Input, Output

I’ve been motivated much more by knitting than by reading lately–perhaps it’s the winter nesting instinct, perhaps it’s just that I’ve been using lunch hours for knitting with a co-worker. I finished Neal Stephenson’s Anathem back in November, and found I had little to say about it once it was over. I enjoyed it very much, but it wasn’t the deep-thought-provoking experience Stephenson’s books usually are for me. My favorite parts of Stephenson’s works are when he gets derailed from the story to chase down some math/science/cryptography/history rat-hole, but in Anathem, the rat-holes are mostly philosophical, and that was much less interesting to me. So I read it more as a straight story, and less as a jumping-off point for further investigations and insights. From that perspective, it’s not his best work. The world was interesting and the plot moved right along (possibly because I was skimming the digressions), but the characters are thin and nowhere near as engaging as an Eliza or Jack or Nell or YT. (Speaking of Eliza and Jack, the recent money crisis has me wondering if I could possibly re-read The System of the World, about the foundation of the modern banking system, without re-reading the first two books of the trilogy. I may give it a go.) On the plus side, Stephenson continues to improve in story structure (another book with a proper ending, rather than just stopping when he gets to his last plot point! Growth!), and I liked what he did with the invented language in the book. I’ve seen a lot of reviewers turned off by it, but I found that most of the new words were easy to parse from the context. For example, it’s not hard to guess what a male “fraa” or female “suur” is in the context of a monastic community, particularly if you already know the titles “Fra” and “Souer”.

Since finishing Anathem, I’ve been hanging out in WWII-era London, first with Peter O’Toole’s entertaing biography of his youth (Loitering with Intent: The Child), and now with Vere Hodgson’s Few Eggs and No Oranges–a diary of life in London from 1940-1945. This is one of four Persephone Books my dear Bearby sent over to me when I asked for a sampling. They are the seeds of what I imagine will become a substantial Persephone collection, given the press’ book-selection criteria and beautiful bindings.

So, on to the knitting that has so occupied me! First, I used my splurgeriffic Tilli Thomas beaded silk to make a simple Turkish stitch scarf. This was a ridiculously simple scarf to make, and it’s one of my most favorite items ever. It’s heavy and lush and goes on for miles–I’ve got it wrapped around my neck three times in the pic below. I’m now making a second one–of inexpensive pink bamboo–and hand-beading the fringe. Absolute love, I tell you:

Then, a scarf I made because I loved the pattern–I bought the recommended Manos del Uruguay yarn especially for this project, because I wanted a scarf just like the one in the pattern picture. Again, a pretty simple stitch (herringbone), but such a WOW effect with the variegated colors and yarn thicknesses. The whole time I was making it, Ken kept saying, “That’s going to be awfully warm,” and aren’t I glad of it, given the unusual snow and cold in Portland this week! Both the pattern and the yarn are ones I’ll use again.

Next, a scarf made from pure impulse–a woman at open knit night was wearing a scarf that looked like one big braid, with giant pom-poms on the ends. I had been feeling the urge to make a camel-colored, cabled scarf, and with minor shoulder-devilry from Countess Z, I found myself giving into a huge skein of Cascade Magnum. It all came together in this quick-knit bit of fun:

The cables are courtesy of a bodhran tipper re-purposed by Ken into the world’s greatest cable needle. And he made me a sturdy pom-pom maker out of plastic. (If I haven’t mentioned it lately: my guy is absolutely the awesomest, anywhere.) This scarf only took four or five hours of knitting, and I’m thinking of trying it again in a thinner yarn. Because, why not, right?

Last, but in no way least, just last night I finished the final leg on my New Year’s Eve escort–ladies and gents, may I present The Octopus:

Adorable, right? He’s not named yet, not even quite finished: I need to knit him closed and attach eyes–still, he’s got quite a bit of personality already. And again, credit is due to technical/mechanical assistance from Ken. Knitting the first leg was such a chore that I was joking about maybe just making a hexapod. He did a little research into knitting looms and whipped up this little toy for me:

I had the eight limbs done up in no time, and with less cursing than the original knitted limb had caused.

So, that’s me, lately. All about the fiber arts. In fact, I’m starting to feel that familiar itch to have needles in hand. Time to put down the blog and pick up the knitting!

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6 Responses to Input, Output

  1. CAS says:

    In one of life’s strange moments of synchronicity, I had Anathem in my hand this very day at a B&N in Overland Park. I thought to myself, “I wonder if the Bear has read this?” I was also was purchasing a few copies of Gaiman’s Good Omens to give away as stocking-stuffers, and was thinking how ever grateful I am for that introduction to his world through yours.

    The scarves seem the most apropos give your current weather patterns at BookishDark Towers. I rather love the octopus. He looks like a “Newton” to me, though I could not tell you why. Having just watched Love Actually- I wonder if you should not attach a little bubble wrap on the underside of his tentacles a la the Octopus that was accompanied the first and second Lobsters at the birth of Jesus.

    As for me, I have been on technical reading as of late. Arianna Huffington’s Guide on how to blog and also books on how to write for magazines. I did plow through the Jim Butcher’s first two books in the “Dresden File” series. I am not even sure why I picked those up, but they were nothing special. Just a little airport reading.

  2. kaizerin says:

    Doatzen, that’s so funny! We watched Love, Actually yesterday, noticed the bubble-wrap on the octopus, and discussed doing that with my little guy. Who could be a Newton, maybe. I’ll try it out. 🙂

  3. CountessZ says:

    That is very humorous, because we ALSO watched Love, Actually this weekend and I commented to Corvus on the bubble-wrap as well. We are three peas in a pod, no?

    Kai–I love how the big camel-colored cable scarf turned out!! And your Octopus? Well, he’s just charming and wonderful.

    CAS–At Kaizerin’s recommendation I listened to the first three Dresden audiobooks, read by James Marsters. They were really fun light reading and perfect for the drive to and from work when I was in Philly and it took me an hour each way. Also, giving Good Omens as stocking stuffers? Brilliant!

  4. kaizerin says:

    Ooh, yes! I haven’t read any Dresdens, but I did listen to the first three or four, thanks to James Marsters being the reader. I really enjoyed them.

  5. Tracy Lee says:

    I LOVE the octopus. Do you have a pattern you could share? I have looms in all sizes, but I’m a novice with needles.

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