Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Last Minute Christmas Stocking

 I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun knitting this afghan.  Each row that I stitch reveals a bit more of the design.  I constantly am telling myself, just one more row, okay, maybe two more.

Unfortunately, I have to put this project on a short hold to rush through another.
Son also asked for a stocking for his room mate.  Since they decided on a black and white decorating theme, I wanted to follow through with that.  I am using a basic pattern that I've knit several times before, though I will change the design on the leg to reflect the recipient.  This will knit up quickly in the worsted weight yarn I'm using.

Whew, this is that count down time for gift stitching.  The blanket doesn't have a set deadline since the baby is already arrived.  Of course the stocking needs to be finished ASAP.  Anything else that I have started will be finished when ever.  I learned not to sweat those projects that don't get finished according to a self imposed schedule.  I no longer  stay up till all hours stitching, the miserable feeling the next day isn't worth it.  Recipients of hand made items are willing to wait  a wee bit longer and if they aren't then I don't stitch for them again.  As long as I remember that I stitch for personal fun and enjoyment, then it remains something that brings me joy which is what I want.  I hope that you stay relaxed and let your stitching bring you joy even if you are working toward a deadline.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post



Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Bodybuilder Baby Afghan


As busy as I have been with work, I have managed to find some solid blocks of time to work on the body builder afghan.  Once I completed the design, I set to the knitting.  I am working from the bottom of the chart. I have only shown a portion of the chart at left so you can get an idea of the detail.  It is quite fun watching the design reveal its self as I complete the rows.

 Not shown in the design is the border that I added to size up the blanket.  Simple seed stitch  alternating with stocking knit stitch.

Shown in this photo is the body builder's left foot ( on the right side of the chart).  Each dark square on the chart is a purl stitch on the front side and a knit stitch when working on the back side.  I added the little diagonal lines to help with the stitch counting, but also to keep the back ground from being too boring.

In order to have these stitches show in the photo, I had to turn off the flash on the camera to ensure that there were lots of shadows.


In the midst of working on the afghan, I still had a pair of fittens to finish.  These worked up very quickly and I was able to give them to my friend when I saw her on the weekend.  She was thrilled with them.
I also gave her the blues pair, which are for her sister.  They will be winging their was across the country in her Christmas parcel.

As far as I can tell, I met my goal of fitten knitting this year.  It was smart to have started the first pair back in January so that I wasn't feeling pressure this month to be stitching late into the night.  I get great pleasure from creating gifts for family and friends.  It should never feel like a chore as that takes away an pleasure.  So please, pace yourself and enjoy what you are working on.  When it stops being fun, put it away and work on something else for a while.


Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post. 





Sunday, 26 November 2017

Win Yarn for your Charity Projects

The wonderful people at Yarn Canada are giving away $2000.00 of yarn to knitters and crocheters who make a difference by using/donating their projects to good causes.

You need to click this link to Yarn Canada and complete the entry form, indicating whether you are part of a group or an individual, and how you will use the yarn to make a difference.  Include photos of your previous projects/programs.

The contest is open to both Canadian and American stitchers. 

Good Luck to all who submit an entry.  Please share this information within the stitching community.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Needlework Tuesday - How's that Christmas Stitchin Going?

 As the weeks are counting down to the Christmas festivities, I am glad that I started my knitting projects back in January.  I've lost track of how many pairs of fittens I have completed, but it is probably around ten or so.  Shown at left is the second last pair of the year.  I love the brightness of this pair.  They are so inviting looking.  Once the ends are darned in, they can be sent off their recipient.
As soon as the above pair came off the needles, I cast on the final pair for the year.  This time, I am using a new to me yarn, Caron Simply Soft Stripes in Churchill Downs colourway. It feels as though it is slightly thinner than the other yarns I have been using, but I don't think it will make much of a difference.    At the rate I am going on these, they won't take too long at all to complete.

Last week I told you about the new afghan I am knitting for a friend of my son.  I am still working on the design, so unfortunately I don't have any photos to share.  Hopefully next week.  At this point I don't know how much more stitching I'll get done before the end of the year, hours of work have picked up significantly.  It seems that even though we celebrate Christmas every year, it comes as a surprise to shoppers that the 25th of December is approaching quickly.  If you have shopping left to do, don't put it off, get it done as soon as you can.  To help de-stress from the frantic activity in the store. perhaps I'll find that the blanket knitting will be most calming.  Time will tell, and I will keep you up to date with photos.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post. 



Friday, 17 November 2017

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

This is a wonderfully told tale that will keep junior readers laughing and eagerly turning pages.  Author Matt Haig knows what middle school readers like in a book and he didn't stop dishing it out cover to cover. 

Amelia Wishart is ten when she writes Father Christmas a letter asking for one thing, to make her mother well.  He fully intends to do all he and his magic can until multiple disasters strike in Elfhelm on Christmas Eve.

The story takes place in two locations that couldn't be more different: Elfhelm, where it is clean and only ever gets as cold as you want it to be, and in 1841 London, where it is dirty, cold and unfriendly place  to orphans.

The characters in the story are quite fun.  Amelia and Father Christmas both have strong personalities with a firm determination to get things done.  Mr. Creeper is just as his name predicts, he is creepy and not a nice man at all.  The guest appearances of a ruling head of state and a famous author are perfect.  One passage was hilarious and it took me several minutes to sop laughing before I could continue reading.  I was amused.

This is not a book for an adult to read for their own entertainment.  They should read it aloud to and with their children in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  The humour is mostly directed towards children, as it should be in a children's book.  Yes, there is potty humour and kids find this wildly funny.  This is bound to become a favourite that families will find themselves re-reading year after year.  You do not need to have read Mr. Haig's earlier book, A Boy Called Christmas, to enjoy this one.

I received an ebook review copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review.

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Planning a new project.

 My son has asked me to knit another baby blanket for one of his friends who recently had a little boy.  And then he said it would be really cool if I could put a weight lifter on it.  As you can imagine, there are no patterns for such an afghan that I could find. 

Time to get planning.  First, tension.  Looks good.  I have a lot of skeins of Red Heart Heathers in colour 4444 Thyme.
Next, I found a line drawing of a weight lifter pose that I felt would translate well to knitting.  I checked several sites for knitting graph paper, as knit stitches are not square.  They didn't match my tension. A little more searching and I found a site where you enter in the number of stitches and rows from your tension square and it will create custom size graph paper.

Print your own custom knitting graph paper.

 Next step is to transfer the image onto the graph paper.  This will be a new technique for me, so it might take a few tries, but I am up to the challenge.  Hope to have more photos of this for you next week.  Until then, keep stitching.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post. 



Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Socks Done, Socks Done

Socks are done!!!
 Did I mention that at long last the socks are done?  Yep, they are.  They are colourful, they are bold and they feel great on my feet and I suspect my sister's feet will feel the same.  You can just see the spiral decrease on the toes.
 A little bit of striping happening at the side of the foot.
The bottom has another slip stitch pattern.  Took me a while to get the hang of that one.  Other than a few yarn ends, they're done.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post. anything you finished this week, doesn't have to be needlework.  A book, a bag of halloween candy. It doesn't matter, as long as you finished it.


Monday, 6 November 2017

Kat & Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza

Moving provinces and starting at a new high school is almost more than Kat can handle.  Add on top of that her barely controlled anxiety issue and it's amazing that she even manages to get to school each morning. 

When the two term science project is announced, she has no idea who to team up with until Meg introduces herself.  Unknown to the studious Kat, Meg has a major issue, ADHD to deal with herself.  There is one thing that draws the two together, their love of  Lumber Legs.  He's a You Tube sensation who more often than not features epic fails of himself playing the very popular Legend of the Stone computer game.

I enjoyed the story of the girls getting to know each other even as there were trying so hard to hide their personal issues.  They were both trying to hide what they viewed at their own flaws, but they loved watching Legs share all of his.  The two came across as real teens.  Their discussions about everyday teen issues made it feel as though I was over hearing my daughter and friends.

This is the type of interaction that goes on in high schools across the country and has for generations.  The gaming aspect keeps it modern and relevant to today's teens.  This is a well told take that made me care about the outcomes for both Kat and Meg.

Cover image courtesy Harper Collins Canada

I received an advance reader ecopy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

#IndigoEmployee

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Nevermoor #1: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

A delightful tale that's a little bit scary and a whole lot magical.

Morrigan Crow has just one wish, to live.  She knows that is not going to happen.  Like all other children born on Eventide, she is cursed and destined to die with the coming of the next age.

All this changes with the unexpected appearance of Jupiter North and his offer of escape to Morrigan.  From the moment she accepts his strange but welcome offer, her life changes in ways she could never have imagined.

I was totally enchanted by this story.  Morrigan is caught up in dreadful plight not of her own making.  She want to be like other kids, have friends and play, but no one will come near her, not even her own family.  She is ostracised with no where to turn for help.

Middle school readers will enjoy following along as Morrigan explores the new life that Jupiter has brought her to.  He has opened the door, but then left it up to her to walk through and embrace the opportunities.

Author Jessica Townsend has created a complex world and her vivid descriptions have brought it to life.  I could clearly picture Morrigan and her new friend Hawthorne exploring the Deucalion Hotel where she lives with Jupiter and their many unusual guests.  I  think the smoking room, it's not what you imagine, would be my favourite place to hide away.  I love this story and eagerly await the next book in the Nevermoor series.

For younger readers, I  also recommend the magical series Whatever After by Sarah Mlyowski.  

If you like the idea of a magical hotel, then you'll also enjoy The Supernormal Sleuthing Service: The Lost Legacy by Gwenda Bond & Christopher Rowe.

Cover image courtesy Hachette Book Group.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

#IndigoEmployee


Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Staying Focused Equals Progress

 For the past week I worked really hard at keeping focused on these socks.  For the most part, I did really well.  A few breaks for sewing, but mostly I stuck with the knitting.  I am thrilled with how much I accomplished.

As a reminder, I am working the Windowpane Socks from the 2016 Craftsy free sock knitting class taught by Lucy Neatby.  I finished the first two pairs in the course in reasonable time, but have lagged far behind on this pair.
This pair is knit from the top down and I am doing both socks at the same time.  I have noticed that my tension is slightly tighter than when I was knitting the leg portion.  That's just fine as my sister has narrow feet.  I have about another inch and a half before I start the toe section.

You can see in this second photo, that there are three stitch patterns happening.  First, the window pane part on the top of the foot with the long loop.  Simple stripes at the side of the foot, and then a carried stitch on the bottom of the foot to tighten the length to match up with the shortening effect of that long loop on the top.  I did make a few errors on the bottom, but it's the bottom of the foot, it won't matter.

I am looking forward to gifting these to my sister at Christmas.  Then I am going to ask her for a new project.  She has a huge yarn stash and far more projects than she'll get to in a reasonable time; I might as well help her along.  It's rather fun to be challenged with a project that will take me out of my comfort zone .

Have you ever done that, let a friend pick your next project/class or received a kit as a gift?  Were you happy to complete it or did you struggle through out it's completion, or is it still sitting and waiting for your attention.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.



Monday, 30 October 2017

Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

A riveting story that unfolds in both the real world and the virtual world of Otherworld.  Simon and Kat have been inseparable friends since they were eight years old.  They even team up for their first foray into Otherworld.

Soon afterwards, Kat is injured in a horrific accident and is diagnosed with locked-in syndrome.  She can't move, but her brain is fully functioning.  When the people at The Company, designers of Otherworld, offer to include her in a a test of some virtual reality gear that will allow her to continue living her life online, her family readily agrees.

Unfortunately, all is not as it seems.  There appears to be some other hidden agenda, not just good will at play.   It is left up to Simon to figure out what is happening before something even worse happens to Kat.

This is a fast pace story that kept me turning pages late into the night.  I couldn't wait to see what surprises would be ready to spring on Simon at each of his moves.  It was hard to tell which of the characters to love or hate and who to trust.  I never doubted Simon nor Kat for a moment.  Not every one was who they seemed to be or who I wanted them to be.

While I feel that this book will have a large appeal to gamers, it certainly is not limited to that audience.  Along with the action, there is also the story of Simon and Kat, and their dedication to each other.  Otherworld is set up as the start to a new and addictive series.

If you enjoyed Ready Player One  and Armada by Ernest Cline, you'll love Otherworld.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

I received an advanced ereader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

#IndigoEmployee

Friday, 27 October 2017

Satellite by Nick Lake

I loved this book.  It is science fiction on the edge of becoming reality.  Limited space travel and space stations are here and it is just a matter of time before we go further into space.  This book addresses a very real issue, can humans survive being born in space/weightlessness and then could they ever transition to gravity.  It's something I have pondered many times before reading this story, 

From the moment I put my hands on it, I couldn't help but open the front cover and start reading, even though I already had three books on the go. 

Leo, Orion and Libra were all born on a space station orbiting earth.  Scientists determined that they would need to live there until they had physically matured enough to tolerate the forces of a trip to the earth.  Now as they all approached sixteen years old, it was deemed time for that trip.  As the calendar approached the day, plans were made and reviewed and reviewed once again.  The three kids knew what they wanted to experience once they reached the ground, after all, they had watched movies and news shows and figured they knew what to expect and what they had been missing.  It would be perfect, well, other than foreshadowing that said of course it wouldn't be.

That's all I can tell you without spoiling any plot lines.  Each time I figured out some plot line, a twist would develop and I'd be re-calculating what could happen next.  The cast of characters was great, I couldn't figure out who were being honest and who had hidden agendas.  Other than Leo's grandpa, he was excellent.  The perfect grandfather that all kids would want in their corner.  The bond between Leo and his grandfather felt so real, reminding me of my bond with my grandmother.  I'm sure author Nick Lake could write an entire book about grandpa's earlier exploits.  Leo's mother was an enigma to me.  How could she behave as she did, or was it an act of self-preservation. 

You don't need to know a lot about science and space to enjoy this novel.  It's more about the kids and their expectations versus their reality and how they and those around them deal with it.  How much control do the kids really have in their lives.  If you enjoyed The Martian by Andy Weir, you'll enjoy Satellite.


I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

#IndigoEmployee

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Arrow: Faery Rebels #3 by R. J. Anderson

Rhosmari is a faery and a pacifist, from the hidden green isles.  She has travelled to the mainland to find the stone of naming and return it to her people.  Dealing with humans and foreign faeries is not as straight forward as she thought it would be.  Along the way she will have to face some of her greatest moral challenges.

I loved this story.  It brought back the wonderful magic and mystery of the faery that I felt was missing in Rebel, the second book of this series.

As the story progresses, the fates of the humans and the faery becomes closely entwined.  The free faeries along with their human friends must finally defeat the Empress or the whole land could fall to her whims.  It is the story of good versus evil and whether  one can stand by and watch evil prevail or put ones self at risk and possibly change the outcome.

The is suitable for middle grade readers and older.

Faery Rebel Series

1 Knife  (Spell Hunter)
2 Rebel  (Wayfarer)
3 Arrow

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - Moving forward in baby steps

 I've been meaning to get a second set of animal pillows finished for a while now.  I got stopped at the step - sew in the zippers. Not my favourite step even though I have been sewing in zippers for forty years and do a good job.  I just don't like all the steps it takes.

Yesterday, I thought I would try a different approach.  I told myself, I didn't have to sew in a  zipper, I only needed to pin the zipper in place.  Step one (the fabric was already stitched together).  Once I had it pinned in place I went in the other room and knit for a while.  Then I went back to my sewing room and told myself I had one step to do, baste the zippers in place.  Once that was completed, I was able to go and knit again.

In the photo you might be able to see those basting stitches.  They are almost a matching colour to the zipper tape and it blends in real well with the fabric,  Those tiny little baby steps of progress have gotten me through what I see as the hardest steps of installing zippers.  Next baby step, top stitch the zippers.  Whew.

I am thrilled with any progress, it doesn't have to be the entire project completed for me to feel a sense of accomplishment.  If it's a step forward, I am happy.  When working on  long term project, I can't wait for success until the entire thing is finished, I need intermediate successes; hence the baby steps.

 I'm doing the same thing with the socks for my sister.  Each part I complete is a success, especially when you consider how long they sat around waiting.

The heel flaps are done.  Alternating pairs of rows in the solid and the variegated. It does look pretty.  Once I finished that step and read the next instructions, I realized that I made a mistake in the first row, I should have used 27 stitches instead of 25.  Not going to reknit for that.  Will just have to adapt later.
Baby step - turn the heel.  I liked the suggestion that you use both yarns for extra thickness and alternate, checker board style.  Cool bit it pattern.

Now I am set to pick up stitches back around and work the decreases along the instep.  At this point I am going to work on one sock at a time until I have to pattern re-established.  Then I'll go back to both socks on the one needle.

In the back ground in the breaks between these projects, I have been cutting t-shirts for a t-shirt quilt.  I am seeing light at the end of that tunnel.  I'm going to use the same approach, instead of looking at all the shirt fronts that have to go one the quilt, I am going to consider one at a time and move forward in those sturdy little baby steps.  I did the same when I started running.  I was amazed when I could run for one minute.  Then the next week it was two minutes until I could actually run for ten minutes without a stop.  Now when I go out walking with my Fitbit, the only way I get to my 15 000 steps is one at a time.  One step, then another.  Over the course of my walk , they add up and I reach my goal.  Since this approach works for me in so many ways, I'm going to maintain this outlook and keep moving forward.

We each have to do what works for us and not worry what others think or do.  Go for it and step by step, you'll get it done.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post


Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Purchase by Linda Spalding

After hearing author Linda Spalding speak about her new book, The Reckoning, I knew that I had to read it predecessor, The Purchase.  Ms. Spalding spoke with such passion and almost reverence for the trials that her ancestors struggled through, that I had to learn more about them.

At the end of the 18th century, Daniel Dickenson was forced out of his Quaker meeting house and his comfortable life.  Along with his children and new, young wife, they trekked south from Pennsylvania to Virginia to carve out a homestead and new life.  Along the way, and throughout the next two decades, Daniel and his family faced many challenges to their faith and morality.  Each family member had to find their own way to deal with these tests of faith.

I was captivated by this fictionalized tale.  From my comfortable life, I find it hard to imagine how difficult it was for Daniel to provide for his family.  In the current time when people seem to agonize over which flavour of expensive latte to order, it is helpful to be reminded of such hardships that others face even today.

I enjoyed the story telling approach.  I could imagine the author witting with her family relating the adventures of her ancestors.  Not a perfect retelling, but a remember oral account with some gaps and possibly careful omissions.  I was brave of Ms. Spalding to open up and reveal the skeletons in her family closet.  I would recommend this to readers who enjoy American history as well as family sagas.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

#IndigoEmployee

Friday, 20 October 2017

Graveyard Shakes by Laura Terry

An adorably cute, full colour graphic novel of two sisters recently arrived at boarding school.  Victoria is trying hard to fit in with the other snobby students, where as Katia is quite content to be herself even if that doesn't win friends.

Victoria is the typical older sister who wants to follow the rules and have her sister do likewise.  Katia is a lot more impulsive and fun.  I love the frames where she is wildly playing the piano.

They soon become involved in a graveyard plot that puts one of them at great risk.  To save her sister, the other has to place her trust in another, something which she finds hard to do and is against her nature.

Great themes of sisters, friendship and trust.  This is an easy to read story with lovely graphics.  It's not really  a Halloween story, but it does have a variety of ghosts and spooks for young readers to enjoy.

Cover image courtesy Scholastic Canada.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - I'm Done With Procrastination

 Ok, you heard it here folks, I am done with procrastinating.  It bothers me to stumble across unfinished projects, and I have oodles of them. I admit, I am a serial starter, but definitely not a finisher.

A few months ago, I had the thought that I wouldn't start new projects, that I would start tidying up, and as I came across unfinished projects, rather than stash them away for later, I would finish them.  It didn't go all that well. Something always got in the way.
Hubby is away on a business trip for a few days, so I am taking advantage of that time and have spread out all the projects that are stashed in the tv room.   There are a bunch of fittens that need to have ends darned in, and lots of yarn to be put away, one pair of socks that needs the toes grafted and that pair of socks for my sister that I have been avoiding.   I decided I want to give the socks to my sister for Christmas this year, so I have to start working on them.  I re-printed the pattern I lost, read it over to determine where I was, and started knitting.  I am working on both heel flaps at the same time.  It is knit back and forth alternating the two yarns.  So far I have learned that I need better lighting where I am sitting and knitting.  I am excited about these socks once again and can picture myself finishing them in a timely manner.  In those times when I am finding the lighting wrong for such fine knitting, I'll work on those fittens  and get them ready for mailing to their destination.

What a relief to have a plan again.  I'll have to get out my journal, start a fresh page and jot down these plans.  I kind of fell off that wagon a while ago.  One of the benefits of bullet journaling, is that you can jump back in at any point and just continue.

In the meantime, I did finish the second cup cosy.  It is so cute.  here's the link to the pattern I used.  It's from the blog The Enchanted Ladybug.

I will definitely be making more of these fun little things.  She has such a variety of patterns on her site that they could keep me busy for a while.

When I looked for some black embroidery floss to attached the button in the eye and to stitch the mouth, I couldn't find any.  I did find some wool in one of those loosely braided sets for darning socks.  One piece of the black worked perfectly for both tasks.

Thanks so much for visiting with me today.  I hope it hasn't been while you were procrastinating about one of your projects.  If it has, then I hope you have found some inspiration to jump back in and get it done.



Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

 I could not put this book down.  It is a totally captivating re-imagining of the modern world.

What if the influence of the British Empire had not waned, and if Victorian morality and courtly practises still held.  Author E. K. Johnston imagined that Queen Victoria devised a plan to weld the Empire together through strategic marriages of her children and grand children to nobility throughout her kingdom, not to that of neighbouring European countries.  Generations later, the plan has proved successful and the Empire thrives with a very mixed races population.

The current crown princess Victoria-Margaret is about to come of age and assume her duties.  Before undertaking those responsibilities, she wants one summer to live among and with her future subjects.  She travels incognito to Toronto to stay with her glamorous cousin Elizabeth.  She soon meets her family  friend Helena, to whom she is instantly attracted and they become the best of friends. This sets in motion a chain of events that they could never have imagined.

I loved everything about this story. The characters were young, just venturing into adulthood.  They thought they knew what they wanted, but when they walked through that doorway, they realized that there was far more to consider than their younger selves had imagined. 

I could not imagine having paid staff in my house such as a butler and an attendant to help me dress, though a cook would be most amazing.  I suppose if I had been born into that type of world, it would be common place, but to read about it and try imagining myself there, I don't get very far.    Ms. Johnston did a great job of re-creating the modern world as part of the Victorian era.  It felt authentic to novels I've read that were written in that time period.

I highly recommend this book.

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

#IndigoEmployee

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - The Pleasure of Learning a New Stitch

It is much easier to stay in ones comfort zone instead of stepping out and trying something new.  Why put yourself to the stress of learning a new skill when the old one will do.

As I was searching for a pattern for the next cup cosy to stitch, I found that I kept being attracted to the ones made up by The Enchanted Ladybug.  It was the stitch she was using for the body of the cosy that was so attractive.

After printing out the free pattern and reading, I found that it was actually quite straight forward.  Alternate single and double crochets, turn and do the same again.  It was easy and I think it looks great.  Benefit for a cup cosy is that it is more dense that just rounds of single crochet.

Sure, this is an easy stitch, but new to me.  I'm glad I took that leap and learned how to make it.  I can see myself using it again and again, especially as this designer has lots of free cosy patterns.

Which are you: do you stick with what you know or do you try new skills in your projects?  When was the last time you learned a new stitch/skill, what was it?

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster

Sleeping sickness is the scourge of the land.  While the government fights to keep it's citizens safe and healthy, the enemy from Kamar continues to further spread the infection. 

Jiang-Sev is the last member of her family.  Her mother's body is displayed in  perpetual sleep as a warning to the citizens; she had been accused of bringing the sickness into the city.  Sev's status has been striped and she is being punished for the sins of her mother.  When a bomb explodes in the city, Sev is labelled guilty  of the crime and must flee or die.

I found it hard to get into the story and figure out what was going on in this stratified society.  While I did enjoy reading about her escape from the city and her journey across the outside, it wasn't enough to overcome the confusion of the plot.  There was too much subterfuge among leading characters.  Too many times I felt I could love or hate a character only to find out a few pages later that their history was a lie or fabrication.  I didn't form an attachment to Sev as she, herself was confused much of the time.

I wanted to like this dystopian novel, but it didn't connect with me.  I didn't care about the characters, whether they lived or died.  I did like the dancing and the explanation of why they danced.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

#IndigoEmployee

Friday, 6 October 2017

Acceleration by Graham McNamee

This is a well told tale that captured my imagination from the first chapter.

Like many high school students, Duncan is less than thrilled about his summer job.  He spends his days well below street level working in the Lost & Found department of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). 

One afternoon, he picks up a leather bound book with no title.  Curious, he browses several pages to which are attached a bunch of news clipping about animal mutilations.  Not a book Duncan wants to read.  As the days pass, he is drawn back to the book and it's gruesome writings.  He finds that it is clear that the author of the journal has escalated from killing animals to targeting women.  It isn't long before he draws his friends Vinny and then Wayne into his research about the books contents.

Author Graham McNamee has created a realistic group of friends.  I could easily imagine these young men and their banter.  Their approach to solving the mystery of the author of the journal made total sense.  A trip to the local library is often a great place to begin.

I really enjoyed this story with it's mainly teenage characters.

If you enjoy books for teens with serial killers, you might enjoy:

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Agents of Chaos - X-Files #1 by  Kami Garcia

Cover image courtesy Penguin Random House Canada.

#IndigoEmployee

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Needlework Tuesday - The Best Dressed Coffee Cup

 Somehow, Tuesday got away from me again.  As we all know, life gets busy and family takes top priority and blogging falls nearer the bottom.

I did do some stitching I want to share.  I found a cute pattern for a cup cosy that I wanted to try.  I really like the idea of a re-usable cup cosy as opposed to the throw away paper ones. Not that I purchase a lot of coffees while I'm out, but they do add up over the year(s).

This one is from a free pattern, Zigzag Crochet Cup Cozy from Red Heart yarns.  It uses a small amount of two yarns and was really easy to make and took very little time.  My only concern, is whether it is thick enough when used with a take out cup.
 I made this one ages ago and used it a few times, but it has a fatal flaw, the ribbing.  It just keeps getting wider at the top and the cup could easily slip out.  Am going to try and add a round of single crochet at the top to firm it up.

Any suggestions/recommendations for cup cosy patterns?  Have you knit/crocheted/quilted one or several.  What worked best for you.


I started on the next pair of fittens and am most pleased with my yarn selection.  Just looking at the aqua and blue together makes my heart sing.

What a difference it makes when you love the materials you are working with.  I find it hard to be excited by a project when I don't like the materials. Those are the projects that linger and often don't get finished.

Cup cosies in fun yarns will be a joy to make and then give away.  I look forward to your comments and pattern suggestions.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

 Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Highland Promise by Alyson McLayne

 Isle of Sky 1452

When Darach MacKenzie  spies his enemy Laird Fraser abducting an unconscious female, he springs to her rescue regardless of the repercussions.  Even if he'd known before hand what the cost of rescuing Caitlin would be, he still wouldn't have left a female in Fraser's grasp.

Caitlin is an innocent in all sorts of ways.  She is like a breath of fresh air into the tight family group.  It was fun seeing how she could shake up their daily lives just by being herself.  At first it appears that she has been rescued by Darach MacKenzie, but as the story continues, I began to wonder who was doing the rescuing.

Darach and his four brothers were raised by their foster father Gregor McLeod with very little female influence.  They are all well versed in caring for the safety of their clans, but they know little of the emotional needs of their families.  Caitlin has much to teach them.

Author Alyson McLayne makes great use of humour in this book, she had me laughing along with the characters, especially with the perplexed Darach.  The addition of the wee kitten was heart warming.

While the story mostly focused on Caitlin and Darach, we are introduced to his foster brothers.  I learned just enough about them to want to read more.  Fortunately, this is the first book in a five part series, The Sons of Gregor MacLeod, one book for each brother.  Yippee.

Once I knew that the men were wearing kilts in this story, I was all over it, but those who need a bit more persuasion, following is an excerpt from Highland Promise.

Author Alyson McLayne




EXCERPT

“I’ll not be marrying the lass, Oslow, but if I did, she’d more than likely give me daughters. All of them looking like her, causing trouble. I’d be an old man in my grave before I was forty.”
“Nay. She’d give you sons. Braw lads as strong-minded and fearless as her. But if you’re not interested in the lass, I’ll introduce her to my Angus. He needs a wife, and I’m sure he’d be as smitten with her as Gare and Brodie.”
The blood heated in Darach’s veins, flushing his face. He looked toward the field, trying to make out what Caitlin and the two younger men were doing. Naught of consequence. Just playing with the kittens.
Playing with the kittens—like hell. Brodie was a right rogue with the lasses, and Gare was such a pitiful lad, caught betwixt man and boy, she’d want to save him just like she’d saved the baby bird. Most likely he’d try to make himself look as pathetic as possible with the hopes of ensnaring her, the devil.
Darach stood abruptly and made his way across the rocky shore to the field. Lachlan’s snort followed him. Sure enough, Gare and Brodie sat beside her, hanging on to every word. Scoundrels, both of them. He frowned, and they jumped to their feet. Let Caitlin see who was master and laird here—the most dominant MacKenzie male.
After sending them to Oslow, he sat on the grass beside her. She looked pleased to see him. Maybe now would be the time to tell her the kittens were going to the miller’s. He willed himself to begin, but one of the cats tumbled into his lap and mewed up at him. Bloody fiend.
“Och, would you look at that. He loves you, Darach. Maybe he will be called Justice, for he is drawn to you and you are the most just man I know.”
He puffed up and deflated at the same time. ’Twas a good decision to send the cats to the miller. Not only did it show Justice, but also Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance. Surely she would see the right of it.
The kit ran up his body and batted his hair. Darach started in surprise. Grabbing it, he held the wee thing in front of him. The cat reached out and swatted his chin.
Caitlin fell sideways onto the grass, laughing. “You’ve ne’er had a cat before, have you?”
Darach grunted and brought the kitten closer. He had to admit it was sweet—big eyes and downy, soft fur. It suckled the stubble of his beard, and his heart turned over.
“They’re starved, poor babies,” she said. “He’s trying to nurse. All we had was water. It helped, but their bellies are empty.”
There would be lots of milk at the miller’s.
“Caitlin, I doona think…”
She gazed at him, her eyes wide, trusting. A happy glow surrounded her, and the words stuck in his throat. Maybe she could keep the kits ’til they were old enough to be on their own. House them in the kitchens and out of his sight and the sight of his dogs for a week or two. Then they could go to the miller.
“Aye, Darach?”
“’Tis naught, lass. We’ll be home soon and they can have their meal.”
Picking up a kitten, she held it close. “I think this little lass will be Temperance, for she’s the only female and needs to have much restraint to live with three brothers. It must be a trial, doona you think?”
“I lived with four brothers, and aye, ’twas a trial.”
A wistful look crossed her face. “I did so wish for a brother. Or a sister. But my parents were not blessed with bairns after me. Instead, I had lots of pets—cats, dogs, horses, and pigs.”
“Pigs?”
“Aye, pigs are wonderful pets. Although I caused such a fankle when my father wanted to butcher the dear thing, I was ne’er allowed to bond with a pig again.”
“And what happened to it?”
“I doona know. I lost more than just my parents the night of the fire. Verily, ’twas a torment. I longed for pets after that, but I feared to show favor to any creature, lest my uncle hurt the animal. I was verra careful when I fed Cloud apples. The guards who followed me knew, I’m sure, but one older guard in particular didn’t mind.” She turned to smile at the stallion tethered with the other horses. “I’m thankful you saved him too.”
His stomach soured at the insight into her life after her parents’ death, at how afraid, alone and sad she must have been. Yet she’d shown none of that to him or his men. And he knew she must have felt it—her heart was as big as the loch.
“I want you to have, Cloud,” he said suddenly. It was the least he could do.
Her eyes grew round. “Truly?”
“Aye. But wait to ride him until we return to the keep. I doona want him to spook and throw you out here. Let him get used to you in the stables first, aye?” Where he could have a healer on hand and spread out some hay to soften her fall.
With an excited holler, she threw her arms around his neck and almost knocked him backward. One arm settled around her waist, the other hovered just above her hair. The devil take him, he wanted to touch her, to hold her still for his kiss.

Cover image and author photo courtesy Sourcebooks.

 I received and advanced readers ecopy of this book from Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review.

#indigoEmployee