Thursday, 19 November 2015

My Summer Reads

I thought I'd catch you up with the books I've been devouring since I last did a 10 things post. Whatever else has got in the way or changed this summer I've still found time to read and I know some of the most popular items in my 10 things posts were the book bits. (I have read quite a few books that this might need to be a two part post!)


Post Amsterdam trip I switched from Amsterdam centric reading to thrillers and first up was Blacklands by Belinda Bauer - a story about a boy who's family had been devastated when his Uncle had gone missing as a child. The presumed victim of a serial killer who had never revealed that he'd done that particular abduction - let alone confirmed he'd murdered and buried the lad on the moors with his other victims. Years later the victims nephew decides he could mend his broken family if he could find out where his uncles body was and that's when things get interesting.

Next up was Divergent by Veronica Roth.  I haven't seen the film and I haven't read The Hunger Games either. This book is a teen-aimed novel much in the vein of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner (which I have also read.) I found it quite a page turner and I liked the premise that in the future civilised society is split into groups according to their strengths. To be Divergent means you could fit into multiple sects of society and that is something seen as a threat. I suspect if you liked The Hunger Games you'd like this. Although I really should read the Hunger Games myself.

A detective thriller up next: Under a Silent Moon by Elizabeth Haynes. I was completely underwhelmed by this. Although one of the best thrillers I've read in ages was her first book: Into The Darkest Corner. I think she's a better thriller writer than detective writer and I'm not sure I'll bother to read any more in this series of books.

Another thriller was finished next and unlike all the other books this was not on my kindle: A Simple Act of Violence by R J Ellory. As I've mentioned before I mainly read paperbacks in the bath these days and I found myself taking long bubble baths just to read more of this page turner. Yes, it's about a serial killer, but the most chilling aspects of this story are concerned in government conspiracy's at the highest level. Compelling and when I passed it on to my brother he said it was one of the best thrillers he'd read in a long while and wants to read more by R J Ellory.

Still in thriller mode I read: A Tap on The Window by Linwood Barclay. It was a kindle special offer of all of 99p and this is an author that Catherine had recommended previously via instagram. A middle aged man gives a lift to a teenage girl one night and when she winds up missing and her best friend dead, it implicates the man in a mystery with lots of twists and turns. Another thriller where I was completely hooked.
I'm too tired to read in bed even

The next bath time read was a dusty old hardback I'd picked up at a jumble sale years ago. The Franchise Affair by Jospehine Tey.  I'd seen the old black and white movie, although so long ago that I couldn't remember all the plot, which was good as I could read the book without a lot of prior knowledge. The mother and daughter owners or The Franchise - an old house at the edge of the village, are accused of kidnapping a teenage girl and holding her captive as a slave until she manages to escape. A scandal ensues and as the ladies reputation is shredded and they face imprisonment, a local provincial lawyer takes on the task of proving them innocent. I enjoyed the gentle style of it a lot and will look out for other books by this author.

Up next was a book often on recent book lists as a must read: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. If you liked The Road by Cormac McCarthy you may well like this too.  Yes, it's a post apocalyptic novel.  But probably one of the most gentle and poignant ones I've ever read.

Outbreak by Robin Cook was the bath time read. Ironic that at one point I was reading a book about a viral outbreak in the bath, whilst reading Station Eleven on my kindle - which happened to follow what happened after the Georgia Flu killed most people on the planet.  It was slightly different to what I remember of the film and a bit dated. However, it seemed strangely relevant in the light of the Ebola outbreak earlier in the year.

I think that's enough for this post. I'll be back next time with my Autumn reads.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Hats, scarves and bags!

I've had a cold - boo hoo. Actually it was pretty mild so I'm not going to grumble. However, I've been trying not to over do things and home cook food from scratch so I get plenty of nutrients. For much of this week, when I've not been at work (thanks to the rubbish weather.). I've been curled up on the sofa knitting or reading. The good news is I've finished my 6th hat and an infinity cowl. The bad news is I've pretty much run out of yarn again. Unless you count the cotton I don't like knitting with and left overs not suitable for my fancy Dr Who scarf.

First off the needles was the rolled brim knit hat - a free Ravelry pattern. I got a couple of balls of Lion Brand Amazing in Roses not knowing how much yarn it would take. (Most of my hats have taken just over a ball.) Amazingly this hat took just one ball with a good bit left over to add to my Fancy Dr Who scarf.

Rolled Brim Knit Hat 

Once I had knitted the left overs into the scarf it was time to turn my attention to the last section of The Timber Scarf. Another free pattern on Ravelry. I had to adjust the stitches for the yarn I was using as it wasn't the same as specified in the pattern. (It was easier to decrease stitches than grow a longer neck, just saying.) The first part of the pattern called for good old garter stitch and the second double moss stitch. The third was a stitch that was a bit holy. I didn't like it. It looked like I'd messed up. It would be better saved for different yarn, thinner yarn, where I'm sure it would look much better.  Nothing for it, I ripped it out and tried rice stitch. The instructions I had were pretty vague. I messed it up.  I ripped it out and decided on stocking stitch. It looked so lovely I ploughed on for the specified amount and cast off. Then I ripped that out because the sides were stupid curly, It was looking more like a tube! I tried again with rice stitch - this time with better instructions. There was more ripping out, I don't know what I did wrong. In the end (after lots of ripping out!) I ended up completing the final section in single moss stitch. It worked a treat.

Timber Cowl

Now with those projects finished and no new yarn I'm having to turn to sewing. So I whipped up a sewing project bag. I only had a fat quarter of these Charley Harper penguins and I wanted to make the pouch a decent width. So I left on the (larger than normal) salvage. It's so satisfying whipping up stuff from stash. If I hadn't faffed about for ages deciding what I wanted to sew and looking for the Leanne Fanny scrap pack I bought ages ago. (Which I think is lost for good.) I may have got on with even more sewing.

Charley Harper Project Bag 

Whilst I was looking for the scrap pack I came across some balls of yarn I'd bought years ago for some creative textiles work. Now I can make sense of the (no longer cryptic) details on the yarn band, I decided to knit up a simple scarf - letting the fancy yarn do the talking. This will be going into Mum's Christmas stocking.

Christmas making

And in case you're curious about the reading: On Halloween I started Others by James Herbert. I'd had it waiting to be read for years. Halloween seemed like the perfect time for a little spooky creepiness. Others is a supernatural love/detective story. It got more disturbing towards the end. But (slightly disappointingly) whilst it was a page turner, it was not the sort of book that kept me awake at night. I'll need to pick a new bath time read. Until then I'm back with the kindle and have started the next book group choice - The Road Home by Rose Tremain. I don't recall reading any of her books before.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Stitching through the day of witching

Apologises for what might be the worse blog post title ever! However, there was a lot of stitching going on during yesterday (Halloween) and I thought I'd share it all with you here. If I ever get the blog post finished. I seem to start far more than I actually finish and publish.

First up I sewed together the second attempt at the hat in the kingfisher Cashmerino. In my last post I mentioned how I messed up the first attempt and made it far too big. I used a different pattern and had knitted this up in the week. I'd checked the ribbed section was going to fit already by tying some different coloured yarn through the stitches on my needle and once they were secure I took them off and tried the band around my head for size. It was snug, rather than too small, it was ok to continue. That said by the finish I was still nervous about taking it off the needles and sewing it up and it got left on the needles for several days while I dithered. The unpicking was my least favourite part of the whole process. I got out my safety pins and pinned it all together and thankfully when I tried it on it fitted!)

My latest finished hat.

Whilst I was waiting for this to come off the needles I got stuck into some chunky yarn. It wasn't easy to knit up at first so there was a fair amount of undoing and I hated the stitch given for the last section. The holes in the design were just too big and silly. I knitted in stocking stitch only that's curled up too much and that will need ripping out and replacing. I've hopefully found a new stitch to substitute for the last 18" of the cowl. I love the yarn.

Timber cowl - double moss stitch

Then it was on to sewing. I was working on a my addition to the PIP round-robin-add-as-it-goes mini bee and whilst I was looking for my quarter inch quilters wheel I found my Mum's old knitting needles. With these plus those I've got myself I really felt it was time to make some kind of storage for them. I had a good browse on pinterest and decided some kind of roll would be best. I didn't follow one pattern in the end. Just made it up as I went alone. I now have a huge roll that can house a double row of needles (perfect if I ever take up crochet - because I'm not sure how many flat needles I'll need to store. Surely I have pretty much all that I'll ever need? Famous last words probably!)

Knitting Needle roll

Knitting needle roll

Once that was done I broke open the band on some new yarn and I've started knitting up a rolled brim hat. (yes, that is my 6th hat in case anyone is keeping count. But only the fourth I'll actually own given my second is for Mum for Christmas and I unravelled one too.) I seem to be addicted to hats like other people are addicted to sock making. Given by winter I'll probably have a hat for every day of the week, it probably will guarantee we have a freaky warm winter. Today it has been so hot! When the photo of me was taken above I was sweltering in a woolly hat and jumper. However, it would have looked silly if I was modelling it in a t-shirt.

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