Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Hello, Summer

Technically summer has arrived, but it is feeling a bit more like fall here this morning. We had some strong thunderstorms move through yesterday afternoon and evening (and thankfully we only saw heavy rain and the power stayed on), and behind it came some much cooler air -- we are only expecting to get to a high in the mid-60s today. That's just fine by me, though, after the sticky weekend we had.

Today is my last day of work this month, if you can believe it. My employer temporarily removed the cap on vacation time accrual during the pandemic, but it goes back on at the end of this month, so that means that if I want to acquire any more time, I needed to take about six days off. I rarely take vacation time under normal circumstances (usually a few days around Maryland Sheep and Wool and Rhinebeck, plus a day or two on either end of our end-of-year Florida trip), so it feels like a real treat to take time off for no reason! The Mister is resuming work travel beginning this week, though, so it will be good to have the time to spend with Rainbow. And we're also all going on a quick trip up to Michigan to visit my aunt and uncle for July 4 weekend after not having seen them since December 2019. After today, I won't have to log back into my work email until July 6!

And if that's not enough to be excited about, I'm also going to get my first haircut since, I think, November 2019 this evening! I gave myself a trim last summer, but I really need a professional to do it and feel comfortable going back to the salon now that I'm vaccinated.

But I'm guessing you didn't stop by to hear about all that -- you're here for the yarny stuff, aren't you? I haven't made a ton of progress, but I do have some photos to share.

I am just starting the fourth stripe on my ADVENTuresome Wrap, and the reason I haven't gotten much farther is not from a lack of time working on it but rather because I've devoted a good chunk of that time to weaving in ends. There are SO MANY ends to deal with on this project. Obviously there are two from each mini skein. But I've also been joining and then breaking the neutral yarn that's worked between each stripe each time, so that's been two more ends to deal with. I'm going to keep it connected and carry it up the side for the next stripe so see how that goes in the hope that I can eliminate at least some of this extra work. I've also lost a little bit of time to tinking back more than once because no matter how many times I remind myself, I seem to always forget that there are several rows in each pattern repeat that involve decreases worked on the wrong side. This is really not a hard pattern, but my brain has a tendency to go into autopilot mode far too easily. I'm hoping now that I am working on this more regularly, I will actually start to remember what to do.

I've also started my nephew's blanket, and that, at least, shows progress quickly. I can manage about a skein of yarn per crochet session; the tan and green, for instance, were added during this past Sunday's Zoom session. My plan here is to use up as much of each skein as I can until I don't have enough to complete another row (I want the stripes to be solid, so I'm only changing them at the beginning of a row). The second of three dark brown skeins will form the center stripe, and the color order will be mirrored on the second half of the blanket.

I haven't cast on any new projects, though I did restart the hat with the too-big brim (but I'm only a few rounds in). I think some new socks will get started next week in anticipation of the car trip, and pretty soon the baby knitting will commence because we'll find out if my nibling is a boy or a girl on July 7!

I'll be back tomorrow with less hair and more chat. Happy summer!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Star Light, Star Bright

First Star -- I finished it last night! And that's the last of the awful poetry you'll get from me today. Instead, let's talk handspun, because the third skein for my sweater is now done, washed, and dry:

First Star was dyed on a South African superfine base (think really soft merino), and I spun it into a three-ply fingering weight, getting about 400 yards from 117 g. The fiber was mostly blues, some a medium shade, some an intense inky shade, with just a few pops of purple. I decided not to mess around with splitting up the colors on this one to help maintain my sanity, and I can honestly say that I can't tell the difference in how the colors mixed between this skein and the last one, when I did micromanage the color handling. So I'll be taking the simpler approach going forward.

I now have almost 1,200 yards of yarn in the three skeins I have spun, but I will need about 1,500 total, and I also think I'll want to change yarns frequently so I have sufficient contrast to see the pattern. 

June's Southern Cross Fibre shipment is another blue that will likely be mixed in with these three as a base color. But I think I need a pop of contrast to mix in, so I pulled two bags of fiber from my stash as contenders. One is Rambouillet that came last month (remember how it reminded me of a book cover?), and Rambo will play nicely with the merino and SASF I've used already. The other possibility is a semisolid called Bougainvillea on a blend of 75% Bond wool/25% Suri alpaca. The pinky purple really goes well with the purple in First Star, I think.

Chances are I'll end up spinning up both -- I am still trying to spin all the SCF backlog! -- but I'm contemplating which one to start next. And I think this spinning bug has hit me hard, because when I was looking through my bag of SCF stash, I noticed quite a lot of colorways that lean heavily toward green, so don't be surprised if I keep spinning even after I'm finished with enough yardage for one sweater and end up with enough for a second!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

What to Make Next

I double-checked the calendar and confirmed that today is actually Thursday (the craziness of the power outage had me thinking it was Thursday two days ago!), so it's time to link up with Carole and friends for Three on Thursday.

After I finished my sweater and my brother's socks, I found myself without any active WIPs. I did end up pulling out my long-languishing ADVENTuresome Wrap (Ravelry link) that I started back in January with my Fibernymph Dye Works holiday minis set from the 2020 holiday season, and I've now finished two repeats -- 22 more to go!

The blue that's been wound into a ball is next.

While I want to finish this project this summer, it's knitting that I have to pay close attention to, so it's not good for knitting while reading. I really need some fairly mindless projects, and I like to have a variety of projects in progress at once so I can pick something to match my mood or the situation. So here are three projects I'm thinking of starting soon.

1. A pair of socks for my sister-in-law
I don't know that everyone in the family will be getting hand-knit socks for the holidays again, but my sister-in-law has been so enthusiastic about the two pairs that I've knit her that she is permanently on the list. She also has pretty small feet, so knitting socks for her feels very easy. I bought two skeins of OOAK self-striping from FDW recently, and this one really looks like my SIL's colors:

2. More charity hats/cowls
My giant bag of scraps has been sitting in front of me and hasn't gotten any smaller (though I have added some fingering scraps to it), so I think it's time to start knitting some charity items again. It would be great to have a big stack to donate this fall when they're needed!

3. A new blanket for my nephew
I don't expect he'll give up his well-loved knit blanket, but I thought it would be nice to make him another to have an alternative when the original needs to be washed. Years ago, I bought up a bunch of skeins of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton when it was discontinued. I intended to use it for a sweater for Rainbow when she was a baby but never got around to it. I'm not a huge fan of knitting with cotton because it's hard on my hands, but crocheting might be a different story. So I'm thinking of using it for a corner-to-corner blanket.

What does everyone have planned for the weekend? We're having a family birthday party tomorrow evening -- my mother-in-law's birthday is today and my mother's is tomorrow -- and I'm sure we'll do something for the Mister for Father's Day. I'm also signed up to donate blood tomorrow, and I'm excited that the drive is happening on the campus of the college where I work so I don't have to drive. The Red Cross has been testing donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies since the start of the pandemic, so we'll see if the vaccine has done its job!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Unraveled, Week 24/2021

Good morning and happy Wednesday! It feels to me like it should already be Friday with how crazy the start of the week was, but I am just about caught up and ready for my weekly knitting and reading check-in with Kat and the Unravelers.

In addition to my sweater, I also finished my brother's socks over the weekend (while I was at his house, in fact, though I waited until I was home to weave in the ends and block, so I haven't yet given them to him)!

I didn't really follow a pattern for these, but I knit them toe-up with a US 1/2.25 mm needle starting with Judy's Magic Cast On, increased to 70 stitches, and worked a Fish Lips Kiss Heel. I then knit the leg until I had about two stripes' worth of yarn remaining, worked 3x2 ribbing for those two stripes, and did a stretchy bind-off in pattern. The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Gettin' Crabby, which was the special colorway for Needles Up Maryland in 2019. I am very thankful that Lisa's skeins are typically a bit more than 100 g, because the two socks weigh 100 g exactly! These ended up so big that they were bigger even than my large sock blockers. But now I know that I can get a pair of socks for my brother out of one skein of yarn. Next time I might try cuff down with a heel flap.

There has been a little unraveling here this morning, but it's related to design work and thus not unexpected. While I was working on Monday and needed something to keep my hands busy amid all the anxiety of the power outage I started a hat and got as far as finishing the hemmed brim:

I was very happy with the look of it, but despite my math seeming to be right, it's way too big. So I ripped it out and will be trying again with a smaller needle. No big deal!

I've had another good week of reading and achieved my first bingo!

I have finishing three books since last week and very likely will finish another later today.

I had picked up The Ardent Swarm through the Amazon First Reads program earlier in the year, so I didn't have huge expectations for it. It was an okay read. It's supposed to be an allegorical story about how Islamic fundamentalism takes hold in a country, but frankly I enjoyed it more as a straightforward story about beekeeping. There are parts about the political situation that were a bit too obvious for me to consider this a true allegory. It was a fast read, though, and it filled a bingo square nicely. I gave it 3 stars.

Bingo square: Translation


I had read Charlie Lovett's The Bookman's Tale previously and enjoyed it, so I picked up First Impressions with pretty high expectations. I'm sorry to say it fell a little flat for me. In my review, I called this Jane Austen fan fiction and a beach read for Austen lovers. This is a book that you really can't take too seriously, not only because of the fairly preposterous plot but also because the main character in the present-day story line is fairly ridiculous. I think I mentioned in my review on the blog of The Bookman's Tale that it was obvious it was written by a man, and that holds true here -- we're really expected to believe that an Oxford-educated woman is more guided by her libido than her common sense? Still, it was a fun little diversion. I gave it 3 stars.

Bingo square: Set in more than one time period

I had been patiently waiting for Unsettled Ground from the library for weeks and it finally became available on Sunday. I started it Sunday afternoon, and it should tell you just how immersive this read is that I finished it first thing yesterday morning despite all the craziness surrounding the power outage and a very busy work day on Monday. I know the description doesn't sound particularly exciting, but this book is an excellent character study, and I plowed through it because I wanted to know what would happen to these characters. A lot of it is very sad, so be prepared for that, but I really did it enjoy it. I gave it 4 stars.

Bingo square: Borrowed

I am still reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and really need to set aside some time to focus on it. It's a dense book with small print, and it really is not working well for before-bed reading. I also started Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space yesterday and expect to finish it today. It's an excellent and very timely read. I'm trying to finish it up not only because I'm really enjoying it but also because all my holds seem to be coming up and I've already had to delay a couple of them. It never rains but it pours, am I right?

How about you? What are you working on and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The 28-Day Sweater

First, let me thank you all for the good thoughts and let you know that our power was restored shortly after 9 last night! The houses on our street were the last ones in our neighborhood still without power by the end of yesterday, and we heard an audible cheer from our neighbors (which we joined in on) when the lights came back on. I have newfound respect for the utility workers who were fixing all the downed lines; to fix the line that was causing the outage for us, the workers had to basically rappel down the hillside at the end of our dead-end street and negotiate some pretty dense foliage.

I also was very grateful that all we lost was the power and a fridge/freezer of food when I went on my walk this morning and saw some really bad damage to houses and at least one crushed car in the neighborhood. We are truly lucky that replacing the food was not a major hardship and that we were able to be at my parents' for the day and continue with work as usual!

I am posting a bit later in the day than usual because there has been a lot to catch up on after the very odd start to the street. I also took Rainbow to the orthodontist first this this morning so they could do all the imaging required to order the first appliance she'll get, so breakfast and my morning computer time was a bit rushed. I dropped her off at my parents' to hang out with them for the day and then did a Trader Joe's run so we'd have most of what was lost, including dinner for tonight and milk so that I don't have to drink my coffee black another day (blech!). I was hoping she'd be home earlier in the day to take some photos for me, but I guess they're having a lot of fun and I didn't want to wait too much longer, so please forgive the fact that you're getting selfies, which I am admittedly not very skilled at taking (I guess I'll never have a career as an Instagram influencer!).

I think all the time spent knitting with Mary during our Sunday Zoom sessions has rubbed off on me, because I actually did knit a fingering weight sweater in 28 days!

Pattern: Threipmuir by Ysolda Teague, size 3 (37.75 in./94 cm chest circumference), no waist shaping
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Ridgetop Fingering (80% Romney/20% Falkland) in Peacock (blue), Wisp (gray), and Lime (green)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 2.5 (3.0 mm)
Started/Completed: May 16/June 12
Mods: shortened the sleeves; worked two extra rounds on the collar

This project was a delight from start to finish. I'd been planning it for quite some time, even so far as to buy the yarn for it last year, so it felt really good to get it knit. As I hope you can tell from the photos, the fit is just as I'd hoped: enough positive ease to be able to wear something underneath but not so much that it's a shapeless sack on me. I've got between 2 and 3 inches of positive ease at the fullest part of my bust, and I've realized in the past year or so that that is my ideal.

Despite how this photo might make them appear, my arms are not that long, so I omitted some plain rounds after the final sleeve decreases and went right into the ribbing for the cuff. I generally like my sleeves to hit the top of my hands and fully cover my wrists, and these turned out just right. Had I worked the 12 even rounds called for in the pattern, the sleeves would likely have come down to my knuckles, and knowing that I am rather a klutz, this would mean I'd be dragging my sleeves through my food regularly or else having to fold them up, which is not the polished look I was going for. I also added an extra two rounds to the collar because my row gauge was a tad off and the number of rounds called for in the pattern seemed a little skimpy to me.

While I admit that when I first started the colorwork I was a bit disappointed at the low contrast between the green and the gray, it has grown on me. I think a darker shade of either of the two contrast colors would have made for poor contrast with the blue, and I'm finding that I don't mind more subtle contrast these days because it seems a bit less in your face.

I was a tiny bit worried about playing yarn chicken with my main color at the outset, but looking at other projects on Ravelry and the amount of yarn used by other knitters who had made the next size larger reassured me. And I really had nothing to worry about, because I ended up using just a bit more than 1,000 yards/925 meters of the blue (and I had 1,200 total to start). I used really negligible amounts of the contrast colors as well -- 88 yards/80.5 meters of the gray and 76 yards/69.5 meters of the green.

This was the first Ysolda sweater I've knit, but it certainly will not be my last. It was an extremely well-written pattern that had so many options built in -- regular yoke or broad yoke, regular length or long length, with waist shaping or not -- plus a range of 16 sizes from 32.25 in./81 cm up to 72.25 in./181 cm. Well worth the money I paid for it! Incidentally, I see Ysolda's patterns are on sale on her site at the moment, just in case you're tempted!

If you'll give me one more moment to gush, I have to talk about the yarn. I've used it twice before, for a pair of socks and a hat, but this is my first garment out of it -- of at least two, because I have another sweater's quantity in the stash. This is definitely a toothy wool, and it's coarser than your typical superwash merino. I really like it, though, and while it's a touch scratchy to some of my more sensitive areas, it did soften with being washed and I know that it will wear well. And that's a really good thing, because I plan to wear the heck out of this sweater later this year when the cold weather returns!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Spinning on Monday, Thwarted by Nature

Monday, Monday. Most of you who are regular readers will know that I don't usually post on Mondays but I do usually put up a spinning post on Sunday. And I was planning to do that yesterday evening, as I had an unexpectedly busy day -- first the annual meeting at our synagogue, then my usual walk, then watching In the Heights with Rainbow and my brother and sister-in-law. But a crazy storm blew in just after we got home, with high winds and even hail, and at around 6 p.m., the power went out. And it's still out. The poor Mister had to go into his office because there were all sorts of (metaphorical) fires to put out related to the storm and power outages and didn't get back until 4 a.m. So Rainbow and I have decamped to my parents', where there is power and air conditioning, and I'm playing a little catch-up.

I don't have a ton of spinning to share because I spent so much time last week focusing on finishing my Threipmuir (spoiler alert: it's done, and you can expect an FO post tomorrow). But I have started my next skein for my handspun Shifty spin. This is the first bobbin of singles of Southern Cross Fibre South African Superfine in the colorway First Star:

Rather than faffing about with the colors this time, I just split the top into three roughly equal pieces, so this will be a much more relaxing spin. I hope to give it some more attention this week.

In the meantime, I've had some stash enhancement recently that I can share to make up for the lack of spinning content. First, I received my Tour de Fleece shipment from Jill at HipStrings. This year she offered three options for hand-carded batts: a rainbow set, a set of neutrals, or a set custom blended for you based upon your previous orders. I went with the last option, and these are the gorgeous batts I received:

When I saw these, I knew right away where Jill had gotten her inspiration! I have a total of 12 oz. to spin, and I think these would work very nicely toward another sweater, perhaps with a neutral to tie them together.

I also received the May 2021 SCF club shipment (it arrived quickly again, so here's hoping the mail issues are over!):

The colorway is called Sunrise Sunset (yes, every time I read it or think it, I get the Fiddler on the Roof song in my head!), and it's on South African Superfine. I love it!

I hope your Monday is off to a better start than mine. Please keep your fingers crossed that my power comes back on before the day is out!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Always Room for Good News

As I've done on previous Thursdays, I'm joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday with three things making me happy today.

Happy Thing 1: The roofing work is done!
The finishing touches were put on this past Tuesday, and later that day the port-o-potty company came to retrieve the Turdis (well, they actually relocated it up to the street, because our neighbors are now getting their roof replaced by the same crew). That meant that for the first time in many weeks, we were able to put our cars in the garage. That may not seem like such a big thing, but we live on a narrow dead-end street, so there's not a lot of spare space on the street to park. We had to do a lot of car Tetris to ensure that we weren't blocking anyone.

A view of the finished garage roof

Happy Thing 2: I have the day off tomorrow!
I get two personal days a year, and they expire at the end of our fiscal year, which is at the end of June. I never end up using them during the year and so usually take two random days off in June. Tomorrow Rainbow and I are going to hang out. We have plans to go to the craft store and maybe look at some ideas for her new bedroom (she's planning to move up to the third floor at the end of the summer), and if we have time left, we might even make our first trip to the library since before the pandemic.

Happy Thing 3: I finished a sleeve!

As you can see, I'm also well on my way on sleeve #2, so I expect this project to be wrapped up in a matter of days.

I hope you're finding some happy things to make you smile and that you have a wonderful weekend!