Tuesday, November 15, 2005

book thoughts, knitting progress and a food teaser

I haven't done a book or knitting post in a while (I'm thinking maybe I should re-title this blog "One Big Obsession (FOOD) and Three Others...) so here's an update (and for those of you who are equally food obsessed, there's a food teaser at the end).

I'm almost done with David Maine's Fallen--It is a terrific book but something is keeping me from gobbling this up. It isn't just the desire to prolong a good book, instead I think it is the content of the story--the fall of Adam and Eve--and the reverse storytelling that has created a sense of doom. You know that things are not going to get better for the characters because they are going back to the pivotal moment when they get thrown out of the Garden of Eden. Because the story is so familiar, the craft of the writing, how the story is told, is much more pronounced. And the writing is remarkable--the characters are vivid, the writing is lean and there are wonderful moments of humor amidst a very painful story of family strife and the challenges of faith. I will have to go back and re-read the "end" of the story (the first chapter) as soon as I finish the "beginning" (the last chapter).

The reverse storytelling mode has fascinated me ever since I read Charles Baxter's First Light (one of my favorite novels) and I'm wondering if I can try my hand at it with a story that I started long ago, set in rural Michigan in the 1930's that was inspired by a series of snapshots that a friend found in an antique store. Maybe I'll scan in the photos and post them here.

I finished Stories of Happy People by Lars Gustafsson last week and I'm finding the title of the collection puzzling--I can't figure out in what tone it is intended to be read. It certainly isn't the Happy Happy Joy Joy (thanks Ren and Stimpy) mode, but there are moments of beauty and living in the present that make me think the title isn't merely ironic. Most of the stories certainly aren't about traditional happiness so I'm wondering if I'm simply not in tune with the Swedish sensibility to understand all the stories. Some are quirky, some I had trouble focusing on what was going on, but I absolutely loved one story, "Greatness Strikes Where it Pleases" which is the most elegant story I've ever read about a retarded boy. The end of the story gives me shivers every time I think of it.

I also finished Fire Along the Sky by Sara Donati which is Book 4 in the Wilderness Series. She's finishing up book 5 now, so I'll have a bit of a lull before continuing. A thoroughly enjoyable read and I'm beginning to recognize characters and events that will appear in Donati's future novels of the series. I'd bet money on the character of Major Wyndham, who briefly appeared in this book, being a major player in book 5. I'm amazed by the author's degree of planning--this always blows me away in series books. Harry Potter comes to mind as another example of how the author includes small references in each book that she knows will be developed and picked up in future books--how in the hell did Donati or Rowling know with book 1 that there would be other books? Did they set out to write a certain number of books in the series? I'm trying to wrap my brain around the kind of organized series mapping they must do, not to mention all the scene and character mapping in each individual book.

And now for a little knitting--finally, a finished object:
This is a pair of socks I knit as a gift for a special person for Christmas. I like the colors, but I'm pretty annoyed with the yarn. I used knitpicks Parade in the Plum colorway. I love the pair of socks I made with their Sock Memories yarn, but as they must be hand washed, I thought that would make a pain-in-the-ass gift, so I chose one of their washable wool sock yarns.

My main complaint is with the yardage--I don't have big feet (8.5) and I do think that one skein of sock yarn should make one sock. These are pretty short socks, about 4 inches above the ankle, and I barely had enough to finish them. The yarn also had a tendency to split. I won't be buying it again.

And a work in progress:
This is the very promising beginning of one of Jess Hutch's knitted robots. This guy will be poking out of Fiona's stocking on Christmas morning. He's knit solely with stash yarn--Knitpicks Wool of the Andes in Mist (grey) and Fern (olive green) and Elann Peruvian Alpaca (doubled) for the purple and blue. I can see knitting a whole army of these guys.

And now for the Food teaser--today's task is to transform this:
and this:
into an appetizer and dessert respectively. Can anyone guess what they are going to be?

Today is John's birthday and we are gathering at Sarah and Brian's house this evening for a fitting birthday dinner. Photos and details will follow soon.


Emily said...

I made a sock out of Knit Picks Simple Stripes, and had plenty of yarn for a size 8 foot. I checked the website, and Simple Stripes has 231 yds and Parade has 137 yds, so I guess that explains it. The sock still turned out great, and I can't wait to see the robot!

Anonymous said...

"Greatness Strikes" is an unforgettable story.

Anonymous said...

I love your robot-in-progress! Here's a link to (other links to) lots of robot goodness.


Kate said...

Oh Annie--thank you! Those robot links ROCK!

(side note--Blogger just issued the following for my comment word verification "lgbum" which I can only read as Large Bum. How rude!)

Nit One Perl Two said...

I am so happy I found your site. It appears we have more in common than knitting! I'll let you know when I complete the "world renound" triple lindee patern!