Friday Gauge Check: February Already?

Friday means it’s time for our Friday rituals, the ceremonies of escorting one week out and preparing the next one. Which, around here, is the Gauge Check, where I take a look at my week and figure out where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Sometimes there are goals, sometimes I just talk about what’s going on in my life and my crafting. You are all welcome to join in in the comments.

I know I say this a lot, but wow, January went by in a hurry.  February, though, seems to be moving much more slowly, which will hopefully give me a chance to accomplish some things on my mental to-do list, including a number of posts here that are not just recaps of my week.  One of them, I’m already doing research on, so I anticipate getting to that next week.

One reason I’ve been so quiet lately is that my switch to part time hasn’t been approved yet.  Now, to get a schedule switch approved, it has to be submitted through the intranet and get signed off on by your supervisor, the site workforce management, and then global workforce.  This… is apparently a bit of a lengthy process.  I turned in my notice on January 14th, met with my supervisor’s boss the evening of the 16th, and submitted my schedule request for Monday and Wednesday the same day.  I heard nothing back Tuesday and Wednesday, came into work on Sunday, and discovered that it had been denied.  Site workforce wanted me to work “Saturday and one other day.”  Which, whatever, so I submitted a second schedule change for Saturday and Wednesday – our team meeting day.  No response, all week.  I came in the following Saturday and discovered that it had again been denied.  This time the note specified that I needed to work Saturday and Monday.

I almost walked out, at that point.

The only thing that kept me was the fact that my supervisor was just as angry as I was.  She also was proactive, chasing down the member of the workforce team who approves schedule changes to make sure that he approved it before my week was up.  Tomorrow I go back to work, and if Global hasn’t approved it, I’m turning in my badge the same day.

But enough about work.  I’m sure what you really want to hear about is crafting!

Becca won my “favorite person of the week” award by sending me her neglected niddy-noddy. Rest assured that it has a good home with me, and I will give it lots of love.

A shot of my craft space from the door.I also acquired a corkboard (actually a corkboard/white board combination), two sets of needle tips in an appropriate size for my cowl (one the size called for in the pattern, and one the next size up), and a purple skein of Cascade Lana d’Oro.  (It was the only skein left in that colorway.  I couldn’t leave it there all by itself, now could I?)

Meanwhile, I also decided that my craft room wasn’t ever going to get to the point where I felt like it was clean enough to show off, so I just gave up and took some pictures.   This is from the doorway.

The left wall is entirely pegboard, the right wall is largely lined with tubs containing my yarn and fiber stash.  Alvida, my Kromski Sonata, is tucked into the corner immediately to your right, not visible from this angle.  Also not visible from this angle is the sweater machine, which is sitting next to the rigid heddle loom at bottom left.  My fabric stash is in the wire baskets to the left of the table.

This week I worked on about half of what I was planning to, which is about par for the course.  I finished the vanilla sock and turned the pair over to Jack, who immediately pronounced them his new favorite pair.  (This is always his response to handknits – that’s why I keep making things for him.)  Of course, anticipating the completion, I volunteered for another pair of test knit socks and cast those on.  I’m using two balls of Patons Stretch Sock in the creatively named colorway 31013, which is kind of a mottled tan/brown/white that doesn’t quite pool, flash, or stripe.  They were picked up on clearance at Michael’s, actually at the same sale where I picked up the Patons Kroy Sock Stripes that I used on the vanilla socks.  I’m not crazy about how the pattern is knitting up, but Jack loves them, so I’m giving them a little more time to grow on me.

I’m into the decreases on the hat I’m test knitting, and the only reason I haven’t finished it is because I didn’t actually pull it out over the last two days.  That one is in Cascade Superwash Sport in a beautiful dark green.  I didn’t work on the SpillyJane mitt, but I did put some rounds in on the first Turn a Square mitt.

Also, I blocked the Sneaky Mountain shawl.  The way light was working in my apartment this afternoon, I didn’t get a good picture of the whole thing.  I did, however, get this one.

Consider this a sneak preview?

I managed to finish four books this week.  Two were fantastic and come highly recommended, one was okay if a little dull, and one… was not.

My car audiobook has been Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater.  She was at Wordstock last fall, and I found her to be charming and personable, so I decided to give her book a chance.

This turned out to be a suboptimal idea.

Shiver is a paranormal romance about a werewolf who changes when the temperature drops and the girl who loves him.  (Strikethrough notwithstanding, that’s a fair approximation of the premise.)  The werewolf lives in Minnesota, which has got to be the worst possible place for a temperature-sensitive werewolf to live, right?  I mean, there’s a throwaway line about how some of them tried living somewhere with a warm climate, and they were betrayed by central air (I kid you not), but there are LOTS of places with four seasons where winter doesn’t last as long as it does in Minnesota.  Portland, for example.  Northern California.  Pennsylvania.  But I’ve been willing to suspend my disbelief further than that for a good story, so I gave it a shot.

There is a good story buried at the heart of the book.  The problem is, that’s not the story that’s being told.  There are interesting, engaging characters, with complicated interior lives… the female lead just doesn’t happen to be one of them.  I like characters I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to like – Grace’s parents, for example – and I just don’t understand what Sam sees in Grace.

The pacing is abominably slow, with occasional bursts of action that are never as dangerous as they could be.  Scenes building the relationship, which isn’t really based on anything but literal animal attraction, are much longer and more frequent than they need to be.  The climax and the falling action is swift (which wouldn’t be bad, except that it’s shockingly fast compared to the rest of the book) and grating, and the denouement left me going, “Wait, what?”  (Not that it was hard to follow or unexpected, it was just… sudden.  Like the author was trying to be sneaky all of a sudden.)  The last issue I have is with the prose itself, which is trying a little too hard to be witty and mostly just ends up being incredibly purple.  The author didn’t quite figure out which darlings she needed to murder.

Honestly, I’ve heard that it’s been optioned for a movie, and it will probably make a fantastic summer popcorn flick, because the never-ending courtship scenes can be turned into a handful of montages, interspersed with action happening elsewhere.  (Also: scenes taking place in the middle of the Minnesota woods will be delightful in July, don’t you think?)

The second book I finished this week (chronologically I finished it first) was from another Wordstock author, Justine Larbalestier.  (The names this week are really impressive.)  Justine is Scott Westerfeld’s wife, and if you liked the Uglies series, you’ll probably enjoy How to Ditch Your Fairy.  The book and the series don’t really have anything in common, but the way her characters talk reminded me of his – but in the best way possible.  The two of them are drinking from the same fount of awesome.  Fairy is a slice-of-life high school story set in a modern-day magical world.  It’s simultaneously exactly like and utterly unlike your own high school experience, and it’s delightful.  The book itself is a super-fast read – I whipped through it in an afternoon – but definitely worth picking up.

Now, I just got finished telling you that I thought Shiver had a ridiculous premise, and I was right – so here I have to turn around and admit that I dismissed the fourth book I finished this week out of hand when I first heard about it.

Ally Condie’s Matched has the opportunity to be an absolutely terrible book.  It’s a dystopian future where every aspect of life, from what you eat to who you marry, is controlled by The Society.  An error leads one mostly happy girl to question everything, all for the love of some guy.  It seemed like an eye-rolling sort of premise, the kind that makes me want to fling books across the room in a feminist rage.

But.

Guys, she actually carries it off.  Cassia is an interesting, three-dimensional character with a rich inner life and solidly developed relationships, and it’s not just The Love Of Her Man that makes her question the way things are.  Even better, unlike a lot of YA protagonists, Cassia has actual relationships with her parents and friends – she has something to lose, which makes her struggle meaningful.  Even better, the Standard YA Love Triangle is actually well-done; Cassia is believably torn between these two boys, and both of them are deserving of her, and both of them respect the other.  Xander is a genuinely good person, and none of them deserve the serious spoilers that happen.  Me?  I’m rooting for a poly triad.  It could happen.

I opened the book yesterday morning at the library, figuring I’d give it a chapter or two to sell itself – and I spent a good two hours reading before I made myself leave.  I finished the rest of it this afternoon, and I need to get back to the library as soon as possible to grab the second book.

(The other book I finished, It’s a Purl Thing, was a mediocre YA novel that I picked up because it was about knitting.  It took me three weeks to get through it.)

So that’s been my week!  Check your gauge in the comments, or let me know what your best literary find of the moment is!  (Or both.  I’m always looking for good books.)

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~ by Amber on February 3, 2012.

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