Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I have to put both covers on here, because fun fact: the novel was not published as "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." It was published in Sweden as "Men Who Hate Women." Honestly, a better title, but too harsh for us Americans, probably. Why put such an innocent title on a book that discusses rape, abuse and incest?
Where do I even begin with this one? I read this book as part of a project for my sociology senior seminar class, thinking that I could use it effectively in application of Marxist literary and sociological theory. I was NOT disappointed in that regard. Not only is it a great example of a popular contemporary novel, but it just... wow. There was just so many complexities in the novel, so many subplots and great scenes, I can't really do anything but praise it as a noteworthy piece of modern literature.

This was kind of my reaction the entire time I was reading it.
I mean, holy crap, you never saw a lot of the scenes in the book coming. That was what was so great about it. I could relate to the main characters somewhat. I'm thinking of how to describe the characters as effectively as I can, and all I can think of is the "good neutral evil" 9 tiered chart that apparently originated in D&D but is used for so much more now. I mean, it's definitely a good way to put it. It's just that the characters are so complex that they aren't pure good and evil. One of the protagonists is always skirting the law in order to get the truth, and the other protagonist is a good person but in some aspects is kind of a sexist jerk (if you've read the book you'll know who I'm talking about). The antagonists are also, just wow--some of them are pure evil, and the others have good intentions but, well, can be jerks as well.

I haven't read a mystery book in quite a while, but I remember now why I would read them occasionally. There were some parts of the book I had to read right through. And if you truly love a mystery, you will really love this because there are two mysteries--a financial, capitalist (white collar crime) mystery, and a nail-biting, violent crime aspect of the novel that will seriously shock you. Underneath all of the complexities of the characters and motivations, is a running theme of how wrong misogyny is and that hidden under the surface, women are still treated as wholly inferior today. You can relate it to the rape culture that is still perpetuated in American society--"oh, she was wearing provocative clothing; she was drunk; she was asking for it". Some people will tell you that this doesn't exist anymore. Unfortunately, this kind of stuff still happens to women every day. Throughout the entire novel, Larrson is screaming, "stop this inequality now!!" How awesome is that?!

Through his novel(s) about corruption and violence against women, Larrson cracked wide open all of those stereotypes and inequalities that perpetuate today. Through his believable and relatable characters, realistic motivations, and unbelievable plot, he crafted such a masterpiece. If you like mysteries or even if you don't like mysteries, you should read this book. You seriously won't regret it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What's in My Mailbox?

Hey folks,

I try to update this every week, but it's hard to do so when I feel like I'm being pulled in about five thousand directions by everything from work to internship to future planning. But, in the meantime, I have been getting some great packages and letters from people! My next blog entry will probably be about the squares I've received from everyone so far for the square exchange we had going on at DeviantArt. But I've gotten some pretty cool stuff in the mail lately, that I wanted to share with everyone.

Last week, my good friend Lizzy sent me a package! We had decided to do a chocolate trade with our squares, and not only did she send me chocolate and squares, but she also sent me two wonderful pairs of wool socks!!
The entire package! How she managed to fit it all in there, I have no idea!

Very pretty!

I got a really nice card that talked about what was in the package! She has really nice handwriting.

Woo, socks! They are really warm and comfy.
The "Melkesjokolade" bar is about twice to three times the size of a normal bar of chocolate here. It's definitely true that American chocolate can't hold up to non-American chocolate!

 There's a variety of wool and acrylic in this bunch of scraps. I've already started using the lime green stuff with no label.
All in all, I got a lot of cool stuff! It was a really pleasant surprise to get the yarn, the socks and the chocolate!!!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Speed Knitting: Cosplay Hat

Hello everyone! Today I'm going to talk about a cosplay hat I did over the weekend! My close friend and roommate is doing a group cosplay at a big anime convention this upcoming weekend. When she found out that she was doing the cosplay, she got really excited and started hurrying about, trying to get the things together for the cosplay that she was doing. She decided to ask me to knit the hat for the cosplay. Last weekend, I got to work and whipped it up over the weekend, so she would have it in time for the anime convention.

This is what the anime character looks like. He's from a visual yaoi novel called "DRAMAtical Murder." Because the visual novel (video game) is yaoi, that means the content is mature [18+]. So if you do decide to play the game, please be aware that there is mature sexual and violent content in it.

I personally know nothing about the game, but I was more than happy to make this for her. She gave me the chart for the fair-isle that is on the hat (which can be found here), and another close friend of mine helped me with the earflaps [I'd never made them before and needed some help]. Once I had made the earflaps, the hat was a breeze. The fair-isle, which looked simple to begin with, ended up being much easier than was expected. I started the hat on Friday and finished it on Sunday, which is actually a personal record for me in terms of hats. Then again, probably the main reason that this hat worked up so quickly was because there was no ribbing involved. Thank goodness. Ribbing looks really great, and I love the aesthetic appeal of a ribbed knit hat, but actually knitting it is a little frustrating. Wonderfully, there was no ribbing involved here!

Here are some pictures of the hat itself:

 The cords, required as part of the hat, were done by my friend in rope braid. The pom-poms and tassles I made after I had finished the body of the hat.

I also had my friend model the hat!
An awesome side view!

So in conclusion, when compared to the actual character, the hat looks something like this:
Although the costume is decidedly odd, who can resist the geometric bunnies on the hat? Answer: No one.

So now that this hat is finished, my friend can wear it at the convention and we're both happy campers. I'd happily do a cosplay hat like this again--it was fun to get out of my comfort zone in terms of earflaps and other new techniques.

David Tennant approves this project.
Until next time, my followers! I actually have another blog post in mind for the very near future! If I get the time, of course. Enjoy your week!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Important Announcement

This specific post is to better explain the following life event that I have scheduled for mid-June and hopefully answer FAQs and keep my friends and family in the know about all this.

Many of you probably don't know this, but I have a severe case of a potentially debilitating spinal condition called scoliosis. Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, happens when the normal spinal curve develops sideways. This can actually be life-threatening to lung function and can cause other health complications if the severe condition is left alone and the curvature is allowed to increase over a longer period of time.

There are three stages of this condition (usually found in children and adolescents); slight, which is generally monitored; moderate, which can be corrected with a brace; and severe, which can only be corrected by surgery.

In my case, it falls into the severe category, in which major spinal surgery is necessary. Surgery was recommended for my condition seven to eight years ago, when I was in high school. Unfortunately, due to my parent's separation and divorce, as well as college, I haven't been able to get the surgery that was recommended to me. I have seen specialists several times to monitor my condition and take x-rays every two to three years or so. What they have been seeing is, unfortunately, that the degree of which my spine is bent is increasing and will continue to increase at about a rate of one to two degrees a year until the surgery is performed.

I recently saw a specialist again for a follow-up on my condition and to seriously discuss the surgery. At this appointment, he told me that whether I decide to get the surgery now, five years from now, or twenty years from now, it will be necessary eventually (implying that twenty years down the road this condition could become life-threatening) and the older I got the more difficult the surgery would be to perform.

I want to say here that currently, my scoliosis is not debilitating. With the condition it is now, I get occasional back pain and muscle spasms. It rarely effects my day-to-day activities, including exercise. The only thing that I cannot do physically right now is ice skating and/or rollerblading.

Seeing that this is inevitable, I have decided to schedule this surgery this summer, four months from now in the second week of June. I will soon be a college graduate and need to be in the workforce, which would eliminate any possibility of getting the surgery because of how lengthy the procedure and the recovery time is.

The length of recovery and the riskiness of the procedure is what has been drawing me away from it for several years (as well as other circumstances). Talking with specialists, I know the basic jist of what is going to happen, how long it is going to take, etc.

What is going to be done to correct my deformed spine is that they will be physically correcting the curvature and to make sure that the correction stays so, will not only be fusing vertebrae, but placing metal rods into the fused vertebrae to make sure that these stay fused and straight. Because every person's scoliosis curvature is different, this specific procedure generally takes minimally five hours, but it could really take a lot longer than that. I was told that I would be in the hospital for five to seven days, and be recovered to work between one to two months.Yes, there are risks of complication, including paralysis. However, the specialist assured me that due to increases in technology, there are many things that they do to make sure I am safe and to decrease any complications.

Obviously, a lot of thought went into getting the surgery at this particular time. I know that once I get into the workforce, a lot of workplaces will not allow a month or more of sick leave to get this surgery done. So my plan is to graduate, get this surgery done, and then throw myself into a career. I would rather get this done with now than wait until later in my life and be at a greater risk of complication.

Please Note: I am confident that I will be able to get this surgery in June, but my living situation after graduation is up in the air right now. If it turns out that I will not be able to get the surgery because of this, I will cancel the procedure and let everyone know.

I want both my offline and online friends and family to know all of this because this surgery and what I'm planning around it is important to me and I want all of you to know what is going on. Although this sounds scary, it's necessary and I am sure I will ultimately walk out of this okay and better than I was before. That's the intention.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Socks and Snow Ball!

So I've been kind of eaten up by school work and future planning--I graduate in just a few months, and I have an important event planned afterwards (there will be a post about this I promise, within the next week or so), so I haven't been making time to blog. It's been busy and I've been going through a lot of stress because of the near future.

One of the things besides my awesome friends that has been keeping me sane is knitting, as always. Right now I'm in the middle of making a pair of socks! Socks are something I've never tried, but I've wanted to for a long time. I actually started a pair about a year but then decided to use the yarn for something else. My inspiration to start socks again was really pushed by me drooling on a sock yarn on KnitPicks. Knitpicks is an awesome site with tons of great yarn and supplies at really cheap prices. I always go on there to check for a sale. I had been thinking about socks anyway, when I went on and saw a really cool colorway (this particular colorway is called "Juicebox") and bought it with the intention of making socks.

This was after my friend Liz told me she was making some scrap socks and decided to give me a pair. She showed me progress and this is what they looked like when they were done:

They look great! So I was inspired to make my own in part from this. I bought the yarn and KnitPicks delivered it promptly as always. I found out today when looking it up again that the real reason that particular color was on sale was because it was in the middle of being discontinued!! Here's hoping that I don't run out of yarn in the middle of making my second sock! That would suck!

This was before I wound the yarn; when I first pulled it out and started knitting, I thought it was too pretty to ball up. Unfortunately, yarn in a hank like this will get tangled really quickly, so I was forced to ball it very shortly after starting the ribbing on this first sock. I finished the ribbing on the first sock, so I was very happy when that was finished. Normally, I don't like ribbing but this wasn't difficult or extremely tedious. Now I'm on the heel and as of last night, this is the progress I have made:

The flash portrays these colors very well. I'm not liking the sheer amount of orange and pink that is showing up in this colorway but overall I do like how bright and cheery the colors are turning out. I also like the red and lime/yellow stripes that winds around the sock. When these socks are finished, I'll do an entire post on it. Also, I'm playing a video game that once I finish, will get a proper review on this blog.


Not related to knitting, recently I danced the night away by attending my FOURTH and unfortunately last Snow Ball dance. A bit of context for most of you reading my blog--The Snow Ball is a dance similar to a high school prom that my college puts on at the beginning of every spring semester. I've attended every year I've been attending college.

Here are some pictures of Snow Ball over the years!



Unfortunately, I couldn't find a photo from 2012 that didn't feature exclusively myself and my ex-boyfriend, so I'm forced to leave that year out. All in all, I've had a lot of fun these past four years dressing up with my friends; some of which I've been lucky to know for all four years, some less than a year but I value all of their friendship equally. They've all been very good to me, and Snow Ball has always been a time for me to enjoy dancing and friendship with some of the best people I've known over the years.

Until next week, everyone! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Crafting History (Or How I Got Addicted to Knitting)

A good online friend of mine, Lizzy, recently did a blog post on her blog about her history of creativity and overall craftiness. So I decided to take a leaf out of her book, and do one of mine. Unfortunately, it's not as half as exciting as hers, but I'll do my best. It's also an opportunity for the watchers of this blog to get to know me a little better, I suppose?

I've only been knitting two years. I've been a writer for far longer, but I haven't written much in about three years. I do write in an academic sense, and also professionally (I was a member of my college's newspaper for two years of my college career).

So here's my story about how I got addicted to knitting and crochet. When I was a freshman in college, a good friend of mine thought it was a cool idea to knit together and learn. However, we both grew bored of it quickly and dropped our projects.

Several months after that happened, I began staying frequently with my boyfriend at the time. As such, I developed a close friendship with his mom, and although she was a crocheter, she taught me the basics of knitting. She also taught me how to hem pants by hand and to crochet granny squares. Later on, I bought a book about crocheting and taught the rest of the crocheting techniques I know to myself. Unfortunately, I've lost touch with her, but she was the spark that really ignited my inner creativity, and I've been knitting ever since. Most of the first things I knitted were for my boyfriend at the time and I knitted a lot of slippers at the beginning of my adventures as a knitter.

Since then, I've knitted hats, a pair of gloves, and more slippers. I also knitted a pair of gloves, an entire sweater (my biggest feat yet! not without error, though) and a stuffed animal (a dalek)!

I'm definitely too lazy tonight to post pictures, but if you want to see what I've been creating as a growing yarnster, check out my DeviantArt or, if you want to buy something, check out my Etsy... Yes I do have one! It's a bit empty at the moment but surprisingly I've legitimately made sales off of there and hope to make more, especially with my upcoming graduation and move.

I have more ideas for hats of my own personal design; these ideas will turn into fan-art hats, more than likely. I like doing fan art knitted work because a lot of people have a show or movie they're obsessed with, and personalized with that obsession makes it more special and also is great for cosplaying!

The one thing I will hopefully make someday is a Star Trek sweater uniform, probably based off of Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Voyager. Star Trek is my jam, seriously. Would cost a lot in yarn, though, so maybe someday when I have a lot of money, I'd love to do that and wear it at cons or for a quick Halloween costume. Most recently, I've been binging on Star Trek: Voyager and it's been great (I also knit and crochet while I watch any sort of television so I can get commissions and gifts done while relaxing). It's a great show and although it's a bit campy, it's the best for downtime and doing funny commentary with my long distance bubby, my twin sister, while watching.

Have a great week, everybody!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Yarn Stash and More!

Hey everyone! I could not for the life of me figure out what to blog about, mostly because I've been behind in my reading and have been shuffled around several different places in the past few weeks. Now though, I'm back at school and facing my last semester as a graduating senior. I have some things I'm looking forward to in the next couple weeks, which I'll post if I feel necessary to.

Before I start blabbing about yarn, I'd like to talk a bit about my online presence and whatnot. Here's the thing; I do have a facebook, but I don't post on it very often. Why? Well, I suppose it's because it's really easy to 'like' someone's status and keep up with them via social networking, and I'm not going to lie, if I didn't have texting and online chat I wouldn't talk to my sister and the friends I have made online nearly as much. I appreciate these conveniences and the friendships I have made as a part of them. But I don't post on facebook too much because I prefer face-to-face interaction. A 'like' is the equivalent of acknowledgement and possibly approval (but maybe not). If I'm not in an exclusively long-distance or online relationship with you, message me and ask me for coffee or hang out time instead! And the longer we can interact with each other rather than 'liking' statuses, the better. This is not to say I hate facebook. I don't. I guess this is just me saying I'd really like to spend less time on it and more time interacting with people. A lofty ideal, but a good one and one I don't always follow. It's always something I can improve on, though.

My apologies for the unrelated content.

Now, to the stash-cave, Batman! (Bad knitting jokes are bad)

For those of you who are non-knitters or crocheters, a stash is a collection of yarn that grows over time. I guess you could compare it to a collection that grows over time, but it's a little different. You see, a yarnster's collection of yarn grows because of scrap yarn; yarn that's left over after a project. What happens to me is I might run out of yarn just before I'm finished with a project and be left with a stray skein, or I will be gifted yarn and not use it, or someone will request or buy something in colors I don't have, so I'll be forced to buy more in those colors.

So this is my stash:

I've been knitting for around two years, and although my stash has grew quite a bit over the years, it's stayed mostly the same, give or take. I'm going to explain a little bit about where I got the yarn and whatnot. There is some yarn missing here, but it's only for my WIP blanket and will probably be used promptly.

This section is my cotton yarn. Some of it is scrap, and some of it is full skeins; I use most of it to make dishcloths or washcloths. I've used some of the yarn to make squares for my crafting group's blanket exchange event, but usually just dishcloths. There aren't very many brands of cotton yarn here in the U.S., so these are either Peaches and Cream or Lily Sugar and Cream yarn... Can you tell I like variegated yarn?

Here's another section of the yarn pile. In the middle is some stuff I got from knitpicks for one of the hats I'm planning. Some stuff on the left is some unlabeled yarn I won as a prize from a knitting contest on DeviantArt that I haven't gotten around to using. The unlabeled blue yarn next to the green chunky is actually Viking wool yarn; very good quality. So good quality that it actually broke off a couple of times while I was using it, it was spun so loosely!

 In this section is some Vanna (White?) yarn, it's very soft acrylic and was a birthday gift from my step-grandmother last year. I hope to use it sometime soon. The WIP on the right is a commissioned hat that someone ordered while I was working at a manufacturing plant recently.
Lastly, here is a larger area of yarn. The grey next to the needles (the two smaller skeins) is cotton sock yarn, I think. Then the big pile of black yarn is wool! I don't own a lot of wool, but the reason that black yarn is in a pile like that is because I was using that yarn to make a gauntlet and a pair of super warm gloves! Good stuff. The rest is acrylic, except for the light yellow, which I believe is polyurathane yarn.

So there you have it, that's my collection of yarn at this time. A bit boring, but it was fun dumping it all on the bed, for sure. I'll keep you posted on my yarn (and regular) adventures in the meantime.
Have a great week!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Projects and a New Camera!

 Hello everybody!!!

So my crafting friend Carolyn (her blog is here, it's pretty awesome, I suggest you check it out), has done a blog post in the past called "what's on the needles". I just wanted to do that to try and see if it works out, plus I'm excited about some projects I have in the works as of late.

This right here is my first finished project of 2014! It was a very quick knit for my mom, who has been in the hospital for a couple days with a serious infection in her mouth. I got the chance to visit her in the hospital today, and last night and earlier this afternoon whipped this up in anticipation of a possible visit. The yarn itself was pretty nice to work with, and the photo (although taken with my new digital camera) doesn't do the color full justice. Needless to say, she was very happy with it.

Shhh!! This is a secret project. When it's finished and the recipient has gotten it, I'll upload the whole thing and the story behind it. I just wanted to post the progress behind this because the quality is unbelievable (more raving on the camera later). Do the stripes look okay? It was originally going to be all one color (the color my thumb is touching), but I really felt that it needed a stripe to soften the brightness of the bottom yellow. Besides, I need a little of the yellow left for another hat project I'm planning!

This picture is actually just me showing off the quality of the camera, but this is actually a square for my crafting group's square exchange event! This is a monogram square, which I will crochet around until it's the size needed for the exchange. For the monograms, I've been using dishcloth patterns! They work great. You can find the patterns for all the letters of the alphabet here.

Finally, I'm going to unveil my biggest project so far; my very first blanket! I did it on a whim, mostly because I had a lot (although I see 'a lot' differently than I should, so I ran out) of vintage yarn that I wanted to use up. So it was essentially a stashbuster project. The blanket is 26 inches wide; I haven't measured the length yet but I think it's a foot long...? We'll see. I did run out of the burnt orange, so I have no idea what color will work best to finish the thing. As you can see, I started a light brown, and then will probably add on a dark brown, so maybe that will work for a "scrap" ish blanket.

Basically the same picture, but this one shows the orange more and what I was attempting to do with it.

 As you can tell, I have A LOT of time on my hands, mostly because of the holidays and whatnot. I have been working, but I usually bring my crocheting with me or work during the day. The only other obligation I have is my thesis, which I actually have been working on--hopefully it won't bore, but I'm going to do a huge blog post about it when it's finished.

Now to the camera!!! I got a new digital camera yesterday. It's a Canon PowerShot A2500, and it's

what I've been taking all these photos with. It's very simple to use and the fact that the kit came with a very nice microsd card, case, and wrist strap makes it even better. It was $90 for the kit with warranty, and though it isn't one of the better digital cameras, it does exactly what I want it to, and has the sd card so I can easily upload whenever I want to. I think it's a good investment at least, mostly because I know money will be extremely tight after I graduate. Learning how to adult will be hard, for sure.

Well there you have it, that's what I've been doing with my time as of late. Hopefully I'll finish some books and put up some reviews. I'm reading Catch-22 right now; when I'm finished reading that, I'll probably post a review.

Happy crafting and stay warm, everybody!

Friday, January 3, 2014


For those of you who don't know who I am or have just stumbled upon this blog, my name is Tiffany and I'm 21 years old. I am about to graduate college, and my two favorite hobbies are reading and knitting. So this blog has been created for the sole purpose of writing to my heart's content about my two passions, as well as comment about different things that really catch my fancy. My other blog, was kind of a flop in my eyes, because I got caught up by college and was (and still am, in different aspects) stressed out about a lot of things. I hope that this blog can be a place for me to destress and to really talk about the things I love.

In lieu of a proper introduction, here is a photo of me with one of my projects: EXTERMINATE!! (pattern isn't mine). I also don't take a lot of pictures of myself, but I'll try harder maybe for this blog.

I'm also toying around with the idea of using this blog to post about really important life events, instead of facebook, because at the core of it, I'm a writer and I really write best about the things that I care about and that impact my life and the lives of others.

Some more about me: The degree I will be getting in the spring is a Bachelor's of Arts in Sociology and English Literature. I might have mentioned this before, but I LOVE BOOKS AND I LOVE READING. So much reading, so little time. I have a basic knowledge of the Arabic alphabet and language. I also love getting mail, hence one of my old hobbies of Postcrossing (an online postcard exchange project) before it got taken over by my love of craftiness and making things. Want to know more about Postcrossing? Find out how awesome it is here.

I've been knitting for almost two years, and have honed my skill to the point where I've started making my own patterns. My favorite item to make are hats, so you'll probably be seeing a lot about hats in the near future! I've also made a sweater in the past.
Also one of my proudest moments as a crafty person. Came out great!
So to wrap it all up, this blog will be about my adventures in the world of patterning, reading, and you know, just life. And stuff. I think most of all it's going to be about not stifling myself when writing, because I have a bad habit of being super critical of what I'm writing. So be excited!

Stay warm, everybody!