31 July 2018

FO : Christmas in July Socks

I'm feeling quite pleased with myself because I had set a goal to finish these socks by the end of July.  And I actually finished them last Thursday, so I was days ahead!

Project:  Christmas in July Socks
Pattern:  Classic Socks for the Family, by Melinda Goodfellow (my go-to vanilla sock pattern)
Needles:  Size 1US
Yarn:  Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Peppermint Mocha colorway
Modifications:  I used the Eye of Partridge Heel flap pattern, to add some texture and visual interest.

These socks are for The Tim, who of course assumed I was knitting for myself, and kept mentioning how great they looked, so I know he will like them!  They went pretty fast, partly because I just hit the right mode, and partly because I loved the colorway, and wanted to see how it would knit up.  I'm very pleased with how they turned out, and wish it could be cool enough to have  Peppermint Mocha to celebrate ... :-)

Hamlet is not a knitter, but he has no problem posing with knitted items.  As you may imagine, Pip had a lot to say about this - not because he usually poses with knitted items, but because THE DOG was doing something ...

My other project that I was hoping to finish this month will carry over into the beginning of August.  I received the yarn I needed to finish it in plenty of time, but when I picked things up to start knitting again, I did something that caused me to have to rip back ~16 rounds.  Ugh.  But things are back on track, though there is no way I'll finish this evening.  Which is fine - I've put so much effort into it so far, why not have a finished knit that makes me happy?

29 July 2018

Grand Finale Giveaway Winner

Well, folks, in just two more days, this month will be history.  August is just around the corner.  Theoretically, in Philadelphia, July is supposed to be the hottest month - the meteorologists tell us that every year.  Which means I always have unrealistic expectations for August, expecting it to suddenly be more comfortable weather-wise than it actually is.

But enough about August - we are here for the final giveaway for Christmas in July!!

The final giveaway was kind of a mystery - a project bag, featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, with mysterious contents.

Again today, I asked Random.Org to do its thing.  I promised that it could take a rest after this week, and thanked it for its service.  Its response?  Comment #11, otherwise known as Cheryl!  Here's what she had to say:

I really like most foods but it seems any holiday contains cooked broccoli. Yuck. I like it raw but not cooked. Always the veggie everyone wants. Christmas for me is all about the cookies. I love them all. Can’t get enough. So I don’t bake them. Period. Lol. Love the bag. Love Rudolph. He’s my hero. 
Seajaes on ravelry
Well, it would appear that Cheryl and I are of like minds on Rudolph (because really, he is THE BEST), and cookies (because ... COOKIES), but I must admit to liking broccoli in all of its forms, so we part ways there.  It appears from her Ravelry page that Cheryl lives in Canada, which pleases me greatly, because The Tim and I have done lots of traveling in various areas of our northern neighbor, and We Love Canadia (as we call it)!!  Plus ,it means this little giveaway has gone international, and that the little Rudolph bag and its mysterious contents will travel over the border.  :-)
Cheryl, please send your name and mailing address to me at thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet.  I'll get your package together and send it to you.  I know you don't have a blog, so once I am certain that you have received the package, I'll reveal the contents for everyone so that they can move on with their lives and not let the curiosity become an obsession ... ;-)
I have to say another huge thank you to everyone who participated in this month of giveaways.  I had so much fun putting the packages together, and thinking of the questions.  And I am thrilled that so many of you played along.  In one way, giveaways can be upsetting, as I always end up wishing I had more things to send.  But then I think how for myself, part of the fun is just being part of it, and if I win, fine, but to be honest, I never really expect to be the winner - it's just a fun thing to do.
Thus endeth this year's event.  I will get everything ready to send out, and likely get to the post office here next Saturday.  I'll let those who have a package on the way know for sure when it goes out, so that they can be on the lookout for its arrival.  
Who knows, maybe this can be an annual event?  I know I think that would be worthwhile.
In other news, I finished the Christmas in July socks I was knitting this past Thursday, and I'm really happy with how well they turned out!  I want to get a good photo of them, and will likely be posting about them on Monday or Tuesday.
As for our new family member, I want to thank you for the nice comments and good wishes about Hamlet.  He is settling in quite nicely, though I think he is still a bit confused about it all.  Yesterday we took him to a local wildlife refuge, and hiked around for about an hour and a half.  He seemed to really enjoy it, though he was literally a tired puppy the rest of the day.
The cats have all made friends with him, and he clearly likes them, but is not quite sure what they are, which is kinda funny.  Pip of course, is still keeping us informed, and was quite shocked that this morning THE DOG was sitting in the doorway to the bathroom, meaning that it was necessary to walk right past THE DOG to come into the bathroom and sit in the tub!  Can you imagine??? 
Enjoy your Sunday evening, and hopefully this week will treat all of us well.  Take care.

25 July 2018

Christmas in July : Part 4 - The Grand Finale

Happy July 25 - five months from Christmas Day, if you can believe it!  Sadly, this is the last week we will be celebrating Christmas in July here on the blog.  I've gotta tell you, I have enjoyed doing this so much, and hearing from everyone with the various questions you have all answered.

Alas, all good things must end - but not before the final giveaway, which is just a little bit different than the other packages.  This is what the winner will be receiving.

It's a project bag starring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the version from the Rankin-Bass show that is my very favorite one in the world!  Here is a closeup of the fabric:

I love it so!  It's from Molly Klein Design, a great shop on Etsy with pretty yarn and some fabulous project bags.  You may wonder why, if I love it so, I'm using it for a giveaway.  Well, I ordered one for myself last year when I saw them, but I inadvertently placed two different orders for the same thing.  Rather than go to the trouble of returning it, I decided to keep it for a gift, which of course I promptly forgot.  But as it turns out, that's to your advantage!

What is different  this time, is that what you receive will have some added mystery, as the best gifts from Santa Claus do.  Because I'm showing you the project bag, but - WHAT WILL BE INSIDE???  It could be anything - Candy?  Yarn?  Patterns?  A lovely photo of me?  Books?  Money? (OK, I can tell you for sure that it will not contain money, but you get the drift.)

In order to be eligible to win this somewhat mysterious package, tell me your answer to this question in the comments:

What is your very favorite and least favorite holiday food?  I don't mean just Christmas, but for instance, do you really like July 4th potato salad, but you could definitely skip the mincemeat pie that your Aunt Mildred brings for Thanksgiving?  Let me know!

I'll choose a winner at random on Sunday, July 29, 2018 at 5 p.m. EDT - good luck, everyone!

23 July 2018

A Shakespearean Weekend

In case you are wondering what the title of this post means, let me tell you about Hamlet.

Meet the newest member of our family!  Yep, this sweet pup is now officially part of our merry band of misfits.

Back in the fall, you may or may not remember that I visited my friend Kathy, who helped me seam together my Cranberry Custom Fit Sweater.  Kathy told me on that day, "Oh by the way, I found your next dog."  As it turns out, Kathy's husband Sam (who I haven't met yet) is a volunteer for a local group who assist blind people.  He knew a couple who each had guide dogs who were getting ready to retire them, and Kathy thought either dog would be good for us - already grown, well-trained, and well-behaved.  So I told her to let me know if anything developed.

To back up a bit, a couple of months ago, The Tim had told me he thought he was ready to adopt another dog.  Now as far as that goes, I am not picky at all.  The Tim had many things on his list of the perfect dog, and among them were that a) the dog not be too old, so we would have it with us longer, and b) the dog not be a really big dog, since it became difficult to lift Dug when he got really sick.  I could appreciate this, and so did not point out any dogs I knew that were available that fell into these categories.

About six weeks ago, Kathy told me that the dogs she had mentioned were going to be retired very soon, and gave me the number of the man in the couple, named Jeff, and said to call him.  So I gave him a call, and we talked for quite a while.  Never having had any reason to really think about it, I was surprised to learn that guide dogs were "retired."  But it turns out that it's fairly common.  A perfect guide dog has to be on top of its game, and though Jeff's dog was still perfectly healthy, he said the dog had slowed down some, and he had applied for a new dog.  Apparently, you are only accepted into a new session when they think they have a perfect dog, based on your profile.  Jeff expected to go to the session in October, and the dog, named Hamlet, would probably come for a visit over a summer weekend, to see how we all thought it might work (or not).

The kicker of course:  the dog was 9 years old, and a Golden Retriever.

When I reported this part to The Tim, he said, "Oh that would be great - almost like another Dug!"  Which of course meant that his list of qualifications meant nothing in the end. :-) (Also, I think the English major in him was thrilled.)

Jeff called about three weeks ago, with news that he had been contacted to say that they found him a perfect match dog but instead of October, the session he was in would start today - way ahead of what we all had expected!  So we quickly arranged for Hamlet to visit the weekend after July 4.

Surprisingly, all went well.  By the time the weekend was over, Pip and Jack were *very* close to being friends with Hamlet, and he was clearly interested in them, but not aggressive in any way.  The Koodle, who of course thinks of himself as a real badass, spent the weekend in the basement like the chicken he really is ...

Saturday afternoon, we headed over to NJ where Jeff and his wife live, to pick up Hamlet to join our family for good.  On the one hand, I felt bad because of course we were taking him from the home he knew for most of his life, complete with his people, and Karma, the black lab guide dog who belongs to Jeff's wife (and who is already placed in a new home as well, once she goes to her session in October).  I think Hamlet is still a bit confused, but he is adjusting, and is getting a TON of attention, walks, treats, and love.  The cats - because, well, cats - have of course forgotten they ever met him, and so we are starting again from the beginning.  But in no time I'm sure the household will be back to the usual routine.

Though just to let you know, Pip is already friends with Hamlet because why not if there is someone else to narc on?  He would however, like you to know in case you did not that there is a DOG in the house and apparently the DOG will be staying and did you know the DOG drank some of Pip's water?????!!!!!  Trust me, we're hearing all about it ...

Hopefully Hamlet will decide our house is a good place to be and he will be happy that he joined the family.  We couldn't be more thrilled!

I have to warn you, there will be more stories about him in the days to come, and you can expect to be subjected to many more photos - so prepare for the deluge. :-)

22 July 2018

Third Giveaway Winner!

It's that time again - time to announce the third winner of the Christmas in July giveaway!!

This time around, the answers to the question posed were both illuminating and hilarious.  When I posted it and first hit "publish," I thought to myself, "You know, someone is gonna say that they would take x projects with them, and not worry about it because they could buy more yarn on the way ... and I'm guessing the first person to say so will be Dee." Well, read the comments, and you'll see I hit that nail on the head.  :-)

Anyway, the ol' Random.Org was cranked up again, and after only very brief consideration, chose the winner of this week's prize.

This package will go to Araignee, who posted comment #8, which is one of the ones that made me laugh out loud:

"This is an easy one. I have two sweaters I just started and the only chance in hell they have to ever get finished is if I am on slow boat to China!"

I am 99% sure that I have her address, since she was kind enough to send me some of her soap during the last call, but just to be sure, I'm going to ask her to send her mailing address to me at thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet. 

Thanks again to everyone who participated - there's still one more chance to win when I post the final prize and question this coming Wednesday, July 25, so if not before, check this space again then.


Have you ever been thisclose to finishing a project, only to realize that you are going to run out of yarn?  That happened to me yesterday, but fortunately I can get not just another skein, but even one in the same dyelot!  It will probably arrive this week, so I can still finish the project sooner rather than later.  Which makes me feel like I've won a prize ... :-)

Wishes for a good week for all of us!

20 July 2018

Friday Thoughts

On my way to work this a.m., I had several things rattling around in my brain, and so you, lucky readers, get to also ponder them.

1. WHY is it that if two people are coming towards you on the sidewalk and there is only room for two people to walk, neither of them will move in front of/behind the other so that you can walk by???  I was always taught that this is the polite thing to do.  To quote George Costanza, "We're living in a society here!"

2.  I have to wonder where all of the women work who are wearing cutoff jeans and stiletto heels.  They don't look like hookers, but I guess that's a possibility.

3.  Do people who arrive at work with wet hair just let it dry normally, or do they blow dry and style it once they get there?

4.  When you ride a skateboard to work, are you all sweaty when you arrive?

5.  I hope trash collectors get paid a lot of money.

6.  Who is it that eats chicken wings and then just drops the bones on the street?  I mean, every corner here in the city has a trash can.  And even if that was not an option, why don't you take the bones with you until you can throw them away?

This post has been brought to you by my brain.  Have a good weekend!

18 July 2018

Christmas in July : Part 3

OK, I don't know about you, but I'm surprised it is already the THIRD week in July - seriously, how have I missed it all??  But the good news is, today marks the third giveaway for Christmas in July!

I have to tell you guys, I'm thrilled this has gotten such a wonderful response.  I knew I would enjoy it, but I didn't know if anyone else would be as excited about it as I am, and it appears that at least some of you are.  

This week's package is primarily made up of things I have in duplicate.  First, I Dream of Yarn, a coloring book for knitters and crocheters, with the images drawn by Franklin Habit.  I received my first copy of this in a prize package from Kim, and had fun with it.  However, in the next couple of months, I received FOUR more copies from people who "knew I liked knitting."  I gave the others to friends who were interested, but I still have this copy, and thought maybe some of you who "liked knitting"  might like to have this as well.   Then, another book, Knit the Sky, that is also a duplicate of a title I already have (coincidentally enough, also from Kim!)

On the bottom level, there are a pair of stretchy house slipper socks (commercial made), one with Santa's face and one with Mrs. Santa.  And finally, a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket pattern. 

To be eligible for this giveaway, you need to answer the following question:

Good news:  You have just won a trip around the world, all expenses paid!
Bad news:  You have to be ready to leave in 24 hours, and you are only allowed to bring two crafty projects for the duration of the trip.
Question:  What two projects will you bring along and why?

Let me know your answers in today's comments, and I'll choose a winner at random on this coming Sunday, July 22, at 5 p.m. EDT. 

Good luck!

15 July 2018

Second Giveaway Winner!

If it's Sunday, it must be ... time to find out who won the second giveaway for my Christmas in July!

There were fewer entries this time, which I expected, since the prize was sewing-related as opposed to knitting-related.

But those who did respond had some really great ideas - none of which I didn't have in some way myself - about what they would do if money were no object and they could do whatever project they wanted to do.  Some reponses even added to my own ideas. :-)

So I cranked up the old Random.Org, and demanded that it tell me who would get the package.  I am always surprised by how quickly the response appears - but I guess when it's your only job, you need to do it well, right?

The number it chose was response #2, from Kat!  Her response was:

"Oh my... if time and money were no issue, I would love to go to Alabama Chanin and take a work shop! What fun that would be! Also, high on the list would be to join Maryjane Mucklestone and Gudrun Johnston in Scotland for one of their knitting tours!

Good luck everyone!"

I thought it was a funny coincidence that she mentioned the Scotland knitting tours, since my friend Kathy (she of helping me seam together my Custom Cranberry Sweater) was in Shetland at the time, on a knitting retreat/tour/workshop!  The photos she was posting on Instagram made it look even better than it had all sounded before she even left.

In any case, Congratulations Kat!  When you have a chance, please send me your mailing address at thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet, and I'll put the package together to send.

Well, that was even more fun than last week.  Join me again this coming Wednesday to see what the next giveaway will be!


In related news, yesterday I finished the first of my Christmas in July Socks:

These were fun to knit, and I had no issues, so hopefully sock #2 will go as well as this one.  The colorway of this yarn is Peppermint Mocha, and I think it's definitely truth in advertising! 

I hope the upcoming week is a good one for all of you.  I have Part 2 of my dental implant procedure tomorrow morning (ugh), but next weekend should bring something fun.  I'll keep you posted. :-)

13 July 2018

For Friday - Let's Look At This FO!

Do you ever have a knitting project that you really want to make, and things go OK for most of it, until they don't and then you are Just.Done. ??

That happened to me with this project.  You may or may not recall that at the beginning of last summer, I started knitting the Strawberry Field Socks.  I was knitting along, loving the pattern, and then I tugged on the yarn and was faced with the most incredible amount of yarn barf ever.  I made a concerted effort to untangle the yarn, and gave up when it just wasn't happening.  The yarn was chucked into the trash, and I moved on to another project.  But in the back of my mind, I still wanted to knit that pattern.

Fast forward to this summer, when I came across the perfect yarn in my stash, and decided to give it a try again. It started out really well, and again, I was enjoying the pattern.

Because I was in a bit of a knitting slump, and just wanted to get the pair finished, I decided to make the foot of the pair plain, thinking it would make the whole thing go more quickly.  And soon sock #1 was completed.

I wasn't zooming along, but all was well.  I was moving down the leg of sock #2, and it happened again - yarn barf.  Ugh.  I put the whole thing down for a few days, and then tried to untangle this yarn.  This time though, it was not as much of a mess, and I managed to get it untangled with only a minimum of aggravation.  

The problem?  At this point, I just wanted to get the things finished.  It felt like I'd been knitting this particular pair for approximately 2 years.  So I carried on, but sadly did not really pay the attention I should have to the stitch pattern, so there was a lot of fudging around and just making it work, because I did not want to pull it out and re-knit where the mistakes had been.  I finished the leg, and the rest of it went along for the most part without major incident, but with other mistakes and fudging along happening pretty often.  

Thank the Lord, they are FINALLY finished!

Project:  Hot Mess Socks
Pattern:  Strawberry Field, by Sirkku Siiskonen (I made the 38 size)
Yarn:  Cedar Hill Farm Company Mission Sock, in the Sweet Strawberry colorway
Needles:  US size 1
Modifications:  I knit the foot plain.  Though I wish I'd done the pattern down the foot.  But it was not to be.

I am happy with the finished socks.  I love the color, and unless you are holding the socks in your hand, and looking at them closely, you can't see where the fudging occurred.  I love the color of the yarn.  I think I will like these socks a LOT more once I take them out of my Box o' Socks next year and have forgotten how sick I got of knitting them. With all of the issues related to just finishing this pair, I decided Hot Mess Socks was the perfect name for them.

Fortunately, the current pair I'm knitting are going along much better (plain socks help out), and I'm more in the mood to knit them anyway, so it's all good.

On that note, I wish you a lovely weekend, filled with knitting - if that's what you are in the mood to do - and other good stuff.  I have plans to do nothing in particular, and am looking forward to it.  :-)

11 July 2018

Christmas in July : Part 2

It's that time again!  Today marks Week #2 of Christmas in July!!

This week, the giveaway package is geared towards people who: like to sew, used to sew and want to get back to it, want to have inspiration and a simple project to learning how to sew, or those who know someone who sews and wants to give them a package of goodies.

Of course, having said that, anyone at all can participate - maybe you just want to try and win something - I don't know your life. ;-)

In any event, we have a tin of Milk and Honey Lotion Bar, in Citrus scent.  (This stuff is really great - I bought one for a gift a while back and then couldn't find it, so I bought another one.  Then, guess what??)  We have a printed pattern for the Endless Summer Tunic, which I liked so well, I bought two!  (OK, I forgot I'd already ordered it.  Do you detect a theme?)  It's a wonderful pattern, and really quite simple though I'm sure you could glam it up or add to it via the next item, the Alabama Stitch Book, by Natalie Chanin and and Stacie Stukin.  I bought this for myself last year, and though it's a really cool book, and pretty inspirational, I have come to the conclusion that I will never, ever, make use of it.  So I'd rather pass it along to someone who can act upon the inspiration! 

This week, I want to know the following:

If time and money were no object, and you were suddenly granted the ability to do any craft you wanted in the most amazing way possible, what item/pattern/project would you most want to knit, crochet, sew, cross-stitch, etc.? 

If you would like a chance to win this giveaway, tell me your answer in the comments.  I will keep the thread open until Sunday, July 15, 2018, at 5 p.m. EDT. 

Good luck!  I can't wait to see what all of you have to tell me this week!

10 July 2018

Book Report for April, May, and June 2018

Before July gets much more underway, I wanted to share what I have read in the past few months.  As usual, it's kind of a mish-mash of things, and some times I read more than other times, so it's always unpredictable to me what I can expect to get done.  I decided not to participate in Summer Book Bingo this year, because to be frank, I didn't really enjoy it that much last year.  I do like reading others' posts about it, and finding how they made things work for the bingo squares - it just wasn't fun for me.

Anyway, moving on, here's what I read, and what I thought about it.

The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths.  This was a new series for me, and it was pretty interesting. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist who is asked to assist when some bones are discovered near the salt marshes where she lives.  Though they turn out to be from the Iron Age, Ruth remains involved in the investigation to locate a missing young girl.  This turns out to throw a lot of her beliefs in friends and colleagues out of kilter, as well as making her think about her own life.

This was an interesting read.  I think I'll read another in the series to see if it really grabs me.

An Affair to Dismember, by Elise Sax.  This was a Friday cheapo book for my Nook - for 99 cents, I decided to try it.

This is hands down one of the most stupid books I have ever read in my life.  First of all, the main character is learning to be a matchmaker from her Jewish grandmother who is ready to retire.  OK, I suspend my disbelief for a lot of stuff I read.  But it was just terrible and stupid.  The only reason I read until the end was because I was actually interested in who the murderer turned out to be, and even that was stupid.

I don't care if you want a quick and easy summer read that requires no concentration - this ain't it, let me assure you.

The Thoughtful Dresser, by Linda Grant.  I really enjoyed this book.  The author writes it in a chatty and engaging style, so that you don't feel she is preaching at you to make you feel like you are a loser, style-wise.  She discusses fashion, style, shopping, and what clothes do mean and can mean to the wearer.

Besides her own observations, she focuses on a few individuals and tells their stories.  In some ways, this book feels more like a series of essays, but they it all works put together this way. 

If nothing else, borrow this book for the library so that you can read the beginning of one of the later chapters her commentary on seeing the designer Alexander McQueen and the discussion of some of the well-known high-end designers.  Her comment about Karl Lagerfeld made me laugh out loud!

I wish I had read her blog when it was current, I think she would have been a happy, interesting spot in the world of style blogs.

If you enjoy hearing about fashion, style, and some history, you will probably like this book.  I borrowed my copy from the library, and am seriously considering purchasing one for myself, so I can dip into it every once in a while.

Lilli de Jong, by Janet Benton.  Here's what I really liked about this book:  it takes place in 1880s Philadelphia, and so has references to actual locations in the city.  It's also a good depiction of society and what is and is not accepted at that time. 

Here's what I didn't like about the book:  there were about 50 pages towards the end that a good editor could have cut, without losing the heart of the story. 

Lilli de Jong is a young Quaker woman who finds herself pregnant after a night of passion with her betrothed, before he leaves to find work in Pittsburgh.  She fully expects him to send for her quickly, and for them to be married and have a life together.  When that does not happen, and her stepmother learns she is pregnant, she is thrown out of the house because of the shame it brings to her family.

She finds herself at a home for unwed mothers, where life is not perfect, but it is bearable.  The expectation is that she will surrender her baby for adoption, but once her daughter is born, she cannot bear the thought of doing so.  Her decision means that her life will be a struggle, as single women with children are not accepted in a respectable society.  For a while, she finds a position at a wet nurse for a well-to-do couple, but her continued worry about her daughter, who is in care, keep her from being able to behave in the way her employers expect.   When a specific incident leads to her being fired, her options become much more limited, and possibly dangerous.

I liked this book well enough, but especially towards the end, it became somewhat predictable.

Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay.  This book was excellent.  Granted, some of the topics discussed were dated because it was written a few years ago, but nonetheless Gay's writing is true, articulate, and often very funny.  Whether she is discussing the presence of "magical Negroes" in movies, the whole set of issues around Tyler Perry and his work, or the meaning of "feminist" and how the label can have an effect on the way others treat you, she is spot on and approachable in each essay.

I don't read a lot of essay collections, but every single on in this volume was worth my time.

The New Garconne : How to Be a Modern Gentlewoman, by Navaz Batliwalla.  Meh. 

I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the summaries of this book before I decided to request it from the library.  It's a series of interviews with women who were fortunate enough to be born into, or marry into families with resources, and often with one or more creative parent.  After about the third interview with someone who grew up with wealthy parents who often owned artistic companies, I just skimmed the rest.  They interviews were mainly snippets asking how they got started, how they decided on their styles, etc. and then at the end of the book there were resources for the reader indicating where some of the things included could be purchased (if you are someone who can afford Hermes bags and such).

Next time, I'll pay better attention - this was probably fine for what it was supposed to be, I was just going into it with completely different expectations.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, by Balli Kaur Jaswal.  I really wanted to like this book.  But for whatever reason, I just couldn't get into it or care about the characters.  I read about 75-100 pages, and it just wasn't working for me. 

Your mileage of course may vary.

Craeft : An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts, by Alexander Langlands.  I've been wanting to read this since it was published. 

I found it interesting, but really sloggy in parts.  The author does a good job of relaying the information, but occasionally details are overdone.   Which is probably done on purpose, but I was expecting something much more readable.

The All of It, by Jeannette Haien.  This is a small but very intense book, taking place in a small Irish village.

Father Declan de Loughry is salmon fishing on the last day of the season, in the pouring rain, against everyone's suggestion.  But he uses the time to muse over something one of his parishioners told him as he lay dying, and that he learned more about afterwards.  Though shocking, it is presented as something that "just happened" and that no one else really needed to know about. 

Father Declan cannot let go of the feeling that on the one hand, he failed in his duty as God's representative on earth when he learned the news.  Then again, those involved were both dedicated to each other and though they never confessed to anyone else, it was largely because "no one ever asked." 

As he recalls the conversations with the deceased's wife, he is reminded that some see his life as one of futility and sadness, since he is unable to have a family and feel their constant support and love.  This realization leads him to consider a course of action never expected at the beginning of the book.

The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman.  This book took so long for me to finish because I don't keep up with audiobooks as well as I do with books I actually read on paper or on my Nook.  In any case, I wanted to finish this book because I have read and enjoyed the previous two in this series.

Once again, Pullman has made a complex story with fantastical happenings both interesting and enjoyable.  Lyra and Will's journey throughout the series is so interesting to me, and in some ways feels very personal.  In this book, Will manages to rescue Lyra from her mother, who has kidnapped her and kept her hidden from her father and his men.  The two then try their best to get home, and in the course of the story, visit the Land of the Dead, lose their daemons briefly, and move into young adulthood with the usual strong feelings and hopes we have all experienced at one time or another.

Some found the ending to be upsetting, but to be perfectly honest, I found it to be very hopeful. 

I'm not usually a reader of fantasy/otherworld type of stories, but this series is excellent.

You Can't Spell America Without Me : The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year As President Donald J. Trump, by Alec Baldwin.  I listened to this "book" as filler between other reads.  It is silly, with Alec Baldwin narrating it as Donald Trump, and contains all of the expressions and poor uses of language that Trump uses on a regular basis.  I listened to it and finished it before the current horrors started (as opposed to the "regular" horrors we have experienced since Inauguration Day), so I could laugh exhaustedly at the stupidity of this man.  While of course, still hoping and working for his downfall.

A Bed of Scorpions, by Judith Flanders.  This is the second book in this series, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first one.

Sam Clair works in publishing, and is dating a police detective.  At the start of this book, one of Sam's exes who is now part owner in an art gallery finds his partner dead.  Was it suicide?  That seems to be the prevailing opinion, but the police are still investigating.   Then Sam has an "accident" on her bicycle, and weird things start to happen.  It seems like someone is out to get Sam, but she (and the reader) don't know why.

This was an enjoyable read, and I will admit that I had about four different theories about what happened, and who the murderer was.  (None were correct, for what it's worth.)  The story moves along at a good pace, and there are some entertaining parts and commentary along the way.  Sam is a heroine in her 40s, and that's a nice change.  Her relationship with her boyfriend and her mother are realistic and though they are part of the story, they don't interfere.

Needles and Pearls, by Gil McNeil.  This was an enjoyable read when I couldn't decide what I wanted to read.

Part of what I enjoyed about the first book in this series is that it wasn't a story about a woman whose husband had died, and her goal in life was to find love again.  It wasn't sappy, and the main character was not perfect and lovely.

That continues in this book, when the main character, Jo, finds herself in a situation she never imagined, while life in the small town where she has moved with her young sons goes on.  This book could have jumped the shark and become really sweet and sappy, but instead it just continued the story in the way a life continues.

It's not the best series out there, but it's a nice break from a lot of the other types of books that would be in the same kind of category.

The Sweet Dove Died, by Barbara Pym.  Humphrey and his nephew James, who run an antiques store, meet a woman named Leonora at an auction when she buys a valuable book.  As time goes on, they befriend her, and she is attracted to each of them for different reasons - James in a romantic sense, and Humphrey as an elegant companion and friend.  When James goes away for an extended period, and returns with a close male friend, his and Leonora's relationship changes quite a bit, and she becomes more reliant on Humphrey.

This book is typical Barbara Pym - observant, funny, and often poignant.  Loved it, as I do all of her books.


I hope you are reading something enjoyable, and managing to keep cool!  Let me know if you have any suggestions for really good books to read - or even ones to avoid!

08 July 2018

First Giveaway Winner!

Well, I have to hope that you are having the same kind of nice weather that we've been enjoying this weekend.  I can't really think of how it could have been better.  And today was a perfect day to choose the winner for the first giveaway of Christmas in July!

As you may recall, here is what will be sent to that lucky person.

I fired up Random.Org, and asked it to choose a winner, and it showed me Comment #5, which is Karen51, who said:

Happy 4th of July! Of the three this is my favorite summer holiday. We are usually at the cottage with many family members. It’s the time to enjoy good food, good family times and nice ,hot!, weather.

Hmmm.  I like the idea of the family at a cottage, and the good food, but had to hesitate at the part about nice, hot weather ... but the interwebs have spoken, so the package goes to her. ;-)

So Karen51, please send your name and mailing address to me at thekittyknitterATverizonDOTnet, and I'll get things ready to mail.

Thanks to everyone who played along - I loved reading your responses, and must admit that some of them were incredibly lovely and touching, and made me tear up.  There will be another giveaway this coming Wednesday, so stay tuned!

Here's to a good week for all of us - stay comfy and enjoy your knitting, reading, or whatever time makes you happy.

06 July 2018

In Which We Go To Rehoboth Beach

Hello all!  First of all, I have to say that I LOVE the responses I've received so far for my first Christmas in July giveaway!  I love that all of you are so on board, and the stories you have shared make me so happy.  Of course, as with every giveaway, I wish I had something for everyone.  There's still time to get in on it, if you are interested.  Here is the post with the info.

We got home yesterday from a few days with some of my family at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  Every time we get together, I realize how lucky I am to have a family that truly enjoys being together, and having fun.  We are all VERY different people, but even with that, we have such a good time together!  This was my middle sister, her husband, and their kids with their families.  They had all rented a big house that was about 3 blocks from the beach.  We were lucky to find a motel that had a room available at a very reasonable rate for a few days, so off we went.  The motel said it had free wi-fi, but for reasons known only to cyberspace, The Tim could connect, but I could not.  I was able to connect at the house where everyone else was staying but mostly could not be bothered to drag things around.

Anyway.  We had a blast. But as you all probably know, it was just too hot.  We left Monday after work, but I was so sick with heat stroke that Monday night was a loss.  Which was OK, because by the time arrived, it was late enough to just put on pjs and go to bed.  Fortunately, by the next morning, sleep and a/c had helped me recover.  We did spend some time on the beach, where there was a nice cool breeze, and the water was cold but refreshing - though the sand was so hot it caused blisters on your feet if you were barefoot.  But mostly we ate, drank, laughed and just overall relaxed.  We got to meet our newest great-nephew Oden, who was born this past April.  He is a cutie, and for such a young baby, very alert - in our family you have to pay attention, and it seems he has already figured that out.  His big sister Penn is very devoted - almost too devoted, you might say! :-) 

We arrived home late yesterday afternoon, and were happy to see that our garden was in OK shape.  I guess there was a pretty serious rain storm the other night, and it  must have rained enough to keep them going.  The kitties were glad to see us and of course Pip had a whole lotta 'narc-ing to do.  It was fun to be away, but we did miss the furballs.

The Tim had to go to work today, but I took the day off and I'm glad I did.  I have no special plans for the day, but I want to do some laundry and put some stuff away from our trip.  We have a house guest coming for the weekend, and fortunately we did a lot of cleaning before we left - though I doubt our guest will care.  And the weather is supposed to improve, so hopefully that means that we can be outside at least some of the time, and even more importantly, I will be able to breathe!

One of my nieces took this photo of myself, The Tim, and Miss Penn at the beach, and I'm sharing it because she is such a cutie (and quite a character!).  We really did have so much fun, and it will probably be our "vacation" this summer.

So that's the news from here.  I hope you have a good weekend, with nicer weather as well if you have been melting.  Enjoy!

04 July 2018

Christmas in July : Part 1

Hi all - well, here we go, the first week of Christmas in July!

If you would like to participate in this week's giveaway, please answer this question the comments:

What is your favorite SUMMER holiday:  Memorial Day, July 4, or Labor Day?  And why?

This is the giveaway for this week's winner:

The package includes a row counter, a project bag, and a copy of Curls, by Hunter Hammersen a lovely book - but not one so lovely that I need three copies! 

I will choose a random winner from the comments on Sunday, July 8 at 5 p.m. EDT.  Please note that there is a really good chance that I may not send out the packages until the end of July, once I have them all ready to send at once.  I will definitely let you know when they are on the way.

I hope you will want to play along!


In other news, Happy July 4th!  I hope you have a lovely holiday, however you do or do not celebrate.  We are in Rehoboth Beach with some family, and having a great time.  Tomorrow it's back home and back to the usual routine.  Alas, vacations can't last forever.  ;-)