Friday, July 24, 2009

More cardigan

I planned to show you pictures of the knitting needle case I sewed for my friend Annmarie's birthday but it appears that I did not, in fact, take pictures of it before giving* it to her. I can't even ask her to take pictures for me as she is busy working on the crew of the Komen Breast Cancer 3-day this weekend (to which you should totally donate, by the way.) That project will have to wait for another day. But trust me, it's cute!

Instead I will show you my sleeve.

Isn't it sleevy? You might even call it sleevelicious.

It is basically a gray stockinette tube with a wee bit of seed stitch on the end. I'm sure it is hard to contain your excitement right now, especially since it's mid-July and the thought of a long-sleeved wool garment is probably extremely appealing. But I'm kind of excited, because at this rate I may actually have a new cardigan by the time it is seasonally appropriate to wear one. Which should not be until November, given how late our summer started, right?

(*That's right, I didn't "gift" it to her, I gave it to her. Just sayin'.)

(Also, I just looked at the word "gave" for so long it started looking wrong, and I had to look it up to make sure it was a word. Wtf?)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Happened to Anna K. : a review

If you know me well, you know that there is a special place in my heart for Tolstoy's novel Anna Karenina. An unhappily married woman, Anna, leaves her husband for another man with whom she has had a child. Her husband refuses to divorce her and her new relationship isn't going as she had hoped. A pariah trapped by her poor life choices, she ultimately throws herself in front of a train. It is huge sweeping novel filled with themes of romance, family, guilt and the restrictions of 19th century Russian society.

Irina Reyn reworks Anna Karenina and delivers it as a fresh yet familiar story, set within a community of immigrant Russian Jews in New York City. The themes are the same, and even some the imagery - instead of trains in the Russian countryside Reyn has given us the New York subway as a motif appearing throughout the book. Rather than the stiff society of 19th century Russia, the modern Bukharan Jewish community provides parallel context, very fitting with its strict rules regarding chastity and tradition. Even the names of the characters are the same, but don't let it fool you - you need not have read Tolstoy's novel to enjoy this book (though I do recommend it!)

What Happened to Anna K. is a wonderful in its own right, the characters complex and the writing a true pleasure to read. Irina Reyn is unmistakably talented - hopefully this, her first novel, won't be her last.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cardigan check-in

My Lucy in the Sky cardigan has grown quite a bit since I last shared it with you, so it's high time for an update.

First a close-up, because it's just so satisfying.

It was difficult to get a good shot of the whole thing as it is so wide, but this was the best I could do.

It is a little boring to knit and also involves a lot of counting so in a way it's good movie-watching knitting, but not movies that you need to pay attention to. I've found that it's ideal for re-watching episodes of the Simpsons I've seen many times before.

Also, is it dorky to admit that I love the criss-crossing diamond pattern just because it somehow looks so neat and orderly? I guess you can take the girl out of the library, but you can't take the librarian out of the girl. Or something like that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Riddley Walker : a review

You may remember Russell Hoban from such classics as Bread and Jam for Francis and Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, but Riddley Walker reads more like Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic fiction, and picked up a copy of this book for free at one of my favorite places, the Traveler Restaurant & Books.

Riddley's society exists far after our own was destroyed by nuclear war, and his people make their living scavenging for iron from ancient machinery. They have no knowledge of life outside of England (or "Inland" as they call it) and learn about "times back way back" through traveling puppet shows. During the course of the story, Riddley discovers that some of his countrymen are trying to recreate the technology that ultimately destroyed civilization.

Their tenuous grasp on history is one of the things I found especially interesting about the story. There is a lot of misinterpretation, and of course it made me wonder how wrong we could be about ancient civilizations that we have studied. Parts of the novel imply that Riddley and his peers are lacking intelligence, and are perhaps inherently unable to grasp the foundations of our science, but that may just be my poor interpretation and not Hoban's intention.

What is remarkable about this novel is that it is written in an odd pidgin dialect, phonetic and distinctly British. The book begins with this sentence: "On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen."

As you can imagine, it is not the easiest book to read though it is only 220 pages long. It does get easier once you are used to the style but it is still not a good choice to read late at night in bed after a large glass of port, if you know what I mean. Nevertheless, it's a great - if bleak - novel, one that I'm sure will stay with me for a long time.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Deja Vu

My sock looks almost the same as last time you saw it. But, surprise! I have done lots of work on it since then.

I have not mentioned here the chaos that has been ruling my life for the last month or so, and which has finally ended along with my job. It was impossible to concentrate on anything, hence the tragedy that befell my sock (and the fact that I'm reading the horrid Twilight series rather than something that is actually worth my time, but that is another matter.)

Two weeks ago, mid-crisis, I went to knitting group relaxing! Knitting! With lovely, inspiring people who are also knitting! By about halfway through the evening I was getting close to the heel of my sock and realized that in my recent distraction I hadn't tried it on yet. Even once! So I pulled off my shoe and sock (and that's another thing - why am I still forced to wear socks at this point in the so-called summer?) and with a flourish, brought my sock-in-progress over my toes and proceeded to pull....and tug....and swear....and couldn't get it over my heel.

So I ripped it all out, worked on my Coraline swatch, and looked at some knitting books until it was time to go home. The next day I restarted it on larger needles and have been trying it on about, oh, every ten minutes. Just to make sure.