Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: The Map of Time

The Map of Time
The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Time travel! Jack the Ripper! Automatons! What's not to love?!? Well, as it turns out, almost everything.

I know everyone else here is raving about it, but I could barely stomach The Map of Time; it took every ounce of stick-to-it-iveness I could muster to get through this convoluted, interminable literary maze. WHERE, I ask you, was the EDITOR in this hot mess? There is the kernal of a potentially good story here, had about 2/3 of the fat been excised. The only way it could have been more byzantine is if Nancy Grace had shown up to interrogate Inspector Lusk about the Ripper murders.

It's not like the guy can't write. He's a decent, if grandiose, storyteller and he mimics to perfection the florid style of the period he set this novel in. And the theme Palma writes about -- choice and the Butterfly Effect of exercising it -- is one that is both powerful and personal. Plus, he knows how to turn a phrase: "...loneliness that sticks to him like a birthmark."

But come on, Félix, enough with the meandering, the inconsistencies, the convenient last-minute reprieves for waylaid story-lines. And the unnecessary reminders from the narrator about his omniscience have to go.

I was all set to love this book, what with it being about the re-writing of the history of the earliest science fiction and all, but it wasn't to be. The one good thing that came out of it? It inspired me to read the original H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, and it was love at first sight.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Review: The Passage

The Passage
The Passage by Justin Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I devoured this book, all 700+ pages in 3 days, despite no taste for vamp-lit, which should tell you something. Now I know why most of the contemporary work in that genre left me cold: it wasn't this. No one needs to even bother writing another. Take THAT, Twilight!

Beyond being a great post-apocalyptic horror story, The Passage is, at it's core, about humans and what drives them. I think to Cronin, people are made of glass, and he can see inside of them as easily as you or I see what's on the other side of a window.

And Cronin not only sees what's inside, he presents it beautifully as master of the simile. Consider: "Texas, state-sized porkchop of misery." and"eyes...empty, like drains that could suck the whole world down into them."

And although I'm sure I'll go see it, I'm certain the planned movie version won't live up to the book. I like movies as much as the next guy, but The Passage is an example of why books will almost always trump them : film only captures the visual story, with almost no sense of the poetry of it's language -- a painting without the memories held in the hand of the painter. I think The Passage: The Movie, will likely be a pale, albeit entertaining, facsimile of the original.

My only critique is that the brilliance of the first 200 or so pages of Act I aren't sustained through to the end. The story continues to intrigue, but something about the writing just wasn't as luminous; maybe the characters that don't make it through to Act II were favorite's of Cronin? I don't know, but something changed. But if you are reading it, and around page 350 you get bogged down an consider bailing, re-consider: it is worth it.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ugh. I'm glad I didn't pay for this book - yay for ARCs!

I can't really put my finger on what went wrong here, but apparently I have a mutation on my chick-lit gene that predisposes my knee to jerk up suddenly when I find myself in the middle of a coming-of-age novel. This recipe has too much sugar for my taste.

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Friday, October 07, 2011


Remember my Jumping on Board post last month? The one about my complete lack of self-control and my succumbing to the most recent knit-bandwagon ? You know, the one about the Beekeeper's Quilt KAL, aka hexi-crack-along! My contribution to this blanket cult is called 720 Degrees of PUFF. Go on, click it, CLICK IT! You know you want to. And feel free to favorite it. I'm an attention hoar.

Puff the First

Well, as you've probably discovered, this pattern has gone viral. Casey even coded in a brand new feature for it on Ravelry: herds. Click the red hashtag #hexipuffalong when you see it on Ravelry, and you'll be served up a plethora of useful links, project photos, + general knitting conviviality related to Tiny Owl Knits' phenomenon du jour.

And I must say, it's wicked fun! Total knitting crack. Remember that mini-skein swap I participated in in the C2S2 group? I put up some pretty-in-pink yarn from Tactile Fiber Arts, and just LOOK at what I got back in return:

Sock yarn mini-skeins

Twenty, count 'em, twenty!, wee 5 gram skeins of all kinds of wonderful sock yarn from all over! If you're jonesing to see what each one is, you can check my Ravelry stash listing where you'll find all the details.

Puff #3 in progress

I used some of the minis from the swap pictured above, and a few of my newly-dyed COLORBOMB Family Jewels Fingering Minis (recently blogged about HERE and available for purchase in my Etsy shop HERE) to knit up my first five "puffs". Check it:

First 5 puffs

You might notice that my "puffs" aren't very "puffy". That's because I've decided to knit mine sans stuffing. Yup, I'm knitting un-puffs. Although the pattern is knit as a coverlet, I'm planning to use mine more as a "curl-up-on-the-couch-with-a-good-book-wrapped-in-PUFFS" comfort blankie, and I think the puffed hexagons, while adorable, won't suit for that. I want a more flexible fabric than I think would be produced with the as-written polyfil-poofed puffs. Plus, laundering the FO should be easier and FASTER if I eliminate the stuffing.

So I'll leave you with my new hexi-crack counter, currently at 8/720.*

* Why 720 un-puffs? There are 720 degrees in the cumulative total of the angles in a hexagon, and I'm calling my blanket 720 Degrees of PUFF, so I figured I need to make mine with 720 hexagons. Yep, I AM that nerdy, why do you ask?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Let the Socktoberfesting Begin!

It's October again (already?!?), so that means SOCKTOBERFEST!*

Socktoberfest 2011 - goals

What the hell is Socktoberfest, you ask? Geez, knitters, where you been living, under a rock? Started in '05 (an auspicious year, as that is when I met my beloved), it is the labor of love of Lollyknittingaround (who, btw, takes KICKASS photos!). There is (of course), a group on Ravelry dedicated to it, too:, as well as a group on flickr. But what IS it? OK, fair enough. From the Rav group homepage:

What is Socktoberfest?

A very simple concept with very few restrictions - Socktoberfest is a month-long (throughout the month of October) celebration of socks. It is a celebration of the accessories that we make as crafters to cover our feet. Think of it more as a festival than a knitalong - people who love something come together and celebrate it!

Basically, Socktoberfest is what you make of it. Me, I'm planning to make it a sock WIP-fest. That photo above? Those are the 3 sock projects I have on the needles, in various stages of un-done-ed-ness. I really neeed to finish these! Let's see if I can finish all three AND their mates. How 'bout a little blog badge action to keep me motivated, eh?

Wanna details on the 3 sock projects themselves? They're in my Rav projects! (L-R): Ziggity Zaggity, Getting Leyed, and Summit Socks. My first colorwork project, my first slip-stitch project, and a project using my own hand-dyed yarn, respectively. FUN! Oh, and the project bags? They're from Celestial Fiber Arts, Heidimonkey, and Chicken Boots!

Are you Socktoberfesting with me?

* While looking for a link to an 'official' Socktoberfest site, I stumbled across Hubert's Socktoberfest Blog - you MUST see this! It chronicles the adventures of one Hubert the Swiss Sockmonkey. Precious!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Get Your Mini on at COLORBOMB!

Another !exclamatory! post! !!filled!! with exclamations!!!!!! I'm excited because I had fun dyeing this week, and I've finally added new yarn crack to my Etsy shop!

Family Jewels Fingering Family Pak! from COLORBOMB Creations

Introducing Family Jewels Fingering Minis and Family Jewels Fingering Minis Family Pak from COLORBOMB Creations!

Hot out of the dyepots (ok, they're cooled down now, but you know what I mean), my new Mini Skeins are PERFECT for all kinds of projects that require a bit o' this color and a bit o' that color. Think hexi-crack, blankiemania, mochi-garumi, colorwork...

NEW! from COLORBOMB Creations: Family Jewels Fingering Minis

Individual colorways available currently are: 'Creamlicklesicle' (orange peel), 'Krazy for Kornflower' (azure blue), 'Turqonton' (turquoise), 'Powder Puff' (soft pink), 'Lime Lolly' (acid green), and 'Lemony Fresh' (bright yellow) - with more to come soon.

Each mini-skein is 10grams (.35oz) and 32meters (35 yards) of professionally hand-dyed 100% superwash Merino wool sock yarn in slightly-variegated/semi-solid colorways on a 2-ply base yarn with a medium, evenly-distributed twist that yields a plump and soft yarn with loads of 'sproing'.

Buy just the individual colors you like OR go for the gusto! and get a Family Pak with one of each, packaged together at a discount, as the 'Candy, Little Girl?' color combo.

You're probably asking yourself: "Where, where can I get me some of these beauties?!?" Glad you asked! Get on over to and slurp yours up before they're all gone!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

His and Hers SOCKS

Every year, I make Cole a pair of socks for Xmas, a pair of thick boot-style socks using Noro Kureyon, and this year was no different (except for waiting 9 months to post about them!). There wasone other thing that was different: I fell in love with them during the knitting process and couldn't bring myself to gift them to him!

Almost But Not Quite Shoes & Socks

I mean, come on, look at them! Stripey socks of goodness, and I simply had to have them. Lucky for me, Cole and I share another thing besides our love for bacon-topped donuts: our feet are the same size! So when it became apparent that I was gonna snake his socks, I just started another pair. To whit:

Cole in his newest Xmas Socks

His are pretty cute too, don't you think? I didn't quite get his done on time, but he loved 'em once he got 'em. Specs (for those in to that kinda thing) can be found on my Ravelry project pages: His and Hers.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weaving, I Haz It

Yup, I accidentally fell in love with weaving. My friend Aunt Janet has been proselytizing the joys of the Church of Weaving for as long as I've known her, & I'd avoided the cult despite being surrounded by amazing weavers of all kinds. My local fiber guild, the Humboldt Handweavers & Spinners, is rife with skilled weavers, and through the generosity of Morgaine Wilder of Carolina Homespun and her Golden Gate Fiber Institute, I've met many more. But until this spring I'd managed to avoid dating a new craft, but after attending Janet's rigid heddle demo at a Guild meeting, I am smitten.

I haz weavez!
Please don't notice the giant mess that is my living room workshop!

I was lucky enough to be sent home from that demonstration with a warped-and-ready loom on long-term loan, and I immediately set to putting what I learned that night to the test. I started by continuing in the plain weave Janet had started, doing that for a few inches until I got bored. Then I did a bit of Google-fu, searching for 'rigid heddle stitch patterns', which yielded a plethora of pretty patterns.

Leno weave closeup

I started with some 2x2 and 4x4 leno twists (above), and continued with 'Brook's Bouquet' lace from Ashford (below).

2nd pick of 'Brooks Bouquet' lace is prettier

Then a little over-under, pick-up-stick-formed shed pattern using a 2nd sword I made from a yardstick:

Close up of over-under pick up stick-formed shed pattern

Then I started getting adventurous: I added a row of curly Wensleydale and Mohair locks...

Added a row of mohair & wensleydale locks to the sampler

...and 3 rows of silk noil I dyed last year:

Three rows of silk noil added to the sampler

I finished up with a clasped weft section following the instructions of this YouTube video, (not a great choice of contrast weft, which is why it doesn't show up well in the photo), ending with plain weave until I ran out of warp.

Last section: Clasped Weft

After tying and cutting it off the loom, this is what I got:

Wrapped in my new woven sampler stole

Sampler the First

The loom came pre-warped with Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in green, gold, and pink. I used more of that, plus some of Janet's super-bulky handspun art yarn for the weft, and I estimate (using this yardage calculator) that I used approximately 500 yards of yarn. Finished dimensions are 24" x 60". Ravelry project page.

I was SHOCKED by how much fun I had! I expected weaving to be much less accommodating of playful spontaneity than it was - one instance when I was happy to be wrong! So now I've decided that I simply MUST find a 'real' (read: bigger) loom for myself, and last weekend at the CA Wool & Fiber Festival in Boonville I think I found it: a used Leclerc Nilus 4-shaft is headed my way in the coming months! Joy! So expect to see more weaving posts on VWorld...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sidecar Saturday

Sidecar Saturday!

Enough said! Well, it would be if I wasn't an inebriated loudmouth. I was inspired today by The Bon on Twitter today, when she said she was drinking a sidecar. Brazen copycat-slash-boozehound that I am, I immediately set to whipping up a batch for myself. Et voila!

For inquiring minds:

Classic Sidecar

* 8 parts Cognac or brandy
* 2 parts Cointreau
* 1 part lemon juice

Shake with ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed stemmed cocktail glass; garnish with lemon slice.

I'm outta Cointreau, so I subbed Grand Marnier to good effect. Salud!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lace Me Up!

New, NEW, All New!

How about something NEW from COLORBOMB? I know you'll want some! I've taken the first baby step into the field of hand-dyeing millspun yarns, and my first offering is LACE ME UP!, a 2-ply superfine merino lace weight yarn. I've put it up in 3.5 ounce (100 gram) skeins that top out at over 1000 yards (914 meters) of next-to-skin soft yumminess. (In the Ravelry database here.) The first colorway I created I call 'Unsubtle', for obvious reasons:

Hot, isn't it? All the skeins in the first small batch are already spoken for - sorry! - but this IS a repeatable colorway, so let me know if it is something you're interested in and I can create a custom Etsy listingfor you anytime. Look for more colorways coming soon.

Wanna keep up with the latest from COLORBOMB Creations? If you're a member of Ravelry (and really, who isn't these days?), pop in to COLORBOMBers, the group for all things CBC, where COLOR CAN'T HURT YOU!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jumping on Board

Can't. Help. Myself.

I'm jumping on the hexipuff bandwagon! What? you haven't heard about hexipuffing? I don't believe it! I thought I was the last to succumb to the lure of the blanket comprised of dozens of stuffed cute wee hexagons.

The pattern, The Beekeeper's Quilt (Rav link) by Tiny Owl Knits, has BLOWN UP all over Ravelry and the rest of the internets. Published only a bit over a month ago, this pattern already has over one thousand knitters and crocheters whipping up dozens of the teeny 'hexipuffs', as they are called in popular parlance.

One of the things that pushed me over the edge on making this blanket was a minis swap in the C2S2 group on Ravelry. Here's what I'm sending out:

Sending out wee skeins into the world...

Twenty-one 5 gram skeinlets of SW Merino/Bamboo Fingering weight from Tactile Fiber Arts. In return, I'll receive 20 mixed mini-skeins from other swap participants, & I'll be on my way to a new blanket!

Since I just finished reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, a novel postulating a clever female detective partner for Sherlock Holmes (which I highly recommend; read my review on Goodreads here), I'm toying with clever tie-in names to call my iteration of the blanket: Sherlock Meets His Match in Mary... The Apprentice's Blanket... The Blanketkeeper's Apprentice... Can't quite settle on one that isn't totally lame. Or at least lame in a good way.

Friday, July 01, 2011

BSG Kodak Moments

Following up with my previous post with contributions from the papparazzi!

Unfortunately, my camera battery crapped out after I took only a few photos at Pie & Beer, but happily Don Butler, one of my campmates that traveled up from Humboldt with our regular local crew, was kind enough to fill in for me & share his pics. A big shout out to Don & to his wife Edie for bringing him!

I put together a photo collage of some of the best of them for you. If you click on the hyperlinks in the caption, it will take you to the photo page for each one on Flickr.

Pie & Beer #2 Kodak Moments

COLORBOMB 2nd Annual Pie & Beer at Black Sheep Gathering - June 24, 2011

1. Woolywoman at the wheel, 2. Velma & Dawn, 3. Mmmmm, PIE!, 4. Draft, girl, draft!,
5. Spinners Circle, 6. Pocket Wheel closeup, 7. Tailgating at Pie & Beer, 8. Another group shot,
9. Goatboy's new turkish spindles, 10. Conviviality reigns, 11. Our Mascot,
12. Dawn, Edie, & Windy, 13. Support spindle spinning
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

Lots of spinning, lots of visiting, lots of PIE! I think there were at least 35 people there this year, & we had so much pie that I was able to contribute a few left over to the Saturday night potluck. And a big thanks to John & Carla for bringing the c-can of homemade root beer!

It wasn't all wheel spinning, either: I saw drop spindles, support spindles, & even a needle felter! Mostly it was visiting with new & old friends though, & I just wish I could have sat in on ALL the conversations!

For more photos of this year's gathering, check out my 2nd Annual Pie & Beer at BSG set on Flickr. Be sure to tag yourself if I didn't identify you, & feel free to leave a note for Don - I'll be passing on comments to him & thanking him for generously sharing his photos.

See you there next year!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BSG & a New Start

Almost an entire YEAR since my last blog post? Yup. Busy? Yes. Sick? Yes. Uninspired & unmotivated? Yes & yes. But I feel like I've got my blogging mojo back, & I hope you'll find something interesting in these posts once again. Here's to a new start!

Since I just returned from Black Sheep Gathering, pumped from seeing friends from near & far, meeting a whole new crop of fiber people, & generally having a wonderful time, I thought it would be the perfect way to jump into VWorld 2.0.

This year I traveled with Ace Vandenack, the Romney sheep breeder behind Ace in the Hole Romney Ranch that I've been lucky enough to count as a friend for the past 5 years or so. We headed up Thursday morning, & he put me to work when we arrived pretending I'm not a dyed-in-the-wool city girl: I broke up flakes of fodder, filled & toted water buckets, & generally got in the way.

Friday I spent shopping & visiting, followed by the highlight of my weekend: the 2nd Annual Pie & Beer celebration that I hosted in the campground Friday night. There were folks from as far away as Alaska & Hawaii, plus the folks from Pocket Wheel & about 30-35 others. Tons o' fun! Thanks to everyone who attended and made it such a rousing success.

All 3 vendor buildings were fair bursting with wonderful opportunities for stash enhancement again this year. Here's what I brought home with me:

BSG 2011 - Haul o' Yarn BSG 2011 - Haul o' Stuff BSG 2011 - Haul o' Fiber

Wow, I thought I spent less this year, but after itemizing my shopping list, I'm not so sure! I also got some free shwag:
  • a sample bag from Jasmin & Gigi of the Knitmore Girls Podcast, including free patterns from Knitcircus, a Lo-Lo Bar sample from, Targhee fiber sample from Abstract Fiber, a skein of Crystal Palace Panda Cotton, a button, & a tape measure - shwing!
  • 2 braids of roving in the Ravelry fiber swap: Australian wool from Lime & Violet & South African fine wool from Spunky Eclectic
I missed Woodland Woolworks, RIP. I needed the expertise of their wheel repair guy, but was eventually able to fix my wheel squeak after Violinjodie's suggested that I tighten the maiden.

After spending the better part of Saturday hanging out in the always convivial spinner's circle out on the lawn, chatting with tons of spinners, & playing BSG Bingo, which was once again organized with aplomb by TheBon & Violinjodie, I was ready for the Ravelry Meet-up in the afternoon. Although I didn't win anything in the raffle this year, I'm confident that the bamboo roving braids I donated found a happy new home. The only sad note was the announcement at the end of the prize drawing that a newly-purchased wheel was stolen from the indoor Spinner's Circle. However, Yankee Greg & many BSG attendees came to the rescue: Greg took up a collection & raised enough donations to replace Jan's stolen wheel!

Saturday night's potluck dinner was amazing, as always. Unfortunately, I was too poopered to make it to the Spinner's Lead this year, but I heard that it went off without a hitch.

More hanging out & visiting Sunday, then at the end of the day I got to help Ace load up the trailer, doing my best to fill my shepherdess role, herding ewes. We were out the door and on the road by 4:20, and made it to my house about 10:30. BSG #4 for me, under my belt.

If you were there, I hope you had as good a time as I did, & if you weren't well, you should try to make it next year. Best fiber festival I've been to!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Tour de Fleecing

Tour de Rainbow yarn from COLORBOMB Creations

As a chronic joiner, I couldn't resist Tour de Fleece, the annual spinning challenge that runs concurrently with the Tour de France. 'Riding' for Team COLORBOMBers, Team Rogue, and Team Lendrum, I finished my first TdF yarn!

Tour de Rainbow, one of my Ménage à Trois™ style yarns, is 206 yards of stripey, bright goodness! It is superwash BFL fiber that I got from Trish at Rogue Adventures on Etsy. Can't recommend her enough!

Now, to find the right pattern for it...

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