28 January 2018

Eyes. Teeth. Hands. Knitting.

Well, that post title should set you to wondering, right?  It's not as mysterious as it sounds, though it describes the main parts of my weekend, which started on Friday this time, when I took the day as a sick day because I  had two appointments - one in the middle of the morning, one in the middle of the afternoon - that made it pretty useless time-wise to even go to work.

Friday morning I had a follow-up at the eye doctor's office.  When I was there about a month ago for my annual exam, it was found that my tear glands were blocked.  So I was given eye drops and medication and told to come back in a month to see how things were.  The verdict was that things were improved, but I have to continue the regimen and return again at the beginning of March.  I also picked up my new glasses.  I wear trifocals,* and usually just one of the areas has a changed prescription, but this time it was all three parts (so now my eyes are failing me too??).  As a result, it's gonna take a bit to adjust to the new glasses, but boy can I see things better!  I had no idea I was missing anything ...

OK, so it was time for a break between appts.  I came home, ate some lunch, and cuddled with the kitties for a little while before heading to a dentist appt with a dentist who was new to me.  I have been going to the same dentist for years, and then about two years ago, he sold the practice when he and his wife moved to Canada, where she had gotten a teaching job.  The people he sold the practice to were nice, but it was increasingly one of those places where they were pushing products and procedures, and as far as I'm concerned, it's bad enough to be at the dentist's office, I don't need the hard sell on top of it!  (The Tim always finds it amusing that, with all the other stuff I've had to deal with health-wise, the thing I dread most is going to the dentist.  But I digress.)

I left that appt with newly cleaned teeth, a referral to an endodontist (ugh), and most surprisingly - soft, smooth hands!  WHAT?  Well, at this office, they offer a complimentary paraffin hand wax while you are getting your teeth cleaned.  I'd never had one, so I figured I'd try it.  It was lovely, and a nice counter to the feeling and sound of them scraping my teeth.  And best of all, no pressure to buy a certain product, have my teeth whitened, etc.  I hope that continues, especially since this office is even more convenient than the previous dentists' office was.

All of that activity was on Friday, so yesterday I was pretty lazy all day.  Other than a few small chores, I just read, knit, and watched stuff with The Tim.  We watched "Get Out" which is one of the Best Picture nominees.  It was enjoyable, but also really creepy.  But so good!  While we watched that, I added two squares to my blanket, so it was productive as well.  Then last night we caught up on some recorded TV, and and I added another square to make another row, which was new and challenging for me.  I have no expectations (or desire, frankly) to hurry up and finish this project, so I'm enjoying watching it grow bit by bit.  Here's how it looks after yesterday.

(Look at the watermelon square!!!!!  So far, it's my favorite.)

Not much that's exciting on the agenda for today.  I want to do some cleaning, another load of laundry, pay some bills, and then just read or knit or stare into space or whatever I feel like doing!  At some point I'll fix us some dinner, but otherwise there is nothing I absolutely *must* do, and that's fine with me. 

I hope you have had a good weekend as well.  And here's hoping that the coming week will be one that just goes along as it should for all of us.  Take care!

*I have worn bifocals or trifocals since I was in my 30s.  It amuses me when people are so bummed by having to wear them, or refuse to wear them because they don't want to be seen as "old."  I'll take seeing over vanity any day!

24 January 2018

Sometimes Basic Is Better

Well, since I last posted, the Philadelphia Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl!  I have to admit that I (as well as a lot of other people here) keep thinking to myself, "Did that really happen?"  But it did, and it's been fun to see how excited people are about it all.  (And annoying to see how many people are so morally superior and want you to know they are above liking sports.  Because they NEED for us to know.  Sigh.)  Even The Tim is excited, which is saying a lot!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I frogged and started over a pair of socks I'd been knitting, even though I'd gotten to the start of the gusset.  I wanted to make a pair of socks for The Tim, and hoped to do something different than the usual, basic sock.  I was going along, liking the look of the socks, but once I did the heel and started on the gusset, I realized that the way the yarn was, the foot of the sock would look really different than the leg, and I didn't like the result.  So to the frog pond it was, and in the end, the basic sock was started because I think it is what agrees best with this yarn.  I've made some progress - a few more inches and it will be heel flap time.

As for reading, I'm currently reading this book, and so far, it's been really fun and entertaining:

I'm also listening to the audiobook version of this one, part of the Flavia de Luce series:

I really enjoy this series, and it's even better (in my opinion) in listening form, as the person reading them is so good at doing the voices of the various characters.  Hearing Flavia's commentary is even funnier than reading it!

That's all for now.  What you working on and reading?  Do you enjoy audiobooks at all? 

I'm joining Kat and some others for Unraveled Wednesdays, so head over there if you want to see what else is being knit and read ...

21 January 2018

Spinning - Wheels, Not Yarn

Did you ever have one of those days?  You know, when you are ready to do something and no matter what you start, it either doesn't work, or you don't have all the parts, or whatever else happens, nothing moves forward?  That was my day today - spinning my wheels but going nowhere.  Oh well.

I'm starting to improve as far as feeling crappy goes, so that's good.  My headache is gone, as is my really sore throat, which is a relief.  I still don't feel great, but I can function and as long as I don't push it, I'm fine.  The cough and congestion are still hanging in, but they always do.  As long as they don't get worse I can live with it until it gets better.

So - remember the sock I said I'd started the other day?  Well, I got as far as starting the gusset this morning, and decided that it wasn't going to look good since the foot would look completely different than the leg.  I frogged and started over, and even though that means that the pair for January likely won't be finished in January, it does mean that I'll be happier with the finished pair.  And since they are for The Tim, I want them to be something he'd like as well.  But that kinda started my backwards motion for the day, I guess.

Having said all of that, I will take backwards motion if it means that the Eagles have forward motion in their favor. :-)

18 January 2018

Three Things I Didn't Need This Week

Hello and Happy Three on Thursday!  I've been MIA for a few days, but am finally in good enough shape to write a post, so I figured why not talk about three things?

My three things for today are Three Things I Didn't Need This Week.

1.  The crud that everyone has been getting.  Yesterday and today I have stayed home from work, I felt so miserable.  Sore throat, headache, congestion, cough - you know what I'm talking about.  Ugh.  Today I feel a bit more like I am in the world of the living, and unless I have some terrible relapse later or overnight, I can at least make it in to work tomorrow and get some things out of the way before the weekend.  But really, no one needs to feel this way!

2.  Yet another medication to take.  I already take approximately 450 pills every day for various conditions, but apparently I need to add one more.  I had my yearly physical last Friday, and the dr ordered a full panel of blood tests.  She called yesterday to say I had Vitamin D levels that were too low, so she wants me to start taking that until I see her again in four months.  Sigh.  I mean, it could have been much worse, I am aware of that, but sometimes I feel like a poster child for those who take too much medicine.  On the plus side, a previous mile-long receipt from CVS had a $5.00 off coupon for a CVS brand, so I managed to get a bottle of Vitamin D tablets for only $4.00.  This week, I'm calling that a win.

3.  Self-consciousness.  I posted one of the photos in my post about my For the Birds Sweater in a knitting group I am part of on Facebook.  I got quite a few nice compliments, but one person who is also a good acquaintance commented, "Well, at least your boobs look fabulous!"  First of all, not a fan of "boobs" or jokes relating to them for the most part, but also I am somewhat self-conscious since one of my breasts is larger than the other, due to various medical procedures.  It's not really noticeable to anyone but me, but I am very conscious of making sure my clothes do not accentuate it.  And to be honest, it made me worry for a nanosecond, which is too long, and also it hurt my feelings that someone I know would have said that.  I know she was joking, but for that nanosecond, I felt uncomfortable, and I hate that it made me feel that for even that long. 

White People Problems, as my sister would say.  :-)

In other news, my brief hiatus from knitting has ended.  My right elbow was bothering me, both from osteoarthritis and a version of tennis elbow, so I wasn't really able to knit.  But it's much better, so I was able to cast on a pair of socks and get started, which really made all three of the things above seem much less terrible. 

So on to Friday, the weekend, and getting rid of this ick!  I hope your week has gone better than mine to this point. 

12 January 2018

Final FO of 2017 and Grand Finale Mosaic

If you had told me that during 2017, I would finish one sweater and make another from start to finish, I would have wondered what you were smoking.  But I managed to surprise myself by doing just that.  As you know if you've been reading a while, the long saga of my Cranberry Custom Fit Sweater was finally completed this past October.  That was amazing enough.  But then, I started another one - that makes TWO items of clothing - who am I???

So before I move on to 2018 knits (which so far do not exist), I wanted to show you the FO of the aforementioned second item of clothing.  

(lace detail of lower hem)

Project:  For the Birds Top (why do I call it that? You can find out here.)
Pattern:  Main Street, by Megan Nodecker
Yarn:  Quince & Co. Tern, colorway Dusk, 4.25 skeins
Needles:  US size 4 and 5
Modifications:  I did make the sleeves a tiny bit longer than the pattern directed.

Notes:  I have absolutely nothing but love for this project.  From start to finish, it was a happy event.  Granted, I had to cast on 200+ stitches several times, and I got about 1 inch into it when I realized it was twisted, but once I got back on track, all systems were go.  

I'm not sure where I first saw this pattern, but I immediately loved it, and decided I was gonna give it a try.  The little bit of lace detail at the bottom would be a challenge, but I decided I could do it (and I did!).  The pattern is really clear, really well-written, and at no point do you have to say, "Wait - where was I" or "OMG this is sooo confusing!" - which for me, happens way more than it should!  

The yarn was just lovely to work with, so soft, never splitty, never knotted.  And the skeins were easily windable, which sadly, is not always the case.  The color is a kind of lavender gray - I think it will look slightly different depending on the light, but also what you wear with it.

I will definitely knit this pattern again.

When I went to buy needles to use, the only in the cable length I needed that they had in stock were the Lykke needles that everyone has been talking about.  They were reasonably and comparably priced, and I liked them a lot.  They were smooth and the joins to the cable were not in any way problematic.

The absolutely best part - the FO fits me perfectly!  To quote The Tim, "It looks like it was made for you. [brief pause ] Oh, wait ..."  It's really comfortable, and I can see wearing it quite a bit.

I'm adding the photo below because it's my favorite of the ones taken, even though it's blurry.  Jack didn't want anything to happen where he might be left out!

2017 was a pretty amazing year for me, knitting-wise.  I knit more things than ever in my life - 11 pairs of socks, 2 shawls (WHAT??)), 2 sweaters (COME ON!!), a hat, and a pair of fingerless mitts with individual fingers.  I also tackled lace and some colorwork, and lived to tell the tale.  :-)  Here is a little photo mosaic I made of my projects.

(From left to right:  Box o' Socks, Baa-ble Hat, Annoying Pumpkins, Mixed Berries Socks, Bridget's SS# Socks, Fradentical Holly Berry Socks, Summertime Solar Socks, Ms. Dumbledore Socks, Park Slope Blackbird Shawl, Hannah Socks, Cranberry Custom Fit Sweater, Texture Blue Socks, Tim's Fingerless Mitts, Mojito Socks, Scattered Wishes Shawl, Weird Colorblock Socks, Winter Berries Socks, For the Birds Top.  All details for these on Ravelry.)

I'm pleased that I challenged myself, and that I kept going.  I learned some new skills and tricks, and gave myself a real boost in confidence with my knitting.  I have to tell you, this was the best part of 2017 for me, which was otherwise a questionable year (at best) overall.  

How about you?  Was last year a good knitting year for you?

I hope that 2018 makes me as happy to think about by this time next year.

Have a good weekend!

08 January 2018

In Which I Decide To Try For Another Box o' Socks in 2018

Apparently, the Box 'o Socks activity - whereby knitters try to knit at least 12 pairs of socks that they keep in a box until January of the following year - has been around for a while now; however, I only heard of it once I started watching the Yarngasm knitting podcast.  (The link takes you to Kristin's review of everyone's 2017 efforts.  She manages the official KAL.)

As you know, I seldom participate in any "official" KALs, because inevitably, I feel [my own self-imposed] pressure, and have even occasionally failed to knit anything at all related to said KAL.  But this one just sounded like fun, and I enjoyed seeing everyone's socks, both on Ravelry and on podcasts.  So for 2017, I decided I was going to give it a try, but "unofficially."  And I surprised myself by completing 11 pairs over the course of the year, which are now out of the box and in my sock drawer (except for the holiday pair, put away with my other Christmas socks for next December).

Two of these pairs (the Winter Berry socks on the far left and the Fradentical Holly Socks wouldn't have qualified for the official KAL anyway, since that requires socks knit from fingering/sock yarn only.  They qualify for me, 'cause I did my own thing, which is what you can do really with any knitting endeavor, but I digress ...

So anyhoo, I've given it some thought, and I'm gonna unofficially participate again this year.  For one thing, it really motivated me to do more knitting in general; it provided a great opportunity for using stash - only the Mojito socks (top, third from left) were knit from newly-purchased yarn; it made me try more patterns also in my pattern stash, which allowed me to learn some new things; and, possibly the best of all, it was so much fun to have 11 new pairs of socks, and the reminders of what/when/where I knitted them, that it made my really happy!

I've also decided that I'm going to do my own thing again this year, and even add another factor:  I'm going to try and make at least two pairs for The Tim.  Not just because he deserves them, but because it will mean I'll knit them without waiting until the last minute for his birthday or Christmas, and they'll be right there and ready.

I know Dee said she might give the Box o' Socks a try, so it will be fun to see what she knits.  I really had fun with it last year, and hope to enjoy it all even more this time around.

Will I make 12 pairs this year?  Will any actually be for The Tim?  Will I make even one pair?  Will I ever learn?

You'll just have to stay tuned ...

06 January 2018

Another FO With a Mistake, But It's For me So That's Fine

Well, apparently this was the Christmas Where Bridget Was Distracted While Knitting, because today's FO has a couple of weird mistakes.  However, since I was making these for myself, I decided not to sweat it.

Pattern:  Simple Holly Socks, by Mary Dominski
Needles:  Size US4
Yarn:  Blackberry Ridge Woolens Northwoods (discontinued, I think) in the colorways Blackberry, Green, and White
Modifications:  None that were intentional ...

Notes:  I bought a kit for these a LONG time ago, when I first learned to knit, and decided that if you could knit Christmas socks, I wanted to learn to knit socks! (And the rest, of course, is history.)  The kit sat for many years; last year, I actually wound the yarn, but did nothing about it.  Then I decided this year was the year.

First off, let me say that I do really like this pattern, and will likely make it again.  But OMG, the yarn in the kit was the WORST.  It is a 50/50 cotton-wool blend, with absolutely no give, and really hard  on the hands to use.  I also suspect it will not wear well.  Also, in the kit there was a HUGE amount of the main color, and the white, and barely enough to make sure you could do the sections with green.  

As you can see, one sock has two white rounds at the top that are noticeable but nothing near the foot.  That's the one I knit first, and I think I was so anxious to get it finished, and be closer to being done with the yarn, I completely forgot to do the final rows of white.

The other sock has the white rounds at the top that are barely visible, and I know what happened with both of them.  The first round (above the holly) I was doing as I was watching the Army/Navy football game, which ended up being a nail biter to the very end!  The next day, I was knitting while watching the Eagles/Rams game, also a nail biter to the very end!  However, I didn't notice that I'd done one round instead of two until I was at the heel.  And no way was I ripping back!  I did, however, remember to do the two white rounds near the toe.  

So, they are not quite fraternal twins, nor are they identical, hence the name "fradentical."  They are the final pair for my 2017 Box o' Socks, and I'll have them for Christmas next year.:-)

I do have another FO from 2017 to show you, once I get some photos of it, which will hopefully be this week.  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and the last day of Christmas!

05 January 2018

An FO and Ruined Christmas Averted!

As I'm sure you could tell from reading my blog over the past month or so, or if you had talked to me in person, awfulness and stress at my work increased a hundredfold during the month of December.  To the point where, if I dropped my comb in the morning while getting ready, I'd have a ten-minute crying jag and just want to get back into bed. 

The only thing that saved me was that it was Christmastime, which you may also have noticed, is a time I really do love.

Anyway, by the time I got into December, the only 2017 projects that I had waiting to be finished were the fingerless mitts I was making for The Tim, my Holly Berry Socks, and my For the Birds sweater top.  I was really hoping I'd get them all completed, but I *definitely* wanted to finish the mitts, since they were a gift.  With everything else going on and other preparations, I didn't get to them as soon as I'd thought I would.  But since I only had the thumb on the second one to do, and then weave in the ends, I wasn't really too worried.

Well, I did successfully finish them, gift them, and they have been admired and already worn a lot.  All's well that ends well, right?  

It was *getting* to that ending that is the story ...

Project:  Tim's Christmas Mitts
Pattern:  Iron Horse Mitts, by Emily Butzi
Needles:  US size 2 (cuff ribbing) and 3 (remainder of mitt)
Yarn:  Reflections at Roclans Out of the Dyepot Merino Fingering; no colorway or dye lot listed, but the color is (obviously) green.  I think I received this yarn a while back in a swap.
Modifications:  The pattern is written for US size 2 needles throughout; I wanted a tight cuff, so I used the size 2 for that and size three for the rest of the mitt, so they would be comfortable but not restricting.

Notes:  Well, as you can see, they fit The Tim's hands and look just fine.  (You will also notice he is incapable of having a photo of a knitting project that he is wearing just be a normal photo.  No, that won't do.)  I will say from the get-go that the pattern is worth purchasing, and is really, really well-written and understandable, making it an enjoyable project.  And the yarn is truly wonderful - soft, strong, not splitty at all, and just lovely to use.

So ... back to getting these finished.  Saturday, December 23, I woke up at my usual time, which is hours earlier than The Tim gets up.  The last day of work had been the day before, and I was feeling so great, and so happy, and so relaxed, that I decided I would knit that last thumb right then.  That would give me time to weave in the ends, give the mitts a mist to block them, and then later that day or the next, I could wrap them up.  

I pulled out the first one, so that I would have it at the ready and not frantically start looking for it at the last-minute.  Then I pulled out the one that only needed the thumb.  

The second one was SO SMALL and SO TIGHT that it wouldn't have even fit one of the cats!  I kept setting it on top of the other one, and putting my hand over it, like somehow that would make it grow.  I really couldn't register what was happening.  At least not right away.

Apparently, I was so distracted, anxious, and depressed when I had been knitting the second one, I had made a fingerless mitt for a gnome, or leprechaun, or any other tiny character you can imagine - and I didn't even notice it!

Now - even two days before then, this would have caused me to spiral downwards quickly, lose my s**t altogether, and it would have ruined ALL of Christmas for me.  But given when it happened and my state of mind, I just laughed really hard until I cried.  And I couldn't wait to tell The Tim the story.

I wrapped up the one mitt, put the other one out of my sight, and just forged ahead.  When he opened it on Christmas Day, he said, "Oh wow, this is great!  I'll admit I'd hoped for a pair, though."  We had a good laugh over it, and later that afternoon I cast on the second one again.  In two more days, it was completed, correctly sized, and without any drama.  

So far I haven't been able to find the mini one I put out of my sight.  I know I didn't toss it, because I wanted to show it to him eventually, but right now I have no idea in the world where it is.  

And that, my friends, is the story of this FO, and how it happened at a time when it became a funny story, rather than a tragedy that ruined Christmas ... :-)  A true example of how timing makes all the difference.

Have a good last weekend of Christmastime!

04 January 2018

Three Happy Things

Getting to work today was a true challenge.  Conditions were really treacherous, and my usual 20-minute walk took over an hour. Fortunately, there were *very* few cars on the road, so that was definitely a plus.  I know it's gonna get worse before it gets better, so I am already not treasuring the idea of making my way home later.  Windy snow in the face is painful, you know?  

Having said that, I will say that I am glad we are not having another wimpy winter.  I don't want people to be killed, etc. as a result of the snow and ridiculously low temperatures, but as a person who was aggravated by temperatures in the 70s during November, I feel like at least things are the way they should be now, if a bit extreme.  What can I say, I'm not a warm/hot weather person ...

In any event, today I am sharing a post for Three on Thursday, and it's about three things that were especially pleasing to me during Christmastime.

I very seldom purchase something myself and then give it to The Tim to wrap up as a Christmas gift, but this year was an exception.  I saw these two yarns and this project bag in two different Etsy stores, and decided that I really wanted to have them.  So I bought them, and then gave them to him to wrap up for me.  The best part was, between then and Christmas, I'd completely forgotten about any of it, so it was a complete surprise when I opened the box he'd put them into together.

The Rudolph project bag is from MollyKleinDesign, and just seeing it makes me so happy.  The yarns pictured are both from SweetSparrowYarns, and I'm sure you will understand why I ordered them when you see the names.  On your left is Rudolph and Clarice, and on the right is Yukon Cornelius.  It's like she got into my brain and made yarn based on one of my most favorite things in the world!  I saw the colorways in her shop after the holidays last year, and sent her a note asking if she made them every year.  She responded yes, and that she was even considering down the road adding more based on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" - be still my heart!  So this year when I saw the listings, I got them as soon as I got paid.  Right now, I'm thinking that Rudolph and Clarice will become a pair of Christmas socks for me, and I'll make a pair for The Tim in the Yukon Cornelius colorway.  Happy happy happy!

I don't remember where or when I first hear about this book, but once I saw it and read about it, I knew that it was something I wanted to have.  It's a small book in physical size, but oh, the treasures inside!  She writes about books and libraries, and how they helped to inspire the patterns included.  I mean, come on, how could I not love this book?  Even just looking through it makes me feel happy and calm, as the settings for the photographs are gorgeous.  I pre-ordered it, and coming from Europe, it took a while to arrive even once published, but it was well worth it.  Karie Westermann seems like someone who would you could sit and drink tea with while discussing books and knitting - throw in an animal for company, and I would be in nirvana!

The third thing that is happy to me has already been mentioned here, but I'm including it nonetheless.  I had bought some yarn at Loop a few months back with a particular project in mind.  It hadn't been wound into balls, or even taken  out of the bag, since I didn't want to even consider getting started on said project until after the holidays were over, and I'd finished my 2017 knitting.  Last week when I pulled it out to prepare to get started, I realized that although I still liked it well enough, I didn't feel the love, you know?  So I returned it!  I now have a gift card to use for whatever I decide to buy in the future.  This is really exciting to me, because even though I did in fact spend the money already a few months ago, when I want to use the gift card, I'll feel like whatever I am buying is free!  (Yes, that's how my mind works.)  The anticipation is as much fun as eventually using it will probably be.  :-)

Have a good day, everyone, and stay as safe and warm as you can! 

03 January 2018

Ravelling Into the New Year

I must admit that there is a certain level of comfort in the new year, knowing that some things will remain, like Unraveled Wednesdays.  I always enjoy reading posts from everyone, especially people who are new to me.

So what am I sharing today?  Well, this has been my 2018 knitting so far - the start of a Cozy Memories Blanket, using this pattern.  

When I saw Dee last week, and saw her blanket in person, I said that I planned to start mine on New Year's Day, and so she gave me a ball of yarn to use.  It's the red and white striped one, and the first one I knit, since that seemed so appropriate.  The second square is leftover yarn from my Hannah Socks.  I'm finding it fun but am at the point where I still need to play close attention so I won't make a mess of it.  I'm also getting ready to cast on a pair of socks, but that hasn't happened yet.

As for reading, I've had this one on my Nook for a while, and decided to finally give it a try.

It sounds like it could be a fun read.  I'll let you know.  :-)

OK, lunch hour is over, so that's it for now. 

02 January 2018

Book Report : Last Reads of 2017

First of all, Happy New Year!  I thought about writing a post yesterday, but obviously never actually got around to it.  Such is life.

I seriously finished my last book of 2017 on the morning on December 31, 2017.  And it was a perfect book to end the year.  Having said that, here's what I read in November and December, and what I thought about it.

The Blackhouse, by Peter May.  I liked this book.   It was extremely evocative, and not really exactly what I was expecting when I got started.

Detective Fin Macleod grew up on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland, but left for university as soon as he got the chance.   After not completing his university studies, he joins the police force in Edinburgh.  When a really brutal killing on the Isle has all of the earmarks of a similar recent case in Edinburgh, Fin is sent back home to participate in the investigation.  

So - the book begins as a murder mystery.  And it does form the frame for the story, but in a lot of ways the book is more about Fin coming to terms with the people and places in his past.  The resolution of the murder plays into the whole thing, but what I found really interesting was learning more about Fin and his life as a child and young man.  The story is basically a quiet one, but full of unexpected turns and sadness, as we learn about the friends he knew who are still living on the island.

Not an amazing book, but a good one, and very readable.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, by Cherise Wolas.  I really wanted to like this book, having read interesting reviews of it.  But I just couldn't get into it, or care about Joan Ashby.  I have other books to read, so I'm moving on.

Come Hell or Highball, by Maia Chance.  This book was a fun read.  It's 1923, and Lola Woodby's rich husband, Archie, had died of a heart attack.  She soon learns that the fortune she was counting on inheriting no longer exists.  At the cemetery after his funeral, she is approached by "one of Archie's chorus girls" about retrieving a film reel that she worries will get her in trouble.  Though at first, Lola scoffs at the mere idea, eventually she realizes that she needs money, so along with her Swedish cook Berta, they decide to do some detective work.

This book is just what it should be - fun, readable, and a lovely way to spend some time.  I'll definitely try another in the series.

Buried, by C. J. Carmichael.  This book was good enough to be worth reading, just not great.  

Donal Lachlan is a successful true crime writer living in NYC.  He gets an e-mail out of the blue one day asking if he knows about a series of killings in and near his hometown in Oregon, where all of the victims were librarians.  A name is provided, and out of curiosity, he does some poking around and finds it's the name of a librarian found mysteriously murdered years ago.

Since his sister is getting married, he decides to head back home, both to try and talk her out of marrying the guy, a former childhood friend of Donal's that he has realized is a cruel jerk, and then also to do more research into the murder while the sources would be more local.

He receives additional e-mails from his mysterious correspondent regarding the other murders, and as a result of his research, becomes involved with the town librarian.  This is where the book became annoying.  The author spent an inordinate amount of text talking about how the prim, proper librarian was really a sexy gal.  Every stereotype was employed here.  It felt jarring to me, and also kept me from liking the book more.

The eventual reveal of the killer was not a complete surprise to me.  The story and the characters had potential that I thought was kind of wasted.  I don't know if I'll read the next in the series or not.

A Knitter's Home Companion : A Heartwarming Collection of Stories, Patterns, and Recipes, by Michelle Edwards.  I gave this book two stars because 1 star apparently means you didn't like something and 2 stars means it was OK.  And that's what this was.  Not wonderful, not terrible, just OK.

I guess my biggest question is, why is this even a book?  It is a series of brief recollections by the author of knitting and what it has meant during her life.  Which is fine, but it just doesn't seem like book material to me, having read it.  I think the stories are lovely, the patterns are fine, as are the recipes.  But I am just puzzled as to how she managed to have it published.

I've read other books where the author or authors talk about what knitting has meant to them, etc., and they have just resonated more with me than this one did.

A Stillness in Bethlehem, by Jane Haddam.  When Gregor Demarkian and his companions head to Bethlehem, Vermont to see the famous town's Nativity play, they are thinking it will be a lovely holiday break for all of them.  Particularly for their priest friend, Tibor, who is stressed out over helping resettle refugees in their Philadelphia neighborhood.

Demarkian is particularly recognizable, having just helped solve a murder case that happened near Thanksgiving, and getting coverage in the national news.  So when two of the townspeople are murdered using the same gun, on the same day, the local police ask him for help.   Though not officially on the case, he is intrigued with aspects of it, and ends up becoming familiar with many of the town's residents and their intrigues.

This was an enjoyable read, and a good mystery.

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? : And Other Questions You Should Have Answers To When You Work in The White House, by Alyssa Mastromonaco.  I expected to like this book more than I did.  I think it needed additional editing, and a more cohesive structure.

Maybe I am super critical because I have worked on Capitol Hill and think that it could have been written in a more engaging manner.

How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny.  Louise Penny does it again with this book.  Though the story is somewhat different than the usual ones, it's still really good reading.

It's Christmastime, and Armand Gamache is continually feeling the push that his superiors are giving for him to retire.  They are doing everything possible, from taking his good agents and reassigning them, to making everything he does look either bad or as if it's a mistake.  Fortunately, the Chief Superintendent Brunel and her husband are on his side, and are trying to see what is going on in cyberspace to discredit Gamache and who leaked a video of a raid he led that went wrong.

In the meantime, his friend Myrna in Three Pines asks him to look into the disappearance of one of her friends.  As Gamache and his right hand agent Isabelle LaCoste investigate, they find out the friend has been murdered, and they begin to investigate that.

A lot happens in this book, but as usual, it doesn't happen quickly or easily.  The Brunels find information that leads to Gamache and that couple leaving Montreal for Three Pines, so they can be off the grid while making a plan.  Myrna's murdered friend turns out to be someone of note and her story is involved and twisted as well.  

This entire book kept me reading - from the first page, when a seemingly unrelated incident is described, to the end, where to some extent, things are resolved.  And Gamache and his wife retire to Three Pines, where he says he just wants to lead a nice quiet life.  But Madame Gamache suspects he will still investigate things when needed ...

I love this series, and will definitely continue reading.  Fortunately, there are many after this one, so I won't run out of things to read for quite a while!

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, by Vicki Delany.  This is the first in a new series, and I will definitely read the next one!

Rudolph, a city in upstate New York, is starting another season as the premier destination for Christmas celebrations.  Formerly a town that wanted to be known for a resident who was a hero in the War of 1812, they have switched to being America's Christmas City after finding the tales of the "hero" were false.

The season is kicking off with the Great Parade, and a reception afterwards.  Everyone is excited because a well-known international travel writer is visiting to do an article on the town.  The problem is, that after the reception, he is found dead on the lakeshore by the main character, Merry Wilkinson, while she is walking her dog.  When an autopsy shows he was poisoned, things get tense and ugly really fast.  

Each time something seems to get things back on track, another incident occurs, and the town has to scramble again to keep tourists coming.  

This was an enjoyable holiday read, and in my opinion, a good mystery, in that I really had no idea who might be behind the crimes, and the reveal was a surprise (at least to me).  

Plus, what's not to love about a town that REALLY celebrates Christmas??

Jingle Bell Bark, by Laurien Berenson.  This was a fun read.  Melanie Travis is a breeder of Standard Poodles, as well as working as a special education tutor at a local school.  When the driver of the school bus her son rides every day is murdered, she and her Aunt Peg take it upon themselves to find homes for the deceased gentleman's two Golden Retrievers, but they are also curious as to who poisoned him with anti-freeze.  

All of this is happening in the weeks before Christmas, so as if she doesn't have enough to do, Melanie tells Aunt Peg she'll help her try to figure out what happened.

Fun, with lots of interesting information about dogs, breeders, and the dog show circuit.

Mr. Dickens and His Carol, by Samantha Silva.  I enjoyed this book, though it didn't quite give me the kind of story I'd hoped to read.

It takes place in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas.  Charles Dickens' wife has just given birth to another baby, and though he is one of England's most popular and recognizable people, things are tough.  His latest work, "Martin Chuzzlewit," is not doing well, and funds are low.  When his publishers, Mr. Chapman and Mr. Hall, tell him they need for him to write a Christmas book so that everyone's finances will improve, he is both insulted and resistant.

The rest of the book takes us on a trip of the weeks after that, when he finds someone wanting a handout at every turn, but also finds a muse who helps him decide what to write.

The book was interesting to me not so much for the fictionalized account of how the story was written, etc., but for descriptions of London at the time, and for the way it wove Dickens' struggle into what eventually became one of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time.

The Heart of Henry Quantum, by Pepper Harding.  Henry Quantum leaves his office two days before Christmas to purchase a gift for his wife - a bottle of Chanel No. 5 to be exact.  The book is the story of Henry, his marriage, and his life and how in one single day, he sees clearly what it has all been about.

It was OK, but not that engaging. I didn't really like any of the characters that much.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney.  My final read for 2017, and really appropriate.

The book opens on New Year's Eve, 1984.  Lillian Boxfish hangs up from a phone call with her son, and decides that it's time for a walk.  The walk turns out to be bittersweet, as she passes places that have many memories from her long life, while also visiting some new places with new people.

Liliian is a woman who decided as a young girl that she wanted to spread her wings.  She moves to New York City, inspired by her Aunt Sadie, a woman who remained single, had a career, and always seeemed exciting to Lillian.  Eventually she becomes the highest paid female advertising copywriter in the country, working for R. H. Macy's.  She becomes a success and a fixture in the social scene, managing to do well even during the Depression.

Somewhat unexpectedly, she does what she never thought she would do - get married and have a child.  Since women did not continue working after having children during  her time (pre-Mad Men days), she continues freelancing, but is just never quite the same.  Eventually she gets divorced, but remains in the apartment where she lived when married.

It is from there that she goes on her epic walk around Manhattan.  By the time she arrives home, it is 1985, and she has visited most of the meaningful places from her life, met some new people, talked to some old friends, and even been mugged!   Being who she is though, she decides to see what happens next in the life she has left.

An afterword in the book said that Lillian was loosely based  on Margaret Fishback, who at one time was in fact the highest paid female ad copywriter in the nation.  I am intrigued to learn more about her.

This is an enjoyable book to read, especially at New Year's time, when I for one can not help but be nostalgic.  I just hope I can look forward to the rest of my life like Lillian does.

Goodreads tells me that I read 67 books during 2017.  Being me, I wish it had been an even number, but it's more important to just read and see what happens rather than worry about a number.  (I've finally learned that over the years!)  So we'll see what 2018 holds, who knows?

I hope you enjoyed most of what you read last year.  At the moment, I'm deciding what my next book or books will be ... what are you reading?