Thursday, January 23, 2020

Itch Sufficiently Scratched

I'm sure you all laughed at my assertion that I could quit mosaic knitting any time I wanted to -- I think we all know there's not likely to be an end to it anytime soon! But, having completed another project last night, I think I'm ready to take a brief pause.

Pattern: Lattice Have Pie Towel by Amy Marie
Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie (100% cotton) in Pomegranate and Linen
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: January 18/January 22
Mods: added rows to the bottom and top to even out the motif placement

This towel/cloth/whatever you want to call it was so much fun to knit that I could not put it down. I can tell that as I'm gaining more experience with mosaic knitting, I'm getting faster at it. The wonderful thing about mosaic knitting, particularly if you are used to using charts, is that you really don't need much more than the chart to knit a mosaic pattern. I can highly recommend this pattern, though, because the designer not only gives you a separate chart for each motif (so that you can put them in whatever order you like), she also gives you all three charts with the colors reversed, which is especially helpful if you're like me and have a hard time remembering to mentally reverse the colors shown in a chart.

I really can't say enough nice things about the yarn, either. It feels nicer to me than the typical big box store kitchen cotton, and it's really nice having a full 100 g skein/ball to work with. I used about half of the red and a little less than half of the linen, so theoretically I could do and exact replica of this cloth with the colors reversed if I wanted to. Though I certainly noticed hand fatigue faster with this cotton than I would with wool, I had a much easier time than I usually do when knitting dishcloths.

I'm sure there will be more mosaic knitting in the not-so-distant future, but for now, I'm taking a little break. This completed cloth will be put away for a couple of months for my sister-in-law's birthday in March, and I will be getting back to my wool projects.

Though I have not yet had a chance to write up a review on Goodreads, I finished The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell on Tuesday evening just before bed, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It reads like a memoir, but it is a work of fiction (though if you read the author's acknowledgments at the end, you'll discover that it is, in a sense, autobiographical). Last night I just barely started reading Olive Kitteridge. I'd been waiting for it from the library, but then my mother told me that she'd wound up with two copies of it due to a snafu with her address, so she gave me the extra copy. It feels a bit strange to be reading a physical book after getting so accustomed to reading ebooks, but I'm enjoying the writing and know it will be a good read.

We have a relatively normal weekend coming up, with a little added excitement in the form of the delivery of our new washer and dryer on Saturday (oh, the things that become exciting as you get older!), and I am hoping to find time to cast on my next sweater. I've already wound the yarn and swatched, so all that's left to do is cast on!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

I Can Quit Any Time

Over the long weekend, I came to a little bit of a realization: I may be addicted to mosaic knitting. Now, I know what you're thinking: How can this possibly be a problem? Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you that it's not necessarily a problem -- until, that is, you start ignoring or even outright neglecting your other projects.

First there was the Turkish Tiles dishcloth, which had some errors in it because I was new, but I was nevertheless quite enchanted with the technique.

Then there came the hedgehog and its insane adorableness:

Pattern: Hedgehog Hotpad by Cassandra Bibler
Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie (100% cotton) in Coffee and Swan
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: January 8/January 17

And now I'm knitting a pie:

Lattice Have Pie Towel
I really didn't expect to have this much done by now, but apparently when I start knitting on this, it's hard for me to stop, and now it's looking like it'll be finished up in the next couple of days. I really should be working on a design sample right now, one that was started last year (well, in December), but all I want to do is a dishcloth. In cotton. Who am I?

I am going to finish up this latest project (because it needs to be done anyway for a knitalong) and then take a break, though Rainbow has been dropping heavy hints that she'd love another cloth with a sloth on it, and as I haven't found a pattern for one, that means that I'll have to design it myself.

I had hoped to do a lot of reading over the weekend, but I was (ahem) a bit distracted. Even so, I'm now more than halfway through a good read, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell. I know one of you recommended it, but I can't remember who it was, so if it was you, thank you! It's been just the easy and enjoyable read I've needed.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Little Meditation

What a wild winter weekend it has been. We woke up yesterday (thanks to the beeping of the salt truck back up our street) to snow, which was followed in short order by sleet, freezing rain, and finally plain old rain. It was a miserable day, and though Rainbow and I did have to make a trip to the grocery store, we spent most of it inside, staying warm and dry. Today is thankfully less exciting, with just some scattered light snow showers, but it is very cold and windy out there, so I was more than happy to spend some time at my wheel, which is conveniently located next to the radiator in our bedroom. It is a relaxing and meditative way to spend an otherwise lazy Sunday.

This is oatmeal BFL from Fibernymph Dye Works. I'd intended to spin it a bit thicker, but I guess my fingers had other plans. I'm spinning from one end of the top to the other, and when all the singles are done, I'll wind them off into a center-pull ball and ply it back on itself.

While I've been spinning today, I've been watching the Netflix series Unbelievable. I had heard good things about it, but it wasn't until I started watching that I realized that I was familiar with the true story upon which the show is based thanks to an episode of This American Life. I'm only about halfway through the series but can already recommend it (and I can definitely recommend the podcast episode).

I'm looking forward to another quiet evening of crafting and reading and a bit of sleeping in tomorrow for the final day of our long weekend. Remind me again why I decided it was a good idea to schedule Rainbow's dentist appointment for first thing in the morning on a rare Monday off?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thinking in Threes

I've got three things on my mind today, which works perfectly for joining in with Carole and friends.

1. Current WIPs
I am just about finished with my relay sock (and my apologies for the terrible lighting in this photo -- it's a very dark morning here). I've got about half an inch to knit on the foot before I'm ready to start the toe, and I expect that I'll be able to wrap it up during my lunch break tonight.

As soon as this is done, I'll be turning back to work on my hedgehog dishcloth, as that also needs to get done this month. I'm itching to get back to my granny square blanket, but I'm not pulling it out again until the obligation knitting is done.

2. Reading
I finished Raven Black last Friday, meaning it took me only two days to read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I've already added the additional Shetland series books to my Want to Read list and have put a hold on book 2 at the library.  Earlier in the week, I started reading The Murmur of Bees, which I've had in my Kindle library for a while (it was a freebie a while back) and was inspired to finally read thanks to several good reviews by friends. I had a little trouble getting into it and was a bit confused at first (most chapters are from the point of view of an omniscient narrator, but there are chapters every so often told in the first person, and I didn't understand initially who that person was), but now that I'm about 2/3 of the way through it, I'm enjoying it. I expect I'll be able to finish it by the end of the week.

3. Planning ahead
Before my relay turn came up and I had to start the sock, I had started swatching for my first sweater of the year. I'm planning to knit Jennifer Steingass's Darkwater (though I keep calling it "Deepwater"), finally -- I bought the yarn for it almost a year ago! I love my Humulus so much that I'm using the same yarn, HipStrings Buoy DK. Yes, I know the pattern is written for fingering, but the gauge is really more of a DK gauge. Also, I find Buoy to be a little on the light/thin side for a DK, really more of a heavy sport, so I'm confident I can knit it at the gauge the pattern specifies and still get good drape in the fabric.

We have a long weekend ahead due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, and it will likely be a quiet one. The Mister is actually headed out of town early on Saturday morning for a work trip, and we're also expecting a bit of wintry weather to head through, so I will be happy to stay at home and craft with Rainbow. I hope it's an equally relaxing weekend for you!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Doodling in Yarn

This past weekend was a good one for finishing. On Saturday evening, in addition to finishing up the skein of handspun I shared on Sunday, I also finished the latest pair of socks I've been designing. That was perfect timing, because on Sunday evening I had to cast on a new project that is time sensitive.

One of the make-alongs I've been participating in recently is the Down Cellar Studio podcast Pigskin Party. Jen hosts this annual event to coincide with the NFL season, and throughout the event there are various challenges and short-term mini events. This year Jen introduced a new team challenge, and one of the final events for the team challenge is a head-to-toe relay. The goal is to produce items to cover a person from head to toe, with each participating team member completing an item. The catch is that only one person can be crafting at a time, so it's a bit of a race to finish up the project so the next person can start. There are bonus points for yardage used and more difficult techniques, like cabling and stranded colorwork.

Because I'm pretty fast as them, I volunteered to do one of the socks. The other sock knitter and I also agreed that we could do colorwork for bonus points. I had an idea for a stranded sock pattern, so I figured this would be a good way to swatch -- because a sock is small enough that knitting one isn't much more work than doing a serious swatch. I cast on Sunday evening and as of this morning have most of the heel flap complete.

This photo was taken at the end of my lunch break yesterday, so there's a bit more knit by now, but you can get a good feel for the pattern (the rest of the leg is a mirror of the smaller motifs). I am using some Knit Picks Felici for the main color, and the black contrast is some very deep stash Knit Picks Essential. You can tell it's old because Knit Picks hasn't used that name for that base in a long time; it's now called Stroll. I'm quite pleased with how this "yarn doodle" has worked up, though I can see where it needs a few tweaks. Fortunately I don't have to have a finalized pattern for the relay, just a completed sock, and I imagine another couple of days of knitting with take care of it. I will likely make some changes to the stranded pattern on the foot, and once I figure out what works/what I like best, I can start over with the real thing (which might end up being a pair of socks for Rainbow, as she's already mentioned that she has no colorwork socks and heavily hinted that she'd like a pair). I have to say, it feels really good to be doing some serious swatching and getting something useful out of it in addition to the swatch!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

I Took the One Less Traveled By*

After sustaining the injury the other night (which I fully accept is my own fault), I knew I was capable of knitting but wasn't sure I could spin. I use the injured thumb to draft, and drafting is darn near impossible when you can't feel the fiber because your finger is covered in a bandage. Thankfully, I healed up quickly. I still have a wound there, but it was healed enough by Friday evening to take the bandages off for a while and actually have a Friday evening spinning session! (I typically spend Friday evenings at my wheel, spinning and catching up on video podcasts -- I have my laptop set up on the end of the radiator next to my spinning chair.) I didn't need very much time to finish the rest of the singles, and yesterday I managed to find time to chain-ply the entire bobbin. I'm in love with the results, and I can tell you that the gloomy light today is not allowing these photos to do it justice.

The colors are rich and dark and moody. The fiber was a delight to spin. If you've never spun Bond, I highly recommend getting your hands on some. I'd describe it as being like Merino in its softness but with a little more toothiness to it. The finished skein is fingering to sport, with a tight twist, and about 333 yards. This spin was pure comfort spinning to me, and I'm actually a little sad that it's done.

I mentioned last week that I had some stash enhancements come in the mail. I showed you one skein of yarn but alluded to there being more. Also in that package from Fibernymph Dye Works were two bundles of fiber:

On top is 4 oz. of Falkland in the colorway Cosmic Vertigo. On the bottom is 4 oz. of oatmeal BFL in the colorway Winter Deep. I'm planning to turn the BFL into a relatively thick two ply, and I think the Falkland will make a spectacular three-ply fingering for sock yarn. I know I really wasn't in need of any more fiber, but I didn't have any of Lisa's fiber in my stash and she had a good end-of-year sale, so I decided to treat myself.

*The title of this post is a nod to the colorway of the completed spin, Two Roads Diverged. If somehow you're not familiar with the poem these two lines come from, go take a minute and read it.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

That Was Most Unfortunate

Today I'm asking you to forgive any errant typos you see in this post because I'm typing wounded:

Last night, in a misguided attempt to save time, I decided to get out my mandoline (similar to this one, though my blade goes straight across) to slice some zucchini for my dinner instead of using my handheld spiralizer. It came with a hand/finder guard, which I foolishly decided not to use. And I paid for it -- I not only sliced the vegetables, I also sliced off a chunk of my thumb. And of course it's my right thumb, which is most inconvenient because I'm extremely right-handed. It's complicating pretty much everything I do with my hands, but amazingly I am still able to knit, albeit carefully. The Mister wondered if I should go to urgent care to get stitched, but there's really not anything to stitch together, so I think I'm stuck with lots of Bandaids for the time being.

Once I was fully bandaged up, I managed to finish up a blanket square, save weaving in ends (which I don't yet have the dexterity for) and blocking. I'm hopeful I'll be able to accomplish both this weekend.

This square is going to be part of a comfort blanket for Amy of the Ross Farm, and I used leftovers of Ross Farm Shetland yarns for all of it. The lace panel at the center is a heart, which should open up a bit after blocking. The blanket was the brainchild of my friend Lisa (the dyer behind Fibernymph Dye Works), and the two of us will be seaming all the squares together into a blanket and delivering it to Amy.

I had a little bit of time before bed after I bound the square off, so I started a dishcloth. It's also a project on my 20 in 2020 list and it counts for a knitalong I'm participating in, so I feel like I'm multitasking. I've only gotten a handful of rows done so far, and I appreciate that it doesn't look like much yet.

I'm using this pattern and two skeins of the Knit Picks Dishie I bought in the Great Kitchen Cotton Acquisition of 2019. The colors are Coffee (deep brown) and Swan (natural white). I expect that when it's done, Rainbow will inherit it; in addition to her obsession with sloths, she's also quite enamored with hedgehogs.

Because the knitting is rather boring at the moment (and also won't photograph well) and it's Thursday, how about we talk about reading, specifically the three books I've finished so far this year?
  1. My first book finished of the year was an Amazon First Read freebie, Room to Breathe. As a vacation read, it served its purpose, but I'm glad I didn't pay for it. It was moderately entertaining but not especially well written, at least not in terms of character development. All the characters felt very one-dimensional to me. I gave it 2 stars.
  2. Yesterday, I finished reading our next online book club selection, Fever. This one I liked a lot better, and it was certainly very well written and well researched (save for one mention of crocheting with needles!). I did enjoy the first half of the book more than the second half, though, and my lack of enjoyment of that section pulled my overall rating down to 3 stars. The book did give me a lot to think about, though, and I'm looking forward to our discussion of it.
  3. Finally, just this morning, I finished listening to the fifth Inspector Gamache novel, The Brutal Telling. I'd started listening to it while taking my long walks in Florida, and it's been good company on my commute this week. I won't give anything away, but I will say that I'm still a bit shocked about the ending of this one. As is always the case, I enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars and am looking forward to reading book six!
Up next is my first Ann Cleeves book, Raven Black (the first in her Shetland series). My hold from the library very conveniently came up this morning, just in time!