Movie Review: “Breaking Dawn, Part 1”

My daughter convinced me to read the Twilight books a couple of years ago. She loves them so much; it seemed like the thing to do. I raced through them in a weekend and felt a little sick afterwards, but my Sassy was happy. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last several months, the latest movie based on the books came out this weekend.
Sassy has seen every movie with a group of friends, but they couldn’t get their acts together this time, so it wasn’t going to happen. She was very sad, so I offered to take her and our exchange student to see a matinee today. They both jumped at the chance (and sang all the way to the theater to my utter annoyance).
As I expected, it was AWFUL. Seriously, the acting was wooden, the dialogue insipid, and the pacing agonizingly slow. I was gratified to find that every time I rolled my eyes, I could hear Sassy giggling. At least we were on the same page about that. The scenery, however, was amazing – what can you do to screw up the Pacific Northwest? Also, the shirtless boys – pretty gorgeous.
One last thing, the dress. SPOILER ALERT – the vamp and the human get married in this movie. You’d think they could have gotten at least a gorgeous dress for this occasion. They did not. Panels, seams, buttons, lace…all the pieces were there, but the final product looked like what my 5-year-old used to do with tissues and tape – puckered and painful. Not what I expected at all.
Two hearty thumbs down for this movie. Wait for Netflix if you really feel the need.

(I’ve edited to add the picture of the dress. While it may not be apparent in the still picture, the panel in the front is unfortunately places. Just odd.)

Coco Delilah

Have you seen a Lexie Barnes bag up close? They’re magnificent. She makes the most gorgeous, most functional bags ever. Well, she did. She recently stopped making bags. I had always anticipated buying a Coco (the bag she made for holding circular knitting needles). A few weeks ago a friend told me that she’s no longer making them and I panicked. I went online and managed to find one that someone was getting rid of. I shipped her the $$ that day and waited.

It’s been 3 weeks and I was getting a little nervous. I figured I wait to see what came in the mail today and hoped my bag was there. 

In anticipation of Thanksgiving, my girls and I started the fall house keeping today. In the entry way, there’s a bench that becomes the collection point of everything that we carry into the house. Shoes, boots, gloves, backpacks, coats, etc. – it all gets dropped here. That was where we started our attack. I picked up the top layer and came upon what looked like a Coco bag. I picked it up and said, “What’s this?”

My daughter said, “I don’t know.”

Henriette said, “I’ve never seen it before.”

I whirled on both of them and said, “Neither of you put this here?” They shook their heads.

I walked out the door, across the yard, and over to my mother-in-law’s house. She has a labrador retriever who’s known to chew things up (most recently the top of a styrofoam cooler belonging to my dad). I slapped the bag on her counter and said, “This was something I ordered 3 weeks ago that I just found in my house.”

“Well, it clearly looks like a dog chewed it up, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before,” she said.

I told her the girls hadn’t ever seen it before, but it was on the bench IN MY HOUSE.

She had the temerity to say, “When might this have been? I may have put it there, but I really don’t remember.”

I came back home and cried. Then I called my husband (in Florida) and yelled at him for a few minutes.

It’s not the end of the world. But here’s the thing, I don’t have a whole lot of money to be throwing around and I was so lucky to find this case and so happy to have a treat for myself.

People wonder why I don’t like dogs. This is it.

Holiday Shopping

We have an exchange student staying with us this year. She’s a lovely girl and has settled into our family nicely. Here’s my dilemma, what do I get the kid for Christmas? I want to give her something similar to what I would give my own kids, but honestly I haven’t known her for that long.

Sassy’s getting an iPod – will it cause hurt feelings if I get the same thing for our student? Little Big Man doesn’t want an iPod (he usually wants $$$). I think gift cards are fine for filling in or as stocking stuffers, but they’re a little impersonal. When I ask her what she’d like, she says, “Oh, it’s enough that you choosed me to stay with you. I don’t need any gifts.” Not helpful.

Has anyone else had a student they’ve had to buy for? Any suggestions?

Book Review – “The Hypnotist”

The Hypnotist, Lars Kepler (audio)
originally published: 2009
translated from Swedish: June 2011
finished: 16 November 2011

I loved the Stieg Larsson books. Enjoyed reading them, enjoyed the movies – all of it. When a friend of mine suggested that I read this one (listen really) I jumped at the chance. I was hoping to get another great Swedish mystery that would keep me hanging to the very last page. What I’m left with is the same sort of feeling I get when I eat too many cookies. Slightly sick to my stomach and disbelief that I finished all of them.

I hated most of the characters in this book. The main one, Joona Linna, who is the police officer at the center of it, was at least palatable. No so for everyone else. Each member of the family featured is self-centered and whiney beyond redemption. The wife is ridiculously shrill, the husband is a pill-popping narcissist, and the teenage son is overly dramatic and spoiled. By the end I was hoping the bad guys would get them all.

Why did I finish? The bones of the story were good, although I did figure out “who done it” long before the big reveal. I was also trapped in the “maybe it will get better” vortex. I kept thinking, “everyone likes it so much, it must get good”. Wrong.

Don’t waste your time. I listened to it on my commute into work, so I don’t feel too bad. If I had actually bought the book and spent time reading it, I would have felt very cheated. I don’t even like Joona enough to want to listen to the next one. 

Erica/Jillian Yarn

My friend Erica makes the best yarn. She has a great color sense and blends colors on the fly. She puts things together that I never would, and they look fabulous. My friend Jillian set out to do what Erica does. She watched Erica spin and watched how she put colors together and figured out a way to explain it to me so I could do it too.

I have a stash of fiber that’s so special to me that I can’t bring myself to spin it. It’s called the Box of Love ™. I knew that to try this technique, I had to spin something I really, really loved – so into the BoL I went. My friend Lynne Vogel doesn’t dye too much anymore, so her braids are almost sacred. They make gorgeous yarn, but they’re so precious that I’ve had a hard time parting with them. I had 3 oz each of Blue Jean Baby and an unnamed green colorway in 75% BFL and 25% tussah silk – dreamy. I knew these were the ones.

Lynne Vogel Ltd – Blue Jean Baby

Lynne Vogel Ltd – unnamed greens

You pick 2 colorways that have at least one color in common. It’s kind of hard to see (because my camera is dying) but there’s an ice blue that is common to both of these. Then the trick is to strip the top down and hold a piece of each colorway while spinning. I spun a pretty thin single, knowing that I would ply it. The picture of the single below is blurry, but you get a good idea of the way the colors blend together almost giving a barber pole effect in a single.

Blurry single still on the bobbin

When you ply the 2 singles together the colors blend and swirl like an Impressionist painting (gorgeous even though I say it myself).

2-ply in the skein after washing

end weight: 5.9 oz
wpi: 12
fiber: 75% blue faced leicester/25% tussah silk

Fiber Festivals 2012

Here’s the list of festivals I want to do next year:
January 28
Winter Wine & Wool, Jackson, Michigan
May 19
Michigan Fiber Fiesta, Greenville, Michigan
July 28-29
Castle Farms Fiber Festival, Charlevoix, Michigan
August 17-19
Michigan Fiber Festival, Allegan, Michigan
September 29-30
Northern Michigan Lamb & Wool, West Branch, Michigan
October 27-28
Fiber Expo, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I’ve applied and been accepted to Winter Wine & Wool and Northern Michigan. I will be applying before the end of the year to every place else. Castle Farms is already wait listing vendors so I’ll be hoping someone has to back out of their commitment for that one.

It’s an ambitious list. I’m hopeful that if I commit early, I’ll gain momentum. Next up, signage.

Book Review: “The House at Sea’s End”

The House at Sea’s End (Ruth Galloway #3), Elly Griffiths
originally published: 10 January 2012 (I read a review copy)
finished: 11 November 2011

The third in Ruth Galloway book is a wonderful addition to the series. There are several things I love about these books: the setting (bleak English coast), Ruth’s job (forensic anthropology), and the characters. They are regular human beings – no one is a super hero – they could be the people you see on the bus every morning, just going about their lives.

In this installment, Ruth is back from maternity leave and is juggling her feelings about new motherhood with going back to teaching and catching a new case. Griffiths neatly ties what’s going on to a previous point in Ruth’s past – giving us a little insight into Ruth’s present. I found the story line that ties back to World War II very interesting. Clearly the war is still on the minds of many Brits – much more than for Americans. There are some twists and turns, and I can never figure out who the criminal is, but it was a good ride.

Griffiths is getting better and better at telling her stories. While I object to the way she constantly lets us know that Ruth is fat and feels badly about it, it’s clear that she does care about her main character. The other characters are developing as well. I hope Cathbad continues to show up, he’s great comic relief in his flowing cape. Well worth the time spent reading and I’m looking forward to Ruth’s next adventure.

Art in the Park

I’ve done this show since its beginning. My friend Kate Kehoe organizes it and the table fee is basically a fund raiser for the senior center where the show is held. She does one in the fall and one in the spring. Every show I wait and wait to see if I want to spend the table fee to get myself in. Every time I miss the deadline and Kate drops me an e-mail, “Are you interested? You’ve got a table if you want one!” So I send in my table fee. My proceeds from the spring show barely covered the table fee and gas to get over there (it’s about 40 minutes from my house). 

With a sense of impending doom this morning, I got the girls up, we packed the car, and drove over there. We were an hour early – for some reason I thought it started at 10! We drank some bad hot chocolate and ate some bad donuts and muffins to kill a little time before we could set up. I was annoyed and irritated at every little thing and I think it was because we had done all this work and I wasn’t expecting anything from the show. I always say, “even if it’s a bad show, I get to spin for a whole day, uninterrupted and that’s good enough”. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s not enough. The time spent to dye and package all my wares, hauling it all over and setting up a booth in addition to smiling and being pleasant for an entire day is kind of a lot of work. Pleasant isn’t really my nature and I’m quite solitary so making small talk (with other vendors as well as customers) is hard for me. 

Turns out, it was worth it. I took Erica’s advice and made sure to greet everyone and actually talk to them. I looked for something to compliment (great sweaters, cool boots, interesting necklace), asked if they were knitters and/or spinners, told them they couldn’t just look – they had to touch, etc. It was fun – if I can make a sort of game out of it I enjoy it a lot more. Now, while my fellow vendors were my best customers, I did manage to sell a couple of skeins of handspun and that ALWAYS makes me happy. I managed to make back the booth fee, buy a tank of gas, and have $$ left over!

I do like doing this show. It’s in a very supportive neighborhood, my sister always brings me a latte, and the other vendors are amazing. However, this is one of the shows that I have to think about really hard for 2012. Is it really worth my time and effort if I’m aiming to do larger shows? I love supporting Kate and the seniors, but how valuable is it for me?

Fiber Shows

I’ve been doing a couple of small shows for the last couple of years. I didn’t start dyeing because I’d make a lot of money. I started dyeing because I love the colors, so small shows have suited me fine. As long as I made my costs back, I was happy.

 This last August I did what was recommended as a good show. It wasn’t. Something good did come out of it, however. It was a multi-day show and I asked a friend to come and booth sit with me. She’s a graphic artist and works in marketing. As the show was slow, we had a lot of time to chat. She gave me tons to think about regarding future shows, marketing, what my booth looks like, and how I react to customers.

 Here’s the tip of the iceberg of what I need ASAP:

  1. Signage (seriously – I have no signs) 
  2. Table coverings that match (and don’t look like I got them from a flea market) 
  3. A booth layout (a designed plan for a 10×10 space) 
  4. A show plan that includes how many and which shows I want to do 
  5. An inventory plan (including fiber bases and colorways) 

 Future needs include:

  1. A long term business plan 
  2. New camera to take better pictures 

Some of these things will be easy (and even fun) to do. Others will require some soul searching and hard work. I think I’m ready for it. Nothing makes me happier than splashing dye, except maybe when people come to my booth especially to show me what they’ve made from the fiber they bought last time. That’s great fun!

(Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger these days? It’s being very wonky and not letting me format on a consistent basis.)