Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Unraveled, Week 13/2021

Can you believe today is the last day of March -- already? This month has flown by, and after having gotten very lucky with some beautiful weather this month, we're saying good-bye as March goes out like a lion, with rain for most of the day and dropping temperatures that will have it turn to snow overnight. Yuck.

It's Wednesday, so it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk knitting and reading. My knitting is very much the same as it was yesterday, though I finished the first of the scrappy charity socks yesterday afternoon and cast on for the second this morning. I did want to mention one important thing today, and that's that today is the last day for the so-called "classic Rav" option on Ravelry. The Ravelry team is still refusing to take accessibility concerns seriously, so I am joining in with those who are logging out of the site for the next three days.

I have not personally suffered any ill effects from the Ravelry redesign (aside from finding the initial site to be a bit hard to look at), but I absolutely believe those who have suffered everything from eye strain to migraines to seizures. I've also been really disappointed in the response from the Ravelry team, especially after so many people stood up for them in the wake of the you-know-who ban. I do realize that they've dug themselves a deep hole now and that there are legal implications to them acknowledging that they screwed up, but they also cost themselves a lot of goodwill. I see in my job every day that accessibility is a real and important thing -- all the designs that my office produces now need to go through an accessibility check. And numerous people who know what they're talking about have put the new site under scrutiny and said that it's just not accessible. Even if the site was not causing physical issues, if it's inaccessible to some people, it should be unacceptable to all. I don't know if this boycott will make much of a difference, but it can't hurt to try. For the next three days, I will not be contributing to Ravelry by buying patterns or putting my eyes on ads (both source of revenue for them) or by adding any information to their database. I will not be paying my designing and advertising invoices when they pop up tomorrow. And I will not be linking to the site and driving traffic to it. If you are able to safely use the new Ravelry site but feel similarly that it needs to be fixed so that it's safe for all, I encourage you to join me in logging out and staying out.

Now, on to the reading! I've finished two books this week and should be able to add a third before the day is out.

Exciting Times is on the long list for the Women's Prize in Fiction this year, and because it was available without a wait from the library and Margene had said she'd enjoyed it, I decided to give it a try. Sadly, I found it to be very unexciting. The writing is good, but the main character/narrator annoyed me. I am not opposed to an unreliable narrator, but I find that it really turns me off a book if the narrator is just generally annoying or whiny rather than cunning. The focus of this book is the main character's relationships with two others and her constant indecision. I did empathize quite a bit with her sense of existential angst, something that I certainly went through in my early 20s, but I also wanted to tell her to snap out of it quite often. I gave the book 2 stars.

I wanted a bit of a palate cleanser for my next book, so I went with one I at least knew would be an easy read. I've really been enjoying Anne Bogel's podcast and have read two of her other books, so when she mentioned on the podcast that her Reading People was on sale this month, I immediately bought it. This isn't a book about people who read but rather about personalities and how understanding them can help you better negotiate your relationships and interactions with people. She readily admits that she's not a scholar or expert, so this isn't so much an in-depth study of personality as it is a summary of what she's learned over the years. I really appreciated how she included examples of well-known fictional characters to illustrate certain personality types. An easy and interesting read, I gave it 3 stars.

Currently, I am reading Sabrina & Corina, another collection of short stories about Indigenous and Latina characters that I heard about from Carolyn. I've got two stories left to read, so I should be able to finish it later today and then decide what to read next. I know that poetry will be in my reading forecast for April!

How about you -- what are you working on and reading these days?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Another Monday?

Do you ever feel like Monday lasts more than a day? I felt off all day yesterday because I wasn't following my usual schedule. I had to take Rainbow to a dentist appointment in the morning (and ran into another knitter in the waiting room!), which meant I pushed back my daily walk to late afternoon. My head was also feeling wobbly all day from a migraine I had on Sunday. And last night I accidentally walked into the corner of our wooden bed platform and may have broken a toe. So when I woke up this morning, it felt like I was repeating Monday over again. I managed to make coffee but I hadn't actually consumed any yet when I realized that instead of grabbing the jar of cinnamon to sprinkle on my oatmeal, I had actually grabbed smoked paprika. I'm glad I discovered that one before I took a bite! I am certainly hoping that the day only improves from here.

Because of the migraine hangover yesterday, I thought it best to stick to projects that did not require thinking or counting, so I did some spinning and knit on my scrappy charity sock:

I've got about another inch to go on the foot before I start the toe; I've decided for the sake of simplicity to make these socks my size. I have quite a bit of the red/orange/brown variegated yarn I used for the gusset and first part of the foot, but I was getting a bit bored with it and so decided to switch to another yarn for the rest of the foot and toe. I have been weighing each scrap and using half or less of what I have for this sock so that the second one will at least use the same yarns in the same parts of the sock. Because of the self-patterning nature of some of the yarns I've used, I know I won't get a perfect match, but at least I know the socks will look like they belong together.

I got in a ton of knitting time on my Aldous over the weekend, on Sunday especially (I had three Zooms that day!). This sweater is completely different in its construction compared to my previous Isabell Kraemer sweater (my favorite Humulus). It's still top down and in the round and starts with short-row shaping after the collar so that the back of the sweater sits higher than the front, but that's where the similarities end. This sweater has saddle shoulders, meaning that the stitch count for the shoulders don't change until there's enough fabric knit to cover their width. I'm hoping that's something you can see in this photo:

The back (with a decorative purl line down the middle) is at the bottom of this photo, and the blue bead is the beginning-of-round marker. I am now working sleeve increases, which have purl faux seams on either side. If I'm counting correctly, I have about 15 more rounds in this section and seven rounds in the body increase section that follows before I split the sleeve stitches from the body. After that it'll be just lots and lots of stockinette with the occasional purl for a faux seam. Should be good knitting to do while reading!

Today is shaping up to be a busy day at work, with another commencement deadline at noon, and at home -- starting today, we're having our roof replaced! Our house was built in 1931 and still has its original slate roof, but enough slates have fallen off in the past year or two that we decided to bite the bullet and have it done (it helps that the next roof should outlive us). I'm hoping it doesn't get too noisy while the roofers build their scaffolding today for my sake, and I'm hoping that it's decidedly Tuesday for you today!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Balance in 2021: March

It's hard to believe it's already the last week (well, half-week, really) in March. Where has this month gone?

I know Monday isn't one of my typical blogging days, but as it's the final Monday of the month, it's time to look back at the month through the lens of my One Little Word for the year and to join the link-up that Carolyn hosts.

Balance has been extremely important this month when it comes to balancing work and not-work. This is always been the busiest time of the year at my job, but it's harder to get the mental separation when your "office" is the corner of your bedroom and when you are able to work past 5 because you don't need to run to pick your kid up from school.

During commencement time, this list is pretty much my life when I'm in work mode. I have more than two dozen lists to keep track of and edit and at least one person to deal with to get each list. There's a lot of information in each list and a somewhat complicated format to follow, and every year there are new people putting the list together who either don't understand the instructions or don't bother to read them. That means that I end up doing a lot of the work. And honestly I don't mind it that much (and in fact get a strange satisfaction from fixing all the errors), but it's certainly mentally exhausting work. That makes it all more important that I make a point to balance my time looking at lists of names and degrees with time specifically not doing that.

The way I've primarily chosen to find balance is by continuing to make time each day for my walk outside. I've now gotten it down to a specific route that's a bit more than 4 miles and takes me just a little more than an hour to cover, depending on how quickly I'm walking on any given day. The daily walk has been helping to keep a streak of 10K+ steps alive (I hit 54 days yesterday, but that's only counting since I replaced my Fitbit; I had 120+ days on the previous band that didn't carry over for some reason). But at this time of year, it's also been a delight to check the progress on the trees and flowers every day and see what has happened overnight. Color is popping up everywhere! And I love hearing the birds noisily going about their business in the mornings now. I even managed to catch a woodpecker on one of the utility poles in the neighborhood last weekend:

While this project is still stressful because there are so many moving parts and a firm deadline, I'm finding that I'm feeling a lot less stress physically and mentally this year because I am giving myself a break in the middle of the day, every day. I'm getting some exercise, which is always good for me, but I'm also giving my brain a respite from thinking about it and my eyes a break from looking at a screen. This is something I'll have to remember for this time of year in the future when I'm back in my office; I will need to make a point to get out for a walk around the neighborhood on my lunch break instead of shutting my door and sitting with my knitting.

As to my 21 in 2021 list, I've crossed a few more items off my list: I've knit a sweater out of handspun, knit a sweater for Rainbow, and read a book outside my comfort zone. I've got my eye on a few more for the next month, too!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Waiting for Poppies

I'd really hoped to have a finished skein of handspun to share today. For some strange reason I thought that I'd manage to finish spinning my last bobbin of singles yesterday in the midst of my Passover cooking. Those of you laughing at me right now are totally justified -- I had all of about 20 minutes to sit down yesterday afternoon! But the meal turned out well, the company was lovely, and I can unreservedly recommend those flourless chocolate cookies now (just know that they do not keep well and you'll want to eat them quickly after you make them, but they're so light that you really don't feel bad about eating a few in a sitting).

As of this evening, I have three finished bobbins of Flanders Fields Rambouillet singles:

I think I just might start plying tonight, especially as I am hoping that there's a good amount of yardage in there, which would translate to a longer plying time. When this skein is finally done, I have a new tool to skein it, because my birthday present finally arrived on Friday afternoon!

This is an Akerworks Super Skeiner, my runner-up choice of present after the puppy I requested first didn't materialize. As with all the Akerworks products I own, it's a bit of engineering genius. It folds flat and gets stored in what looks to be a laptop case. In a couple of minutes (assuming you're a little smarter about reading the directions than I was), you can have it put together to skein up your latest handspun. It's able to be expanded to hold a larger skein, and it has a counter that you attach that takes the hardest part of skeining for me (because my mind is always wandering while I'm trying to count or someone comes in and starts talking to me).

I apparently got an upgrade on the original counter; if you look at the product page on the Akerworks site, you'll see that the counter looks like the clicker style of row counter. The one that came with mine is fully digital and runs on a single AA battery. The skein that's on the Super Skeiner is the Shetland I finished earlier in the month. I ran it back through the wheel to remove some of the excess plying twist, and it was conveniently waiting to be reskeined when this new toy arrived. It works brilliantly (provided it's set up correctly, of course; there was some user error on my first attempt).

I hope you've had as nice a weekend as possible. We had gorgeous weather yesterday for our seder, so we were able to sit outdoors, and today was gross and rainy but the highlight was that my parents got back this afternoon and stopped by on their way to their house to surprise Rainbow. She said she thought she was going to cry because she was so happy to see them! That, my friends, is a reminder of what's important.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Cooking for Passover

Passover* starts this Saturday night. For the first time in my life, my mother is not going to be cooking for the holiday. She and my father will be driving home from Florida this weekend, which is great because we'll soon be able to see them again in person, but that leaves the cooking to me. Last year we did a virtual seder, and she and my father cooked and delivered care packages with everything we needed so that we could all gather over Zoom. But this year, we'll have a very small seder -- just the three of us and my brother and sister-in-law. The weather is supposed to be lovely on Saturday, so we'll be able to sit outside. And because there will be so few of us, I'm not planning a huge, elaborate menu. It's Thursday, so I'm linking up with Carole to share three Passover recipes.

1. Charoset
Charoset is a symbolic food that is put on the seder plate for the Passover dinner. It is meant to represent the mortar used by the enslaved Jews in Egypt, and though it represents suffering, it's quite delicious. You can find numerous recipes online, there really is no "official" way to make it, and a lot of it is done by taste. The ingredients are simple: apples (something crisp and flavorful, like Honeycrisp), walnuts, cinnamon, and wine. You chop the apples and walnuts (which I like to toast in a pan first) and then mix them together with the cinnamon and wine to taste. The wine that I usually use is Manischewitz Concord Grape, which is a bit like alcoholic cough syrup and, in my opinion, is only good for this use. You can easily substitute any red wine or even concord grape juice. I once made a batch of charoset with apple juice when I was pregnant, and that worked, too. It's pretty hard to go wrong on this!

2. Brisket
You might be familiar with brisket in the context of BBQ, but in my family, we've always cooked it the "traditional" way for Passover: slowly, for many hours, in liquid with onions, carrots, and celery. We get the brisket from the market trimmed of some of the fat, but not all (you want a bit left on to keep the meat moist). I season it a bit with salt and pepper and put it in a large pan, then cover it with broth and the sliced veggies. I cover the pan with foil and put it in the oven at about 325F for several hours, until it's just starting to get fork tender. At that point, I remove it from the oven and slice it, against the grain, into pieces about 1/2 an inch thick. I return the slices to the pan with the broth (adding more liquid if needed) and veggies and cook it for another hour or two. Cooking times can vary and depend on the amount of meat, so you want to make sure you have plenty of time for it to cook. I often make a brisket a day or two ahead of time and reheat it for a holiday meal to ensure it's had enough time in the oven -- it's cooked enough when you can break it apart with just a fork.

3. A Flourless Chocolate Dessert
There are many restrictions on what can be eaten during Passover, but the simple rule is that nothing is permitted that can rise or leaven. This means no flour or other wheat products unless they're kosher for Passover, which means matzah or made from matzah (like matzah meal, which is ground-up matzah). So any sort of cake or baked good that uses flour is out. My mother typically serves a flourless chocolate cake that she gets from Whole Foods, and Rainbow and I contemplated baking one, but in looking through other recipes online, I came across this one for flourless fudge cookies. We'll be trying these for the first time this year, so I can't vouch for how good they are, but they look good and pretty easy to me. A bonus is that these aren't really Passover cookies -- they're more of a gluten-free recipe that just happens to be kosher for Passover! I'll let you know how ours turn out.

* By the way, if you are not Jewish, you might not think you know anything about Passover other than it's the time for eating matzah. But if you've ever watched The Ten Commandments, which always seems to air on network TV around Easter, then you know the Passover story, even if you don't know the details of how it's observed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Unraveled, Week 12/2021

It's Wednesday again, and this week I have the day off for a "self-care" day, which frankly feels a bit weird in the middle of the week (we're getting this day off to make up for not getting a day off on the Friday of spring break week), but I'll take it. As per usual, I'm joining up with Kat and the Unravelers to chat about knitting and reading.

In addition to finishing my sweater in the past week, I've also finished my Folia Hat (Ravelry link). I worked the last of the crown decreases yesterday and blocked it right away. The contrast is a touch more subtle in real life.

I used the recommended needle sizes (US 2/2.75 mm and US 3/3.25 mm) and Fibernymph Dye Works Ridgetop Fingering in Graphite (100 yards) and Warm Honey (88 yards). The yarn did bloom nicely in blocking, though I still need to manipulate the hat a bit more to even out the tension at the spots where the cord of my needle poked out (I worked the whole thing magic loop). I can definitely see working this pattern again, likely in something with a stronger contrast. Rainbow has said how much she likes this one, and I'd give it to her were it not for the fact that she finds the yarn scratchy. So she will likely be the recipient of the second version.

I did end up ripping out the shawl I started and shared last week, and I'm going to try another attempt with a slight variation (namely a different increase) to see how it goes. But I also wanted to free up the needles I was using for a different project, which I just started last night:

The pattern is Aldous by Isabell Kraemer (Ravelry link), and I'm being a bit cheeky by casting on without swatching BUT! the stitch gauge is the same as the Darkwater I knit last year and I'm using the same yarn, so I'm pretty confident I won't have an issue. The sweater is knit from the top down, so I can try it on as I go. I'm knitting the second size (37.5 in./93.5 cm bust), which gives me at least a couple of inches of positive ease, so I figure I have some wiggle room, too. Fingers crossed!

Reading has been good this week. I think I felt like I had to make up for my diminished reading time last week, and I've actually finished three books since last Wednesday! These three are all finalists for the Aspen Words Literary Prize; I had already read the other two and wanted to read them all.

The Office of Historical Corrections is a collection of short stories and a novella that gives the collection its name. I'm usually not a big fan of short stories because they often either feel incomplete or leave me feeling frustrated or wanting more. This is a collection that, for the most part, does it right (there was one story I didn't care for). All the stories felt like they could easily be a chapter or two in a much longer novel, but they stand alone quite well, too. The writing is quite good, and there's something different about it that I can't really put my finger on but that made me go back and reread portions more slowly from time to time. My favorite of the stories was definitely the novella, which falls at the end of the collection and really packs a punch. I gave it 4 stars and definitely recommend it.

One of the items on my 21 in 2021 list was to read a book outside my comfort zone, and Against the Loveless World fits that to a T. This novel, which reads like it could be a memoir, is the story of a Palestinian woman raised in a family living in exile in Kuwait and then, following the Gulf War, Jordan. She eventually moves back to Palestine and becomes involved in resistance activities; the story is told in retrospect from her "cube" in an Israeli jail after she is convicted of terrorism. I wanted to read this book because I've really wanted to gain a better understanding of the Palestinian perspective of the conflict and reconcile the very one-sided pro-Israel perspective I received as part of my religious education. While I didn't love the book -- I think mostly because it was difficult to read, for reasons beyond the political -- I did find it worthwhile to read. I gave it 3 stars.

I knew nothing about the story collection If I Had Two Wings or its author before I borrowed it from the library, but I feel like I had a pretty good idea of his general biography from reading these stories and noting what he chose to focus on. The short stories in this collection are tied together by the fictional town of Tims Creek, North Carolina. The characters in one story sometimes pop up in another, but the narratives stand on their own. My favorite story in the collection was "Resurrection Hardware, or Lard & Promises." Several of the stories are still confusing to me, and I hope I'm able to discuss them with others. It felt like an interesting coincidence to me that James Baldwin came up several times, as a Baldwin quote is responsible for the title of Against the Loveless World. This was a quick read -- I read the entirety of it yesterday! I gave it 3 stars.

Now that I've finished the Aspen Prize short list, I'm moving on to the long list for the Women's Prize in Fiction. I've already read two of the books on the list, Transcendent Kingdom and The Vanishing Half, but there are still plenty of titles to read; I'm not sure I'll get to all of them, but I like the idea of trying. My first selection, which I'll be starting today, is Exciting Times.

I'm looking forward to hearing about what you've been working on and reading in the comments!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

In Which I Cross a Big Item Off the List

It's not quite time for an official update on my 21 in 2021 list, but I can give you a little sneak peek by telling you that I'm crossing one large item off that list: I have knit a handspun sweater.

But before we get to the finished sweater, we need to go back in time to about two years ago, when I decided to deal with some of my overwhelming Southern Cross Fibre stash by doing a combo spin with eight club shipments. A combo spin is when you combine a number of different colors and/or fibers to make a larger project. Sometimes there's a strategy to it in term of color and sometimes there's not. In my case, I picked eight colorways from the club that looked like they'd play well together, divided each one up into about 16 smaller bundles, and then combined put all the bundles into a big bag. It looked like this:

My spinning was completely random: I reached into the bag and pulled out a new little bundle when I needed one. The only management I did of colors, if you can even call it that, was to ensure that when I grabbed a new bit of fiber, it wasn't from the same colorway as the one I'd just finished spinning. I more or less filled six bobbins with singles:

And then I plied them for three skeins of yarn (plus a much smaller fourth skein, which was chain-plied from the leftovers when I had run out of singles for the three-ply yarn):

My estimate was that I had about 820-ish yards of the three ply plus about 107 yards in the chain-plied skein. The yarn was definitely dense and tightly plied, hence the rather low yardage. When I finally picked the Ramona Cardigan as my project for this yarn, it really looked like I'd be cutting it close, but I figured I could make the sleeves 3/4 length if I needed to, and I could always break into the chain-plied skein for the collar and button bands if I needed to. What happened, though, was akin to the Chanukah miracle, in which the oil that was only enough for one day burned for eight -- or, more realistically, my yardage was dramatically underestimated and/or the designer generously overestimated how much yarn was needed.

Pattern: Ramona Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith, size 2 (35.25 in./90 cm bust)
Yarn: combo spin (Ravelry page for that project here), an estimated 646.5 yards used
Needles: US 9 (5.5 mm) and US 8 (5.0 mm)
Started/Completed: March 6/March 15
Mods: worked lifted increases instead of m1's; worked edge stitches of button band in garter

It's been a long time since I knit a sweater for myself in anything thicker than a worsted weight, and I think this is the first time I've ever knit a sweater using needles this large. That took some adjustment, but it was also extremely satisfying how quickly it went.

The pattern calls for 2-3 in./5-8 cm of positive ease, so I should have knit the next size up to get that, but I was worried about having enough yarn because this size called for 825 yards, pretty much exactly what I thought I had. So my cardigan only has minimal positive ease, but it's quite comfy that way. I know it looks like the fronts will have to be stretched a lot to actually button the sweater, but I think that's just an illusion from how I'm standing. I do like how it hangs with the front open, and in all honesty, that's how I'm likely to wear this most of the time anyway.

One of the things I love about knitting with handspun is that it always stripes when you spin dyed fiber, even when you think it's a solid (it's just more subtle in that case). The random nature of spinning also meant that I didn't have to worry about blending in a new skein when I joined it because the colors change so frequently even within one skein. I also didn't have to worry about trying to get the sleeves to match each other because there was no way to do it even if I had wanted to.

This sweater is a raglan worked in one piece from the top down. There's a garter stitch feature along the raglan line that's then picked up again for a faux seam at the sides under the underarm and then echoed in the broken rib at the bottom of the body. The sleeve cuffs, collar, and button bands are 1x1 rib.

My only modifications to the pattern -- which, by the way, is extremely well written and easy to follow -- were to switch out the type of increases used (I prefer lifted increases rather than the m1, which uses the yarn running between stitches and thus sometimes distorts the existing stitches on either side) and to work the stitches at the edges of the button bands in garter to try to combat the curling that often results in the edges of the button bands not sitting even with the rest of the knitting. 

I searched through my button collection, with Rainbow's help, but only came up with one button that was the right size and worked well with the colors, so I had to go online to find some. Ultimately I picked these buttons from this Etsy shop, which are actually shank buttons (I think that will actually work better given the thickness of the fabric):

Overall, I couldn't be happier with how this turned out. It was a fun knit, and certainly the speed with which it knit up was extremely satisfying. I was hoping it would use up most, if not all, of the handspun, but there's still a good amount leftover! Perhaps it's a good reason to update my Etsy shop, which has been dormant for a long time, and see if someone else wants to play with the yarn that brought me so much pleasure.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spinning as Therapy

Thank you all for your words of commiseration and encouragement on my last post. With everything going on in the world and the country, and having not slept very well all week, that work meeting was just what pushed me over the edge and into the dumps as far as my mood was concerned. But luckily Friday turned out to be a less-crazy day, and I was able to get more than eight hours of sleep Friday night (I actually slept in until almost 8 Saturday morning!), so things look a little less dire now. I'm still terribly upset that some of my coworkers lost their jobs without warning, but I know that that's something that's happened to many people, especially over the last year. And for as bad as I've been feeling, I'm sure they're feeling worse, so it's better if I spend my time focusing on doing things that will make conditions better for someone else. Like knitting on charity items, for instance, or helping out at the food drive we had at my synagogue today to benefit a local shelter/soup kitchen/food pantry (we collected 50+ boxes of food!).

Knowing my mental health history, it was also important for me to take some time for myself, because I'm no good to anyone if I allow myself to sink into a hole. Here's where spinning comes in -- as it has been throughout the pandemic, I am finding it to be extremely therapeutic and relaxing. So over the last two days, I have focused on slowly and methodically spinning fine Rambouillet singles, and I've finished the first of the three bobbins.

I know it's hard to tell how fine the singles are from this distance. This might help give you a sense of scale (the coin is a U.S. dime, which measures about 0.6 in./1.5 cm):

As eager as I am to see how the finished yarn looks, I am also so enjoying this process. The fiber really wants to be spun fine, to the point that I might end up with laceweight before washing. And that's okay. This is an instance where it's more about the process than the product.

And now, friends, I'm going to go for a walk, because there is not a cloud in the sky and it's 62F outside. That's warmer than average and I'm not going to miss it!

Friday, March 19, 2021

Are We There Yet?

My friends, it has been a week. I am more than ready for this day to be over and for the weekend to start. Yesterday was another crazy day, if you hadn't already guessed that based upon the fact that I didn't manage to post yesterday. In addition to a heavy workload (which was expected), I also got called into a last-minute staff meeting where I learned that thanks to a reorganization of my office, seven of my coworkers have lost their jobs because their positions have been eliminated. Some of them may get hired back because new positions are being posted for which they might be eligible, but it was a shock all the same. We'd all known that the reorganization was coming and that there has been a general budget tightening due to the pandemic and associated economic crunch, but I don't think anyone expected this drastic an outcome, especially because a handful of people have recently left the office for other positions. Needless to say, I was not in a good mood yesterday.

But life goes on, and I am thankful that I still have my job and that while plans are being made to move people back to in-person work, I won't have to return until I'm vaccinated (that was also confirmed in yesterday's meeting). I decided to cast on a new project last night, and frankly this beautiful sunny gold yarn, after a day when it rained nonstop, was a real mood lifter.

The pattern is Folia Hat (Ravelry link) by Erica Heusser, and I'm using two colors of Fibernymph Dye Works Ridgetop Fingering, Lisa's custom-blended nonsuperwash Romney/Falkland blend. I won two half skeins from her recently, and while I'm usually not one to knit a pattern in the exact colors used in the sample, they just happened to match in this case. I haven't gotten too far just yet, but I plan on working on it more today and this weekend.

I am hoping for a really relaxing weekend. The weather is supposed to be good (right on time for the start of spring tomorrow!), and on Sunday I'll be helping out at the food drive my synagogue is doing to benefit a local shelter/food bank -- and on top of that, Rainbow is officially on spring break for two weeks when school ends tomorrow, so knowing that I won't have to wake her up on Monday morning means that we'll all be in a better mood!

I hope this weekend brings you calm, good weather, and some reasons to hope.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Unraveled, Week 11/2021

It's Wednesday (only Wednesday?!), so it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk WIPs and books.

I did end up finishing my Ramona Cardigan yesterday, fitting in the last handful of rows while I proofed some easy lists in the morning and then weaving in the ends yesterday evening. Rainbow and I dug through my button collection but came up empty. Actually, that's not quite true -- I found one perfect button, but I need a total of seven. So I'll be looking online, and I'm holding off on blocking the sweater for now (typically I like to have the buttons sewn on when blocking to help a cardigan hold its shape). I promise a full FO post soon with all the juicy details.

I started two new projects yesterday. First, I dug out some self-patterning sock yarn scraps from the big bag 'o scraps and started a scrappy pair of socks for charity. I figure these can be my project while working or sitting in meetings because they require almost zero attention.

Then, last night, I started a new shawl with a big skein of handspun, intending it to be a new pattern sample, but I'm not sure it's working out in yarn the way it did in my head.

Those garter sections look like they're aligned across the three sections, but they're actually staggered. I think it's more obvious when the fabric is stretched, but I'm not sure it's the look I want. So I'm debating whether to continue going and see if it looks better as it gets larger or just frog it and use the yarn for an enormous Hitchhiker. Thoughts are appreciated!

On the reading front, I've finished two books in the last week.

First, I reread (I think) The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I vaguely remember reading it for the first time in high school, though I didn't remember any of the specifics, and listening to the episode on it on the Novel Pairings podcast made me want to revisit it. Unfortunately, I was less than impressed this time around. Even leaving aside the problematic language and racist overtones, I found it rather lacking. I know it's a novella and thus is meant to be on the short side, but it felt a bit to me like the outline of a novel rather than a fully written work. I don't think Chopin really went far enough in examining and explaining Edna's awakening. I gave it 2 stars.

After that disappointment, it was a real treat to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. The premise of the book is that the title character, seeking to avoid a life trapped in a loveless marriage and never seeing the world beyond her small French village, makes a deal with a dark spirit that enables her to live forever in exchange for her soul. What she doesn't realize when she makes this deal is that she will become, in essence, invisible to other people: The minute she leaves someone's sight, they forget she ever existed. Part of the book chronicles her backstory, but the main story line is when she has been living for almost 300 years and encounters a man who remembers her. Thus begins a beautiful and heartbreaking love story. This book asks us to think about how we live our lives and what we leave behind, and it's really beautifully and thoughtfully written. I gave it 5 stars.

On deck next: I started The Office of Historical Corrections yesterday and also got Against the Loveless World from my library holds yesterday -- when it rains, it pours! My reading time is limited right now, but I'm looking forward to getting through both of these.

I am also looking forward to hearing what you're working on and reading in the comments!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Nine-day Sweater

Yesterday I completely forgot that it was the Ides of March, though I really should have remembered given how clobbered I was by work. It's commencement season, and yesterday was the deadline for me to receive many lists of graduating students, which means I spent the first of what will be many days reviewing names until my eyes cross permanently.

All that has nothing to do with knitting except for the fact that I was so busy with it yesterday that I was hardly able to knit a stitch until the work day was done, and that meant that I didn't finish my handspun sweater. But I got really close -- so close that I can say with certainty that it'll be finished today!

The colors are actually fairly accurate here!

I have finished everything but the last five rows and bind-off of the left button band. I knew, intellectually, that a bulky-weight sweater would be pretty fast to knit, but I'm still astounded by how quickly this has come together. I started it last Saturday night, though I got maybe less than an hour of knitting of it in total that evening. I finished the yoke during my Sunday Zoom session the next morning. I'd finished the body by Thursday, I think, and both sleeves were done by the end of this past weekend. All I managed during the day yesterday (during my biweekly team meeting) was the collar, and then I worked on the button bands last night. So tonight's task will be the rest of the knitting, weaving in the last few ends, finding appropriate buttons, and (if I get really ambitious) blocking. A sweater in nine days -- definitely the fastest ever for me for an adult sweater!

I'm going to have to figure out what to cast on next, because I will need something mindless for meetings and whatnot. I finished up my most recent charity hat sometime last week, though it still hasn't been blocked. I used my usual recipe for an average adult-sized beanie, making it a bit more slouchy.

I used two dark semisolids along with a mostly darker blue variegated, and this photo makes it really obvious where I switched, but I think it's less apparent in person. I used up all of one of the three scrap balls and greatly diminished the other two, so it's a success for me. I've been thinking lately about making scrappy socks for charity, as I haven't knit any socks in a while and my fingers have been itching to work on some; I just have to figure out what a good average size is to make (any ideas, all?).

Okay, I should get back to my lists of names now, but I will post again tomorrow with what I hope is a finished sweater and a reading update!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Spin Your Greens

The spinning of deep stash continues this week with some Shetland from Southern Cross from July 2016. At the time I had not yet discovered my love of woolly wools, and this felt a bit scratchy to me, so it sat unspun. Now, though, I adore Shetland, so this was a treat to spin. This was the fiber, in a colorway called Organic Greens:

Someone comments on one of my Instagram posts, noting that they thought it was misnamed because there's so little green in the fiber. But it reminds me a lot of ornamental kale. I decided to go back to my roots with this spin and do a traditional three-ply fingering with no special handling of the colors -- I simply folded the fiber into thirds and broke it apart at the folds. I was pleased to see that, when plied, the finished skein had a good distribution of colors.

It might be a tad overplied; I typically put a fair amount of ply twist into my yarns (which, for sock yarn, which I first learned to spin in order to make, can be a good thing), but often I can snap them and distribute the extra twist in the finishing process. This skein, though, has some spots where it won't straighten out and is even curling back on itself. So I might wind it into a center-pull ball and run it back through the wheel quickly to remove a little of that twist.

I ended up with a solidly fingering weight yarn, but it's only 273 yards, a bit low for my taste. It's possible that's just because of the fiber; coarser fibers are typically heavier, so you get less yardage for the same weight than you would for something softer and finer. But spinning this skein reminded me that I really enjoy spinning this kind of yarn specifically, so I'm going to do the same with the next spin:

This is Flanders Field on Rambouillet, the September 2016 shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club. The colors are a bit off here; the reddish tones are more of a rusty red than a dark orange, and the other spots are actually a bit more gray than blue. But I think you get the idea. I have a feeling that I will get more yardage from this fiber than I did with the Shetland, and certainly I love to spin Rambouillet, so this should be a fun one.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

A Year Later: What I've Gained

It's amazing and yet not entirely surprising that it's been a year since this crazy pandemic started. A year ago (more or less), I was at work at my office for the last time. Traditionally the Friday of spring break week is a day off for staff at the university I work for, so I was looking forward to a Friday off the next day even as I was getting more and more anxious about what was happening in the world. My blog post that morning featured this photo, taken of my then-current lunchtime knitting on top of my work desk:

Later that day, I'd be sent home and told that we were using the rest of that day and the following Monday as a trial period to see how working from home might go. I don't think I need to tell you how that all worked out! Since then, I've been in my office exactly once, when we were allowed to return for a short window one day last summer to retrieve items, though I pass my office building every day on my exercise route.

So many reflections on the past year focus on what we've lost due to the pandemic, and for good reason. But in thinking back, I've realized that I've also gained some really amazing things, too. so that's what I've chose to focus on for Three on Thursday (hosted by Carole) this week.

1. A healthier lifestyle
I'd be lying if I told you that I haven't been indulging in more sweets or drinking more during the pandemic, because I absolutely have. But working from home has also made it easier for me to instill some healthy habits. Because my commute is now a matter of walking up a flight of stairs and I don't feel I have to be fully made up (meaning makeup and hair done and in business casual dress), I'm able to sleep a little later in the morning and get more rest each night. I've also been able to get out and exercise pretty much every day because I can take my lunch break whenever I want. I did a heck of a lot of running last year, and since I did something to my hip last fall, I've been walking a bit more than 4 miles every day. I've gained some muscle definition and probably lowered my resting heart rate, and I feel stronger. I have no doubt that the exercise has helped my stress level (getting out every day in the early days of the pandemic was certainly a huge help), and the habits I've made are ones I'm likely to stick with even when things are closer to normal, whatever that is.

2. Wonderful friends
I had a handful of internet friends before, but when the internet suddenly became the primary way to connect with people, that circle of friends grew and deepened. There is not a day that goes by now that I don't check in with many of you. We're still reading and commenting on each other's blogs and posting on Instagram, but we've also started meeting on Zoom and Google hangouts on a regular basis, formed an online book club, sent each other physical mail, and connected via email and text message. I've long struggled to make new friends as a very introverted and shy adult, so in this respect the pandemic has been a blessing.

3. A deeper sense of self
I regularly kept a journal in my earlier years, but I'd fallen out of practice with it until the pandemic prompted me to start again as a way of documenting this moment in time. Between reflecting each day in my journal, reading more deeply and broadly, having serious conversations with friends, and listening to new podcasts and other media, I've developed a much better sense of who I am, what I value, and how I want to change and grow. I've really grown my self-confidence and become happier with who I am and what I have. I'm sure some of this comes from just getting older (yes, I'm now officially middle-aged!), but the pandemic has also given me some very real perspective on my position in life and society. I know how lucky I am, and I also recognize that my privilege is a gift that enables me to help those who are not so lucky.

We have lost so much this past year, but I hope that every one of you can also look back on this year of sadness and loss and find at least a few good things you've gained as well. As always, I'm happy to have you here as part of my little corner of the internet. I hope you have a lovely weekend, and I will be back on Sunday with some handspun!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Unraveled, Week 10/2021

Thank you for all the birthday wishes yesterday! A number of family members and friends who I talked to yesterday asked if I was doing anything special to celebrate, and really the honest answer is that there isn't much you can do on a Tuesday in a pandemic when you're working! But in contrast to the typical weather I usually have to deal with on my birthday (gray and snowy), it was a gorgeous sunny day here yesterday, and we reached a high in the low 60s, so I had a lovely walk. I also FaceTimed with my parents (shortly before they left for my mom's appointment to get her second dose of the vaccine!) and with my brother-in-law and nephew, who now can say our names and identify us! And in addition to the wines I shared in yesterday's post, I was thoroughly spoiled by my family with some really thoughtful gifts, including a couple of Akerworks bobbins for my wheel and a beautiful flower arrangement that was delivered midday. Sadly I did not get the puppy I asked for, but the Mister ordered me my second choice of gift: an Akerworks Super Skeiner that is currently in production.

I also got yarn in the mail -- not a birthday present, but a happy coincidence that it arrived when it did!

The skein on the left actually arrived Monday as part of a prize package from A Hundred Ravens that I won in the Down Cellar Studio Pigskin Party; sadly the mug that was also in the package did not survive (just as well -- we have no more room for mugs in our cabinet). The other two skeins from Fibernymph Dye Works were prizes from last year's Monthly Makes program. The one in the middle is the colorway I got to choose for participating in the second half of the year -- it's the Scrabble-inspired That's Not Even a Word! I had a skein of this colorway previously and used it for a baby gift, only to regret not keeping it for myself. The skein on the right is the special colorway that Lisa created for those of us who participated in the program all 12 months. It's called Keep On Going, and she says it was inspired by how her fiber crafts kept her and so many of us going during such difficult times last year. I absolutely love it!

It's Wednesday, so it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and chat a bit about WIPs and reading.

When I finished Rainbow's sweater, I officially gave myself permission to cast on one for me, and I have to say that it's really satisfying to knit something in bulky yarn after knitting a large sweater in fingering. This is my Ramona Cardigan in my own handspun. I cast on Saturday night (kind of late, actually, as we'd had my birthday celebration that night and didn't get Rainbow to bed until around 9) and am already several inches below the underarm. I know it looks pretty tiny here, but it's (a) stockinette, (b) unblocked, and (c) on a 32-inch needle because it's not a size I usually knit with (US 9/5.5 mm) and the only one I had that wasn't an interchangeable needle was this old Susan Bates pair.

This was all knit with the first skein of yarn, which was the smallest of the three, so I think that despite my concern that I was going to cut it close on yarn, I should be just fine.

While I was waiting for my swatch for the sweater to dry, I also cast on another marled scrappy hat for charity, which I should be able to finish up today (I've just started the decreases) after largely ignoring it for several days.

I used up the rest of a partial skein of Murky Depths Deep Sock and am now using what's left of a skein of of Knit Picks Hawthorne. The variegated yarn is from a local-ish indie dyer who flounced from Ravelry after the you-know-who ban, so I'm not supporting her anymore. I'd used part of the skein to knit Rainbow a hat several years ago, so it felt right to use what was left for a charity knit.

Reading has been pretty good the past week, and I've added two more books to my Read shelf:

I was interested in reading Barbara Kingsolver's 2018 novel Unsheltered since listening to an interview with her about it a few weeks ago. Though I've really enjoyed her books in the past, I didn't read this when it first came out because a lot of friends didn't like it and I assumed I wouldn't either. But I'm glad I gave it a try now, because I really enjoyed it. Yes, she makes some pretty strong political statements, but they're statements I happen to agree with, on the one hand, and the writing is simply gorgeous. I really appreciate that she was able to build two parallel narratives that really worked so well together and that had their basis in the life of a real person. I gave it 4 stars.

I had bookmarked The Reason You're Alive after both Patty and Bonny recommended it, so I decided to give it a try while I was waiting for my next library hold. This is one of those books that you think you will absolutely hate if you read the description but is really worth giving it a read. It's a first-person narrative by a Vietnam vet who is a steak-eating, gun-toting Republican trying to come to grips with his life after having surgery to remove a brain tumor. He's someone I thought I would hate, but the more I read, the more I warmed to him. It's a very quick read (I got through it in less than 24 hours on a work day) and has a hopeful ending, though be forewarned that it deals with some serious stuff and has some very adult language. I gave it 3 stars.

I am currently rereading The Awakening, which I'm fairly certain I read in high school but have no real memories of, thanks to the podcast Novel Pairings -- Mary has been raving about it, so I subscribed and have been listening from the beginning. I hope to finish it today, because last night I got a notification that my hold for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is up and it's ready for me!

I think that's more than enough from me for today! I'd love to hear what you're knitting and reading this week in the comments!

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

This Is 40

Good morning, friends! Today's a special day -- today I turn 40. I know a lot of women feel stressed about getting older, and there was a time in my life when I did, too. But today I am embracing it.

This is me -- gray hair, midlife acne, and all.

Everything was really starting to get weird around my birthday last year, so it kind of passed by without much of an acknowledgment. And the past year has certainly been strange and hard and full of all sorts of challenges. For me, though, I feel like this year has been a bit of a gift. Whether it was a result of the pandemic or just a happy coincidence, I have found over the past year that I've gotten more comfortable in my own skin (even if my skin continues to give me problems!), I've gotten physically stronger thanks to being more active, and I have grown a lot intellectually and emotionally thanks to reading better and journaling (mostly) daily. I have developed and solidified some wonderful friendships with many of you and strengthened my relationships with my family, especially Rainbow, thanks to all the time we've had for serious conversations. I have gained real appreciation for what I have -- my home, my job, my health. I am very lucky in so many ways.

I had my annual physical at my doctor on Friday, and it really brought home how far I've come in the last few years. You may recall that about three years ago I made some big changes in my diet and my lifestyle to improve my health (and yes, lose weight, but that was an effort mainly to bring my cholesterol down). I've kept up, mostly, with the dietary changes -- I'll admit I've been indulging in chocolate a bit more during the pandemic -- and working from home has been great in enabling me to exercise every day. I'm probably in the best shape I've been in since I was an active kid, and I feel strong. After too many years of being uncomfortable with my body, I now feel proud of it. The body I have carried and gave birth to an amazing daughter. It's capable of taking me on my daily excursions around my neighborhood. It can lift and bend and stretch without too much effort or pain. It's the only one I have, and I'm committed to keeping it strong for the long haul.

I could get really philosophical and sappy, but I won't. All I will say is thank you, friends, for enriching my life. It's been quite a year, but in many ways it's been a good one.

I will close by sharing a photo of one of my birthday gifts from my brother and sister-in-law, who really knocked it out of the park with their thoughtfulness:

Read the labels!

Have a great day!

Monday, March 08, 2021

Sometimes Monday ...

needs a special FO post!

I don't normally post on Mondays, but I skipped yesterday's Spinning Sunday post (on purpose -- I just didn't feel that I had much to talk about) and I have something special planned for tomorrow, so today's the day to share some FO photos and details!

Pattern: Little Boxy (Ravelry link) by Joji Locatelli, size 10
Yarn: Ex Libris Fibers Solnit (75% superwash merino/25% nylon) in Spruce Lane, 2.11 skeins (977 yards/893 meters)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 2.5 (3.0 mm)
Started/Completed: January 2/March 4
Mods: lengthened the ribbing and the sleeves

This project was a long time in the making. Rainbow picked out the yarn at Indie Knit & Spin back in November 2019, and I really didn't plan to wait more than a year before knitting the sweater, but of course 2020 happened and obliterated all my plans. Thankfully Rainbow is still on the petite side and I had plenty of yarn.

The last Little Boxy I knit for her was completed less than two years ago, which surprised me given how much wear she's gotten out of it. I'm hoping the same happens with this one. I certainly don't have to worry about her level of enthusiasm -- she's absolutely delighted with it and has been wearing it every chance she gets, to the point where I've actually had to tell her to take it off because I've worried she'd get ketchup or some other staining food on it. She says it's incredibly comfortable and a perfect fit, truly a relief, because we had a brief moment of panic when she tried it on when the body was done and the neckline was a little snug. Blocking helped immensely in that respect.

The yarn was lovely to work with though definitely on the light end of fingering. It's a hand-dyed yarn, so I alternated skeins as I always do. One of the three skeins I worked with was a bit darker than the other two, which made alternating all the more important. If you look closely, you might be able to see that the upper part of the back and the shoulders are a tad lighter than the rest of the body and the sleeves; those sections were done with the two lighter skeins. I would have run out of the darker yarn entirely had I tried to alternate it throughout, so I consciously decided to use it more in the bottom sections of the sweater so that I'd get a very subtle gradient effect if it was obvious. I can tell by looking for it, but I don't think it's the kind of thing that will be obvious to anyone who doesn't know about the difference in the skeins and isn't purposefully looking for it.

The only modification I made to the pattern was to lengthen the ribbing at both the bottom of the body and the sleeve cuffs and to make the sleeves a bit longer than called for. Joji only instructs you to work a small number of rounds of ribbing on the body, which I did for my Boxy, and it's really not enough to keep that hem from flipping up. For this version, I did a full inch of 1x1 rib. Rainbow also requested longer sleeves. On her first Little Boxy, I knit them to the specified length, and she's complained that they hit right at the bend of her elbow and can be a bit uncomfortable as a result. This 3/4 length, she says, is perfect -- long enough to keep her a bit warmer and not restrict her, but just short enough that she won't risk dragging the cuffs through her food or getting them wet when she washes her hands. I think the sleeve length also makes this an ideal spring sweater; somehow having that little bit of arm exposed keeps the sweater from being too hot.

There's quite a bit of yarn leftover, and I've told Rainbow that if she likes, I can make her a matching pair of socks with it.

I have to share this photo as well: On Saturday, when the sunshine made for perfect lighting for an FO photo shoot, Rainbow received a package in the mail that she was really anxious for.

If, like me, you really enjoyed Michelle Obama's memoir and have a young reader in your life, then you should know that last week she released the young readers' edition of Becoming. Rainbow couldn't wait for her copy to arrive (she even held off on starting a new book the day before it came because she knew she'd want to start it right away), and she's been reading it before bed for the past couple of nights. She also started keeping a reading journal (of sorts) this year, and I love that I officially have another Readers -- capital R! -- in the house!

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Three Reasons to Smile

It's Three on Thursday time again! Thanks as always to Carole for hosting. Here are three things giving me a reason to smile today:

1. The VP visited Fibre Space yesterday.

If you're on any social media and follow people in the fiber community, then you no doubt saw this everywhere yesterday. I found it particularly exciting because I actually know Danielle, the owner of Fibre Space! She is originally from this area and is good friends with Amy of Ross Farm, and we had dinner with her and her family several years ago on my first Rhinebeck trip.

2. Vaccinations are ramping up.

We were all happy that a third vaccine was approved last week (no one more so than Rainbow -- she's hoping that the first one available for her age group is one that only requires one shot!). Yesterday our governor announced that the state will be getting more than 94,000 doses of the J&J vaccine in the coming weeks and will be designating those doses specifically for teachers, child care workers, and school staff. One of the things that's really irked me about all the people whining about their kids not being in school is that they seemed to completely disregard the safety of the people teaching and looking after their kids. Rainbow's school has done an excellent job of keeping everyone safe, but I'm really happy that my state is looking out for her teachers.

Also, my parents have their appointments for their second shots next week (they both got the Moderna vaccine)! They are planning to stay in Florida for two weeks beyond their second doses for the full effect and then plan to come home.

3. If all goes according to plan, Rainbow will have a finished sweater by the end of the day.

I just did the last decrease on the second sleeve, so now it's just a matter of adding enough length. I'm down to 42 stitches in the round now, peanuts compared to the almost 300 in the body!

I hope you have some reasons to smile today and find some more this weekend!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Unraveled, Week 9/2021

It's Wednesday already? It's already been a busy week and it feels like it's flying by. The days are getting noticeably longer, though, and there's a positive trend in the high temperatures in the forecast.

I'm joining up with Kat and the Unravelers as I do every Wednesday to talk about knitting and reading.

While Rainbow's Little Boxy is my top priority (and I'm actually hoping to finish it today), I have two other WIPs that you haven't seen in a while -- because I haven't worked on them in a while. First, there's my Breathe and Hope shawl (Ravelry link), which I started last May.

Honestly? I think I'm going to rip this out. I'm fairly certain I made a big error in that section right in the middle, and the top edge is really tight. I'm just not feeling the love for this pattern, either, and yarn (an MCN base from Fiber Optic) is just too lovely to let it sit around.

The other WIP I do intend to finish. It's my ADVENTuresome Wrap (Ravelry link) using my holiday minis from Fibernymph Dye Works. I don't think I've shared it since doing the first section in one of the minis -- here's a closeup:

That first section was rather slow going because I kept messing up and having to tink back, but now I think I know what I'm doing. It would be nice to be able to sit down and knock out a stripe a night, but that might be a bit ambitious. I think this will be an ongoing project that I can pick up on an off and will finish eventually.

Reading has been, for the most part, really good this past week. I've finished two books, both of which I rated 5 stars:

I know quite a few of you have already read Natalie Haynes's A Thousand Ships, but those of you who have not need to read it! This book tells the story of the aftermath of the Trojan War from the point of view of the women -- the wives, daughters, sisters, and goddesses. These are voices we're not used to hearing in the history or mythology of ancient Greece, and it's truly refreshing and illuminating to hear them now. There are parts that are heartbreaking, as you would expect, but also, surprisingly, parts that are funny. If, like me, you had to read The Odyssey at some point in your schooling, then you'll especially enjoy Penelope's letters to Odysseus. Rainbow is reading Greek myths in English class and learning about ancient Greece in history, so I've lent my copy (which I purchased from Blackwell's) to her teacher, knowing how much she'd enjoy it.

I knew that reading (or, in my case, listening to) A Promised Land was going to be a major commitment; the audio version is about 29 hours long! I figured, though, that listening was the way to go, and it proved to be the right decision. I listened at 1.25 speed, which helped, but having President Obama read his book to me was an immense pleasure, especially when he got into some of the nitty-gritty details of economic policy and other things I really have no interest in. The book was a reminder of what a thoughtful, caring, decent human being and leader he is, and it also made me sad to think about the backlash that followed his presidency. It's clear we still have a long way to go in our country, but it gives me hope that he still has hope for us.

I had one DNF this week: I tried to read Ebony and Ivy, but after making it into the second chapter and still finding myself hopelessly confused, I gave up. I might try it again some day, but I found it to be so poorly written that I didn't see it as a wise use of my time.

I'm currently reading something much more enjoyable. After listening to that interview with Barbara Kingsolver last week, I decided to borrow Unsheltered from the library. I know this is a book that a lot of people who normally like Kingsolver didn't like, but so far (two chapters in), I am enjoying it. At least it makes sense, which is something I can't say for the first book I tried to read this week!

Looking forward to hearing what you're working on and reading -- and if you have any suggestions for the yarn from the shawl I'm going to frog, let me know!