Saturday, September 23, 2017

WIPs to FOs

For several months, I have been jumping around a bit with my stitching. I had several projects started, but throughout the summer, I would often feel restless and at times, none of the started projects were things I felt like working on at a particular time. Some other stuff had to be set aside because it was too uncomfortable to have on my lap, even when I wanted to work on it. I always have different projects using different techniques in progress because that way I can move from one set of hand/wrist/arm movements to another and not end up in pain. This was beyond my usual way of working though. It started to bug me, actually, but it was summer and in addition to my usual difficulties with the season, I also had the pain and the aftereffects from the fall I took a couple of months ago, so I tried not to think about it too much and decided it'd all get dealt with eventually. I did whatever worked to distract me--if I felt like crocheting, I did. Knitting, tatting, crocheting, bit of sewing or cross stitch--whatever I felt like doing on a given day, that's what I did. I completed some smaller projects, but some larger ones just sat in a pile.

Now summer is officially over (I cannot express how thrilled I am by this!), and I am feeling better. The pain has dwindled to a little bit of discomfort that is not even noticeable at times. While it is not as cool as I wish it was, and I am still eagerly awaiting the day when I can close the windows, it is far more pleasant than it was. I am able to work on things that sit on my lap and last weekend, I finished my swoncho (sort of like a sweater-poncho combination). Last night, I finished a poncho I'd started a few months ago.
I went around and around for a long time, deciding how to use this yarn. I've had it for a couple of years, since I walked into the charity shop in Killybegs one afternoon and spotted it--two large hanks of Donegal tweed in a beautiful blue with specks of purple. I made a beeline for it, as you do. The hanks were large, but there were only two of them, so I knew I would not be able to make a sweater, for example. I considered smaller projects--hats, cowls, other accessories--but I already have a hat in a very similar, though thinner, Donegal tweed. I also have a big blue cowl. The yarn was a little bit thick and thin and not something that would wear well for anything like mittens or socks. In the end, I decided to try a poncho. I started knitting it on big needles and it just wasn't working for me. I decided to use a big crochet hook (8mm) and use my go-to stitch combo for when I want to stretch the yarn--the net stitch with ch3 spaces.
I made two triangles of the same size and then joined them, leaving a neck opening. I started each triangle at the bottom point and worked up, increasing at the beginning and end of each row. I crocheted 1 round around the outside of each triangle and two rounds around the neck opening. I have a couple of small scrap balls of yarn left, so this approach worked well for stretching the yarn as far as it would go--yay!

I still have a few more large projects and a couple of smaller ones in progress. Two of the big projects have been ongoing for a while and I know they will not be finished anytime soon. They're large tatted pieces and tatting is not a fast process. I also have a big hand sewing project that will not be done quickly. I don't mind this, since I do like having some projects ongoing that I can easily pick up and put down as the mood strikes. I have a bunch of ideas and plans for new projects, but I am going to try to complete the blanket I am working on, the second sock that is on the needles, and the second crocheted arm warmer to match the one that is upstairs by my bed, before I start anything new. We'll see how that goes! In the meantime, I eagerly await a bit of cooler weather, so I can start wearing more yarny stuff!!

Monday, September 18, 2017


In the spring, I decided to use some of the wool I'd picked up at the charity shop in Killybegs for a warm 'thing.' I was not exactly sure how I would proceed beyond the first bit. As I was making one bit, I was thinking about how to make the next bit. I wasn't sure whether it would be like a poncho, a cardigan, a sweater, or a wrap when I started. At some point, I decided I wanted sleeves and was on the second one when it got too warm to have it on my lap, so I set it aside. Last week, it seemed cool enough to work on it again, so I brought it downstairs and worked on it a bit each day. I did a little more crocheting yesterday and then spent some time weaving in the ends.
It's not quite a sweater and not quite a poncho, so I guess it could be a swoncho.I wanted it loose, but not as wide as a poncho and I wanted sleeves. This way I can wear my backpack and not have everything bunching up too much. The yarn I used was all on cones and somewhere between laceweight and fingering. I used two strands together--sometimes the off white with brown or green Donegal tweed and sometimes the greens together or two brown strands together, using whatever stitches struck my fancy for each section. It's mostly regular crochet, with a couple of panels of Tunisian honeycomb.
After all that crocheting, there is still wool left on the cones. Maybe I will make some fingerless gloves and wait for things to cool down enough for me to wear my new swoncho (and all of my other wonderful winterwear).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Whales and Dolphins at the Library

We went out to do errands this afternoon and instead of saving the fun stop for last, we started at the library. We returned stuff and chatted with Gerard. He'd picked up one of the books I requested at the Carndonagh branch and brought it with him to Moville today, so it was there. It's a novel called Inch Levels, which is the name of a place in Inishowen. The review I read said that it captured the contradictions of life on the Inishowen Peninsula and really illustrated Irish mannerisms and ways of speaking. How could I not request it? Hopefully the story is good, too!

They're using a new courier to move requested material around the country and there are a few glitches, so the rest of the 'in transit' stuff had not arrived. While we were there, someone did drop off a box of stuff, though, and there, at the bottom of the pile, was a Celtic cross stitch book I'd asked for. Great timing!

Inishowen Whales and Dolphins has a nice display up in the library, along with this guy, who is just hanging around 😁🐋
The group put up a nice informational display--this is a piece of it.
After we left the library, we went and got a bunch of groceries, which is not as much fun as the library, but it is nice to have food around the house.

My leg is doing a lot better. I carried home a full backpack, walking uphill and did not have any pain.  There is a slight autumnal feel in the air at times, so hoping I will be able to venture out more often now without feeling crummy afterwards. I do find myself being a little bit fearful of falling again when I am out, but I suppose that will fade eventually--at least I hope so. For now, I am just appreciating the fact that I am healing!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hat by Request

The other day, Bill asked if he could have another hat just like the one he was wearing, but in a different colour. I think he was pretty sure his request would be enthusiastically granted and he was right. 😁 He chose his yarn and I started crocheting. I finished this afternoon.

Here is a close-up of the outside (the colour is off on this--the actual colour is what you see above).
I love this fabric--it's so squishy! I've used this stitch  (hdc worked in the round through the very back loop) many times for hats and other things but today as I was weaving in the ends, I noticed the back side of the fabric in a way I hadn't before. Maybe it was the yarn that made me stop and admire it. I quite like it. The pebbly texture is a nice contrast to the smoothness of the other side.

So Bill has his new hat and I will get back to my larger ongoing projects. It's cooled off a wee bit now, so I can work on a couple of them that will sit on my lap. It'd be good to finish a few of the ongoing projects before starting a new one, but we'll see how it goes. I have been feeling a bit creatively restless lately and moving from thing to thing. Ah well, a few stitches here and a few stitches there and eventually it'll all get finished!

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Rest of the Bunch

Here's the rest of the August book list. I must say, that even though it's much the same outside today as it was yesterday, I am thrilled that we are now into September. I scrolled through a cross-stitch e-magazine from the library this morning and was smiling at all the autumnal charts--leaves, trees, pumpkins scattered throughout. I think I'll start stitching some of them.

A Bird in the Hand by Ann Cleeves
I discovered this author’s Vera series and enjoy it quite a lot. When I was looking her up, I found out that she had written an earlier series (starting in the 1980s) that revolves around a retired couple who are involved in bird-watching. The library didn’t have these, but the e-book section has recently added them, so I am starting at the beginning--this is the first book. I am not familiar with bird watching culture, so that is one interesting aspect of the book. It’s a pleasant cosy mystery with an unexpected (to me, anyway) ending. I enjoyed it and have the next two in the series on reserve.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
I do not remember where I read about this book, but once I did, I requested it from the library. I am so glad I came across it. It was one of those books that, once I’d finished it, left me unsettled and a little bit dazed. There were a lot of things to think about here, but one of the things that kept popping up was the dangers of complacency in a democracy. We learn from the narrator that at some point, some fringe political group came up with the idea that all women over 50 and men over 60 who do not have children or work in some capacity that is ‘useful’ should be brought to units where they have every material thing they could wish for, but who are then asked to ‘do their part’ by taking part in medical experiments and donating body parts. Eventually, this idea moved from the fringe to the mainstream. People in the book, when challenged about the ethics of certain things, would frequently respond that it must be OK, because they live in a democracy. The Atlantic has a good detailed review of the book here, so rather than go into greater detail here, I will refer you to that. This was not a fun read, but it was definitely worth reading.

Silent in Finisterre by Jane Griffiths
The latest poetry collection from this poet. Poems inspired by landscape and houses, esepcially those from childhood. I came across the book while scrolling through the library’s e-book section.

The Ambleside Alibi by Rebecca Tope
This is the second book in the author’s Lake District series. Windermere Witness, which I read earlier this month, is the first. Bill found this one at a pop-up charity shop. Persimmon (called ‘Simmy’) is a newbie in a small village and a florist who has an unfortunate new habit of inadvertently getting involved in murder investigations. In this one, she delivers a birthday bouquet of flowers with a mysterious message to an elderly woman. Not long after, another elderly woman in the same town meets an untimely end. Everyone is connected in the small village and there are many secrets from the past that won’t be secrets forever. I have already downloaded the next two books in the series from the e-book section of the library website.

Come Death and High Water by Ann Cleeves
This is the second in the cosy mystery series featuring George and Molly Palmer-Jones in which bird watching is an ongoing theme. I quite like this series and the author’s Vera series, so I plan to read this one until I reach the end and the other as new books are published. In this book, a group of amateur bird people converge on an island observatory for an annual meeting. The owner of the island announces his plans to sell it, but he is not around long enough to follow through.

Murder in Paradise by Ann Cleeves
This is the third in the Palmer-Jones series. George arrives on the island of Kinness for an annual visit with his friend, the schoolteacher and keen birdwatcher. He comes in on the same boat as Sarah and Jim, the latter a native of the island and the former his new wife. She is excited to be starting a new life on the island. It’s not long before secrets start to bubble up and trouble arrives.

The Consiton Case by Rebecca Tope
The third in the Lake District series of cosy mysteries featuring Simmy, the florist, and a cast of small town characters. This one seemed a bit convoluted with mysterious flower orders leading to misunderstandings, anger, and hurt feelings. But do they have anything to do with murder?

Happy September!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Glad to Have the Books!

I am always really tired by the time August rolls around. Summer and I do not get along and every year, I slowly find myself wearing down as the summer inches along. It seems to take forever and once we hit this time of year, I am in great need of rest. I knew it would be even worse this year, since I did not get the usual winter respite that I rely on. This year it was all compounded by the fall I took at the beginning of the month, so all the annoyances combined to make a month filled with discomfort, pain, and an inability to do much beyond the basics. I was happy, therefore, to have plenty of books around to distract me from August. I read a lot of fluffy stuff, along with a few that were not quite so mindless. And last night, I thought I might settle in with some more fluff, but instead, I crawled into bed at 9:30 and slept and slept and slept. I finished the e-book this afternoon.

So, starting at the beginning, here are some of the books I read in August and a bit about them. I'll post the rest tomorrow.

Maiden Speech by Alice Renton
Susanna and Peter live in Kent with their three young adult children. He is a solitictor and she breeds ponies. Her mother lives in her own dwelling on their property. Peter decides he’d like to try to stand for Parliament. Susanna is not overly excited about the idea, but supports him because it’s important to him. Neither of them think he has much of a chance, but through an unlikely series of events, he wins a seat. Things do not go as planned. The family is put under a good deal of strain and in the end, a desperate plan is hatched to save the day. I picked up this book at a pop-up charity shop and brought it to read on an overnight trip to Sligo. It was perfect for that. It was quite funny at times and I found myself laughing more than once. I was particularly amused by a short comment about Susanna’s mother and her elderly friend becoming interested in foraging for mushrooms. Their interest was piqued by a community ed class they were taking called ‘Death or Dinner?’ Bill did not, for some reason, find this as funny as I did.

After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry
I’d read the author’s second book, The Essex Serpent, and loved it, so I requested this one. I didn’t like it quite as much, but it was a good read. It was weird and I felt like I was not quite sure what was going on in the strange house with the odd cast of characters. Not to give away plot twists, but the story begins with John Cole, a book shop owner, leaving London in the middle of a very oppressive heat wave. He plans to make his was to the home of his brother and his family, but his car breaks down before he gets there. He goes to the nearest house, which is not in the best shape and gives off an odd vibe. Even more odd is the fact that the strange people there seem to be expecting him and they call him by name. The story unfolds from there.

The Windermere Witness by Rebecca Tope
A couple of months ago, Bill picked up some cosy mysteries for me in a pop-up charity shop. One of them was the second book in a series, so I decided to read the first one first, reserving the e-book version. It was an enjoyable read, and perfect timing, since I was in pain from a fall I’d taken. Small town, society wedding, unfortunate and untimely death--whodunit?

The Pale Gold of Alaska and Other Stories by Eilis ni Dhuibhne
Spotted this while in our wee local library branch and being a fan of short stories, picked it up. This is an author I’d not read before. The stories all involved Ireland in some way.

Chef Interrupted: Discovering Life’s Second Course in Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis by Trevis Gleason
This is a book Bill saw and requested from the library. When it arrived, he chose a different book to read first, so I read this one. It is basically the story of and the author’s reflections on 89 days he spent in County Kerry in a cottage he rented after he was diagnosed with MS. He has since come back to Ireland. In his old life as a USian, he was a chef, but his illness caused him to change course. The book is pretty lighthearted, mostly, and it was interesting to read his first impressions. There were sections where he talked about MS and the ways in which he had to cope with the effects of the disease on his body. He includes various recipes in the book. These range from scones and soda bread, to a main course, to a dessert.

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li
I found this collection of short stories when browsing the library e-book offerings. The title is taken from a piece of writing by Katherine Mansfield, who was an important influence on the author. The stories in this collection are autobiographical and deal heavily with mental illness and suicide, as well as writing, choosing to be a writer (as opposed to a scientist, in the author’s case), the influences of other writers, her childhood in China, writing in English, and her relationship with her mother. From start to finish, it felt like an odd book to me. As I understand it, this author is primarily a novelist who does not write autobiographically in her fiction, so this book may be a sort of outlier for her.

I hope you are enjoying the end of summer and have some entertaining reading in your pile, too!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bill's Bounty

Bill went to the garden this afternoon and brought back more goodies! We've been eating good stuff for a while now and it keeps right on coming.

I used a  bunch for supper tonight.
I used some sliced pork and leek sausage from the butcher in Buncrana, some onion, and half of a large green bell pepper, stirring it around in olive oil until the onion was starting to brown (I'd cooked the sausage first in the oven, then sliced it and added to the pan). Then I added the tomato chunks and snipped in a bunch of parsley and fennel, stirring everything just until the tomatoes were heated and the herbs were a little bit wilted. Then I topped some wholemeal pasta with the veggie/herb mixture and snipped on the fresh basil.
It was so yummy and fresh!

We still have plenty of tomatoes and herbs here.
I've been getting stuff in the freezer, too. I've put some green beans in there and some chard--more chard went in today. And still things keep on growing. Yay! Bill's thumb is getting greener!