Catch Up: Books

People always talk about summer like it’s all picnics and trips to the beach, but in my experience there’s usually a lot of days were it’s too hideously humid to go outside and I’m not going to hang out in the park in the hot sun. I’ll be sitting next to the air conditioner with a book instead. At least I’m getting lots of summer reading done.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman: Do you have a hard time deciding whether you want to be a librarian or a secret agent? I mean, who doesn’t? Here you can be both and travel between alternate universes to collect books. As a bonus, hang out with a detective. Fun. Although the part with the silverfish is gross.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson: Ursula mysteriously gets some life re-dos. And some of her lives really need do-overs. Set in the early twentieth century which does seem to lend itself to bad outcomes what with all the wars and stuff. I never much cared for the name Ursula but it kind of grew on me. Maybe one day I’ll have a cat called Ursula and call her Little Bear.

The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb: Ah, refreshing! The Little Mermaid with opera. Nifty premise although I didn’t buy the ending. But at least it doesn’t cut out the grim parts a la Disney. That’s the interesting part to me – how the mermaid makes some steep and perhaps ill-advised sacrifices.

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner: Oh, how I love these books. Not my favourite so far but that is a pretty high bar.

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Catch-Up: Knitting

It’s July, which means it’s often too hot to go outside and also there’s always the Tour de France to keep me company while knitting by the air conditioner. I love cycling because it doesn’t make me feel bad about my life. Like, sometimes when I watch stuff I find myself thinking “Hey, I should be out having adventures/torrid love affairs/fighting crime too instead of sitting here.” But when I see people riding bikes up a mountain on a hot day, I think “Better you than me. Should I get a beer?”

Also, there are ample boring parts should one need to count stitches and stuff. (I’m given to understand this is part of the appeal of baseball but I always feel like there it’s more a wait than a lull and it drives me nuts. Just throw the pitch already!)

All of which is to say, I’m knitting a lace shawl – this one, but mine still looks like this:

I’m past the easy part and at the part where you have to pay attention and also where the rows get long.

I’m also making a boring blue sweater. When I dug out my summer office sweaters they were fewer and shabbier than I was expecting. I searched the mall for some light cotton sweaters but, given the complete non-availability of such a thing, apparently I’m the only one who expects to spend much of the summer in an air conditioned office. (Probably everyone is out having adventures/love affairs/etc. Huh.)

So I bought yarn instead. At the rate I’m going I should have my summer sweater just in time for fall.

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Long Weekend Socks

Ah, Canada Day! When there are usually train rides and fireworks. I’m from Ottawa and generally try to go back for it, unless July 1 is a Wednesday or something. (When I found a nation our national day will always be a Saturday. I was going to say there would be beer but I think my current nation pretty much has that covered.)

Whenever I go home, I suffer from the delusion that in addition to the train ride, I’ll be lounging around, sleeping late, reading, knitting. Why, I’ll be able to knit a whole pair of socks with no trouble at all!

I cast on on the train.

(Still life with train pretzels.)

This is about how much you can knit between Toronto and Ottawa:

(Still life with train port.)

But then I invariably spend the whole time running around town, trying to catch up with various friends and relatives while still spending enough time with my parents that they think it’s worth hosting me. And people say I’m not an optimist.

It rained a lot though, which was a plus on the socks side – although a minus in pretty much every other way. While eating dinner on a friend’s balcony in a thunderstorm she said this would be pretty cool for a spooky holiday like Halloween but not so much Canada Day. I tried to make up something where we were being haunted by the ghost of Sir John A. MacDonald but somehow I don’t think that will become a beloved Canada Day tradition.

As it turns out, you can knit most of a pair of socks on a train trip and a rainy weekend.

And if you suck it up and knit them Tuesday night instead of doing something useful like getting groceries,:


Specs: Plain old stocking stitch socks in Nerd Girl Yarns Stomp & Bounce; colour is How Do You Polish Rust. (I am apparently insufficiently nerdy to get a lot of the references in the colour names. Who knew I could be described as “insufficiently nerdy?”)

If I were really organized I would have used some appropriately Canadian yarn, but you can’t have everything. Do you think John A. MacDonald will come and haunt me?

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

After being pleasantly surprised by Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter a while ago, I thought I’d give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a try when I found it in the pile of cast off books in the laundry room. (Sadly it seems the people who had good taste in books have moved away. Lately someone has unloaded a lot of French grammar books. I don’t know how many editions of the Bescherelle have been published but there’s a pretty substantial percentage of them on offer downstairs.)

Anyway, I was feeling kind of optimistic about this one but alas, it meets the expectations I originally had for Abraham Lincoln. I mean, in a way I feel like I shouldn’t complain since it does what it says on the tin – yes indeed, there is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Elizabeth and Darcy get together with occasional intervals to fight zombies or discuss same. But the zombie plot doesn’t go anywhere. They just kind of lurk in the background looking for brains and being a nuisance. It’s like the opposite of every action movie with the gratuitous and distracting love story. I hate that too.

Well, I guess maybe I’ll head to the laundry room and start working on my French. Hey neighbours, get better taste in literature.

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Bonus Voyage

I’ve been off gallivanting again – went to Puerto Rico at somewhat last minute short notice. I’d never even thought about going till a friend asked me if I wanted to and I was like “Well….I don’t not want to.”

I meant to text her “bon voyage” at the airport but autocorrect decided to go with “bonus voyage” and it kind of was.

Palm trees!

Old city wall. Somehow I don’t expect there to be old stuff in the Carribean but San Juan is well supplied with historic architecture. Also humidity.

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Royale: Done and Done!

So I made pretty good progress on those sleeves I was working on, then took a few days to get around to sewing them in – which is the hardest part sometimes. But the blue sweater is done:

Yes! And the weather even cooled down this weekend so I got to wear it.

Specs: Pattern is Royale and yarn is coned stuff from colourmart, my latest obsession. I swapped out the twisted moss stitch for good old seed stitch, which looked a lot better (not sure if the problem was me or the yarn) and also saved some twisted stitches. Also raised the neckline a bit. And misread the starting rows so didn’t do any cable crosses in the ribbing. We’ll, uh, call that a modification.

Meanwhile, I’m knitting entrelac.

It’s like eating chips – just one more square. I may need a beer to go with it.

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Now, Where Was I?

I think I’ve mentioned a time or ten how I’m an easily distractable person who struggles with series. I read a book or two and wander off, or I’ll be waiting for the next one to be published and kind of forget about it. Last year (or earlier maybe?) I read A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab which is about several Londons that exist in separate worlds. I love a parallel universe! Fun! Then, I dunno, I got distracted and never read Book 2, A Gathering of Shadows till now. And I kept wishing I could remember Book 1 better.

Then I went to check the library for Book 3 and lo, the library website is having technical difficulties. Of course I’ll remember to check back later, right? This time things will be different!

Likewise, I was knitting that blue sweater but cast on a scarf for train knitting. Which naturally I kept on knitting at home. What sweater?

Let’s all pretend I have trimmed that stray end.

Pattern is Close To You which has the awesome features of being super simple and also letting you knit till you use up your yarn. It would be a good one for multicoloured yarn.

So then I picked up my sweater again this weekend. Man, I sure wish I remembered those cable charts better. One more sleeve to go!

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