Friday, November 29, 2019

I Blame the Food Coma

I fully intended to put up a post yesterday, as I usually do on Thursdays, but yesterday was no ordinary Thursday. As you probably know, it was Thanksgiving here in the United States, so we were all home and had a somewhat leisurely day. After I took my time drinking my coffee (which never happens on a typical weekday), I got to work on the cooking.

My parents were hosting the big meal, as they always do, but with the size of the crowd increasing over the years, my mother has ceded some of the cooking to the rest of us. Our assignments were the vegetables (roasted Brussels sprouts and green bean casserole) and, as we've done for the past several years, pumpkin muffins (basically pumpkin bread in muffin form that's served alongside the dinner rolls). Last year, we overbaked on the muffins, so while Rainbow and I still made two batches (one with craisins, one plain), we made only two dozen muffins per batch and used the extra batter to make two loaves of pumpkin bread to keep.

I got a little fancy and topped the one with craisins in it with some pepitas leftover from a salad kit. Rainbow, of course, won't touch the topping, but at least I can enjoy it.

While the muffins and bread were in the oven, I sat down and finished the giant handspun cowl. It's now drying from its bath, so it's not as fluffy as I expect it will be when it's dry, and it's a gloomy day here, so apologies for the less-than-stellar photo.

I'm happy with how this turned out, especially that I used pretty much every last inch of the yarn (I even played a little yarn chicken on the bind-off round), and I can't wait to deliver it to the recipient.

Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful and I ate way too much, though I'd decided ahead of time that I wasn't going to worry about it for the one day. Just as good as the food was the company. In addition to our family (the three of us, my parents and brother, and my in-laws), we were joined by my brother's fiancee and her family -- her parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and her two nieces. My brother- and sister-in-law and my nephew joined us for dessert after they had dinner with her family. I kept my phone in my purse for most of the night, but I did pull it out toward the end to capture a few family photos. This one might be my favorite:

What you can't see under his bib is that he's wearing suspenders to go with his plaid shirt and khakis. Too cute!

Today we're enjoying another quiet family day at home. No Black Friday shopping for us -- Rainbow and the Mister are busy building the giant Lego set that they've decided counts as Rainbow's birthday present and a present for him, and I'm planning on doing some knitting and spinning. We're all looking forward to having a relaxing weekend together before the wedding craziness of next weekend!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Pattern Release: Hakova Sheli

I think I've said before that one of the hardest parts about pattern designing for me is coming up with a good name. In this case of this hat, I had no problems whatsoever because the crown of the hat immediately reminded me of a fond memory from childhood.

For the Jewish holiday of Purim, it's a tradition to make and eat a special type of cookie, called hamantaschen. These cookies are triangular and said by some to represent the three-cornered hat favored by Haman, the villain of the Purim story. While that story may be apocryphal, what's undeniable is that the cookies are delicious, and it's a fun tradition in many families to make the cookies and share them with friends and families. I have some very clear memories of helping my mother fill hamentaschen as a child, and I also remember her singing a Purim song in Hebrew that goes "Hakova sheli shalosh pinot," which translates to "My hat has three corners." Could there be a more perfect name for this crown? I think not!

Hakova Sheli is worked in basic brioche stitch using a fingering weight yarn. It's super simple until you get to the crown decreases, which are really more fiddly than difficult and go very quickly once you've got the hang of them. I've graded the pattern to four sizes, approximately toddler to adult large, but the stretchiness of the brioche stitch makes for a very flexible fit.

I used a self-striping yarn from Fibernymph Dye Works for my sample (the colorway is called Cold Snap), and I just love what brioche stitch does to stripes. As with all of my patterns, it's been professionally tech edited, and I also had a bunch of volunteers preview knit it, so you can be sure the pattern is easy to follow. Through the end of the month, I'm offering it for sale for 20% using the code MYHAT.

But wait, that's not all!

In addition to offering you this new hat, I also want to mention that the seventh annual Indie Designer Giftalong starts tonight at 8 p.m. EST! I have participated every year as a designer and for the past few years as a group moderator, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's my favorite time of year! I've selected 20 of my most popular patterns for the pattern sale portion of the event, which runs from the start of the event until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, December 2. All my paid patterns are eligible for prizes in the KALs, including Hakova Sheli. I hope you see you in the group!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A New Start

I'm feeling very relaxed about my spinning these days, so I didn't feel like I needed to start a new spinning project, but today I had the house to myself for a bit and it felt like the right thing to do to relax (and, somewhat predictably, it did lull me to sleep for a bit!). I only just started, but it's looking good already -- but I guess that's to be expected when you start with beautiful fiber.

This is the fiber I'm spinning, Bond from Southern Cross Fibre in a colorway called Two Roads Diverged (I always love David's dyeing, but he gets extra bonus points from me for the Robert Frost reference):

I'm trying to tackle the fiber club shipments in a more timely fashion these days, because quite frankly I have quite a backlog. This fiber was August's shipment (which means I received it in September). I thought I would start spinning this because October's shipment arrived last week:

This one is on Corriedale and is called A New Day. Pretty, right?

For the current spin, I'm spinning my default three-ply fingering (well, in a manner of speaking -- I'm going to chain-ply the singles). I split the fiber in half lengthwise and I'm spinning it from end to end so I'll have long color runs. It's extremely soft and the color shifts are subtle. It's truly a delight. I'm going to savor this spin for sure!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Three Things for Your To-Do List

Today I have three suggestions for things you might want to do this weekend.

1. Read The Dutch House.
Even better, listen to the audiobook, which is expertly performed by Tom Hanks. I finished listening yesterday and loved every minute of it. Ann Patchett is an author whose work I've long enjoyed, and her newest might be my favorite. I'm fairly certain I would have enjoyed it just as well had I read the book on my own, but having it read to me by the wonderful Tom Hanks was pure pleasure. It got a five-star review from me, and it's a book I could easily see myself rereading in the future.

2. Speaking of Tom Hanks, go see It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
We were very lucky to be able to attend the Pittsburgh premiere of the movie last night (thanks, WQED!), and I think it's fair to say it was a hit with the whole audience. Though we were not graced by the presence of the stars, sadly, we did get an introduction to the film from the director; the writers; several of the producers; and Tom Junod, who wrote the original article upon which the film was based. The movie was wonderful, and Tom Hanks does a marvelous job of portraying Fred Rogers, even down to how he holds his body. I think that as a Pittsburgh audience, we especially enjoyed seeing places in Pittsburgh we could identify (for instance, the pool where Mr. Rogers is shown swimming laps is our JCC, where I swam laps when I was on the swim team in middle school!). Keep an eye out, too, for brief cameos by Mrs. Rogers and David Newell (aka Mr. McFeely) in the scene in the Chinese restaurant.

3. Knit some colorwork in worsted weight yarn.
I cast on that hat earlier this week and have been reminded how quickly worsted weight colorwork knits up!

What you see here is the result of two evenings of work, and not even two particularly productive evenings. I have a board meeting this evening, but I'm hoping that it'll be done early enough to allow  me to finish up the colorwork portion of the hat when I get home. It'd be great to finish the entire hat by the weekend so I can send off the pattern to my tech editor before Thanksgiving!

Hop on over to Carole's to see what everyone else is up to today, and have a wonderful weekend!

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


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!