Minions, Deer, and Elephant Socks

My last knitting update was back at the end of January, which seems like a really long time ago, but in reality it isn’t. I have finished a few things since then so thought I would share them with you. I usually share them once they’re finished, but I had a couple of birthday presents in the mix so thought I would wait until they had been given out before blogging about them.

I guess the first thing that I want to show is something that I didn’t actually finish. I wanted to learn Double Knitting, which is an interesting technique in itself and was interesting to learn, but I couldn’t stick with the pattern. In this case I think it was a combination of using the wrong type of yarn and the wrong size needles. Also the charts I was reading from were pretty small which made things a bit difficult.

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With this one, which was supposed to be a scarf, I decided to complete the deer section, and work a couple of blank rows and then cast off. If there’s something that I’ve learned it’s to not stick with a project that you know isn’t going well, or that you aren’t enjoying. This was just one of those. The end result was okay looking, but I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with this square that’s left.

In other news, I made a friend a minion iPad cover during February for her birthday. This was a really easy pattern to follow, from the designer of the minion toys that I was making some time ago. I was concerned that it wouldn’t be big enough, but when I measured it it was actually quite roomy. This knit made me really happy actually, and was the reason I definitely decided to not continue with the deer double knitting scarf. IMG_0851
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Lastly, I remade my “Water for the Elephants” socks, the first pair I made back in October were too small for my Mum, so I decided after the failure of the above mentioned scarf, I would make these as I knew that I would be able to make these without a problem. I used some Hobbycraft Smooth and Silky, Women’s Institute yarn, in a sport weight rather than sock weight yarn. This meant that the socks grew much quicker. The only downside was that because the yarn was bigger I couldn’t fully complete the pattern on the foot, so it ends a little abruptly. But I’m really happy with the result, and Mum loves them too. She said that they keep her feet nice and toasty warm, which is certainly a plus!
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Before I sign off this blog for the day, I wanted to give you a sneak peak of the yarn I’m using for my next project:

This is CountessAblaze yarn, in the colour way “Nerds Prefer Their Rainbows Darker”. It’s beautiful. I am making an Elder Tree Shawl, and would love to take a picture, but it doesn’t look like much at the moment.
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I shall update soon about this project!

What are you making at the moment?

Kialtho

Paradigm – Ceri A. Lowe

This is one of those books that appealed to me from the very beginning, and I was very much stalking the bookstore when the release date came and went, and to my disappointment it just didn’t seem to be stocked over here, which immediately made me assume that it was American. Imagine my surprise to read British English spellings, and that it’s based in a post- apocalyptic London.


Synopsis:

What if the end of the world was just the beginning?

Alice Davenport awakens from a fever to find her mother gone and the city she lives in ravaged by storms – with few survivors.

When Alice is finally rescued, she is taken to a huge underground bunker owned by the mysterious Paradigm Industries. As the storms worsen, the hatches close.

87 years later, amidst the ruins of London, the survivors of the Storms have reinvented society. The Model maintains a perfect balance – with inhabitants routinely frozen until they are needed by the Industry.

Fifteen-year-old Carter Warren knows his time has come. Awoken from the catacombs as a contender for the role of Controller General, it is his destiny to succeed – where his parents failed.

But Carter soon discovers that the world has changed, in ways that make him begin to question everything that he believes in. As Carter is forced to fight for those he loves and even for his life, it seems that the key to the future lies in the secrets of the past…

In this novel we are introduced with two very different characters, in two very different times. Alice Davenport is a just 11 or 12 when we first meet her, forgotten about in society with a prostitute for a mother and neglect in her life. Carter Warren is a teenager groomed for great things, so long as he can prove himself. Linked in these two stories are the storms that have devastated the world, and the society that Alice Davenport sets up, the one that Carter Warren lives in.

There is a lot of unexplored ideas – that we maybe introduced to later on – such as the cryogenics – if your skills aren’t needed in society then you go into the big freeze. We have Carter Warren, parentless – and I was convinced throughout this novel that this was going to follow the formula of dead parents are really alive, but that wasn’t the case… and that was good.

In the years between Carter Warren being frozen and being awake something has happened in this perfect post-devastation society that has the leaders upping the security. Arts and crafts, music, hobbies they don’t exist, they aren’t seen as necessary. It’s all about the Model, the perfect society and how everyone fits, works and produces in that society. It’s an interesting concept, and one that I found refreshing in a genre that seems to be littered with the same old story.

I did find that half way through the book the pace lagged a little, but it did pick up to the slightly predictable ending [which I shan’t spoil for you, should you decide to read this].

I’ve given this 4 stars on GoodReads, which I think is appropriate, although I did hover over the 3 star button as well. I look forward to reading  the next book in the series for sure!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Kialtho


 

For the first time in how many years I’ve been taking part in the GoodReads reading challenge I AM ON TARGET. This makes me very happy, so I had to share. 40 books doesn’t sound like much, but with the knitting, and full time work and just life in general, I don’t seem to have enough time for reading!

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The Colorado Kid – Stephen King

I’m sure that like many people, the reason that I chose to read this book is because the TV show “Haven” is [rather loosely] based on the book. Also, it’s been a while since I have read any Stephen King. Haven is a pretty decent TV show, and as with most things I’m pretty late to the game as I’m only at the end of series 2.

[I have no idea how this image relates to the novel AT ALL].
Synopsis:

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There’s no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues.

But that’s just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still…?

The synopsis is a fairly accurate description of what this book is about. It’s a very short story telling of a dead man on a beach in Maine, and the mystery of his identity, and of how he got to be there in the first place. There are just three main characters, Dave, Vince and Steffi, and it’s Dave and Vince telling the story of the dead man and why it’s such a mystery – and mystery that can’t/won’t be sold to a bigger news corporation/broadsheet because Dave and Vince say that they wouldn’t tell the whole mystery as there are too many variables… or something like that.

In all it was a great short story, and even though it’s something that seems to have divided readers, I liked the fact that the story didn’t have a revelation or the grand “whodunit” – I liked that, just in the premise of the book, there wasn’t some grand reveal and something that tied the whole story together in a neat little bow that explained absolutely everything – reflecting real life more than anything – perhaps that’s why people don’t relate to it or something?

I liked that I could relate Vince and Dave back to the TV show as well – and some of the places mentioned, like the Grey Gull for instance.

This is a really quick read – literally took me a few hours to get through, so if you have time time to spare and can actually get hold of the book, give it a read!

Kialtho

Poppy Lung – Alex Caird

So before I begin talking about the book, I just need to mention that I won this book in a GoodReads First Reads giveaway [thank you GoodReads!]. Also, I’d like to thank to author for signing the book as well, that’s a really nice touch :)



Poppy Lung is a children’s story, written and illustrated by Alex Caird:

This is the magical story of Poppy Lung, an inquisitive young girl full of questions and ideas who finds herself in the unusual position of being abducted by a giant crow. Delivered unceremoniously to a distant and other world, she discovers that her only hope of returning home is to find a mysterious prince who she is told can help her.

With little choice she sets off on a long journey where she meets the four elements as the ancients understood them: fire, water, earth and air, all represented by their corresponding animals. From each of them she starts to learn about their place within the world as well as her own. Her predicament soon becomes all the more urgent when she finds herself being pursued by a dark and menacing wind.

Poppy Lung is a homage to Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, as well as other fairy tales from the past but it is also very much its own story. Written with both older children and adults in mind, it is a tale of a young girl’s initiation into adulthood, the mysteries of nature and ultimately her awakening to the realisation of her own being.

Thoughts:

When we begin our story by meeting Poppy Lung, playing by herself in her Aunts back garden, immediately aware that she is orphaned and disliked by her cousins. She’s hanging from a tree and encounters a crow, which subsequently kidnaps her and takes her on a magical journey through the elements on a journey of self discovery, questioning everything from what animals are, what it means to be a human being, and who exactly is Poppy Lung? This is a whimsical tale of a girl escaping her surroundings that make a hard and sad life, and overcoming her own doubts of being to triumph over evil and complete her quest.

There have already been the analogies to the Lewis Carroll “Alice in Wonderland” stories, and for sure there is that element to this book as we travel across time and space to meet weird and fantastical, [and slightly annoying characters]. What I found more though, rather than being reminiscent of the Alice in Wonderland story, I was more reminded of a book called “Sophie’s World” [Jostein Gaarder] in which the main character is given a crash course on the philosophy of mankind, and in turn we question the philosophy of the world around us and challenge what we know.

In reading Poppy Lung I was reminded strongly of Plato’s Allegory of the The Cave. The world that Alex Caird presents us with, I felt, was the realm of the Forms, the image of the animals in their true Forms when the prisoner escapes the cave and see the world for what it really is, rather than the shadows made from the fire that are projected onto the side of the cave. When Poppy Lung talks to these creatures she wants to know more, she’s always questioning the creatures she comes across – and more often than not she doesn’t get an answer. This is Poppy’s escape from her Cave and into the land of the light, and the adventure that comes with it.

As we visit the different elements, which is another reference to the Greek philosophies I believe, we get a fairytale-esque stories each with a different lesson for Poppy Lung to learn, although this isn’t realised until the conclusion. Despite this though I felt as though the whole story is told in the same sort of voice, so each section wasn’t all that different to the one previous to it. I did enjoy the fairytales though, and I think that they were probably my favourite parts of each element.

A big part of the story is the poetry which is a nice addition to a children’s book, but for me personally I felt that there was far too much going on with this book, or at least… too much poetry. I have to admit after a while I skipped over most of the poetry sections mainly because, like the fairytales mentioned above, I felt that they were told in the same sort of style, and there was nothing really unique about them. [I apologise if that isn’t the case, and if that seems harsh, it’s just how I read them, when I read them].

The illustrations of Poppy’s adventures are pretty, and make for a nice break in the story telling. It’s awesome that these are drawn by the author as well – I think a lot of authors don’t tend to illustrate their own works, and I think adds something to the whimsical adventure over all.

This is a children’s story at it’s heart, but I have to admit, I’m not sure I would have been able to manage it if I was picking this up at the age of 11. Even as an adult I found it a little on the hard side to keep going as there was so much going on, I found it hard to keep up with the essence of the story. Also, I’m not sure I understood the ending, but I don’t want to write the part I don’t understand about incase it warrants some sort of massive spoiler alert. I don’t know.

Over all on GoodReads I have given this 3 of 5 stars, mainly because I’m sitting on the fence. I don’t know quite what happened, but I do know that I thought about my philosophy lessons and had a reminder of Plato and his Cave so perhaps this could be an introduction into philosophy for a younger generation?

Do you think that this is a book that you would read? Have you read it? What did you think?

Kialtho

Game: Assassin’s Creed

When I first made my blog is was about the subjects I was studying at university – it was a great revision tool as well. Then it became something more than that – I began writing about the books I was reading, the games I was playing and then the knitting and the creative things like the writing.

One thing that I haven’t written about in a very long time is games. I got a PS3 a while back [like a good few years] but haven’t really been into the gaming side of things really. I replayed all of the Tomb Raider games [the “remakes”], and the releases of Devil May Cry, some Lego games you know?

There’s been that advert that been showing up on my Facebook newsfeed for some clothes. The advert is for clothing from Assassin’s Creed… and to be honest they look awesome. I even ordered a hoody from the website in hope that it’s not some kind of scam, and that it’s of decent quality. It’s from this that I began to um and err about buying one of the games and seeing what it was about – I had decided to leave the buying of it a little while though as I wasn’t sure… then Alex came home with it for me instead!

If you check out this link you can find the hoodies I was talking about: http://assassinshoodies.com/ and if you decide you want a discount I was sent this link so you could get 10% off… http://oberlo.refr.cc/WVK3546 . When I get the hoody I’ll show you all and hopefully encourage the consumer in you haha!


Now me being me, and needing to read/play things in order, we have started with the first game… and what can I say?  It’s awesome. I’m annoyed that it’s something that I haven’t discovered sooner to be honest.

I’m not all that far through it so far but I can already say that I’m addicted. I’ve just completed the Damascus part – so really not that far into it. I know it was made some time ago now, but I think even the graphics have held out and look really awesome.

There was an amusing moment [okay, more than one] yesterday when I was playing some of it and  I had some friends round. The mission was to pickpocket someone – scope them out, stalk them, pickpocket. Simple enough. Not for me… I punched the guy in the face totally by accident, but it was so hilarious it bought tears to my eyes. I don’t think I’ve done another pickpocket mission since, I was too traumatised by my failure.

So I want to spend some time writing about the games I am playing here as well as my other hobbies, and hopefully become more involved in the gaming community – it’s something that was a big part of my life before so it’s time it was again. [I’ve spent most of my life involved with/obsessed with TETRIS… I even watched a documentary about the origins of the game, so yeah… dedication for you]. Also… I’m awesome at TETRIS so there.

I think in order to do this it would be good to get some things across about me and my games.

– My favourite game on PS2 is Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
– My favourite game franchise is Tomb Raider – a lot of my life has been around this series. The second one [Dagger of Xian] is my favourite in the series, but I really enjoyed the rebooted series with Natla – the last one was a bit on the rubbish side though. The reboot was great except that it made me feel motion sick with the wobbly screen effect.
– Devil May Cry: Let’s Rock.
– Little Big Planet. All of them. Love.
– Sonic. Has to be mentioned.
– GTA.

So, I guess the questions are: What are your favourite games? Favourite platforms?

Have you played Assassin’s Creed? If you have what did you think?

I’m sure that there’s plenty that I could talk about in this post but I want to leave it fairly introductory, let me know what you think!

Kialtho

The Book of Life – Deborah Harkness

The final foray into the world that Harkness has created, we step into the story where the last on left off… here’s the blurb courtesy of GoodReads:

Plot:

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

Thoughts:

I wish I liked this better, but when you throw a book down in rage on more than one occasion then it’s just not to be. We open with a completely and utterly unnecessary charater death that has literally no effect on the story line at all, except to make people sad. It was a wasted character from the start, and the reason that I think that this character existed in the first place was to prove how “with it” the author is with modern times. If this death had any bearing on the story maybe I would think differently about it, but I fail to see the importance of it in the first place.

Many of the things that were discussed in the first two books, such as setting up a “counter covenant” were completely forgotten about – again showing that despite the pages and pages of discussing these things, actually doing something with them was wasted, and therefore… what was the point in writing them in the first place.

One of the things that did particularly make me throw the book down in rage was the pop culture references. Maybe one would have been okay, but having three in quickly successive pages without having had, like, any in the previous two books, and then none again in the resulting book. Especially the “sparkly” reference, and then talking/referencing Mulder and Scully, just… no. [The other one was a Buffy reference].

In the world that Harkness has created there are four “species” within the world, human, vampire, witches and daemons. This would be okay if each species were treated equally in the story but that’s not the case; daemons are creative, vampires are the intelligent creatures that have endured and manipulated the centuries, witches have the magical powers and natural abilities… humans… have nothing. They are cast aside and forgotten about, and this annoyed me – they may as well not have existed in this world at all.

The plot itself was quite infuriating as well. The book was really slow to get going, and then rushed through the finale as though the author had forgotten that she was actually ending the story. There was a hint of further story to come, which I hope doesn’t materialise.

I think one of the reasons I stuck this out was because I just wanted to know how it ended, and considering my other half really enjoyed the storyline I wanted to see it through, but unfortunately I couldn’t see the bright side, just the irritation and for that reason I only gave this book two stars on GoodReads.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Kialtho

Shawl Collar Vest

I have so much to blog about – especially after what seems like a blog silence as well, but I don’t plan to talk about it all in this entry. Today I am going to write about my most recent knitting project, but I also have a blog in the works about my recent trip to Amsterdam which  I hope to post tomorrow.

Today I want to talk about the knitting project I was working on though, because it felt like I was working on it for the longest time! If anyone that reads this is a regular you’ll know that I’m a one project horse [I can’t imagine working on more than one project at a time, I think it would drive me insane trying to pick up where I left off and wondering what I was working on].IMG_0835

This morning I put the finishing touches on my Shawl Collar Vest. This was a really easy and stylish knit, one that I’m very happy with. The photo’s, as usual, don’t seem to do the colour any justice, the purple is beautiful in real life. The yarn I used is yet another of Hobbycraft’s own “Women’s Institute Smooth and Silky” in Aran weight. I choose this brand of yarn as it’s a beautiful acrylic, and most definitely doesn’t feel like an acrylic yarn. It really is smooth and silky, and has some great stitch definition. Plus, this particular type of yarn appeals to the laziness in me: coming in 400g balls requires much less sewing up at the end… nobody can argue with that!IMG_0836

It took a long time to come together – this project has taken about a month in total, but then I was quite ill with that awful virus that was going around, and then there was the house move as well. There were days that I didn’t get any knitting done at all which certainly made me antsy – knitting keeps me calm and focused. [I didn’t get any done in Amsterdam either as I only took hand luggage, and the knitting wouldn’t fit in my backpack].

This will be a great springtime cardigan, something to keep the chill off my shoulders but keeping my arms bare [for some reason I hate my shoulders on display]. What do you think? I’d like to think that I will make another in a different colour, but that will be something for the future. Other future knits include another Heliopath Vest, and another OWLs sweater.

My next project is something that I hope I stick with as I’m going to be learning a new technique: Double Knitting. The pattern that I am working from is from an issue of Knit Now from a while back, and is what I am hoping to be relatively simple even though it’s working from a chart. I think this will be a case of concentrating, and persevering.

Watch this space!

What are you working on at the moment?

Kialtho