Monday, 25 March 2013

52 Books - Week 13

Last week the book I read was Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Its weird, but then to be fair all of the books I've read by him are weird and this is probably one of the more normal ones.

Once you've got your head around the strange world of Haruki Murakami, his books flow in weird and wonderful ways and never take you quite where you imagine you are going. .

On the other hand this book leaves a lot of loose ends and there is imagery and situations in there which are never really explained.

I have to be in the right mood to read Murakami. If I am feeling too literal there is no chance of coping with the books. However if I am in the mood for it then they will allow my mind to escape to places I wouldn't otherwise imagine.

Murakami's books aren't exactly marmite, although there are some people who love them and some people who hate them. Then there is the third group like me, you have to be in the mood and some of the books I just can't finish. This is probably one of the ones I enjoyed the most though.

Book Title: Kafka on the Shore

Author: Haruki Murakami

Enjoyment: 610

Would read again: 7/10

Comments: Its strange, sometimes its confusing and too many strand of the storyline are left unanswered. However its exciting, interesting and well worth a read.


Saturday, 23 March 2013

WIP - Crochet squares blanket

I'd only just finished my colourful stripy crochet blanket when I stared on my next one. There's nothing like finishing a project for making me feel motivated to start another. Unfortunately the motivations doesn't always last that long which is why I have so many half finished projects lying around. I am trying to be strict with myself at the moment and concentrate on finishing these big projects. I'm only diverting to a smaller project if there is a deadline like my sisters birthday, or I need something more portable.

I am finding this blanket a bit less fulfilling than the last one. I'm back to the greys again and although I love the finished projects in the grey colour scheme they aren't half as exciting to make as the colourful ones. However I need another blanket in the right colours for my living room because the Husbeast has claimed the stripy one as his and so I still haven't got my own!

This blanket is also made up of squares. I love the way they look, I hate the seaming up. I think the blanket will take 170 squares which means a minimum of 340 ends to sew in (not including the border) and 153 seams to sew up. Not my idea of fun, however the blanket is growing and it looks good so I am determined to persevere.

I am going along the blanket in rows however after I started the Husbeast pointed out I could have done it in columns and sewn up the long seams at the end. So yesterday when I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because my hip was hurting, I made a sneaky detour onto the coloured squares blanket which was going to be my next project.

I can't believe I managed to get a whole column done which means if you don't count the bored I am a tenth of the way through the blanket. Not bad for a days work. Normally I wouldn't have got this much done, but lots of sitting and lying around feeling sorry for myself meant extra time to crochet so it wasn't all bad.

The downside to this method is that there will be lots of seaming and sewing in ends at the end of the blanket which I will hate and probably curse myself for doing it this way. The upside is no seaming and sewing in as I go along which means it goes much quicker.

52 Books - Week 12

I went with another Redwall book this week, my brain needed something engaging but not too complicated. This weeks books was Loamhedge, a newer Redwall book and so one I think I've read once and didn't know as well.

This was full of the usual Redwall enthusiasm and characters although I felt like it took a little longer to get going than normal. It was usual in that the central character wasn't the one off adventuring instead it was someone left behind at Redwall abbey.

This was another great read and highly recommended. I'd forgotten just how enjoyable these books are, once I read one I want to re read them all. But I promise no more Redwall for a bit as I want this year to be reasonably varied.

Book Title: Loamhedge

Author: Bryan Jacques

Enjoyment: 8/10

Would read again: 9/10

Comments: This took awhile to get going, but very enjoyable and as usual well written, exciting and engaging.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

FO - Colourful stripy crochet blanket

I don't think I've even done a WIP post on this blanket, it just seems to have come together so quickly. Especially seeing as I took about five days off to do a couple of cowls and then went away at the weekend and did some knitting.

This blanket has taken me 25 days, three days quicker than the last one. Not bad considering I do actually have a job! I knit this whilst watching the remainder of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I've been reliving my youth. I started it whilst crocheting the grey blanket and finished it on the same day I finished this blanket.

I've now started watching Angel, which I never watched the first tome around, whilst working on a third crochet blanket. There are only five series of Angel, compared to seven series of Buffy, so I doubt I'll finish another two blankets whilst watching it. Not to mention the fact that the next blanket is slightly more complicated and time consuming. More about that another time though...

Here it is in all its glory, my colourful stripy blanket:

I did this in exactly the same way as the last blanket, although this was more fun to crochet. The colours each only repeated three times within the blanket so it was more exciting seeing which colour was coming next. Towards the end of the grey blanket I was very bored of the colours but this was much more fun.

I love the bit towards the end of the blanket where it's big enough to drape over yourself and use it to keep warm as you crochet. That's been very handy the last few days as the weather has been so cold.

This blanket is intended for my craft room, whenever that eventually gets sorted. For now though its just going to be in whatever room I'm siting in as the Husbeast has claimed the grey blanket as his. Its very flattering that he's so fond of something I've crocheted, but it does mean I'll have to make another one for me now. Still I planned on making two anyway, I just might not let him know that...

I also made a little penguin for a swap parcel:

 He's a cute little thing.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Small Skein Society - No 3

This months small skein society yarn from the Yarn Yard is here:

This isn't something I would have chosen for myself. I like the orange but its not a colour I buy very often and the dyed effect isn't something I would go for. However the whole point of signing up to a yarn club is to get something which is outside of my comfort zone. The first two instalments have been very "me" in terms of colour and variegation. This one is pushing me a little to accept something different.

I'm not quite sure what it is going to end up with. I've had other ideas for my wall hanging I'm planning so I have a feeling all these yarn club instalments are going to end up being socks, because a girl can never have too many pairs of hand made socks!

There were chocolates. The Husbeast walked into the house, saw the yarn and though "Ooh chocolate". I came back downstairs a few minutes later and the chocolate had gone. My plan to brainwash him into being excited about new yarn is working....

So now all I need is some ideas for what to use this yarn for. Otherwise its going to become vanilla socks, along with a large percentage of my sock yarn when I get back into sock knitting. Soon hopefully, although at the moment I am completely in blanket mode - more on that tomorrow.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

52 Books - Week 11

This week I reverted back to my childhood again, and picked up a Redwall book by Bryan Jacques. These are technically children's books, but I know my Dad read them all alongside us when we were children and they definitely fall into the children's books adults will enjoy.

This week I read Mariel of Redwall, Mariel was always one of my favourite characters in the series. There are nearly as many main girls as there are main boys, but a lot of the girls seemed to come a little later on in the series, probably once Bryan Jacques realised girls were reading the books as well as boys.

Mariel was one of the first main girls and so I always had a soft spot for her. The story is pure Redwall, there are the bad guys - rats, stoats, foxes etc, and the good guys - mice, shrews, otters etc. There are battles and feats and amazing descriptions of food. The good guys win, the bad guys lose, what more could you want.

Book Title: Mariel of Redwall

Author: Bryan Jacques

Enjoyment: 10/10

Would read again: 10/10

Comments: This is one of the best Redwall books out there in my opinion. Its an old favourite I go back to every so often. If you haven't read a Redwall book yet I strongly recommend you do.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

A new sofa

Do you remember back here I mentioned we were getting a new sofa and then everything went quite? Well we did get the new, well second hand, sofa, I just haven't got around to blogging about it yet.

This is possibly because I am feeling ambivalent about it. It is exactly what I wanted and envisioned in my head for that space but for some reason I'm undecided.

I like the colour, but I worry it looks too brown (its oxblood red) against the black and grey of the room.

Its long enough to lie down on which is fantastic but I'm not convinced its as comfortable as the last sofa.

I think for me the main problem is that it makes the chairs in the room look even more out of place. The green old fashioned suite never went with the room anyway, but it goes even less now there is a leather sofa in there.

I am planning on new chairs, they are on the list, the list is very long...

I'm thinking maybe grey fabric ones, the Husbeast would like a high back, I would like modern and removable covers (the Husbeast is an engineer and comes home pretty dirty some nights) so who knows what we will end up with?

Please leave me some comments and let me know what you think of the new sofa.

Friday, 15 March 2013

FO - Crochet Cowl

This week I made a couple of quick crochet cowls. One is for my sister for her birthday, the other is for me.

My sisters is in Posh Yarn Sylvia Aran which is a merino silk mix, in pinks and oranges and all sorts of lovely colours:

The one for me is in Posh Yarn Bonnie Aran, which is pure Blue Faced Leicester wool, in a wonderful deep red:

Its very simple just rows and rows of UK double crochet stitch. I made it it one long piece and joined the two ends together with some slip stitches.

Nothing fancy, but I've really enjoyed making them. They each took a couple of days to make and they were nice easy crochet, perfect for hooking whilst I watch TV etc.

The red one has ended up a couple of inches longer than the pink one and the difference between crocheting the cowls was surprising. The silk mix just flew through my fingers, where as the BFL felt slightly sticky and seemed to take more effort to crochet. Its probably worth it though as the finished product feels more durable and long lasting than the silk mix.

The red dye also came off on my hands. I do sometimes have dye come off on my hands but not usually this bad, it made the Husbeast laugh when he saw it. It gave the saying "caught red handed" a whole new meaning as there was no way I would have been able to pretend it'd been doing housework when I'd been crocheting! Not that I ever do that the Husbeast is far to well trained (bullied) to think I should do housework instead of craft!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Crafty Creatives - March box

I'm getting in earlier with the post this month!

The theme for this months box is steampunk, which is fantastic, I think for me this comes second favourite only to the Gothic inspired box.

I am secretly a little Gothic at heart. My favourite colours are red and black, my favourite music is  a type of German Heavy Metal, and I love my Doc Martens. Not quite enough to make me a full blown goth, I haven't the dedication to do the full make up and hair dye etc, but this box does definitely excite me.

Inside the boxes are:

The art card

Leather pieces
Tweed fabric

Lock and Key fasteners
Copper wire
Leather cord
Tiny watch parts

Crackle glaze
Metallic transfer paper

And the kit, which this month is to make a decoupage box, which I think will turn out quite cute. Its another craft I've not tried out before which makes it more exciting.

The unexpected side effect of this box was finding out that the Husbeast didn't know what Steampunk was. I've taken him to loads of Gothic belly dance festivals where there are always steampunk fans, and yet he still didn't have a clue. My poor little main stream Husbeast, he's learning bless him. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Crafty Creatives - February Box

I know, its March. Somehow this little box of goodies has been push to one side until I suddenly realised the March box should be here any day soon (I think its the parcel sat at the Post Office waiting for me at the moment) and I still haven't even looked at the February box properly.

The theme for the box is spots and stripes:

There was the usual art card - very funky this month!

Inside were

A roll of washi tape (this has been used already)
Paper straws
Spotty cupcake cases - these are great
Stripey string
Resin beads
Single spotty glass bead

PVC fabric
Striped fabric
Tissue paper

Foam dots
Round nose pliers
15 silver plated head pins

Plus the kit which this month is to make a polymer clay necklace. I haven't tried using this stuff before so I am looking forward to giving it a try. I wont have chance this weekend, so next weekend perhaps?

I liked this month, although I don't usually go for spots, I do love stripes - take my two crochet blankets for example.

It is making me wonder about the possibility of some spotty blankets to go with my stripy blankets.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


When we moved to our house in August last year the flower bed to the side of the drive was almost completely covered with black plastic and bark chippings. Apart from one tree there was no plants in there at all. It might have been low maintenance but it wasn't exactly pretty.

So last Autumn I spend a day planting bulbs, several hundred of them in fact which took some time. But the end of it I couldn't remember what I had planted where which means I'll get nice surprises throughout the year as different things come up.

Already the flower bed is full of green shoots everywhere and one sunny day last week I was greeted with this:

How beautiful they are. Of course the snow and ice this morning does make me wonder how many of the small green shoots are going to end up flowering, but at least I've had these come through.Despite the cold weather this week they make me feel like Spring is about to arrive any minute now.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

52 Books - Week 10

My book for this week is a bit of a cheat really because I had to read it. I'm doing a course through the Open University - AA100 to be precise which is "The arts past and present". For part of my first assignment I had to read Doctor Faustus by Marlowe, so that's my book for this week.

Left to my own devices I probably wouldn't have read it. Reading blank verse in old fashioned English doesn't make for easy reading, but I'm glad I did.

The plot is interesting. Doctor Faustus makes a pact with the Devil to exchange his chance of going to heaven in exchange for power for twenty four years. I can't get too much into the plot here because the OU understandably doesn't want people discussing the assignment questions on line. I don't think I could discuss the plot without touching on what I wrote on the essay so this weeks description has to be brief.

Book Title: Doctor Faustus

Author: Marlowe

Enjoyment: 7/10

Would read again: 5/10

Comments: I'm glad I read this and I enjoyed it. However without working through my textbook and the activities in there I probably wouldn't have got as much out of reading this as I did, and I think it will be a long time before I try reading it again. Still it was worth having to read it.


Saturday, 2 March 2013

52 Books - Week 9

This week a lovely reader contacted me on Ravelry to tell me she'd been reading my blog, which was lovely. By a strange coincidence we'd both been reading the same book The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

I loved this book, it was well written, balanced and very engaging. What scares me about the book is that it is 1962. Not 1862, but 1962. I was born in the 80's and so 1962 doesn't feel that far away to me. Yet at that time black women were still bring up white women's babies but had to use their won toilet in case they had "diseases". The social divide was enormous. There were black women who had been to college being treated like dirt by white women who's only accomplishment had been to marry the right man.

Its a fantastic book, it makes you think and it made me get all worked up. I like a book that can bring out emotions and make a time and a place feel real.

Book Title: The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Enjoyment: 10/10

Would read again: 10/10

Comments: This is worth reading over and over again. Its passionate, fluent and moving. Its been promoted to being the other side of Gone with the Wind, but its more than that because its a story of white people of the time as well as black. Its more Upstairs Downstairs but in a more serious way.

Kathryn Stockett Website