Reading in 2017 – first quarter

Rather than repeating the list of reading aims for the year each time, I have built a page that I can keep updated throughout the year.

There are probably more books that I have read or re-read since January, but I haven’t been keeping a very effective list. This is just what I can find from my various electronic devices and from looking around.

Borrowed from the library

  • 1000 Years of Annoying the French by Stephen Clarke – fascinating and very readable whizz through history looking at the differences between how the French remember decisive moments of history and how the British do. Both nations seem guilty of interpreting events to suit their national egos.
  • The Girl in the Spider’s Web – by David Lagercrantz – I held off reading this because of the controversy following the death of Stieg Larson over who owned the rights to his characters.  This book is different in style, with less of the detailed descriptions of journalistic life, but I enjoyed it. Still can’t bring myself to spend money on a copy.
  • Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: the story of women in the 1950s by Virginia Nicholson – my favourite sort of history book: lots of anecdote and personal stories mixed with statistics to show the wider context. Incredible how much life has changed for women in 60 years
  • Colossus: Bletchley Park’s greatest secret – I only read about half of this, until the technical computer stuff got beyond what I found interesting. The Enigma story is much more interesting to me
  • The Silent Ones by William Brodrick – my favourite contemporary detective is Father Anselm. I was very pleased to find this on the shelves of the library.

My local library is closing for refurbishment in a week or two, after which it will reopen as a volunteer-run library. I overheard the librarian this afternoon explaining that she will shortly be out of a job. Such short-sighted policy from the government, taking so much local authority budget away that they have no choice but to cut library staff. It’s fine for our local town as there is a small army of active retired people there. I can foresee in other places it will be incredibly difficult to recruit enough volunteers. Plus, what does it say to people wanting to become professional librarians if it is implied that anyone can do this with willingness and a couple of hours training. The rate that our kids get through books, we would be stony broke if it wasn’t for the library. I like to think that my library fines, however small, are helping in some way to keep it going! Yes, that’s why I don’t take the books back on time, nothing to do with always forgetting to write down the due-date in my diary.

Bought on Amazon

  • A good year by Mark Oakley – essays on the liturgical year (2nd hand). Not yet read this
  • The Cornish Trilogy by Robertson Davies – 2nd hand, replacing because my copy has gone astray. This trilogy is one of my favourite pieces of literature. Davies is (was?) Canadian, so it is interesting to see a different culture, particularly the first in the trilogy, which is set in a Canadian theological college. I got a lot more from the first in the trilogy (The Rebel Angels) this time, as I understood more about philosophy and theology than I did the last time I read it.
  • Christian Belief for Everyone: Faith and the Creeds by Alister McGrath. Bought for work, not yet read
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman – I got a very good deal on this in the sale, started reading, but got distracted.

Kindle Unlimited

  • Knit Together: Amish Knitting Novel by Karen Anna Vogel – I picked this up on Kindle Unlimited ages ago, as it was one of the first things the algorithm recommended for me. It took a while to be in the mood for it. This winter I’ve wanted feel-good reading, to distract from some challenging work things, so I started reading. This is a rare entry in the ‘Knitting in Literature’ category of blog-posts. What I love about this book (and the other 5 by the same author that I’ve read below) is the matter-of-factness of the way faith and life are intertwined. You might say that the stories of faith are a little contrived and everyone is more inclined to repent and come right in the end than they are in real life. However, it’s interesting to see how reading stories like this helps to keep my faith and life intertwined. Perhaps there is something to be said for St Paul’s parting words to the Philippians:

    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. […] And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

  • Amish Knitting Circle: Smicksburg Tales 1 by Karen Anna Vogel
  • Amish Friends Knitting Circle: Smicksburg Tales 2 by Karen Anna Vogel
  • Amish Knit Lit Circle: Smicksburg Tales 3 by Karen Anna Vogel
  • Amish Knit & Stitch Circle: Smicksburg Tales 4 by Karen Anna Vogel
  • Amish Knit & Crochet Circle: Smicksburg Tales 5 by Karen Anna Vogel
  • The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard – A historical novel set during the American War of Independence. Good story, interesting characters, though they are very modern in outlook. Interesting take on how war affects the women left behind.
  • Our Own Country: A Novel by Jodi Daynard
  • The Pocket Notebook Book by Ray Blake – just including this here for completeness. A very lightweight book with instructions on how to use a notebook effectively. Obviously written before bullet journalling became a thing, but some interesting stuff. Nothing I hadn’t come across before.

On my bedside table, but not started yet

  • The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – I’m reluctant to read this (and the sequels) because then there will be no more new Pratchett to read. Typing this makes me realise that this is not a logical viewpoint to hold. If I never read it and it’s good, I’ve missed out.
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi

    Borrowed from my sister

  • Grow your own veg by Carol Klein – an excellent book, but it needs to be combined with some enthusiasm for gardening if it is to have any effect. I have very little of this.

2017 First Quarter Knitting

Here’s a reminder of my 2017 knitting/fibre goals.

  • Complete 12 or more knitting/crochet projects
  • Complete 2 or more spinning projects
  • Keep accurate spinning records
  • Knit something from handspun
  • Brioche stitch
  • Watch more Craftsy classes

The year started very well, with finished projects flying off the needles throughout January.

The silk mittens were completed and put into immediate use underneath the fingerless mitts I made last year. For cycling in winter, two layers of gloves are perfect. The silk mittens are quite rustic, as the gauge varies significantly depending on how thin I drafted the silk. If I were to make them again, I’d make the hand section smaller, as they feel a little loose. Having used the Knitters Handy Book of Patterns to make them, I was quite chuffed to get a comment from Ann Budd herself on my project page.

Next, I finally finished my god-daughter’s Christmas present, only a week or two late. It’s a cardigan/jacket knit in one piece, mostly plain stockinette, but with a sideways cabled border round the edge.  This gave me some good practice at grafting in pattern. I’ve since received several pictures of her wearing it, so it has obviously proved popular. The yarn is a cotton-wool mix that should be fairly hard-wearing.

This next project was a first attempt at illusion knitting. The pattern appeared as one of the puzzle weeks that we take part in. Sadly, I was completely stumped by the puzzle, which you can find here, until the solution was revealed, but I decided to knit the mystery pattern anyway. I used some cheap acrylic black and white yarns that haven’t even made it onto Ravelry yet, despite being bought several years ago.

Oh the irony, when I discovered that I had knit the woolmark in a yarn that is against everything that trademark stands for.

As far as spinning goes, I’ve done a bit: turning a gorgeous braid of Merino, Shetland, Alpaca and Silk into some singles. Plying is next on the agenda. The yarn looks as if it is dark red, but it has lovely flecks of green in. I think it will end up looking heathered. I have spent today keeping my Ravelry stash up to date, but can’t really add much to the spinning records until the plying is done, when I can have a go at calculating wpi, grist etc. Perhaps one day this will be a hat.

My intention of learning brioche stitch is making progress, having cast on  a swatch and nailed the basics. It really is a lot easier than I was expecting (and much easier using two colours than it would be using one). I started to look at increases and decreases, then got bored because the swatch really will never be anything other than a swatch as I’m using up scraps of yarn. One of my online friends suggests making an object instead. She may be right. Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction.

I have looked at a few Craftsy classes. The other day I watched several hours on a day I was very tired indeed. It was Stephen West on Shawlscapes. Deliciously eccentric and I learned some interesting ideas for how to change the shape of shawls.

There may have been yarn buying going on.  Most for specific projects. T came to choose some yarn for a scarf and picked Stylecraft DK. Very cheap tastes! The Woosheeps gradient pack was, however, pure indulgence in a colourway called Gothling. I wonder what it will be.

As far as keeping up with my 2017 goals, I think I’ve made good progress with all of them. It would be nice to finish March with another finished item, but then I’ve cast on another new one today rather than pressing on.

WIP update

Sock knitting progress has been mixed. I signed up for Sock Madness, but was defeated by the round 1 pattern, which consisted of half of every row being twisted stitches. It was an interesting fabric, but it met an end shortly after I realised I had misinterpreted the pattern and done all the gussets wrong. In the mean time, I’ve been gradually continuing with the Scrappies,  using up rainbow coloured scraps from my scrap box.  Using some of the Knitting Goddess yarn I got from the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show, I have started a shawl in some simple lace.

During February, I took part in an Instagram game, following yarn-related prompts each day. This got me to evaluate some of my WIPS and so I can admit that the Color Affection that I started with some gorgeous cashmere laceweight has gone to the frog pond. The colours did not have enough contrast for Color Affection so I need to find another use for them.

I’ll leave you with this morning’s work: destined to be legwarmers for a small person. Incredible how fast DK yarn knits up when you are used to fingering weight.