Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tuesday Book Review on Wednesday

Max and the Banjo Ferret: Book Three of Max and the Multiverse

Four star review of Max and the Banjo Ferret by Zachery Wheeler

Max, Ross, Perra, and Zoey are at it again. This one wasn't quite as funny as the other two in the series. Still lots of fun characters and situations as they start and end a war in the Terramesh.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Knitting Blog

The following is from MDK again, an article on gauge from Patty Lyons:

My inbox for the last three months has been filled with a variety of questions on the same touchy subject. So, to get us ready for Bang Out a Sweater month, I’m going to be devoting the next two columns to one topic. That’s right, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. The fly in the ointment, the monkey wrench in the works. The pee in the pool: gauge.

Yes, I hear your collective groans through my computer screen. Just settle down, stick your head between your knees, breathe into a paper bag, and let’s go to the mailbox. 

Dear Patty, 
I never can get row gauge right. No problem with stitch gauge, but I cannot figure out what to do to get stitch gauge and row gauge at the same time. Sometimes the pattern can be adjusted for the row gauge I am getting, but I cannot understand why I cannot get it to begin with.

Dear Michelle,

Many hands shoot up in the air when I ask my students, “Who has had trouble matching both stitch gauge and row gauge?” Then I say, “Take a look around the room. Anyone who is not raising their hands falls into one of two groups. They have never measured row gauge, or they are lying.”
There are so many factors that affect row gauge: the twist of the yarn, the style or method you knit, your purl row, and your needle material to name just a few.

If you know different ways to knit, you can often change your row gauge by changing your style. Continental knitting can yield a different row gauge than English, Portuguese, or combination knitting.

Then there’s the loosey-goosey purl.

Have you ever seen gaps that look like stripes on the WS of your fabric? That is called “rowing out,“ which is caused when your purl rows are taller than your knit rows.

Try an alternative purling method like the Portuguese purl or purling backward, or use a smaller needle for the purl rows.

One crazy simple way to change your row gauge is to change needle material.

Here’s a lace swatch where I changed needle material between every repeat. 

The first repeat (measured from above the cast on) was knit with nickel, and the repeat is 1 7/8” tall.

The second repeat was knit with stainless steel, and it is 1 3/4” tall.

The third repeat was knit with plastic, and it is 1 5/8” tall.

The final repeat was knit with bamboo, and it is 1 7/16”.

So take comfort in the knowledge that it’s not you, it’s them. It’s the stitches’ fault. But there are many ways you can wrangle that row gauge into submission. And if you can’t, there’s math, but that’s a topic for another day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tuesday Book Reviews

The Castle

Four-star review of The Castle by Nikki Moyes

This novelette, or perhaps it would be better to call it a short story, combines a virtual reality game with an actual fantasy environment. A twelve-year-old girl, Risha Suri, who has her father’s memories, must reach Castle One before a warlord leading a battalion in a simulation destroys it. The twist at the end worked for me. This well-written story is the beginning of a series. I’m intrigued enough to read more.

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)

Three-star review of Inferno by Dan Brown

When there was action and an advancement of the plot, this was a decent story about a virus and the race to stop its release. Art historian Robert Langdon, star of the popular DaVinci Code and other books by Brown wakes up not knowing how he ended up in a hospital in Florence. All of the info dumps on art and architecture as well as Dante’s Inferno drown the plot and instead of an exciting story, it’s boring. There are also so many holes in the plot as if Brown went off on a tangent and then twisted the story to explain it.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sunday Knitting Blog

Based on a similar article from Mason-Dixon Knitting and using the same pictures


Yarn is often defined by the number of ply in the strand. Ply does deep-down delectable things to your knitting. It can transform color, texture, durability, weight, and stitch definition. You can change how your knitting looks just by changing the number of plies in your yarn. When you choose a yarn for a project, you may make your decision based on durability, weight and stitch definition.

Multiple-plied yarns are more durable, less susceptible to pilling (forming small balls of fluff) than single-plied. A single-ply yarn knit into fabric stands alone against the stretching and rubbing of the world. By twisting strands together, each strand has a lot less of its surface exposed, and they are able to stand strong against pilling.

Plying can contribute to the weight of a garment. Want a light sweater? Don’t look at a five-ply yarn. There is an exception to this (isn’t there always?): a multi-plied yarn is lighter than a single-ply yarn of the same size. Why? There is air between those plies, and the single-ply is just one solid chunk of fiber.

The sweetest spot of plied yarns is in stitch definition. Depending on the number of plies in your yarn the finished knitted fabric will look, sometimes dramatically, different.

Single-Ply, 2-Ply, and 3-Ply

Today’s yarns are single-ply (spinners call these singles), 2-ply and 3-ply yarns. There are lots of other yarn constructions, yarns that are wrapped, cabled or chained. Those are for another day. Today we’re discussing the big three.

Yarn is built from energy, which we talk about as twist. Single-ply yarn has a single twist in one direction and plied yarns have two twists, one to create the single (in one direction) and one to create the ply (in the opposite direction). These twists create shape and motion in the yarn and contribute to the look and performance of knitted fabric.

Single-ply yarn has a roundish shape that can flatten easily. It has motion in only one direction, which can cause biasing when knit, if there is too much twist in the yarn.
Two-ply yarn is oval in shape. The ply twist moves the strands outward, they push away from each other when knit.

Three-ply yarn is round in shape. The ply twist moves the strands inward, they push toward each other when knit.

Ply in Stockinette

Single-ply (left): Single-ply yarn is smooth and stays where you put it when blocked; the stitches line up nicely. In stockinette stitch, it shows every weirdness in your knitting. My knit and purl tension is very different, and it really shows in stockinette with a single-ply yarn. This is the stitch that will bias if there is any over-twist in the yarn. Sometimes you can block it out, sometimes you can’t.

Two-ply (center): Two-ply yarn has a textured surface. There is no bias with a 2-ply yarn because the plies balance the twist. But because of the outward motion of the two plies pushing away from each other, there is a lot of visual movement on the surface of the knitted fabric. It looks toothy and organic.

Three-ply: Three-ply yarn is round and creates even fabric. The stitches line up and the surface of the knitting is smooth and placid. Look at the difference in the look of 2-ply and 3-ply yarn in stockinette. The 2-ply is rocking the soul train to funky town, and the 3-ply is ballroom dancing a serene waltz.


Single-ply: Single-ply yarns are obedient. When you block them into lace, they stay. Because single-ply yarn sometimes flattens and it doesn’t have the extra shadows between plies, the lace has a much softer, less crisp look.
Two-ply: The obstinate attitude that makes a 2-ply yarn so frisky in stockinette makes it a glorious yarn for lace. The stitches roll away from each other; opening the lace holes. The surface playfulness leads your eye all over the lace pattern.

Three-ply: The roundness of a 3-ply makes smooth lace. The inward twist energy of a 3-ply yarn makes the stitches roll toward each other, causing the lace holes to try to close. So 3-ply yarn makes textured stitches stand out in bold. When you look at a lace pattern knit in a 3-ply yarn, the first thing you see are the decreases gorgeously stacked up, overpowering the lace.


Single-ply: Cables knit out of a single-ply yarn are soft and flat-ish. A good look for a light summer top, but not what I want for an Aran sweater.
Two-ply: A 2-ply cable is a big step up from a single-ply cable. There are edges to these cables, but they really don’t stand up.
Three-ply: A 3-ply (or more) yarn makes the best cables and textured stitches. They roll in and push up. Three-ply yarns make themselves heard. They are crisp, have sharp edges and stand up like the Cliffs of Moher.


Single-ply: Single ply yarns are soft and flow-y when used for any kind of color work. The lines between stitches are undefined because the yarns spread out. This contributes to the classic look of Lopi sweaters, in which colors seem to flow into each other.
Two-ply: The pushing away motion of a 2-ply yarn leads to soft blurry edges between colors. Two-ply yarn is fantastic when you want that misty-water-color-memory look for Fair Isle or Bohus knitting.

Three-ply: Three-ply colorwork knitting has crispy clean edges. Each stitch is distinct, making colors very clear. Three-ply is great for intarsia, or if you want your Scandinavian snowflakes to really stand out.

It’s exciting that an attribute that is so easily overlooked can have such impact on knitted fabric.
Which ply will you choose for your next knit?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Tuesday Book Review


The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

5 star review of The Master Magician by Charlie Holmberg

Ceony is preparing for her test to become a Magician, but it’s decided that Emery can’t work with her or test her because it might be considered favoritism. Instead, she’s sent to the home of Mg. Bailey, whose apprentice is Bennet, a friend of Ceony’s. Bailey is the opposite of Emery Thane, demanding, sour and utterly difficult. He also disparages Emery every chance he gets due to a grudge he has, until Ceony sets him straight. But Bailey is the least of her worries, as Prendi, the Excisioner, has escaped while being transferred to another prison. Ceony is determined as ever to resolve all of these challenges. Ceony is… Ceony, only an even stronger and more skillful version of herself.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Tuesday Book Reviews

My present to you is two reviews:

 5 star review of Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens

This was one of my favorite stories in the Unladylike series, possibly because Hazel is coming into her own as a detective.

Staying at Daisy’s aunt and uncle in London, she and Daisy have joined a theatrical production of Romeo and Juliet to ‘keep 

them out of danger’. But death finds them there when a member of the cast is found drowned in a well at the lowest level of 

the theater. When Daisy comes down with the flu that earlier struck other members of the cast, and the girls are forbidden to 

go back to the theater, Hazel must detect in other ways, with help from Alexander and George. Of course, in the end, they

both find the murderer.

Danger's Vice by Amanda  Carlson

5 star review of Danger’s Vice by Amanda Carlson

This book follows directly on Danger’s Halo. Holly and her friends thought they could go back to normal after they got rid 

of Tandor and company and they could find the pico computer so they could find out what’s on the quantum drive Daze 

stole. But part of Tandor’s crew remain in the city and have a new plan to control it. Holly’s still not sure whether or not to

trust Chase, and as usual she works alone. But she’s taking her responsibility as Daze’s sustainer seriously. Carlson continues

to build this world and the characters in it.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday Knitting Blog

Knitting blog – getting started

The easiest projects to start with are a scaft or hat; the result will come in handy when it’s cold outside. But shopping in a yarn or craft store with so many different yarns in different colors could be overwhelming.
Learning to knit is easier than ever. There are tutorials on YouTube, lessons on Ravelry and Craftsy and your local yarn shop will offer knitting classes too.
One of my favorite yarns is Cascade. It’s made from 100% Peruvian wool and comes in a medium 220 weight and an extra chunky yarn. One skein will be enough for many projects. The store will wind the oblong coil shape of the skein into a ball for you.
Blended wools like Plymouth Encore are inexpensive and great to use when you’re still learning. The acrylic-wool blend is soft and washable.

Best knitting needles for beginners

Bamboo or wooden needles like Clover Takumi 9-Inch Single Point aren’t as slippery as metal or carbon needles. Size ten needles let you produce items quickly.
After a few projects, you can graduate to circular, double pointed, and cable needles.

Best knitting accessories for beginners

To confirm the size of needles, a plastic card, called a needle gauge, is great to have. You might as well get one shaped like a fuzzy sheep.
A little scissor that’s sharp is important for cutting your yarn. Embroidery scissors work well.
To finish your scarf, hat or neck warmer, you’ll have to weave in the dangling ends of the yarn. A tapestry needle or plastic yarn needle is useful.
Other notions that are useful include a crochet hook, stitch markers, and highlighter tapes. You’ll also want books and a bag to hold your project.

If you start now, you should have a number of items to give as gifts next December, and maybe something for yourself.

Wishing you all a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.