Monday, December 23, 2013

my top nine reads of 2013

I am back with my end of the year book report. In 2013, I really enjoyed reading, at a pace and intensity I haven't experienced since high school. Some days I think there is hardly anything better than working at a library and being able to spend a few free moments here and there browsing the stacks and bringing home more books than I know what to do with.

In no particular order (except, actually, the order I read them in) my nine favorite books from the year:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I came to the Hunger Games series pretty late - which was mostly due to my resistance of its popularity (which I know is a silly thing when it comes to engaging stories, but I was stubborn). All the same, I knew I'd love it, and that I'd read it some day - and it was certainly a treat! I've still got to read the last two in the series, which is totally on my 2014 reading list.

Wool by Hugh Howey. This book was a game changer for me. I'd been in a reading slump (and have been for what feels like years) when I picked this monster of a book up and couldn't put it down. I loved it. It is an apocalyptic tale, of sorts, but I 100% recommend it even if you, like me, aren't really into sci-fi. You'll be in to this. There are two more books in this series - and they are top of my list for 2014!

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I needed to read this book, and I was so glad once I had. (Or, once I had listened to it, actually, it was an audiobook.) The author spent a year with her family of four eating only things they could grow them selves or get locally, and I am totally in the head space with the author - I agree this is the direction most of us need to be heading, and because of that I completely lapped it up. There are so many things this book taught me to strive for. Not to mention I now (still) have an overwhelming desire to raise chickens and make my own cheese and can hundreds of pounds of tomatoes in the summer.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. I read a lot of graphic novels, and a lot of them will roll out of my mind quickly, but this one is stuck. It's up there for me with Watchmen and Persepolis. Three separate story lines merge into one, and at the end of this short story (took me far less than 2 hours to read), I was struck with awe and a new outlook. That's not ordinary in a book, so you know it's special when it does happen.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I grew up on the Disney cartoon of Peter Pan, as well as the live action film with Mary Martin, but I'd never actually read the book! I loved it (especially the audiobook version read by Jim Dale - his voice is magical!), even though it moved slow at times and there was quite a lot of talk about dying and killing, which is something I don't like to pop up too much in children's books. But it is magical, and part of it, I am sure, is that the story is so nostalgic to me. It is truly worth a read, and absolutely worth a re-read once I have kids who are old enough to hear it. (Oh, my heart swoons at the thought of sharing my favorite stories with far-away children.)

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book. This was my favorite book of the year. My favorite book in a very long time. I read it in less than 24 hours (it's well under 200 pages) and I felt the heartbroken at the end, simply because it was over and I didn't want to leave the world. I'd never been a Neil Gaiman fan, but this converted me and I can't wait to get my hands on everything he has ever written. This book is mythical, and magical, and yet so normal and plausible. I can imagine it happening for real, I can almost strain in certain parts of the story to feel like it happened, once, to me.

The World's Strongest Librarian by Joshua Hanagarne. Working in libraries and striving to one day (soon!) go to library school, I literally jump at any and all memoirs about other people's experiences in libraries. This was a good one. It had a few long stretches of things I wasn't expecting, but it was honest and clear and it made me love what I do. And anything that is all those things is certainly a good thing.

The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I listened to all 5 of these books on tape throughout the year, and I loved the series. It's geared towards children (the library shelves it in the juvenile section), but I think of it as more of a young adult series. There are harsh topics touched on, in gentler and more slight ways than the Harry Potter series does, but it's certainly similar, and still an incredible growing up story. I'd love to go through the adventures with Percy again some day.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved the Lord of the Rings movies when they came out in the early 2000s, but I was immediately thrown off when I tried to read the books. They were dense and rambly and my pre-teen brain couldn't wrap it's head around the poetry. So I had always written The Hobbit off for the same reasons - but I picked it up again. And read it, with a brain that could finally appreciate the beauty of the storytelling just as much as it could appreciate the story. It was a wonderful book, and I look forward to reading the rest of Tolkien's work in the future!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

stepping out of 2013

I really need to start afresh here on the blog. I feel so bogged down every time I log in to write that I never end up posting anything. I'm trying to wipe out my expectations for what this blog is and does and who it reaches, and really turn it back into what it was in the beginning - something I can just record my thoughts and daily life and crafty moments on.

My head is buzzing with ideas for 2014. This year felt a lot like a stepping stone - in some ways, nothing got accomplished. But in most ways, I've set up pathways for things to happen in 2014. I'm ready. So ready. 2013 was necessary to bridge the gap between 2012 (where a lot of things changed) and 2014 (where things are still changing, but evolving into a more permanent place).

Instead of extensively looking back on this year as it draws to a close in the next week (as I am wont to do), I'd really like to look ahead.

I am still thinking pretty solidly about my goals and dreams for the coming year. Grad school. Reading challenges. Running challenges. Yoga challenges. Knitting challenges. Cooking challenges. Spinning challenges. I want to spend time on the things that I want to spend time on. It sound so simple - but so much of my time in the past has been spent doing the things I think I should be doing. I need to switch focus and cut out the excess and leave time for everything important.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FO: Baby Sophisticate

My cousin is having a baby! The last time my cousin had a baby (different cousin!), I made a sweater, too. And baby Mallory just turned two this month!

And now it is baby Ali's turn. A sophisticated little sweater for a sophisticated little boy.

Baby sweaters are always fun to make. This one knit up super quickly (though I spread out the actual knitting over many months!), and it's obviously very cute and very worth the small amount of time I spent knitting it. Baby sweaters also don't have to be too perfect... I wasn't happy with the proportions on this sweater, the front buckled a bit weirdly, but for the most part this blocked out. It's such a little object, it's not going to make a big difference either way! It'll keep a baby warm, I know that for sure.


Pattern is the free and lovely Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down. Yarn is left over Cascade 220 superwash, in brown and green, knit on size 8 needles with love. Ravelry page here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

summer book report

With summer completely and 100% over (hello Fall! I love you!), I'm sharing a few of the books I read this summer. Working at a library is super awesome because books are always flying under my nose and I get exposed to such awesome things I might not have read otherwise.

A lot of these are series. And half are kid's books. I've been reading a lot of what would be classified as "young adult" literature lately - I love the stories, the simpler narration, and (yes I'll say it) the more-often-than-not happy ending. Happy is always a good thing. I'd recommend all of these.


The Sweet Tooth series by Jeff Lemire. These are graphic novels, and there are 6 total in the series. I read the first 3 last year, and finished up the series in August. While I love graphic novels, I don't usually read the "comic book" type. (I love memoir graphic novels, and read almost solely that.) This story really drew me in. Each volume is a little different in style, and can be repetitive at times, as is the nature of the medium. The drawings are awesome, though often brutal, and the story is unique.The whole series is a quick and fun read, but definitely thought provoking, too!

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I used to own this book - but it got sold when I purged all my books in college. (I do not anymore have space for the hundreds and hundreds of books I used to have. Only very special books get to stay, for now. Someday I will own a house with plenty of space dedicated to books.) I've remembered the book and always been curious about it, and it turns out it is an absolutely wonderful story. It's written for children - but it doesn't necessarily read that way, it can be super dark at times, and I think adults can get a lot out of it too. I'm taking a break right now, but I look forward to reading the next book in the series soon.

The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. This has been my default audiobook for some time as I've made my way through the series. Having just finished the third book (The Titan's Curse) I can say that this series is one of my new favorites! Again, it is a "young adult" book - but that doesn't mean adults can't enjoy it. While it is suited for its audience, it is a well-rounded and awesome series. You grow up with the characters. I love it, especially all the little nods to Greek mythology. I've yet to see the movies they've made, but I think that will be next for me once the books are done.



Wool by Hugh Howey. Wool is definitely my favorite discovery of the summer. I found out about it through Kate and fell head over heels for the story. It's a dystopian sort of tale about a world where everyone lives in an underground silo and no one can go outside because the air is toxic to breathe. I fell through the book in record time and have recommended it to just about everyone I know. You should read it! It is first in a trilogy about this world, and I'm anxious to read the next in the series. (Sidenote: Wool has a handful of knitting terminology/symbolism in it, which you know I ate up!)

What are you reading? Any suggestions for me? I love good stories! I've been looking for some good non-fiction stories, lately...

Friday, September 13, 2013

knitting explosion

Maybe it's because when I opened the porch door to step outside this morning, cup of hot tea in hand, fall blew its first cold wind into my face, making me want to scurry back inside for a sweater, but I want to knit a blanket. I've had a big blanket on my mind for a while now, but kept pushing it to the back recess of my brain for various reasons....

But I think the time may be here.


This is yarn my mom bought me when I graduated college, nearly a year and a half ago (picture is also from then). I've been hoarding it since then because, honestly, I liked having it and I wasn't ready to use it. But now I feel ready. I'm not sure yet on a pattern - but I know one thing: Stripes. Suggestions are welcome.

Also, today I finished a rug (why did I knit a rug? I don't really know. I'm excited to have it though, for sure) for the bathroom that I'd started in May. There was about a 2 hour slog left on it - and it's ready for use. You can't tell from the picture - but I still haven't woven the ends in. (Red toe polish is probably my favorite - and only - fashion statement.) I'm not sure yet, but it may need a border. For now, I'm loving the rugged edges.


Lemon Drop Log Cabin Rug inspired by Absorba by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne. Knit holding 3 strands of Lily Sugar n' Cream cotton together: 2 white, 1 lemon drop. Cheerful and amazing.

And something incredible has happened, somewhat suddenly:

I want to knit a hat.

I want to knit a shawl.

I want to knit mittens. I want to knit colorwork mittens.

It seems like there are endless possibilities for me again - and I'm so pleased. I hope the feeling sticks around.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Pattern: Walking Hood

I've heard that if there are items on your to-do list that you've been putting off... chances are that those items probably aren't very important to you, and you should just forget about them. If you're not excited to do it now, are you really going to be that much more excited to do it tomorrow? next week? next month?

With that in mind, I've been going through my long and extensive and mostly-in-my-head-only-partially-written-down "to do someday list" and getting rid of all the excuses I have for not getting stuff done. Publishing this pattern, for the hood I designed for Eric's walk, has been near the top of that list for a really long time, but faced with the choice of "do now" or "forget about" I knew I had to finish it up. I don't know why it took me so long - except that the hood means a lot to me. Creating it, for Eric, meant a lot to me, and I really just wanted to get it out there because I think it's a nice, solid pattern. And now it's available!


The hood is a quick and simple knit, just in time for fall. I think it'd be a great project for anyone who is still a beginner knitter, but it's definitely not too boring for a seasoned knitter. It's knit with about 400 yards of worsted weight yarn at a slightly dense gauge, to keep the warmth in and the chill out. It's roomy enough to fit a hat underneath for extra chilly days, and completed with an I-Cord drawstring tie.

If you want to check it out, you can head over to Ravelry or my Etsy shop.

Or you can buy it now!



Thanks so much looking. You guys are awesome.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

knit something

I haven't knit much, at all, lately. I don't know why. I could give explanations... I've been busy! I've been working what feels like non-stop (three cheers for a day off today!)! I've been cooking in my spare time, cleaning in my spare time, running in my spare time, reading in my spare time.....It's a crazy confession to say I "haven't been knitting" because so much of my time in the past, I don't know, ten or so years has been spent obsessing over knitting. To be without it, without that crazy desire to move my fingers around...it's been strange! And I've felt strange. So I made a goal for the month to make time for knitting again. I think it will be good for my soul.

So I set off this morning... brewed a pot of tea (I recently bought this kind for myself, and love it so much - heads up, it cost half that much at my local grocery store), put an audiobook on, and picked up some socks that had been lying on my desk unfinished for a very, very long time.


It feels so good to be knitting something again. I'm going to make a huge effort to allow time for knitting in the future, and see if I can fall back into my love for it again.