Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Three Project Shuffle

It's Thursday, so it's time to link up with Carole and friends.

This week I'm doing a bit of a shuffle with my three active WIPs. First, there's my Darkwater, which is growing slowly but surely. I have been hoping to be a little more productive this week, but a certain small person in the house has been most uncooperative this week about getting to bed in a timely manner, so my evening knitting time has been sparser than usual.

As much as I'm enjoying the process and the combination of colors, the colorwork designer in me is getting a tad annoyed at the exceptionally long floats. There are many rounds where there are a good seven or nine stitches over which the contrast color is floated, so I am taking extra care to spread out my stitches on the right needle to ensure that my floats are loose enough to avoid puckering. I might even be tempted to add my own motifs in those stretches were I not already so far into the yoke. But if you're thinking of knitting this sweater and keeping an even tension in stranded colorwork is a challenge for you, consider yourself warned.

In any case, I'm about halfway through the stranded portion of the sweater and hope to finish it up by the weekend. My mahjong group is getting together Sunday afternoon, and the body would be the perfect thing to knit while I play (yes, I do knit while playing mahj -- doesn't everyone?).

My lunchtime knitting this week has been the handspun hat, and though the stitch pattern is such that it's not super fast knitting, it's growing nicely.

I love how handspun always stripes to some degree, even when you don't specifically plan for it, and I really like how it's striping here.

The third WIP, which has been seeing significantly less attention, is my sock yarn granny square blanket. I've added a few more minis to it, but there are still many left to be added. You can see some of the latest colors on the edge here (I didn't want to try to wrestle with it this morning so I left it in the project bag):

My plan is to add the rest of the holiday minis to it, then add the other sock leftovers that are in the bag, and then see how big it is. I'd love it to be as big as our queen bed, but I might run out of steam before then. Plus, I'm already plotting my next one, which I've already told Rainbow will be for her and will use all sock yarn scraps, not just Fibernymph Dye Works yarn.

Reading update: I finished Red at the Bone earlier in the week, and my goodness, those of you who have read it and raved about were right -- what a good book it was! I gave it four stars only because I felt like it didn't really have a plot and was a bit hard to follow at times, but the writing is simply gorgeous. I'm still reading Olive Kitteridge in the evenings before bed, so it's slow going because I only manage a few minutes at a time, and this week I started The Overdue Life of Amy Byler through Prime Reading. It's fairly fluffy and easy to read, which is a nice complement to the more complex, heavier books on my shelf. I'm hoping to make progress on both this weekend, especially since my next to-be-read book is waiting for me thanks to a hand-me-down from my father.

Happy weekending to you!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

One Little Word: January

Unbelievably, it's the last Tuesday of the month -- this month has flown by, not that I'm all that sad about it (January is my least favorite month and it always seems to crawl). It's time to check in on my word for the year for the first time: How has savor made itself known in my life?

I think that one reason this month has gone by so quickly is because it's been very busy. By the time this month is over, the Mister will have gone on four work trips out of town in addition to being out at meetings several evenings when he's been at home. All that time that he's been away means a lot of solo parenting for me. Rainbow and I have gotten used to being on our own over the past couple of years as he's been traveling more, and she's now old enough to do a lot of things herself, but being the only parent around also means more time is taken away from me -- I have to do the school drop-offs and pickups, all the meal prep and cleanup, and all the household chores. When life gets busier, it can get harder to stop and enjoy the moment -- which is why I think my chosen word for the year has been even more important.

Over the past few weeks, I've made room to savor in two distinct ways. One has been to make a point to notice and appreciate small moments of comfort or pleasure: The boost from that first sip of coffee in the morning. The relaxation from stretching out in bed after a long day. The feeling of release that comes with taking off your work clothes and getting into soft pajamas. These are moments that only last a few seconds, but I've been making an effort to focus entirely on them for the few seconds they take rather than doing them while my thoughts are wrapped up in something else.

The second has been to literally slow down and enjoy what I'm doing when I'm doing it. I've been doing this with the books I've been reading and with my crafting. I've noticed with the past several books I've read, all ebooks, that I am consciously slowing down as I read and pausing more frequently to reflect on what I've read. I'm reminding myself that I'm reading these books for pleasure, and to get the most pleasure out of them, I need to read every word and be present for every page. As to my crafting, I've never been really able to determine if I'm a process knitter or a project knitter, but with my two most recent cast-ons, I'm definitely focusing on the process.

I started my Darkwater sweater on Friday night, a pattern I've been planning to knit for nearly a year, and though I very much want to have this sweater done so I can wear it, I am deliberately taking my time. I think this approach will also pay off, because there are some rather long floats in the colorwork yoke, and the slower pace at which I'm knitting is helping to ensure that my tension remains good (see how nice and loose my floats are on the right there?).

After finishing up that sock yarn and mohair/silk hat I've been working on, I also started another prototype of the pattern using some extremely old handspun that I've been saving (hoarding?) since it was spun. Is there any better way to savor your knitting than to knit with some of your precious early handspun?

Ohai, the sun is still hiding.
Using one of my earliest handspun skeins is a great way to see how far I've come in my spinning, because this yarn is all over the place in terms of thickness. At one point that inconsistency would have bothered me, but now I am really appreciating it because it makes it that much more obvious that this yarn was made by hand by a human being. Even though I can spin yarn today that's more consistent, the general lack of uniformity in handspun versus commercially spun yarn is what makes it so much more pleasurable to work with.

Thanks to Honore´ for hosting the One Little Word discussion this year!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Old Spins, New Toys

I had every intention of finishing up my current spin this weekend, but then the Mister came down with a Man Cold, so I did not get my normal Friday night spinning session in (my wheel lives in our bedroom, and he wanted to go to bed early, so I took my knitting to the den for the evening). I did get in a little bit of spinning this morning, though, and I'd say I'm about three-quarters of the way done with my singles.

If I need to do some more spinning, I have a couple of new tools at my disposal:

My friend David posted on Instagram a couple of weeks ago that he was looking for a new home for these two Bosworth spindles, and I immediately offered to adopt them. I don't do a ton of spindling, but when I do, these are absolutely my favorite. They're so beautifully made and exceptionally well balanced. Every time I see the Bosworth booth at a fiber festival, I'm tempted to buy another, but I've been good the past several times. David was offering these up at a very reasonable price, however, so I couldn't pass them up. The one on the left has a whorl made from American Chestnut and is 26 grams; the one on the right is Bloodwood and 42 grams. They're even more beautiful when they're in good daylight -- unfortunately the sun has been hiding all weekend, so gloomy light it is. Perhaps having these gorgeous new tools on hand will inspire me to get to more of my stash fiber!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Itch Sufficiently Scratched

I'm sure you all laughed at my assertion that I could quit mosaic knitting any time I wanted to -- I think we all know there's not likely to be an end to it anytime soon! But, having completed another project last night, I think I'm ready to take a brief pause.

Pattern: Lattice Have Pie Towel by Amy Marie
Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie (100% cotton) in Pomegranate and Linen
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: January 18/January 22
Mods: added rows to the bottom and top to even out the motif placement

This towel/cloth/whatever you want to call it was so much fun to knit that I could not put it down. I can tell that as I'm gaining more experience with mosaic knitting, I'm getting faster at it. The wonderful thing about mosaic knitting, particularly if you are used to using charts, is that you really don't need much more than the chart to knit a mosaic pattern. I can highly recommend this pattern, though, because the designer not only gives you a separate chart for each motif (so that you can put them in whatever order you like), she also gives you all three charts with the colors reversed, which is especially helpful if you're like me and have a hard time remembering to mentally reverse the colors shown in a chart.

I really can't say enough nice things about the yarn, either. It feels nicer to me than the typical big box store kitchen cotton, and it's really nice having a full 100 g skein/ball to work with. I used about half of the red and a little less than half of the linen, so theoretically I could do and exact replica of this cloth with the colors reversed if I wanted to. Though I certainly noticed hand fatigue faster with this cotton than I would with wool, I had a much easier time than I usually do when knitting dishcloths.

I'm sure there will be more mosaic knitting in the not-so-distant future, but for now, I'm taking a little break. This completed cloth will be put away for a couple of months for my sister-in-law's birthday in March, and I will be getting back to my wool projects.

Though I have not yet had a chance to write up a review on Goodreads, I finished The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell on Tuesday evening just before bed, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It reads like a memoir, but it is a work of fiction (though if you read the author's acknowledgments at the end, you'll discover that it is, in a sense, autobiographical). Last night I just barely started reading Olive Kitteridge. I'd been waiting for it from the library, but then my mother told me that she'd wound up with two copies of it due to a snafu with her address, so she gave me the extra copy. It feels a bit strange to be reading a physical book after getting so accustomed to reading ebooks, but I'm enjoying the writing and know it will be a good read.

We have a relatively normal weekend coming up, with a little added excitement in the form of the delivery of our new washer and dryer on Saturday (oh, the things that become exciting as you get older!), and I am hoping to find time to cast on my next sweater. I've already wound the yarn and swatched, so all that's left to do is cast on!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

I Can Quit Any Time

Over the long weekend, I came to a little bit of a realization: I may be addicted to mosaic knitting. Now, I know what you're thinking: How can this possibly be a problem? Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you that it's not necessarily a problem -- until, that is, you start ignoring or even outright neglecting your other projects.

First there was the Turkish Tiles dishcloth, which had some errors in it because I was new, but I was nevertheless quite enchanted with the technique.

Then there came the hedgehog and its insane adorableness:

Pattern: Hedgehog Hotpad by Cassandra Bibler
Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie (100% cotton) in Coffee and Swan
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: January 8/January 17

And now I'm knitting a pie:

Lattice Have Pie Towel
I really didn't expect to have this much done by now, but apparently when I start knitting on this, it's hard for me to stop, and now it's looking like it'll be finished up in the next couple of days. I really should be working on a design sample right now, one that was started last year (well, in December), but all I want to do is a dishcloth. In cotton. Who am I?

I am going to finish up this latest project (because it needs to be done anyway for a knitalong) and then take a break, though Rainbow has been dropping heavy hints that she'd love another cloth with a sloth on it, and as I haven't found a pattern for one, that means that I'll have to design it myself.

I had hoped to do a lot of reading over the weekend, but I was (ahem) a bit distracted. Even so, I'm now more than halfway through a good read, The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell. I know one of you recommended it, but I can't remember who it was, so if it was you, thank you! It's been just the easy and enjoyable read I've needed.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Little Meditation

What a wild winter weekend it has been. We woke up yesterday (thanks to the beeping of the salt truck back up our street) to snow, which was followed in short order by sleet, freezing rain, and finally plain old rain. It was a miserable day, and though Rainbow and I did have to make a trip to the grocery store, we spent most of it inside, staying warm and dry. Today is thankfully less exciting, with just some scattered light snow showers, but it is very cold and windy out there, so I was more than happy to spend some time at my wheel, which is conveniently located next to the radiator in our bedroom. It is a relaxing and meditative way to spend an otherwise lazy Sunday.

This is oatmeal BFL from Fibernymph Dye Works. I'd intended to spin it a bit thicker, but I guess my fingers had other plans. I'm spinning from one end of the top to the other, and when all the singles are done, I'll wind them off into a center-pull ball and ply it back on itself.

While I've been spinning today, I've been watching the Netflix series Unbelievable. I had heard good things about it, but it wasn't until I started watching that I realized that I was familiar with the true story upon which the show is based thanks to an episode of This American Life. I'm only about halfway through the series but can already recommend it (and I can definitely recommend the podcast episode).

I'm looking forward to another quiet evening of crafting and reading and a bit of sleeping in tomorrow for the final day of our long weekend. Remind me again why I decided it was a good idea to schedule Rainbow's dentist appointment for first thing in the morning on a rare Monday off?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thinking in Threes

I've got three things on my mind today, which works perfectly for joining in with Carole and friends.

1. Current WIPs
I am just about finished with my relay sock (and my apologies for the terrible lighting in this photo -- it's a very dark morning here). I've got about half an inch to knit on the foot before I'm ready to start the toe, and I expect that I'll be able to wrap it up during my lunch break tonight.

As soon as this is done, I'll be turning back to work on my hedgehog dishcloth, as that also needs to get done this month. I'm itching to get back to my granny square blanket, but I'm not pulling it out again until the obligation knitting is done.

2. Reading
I finished Raven Black last Friday, meaning it took me only two days to read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I've already added the additional Shetland series books to my Want to Read list and have put a hold on book 2 at the library.  Earlier in the week, I started reading The Murmur of Bees, which I've had in my Kindle library for a while (it was a freebie a while back) and was inspired to finally read thanks to several good reviews by friends. I had a little trouble getting into it and was a bit confused at first (most chapters are from the point of view of an omniscient narrator, but there are chapters every so often told in the first person, and I didn't understand initially who that person was), but now that I'm about 2/3 of the way through it, I'm enjoying it. I expect I'll be able to finish it by the end of the week.

3. Planning ahead
Before my relay turn came up and I had to start the sock, I had started swatching for my first sweater of the year. I'm planning to knit Jennifer Steingass's Darkwater (though I keep calling it "Deepwater"), finally -- I bought the yarn for it almost a year ago! I love my Humulus so much that I'm using the same yarn, HipStrings Buoy DK. Yes, I know the pattern is written for fingering, but the gauge is really more of a DK gauge. Also, I find Buoy to be a little on the light/thin side for a DK, really more of a heavy sport, so I'm confident I can knit it at the gauge the pattern specifies and still get good drape in the fabric.

We have a long weekend ahead due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, and it will likely be a quiet one. The Mister is actually headed out of town early on Saturday morning for a work trip, and we're also expecting a bit of wintry weather to head through, so I will be happy to stay at home and craft with Rainbow. I hope it's an equally relaxing weekend for you!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Doodling in Yarn

This past weekend was a good one for finishing. On Saturday evening, in addition to finishing up the skein of handspun I shared on Sunday, I also finished the latest pair of socks I've been designing. That was perfect timing, because on Sunday evening I had to cast on a new project that is time sensitive.

One of the make-alongs I've been participating in recently is the Down Cellar Studio podcast Pigskin Party. Jen hosts this annual event to coincide with the NFL season, and throughout the event there are various challenges and short-term mini events. This year Jen introduced a new team challenge, and one of the final events for the team challenge is a head-to-toe relay. The goal is to produce items to cover a person from head to toe, with each participating team member completing an item. The catch is that only one person can be crafting at a time, so it's a bit of a race to finish up the project so the next person can start. There are bonus points for yardage used and more difficult techniques, like cabling and stranded colorwork.

Because I'm pretty fast as them, I volunteered to do one of the socks. The other sock knitter and I also agreed that we could do colorwork for bonus points. I had an idea for a stranded sock pattern, so I figured this would be a good way to swatch -- because a sock is small enough that knitting one isn't much more work than doing a serious swatch. I cast on Sunday evening and as of this morning have most of the heel flap complete.

This photo was taken at the end of my lunch break yesterday, so there's a bit more knit by now, but you can get a good feel for the pattern (the rest of the leg is a mirror of the smaller motifs). I am using some Knit Picks Felici for the main color, and the black contrast is some very deep stash Knit Picks Essential. You can tell it's old because Knit Picks hasn't used that name for that base in a long time; it's now called Stroll. I'm quite pleased with how this "yarn doodle" has worked up, though I can see where it needs a few tweaks. Fortunately I don't have to have a finalized pattern for the relay, just a completed sock, and I imagine another couple of days of knitting with take care of it. I will likely make some changes to the stranded pattern on the foot, and once I figure out what works/what I like best, I can start over with the real thing (which might end up being a pair of socks for Rainbow, as she's already mentioned that she has no colorwork socks and heavily hinted that she'd like a pair). I have to say, it feels really good to be doing some serious swatching and getting something useful out of it in addition to the swatch!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

I Took the One Less Traveled By*

After sustaining the injury the other night (which I fully accept is my own fault), I knew I was capable of knitting but wasn't sure I could spin. I use the injured thumb to draft, and drafting is darn near impossible when you can't feel the fiber because your finger is covered in a bandage. Thankfully, I healed up quickly. I still have a wound there, but it was healed enough by Friday evening to take the bandages off for a while and actually have a Friday evening spinning session! (I typically spend Friday evenings at my wheel, spinning and catching up on video podcasts -- I have my laptop set up on the end of the radiator next to my spinning chair.) I didn't need very much time to finish the rest of the singles, and yesterday I managed to find time to chain-ply the entire bobbin. I'm in love with the results, and I can tell you that the gloomy light today is not allowing these photos to do it justice.

The colors are rich and dark and moody. The fiber was a delight to spin. If you've never spun Bond, I highly recommend getting your hands on some. I'd describe it as being like Merino in its softness but with a little more toothiness to it. The finished skein is fingering to sport, with a tight twist, and about 333 yards. This spin was pure comfort spinning to me, and I'm actually a little sad that it's done.

I mentioned last week that I had some stash enhancements come in the mail. I showed you one skein of yarn but alluded to there being more. Also in that package from Fibernymph Dye Works were two bundles of fiber:

On top is 4 oz. of Falkland in the colorway Cosmic Vertigo. On the bottom is 4 oz. of oatmeal BFL in the colorway Winter Deep. I'm planning to turn the BFL into a relatively thick two ply, and I think the Falkland will make a spectacular three-ply fingering for sock yarn. I know I really wasn't in need of any more fiber, but I didn't have any of Lisa's fiber in my stash and she had a good end-of-year sale, so I decided to treat myself.

*The title of this post is a nod to the colorway of the completed spin, Two Roads Diverged. If somehow you're not familiar with the poem these two lines come from, go take a minute and read it.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

That Was Most Unfortunate

Today I'm asking you to forgive any errant typos you see in this post because I'm typing wounded:

Last night, in a misguided attempt to save time, I decided to get out my mandoline (similar to this one, though my blade goes straight across) to slice some zucchini for my dinner instead of using my handheld spiralizer. It came with a hand/finder guard, which I foolishly decided not to use. And I paid for it -- I not only sliced the vegetables, I also sliced off a chunk of my thumb. And of course it's my right thumb, which is most inconvenient because I'm extremely right-handed. It's complicating pretty much everything I do with my hands, but amazingly I am still able to knit, albeit carefully. The Mister wondered if I should go to urgent care to get stitched, but there's really not anything to stitch together, so I think I'm stuck with lots of Bandaids for the time being.

Once I was fully bandaged up, I managed to finish up a blanket square, save weaving in ends (which I don't yet have the dexterity for) and blocking. I'm hopeful I'll be able to accomplish both this weekend.

This square is going to be part of a comfort blanket for Amy of the Ross Farm, and I used leftovers of Ross Farm Shetland yarns for all of it. The lace panel at the center is a heart, which should open up a bit after blocking. The blanket was the brainchild of my friend Lisa (the dyer behind Fibernymph Dye Works), and the two of us will be seaming all the squares together into a blanket and delivering it to Amy.

I had a little bit of time before bed after I bound the square off, so I started a dishcloth. It's also a project on my 20 in 2020 list and it counts for a knitalong I'm participating in, so I feel like I'm multitasking. I've only gotten a handful of rows done so far, and I appreciate that it doesn't look like much yet.

I'm using this pattern and two skeins of the Knit Picks Dishie I bought in the Great Kitchen Cotton Acquisition of 2019. The colors are Coffee (deep brown) and Swan (natural white). I expect that when it's done, Rainbow will inherit it; in addition to her obsession with sloths, she's also quite enamored with hedgehogs.

Because the knitting is rather boring at the moment (and also won't photograph well) and it's Thursday, how about we talk about reading, specifically the three books I've finished so far this year?
  1. My first book finished of the year was an Amazon First Read freebie, Room to Breathe. As a vacation read, it served its purpose, but I'm glad I didn't pay for it. It was moderately entertaining but not especially well written, at least not in terms of character development. All the characters felt very one-dimensional to me. I gave it 2 stars.
  2. Yesterday, I finished reading our next online book club selection, Fever. This one I liked a lot better, and it was certainly very well written and well researched (save for one mention of crocheting with needles!). I did enjoy the first half of the book more than the second half, though, and my lack of enjoyment of that section pulled my overall rating down to 3 stars. The book did give me a lot to think about, though, and I'm looking forward to our discussion of it.
  3. Finally, just this morning, I finished listening to the fifth Inspector Gamache novel, The Brutal Telling. I'd started listening to it while taking my long walks in Florida, and it's been good company on my commute this week. I won't give anything away, but I will say that I'm still a bit shocked about the ending of this one. As is always the case, I enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars and am looking forward to reading book six!
Up next is my first Ann Cleeves book, Raven Black (the first in her Shetland series). My hold from the library very conveniently came up this morning, just in time!

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

New Year, New Socks

Given that I describe myself as a "recovering sock addict," it seems perfectly appropriate that my first finished project of the year is a pair of socks. They're also the first thing I can cross off my 20 in 2020 list!

Pattern: Non-Euclidian
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in 12 Days of Christmas, one skein
Needles: US 0/2.0 mm Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: December 24, 2019/January 5, 2020
Mods: adjusted placement of heel decreases (see below)

These were cast on to be my Christmas Day movie knitting; the other socks I had on the needles at the time were patterned and thus not suitable for knitting in the dark. I cast on and knit the cuff only that day and then got about four inches of leg done in the movie. I think the first sock was finished on New Year's Eve, because the Mister and I went to see The Rise of Skywalker on New Year's Day and I worked on the start of the second sock during that. The majority of the second sock was knit on the plane on Saturday, and it's probably the reason I didn't completely lose my mind during that long delay!

The modification I made to the heel is the same one I did in my last pair of Non-Euclidians. Instead of working the decreases as described in the pattern (which are done while working a flap back and forth under the heel), I resumed working in the round after turning the heel and worked mirrored decreases toward the center of the sole, starting at the edges of the stitches left after the heel turn. It's a bit hard to describe, but I think it makes much more sense if you look at the socks.

I'm still working on the other socks, which are a new design that will be released next month; I should start the heel during lunch today. I've also got another design sample on the needles (you saw a peek at it last week -- it's the sock yarn held together with mohair/silk), but I'm already plotting my next cast on. I'm late getting on the mohair/silk bandwagon, but I'm solidly on.

The skein on the left is a OOAK skein of FDW Beguiled, a 75/20/5 blend of superwash merino, nylon, and Stellina, that I got in my grab bag last year. I thought I'd use it for a hat for me, but that was all the thought I'd given it. And then I so enjoyed knitting Rainbow's Neon that I thought I'd use it for one for myself, but I'd kick it up a notch in the warmth department by holding a strand of mohair/silk alongside the DK. Lisa just so happened to be having an end-of-year sale, so this skein of Floof in the colorway American Rust found its way to me (along with a few other things that I'll share once I have decent light to snap some photos). I think that these two yarns together are going to look pretty amazing and be extremely warm, which is what I really want for walking to and from work in the winter. I mentioned my plan to Rainbow, and naturally she also expressed interest in having a hat with some mohair, so it appears this skein will be doing double duty -- luckily there's a lot of yardage in this 50 g skein!

Sunday, January 05, 2020


We are home, after a bit of an ordeal, to be honest, and getting back into the swing of things. We flew home yesterday after a truly lovely and restful vacation. We'd booked a 1 p.m. flight, which would get us home in the late afternoon time frame, giving us all a bit of time to unpack and catch up on the mail and generally settle last night. Unfortunately, all did not go as planned. The flight was showing as on time, and we boarded the plane at about 12:30 and then taxied to the runway at a bit past 1 (though I wasn't too concerned just yet, because when the pilot had come on to welcome us onboard, he'd said that the flight was about an hour and 55 minutes from takeoff to landing, so I knew that even if we left after the posted departure time, we'd still be on the ground by our estimated 3:30 p.m. arrival). When we got to the runway, though, I noticed a long line of planes waiting to board. We were informed after waiting a few minutes that the backup was due to the air traffic controllers' trying to avoid congestion in the airspace because of some storms and rain on the west coast of Florida. Then we were put on a ground delay as the weather moved over us. In all, we were sitting on the tarmac for a bit more than two hours and finally took off a bit before 3. We landed around 5, and thankfully there were no hiccups after that. The Mister immediately went to get the car while Rainbow and my parents and I grabbed the luggage (which was already on the belt by the time we got to baggage claim),  and the five of us went directly to a restaurant in our neighborhood for dinner before heading home to unpack. Though we probably all could have gone to bed a bit earlier, we all got a good night's sleep and got everything done at home without feeling too rushed.

We did have to do some of the normal chores and errands today, but it's largely been a relaxing day. As has been the case practically every other year we've gone away in the winter, I had a strong urge to spin as soon as we got home, so I spent about two hours at my wheel today, working on the lovely fiber that was already in the process of being spun. I found it apropos that the colors of the wool are very similar to the colors of winter up north -- muted and moody.

I've got about a foot and a half of combed top left to spin, and I expect that I will get in some extra time this week after being away from it so long.

One of my goals for 2020 is to really spin up more of my stash, particularly as I still have fiber coming in once a month from the Southern Cross Fibre club. This fiber, for instance, came in right before we left:

This one's called Pretty (aptly named!), and it's on South African Superfine Merino, which feels like kittens. It's actually even more vibrant in person, but it's a typical dreary winter day here, which does mute everything colorful.

In addition to getting to a lot of the hand-dyed fiber in my stash, I've also decided that 2020 will be The Year of the Fleece. I have quite a lot of unspun fleece fiber, some completely ready to spin and some washed but not yet processed. I have enough that I could knit several sweaters out of it, if I would just get around to spinning the yarn, so I have set myself some modest goals of spinning up several ounces of at least two fleeces. One is washed, carded, and already divided into 2 oz. bundles; one is the beautiful Romney/Romeldale cross I bought at MDSW 2018 that I've already sampled. I think I might wait until spring/summer for the latter so I can take my drum carder outside and leave the mess there, but I think you can expect to see the former soon. Hold me to that, will you?

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Encounters with Wildlife

If I were not on vacation, I'd be sitting at my desk at work right now, counting the minutes until 5 p.m. Instead, I am very thankful to be sitting outside with a view of palm trees and blue sky. I'm soaking up every bit of warmth and sun I can get!

Today is what I'm viewing as our penultimate day of vacation (we fly home early Saturday afternoon, but my father is a bit neurotic about leaving early, so that means we'll likely be leaving for the airport right after breakfast). We've been taking this vacation for a number of years, but as Rainbow has been fairly young for most of those years, our activities have mainly been limited to relaxing by the pool, going to the beach, going out to eat, and shopping. Today, however, we decided to do something completely different. We drove about 30 miles away to a marina and took a boat tour to see manatees, among other exotic wildlife.

It's very hard to see, but that lighter brownish blob just to the right of the pylons? That's a manatee! It was one of several we saw, including a mama manatee and her baby. This one was enjoying all the yellow leaves from the mangrove trees that had fallen on the surface of the water. The water in this spot was shallow enough that we could see it pretty clearly and watch it "crawl" along the bottom with its flippers.

We also saw quite a few alligators along the sides of the waterway, though we didn't get so close.

This guy seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.

We don't have to travel far to see some other wildlife, though. I've been running or taking long walks (like 6+ miles!) almost every day, and in addition to seeing lots of birds like herons and egrets and ducks on or near the water features in the development and tons of little lizards sunning themselves on the sidewalks, I also spotted this guy as I was nearly back to the house the other day:

I was a bit worried he was going to get himself run over, but as you can see he was a bit scared by my being so close to him, so I didn't want to traumatize him more by lifting him up and carrying him the rest of the way to the grass. I decided he was close enough, and I didn't see any remnants of a squashed turtle the next day, so he must have been fine.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a break from the wild animals and go read a trashy book outside. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Unraveling the Year's Plans

I know there are some people who like to end the year with no projects in progress and start fresh in the new year, but I am not one of them. I would feel very twitchy with nothing on the needles, even if only for a brief period of time, not to mention that because I'm away from home from the vast majority of stash and some of my projects, it's not really feasible for me.

I am, however, thinking about what I want to knit and spin in 2020, and I have some pretty lofty plans. Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works and the 90% Knitting podcast is sponsoring a 20 in 2020 make-along, so I've made a list (which I'll be able to change at the beginning of each quarter) of 20 projects I'd like to make, 20 stash yarns I'd like to use, and 20 items in my fiber stash I'd like to spin. My project list is heavy on sweaters, and I plan to get started on the first of those after we get home.

Here's where the WIPs stand at the moment (at least the WIPs that are on vacation with me):

The socks you have seen. I have not yet started the second design sock, but I will soon. I cast on the second 12 Days of Christmas sock this morning because the Mister and I are going to see Star Wars this evening and I need to have appropriate theater knitting. The one you haven't seen is the start of a new hat design that I'm knitting with a strand of sock yarn held together with a strand of mohair/silk. I wish you could pet it -- it's unbelievably soft and fuzzy!

The two WIPs that aren't pictured are the ones that stayed home: my crochet granny square blanket and my current spinning project.

I have enough experience with trying to limit myself to know that I shouldn't declare that I won't buy yarn this year and only work from stash, but I really do want to make a better effort to use up stash this year. The sweaters on my 20 in 2020 list will all use yarn I already have, and I really want to do more charity knitting this year as well. I have so many half or partial skeins of DK and worsted weight yarn in my stash, and that stuff is perfect for hats and mittens.

While my Ravelry notebook is great for keeping track of stuff, I think I'm also going to follow Lisa's lead and create a spreadsheet of my projects -- all my projects -- so I can track how much yarn and fiber I use up over the course of the year. I'm not setting a goal for how much I want to use or anything like that; I just want to get a better idea of what's being used.

How about you? What do you have planned in terms of your crafting for 2020?