Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Challenge: Days 8 - 11

I've fallen off the bandwagon a little in regard to the book challenge, so here is a short of catch up post on a few days where I don't have much to say about the book/s.
But first!!! Look at what I got for Easter, my own cute Peter Rabbit! So in love! And he loves being on my messy diningroom table.

Okay, the book challenge!
Day 08- An unpopular book you believe should be a Best-Seller
I don't actually have any book I can think of for this category. While I love several books that aren't popular, I don't necessarily think that they deserve to be best sellers. Also, as I tend to read classics, the books I read are generally well known anyway.
Day 09- A Book you’ve read more than once 
There are so many books that fit into this category! Heidi, Winnie the Pooh, Pollyanna, King Solomon's Mines, Jane Eyre (even though I don't really love it), Black Beauty, several Georgette Heyer books (including Regency Buck, Arabella, The Convienient Marriage, The Black Moth, The Corinthian, and so on forever after...), Little Women, several Famous Five books, What Katy Did, Swallows and Amazons, Atonement Child, Redeeming Love, Roses for Mama, The Calling of Emily Evans... well, you get the idea. I have my books that I love to read over and over. 
See the picture of the bookshelf below? I've read most of those books more than once, some several times, and a few of them not at all. And I've had the mug with the puppy on it since I was very young.

The above list is just novels, but there are also many picture books that I've read more than once (some which I only bought a year or two ago - I love them!). The Robot and the Bluebird is an especially sweet story.
Day 10- The first novel  you remember reading
I don't remember the first novel I read. The earliest memory of reading a novel which I can link to a year was reading half of Roald Dahl's Witches. It freaked me out. A lot. That was when I was in grade five, and I was 10 years old. Now that I've remembered that I'm also remembering that I read quite a few Paul Jennings books that year, at school without my mum's knowledge, as she would never have let me read them. I wasn't a completely innocent child! Even though that's the earliest memory I can put a year too, I wouldn't be surpised if I was reading novels even a year or two earlier. I have always loved to read!
Day 11- The Book that made you fall in love with reading
I've been around books since I was born, and I have books that I have loved for as long as I can remember. Reading was valued in our household, with mum often making a quick and easy dinner to she could get back to her book. When you see a love of reading modelled like that, and when you see how books are treasured, then it's almost impossible not to fall in love with reading.

However, if I had to narrow it down to a book/s (novels in particular), I think I'd have to say that it was Enid Blyton books, specifically Famous Five books, and Janette Oke's series Seasons of the Heart. Books by Bill Pete were also a massive, massive favourite (more about him on day 13... you'll just have to wait).

By the way, I do hope you aren't all terribly bored with these posts!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 07: A Book That's Hard to Read

What do these books have in common: Robinson Crusoe, The Savage Crows, Return of the Native and The Hobbit?
They are ALL hard to read. In Robinson Crusoe, for example, every noun was capitalised - it seems trivial, but it makes reading hard work. The Hobbit isn't technically hard to read, I just got REALLY bored.

No pictures this post as I'm feeling lazy! Sorry!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 06: A Book That Makes Me Cry

The last book in the Anne of Green Gables series, Rilla of Ingleside, makes me cry and cry and CRY. 

It has so many things in it to cry about. But I don't want to give to much away, because it's also one of my favourite books and one that I think EVERYONE should read. Let me make some dot points...

Things contributing to sad tears:

1. It's set during WW1 (Archduke Ferdinand is mentioned in passing on the very first page)

2. Several beloved characters enlist (major sobbing here).

3. Lovers, siblings and parents are left at home, knitting socks.

4. Someone dies (lots of tissues needed, I cried and cried... honestly, I cried at the end of the book before this in the series, Rainbow Valley, which foreshadows this death in the closing chapter).

Things that lead to happy tears:

1. Safe returns! Yay!

2. Dreams come true and weddings! Yay!

Day 05: A Non-Fiction Book I Actually Enjoyed

I love non-fiction books: biographies, autobiographies (I'll talk about these more on Day 25), and history books. I've read several non-fiction books for each of my degrees, but I can't say that any of them would be my favourite non-fiction book.

My favourite non-fiction book was found on my "Christian" bookshelf, the one with all my devotional books, Bible reading guides, etc. At first I thought it would be Jesus Freaks, which has dozens and dozens of stories of martyrs, from Stephen in the Bible, to people killed within years of the book being published. However, just as I was about the grab it off the shelf, I saw this book and knew it this was my favourite non-fiction book:

Heaven has a Blue Carpet is a funny, inspiring, heart-breaking, challenging book, in which Sharon Niedzinski talks about what it's like to look after sheep, and then uses that to explore what this means in regard to the Biblical metaphor of the sheep (Christians) and the Shepherd (Jesus). 

As someone who grew up in a Christian household which also had pet sheep (sort of... we ate them...), I had a good understanding of the sheep-shepherd idea, but this book really brought a lot more insight and understanding. It's inspiring and encouraging and I throughly recommend it if you're struggling with understanding how much you are loved and cherished by God.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 04: A Book That Reminds Me of Home

A book that reminds me of home is Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.

I have read this book so many times, I really love it. I first read it when I was fairly young, so it reminds me of home for a few reasons.

This book brings back memories of reading it while curled up in my bed.

The March girls (Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy) put on several plays, which reminds me of the family "acting" that I did with my sister and brothers. We used to act out things like Little Red Riding Hood, David and Goliath (as the oldest, and therefore tallest, I was always Goliath), and Godilocks and the Three Bears. We also acted out the whole of Pilgrim's Progress, which features prominently in Little Women, as those of you who have read it will know.

Mr. March was in the army, just like my dad was, though happily my father wasn't sent home injured or sick.

The March family didn't have much money, and that was okay. Growing up, we didn't have much either, but that was okay too.

Meg got married young, just like I did.

The March girls, and Jo especially, made a newspaper-type-thing, just like I used to do. I should share some pictures of them! They're cute!
If Jo was still alive, I'm sure she would have a blog, just like I do.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 03: A Book That Completely Surprised Me

Once I watched the first ten minutes or so of Little Lord Fauntleroy. I was bored out of my mind. (In my defence, was only 12.)

Some of you will know that I love classic children's books. I'm not talking about picture books, but chapter books (though I also love picture books). Things like Winnie the Pooh, Little House on the Prairie, What Katie Did... love them! I also love LOVE love second hand books: hardbacks with someone's name handwritten on the inside cover, maybe a torn page or two. A book that has been loved, in other words.

So, when I see a second hand copy of a classic children's book that I don't own and haven't read, I'll generally snap it up like it's chocolate and I'm hormonal. You know what I mean.

And that is how I came to own a copy of Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 

I put off reading it for a long time as I thought it might be a little slow or tedious.

I was so very delightfully wrong. It's a beautiful, charming story. I didn't want it to end. It has a bit of mystery too. Also, the dog's name is Dougal! Just like my (now departed) cat. I thoroughly recommend it.

Sorry for this dodgy photo!
Now I think about it, I haven't liked the movie adaptions of any of Frances Hodgson Burnett's books, but when I read the books I have always been pleasantly surprised: The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, Little Lord Fauntleroy. The Railway Children is also a great story, though I've never seen a movie of it (I'm not even completely sure that there has been a movie made of it). Frances had the storytelling knack.


ps: add your link in the comments if you're joining in!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 02: My Least Favourite Book

My least favourite book is one that I read for uni, while completing my honours year.
I can't actually remember the name of the book, so thoroughly have I attempted to forget about it.

Basically, this book was a rewritting of the Noah's ark story. In it, God dies and Noah is a pedophile, and that's just the start. As a Bible-believing Christian, I found this novel incredibly offensive: I think it was slanderous and blasphemous.

Other students in the class who also read this book enjoyed it - and it was certainly well written. But what some people like, others do not, and this time I fit in the latter group.

I guess the main thing I don't like about this book is the way it depicts God as an old, imcompetent, unfaithful and untrustworthy man. This is so opposite to how I think of God, which is as a faithful, trustworthy and loving father who delights in those who love him, just as a human father adores his own children. 

If you've written about your least favourite book add a link in the comments so I can check it out!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 01: My Favourite Book

I have many books which I love and consider favourites. I think, however, that my all time favourite book is The Last Sin Eater, by Francine Rivers.

 The tag-thing (what is that called?) on the front cover reads:  
A little girl's quest for redemption uncovers a dark secret... but the truth shall set her free.

The blurb:
All that matters for Cadi Forbes is finding the one man who can set her free from the sin that plagues her, the sin that has stolen her mother's love from her and made her wish she could flee life and its terrible injustice. But Cadi doesn't know that the "sin eater" is seeking as well. Before their journeys are over, Cadi and the sin eater must face themselves, each other, and the One who will demand everything from them in exchange for the answers they seek. A captivating tale of suffering, seeking, and redemption.

I'll say straight up that this book isn't the most brilliantly written book I've ever read, and there are a couple of sections which at first I wasn't sure about, though on reflection, I think they actually are appropriate: for example, the way the preacher talks is quite long winded, but I think that's actually a fairly accurate representation of how they may have spoken in the mid 1850s. Despite its imperfections, this book has that "something" which keeps drawing me back.

I love the theme of redemption, and the romance woven throughout the narrative. Even though I've read it several times I always somehow manage to forget the reason Cadi's mum doesn't love her, so that's always a fresh discovery, which is nice! The "last sin eater" referred to in the title is Jesus, hence the strong themes of redemption (Francine Rivers often writes on this theme: her book Redeeming Love is very popular, though I prefer Atonement Child, which also has this theme, though not as strongly). For those of you who are Frank Peretti fans, The Last Sin Eater reminds me of some that he has written, though it doesn't (in my opinion) compare to This Present Darkness or Piercing the Darkness, both of which has a massive impact on the Christian community.

Just incase you were wondering, a "sin eater" (according to the author's note) was a person who was paid a fee or given food so that he would take upon himself the moral trespasses (or sins) of a deceased person and their eternal punishments. Sin eaters were apparently common in the early 1800s in England, parts of Scotland, and the Welsh border district. The custom of sin eaters was brought to the Americas by immigrants and practices in remote areas of the Appalachian Mountains. In a very real sense, sin eaters were scapegoats.

Funny(ish) story: this book has been adapted into a movie, and the copy I have has an insert with pictures from the movie set. One night, I dreamt the whole movie! I was convinced for months that I'd actually seen the movie in real life, my dream had been so real (and the adaption was brilliant!). It wasn't until I actually saw the movie that I realised it had all been a dream. The main difference was the accents: in my dream the cast had a 'normal' Hollywood accent, but in the real movie they all had a Scottish (I think) accent.

In the interest of full disclosure, when I was in my teens my favourite book was King Solomon's Mines. I was a strange one! (I still am strange...)

This post was way longer than I was intending! If you are also taking part in this challenge, leave a link in the comments so I (and other readers) can check out what your favourite book is :D

Friday, April 8, 2011

30 Day Book Challenge

Day 01-Your favorite Book
Day 02-Least Favorite Book 
Day 03-A Book that completely surprised you (bad/good)
Day 04- A Book that reminds you of home
Day 05- A Non-fiction book that you actually enjoyed
Day 06- A Book that makes you cry
Day 07- A Book that’s hard to read
Day 08- An unpopular book you believe should be a Best-Seller
Day 09- A Book you’ve read more than once 
Day 10- The first novel  you remember reading
Day 11- The Book that made you fall in love with reading
Day 12- A book so emotionally draining you couldn’t complete it or had to set aside for a bit
Day 13- Favorite childhood book
Day 14- Book that should be on hs/college required reading list
Day 15- Favorite book dealing with foreign culture
Day 16- Favorite book turned movie
Day 17- Book turned movie and completely desecrated
Day 18- A Book You can’t find on shelves anymore that you love
Day 19- A Book that changed your mind about a particular subject (non-fiction)
Day 20-A Book you would recommend to an ignorant/racist/closed minded person
Day 21-A guilty pleasure book
Day 22-Favorite Series (Edit)
Day 23- Favorite Romance Novel
Day 24 - A Book you later found out the Author lied about
Day 25-Favorite Autobiographical/Biographical book
Day 26-A Book you wish would be written
Day 27- A Book you would write if you had all the resources
Day 28- A Book you wish you never read
Day 29- An Author that you completely avoid/hate wont read
Day 30 - An Author that you will read whatever they put out
Hopefully I'll have time tonight to complete Day 1 - got to get my assignment done first though!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

One Hundred FOs! Yay!

One of my 101 in 1001 goals is to have two hundred projects on Ravelry. Though I didn't specify it on my 101 list, these are to be finished projects (FOs = Finished Objects). In order to help myself achieve this goal, I'm aiming to have 150 finished projects by the end of 2011. 

I'm superduper excited to let you all know that as of April 5, 2011, I'm two thirds of the way there! Yep - I have completed 100 different projects! And that's with counting all those blue flowers as one project, too.

To celebrate this wonderful and exciting (but relatively unimportant in the Grand Scheme of things) moment, here's a little journey through a few projects. Pretty pictures! Yay!

Exhibit A: Fan Bookmark (ravel it here - it's a free pattern!)

I have made this bookmark six (yes, SIX) different times, but I've only kept one. I love it. I feel proud of myself when I finish it (and it only takes an evening to make!). It uses embroidery thread and a tiny 1.25mm crochet hook. It's beautiful whether it's made in a varigated thread (as here) or a solid colour. The best bit, however, is taking photos - I spend an inordinate amount of time choosing the book with which to photograph these bookmarks. So far, my selections have included Little Women, The Secret Garden, one of the Anne books (Rainbow Valley, I think), and (boringly) the pattern for making the bookmarks.

Exhibit B: Chevron Cardigan (another freebie - ravel it)

This progress shot is of the third thing I ever crocheted and of the first garment I made myself. (Excluding a pair of trousers I sewed in grade 10, and ruined by melting them with the iron - I swore and mum didn't even tell me off because she realised what had happened. I love my mum.) I have actually worn it, too! Though I don't wear it much very more, and have thought about frogging (undoing) it to make it into something else. I like this picture (though I can't articulate why) and so that's why I'm sharing it instead of one from when it was finished.

Exhibits 3, 4, 5 and 6: My very own patterns! 
(Ravel them all here or visit the Crochet Patterns page on this blog - they are all free)

Please note that the large orange flower is not of my design.

I really am so proud of each of the patterns I've written, and stoked by the response to the scarf and beanie patterns. It's such a joy to know that others have not only made something that I thought of and wrote a pattern for, but that they also love the result of their time and effort. I have plans for another pattern to release soon, depending on a few things... but to see a prototype simply keep reading...

Exhibit 7: Slippers! (pattern may be coming soon, for shorthand notes on it, go here).

These are inspired by (and reasonably similar to) this free slipper pattern (ravelry link), but are designed with an 8ply yarn in mind (as opposed to a heavier 10ply), and have a different increase pattern for the toes. and a slightly different edging. I have made several pairs of these slippers, and am planning on making many more. They are comfy, don't use much yarn, and are really cute. Love 'em! I also sell them to friends for twenty bucks a pair :)

Exhibit 8: Love Bunnies (free pattern, ravel it here)

I have made four of these cute as a button bunnies: pink, purple, blue and green. The blue and green bunnies had bells inserted into their heads (instead of brains) so that they would be a bit like a rattle. I've included this as an exhibit because it was the first item I ever sold (for the token amount of $10 - just enough to cover cost). I felt very grown up!

So, that was a quick trip through a few projects! I love looking through the pictures of what I've made. Some things I would forget about if not for the photos I have because they've either been sold or given away as presents. I've also completed a number of knitted projects, even though there weren't any shown here. I think I'm well on my way to my goal of 150 FOs by the end of thisyear, and 200 FOs by July 2013. Yay!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Making the Saroyan

(Crocheters, there's a little note at the end especially for you!)

I've had a few people comment on the saroyan I made for my sister, asking if it would be too hard for an inexperienced knitter, or saying that they "could never make that".

In response, I want to encourage all of you who knit, love the scarf, but are hesitant to have a go at it. It was my first lace project. If you can knit and purl, you have the prerequisites to make this scarf. The leaves that edge the scarf are made using combinations of decreases (such as knitting 2 stitches together: k2tog) and increases (like yarn overs [yo] and knitting into the front and the back of the stitch [kfb] which may be difficult if you knit very tightly, but other than that is simple).

If you look at the picture below, you can see that the majority of each row is plain stockingette: knitting and purling. Very easy! The leaf portion of each row is very small.

Looking at an individual leaf (see the picture below), you can see that a portion of each leaf contains a significant amount of stockingette stitch, just like the body of the scarf. The holes are made using yarn overs (yo) which really are very easy: simply wrap the yarn anticlockwise from bottom to top around the needle in your right hand (for right handed knitters, of course, the other needle if you're left handed). The leaf also uses one or two other increases, which are all demonstrated here at Knitting Help.
The leaf also utilises decreases to form its shape, these can all be seen here, also at Knitting Help. Knitting Help really does live up to it's name: you will also find videos on how to cast off, which you need to know, as when a leaf is completed, six stitches are cast off, making the leaves stand out more. This is simple, and not something of which to be nervous.

As with many projects, the first bit is the hardest, but by no means is it impossible. If you visit my project page on ravelry for the saroyan, you can see the changes I made. You can also see that it only took me a month to make (as I restarted it on the 23rd of November after deciding that I wanted to begin it differently to how the pattern is written). You will also be able to finish this in a month, just by doing one repeat (that is, a new leaf) every day. If you visit the ravely pattern page for the saroyan, you will get more information, and you will also be able to look at the saroyans made by other people, finding information and tips.

Lastly, let me encourage you by saying this: if you don't try to learn new techniques (such as knitting lace) your knitting skills will stagnate and you will will never know what you are capable of doing and making.

For the crocheters out there who like this design but never want to knit, Camille is a crochet version of the Saroyan, and really is very pretty - I plan to make it one day. I imagine that it would be gorgeous made out of a merino and silk blend: warm yet drapy.