Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Knit, Knit, Knit

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.
 
This week I was concentrating on a few knitting projects: green scarf/hat set for my husband; Christmas placemats and coasters; and temperature scarf.   I took my projects outside to the deck.  The colours represented in the photos are pretty accurate.  ;)

For the scarf/hat set, I finished off the scarf (including weaving in the ends) and started on the hat. I have the ribbing done and am just about to start on the cable section. After knitting the scarf, which seemed never ending, I've decided that I don't really knitting/purling through the back loop. To me, it doesn't make enough of a difference (in this case) and it really slowed down my knitting. Here's a shot of the scarf:

 
If you are an experienced knitter, you might be able to tell that the straight lines between the cables are knit/purl through the back loop (k tbl/p tbl). Since the hat and scarf will most likely be worn together, I'll continue using method for the hat. However, I'd bet that no one would even notice if I just did regular knitting/purling.

The Christmas placemats and coasters are coming along quite nicely. If you remember,  I was hoping to finish them before the next project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month shows up in 1.5-2 weeks. I've started the 4th placemat and have completed 2 of the coasters, so I'm slightly ahead of where I had planned to be.  I'm thrilled!  The placemats still need edging on the short sides and blocking, while the coasters will just need blocking. Barring any disasters, I should be able to complete it all before the next project arrives. Here's a shot of the almost-completed placemat and coaster:

 
The last thing I was working on was my second temperature scarf. I didn't take a photo of it, but I'm pretty much up-to-date on it.

That's it for this week.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts. If you've done any crafting this week, let me know in the comments.   If Heather posts a linky this week, I hope you'll consider linking up so other can enjoy your creations.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon

In Peter Pan Must Die, a woman has been convicted of murdering her husband while he attended the funeral of his mother. Dave Gurney, a former NYPD homicide detective, has been called in to take a look at this unusual case because some questions remain. As Gurney investigates, he comes across some shady goings on and has to dig deep to get to the truth and ferret out the assassin, who's appearance has earned him the nickname, Peter Pan.

I loved this book. Every time I read a book by Verdon, I can't wait to sit down and write the review. I want to tell everyone just how awesome his books are. However, when I actually get to the writing part, I can't seem to express just how wonderful the book is. It's like there are no right words. I hope my thoughts that follow make sense.

This book is intelligent and so well written. I can't say that enough. Verdon's insight into human actions and interactions are top-notch. The story takes the reader inside the mind of Gurney as he works the case. It's all from his perspective. Even though he has a knack for these types of cases, he's still not perfect. He exhibits many flaws. Some of my favourite parts of the book were when Gurney was working by himself. I got to see how his brain worked and see his thought processes as he sifted through the evidence.

Madeline, Dave's wife, was worried about his inability to let police work go, to move on with his life, and to find a new passion in his retirement. She suggested that he visit a therapist, Malcolm Claret. Their conversations produced some amazing insights into Dave's character and into his past. Suddenly some of Dave's thoughts and actions (in this book and previous ones) started to make sense.

Speaking of Madeline, in the other books, I had a hard time connecting with her. However, I'm happy to say that I finally get her!!! I really loved her this time around. Her conversations with Dave about the chicken coop reminded me so much of my conversations with my husband about things around our house. There's me passionately going on about how much I'd love to do this or that and him answering in a noncommittal way. It made me laugh-out-loud a number of times. I loved that Madeline was into nature, played the cello, and cared for her chickens. She's a perfect complement to Dave. It might seem mundane to some, but to me she, and her life, is perfect.

While this story was much like the Verdon's ones, a true thinking man's mystery, parts of this book, especially the ending, left me breathless. I was flipping pages faster than I thought possible while hoping that things were going to turn out okay. I won't give away the ending, but I'll just say you'll need to hang on tight when you get closer to the end of this book.

The book contains several passages that I loved. I hope they make sense out-of-context:
Crucial action is always based on partial evidence. The hunter who demands a zoologist's affidavit that the deer in his sights is truly a deer will soon starve. The jungle dweller who counts all the tiger's stripes before deciding to retreat will be killed and eaten. (page 172)
Action being the best antidote for anxiety, and information the only remedy for uncertainty...(page 228)
Guilt is a painful hunger for harmony--a need to compensate for one's violation, to restore balance, consistency. (page 254)
We don't think what we think because we see what we see. We see what we see because we think what we think. Preconceptions can easily override optical data--even make us see things that aren't there. (page 271)
I remember an oily politician once explaining that he never engaged in deception; he merely managed the flow of information in an orderly manner to avoid confusing the public. (page 299)
Our brains are so fond of coherence that they confuse "making sense" with the truth. (page 368)


I've read all of Verdon's books featuring Dave Gurney. For the reviews, please see the Reviews by Author page on my blog. Scroll down to "Verdon". I'd recommend them all. I don't think there's a need to read them in order.

Highly recommended. I can't wait for his next book!!!

For more information about this book, please visit the RandomHouse website.

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit John Verdon's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at RandomHouse for this review copy.

Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon, Crown Publishers (Random House), ©2014. ISBN 9780385348409(Hardcover), 440p.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Knit Club of the Month

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

Last week I mentioned that I joined Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. Well, my first kit came in the mail last Friday!!! I was ecstatic that it came so quickly. I love starting new projects. I knew it was going to be a gamble because you don't get to pick your project. It just shows up and it really can be anything. The project for this month is Christmas Placemat and Coaster sets.

Even though I was excited to get started, I had mixed feelings about this one. First of all, I don't do many Christmas crafts. I don't like storing stuff for 11 months of the year. I already have lots of decorations that I have to do that with and don't really need anymore. It would be okay if I was one of those people who LOVED Christmas and kept my decorations up for a lot longer (ahem...Tami...ahem.) ;) Second, I'm not fond of variegated yarns, especially the ones with high contrast colours. Besides all of that, I'm pleased that the first kit has a yarn that I haven't worked with before (Mary Maxim Sparkle) and has at least one abbreviation that was unfamiliar to me, kfb. It turns out that I'm really familiar with doing this increase, it's just that the abbreviation is new.

I love that the kit comes in a plastic bag with a zipper that not only keeps my project pieces all together, but will also be great for storing the pieces afterwards. I toyed around with the idea of making a table runner instead of the individual placemats, but I figured for the first month I'd follow the directions exactly. I'm pleased that the placemat knits up fairly quickly, even though I'm a slow knitter. I'm almost finished the first placemat and have started on the first coaster. Here are some photos:

Kit

Placemat, close up
 
Coaster
 
The pieces will have to be blocked when they are done, especially the coasters. I hope to be done with this one before the next one arrives in about 30 days.  

Because the kit is knitting up quickly, I should still be able to work on the green scarf I showed last week in between. I've already completed 56" of the total 65", so only a bit more to go on it. I also have a second scarf in the wings waiting along with my temperature scarf, which is ongoing.

That's it for this week.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts. If you've done any crafting this week, I hope you'll consider linking up so other can enjoy your creations.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting Scarves

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

It's been so long since I posted anything that I almost forgot how to do it. It's been crazy around here, but I finally managed to get back to doing a few knitting projects. The first one is my second temperature scarf. I managed to catch up on this one quite quickly, so I'm mostly up-to-date.
 
So far, it's looking pretty much like the first scarf I made.  In a few weeks, I'd show a side-by-side comparison. 

The second thing I've been working on is another scarf. This one with cables. It comes with a matching hat, which I hope to start at a later date. The colour's a bit off in the photograph. It's actually a mossy-green, not quite as drab as the photograph suggests.
 

I love that it starts out with ribbing. Right now, I have about 38" of the 65" done, so there's still a bit to go. Does it look feminine or masculine to you? I think it looks rather masculine or maybe unisex, but I'd like other opinions.  I'm thinking of giving it as a gift, but don't want to insult the recipient.   

The last thing I hope to be working on later this week is a surprise project.  I finally joined the Mary Maxim Knit Club of the Month. Every month, I'll get a small-ish knitting project delivered in the mail. I thought I'd try it for a few months to see how it goes. I'm not happy with the high shipping charges, but I figured I'd give it a go anyway. I'm looking forward to learning new stitches and working with some new yarns. Can't wait to see what the project is for this month!!! Anyway, that's it for this week.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts. If you've done any crafting this week, I hope you'll consider linking up so other can enjoy your creations.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Where's Daisy?

If you don't follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, you may be wondering where I've disappeared to yet again. Well, this time I've had a good reason. The whole province of Manitoba (Canada) in under a state of emergency for flooding. It's been going on for the last couple of weeks and we were directly and negatively affected. Our house has been protected by a sandbag dike and remains dry, reasonably anyway. Parts of our yard, though, are underwater. Luckily, the driveway, while partially underwater, is passable by both foot and vehicle. No boots or hip waders required.

We went through this back in 2011 and we were warned that this time could be worse in terms of water levels. We were prepared as we could be for it, but thankfully that didn't happen. The water levels were near those of 2011, not worse.  Regardless, it was extremely stressful. The last few weeks have been filled with anxiety, tears, and sleepless nights...along with lots of work to get things ready before the water came up. The work continues and so does the stress. There has been a small drop in water levels in the last few days, but it'll probably be a few more weeks before the drop is significant and even longer before the water is totally gone. Needless to say, reading/reviewing has taken a backseat as my concentration level and attention span are near nil these days. Yesterday was the first time I picked up or even looked at a book in weeks.

My apologies to those who are waiting for reviews. I'm slowly getting back into reading and I hope to resume reviewing as soon as I can.  

Thanks for understanding. 
Marie 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting and Twigs

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

As I said last week, I started another temperature scarf on June 21, 2014. I've only completed a few rows so far, but here it is:

Not very long or exciting yet.  I've changed the temperature ranges just slightly from the last scarf I made (June 21, 2013 - June 20, 2014). I'm going to round up (or down) some of the temperatures, especially those that are close to colour changes. For example, 22C-29C is orange, while +30C is red. Last year, I only used the first two digits of the temperature so that 29.9C was orange. This year, I'm going to make 29.6 and above red. Because that's close enough to 30C for me.  I've made this slight change on all of the colours. It's going to skew/mess up any comparisons between the scarves and temperatures for the respective years, but I think it'll make the second scarf a little more accurate.

I also worked on a twig weaving. I had done one last summer, but only recently got around to making another. Here it is:
I didn't start out with any plan on this one and ended up with more open space that I would have liked, but overall I like it.

In addition to these needlework projects, I also made a few items from twigs, since we seem to have an overabudance of dead trees. We also have a rather large pond/swamp/puddle/lake in our backyard because of the recent heavy rains and high water table and high river levels. When it first appeared I was frantic. Now that we've had it for awhile and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon, I've adopted a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude and decided that the pond needed a raft.
 

Materials include: twigs, rafia, fun foam (??) The sail is decorative and not very functional and probably should be bigger.  Because of the heavy winds we had on Sunday (gusting to 70km+), the raft has beached itself on some tall grass, so someone is going to have to rescue it. 

I also made some stars with twigs and rafia.   My husband thought they were "little people" for the raft. *big sigh*    Instead of saying "Look what I made", I should have said "Look at the stars I made".   One of these days, I'll learn.
 

Now that you've seen them, I ask you, "Do these look like people?"   I think the original project said that they are supposed to be part of a garland or something, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet. If nothing else, they will end up on the Christmas tree.
 
I found both of these twig projects on the House Revivals website. I put my own spin on both them.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts. If you've done any crafting this week, I hope you'll consider linking up so other can enjoy your creations.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tangled Thursday - String 109

Tangled Thursday is a new occasional post on this blog. Heather at Books and Quilts is hosting these challenges in which we share our latest Zentangle inspired creations.

This week Elaine suggested we base our creations on String 109 from Tanglepatterns.com. This week, I had time to create two tiles. 
Tangles: Knight's Bridge, Warped Eggs, Paizel, Framz, Emingle, Zinger, Pippin

Tangles: W2, Hollibaugh, Bead Lines, Panthe, Ahh, Mr. E

As you can see for the first one, I ignored the border and run into some "interesting" challenges, which resulted in some "interesting" shapes.  ;)   For the second one,  I can see that I missed a few shading opportunities and part of a line.  The shading isn't that great, but until I added it I was thinking of trashing the tile altogether.   It's just meh. 

I guess it's my turn to suggest the challenge.   How about we work with some negative space?  That is, you draw a shape and tangle around it so that the shape in the end is white (or whatever colour paper you are working with) and the "background" is patterned.   I've been wanting to do this challenge since one of the other artists (Tami, I think) did one a number of weeks/months back.  Since it's summer and everyone is probably a little busy, I'm thinking we wait for July 10 for this one. 

Be sure to check out the other creations using String 109 on Books and Quilts.   If you'd like to join us, please do so by linking your post to the Mr. Linky on Heather's post.