Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tuesday Book Review

Suitcase Girl (Abby Kane FBI Thriller #7; Suitcase Girl Trilogy #1)

Five star review of Suitcase Girl

This is a thriller, the first in an Abby Kane trilogy, and I understand that the second picks up right where the first ended. Chinese girls are removed from a container ship and whisked away, but one turns up inside a suitcase in front of FBI headquarters in the Bay Area. Abby’s interest is piqued because the girl looks just like her. Told from a handful of POVs, we follow the investigation of the girl and the smuggling/trafficking ring. Tension remains high throughout this novel. It left me anxious to read on to find out what happened to Abby and the girl, dubbed Xiaolian by Abby’s mother-in-law. It also left me wondering whether Abby appears in any other Hutchinson books.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Knitting Sunday on Monday

I came across this article from Interweave comparing fisherman’s rib and brioche, which make a really similar fabric. But the underlying similarities are utterly confounded by a bewildering maze of terminology. It seemed that the fisherman’s rib and brioche methods had entered into the American knitting scene at various times under different names.

The Brioche Stitch: A History Lesson

One of the earliest published references to brioche stitch was Frances Lambert’s The Handbook of Needlework (1842). It described the brioche stitch (“bring the wool forward, slip one; knit two together”) and gave instructions for using the stitch to create a doughnut-like cushion. This cushion (and the stitch used to work it) was termed a brioche, “so called from its resemblance, in shape, to the well known French cake of that name.”
A century later, Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns gave instructions for “Brioche Stitch or English Brioche” as well as “Turkish Brioche,” but noted that the stitch was also known as shawl stitch, reverse lace stitch, oriental rib stitch, and point d’angleterre (English stitch).
Another common designation, “Shaker stitch,” describes a half-brioche/fisherman’s rib fabric (where the doubled stitches are worked every other row, instead of every row).
Elizabeth Zimmermann added yet another alias to this growing list of names in the 1960s, when her leaflet Wool Gathering introduced American knitters to a brioche stitch she called “Prime Rib.”
In contrast to this confusing riot of terminology,  Nancy Marchand (Knitting Brioche, 2009) notes that Dutch knitters use a single name—patentsteek— to refer to both fisherman’s rib and brioche techniques.

Fisherman’s Rib Versus Brioche Stitch


The distinction between fisherman’s rib and brioche can be best understood by examining swatches of the fabric with live stitches still on the needles. Swatch 1 illustrates the brioche method popularized by Nancy Marchant, based on a yarnover, slipped stitch, and k2tog. Swatches 2 and 3 demonstrate an alternate method using k1-below or p1-below (working into the first row of stitches below the live stitches on the needle) to create the same stitch structure. This method is commonly referred to as fisherman’s rib. By working into the stitch below the one on the needle, the stitch from the row below is converted into a slipped stitch, and the stitch on the needle into a yarnover.

Both the brioche and the fisherman’s rib methods create a doubled stitch, with both a stitch and a hidden float captured by each new stitch. The brioche method achieves this doubling horizontally, making a yarnover and then working it together with a slipped stitch in the subsequent row. Fisherman’s rib creates the doubling vertically, compressing a column of two stitches into one.


Although the resulting fabrics are almost indistinguishable, the two methods look very different on the needles. The brioche method creates an unusual set of stitches, with a yarnover lying on top of the slipped stitch. The fisherman’s-rib method is more straightforward, with recognizable knit and purl stitches. A variation on this method (Swatch 3) alternates k1-below and knit stitches. The underlying garter-stitch base is visible in the row just below the needles.


The fabrics have subtle differences. The different ways of working the stitch change the relative position of the hidden float, impacting the overall tension within the fabric. In the brioche method, the float is truly hidden, tucked exactly beside the slipped (visible) stitch. In the rib-based fisherman’s rib, the float is slightly twisted underneath the slipped stitch, creating a higher tension fabric. The garter-stitch version of fisherman’s rib has the widest, flattest fabric, with the float riding slightly above the worked stitch.

Working in Fisherman’s Rib

The recognizable structure of fisherman’s rib on the needles makes it friendly to newcomers. It also lets you leverage your knowledge of basic rib to experiment with a new stitch type. Fisherman’s rib can be manipulated by shaping or cabling in a manner similar to basic rib, but the k1-below/p1-below structure does require a few additional guidelines:
The floating yarnover must be held in place by the stitches at either side in order to maintain the fabric structure, so the k1-below/p1-below technique can only be used every other stitch.
This stitch structure must be maintained when shaping the fabric through increase or decreases. Unless the shaping takes place at the edge of the fabric, all increases or decreases must be double— adding or removing a set of two stitches, both the projecting k1-below stitch and the recessed p1 stitch.
Working into a stitch that has already been doubled releases the floating yarnover, so stitches may only be doubled once.


Needles: When working fisherman’s rib or brioche, use a needle two to four sizes smaller than you would for stockinette stitch. The extreme depth and three-dimensionality of the stitch requires much higher tension in the yarn than a comparable flat fabric.
Yarn: Round, sturdy yarns that resist flattening or compression will create the best stitch definition. Because the fabric has such deep texture, projects worked in fisherman’s rib may require up to 35 percent more yarn than a comparable stockinette stitch project.
Gauge: Fisherman’s rib/brioche fabrics are compressed vertically and spread laterally. When measuring gauge, it’s important to remember that each visible stitch “V” is the product of two rows. The various methods of creating brioche or fisherman’s rib fabric have slightly different gauges, so remember to check your gauge carefully if you’re substituting an alternate method.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Interview Friday

I interviewed fantasy author Mary Woldering

1. What genre(s) do you write in and why? Do you write flash fiction, short stories, novellas and/or novels? Graphic novels, anime or comics? If you do multiple genres and/or lengths, which do you prefer? Have you ever written any poetry?

Really I just write. I generally write long several novel series but I’m trying to work on shorter fiction. I write free verse poetry and interweave it in all my fiction. The genre is Historical Fantasy and Urban Fantasy.

2. What writers do you admire? What are you currently reading?

At this point I really don’t have a favorite – or have too many authors I like. Stephen King comes to mind. I’m reading So Sweet by indie author Andi Lawrencovna at the moment

3. How do you pick character names?

They just come to me. Then I look them up in a historical context

4. What kind of support do you get from your family and friends?

Mixed. I think if I was a best seller it would be more. Most find it a rather obsessive retirement hobby and wish my stories sold.

5. What are you working on now?

A revision of my first novel is being edited and I’m writing on the 5th and final novel in my Children of Stone series, struggling to avoid the Game of Thrones or Hamlet ending I originally envisioned

6. Have you self-published anything? What was your experience like?

Everything is self-published and it is way harder to sell my books than I imagined.

7. Have you sold your work at book fairs or conventions? What kind of experience did you have?

I do better at fairs than online, but the break-even point is often too high for the risk so I don’t go to very many.

8.What's the one piece of advice that has helped you, and where did you get it? What advice would you give a beginning writer?

Write what you feel. Keep writing, even if you think it’s bad or it isn’t selling. Write because you want to.

9.If you had it to do over again, would you have started writing sooner?

Not writing as I started at about age 5. I would have published earlier – perhaps 40 years earlier.

10.What are some review remarks that stick in your head?

Like Game of Thrones in Ancient Egypt. You walk with the characters and see the places.

11.What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write? Romantic? Sex? The death of a character? Fight scenes? Others?

Endings of anything. My characters react like characters on a holodeck in Star Trek. They want me to keep writing with them.

12.How much time do you spend on research for your writing?

Until it sounds real and I get the historical parts as close as I can.

13.Your character decides to go a different way than you planned. What do you do?

Usually go with it. They ARE my muses after all. I’m just a chronicler.

14.Have you ever used weather or setting as a character?

Weather in settings and world building but not as an entire character – perhaps a wrath form of some of the demi-gods/gods.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Book Review

Polar Vortex

5-star review for Polar Vortex by Matthew Mather

Another non-stop action adventure from Mather. This was definitely a page turner. As Mitch's efforts to protect his daughter and survive in the Arctic become more and more difficult, he must also decide who to trust. Who was responsible for the crash landing of the flight from Hong Kong to New York? Where exactly we're they? So many questions, several of which are never answered. The sections at the end when assorted people try to explain what happened seemed to be a lot of telling, but didn't detract from the story. Loved this as much as Mather's other novels.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tuesday Book Review

The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time, #2)

Five stars for The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

In the second book of the Wheel of Time series, the Horn of Valere is stolen by Fain, along with Mat's dagger, and a hunt is begun. Of course, not only Mat, but Rand and Perrin, even Loial join the hunt. Meanwhile, Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne and Min are lured away from Tar Valon and have their own adventure, ending up enslaved in Falme. Tensions run high throughout the novel. We see more about each of the character's abilities and personalities. Terrific read.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Tuesday book reveiw

It's been a few week's since I finished a book, hence, no book reviews. But today I have one for you.

Lethal White (Cormoran Strike, #4)

Four star review of Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Enjoyable mystery. I enjoyed this as I have all the Cormaron Strike books. When a government minister asks Cormaron to find out who’s trying to blackmail him and, almost at the same time, a man who seems deranged comes to talk about a killing he’d witnessed as a child, the stories don’t seem to be related. Robin goes undercover while Cormaron handles other aspects of the case(s). The ending wasn't as surprising, and as a writer myself, I couldn't help noticing the head hopping, especially towards the end. (Spoiler alert) I am glad Robin has finally ditched Matt.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday is for knitting

A recent post from Kay Gardner of Mason Dixon Knitting is about sleeves. Specifically a reply to a letter they received

The Trouble with Sleeves
There are no perfect solutions to knitting small circumferences in the round. For me, anyway, it’s a pick-your-poison situation. I have been known to knit them flat and seam them, and I think that’s a perfectly good answer. But I also appreciate the elegance of a sweater with zero seams, so I want to knit these sleeves in the round.
The tried-and-true, traditional way of knitting a small circumference in the round is double-pointed needles. I get along OK with DPNs, but I don’t love them. I have never been able to overcome the tendency to pull out the wrong needle, and they don’t travel very well. I’m either anxious about losing one somewhere in the seat of a plane, train, or automobile, or actually losing one in the seat of a train, plane, or automobile.
The alternatives that I know—Cat Bordhi’s two-circulars method and the Magic Loop—are clever and secure, but they both require frequent interruption of knitting to readjust the stitches on the needles.  I know that you can get into a rhythm with these methods, but I’ve never been completely convinced. Maybe I just don’t do it often enough. Maybe I’m a weenie.
What if you could combine the 2-circs method (in which the stitches are divided between just two needles) and DPNs?

There is the first way Kay mentions, of course. Knit the sleeve flat and seam it. I've tried the other ways. DPNs work all right, until you get to the cap of the sleeve. I'm working on the sleeve of my Taina sweater. Make that sleeves, as I like to knit them at the same time so I don't do the increases and cap shaping differently. Since I'm not including any of the three stitch patterns in the fronts of the sweater (I knit both of those at the same time, too, for the same reason), it's going quite well. I'll deal with the seams when I reach that point.