Thursday, October 29, 2020

Three-WIP Roundup

I'm joining with Carole and friends for Three on Thursday today, which is just perfect for the three WIPs I have that I didn't mention yesterday.

First, there are the socks I'm knitting for my mother for her holiday gift this year. You saw the yarn last week, and I mentioned that I was going to try something with some slipped stitches. I got about half an inch into the leg and decided that I couldn't really see the slipped stitches, so I ripped back to the end of the ribbing and decided to do a plain stockinette sock. As it turned out, the yarn behaved so beautifully that it was the right choice.

There's a tiny bit of pooling in the gusset (which is finished now), but the stitch count and gauge combination worked out such that there's almost a micro striping effect. I'm really pleased, and I think my mother will be, too. The one variation I've made to my plain sock recipe is to use what I've come to think of as an inverted gusset (the method I used in these socks). It requires a little extra attention on my part, but I think it's worth it for the cozy fit.

I've been picking up my Hitchhiker here and there, and it's now grown to 20 points (soon to be 21 -- I'm at the beginning of a bind-off row).

Once again my lighting isn't great today, so I had to edit this photo a bit, but I think you can see some slight differences in the color. I still have 86 g of the 119 I started with, so still quite a bit of knitting to go.

Finally, there's a project you haven't see in a while: the C2C crochet blanket. It's actually grown quite a bit since I last shared it, though it's been probably a couple of weeks at least since I last put in any time on it.

I was getting sick of having to pause to unwind yarn from the oblong skein it came in, so I dug out the other end from the inside and wound it into a cake on my yarn winder. There are two because there was a break in the skein at one point. The other nice benefit of doing this is that I can weigh the remaining yarn much more easily as I go, and that will help me determine when I've gone through half the yarn and can start decreasing. I really thought this was going to be an enormous blanket, but it looks like it'll end up being more of a lap blanket, and that's just fine. I'd really like to devote some time to this to get it finished, so perhaps that will be my next top priority after I finish my sweater.

That's all from me for today! I'll be back on Sunday with some spinning content.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Not Setting Any Speed Records

Since we've been home, I've tried to get my posts up first thing in the morning, but this week, it seems, has been getting away from me, so now I'm trying to squeeze in a post before it's time to go pick Rainbow up from school! As it's Wednesday, I'm joining Kat and the Unravelers to talk about knitting and reading.

I've been juggling a few knitting projects, but the one I'm focusing on this week is my Radiate pullover. I am very confident that I will soon be done with the body.

This isn't a great photo, partly because I stink at taking selfies (especially in a mirror) and partly because we're on day five of gloom, but I think it's sufficient to illustrate two facts: one, it fits, and two, the body has gotten significantly longer. When I measured last night, I had about 11 inches of body done below the arms. I need to get to 13.5 inches to start the ribbing. I'm also only on the third of five blues in the gradient, and it's looking increasingly like the darkest blue won't be touched at all. Based on nothing but supposition, I've been transitioning to a new color when I have 40-ish grams of yarn left. When I'm ready to start the sleeves, I'll divide what I have left of each shade of blue in half and try to match the sleeves to the body as best I can.

My reading has slowed somewhat, in part because I've been trying to catch up on some audio and video podcasts, but I have finished two books in the past week:

With the possible exception of Louise Penny, I would say the James McBride has the most books on my read list this year. The Good Lord Bird was the third, and while I didn't like it as much as the other two, it was still a good read, in large part because of his talent as a writer. His characters are such, well, characters! And I found this book to be surprisingly funny, given that it's about John Brown and the raid on Harper's Ferry, a decidedly serious subject. I'm now interested in watching the miniseries that just came out based on the book, if only to see how well McBride's characters translate to on the screen. I gave the book 4 stars.

Tuck Everlasting
was a reread for me; I originally read it in the fifth grade for school. I think I've mentioned that Rainbow attends the same school I did, and while the curriculum has changed quite a bit since I was there, it seems this book is still on the English reading list in fifth grade. She asked me to read it so we could talk about it, and it only took me about a day to do so (you have to love children's literature for that!). I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it -- often books we liked as children fall flat when we revisit them as adults. I think I had more appreciation for the big issues of mortality and immortality now that I'm older (and maybe wiser?). I gave it 4 stars as well.

I'm currently reading just one book, The Night Watchman, which I know many of you have read and enjoyed. I'm about a third of the way through it and am still waiting for it to grab me. I will finish it, but at the moment I'm finding it a little slow and hard to follow because there are so many characters to keep straight. I've got several weeks until my next round of holds from the library, so I'll be making my way through some books I already have. I'm currently at 87(!) books finished for the year, so it looks like I just might make that stretch goal of 100!

I will be back tomorrow with some updates on my other projects, but I would love to hear what you're working on and reading these days!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

One Little Word: October 2020

Is anyone else scratching their head this morning and wondering how it already got to be the end of October? It seems like I was just writing Septemer's OLW post, and yet here we are again. Many thanks to Honoré of Morning Glory Studio for hosting these monthly link-ups. You can find my previous OLW posts here.

I started thinking about this post yesterday and reflecting on what I've been savoring the past month, and it occurred to me that there's been something very obvious in my life for quite some time now. One thing that I've really come to savor during these "quarantimes" has been working from home.

Before working from home became the norm, there were times when I did bring work home with me -- mainly because there were tight deadlines to be met and not enough hours in the day when I was in the office to meet them -- and I really resented it. Part of the reason I've stayed in my current job rather than going back to teaching is because I was able to keep work at work and not have to bring it home with me. But things are different now. Although technically the schedule is the same, there is so much more flexibility now. As long as I get my work done in time and show up for the regular team meetings, no one really cares if I'm doing work from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. I can take my "lunch" break whenever it's convenient for me, which has given me the opportunity to get in the exercise that is so critical to my physical and mental health (trying to cram it in around a more rigid work schedule has always gotten in the way in the past). Because I'm able to pick up Rainbow at the end of the school day now, she no longer has to stay for the after-school program, which means we're no longer spending extra money on that and I get more time with her, especially as she now likes to join me in the bedroom (my work-from-home "office") to do her homework in the afternoon. And I'm even getting more sleep, because I no longer have a commute and am not worrying about doing my hair or makeup every morning -- heck, I even start my day in my pajamas sometimes!

I've often fantasized in the past about quitting my day job to be a stay-at-home mom and devote more time to designing, especially considering that my salary at my job isn't contributing that much to our household income (I do work for a nonprofit, after all). But aside from the practical considerations, like the fact that we get our health insurance through my job and we wouldn't have the option to have the same carrier through the Mister's company, I also like the intellectual stimulation of my job and the example I'm setting for Rainbow as a working mother. Working from home full time is the best of both worlds because I'm able to have my career and also be available as a parent. And it also feels like it's enabling me to be more productive and less stressed, because I can do things like throw in a load of laundry or whip up a batch of banana bread in between projects (or when I need a break), and when I'm in the middle of a slow period at work, I no longer have to just sit at my desk looking productive -- I can actually do things like read or knit or spin! Yes, I'm technically still tied to my computer, but I feel like I have a lot more control over how I spend my day and how I get my work done.

It seems that I'll be savoring my current work situation for the foreseeable future, at least through the end of the year but likely into the spring. And I have no complaints about that. I do miss some aspects of getting up and going to the office every day, but I would also be perfectly happy if I never did that again.

I'm looking forward to hearing how your One Little Word has shown up in your life this month!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Spinning Down the List

It took a lot of willpower for me not to share this skein earlier this week (though I did post it on Instagram, so my apologies if you're seeing it again -- I promise I'm not trying to spam you!). I'm absolutely in love with how this turned out and have been tempted to carry it around like my baby.

My chain-plied Southern Cross Fibre Rambouillet ended up about sport weight and 333-ish yards. What was most incredible to me is that despite how saturated these colors are, there was absolutely no run-off in the water when I washed the skein. The yarn is incredibly springy (in the sense of being elastic) and soft, and it would make something excellent to be worn around the neck. I haven't yet decided what that will be, but you can bet your buttons I'm keeping this one for myself.

I have been toying with the idea of spinning some newer SCF shipments, but I really do want to cross everything off my 20 in 2020 lists this year, and I'm getting awfully close on the fiber list. Next up, therefore, was a shipment from the HipStrings Synergy Club, which I was in a couple of years ago. I seem to have misplaced the insert explaining all the components, so I'm really just guessing at this point what I'm spinning. There were three bags total in the box, two with blended fiber (both composed of 37.5% BFL, 37.5% Shetland, 12.5% mulberry silk, and 12.5% tussah silk) and one with smaller portions of what I believe is all the components separate. The blended fiber bags held 4 oz. of what appeared to be combed top and 1 oz. of what may have been pulled roving. I'm honestly not sure, but it seems like a good guess. I decided to spin a crepe yarn with those two bags of fiber -- essentially a single (spun in the opposite direction compared to normal) plied with a two-ply yarn. I started with the combed top, which I'll wind off into a center-pull ball and ply back on itself for a two-ply yarn. Here's a look at the fiber:

I'm fairly certain the wool is all undyed and the red is all silk here. When spun into singles, it has a marled appearance:

I expect I'll be able to finish up these singles tomorrow and then will let them rest while I spin the single from the other bag of fiber.

In the meantime, once I finish up my fiber list, I have some interesting rare breed fiber to dig into! My Rhinebeck weekend fiber purchase from the Ross Farm arrived this week. I purchased from Amy specifically because I was missing her and being in the booth surrounded by the amazing breed-specific yarn and fiber. These two bags will be my first Shave 'Em to Save 'Em entries.

SE2SE is an effort by the Livestock Conservancy to bring awareness to (and, it's hoped, thereby save) rare and critically endangered sheep breeds. I picked up a "passport" at Maryland Sheep and Wool last year, but I hadn't yet gotten around to adding any entries just yet, and it seemed like the perfect time to do so. On the left in the photo above is CVM -- that stands for California Variegated Mutant -- which is on the Threatened breeds list. On the right is Florida Cracker, which is actually an extremely rare breed (it's on the Critical list, the most endangered) and not a derogatory name for some yahoo in the panhandle. I have spun CVM before and really enjoyed it, but this will be my first time spinning Florida Cracker, and one big reason I'm anxious to get through my 20 in 2020 fiber list is so I can play with these! Perhaps winter break this year will be a good time to let loose with some new sheep breeds -- provided I can tackle my lists before then.

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?

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Spin I'm In

For a quick minute, I thought I might have two new skeins of handspun to share with you today. The week started off pretty calm at work, so I was able to finish up the singles for one skein in just a few days. Almost as soon as I started the second, though, I got bombarded at work, so it had to wait a bit, and instead I have only photos of singles to share today. But at least they are pretty singles!

Both of these yarns are being spun more or less the same way, and it's one of my favorite ways to spin yarn these days. I split each batch of fiber into thinner strips, which I'm then spinning end to end one after the other so I can preserve the colors. I will be chain-plying the resulting singles (for the uninitiated, that means creating a mock three-ply yarn with one strand by essentially creating really long crochet chains and twisting them) and hoping for a fingering weight yarn with both. Because I was spinning both batches of fiber the same, I decided to spin the singles for both before plying. On the one hand, it's easier to ply singles that have had some time to rest a bit (the twist gets a little less active over time), but on the other, I also didn't have to worry about making adjustments to how I was spinning from one project to the other, which makes it really easy to go on auto-pilot as I'm spinning.

The first completed singles were spun from Corriedale in the colorway Caravaggio:

In addition to the deep red and brown you can see here, there's also some beautiful blue and light tan, those the darker colors predominate, as you would expect in a colorway inspired by Caravaggio.

Peeking from underneath the finished bobbin is the second skein in progress, which I'm now about a third of the way through. This is Kandinsky on Rambouillet, and the colors are simply stunning and so saturated.

I still have quite a bit of actual work that's going to occupy me for the start of the new work week, but I hope that once that's done I'll be able to finish these singles and start plying. So perhaps at this time next week I will actually have two new skeins to share!

Part of the reason I've been so keen to spin up older club shipments is that I'm still in the club and still receiving new shipments each month. The two most recent have arrived in the past several weeks; July took its good time arriving due to all the mail delays.

July was Dahlia on merino/silk:

The color is blowing out a bit, and the shine of the silk isn't showing as best as it could. I'm pretty sure this wants to be some two-ply lace.

August is Flora on Bond, and this makes me think of an apple orchard:

I'm thinking two ply for this, too, but very barberpoled -- maybe a fractal?

Both of these new clubs are going into the stash for the time being, though, because I am determined to get through more of the backlog!

Friday, October 09, 2020

Some Happy Thoughts to End the Week

Friends, I am so glad it is Friday. It's been a strangely long week, made even longer yesterday by the arrival of not one but two large work projects yesterday. I have a lot of reading to do today, and not the sort I'd prefer to be doing. But it's Friday, and there's a weekend ahead of me (a three-day weekend for Rainbow, thanks to a teacher in-service day on Monday), so today I'm sharing some little things that are making me happy.

The leaves are starting to change in my neighborhood, and I stopped on my walk the other day to snap this photo of one of the trees on my route. I love how you can see the chlorophyll gradually draining from the leaf -- nature is pretty amazing, isn't it?

The Mister and I received our ballots in the mail about a week ago and were planning to drop them off in person at our county elections office, but then my brother (who lives about two blocks from us) mentioned that he'd mailed his in and it had been received and processed in about a day, we decided to risk it. The Mister dropped them at our local post office, and two days later I got this email:


Now I can officially say that I've voted! Have you? Please, please make sure that you do!

On a related civic duty note, we all got our flu shots yesterday (and though my arm is a little sore today, I can tell you with all honesty that I barely felt the shot). Please get yours soon!

I've been working a lot on my Radiate pullover this week, and I'm headed into the weekend with a completed yoke and the start of the transition to the second color in my blue gradient:

I know it looks impossibly tiny here, but I promise it's not. I've tried it on and it does fit, plus I expect it will grow a bit when I block it because the yarn is superwash.

Finally, because today would have been John Lennon's 80th birthday, I'll leave you with his thoughts:

Have a good weekend, all! See you here again on Sunday for some spinning.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

A Welcome Surprise

Good morning! I didn't expect to post today because I shared my WIPs yesterday and one day later don't have much more to show, but I have finished a couple of books in the last week, so here I am to join up with Kat and the Unravelers.

I've heard Breathe: A Letter to My Sons compared to Between the World and Me, and I'd say it's a fair comparison. Addressed to her sons, who have the sometimes dangerous role of growing up as Black young men in America, Perry examines her experiences as a Black woman and her heritage, upbringing, education, and religious beliefs have shaped her. In many ways, this is a memoir, but it's also part political and social commentary, and the writing is simply exquisite. It's a short book that does not take a lot of time to read, but it deserves a slow read. I gave it 4 stars.

Just before bed last night I finished the 11th book in the Inspector Gamache series, The Nature of the Beast. I'd put a hold on it at the library as soon as I finished the previous book and was pleasantly surprised by how soon I received it. I have to say that I can imagine it's hard to keep things fresh and exciting when writing a series about one character (especially when that character is a homicide detective who retired from the police force in the previous book!), but Louise Penny has yet to disappoint me. This installment involved international arms dealers, espionage, and a serial killer -- in addition to the usual murder mystery and the delightful inhabitants of Tree Pines. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently reading The Women of Brewster Place and am nearly halfway through.

The surprise I hinted at in the title is a package that arrived yesterday. I was expecting it -- that wasn't the surprise -- but there was more inside the package than what I had ordered.

This past weekend would have been my favorite local fiber event, Indie Knit & Spin, which was obviously canceled as an in-person event like so many others this year. Rebecca of Dusty Tree had been posting about some special Halloween-inspired soaps, so I decided to place an order with her to stock up, considering how much we wash our hands (have you noticed how hard it's been to find liquid hand soap lately?). The surprise was the bonus package inside, containing an extra bar of soap (the delicious-smelling Latte Bubbles), a small skein of yarn, a set of stitch markers, a lotion bar, a lip balm, and a drawstring bag. Getting fancy soap in the mail was enough of a treat, so I was pretty blown away by the surprise gift. Rebecca is a delightful person who makes amazing soap and also dyes beautiful yarn (you may remember that I used her yarn in my Sky in the Stream shawl). I always feel good about supporting local small businesses, so it was so nice to not only get what I'd ordered so fast but to get a lovely hand-written note, too, thanking me for my business. I can also vouch for the soap, too -- it's great stuff!

I hope your Wednesday has some good reading and at least one good surprise in store for you!

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

A WIP Round-up

Greetings from a foggy Tuesday morning! The sun is just starting to peek out as I'm settling into my workday, and I'm taking a few minutes this morning for a WIP update.

I have two projects that I've been actively working on the past week or so. First there's a hat for Rainbow that I started last Thursday after I shared the yarn. I knit a deep ribbed brim using only the slub base, which I then joined for a double-thick hem, and have now moved on to the stockinette body, joining in the mohair-silk.

The knitting is slightly faster now, but I still have to be careful that I'm catching both strands in every stitch (though, truthfully, if I don't quite catch the mohair/silk, it's not going anywhere -- one nice feature of how sticky this yarn is!).

My evening knitting time of late has mainly been focused on my Radiate pullover (Ravelry link).

Last night I got through the last round of increases, so I believe I have just about a dozen more rounds to knit before I split the sleeves from the body. I know it looks a little wonky here, but I think that's just a feature of the needle it's on. I have tried it on, as best I can, and it seems okay, but I think it will need a good blocking. As much as I like the look of the yoke, I'm excited for it to be done and transition to stockinette because it's a slow stitch pattern -- though I have to give Joji credit for a really genius was of working the increases into the patterning.

Seeing as September has been over for nearly a week (how did that happen already?), I wanted to give a little running update. Usually the Mister and I participate in two 5K races each fall, the city's Great Race and one in our neighborhood that serves as a fundraiser for our local Boys & Girls Club. They're usually about a week apart, happening the last Sunday in September and the first Saturday in October. Neither one happened this year, obviously, but the Great Race went virtual. If you signed up, you got your shirt and medal in the mail and had the option to run your own race at any time during the month of September and submit it online. I did it earlier on in the month and was really pleased with my time, but the other day I remembered to look up my time online to see how I did overall and got a nice surprise:

I shaved almost two minutes off my time from last year (27:54), and I was less than two minutes behind the Mister this year (24:12). I guess all the running is really paying off!

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Two Easy Spins

As promised, I have not one but TWO finished skeins of handspun to share this week! I did two quick and dirty spins of some Southern Cross Fibre as part of my effort to plow through older stash. First was a mystery, a bag of fiber that was a prize from Tour de Fleece 2015 (yes, 2015). Not even David knew what the fiber was, and I was clueless as well. All I can tell you is that it was soft! I split it into thirds and did a traditional three ply with it that ended up worsted weight-ish.

The color isn't quite accurate here; it's a bit blown out. This photo of it on the niddy noddy, before washing, is a more accurate representation:

After washing and drying, the skein measured about 140 yards, so it's pretty dense, but that was expected.

Next, I turned to some South African Superfine in a colorway called Fragonard, one of several in a short series that David did inspired by artists. I will admit up front that I never really cared for this colorway, but I also don't care much for Fragonard's art. Still, South African Superfine is lovely stuff to spin. I tried to spin my singles a bit finer and ended up with a slightly thinner yarn (somewhere in the range of sport to DK weight):

The big skein is about 157 yards. The tiny skein was plied on a spindle using the singles that were leftover on one of the bobbins after the first bobbin of the three ran out (there was so little left on the last bobbin that I just tossed it). It's a bit less than 14 yards of fingering weight. Seems like it might be good for an acorn or two, Kat?

Here's a closer view of the big skein, which ended up very marled.

Though I certainly didn't plan it, it occurs to me now that these two skeins might go together very well!

Up next are the other two artist-inspired colorways, Caravaggio (on Corriedale) on the left and Kandinsky (on Rambouillet) on the right:

As you can see, I've split both colorways up lengthwise. The Corriedale split easily into quarters, but the Rambo was a little more temperamental and split into three strips that aren't very even. My plan for both is to spin one bobbin of singles, spinning the strips sequentially, and then chain plying. I've already got Caravaggio on the wheel with the hope that it will become sock yarn (it is Socktober, after all!). These are two colorways I like, so I really want to preserve the colors as much as possible. I don't think I'll have these done by next weekend, but at least I'll have some in-progress shots to show by then!

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Three Projects to Cast On

It's Thursday again, and the start of a new month. Monday it still felt like summer, and then overnight a front came through to bring us some much-needed rain. It's left cooler temperatures in its wake, along with a lot of leaves on the ground, and I'm excited about fall -- true knitting season! I'm joining up with Carole and friends today with three projects I'm getting ready to start in the coming days.

1. Socks for my mother
So far I've gotten holiday gift socks done for my mother-in-law and my two sisters-in-law, so it's my mother's turn next. I bought this skein of Emma's Yarn Practically Perfect Sock at least a year ago, probably more, and I've been thinking that it'd be perfect for my mother for a while. Thankfully it wasn't buried in the stash and I was able to find it easily, so now I just have to wind it to get it ready to go.

2. A hat for Rainbow
These skeins have been wound for a week, but it's a good thing that I hadn't yet cast on because they'll work perfectly for a Pigskin Party challenge for this month to use two yarns held together. I'm planning to make a slouchy hat with these, using the slub base on its own for the brim and then joining in the mohair/silk for the body of the hat. Rainbow can be a bit sensitive to itch, so I figured using the merino/nylon on its own for the part that will be rubbing against her skin would be the best bet.

3. At long last, a Hitchhiker
I'm embarrassed by how long this skein of handspun has been wound and been sitting with the printed pattern next to my computer; I don't know how long it's been precisely, but it's been long enough to gather a layer of dust that I had to clean off. I've been so inspired by Bonny's series of Hitchhikers over the past year or so that I really wanted to finally make one for myself, and I even put it on my 20 in 2020 list, so as we enter the last quarter of the year, it's now or never!

I'm off to get started. I'll see you back here on Sunday with at least one new skein of handspun!