Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Children of Kings - Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross

This is the latest Darkover book – a series I’ve been following for a long time (heck, it’s outliving the original author).

In this book, Prince Gareth Elhalyn is chafing a bit at the strictured life he has to live in Thendara as the heir to the throne of the Comyn (as well as being a member of the notoriously unstable Elhalyn family).     His grandmother, Lady Linnea Storn, understands what he’s going through, and when Gareth decide to venture out to the Dry Towns, because Lady Linnea knows she can’t stop him, she gives him what help she can.    

The Dry Towns aren’t mentioned much in previous Darkover books –they’re more a threat on the horizon, a different part of Darkover that hate the Comyn lords.    Oddly enough, the most complete story about them is The Door Through Space, which isn’t technically considered a Darkover novel, as it was written early on while Bradley was writing these books, and she didn’t decide the Dry Towns were a part of Darkover until later.    (Darkover completist that I am, I do have a copy of it on the shelf next to the real books in the series.)    So it’s nice to see this part of Darkover dealt with in a story.

The story itself is a fairly standard young man goes to find himself in the desert and has adventures, mixed in with return of Offworlders, who had left Darkover when Gareth was very young.

There’s  a separate side story about Linnea’s oldest daughter, Kierestelli, who Linnea and her husband had had to hide away when she was young, and the World Wrecker had been trying to take out the families of Darkover’s ruling figures.     Stelli was lost to them at that time, and Regis and Linnea were never able to find her again.    Linnea accidentally stumbles upon Stelli, now called Silvana, who is the Keeper of Nevarsin Tower.     Silvana thinks her parents abandoned her, and wants nothing to do with Linnea.    Naturally, Silvana has a part to play in the larger story.

I could have taken or left Silvana’s part of the story.    It did seem a bit tacked on.    It does make me wonder if Bradley left a checklist of loose ends she wanted tied up, and Ross is just working them into stories as she goes along.      What did make me happy is that this story sets up the return of the Terranan, so there’s plenty of potential action, and hopefully more stories to come.

Knitting Notes

Here's try three for an orange hat for the BF.   I'm doing him another Jacques Costeau hat, which I'm hoping to make a little longer than the last one so he has a little extra length to turn up.

I'd forgotten how much tighter the fabric is on this one, due to the size 4 needles.   No wonder the Fisher Hat seems so loose in comparison.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Honey Cowl by Antonia Shankland
Yarn: Sundara sock yarn in the Winter Twilight Colorway
Needles: Size 6 circs

Last year's goof off cowl went much slower than this one did, I think because it was just stockinette.    All I did was the four row pattern repeat most nights, and it seemed to eat through yarn.   (Seriously - I got to a point where I decided to weigh the yarn so I could calculate how much a repeat used so I knew how much more I could use, and it turned out to be the second to last repeat.)

This is an interesting pattern, and it does look nice with this yarn, since the slipped stitches do interesting things to the color repeats.

The Essential Guide to Color Knitting - Margaret Radcliffe

I don’t often review craft books, because I don’t often read them cover to cover – what I buy are mostly technique or pattern books, and while parts of those are readable, reading the whole thing is usually only something a sadist would do.  I do occasionally make exceptions.

One area of knitting I haven’t explored in much depth is color work – mostly because the idea of working with multiple skeins of yarn at once is not something I’m terribly interested in.    However, I was listening to the Knit Picks podcast one day, and Kelly talked about this book, and what a wonderful resource it was.     She talked it up enough, I tracked it down, and added it to my Amazon wishlist.     Well, guess what was in the year end blow out DIY themed Kindle Daily Deal day shortly after Christmas?     For 1.99 (maybe 2.99 – a steal either way), I couldn’t resist.

And this is a really good resource.    The author does touch on the more complicated color work with multiple skeins of yarn that I’ve been avoiding, but starts out with color theory, and ways to more strategically play with color in your knitting.     She even ends with a chapter on designing with color.     I’d say it’s a good read for any knitter that wants to better understand how to pick their own colors for making knitwear.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

To Ride Pegasus - Anne McCaffrey

This is technically a reread – I was cleaning out my stored books, and came across the omnibus this was a part of.     I’d read it so long ago I figured it was time to revisit and figure out if I still wanted to keep it around.

Holy product of the 70s, batman!   The book is actually four novellas brought together, and one of them – “A Womanly Talent” has not aged well at all.    There was a point where I became acutely embarrassed that it was written by a woman, because holy-god-the-sexism!     I’m actually holding off from reading the other book in the omnibus just to give myself a little palette cleanser.    (I actually picked up two paperbacks of the books, because it would take up less room than the omnibus, and they were both on Bookmooch.    The cover for this one is also awful – definite 70s edition, and the women just look ridiculous.)

The basic background to this stories is that it’s pretty much present day today (so nearish future to when they were originally written), and people have finally figured out how to scientifically measure and quantify psychic talents like telepathy and telekinetics.    The four novellas in this book tell four distinct stories of people with these Talents, and how they eventually band together, both for recognition of these Talents, but also for protection from the non-talented, who are naturally afraid of them.    I still really love the concepts behind this, but some of the writing really doesn’t hold up.

Knitting Notes

I got all the way to the end of the Turbine hat, and had BF try it on before I actually finished it and cut any yarn, and it was way too small.     So that's frogged, and awaiting a new plan.   

Coincidentally, he realized that while he doesn't always love the stretchiness of the knit hat I'd made him a couple of winter ago, he does like how warm it is.    And since I made them in exactly the yarn (Malabrigo Rios), he has a good demo of how pattern actually does effect the warmth of the fabric.    So it looks like I'll be making  a very orange Jaques Costeau hat.    But that'll be waiting just a bit - I really cruised along on the Honey Cowl, so I think I'll finish that before casting on something new.

A Moveable Feast - ed. Don George

This is a Lonely Planet book, so it’s all about food and travel.   There are a wide variety of writers: chefs, food critics, and regular people.      And there are a wide variety of stories, usually about a particularly memorable meal while traveling, but that could range from a simple meal shared with a family in a Himalayan hut after a hiker was trapped by a snowstorm, to a food critic managing to get a reservation at Ferran Adria’s El Bulli, not long before that restaurant closed for good.

I think my favorite story was “Peanut Butter Summer”.   It’s a story of the author’s first trip to Europe, with her first love, where she discovered that people can have very different ways of looking at life.    What she encapsulated was how I see travel – going with the flow and hoping you’ll serendipitously find new and exciting things.     And I even say that as someone that has to plan the ever loving bejesus out of a trip before I go.    But, I happened to realize, due to a separate conversation I was having, while in CA, while reading this book, that I do this planning as grounding.    I do still hope to find those little surprises that make travel special – I just try to put myself in the best possible position to catch them.