Since I have a lot of non-knitting time these days, I’m trying to distract myself with reading. At the moment I’m reading the third in a series; it’s called A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. I love this series enough that I actually preordered this one, but I’m only just getting around to it now since I’ve had a backlog of reading.
I guess this is good timing since I start school in a month and won’t have time to do anything ever again.
So, folks. What are you reading? Is it any good? What do you think?
Feel free to chatter in the comments. Book discussions are the best.
If you’ve been following my recent series of posts, you might wonder how I jumped from being totally obsessed with crochet to being a dedicated knitter. Though I learned to knit before I learned to crochet, I took to the latter much faster.
I thought knitting was too fiddly, and it was too difficult to fix things. I could fudge anything with crochet, so I went with the hook.
Recent times have also seen me attempting to knit once more. It didn’t go well. I can cast on and I can do the knit stitch quite confidently but then I notice I’ve dropped a stitch and instead of trying to work out how to fix this problem, my brain explodes and I spend so much time picking the bits of skull out of the yarn it’s not really worth it, you know? So I am not getting very far with the knitting needles.
Circulars. Yep, the moment I figured out how much more convenient they are, I could not stop.
It only took until March 2011, too. Though by this time I was fully entrenched in the craft community of my hometown, I had avoided knitting as a matter of course since I abandoned my first project. Then I discovered circular needles.
There’s the first example of knitting on my blog after so many months of crochet, and it’s on a pair of terrible, cheap, metal and plastic circulars. I say they’re terrible because I cannot stand knitting or crocheting with metal where I can help it; I’m a wood person all the way.
I find them so much nicer to use outside of the house since you don’t poke the person next to you on the train and your project is less likely to slip off the end. Absolute bliss.
These days I either knit on circulars or DPNs. I knit with the latter when I’m making socks or gloves/mittens, and circulars for almost everything else. I love being able to shove the project down onto the cord to stop it slipping off in my bag, and I love how little space it takes up compared to straights. It also doesn’t feel as heavy, since you can balance it in your lap.
I’ve been paying attention to how I use DPNs lately since people have asked me for tips once or twice, and I’m going to post a few tips I’ve found useful when I’m trying to avoid getting tangled in my own project or forming unattractive ladders up my socks.
What turned knitting for you from a passing interest to something more?
I was 10% through my collection of Agatha Christies rescued from various secondhand stores when my friend came to me and offered a full collection. Yep. That’s right. The full set in matching editions. I gasped and jumped at the chance and, while they’re currently in England because heavy to ship, they are one of my favourite things.
Agatha Christie always kept you guessing. Sometimes I even forget the bad guy in books I’ve already read. In honour of one of my favourite authors (and definitely my favourite mystery author), please enjoy a collection of patterns inspired by her greatness.
Spoiler: I know Maureen in real life so I am biased, but her patterns are gorgeous and very fun. I knit these socks and the pattern is enchanting and, even better, they make very comfortable and stylish additions to my sock drawer.
Considering she is the patron saint of knitters, Miss Marple should have her place in every wardrobe. This scarf is stylish and echoes many of the items in her imaginary wardrobe. Just be careful you don’t accidentally solve a murder while you’re wearing it.
Remember that talk about definitions and identity last week? It was fascinating and I have a whole post planned on the eloquent responses I received. As I started gathering book-related knitting patterns on Ravelry for this month I realised we don’t use the term ‘reader’ nearly enough.
Bookworm is a good substitute, yes, but it doesn’t cover the breadth of how I read. Yes, I read books. I devour them, to drag out an oft-used metaphor. I read seven books in January alone and I’m about to finish two in the next couple of days and yes, KN Reads will be returning soon. Books are great and I love them but I also read copious amounts of magazines, newspapers (easy access through work), and online news sites. I read poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. That’s not even getting started on the amount of blogs I read.
So why don’t we call ourselves readers as much as we should?
(Yes, I do have the Jane Eyre quote running around my head every time I write that word: Reader, I married him.)
Regardless of definitions and my usual noisy brain, Lord of the Ring feels like a core part of my being. The movies were my gateway drug into the lush, expansive worlds of Tolkien; enchanted, I walked away from the first movie and buried myself in the huge three-in-one tome my uncle had bought me a couple of years before. The size of it intimidated me and I put it aside until I realised the wonders it held.
In fact my name, Polo, is a nickname I picked up during my time in the old MSN chatrooms roleplaying as a hobbit. So yes, it is a core part of me.
I almost called this collection ‘Lord of the Rings edition’ but, considering the size of his world, I have changed it to ‘Middle Earth’.
I had to have this pattern at the helm. The level of detail and nerdiness enclosed in this double-knit scarf makes my geek self so, so happy. I don’t actually like The Hobbit all that much (book or movie); I read it after Lord of the Rings and was disappointed, but the story is important to the world and why not learn to double knit for such a worthy project? I would make it for my Dad if he wore anything other than dark blue.
Since I started with The Hobbit, let’s continue for another project. Mirkwood was the one place in The Hobbit that caught my imagination. There was a small wooded area near my home as a teenager that always smelled damp, even on dry days, and the trees were dense enough that not much light got through. It doesn’t exist any more (sacrificed to the New Road Gods) but in my head I knew it as Mirkwood. Even if I didn’t see any Elves.
What is it about fandom that brings out the crazy complicated fair isle mittens? Whatever it is, I want more of it. We’re moving on to Lord of the Rings now and standing in front of an impenetrable wall held closed by a riddle. When Frodo calmly gives the answer, mellon, I realised that Hobbits were far more awesome than I had heretofore realised and would need many of them in my imagination for the rest of ever.
A good leaf motif in knitting is always pleasing, especially when you say ‘leaf motif’ aloud. Even better is having one named after the greatest of Ents. My friend and I used to walk around the library at school doing big, dramatic, slow strides and announcing that we were Ents, which should give you some kind of an idea how popular and cool I was back then.
Maybe it’s the depressing lack of female characters in Tolkien but Galadriel captured my imagination more than most when I was reading the book. Lothlorien is an eerie, beautiful place, and Galadriel’s struggle against the ring matched its surroundings well. She fought against her own nature and won. Though we see little of her extensive history there are enough hints to make her well-rounded and, let’s face it, Cate Blanchett did a fantastic job in the movies.
Yes, she isn’t technically in the book, but she gives me an excuse to talk about something else: the appendices. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where, upon seeing a small novel worth of appendices, I got excited and dove right in. The story between Aragorn and Arwen was sweet, yes, but there were also words on the languages of Middle Earth and tidbits about hobbits. If you search the appendices carefully you will figure out where I got the name ‘Polo’.
“We’re going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: ‘Shut the book now, dad; we don’t want to read any more.’” – The Two Towers
Do you have any favourite Lord of the Rings patterns?
Doctor Who is one of my favourite shows. It’s been a part of my life for a long time: the first joke I heard on the playground as a British kid was a sign of how deeply the show is embedded in the national psyche:
At the time I had no idea what the joke meant or who The Doctor was beyond a vague impression of time travel, blue boxes, and daleks, yet I laughed at that joke and hummed to the theme tune if I heard it. This was the 90s, bereft of any steady Doctor, and they were dark times indeed.
We are lucky as geeks today to have so many shows to choose from and though I love so many others, it’s Doctor Who that nestles closest to my heart. I may have abandoned ship from the UK but there are things I miss: one thing (aside from the Indian takeaway near my sister’s house) is the buzz of excitement whenever something happened on the show, i.e. a new Doctor or a new showrunner. I can absorb some of that glee from the internet but it’s nothing like sitting on the bus and seeing two blue-haired old ladies discussing Matt Smith’s potential as a Doctor.
All that to say… I love Doctor Who. It means a lot to me. Going through all the Doctor Who patterns on Ravelry has been a joy and I will be revisting this compendium one day. Next month I’m moving on to book-related knits, but Doctor Who is never far from my mind. You’ll be seeing this again.
In the final week I’m sharing the random bits and bobs I’ve seen that don’t fit in any of the other sections. Enjoy.
You know what the problem with socks is? No one sees them. Especially in a Canadian winter; I have never once taken my boot off in the -15 Celcius weather to show someone my fancy handknit socks, and it’s a damn shame. Solution? Mittens.
Mittens aren’t very good when worn on your tootsies but they’re great for keeping your fingers warm while simultaneously being much easier for people to see. With that in mind, let’s fly our TARDIS geek flag high and have a look at these wondrous Doctor Who mittens in the latest of this series of Timey Wimey Knits posts.
There’s some fabulous patterns out there, people. If you do any of these, let me know! I love them all.
That’s it for today, but pop by next Wednesday for a jammy dodger and the last of this series of posts.
As an aside for those who got this far: I just finished Amy and Rory’s run of the show and I miss them terribly, but my sorrow is somewhat lessened by the lovely Clara Oswald. I had forgotten how much I like her.
Okay, okay, try not to faint in shock. I know this is unusual and a little bit baffling. Polo, knit socks? Never! Except for those dozens of times, and all those socks I have planned for the future and all the skeins of pretty sock yarn and all the pairs suffering from Second Sock Syndrome…
These ones are made from glorious Manos del Uruguay. If you haven’t knitted with it before you need to head to your local yarn store and get some as soon as possible. It’s luscious.
The pattern is Business Casual and I’ve kind of stopped looking at it because it’s very intuitive, though considering my recent track record of messing up things when I glance away from the pattern for three stitches, maybe I should reconsider this. (You will be hearing more about that later, since I did the dumb thing and gifted the resultant mittens without getting photos.)
I’ve named them Come Along, Pond. Why? Well. Because they’re ginger, of course.
That’s what they look like inside but in natural light they’re far more red than it seems there. It’s orangey-red rather than just plain orange. This is a closer match to the colour:
Can’t you feel how soft and smooth and fluffy that yarn is through the screen? You know you can. And isn’t it pleasing that the two-stitch cable pattern splits from the 2×2 rib of the cuff? Yes, yes it is. These socks are a dream to knit and my saviour in between fun but difficult patterns.
As an aside: I’m knitting them on my only pair of cubics and they’re great. No better than ordinary DPNs for me, though some people swear by them. The best thing is how they line up so neatly when you lay them down on the table. No more abrupt squats to pick up escaping needles!
Though squats do give you a fabulous derriere.
Amy Pond is one of my favourite characters in Doctor Who because she gets to live out such a huge part of her life and, more than most companions, she has the control. She says when she’ll go with the Doctor and when she won’t. She manages a life with her husband and the rest of their family and yet still gets to go off on adventures with her alien friend. She’s also totally hilarious and a bit mental, so I dig her.
These socks are in her honour as I come to the end of Eleven’s time in the show in my binge-rewatch.
Onwards I go through my Doctor Who binge, the first I have done since I started watching it. It’s fun to view them all in order and refresh my memory on so many characters and episodes that I had forgotten.
I just watched the Wedding of River Song and oh, how I love her. She’s smart, she’s capable, she’s brutal. She parades into the Doctor’s life and doesn’t apologise for it. Though morally she’s not a particularly good person she does her best for the people she loves and boy, does she have good hair.
Sometimes Doctor Who can be a cheesefest (which is why I can’t convince my girlfriend to watch it) but on the whole it’s full of complex characters and big emotions. It’s easy to cry when watching Doctor Who but it’s just as easy to laugh.
Since I shared some of my favourite Doctor Who socks last week, here are a few more to warm you – this time with some variety. Tune in on Friday to see my completely-not-themed-but-still-counts ‘Come Along, Pond’ socks (you’ll see).
I’m in love with the Companions today so you’re getting ones themed around them, the constant complement to our favourite erratic Time Lord.
Let’s start with the biggest (on the inside).
And yes, the TARDIS counts as a companion, even if it was only for one episode. Oh, Idris. (Perhaps it’s the Doctor who is the Companion there…)
I can’t remember whether I read Terry Pratchett or J.R.R. Tolkein first. Between them they were the catalyst for my jump into the world of fantasy and though one had his tongue more firmly in his cheek than the other, both inspired me more than any other author had before.
Terry Pratchett was not only an excellent author but an excellent man. His books helped my Dad realise how much he and I have in common, and has helped grow our excellent relationship. Discworld was funny and it was fun, but it was also enlightening and helped me look at our own world in a new (and more critical) way. Terry Pratchett was – and will continue to be – a huge inspiration to me.
So here are some patterns I’ve found that do him justice.
“Picture a tall, dark figure, surrounded by cornfields…
NO, YOU CAN’T RIDE A CAT. WHO EVER HEARD OF THE DEATH OF RATS RIDING A CAT? THE DEATH OF RATS WOULD RIDE SOME KIND OF DOG.
Picture more fields, a great horizon-spanning network of fields, rolling in gentle waves…
DON’T ASK ME I DON’T KNOW. SOME KIND OF TERRIER, MAYBE.
…fields of corn, alive, whispering in the breeze…
RIGHT, AND THE DEATH OF FLEAS CAN RIDE IT TOO. THAT WAY YOU KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE.
…awaiting the clockwork of the seasons.
METAPHORICALLY.” – Reaper Man
“The disc, being flat, has no real horizon. Any adventurous sailor who got funny ideas from staring at eggs and oranges for too long and set out for the antipodes soon learned that the reason why distant ships sometimes looked as though they were disappearing over the edge of the world was that they were disappearing over the edge of the world.” – The Light Fantastic