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Friday, July 01, 2022

Time for Some Good News

We've made it to Friday, friends, and it's also a Friday before a long holiday weekend here. My office is closing at 2, so I'll be able to get an early start on it. And I'm very thankful for that, because it's been a very stressful week. I thought I'd finish off the week by sharing a few good things, because I think we all can use all the good news we can get.

First, I want to thank you all for your good wishes for the Mister. He is feeling pretty much back to normal (save not fully having his sense of taste back) and worked -- from home, obviously -- a full day yesterday. I'm going to insist that he continue to isolate through Sunday, and I'll likely continue to sleep in the guest/stash room until he's 10 days past his positive test, but I'm feeling much less anxious about his health.

Next, I finished my sock -- and I love it!


I'm going to try to knit the mate sometime this month, but for now I'm focusing on finishing my brother's sweater. His birthday is on the 19th, and I want to get it done by then.

In good news from the garden, after lackluster results the past several years, I decided to move our tomato plants to the front yard, where we get sun all morning. That turned out to be a really good move -- look at this:


The last time I counted, we had 13 or 14 tomatoes growing on our two plants, and we have a lot of flowers as well. It may be a while yet before we can harvest any, but my mouth is already watering thinking of a juicy tomato warm from the sun.

Finally, today is the official kickoff for the Tour de Fleece! I moved my wheel into the den a couple of days ago (it was still in our bedroom), and I'll be endeavoring to spend some time spinning every day of the Tour this year.

I hope that you have a restful, relaxing weekend and that you're able to find some good news in your life!

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Unraveled, Week 26/2022

Oh friends, it has been A Week. And it's only Wednesday! On Monday night, the Mister was coughing and getting stuffed up, and when he woke up yesterday, he was completely congested. So he took a home COVID test -- and I think you probably already know that it was positive. I took a home test and it came back negative, but knowing that these tests are less reliable, I also went to get a PCR test yesterday afternoon. I've of course been convinced that I have it, too, because I always assume the worst and always physically feel my anxiety, but this morning I got a negative result! So it seems all my "symptoms" have just been psychosomatic. On top of all this, last night was the annual meeting for our synagogue at which the election of new trustees and officers occurred. The meeting was held via Zoom in order to allow those who could not be at an in-person meeting (either because of COVID concerns, mobility issues, or because they're out of town or live elsewhere), and there were issues with technology from the start in addition to a lot of very angry congregants determined to disrupt the proceedings. The technology issues were resolved, and after three and a half hours, the full slate of nominees had been elected. So I am now secretary of the board!

So I'm starting the day with some good news, but I am tired and obviously still worried about the Mister and potentially catching the plague, but we're all isolating in our own rooms and wearing high-quality masks around each other. I am hopeful that if I didn't catch COVID from him from sleeping in the same bed with his breath in my face all night, I can avoid it now. He'll be isolated through the weekend, at least, so it'll be a quiet rest of the week for us -- and I'm just fine with that!

Because it's Wednesday, that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to talk about what I've been making and reading. 

In the last several days, I've been almost singularly focused on the sock pattern I'm test knitting. I know that my brother's sweater has a deadline, but so does this, and as I only have to finish one sock for the test, I figured I could focus on it for a few days to knock it out. Yesterday it got a lot of attention, including during that marathon Zoom meeting last night, so it's unsurprising that I have about an inch of foot left to knit before the toe. I expect that it'll be easy to finish this sock up today.


The stitch pattern is really beautiful, but it's also very involved -- there are multiple 1x1 cable crossings on every round -- and I've had a few issues with my needles splitting the yarn, so the patterned part of this sock has been slower for me. But I think it's worth it.

Once the sock is done, I will turn back to my brother's sweater and give it my undivided attention until it's done. I'm currently at a rather fun part of it -- the pocket linings!


The pattern advises that the linings be knit at this point, before any seaming, so that only one piece of the sweater has to be handled while knitting it -- very smart! I know it looks a bit like blue lips on the side of the piece of knitting, but when it's done, it'll be pushed inside the slit and will look normal.

I have only finished one book this week, but it was a long one and a good one (and, coincidentally, also the same book Kat finished)!

I received a digital ARC of Ian McEwan's forthcoming Lessons via NetGalley and Knopf in return for an honest review. This was my fourth McEwan novel, and while I have always found something in each of his books that makes me feel uncomfortable, the writing is always superb. The fact that this was an ARC made it hard to tell how long it was when I started (it would only tell me the "position" I was in rather than a page number), but I very quickly discovered that it was a long book. And that makes sense, given that it spans the early '60s to present day. We are along for much of the life of the main character, Roland Baines, and see how so much in his life is influenced by a sexual relationship with his much-older piano teacher when he was a teenager. I know that sounds disturbing, but it's only part of his story, and the book is really so beautifully written, with such vivid, complex characters. I frequently found myself getting lost in it. I gave it 4 stars.

I've done much more knitting and TV watching in the last couple of days than reading, but I'm hoping now that my anxiety is abating I can focus on Tears of Amber, which I am nearly halfway through and really enjoying.

What are you making and reading this week?


Monday, June 27, 2022

Growth in 2022: June

 

I probably say this every month, but I am genuinely surprised that we've arrived at the last few days of June. This month has seemed to go even faster than normal despite the longer days, I suspect because Rainbow has been out of school and the normal weekday routine has changed.

I'll admit that I've struggled with my One Little Word this month, especially in trying to come up with the ways that Growth has made itself known over the past several days. I probably don't need to tell you that I've been feeling very down since the news broke on Friday that Roe v. Wade had been overturned; the right to decide what I do with my body and my health has never been an issue for me, and I am heartbroken that my daughter will now have to face a future in which she may have to have children against her will or suffer potentially devastating health consequences related to a pregnancy. It's probably a good thing I wasn't working on Friday, because after hearing the news, I couldn't focus on anything.

But perhaps my reaction to the news shows some growth after all. In the past, I would have sunk into a state of helplessness upon hearing that my rights had been taken away. On Friday, though I was certainly upset and grieving, I was more angry than anything else. I wrote about my anger in my journal that night, and I promised myself I would fight back. I have a child, don't plan on having any more, and am probably closer to menopause than prime child-bearing years at this point, but in addition to being the mother of a daughter, this is about so much more than me. This decision affects roughly half the population of our country, and it will disproportionately impact people with less financial means and people of color. I've gotten past the point where I focus on how something affects me and have moved on to how this affects all of us, and rather than wallowing in despair, I vowed in my journal to look to those who are wiser and more informed to take actionable steps in the days and months to come. It looks like my state could see an influx of women from West Virginia and Ohio who are seeking abortion services, so I can donate to local service providers to start. I'll continue to contact my elected officials regularly and vote in every single election, as I always have, but now I'm going to be a single-issue voter. I'll sign petitions and join protests when I can. And I will happily accept suggestions for other concrete steps I can take to protect my daughter and all women in this country.

None of this comes easily to me. I don't like speaking loudly or talking to strangers or drawing attention to myself. But I can be uncomfortable for something that really matters and that's vitally important to me. And I think that shows some real growth on my part.

Thank you, as always, to Carolyn for hosting our monthly OLW link-up, and thank you to all of you who took the time to read this. I know many of you were equally devastated on Friday, and I hope you're also committed to fighting back.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday Updates

For a short week, it's felt long, so I was very happy to wake up this morning and realize it's my day off. Rainbow and I have plans to spend the day together, but she is still sleeping as I type this, so as soon as I post I'm going to take advantage of the cooler weather this morning and go for a long walk.

I have some updates for you this morning. First, I've made some real progress on my brothers sweater -- which could be a vest at this point!

The pattern calls for knitting the pocket linings next (which makes sense -- there's only the one front piece to juggle that way), then seaming the shoulders and doing the collar/button bands, but I might skip ahead and do the sleeves first so I can do all the finishing at once. Before any of that, though, I have some ends to weave in.

Yesterday I also managed to do about two-thirds of a chart repeat on the socks I am test knitting. This is a pattern that requires my full attention, but I think it will be worth it.

The stitch pattern has twisted stitches and cable crossings on every single row, so it's fairly slow going. I think this might require a good audiobook.

Finally, remember the slipper inserts I made earlier in the month? I wanted to let you know how they worked out -- which, I'm sorry to say, was not very well.


If you enlarge the photo, you might see that these have fuzzed up a bit from wear. The problem isn't in the inserts themselves but rather with the slippers. When I decided to make these, I was using a pair of faux shearling slippers in which I'd mostly worn out the lining under my feet. But soon after, I discovered that I'd also worn away enough of the lining on top of my foot to poke a hole in the leather on top, so those slippers were basically dead. I ordered a new pair to replace them, with a knit upper and faux fur lining, but the issue with the new slippers is that the lining is slippery, so the inserts just will not stay in place under my feet. They're very comfortable for the few seconds they stay where they should be, but very quickly they start to twist around. I ended up needle-felting only one of the two (the one on the right in the photo), and while that didn't do anything to help keep it in place, I will say that the felted insert doesn't stretch as much when in use. I may try wet-felting these to see if it helps any, but I think the slipper is the problem. Oh well!

I hope you all have a relaxing and enjoyable last weekend in June!

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Unraveled, Week 25/2022

Today feels simultaneously like Tuesday (because I had Monday off) and Thursday (because I'm taking Friday off), but it is actually Wednesday, and that means it's time for an Unraveled update! As usual, I am linking up with Kat today and talking about what I'm making and what I'm reading.

I'm working steadily on my brother's cardigan and have closed the pocket opening on the left front. The rows will get shorter soon as I've just started the decreases along the neckline and very shortly will do the underarm shortly. As I recall from the other front piece, there were a lot of rows in this part but they moved very quickly. I think I can probably get this piece done by the end of the week and then start in on the sleeves.


I did work a bit on Rainbow's Hitchhiker over the weekend while we were socializing with relatives and added a couple of teeth, but it doesn't look much different. What's more interesting is the new project I cast on earlier in the week, which is a new sock pattern I am testing for another designer. Mine doesn't look like much at this point:


But you can see what they will look like on her Instagram account (they're the blue socks with the sort of Art Deco-looking twisted stitch pattern that she posted several photos of this week). I'm using some deep-stash Fibernymph Dye Works Sunshine, which is Lisa's light fingering base. It's not one I typically use for socks, but it was one skein of fingering I had in a semisolid. I only need to finish one sock for the test, but of course I'll eventually make both, as I'm making these for me and want to have some pretty new socks to wear when the weather gets cold again.

I haven't had a ton of reading time in the past week because of all the festivities last weekend, but I did manage to finish two books.

Four Souls was one of the three add-on books for the Erdrich-along that we'll be discussing this weekend. This one focuses on the character of Fleur Pillager, though there are appearances by Nanapush and Margaret Kashpaw/Rushes Bear. Now that I've read a good handful of Erdrich's books, I can very easily understand why she has said that her characters won't leave her alone and keep coming back to her so she is forced to write more books about them; in many ways, they've started to feel like real people to me, and each book that features these characters feels like I'm getting more stories of their lives. Erdrich's writing is spectacular as always, and this one has some laugh-out-loud funny moments as well as the usual serious and sad bits. I gave it 4 stars.

The other book I finished was an audiobook that I listened to while I was out exercising. I wanted something that would keep my attention (to distract me from feeling like I was melting in the heat) but that wasn't too serious, so I decided to read Nine Perfect Strangers. I'd never read a book by Liane Moriarty before, though she'd certainly been on my radar. This one was ... okay. It had that page-turner-ness to it that I wanted for the context in which I was listening, but I saw a major plot point coming at the very beginning and thought the climax was rather anticlimactic. It wasn't bad, and it certainly held my attention, but I wouldn't call it fine literature. I gave it 3 stars.


I am still reading Lessons, which, it turns out, is a lot longer than I thought (the problem with reading a digital ARC is that it doesn't have page numbers, just "position," so I can't really tell how much I have left). My Kindle app says I'm 80% through it and have about 2 hours left to read, so perhaps if I can finish up a work project today and nothing else comes in, I might be able to get through the rest this afternoon.

What are you making and reading this week?



Monday, June 20, 2022

Little Knitting but Lots of Love

Happy Monday, friends! It's a Monday off for me, as my office is closed in observance of Juneteeth. Later this morning Rainbow has an orthodontist appointment to get her first contraption removed, but the rest of the day is completely unscheduled -- and I'm planning to fully enjoy that, because I'm expecting a big work project to land in my inbox first thing tomorrow.

As I mentioned on Friday, we had a weekend of birthday celebrations and time spent with family visiting from out of town. We also got lucky with some absolutely spectacular weather, as the humidity dropped and highs were only in the low to mid-70s. Think blue skies, light winds, and plenty of sun. We had good meals and great company, and it was wonderful to see some family members we hadn't seen in person since my brother's wedding in December 2019.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, all that family time meant not a whole lot of crafting, but I did manage to finish up that second scrappy hat I started last week.


I used three colorways throughout this hat and played a bit of yarn chicken toward the end, but I had enough to finish. This was intended to be another charity hat, but a certain someone in this house decided she loved it and asked if she could have it -- and how could I say no? I'm sure there are more of these hats in my future, as they're a great way to use up some leftovers and add to my Stash Dash total (currently at a bit more than 3,200 m).

My brother's birthday is now officially less than a month away, so it's really time to focus on getting his sweater done. I am currently working on the pocket of the left front, and I'm planning to spend some time on it this afternoon. I also have a short workweek ahead, as I'm using up my second personal day for the year on Friday. If you catch me getting distracted by more scrappy hats, remind me that I need to finish the sweater!

Friday, June 17, 2022

A Sneaky FO

Happy Friday, friends! This week has felt longer than usual, perhaps because it came after a long weekend for me and perhaps because it's been unbearably hot this week. We've had high temperatures in the 90s and heat indexes pushing 100 for several days in a row, and the humidity has been the worst. I have gone out to exercise early (around 8 a.m.) the past couple of days to try to beat the heat, but when the dew point is in the 70s, it's virtually impossible. I am very thankful that we have a new air conditioning unit and that the power has stayed on, and I'm looking forward to things improving this weekend.

I've continued to make slow and steady progress on my WIPs this week, and the left front of my brother's sweater is now ready for the pocket slit.


I'm fairly certain that I found an error in the directions for the ribbing on this piece, which entailed some ripping and reknitting, but I'm on track now. I do feel like I'm getting faster as I go along with this project because I am now more familiar with the stitch pattern, but there is still quite a bit of knitting to do. Even though I know it will be fiddly, I've decided to knit the sleeves at the same time because it will ensure that they are the same and also save me from the mental hurdle of having to knit the same thing twice (yes, I'm aware that I'm just playing a trick on myself, but somehow knitting two of the same thing at the same time seems less onerous than knitting one after another).

Despite the fact that I had this project and my languishing Hitchhiker and a spinning project, I felt the need to cast on something on Wednesday afternoon. I had back to back meetings yesterday morning and wanted something mindless and easy to keep my hands busy. Enter my bag of sock yarn scraps:


Did you know that if you hold fingering weight yarn triple, it knits up very quickly? I'm sure you did! I'm currently involved in two make-alongs, and some basic beanies for charity count for both and are scratching that itch I had to cast on something new. I think after I finish this second one I'll feel better about getting back to what was already in progress. These hats are nothing fancy: 88 stitches, about an inch and a half of 2x2 ribbing, a stockinette body, and swirled crown decreases. All the yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce, an 80/20 superwash merino/nylon blend, leftover from socks and other projects. For the first hat, I mainly chose warmer colors, and the teen/women's-sized hat used up almost 350 yards of scraps. I'm copying that for the second hat but using a cooler palette. You may remember that I made a bunch of scrappy, marled charity hats like this last fall, but I hadn't made one in a while and my stash of charity items has gotten depleted after sending a bunch off earlier in the year. Summer seems like a good time to build up that stash again!

I am very much looking forward to the long weekend ahead (I have Monday off for Juneteenth), not least because we have a bunch of celebrations to look forward to. Today is my mother-in-law's birthday, so we are going out to dinner with my in-laws, my brother- and sister-in-law, and my nephew. Then tomorrow is my mother's birthday -- and it's a big one, though because I know she's sensitive about her age, I won't tell you the number. My aunt (her sister) and my aunt and uncle (my father's sister and brother-in-law) are coming to visit from out of town, and we're also surprising her with a dinner tomorrow evening. And of course Sunday is Father's Day, so we'll be having brunch. It will be great to see family and celebrate some happy occasions, and I am also quite happy to have some extra time away from work on Monday.

I hope you have something to look forward to this weekend, too! Remember to stay hydrated and wear your sunblock!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Unraveled, Week 24/2022

I know that Kat is taking this week off from her blog and thus won't be hosting a link-up this week, but it's still Wednesday, and that means it's time for a mid-week check-in on my projects and my reading. Why don't we kick things off with a finished project?

I finished Rainbow's latest socks up just before bed last night and wove in the last two ends this morning. When I finished the toe on the first sock, I was pleasantly surprised that I was at the precise spot in the striping sequence to start the second sock in the same spot I'd started the first, so in theory these socks should have matched. But I am only human, and if you look closely at the heels and toes, you'll see I got ever so slightly off. Rainbow is unbothered by this; she told me she didn't even care if they matched or not, and I think they are close enough that no one is going to notice. I will draw your attention to the fact that these socks are on adult-sized sock blockers -- someone's feet aren't little anymore! 

I have started the left front of my brother's cardigan, but I had a bit of a snafu with the ribbing (I think it was actually an error in the pattern) that required ripping out the inch or so I'd knit on Monday night and starting over, so it doesn't look like much at this point. I can, however, share what is on my wheel now (which you will have seen if you follow me on Instagram).


Like the majority of people who weighed in on my choice on the blog and on IG, I realized that of the two colorways, I was much more keen to spin the blue/green one (are you at all shocked?). So, using that bag of fiber as the proverbial carrot on the end of the stick, I decided to spin the other colorway first -- I figure that if I really want to get to the blues and greens, I'll be more likely to whizz through this one. As it turns out, I am really enjoying these colors, too, even though they didn't initially call to me as strongly. I couldn't get over how much like spun gold this particular section looked. And what's not to like about superfine merino and silk?

Reading has been good this past week, even though I've only finished one book -- but it was a 500+-page book!

I'd had A Girl Is a Body of Water tagged "to read" on my Libby app since hearing about it on the Novel Pairings podcast sometime last summer, I think, and I decided to give it a go last week. This is a coming-of-age story set in Uganda, partially during the time of Idi Amin, focused mainly on Kirabo, a girl who has been raised by her grandparents after she was born to their teenage son and a mother she has never known. As Kirabo grows up and learns more about her family and how she came to be, we also get a sense of what is was like to live in an extremely patriarchal society in which a feminist movement is just starting to gain traction. I'll admit that my knowledge of Uganda was limited to having watched a couple of movies (Raid on Entebbe and The Last King of Scotland) years ago, so I perhaps did not have the best background to understand the context. There's also a lot of non-English terms used that aren't fully explained, though context clues often help, but I could have used a glossary (my Googling wasn't always useful). I wouldn't say I loved the book, but it was a welcome change from my typical setting and perspective, and I always appreciate books that push me out of my comfort zone, so I'd say it was well worth reading. I gave it 3 stars.

Currently I'm trying to finish up Four Souls, and just yesterday I started two new books: I've started running again a bit, so I borrowed Nine Perfect Strangers on audio to keep me distracted when it gets tough, and while I was visiting Netgalley to see if anything interesting was available, I discovered Ian McEwan's newest forthcoming novel, Lessons, which I'm really enjoying and am already about a quarter of the way through.

I'm also looking forward to the announcement of the winner of the Women's Prize this afternoon and have a reminder set on my phone so I can watch it live! I've read all the finalists and am rooting for either Sorrow and Bliss or The Sentence to win.

What are you making and reading this week?


Monday, June 13, 2022

Long Weekending

Happy Monday, friends! I firmly believe that we should all have regular long weekends because they can be so restorative -- and as it happens, I have two more of them coming up!

Friday ended up being a little more relaxed than anticipated because we had a somewhat lazy morning, but that was fine by me. We got our much-needed haircuts, and I took my socks-in-progress along. I was a day early for Worldwide Knit in Public Day, but I knit in public all the time!


Those socks actually ended up being the project that got the most attention this weekend, even though I probably should have worked on other things. But we were out and about a fair amount, and they were the most portable. I'm just about finished with the heel decreases on sock number 2, so I'm guessing I'll have a finished pair by the end of the week.

Speaking of finishing, I finished the right front of my brother's cardigan last night. There was a lot to keep track of with this piece -- the cable stitch pattern, plus shaping, plus number of rows worked -- so it's been something I've really only been working on in the evening for an hour or so at a time. I think that the other front will be a little faster now that I've knit it once (even with all the shaping reversed), and I think I may end up knitting both sleeves at the same time, which will be a little tedious but will ensure they are identical.


I'll leave you with a picture I snapped of one of our hydrangea bushes yesterday. The flowers have absolutely exploded in the last week, and I love that we're getting a range of shades even across the same plant. These are my favorite flowers in my garden, and when they bloom, I know it's summer!

Sunday, June 12, 2022

What to Spin Next?

Since I finished my most recent skein of handspun, I've been pondering what should go on the wheel next. I do know that it will be something out of the Southern Cross Fibre club backlog bag, and I was thinking it would make sense to spin up something to go with the most recent skein so that I have enough yardage to make something. I thought I had another colorway that looked similar, but when I pulled it out, it wasn't as I remembered. It might still work, but it also might be awful. For the sake of matching the yarn, I want something that is a wool blended with something shiny, and I came up with two wool/silk options:


On the left is Mending Fences from November 2018. I remembered it being more blue and yellow/gold and less brown and green. On the right is Forest Gathering from May 2019. I will likely end up spinning both, but of the two, which do you think is a better match for the existing skein? (Of course, I ask this knowing full well that often the finished yarn ends up looking much different from the fiber, so I may not be able to know which is the winner until I spin them both and compare the skeins.)

Friday, June 10, 2022

FO Friday, Handspun Edition

Today I'm following my annual tradition of taking one of my personal days off from work before it goes poof (we get two a year that have to be used by the end of the fiscal year -- June 30 -- or they're gone), and Rainbow and I have big plans. We're going to the hair salon to get haircuts later today, my first since last May and hers since pre-pandemic times, and I'm trying to convince her to take a walk over to our local independent bookstore this morning to pick up her summer reading book for school. But for now I'm enjoying my coffee and letting her sleep in.

It's been a while since I had a finished project to share, and this one is of the yarn variety. Remember the bobbin of singles I shared on Monday? By the end of the day, they had all been plied, and on Tuesday I skeined up the finished yarn and gave it a soak. And now I have a finished skein!

This was spun as part of my ongoing project to spin up my backlog of Southern Cross Fibre club shipments. This fiber was the oldest shipment I had in my stash, from way back in December 2015. As I mentioned before, I was intimidated at the time by the fiber blend -- 80% merino/20% rose fiber -- and so didn't spin it at the time. I think David was ahead of his time in using a blend with a manufactured cellulose fiber; I remember bamboo and tencel being pretty common at the time, but this was the first I had ever seen rose as a source. I'm not sure I realized then that rose fiber would be very similar to these other "vegan silks" and would spin up very similarly; once I started in on it, I felt silly for being so scared of messing it up. This blend was delightful to spin, and the only difficulty with it, if you can even call it that, was its tendency to want to be spun very fine -- something I wanted to do anyway!


Yarn spun from fine, crimpy wools like merino often fluff up when they're washed, but this really didn't, so the finished yarn is a light fingering weight. I spun the fiber end to end without splitting it and chain-plied it to maintain the colors. As you can tell, it's very shiny from the rose fiber, but what the photos can't convey is just how much drape there is to to this yarn. I didn't have any specific plans for this skein when I was spinning it other than to just convert it from fiber to yarn, but now I am thinking it would make an excellent light summery tee, though I'd need to be combine it with something else because there's "only" about 580 yards in this skein -- quite a lot for one skein of yarn, but not enough to cover my torso!


The moral of this story is not to be afraid to try something new just because it's new or unfamiliar -- you might wind up with something you love!

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Unraveled, Week 23/2022

It's officially summer vacation here chez Knit/Wit. My now seventh grader(!) is likely still asleep upstairs after staying up late because she could. She had two hours of school yesterday and then spent the day swimming and hanging out with her best friends, and she told me last night as I put her to bed that she feels like a huge amount of pressure has been lifted off her shoulders. That makes me very happy, even as I'm a little dismayed at how quickly she's growing up.

Today is Wednesday, which means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk about what I'm making and reading this week. Here's the current WIP roundup:


Two of these projects will look familiar: My brother's sweater front now has a completed pocket opening, and Rainbow's socks are a bit more than halfway done. But what are those orange things?

Our first floor and basement are all bare floors -- hardwood and tile. And I usually have cold feet, so I always wear slippers when I'm downstairs. But I have a habit of wearing out the lining of my slippers, so I thought I'd try making some wool insoles to see if I can extend the life of my current pair. I knit these up yesterday afternoon using yarn leftover from my second May(be) Queen. I had two partial skeins remaining, so I pulled from the inside and outside of both and held four strands together to create a dense, squishy fabric. As you may be able to guess from the tool and the foam pad they're sitting on above, I'm planning to needle-felt them to make them a bit more durable and stable. I used some of the instructions from the Woodland Loafers pattern to get me started but went off piste a bit after the middle part. Once I get these in use, I'll be able to make additional adjustments if I want to make more.

Reading has been very good this week -- I've finished four books!

Firekeeper's Daughter is a book that has been on my radar since last year, and I finally caught it when it was available with no wait from the library. It seemed like a good book to read alongside my ongoing reading of Louise Erdrich's books, as it's also set within the Ojibwe community. The main character, Daunis, is the daughter of an Ojibwe firekeeper (someone who is in charge of maintaining the fire used in tribe ceremonies) but isn't an enrolled member of the tribe, as her mother is not Indigenous. But her Indigenous blood is a critical part of her identity, particularly when she discovers that the tribe is being ripped apart by drug addiction and murder. Though this is classified as a YA novel, the subjects it deals with -- drug addiction, murder, sexual assault, violence against women -- are very mature, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to a younger reader. But I loved it and could not put it down. I gave it 5 stars.

For something a little lighter, I listened to As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride, read primarily by Cary Elwes but also featuring the voices of Rob Reiner, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Billy Chrystal, and Carol Kane. The movie is one of my all-time favorites; I received a copy on VHS from my parents as a gift for passing swimming levels at summer camp when I was just a kid. Even having seen it dozens of times and being able to recite quite a lot of the dialogue, I still learned new things about the film and the cast from listening to the book. I think this is one that really is better on audio, not least because you can hear Cary Elwes do some rather good impressions of some of his costars. It's not fine literature, but it's very enjoyable, especially when you need a bit of a break from heavier stuff. I gave it 4 stars.

My next finish was in a genre that's very much outside my comfort zone: horror. I am not one to read scary or gory books, but Mexican Gothic seemed to be one everyone was reading last summer, and I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. I really shouldn't have bothered. It is a little creepy when the weird things seem to be psychological, but when the mystery of what's going on is revealed, it's just plain laughable. The book is totally bananas! I didn't find it to be scary at all, and while there is some gore, I was able to skim through it pretty quickly. I'm sorry to say that the writing isn't anything stellar, either, and I only gave this book 2 stars rather than 1 because I have to give the author credit for coming up with a really creative explanation for all the weird stuff. If this is outside your comfort zone as well, don't bother with it.

Finally, just before bed last night, I finished the latest in my Louise Erdrich deep dive, The Beet Queen. Although some of the characters have Indigenous blood, they aren't the main focus in this book the way they are in most of her others, but some of those characters do make occasional appearances. This one focuses mainly on four women: cousins Sita and Mary, their childhood friend Celestine, and her daughter, Dot. We follow their stories over several decades and really get to know them inside and out. All of them are complex characters, with their own strengths and many flaws, and I enjoyed watching them age and deal with the men who come into and out of their lives. I gave this one 4 stars.


I'm currently reading A Girl Is a Body of Water, which is quite different book for me. It's set in Uganda in the 1970s and uses a lot of words/terms that I'm unfamiliar with, but I read a quarter of it in my first sitting, so it does not seem to be an issue. I'm also looking forward to picking up my next Erdrich, Four Souls.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, June 06, 2022

Really Almost Summer

I know that last week I implied that I'd be posting a Spinning Sunday update, but as is so often the case, life had other plans this weekend and I ended up being a lot busier than I thought I'd be. On Saturday, I was barely home, and I had to get creative to get my household cleaning done and squeeze in a walk (and I only managed about half of my usual distance). That meant the spinning I thought I'd be able to do did not get done, but there was knitting progress made!

Saturday morning Rainbow and I went to the zoo with my parents to see a talk given by the son of some of their good friends (and Florida neighbors), who has just published a book about sharks intended for a non-scientific audience. Our families have known each other for a long time, and I've known David since he was a little kid (I'm a few years older), so it was pretty cool to hear him speak and joke about how he is the number-one critic of Shark Week. I knit through the whole thing. After his talk, we stopped briefly to visit the red pandas (Rainbow's favorite at the zoo) but didn't stick around too long because it was a nice day and the place was packed. In the afternoon, Rainbow had a self-defense class at a local karate studio with some of the girls in her Girl Scout troop. I didn't know I'd need to stay for the full class until we were on the way there, but once again I had my knitting on hand. I had only shoved a sock on the needles into my small-ish purse, so I did not have a measuring tape with me and had only my foot to gauge the length. I stopped knitting a bit before the end of the class because it looked like I might be getting close to the toe -- these are Rainbow's socks, but her feet are now less than an inch shorter than mine.


I measured when I got home and the foot was exactly the right length before the toe, so I am glad I stopped when I did.

Meanwhile, I got the front of my brother's sweater back on track over the weekend, and though I'm not quite back to where I was when I discovered the problem, I'm very close. I should be back to where I was when I ripped by the end of the day.


What I mainly focused on yesterday, though, was finishing up the singles I've been spinning. Fine singles do take quite a bit of time to spin, particularly if they're being spun worsted, but the fiber left to spin was maybe a foot and a half long. And I did finish last night, though it was after dark and a bit too late to take  photo to do the colors justice. I really needed to wait for sunlight to share this:


I will likely start chain-plying today or tomorrow, which will take much less time than spinning the singles. I'm excited to get this spin finished up and start pondering what I will spin next!

Today, if you can believe it, is Rainbow's last full day of sixth grade. Tomorrow she has about two hours of school (their closing ceremonies assembly, with a graduation of sorts for the eighth grade). I can't believe that tomorrow I will have a seventh grader on summer break!

Friday, June 03, 2022

Sometimes That's the Way It Goes

Happy Friday, friends! For a short week, it's been long, and I'm very happy to see it come to an end -- especially the unseasonably hot weather we had earlier in the week. We had rain on and off yesterday, and this morning it's about 30 degrees cooler than it was. I'm looking forward to getting out for my walk this morning and not breaking out into a sweat in the first few minutes.

Somewhere along the way I seem to have a developed a reputation for being a knitter with a certain amount of expertise, and while I am happy to claim that reputation so far as it refers to my years of experience and experience with different knitting techniques, I want to dispel the idea that experienced knitters are perfect in any way or are somehow immune to making mistakes. I've been knitting for more than three decades and have done many things, but I can still be tripped up by very simple things -- like reading directions carefully.

Last night I sat down to work on the right front of my brother's sweater. I've gotten to the pocket portion, where the knitting is divided into two strips to create a vertical slit and then joined again to close it, and I was ready to work up the narrower strip. As I joined the yarn and started the first row, though, I realized that something was off because I had an extra stitch. Do you know why? Because I had put the wrong number of stitches on waste yarn -- meaning that one of those stitches was meant to be included in the panel I'd just finished knitting. And as it was meant to be along the edge of that panel, there was no way to fix it. So that meant unraveling, and here's where things stand now:


I know a less-experienced knitter would have been really upset about a mistake like this. But my years of knitting have taught me that sometimes this is the way knitting goes -- and the same could be said for life. We make mistakes, we recognize them, and then we go back and fix them if we can.

I hope you have the best weekend available to you, and with any luck, I will have a Spinning Sunday update!

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Unraveled, Week 22/2022

Happy June, friends! Thanks to the long weekend, it's already Wednesday, and that means time to check in with Kat and the Unravelers. Let's take a look at the status of my WIPs:


This is not a particularly artistic photo, but it was meant to be informative. These are my three active WIPs. On the left is the first You're Mer-Mazing sock for Rainbow, which has just started to get its heel. In the middle is the first of the fronts of my brother's sweater. I have gotten to the split for the pocket (if you look closely, you'll see a group of stitches on waste yarn on the left-hand side of it). I'll admit I have not given this project much attention in the last few days and really need to focus on it to get it done in time. And finally on the right is Rainbow's handspun Hitchhiker.

Do we see a theme here? No current projects on the needles for me? That may be why I've been spending a lot of time lately on spinning.


I think I'm about halfway done with the merino/rose singles, which I'm able to spin while reading an ebook, so that's another explanation for why this project has gotten more attention lately.

Speaking of reading, although I just did a big update on Friday, I have two more finishes to share since then!

I was still waiting patiently for Sorrow and Bliss as an ebook from the library last week when, on a whim, I checked to see if it was available on Hoopla (which has a more limited selection overall but no wait for what is available). To my delight, it was there as an audiobook, so I borrowed it immediately and listened to it over the course of a few days. I loved this book, and it felt like an excellent one to wrap up my reading of the Women's Prize short list. I know many of you have read this already and already know this, but the book centers around Martha who suffers from an unnamed (and, the author says, wholly invented) mental illness that causes her to have difficult interpersonal relationships. I don't think it's just that Martha and I are the same age or that I also have a history of mental illness, but I identified with her a great deal. I thought the writing was witty and that the author did an equally good job of describing the highs and lows of Martha's life. I gave it 5 stars.


Just yesterday I finished my latest Louise Erdrich, Tracks. This book was written before The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse, but I'm glad I read it after. This shorter novel alternates chapters between two of the characters at the heart of the later novel, Nanapush and Pauline (aka Sister Leopolda), and gives us further insight into them and into the character of Fleur Pillager. There's also more detail given into two surprise revelations in Last Report, though I suppose if I had read the books in the order in which they were written, they would not have been surprises after all. As per usual with Erdrich, the writing is phenomenal, and it took me a little more than a week to read this 226-page book because I was taking my time to fully savor the language. It did not disappoint. I gave it 4 stars.



It appears that I am having a moment in my reading with Ojibwe writers, because in addition to getting ready to begin my next Erdrich novel, I'm fully immersed in Firekeeper's Daughter, a more recent novel by an Indigenous author. I'm about a third of the way through and can't put it down, so here's hoping work cooperates and gives me plenty of time to read!

What are you making and reading this week?


Monday, May 30, 2022

Growth in 2022: May

I'm not sure why it is that it seems like the days go faster as they get longer; this month has gone by incredibly quickly, and I'll admit I was a little surprised at the fact that it's already the last Monday of the month. That means it's time to check in with my One Little Word. Thanks to Carolyn for hosting our monthly OLW link-up!

I was honestly struggling to come up with an example of how I've experienced Growth this past month, because there didn't seem to be anything obvious. But one lesson that I seem to be getting regularly this year is that often the growth I experience isn't obvious and. it takes some real reflection to find it. And that was the case in May.

You're all probably aware that I am on our synagogue's board because I have mentioned some marathon board meetings in the past six months or so. We've been dealing with some Very Big Issues that have required a lot of mentally and emotionally taxing discussions, and this volunteer position has turned out to be a much bigger time commitment than I anticipated. When this first started, I was at the beginning of my second three-year term on the board, and I was already saying to my family that I was glad that after this term I'd be required by the bylaws to rotate off the board. But somewhere along the way, I found myself actually valuing these meetings, as painful as they have been, and finding that my commitment to the board and to the organization has grown. And I surprised myself earlier this month by accepting a nomination to serve on the board's executive committee as secretary.

It's not a done deal yet -- the slate of officers and board members has to be approved by the entire congregation at the annual meeting, and because of the recent upheaval, there's a chance that a group of congregants will try to install their own slate on the board -- but I think that I've accepted the nomination to a position that means more service and more hours of involvement shows some growth on my part. I am generally not a person who proactively tries to lead or take on leadership roles, as I am shy by nature and generally prefer to be working in the background, but I've realized that by making a bigger commitment to things that are important to me, I can make a bigger impact and get more out of the experience.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Finding Comfort in Pages

It's been a rough week, and the news seems to keep getting worse. I am thankful this week for the many strategies I've learned through years of therapy that keep me from giving in to the darkness. I am thankful that my own kid is well and safe. And I am thankful for books that have given me a much-needed distraction when the news has been too much. I am someone who will fixate on upsetting things given the opportunity, so when the events of the world are upsetting, it's good for me to have a way to step back from them for a bit. My crafting, of course, is always soothing, but it often leaves my mind to wander. So I thought today I'd share some of the books I've read this past week that have helped me to focus on something other than the news for a bit.

Since my last reading update, I've finished five books.

I was really excited to read The Island of Missing Trees after hearing several of you rave about it and after waiting for it from the library for quite a while. But I am sorry to say that it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I'm not sure if I set them too high or what, but I didn't think the writing was as strong as it was in the previous book I read by the author. I did really enjoy the chapters that are narrated by a fig tree (yes, you read that correctly) and learning a bit more about the conflict between Greeks and Turks on Cyprus, but the rest fell a bit flat for me. Everything seemed a little too convenient for the characters and how their lives intersected -- certainly in fiction, that's the author's right, but it didn't feel realistic to me. I'll say I enjoyed the book, but it didn't blow me away. I gave it 3 stars.

Inspired by Bonny, I listened to the audiobook of Island of the Blue Dolphins over the course of last Friday. I knew that I had loved this book when I first read it in the fourth(?) grade, but I remembered nothing about it other than the basic premise of the plot. As I listened, I remembered why I had enjoyed it so much as a young girl. Karana is an inspirational character, and I loved her grit and determination in finding a away to survive on her own on her island. I don't think I knew until I got to the author's note at the end, however, that she was based on an actual person. I know this is one of several Scott O'Dell books I read back in elementary school, so perhaps I will revisit more of them soon. I gave this one 4 stars.

I finally finished Young Mungo after just barely starting it when we had our unexpected vacation extension in Florida last month. I mentioned last week that I was finding it troubling to read, but I am really glad that I stuck with it. It is a hard book -- it deals with alcoholism, parental neglect, sexual abuse, violence, homophobia, and many other serious topics -- but all the hard stuff is written about with such sensitivity. I could really see Douglas Stuart's growth as a writer from his debut novel, and I have to say that while this second novel was more difficult for me to read, I also enjoyed it more. I am really looking forward to the discussion about this one with the Read With Us group. I gave it 4 stars.


Last weekend I was looking in my Libby app for an audiobook to keep me company on my walks and while doing the weekly bathroom cleaning, and I found that Take My Hand was available with no wait (surprisingly, because it just came out last month). I'd heard about it on the What Should I Read Next podcast several weeks ago and bookmarked it at the time. This book takes place primarily in the early '70s in Alabama, though there are also some chapters set in more recent years. Civil Townsend is a newly minted nurse who is starting her first job at a federally funded family planning clinic. In the wake of the revelations about the Tuskegee experiment, she uncovers what may be yet another case of the U.S. government taking advantage of people of color and people who are poor. I could not stop listening to this book and finished it the day after I started. I gave it 5 stars and highly recommend it!

Finally, yesterday I finished The Bread the Devil Knead, which I'd picked up several weeks ago when it was a Kindle deal thanks to Katie. At 209 pages, this book wasn't very long, but it was a bit of a challenge to read, both because it's written in Trinidadian Creole and because it deals with some pretty heavy subjects (intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, incest). That said, I quickly grew used to the language -- though I frequently Googled some of the terms to figure out what they were -- and felt it was a worthwhile read. The emotional journey that the main character goes on over the course of the novel, in which we see how the trauma she endured as a child has influenced her decisions and her life as an adult, is both heartbreaking and inspiring. I gave it 4 stars.


I am currently listening to Sorrow and Bliss, which is the last title I have left to have read all the finalists for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction. And I am roughly halfway through Tracks, my latest Louise Erdrich, which I'm hoping to finish up in the next couple of days (it's only around 200 pages or so). It's a long weekend here in the United States this weekend, and I'm officially done with work at 2 p.m. today, so I am hoping for some more good reading to help me work through my sadness and rage.

I wish you the very best weekend possible. Don't forget to look for beauty and joy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

I Have No Words

Normally today I'd be posting an Unraveled Wednesday post. But after the events in Texas yesterday, following so closely on the heels of the events in Buffalo last week, I just can't. I feel like this country is irrevocably broken in that we've completely lost the regard for human life.

Because I feel like there's not much I can do to remedy this situation, I am doing the one thing I can: contacting my elected officials and asking them to take swift action on gun control. I urge you to do the same. I used Resistbot to contact my two senators and my representative all at once, but feel free to use any method that works for you. I don't if it'll do any good, to be honest, but it's all I have the power to do at this moment.

If you have kids, hold them and tell them you love them.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Thanks to a Rainy Sunday

I suspect this is going to be a short post given that I published my last one less than 24 hours ago, but I need to get my day started and a short post will help with that! Yesterday afternoon, following some decidedly unseasonable heat on Friday and Saturday, we had a cold front move through, bringing us some rain. The Mister decided to use the time for napping and Rainbow had some homework to finish up, so I gladly listened to an audiobook (which you'll hear about on Wednesday) and worked on my brother's sweater. And look what I have to show for it!


The back is officially complete, except for weaving in a couple of ends. I'm a little miffed that I had to join a new ball of yarn to do half a row and the bind off, but there's nothing I can do about that. I know this looks rather narrow, but keep in mind that this stitch pattern is a combination of cables and ribbing, and it's knit in superwash wool, so it is going to block out a bit wider. Now on to the fronts! They'll be a bit more involved because they incorporate pockets, but I'm looking forward to shorter rows that I hope translate to faster progress.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Return of Spinning Sunday

It's been a long time since I last published a Spinning Sunday post. Do you remember when they were a weekly thing? I've obviously been in some kind of funk with my spinning, because this skein took me a good three months to spin; in the past, I've spun an entire sweater's quantity of yarn in less time than that. I'm not sure what caused it, but I'm trying not to analyze it too much and instead focus on going forward.

This finished skein started with three bags of fiber from the Ross Farm, two faun-colored CVM and one chocolate brown Romney. I weighed all the fiber beforehand and had 114 g of the CVM and 50 g of the Romney (a total of 164 g or about 5.78 oz.), so I knew that if I spun a ply from each back of fiber, the Romney was going to run out before the CVM did and, if I wanted to use up all the singles or as much as I could, I'd have a section of the skein that was CVM only, though the majority of it would be a slightly marled three-ply yarn. If you look closely at the finished yarn, you can see a definite difference in texture, which I attribute to the slightly different characteristics of the two wool breeds -- the CVM having more crimp than the Romney and thus making the yarn that contains both breeds a little bumpy and textured after washing.


All the fiber was roving, meaning it was carded and all the fibers were jumbled, so the surface of the finished yarn is much more uneven than what you might be used to seeing from me. I think part of the reason the spinning took as long as it did is because I was stopping so frequently to pull out VM (the fiber was minimally processed) and neps.


I'd spun this yarn with the intention of using it as the contrast color in the matching Garland and Little Garland (Ravelry links) sweaters I want to knit for me and Rainbow later this year. It's definitely the fingering weight I need, though certainly a bit more thick and thin than the main yarn, and I have more than enough yardage, at approximately 545 yards in this skein. I think it goes really well with the combo spin yarn that will be the main color, too:


I'm determined to keep the spinning going at a more reasonable pace now, and to that end, I started my next project yesterday. This is the oldest Southern Cross Fibre club shipment in my stash, from December 2015, and as predicted, it wants to be spun as very fine singles:

For those of you outside the U.S., that's a dime/10 cent coin, approximately 1.7 cm in diameter.
 



It turns out that rose fiber has a very similar feel to bamboo, tencel, and other faux silks I've spun over the years. It's a bit slippery, but it's nothing I can't handle. I am spinning the fiber from one end to the other and will chain-ply the singles in the end for what I imagine will be a yarn with tons of shine and drape.