One of the joys of being on vacation is that you get to READ.
Just before we left, I finished (well, almost) the Poe Shadow. I was within about 10 pages of the end, but I had to return the book to the library. Generally, it was a good book, but moved more slowly than did The Dante Club (by the same author). I found it to be artificially convoluted, but perhaps the reason for all the apparently arbitrary twists and turns was to be found in those last ten pages. Perhaps I'll even find out when I get home.
But for now, I've just finished reading The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber (348pp) It's set, more or less, in a yarn store, and starts with the opening day of the shop, and three women signing up for knitting classes for very different reasons; Carol is desperate to have a child and is about to undergo her third IVF procedure; Jacqueline is sure her son married the wrong woman, and is determined to be great grandmother to the child her son and his wife are expecting -- because she's certain her daughter-in-law won't be a good mother; and the Alix, sporting black leather jacket and spiky black hair with purple tips and presenting a sullen attitude, figures she can use the time spent knitting a baby blanket for project Linus for community service hours that she owes. In the end, the four women, plus the daughter-in-law, learn a lot from each other, and become good friends. And the yarn store succeeds.
I found it particularly interesting to see these women lose their prejudices about Alix, whom everyone thinks upon meeting her is likely to be... well... a low life, but who is a wonderful person once they get past her defensive facade. It reminded me of my prejudices about the folks who serve time in our jails. It also dealt with prejudices about people who are not "the right sort" and how they're so often preventing people from seeing the good in others. All in all, I enjoyed it immensely.
Of course, I've also been knitting away.
I've started working on the Shadow Shawl. I decided that, as cute as they are, I don't want the little picot fringey edge thingines that are in the pattern. Thus, I frogged back a bunch of that, and have restarted and am making speedy progress. Those picots really slow you down! They also use up yarn. This means that I may not have to have the Divine (if Blogless) Elizabeth fetch me up a spare skein of the second color of yarn after all. (I realized after it was too late to get back to the LYS before departure that I needed four skeins of the second color, not three. oops). I'm thinking that extra skein was all for picots.... This shawl is really quite easy, once you get the hang of the pattern. Easy, but not quite mindless -- you've got to keep that 10 stitch count in mind, and because of the construction, markers won't help. You've also got to remember which of the two yarns you're using, because what happens at the end of the first row and beginning of the second row is different for each of them. Still, it's fun, and plenty easy for passenger knitting in the car.
The Beyond The Comfort Zone shawl is my mindless knitting. Well, at least it is when I'm knitting it. I'm also continually fussing about which color/yarn goes next, and tweaking the simple pattern that I'd planned on following. First, I switched the center paired yo's for a pair of what I refer to as bar increases, but which I indicate in pattern writing as "kfb" (knit into the front and back of the stitch). I found that line of holes down the center distracting and weird given all the stuff that's going on with the yarn itself. Then, I decided that I'd tweak the shaping a bit to avoid that pointy tail thing that I dislike about triangular shawls. I added a bit of pi shawl shaping to help it hug my shoulders more by dramatically increasing the number of stitches at the point when it goes around my shoulders, and then I shifted the placement of the center increases so that the new stitches wind up between markers to make a new trapezoidal sort of shape. (And yes, I'm writing it up)
Despite my aversion to pointy triangles, I'm not going to mess with the Shadow Shawl's triangular shape (well, I don't think I am, there's still time <grin>). Shadow is knit vertically and altering that may require all sorts of weirdness to accomplish the hugging thing I've incorporated into the Beyond the Comfort Zone Shawl. Besides, the cool shadow chevrons will become weird trapezoids if I change the shape of the overall shawl.
Speaking of aversions to pointy triangles... Willow has been saved! I emailed the folks at Just Our Yarn, wondering if by chance they had anything that might work for the border of the shawl so I could just make the change I really want to make to the pattern. Not only do they have "something", they have a hank of the very yarn in the very dye lot which they'd not sold because it had knots in it. They don't sell yarn with knots... without giving a huge discount! That naughty knotty skein is on its way to my house as I type. I'm thrilled beyond measure. Time for more chart fiddling ... wheeeee
Day four report.
The girls went to horse camp, where they learned more about the care and feeding of horses, and got to take care of their "own" horse for the day. They also got a riding lesson .. in which C cantered for the very first time. There are pictures of them at the end of the day here and here.
While the girls were playing with horses, Mom and a ran various errands, including picking up a surprise cello rental. Mom is "learning" to play the cello. She's currently working on Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites. She also performs now and then in a local quartet. Now, I'll admit, she didn't start cello 'til she "retired" here in Maine, but still... learning??... Bach's suites?? right, whatever.
Either way, the girls are very taken with it, and have declared that they want to play the cello. So, while we were out, we stopped at a wonderful store (Woodsound Studio), where they bent all the rules to rent us a cello for a mere two weeks. Tomorrow... the cello will be revealed to them.
Now, I'm still trying to figure out how to get my new camera phone (a Motorola V360) to let the pictures OUT and onto my computer so that I can upload them here. Any phone wizards out there? Elizabeth? can you get Dave to guide me? (I just can't seem to survive without my favorite Geek Stud, even when I'm on vacation, can I?)