Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Unraveled, Week 25/2021

Good morning! Despite this being my first day of vacation, I was up at the normal time (but I didn't really mind). Wednesdays are always a fun day on the blog because it's my day to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and talk about knitting and reading.

I do not have anything to show you that's exciting in the way of knitting; the only knitting I did yesterday was to finish the stripe I was in the middle of on my ADVENTuresome Wrap, and it doesn't look different enough to warrant a new photo. I can, however, share a photo of my haircut (which was confirmed to be my first since November 2019):

Reading has been very good this past week, in large part due to a run of library holds that came up at more or less the same time (as much as I try to space them out, it always seems to happen this way!). I have finished four books since this time last week.

I read Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space after hearing Sara talk about it on the Novel Pairings podcast and then hearing Mary's recommendation. I'd describe this book as part memoir and part academic study, an unusual but enjoyable combination. This book made me really think about how disability has been portrayed in stories and popular culture over time, and it was really eye-opening. I actually learned a lot about disability representation, and I think it will be useful to me in my work life as well as my personal life. I gave this book 4 stars.

Bingo square: An author with a disability

No One Is Talking About This
was the last book I had to read from the Women's Prize short list, and I have mixed feelings about it. I found the first half to be really weird, though I certainly understood the point the author was trying to make -- I think she just overdid it a bit. The second half, though, was really heartbreaking. The message I took from this book is that we've forgotten that the real world/real life is so much more important than the life we purport to have and post online, but I think that message could have been conveyed a bit more subtly. I gave it 3 stars.

Bingo square: That you want to read in spite of the cover

I'm not one who normally gets to read the buzzy new books right away, but I got on the library wait list early enough to get The Other Black Girl shortly after its publication. This book has been described as a combination of The Stepford Wives and Get Out, and I'd say that's pretty accurate. There is something strange going on, but the main character isn't sure if that is reality or if she's just losing her mind. This book had me guessing right up to the end. I gave it 4 stars.

Bingo square: Person on the cover

Believe it or not, I have not read anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid before this week, but I have to say that I really enjoyed her latest, Malibu Rising. This book covers 24 hours in one day in 1983, the day of the famous party held every year by four siblings. But in between the hours in that day, we get the back story of those siblings and how they've gotten to this point despite their absent father and alcoholic mother. While this book is well written, it's not the sort of writing that you stop while reading to admire; rather, this is a book of the page-turner variety, and it's definitely a good read for a summer day. I gave it 4 stars.

Bingo square: Recommended on a podcast

Now it's time for a bingo card update -- or should I say cards? I haven't filled the first one, but I fully expect that I will and didn't have an appropriate square for Malibu Rising, so I printed out a second card:

I will shortly have a second square on the second card, too, because I'm going to move Unsettled Ground from "Borrowed" on card one to "A Read With Us selection" on card two -- the "Borrowed" square on card one is going to be very easy to fill! I am still reading Malcolm X but have decided to really buckle down and get through it, and that should be easier to do now that I'm on vacation. And I'm sure before too long I'll start another ebook from the library so that I'll have something to read while I spin!

So, what are you reading these days? How is your bingo card shaping up?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Hello, Summer

Technically summer has arrived, but it is feeling a bit more like fall here this morning. We had some strong thunderstorms move through yesterday afternoon and evening (and thankfully we only saw heavy rain and the power stayed on), and behind it came some much cooler air -- we are only expecting to get to a high in the mid-60s today. That's just fine by me, though, after the sticky weekend we had.

Today is my last day of work this month, if you can believe it. My employer temporarily removed the cap on vacation time accrual during the pandemic, but it goes back on at the end of this month, so that means that if I want to acquire any more time, I needed to take about six days off. I rarely take vacation time under normal circumstances (usually a few days around Maryland Sheep and Wool and Rhinebeck, plus a day or two on either end of our end-of-year Florida trip), so it feels like a real treat to take time off for no reason! The Mister is resuming work travel beginning this week, though, so it will be good to have the time to spend with Rainbow. And we're also all going on a quick trip up to Michigan to visit my aunt and uncle for July 4 weekend after not having seen them since December 2019. After today, I won't have to log back into my work email until July 6!

And if that's not enough to be excited about, I'm also going to get my first haircut since, I think, November 2019 this evening! I gave myself a trim last summer, but I really need a professional to do it and feel comfortable going back to the salon now that I'm vaccinated.

But I'm guessing you didn't stop by to hear about all that -- you're here for the yarny stuff, aren't you? I haven't made a ton of progress, but I do have some photos to share.

I am just starting the fourth stripe on my ADVENTuresome Wrap, and the reason I haven't gotten much farther is not from a lack of time working on it but rather because I've devoted a good chunk of that time to weaving in ends. There are SO MANY ends to deal with on this project. Obviously there are two from each mini skein. But I've also been joining and then breaking the neutral yarn that's worked between each stripe each time, so that's been two more ends to deal with. I'm going to keep it connected and carry it up the side for the next stripe so see how that goes in the hope that I can eliminate at least some of this extra work. I've also lost a little bit of time to tinking back more than once because no matter how many times I remind myself, I seem to always forget that there are several rows in each pattern repeat that involve decreases worked on the wrong side. This is really not a hard pattern, but my brain has a tendency to go into autopilot mode far too easily. I'm hoping now that I am working on this more regularly, I will actually start to remember what to do.

I've also started my nephew's blanket, and that, at least, shows progress quickly. I can manage about a skein of yarn per crochet session; the tan and green, for instance, were added during this past Sunday's Zoom session. My plan here is to use up as much of each skein as I can until I don't have enough to complete another row (I want the stripes to be solid, so I'm only changing them at the beginning of a row). The second of three dark brown skeins will form the center stripe, and the color order will be mirrored on the second half of the blanket.

I haven't cast on any new projects, though I did restart the hat with the too-big brim (but I'm only a few rounds in). I think some new socks will get started next week in anticipation of the car trip, and pretty soon the baby knitting will commence because we'll find out if my nibling is a boy or a girl on July 7!

I'll be back tomorrow with less hair and more chat. Happy summer!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Star Light, Star Bright

First Star -- I finished it last night! And that's the last of the awful poetry you'll get from me today. Instead, let's talk handspun, because the third skein for my sweater is now done, washed, and dry:

First Star was dyed on a South African superfine base (think really soft merino), and I spun it into a three-ply fingering weight, getting about 400 yards from 117 g. The fiber was mostly blues, some a medium shade, some an intense inky shade, with just a few pops of purple. I decided not to mess around with splitting up the colors on this one to help maintain my sanity, and I can honestly say that I can't tell the difference in how the colors mixed between this skein and the last one, when I did micromanage the color handling. So I'll be taking the simpler approach going forward.

I now have almost 1,200 yards of yarn in the three skeins I have spun, but I will need about 1,500 total, and I also think I'll want to change yarns frequently so I have sufficient contrast to see the pattern. 

June's Southern Cross Fibre shipment is another blue that will likely be mixed in with these three as a base color. But I think I need a pop of contrast to mix in, so I pulled two bags of fiber from my stash as contenders. One is Rambouillet that came last month (remember how it reminded me of a book cover?), and Rambo will play nicely with the merino and SASF I've used already. The other possibility is a semisolid called Bougainvillea on a blend of 75% Bond wool/25% Suri alpaca. The pinky purple really goes well with the purple in First Star, I think.

Chances are I'll end up spinning up both -- I am still trying to spin all the SCF backlog! -- but I'm contemplating which one to start next. And I think this spinning bug has hit me hard, because when I was looking through my bag of SCF stash, I noticed quite a lot of colorways that lean heavily toward green, so don't be surprised if I keep spinning even after I'm finished with enough yardage for one sweater and end up with enough for a second!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

What to Make Next

I double-checked the calendar and confirmed that today is actually Thursday (the craziness of the power outage had me thinking it was Thursday two days ago!), so it's time to link up with Carole and friends for Three on Thursday.

After I finished my sweater and my brother's socks, I found myself without any active WIPs. I did end up pulling out my long-languishing ADVENTuresome Wrap (Ravelry link) that I started back in January with my Fibernymph Dye Works holiday minis set from the 2020 holiday season, and I've now finished two repeats -- 22 more to go!

The blue that's been wound into a ball is next.

While I want to finish this project this summer, it's knitting that I have to pay close attention to, so it's not good for knitting while reading. I really need some fairly mindless projects, and I like to have a variety of projects in progress at once so I can pick something to match my mood or the situation. So here are three projects I'm thinking of starting soon.

1. A pair of socks for my sister-in-law
I don't know that everyone in the family will be getting hand-knit socks for the holidays again, but my sister-in-law has been so enthusiastic about the two pairs that I've knit her that she is permanently on the list. She also has pretty small feet, so knitting socks for her feels very easy. I bought two skeins of OOAK self-striping from FDW recently, and this one really looks like my SIL's colors:

2. More charity hats/cowls
My giant bag of scraps has been sitting in front of me and hasn't gotten any smaller (though I have added some fingering scraps to it), so I think it's time to start knitting some charity items again. It would be great to have a big stack to donate this fall when they're needed!

3. A new blanket for my nephew
I don't expect he'll give up his well-loved knit blanket, but I thought it would be nice to make him another to have an alternative when the original needs to be washed. Years ago, I bought up a bunch of skeins of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton when it was discontinued. I intended to use it for a sweater for Rainbow when she was a baby but never got around to it. I'm not a huge fan of knitting with cotton because it's hard on my hands, but crocheting might be a different story. So I'm thinking of using it for a corner-to-corner blanket.

What does everyone have planned for the weekend? We're having a family birthday party tomorrow evening -- my mother-in-law's birthday is today and my mother's is tomorrow -- and I'm sure we'll do something for the Mister for Father's Day. I'm also signed up to donate blood tomorrow, and I'm excited that the drive is happening on the campus of the college where I work so I don't have to drive. The Red Cross has been testing donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies since the start of the pandemic, so we'll see if the vaccine has done its job!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Unraveled, Week 24/2021

Good morning and happy Wednesday! It feels to me like it should already be Friday with how crazy the start of the week was, but I am just about caught up and ready for my weekly knitting and reading check-in with Kat and the Unravelers.

In addition to my sweater, I also finished my brother's socks over the weekend (while I was at his house, in fact, though I waited until I was home to weave in the ends and block, so I haven't yet given them to him)!

I didn't really follow a pattern for these, but I knit them toe-up with a US 1/2.25 mm needle starting with Judy's Magic Cast On, increased to 70 stitches, and worked a Fish Lips Kiss Heel. I then knit the leg until I had about two stripes' worth of yarn remaining, worked 3x2 ribbing for those two stripes, and did a stretchy bind-off in pattern. The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Gettin' Crabby, which was the special colorway for Needles Up Maryland in 2019. I am very thankful that Lisa's skeins are typically a bit more than 100 g, because the two socks weigh 100 g exactly! These ended up so big that they were bigger even than my large sock blockers. But now I know that I can get a pair of socks for my brother out of one skein of yarn. Next time I might try cuff down with a heel flap.

There has been a little unraveling here this morning, but it's related to design work and thus not unexpected. While I was working on Monday and needed something to keep my hands busy amid all the anxiety of the power outage I started a hat and got as far as finishing the hemmed brim:

I was very happy with the look of it, but despite my math seeming to be right, it's way too big. So I ripped it out and will be trying again with a smaller needle. No big deal!

I've had another good week of reading and achieved my first bingo!

I have finishing three books since last week and very likely will finish another later today.

I had picked up The Ardent Swarm through the Amazon First Reads program earlier in the year, so I didn't have huge expectations for it. It was an okay read. It's supposed to be an allegorical story about how Islamic fundamentalism takes hold in a country, but frankly I enjoyed it more as a straightforward story about beekeeping. There are parts about the political situation that were a bit too obvious for me to consider this a true allegory. It was a fast read, though, and it filled a bingo square nicely. I gave it 3 stars.

Bingo square: Translation


I had read Charlie Lovett's The Bookman's Tale previously and enjoyed it, so I picked up First Impressions with pretty high expectations. I'm sorry to say it fell a little flat for me. In my review, I called this Jane Austen fan fiction and a beach read for Austen lovers. This is a book that you really can't take too seriously, not only because of the fairly preposterous plot but also because the main character in the present-day story line is fairly ridiculous. I think I mentioned in my review on the blog of The Bookman's Tale that it was obvious it was written by a man, and that holds true here -- we're really expected to believe that an Oxford-educated woman is more guided by her libido than her common sense? Still, it was a fun little diversion. I gave it 3 stars.

Bingo square: Set in more than one time period

I had been patiently waiting for Unsettled Ground from the library for weeks and it finally became available on Sunday. I started it Sunday afternoon, and it should tell you just how immersive this read is that I finished it first thing yesterday morning despite all the craziness surrounding the power outage and a very busy work day on Monday. I know the description doesn't sound particularly exciting, but this book is an excellent character study, and I plowed through it because I wanted to know what would happen to these characters. A lot of it is very sad, so be prepared for that, but I really did it enjoy it. I gave it 4 stars.

Bingo square: Borrowed

I am still reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and really need to set aside some time to focus on it. It's a dense book with small print, and it really is not working well for before-bed reading. I also started Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space yesterday and expect to finish it today. It's an excellent and very timely read. I'm trying to finish it up not only because I'm really enjoying it but also because all my holds seem to be coming up and I've already had to delay a couple of them. It never rains but it pours, am I right?

How about you? What are you working on and reading this week?

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The 28-Day Sweater

First, let me thank you all for the good thoughts and let you know that our power was restored shortly after 9 last night! The houses on our street were the last ones in our neighborhood still without power by the end of yesterday, and we heard an audible cheer from our neighbors (which we joined in on) when the lights came back on. I have newfound respect for the utility workers who were fixing all the downed lines; to fix the line that was causing the outage for us, the workers had to basically rappel down the hillside at the end of our dead-end street and negotiate some pretty dense foliage.

I also was very grateful that all we lost was the power and a fridge/freezer of food when I went on my walk this morning and saw some really bad damage to houses and at least one crushed car in the neighborhood. We are truly lucky that replacing the food was not a major hardship and that we were able to be at my parents' for the day and continue with work as usual!

I am posting a bit later in the day than usual because there has been a lot to catch up on after the very odd start to the street. I also took Rainbow to the orthodontist first this this morning so they could do all the imaging required to order the first appliance she'll get, so breakfast and my morning computer time was a bit rushed. I dropped her off at my parents' to hang out with them for the day and then did a Trader Joe's run so we'd have most of what was lost, including dinner for tonight and milk so that I don't have to drink my coffee black another day (blech!). I was hoping she'd be home earlier in the day to take some photos for me, but I guess they're having a lot of fun and I didn't want to wait too much longer, so please forgive the fact that you're getting selfies, which I am admittedly not very skilled at taking (I guess I'll never have a career as an Instagram influencer!).

I think all the time spent knitting with Mary during our Sunday Zoom sessions has rubbed off on me, because I actually did knit a fingering weight sweater in 28 days!

Pattern: Threipmuir by Ysolda Teague, size 3 (37.75 in./94 cm chest circumference), no waist shaping
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Ridgetop Fingering (80% Romney/20% Falkland) in Peacock (blue), Wisp (gray), and Lime (green)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 2.5 (3.0 mm)
Started/Completed: May 16/June 12
Mods: shortened the sleeves; worked two extra rounds on the collar

This project was a delight from start to finish. I'd been planning it for quite some time, even so far as to buy the yarn for it last year, so it felt really good to get it knit. As I hope you can tell from the photos, the fit is just as I'd hoped: enough positive ease to be able to wear something underneath but not so much that it's a shapeless sack on me. I've got between 2 and 3 inches of positive ease at the fullest part of my bust, and I've realized in the past year or so that that is my ideal.

Despite how this photo might make them appear, my arms are not that long, so I omitted some plain rounds after the final sleeve decreases and went right into the ribbing for the cuff. I generally like my sleeves to hit the top of my hands and fully cover my wrists, and these turned out just right. Had I worked the 12 even rounds called for in the pattern, the sleeves would likely have come down to my knuckles, and knowing that I am rather a klutz, this would mean I'd be dragging my sleeves through my food regularly or else having to fold them up, which is not the polished look I was going for. I also added an extra two rounds to the collar because my row gauge was a tad off and the number of rounds called for in the pattern seemed a little skimpy to me.

While I admit that when I first started the colorwork I was a bit disappointed at the low contrast between the green and the gray, it has grown on me. I think a darker shade of either of the two contrast colors would have made for poor contrast with the blue, and I'm finding that I don't mind more subtle contrast these days because it seems a bit less in your face.

I was a tiny bit worried about playing yarn chicken with my main color at the outset, but looking at other projects on Ravelry and the amount of yarn used by other knitters who had made the next size larger reassured me. And I really had nothing to worry about, because I ended up using just a bit more than 1,000 yards/925 meters of the blue (and I had 1,200 total to start). I used really negligible amounts of the contrast colors as well -- 88 yards/80.5 meters of the gray and 76 yards/69.5 meters of the green.

This was the first Ysolda sweater I've knit, but it certainly will not be my last. It was an extremely well-written pattern that had so many options built in -- regular yoke or broad yoke, regular length or long length, with waist shaping or not -- plus a range of 16 sizes from 32.25 in./81 cm up to 72.25 in./181 cm. Well worth the money I paid for it! Incidentally, I see Ysolda's patterns are on sale on her site at the moment, just in case you're tempted!

If you'll give me one more moment to gush, I have to talk about the yarn. I've used it twice before, for a pair of socks and a hat, but this is my first garment out of it -- of at least two, because I have another sweater's quantity in the stash. This is definitely a toothy wool, and it's coarser than your typical superwash merino. I really like it, though, and while it's a touch scratchy to some of my more sensitive areas, it did soften with being washed and I know that it will wear well. And that's a really good thing, because I plan to wear the heck out of this sweater later this year when the cold weather returns!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Spinning on Monday, Thwarted by Nature

Monday, Monday. Most of you who are regular readers will know that I don't usually post on Mondays but I do usually put up a spinning post on Sunday. And I was planning to do that yesterday evening, as I had an unexpectedly busy day -- first the annual meeting at our synagogue, then my usual walk, then watching In the Heights with Rainbow and my brother and sister-in-law. But a crazy storm blew in just after we got home, with high winds and even hail, and at around 6 p.m., the power went out. And it's still out. The poor Mister had to go into his office because there were all sorts of (metaphorical) fires to put out related to the storm and power outages and didn't get back until 4 a.m. So Rainbow and I have decamped to my parents', where there is power and air conditioning, and I'm playing a little catch-up.

I don't have a ton of spinning to share because I spent so much time last week focusing on finishing my Threipmuir (spoiler alert: it's done, and you can expect an FO post tomorrow). But I have started my next skein for my handspun Shifty spin. This is the first bobbin of singles of Southern Cross Fibre South African Superfine in the colorway First Star:

Rather than faffing about with the colors this time, I just split the top into three roughly equal pieces, so this will be a much more relaxing spin. I hope to give it some more attention this week.

In the meantime, I've had some stash enhancement recently that I can share to make up for the lack of spinning content. First, I received my Tour de Fleece shipment from Jill at HipStrings. This year she offered three options for hand-carded batts: a rainbow set, a set of neutrals, or a set custom blended for you based upon your previous orders. I went with the last option, and these are the gorgeous batts I received:

When I saw these, I knew right away where Jill had gotten her inspiration! I have a total of 12 oz. to spin, and I think these would work very nicely toward another sweater, perhaps with a neutral to tie them together.

I also received the May 2021 SCF club shipment (it arrived quickly again, so here's hoping the mail issues are over!):

The colorway is called Sunrise Sunset (yes, every time I read it or think it, I get the Fiddler on the Roof song in my head!), and it's on South African Superfine. I love it!

I hope your Monday is off to a better start than mine. Please keep your fingers crossed that my power comes back on before the day is out!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Always Room for Good News

As I've done on previous Thursdays, I'm joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday with three things making me happy today.

Happy Thing 1: The roofing work is done!
The finishing touches were put on this past Tuesday, and later that day the port-o-potty company came to retrieve the Turdis (well, they actually relocated it up to the street, because our neighbors are now getting their roof replaced by the same crew). That meant that for the first time in many weeks, we were able to put our cars in the garage. That may not seem like such a big thing, but we live on a narrow dead-end street, so there's not a lot of spare space on the street to park. We had to do a lot of car Tetris to ensure that we weren't blocking anyone.

A view of the finished garage roof

Happy Thing 2: I have the day off tomorrow!
I get two personal days a year, and they expire at the end of our fiscal year, which is at the end of June. I never end up using them during the year and so usually take two random days off in June. Tomorrow Rainbow and I are going to hang out. We have plans to go to the craft store and maybe look at some ideas for her new bedroom (she's planning to move up to the third floor at the end of the summer), and if we have time left, we might even make our first trip to the library since before the pandemic.

Happy Thing 3: I finished a sleeve!

As you can see, I'm also well on my way on sleeve #2, so I expect this project to be wrapped up in a matter of days.

I hope you're finding some happy things to make you smile and that you have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Unraveled, Week 23, 2021

Good morning, friends! It's Wednesday again (already!), so it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk about what I'm knitting and reading.

The knitting won't be a surprise -- I'm still working on my Threipmuir (closing in on finishing sleeve number one), and my brother's socks have been getting some attention, too. I've finished the heel of the second sock, so this pair is about 3/4 done:

I should have no problem finishing these by the end of the month, so they will be an early birthday present for my brother (his birthday is next month).

As for reading, I have been on a tear this past week and finished five books!

I know many of you read (and loved) Gilead years ago, but I'd never gotten around to reading it. I knew only vaguely what it was about before I started it; to be perfectly honest, I picked it up because it was so widely praised and because it neatly filled a square on my bingo card. I am sorry to say that I didn't really enjoy it. While I found the writing to be good, it ended up reading too much like a theology lesson to me, and for someone who is not of that religion and not particularly religious in general, that made for a less-than-ideal reading experience. I gave it 2 stars.

Bingo square: Pulitzer Prize winner

I bought a Kindle copy of The Fire Next Time last year, I think, and had been meaning to read it for quite a while, and really there was no good excuse why I hadn't gotten around to it given that it's such a quick read. The fact that it's short shouldn't overshadow just how powerful it is, however. There is a wide array of books to read today that address racial inequality in our country, but Baldwin was really masterful in addressing it so succinctly and directly. It should tell you something that for a book that's just a little more than 100 pages long, I have 27 highlights. I gave it 4 stars.

Bingo square: Less than 200 pages

Lincoln in the Bardo was a reread for me; I first read it three years ago when it was much hyped and didn't care for it. Several friends, however, urged me to listen to the audio and give it another try, so that's what I did. And while I still found it strange, I did like it much more and have a much greater appreciation for what Saunders was able to do with it as a writer. I think this is a book that is really better as an audiobook because it really comes alive when it's performed -- to me, it works better when thought of as a play rather than a novel. I can't say I loved it this time, but I certainly enjoyed it, and on this reread I bumped my rating up to 3 stars.

Bingo square: Audiobook with multiple narrators

The Yield is a new-ish book (it came out last summer) that I heard about on a recent episode of the What Should I Read Next? podcast. Written by an Australian author of Indigenous descent, it tells the story of an Aboriginal family and native culture through three narratives: in the present day, the story of August Gondiwindi, a young woman who has been living in England but returns home to Australia when her grandfather dies; Albert "Poppy" Gondiwindi, her late grandfather, who was trying to revive his family's culture by compiling a dictionary of their native tongue; and a letter written by a German missionary who had founded the mission where the Gondiwindi family eventually lived. The novel addresses the heartbreaking realities of racism and colonialism in Australia and the subjugation of native culture as well as the personal struggles of one family -- a family that, though fictional, is representative of so many native families in the country. For the most part, the writing is beautiful, particularly the dictionary chapters; the words and terms that are chosen for definition are illustrative of the bigger picture here. I gave it 4 stars.

Bingo square: Free space

Someone mentioned Maggie O'Farrell's The Hand That First Held Mine in our weekly Zoom this past Sunday, and I immediately borrowed it from the library. This is one I could not put down -- it was excellent! I so enjoyed Hamnet last year and really love O'Farrell's style, so I have a feeling I'll be working my way through her back catalogue. This book has two parallel narratives, one following a young woman in 1950s England as she leaves her sheltered family home and breaks out on her own, the other following a new mother, a Finnish artist living in London with her partner, who is adjusting to motherhood after a traumatic birth. These two storylines seem completely different, but they are connected, and as you get further and further into the book, you get really amazed at the skill with which O'Farrell has managed to weave them together. I tore through this book and had a hard time putting it down -- and I was very sad when I finished that it was over and there was no more to read! I gave it 5 stars.

Bingo square: About art/artist(s)

I am still reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and really need to give it some serious attention, because I am less than 100 pages in and it's dense! But I'm also anticipating some library holds to come up soon.

How about you? What has been capturing your attention lately?

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

The Extremes

Good morning from the tropics, or so it's seemed lately! We seem to be following a pattern here where the temperatures vary wildly from week to week. In April, we had snow every other week. Now we seem to have moved to having the heat and needing wool sock one week and needing to blast the air conditioning the next. This weekend we had highs in the upper 80s, and we're supposed to have on-and-off rain and thunderstorms all this week. The good news is that as of yesterday, all the roofing work is complete! The roofers just need to come back to attach the gutter to the back of the garage and finish cleaning up their materials. And then as soon as the "Turdis" (our nickname for the port-o-potty in our driveway) is taken away, we'll be able to put the cars back in the garage and truly feel like the project is over.

In another moment of "how did this happen already?" this kid finished fifth grade yesterday:

We were worried right up until when she got to school that she wouldn't make it for the last day after she had a terrible allergy attack over the weekend and was still dealing with an annoying cough; as part of the COVID protocols, she has to pass a health screening every day, and a cough is one of the symptoms that would keep her home. But the school nurse said it was fine for her to be there because we knew it was an allergy-related cough, so she was able to see her all friends and teachers one last time.

A lot of knitters might view summer as a time to put away the big wool projects, but that's not me -- I am always freezing in the summer and welcome the chance to have my lap covered in wool! So I've been working quite happily on my Threipmuir and have made some good progress since you last saw it:

The body was finished on Sunday during my weekly Zoom call. I am now working on the first sleeve, still alternating skeins. Lest you worry that I don't have enough yarn to finish, let me reassure you that what you see attached isn't all the yarn that's left. I used up the first skein of blue shortly before starting the ribbing on the body, so before I started the first sleeve, I took what was left on the second skein and divided it in half. The third skein of blue looked a bit lighter than the other two, so I wanted to be sure to blend it with what was left of the second skein as much as possible. I'm not sure if what's left will get me all the way through each sleeve, but if not, I'll at least have alternated two skeins for most of the sleeves and, I hope, avoid pooling or an obvious line. I have Zoom sessions tonight and tomorrow and plan on knitting my way through both, and it would be amazing if I finished this sweater up this week. That might be a bit ambitious, but go big or go home, right? As long as I finish by the end of the month, I'll be happy.

I hope to see some of you tonight for the Read With Us discussion of Shuggie Bain, and I'll be back tomorrow with a big reading update!

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Feeling Very Hopeful

I told you I'd have another finished skein of handspun this weekend, and I'm here to deliver on that promise! I actually finished it on Thursday, but I didn't skein and wash it until yesterday -- the weather very helpfully got quite hot this weekend so that I could leave it to dry outside. I was a bit concerned that I wasn't going to end up with very much yardage with this skein because it seemed like it got spun and plied fairly quickly, but I really shouldn't have worried!

As a reminder, the fiber was organic superfine (18 micron) merino wool from Southern Cross Fibre in the colorway A New Hope; it was the November 2018 club shipment. I got kind of fussy splitting up all the shades of blue into lighter and darker segments, which made everything more complicated, unnecessarily so, from the looks of it. The light, dark, and medium shades are all pretty well distributed, and I probably could have gotten the same effect from just splitting the length of top in thirds widthwise. That's certainly what I'm going to do with the next skein (but more on that in a minute).

The finished yarn is solidly fingering and used up pretty much every last bit of singles (I ended up chain-plying the last yard or two). I was amazed that my final yardage estimate after it had dried was in excess of 430 yards! I hope I can continue to match that with the rest of the skeins I spin for this project. According to the yarn estimates given here, I'm going to need nearly 1,700 yards of yarn for my size, so if I average about 400 yards per skein, I'll need at least five -- though given my propensity to worry about playing yarn chicken, I'll will probably spin six just to make sure I have enough.

While I haven't started spinning just yet, I did get out the next back of fiber for skein number three and am venturing into the blue/purple area of the color wheel:

This is First Star on South African superfine, last September's club offering. The sections that look like black are really a very saturated navy, and I have a feeling that the few sections of purple are going to end up being much less obviously purple as the colors blend from drafting. So I think this will be another skein that reads very blue. David hasn't yet posted spoiler photos of the fiber for this month's shipment, but with this inspiration photo, I think that it will fit very nicely into this project:

That would be skein number four, so I'll have to decide if I want to lean into the purple or perhaps turn toward blue/green for the last two skeins. Knowing me, I might just spin all the options and then decide later!

Friday, June 04, 2021

Pattern Release: Sofronia

I am happy to say that as of a few moments ago, I have crossed two of the three items off my to-do list from yesterday. The most recent is publishing my new shawl design -- Sofronia is live now!

Sofronia is a garter stitch asymmetrical triangle. It starts with just a few stitches an increases one stitch every row to grow quickly. To keep it from getting too mindless, you add in a beaded bobble every repeat -- just enough variety to keep your brain engaged every so often and a touch of bling to make the shawl feel like something special. The beads are optional, too. If you don't care for them or don't want to deal with them (I recognize that not everyone wants to deal with tiny beads and the tools required to apply them), you can easily omit them.

While I used a fingering weight yarn for my sample (a merino singles yarn from Skeinny Dipping), the beauty of this design is that it can be worked using any yarn and any amount of it. You basically just keep working the pattern repeat until you're almost out of yarn and then bind off. So if you have a special skein of yarn in your stash and you want to maximize your yardage, this is the perfect pattern for you! Gauge is less important with this shawl than getting a fabric you like, so you can adjust your needle size until you're happy and go with it.

The pattern is up now on Ravelry and Payhip, and there's a discount available for the first week (newsletter subscribers get a slightly bigger discount, as always). I'll be adding it on LoveCrafts soon as well. I hope you like this one!

Thursday, June 03, 2021

On My To-Do List

The nice thing about going back to work after a long holiday weekend is that they seem to go by quickly. It feels like the workweek just started, but tomorrow is already Friday! There are still plenty of things to do before the week is over, though, so for today's Three on Thursday, hosted as always by Carole, I've got three things that are atop my to-do list.

1. First, my tech editor got back to me yesterday with some minor edits to my most recent shawl pattern, so now I have to do all the administrative work to publish it. Some of you might be surprised by just how much work that actually is: I have to do all the steps to create the Ravelry and Payhip pattern pages, upload photos, create discount promotions (often more than one, because newsletter subscribers always get one but sometimes the general public does as well), write up my newsletter, and write up a blog post (if I'm doing one). That's all before I hit publish. After the pattern is published, I have to upload the pattern to LoveCrafts (they pull from the Ravelry listing), hit publish on my newsletter and blog post, and post on Instagram. Sounds very glamorous, doesn't it?

2. I finished the third bobbin of New Hope singles on Tuesday, so now I have three bobbins that are ready for plying.

3. I did a lot of knitting on my Threipmuir yesterday while I was reading and then while watching the end of a documentary on the 1921 Tulsa riot last night, and I am surprisingly close to the end of the body. I'd like to finish the body by the end of the week, if I can.

Obviously the curl of the stockinette is making it look shorter than it is; when I measured it last night, I think I had almost 11 inches of stockinette under the arms, and I believe the pattern calls for working to 13.5 inches before doing the ribbing at the bottom. I think a few more hours of knitting while reading a good book or watching something interesting should do it!

I hope that you don't have too many items remaining on your to-do list this week and that you're able to cross them all off without too much effort. See you back here on Sunday, when those three bobbins of singles should be empty and I should have a new skein of handspun to share!

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Unraveled, Week 22/2021

I am quite happy about the fact that it's only the second day of my workweek and it's already Wednesday! That means it's time to join Kat and the Unravelers for an update on knitting and reading.

My sweater doesn't look very different from yesterday (I put a handful of rounds on it last night but spent most of the day finishing up a bobbin of singles), but I did make some decent progress on my brother's socks over the weekend:

Because these socks aren't a surprise, I had my brother try on the first one on Friday night when we were at my parents' for dinner, and it was a good fit. I ended up binding off when the leg was about 8 inches above the heel, making the leg and foot more or less the same length when the sock is folded in half. As you can see from the little yarn butterfly next to the start of the second sock, I didn't end up using all the yarn, but then Lisa's sock yarn skeins tend to be a bit heavier than 100 grams in general so I didn't feel I needed to use every last bit.

Reading has been good the last week, albeit a little slower (I was waiting on some library holds that seemed to take forever to come in). I've finished two books since last week, but they were both good reads.

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House is on the Women's Prize short list, which I'm trying to read my way through, and I didn't know much about it before I started reading. Even after finishing it, I'd have a hard time giving you a plot summary; it's one of those books that's hard to describe because the plot isn't necessarily the most important point of the book. Rather, the book is about the characters and how they interact and about the intersection of race and class. This isn't an easy book to read, as there are a lot of heavy topics discussed (racism, incest, rape, infertility, miscarriage, child death, domestic abuse, violence, etc.), but it's extremely well written, and if you can handle the heavy topics, I highly recommend it. I gave it 4 stars.
Bingo square: Originally published this year

After a ridiculously long wait (seriously -- I was on top of the hold list for more than a week!) I finally got Kingdom of the Blind, the 14th in the Gamache series, from the library on Saturday and was able to start it Sunday. I don't know why the previous borrowers of this book took so long to read it; I read it in two days! Thankfully the last two books in the series that I have yet to read have no wait, so I can get to them when I'm ready. I would not put this installment among my favorites, but it was still a good read and had all the features I enjoy about the series. I gave it 4 stars as well.
Bingo square: An author you love

I am still reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which is very good but slow going because I'm reading an older paperback copy with small print. It's also a book I own, so it tends to get put on hold when a library hold comes up simply because my time with it isn't limited. I also started Gilead yesterday after finishing the Gamache mystery and am already nearly a third of the way through it. If it's another slow work day, I very well may finish it.

Here's the current state of my bingo card:

When I start a book, I write the title in the corresponding square. When I finish it, I add the date it was completed and highlight the edges of the square. It's surprising that I already have a bingo in progress because I'm not usually very strategic about picking what book to read next; often it's dictated by whichever library book is ready for me. But so far all the books I've read or started are in one of two lines, so that's kind of fun. My goal is a cover-all, so whether I get a bingo soon or not really doesn't matter much to me (though perhaps when I'm between library books, I'll pick one of the hard-copy books in my stack that will be in one of those two lines).

I hope your reading and crafting are going well -- please feel free to share what you're working on and reading in the comments!

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

It's Not Summer Yet

Memorial Day weekend is often referred to as the unofficial start of summer, but it was decidedly not summer-like here -- it felt more like fall, to be honest. It was downright chilly on Saturday and rained most of the day. I had to pull out wool socks and a sweater! Sunday was dry but still on the cool side. Yesterday the sun finally came out and it was pretty nice, though still not very warm, at least in comparison to the usual average temperature. I can say that it was a good weekend for crafting and reading, given that we weren't spending much time outside.

Yesterday we had a holiday gathering at my parents' and we able to gather with the extended family -- my parents; my brother and sister-in-law (and nephew-dog); my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew; my in-laws; my brother's in-laws; and my uncle -- for the first time since, I think, Thanksgiving of 2019. It was absolutely delightful! We've of course seen some family in the interim, but it's amazing to think that at the last time we were all together, my nephew was just a few months old. Now he's talking and walking and getting ready to be a big brother. I shared these photos on Instagram yesterday, but I know not all of you are on IG, so I thought it would be worth sharing them here as well:

On the left are Rainbow and her cousin (my nephew) yesterday. He brought his favorite blanket, which just happened to be a hand-me-down -- it was a blanket I knit for her just before she was born. You can see her covered in it in the photo on the right, in her going-home-from-the-hospital outfit! That thing has really been put through the wringer. It's slightly felted and torn in spots, and apparently my nephew sucks on it and won't nap without it. I'm not going to suggest it be taken away from him, but seeing how well loved it's been, I think it's time I made him a new one. It also makes my heart grow a few sizes to see a handknit so loved!

My main knitting focus over the weekend was my Threipmuir, which seems to be growing faster than I would expect given that it's an adult-sized pullover worked in fingering weight. But then again, I'm on the single-color stockinette portion, which is ideal for knitting while reading or watching TV. I tried it on last night just to be sure that the fit is okay (and it is):

It's always so hard to tell if the fit is okay when you have a sweater on a single circular needle, even more so when you have a history of a warped sense of your own size, so it was very reassuring to see that it fits and has the bit of positive ease I wanted. As you can see, I'm alternating skeins now that I'm only using the main color; this yarn is hand dyed and is a non-superwash, so there is a fair amount of variation. I am using helical knitting and it seems to be working well.

Rainbow took these photos for me and insisted on doing a close-up of the yoke. Granted, the light was not great when we took these shots, but I think this one more accurately shows the lower contrast colorwork than some of the photos I've posted previously. I do like the three colors together, but part of me is wishing there was a bit more contrast -- not enough to undo what I've done, obviously, but it gives me some food for thought for future colorwork projects. I think this may be the first time I've used more than two colors in a single project, and clearly if I do it again, I'll need to consider some other color combinations.

I hope that you had better weather over the long weekend than we did and, if not, that you were able to enjoy it regardless. I will be back tomorrow with an update on the start of Summer Book Bingo!