Knit Wit Living

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Reading December 2015 – Books bought

WOW, what a month!  The desire to read has resurfaced in abundant measure!  Plus, it is gift giving time, books as gifts – for others and for me!

I feel like I was so impressionable and hungry for good reading this month.  My standard MO is to read a (primarily the Sunday NY Times) book review, look for the book’s review on Goodreads, and then notate it as Want To Read, or my own shelf – Get from library.  This month it was more: read the book review, look it up on Goodreads, see if it’s in the library Overdrive listing. What? No?  Buy it.

I have also started to lean back toward buying the physical book.  An e-reader just cannot replace holding the book, physically seeing the pages turn and having the pages move from “more to read” to “already read” to “so little to go” (which is sometimes a relief and other times sad because I don’t want to say goodbye to the characters.)  I’ve also learned that is very important to me to be able to re-read the back cover to recall what compelled me to read this book in the first place.

I’ve decided to break up this month’s Reading Report into two separate posts.  First, I have purchased more books than usual and have more to report in both the Purchased and Read categories.  Second, it’s December 30th.  I’m hoping that publishing this post today will end this month’s spending.  (I have two magazine subscriptions in the Interweave Store cart, and in the list below – a solid recognition that this coveting will soon end with a purchase.)

Books Bought December 2015

TitleAuthor
Stringing, Winter 2016
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Magazine
Betsy BeadsBetsy Hershberg
Chevron AfghansCaron Yarn Company
50 Hats & Caps to KnitKnit Simple Magazine
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of PredictionDr. Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner
The Best American Science and Nature WritingRebecca Skloot (Editor), Tim Folger (Editor)
Tricky Twenty-TwoJanet Evanovich
The Girl in the Spider’s WebDavid Lagercrantz
The SportswriterRichard Ford
The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.
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Nichole Bernier
When I Married My Mother: A Daughter's Search for What Really Matters...Jo Maeder
Stringing, SubscriptionMagazine
Beadwork, SubscriptionMagazine
Say You're One of ThemUwem Akpan
Thrilling CitiesIan Fleming
How to be BothAli Smith
Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some DoMatthew Syed
Why Not Me?Mindy Kaling

First the gifts.

For Lovely Daughter – a Finance and Marketing major: Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, which is a chattily-written book that I thought she would enjoy because she is very smart in school but also street smart, common sense smart.  I thought this would meld with her brain perfectly. She had a different opinion, and allowed her brother to take it!  She received Why Not Me? as a replacement, at her request.

For Elusive Son, who made an appearance home for the Christmas week!: his sister’s gift – Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction because he thought it would be interesting; The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz, the new fourth installment of the Dragon Tattoo series.  It was a complete surprise to him that there was a fourth book, especially given that the author had died.  I also gave him The Best American Science and Nature Writing, which I thought would be right up his alley, specifically the Science part.  This is a young man who was upset that he couldn’t minor in Physics in college (due to course scheduling challenges). (Very different from his math-phobic, creatively-asymmetrically-centered mother.)

My spending strategy can be categorized as:

  1. Beading/Knitting/CreativityStringing, Winter 2016, Betsy Beads, Chevron Afghans, 50 Hats & Caps to Knit, Stringing Magazine Subscription, Beadwork Magazine Subscription.  The most delightful surprise of this collection is the Betsy Beads book – a woman who combines knitting with beading.  I am happy to have found this book, not really as inspiration for her ideas but as inspiration for doing my own thing.  The most disappointing surprise was receiving the Chevron Afghans book and realizing that it’s all crochet patterns.
  2. Book club related – our January book is Tricky Twenty-Two, selected as a light read for the busy holiday season; I had recommended The Sportswriter, and it was not selected.  So I bought it to read on my own instead.  Jennie from book club recommended Say You’re One of Them, but I have not read it yet. December 2015 Reading
  3. Kindle bargainsThe Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. and When I Married My Mother: A Daughter’s Search for What Really Matters…. I have not started either one yet.
  4. Escape to a different reality genreThrilling Cities and Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes–But Some Do.  This is an odd category but both books really fit it.  Thrilling Cities is by Ian Fleming (yes, of James Bond fame) and was written in the sixties.  It’s his take on different cities. I thought it would be well-written and interesting – (1) to see his perspective and (2) to see how much the cities have changed since it was written.  I’m only a few pages in so can’t report on it yet.  Matthew Syed’s book fit this category in a different way – to see what mistakes I’ve made and how not to repeat them – give myself a different reality.  I’ve only read the introduction so far, and some of that may be that I’m not quite ready for it.
  5. NY Times Book Review Gotta Have It – Ali Smith’s How to be Both.  I’ve been drawn in to other reviews of this author, and have many of her books on my Goodreads Want to Read list.  I just jumped in and bought this one.  (I just looked for the article on the NY Times site, and I think it must’ve been mentioned in an interview – where someone is asked what he/she is currently reading.  Although there is an article from June 2014 with the title, “An Onion of a Novel, Demanding to be Peeled.”)  Oh, now I’m reminded that The Sportswriter is also in this category.  Someone did mention this book in an interview in the Book Review section.

All this purchasing creates a “burden” to read. Luckily, there’s time off for the holidays…The Reading Report will soon follow!

 

Beading Report

I think beading is more prolific than knitting.  There are more options of things you can do with beads, and the projects are a lot faster to complete (in some cases) than knitting.  Plus, bead designs are available everywhere – you are more likely to see people wearing jewelry than a knitted item.

It could become a daunting task to try to come up with new designs. Or maybe not? There are soooo many different types of beads and new bead types being produced that it may be easier to come up with combinations and patterns that are unique.

On the other hand, knitters may come up with new knitting stitches or yarn / stitch combinations more than noticed or publicized.

It is a fascinating world to be creative with so many choices.

So the really cool thing is that I’ve come up with some ideas and looked online to see how other people have done them…and I can’t find anything!  That is so exciting because it tells me that I am on to something new and different.

The first time this happened, I was making a necklace to wear to the opera in Milan. (I know, how lucky am I?!) I bought a fabulous dress and knew that I wanted to wear a necklace that was totally unique and made specifically for it.  I had read about creating large beads from small ones – a fairly common idea – but then I decided to hang them from the necklace like little pendants.  I could not find any advice on how to do that.  What fun!  Like recipes, patterns are usually just recommendations, so this was actually perfect. I could do what I wanted to make it work.

So amazing!

While planning the jewelry to take on my trip, I realized I had many necklaces but very few earrings. So I decided to take the major components of the different necklaces and make one pair of earrings that would go with them all.  Call it funky, definitely call it unique. This is what I ended up with – and love! because I don’t think anyone else would ever put this combination together!

Beading Report

Now, I’m playing with the herringbone stitch, which is a simple stitch but looks terribly advanced! For some reason, I enjoy doing the tubular rather than the flat stitch. I think it’s more interesting to watch the product develop as a tube.  This is a fairly standard spiral herringbone design, but in the middle section I have Swarovski crystals spiraling in the opposite direction.

I made a point to have both sides match up.  While not unique at all, this was a major challenge for an asymmetrically-driven crafter.  It was a gift for a very symmetrically-oriented friend, who appreciated my extra effort in this regard!

What I’ve Been…

I have been remiss in posting and want to give a quick update of what I’ve been doing…

ABBREVIATED VERSION
knitting
The Poncho
reading
I Am Pilgrim
beading
Herringbone stitch
eating
No sugar
planning
Trip to Italy
playing
Golf
doing
Tidying Up along with the usual procrastination and daydreaming (all part of the process)

UNABRIDGED VERSION
knitting
The Poncho for my friend. This pattern is two 50″x24″ rectangles that are sewn together to make a poncho. It’s quite creative, but very slow-going because I have been so distracted lately.
reading
I Am Pilgrim for my book club.
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I keep reminding myself that I joined the book club to read books that I normally would not pick out on my own. This is one such book. It’s about spies and terrorists and murders and 9/11. All things that are very bleak. I have been depressed about the state of the world while I’m reading this book.
beading
Herringbone stitch – I am digging this stitch! I think it looks more professional than the peyote stitch and I am having such fun with it.  (Just a visual reference below – another post with my own projects to follow…)

eating
No sugar…again. I fell off the No Sugar Wagon awhile back – a little in my coffee, a sweet now and again, and before I know it, I’m eating a lot of sugar. Now I am avoiding it along with gluten, and it makes the No Thanks choices so much easier. I am sleeping better and am not hungry or have any cravings.  There was cake at work yesterday (I am a frosting fanatic!) and I looked at it…did think about that frosting…but walked on by and did not go back. Yay me!
planning
Trip to Italy – coming up…going with college friends. Can Not Wait!
playing
Golf – oh my goodness. I am addicted! I played twice last weekend. I think that it’s mathematical, exercise without thinking you’re exercising, and social. And you only play against yourself really, so no one else is depending on you to do well, like in a team sport.
doing
Tidying Up along with the usual procrastination and daydreaming (all part of the process). I tidied up my books, er, let me clarify, my non-knitting, non-beading, non-craft-oriented books. I had some from college and decided I could let go of them. Now I’m trying to decide if my art books should be donated to Goodwill or given away. I want to make sure they go to nice homes.

The trip is almost upon us and I’m sad that I’m already making plans for when I get back…except that they include golf, knitting, beading and getting together with friends.  Oh, yes, and book club.  It will be interesting to hear everyone’s opinions.

Also, use that reply box down there to offer up other book club suggestions. I’d love to see what other clubs are reading.

Arrivederci!

July & August 2015 Reading

Here is my report of my July & August 2015 Reading.  Lack of interest and summer activities kept me away from reading time.  However, I did stumble upon the book Florence Gordon by Brian Morton in my local (e-)library about an intelligent cantankerous 75-year old woman and her relationships with her family, friends, and herself.  I greatly enjoyed this book because it was so believable and I was able to relish, understand and empathize with each character’s perspective (and a few days after I finished it, I realized that Florence reminded me of my grandmother).

I usually end my reading posts by selecting my favorite, but this month is different.  It’s two months’ worth of reading and I’ve already shared the book I liked the most!

The others…

July & August 2015 Reading

TitleAuthorRating
Gourmet RhapsodyMuriel BarberyJust a few chapters in...
Funny GirlNick HornbyOkay
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingMarie KondoVery good
Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the GlobeNational GeographicNot great - ended up just perusing it.
A Fall of MarigoldsSusan MeissnerOkay
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary ObsessionAllison Hoover BartlettOkay
The Knox Brothers (a Sample)Penelope Fitzgerald Did not like
The Bookshop (a Sample)Penelope FitzgeraldDid not like
Freedom Fries and Cafe Creme (a Sample)Jocelyne RapinacDid not like
The Little Paris BookshopNina GeorgeDid not like
A Paris ApartmentMichelle GableOkay
Florence GordonBrian MortonLoved it
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and EatBee WilsonDisappointed
Then and AlwaysDani AtkinsTERRIBLE!!!!
The Paris ArchitectCharles BalfourOkay
I Am PilgrimTerry HayesStill reading...
Mastering Herringbone Stitch: The Complete GuideMelinda BartaGood
Mastering Peyote StitchMelinda BartaGood
Favorite Bead Stitches, 2013Beadwork Magazine CompilationInspiring!
Stringing, Fall 2015MagazineEnjoying it

I have had Penelope Fitzgerald on my To Read list for awhile, so I downloaded  The Knox Brothers (a Sample) and The Bookshop (a Sample).  I enjoyed neither sample and was very happy I didn’t make a full purchase of either!

I also continued my Paris fascination  by finishing The Paris Architect and purchasing A Paris Apartment (that I had seen someone reading at a community pool) and The Little Paris Bookshop.  They went from Good to Okay to Un-finishable, respectively. The Paris Architect was good until the author didn’t know how to end it.  That just cast a pall on the rest of the story. A Paris Apartment was a light summer read.  I wouldn’t recommend it.  I had been looking forward to The Little Paris Bookshop from a book review.  Yet, I was not drawn to any of the characters and the story became so preposterous that I stopped after the first third.  How disappointing.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat was on my Want to Read list for some time.  I really like reading about how necessity becomes tradition & how common behaviors are influenced by our surroundings.  Unfortunately, a lot of these food/society/tradition histories read like college thesis dissertations – which I’m betting many of them originally were.  I just can’t get into that style of writing, and had to put it down.

I was drawn to The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession because it was about a man who stole valuable old books.  In the introduction, the author speaks about people stealing books from their libraries.  GASP!  I can’t imagine!  Well, actually, I have a very old copy of Mrs. Gaskell’s account of Charlotte Bronte.

July & August 2015 Reading

Tell tale clue at the spine bottom

Tissue paper over the title page!

Tissue paper over the title page!

July & August 2015 Reading

From 1901!

I looked at it the other day, and in the back there was the little envelope where the date due card is inserted.  For the life of me, I cannot remember if I “just never returned it” (they won’t miss it!) or if I bought it or some other scenario.  I guess I could take it back and see if they want it.

July & August 2015 Reading

Egads! 4 cents a day since 1976!

I did not enjoy The Man Who Loved Books Too Much because there was just too much detail and not enough action or interaction so I did not finish it.  I was very disappointed because I really wanted to like it.

Then and Always – the worst book ever!  I borrowed it from the library’s e-collection.  One of the problems with e-books is that you can’t pick them up and leaf through them.  I felt like I was reading someone’s high school English creative writing paper.  (It reminded me of a really bad paper my BFF and I wrote in high school! [You know who you are, and you also know to which paper I am referring!]) The ending was so stupid that I realized it WAS probably self-published.  I sometimes judge myself of being a snob because I try to read only books that are published by a large company, but then I remember that at least those books have been edited and reviewed before being released.  Not to say that all books published by a large publishing house are good, but at least they’ve already been vetted.

Books Bought July & August 2015

TitleAuthor
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingMarie Kondo
The Little Paris BookshopNina George
A Paris ApartmentMichelle Gable
I Am PilgrimTerry Hayes
Mastering Herringbone Stitch: The Complete GuideMelinda Barta
Mastering Peyote StitchMelinda Barta
Favorite Bead Stitches, 2013Beadwork Magazine Compilation
Stringing, Fall 2015Magazine
Thai Slow Cooker Cookbook: Classic Thai Favorites Made SimpleRockridge Press
Flight of PassageRinker Buck

I was looking to expand my beading skills so picked up a few more books and magazines.  A report on the beading is coming soon…

The good news is that I read more books than I bought. Some months it’s been the reverse! The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is compelling. I am reading it bit by bit, activity by activity. So far I’ve cleaned out the clothes in my house.  I got rid of 7 garbage bags of clothing, purses and shoes.  Finally, my closet has only the clothes I really wear and/or really love!  Books are next.

I Am Pilgrim is a venture into new territory.  My book club is reading it for our October session.  It’s a thriller and it’s longer than what we usually read.  My take on it so far (and I’m only at page 96 out of 785 at this point) is that I must like it a little because I haven’t picked up anything else to read at the same time.

Stringing Along


I thought that stringing would be super simple and almost didn’t even want to try it, but it is very appealing so decided to give it a go.
Well!!!
It is not as easy as it looks.
I started with an Italian-themed necklace for a good friend.
I arranged the beads, strung them, held it up as if I were trying it on, and it was just not balanced.
I unstrung them, tried two other combinations before being satisfied. Then, dealing with the chain and the clasp and the jump rings was very intimidating!
I’m glad I persevered – I was very happy with the results, and my friend loved the gift!

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The beads with the Italian images are made of paper and then shellacked. I found them on Etsy.  The round greenish beads with the dots around the circles are ceramic.  The green squares, triangles and green beads are stone (jasper).  The gold and light green beads are freshwater pearls, and the small pink beads are glass seed beads.  I found all these pieces in different places and loved putting them together.

I also made a thank you gift for a friend with whom I stayed over the Fourth of July weekend.
Again, balance, color, size, etc. all come into play, as well as the technical skills to attach the clasp.

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The long oval orange striped beads are vintage paper mache that I found on Etsy.  The pink dotted bauble at the bottom is glass.  The orange and gold beads are vintage glass.  Again, the gold beads are freshwater pearls, and the small yellow and pinkish beige are glass seed beads.  What fun pulling all these together!

I decided to combine the “off loom bead weaving” with the stringing.

I started trying out a tubular peyote stitch (sounds like I know what I’m doing?!). It really started out as a practice, but I decided to continue with it. I had a sketch of what I thought I might do, but creativity took over in the process. I added two pieces of Jasper (the turquoise) and then a vintage bead cage surrounding another piece of Jasper. On to a ceramic piece before completing the circle.

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When I made it, I thought the two pieces of Jasper would be the focal point at the bottom of the necklace. However as I wore it, it seemed to prefer to have the bead cage at the bottom.  And you know what? I like it better that way too!  Luckily, my hair is short so that the peyote and little fringe is still visible in the back.  I like that twist, a little surprise for people to see.
Stringing Along

While I was at it, I made a necklace for another good friend, who enjoys stone necklaces. I also used the stone shapes that I used in the Italian necklace, as well as some sparkly glass beads in the squares, and some agate chunky beads. Instead of chain, I used some glass seed beads that glitter next to the stones. She loved it. I did too, but gave it to her anyway!

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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!

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