Finally, Octopus Thumbs

Okay, so I guess octopuses don’t really have thumbs. But now my octopus mittens do:

A finished pair of octopuses. I love them. The light green is pretty drab looking on its own but I like it paired with the dark green – looks less like it tried to be beige and failed.

Tentacles go around onto the palms:

There are some stupid long floats in this pattern but worth it, I think. The original cuff pattern looked kind of unclear to me so I changed here to a tidier row of suckers.

I was worried I might finish just in time for the end of mitten weather. But luckily (or unluckily,depending on your point of view) it got cold again. Oh March, always keeping us guessing.

Specs: Octopus Mittens knit in odds and ends of Verdant Gryphon Bugga.

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London Sans Octopus Thumbs

Y’all, I’m just back from London.

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Doesn’t it look Londony? I rarely take famous landmark pictures because it seems redundant in a world with postcards and stock photos but I think a few might be a legal requirement. What if I have to convince customs I’m really a tourist?

What with all my gallivanting I never got around to knitting those octopus thumbs.

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I better get to it before it gets too warm for mittens.

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All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See sounds like it might be about winter in Toronto. One assumes the sun is still working but it’s so cloudy you can’t really tell. I have a finished sweater and I was kind of waiting for some photoshoot sun, but you can’t see the light these days so I gave up and went the lazy selfie route:

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Simple sweater in Briggs & Little Regal, on of my most favouite rugged woolly yarns. I followed the pattern for Trust, although mostly just the yoke. It’s knit all together in the round; I’m not totally in love with the tops of the sleeve caps but I aim to master this so I can knit fair isle sweaters with set in sleeves.

Anyway, All the Light is not actually about me and my frivolous sweater adventures but about the Second World War. Which is to say, it’s pretty grim. Especially the Germany parts. I suppose you can consider it as a moral – even if you are Aryan (but especially if you are not) Nazi times are bleak and sad. Obviously you shouldn’t go down that road anyway on account of it’s wrong, but if that doesn’t dissuade you, here’s deterrent #2.

It’s well done, and I see why it’s popular but, man, it did not cheer me up on any cloudy winter bus rides. Why must Serious Litterchure always be so depressing?

What does cheer me up is Octopus Mittens! They just need thumbs. Details…

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The Soul of an Octopus

Right before my library branch closed for renovations, I grabbed The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, partly because I’ve read some of her other stuff but mostly becasue Octopus! (I’ll miss you serendipity. I have to request all my books online now.)

Octopuses are always fun. Apparently octopi isn’t the correct plural if you’re an etymology nerd. Which I’m not and I kind of like how it combines octopus and pi – a cursory Google Image search turned up surprisingly few memes around this. Get on it Internet! Nevertheless, it just seems like good manners to stick with the book’s convention.

Grammar settled, Montgomery heads off the the New England Aquarium and befriends various octopus inhabitants. I saw an octopus at the New England Aquarium a few years ago and found myself wondering if it was one of the ones in the book. Octopuses are clever and will turn their ingenuity to escaping if not distracted by visitors, games and predicting word cup winners. When you hang out with an octopus, you stick your arms in the water and it grabs you, and sometimes your friends since those eight arms are great for multitasking. Like a hug, but with more tentacles and suckers.

The sad side is that octopuses don’t live that long. Fair warning: octopuses die in this book. In a way I realize this is all about one’s point of view – like an octopus might feel like 5 years is a long, full life. But at some point you have to start wondering if it’s worthwhile being born at all.

On a more cheerful note, it reminded me how I was going to knit Octopus Mittens ages ago but never did. I’ve got the pattern and yarn and it’s supposed to rain this weekend….

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Station Eleven

Happy 2017 y’all! Maybe in the spirit of the New Year and New Starts I’ll turn this page into a place that dispenses wisdom and helpful tips. Because I have a tip for you: When you are on a night train to Toronto, don’t start reading a book where the end of the world as we know it starts in Toronto. It’s kind of creepy.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is the kind of science fiction that is also literature (my edition had those ragged deckle edges – fancy!) It starts in Toronto when an actor dies on stage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan, a paramedic-in-training who happens to be in the audience comes to his aid but too late. Then he walks home through the streets of Toronto and it gives me this absurd thrill of recognition – Yonge St, Carlton St, Allan Gardens, I’ve been there! But also it’s creepy because meanwhile he gets a call from his doctor friend at the hospital that it seems a disastrously bad flu has come to town. Pandemically bad, even.

Then everybody dies. (Well, nearly everybody.) The lights go out. No phones, no planes, no antibiotics. We flip back and forth through time. The actor before the apocalypse, his ex-wives, the paparazzi, Hollywood. And after, The Travelling Symphony travels around the Great Lakes (hey! I’ve been there too!) performing Shakespeare and symphonies for the towns of survivors. Because, as we have apparently learned from Star Trek, survival is insufficient.

And if you are on a train hurtling through Southern Ontario you might find yourself staring out into the dark, wondering if out there the world has ended already and you just don’t know yet. (Spoiler: It hadn’t.)

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On the Bright Blue Side

This fall has seemed hard what with one thing and another. Stuff at the day job, construction outside my window, renovations at the library, Donald Trump winning an election that was not for Most Obnoxious Jackass.

It’s about time for things to turn around. Instead of being annoyed by the annual Absurdly Early Mall Christmas, I’ve embraced it as a sign of good things to come. I love Christmas! Trees are pretty. Why not bake some gingerbread?

And another entry on the good side of the ledger, new socks:

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Pattern is Katniss. These were perfect bus knitting – simple but not plain.

In these Mad Max/Hunger Games days, surely we all need to be prepared with good socks. (And probably hard liquor. Um, I might need to go to the store.)

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In Which It Is Too Damn Hot

It is stupid hot here and it seems my life has been on hold for the past several weeks while I eat ice cream and wait for it to cool down. I’ve been knitting a sweater but that seems an exercise in futility since obviously I will never need such a thing again.

But I did read The Brass Giant by Brooke Johnson and I can’t quite decide if I didn’t much care for it or if it’s just that it’s hot and I hate everything. I wanted it to be about clockwork automatons and schemes, which it is, a bit. But there is way too much romance for my liking. Possibly because it is too hot to hear about warm embraces – just standing next to people on the bus is gross. (Is there a genre about hooking up with snowmen? I think that could do well.) But even so, it just seemed too much. I mean, surely when you are escaping from prison you should focus on the task at hand rather than daydreaming about making out. (Disclaimer: I have never escaped from prison. Perhaps that is actually the secret to success.)

Know any good books about polar exploration? I might need to take a field trip soon.

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