Knitting

Knitting Haul #1: LIHAO and Takumi Bamboo Needles

I am just starting to get into knitting as well and I decided to buy a relatively cheap set of bamboo knitting needles. I found this LIHAO Bamboo set on Amazon for around $16.99 CAD. Included are 18 pairs of needles ranging from 2.0mm to 10.0mm. It also came with a knitting gauge which is super helpful!

From a quick look over, there are no obvious defects. The reviews say that they are perfect for beginners so we’ll see! I’m a bit worried in that most of the patterns I’m seeing that are interesting call for circular needles but maybe I’ll slowly work myself up to that first.

I also bought these Takumi Bamboo Needles. They’re 5.0mm and around 10″ long. They are very light and I did try doing a basic knit and purl stitch with them. Let me tell you, going from 12.0mm to 5.0mm needles is a big difference as a beginner!

Anime

Kuzu no Honkai: On Using Others

Disclaimer: There is spoilers for the entire anime and (presumably) manga. Mentions of mature themes such as sexual content is also included.

Now that classes have ended and I’m unemployed, I am taking it a little bit slow with my free time. I recently started on working a new afghan square for the month of July and watching various movies and TV shows on Amazon Prime. I stumbled across Kuzu no Honkai and while the synopsis made me skeptical, I decided to give it a shot.

Kuzu no Honkai is about two high schoolers. Mugi and Hanabi, who are in love with their teachers. It’s obvious they have zero chance with their love interests because they are interested in each other. Instead, they use each other to fill the void that their teachers wouldn’t be able to provide for them.

This made me think that it would be your stereotypical student-teacher love square anime. Somehow, the first episode hooked me in. I was caught off guard by how explicit Mugi and Hanabi’s relationship is portrayed. One of their first scenes together is them making out passionately at the side of their school after witnessing their teachers flirting with each other.

The first thing that came to my mind was the similarity with the movie, In the Mood for Love, where the main characters, Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow, pretend to be each other’s spouses because their spouses are cheating on them with each other. However, the similarities end there. Mrs. Chan and Mr. Chow initially partake in this role play because they want to understand how an affair between their spouses could have possibly happened. Mugi and Hanabi just want to live in a little fantasy where their feelings are reciprocated by their love interests.

It’s clear to the both of them that they are using each other for their own selfish desires, giving each other what their teachers couldn’t. In fact, it’s mutually agreed upon. However, they aren’t the only ones who are using others for their own benefit.

Mugi’s object of affection, Akane, also uses others. Her identity is based upon being promiscuous and living off the desire of men and envy of women. Each fling she has makes her feel alive but they never really make an impact on her where it matters most. She uses these men to simply fulfill her own sense of worth and cement her role that she had made for herself. In the end, these men fill up a void in her but never to the brim.

Akane even goes to the length of playing with Hanabi’s emotions through seducing Kanai, Hanabi’s love interest. It’s even revealed that Akane had been calculating towards this since the first episode.

Mugi isn’t faultless either for he spends a day in a hotel with the woman he lost his virginity to. Since Hanabi is a virgin, he was not comfortable going any further with her. However, he was still craving that lust he has from their interactions and as a result, he turns to another woman. After that, he even accepts a date with a childhood friend that is desperately in love with him but who he doesn’t care for on the same level.

On the other hand, Hanabi also strays from her relationship with Mugi when he starts being distant and denies consummating their relationship. She turns to her friend Ecchan and although Hanabi is mostly straight, she gives into her desires and sleeps with Ecchan. Her reasoning is that since her relationship with Mugi had no real meaning, that this too would have no meaning either. Although Hanabi doesn’t see her love interest in Ecchan, she still uses Ecchan when she is craving the physical intimacy that Mugi doesn’t give her.

The feeling is reciprocal between Hanabi and Ecchan. Ecchan knows in her heart that Hanabi would never return her feelings of love but she takes advantage of Hanabi’s vulnerability to achieve her own selfish desires. In these moments between the two of them, Ecchan can pretend that their sexual relationship is a substitute for Hanabi loving her.

Ecchan isn’t the only one Hanabi tries to fool around with. Hanabi attempts to seduce one of Akane’s lovers in an attempt to mimic Akane but she ultimately fails. Hanabi mistakenly realizes that this is because Akane has such high self worth which makes people drawn to her.

In fact, this is something that all these characters have in common with each other. Affairs usually come out from a feeling of insecurity, which each of these characters suffer from. Akane is insecure in her own self worth and turns to others to determine and reaffirm it for her in the form of sexual attention. Hanabi, Mugi, and Ecchan use each other to satisfy their longings for others. They all seek external validation when they cannot validate themselves.

Surprisingly, the only character in the series that realizes this before all of them (and even then, I’m not quite sure the realization dawns upon them all), is Mugi’s childhood friend Noriko. When she comes to terms that Mugi cannot reciprocate her feelings, she turns inward to herself and is determined to make her own self happy. The reason why this is so surprising is because her entire identity revolves around Mugi for pretty much her entire life. She is painted as a fragile doll who has had her share fair of manipulation but she still manages to move on with her life after rejection.

The line that Noriko says in the above picture: “It means that the danish you get at the school store yourself can still taste good” initially confused me. It could be because of the awkward and wordy translation but basically what Noriko is saying is that you could still find enjoyment in other things even when faced with rejection.

This serves as a counterpoint against Digibro’s criticism in that these kids only seem to have their love lives going for them. I won’t deny that it’s true (Hanabi has no friends outside of the people she’s sleeping with, Akane catches men partly out of boredom, and Mugi and Ecchan don’t seem to do much either). However, this is exactly why their love lives became such a big deal and why it felt like the world was ending to them. They had nothing else sustaining them other than their relationships. Their quest for external validation was fruitless and they never felt any more whole than when they began. In the end, Hanabi did seem to come to this conclusion to her own after becoming involved in school activities and talking to more girls in her class, but I’m unsure if the rest of the cast did.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this anime. The animation was gorgeous, I appreciated the voice acting, and I liked how the ending was a tad bit unconventional, even if a little bit ridiculous (yeah, I’m looking at you Kanai). That said, this anime isn’t for everyone. It can be dramatic to the extreme, not relatable for everyone, and the sex scenes might be a tad too much for some. I’m a highly sympathetic person but also empathetic towards some of these characters. For me, it was a good experience that I felt like I needed. 8/10!

Knitting · Life

Kits and Knits

Last week was the end of final exams and on my last exam, I decided to take a well deserved day out. In celebration of Canada Day, Tim Hortons was bringing back Roll Up the Rim for a time. I’m trying to cut down on my coffee but I decided to get at least one cup, just to try my luck. Turns out that my luck isn’t that so great.

First Roll Up the Rim for Canada's 150! No dice. Oh well, it has a nice message at least.

A post shared by Edel Altares (@edelgraceme) on

Michaels was also celebrating Canada Day a little bit early. They were giving out generous coupons for a couple of days and the end of the season meant tons of clearances on yarn.

I managed to grab some discontinued Loops & Threads Zigzag yarn to practice my knitting with. I ended up knitting a ball. It turned out to be not that great but I see it as a learning experience.

After my little shopping trip I met up with Y and we went to the cat cafe that recently opened up in town. The place itself is gorgeous. The cat room was separated from the cafe. Kind of a small place but rather good when you consider what the space is used for. There were only a couple of cats there and they were all pretty lazy and hungry the whole time. Some of the cats were feeling a little playful and pounced on the feather toys. It was disappointing a bit but it was also nice being around a lot of cats.

Look at these kitties just sleeping and eating!

Overall, it was a nice day. I got to spend time with people I value, got to indulge in my hobby for a bit, and was surrounded by cats! Honestly, that’s the dream.

Books

Book Blogger Hop #21


Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

Name a book that changed your life.

Busting out the big questions. This is a hard one to answer. I think that I’m still trying to find it. I have my favourite books but I’m not sure of their impact on my life. They seemed to be entertaining books rather than books that held a lot of weight.

My first inclination was to think of any self help books I’ve read but none come to my mind. Then I thought of my favourite book, Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I relate a lot to the main character in this book and it made me extremely emotional, however I don’t think I changed any more after reading it. I just really related to the character and it somehow reinforced my pessimistic outlook.

So to have an actual answer, I think the one book that changed my life was probably the very first book that I had ever read out of my own volition, even if I don’t remember what that book could have been. Reading is such a big part of my life, I think my life would be very different if I had never taken up a book that I actually wanted to read and was not forced to read in school. Can you imagine a life without reading? Neither can I.

Crochet · Knitting

Yarn Haul #8: Gina Brown’s First Visit

I went to visit another local yarn store called Gina Brown’s. I was in the area waiting to meet up with some friends and decided to pop in and check the place out. It’s way too convenient that this place is a ten minute walk away from a train station.

It’s a nice store. In the back there’s a big table available for classes and (I’m assuming) to just knit or crochet. There is a wide selection of yarn and I definitely did not take my time looking through all of them, even though I should have! Like I said in my previous yarn haul post, it would have been rude to visit and not buy anything! You gotta support the small businesses!

A couple of months ago I participated in a crochet along together using HiKoo Simplicity Yarn. I paid sooooo much more for these yarn buying them online. If only I knew they were sold for much cheaper in an actual physical store!

Oh well, I’m glad I grabbed these. And such pretty colours too!

Books

Book Blogger Hop #20


Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

If you are at a really good point in a book and the phone rings or the door bell rings, do you stop reading or let the phone or door bell go unanswered?

Honestly, I would get up and check them. Mostly because, in my mind, those things don’t happen unless there is something important. Who actually calls people anymore? The only phone calls I get are usually important such as my bank, my doctor, etc. If someone is taking the time to visit my home, I will go look at the door. Nine times out of ten it is usually just a door to door salesperson but I won’t let him in. Now if it was a text message, I will definitely let that go unanswered.

Honestly, it’s rare for me to be so engrossed in a book that way. If it really is that good, I will probably let my brother or parents look at the door or answer my phone instead. Unless they yell for me to do it instead, haha!

Crochet · Knitting

Yarn Haul #7: The Knitting Room First Visit

I have been going to the Brentwood Village Mall for the past couple of years now and I have never ever noticed this nice little yarn store before until I started up crochet. The Knitting Room is a small store located in a mall close to my university. I usually go to the mall when I’m itching to walk somewhere between classes. I decided to finally visit The Knitting Room for the first time and came away with some yarn! Honestly, it would have been rude to visit and not buy anything!

This first yarn attracted me mainly because of the colours. I really love any color combination containing brown, blue, and white.

These two I also chose because of the colour. I find that lately I’m really drawn towards greens and blues. I have yet to find the perfect orange-y yarn that I really covet and desire. One of these days!

Books

Book Review: Vital Signs by Tessa McWatt

After thirty years of marriage, producing three now-grown children, Mike and Anna have settled into entrenched domesticity. She is skillful and poised and still beautiful, an instructor of English at the city college. He is a successful graphic artist on the verge of retirement, his awards and ambitions and accomplishments largely behind him. Though the couple’s erotic life has dimmed somewhat, he still considers her ravishing.

But their apparent balance is thrown asunder when Anna breaks the normal silence of their breakfast table with uncontrollable babble about hummingbirds. After an emergency consultation with a neurologist, they have a diagnosis: confabulation, or the scrambling of time, memories and language due to a dangerous aneurysm in Anna’s brain that could burst at any moment.

Not knowing how much time they have left with the beloved Anna, Mike and the kids rally together to support her through the terror of her disintegrating mind. But the unbearable strain of the situation is worsened by another worry that is haunting Mike: he suspects that his two eldest children, Charlotte and Fred, know of his past infidelity.

Several years ago, Anna and Mike took a trip to Egypt, hoping the shared adventure would thwart their mid-life marriage blues. Instead, the trip deepened the chasm, his sexual jealousy and insecurities swamping her attempts at intimacy. Their estrangement worsened when they returned home to discover that their youngest daughter, Sasha, was in hospital, having overdosed on drugs. Anna was furious with Mike for his cool response at the time, which she interpreted as unfeeling.

Two weeks later Mike began his affair, with a much younger woman dissimilar to Anna in all respects. He persisted in the romance for three years, feeling young and vital and once again in control, at least for a time.

The affair is long over but today, as Anna disappears into a terrifying collapse of time and language, Mike is wracked by his dilemma: should he keep his silence about the affair and spare his family more pain, or should he seize the opportunity to be wholly honest with the woman he loves, possibly in the last days of her life? Perhaps the answer lies in his drawings, the means of communication with which he is most comfortable. Can he codify his emotions into pictures? Can he articulate his love and regret and sorrow to his wife – and to himself – without having to say the heart-rending words out loud?

Narrated by a terrified male protagonist whose deep yearning for forgiveness might only be granted by a woman in the grips of dementia, Tessa McWatt’s Vital Signs is a thought-provoking and mesmerizing literary accomplishment – a compassionate and visceral study of a marriage at the brink of catastrophe.

I received this ARC copy of this book from First Reads back in like 2011 and I am completely glad I did. This book was the first First Reads books that I so desperately and truly wanted to win. I read the summary and immediately felt that this seemed like a book that I would love to pieces. I’m glad that my first instinct wasn’t wrong.

Around four hours ago, I looked into the mail and saw the package waiting for me. Immediately, I took it inside and opened it. Ever since then, I’ve been reading it, taking a few breaks to write down what I thought about it as I read.

The very first few pages were emotional to me, and I knew how much of a ride I was in for. I fell completely in love with McWatt’s writing. Everything was so beautifully written and captured me.

Every single one of the characters were incredibly real. Their feelings were real as well. It was heartbreaking to read but at the same time, some scenes were just so beautiful and touching.

I was incredibly moved by this novel. My only complaint however, are the pictures. I understand that the pictures serve an important part to the story, but they also distracted me from the story. They seemed very abrupt, and I didn’t really like their placement. But, they were very well done. I just wish it didn’t interrupt the flow as much. I did love the very last drawing though. It took me a while to figure out the meaning, but I came to love it.

Vital Signs is definitely a short and bittersweet read. I will have to make sure to buy it once it comes out. Spoiler alert, I eventually did years later under the impression that I never read it in the first place. Interesting how fate works. I re-read it and it was all extremely fresh to me. I am a little hurt that the book didn’t leave an impact that would last over six years. However, I’m glad I got to experience it again with a blank mind with little to no expectations.

Books

Book Blogger Hop #19


Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme run by Coffee Addicted Writer. Every Friday, a question is posted for the book blog community to discuss. This week’s question is…

How do you organize your blog in terms of what is in your side bar? Do you have categories and defined sections in your side bar?

At the moment, my side bar is laid out by links to my favourite bloggers, categories, monthly archives, and recent comments. I don’t like to clutter my side bar with too much, especially images, so it’s mostly all text. I love minimalist designs.

Knitting

Learning How to Knit at STASH Needle Art Lounge #1

Since I recently took up crochet, I have also been itching to start learning how to knit as well. I figure it would be advantageous to take up both of the more well known fiber art hobbies. So I signed up for lessons at one of my local yarn stores.

The store itself is very cozy and quaint. It’s literally a small house filled to the brim with yarn. The people at the front desk are extremely nice and while I was waiting for class to start, they offered me some tea.

The classes take place in the basement which can be hard for people who have trouble going up or down stairs. However, the room is small and cozy (looks like it could fit five or six people at most) and a perfectly intimate setting for holding a class for knitting.

Unfortunately, they are moving locations this summer so who knows (I don’t) what the new store will look like. Hopefully it still retains it’s small store charm.

The instructor Brenda, was incredibly patient and extremely knowledgeable. She goes through teaching us like a breeze. Her instructions were easy to follow however I am a total hands-on learner. I need to do it with someone coaching me and as soon as I see it happen, I can get it!

The style of knitting that Brenda taught us was English style. I had never known there were different styles of knitting. I was a little surprised at how much arms are involved but I have taken a look at some YouTube videos of English style knitters and some have perfected the style to a tee without the large arm movements. I’m still learning!

In the class we are working towards making a ribbed cowl with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn. I chose the Blossom colour as it was fairly light and according to Brenda, it would look great on me with my skin tone.

So far, the pattern starts with a 16 loop cast on and alternating knit and purl stitches. Here are the first few rows on my first attempt.

Once I got home from the class, I attempted to redo it all and here is my second attempt.

I’ve actually started and restarted several times since because I’m a huge perfectionist. However feel like I’m slowly getting the hang of it now. I can’t wait until I finish up my very first knitted FO!