6.22.2011

The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo

I don't read much. I almost put that I don't read as much as I would like to, but honestly I don't really enjoy reading. It is what I do while I am waiting for something else to happen. I would, however, love to have the information already in my brain. That's the only thing that keeps me reading anything. A strong desire to not miss out.


I've been attempting to read more of the classics for a long while. I can always find them in thrift stores and bookshops for the cheap and I figure they've been around this long for a reason. There are often references to them in pop culture as well that I often miss out on because I hadn't read the book, even if I've absorbed the gist throughout my lifetime.

Often times I struggle through classics. The language can often be a significant barrier and the style of storytelling can quickly lose my interest. Jane Austen has me nailed as an audience, Emily Bronte on the other hand was torture.

For my last two cruises I picked up an old copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo that has been on my shelf for years. I was expecting another excruciating foray into the classics but I was pleasantly surprised. My copy was unabridged which was a big mistake. I found myself self abridging entire chapters describing the layout of Paris.

Other than that, the language was so simple to understand, the characters so well drawn and the story so engaging I barely put it down. The best part of this story to me is how every character's point of view intertwines. Not one of them understand each other fully, they are prejudiced and selfish. Often times, I give up on characters like that as I did with Wuthering Heights. I believe it didn't bother me in this case because the story was woven around so many more characters I wasn't completely inundated with one or two characters rottenness (i.e. Catherine and Heathcliff).

The entire novel is a lesson in selfishness, the foolishness and rashness of unrequieted love. Characters are blinded by themselves and so focused on the ends of their own noses (as Mary Poppins would say) they cannot see the objects of their love and desire for the people that they truly are.

I don't necessarily agree with this book's moral, if it had one. It seems to tell us that passion only serves to blind us to our own actions. It justifies within us behavior we know is wrong. I can't help but believe passion can be beneficial. Passion can be what keeps us going through adversity when all hope seems lost. It can blind us for the better, even if that was not the case for any of The Hunchback's characters.

It was not uplifting, there is no happy ending, at least, for anyone who might deserve it. But it was a great read and I highly recommend it.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame can be found new and used every where. You can also find free e-reader versions for your favorite e-reader and at Project Gutenberg, my own personal favorite site for digital books. If you use Project Gutenberg, please consider donating to enable continued access to public domain classics.

6.21.2011

Another Juno Emerges

The Laodice, while lovely, was not to be. The ever expanding section of stockinette stitch in the middle was boring me to tears and I was only 100 yards into it.


I had toyed with adding a lace panel in the middle of the stockinette stitch but after hours of browsing Ravelry for a lace panel I might like I came again to Juno Regina. I decided to use it and modified it into a triangular shawl knit sideways. I frogged Laodice and began again.

It was impossible to tell without sampling and blocking (neither of which I have done) if it was coming out too steep. Or steeper than I wanted. So again I modified it and I think it will come out trapezoidal instead of triangular.
It is knitting much faster and much more interesting. I have nearly finished 160 yards (the first two hanks) and thankfully just finished spinning my next 80 yards.

I am having a dilemma. I like spinning colorful things. It keeps it interesting even if I don't like the way the colors come out in the end. Knitting, I need a slightly complicated stitch. Something to keep my interest. The problem I have is that I don't care for the way variegated yarn looks with complicated stitch patterns. It looks better in a simple stitch and the complicated stitches look better with simple colors. For me, it just looks better. And I understand lots of people will disagree with me.

Maybe I'll feel differently when the work on this shawl thing is at an end. But I have a feeling it will be getting an over-dye job when it is completed.

Besides that, the yarn is soft with a lovely hand that is a pleasure to knit.

6.09.2011

Laodice in BFL/Silk

Here is the top I purchased at the North Idaho Spin In. It is BFL and [Tussah?] Silk, probably 70/30%. The colors in the first image are much more true than the second.I am spinning it in very small batches on a student spindle (somehow the only fiber and spindle I brought with me, WTF?). Seriously small batches actually, I finished my first 81 yards and cast on a project.


I'm spinning in small batches so I can knit as I go (I can't spin in bed) and that way I don't get anchored down for hours with 100s of yards of single wrapped around my wrist. I need projects I can pick up and put down immediately when I'm working at sea.
I'm being pretty lazy with the colors and it is muddying the yarn. I'm not loving it, but maybe that's because I wanted something very Spring and this feels very Autumn to me the more I work on it. Maybe late Summer. My co-worker likes it, but I think it might grow on me knitted up.

I decided upon the pattern Laodice from Knit Picks. I had a few criteria as I was browsing Ravelry patterns. I wanted a Lace or Light Fingering weight project. I know I can knit it with whatever weight I want, and I often make weight substitutions, but I didn't want to guess, spinning as I go seems like enough variables already. I wanted a shawl with some lace to keep it interesting. I wanted a sideways construction because I didn't want to cast on/bind off 100s of stitches.

I also didn't want to pay 10 dollars. There were a fair few sideways constructed lace-y Shawlettes, but I didn't really feel any of them were complicated enough to be worth the $7.50 price average they seemed to be. This one was $1.99 and that felt like exactly the right price.
I like the pattern so far. I changed the double decreases it was using to sl2togk1psso (slip 2 together, knit 1, pass slipped stitches over) because I prefer the centered double decrease to a leaning double decrease pretty much all the time.

6.02.2011

Ship to Shore to Ship

I finished my cruise. I did not finish my spinning projects and I knit a hat which was MASSIVE. Seriously the only person who could wear it would probably have a head full of fake dreads. These are the only two photos that prove this hat existed.


It has since gone to live with a Vegetarian Texan Oceanographer.

I went to Costa Rica and spent some time on the ranch again. Walked away with some hand picked cotton again. The only photographic evidence currently in existance of said cotton.

I also have not finished the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, but that is impending.

I then returned home for 8 days, before I set sail again. I more or less tried to cram 2 or three months of social activities into 8 days. Quite frankly, that was exhausting. I somehow managed to pack in there somewhere, but it appears as if I did a very poor job.

Neither of my blue spinning projects made it with me, but somehow a spare student spindle and the wool/silk blend I purchased at the North Idaho Spin In a few months back did. So can you guess what I'm working on?
I have no idea what kind of wool and I presume the silk is tussah? Maybe? But the stable length is incredibly long, the crimp is pretty low. Could I get a drapey shawl out of it?

I did bring a small amount of knitting as well. I started a hat ages ago for my sister. She wanted a hat with a brim. I have knit the entire hat part and have stalled at the brim section. I stalled for two reasons, laziness and I decided to line it with a complimentary color because wool makes her itchy.

I grabbed everything in sight related to this project to finish it on this cruise and forgot the plastic sheeting for the brim. Now I can try to knit the brim anyway and then it is just a 30 minute seaming/lining job when I get home, but without the sheeting as a guide I'm pretty sure I'm going to muck up the knitting. But I'll give it a shot anyway. Maybe I'll use a cardboard guide then cut the same sized piece of sheeting when I get home.

So yeah, I'm out at sea. Again.