The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

A long time ago, we used to be friends . . .

I won’t go into the whole amazing history of Veronica Mars, smart and smart-mouthed girl detective, formally of the WB, or her transition to Kickstarter fame. Basically, if you weren’t in Neptune ten years ago, you were missing out and I’m so, SO glad that she came to the big screen this year. The “Mars Investigations” sticker on this computer shows my support.

After the movie came out, Rob Thomas was thoughtful enough to provide me with a novel to go with, and someone very smart let Kristen Bell read the audiobook. My joy centers were like to explode, what with all these new hours of Veronica in which to revel!

After the events of the movie, which I will try not to spoil, Veronica is working the usual infidelity and insurance fraud cases in Neptune, trying to keep Mars Investigations above water while Keith is recovering. A couple of missing girls during spring break send the Chamber of Commerce into a spin and they hire Veronica to look into the disappearances. Everyone knows you can’t trust the Sheriff’s Department.

It’s really wonderful to be back with Veronica and the gang. There are lots of call backs to the show and the movie, but its clear that they were trying to write a book that could be standalone. I don’t know why you’d want to read it standalone, because there are literally hours you could spend with Veronica and Keith and Logan and Mac and Wallace and Weevil, but if you don’t like fun, that’s your deal.

It’s really great to see more of grownup Veronica, doing what she does professionally, and it’s wonderful to hear everything in Kristen Bell’s voice.

I read an interview with Rob Thomas somewhere saying that they want to continue with Veronica – that they’d love to do more movies, maybe the next with the plot of this book, maybe picking up after it leaves off, and that they’re hoping to do more novels, too. I surely hope so. There’s so much more there for my friends and I’m really looking forward to visiting them again.

 

Hell is Empty

Walt Longmire is back with on the road again, committing Great Acts of Physical Heroism and Lunacy in Hell is Empty. It’s kind of an incredible book, and quite a bit different than the other Longmires, especially the recent ones.

Hell is empty,

And all the devils are here.

 - Shakespeare, The Tempest

While the book takes its title and certainly a great deal of its theme from the above quote, its really a love letter to Dante’s Inferno, assuming that the love you’re talking about is cold, gruesome, sad, and nerve-wracking.

Walt and Sancho are part of a multi-county, multi-jurisdictional prisoner transfer of a loosely affiliated gang of very bad guys – the worst being Shade, a Canadian Indian whose appetite for killing is large and indiscriminate. He’s agreed to lead the FBI to the body of a boy he killed about ten years ago and buried in the Big Horn Mountains, in Walt’s county.

The body turns out to be Owen White Buffalo, the grandson of Virgil White Buffalo, the F*cking Big Indian from Another Man’s Moccasins, (my review here.) Virgil disappeared into the wild after being released in that book, and no one has seen him since. Except probably Henry.

The convicts pull off a daring escape and manage to take out enough of the task force that Walt decides to go after them alone, in spite of the fact that law enforcement from three counties, along with the Cheyenne Nation, are rushing to back him up and they’re in the middle of a freak May blizzard. He heads into the Big Horn Mountains alone and mostly on foot, tracking the escapees and their hostages, with a pack on his back containing a couple of candy bars, some water, and Saizerbitoria’s copy of Dante’s Inferno. Mostly as a joke, but it comes in handy when Walt gets bored tracking notorious murderers.

This book is really different from the others. I know in previous posts that I’ve said that while The Cold Dish, the first book, (my review here) was amazing, and all the rest were great, books 2-6 do have a sort of mystery-of-the-week feeling about them. They’re not quite Cozy Mysteries, they’re a bit too violent and sad for that, but they have a steadily growing cast of great characters and sometimes you’d rather just hang out with the characters than figure out the mystery.

Hell is Empty is different. The peripheral characters are there, but not really part of the story. There’s no real mystery, we know from the beginning whodunnit. Like The Cold Dish, this is more of a story about Walt, what he believes in, what he values, and just how far he’ll go. The whole series is solid, but this one in particular is a gem.

Beyond the Time of Spoilers

I think a triumphant post is the best thing to get us back in the swing, now that I’m returning to blog-land, so we’ll start with a new pattern of mine that came out a few months ago. Even if I’d been on the blog-wagon at the time I wouldn’t have posted about it because it was a secret!

And why was it a secret?

Because I was the January Rockin’ Sock.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. The Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club is doing open Calls for Submission for the first time ever this year, and they liked my idea for January and I am the January Sock.

This really meant a lot to me. I knit my way through most of my adolescence and then through most of college – I was a Fiber Arts major for crying out loud – but I don’t know if I was really a Rabid Knitter until I started working at Lakeside Fibers (now under new management but still a great shop) after I graduated. I started there in February of ’08 and really loved it right away, but the thing that made all the difference was our first Christmas together. The BossLady took all of us out to dinner (incidentally, my first Indian restaurant, I was woefully neglected as a child) and gave all of us a skein of Blue Moon Socks that Rock, in colors she knew we’d love. I got Pirate’s Booty, which is perfect for me.

At the time, I’d really just gotten into sock knitting – my friend from the shop, Kj, was all over Dream in Color Smooshy and got me hooked on the colorway Flamingo Pie. Those two pairs of socks were my first sock knitting and the start of an obsession.

My first year in the Rockin’ Sock Club was 2010. I had to take 2 years off, but I was a 2013 member, and now I’m here in 2014 as well. Quite aside from the fact that I’m a BMFA collector – my Barn Raising Quilt should be proof of my ardor, if nothing else – it gives me all kinds of warm fuzzy memories of a time when I was just learning to be obsessed with knitting, as well as memories of the knitting ladies at my first yarn store.

But back to these socks.

The inspiration for January was Chinese New Year, green, lanterns, dragons, horses, and luck. They showed us a mood board and I put together these socks as a prototype.

The yarn is actually the Hope Springs Eternal from the 2013 club, but I had it on hand and I wanted to show how great my pattern worked with highly variegated yarns. There’s all kinds of slip-stitching and little bits of garter in there to help spread the color around, keep it interesting by not let it pool. I love highly variegated sock yarns, but it’s all about having the right pattern for them, and so often comes down to luck. I also wanted a sort of deep texture pattern that had a hint of roundness to it, to bounce off the lanterns in the mood board – that’s what got me the sort of circular shape of the motif.

It also got me the name. These are the Lantern Luck socks, made with colorway Lucky Number Seven. Blue Moon will start offering the pattern and yarn to non-club members next January (that’s the deal with the club, they’re exclusive for a year.

I’m so excited to be able to share this with you. It really means a lot to me to be a part of this!

Contest Results

So . . . I was holding off posting contest results until I got some photos of the actual Summerhouse that my sister promised me, but then I . . . forgot.

I’m the worst blogger ever.

Although, the photos are pretty great.

ANYWAY!

The three winners are:

2: Beth

13: Rebecca

1: Akasha

Contact me with your Rav name and I’ll send the pattern as a gift that way.

I’m trying to get back in the saddle, blog-wise, so I’ll be posting with more regularity again soon. I don’t know if I’ll get back up to my killer three-times-a-week schedule, like I was doing last year, but once I remember how much I enjoy journaling I know I’ll be able to do better.

Summerhouse Henley for Holla Knits

I am just beyond excited today! Look what just came out!!!

It’s the Summerhouse Henley from Holla Knits!

Holla Knits is an amazingly cool online magazine. They’re a small, independent operation, out of Chicago, (which is, incidentally, the second best city I’ve ever visited) and they really put a focus on supporting the designers. I can’t tell you what a treat it is to work with their editor, and how supportive they are.

And the quality of their patterns is really excellent; because they’re small, they can afford to be more fashion-conscious and take more risks than some of the big guys. Their calls for submission really put a premium on fashion-forward and non-cookie cutter pieces and I can’t tell you how inspiring it is as a designer. I love their collections because you honestly don’t see anything like their stuff anywhere else!

They also always knit their pieces in two different yarns – I can’t think of anyone else who does that, and it’s so cool of them to let you see everything two ways. My gray sample is Knit Picks City Tweed DK and the red one is Hampden Hills Alpacas Artisan Yarns Alpaca Silk.

As far as the Summerhouse Henley goes, what I really wanted to do with this call was something that was sneakily-cool. Something that looked demure and hot-librarian, but which was actually secretly daring.

In the first photo, you can see the hot-librarian thing, but what I love so much about the stitch pattern is that when you’re close up, it looks completely different. The lace that makes up the body has really large eyelets, but because of the directional nature of the twists and the texture surrounding them, you only see through the eyelets at certain angles.

Now: a little about my inspiration, because I’m really happy about that!

Spring a year ago I went to DC to stay with my sister in her flat, which is right off Capitol Hill. It was crazy hot and muggy in Texas when I left, but when I got to DC it was cool, breezy, dry, and sunny. The flowers in all her neighbors’ gardens were blooming and she had great light in her living room. I sat there with the windows open and worked during the days and then when she got home at night we’d go for walks around the Hill.

It was basically an ideal time with one of my favorite people.

One of my favorite places to walk was the Capitol Hill Summerhouse. You really must check the photos in the link – it’s a supremely gorgeous place. It was built in the 1880s so that visitors to the Hill would have a water fountain.

The brickwork has a sort of honeycomb pattern and that’s what initially set me to thinking about the body pattern for this sweater. I wanted something sort of olde worlde and honeycombish to remind me of the place.

The rest of the inspiration for the sweater was SB (my sister) herself. She’s a really amazing person with great taste in clothes and I love knitting for her. If I’m ever stumped for the direction I want a design to go, I ask myself what SB wants to wear.

As far as the technical details go, the sweater is knit from the bottom up, in the round. The lacey/twist pattern is easy to memorize and takes you up to the beginning of the armholes, from whence the front and back are knit flat. The Henley section in the front is also split. The sleeves are saddle shoulder and are worked strictly in stockinette.

I’m really proud of this sweater and I hope you like it. Take a look at the other pieces in the Spring ’14 Collection – the Stoney Brook Top in particular has me wishing for knitting-for-myself time – and be sure to check out the lovely people who gave yarn for the collection. I knit the gray sample of my sweater so I can speak for the wonderfulness that is the Knit Picks City Tweed DK, but I’m dying to knit another one in the Alpaca Silk. I’d love to see a version of the top too that had different colors for the body and the sleeves.

I want one for myself that’s a bit longer and slouchier. I’m tempted to do it in a new colorway Knit Picks has coming out called Tarantella, but I need another brown sweater like I need another brown sweater, so maybe I’ll go with the Cobalt instead.

God, I love knitting.

Now: comment on this post by the end of the day Sunday, and on Monday I’ll do a drawing and give away 3 copies of the pattern. 

Thanks, and have a great week!

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