Crazy Monkey Creates

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Three Bags Full (review) October 20, 2007

Filed under: 2007,audible,book review — crazymonkeycreates @ 4:33 pm

I finished my audiobooks for this month, and “Three Bags Full” was the topper. “Market Forces”, which I may or may not review in full was dark, and the contrast between the two books couldn’t be more sharp.

Three Bags Full is a murder mystery about a murdered shepherd named George. At the beginning of the book, he’s found in his own meadow with a spade stuck through him. The rest of the book unravels the mystery with a set of unique detectives. Miss Maple, Mopple the Whale (a Merino), Zora, and Othello (the 4-horned black sheep — at the end he’s shown to be a Hebridean, if I recall correctly).

Miss Maple is the Smartest Sheep in Glenkill, and probably the world, the other sheep agree. Mopple the Whale is known for his size and his appetite. Zora likes peering into the abyss from her spot on the cliff. Othello was raised in the zoo, and knew the zoo, the circus, and the outside world. They decide to find out who killed their shepherd, as he was a good shepherd, and read aloud to them every day. They go about it by paying attention to their surroundings, listening to the people coming and going to the meadow, and finally piece together what happened.

The funniest bits of it were the things that sheep just didn’t understand. Like how the preacher lives in God’s House. They start calling HIM God, because, you see, he lives in God’s House. I laughed every time the sheep started talking about the long-nosed man and referred to him as God. Especially when they talked about the garden of dead people (the cemetary).

I won’t give away any more, but this book was amazingly clever, and full of sheep! Sheep, I tell you! Definitely a will-read-again title. The version I listened to was narrated by Josephine Bailey, and was the unabridged version translated into english.

5 sheep out of 5, for being clever and full of sheep. 🙂


The Starting is the easiest part… October 18, 2007

Filed under: 2007,knitting,quirky christy — crazymonkeycreates @ 7:03 pm

While acquiring my 40″ size 1 Addi yesterday (so that I could start Ben’s socks), I chatted with the owners of the LYS and a customer who came in, and first, told them about my favorite way to knit socks — 2 at a time on 1 circ, judy’s magic cast-on, increase either side of the toe, short row heels (wrapped, yo, or sherman), and long cuff– and I told them that the starting of a project is the most fun for me. The  item is still just a possibility I’m working toward, and I think that’s what leads a lot of us to  having “startitis”, or starting bunches of projects and losing steam on all of them at once.

I hadn’t thought about how much I loved starting a project, even as I started the toes last night (I’m up to 32 sts on each side of the sock, 4 rows left of the toes). I love the possibility that this sock, hat, etc. will be really really cool looking, and I love trying to visualize what a charted or printed  pattern will look like in the yarn I’ve chosen. The rows before the heel I spend thinking about which heel I’m going to use, and the rows after the heel and before the end of the sock, I think about what treatment I’m going to give the top of the sock. 10 rows of 1×1 ribbing? 8 rows of 2×1? 20 rows of stockinette to curl delicately over the top? 2 rows stockinette, and a picot bind-off?

Until the last stitch is knit, and the last stitch is cast-off, there’s still a possibility for change, for the pattern to grow, for the sequence of knits and purls to end up as something else.

What we’re doing isn’t just knitting, it’s collapsing all of the possibilities into one reality. No wonder it’s hard work! No wonder each stitch we make toward the end goal is so hard to make!

Starting is the easiest part, the part with the most potential (as you start with JUST yarn and a needle or five), and it locks us into a set of possibilities.  Thee most energy is expended in those first few stitches, no wonder it’s so exciting!

I think this is what is called “mindful knitting”, thinking about the process, thinking about how the process of creating affects us as we become part of it.  Thinking about knitting is probably my favorite part of knitting, and it all starts with a single cast-on stitch. If you think about it, it’s amazing that what starts with a single stitch can become a sock, a hat, a sweater, a bowl, a mobius, a shawl, a washcloth, or… whatever your mind wants it to be.

This is why I knit. It’s a creative process, generating something from a bit of string and some sticks that wasn’t there before.


Socks and Stuff. October 17, 2007

Filed under: 2007,sock,Spinners With Altitude — crazymonkeycreates @ 9:09 pm

So, after teaching 2 of the last 3 weekends, I finally get to have a weekend off to play with my knitgroup. I’m looking forward to the Saturday meeting — I have socks that are being bound off (I’m 2/3 done binding off one sock, 1/2 done with the other — the loveliness of 2 socks on 1 circ). I’ll be starting a new pair as soon as that’s done — a self-striping color of Online Supersocke– for Ben. I figure if I always have socks on needles, I won’t have an excuse. 😀

So I stopped by the Llama store for a 40″ size 1 on my way to work, and Kris and Val (the owners) said that I should teach a class for 2 socks at once, as they don’t have anyone to teach that way, and the two of them use DPN’s and knit both socks at once (first one, then the other). So, we’ll see what happens in the first quarter.

My dye class went pretty well, my spinning class was fun, and there’s no reason I couldn’t teach my preferred sock method when the opportunity arises.

Next Saturday is Dye Day at my place, and I’m looking forward to the gals coming over. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) that my order of yarn and stuff gets to me before Saturday. The order should’ve gotten to the company today, as we mailed stuff to my brother the same day, and he’s in NYC (the company’s in new york, but not nyc). So, the order should get shipped tomorrow or Friday, and I think they ship UPS, so it should be here mid-week.

But I thought that about the order I made online Saturday before last, and… sigh. We had to GO to the PO, where the box was in a bin of “to be tried again”. The “note left” status was incorrect, as there was no note left, etc.  Comedy of errors. I was lucky to have gotten hold of my order before the class where someone wanted to buy some of the superwash I had ordered.

Fingers crossed, people. Fingers crossed.

Pics to come of awesome socks.


Review: His Dark Materials October 10, 2007

Filed under: 2007,audible,book review — crazymonkeycreates @ 9:53 pm

I waited to write this review for a few reasons. First, I wanted to finish the trilogy. This review is about the three books of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. The version presented by is read by the author, and performed by a full cast, and sucks you into Lyra’s world (and Will’s, and others). Second, I wanted to wait until I had time to digest the three books, and I think I have digested enough to let my opinions out.

Let me start by saying that these books made me want to drive to work. They were like a  treat in themselves, and I had to force myself to not just go driving just so I could listen. The acting is well-done, the voices are consistent with each other, and the narration was excellent.

Philip Pullman, in addition to being an intriguing author, is an excellent narrator. His voice is deep and you get the feeling that it could be booming if he wanted. The pace of the narration was not too slow, not too fast. He did-n’t pro-nounce ev-e-ry syl-la-ble dis-tinct-ly like some author/narrators. His English accent wasn’t distracting from the story, and was very easy to listen to without getting lost.

The Philosophy of the His Dark Materials trilogy is not for everyone. The Church (specifically the Catholic Church) is not presented in a very good light. There is a fight between the angels of the Authority and a faction of humans, angels, and other beings led by Lord Asriel, and there is discussion of the afterlife being a place where you wait – forever – and are tormented by Harpies.

Right now, the Wikipedia Entry for Philip Pullman includes the phrase “He is a bastard who has an agenda to get kids to turn against organized religion.” Here is the edit that did it, if it’s been deleted (which it probably will be, as Wikipedia is able to be edited by anyone

While yes, the books are anti-organized-religion, and have a more humanist stance on religion and belief and thought, they are more food for thought than an outright plea to change one’s faith. If someone is so malleable that a book about a little girl, some armored bears, and zeppelin aeronauts shakes their faith, there was already a crack in that foundation.

I took it as an enjoyable adventure starring a little girl and her friends, and the philosophy didn’t bother me. I enjoy learning more about what other people think is going on with the supernatural, and believe that the worlds presented in books doesn’t have to have any relation to the world we live in.

The story was a grand adventure, and included armored bears, witches, flying machines, gypsies, specters, and multiple parallel worlds. Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon chase around the world and have some lovely and some terrible things happen to them, and while Lyra means well, she sometimes does the wrong thing. At the end of The Golden Compass, she takes off with Lord Asriel to another world, and you’re left hoping she’ll be ok.

The Subtle Knife introduces Will Parry, who becomes the bearer of a knife that can cut through the barrier that separates the multiple worlds. He finds Lyra in a world different from his, and she is upset that he doesn’t have a daemon, as everyone on her world has one — it’s kind of like a visualization of the subconscious in animal form, and gives a clue to who someone really is. They spend the whole book moving from world to world, trying to figure out the mystery of Dust, or Dark Matter, or Shadows, as the scientists in Will’s world (ostensibly our world) call it. The two meet Mary Malone, an ex-nun who has devoted her life to studying Shadows.

The Amber Spyglass is where Mary Malone becomes more three-dimensional. She finds her way to a world filled with strange beings called mulefa, who are non-human-shaped intelligent beings. She studies their ways, learns more about Dust, and comes to be a translator when other humans find their way to the mulefa’s world. The big battle which has been alluded to in the first two books comes to pass, and it’s engaging and bloody without being exceptionally specific. The battle pulls you in, and holds your attention in the same way the rest of the books do. The fighting isn’t detailed enough to recreate it with a forensic computer program, but brings you to the edge of the fighting, to the dust, the smoke, the smells of battle.  At the end of the book, there are revelations, and there is a bittersweetness to it all, which is an excellent way to end the journey. Although there is another book in the works, this works well as a trilogy, and the ending is an excellent place to stop.

I enjoyed the trilogy, and the philosophy didn’t bother me, nor did the painful descriptions of things that happened, but if you’re very religious and easily offended, you may want to give this trilogy a pass. To enjoy this story, you may have to separate yourself from this reality and simply tell yourself that it’s another reality that lives in the books. Which, given the writing style, and the style of the audio books, isn’t a hard thing to do.


More spinning, more … etsy stuff.. (mostly store update) October 3, 2007

Filed under: 2007,My Etsy Site,spinning — crazymonkeycreates @ 9:06 pm

Well, if etsy would cooperate a little more tonight, I’d have everything listed.

There has been spinning:

BFL Autumny (yes, MJ, that’s your word)

Autumny BFL

Superwash Merino “Mothers and Daughters”:

Mothers and Daughters yarn

and a Merino offering that I’m calling “April Showers”:

April Showers Merino Yarn

There’s also some merino-silk that I dyed a while ago…

Merino Silk FIrey Pink

Blackberry Twish

Forest Floor

and some superwash merino roving as well…

Partly Cloudy

Chocolate Cherry

Ben’s also been dyeing cotton yardage; you can check it all out at the etsy store. If you know a quilter, a spinner, a knitter, or a crocheter, there’s a little of everything right now in my lil’ old etsy store.