Thursday, October 22, 2020

Celebrating Socktober

For many sock knitters, the month of October is a time to celebrate their love of all woolly feet-related things. It's usually about when I start to wear my own hand-knit socks with regularity as well, as this is typically when the weather starts to get cooler (though not today -- we've turned our air conditioning back on because it's supposed to get close to 80F today!). I am happy to knit socks year-round, but it feels fun to do them now and join in with the worldwide community of sock knitters. So it seems fitting that my newest FO is also my newest pattern, which I just published this morning. I'm calling it A Series of Tubes.

You may remember that I knit a pair of socks using this pattern for myself last month, and I didn't originally intend for them to be a pattern because I thought they were too simple. But they got such a strong response on Instagram that I decided to write them up. Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works was kind enough to send me another skein of yarn to knit another sample (the original was a one-off colorway that couldn't be repeated, and I wanted to be sure to knit the sample in something that other people could buy so I could send some business her way), and Rainbow so thoughtfully allowed me to knit the new sample in her size -- wasn't that nice of her? Sport weight socks are so satisfyingly fast, especially when you're knitting them for a foot that's only 7 inches around (though her feet are now 8.5 inches long!). I cast on the first sock on Saturday afternoon and finished the second last night before bed. And I didn't even really push myself to finish them that quickly, either! In any case, the socks are done, so Rainbow is happy (and her feet will be toasty when the temperature drops this weekend), and the pattern is now available on Ravelry and Payhip and is 20% off for the first week using the coupon code TUBEY on both platforms.

I am also pondering my next pair of socks. My mother is up next in the gift list, and I've already pulled this skein of Emma's Yarn Practically Perfect Sock for hers:

The color is a bit off here; the blue is actually more of a green than a turquoise. I'm thinking of doing something with some slipped stitches to break up the pooling that I know will happen with this variegated colorway. That might slow my progress a bit (because I won't be able to knit mindlessly around and around), but I think it'll be worth it. Plus, I feel like I'm way ahead of schedule with my gift knitting this year anyway -- this pair will be the last for the women in my family, and I'm still deciding if I should also knit socks for the guys or do something else entirely.

Have a great rest of your day and week! See you back here on Sunday for spinning!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Reading All the Books, All the Time

Happy Wednesday, friends! Wednesday means linking up with Kat and the Unravelers and an update on my reading.

I mentioned last week that I'd been inundated with a bunch of holds from the library. I use the Libby app, and usually when I put books on hold I try to space out when I'll get them based on the wait time estimates. Unfortunately those estimates aren't always reliable; often if a book is really popular, the library will add more copies, which moves the list faster, and even if that's not the case, the estimates are frequently longer than reality, perhaps because they're based on average reading times. Regardless, I found myself with four library books checked out at once last weekend, which is a lot more than I usually have. I've really only recently found myself able to keep track of more than one book at a time (reading a Kindle book and listening to an audiobook, for instance), and even though I'm a pretty fast reader and haven't ever had a book taken back from the library before I finished it, there's something about seeing "Due in XX days" that always makes me a little anxious. So, needless to say, I was highly motivated to get through all those books.

Since last week's update, I have finished four more books:

I am getting closer and closer to catching up with Louise's Penny's Inspector Gamache series, and I'm simultaneously looking forward to and dreading that moment -- dreading because it means having to wait for her to write another before I can read the next! I love these books, and I continue to be impressed by how well Penny can make each book feel fresh without feeling contrived. I think what I enjoy most about the series is the great mix of actual serious mystery and lighthearted humor. The citizens of Three Pines are such lovable characters, even if they are a bit unrealistic, and I love spending time with them. I gave this installment 4 stars.

Everyone I know who has read Hamnet has raved about it, and now that I have read it, I see why. This book is extraordinary and may very well be my favorite book this year. The writing is absolutely beautiful. I got completely lost in this book and had trouble putting it down to do things like eating and sleeping. It is so wonderfully descriptive and so exquisitely captures the love and the grief that take over the characters that it's amazing to think that it's entirely supposition on the author's part and not completely biographical. I also found it really interesting that William Shakespeare is a major character but is never actually named in the book. If you haven't read this book yet, you absolutely must! I gave it 5 very enthusiastic stars!

I borrowed the audiobook of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead after several of you recommended it, and I had high expectations because of that and because the author had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. And I kept waiting for it to get good -- but for me, it never got there. Assuming the translation is an accurate representation of the original, the writing is excellent, but I found the story to be bizarre. I gave it 3 stars as an average of 4 for the writing and 2 for the story.

I think it's well known that we were big fans of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in our house, so naturally I wanted to read Conversations with RBG. I found it to be a quick and interesting read, but in truth I don't think I got as much out of this book as I could have. The author is a lawyer by training, and I think because of that he took it for granted that most of us are not and may not understand a lot of the discussion about laws and statutes. I felt that there was a lot of legal nuance I was missing, and that took away from my enjoyment a bit. But I'm still very much in admiration of RBG and of her legal mind. I gave it 3 stars.

I am now down to just one library book, James McBride's The Good Lord Bird, and hope to finish it up in the next day or two. It looks like after that I have a bit of a pause before the next flurry of library holds comes up, so I will probably read some of the many books I've either bought or gotten for free that are in my Kindle library (or maybe even a physical book!). If you have any good recommendations, though, I'm always happy to hear them!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Start of Knitting Season

This week has started off with weather that always kicks off a case of cast-on-itis in me. The weekend was cooler (good for running, but not so good for staying warm, prompting me to reach for wool sweaters and socks), and yesterday it rained pretty much all day. Today started out still very overcast and gloomy, so I am sitting here curled up in one of my favorite sweaters (Ravelry link) with my knitting by my side. After a very busy workweek last week, this week is, I'm hoping, going to be much quieter, which should translate to a lot of knitting and reading time.

I'd hoped to have more progress on my sweater by now, but I've pretty much put it aside for the time being in favor of a more urgent project. I got back my new sock pattern from my tech editor yesterday, and I've been working on a new sample pair to take photos to go with it. Rainbow conveniently agreed to allow me to knit that new pair for her (ha!), and as fast as the original pair for me was, knitting a 56-stitch sock in sport weight is even faster. I cast on the first sock Saturday afternoon and finished it last night.

Technically I only need one sock to take pattern pictures, but I've already cast on the second and will be working on it anyway -- it's a good project to work on while reading. I am hoping to be able to publish the pattern later this week.

My Hitchhiker also distracted me from my sweater at the end of last week, and it's grown enough that the purple is just starting to change to a slightly darker shade, though it's a little hard to see in this lighting:

As I predicted, Rainbow saw this and heavily hinted that she'd like it when it's done. I really don't want to give this up, though, so I reminded her that we bought a sparkly purple skein of yarn when the Steel City Fiber Collective was closing a few years ago that would suit her very well, and she agreed that it would be perfect. So it looks like there will be another purple Hitchhiker on my needles in the near future.

The first of my not-Rhinebeck purchases showed up yesterday, which was incredibly fast! This is the only yarn I purchased, a mini skein set from Murky Depths Dyeworks


That the yarn is beautiful and made it here in record time is great enough, but I was really touched by a message I received from Debbie, the dyer, shortly after I placed my order. She sent me a message thanking me for my order and for supporting her shop but noted that she would have much rather seen my smiling face in person. Isn't that lovely? I know not all people in the yarn and fiber world are inherently good, but there are some who are truly excellent, and I feel better for knowing them.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

It Goes So Quickly

And by "it," I of course mean the weekend. Here we are already at Sunday evening and I'm not sure where the past two days went! Yes, I did spent a fair amount of time running (10.1 miles this weekend!), and I had to do the typical weekend things like laundry and cleaning the bathroom, but otherwise it seems like I lost some hours somewhere along the way.

Rainbow and I tried our best to keep the spirit of Rhinebeck alive. She helped me do a little online shopping yesterday morning (some spinning fiber, a little bit of yarn, some Rhinebeck-themed gear, and a pair of earrings), and later in the day we finally baked those apple cider donuts I've been talking about. I'm happy to report that they were a huge success -- though much like the real thing, they are best eaten fresh and don't stay good very long.

We just did a toss in cinnamon sugar and skipped the glaze. They were superb. Moist and cakey (in a good way) and flavorful, and I like that they're baked rather than fried. We borrowed the mini donut pans from my mother, but clearly we need to get some of our own. I also think the batter would be delicious as a regular cake, so perhaps I will finally get one of those mini Bundt pans I've always had my eye on.

Some spinning has gotten done as well. I spend much of the day on Friday finishing up my Kandinsky Rambouillet singles and then spent my evening crafting time plying the Caravaggio Corriedale. I let it rest overnight and then skeined it up yesterday morning and popped it in to soak. I'm missing the warmer summer days when I could leave a wet skein outside on the porch and have it be dry in an hour or so, but at least now there's the chance for a warm radiator to dry a skein. In any case, it was dry this morning.

This skein is chain-plied to maintain the colors, and it did end up fingering weight as I hoped, though the yardage was quite a bit lower than I expected -- only about 292 yards. Eventually I think I'll spin up some dark brown Corriedale I have for a contrast skein to stretch it.

I'm happy with this skein regardless, and I do like the colors. I'd hoped to have two finished skeins to share today, but apparently my Rambouillet singles were a bit finer than I thought and it's taking longer to ply (which I hope also translates to higher yardage!). It's looking pretty amazing so far, though.

These colors make me exceedingly happy, and I'm so looking forward to seeing them in a skein!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Missing Rhinebeck

If this were any other year, or if this was an alternate version of this year without a global pandemic, I would have gotten up super early this morning in order to get on the road to Rhinebeck. While we couldn't have anticipated COVID, I'd known since late last year that this Rhinebeck would be different since we lost Scooterpie. But I couldn't have anticipated that everything would be canceled, and I'm feeling a mix of emotions today.

It was obvious months ago that Rhinebeck wouldn't be happening, and I fully supported the festival's decision to cancel. Even if it had gone ahead, it would have had a very different feel, one that I'm not sure I would have liked -- how much fun would it have really been to see so many friends but have had to stay 6 feet away from them? So part of me wants to do some things this weekend that I would have done had this been any other year, but part of me also wants to keep my Rhinebeck memories pure, in a manner of speaking, so that I'm not too sad. I'm probably not explaining it very well, but I'm sure all of you can understand the reluctance I'm feeling to try to have any substitute event truly stand in for the real thing.

Some things I'll be able to do safely from home. We're supposed to get some cooler weather coming through this afternoon, so I will definitely be wearing sweaters and wool socks this weekend. Rainbow and I spent several hours last weekend making boiled apple cider (basically a syrupy cider reduction) so that we can try our hand at making apple cider doughnuts. I will likely do a little online shopping with some of the vendors who are missing out on one of their biggest sales weekends of the year. And because the trip to Rhinebeck involves many hours in the car and lots of knitting time, I have cast on a new project:

Yes, Bonny, I finally did it! And now I am officially addicted and have started thinking about all the other skeins in my stash that might become Hitchhikers!

If you're able to support some of the businesses missing out on Rhinebeck weekend, I'd highly encourage you to place an order or two. One of the benefits of the festival being virtual this year is that anyone can attend, even if you've never been able to make it there physically. There's a $5 admission fee to the virtual festival, and you can also buy a $5 admission ticket to Indie Untangled Everywhere for access to a host of other vendors.

Whatever your weekend holds, I hope there's time for knitting, wool wearing, and fall color.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Breathing Room

Good morning, friends! It is a crisp, sunny autumn day here, and though I woke up tired (in part because someone woke me up with their snoring at 1 a.m. and I ended up on the couch in the den for the rest of the night), I'm also feeling much lighter today because I finished my big work project and finally have some time to exhale today. I am joining up with Kat and the Unravelers to day to catch you up on my reading and crafting.

First, thanks to the sunshine, I can now share the new yarn I mentioned yesterday!

Obviously these are all from the same source, which frankly should surprise no one at this point! Lisa did a shop update about a week and a half ago partly for the Down Cellar Studio Pigskin Party event, and she debuted an event exclusively colorway as well as some new colorways. She also put up some discounted grab bags, with selections of somewhat related skeins grouped together at a special price. One of these skeins is also intended for new sample of my sock design in progress. From left to right, the skeins are Traveler (sport) in Leaf Pile (for the new sample), Bounce (fingering) in Deep Fall, Bounce in Punt! (the Pigskin Party exclusive colorway), Beguiled (merino/nylon sparkle DK) in Love Notes, and Bona Fide (DK) in Love Letters. The two DK skeins were in a grab bag together, and if the last color looks familiar, it's because I used a different base in the same colorway for my mother-in-law's socks.

My reading has been slower lately, likely because I've been having to spend my days actually reading for work, but I have managed to finish two books in the last week:

Gloria Naylor's National Book Award-winning The Women of Brewster Place is the next selection for Bonny, Carole, and Kym's Read with Us online book club-like thingy (what do we even call it?). I'd planned to borrow it from the library but then found that I had Amazon credit that covered the cost of the Kindle book, so I bought it. And I'm glad I did, because I really enjoyed it and can see going back to reread it someday. Essentially it's a series of short stories focused on different women, all of whom live in the same run-down public housing, but there is overlap. It's amazing and also depressing that although this book was published in the early '80s, the experiences of these women could very much happen today; not much has changed. I have the book 4 stars.

I think it was Mary who recommended Austin Channing Brown's I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, and I'd bookmarked it on Libby, so when I finished The Women of Brewster Place and saw that it was available, I borrowed it and read it right away, in the course of one day. That I read it so quickly doesn't mean it was an easy read; in fact, parts of it were quite hard to take. I felt that this book captured better than any other I've read this year just how hard -- physically, mentally, and emotionally -- it is to be a person of color in this country. Brown does an excellent job of explaining and describing it, especially for someone who is incapable of experiencing it herself. I gave it 4 stars as well.

I am currently reading two books, A Great Reckoning on Kindle and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead on audio. I'm also experiencing an embarrassment of riches when it comes to library books -- all my holds are coming up much sooner than I expected! I think I've discovered that when I get into what I think is a lull between holds and borrow something that's readily available, it's enough to trigger all the people ahead of me in line for the books I'm waiting for to finish. Yesterday I delayed the delivery of The Good Lord Bird for a few days, and this morning I woke up to a notification that Hamnet is now ready for me. So provided that my work inbox stays quiet today, I will be spending every spare minute reading!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

WIPping Along

Just a quick post from me today with a WIP update because I'm still swamped at work and should be doing that right now rather than blogging (shhh, don't tell!). I've been moving right along with my current projects and actually making some visible progress!

The last time I showed you my Radiate, I mentioned that it looked really small on the needles. Here's some proof that it does actually fit (though I am not too talented at taking selfies while trying to model knitwear, so it doesn't look like a great fit here):

I expect that I'll get a bit more ease from blocking, especially around the neck, but I'm very happy with the fit as it is now. I usually wear my sweaters over a long-sleeved t-shirt, like the one I'm wearing today, and it fits comfortably. I'm just about to start the waist shaping on the body, and I've moved the stitches over to a 32 inch needle (I was using a 40 inch circular for the yoke), so it's much more comfortable now.

Rainbow's hat has been getting some serious attention lately and is almost done -- I started the crown decreases last night.

I was using a 16 inch circular before but have switched over to a longer one to magic-loop the crown, and now it's clear that this hat is rather roomy, probably more than it needed to be. Oh well! I think the halo from the mohair/silk will keep it in place, and it will certainly be warm. This was a fun experience, but I haven't much cared for knitting with the slub base, so I'll be happy to finish this one.

I got some new yarn in the mail late last week, but I will share that in my next post because it's a very gloomy day today and the light won't do the colors justice, so stay tuned! I hope the sun is out wherever you are. What are you knitting today?