Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wanida Socks

Started waaaayy back in the beginning of June, the Wanida socks are finally complete.

It's actually a darker purple than either of these pictures, and the variegation isn't nearly as jarring and distracting as it looks here.

The pattern is Wanida from Sock Innovation by Cookie A. This is the first pattern I've tried from this book, and I'm looking forward to trying more of them. There is no good reason why these took so long to make. The pattern isn't difficult, though it does involve charts so it's not the best portable project ever. I used Addi Turbo needles in size 0, and the yarn is Farmhouse Yarns Fannie's Fingering Weight in Boysenberry. I bought it at CT Yarn & Wool Company in Haddam, CT last year on a trip to see Emmett Otter's Jug-Band Christmas performed live at the Goodspeed Opera House. (Which you should totally go see - they are performing it again this year!)

It is Halloween today, and when I went outside with my camera and freshly-finished socks I saw a woman get out of her car wearing hot pink tights, flowing lacy black skirt, an 80's-style side ponytail and lots of makeup. It was all I could do not to take a picture of her as well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

NELA Conference

I’ve posted very little library content lately, mostly because I don’t have a job and there is so much bad news for libraries recently that everything I can think of is either sad or uninteresting. But I have actual interesting and positive things to report this week. Hooray!

Last week I attended New England Library Association Conference – I’ve gone a number of times, and it has always been inspiring, motivating, interesting, and fun. Though there were considerably fewer people in attendence this year, there were still some great programs to choose from.

It’s always difficult to decide which sessions to attend, and more so right now when I’m unemployed. Everything seems equally relevant and irrelevant. But here are some of the highlights:

- Two good customer service sessions. The first one was about the FISH! Philosophy, as employed by Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market. The second was Reinventing the Customer-Centered Library. Both were very inspiring and served as reminders of things I have learned about in past workshops; but customer service always bears repeating.

- Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, presented by Anita Silvey, from whom I took a class in library school. She talked about a book she wrote about women in the Civil War, which sounds fascinating, and also about her latest book in which various leaders in politics, business, in other areas wrote about the children’s book that changed their lives. I’m inspired to re-read the Little House books now, as soon as I can get to the library.

- Creating a Local History. I almost didn’t go to this one because the combination of 8:30am and the words “local history” do tend to make my eyes glaze over. But then I realized that it was about some librarians who wrote and published a local history of Nashua, NH. Writing and publishing are very interesting, and I really enjoyed this session.

- Author Elinor Lipman talked about her writing process and how her novels take shape. I always enjoy hearing authors talk about their work and I’m rather fascinated by how books get from ideas to actual printed matter with pretty covers. I haven’t read any of her books, but I want to after hearing her talk about them!

Of course there was lots more packed into those 3 days. Among other things, I got to meet a fellow Raveler (I love when worlds collide!), reconnected with some former co-workers, and ate at a fantastic Mexican restaurant in Hartford called Agave (not to be confused with the fantastic Mexican restaurant in Newburyport, MA also called Agave.) And by the way, the conference food was MUCH better this year than last year!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Goodbye, Turtle

Turtle was one of the nicest rats I have known. He lived a long time for a rat, but I will still miss him.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Birthday Socks!

If you saw me at knitting group or on the bus or T, or pretty much anywhere in the last month, I was probably working on these.

Not only are they done, but they fit! I was a little worried about that. This is the first pair of socks I have knit for Eric and he is pretty happy with them. Or so he says, anyhow.

You can kind of see the gusset in this picture.

I used the Garter Rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. The yarn is Zitron Trekking, which I had never used before but have admired for a while. I liked it, though for a while there I wasn't sure there would be enough in the skein. The socks I usually make are much smaller!

I went with a simple pattern because a)it was for a boy and they don't tend to like fancy things, and b)I had a deadline and wanted to be able to work on these anywhere at any time. The downside is that they were a bit boring. But for his next pair he has requested argyle, so that should be more of an adventure.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Catching Fire : a review

(There will be knitting content later this week, I promise!)

In this sequel to Hunger Games, Katniss is back in District 12, where she now lives in the Victor's Village. But nothing in Panem is the same, thanks to a gesture she made during the games that inadvertently sparked a rebellion. With uprisings in several districts, the Capitol makes an unprecedented decision to try and stop this movement. I don't want to say anything more about the plot because it is full of surprises that you should discover for yourself.

One review I read of this book said that it didn't pack the emotional punch of the first book. That is something I would expect of a sequel because of its very nature, but in this case I would have to disagree. What happens in this book, well...some of it is similar to the plot of Hunger Games, but some of it is new and unexpected. Again, I don't want to give anything away, but I found it every bit as compelling and exciting as the first book.

Although the plot is different, I can't help but compare the themes of this series with Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. They are both dystopias wherein the government exerts control by making teenagers go through a rather extreme rite of passage, and in both series there is a rebellion in which the female protagonist plays a large and important part. If you like Hunger Games but haven't read the Westerfeld series yet, I strongly recommend that you do so. As for me, I can't wait for the final installment in this trilogy, which I've heard should be released next year.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hate List : a review

Last May, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend opened fire in their school cafeteria, killing several students and a teacher before turning the gun on himself. Val was shot in the leg when she attempted to stop the shooting, inadvertently saving the life of a classmate. Considered a hero by some, she is still implicated in the murders. Nick Levil was aiming for people on a list that Valerie created – the Hate List, a lengthy record of all the people who bullied them or wronged them in some way. A few months after the shooting, Val is returing to school and facing some of the very same people she helped to endanger. Though cleared of any charges, many still blame her for the tragedy.

Many complicated issues are tackled in this novel, including some interesting themes of guilty and responsibility, and how groups of people deal with the aftermath of a shared trauma. Val’s parents are in many ways similar to parents in many other YA novels, but the author has gone to some taboo areas and allowed Val’s parents to admit that their feelings towards her have changed. (I honestly am not convinced that Val’s father loves her at all anymore.) The range and complexity of the other characters’ feelings towards Val is fascinating and, I think, realistic. These are not easy topics and they are not dealt with in a neat and tidy way. Excellent book!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle : a review

Born mute, speaking only in sign language, Edgar grows up in a dog-breeding family in Wisconsin. His uncle Claude arrives after a long absence - presumably prison, but that is never explained. After Edgar's father, dies suddenly, Claude begins hanging around the farm more and involving himself in their business and personal lives. Edgar doesn’t trust him and begins to suspect that Claude is responsible for his own brother's death, but his plan to prove this goes awry, forcing Edgar to flee.

I liked the book, but didn't love it. Integral to the story is a vial of poison that Claude purchased long ago in South Korea, but it is unclear why he purchased it (is this related to his prison sentence?) and I also didn't understand his motivations for using it the way he did later. Perhaps I should have inferred all of this from the story, but Claude and his actions, and his background, are a mystery to me. I also had a difficult time determining how old Edgar was. I thought for a long time that he was around ten until about halfway through the book he was referred to as being 14. This isn't a big deal, but did change my view of him a bit.

Edgar was a great character and he alone made the book completely worth reading. I also really liked the idea of breeding dogs that were special in some way, though never having had a dog I don't have a good understanding of how they differ from regular dogs. I still enjoyed reading all about the Sawtelle dogs, and about their training and their relationship with Edgar. Though I didn't love the book as much as others I've talked to about it, I still found it a very good read. Now that the cool weather is upon us and we'll all be spending more time curled up indoors, I recommend this somewhat lengthy novel for your fall reading. A great choice!