Blood Magic Hat

Oh man, y’all, I just finished reading Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton and the title does not lie because there sure is a lot of blood. The magic here is pretty much 1) have special blood 2) bleed on stuff 3) make a wish. This means there’s a lot of room for the romance, which is a shame. On the plus side they hook up pretty early on, sparing us the “suspense” about whether they get together. On the down side gives us way too many pages about how madly and desperately in love they are, since they just met 20 minutes ago.

Aren’t you guys supposed to be fighting evil? Maybe it’s time to stop making out and go bleed on something?

At least all this blood goes with my new hat:

I made and Antler hat for my dad this Christmas and decided I wanted one for myself. Yarn is Malabrigo Worsted.

Let’s meet in the graveyard. I’ll bring my hat and a knife. You bring the mysterious spell book.

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H Is For…

Hawk! No, hats! Wait, both!

Of late I’ve been reading H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and knitting hats. Just further proof that it’s always a non-stop party around here.

I picked up Hawk because I swear every other book at the library was about some war or other, so obviously the memoir about grief and falconry was the cheeriest thing going. Her father dies, which is sad (but less sad than the Holocaust, why is literature so depressing?) and she decides to train a goshawk named Mabel. As you do. Falconry is something I know basically nothing about, so that were interesting in the sense of “Huh. People do this? Who knew?” My experience of hawks is pretty much limited to someone pointing up and me going “Sure, I guess that could be a hawk.”

Also, it seems there is a lot I didn’t know about T. H. White. Mostly that he also trained a goshawk, badly. I feel like this book either needs more or less T. H. White. Did you have that roommate with the friend who was perfectly nice, but always at your house? It’s kind of like that – I’d start getting interested in Helen and Mable and then, oh, T. H. White is sitting in the good chair again talking about hawks and you know he’s not going to wash that glass either. But I could possibly read a biography about him. Get your own book, T. H. White!

While I don’t know a lot about hawks, I do know a lot about hats. I knit a couple as presents during this year’s festive rush. Alas, I didn’t take photos (because festive rush) but it would seem it sent me into  a hat jag.

Gather, knit in Malabrigo Twist. The smocking hits the sweet spot that’s not monotonous but still easy enough to watch TV.

And I may have cast on yet another hat. More to come.

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It’s The Simple Things

If you ask me about things I love, probably “apples!” isn’t the first thing that would pop into my head, just cause they’re such an ordinary thing. Then I picked up The Ghost Orchard by Helen Humphreys, which is a nice book about apples in North America. It even has pictures  – in the early 1900s the FDA hired watercolourists to paint apple varieties. They look pretty tasty. Now that you mention it, I do love apples – so lovely and crunchy and autumnal.

And, I love a good simple sweater. I don’t think of myself as a particular fan of black, but I wear this one all the time. (In approximately half of all pictures taken of me I’m wearing that sweater and drinking a beer. I can’t quite decide if that’s a good or bad sign about my life.) So, another simple black sweater:

No pattern, just basic set in sleeves with garter ridge edgings. Knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Targhee Worsted, which is another giant ball yarn. I used 2 skeins and alternated which gave me a constant feeling I was going to run out of yarn – I was on the last ball from the very beginning. Luckily all worked out and I’m up one basic black sweater.

Pass me a beer, will you?

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Strange The Sweater

So y’all, I read Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I’ve been musing about it for the past few days and I still can’t quite make up my mind about it.

Our hero Lazlo Strange develops a passion for stories about a mysterious far away city and then unexpectedly gets a chance to travel there. So far so good – exciting adventure, dream fulfilled, etc.

But then things get so very grim. It transpires that Bad Things have been going down in Weep. There’s some cool stuff in here but also so much rape and death. Obviously “everything’s fine” isn’t much of a plot, but “worse and more worse” isn’t always what I’m looking for in a book either.

Also I hate cliffhangers. Now I’m wondering about all the loose threads but if/when I read the next one I’ll be trying to remember what happened before and why I should care.

I feel like I should have something blue to show you, but I finished the red sweater:

Oh, it’s red like the blood of innocents!

Specs: Cabled Turtleneck from an old Vogue Knitting in Colourmart yarn (same stuff as this blue sweater – I love it for cables) I shrunk down the sleeves and left off the turtleneck.

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Shawl: Done and Done!

So, I thought I posted some photos of that finished lace shawl but apparently I only thought about it. Life is a constant surprise to me that way – I’ve also given some thought to cleaning the kitchen floor and it doesn’t seem to have helped at all.

Anyway, it’s done!

I’m not totally happy with the blocking. Usually I block lace on my bed and all the while I was knitting this I mused about how it was probably going to be too big and how would I handle that. In the end I cobbled together a blocking surface with towels on the floor. It didn’t hold the pins that well that well and also it turned out that not only is my bed too small, so is the open floor space in my apartment. I couldn’t stretch it quite all the way without moving more furniture than I wanted to.

When I move to a bigger place we’ll have a bigger and better blocking party. I think explaining to my next landlord how I need more space for lace can only make me sound really normal and reliable.

I’m still pretty pleased with it though. I made this! With string!

For those of you wondering when I intend to wear a giant lace triangle I have to say I don’t know. Mostly I use all my knitted lace as scarves under my winter coat, but I might choke myself with this much wool scrunched around my neck. I think one might need a voluminous skirt to really pull it off – the Victorians had this down. Mostly I just have it draped over the back of a chair where I can admire it when  I pass by.

It suits the chair, no?

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Flavor

You know what I love? Things that are delicious! Which is basically why I picked up Flavor by Bob Homes – I hadn’t heard of it before but the cover looked tasty. (You know what I do not love? Flavour spelled without the U. American spellings don’t generally bother me as I’m reading and I try not to be uptight about this, but a title in big font? Makes my eye twitch.)

Anyway, there’s some neat stuff in here. Like,I have long wondered, even as a picky kid, why broccoli is such an archetypal loathed vegetable. Apparently bitterness receptors vary from person to person so probably some people are actually tasting more bitterness in their broccoli rather than just being whiners. And now that I think about it, as a kid when we had the four tastes in school (umami wasn’t a taste yet, although Pluto was still a planet) I was kind of baffled by bitterness because the examples never seemed that similar or distinctive. I tend notice it most in beers, although obviously that wasn’t suggested for elementary school kids.

Also some cool stuff about artificial flavours (yeah, I’m putting back the U). Foods usually  have a bazillionty flavour compounds (approximate number) and artificial flavours are made by picking out a few of the most important chemicals. Reminds me of those drawings that use just a few lines to great effect. I wish there was more of this but alas, flavour companies are secretive on account of trade secrets and it freaks people out to be “eating chemicals.”

There’s also a bit about people who are working on tastier supermarket varieties of produce like strawberries and tomatoes, which have been bred for looks and easy shipping. I hope that turns out to be a wild success.

I feel like this post has somewhat of a “But wait! There’s more!” quality. It’s a broad topic and the chapters aren’t that closely related, which I see has annoyed some people. But I like variety. Almost as much as gratuitous U’s.

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Two Steps Back

Y’all, I finished that shawl! It still needs some blocking and photos and details like that. (More to follow.)

Which leaves me free to celebrate fall with a red cabled sweater. I’m making this one,  although not so incredibly yellow. (Don’t think I could pull that off, although it might be fun to try.) I cast on the other day and knit merrily along, all the while trying to ignore that nagging feeling that it’s too small. I mean, obviously it’s going to get bigger as I keep knitting, right? It’ll block out, right? It’s probably wrong, but I should just knit a bit more to be sure, right?

Pro tip: Do not ignore that nagging doubt. I don’t know why I never lean.

This much knitting:

Is now this much knitting:

Does that look bigger to you.

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