Books, Yarn, Knitting, and More!

I recently finished Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy. Several people I work with had recommended this series to me. One in particular had described it as, and I quote, "Non-stop action, like, with none of that talking bullshit." The series wasn't completely devoid of dialogue, but as promised, was very heavy on the action. The first book, The Blade Itself was particularly heavy on the action, but at the expense of plot. It was violent and action-packed and fast-paced, but at the end of the book, I didn't feel like we'd really gone anywhere. But it was a trilogy and I already had the second checked out from the library, so I gave it a go.

And am so glad I did. Before They Are Hanged was one of the best books I've read in a long while. All of the set-up and character development we got in between the action of the first book suddenly picked up, and the plot sped forward by leaps and bounds and there was plotting and intrigue and oh, the character growth! I couldn't put it down.

The trilogy finished up with Last Argument of Kings, which I just finished up this week. I feel like that the third book left a lot of loose ends and "what happens next?" questions hanging. However, I know Abercrombie's next two books, while they are stand-alone novels, do take place in this same world, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt there. Now, I normally try to avoid specifics in my book review so as to not be spoilery at all, but I will say this: Jezal dan Luthar underwent some of the most incredible character growth I'd encountered in a novel in Before They Are Hanged, and I didn't think it could get any more awesome than that. But then in Last Argument of Kings, he recognizes that he's changed so much, and indeed say to himself how different he has become... and then just at the end of the book shows that in some ways he absolutely hasn't changed at all. Fantastic, and I'll be definitely checking out his next books.

Anyhow, on to knitting! Epic Wedding Shawl is off the needles. I threaded it onto scrap yarn this weekend and blocked a slice of it to get an idea of how much the lace would expand. I measured the slice I blocked, then doubled it to get the shaw's diameter. As I suspected, Epic Wedding Shawl is not quite epic enough. But it's not as bad as I'd thought it be. So I need to get it back on the needles, knit a bit more of the lace section (I'd like to add another three inches or so which will give me six total inches for the shawl's width) then knit the border, bind off, block, and celebrate. Woo!

While Epic Wedding Shawl was drying enough for me to work on again, I picked up my Baktus. This poor thing has been on the needles since February. I actually already "finished" it, but came up way short on the end of it. I should not have come up short. I knit the shawl from two balls of yarn. Each ball is the same weight. I increased with the first one, switched to the second when that ran out and began decreasing. There is absolutely no reason why I should have run out of yarn SIX INCHES from the end. The second side was also inexplicably wider than the first half. I used the same needles, and there was no pause between when I knit the first half and when I knit the second half. There's no reason why my gauge could have changed so drastically that I ran out of yarn SIX INCHES from the end. I chalked it up to yet more evidence that I have somehow again displeased the knitting gods.

So I ripped back the entire second ball of yarn, then ripped out an inch from the second ball and began decreasing. At that point I was pretty sick of this project so I knit on it for a bit, then shoved it in a bag and forgot about it. I only ended up pulling it out because I'm still striving for project monogamy with Epic Wedding Shawl and I know that once I cast on a new project, it's all over. And, frankly, it would be sort of pathetic to fall down on that this late into it. I just have to hold on a little longer, and then I can knit all of the socks and hats and, yes, the fingerless gloves that I want.

In planning for this oh-so-glorious and forthcoming day, I went to Local BigBox Craft Store this weekend where I had a very awesome coupon for 15% off my entire purchase. In an effort to avoid the Christmas Knitting Woes I decided to get an early jump on it this year instead of going "I'm not going to knit a stitch for anyone this Christmas!" and then starting my Christmas knitting halfway through December and driving myself into a profound state of derangement trying to get it all finished in time. I haven't actually started any of my knitting yet, thanks to my [loving and committed] relationship with Epic Wedding shawl. But thanks to a sale and a very patient Jason, I've got all my supplies ready to go. I've got all my woolly ducks in a row, and the minute I've got that sucker pinned to the blocking board I'll be off and running.

I'm taking bets on how long this great motivation will last once I'm officially free to knit ALL THE THINGS. We'll see, I guess.

Recently I've also taken a sidetrip out of Yarnia and into Cross-Stitch Country. I bought some counted cross-stitch canvas and a couple of packages of embroidery floss, and a big stack of pattern books from my local library. I'm working on a little piece from the amazingly fantastic book of Subversive Cross Stitch patterns. I was previously unaware that they even had a physical book out, but there we go.

A couple of years ago I bought this kit for my mother:

...which, I have to admit, totally cracks me up every time I see it.

I suffered a bout of indecision the likes of which I hadn't felt since I set foot in the brick and mortar Wollmeise store, but eventually settled on a classy little piece that I think will be perfect for my darling little brother's upcoming birthday. Pictures to be posted upon completion, of course.

In the meantime, back to Yarnia I go. There's a shawl that's not going to thread itself back onto the needles its own damn self, ya know...