Q1 Makes and Creations

I don’t normally measure my life or crafting life in quarters…but why not for the sake of keeping count?!

What have I made or done so far in January, February and March 2022? Let’s take a look and see!

Knitting

I have cast on a LOT of things, but don’t have many finished objects yet. Here is what I actually managed to finish:-

  • I made a baby hat using up neon yarn I had spare from previous projects and donated it to charity (no pic)
  • Not finished, but I’ve done a few more rows on my sock yarn shawl. It’s taking ages coz it’s 4-ply!
  • Again, not finished, but I’ve done some more of my lone sock!

What have I cast on this year so far?

  • Grey fisherman’s rib tunic
  • Chunky grey cabled sweater
  • Green tunic top
  • Pink cowl

Crochet

I’ve been loving getting back into crochet, which sort of got put on the back burner for the last few years apart from the odd granny square or two.

Finished objects include:-

  • Pink and purple granny square blanket
  • Baby blanket in yellows and greens
  • Orange baby blanket
  • Pumpkin colours granny square blanket
  • Blue and green blanket for a friend (C2C)
  • Cowl for me using up neon yarn

And I’ve also cast on a few projects here too…

  • Crochet top
  • Pink and blue granny square blanket to use up scraps
  • C2C cowl with brown James C. Brett yarn


The thing with both knitting and crochet this year, is that instead of just looking at patterns, I’ve also been buying them!

A v-neck sweater by Petite Knits.

A few patterns by Jennifer Steingass on Ravelry. I decided that her Dreyma sweater was going to be my ‘Fair Isle’ top down sweater that I wanted to use my natural aran weight undyed wool for. So, once I have a top or two out of the way, this will get cast on pretty quick!

And I’ve noticed on every single knitting podcast that I come across on Youtube they mention the Ranunculus sweater. I looked at it and I looked some more and eventually I left it at just looking. But if the pattern comes in different weight options…well, Aran weight is my favourite and I might have to try it as a thicker version (instead of the thinner lacier version).

Not that I have to follow other people’s trends…but I can totally see why people do more than one option.


Sewing

Nope!

LOL…so many plans and so little motivation to set up all the million pieces I seem to need to just sew a bag or two! I just haven’t been bothered is the short answer here.

But I’m sure, like Austin Powers, I’ll get my mojo back somehow!


Books

I’ve not been as prolific this year with reading as with other years, but I’ve managed a book or two.

What have I read so far?

  • The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
  • Happy by Fearne Cotton
  • Make It Happen by Jordanna Levin

I’m in the middle of Walden by Henry David Thoreau and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott.

On my to read list are:

  • On Writing Well by William Zinsnerr
  • The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

As you can see, not an exhaustive list. And I’ve been saving On Writing Well for when I feel like I have more mental headspace to process it. I’ve been so tired in the last few months that I’ve just left things to one side if I can’t find the will to tackle it head on. It seems like one of those books you have to process and make notes on! Or at the very least highlight some passages!

As for Walden…the idea of someone just leaving modern life behind and upping sticks to live in a cabin you built in the woods for a year or two is incredibly modern and almost ‘hippyish’. Is that the word? It’s alternative and whilst most people nowadays wouldn’t bat an eyelid at someone trying something like that, I’m pretty sure they would have in the 1800’s which is when it was written.

I just find it fascinating that people would choose the ‘oddball life’ in the 1800’s as they would now!!


Miscellaneous

I haven’t really done much else to be honest. I haven’t done much baking and the other odd bits on ly lists still to do are, well, still to do!

Like my leather handbag which needs finishing or the ice dying fabric kit that a friend got me for Christmas…I just haven’t had the time!

I also haven’t written much on Medium, which is a shame because I love it over there.

As for print on demand?

I made a couple of alphabets and a few other tiny designs, I’m around 250 designs on RedBubble now. That’s going well. People in Australia seem to like a particular cushion design of mine, I sold a couple whilst I was off work last week.

Here’s my shop if you’re nosy!

And I’m wanting to get back to that quite soon. It’s spurred me on to get to 300 designs!!

This is what people have been loving lately! It’s such a simple design too…

I want to do more crafty designs for knitting and crochet. Just simple ones. I am not a graphic designer after all and it probably shows!

I’d like to do more along these lines:

There’s a few other things regarding online creations and ideas but for now I’ll leave it there otherwise this post will be hours long to read!


Q1 could be summed up with the fact that I’ve suddenly started casting on like crazy and wanting to get back into things that have been put aside for a while over winter.

Spring is here along with the brighter days and I want to get stuck into things.

My goals for the next quarter is to finish one of 4 tops I have on the go with my knitting and crochet before I cast on another (yeah, we’ll see how that goes!) and to try to finish that damned knitted sock! 🙂

We’ll see. No rush or pressure for anything though…

WIPS and Bits!

It’s back! The crafting bug that is!

After a couple of months of not doing much at all, now I’m doing EVERYTHING!

Last week I even started and completed a finished object (a crochet cowl I began on my lunch break at work!).

I’ve got 2 knitted jumpers on the go, a pair of socks and a shawl.

And for crochet there are 2 blankets and a top. Yes, I’ve started a crochet top!

So, here’s what I’m working on currently.


Grey Fisherman’s Rib

Thought I’d taken a better photo than the one below but oh well!

I’m doing the version on the right which is longer and has a rollover collar. It’s aran yarn, so it’s knitting up quite quick when I work on it, I just haven’t had much time lately to have a go at it in earnest.

I love the look of Fisherman’s Rib, it’s a surprisingly simple pattern by King Cole (Tabards 5657).

What I’m not so sure of is the bottom of the piece. It’s a normal rib worked on smaller needles and then you start the fisherman’s rib properly with larger needles. But, the thing is you have a border of 5 garter stitches on both sides.

I think it would have looked better if there was a garter stitch border on the bottom instead of a normal rib if that makes any sense?!

If you look at the picture below, it looks like there’s 3 different stitches and it looks a little strange to me…but I’m going to finish it!

The yarn is lovely. It’s a wool and acrylic mix so it feels soft and squishy and it’s by Hayfield.

Hayfield Bonus Aran.

Shade 0051 FORGE

You can get the yarn from The Knitting Network here (affiliate link).

I’m only on the front and have still got the back to do, but it’s one I’m working on whenever I have a spare few minutes. I don’t feel the rush for this one!

Green Jumper

I have literally just cast on the front. Not even done any stitches!

It’s a pattern from Let’s Knit magazine on page 22 of issue 180 Feb 2022. It’s by Susie Johns.

Not much more to say as I haven’t properly started it, but I guess I’ll just say there is more to come with this one!

Sock Yarn Shawl

I’ve done a couple more rows of this ongoing WIP, but it’s starting to get long which means each row takes ages. Also, it’s in sock yarn…which is really thin! So it’s a marathon not a sprint for this one.

But I’m still in love with the colours. They seem almost too autumnal for this time of year!

Socks

I’ve done maybe 2 or 3 more rows of the ribbing for the cuff since I showed it last. I want to make this a priority once I finish my crochet blankets.

lol not much done! But I forgot how fiddly DPNs can be. No, don’t tell me about other methods of sock knitting…I’m determined to finish this the way I started it!

Scrap Yarn Crochet Blanket

Possibly one of the best colours I’ve ever used for a blanket!

I had 6 balls of yarn in 3 colours to use up. One of which I used for testing a baby cardigan which I didn’t like and the others were going to be for a jumper which I never ended up casting on.

2 are plain and 1 is variegated.

They go together perfectly!

I’ve been doing 2 rounds of each colour in a set pattern, but now I’m on the last bits of the last balls I’m almost playing yarn chicken. I think I’m going to have to do single rounds to finish as I really don’t want to buy any more yarn! Totally defeats the object of making a stash buster blanket if you have to buy more yarn, doesn’t it?!

I think I might either give it away or donate it to charity once I’m finished with it. I have too many blankets as it is. The same applies for the one below!

Blue and Pink Crochet Blanket

Literally another plain old Granny Square blanket in blue and pink. The light is really bad today, so I’ll just have to leave you wondering about what it looks like. Also it’s only about 10 rounds big so it’s not massive at the moment. I started this one at work as well.

Who knew breaks were such a good crafting opportunity?!

I’m not really actively working on this one apart from at work, so it might take a while to build up.

Crochet Top

With all the crocheting I’ve been doing lately, I felt inspired to make a crochet top. This came out of nowhere.

I’m making it in the yarn below which is Pebble Chunky. It’s sold in Yorkshire Trading (which is what I call a ‘cheap shop‘ in my mind. I guess something like Dollar Tree in the states? Not somewhere you’d think of immediately for yarn anyway!).

It’s 200g and I got 2 balls. I have to remind myself how much crochet eats the wool, so I’ll probably have to get at least 1 more ball.

The pattern does the sleeves and the yoke all in one long piece so it looks like I’m crocheting a massively long scarf. Hopefully it’ll all shrink a bit when I come to join pieces and seam it up at the end.

Again, I’ve not done much, but the yarn looks a million times better in real life than the picture below!


So, those are my knitting and crochet WIPS. Quite a bit to be getting on with.

I’ve also been buying a few craft related books lately too.

I found a couple of bargains which I snatched up right away.

The first is a cross stitch book by Emma Congden (I’ve done some of her designs in previous posts last year).

You can get it here from Waterstones (affiliate link) if you want to have a look yourself.

Since I’ve used up all my threads, it’ll be fun picking a design and getting the materials for it. I think I have enough Aida fabric left from previous projects so it’s just the threads I need. But, more stitching ahead!

And I bought a beginner knitting book. I know, I know, I’m an intermediate to advanced knitter…but I quite liked the look of some of the patterns in the back of the book.

And for inspiration which is (kind of) nothing to do with crafting I bought THIS BOOK!

I love flicking through the pages and dreaming of my own crafty homestead!

I’m also reading a few books at the moment as well as just looking at pretty pictures.

These 2 classics about writing.

And this one below about manifestation. It’s kind of an ‘alternative’ read if you know what I mean. Whilst it does address manifesting things etc. there is also a few mentions of Tarot Cards and crystals which honestly, just makes me sigh a bit. Not the book I was expecting exactly, but still a good read.

I like the fact she talks about manifestation as utterly pointless unless you put in the action as well as the thought and feeling, though.

So, yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to!

And I want to get back into sewing again soon too. But knitting comes first!


This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Current Book: Walden

WALDEN by Henry David Thoreau

This is a book I’ve wanted to read for quite a while now and just haven’t got around to reading it!

The author seems to be such a fascinating character, who by the sound of it, lived many lives. According to the introductory part about the author in the very front of the book, he was born in 1817, in Massachusetts and died in 1862.

He was educated at Harvard and worked as a surveyor, school teacher and lead-pencil maker!

What really fascinates me about the author is why he wrote Walden. Basically, he goes off to live in the woods for a while (I believe it was 2 years) in a cabin he built himself. The book is his account of his experience.

I’m only just starting it, but it’s going to be one of those books that you have to stop and think about what you’ve read every so often. There are pages of long, unbroken text and I know I’ll be tempted to skip through some of the longer passages, but I’m going to be good and read every last sentence!!

What really interests me about the premise of this book, is the fact that we can imagine this happening in today’s world. Some hippy wants to go and live in the woods for a while…radical, man! He obviously cares about the environment, maybe wants to be a homesteader or become self-sufficient. Whatever. We don’t really mind, do we?

But in the mid 1800’s for someone who was educated at Harvard (which is the equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge University here in the UK)? I can only imagine how unthinkable and scandalous that would have been at the time!

So, I can’t wait to get stuck in and see what he has to say!


By the way, if you want to purchase a copy of this book, you can do so from Waterstones online here. I got my copy from my local store on the High Street, which I was surprised they had in stock!!


[This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission from that sale at no extra cost to you.]

2021 Reading Goals

I can’t believe the year is almost over! Just under 2 months left to finish my reading goals for the year.

I’ve got out of the habit of reading. In fact, I haven’t read any books for a good few months.

So, it’s a good thing I only have 2 left to read then!

I’ve read all of the books on my shelf apart from these 2.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Forward The Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Both are my 2 of my favourite authors of all time. Yes, I like science fiction…

I like the style of Margaret Atwood’s writing and add that to the fact that it’s dystopian future fiction and it’s a match made in heaven. I love end of the world type stuff…don’t ask me why, I just do!

The Testaments is the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, which I read years ago. I need to refresh my memory for that book as I haven’t been watching the series on TV.

I’m sure I’ll pick up where the original book left off though.

And for the Isaac Asimov book? Once I read this, I’ll have read the whole Foundation series, as well as the Robot series. Just got the Empire trilogy to go (which I might ask my brother or parents to get a book or two for Christmas!) and then that’s the lot.

Hands down one of the best series I’ve ever read. And the last book in the series ends with one of the biggest cliffhangers in literature. When one character is wondering who the true enemy is and you see another character staring at him *gasps*. I want to know what happens next! Want? No! I HAVE to know what happens next. But I never will as the author died in the 90’s.

Once I read these 2 books, then that’s one goal of the year complete. Unless I buy another book for myself of course, but that’s unlikely between now and Christmas!


[This post contains affiliate links which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small commission of that purchase at no extra cost to you! The links for the books above will take you to the Waterstones website who I’m an affiliate for.]


Latest Posts

Deep Work

I got a new book in the post yesterday and I read it yesterday too!

The weather has been in the 30s (Celsius) here in Yorkshire, and it has been too hot to even THINK about doing any Deep Work!

The book I got was called Deep Work by Cal Newport and is basically about cutting out all of the time wasting activities like answering e-mails etc. and focussing on spending a few hours a day on concentrated and productive work (Deep Work).

It’s a good read, he gives a lot of examples and the idea is pretty simple. I don’t think there is anything groundbreaking in the book, it all seems pretty obvious to me. Although, as in so many of these cases, what we know we should do or how to work, we never actually do, do we?! (I mean, we KNOW we should do more exercise and eat healthier food but do we actually?).

The section about switching off from Social Media I had to laugh at, because if anyone knows me, they’ll know that isn’t a huge area of my life, and I just don’t understand anyone who CAN’T turn off their mobile phone (the generation below me I guess!). So, I admit I skimmed through that chapter.

But finding a space for yourself, making it a productive space, focussing on what you’re doing and not all the time-sucks and tiny life admins…that I can get behind.

The examples are mostly academic ones, but the author is a Professor I believe. I would be an eternal student if I could, racking up the degrees in different universities if I had the money! I love the academic lifestyle – the library, the lessons, the lectures, note-taking, handing in assignments a month early (that’s not a random example, I actually did that twice at uni!).

I love the idea of writing a book in your own time and not running yourself into the ground doing it. I am about halfway through a book myself and I’ve been struggling to get back into it…so I might try the Deep Work approach and see if I can publish it in August.

I have to add though, that setting aside a few hours a day to do some really focussed and concentrated work is a good idea but only if you’re organised beforehand. So, with that in mind, I’m going to go through my planners and diaries, and all my odd bits of paper and sort them out and plan a couple of hours a day to work on my book.

It got to a point a few months ago when I was doing 15 pages a day at my fastest. I want to get back to that!

Below is an affiliate link to the book from Waterstones if you want to have a look yourself…

https://tidd.ly/37qgM4t

The idea of Deep Work is good, I felt it kind of stretched to fill the book, maybe that’s just me. I like the idea of working solidly without distractions.

I think I need to read this book again. And I will, in a little while.

As of late I have been struggling with productivity (and I don’t mean the last 4 or 5 days of this heatwave, because no-one wants to work hard in such high temperatures) and maybe with motivation too. After being unwell for a few weeks about 6 weeks ago, I sort of lost the plot a bit and have been finding it really difficult to get back into the swing of things.

Which is why I bought this book! To give me a push into thinking about what I’m doing and when. I have a few books like this on my shelf and now I’m inspired to re-read some of them again.

But I need to beware! Too much reading about being productive isn’t very productive is it?!


[This post contains affiliate links which means if you click the link and make a purchase, I get a small commission of that purchase at no extra cost to you!]

Latest Posts:

Medium – for writers and bloggers

Last week I came across a site called Medium. I had never heard of it before then but now I’m intrigued.

At first glance I thought it was a bit of an upmarket writing platform, like ACTUAL articles by ACTUAL professionals, and in some ways it kind of is. But after looking into it a bit more, it seems to be another platform for bloggers, but with one catch which makes it a little bit more exclusive.

If you land on the site as a guest you only get to read a few articles every month before you’re asked to sign up. It’s a whopping, massive $5 per month to read as many articles as you want, which isn’t that bad compared to some subscriptions out there.

But, you can also make money as a writer on there. It’s a little confusing to explain here, but you get a percentage of the monthly read time of the reader’s $5…I think. So, if a reader spends a long time reading your article and only reads 5 articles that month, then you will get a bigger percentage of that reader’s $5 monthly subscription fee than someone who reads 200 articles that month. Does that make sense? You can check out the website for a better way to explain that!

Basically, you need a large and engaged audience to make any real money and you need to be writing quality content. Which is the same with any writing or blogging platform, really.

You also have the chance on Medium to get Curated or Published. Curated means a member of the Medium team highlights your article and so it could end up featured somewhere like on the Homepage, which means more people are likely to see your article than just writing it and hoping people see it.

You can also apply to publications through Medium to have your article featured in them, they have a bigger audience and have specific rules and submission guidelines. I’m not sure if these publications are only in Medium itself or what, I am slightly confused with it, but then, I’ve only just discovered it and need to poke around the site a bit more!

I like the idea of a blogging platform that is specifically for writing (so you won’t get people posting a lot of spam or lots of shop links, although I think you can link out to other sites in your articles if you want) and the one thing that makes it seem a little more ‘professional’ is…THE PAYWALL!

If people are spending even just a little bit of money a month just to read articles then the quality of the writing is generally going to be a bit better than on your average blog, at least, one would hope!

It’s not a get rich quick scheme by any means, I’ve seen some people making $10,000 a month and then some only 37 cents!

But it’s something I would want to look into further, to practice my writing more than making money!

The way I see it, it’s somewhere between here on WordPress and getting published in a magazine somewhere. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy or what, but it looks to be a good stepping stone to greater writing projects or even another stream of income.

Search for Zulie Rane or Ayo The Writer on Youtube if you want a writer’s take on making money with Medium.

What do you guys think, have you used Medium before, have you even heard of it? $5 well spent or wasted?

Craft and Life Updates

Wednesday 14 April

Neon Fair Isle Bag

I started this project last month and honestly haven’t done anything on it for about 2 or 3 weeks.

I’ve been so preoccupied with my new digital hobby, creating digital ‘art’ and messing around with Photoshop etc. that all crafting has been put to one side.

After several years of ‘BLAH BLAH BLAH’ (which I won’t go into here), I feel like I have emerged with a hit-the-ground-running kind of attitude in the last couple of months or so. Things which have been on my list to do for ages have got done, things I wanted to start have got started. I am MOTIVATED!!!!

So, naturally, knitting and sewing has been put aside for the moment. Although, saying that, I did manage to get about 10 rows of my Neon Fair Isle Bag done last night whilst listening to some Youtube channels.

I also opened a brand spanking new Etsy shop last week too. Yay! There’s nothing on it yet, still doing the back end stuff like policies, making nice banners that kind of thing. But it will eventually become a digital download place where I sell printables (but better quality than what I’ve been posting here! You know…do it ‘Professionally’).

But it’s empty at the moment. I also have to, you know, CREATE some printables for the shop, but just having it opened and ready to go is motivation in and of itself.

I am also leaning towards doing some more sewing again, I feel like sewing is a bit of a faff compared to say, knitting. I have to actually set the sewing machine up downstairs, collect my sewing box, materials, threads, patterns etc together and it just seems to take more time to set up and get started, so I might do some sewing on Saturday or Sunday. [Spoiler alert: I didn’t!!]

Saturday 17 April

I treated myself to a Fat Quarter of fabric from Lovely Jubbly Fabrics which came in the post today. I’m getting seriously fed up of my current fabric choices, I think I might make a bag (my favourite things to make) and if there’s anything leftover then a scrunchie too.

Golds and Purples on Black…oooh look at those colours!!!

I also went for a walk down the country lanes near me, it has been so sunny and ‘warm’ lately, it looks like not just Spring, but Summer (although occasionally feels like Winter!).

Sunday 18 April

I have bought and printed off a couple of new patterns from an Etsy shop called Stitchrovia. I did a cross-stitch piece a few months ago and after years of putting cross-stitch aside I realised I loved and missed the hand embroidery element to it and so I bought 2 more to do.

They’re text based patterns, not what I usually go for, but I’m feeling motivated lately like I mentioned above, and so, why the heck not?!

A motivational quote makes for a motivated person…maybe?!!

I chose to do one called Make the Days Count

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/616060065/make-the-days-count-cross-stitch-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_8

and another called Think Good Thoughts

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/252232720/think-good-thoughts-cross-stitch-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_9&crt=1

I’m going to stitch the first one on some black Aida I have, that might be a little hard on the eyes, I can’t remember ever having done cross-stitch on a black background before. If it gets too difficult to see, I can always start again on a white background.

Another project that I dug out to finish is a leather handbag. I went on a workshop last year, luckily right before lockdown happened, and made a mini leather handbag and got the pieces ready to make another one.

I dyed the main pieces a dark green and red (looked more pink) last year and bevelled the edges, got the buckle on and then I got sort of stuck sewing on the buckle strap. On the day of the workshop, the teacher did this part for all of us to save a bit of time because saddle stitching takes ages!

I used up a lot of the thread she gave us, and I sort of lost interest a bit. But, now I have some thicker black waxed thread so we’ll see how I go.

I have all the tools and materials, I needed there to be strong natural light really. It was too dark and cold to work downstairs in winter. I’m ready to try again!

Monday 19 April

You know those days that you know you have been productive but there is absolutely NOTHING to show for it? That was today!

House cleaned, paper recycled, papers shredded…so much boring admin stuff done! Dumped so much old stuff…files on computer, old papers (that’s one thing that piles up for me…I love to scribble random notes on paper). I sorted a bag of books to take to the charity shop…and yet the place still looks the same!! 🙂

Part of me being motivated and productive is cleaning and de-cluttering, I never knew years ago, how good it would feel to throw stuff away!

I started a book called The Testaments by Margaret Atwood today. It’s the last book on my shelf that I haven’t read, once this is done then my reading list will be complete.

Yay!

It’s a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, I love dystopian future fiction. Give me a book about the world ending any day, I mean come on. Who wants a romantic comedy when you can have death and destruction?

I’m going to try and get some more of the Neon Fair Isle Bag done. It’s only small and it’s only knit and purl, but the colour changing and untwisting takes me forever! It’s soooooo slow going. I have about half of the second side to do and then sew it together and make an -icord strap/ drawstring with my French Knitting Doll.

Well, that’s all for now folks, I’ll try and post more regularly but I’m all steam ahead on the digital stuff now. I even planned out an e-book at the weekend. I do want to get my crafty projects done though, sometimes they hang over your head for ages and they become bigger things than they really are. Some things, like the bag, were only meant to be short and quick projects, and yet they drag on for so long that they almost aren’t fun anymore.

Goals for April:

-Finish Neon Fair Isle Bag

-Do some more on my leather bag (doesn’t mater how much, just SOMETHING)

-Try and finish The Testaments book

-Knit a bit more of my orange jumper that I’ve done half of

-DIGITAL STUFF: open Amazon KDP account, finish all the back end of Etsy stuff (FAQs, Policies, etc), do a bit more on Pinterest and RedBubble sites, Figure out commercial usage fonts and then it’s all go! Start designing printables and work on my book.

Yup, lots to do! See you soon xx

War and Peace

Finally. After several years of looking at this TOME, this BRICK on my bookshelf, I have finally found the willpower to get stuck into this book. And I have to say, I should have read it years ago. I understand now why it is such a classic.

It was surprisingly easy to read, considering it was published from 1864-1869.

I did find the fact that so many of the characters had similar names a little confusing, but I stuck with it and am glad I did.

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a book about the futilities of war, and yes, of course that is true. But if you want to read that kind of book may I suggest Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. THIS book is more about the fact that history is not made by the big men, but by the little. And that war is not fought by generals and kings, but by the soldiers on the battlefield who are not the only people to suffer in war – so do the people those soldiers leave behind and (hopefully) come back home to.

One point I found particularly interesting was the point about how people can change, that we are not the same person throughout our lives, for example Dolokhov, who is challenged by a duel by Pierre because he had an affair with his wife, is badly wounded by Pierre and who later apologises to Pierre for what he did to him. This shows an incredible character growth from a minor character who we assume to be a villain, but who eventually saves Pierre and other prisoners of war. Dolokhov and Anatole were two characters I wanted to know more about after the book ended.

Instead of talking too much about the plot and the history I thought I would share a few of my favourite quotes from the book – if you want to know what the book is about, you can search for that yourself!

“…As it is, we’ve been playing at war – that’s the nasty thing, we act magnanimously and all that. It’s like the magnanimity and sentimentality of the lady who swoons when she sees a calf slaughtered; she’s so kind, she can’t bear the sight of blood, but she eats the same calf in sauce with appetite. We’re told about the rules of war, about chivalry, about parleying, about sparing the unfortunate, and so on. It’s all nonsense…

…War isn’t courtesy, it’s the vilest thing in the world, and we must understand that and not play at war…”

[Prince Andrei talking to Pierre on the eve of battle – page 775]

“…Napoleon, during all this time of his activity, was like a child who, holding the straps tied inside a carriage, fancies that he is driving it.”

[Page 1008] I love this picture of Napoleon!

“Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it’s only here that the new and good begins. As long as there’s life , there’s happiness. There’s much, much still to come.”

[Pierre to Natash, page 1118]

I recommend this book to you all. Don’t let the fact it is over a thousand pages long put you off. It is worth your time and patience! I promise you! x

DAY #21 – Favourite Crafty Book

CRAFTY 30 DAY BLOGGING CHALLENGE DAY #21

DAY #21 – Favourite Crafty Book

I have loads of favourite crafty books for all sorts of crafts such as knitting, crochet, sewing etc. For this post I am going to pick a book that always inspires me because I love the fabrics used and there are only a couple of projects I wouldn’t have a go at (high praise indeed!).

It is called Quilting In No Time by Emma Hardy.

There is quite a mix of home-ware projects in this book such as table mats and coasters, laundry bags, a woollen fabric pouf, hot water bottle cover, curtains, napkins, table runner, aprons etc.

I have had a go at the pincushion on the front of the book and a trivet. I did the trivet out of Christmas fabric and it looked OK, but I couldn’t get the mitred edging perfect so that will need to be unpicked at some point and maybe try again with bias binding strips.

pincushion
pin cushion

I like the look of the table runner and might have a go at a festive themed one in November/ December later this year.

Prelude to Foundation – Book Review

Prelude to Foundation

I am on a roll! I started this book the night before last and now it’s finished. 

This year I have read 4 books in total (all from either birthday or Christmas presents) and they were all by Isaac Asimov. They were: The Complete Robot, The Naked Sun, Robots and Empire and Prelude to Foundation

I only have one more book – Forward the Foundation, to read and then I have finished both the Robot and Foundation series and have now only got the 3 books in the Empire series to read. 

Prelude to Foundation is a prequel to the Foundation series, but was written a few decades after the original stories in Foundation were written. In later years the author, Isaac Asimov, joined all 3 series together, linking them with planets and events and characters. 

This book details how Hari Seldon, (one of the characters in the later Foundation series who appears briefly once, and then only as recordings) and how he met some important people who would shape his later life’s work of discovering ‘psychohistory’. He travels around the Galactic Capital planet, Trantor, and you start to see a faded, old, Empire that is crumbling from within. 

It is set in a future where the people of Earth left the planet and settled on 50 worlds, then spread out again, after a war with these 50 worlds, and in the end created a Galactic Empire spanning 25 million worlds (in other books we see these are simpler worlds with fewer people and less wildlife than Earth – also Earth is the only one of all these planets with a natural satellite). There are no aliens in any of the books, except for the last books of the series, Foundation and Earth, where it is hinted that one day humans will have to face off against an outside threat, although it is never explained, just hinted at.

I just love dystopian fiction – bring on the end of the world! After all I’ve read about it ending, I know I can survive it!!!

I liked how you got to see flashes of Earth and other planets, just briefly, as myths and old tales. Planets you saw in other books were mentioned as though they didn’t even exist. 

I loved this book as I have loved all of the other books so far, but it’s only a beginning, an origin story really. Some parts are anti-climactic, such as meeting the Emperor, and other parts you see a mile off, such as who Hummin really is (well, the first part of who Hummin is anyway!). 

I look forward to reading the next book Forward the Foundation

And then I’ll be sad it’s all over…

…until I read the Empire series and I think there are more sequels written by other people after the author died. So, there’s still a bit more to come! 🙂

book

Robots and Empire – Book Review

Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov

I have just finished this book and I couldn’t put it down!! That’s the first book completed from my reading list.

This is the last book in the Robots series by Isaac Asimov and sets up the beginning of the Galactic Empire series (I think there’s only 3 books for that…so maybe it’s a trilogy and not a series?!) and after that, it becomes the Foundation series.

book

I started with a book called Foundation last year, read the last 5 of that series (not realising there were 2 prequels to the Foundation series), and then went right back to the start of the Robot series.

Have you seen a film called I, Robot with Will Smith in? The film was loosely based on the book of the same name (mainly the idea of having robots and they kept some of the character’s names – otherwise it was not the book at all!).

The robots series starts on Earth. People have created robots to help make their lives better, but end up suspicious and distrustful of them. Humanity starts to expand into nearby systems and the first 50 colonies are formed. People who live on the colonies are called Spacers.

There is tension between Earth and the Spacers. The Spacers use robots all the time for everything and it’s the opposite on Earth. People on Earth live mostly underground in what are called the Caves of Steel and are terrified of large open spaces, leaving the robots to do all their farming for them.

The Spacers live long lives with better technology. Some of the robot books focus on an Earthman called Elijah Baley and his robot friend R. Daniel Olivaw. They solve a few murders together, all the while Daneel is pondering the 3 laws of robotics – basically that a robot can’t harm a human.

By the start of the book I have just read, Robots and Empire, which is the last in the robot series, the people of Earth have started to expand again into new areas of space, onto new worlds, and they are known as Settlers. These are young worlds that need terraforming and only have a few million people on them, if that, whilst Earth has 8 billion. The Spacer worlds don’t have that many people on them and is one reason why they are so afraid of the people of Earth.

This book focuses on a descendent of Baley and one of his past loves, who is a long lived Spacer, as well as Daneel and Giskard, 2 robots.

Giskard has some mental powers, which is important in the Foundation series. Basically, the 2 humans are focused on finding out what happened to the people of one of the Spacer worlds (a planet called Solaria) and the 2 robots are trying to stop the end of the world. If you have read the Foundation series, especially the last book Foundation and Earth, then you will know whether they are successful or not.

I love these books. Although parts of the series were written in the 1950’s, this last book, Robots and Empire was written in 1985 (which is the year I was born *coughs*) and I have to say the whole series has aged quite well, I have read a lot of sci-fi in the last 3 or 4 years or so from the 50’s and 60’s and I just love it!

And the author, Isaac Asimov was a fascinating man himself. An actual scientist, he actually knew what he was talking about! Apparently he wrote and published over 500 novels, articles, papers, short stories etc. He was prolific! And I think I am right in thinking he coined the word ‘robotics’.

There was not one of the books in both the robot and Foundation series that I could not put down. Even though there aren’t really individual heroes as such, I read somewhere that it is SOCIETY itself that is the real hero of the series. This means there isn’t a lot of character description or even development sometimes. In Robots and Empire, the 2 robots tend to reason out the plot and subplots to themselves a lot. You pretty much know that Daneel looks humanoid whilst Giskard simply looks like a robot and that’s about it for the description of them.

If you love your vintage sci-fi then Isaac Asimov is definitely the place to be…I can’t believe it took me so long to read any of his books! Also, one of the streaming sites are making a TV series of the Foundation books soon, so get ahead of the game now and start swotting up!

Rating: 5*

Next up on my reading list is Prelude to Foundation…also by Isaac Asimov. Good times ahead! 🙂

On my To Read list

I have always loved reading ever since I was a little girl. It will be my favourite hobby for the rest of my life.

Books are friends and full of adventure. As a result of reading so much my spelling and grammar has always been pretty good too (watch as I now make tons of mistakes!).

I like science fiction and fantasy, in particular the cyber punk type science fiction from the 1920’s to the 1960’s…ish. You know, the ones where it’s either psychedelic drugs or atomic power at the heart of the story.

In the past 3 or 4 years or so I have been working my way through the classic sci-fi of the last century, focusing on authors such as Ray Bradbury (although I still have to read The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man) and Philip K.Dick.

This past year I have been working my way through Isaac Asimov, in particular his Foundation series. I just have the 2 prequels to read for that and then finish my way through the Robot series and then start the mini Empire series. They all interlink somehow, first the Robot series on Earth, how we created robots then started to spread out into nearby solar systems. After that, there was a huge expansion into a great Galactic Empire millions of worlds strong (the Empire series) which then fell, and was reborn into the Foundation.

The books fascinated me from the get-go and I couldn’t put them down. It took me reading a review of Foundation to realise one key point about the series…there isn’t an individual hero of the series, instead it is society itself which is the hero here.

And the ending. OMG the ending of the last Foundation book, the last paragraph when we realise who the real villain is and that actually, there are so many stories yet to come. That the story isn’t even finished yet, not by a long shot.

I also have the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – The Testaments. It’s been quite a while since I read The Handmaid’s Tale, but I love dystopian fiction of any kind and Margaret Atwood is one of those writers I just get. So I’m sure I will like the follow up…

The only other book that doesn’t fall into the sci-fi category that is on my to read list is War and Peace…funnily enough when I had another blog this was on there too years ago. I just haven’t felt like I had the head space to concentrate on it so far…but the thing is a TOME. I’m not kidding I could kill someone with it, it is so thick and heavy. To be perfectly honest I want to read it for 2 reasons: 1) because I can say I have read it and 2) so that I can make some space on my bookshelf!!

So here are the unread books on my shelf I want to read this year:

  1. War and Peace
  2. Robots and Empire
  3. Prelude to Foundation
  4. The Testaments

Only 4, but I want to re-read some non- fiction too. I have a whole shelf of reference books such as small business, blogging, writing, productivity etc and I want to have another look at some of them.

So, that’s it. A short and sweet list but some good stuff on there nevertheless.

What’s on your reading list?