain are still there today so I’m going to have to lay off knitting for a few days and hope it goes away. Alas…


Saturday Blues

Blue knitting and blue emotions both, that is.
Today found me trying to pick up an order of yarn at the post office and finding out, to my dismay, that the package had been prematurely sent back. Somehow, all of the post office employees I spoke with there seemed to be aware that that an international package should be held for at least a month before it is returned except the unknown person who processed my package for return. Now my little bag of Jaggerspun Zephyr and Lorna’s Laces is somewhere in limbo between Toronto and San Francisco and all I have is a phone number of some amorphous department to contact. After spending much time explaining the problem to people on the other end of that number, I was directed to call back tomorrow. Apparently, two different USPS departments have the same phone number but work in shifts: those dealing with outgoing mail from 8:30 to 5 and those dealing with incoming mail thereafter. It’s all starting to feel a bit surreal.
After my failed attempt to resolve the USPS mess, I worked a bit on my Icarus shawl to calm down. During my trip, I got through three of the four Chart 1 repeats that precede the interesting border charts. So, I was pretty eager to start finishing that last mindless knit and yarn-over repeat. Well, turns out the repeat wasn’t quite so mindless after all since I managed to make an unfudgeable error and didn't notice until four rows later. Four very long rows later. What is there to do then but start tinking away? While I was hoping to show a happy picture of blue Icarus all set for Chart 2, here is instead an extra blue Icarus mid-tink.

Maybe Sunday will bring about a color-change.


Catching up

Being in a frantic tizzy before leaving for Portland meant that I barely had time to snap a few photos of my SP8 package before I had to run off. So, here is finally a post devoted to wonderful package and properly thanking my SP.
She sent a lovely color-coordinated box of goodies...everything in beautiful shades of blue for June. I've already give you a peek at the absolutely gorgeous needle roll she made me but here it is again in its full glory.

Everything about the roll, the scrolling dragons and flower motif, the gloriously silky interior, the black-ribbon tie capped with beads, the flawless construction (I'm in awe of my SP's ability to sew such slippery fabrics perfectly), radiates beauty and elegance. I keep feeling like I should be carrying it to a soiree instead of using it as a home for my needles.
Besides the needle roll, there were two skeins of Cascade 220, one in a lovely heathery blue-teal and the other in a yummy soft blue.

And, tucked away inside the package were also two sets of needles. One is a set of ever handy Clover bamboo DPNs. The other is a super fun pair of transparent single points with a spiral of white set down the center...like those forever twirling outdoor decorative ornaments. I think they are the perfect size too for the scarf I plan to make for Mom from the Blue Moon boucle. Here's a shot of everything.

I'm certainly one lucky girl. Thank you, SP!


Booking Through Thursday: Abridge it?

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Today’s questions were suggested by Xine.

  1. Are abridgements a good introduction to long, boring classics, or a blight on literature?

    I hate to sound like a literary snob but yes, yes, and yes! Abridged books are the blight of literature.
    Let me explain my rather strong opinion. I feel that when someone other than the author shortens and “simplifies” a piece of writing, the spirit of the original writing is irrevocably lost. An abridged work may maintain the central plot of the original but literature is much more than “what happens next.” It's the actual words that carry the narrative and build the work into more than a series of events. The writing, however extraneous it may seem to the abridger, is a carefully constructed structure that houses the intent of the author. Each paragraph and passage builds upon one another to give the reader a sense of place, a palette of emotions…layers and dimensions. Take away bits and pieces and the whole thing crumbles into a dry laundry list of happenings.
    Honestly, if you find the book a long and boring read (or already have a firm belief it will be such), don’t bother reading it. I’ll spare you my rant on making oneself read “classics” for the sake of self-edification. Suffice it to say that if you hate the book but make yourself trudge through it anyway, you probably are not going to gain anything from it in the end except a dim memory of drudgery and misery. So spare yourself and read something you enjoy.

  2. If abridgements have their place, what is it?

    Abridgements serve neither the purpose of those looking for a quick summary of a book nor the purpose of those actually interested in the work. If you are just looking to know the gist of what happens in a book without the bother of reading the whole thing, go thumb through the Cliff Notes version. If you actually want to experience the writing, go read the work in its entirety. Abridged versions are neither short enough to make for a quick read nor complete to give the full effect of what the author intended.

  3. Have you read any abridgements, or will you read any? Why or why not?

    Well, you can probably guess my answer to this one.


Slowing coming back...

Mentally, that is.
What is it about vacations? No matter how short they are, my brain always seems to manage to linger away for days after my body has already returned home. The trip this time was a series of lovely days filled with strolling down tree-lined streets,

wandering around beautiful gardens,

and some shop-trolling (only a little bit out of respect for dear, easily bored Dad). I managed to not go crazy at Powell's books (a used bookstore encompassing one city block. Yes, an entire city block.) and only picked up a few volumes to add to my bookshelf. I was likewise restrained at Knit Purl and only bought two skeins of "souvenir yarn:"
A skein of hand-dyed boucle yarn (Blue Moon Fibers Llama Loopy in Aubergine -- made of alpaca, actually) in varying shades of purple...chosen by my mom for me to make a scarf for her.

A skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk in Sangria (a lush mix of deep reds and purples and oranges that my camera refused to replicate) for myself. Possibly the Diamond Fantasy Shawl?

The trip was only slightly marred by being bookended by much-longer-than-expected train rides. I have to say that my romanticized vision of travel by train has very much been vanquished by the realities of a poorly run transportation service. It's little wonder that Amtrak struggles financially. Not only were the trains that we took to and from Portland almost 3 hours late in departure time, the rides themselves also took over 5 hours longer than anticipated. All this added up to 22 some hours spent in the station and on the train each way. I didn't really mind the actual train ride too much since the scenery was often mesmerizing

but the hours spent at the train station nearly drove me mad. It certainly doesn’t bode well when a page long, closely-written note giving detailed answer to the question "Why Amtrak trains are sometimes late" is prominently displayed at the train station. The short version? Freight trains operators own the railways. Thus, freight trains take precedence over passenger trains. Ergo, lots and lots of

Well, at least I had books and yarn to keep me occupied.

The longest day

Summer at last! Of all things summery, nothing evokes the essence of the warmer months for me so much as water lilies. Just the sight of a few blossoms and suddenly I’m back where summers don’t mean chilling fog but sultry, syrupy heat and the singing of cicadas instead. These lovelies come from one of the many beautiful gardens in Portland.
At least for today (perhaps in deference to the Solstice?), the fog stayed away and we had a blissfully warm day.


Such a picturesque beginning...

to a long long twenty-odd hours on the train...



So how exactly does this work out to be a simile for Life?

Blue, a day late

A little peek at one of the many beautiful and blue things my wonderful SP sent me. More on the rest of the yummy goodies when I get back from my trip.

Thank you so much, SP!


Black and Grey

Tomorrow, blue and a train ride to the City of Roses.



The cozy color of chocolate and coffee. The flattering color that is pushing out the black and greys in my wardrobe. The warmth-filled color of two much loved wooden objects: a Kona wood box and the Winter Kokeshi doll.

Oh, and also the color of my new favorite necklace.

Knitting has been going on but still only on the commute. I’m leaving Thursday on a mini-vacation with my parents and a giant list of THINGS TO DO BEFORE LEAVING (exactly how it sounds in my head) has suddenly sprouted up. So, there has been lots of frantic dashing about happening here of late. Tomorrow, the library, the post office, the bank, a long set of experiments... and black and grey.



A week of colors...

Quite amazing, actually, the absolute dearth of interesting white objects in my home. Some ransacking of cupboards produced one votive (the candle holding kind) and one sea urchin shell -- two little spots of quiet calm in my topsy-turvy mess of an apartment.
Tomorrow, brown.

What’s black, white, and red all-over and flies across the Atlantic?

(And is also in possession of an initial and five buttons.)

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Well, my Backtack III package finally arrived safe and sound in London. Now I can stop teasing you with images of buttons and show you the whole bunny. Mary the bunny-recipient professed a love for traditional Japanese motifs so I came up with this.

Built around a theme of sakura blossoms, here is the very originally named Sakura Bunny.



Here is the bottom half of the right side hidden in the above picture, with my favorite black button.

And a close-up of my free-hand "embroidery," if running stitch even counts as embroidery.

The base pattern is that of the wee bunny from Hillary of Wee Wonderfuls. While I very much enjoyed embellishing the stuffie surface with the appliqués and embroidery, I had a terrible time putting all the pieces all together. Because of the way I did the patchwork of different fabrics on the lower half of the bunny, I had quite a bit of trouble getting that portion to sew up into the proper shape. Hence, poor Sakura is a bit lopsided.
In contrast to overestimating my sewing skills, I really underestimated how long the stuffie would take to assemble. So it was that I completely ran short on time for making other goodies to include in the package. In the end, I only managed to finish a flower pincushion and a felt flower button bowl to go along with Sakura and some edibles.

I was quite happy to hear today from Mary that all contents of the package were enjoyed.
All in all, this was quite a fun exchange. It's certainly taught me a thing or two about sewing three-dimensional shapes!


The Traveling Plum

Life has been doing a few vanishing acts lately with my free time. With work deadlines looming over me all week, there was not much I could do besides hunker down and hope that it will all be over soon. Fortunately for my sanity, knitting still managed to happen as my new project turned out to be completely amendable to being worked on during my lengthy commute. Between the jouncing and rocking on the rickety shuttle bus as it skittered across the city (with one memorable occasion where the shuttle launched itself over and down a hill so fast that all of the passengers briefly levitated above their seats), little birds practically flew off my needles.

Twelve shuttle and late-night taxi cab rides to and from lab and home after casting on, what I’ve taken to calling the Traveling Plum is taking shape.

This is the back piece of the sweater -- a few more inches to go until the arm holes. Actually, this isn’t so much a plum as a cherry -- the Cherry sweater, that is, designed by the brilliant Anna Bell of My Fashionable Life.

The profusion of pretty summer wear that have been cropping up all over blogs had made me want to join in on the fun. I initially contemplated making Green Gable but when I saw Anna’s pattern… I am absolutely in love with the vintage styling in the fit and the bird-like cable pattern and the cord-cinched waist. So very much in the spirit of the clothes I covet from The Shop I Must Avoid For The Sake of My Bank Account.
This is the first project I have worked on in transit. I’ve always hesitated before because trying to juggle charts and needles and yarn on a rapidly moving vehicle just seemed to invite disaster. However, the easily memorized nature of this pattern has made it perfect for wiling away commute time. The Rowan Wool Cotton I am using holds well too so that even if excessive “turbulence” causes me to drop a stitch, the loop stays put until I can slip it back on the needle. This great non-slipperiness of Wool Cotton is terrifically helpful too for my new ability to cable without a cable needle. As usual, I had over-thought the whole technique and spent much time fretting over letting stitches "hang free." Finally, I just tried it and lo and behold, the cables worked out beautifully. No escaped and laddering stitches at all. Hurray!


Do you KIP?

Knit in public, that is.

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Yup, it’s the 2nd annual World Wide Knit In Public day. Sharing and bonding over public knits and purls, this Saturday the 10th. So mark your calendars and ready the pointy sticks.
I will certainly be out and knitting. In fact, I’ve already been happily wiling away my commute time all this week with a perfect new traveling project.

Fiber and needles sneak peek. Think birds and cables.


A sock, a sock!

[Enter Pomatomus, and attached Needles]

[Exit Sleep and Sense]

Nevermind that it was already past one in the morning. Or that I needed to be in lab again in another eight hours. I was so very close to finishing my very first sock and I just could not put it down. 3 o’clock rolled by and I knitted on. 4 o’clock clicked in place on my clock and I entertained the idea of sleep but oh there aren’t that many rows left and really, I should be done in no time. After all, the rows are getting shorter, aren’t they?

Knit, knit. Damn. Tink, tink. Knit, knit, knit.

And as the birds started chirping to greet the paling sky, I moved the last stitch to my right needle, snipped the yarn, slipped on the sock to check the fit…

and immediately began poring over directions for grafting the toe.

Whether it was the lack of sleep or some inherent inability to comprehend Interweave’s diagrams, I could make neither heads nor tails of the directions. I soldiered on with my tapestry needle, though, with the determination and tunnel vision born of late-night delirium. Much fussing with loops and the yarn tail later, I had a finished sock. My very first sock.

O happiness.

I stood back and admired. I had knit a sock and all was well with the world. And at that moment of pride and happiness, I lost my balance and trod with all my weight on a DPN that didn’t respond well at all to the sudden pressure.
Perhaps the knitting gods required a sacrifice in exchange?


As if I needed any more of an excuse

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A monthly pin cushion challenge -- the brilliant idea of Booga J. I was too late for the May challenge but June's theme? I'm all over it. Hurrah for flowers!


Booking Through Thursday: Best sellers from 1956

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Jeanne came across this list of previous years' best sellers, and thought it might be fun to base some of our questions on them.

    In 1956, these were the top ten best sellers for the year.

    1. Don't Go Near the Water, William Brinkley
    2. The Last Hurrah, Edwin O'Connor
    3. Peyton Place, Grace Metalious
    4. Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis
    5. Eloise, Kay Thompson
    6. Andersonville, MacKinlay Kantor
    7. A Certain Smile, Françoise Sagan
    8. The Tribe That Lost Its Head, Nicholas Monsarrat
    9. The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir
    10. Boon Island, Kenneth Roberts

  1. Which ones have you read? Did you like them?
    Oh dear…haven’t read a single one of them. Though in my defense, I haven’t read a single one of the current top ten books on New York Times best sellers list either…

  2. If you're like me and haven't read a single one, which ones have you heard of?
    I’ve only heard of Eloise and draw a blank at all the rest. Hmm…starting to feel a bit ignorant here…

  3. Will you be putting any of these books in your reading list?
    I’ve wanted to read Eloise for a while now since the little girl of the Plaza Hotel is a bit of a staple of children’s literature. As for the rest, I will certainly take a look through them at the library and add those I find interesting to my reading list.