Saturday, September 06, 2008

A return to fiber

Now that there is some cool air moving back in to my surroundings, I'm willing to immerse myself up to my armpits in woolly goodness again. My serving-as-a-cat-bed for the summer Urban Aran Cardigan has been retrieved from the felines in time for the restarting of my son's piano lessons (also known as my guaranteed one-hour of knitting time.)

And I figure I really should get going on it since there are a bevy of new knitting books at the library that I've requested and will be receiving in the near future. Thanks to Ed, who taught me how to create an RSS feed for any new knitting book that my library enters into its catalog, I get first notice on acquisitions and can get my request in at the front of the line. I usually get the books within a month or two of them being added to the collection.

Coming my way in the near future are:

Boutique Knits

Closely Knit

Inspired to Knit

Knit So Fine

Knitted Critters for Kids to Wear

Continuous Cables


Alt Fiber

Based on my judgmental perceptions of the covers, I'd say I'm most attracted to Closely Knit because the sleeve on the cover looks like something I'd wear. I'm guessing that Inspired to Knit and Boutique Knits won't be my cup of tea based on the quantity of lipstick that the cover models are wearing (because you know all about that inverse relationship between lipstick quantity and knitwear wear-ability, right?) Knitted Critters looks promising for the smallest member of our household who pretends to be an animal for most of her waking hours, but the photo on the cover looks like the hat doesn't fit well. One of my pet peeves is the number of kids' hats that sacrifice fit for cuteness. If the hat doesn't stay on, no kid will wear it and thus your effort has been wasted. (I learned this the hard way...) And I don't have much of an opinion on Alt Fiber or Continuous Cables since the pictures of their covers are a little too small for me to make out.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Week 1--lovin' it!

The critters are back at school and I have loved this first week of getting to write every morning.

Both kids seem to have embraced school which reduces the amount of worrying energy I expend and allows me to feel really free once I drop them off at 8:06 AM. Fiona, the extrovert, loves Kindergarten and at the end of the first day hid from me because she didn't want to leave. Ian likes his new teacher and the kids in his class seem kind (a big concern for my son) even though his best friend isn't in his class.

I have found that having three uninterrupted hours five days in a row has allowed me to take a much broader view of my book. I was able to develop significantly the back story of my villain and to work out some kinks in the logic of the world I've set up, both things that eluded me when I was only able to write once a week.

The only thing that has made me a wee bit cranky is the excess of construction noise that is currently going on outside my office window. Our neighborhood has been slated for sidewalk repairs (though individual home owners have to pay for it...grrrr) and this appears to be the week that all my neighbors hired the concrete contractors to come and jack-hammer out the slabs and bring in the big churning mixer. It'll make walking in our neighborhood a damn sight nicer in the long run, but right now I'm wishing I had a pair of ear plugs...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

One of my favorite things...

...from our trip to the UP were the wonderful wild blueberries we found almost everywhere:
though the waves and beach
and cabin in the woods were wonderful too!
While Ian was reading a stack of old Mad Magazines and Brian and Fiona were searching through the mucky bits for frogs (and found a spectacular mutant frog with 5 legs pictured below):
Count them legs, people.

I was sprawled out in the sun, or curled up in front of the fireplace with an excellent book: A Free Life by Ha Jin. Through a man and his family's immigrant experience, the book addresses how freedom sounds great as an abstract concept, but how freedom also means uncertainty and how it is often very scary. (The political wonk in me thought that universal health care would have relieved a great deal of Nan's employment concerns). Nan's struggles and conflicts with the Chinese immigrant community also show how manipulative nationalism and patriotism, whether of the Chinese or American variety, can be. Reading it after a couple of weeks of Beijing Olympics coverage was particularly timely.

The book starts off slow, and truth be told, it took me a long time to get into it. I started the book last January, but didn't get sucked in, so I put it back on the shelf to try again later. I'm glad I came back, because it isn't a showy book: it contains lots of the small events of everyday American life and you come to understand the main character, Nan, by how he responds to the stresses and pressures. At the beginning of the book, I was a little annoyed with how moody and grouchy Nan was, but by the end, I liked and admired the guy because he didn't settle for easy answers or do what other people thought he should be doing. He ended up embodying freedom in his impractical desire to become a poet and the compromises he had to make to achieve this goal. The book ends with "The Poems of Nan Wu" which are lovely and feel sort of like an intimate peek into a guarded character who you have slowly come to know over the course of the book. You can reference the subjects of the poems back to the novel and they show how Nan used his poetry to find meaning in events that were confusing and chaotic when they happened. It was an excellent book to read in a peaceful place where there was time for contemplation and an ample supply of wild blueberries.