Thursday, April 20, 2017

Knitting: more Hermione socks.

These socks took so much longer than they should have! They're basically all I've been knitting for the past couple of months...obviously I haven't been knitting much. I also got second sock syndrome with these. I'm so excited about knitting the new sock yarn that I bought at the fiber festival that I had to push through the second one.

They are Hermione's Everyday Socks, which is one of my favorite sock patterns. I think this is my fourth pair? The pattern is so simple, just a bit of texture, but my favorite part is the heel. I love how the garter edge makes the picked up stitches look so neat. I was finished with the first sock before I realized how the colors in this yarn are very similar to these socks, except much more muted and subtle.

This yarn is from the Unwind Yarn Company, in the Abalone colorway. It was a nice, twisty sock yarn that I'm sure will hold up well. (Monica was kind enough to send it to me!)

Project page.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Otherwise engaged.

If the blog is quieter than normal over the next few months, know that it's because I have a really good excuse...Kenny and I are engaged! :) As of two weeks ago, when he asked me to marry him on a completely normal night. (We were just hanging out, watching Sherlock, so it obviously took me by surprise and I suspected nothing.)

To say that I'm happy, excited, and thrilled seems like the biggest understatement ever. We're getting married at the end of October, so the next six months are going to be very busy with planning our wedding and fixing up the little house where we're going to live.

I can't even wrap my mind around the fact that I get to spend the rest of my life with Kenny. I'm not sure how I got so blessed, but I won't question it, I'll just be incredibly thankful that God sent him to me!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Yarny goodness.

My knitting has slowed to a snail's pace, so I haven't had much of that to post lately. (Though I still have a finished cardigan to get pictures of!) I'm working on a pair of socks that are stuck in some kind of time warp, as I can't seem to get past the heel on the second sock. But I do have some pretty yarny things to share!

Two weekends ago, I went with a couple of my knitting group friends to a fiber festival. Every April, I usually go to the Olde Liberty Fibre Faire {see 2014, 2015, and 2016}. But this year I decided to try out Carolina Fiber Fest. I was curious about seeing a different fiber festival, and I also realized that it would be better to go with other knitters rather than drag my family along with me (more fun for me and them!). Overall I really enjoyed it. I do prefer outdoors festivals, just because it's less crowded and stuffy, but there were more vendors at CFF.

Basically I just wanted to buy all of the sock yarn ever, but I made myself buy some spinning fiber too, so I can have more handspun yarn to sell this fall. The first two yarns above were from Twist Fiber Studio, which was my favorite booth at the festival. It's not often that I love all of the yarns from a dyer, but honestly every single yarn in her booth was beautiful. The one on the left is basic sock yarn in the Gypsy Heart colorway. On the right is sparkly fingering weight in the Harvest Season colorway. I also bought another skein from her that I can't share because it's for a Mother's Day gift. :)

I bought two other sock yarns in colorways that I had stalked on Etsy and planned to purchase. On the left is a tweedy yarn from Iria Yarn Company in the Sweater Weather colorway. And the last yarn is Bright Copper Kettles (love that name!) from Haute Knit Yarn. Then I bought four fibers to spin...the first three will be to sell, the fourth is all mine. :) There's BFL, Polwarth, Finnsheep, and Columbia/Rambouillet.

Speaking of spinning, I've probably been doing more of that than knitting lately! That lovely yarn on the bobbin is some BFL that Monica was kind enough to send me. Since taking that photo, I've finished spinning and plying it, so expect photos of that soon. The white handspun above is from local Gulf Coast Native fleece that I cleaned, carded, and spun. It seems very nice and surprisingly soft, which I'm glad about because that's the same breed as my sheep! (Which are in need of shearing right now, as soon as I can find a shearer...)

A few more yarnish acquisitions: several vendors were selling fair trade African woven baskets at the fiber festival. I'd thought about ordering one before, and I came so close to buying one there but instead decided to stick with fiber. But after I got home, I ended up ordering one. It's so pretty and it's already full of yarn, patterns, and knitting needles! And then there are more GnomeAcres mini skeins for my scrap blanket. Because apparently mini skeins are irresistible.

On a completely random note, I finally saw Moana the other day. It didn't blow me away, but it was cute and very pretty, and I've had the chorus of You're Welcome stuck in my head ever since. (You're welcome, now you do, too.)

{I know this post was all over the place, I'm sorry! More cohesive updates and projects coming soon, I promise.}

Saturday, April 1, 2017

What I Read: March

Look at that sad little stack of books! I'm afraid that March was rather a slumpy reading month for me. (Mostly because of that first book, which I struggled through for almost the first half of the month.) As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

Dangerous, by Shannon Hale. I love Shannon Hale. She's written some of my favorite books and I'd consider her one of my favorite authors, but wow. I don't really know what this was, and I don't know what to even say about it. It was like a crazy, bizarre, action-y, sci-fi teen romance that was originally going to be a trilogy but instead got crammed into one book. Hmph. I should have put it aside, but I wanted to see how much weirder it could get.

Life Among the Savages, by Shirley Jackson. I really enjoyed this! So far, Shirley Jackson has not let me down. This was so different from her usual books, but it was very funny. I love her writing style and I can't wait to read more by her.

Last in a Long Line of Rebels, by Lisa Lewis Tyre. I expected more from this middle grade novel, especially with such an adorable cover. (I know, I know, but I can't help it.) It handled racism in a graceful way and I love the little realistic bits that pop up in books like these, set in the south. But it wasn't as special and amazing as I'd hoped.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Beauty and the Beast {2017}

Last week, my mom and I went to see the new Beauty and the Beast in theaters. I had no immediate plans to review it here, and as soon as we came out of the theater I remember thinking, "I have so many thoughts about this that there's no way I can express them all." And yet by the time I got home, I'd decided to write a post about the movie. :)

As I mentioned in my last post (a review of the animated film), Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie. It came out the year I was born, and I grew up loving it (and obviously I still do). So I was wondering how that would affect my feelings for the live action remake...would I love it no matter what because it's my favorite, or would I be more critical because it has so much to live up to?

I think my bias made me veer into the "more critical" category. The movie was so, so good, but not quite perfect. I felt myself getting nitpicky over a few things. But...I do feel like I'll love this movie more each time I watch it.

Let's start off with the good, okay? Beauty and the Beast was a beautiful film. Between the colors and costumes and sets, it was visually so stunning. And the cast was excellent. Honestly, I can't think of a single character that wasn't a perfect fit. Emma Watson will forever be Hermione to me, but she fit very well as bookish Belle. Dan Stevens (again, forever Matthew Crawley) was wonderful as the Beast. I'm not a fan of over-the-top CGI, especially in these live action Disney films, but I was so impressed with how realistic he looked. It amazes me how they can incorporate Dan Stevens' facial features and expressions into the Beast. Gaston and all of the supporting characters at the castle were lovely as well!

I like what Disney does with the live action adaptations. It's nice how they slightly expand on the historical setting or add some backstory to often vague fairy tales, or how they answer questions. Here they really ran with the 1700s-1800s French setting, with the wigs and clothing and everything. (Matthew Crawley in makeup and a wig: I'll never be able to look at him the same!) And in this movie, they answered the question of why the villagers had forgotten about the Beast, and I loved the little reference to the original Mrs. Potts being elderly and having a young child. (It involved Emma Thompson getting offended when someone refers to her as a grandmother, ha.)

Be Our Guest was one of my favorite scenes. It was gorgeous and hilarious and just perfect! I also really loved the classic title song scene. It made me feel so nostalgic, remembering how it felt to grow up watching that scene in the animated film, and knowing that little girls now will grow up feeling the same way about the live action version. And Belle's dress, oh my goodness. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I loved her dress so much more than Cinderella's. It was beautiful! So was the library. The end fight was appropriately dramatic and tense, though I was a bit disappointed with Gaston for taking the easy way out and just shooting the Beast. I liked how they showed all of the servants at the castle becoming completely inanimate again at the made that part even more heartbreaking than it already was.

Now that I think about it, what I didn't like about this movie comes down to aspects of the music. I didn't like the new songs at all. They might grow on me some eventually, but I think the film would have been basically perfect if they had left out the new songs. One of the best things about Beauty and the Beast is the music: the songs are catchy and funny and they intertwine perfectly. The original songs are so good that the new ones felt cheesy and mediocre, especially lyrically. Also, why did they mess with Emma Watson's voice? So what if she doesn't sing perfectly? Most everyone else's voices sounded genuine and like themselves, but the auto-tuning on her voice in "Belle" made me cringe. I didn't notice it as much in later songs, so maybe that was the main one they altered. Besides that, I also didn't like the scene where the Beast and Belle sort of magically teleported to the place where her mother died. I see what they were trying to do, but it felt random and out of place.

{I know much has been said about Gaston's sidekick LeFou. Honestly, I feel like the whole thing was blown out of proportion. LeFou is obviously a bit feminine in this version, but unless you're specifically looking for this "gay subplot," you're not going to find it.}

I started writing this post the evening after we saw the film, when it was all fresh on my mind and I was feeling a little critical. Even now, just a week later, I'm already feeling more positive looking back at this adaptation. I can't say that it's better than the animated version, but it is really beautifully done, and I'm sure my little issues with it will be forgotten about after a couple more viewings! :)

Have you seen the new Beauty and the Beast? What did you think?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Beauty and the Beast {1991}

{Animated Disney Film #30 of 56}

I know I've mentioned this (multiple times) before, but Beauty and the Beast is my absolute favorite Disney movie. So be prepared for some gushing. :) This movie came out in 1991, the year I was born, and I grew up watching it and loving it. But as I've continued watching it as an adult, I've come to appreciate it even more!

From those first few notes of music in the prologue, I just love everything about this movie. (Well, I do have a few tiny qualms, which I'll mention later.) First of all, let's talk about Belle. She is obviously the best Disney princess! Or at least she has always been my favorite. :) She's smart, and she's a bookworm. She has a tendency to wear colors like blue and yellow and green. She's a brunette. (Never underestimate the significance of a fellow brown-haired girl in a sea of blond princesses.)

And most importantly, Belle has common sense and a strong sense of morality. (One good example: when the Beast rescues her from the wolves and he's injured. Even though he just saved her life, she could have easily escaped, but she chose not to. She keeps her promises.) I can't help but compare her behavior and personality to Ariel's in The Little Mermaid. Ariel is so shallow and annoying and spoiled, and she would have fallen for Gaston in a minute. (Paige O'Hara is the voice of Belle, and she was chosen because they felt her voice had a slight Judy Garland-ish quality. And apparently Belle was made to look reminiscent of Judy Garland? I never knew that before, but now looking at her, I can kind of see that.)

All of the other characters in this movie are equally interesting. The Beast reminds me a bit of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre...rough around the edges, with some mistakes in his past, but such a redeemable character. Gaston: wow. He has to be one the biggest jerks in Disney history. :) He's just a conceited, arrogant annoyance at the beginning, but he quickly escalates into full-blown villain after trying to get Belle's dad sent to the asylum and hunting the Beast. And then there are all of the charming enchanted servants in the castle: Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip, etc.

I love the music in Beauty and the Beast. Originally it was not going to include songs, which I can't even wrap my mind around, because this movie was meant to be a musical. The songs were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the talented team responsible for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. Not only are all of the songs catchy, but the lyrics are amazing and hilarious. I find myself cracking up when I listen closely to the words of Gaston and Be Our Guest. Be Our Guest is also stunning's just like the elaborate, over-the-top dance numbers in those old musicals I love so much.

A few other little random things: the Beast's library. That has to be a memorable part for every book lover who has ever watched this movie. I know it's the reason why it's one of my life goals to someday have a bookcase tall enough to require a ladder. :) Also, the end of the movie always makes me teary-eyed. During the battle scene when the Beast has lost the will to fight Gaston because Belle is gone, that gets me every time. And then I get teary for nicer reasons when the transformation happens. :)

There are a couple things that always bothered me as a kid about this movie. First of all, why is Mrs. Potts a white-haired, grandmotherly type when her son, Chip, is a young child? And then there's the fact that I used to be so disappointed with how the Beast looked after he turned back into his human form. I think it was the long hair that always threw me off, ha. It doesn't bother me as much now...I like that he's so tall and broad, like the Beast, and I guess the longer hair fits with his Beast look, too. And then something that I only noticed the most recent time I watched: how did the village not know about the Beast? He was a prince, so logically he should have been the ruler of this nearby village, and the curse only happened about 10 years before. But it's like nobody remembers him.

Obviously, those little qualms don't affect my love for Beauty and the Beast at all. :) It really is the perfect Disney movie, in my opinion: pretty animation, incredibly memorable songs, good characters and plot, and the right blend of humor and drama.

Of course I'm very excited about the live action version of this story that's coming out this weekend. I might even review it here at some point. But up next on the animated list is another childhood favorite: Aladdin.

What do you think about Beauty and the Beast? What's your favorite Disney movie?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yarn Along

Reading: Life Among the Savages, by Shirley Jackson. Ever since I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle (and absolutely loved it) and a collection of her short stories, I've been meaning to read more Shirley Jackson. This is so different from her usual style (eerie, unsettling...just plain creepy), but I'm loving it so far! It's a memoir about her raising her children in an old house in the Vermont countryside. It's amusing and I just love her writing style.

Knitting: A sock, always. :) Just a couple more inches on the foot and this one will be finished, then on to the second of the pair. It's another pair of Hermione's Everyday Socks...I really love that pattern!

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sock scrap blanket {100 squares}.

Two years ago, I started my blanket made from sock yarn scraps. Last week I completed the 100th square, so I thought it might be a good time to share my progress.

100 squares over two years isn't really that many, especially considering I had almost half of those done just months after starting the blanket. But this is a long-term project with no deadline. Sometimes I'll finish ten or twenty squares over a few weeks, and sometimes I'll go months without even touching it.

I really do love everything about knitting on this blanket. (Well, everything except weaving in the ends. I do those every 5 squares so I won't get behind.) I love picking out the next color and occasionally buying cute mini skeins to add in. I love all of the memories involved: being able to see glimpses of so many previous projects in one place, and remembering where all of the yarns came from. I love how it's easy and mindless knitting, a perfect break from more challenging projects.

To celebrate, I bought that pack of St. Patrick's Day themed mini skeins from Gnome Acres. Here's hoping the next hundred squares don't take two years! :)

You can find more about my progress here, or more information on my Ravelry project page.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What I Read: February

February was an okay reading month. I really enjoyed two of the books I read, but the rest were just okay. I'm trying to make sure that each month I read at least a couple of books that have been on my shelves for a long time, and that's been going well. As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This was a very good middle grade novel about two siblings evacuated from London during WWII. Not the most original premise, but there is an interesting twist: the daughter has a clubfoot and has been kept in her apartment her entire life by her abusive mother. I really enjoyed this one, but oh, that horrible mother made me so furious.

The Miserable Mill, by Lemony Snicket. I sporadically started rereading a Series of Unfortunate Events last year. I'd read the first three, and after I found out that the new Netflix series (which I haven't seen yet) covered up through the fourth book, I decided to reread it so I'll be ready to watch the series. I didn't remember much about this's not one of my favorites but it was still good.

A Little Something Different, by Sandy Hall. This was my fluffy, romantic Valentine's read. It was about what I expected: pretty cute but nothing mind-blowing and not something I'll ever reread. The whole 14 viewpoints thing was hard to get used to.

Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. I don't even know what to say about this book. It sounded like something that would be right up my alley, but I didn't enjoy it. It improved near the end, but it was strange and bizarre, and so far from the hilarious modern classic I'd been led to expect.

A Pocket Full of Rye, by Agatha Christie. After slogging through Cold Comfort Farm for ten days, a Miss Marple mystery was exactly what I needed! This one was very enjoyable and comforting. (British murder mysteries are comforting to me, apparently?)

The Yarn Whisperer, by Clara Parkes. I enjoy yarny memoirs in general (think Stephanie Pearl McPhee's books), but this one was just okay. I felt like it was trying too hard to be philosophical most of the time, but I did like some of the essays.

In February, I also decided to start quitting books. Not without good reason, of course, but there are so many books that I want to read, why would I waste my time on ones that I'm not enjoying? I struggled through about half of this book, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, before finally deciding to stop. It wasn't awful by any means, but it didn't feel worth continuing. I don't know why quitting books has always been so hard for me!

{This post is a little late because honestly it's been a rough week. Pa, my grandfather, passed away Tuesday night. He was eighty-eight, but it felt very unexpected because other than a bad stomach bug for several days previous, he seemed so healthy. My family would appreciate your prayers.}

Friday, February 24, 2017

Knitting: Germinate shawl.

One of my favorite bloggers used to be Amanda of Hey Porkchop. (I say "used to be" because she stopped blogging for a while, but she has started up again this year! In that hiatus, I started following her Instagram. I don't have Instagram but still keep an eye on a few of my favorite accounts over there.) I loved her knitting and quilting projects: the colors and yarns she picked, the cozy and autumn feel of her aesthetic, etc. She made me want to be a sock knitter before I even knitted my first pair. But my favorite project was her Germinate shawl. It was so gorgeous! At that point, I'd only been knitting less than two years and I couldn't even imagine getting to where that shawl was within my skill level.

But here it is, my own Germinate shawl! For the last couple of years, I'd planned on knitting this pattern at some point, but I really didn't intend on stealing Amanda's color scheme so shamelessly. :) At a visit to a yarn shop, I just happened to buy three skeins of sportweight yarn in these colors, planning on using them for different projects. When I bought them, the lady mentioned that they looked nice together, but I didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until sometime last year that I realized they were the same colors as Amanda's shawl, and that if I bought one more skein of purple, I'd have enough to knit one for myself. (I contacted the shop and they just happened to have one more skein of purple in the dye lot I needed. Obviously this was meant to be, ha.)

Though I used two different brands, all of the yarn is 100% American raised Rambouillet wool. The purple and orange are Swans Island All American Collection Sport in the Crocus and Flame colorways. The gray is Equity Sport from Sincere Sheep (which is naturally dyed) in the colorway Winter's Night. I really like Rambouillet fiber in general, and both of these yarns have a natural, semi-woolen feel. They aren't overly processed...I did often have to pull out prickly bits of VM from the Swans Island yarn, and the Sincere Sheep yarn had some little nubby pieces too.

The pattern itself is very well written and thorough, down to the stitch counts listed. But I haven't knitted a lot of lace before, and this lace was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever worked on. Because of printer issues, I couldn't print the charts, only the written instructions, and I had to be completely focused on keeping my place. No movie watching while working on the lace sections! For some reason, my brain wasn't finding this lace to be very intuitive, but I can't really complain because I love the end result.

Using these colors, which I love separately but wouldn't normally choose to use together, was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I'm so happy with this shawl! It doesn't quite have the light, drapey, elegant feel of most of the Germinate shawls out there because of my yarn choices. (The picot bind off, for example, is a little bulky, especially because I didn't block out each point. I don't have enough pins or patience for that!) But I like that it's rustic and wooly...that's more my style anyway. :) The fact that it's made from all American, hand dyed yarn is even better! It feels satisfying to finally have the ability to knit something that, for such a long time, felt too difficult for me to attempt.

Project page.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Yarn Along

Reading: A Pocket Full of Rye, by Agatha Christie. This is one that I've never read before or seen a TV adaptation of, so the mystery is all new to me and I'm really liking it. British mysteries are my ultimate comfort entertainment, whether in book or movie form. :)

Knitting: Now that I finished my two bigger projects (sweater and shawl), I've been working on my sock yarn scrap blanket again. It's been almost two years since I started it, and I want to reach 100 squares before next month. Then I'll get some good pictures of my progress so far.

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

Friday, February 17, 2017


The longer you go without writing a blog post, the harder it is to write one, apparently! There has been knitting, and there have been things I want to talk about, but I always find an excuse. I haven't made enough progress on this project, the lighting is too bad for photos, I'm not really enjoying what I'm reading at the moment, etc. But two weeks without a post is too long, so please excuse the not-great photos and the rambling nature of this one. :)

I feel like I've been knitting the same projects since the beginning of the year. It's the same thing I did last year: after months of craft fair and Christmas knitting, I'm so excited to make something for myself that I go overboard and start too much, and then those projects linger for a little too long. I did finish my Marion cardigan, but I'm waiting for the buttons I ordered. I found those two vintage navy buttons in my stash and got obsessed with the thought of using them for the sweater. I'm usually not picky about buttons, but I really wanted these. I needed five and only had two, so I searched online until I found some on eBay. I'm waiting for them to arrive now, and hoping that they will be the correct size. Then I'll be able to get pictures of the finished sweater!

I'm still knitting on my Germinate shawl. I've enjoyed knitting this shawl, and I think I'll love the end result, but the lace sections make my brain hurt. They're not that difficult, but for some reason they don't feel intuitive at all and there are so many repeats, and repeats within repeats. I couldn't print the charts so I'm having to use the written instructions and it's mind-boggling. I can't listen to conversation or watch TV while working on it. Yesterday I knocked out several rows of the last section, until I made the same mistake twice and had to redo almost an entire row. (Frogging lace is not my favorite. After that I decided to put it aside for the rest of the day.) I'm hoping to finish it in the next few days.

(And in the midst of all that, I cast on a new pair of socks with some lovely yarn that Monica kindly sent me. I need some mindless knitting!)

I'm reading Cold Comfort Farm, a book that I've owned for a while, and I'm not enjoying it very much. It's supposed to be a hilarious parody, but I'm not really seeing that. It's such a short book that I would feel bad about not finishing it, so I'm trying to push through. I've also started reading more of the Sherlock Holmes stories, just one or two a week, and of course I'm enjoying those.

Kenny and I have started watching Doc Martin recently. It started with getting drawn into random episodes on PBS, but now we've started at the beginning, getting the series through Netflix. I'm a huge fan of British TV anyway, and even better if the story features a town full of kooky characters. :) I'd heard of the show before but wasn't really interested because I thought it was a medical show. But other than the main character being a doctor, there isn't much of that, and it's so funny!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What I Read: January

After being in a reading slump for most of December, I was glad to start off this year with a pretty good stack of books. Thanks to a long weekend being stuck in the house (due to a bad cold plus 8 inches of snow), I managed to get a lot of reading done! As always, click on the title for my Goodreads review.

Something New, by Lucy Knisley. I read one of this author's earlier books last year and was a little disappointed with it. But the whole idea of a graphic novel memoir intrigued me enough to try another of her books. This one is about the author and her fiancé planning their wedding. Overall I really enjoyed it. The illustration style was very cute, and my only real complaint was that the author comes across as a bit annoying at times.

The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan. The second book in the Percy Jackson series, which I started back in November. This one was fun and enjoyable, but not as good as the first!

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. Just like her first book, this one was light and quick, with some of the essays being funnier than others.

The Spindlers, by Lauren Oliver. I'm not sure how I feel about this one. The beginning was very promising, and there were some really lovely, creative, charming parts. But it felt tedious. I think I'm getting pickier about middle grade books, which makes me sad!

Unmentionable, by Therese Oneill. You know those things that you always wonder about in BBC period dramas, things that either don't seem historically accurate or are never even mentioned? This book promises to answer those questions, and I guess it does to a degree. But the interesting information is buried under too much sarcasm and too many jokes. So even though I found out some new information, this one wasn't what I expected.

Miss Jane, by Brad Watson. I picked up this book solely because of the cover and the title, because they reminded me of Pride and Prejudice. :) I really loved the first half, but things kept going downhill for most of the characters in the second half. The writing is really beautiful, and I felt compelled to keep reading throughout the entire book. But the story was sad and focused so much on loneliness that it was difficult to feel satisfied by the time it was over.

The Shepherd's Life, by James Rebanks. I've been wanting to read this one for a long time now! I enjoyed it a lot, though maybe not as much as I thought I would. The author's attitude grated on my nerves a lot, and the book felt disjointed and choppy at times. But sometimes the writing and imagery was beautiful, and if you're at all interested in sheep, I feel like you'd enjoy this book.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Yarn Along

Reading: The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This is a middle grade novel about a young girl and her brother who leave their abusive mother to go stay in the English countryside during the Blitz. I'm enjoying it so far...there's a bit of a different twist to it than the usual evacuee story.

Knitting: My Marion cardigan. I needed a navy cropped cardigan to wear over dresses, so that's what I'm knitting. I'm almost through with the body, so it's finally starting to look like a sweater! :) Then I'll just have the sleeves and button band/neckband left.

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

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Rescuers Down Under {1990}

{Animated Disney Film #29 of 56}

Honestly, this movie is the reason why my Disney movie plans got derailed. I had it in my Netflix queue, but it became unavailable on there, and I couldn't find it anywhere. (I didn't want to pay for a copy because I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not.) I didn't know how I was going to watch it, and I didn't want to move on with the list until I did. Finally I found the movie on YouTube. (The version I watched cut off a couple of minutes before the end, so I had to find another upload to watch those last few minutes.)

The Rescuers Down Under is basically what it sounds like: a sequel to 1977's The Rescuers set in Australia. (That was fun, because I went through a stage as a young teenager when I was obsessed with Australia, thanks to the Newsboys.) The plots are even very similar: a child is kidnapped by a villain who wants to use them to find something they want. But being set in Australia, this one is much more of an adventure story.

Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor reprised their voice roles as the two main rescuers: Bernard and Bianca. The sound quality on the video I was watching was so bad that I didn't even recognize them as the same voices at first, ha. The distortion also made the kid sound like he was about 4 years old, so I had a hard time imagining him doing all of the adventurous things he does. (Apparently the boy who did the voice for Cody was Norwegian?) My favorite character was probably the albatross...just like in the first movie. :) Although they're technically different albatrosses, cousins or brothers or something.

The villain, an incredibly creepy poacher, is voiced by George C. Scott. I don't know what it is, but I usually find the villain in a somewhat realistic setting so much worse than those in fantastical stories. (I know the animals talk, but otherwise it's more realistic than a lot of other Disney movies.) It started off with the disturbing way he pulled Cody out of his trap, by having him grab hold of a gun barrel to climb out. But then it escalated quickly, with a kidnapping, and ended up with the kid dangling over crocodile infested waters. (What is it with crocodiles in these movies, by the way?)

There were no songs in this movie, and I was glad of that. I love good Disney songs, but honestly the songs were my least favorite part of the original Rescuers movie, so I didn't miss them at all here. They were originally planned but were felt to be out of place, and I'd agree. :)

The Rescuers Down Under marks a change in the way Disney movies were made: it was the first animated film where all of the final elements were assembled and completed digitally, using the CAPS process (which was Disney's first collaboration with Pixar!). This movie was actually the least successful, box office wise, of the "Disney renaissance" films. That's a big contrast to the original film, which was Disney's most successful film to date at the time it was released.

So overall, I enjoyed this movie, even though it's not a new favorite. It was exciting and held my interest, and there were some funny moments. But I think I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been watching a better quality video!

Next up on the list is my absolute favorite Disney movie: Beauty and the Beast. I can't wait! :)

Do you like The Rescuers Down Under? Which do you prefer: the original one or this sequel?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Weaving: my first attempt.

Last year I picked out a small, basic lap loom for Christmas. (I got it from an Etsy shop, but it seems they're no longer in business.) I started practicing on it once last year, but then didn't pick it back up again. One of my resolutions in 2017 is to learn the basics of weaving, so with that fresh in my mind, I cut out what I'd started last year and made myself a wall hanging. :)

I used two tutorials to help me out: this one from Karen at Fringe Association and this one. I'm pretty comfortable with the actual weaving part now, I just need to work on making my edges more uniform. And the whole process of getting the piece off the loom stressed me out, because I wove so close to the bottom edge that when I cut the strands, there wasn't much to tie there. I think I've figured out something different to try next time to make that go a little more smoothly.

I keep a lot of my yarn scraps, especially handspun yarn. So I used some of my favorite scraps for this, and I tried to stick with a sort of brown/blue/hot pink color scheme. I didn't intend on making that middle section so wide, but it was handspun left from a skein I sold, and the color changes looked so pretty that I had to keep going. :)

So I don't think weaving is going to be my new thing, but it was fun to spend a few hours one afternoon working on this tacky little wall hanging! I'll probably make one every few months or so, and eventually it might be nice to have a few of them to sell at craft fairs, too.

{I didn't have a wooden dowel, but I do have a jar full of straight knitting needles that I don't use, and hey, it works! Also, my room is dark, especially the corner where this weaving is hanging, so that's why the pictures are of it hanging on a tree instead, ha.}

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Yarn Along

Reading: The Shepherd's Life, by James Rebanks. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, because I'm very interested in the Lake District and sheep and fiber things in general (obviously). At the beginning, it wasn't quite as amazing as I'd hoped, but now that I'm halfway through I'm liking it more.

Knitting: My Germinate shawl. It's grown a lot since the last time I posted about it. I'm working on the last stripe section now, and then I'll have only one more lace section until it's finished. The lace already looks very nice, I can't wait to block it! (There's something you'll never hear me say. Only with lace.)

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Little Mermaid {1989}

{Animated Disney Film #28 of 56}

Remember how I was doing that series where I watched all of the animated Disney movies and reviewed them? Oh yeah. It had probably slipped your mind, just like it (apparently) did mine. It's been almost two years since the last one. But I do want to finish the list, so I'm going to try to get back on track. I actually watched The Little Mermaid about six months ago with the intention of reviewing it then, but I was watching with two little girls, so you can imagine it was difficult to jot down notes. This past week I finally took the time to watch it again.

I really loved The Little Mermaid as a kid. I was born in 1991 so it was one of those Disney movies made between the late 80s and mid-90s that was prominent during my childhood. I remember lots of mermaid-themed merchandise (like an indoor play tent and a little table with chairs). But it's not one that I've watched often as an adult, so I was curious how I'd feel about it.

My main thought about this movie now: Wow, Ariel is really annoying! I know she's only supposed to be like 16 years old, so I guess she has the angsty teenage thing going on. But she really just comes across as a spoiled brat. She's the youngest daughter, and apparently the favorite of her father, since the other sisters are given no personalities at all. And even though Disney princess movies are well known for featuring love-at-first-sight/"instalove," it seems worse in this one. Ariel doesn't even know Prince Eric. She sees him once (not even having a conversation with him, mind you) and becomes obsessed. Then the next thing you know, she's risking everything for the chance he might like her.

Disliking Ariel so much now might have tainted my opinion of the film a little. But I still ended up enjoying it. The supporting characters are so interesting and entertaining that it makes up for Ariel and Eric. My personal favorite is Scuttle, the seagull voiced by Buddy Hackett. He is such a goober, and he cracks me up. Sebastian is also hilarious. And Ursula is so creepy...she reminds me in a way of a deranged, underwater Cruella De Vil. Surprisingly there aren't many well known actors among the voices. (Though apparently Jim Carrey auditioned for the voice of Prince Eric? What? Ha, maybe then Eric would've been a bit more interesting.)

The music in The Little Mermaid is amazing. Of course it is, because it's Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who wrote some of my favorite Disney songs. Honestly, I love all of the songs in the movie. (And now I'm sure I'll have them stuck in my head for days.) I had never noticed it before, but the chef's song reminds me of Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast. The tune sounds similar, but then they're both sung in heavy French accents so that could be part of it. :)

The animation is nice, though for me it's not one of the most memorable aspects of the film. I have to admit that Eric's oceanfront castle is pretty beautiful! And the Kiss the Girl scene is visually lovely, too. The dramatic scene at the end is done really well. Of course I know how everything turns out, but it was still intense!

I'll probably always enjoy The Little Mermaid for nostalgic reasons. And despite Ariel's obnoxiousness, it is a good film. Even if it's not a favorite, I can still respect that it was the beginning of the "Disney Renaissance" and all of those 90s Disney classics. :) I've read that Disney was planning to adapt this story as far back as when Snow White was released! It took a long time to happen, but I think it came at the right time.

Up next is one I've never seen before: The Rescuers Down Under. I'm having trouble finding a copy of this one, but I think I've finally found a way to watch it. So hopefully it won't be too long now! :)
How do you feel about The Little Mermaid? Does Ariel win the "Most Annoying Princess" award or should it go to someone else?