Sunday, May 27, 2012

POTW: 27 May 2012

It's been summer for the last few days! Definitely a favourite.

Well, there's been some sock-knitting, but that's really boring in progress.  I am, however, test-knitting a Hat for one friend using yarn from another.  This doesn't reflect the real colour balance of the yarn, but here it is in progress.  With any luck I'll be able to tell you exactly what this is soonish!

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I finished the yarn I was making last week...  Love it.  176 grammes; 245 metres.

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I've started spinning up some Colinette stuff...

I made a thing!  Actually, I finished it a couple of weeks ago, but I made it for Jackie's 50th.  And ridiculously, I didn't manage to photograph it in all the time between finishing it and handing it over; but here's an idea; this is what it looked like in the weaving...  Jackie seemed to love it, anyway!

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It's been a really sociable week.  I've had a work party, had a lovely time at apr├Ęs-civil-partnership drinks on Friday night,


and a relaxing and friendly 50th birthday party where I handed over the stole pictured above...

Media etc.
The Bridge - wow.  I didn't expect that particular ending at all.  I'm almost disappointed that I already knew there was a second series before the final episode started.

I have been loving this advert.  Regardless of your attitude to the monarchy, this is a great campaign.
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I voted for Moldova.

Honestly, how couldn't I - Improbable Trousers always get double points and it was a cheery enough song.  I couldn't believe that the UK, as a man/woman, voted for Jedward.  Please - people - get a grip! The Swedish song which won was actually pretty good.  The Spanish singer was superb - but I'm glad Eurovision didn't finally extinguish the flame of their economy...  I was wandering over to Eurovision TV on the PC in between listening to Radio 2, which was about 30 seconds ahead.  Ken Bruce has obviously been taking sarcasm lessons from Terry Wogan... "So, no points from Malta.... can we have our George Cross back?"  As ever, we got next to nul points for reasons which had very little to do with the quality of our song or performance; but that's pretty predictable...

There's been cricket all weekend.  It's been lovely.  (It's even been good cricket)...  We've had the beautiful voices of Viv Richards (60 this week) and Tony Cozier from the tourists, we've had a cheery Michael Vaughan, we've had Tuffers, and best of all Geoffrey Boycott knocked off early to go to his wife's 60th birthday party.  And Blowers and Aggers.  And it's been summer.  God's in his heaven, and all that.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

2012 books, #46-50

A room full of bones, by Elly Griffiths. London: Quercus, 2012.

The fourth of the Ruth Galloway/Harry Nelson books, and another very good read.  One or two of the plot points are a little bit weak, but this is a series I now read more for the characterisation and the setting (in North Norfolk - Ruth is an archaeologist at a fictional university in King's Lynn).  Bones in this book come both from a medieval bishop with a surprising secret, and a storeroom containing Aboriginal Australian bones; both hold secrets which could ultimately prove fatal.

The fire baby, by Jim Kelly.  London: Michael Joseph, 2004.

I started reading this at around the time of publication - Kelly is a local author and it's set in the Fens - but somehow, I never got into it and took it back to the library.   This is a really gripping read second time around!  In the drought-wracked summer of 1976, a USAF plane carrying civilian passengers ploughs into a farmhouse, killing everyone but a 16-year-old girl and a baby, who stagger out of the burning house.  27 years later, in the equally hot and dry summer of 2003, the same woman is dying of cancer, and she has secrets to tell.  Philip Dryden, head reporter at the Ely Crow, becomes involved in the story.  Meanwhile he is also following a story on illegal immigration of farm workers.  Both events become intertwined before more secrets are revealed; and the ending is truly unexpected.

Zugzwang, by Ronan Bennett.  London: Bloomsbury, 2008.

Zugzwang, we're told early on, is a deathly position in chess, in which a player is obliged to move but every move only makes his position even worse.  Otto Spethmann is a Freudian psychoanalyst in St Petersburg in 1914, and becomes implicated in a murder.  He is also preoccupied with two demanding patients; a society beauty with whom he is falling in love, and a chess master on the verge of a breakdown.  There is a thriller plot in the middle of the book somewhere, but the setting and the atmosphere at the time (including the antisemitism aimed at Spethmann and his fellow Jews) are more absorbing.  This does feel like a Russian novel in the tradition of Dostoevsky, even though it's written by an Irish guy.

Dancing with the uninvited guest, by J Wallis Martin.  London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2002.

Lyndle Hall in Northumbria is a decaying manor house surrounded by deep forest.  An eighteen-year-old girl who was staying there and the house's owner have disappeared, and the assumption is that they left together. But there is something extremely strange about both the house and one of its occupants, Nicholas Herrol, who seems to be being tormented by Something living there.  Is Nicholas mentally ill or is there something paranormal about the house?  Parapsychologist Audrah Sidow has come to believe that there is a rational explanation for everything, but this belief is seriously tested in the face of events at Lyndle.  This was unputdownable...

Breaking silence, by Linda Castillo.  London: Macmillan, 2011.

The third of the Kate Burkholder books.  Two Amish brothers and the older brother's wife are found drowned or gassed in the manure pit of their farm, leaving their four children orphaned.  Then a head wound is discovered on one of the bodies, and everything becomes less certain.  FBI agent John Tomasetti is again in Painters Mill investigating a spate of hate crimes against the Amish.  And, as with previous cases, everything has a tendency to get very personal for Kate.  Another really excellent book by Castillo.  Warning: these really need to be read in order as there's recapping of previous cases which would spoil previous books if they're read out of order!  And one tiny criticism is that the timeline within and between books seems to dart around all the time...  You're told someone's wife died three years ago, and then half a dozen pages later it's only a year ago...  and it's really unclear how long Kate has been in post and how long ago the previously the events in previous books happened.  An eagle-eyed editor should probably have spotted this!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

POTW: 20 May 2012

This is a new idea I've been kicking around - I like Pick of the Week on Radio 4 on a Sunday evening, and for the next few weeks life's going to be pretty busy, but I do like blogging.  So let's try this.  Some of the things I've liked this week...

I've been spinning up some lovely Shetland I bought at Fibre-East last year, from Sara's Texture Crafts.  The colour's called Bohemian.  I think it must have been quite a dark colour before it was dyed but the intensity of colour is lovely.  I haven't spun Shetland before, and found I couldn't do the stripping-down thing I usually do with top, so was spinning it up in much thicker chunks, which means I have longer runs of colour than usual.


Really glad I bought two packages of this... here's the other 100g...


 I think I have another plait of Shetland somewhere - it's quite addictive because it's sticky enough that I don't keep breaking the fibre as I normally do...

I have various secret-ish projects on the needles, in a variety of weights of yarn...  One I can show a bit of is a sideways knit jacket for Coral-from-IKnit's new baby.  I love the colours in this one...  For some reason I thought I could make this jacket seamless - I got to the end of the first sleeve and realised my mistake!  Anyway, all it needs is a bit of a press, a couple of buttons and a matching hat...


I also have a finished object I can now share - Katie White's lovely Willow River pattern has come out and is available for download.  I knitted it in Sparkleduck's Genie yarn, which is what it was written for...  It's really cleverly constructed with a shaped border, picked up along the selvedge and then ribbed with short-rowing and a cabled edging which makes it easy to block along the long edge...



The cricket is on.  The weather's no better at Lord's than it is here, so the poor West Indies side are shivering away in the cold, but play is happening...  and the voices of Test Match Special (well, other than Geoffrey Boycott's, anyway) make me smile.  Blowers has located his first pigeon and first crane of the season; all's right with the world.

In other sporting-and-knitting-crossover news, the Woolsack project, part of the Cultural Olympiad, has been having no end of difficulty with LOCOG and its corporate sponsors.  There was actually an article in Private Eye this week about their travails, and this great blog post which summarises the difficulties.  The Woolsack organisers are made of sterner stuff though, and have found alternative distribution channels.  And I've just seen a post that Usain Bolt has been alerted to the project on Twitter by another Jamaican athlete...  let's hope the momentum builds...

Other media
Loved the cover of Private Eye this week.   As soon as I saw the dress, that was exactly what occurred to me, too.  And yes, they do use the line "I saw Goody Cameron with the devil..." in the accompanying article.

Great interview with Rhod Gilbert in this week's Standard  magazine.  Including:
"I was in my dressing room before the Teenage Cancer Trust gig recently when there was a knock at the door.  For a laugh, I just shouted 'Whoever that is can f*** right off... and bring me some red M&Ms and a good-looking sheep.'  Then I opened the door to a rather sheepish Roger Daltrey.  He said 'I'm really sorry to bother you but I just wanted to say thanks for being part of the show tonight.'  That was awkward."

Still catching up with The Bridge on the iPlayer; I really like the Danish detective...

If you're reading this on Sunday 20th, the Observer food monthly has some lovely British recipes for the Jubilee from famous chefs.

File under misc.
I did an Excel course this week at work - I'm not sure how relevant it's going to be at work just at the moment, but it's going to revolutionise my slightly obsessive stash-cataloguing and count of yarn knitted up...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

2012 books, #41-45

Below zero, by CJ Box.   London: Corvus, 2009.

If you've not started reading the CJ Box novels and intend to, look away now and go to the next review.  It's impossible to talk about this one without spoilers from of the earlier books.  OK.  Six years ago, Joe Pickett's foster daughter April was killed in an FBI standoff.  Now they're getting text messages from her. As Joe tries to investigate, he finds himself caught up in a current FBI investigation involving Chicago mobsters and twisted environmentalists.  Nobody can know about April, so Joe goes off on his own with the help of fugitive Nate Romanowski.  This is your typical CJ Box/Joe Pickett novel; the consistency is stunning.

Darkest fear, by Harlen Coben. London: Orion, 2003.

Myron Bolitar is a not-very-successful sports agent and former basketball player; out of the blue, his college girlfriend Emily comes to him to tell him her 14-year-old son desperately needs a bone-marrow transplant from a donor who has been identified but has vanished into thin air.  To seal Myron's commitment, she tells him that Jeremy is Myron's son, conceived the night before Emily's wedding to another man.  Myron starts to hunt down the donor with help from his friend and business partner Win, and quickly finds himself involved with both a very rich and corrupt family, and an FBI investigation.  One of the striking things about this book is the amount of comedy involved; the dialogue is good and snappy and the cast of characters is as absurd on occasion as a Stephanie Plumb novel.  It's also very moving, as Myron battles away to find the donor and save his son.  There are multiple twists and turns, several of which I really didn't foresee.  An excellent novel.

The burning soul, by John Connolly [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding.  Oxford: Isis, 2012.

A Charlie Parker book.  Randall Haight killed a 14-year-old girl when he was also a teenager; he served a sentence and built a new life in the small Maine town of Pastor's Bay, but now someone who knows about his past is tormenting him with anonymous messages.  Meanwhile, another 14-year-old girl has disappeared in the same town, and her family also has secrets to protect.  Charlie tries to fight his way through the multiple overlapping lies reaching back over decades, and eventually calls in his friends Angel and Louis to help him.  Somehow, although it was a reasonably enjoyable journey, this one didn't grab me; it's as well-crafted as Connolly's others, but if Harding hadn't been reading it, I'd probably have lost interest before the end.

Backseat saints, by Joshilyn Jackson.  New York: Hachette, 2011.

It was an airport gypsy who told me that I had to kill my husband.

This is definitely the darkest of Jackson's novels to date, and a companion to gods in Alabama, my second favourite novel ever.  Jackson describes the moment she decided to write the novel as a revelation of how Rose Mae Lolley got that way.  And Rose Mae's life is indeed very grim, up to and past the time she confronts Arlene Fleet in gods and becomes a catalyst for Arlene's journey home.  There's a lot of domestic violence in this book, and most of it is experienced by the narrator, which makes for a fairly hairy and depressing first half of the book.  As ever with Jackson, she does end on a hopeful note, but it's a hard old journey getting there.  I did enjoy this book, but reading it was like the weather recently - small bright intervals between lowering clouds and torrential rain.  I finished it in a branch of Byron on the Cut near Waterloo, and was using enough tissues that the waiter asked me what I was reading...

Talk to the hand: the utter bloody rudeness of everyday life [or six good reasons to stay home and bolt the door], by Lynne Truss. London: Profile, 2005.

What I liked about this book was its recognition that not all modern life is totally crap in comparison with the manners of previous centuries, alongside its castigation of rudeness in all its forms, from dropping litter to swearing 8-year-olds.  It is also, as you'd expect, extremely funny, and a lovely quick read.  So many of the situations are instantly recognisable, and I was slightly alarmed at quite how many things about what some people consider normal behaviour were also irritation points for me, too!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Wordsearch results and winners

So - here are the Wordsearch answers.  Thankyou so much to all the people who entered!

The fibres were
  • acrylic
  • alpaca
  • angora
  • bamboo
  • bison
  • camel
  • cashmere
  • cotton
  • hemp
  • linen
  • llama
  • mohair
  • nylon
  • rayon
  • silk
  • soy
  • tencel
  • wool
3 people got 18 answers, which was the target.  (I'd be really interested to find out what the other fibre-related words people found were!)  All 3 shall have prizes.  I was going to ask for lists, etc., but that just sounded overly suspicious for something which is, after all, a bit of fun.

I pulled names from a hat (well, actually, a yarn bowl) and pigwotflies was the winner of the sock yarn!  Bekki, I'll be in touch via Ravelry.  As I will with Stitched-together and dawn9163 - you've both won a set of stitch-markers, so I'll PM you to get an address...