Tuesday, November 19, 2019

At the Speed of Life

This time of year, when the holidays are coming and people are trying to wrap things up before the end of the year, is always a bit chaotic, but things feel especially rushed this year. I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that we don't have a free weekend until we go to Florida. This coming weekend Rainbow has events to go to and we have to start cooking for Thanksgiving, the following weekend is my brother's wedding, and the weekend after that is Rainbow's 10th (yes, you read that correctly) birthday. There's a lot to do before we go away, but I'm trying to stay calm and not get too crazed.

Knitting is helping, as it always does. I'm trying not to put any undue pressure on myself to knit things by certain deadlines, and I'm only making one hand-knit gift for the holidays (a pair of socks for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law, as she's the only one in the family who hasn't yet received a hand-knit gift from me). I am still hoping to hit 100 designs in my portfolio by the end of the year, and though that will mean a bit of a time crunch, it's looking good. Of the four left to get me there, one is in testing, a second is with my tech editor, the third has just been cast on, and the fourth can likely get done in December.

One project I was happy to get off the needles over the weekend was Rainbow's knee socks, which were nearly finished Thursday night (I had only half the bind off on the second sock to finish when the Mister made me go to bed) but then took me another day or so weave in the ends. But they're done, and she's thrilled with them. They look a little wonky here because she's worn them but hasn't yet relinquished them to be washed for the first time.


I knit these toe up, using the Fish Lips Kiss Heel and her foot template. The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in Favorite Carrot Cake, and the contrasting toes, heels, and cuffs were done using the mini skein that came with the yarn; it's meant to look like the cream cheese frosting and toasted pecans that finish off the carrot cake. I magic looped these using a US 1/2.25 mm needle, which made them go quite quickly compared to my socks. I also did two sets of increases toward the top of the calf to add about half an inch of additional circumference and bound off using a variation of the Russian bind off. Amazingly, there's still some yarn leftover, so it's gone into the bag with the other leftovers to be added to my granny square blanket.

Last night I started that new design sample I mentioned. This is going to be a worsted weight colorwork hat, so it should be the matter of a few evenings of knitting. There's not much to see just yet, just the brim and one round of colorwork.


The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Amethyst Heather and Peapod. It's a good workhorse yarn, and quite soft -- great for kids and babies. I bought a number of skeins earlier in the year in several colors to knit charity hats with. (And in going over to get the link, I noticed that quite a few colors are currently on sale, if you have similar thoughts.)

In reading, I have been listening to and thoroughly enjoying The Dutch House as performed by Tom Hanks and have about three hours left. I expect that means I will be finished by tomorrow evening, when I'll get some more time with Tom Hanks (at least on screen) at the Pittsburgh premiere of It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Though the movie doesn't come out until Friday everywhere else, we're getting an early peek at it via a fundraiser for WQED, our local PBS station where Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was created and filmed. I can't wait!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Curse Lives

If you know my spinning, you know that I like to spin fine yarns; my default yarn (or the yarn I spin if I don't pay attention and just let my hands do their thing) is a three-ply fingering weight. And that's what I set out to spin in this latest project, and I achieve that, yet I had the same outcome I always seem to have when I spin BFL: low yardage. I was hoping the silk content in this fiber would help some, but my 110 g yielded only 280 yards.


Now don't get me wrong -- I am completely in love with this yarn! I love the colors and I'm very happy with how it spun up. I'm just disappointed there isn't more of it.


I edited these photos a bit, but I still can't quite get the color right. In real life, they're less Christmas-y and the greens are more pine-y. The luster on the yarn is pretty amazing, too. And it's another bag of fiber converted into yarn, so that makes me happy. (This one didn't even make it into the larger stash -- I started spinning it almost as soon as it arrived!)

I haven't started another project yet, but I'm sure it'll only be a matter of time. My next club shipment is due to arrive in the mail tomorrow, so that might just have to jump on the wheel.

Meanwhile, Rainbow and I did a little stash enhancement today at Indie Knit and Spin:


Would you believe that none of the yarn in this photo is for me? Rainbow wanted to pick out yarn for another Little Boxy sweater and selected the three greenish skeins from Ex Libris Fibers. She also picked out the blue/green skein on the far right from Fully Spun, probably for a new slouchy hat. The blue/purple skein second from the right is worsted from Rita Mae Yarns that she won in the raffle (the second time in a row she's won a raffle prize, by the way) and is destined to be a new squishy cowl. Finally, we picked out a couple of bars of soap and a bottle of wool wash from Dusty Tree. I'm not sure that buying yarn to make things for someone else in the house really counts as not adding to the stash, but I feel okay about these purchases. And it's always fun to spend an afternoon with my girl enjoying all things wooly.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Three Stages

It's Thursday, so let's keep things short and to the point with a list, shall we? Today's list are the three stages of any project as represented by the current state of affairs, slightly out of order because of what's top of mind for me today.

1. Finished
Last night I finished up the new shawl, which clearly is still in need of a good block but is making me very happy today. I even flung it over my shoulders for a while last night to keep warm.


It looks more impressive when the light isn't so faint, but the clouds are still hanging around for at least another day. I'm going to try to get this blocked tonight as well as to finish up the draft of the pattern. I'm still stuck for a name, though -- it's always the hardest part for me! I have to come up with something that feels right for the design, hasn't already been used, and doesn't mean anything bad in another language. Suggestions are welcome!

2. Almost Finished
They've grown a bit since this photo was taken, and now Rainbow's knee socks are just about finished.


Between the two socks, I've got about three more inches of knitting, perhaps a tad more, before they'll be ready to be bound off. I may not finish them during my lunch break today, but I'm certain they'll be done before I go to bed tonight. That leads me to ...

3. On Deck
I have several things I'd like to start next, but high atop that list is a pair of socks for my almost-sister-in-law for Christmas. I already know what yarn I'm using, so I just have to dig it out of the stash and wind it. I also have a new hat design to knit up, and I'd like to start another giant brioche infinity cowl out of handspun as a gift for a friend. And I would like to cast on for a new sweater as well, but I have a bunch of yarn that has to be wound for that and will likely wait until the weekend to take care of it.

* * *

I managed to finish Inland last night and sadly did not much enjoy it. I just don't think Westerns are for me, though I certainly appreciated the writing. I'm still waiting on my hold for The Dutch House (currently holding at number 6 on the wait list), and I don't think I'm going to start anything new before I get it because I just know if I do I'll immediately shoot to number 1.

We've got a bunch of stuff planned this weekend -- Rainbow and I are going to have our bridesmaid dresses fitted, I've got a haircut, and there's the fall Indie Knit and Spin show on Sunday -- but I'm hoping to squeeze in some extra crafting time!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Taste of Things to Come

We woke up this morning to this:


I've changed it to black and white, but that's some wet snow on our little evergreen tree, and I think it counts as the first official snowfall of the season. There was nothing on the ground when I first got up this morning, but it's been swirling around since then and it looks like we might have something measurable later in the day (with my luck, just in time for the evening commute).

There's nothing like snow to motivate me to finish up some projects, which is a good thing because I have two projects I'm especially keen to see off the needles this week. First there are Rainbow's latest socks, which I'm going to make proper knee socks.


Although it's hard to see and not exactly laid out right anyway, the measuring tape in the middle is there to show you that the sock on the top of the photo is almost ready for its cuff. We measured Rainbow's leg over the weekend and determined that 12 inches above the heel is the proper length for her, so I'll be knitting the self-striping to 11 inches and joining the contrast color for the last inch of ribbing at the top. I did most of the additional length (I was at 7 inches for both) on the top sock on Saturday while we were out and about, so I know it won't take me long to get the second sock to the same place. These are being worked on size 1/2.25 mm needles and are 56 stitches around, so they grow pretty quickly. Rainbow isn't bugging me for these, but I'm hoping to start a pair of socks for my soon-to-be-sister-in-law for Christmas and would like to get these finished first.

The other WIP that I'm hoping to finish is the shawl I'm designing. I worked on it for several hours on Sunday, when I camped out at a Panera after dropping Rainbow off at a birthday party. I'm on the edging now, but the rows are also getting very long at this point.


The only deadline for this one is self-imposed: This Sunday is the fall Indie Knit and Spin show, and I'd really love to have this sample done so I can show it to Rebecca (the dyer of the yarn) in person. I've had a slight delay in that last night I decided to rip back most of the border -- I was trying something a little different and it didn't work out as I was hoping. I'm doing something much simpler now, which means that it's more mindless and therefore faster, and I should get back to virgin yarn from the cake during my lunch break today.

While I was at the Panera on Sunday I also finished up The Alice Network, and good thing, too, because my hold on Inland came up on Saturday. I quite enjoyed the former, more so than some other similar books I've read this year, and am about 20 percent into the latter. I'm not sure how I feel about it just yet; I'll admit I'm a bit confused and feel like I'm missing something, but I'm trusting that the story will come together eventually and will stick with it. I'm expecting to get the audiobook of The Dutch House in the next few days (as of this morning, I'm ninth in line), so I'm hoping to finish Inland before then.

Speaking of reading, if you've read Just Mercy along with us, I hope you'll join us today over at Bonny's blog for discussion!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Close, but No Cigar

I'd hoped to have a finished skein of handspun to share today, but alas, I do not. I'm close to finishing the singles, but it turns out that I was busy doing other things this weekend -- running errands, doing a much-needed clean-out of my nightstand, visiting with family -- so I did limited spinning. And that's okay! I'm very much enjoying the process, especially without putting any pressure on myself to finish. I don't have much left to spin, either.


The singles are really lovely, if I do say so myself. BFL has a nice luster on its own, but the added silk really kicks it up a notch.


My next shipment for the Southern Cross Fibre club is on its way (though, as far as I can tell, it hasn't yet left Australia), so if I can finish up this spin before it arrives, I'll be happy.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

The WIP Rotation

I almost always have more than one project going at a time, usually at least two (one small, portable project to take on the go and one larger one to work on at home). At the moment, I have four projects active, which might just be one too many -- or at least one more than I can work on. So three are active at this point in time.

First, there's my mosaic dishcloth, which I'm actually hoping will be finished tonight.


I spent all of my crafting time last night (about an hour and a half, once I got Rainbow clean and off to bed) working on this and as a result have only about 20 rows or so left to knit. I've uncovered two minor errors in the chart thus far -- two squares in the lighter color that should be the darker color -- but otherwise have had no problems. This little dishcloth has even impressed the Mister, who's pretty much lost the ability to be impressed by my knitting in recent years after being exposed to so much of it, so that's saying something!

I have been alternating working on the dishcloth this week, at least in the evenings, with my granny square blanket, which I think it's fair to say I'm pretty obsessed with. I took this photo on our bed this morning so you can get a sense of the size (that's a queen bed, for reference).


I'm still working on the bag 'o scraps, but there are fewer little balls of leftovers in there than there used to be. I will soon be moving on to my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown Minis (yarn advent calendar), which Lisa has dyed so that they flow together, which should make for an interesting effect here.

Finally, I've turned some renewed attention to the shawl I'm designing, which is still just a plain garter stitch triangle but will soon start to have some interesting things happening when I introduce the other color.

The sun is hiding today, in case you couldn't tell.

I'm still waiting for my hold on Inland to come up from the library (I've moved up from seventh to fifth in line!), so yesterday I started reading The Alice Network via Hoopla. I'm only about 10% in, I think, but am enjoying it so far. It seems that I've gotten into a niche of reading books about women in WWII who are involved in covert operations.

We are expecting our first snowfall to arrive later today and have a quiet weekend planned, so I'm hoping to catch up on some rest and get a good amount of crafting done. I hope that whatever you have planned, it brings you joy!

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Recapping VKL

As I mentioned in my last post, I was away at the end of last week and for part of the weekend at Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus, Ohio, with my friend Lisa. When she first floated the idea to me, I wasn't sure I could go away again so soon after Rhinebeck, but looking at the course offerings convinced me. Plus, Lisa and I had a lot of fun last summer at TNNA, so I was definitely up for another girls weekend trip with her. I love learning new things, and this event was a perfect excuse to do just that.

Because I had finished up the baby sweater right before I left, I thought I'd use the drive to Columbus to knit up a coordinating hat. I'd seen several people knit up the From Where You Were Plucked baby hat recently, so I printed out the pattern and cast on in the car. It really should have taken me only a few hours to get through the hat (it's a newborn size, after all), but I was apparently too cocky about my ability to follow the pattern and completely misread it, resulting in my having to rip back to the start of the decreases not once but twice, meaning by the time I'd finished the hat on Friday evening I'd essentially knit it twice. Whatever -- it's done and it's cute, though I must say that I didn't expect it to look quite so phallic with the knot untied.



Though the pattern is sparse in its instructions, it's really not the fault of the designer that I messed it up so badly. I just didn't read! This sweet hat used less than a quarter skein of yarn, leaving me some leftovers for my granny square blanket. I have a feeling that it will be a go-to pattern moving forward.

While at VKL, I took three classes. First was a class on mosaic knitting with the always-charming Franklin Habit, who was delightful and highly informative despite having taken nine hours to get from Chicago to Columbus the prior day (eight of them spent sitting in O'Hare waiting for his delayed flight). Some of his samples didn't make it, but he improvised quite well and has gotten me hooked on mosaic knitting already -- I've since started a dishcloth project using some kitchen cotton and would be knitting it all the time were it not for the fact that my hands can't handle cotton for very long and I have to switch to wool after a while.

Pattern: Turkish Tiles Dishcloth

The second class was on the contiguous sleeve method with Amy Detjen, who taught us some useful knitting technique skills in addition to walking us through this novel method of sweater construction. We knit up a small version of a contiguous sweater in the course, and though it doesn't quite work as a sweater for Rainbow's American Girl Doll, it looks like we can make it work as a caplet, so I've kept it on the needles to add a bit more length.

Finally, Lisa and I both took a class with Maria of Ninja Chickens on the use of herbs for food, medicine, and dyeing. We learned about a series of common herbs and used three to dye some mini skeins of yarn that we got to take home.


These were dyed, from left to right, with elderberries, rosemary (with the addition of a metal salt to shift the color to be more green), and turmeric. I'm particularly enamored with that golden yellow from the turmeric, though apparently it's a color that fades over time.

We did wander through the market a bit, though I was not necessarily looking to buy anything (especially yarn), and I limited myself to two purchases:


The project bag is from Twisted Yarn and Fiber and has now become the container for my granny square blanket. Here's a closer look at what's sitting on top of the bag:


I'd been regretting not buying a pair of earrings from Birdie Parker at Indie Untangled at Rhinebeck, and luckily a vendor had them. There were only a few styles to choose from by the time I found them, so I went with these coppery garter stitch dangles. I've already worn them, too!

It made not have been the most restful weekend, but it was a fun one. Here's hoping it's an event that happens again next year!

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Recentering

I had a great time away at Vogue Knitting Live, but it's good to be home. Being away always throws off my internal schedule, and getting home right before we turn the clocks back didn't help any. There was a lot to catch up on at home today. Thankfully, for most of the day I had a quiet house, so in between scrubbing the bathroom and doing quite a few loads of laundry, I finished listening to an audiobook and spent some decent time at my wheel.


I'm still working on the Southern Cross BFL/silk I started last week and would estimate that I'm about half of the way through it. It's very meditative to sit and spin my default singles, and that was just what I needed. Tomorrow, it's back to the normal schedule for all of us!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

On the Road Again: 3TT

I feel like I only just got back from Rhinebeck, but in a little more than an hour I'll be headed out of town again, this time to go to Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus, Ohio, with my friend Lisa. Thankfully this trip is much more low key. We're driving there this afternoon, taking classes tomorrow and Saturday morning, and then headed back home Sunday afternoon. But because I have limited time, I'm making this post a 3 Things on Thursday post to keep it simple.

Thing 1: I finished a tiny sweater.
 I had just a bit of the second sleeve to finish up last night, and now it's blocking (hence why it's wet here).




This is the Newborn Vertebrae sweater, and I knit it pretty much exactly as the pattern specified with one little exception: When it was time to separate the arm and body stitches, I cast on two stitches under each arm to bridge the gap and then decreased those two extra stitches away in the first row/round of the body and sleeves. I used 59 g of the skein for the sweater, so it looks like I have enough leftover to make a matching hat. I'm taking that project with me to do in the car.

Thing 2: I finished a book.
Though I'm still listening to Milkman and have passed the halfway mark, two days ago my hold came up on Born a Crime, and I managed to devour that in two days. It was in many ways sad but I also laughed throughout and really enjoyed it.

Thing 3: This cute cookie wishes you a happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tiny Obsessions

For the past several days, I have been entirely smitten with knitting a tiny sweater. After finding out that a cousin by marriage had had her baby a few weeks early, I became a woman on a mission to knit up a quick baby gift. I'd already been planning to knit for this baby, but I thought I had more time. Still, a newborn-sized sweater takes hardly any time. I cast on this Newborn Vertebrae on Saturday afternoon, and I've worked on it during one lunch break and a couple of evenings -- and I'm already ready to bind off the ribbing around the collar and fronts.


The sleeves should take me very little time, so the sweater should be done and ready to be mailed off in the next day or two. I might also try to knit up a matching hat, if I have enough time (I'd like to have it all packaged up by the time I leave for VKL Columbus on Thursday so the Mister can mail it on Saturday). Though the baby arrived a little early, this sweater won't fit for long, so I want to make sure it gets there as soon as possible. I'm using a skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce that has been in my stash long enough that I don't even remember buying it! The colorway is called Poseidon's Love, and I'm really enjoying the two shades of blue between the shades of dark gray.

Since returning from Rhinebeck, I've also been obsessed with adding tiny balls of sock yarn leftovers to my crochet granny square blanket. It's grown a bit since you last saw it:


If you look closely, you can also see that my bag of leftover, which once was overflowing, now has some space in it. A lot of what's left in there is larger balls; I am trying to use up the smaller bits now before the rounds on this blanket get any bigger.

Reading had been a bit slow since last week, as I was waiting for several holds from the library, but I finally got to the front of the line for Milkman (on audio) over the weekend and am about a third of the way through it, and this morning I finally got notice that I've the ebook of Born a Crime waiting for me.

Finally, how about a not-so-tiny-anymore thing? We're getting closer to my brother's wedding, and the bridesmaids dresses -- with the exception of mine -- have all come in. Last night my brother dropped off Rainbow's dress.


Obviously she needs some alterations done, but I can't get over how old she suddenly looks. Can you believe my baby is almost a decade old?

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Familiarity

This weekend has been a normal weekend, inasmuch as any weekend can be normal. Both the Mister and I were at home. We had the usual chores and errands to do. We had no special plans. I was especially grateful to be able to sleep in and then fully savor my coffee yesterday morning.

In other ways, though, things felt different. Today marks one year since tragedy struck our community. Though in many ways it was just another day, it was also a day for remembrance, for reflection, and for service. Many have spoken of the extraordinary way the greater Pittsburgh community came together to support the Jewish community after the events of October 27, 2018. Our rabbi was among them, noting in his sermon this past Yom Kippur that the response was notable precisely because it was so opposite to the reactions of non-Jews to previous attacks. But that is Pittsburgh for you -- we are a city of neighbors. So it seemed fitting that today our community sponsored a day of service across the greater Pittsburgh area. There were blood drives and community clean-ups. There were people delivered homemade baked goods to first responders. There were meals cooked and served at soup kitchens. Shelves were stocked at food pantries. Cemeteries were tidied. Neighbors everywhere were welcomed, consoled, told that they were welcome. It was something beautiful to see.

After we all completed our projects (we packed backpacks with snacks and toys and notes of encouragement for unaccompanied minors in immigration court and helped to make fleece blankets for refugees resettled in the area), we returned home for our typical Sunday afternoon. I was craving some quiet time, so I listened to an audiobook and spent some time at my wheel, spinning the yarn that I spin when I don't have to think about it.


This is BFL/silk from Southern Cross Fibre from my most recent club shipment, a colorway called Scarlet Woods. It was dyed to match an inspiration photo posted in the SCF Ravelry group and is so reminiscent of the beautiful autumn colors we're seeing now. I'm enjoying it immensely, not just because of the color and the wonderfully prepped fiber but also because I'm spinning with no purpose in mind, and that is greatly freeing.

I hope you've had a weekend that has given you time to relax, to reflect, and to be grateful. I know I have.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Three Times Two

Contrary to what the title of this post might imply, it's not about math. Rather, because it's a Three on Thursday day, I have two sets of three things to share.

First, let's talk about the knitting. Because I'd finished up all my deadline knitting before leaving for Rhinebeck, I used the trip to start (and, in one instance, finish) some new projects. The smallest was actually started before I left, but I didn't like how it was knitting up and ripped back a bit before knitting the rest of the project. That's a wee hat for my nephew for Halloween.


I'm happy to knit for him anyway, but I thought I'd do triple duty with this hat by knitting him something for the season that would also count for two things in the Down Cellar Studio podcast Pigskin Party. One is a team competition involving a bingo card and NFL teams and their colors; I covered a square for the Bengals (or, as we call them here, the Bungles) with this hat. I also can count this toward the October Interception because I used a two-color cast on following this tutorial from Cori Eichelberger, aka Irocknits. On the trip home, I ripped back to the brim and then knit everything else -- it's quite satisfying to knit baby hats! I alternated three rounds in each color and for the body of the hat slipped every other stitch on the first round of each color. I really like the look of this and am sure to use it again, perhaps adjusting it a bit so that I continue to slip through the crown.

I also started a new pair of socks for Rainbow on the trip up, using the latest shipment from the Fibernymph Dye Works Just Desserts club. This colorway, Favorite Carrot Cake, wasn't really my style, but Rainbow happily grabbed it up, so I'm using it for knee socks for her, with the contrast skein for the heels and toes (and maybe the cuffs, if I have enough).


If you need any proof that knitting socks on size 1 needles (as opposed to my usual 0's) is fast, consider that I did all this in not very much time. You can see that there's quite enough yarn left; I split the skein in half when I wound it so I could knit until I ran out if I wanted to, but I have a feeling these will be plenty big before I run out of yarn. I've got about seven inches of leg knit above the heel and will likely do a couple of increases soon to accommodate her calf. I may also pause in this sock and knit the second to the same point so I can determine if I have enough of the contrast to do the cuffs.

Finally, I cast on a new design, which frankly isn't much to look at right now but has been some very relaxing knitting. I haven't done a top-down triangle shawl in a while, and it feels a bit like coming home.


The colors are very off here (we've reached that time of year when it's nearly impossible to get a decent photo), so trust me when I tell you that the colors are much more saturated and rich in real life. I'm using two colors of Dusty Tree DyeWorks Root (fingering weight) that I bought from Rebecca at Indie Knit and Spin last year. I've been saving these two skeins for something special and finally decided they would be perfect for this design. The second color, which is much more rusty than it looks here, will get introduce toward the bottom of the shawl.

For someone who allegedly doesn't like orange, there's quite a lot of it here, isn't there? I suppose I'm warming to it.

I've been working quite a lot on my crochet granny square blanket, but I will wait until the weekend to get a photo.

Now, on to the reading! I've finished (or nearly finished) three books in the past couple of weeks:
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption: This was a powerful and amazing read, though certainly difficult and heartbreaking at times. If you want to understand just how broken the criminal justice system is in this country, then you need to read this book. I gave it 5 very enthusiastic stars, and I'm looking forward to the discussion led by Bonny, Carole, and Kym.
  • The Nickel Boys: Colson Whitehead's writing is always enjoyable, and I'm always amazed at how he can seem to say so much with few words. The story, though fiction, is based on true events, and that makes it harder to read. It's not a happy book, but it is a powerful one. I gave it 4 stars.
  • The Dressmaker's Gift: This is my current read, and I think I will finish it today. I'm pretty sure it was an Amazon freebie, and I'd say it's just an okay read. If you know my reading habits at all, then you know that I tend to read a lot of WWII/Holocaust-era fiction and have fairly high standards for it. I'm not that impressed with this one because so far it seems a little far-fetched, but I'll withhold final judgment until I've finished it.
Head on over to Carole's to see what others are doing this Thursday!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What Day Is It?

What a weekend it was! Weekends away always mess with my internal schedule, but this weekend was exceptional. It was great fun but also greatly exhausting, so I expect I will be playing catch-up all week.

I think it's fair to say that we all had a great time at Rhinebeck. With the exception of some light showers on Sunday afternoon, the weather was spectacularly autumnal and perfect for sweaters. But the two days at the festival were also incredibly busy, even with an extra person in the booth to help out this year. I did not get out of the booth all weekend except to go to the bathroom once or twice each day, so I did not have a chance to visit any other buildings or see any other vendors at the fairgrounds. Not that that was a problem -- I certainly didn't have a need for any more yarn! But I also didn't come back from Rhinebeck empty-handed.


Aside from the festival t-shirt (that's the thing wrapped in plastic that looks like a postcard), which technically was purchased by Scooter Pie, I bought everything you see here at Indie Untangled or Needles Up, both of which occurred the day before the festival and were really my only chances to shop. As I said, I really didn't need anything, but I did decide to treat myself. The yarn at the top is, from left to right, self-striping from Must Stash Yarn, a purple variegated (to make something for Rainbow) from LolaBean Yarn Co., the MDSW colorway from Fibernymph Dye Works (because I never made it to Needles Up Maryland this year to get a skein), and four skeins of fingering weight singles from Lambstrings Yarn that I plan to use for the Stephen West mystery shawl that's currently in progress. I purchased a bar of wool soap to try and a lotion stick (in the Cider Donut scent, yummy!) from Tuft Woolens as well as two enamel pins from Nerd Bird Makery, a sloth in a tree for Rainbow and a "Nevertheless She Knitted" one for me.

New acquisitions aside, the best part of going to Rhinebeck was seeing people -- friends from near and far, podcasters, members of the "knitterati," and so forth. Here are a few photos I got (though I missed taking photos with some other people because I was a little awestruck, like Bristol Ivy, Kirsten Kapur, and Jenny and Nicole from the Stash and Burn podcast).


Top left: with Beth Smith and Amy King (aka Spunky Eclectic)
Top right: with Lisa Ross of Paper Daisy Creations
Bottom left: with Boston Jen (center) of the Down Cellar Studio podcast and her mom
Bottom right: with Caroline aka Dunderknit of the Knitting Vicariously podcast

As you can see, I did wear my new sweater all weekend, and one of the highlights of the weekend was when Kirsten Kapur stopped by the booth to say hi and told me that she thought the pattern was beautiful. She may have just been trying to be nice, but I was over the moon regardless!

Now it is back to reality for me. The Mister is away at another conference this week, so Rainbow and I are managing on our own and trying to get the house back in order. I've got lots of blog reading and e-mail to catch up on and laundry and house cleaning to do. And I will be back to my normal blogging routine later in the week!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Pattern Release: Public Works Pullover

One of the designer groups on Ravelry that I'm involved in is the Budding Designers group, and every year for the past several years we've had a thread in which we post our design goals for the year and then periodically check in. For 2019, I had two goals: Release 13 new patterns (which would get my portfolio to the magic number of 100 designs) and, as part of those 13, release a yoked colorwork sweater pattern. While I'm not quite at 100 designs for the year just yet, I am super excited about the new pattern I have to share with you today.


As you probably already know, I do a lot of walking. Partially it's because I hate to drive, but where we live it's actually easier and cheaper to walk many places than it is to drive and try to park. Because I walk many of the same places every day, the walk can get a bit boring, so I'm always on the lookout for interesting things, and some months ago I noticed that there are some manhole covers along my route to work that are really beautiful. They say that inspiration can strike at any time, and I suppose there are stranger things to inspire a sweater than manhole covers!


I've been working on this pattern for several months now and am completely delighted with how it turned out. I've abstracted the metalwork that first inspired me into repeating geometric motifs that appear in the yoke, at the bottom of the body, and at the wrists. My goal was to create a sweater that was comfy, like an well-worn sweatshirt, and I think I've achieved that. The body is straight (though you can add waist shaping if you like), and the sleeves are fitted but not tight. I can comfortably wear a layer under this sweater and still feel like I have room to move.


The yarn I used for the sample is pretty special. This is naturally colored Shetland from the Ross Farm -- the lighter color is from a sheep named Marigold and the darker from a sheep named Lindy. These farmers (who I'm also happy to call friends) specialize in rare and heritage breeds, and all their yarns are undyed, minimally processed, and breed specific -- and my favorite thing is that each skein of yarn comes with a photo on the sheep who grew the fleece on the label! Their Shetland yarn is one of my absolutely favorites to knit with. It's the softest Shetland I've ever felt, for one thing, but because it's minimally processed, it also still has a little bit of lanolin in it and smells delightfully sheepy. The three-ply Shetland yarn used to be labeled sport weight, but I noticed when I was adding the pattern to Ravelry that it's now listed as a DK, and it certainly knits up well at a DK gauge, so I've recommended a DK or at least a heavy sport in the pattern.


I've tried to make the sizing on this sweater as inclusive as possible, so the 11 finished sizes range from 30.5 in./76.5 cm up to 59 in./147.5 cm, with 2-4 in./5-10 cm recommended ease. (For reference, I'm wearing a size 37 in./92.5 cm finished size with roughly 2 in./5 cm ease.) There are optional short rows to raise the back of the sweater, and certainly there's a lot of flexibility in the body to add shaping or add or subtract length.


This sweater will be making its debut in the Ross Farm booth at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck) this weekend in Building 22-U. Provided the weather cooperates, I'll be wearing it, and there will be plenty of Shetland yarn if you want to make one of your own in the same yarn! If you can't make it to Rhinebeck this year, you can still get the pattern on Ravelry, and this weekend only, it's available for 25% off with the coupon code RHINEBECK. Hop on over to get it now!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

In Which I Start to Lose My Mind

Friends, the way I can tell that it's Rhinebeck week and I am not at all prepared is by how crazy I have gotten with the knitting. But first, for anyone who was concerned about my finishing in time, let me ease your mind with this photo:


Sorry for scarring your retinas this early in the day; I snapped this just as I was about to wrap them. These, obviously, are my father's birthday socks, finished over breakfast yesterday morning and then quickly treated to a citric acid treatment and a block. I worked on them as much as I could over the weekend, but there were enough errands and chores to do that I only managed to get to halfway through the toe by the time I was off to bed on Sunday evening. Thankfully I had a bit of extra time yesterday morning because Rainbow was off from school for an in-service day and spent the day at the office with me, so we didn't need to leave the house quite as early as normal. I did give myself a bit of a heart attack when I managed to somehow yank all the stitches off the needles as I was in the process of grafting the toe of that second sock, but I got everything mostly back in place and thankfully black yarn hides all manner of goofs (not to mention that my father will never know the difference if the graft isn't perfect). So they are done and blocked and ready to be presented to my father at dinner tonight. I used 87 g of my skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce for these, leaving me some leftovers to add to my crochet blanket.

After finishing the socks, I got to that point where I felt like I had to cast on all the things -- I mean, I do have a lot of hours in the car coming up later this week, and I'll need some variety while I'm away! Yesterday at lunch I started a new hat for my nephew:


Despite the fact that the darker color looks blue here (bad early morning light, sorry), it's actually black, the same black as in the socks. I'm using two half skeins of FDW Traveler (sport weight) that were in my grab back to make a Halloween-ish hat. I used a new-to-me cast on for the brim, and once I get through the twisted ribbing, I'll be doing stripes with the two colors with some slipped stitches for interest.

I also started another little project last night, and this one I'm hoping to wrap up before I leave on Thursday. Remember that cute hat with the leaf on it? I'm making a pair of mittens to match.


I'm using the Snow Day Mittens pattern, with the leftover green from the hat for the cuffs and non-superwash blue yarn for the hands. I knit this entire mitten, including weaving in the ends, last night, so I think I can reasonably expect to finish the pair before I leave Thursday morning.

There will be more new projects cast on while I'm on the trip. Yarn has been wound and just needs to be put in project bags with appropriate needles.


The two skeins on the left are the latest shipment from the FDW Just Desserts club that I'm using for socks for Rainbow (toe up, which is why I've already divided it in half so I can knit until I basically run out of yarn). The mini skein in the center will be used for contrasting heels and toes. The blue and copper-y skeins on the right are from Dusty Tree Dyeworks and will be used for a new shawl design. (Rebecca also makes amazing soap and wool wash, by the way!)

As if all the knitting isn't scatterbrained enough, reading has also been less than focused. I'm nearly finished with Just Mercy and hope to get through the last 25 or so pages tonight. I also got notice over the weekend that my hold was up on The Nickel Boys from the library, so I started that yesterday as well. At least I should get some good reading time this weekend when I need a break from knitting!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Well That Was Satisfying!

When you finish a big project, sometimes you need a quick and easy follow-up. And the spinning project I just finished definitely fit the bill.


It's still wet, but it's done! This is the Romney I won during Camp Spin 15 this summer, and it's now been plied and washed. I don't expect it to bloom much, if at all, so it looks like the finished yarn will be about DK weight overall. It's a bit uneven and certainly not as smooth and consistent as my typical three-ply fingering, but it was so satisfying to finish this skein as quickly as I did that I don't care. And plying this up in about an hour today felt like a good way to round out the weekend.

Normally Sunday nights are a bit depressing (really, does anyone like Mondays?), but this is going to be a short week -- Rhinebeck week! -- and Rainbow is coming to the office with me tomorrow because it's an in-service day at her school. Even if I'm busy, it's so much more fun to have her there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a sock to finish!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Finished and Finishing

Having a holiday and a day off in the middle of the week really throws off my schedule, but I'm pretty sure today is Thursday and one of my regular blogging days.

Yesterday went fairly well; I find that it's easier to fast as I get older, and I think I sufficiently hydrated on Tuesday so I didn't get the horrible dehydration headache I usually get. My only side effects, as it were, from fasting were that I was really cold and really tired. I was actually too tired to knit at the end of the day, if you can believe it!

Yom Kippur, like all Jewish holidays, begins in the evening, at sundown, and there's a really beautiful service that opens it that begins with a prayer called Kol Nidre (here's a video if you'd like to hear it). The service my parents and brother went to started at 6 p.m., so we were in a rush to eat our big pre-fast meal so they could get there on time. We stayed at their house to clean up the dinner for them and then headed home, where we were able to watch the service at our synagogue online. While we watched, I was able to finish up this sweet little project:


Pattern: Little Worsted Sock Arms by Stephanie Lotven, size 6-12 months
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Mountain Tweed DK (85% wool/15% nylon) in a OOAK green and Bona Fide (100% superwash merino) in Pizza Pi(e)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) and US 5 (3.75 mm)
Started/Completed: September 29/October 8

This was a fun knit, though I'll readily admit it was rather fiddly because there are a lot of ends to weave in and not much space in which to weave them. I also substituted a DK yarn, which worked okay, but the fabric is a little loose for my taste. It works fine for a little sweater, but I'm planning to knit one of these for Rainbow eventually and will be sure to use a true worsted for hers.

My favorite part about this sweater is the sleeves. The yarn is dyed so that the stripes follow the digits of pi, so it's completely non-repeating and thus I didn't need to worry about trying to get them to match. The colors in this version are meant to represent common pizza toppings: red/brown for pepperoni or sausage, taupe for mushrooms, white for onions, green for green peppers, and black for black olives. There's a significant amount of yarn left, so I'll likely use it to make a hat, either for my nephew or to add to the charity pile.

Now that this is off the needles, I've turned all my attention to finishing up my father's birthday socks, and it's getting down to the wire. I've only just finished the first sock.


Ideally I will finish the second by the end of the weekend, because the black dye has been coming off on my fingers as I knit (pretty common for very saturated colors), so I want to give the finished socks a citric acid soak before I gift them and will need to allow time for them to dry after they're washed.

In my reading, I am very close to finishing up the Inspector Gamache I've been listening to and should be able to put it on my "read" shelf by the end of the day. I'm about a third of the way through Just Mercy and enjoying it quite a lot; I hope to make serious headway on it this weekend when I can stay up a little later to read. I've also been keeping an eye on my holds from the library, and it looks like I'll be getting The Nickel Boys in the next few days. At least that one I'll be able to read while I knit!

This weekend is my 20th high school reunion -- crazy! Because it's a small school, there's not a big to-do, but there are activities at the school on Friday and Saturday, so Rainbow and I are attending a few on Saturday. It is her school now, too, so it should be fun to go together!

Also on tap for the weekend? Going through the photos from last weekend's sweater pattern photo shoot and getting the pattern ready to launch next week!

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Wool Weather

Botanically printed sidewalk on the way to work

Though I first noticed it over the weekend, the beginning of the new week has formally announced the arrival of autumn. Yesterday was cool and rainy, and all day I felt like I couldn't get warm and my nose wouldn't stop running. I was thankful for the knit shawl I brought with me to work!

I am nearly done with my nephew's sweater; tonight should see the completion of the second sleeve and the final weaving in of ends. Then all I will need to do is find and sew on a button for it to be finished!


As soon as the sweater is done, I will turn all my focus to my father's socks, as I now have only a week until his birthday. While I'm sure he wouldn't mind an IOU, I'd like to give him a completed pair, and realistically if I focus I shouldn't have much trouble doing it.


I'm currently at five inches for the foot and need to get to eight before I start the toe.

Tonight marks the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. That means I will be fasting from after dinner tonight until dinnertime tomorrow. Fasting always makes me cold, so I expect that when we get home from services, I'll be curled up under a blanket for the rest of the day. I might manage a little knitting or spinning, but really it's a day for rest and reflection (and then, once the fast is over, for some serious rehydration -- I can manage just fine with the not eating, but it's the lack of water that really gets to me!). See you back here on Thursday!

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Autumn, Officially

After several days last week that felt like mid-July rather than October, I am happy to report that autumn has officially arrived here in Western Pennsylvania. Friday was comfortably cool (I wore a wool cardigan all day and only got a little warm on my walk in to work), and Saturday when the Mister and I lined up for the start of another 5K race, it was a balmy 42F! I wore wool socks yesterday and made soup and apple crisp for dinner tonight, and it feels wonderful!

I hadn't done any spinning since finishing my big project last weekend, but Friday nights I usually spend at my wheel, watching podcasts and spinning. So this past Friday evening I did just that, starting a new project -- some Romney fiber dyed by Sherrill that I won for Camp Spin 15 this summer. I divided the fiber into thirds for a traditional three ply, and while I originally intended to spin some sock yarn, it's not being terribly cooperative as far as spinning as fine as I'd need to, so I'm just going with it. The first bobbin is already done.


The fiber was dyed in shades of blue and green, with a bit of white in there as well, so there's some nice blending happening.

I've already started the second bobbin and have made good progress, and considering that I'm likely to do some spinning on Wednesday while I'm off work for Yom Kippur (anything requiring thinking or counting doesn't work so well with fasting, so spinning is typically a good activity), there's a good chance I'll have this off the wheel by this time next weekend.

It's been a really good fall weekend here, though too short, as always. The race went well yesterday (my time wasn't quite as good as my PR last week, but it was close, and I ran the whole course for the first time), we got to go out to dinner with some friends, and I've had some time to read and rest. I did finish up Eleanor Oliphant Friday and really enjoyed it, so now I'm back to reading Just Mercy. I'm expecting another library hold in two weeks or so, giving me enough time (I hope) to finish the other three books I'm in the middle of at the moment. I also got my sweater pattern off to my tech editor, so I now have that weight off my shoulders, and I'm looking forward to Rhinebeck. See why I love this time of year?