Temptation

Since I completed the star hat, I needed a new project to cast on. Not that I didn’t already have two on the needles, but I’m not loving those, so I wanted something different.

I went into the craft room (a.k.a yarn room) to get some inspiration. I’ve had this Debbie Macomber Blossom Street yarn hanging around for awhile that I intend to make a little cardigan out of. The color is called Juneau, but it is basically gray with bits of teal. When I bought it, I fantasized about a baby sized cardigan with teal buttons. I went in to retrieve the yarn and some needles and what did I see…

It's so pretty and spring colored

It’s so pretty and spring colored

Marsh Grass silk and rayon twist.

Marsh Grass silk and rayon twist.

My Blue Heron silk and rayon twist yarn in Marshlands. It’s so beautiful and silky and shiny, it just drew me in. I didn’t have a pattern picked out so I ended up spending most of the day hunting for patterns on Ravelry, and not actually knitting. I do this fairly often.

According to the tag (and the Ravelry page for the yarn), it’s an Aran weight. So I was looking for patterns that would work. After casting on a scarf on size 7 needles, I realized something was off. The texture was coming out far too loose. I ended up comparing the yarn to the Blossom Street yarn (which is a DK) and realizing it was lighter than that. I decided to treat it as a lighter yearn (more like fingering) and look for patterns accordingly. By the time I actually found one that might work, it was nearly bedtime and I didn’t really feel like knitting.

Oh temptation, how you distract me.

Green With Frustration

I finally worked on my green hat again last night and managed to finish it. I sat and watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green (I have a green thing going) while I tackled the decreases on this hat. I had attempted to start the decreases the other night and, after an hour of frustration, gave up. The way this little tam works up, the decreases form a star shape at the top of the hat. In order to keep the sections of the star straight, the author of the pattern suggests placing stitch markers. Now, I became so frustrated with how this was working out I was about ready to send the designer a nasty message along the lines of “Why would you have us place markers if the stitch count of the next row doesn’t line up with them?!?” Luckily, I was smart enough to first second guess myself. No matter how many times I read the pattern I could figure out why my stitch count wasn’t coming out the way I needed it to. As it turns out, my mistake was not on my current row, but the one before.

The pattern had something along the lines of (K1,P1) 11 Times Place Marker.  Being so brilliant like I am (ha ha), I read this as though I should knit and purl for a total of 11 stitches then place the marker. This, of course, was wrong. So it was no wonder that, on the next row, the stitches for each section were going past the markers. Now, had I been doing the second row correctly, I would passed by one marker and hit the second one, right? Because I had twice the markers I need. Except that the next row at (K1,P1) 8 times for one part of the pattern and I was reading that as only 8 stitches. I have no idea where my brain was that night. I was tired, I know that. I had a headache, of course. All of my knitting knowledge must’ve just taken a vacation.

So after completing 2 rows of decreases incorrectly, it finally dawned on me (or hit me like a ton of bricks) what I had been doing wrong. Which meant I had two rows to rip back and do over. Which would’ve been tedious, but easy enough, except that the decrease method used is S1K2P, which is a pain in the butt to tink back. Plus there were some K3tog in there as well.

So after an hour (at least) spent doing the two rows wrong, tinking them back, and redoing them- I gave up.

I took me a full 24 hours to feel like I was willing to sit down and torture myself with the hat again. I had already been reluctantly working on it because, as I previously stated, I hate switching between knit and purl, such a seed stitch or ribbing. Then with the counting catastrophe, I was feeling really burnt out on this hat.

But I did it. This project is rife with mistakes. I mean, bad. There is a whole row in one of the sections that turned into ribbing instead of seed stitch because I started with K1P1 when I should’ve P1K1. No matter how many times I counted, recounted, and counted again, the number of stitches in the sections kept getting off. I finally gave up on ripping anything back and just charged forward with my flawed work. Somehow, I ended up with a little hole in one spot. No idea how. I didn’t notice the hole until far too late, so I’m just accepting it.

All in all, the yarn for this project was lovely, I’m sure the pattern was great, but it made me ant to rip my hair out.

Here's the cat looking disapproving either of my sloppy knitting or that I was watching Dirty Dancing.

Here’s the cat looking disapproving either of my sloppy knitting or that I was watching Dirty Dancing.

 

 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This was a book that I passed over several times before I sat down to actually read it. I would see the interesting cover and be drawn in by the fact that it was a fairy tale adaptation, which I love, and then be dissuaded by the fact that it was science fiction. I didn’t see myself wanting to read about cyborgs and androids. Boy, was I wrong.

I absolutely adored this book. Meyer has truly come up with a wholly original version of Cinderella. I loved the little nods that she gave to the original tale with the prince and an old orange car, Cinder’s version of the pumpkin, while still fully fleshing out an entertaining and original story.

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, is a fantastic female lead. She is confident in her work as a New Beijing’s most skilled mechanic, just the right amount of snarky, and a strong young woman. However, she still has insecurities and self-doubt, that make her character believable. She is a very interesting narrator as she struggles with being a second-class citizen as a cyborg and not being a real part of her adopted family.

I appreciated that, when Cinder met Prince Kaito, she was obviously interested in him, but didn’t become obsessed and completely taken over by her epic love for him. She finds him very charming, but also intimidating and off limits; as he is royalty and she’s a cyborg. Kai, as he’s called, really is a swoon-worthy love interest. He is sweet and funny around Cinder and almost bashful in his interest with her. We see that, although is the crown prince, he has his insecurities. He pursues her without ever turning into a sociopath stalker that must have her at all costs. Their interactions will leave you rooting for them to get together, in spite of the obstacles.

All of the secondary characters are well written and dynamic. The wicked stepmother, Adri, is appropriately hateful and the Lunar Queen, Levana, is evil enough to be an excellent antagonist. Iko the android, and possibly Cinder’s closest friend, is really amusing and is a nice contrast to Cinder’s dry humor.

What really took this story past the point of being just a sci-fi Cinderella to a fantastic story in its own right is the plague storyline. You get to experience the pandemic that is ravaging the world through someone close to Cinder, drawing you in to the horror of what is really going on. I loved the concept that this is a futuristic world, with advanced technologies, but it is still not squeaky clean and perfect. There is still disease and grit and fear.

The ending will leave you completely ready to dive in to Scarlet. I’m just sad it will be so long before Cress and Winter come out. This really is a fantastic series that I would recommend to anyone. You won’t feel like you wasted your time on a single page you read.

Dark Book Reviews

Since I am applying to be a book review at All About Romance, I thought I would share the two reviews I wrote today. As I was titling this post, it hit be that both books have “dark” in their name. Odd coincidence.

Lord of Darkness

Elizabeth Hoyt

Rating: A-

I am not a big reader of historical romance at all, let alone those that are considered “regency” era. I tend to find all the talk of lords, ladies, duchesses, viscounts, and what have you a bit dry and tedious to read. Elizabeth Hoyt, however, does historical romance extremely well.

As soon as you start reading Lord of Darkness, the characters pop off the page, especially the secondary characters. The story begins with Godric St. John standing at gunpoint, with his estranged wife holding the gun. Godric has been moonlighting as the “Ghost of St. Giles”, a masked crusader who has set out to protect the innocent, even at the risk to his own life. Margaret, who was married to Godric two years prior and hasn’t seen him since, doesn’t recognize her husband, but believes that the “Ghost” is to blame for the murder of her first love. Her plan to avenge her deceased lover, and conceive a much-wanted child with her husband, has brought her back to the city and smack into Godric.

Even if you don’t love Godric and Megs, as Margaret is called, the setting and secondary characters will keep you reading. It’s rare for me that a regency romance is actually funny, but Lord of Darkness has some very amusing points. Specifically regarding the pregnant pug dog, named Her Majesty, who only wants to eat sautéed liver.

The internal forces keeping Godric and Megs apart are understandable, as they have both suffered great loss in the way of former loves. You never feel as though the entire plot hinges on unsaid things and misunderstandings, like many romances. The relationship that develops between the hero and heroine is believable and happens at an excellent pace. You can really feel their growing affection toward each other and their struggles.

This is a steamier book, as romances go, and, personally, that was one of my favorite parts about the story. One of the crucial changes in Megs and Godric’s relationship comes from their sexual encounters. She tells him she wants to have a baby, he reluctantly coalesces, but Megs gets more than she bargains for from their couplings. It actually made the intimacy very touching, and not just naughty.

Although this book is number five in the Maiden Lane series, it does not seem to be necessary to have read the previous books. I had not read them and was perfectly comfortable following the plot. The only place there might be some confusion is from many of the background characters that make appearances in the book. A lot of names and relationships are thrown around, presumably characters from the four prior novels, and though that gets confusing, it does not hamper the enjoyment of the book at all. Conversely, fans of the series will most like find Lord of Darkness to be an excellent addition to Hoyt’s Maiden Lane collection.

What Happens After Dark

Jasmine Haynes

Rating: D

Erotic romance with sadomasochism seem to be all the rage now, but Jasmine Haynes has been writing them since long before any others got to be popular. In What Happens After Dark, Haynes follows up with another book in the DeKnight series that is both erotic and conflicting. Haynes is not afraid to lay it all out there both sexually and with real-life issues. In the first DeKnight book, we saw a couple dealing with the death of their son. In this addition, we meet a couple struggling to build a relationship in spite of repressed sorrow.

Bree Mason is a troubled woman who seeks out dominating men in order to cope with her past trauma. When one of her Doms gets out of control, she is rescued by Luke Raven. While Luke is sexually adventurous, he has a hard time keeping up with Bree’s more, for lack of a better word, violent appetites. What he really wants is to get to know Bree better, to have a real relationship without the trappings of their dominate and submissive relationship, as it currently stands.  However, she is reluctant to enter into anything beyond the purely sexual realm where she feels most comfortable.

Besides the frequent, and gratuitous, sex scenes, we see Bree struggling with her ailing father and her mother, who has spent her life serving him. From the stifling environment at her parent’s home, and Bree’s reluctance to return there, we begin to see that something has gone terribly wrong in her childhood and to understand why Bree has acted out.

Although I understood how Bree’s past had driven her to a life of vulgar name calling, rough treatment, and sex clubs for gratification, that didn’t make it any easier to read.  I couldn’t get on board with Luke practically beating her because she kept driving him to it through anger or jealousy.

The writing itself is well done, and I am a fan of Haynes work, however the darker themes of this book really stick with you after you set it down. The memories of her father seem at odds with all the sexual content. I have no issue with erotica, but reading steamy scenes back to back with the heroine’s childhood abuse was disturbing.

Overall, the book left a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed to me that Bree, and her mother, were in desperate need of some therapy, not just a good boyfriend. Luke seems to be a great guy but he does give in to her more kinky desires, and then scolds himself after. While I applaud Haynes for bravely tackling such serious subjects in her erotica, it just made for an awkward book that I wouldn’t recommend unless you can stomach the idea of a woman working out sexual abuse through her boyfriend.

Not Much Knitting

I haven’t been around the blog in over a week because, honestly, that’s how long it’s been since I’ve knit. Now, there has been a WIP on my bed at all times, and one in my purse. Occasionally, one will get moved to the living room as though it might receive some attention, but I just haven’t knit. It’s odd, normally when I have a project I particularly like, I want to work on it as much as possible. I like the green hat I’m working on. The pattern is nice and easy, the yarn is beautiful, and the only drawback I’ve really had is that there’s a lot of seed stitching or ribbing and, as a throw knitter, I don’t like alternating between knit and purl. It doubles the motions I have to make to move the yarn forward or back and then throw it. I’ll admit this does deter me somewhat, but not enough to explain my lack of knitting.

That being said, the last week has been tiring and busy with other things, which could explain my yarn drought. I’ve done a lot of reading. However, that doesn’t get reflected on the blog because, in spite of my attempt to link my Goodreads account to here, it has yet to work out. My reviews aren’t exactly so profound that they’re worth the extra step of copying them over to here. Books I’ve finished lately include Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt, Seeing is Believing by Erin McCarthy, Matched by Ally Condie, and Spells and Stitches by Barbara Bretton. The last is a knitting themed book, at least.

The other thing I’ve done with the last week is once a month cooking. I got the idea from the site Once a Month Mom, which is fantastic, even for not-moms. They have some fantastic monthly meal plans that you can customize to how many people you’re cooking for. They even give you a shopping list, labels, and step by step instructions for how to most effectively prepare the meals. I did the diet menu for March and their helpful tools were well worth the small subscription price. I now have a freezer full of meals for the month. It took me the better part of Monday to prepare them all, plus several hours Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday for shopping, prep work, and some final recipes that I was too tired to make on Monday.

Now that all that cooking is done, and I’m only reading one book, you’d think I could go back to knitting the green hat.