Monday, June 22, 2015

Yarns from the Old Kingdom

My latest two art yarn creations come with another book / audio book recommendation. I've been listening to Tim Curry reading the first three books of the Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix, which I liked a lot. Tim Curry did a fantastic job, I especially enjoyed his voice acting for a creature called Mogget, but more on that later.

As with the books by Tamora Pierce I recently wrote about, these books are actually for a younger audience, and they feature young people on the verge of adulthood, their coming of age, and lots of adventures. What I love most about them are once again the female protagonists, their male supporters / fellow protagonists, and the not so stereotypical gender roles. And again, there is not only a token woman / token female warrior who is the exception to the rule, but there are several different women who fight, rule, go on adventures, have powers, show courage and so on. Girls are mentioned in passing to have been trained in sword fighting or hunting, so it seems to be common, which is still rare in fantasy.
The books are about a family of so-called Abhorsens, a kind of reverse necromancers: it's their job to make sure the dead stay dead, and to send the undead back into Death. Death is a kind of landscape for the Abhorsen, they can walk in Death, fight the undead or the evil necromancers there, and do so with the use of seven bells: Ranna, the Sleeper. Mosrael, the Waker. Kibeth, the Walker. Dyrim, the Speaker. Belgaer, the Thinker. Saraneth, the Binder. And Astarael, the Weeper.
The books are set in a parallel universe, the Old Kingdom being a place where magic is very much real and alive, and sharing a direct border with an alternate early 20th century England. The first book is about Sabriel:


Sabriel, daughter of the Abhorsen and herself the Abhorsen in waiting, is informed that her father is trapped in Death and needs to be saved. She sets out with the Abhorsen's sword and seven bells, starting in "our" world and crossing the wall to the Old Kingdom. She faces many dangers and has to fight for her life and the life of others, is joined by new friends and allies, and learns to fly a so called Paperwing - a kind of magic plane made from laminated paper (and magic). To use magic she can use so-called charter marks, which can be drawn or whistled, which is why I put musical note charms in the yarn. I also added a sword, seven bells which tinkle ever so softly, a key (which is the symbol of the Abhorsens), a cat (more on that in a minute), skulls, and a crown (can't tell you about that without spoilers). The yarn itself is mostly blue, with some black and white, as the traditional colours of the Abhorsens are blue and silver, and the Abhorsens all seem to have very black hair.


When Sabriel arrives at the house of the Abhorsens, she is greeted by a creature which usually takes the form of an arrogant cat. He is called Mogget, and he is lazy, sneering, likes fish, can be dangerous, and it's not really clear where his loyalties lie. Very interesting, and very well performed by Tim Curry - and he appears in the other books of the series, too, which made me very happy. And now you know why I put a cat charm in the Sabriel art yarn.
Mogget appears as a white cat with a read leather collar, with a miniature bell on it. So you can see immediately how I chose colours and add-ins for this yarn - I used red silk because leather wouldn't be flexible enough, and I put in more than one bell because of aesthetical reasons.

These yarns are not yet in the shop, but I hope to list them soon. In the meantime, check out the books ;-) The first is Sabriel, the second Lirael, and the third is Abhorsen. There is also a prequel (Clariel) which I can't tell you too much about, as I am still in the middle of it. I wondered whether it would be any good as the blurb seemed a little disappointing after the other three books, but it's very good so far!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Creatures from the Sea (and a Dalek)

Oh, it's been ages since I wrote the last post... I've been very busy working freelance for a market research firm who needed me for several overlapping projects at once, so there was absolutely no time for spinning. It has been quite a stressful time, but it was also very empowering because I realized I could indeed cope with that amount of work and stress, and because my work was much appreciated. So, yay! :-)

I spent my free time knitting and crocheting, as it really helped me to calm down and relax. I will become something like an aunt in October ("something like" because we're not related exactly, I'm talking about a kind of family by choice) and I started knitting lots of amigurumi. It all started with a Kraken, then I made a Seahorse, and I stuck with ocean creatures and made a rainbow jellyfish mobile and some narwhales. Oh, and I also made some jellyfish poi for myself, and I knit a scarf for my sister in law and started a scarf for my dad. I don't want to overload this post, so I'll show you the amigurumi today and might post the scarves some other time - if you're curious you can look on my Ravelry project page before then ;-)

The Fiercely Cute Kraken

When a family with two kids visited us in March, they brought rattling, crocheted octopus toys. I asked my friends whether I should make one for their child in progress, and when I did I even put a rattling device in, too. There is no pattern for this Kraken, as I made it up as I went.

The Seahorse Friend

 I had the pattern for this seahorse in my Ravelry favourites for months, and now I finally got around to making one! It was a fun knit, though a little fiddly at the beginning and end, and I learned new things. I love how I can do so with each new knitting pattern.

The Jellyfish Mobile

A full rainbow of cute jellyfish! For the photo I hung them from a simple stick from the garden, but I want to buy a circlet thing to hang them from. I wanted to use a specific pattern, but it was no longer available when I decided to buy it, and then someone sent me a link to a YouTube video on Twitter from which I took some basics - and then I made the rest up, and did some variations. If I find the time I might write up a pattern, but if I do, it will take a while.

The Narwhales 

I looked for more ocean creatures on Ravelry and found this cute pattern. I made two because I didn't have yarn in the colour of choice when I started, but I desperately wanted to try the pattern. For the second one, I decided on smaller needles, and here I also did the wings from the pattern, which I chose not to make for the first one. Again, it was fun to knit, again a little fiddly (the wings took ages! But it got better after the first two feathers), and again I learned a lot.

I also meant to show you a Dalek I made ages ago, but then forgot all about it - it's not from the ocean, but it has the right colour to fit in this post ;-) So here it is!

The Blue Dalek

Easier than I thought! I improvised with the attachments, the rest is from this pattern. This is not for the baby, of course, but I gave it to my sister in law who is a huge Doctor Who fan.

I also worked on some new yarns for the past few days, and will continue to do so until the next market research project. I often post work in progress photos on Facebook and sometimes Twitter, so if you're curious you're very welcome to follow! :-)
I will probably show some of the new yarns here on the blog, too. Especially the ones which come with a book recommendation - stay tuned! :-)


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