Friday, September 23, 2022

Like Flipping a Switch

It's Friday(!) and the first full day of autumn, my favorite season. I've been waiting for cooler weather and crisper air, but it seems Mother Nature has taken it to the extreme: When we got up this morning, it was 42 F outside! Considering that's a decent temperature for a winter day here, I'm not feeling too enthusiastic. It is supposed to warm up to the low 60s, though, and I'm not feeling too bad about the fact that I have some work to do first thing this morning and need to postpone my run until mid-morning.

I'm finishing up the week with a finished skein of handspun, though final yardage has not yet been calculated because it's still a bit damp (I skeined and washed it last night). I'm delighted with it, though.

This is a traditional three-ply spun from more of the "bits and bobs" HipStrings batts from this year's Tour de Fleece. This skein used all the green and blue batts in my bag, and I spun them in a gradient-ish fashion from lightest to darkest. You can see there's a fair amount of color in there from bits of silk, a dimension I just love. I'll have full details once the skein is dry and I have specs.

I got some new yarn this week but I didn't buy it -- and what's better than new yarn but free new yarn? This arrived Wednesday, right in the middle of a fairly boring conference call:

This was a prize from the Unraveling podcast, hosted by Pam and Greg. Every month they do a random drawing from their monthly chat thread, and in August, I was the lucky chatter whose post was picked! The podcast is sponsored by Knitcrate, so my prize was one of the previous shipments. This is URU.Yarn Asher, a chainette sport weight that's a blend of cotton, linen, Lyocell (rayon), and nylon, in the colorway Cucumber. It feels soft and silky, not unlike the Lindy Chain I just used in my last sweater! I've already decided to use this to knit myself a Rift (Ravelry link) with it; I have plenty of yarn for the smallest size, which is conveniently the right size for me.

Today, once work and run are complete, will be an easy day. I'm taking the afternoon off because we have a cupcake tasting for the bat mitzvah scheduled this afternoon, but because that's not until after school, I will have a few hours to read, knit, spin, or nap, depending on what mood strikes me. I hope you enjoy the first weekend of autumn, and inspired by Katie, I'll leave you with this late bloom on one of our hydrangeas:

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Unraveled, Week 38/2022

Wednesday again, already? Does anyone else feel like the days are going faster as we get further into the year? It's a good thing I have this day in the middle of every week to pause and link up with Kat and the Unravelers!

Now that my sweater is finished, my main goal for the rest of this month is to finish up this sock:

As I think you can tell from all the twisted stitches and cabling, this is not a quick knit. I got through the first one as fast as I did mainly because I was stuck in a room when the Mister had COVID and I was anxious about him, so I channeled that anxiety into my knitting. I think I should be able to get this done in this last bit of September, though, and I'm looking forward to having a fancy new pair of socks to wear once the temperatures drop.

I've done a bit of sewing recently, too. Rainbow was the impetus for us to stop using paper napkins a while back, though I've still been using them in her lunch. When we went to Michaels last weekend to fill her kitchen cotton needs, she also spotted a bundle of fat quarters of quilter's cotton featuring some sloth prints that she had to have (have I mentioned she has long been obsessed with sloths?), and she asked me to make her some smaller cloth napkins to take in her lunchbox. I did some very basic sewing to whip up five of them over the weekend:

With the exception of the dark blue print on the left, these all have different fabric on each side. They were dead easy to make -- cut out two squares, hold them together with right sides facing and stitch around the edges (leaving a gap on one side), trim the corners, turn them inside out through the gap, press, and top stitch. Are they perfect? No. But they are very functional and very cute, and Rainbow is delighted with them. The fabric cost maybe $12 for five fat quarters, and I think I spent less than two hours measuring, cutting, and sewing. Not bad!

Reading has been a little slower this week; I've only finished one book.

I once again was in need of an audiobook to keep me company while I was exercising and cleaning over the weekend, and luckily the next book I had to read in the Maisie Dobbs series was available with no wait. As the title suggests, Among the Mad deals largely with mental health issues, and they are central to both the case Maisie is pulled into and the the lives of some of the series' peripheral characters. This book takes place at the very end of 1931 and the very beginning of 1932, and there are still echoes of the first World War being felt, even as the rumbling of what will turn into the second are beginning. I enjoyed this a lot and can see that Maisie is likely headed toward less work with the police and more work with intelligence. I gave it 4 stars.

I am still reading The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, though I'm at least more than halfway through. I also now officially own the two other books that I have left to read on the Booker short list, Glory and The Trees. I've got a long weekend coming up (Rosh Hashanah starts Sunday evening), and I hope to make some headway on that list because I'd really like to have all the finalists read by the time the award winner is announced on October 17 -- and there are other books I'd like to read soon, too, like the copy of The Marriage Portrait I picked up at my local bookstore over the weekend!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 19, 2022

A True Everyday Sweater

I promised you a real FO post, and here it is -- I love this sweater so much!

Pattern: Quotidian Tee by Kerri Blumer, size 34" with short sleeves, A-line body, and mid-hip length
Yarn: Knit Picks Lindy Chain in Serrano, 4.84 skeins (871 yds./797 m)
Needles: US 3/3.25 mm
Started/Completed: August 17/September 15

I'm so glad I got a chance to preview-knit this pattern for Kerri; when I saw her version on Instagram, I knew it was a pattern I had to knit. As the name suggests, this is truly an everyday sweater. The pattern has so many options (seriously -- click over to her website and scroll down to read all the different options!) that even though it seems like a basic tee, it can be customized in so many ways. I knew I was going to use a summery yarn for this, so I chose options that would make a comfy warm-weather tee: short sleeves and an A-line body for a relaxed fit. And "relaxed" is truly how I felt when I wore this on Saturday (those of you who were on a Zoom with me that afternoon might have noticed I was wearing it!). The pattern is extremely well written and has so many thoughtful details: shaped shoulders that are joined with a three-needle bind-off (so there's no seaming), short-row sleeve cap shaping, twisted ribbing for the edges, and a simple purl round that separates the ribbing from the stockinette. My only modification (if you can even call it that) was to work a slightly different method for some of the short rows, but even if I hadn't been preview-knitting the pattern and thus committed to following it as written, I wouldn't have changed anything.

Clever decreases maintain the twisted ribbing at the V of the neckline

This was my first time knitting with Lindy Chain, a cotton/linen blend, and it will not be my last -- it makes a great warm-weather fabric that feels silky and cool to the touch. Once I got the hang of the join, it was very easy to join in a new skein, too. But it does have a couple of characteristics that frustrated me just a tad. Simply because of the way the yarn is constructed, there are some irregularities that make it a bit thick and thin, and so the fabric has some lumpiness to it, which I think you can see in the photo above. This didn't really bother me except for the fact that some areas where stitches were picked up had a tendency to look a little more stretched out than I think they would with a wool yarn. I found that the areas of the sleeves just to either side of the underarms had some areas that looked like they had holes, so I wove in my ends on the inside to close those up. Also, as you'd expect for something with a linen content, the fabric has a tendency to wrinkle:

Granted, this is what the back looked like after I'd been wearing the tee for most of the day, but you can also see a definite fold line from when it was laid flat to dry when it was blocked. All this means is that my tee might need a little steam before it's worn, particularly if it's been folded in a drawer before, or I just need to not care about wrinkles!

I think the true mark of a good pattern is the feeling that you could knit it again, and this is absolutely one I would and probably will knit again! I think my next one will be in wool or a wool blend, and I very likely will choose a different body style and/or sleeve length. My time to wear this first one is probably limited, but I have a feeling it will be coming with me to Florida in December and will get a ton of wear next summer!

Friday, September 16, 2022

An FO for Friday

I had hoped I'd have some modeled sweaters to share with you today, but it turns out that when the house is cool, it takes a bit longer for a cotton/linen sweater to dry. But my sweater is officially done!

I'm well aware that this is a particularly bad photo of it -- the light isn't great and there are still some visible wrinkles -- but it's at least proof that it's complete. I believe Kerri is planning to release the pattern today, so I finished just in time! I should note that I wasn't required to finish the sweater before the pattern was published, but it did work out that way, which makes me unreasonably happy. Of course I'll be sharing all the details when I do a proper FO post, likely on Monday, but I can tell you that the fit on this is perfect and I would not be surprised if I knit another one of these.

The garden isn't quite an FO yet, as we have several cantaloupes getting bigger by the day (and the first one getting ever closer to being ripe), some tiny bell peppers, and a handful of green tomatoes. I'm sorry to say that the squash I shared last week didn't last -- I found it on the ground, off the vine, the day after I posted it. But this week I found two more with blooming flowers, and so far they're still attached.

This afternoon Rainbow and I are going to get COVID boosters and flu shots (the Mister will get his on a later date so that we don't have an entire household of miserable people if we have aftereffects), and we have a quiet weekend ahead. I am hoping to make it to the bookstore to pick up Maggie O'Farrell's latest book (something I wanted to do last weekend but didn't get around to), and I'm going to try to spend as much time outside as I can to enjoy the good weather while it lasts. I hope you also get a beautiful weekend to enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Unraveled, Week 37/2022

We've made it to Wednesday, dear readers, and in my neck of the woods, it's finally starting to feel like fall -- it's currently 58F outside! The weather this week is just about perfect, and I am enjoying my time outside immensely (even the slightly more intense run I did yesterday). As per usual, this morning I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers and here to share an update on knitting and reading.

Thanks to some quieter days at work (which I feel like I've earned after some very busy days the past couple of weeks), I am getting very close to having another finished sweater!

I finished up the back and joined the shoulder seams on Monday evening, and I started and completed the first sleeve yesterday. These sleeves are knit using short rows, and because I'm doing short sleeves, once the short rows are complete, I'm nearly done with them (there are about ten rounds of knitting before the ribbed cuff is worked). I picked up the stitches for the second sleeve before I set the project down for the night, so starting on the short rows on that one is atop my to-do list for the day. I think the second sleeve will be faster than the first because I now know what I'm doing and also will have my needle arranged so that things are slightly less fiddly. The collar will be the final bit, and it's only about eight rounds of knitting, so I think it will be pretty fast. And it looks like the weather is going to be perfect for wearing this over the weekend!

Reading has been (mostly) very good this past week, with four finishes.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors
had been on my radar for a couple of years, but I finally got the kick to read it when Mary mentioned she'd just finished it on our Zoom a couple of weekends ago. It was perfect timing because I was in need of a new audiobook to listen to while walking/running and my library had it available with no wait. I have no doubt it was just as powerful a read on the page as it was in the ears, but I really appreciated the multiple narrators who knew how to pronounce the Hawaiian words/terms and who made the story really come alive. This is a sad family story with a bit of magical realism, and though it made my heart ache a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars.

My next finish was the next selection for the Erdrich-along, The Plague of Doves. I'll admit that I struggled with this one for a while. For one thing, there are no familiar characters in this book, so I had to try to keep track of a bunch of new names, and that's made doubly hard by the fact that there are so many connections between so many characters. Central to the story (though for most of it in the background) is the mystery of the murder of an entire family save the baby, the vigilante justice that's meted out in reaction to the murder, and the generational trauma that results from these actions. I trusted Erdrich as always to bring the whole story together, and she did -- the answer to the mystery is revealed in the final pages. I gave this 4 stars as well.

In the category of "not so great" reading this week was Treacle Walker, which I wanted to read only because it's on the Booker Prize short list. Katie was kind enough to send me her copy, and I'll be passing it along to someone else. It arrived in the mail on Monday and I sat down and read it in about an hour that afternoon. I'm glad it only took me that long to read because I did not care for it at all. I got the basic gist of the story but spent most of that hour completely confused about what was happening and what people were saying. I suspect some of my difficulty is due to the dialect in which it's written, but I still feel like I need someone smarter than I to explain it to me. I gave it 2 stars.

Finally I finished a book I'd had tagged "to read" on my Libby app after hearing it mentioned on several bookish podcasts. A Place for Us is a saga about a Muslim Indian-American family that deals with the struggles of immigrants and their children to find themselves in a country that sometimes doesn't seem to want them and where their religion often sets them apart. Though it deals specifically with Islam and with the children's grappling with how observant to be, in many ways it's a universal examination of children becoming adults and defining themselves as apart from their families. I listened to this book, which was a good choice (in my opinion) given the many references to Islam and the religious practices of Muslims, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently reading The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida as part of my effort to get through the Booker short list. I've only read a bit the past two evenings, so I'm hoping to find some more sustained time to focus on it.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 12, 2022

Little Rest, but a Lot of Progress

Good morning, friends! It's always hard to wake up on Monday, but this morning it seemed a bit harder than usual, probably because I did not have an especially restful weekend. That was mainly for good reasons -- we were busy doing fun things! -- but part of me is wishing I slept a little more. Yesterday was a day of rain and general gloominess, so we crammed a lot into Saturday, including a trip to an art fair in a local park (called, appropriately, A Fair in the Park). I came home with what might be my new favorite coffee mug from a local potter:

The leaves are actually indented into the surface, so there's a bit of texture to the mug. The potter also had a lot of beautiful pieces featuring birds -- definitely click over to her site to take a look! She had so many bowls and mugs and vases I would have loved to take home but limited myself to just this one piece.

I had thought that yesterday would be a day to knit and read because of the weather, but Rainbow announced that she really wanted to make a trip to Michaels to pick up more kitchen cotton (isn't that music to every crafting parent's ears when your child wants to go yarn shopping?), so we took a little shopping trip yesterday afternoon. I'm happy to say that she found some yarn that pleased her and I purchased zero skeins for myself, though we also stopped at Marshalls and found some fun stuff, so I didn't come home empty handed. And in spite of all the activity over the weekend -- including a birthday party for my brother-in-law at a brewery on Saturday night -- I still made some serious knitting progress. My Quotidian Tee is finally looking like a real sweater!

Apologies for the terrible photo, but it's still very cloudy here this morning. As you may be able to see, I've completed the fronts and am working on the back. I'm hoping to finish the back today, which will mean all that is left is the (short) sleeves and collar. Kerri is planning to release the pattern this week, and while I don't have to have my version done just yet (she's given us until the end of the month), it would be great if I could finish mine up very soon -- not least because the weather is starting to cool off and I want to wear it before it gets too chilly for a t-shirt!

I'd also hoped to share some progress on the mate to this sock, but after working on it Friday and Saturday evenings and getting ready to transition from the cuff to the leg pattern, it wasn't working and I realized it was because I'd completely misread the instructions. So I frogged and restarted, and as there are only about two rounds of knitting complete, I didn't think it was worth taking another bad photo. 

Okay, time to finish chugging my coffee and get this day started! I hope to see some of you tomorrow evening for the Read With Us discussion of Sorrow and Bliss, and I'll be back with another update on Wednesday.

Friday, September 09, 2022

A Long Short Week

Well friends, we have made it to Friday. Even though a four-day week should feel faster than a typical one, this week has seemed to spread out and feel longer than the usual. Even Rainbow mentioned having this feeling despite not having a particularly taxing week. I'm chalking it up to a long weekend last weekend that was kind of gloomy and depressing because of all the rain.

In any case, we're on the cusp of another weekend, and it looks like it'll be at least half nice weather. We're entering that time of year when every day the weather could be glorious or could be terrible, so I might as well get used to it! On the plus side, I am finishing up the week with a pair of finished socks for my sister-in-law:

I washed and blocked them on the sock blockers to make them all neat and tidy, and later today I'll wrap them up so I can give them to my sister-in-law at dinner this evening. Because the stripe sequence in this colorway was rather long, I didn't try to make the socks identical, but I did cast on by starting exactly at the point where the color changed, so the stripes at least line up.

I've had such a response to this heel, with its simultaneous heel "flap" and gusset, that I'm likely going to write it up as a pattern (including, by special request, a toe-up version).

Now that the socks are complete, I've turned back to my Quotidian Tee, which has officially entered that black hole state where I seem to knit and knit and knit but it doesn't seem to grow in length. I'm supposed to work to 17 inches before I split for the fronts and back, and every time I measured it yesterday it was coming up 16.25 inches. I'm hoping to finally escape the black hole today, and maybe soon it will look more like a sweater than a red tube. I've spared you a photo because it really doesn't look much different.

I will, however, share a photo to end this post and share with you some of my excitement from what's happening in the garden. Although things are starting to wind down with some things, we finally have a butternut squash growing!

I have no idea if it will have enough time to grow to the point where we can actually eat it, but I'm delighted that I've at least gotten one squash to grow. That seems to be a theme with a lot of the plants this year, but I've learned a lot of lessons that I'll take with me into planning for next year -- and I'll also be thankful again that my family is not relying on my farming skills to feed us!

I hope you have a great weekend!