A Love Story, Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
Alden Amos’ Big Book of Handspinning by Alden Amos
Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier
The Unbearable Lightness of Scones by Alexander McCall Smith
Dates From Hell by Kim Harrison et al
Food Rules by Michael Pollan
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong
Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes
Knitter’s Book of Wool by Clara Parkes
Time Quake by Linda Buckley-Archer
Death in the Cotswolds by Rebecca Tope
The big news this month is A Love Story, Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner.
Full disclosure: Emily and I are acquainted.
The good news: This has nothing to do with how much I enjoyed the book.
It was a thoughtful and heartfelt exploration of how the protagonist works through her sense of self and place when her best friend dies. Except it isn’t linear; Emily has performed an excellent balancing act addressing what happens before the death, what happens in the immediate storyline, and the bike journey the protagonist goes on between the two. It’s all woven together incredibly well, and my hat is off to her; I never could have done it.
Somebody won two medals in the preschool Olympics. Plus he was the flagbearer in the closing ceremonies.
The Olympics was very exciting for them. They do this every year, having events like Rolling the Biggest Snowball and Sled-Pulling as well as hockey and such things, but when the Olympics are actually going on at the same time it’s extra-special. They got to watch bits of the real thing at lunchtime, and the boy told us all about building an inukshuk and spray-painting it with food colouring yesterday. I really hope that they took pictures of everything, because I’d love to see it all.
[ETA: I have just been told that the final event was Ice Cream Eating. His win in this event pushed him from the silver to gold medal standing. That’s hilarious.]
And here at home, this is what the bobbins of the singles from the crockpot-dyed fibre looked like:
(Sorry about that third one; I had begun plying them and belatedly realised that I needed a picture, so it isn’t very clear. It’s the only one I took, so it’s all we’ve got.)
And the plied yarn:
[ETA: This is actually a good example of how different yarn looks when different plying techniques are applied to the same singles. In the first photo, standard three-ply yarn is at the top of the photo, and chain-plied yarn at the bottom. The difference is that regular three-ply has three different strands coming from three different bobbins, whereas chain plying uses a single strand pulled through a loop made earlier in the strand. It’s essentially single crochet plus twist. Regular three-ply can look barber pole-y; chain-plied preserves colour change along the strand, so there’s less contrast and a smoother, more subtle shift in colour from one end of the finished plied yarn to the other.]
A look at the results of yesterday’s I’m-taking-a-break crockpot dyeing:
This was 2oz of the greyish unknown wool I got in my secondhand lazy kate/bobbin package. There was a touch of angelina or firestar in there, too, which gives it a bit of sparkle. I’d love to say this was a masterfully planned and complicated colourway, but in all honestly it’s just Wilton’s Cornflower Blue, a really strong solution of it, with a natural breaking effect that separated the colour into reds and violets when the acid met the dye solution. I didn’t add vinegar to the dye, just to the water I presoaked the wool with. And even then it wasn’t a lot.
Someday I’ll try the ‘add drops of vinegar one by one at the end of the dyeing process’ thing when I use blue food-grade dyes to preserve the colour, but for now I kind of like the funky effect created by breaking the dye into its colour components with the acid. This will spin up very nicely, I think.
Got the freelance project in yesterday, too. *pats self on the back*
Courtesy of yesterday’s mail:
1. The spinner’s lap cloth I won from Phat Fiber! The one that’s dark on one side and light on the other so you can use whichever side provides better contrast depending on what colour fibre you’re spinning. And pockets on each end, that you can access from whichever side you’re using. Brilliant. The parts that aren’t dark brown or white (in other words, the border and the pockets) are made from a kind of minty turquoise paisley, which does not match my office at all, or indeed anything I own. I don’t care.
2. An advance reading copy of Emily (The Pirate Queen) Horner’s first published book, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, due out from the Penguin Group in June 2010. Montreal NaNo participants circa 2002-ish will remember her as Emily The Pirate Queen; I remember her fondly as my personal nemesis. And I am so freaking proud of her.
I also have a deadline. But you may have one of those, too.
Saturday morning we went out to the la Co-op la Maison Verte store in NDG to pick up gifts for a baby shower. It was snowing, and the boy put on his sunglasses and “snowboarded” down the sidewalks. He looked great, had a tonne of fun, and it really amused me. After lunch the boy and I packed up, picked up a new friend (yay!) and her adorable baby boy, and headed out to the West Island for Miranda’s baby shower. It was terrific to see Debra again (and she hosted a lovely party indeed), and to see Tamu and Phil, neither of whom I had expected to see. (No, I didn’t think about what other guests might logically be there; you may laugh at me.) The boy was very shy and clingy, and spent a lot of time hiding behind me or cuddling me. We gave Tamu a lift back to the metro so she could stay a bit longer, so it was a full car on the way home what with three grown women, a boy, and a six-month-old baby, which was a lot of fun.
Sunday morning I made big pancake breakfast, then realised I didn’t have the energy to go out and do the groceries. So HRH went alone, bless him, and I dozed in a chair while the boy played. When HRH got home I dragged myself to bed and had a two-hour nap.
Once awake again I made lunch, then made peanut butter-chocolate brownies from the Martha Stewart’s Cookies book, and hmm; her recipes are usually great, but this one wasn’t quite right. I substituted cocoa for the chocolate (I usuallly do this, because it’s less expensive) and cut a bit of the sugar comme d’habitude, but next time I’ll use less cocoa, a tad more sugar, and make twice as much peanut butter filling! Then I made hasty chocolate pudding, because I had promised the boy a few days earlier that we’d make pudding for the first time. The boy made it with me, stirring ingredients together and pressing the buttons on the microwave to cook it. (Recipe review: Pretty good for six-minute pudding. I halved the recipe, used brown sugar, added a tablespoonful of butter with the vanilla, and it was great. Next time, I’m cutting a bit of the cocoa, though, and I can’t believe I said that. And it really needs whipped cream to balance the chocolate. Although it occurs to me that a peanut butter swirl through it would be amazing. Hmm.) Then I puttered while the boy napped and HRH briefly went over to his parents’ house.
My monthly group cello lesson later that afternoon was great; we had a new student there, and did some good work on the Corelli. I’m having a stupid time counting, for some reason; I got lost in the middle of everything that I wasn’t playing the first cello line for (I’m fine with first and whatever the bottom line is, but I’m wobbly on the middle voices because I’m not sure how the harmonies are supposed to move or sound like yet). Despite this, our first read-through of Joplin’s “The Entertainer” went pretty well. We sight-read a new piece, “Soldier’s Joy,” that will be paired with “The Ashokan Farewell,” as well as getting the official new music for our quartets and trios. I really enjoy my group lessons, and I wish we could do them more often, although I know they’re a tonne of work for my teacher and the scheduling is enough of a nightmare.
Here’s some pictures of the plied Coopworth I spun up on Friday. The colour on the top photo is more accurate.
That’s 191 yards of nice, springy, lofty, woollen-spun yarn made from 4 oz of chocolate Coopworth roving (real roving, not misnamed combed top), two-ply, 11 wpi.