This Sparks Joy! Summer 22 edition

Starting with the last of the summer joys first because Netflix released Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman on 5 August and as of the date of posting I have watched the main series three times and the bonus episode twice times. It is wonderful. Dreamy* even. I cried multiple times, with episode 6 using the most tissues, laughed a lot and found myself completely caught up in the world of the Endless.

*sorry, not sorry!

Now whilst I have been a longtime fan of Neil’s novels and short stories I’d never read The Sandman comics, for the simple reason my brain just doesn’t do well with graphic novel format. I can appreciate the artistry that goes into them but I find it very difficult to concentrate on them long enough to pick up the story. I was excited when the audible series came out but this, too, proved difficult thanks to my partial deafness. I can manage most single narrator audiobooks because my brain can tune into the voice but audio dramas – where there are many voices – can often be impossible to follow because my hearing simply isn’t good enough to pick up the different pitches quickly enough to understand the sentences. Which is a long way of saying that this felt like my last chance of finding out why so many people love this story.

I found out with a vengeance. I am so very hooked and I do hope that it gets renewed. To which end, if you haven’t yet watched it, please remedy that deficiency immediately if you love myth based fantasy that is deeply inclusive and showcases both the worst and best of humanity in a searching but kind way. I’m certainly going to do several more rewatches because it was made with so much love and attention to detail that there are layers and layers to unwrap in both the script and the screening. It is very clear that Neil loves his creation deeply and made every effort to not only ensure new comers like myself would be able to follow everything without confusion but also produced something that the fans who had been with him from the first comic would also recognise as what they have loved for so long as well as appreciate the changes that were necessary for the different medium of television.

*this opinion gleaned from having read many reviews from such fans.

Away from the televisual viewing I have been participating in a reading challenge I found on the StoryGraph; namely Reading Wales 2022 the aim of which is to finish 12 books that are either about Wales or written by a Welsh author before the end of the year. Curated by Kyatic – who has included twelve prompts and lists of books for each so you aren’t just flailing about trying to pick for yourself – I’ve found it an excellent way of broadening my book choices and picking titles I would not have found on my own.

I’ve already finished four of the twelve books I chose from the prompts and have three others in various state of being read. In case you’re interested these are the twelve:

  • Until Our Blood Is Dry by Kit Habianic (finished)
  • On the Red Hill by Mike Parker (finished)
  • The Green Hollow by Owen Sheers (finished)
  • The Anglesey Murders by Conrad Jones (finished)
  • The Mab edited by Matt Brown and Eloise Williams (reading)
  • Or What You Will by Jo Walton (reading)
  • The Matter of Wales by Jan Morris (reading)
  • The Awakening by Kate Roberts
  • Telling Tales by Patience Agbabi
  • let me tell you by Paul Griffith
  • Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas
  • Reasons She Goes to the Woods by Deborah Kay Davies

I’ve throughly enjoyed or been deeply moved by everything I’ve read so far, with On the Red Hill being my favourite, and I’d encourage everyone to take a look at the challenge even if you don’t intend to try and finish it. That said if you’re the sort of reader who goes through three or four books a month you’ve still got time to join in and finish!

Crochet remains an ongoing joy in my life. I’ve been working on several large projects, splitting my time across them, and while this means I don’t get bored with the more repetitive of the patterns it does slow down my completion rate. That said I did finish the “Pastel Pride” virus pattern poncho, which I mentioned in the last This Sparks Joy! update, just before the end of June this year so I got to wear that out and about over the summer which was an utter delight. Especially the compliments from strangers asking where I bought it.

Of the four remaining large projects the closes to being complete is my “many shades of green” Ruana style poncho. However I foolishly decided that it needed a fringe as a finishing touch and … well let’s just say cutting and attaching over 500 separate pieces of yarn to the edges does not spark joy after the first few, so it may be some time yet before it’s actually ready to wear. My C2C ombré green blanket is both my largest and my “I am tired but sleep is not happening and if I don’t do something I’ll scream” project. The fact that it is almost half finished tells you all you need to know about the state of my insomnia.

The five sided leaf shawl is about one third done and I’m absolutely loving how the design works up. It does require a significant amount of concentration as it’s a 7 row repeat but there is a rhythm to it and it’s fairly easy to look back and see what you should be doing, which is good because I’ve misplaced the pattern! And last but not least is a textured poncho I started a week ago because my brain went “new, shiny, now” and a 10 pack of Scheepjes Spirit yarn I was gifted a couple of months ago was calling to me. It’s a easy two row repeat and very meditative so I suspect it will grow quite quickly.

And if after seeing these four photos you are wondering whether green is my favourite colour the answer is yes. I also finished up the last of the dragon scale bags to gift to a friend for their birthday (and the inclusion of this picture is why I haven’t posted this plot until today) and began the annual making of the warm woolly hats for winter.

Autumn will hopefully see a couple of the big projects finished as well as a glut of hats and gloves, some of which may be sold on my Ko-Fi so keep an eye out if you fancy one. Or, if you have something specific in mind feel free to message me as I do have some space for commissions if you want to own or gift a hand made item for whichever winter holiday you celebrate,

And the last, but by no means least, joy was my weeks holiday in a tiny stone cottage in Herefordshire over the summer solstice. I walked and wrote and read and recharged my batteries and it was utterly wonderful. I especially enjoyed my day in Hay-on-Wye on the solstice itself. I got to explore the newly re-opened Hay Castle to hearts content (including an excellent guided tour where I was the only participant so I was able to hear everything clearly and had some fascinating conversation about different aspects of the local history) and, just before I left, Mother Nature gifted me the opportunity of finally getting some good video and one decent photo of a Red Kite in flight.

I shall leave you with a selection of photos from my Herefordshire holiday and wish you all find many things that spark joy for you during the autumn.

Oh yes, it would be rude to mention the video of the Red Kite without sharing, so here it is:

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