Watermelon Baby Cardigan

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Sometimes it amazes me how long – or little – time can be given to a project. My Fade shawl took me 3 months or so from beginning to end – and admittedly there was a huge heatwave during that time, but I don’t remember taking much of a break from the knitting. Since then I have completed two more projects – one that I wrote about in my previous blog (the baby berry hat), and this one, the Watermelon Baby Cardigan. I know that they are baby knits, and as such don’t take quite so long to make, but it’s still nice to have completed a couple of projects in a short amount of time.

This whole year has been a bit of a strange one in terms of my knitting anyway – from the funk that I was in at the beginning of the year that seemed to take me a long time to recover from, which seems silly now that I am looking back on it. I needed some good wins this year, and I definitely feel that I have got them. One of them is this cute cardigan because I wasn’t sure how it was going to go when I first cast it on.

The pattern is available for free on Ravelry, which is even better especially as it really is just a cute little knit.

I think it only took about two or three days to knit, of a few hours each day. I choose yarn from my stash which was cool as I thought I was going to need to buy some more yarn for it. I was originally going to use some sparkly yarn like I did for the little hat, but when I saw I had stash colours, especially all the same yarn brand as well, I went for them. I am really glad that I did as I love the outcome. The yarn is the Women’s Institute yarn from Hobbycraft (surprise surprise, this is my more or less go to yarn at the moment), and I know that I’ve used this before but the stitch definition is just wonderful. I distracted myself as I was knitting away by how nicely the stitches were coming out.

I have bought some cute Hello Kitty buttons to go on this as well, but my needles appear to be too big… I’m going to have to dig out some of the sewing needles that I’ve used for either actual sewing/the sewing machine or the cross stitch ones. I think even the cross stitch sewing needles are still going to be too big! I should have perhaps thought that part through!

I think my only concern with this one is that I haven’t made the arms loose enough, but hopefully it should be okay for a small while!

All I need to do now is get my butt in gear and get the few items that I want to send ready so that I can send my knits across the Atlantic to their new home.

As I type that I can safely say that I have made a good start on the next project too. I agreed to make a family member a black cardigan and they gave me some really awesome hand made stuff, including handmade, hand turned wooden bowls and a hand made pen! I am one and a half sleeves into this project, and my tension is completely off but I’ve totally (I think) compensated for that fact by changing what size I am going to make. I’d post a picture of it so far… but it’s just black! I’ll write about the whole thing, and have photos, when it’s complete. The first sleeve took about 2 days to make, so hopefully the second sleeve won’t take so long either.

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Find Your Fade, Owlet and Baby Berry Hat

My last blog here was 29th July 2018. I haven’t been quite for any specific reason in that I’ve made loads or read loads and just haven’t written about them – that’s really not the case at all – I haven’t written anything for that length of time because I was basically stuck on the same knitting and the same book for the LONGEST time that it now seems surreal that I’ve actually finished the knitting. The book is still sitting half read. I was telling myself on that front it was because I was going to spend just a little more time on the knitting, and get that little bit further with it then I would pick up the book. The book, which makes this preceding stream of consciousness worse, is really fucking awesome and I am only half way through. (Waking Gods (Sleeping Giant’s #2)).

So what, I don’t hear you asking, was it that was seriously taking my time up over the summer?

Well it was nothing typically complex at all.

I made a ‘Find Your Fade’ Shawl. I don’t tend to follow trends very well, and when I first saw this pattern I was very much thinking what was the point? I didn’t want to invest a lot of money on yarn and time in this project for something that I wasn’t sure I was even going to like. And then there’s the size – why would someone want something that size? But I kept seeing photo upon photo of this project on Instagram and then seeing pages dedicated to it on Ravelry, and then something happened. My mind was beginning to wonder. What could I use for MY fade? What colour combinations would work best for me?

Then one day, not so long ago I was doing my usual of browsing John Lewis’s knitting department in Bluewater. I don’t tend to buy much here, although this is where the majority of my KnitPro’s have come from (they don’t tend to sell them in the interchangeable options anymore for some reason), and I don’t buy lots of high end commercial yarn so it’s always a case of browsing and seeing if anything did particularly take my fancy. And, actually, it did.

The yarn in question was Rico Design Creative de Grade, and to be fair the colours didn’t matter so much. They are gradient yarns that fade from a solid bright to a light colour. 200gs. Super soft. Contained some wool alongside the acrylic. And a price tag to match. I left them behind on the shelf that day, vowing to come back around pay day to justify buying them.

I went back a few times to consider whether they were for me.

Then one day, I went back and this yarn was on sale. So you bet your ass I bought some. I got twice the amount I was planning on getting, so 2 types of colours and 2 balls of each. I didn’t mind spending the money at that point.

I let the yarn in the stash for a little while before deciding when I was going to make it. Originally over the summer I was planning a lightweight shawl, something lacy, but then I got the itchy fingers and decided that this was going to be the way forwards.

Here’s the final result:

Check out my attempt to be slightly fancier with my photography!

It’s turned out huge. And you know what? I loved that. I was concerned that it wasn’t going to be big enough at all, especially considering all the photo’s that I had seen in the lead up to me deciding to make this.

As I was making it I wasn’t too sure how it was going to turn out if I am honest. It took me a long time to get used to the yarn – it was a DK yarn instead of a 4ply/fingering, and the colour changes didn’t really impress me as I was knitting through it, but also the plys in the yarn weren’t twisted/spun together, they were individual so it was like knitting with 4 strands of lace weight yarn held together. That being said though I did get used to it and managed to get some speed up with it int the end. I think the biggest change I would make should I make it again is drop the double YO and make it a single YO instead. I found that the lace sections REALLY slowed me down.

When I saw the final item hung up on the line I loved the final result. Perhaps I had spent too long on the minute details and the line by line that until I saw it unfurled like that I couldn’t see it. Not sure if that makes sense?

As I was knitting this I knew exactly who I wanted to give it too. I thought about her a lot as she was starting a new course this year, and thought that it would be perfect – like wearing a warm hug as she works through her homework. Now, I just need to get my ass in gear and send it to her.

Because I’d spent so long making this Fade I decided that I would work on some smaller items before I start the next big one (a cardigan for a family member. In black.), So I’ve already made another Owlet jumper for my niece and have also made a little Berry Baby Hat for a friend in the USA (I have more stuff that I want to make her before I send it though). But these were pretty quick knits and I have some more quick knits in the pipeline before I start that cardigan.

What’s on your needles at the moment? Anything exciting?

Kialtho

Doctor Who, Dinosaurs, Owligans and Shawls…

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With the amount of projects I’m about to write about (which to be fair is only four) I have to question why I am not writing about my projects once they’re complete. Am I falling out of love with writing about them? Is it because I’m not wholly satisfied with them? Or is it simply more baseline than that and simply run out of things to say as I am tired?

I don’t have the answer for sure, but I do want to get back into blogging regularly about my knitting, crochet, books and little adventures. Writing for me is cathartic, in much the same way knitting is. To be fair, over the last month or so I haven’t been very well. I had a couple of weeks off work, and in that second week I was hit with a stinker of a cold. Even know I’m struggling to know whether I am over it – and this morning I am erring on the side of no. It’s either that, or I was also hit with a viral infection of some kind, as I haven’t been very well.

You know what really sucks? Having a cold during a heatwave.

The other thing that been a priority for me is the fact that Artie hasn’t been very well, so I’ve been having to deal with that. More on that another time though as it looks like he’s on the mend now.

So before I dive into the summery of my projects I have officially hit the halfway mark on my challenge this year for number of projects to complete. I’m not optimistic for a 100 per cent completion rate, but that’s fine. It’s been a busy year of sorts.

Right then, the projects:

First up we have a test knit I completed for someone I met through Facebook. The idea behind the pattern is that there are loads of crocheted amiguri and dolls, but not quite so many knitted ones, especially humanoid dolls. The person in question wanted to create a knitted Doctor Who figurine as not everyone can crochet. I offered to test knit the pattern for her – my first time of doing so as well – and this is the result:

He’s a little David Tennant 10th Doctor. I changed a few things from the pattern – like the tie was made in iCord and I changed up the colours to what I had in stash rather than buying lots of new colours for it. The only colour I had to get was the fleshy colour which I got from Hobbycraft (and it wasn’t their WI yarn for a change! I think it’s a KnitCraft one, and definitely surprised me at how nice it was. I wasn’t expecting a great deal from it if I’m honest).

The pattern had lots of little fiddly bits but it came together well. It’s not the sort of thing that I usually go for, so was happy with how it turned out. I made a few mistakes along the way, but all that information was fed back to the designer. I think she was happy with how it turned out.

I gave this doll to someone, but for the life of me cannot remember who I gave it to. Seriously, I’ve been racking my brains to remember…. so if you’re reading this then sorry for forgetting that I have gifted you something! Also, make yourself known haha.

I’ll list these in completion order as at one point I had two projects on the go at once – really usual for me!

At work there was a competition running around the release of Jurassic World film. In light of that I decided I would try and speed make a dinosaur for entry to the competition. I only did that to try and encourage some of my team members to participate, but it didn’t really work out. A friend gifted me a load of Heidi Bears patterns a while back and ‘Puff the Magic Steggy’ was in there. Perfect.

With this one I decided to make each motif as I needed it rather than have them all made and then just join them at the end. I don’t know why but I felt that I was making better progress this way. It worked, and I was happy with the result. Because I was on a deadline I didn’t make the spines along the back, although I suppose as I haven’t gifted it yet I could potentially still do that. Yarn was the same KnitCraft stuff from Hobbycraft as in the 10th Doctor Knit.

Also, this thing came out huge.

My next completed project was a little Owligan. I have a few on these in my future but I had to stop what I was doing whilst I was waiting on some yarn for the next project in my list, so whilst I was stopped there I made this. A colleague of mine is going to be a first time Nanny so just had to knit her something in way of congratulations. I have a few other things planned but this little sweater is just too cute. It’s made from Hayfield Tweedy Aran weight yarn. Came out a little stiffer than I was expecting, but Hayfield softens up with washes as per past experience.

 

Lastly, we have the Haruni Shawl. This was very much love hate project. I loved the final result but hated the process of getting there. I tried to make this once before, at the beginning of the year but I was having some knitting funk/bad mojo and couldn’t get my head around the pattern. I decided that I as I had my last 150g Wollmeise in the stash that this was going to be Haruni and I was going to try again. The colour way for this Wollmeise was Femme Fatale.

So I did.

The first part of the pattern was fine, once I understood what was going on where, and how I was going to approach it. Except that no where in the pattern does it tell you how many stitches are in the repeats themselves, so when I was making it bigger I went over what I thought I would need. The answer, incase you’re searching for it, is 20 per repeat. Each Chart A has to be repeated in multiples of 2s in order to get the required amount of stitches to line Chart B up.

And yes, then there was Chart B. Pretty straight forward here if I’m honest. Not much to note I think, just mark off your progress as you go.

Chart C was more challenging. Mainly because I forgot about the fact that I would have to move markers when the chart changed, but I didn’t, I made the chart fit the markers… not the other way around. At least, for the first half I did. The second I changed. I got about 3 rows into the chart and saw that I wouldn’t have a lot of yarn left to complete the project to went back to the Wollmeise website and ordered some more. That’s when I decided to make the owligan above. Once it arrived and I finished the baby jumper I jumped back in… and that 23g of yarn last until the last 20 stitches or so.

I was very annoyed by that, you have no idea. My plan all along had been to put a contrast colour on the cast off, so to have replaced the whole yarn because I thought I was going to run out a lot sooner than I did and have the ending look really weird in an almost entire contrast, I got to the end pretty much. More than that it means I spent money that I didn’t necessarily have to. (It was still cheaper to order it direct from Wollmeise though, than to go to London on the off chance that Loop had it). You would think that I would be happy with the stash enhancement, but I’m not all that keen on Wollmeise. I don’t go crazy for it like others, that’s for sure.

However, I did pretty much make it to the end, so I got some similar coloured yarn to the red and finished those few stitches. I then blocked it almost straight away, it grew significantly, and then I gave it to the lady that runs the shop that really close to our flat. She’s really lovely, and although it was height of the heatwave she feels the cold in the winter, and it will definitely keep her warm.

So that’s it for now.

I feel a little lost for what to make next. I haven’t really crafted this week at all because of the weather, but I’m set on deciding something today. Maybe something lace weight as it looks like we’re not at the end of the weather yet.

What have you made recently? Any recommendations?

Kialtho

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) – Laini Taylor

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I’d been meaning to read this once I knew it was coming out. I loved the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and Taylor’s ability to craft stories – I definitely had high hopes. And I was not disappointed.

Synopsis:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Picking up this book we’re introduced to a rather violent start. A girl has fallen from the sky and been impaled. She is blue. She is very much dead. And then we’re transported elsewhere in the world and introduced to Lazlo, and the girl is forgotten about.

Lazlo is an orphan being raised in a monastery. He is a ward of the monks who insist that his life is a bland as theirs, but he revels in stories – specific stories of of a city far south that he knows he’ll never see. But one day as he’s playing in the fields something strange happens and he’s memory of the name of the city is gone. It’s gone from everywhere, no one literally knows the name, and every replacement he knows is not right.

When we rejoin Lazlo he’s an adult, and escaped the monastery by becoming involved with a library. His skill, or rather, his obsession is discovered and nurtured there. He works for years on his own research of the forgotten city, of constructing it’s language and knowing all about it. And naturally, that research is stolen away from him by a rich boy. Turns out, people from that lost city are seeking help from those who have specialist knowledge in various fields, such as philosophy, explosives, climbing, construction etc.

Lazlo surprises them, and even himself, to convince them to take him with them. He can speak their language, and impresses them more that the contingents from the scholars – in fact, he even shows up the Queen’s grandson… or was it nephew? Which naturally creates some animosity between them.

There’s a far amount of world building in the initial first third of the book. In fact, it seemed a little slow to begin with, but it works. It builds the city that Lazlo lives in, his life and actually how grey it is in comparison to what it will become. We meet some interesting characters in the next section as they travel to the unnamed city (also called Weep), and I think here is where I think I have my biggest issue with the book. Not that the travelling is bad or anything like that but Lazlo makes a friend here, how could have also been a potential love interest later in the book, but then when we get to Weep itself she’s not really mentioned or spoken about again, and considering how close he is perceived to be with her during the travels it seems a surprise that she’s not really mentioned again, not even for a catch up and a sounding board for Lazlo’s time in Weep or what he’s been up to.

The world is immersive. And really engaging as well, I couldn’t put it down as I neared the end and was in that state of wanting to keep reading but also not wanting to make it to the end of the book. It was such an awesome book. And that ending?

I mean, I want to talk about it but can’t because spoilers. But seriously. Depending on how the next book goes depends on whether I think Lazlo made the right decision because at this point in time I think the Lazlo that we’ve known up until that point would not have made the decision that he did make.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

The next one is out in the Autumn, but that seems like a stupidly long time away!

Until next time folks,

Kialtho

Knitting in Q1 of 2018…

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It would turn out that I have a lot more knitting projects to talk about that I previously imagined. Jeez, I’ve been neglecting this blog a bit much toward the end of the year, no?

I can’t tell you why that happened. Just life. Work. Time, or lack thereof to do anything except sleep eat and work. I have also been crafting, mind, it’s just the writing up about them afterwards. I’ll start writing here, but I may split the blog into two in case it’s huge!

To be fair, I think one of the reasons that led to my neglect of the blog is the first project that I’m going to talk about, which was also the first project in 5 years that I ended up frogging completely and reusing the yarn elsewhere, and requires a small amount of background information I guess.

I’ve been wanting to make a ‘Find Your Fade’ style shawl for a long time, but didn’t want to commit the four or five skeins of yarn dedicated to it – at least – not until I could get some relevant and similar colour ways from the same dyer or maker, which is quite an expensive overture for this one shawl. I know it’ll be massive, but still… you know where I’m coming here. So I found this pattern on Ravelry which seemed to fill the hole, and I had some Stylecraft Candy Swirl so thought that that would work out well.

It didn’t. I think I spent about 4 weeks on it, and got to over the halfway point and even onto the second cake of yarn, but I wasn’t enjoying how it was coming out so decided to frog and forget about it. If I want to have a Fade, I really should just commit to a proper Fade, right? Or perhaps, use a different type of yarn. I don’t know. I’m not running back to make this one again.

To be fair, the next two projects also have reasons why they didn’t have blog entries: they were birthday presents for my mum, so I couldn’t write about them before I’d actually given them to her, especially considering she does read these blogs.

The first was the Mermaid Shawl, the pattern I first discovered in the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine that I’d had specially shipped over from the USA because we couldn’t get it over here. [It’s since been renamed and repackaged to remove all references to Harry Potter for the UK edition, and this pattern is also in there too]. For this project I used the remainder of the lace weight yarn I scored from Countess Ablaze a few years ago, but honestly can’t remember the name of it. I know it was a left over from one of her yarn clubs [not the recent Classics Society]. I thought the colours and the name of the pattern meant that these two were made for each other. I think it turned out well. Perhaps I could have pushed it a bit and made it a little on the longer side, but it works as a shawlette.

This was also my very first beading project, and technique that I really enjoyed and would love to experiment with further in other projects. I thought I would hate having to stop and apply the beads but surprisingly I didn’t!

The second that I made for my mum was an African Flower Elephant. My friend gifted me a bunch of the African Flower patterns a little while ago and the elephant, being that these are my mothers spirit animal, had to be made for her. I chose just to have two colours for this one, a decent pink and a complementary grey. I did this for two reasons: my sanity when making the individual hexi’s and because I didn’t want anything to really detract from the creation of the elephant itself.

What do you think? I was super happy with how this turned out. She was quite big, and used a decent amount of ceramic cookery balls to weigh down her behind. Mum liked her too!

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Hot off the creation of the elephant I felt the need to make an African Flower blanket for the home. It sort of worked out how I wished, considering I wasn’t using a pattern for it, and the hook I was using was a bit small – basically it’s a small, slightly stiffly made lap blanket but could also pass for a rug on the floor really. I still have yet to wash it, nor have I trimmed the tails from the centres of the flowers because my synch circles have a habit of coming undone and I don’t really fancy sewing them all in. I think considering this was a huge experiment on my part – especially in terms of not having a pattern – I did okay. I would definitely change how I would approach the project again if I made it again. For this I used Hobbycraft’s Women’s Institute’s ‘Soft and Chunky’ and pretty much only wanted to use it for the hot coral looking colourway. The actual project is sitting on the back of the chair ready for use when needed.

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I also decided in this time that I would make a new Helipath vest as the one that I made before is a good couple of years old now and I love wearing it. I thought it was time to have a new one in a new colour. I loved making this again, partly because it looks so complex to make but it’s super simple if you can do the YO stitch in your work, and the frequent crossing of the cables. I chose the read colour again as it’s something that stood out for me, and something that I wouldn’t typically go for.

The only thing that annoys me about this one, and it’s entirely my fault, is that I put the button bands on the wrong way around. I’m not going back and undoing them now – to be fair – I din’t even realise it until my second or third time wearing it out. So can’t be that bad… no? The buttons on this one are channelling my inner [extremely inner!!] Gryffindor as they are gold. Red and Gold, no? I’m sure that I have enough Ravenclaw things that I can let this little Gryff related thing through?? Yeah, course I can!

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The last thing I have to show is my most recent FO. This is a replacement of my most favourite shawl/scarf that I wear almost every day and have lost somewhere. The original was made in Countess Ablaze’s ‘Nerds Prefer Their Rainbow’s Darker’, and was also the first item I’d made since moving into the flat with Alex. But I must have left it behind somewhere, a restaurant or shop or something because it’s gone missing. I was quite heartbroken about it, but then I saw this yarn from Cuddlebums and knew I could make another one in slightly bolder colours. The colour way name was ‘Electric Rainbow’, and the pattern is the ‘Elder Tree Shawl’.

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The new one is bigger too. I assume that that would be the years worth of difference in tension and the different needles I used too. [I used my Chiagoo’s red lace for this one, and before would have no doubt used my Knitpro’s Symphony].

Of course, now that I’ve made this one, finished and blocked it, there was a heatwave. So no doubt I’ll have to wait around until the colder weather to wear it. At least it’s ready, and with any luck I won’t loose this one!

So I think I’ve caught up the projects that I haven’t written about since last year. I’m currently working on a star blanket for my dad for fathers day, and then after that, I’m not sure what I’m going to make. Probably a shawl because I love making them. I have challenged myself to make 20 projects this year. The last couple of years I’ve topped out at 19, so I would really like to hit that 20 mark – and I’m using the challenge feature on Ravelry to help me keep track of things too.IMG_3752

Hopefully I can do it. I compared my total yardage/meterage used by this time last year to the same time this year, and in terms of yardage I’m definitely behind. But last year I made some baby blankets early on in the year, which is where most of it would have gone. I think that’ll be all for now, I hope that this wasn’t too spammy for you all.

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What projects are you working on at the moment? What works best for you when the warmer weather comes into play?

Kialtho

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

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Right, so funny story with this one. I downloaded after watching Girl on the Train thinking that this book was that – because for some reason my brain thought that these were the same. I don’t know why, but there you go. I’m very much a like to read the book before watching the film, but both these books became big phenomena so really, it didn’t matter so much for me at this time.

I don’t usually go for this sort of thing, so thought that it was also good for me to branch out into other genres. I guess this isn’t a typical example of the genre though?

Fair warning though, I’m not going to be able to talk about this one without a few spoilers.

Synopsis:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

I don’t usually hate characters in books. And I don’t think I’ve ever hated all the characters in a book before, bit this one certainly set the bar from pretty much the beginning. Nick was irritating as hell. I feel like if you were married to someone for 5 years, and with them for longer than that (although, to be fair I can’t remember how long they were together for before they were married) that you wouldn’t be quite like Nick. Nick was so careless and unemotional that another human being was missing, and his wife no less.

And Amy? Spoilt rich kid turned poor yet didn’t lift a finger to work or to help. She didn’t feel compassion for anyone, not even her own parents, or Nick’s mother – dying of cancer – and she just wanted to be in New York with her New York lifestyle, and the husband she met there.

As we are revealed more about Amy and her motivations is begs the question in the first place of why she bothered to get married. She was pretending to be someone she wasn’t from the word go – something that suggests that she didn’t know who she was at all, aside from a psychopath. I mean, she does literally get away with murder in the end.

Both the main characters are hateful towards each other. Like, really, absurdly hateful. If you felt like that, wouldn’t you just leave? Nick’s affair was completely predictable the moment the author started mentioning his disposable phone. You don’t have a burner if you don’t have anything to hide!

There was a lot of filler content in the first third of the book that slowed down the progress of the read. It actually made it hard work to keep going through it actually. Once Amy’s physical character came into play it was slightly more interesting. Although, her keeping referring to her weight gain when it equated to about a stone pissed me off. A stone wouldn’t make that much difference to her appearance than say – 4. [Ask me how I know].

The supporting cast of characters were also just as bad as the main set. The detectives incompetent, blundering and down right useless, the neighbours wanting to be in with Nick then turning on him when he didn’t want their attention or their food, his sister partly because her name was ‘Go’.

This book for me made me self reflect a little as well. Am I that bad in my life with my partner? Definitely not! Do I know everything there is to know about him? No, but that’s okay because it would be boring otherwise.
I thought that the film did a really good version of the book. They managed to transcribe it well – not that any of the characters were made any more likeable by being on the big screen. That being said, I think I would rather see the film and endure the book again. That says a lot, don’t you think?

How did you find this one? Did you find any of the characters likeable or relatable?

Kialtho

[The end of the blog brings me up to date with my books, next up will be the knitting one!]

La Belle Sauvage – Book of Dust #1, Phillip Pullman

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Much like my last blog this is a book that I read some time ago now. I haven’t exactly found the time to write much just lately, so here’s part of my catch up.

Because it was sometime ago, I do apologise if things have been mis-remembered or are a little off. I’ve read other books since then as well! My best friend gave me this book for Christmas, so it was one that needed to be read sooner rather than later. She has awesome taste in books too, and knew that I would love this. It’s been a long time since I read the original trilogy that this is also based on – His Dark Materials – so that’s definitely penned in for a re-read.

Synopsis:

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…
Malcolm’s father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make chocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

To be honest, I knew this book was going to be released and had seen some of the coverage and excitement about returning to the world of Lyra but I must confess I didn’t know whether this was a prequel or a sequel series. I was fine with that as it meant going into the book unprepared, and ready for surprises. I had avoided all I could about actual content to ensure that no-one spoiled it for me – there’s nothing worse, is there?

Initially I found it slow going as we are re-introduced to the world of alternative Oxford, where peoples souls are a physical animalistic manifestation of their person, witches and prophecy are real, and there’s something called Dust which is a bit hushhush. Also, there’s the church which basically rule everything.

I thought that this book was quite once we had gone through the world building and established the characters and secret societies. We have spy groups, manipulation of children something like the Hitler Youth in that everyone is spied on and no one is safe, nuns both goodly and kind and horrible and brutal, and Lyra, a baby at the centre of it all.

Lyra is a 6 month old baby in the care of some nuns. Nobody is supposed to know her, and her presence a secret, but naturally everyone seems to know what her presence there means and just about anyone with a connection of Asriel or her mother (her name is eluding me, sorry) is drawn to her to try and kidnap her or otherwise have some sort of contact with her. The nuns do they’re best to keep her safe, but when the worst flood of 100 years hits the Thames, all the safety is literally washed away and we’re left with 11 year old Malcolm to try and defend a baby in his little canoe with a friend who doesn’t like him much at all.

Don’t be mistaken though. Our main character may be 11 years old but this, for me anyway, was no children’s book, which is one of the reasons that I wish to re-read the original series. There’s a predator in this book – someone who beats his own daemon, even leading to her severance of limbs – who also commits some dark acts. He sleeps with a nun – but this isn’t clear if it was consensual – but he does rape another character later on. That’s no normal children’s book material. I can’t recall if anything like that happened in the previous books. The level of interference from the church is also quite chilling. The original trilogy I remember having a load of discussions around the role of the church and whether they were anti organised religion or whether they were providing social commentary on how our government were susceptible to the influences of the church.

Once we’re about a third to half way through the book it does pick up, but the main action is toward the end of the book as Malcolm, Alice and Lyra was being swept away in the flood waters in his canoe. We end up with Lyra being dropped off at Jordan College under sanctuary rules which would protect her for the near future. It’s clear though, from the pace at the outset that this was just the first in the series as Pullman isn’t in a hurry to get through the world building at all.

I’ll certainly be reading the next one in the series.

My next blog on books will be Gone Girl. Who knows how long that will take to write that one!

Kind regards,

Kialtho

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) – Victoria Aveyard

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It’s currently nearing the end of April. I read this book sometime over Christmas and New Year. I didn’t write about it then, lots of stuff went on. You know ‘real world life.work stuff’ that you don’t ignore. So I read, and meant to write and then didn’t. I apologise, but that means that I am not looking at this with fresh eyes, but I enjoy the writing part so I’ll get on with it, and hopefully you’ll not curse me too much if I missed a detail.

cover-red-queen

Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart

Before I begin too much about the book itself, and please note my introduction to this blog, I want to say that I loved this book. This was like the X-Men meeting Hunger Games (with a little less bloodshed, but not much!) and actually, it was exactly the sort of book that I wished to read at the time.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of it. Either it was going to be really good, and addictive, read, or I was going to thoroughly hate it. I didn’t think I was going to have any go between in it.

We are introduced to our main character Mare (I distinctly recall disliking her name, even if it was just a shortened version of her actual name). She’s been reflecting about the state of the world, of how society is split into two distinct groups. Reds, the commoners, because they have red blood. They aren’t special, there are a lot of them and they are the foundation of society. They are downtrodden, hard worked and poor. They are ruled over by the Silvers, who are Silver blooded and have special powers – control of over fire, water, earth, metal, healing, truth etc. They are the ruling elite and consider the Reds so completely beneath them, almost like cattle. Apparently, the whole world also considers this view.

Mare is trying to avoid being conscripted into a never ending war, one that’s already taken her brothers. Her sister has escaped, apprenticed to a dress maker. Mare’s friend is also being conscripted, but Mare has decided to try and do everything possible to get him out of his situation.

In along the reds is a terrorist group called Red Dawn. They are fighting for the civil rights of the Reds, militantly.

You can see why they’re paths would cross.

Without giving too much away, things go wrong for Mare as she’s revealed to have her own special powers. Reds don’t have powers, so this is something that shocks all those that witness it. Because of this, she’s placed into the care of the Royal family, they give her a husband to be – one of the princes – not the one she wants, of course – and ultimately – betrayal, love and the truth all happens.
What I really liked about this book actually was that it was set in a world that is both so similar, and so different to ours. The differences – like the super powers were pretty obvious – but the similarities were a little surprising. Things like TV, radio and communications existed, and there were also things like CCTV and presumably computers [just not like how we know and use them]. There was also new materials and compounds that existed as well. I really enjoyed those little details that made it both completely different and a little familiar as well.

For me this book was a joyride. I loved how it read, and I couldn’t help but think this was an action film in the making, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it was picked up by a film studio somewhere. There’s a lot of emphasis of action films, and super hero films at the moment, and with the release of The Darkest Minds later this year – there’s an appetite for this stuff. I’d love to see this on the big screen.

Have you read this one? What did you think? Would you watch a film based on this premise?

Kialtho

Sleeping Giants – Sylvian Neuvel

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I finished this book before Christmas but am only now getting to write it about it for a couple of reasons – time for one – but more importantly, I was suffering from the biggest book hangover I think I’ve suffered. Let’s jump right into the synopsis so I ca talk about the book!

Synopsis:

What happens when you make a discovery that changes everything?

Deadwood, USA. A girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit, she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see something far stranger…

“We always look forward. We never look back.”

That girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human civilisation on the continent.

“But this thing … it’s different. It challenges us. It rewrites history.”

An object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from – and how many more parts may be out there – could change life as we know it.

“It dares us to question what we know about ourselves.”
But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete…?

“About everything.”


I absolutely loved this book. From the format – which was completely different to any book I’d read before as it was listed in an interview/interviewee type style with occasional diary entries to help flesh out the story a little. The plot itself, which on the surface feels a little far-fetched gets completely washed away with how well the book is executed.

Once upon a time in the world of Rose Franklyn she fell down a hole and discovered a giant robot hand. When she grows up she’s become a doctor, a scientist investigating the robot hand, and theorising that there are more pieces out there. And there are. So she gathered them up and assembled them. Which the help of a few others they stand the robot up, and make it work and the rest of the world has a hissy fit.

What I really liked was not just how the story was told – Rose was the main character, but it’s certainly not told from her POV. Instead, we’re told the story from a nameless character presenting his notes on the subjects, and actually, it sort of makes him the main character as his story telling introduces us to people like the American Secretary of State, of Defence, the President, important people from around the world. He’s working with a lot of people to work on this project, and when it goes wrong, he changes just who he works with – including the countries and conglomerates – to ensure he gets his way from beginning to end. Even if it will mean treason.

I think the only downside to the story telling in this was though was that it was hard to emotionally connect to one character. There are a couple of things that highlight this point for me. When the characters are working together to get the robot standing and walking, there’s some intense jealously going on between key characters, which leads to a deliberate attempt on someone life and leaving one of the characters to be permanently damaged from it. [I’m trying to be descriptive and vague here, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone!]. After this event happened, which is pretty key to the plot, I was a little like ‘oh, okay’ rather than impact-fully emotional about it.

Another example is when an accident happens as a result of an experiment with the robot. A key character is affected in a very specific way, which left me feeling a little ‘wtf?’ but otherwise…. ‘oh, okay’. I’m not quite sure how to fully describe it. The connections are definitely there to the characters, but if it was 1st or 3rd person, it would be a stronger emotional bond. As it stands we witness all these characters second hand through the narrators contact with them, rather than first hand. That’s probably a better way to describe it.

This was such a good book though, and I’ve had to give myself some time before I read the next one. It’s a case of science fiction as it’s best, I think, and I look forward to where the plot is going.

I have actually finished another book between Sleeping Giants and now, but like I said – book hungover and didn’t really know how to talk about this one. Not that I’ve done a great job mind.

I’ll write about the next one over the next few days to catch me up.

Before I go I’d like to mention the GoodReads challenge. I was undecided whether I was going to participate in it this year for the main reason that I’ve never actually completed it. This is because I have more than one hobby, so my targets have come down over the years and I’ve still not achieved. This year, I am aiming for just 15 books. That’s all. I know people out there read so many, but 15 for me I think will be more valuable than chasing a target I’m not going to achieve.

That’s all for now folks!
Happy reading,
Kialtho

Kialtho: 2017 Year in Review

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Okay, so this is completely late for the end of the year stuff – but in my defence I’ve been busy! I’m going to write one blog this year that covers both the knitting and the book side of things. I’ll mention a few highlights from this year as well. It sounds like a lot to be fair, but it isn’t, not really. So rather than beat around the bush, I’ll dive straight in!

Knitting:

Total projects: 19

Number gifted: 11

Number of these that were crochet: 3

Total distance knit: 9783 metres. It was actually more than this, but there were a couple of projects that didn’t get their measurements taken in terms of weight/used.

Stand out project of the year: To be honest this isn’t just one project. I have two for this – the baby blanket I made my sister – which is what I consider my masterpiece. Everything about this I loved, except for the repetitive strain injury I got from doing it. I still have yet to recover, and I am definitely in hope that I will recover.

The second is the crochet hippo I made – it was something that intimidated when I started, but then it’s simplicity shone through and it just an amazing pattern to make. I also made an elephant in the same style, but it’s the hippo that stands out.

Next years goals: I’d like to hit 20 projects next year!

Books:

Book challenge: 20

Books read: 11

The first question I have to ask myself when I look at this stat is – am I happy with it? On the surface, the answer is no, I’m not. 20 books? I used to be able to do that in a heartbeat. There was a time when I was read 12 books every three months. So just 11? But then I consider my life now to when I used to be able to read them. Life is different – I’m an adult now, I have adult responsibilities, I have my job – which requires some very early starts – I have other hobbies, like the knitting which I never used to do. So actually, is it that bad? Probably not. I have to consider that it’s still 11 books more than others will have read. The real question should be…. were they good books? Did I enjoy the books that I did read?

Probably: mostly.

Best book of the year: With out a doubt ‘Waking Gods’ by Sylvain Neuvel, closely followed by ‘Children of Time’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Both these books are science fiction, and both of them gripped my in a way I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Children of Time was at the beginning of the year, and Waking Gods at the end – I still need to blog about that one though – I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Worst book: ‘Sinful Cinderella’ by Anita Valle, closely followed by ‘Enclave’ by Ann Aguirre. Both these were bad for very different reasons, and I won’t go into them here. Apparently I didn’t want to go into them before either I cannot find the blog links to refer to for this section.

Next year: I would like to read 15 books. It’s not a lot, but it’s what I think I can actually achieve without being disappointed with the end result as per previous years.

The other stuff:

– I got re-addicted to Dragon Quest VIII on the 3DS. This was my favourite Playstation 2 game and got completely immersed in the world once more.

– I got promoted at work, and joined a new store in this role. I’ve worked in three separate stores this year, and learnt a lot in all of them. I do miss my work mum though! (We all have one of those, right? It’s super weird that one of my employees/colleagues calls me ‘Mummy’ though. Like, what?

– I did NaNoWriMo again, and won it! [I don’t think I blogged about this either!]. This wasn’t my best novel, but I did it and that certainly made me happy.

– Artie turned a year old, and is as crazy as the day we got him. I love this cat. Have a photo!

 

I hope that you have had a good year, and that the year to come is just as good. As always, I’ll be here blogging periodically throughout the year as per usual!