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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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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The Clockwork Scarab

I’ve probably mentioned a time or ten that I have a longstanding affection for Sherlock Holmes and related adaptations/spinoffs, which these days seems to mean a more or less endless list of things to read. (And watch – I’m perhaps the only person who was kind of lukewarm about the BBC Sherlock. The idea/aesthetic of it was cool, but the actual plotlines were kind of hit and miss. )

Which is to say  The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason is right up my alley because it’s about Sherlock Holmes’s niece Mina (Alvermina actually, in keeping with the Holmes famly’s taste for “ridiculous” names.) Also Bram Stoker’s sister Evaline, a vampire hunter who inspired his book. (I read Dracula in grade 9 and haven’t looked it since – I keep meaning to.) They get to solve a mystery in an alternate universe London where vampires are real, electricity is outlawed and Irene Adler works at the British Museum for some reason.

It’s a fun premise and a good bus read and they get to be in the British Museum after hours (I have a deep and irrational affection for being places when they’re closed.) And yet I found the characters to be two types that I’m kind of tired of individually and annoyed me together.

Miss Holmes is so very smart and capable – she’s learned a lot from her uncle, and is keen to put it to use. She’s not attractive but it’s cool because she’s to busy being smart to care about something so trivial. No one invites her to parties but it’s for the best because no one would ask her to dance anyway. So naturally male characters (au pleurial!) are obviously into her. And naturally she doesn’t notice because she’s so busy being plain and clever. It’s hot to be smart, you guys! Seriously, can’t a heroine be nerdy without those gentleman callers in the background reassuring us that of course she’s beautiful after all?

On the other hand, Miss Stoker is pretty and, unlike so many characters, has actually noticed. But she’s too cool to care, you guys! She picks her clothes for practicality and keeps stakes in her coiffure. She does get invited to parties but hides the invitations from her well meaning sister-in-law because obviously going would be a waste of time. Eligible young men are always asking her to dance and it’s so annoying. What’s more empowering than a strong female character who hates on stupid girly stuff?

Not like either of these is inherently the wrong way to be. (Although if you’re so! very! observant! maybe try to notice if people are flirting with you?) But I found myself thinking about a time I was at a bar with my gorgeous, charismatic friend and some guy said to me “So, you’re the smart one and she’s the pretty one, right?”

And I was like “……I disagree with the premise of your question.”

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Ah, fall! Prime knitting season! Lately I’ve been plowing along on that shawl from before. I’m onto the border, which feels like you’re almost done – it’s like a bindoff! And yet also like you’ll never be done – you knit 40-odd stitches for every stitch bound off. I just had to check the correct spelling of Sisyphean. As you do.

On the bright side, I did turn the corner yesterday:

Which means I’ve passed the halfway mark, which surely means it might be done someday. Right?

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The Madman’s Daughter

Lately I’ve been somewhat distracted from my usual knitting/reading/tea routine what with how the world seems to be full of portents of the apocalypse. All these hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires and Donald Trump have me thinking I should probably give Revelations a read soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Sheperd. The premise is fun – a re-telling of The Island of Dr Moreau from the point of view of his daughter. And don’t we all want to escape to a mysterious island somewhere? (Just maybe not in the Caribbean right now…) Alas, in keeping with the world in general it was kind of disappointing.

It takes a while to get to the island. There are a lot of ominous hints and I wonder if it would be more effective for people who haven’t read Moreau because I already knew where we were headed. But then isn’t the audience of a re-telling mostly hooked because they know the original? Then we get there and things take a love triangley turn.

Y’all, if you have a mysterious island full of creepy experiments do you really need to take the love triangle road?

On the bright side, I don’t think Revelations has a love triangle.

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