Staycation!

My mother came up to visit me for a staycation.  We were on the same page about taking it easy, and it was great!  We did go out of the house each day, whether to take a walk, run errands, browse the local shops or go out to eat.  We didn’t leave the house until sometime after noon each day, and spent the time at home reading the newspaper, knitting, beading, crossword puzzles, etc.

I wanted to share the following sales with you for July….a long weekend’s coming up, you may want to stock up on some supplies…
 
This Interweave sale is through July 10th.
Save 80% on Select Products at Interweave Store

Take 10% Off at Patternworks with Offer Code PWJULY10

Take 10% Off at Keepsake NeedleArts with Offer Code NAJULY10

Up to 67% off stock clearance items

Create and Craft Flate Rate Shipping

My mom also quilts…
Take 10% Off at Keepsake Quilting with Offer Code KQJULY10

BeadRoom.com

Have a great July 4th weekend!

  

May 2015 Reading

Books Bought May 2015

TitleAuthor
A Replacement LifeBoris Fishman
The NightingaleKristin Hannah
The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieMuriel Spark
The BBQ & Outdoor Grilling BookScott Cooper
Wreck of the MedusaAlexander McKee
Knitting Yarns: Writers on KnittingAnn Hood
The Red NotebookAntoine Laurain
The Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel Barbery
Stringing, Spring 2014Magazine
Stringing, Spring 2013Magazine

Books Read May 2015

TitleAuthorRating
A Replacement LifeBoris FishmanThumbs down; could not finish it.
The NightingaleKristin HannahLoved it.
The Red NotebookAntoine LaurainLoved it.
The Elegance of the HedgehogMuriel BarberyStill reading
Stringing, Spring 2014MagazineGood ideas!
Stringing, Spring 2013MagazineGood ideas!
Calling Invisible WomenJeanne RaySo so.
First FrostSarah Addison AllenStarted, but returned to the library.
Need to check it out again.
Mrs. Queen Takes the TrainWilliam KuhnThumbs down (did not finish)
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia ChildBob SpitzEnjoyed it, did not get a chance to finish.

May seemed like a long month in terms of reading in that I was able to read more than expected. I read a wide variety of materials and took advantage of my Book Bub emails to pick up some really good deals to add to my library and To Read list.

My May reading covered a span of choices with a great many surprises of what I enjoyed, and met my expectation of at least 1 book that I did not like.  Let’s start with that one.  My Temple book club selection has consisted of at least 4 books by Russian male writers in their 30s whose families have migrated to the US.  A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman is one such book (our previous book in this genre was The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis).  A Replacement Life tells the story of an aspiring writer (employed by a magazine) whose grandmother dies and his grandfather asks him to write his grandmother’s story to submit for a Holocaust payoff.  I did not get very far in the book. I didn’t like the style of writing, and I couldn’t relate to the story or the characters.

Surprisingly, I voraciously read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  The story, the characters and the writing had me hooked by page 5.  At this point, I checked to see how many pages were in the book (440) so that it didn’t end too soon.  I had been a bit reluctant to read another Holocaust book, but this one was absolutely captivating.  It is from the perspective of non-Jews, which was eye-opening at how much they also suffered, and a story about the bravery of women was so refreshing.  The characters’ relationships were fascinating, surprising, and moving.

The Stringing magazines were a break from reading about off-loom beading techniques. Originally, I thought that stringing would be too basic, but this style has interesting designs, and they also provide practice of standard skills, like attaching clasps, using different stringing materials, beads, chains, etc.  I made this glass bead bracelet and am quite taken with it! (My mom knit the scarf in the background.  She picked up knitting after about 50 years….apparently knitting is just like riding a bike, because she did a great job!)

Dearie and Mrs. Queen were library audiobooks to be able to “read” while knitting.  Dearie, about Julia Child, was good but I didn’t get a chance to get very far before I had to return it.  Mrs. Queen Takes the Train, a contrived story about a monarch’s attempt to use modern technology, like a computer, and then figuring out the public transportation system, was just dreadful. I only listened to a couple of chapters (if that) before stopping.

I picked up Wreck of the Medusa, the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the BBQ & Outdoor Grilling books through Book Bub, all for $2.00 or less.  Wreck of the Medusa: Mutiny, Murder, and Survival on the High Seas,  previously titled Death Raft (wow!), is the true story of a shipwreck in 1816.  My all-time favorite book, Dean King’s Skeletons of the Zahara,  is a similar recounting of a shipwreck near the Sahara Desert, where the sailors were captured and then sold, and many survived!  I am drawn to these survival stories.  Maybe some past life connection?  And who could resist a Muriel Spark at a good price?

I find that whenever I read a good book, like The Nightingale, the next book has to be extra special.  I did something right this time, because the next two books just pulled me right in!  The first, The Red Notebook, by the French author Antoine Laurain and translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce, is about a woman whose purse is stolen and the man who found it.  It’s a story about fate, luck, possibilities, and relationships. I loved it.  I found myself moved by it even when I wasn’t reading it, and when I didn’t even realize I was thinking about it.  I recommended it to my book club and they’re reading it this month.  I hope they enjoy it as much as I did!

May 2015 Reading

I seem to be on a new twist of reading translated French authors. I am currently reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. This book takes place in an expensive apartment building in Paris. One of the plots is about the super, who strives to meet her tenants’ expectations that she is slovenly and uneducated while enjoying the arts and philosophy in secret. The other plot is about a young girl who is tired of the stupidity of life and its inhabitants and is planning to end her life on her next birthday when she turns 16.

I bought this book as a hard copy and I am so glad I did!  It was one of those purchases of wandering around the bookstore and stumbling upon it.  I’m happy that I have the hard copy (paperback) instead of digital because it’s easier to share with others, and it can be kept on the bookshelf to be seen (by me!) and remembered, and picked up again, unlike on a digital device.  I was reading a bit before going to work this morning, and I thought that this might actually replace my favorite book, Skeletons of the Zahara by Dean King, that has been my go-to favorite for years.  Hedgehog is so well-written, amusing, believable, intelligent, and keeps me wanting to read more each time I have to put it down.  More on this book when I finish it in June.

Yes, my favorite book this month…well, I really thought it was going to be The Nightingale. Then it was The Red Notebook.  But now it is definitely The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

What a great month!

Save 80% on Select Products at Interweave Store

Chronicle Books Craft Books Sale

  

Still beading

Knitting, beading, so many options!  One thing I will say is that it’s a lot less expensive to make “a little purchase” of beads than yarn!  Unfortunately, the bead merchants are just as prolific at sending out enticing emails as the knitting industry.

I haven’t really accomplished much lately.  I’m knitting a poncho for a friend so feel compelled not to do other knitting with such a large project on my plate.  It’s not particularly complicated, just time consuming.  More on that in another post.

I’ve been mulling about beading now. I really am inspired to do something unique – hard to do in this day and age!  I’ve decided that I need to understand the basic elements of beading so I’ve been reading a lot, and trying my hand at this new art. My problem is – and always has been – that I like to get ahead of myself.  I don’t like the tedious practice of learning, instead wanting to jump into the advanced skills.  I know it doesn’t work well that way…

Well, I want to share some ideas that I tried but came out rather clumsily. A lot of the beading patterns show rope like chains, so I thought what if I used an i-cord instead of a rope.  What if the i-cord had beads in it?  I tried placing the beads in different ways on the stitches.

beading

beading

I’ll admit it’s interesting, but I don’t like the end result.

I found a shop on etsy, where the woman knits necklaces, and knits the pieces to look like beads.

knitting beading

knitted beading

It’s interesting. I also saw this old ad/pattern of knitted beading

knitted jewelry

What’s old is (or can be) new again?

I tried stringing beads along an i-cord, but am not enthralled with this either.

beading

and with a decorative beaded element (on the left)

knitted beading

Luckily I have plenty of time and lots of ideas.  And a poncho to keep me busy.

  
Let's all go to the movies

Let’s All Go to the Movies!

I missed a whole era of movies while I was married (before being with DDSO). For a variety of reasons, the only movies I saw during my life with young children were ones that I could share with them. (“There was a lost decade, so I don’t really know,” Bill Nighy’s character, Quentin, in Pirate Radio.)

Let's all go to the movies

I am rediscovering the pleasure of movies. They are a reader’s cheating version of getting immersed in someone else’s story.  Sit in a darkened theater and engulf the story in under 2, 2 1/2 hours instead of taking 24+ hours to read it.  Having missed so many movies in the 90’s not only do I not want to miss any current movies, but I also have so many to catch up on!

I thought I had done really well seeing 24 movies last year, but when I looked at a list of all the movies that had been released in 2014, I was aghast at how many I had not seen!

Now, I am a movie glutton.

We got out of work early on Friday for the long weekend and I immediately headed to a 5:00 movie (In the Name of My Daughter).

I carved out time on Saturday for another movie (Saint Laurent).
Let's all go to the movies
I am toying with checking out the IFC Center in Manhattan that plays only Independent films.

Actually, let me restate that….I am thinking of switching my art museum memberships to a membership at IFC. I know, why not do them all? But I am trying to be realistic about which establishments I will actually visit (rather than just support as a distant admirer).

I was so pleased when I was reading The NY Times this morning, and realized that I had seen half of the movies advertised for the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas! Prior to that, I would have been pleased to just recognize the movie titles and know if I wanted to see them or not.
Let's All Go to the MoviesO
Of the advertised movies, I’ve seen the In the Name of My Daughter, Iris, and Wild Tales.
And recognizing a movie that I want to see:
Let's all go to the movies

I purposefully haven’t given my opinions on the movies as I already track them on my Resolutions page and I don’t like to be (too) repetitive. That’s also not the point of this post. Just getting to the movies and experiencing them in a theater is so enjoyable. I’m glad I’ve rediscovered and am allowing myself this pleasure.

  
Blocking with Wires

My Intro to Beading

I have been talking a lot about beading and knitting, learning beading to incorporate with knitting, but I haven’t shown you anything yet. I think my Intro to Beading stage may last a while, here is my first report!

You may recall that I took Laura Nelkin’s introduction to beading as one of my classes at the Vogue Knitting Live event in NYC in January. She taught us the basics of (1) putting the beads onto the yarn and sliding them into stitches purlwise and knitwise and in placement on which “leg” of the stitch and (2) adding a bead onto a stitch without adding them all to the yarn first.

My Intro to Beading
Laura Nelkin Butin Collar Kit

From there, I bought her Butin collar kit, but was unhappy with my results. I had trouble with the cast on and thus ran out of working yarn, and it turned out that the color combination I chose (“Montane”) tended to look dingy.

Not deterred, I decided to play off her design and use it to play around with other beads and colors. I used two strands of crochet string – yellow and white – with the same color beads and a silver rose bead at the base. I drew out the design and strung the beads onto the threads.

My Intro to Beading
Beaded Design
My Intro to Beading
Stringing the Beads

Casting on was difficult because the pattern uses the backward loop cast on, which I find makes the stitches really tight.  I got around this by using two needles together. You can see that each stitch is two strands. I use a marker every 10 stitches so that it’s easier to not lose (or add!) any stitches.

I followed my pattern and then had some more fun with the clasp.  I decided to put some beads in the stitches that attached the clasp.   The hardest part was making sure that I was attaching the two pieces in the right direction on each side! I am happy to report I (concentrated, paid attention and) didn’t make any mistakes and only had to sew on the clasp once!

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I used the blocking wires I bought at the Vogue Knitting Live Marketplace in January. These are long bendable wires that are woven in the knitted piece and then pinned down for blocking.  They worked really well and helped maintain the curve of the necklace.

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And the final product!

My Intro to Beading

My Intro to Beading

  
April 2015 Reading

April 2015 Reading

It got to a point that I would not allow myself to read any beading books before bedtime. Worse than electronic interaction where people do not watch TV at bedtime, the beading books got my mind whirring so swiftly that I could not sleep.  Or I would finally get myself to sleep and then I would wake up two hours later to jot down ideas.

It’s nice to be obsessed!  Oh my, another stash opportunity! With beads being so less expensive than skeins of yarn, it is a frightening thought! I. Must. Contain. Myself. at least until I have a direction. Which I Am Working Toward.
Shop Interweave Store
Thus said, you may not be surprised with the April Books Purchased Assortment. “Damn Interweave Press!”  They had some April 15th sales going on, and as you may recall from the Holiday season, I find their sales very hard to resist.

Books Bought

TitleAuthor
Getting Started with Seed BeadsDustin Wedekind
Beadwork, June/July 2014Magazine
Beadwork, August/September 2012Magazine
Mastering Beadwork A Comprehensive Guide to Off-Loom TechniquesCarol Cypher
Beaded Allure Kelly Wiese
The Beader's BibleDorothy Wood
PlainsongKent Haruf
Eggs for BreakfastDonna Leahy
Farmstead Feast: WinterAnna Hess
Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks LeagueJonathan Odell
StolenSusan Lewis

My mother told me about an email service called Book Bub, where you get daily emails about book bargains for your e-book provider.  Stolen is the first that I found and bought from this source.  I’ve never heard of the author, Susan Lewis, though I now see that she is very prolific.

Books Read

TitleAuthorRating
Getting Started with Seed BeadsDustin WedekindDisappointing
Beadwork, June/July 2014MagazineGood
Beadwork, August/September 2012MagazineGood
Mastering Beadwork A Comprehensive Guide to Off-Loom TechniquesCarol CypherGood
Beaded Allure Kelly WieseGood
PlainsongKent HarufGood
Eggs for BreakfastDonna LeahyOkay
Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks LeagueJonathan OdellStill reading
The Storied Life of A.J. FikryGabrielle ZevinLoved it!
The After LifeGigi Levangie GrazerJust Terrible
Girls in White DressesJennifer CloseCould not get into it at all
The Book of TomorrowCecilia AhernTwo stars
When the World was YoungElizabeth GaffneyDid not get through it.
The Mathematician's ShivaStuart RojstazerStill Reading...

I enjoyed Plainsong by Kent Haruf.  Amazon has placed it in a category which I feel is an oxymoron – Vintage Contemporary.  (What is that? Like wearing a 1980’s dress?  It’s still vintage, worn by a contemporary. But I digress.)  This is a story about a pregnant teenager who is taken in by two older bachelor brothers.  I love stories about relationships, and this one abounds with people and how they interact with each other.  At one point, where the girl goes off with the boy who impregnated her, I had to put the book down because I didn’t want to read about the brothers’ reaction of what I expected to be disappointment and confusion.  It really is a lovely book.

I have The Mathematician’s Shiva in paperback next to my favorite chair in the living room. I pick it up sporadically and am slowly wending my way through it.  It’s good enough for me to keep picking it up and returning to it, but it hasn’t drawn me in to think about it all day and rush to get home to see what happens next.

I thoroughly enjoyed our Book Club Selection, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.  Our discussion was relatively short because we all loved it. There were no heated discussions of what was unbelievable or boring, or disengaging.  We understood the characters, they were believable, and we were all in agreement that it was a good book. While I like good books, I was disappointed (for many reasons) that the conversation veered to a discussion about many of the book club members’ pet dogs.

The Storied Life set such a high standard that it was difficult to find another book on its heels.  I tossed multiple library books, then finally got through Cecilia Ahern’s The Book of Tomorrow, a very contrived story about a girl who finds a book that has diary entries for the next day.  Admittedly, the author uses the first chapter to tell the reader to suspend reality but even so it wasn’t that great, and initially I thought I may have read it before until I realized that I was getting it confused with JoJo Moye’s Me Before You because there’s a castle in each story!  When I finished it, I gave it two stars on Amazon.  That meant “well, there must have been something there because I finished it, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.”

BeadRoom.com
 

  

Where Have I Been?

I feel like it’s been ages since I posted, and even I’m wondering Where Have I Been?!

Where Have I Been?

Well, I’ve succumbed to the Beading Bug, and am trying the art of beading in order to create some new knitting.  I have bought / read a slew of beading materials and have been learning basic beading as a means to enhance my knitting.  I want to go beyond what’s out there and my mind is swirling with possibilities to test.

I’m only posting a few pictures today to show you my first trial of knitting with beads that I learned in my class at VKL this past January.

I had bought this sparkly yarn from Holiday Yarns at the VKL Marketplace and have knitted and ripped and tried different patterns out. I bought some beads and completed a (self-designed) pattern, deciding not to frog it as it’s a perfect weight for a spring scarf.

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been?

Where Have I Been?

The Princess Boa also included a beading technique of applying the bead (bell) during the knitting instead of adding them all to the yarn before knitting and then sliding them up for the necessary stitch.

Where Have I Been?

I am quite thrilled with all the new possibilities ahead and race home each day after work to try something new.

So much fun!  More reports to  come…

  
March 2015 Reading

March 2015 Reading

My March 2015 Reading report looks like I went a little crazy with the book buying, but Amazon had another one of their Sale Days when a multitude of Paleo e-books were not only on sale, but free! What a deal!

Books Bought March 2015

TitleAuthor
Death in Sicily: The First Three Stories of the Inspector Montalbano SeriesDamon Runyon
The ItaliansJohn Hooper
Paleo Gluten Free Slow Cooker RecipesBeth Gabriel
The Flavor Bible: Paleo Sauce and Dip RecipJ.S. West
10 MInute Paleo Slow Cooker CookbookDerek Doepker
Paleo BreakfastAngelina Dylon
Paleo CookiesAngelina Dylon
The Art of Frugal SimplicityJessica Jacobs
The Paleo Comfort Foods CookbookMartha Drummond
Death at La Fenice: A Commissioner Brunetti MysteryDonna Leon
The Storied Life of A.J. FikryGabrielle Zevin
The Hundred-Year HouseRebecca Makkai
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian StoriesHenry Whittlesey

The sale was also good timing with Passover right around the corner. I find that many Paleo recipes are perfect for Passover since they avoid flour all together. Paleo Cookies has many good recipes, but I haven’t made any yet. (I ended up making Paleo Fudge Bites for Passover, which were delicious!)

I looked through the Paleo Comfort Food book because I made the worst meatloaf ever the other night!  I used almond meal instead of bread crumbs and while I did eat it that night, I could not bring myself to eat the leftovers.  It usually tastes better the next day…not this time! Too bad, how disappointing! I am hoping for a better bread crumb replacement from this book.

Books Read March 2015

TitleAuthorRating
The ItaliansJohn HooperDid not like; Did not finish
Paleo CookiesAngelina DylonWill come back to make the recipes!
The Paleo Comfort Foods CookbookMartha DrummondGood selection.
Death at La FeniceDonna LeonFair to Good
The Hundred-Year HouseRebecca MakkaiStill Reading
What Alice ForgotLiane MoriarityTrite. Could not get into it.
The Girl in the Flammable SkirtAimee BenderDisappointing
Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian LifeFrances MayesOkay, did not finish.
All my old knitting magazinesVogue, Interweave, KnitSimple, etc.Great!

My friends and I are planning a trip to Tuscany in the Fall so that led to a renewed interest in Italy-related books.  The Italians was disappointing. The description “John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Digging deep into their history, culture, and religion, Hooper offers keys to understanding everything from their bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Looking at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, he sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life: football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism, and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover,” sounded so engaging, but so far I haven’t made it past the 40th page!  I will try again later.

March 2015 Reading

Death at La Fenice was good even though I guessed the answer around the middle.  This is the first in a series, so I think I will read more and hope they will get harder to solve.

Every Day in Tuscany is the sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I couldn’t get through the first but decided to try the second book anyway. Same result.  They’re just not that engaging.  A friend and I are going to have wine and watch the movie before we go to Italy. I think the wine will definitely help!

Another friend has asked me to knit her a poncho/ruana so I have been looking through  my magazine and book (and of course online) materials to come up with ideas. This has given me the opportunity to also bookmark other exciting patterns.  Even patterns from magazines that are ten years old (or more) would be so pretty with the luscious yarns available today!

March 2015 Reading

I am two-thirds of the way through The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai, the author of The Borrowers.  I loved The Borrowers when I was young! I would say that even though I haven’t finished it yet, I liked The Hundred-Year House best of my March selection.  It’s about the inhabitants of a house, and how their stories evolve over the years. It’s told backwards which is kind of annoying, but also makes me think about the story when I’m doing something else. When I get to the end, I wonder if then I’ll have to re-read the beginning?

  
3 Patterns

3 Patterns

I set a goal of “3 Patterns” for the past 6 weeks. It was a bit vague, but I think I really meant it just to spur my creativity and branch out. It could have been read 3 Patterns, write 3 Patterns, knit 3 Patterns, crochet 3 Patterns…just do something with 3 different Patterns!

I met my goal and tried 3 knitting patterns, completed 2, 1 was a success. Smile. I am more about process than results, so I am happy that I did 3 Patterns. Never mind the results!

1. Winter Hat with variegated yarn intarsia pattern.
2. Started the Summit Shawl.
3. Made a very long boa scarf for a 5-year old princesslittle girl..princess.

1. Winter Hat


This is the Neighborhood Fiber DK in Victorian Village and a variegated pink DK that I bought on Etsy from Mothy and The Squid. I also used a gold strand with the Victorian Village outside of the ribbing. What fun colors!

I really need to read other winter hat knitting patterns, because once again, the final product turned out too big…but pretty!

2.  The Summit ShawlMandie Harrington is a genius! She created this beautiful shawl, and as I knit it, I continuously marveled at how brilliant she is to have created this pattern.

summitALT2

I started mine in a fingering yarn, and it was turning out nicely.  However, I decided to use the yarn for something else, so frogged it.  I think that I will use a DK instead of a fingering yarn when I do this pattern again.

Summit Shawl

3. Boa scarf. I was asked by this little princess to make a scarf.

3 Patterns

I used a pink fur yarn, a variegated pink/purple fur yarn, a deep pink strand, and knit in bells at each end!

I think I loved it more than the recipient!  Though she had fun with it too.

 

  

Procrastination Counts

Procrastination Counts

I am a procrastinator.

I like the process of planning things.

I like the process of doing things; I’m not that interested in the finished product.

I like beginnings but not endings.

I think these innate traits make me a natural procrastinator.

Procrastination Counts

However….

Lately, I’ve been wondering how many times do I need to think about doing something before I’ll actually do it.

Like, empty the dishwasher, take the garbage out, move the papers to the recycle bin (ugh, all cleaning activities!).

Procrastination Counts

Before, the count (of how many times do I…) was a solid 5.

Now, it’s about 3.

The other day, it was actually 1!

Crazy.