Thursday, April 28, 2022

Poetry on Thursday: A Poem in Your Pocket

Though we are a day early for National Poem in Your Pocket Day, but that's what we've chosen to share this final Thursday in April. Today I am sharing a short and hopeful poem from How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, a collection edited by James Crews that Kym surprised us with last year at the conclusion of April. I have been slowly working my way through this lovely little book, and I'm finding that words of gratitude and hope have been very welcome. This poem felt just perfect for this particular time of year.

by Barbara Crooker

This day is an open road
stretching out before you.
Roll down the windows.
Step into your life, as if it were a fast car.
Even in industrial parks,
trees are covered with white blossoms,
festive as brides, and the air is soft
as a well-wash shirt on your arms.
The grass has turned implausibly green.
Tomorrow, the world will begin again,
another fresh start. The blue sky stretches,
shakes out its tent of light. Even dandelions glitter
in the lawn, a handful of golden change.

Be sure to visit Bonny, Kat, and Kym today for the poems they've chosen, and you'll start out your Friday with four poems in your pocket!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Unraveled, Week 17/2022

Good morning from a very chilly Western Pennsylvania, where the high today is expected to be something like 45F. Time to get out the sweaters and wool socks again! It's Wednesday, which means it's time for my weekly check-in with Kat and the Unravelers.

I am still very monogamously knitting on my handspun Hitchhiker, trying very hard to finish it up before the end of the month. At present, it has 53 teeth/points and I have 56 g of yarn remaining. To give you a sense of size, here it is spread across a queen-size bed:

I don't anticipate stretching it much when I block it, nor do I think I will need to -- this shawl will be big enough to comfortably wrap around me!

It's been a good reading week, with two good books finished.

I know a number of you have already read All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake; if you haven't yet, I'd recommend that you do. This is a scholarly work of nonfiction but a very readable one -- and yet it's difficult to read because of the subject matter. The author uses a historical artifact to bring home the point that we know so little of the family history of those descended from enslaved people in this country because the institution of slavery was designed to take away their humanity in so many ways. The examination of this cloth sack and what it contained illuminates how those who were enslaved fought to maintain their humanity and their family ties in spite of the barriers they faced. I gave it 4 stars.

When I found myself without any new podcast episodes to listen to over the weekend, I borrowed the audiobook of Murder on the Orient Express from the library, and it was a real delight. It's narrated by Dan Stevens, and while I usually don't care much for readers who do voices/accents in audiobooks, he did an excellent job with very believable accents. I believe this may have been the first Agatha Christie novel I've actually read, though I've seen a number of shows/series and movies based upon her novels over the years. I had such fun with this one that I'm sure I will read more. I gave this one 4 stars as well.

I have just started The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse for the next Erdrich-along discussion, and I think I'll soon be getting back to Young Mungo.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, April 25, 2022

Growth in 2022: April


Another month is about to pass us by, and this one has felt simultaneously very long and very short. It's been busy at work and busy at home, and we've gone through several cycles of going back and forth between winter and spring. And now we find ourselves arriving at the final week of April, which means it's time to look back and see how my One Little Word has made itself known. Thanks, as always, to Carolyn (who is celebrating her birthday today!) for hosting our monthly link-up.

I was thinking about this post over the weekend and finding myself at a bit of a loss as to how I had experienced Growth this past month. Because of the aforementioned busy schedule, I didn't feel like I'd had the time to be intentional about a particular area of personal growth. But then I realized that I have experienced some real growth this month, though I wasn't really aware of it at the time. Remember how chaotic that first weekend of the month was for us? Now if you know me well, you'll know that I like predictability and consistency and that unexpected events are often anxiety provoking for me. I'm a worrier by nature, and I don't like surprises. I have taken anxiety medication for years and have been through a lot of therapy over the years, but those things don't entirely get rid of my natural tendencies. So you can imagine how shocked I was when I looked back at that long day of attempted travel and realized that I did not lose my cool at all that day. Was I annoyed and disappointed? Sure. But I don't remember any moments of feeling overwhelming anxiety, even when I was literally sweating.

So what's caused this growth in my ability to keep my cool? Is it age or maturity? A greater realization of just how little control I have over how events in the world transpire thanks to the pandemic? The right amount of drugs in my system? Who knows! Why I'm calmer seems to be less important than the fact that I am, especially given that in addition to life's usual ups and downs, we have a bat mitzvah coming up later this year and it's bound to be a stressful as well as a happy occasion. I'm also continually aware of how I can model the ways I can difficult moments in life for Rainbow, who very much has the same emotional constitution, and I have to think that my calm on that airplane helped to keep her from completely melting down.

I hope April has been a good month for you and that your own journey with your One Little Word (if you have one) has been fulfilling this month. I'll see you back here on Wednesday for a crafting and reading update!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Poetry on Thursday: Forgiveness

The theme for this week's shared poems is forgiveness, which seems to me an emotion that is probably well represented in poetry. After all, when a poet needs to ask forgiveness of someone, don't they naturally turn to verse? I read a number of poems when I was choosing one to share, and many of them (unsurprisingly) were a little too religious in tone for me, but I found that the one I've selected to be unexpectedly touching and more subtle in its message. I hope you enjoy it.


Dark August
by Derek Walcott

So much rain, so much life like the swollen sky
of this black August. My sister, the sun,
broods in her yellow room and won't come out.

Everything goes to hell; the mountain fume
like a kettle, rivers overrun; still,
she will not rise and turn off the rain.

She is in her room, fondling old things,
my poems, turning her album. Even if thunder falls
like a crash of plates from the sky,

she does not come out.
Don't you know I love you but am hopeless
at fixing the rain? But I am learning slowly

to love the dark days, the steaming hills,
the air with gossiping mosquitoes,
and to sip the medicine of bitterness,

so that when you emerge, my sister,
parting the beads of the rain,
with your forehead of flowers and eyes of forgiveness,

all will not be as it was, but it will be true
(you see they will not let me love
as I want), because, my sister, then

I would have learnt to love black days like bright ones,
The black rain, the white hills, when once
I loved only my happiness and you.

You can learn more about Derek Walcott here, and don't forget to visit Bonny, Kat, and Kym today to read more poetry!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Unraveled, Week 16/2022

Every week at this time I feel surprised that it's already Wednesday, and today is no exception! And I have to say that every week I am always so grateful to Kat for hosting her weekly Unraveling link-up because I always have a framework for my post.

Knitting this week is all about the handspun Hitchhiker. I've been pretty much monogamous to this project since finishing my sweater last week, although I did do a bit of spinning (but not enough to share). Here's where things stand today, and you can see from my progress keeper -- which I've been moving up at the start of my knitting time every day -- that I didn't do as much yesterday, but that was mainly because I had a very busy work day.

My current ball of yarn is getting small, and I think I will be ready to start blending in the next color after another row or two. Originally I was thinking that I would work the three blue-heavy skeins from lightest to darkest, but considering that the rows are getting longer and eating up more yarn, now I'm thinking it might be smarter to reverse the order and use the yarn from least amount to most amount left. What do you think?

After a week with no finishes, this week I finished two books -- and one of them probably could count as more than one book given its length!

The Books of Jacob took me a full two weeks to read, and it was quite a journey. I was intrigued by it after reading the blurb, and I was encouraged by the fact that both Mary and Margene had enjoyed it. I read it knowing that I was likely going to be confused and that there were a lot of characters, and throughout my read, I kept waiting for things to come together. In my opinion, they never really did. This is a strange book, though well written, and I'm still not entirely sure of the point of it -- or I wasn't until I read the author's note at the end and learned that the Jacob of the title was a real person and this book is an imagined account of his life! There are some supernatural elements of this book, which I enjoyed, and a lot of talk of religion, and it's a brick, to be sure. I'm still processing my thoughts, but I can say that I thought it was just okay -- I gave it 3 stars. Know what you're getting into before reading it, if you're inclined to, and maybe see if you can get it from the library if you're not sure if you'll like it.

In need of something totally different, I listened to Julie Otsuka's The Swimmers on my walks on Sunday and Monday. I had heard part of the author's interview on Fresh Air a few weeks ago, and then Mary mentioned in our Zoom this past weekend that she'd enjoyed it, so when I saw the audiobook (only 4 hours long) was available from my library with no wait, it seemed like a sign. The title refers mainly to the first chapter/section of the book, but in my opinion it's really about one of the swimmers and her struggle with fronto-temporal dementia. It feels very much like the author used this work of fiction to work through her grief at losing her mother to the disease, and there are some beautiful but also truly heartbreaking passages. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm currently reading All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake, which I'd been waiting for patiently from the library for some time. I'm also hoping to pick up the next book we're discussing for the Erdrich-along soon, and maybe then I'll finally get back to Braiding Sweetgrass and Young Mungo.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, April 18, 2022

What's the Date Again?

So, it's Monday again, and while the calendar says it's supposed to be spring, Mother Nature hasn't gotten the message. We had a brief snow squall yesterday morning (nothing stuck, thank goodness), and we're expecting more snow and wintery mix today and tomorrow. All this while everything is blooming outside!

On the plus side, the return of winter has meant that I've been able to wear my new sweater a couple of times. I wore it to our second seder Saturday night, and Rainbow wore her matching sweater -- though we totally forgot to get a photo!

Much of the weekend was spent indoors due to the weather, which means quite a lot of knitting time. My main focus has been my handspun Hitchhiker, which has grown quite a bit since I last shared it.

The light is terrible here this morning, so while I've edited the photo a bit to get the colors a bit closer to real life, this photo just isn't doing them justice. At the moment, I am alternating two skeins to blend them as I transition from the smaller ball you see to the larger one. I really had only a small amount of the lighter purple-y blue, so it's pretty much only appearing in stripes. Everything above the progress keeper was knit yesterday. And I just have to give you a closer look at that progress keeper:

This sweet smiling piece of knitting is from Noelle at Charmed and Dangerous, who makes the most adorable markers. Every month she does a special charm club, where you get three surprise stitch markers or progress keepers (you get to choose the findings), and this cutie came as part of a set of knitting-themed markers. I've been amassing quite a collection of these, as has Rainbow, so I figured it made sense to use one!

I'm going to try to squeeze in my walk before it starts wintery mix-ing outside, so that's all from me today, but I will be back on Wednesday with a crafting and reading update. I hope Monday is kind to you!

Friday, April 15, 2022

FO Friday

Yesterday, four weeks to the day after I cast on, I finished my sweater. And this one is for me!

Pattern: May(be) Queen by La Maison Rililie, size S/34 in.
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Ridgetop Fingering (80% Romney/20% Falkland) in Ember, 3.04 skeins/1,216 yards/1,112 meters)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 2.5 (3.0 mm)
Started/Completed: March 17/April 14
Mods: several; see below

I could not be more pleased with how this second version of this sweater turned out. This time around, I chose the correct size to get just enough positive ease to feel comfortable. I also made a number of modifications based upon my experience knitting this the first time.

To start with, I added length to the collar. The pattern calls for working only a few rounds before starting the short-row shaping to raise the back of the neck, and I thought that the resulting collar was a little flimsy, so I made it a full inch in this version. I also did a tubular cast-on for the first time, and I love the effect. I also love how the twisted ribbing flows right into the panel between the raglan shaping.

I also decided to continue to work the hem at the bottom in the round, rather than making it a split hem, because, for one thing, I didn't enjoy working twisted ribbing flat on the wrong-side rows but also because I didn't think the split point looked stable enough for my taste. I still worked the short-row shaping on the bottom, though, so the resulting effect is a subtle high-low hem.

Of course, as I did the first time around, I worked the sleeves in stockinette with a twisted rib cuff. I measured the sleeves of another sweater that has a similar fit and did the calculations for the sleeves based on those numbers.

A main difference in this version compared to the first is that the yarn is a totally different blend and thus the fabric has a very different feel. This Romney/Falkland blend is coarser and has a bit of a crunchy feel. In my experience, it does soften up over time, as it's worn and handled and washed, but it will never have the same drape as a superwash merino. I'm okay with that; it means that this sweater is going to hold its shape over time.

You'd think that finishing a sweater in mid-April would mean packing it up until the fall, but I see snowflakes in the forecast in my weather app, so perhaps not!

I hope you all have an enjoyable weekend, and a happy Passover or Easter if you're celebrating!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Poetry on Thursday: Sharon Olds

Good morning! In this week's installment of poetry, we are all sharing poems by Sharon Olds. You may remember that I shared one of her poems last year, a poem that has stayed with me since I first read it as a teenager. Today the poem I've chosen to share is one that immediately spoke to me as the parent of an almost-teenager, a time when I'm very much thinking of what I was like at her age and watching her begin the process of finding her own identity separate from that as my daughter.


(for my daughter)

I lie on the beach, watching you
as you lie on the beach, memorizing you
against the time when you will not be with me:
your empurpled lips, swollen in the sun
and smooth as the inner lips of a shell;
your biscuit-gold skin, glazed and
faintly pitted, like the surface of a biscuit;
the serious knotted twine of your hair.
I have love you instead of anyone else,
loved you as a way of loving no one else,
every separate grain of your body
building the god, as you were build within me,
a sealed world. What if from you lips
I had learned the love of other lips,
from your starred, gummed lashes the love of
other lashes, from you shut, quivering
eyes the love of other eyes,
from your body the bodies,
from you life the lives?
Today I see it is there to be learned from you:
to love what I do not own.

From Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002, Alfred A. Knopf, 2019


Be sure to visit Bonny, Kat, and Kym today for other Sharon Olds selections!

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Unraveled, Week 15/2022

Is it just me, or is this week going by really quickly? I was frankly surprised to look at the calendar this morning and see it was already Wednesday (though on the plus side, that means Friday isn't that far away)! As always, today I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk about what I'm making and what I'm reading, though I have to warn you that both topics will be a little boring this week.

What am I making? Just my May(be) Queen -- though I am hoping that the next time you see this will be in an FO post!

I have 64 rounds left to knit on the second sleeve before I start the cuff, and of course those rounds will get shorter as I continue to decrease (I'm at 58 stitches now and will end up at 42 when I start the cuff). Depending on how things go today, I might just be done by bedtime, but if I get busy, I have three meetings -- two for work and one for a board -- tomorrow that I will need to knit through. I've been very monogamous to this project since finishing Rainbow's socks over the weekend, but I plan to pick up my handspun Hitchhiker again once this is off the needles.

Reading has been monogamous as well; I've only been reading The Books of Jacob this past week. The good news is that I've passed the halfway point -- but the bad news is that I still have 452 pages left to read. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that work cooperates and lets me work on finishing both my sweater and my book for the remainder of the week.

How about you? What are you reading and working on this week?

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Weekend I Needed

Happy Monday, friends! I'll admit I was not terribly happy when my alarm went off this morning, but right now the sun is shining and I'm coming off an enjoyable weekend, so I'm trying to put a positive spin on it.

Last weekend, if you remember, I had big plans for getting the house back in order after our trip, but obviously that didn't happen, so my plans were pushed back to this past weekend. The weather cooperated a bit  -- it was cold and damp, and we even had some snow and some wintery mix, so it was a good weekend to be inside. I cleaned all three bathrooms that get regular use, did laundry, paid some bills, and did some shopping for needed items. And I did some knitting, too, of course. Take a look at this!

Barring any work emergencies, I should have a finished first sleeve today! I finally sat down and did all the math to figure out how many stitches to pick up, how many I needed decrease, and how often I needed to decrease on Friday, and I made fast work of it. I would be pretty amazing if I could knit up the second sleeve before Thursday, which would mean that I'd knit this sweater in less than four weeks. That might be a bit ambitious, but I think it's an achievable goal. Of course, it figures that the weather is supposed to get warm again right around when I should be finishing this, but I can't say I didn't expect that.

I also finished up Rainbow's socks yesterday afternoon:

If they look a little wonky, it's because she put them on as soon as I showed her they were finished; I don't necessarily believe that socks have to be blocked, but I usually like to wash them after I finish them to get everything to even out and settle down. I'd say they're a success if she didn't give me the opportunity to do that because she was too excited to wear them! These use my SOHCAHTOA heel pattern, as requested by the recipient; she says they fit her heel perfectly.

I hope your Monday is off to a good start. See you back here on Wednesday!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The State of the Spinning Stash, April 2022 Edition

This is a post I'd intended to write a week ago, but obvious it became impossible when I did not get home Sunday evening as planned. The timing is pretty irrelevant, though, which will become clear in a moment. The point of this post to mainly to take a look at how I've been doing in spinning down my fiber stash, specifically from my stash Southern Cross Fibre club shipments. You may remember that doing so was a goal of mine last year, and you might even remember that I took a photo of all my SCF fiber and was tracking which bags I'd spun during the year. That's what I'm doing again this year.

While I didn't spin all of my SCF stash last year, I did make a pretty good dent -- by my count, at least 18 bags of fiber. Some of that was in the stash when I posted that photo and some came into the stash over the course of the year. And of course that's continued to happen this year. Thought I've been making an effort not to go out and buy more yarn and fiber this year, I've continued my membership in the fiber club because it's a small pleasure I can give myself every month, and I think we can all use a little something to look forward to. So here's where things stand at the moment:

These are arranged, left to right and top to bottom, from oldest and newest. The oldest shipment is in the top left-hand corner and is from December 2015. The newest just came in March and is the February 2022 shipment. One more shipment is currently somewhere between Australia and the United States. These are all monthly club shipments with the exception of the two bags at the far right in the top row, which were prizes for spinalongs from years past.

There's a lot of fiber here -- approximately 2,310 g or 81.5 oz./5+ lbs. But the thing about collecting fiber from one dyer is that their color sense comes through even when they're creating new colorways, and I see a lot of groupings that would work for combo spins or even just combining skeins. Like look at this group in the red/purple/brown family:

Or these in the green/blue/purple range:

Or even these colorways that seem to have a lot of colors in common:

I am really excited about all the possibilities for blending and combining, and I'm eager to get back to my wheel. As I did last year, I've made a list of all the shipments in chronological order, and I'm going to be tracking what I spin throughout the rest of the year. I think I'd like to start with some of the older stash because it's been waiting its turn to get on the wheel for a long time -- in part because (at least in the case of the oldest shipment) I felt like I needed to be a better spinner to be worthy of the fiber. I am a better spinner now, I think, but I've also changed my attitude toward using the "good stuff" since then and believe that if we save things for someday, we'll never actually believe we're good enough for them.

I still have some neutral/undyed fiber to finish spinning, but expect to see some of this fiber on the wheel soon -- and be sure to hold me to account!

Friday, April 08, 2022

Friday Fiber Fun, Dishcloth Edition

We've made it to Friday, and today I have a dishcloth "recipe" to share with you. I don't feel right calling this pattern; I used the stitch count from the Ballband Dishcloth and a photo from another pattern to inspire me, so it's really more of an adaptation. But I really enjoyed this slip-stitch mosaic knitting and thought you might like it as well.

This pattern uses two colors of kitchen cotton; I used Lily Sugar'n Cream in Dazzle Blue and Overcast, about 45 yards/41 meters in total. You'll use a bit more of one color than another (because you work two more rows with one color compared to the other). If you reverse the colors, you will have plenty two knit two dishcloths with some leftovers with two balls of cotton.

My cloth is roughly 9 in. by 9 in./23 cm by 23 cm square and I used US 6/4.0 mm needles. You will use one color at a time, alternating every two rows.

With Color 1 (C1), cast on 45 sts.
Knit 1 row.

Row 1 (RS): With Color 2 (C2), k4, slip 1 with yarn in back (wyib), *k5, sl 1 wyib; rep from * to last 4 sts, k4.
Row 2 (WS): With C2, k4, sl 1 with yarn in front (wyif), *k5, sl 1 wyif; rep from * to last 4 sts, k4.
Row 3: With C1, k1, sl 1 wyib, *k5, sl 1 wyib; rep from * to last st, k1.
Row 4: With C1, k1, sl 1 wyif, *k5 sl 1 wyif; rep from * to last st, k1.
Rep Rows 1-4 nineteen more times, then rep Rows 1 and 2 once more. Break C2.

Next row (RS): With C1, k all sts.
Bind off all knitwise.

Weave in all ends and trim tails. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 07, 2022

The Return of Poetry

No, your eyes do not deceive you -- I am indeed posting on a Thursday, even though it's not one of my current regular days to blog! But for the month of April, National Poetry Month, I'll be sharing poetry each Thursday along with Bonny, Kat, and Kym. If you haven't already, be sure to check out their posts today for the selections they've shared.

The theme for this first week was Hope. Because of how this week ended up, I did a bit of a cop-out and went to an old standby: Emily Dickinson. I'm actually sharing two poems this week because I suspect most (or at least many) of you are probably familiar with this first one or at least its first line:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Here is the second one, less familiar to me:

Hope is a subtle glutton;
    He feeds upon the fair;
And yet, inspected closely,
    What abstinence is there!

His is the halcyon table
    That never seats but one,
And whatsoever is consumed
    The same amounts remain.

In these times when there is so much suffering in the world, I wish you hope that never gets consumed.

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Unraveled, Week 14/2022

We're home! We didn't get back until about 6 yesterday evening, but our flight was on time and actually made it off the ground this time. We had a little turbulence as we flew over the storms moving through the South, but we landed more or less on time (we were due in at 4:10 and landed at 4:12 -- quite an appropriate time!). Of course, that meant that once we got our bags from luggage claim and met up with our car service to get home, it was smack in the middle of rush hour, but I was so happy to be back home that I didn't care. We spent the evening doing a quick unpack of our bags, finding something to eat, and trying to settle down enough to sleep.

Now that it's Wednesday, I'm playing a lot of catch-up at home given that I expected to have at least half a weekend to do stuff around the house, but here's where working from home has its perks. I've got two loads of laundry in right now! And though it's later in the morning than I'd usually blog, I'm finally getting around to linking up with Kat and the Unravelers to catch you up on my crafting and my reading.

I did indeed finish the body of my sweater on Monday afternoon -- it took a good couple of hours to graft the tubular bind off! It's a bit wrinkly from being shoved in a bag in my suitcase and obviously needs a good blocking but you can see that the fit is good and has an appropriate amount of positive ease this time around:

Kindly ignore the mess behind me and the fact that I clearly don't know where to look to make it look like I'm actually looking at the camera!

I planned to wait until I was home to start the sleeves so that I could measure another sweater and do some basic calculations (I'm once again going off-piste on the sleeves), so I figured I might as well make it worth it to have dragged a third project with me to Florida and started a Hitchhiker with the leftovers from my handspun Shifty pullover. I haven't gotten very far (I added another tooth last night), but I do like how it's working up already and am delighted to have found a way to use up all this beautiful yarn instead of letting it sit in the leftovers bag.

Finally, I'm trying to finish up Rainbow's socks. The second one was my travel knitting yesterday; I placed the sparkly progress keeper when we got in the car to go to the airport in Florida, and all the knitting above that was completed before we got home. 

It looks like I have about 3-4 inches of foot left to knit before I start the toe, and I expect this will see some attention during work meetings during the rest of the week and might even get finished this weekend. (And Rainbow might even get a chance to wear them if I do -- I saw snow in the forecast for Sunday!)

I finished two books this last week, both very good reads!

A number of people I know were reading (or rereading) Middlemarch along with the Novel Pairings podcast for their discussion last month, but rather than rereading it myself, I listened to My Life in Middlemarch, which is sort of a mixture of memoir, biography, and literary criticism. The author considers Middlemarch to be among her favorite books and one that's meant different things to her at different points in her life. But she also does a very thorough job of covering the really fascinating life of George Eliot and the writing of and possible influences on the novel. I listened to this while walking and quite enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars.

Though A Constellation of Vital Phenomena came out in 2014, I never heard about it at the time, and I have to thank Mary for getting it on my radar. In a way, I'm very glad to have come to it at this point in time because there are so many echoes in this book of what is currently happening in Ukraine, even though it's set in Chechnya in the '90s and early 2000s. I'll admit that while I did hear about vague atrocities in Chechnya at the time, I was quite ignorant of the truth and the enormity of the political situation, and I am glad to have read this book for that reason alone, but the writing is also gorgeous and powerful. It's not an easy book to read, as it deals with war, torture, and ethnic cleansing, but it's an excellent one. I gave it 4.5 stars.

I'm still savoring my way through Braiding Sweetgrass on paper, and on Monday I had just started the next Read With Us selection, Young Mungo, when I got a notice that my hold on The Books of Jacob was ready from the library. This is a Big Book that's going to take a while to get through; I'm currently on page 829, which sounds like I'm ready far through it except for the fact that the book starts on page 965 and works its way down to page 1, so in reality I'm not very far into it at all -- about 15%, according to the Kindle app. I'll be prioritizing it in order to finish it before the library yanks it back.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, April 04, 2022

Too Much Excitement for One Weekend

Good morning and happy Monday from ... Florida, still. We were supposed to go home on Saturday and left my parents' house at about 8:30 to go to the airport, and about nine hours later, we were back here. I'm not sure how much media coverage there was outside of the state, but there were some major issues here on Saturday. I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version of our experience:

  • When we got to the airport, our flight was already delayed half an hour (we were supposed to depart at 11 a.m.). The guy who checked our bags curbside said it was due to fog that had delayed earlier flights.
  • When we got to our gate, we found two other flights' worth of passengers who were set to go out ahead of us. There was nowhere to sit.
  • We finally got on the plane a bit after 12 (they kept pushing the time back), but when we headed out to the runway, there were about 15 planes ahead of us and we were informed there was a ground hold because of a major storm system moving through north of us. Thus we had to just sit there and wait for another update in about 55 minutes.
  • The next update was that we were still waiting but had to move up about 100 feet on the tarmac, so the pilot was going to fire up the engines (we'd been on auxiliary power to save fuel). The next thing we knew, the plane went silent and the emergency lights came on. Yep, we were dead on the tarmac and stayed that way for about an hour. It was about 90 degrees F outside at that point. The plane was completely full, and pretty much everyone but us decided they were too hot to wear masks anymore
  • The next step was to get the plan back to the terminal, but we needed a tug to do that, and the truck with the tug couldn't get to us without other planes moving out of the way. And then we had to wait for a plane to be moved back from a gate so we could get into its spot.
  • When we finally got off the plane, we were greeted by all sorts of emergency response personnel and cold bottles of water. We were back at the same gate, and there was still nowhere to sit, so we had to plop on the floor and wait for them to tell us what was next. Eventually they told us there was good news -- they had a plane and a crew for us, and we'd be departing at 5! We just had to go to a different gate.
  • We had about 20 minutes before we'd board at the new gate, so Rainbow and I left my mom there with our bags and went to the bathroom one last time. And when we got back, they had canceled the flight.

The good news (because there is good news!) is that my dad was planning to be here for another week after we left, and while we were sitting on the dead plane and everyone was looking at their phones to try to see if they could find another flight out, he was on the computer and managed to book us a direct flight home tomorrow. As soon as we knew the flight was canceled, my mom called him and he jumped in the car to come pick us up. So it was a long and stressful day for us, but at least we have a place to stay. Many of the people on the plane had left hotels or rentals and were scrambling to find somewhere to stay until they could get another flight or a rental car to drive home or to other airport. Being here another few days certainly isn't ideal (particularly for Rainbow, who is missing two days of school), but I can still work remotely -- and there are worse places to be stuck! And instead of spending my Sunday cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry, I got to sleep in, have a nice breakfast, and work on my sweater:

I am on my second set-up round for the tubular bind-off on the body, which means that it will be completed today. I will likely then put it away because to figure out the sleeves (which I am again doing my own way, rather than following the pattern) I need to measure another sweater that's at home. So perhaps I'll start that handspun Hitchhiker after all!

I also want to share my sock progress, because Rainbow's second sock was my travel knitting. You can tell just how stressed out (and hot!) I was on Saturday because the sparkly progress keeper shows where I was when we started the day and this is all the progress I made, most of it in the car or sitting in the airport:

Today is a work day, though I'm hoping it's an easy one, and tomorrow we'll try to get home again. Please keep your fingers crossed we make it this time!

Friday, April 01, 2022

Time to Pack It In

It's Friday, and that means it's our last day in Florida. It's been a lovely and restful couple of weeks, in spite of having to work, and I'll be sad to leave the warm weather, the sunshine, and the birdsong behind. But I am looking forward to seeing the Mister again, sleeping in my own bed, seeing what has grown or bloomed in the garden since we left, and being reunited with my stash.

I have gotten quite a lot of knitting done while we've been here, though as usual I was a little over-ambitious in what projects I brought. I have just finished the first of Rainbow's socks the other evening and am only on the ribbing of the second, and I haven't touched the bag of handspun scraps that I brought to start a big Hitchhiker. It seems most of my knitting time has been devoted to my sweater, and there, at least, I've made really remarkable progress. As of this morning, this is all I have left to do on the body before I start the ribbing:

That "SR (A+B+C)" line is a short-row sequence that's about equivalent to two rounds. So that means I have about eight rounds left to knit. I will likely try it on at that point to make sure I like the length, but I'm fairly certain the length was good the last time and should be fine this time as well. I feel very confident that I'll at least have started, if not completed, the ribbing on the body before we leave.

Today I'll also be focused on finishing up the dishcloth I started yesterday. I'd intended to make another pair, but I think I'll have to make the second when I get home.

This is another slip-stitch/mosaic pattern that I adapted from a free pattern I found but using the basic stitch count and sequence of the Ballband Dishcloth. I really like the look and texture of this one and will likely make more of them.

Packing will happen later today (packing to go home is so much easier than packing to go away!), but first I have some work to do, a final long walk to take, and some stitching to finish. I hope your week is ending on a high note and you have a relaxing weekend ahead!