Thursday, September 30, 2021

Three on Thursday: Looking Ahead to October

I can't believe it's the last day of September! Time seems to have gotten into some sort of weird warp this month, as it's simultaneously felt very long and also like it's flown by. I've already talked about it being a stressful month, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who is hoping that October will be calmer. So I'm linking up with Carole and friends today for Three on Thursday, this week with three things I'm looking forward to in the new month.

One of my two full drawers of hand-knit socks

1. Wearing my hand knits
I run cold most of the time, so I always look forward to the time of year when there's a chill in the air and it's reasonable to be wearing wool. My feet especially enjoy being covered in hand-knit socks. Our high temperatures are still running a little above normal these days, but it's starting to cool off enough that my feet are comfortable in wool again. This morning, it was 46F/8C when we got up! So socks will be in the regular rotation now, although sock washing is going to need to look a little different now that Rainbow has moved up into what was the stash room and I'll have to find another place to put my drying racks.

2. Designing more
It's been a pretty crummy year for me in terms of designing and creativity. Whereas in past years I've published roughly one pattern a month, I've only gotten four out so far this year, one of them a third-party pattern that I actually designed last year. I just haven't felt all that inspired. But lately I've gotten some new ideas that I want to swatch, and I feel like I might have a bunch of patterns ready to release in the last months of the year. Fingers crossed!

3. Rhinebeck!
Barring any last-minute changes, I will be on my way to Rhinebeck two weeks from today. I've already reserved the days off from work and purchased a festival shirt that I'll pick up at the fairgrounds. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about being around that many people, but I'm vaccinated, I have a stack of N95 masks to take, and I'm hoping that the safety measures the festival has put in place will be effective. My desire to go this year has less to do with buying stuff and more to do with seeing people, especially my dear friend Amy, whose booth I'll be working in. I have not seen her since December 2019 at the visitation for Scooterpie. This will be the first Rhinebeck without him there, and I can imagine it will be emotional, so while I'll be there to do the physical labor of setting up the booth and selling the yarn and fiber, I can imagine that much of the labor involved will be emotional. I know that many people who normally go to Rhinebeck will be skipping it this year, but if you do plan on being there and want to say hi, I'll post more specific details of where we'll be once I know them.

Is there anything special you're looking forward to in October? I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Unraveled, Week 39/2021

It's Wednesday again, the last one in September, which means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk making and reading!

After a couple of weeks where it seemed like nothing was getting done, I am back on track. I've been spinning and reading (that bobbin is filling up fast) and have pulled out my knitting again. I finished a sock to start the week, the first of the pair for my sister-in-law's Christmas gift this year:

I've decided to make the socks fraternal, though I'll be casting on the second sock so that the stripes will line up even if they don't match.

I've also made some noticeable progress on my handspun Shifty -- that progress keeper shows where I was Sunday night:

I got quite a few rounds knit on this yesterday while sitting through a work presentation that I'd been invited to and that turned out to be completely worthless to me (I had my camera off and my microphone muted the whole time, so it was easy to knit while I was listening in). I'm just a few rounds away from the final yoke increase round, and I think at that point I will put some of the stitches on another long circular needle so that I can check the fit. It's pretty much perfect right now, so my fingers are crossed that it stays that way.

My reading pace has picked up a bit, and I've finished two books in the past week:

I can now say that I'm a Claire Fuller completist, having finished Bitter Orange over the weekend. I can also say that it's probably a good thing for me that, having decided to read her entire back catalog, she's only published four books so far. She's a talented writer, and she kept me guessing to the end of this one, but it was a very unsettling read. It's creepy and strange and has me worried a bit about what is going on in the author's head that she keeps writing these troubling books. I appreciated what she did in this book and how she structured it so that you get little clues along the way that lead you to think you know what's going to happen (but you'd be wrong), but I can't say I truly enjoyed it -- I was really only compelled to finish it so that I could find out what happened. I gave it 3 stars.

Bewilderment just came out last week and I was really surprised to get the audio version from my library as quickly as I did. If you loved The Overstory as much as I did, then I think you will love this book as well. Although the novels are very different, they both have at their core a message of the urgency of environmentalism. This newest release is the story of Theo, an astrobiologist who is recently widowed, and his young son, Robin, who might best be described as neurodivergent and with some troubling behavioral problems. As part of an effort to solve those problems, Theo enrolls Robin in an experimental cognitive feedback therapy being trialed by a scientist who earlier ran a study in which Theo and his late wife were subjects. Ultimately, using data from Robin's mother in his therapy is what makes a difference to him -- but his ability to continue the therapy is put in jeopardy by a turbulent political situation that will seem very familiar to you (it's very reminiscent of the previous administration), and all of this is against the backdrop of climate change that is growing increasingly dire in its consequences and effects. Really, it's a remarkable book that is grand and sweeping in its scope -- there is so much in this relatively short book that I think I'm going to need to buy a copy to reread more slowly -- but at its heart is a truly touching and emotional story of a father and son wrecked by the loss of their wife and mother and trying to navigate a world that seems to be falling apart at the seams. I gave it 5 stars and highly recommend it!

I am still reading Jane Eyre but finally decided that in order to make progress on it, I needed to change up my mode of reading, so I've borrowed a digital copy from the library so I can read while knitting or spinning (and the print is a lot easier to read on the screen than in my little paperback). I'd love to be able to finish it up by the end of the month, and if work cooperates, that's an entirely reasonable goal.

So, what are you making and reading this week? Have you read either of the two books I've just finished? If so, what did you think?

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Balance in 2021: September

Like many of you, I am finding it hard to believe that it's the last week of September already; it seems to have flown by -- and, at the same time, seems to have been a very long month. Thanks, as always, to Carolyn for hosting our once-a-month link-ups on our words.

It has definitely been a challenging month for me as far as Balance is concerned. The Jewish High Holy Days fell on weekdays this month, which meant I took the days off from work and then was constantly confused about what day it was. Work also ramped up a lot, leaving me scrambling to get things done and leaving not much room for the pastimes that usually help me to relieve stress. And I had additional synagogue board demands on my time that were a frustration, as it's become increasingly clear to me that most of the other people who are involved either don't work (either because they're retired or don't need to) or have much more flexible schedules than I. Suffice it to say that much of this month has been stressful, and at times it's been a struggle to maintain the balance between work and life, between obligation and choice.

I know that many people have been eager to return to in-person work because they find that it's difficult to maintain the boundaries between home office and home; there was a time when I thought that would be the case for me. After all, when the only difference between working and not working from home is whether or not you're logged in to your email and you don't actually have to leave an office to go home, it can be very easy to let work time bleed into home time. But I really focused this month on maintaining that division. I may have stayed "on the clock" a few minutes past 5 on a few occasions, but for the most part, I logged off when the end of the work day arrived. I also made sure to get my walk in every day, because I know that not only am I given a lunch break every day but the exercise is also helpful in keeping my stress levels under control. It did seem for a while that there was no end in sight with the work that was coming in, but I kept reminding myself that in reality it could not go on forever, and indeed there was a break. This is very much the nature of my job -- it tends to go in waves. So I've ridden this wave and made it safely back to prepare for the next one.

My 21 in 2021 list is winding down, with one big item crossed off this month:

  1. Bake challah for shabbat DONE
  2. Run a 5K straight Walk the length of the UK DONE
  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 - DONE
  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 - one complete
  21. Read a book Rainbow reads for school DONE

In the first week of the month, I surpassed the number of miles walked equivalent to the length of the UK. As of this past Saturday, I've now walked nearly 1,213 miles this year. I may continue to track my miles, just to see how many I walk over the course of the entire year, but it feels good to have met that big number.

I've also completed one of my three bike rides and hope to do the other two in the next month or so. That leaves just making pastry (which I'm determined to do in the next month!) and designing a crochet pattern. I didn't specify that I had to publish that pattern, just come up with something without using someone else's instructions. I may count my pierogi from earlier in the year for that one and make another amigurumi toy for my nephew, and that would take care of the two crochet items on the list. It feels good to be almost done with three months still to go in the year!

I look forward to hearing how your One Little Word has shown up in the past month, and I'll be back tomorrow with a reading and crafting update!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Fall Perfection

We have been so lucky this weekend, and I'll include Friday in that. We have had just the most spectacular fall weather -- low humidity, clear blue skies, warm sun. It's reached a high around 70 all three days but has been in the low 50s each morning when we've gotten up. I'm not sure how it always seems to happen, but we almost always seem to have this perfect weather for the Great Race, which we ran this morning -- yes, I did say ran! I didn't run all of it, but I spent more of the 3.1 miles running than walking, which really isn't bad considering that I hadn't run more than a block or so in about a year. I was able to run without stopping for the first mile (which is mostly downhill) at a pace of 8:30, which is about where I was last year. So my legs are still in good shape, even if my lungs are a bit out of practice. And other than some (totally understandable) tightness in my hips and legs, I had no ill effects, namely no hip pain. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow, but at least this opens up the possibility of starting to run a bit again.

I certainly didn't break any speed records, but I did finish under 30 minutes, which was a goal I'd set for myself. Those breaks where I walked also allowed me to really enjoy the surroundings and the view along the Monongahela River. And everyone (the Mister, Rainbow, and my parents) was there to cheer me on at the end. They had ended up parking at my father's office building, so on the walk back there to get the car, we paused to take a photo with Mayor Caliguiri outside the City-County Building:

If you're not from Pittsburgh (and also older than a certain age), the name will mean nothing to you, so let me explain: The official name of the race is the Richard S. Caliguiri (that's pronounced like "cal-uh-JURE-y") City of Pittsburgh Great Race. He was our mayor from 1977 until his death from amyloidosis in 1988. This statue of him was unveiled two years later. I don't remember when the race was renamed in his honor, but it's been held almost every year since his first year in office, and a dollar from every registration goes toward the Richard S. Caliguiri Amyloidosis Fund at the Pittsburgh Foundation. This morning at the starting line of the 5K, they announced that this year the funds raised from the race over the years would surpass $1 million. Pretty amazing, right? Last year's race was all virtual -- you could run your own personal 5K or 10K and submit your time, and they'd mail you your race shirt and finisher medal. This year there were definitely fewer participants (a little less than 1,500 for the 5K compared to more than 2,500 in 2019), but it was really good to be out there again with other people, who always spur me to run a little harder. I even ran next to a woman running with her dog for a while!

But enough about running -- let's get to the fiber talk! I've managed to spin a little bit every day for most of the past week, and the bobbin is filling up nicely!

I have 10 little balls of fiber left in my first bag, and I'm starting to doubt whether I'll be able to fit them all onto a bobbin. If not, then whatever is left will be set aside (and I'll do the same with the other two bags of fiber) so that I can spin a fourth bobbin of singles. All that will mean is a bit more trouble in the plying, as I'll have to switch up which three bobbins I am plying from periodically, but it's not a bit deal. I know these bobbins do hold a lot, and I can over fill them a bit, so I'll just keep spinning and see how it plays out. I'm not terribly concerned, especially as I've been really enjoying the spinning. After the stress of this month, it's been very meditative to sit down with the fiber and treadle the familiar rhythm. Perhaps this week ahead will see the first bobbin filled.

I hope you've been enjoying a beautiful weekend wherever you may be!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Three Reasons for Excitement

It's Friday-eve, so I'm linking up with Carole and friends for Three on Thursday, this week with three things that I'm excited about right now!

1. Fall weather has arrived! We had a front move through yesterday that brought rain (and even, at one point, a tornado watch), and it left some decidedly cooler weather in its wake. Right now it's 57 F (that's about 14 C), and that looks to be the highest we'll get today. It will warm up a little in the next couple of days, but not a whole lot, and I am excited to get out my lighter sweaters and hand-knit socks!

2. Tonight is Curriculum Night at Rainbow's school. You might know this as parent/teacher night or back to school night; basically it's the evening at the beginning of the school year when the parents go to meet their child's teachers and hear about what they'll be covering in class that year. I'm really excited to go because I only know one of her teachers this year (and it's because she used to babysit me when I was about Rainbow's age and the teacher was in grad school). We also haven't been able to go in for this kind of thing since fall 2019, when she was still in the elementary school building, so things are bound to be different!

3. This weekend is the Great Race. It's a local event that the Mister and I have been doing together for years (we do the 5K), although in past years I've run it and I'm planning to walk this year. Last year it wasn't held at all, though you could still sign up and do it virtually (i.e., run on your own and submit your time online), which we did, though it certainly didn't have the same feel to it. One of the things I love best about this race is that you get views of the city you'd never otherwise get on foot. It would have been nice to run it, but I'm not going to push myself because I haven't been training and am not sure how my hip would take it, but since I've been regularly walking 5+ miles a day, I figure I can put on the gas a bit for a measly 3.1 miles.

I hope you have some things to be excited about this weekend, and I'll catch you back here on Sunday!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Unraveled, Week 38/2021

It appears in publicly rejoicing in getting caught up at work, I jinxed myself. I was thinking about how I wanted to spend my day while I was out on my walk yesterday, assuming it would be another quiet one, and I came home to discover a giant project had landed in my inbox while I was out. So I'm not saying anything the next time I get caught up, and I'm quickly posting this to join with Kat and the Unravelers today.

Very little knitting happened yesterday, but I did manage to finish my hat last night:

Obviously it very badly needs to be blocked so that it looks more like a hat and less like a deflated hot air balloon, but it's done and another ~180 yards are used up from my stash.

Reading has picked up just a little bit, I think mainly because I've been reading some library books that have been faster to get through. I finished two in the past week:

I've been working my way through Claire Fuller's back list, and my penultimate read was Swimming Lessons. I enjoyed her writing and the fact that part of the story is told through letters that have been placed in books (and the fact that the book each letter is placed in is noted and seems to be related to the content of each letter). But I found the story a little hard to follow and felt that the ending was a bit too ambiguous for me. I think that seems to be a common thing for Fuller, and while in the case of Unsettled Ground it felt appropriate, here it was just frustrating to me. I gave it 3 stars.

Shortly after I finished Swimming Lessons, I was surprised to get A Town Called Solace from my library holds a couple of weeks earlier than I was expecting it. It was on the Booker Prize long list and had a bit of a wait, but I was delighted to get it just when I was ready for a new book. This one is set in a tiny northern Ontario town in the mid-1970s and is told from the point of view of three people whose lives are interconnected, a 7-year-old girl whose teenage sister has gone missing, a 70-something-year-old woman who lives next door and is dying, and a mid-30s man going through a divorce who has inherited the woman's house and has a strange connection to her from earlier in their lives. The story is emotional but beautiful and well told. I gave it 4 stars.

I am hoping to be able to get through the new pile of work in a reasonable amount of time so that I can start a new library book (likely the last Claire Fuller novel I have left to read, Bitter Orange) and get back to my crafting. Today, in addition to bringing the arrival of fall, my favorite season, is also the Mister's birthday, so we'll be having a celebratory dinner tonight with my brother- and sister-in-law and nephew.

Seeing as I'll be otherwise occupied today, I'd love to hear what you're reading and crafting so I can live vicariously through you!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

A Moment of Calm, at Last

Good morning, friends. I am happy to report that after several weeks, I finally caught up at work yesterday. Things could get busy again at any moment, but at least for several hours, it was quiet and I could read and spin and knit for a bit. I am hoping it stays quiet this week.

We had a beautiful weekend here, and I tried to spend as much of it as I could outside. We even had dinner outside three evenings in a row (and it seems that the mosquitos enjoyed a dinner of my ankles as well). That means that there wasn't quite as much knitting, but as we're supposed to get a front coming through tomorrow bringing lots of rain and much cooler temperatures, the time to stay holed up with my knitting is coming.

I know that I really should be working on my Shifty pullover, but instead I cast on a new project -- at least it's a small one! I'd like to knit up a couple of charity hats before the end of the month, and I still had my leftovers from my Radiate sweater -- including an entire skein of the darkest color of the blue gradient -- in a bag next to by bed, so I decided to use some of them up in the first hat. The deep ribbing took a while, but I've already started the crown decreases and will likely finish the hat by the end of the day.

I'm using my Emblematic pattern (Ravelry link | Payhip link), which I have not knit since I completed the initial samples, and it's been fun to revisit it.

I have also made some progress on my sister-in-law's socks and am approaching the toe on the first of the pair:

As I get closer to finishing this first sock, I'm already having an internal debate about whether or not I want to make the second to match or just have the stripes line up even if they don't match in color. Input is welcome!

Before I go, I have to tell you about how I spent the last hour of my work day yesterday. I have long wanted to go to our local speaker series that features noted authors, but previously they were in person, usually on a weekday evening, making it very difficult for me to swing. This year, however, the series is online, with a possible option to switch to in person in the new year if circumstances allow, but the online option will remain. There's a speaker each month, and the series sends out a link to an unlisted YouTube video of the event that you can view for up to a week afterward. Yesterday it kicked off with Brit Bennett, who was amazing! It was such a treat to listen to her talk about her process of writing The Vanishing Half as well as how she's grown as a writer from her first book to her second. I can't wait for the rest of the series, either -- the only writer I'm not familiar with/haven't read anything by is Lawrence Wright, and it's very possible that I'll want to after hearing him speak. I am really happy with my decision to buy a ticket to this series, even though it felt like a bit of a splurge at the time. I figure that it works out to less than what I'd pay for a book by each author and much less than what I've likely saved by reading their books from the library instead of buying them. And haven't we learned from the past 18 months that we have to savor what life offers us any time we can?

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Not for Lack of Wanting

Although I had hoped to get a lot of spinning done over the past week, it was yet another crazy week in terms of work. I certainly could have used the stress relief of spinning, and I kept wanting to do it, so my lack of progress is only because I just haven't had the time. Maybe this week will be better? I've gotten through a couple more bundles of fiber, and the amount of singles on the bobbin has grown.

My August club shipment showed up this week, and in an interesting twist, it would have been perfect for this spin:

The colorway is called Gran Cenote (after the place of the same name in Mexico), and it's on Falkland fiber. At least it's in my comfort zone, even if I can't use it for my current combo spin!

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Unraveled, Week 37/2021

Wednesday already? It's been quite a week, and frankly I am ready for things to calm down. I have a fairly short post to join up with Kat and the Unravelers this week because sadly there hasn't been much crafting or reading. I sent off a 46-page document at the end of the workday yesterday, and I'm hoping for a bit of calm today -- and I hope I haven't just jinxed myself!

I only managed to squeeze in about 35 minutes of knitting time on my Shifty last night, so it doesn't look much different from yesterday. I did, however, make some very good progress on the sock during last night's Read With Us Zoom -- the heel and gusset are complete!

(Don't worry; the socks will be washed before they're given to their recipient!)

Reading has been slow for obvious reasons, and I've finished only one book in the last week. Luckily it was a good one!

I'd had The Jane Austen Society tagged "to read" on Libby for several months, and I didn't hesitate to borrow it over the weekend when I was looking for a new audiobook to listen to while walking and cleaning and saw that there was no wait. The audio is read by Richard Armitage, and he does a wonderful job of doing different voices and accents of all the characters, which was a big help for me in keeping the many people straight. If you love Jane Austen and haven't read this yet, I highly recommend it -- it's pure delight! I gave it 4 stars.

I am still reading Jane Eyre and I also started (but didn't get very far along in) Claire Fuller's Swimming Lessons -- I am trying to be a Claire Fuller completist this year! If work doesn't get in the way, I'll be reading that today.

I will likely take tomorrow off from the blog, as it's Yom Kippur and I'll be fasting (which means I probably won't be too coherent). I still want to hear what you're working on and reading this week, though!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Keeping Me from My Knitting

Good morning! It's shaping up to be another busy work week, with yet another big and urgent work project keeping me away from my knitting time (don't you hate when that happens?). I thought I would get a bunch done over the weekend, but we ended up spending a lot of time outside because the weather was so spectacular. I know these days are limited, so I'm trying to enjoy then while we can. On Saturday afternoon, we finally convinced Rainbow to go for a bike ride -- a shortish one. We did a trail along Pittsburgh's North Shore, along the Allegheny River to the Point and a little farther past that by the stadiums and the Carnegie Science Center. She's usually the one to complain when we ride, but she was all smiles this time:

Because of the aforementioned work, I haven't gotten much knitting done, but I have managed to put in some rounds on a sock (something I can do a little of while reading for work) and have gotten to the heel flap:

I really like these colors!

What I most want to work on right now, though, is my Shifty pullover, which I did finally cast on last week after dithering about the needle size for several days. I ultimately decided to go with the larger needle size and the smaller size in the pattern to account for the difference in gauge. I haven't gotten very far with it (mainly because I haven't had too much time to work on it), but I have at least finished the tedious 1x1 rib of the collar and the short rows to raise the back of the neck, which were a bit more complicated because they also involved joining the second color. It was a bit like wrangling and octopus there for a bit, with two strands of yarn and two sets of needles, but I did it, and now I am working in the round and it's going much faster.

I'm hoping I can finish up this work project today and have more time to work on it so that I can make some visible progress. I've tentatively calling this my Rhinebeck sweater, both because I'm not sure if I can finish it in a month or so and because whether or not Rhinebeck happens still feels like it's up in the air, but I'm going to do my best to finish it by then regardless.

I hope to see some of you on tonight's Read With Us Zoom, and I'll be back tomorrow!

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Mixing Things Up

I had so much fun spinning for my Shifty that I've decided to do it again and clear out some of my older Southern Cross Fibre club shipments at the same time. This time around, I'm mixing them up in a combo spin. Remember the five bags of green-heavy fiber I showed you last week? On Friday afternoon, when I finally caught up with work and found myself with a little downtime, I pulled them all out and split up each colorway into 12 smaller bundles (I divided the fiber into thirds by width and then split each third into quarters by length).

Why 12 of each? Well, I'm trying to get all the singles onto three bobbins, and the math worked out easiest to have 20 little bundles of fiber for each bobbin. In other words, math. I mixed up all the bundles so that I had three piles, with four bundles of each colorway in each pile. The colorways and fiber bases here are (clockwise from top left) Allium on Rambouillet from September 2016, Verdant on Falkland from October 2020, Star Trails on New Zealand Corriedale from September 2018, Grazing on Bond from January of this year, and Dewfall on Falkland from July of 2019.

I've got them all in bags and have started spinning up the first bobbin. The only color management I'm doing is making sure that I don't spin two bundles of the same colorway in a row. I want the color order to be as random as possible so that the five colorways are well and truly mixed up in the finished yarn, and my hope is that all of the yarn comes out more or less greenish, with the blue and brown and cream serving to give some dimension to all the greens. I haven't gotten very far in my spinning (I only just started on Friday, and yesterday I spent most of the day outside, enjoying the absolutely perfect weather), but I am enjoying it. One really nice thing about splitting up the fiber like this is that it feels so easy to sit down and spin up a bundle or two without it feeling like a really big project.

I did have to do a little bit of spinning wheel maintenance when I started this, which you can see blurred in the background. After replacing the elastic that connects the brake band to the wheel several times, I finally had to replace the band itself because the bit of string that was left was no longer long enough -- I'd had to cut it every time I replaced the elastic. On the plus side, the pink Knit Picks Dishie that I used for the replacement is much more cheerful that the boring old white of the original, and I made it extra long so that I don't have to go through that whole process again anytime soon.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Thursday Funnies

Just a quick post from me today -- I'm joining up with Carole and friends for Three on Thursday with three images that made me laugh. I hope they give you a chuckle as well!

1. I passed these mops leaning against a building to dry on my walk over the weekend and thought they looked like angry faces. When I passed them again, I noticed the sign behind them and had to snap a photo -- they're mop bouncers!

2. Rainbow has been asking for honeydew all summer, but for some reason they've been really hard to find. Finally, on Sunday, the Mister found one, and you might say it's big enough to make up for not having found one earlier in the summer. I was joking with Rainbow as I was about to cut it up that it was as big as a baby, and she snapped this photo of me hamming it up with the melon:

(In case you were wondering, it was bigger than my largest knife and, even after giving Rainbow a big bowl of melon chunks to eat right away, what I cut up filled up three takeout food containers. We only just used up the first one this morning!)

3. I was taking an online survey earlier this week, and it asked me which Pennsylvania metro area I lived in. See if you can find what made me laugh out loud (and here's your reminder that spell check isn't always useful):

I hope you find many reasons to laugh today!

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Unraveled, Week 36/2021

I have to say that I rather like having the start of the work week be a Wednesday! We are expecting some rain to move in later this morning, so I'm keeping this short so I can get out for my walk before then, but I can't let a Wednesday go by without checking in with Kat and the Unravelers.

I actually don't have much to share this week because with a busy work week last week and the holidays this week, I haven't done much crafting or reading. I'm also holding off on starting any new projects until the Pigskin Party starts tomorrow (because WIPs don't count), but I also didn't like the idea of my hands being idle until then, so I started a dishcloth -- just a variation on the old standby Ballband Dishcloth:

The multicolored yarn is Knit Picks Dishie and the dark blue is Lily Sugar'n Cream Denim. I expect I'll be able to finish this up at some point today, because it's mindless enough knitting that I can work on it while reading stuff for work.

Yesterday I also finished (and blocked) my Shifty swatch, and now I have a bit of a conundrum that I hope you all can help me with!

This swatch was done on US 3/3.25 mm needles (bottom) and US 2/2.75 mm needles (top). My stitch gauge is spot on with the smaller of the two needles and about a stitch and a half off with the larger size. Here is my conundrum: My bust size falls between two sizes in the pattern (34 and 38 inches), and the recommended ease is 2 inches of negative ease to 2 inches of positive ease. I'd prefer to have a little bit of positive ease because I always wear my sweaters with a shirt underneath them. If I go with the US 2, the smaller size would give me 1 inch of negative ease but the larger size would give me 3 inches of positive ease. If I go with with the US 3, I could knit the smaller size and end up with almost 2 inches of positive ease, but the fabric is also a little looser. Then there's a third possibility -- use a US 2.5/3.0 mm needle -- that would give me a fabric somewhere in between and I could knit the smaller size and likely end up with closer to zero ease or minimal positive ease. What do you think?

I haven't done very much reading since last Wednesday, in large part because work got very busy, so I've only finished one book -- but it was a good one!

Both Mary and Katie had raved about A Tale for the Time Being, so I was excited to read it when my hold from the library came up several weeks earlier than I was expecting it. It took me several chapters to get into it, but once I did, I was hooked. This was one of those books that I found myself thinking about any time I wasn't reading it, and I found it to be so delightfully original in how it approached the story. It's not a book that's easy to describe, but I will say that what I found most interesting was that the author was a main character in it, even though it's considered fiction. That had me wondering often what was real, if any of it was, and what was made up. I can definitely see myself rereading this at some point, because I'm sure I missed things in my excitement to see how it would end. I gave it 5 stars.

Currently I am rereading Jane Eyre, which I have read many times and which I reread every several years (it's one of my all-time favorites). It is the classic that Sara and Chelsey are discussing this month on the Novel Pairings podcast. The copy I've linked to here is the paperback I used when I read it the first time, for my eighth-grade English class, and the price listed on it is $2.95! I've also started listening to the Craftlit podcast again after a long hiatus, and the new book The Leavenworth Case, which is entirely new to me.

What are you crafting and reading these days?

Tuesday, September 07, 2021


Good morning! I am writing a bit later than usual today because it's still kind of the weekend for me -- we were all off yesterday for Labor Day, and we're off again today for Rosh Hashanah. If you're wondering the significance of the big number in the title, that is what year we've just begun in the Jewish calendar (yes, we've been counting for a long time!). We started the holiday last night (all Jewish holidays begin at sundown, as that's considered the start of the day) with a big family dinner, the first one we've been able to have since 2019. It was all of my family -- the three of us, my parents, and my brother and sister-in-law -- plus the Mister's brother and sister-in-law and our nephew, his parents, my brother's in-laws, and my uncle as well as the Mister's cousin, who just started a master's program here and decided not to go home for the holiday because she didn't want to miss classes so soon after starting. In addition to celebrating the holiday, we were also celebrating my sister-in-law's birthday (which was actually yesterday) and my brother-in-law's birthday (this Thursday), so we had a birthday cake in addition to the traditional apple cake.

And because it was her birthday, I could give her the socks I've been working on -- even right in front of her!

You've seen these quite a few times because I've been working on them since last month, but that second sock got knit very quickly in order to have them done by yesterday. I finished them Sunday morning during my weekly knitting Zoom and blocked them that evening. These are essentially my Piccoletti (Ravelry link) pattern on the feet and a plain stockinette leg. The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in one of Lisa's one-of-a-kind Serendipitous Stripes colorway. Because of the long stripe repeat, I didn't try to get them to match, but I'm pretty tickled that they coordinate quite well, especially with that little bit of color at the very tip of the toes. And my sister-in-law was thrilled with them, so that's all I really care about!

Yesterday was a pretty low-key day. The Mister went on a long (40+ miles!) bike ride in the morning, so Rainbow and I went to the craft store to pick up some supplies to make her a soft ottoman for the "reading nook" in her new room -- yes, I bought entirely synthetic super-bulky chenille-typle yarn! We then sat down to watch an episode of a Disney+ series that is based on a series of book she's been reading and do some crafting, and I finally finished that big charity hat.

I made it large enough so that when one end is pushed inside the other, the brim can be folded up as you can see on the right. It's a bit large on me, so it will likely have to go to an adult with a large head, but I'm going to stretch it out vertically when I wash/block it in the hopes that it'll make it slightly narrower. I'd been keeping track of the weight of all the scraps I've been using and weighed what was left when I finished to determine how much I used. Would you believe I used up almost 800 yards of fingering weight scraps in this one project? I was pretty shocked when I saw the final number.

Today will be another fairly calm day. Our synagogue decided to make vaccination mandatory for those attending in-person services, so the Mister went on his own and Rainbow and I are watching the service online. As nice it as it can be to be there in person and wish everyone a happy new year, it's really not safe to be with a large gathering of people yet, particularly as Rainbow won't be vaccinated for another four months. And I have to say that neither of us much minds attending services in comfy clothes! It's going to be a beautiful day, so I'll be going for a long walk this afternoon, and then we'll go back to my parents' this evening to eat leftovers from last night's dinner.

I hope you all had an enjoyable and relaxing long weekend, and if you are celebrating the new year, Shanah Tovah!

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Do It Twice

If there was a theme for my most recent spinning project, it was "do it twice." Of course, I'd anticipated some of that because I started out with two bags of the same fiber, New Zealand Merino from Southern Cross Fibre in the colorway Yesterday's Love. What I didn't anticipate was that, in addition to spinning the two bobbins of singles to start, I'd also end up plying the yarn twice.

I wanted to have just one skein of yarn after I plied, and so in order to accommodate that much yarn (I'd started with at least 220 g/close to 8 oz. of fiber), I needed to use my Hansen miniSpinner to ply because its bobbins have the largest capacity of any of my wheels. In the past, my miniSpinner was my go-to wheel, but I hadn't used it in some time and was clearly out of practice. Unlike with a treadle wheel, where you have a sense of how much twist is being put into yarn because you're physically adding it by moving the wheel through your treadling, with an espinner you have to rely on how the yarn looks. And looks can be deceiving when it comes to ply twist, because not only do you lose a little bit as the yarn gets wound onto the bobbin, but washing the finished yarn reawakens the twist put into the singles (which is in in the opposite direction of the ply twist) and counteracts the ply twist. That's a long-winded and somewhat technical way of saying that I wasn't getting a good idea of how much ply twist I was putting into the yarn and it wound up being too little for my taste, though I didn't know that for sure until after I'd skeined and washed the yarn. Here is what it looked like at that point (apologies for the glare -- there wasn't good lighting to be had when I took this photo):

Notice how the yarn looks like of scraggly? That means there isn't enough ply twist, at least in my opinion. Fortunately, it's an easy enough problem to solve, provided you're willing to invest a bit more time. Once the yarn was dry, I put it on my swift and wound it into a center-pull ball. Then I ran it back through the miniSpinner to add more ply twist (which is much faster the second time around, and with an espinner means just sitting and holding the ball of yarn) and skeined and washed it again. Much better!

Can you see how the yarn looks like a cohesive unit now, rather than just some strands lying side by side? I'm much happier with it now. Here is a look at the entire skein:

After plying the second time, the finished yarn is sport weight and approximately 580-ish yards/530-ish meters. It was also my last official project for Stash Dash, which I was really only doing on my own (the KnitGirllls moved all the discussion for the event from Ravelry to Discord, and though I signed up there, I didn't really have the mental energy to keep up with the discussion). I tracked my meters through an Excel spreadsheet I kept on my desktop and updated as I finished a project. Handspun meters for this event are counted based on the number of times the yarn goes through your hands, so you get credit for the length of the singles and well as the plying. Because this is a four-ply (sort of) yarn, that means I got to calculate the Stash Dash total for this skein by multiplying the final length times five -- and that means that this skein alone contributed 2,647.5 meters to my total. When Stash Dash officially ended on August 31, my final total for the entire event was close to 18,050 meters. Not bad at all!

Let's take a look at where things stand on my effort to spin down my SCF club stash. Here's the photo I took at the beginning of the year of what I had (and note that this does not include club fiber that has come in since, though I've already spun much of that), along with what I have already spun checked off:

I've made a dent, but there's still a lot to be spun, and I still have another bag coming in each month. I so enjoyed my Shifty sweater spin that I'm contemplating spinning up another sweater's quantity in club fiber, though this time I think I'd do another combo spin. I pulled out several bags that are all predominantly green, with some hints of yellow, blue, and brown, that I thing would go well together:

I think what I'd do with these is split them up into little bits and mix them up to spin the singles, similar with what I did for the yarn I used in my Ramona Cardigan. There's less variation in color in these fiber selections, though, so I think if I mixed them up well, I'd end up with yarn that reads green overall. I was thinking that such a yarn, assuming I could spin enough, would be great for my planned Garland (Ravelry link) sweater for use as the main color, and I could use a contrasting color or even an undyed yarn for the colorwork. Looking at the photo of all the club shipments, I also see quite a few in the red/pink family that look like they'd work well together, so perhaps I could spin those for Rainbow's Little Garland? I'm excited about the possibility of using up a lot of fiber in one spinning project, but I won't be getting started just yet -- my first priority is finally finishing my swatch for my Shifty so that I verify my needle size and get going on that sweater. One handspun sweater at a time!

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Three Reasons to Celebrate

Just a quick post from me today because I'm slammed with work, but it's conveniently Thursday, so I'm joining up with Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Today, I've got three reasons to celebrate in the next several days.

1. It's our anniversary today!

Us under the chuppah

The Mister and I are celebrating 14 years of marriage today, which feels like a lot. It's not an especially important number of years and it's a workday, so we're not doing much. We exchanged cards this morning, and I'll make us a good dinner tonight. We didn't get each other gifts but instead decided that we're going to get some new linens for our bed (are we exciting or what?).

2. We have a long weekend ahead of us!
My office is "closing" at 2 p.m. tomorrow ahead of the holiday weekend, and we'll all be off on Monday for Labor Day. Which leads me to ...

3. It's an extra-long holiday weekend.
In addition to being Labor Day, Monday is also my sister-in-law's birthday and, at sundown, is the start of Rosh Hashanah, so we will be having a big family dinner to celebrate all of the above. As if that wasn't enough, my brother and sister-in-law are also moving into their new house tomorrow, so we'll be bringing dinner to them tomorrow evening and probably helping them to get settled in over the next few days.

I hope that whatever you have planned for the weekend ahead, you can find at least one reason to celebrate, if not three!


Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Unraveled, Week 35/2021

It is a gloomy, very wet Wednesday here in Western Pennsylvania, where the remnants of Ida are moving through and causing a lot of flash flooding. I am extremely thankful to be working from home today, because I know I would have arrived at the office completely soaked through if I'd had to go in today.

A wet and dreary day is a perfect day for knitting and curling up with a good book, so it's very appropriate that I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers for my weekly crafting and reading check-in.

A lot of the past week has been spent trying to finish that one last spinning project for Stash Dash (it's done and it was sort of an ordeal -- I'll share more this Sunday), so there hasn't been a ton of knitting.
But I did finish the first of the socks for my sister-in-law and am cruising down the leg of sock number two, so I'm pretty confident I can finish the pair in time for her birthday. I also put in some time on my scrappy double-layer charity hat, which has eaten up nearly all of the original scraps I selected and has forced me to unearth some more.

Can you tell by the glow of the lamp how dark it is outside?

If I haven't been all that prolific in my crafting life this past week, I've more than made up for it with my reading. I finished another five books this past week:

Of the five books I finished, I think The Summer Book was my least favorite. I picked it up because Sara and Chelsey of Novel Pairings made it sound so good and at least a couple of you have read and enjoyed it, but I'm sorry to say I didn't like it much. It felt disjointed and disorganized to me. I know it's meant to be a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive narrative, but I honestly felt like some important background information had been left out and I never got a sense that I fully understood the situation or the characters. It was a quick read, though, and it's not that I hated it -- I was just unimpressed. I gave it 2 stars.

Bingo square: Modern classic

Mary recommended Interpreter of Maladies to me for the square I put it in, and while the fit for that square might be a little bit of a stretch, the recommendation was spot on. This is a collection of short stories that all have some connection to immigrants from India/Pakistan. The stories explore national identity and the meaning of home as a concept, and they're all gorgeously written. What usually bothers me most of about short stories is that they often feel incomplete, but every single one in this connection felt satisfyingly whole to me. I'll definitely be reading more by this author in the future! I gave it 4 stars (maybe 4.5).

Bingo square: About travel

When I was in need of a new audiobook to listen to on my walks, I conveniently found that The English Patient was available with no wait and fit neatly into one of my squares. I'd enjoyed Michael Ondaatje's writing previously and remembered liking the movie inspired by the novel (though the specifics and plot were lost to me). I did enjoy the writing quite a lot, but I found this one really hard to follow. I suspect that was compounded by listening rather than reading with my eyes; I just don't process information as thoroughly when I hear it as oppose to see it. But it was bad enough that after I finished, I had to look up a plot summary because I wasn't sure what I had read. I gave it 3 stars.

Bingo square: Booker Prize finalist or winner

I am gradually making my way through all of Maggie O'Farrell's backlist, and I had put I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death on hold recently because it had a long wait and I didn't expect it to come to me that soon. But you know how the library is -- when you assume you'll be waiting a long time, you're often surprised, so I read it when it was available to me even though I didn't have a square for it on my bingo card. This is a memoir of sorts in which O'Farrell recounts instances where she's had a brush with death, some very serious (her childhood bout of encephalitis or a knife held to her throat by a robber in South America) and some less so (narrowly avoiding being hit by a car). It was a quick read and written in the same style I've come to love. I gave it 4 stars.

I have been wanting to read All Who Go Do Not Return for several years and finally borrowed my father's copy a few weeks ago. This memoir is written by a man who was raised in an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community in New York who, in his early 30s, realized he no longer believed any of what he had been taught and that had guided every aspect of his life. When he begins, he has just learned that he has been ordered to leave his sect, and he proceeds to detail what his life was like growing up and how he got to this moment. If you watched and enjoyed Unorthodox on Netflix, you'd likely enjoy this book. It's sometimes shocking and horrifying but definitely fascinating. I gave it 4 stars.

Bingo square: Wanted to read for more than a year

Summer Book Bingo doesn't officially end until the end of Labor Day weekend, but look at this:

Click to embiggen and see all the books!

I really thought it would be a stretch to fill two cards, but I guess all the stars aligned and I was able to get it done with time to spare!

I am currently reading A Tale for the Time Being, which was another surprise from the library (I thought I had several more weeks to wait for it), and I'm thinking about what I want to read this month now that I no longer have bingo squares to consider. Thanks again to Mary for hosting this delightful summer event that pushed me to read so many good books!

What are you reading and making these days? If you were doing Summer Book Bingo, how's your card looking heading into the last few days?