Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lit-Savvy Sunday: June 30

I'm cheating this week! I didn't technically read this, I listened to it thanks to Audible while I did laundry and packed. I even listened to it the night before the move instead of getting fully rested. This was my first ever audio book, and I'm going to review Audible/audio books in general from the point of view of a heavily visual and/or kinesthetic learner as soon as I get a free moment!

I love, love, love this series. It's one of those young adult books you just can't put down! Even though the audio narration was 11 hours long, I finished it in only three or four days. Pretties is the second book, following Uglies.

As predictable from the ending of the first book in this series, Pretties's plot line follows Tally from shortly after her operation as she rediscovers the person and life she lived as a rebellious Ugly. By chance, or maybe by fate, she meets a boy named Zayne who helps open her eyes to the problems that Pretties are all but mentally incapable of noticing or caring. All of her relationships with other characters become more mature and more complicated as they simultaneously learn more about each other yet misunderstand each other.

Beyond just a great plot, the morals and thoughts behind the plot thicken as well, as Tally realizes humans naturally have faults and even the way the city has handled humanity isn't cut black and white. As I like to say, every coin has two sides.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot just in case you couldn't resist reading my reviews, but seriously, go read it. This series is insanely entertaining and very thought-provoking about society, humanity, and free will. Once I finish the rest of the series I'll do a more comprehensive look at the themes and the way they tie back into the real world.

If you've read Pretties I want to know... Are Shay's feelings & actions justified? What about the Specials not getting consent but hypothetically using their power for the good of the planet and of the human race?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

4th of July & Canada Day Crochet Round Up

It's almost North America's birth week. As I'm currently staying in Canada but still very much American, I figured this week's round up should celebrate both country's holidays. The best part is that any of the patterns can be tailored to suit either country, just switch up the blue for red or star for maple leaf. The last two don't have patterns but they were too awesome to pass up.

What have you been working on to celebrate these holidays? Share a link to your project in the comments below.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Designer Rodarte

I am in fashion love. Rodarte is a clothing brand created by Kate and Laura Mulleavy. Many of their designs use crochet, knit, or other hand-crafted means to create a feminine but edgy look. They also helped create the famous Black Swan costumes! Here are some of my crochet-inspired favorites from Rodarte.

Are you crushing on Rodarte's crafty looks as much as me, or is it not your taste? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Year of Projects Blog-a-Long: Update 0

Earlier this week I had the delight of discovering a Ravelry group called "Come Blog-A-Long with a Year of Projects." The idea is you write a list at the beginning of the year including all of the projects you're going to finish. It can be as long and complex or as short and sweet as you'd like. Every Sunday, the members of the group will blog their updates and post it on the Ravelry group for everyone else to enjoy, and every month will have a different thread there's one separate thread for the year to share your finished objects. It's a great way to hold yourself accountable and get some crafts done, to meet other fellow yarn addicts, and as a bonus get some extra traffic on your blog!

Oh, and the quirk? The year begins July first. That means YOU can be just as thrilled as I am at getting to start this adventure with a full calendar year. Look at your yarn stash that needs busting, your pattern book you never opened, or your Ravelry queue and start making your list for the year. The first weekly blogs will be June 30th - July 6th, and but I'm still finishing up my list before I share!

Oh yeah, I also made that cute little banner and a matching square version for the sidebar. I posted it in the Ravelry group so anyone else can use it if they'd like.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Finished: 3 Dishcloths

Here's what I finished up last week! These are all new stitches for me.

The basket weave cloth is definitely my favorite, and while the puff stitch is nice, it didn't really "puff" as much as I expected. It's still pretty flat. Let me know what you think! Do you have any tips?

Monday, June 24, 2013

WIP Up The Week: June 24

Here are my Works In Progress for the week! I have a couple other projects I'm not finished with yet, but I can't access them because I am moving Friday so they're all packed up in boxes! Boo.

Last week I made a series of high-textured dishcloths, which you'll get to see in tomorrow's post, and I just knew the last one had to be the crocodile stitch. I've wanted to learn how to do this stitch since the first time I saw it, but through Google search and Ravelry, I couldn't find any dishcloth patterns made with it! So I went ahead and learned the stitch, and then unraveled it and started turning it into a dish cloth. I'll be sharing this pattern with you lovelies for free as soon as it's ready, so keep an eye out!

This simple beanie is going to be my first sale ever! One of my boyfriend's workout buddies wanted a plain black beanie to work out in. I'm terrified it's going to be too large, I should have eyed up his hat size or even asking, instead of just guessing. It's basically done, it just needs to get finished off.

Sorry for the glowy phone-camera photos. That hat looks radioactive! Tell me what your WIPs are in the comments.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lit-Savvy Sunday: June 23

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five

Chapters Six - Ten

What a powerful book. Fatalism is a fantastic word to describe the philosophy behind it.


1. The acceptance of all things and events as inevitable; submission to fate.
2. Philosophy. The doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable predetermination.

The main character is extremely passive in all things, in a very curious way. Vonnegut goes out of his way to say so, like in the first chapters where Billy was begging to be left alone despite being behind enemy lines. This makes much more sense once you realize the Tralfamadorian philosophy is basically fatalism, because all of the main character's actions emphasize this. A great example is when Billy knew he was about to be kidnapped by aliens despite having no warning, so he put on his slippers and went outside to wait for them to take him. That moment was structured that way, whether he wanted to go or not, so why have a profound opinion about it? In fact, I'd argue just about everything about this book was structured to emphasize fatalism. He continually writes about death but brushes it off with "So it goes," instead of making a big scene about it. Why weep for someone who's still alive, just not at this very moment?

One important thing to remember while reading this book is that, because it isn't necessarily in chronological order, it's very important to remember the details. There are many repeticious aspects of the book, going back and forth from one plot to another and back to the first, to using the same lines, "So it goes." The biggest hitter is when a seemingly non-important line is repeated at the end of chapter nine. The story, as far as Billy's life is concerned, basically is from Chapter 2-9 so the end of chapter nine very much feels like the end of the book. This is a clever place to put something special for the readers, since it's not technically the end.

As for chapters one and two, and the other brief moments when Vonnegut inserts himself into Billy's story, this book feels like a very shy memoir. Sometimes he'll describe in detail something Billy said or did or witnessed, then he'd tack on, "That was me," or "I was there." After all, Vonnegut begins the book by explaining that yes, "All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true," (p. 1). This is a clever way for Vonnegut to share his stories mixed with his philosophies because he's so detached from them. This way, when the reader begins the book, the reader thinks, man, this Billy guy is kind of nuts, instead of, man, this Vonnegut guy is kind of nuts. It's a very delicate balance between Billy's story and Vonnegut's support. Vonnegut retains his credibility so we carefully consider the things he's written, instead of brushing it off as some crazy writer, or alternatively, some crazy fictional character.

"It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters," (p. 129).

"Trout, incidentally, had written a book about a money tree. It had twenty-dollar bills for leaves. Its flowers were government bonds. Its fruit was diamonds. It attracted human beings who killed each other around the roots and made very good fertilizer. So it goes," (p. 167).

"Trout's leading robot looked like a human being and could talk and dance and so on, and go out with girls. And nobody held it against him that he dropped jellied gasoline on people. But they found his halitosis unforgivable. But then he cleared that up, and he was welcomed to the human race," (p. 168).

"The advocates of nuclear disarmament seem to believe that, if they could achieve their aim, war would become tolerable and decent. They would do well to read this book and ponder the fate of Dresden, where 135,000 people died as the result of an air attack with conventional weapons. On the night of March 9th 1945, an air attack on Tokyo ... using incendiary and high explosive bombs, caused the death of 83,793 people. The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 71,379 people," (p. 188).

What a crazy, fascinating book. Leave your thoughts in the comments and tell me what you're reading!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Baby Boy Crochet Round Up

Ruffles and dresses and hot pink, oh my! The vast majority of baby and toddler crafts are either specifically for baby girls or unisex items like plushies and blankets. My sister had a baby boy, not a girl! What's a gal to do? When searching for boys stuff, I found plenty of adorable hats...

[Click images for original listings]

This would be perfect for my nephew's jungle theme!

... but not much else. So I searched more, especially for paid patterns, until I started to find actual clothing.

This vest is adorable! It looks pretty easy too. The best part about baby clothes is they're so small it's okay if you have to start over and make it a second time. This is one of many patterns in a Crochet World magazine.

Now this is hilarious. My parents are all big motorcycle riders so I'm sure they'd get a kick of seeing their grandson in a mini leather jacket. The original listing even has patches on the arm and back that you could stitch on by hand! Again, this is mostly single crochets, but it is not apart of a larger magazine like the last pattern.

Here's a much softer look. The hat is the perfect accessory for a Paris-themed baby shoot, n'est pas? Such a charming young man in that sweater! As you probably guessed, you do have to buy the whole issue for this outfit but there are five in total, each a complete set, so there's bound to be at least one more set for boys.

"Watson, good lad, where's my cigar?"

I know, I know, if you crochet this peacoat in pink it would be great for a girl, too, but doesn't he look snazzy?

I couldn't resist. A few cute things for every baby!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Master Professional Conroy

Did you know there's a Crochet Guild of America?

Did you know you can become a certified Master Crocheter?

How awesome is that! If I could afford the course, I definitely would go for it in a heartbeat. It has seven parts, each focusing on a different aspect of the craft:

Different ways to start your work,the importance of gauge, special stitches like extended/linked, various textured stitches, creating advanced decorative stitches with just the written pattern, creating motifs, and final touches like edges and weaving in ends.

It sounds challenging but not impossible by any means, I already know the vast majority of what they test, just by teaching myself. And speaking of teaching...

I also want to become a certified crochet teacher through the Craft Yarn Council in association with the Fashion Institute of Technology's Center for Professional Studies. This consists of three levels, with a certification upon completion of each level.

Level I - Instructor requires you to complete the coursework and complete 15 hours of student teaching, qualifying you to teach beginner's classes.
Level II - Teacher requires you to complete the next level's coursework and another 15 hours of student teaching.
Level III - Professional requires you to once again complete the level's coursework, an additional 20 hours of student teaching, create your own crocheted garment, and complete a graded teaching demonstration and written exam.

On top of this, you have a six month limit to complete each level or there are additional fees.

I am totally drooling over all of this! Let's not even bring up the workshops and events associated with the aforementioned groups. Are you certified? Would you pay for it? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bamboo Crochet Hook Review

This week I'm staying at my boyfriend's place, and thought I'd be perfectly happy crocheting the socks I started about half a year ago to get them out of the way. Wrong! I wanted to crochet other stuff since I'm not enjoying making these socks, but had only brought a teeny tiny hook with me, so the boyfriend graciously offered to take me to Walmart and buy another hook and some yarn. They didn't have any metal hooks, so I just grabbed the 5.0mm bamboo hook figuring it'll be basically the same thing but eco-friendly. Wrong!

There was definitely a learning curve to using this new crochet hook. Firstly, bamboo itself is a rougher material than the smooth metal I was used to. While it felt pretty similar in my hand, it was much harder to run it through the yarn. This, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. While it was initially very frustrating to be slowed down, I realized it was helping me loosen up my stitches. I am perpetually making my stitches too tight, so I definitely recommend a bamboo hook to anyone with this problem, especially beginners who haven't learned to be conscious about their stitches. After finishing a dish cloth I had quite gotten used to this aspect of the hook and was nearly up to my normal speed, but with looser stitches.

That said, it also has a prominent downside. I'm not sure if it's because of the bamboo material or the actual hook is too shallow, but I am constantly losing my yarn on this hook. Sometimes I have to try to yarn over two or three times before it finally catches. This is something that hasn't gone away with a little practice, at least not for me. I'm on my third dish cloth and it still happens fairly regularly. Maybe more practice will help, and seeing as I have no other options for hooks right now, I will definitely touch base to let you guys know if anything changes this week!

Curious about trying a bamboo hook? Order one up and tell me what you think. If you prefer bamboo hooks over metal hooks, let me know why in the comment!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Finished: Roll Up Star Hook Case

This project wasn't my all-time favorite. I found the stitch to make the stars a little tedious, and the pattern was wrong! I had to play around with it to find the right fix so the first half of the case actually has uneven edging. I tried to block it to fix it, but all I had were push pins and a towel, and I don't think it did much. I should have unraveled the beginning and start over, but I figure it'll get replaced soon enough anyway. If you want the corrections for this pattern, they're in my notes for the project on Ravelry.

Days to Complete: 4

The original pattern can be found for free.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Superman Crochet Round Up

I have had the new Superman movie's theme set on my Google Chrome browser since I got my laptop almost a year ago. One could say I'm a little excited. I am going to see the movie on Tuesday, but in the mean time, here are some great crochet patterns and goodies that are Superman themed!

I am dying to try turning one of these charts into a giant afghan! Did you see the Harley Davidson chart I linked on Twitter?. This website has a ton of super hero charts, so maybe I'll have to do a set of coffee mug cozies or scarves for the boyfriend's buddies. I've heard these work great with single crochets and the afghan stitch (aka Tunisian simple stitch) which are both square stitches.

SO. CUTE. It's from Arjeloops on Etsy. There's only one and it's reserved, but maybe if we ask really sweetly she'll make more. Earth needs more Superman.

Here's a downloadable pattern for a similar stuffed Superman for $5 by BotShop on Etsy.

Not Superman-specific, this is a free pattern for the iconic red cape. Alternatively make it in black and your little one turns into Batman. A crocheted cape would be perfect for those chilly Halloween nights.

Do you have any tips for working with charts? Who's the super hero lover in your life? Let me know in the comments!