Friday, September 28, 2012

My Life In Stitches: New Cool Knitting Stuff

This month I’ve come across some new cool knitting things. I guess I’ve spent too much time on Raverly. With my last blog post of the month, I want to share some of those things with you.

We Are So Very Pretty colorway
Nerd Girl Yarns. I have a friend who loves Firefly, so when I came across Nerd Girl Yarns, I couldn’t wait to share it with her. Nerd Girl Yarns names their colorways with lines from Firefly. I read the names to my friend, and she knew exactly what episode they came from. Beyond the moment of bonding I had with my friend, the colorways are lovely. Nerd Girl Yarns is on my yarn bucket list.

Lifted Increase. This week, I learned how to knit a lifted increase. It was pretty simple once I practiced a little. I needed to learn it for the Skew socks I’m working on. Here is a video.

Overdying yarn. I think most knitters have a skein or two of yarn that captured our attention in the skein but ending up being not so exciting in the cake. I have a skein of purple sock yarn like that. I made a pair of socks, but didn’t like the color pattern. So I, being the geek that I am, researched overdying yarn. It was way more simple than I thought. I’ll be making my attempt next week.

Miss Terry by Kyla Hurst

Miss Terry. What a cool name! My lovely knitting friend, Jill hipped me to this pattern. It is so me. I love working on lace and I have plenty of DK in my stash to work with. Can’t wait to start this. Isn't it every girl's dream to wear herself?

Raverly Groups

For the Love of Darcy. For those who don’t know, I am a huge Jane Austen fan. And once again, my knitting friend Jill suggested the Raverly group, For the Love of Darcy (Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen book). Right now, there’s a discussion of which Darcy (Firth or Macfadyen) looked better wet. Hilarious!

What cool new knitting stuff have you come across?

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Life in Stitches: Everything's Better with Fall

Tomorrow is the first day of fall, my favorite season. I’m especially looking forward to the season change with all the weird and hot summer weather we’ve had. The cooler days almost seem strange compared to the multiple tornado watches and 100+ degree days. That all seems to be over now that fall is here (let’s pray that we don’t have the extreme winter the forecasters are predicting). 

I don’t know what it is about fall that makes everything so wonderful. I guess there is a certain romance about it that infuses everything and makes it better. In honor of fall, I’ve come up with my list of everything that’s better with fall.

Emerald Isle Cardigan
  1. Knitting. Okay, this is a knitting post, so of course knitting is better with fall. All my projects just got better, even the ones I’ve been working on for weeks. Not only are my WIPs better, but all the projects in my cue just got better. I’ve wanted to make an Emerald Isle Cardigan for a long time, but just couldn’t get the motivation to do it. It seemed too hot to work on. Now that it’s cooler, I’m so ready. I’m also ready to add a few scarves, hats and fingerless gloves to my queue.
  2. Anything with pumpkin. I recently discovered that Panera is offering a Pumpkin Pie Bagel with New York Style Cheesecake cream cheese this fall. Heavenly. It’s also time for all the pumpkin-flavored drinks. I’ve got my eye out for the Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea that’s I can find only during this time of year. As a matter of fact, all food is better in the fall.
  3. Nature. Fall is the time that nature really shows off. Yes, the flowers of spring are pretty, but there is nothing like a tree ablaze with oranges and yellows. And of course I’m partial to the fact that my butterfly plants bloom in fall. Yeah, I have to deal with the bees, but when you take the good with the bad, you appreciate the good more.
  4. Snuggling. My husband and I both knit, so there are some nights that we snuggle together on the couch and knit and talk. That’s not fun in 100 degree temps, but with a slight chill in the air, it’s amazing. We are both big tea drinkers, too, so our snuggling often includes a cup of something warm.
  5. The Pepco Bill. This is the time of year that you can turn the AC off, and if you don’t have horrible allergies like me, open your windows and let nature lower your electric bills. Even if you don’t open the windows, the nights are cool enough to lower the temps inside. And then you can snuggle, drink tea, and eat something with pumpkin and knit.

What else is better with fall?

Friday, September 14, 2012

My Life in Stitches: Back in Paris

Paris is an interesting city. Some people love it. Some people hate it. I am among the hate crowd. Maybe not as strong as hate, but I did strongly dislike it. It was a little too dirty for my tastes and I think maybe my expectations were a little high. And honestly, I would go back to see Notre Dame and the Louvre and actually go to the Eiffel Tower (I saw it from the window on the trip back).

Apparently, I like knitting projects about Paris more than I actually liked being there. The knitting "trip" to the City of Lights begin with my $5 in Paris sweater, which was delightful project (see post). This time, my "trip" was the Dinner in the Eiffel Tower scarf by Jessie Dodington. I'd added this scarf to my Ravelry favorites last month and discovered that I had enough DK weight yarn in my stash to try it. I was also excited to try a semi-circle scarf with that much lace. Most of the ones I've done were triangles. I must say that this scarf wasn't as fun as the sweater, namely the lattice lace section. 

One of the things I love about knitting is that one project can pretty much solidify your likes and dislikes in knitting. This project reminded me that I don't know knitting lace on the wrong side, especially when you work on 200+ stitches of lace. 

Also, I realized I have a "hate it on the needles" problem. I repeatedly told my husband that I wasn't going to like this pattern, until I casted it off and blocked it. I even didn't like the yarn that I was using while I was knitting it (Sidar Flirt, 80% bamboo, 20% wool), but when I blocked it, it has a good weight to it. It's heavy than what I'm used to in my shawls but with cooler weather coming, this may be a good item to have in my wardrobe. 

Thanks, Renae for the pics. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tea and Read: September Seconds - The Art of Romance

Title: The Art of Romance
Author: Kaye Dacus
Rating: Two cups of tea (★★★★)

I have a confession to make. I read the first two books of this series out of order. This is one of the few times I’ve done this in my life. Despite that, the book drew me in enough that I didn’t mind.

Author Kaye Dacus will ignite your love of romance with book 2 of her Matchmakers series. Dylan Bradley, who once illustrated steamy romances under the name Patrick Callaghan, has moved into his grandparent’s guest house in Nashville. Caylor Evans, having once written titillating novels under the penname Melanie Mason, lives with her grandmother. When their lives collide, due to the machinations of meddling matriarchs, the pasts of Dylan and Caylor threaten to derail their futures. Will they accept each other for who they now are—and once were? Or will they never discover the true art of romance?

Once again, Kaye Dacus provides another unique romance. Dylan and Caylor’s relationship fascinates me because it’s the first time in Christian fiction novel that I’ve read where the heroine was older than the hero. When I discovered this, I became nervous because I’ve had a few bad relationships with younger men. Honestly, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to like the book before I’d read half of it.

But I did like it. Dacus does a great job of building the relationship between the two and handling Dylan’s past of being in a relationship with an older woman. Dylan’s previous relationship and his relationship with Caylor create a good contrast of how older-female relationships should and should not be like.

As for the plot, it was engaging, a standard for Dacus. Characters were well thought out and memorable. I loved the use of art in this book and how Dacus developed Dylan and Caylor's relationship. This book wasn’t emotionally heavy, but it was a good conversation starter. Looking forward to reading the last book in this series. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tea and Read: September Seconds- Love Remains

Title: Love Remains
Author: Kaye Dacus
Rating: One cup of tea (★★★)

Kaye Dacus is one of my favorite go-to writers. I can count on her books as a decent read.

Every grandmother wants to see her grandchildren happy, especially when it comes to their love lives. Join five active senior ladies—and one gentleman—who take a great interest in the lives and loves of their single grandchildren and become The Matchmakers. Zarah Mitchell and Bobby Patterson become the first focus of meddling grandmothers when he moves back to Nashville to work for the Tennessee Criminal Investigations Unit. Will Zarah be able to forgive the man who years ago chose a military career over her—especially when she learns he is investigating the historic preservation agency for which she works?

Of all Dacus’s books I’ve read, I must admit I enjoyed this one the least. Not that the book was bad, but at some points the plot dragged and I found myself skimming. The ending seemed to be an little anti-climatic for me, which I found unusual for Dacus’ books. Having said that, the book still held the things that I love about Dacus’ novels.

Dacus has a way of creating realistically flawed characters, especially Dacus’ heroines. I could relate to Zarah but she totally frustrated me sometimes. I wanted to shake her out of her mindset. A strong emotion but a good thing because she felt like a real person, and I found myself caring about her even though she drove me crazy. The rest of the characters were equally real.  I loved Bobby’s struggle with his emotions about Zarah and his job. And of course, I enjoyed the grandmother’s schemes and plans. Dacus’ writing style was as engaging and clean as usual.

Good read from a solid writer.