books · crafts · knitting · Life

Legwarmers started and book reviews!

I’m sick again this week… icky, but at least I will be well for Christmas (I have a fear of being ill when I have so many singing gigs.)  Dionne shares my sadness.

We both feel like this

We refer to Dionne as the “bad energy vampire.”  She isn’t a snuggly cat in general – in fact, the only time she usually wants attention is when you are either yelling or crying or really sick.  You could be in the middle of a fight and suddenly find a cat, desperate for attention, in your lap, and she will not leave. It’s cute, really, but it’s also really strange.

The legwarmers are going well, and aren’t too boring.  I got 6 inches out of one episode of Fringe, minus commercials, so I don’t think these are going to take as long as I feared.  I’m really glad though that I knit continental… I can’t imagine how 1×1 ribbing would kill the other way!

I frogged my sleeve for Vaila and restarted… my gauge in regular stockinette was just too large, and the sleeve was going to be huge.  So… back to purling for me!  Have I mentioned how much I love the knitpicks Harmony DPNs?  Seriously… I could never stand to knit on larger DPNs because I hated the bamboo, but these are so much nicer because the yarn doesn’t stick to them.  I am getting some laddering, which is unusual for me, but I’ve decided to just go with it.  I am not alternating skeins anymore for the sleeves, since I don’t think it matters for the small diameter, and since this color of malabrigo in general is not too variegated.

Finally, I’m reviving a blog feature where I talk about my other love… books. Lately I’ve been very into victorian and gothic novels, but I branch out into nonfiction sometimes as well!

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Apparently this is something of a classic, but I had never read it.  It’s the story of a family living in genteel poverty in an old English castle.  Their lives are changed when new neighbors move into the manor house nearby.  I would imagine that when I was a teenager I would have adored this book, and I love it still.  The main character is wonderful, and the ending manages to not be too treacly without being sad.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This book was very popular when it came out, and I am enough of a snob that I had avoided it on that basis.  It kept coming up recommended for me though, and my library had several copies.  I will tell you off the bat that my favorite book is Jane Eyre, and so I simply loved this book. I am a sucker for a good gothic thriller, and this was a wonderful one. I also loved the main character’s musings about books – so similar to the way I think many of us feel about them. I did not guess the twist at the end, and I was interested to the very end to find out more. Highly recommended.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I have a love/hate relationship with Gaiman’s novels.  On one hand he has written some of my favorites (Anansi Boys, Coraline) but I have been very disappointed in others (American Gods, Neverwhere.)  I loved this one.  It’s young adult, but don’t let that stop you!  It’s the unusual tale of a young boy, who is orphaned and then adopted by the citizens of a village graveyard.  It sounds macabre, but really it’s a sweet story, with excellent illustrations.

Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders

The subject matter – the inner workings of middle class victorian households – might seem dull at first glance.  I, however, found it fascinating.  The author focuses on one room per chapter (kitchen, parlour, drawing room etc) and indeed talks about the rooms and their decor/purpose, but she also uses each room to explain a different aspect of victorian life – for instance, in the bedroom we get victorian attitudes toward birth and death, and in the kitchen we learn a great deal about the lives of servants.  There are fascinating charts, such as one explaining the complicated rules governing the wearing of mourning after a death.  This is easily the best book I have read on the subject, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the victorians or victorian homes.  It’s a surprisingly easy read for the subject matter.

Lies my Teacher Told me by James W. Loewen

This book was not what I was expecting.  I thought it would be one of those fun “misinformation in history” books.  It did contain some of that, for instance, pointing out that history texts ignore the adult life of Helen Keller because of her socialist associations.  What I found fascinating though was the idea that our society can be shaped by the way our history is taught, and how we as a nation are presented.  The book posits that our history textbooks discourage critical thinking, and that they present a view of our history that is free of errors in judgement (and certainly, like any nation, we have had many.)  Sometimes it does seem a little outdated (for instance, I was not taught that everyone but Columbus believed the world was flat) but I thought it was a very interesting read, and it caused me to evaluate where my own viewpoints come from.