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. -
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.

Bright Lights, Big Bags

School starts up again this week so I spent the holiday weekend crafting. (We won't talk about the Hurricane that wasn't.) I finished and blocked the Laura Pinafore dress from Literary Knits (reviewed in this podcast) for the KnitReadPray Children's KAL that ends on September 30th:

I'm not particularly fond of the pocket; I might use a sheep from the Baable Hat pattern and make a lined sheep pocket. Luckily it'll be a little while until the baby is big enough for this dress!

My daughter laser cut some cute buttons for the back of the dress shaped like our Jacob sheep:

I hope to finish this project this coming weekend and gift it to baby Rory this month!

I also started a test knit for Carmen of A Simple Homestead. The market bag I knit over the summer is so useful and was a great introduction to bag construction. I really wanted to try knitting another bag so when I saw Carmen's Instagram photo of her bag, I immediately wanted the pattern.  Here's Carmen's version:

The pattern calls for approximately 800 yards of worsted weight yarn because, to knit this largish bag, you hold 2 strands of yarn together. Little known fact: teachers have the summer off but don't get paid in the summer. In other words, there's no yarn budget at this point in the year. I did have a lot of aran weight Gotland wool from a local farm just waiting to become something. This yarn is a deep brown and perfect for fall! It's also rather stiff and very strong, perfect for bag making.

I'm almost up to the first simple stranded knit.  For the lines and the leaves, I'm using Peace Fleece worsted in wild mustard and marigold - the yellow and gold look amazing next to the Gotland wool. Hoping to finish this in the next few weeks and take it with me to Rhinebeck!

I also cast on some fall leg warmers from Last Minute Gifts by Joelle Hoverson (owner of Purl Soho). I've wanted to knit these for awhile, and this colorful washable wool from Hobby Lobby has been in my stash for over 2 years. These will also go with me to Rhinebeck because leg warmers are perfect with jammies.

In book news, I'm reading Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Dr. Michele Borba. More of a parenting book than a book for educators, it's still a relevant read (and I definitely recommend it for parents of young to middle grade kids). I especially enjoyed the chapter about how reading literary works like Jane Austen  (as opposed to popular fiction or nonfiction) instills empathy. Go Jane! The statistics regarding how electronic reading and communication really stunts empathetic growth is chilling. I plan to keep a lot of the info from this book in mind as I start the school year.

I'm also reading An Innocent Fashion by R.J. Hern├índez. While it's billed as Devil Wears Prada meets The Bell Jar, it's really Devil Wears Prada meets Bright Lights, Big City and could really benefit from being as short as Bright Lights. It's fun and predictable, and the relationship between the 3 protagonists is somewhat Home at the End of the World (a true favorite), perfect for a holiday weekend with a chance of hurricane. If you, like me, loved those 80s books of youth and excess (I read Less than Zero on a plane to LA when I was 21, and it, like McInerney's book, are still favs), you'll enjoy the excessive introspection, drama, and designer clothing of An Innocent Fashion.

Today I'm joining a new link party, The Really Crafty Link Party.  On Tuesdays, I link up with Nicole and Keep Calm Craft On.  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!