Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Advice needed: what to read and knit on vacation

I'm trying to decide what book(s) to read next and what book is worthy of being taken on vacation and I could use a little advice. We are heading out to the Bay Area on Saturday for a long overdue visit with dear friends (they haven't even met Fiona yet!) My major selfish fear is that I'll be on vacation without the right book to read--I'll bring one that I don't like or that is completely depressing and ruins the mood of the vacation. My friend Lynne is on vacation right now and I felt a surge of envy when I read on her blog that she brought along one of my favorite books to read, Everything is Illuminated. Realistically, am I going to have any time to read while traveling with the two entropy makers? Probably very little.

Here are the details of my book predicament: I finished Shields' Unless (and recorded my impressions here). I have started last year's National Book Award Winner The News From Paraguay by Lily Tuck but so far I am underwhelmed. The library just emailed me to tell me that Shields' Larry's Party is being held for me. Annie and I planned to read this one together and I'm not sure if I should take it with me if I'm going to have spotty access to the internet while in CA--the point of a read-along is to be in regular communication with each other rather than the usual reading in isolation experience, yes?

And being the greedy gal that I am, I also have checked out of the library three of the other NBA finalists: Florida by Christine Schutt, Madeline is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum and Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber. Of these, the last one tempts me the most, but again, it was going to be a read-along with Mary Jean.

It has also occurred to me that vacation may be the perfect excuse for a little splurge and I should leave all the above books at home and go buy myself a copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Jonathan Safran Foer's newest book) which is only in hardback.

Any ideas what I should bring with me so I don't pack an entire library in my carry-on?

The second similar problem is what knitting to bring with me. I have the second sock that I'm still working on, and it is nice and portable. But right now I'm more interested in the Ribby cardigan. Last week I was reading the pattern and realized that the way it is written with the back, front panels and sleeves all knit separately would end up requiring a hell of a lot of seaming. I don't mind a little seaming, mind you, but when it comes to raglan sleeves where the seams really need to be tidy and not lumpy to look good, I start to recoil.

So I ripped out the 4 inches of the back that I had knit and am taking a bit of a plunge by rewriting the pattern to be knit without seams: the front panels and back are all being knit together on one long needle up to the sleeve insets (my birthday present to myself--since one must always protect one's Princess-self against gift disappointment by buying whatever one really wants oneself--was a set of Denise interchangeable needles. They rock.) Then I'll knit the two sleeves in the round up 'till they start shaping for the raglan and then I'll attach it all together on one huge round needle and knit the raglan decreases all together. It should work out that there are no seams and the raglan comes together (even with the separate sleeve color which will require juggling numerous attached balls of yarn) if I got all the numbers right. That's kind of a big "if"--it physically hurt my brain to do so much math. (I can't believe I used to think of myself as good at math. Talk about use it or lose it.)

I probably should have rewritten the pattern to be knit from the top down rather than the bottom up. But too late now!

So, should I take the Ribby that is a bit bigger but I'm having fun working on, or should I take the sock which is very portable and easy?


Anonymous said...

Have you read Clara Callan, by the Canadian author Richard Wright? Wonderful read, perhaps my favorite this year. Or any of the Kent Haruf books? Plainsong is delicious.

Have a wonderful trip.

Anonymous said...

Guilty confession; I already read "Ideas of Heaven." I, I, I just couldn't help it. It was so good I gulped it down. I'm happy to loan it to you, and I'll even read it again to do our read-along. Our just have a nice long glowing discussion about it over cappuccino or something.

Amie said...

I'll think more on some recommendations, but you may look into an iPod (I have an iPod mini) if you travel a lot - they hold a gazillion books (my 6GB mini has over 30 books on it right now) and take up as much space as a compact.... No affiliation, but you can get a good discount on 'em if you're an Audible member...

All this of course assumes you like audiobooks, which are an admittedly aquired taste... I can't drive without them now, though...

Anonymous said...

Take the sock to knit on, leaves you more room to buy some yarn.


Anonymous said...

First things first: I love that picture of Ian and Fiona!

Books: Go ahead and treat yourself to Foer's latest, or maybe Nicole Krauss's The History of Love (wait! that one was excerpted in the New Yorker!). All the reviews point out that she's his wife (he's her husband? I guess I'm no better).

Knitting: I would take the sock. You'll probably be able to finish it while you're there, and work on the Ribby with a clear conscience when you get home.

I'm ready to start the party whenever you are!

Have a great trip!

Kate said...

Eva--I haven't read Clara Callan--sounds good! I liked Plainsong too. Didn't he write a sequal to it? or am I getting it confused with someone else...

Barb--Excellent advice about bringing the sock and saving room for a wicked yarn purchase or two (or three).