Monthly Archives: July 2013

NPR’s Top 100 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books

I'm not particularly nerdy, but I was still surprised that I've read only 23 out of NPR's Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy Books. (Tally your total here.) I enjoy both genres, so I'll use this as a reading list when my current stock runs dry. What did they leave off? Let me know so I can add it to my "to read" list.

As a side note, I'm always a bit annoyed to see these genres lumped together, since they are so different from each other in type and tone. Actually, I guess that statement alone makes me pretty nerdy, eh?

End of July 2013 Updates

bav cowl 2What happened in July? What happened to July?

The Carex Cowl was published.  Zen Yarn Garden has kits available for pre-order.  I’ll have the sample at Stitches Midwest at the Zen Yarn Garden booth (you know, if you’d like to squish it).

I have a pattern in Dreaming of Shetland that’s coming out soon — it’s the poppy mitts worked in Jamieson’s Spindrift, shown below (this is just a snapshot I took before sending them in for the photography for the book).

This ebook is a project to raise funds for Deb Robson’s study of Shetland sheep.  Deb is a fantastic scholar and person;  I adore her Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook (review here).  The patterns for this book are AMAZING — you can see preview pics here of all of them.

The mitts are stranded, with duplicate stitch details for the poppies.  The pattern will get its own post, with more pics & details, when the ebook is published.

poppies 3

Other stuff:  Hitch is progressing.  We’re down to the last tech edit review, schematics, and me writing the essay.  I’m thinking of setting up a webpage just for Hitch which the various designers can access & post to as well.

I’m also working like a madwoman on projects for my next collection. Currently in the works is a beaded shawl with Sweet Georgia Merino Silk, a cowl in Shibui Alpaca Cloud, fingerless mitts in Elemental Affects, a sweater in Anzula Oasis, and socks in Knitting Notions sport.

If you’re going to Stitches Midwest, you can find me at either the Verdant Gryphon booth (I’ll be doing signings on Friday & Saturday) or at the Cooperative Press booth (part of the Cephalopod booth).

Crisp …


- by Joan -

Yarned by You

I had a lot of fun looking through new Raverly projects with JMF yarns for this week’s Yarned by You. In fact, I found so many great things, I could have posted for next week, too! But I restrained myself and instead focused on trying to give a good balance of summer projects, because even though it’s delightful now in New England, I’m betting it’s hot as hades in other parts of the States.

A reminder that to learn more about the project, pattern, and yarn used, you should click the picture to be taken to the maker’s Ravelry project page.

This great sweater is crocheted in Findley (12 Bloom) by akforty7. It’s called FrouFrou and it has an awesome pineapple edging, not seen in this picture.

akforty7's FrouFrou

These start stitch arm warmers are also crocheted, but this time AKFrog used Moonshine in #10 Cotton Candy. These arm warmers have been in my favorites for forever! I just love this stitch pattern.

AKFrog's Star Stitch Hand Warmers

Pull Me Over is also another one of my favorites! feltfickled knitted it in Sabine – 17 Poppy.  The ribbing is great for a bit of curve-hugging negative ease!

Feltfickled's Pull Me Over

grumpygirl73 did a beautiful job on this Iberian Discovery. I love the colors of Moonshine she put together – 07 Camp Fire, 12 Rope Swing, 05 Sand Dune. There are bonus kitty pictures on her project page!

grumpygirl73's iberian discovery


I love this darling set in Yearling designed for us by Pam Wynne. It’s Robin cardigan, Chunky booties, and Puffs hat. gidigirl knit it using #9 Blue, Blue Sky and #10 Leafy. It’s such a cheery set!

gidgigirl's Robin, Chunky Booties, and Hat

I adore this Fishtail Lace Slouchy Hat that hillvintage knit, don’t you? It’s made from Sabine in #18 Clementine.

hillvintage's Fishtail Lace Slouch

And the final Yarned by You spot has to go to tanekagirl’s Grania. She knit it in Findley #1 Fresco. Isn’t it just stunning? It has crystal beads, which are unfortunately difficult to see in this photo.

tanekagirl's Grania

That’s it for this week! Do you have a hankering to see anything in particular for next week?

Lonsdale Dress

Yay me!  I finished another dress, and just in time for the beach! (since I bought the fabric especially for its “beachy” look)

This time it was my first attempt making Sewaholic’s Lonsdale Dress.

The fabric is Michael Miller’s “Shore Thing Kelp” in green.

I have to say, I love that whole collection.


I am really, really happy with how it turned out.


I only had two problems when putting the dress together:  the zipper was faulty and broke after I installed it completely.  There were a lot of curse words.  I then pulled it out and put in a new one.  This time I was pissed off, though, so I did a sloppier job and therefor you can see the zipper this time.  Whereas the broken zipper had been sewn in beautifully.  Of course.

Then, when I was working on the hem I busted a needle on my serger.  Totally my fault, but still.  Very frustrating. Lesson: don’t sew while pissed off.

This dress is coming to the beach with me this weekend, for sure!

Tagged: Sewing

Book brief: The Burgess Boys

Burgessboys1I picked this novel (Random House, 2013) up at the library while in the midst of reading another, and I'm glad I did. Taking a break from The Lacuna brought me back to it eagerly after I savored every minute with Bob Burgess and his people. While I had read author Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer-winning Olive Kitteredge, that collection of linked stories didn't grab me the way this tale did. And despite its familial focus echoing the last novel I finished, The Burgess Boys takes place over years rather than a weekend, and ranges in location from NYC to tiny Shirley Falls, Maine, with a few other stops afield. I read a review that described the book's voice as "close third-person," which I can't recall hearing used before, but I like how aptly it decribes the way Strout takes us inside some characters heads, but not everyone's. Ultimately, younger brother Bob is the central focus, but we get to know his twin, his ex, and his sister-in-law. Also the Somali immigrant Abdikarim. Squirrely sibling Jim, not so much. The Burgess Boys opens with a conceit of a first-person narrator laying out an overview of the story, which may have helped to engage this reader; I can't un-read it and imagine starting the saga blind. We all belong to families, and taking an inside look at this one increased my appreciation for my own, while entertaining me well for a few weeks this summer. 

Superlatives: Character I'd most like to hang with: Margaret Estaver. Character I'd most like to hear more from: Zach. Most honest character: Bob. Most caricatured character: That lady who lives upstairs at Susan's (can't remember her name). Most throwaway character: Pam (but not really). 

Publisher's blurb: 

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.


Exhausted, but Inspired

It has been so long since I wrote a serious, thinky blog post that I’m not entirely sure to begin. There are a million thoughts and ideas bouncing around my head right now, all jockeying for position and demanding to go first.

This summer has been completely chaotic for me but not necessarily in a negative way. I feel like I’ve been traveling non-stop due to business obligations, which is completely exhausting but also the best way I know to get re-inspired about yarn, knitting, textiles and all the other components of my work.

Meeting craftspeople who are excited by what we’re going at Juniper Moon fills me with joy, and seeing what they are working on, what’s inspiring them, is a gift that I treasure long after I’ve returned home.

It reminds me to be grateful for this life I get to lead. While there are certainly times when I get frustrated and cranky, and I work very hard, it’s hard to call it “work” in any real sense. I’m not roofing houses in the Texas sun or performing some mindless task a million times a day with no end in site. I am so incredibly lucky, and a reminder of that now and then goes a long way to minimizing my cranky days.

I’ve also been doing a lot of what Joss Whedon calls “filling the tanks” lately. Reading new magazines and authors. Listening to new music that’s outside my comfort zone. Watching foreign film on Netflix. Researching the traditional textiles of other cultures. All of this will be informing where JMF’s commercial line goes from here, sometimes overtly, sometimes not.

I’ve got so much more to say on this subject but first I want to here from you. Where do you find your creative inspiration? Feel free to be as specific (or general) as you like, and links are always welcomed!

Cover Illustration, published

Yay!  I can finally publicize the cover illustration I did for Ann Kingstone's book Stranded Knits!

The book features some really lovely stranded color-work knitted jumpers and accessories.

Review: Stitching in the Stacks

Post image for Review: Stitching in the Stacks


First, the facts:

Title: Stitching in the Stacks: Librarian-Inspired Knits

Edited by: Sarah Barbour

Published by: Cooperative Press, 2013

Pages: 174

Type: Literary-themed patterns


1. Archives
2. Fiction
3. Reference
4. Stacks
5. Staff Room

KS: Stitching in the Stacks

The In-Depth Look:

It seems to be one of those (you’ll excuse the phrase) unwritten truths that a lot of knitters are avid readers. Maybe it’s because we’re happy sitting quietly, keeping ourselves busy, and both knitting and reading are perfect activities.

The author begins by asking the question, “Is there really a special connection between librarians and knitting? Stereotypically, of course, librarians knit. They also wear glasses, keep cats, and put their hair up in buns. … Still the circumstantial evidence of a link is persuasive. … For knitters of all levels, libraries are a natural place to look for patterns, technical help and inspiration–and they’re more common than yarn stores. … But maybe the connection lies in a mutual appreciation for preserving knowledge and sharing it. The collection of patterns in this book is designed to celebrate that connection, whatever its cause. Each of the designs comes with its own fragment of library lore intended to educate, amuse, and enrich. Some of the patterns draw their inspiration from librarians themselves, from the famous to the fictional, to the obscure and anonymous.”

To that end, what follows is a nice variety of patterns–sweaters, gloves, shawls, vests, even hats, and a couple skirts. There are odds and ends like a coffee-press cozy, eyeglass case, e-reader case, and even an adorable little 3D bookworm. (The only kind of worm you’d really want to find in your books.) Most of the clothing patterns are for women, though there is one vest for librarians of the male persuasion.

Along the way, there are some interesting tidbits about librarians (real and fictional), as well as shout-outs to some in-the-know kind of metadata, like the dewey decimal number for knitting. There are a number of things in here I’d love to knit (which isn’t true of every knitting book, no matter how good). I suppose it’s possible that all the lovely pictures with books and knits are making my book-loving knitter’s heart go pitter-pat, but really it’s a nice variety of pattern–useful, fun, attractive, playful … lots of options. And you don’t even need to be a librarian to appreciate them.

You can find this book at the Cooperative Press website.

Want to see bigger pictures? Click here.

This review copy was kindly donated by Cooperative Press. Thank you!

My Gush: Fun and educational!

Pigs, Cows and Chickens. And a few heads for fun.