Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Stitch'n Time : How to Know when you've Found the Right Project

How do you know when you've hit on the right project for your self.  Some projects seem to drag on for ever and you find your self willing to do anything else, even house cleaning instead of working on 'the project'.  Other times, you will let the rest of the world pass by while you stitch away,  This dotty blanket is of the second type  I am so excited about watching it grow that I am easily able to ignore even a rumbly tummy to knit another block.

This photo shows how to start and inner block.  All the stitches are picked up from the previous blocks.

Most patterns will tell you to finish the first row across, one block of each colour/pattern, then start the second row.  Visually, it seems to take so very long to finish a row.  I decided I would stitch the diagonal rows instead.  Two more green blocks and then I'll start on the light blue squares.  These squares go very quickly as they are only about 5 inches a side.

I was watching Netflix while stitching and accidentally binged on a show.  oops.  I don't do that as a rule, but I was getting carried away one morning.  I guess that will just skew my statistics a wee bit.  oh wait, that's a good thing.

As I knit, I have been working in as many ends as possible.  I am thinking that with the little dots, it will be hand to pull the end threw on a needle.  I can't recall having worked with such a bumpy yarn before.  It is fun though.

The weather here has been hot. Too hot to comfortable sit outside or do anything in the yard.  I have cranked on the AC and have been lurking inside, sometimes reading and others stitching.  I hope that the weather in your area is behaving and no unseasonal storms.  If you have been managing to stitch, Mister Linky is waiting below.  I'd also love to see any afghans/blankets that you stitched and loved, so add previous links to those posts.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

I loved this.  I could not put it down.  With themes of cos-play, Dungeon's and Dragons role playing and creating the perfect character garment, there is lots to love.

Cameron, her twin brother Cooper and family have recently moved and are settling into a new town.  She needs to be working on her clothing portfolio for her college interviews, though she is lacking inspiration.  Trips to the comic store are dis-spiriting due to the 'anti-female' vibes that Brody, the manager, exudes.  When her father suggests she use his D&D book as a beginning point to create characters, it starts her along a bumpy and twisted path to  discovering her creativity and other things.

I loved everything about this book except that it ended too soon.  The relationships between Cameron and Cooper is tight yet not perfect.  They fully support each other but at the  same time won't let the other drown in self pity.

When Cameron is working on a garment/costume, she is totally immersed.  The description of her working was so vivid that I could imagine the shimmering fabrics and flying pins and needles.

This book should have wide appeal among teen and older readers.  You don't have to be involved in cos-play or D&D to enjoy this story.

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


Friday, 25 May 2018

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

Wonderful story of adventure and exploration.  Readers will travel  with Aru and Mini as they try to save the world from the destruction that the Sleeper seeks.  Along the way they will encounter an assortment of Indian deities, visit mythological destinations and learn about the power of friendship.

Aru was tired of being the social outcast at her exclusive school.  When three of her classmates visit the museum where she lives, they catch her up in a lie.  Not wanting this to be spread around school, she accepts a dare to light the cursed Lamp of Bharata.  Oops, that was the one thing her mother told her she must never do.  She has now unleashed a deadly force into the worlds.

I enjoyed following Aru and Mini on their adventure.  Boo made for an interesting, though reluctant  guide.  Young readers will also enjoy Boo, especially considering that he is a magical pigeon.  Author Roshani Chokshi does a good job of introducing the myriad of Indian gods to readers.  She gives enough information to follow the story line, but also alludes to a much more detailed story behind each one.

I feel that this novel will appeal most to the younger middle school reader.  Would also work well as a classroom read aloud to accompany a cultural study of India.


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Stitch'n Time: Keeping it Fun

As you might imagine, it's been an interesting week with a new puppy in the house.  Even though all responsibility for him is supposed to fall to my youngest child, the owner, I can't possibly ignore him.  I find myself petting him and going with them on walks.  He is lovely to be around.  Today he even allowed me to puppy sit  him.

He has passed the yarn test.  He watched me knitting and didn't try to snag a ball from me.  Perhaps that's more a kitten/cat thing.  Time will tell.

A year or two ago, I purchased a box of this discontinued dotted yarn, Bernat Dippity Dots.  I chose 3 balls of each colour except the black.  Enough to make at least 2 if not 3 baby blankies.

As I was lamenting not having some stitching at hand, I recalled this box and that I had printed out the patterns I wanted to do.  Real easy to get started from that point.

Each of the squares knits up to about 5 inches on a side.  As you can see from the first photo, subsequent blocks are formed by picking up stitches from the previous block.  No sewing together individual blocks at the end of knitting.

The first three blocks are completed and looking great.  They seem to square up once the neighbouring block is added.  The final blankie will by 7 x 7 blocks.

This is the type of yarn that you don't want to be ripping out.  I did un-knit one block as I didn't like the way it turned out. I don't plan to do that again.  I could have left it, but it would have bugged me for ever and any knitter looking at the blanket would have noticed the mistake immediately.  The new colour was added on the wrong side, which meant that the wrong colour loops showed on the front side.   With that fixed and notes added on how to avoid this in the future, I am stitching forward.

For the past year, I have been telling myself that I have to finish languishing projects before I am allowed to start big new ones.  That is like punishing myself.  Stitching is supposed to be fun for me.  There is probably a reason that a project is hidden away unfinished.  I might even get back to it in the future.  But right now, I wanted and needed something new.  Who knows, when I find that next bag with an unfinished project lurking inside, it might have morphed into something that I want to work on once again.

Do you have an unfinished project hidden away.  Do you hope that one day you will open the bag and it will magically be completed or that it will have transformed its self into a work of art.  Please share your thoughts about it in the comments or link to a post you've written about it.

Mister Linky is waiting below.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

FuryBorn: The Empirium Trilogy Book 1 by Claire legrand

Rielle has a huge secret, that with the help of her father, she has tried to keep hidden.  When Prince Audric's life is threatened, she'll do anything to save the man she loves, even reveal her secret.

A thousand years later, Eliana has her own secret.  One that is to her advantage considering she works as an assassin for hire.  Eliana only knows of Rielle from the stories/legends her young brother Remy collects.  Mostly she dismisses them as one would dismiss fairy tales.  When a job goes wrong and she is forced to switch alliances, Eliana finds herself reconsidering the validity of these tales.

This story spans a thousand years and is alternately told from Rielle's and Eliana's perspective.  Other than their unusual powers, there appears to be little to link the two women.  One a queen and the other a paid assassin, what could they have in common other  than a love for their country.

Unfortunately, this book didn't work for me.  I couldn't identify with either young woman.  They remained strangers to me.  I didn't feel as though I had learned any of the intimate things that a friend or confident would know.  I didn't really care about either of them.  I struggled to finish the final chapters even though they were exciting and contained dramatic plot developments.

spoiler:  the biggest detractor of the book was the inclusion of angels.  They are a type of character I don't enjoy and prefer not to read about.  If the author had included some other race of being it would have increased my enjoyment.

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


Friday, 18 May 2018

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X R. Pan

Leigh is just seventeen when her mother kills herself.  She takes it very hard and tries to understand why she did it.  It also leaves so very many questions about her mother's past un-answered.

Soon after her mother's death, a large red bird appears and speaks to Leigh.  She is convinced that her mother has become that bird.  At the seeming urges of the bird, Leigh and her father travel to Taiwan to meet her maternal grand parents.  She hopes that while there she can find the bird and unravel her mother's secrets.

While I did enjoy following Leigh on her quest, I found that the first  two thirds of the book were somewhat lethargic.  It must have been similar to how her mother felt during her depressed times.  After that point, the pace of the story picked up and became more clear.  I couldn't put the book down for the final third.

Leigh is an interesting teen.  She associates colour with all emotions and events.  It isn't made clear whether this is a medical condition called synesthesia or that she is further expressing her artistic flair.  It does enhance the story by considering the events as particular colours.

We also meet Axel, Leigh's long time BFF.  The day they crossed the friend line and kissed is the same day that her mother died.  Leigh has to deal with the guilt she feels over choosing to spend time with Axel instead of caring for her mother.

Other than the events surrounding the magical bird, much of what Leigh, and Axel by extension, have to deal with is realistic.  Teens don't live in a bubble that isolates them from life's pressures.  They have romance angst, home life dynamics as well as their futures to consider.  If it takes a little magic to deal with all this , then I salute author Emily X. R. Pan for doing it so well.

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


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Stitch'n Time - a slight diversion

 I know that my track record doesn't speak for its self, but I have been trying to get my needlework posts ready before noon.  Often my problem is that I enjoy sleeping late; I get my best sleep at that time.  Today I actually have a pretty good reason for being so very late.

His name is Randy.  It was an epic road trip of about 15 hours to pick him up.  My youngest wanted a dog for company when studying for their Masters.

He is a standard poodle and is gorgeous.

For those of you who did stitching this week instead of making puppy plans (he's 5 months old), Mister Linky is waiting below:

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Ice Chips and the Magical Rink by Roy MacGregor and Kerry MacGregor

Great start to a new hockey series aimed at readers who are relatively new to chapter books.

The Ice Chips is a co-ed hockey team that is loosing their home rink.  Though they will be moving to a fancy new rink, they want one last skate on their home ice.  Once they arrive at the rink, they see that the ice is in bad shape, it needs re-surfacing.  This is when the trouble/challenges/magic starts. 

Wait, did I say magic.  Oh yes, that's what makes this book so special.  I love where this magic takes them and what they experience and learn along the way.  Not going to tell you a word more since I don't want to spoil any secrets.

It's great the way the team members support each other both on and off the ice.  They aren't just thinking about their next goal, but of their friends both old and new. 

Young readers will be able to relate to the members of the team even if they don't play hockey.  The story is more about friendship and including new friends.

The authors also wrote the Screech Owl series for 9-12 readers.
The team will return in the Ice Chips and the Haunted Hurricane.

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


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Stitch'n Time - Block Layout

 The weather has been gorgeous here this past week and it's made me want to be outside as much as possible.  I did manage to stay inside for a wee bit of sewing.  Last week I told you that I had mostly finished the blocks for my wall hanging and that I thought it was going to be a challenge to get them arranged.

Well, it was a surprise that I was happy with this first arrangement.  I wanted to match the dark rectangles and have a diagonal going with the large squares.  I had to shuffle which squares went on the outside edge, but other than that , it came together quite well.  Next step is to stitch the blocks together.

The blocks are about 8 inches, four blocks across and 5 down. I doubt that I'll add a border, just straight to the binding.
I had a little yarn left after knitting the bibs and once again came across a pattern from Red Heart that I liked called Snowdrop Mason Jar Cover.  You need to use five 6mm needles to accommodate the pattern.  Once knitted, you slip it over a wide mouth large mason jar and put a battery candle inside.  light will shine through the simple lace pattern.  I have another inch or two to go till decreasing for the bottom.

If I am happy with the results, I'd like to make some up as gifts for Christmas.  yes, I am already thinking ahead.  Next time I want to try using a long 6mm round needle so i don't have to fuss with so many needles.  Will see how this finishes first.

Any one else planning their Christmas projects at this time?  Do you like to make small projects or one or two big ones per year?

Stitch'n Time is a regular week post where I share details of my current needlework posts.  Feel free to link up below to your current or related needlework post.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

We'll All be Burnt in our Beds Some Night by Joel Thomas Tynes

If I spied Johnny Keough coming toward me along a dark street, I'd probably be tempted to cross to the other side.  He's had a tough life and isn't about to take crap from anyone.  As I was reading the opening chapters of this book, I questioned whether I would finish.  It's not the type of story I generally read.  I decided that I would push myself out of my comfort zone and keep reading.  I needed to know why this book was awarded the Governor General's prize in 2017.

Johnny is hard to like.  He talks tough and acts tough.  Inside, he does have a soft spot which is why he rescued an elderly couple from their burning home.  I kept reading and looking for him to change his life around.  He just couldn't do it for long.  It seemed that every time he was doing well, that life would extract a very stiff price, almost as a penalty. 

Author Joel Thomas Hynes slowly reveals nuggets of information regarding Johnny's past.  Most were events with fairly grim outcomes.  His best days always involved his dear cousin Mikey.  Unfortunately for Johnny, Mikey committed suicide weeks before the start of this novel.

As Johnny continued on his quest that was taking him across the country, his luck seemed on a downward spiral.  As he sunk lower, an assortment of well meaning people tried to help him, but he wouldn't/couldn't let them.  His past lead him to know that he couldn't trust people.  As unlikeable as Johnny was, I found that by the last few chapters, the tears were pouring down my cheeks and I felt an over whelming need to mourn for the lost possibilities of the life that Johnny could have lived if only some one had loved and cared for him.  I am so glad that I did continue reading.  It has made me question the lives of others and how little control they could have on the events that control their life.

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins Canada.


Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Stitch'n Time -

I feel good in that I managed to finish 16 of 20 blocks last week.  I have partially stitched the others, though I wanted to leave them at this point so I have some flexibility in their colour placement.  I have a few ideas of how to lay out these blocks.  I could focus on the largest segment and make them into a most pleasing arrangement.  I could also match the two green squares to make them appear as rectangles.

I'll take a photo of each as I play around and that will tell me which wins.  It's far too easy to over think this step an then never end up finishing the quilt.  That happened to me with a previous project that is still sitting at the block stage.  I've also heard from readers who were making the One Block Wonder and never could settle on the final placement of the blocks; they gave up.  Not going to happen here.  I'll set a deadline for finalizing placement, then I'll stitch them together.

Do you have one project where you spent way too much time on deciding on block/colour placement.  How did you finally make your decision?

Stitch'n Time is a regular weekly post where I share my current needlework projects.

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