Bad pic, but you get the idea. For my first attempt, I cast on according to my size. It was ridiculously huge -- at least 15" larger than I needed. So I made a gauge swatch on larger needles and did a ton of math, then started over. Halfway up the bodice, I tried it on and discovered that it was still a good 6" too big. Sheesh. I did some weird decreases as I neared the garter stitch band, leaving it at a more manageable size. Two problems, though: 1) my stitch count was now way off, and 2) the pattern was written for front/back, but I'd worked it in the round. Last Sunday I decided to just use the top for another pattern, going with a basic scoop neck and cap sleeves. On Tuesday evening I realized that I didn't like that at all, and I'd need to do some weird increases to make the second pattern work. Gah!
I finally decided on Wednesday to just frog the bodice and start over with the original pattern. I did another swatch and realized that the 114st on each side would actually fit my measurements, so I began the bodice in three sizes smaller than what it said would fit me. (Have I mentioned that Bernat's designers are idiots who must've failed basic math?) I kept working in the round, which meant I had to cast on a few extra stitches to get the crossover effect at the front. Once I got into the rhythm, it came along SO fast! Yesterday I got to the shoulders and tried it on. It fit... except the front rode up more than I wanted. I frogged back a bit, added some short rows to each panel, and made the front several inches longer than the back. Late last night and this morning I did the garter stitch edging, which also required some guesswork on how many stitches to pick up, because the Bernat idiots didn't say anything like "skip every 4th stitch". And when I finally tried it on this afternoon, it fit perfectly. YAY!
So. The yarn is Bristol Yarn Gallery Somerset, which I got in a bargain bin (10 balls for $25) at Stitches South; I used 8 balls. I like the yarn, though I'm nervous about washing since it's a cotton/silk blend. My iPhone has issues with color in photos; it's more of a vibrant apple green than in that pic. Although it was a really hot day here in Atlanta, it felt nice and breezy when I wore it out shopping. Overall, I'm really pleased with how it turned out, though I'll never try another pattern from Bernat!
2. Even though I'm so goddamned tired of all the Lost hype, I'm still tuning in for tonight's finale. The big dilemma is whether to watch live or build up a tivo buffer to skip commercials... and then avoid Twitter and the rest of the internet until 11:30. Ugh. I love LJ for spoiler cut-tags and how everyone's so considerate; too bad it's nearly impossible to do the same thing elsewhere. (ETA: Oh, lovely. The ABC HD channel is out, so I have to watch on low-def... and Lost is one of the few shows that looks amazing in HD. Screw you, Comcast.)
3. I downloaded a few Nerdist podcasts because I kept hearing about how great it is. Are any of you familiar with it? I've listened to three so far, and I'm pretty disappointed. Great guests, but the overall vibe is very geekboy -- emphasis on "boy" -- with too many jokes about hot babes and techy stuff. Reminds me a lot of, well, G4. Guess I shouldn't be surprised! Maybe it's just not my style.
4. Last night I finished reading Monsters of Men, the final book in Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking Trilogy. I thought I'd type up my reactions to it, though I've kept this spoiler-safe for those who haven't yet read it. I liked but didn't love the first two books, for various reasons. Still, I found myself ordering book 3 from the U.K. since it won't be out here until September (it was only a few bucks more than it would cost at Amazon). My main issue with the first two was that I felt like I didn't really become emotionally invested in the characters, even though the books are entirely within Viola and Todd's heads. Plus, the second book is SO DARK. Hell, I'd say it's darker than BSG. I know it's meant for teens, but I'm not sure I'd want my students reading a book that features waterboarding and genocide. Perfect for grown-ups, though, and I hope more adults read it despite the 13-year-old protagonists and YA label.
From the ending of The Ask and the Answer, you can probably make some good guesses about Monsters of Men, though it does have some big surprises. I grew to like the characters more, but I still feel a bit detached from them. One thing I noticed is that Ness very rarely uses description -- we have no real idea what the characters or even the town look like. I can't decide whether that's good or bad; some detail would really help, but it's nice to form my own mental images. While some awful things happen, this book isn't as dark as A&A, making it less uncomfortable to read. Ness does a good job of world-building and grounding the very sci-fi aspects of the frontier setting. It reminds me a lot of Firefly. I do wish Viola had had a harder time adjusting to this new world after having spent her whole life on a ship, but I can live with that.
The main drawback of the series as a whole is in the pacing. Ness does employ lots of cliffhangers, but I found myself skimming large chunks. I first noticed this problem in A&A, in which the big showdown at the end went on way too long, as the characters repeated patterns and discoveries with just enough variation to obscure the fact that they should've figured them out already. Both of the last two books needed some serious editing -- the same thing could've been accomplished in half the time. They're definitely page-turners, but I didn't need to turn over a thousand pages!
Still, I'll enthusiastically recommend the series. The first book is hard to get into, and the dialect can be off-putting, but it's great once you get into the rhythm. I probably won't reread, so if any of you want this copy of Monsters of Men to read before it's released here, let me know!