Thursday, 28 January 2010

Everywhere you look, there's a book

Yes, books are everywhere at the present moment in time. Both mine, and my son's. I've always been a reader, but X is fairly new to the concept. He struggled last year, and had to endure several months of Reading Recovery in order to catch up to his classmates' reading levels. He managed it quite successfully, which was a relief for all involved. Reading Recovery is quite an intense programme of reading every day, both with a teacher, and then at home. Unfortunately though, after all that hard work it was as though he'd had an overdose, and couldn't take any more. All reading he had for homework mysteriously didn't make it into his school bag, therefore didn't get done. I didn't catch on until quite late in the year, after noticing he hadn't had any for some time and questioning his teacher about it. Oh he'd had plenty! Just never did it...

I was a little more concerned when she put in his end of year report that he needed to 'expand his range of authors'. Range of authors?? He's seven!! Do seven year olds normally have a 'range'?? Apparently some of them do. Who'd have thought?

I've been trying in vain to get X to read one book all holidays - it started out okay, and he managed to get to page 13, and then refused to go any further, no matter how much I bribed him. (Yes, yes, I'm a bad mother. Blah blah blah...)

Anyway, I was having a chat to a friend yesterday afternoon about this particular issue (her seven year old being one of the blessed children that can read well, and does have a range of authors). She recommended the Beast Quest range, written by Adam Blade. It's full of mythical creatures and a young boy turned hero who has to save his village by slaying these creatures with a sword and shield. X has always been quite intrigued by knights and armour, swordfighting and heroes. (Deane's doing, of course!) So these books seemed to be right within his range of interests. I investigated a little more by checking out the Beast Quest website. Brilliant site! Even lets you download a chapter of the books! So of course I did this, and asked X to give it a quick read to see if he'd be interested. He sounded quite intrigued, so off we went to the bookstore to get the first book in the series, Ferno the Fire Dragon.

I'm pleased to report that he's already up to Chapter 3, page 33 (and there's even a Prologue, so he's read quite a bit since yesterday afternoon). He takes great delight in telling us when he's on a new page, or a new chapter, and it warms my heart to see his little face light up. This morning I gave him my Gryffindor scarf bookmark to keep his place when he's not reading, which he was rather pleased about. It's going well so far, and fingers crossed it continues :-)

As for me, I finished The Host by Stephenie Meyer, and I must say it was a bit of a page turner! I think she's done a great job of her first adult novel. Interesting storyline. My one criticism would be that the ending was very predictable. Having said that, I'm all for happy endings and it did work out almost exactly how I'd have liked it, so I'm not complaining :-)

I've also finished Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling, have entered my thoughts into the Read-Along forum on Ravelry, and eagerly await the Watch-Along we'll be having on (my time) Sunday 7th February, 2pm. For everyone else, it'll be Saturday 6th February, 8pm. I think it'll be fun to watch the same movie at the same time as people halfway round the world, and be able to discuss it (in a chatroom) together. What I really want to know is if everyone else has noticed the hippogriff pooping in forest ;-) I'll definitely be pointing it out!

Next up is a book I have for my book group, Careless by Deborah Robertson. Several members of the group who have already started it have said it's a gripping read, so I'm looking forward to getting started on it. Before I do that though, I have 3 1/4 squares left to knit for the Ron Weasley Blanket Swap, and only a week to go before they must be sent. Better get cracking...

Friday, 22 January 2010

I'm sorry, this is only going to be about me

You know, you never really notice how much you talk about yourself until you have a blog. Then it becomes rather apparent. You even start noticing how much you talk about yourself in normal every day conversation. At least I have. (There I go again, talking about me. Well, I did warn you...)

Anyway, updates:

......... yeah............... haven't done any. Well, school's back in a couple of weeks, so I'll be back into it then. No, really.

Is going well - must be all this time I'm spending at home while the boys entertain themselves :-)

I finished 'KJ's Commission' - a pair of socks in the Blackrose pattern. I'm not really sure why it's called that, but oh well. They look nice anyway :-)

As I said before, the pattern would have stood out more with a solid or semi-solid yarn, but I think they look fine. Hopefully KJ will like them - they should fit, the woman gave me umpteen-million different foot measurements!!

I've nearly finished the 6th square for the Ron Weasley Blanket Swap, so I'm on track to get 9-10 squares completed by the 5th February. Here are the ones I've made so far:

I'm using up a lot of my scraps of yarn, which I guess is the point. Although I don't think I can get away with using my sock yarn scraps...

I'm also nearly halfway through a secret gift - will post pics once the gift has gone to the intended recipient. Not sure if said recipient actually reads this blog regularly enough for me to worry about it, but better safe than sorry. It's knitting up really quickly though - I only started it on Wednesday afternoon! Should be finished by mid next week. Which means I can move on to other stuff!! Lots to do :-)

Still haven't done any...

Other Crafty Stuff
My special long-awaited thingee arrived from the US earlier this week, and is now in 'phase two'. I'm leaning heavily towards keeping this project for myself, so you may yet see pictures and get more details soon. Decisions, decisions!

I also received this week a special parcel - the NZ Yarn Sampler Box. Here's a pic of what I received in my box:

Quite a range!! There's some neat little samples in there - my faves are the Vintage Purls fibre, the Marshmellow Magic crochet booties set (with crochet stitch markers - yay! I needed some of those), the NZ tea towel, and this really cool sample of recycled sari silk yarn by Yarn Traders - although I have absolutely no idea what I'll do with it. I'm a little bummed that I missed out on some of the other good stuff, like Grrrl Shaped Yarns and Needle Food (although I don't really need more Needle Food), and I would've liked a Vintage Purls yarn sample, but oh well. The down side to this is that the samples are quite small (the yarn samples or fibre samples are about 20g, except for the sari silk yarn which is 25g) so it's going to be a challenge finding what to do with them. Some of the samples are ridiculously small and you really couldn't do anything with them! I'm glad I got the sampler box, but I don't think I'll do it again.

I've been a wee bit naughty and signed up for the next Needle Food Sock Club, even though I still haven't knit up any of the last three skeins from the other Sock Club. But as I told Deane, sock yarn doesn't go off, so it doesn't matter if it sits there for a while. It'll get used eventually ;-)

I've always thought I read quite a bit, and I think Deane would agree. I don't however think I read too much. Perhaps Deane would not agree. Anyway, I've decided to keep track of how many books I read this year, just to get an idea. So far I've only finished An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon. Although I am currently reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling (for the Harry Potter RAL on Ravelry) and The Host by Stephenie Meyer, just to see if her adult fiction is anything like her young adult fiction. People (who don't like the Twilight series) seem to think she might be a 'one hit wonder' kinda author (although technically there's four books, so I'm not sure what the term would be here) - I'm curious. So far it's kinda interesting...

Laundry Lottery
Has been sadly lacking, I guess due to the fact that the boys are at home, and don't have anything to shove in their pockets. Probably a good thing.

Well, that's probably enough about me for now, although I do have some good news (for me!) - Deane and I will be heading to Thailand in March for a two week holiday. YAY!!! He's been going on about taking a holiday overseas for a while now, and had pretty much decided on Thailand, but I said I wouldn't believe him until he'd booked the flights. So he went and booked the flights. Good man!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Hey! Where have you been??

Well, I've been blobbing around doing the whole Christmas/family thing of course! We went to Napier on the afternoon of the 22nd December, arrived back in Wellington the evening of January 5th with an extra. Extra went home on Sunday morning, and I've only just started to get some normality back into my days. Well, as much normality as possible for moi! So, lots to catch up on! Where to start? Hmm, we'll start with the bad stuff...

Sadly, this has fallen by the wayside. Like, the way way over there side. I've been for one run since Christmas. Just one. How sad is that? But I fully intend to get back into it, probably once the boys are back at school. I may manage a run or two before that (if my body hasn't forgotten how to do it) but I'm not promising anything.

Christmas Knits
I did it! I managed to finish all my Christmas knit projects with a little time to spare. I didn't get the extras done, but I'm sure my family will survive without their cheesy knitted dishcloths. Anyway, there's always next Christmas ;-)

So my final project was this:

My mum's socks. Yes mum, you will notice that that is your mat on your lounge floor. I finished knitting the toes at your place while you were at work, photographed them, wrapped them, and snuck them under the tree. So there really was only a little time to spare.

Once the Christmas knits were out of the way, I started on something for myself. It's something I've been wanting to knit for a while just because the yarn was so yummy and soft. It's a 50/50 merino silk blend worsted weight yarn, sent to me by a lady called Jo who lives in Canada. It was part of my Harry Potter June 2009 swap package (you may remember, I've mentioned it before). I knit it up into a Noble Cowl, as suggested by Jo. And I absolutely LOVE it! Can't wait for winter when I can wear it!!

I felt a little better after having knit something just for me, and was ready to move on to other projects again. So I have finally started 'KJ's Commission'. My friend KJ bought me three balls of Opal sock yarn in exchange for me knitting her a pair of socks. Patient person that she is, she was prepared to wait until after Christmas for them. So after agonising for days over what pattern I was going to knit for her, finally deciding on one, starting it, screwing it up, restarting, screwing up again, starting for a third time, deciding I didn't like the pattern after all and choosing an entirely different one, I'm now part way through the leg patterns and I think they're coming up okay. The pattern would stand out more in a solid or semi-solid yarn, but the colours are pretty anyway. I hope she likes the end result:

I've also started on the squares for round five of the Ron Weasley blanket swap. Thought I'd better, since the blocks are due to be sent in by 5th February. I'm running out of time - again! This time I've gone with simple yet effective (I think) - diagonal garter stitch blocks. I'm a little over halfway through the first one:

Only 9 1/2 more to go!! :-)

I've got stacks of knitting projects already lined up for this year, so I won't be running out of stuff to do! I forgot to mention in my December posts about the gorgeous third and final instalment of the Needle Food sock club, which arrived early December:

Mmmmmmmmmmm, purple... This colourway is called 'Midnight Feast'. Love it! So that's three pairs of socks waiting to be knit this year, just for me. And wait, there's more...

My favourite roving dyer has become my gourmet yarn source as well. Not only did she send me a link to a lady selling Malabrigo on Trade Me (oh my! I may pass out...), she kindly presented me with a skein of Three Irish Girls sock yarn at knitting group on Sunday.

Isn't it beautiful?!? Needless to say I gushed obscene amounts over this wonderfully gorgeous skein of yarn - at the cafe in the Botanic Gardens - I don't think I got too many odd stares from fellow customers...

So this skein will be waiting for the perfect sock pattern to be stumbled upon before being wound into balls for knitting. For me to purchase this skein myself would cost me around $40, hence, I have never bought any. I just couldn't justify the expense. I guess that's what incredibly generous American friends with American-dwelling family are for, right? Tracee, you rock!!

Other crafty stuff
Shall be getting under way momentarily... I have ordered my much wanted, long awaited special 'thing' from the US, and it is being shipped over at this very moment. I've been waiting for them to arrive in stock since about September (although have wanted one for years before that). This will be a project several years in the making, so don't get too excited. I may post teaser pics occasionally, but only if I feel so inclined (or rather, won't be able to help myself!) but I'm going to try and keep it a surprise until completion. Ha, good luck to me...

Spinning will hopefully get under way, perhaps once the boys have gone back to school. I have my Ashford Traditional wheel back, and Tracee (wonderful woman that she is!) gave me a kilo of fibre so I can get it working again, and get back into the spinning 'groove', before spinning up my pretty hand dyed roving (also from Tracee - seriously, this lady is amazing!)

Hawkes Bay trip
Just a couple of pics to share - Hawkes Bay is such a lovely place (if a little too hot for my liking - 33 degrees!! Ugh!). We spent a day at Waipatiki Beach:

This is the only glimpse you get of the beach on the (approximately) hour-long drive to get there - such a tease! Pretty though, huh.

Deane and I went for a walk one evening up to Otatara Pa, not far from my parents' house. This was the view from the Pa:

::sigh:: Just lovely.

Since we've been back home, we've been to the zoo, to the pools (big water park with slides, bouncy things, waterfalls, etc etc), on the cable car, the Botanic Gardens, and that's about it. Plans for future outings are a little fuzzy at this stage, but there's still the rest of January to go, so no panic :-)

Anyway, this post is getting kinda long, so I should probably stop rambling. More updates to come...