Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Unraveled, Week 26/2021

I'm glad I'm posting a little later today because in checking others' blogs I've been reminded that it's Wednesday and not Thursday, as I've been thinking for much of the morning. Wednesday means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers!

There still has not been much knitting around here, but yesterday I did finish spinning up my Bond/Suri alpaca singles, which I hope to at least start plying later today:

I've also been doing a lot of reading. I have finished four books in the past week and, amazingly, 16 during the month of June, and I'm hoping to finish one more before the end of the day. This week's reads were all solid 4-star books:

I'm pretty sure that I heard about Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America on the Novel Pairings podcast, and it was available without a wait at the library. This is a collection of essays (I think of them as mini memoirs) by a Black, gay Christian man in which he explores his identity along all those facets. He deals with some very heavy topics, and yet there is so much humor in his writing. I laughed often reading this collection, and I was frankly sorry when it was over (so I followed Thomas on Twitter to get more of his humor).

Bingo square: An LGBTQIA+ author

My mother had mentioned Nobody Will Tell You This But Me because she had heard about it through the Jewish book festival in Florida when they were there over the winter, and I'd been meaning to read it. I finally decided to borrow the audiobook and listened to it all in one day (it's only about four hours long, so don't be too impressed). This is a memoir of sorts; the author uses stories, emails, and voicemails from her late grandmother to paint a picture of a sassy, opinionated woman who was full of life and love for her granddaughter. I don't think you have to have or have had a Jewish grandmother to appreciate it, but it did make me think fondly of mine.
Bingo square: Borrowed

My tour of Maggie O'Farrell's back catalog continued with This Must Be the Place, which has cemented her as one of my favorite authors. I didn't love this with a passion like I did the previous two I read, but I very much enjoyed it. This novel has a really fascinating structure: It's told from multiple perspectives and in scenes at different points in time, and sometimes you see how certain plot lines and characters end up without knowing how they started. You do get a full picture by the time the book ends, but if you don't like that sort of uncertainty, this might not be the book for you.

Bingo square: Recommended by a friend (thanks, Juliann!)

Olympus, Texas is a new release and a very buzzy summer book that I've been hearing a lot about. It's the story of a very complicated family in a small town, and as you might guess from the title, it's inspired by mythology. I'm not usually interested in stories of dysfunctional families, particularly when everyone seems to be horrible in their own way, but this one drew me in rather than repelled me. You aren't beaten over the head with the mythology inspiration, but there are subtle clues here and there. And while nearly every character has their faults, they aren't blind to them. I think this one is worthy of all the buzz.

Bingo square: A family saga

The book I am hoping to finish today is The Autobiography of Malcolm X -- I have less than 120 pages to go, and I think if I can really set aside some time to do it, I can get through them. I also started listening to Americanah on audio this week and just passed the halfway mark. It's read by Adjoa Andoh, who you might recognize from Bridgerton, and she does an amazing job with all the accents. I also just got Hour of the Witch from the library this morning -- looks like July will be just as good a month for reading as June has been!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

I'm Totally Hooked

I told you all last week that there has been much crafting around here but not that much knitting, and that's a trend that is continuing this week. Spinning is still big, as it always is during Tour de Fleece time, but lately I've been all about the crochet. I just haven't been able to stop working on the C2C blanket for my nephew, and it's now past the halfway point:

I haven't been wanting to play yarn chicken, so I've been cutting each color when it just looks like I don't have enough for another row. That means I'll have some significant leftovers to deal with, but I took this photo with my feet in it so that you can get a sense of the size of this thing -- plenty big for a toddler! As you can see, I've started decreasing, and last night I was ready to join a new color but decided to pause to weave in ends. That's a task that's relatively easy with this crochet technique and with the nubby texture of the yarn, but I am doing it pretty thoroughly because I know this blanket will be treated roughly and washed frequently. I've got about five more ends to weave in and then I'll start crocheting again.

And the blanket is not the only crocheting I've been doing, either. Rainbow has wanted to learn to make amigurumi figures for a while, and we thought we'd get started this week so that we could conceivably do some in the car this weekend. She wants to make some animals for my nephew, and I have some books with some really cute patterns, but she needs to learn some basics first. Conveniently, I heard that Craftsy was running a special where you can get a year's premium membership (meaning access to all their classes) for $3, so I signed up, figuring that at the very least Rainbow could get some use out of some of the classes. We have started taking a class on crocheting amigurumi animals and are working on a bird:

We are doing this project mainly as practice, so Rainbow is focused on the technique more than the product, but I feel like this photo would make an excellent "got gauge?"-type meme. Granted, my yarn is a tad thinner than hers (DK versus worsted) and I'm using a slightly smaller hook, but both of these pieces are done to the same point in the pattern. She's definitely getting it, though, and that's what matters; we can make adjustments to get her gauge to tighten up a bit when we make some animals for real.

I am going to see if she'll consent to letting me go for my walk before it gets too much hotter (it's already 82F!), but I will be back tomorrow with a reading update. Stay cool out there, my friends!

Monday, June 28, 2021

Balance in 2021: June

Is it just me, or is it crazy that we're already just about halfway through this year? The passage of time is such a strange thing, especially since last year. The calendar tells me that it is, in fact, the last week of June, so it's time to check in on my One Little Word, with thanks to Carolyn for hosting us for the monthly link-up.

When I thought about Balance this month, I had one thing in mind:

I am usually terrible about taking time off from work. Part of this, I think, is because I already get off quite a few days anyway -- the federal holidays, plus Martin Luther King Jr. Day, plus a random day in March, plus at least a week at the end of the year. I take time off when I travel to fiber festivals and usually add an extra day or so to my winter break, but the only time I've ever used up all my time off when I had to on my maternity leave (and I had so much time stored up that I was off for 12 weeks and only one was unpaid time). My employer still breaks down time off into sick days (one day per month), personal days (two per year), and vacation days (I've been there long enough that I get 20 days a year). The personal days expire at the end of each fiscal year (the end of June), so I usually end up taking two random days off in June for no particular reason other than to use them. And in a typical year, I can only acquire vacation time until I've reached my maximum, so if I'm getting close, I have to use some of that time off before I can earn more. During the pandemic, however, that limit was temporarily lifted, I suppose because they wanted people to be able to feel they could take time off if they were sick or exposed. That cap is going back on at the end of the month, though, so my hand was forced and I found that I had to take six days off if I wanted to earn vacation time for this month.

Now, taking vacation time when you've been working from home doesn't feel very different or really much like a vacation. Other than not being tethered to my computer, my daily activities are very much the same. But it means that I can take a longer or more leisurely walk, that I can spend time going down crafty rabbit holes with Rainbow (we're working on crochet amigurumi animals this week), that I can stay up just a little later each night if I'm not ready to stop reading just yet. I am still checking my work email every couple of days, but I'm not responding to anything -- just seeing what's happening so I'm not completely stressed out when I'm officially back in the office. It's been wonderful. And it'll get even better, because this weekend we're going on our first trip since the last time we were in Florida in December 2019. We are just headed up to Michigan to visit my aunt and uncle and will spend all our time there at their house, but it's the first time we'll have seen them since December 2019 and the first time we've been to the state of Michigan since my brother graduated from college in 2010 (Rainbow was still a newborn!).

It's also time to update my 21 in 2021 list:

  1. Bake challah for shabbat DONE
  2. Run a 5K straight Walk the length of the UK - in progress
  3. Learn a new knitting technique DONE
  4. Sew a project bag DONE
  5. Knit a sweater out of handspun DONE
  6. Spin for a sweater - in progress
  7. Read a book outside my comfort zone DONE
  8. Try making pastry
  9. Knit or crochet a toy DONE
  10. Design a crochet pattern
  11. Read a biography/autobiography DONE
  12. Spin the oldest fiber in my stash DONE
  13. Knit five items for charity DONE
  14. Finish my WIPs from 2020 DONE
  15. Knit a sweater for Rainbow DONE
  16. Knit socks for my brother DONE
  17. Read a book of poetry DONE
  18. Read a book by a Native American/Indigenous author DONE
  19. Try three new meatless recipes DONE
  20. Go for at least three bike rides
  21. Read a book Rainbow reads for school DONE

I've crossed a few more things off my list: I learned a new knitting technique (ladderback jacquard floats for colorwork), finished the socks for my brother, and read a book by an Indigenous author. I have also officially changed item number 2 to be walking the length of the UK (1,083 miles) over the course of the year, and as of Saturday, I've walked a bit more than 752 miles and am averaging between 30 and 35 miles a week, so I am on track to hit that goal in the early fall. I'm fairly confident that I will be able to cross all the items off my list before the end of the year, which tells me that I've put together a good list, though maybe I didn't challenge myself quite enough if I'm not going to be working to finish this list until the end of the year. I guess that's something to carry into 2022!

Sunday, June 27, 2021

It's Quite a Pop

When I finished the third skein of mostly blue yarn for my sweater project, I knew that I needed to spin a contrast skein that would pop. And the thing about spinning is that even if you think you know what the finished yarn might look like based upon the appearance of the fiber, you're nearly always surprised, especially when the fiber is multiple colors. As the fiber is drafted, the colors blend and change. If you have a lot of white or undyed areas in your fiber, for instance, you often end up with muted or even pastel shades of the dyed colors. So I knew that the intense shades in this fiber probably would be toned down a bit:

I didn't mess with the colors at all in splitting up the fiber for a three-ply yarn. I just stretched the whole length out, folded it into thirds, and pulled it apart at the fold lines. Each section of fiber had a bit of all of the three main shades -- golden orange, dark purple, fuchsia -- represented, though not in the same spot. So there are spots in the plied yarn where all three plies are roughly the same, spots where two of the three are the same and one ply contrasts, and spots where all three plies are different.

Even though I was prepared for some shift in the colors, I did not expect all that orange to pretty much disappear and turn into gold and a orange-y pink. The purples got lighter, too, and the really dark purple is only still evident in the sections where it appears against two plies of gold.

After washing and drying, I've got about 358 yards. This is Rambouillet and poofed up quite a bit, so my skein shrank as it dried. I also have a teeny tiny skein (about 15 yards) of a two ply that was made from the singles that were left when two of my three bobbins ran out:

I don't know that I'll use it for anything, but I like using up every last bit of yarn or fiber when I can (it makes me feel strangely virtuous) and it's pleasing to squish.

Remember that other bag of fiber that I was considering? That is what's on my wheel now -- it's among the oldest SCF fiber in my stash, and I'm still on a mission to spin that all up. Though I could not find the other skein in my Ravelry notebook, I did remember that it was a semisolid coordinate for a multicolored club shipment, and this morning I found that skein in my stash.

The club colorway was called Get Happy, and there's the same reddish purple in it. So I thought I would spin the semisolid, Bougainvillea, to match. This actually makes for easy spinning because the yarn I'm trying to match is a two ply, so I'll just spin from one end to the other, wind the singles into a center-pull ball, and ply from both ends. If I do a good job of matching the first skein (which is approximately 416 yards), I will have enough for a sizeable shawl or perhaps even a short-sleeved sweater -- though I don't know how advisable the latter would be given that this is an alpaca blend. I don't have to decide that now, and this will be a good thing to spin while I await June's SCF club shipment, which is another blue that I may spin for my sweater.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Not Just Knitting

Despite what you might think based on the name of this here blog, I don't just knit. In fact, in a move that's most uncharacteristic for me, I haven't knit a stitch in at least a couple days! But that doesn't mean I haven't been crafting during my time off. I actually put off my usual Thursday post until today so I could share some craft-related acquisitions today.

You may remember that last summer Rainbow did a virtual learn-to-sew camp and had a great time. We looked into another session this summer, but the groups are very small and all the sessions filled up quickly. So we decided to do our own thing this summer. She has a friend who wants to learn to sew as well, so we're going to have her over next week and revisit some easier projects. We are also planning to sew ourselves some Pepin totes, after Juliann assured me that the pattern was easy enough for a beginning sewist. We have some scraps and fat quarters in the house already, but we really needed to make a trip to the fabric store to get all the needed materials, and yesterday we did just that. Here is what we came home with:

The pairing on the left is mine for my tote. The exterior fabric is a black washed denim and the interior fabric (which is hard to see, so I encourage you to click on the photo to embiggen it) is from Ruby Star Society and is knit and crochet themed. The pairing in the middle is Rainbow's choice for her tote, a navy canvas for the exterior and a floral quilting cotton for the interior. The final pairing is of two quilting cottons that Rainbow is going to use for a new pillow cover (the easiest project from last year's sewing camp that we're going to do with her friend). Not shown but also acquired in yesterday's trip are denim sewing needles for my machine, interfacing, and webbing for the tote bag straps.

I've also been doing a fair bit of crocheting on my nephew's blanket, and it has grown quite a bit since you last saw it:

I have been changing colors at the beginning of a row when it looks like I don't have enough left in a skein to do another row, and you can see how much thinner the stripes are getting. I think I have decided to alter my original plan just a bit. I am a still going to mirror the order of the colors, but rather than having one dark brown stripe in the middle, I am going to reserve that third skein of brown until the end and use it for a thin border around the whole blanket. I expect that when I get to the widest point of the blanket, one 84-yard skein of yarn isn't going to get me a very wide stripe, so I will use the two skeins of the final color back to back at the center. I have already woven in some ends and plan to continue doing so as I go, though it turns out that with this pattern and this yarn, weaving in ends is rather simple. And I'm keeping the leftovers close by as I finish each skein; I think they'll be great for making some dish/washcloths.

Finally, there is, of course, spinning, which I've being doing a lot of lately. The Tour de Fleece starts tomorrow, and it would be great if I could get the current spin off the wheel by then and start something new tomorrow, but that's unlikely. I've completed two bobbins of the current spin -- the Southern Cross Rambouillet (the purple and orange) that I posted on Sunday -- and have started the third, but even if I finish the third bobbin of singles today, I'd still need time to ply, and that isn't likely to happen until tomorrow at the very earliest.

I guess it wouldn't be all that bad to start out the Tour with a finished skein on the first day!

It's going to be a hot and humid and potentially stormy weekend here, so I expect I will spend most of it hiding in the air conditioning. I also expect that I will pick up some knitting again -- because you all know if I go too long without needles in my hands, something has to be seriously wrong! I hope that whatever you have planned for the weekend, it includes ample time for crafting, be it knitting or something else.

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?