Friday, 27 July 2007

Book Review - Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

I just finished this book (haven't got the new Harry Potter yet (stupid bills, budgets . . . mutter mutter mutter grrr), and I thought I'd write my views on it.

This isn't a book I would normally buy, I don't gravitate towards the realistic, female writer section of a bookstore, but I saw this one in the charity shop up the road, and something made me pick it up. The back of it had a brief outline of the plot - very brief, basically saying some people find a baby in the woods, which is only the first couple of chapters, and all the reviews on the back mentioned emotions - something that would normally make me throw it right back on the shelf, but I bought it anyway for some reason. It sat on the shelf for a while, then it moved to become my bathroom book - yeah, I read books in the bathroom. It's either that or shampoo bottles, and I think I could tell you what bathroom product something is, just from the list of ingredients. Not mega expensive books or anything, just cheap charity shop books with big print and not a huge amount of pages. Like Light on Snow.

From the first chapter, I wanted to read more. The language used is direct, to the point, I wouldn't say the language was deliberately trying to be 'emotive' (another word from the back of the book). You know how some 'emotive' books use big flowery words, obviously trying to pull at your heartstrings in a literary way (one of the reasons I don't normally read them, it turns me right off, and detracts from the story)? Well, this wasn't like that. It's written in first person, from the perspective of a woman (Nicky) looking back at when she was 12 years old. It really felt like someone talking, you know?.

The chapters flit between the 'present' of the story (when the character was 12 years old), and a few years before that, at the time when her mother and sister were killed in an accident. The finding of the baby in the woods brings back memories and feelings of her baby sister, and little episodes of their life together are interspersed with the main story. Those parts actually made me cry, when Shreve was writing about the accident and the loss of half of the family - Nicky is left with her father after the accident and they move to a small town in her fathers attempt to remove himself from memories of it. I suppose that's why it's described as being so emotional - you can really feel the loss, and devastation caused. I think the simple language helps with this, and hearing it through Nicky's voice. I had to put the book down for a couple of days then go back to it, because it affected me so much. But I did go back, because I simply had to read more.

Finding the baby brings up feelings and brings Nicky and her father's grief to the forefront, but they are forced to deal with those feelings when the baby's mother (Charlotte) shows up at their house, and is stuck there in a snow storm. Nicky alternately sees Charlotte as a mother figure or a sister, and realises again how much she has lost, and how her life was affected with the sudden removal of all female figures from her family - how her life is so different now she lives with only her father, in a secluded part of a small town. Yet, it doesn't feel like Shreve comes right out and says these things intrusively. It's mentioned directly, but it's still part of the story, and you're drawn right into Nicky's feelings about her life. She's very skillful at that - drawing you right in. Lol, the book actually escaped from the bathroom a few times because I just couldn't put it down!

Nicky's father is also forced to deal with his feelings about the accident as well. The deliberate abandonment of a baby outrages him, who has lost a child through no fault of his own. He moved away from a city to the middle of nowhere to escape his own loss, and is now confronted with the mother of an abandoned child in his own home. He acknowledges she is stuck with them for a while, but won't even speak to her for a while, still trying to keep his feelings under the surface. Gradually, through Nicky's eyes, you see her father being forced to accept the situation, and recognise his feelings. Not remove them, but at least begin to deal with them.

Yes, there's a lot of mention of feelings and emotions in this book. The story drives right along though, with not too much dwelling on them on the part of the author, something I personally congratulate her for. I hate it when you get a whole chapter on how someone is feeling, and it's all soppy and hyperbolic. I like to be able to derive the character's emotions and motivations through the prose of the story, and not have it explained right out to me. If the writing is good enough, you can tell exactly what the character feels and wants, and this is a book in which the writing is definitely good enough. If it wasn't for my budget, I'd be on amazon right now ordering more of her books!

Oh, and there's knitting too! Nicky knits and makes bead necklaces, and her hobbies are mentioned quite frequently, another thing that makes her seem more real as a character. That was totally unexpected when it first popped up, in a throwaway comment, but her knitting and beading are mentioned again and again, just as a real person's hobbies are. That was a really nice touch. And knitting is always good in a story! (Actually, thinking about it, I think this is the first book I've read with knitting in it).

So if you see this book somewhere, I'd definitely recommend it. From the cover, it looks a bit 'emotional' and girly, but from a die-hard anti chick lit reader (I'd normally read horror, sci fi or thriller - 'boy books' as opposed to 'girl books'), it's one of the best books I've read in a while.

Mystery Stole-ing Along

Ok, so I signed up for mystery stole 3 like, AGES ago, when the yarnharlot was doing her enabling bit, but I've only just started knitting it now. I'm so far behind everyone! I've been collecting all the clues obsessively, and trying not to look at other people's pictures too closely - it's like the Harry Potter book, I don't want to know what it looks like before I've made it. But it's only yesterday that I actually got my arse into gear and started knitting.

I've finished Clue 1 now, and am 1/5 of the way through Clue 2. I'm trying to get them all 4 released clues finished before the next one is up. The break for the new HP book will help with that - I should be all caught up by then. Here's a pic at the end of clue 1:

I can't believe I knitted that! This is my first piece of major lace knitting - proper lace knitting, I would say, and I'm so stunned. The pattern is GORGEOUS, and it's actually working out. Of course, the lifelines are indispensable. I've got them spaced about every ten rows or so, and my god, I've needed them. I'm finding it not that bad following the charts, it's just that every now and then my attention wanders for a split second, and bam! I miss a YO or knit an extra stitch, and then spend ages trying to figure out what I did.

And I actually swatched! (something I'm absolutely terrible at doing - I'd rather rip out an entire sweater than make a 4x4 inch square)

OK, so it's not much of swatch, and it got ripped back out for use in the stole, but since it was just to check the yarn and needles were working well together, and all stitches and YOs were visible, I figured it wasn't necessary to do a HUGE swatch. And I got bored. Swatching feels like knitting with no purpose to me. I know it's all for the maths etc, but I'd rather get straight into making the actual object.

I can see how lace knitting can be addictive though. I love this pattern, and I absolutely adore the pattern for mystery stole 2 - Scheherazade. I'm sooo going to buy that pattern just as soon as all my bills are paid - yes, I'm still on a strict budget. Even $6 is too much right now. But I'm too busy with the mystery stole to do anything but drool over that pattern anyway.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Crazy Crochet

In keeping with the crazy theme, I thought I would post some pics of my latest crochet creations.

A crocheted poo! Actually a crocheted happy poo without a happy face. I was going to add the happy face but my bf was so grossed out that I was crocheting a poo that it seemed funnier to leave it like that. His reaction was actually the best bit about making this, he seemed very disturbed by it. He kept looking over at me while I was making it, with this puzzled look on his face. When I brought the yarn into the room he asked if I was actually going to make it from dark brown wool. Like I should make it blue or something, to be less offensive. And he asked me to remove it from the table, as it was grossing him out too much. You'd have thought I'd left a real poo on the table from his expression.

I'm so mean, I hadn't meant to wind him up so much, but once I realised it did annoy him I took great delight in showing him my new creation.

This is my more normal creation. A crochet spiral chair back/table cover thingy. I was going to take a picture of the pattern so you could see the modifications I had to make cos I was running out of cotton. In between the points there should be semi-circles. But I had only this much cotton left after finishing so I did the right thing by leaving them out:

The spirals were the thing that drew me to the pattern in the first place, something that wasn't too flowery or delicate. I immediately thought of this cotton for it when I saw the pattern (when I find it, I'll edit this post so you can see). I think the colour changes make it quite funky. I got both the pattern and the cotton in my instant stash enhancement, and started making it pretty much immediately.

The modification wasn't that hard either. This is only my second time making a something crocheted from a pattern, and it was quite daunting when I realised I had to change it, but I seem to have got the hang of crochet pretty quick. Enough to follow a pattern anyway, and make basic changes.

Todays post - in which I realise I am insane (again)

Ok, I am crazy. Officially. I mean, totally embarrassingly crazy. I feel really weird cos I told someone about my blog, and then totally freaked out like what if someone else actually read it? Like if I know them in real life? I mean, internet is real life and all, with real people, but . . . well, I was going to say you know what I mean, but you probably don't as I am just completely crazy.

It made me wonder what I want from this blog - after the hideous panic that someone might read it (really, what did I expect when I put it up), and then the hideous panic of being totally embarrassed about that, and about expressing that I was worried. To someone who has never met me in real life at all, and has only known me through the internet for about a month. OMG, I am quite embarrassed, and quite possibly certifiable for making such a big deal.

I mean, what are blogs for if not to be read? If I wanted to write things and keep them to myself, I've got plenty of notebooks to write diaries. But I started the blog cos I'd like to talk to other people who have the same interests, be part of the knitting, and dancing community. So why am I so worried in case people read it and recognise who I am, and attribute the thoughts expressed to me?

In real life, I'm very shy. I tend to compartmentalise things as well, keep things seperate in my life. I'll talk to some people about some things, and other people about others. And some things I'll only tell my dog. I find it easier to talk openly on the net, to say what I mean, and not worry about all the things you have to worry about in an immediate, face to face conversation. And I think that's why I got freaked out. People might see things I'd normally keep for someone else. I know, crazy! Why not be open about knitting or dancing or whatever I decide to write about? It's all a part of the lovely mess that is me. And frankly, people I know will eventually find me and recognise me simply by searching certain words and reading the posts. I know this, but some part of my brain decided to ignore this logic and totally freak out. Ugh.

So if you do know me, and you come across this blog, don't laugh too mych, eh? :)

Monday, 23 July 2007

I Won!!!!

Yay! I never win anything, but I got an email from Anala Rabari at Shimmycast saying I had come fourth in her competition (a draw of people who had replied to questions on her forum). That's so cool, I saw the email and was all excited, yay! So I get to choose a cd from ( a very cool, not at all evil site!), and I'll be getting a magnetic photo frame too!
To be 100% honest, I would have been answering the questions anyway, it was just luck that Anala was running a draw at the same time. I only found the podcast a little while ago, actually I only found all podcasts a little while ago, and I've been going through the episodes from the very beginning. I love it! It's exactly what I was looking for when I searched belly dance on itunes. It has music, articles, reviews and I love that there's a forum to discuss points from the show with other belly dancers. I understand there's some groups on, but I've been busy looking at other things on the net (I blame for taking up a lot of my time recently), but Anala has provided what is exactly what I was looking for with her podcast and forum. If you're interested in bellydance, go over to and listen to the podcast, try it out.
Now, all I have to do is go to magnatune and pick a cd. Sounds easy, but there's a few I want. I'll have to go choose!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Crafting update

It seems like I haven't blogged here for AGES! I'm having trouble uploading pics cos my bf's using all the bandwidth, and I almost forgot that I could make a post without pictures, which is what this is going to be.

I have been busy though. I used some of the cotton I was given, and a pattern, and crocheted (is that even a word?) a table cover doily thingy. The pattern says it's a table cover/chair back, but since the only person I know who has chair backs is my gran, and I haven't seen a picture with one that dates after the seventies, it's definitely not going to become one of those. It's really cool, the cotton is variegated shades of orange, and it's a sort of spiral shape. I had to adapt it cos I was running out of cotton, but I think it's pretty cool. That needs pinned out and blocked or something anyway before I put pics of it up.

I've also been knitting jellyfish from Magknits. I changed the specified yarn to the cotton aran I bought a while ago, instead of mohair, cos all the mohair I had was either too hairy to see the lace, of self striping, and I didn't want vertical stripes. I think I will make a shrug with the self striping mohair, but it'll be horizontal stripes. I just need to find a patten for it. Jellyfish is coming along really well now, knitting up very fast, and is lots of fun, but I had lots of problems at the beginning with the lace pattern. The only way I could get round it was by casting on one less stitch - either the stitch count for the middle size is wrong, or I'm just completely inept. I'm not sure, cos it looked like it was working sometimes with the 60 stitches. But now it seems to work with 59. So I'm going with that. I'm actually 3/4 of the way through knitting it, and I'm enjoying it. I think it'll look quite nice when it's done, with the cotton instead of the mohair. The cotton seems to have a nice drape to it. I want to knit another one after this, but with beads. But since I'm on a totally strict budget just now, that'll have to wait till I can afford suitable beads. I know, they'd only be a few pounds, but right now I can't even afford that. I'm on an enforced stash-busting exercise right now, going through all the stuff I have already. It hasn't stopped me looking though old posts on and being totally inspired to do a whole load of other things though!

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Finished Rogue!

Yay! Rogue is finished! And I love it!

I love the waist shaping. I've never made anything with any shaping before, so didn't quite know what it was going to turn out like. But I like it.

Two photos of the hood, one for the detail, and one for the colour. The bottom picture has the colour more accurately, but the cables aren't so visible.

I'll definitely make this pattern again. Just need to use up the yarn in the stash before I can buy more aran suitable for it. The pattern was very well written, with every step clearly spelled out (I need that in a pattern!) and I really like how it turned out. I like the pocket too, and how it involved no sewing! In fact, the whole thing had very little sewing, another thing I like in a pattern! So I'm off to use up more yarn so I can buy more eventually to make another one! :)

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Wee Mee!

I was bored.

I was also in a bit of a mood when I made it, lol! (

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Instanst Stash Enhancement Part 2

A basket full of crochet cotton. There's also a couple of balls that are left out of this picture, cos I have a plan for them already.

There were some crochet shapes that she had already made - they're gorgeous! The cotton is so thin, and variegated, and there's more of it in the basket! Yay!

Crochet patterns.

Knitting patterns. I know, the photo is like a bad job lot photo from ebay, but there's so many, and I didn't want to spend too much time arranging them all out. Here's more of them:

Some of the patterns are a bit old and dated, but I'll keep them anyway, cos I'm a hoarder! And my tastes might change someday. After all, I never thought I'd make the blackcurrant/blueberry top. Some of them are fantastic though, and some of them are just so kitsch!

It's a bit blurry but you should be able to see the little cap - isn't it just brilliant!? I might never make it in my life, but I'm so glad just to have seen this picture - it definitely brought a smile to my face.

I was just totally stunned when I opened the bags and found all this loot! She's so generous, and every time I look at it all, I'm just like - wow! yay! I sooo need to get to those sewing classes though, and I also need to tidy it away before the dog lies on it all, and gets his hair all over it - I have a moulty dog, who is lovely, but quite hairy. But I'm having fun just now looking at it all.

Instant Stash Enhancement - Part 1

This post is going to be a bit picture intensive, so I'll split it over two posts, I think.

My bf's mum's friend is moving house soon, and busy packing her stuff, and clearing some of it out. And she gave me some of her craft stuff!!! Yay! I now have an instant fabric stash! Not that I'm confident with sewing yet, but I'm going to a class in August/September, and I now have a bunch of cool fabrics to make stuff from!

Now for the pictures:

Some felt - along with cute bunny ears and feet! She must have been going to make some sort of stuffed toy - wonder what I can incorporate them into?

Shiny fabrics! The top picture has all lilac shades - I don't know if they're properly visible in the picture. I definitely need to improve my camera skills! Neither of these pictures does the fabric justice.

Various net-type fabrics.

And some heavier fabrics, and curtains. I put the black fabrics in this picture too, even though some are heavy and some are shiny. It's hard to photograph black fabrics as it is, so I just lumped them all together.

I can't wait for my sewing class to start now. I just don't have enough confidence in my sewing yet to dive in, I want to get comfortable with the machine first before I cut into any of the lovely fabrics.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007


Still working on the hip scarf. I never thought it would take this long to make a rectangle. Although even my bf pointed out that with such thin wool it would take a long time and did I not realise this when I started? What can I say, I was blinded by the lure and excitement of a new knitting project. I'm going to fold it in half, I think, a rectangle that wide over my hips will not be flattering, I think. Then I'm going to bead it and fringe it. After I've crocheted the fringe out of the tiny thin wool. And I've decided on the method of closure round the hips. I thought about just tying it round, but that didn't feel right. Too messy on the part of the hips where it needs tied. I want a clean line all around. I thought of making a hole in it to pull the other end through. Not so messy, but still a bit messy. So I've decided to link it together with little hooks that can be linked onto eyes on the other end. I'm just hoping it won't stretch with use! That's why I chose moss stitch, so it would be fairly inelastic, and firm. I'm just worried about the 'fairly' part.

I've also been looking at the new Magknits. I like most of the patterns in this one, in fact I think I would make them all apart from the bag with the bird on it, and only because I'm not that into knitted bags. If I was, then I guess I would make it. Jellyfish, Stargazer and Devon, are all calling my name right now. Nereides too, but to a lesser extent.

And I've put my name in to sign up for Ravelry. I've seen it on soooo many blogs, and didn't really think I would be interested, but it's peer pressure, ok! It's not my fault! I'm still not sure if it'll be for me, but I figure, how will I know unless I try it? I feel kinda like I'm being a total follower, a sheep even, following the latest craze. But is being a sheep such a bad thing in the knitting world???

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Work on the Tribal Scarf

I haven't posted for a few days due to a number of reasons. I've had a horrible cold, so haven't had much concentration power, and there's also this:

What feels like miles and miles of moss stitch. For some reason I thought this would grow quickly. I obviously hadn't realised that 2 ply on 2mm needles DOES NOT grow quickly. That's about a week's work there, and I've still got ages to go. It's going to be a tribal hip scarf, either the size it is, or folded in half, I'll have to finish and look at the fabric to decide. It'll be fringed all round the bottom, and the bottom will have seed beads on it. I'm thinking I'm going to have to crochet the fringe, cos the yarn is so thin. I don't want to breaking as I tug it around my hips. Ugh, I thought this was going to be an easy project, that would just speed along. Still, it'll be nice when it's finished, and I can show it off to all the people in my tribal class when we go back in September. It might be finished then. :)

Oh, I almost forgot! My latest charity shop find!

Teeny tiny crochet hooks! There's so small, you can hardly see the hooky bit at all! I saw them sitting there in a cup beside all the dpns, and thought they looked a bit weird, so I picked one up. If I hadn't been listening to old Cast On episodes, and the one where Quirky Nomad talks about minature crochet, I don't know if I'd have known what they were. As it was, I looked at the tiny ends, and thought Ah, that's what she was talking about! They range in size from 1.5 mm to only 0.75 mm. I usually crochet on a 4mm, so they seem really small. I don't know if I'll ever do much minature crochet, my eyes hurt enough looking at this tiny moss stitch I'm doing, but I just had to have them. I'm thinkning maybe I'll use one of them to crochet the fringe for the scarf, then I can crochet the beads in and they'll be more secure when I'm dancing. This scarf is going to take so long, I just know it, but I'm sure it will be worth it. I haven't felt the urge to just rip it all out anyway, and that's got to be good.