Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Books I Read in August and September

I forgot to keep track of August or much of September, no doubt this list will therefore be somewhat inaccurate.

Total 7 books:

Panicology (Simon Briscoe and Hugh Aldersey-Williams)
The Year of Living Biblically (AJ Jacobs)
Starting Over (Tony Parsons)
Songs of the Humpback Whale (Jodi Picoult)
Popco (Scarlett Thomas)
Divas Don't Knit (Gil McNeil)
Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee)

Panicology (30/09) had the potential to be a good book, the idea was pretty sound, sadly the actual writing of the book lets it down somewhat. Most notably, one of the authors appears to write coherently whilst the other rather struggles. Numerous paragraphs within the sections of this book seem to fail to make any clear point at all, usually because far too many things have been crammed into the sentences in an attempt to make 'smooth' links between points... not so smooth. I have a strong suspicion that with some simple statistics on things like sentence length, one could easily allocate the individual papers within this book into two separate author piles. I'll be listing this on BookMooch just as soon as I've finished this post.

Possibly the most intelligent thing I've read for a while (I really should make more effort), The Year of Living Biblically is a chronicle of precisely what it says on the tin. Funny and quirky, this book pointed me to some obscure bits of the bible I did know and many I didn't. My one regret is that the book wasn't terribly deep in places I might have liked it to be - I suppose they wanted people to want to read the thing though. Well-written and interesting, although I'm terribly glad I'm not his poor wife. Currently on loan to one of Hobnob's work mates, then maybe Hobnob will read it (but perhaps not) and maybe my Dad and then onto BookMooch I think.

I'm still not so keen on Tony Parson's newer books. I much preferred Starting Over to My Favourite Wife (and the truly uninspiring Stories we Could Tell) but it wasn't so good as Man and Boy, Man and Wife or One for my Baby. Reading the blurb for this novel, the plot grated a little (the whole memory effect thing seemed a bit naff - I'm just waiting for a Cecelia Ahern novel on the subject to prove me right :)). The writing was clean and easy but I don't really think I ever got over the plot. It did have some nice moments though, definitely preferable to the last two of his books I've read. Gone to Tiare (UK) via BookMooch.

I'll buy and read every Jodi Picoult once. Songs of the Humpback Whale was slightly curious as it's actually her first novel, republished for UK readers. The sad ending of this book is revealed at the start but it still manages to be almost tear-jerking in places (depending on your susceptibility to such things I suppose). Like all of her novels, the book dwells poignantly on relationships (with much success) and the controversial topic of this book appears to be age gaps between lovers (Picoult's books all have a 'controversial topic' of some kind so it's possibly worth identifying although I think this one features less heavily in the novel, when weighed against the remaining content, than in many of her others). This is a very bitty analysis of the book! Anyway, I enjoyed it. Have passed it on to MissMac (UK) via BookMooch.

With The End of Mr. Y still fondly remembered, I couldn't pass up on an opportunity to buy and read Popco when I spotted it in my local Waterstones. Like The End of Mr. Y, Popco is neatly written. I didn't find the plot quite so engaging, but it was pretty good. This book can stay on my bookshelf, for now at least.

Another knitting related book, this one totally fictional - Divas Don't Knit (14/08) was a bargain from Lillian's bookshelf as she emptied it to move house. The yarn shop setting was nice and cosy even if the celebrity friendship thing seemed a wee bit bizarre - I suppose it might happen... but never to me. An nice happy book that kept me occupied for a bit. On it's way to aganmooch (Germany) via BookMooch.

Yarn Harlot is one of a small collection (and it actually was small) of books I ordered for delivery home whilst away in the US. Cute and funny it might make a nice little gift for a knitting friend who hadn't read it already but... it would definitely make an ideal library book - I really don't see me rereading it in the near future. A good book to snack on but I'm wondering how long I can justify it sitting on my bookshelf just because it pertains to knitting.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

More Startitus

Started these yesterday. I'd seen the Patons Pompero in the market last week and had to squish it. It's super soft... strangely I felt the need to go back and buy a ball this week just to test it out :) So here is the first of two fingerless mittens:

It was originally going to be a knit and crochet wristwarmer but I couldn't convince myself that this fingerless mitt wasn't better and I did want to try cables in a small project sometime soon (although I also want to try another crochet project).

I did make some adjustments to the pattern:
  • Cast on two fewer stitches than called for in the hope of a snugger fit.
  • Added 4 extra rib rows to the cuff.
  • Added 2 extra rib rows to the fingers.
  • Added 1 extra knit row to the thumb (not shown in the photo).
  • Added 2 extra rib rows to the thumb (not shown in the photo).
Which has all given me a nice long slim mitten - wasn't I supposed to be making this an appropriate size to give as a gift for Christmas? Ooops... :) Who do I know with nice slender hands?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Accidental Ginger Cookies

Today Hobnob made 'accidental' ginger cookies. They're suprisingly good cookies, but why the accident? They were supposed to be cakes.

Here's the recipe:

8oz Plain Flour
6tsp Baking Powder
3oz Margarine
3tbsp Golden Syrup
1tsp Ground Ginger

Mix dry ingredients. Add butter and rub to breadcrumbs. Melt syrup and stir in. The whole thing should make one big ball. Break into about 8 small ball shapes approx 2" in size. Bake at 200C for 17 minutes. Transfer to cooling tray.

(Based on this recipe for Ginger cakes)

Thursday, 24 September 2009


I have startitus for everything except the other one of my short-row socks. I've cast on two Christmas projects so far this week. I really want to start a shawl but I'm holding myself back (so far) with the promise that I can... once the scarf is done.

On the plus side, one of my Christmas projects is a bit of a stash buster so I spent some time yesterday investigating my mystery yarns :)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Eskimimi Knits

Just spent too much time reading this blog of a local knitter. Here are my highlights...

19th September 2009:

Seasalt, an ethical clothing store in Cornwall, UK are taking donations of handknit scarves to sell in their store. All proceeds will go to the Bumblebee Conservation trust. Scarf donations should be mailed to:

Kathryn Wild
1 Church Street
TR11 3DN

First 'batch' of scarfs will go on sale at the start of October.

11th September 2009:

Super-useful gift tags to help your recipients look after their new hand-knits.

9th September 2009:

Craft your own sock blockers. Much better than previous suggestions I've seen (anyone want to speculate as to the likelihood that I can bend two wire coat hangers even vaguely similarly?). I particularly like the double-ended suggestion.

3rd September 2009:

Neat little pine-tree chart for a pair of Christmas socks she was knitting.

29th August 2009:

Oh man, this is so yummy. A beautiful little scarf I now *have* to knit.

Now, go and spend the rest of your afternoon reading knitty blogs instead of doing any work - and start with Eskimimi!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Much Love

I still find these exciting:Hurrah for project love!

FO: I Do

The shrug made for Dom & Elisabeth's wedding:

And just the sleeves:

Sadly none of the ones taken on the day itself seem to have much of the shrug in them - have we remembered to take a camera to any of the weddings we've been to in the last year or two?

Pattern: I Do by Jody Prival.
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn in Black and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi in Steelers Pride.
Project: online at Ravelry.

FO: Wrenna

Finally got round to photographing:

I really wish this fit me in a way that meant I could actually wear it. :(

Pattern: Wrenna: Leather-laced cardigan by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes
Yarn: Brown Sheep Burly Spun in colour BS191 - Kiwi.
Project: online at Ravelry.

It all goes quiet

There's something about blog posts that makes them congregate. Like buses and busy evenings, you'll go weeks or months with nothing to write about or no time to write it in, only to find a day where everything you do is (in your head at least) worthy of a quick note to remember forever and/or share with others.

Today is undoubtedly still one of those days where I don't actually have much to post. I thought about doing the Friday Fill-In, but it seems a cop-out to fill my blog with memes so I don't have to worry about real content.

So why the lack of posts? I think the most accurate answer would probably be "meh". I've been semi-busy, semi-tired and semi-miserable for a bit and I can't seem to motivate myself to do anything much at all. That sounds more depressed than I really am. I think it's just that end of summer feeling, once I adjust to the darker days (and once I really get going with some PhD work) it'll all be good again.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Friday Fill-In

This week's Friday Fill In:

1. I feel tired, fed up and altogether ready for a weekend.

2. Being with Hobnob is always fun.

3. Right now, I can hear these things: mice clicking, keyboards tapping, doors creaking, doors shutting, footsteps past my door.

4. I can't believe how gorgeous I look in a wedding dress (they must have some magic powers I'd never realised before) and I'm glad of that, and also that I managed to think of something other than a grump about my PdD :)

5. The last time I felt like I was being productive at work/study was when I was not here. *sigh - I don't want to be not here but I do want to feel useful*

6. We don't get Monday off for this Labour day weekend (or indeed any Labour day weekend, this being the UK).

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to just being at home, tomorrow my plans include watching the weekend fly by too quickly and Sunday, I want to find that I do get some time for me and for house organising despite the Guideyness!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

JISC Study - PhD Blogging

Another JISC post, they've not asked for anything specific from us since last time but I felt like I really should be posting something (and also, I've not got much else going yet):


One method I find useful for keeping up with things happening in my research area is to watch the blogs of researchers I know are working on similar projects. For example, this week I've had a bit of free time just to read some papers - looking through recent posts on the blog of someone I've encountered at conferences, I found some papers he was recommending for a summer school and read those.


Sounds a bit trite really. Oh well.


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