Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Happy Holidays

I don't have much of an update this week.   With Christmas right around the corner, I'm been busy with other things. 

Despite that, I did manage to work on two projects; my dark rose sweater and temperature scarf. Both are progressing nicely.

For the sweater, I have the other front about 2/3 done. I won't post a photo at this time because it's almost exactly the same as the one I posted last week, just the other half.  Even though that's the last major piece, there's still lots of finishing touches that need to be done. I hope to have some time in the next couple of weeks to finish those off.

As for the temperature scarf, I'm a couple of days behind. With the exception of yesterday, which was almost pleasant at -2C (that's dark green in temperature scarf speak), the scarf is looking mighty blue. It's been cold here...way too cold. Here's the latest photo:

That's it for this week.  I'll be taking the next two weeks off (from needlework updates), but I'll be back in the new year with an update and hopefully a photo of my finished sweater. 

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tangled Thursday - Word

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

This week Tami challenged us to use a word or words in our tangle creations. Here's mine:
Tangles: Scrolled Feather, Beadlines, Auraknot
I really wanted to keep it topical this week and with Christmas right around the corner I thought "Peace" was appropriate. I had intended to do a couple more, particularly a few from Sandy over at Tanglebucket using a cool font she featured on her blog. However, time got away from me...again. Also, I haven't figured out a good transfer method for getting the printed out images onto the cardstock that I prefer drawing on. It's much too thick to see through or for use with a light table. When I'm feeling braver, I might attempt to run my cardstock through my printer. However, that might damage the print head, so I'm not keen on doing that. Perhaps a Google search will turn up some helpful information.

This will be my last Tangled Thursday post this year. With the busy holiday season upon us, I don't have enough time to devote to drawing. I will, however, be back on January 2 with another post....hopefully...or maybe January 9.

Be sure to check out the other "word" creations on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Knitting and Knitting or Purling and Purling

It's time again to give an update on my knitting projects.  This week I worked on two of them. 

I completed the front of my dark rose sweater. Here's a shot:

Also, I'm almost done the other sleeve; I have about 5-6" left to do. With any luck I'll finish that tomorrow, then I'll start on the other front. That's the last major piece, so I'm really happy. There's still quite a bit to do, though, including some stuff I haven't done before, like a button band. Thank God for the internet and Youtube.

I wanted to point out something very cool about this sweater pattern. Two things, actually:
  • First, it's called Garter and Cable sweater. This confused me at first. I knew that Garter stitch was all knitting and since I couldn't see where in the pattern the "all knitting" was, I figured I was missing something. It didn't dawn on me until I was about 10" into the back of the sweater that Garter stitch can also be all purling. (because purling is the opposite of knitting). Duh! That's cool, right?

  • The second thing is that both the ribs and the cables are backed or surrounded by garter stitch. If you click on the photo above, you should be able to see that. That means those stitches will be knitted, or in this case purled, on both sides. With me so far? Since the right sides of the ribs and cables are all knitting, that means the backsides are purled. Right? So if the backsides of the ribbing, cables and garter stitches are all purling....every second row in the sweater is all purling!!! That's far simpler than "traditional" ribbing and cabling, where the front side and back side are a combination of knitting and purling. If you've ever knitted such a sweater you'll know that at first the pattern is grueling to follow, but once you "see" the pattern it's much easier; the backside is often just the opposite of the front. The design/method on this sweater makes that whole pattern learning process so much easier and every second row a breeze.   I love this sweater!!
The other things I was working on is a cowl.
Remember my blue scarf that was too short to make into a double loop cowl (from Bernat). Well, I tried again with the white Bernat Boa yarn I had. I guess I really need to check my gauge using this yarn because it, too, came up short by about 8" even though I followed the pattern exactly...garter stitch and number of stitches. It still works as a cowl, sort of, more like a neck muffler. I'm going to leave it for now, but it wouldn't take that much time to rip it out and redo on larger needles.  Something to think about....

That's it for this week.

Next week, I'll give you an update on my temperature scarf, which is going to have many more blue rows. Brrrrrr...it's frickin' cold here.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Aunty Lee's Delights by Ovidia Yu

In Aunty Lee's Delights, Rosie Lee, whom everyone calls "Aunty Lee", has recently lost her husband. Instead of becoming another widow who plays mah-jongg and goes shopping, she decides to open a restaurant, Auntie Lee's Delights. When a body is found in a tourist area and one of her dinner guests fails to show up one night, Auntie Lee dons her amateur sleuth hat and springs into action to get to the bottom of things.

I really enjoyed this book. However, I didn't quite love Aunty Lee in the beginning. I couldn't get a handle on her or the other characters. However, about halfway through it all clicked for me. After that I couldn't get enough of them and the book ended too soon.

The mystery was set in Singapore, which was something new for me. It was what originally peaked my interesting in the book. The story really gave me a taste of what the country was like. It's especially wonderful that the author is from Singapore. That way I knew I'd likely be immersed in the real Singapore.

The book was billed as "witty", however, I didn't know if that was going to translate well across cultures. Humour is hard to pinpoint sometimes. What's funny to some people isn't funny to others. Add in different cultures and it could have come across as dull or anything but funny. Thankfully, this wasn't the case. It wasn't always laugh-out-loud funny, but it did have some rather amusing parts, mostly due to its wonderful cast of characters.

Speaking of characters, I especially loved this eclectic group. There was the odd pairing of Lee's stepson and his wife, a gay couple (their togetherness is still illegal in Singapore), and an older Australian couple, whose trip may not be as it seems. Then, of course, there's Aunty Lee herself, who has tons of smarts and more spunk than someone half her age.

I'm particularly fond of the following quote from the book:
...people ought to go through the ideas they carried around in their heads as regularly as they turned out their store cupboards. ... Aunty Lee believed everything inside a head or cupboard could affect everything else in it by going bad or just taking up more space than it was worth. (page 229)

Recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

Aunty Lee's Delights, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2013. ISBN 9780062227157(Uncorrected Proof), 260p.

Still looking for gifts? How about a book from DK?

With Christmas just around the corner, I bet some of you are still looking for a few gifts. If so, you might be interested to know that DK Publishing has great deals on some of their titles for both adults and children.

I love DK books! They are high quality, very visual and always entertaining.

I've already read and reviewed a number of the books in this promotion.  They are:
Children's Book of Music
Optical Illusions
Star Wars: Year by Year
The Human Body Book
Canadian Gardener's Guide

In the coming weeks, I should have a few more reviews on these titles. 
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Endgame by Frank Brady

In Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall -- from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, author Frank Brady takes the reader inside the world of chess genius, Bobby Fischer.

I really enjoyed this book. Of course, I knew the name Bobby Fischer, but knew very little about him. I also didn't know that much about chess. I know the pieces and their moves (mostly). However, I knew nothing about strategy, the world of chess, the other players, and the competitions. I should have realized that it was ultra-competitive, but even that was new to me. Because of all of that, the book was extremely enlightening. I still don't really know how to play chess, though, but I didn't expect to.

By reading this book, I think I have a better understanding of the Fischer and his life. Chess played a major part of his life, but he had an on-again, off-again relationship with religion, excelled at many different sports, and was a voracious reader.

As for the chess portions of the book, Brady goes through the major points of some of Fischer's most famous games, at a level that's easy to understand for those who aren't grandmasters. Like I said above, even though I'm not that familiar with the game, I found of Brady's explanations quite easy to follow and exceptionally fascinating.

There were hints that Fischer possibly suffered from some type of mental illness, possibly even more than one type. He was temperamental, grew restless easily, hated the media attention, yet wanted everyone to recognize him. He was also an absolute genius. I think, as a whole, Fischer probably was misunderstood by the general public and the media.

Besides chess, Fischer is also known for his anger and outbursts at the Russians and Jews. There's a lot that was presented that I can forgive, tolerate and even understand. His anti-Semitic tirades, however, I cannot. Unforgiveable. Period. I wish the author had addressed Fischer's reasons for these strong views or his need to lash out. Saying that Fischer thought the Russians were cheating doesn't justify it. For me, Fischer's reasons are still a mystery.

I wished the author would have just written a straight-up biography rather than try to address or dispute some of what the other sources said about Fischer. Because of the disputative asides, the book felt a little biased and defensive at times.

Highly recommended. I think it would be helpful to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the game and a little interest in it, but there's no need to be an expert. Those who enjoy reading about celebrities or biographies might also enjoy this one.

For more information about this book, please visit the RandomHouse website.

Endgame by Frank Brady, Crown Publishers (Random House), ©2011. ISBN 9780307463906(Uncorrected Proof), 384p, includes notes and bibliography.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

In The Cuckoo's Calling, Cormoran Strike is a private investigator. Things aren't going well for him at the moment. He's living in his office because of a recent breakup with his girlfriend, and creditors are chomping at the bit for payment. Then, John Bristow walks into his office. Bristow's sister, a famous supermodel, had reportedly committed suicide months before, but John refuses to believe it. He wants Strike to look into it and prove the police wrong.

I can't tell you how much I loved this book. It really was superb! While the story was pretty amazing, it was the characters in this one that kept me interested until the very end.

Rowling created two absolutely brilliant main characters: Cormoran and Robin. First of all, there was Cormoran Strike: great name, great character!! A wounded veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Strike was too proud to tell people he was living in his office, yet he wasn't in a position to change it. In many ways, I felt sorry for him. That's no way for anyone to live. At times it doesn't look like he's going to succeed, yet somehow he makes the best of his situation and does. He's definitely not like any other private detective I've read about.

Robin Ellacott was the other main character. She was supposed to be a temporary secretary, one that Strike couldn't afford, but she was brilliant, falling in step with Strike like they'd been working together for years. She was awesome!

As I said the story was wonderful, too. The mystery is intricate, but not so much that it's hard to follow along. Also, the reader also gets to see a different side of the rich and famous, not just the glitz and glamour.

I have mixed feelings about knowing beforehand this was written by J.K. Rowling. On one hand, I read and adored her other adult book The Casual Vacancy, so I was betting that I was going to love this one, too. However, that may have left me biased. On the other hand, if I hadn't known that the writer was Rowling, I probably wouldn't have picked it up and would have missed an outstanding book.

Highly recommended. I hope she writes many more books.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit Hachette's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Hachette Book Group Canada for this review copy.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Mulholland Books (Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group) ©2013. ISBN 9780316206846(Hardcover), 455p.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen

In The Butterfly Sister, Ruby Rousseau is haunted by her college years. When a suitcase belonging to a former classmate, Beth, shows up on Ruby's doorstep, Ruby is taken aback. It turns out that Beth is missing and Ruby, despite many reservations, is drawn into the mystery and back to Tarble, her old college where the ghosts of her past await.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I absolutely adored the first half of the book and didn't want to put it down. However, halfway through the book something changed. It's almost like the author had a great idea for the beginning of the story, but didn't carry it through or didn't know how to end it. The second half was a major disappointment. One the bright side, if you can call it that, is that I didn't see those twists or ending coming.

I really liked Ruby. I admired her bravery in returning to a place that had so many bad memories for her. I'm not sure I would have done it. I was fascinated by her tendency (and frame of mind) to be drawn to books by women authors who committed suicide. I didn't realize that so many famous ones had taken their own lives. It's quite amazing actually.

I also loved Professor Barnard, at first. Her advice and guidance were awesome. I was so hoping that she'd become a ally of Ruby's and help her solve the mystery. There was one part that I didn't find at all believable. Apparently, Ruby and Professor Barnard had met before. The fact that Ruby didn't remember her didn't ring true. Even that little tidbit might be considered a spoiler to some, so I won't say more on the subject.

There were a few passages in the book that I made note of:
They say time heals all wounds. but I beg to differ. It seems time only deepens the scars.(page 96)
Anger isn't such a bad thing.... It moves obstacles. Nothing would happen without anger. It's a catalyst for change. (page 174)
There were a few more, but they didn't make sense out of context and I don't want to quote whole pages.

The cover is absolutely gorgeous and while I loved the title, I didn't quite understand the references to it in the book.

This edition of the book contains a section at the back that has information about the author and the book as well as a Q&A with the author and questions for a reading group. I always find these sections enlightening. It's definitely worth reading.

I'm not sure that I'd recommend this book. If the author writes another book, I might give it a try based solely on how much I enjoyed the first half of the book.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Butterfly Sister by Amy Gail Hansen, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2013. ISBN 9780062234629(Trade paperback), 298p.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tangled Thursday - Monotangles

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

I'm sorry for posting this so late. I had my tiles mostly completed on the weekend, however, the week got away from me. What a stressful, crappy week!!

Besides accompanying my husband to the hospital yesterday for a medical test and having to drive Mr. Dopey home in near blizzard conditions (Did I mention that I hate to drive?, Did I mention that I've never driven in snow before?, Not even in pleasant snow conditions?, Did I mention I hate winter?), I spent part of yesterday shovelling off the decks and sidewalks, then again this morning because of the additional snow and the blustery winds overnight. Thankfully, Mr. Not-So-Dopey-Anymore was able to jump on the tractor/snowblower and do the rest of the yard. I'm not sure how much snow we got, but the forecast was around 25cm (9in). I'm sure we got something close to that.

Anyway, now that the near blizzard is over, we have these frickin' cold temperatures to contend with. This 'feels like' -30C (-22F) will be around for at least a week. Brrr...

Now onto the Zentangles:

This week I suggested we tackle Monotangles.

The first one I drew using Exis. Because of its numerous variations, it's one of my favourites. Because I'm self taught, I'm not sure what to do when two different patterns/variation meet at the string. I think the string is supposed to "disappear", but it just looks like the patterns come to an abrupt stop and doesn't always look great. On this one, I added some shading, but I'm not sure it works.

I knew that I wanted to do a tile entirely in Tipple. I drew a "string", but changed it numerous times while I was drawing because I got bored of filling in the large spaces. It's not at all how I envisioned it, but it'll do.

The next one is an old standby, Auraknot. I know I've done a few of these since we started these challenges, but it's one of my favourites. I did this one using a shape I hadn't done before. I was hoping to do a little more with this one, but I didn't get back to it during the week.

I've noticed that my creations are pretty sloppy compared to other ones I've seen.  I try to take my time, but maybe I'm still doing it too fast.   Like other projects, once I start I'm anxious to finish and get onto the next thing.  Hmmm...this week I'm going to slow down and be more "zen".  Well, at least try to be, anyway.   

Be sure to check out the other Monotangle creations on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ten Lords A-Leaping by C.C. Benison

In Ten Lords A-Leaping, Tom Christmas, his daughter Miranda and the vicarage housekeeper, Mrs. Prowse are visiting Eggescombe Park, an English Country House. Tom has come to skydrive for charity, along with the Leaping Lords. Things don't go as planned when a rough landing and a faulty chute leave the jumpers shaken. That's not the end of it, though. Little does Tom know that before he leaves Eggescombe Park, he'll have to catch a killer.

I really loved this book, the 3rd in the Father Christmas Mystery series. Personally, I think it's the best one in the series so far. Written in the style of a traditional British cozy mystery, this book is a wonderful read with solid likable characters.

One of my favourite part of the book is the vicarage housekeeper's letters to her mother. Mrs. Madrun Prowse periodically writes updates to her mother to keep her informed as to what is happening at the vicarage or in this case at Eggescombe Park. For the reader, the letters provide a nice recap of the mystery, as well as some new information that Madrun picks up or overhears, including bits of juicy gossip. The letters are written in a conversational style, just as she would talk. She's hilarious.

Father Christmas is one of my favourite characters in cozy mysteries. What I love the most is his way of getting to the bottom of things, which doesn't entail traditional investigating. He mostly does it by asking the right questions, noticing things that others miss, and putting it all together before drawing conclusions. In this story, we get to see how vulnerable he is, both physically and emotionally. Even though he's a man of the cloth, he's not invincible, nor is he a saint.

Jane Bee, the housemaid, from the Her Majesty Investigates series, also by C.C. Bension, is a major character in this story. She's Lady Kirkbride now. I've only read one of those books (so far), but I just love her. I was ecstatic to see her in her new role and hope to encounter her again. The next book, maybe? Two other characters that I really liked were Roberto Sica, the artist, who sculpted in the nude, and Maximilian, the fanciful young boy, who kept Tom Christmas's daughter, Miranda entertained during their visit.

Despite the family tree (which I appreciated very much) and cast of characters that the author provided at the beginning of the book, I still got some characters and family relationships mixed up. Part of it was the titles, Lord this and Lady that. I didn't know that earls, viscounts, and marquesses (among others I'm sure) were all addressed as Lord. Of course, there's a similar list for females with titles, who are addressed as Lady. Anyway, I think I had it straightened out by the end of the book.

Here are my reviews for the first two books in the series: Twelve Drummers Drumming and Eleven Piper's Piping. I loved them both. I also read Death at Buckingham Palace before I started blogging. You can read what I thought of it over at Bookcrossing.

With regards to the reading order in this series, I think it's probably best to start with the first one. It's a great series and you won't be disappointed. Besides, this story contains quite a few references to other "cases". If you're not bothered by that, though, there's nothing wrong with starting with this one. As I said before, I think it's the best one to date. You could always go back and read the others.

I still have a few older books by Benison on my to-be-read shelf. I really have to dig them out.

Highly recommended. I can't wait for the next book, which should feature Tom Christmas and the Nine Ladies.

C.C. Benison is the pseudonym of Doug Whiteway. He lives in my hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

For more information about this book and the author, please visit the RandomHouse website.

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit C.C. Benison's website.

I'd like to thank the author, C.C. Benison, who generously sent me a copy for review.

Ten Lords A-Leaping by C.C. Benison, Delacorte Press (Random House), ©2013. ISBN 9780385344470(Advance Uncorrected Proof), 491p.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Slogging Along

Today, I bring you the latest update on my three knitting projects. First up, I've been knitting the right front of my dark rose sweater. It's going okay, but the newness of the project has worn off and I'm getting a little bored with the cables and the project as a whole. Thankfully, I'm almost done the right half of the front.  If I do a sleeve next, it shouldn't be too bad. That'll leave the left front, the collar, the button band and some finishing touches. I think part of the problem is that I'm not feeling 100%. Nothing major, just tired and not looking forward to a cold, snowy winter. Blah.

Anyway, I promised a shot of the finished back:

When I finish the right front, I'll post a photo of it.

I've also been working on a matching hat to the Bernat Boa scarf I completed last week. The knitting is complete. I just have to sew the side seam. I'm not sure what's going on with me and knitting, especially with this hat/scarf set. I'm pretty sure I used this same pattern (the one on the yarn band) when I knit the last hat with this yarn.  However, this hat is a different shape, bigger in some areas, smaller in others.  It could be that the last one has been worn and has stretched out a bit. It's still weird! I'll know more when I try it on.

Here's a shot of it:

The last thing I've been working on is my temperature scarf. I promised that one of the blues would make an appearance. I'm absolutely loving that combination of the dark green and bright-ish blue. You just never know how the different colours are going to look next to each when knitted. As I've said in the past, I'm not going to show the whole scarf now until it's all done. However, here's a snippet from the past few weeks or so:

As you can see I have tons of ends to weave in.  I realize that the colours mean nothing unless you know the temperature ranges. So here are the ones that you can see in the photo:
• Yellow - +14C to +7C
• Light Green - +6C to 0C
• Dark Green - -1C to -8C
• Blue - -9C to -15C

For us, this blue really isn't that cold. I could live and be quite happy if that's the coldest our winters got. However, it's just the beginning. Besides, these blue days weren't at all pleasant. Unfortunately, they were accompanied by strong winds which made it feel more like -30C. Brrr... Thankfully, we've only had a few so far.

I think that's it for this week.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

In The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, Sookie Poole is looking forward to relaxing after having married off the last of her daughters. She gets a huge surprise when she stumbles upon a secret that her overbearing mother has been keeping for 50+ years. It sends her into a tailspin and she's not sure of anything anymore. As she searches for the truth, Sookie learns more about a woman named Fritzi, who in the 1940s ran an All-Girl Filling Station.

I really enjoyed this book. It was laugh-out-loud funny at times, while being heartfelt and touching at other times. Flagg is a fantastic story teller. I love how she uses Fritzi's war-time letters to get story points across. The story spans two time frames and locations: near present day Alabama and the 1940s, state-side WWII. A wonderful way to get this story across. It's not my favourite Flagg books, but it was still terrific.

The title and cover of the book are a bit of a misnomer. The book is more about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), than about the filling station. That's not too much of a spoiler, is it? Anyway, I loved all of this information. I hadn't heard of the WASP, so it was all new to me. Flagg's work is fiction, but it was still interesting to learn about these amazing women.

As for characters, I really liked Fritzi, but Sookie was a little annoying. However, she did experience quite a few shocks, so maybe I can forgive her. I did want to give her a little slap, though, so she'd snap out of it. I didn't find Lenore, Sookie's mother, terribly overbearing, but Sookie certainly thought so. I really wanted Sookie to stand up to her.

Flagg included a couple of nice twists near the end that kept me guessing as how it was all going to end. Well done!

I've also read two other books by Flagg, both of which I adored: I Still Dream About You and Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which I read before I started blogging. I have a few of her books in my to-be-read pile, which I hope to get to sooner rather than later.

Highly recommended. I think those who enjoy reading books about strong, independent women would really like this book. I'll definitely book looking for more of Flagg's books to read. She's fabulous.

For more information about this book, please visit the RandomHouse website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit the Fannie Flagg's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at RandomHouse for this review copy.

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, Random House, ©2013. ISBN 9781400065943(Hardcover), 347p.

Tangled Thursday - Coloured Ornaments

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

Since the challenge this week was to do ornaments in colour, I figured it was a good time to try out a couple of Zendalas (outlines downloaded from The Bright Owl), which look like ornaments to me already. I didn't know how I was going to tackle the colour part exactly, so I came up with three different methods. Here they are with my work:

1) Create the Zentangle pattern, then fill in some colour
Tangle: Auraknot
This first one is obviously not a Zendala.  I used a star stencil for this one, but in the past I've done a number of these freehand.  It's one of my favourite patterns to do.   I deliberately kept the colour minimal. 

2) Use coloured pens

Tangles: Keeko, Bales, Tipple, Knight's Bridge, Beadlines
3) Colour the shape first, then create the patterns afterwards

Tangles: Purk, Holibaugh, Mooka, Tipple, Pippen, Mr.E

I did both of the Zendalas on plain paper because I downloaded and printed out the outlines.  Besides they were my first one and I didn't know how they were going to turn out.  My pens didn't bleed through, but I much prefer working on cardstock or something much thicker.    I'll have to figure out a transfer method if I'm going to do more. 

I started a few others that weren't Zendalas, but didn't get to finish them. If I do, I'll present them in a post further down the line.

I believe it's my turn to pick the challenge for next week, Dec 5. I think we should all do monotangles. That is, your whole creation should contain one tangle pattern. Yep, only one tangle pattern. That doesn't mean you have to start with one shape and fill it in the same way. You could start with numerous shapes or a string and do many variations on the same tangle in each of the spaces. A quick Google search turned up several examples if you need inspiration.   I have a couple of tangle patterns that I just love, so I'm going to be playing with them to see what I can come up with this coming week.   

Be sure to check out the other Ornaments in Colour creations on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Needlework Tuesday - More knitting

Today I have just a quick update on my needlework projects. 

I finished the blue Bernat Boa scarf. I ended up ripping out what I had and following another pattern I found online. This one for a scarf. It's 4" short even though I followed the pattern exactly. It must be a gauge thing, but who'd think to check the gauge for a scarf. Anyway, it's long enough for a scarf, but too short to sew the ends together and double-loop it into a cowl. Oh, well. Next, I'll be knitting the matching hat. This simple project sure turned into a bit of a headache. Here's the scarf:
I still have the white Bernat Boa yarn, so I might try a cowl with it. *sigh*

As for my dark rose sweater, I finished the sleeve and started on one of the fronts. The sleeve was a little boring to knit, all ribbing, but I'm not going to complain too much because I love ribbing and it really knit up fast. Right now, I'm knitting the instructions for the Left Front, however, since I'm a southpaw, it's going to end up being the Right Front. At least, that's what I'm hoping is going to happen.  I hope I don't have to make any other adjustments. Here's the finished sleeve laid out flat:

I'm still holding back the photo of the finished back. I'll show that next week, if I remember. Currently, the front I'm doing looks pretty much like the first part of the sleeve, so I'm refraining from posting a photo of that.

I also worked a little on the collar of my old sweater, the one where the collar was too tight. I had a hard time isolating the row that needed to come off, so I spent part of the week tracking down the pattern in my messy craft room. I finally found it and discovered that the trim was two rows of slip stitching rather than a row of single crochet. I also thought that the collar was actually part of the sweater. After referring to the pattern, I now know that it's a completely separate piece and could be removed if necessary. That is, I could follow Heather's advice from last week and make another collar. For the time being, I'm still going with Plan A, which is to remove the slip stitch rows and see if it makes a difference. So far, I've removed about 3/4 of a row and it's quite a bit looser, so there's hope.   You'd think that a slip stitch would be easy to undo, but for some reason it's not. 

That's it for this week. Next week, I'll have an update on my temperature scarf, which will definitely have some blue yarn in it. Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

In The Rosie Project, Don Tillman, a genetics professor, is in search of a wife. He constructs a 14-page questionnaire to help him in his selection and weed out those who are undesirable. His Wife Project, isn't going all that great, until Rosie, who definitely wouldn't make the cut, walks into his life and changes him in ways he couldn't imagine.

I really enjoyed this wonderful debut novel. It's such a lighthearted, cute book with an exceptional quirky fun main character. At times, the story was laugh-out-loud funny. However, it wasn't always in your face. My favourite thing about the book was the subtle humour. There were a few times that I didn't get the "joke" until I had read a few sentences past it.  

Another thing that I liked about the book was that most, if not all, of the major characters experienced some personal growth over the course of the story. Don was the one I was cheering for the most, but the others also changed in positive ways.

From the first page of the book, the reader knows that Don Tillman is quirky and not like most other people. While it doesn't exactly pinpoint Don's condition, I think it's implied or hinted at that Don has Aspberger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. Don has some of the same characteristics of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. I absolutely love Sheldon, so it was terrific to read about a character like him. Their shared characteristics make them who they are; sometimes annoying, but always loveable.

The book is written from Don's perspective, which really is ideal for this story. It gives the reader insight as to what he's thinking and why he does what he does. In some ways, I could relate to him. For instance, lately I've been creating a number of small projects to tackle within the next year. I'm going to have to start giving them names. ;)

Even though I really enjoyed this book, at times it felt a little superficial. I don't think I fully connected with Don or Rosie because of that. While I loved Don, I thought Rosie was kind of abrasive. I didn't much care for Gene, Don's friend and confidant, but Gene's wife, Claudia, was okay. Don asked both of these people for advice on his Wife Project a number of times. Considering their marriage arrangement, I thought that was funny.

If you loved this book and want to read about another character with autism, Lisa Genova's Love Anthony (my review) is an exceptional book. It's very different from this one, but it can give you some insight into the mind of a very special little boy.

I could probably write a lot more about this book, but I think it's best if you just go read it.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I purchased this book at Costco.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, HarperCollins, ©2013. ISBN 9781443422666(Trade paperback), 324p.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende

In Maya's Notebook, Maya, abandoned by her parents, is raised by her grandparents. Nini, her grandmother, is outspoken and a "force of nature". Her grandfather, Popo, becomes a stabilizing figure that Maya needs in her teenage years. When he dies, Maya goes crazy and gets into all kinds of trouble, including being enslaved by a drug dealer in Las Vegas. With the help of her grandmother, Maya is sent to live with Manuel, a friend of her grandmother's, on a remote island off the coast of Chile. Once there, Maya has to learn a new way of life while dealing with the past and the new people around her.

At first, I didn't know if I was going to like Allende's modern story. I've only read (and loved) a couple of her historical novels and I didn't know if it was going to work. However, there was no need to worry. This amazing story was extremely compelling.

The vivid details regarding Manuel's torture during the military coup and Maya's life in Las Vegas were definitely hard to read about. Despite this horror and sadness, though, Allende managed to include some humour in the overall story, which I appreciated. It gave me a much needed break.

I loved that Allende included lots of information about Chile and the island of ChiloƩ. What an amazing place! I love reading books set in places so different from where I live. It gives me a perspective on the world. Learning new things about the world is one of the reasons I love to read her books.

I liked all of the characters, but especially Maya and Manuel. Their relationship was unique; they seemed to be quite distant a lot of times, but I don't think they could have lived without each other. Besides them, one of my favourite characters was Freddy, the young man that Maya met in Vegas. His whole story was quite sad, but something about him appealed to me.

Even though I loved the book overall, I have two small complaints. The first is that the story doesn't necessarily read like a diary or notebook. The story works regardless, but then the title doesn't really fit. The second is the cover. I don't think it does the story justice. Generally, I don't like book covers with character photos, so it's just a personal bias.

The book contained a few new-to-me words. They are: inculcate (page 54): inspire, encourage odalisques (page 184): enslaved women in a harem

Highly recommended for fans; for those looking for a great read, and for those who haven't read Allende before because they aren't into historical fiction.   

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende, Harper (HarperCollins), ©2013. ISBN 978062105622(Uncorrected Proof), 387p.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tangled Thursday - Thanksgiving

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

This week's theme of Thanksgiving was suggested by Tami. Even though our Canadian Thanksgiving was last month, celebrating our thanks can be done at any time of year. Having said that, I drew a blank on this challenge. I think I burned myself out last week with too many ideas that this week I didn't have a clue what to do.

Nevertheless, I came up with a couple of tiles. The first one is supposed to be a leaf. However, it doesn't really look like one because of the patterns I choose. I added some shading to suggest veins, but it doesn't quite work. The only thing I like is the sparse colour I added:

 Tangles: Nine Patch, Riki-Tiki, Inapod, Ionic, Triadz, Beadlines, Ahh, Paradox
My second one is more successful, in my opinion, albeit plain. It's probably the best Mr. E I've ever done: 
 Tangles: Mr. E, Tipple
I also worked on my Zentangle project.  I have two more tiles to complete before putting it to bed.  I probably won't be posting any more photos of it.  I think it's run its course. 

Be sure to check out the other Thanksgiving creations on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Old and New

Now that winter has descended upon us, I dug out an old zippered cardigan that I made many moons ago. I rarely wear it, though, and that's mostly because of the collar. Way back when, my crochet skills were crap (they still are) and the single crochet around the collar is way too tight. You can see in the photo that it pulls in. It doesn't help that I have a short neck and the collar bothers me to no end. So, after all of these years I've decided that I'm going to remove the single crochet around the collar to see if I can fix it. I don't know if I'm going to leave it be or redo the crochet part. Even though the sweater is probably 20 years old and is pilling a little, it's worth fixing...I think. Believe it or not, I think I still have some of the yarn.   I'm quite proud of this sweater.  It has slit pockets and has some really fancy stitches that I love. 

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to make a scarf or cowl/hat set with Bernat Boa speciality yarn. I choose the Blue, called "Blue Bird" because it's such a pretty colour.  
I really like this yarn. It's a speciality yarn, so I wouldn't make anything big with it, but it's nice for scarves, hats, etc. I think Bernat even has a short vest pattern. Anyway, the yarn is quite thin and includes a fringe. It's not that slippery on plastic Aero needles and is pretty easy to knit with. However, it can be hard to see the stitches on the needle. I generally "feel" them rather than trying to "see" them when I'm knitting.   I wouldn't recommend it to those just learning to knit.  Here's a close-up shot to see what I mean (the needle is at the bottom):
I chose a really simple pattern, from Bernat, and changed only the stitch that I used. Instead of garter (straight knitting), I used a stocking stitch, knitting the first 3 and last 3 stitches of each row. The pattern called for two skeins and the item was supposed to end up being 50" long. So far, I knit through one skein and only got 18" worth of scarf...one skein should have been closer to 25". Any knitters know what I did wrong? Does the stocking stitch use more yarn than garter? Here's the scarf/cowl so far:


The other item I spent some time on was my dark rose sweater.  I finished the back after measuring the armholes 30 times to make sure I had them the right size.  Seriously, I thought I was losing my mind and had developed OCD. I measured and knit and measured and knit and measured and measured and measured.  Then knit some more.   Finally, I called it done and started a sleeve.  I'm not going to show you the back just yet.  It turned out really nice, though.  Here's the beginning of the sleeve: 

It won't be too exciting because it's all ribbing...the whole sleeve...all the way up to the shoulder.  A ribbing-lover's dream!  It should knit up fairly quickly, though. 

I think that's it for this week.   Don't forget to head over to Heather's website to see what she and everyone else is doing. 

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tangled Thursday - Hearts

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

This week's Heart theme, suggested by Elaine, gave me some trouble. It wasn't that I couldn't come up with an idea, it's that I had so many ideas that I didn't know where to start. I had four tiles going at once so that I could get all of my ideas on paper before I forgot them.   I'm presenting 3 tiles today, but I don't think any of my ideas were fully realized.   The barber pole heart (2nd tile) was stolen from something I saw online, but I can't remember from where so that I could give the person credit.  Sorry about that.  

Tangles: Tipple, Heartstrings, Heartvine, Up N Down, Hearty, Eylet Lace, Knight's Bridge, Jax

Tangles: W2, Barber Pole, Tipple, Laced, Keeko, Exis, Betweed

Tangles: Purk, Scrolled Feather

The scrolled feather design is from Helen Williams from a little lime. She's a fabulous artist with a wonderful, informative website.  If you haven't checked out her work yet, what are you waiting for?  

I won't be giving an update on my Zentangle project this week. I thought I might have some time to get caught up, but that didn't happen. I have pretty much given up the idea of doing it everyday. However, I do have some unfinished work with regards to that that needs to be completed. I don't want to totally give up on it yet, but I know the parameters need to change. I'll be thinking about that over the next week or two.

Be sure to check out the other heart creations on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting, Knitting and Knitting.

I've been in a knitting mood lately. I'm thinking it's partially because of the colder weather and partially because I have a new project to work on.

The first thing I've been knitting is my temperature scarf. I'm completely up-to-date and am really liking how the colours are going together. As you can see, I'm into the greens now.  Yesterday we were less than a degree away from a blue (that's Brrr...) and tomorrow we might actually get back into a yellow. Yay! It'll only last a day, though, but I'll take it. Here's a small snippet of the scarf:

I've also been making good progress on my sweater. I'm just about to start decreasing the stitches for the arm holes on the back. Here's what I've done so far:

I fixed a mistake I made in the beginning (because of a mistake in the pattern) and then went on to start the cable section on the back of the sweater. I love cables. They look complicated, but aren't. They are almost like magic! I managed to screw up one of them by doing a C4B, C4F instead of a C4F, C4B. By the time I found it, I had already done a row and a half past the mistake. Somehow, I managed to fix it without undoing a whole lot of work...only 2 half rows. Amazingly, I can't tell where the fix is.   I'm really pleased about how quickly it's knitting up.  Instead of starting the front next, I think I might tackle a sleeve.  They are all ribbing and as much as I like cables, I think I'll need a little break once I finish the back.   

I'm having so much fun knitting that I'm going to try to a third needlework project, but just a small one. Many moons ago, I picked up some Bernat Boa for less than a dollar each. I've already made the orange into a hat/scarf set, I'm thinking I'm going to make another set in either white or blue. I'm hoping to have time this week to at least start one of them.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tangled Thursday - My Name

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

This week I asked the other participants to create a tile representing their name. Basically, we were to divide our drawing space into the same number of sections as there were letters in our name.  For example, I need 5 sections in my tile for my name. Then, fill each section with a pattern that starts with one of the letters in our name. So, I’d pick a pattern that starts with an M, an A, an R, etc.

Here's mine for this week:

M.A.R.I.E - Mooka, Asian Fans, Reticulated, Indy-Rella, Eylet Ribbon (Mostly in order from the bottom left.  The last two patterns are reversed.)

I had fun doing this one and really enjoyed finding new tangle patterns with which to complete it.  It's not as neat as I hoped, but I still like it.   I was hoping to do a few other variations, but the week got away from me. 

I'm a bit behind on my daily Zentangle project, but I did mange to do a little every day.  Hopefully, I'll be able to post an update on that next week.

Be sure to check out the other name creations on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.