Monday, January 30, 2012

something to show

I've regressed into hermitude since my Christmas job ended a month ago, and have been unable or unwilling to come up with some kind of constructive routine. Basically, I've been sleeping, playing with GoodReads, reading, knitting, eating, watching Sherlock, washing and de-pilling my handknits, and spending enough time on Pinterest that I learned how to make a sock bun. Is it any wonder society finds me unemployable? Perhaps not. So I did have two days of casual work, which is better than none. And I have a job interview tomorrow that I've been studying for. If I think about it, I have been doing things - but imagine what I could have accomplished if I actually kept myself busy. My goal this week will be to do more than one productive thing every day :P

As it turns out, now is the time to do all the wedding things, so I've been working on that. Meeting the caterers, tasting food, ordering rings, tracking down essential bits of important paperwork in various languages - sounds more complicated than it was, thankfully. In addition to my shawl, which I'm knitting away at slowly, I've made some flowers for my hair. They need attachment to clips of some variety, but I'll figure it out. I followed this tutorial, and I'm pleased with how they turned out.

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I also bought some wedding shoes, finally. I think they are kind of cute.

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So. Progress.

Monday, January 23, 2012

read good

I recently rediscovered Goodreads - I may be the last book lover to start using it. Believe it or not, I signed up in 2010 in my last semester of library school, and proceeded to forget all about it until someone on ravelry reminded me. The situation has been rectified. It's not only great for keeping track of and sharing things you've read, but it's also got an interesting book recommendation feature that I think I'll use a lot. If you're interested in what I'm reading, you can find me here.

To populate my Goodreads page, I spent a while adding all the books I read in 2011 (from my super high tech Word doc master list of reading goodness). This exercise brought to light a theme in my reading habits last year that I hadn't noticed at the time.

In the past, I've nearly always had books on request at the library with an idea of what I'd like to read next. Despite all my expensive librarian training, reader's advisory tools, and the rest of it, I found myself kind of listless about my reading choices for part of last year. I took to picking books off the shelf at random, which is not necessarily a bad way of choosing books, but it wasn't the most successful.

In 2011 I apparently read lots of short-stories from collections that I picked up off the shelf during my randomness reading programme. I usually prefer novels, but this year short-stories were the thing: serious, silly, twisted, and thought-provoking.

Here are some of the collections I perused last year:


The Bears of England by Mick Jackson.
Hilarious short stories about bears. Written as if it were historical, the collection investigates the influential role of bears in all aspects of life throughout English history.

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro
Love, music, loneliness, the passage of time, chance meetings, cafés...

The Obelisk by E.M. Forster
Stories unpublished in his lifetime due to controversial (that is, gay) themes. Although most of them don't read as controversial now, they are heartfelt, significant, and clever.

My Goat Ate Its Own Legs by Alex Burrett
By far the weirdest collection of short-stories I read last year. Totally bizarre, surreal, absurd, and very enjoyable. I picked it up because of the crazy title and because the corner of the book had a bite taken out of it. (By design, of course).


Notwithstanding by Louis de Bernières
Stories set in a fictional village in Surrey that explore the eccentricities of life there through the ages.

One City by Alexander McCall Smith, Irvine Welsh, and Ian Rankin
Stories about Edinburgh by authors who live or have lived there.

Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl
Weird and twisted stories aimed at adults, but still containing the fun of his works for kids.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Little Red at Last

Guess what I got for Christmas?

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It's been described and reviewed all over the internet already, but I'll add my impressions to the mix. As a follower of Ysolda's blog, I'd been looking forward to this book for ages prior to its release last year. (Disclaimer: though I have been an Ysolda fan since before I moved to Edinburgh, I am not a creepy stalker. I feel a bit self-consciously creepy about this it nonetheless.)

Lauriel is the pattern that first caught my eye when I heard about the book, and Angostura is also in my queue for the near future. Although I don't have much use for sweater vests - I'll make a use for them, I'm sure! I have a couple store bought ones from that one summer I had a proper office job, but they hardly fit my unemployed-hermit lifestyle at the moment. Also the dude thinks they are distinctly uncool for some reason. Which has never stopped me, since I'm fairly sure I've never been cool, but anyway. Sweater vests = cool or uncool?

Despite its lovely patterns, the book is actually more interesting to me as a reference for future sweaters in general. I like that in a knitting book - even if I only knit a couple of the sweaters, the other information in the book has lasting value. It will take many hours of perusal and consulting, I'm sure, but I hope to make better fitting sweaters because of it. I've already used the detailed measurement guide and print-out to fill in all my current measurements, though I'm still a bit confused about what some of them refer to - will have to consult with the internet hive-mind on this at some point.

I can't comment on the pattern writing yet, since I haven't tried to follow any of it. However, the first few times I flipped through the book, I got a bit confused by the schematics. Though they are very artistic, at a glance they imply that every pattern is knitted in pieces / flat. Which is definitely not the case. Maybe it's just me, but when I saw them that's the impression I got. However, I can also understand the benefit of showing things like set-in sleeves in the shape of a flat set-in sleeve, even if the sleeve itself is a seamless set-in one. Did that make any sense? Whatever. I get how it works now.

Yay, knitting!



Friday, January 06, 2012

First-footer FO

My Devon socks are my first FO of 2012, given that I almost finished them in 2011. Since they are socks, and they are the first FO of the new year, I've been calling them my first-footers. Not sure what sort of luck they'll bring - maybe a year full of socks?

The light in my flat was terrible today when I was attempting pictures, so these are the best I got. The socks fit, though!

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Something weird is happening with the perspective here - my left foot isn't really massively larger than my right...

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I used hand-dyed yarn blogged about here. I love the colours, but I do think it is just a teeny bit too busy. If I'd somehow managed to make the blackish parts less intense/contrast-y, I think the pattern would show up better.

The pattern is Cookie A's Devon. It was an enjoyable knit, even though I did them one at a time; I'd forgotten how quickly one sock can go! I'm not too keen on the way the yarnovers show on the foot section, but disappear into the leg section. To be honest, I'd prefer them to disappear in both, like the original pattern photos. I can only assume the model has skinnier feet than I, so hers don't stretch the yarnovers much. If I made these again, I might try using some hole-less increases instead of yarnovers to see how that looks.

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Here's to more woolly socks this year! (And more FOs at Tami's blog.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

staying warm

When the wind picks up, I can always hear it whistling through the gaps and crannies in our flat - it often sounds worse than it is. Not so, today:


(Not my video, but daaaamn.)

I did have to go out, and I passed downed traffic lights, slate roof tiles, and other debris on my way. Brrr.

Tea and blankets and knitting on the sofa, lovely at any time, was extra nice this afternoon.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hogmanay

Happy New Year, blogosphere! Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh are A Thing - a 3 day festival to bring in the new year. We weren't in town for it last year, but decided to take in some of the free stuff this time around. Things kicked off on Dec 30th with a torchlight procession through town, followed by some fireworks and burning stuff. (They do like their fireworks here).

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See all the twinkly twinkly lights? Apparently there were 6500 people with torches this year. And nobody got set on fire! Amazing. (At least, not that I heard about...) Led by some dudes dressed like vikings, plus several pipe bands, they processed through town up Calton Hill.

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Then there were fireworks and pyrotechnics set up in the monuments on Calton Hill. Okay, so this picture isn't very clear, but you get the idea.

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And a bonfire - it started out as a straw sculpture of some dancing figures.

I think I get a kick out of all this celebratory fire because none of it would be allowed where I grew up. Not only are you not allowed to drink in public places there, but thousands of people carrying open flames through the streets? Haha - not likely.

I took some shaky video of bits of it, and have inexpertly spliced them together to make a highlight reel here:


Bring on 2012!