Category Archives: knitting

Death by Cashmere (Sally Goldenbaum) – Review

Death by cashmere : a seaside knitters mysteryDeath by Cashmere (A Seaside Knitters Mystery) by Sally Goldenbaum
Age: Adult
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Obsidian, 2008
ISBN: 9780451224712
297 pages
Source – Library
Find this book at your local library  

Izzy, a young woman who owns the knitting shop in the New England coastal town of Sea Harbor is shaken by the death of Angie, the young woman renting the upstairs apartment. Izzy and her close friends, the knitting circle, put their heads together to figure out who killed Angie and why.  They get more than they bargained for as the story progresses.

As far cosy/themed mysteries go, this one was pretty decent. I love Goldenbaum’s descriptions of the town, I could almost smell the ocean air. Also, the author’s love for knitting and needles crafts is evident as it was weaved throughout the novel. 

The story itself was interesting. Somewhere in the middle it just stalled,  like when the battery of your car dies and you can’t start the car. Scenes, descriptions and the people felt repetitive and the purple prose was a little on the heavy side. There wasn’t much character development, and most of the characters fell into the typical character stereotypes: The dashing young man; the dashing young man with anger management issues; the feisty older women; the feisty young women; the conservative ball-busting women climbing to the top of the political ladder; and the town cuckoo.

There were plenty of plot twists, and all my predictions of who the murderer was were wrong. All the clues were there in the book to piece it together though. It was a little awkward in how the sleuthing worked in this book. There wasn’t a single designated character who tried to solve the mystery. I think that helped create more of a “who did it” atmosphere, especially towards the end.

This book isn’t as formulaic as the typical cosy mysteries, and I might eventually read the other books in the Seaside Knitters Mysteries. If anything, it did make me wish I had my own weekly knitting group, and all the paragraphs on yarn did finally get me to start knitting again this winter.

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Yarn Diet 2011

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I found out about the Yarn Diet via Alea from Pop Culture Junkie. She and Tami from Tami’s Amis are hosting the 2011 Yarn Diet for knitters and crafters. The diet goes from January 2011 to June 2011.

The Rules

Without further ad0, the rules and exceptions of our yarn diet:

Length of time: January 1st-June 1st or until over half of your stash is gone. Obviously it’s pretty hard to use every single little piece of yarn in each skein/ball/cake/hank, so if it’s down to the point you can find much to do with it, then that is considered finished.

What may be purchased in that time: During the yarn diet, the participant is allowed to buy yarn 5 times. At each purchase, you may spend or buy however much you want. This includes LYS, box stores and even online shopping (basically any yarn purchases). You may also still buy as part of a swap and/or gift. Also, if you short less than half the skeins to finish a project (let’s say you’re making a scarf and you run short of yarn by 1 skein) you are able to purchase JUST that ONE item and it won’t count against you.

Punishment: For each time you go past the 5 given times you may purchase yarn during January 1-June 1, you will have another month added to the yarn diet, which will not include another chance to buy yarn for that month.

To participate: Just comment on this post (or the one I will be doing at the beginning of the year) to let us know you’re joining us. Then, take pictures of all of your yarn and count how many skeins you have. I know some people have way too much to count it all, so if that’s the case, keep track of how many bags/bins etc you have it in and gauge that way. Then, sometime in the first week of January, post on your blog all the pictures. That way, we can document the stash as time goes on. I will have a Mr Linky attached to my yarn diet posts where you can post new links to new pictures as the months go on.

My Stash

The Stats:

# of complete skeins     ___ 80

# of incomplete skeins ___ 15

Total amount of usable yarn ____95 skeins.


Without further ad0, the rules and exceptions of our yarn diet: 

Length of time: January 1st-June 1st or until over half of your stash is gone. Obviously it’s pretty hard to use every single little piece of yarn in each skein/ball/cake/hank, so if it’s down to the point you can find much to do with it, then that is considered finished.

What may be purchased in that time: During the yarn diet, the participant is allowed to buy yarn 5 times. At each purchase, you may spend or buy however much you want. This includes LYS, box stores and even online shopping (basically any yarn purchases). You may also still buy as part of a swap and/or gift. Also, if you short less than half the skeins to finish a project (let’s say you’re making a scarf and you run short of yarn by 1 skein) you are able to purchase JUST that ONE item and it won’t count against you.

Punishment: For each time you go past the 5 given times you may purchase yarn during January 1-June 1, you will have another month added to the yarn diet, which will not include another chance to buy yarn for that month.

To participate: Just comment on this post (or the one I will be doing at the beginning of the year) to let us know you’re joining us. Then, take pictures of all of your yarn and count how many skeins you have. I know some people have way too much to count it all, so if that’s the case, keep track of how many bags/bins etc you have it in and gauge that way. Then, sometime in the first week of January, post on your blog all the pictures. That way, we can document the stash as time goes on. I will have a Mr Linky attached to my yarn diet posts where you can post new links to new pictures as the months go on.

Feel free to use the button (thanks to Alea for making this for us!) at the top of this post for your Yarn Diet posts and/or the one in the sidebar (a smaller version).

This is supposed to be fun, so don’t get stressed over it. It will be a breath of fresh air using yarn that has been sitting waiting to be used for months or maybe even years. I know I can’t wait to get rid of some of it, and even find unique projects to make. Just think how refreshing it will be come June 1st when you can replace the yarn you used with even more yarn!

If you have any comments or questions, please let me know in the comments section! I’ll be happy to answer them.

I look forward to posting my first official yarn diet post in the first week of January, but before then, I’m heading to a LYS!

Simply Baby – Book Review

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Simply Baby by Debbie Bliss

Age: All

Simply Baby is a collection of knitting patterns for the baby, age 0-2 years, in your life.

I choose this book from a huge variety of baby knit books from the library because I find Debbie Bliss has a very modern eye for baby clothes. The patterns are incredibly simple to follow and they are adorable in every way. I made the baby shrug for my cousin, who is due early next year.

Its knit in one piece and in plain stockinette stitch. I feel like this pattern is a good foundation for improvised designed. I can easily alter the number of stitches to accomodate for cables, eyelets and ribbing designs. I’ll be knitting a few other patterns from the book as well, including baby mittens and baby booties.

This book is a great introduction to baby knits for a new knitter, or a knitter who has never knit babywear before.

Simply Baby: 20 Adorable Knits for Baby’s First Two Years
by Debbie Bliss
Trafalgar Square Books, 2006
ISBN 1570763348
144 pages

*****************************

Find this book at your local library

Preview the book

I O U

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I’ve been very neglectful of my blog lately. I’ve been reading like crazy, but the motivation to sit down and write my reviews has been lacking. I’ve actually been reading magazines more than books. Anything I can get my hands on, from Time to The Atlantic, to In Style and Glamour magazine.

At some point, you will see reviews for the following;

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Research Virtuoso, Mockingjay, and In the Shadow of the Wind.

This month as been an odd month. I was let go from my primary librarian position, so I have more free time on my hands. Now I work only 3 days a week, something around 20-24 hours. Right now I’ve been reading more and crafting more. I’m working on 2 knitting projects, a cardigan and a pair of leggings. Yes, leggings. 80s style, big, baggy, over the jeans, leggings. It gets so cold during the winter and my normal sweatpants don’t always do the job. Besides, it seems like the 80s are making a comeback with some fierceness.

Other news…I’m waiting for school to start at the end of September. I’ll be taking some community college courses on Child Development for a certification program. If its anything I’ve figured out during my short stint as a librarian, its that I like working with kids and that I want to really focus and put my energies towards becoming a children’s librarian.

My birthday is also coming up at the end of September. The big 2-7. 3 years closer to 30. 7 months closer to my wedding. 7 months closer to my 2 week honeymoon in Europe. 7 more months until I get to celebrate the Festival of Saint Jordi in Barcelona.

Lots of good things to look forward to, too bad the real good stuff is happening in 2011. At least I can look forward to the Fall TV season starting again this week! America’s Next Top Model, Gossip Girl, Supernatural, The Biggest Loser, etc.

A different yarn

I thought I’d spend more time with yarn in its fiber form, than yarn in its storytelling form.  The latest Lion Brand catalog popped up in my mailbox this week, and I fell in love with this pattern. I had taken a break from knitting for the past few months, mostly because I could never really finish any project I started. But this is a simple little top that won’t take very long to do at all.

Picture 033

I’m already a little more than a fourth of the way done.  I’m using Cascade Sierra, which is seriously some of the softest wool I’ve worked with. So far, I think two skeins of this yarn will suffice for my project. I’m not sure if the wrap top on mine will have a lace pattern, I still have to figure out how to do the wrap in the first place, but I’m hopeful it will turn out alright.  I’m not following any pattern though, just using this picture as inspiration.

Image of Downloadable Pattern:  Graceful Top

Read, Knit, Bake, repeat

Instead of setting up New Year’s Resolutions this year, I gave myself 3 New Year’s Challenges.

1. Bake something new each month.

2. Finish a knit/crochet project each month

3. Read all the books in my designated reading challenges.

Well, I haven’t quite figured out how to divide my time fairly between the three areas, as well as family, friends and work.

Unfortunately, my reading has taken a slight step to the wayside as I’ve been baking and knitting like a demon this past month. I did manage to finish 4 books (albeit I started one in December).

You may see my reviewing more cookbooks and craft books this coming year. I teach a knitting/crochet class at the library on Saturdays, so I’m always brushing up on new techniques and good books for beginners to learn from.

This book I am particularly fond of picking through this month.

31 Chunky-Chic Designs Twinkle’s Big City Knits by Wenlan Chia. My main attraction to this book is that a large number of Chia’s knits are produced and sold in Anthropologie stores!

I’ll be posting a couple reviews for 2 mystery books next week, Club Dead by Charlaine Harris and On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle. Both very good, fun and quick reads! Mystery books are so addicting!

Cowboy Boot Booties

I can’t help myself. I’m so proud of these cute little baby booties I knit. I only have one foot done so far, but its absolutely fun to knit (slightly complex pattern though). I hate it when knitting patterns are written in paragraph form instead of bullet form. Bullets are so much easier to read.

I came across this pattern by complete accident. My local library was giving away a few old magazines/booklets about knitting and baby project knitting. These little boots were in one of them!

Cowbow Boot Booties by you.

The Knitting Circle – Review

How one book can be depressing and inspirational at the same time, I don’t know, but Ann Hood’s semi-autobiographical tale definately fit into those two categories.

The pace of the book was very even, the transitions from scene to scene, character to character, story to story was very smooth and fluid. Its an incredibly quick read. I started it on my lunch hour yesterday, and stayed up until midnight to finish it.

The quick plot summary is that mother Mary Baxter lost her 5 year old daughter, Stella, to meningitis. At her mother’s urging, Mary takes up knitting and joins a Wednesday night knitting group with 5 other women. As the story progresses, these women go from anonymous knitters, to real people with real tragedies and struggles in their lives. Mary befriends these women, who know nothing about her recent loss and slowly is able to learn how to cope with the unexpected and much too early death of her daughter.

I started this book yesterday on my lunch break and I was already teary eyed from the first few pages. The story hit pretty close to home for me. I lost my father to a heart attack when I was 20. A few weeks before, my mom had started teaching me how to knit. My boyfriend, for reasons we’ve both forgotten at this point, asked me to knit him a scarf. Although knitting didn’t provide the same meditative escape described in the book, it did provide a much needed distraction to everyone who came to visit. Throughout that first month, I would sit quietly and knit as relatives and friends came to visit. Everyone had their hands on the scarf, and even knit a few rows themselves, both the men and women. Then they would share stories of sweaters and socks their mother’s knit for them, or how they tried to knit, but failed. I stopped knitting for a while after finishing that scarf, took up crochet a few months later. Then 2 years ago, I started knitting again, and have not stopped since.

Anyway, its a good book. But make sure you have something happy to read afterwards. I am moving on to David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day. I can always count on him for a good laugh. =)

Find this book at your local library

The good book curse

It happens to everyone. You read one book, that’s so exciting, so well written that it ends up spoiling every other book you lay a finger on.

It happens to every avid reader. You’re plugging along, happily reading your books, when you come across one book that takes the wind out of you. Its the kind of book that grips you by the heart and pulls you into the story head-first. You’re not just reading about the characters, you’re living with them, experiencing their joys and crying their tears.

I will be the first to admit that I am overly-critical of most fiction. Its just frustrating when you’re reading a book and you know the author has the potential to make the work more entertaining that what it is. Its frustrating when you know that with just a little bit more editing, and little bit more focus, this book could be extraordinary.

I’m not a writer,  I’ve tried and failed. I know writing isn’t easy, crafting a new world and creating lives that strangers should care about isn’t easy. Most books that I don’t enjoy are usually that author’s first novel.

That being said, I returned the Friday Night Knitting Club back to the library today. Publisher’s Weekly had given this book a decent review, and so far, their reviews have been pretty on target. There wasn’t any real story or character development. The entire book just felt passive to me. It felt as if these characters were just being paraded around as New York caricatures.  The book was Kate Jacob’s first novel, and again, it just didn’t meet its potential. I think the writing was jumpy, w/o good transitions. There were many sentences and explainations that could have been left out, that did not benefit the story in any way.

I want to read The Knitting Circle,  which sounds like the story that The Friday Night Knitting Club tried to be, but wasn’t.

*** Publisher’s Weekly reviews***

From Publishers Weekly (The Knitting Circle)
While mourning the death of her daughter, Hood (An Ornithologist’s Guide to Life) learned to knit. In her comeback novel, Mary Baxter, living in Hood’s own Providence, R.I., loses her five-year-old daughter to meningitis. Mary and her husband, Dylan, struggle to preserve their marriage, but the memories are too painful, and the healing too difficult. Mary can’t focus on her job as a writer for a local newspaper, and she bitterly resents her emotionally and geographically distant mother, who relocated to Mexico years earlier. Still, it’s at her mother’s urging that Mary joins a knitting circle and discovers that knitting soothes without distracting. The structure of the story quickly becomes obvious: each knitter has a tragedy that she’ll reveal to Mary, and if there’s pleasure to be had in reading a novel about grief, it’s in guessing what each woman’s misfortune is and in what order it will be exposed. The strength of the writing is in the painfully realistic portrayal of the stages of mourning, and though there’s a lot of knitting, both actual and metaphorical, the terminology’s simple enough for nonknitters to follow and doesn’t distract from the quick pace of the narrative. (Jan.)

From Publishers Weekly (The Friday Night Knitting Club)
Between running her Manhattan yarn shop, Walker & Daughter, and raising her 12-year-old biracial daughter, Dakota, Georgia Walker has plenty on her plate in Jacobs’s debut novel. But when Dakota’s father reappears and a former friend contacts Georgia, Georgia’s orderly existence begins to unravel. Her support system is her staff and the knitting club that meets at her store every Friday night, though each person has dramas of her own brewing. Jacobs surveys the knitters’ histories, and the novel’s pace crawls as the novel lurches between past and present, the latter largely occupied by munching on baked goods, sipping coffee and watching the knitters size each other up. Club members’ troubles don’t intersect so much as build on common themes of domestic woes and betrayal. It takes a while, but when Jacobs, who worked at Redbook and Working Woman, hits her storytelling stride, poignant twists propel the plot and help the pacing find a pleasant rhythm. (Jan.)

Knitting for Peace

I don’t really like to buy books, especially knitting books because I can most of those same patterns online for free. But at Barnes and Nobel last night, this book caught my eye. Knitting for Peace.

Knitting for Peace

So, its basically a guide to knitting charities across the US. I’ve been wanting to donate a lot of the stuff I knit, and knit items specifically to donate for a while now. But other than the major groups like Project Linus, there are really too many charity groups to choose from. This book, will at least be a good starting off point. The patterns are pretty basic, mostly the essentials: scarves, hats, blankets, socks. The charities range from Afghans for Afghans (blankets for people in Afghanistan), blankets for animal shelters, Chemo hats, and slippers and beanies for soldiers in Iraq.