Friday, August 29, 2008

summer booklust

Truthfully, I haven't had much success making things this summer, but I cannot say the same for reading. For most of our vacation it was my hobby of choice, and my solitary subway ride home has really been adding up in reading hours. I've even finished another Canadian novel since I took this picture, but for now I'm going to see if I can do a quick recap of the six books above, three of which are part of my Canadian Challenge list.

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews: Gut-wrenching. The insight into the lives of Manitoba Mennonites was fascinating, and yet so heartbreaking. After reading Toews' memoir for her father, I could see him in this novel's father character and it just added so much more emotion to his fragile existence. The tragedy of being shunned by your own community is hard to fathom, but I rooted for the whole family despite their impossible future.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan: Shocking, even though I never saw it coming. Most of the way through I had a difficult time empathizing with Mamah Cheney, the married woman who left her family to be with Frank Lloyd Wright. Her daughter was under 2 when she left and as much as I tried, I just couldn't get over choosing a man instead of your children. I feel bad even admitting it here, but I just couldn't let the feeling go. Regardless, the novel was a wonderful study of a particular time in history, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The ending knocked me clear off my feet and I can't stop thinking about it. And to know that it's goodness.

Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins: I saw the author on Rogers Television on what must have been a very impressionable night. The next day I decided to pick the novel up as my vacation treat - a brand new hardcover about two creative types dealing with marriage and pregnancy. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The tension was good, even creepy, but in the end I don't know exactly what happened and it left me annoyed. For the time I invested, I wanted to at least understand the ending. I must be losing patience as I age - it was just like the end of Half Nelson, which still bugs me even thoughI enjoyed Ryan Gosling's performance.

The Given by Daphne Marlatt: Long ago someone handed me Ana Historic and I devoured it. I loved that novel, and to this day I rank it as an all-time favourite. So you can imagine my high expectations for The Given. Sadly, my experience wasn't the same. Definitely there were beautiful passages and fragments of thoughts that I savoured, but the story itself wasn't as complete for me and I lost interest quickly. I dog-eared many, many pages - I just think the novel form wasn't right for this story. Does it count if I say the cover is fantastic?

A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart: Oh, Jane Urquhart. I adore everything she has written and this particular novel was spectacular. Also, I read it at the cottage, in Prince Edward County, having no idea that the novel was set inPrince Edward County. Clearly this added another dimension to my experience, but I wouldn't have needed it, the novel was such a pleasure on its own. Her language is so clean and gentle, and I fall into another rhythm when I'm inside one of her stories. The characters fascinated me and the whole notion of landscape informing our essential nature is inspiring.

The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson: I chose this mainly because the story synopsis mentioned a 17th century embroidery pattern book, but I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting to. Of all these books, it was the lightest and swiftest, almost like chick-lit for the fibre geek (that's me). I learned historical facts I never knew, travelled from the British Isles to Morocco and enjoyed descriptive passages about fabrics and needlework. It was exotic, authentic, and I know my Mom is going to love it!

Hmm, I just realized that's a lot of girl power - I should sneak a male author or two in soon! And next time I'll try to get back to the knitting comparisons. Six was simply too much to tackle this late at night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

push pins be gone

Most days involve working, making dinner as soon as I get home around 7pm followed by getting Sadie to bed. At 10pm I get back downstairs with only enough energy to sit and knit in front of one Veronica Mars episode (which we're almost done...what am I going to do?). Considering all this, I'm still a little shocked that I finished this blind. But make no mistake, I had to make a deal with Jay to get a few hours alone on a precious Saturday afternoon to work the miracle. I'm not crazy about dipping into quality Sadie time, but the push pin look had really worn out its' welcome.

Otherwise there's not too much to say about this hard-to-photograph blind: Shinzi Katoh fabric which I still really love, a simple roman blind style, and finally the breakthrough to use white lining to keep the blind as bright as possible (using regular muslin was truly a stumbling block for me). Finally, one check mark on the bloated to-do list.

One small secret though...after all the painting efforts of last year, I'm about 99% certain that I have to repaint the kitchen. The grey feels too dark, and I miss the ivory walls. To-do list, you get bigger every day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

thriftin' in kingston

Unless we want Sadie to own the worst collection of teddy bears ever, our thrifting days with her are numbered. In fact, she may not even like the whole thrifting hobby her parents have, but this summer the stangers-keep-giving-me-teddy-bears-for-just-being-cute habit kept her sufficiently interested.

Over vacation we learned once and for all we're really not beach people (Sadie included). What we do have a strong love for is exploring every junk shop/thrift store/antique stop we stumble upon. I may even proclaim it's the whole reason Jay likes travelling by car, anywhere. Our two weeks in eastern Ontario were thrift-prolific, and the photos above are just a few of the fun things I found.

Even during university Jay and I seperately enjoyed the Sunday antique market in Kingston, and every time we get a chance to visit we find a gem. This time it was the $18 table and chair set for Sadie. Each piece folds (great for packing up into the car) and it was made in Belleville which feels nice and authentic. Sadie loves it, though the GIGANTIC smile she has in the photo may have more to do with the little sequin purse her Gramma found for her. At the market I also found what I consider to be "the perfect bowl". Stamped "Pigeon Forge Pottery, Tennessee" it is a cool oatmeal colour, glazed inside but matte on the outside. And the shape is oh-so-pleasing. Some may say plain, I say perfect.

I also had luck with books and patterns. Does anyone else think the photos in old Beehive pattern books are a day's worth of entertainment? I may not have the courage to try the patterns though, the small type and older references are daunting but the women's cardigan on the cover is pretty cute. It reminds me of the Garnstudio cardigan people have been making, which is on my knitting wish list. And although it doesn't look like much, the small white book, sold to me for a whopping $3, is ominously called "The Wedded Life". It was written by a Philidelphia Reverend in 1886 and its' three chapters are called Marriage, The Husband's Part and The Wife's Part. Even better is that the front page is filled in by hand as a certificate of marriage, dated April 5th, 1898 and signed by witnesses. The book is also full of little newspaper clippings, the very last one being the obituary of the husband listed on page 1. It blows me away, and the language describing This is probably hands-down my favourite find.

See? We're addicted. I couldn't even pass up another wool blanket (I mean it's aqua, how can I resist?) though I'm dragging my feet making wool softies these days. But as an aside, I've almost talked myself into making another run of Bundlies circa 2008, and aqua would be a great colour to work with. So anyway, that's the story of a hopeless thrifter. Thank goodness I married another hopeless thrifter. We just need a way bigger house.

To store all the awful teddy bears, of course.

Monday, August 04, 2008

will knit for books

Wait - that's a little bit misleading. I mean that I will knit for the sake of books, not that I will knit for books as payment., I'd probably do that too. I'm a sucker for books. And knitting.

This "Canadian, eh?" hat is destined as a prize for the 2008/2009 Canadian Reading Challenge. I went all-out Canadian; clearly the colours are homegrown, and I think the stripes feel very "hockey", but I also knit it with Mission Falls 1824 Merino Superwash, a nice soft wool that is made right here in Canada. And I knit it entirely on vacation, at a cottage, and photographed it near a barn. So really, with the exception of not including a maple leaf, I think the Canadian angle is covered.

Size-wise, it works well on children and adults alike, it justs changes the style a bit depending on who wears it. Sadie would be my pick - I am biased of course, but I think she looks terribly cute in it. Well, Jay does too. Basically, I quite like the hat, and hopefully the prize winner will as well. At the very least I can promise it will keep the winner's noggin' toasty warm, in a truly Canadian way.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

vacation days

Oh, what a vacation.

For the past two weeks we stayed at a fairly secluded cottage in Prince Edward County. We had grass to play on, frisbees to throw, books to read and fantastic views to enjoy. Now I'm wading through piles of laundry and tackling an explosion of weeds in the yard, hoping to ease back into real life. Thank goodness for the extra day off tomorrow because I can already feel the back-to-work anxiety creeping in. But I have lots of posting to catch up on, from knitting to reading to thrifting. Cottage vacations are perfect for all these hobbies, not to mention just general relaxing. Throw in a marathon viewing of Veronica Mars, almost-daily blueberry picking and a trip to a lavender farm and that just about covers our vacation story.

Like I said, oh, what a vacation.