Book Review: Treasure Island

I’ve completed my first book for the Back to the Classics reading challenge! I started the year off with an epic adventure of pirates, murder, treasure, and escapades on the high seas; in short, none other than Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island fills category 6. Adventure Classic.

I’ll be honest, I’m not much of an adventure reader. My tastes are more in line with historical fiction (especially westward expansion) and girl’s coming of age stories – best matched together in my favorites Little House on the Prairie and Caddie Woodlawn, along with the Kirsten series and a huge portion of Ann Rinaldi’s work. If it hadn’t been for this challenge, I probably wouldn’t have picked up Stevenson until it came up in the Ambleside curriculum. I’m glad I did though! I was on the edge of my seat, reading well into the night to see what Jim Hawkins would come up with next.

I can sum up Treasure Island in one word: Greed. Greed drives the decision making of nearly every character nearly the entire way through the book. When greed isn’t the primary motive, it is greed’s close cousin selfishness.

For those not familiar, Treasure Island is the story of Jim Hawkins. At the beginning of the novel, his family keeps an inn along the coast in England. A rough old pirate boards with them, terrorizing them with his anger and drunkenness. After Jim’s father passes away, pirates descend on the inn. The resident pirate dies of rum and fright. Although Jim and his mother at first run away, they return to sort through the pirate’s chest and claim the money that is due them for his stay – “how I blamed my mother for her honesty and her greed,” Jim states. When they hear the pirates returning they sprint from the house taking with them an oilskin packet they don’t have time to open.

Once in safety, this packet is opened to reveal a map to Treasure Island where the infamous Captain Flint buried his vast riches. The squire of the area and Jim’s friend Dr. Livesey decide to buy a ship and follow the map to claim the treasure. Jim will attend them as cabin boy. The squire heads to the seaside to begin preparations. After Jim and Dr. Livesey join him, it becomes clear the squire has been a bit too free with his conversation – although they have hired some good sea hands (especially the honorable Captain Smollett), they have also found themselves with some unsavory characters. Even before they have left port, the thought of mutiny is on everyone’s mind.

From here on there may be spoilers! Don’t read on if you don’t want to know!

Continue reading

Crochet T-Shirt Rag Rug

I’m on a rug roll. Our hardwood floors are cold (it’s in the teens outside) and it makes me want to cover them all with soft comfy rugs. I’ve certainly got enough material.

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I made this rug for one of Grace’s Christmas presents, making it officially my first rag rug (although I’ve blogged the flannel one before). This is a simple crocheted oval made out of t-shirt yarn. I used single crochet all around and just did increases where I felt it needed it – super informal. There’s a few bubbles because I wasn’t very precise with my increases. That’s really ok though.

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This rug took 7 t-shirts cut into 1.5″ strips. I worked on it for a week or so. Crochet isn’t my first choice of handwork but Shaune hadn’t built my loom yet and I was impatient to make a rug. Grace moves it around her room as she pleases – it is her rug after all. It technically lives by the book shelf, but just sometimes, it makes a lovely monster:

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Flannel Rag Rug

Flannel Rag Rug, or, “Why on earth do we own so many pajama pants?”

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Flannel Rag Rug

This is my first rag rug on the beautiful loom my husband made me. It took just under a week of very distracted work – here a minute, there a minute, pull a bunch out because I messed it up, and another half hour there. Our son has decided he isn’t a particular fan of sleeping so a lot of my rug twining time involved catching the ends out of the hands of a delighted little man. He’s like a cat.

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Just before removing it from the loom

I made this with scrap flannel. Right after Christmas, I was sorting clothes for the family and discovered we own a silly amount of pajama pants, or “fuzzy pants” as we call them. I’m talking easily 20+ pairs between the 3 of us old enough to wear them. It’s a cultural tradition to give new pjs for Christmas and we have whole-heartedly bought into it. I used 8 different flannels in this rug ranging from 6-year-old mostly worn out to brand new scraps from this year’s pair. The varied thicknesses caused the curving you see in the photo above; some of it smoothed out when I removed it from the frame and some will always remain. I’m calling it “character”.

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A bobby pin as a needle makes the last row easier

If you’ve never made a rag rug, the process is fairly simple. It’s the basic over-under-over-under you learned in kindergarten with strips of paper, with a twist – literally. You work with two fabric strips at a time. One goes under while the other goes over, then you twist them before the next warp. As long as you remember to twist the same way every time you end up with a pretty braided effect and a very sturdy woven fabric.

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The edge of the rug – the warp pulls in and hides

The warp for this rug was another scrap from my stash – a cotton printed panel project. Do you know those? You buy the panel which has pattern pieces printed on it, such as a holiday vest. I had a friend bless me with a stack of them. I will never use the projects as designed, but the cotton makes excellent rug warp. I twined the first few rows of the rug out of a coordinating flannel. Once I took the rug off the loom the warp slipped inside and is barely visible. You probably can’t even see it in the photo above.

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Left overs will become warp for the next rug

The left over strips will become the warp for my next rug. There is still so much flannel here…

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All done and in use!

And, done!

Rag Rug Loom

My hubby is awesome.

No, wait, that isn’t the entire post, although it could be! Lately I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making rugs. Specifically, rag rugs. Too much Little House on the Prairie and various other pioneer literature around here lately – makes me want to be all rustic. And as we’re preparing to move cross country, I’m sorting through piles of clothes and my fabric stash to narrow down what will actually be coming with us.

It makes me cringe to throw fabric away. I just can’t.

Enter rag rug making – the perfect way to take unusable fabric and make it usable again. And it uses up lots of it, which I have, thus saving giant heaping piles of clothing from the trash (most of it is too worn out for resale shops).

Last week we drove to Georgia to visit relatives and the entire way my husband and I discussed various loom options. We watched youtube videos at the hotels at night and chatted about what features I wanted. Then we got home and he built it for me using scraps we had around from a shelving project. Total cost? Less than $10 for some oak dowels and the hooks to hold them. And I have fabric for who knows how many rugs.

And here it is! Because nothing is better on a cold winter day than weaving at a sunny window.

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Let me show you some of the beautiful details. This loom isn’t taken from any one set of plans, but rather is a hodgepodge of various looms we saw online combined to our own liking.

The frame is a basic 2.5′ b y 3.5′. The top and bottom are the same so it can be flipped. It’s made of 1×2″ doubled on the vertical so it’s thick enough to insert hooks:

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The base is 1×4″ cut 20″ long with more 1×2″ scraps. The frame slips right into it snuggly. He’s going to add a latch to hold the frame in so I can carry it easier, but for now this works.

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There are 4 sets of hooks on the vertical supports. 5/8″ oak dowels slide in to hold the warp. With this set up I can make a rug any width up to 29″ wide and 3 lengths: 18″, 27″, and 36″ (roughly). For my first rug I’m using the middle (27″) length.

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Dowels are held in place by a super fancy rubber band.

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I’m silly excited about this. In the winter, we watch a lot more tv in the evenings. It gets dark here between 4-5pm and it’s really cold. I don’t like just sitting there; this gives me something productive to do that is essentially mindless once I get the pattern going. And look! I’ve already begun. I’ll post more details on this rug as it shapes up. It’s going to be a hug for our feet, all made up of scrap flannel.

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Any one else rag rug? I’d love to geek out with you in the comments if you do!