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.

15 thoughts on “Legwarmers started and book reviews!

  1. Those legwarmers look so soft and cozy! I love my harmony DPNs, too =)
    Thanks so much for the book reviews! I’m definitely checking out Inside the Victorian Home. I love books like that, but I’ve never heard of this one.
    The Thirteenth Tale and Lies my Teacher Told me I have heard of, but I’m the same as you: I will refuse to read a book if it’s “too popular”. Kind of silly, I guess =) But now I want to give these a try. Thanks!

  2. This is seriously weird. I just cast on for legwarmers and recently finished the Thirteenth Tale. Love those gothic stories. I’m kind of mystified by how legwarmers are so popular again, but with the new boots I just bought, I think they’ll be a necessity.

  3. They do indeed look lovely and snug! I find my calves are too chunky to pull off wearing legwarmers – I look to omuch like Ms Michelin Man!

    Thanks muchly for the book reviews! I’m very excited about several of them and will hunt themout at my library over Chrissie 🙂 Just what I need – some good holiday reading!

  4. Jane Eyre is my favorite book, too. I first read it when I was 16 and I reread it every ten years. I’ve read it four times. I get something new out of it each time!

  5. ‘I Capture the Castle’ is one of my favourite books. The film’s not bad too, and full of beautiful handknitted period cardigans.

  6. Hi,
    If you like I Capture the Castle, you might enjoy The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice – it’s from the same era and is about a friendship between two girls as they grow up. And of course, Love in the Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford.
    Happy reading and get well soon

  7. My dog is the same. I was laid up yesterday withy the flu and he wanted SO much attention – kept coming up to me with a quizzical look and putting his paw in my lap.
    I have the Graveyard Book awaiting my attention, but think I might gift it to my teenaged son first – I can read it after him!

  8. Thank you for the book reviews! I’m always looking for new books to read and I’m usually a bit picky but your picks are right up my alley (I’m a big fan of period books, like Jane Eyre). I work at a library so I shouldn’t have too difficult a time finding them. 🙂

    Your legwarmers look deliciously cozy and your kitty looks like a fuzzy little carpet slug! You must put that picture on lolcats if you haven’t already.

  9. Wow, but we have similar taste in books. I’ve read and loved the first three, and have been wanting to read the fourth. Loving Jane Eyre and gothic fiction, have you read Lady Audley’s Secret? Fantastic piece of Victorian “sensation fiction” by Mary Elizabeth Braddon I think you would like.

  10. Thanks for the book reviews. I also think that book on Victorian Homes looks really interesting.

    My eleven year old son told me Coraline was the creepiest book he’d ever read and it gave him nightmares. I have to read it. I can’t even begin to imagine what could scare him, considering the literally thousands of books that child has read, including Dracula, Kidnapped, and An Inconvenient Truth (any of which I would expect to generate more fear than a book about a little girl).

  11. It’s really not strange that your cat becomes more clingy when you’re sick, tired, or having a fight with someone, because cats are very sensitive to people’s moods. Trying to get your attention when you’re in a negative mood means she cares for you and tries to make you feel better. So it’s actually very sweet, especially considering that she is not a very affectionate cat in nature. She really does care for you. 🙂

  12. I loved the Thirteenth Tale so much I recommended it to my book club (haven’t discussed it yet). I would recommend The shadow of the Wind…Gothic story dealing with rare books in beautiful Barcelona, you’ll love it.

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