Monday, July 04, 2022

An Alternate Celebration

Good morning, friends! Today is, of course, July 4, Independence Day here in the United States, but I'm not too keen on celebrating that holiday today given recent events in this country. But it is a day off for me, which is cause for celebration anytime, and I'm finding some other reasons to be happy today.

First, an update: The Mister is feeling almost completely back to normal and has been out to run and bike over the weekend. He did another test this morning and sent me this photo:

So he's still positive, but see how pale that line is? We're hoping he'll be negative in another day or two, but for now he'll continue to isolate in our bedroom. The other good news is that neither Rainbow nor I has had any symptoms (other than my psychosomatic ones early last week), and we seem to have gotten into a good routine for meals and such.

I did not get a ton of crafting time in over the weekend because I spent a lot of time outside (exercising and working in the garden), but I have made progress on my brother's cardigan!

Both pocket linings are complete (and they and the front pieces are the same size, despite how they look in this photo), and I have started the sleeves, which I'm knitting at the same time. Once the Mister is fully recovered, I'll be blocking the back and fronts and seaming the shoulders so I can knit the button bands and shawl collar; the pattern calls for doing that first before setting in the sleeves, which makes sense because it means less weight on the needles. I've got 15 days to finish this sweater, and I suppose I should also look to see if I have appropriate buttons now in case I need to order some.

I also spent some time spinning over the weekend, as it is Tour de Fleece time and at this time of year I try to spin every day the Tour de France rides.

I think I've got about a quarter to a third of this fiber left to be spun into singles and I'm hoping to make a decent dent in it this afternoon while I watch last night's episode of Endeavour (I decided to watch a Disney+ series with Rainbow instead of watching in real time).

In addition to getting all the enjoyment I can out of having a Monday off, I've also started out the day by making donations to the National Network of Abortion Funds and Josh Shapiro's campaign. Perhaps I'll also contact my elected officials later. Rainbow and I plan to make a bread pudding later on, and the two of us will have dinner with my parents tonight (the Mister will get his dinner to go). I doubt we'll watch the fireworks, but I'm sure we'll hear them.

Whatever you're doing today, I hope you find something enjoyable and joyful in this Monday.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Time for Some Good News

We've made it to Friday, friends, and it's also a Friday before a long holiday weekend here. My office is closing at 2, so I'll be able to get an early start on it. And I'm very thankful for that, because it's been a very stressful week. I thought I'd finish off the week by sharing a few good things, because I think we all can use all the good news we can get.

First, I want to thank you all for your good wishes for the Mister. He is feeling pretty much back to normal (save not fully having his sense of taste back) and worked -- from home, obviously -- a full day yesterday. I'm going to insist that he continue to isolate through Sunday, and I'll likely continue to sleep in the guest/stash room until he's 10 days past his positive test, but I'm feeling much less anxious about his health.

Next, I finished my sock -- and I love it!

I'm going to try to knit the mate sometime this month, but for now I'm focusing on finishing my brother's sweater. His birthday is on the 19th, and I want to get it done by then.

In good news from the garden, after lackluster results the past several years, I decided to move our tomato plants to the front yard, where we get sun all morning. That turned out to be a really good move -- look at this:

The last time I counted, we had 13 or 14 tomatoes growing on our two plants, and we have a lot of flowers as well. It may be a while yet before we can harvest any, but my mouth is already watering thinking of a juicy tomato warm from the sun.

Finally, today is the official kickoff for the Tour de Fleece! I moved my wheel into the den a couple of days ago (it was still in our bedroom), and I'll be endeavoring to spend some time spinning every day of the Tour this year.

I hope that you have a restful, relaxing weekend and that you're able to find some good news in your life!

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Unraveled, Week 26/2022

Oh friends, it has been A Week. And it's only Wednesday! On Monday night, the Mister was coughing and getting stuffed up, and when he woke up yesterday, he was completely congested. So he took a home COVID test -- and I think you probably already know that it was positive. I took a home test and it came back negative, but knowing that these tests are less reliable, I also went to get a PCR test yesterday afternoon. I've of course been convinced that I have it, too, because I always assume the worst and always physically feel my anxiety, but this morning I got a negative result! So it seems all my "symptoms" have just been psychosomatic. On top of all this, last night was the annual meeting for our synagogue at which the election of new trustees and officers occurred. The meeting was held via Zoom in order to allow those who could not be at an in-person meeting (either because of COVID concerns, mobility issues, or because they're out of town or live elsewhere), and there were issues with technology from the start in addition to a lot of very angry congregants determined to disrupt the proceedings. The technology issues were resolved, and after three and a half hours, the full slate of nominees had been elected. So I am now secretary of the board!

So I'm starting the day with some good news, but I am tired and obviously still worried about the Mister and potentially catching the plague, but we're all isolating in our own rooms and wearing high-quality masks around each other. I am hopeful that if I didn't catch COVID from him from sleeping in the same bed with his breath in my face all night, I can avoid it now. He'll be isolated through the weekend, at least, so it'll be a quiet rest of the week for us -- and I'm just fine with that!

Because it's Wednesday, that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to talk about what I've been making and reading. 

In the last several days, I've been almost singularly focused on the sock pattern I'm test knitting. I know that my brother's sweater has a deadline, but so does this, and as I only have to finish one sock for the test, I figured I could focus on it for a few days to knock it out. Yesterday it got a lot of attention, including during that marathon Zoom meeting last night, so it's unsurprising that I have about an inch of foot left to knit before the toe. I expect that it'll be easy to finish this sock up today.

The stitch pattern is really beautiful, but it's also very involved -- there are multiple 1x1 cable crossings on every round -- and I've had a few issues with my needles splitting the yarn, so the patterned part of this sock has been slower for me. But I think it's worth it.

Once the sock is done, I will turn back to my brother's sweater and give it my undivided attention until it's done. I'm currently at a rather fun part of it -- the pocket linings!

The pattern advises that the linings be knit at this point, before any seaming, so that only one piece of the sweater has to be handled while knitting it -- very smart! I know it looks a bit like blue lips on the side of the piece of knitting, but when it's done, it'll be pushed inside the slit and will look normal.

I have only finished one book this week, but it was a long one and a good one (and, coincidentally, also the same book Kat finished)!

I received a digital ARC of Ian McEwan's forthcoming Lessons via NetGalley and Knopf in return for an honest review. This was my fourth McEwan novel, and while I have always found something in each of his books that makes me feel uncomfortable, the writing is always superb. The fact that this was an ARC made it hard to tell how long it was when I started (it would only tell me the "position" I was in rather than a page number), but I very quickly discovered that it was a long book. And that makes sense, given that it spans the early '60s to present day. We are along for much of the life of the main character, Roland Baines, and see how so much in his life is influenced by a sexual relationship with his much-older piano teacher when he was a teenager. I know that sounds disturbing, but it's only part of his story, and the book is really so beautifully written, with such vivid, complex characters. I frequently found myself getting lost in it. I gave it 4 stars.

I've done much more knitting and TV watching in the last couple of days than reading, but I'm hoping now that my anxiety is abating I can focus on Tears of Amber, which I am nearly halfway through and really enjoying.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, June 27, 2022

Growth in 2022: June


I probably say this every month, but I am genuinely surprised that we've arrived at the last few days of June. This month has seemed to go even faster than normal despite the longer days, I suspect because Rainbow has been out of school and the normal weekday routine has changed.

I'll admit that I've struggled with my One Little Word this month, especially in trying to come up with the ways that Growth has made itself known over the past several days. I probably don't need to tell you that I've been feeling very down since the news broke on Friday that Roe v. Wade had been overturned; the right to decide what I do with my body and my health has never been an issue for me, and I am heartbroken that my daughter will now have to face a future in which she may have to have children against her will or suffer potentially devastating health consequences related to a pregnancy. It's probably a good thing I wasn't working on Friday, because after hearing the news, I couldn't focus on anything.

But perhaps my reaction to the news shows some growth after all. In the past, I would have sunk into a state of helplessness upon hearing that my rights had been taken away. On Friday, though I was certainly upset and grieving, I was more angry than anything else. I wrote about my anger in my journal that night, and I promised myself I would fight back. I have a child, don't plan on having any more, and am probably closer to menopause than prime child-bearing years at this point, but in addition to being the mother of a daughter, this is about so much more than me. This decision affects roughly half the population of our country, and it will disproportionately impact people with less financial means and people of color. I've gotten past the point where I focus on how something affects me and have moved on to how this affects all of us, and rather than wallowing in despair, I vowed in my journal to look to those who are wiser and more informed to take actionable steps in the days and months to come. It looks like my state could see an influx of women from West Virginia and Ohio who are seeking abortion services, so I can donate to local service providers to start. I'll continue to contact my elected officials regularly and vote in every single election, as I always have, but now I'm going to be a single-issue voter. I'll sign petitions and join protests when I can. And I will happily accept suggestions for other concrete steps I can take to protect my daughter and all women in this country.

None of this comes easily to me. I don't like speaking loudly or talking to strangers or drawing attention to myself. But I can be uncomfortable for something that really matters and that's vitally important to me. And I think that shows some real growth on my part.

Thank you, as always, to Carolyn for hosting our monthly OLW link-up, and thank you to all of you who took the time to read this. I know many of you were equally devastated on Friday, and I hope you're also committed to fighting back.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Updates

For a short week, it's felt long, so I was very happy to wake up this morning and realize it's my day off. Rainbow and I have plans to spend the day together, but she is still sleeping as I type this, so as soon as I post I'm going to take advantage of the cooler weather this morning and go for a long walk.

I have some updates for you this morning. First, I've made some real progress on my brothers sweater -- which could be a vest at this point!

The pattern calls for knitting the pocket linings next (which makes sense -- there's only the one front piece to juggle that way), then seaming the shoulders and doing the collar/button bands, but I might skip ahead and do the sleeves first so I can do all the finishing at once. Before any of that, though, I have some ends to weave in.

Yesterday I also managed to do about two-thirds of a chart repeat on the socks I am test knitting. This is a pattern that requires my full attention, but I think it will be worth it.

The stitch pattern has twisted stitches and cable crossings on every single row, so it's fairly slow going. I think this might require a good audiobook.

Finally, remember the slipper inserts I made earlier in the month? I wanted to let you know how they worked out -- which, I'm sorry to say, was not very well.

If you enlarge the photo, you might see that these have fuzzed up a bit from wear. The problem isn't in the inserts themselves but rather with the slippers. When I decided to make these, I was using a pair of faux shearling slippers in which I'd mostly worn out the lining under my feet. But soon after, I discovered that I'd also worn away enough of the lining on top of my foot to poke a hole in the leather on top, so those slippers were basically dead. I ordered a new pair to replace them, with a knit upper and faux fur lining, but the issue with the new slippers is that the lining is slippery, so the inserts just will not stay in place under my feet. They're very comfortable for the few seconds they stay where they should be, but very quickly they start to twist around. I ended up needle-felting only one of the two (the one on the right in the photo), and while that didn't do anything to help keep it in place, I will say that the felted insert doesn't stretch as much when in use. I may try wet-felting these to see if it helps any, but I think the slipper is the problem. Oh well!

I hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable last weekend in June!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Unraveled, Week 25/2022

Today feels simultaneously like Tuesday (because I had Monday off) and Thursday (because I'm taking Friday off), but it is actually Wednesday, and that means it's time for an Unraveled update! As usual, I am linking up with Kat today and talking about what I'm making and what I'm reading.

I'm working steadily on my brother's cardigan and have closed the pocket opening on the left front. The rows will get shorter soon as I've just started the decreases along the neckline and very shortly will do the underarm shortly. As I recall from the other front piece, there were a lot of rows in this part but they moved very quickly. I think I can probably get this piece done by the end of the week and then start in on the sleeves.

I did work a bit on Rainbow's Hitchhiker over the weekend while we were socializing with relatives and added a couple of teeth, but it doesn't look much different. What's more interesting is the new project I cast on earlier in the week, which is a new sock pattern I am testing for another designer. Mine doesn't look like much at this point:

But you can see what they will look like on her Instagram account (they're the blue socks with the sort of Art Deco-looking twisted stitch pattern that she posted several photos of this week). I'm using some deep-stash Fibernymph Dye Works Sunshine, which is Lisa's light fingering base. It's not one I typically use for socks, but it was one skein of fingering I had in a semisolid. I only need to finish one sock for the test, but of course I'll eventually make both, as I'm making these for me and want to have some pretty new socks to wear when the weather gets cold again.

I haven't had a ton of reading time in the past week because of all the festivities last weekend, but I did manage to finish two books.

Four Souls was one of the three add-on books for the Erdrich-along that we'll be discussing this weekend. This one focuses on the character of Fleur Pillager, though there are appearances by Nanapush and Margaret Kashpaw/Rushes Bear. Now that I've read a good handful of Erdrich's books, I can very easily understand why she has said that her characters won't leave her alone and keep coming back to her so she is forced to write more books about them; in many ways, they've started to feel like real people to me, and each book that features these characters feels like I'm getting more stories of their lives. Erdrich's writing is spectacular as always, and this one has some laugh-out-loud funny moments as well as the usual serious and sad bits. I gave it 4 stars.

The other book I finished was an audiobook that I listened to while I was out exercising. I wanted something that would keep my attention (to distract me from feeling like I was melting in the heat) but that wasn't too serious, so I decided to read Nine Perfect Strangers. I'd never read a book by Liane Moriarty before, though she'd certainly been on my radar. This one was ... okay. It had that page-turner-ness to it that I wanted for the context in which I was listening, but I saw a major plot point coming at the very beginning and thought the climax was rather anticlimactic. It wasn't bad, and it certainly held my attention, but I wouldn't call it fine literature. I gave it 3 stars.

I am still reading Lessons, which, it turns out, is a lot longer than I thought (the problem with reading a digital ARC is that it doesn't have page numbers, just "position," so I can't really tell how much I have left). My Kindle app says I'm 80% through it and have about 2 hours left to read, so perhaps if I can finish up a work project today and nothing else comes in, I might be able to get through the rest this afternoon.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, June 20, 2022

Little Knitting but Lots of Love

Happy Monday, friends! It's a Monday off for me, as my office is closed in observance of Juneteeth. Later this morning Rainbow has an orthodontist appointment to get her first contraption removed, but the rest of the day is completely unscheduled -- and I'm planning to fully enjoy that, because I'm expecting a big work project to land in my inbox first thing tomorrow.

As I mentioned on Friday, we had a weekend of birthday celebrations and time spent with family visiting from out of town. We also got lucky with some absolutely spectacular weather, as the humidity dropped and highs were only in the low to mid-70s. Think blue skies, light winds, and plenty of sun. We had good meals and great company, and it was wonderful to see some family members we hadn't seen in person since my brother's wedding in December 2019.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, all that family time meant not a whole lot of crafting, but I did manage to finish up that second scrappy hat I started last week.

I used three colorways throughout this hat and played a bit of yarn chicken toward the end, but I had enough to finish. This was intended to be another charity hat, but a certain someone in this house decided she loved it and asked if she could have it -- and how could I say no? I'm sure there are more of these hats in my future, as they're a great way to use up some leftovers and add to my Stash Dash total (currently at a bit more than 3,200 m).

My brother's birthday is now officially less than a month away, so it's really time to focus on getting his sweater done. I am currently working on the pocket of the left front, and I'm planning to spend some time on it this afternoon. I also have a short workweek ahead, as I'm using up my second personal day for the year on Friday. If you catch me getting distracted by more scrappy hats, remind me that I need to finish the sweater!