Friday, June 10, 2016

Finish It Up: Two Summer Sweaters!!! (Plus Various Other Knitting Nonsense)

For my third sweater, I wanted something short sleeved.  I wanted this Waterlily, but I was too scared to make a fingering weight garment (until the NEXT time) so I went with Summer's Lease, which looked the same, but in DK instead. 

 I did not enjoy this project.  It knit up fast, stockinette in the round, seed stitch hem, from the bottom up, and the chart was very well drawn, and the instructions were all right, but there is some sort of mistake in there, I don't care what that designer says.  I did the math a dozen times, I tore it back FOUR TIMES, it doesn't add up.  It's wrong.

But while I didn't enjoy making it and I definitely will NOT make another one, I really LOVE the finished product.  The yarn is delicious, the lace panel is gorgeous, the length is perfect- it's fabulous.

I used Knit Pick CotLin in the Gosling colorway, which is a 70/30 cotton/linen blend.  It's squishy and soft and perfect and probably my favorite yarn.  I used my trusty Addi interchangeables, cast on with the 8s and knit it up in the 6s.  I love those needles.

Jaclyn Salem is my FAVORITE knitting podcaster.  I have a handful that I watch (Grocery Girls and Inside Number 23 tie for second place) but other than those three...some of them are a bit pretentious for my taste.  We get it, you're creative makers and hipsters and too cool for school, you don't need to keep cramming it down our throats.

ANYWAY.  I did her sock knit along a few months ago (and won a prize!!! Random number generated, not like because I'm such a badass knitter.  Obvi.) and this time around she was doing a Summer Make Along, anything you could link to summer in any way counted. And since we're about to have our first proper summer in three years, sign me up!

This East End teeshirt type sweater was the very first pattern I bought.  When Angela sent me some needles and a ball of yarn for Christmas two years ago.  I bought it before I actually learned how to knit and waaaaaaay before I realized how much work went into a sweater.  Let along a fingering weight sweater.

Although I guess the pattern itself calls for sport, which is slightly thicker than fingering. But I used fingering.  And didn't swatch. Because I'm a rebel and swatching is for sissies.

Or, you know, for people who want garments that fit properly.

But I lucked out and this fit.  This is my third Alicia Plummer sweater (see my Polished and Campside Cardi), plus I've made like five hats and scarves from her, and I love love LOVE her.  She's not as trendy and cutting edge as the designers the pretentious podcasters are always raving about, but her garments are gorgeous and her patterns are well written and thought out and so far I've never come across a mistake.  AND she's got everything on sale, fifty percent off!!! Get it while the getting is good.  I just bought Salted and Briquette.  Even though I literally have four of her other sweaters that I already bought and haven't made.  I can't resist a good sale!!

Anyway.  This knit up SUPER fast.  The beginning sucked bc it's stockinette and not in the round until you're done with the V, which means you knit a row then purl AN ENTIRE ROW and no one likes to purl.  But after that it was smooth sailing.  I love the 'darts' shaping in the back, I love the seed stitch hems, I love it all.  Picking up the neck and adding the seed stitch border there was optional, but I think it makes a HUGE difference and I wouldn't make it (or wear it, if we're honest) without that. It was just too unfinished.
I used Knit Picks (of course) Lindy Chain in the Celery colorway, which is a 70/30 linen/cotton blend.  I like it well enough, but it's obviously not as scrumptious as the CotLin. (The CotLin is the 70 cotton) And my Addis again for the needles.

I just LOVE the way it fits.  LOVE.  It's the perfect length and the perfect fit through my sizeable belly and it's just perfect. PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT. Although I'm not sure what the hell I was thinking with how colorful it is.  It's the brightest thing I own.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Book Reports: The Niceville Trilogy

These were recommended by a trusted reader friend, and blurbed by SK, so I grabbed the first two at the library one day and then had to buy the third one.  They were...all right.

They were good. Even really good. Well written, although the physical descriptions reminded me (A LOT) of tenth grade creative writing assignments: he was tall with jet black hair and emerald green eyes.

Cringeworthy. I think anyone who needs to use physical descriptions (and why?!?! Why do you need these?!?!) should take notes from Jack Reacher. Or I guess Lee Child. Since Jack Reacher is actually fake.

Anyway. The journey was great, the destination not so much. It just sort of fizzled out, there were things that got wrapped up ish but...meh. Did he not plan ahead? Did he now know where the journey was supposed to take us? I don't know.

From the back of the Niceville book: When ten-year-old Rainey Teague disappears on his way home from school in idyllic Niceville, Detective Nick Kavanaugh traces the boy to his last sighting - staring into the window of old pawn shop in town. CCTV shows Rainey there one minute and then gone the next. In the days that follow, any hope Rainey's family has of finding him alive starts to fade but then Rainey is found - alive but in a coma, and there's no telling when, or if, he'll ever wake up...

One year on, Kavanagh is still haunted by the case. And now another member of the town - this time an elderly woman - has been reported missing. It's as though she vanished into thin air. Once again, Kavanagh's on the case and, as he starts to dig back through the town's history, he can't help but notice that Niceville has a much higher than average number of stranger abductions...

My original review for the first oneGood, not great. Scary, but not scary enough. Hated the way he (she? Is carston a real name?) described the way the characters look. That always reminds me of like sixth grade creative writing assignments. It sounds like I'm bashing this whole book, but I'm really not!! It was decent. I'm glad I already have the next one checked out, I'm assuming they're more of a 'three books in one story' instead of standalones. At least I sincerely hope so.

Next was The Homecoming:  When two plane crashes set off a spellbinding chain reaction of murder, inadvertent kidnapping, corporate corruption and financial double-dealing, Niceville detective Nick Kavanaugh has to investigate. 
To add to his worries, he and his wife, Kate, have also just taken in brutally orphaned Rainey Teague. Something bothers Nick about Rainey - and it isn't just that the woman in charge of attendance at Rainey's school has suspiciously disappeared. In fact, people have long been disappearing from seemingly placid Niceville, including, most disturbingly, Kate's father.
Using his files, Kate and Nick start to unearth Niceville's blood-stained history, but something (or is it Nothing?) stands in their way ...
And my first thoughtsI could NOT put this book down!!!! It was so good. SO GOOD!!! I've even paid for the third one since my library doesn't have it- and I never pay for books!!! Plus there was a chapter called 'well, no matter what happens, there's always death' so this book just WINS.

Apparently I really enjoyed this one.  I gotta say, it was only like a month ago and I barely remember this excited feeling.  Take from that what you will.  

Then we've got the finale, The Reckoning. with its unmatching cover.  Ugh.  Apparently SK had a real man crush on this book, and I'm not sure why. Here's what he had to say: The Reckoning is brilliantly written and hypnotically readable. I’m amazed by the sheer energy and scope of the thing. It crosses genre boundaries with perfect confidence, jumping the crevasses that swallow lesser writers. . . . In my mind, Niceville has earned a place with some of the great destinations in the Land of Make Believe, like Middle Earth, Narnia, and Arkham.”

Um, no.  Niceville is not even on the same playing field as Narnia.  NOT EVEN CLOSE. 

Anyway. Back of the bookNiceville has an almost unearthly beauty when the sun tops the ancient nearby mountain called Tallulah’s Wall and bathes it in soft Southern light. But there’s a reason Native American tribes avoided the place:  An absence that inhabits the air and the depthless “sink” atop Tallulah’s Wall. This “Nothing” has long bent time and the desires of a chosen few to her shadowy ends.
As THE RECKONING begins, Detective Nick Kavanaugh and his wife, family lawyer Kate, have accepted that reality in Niceville is not normal.  Seemingly, they’ve fought Nothing to a draw. But now a buzzing emerges in the heads of some perfectly normal folks. Nothing isn’t finished. 
Come to Niceville and sink into Carsten Stroud’s inimitable blend of crime and supernatural thriller, as characters you’ll love throw in with bad guys you’ll like way more than you should as they battle evil.

My review:  More than a little disappointed in the ending. This was the most well written of the three and I loves every word, but the ending fell flat. I'm not against ambiguous endings and I loved the way Gone Girl wrapped up, but this felt sort of cheap and just unsatisfying. And while I didn't mind rooting for Danziger and even Coker (how did Stroud manage THAT?!) I never grew to like Deloris. At all. And I woulda drowned Rainey in the bathtub.

So there you go.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend these books, but they're decently written and enjoyable, so...there you go.

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with the book review prompt.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Finish It Up: Washi Dresses

Yes, dressES, plural.

I can't stop.

I actually wore my first one WHILE I was making my second one. THE PATTERN HAS POCKETS BUILT RIGHT INTO IT.


I also have an opinion about pockets, Leslie, and it is this: things without pockets are stupid and I'm going to throw them all away.

In my very short (thus far) garment sewing adventures, I've made three things, and all three of them went into the bin almost as soon as I was finished.  They didn't fit and they looked AWFUL. Homemade.  Perhaps by a child? A blind child? With limited feeling in her fingertips?

They were BAD.

But the washi dress?!?! OHHHHHHH, the washi dress.

I am in two sewing 'groups' on Ravelery and I'm pretty sure the moderators are going to remove me for not shutting up about the pattern.  Seriously.

It's from the (I assume) fantastic Made By Rae.  I always love a fellow Rae, even if her mama forgot the Y. I assume she's fantastic bc this pattern is so brilliant, but I haven't actually made any of the other ones. BUT I WILL BE.

I bought the dress and the expansion pack, but only for the sleeves. I can't see myself with a giant bow, know what I mean? I'm just not a BOW GIRL. Presumably, if I knew what I was doing, I could have just added the sleeves myself. But I don't, so expansion pack it was.

My first one fit right off the machine PERFECTLY.  The only complaint I ever read about this dress is that it seems like maternity clothes and makes some women look pregnant.  Well. I love maternity clothes and I look pregnant no matter what, so it was win win for me.  Seriously.  I don't know enough about style to know if these empire waists actually look GOOD on me, but they are my absolute FAVORITE.

I made it out of this Timeless Treasures grey crosshatch quilting cotton, which apparently is a no-no in garment sewing? But I love it.  It's drapey enough for me and honestly I can't figure out why we're not supposed to use it. Does anyone want to share the secret? Anyway. It's sold out right now, but when I got it, it was only 4.88 a yard!!! I got three and a half yards, and didn't need that much.  And since it's regular ole quilting cotton, it's made it's way to bagland as linings and contrast bottoms.  PERFECT.

I adjusted my skirt pattern to be 24 inches and once it's sewed in and hemmed and washed and dried, it's actually 22 inches.  Perfect for me.  And my sleeves are 12 inches on the paper pattern, about 10.5 sewn up. I like to cover the batwings.

I used this video to help with the elastic shirring (I'd call this smocking, is that weird? Where did I pick up this word?) but the directions in the pattern are pretty perfect. I just happen to really like video tutorials. And apparently Brothers are weird for this? I will say that my tension has been a tad finicky ever since I started this, but it was totally worth it.  If it keeps up after the move, I'm just going to buy another bobbin casing and have one for regular and one for shirring.  BECAUSE I LOVE THIS DRESS THAT MUCH YA'LL.

There is literally not a single thing I don't like about this dress.

For my second one, the one I made while wearing the first one, I used this gorgeous chambray from Robert Kaufman.  Apparently it has some stretch? Does that mean it's jersey? Or a knit? I don't know what any of these words mean. I do know that it's the most perfect fabric EVER INVENTED and I love it to death and I can't wait to order more.  It's light and drapey and perfect perfect PERFECT.

This version is my favorite. I knew what I was doing, so it went a little faster, although honestly the first one went plenty fast. Why am I making that face? No idea.

Now. I'd ordered that perfect chambray to try to make a mock wrap dress from the Sew Many Dresses book. BUT, the three things I'd made before and had to bin were from that book. So since I knew how to do this one and I knew it would fit and I was ready to sew RIGHT THIS MINUTE I hurried up and ordered MORE fabric for that mock wrap dress and got to work on Washi Two.  Then I made a muslin for the wrap dress and it was just AWFUL.  I am obviously doing something WRONG with that book. So I didn't really have a choice- I had to make a third washi.

While I love it, it is my least favorite of the three.  I tried to make it v neck, but I don't really know how to do that.  Suggestions? I also need a different type of interfacing than what I'm using. This one is made from this double gauze, which I just didn't like. I like the way it looks (except I wish it was longer?) but I hated sewing with it. 

So there you go. On one hand, I feel like I should branch out and try new things. On the other hand, I love these so much and they fit so perfectly, I can't help but think I should just make these FOREVER.  The idea of wearing the same thing day in and day out doesn't bother me in the slightest.  

But, in case I ever DO want to try something different (different is BAD) I've earmarked this popover tunic from Hey June.  But I don't know how to put in a button.  And they packed up my sewing machine.

People also RAVE about the Anna dress from By Hand London (short and made from casual fabrics, not the evening dress with the split in the side all the way to her hipbone) but I'm nervous that that pretend sleeve won't cover the aforementioned batwings. Plus I don't know how to put in a zipper.  Or put pockets on something that isn't written for pockets.  And I'm not wearing a dress without pockets again EVER. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book Reports: Mr Penumbra and Thirteenth Tale

I read these quite far apart, but they sort of reminded me of each other (what??) so I figured I'd review them together. In case you were curious. 

First is Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. It made the rounds last year and EVERYONE loved it and EVERYONE told me to read it...but being me, I refused to cave in to the hype.


It was absolutely perfect.  Silly, ernest, well written, fun, moving- it was perfect.  One of the lines near the end of the book summed it up for me and it's all I used for my initial review: "The right book exactly, at exactly the right time." What else can I say?

Would I have loved it as much if I had read it at a different time? That's hard to say. But the point is, I loved it, and I highly HIGHLY recommend it.  'Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.'

From the back of the bookRecession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone - and serendipity, coupled with sheer curiosity, has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he's embarked on a complex analysis of the customers' behaviour and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what's going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore...

Next was The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I swear I read this bc it was on one of those SK Recommends lists, but I can't find any mention of him liking it, so I guess I made that up.  Either way, I'm so glad I read it!!

First, twins.  You KNOW how I feel about twins. I couldn't figure out if they were really REAL twins or just regular twins, but I'm going to assume identical bc that's more fun for me. 

Second, it's a book about LOVING books.  Seriously.  I know there are other books about loving books, but this one NAILED it.  I couldn't put it down or take the time to snap a pic of some of my favorite passages, but trust me- it was GOOD.  

My initial reviewFive stars. I wish now I'd used my phone to take pics of the most powerful parts. A book about the magic of books. I've read a few and this is easily the best. I have a thing for twins but if I'm honest, I didn't know this was even about twins. I loved every single word. I'm going to buy this in hard cover and put it maybe not on top shelf status with HP and SK and the Giver, but definitely on the second with the Passage, the Silo Saga, and Jacob Have I Loved. It was just soooo good!!!

And from the back of the bookAngelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family--fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates...

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield's past--and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret's own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfields spell?

So there you go.  Two books that I loved very VERY much and highly recommend to EVERYONE. 

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with the prompt book review!

Monday, May 9, 2016


Obsessing over Haven. How did I miss this when it was on?!?! It's got EVERYTHING I love: it's cheesey and implausible, it's supernatural, it's romantic,y the two men would actually make me pause to try to figure out who I wanted (Team Nathan, sorry Duke!!! You were a SUPERCLOSE second!!!)- I just love it. LOVE. I was reading some reviews of the Colorado Kid though and apparently it's NOTHING like the show? That's okay though, I'll read it anyway. But not right now bc I have twenty four hours of Haven goodness left. 

Freaking out a tad about the move. We obviously want to see our families on the way from here to CA, and since we're laying over in Atlanta anyway, it's a great time to do it. The Navy (obviously) pays for our flight from here to CA, but they're less interested in paying for us to galavant around the southern states. We figured out it was going to be about five grand, plus renting a van in Stuart bc we want to go to Disney (!!!) so...we're going to drive it. 

I actually don't mind ANY of this drive...except the final leg from Biloxi back to Atlanta to catch the flight to San Jose.  Why does this one bother me and not the others? Bc Nick doesn't ever let me drive, so all those other hours will be filled with Pinteresting on my phone, texting Angela and Holly, knitting, and sleeping. That last leg? He'll be gone so I'm stuck driving it.  LAME.

But. It's got to be done, so do it I shall.  And to soothe my anxious nerves until then...there's always a Haven marathon ;)

Listening to the All Killa No Filla Podcast.
 What? Comedians talking about serial killers? YES PLEASE.

And while, for the most part, I'm still sore about switching to Apple Musci (spotify will hold my heart FOREVER) lately they've nailed it with my curated Life in the Fast Lane radio station. Lots of embarrassingly rad jams for me to rock out to when no one can see.  Plus some Poco that even I am too embarrassed to claim. 

Reading The Niceville trilogy, which I am LOVING. The first one was so-so, but left me CRAVING the rest of the story, and luckily I'd grabbed the second one at the same time, so I got to dive right in and MAN is Homecoming GOOOOOOD.

Yall know how I feel about libraries. 
I hate to pay money for books, but occasionally I do. Our library doesn't get some titles (I'm assuming it has to do with the way books are published in different countries?) so I do occasionally have to buy them on Amazon.  Sigh. Luckily I have enough other books at the library (um, infinity books. That's how many) so I can wait for the books I want to go on sale for a dollar. 


While we're traveling, I can probably get my mom to check me out a few books, but other than that, I'm going to be stuck with my kindle and, after I finish the dollar books I've already bought, I'll be paying full price for the books set to release shortly.  

Oh, you need a list of what I'm looking forward to? NO PROBLEMO. Making lists of books is sort of my jam.

I'm currently waiting for Morning Star (the first book I'll be willing to pay full price for bc I cannot WAIT, although I've already checked and they have it at the library in Mountain View, so I might actually be able to wait, I really do love libraries...) and Raven King to go on sale, along with Where They Found Her. Oh and Mortal Heart, the final of the Fair Assassins books. The library has the first two, why don't they have the third?!?!

Releases I'm looking forward to: the final in the Passage trilogy, City of Mirrors (May 24), the third (final?) of SK's Mercedes Killer books, End of Watch (June 7), the fourth Gentleman Bastards book, Thorn of Emberlain (July 21??), Last Star, the third 5th Wave book (May 24)

And, just to round out this ridiculous list, the books I waited patiently for, got for a dollar (sometimes a dollar ninety nine) and haven't read yet bc I've been saving them for the travel, plus infinity books at the library.  Duh. Grace Keepers, Invasion of the Tearling, Trigger Warning, Red Queen, Descent, Dragon Factory, and The Cove.

Wow. That's a lot. Maybe I won't be buying those new releases at full price!! I have plenty to keep me busy until I get that Mountain View library card.  My life is the BEST. I'll probably splurge for The Reckoning though bc I'll need to know what happens! 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Location Location Location

Ironically, one of the prompts this week is 3. You have to move away from your state in one month. List 6 destinations you wouldn’t mind relocating to- and as you know, we happen to be moving in less than two months, for real. Sooo, I figured it was appropriate. 

1. Because this isn't my home state, I don't consider this a cheat: my numero uno dream fantasy relocation destination would be...Northwood, in the borough of Hillingdon, United Kingdom.  
Good ole Northgate Street if we could swing it, otherwise I wouldn't mind living in Moore Park or in Megan's old house, which would be even BETTER bc we would stay in the same school. Whenever people hear that I'm bummed to leave, they invariably ask 'what do you like about it so much?' The answer is EVERYTHING. I don't know what I love so much.  It's ENGLAND!!! That's enough for me!!

2. Pawnee, Indiana. I never EVER want to live in the midwest. No offense at all to anyone who lives there, it's just not for me.  I need oceans. But Pawnee?!?! I could handle Pawnee. At least for a few years. But Pawnee when Andy and April still lived there.  Because they would totally be my friends. And as much as Leslie Knope is my spirit animal, I need a little April to cut the sweet. 

3. Narnia. And slash or the Middle Earth places in the Lord of the Rings movies. (I never read the LotR books (I know) but the movies had some gorgeous scenery.) But Narnia? I could handle Narnia.  I grew up in those books. Literally. I could probably get around without a map. 

4. Haven and slash or Derry and slash or Castle Rock, Maine. And I guess let's throw in the worlds from the Dark Tower for good measure. 
I mean, I don't particularly want to be terrorized by clowns or afflicted with a trouble or have to deal with the fallout of whatever created the Wastelands. But to live in a world that SK himself created? YES PLEASE.

5.  Twin Peaks, Washington. 
Again, not exactly looking to be murdered by whatever it was that got into Trey at the end there, but I've always wanted to live in the PNW and Twin Peaks seems just quirky enough for me.  And I feel like I'd be fast friends with the Log Lady.  Obviously. 

6. Hogsmead. You'd think I'd pick Hogwarts, but I hated school and never ever want to go back. I think I'd do fab in Hogsmead. I could work at the bar!! I could work in the candy store!! I could just sit at home all day and be a badass living in Hogsmead!!!

But I guess since SATO has issued us our tickets, it's getting pretty official: we'll have to make the Bay Area Adjacent work for us.  Not a bad problem to have, if you ask me ;)

Linking up with Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writer's Workshop with prompt 3:You have to move away from your state in one month. List 6 destinations you wouldn’t mind relocating to. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Finish It Up: A Petal and Plume Quilt

In the midst of my giant Cotton&Steele custom order, I got a request from an old friend I used to work with for a quilt for her daughter. She basically left everything up to me (best orders EVER) but she did want something that her kiddo could grow into, nothing too babyish.  We easily settled on Petal and Plume from Bari J for Art Gallery fabrics.  I ordered a layer cake and some extra yardage of the white Peacock Waltz to replace the text prints (which are lovely but I just didn't want them in a quilt) and I was off!!
I used my beloved Easy Bake pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew. I went for the throw size (almost all of my quilts are this size) which is about 55x64 after you account for trimming up and such. It's SO easy to lay out and whip up- it truly is my absolute favorite quilting pattern.  Like for real.

For the backing I went with my standard Shannon Minky, this time in fuchsia. Now the computer doesn't look like what that minky ACTUALLY is, maybe it's just my monitor? Regardless, I almost ALWAYS order a swatch first.  They're a dollar seventy five and it adds weeks of time to your shipping schedule (at least when you live overseas) but it's TOTALLY worth it to get a match.  Plus, now I have about thirty swatches, so I'm good to go for the most part.  Makes me REALLY want a Kona card though...

I pin basted it, then quilted it in a two inch (or whatever width duct tape is, but I think it really is just about two inches wide) crosshatch pattern, bound it with the Drawn Mist print and sent it off without taking any proper photos.  Frowny face.  But it was gorgeous, my friend said she loves it, and I'm a happy camper.

Linking up with Sew Can She for Show Off Saturday!! Even though it's Sunday.  Oops.