Aspen Winter Cowl



It's official! My first pattern, the Aspen Winter Cowl, is now available on Ravelry. While I am in no way a fan of cold weather, I've always loved the visual contrast of the last bright leaves of fall against the first snow fall of winter. This pattern mimics the texture of the aspen trees surrounded by a bed of fallen leaves and snow. The picture above, taken by Elisa (ARockandaTree on both etsy and Instagram), captures the exact inspiration for this design.

There are 2 versions of the cowl, town and country. Both are knit with approximately 200 yards of worsted weight wool on size 8 needles. The borders of "snow" are done in seed stitch, and the center section uses my "birch" stitch to recreate the knots and ridges of the aspen bark. The town version is knit in a custom colorway by Robin's Roost made specifically for this pattern:


I created the country version using one hank of Romney lamb wool from the Prado de Lana farm in Pennsylvania. I won this yarn as part of a giveaway on Instagram and fell in love with it. Squishy soft and natural gray, this yarn was a perfect match for the center birch stitch. I used some handspun alpaca from stash for the snow to create the perfect rustic version of the cowl:


The birch pattern really stands out in the Romney wool:
Both Amanda from Prado de Lana and I will be at Vogue Knitting Live in New York City in January. Amanda will be selling copies of this pattern along with the wool I used - if you're going to the event, stop by her booth! I'll be there Saturday, January 14th, wearing my version; if you see me, please say hi!

I was lucky enough to find some very gracious test knitters. Below is a version by Gill (knit.purl.relax on Instagram):

Angela (harknessangels on Instagram) knit a rustic version in Cascade 220 before Pantone announced that the 2017 color of the year is "Greenery":

Joy (joysharynsquiresjensen on Instagram and 1sexygramma on Ravelry - the best rav name ever!) knit this version that looks just lovely:
A big thank you to all of my test knitters including Juliann (juliannph on Instagram) and Amanda of Prado de Lana (she took the test knit to Florida - jealous!). I'll talk more about the background of this pattern as well as my start on my new cowl pattern for spring in the next podcast - stay tuned!

Moss Cake Knitting Pattern

Knitting - a Scarf Pattern!

A few weeks ago, I posted about a scarf I started using Caron Cake yarn. I admit, I was curious about this yarn after reading numerous posts either loving it or hating it; it's a yarn that inspires all the feels!


As someone who likes to make up her own mind, I bought the Fairie Cake colorway - teal is my favorite color - and started a scarf. I haven't knit a scarf in a long time, and I wanted to trying double moss stitch. Its a stitch that makes a squishy and intricate fabric that impresses non-knitters but is easy enough for knitters to do on the go (or during administrative duty if you are a teacher).


I'm a little over halfway through the cake. This acrylic isn't squeaky on the needles or rough on your hands.  The color changes are instant and not gradual, but gradients are not necessarily good (said the teacher whose students often think the gradient tool makes them a graphic designer). Also, check out my cute little progress keeper I received from White Whisker Studio (and that nifty moss stitch):


A note on how I knit the scarf: the cake started with a few yards of the lightest color before the full block of dark teal:


I originally started with that partial block, but not only did I not like the look of that sad little slice, I also didn't like the slipstitch edging I used, so I started over. I cut the lightest color from the cake and am saving it for when I get to that color. That block will be slightly larger than the others, but it will be at my neckline and should look appropriate. You could always just discard that little extra if you get a cake with the same issue, but I wanted to use my entire cake!

While the scarf isn't complete, here's the recipe for my Moss Cake Scarf. It's a quick knit and might be helpful for last minute gifts.

Moss Cake Scarf

Yarn: One Caron Cake

Needles: Size 8

Cast on 36 stitches. The first and last stitches of each row will always be a knit stitch.

Rows 1 and 2: K1, *K1, P1* to last stitch, K1
Rows 3 and 4: K1, *P1, K1* to last stitch, K1

Knit until you have just enough to bind off, then do the bind off. Since this is acrylic, blocking won't do much, but I always wash a hand knit before I gift or wear it.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll most likely see the finished scarf sometime this week. I'll also include it in my next blog post.

Reading

I was lucky enough to get the newest Jack Reacher novel, Night School, from the library over the weekend. This was a double win because (1) a whole bunch of roofers put a new roof on my house Saturday which prevented me from leaving for most of the day, and (2) it was cold here in New Jersey so I had no interest in leaving my house anyway!


You know what you're getting with a Jack Reacher book: lots of action, sparse prose, an unusual mystery, and woman who falls into bed with the main character for absolutely no reason (but generally just once or twice in less than 3 paragraphs total so easy to breeze through). In this book, that woman is a high powered government official who "combs her hair with her hands" which is just silly - are men really impressed by that?

It is 1997, so maybe.  Reacher is still an MP in this episode, and Y2K gets a lot more attention than fringe Islamic terrorist groups. That changes by the end of the book but not by much. Most of the action takes place in the reunified Germany which has it's own problems.

Great literature, it's not, but it is good fun. If you, like me, hate to leave your house when it's below freezing or in bad weather, this is a good weekend thriller that won't tax your brain but may tax your patience once or twice much like the action movies of the same era.

Today I'm joining The Really Crafty Link Party and Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Little Women and the Aspen Winter Cowl


Aspen Winter Update - Call for Test Knitters

In mid November, after the election, I felt inspired to create my first original knitting pattern. I thought it would be appropriate to release the pattern for my first "podversary" on January 11, 2017. To that end, I started translating the pattern I had in my head on to my needles. Inspired by the photos of aspen trees in the winter by Ansel Adams popular in the 80s, I created a cowl with a seed stitch border (the "snow") and a center section in the Trinity stitch (the "birch").

I knit the first, or "country" version of the Aspen Winter cowl using Romney Lamb worsted wool from Prado De Lana farm for the center, the birch section, and some handspun natural alpaca for the snow section. The small bobbles created by the Trinity stitch really mimic the knots in the birch tree in this yarn, and the contrasting cream alpaca frames the natural wool perfectly.




My friend Robin of Robin's Roost yarn agreed to create a custom colorway for my "town" version of the pattern. This 100% wool not only has the cream, gray, and black of the birch trees but the bright yellows and oranges of the fall leaves lying on the forest floor.


I'm halfway through the test knit for this version and anticipate finishing it by the end of the week. I've opened a thread in the ravelry group for anyone interested in test knitting this pattern (you must join the group to participate). I ask that you indicate what yarns you intend to use in that thread, complete the test knit done by December 30, 2016, and create a project page for your test knit on ravelry. I know it's the holidays with lots of gift knitting but then again, no reason you can't add this pattern to your gift knits!!

Reading

In book news, I love to read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott during the Christmas season. I mentioned the book to some of my seniors, and one of them knew the opening line by heart!
Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
While I don't read this book every Christmas, I do every few years. This past Saturday, I found a copy from 1976 at my local library's book sale for 25 cents - best deal of the season! I started reading that afternoon, and on Sunday, when I woke up a bit sniffly, I made a pot of tea (complete with my grandmother's knitted tea cozy) and settled in with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.


Anyone else love reading Little Women this time of year? Definitely a great way to get into the spirit of the season!

Today I'm joining The Really Crafty Link Party.  On Tuesday's, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Town & Country

A New Pattern

In the last post, I introduced my first original pattern design Aspen Winter. I finished the "country" version of the pattern yesterday, and my timing couldn't be better. Here at the Jersey Shore, we wore flip flops on Saturday and winter boots on Sunday. Thanks weather!

This version of the pattern is knit with worsted weight alpaca as the "snow" and Romney wool from Pradodelana Farm for the "birch trees".


There will be a "town" version of the pattern that I hope to test in the next week or two using custom dyed yarn from a local dyer. I hope to share the pattern with test knitters in early December. If you're interested, please join the Ravelry group. I'll post a thread there when the pattern is ready for testers!

Reading

I recently started watching the Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix and just love them. The time period (1890s), the novelty of invention (night vision goggles!), famous characters (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wild Bill Hickok, Houdini!), the tension between the handsome main character and the female coroner, the comedic constables ... just go watch an episode.

While you do that, we can look at the cover posted outside my classroom. I like to share what I'm reading with the kids so maybe some of them will pick up a book (although many of them tell me they are too busy to read).


After spending some digital time in 1890s Toronto, I was happy to stumble upon A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt in the library last week. The sleuth in this series is a female psychotherapist who encourages one of her patients to confront a doctor who took her baby from her when she was a teenager. Of course, the doctor is murdered, the woman a suspect, and Dr. Summerford enlists the help of Simon Shaw, a man with which she has a history. Early psychology and medical theories abound but don't drag down the story, and the setting of late 19th century New York complete with robber barons and tenements makes this an exceptionally fun read for any lover of historical mysteries!

I participate in  The Really Crafty Link Party on Mondays, Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party on Tuesdays, and the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog on Wednesday.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!


Aspens in Winter & Tigers in Summer

Knitting

I finished the Francie Nolan Tam last week and blocked it right away. This yarn really loosened up; I think if I make another hat with it (Berroco Abode), I'll just lightly spray the project rather than giving it a soak. The pattern knits up quickly especially since I went up significantly in needle size for the ribbing (from size 4 to size 7).


Once again, I have yet to cast on the project selected for the current KnitReadPray KAL (the Yellow Roses shawl). As much as I tell my students not to wait until the last minute, I find that I do my best work under pressure! Since this KAL goes through January 15, 2017, I've got lots of time, right?

So instead of casting on the shawl, I decided that, after the turmoil of election season, I needed to really stretch my creativity. Making is great therapy! Cowl patterns are my favorite, and I've always wanted to create my own, so I spent a significant amount of time last Thursday transferring what was in my head to swatches on the needles.

I read somewhere that the first step to creating a pattern is to knit your concept with cotton yarn. There's lots of cotton in my stash (because dish clothes). However, I did want to test the drape, so I started with a skein of I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby in light gray. This cotton isn't as stiff as other cotton yarn, so Friday afternoon I cast on my concept:


I also contacted Robin of Robin's Roost Yarn, a local to me indie dyer I interviewed in this episode of the podcast, and asked her to do a custom color way for the "town" version of the pattern. Winter is my least favorite season (even though my birthday is January 3rd), but I've always loved the photos of aspen trees at the start of winter surrounded by fallen leaves. Last year, my daughter hosted one of those painting parties for my birthday, and we, of course, did a variation of Ansel Adam's famous photo:


(Don't judge, I'm a coder.)

I shared a few photos with Robin and discussed my "vision" (I feel so official having a vision), and she graciously agreed to dye the yarn for the "town" version of Aspen Winter.

Of course, I can't leave well enough alone, so after I finished the test knit, I decided to do a "country" version of the pattern using alpaca from Sweitzer's Fiber Mill in Pennsylvania and the gorgeous hank of Romney lamb's wool from Prado del Lana Sheep Farm I won as part of an Instagram giveaway. The Romney wool really shows off the pattern!


My original plan was to publish the pattern on January 15, 2017, roughly the first year anniversary of the podcast, but at this rate, I should get it done before Christmas. I will be looking for test knitters; if you're interested, I suggest joining the Ravelry group if you have not yet done so and then watch for a thread calling for testers of the Aspen Winter pattern.

Reading

Last weekend started on Thursday due to the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City. I never go - I'd rather do professional development at a technology conference ... and why doesn't Rhinebeck count for PD? - so in between bouts of pattern design, I read the newest Virgil Flowers mystery by John Sanford.


I'm not a big fan of his Lucas Davenport series also by this author, but I love Virgil. His stories are very Elmore Leonard, and this episode doesn't disappoint. Inept thieves steal 2 tigers from the Minneapolis Zoo, and it's up to Virgil to track them down and save the tigers. Turns out, Amur tiger parts are used as medicine in China, and an evil Chinese immigrant now in LA pays to have the tigers stolen. (Guess we need a wall around California too.) Throw in six brothers of indeterminate Slavic heritage, a disgraced MD who eats Xanax like Skittles, and a Minnesota summer, and you have a winner!

I participate in  The Really Crafty Link Party on Mondays, Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party on Tuesdays, and the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog on Wednesday.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Imperfect Projects and People

Projects

This week I definitely suffered from startitis. I originally planned to cast on another Linto Creek cowl, but Sabrina, a member of the podcast's Ravelry group, kept posting all the beautiful hats she knit on Instagram. I've wanted to knit the Francie Nolan Tam from Literary Knits for some time now, so I started that instead.  (Francie Nolan is the main character in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, one of my all time favorite books.)


I used some Berroco Abode I had in stash; teal is my favorite color, and this bright yarn will look great with my read hair!


I also cast on a winter cowl in yarn I found on clearance at JoAnn's. I try very hard not to be a yarn snob; I've been known to use acrylic on occasion (gasp!). That said, this yarn is Big Twist Natural, 80% acrylic and 20% wool, has perfect fall colors and matched a gray GAP fall coat I bought less than an hour before discovering this yarn. Originally $6.99/skein, I got 4 skeins for 6 dollars! (Go to Joann's and get some. I'll wait.)


I'm doing an Instagram challenge with the hashtag #craftyblisschallenge, and one of the challenges is "Trying Something New". The pattern for this cowl was on the back of the tag wrapped around the yarn. I love this broken fishermen's rib stitch and haven't learned a new stitch in awhile.

Unfortunately, I've developed a bad habit with regard to patterns: I read them then think I know a "better way". I don't know a better way, and I need to learn that the pattern designer is a designer for a reason! This pattern started with 73 stitches cast on size 13 needles. I decided to do a provisional cast on so I could do a 3 needle bind off when it was complete instead of sewing the ends together (it's not knit in the round). Three hours later, I realize that you don't sew the bottom edges together so that provisional cast on was worthless!

I really didn't want to frog all that work, so I pulled out the scrap yarn to see what the edge looked like. It's loose and will lay flat which I think I'll like in such a large cowl since I am my own little furnace these days and don't like to be too bundled up.  Stay tuned to see if my decision is a wise one!


People

In book news, I started Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber late last week and cannot recommend it enough! Karen of the Kitching Stitching podcast recommended it to me through Goodreads, and I'm so glad she did!


I really want to talk about this book once I finish it on the podcast in November, so I'll just say that Bolz-Weber's flavor of Christianity is much like mine. We both have a serious problem with comfortable Christians buying in to the "left behind" mentality. Jesus moved among the fringe of His society, and I truly believe that if he showed up today, we'd find him in a rescue mission in Asbury Park not a mission-style mansion in Beverly Hills. This book is a series of essays on Pastor Bolz-Weber's interactions with an entire rainbow of people (some with tattoos, most with wild hair, a few with ironic hipster glasses, and one corporate vice president).

If that's where you're coming from, you may want to find that book at your library - that's what I did! (If that's not your thing, totally cool, we don't judge.) If you're interested in hearing my complete review, please check out my next podcast. I plan to record in the next week or so. It's available on iTunes and other podcast streaming sites as well as well as this website!

I also attended the Dodge Poetry Festival with 12 students and one other teacher in Newark, NJ, this past Friday. This event is free to high school students, and the entire day is spent listening to poets read their poems, discuss their craft, talk to fans, and then go eat food truck food. Perfect day, right?


Every year, I discover a new poet, and this year, I discovered Tanya Olsen. She was one of the 3 poets who read/spoke during our first session, and she was also on the Poetry and Pride panel. We always close out the day with that session, and this year didn't disappoint. I bought her book of poems at the pop-up bookstore and have been enjoying them over the past few days. Her poem "Rose Goes to Sunday School in the New World" is an incredible exploration of the honesty of young children, and there are 2 poems from the point of view of Jonah (he of whale fame). Her book is available on Amazon if you're interested.

Today I'm joining The Really Crafty Link Party.  On Tuesday's, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

All the Yarn and a Book Review

The last two weeks were even more insane than the regular insanity that is my life. If you are new to the blog, not only am I a public school teacher, but I went to RHINEBECK!!!!! (always all caps, never enough exclamation points). What I did not anticipate was all of the work that precedes a weekend away, and all of the work that follows. The Dodge Poetry Festival was this past Friday which added some extra excitement to the post RHINEBECK!!!!! (told ya) hangover.

I took another Handbrake cowl project on the trip, my second for the Cancer Awareness KAL going on in the podcast Ravelry group. This version was knit using a pink wool and mohair blend a friend purchased in Vermont a few summers ago. A quick knit, I finished this one yesterday.


I'm gifting this one to a mutual friend who has done the Avon 39 mile Breast Cancer Walk in NYC in the past and plans to do it again next year. She deserves it!

While at the festival, we stayed in a lovely house in Hyde Park arranged by Leanne Coppola of Arrow Acres Farm:


I met one of my FAVORITE podcasters, Eric Lutz of the Sticks + Twine podcast. He is even more kind and gracious in person.


I have terrible hat hair but don't care, met Eric!

Yes I bought yarn. I bought my first skein of O-Wool in Pearly Mussel:


Robin (a yarn dyer who I interviewed in this podcast) found this color, and it's so unusual, I couldn't resist. I'm going to make another Linto Creek Cowl with this yarn which will most likely be a gift for my ex-MIL - it is very much her style and color.

My impulse buy was some multi-colored stellina yarn from Ellen's Half-Pint Farm. Apparently, this colorway is called Earth's Royalty but I call it Hocus Pocus after my favorite Halloween movie. Leanne took this photo of me being intimate with my new purchase:


I also bought 2 hanks of hand spun / hand dyed yarn from Pucker Brush Farm, a small vendor I always visit first at any fiber festival. One skein is a prize for the November/December KAL in the Ravelry group (info in the last podcast), and one as a gift for Andrea who keeps that Ravelry group going!!


If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I won some wonderful heritage breed yarn from Maria Muscarella (ninjachickens on Instagram) to make her Fleece Flight shawl. (Proceeds from the sale of the pattern go to the Livestock Conservancy.) She also included mini-skeins of the other heritage breeds used in the larger version of the shall, and I fell in LOVE with the deep brown of the Romeldale from Marushka Farms. Luckily, Marushka Farms was in the breed barn so I got a full skein of their yarn (the brown skein in the picture above).

I also got an amazing deal on some wool hand spun / hand dyed yarn from Maple Creek Farm in the Dallas colorway - so apropos considering my family live in the Dallas area! And this hank was 40% off! I scored it for all of $20. The next KAL for the podcast will be the Yellow Roses shawl by Clothesline Designs. I wanted to do a winter weight shawl and know I will wear this all the time in January and February! Here's a pic of that yarn (center):


Since I've been so busy, I really wanted a quiet, Jane Austen kind of book, so I started The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden this past weekend. This is a simple romance set in a Massachusetts town in the latter 19th century. A family from Romania shows up suddenly and claims possession of the house belonging to a professor and his daughter while they are away for the summer. Of course, the head of the Romanian family is handsome and smart, the professor's daughter a pretty spinster with what I think is dyslexia. Romance ensues with a little mystery for interest.


I've read other books by this author; they are very similar to Julie Klassen's books if you've read any of hers. I just ordered one of Camden's earlier books, Against the Tide from Half Price Books because  I think I'm going to need another book with a simple story and certain outcome if I'm going to make it to Halloween!

Today I'm joining the The Really Crafty Link Party.  On Tuesdays, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party, and on Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

All The Pretty Bags

I finished my Harvest Leaf Bag!!! Two weeks past the testing deadline, which if I followed my own grading procedures would mean I failed... but I completed it and I LOVE IT!


I used approximately 4 hanks of Gotland yarn from River Bend Farm in Howell, NJ. Shelley, the shepherdess, is a family friend who I often see at sheep shows. I used Peach Fleece worsted in Marigold and Wild Mustard for the yellow and orange. I bought 2 mini skeins of each color which made it easy to knit double but probably could’ve squeaed by with one of each if I wanted to live dangerously. Carmen’s husband (she designed the bag) made those incredible leather handles that were super easy to put on. 

Speaking of sheep shows, if you are going to Rhinebeck, you can check the bag out in person! I plan to fill this bag with goodness from the show. If you’ve listened to the last podcast episode, you’ll know there’s a giveaway associated with this bag for anyone who spots me at New York Sheep and Wool. Don’t be shy, say hello and you might win the pattern and Gotland wool for the bag!

In book news, I started All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth last night. I rarely buy or read a book based on an author’s recommendation, but Sophie Hudson (she of the Giddy Up, Eunice! fame) couldn’t say enough good things about this book on her Instagram feed recently. I LOVED Giddy Up, Eunice! (you can listen to my review in this podcast), so if Sophie liked Edie’s book, then I figured I would too.

And I do!!
I’m slightly less than 100 pages in, but let me tell you, Edie’s family is colorful to say the least. The book starts out when the author is around 5 years old, and the portion I’ve read brings the reader up to the second grade. From Tennessee, Edie’s family’s version of rural Appalachia makes the characters of Justified look well off, and made me appreciate every little thing I have. Just about every adult in her life except her Mama is an alcoholic, and government cheese is looked on as a luxury.

The first line of the book reads,

I don’t know how old I was the night the trailer burned down -- or if the rumor was true that Daddy was the one that set it on fire.
You're already hooked, right?!?

This morning, I made it up to the point where her father remarries. Her stepmother is a church goer, and Edie’s handed her first Bible soon after meeting Shirley. From what I understand from reviews of the book, the author eventually becomes a doctor and faces the issues of her past with the help of strong Christian faith. I’m not big on memoirs, but this reads like a novel and the language is just beautiful.

I should finish this book by the next blog post, so check back to see if it fulfills all of it’s promise!!

Today, I'm joining the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blogI also participate in  The Really Crafty Link Party along with Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Harvest Leaf Bag & Banned Book Week

I'm finally settling in to the school year now that we're approaching October. As much as September is a one way trip to crazy town, I do enjoy meeting new students (hello sophomores!) and learning new things (good times with Android Studio). In the spirit of learning new things, I finished the bag part of my Harvest Leaf Bag test knit and just have to do the duplicate stitch leaves. My progress so far:


What the finished bag will look like:


I've never attempted duplicate stitch and want to do a duplicate stitch pocket with a sheep design for my toddler dress I'm still making for a friends baby (who is now 6 months old). Thank goodness there's YouTube! Stay tuned for the next podcast this weekend to hear about my progress and details about a giveaway for the pattern and 4 hanks of local to me Gotland yarn in the month of October!

In other news, it's Banned Book Week!



I try to read at least one new to me banned book every year during Banned Book Week. This year, I selected Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.  My school changed their summer reading initiative to the One Book, One Community initiative 4 years ago, and I am the coordinator (by default, no one else volunteered, but I still love doing it). Two years ago, Little Brother was selected by a Florida school for a similar summer reading program:

The principal of Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida, has canceled the One School/One Book summer reading program after he decided he didn't like the chosen book: Cory Doctorow's YA novel, Little Brother. The teachers had worked hard to create a study guide for the novel, which focuses on a group of teen hackers who use their skills to regain civil rights for citizens after a terrorist attack hits San Francisco and civil liberties are severely curtailed for U.S. citizens. The same school also banned Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. - writerswrite.com
The author retaliated by giving every freshman and sophomore a free copy of the book, and you can download the book for free (I got mine from my library). I just started it last night; so far, I find it's very much like Ready Player One with a heavy dose of Mr. Robot.

Doctorow published the book in 2008 which is important on a number of levels. First, some of the tech is dated, but at least so far this hasn't lessened my enjoyment of the book. Second, the book came out during the height of the second Iraq war when the Patriot Act was in full force. The book addresses both the aftermath of terrorism and the implementation of intense surveillance and a police state. For example, in this world, there's an app that rewards people for turning in students who cut school. While I don't encourage cutting, I don't think adults should be paid to rat the kids out.

I also just finished Necromancing the Stone, the sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride that I shared in last week's blog post. So much fun!! Perfect fall reading if you want something light and slightly scary.

Today I'm joining a new link party, The Really Crafty Link Party along with Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Candy Corn Dish Cloths & Slacker Necromancers

The weather turned hot and humid this past weekend, so work on my wool tote bag came to a screeching halt. I am that Mom that once the air conditioner is turned off, it stays off. That meant I had to find a muggy weather friendly knit that fit with the season.

Coincidentally, I got out my autumn decor (limited as it is) this past weekend. A few years ago, I knit a candy corn dish cloth, but when I pulled it out this year, I realized it was time to retire that one and knit a new one.


This is a free pattern and a quick knit! I even had the right cotton yarn in my stash, but then again, I have lots of cotton yarn because dish cloths. I also have a pumpkin dish cloth pattern I've never made; if this weather continues, stay tuned for that one in the weeks to come!


In book news, I also turned to season appropriate reading with Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride. While I have a decent TBR pile from the library, I wasn't inspired to start any of them this weekend, so I took a stroll through the young adult section at my library. During our summer reading discussions of All the Light We Cannot See at school, a number of students recommended Beyond Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys as a much better book. After picking that one up, I stumbled upon both Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and it's sequel, Necromancing the Stone on a nearby shelf.

I know!!

If you love 80s music (even better if you lived through that decade), you'll love the chapter titles in this book. The first is "Dead Man's Party" and it just goes on from there. The story follows Sam, a 20-something college dropout who works at a fast food restaurant in Seattle. Little does he know, he was born a necromancer but was "bound" by his mother (a witch) and uncle (another necromancer) at birth. This prevented the local necromancer, aka a Mercedes driving bad guy, to notice Sam in his territory.

Add a strong female lead in a hybrid werewolf/fey named Brid and you have a super fun read for this time of year! Because it's young adult, the content is scary along the lines of Stranger Things and Goonies rather than true R rated horror (and that's just how I like my scary stories). I started this Saturday and the only reason I didn't finish it last night is because I couldn't keep my eyes open, but I'm going to finish it this afternoon right after school.

It's that good. If you're feeling the need to feed your love of fall, you won't go wrong knitting up a candy corn dish cloth while reading about the adventures of a slacker necromancer. Enjoy!

Today I'm joining a new link party, The Really Crafty Link Party along with Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Broken Needles and Broken Dreams

School started this past week which means both the knitting and the reading slowed down to a crawl. I did get a decent amount of knitting done on my Harvest Bag test knit for Carmen of A Simple Homestead:



A set of Knitters Pride wooden circular needles were sacrificed in the making of this bag. A few summers ago I knit a blanket for my daughter out of this yarn also held double, and while that needle did not break, it was tested to its limits during the knitting of that blanket.


This Gotland yarn is rustic, aran weight, and not very pliable but (I think) perfect for this bag. It's practically waterproof and very hard wearing, so I expect to take this bag everywhere this fall including Rhinebeck. Just imagine all the purchases I can bring home in that roomy tote!

In book news, I'm reading Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney. I mentioned his first book, Bright Lights, Big City, in my last post and recently listened to an interview and reading by the author on Fresh Air. Imagine the aging creative class still behaving badly in Manhattan - in fact, I probably know a few of these people. Although this book takes place roughly a decade ago, before and during the great 21st century recession, and what was trendy then may have morphed into 5 new new places by now (I do love the references to lunches at Balthazar, the stalwart of downtown upscale bistros), but it's all in good fun.

I post what I'm reading on the bulletin board outside my classroom each week.

Parts of the novel move back in time to the pre-Giuliani days when Manhattan was more Detroit than Disney World, the characters were young, and hair was big. This highlights how far each character strayed from his or her dreams over the past 20+ years along with the compromises they've made. This book is just as insightful as City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg but way less of a commitment (the latter book weighs in at almost 1000 pages). If you like books about a certain type of New Yorker living in certain parts of New York, then give this book a try. If nothing else, the opening paragraph so nakedly describes how so many of us in the suburbs yearned to trade pages and punches with famous authors that if you carried your copy of The Catcher in the Rye, On the Road, or the Bell Jar around with you in high school or college until the pages fell out, you will love this book.