Life is Short, Talk Fast

The Christmas knitting continues apace.

I can't actually show any of it to you because family, but suffice to say it is as massive an undertaking as I originally imagined. Only now it's compounded by the fact that we will be moving the week before Christmas. Two presents down, eight to go, and I haven't even packed for Thanksgiving let alone the move. Luckily the universe has intervened in my impending nervous breakdown with the advent of a Gilmore Girls marathon on UP tv.

Yes, I did just finish my own semi-annual rewatch this summer and yes I have all the seasons on dvd plus a netflix subscription, but Pasha and I are still watching. I bought my first Gilmore Girls dvd box set when I was 16 and since then the series has served as a background for much of my life. It's so intelligent and familiar that it is a comforting show to have on in the background while I do other things.

Of course Pasha and I are indulging all of our Gilmore Girls fanaticism (he's a fanatic too, he just doesn't know it yet) while we watch. We are burning a Gilmore Girls candle,

It serves as a nice distraction from the mayhem that is life these days.

 

Please, Luke. Please, please, please

Today's post is not going to be what I planned.

Yesterday I had this great plan all laid out that I would tell you all about my love of Gilmore Girls by talking about today's Luke's Diner popups that are taking over coffee shops across the country. I and a few like-minded friends decided to hit up the one central to us and have knitting at Luke's.

I'll do anything if I get to wear an outfit!

I'll do anything if I get to wear an outfit!

I of course dressed accordingly (you can find this tshirt here).

Now we were prepared for it to be busy because this is a very nice and trendy coffee shop to begin with. We were even prepared for them to be out of free coffee by the time we arrived at 9am. What we did not expect is that two hours after opening the line would still be across the parking lot and that they would run out of the 500 commemorative Luke's cups.

I'm confident enough in my Gilmore Girls obsession that I don't need the Instagram picture of me with a Luke's cup, but man did I want it. It's one of those weird dichotomies of fandom -- loving something so much that you want to share it with everyone yet feeling resentful when it gets so popular. I still have all of the seasons on dvd, painstakingly saved for as each was released, and very specific episodes that I watch on specific days. People used to think I was weird for having a specific episode that I watch when I have to pack for a move (Concertus Interruptus), but I hardly got any looks when I had a pre-labor marathon of all relevant episodes.

Maybe it is because I am in a new demographic. When I watched Gilmore Girls the first time (and bought all the seasons on dvd and made posters out of magazine photos) I was a Rory through and through. Right down to the Russian literature obsession (my mom still has a theory that I studied Soviet history in part because of Rory). In the intervening years I've grown up and started my own family. Life has not gone the way I planned (for which I'm grateful) and now I find myself more of a Lorelei. So do a lot of women my age. And now thanks to Netflix we don't have to loan out our worn out dvd collection to get all of our other friends addicted. It's wonderful. I'm so happy to have all these new Gilmore fans in the world. It's just such a weird feeling when something you've loved for so long is cool.

Find this awesome tshirt  here

Find this awesome tshirt here

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to console myself with some coffee and my favorite season. Copper Boom!

Books, I've Read a Few

It's been a while since I've truly checked in with the books I've been reading.

Last year I made it a goal to get reacquainted with the Russian novelists I loved in high school, a goal I failed miserably (and now I'm faced with a terrible choice -- watch War and Peace or finally slog through 1000+ pages only to have people think I read it due to the show and not because it has been on my to-be-read pile for *gulp* ten years). But despite my failings I have been reading quite a bit. To the point that Chris can't believe I'm still reading the same book I was working on last week (The Gollum and the Jinni -- some books just need to be savored).

I recently started listening to the new What Should I Read Next? podcast by Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy. Confession time: I did not start reading her blog until after I started listening to the podcast because the name was a real turn off for me. I am not a Jane Austen fan (put that pitchfork down!). Not because I don't like to read older literature, but my tastes are more dark and tragic than the plucky Austen heroine. If I'm being honest I haven't given her books a try since I've been an adult, but it became such a part of my reading identity that I don't feel compelled to change that any time soon (ever the rebel am I).

But I'm getting sidetracked. The podcast has caused me to really think about my reading habits. What are my favorite books? Can I decide on any that are not staples of my high school or college years? In case you have not heard the show, the format is very simple. Anne has a guest on each episode and they list three books they love, one book they hate, and what they are currently reading. Then she gives them three personalized recommendations. I decided to do this myself, but based only on the books I read in 2015. Because, well, that's not as hard as going through my entire back catalog. Right?

Ok, so three books I love.

First, Valley of the Dolls

Stop judging me! Why do I feel like you're judging me right now? 

We have this used book store called The Dollar Book Exchange that operates on a very basic premise. Every book is $1. They are open one weekend a month and it is a truly delightful madhouse. I often get swept up in the excitement and end up making crazy impulse purchases simply because why not? Which is how I ended up with Valley of the Dolls. I was skeptical when I picked it up, but I fell in love with it. Remember what I said about enjoying literature that takes a more tragic route? This does exactly that. And it was just after You Must Remember This finished their Charles Manson series, so my brain was already in a 1970s headspace. For the uninitiated Valley of the Dolls is the story of three young women who find fame and misfortune in mid-twentieth century America. There are affairs, tragic deaths, and of course lots of drug use. It's delicious.

Life After Life

This was my first Atkinson, which might have been bad because I'm not sure how the rest can live up to such a treat (I've been assured they can). Several of my coworkers spotted me reading obsessively and asked me to explain to them what it was about. And it was simply impossible to explain in any way that made sense. Which is the mark of a great book if you ask me. Broadly, it is an exploration of the many different paths a life can take through the life of Ursula Todd who continually restarts her life after each death. I don't want to tell you more because that would take the magic out of it, but I love the subtle humor and the way that the author seems just as exhausted as the reader at stages. Like we're all in on the same joke. I've since made it a goal to read all of Atkinson's novels starting from the beginning. I love when I find an author whose entire catalog I need to read as it gives me so much to look forward to.

Uprooted

If you're into books at all you probably heard about this one. I preordered it after hearing an NPR rave (this is how I find a lot of my favorite books) and could not put it down. Based in Russian fairytale and featuring an unlikely heroine this was tailor-made for me. Just writing about it makes me want to reread it. I hear the audiobook is phenomenal, so I might save that for a late-night with baby treat to myself. Don't let the fact that it is a fantasy novel that starts with a young woman being taken as tribute by a wizard turn you off. That barely scratches the surface. Every time I'd reach a point that in any other novel would be the majority of the story, events would transpire and suddenly we'd be past that. "How can there be more" was a thought I had almost as much as "can this never end".

As for the book I hated? That's a no-brainer. Aftermath

I disliked this book on so many levels. So much so that I didn't finish it and it made me very fearful for The Force Awakens. I've mentioned before that I am a wee bit Star Wars obsessed (OK, maybe a lot. My friend Michal recently outed my tattoo in an article on the new film). I have a lot of experience with the Expanded Universe, which did for me what Harry Potter did for so many other kids (I love those too, never fear). So the fact that this entire back catalog of knowledge was being erased filled me with trepidation, but I was hopeful that it would be done right. Boy was I wrong. I have nothing to say about the story itself because I did not make it far enough to have a real opinion. My big problem? The writing. The writing was so bad! Like how could anyone publish this bad. Like the very reason people don't take franchise-based novels seriously bad. I just know Ann Crispin was turning over in her grave.

So there you have it. A brief snapshot of my 2015 in books. It seems I love slightly tragic female heroines and have a definite preference for female authors. I know you're shocked. But my question to you is this.

What should I read next?

Taking a Breath

Today is a really special day for a few reasons. It is the first day of school, and it is my wedding anniversary!

As you can imagine, things are a little crazy, but I've got my August sock on the needles (not that I will get to work on it).

Due to the way life seems to be going, I'm going to take the week off from blogging. But I would hate to leave you alone in this space, so here are some cool things you can go check out.

  • Alex Tinsley has launched a new Kickstarter campaign, this time with a collection to benefit organizations seeking to specifically re-home black cats and dogs. Helo approves.
  • My new podcast obsession is YarnTalk. It's more of a youtube channel than a podcast, but it means I can now count an Allyson Dykhuizen pattern for the PALKAL.
  • Speaking of YouTube channels, Felicia Day's The Flog is back!
  • Also not about yarn, but the Two Bossy Dames newsletter is a wonderful gem delivered straight to your inbox. Just check out their archive.
  • I love this post over on Neglecting My Kids about how seasons change for knitters. 
  • And Emma Welford is writing great things about picking colors for a sweater project.

Hope you enjoy your week!

The Ultimate Kid Holiday

Happy November!

Is it cold where you are? Because it is cold here! It was like October ended and took any hint of warm with it. But before we hit November we had Halloween!

Working with kids means that every year we invest a lot of time and effort into Halloween festivities. It is the ultimate kid holiday. And it means that workplace costumes are highly encouraged. This year I actually decided what to do a week in advance and so managed to pull something together with which I was quite pleased.

Rapunzel!

The dress is clearance H&M in a size much too large so that it was long and drapey, and the sweater is the Lightening Shrug which I knit a few years ago out of Knitting Notions Classic Merino Sport. I bought little Pascal at the Disney Store and sewed him onto my shoulder for help with costume recognition. But the part that I am most proud of is the tiara, which I made based on this tutorial.

The original tutorial calls for a lot of very specific stones, but I did not want to invest that much time and money in the shopping part, so I modified it a bit. I used gold glitter card stock because I decided not to do all of the cutouts that are in the actual tiara. I also used a rhinestone tulle ribbon for all of the pink stones, rather than purchasing 100+ individual pieces.

It took me a few days to get it all done, but overall I am very pleased with the result. Even adults who had no idea who I was were impressed by the amount of work that went into it. And the kids knew who I was, which is the whole point, right?