Saturday, September 28, 2013

Goldberry CAL Day 3

I'm still going strong on the Goldberry Shawl CAL (Crochet-A-Long) that I'm participating in over on Ravelry. Today took me to the end of Row 13.
The color changes are starting to show up, and I'm liking the way they're turning out.  We'll have to see how they continue to work though, as the rows get longer. I'm liking the Paton's Lace yarn works up in terms of texture, although I'm coming up with more questions about it, such as how well it blocks, being mostly acrylic.

One of the neat things with this shawl is the way the pattern is designed to tell the story of the Hobbits' journey to Rivendell, with each row or few rows representing part of the trip. For example, row 13, where I've left off for the night is the start of the section labeled "With Nine Black Riders At Your Tail". It just makes the pattern that much more fun, although I'm looking ahead, and wondering why there's a "Bilbo" row as part of the next section, titled "To Bucklebury Ferry Just In Time".

Learning to Sew - What Would You Recommend?

A couple of weeks ago, I realized how many things I have that need hemming, hem repair, new zipper or elastic replacement and how much that would cost to get done. More than a basic sewing machine would cost, and I remember my Mom teaching me a bit on her old Singer. So, I jumped in and bought myself an inexpensive sewing machine, deciding on the Singer 2259 Tradition, based on the reviews I saw on

However, I didn't get that one right away. Looking around at Canadian Tire, I saw a slightly more basic model of Singer on the shelf, so I bought it. Through no fault of the sewing machine itself, I returned it untried. Obviously someone else before me had bought and returned it - minus some of the parts.

So, after returning it, I looked at my local Michaels craft store on a whim - their website said nothing about sewing machines. Guess what was on the shelf? The Singer 2259 I'd been looking at and trying to figure out how to order.

Got it home, and all the parts were there, the manual was clear and easy to read and I could get started with it right away. Following the instructions for how to thread both the bobbin and the machine itself was simple. In fact, it was almost as though Mom was standing at my shoulder pointing out what to do next - and it's been more than fifteen years I think since she showed me how to use her sewing machine.

However, it's not as easy as all that. I can run the machine, but I don't really know how to do things with it yet. Despite that, I managed to put a sort of a hem on one pair of pants.

So, the next challenge is to learn how to use the sewing machine properly. I found one neat looking book, and I'm finding more interesting looking things in it as I look at it properly; techniques for hand and machine sewing, 'workshops' for different projects etc. There are some downright useful ideas in the book too.

However, as excited as I am to see what I can do with my new acquisition, it's going to have to wait until I have more time. Maybe closer to the end of next month.

In the mean time, does anyone have any suggestions for learning to use a sewing machine?

I do know this, my list of "hey, I could do that" projects and ideas is getting longer, despite not having a clue how to start.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Goldberry Shawl CAL Day 2

I posted yesterday about starting a new shawl project, the Goldberry shawl by Michele DuNaier and I'm participating in the CAL she has going on for it right now over on Ravelry.

Today's progress was slim, I've only finished row 6 so far, and that's with having to unpick row four at one point today. I have discovered that the yarn I've picked for this is somewhat more difficult to rip out - partly because it's laceweight, but mostly because it's got some mohair content, which halos around the yarn a bit. That also makes the stitch definition a bit more fuzzy than I'm used to as well.

On the other hand, the yarn is working up into something that feels wonderfully soft in my hands, and surprisingly, isn't at all scratchy feeling - something I've been worrying about due to the mohair content.

The colours are also behaving quite nicely too. I hadn't done a test swatch at all - I'm sure some of you readers are shaking your heads at me for this - but I don't tend to swatch for shawls or anything where size isn't an absolute concern. I'm too impatient, and I just want to get to the project right away.

I can definitely say that I'm having fun with the project though, and I don't want to put it down.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Starting Another Crochet Project

I have to be insane. I'm still working on the mate to my completed Triumph Crochet Sock, to make a pair of socks, and I gave in to temptation and started working on a new crochet project, the brand new Goldberry shawl pattern from Ravelry.

Part of the reason I've started this shawl today is it's a CAL (Crochet-Along) project in the designer's group. I also couldn't resist because the whole shawl is Lord of the Rings themed, and it's that time of year.

The yarn I'm using is Paton's Lace in the patina colorway:
One ball's still in the factory-wound centre-pull ball in this photo while the other has already been wound into a cake. After the "fun" I had a few months ago with a center-pull ball that turned into a three day tangle, I've since vowed to always wind these balls again myself. Since this photo was taken earlier this evening, I've wound the second ball, and chained the first stitches for the shawl.

The pattern PDF is clear and easy to read and visualize - always a very good thing, and a good omen for me (I've bought several other patterns from this designer).

I have noted that the Paton's lace yarn is fuzzier than I'm used to these days. I'm not sure what that's going to do to the stitch definition and the pattern for the shawl. I only hope that the halo effect and softness don't make it difficult to see where to insert the hook for later stitches. I am using the "G" hook size, so the stitches shouldn't be too tight though.

The CAL officially starts tomorrow, but it seems like most people couldn't wait, so I decided not to as well.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

October New Release Books

It looks like October is going to be a good month for new releases. I know there's one here I've been waiting for in particular.

Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books
Release Date: October 1, 2013

The product description:
Mags returns to the Collegium, but there are mixed feelings--his included--about him actually remaining there. No one doubts that he is and should be a Herald, but he is afraid that his mere presence is going to incite more danger right in the heart of Valdemar. The heads of the Collegia are afraid that coming back to his known haunt is going to give him less protection than if he went into hiding. Everyone decides that going elsewhere is the solution for now. So since he is going elsewhere--why not return to the place he was found in the first place and look for clues? And those who are closest to him, and might provide secondary targets, are going along. With Herald Jadrek, Herald Kylan (the Weaponsmaster's chosen successor), and his friends Bear, Lena, and Amily, they head for the Bastion, the hidden spot in the hills that had once been the headquarters of a powerful band of raiders that had held him and his parents prisoner. But what they find is not what anyone expected.
I know I want to find out what happens in this, the fifth volume of the Collegium Chronicles. This is the book I've been waiting for since last year and the previous release.

J.R. Ward
NAL Hardcover
Release Date: October 1, 2013

The product description:
#1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward explores what really happens when good and evil toy with humanity in her new novel of the Fallen Angels, as the salvation of a doomed soul depends once again on a crossroads...

When Cait Douglass resolves to get over her broken heart, throw off her inhibitions, and start really living, she’s unprepared for the two sensual men who cross her path.  Torn between them, she doesn’t know which to choose--or what kind of dire consequences could follow.

Jim Heron, fallen angel and reluctant savior, is ahead in the war, but he puts everything at risk when he seeks to make a deal with the devil--literally.  As yet another soul is unwittingly caught in the battle between him and the demon Devina, his fixation on an innocent trapped in Hell threatens to sidetrack him from his sacred duty...   

Can good still prevail if true love makes a savior weak?  And will a woman’s future be the key, or the curse, for all of humanity?  Only time, and hearts, will tell.
Definitely for fans of paranormal romance.

Treecat Wars
David Weber and Jane Lindskold
Baen Books
Release Date: October 1, 2013

The product description:
New York Times and Publishers Weekly Best Selling Young Adult Series.  Book Three by international writing phenomenon David Weber. Two young settlers on a pioneer planet seeks to stop a war and to save the intelligent alien treecats from exploitation by unscrupulous humans.

The fires are out, but the trouble’s just beginning for the treecats

On pioneer planet Sphinx, ruined lands and the approach of winter force the now Landless Clan to seek new territory.  They have one big problem—there’s nowhere to go.  Worse, their efforts to find a new home awaken the enmity of the closest treecat clan—a stronger group who’s not giving up a single branch without a fight

Stephanie Harrington, the treecats’ greatest advocate, is off to Manticore for extensive training—and up to her ears in challenges there.  That leaves only Stephanie’s best friends, Jessica and Anders, to save the treecats from themselves.  And now a group of xenoanthropologists is once again after the great secret of the treecats—that they are intelligent, empathic telepaths—and their agenda will lead to nothing less that treecat exploitation.

Finally, Jessica and Anders face problems of their own, including  their growing attraction to one another.  It is an attraction that seems a betrayal of Stephanie Harrington, the best friend either of them have ever had.
I know I enjoyed A Beautiful Friendship, the first book in this teen-oriented spin-off on the Honor Harrington series by David Weber, but I've fallen behind on the series since then. Definitely a series I need to catch up on though.

Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: October 22, 2013

The product description:
What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent
I read and enjoyed Divergent, but never got around to Insurgent. Maybe it's time for a re-read with Allegiant coming out next month.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Triumph Crochet Socks Progress Update

I started crocheting these socks back in the middle of August, as described in my post Hilo Shawl Finished and Socks Started. They're not finished yet, but it's time for some photos and a status update, seeing as I passed the half-way point the other day: the first sock is completed, with ends sewn in and trimmed off.
The yarn is, as I noted, Rowan Fine Art yarn in the Kingfisher colourway, and I love the way it's worked up so far. It also feels great the short times I've worn the sock to check fit, which hasn't needed any adjusting from the pattern as written (the Triumph Crochet Socks pattern on Ravelry).

Maybe it'll be different now I'm on the second sock, but I haven't gotten bored with this pattern either, like I have some of the others I've started, and it's really nice having a small, portable project to work on too, as a change from the shawls and other things I've been doing to date. Easier to work on while travelling for example.

I've heard people say that crochet socks aren't as comfortable as knitted, but I don't know - I've also heard it said that they're more comfortable. Different strokes for different folks I guess. These have a decent amount of stretch, and slide on and off easily enough. The stitch and lace pattern do have some give to them - it's mostly a linked-double-crochet stitch, which was an interesting stitch to learn. I like it though.

One day, I want to learn to knit socks, but for now, I'm happy to crochet them. One of these days I'm going to give the book of crochet sock patterns I bought, Learn To Crochet Socks The Toe-Up Way! by Kim Kotary. I gave one of the patterns an initial try, but got stuck on the toe, not quite understanding what I was being asked to do. Now though, I think it does make sense, at least going from memory, and I want to give the patterns a second try, having done one sock successfully.

Other things I want to try are some different types of heel. I'm not so sure I like the afterthought heel that the Triumph sock calls for. After a couple of tries it made sense though, but it's still another weak-point, being a second join and a third (and fourth) end to sew in. I don't exactly trust my joins for hard use, so it's something I worry about.

Any tips or thoughts on crocheting socks for me to keep in mind for the future? Pattern suggestions would be nice too, either on Ravelry or from other sites, as I know I'm going to make some more socks in the future.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Edition of the Handbook of Indexing Techniques

I just found out thanks to the September edition of The Indexer magazine that there's a new edition of Linda Fetter's Handbook of Indexing Techniques: A Guide For Beginning Indexers out this year. I have the previous edition, though I haven't gotten around to going over it too thoroughly yet, but going by's blurb for this edition, I think I should buy it.

Said blurb:
Linda Fetters' popular Handbook of Indexing Techniques is now available for the first time from Information Today, Inc. in a significantly updated fifth edition that will be welcomed by new, aspiring, and occasional indexers and anyone who teaches indexing.
As in earlier releases, the fifth edition includes clear explanations of indexing techniques along with many helpful examples. In addition to its easy-to-follow "how-to" coverage, you'll find updated information about indexing seminars and training programs, professional organizations, and indexing standards. Chapter 8, "Electronic Documents," has been expanded to include basic coverage of embedded indexing, Cambridge University Press indexing, XML indexing, ebook indexing, web indexing, and taxonomies. And, for the first time, the book's bibliographic references a rich source of suggestions for further reading appear in two separate appendixes, one organized alphabetically and the other by topic.
Given that the previous edition is now more than ten years old, and things have changed a lot over the intervening decade, I think this is worth buying if you're starting out. I know I want to get it, mostly for the new information on e-books and embedded indexing.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Victorian Time Capsule

This is so neat: they found a complete Victorian era kitchen hidden in the basement of this estate. Stove, pots, utensils etc, even a cookbook (I wonder if it was a copy of Mrs. Beaton's like the one described in Alison Maloney's book Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants).

According to the Daily Mail article linked, some of the finds include fire extinguishers, the bells for the servants (which are pictured in the article), and even a few things that have yet to be identified.

Definitely a neat find, and almost unbelievable. After all, how can you "lose" an entire room? I guess enough stuff got piled in front that the door was completely hidden and over the years, it got forgotten about.

Friday, September 6, 2013

In Memoriam - A. C. Crispin

More sad news from the world of writing. A. C. Crispin, who wrote tie-ins in many worlds including Star Trek, Star Wars and Pirates of the Carribbean, as well as her own original science fiction and fantasy novels, died today according to TOR books, who have posted a very nice obituary.

I'm most familiar with her Star Wars novels, particularly the Han Solo trilogy, but it's been a while since I read them - maybe it's more than time for a re-read, and a look at her other works.

A. C. Crispin was also one of the forces behind Writer Beware, which works to alert writers to various issues and potential scams.

The SFWA announcement of her passing
John Scalzi's announcement

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Grow Old Along With Me - Lee Barwood - Short Story

Grow Old Along With Me
Lee Barwood
Catfantastic V
Copyright: 1999

On my last read through of Catfantastic V, which I have read and reviewed on here before, it was Lee Barwood's short story Grow Old Along With Me that really stuck in my head as a favorite story.

This is a story that I really wish could be true for so many people. And yet some parts of the story are too true as it is. Reading Grow Old Along With Me left me with a lump in my throat this last time, and I'm re-reading it now as I write this review with the same result.

The story is told from two points of view. That of the cat, and that of Eric, husband and caregiver. His wife has Alzheimer's and he's determined to care for her at home as long as he can. The relationship between the two is so beautifully described - both the past and the present.

One thing about Grow Old Along With Me is that it reminds me in a way of the P.M. Griffin short stories I've reviewed from other Catfantastic anthologies: In Bastet's Service and Partners. At the same time it's completely it's own story and world.

I just wish the ending of this story wasn't fiction and could happen in our world. Such a beautiful story that leaves me going "if only" and "I wish" every time I read it.


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