Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Year In Books - 2018

Another year, another reading challenge. This year I managed to beat my goal of 50 books by a whole 2 books! lol There were some really good books on the list this year. But first - here's the nice Goodreads infographics :)
And now for the books themselves :) As always, I've linked all the reviews I managed to post (and as always, I only managed to get about halfway down the list with reviews). So here is what I read this year:

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey
2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
3. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
4. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
6. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
7. Postcards From the Edge by Carrie Fisher
8. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
9. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
10. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
11. The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin
12. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
13. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
14. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
15. Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich
16. Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha
17. Thérèse Racquin by Émile Zola
18. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
19. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
20. Circe by Madeline Miller
21. Howard's End by E.M. Forster
22. Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy
23. The Odyssey by Homer
24. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
25. Les Liasons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Lasclos
26. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
27. The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner
28. A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
29. At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
30. Calypso by David Sedaris
31. The Martian by Andy Weir
32. How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood
33. I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
34. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer + Annie Barrows
35. Women & Money by Suze Orman
36. Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
37. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
38. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald
39. Five by Fitzgerald by F. Scott Fitzgerald
40. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
41. Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébay

42. The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke
43. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
44. No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
45. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
46. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
47. Artemis by Andy Weir
48. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
49. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
50. The Green Mile by Stephen King
51. Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
52. The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Out of the 52 books I read, I gave 4 of them 5 star ratings. The best books were:
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Gone with the Wind
  • Secondhand Time
  • East of Eden
And the easy winner on this list for me is East of Eden. Wow, what a great book. I can't believe I hadn't heard it spoken of more on the big lists of books you should read. This really makes me excited to read more Steinbeck next year, to say the least. I also finally read something by Stephen King (I know, right?), and I knocked Crime and Punishement and Gone with the Wind off my list. All in all I'm happy with the mix of books for fun and books with purpose.

So that's my year in books :) I definitely recommend some of these. To get my full reviews or my star ratings (if you're interested), head over to My Goodreads Profile. Now I get to start on the next 50 books for 2019 :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A Year in Yarn: 2018

1. Little Giraffe - The very first thing I made of the year - started on December 31st even :)  I just love this little pattern - it's such a cute giraffe, and I enjoyed getting to practice my colorwork. This will be a fun heirloom toy.
2. Accidental Baby Beanie - This is what happens when a baby is teeny tiny and you use a "newborn" size pattern. It turned out quite large. Also this was "accidental" because I meant to make a bonnet, not a beanie. Whoops.
3. Recoleta - My only finished sweater of the year! So weird! I really like this now that it's cool enough to wear it. The yarn is super soft and warm and the pattern is very pretty. This was an enjoyable challenge to knit at the time.

4. Bonnet 1 - I made an actual bonnet this time, but it would up huge again. Ah well, it still looked cute in the pictures, right? (It's the darker purple one).
5. Cat Butt Coaster - This was a last minute gift for my Mother in Law for Mother's Day. It went over well, lol.

6. Bonnet 2 - This was an actual newborn sized bonnet made as a photo prop for a friend, but I'm a bad friend and have yet to give it to her. Ugh. I should really do that.
7. Turkey Butt Hatt - This will have a whole post very soon. I had to make another turkey butt baby hat this year and it turned out great - just like the first one :)


Sadly I did not have much knitting time this year, so I have several items that are still WIPs:
Lady Russell Shawl - this is becoming my constant project. It seems that once a year I will pick it up for a while and then set it aside for something more exciting. I guess I'm really just know a shawl knitter. So maybe one day I will finish this...
Ducks in a Row - this is the sadest wip, lol. I started this last January! Shameful! I really buckled down and had plans to finish it for Christmas, which I would've done had it not been for the wood pieces I need cut. I'm still waiting for my brother to cut my dowel pieces so I can finish the assembly. Hopefully this happens soon.
Copycat Jaywalker Socks - So sad with these - I had most of one sock done when I discovered that I accidentally continued the stitch pattern all the way around the sock, meaning there was a bumpy ridges just under the center of the ball of my foot. Not good. So just last month I decided to yank it out to the heel. So these are even less done now than they were in this photo, lol.
Dahlia Cardigan - Man, I want to get this finished. I'm really so close - I'm mostly finished with the body and then I just have the sleeves and finishing. I'd really just like to be able to move on from this, lol. Hopefully soon.

And that's it! Isn't that crazy? I really do miss knitting, but it just isn't going to get to happen for a while. Ah well. Someday I will get to knit again.

Friday, December 28, 2018

A Year in Thread: 2018

I'm Alive, friends! I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. Craziness! This past month literally tried to kill me, but I have made it to the other side of Christmas and I am so ready for things to slow down a bit again. I couldn't let the end of the year pass without doing my usual round ups, so if this bores you I suggest you come back next year sometime :) Cause I have several round ups coming this next week. I decided to start off with the one that will have the most to show: my year in thread. This is everything I sewed this year along with a little blurb about how it worked for me. Enjoy!
1. Yellow Stripe Boat Neck - my first make of the year and I still wear this quite often. I did learn that you don't pull the neckband on a boat neck like you would a scoop neck or else the neckline will always be wavy, which does annoy me on this make. Now I know for next time.
2. Faux Field Bag - I seriously love everything about this bag. I used it constantly throughout the year, but I have a few improvements I would like to make to the next version (which is always on the edge of being made). I've had a lot of requests for instructions on how to make this, so maybe that is something I will manage to make happen next year. We'll see.
3. Khaki Melissa Skirt - This is a somewhat successful make even if I have issues with some of the on the fly fudges I made. Don't cut your twill cross grain! You will see it! Also I hate that I gathered the back of this so much and wished I had taken my time to really ease it all in. I do still wear this fairly often though since my shirts cover the waistband.
4. Sassy Stork Blouse - This is one of my most popular makes of the year in real life - I still get compliments every time I wear it. I love this fabric and the style. I don't wear it super often because it needs a forward shoulder adjustment (and now that I know why it sits back on my neck, I find that uncomfortable). I have a stack of other fabrics I wanted to use for this pattern, so hopefully I can make one of those in the near future.
5. Green Banksia - This was a sad experiment that I seriously have only worn out once. The fit on the shirt itself is just not right on my body in many ways. I do still love the collar and placket though, so I still plan to use those on a knit shirt sometime.
6. Disney Sorrel - This year's Disney-going shirt. I wore this a few times and always got compliments from the employees at the parks - they see so many prints that they can tell which ones are unusual, so I take that as a compliment :) Still love this pattern, lol.
7. Otari Hoodie - Possibly my most used item of the year. I was lucky to be a pattern tester on this pattern and I learned a lot in the process of making it. I love my lightweight, "Florida" hoodie. The fabrics are super cute and it's light enough to be useful here year round, so it's often in my bag or in my car.
8. Blue Linen Skirt Redux - I finally hit it right with this remake of a remake - isn't it funny that something as simple as changing the buttons and adding tiny pockets would take this from never worn to worn often? I wear this at least every couple of weeks.
9. Blue Laurel Mimi Blouse - This was technically a muslin, but it had several fit issues combined with a color combo that just makes me feel dowdy. I have never worn this out.
10. White Mimi Blouse - My first part of the Dress Like Your Grandma Challenge. I really thought I would wear this all the time, but in the end the fact that you see the facing from the front really does bug me :/ So I never wear this.
11. Red Hollyburn Skirt - Just like all my other Hollyburns, this turned into a frequently worn item. In fact I just wore it yesterday! This was the bottom half of the DLYG Challenge.
12. Pacifier Clips - These were used a ton when these babies were little, so I'm pretty happy with the whopping 30 minutes they took to make.
13. Yaletown - I really wanted to like this dress, and I was bound and determined to have something wearable, but it just has way to make fit issues. I have worn this a few times to church, but I almost exposed myself each time, so until I figure something stronger out to hold the wrap closed, it will not be worn.
14. Navy Agnes - So sad that this fabric was so terrible because I love it in theory. I did manage to wear the shirt with my Pippi Pinafore, but that's the only way it gets outside the closet, lol.
15. Flamingo Agnes - This shirt was worn All. The. Time. This whole outfit, in fact. I should really give this shirt a shave cause it's getting a bit pilly.
16. Minty Floral Skirt - Another great piece - I should just make 10 of this pattern and wear them all the time. If I had more shirts to wear with this, it would get worn even more.
17. Lotta Jansdotter Sailor Top - This gets a surprising amount of wear for being a quilting cotton shirt. It didn't work with the skirt I wanted it for, but it goes with a lot of other skirts just fine and it's very comfy.
18. Quill Peggy Skirt - I seriously love this fabric and I was so proud of my pattern matching on this skirt, but because I had such a hard time with matching a shirt with it, it has been worn very few times. So sad.
19. Pippi Pinafore - This was a fun and different make for me that paid off nicely. I really like the pinafore look on me since this is more fitted, and this helped me wear a few tops that never get worn otherwise.
20. Serger Thread Catcher - Such a useful little thing and it was so easy to make. I hope people were able to use the tutorial and make their own :)
21. Acid Agnes Refashion - This was quite the remake project, lol. I'm still proud I made this from what it was, but after washing it once I had some holes pop up in the friction areas :/ I sewed them closed by hand, but it still doesn't bode well for it holding up. Consequently I haven't worn it much.
22. Rifle Sun Girls Apron - This was a big hit for my sister's birthday this year and now all the other family members want one of their own.
23. Sparkle Peony Agnes - I was so bummed about this shirt - I knew better at the time but I didn't pull the neckband enough and the neckband sags which was just personally embarassing. I finally started to take it apart a few months ago and then never got around to fixing it. So while this did get a little wear, it's out of commission now. Hopefully I get the time to fix it soon cause it was a cute shirt.
24. Burgundy Melissa Skirt - A big win here - this is a comfy skirt that doesn't wrinkle much and goes with a surprising amount of things in my closet. I don't know what this fabric is, but it pills like made in the wash - I had to do a complete shave down just to make it wearable again. It was worth it though. I'm wearing this as I type.
25. Botany Voile Sailor Top - Another big win. Man, I love this fabric. Pretty, light, and breathable in a loose design that goes with a lot. I wore this with the burgundy skirt at my baby shower so I think of that every time I wear the top.
26. Sorrel Dress - Another pattern test for me. I was excited when I signed up for this, and it did get me out of a few style preconceptions I had. I like the dress but really haven't been able to wear it much due to some mistakes I made making it. Cute pattern though.
27. Rifle Sun Girls Oven Mitts - Can you believe I only made ONE Christmas item this year? And then I FORGOT TO TAKE PICTURES OF IT. Ugh. I made my sister some oven mitts to match her apron so she can look super put together in her kitchen. She loves them :) She says she will send me pictures, so I will post about these soon, lol.

And that's it. 27 items sewn, almost all of which were from before I moved in July. I have to say that my output was kind of disappointing, but then I know the behind the scenes reason and it's all ok. I've just had to come to terms with the fact that I will not be able to make much over the next year or so, and that's fine. The items I already had made have kept my wardrobe going strong in this time that I can't make new stuff. Sure, I had some duds, but I also managed to make several items that have turned into staple items that get worn all the time. Many of these are items that I planned forever ago and I finally set out to make (Banksia, Sassy Librarian Blouse, Mimi Blouse), and I did make sure to complete all the items I stated making this year no matter how much work it took to finish (Yaletown, I'm looking at you). All in all, not a bad year of stuff to show :)

How did you do in 2018?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Knitting Progress Update: So Little Time ...

I feel like I'm always saying this, but I've had the craziest few months ever. This time it really is different and more crazy than the usual crazy, which has left me with almost no time to make much of anything. I've managed to sew a few things that I had deadlines on, but my knitting has almost come to a complete stand still. It's so sad and I really wish I could be knitting more - I miss the relaxation it brings, not to mention the joy of a finished project - but trust me when I say that it's for the best reason. I'm hoping I can talk about that reason soon. For now, I wanted to at least post an update on various projects for my own sanity (to feel like I've not given up my blog!). So here we go.

My biggest project is my Dahlia Cardigan. I started this back at the end of May and made good progress for a while, making it almost halfway before I had to set it aside for regular life. This is seriously the strangest sweater construction I've ever done. The pattern itself is a little older, but it was very popular with 1599 projects up on Ravelry alone. It was published in the Fall 2011 issue of Interweave Knits but you can now buy it as a digital download. I've been really pleased with the drapey front look right now - after making so many sweaters, I like that I can switch it up in this way since I so rarely button my sweaters anyway. I wanted to make something lighter weight and still different, so I'm knitting this up in MillaMia Naturally Soft Cotton in the Flamingo colorway from LoveKnitting.com. This isn't a traditional choice for a cardigan like this, but I get to wear my heavier and wool based sweaters so little that I wanted to try out this tactic. So far it's going well aside from the crazy construction. I honestly feel like Holly Golightly when she says that she doesn't know if she's knitting a sweater or a ranch house. This picture should show you what I mean:
This is how the sweater looks now that I've finished the right side and am into the left side. You start by making the back lace panel (which is the most fun to knit, hands down). Next you put one side on hold and bind off the top and bottom while continuing on the right side. You set the main body aside, knit two separate pieces for the upper back/collar and the lower back, then knit them into the body as you work outward. You add in an afterthought line for the sleeve to be knit later, and make the entire right front drape. Then you unpick the provisional cast on of the upper back and make it the width of the entire back. Since I started this so long ago, I couldn't remember stitch counts, so I just had to try and read my knitting as best as possible to make the two sides of the upper and lower back even. These are the big open slit areas - that is the upper and lower back, not the sleeves. Crazy, right? My husband and I were in a weekly class that just ended last week, but this gave me some knitting time that helped me make a little progress ... until I lost my knitting bag! I was so heartbroken. I checked every place I had gone on the last day I knew I had it with me with no luck only to find out a week later that someone at work had wrapped it up in a sweater and shoved it on a bottom shelf to get it out of their way, I guess :/ I was miffed but that was completely overridden by my elation to have my sweater back. I had mentally tried to make myself ok with it being gone that whole week and it was so hard, guys. It felt silly to be so upset about something like that, but I think you other makers out there can understand - particularly when the bag contained a mostly finished sweater I'd been working on for 5 months. Anyway, it's back and will get worked on whenever I had spare time (who knows when that will be, but oh well, lol).
When my knitting bag disappeared, I still had my weekly class with knitting time that I didn't want to go to waste, so I grabbed my Ducks in a Row. I started this back in January (how sad is that), and I had barely managed to finish the mama duck body before I set it aside for my Recoleta sweater. During just 2 of our classes and one random Sunday with a little knitting time, I was able to give the mama duck her wings AND make 2 complete baby ducks! Now I'm very motivated to finish this project soon. I plan to buy the pieces for the wheels this week, then I can put it all together. I'm not really looking forward to making all the i-cord it will take to connect these, but it will be worth it. I plan to give this to some special little ladies at Christmas and I feel like this is a reasonable goal. It feels so good to make a toy again :)
I also have a pair of Jaywalker socks in the works - I mentioned wanting to make these back in this post about my case of start-itis at the beginning of the year and I started these just 2 days after that post went up in February. I worked on them for a few weeks on and off, but I quickly set them aside to work on my Recoleta. So I have most of a sock now just without the toe area, lol. Who knows when these will be finished. They do look nice, though :) I say that, but just pulling this out to take the photo has me more motivated to work on them since it is closer to finished than I remembered. Always nice. Then we will see if I am struck by Second Sock Syndrome or not.

I also still have my Lady Russel Shawl in the works, but I have made zero progress since my post in February. I also have a partially made blanket I bought at a thrift store years ago that I vowed to finish up when I moved back in July - it is still sitting in the same bag, totally untouched, lol. Also I swatched for 2 other sweaters - Endearment and Rebel Lace Cardigan - but those are still just swatches. Maybe someday I'll have enough knitting time to make a sweater again, lol. Until then I am enjoying the little time I do get and slowly but surely working toward a few finished objects. Wish me luck!