Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

No knitting's a day for MAGIC!

In a comment, Alyssa asked me about the Harry Potter-esque books I've been reading. This summer, in a state of Harry Potter withdrawl, I searched for some other books that have that same feeling. While (to quote Prince), Nothing Compares to You, Harry, these books are pretty good.

1. The first series I discovered is written by Michael Scott (no, not the manager of the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper company). Scott is British (always a plus) and expert in Celtic Mythology. The first book is "The Magician", followed by "The Alchemist" and "The Sorceress" and the fourth book, "The Necromancer" will be published next spring.

Things I Like: the stories are set in modern day and 'star' two twins, Josh and Sophie, who are the next hope (we think) to save the magic world. In their quest to build their new powers, they are helped by people with magical pasts (Nicholas Flamel...he didn't die!) as well as fought by some well known evil doers (Machiavelli!). The action moves between major world cities (Paris, London, and SF) and magical worlds. The depiction of magical creatures, particular the Celtic ones, are incredibly well described and I finish each book feeling like I learned something new.

Things I Sort of Don't Like: Scott is the Dan Brown of magical literature, and most of his chapters involve a cliff hanger that is resolved magically in the next chapter (or maybe three chapters away). They are a bit too action oriented for me, lacking some of the nuanced character development of Harry Potter.

I am eager to read the fourth book, so this is a good series.

2. The Bartimeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud (Brit, check). The first book is "The Amulet of Samarkand" and the second "The Golem's Eye". I haven't read the third one yet but it is on my nighttable. In these books, magicians have taken over England and apparently are planning to take over the world. Magicians aren't really the good guys. The commoners gather together to plot to take over the magicians. They're not really the good guys either.

Things I Sort of Don't Like: these books are very dark. They feature a young magician who is highly ambitious and wants power. There are almost no 'good guys' and magic tends to be used for bad. Did I mention these books are dark?

Things I Love: the books switch narration between an omniscient narrator and the voice of Bartimeus, a djinni (think Barbara Eden) who serves the young magician. Bartimeus is about the funniest narrator that I've ever read....I laugh out loud reading his chapters. This character with his dry, witty, and snarky take on his life as a djinni is delightful, and lightens up these very dark (did I mention that?) books considerably.

If it wasn't for Bartimeus, I would have given up a long time ago. But I'll keep going.

3. The Septimus Heap series, by Angie Sage (a brit chick! Yay!).

I just started this series (I think there are five books) and this one is my favorite. Not sure when it is set, but the characters live in a castle-like area where magic (or Magyk as magical words are described in the book) once used to reign but the wizards have been taken over by a big brother-like communist-ish powerful group where no one has names and most people have numbers. The main characters are, again, young magical people, assisted by an assortment of creatures,witches and wizards.

What I like: Wonderful characters, vivid magical creatures, basically evil villains, and good lessons on life all rolled into one. The good characters have inner conflicts which I like...questioning the value of their wizardhood and stuff like that. Really imaginative places and things make me want to keep reading.

What I sort of don't like: the kind of annoying way every magical word or phrase is bold and printed in a different, 'magical' font. It's cute the first five times. After that, not so much.

Like I said, I think this series will end up my favorite.

So there you have it: Happy Halloween. Oh, and if you haven't read "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" yet, get ye to the bookstore or library and get it. It's an excellen, grown-up book for Harry Potter lovers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yes it is a back

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I love the patterns in the book "A Fine Fleece"...the patterns are intricate, but the shaping is a bit on the boxy side so while one (me) is concentrating on the cables one (me) doesn't have to worry about sleeve decreases.

The sleeves have some shaping, and then they finish with a 3-inch wide strip that forms the shoulder....I think it is called a saddle shoulder? I love that technique. So this is the back, in iall its glory. Including one design feature which you can find, a la "Where's Waldo?"

I cast on last night for new socks using Zauberball, in my opinion the best yarn name in the world. The yarn itself...meh. A bit splitty and not a great hand. But it knits up nicely, and the colors are vibrant.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

See...I told you it was a big black hunk of stocikinette!

Originally uploaded by kbshee
Just to show you...

Here is what I've been working on... Holla from Knitty . There will be cables on the sleeve and around the neck.

But it matters little, given that this is knit in black. Oh well.

The pattern features my favorite cable...the braided cable...even though no one will be able to see it. But I'll know it is there.

Yesterday (Saturday) Tim was on an 11-hour field trip, so I spent the day baking (brownies and lasagna!), knitting (finished the back of St. Patrick), watching football (Go Ducks!) and reading. I have a pile of work books (psychology of the internet, grassroots lobbying) and fun books (teen Harry Potter wanna be books) and I keep putting off the work books in favor of the fun books.

Winter is coming, and there will be plenty of time for them all!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Originally uploaded by kbshee
The vast majority of my knitting this week (which has not been at all vast) has been a black hoodie knit from Rowan Calmer in stockinette stitch. There will be cables on the hood and on the sleeves, but on the whole this is a big ol hunk of black stockinette.

I'm sparing you.

So here's a closeup of one of the cables from St. Patrick. I like it a lot. I love complex cables, and I don't even get upset when a little design flaw occurs. I can see at least two in this picture and I'm fine with them.

Of course, this is the back, and who really comes up to someone and scrutinizes their cabling? Even I only do that in my head.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pool or stripes?

Originally uploaded by kbshee
I never know what I"m going to get.

Socks, basic brown bag socks, done with Lorna's Laces, I think as part of the Loopy Ewe birthday event. But I'm not sure. I like the colors though.

And I think the finished sock has a few more stitches than the unfinished sock on the foot area. Hence stripes vs. Pool. Matters little in my world.

Who else is excited about the new 30 Rock tonight!?

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Originally uploaded by kbshee
I've been working on St. Patrick, from A Fine Fleece, in fits and starts. I remember knitting a few rows back in September when we were on the coast, and then I remember knitting some more during a few football games, but I haven't been working on it at all consistently.

And so imagine my surprise when I figured out yesterday that I'm almost done with the back!

In addition, I've made some 'design choices' on the cables (ie I screwed up early and just integrated the screw up into the overall pattern) and made a total mess on one area, but I'm happy nonetheless.

It's Rowan Felted Tweed, that isn't quite as purply as it looks in the photo, but a lovely color. Closeups to come!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Random Knitting Things I Don't Get

1. Cowls

I've knit cowls. I love how they look in pictures. But on me, they look like: oh, here's a girl with a balloon head! Where's the rest of her knitwear?

2. Mitred (mitered?) things, particularly in a jacket/sweater

Has anyone actually knit a mitred jacket? Let me rephrase that. Has anyone ever knitted more than one? Because don't people think you're wearing the same thing?

Mitres are something I like to loo at, from afar, at someone else at a knitting event.

3. Fingerless mitts

Part of me loves the idea, but do you ever wear these and don't feel like a character out of a Dicken's novel? Maybe I should just wear them and get over it.

4. Knitted pants

Do these look at all decent on anyone who isn't a toothpick?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

F is for...

Originally uploaded by kbshee
FALL All of a sudden, it is very, very fall-y here in Oregon. Usually we have summerlike weather until about the middle of October, but the winter rains have already started and I wore a cashmere hoodie yesterday. 'Nuf said.

FIRST My first week back at work is over, it was

FRANTIC but much of that was my own

FAULT because I pretty much blew off the entire month of September from a work perspective. I worked hard this week to get caught up on all the reviews and letters that I had promised to complete, and now I'm pretty

FOCUSED on my classes and on having a success term.

FANNIE's FINGERING yarn was used to make these great purple socks. The colorway is Bramble. A nice thickish sock yarn, which I love, which made the socks a very zippity doo dah type project. I like how this feels a lot. If you haven't tried this yarn, you can

FIND it at Woolgirl.