Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Unraveled, Week 13/2022

Well, we've arrived at the final Wednesday in March -- can you believe we're almost a quarter of the way through this new year already? As per usual, I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers today to talk crafting and reading.

My May(be) Queen is continuing to grow at a surprising pace. I think I have about 30 rounds (give or take, considering they include short rows) of the body left to knit before I get to the ribbing at the bottom. I've decided that instead of the called-for split hem at the bottom, I'm going to keep working in the round and take advantage of the short rows for a high-low hem at the bottom.

I'm still using the two original skeins of yarn, and I'm waiting to see if I'll get the entire body out of them or if I'll have to join a third skein. (One of them is smaller than the other because I didn't alternate skeins on the collar or for the original short-row shaping that raised the back of the neck; I thought that section was complicated enough without having to wrangle multiple strands on top of it.)

Although I thought I'd make quick work of Rainbow's socks on this trip, I've really only been working on them when we've gone out for dinner. Last night we went out with some friends of my parents' and sat outside in a garden patio area that was really lovely. I only knit on the first sock a little, but I've started the toe, so it should be finished up soon.

I've also taken a little break from these projects to make some practical items. My mother has a habit (a bad one, in my opinion) of using paper towels to wipe up water splashes on her kitchen counters. I use dishcloths for this at home, so I thought I make her some while we're here. On one of our first evenings here last week, we went out for a early dinner at a restaurant that's right next to a Michaels, and we walked over after we were finished eating because Rainbow wanted to find some fancy coloring books. I had my mother pick out some kitchen cotton and grabbed a pair of straight needles (because they were the only option in metal -- I could not fathom knitting cotton on wood needles!), and so far I've knit up two cloths for her, with plans to knit another pair.

There's something so comforting about knitting a simple dishcloth, isn't there?

Reading has been good as well. I've finished two books this past week.

I had heard of The Blue Castle when it was the subject of an episode of the Novel Pairings podcast last summer, but I have to thank Katie for tipping me off when it was a Kindle deal last month for about 30 cents. It was an easy, light read that was just perfect after finishing some harder books. Valancy Stirling is no Anne Shirley, but I did enjoy her determination to live her life to the fullest when she learns that her life may not last much longer. I thought that the ending wrapped up a little too perfectly, but sometimes a predictable, happy ending is what we all need. I gave this one 3 stars -- it was enjoyable, but I like Anne much better as a main character.

It's a good thing I had a fluffy read last week because just as I was approaching the end of it, I got notice from the library that The Five Wounds was ready for me. I know many of you have already read it, and it was the last book I needed to read to have gotten through all the books on the Aspen Words Literature Prize short list. I have to say that this is not the sort of book I'd normally pick, and I found a lot of it to be really depressing. I don't normally mind books about families with issues, but I find it really hard to read about people who can't seem to get their lives together. I did feel invested in the family at the center of the book and was fairly satisfied at where they ended up in the end, but much of the book left me feeling uncomfortable. I gave it 3.5 stars.

While I'm continuing to dip into Braiding Sweetgrass while we're here, I'm also listening to My Life in Middlemarch while I walk as a way to revisit the book without having to read it again, and yesterday I started A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. I'm waiting for my next library hold, which I expect to be a major project.

How about you -- what are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 28, 2022

Growth in 2022: March

Somehow we've arrived at the last week of March -- how did that happen? March always feels extra long to me, perhaps because it seems to contain both winter and spring (and in Western Pennsylvania, we often go back and forth between the two seasons several times over the course of the month). This year, though, it seemed to go very quickly, probably because I was busy with a number of work and personal things. This past week finally slowed down a bit (likely because I wasn't running around doing errands and school pickup and such), but I'm still surprised that it'll be April at the end of the week.

Seeing as it is the final Monday of the month, though, it's time for my monthly check-in with my One Little Word. Thanks, as always, to Carolyn for hosting our monthly link-up.

Thinking about Growth this month, I thought immediately about how I've approached some knitting challenges in a new way. There are techniques that I've long shied away from doing or trying because I had it in my head that they were hard. But can't that be said about anything that's new or that you haven't done before? Perhaps a task is hard or will take a significant amount of effort. And that might be the case, either because something requires a lot of skill or because you just haven't learned how to do it yet. But what I've found in this last month is that my perception often drastically overestimates reality. In the case of a tubular cast-on, one new thing I tried this month, it wasn't hard at all -- I just needed the right instructions for me. Similarly, I have a bad habit of putting off things that are uncomfortable for me because I think they will take a lot of time and/or emotional effort, but when I actually sit down to do them, they're a lot faster and less taxing. 

I think what it all comes down to is that I have to stop underestimating myself. I am a smart, capable woman. I have the knowledge, the skill, and the intelligence to do most things I want to do. I may not be good at everything I set my mind to do, and there may be things that I'll never be good at, but I shouldn't let the fear of not being perfect at something right away keep me from it altogether. And perhaps I need to get myself one of these shirts to give myself a constant reminder.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Fit Check? Check!

I promised you a modeled photo of my sweater, and I'm delighted that I can follow through on that promise! Last night I decided I had enough fabric knit under the arms for the sweater to be stable enough to try on, and Rainbow was nice enough to take some photos for me.

It's a little hard to tell here, but the fit is perfect. There's just enough positive ease that it's comfortable but not so much that it's baggy. I think you can see the difference best if you compare this photo to the one of me trying on the previous iteration of this sweater when I was more or less in the same point in the pattern. It's worth noting that the shirt I was wearing yesterday was also a looser fit. I'm also glad that I made the decision to add length to the collar. The collar looks a little chunkier now, but I think it will keep the top of the sweater in place and also keep my neck a bit warmer.

I knew going into this version of the sweater that the fabric was going to be quite different -- there's a big difference between a superwash merino/nylon and a rustic, somewhat crunchy Romney/Falkland! Where I'm seeing it the most, however, is at the side panels. I was a little dissatisfied with this area in the first sweater because I thought the increases looked a little sloppy. Everything is nice and tidy with this yarn, though!

There's so much more body and structure to this yarn, and while it's not going to be as drapey as the first sweater, I think I'm going to like this version even more because it's holding its shape so well.

It's another beautiful, warm day here in SW Florida, and I'm planning to get in another long walk once I get through some work. Tomorrow we're driving to the opposite coast to see my aunt and uncle, so there will be plenty of knitting time in the car there and back -- and of course it will be wonderful to see family we haven't seen since last summer. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Unraveled, Week 12/2022

I noted in my journal last night that despite the fact that I'm not really on vacation, it feels enough like I am that I'm having a little difficulty keeping track of what day it is. But I've confirmed that it is, indeed, Wednesday, which means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers.

I have been doing a TON of knitting so far this week. Remember how little my sweater yoke looked on Monday morning? Here it is now, about five rounds from sleeve/body separation:

The circumference of the knitting is obviously larger than the length of my needle at this point, so it's a little hard to visualize, but I think you get the point. I'm hoping work will be quiet enough today to get me to the split and that by the next time I share an update on this project, I'll be modeling it rather than laying it on the floor for a photo.

I'm working on Rainbow's socks as well and have just finished the heel, but I'll refrain from sharing another photo for now.

Reading has been pretty good this past week. I finally had some time to read for an extended period toward the end of last week, and of course I've gotten a lot done since we've come down to Florida.

It took me longer than it should given how short the book is (120-ish pages with illustrations), but I finally finished A Spindle Splintered last week. I had preordered a hard copy of this novella last year without knowing anything about it other than that it was by Alix E. Harrow, and I was trusting I would like it because I've loved her two novels. I really enjoyed this one as well. It's a modern take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, with some magic realism twists. It was a little disappointing to me only because it was short and I would have liked more, but Harrow's characters are so enjoyable and her writing is excellent. I'm glad I have a hard copy of this to keep on my bookshelf because it's really a beautiful book to look at as well as to read. I gave it 4 stars.

Around the end of last week I also reread a book that I had first read on audio earlier in the year. Assembly was a very short listen, but the format is a bit unusual and there's a lot packed into very few pages, so I wanted to reread it with my eyes to make sure I really got it all. I didn't change my rating, but I will say that I appreciated it even more on the second read. I also made a bunch of notes and highlights, which you can see here if you're interested.

Finally, after trying to get through it but not having enough time to read for a number of days, I finished The Arsonists' City on Monday. This was one of two books I had not yet read from those on the Aspen Words Literary Prize short list and one that I'd been wanting to read even before the short list was announced. This is a book that is not a particularly fast read, but that's mainly because it's a very expansive story of a family that spans decades and continents. Beirut (which is, presumably, the city meant by the title, though that's never made completely clear) is the center of all the family stories, and the book addresses a number of big issues: relationships, nationality, political strife, sexual orientation, colonialism, etc. I really enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently waiting on a number of library holds and am reading The Blue Castle in the meantime as a more lighthearted break from the heavier, "chewier" stories. I also brought Braiding Sweetgrass down with me and hope to spend some time with it by pool this weekend.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 21, 2022

Dispatches from the Remote Remote Office

Good morning, friends! It doesn't feel like Monday to me after this past weekend, but I did remember to log in to my work email, so that's something! We arrived safely in Florida after a very early start on Saturday -- my alarm went off at 3 a.m. -- and got in on time and without a hitch. Some very good family friends (my best friend's parents who are like a second set of parents to me) were here for a visit before going to see their youngest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson in Miami, so we were able to have brunch with them right after we arrived, and then we spent the day relaxing outside before we all turned in early. Both Rainbow and I slept about 10 hours Saturday night! 

Yesterday we all felt more human and I was able to go for a long walk. I've only been down here at this time of year once before, a number of years ago, and it's interesting to see how much is different compared to December. There are plants and flowers blooming that aren't when we're here at the holidays, and even the wildlife is different. Usually in December there are tons of ducks around (there are lots of ponds in the housing development), but yesterday I saw only two on my walk. I have, however, seen a lot of birds we don't normally see up North. I am relatively new to birding, having only downloaded the Merlin app and started tracking the birds I see late last year, but I added four new birds to my life list yesterday, including the very first pileated woodpecker I've ever seen in real life -- it was so much bigger than I expected!

My knitting goal while we're here is to get as much done on my May(be) Queen as I can. I had finished the collar before we left, and yesterday I was able to get through the short-row shaping and start the yoke. It doesn't look like much yet, but I can tell that it's definitely progressing faster than my first one because I am more familiar with the pattern this time around and understand what I'm supposed to be doing, so I am not flipping back and forth as much.

I have about 40 or so more rounds before the sleeve separation, which doesn't seem like much except that there are increases every other round. But, given that I don't have to worry about cooking meals, packing lunches, or doing school pick-ups this week, I do have some more time in my day, so I'm trying to take full advantage of it.

Though it feels like I'm on vacation, I am still working while we're here, so I'm going to stop here for today. I'll leave you with one of my favorite views from the neighborhood here, though, so if you need a little mental vacation today, click to embiggen and join me here for a few minutes:

Have a great start to your week!

Friday, March 18, 2022

We're a Go

Well friends, we have made it to Friday. I still have to make it through this work day, but I feel like I'm over a big hump and can let some of the weight off my shoulders now. Rainbow wrapped up her school play with the second performance last night (she was on the stage crew), and she'll officially be on spring break starting at 3:10 this afternoon. We are mostly packed for our trip, with everything in suitcases other than a few items that need to be washed today and the last-minute toiletries and electronics. And work was calm enough yesterday that I could take care of a few things I'd been waiting days to do, like weaving in the ends on that brioche cowl!

Yesterday was busy, but without the frenetic pace of the first part of the week. I took a detour on my usual walk to go into my office (which I had not been to since sometime last year) and pick up my brand-new work laptop -- yes, it took more than two years, but they finally got me a work computer! It's very shiny and fast, and I'm looking forward to getting acquainted with it after our trip (I didn't want to have to take two computers with me, so I'm sticking with my five-year-old personal computer for now). During my team meeting yesterday, I started the second stripe of Rainbow's blanket:

The way this blanket is made is to crochet strips with diagonal stripes that will then be sewn together to form the chevrons. Some of the stripes will be green and white and others will be pink and white. I'm thinking it might be fun to alternate the colors (so a green and white strip will be sewn to a pink and white strip), but ultimately Rainbow will have to decide how they're arranged.

Last night I did something I've never done before -- and it turned out to be much easier than I thought! I completed my very first tubular cast-on.

I used this video tutorial and discovered that it's a method I could have been using for a long time had I just bothered to see how it was done. Really all that's involved is a provisional cast on and four rounds of knitting or purling every other stitch and slipping the stitches in between. Then you literally just pull out the waste yarn. Genius! This is once instance where I'm really thankful to have picked Growth as my word this year, as it's given me motivation to try new things that I've always believed were difficult solely due to my ignorance.

The cast-on was, if you haven't already guessed, for the start of my May(be) Queen, which is coming with me on the trip along with the socks for Rainbow that I shared on Wednesday. I'm not taking the crochet blanket because it's just a little too big. But given how quickly I can knit socks, especially if they're just stockinette, I thought I'd take another project with me in case I need something fairly mindless once the socks are done. And for this, I have to thank Bonny for the inspiration.

These are the leftovers from my Shifty sweater, approximately 940 yards, that I'm going to use for a big Hitchhiker. I think I should be able to get a pretty sizeable shawl out of these bits and pieces, and of course knitting with handspun is always a joy, so perhaps those long rows won't be quite such a slog.

I am off to take a vigorous walk that I'm hoping will tire me out early tonight -- my wake-up call will be at around 3 a.m. for our 5:55 a.m. flight! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you next time from further south!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Unraveled, Week 11/2022

This morning I'm simultaneously having two thoughts: "Yay, it's already Wednesday!" and "Ugh, it's only Wednesday?" It's been a very busy week at work and in life (lots of things happening in the evenings this week), and I'm hoping that today finally brings a bit of calm. For one thing, I need to pack for my trip and would prefer not to to have to do it the night before we leave, particularly as our flight is at 5:55 a.m. on Saturday!

Because there's a lot of work still to do, I'm going to try to keep this as short and sweet as I can. It is Wednesday, so that means linking up with Kat and the Unravelers and chatting about making and reading.

To give you an idea of just how busy things are, I finished up my brioche cowl on Monday evening during a board meeting, and I still have yet to fasten off the last stitch and weave in the two ends. But it's done!

It's also clearly in need of a good blocking! This will be more obvious when it's worn, but it's designed to be a close-fitting cowl that then spreads out to sit on the shoulders. As you can see, I played a bit of yarn chicken toward the end and was very relieved to have won that round!

Since then, I've started two new projects, both of which are small (well, one is small for the time being only):

These are both projects for Rainbow -- a pair of socks in some stash yarn from a number of years ago that I thought was just variegated but actually was dyed to form wavy stripes(!) and the start of a C2C blanket for her that will be crochets in striped strips and then joined to form chevrons. The blanket is using some sport-weight baby acrylic that my mother passed along to me several years go when she lost interest; once upon a time, she used to crochet baby blankets and buntings.

Reading time has not been very plentiful this week due to my busy schedule, and while I did finish two books in the past week, both were read over the weekend.

I had put Small Things Like These on hold at the library a long time ago when one of you mentioned it on your blog (maybe Bonny?). It's a very short book, a total of 70 pages in the Kindle version, so I read it in a couple of hours on Saturday, borrowing it from the library and returning it that same day. I did enjoy it, but it felt more like a short story than a novel to me, and I felt a little unsatisfied at the ending. I would have liked a few more chapters to find out what happened next. I gave it 3 stars.

I'd been wanting to read Dani Shapiro's memoir Inheritance pretty much since it came out, and after hearing her interviewed on a podcast last week, I decided to see if it was available from my library as an audiobook. Indeed it was, and narrated by the author herself. I really enjoyed this one, I think in large part because I really identified with the author's struggle to reconcile what she believed to be her Ashkenazi Jewish heritage with what she learned from her DNA test. There is something fierce about claiming Eastern European Jewish ancestry because so many tried to wipe us out; claiming that identity is an act of defiance. So I am not surprised that her revelation threw her sense of self-identity into such turmoil. I gave this book 5 stars and now really want to read more of her work.

I am currently in the middle of The Arsonists' City, which I am enjoying a lot, though I haven't found much time to get deeper into it. I also just got a notification that my hold on the ebook version of Assembly is ready for me; I want to reread it with my eyes because I know there's a lot I missed in the audio and want to be able to highlight. And I'm also still in the middle of A Spindle Splintered and would really like to finish that up before we leave!

How about you? What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 14, 2022

That Worked Out Well

I am dragging a bit this morning, as I often am on a Monday (and even more so on a Monday after we lose an hour of sleep), but it's going to be a busy week and I have to get moving. The good news is that there's something to look forward to at the end of it: Rainbow and I will be leaving early -- very early -- Saturday morning for two weeks in Florida. Even though I'll be working for those two weeks, it'll be so much better than working remotely from home, especially because this is what we woke up to on Saturday morning:

They were calling for 3-6 inches, but we ended up with 8, breaking a record set back in the '60s. Rainbow was supposed to have a long play rehearsal at school on Saturday (she's on the stage crew), but they wisely canceled on Friday, so we all enjoyed sleeping in and having pancakes for breakfast. All this white stuff should be gone soon, because today we're supposed to get into the mid-50s, but I am ready for winter to be really over.

Thank you for all your very kind comments on my Shifty on Friday! I wore it that day and am wearing it again today. It's incredibly comfortable and fits perfectly, so I have a feeling it's going to be a regular feature of my wardrobe. Now that it's done, I'm focused on finishing up my other WIP, the rainbow-ish brioche cowl, which is getting very close to the finish line:

I'm pretty much knitting until I run out of yarn, and you can see that there's not much left. I'm also increasing 8 stitches every other round, which is why it looks all bunched up. I can't wait to show you what it looks like when it's not all bunched up, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that I'll finish it today -- I have a team meeting for work this morning and another board meeting this evening, so that's a lot of time sitting and listening to people that I'll need my knitting for in order to stay engaged.

And because I finally finished my Shifty, I allowed myself to wind the yarn for my next sweater over the weekend:

Yep, I'm doing it: I'm knitting May(be) Queen again, this time in the correct size for me (notice the highlighted size -- and yes, I did intentionally choose a highlighter color to match my yarn, thank you very much). I think the second go on this pattern should be a lot easier because I've gotten to know the pattern from the first attempt and also know how I want to adapt it a bit for the second. I'm hoping to get started this week, but this will be coming to Florida as my main project.

I hope your Monday is gentle to you!

Friday, March 11, 2022

FO Friday, Finally

I know some of you have been waiting for this post for a while, and I'm sorry that I'm posting it so late in the day, but Rainbow and I had an orthodontist appointment at 7:15 this morning, after which I took her directly to school, and then I had to wait until after school for photos because she is now my official photographer!

But before I get to the FO in question, I wanted to say thank you to those of you who purchased patterns on my birthday. When I came up with the idea for the fundraiser, I though maybe would raise $100, but I thought that might be stretching it. I suppose I really underestimated the generosity of knitters, because when I sat down yesterday morning to total up all the sales, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the final number. Rounding up to the nearest $5, I was able to make a donation of a whopping $515 to the International Rescue Committee, which their website tells me is more than enough to equip a mobile clinic. I should also mention that my father saw my mention of this fundraiser on Twitter and was really touched by it; it was his father who came from Kyiv, and as he said to me, if things had been just a little different, he might be there today.

Now, here's what I know you've all been waiting for: My Shifty is done -- ends woven in and trimmed, blocked, and photographed! And I couldn't be more delighted with how it turned out!

Pattern: Shifty by Andrea Mowry, size 2/34 in. bust
Yarn: handspun in six colorways from Southern Cross Fibre -- First Star, Ice Caves, and Deep Ocean (main colors, top to bottom) and Autumn's Last Breath, Sunrise Sunset, and A New Hope (contrast colors, top to bottom) -- a total of 391 g or approximately 1,316 yards
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm) and US 1 (2.25 mm)
Started/Completed: September 9, 2021/March 9, 2022 -- yes, I started on my half-birthday and finished it on my birthday!
Mods: added length to the body and the sleeves by repeating the pattern and incorporating a couple more pairs of decreases to sleeves for a snug fit at the wrist

This sweater has been in the works for quite a while. I started the spinning the yarn last May and finished the sixth and final skein in August, but I waited to cast on for the sweater until the Pigskin Party started in September because I thought it would be a big points earner for me (and it would have, had I actually finished it in time). The truth of the matter is that I got distracted by other things, and this sweater got shoved aside for weeks or months at a time due to no fault of its own. The pattern is very clear, and once you have the mosaic pattern memorized and have completed the yoke increases, it's very easy to go on autopilot and cruise down the body. The sleeves required a bit more attention because there were decreases involved, but the way the pattern is written, it's easy enough to check off each section and pop in a decrease when you need to.

My plan when I was spinning the yarn for this was to use three colorways that were all heavily blue for the main color and to knit them in a light-to-dark progression. The contrast colors all complemented the main colors they'd appear next to. I staggered the change in colors so that the main color and the contrast color didn't switch over at the same time in the hope that the transitions would look a little less obvious, but the nature of handspun being what it is means that I do have some pretty obvious lines where the main color changed over. I really don't mind and I love how the colors change and interact with one another. When I knit the sleeves, I made sure to switch the colors in the same spot that I did on the body; the only difference is that I needed more length in the sleeves, so they have three more pattern repeats than the body.

The only real modifications to the pattern I made were the additional length on body and sleeves (I wanted to cover everything -- I run cold!) and to slightly adjust the length of the hems. The body was meant to have 2 inches of ribbing at the bottom but I stopped at 1.5 inches, in part because I wanted to make sure I reserved enough yarn for the sleeves and in part because I was starting to lose my will to live from knitting that much 1x1 rib. For the sleeves, I made the ribbing twice as long as called for (2 inches total) to ensure that they came all the way down to my hands and serve to keep the cold out. I did a tubular bind-off on all the hems (excluding the neckline -- I still have to learn a tubular cast-on) and only managed to botch the last sleeve, which I discovered as I encountered a dropped stitch as I was weaving in ends. I used a Handi-tool to ladder it back up and tacked it back down. I can't even find where that was now, given how dark the yarn is, so I'm leaving it that way and not worrying about it anymore.

While I spun the yarn for this sweater with this pattern in mind, it's also made me think about my handspun stash in a new way. I have lots of single skeins that don't have enough yardage for a garment on their own, but many of them (particularly those spun from fiber from the same dyer, as dyers often produce colors that go well together) could easily be combined to make something bigger. There really is nothing quite like knitting with yarn you've made yourself, and certainly it's a guaranteed way to end up with a sweater that is truly one of a kind.

Finally, I made a little slideshow to show the progression from yarn to project to finished garment. Fingers crossed that this works!

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Unraveled, Week 10/2022

Friends, it has been A Day already -- and it's only mid-morning! I had an early dentist appointment this morning and then started to get a migraine aura as I sat down to breakfast. As if that wasn't enough, it started snowing! This was my view on the way home from my appointment (don't worry, I was stopped at a red light) -- locals or those familiar with Pittsburgh will recognize the building at the center whose top floors are obscured here:

And have I mentioned it's my birthday today? This is not at all how I envisioned the day going, but the pain is subsiding and the house is quiet, so I guess it can only get better from here.

As it is Wednesday, that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers. I had so hoped to have a finished and modeled sweater to share with you this morning. Alas, I have gotten buried under work this week with a 40+-page magazine layout that has to get finished today, and I just haven't had much time to knit in the evenings. But I promise it's going to be done today, come hell or or high water (or snow drifts?), because here is where things stand with my Shifty:

I finished the rest of the patterned rounds on the second sleeve last night and have just started the cuff as I've been catching up on blogs this morning. I just need to finish that cuff and weave in the ends and it will be DONE. I hereby promise an official FO post this Friday.

Reading has been mostly good this week. I've finished three books and really enjoyed two of them.

My first finish, The Last Rose of Shanghai, was an Amazon First Reads selection set in Shanghai in the early 1940s and centers around the relationship between a Chinese woman and a Jewish refugee man. It sounded intriguing to me because I'd only recently become aware of Jewish refugees who fled Europe for China in WWII (there's a great PBS show about them, if you're interested), but unfortunately the book turned out to be massively disappointing. I still finished it because I was invested just enough to want to know how it ended, but I do not recommend it. I'll direct you to my Goodreads review if you want to know more details. I gave it 1 star, and it's finally convinced me that I don't have to take a free book every month.

I needed a new audiobook to listen to over the weekend, so I went to my "to read" tags on Libby and found Girl, Serpent, Thorn, which I'm pretty sure I heard about on the Novel Pairings podcast. This is a sort-of retelling of Sleeping Beauty but with very strong influences of Persian myths and folktales. It turned out to be a good one to listen to because the reader correctly pronounces all the non-English words and even reads some of the dialogue in an appropriate accent, giving a very atmospheric feel to the narration. I really enjoyed this tale of self-awareness, identity, good versus evil, and whether a curse can be a gift. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, I stayed up a little bit past my bedtime last night to finish reading 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. I know many of you have already read this and other works by Elif Shafak, but this was the first of her books I've read -- and it certainly won't be the last. Though there are some parts in this book that are very hard to read and it deals with some very seriously subjects, it's a beautiful study of finding happiness and one's found family in a world that is often inhospitable to those who don't fall into the socially accepted categories of what makes a "good" or "respectable" person. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm hoping to find time this week to finish A Spindle Splintered, which I haven't been able to get back to since the night I started it, and, of course, spend some more time with Braiding Sweetgrass.

I also wanted to mention that rather than having a pattern sale for my birthday, I've decided to donate all profits from my Ravelry and Payhip stores today to the Ukraine relief efforts of the International Rescue Committee. I feel very lucky to be safe, warm, and well fed today, so it seems only right to pay it forward in some way. If you're so inclined to buy a pattern or send one to a friend as a gift, I would appreciate it. There are links to both shops near the top right of the page.

Monday, March 07, 2022

You Asked for It ...

Happy Monday -- a very gloomy, wet Monday in our neck of the woods. It's very dark inside without any lights on, and that means bad photos of knitting, but because you all don't seem to be bored of my Shifty updates, here's one that I'm hoping will be the final one with Shifty still as a WIP. This is the current state of my sleeves:

The sleeve on the right needs just the rest of the cuff to be finished, and the sleeve on the left is waiting patiently for the darkest main color to be joined so it can be completed -- about 80 or so rounds plus the cuff remaining. I know that seems like a lot, but the rounds are relatively short compared to the body, and there are five more decrease rounds included in that. I did end up adding some rounds to the first sleeve (one more repeat of the "small blips" and "big blips") and including two additional decreases to make the cuffs snugger, and I'm making the cuffs a bit longer than called for, too. I think that should get the sleeves to hit right at the base of my hands, and I'm hoping to block them just a tad longer. The end of last week was very busy, so I didn't get as much knitting done during the day, but I'm hoping today will be calmer and enable me to finish up both sleeves before I go to bed tonight. That might be a bit ambitious, but there's nothing like a big goal to motivate you, right?

I'm headed out shortly to try to get in my walk while the rain is still relatively light, but I'll leave you with a cute photo from the weekend:

Rainbow and I had a Girl Scout meeting on Saturday at the home of one of her classmates, and this is her 9-year-old Samoyed Lacey. Apparently Lacey recently went to the groomer, and said groomer got a little snip-happy and shaved off a little too much of Lacey's floof, so now she looks like an oversized Westie! She's very friendly, and I probably spent more time petting her than working on my knitting while we were there (you can see my purse with my project bag behind her). If I can't yet have my own dog, I'm going to take full advantage of my time with other people's dogs!

I hope this Monday is gentle to you and is the start of a good week. I hope to see you back here on Wednesday with a finished sweater!

Friday, March 04, 2022

A Dispatch from Sleeve Island

I'd really better finish this sweater soon or else you are all likely to stop reading this blog because it'll seem like the same content all the time! Yesterday got busy with work, but I did have a Zoom board meeting last night, so I've made some progress on the second sleeve.

I paused on the first sleeve once I finished up with the second contrast color, so now I will knit the second sleeve (the one on the left in the photo) until I'm ready to join the third main color. Then I'll go back and finish up the first sleeve. I think I may have to add some additional rounds to the sleeves so that they are full length; at this point it looks like if I follow the pattern as written, they might be a tad short for my taste. But that kind of adjustment is very easy to do. I'm pretty sure I can get some serious knitting done tomorrow -- Rainbow has play practice at school (she's on the stage crew) from 10 to 2, so once I get my usual Saturday-morning chores out of the way, I will have no distractions. I think we're also planning to do family movie night tomorrow now that the new West Side Story is streaming, so that's another opportunity to knit. I am cautiously optimistic that I can finish the sleeves over the weekend, and it would be really fantastic if this sweater could be done in time for me to wear it on my birthday next week!

I hope that as this week comes to a close, you can find some reasons to be happy in spite of all the terrible news around the world and can find a way to help someone else. As soon as I hit publish on this, I'm off to make some donations, which always makes me feel better. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Unraveled, Week 9/2022

Good morning and happy March! March 1 is the first day of meteorological spring, and yesterday felt decidedly springlike. The sun was out, the birds were chirping early, and I had to take my jacket off partway through my morning walk. For someone who runs cold, that's saying something. It's supposed to be nice again today, but apparently we may get another light dusting of snow overnight. Such is this time of year in Western Pennsylvania!

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and talk about making and reading. I have been fairly monogamous this week and have been putting in a lot of time on my Shifty. You may be able to see that I've made some progress just since Monday:


If you look closely, you'll see that the sweater has been impaled on the left side by a pair of needles. That's because those needle tips are holding a ball of yarn in place inside the start of that sleeve. I am knitting the sleeves concurrently, but I've reached the point on that sleeve where I need to use the second contrast color -- which I'm still using on the first sleeve. As soon as I change to the third and final contrast color on the first sleeve, I'll go back to the other one and catch up. I did have to do a little unraveling on this yesterday when I realized I'd skipped a round of knitting, but it was only a handful of rounds and was easily made up.

Reading has been a bit slower this week, but I've finished two books.

After reading Kat's good review, I went over to NetGalley and requested a copy of Elie Mystal's Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution, which I believe was published yesterday. First, I will say that to fully enjoy this book, you probably need to lean far left politically, because he does a lot of conservative bashing. That said, he gives a really interesting perspective on the Constitution given the context of when it was written, namely that the founders were white men intent on preserving their power, and thus the founding document of our democracy doesn't inherently protect the rights of all citizens. If you're interested in politics and constitutional discourse, it's worth the read. I gave it 4 stars.

Over the weekend, I was looking for a short-ish audiobook to listen to that was lighter in subject matter (I've been reading a lot of Hard Books lately) and came across Far from the Tree among my "to read" tagged books on the Libby app. I think I added this to the list after hearing about it on the What Should I Read Next podcast, though I'm not certain, and it wasn't until I started listening that I realized that it was a young adult novel. It does deal with some pretty serious topics -- foster care, teen pregnancy, adoption, addiction -- but with teenage protagonists, it never felt too heavy. The story deals with three half-siblings, two of whom were adopted at birth and one who has been in the foster care system his entire life, as they find and get to know one another and struggle with what it means to be family. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently trying to finish a fairly awful book that was an Amazon First Reads selection (only because I want to know how it ends).

What are you making and reading this week?