Wardrobe Crisis

My perpetual wardrobe crisis is that I never seem to have pants that fit. But also, the fashion industry is destroying the planet. Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press provides enough cheerful reading about furs, wastewater, pesticides, recycled polyester, exploited labour etc to make you consider giving up clothes altogether. (Although, please don’t.) So often these kind of things are from an earnest environmentalist point of view that just can’t understand why there even is fashion instead of wearing the same sensible organically grown attire every day, so it’s interesting to see it from the side of someone who cares about fashion.

I sometimes feel like we have this weird cultural hangover from when clothes were valuable and expensive. Like, we merrily buy and donate them without feeling wasteful because we believe that surely someone will want them. Obviously a poor child would be grateful to have this frayed T-shirt. A pioneer somewhere woman is going to make a patchwork quilt with this. Sadly, probably not. Turns out there are only so many rags the world needs.

Nevertheless, I am totally part of the problem. Despite my perpetual pants shortage I have way more wool socks than any one person needs. And I made some more:

Pattern is Ridges and Ribs, yarn is Smooshy Sock. Took a few rounds to get the hang of the slipped stitches but smooth sailing once I did.

Do you think the sustainable choice is just to start knitting pants?

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Summer Reading

I vaguely recall that as a kid I read a bunch of books with kids who had summer reading lists. They would grumble about it but I was kind of jealous.

Some list-less summer reading:

Planetfall by Emma Newman: Colony on a faraway planet where there is a terrible secret. Or perhaps many terrible secrets. So good and so sad but has one of those wait, what? kind of endings.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge: Faith’s family rents a house on an isolated island in an attempt to escape a terrible secret or maybe just some gossip about her natural historian father. Did he fake those fossils? Scandalous! Then he dies in mysterious circumstances. At least Faith thinks they’re mysterious and sets out to find the killer. And then things take a weirder turn. It would be easier to be sympathetic if the father was less transparently awful, but I love this anyway; I’m always a sucker for old timey science.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin: Everyone in the known universe loves these books, which is usually a guarantee that my contrary heart will be unmoved. I do get it this time: the world building is super-cool. Geology magic! What more could you want? But what with all the grim apocalypse it’s not much fun. Sort of like that acquaintance you admire but would never invite for a beer. Nevertheless, I’m midway through book #2.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers: Despite my lukewarm feelings about the last one I picked this up for bus reading. Sometimes one doesn’t want to read harrowing apocalypse stories on the bus. This book feels a little more substantial since it’s about Lovelace trying to cope with being an illegal AI and also Pepper’s traumatic backstory. I mean, I shouldn’t complain about bland niceness when the alternative is child slavery, right?

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Textured Pullover

When I went to put away my hats and mittens this spring, I happened upon a few old skeins of cotton yarn that had been sitting unloved for, uh, years. I had knit it up way back when and then ripped it out, and had a vague plan of using it in something textured to disguise the residual kinkiness.  But you know, sometime in the future.

Then I found it again and it turned out the future had arrived, much the way dentist appointments always seem to sneak up on me, except more fun. Hey, a sweater happened:

This was finished a couple of weeks ago but I just took some pictures now since it was too hot to contemplate even a short sleeved cotton sweater.

There was a scant sweater’s worth of yarn – I swear there must be a bit more around somewhere but haven’t found it so far, even after I finished all the ends. Which makes the obvious plan to go top down in the round, but I’m skeptical of seamless cotton, so worked in pieces here. The part where I ended up having to rip back and shorten the first sleeve was character building, right?

Specs: Pattern is Textured (Or Not) Pullover Option (textured, obviously) and yarn is ancient Butterfly Super 10 Cotton.

Now I just need a few occasions suitable for a short sleeved sweater. (Usually I feel if it’s cold enough for a sweater it’s cold enough for sleeves. But hopefully I can make it work – after all, autumn is coming.)

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Time For Time Travelling

As a kid I must have read approximately a billionty books where somebody travels through time for some reason. Charlotte Sometimes comes to mind, as does The Root Cellar, and I know there were a bunch more. Along with checking for hidden worlds at the back of closets just in case and searching for secret passages just in case, I also had the vague feeling that I should be prepared for unexpected time travel. Y’know, just in case.

Oddly enough, none of that ever happened, but the practical sounding title of How To Be A Tudor but Ruth Goodman reminded me that,well, you never know. (See also, How To Be A Victorian.) It goes through a day in the life, from what you wear to where you sleep. There are tips and facts about washing, meals, religion, education. So useful for the time traveller! And, time travel aside, day to day is the part of history that’s most interesting to me. Never mind who won that battle, what was it like? What shoes were they wearing? What were they having for dinner? (Pottage, probably.) Fun book, even if it never ends up coming in handy.

Incidentally, it just occurred to me that while my parents’ house definitely didn’t used to have a secret passage, they’ve done a lot of renovations since I moved out. Maybe they added one? Maybe that’s why it all took so much longer than expected. I should probably check next time I’m there. Just in case.

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An Unkindness of Magicians

People always talk like winter is the time to stay in and read, perhaps next to a crackling fire while sipping mulled wind. Which is nice and all, but to me summer is prime reading season. When it’s too hot to go anywhere or do anything, obviously you should just give up and grab a book. And maybe a beer.

Summer reading seems off to a lukewarm start with An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard. It has a fun premise: the Unseen World (ie rich, snobby magicians in New York) are having a ritual tournament of magical duels to the death and Sydney shows up out of nowhere and beats all their smug champions. Take that, corrupt establishment!

But also there’s a serial killer, and a girl whose friend was murdered, and sometimes magic isn’t working right anymore, and this guy got disinherited and there are some lawyers, and secret relatives, and it just seems like too much going on and the book plays all its cards too quickly. We breeze through most of the duels, because Sydney’s just too good for most of them to be suspenseful. The villains and their villainy are too obvious too early on. When Harper proves who the killer is, it’s not exciting because we already saw him kill someone a few pages ago.

I feel like any one of the sub-plots could be an interesting story on its own. I would totally read a book about magicians’ lawyers and their wacky clients. Or a murder mystery about a magical serial killer. But they didn’t get enough space here for me to get really invested in them or warm up to all the characters, so they mostly just seem distracting.

Maybe this should have been a series instead?

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Hey, anyone remember that striped sweater I was working on before I chucked it aside to knit fair isle hats?

Not to worry, it got finished

(Kindly disregard the mess in the background. They say the camera adds 15 pounds and I swear this is most true for random crap in the background. The apartment is totally 15 pounds tidier in real life.)

I knit a Tempest way back when, and got a couple of compliments on it that weren’t followed up with “did you make it yourself?” So I was motivated to make something similar. But, my friends, you may note that the original sweater has rather a lot of buttons to sew on. Wouldn’t it be simpler to skip all that? And I’ve never been a fan of the lightweight yarn at loose gauge thing.

So I basically just kept the stripe pattern and knit it up into a plain pullover at a more normal gauge. The striped sleeves mean it takes 1.5 skeins of each colour, at least for me; plain sleeves used up most of 2 skeins of the dark purple and 1 of the light, which feels tidier. (And I am all about the tidiness. Yes.)

Yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in Plum and Lilac that I’ve had hanging around for far too long.

In other news, I started another sweater in some old cotton I found while putting my mittens away. Alas, I thought there was enough for 3/4 sleeves but turns out I was wrong about that, so I set it aside to think about what it did.

This has left me knit-less for the past couple of days. I should probably start another hat, right?

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Hat Struck

Remember The Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler where they run away to the Met? I love that book and might have scoped out sleeping spots at various museums. You know, just in case. The only thing better would be running away to a natural history museum. I mean, art museums are cool and all but natural history museums have dinosaurs.

Enter Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick which is about just that. Two kids, Rose in 1927 and Ben in 1977 both have occasion to run away to the American Natural History Museum in New York. As you do. Ben’s storyline is in words and Rose’s in pictures, which is fun. More books should have pictures! I would have preferred the ending to be less along the lines of one character explaining the answers to all the mysteries, but overall it’s so fun it seems silly to pick nits. And pretty to look at.

Speaking of pretty to look at, I finished another hat:

I had a bunch of leftovers from Franken-hat and apparently the hat bug hadn’t run its course, so I found myself fishing through my pile of single balls of Shetland wool for possibilities. Pretty, no?

Pattern is Bousta Beanie, which I’m a fan of – so simple yet striking. I may need to knit another ten or so in various colours. You can never have too many hats, right?

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