Monday, 26 January 2015

Back to the library...

I love books and I love blog posts about books. I've discovered some interesting reads from other bloggers' recommendations. Today I seem to have a pile of books going back to the library some of which a) I have actually read (well, mostly - I can't say I read all the knitting patterns letter by letter) and b) seem to fit in with this blog's theme.

From the bottom of the pile, The Gentle Art of Knitting by Jane Brocket. I borrowed this for its scarf pattern*, which I followed for my sister's Christmas present. (As a notoriously slow knitter and project completer, remarkably, I did actually finish it in time to give it to her when I saw her just after Christmas). There are several other patterns in here which I reckon are within my ability range, so I might be back to the library for this book again. Thumbs up.

Next up, David Sedaris - Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls. Does not really come under the eco, simple or frugal theme, this one (although there is a chapter about his obsession with picking up litter), but very funny. A friend introduced me to David Sedaris last year (not literally, although I'd love to meet him or go to one of his live readings) via his programmes on Radio 4. His wry, observational humour appeals to me. When I saw Let's explore Diabetes with Owls at the library I wondered whether his writing would work on the page as well as it does when he reads his books out loud. I certainly didn't chortle at all of it, but there were many passages that had me laughing out loud.

I'm a sucker for any 'escape to the country' type book, so when I spotted A Gull on the Roof, a slim volume written in the 1960s, I was surprised I hadn't stumbled over this series before. Written by Derek Tangye, a journalist, the series, of which AGotR is the first, tells the story of him and his wife Jeannie's move to Minack, Cornwall. Here, they began a new life far removed from their time schmoozing with celebrities in London (Jeannie worked at the Savoy). They took on a farm by the sea where they grew daffodils, other flowers, and new potatoes. Although well written, there was a little too much detail about the daffodil growing for me - it just didn't grab me enough. I've decided I prefer general small holding to flower growing in an 'escape to the country' book, and I took my time to get through this one. I won't be working my way through the rest of the series in a hurry, although I would probably borrow one of the sequels out if I happened to come across it.

Mindset appealed to me as a parent and teaching assistant, containing ideas on how to develop a growth mindset. It was case-study rich - I skipped many paragraphs and relied on the end of chapter resume boxes! The main thrust for me, was to be careful about the messages I deliver: they ought to be of the "you're a developing person and I'm interested in your development" rather than "you have permanent traits which I'm judging". Praise should be for strategies, effort or choices made, not for innate talent or intelligence, and constructive feedback should help a child understand how to fix something. I shall be photocopying some of the handy summary boxes for future reference.

How about you? Any good reads to beat the January blues?

* Scarf pattern, in case I want to use it again:

Cast on 43 stitches. Knit 1 row.

Then a ten row repeating pattern: 

Row 1: K1, P1, [K7, P1] to last st, K1.
Row 2 - 3: As Row 1.
Row 4: K3 [P5, K3] to end.
Row 5: K1, P3, [K3, P5] to last 7 sts, K3, P3, K1.
Row 6: K5, [P1, K7] to last 6 sts, P1, K5.
Rows 7-8: As Row 6 twice.
Row 9: As Row 5.
Row 10: As Row 4.

Continue until scarf measures approx 160cm, ending on row 10, knit 1 row, cast off.


  1. What wool and needle size did you use?

    1. I ignored the instructions in the book and used an Aldi double knitting type wool. This was supposed to need Size 5 needles but I could only get Size 6 needles in my town, so I used those. I would use the correct size needles if I did it again, as it did make for a slightly gappy knit.

  2. I have not read the David Sedaris book you mention. However, while I find him funny, he's a little over the edge for me sometimes. I might find the Gull on the Roof book interesting, though.

    1. I know what you mean about the over the edginess. Those were the parts of the book that did not make me laugh. I still think the laughs outweighed the awkward moments though.