Monday, July 28, 2014

Murder at the Mikado.

Let me be honest...I was reluctant to read this book. However, that's only because I was in the middle of rereading the Harry Potter series and I really didn't want to be interrupted. :) It wasn't that I thought I wouldn't enjoy this third installment in the Drew Farthering mystery fact, I was sure that I would enjoy it. I liked the first book well enough, and the second one was even better.

As it turns out, Murder at the Mikado was my favorite of the three. (Also, this is my favorite cover of the three. It's so moody and classy!)

I loved the theater as a setting. It feels like such a classic mystery setting to me: a play going on, one of the actors murdered, and most of the theater troupe held in suspicion. Combine that with the ongoing setting of 1930s England, and it's pretty much perfect!

After three books, I feel like I know the characters pretty well, though as I've mentioned before, I don't really connect with them. I was a little disappointed with some of Drew and Madeline's behavior toward each other at times...I wish they had been a bit more understanding about each other's feelings. Anyway, they're still cute together. And of course I was glad to read more of Aunt Ruth, who is basically the (more pleasant) Lady Violet of this series.

The mystery kept me guessing until the very end. I had a definite suspicion from fairly early on, but I was completely wrong, as usual! (Yes, it seems that it was just a fluke that I guessed the correct murderer in the last book.) I did have trouble keeping a few of the characters straight: in particular, Benton and Hazeldine. But after one of them faded into the background of the story, that wasn't really an issue anymore.

I really enjoyed Murder at the Mikado. I'm not sure if it's the last book in this series or not...I thought I had read that it was, but I can't seem to find confirmation of that now. It's a good, solid mystery and a satisfying conclusion (if it is indeed the conclusion). I am still curious about Drew's mother, though, and I definitely wouldn't object to another book, especially if they just continue to get better and better! :)

*Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.*

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets {Book + Film}

I'm going to say that this post will probably contain spoilers, and possibly not just ones from this specific book but also from later on in the Harry Potter series. You've been warned! :) I tried to keep the last review spoiler-free, but that gets more difficult the further you get into the series.

I enjoyed rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets more than I remembered. :) The series really does just keep getting better as it goes! This book, at its heart, is a mystery novel. And you guys know I love a good mystery (even if I already know how it turns out).

Realization: it was pretty stupid of Harry and Ron to take the flying car to Hogwarts. I know they were panicky and people do dumb things when they're panicky, but still...wouldn't they have thought to wait for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to come back? It's not like you'd get expelled from school if you were a little late, especially if it was due to something that was out of your control! Anyway, the car does prove rather important in the Aragog situation, so I guess I should be thankful that they did take it. :)

Also, this was the first time I noticed how incredibly suspicious it was that Harry is at the scene of nearly every attack. No wonder people were thinking the worst of him! I probably would have, too, to be honest. He really does have a knack for getting in trouble and for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (And all of the suspicions and whispers against Harry feel like they're foreshadowing when that happens later on in the the Order of the Phoenix, I guess?)

Speaking of foreshadowing, I realized this time how Ron takes up for Hermione, even this early in the series. Maybe even more than Harry does, even though Ron and Hermione were also a lot more likely to disagree and be angry with each other than Harry and Hermione. Also, it's sweet that Ginny has a crush on Harry. :)

Professor Lockhart is one of the most hilarious and obnoxious characters ever. The more we get to know him, the more obvious it is that he's bluffing, so I've never really understood why Hermione continues to look up to him. She's usually the first one to notice little things like that.

Of course I love Dobby so it's awesome to meet him, and I absolutely love the way this story ends for him. :) I've also always loved the Polyjuice Potion parts, for some reason.

One thing I was wondering, though I had never thought about it before...exactly how old are Voldemort and Hagrid? I mean, if they went to school together when the Chamber of Secrets was opened fifty years ago, then they have to be in their early-to-mid-60s, and I just can't comprehend that. I've never really thought about Voldemort's age because he was so messed up anyway, and it's not like he would look his age. But Hagrid?? 62 or 63 years old? I just don't see that! I always thought he was about 50 at the oldest, or even closer to the age of Harry's parents. I guess it's not really a big deal, but it bugs me a bit. :) {I did some poking around online and apparently in the HP world giants have a longer lifespan, so since Hagrid is half-giant, I guess maybe he ages more slowly than humans. Hm.}

Like the first film, I think this one is pretty accurate to the book. After the second book, it seems like the movies vary when it comes to how good the book-to-film adaptation is, though I still find them all really entertaining. Maybe it's because after these two, the next couple of movies had different directors?

I feel like Mrs. Weasley in the movie was a little more lenient about the boys rescuing Harry in the flying car. Instead of being angry she was sort of...bemused? Also, the scene with Harry eavesdropping on the Malfoys in Knockturn Alley doesn't even happen in the film, so what was the point of having Harry even go there?

The kids all look and sound so much older than they did in the first film! Especially Draco- he looks unusually tall in the scene in Flourish and Blotts, compared to the other kids (so much taller that I almost wonder if that scene was filmed later on in the production, after he hit a growth spurt or something?). Ron is the master of looks of terror and high-pitched sounds of fright. Ha. :) It seems like in every other scene in this movie, he looks horrified about something. Another thing I appreciate about the HP films is that they basically kept most of the same actors playing the students through the whole series. I love watching all of the classmates grow up through the films. :)

I liked the subtle little mention of Percy's girlfriend, Penelope Clearwater. She's focused on a bit more in the book, but in the film you see Percy walking down the hallway with a girl who he refers to as Penelope. (Is she even petrified in the film? I don't remember it happening...if it did, it must have been brushed over quickly.)

Having recently finished watching the first season of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, of course I recognized Phryne's aunt as Professor Sprout in this movie. :) The guy who plays Lockhart is perfect in that part. Apparently the first choice for Lockhart was Hugh Grant? Hm...that seems weird to me.

As with the first film, the end scene in the Chamber of Secrets is embellished a bit to make it more dramatic onscreen. :) And of course the absolute end, with Hermione and Hagrid coming back makes me all teary-eyed. I can hardly stand the idea of teddy-bear-ish Hagrid at Azkaban!

How do you feel about Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Yarn Along

Reading: Murder at the Mikado, by Julianna Deering. I'm very reluctantly taking a break from rereading Harry Potter to read this book. (I received it to review a few weeks ago, so I needed to get a start on it.) I'm not very far in...I'm sure it'll be great, but I'm just really more in the mood for Harry Potter right now. :)

Knitting: A cowl from my most recent handspun. From this picture you can get an idea of how bright it is in certain sections. That bit of orange is particularly eye-burning, ha!

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone {Book + Film}

So...I've officially started my summer of Harry Potter. One hat has been knitted, nearly two books have been read, and the first film has been watched. (And I'm listening to one of the soundtracks as I write this, to get me in even more of a HP mood.) Today it's time to talk about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

My main thought about the book and movie: they make me feel so nostalgic. Even though I've acquired a hardcover of this first book since I last reread the series, I decided to read my old paperback copy instead of the hardcover one. And I'm so glad I did. That little paperback with the yellowing pages and barely visible dog-ear folds (yes, I dog-eared my pages back then, but I would never do that now!) smells like my childhood. :)

I have so many memories connected to this series. I definitely grew up with Harry Potter...I read the first book when I was 8 or 9, and I was 16 when the last book came out.

Okay, on to the actual book. While it's not my favorite of the series, I still love it. There's a lot of world-building going on, and it makes me appreciate the magical world that J.K. Rowling created. Everything fits together so beautifully...and for me, personally, it's an easier world to slip into than say, the world of the Lord of the Rings. Maybe it's just because J.R.R. Tolkien was so obsessive with details, or maybe it's because the world of Harry Potter is still set in a real-life place and time.

I loved meeting all of the characters again, especially the Weasleys. Of course, there are many details in the books that get left out of the films, and it's so nice having that extra information and backstory. I love Rowling's writing style. I had forgotten how lovely and subtle the humor is. But most importantly, she doesn't dumb things down for children like so many writers tend to do. The Harry Potter books don't feel like "children's" books to me...they just have this timeless quality that appeals to all ages.

I loved rereading these lines that are so familiar to me. I would get to a part and be reminded of a specific line that was ingrained in my memory, and I would think, I wonder if that line is in this book or a later one? And then a few sentences later, there it would be. :)

While reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone this time, I wasn't very focused on the plot about the stone and Fluffy and the suspicions about Snape. I was as a kid, and I know I'll probably be more invested in the main plot lines in the later books. (I will say that I definitely noticed some foreshadowing and little things that proved significant in later books.) But this time, with this book, I was just soaking in the familiar, cozy feeling of the story. The way that she describes the cushy arm chairs by the fire in the common room, and the food they eat at feasts, and the handknit sweaters from Mrs. Weasley. It feels so wonderfully homey and comfortable and English. :) Also, it made me so anxious for fall and winter, even more so than I already was.

I watched the film adaptation the evening after I finished reading the book. It made me think of the first time I ever saw the movie. Back in 2001 when it was released, my brother and I won tickets to go see it in theaters. A local radio station was giving away four tickets and a HP prize pack...all you had to do was call in and answer the question that they asked. I knew the answer but was too chicken to call in, and my younger brother didn't know the answer but was willing to call the station (the question was so simple...what was the name of Harry Potter's school?). Somehow he managed to get the line and we won! :) I was the only one in my family who ever read the books (though I tried to get my brother to...I remember giving him a quiz about it, which is probably what scared him away from reading them, ha), but we always went to see the films at the theater after that.

I jotted down some random thoughts while watching the movie, so here goes...

Dudley is the most obnoxious child ever! He's bad enough in the books, but somehow seeing it onscreen makes him even more horrible.

Speaking of children, Harry, Ron, and Hermione look so tiny in this movie! Especially when they're walking down hallways with older students...they just look impossibly small. And sometimes their acting is a bit cheesy, but that's okay. They're just kids, after all. Also, the CGI isn't the best, but it's not really distracting.

It seemed like it took so long for Hagrid to tell Harry about Voldemort and how his parents really died. I think in the book he explained all of that in the shack, but in the movie it takes forever. Hagrid is cast perfectly, as are all of the teachers and staff at Hogwarts. Actually, all of the casting is perfect. (Though I will always prefer Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Richard Harris just came across as a little too weak and feeble and he didn't really capture Dumbledore's sense of humor.)

Just like with the book, you can pick up on little things when you watch it knowing what to expect. You notice little clues, like with Snape and Quirrell at the Quidditch match. I also realized this time that the film ending is a lot more dramatic than the book ending. Instead of just turning red and blistering, the villain's face (not saying any names just in case anyone doesn't know the story) basically turns to dust and falls apart. I guess that's more exciting? :) Also, Harry is a bit more of a hero and defeats the villain entirely instead of just passing out halfway through the confrontation...

I always tear up a little at the end when Neville is awarded the ten points for standing up to his friends. I do love rooting for an underdog, and Neville is one of my favorites. I just love him. :)

I feel like this first film, of all of the films, is probably the most accurate to the book, and I appreciate that. But I still think you're missing out on so much if you just see the movie and never read the book!

Well, so much for a proper review...this was basically just a lot of rambling thoughts. How does one even go about reviewing something as classic and amazing as Harry Potter, anyway?

What do you think about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? What do you like (or dislike) about the book or the film? Is it one of your favorites or least favorites of the series?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Spinning: circus handspun.

This week I finished spinning eight ounces of Falkland wool from Spun Right Round (I love that shop).

It started out as this fiber. I don't usually choose colors that bright, but something about this colorway (called Circus) sucked me in right from the beginning. I decided to get two braids instead of one, so I'd have a bit more fiber to work with. The color repeats were the same, though one of them had more of a softer pink and the other had a brighter reddish pink...I decided to spin them together so any differences would be evened out.

After fractal spinning worked out so nicely with my mountain stream yarn, I decided to try it again. I was hoping it would balance out the brightness of this fiber. It did to some extent, but since the color repeats were a bit shorter and because the colors are so bright, it didn't work out quite as I expected it to. Anyway, I still love how the yarn turned out.

The bobbins with my wheel aren't really big, so I had to split the yarn into two skeins when the bobbin filled up. The first skein was 148 yards, the second was 186 yards, and Andean plying the leftover singles gave me 50 extra yards. So around 384 yards total, and it's somewhere around a DK weight.

I was planning on using it for a small shawl, something like this one. But with the way the colors mingled up, I thought it might be better to knit it into something a bit more narrow. So I finally decided on a cowl I've been wanting to knit with handspun for a while now: Totally Biased. I've already started on it, and it is bright, but I think it'll be fine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book multiples.

A few weeks ago, I bought the first two Anne of Green Gables books in these editions. (No, I'm not reading them yet, but I will.) I took my thrift store copies to a Little Free Library. I've been doing that some this year...buying prettier editions of books that I already own. I think it's my way of still getting that awesome book-buying feeling without actually making my to-read pile any larger. :)
{Next on my list of victims is my cheap B&N copy of Northanger Abbey. When I first started reading Austen, I bought most of her books in the cheapest editions I could find, and I'm sort of regretting that now. This is the loveliest edition of Northanger Abbey I've ever seen.}
Getting those new copies of the Anne books made me think about books that I own multiples of and why I own more than one copy of them. In general, I'm pretty good about getting rid of my old edition of a book if I buy a new one...but there are a few exceptions. Mostly because I'm a sentimental sap when it comes to books. :)
Here's how I rationalize owning more than one copy of these books...

Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie. I bought the Borders edition on the right years ago, and it's a pretty nice copy in itself. Then last year I found the gorgeous Puffin edition at the bargain bookstore and couldn't pass it up...I mean, it has pirate ships! :) I had every intention of donating my first copy, but then I realized that it has two extra short stories that aren't included in the Puffin one. So, I obviously had to keep it. :)

Emma, by Jane Austen. I bought the B&N copy when I first started reading Austen. Emma has been one of my favorite of her novels right from the start. I remember reading it on the floor of my grandma's back porch, leaning against the dryer, because that was the quietest place in the house...I had never been exposed to the story before and I couldn't believe certain plot twists. :) A couple of years ago I bought the Penguin Threads edition, because I'm an embroiderer and it's just so beautiful. I can't seem to get rid of the old copy, though, because it's the first one I read.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. Even though P&P is my favorite Austen novel and one of my absolute favorite books ever, for years I only owned one copy of it. A couple of years ago, we randomly stopped by a little bookshop and I found a 1945 edition that was beautiful (despite the smudged cover)...for only $1.

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. This is one of my favorite books, and confession: I own four copies. The tacky paperback came first (I haven't gotten rid of it yet because it was my first copy, but eventually I might be able to let it go...maybe someday I'll give it to someone who has never read it before?). Then the little green copy from 1946, which still has the original owner's name and address written inside (I'm a sucker for that sort of thing). After that was the clothbound Penguin one. It was lovely...and I convinced myself I needed it because the 40s one felt a little fragile to read and I was planning on donating the paperback (and you see how that worked out). The gorgeous 1940s copy with the creepy engraving illustrations came last...I found it for $2 at Goodwill.

The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. These are my favorite books. I collect them because I have this irrational fear of something awful happening to all of my copies and never being able to read these stories again (because apparently in this nightmare Amazon and bookstores are extinct?). I don't even know...just don't take my Narnia books away from me. I own multiples of all but Prince Caspian, The Magician's Nephew, and The Last Battle. The Silver Chair is probably my favorite, and coincidentally (or not), I have three copies of that one. (And yes, the white 1970s ones are probably the ugliest editions ever, but I'm so attached to them and hello, original publication order!!)

The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis. I already had a copy of The Great Divorce (I used to love that one more than The Screwtape Letters, but now I can't decide). Then I bought that big bind-up, mostly for Mere Christianity, but also for the other works it included. Later, in the last year of high school, I studied The Screwtape Letters, so the homeschool program sent another copy with my textbooks. I kept the two individual copies because they're easier to carry around than the big collection.

A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd. I received an ARC of this lovely book earlier this year. I recently bought a copy because I had planned on buying one before I got the proof copy. The hardcover is just so cute (it's yellow and purple- my two favorite colors!) and I wanted to support Natalie and her awesome book (seriously, it's my favorite book I've read this year). Plus, I know there probably isn't much difference between an "uncorrected proof" and the real deal, but I'm curious, anyway. :)

Christy, by Catherine Marshall. I read this book for the first time at my granny's house. When I was a teenager, she had gotten to the point where she couldn't live by herself, so the family alternated weeks staying with her. Granny didn't have tons of books (well, novels anyway), so I had always noticed this little paperback on the shelf. One week while we were there I finally picked it up and read it. I'm glad I have this book, even though it's a cheesy TV edition (no, I haven't seen the series but I will after I reread the book) and the paper cover has actually come loose from the binding, because it reminds me of my grandma. Since the paperback is in such rough shape, I picked up a hardcover copy at the library book sale last year.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling. With the exception of these first two books, I had collected the entire HP series in hardcovers as they were released. I owned these in paperbacks, but I went on a mission to complete my series. I found the two first edition hardcovers at thrift stores...but of course I can't part with my old paperbacks. I've had them forever and they were my first introduction to the HP world.

When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne. While I much prefer the actual Winnie the Pooh books, Milne's two volumes of children's poetry are pretty good, too. I had the pink copy first, and I've kept it because it matches the covers of the rest of my series. I found the vintage copy (from 1933 or 1936, I think?) in the thrift store and it is so, so pretty. (And it has an inscription inside. Sold.)

Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers. I bought the adorable little vintage reproduction copy years and years ago. (I want to eventually collect them all in that format because they're so charming.) Later, at Goodwill (are you starting to see a theme here?) I found this 1960s copy of the first two books. (The cover is dirty and water damaged, but the pages are in perfect condition.) Even though I already owned the first book, I didn't have the second one, so it worked out nicely.

I told you I was hopelessly sentimental. :) Bookshelf space is precious, but holding on to books full of memories is totally worth it.

Do you own multiple copies of certain books? Why?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Knitting: Hermione Loves Ron hat.

I wish I could say that I'm halfway through the Half-Blood Prince (as it appears from that first photo), but I'm not. The truth is that I haven't even started rereading the Harry Potter series this summer...yet.

But I couldn't resist starting on this hat, and it was so worth it. Honestly, this was the most enjoyable knitting project I've had in a long, long time. Not that my recent projects have been terrible! It's just that this hat was so fun and quick to knit, and I adore the end result.

This is one of those projects that looks more complicated than it was. I had put it off for a while because it meant reading a chart. A very simple chart, it turns out, so I feel silly now for waiting so long. My favorite part is the gorgeous way the top of the hat looks with the decreases. I followed the pattern exactly except for going up a needle size (size 4 for the body, size 3 for ribbing) because I have a big head and I wanted to make sure it fit. :) I chose a darker gray than Hermione's is in the film, though, because I'm just not crazy about light gray on me. (The yarn is KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes sportweight).

I will definitely make this hat again...probably in several different colors.

I think I've finally caught up on posting my finished knits for a while. I'm still working away on these socks, but I'm still on the foot of the first one. This past week I've been doing more spinning than knitting. I've been spinning 8 ounces of Falkland from Spun Right Round, dyed in a much brighter colorway than I would usually choose. But I have high hopes for it. :)

Project page: Hermione Loves Ron hat.

P.S. Liesl, a sweet blogger who writes over at Liesl Made, was kind enough to do a little interview with me on her blog. You can see the post here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Series of Unfortunate Events.

When I was younger, I was a little obsessed with the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Even now I randomly remember certain parts of the's been years since I reread the series but there are so many quirky details that they've stuck with me. :)

I've been wanting to watch the film adaptation again, because it's one of those movies that I absolutely loved when I was younger.

First of all, I have to admit that this isn't a perfect adaptation, by any means. It covers the first three books in under two hours, so of course there are tons of details that didn't make it into the film. But I think they captured the feeling of the books. The dark humor and absurdity and quirkiness. I'm glad to say that I still love this movie, all these years later. :)

The whole look of the movie is gorgeous. It's dark and old-fashioned and sort of Tim Burton-ish. The sets are gloomy and incredibly detailed. The costumes are wonderful, especially Count Olaf's striped outfit and that ridiculous top hat he wears in the brief court scene. Sunny's dresses are so sweet.

The casting is pretty awesome, too! I'm not really a big Jim Carrey fan, but he is hilarious as Count Olaf (and Stefano...and Captain Sham). His facial expressions and voices are so bizarre. I know that Count Olaf isn't necessarily a comedic character in the book, but I like the lighter tone they took in the film. (And even though he's funnier, he's no less dangerous.) Captain Sham is great, but by far my favorite role of Jim Carrey's in this movie is Mr. Stefano. Oh my goodness...he cracks me up, with his "reconstructed" face and his moustache, which is a tad askew. And apparently Carrey improvised a lot of Stefano and Sham's lines, so I have to give him credit for that.

There are lots of famous faces in smaller parts, which is unusual but done really well. Mr. Poe is played by Timothy Spall (from Harry Potter, Enchanted, and lots of adaptations of Dickens novels). Then there's Jennifer Coolidge in a bit part (lately of Austenland), as well as Catherine O'Hara (known mostly to me as the mom from Penelope :). And of course there's Meryl Streep, though she has a bigger role. I wouldn't consider myself a big fan of hers, but recently I've seen several films of hers and she's been quite good in all of them. She is so funny and pitiful (and slightly mad) as Aunt Josephine. The hurricane scene in her house is a bit extreme, but I always liked how ironic it was that all of the crazy fears she had about her home actually happened. :)

Uncle Monty was always my favorite guardian, at least in the movie (probably in the books, since most of the guardians weren't fit to take care of children). Despite the whole snake thing, he's just so friendly and kind. I love his curly hair, his accent, and his cozy house that reminds me of a hobbit hole.

I like the casting with the children, too. I had a crush on movie Klaus when I was younger...probably because he loved books. :) Violet and Klaus really look like siblings, and Sunny is ridiculously adorable! I wish they had made her a little more similar to the book character, but she's so cute and some of her subtitled exclamations are hilarious.

The soundtrack is of my favorites. The music suits the film perfectly. And I have to mention the very beginning of the film and the credits. I can't remember whether I saw this in theaters or not, but it seems like I did. Anyway, the first time I saw it I remember thinking, am I even watching the right movie? The false beginning is so strange, but I love the way they tie it in. :) Also, I'm a bit obsessed with the animation in the credits. It's gorgeous.

The end of the movie is obviously left open for sequels, but unfortunately that never happened. I really wish it had, though. I don't know how easily they could have done it...they switched things around and it would have made the mysterious parts of the books difficult a little later on. And obviously they would have had to keep combining a few books into each film, because I don't think a thirteen part film series would have happened. :)

I really do love this movie. It still makes me laugh, just like it did ten years ago. I wanted to do a review(ish) because I honestly don't hear people talking about this film much. It seems like not many people have seen it, which is sad, so I'm spreading the word. :) Whether you've read the books or not, if you appreciate slightly dark, quirky humor, I think you'll like this movie.

Now I want to reread the series even more. :)

Have you read the book series or seen the film? What did you think?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Knitting: Lady Marple cardigan.

So...I finished this cardigan in April. Three months later, and I'm finally getting photos of it.

Compared to my first sweater, knitting this cardigan was a breeze. I started it on March 1st and finished it at the very beginning of April, though I had to wait on knitting the second button band until after I found buttons. I only had to rip back once, and that was because I thought I needed to add a couple of inches to make the sweater longer (that ended up being unnecessary, but more on that later).

The pattern, Lady Marple, was lovely (and isn't that the neatest name ever?). It's a basic enough sweater that I didn't feel super intimidated, but it had a few challenging parts that required me learn new knitting skills. Most of the sweater is stockinette, so it zips by quickly (especially in worsted weight yarn), but it has those lace panels on the front to keep things from getting too boring. :) With this sweater, I did my first three needle bind off, short row sleeve shaping (and my first non-raglan sleeves), and one row buttonholes.

My color choice was probably influenced by Call the Midwife. :) I used KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes worsted in the garnet heather colorway. I knew that I wanted wooden buttons from the beginning, and after a bit of searching I found these that I really liked at Hobby Lobby. I had to wait for them to order more, because they only had four in stock, and that delayed the finishing of my sweater a bit.

This sweater fits so much better than my first one. It's still a little big, though, mostly because it grew about three inches longer during blocking. Oops. And I don't think I stretched it...I just think that was a little quirk with my gauge that didn't show up until the yarn got soaked. So it turns out adding those extra inches was unnecessary, and now it's a little too long. Also, the sides poke out at the bottom a bit, because since the sweater grew, the hip increases don't lay exactly where they should.

I love this cardigan and I'll probably be knitting it again. I just won't be adding any extra length, especially if I use this same yarn. I only got to wear it about three times this spring before it got too warm, so I'm really excited to wear it a lot this fall. :) You can find more details on my project page.

I made this sweater in a bit of a knit-along with my friend Carolynn. I took the easy route for mine, while she did cables and colorwork, so basically my cardigan looks like a wimp compared to hers. :)

P.S. This blue t-shirt happens to be another Renfrew shirt, and my only real garment sewing of 2014 so far (pajamas don't count). I love the color and I wear this shirt a lot, though I'm not crazy about the's some sort of blend. From now on I'll stick with cotton. Anyway, the shirt wasn't worth a whole post so I just stuck it in here.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Knitting: mountain stream hat and mitts.

I was planning on using my mountain stream handspun for a hat, so I did. I ended up having a lot leftover, so I decided to make a pair of mitts to match. I was so paranoid about running out, but I lengthened the mitts and still had a bit leftover. I'm really amazed at just how far this one skein of handspun went. :)

The hat is from this pattern. Even though it's a slouchy hat, I had originally planned on wearing it pulled down on my head. Looking at the pictures, though, I think it looks better worn further back. I see people wearing hats like this all the time, and this is my question: how do you keep it from falling off your head? It feels like it'll just slip off, and not because it's too small (or too big). I thought about trying to sneak in some bobby pins to hold in place, but I'm not sure if that will work. Anyway, it isn't the most flattering hat ever, but I still like it and I love how the fractal spinning striped the yarn.

I love the mitts. :) They're similar enough to each other and to the hat for it to be obvious that they're a set, but without being too perfectly matched. As mentioned, I made them a little longer at the wrist (to avoid that long arms/short sleeves problem I tend to have with coats) and a little shorter at the knuckles. I would have made them even longer if I hadn't been worried about running out of yarn. The pattern is perfect if you have leftover fingering weight yarn, like 150-175 yards.

This yarn pleasantly surprised me all through the creative process, from how pretty it spun up to how far the 398-ish yards went in knitting. And it was also a great introduction to the wonders of fractal spinning, which I'll definitely be trying again soon.

As usual, more info on my project pages: hat and mitts.