Archive for February, 2008

Sewing up loose ends

Thursday, 28 February 2008

58. Sew What! Skirts by Francesca Denhartog & Carole Ann Camp

See, when it’s a craft I don’t do, I can read the book as a book. (I haven’t put down Search PressBeginner’s Guide to Crochet by Pauline Turner that I skimmed at work today, again because I don’t really read crochet books – just skim them for what might be new or interesting to me.) Anyway, this (the skirts book) actually reads quite well, unlike many craft books, and seems to give very clear instructions as to making, improvising and embellishing one’s own skirts, with good personal fit and fashion.

59. Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon

I’ve read this a few times before, but am going back through all the Lord John stories now that I have the newest book (Lord John and the Hand of Devils) which includes the three shorter stories that sandwich the two novels. I like Lord John largely because he’s an interesting honourable man inside whose head we get to see. The mysteries of the stories are complete and engrossing, but not really the point for me (I amn’t someone who seeks the genre out).

Reading Crochet Books?

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I went through The Encyclopedia of Crochet Techniques by Jan Eaton at work today, and if it weren’t about crochet I’d certainly add it to my Reading 2008 list. The thing is, I only skimmed through the instructions (very clear) and stitch details (good charts), and had a quick look at the seven patterns included (a nice range for beginners and beyond, and things I would think of making), whereas if this were a book about another craft or hobby (especially one I don’t – yet – do) I would actually have read it.

Which is why there have been several reviews of scrapbooking and other craft/hobby books, and none yet about my main craft of choice.

Still, I’d heartily recommend the book, especially as a resource for beginners and those who want to try new things. It shows Tunisian, broomstick and hairpin techniques (all of which I want to learn), and also has a gallery of more advanced items made by various people, which is good for inspiration.

As for my own crochet, I think I’m perhaps halfway through the first front of the FrouFrou, as I got a good few rows done at the knitting group tonight. I really enjoy working away with other people, discussing our respective projects, crafts, books and lives in general. (& these are all very nice people, of course!)

Skill spreading

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

I haven’t done much of my own crochet today, but I did do some teaching of it, and have another person express potential interest. Today’s student now knows all the basic stitches, and I’m going to dig out some nice books/patterns for her.

I should get a fair bit on my projects done tomorrow. If nothing else I want to catch up on my February mat (a tiny bit of that is all I got done today) as I’ve ignored it for weeks, unfortunately.

Sore muscles

Monday, 25 February 2008

I began another National Trail today, the Thames Path, with a colleague from work (who also started me off on the North Downs Way last year). We began at the Thames Barrier, visiting the Information Centre there, and ended about 13 miles later at the Tower Bridge. I haven’t walked any long distances in months, so I can really feel my feet and legs, but actual physical fatigue is just so much better of a feeling than mental fatigue that I’m really happy. (I’m pleased about the exercise too!)

The Barrier is a very impressive feat of engineering, and our guide at the Information Centre a good publicist for it. I still have an unhappy camera so I bought a postcard of that, and another of Tower Bridge, but I expect both are copyright, so I can’t scan them for you. (There are pictures at the links, however.) Docklands London (which is most of the route we covered today) is a fast changing and varied place, where building sites and fancy apartment blocks and offices share names and space with old manufacturing sites and housing. The river is a living working place, with constant traffic, plant and animal life in water that’s clear in the spots shallow and still enough not to be silted up.

I still have one section of the Capital Ring to do (I did all but about two sections of that in 2005, and did the penultimate one last summer), and then I had been going to begin the London Loop, but seeing as I have these other two started I think I’ll be better off continuing with those instead.

It is easier to follow the direction of the book, but I think that it’ll be cheaper and more convenient to get to the London bits of the Thames Path, so will probably continue going upstream for the time being. That’s also why I started with the Capital Ring and was aiming at the London Loop next. In any case, I like both the country/park walking and watching the historical shifts of London.

Colour change decisions

Sunday, 24 February 2008

I’ve been working on and off on the Seraphina all day, and am nearly finished the first ball of the beige yarn. I’m dithering about doing what I’d intended, which is the ecru, then the beige and then the brown, or alternately striping the two balls each of the beige and the brown. It kind of depends how many rows I get out of this ball. The ecru made the first 20 rows, and so far I’ve got 9 from the ball of beige. I’ll finish that up and then decide.

Fire Safety

Friday, 22 February 2008

We had Fire Awareness training at work today, and it’s given me renewed respect for the dangers and speed of spreading fire, as well as of the importance of having well planned clear escape routes, and being careful about minimising hazards and risks. I learned a lot and plan on putting the advice into practice.

I won’t deny I had fun using the extinguisher to actually put out an actual (if contained and purpose set) fire. (& I feel confident that if the need arose I would be able to use an extinguisher now, although I’d far rather never have to.)

Good Shabbos!

Seeing the abundant good, downplaying the small annoyances

Friday, 22 February 2008

How could one or two people behaving ridiculously completely wind me up, when I was literally surrounded by several other people choosing to give up their time to help me out with some serious work? I just mustn’t let them, that’s all.

In that vein, my housemate has offered to lend me her camera for crochet progress pics, which I’ve just taken, to get me through until I get mine fixed (if I’m organised I’ll get that begun tomorrow). I took all the pictures quite quickly, so the projects are a bit rucked up, I’m afraid, but you’ll get the idea.

Here’s the Seraphina:

The FrouFrou. (I amn’t staying exactly in the order the pattern suggested; instead of counting out where to start the fronts from, and risk making a fatal error, I’ve sewn up the sleeves already and begun from there. It looks a bit lop-sided because I’ve begun one front and not the other.):

The finished Sea Swirls Tablecloth. (You aren’t going to believe me that I ironed it flat now, are you? Obviously my blocking technique needs some work!):

The books are easy, as they don’t require my taking photos.

55. Living Kaddish by Rabbi Gedalia Zweig

As it says on the cover, the stories in this anthology are inspiring, both as to the importance of saying and facilitating Kaddish, and also more generally as to the taking on of commitments. It ends with some resources (explanations, suggestions, translation & transliterations) to help those for whom Kaddish is a new concept or experience. (It is not and does not claim to be a complete study of the subject.)

I am most thankful I wasn’t reading this book in a case of personal need (more because it was around, in fact).

56. Destination Detectives: United Kingdom by Rob Bowden

This was actually a pair of books, from Raintree’s Freestyle and Freestyle Express collections. Each one has the same photographs and basic information on the same page number, however the Express edition is written for those who find reading more difficult, with shorter, less complex sentences, less detail and a bigger font. They would work well in a group setting, where everyone can go to the same page number, and discuss the same pictures and information. This particular pair gives an overview of the United Kingdom, its countries and some of its weird and wonderful customs.

57. Usborne Famous Lives: Captain Cook by Rebecca Levene

Another in this series, and this is probably the person covered that I knew least about beforehand. I did think I’d heard of some controversy over Captain Cook, but this book doesn’t mention it. I could be wrong, quite easily.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

50. Drawing Now : Eight Propositions by Laura Hoptman

An exhibition catalogue (and more) from the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2002. 26 different artists were put into eight different categories (propositions). I read and perused most of this some months ago, but finished it today. Again, learning more about the state of modern art (and Modern Art).

51. Keeping Pets: Cats by Louise & Richard Spilsbury

I read and discussed the Freshwater Fish volume in this series yesterday, and this one is similarly well put together and written, with the same focus on the needs of the animal for proper care.

52. Great Britons: Leaders by Simon Adams

Each of the twenty ‘great leaders’ receives a double page spread, with chronological details, a picture or two (all in black and white) and a very short biography. On most spreads there is also a box with either an anecdote or a couple of lines on other figures of related interest. They are pretty much all the usual suspects (monarchs up to the modern era, then influential politicians, basically). It does make the effort to include both Scottish and Welsh figures of note, rather than just English (and explains that it isn’t including Irish characters from anywhere on the island).

53. The 1930s Scrapbook by Robert Opie

This is a fascinating series, in large format hardback (the quintessential coffee table book), with very short written explanations on each spread of the commercial packaging and advertising shown, showing how fashions and social feeling changed over the decade or period in question. I really like seeing how similar and different the products, brands and styles of advertising are now and then.

54. Step-Up History: Mary, Queen of Scots by Rhona Dick

This is one of the Scottish-focussed volumes of the Step-Up History series, and gives the details of Mary’s life, including the complicated politics she was involved in her whole life, with the impact that had on what would become the United Kingdom(s), and the other major figures involved. (The kind of stuff I mostly learned from and because of the historical fiction I read, it has to be said!)

What shall I tell you?

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

I don’t know how much point there is in telling you that my Seraphina’s Shawl is going really well when my camera isn’t working and I can’t show you. It is though!

That’s not what I’ll be taking to the group tonight, however, as the extra yarn for my housemate’s FrouFrou arrived today (many thanks to my brother and father for getting it!) and I need to get back to it. I amn’t planning on telling her until she asks (or reads the blog, of course) so it can possibly be a little of a surprise after all. So now I just have to work out how the front of that goes. And yes, I’m late in going (about two hours), but I have to wait to let someone in. Lucky the session lasts three hours, isn’t it?

And they’ve arrived, so I’ll tell you about the five books I read today at work later on. Bye!

Quick suggestion response

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

I had it put to me that I was using overmany Hebrew terms without explaining them, so I’ve gone back over all blog posts to do so. Please let me know if there’s anything else.

I’m sorry if a lot of the crochet links don’t seem to work to some people. Once Ravelry comes out of beta they should be accessible to all.