Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Recent projects

My friend Chris keeps frogs, so I knit him this for his birthday. The pattern is Ribbit (Ravelry page here), which is lovely and straightforward and takes no time at all. I used DK yarn rather than aran (James C. Brett Soft and Gentle Baby DK, lovely for acrycic), which meant using smaller needles (2.75mm), which meant I couldn't fit a tennis ball inside, though I think that's an awfully cute touch. I also left out the toes for reasons I have forgotten, but I think they had to do with me being lazy.

I stuffed him using leftover yarn scraps which I've been collecting for exactly this sort of situation. It's a nice solution to my guilt over throwing out anything, ever, rather than recycling it. Jen and the rainforests, BFFs.

The weather has been hit and miss for the last... six months or so, but since today was sunny and not even blustery, I finally got around to taking up a dress I bought in the January sales, and taking webcam-quality photos.

Apparently I tilt. I was not aware of this.

This was an exciting occasion mainly because it marks my first use of the overlocking feature on my sewing machine. I think I used it incorrectly, and I also think I sewed the hem lop-sided, but you have to start somewhere.

I was glad this dress was some sort of jersey fabric, as I liked the pattern a lot, but don't like maxi dresses (I guess you get to feel like a princess, which is fine for swanning around, but what if you need to run away from wolves in that dress, and I always preferred to identify with the dashing rogue in those stories anyway), and given that I am kind of choosy about clothes (plain, but the right kind of plain) it opens my options if I can look at something and think "I wouldn't wear that, but I would wear something very similar to it."

I'm currently going through a phase of being frustrated by how much yarn I have lying around, and trying to knit it it up - to sell, for the Henry Bear Blanketeers - as quickly as I can. There are a lot of downsides here in that it's not fun knitting, and it means that although I have something on the needles all the time, I'll have a few weeks of not having anything interesting to show for it. I'm having a bit of project angst, so if I do some sewing on the side of frustration-knitting it should abate.

That said, I'm not buying any more yarn until a bag of a particular size if empty, and I was already in a state of not buying books until I've worked through the To Read pile. I'm not even sure this can be called living.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A literary gripe

This evening I finished reading A Song of Stone, by Iain Banks. I've enjoyed some of his other books, but not this one - I didn't like the writing style, though as it was narrated in the first person it was probably intended to indicate that the narrator is insufferably pretentious, but if that was the case, it did its job too well for my blood. That said, it helped me pinpoint something that hasn't sat right with me in a lot of novels.

My Leaving Cert English teacher said that sex is easy to write badly because it's a repetitive act. I think it's fairest to compare it to eating - they are both carnal acts enjoyed by a majority of people. When people write about eating, they talk about the taste of the food, how it made the people eating feel, the sensations involved in eating. By and large, the descriptions are not of the food being cut, speared on cutlery, chewed until a bolus is formed, then swallowed. When most novelists write sex, however, the focus is on the actions taking place. Different strokes (wahey), and one can argue that sex scenes don't strictly have to be titillating, but I feel if you can write a sex or food scene that is simply boring to people who aren't asexual/anti-food or anhedonic, it's possible that your approach needs tweaking.

Nor do I consider descriptions of appearances/actions full of awkward, cringe-inducing metaphors to be addressing the correct issue, but that could just be me. From A Song of Stone (Chapter 3, page 37 in my version):

Exposed to the night and to my mouth, your breasts were moon-pale, and down-smooth, their aureoles and nipples as dark as bruises, raised, thick and hard like a little finger's topmost joint;....

Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that if your description of breasts causes one person to think about severed fingertips instead of about boobs, that is one person too many.

... Really, the mental image returned to me every time that character was topless.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

FO Friday: Gloves and triangle scarf

I found a mystery-purpose ball of Lamb's Pride Nature Spun fingering weight in my stash - I think I bought it for a commission, settled on a different yarn, and lost the receipt - so I made gloves. There is probably a more efficient way of clearing space than "turn ball of yarn into a garment, have garment take up space in a different bag until purchased", but it is apparently how I roll.

I got the stitch pattern from a book, and I like it an awful lot. On green yarn it looks like vines. The yarn is pure wool, so despite the weight it's the warmest thing ever. It's also more radioactive looking in real life. What's not to like?

I made the Blogathon Lace Triangle Scarf (Ravelry Page here) as a birthday present for my sister. (Her birthday is in June, so I'm doing well with being disgustingly organised for crafts this year.) It's a very nice pattern, which would work for just about any weight yarn. I bought this Louisa Harding Ondine before Christmas with a view to making her gloves, and made a failed start, but then she asked for different gloves which the yarn wouldn't suit. Oh Ondine gloves, you were so beautiful.

Speaking of the fact that there is a dinosaur on my shirt in that photo, I visit an asylum seekers' centre every week, and we bring arts and crafts supplies for the kids who live there. Yesterday I drew a dinosaur for one of them to colour in, which meant that the others wanted dinosaurs too. Another volunteer taught them to trace the existing dinosaurs onto new pages, which rapidly accelerated the rate of dinosaur production. Then they decided to Sellotape them together to make a dinosaur train, which, by the time we left, was twelve dinosaurs long. It's so satisfying to be shaping young minds.