Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

So, I managed to start and finish a knitting project in January, and to knock off one of my twelve goals for 2008. ! I will create and update a Mission Possible 2008 link in the template as soon as I can. I finished the toe of sock #2 last night and grafted this morning. Here they are:

Pattern - Waving Lace Socks from Favorite Socks
Yarn - Opal Cotton in color #1957 (39% superwash wool, 13% polyamide, 48% cotton) - one skein with plenty leftover
Needles - size 1 bamboo dpns
Notes -
I like the color of the yarn. I came close to lining it up so the socks would match, but not quite. By the time I could tell it wouldn't match up, I'd gotten so far on sock #2 that there was no way I was ripping back. I like them anyway. The Opal isn't as soft and sproingy as Lorna's Laces, but it's fine. The socks are comfy. The pattern was great. The lace was super easy, and I could put the socks down and easily "read" the lace to see which row I was on. I did the scalloped edging instead of the ribbed, and I think it's really pretty. Yay!

I'm sure you're thinking, where are those photos taken? (Actually, I doubt you are, but it's a good transition.)

It's my little writing nook, complete with desk! I love this little desk, and it was super easy to put together. Past furniture I've assembled has been of the Ikea or Target variety, with a huge bag of doohickeys to insert and lock together, and slightly nauseating pressed wood product smell. This was actually real wood, and came almost assembled. Eight bolts to put the legs on, two wood screws to secure the hutch, and bam, a desk! This is in the guest room dormer, and I think it's a good use of a weird space. Anyway, I hope to get to use it for actual writing from time to time, but at least I have somewhere to keep my return address labels and stapler.

More knitting: Still going on SKB. I've been doing a row here and there, and I'm now 2/3 of the way through the yoke. I'll put up pictures when it looks interesting. I'm deciding whether to focus on this or cast on for another pair of socks. I did pick up Sensational Knitted Socks (thank you, KnitPastis!), and might try something in there with a short row heel. And maybe toe-up!

Reading: Reviews, reviews, reviews!

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress: At first, I wasn't sure what I thought of this book. I blame the publisher, who chose a rather misleading (though very cool) title and cover, which implied that this was a pirate adventure. We learn very early in the story that the Ironic Gentleman is a pirate ship, but much of the book is Alex *getting to* the pirate ship. So, because I was assuming it was a pirate adventure, the side stories on the way seemed meandering and off-topic. But what a fun journey! Kress's voice is enjoyable, earnest and adding fun asides in the Dear Reader tradition. The story seems timeless and placeless, and whimsy added to even the mundane aspects (Alex's interrogation at the police station, for instance) make the story move along easily and encourage suspension of disbelief. I had a lot of fun reading this. In a nutshell, it's the story of Alex, a 10 and a half year old girl (often mistaken for a boy due to her bowl haircut and name) who sets out to rescue her sixth grade teacher, a descendent of pirates who has been kidnapped by the descendent of rival pirates (still with me?). Along the way, she encounters a number of original and funny obstacles and meets truly memorable characters, like the Extremely Ginormous Octopus, who is a frustrated actor, Giggles the cat, and a quintet of scary old ladies. I had a lot of fun reading this. The pirate Steele is a complex villain and Alex is a fun heroine who manages very well on her own against all these obstacles.

Iris, Messenger by Sarah Deming: It's another Greek god juvenile fantasy, but is really completely different from the Percy Jackson series. For one thing, I could be wrong, but I don't think it's the start of a series. All the loose ends were tied up at the end and it seemed like a self-contained story. We'll see. Deming is a very good writer and Iris is an engaging girl. (By the way, here's another publisher-related annoyance--the cover shows Irish being held by a boy--it looks like he's rescuing her or something, but that NEVER happens in the book. What? There's actually a girl who can stand on her own as the hero of a book, and the publisher has to make it look like a boy is actually the hero?) Iris is a dreamer who doesn't have friends at her middle school. She is sent a mysterious birthday gift, a copy of Bulfinch's mythology, with directions on how to find the Greek gods (who now live incognito in suburban Pennsylvania), who need her help. Each god she meets tells her a story (an actual myth from Bulfinch, but with funny asides and dialogue) that leads her to an unexpected truth. This was a fun, well-written fantasy and really enjoyable.

Flush by Carl Hiaasen: I really enjoyed Hiaasen's first YA novel, Hoot, and I suggest that if you enjoyed Hoot (and if you haven't read it, go find a used copy), you will also enjoy Flush. Hiaasen brings his trademark zany humor and Florida settings to YA novels quite well, so if you've enjoyed his adult novels, give his YA ones a try. I felt the environmental message was handled well, not too preachy. What the bad guys are doing is so heinous that even people who wouldn't describe themselves as "green" will cheer when they get what's coming to them. Noah and his younger sister Abbey (a former biter, which comes in handy) become drawn into their father's passion for protecting nature. Their father is in jail for destroying a casino boat--Dad insists that the owner is dumping his sewage into the water instead of paying for it to be properly contained and treated (ew), but there's no proof. Noah overhears his mother discussing divorce and he and Abbey set out to prove Dad right. A number of encounters with an entertaining cast of adult and junior bad guys (the casino owner's son is a bully) lead to Noah's hilarious idea for proving the illegal (and very gross) dumping. An unlikely alliance with Shelly, the scary ex-girlfriend of a worker on the casino boat, makes the kids' success more believable. A funny, fast-paced juvenile novel with a message.

The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson: I've been on an Ibbotson kick lately. I really enjoy her fantasy novels, which are funny and warm. I summed up the book for Matt--there's a secret entrance to a magical world through a platform in King's Cross station--and he laughed and thought it was a Harry Potter rip-off. But this book was written in 1994. Anyway, the King and Queen of the magical world have an infant son. His nurses take him through the gump (the gateway between worlds that opens every nine years) and he is kidnapped by the horrible Mrs. Trottle who has no child of her own. She decides to go away and return with the baby, pretending he is her own. The gump closes before a rescue can be mounted. For nine years, the King and Queen mourn and plan a rescue at the next opening. A motley crew of magical folk go through the gump to recover the lost prince. They find a charming, wonderful boy at the Trottle home, but he turns out to be a servant. The prince is a spoiled, horrid boy, but they have to bring him back, anyway, as he is the prince. His mother learns of the plan and whisks him away. The rescuers have to track him down (with Ben's help). The plot twist is glaringly obvious, but I think the story is a lot of fun, anyway, and it ends very happily.

I also read Foop! by Chris Genoa, and really didn't like it. The premise sounded so good: a time-travel tourism company takes people back to see famous events in history. But the narrator was whiny, angsty, and completely self-absorbed, which ruined it for me. That and a lot of "weird for the sake of weird." Ah, well.

Writing: Nothing lately except setting up the desk.

Cooking: Nothing really noteworthy. Just the usual stuff.


Stefaneener said...

You just do so much!

I only wish my students loved to read and could get into books. Maybe the majority would approach literacy if they did.

mle said...

Yay! I love the socks! the pattern is beautiful.

YarnThrower said...

Your socks really look nice!

Yes, yes! Short row heel, and toe up! (Prepare to become hooked on toe-up socks if you decide to try a pair that way...)

Knittypants said...

Love the socks, and congrats to ticking off one of your 2008 goals.

Love your little nook, looks so cozy.

turtlegirl76 said...

Love the socks! They turned out great! Yay for 1 down 11 to go!

KnitPastis said...

Get out of here! These socks turned out simply fantastic! You are really good at this. My first pair looked like an elephant's foot, huge:) Oh, wonderful that you got that knitting book! You are going to love it and find it very easy to adapt a pattern to your foot size. Heck,now you can make socks for your daughter and husband too.
So that's where you do all your writing in front of this relaxing view outside. Great quiet place to think and write for sure. The book Flush by Carl Hiaasen sound pretty good.

Anonymous said...

That's a cool little nook you've got there. Wish I had had one of those when I was writing my thesis...

Marie said...

Oh I am head over heels in love with your writing nook and pretty new desk! What a perfect place think writerly thoughts. :)
Hurray for completion of goal one! The socks are lovely. That's one of my favorite patterns from the book.
I'm glad Alex and the Ironic Gentlemen turned out to be a good book. I'll have to look for it. Speaking of young adult books, have you read any by Diane Wynn Jones? (Ignore this if I've recommended them before...I feel like everyone should read her books). They're absolutely wonderful. :)

Rachel said...

The Waving Lace socks are beautiful! My pair in that pattern are some of my favorite handknit socks.

I adore your writing nook. How could anyone NOT write a brilliant book in a spot like that?