Friday, December 30, 2022

A Year of Reading

It's been another great year of reading for me, and it's one that isn't over yet, so I'm hesitant to say that this post is an official wrap-up, but it'll have to do.

So far, I've finished 121 books this year (and that includes two books that were read twice) -- not my highest total of recent years, but I think I read a lot more good books this year, so it was a matter of quality over quantity. Here is a general overview of my distribution:

I know it's nearly impossible to see the titles, but you can see that all but five books were rated three stars or higher. For me, three stars is a good book, four stars is a book I loved, and five is something I would read more than once and encourage others to read.

Bearing in mind that there might still be another addition (I'm rereading The Sentence, which was a five-star read for me the first time), here are the books that earned the top rating from me this year, in the order in which I finished them:

Appropriately, both the first and last books I finished (or will have finished) this year were read in Florida while on vacation!

Here are some other interesting statistics:

  • The longest book I read this year (The Books of Jacob) was 992 pages and the shortest (The Bookstore Sisters) was just 36.
  • The overwhelming majority of what I read this year (78 books) was borrowed from the library.
  • It was very much the year of the audiobook for me. I read a record 47 books with my ears this year.
  • I read all the books on the 2022 short lists of three literary prizes: the Aspen Words Literary Prize, the Women's Prize for Fiction, and the Booker Prize (I actually read 10 of the long list nominees for the Booker in the end).
  • I read a total of more than 38,000 pages this year, according to Goodreads.

For 2023, my goal is to continue to read widely and deeply. I have some general goals, but I'm also planning to be flexible because I know how easily I can get distracted by talk of a good book.

  • Read more Erdrich. The Erdrich-along is continuing with two additional books beyond those we'd originally planned to cover, but I'd like to eventually read all her adult fiction. I have hard copies of most of her books and plan to acquire the rest.
  • Read some big Russian books. Katie and I talked a few months ago about doing a very casual buddy read of three big Russian classics: War and Peace, Anna Karenina, and Doctor Zhivago. I've purchased Kindle copies of all three (to save my eyes and my wrists from a big, heavy paper copy!) and plan to work my way through them slowly.
  • Read books already on my shelves. Though most of the books I read come from the library, I've also acquired quite a few through purchases and picking them up from the Free Little Libraries in my neighborhood, so I have a number of physical books I want to read sitting on my shelves. I'd like to try to get through more of them next year.

All in all, I think it's been an excellent year of reading, and I really have few complaints. How was 2022 for you as a reader? Do you have any big plans for reading in 2023? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


We are scheduled to fly home Sunday morning (keeping all my fingers crossed that Southwest resolves its issues by then!), so this is likely my last post of 2022(!). I will probably do a wrap-up post on my year of crafting on Monday, but until then, I want to say thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing this past year. I wish you all a calm end to this year and a happy, healthy 2023.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Unraveled, Week 52/2022

Look at that -- we've reached the final Wednesday of 2022, just like that! I have to start off this last Unraveled post of the year by thanking Kat for hosting this weekly link-up, truly the highlight of my blogging week!

I know because it's the last week of the year, many of you are doing end-of-year wrap-up posts, but I'm saving that for the end of the week and doing my typical Wednesday post today.

As is typical for me when we are on vacation in Florida, I've been getting a lot of knitting done. That's been even more the case this year because we've had unseasonably cold temperatures here (lows in the 30s, if you can believe it), so there's been much more time spent inside. My Recalibrate has been my main focus, and if you remember my photo of it last Friday, I was in the middle of my seventh stripe on the left front. As of yesterday afternoon, here's what it looked like:

The left side (as worn) is now complete, and I actually added another stripe on the right front after taking this photo. I don't think I will finish the top before we leave to go home, but I may very well finish up the right side. There's still finishing to do on the neckline after that as well as some additional length to add to the body. I think it's likely this will be my first FO of 2023.

I've also been working on a pair of socks for Rainbow, whose feet have grown yet again! They're now just half an inch shorter than mine, which means that as long as she doesn't mind a little extra wiggle room in the toes, she can borrow my socks (and I've already given her a pair that were on the small side for me). These are being knit in Knit Picks Felici, which we recently stocked up on. Rainbow has expressed interest in learning to knit socks herself, so perhaps she will make her own next pair.

Reading has been excellent this past week and looks to stay that way through the end of the year. I have two finishes since last Wednesday.

I had a pretty long wait to get Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow from the library, but it was absolutely worth it. What everyone else has said about not needing to know anything about video games to enjoy this book is spot on. I am not and have never been a gamer, but I adored this book. At its heart, it's the story of a friendship and its many ups and downs. And it's a beautifully written story of the two main characters, who I came to care about so much that I could not put this book down. If you haven't read this book yet, please put it on your TBR list. This is one I may need to go buy a copy of because I think I will want to reread it. I gave it 5 stars.

Usually when we come on this vacation, I get the benefit of reading books that my mother has already bought, and that was the case with The Winners, the third and final book in the Beartown series. I loved the first two books and was really looking forward to the third, but unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations. My mother said she thinks the author was just too attached to the characters and didn't want to let go of them yet, and I think that's a fair assessment. I appreciated that the story was wrapped up, but I think this final installment was too long and too drawn out; the book is nearly 700 pages long and about twice as long as I think it needed to be. Many times I found myself thinking, "Just get on with it already!" But the last chapter made me cry, so it wasn't entirely a wasted read. I would say that unless you really want to know how everything works out for the characters, you can probably skip it, particularly if you don't like long books. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm now reading what may or may not be my last finish of the year, and it's another one I've had a long wait for at the library: Celeste Ng's Our Missing Hearts. I only started it yesterday and am already a third of the way through it and enjoying it a lot.

I hope you're having a good last week of 2022 and would love to hear what you're trying to finish up before we roll over into 2023!

Monday, December 26, 2022

Growth in 2022: December


It feels appropriate to be posting this last One Little Word reflection from Florida because in a way, this is the place where Growth started. The photo I've been using all year is one I snapped on one of my walks during our time here last year, and typically this time at the end of December is when I have the time and brain space to think back on the year that's wrapping up and think ahead to the new year.

It's been a big month for our family, with the bat mitzvah and all its festivities marking the height of our activities. But after all that excitement, there was a bit of a letdown in that everything stopped and suddenly there wasn't anything to practice or plan for. I know Rainbow's been feeling a little lost the past week now that there is no longer something she always has to work toward. I've been filled with gratitude that it all worked out, and my heart has been full from a weekend of seeing our friends and family, some of them for the first time in more than three years. But it is a little jarring to go from all that excitement to the very quiet, calm days we typically have when we're here.

In some ways, I've also been planning for and looking ahead to this month and to wrapping up my journey with my One Little Word for the year. I think we can all agree that even if we've picked a great word, but the time we get to about October or November, we feel like we've examined it from every angle and have said all we have to say about our word. That's definitely been the case for me with Growth this year. I think it was a great word, but I also feel like I've incorporated it into my life so much that it's been hard to pinpoint some new facet of it to talk about every month, and I was starting to worry that I wouldn't have anything to share for this month's update.

But of course my OLW makes itself known in ways I didn't expect, as it always seems to do. Earlier this month, when things were getting really busy and stressful, I took a pause from writing in my journal every day. Journaling is something I started again at the beginning of the pandemic (it was something I did regularly through my teens and early 20s), and for the past few years, it's been a nightly ritual for me. Initially it was a way to keep my sanity when none of us had any idea what was going on, and later it evolved into a way to reflect on my thoughts and feelings. And it was something I did most days, even if I spent only a few minutes on it. But when I paused my writing this month, I realized that I didn't miss it or feel a need to go back to it immediately and, in fact, a lot of my most recent entries had been more of a recounting of things that had happened that day rather than any real reflection.

This is not to say that I plan to stop writing in my journal every day or that I no longer need to have one. But I think the shift in feeling like I need to write every day to wanting to write occasionally, when there's a need for me to examine my thoughts or feelings, shows some major growth. I have a better handle on things now, at least as far as the pandemic is concerned, and maybe I'm getting better about talking through things with others so I don't need to do it on my own. It seems like the journal itself has shifted from a crutch to a tool for me as well, and I no longer feel like I'm beholden to it.

I think the biggest thing I've taken away from my OLW this year is that having a growth mindset is a good thing. There will always be something new to learn and some way I can improve some aspect of myself, even as I say goodbye to Growth as a general theme. I've had some thoughts about my word for next year, but I haven't picked one just yet. I suppose I have some more growth left to do this last week of the year!

Thanks for coming along with me on this OLW journey this year, friends!

Friday, December 23, 2022

An FO and a WIP Round-up

Why is it that when we're working, the days take forever to end, but when we're on vacation, they fly by? I suppose we didn't help things by arriving on a Monday evening, but we're already at the end of our first on vacation. It's been delightful so far, as it always is, but also gone by so quickly. We have not done much that's exciting, as per usual -- just sleeping in, taking time to savor our morning coffee, exercising, reading, and relaxing. And, in my case, knitting, naturally.

Yesterday I finished a longtime WIP; according to my Ravelry project page, I cast it on way back on May 3.

This is, of course, an upsized Hitchhiker (I completed 62 points rather than the called-for 42). The yarn is a skein of handspun that Rainbow selected from my stash, a luxurious 2-ply heavy laceweight spun from a blend of South African Superfine merino(?) and Mulberry silk. My goal was to use up as much of the yarn as possible, and this is all that remains -- less than 4 g:

I have woven in the ends but obviously not yet blocked the shawl (I'll do that when we get home), so there are still yarn tails poking out and the bound-off edge is a little wavy because I did a stretchy bind-off. But I suspect Rainbow will not care about either of these things and will be happy to wrap up in her new shawl this weekend, when it's supposed to be cold (well, by southern Florida standards -- low 50s F).

Now that the shawl is finally off the needles, I've got two WIPs to work on for our remainder of our time here. For the plane ride, I took a pair of socks that I'd cast on earlier in the month to have something to do with my hands for the winter concert at Rainbow's school, and I made some decent progress:

Everything from the progress keeper up to the pink stripe I've just completed was done on the trip. These are for Rainbow, and she's requested a not-too-tall leg, so I'll likely be starting the heel soon. The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in the colorway Bebop -- it's one of about eight colorways we bought recently.

And now that the shawl is done, I'm turning my attention back to my Recalibrate. The knitting on it is simple enough that I should, theoretically, be able to get a lot done while we're away. I'm on what I believe is my last stripe for the left front. It's been a while since I was actively working on this project, so I have to check my notes.

I'm extra excited to get this project finished now because last Friday, just before all the bat mitzvah festivities started, I got an email letting me know that my name had been pulled for the SSK 2023 lottery, and Shana (the designer of Recalibrate) is one of the teachers! Shana and I have gotten to be friends online but not met in person, so it'll be great to meet her finally, and of course I'll want to show off my sweater to her.

If you are celebrating Christmas this weekend, I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday celebration! And if you're affected by that massive winter storm, I hope you can stay safe and warm and the power stays on! I'll be back on Monday with my final One Little Word update of the year (how did that happen?!).

Our view of the sunset on the Winter Solstice

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Unraveled, Week 51/2022

Greetings from Southwest Florida! We arrived Monday evening after a truly uneventful flight (I wasn't even that bothered by the bit of turbulence we experienced as we passed over the jet stream). We were welcomed with a gorgeous sunset as we made our final descent, too:

Today is Wednesday, which means I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers -- a perfect way to get back on track after an eventful few days!

Before we left, I finished up the two projects I wanted to have done before we left. First was the baby sweater, which you saw on Friday when it was still drying. Here it is all complete, just before it was presented to the recipients:

This pattern didn't have a way to line the pockets with a contrasting color, so instead I used buttons with a bit of light blue to match my brother's sweater. As you can imagine, it was a big hit with my brother and sister-in-law.

I also finished up the Twirl Away hat -- believe it or not, on the day of the bat mitzvah, when we were resting at home between the service and the party!

It has not been blocked yet, but I will take care of that when we get home. This is for charity anyway, so there's no rush. I knit the adult size of the pattern, and my only modification was to double the length of the ribbing at the brim because in the photos in the pattern, the hat looked a tad shallow to me. That turned out to be a good move.

I've brought WIPs with me on our trip to finish up -- Rainbow's handspun Hitchhiker, my Recalibrate, and a pair of socks -- as well as an extra skein of sock yarn just in case. I'll share my progress on Friday.

After having no finishes last week, I have three for this week's reading update!

I found A Psalm for the Wild-Built to be such a nice, easy read last month that when the sequel was a Kindle Daily Deal, I snapped it up. A Prayer for the Crown-Shy continues the story of tea monk Dex and robot Mosscap as they travel through towns and meet people (and continue to contemplate their meaning in life). This was a nice, easy read, though I didn't like it as much as the first book. Perhaps that's due to reading it during a particularly stressful time in my life, so don't be dissuaded from reading it simply because I didn't love it. It's a nice palate cleanser and a lovely story. I gave it 3 stars.

Leaving Everything Most Loved is the tenth book in the Maisie Dobbs series, and in this installment Maisie is trying to solve two murders that may have been motivated by racism as well as the case of a missing teenager. There are changes in store for Maisie as well, as she has determined that she needs to travel far from home to gain the necessary experience and insight to truly follow in her teacher's footsteps. I enjoyed this one and am really looking forward to seeing where Maisie's story goes next. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, a big finish: Literally minutes before we left for the airport on Monday, I finished the last chapter of Demon Copperhead. I'm pretty sure I read David Copperfield years ago (in college, actually), but I've forgotten all the details about it and purposefully didn't look up a summary because I frankly did not want to be making comparisons between the original and this retelling/reimagining. I really enjoyed this modern version, even though I found it to be absolutely heartbreaking. I know some people find Barbara Kingsolver to be a bit preachy, but I think she did an excellent job of illustrating just how devastating the opioid crisis has been, especially in poorer areas of the country. I was also very impressed by her ability to convincingly take on the voice of her main character, who I loved but also wanted to throttle from time to time. There were parts that dragged a bit, but overall I really enjoyed this book and gave it 4 stars. And I'm glad I splurged on the fancy hardback edition, which will look beautiful on my bookshelves!

Right after I finished the book and was taking it back upstairs to my bedroom (I still want to read the afterward), I looked at my phone and saw a notification from the Libby app that after a long wait, my hold on Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was up! I started it on the plane and should finish it later today. I also brought hard copies of The Sentence to reread for the Erdrich-along and The Transit of Venus as well as small volume of poetry, and I'm sure I'll get to a couple of audiobooks while I'm here as well.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, December 19, 2022

A Magical Weekend

We are still recovering from a very busy weekend, but our hearts are full. The service was beautiful and Rainbow did an incredible job of leading prayers, reading from the Torah, and giving her speech -- just as we knew she would. We danced and ate delicious food. We caught up with friends and family we hadn't seen in person for more than three years. And there were so many hugs (and a few happy tears). I wish I could share all the details, but it flew by, as I knew it would, and I am still processing it. We'll have to wait a bit to see all the photos, but we did get a little preview from the photographer last night, so I have some representative photos to share with you. Thank you to all of you who sent me messages with your good wishes and congratulations!

Friday, December 16, 2022

Let the Celebrations Begin

Phew, it's Friday, finally! As of yesterday, I officially have a teenager in the house. And as of 5 p.m. yesterday, I'm officially on vacation from work until January 3, 2023. But I can't really rest just yet because of course the bat mitzvah festivities kick off this evening. Rainbow is done with school at noon today, and this afternoon we'll try to have a little bit of calm before the storm.

If you recall, I had a goal of finishing up two projects before we leave for Florida, and I'm very nearly there. I bound off the baby sweater Wednesday evening and gave it a good soak yesterday. It's still drying and still needs its three buttons sewn on, so I guess you could say it's not officially an FO just yet, but the knitting, at least, is done.

I've got it sitting on top of the radiator in the hopes that the heat will speed along the drying progress. I'll likely need to have it ready to be delivered by Sunday, so it needs to dry ASAP!

I'm also very nearly done with the hat, with about nine rounds left on the crown. Each crown round decreases eight stitches, so each one is faster. I should have no problem finishing this up today.

I'd ideally also like to get my latest spins all plied before we leave, and I finished plying the first skein yesterday. I'd like to start the second today, but we'll see how far I get. I figure I can always skein and wash when we get home from vacation if I have to, and of course by then I will no longer have to worry about spoilers.

Okay, friends, I need to go brave the gross weather for a run so I can be back and showered in time to pick Rainbow up from school when she's dismissed at noon. We have a big weekend ahead of us, so we'd appreciate all the good thoughts for things to go smoothly! I am going to do my best to post some photos from the big event on Monday. In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Unraveled, Week 50/2022

Good morning, friends. Take a look at that title: 50/2022 -- can you believe we only have two more Wednesdays left in this year?! I am hoping those last two weeks will slow down a bit for me and for all of us, really.

Today I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers, but I have a pretty short update on my making and my reading. As I predicted would happen, work has gotten really, really busy and has, unfortunately, reminded me why I so rarely take time off. The good thing about being the only person who does your job is that is brings a strong sense of job security, but on the flip side, it also means that when you are off, there is no one to fill in for you. And that means that when I plant to take time off, my coworkers like to throw everything at me so that they can then move projects forward when I'm not there. Added to all the last-minute prep we've been doing for the bat mitzvah and you can imagine that I don't have a lot of time left to do much crafting or reading.

I am still determined to finish up two projects before we leave. The most important is the baby sweater, which is about 95% complete. I've finished the short rows on the shawl collar, so now I just have to finish the button bands.

I have one more round to knit on my hat before I start the crown decreases, and things should move pretty quickly after that.

Spoiler warning: I have finished spinning all my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown minis ,so if you don't want to see, scroll no further!

I have started plying the first bobbin (the gray one), but only just. I'm hoping I can get both skeins plied before we leave, but I may have to wait until we get back to skein and wash the yarn.

I don't have much of a reading update this week because, thanks to the aforementioned work influx, I have not had very much time for reading and haven't finished any books in the past week. But I'm getting close to finishing the three I'm in the middle of. First, I've been listening to the 10th Maisie Dobbs book, Leaving Everything Most Loved, and should be able to finish it on this morning's run. I also started the second Monk and Robot book, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, over the weekend and have less than 50 pages to go to finish. Finally, I've got 140-ish pages left in Demon Copperhead, which means I need to read about 30 pages a day to finish it before we leave on Monday. I've been trying to squeeze in a few extra minutes of reading it here and there in addition to my bedtime reading, and I'm still feeling pretty good about getting it done despite all the shenanigans of the week.

Well, friends, I need to go get my run in before I'm buried under work for the rest of the day. I'd love to hear what you're making and reading this week so I can experience them vicariously!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Four More Days

Good morning, friends! Boy, is it ever a Monday morning here! After a rough night of sleep for Rainbow (when she can't fall asleep, she comes to wake me up so I can lie with her in her twin bed -- how that helps her, I can't say), we had to get out the door early this morning for a 7:15 orthodontist appointment for which we waited half an hour. I have just gotten home after dropping her off a little late at school and am nursing the last of my coffee.

On the plus side, this is the last Monday of school and work for us this week! So I have just four more days of work to get through before I'm on vacation until next year -- and of course there's still a lot of stuff to come this week, but not having to think about work after Thursday will be a relief.

We had a fairly quiet weekend ahead of a very active one. Rainbow was actually out of the house all day on Saturday, first at school for an extracurricular group she's part of and then out with a couple of friends for lunch and shopping to celebrate the birthday of one of them, so I was able to go for a long walk, clean the bathrooms, and do a ton of laundry. Yesterday was more of the same. Quite a lot of crafting was completed, too -- take a look at the baby sweater!

As if the pockets weren't cute enough, how adorable are the faux elbow patches? I have roughly half a sleeve and the buttonbands and collar left to knit, and all the ends have been woven in other than the one for the start of the second sleeve. Clearly this will need a good blocking, and it's my top priority this week so it can be dry, wrapped up, and ready to be handed off to the recipients before we leave for vacation.

Something you can't see is that this post is successfully being written on my new laptop. We did the transfer on Saturday afternoon, and though it involved some finagling of passwords, it really was quite painless. The new one is a MacBook Air, so it's a bit lighter than the old one and, most importantly, it's not swelling in the middle!

I've got to sign off now to get started on work, but I'll leave you with this little funny bit that Duolingo treated me to over the weekend:

Have as good of a day as you can!

Friday, December 09, 2022

Thanks, It Has Pockets!

TGIF, friends. It's been quite a week and I am more than ready for it to be over. Today is officially my last working Friday of the year. I was able to get one big project off my plate yesterday, so I am hoping today can be a little less stressful as a result.

Today I have to share with you my excitement about pockets -- tiny pockets, specifically. I've reached the point in the sweater for my nephew where I've paused on the body to knit the fronts of the pockets, and I cannot express to you how adorable they are!

I will not give away the secret sauce in describing how the pocket fronts are attached to the body as you go, so let's just say it's extremely clever. The first pocket is done (except for closing the bottom, which will be done when the body is picked up again) and the second about halfway there. As you can tell from my two fingers, these pockets are pretty much useless as far as function goes, but I wouldn't skip them for the world. And though they're a bit fiddly, they are easy enough that I could see adding them to a cardigan that doesn't have pockets.

I've also made some progress on the charity hat thanks to knitting time during what was Rainbow's last official bat mitzvah tutoring session on Wednesday evening.

The pattern is intuitive enough that I didn't even need to take the chart with me, and I also found that the strap of a face mask is an excellent holder for a cable needle! I've got about half a dozen rounds left before the crown decreases.

This weekend will be focused on tying up the last few loose ends for the big event next weekend as well as transferring over my data from my current laptop to the shiny new one that arrived on Monday. While I haven't had any major issues with my six-year-old MacBook, I'm pretty sure this is not how it's supposed to look when it's closed (or not quite closed):

It's been wobbly when sitting on a flat surface for a while, and the swelling only seems to be getting worse, so before it becomes catastrophic, I decided to get a new one. We had quite a lot of fun watching the tracking on it, especially when it went from China to Alaska to Japan! Assuming all goes well with the transfer, I'll be writing my next post from it on Monday.

Okay, time to get to work. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Unraveled, Week 49/2022

Looking at that number in the post title is a scary reminder of how little is left of this year -- where has it gone?! But I am happy that it's Wednesday again, truly my favorite day for blogging because it means linking up with Kat and the Unravelers.

While there has been no actual unraveling, I've felt a bit unraveled this week because rather than finishing anything, I keep starting new projects! Given how much I have going on in my life right now, I wouldn't be surprised if any of you is shaking your head at me and wondering where I left my common sense. For reference, not including my spinning, here are my current projects:

The newest project is a pair of plain socks in self-striping yarn (Knit Picks Felici) that I cast on last night because we went to the middle school holiday concert at Rainbow's school yesterday evening and none of my projects was something I could do without looking (and if you've ever been to a middle school concert, you know that you can't really count on the music to hold your interest).

So here's my plan for the next week and a half-ish: Two current projects, the baby sweater and the charity hat, will be finished before we leave town (the sweater because it's a holiday gift and the hat because I'm already about halfway done). My Recalibrate and Rainbow's Hitchhiker will come with me on the trip, as will the socks and yarn for some other pairs. If I end up finishing everything, we can always swing by a Michaels and pick up some kitchen cotton for dishcloths.

Work has gotten busy again, so I haven't had a ton of reading time this past week, but I did manage to finish a couple of books.

I'd had The Woman They Could Not Silence on my want-to-read list for a while and then picked it up as a Kindle daily deal recently. It's by the same author as Radium Girls and focuses on Elizabeth Packard, a woman in the 1860s United States who was committed to an asylum by her husband because she dared to express opinions different from his. Inside, she discovers she is far from the only woman in this situation and makes it her personal mission to not only free herself but change the laws in the country that allow men to control women this way. It's a well-researched and thorough look at women's rights (or lack thereof), the changing views of mental health and what constitutes sanity/insanity, and how those with mental illness have been treated. I found the subject to be really interesting but couldn't help but be distracted by some of the writing (specifically, the overuse of sentence fragments for emphasis) -- it's just the editor in me I couldn't turn off! I gave it 3 stars.

Part of me feels like I should be saving the remaining books in the Maisie Dobbs series, but the more I read, the more I'm invested in her as a character and want to know how things end up for her. I listened to Elegy for Eddie, the ninth book in the series, over the weekend. I think what I enjoy most about this series is that we can watch Maisie grow and change, and that was certainly the case in this installment. As she is adjusting to her new and unexpected wealth, she begins to question whether she is overstepping in offering help those she cares about and her relationship with James Compton, even as her work is raising larger questions of whether the sacrifice of a few is worth it to safeguard the lives of many. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm now reading just one book, Demon Copperhead, and am absolutely loving it! I really want to finish it before we leave for Florida because it's an absolute brick of a book, but that's hard to do when I can only manage 10-20 pages per night before bed. Keep your fingers crossed that work cooperates and eases up so I can sneak in some more reading time!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, December 05, 2022

Feeling a Bit Scattered

I won't lie -- it was hard to get up this morning. Monday mornings are always a little rough, but Rainbow was feeling a bit anxious about things last night and so had some trouble settling down for sleep, which meant the two of us were squeezed into her twin bed for a couple of hours. I did sleep a little, but it's not the best sleep.

Now I am properly caffeinated and planning to go out for a run soon, but first, a crafting update. We had a fairly quiet weekend, so I was able to do quite a lot of crafting, though lately I've been jumping from project to project. As much as I was trying to focus on finishing Rainbow's Hitchhiker, I realized that I'm under no actual deadline to finish it because she knows about, so I could take it to Florida if it's not done by then. I do, however, want to finish up the baby sweater before we leave so I can give it to my brother and sister-in-law as a Chrismakah present, so I gave it some attention.

Those red strings at the front are holding the stitches for the pockets, which are created in a very clever way. First, you slip the live stitches onto a stitch holder or waste yarn. Then you pick up the same number of stitches by putting your needle into the purl bump at the back of each stitch on hold. Eventually I'll put the stitches on waste yarn back onto the needles and knit the front of the pockets. Yes, I realize the uselessness of knitting pockets for a newborn, but they're too cute not to!

Because working on the shawl and the sweater weren't enough (yes, I am ignoring my Recalibrate for the moment), I cast on for a charity hat last night.

This skein of Cascade 220 Superwash Handpaints was in my leftovers bin, but when I weighed it, it turned out to be a full skein. I know it's leftover from a baby sweater I knit years ago, and clearly I had wound it thinking I'd need to break into the second skein to finish, but I guess I didn't. In any case, this is the very small start to a Twirl Away hat, which I am knitting both for the Giftalong and for the Pigskin Party.

One thing I did manage to finish was the first bobbin of singles from my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown set using half of the fiber (shown in black and white here to avoid spoilering anyone):

After opening all the bags of fiber and seeing the colors, I changed my mind on a couple of them, so the ones in this bobbin aren't completely in order, not that it really matters. It wasn't possible to do an even split of warm and cool colors, so this bobbin is generally softer, more muted colors, and the second bobbin will be brighter, more intense colors. I'm planning to chain-ply both, so this one will sit while I spin up the second half of the fiber.

Right, time to get moving if I want to get my run in before my team meeting! Here's hoping Monday is kind to all of us.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Reasons to Smile

Happy December, friends! I still think I'm owed an extra week of November, but here we are in the last month of the year. As of this morning, I have 10 days of work left this year, 13 more days until I have a teenager, 15 more days until we host the bat mitzvah we've been planning for almost a year, and 17 more days until we leave for our Florida vacation. Yes, things are going to get hectic around here! So today's post is all about pausing to appreciate happy things.

First, Wednesday was a really long day, but it contained some good things. I successfully made my fifth blood donation this year and we also got to meet our new nephew/cousin. Rainbow, naturally, is over the moon, particularly since her older cousin doesn't much like to snuggle anymore.

Last night I fixed the hole caused by the dropped stitch in her Hitchhiker, and I don't think you could find where it was if I didn't leave the safety pin in to mark the spot:

I've started spinning my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown Set and have gotten through five little bundles of fiber -- I'm spinning them out of order to have one skein that's more cool colors and one that's more warm colors, so I'm showing this photo in black and white so I don't spoil the surprise for anyone.

And, finally, I released two patterns today, De Reflectie Hat and De Reflectie Cowl, both available on Ravelry and Payhip!

I hope that you find some reasons to smile today! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Unraveled, Week 48/2022

Hard to believe that we only have four more Wednesdays left in 2022! I'm here as I am every Wednesday to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to talk about making and reading.

Some of you might be double-checking the URL of this post because you might think you're reading Bonny's blog when you see what I've been working on this week:

Remember this Hitchhiker? I started it way back at the beginning of May. It's for Rainbow, and she picked out the yarn (a wool/silk heavy laceweight handspun). I knit on it a bunch initially and then lost steam, but right now there's a special challenge in one of the make-alongs I'm participating in to finish up a WIP, so I pulled it out again. Plus Rainbow's birthday is two weeks from tomorrow, so it'd be nice to be able to give her a finished shawl! I had 110 g of yarn to start, and I still have 40 to go -- and there are already 50 teeth on this shawl, to give you a sense of just how much knitting I've done.

Do you see that bulb safety pin in the photo above? When I held up the shawl to look at it over the weekend, I spotted what looked like a hole. I immediately panicked and thought that moths had gotten to it when I was ignoring it, but closer inspection revealed this:

Just a dropped stitch! Phew! I'm too far past where I dropped it to try to ladder it up, so when I get to a point in the remaining yarn where the colors match this section, I'll cut out a bit and secure this with a bit of duplicate stitch. The yarn is just sticky enough that the stitch didn't drop any farther, but just a bit of tugging would make it do so, so I'll be making sure it stays put.

I'm also working on another small project that in theory could have been finished in just a few days of knitting had I not decided to give the shawl all my attention. It's a baby sweater called Little Opa (Ravelry link):

You know that as of last week, I have a new nephew (and we finally get to meet him tonight!). But there's more good news -- I have another new nephew on the way! The two that have already been born belong to the Mister's brother and his wife, my brother- and sister-in-law. But my brother and his wife have been trying for a while and are now expecting a baby boy early next May. Rainbow is going to be kept very busy with all these little boys running around, that's for sure! This little sweater, which I'm knitting in a 6 month size for next fall, will be a holiday gift, and if the yarn looks familiar, it's because it's leftover from the sweater I made for my brother this past summer. I won't be lining the pockets of this tiny sweater, but I do have some buttons with a similar light blue that I may use to make this coordinate if not match.

As for reading, despite my desire to sit down with a physical book over the long holiday weekend, it never happened, and I've only finished one book this week.

I needed another audiobook to listen to, so I went back to the Maisie Dobbs series for another installment. A Lesson in Secrets finds Maisie involved with the British Secret Service as it investigates possible spies in the world of academia as the rise of Nazism looms in Europe. And of course there's a murder to complicate things. I found this to be entertaining and engaging, and it was interesting to hear about the seeming lack of concern about fascism knowing what we know now about what would happen not long after this story is set. I gave this one 4 stars.

I'm still reading Demon Copperhead (now about 120 pages in), and I've been reading a nonfiction book on my iPad: The Woman They Could Not Silence. This is by the same author of Radium Girls and is interesting without being too heavy.

Today is a gloomy, rainy day, and while I've decided to skip my run (because I hate running with wet feet), I do need to go out in it later on because I'm scheduled to donate blood later this morning. Keep your fingers crossed that my hemoglobin level is high enough!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, November 28, 2022

Growth in 2022: November

Somehow it's the final Monday of the month -- I'm still convinced that we skipped a week of November somewhere along the way -- and that means it's time to check in with my One Little Word for the penultimate time this year. Thank you to Carolyn for hosting this monthly link-up!

It's quite appropriate that Carolyn is mentioned at the top of this post because my experience with Growth this month had a lot to do with her.

I know the fact that I'm a major introvert is not news to regular readers of this blog. But what you may not know is that I'm also extremely shy and socially anxious, even around people I know. So putting myself out in public is not an easy thing to do, especially in a world where we've recently been so isolated. But this past weekend, that's just what I did.

About a month or so ago, Carolyn emailed me to say that she and her family would be in Pittsburgh over Thanksgiving weekend and asked if Rainbow and I would be interested in meeting up with her and her daughter Saturday evening while her husband and son were at the Penguins game. Of course I said yes (after checking with Rainbow), but almost immediately I started worrying about this meeting. Carolyn is someone I consider a friend -- we've been reading and commenting on each other's blogs for several years, exchanging emails, and also occasionally being in the same Zoom sessions. But we've never actually met in person. And here's where that shyness and social anxiety comes in: Would our conversation be the same in person as it was in email? Would it be awkward? Would she like me?

Here's the thing about social anxiety: Most of the time, things in my head are worse than they ever could be in real life. And friendships formed in a digital world aren't all that much different from face to face. If you've read Carolyn's blog post from the weekend, then you'll know we did meet up and had a wonderful time. Two hours over crepes flew by without a pause in conversation. We could have kept talking for hours! So my growth this month was all about learning to challenge those self-doubts and trust that a real friendship is the same, no matter the mode of connection.

I can't believe that we have just one month left for this year's One Little Word! I have no inklings yet of next year's word, but I expect that once my thoughts are no longer all about the bat mitzvah, I'll have more mental space and energy to think about it.

How has your One Little Word shown up for you this month? Have you started thinking about next year's yet?