Knit 365 – Day 1

I’ve been casting around for a 365 project. What to do? What to do? Turns out, I didn’t really need to try so hard.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been challenging myself to peel an orange in one piece. I think I’m up to something like 15 or 16 days at this point. (bear with me for a minute here, I do have a point). So we’re all sitting at lunch today and my friend Sarah was sitting next to me, doing what she does … peel the label off her Sobe Lifewater. Usually, she pulls it off in giant chunks. Today, she peeled it off in a thin ribbon. I looked at it and immediately “I could knit that” sprang into my brain. I think she was surprised to hear the wheels in my brain spinning so loudly.
365:1 – Sobe Lifewater yarn on plastic knives

I picked up a couple of knives that were sitting on the table and cast on. It took maybe 5 minutes and it was a blast. The result –>


The three of them (June, Lucy, and Sarah) were all excited. We started talking about all the cool things waiting to be knit. June snapped a picture of day 1 with her phone and started a list of possible material to use. It was one of those spontaneous brainstorming moments where we were talking too fast to capture everything.

Therefore, my 365 project will be something knitted every day. I can hear Erica saying, “But, but, but, you already knit something every day.” And she’s right. What makes this different is that I’ll be using something unusual for either the “yarn” or the “needle” part of the equation.


If you have suggestions, I’ll gladly take them. I’ve previously written that I didn’t want to take on a project because I was afraid I’d run out of ideas. This is going to be a challenge – but I already love to knit, what could be better?

12 Shawls in 2012 – 22.5 Degrees Shawlette

I finished this bad girl back in January and just haven’t had a chance to post it. The pictures are dark, but the yarn is very dark and it’s hard to get a good picture of the actual shawl. I had a co-worker take pictures and he got this good one of me wearing it.

It’s a simple garter stitch shawl but look at those little scallops on the edges! They’re a little fiddly and I cursed them while I was making them, but they’re adorable once they’re finished.

This is a gentle sloping shawlette that is incredibly warm. I’ve discovered that if I keep something wrapped around my neck, I stay a lot warmer. It probably hasn’t hurt that we’ve had the mildest winter ever (not that I’m complaining).

22.5 Degrees Shawlette, designed by Martina Behm
The designer, Martina Behm, has a lot of great designs that are in my queue over on Ravelry. They’re simple, but lovely (Hitchhiker is the highest on my list right now.) You’re going to need to sign into Ravelry to get to those links (if you don’t have an account – get one now).

The Schaefer Anne is lovely to work with. I used my Addie Turbos and the yarn slid like a breeze. (The bamboo needles I started with were quickly traded out.) The mohair makes me itch a little bit. If I the shawl on outside of my fleece or jacket, the itching lessens.

A quick knit and I get tons of compliments when I wear it.

Pattern: 22.5 Degrees (free pattern!)
Designer: Martina Behm

Yarn: Schaefer Yarn Company, Anne (60% merino wool, 25% mohair, 15% nylon)

Colorway: burgundy/green/black

Yardage: ~500 yards

Time to knit: 8 days

Book Review: I’d Know You Anywhere

I’d Know You Anywhere, Laura Lippman
originally published: August 2010
finished reading: 7 March 2012
cost: $7 (paperback swap)

I think if Laura Lippman wrote the phone book, it would be interesting and I would read it. I find her words so easy to read and the stories she tells so evocative that I find myself wishing she would either write faster or drop by so we could sit on my deck, drink beer, and talk.

I’d Know You Anywhere is creepy. The premise of the story is a serial killer who contacts the only victim he left alive many years after their encounter. Lippman slips back and forth in time to tell the story of the kidnapping and the story of the present day. Sometimes I find being dragged back and forth annoying – in this book it is not jarring, but a natural outgrowth of the story itself.

While I didn’t find the protagonist endearing (she’s a little uptight for my tastes), I did sympathize with her. She has managed to rebuild her life and move on and Walter (the serial killer) contacts her because he needs her. The arc of the story isn’t difficult to figure out, but what happens on the way to the conclusion is deftly written and managed to keep me interested until the very end.

Read it and if you haven’t already, go back and read everything else Laura Lippman has written. You won’t be disappointed.

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Can someone explain to me how to use that stupid schedule feature on Blogger? I wrote a bunch of posts and “scheduled” them to be published and they sat in the draft folder until I came back here to publish them. Either I don’t understand “schedule” or Blogger doesn’t…

Book Review: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler
originally published: April 2008
finished reading: 5 March 2012
cost: $14 (paperback swap trade)

I love Jane Austen fan fiction. I’m not one of those purists (like my daughter) who think the only story is the way Jane wrote it. This particular story is one in which the 21st century heroine wakes up suddenly in the body of an Austen contemporary. She keeps trying to figure out why she is where she is and is vaguely interested in getting back to her own time.

The descriptions of the life she’s found herself in are quite good. Who thinks about deodorant or the politics of bathing every day when they think about how lovely it would be to swan around a ballroom with Mr. Darcy? Rigler was spot on with the manners and decorum of the Regency era. I also loved her take on “shopping” – how many bolts of fabric can one look at when you get the same dress every time anyway?!

Where Confessions falls down for me are the constant thoughts about the life Courtney left behind. She’s just broken up with her fiance after discovering he was cheating on her. Not only does she obsess about the way she handled the situation, she obsesses about the way she treated the fiance’s best friend. Fish or cut bait, grrl! And in a book where the main character essentially time travels, I suppose it’s truculent to point out the fortune teller’s description of why she’s traveled is nonsense (time bends, time moves, we are all in the same time while we are all in different times).

This is a quick read and has some merit, but only read it if it falls in your lap. Don’t go looking for it.

Book Review: Things I’ve Been Silent About

Things I’ve Been Silent About: Memories of a Prodigal Daughter, Azar Nafisi
originally published: 2008
finished reading: 22 February 2012
cost: $20 (paperback swap)

This book took me forever to finish. I’m not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it. I remember the Iranian revolution. I was in junior high and high school when the Americans were taken hostage and held in the embassy and I clearly remember the events as they were happening. I guess I wanted an idea of what it was like from someone who was actually there.

Nafisi is the pampered daughter of two people who were both well connected. Her father was an advisor to the Shah and her mother eventually became part of the political machine. This book is the story of their lives, filtered through Nafisi’s eyes.

The book could have been fascinating. The impression that it left me with was that of a spoiled princess who loved her father more than she loved her mother and did what she could to break free of them. I didn’t get a sense of what happened to regular Iranian citizens during the time of the revolution, because Nafisi isn’t one of them.

This book is not a broad description of what life in Iran was like before and during the revolution. It is one small slice of one family.

Book Review: 365: A Daily Creativity Journal

365: A Daily Creativity Journal: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life!, Noah Scalin
originally published: December 2010
finished reading: 20 February 2012
cost: $10.36 (e-book purchased with a gift card)

The idea of doing a 365 project intrigues me. At the same time, it terrifies me. I keep inching closer to the thought of committing to creating something every day for an entire year. Can I do it? Yes. Will I do it? I don’t know. Every time I get close to thinking I’m going to start, something urges caution and I delay again. I’m afraid of getting lazy or bored or distracted.

Scalin’s 365 project was skulls. He created some brilliant art work – a giant snow skull, a skull involving ketchup and mustard bottles, sushi – they’re amazing! This book is meant to spark ideas for every day of the year. Many of them sparked in my head while reading and I can see returning to the book over and over to get re-sparked. His blog featuring his 365 skull art is incredible to scroll through.

His other blog, Make Something 365 is, by turns, intimidating and inspiring. He has done interviews with people who are just starting out on their 365 journeys and he features interviews with people who’ve completed. It’s an incredible mix of art (photos, drawings, one guy is listening to a Billy Joel song every day and writing a review about it). I scroll through and think to myself, “that’s a GREAT idea – why didn’t I think of that?” or “my idea is crap compared to this one” or “I could totally do a 365 project!”

I’m gathering ideas and courage to start my own 365 journey. This part of it has been fun. I can imagine that the project itself will be fun too. I just need to get moving.

Book Review: A Red Herring Without Mustard

originally published: February 2011
finished reading (listening): 20 February 2012
cost: $25 (audio – Jillian’s library)

I love Flavia de Luce. I am amazed every time that Alan Bradley gets her voice so right She is a charming, eccentric pre-teen and I can empathize with her father about having to deal with her quirks while dealing with her older sisters and the gradual decline of the family fortune.

I will admit I had a hard time keeping up with all the changes in this story. For some reason, when I listen to the audio versions of books I never get as deeply into the story as when I see the words. Plus, I usually listen when I’m on the bus – so 25 minute snippets at a time – it’s hard to keep up when you can’t flip the pages back and forth.

All that aside, this was another refreshing romp through Buckshaw, Flavia’s lab, and the surrounding countryside. Looking forward to the next installment.

Book Review – The Last Romanov

The Last Romanov, Dara Levy Mossanen
originally published: April 2012
finished reading: 11 February 2012
cost: $10 (review copy)


I have a fascination with the Russian royal family. The tragedy surrounding their deaths has always fascinated me and I’ve read a lot of what’s been published, novels as well as histories/biographies. I was excited to see this one – a story I’m familiar with told from a different perspective sucks me in every time. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend this book.


The piece Mossanen adds to the story is a woman from the fringe. Her parents were friends of the Romanovs, but of course not of their social standing. When Darya becomes an orphan, she is brought to the palace to look after the Tsarevitch. What follows is a descent into mysticism, as if there wasn’t enough of that in the real Romanov palaces. 


I didn’t buy it. I didn’t believe that Darya’s powers came from the ambergris. I didn’t believe she would stay in the same city where her beloved royal family was murdered. I didn’t believe she would pine for her lost love (like some Russian Miss Havisham) for decades. 


I can’t tell you why I finished it. I think on some level I keep wanting the end of the story to be different. This book was unsatisfying on almost every level for me.

Book Review: Love is the Thread

Love is the Thread: A Knitting Friendship, Leslie Moise, PhD
originally published: December 2011
finished reading: 5 February 2012
cost: $19 (review copy)



I am not a touchy-feeling kind of person. I have a small group of wonderful friends and I’d drop anything at a moment’s notice to do for them (and they’d do the same for me). Love is the Thread is the story of such a friendship. 


Moise takes the reader on a journey through this wonderful relationship from its beginning to its end and beyond. It is a celebration of her friend’s life and their connection over many years. I tend to be a little skeptical of this sort of book. Sometimes people write in order to give themselves a pulpit from which to lecture the rest of us. Moise manages to describe her friend in the most loving way possible – without making me feel lacking in some way. The book is new-agey without being cloying or preachy. It is a gentle read and was exactly what I needed to get through my mid-winter duldrums.