The Zeiihbu Master

The Zeiihbu Master (Aerenden Book 3) by Kristen Taber has now been released.

Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Aerenden forever.
While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen’s young son, before Garon can use the boy’s power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.
Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan’s greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.
©2014 Kristen Taber (P)2014 Kristen Taber

Knitting Two At A Time

A friend of mine has asked me to make her a pair of mittens in her school colours, to match the beanie I made her a month or so ago. Earlier this year I finally finished my first pair of socks, which I had started in 2011. I didn’t find making socks difficult, but after I finished the first one, I got bored and it was literally years before I picked up the project again to finish it. I have the same problem any time I have to make two of something, socks, sleeves, mittens, etc. So I vowed to myself that I would learn how to knit two at a time, and this is the first project I’ve taken on since then that involved a pair of items.

After a bit of searching, I found this great tutorial.

This technique uses a single circular needle – there are also instructions out there for knitting two at a time using two circulars, but since I’m already comfortable with magic loop knitting, I specifically searched for instructions that used a single needle.

There’s one addition I’d make to the tutorial, based on the way I join to knit in the round. It took me years to feel comfortable knitting in the round because I could never get the join tight, and always ended up with a ladder between the first and last stitches. I finally found a suggestion somewhere on the web to cast on an extra stitch, and knit it together with the first stitch. After that, there was no stopping me.

So, to use this joining method with the knitting two at a time technique:
After casting on for the second item in the pair, slip the extra stitch to a locking or split-ring stitch marker, then continue to the second half of the first item in the pair. That way, when you get back to the second item, you’ll be able to slip the extra stitch to your needle and knit it together with the first stitch.

Rawr. I’m a monster (bonnet)

I found this totally adorable bonnet pattern (here) that I wanted to make for the Knitting Circle’s charity drive. Only problem was it required seaming – the bonnet’s sewn flat and then sewn together at the back, and the little spikes are knit separately and then sewn on. I hate seaming. It’s my least favourite part of knitting. So, I re-engineered the pattern.

The difference starts on row 26, the first bind off row.
26. Knit to last 8 stitches, turn the work
27. Knit to last 8 stitches, turn the work
28. Knit to last 12 stitches, turn the work
29. Knit to last 12 stitches, turn the work
30. Knit to last 16 stitches, turn the work
31. Knit to last 16 stitches, turn the work
32. Knit 8

Fold the work in half and bind off using Gartered Kitchener Stitch (garter version explained at the bottom of the page), or 3-needle Bind Off.

For the spikes:
Pick up and purl 12 stitches in two parallel rows along the center line of the bonnet.
Join to work in the round.
Continue with original instructions.

I worked the spikes on three double-pointed needles, two to hold the two lines of stitches, and a third as my active needle.
I also realized when I was nearly done with the first spike that I’d done it in stockinette, instead of reverse stockinette, but I was happy with how it looked and decided to keep it that way.
Finally, instead of braided ties, I used i-cord (there’s only one done in the picture).

Reuse

A couple of years ago I started knitting on circular needles almost exclusively. I had bought a set of KnitPicks interchangeable circulars and they changed my knitting life. The cord they use is lovely and flexible. It made using the magic loop method for small diameter circular knitting a delight. Add to that the fact that I have, more than once, accidentally stabbed myself in the mouth when knitting with double-pointed needles (In case you’re wondering, it’s during the switchover. I hold on to the spare with my teeth, and then as I go to grab it, I’ll sometimes end up jabbing it into my tongue or lip – I’m really smooth like that), and magic loop just seems safer. Later I also started using circulars for flat knitting. It’s especially useful on trips. If you drop a needle, you don’t have to go diving after it, it’s right there, attached. One of these days I’ll sort through my knitting supplies and give away all the needles I don’t use anymore. But I’m keeping one. I’ve discovered a new use for the long aluminum needles – they make great back scratchers!

Greed and other deadly sins

This is Lucy’s new sister, Georgie.

She joined the family back in October (she’s nearly half again as big as in that photo now).

One of the funniest things I’ve noticed about her is how she always wants what Lucy has. If Lucy’s on my bed, she wants to be on my bed; if Lucy’s getting a cuddle, she wants a cuddle; and if Lucy’s chewing on an antler, she wants that antler… even if she was chewing on one of her own for ten minutes before she realized that Lucy had one too.

Triple Shot

Triple Shot (Maggy Thorsen Book 7) by Sandra Balzo has just been released.

There’s a chill in the Wisconsin air, and it’s a shot in the arm – a triple espresso shot – to Uncommon Grounds, the Brookhills coffeehouse owned by Maggy Thorsen and real estate maven Sarah Kingston. Their new autumn drink is a huge success. But two estate agents have died lately, and Sarah herself is under investigation for irregularities at her job. Then a stench begins to percolate through the coffeehouse, and soon it’s clear that corpses – like other bad things – do indeed come in threes…

©2011 Sandra Balzo (P)2014 Sandra Balzo

The Gildonae Alliance

My latest audiobook is The Gildonae Alliance, the second Aerenden book, by Kristen Taber.

Several months after Meaghan’s return to Ærenden, the kingdom’s war has taken a turn for the worse. The Mardroch army hunts the new King and Queen, destroying villages in its wake. And Meaghan and Nick, training for battle in their remote section of wilderness, are far from safe. Danger hides in shadows and behind innocent faces. Allies become foes. Each day is a fight to survive. But in the end, only one threat matters. And it’s a threat they never see coming.

©2013 Kristen Taber (P)2014 Kristen Taber

A Charming Wish

The third book in the Magical Cures Mystery series has just been released; A Charming Wish by Tonya Kappes.

Bubble, Bubble…It seems shop owner and newly appointed Whispering Falls Village President June Heal has it all: Beauty, wits, bewitching powers…Sheriff Oscar Park. Life is good. Because life in Whispering Falls is magical. Cures and Trouble…But when a member of the community is found dead on the steps of A Charming Cure, June’s homeopathic cure shop, and her fingerprints show up at the scenes of local robberies, she is kicked off the village council and her powers fall under scrutiny. Until it’s uncovered who is wreaking havoc on the town…June’s magic is suspended. Magic Stirs…With the help of a rather obnoxious genie and Mr. Prince Charming, June’s Fairy-God cat, June is determined to figure out who is framing her. Time is of the essence when it becomes clear that the true villain is trying to get rid of her…permanently! And trouble doubles…Oscar Park will do anything to protect June even if that means giving up all of his magical powers…or worse, his life.

©2014 Tonya Kappes (P)2014 Tonya Kappes

Merry Christmas!

So far this morning, I’ve had a slab of Christmas cake for breakfast, lit a fire in the fireplace and rescued a small dog I’m watching for a friend from the yard next door after he wiggled through an apparently one-way hole in the fence. Hope your Christmases (or other holidays of choice) are as pleasant as mine is gearing up to be.