Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What I Read: April

April was a decent reading month. I didn't get a lot read, but I enjoyed everything that I did read. :) As usual, click on the title to read my review on Goodreads.

Anne of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery. This is probably my least favorite of the Anne books. I still liked it, but it lacked the charm of the other books! The summary on the back of my edition was misleading, and while some of the stories about the kids were funny, I honestly had a hard time keeping them straight. (In the last book, Anne had one child- this is several years later and she has six or seven.) This is the last Anne book that I own, so I'm through with the series for a while. I'll probably read Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside later this year, but I've really loved reading this series!

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman. I finally read this book! I bought it about 9 years ago after I fell in love with the film. I started reading it then, but got bogged down with all of the stuff at the beginning before the actual story. I held onto it for all this time, and I decided it was time to finally read it. Since I knew more about the author and the film now, I was basically able to sort through what was real and what is pretend in the beginning part, but it still felt like an awkward way to open a book. Anyway, the actual story itself was great, of course, but I still love the movie so much more. If you're a fan of the film, it's worth reading to get a little more detail and backstory to characters, but this is one of those rare instances when the movie is better (in my opinion).

From the Start, by Melissa Tagg. I really enjoyed Melissa Tagg's latest novel. I wrote a full review of it on the blog, so I won't repeat my thoughts in this post.

A Jane Austen Devotional, by Steffany Woolsey. I've been reading this devotional off and on since the beginning of 2014. It was pretty good, but nothing profound or life-changing. Some entries were better than others, but if you're a Jane Austen fan, you'll probably enjoy this one.

Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. I love reading middle grade books, but I've felt a bit let down by the ones I've read so far this year. Until this one! I loved it. It was so satisfying, and it's about art and WWII...so not exactly your typical middle grade novel topics. There were a couple of twists I did not see coming, and the whole book felt timeless- like a story I would have read and loved as a kid.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Knitting: Make Believe socks.

Somehow I managed to knit two pairs of socks this month: my handspun socks and this pair. (Probably because the only other thing I worked on was my Multnomah shawl.) I've just really been enjoying knitting socks this year!

There's not much to say about these...they're pretty basic. After the fitting problems I had with my handspun socks, it was nice to knit something knowing that they would fit perfectly without any extra effort. :) This pair started out as vanilla socks, but the yarn was pooling in a way that I really didn't like. So I switched over to Hermione's Everyday Socks, which had enough texture to make the pooling more subtle.

I'm really happy with these. They're not the prettiest socks I've ever made by any means, but I love the colors in this yarn. I used KnitPicks Stroll Hand-Painted in the "Make Believe" colorway. This is my fourth pair of socks made with KnitPicks sock yarn, and I have a love/hate relationship with it. I'm never really happy with how the colors knit up (except Felici- you can't go wrong with stripes!). The hand-painted yarns and even the tonal ones always pool for me, and I'm not a fan of that. But...I find myself wearing those socks the most often. I'm not sure whether it's because the yarn itself knits up nicely (even though it looks loosely plied) and seems to wear well. Or maybe because this yarn is quite a bit cheaper than indie-dyed yarns, and I don't feel like I have to be as "careful" with these socks. Whatever the reason, I'm sure these socks will get worn a lot! :)

Ravelry project page. I'm once again linking up with Liesl's Monthly Sock Challenge.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: Paris in Love, by Eloisa James. This is a memoir written by a lady who took a sabbatical from her work and moved with her husband and two kids to Paris for a year. I'm really liking it so far. I wasn't sure about the style at first: the book is made up of very brief anecdotes that are only about a paragraph long each (they're adapted from her Facebook and/or Twitter posts at the time, apparently?), and every once in a while there might be one that has been expanded into a page or two. Sometimes it feels choppy, but overall it makes for very quick reading. And some of the stories are quite funny. :)

Knitting: More socks this week, of course! I finished the first of this pair at the beginning of the month, but I didn't cast on the second one until after I finished my handspun socks. Now I'm nearly at the end of this second sock...I'm hoping I'll finish it tonight. {Edit: I already finished them!} When I first started these socks, the yarn started pooling (ugly pooling) in plain stockinette. So I decided to use Hermione's Everyday Socks pattern to at least make the pooling more subtle, and thankfully it worked! They're still a bit unusual looking, though...

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Knitting: Multnomah shawl.

I've been planning on knitting this shawl for a year and a half now, and I've had this yarn in my stash (planned for this project) for almost that long.

Multnomah is one of the more popular patterns on Ravelry (over 9,000 projects), and I can see why! It was fun and easy to knit, and I love the end result. This year I'm trying to ease my way into a bit of lace knitting, and this is a good place to start. (It isn't charted, though, which is one of the things I really need to work on: getting comfortable reading charts. I've only used really simple ones before.)

I used KnitPicks' Gloss in fingering weight in the colorway cranberry. It's a pretty, deep red. Because I had more yardage than the pattern called for, I decided to make the shawl a little bigger. I knitted the garter section longer before I began the lace trim, and I also went up two needle sizes (to a size 5). I probably should have left well enough alone, because I ended up running out of yarn. I couldn't finish the full trim (8 repeats instead of 10), but I also had to do some fudging at the end with my stitch count (more details on my project page).

And, horror of horrors, I didn't have enough yarn to bind off! I think that's only happened to me two or three times since I started knitting. I hated the idea of having to rip back the last four or so rows of the lace pattern, with all of the refiguring I'd already had to do. I thought about all of the other yarn I owned, and then I remembered that I had some leftover sock yarn from KnitPicks that was a very similar color to this (from these socks). So I decided to use that yarn to bind off with. The sock yarn was tonal, so in some spots it matches the Gloss yarn perfectly, but in other places it's brighter. Honestly, it's not that noticeable unless you're looking for it, and I don't even think you can see it in the pictures. But I like it! It gives the trim a sort of ombre look...almost like it was planned instead of a desperate effort to not rip back my knitting. :)

The shawl turned out to be a good size, perfect for wrapping around my neck. It blocked out to about 14 inches deep with a wingspan of about 55 inches. We've had some chilly weather lately, so even though I've packed away my handknits (sad day!) until the fall, I got to wear this to church on Sunday and it was cozy.

Ravelry project page.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

From the Start.

When it comes to Christian novels, historical fiction is definitely my comfort zone. But in the last couple of years, I've been venturing into more contemporary, and Melissa Tagg is one of the authors in that genre whose books I've come to expect wonderful things from.

Her latest, From the Start, was no exception. This book is the first in a new series (I hope so, anyway? That seems to be the case) that is loosely tied to her previous two books. It revolves around Kate Walker, a writer of TV romance movie screenplays, and Colton Greene, a former NFL quarterback who can't play anymore due to an injury. After a tornado hits Kate's hometown, both she and Colton end up there, helping the townspeople put things back together.

I really enjoyed this book. I haven't had a lot of time for reading lately, so it took me longer than it should have to finish this book. But when I was reading it, I flew through it because I didn't want to put it down. Kate and Colton were both great characters, and I enjoyed the way that their backstories were revealed. Sometimes authors will mysteriously hint about things in a character's past and then take forever to actually reveal what happened, but that wasn't the case here. And while the main characters both had pasts and things that were seemingly going to pull them in different directions in the future, there wasn't any over-the-top drama or any huge argument/falling out between them. (I appreciated that.)

There are lots of fun supporting characters, which gives the town of Maple Valley a slight Stars Hollow feel (though less kooky, I think). I hope that the series will continue on with the rest of the Walker siblings, because I'm interested in learning more about them. I also hope that Megan will play a part in later books, because I feel like her story isn't done!

I know that Melissa Tagg is a classic movie fan, and as a fellow fan, I really loved all of the references. And besides the slight Gilmore Girls vibe I was picking up from the town, part of the story also reminded me of It's a Wonderful Life (I think I can say "the old house part" without spoiling anything). Also, if you're not a sports fan, don't let the fact that Colton is a football player turn you off from this book. I know absolutely nothing about sports, and I was never lost by anything going on. :)

While I still think Here to Stay might be my favorite of Melissa's books (Blake is an awesome character, you guys!), From the Start is a close second. I can't wait to see what's next from this author! :)
*Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.*