Yarnalong: Sleep, Rome, Ursula & Decca

Reading: The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe

To read more books that I want to read (rather than should read), I’ve started with someone else’s favourite book. In a recent Pom Pom Quarterly podcast (or should I say Pomcast), their top three list concerned books they would read and re-read. Sophie recommended The House of Sleep and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. The characters are all mildly flawed and a little creepy, but in a very entrancing manner.

Listening: Knit.fm and Death of the Republic

Knit.fm is still my go-to morning drive podcast and I’m learning so much. This week I learnt I’d been picking up stitches wrong for my entire knitting life. I can’t recommend it enough to knitters.

Death of the Republic is another Hardcore History podcast concerning the fall of the Roman Empire. It’s another marathon, but with a road trip at the weekend, I’m a far way through.

Knitting: Ursula & – gasp – Decca

Ursula is still inching along (steeked last week, scary, scary), but a couple of weeks back, I broke from the queue a little and cast on Rachel Coopey’s Decca socks with Little Dipper Yarns Bootes Sock Yarn in a delicious colour I can’t remember the name of.


New Coop socks with new CoopKnits bag – and my owl row counter, because apparently, I cannot be relied upon to count to four.

Yarnalong: Knit.fm, A History of Britain, and Ursula

Right, let’s get back on the Yarnalong train.

Reading: Nothing

After getting most of the way through Postcards from the 20th Century, I gave up. The memories are in a thematic order, with very little reference to which of the six authors are responsible for each story – except their name. Being absolutely fecking useless with names, I got frustrated as I had to ‘get to know’ the author with each new short story.

Then I started to ask myself why I was reading this and how often I read something because I feel like I should. And it’s a lot. So now I’m trying to think of something I would like to read, rather than should read.

Listening: Knit.fm and A History of Britain by Simon Schama

Knit.fm is a short series of podcasts by Knitbot’s Hannah Fetig and Quince and Co’s Pam Allen* that go back to the basics and explain pretty much everything you need to know about knitting. I thought it would be mind-numbingly boring; it’s not, it’s incredibly useful and makes me pay much more attention to my knitting, why I do knitterly things the way I do, and how I could do them differently.

I’ve been meaning to read A History of Britain for years; listening to it seems a wonderful alternative. I’m learning a lot – mainly that I know very little about British history!

Knitting: Ursula

I’ve finished the fair isle body! Hallelujah! I’m currently a quarter of the way through steeking. One armhole down, another to go, and the front.

See what everyone else is knitting/reading/listening to over on the original Yarnalong.

* It wasn’t until I was writing this that I wondered – this isn’t the same Pam Allen who writes poetry is it? It can’t be, that Pam Allen wrote poetry in the 1970s, so she’d be quite old by now.

Yarnalong: Postcards, TAL, & Ursula

Before you get started here, please head over to the Crafting Battlegrounds post and place your vote – at the moment the metal needle-using, polygamous bi-crafters are winning!

Reading: Postcards from the 20th Century edited by Joyce Harrison and Mavis Boyd

I finished Blue Lighting last night and am still – well, I can’t say at the risk of ruining the end for anyone who wants to read it. I’m both very keen to and yet dreading reading the next book in the series. So I won’t.

I’ve just picked up Postcards from the 20th Century from the book shelf. It’s from my all-time favourite second hand book shop in Wellington: Pegasus Books. Seriously, if you’re in Wellington, head to Cuba Mall, dodge the charity collectors, buskers, and bums and slip into the Left Bank – you won’t regret it.

Postcards is nostalgia history, so I’ll either end up throwing it against the wall or being completely enthralled by it.

Listening: This American Life

This American Life is still on in the car. I recommend the episode Bad Baby – the first act had me tearing up on the motorway, and the second and third had me laughing so much it was hard to drive.

Knitting: Ursula

I haven’t made much progress at all. Last week I hurt my neck and was very social, and thus didn’t knit much.

See what everyone else is knitting/reading/listening to over on the original Yarnalong.

Yarnalong: Blue Lightning, Podcasts & Ursula

Reading: Blue Lightning by Anne Cleeves

After much debate, I set aside the lighthouse book. It doesn’t matter how much you may want to know the information in a book, if it’s not enjoyable, it’s not worth it.

Instead I’m reading Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves. Because knitting a Fair Isle cardigan in yarn from Lerwick and using a pattern book dedicated to how awesome the Shetland Islands are wasn’t enough to make me wish I was back there. I have to actually read about them too.  

Listening: Various

As knitting Fair Isle goes a lot faster when I’m actually looking at it, I’m burning through several podcasts:

Dan Carlin’s ‘Hardcore History’

The Wrath of Khan series turned out to be rather addictive, due to my complete ignorance of Mongols – seriously, where were they going to burn, rape, and pillage next? Carlin can be a little repetitive in stressing his themes (in this case that of ‘should we hold the Mongols to account for the tens of millions of people they killed?’), but that works rather well – if you’re not paying close attention, you’ll still be able to follow the narrative.

Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’

I’m a long-time favourite of ‘In Our Time’, the BBC4 program that discusses the ‘history of ideas’. I thought it had gone on a break, but it turns out my iTunes had just stopped downloading it – I now have several months to catch up on!

Favourite episode this week: ‘The Enuch’, if only to hear the female academic remark that castration really is a simple process and Bragg’s protestations to the contrary.

This American Life

This is currently constantly on in my car as I can’t find a radio station I don’t hate.

Knitting: Ursula

Good news: it appears to fit. I’ve changed down a needle size in the hope of creating a little bit of a waist and settling in for the long haul. Where’s the next podcast at?

See what everyone else is knitting/reading/listening to over on the original Yarnalong.

Yarnalong: Lighthouses, Genghis Khan, and Ursula

Reading: Romance of Australian Lighthouses by Valmai Phillips

I’m about halfway through Romance and, while it’s still interesting, I have definitely identified just what’s wrong with it: a lack of structure and an assumption the reader has good knowledge of the Australian coast. The later amplifies the former – if you don’t have any knowledge of the coast, the abrupt jump to the next lighthouse is disorientating.

Listening: The Wrath of Khans series from Dan Carlin’s ‘Hardcore History’ podcast 

I tried to finish Guns, Germs, and Steel, I really did, but in the end I gave up because I just wasn’t interested. Macro history isn’t really my jam and I don’t believe Diamond does a particularly good job of it.

I’ve turned to Dan Carlin, who makes history exciting instead. Carlin’s fairly famous for his ‘Hardcore History’ podcast series and with good reason. He has an excellent style, which borders on being overly-dramatic, but really just conveys his massive passion for military history. He’s incredibly well-read and doesn’t shy away from the more terrible aspects of war. I’m working my way through the Wrath of Khans series.

Knitting: Ursula Cardigan

I’ve just cast on the Ursula cardigan by Kate Davies. Luckily, I’m knitting this as a KAL with Sharon, because otherwise I would’ve given up by now.

Challenges include:

  • every second size in the pattern has a different gauge
  • it’s a very exacting fit with nil ease
  • I very rarely get the same gauge as Kate Davies
  • I didn’t buy enough yarn, so I can’t do another swatch and will just have to hope my calculations are correct
  • I’m doing a KAL with a person so much smaller than myself, I’ll be knitting a third more stitches. But at least I’ll have company, right?

For more Yarnalong inspiration, visit the original.

Yarnalong: Lighthouses, Diamonds, & Cowls

Weekend before last, I found myself in a secondhand book store. This isn’t an unusual occurrence – show me a town and I’ll show you a secondhand book store. I love them. They’re so full of hope and promise. You never know what you’ll find and who you’ll become by reading the books.

Except…I hardly ever read the books I buy.

It’s terrible. They just come home and sit next to my bed, looking downcast and asking, why haven’t you read me yet? Or worse, they go on a shelf and I don’t even notice them.

So I’m going to use the Yarnalong in an effort to actually read these books. (Also, inspired by Sharon, I’m going to give audio books a go).


Reading: Romance of Australian Lighthouses by Valmai Phillips

I have an odd obsession with lighthouses at the moment. I’m only up to the second chapter of Romance. It can jump around in the chronology a little bit, which feels a little like being tugged and washed about in a choppy sea, so I guess that’s appropriate.

This book was purchased from City Basement Books. If you’re in Melbourne, you need to check this treasure trove out – masses of titles and lower than normal city prices.

Listening: Guns, Germs, & Steel by Jared Diamond

Having had a friend devote a honours essay to the problems with this book, I’m not really that keen to read it. But then, it’s such a well-known history, I feel I should. An audio book feels like a good compromise.

It has the usual problems of a popular global history – it overgeneralises and oversimplifies.

Knitting: Avery Cowl

Just casting off!

For more Yarnalong inspiration, visit the original.