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.

Friday, May 20, 2022

At Last

Happy Friday, friends -- we've made it to the end of the week! I normally try to post first thing in the morning, but today I wanted to get my walk in early to avoid the worst of the rain moving through here this morning. I took an umbrella just in case and only needed it for the last mile or so.

Today I have a finished project to share! Though, as the Knitmore Girls would say, it's not finished finished finished.

This is the skein of undyed CVM and Romney from the Ross Farm that I've been working on for far too long -- since mid-February, if you can believe it. I have no idea why it took me so long, especially considering that in the past I have spun a couple of pounds of undyed fiber in far less time, but it really doesn't matter. I finished plying yesterday evening, using up nearly all of my singles. You may remember that I had two bobbins of this faun-colored CVM and one of a darker brown Romney, and I plied all three together, but the Romney (as expected, because I had less of it to begin with) ran out and I made a plying bracelet with the singles on the fuller of the two bobbins remaining to use up the rest, so what you're seeing on the top layer here is all CVM. On my to-do list for this afternoon is skeining and washing this yarn.

Now that this spinning project is done, I need some color! As tempted as I am by my most recent club shipments, I am committed to spinning the older stuff first, so I went into my big bag of Southern Cross Fiber stash and pull out this:

This is, quite literally, the oldest SCF fiber in my stash -- it's Primordial from December 2015, and it's on an 80/20 blend of organic Merino and rose fiber. Mary and I emailed a bit back and forth about the rose fiber earlier in the week, and I realized that what I was telling her about it was really just assumptions on my part, so I decided to do a little research. It turns out my assumptions were correct: Rose fiber for spinning is a cellulose that is made from the stems of rose bushes. It's marketed as a form of vegan silk because it has the same shine (which I think you can see in this photo despite the bad lighting). It's made into fiber in much the same way that things like bamboo and tencel are, and it gives the same sort of pearly shine to the wool it's blended with. I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to spin this other than I know it will want to be spun quite finely because of the blend. I'm leaning toward spinning it end to end and chain-plying to preserve the colors and also make it a more mindless spin, but ideas and opinions are welcome.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Unraveled, Week 20/2022

Is it really Wednesday already? At least I am saved from having to come up with a post topic, because Wednesdays mean linking up with Kat and the Unravelers to talk about making and reading!

I will spare you another photo of my brother's sweater and Rainbow's Hitchhiker looking very similar to the last time you saw them, because they haven't changed much. I did manage to finish the last bobbin of singles on Monday, and yesterday I started plying the three together. I'm afraid the plied yarn isn't going to be very exciting, but we knew that going in.

The finished skein is intended to be used for the colorwork portion of the matching sweaters I'm planning to knit for me and Rainbow with the green combo spin yarn I finished earlier in the year, assuming I have enough yardage. This skein has been in progress for literally months, which is really unlike me, so I'm eager to get it done and move on to something with color.

Yesterday I was forced to cast on a new project -- yep, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Last night was a showcase of all the performing arts groups at Rainbow's middle school (she's in the choir). I didn't have a project that I could take along that would be suitable to work on in a dark auditorium, so I started a new pair socks, appropriately for Rainbow.

You haven't seen this yarn (or the project bag, for that matter) yet because it's brand new -- it arrived in the mail on Monday. Yes, that's right, I bought new yarn! Even though I am trying to work from stash this year, I never prohibited myself from buying yarn, and I don't think I've actually bought any since I went to Rhinebeck last year. This particular package of yarn, project bag, and stitch markers (not shown) is an exclusive Down Cellar Studio Splash Pad Party product, and after resisting it once and continuing to think about it, I finally made the purchase when I found there were still some available (and right now it looks like only one is left). The yarn is from Fibernymph Dye Works in the colorway You're Mer-Mazing, and the coordinating mermaid-themed bag and stitch markers are from AdoreKnit. The Splash Pad Party doesn't officially kick off until later in the month, but WIPs are permitted in this event, so I figured it was okay to get started.

Reading has been a bit slow this past week, for much the same reason that crafting hasn't seen a lot of progress, but I have managed to finish two books.

I had been on the waiting list for Ann Patchett's essay collection These Precious Days for a long time, and the wait was well worth it. You know that a book is a good one when you simultaneously don't want it to end but also don't bother to slow down your reading. That's how this collection was for me. The writing is excellent and the emotions some of these essays evoked were strong. I've previously read three of Ann Patchett's novels, two of which I loved and one that I found just okay, but this collection really made me appreciate her more as a writer and made me want to read much more of her writing. I gave it 5 stars.

I'd had Michelle Zauner's memoir Crying in H Mart on my TBR list since it came out last year but never got around to putting it on hold at the library, so when it came up in our Zoom session on Sunday, I looked for it in Libby and discovered it was available in both formats (ebook and audiobook) with no wait. I chose to listen, which is fast becoming my preferred format for memoirs read by the author, and though it was a sad read, I really enjoyed it. Reading about Korean cuisine made me think of my college roommate and her sister, who became good friends and fed me my first kimchi. I gave this book 4 stars.

I'm currently right about halfway through Young Mungo (I got to an upsetting part and had to put it down for a bit) and The Island of Missing Trees, which was another long-awaited library hold.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, May 16, 2022

Off to a Wet Start

Happy Monday, friends! After a weekend that felt more like July than mid-May, today it is dark and very rainy. We knew that the rain was coming, and that why Rainbow and I spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon planting in the garden. It doesn't look like much yet, but I'm hoping that in a couple of weeks things will be bigger and more colorful.

This is the front yard, where we have a mix of colors of impatiens, and if you look really closely, you might be able to spot two tiny tomato plants and a lavender plant toward the left (you can see a smaller pink hydrangea just behind the row of impatiens -- the lavender is to the left of it and the tomatoes are to the right). You may also notice that around the flowers there's some darker soil. I'm particularly excited about that -- it's compost from my backyard composter! This is the first time I've opened up the sliding door at the bottom of it and pulled out some useful compost, and I'm delighted that after more than a decade of tossing kitchen scraps and yard waste into it, I have something useful! Our soil in the front yard seemed particularly weak, so I was happy to toss some into the planting bed.

In the backyard, we have the herbs -- two basil plants and one each parsley and dill -- surrounded by marigolds. There's still quite a bit of planting space here because we have a bunch of seedlings getting bigger inside: three kids of melons (honeydew, canteloupe, and watermelon), butternut squash, cucumbers, radishes, bell peppers, and sunflowers. I doubt that I'll be successful in getting it all to grow, but I had the seeds and figured it couldn't hurt to try.

I did do some knitting over the weekend (not enough to make progress worthy of a new photo), but my goal for today is to finish spinning this bobbin of singles:

I have maybe and arm's length of fiber left to spin, but it's a slower process because this fiber is actual roving and was minimally processed, so I am pausing frequently to remove VM and nepps. I really want to get this done and plied with the other two bobbins of undyed singles because I am craving some color. These won't be going on the wheel just yet, but look at the two most recent shipments from the Southern Cross Fibre club (which are much prettier when I don't need to use artificial light to snap a photo):

Eventide on Corriedale is on the left and Maple Fantasy on grey Merino is on the right. That grey Merino is really calling my name, but I am committed to spinning older stash first, so these will have to wait. Nevertheless, I am enjoying seeing the colors, especially on this gloomy day.

I hope your week is off to a less-soggy start!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Slow and Steady

This week with my knitting I am very much the tortoise rather than the hare. It's been a busy week -- the Mister away for a few days on a work trip, meetings, work, and the usual business of running a household and raising a child -- so I've been pretty much plodding along. My two WIPs have grown a bit since you last saw them.

The sweater back is measuring 13 inches (I have to get to 15.25 before I have to follow any more directions) and Rainbow's Hitchhiker is now at 28 teeth, in large part thanks to my first in-person board meeting in more than two years last night. We met in person largely because we started by taking a board photo, but I think we will be going back to Zoom meetings after this seeing as case counts are rising again. It was a long meeting -- we started at 6:30 and didn't wrap up until just after 9 -- but having my knitting in my lap kept me alert and engaged, and that was especially appreciated because I'd had two work meetings earlier in the day.

We have no real plans for this weekend other than a Costco trip to stock up on some household supplies and picking up my flowers and herbs from the synagogue plant sale. There is some rain in the forecast, but I'm hoping it's scattered enough to allow me to put the new plants in the ground. Today I've got a load of laundry to do and am hoping for a quiet work day.

Happy weekending!

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Unraveled, Week 19/2022

It's Wednesday again already? That means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and talk about what I'm making and reading.

Fortunately there has been no actual unraveling here lately, though I did have to do a bit of tinking a couple of days ago when I discovered that I had paused mid-row on my brother's sweater and, when I picked it up again, started knitting in the wrong direction. Such a beginner mistake! Fortunately it did not take too much time to correct the error and get back on track. You may be able to see that it's grown just a bit since I shared it on Monday, and Rainbow's Hitchhiker is now up to 21 teeth:

Yesterday I threw another project into the mix -- or rather I revived one. My spinning mojo has been missing lately, I think because my current project is kind of boring because it's undyed fiber, but I realized that I only had one bobbin of singles left to spin, so I'm using the motivation of some dyed fiber that can go on the wheel next to get through it. This is fawn CVM, and it'll be plied with another bobbin of the same and a bobbin of slightly darker Romney when it's done.

My reading has been a bit all over the place lately thanks to library holds showing up sooner than expected (not entirely a bad thing!), but having multiple books in progress has meant finishing only one book in the last week.

The Wrong End of the Telescope is a book that came up in one of our Sunday Zoom sessions as a counterpoint to What Strange Paradise, as it addresses the same crisis of refugees fleeing Syria and other Middle Eastern nations. The main character, a trans Lebanese-American doctor, both tells her story and addresses the crisis she has arrived on the Greek island to help with, often addressing an unnamed writer she has met who has encouraged her to tell the story of the refugees she has met. Though the subject matter is weighty, the chapters are short and propulsive, making this a surprisingly easy read, even when the content is is tragic. I gave it 4 stars.

I expect to finish the audiobook I've been listening to, Beautiful Country, on this morning's walk. Yesterday I also started Ann Patchett's essay collection These Precious Days and got more than a quarter of the way through it, and I've once again picked up Young Mungo for the next Read With Us discussion.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, May 09, 2022

A Restorative Weekend

I can't say I'm exactly happy that it's Monday morning, but I can tell you that taking Friday off was a good move on my part and the weekend was as restful as I needed it to be. It rained all day long on Friday, and it was pretty heavy, steady rain, too, so I didn't take my usual walk. Instead, I did some cleaning around the house, chores I'd usually do on Saturday, and that meant that the weekend was a lot quieter and calmer than normal. And that was a very welcome change of pace. It was still raining on Saturday, though it was a lighter rain that allowed me to go out for a walk without getting too wet. Yesterday, though, was absolutely gorgeous -- sunny with a completely clear blue sky. We enjoyed a Mother's Day brunch at my brother- and sister-in-law's and then had a leisurely day. And the forecast shows sun and warmer temperatures for the rest of the week!

I worked mainly on my two active projects over the weekend, my brother's sweater (which had one false start but is moving along nicely now):

and Rainbow's Hitchhiker, which is growing slowly, but the yarn is so lovely that every minute working with it is a delight:

Today will be spent catching up on work and enjoying the sunshine on my walk. I hope your week is off to a good start!

Friday, May 06, 2022

Taking a Day Off

Well, we have made it to Friday. Yesterday, after feeling crummy for several days, I decided to take a sick day today (which is something I can well afford to do, given that I seem to have 90+ sick days saved up) so I can just rest. It's a rainy, miserable day here, so it's a good one to spend sitting and knitting.

One thing I will be doing today is making challah to take to Friday night dinner at my parents' tonight. I know I've shared photos of my challahs before, but I don't think I've actually shared the recipe, so I thought I would do that today in case you'd like to bake up a loaf or two yourself.

The last challah I baked, when we were in Florida

Chani's Sweet Challah
While this recipe can be made without a stand mixer, I highly recommend using one if you have one unless you want an extra arm workout!

    1 tbsp active dry yeast
    1/2 tsp sugar
    1 cup warm water
    2 eggs (+ extra for brushing)
    3/4 cups sugar
    4 cups flour
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    3 tbsp vegetable oil
    raisins (optional; allow to soak in warm water to rehydrate before adding)

Dissolve yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar, and warm water in mixing bowl. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes, until fairly bubbly. Add the rest of the sugar, oil, and eggs and whisk until very fluffy. Add salt and mix.

Gradually add flour cup by cup (use mixing blade to start and change to dough hook when dough becomes thick enough). Add raisins, if using. Knead until smooth. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover. Place in oven on proof/prove setting over a pan of hot water and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes.

Form into loaf/loaves and brush with egg mixed with some water. Place back into oven and allow to rise for one hour. Bake at 350 F for about 35 minutes.

This recipe will make one large loaf or two smaller loaves. And I have no idea who Chani is -- her name was on the recipe when I got it from a friend!

I hope you enjoy the challah if you bake some, and I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Unraveled, Week 18/2022

Is it only Wednesday? This week has been ... A Week. Yesterday I was just angry all day, on top of feeling pretty crummy because my semi-annual sinus crud decided to make its appearance at the same time that I got a knot in my neck that also likes to bother me from time to time. But I didn't come here to complain. It's Wednesday, which means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers and to talk about making and reading.

After finishing my giant shawl over the weekend, I've been doing some spinning and some work on Rainbow's crochet blanket, but last night I cast on a new knitting project. And surprise! It's another Hitchhiker.

This one is for Rainbow, who loved mine so much that she asked very nicely if I would make her one. I even let her pick out a skein of handspun for it, and she selected this skein of laceweight South African superfine/silk that I spun back in 2015. The colorway (from Southern Cross Fibre) is called Peacock. I have 700+ yards of yarn in this skein, but because it's so fine I've gone down to US 2/2.75 mm needles, so I don't think it'll end up being too huge. (When I took my shawl off the blocking towels yesterday and measured the top edge, it came out to be 9 feet wide, so it's something I have to wrap about three times around my neck!)

Though I haven't cast on yet, I have swatched for my next project as well:

Way back in 2018, my brother asked me if I could knit him a "grandpa"-style sweater -- a cabled cardigan with a shawl collar. I remember exactly when this was because several of us went to see a performance of Fiddler on the Roof downtown and then met the rest of the family out for dinner. While we were at the dinner table, I pulled up Ravelry on my phone and did a pattern search using his criteria, and he picked the Edinburgh pattern, which I conveniently already had in my pattern library. I then ordered yarn for it -- and it's been sitting in my stash ever since. But because I am trying to use up yarn in my stash and because his 35th birthday is coming up this summer, I figured now was a good time to finally knit the sweater. I had my sister-in-law measure one of his well-fitting sweaters when he wasn't around to pick the correct size and knit up a swatch over the weekend, so now I'm ready to get started just as soon as I feel like I have the right amount of concentration.

As for reading, I have finished two books this past week, one just this morning thanks to Rainbow's dentist appointment before school:

I know several of you have already listened to Miracle and Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon. Those of you who haven't who are fans of Paul Simon should go listen to it right now! I was able to get it from my library through Hoopla (it was strangely not available at all via Libby), and at only about 5 hours in length, it was easy to listen to in a couple of days. This doesn't really feel like a book because, while there is narration, large sections of it are conversation and musical clips; it really feels like a long podcast. I suppose that's why it's only available in audio format. But it is wonderful and hugely entertaining. I will note that if you're used to listening to audiobooks at a faster-than-normal speed, you'll want to slow down to normal speed for this one because the music will sound very strange otherwise. I gave this 4.5 stars.

This morning's finish was Louise Erdrich's The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, which I really had to finish this week because those of us who are participating in the Erdrich-along are discussing it this Saturday! I did take my time with this book, as much as I wanted to rush through it, because the writing is simply exquisite. It is rare to find a book that will make you both cry and laugh out loud; this is one of them. I loved every page! If you're interested in reading it, I suggest you do so without reading the jacket copy or looking at the family tree diagram in the front of the book, as both contain pretty big spoilers. One of them is revealed up front, but the other reveal isn't until almost the very end, and trust me when I say you don't want that spoiled for you. I gave it 5 stars.

Currently I am actively reading The Wrong End of the Telescope and have about 125 pages left. I thought of Katie's love of serendipitous moments in books when I came across this line this morning near the end of The Last Report:

I'm also hoping to return to Young Mungo, which I started (but didn't get very far into) about a month ago. And thanks to a visit to my local bookstore for Independent Bookstore Day over the weekend, I have an even larger TBR stack than before:

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, May 02, 2022

FO ... Monday?

Good morning! I had hoped to have an FO Friday post last week, but this past weekend was commencement at the university where I work (both for 2022 and a make-up ceremony for 2020), so work got a wee bit chaotic toward the end of the week to ensure everything was ready. Instead, I'm debuting this beast of a shawl today.

Pattern: Hitchhiker by Martina Behm (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Handspun from various Southern Cross Fibre club shipments, totaling 392 g/1,320 yds. (leftovers from my handspun Shifty pullover)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: April 4/April 30
Mods: Kept knitting until I had 60 teeth

This shawl is not yet blocked, so I don't yet have final measurements, but surely the photo above will illustrate quite well that it's significantly bigger than my wingspan. I kept knitting until I reached the end of a repeat and didn't have enough yarn left for another, so I still have a small amount of yarn remaining but really not enough to do anything significant with. And I'm simply delighted with how this ended up. It is quite large, but the beauty of this shawl pattern is that even as it gets really long, it never gets terribly deep at the center, so for as big as this is, I can still wear it comfortably like this:

I didn't do anything really fancy with blending the colors other than to alternate every two rows/every garter ridge as I finished one color and started with the next, working that blending mainly so I would have a hard line where one color stopped and the next one picked up. Of the six colors, I have the most of the final one leftover, and I played some serious yarn chicken with several!

It's hard to get a sense of scale here, but I can tell you that all these scraps fit into the palm of my hand, so I really did do a pretty decent job of using up almost all the yarn that was left from the sweater. And I have to say that for as much as a garter stitch project can get monotonous, I really loved working on it. It was such a joy to have a project that didn't require much thought and that was so forgiving -- I have no idea how many stitches I had on the needles at the end, and that number really didn't matter in any case. I can see now why Bonny always has one on the go, and I can also see myself knitting more of them in the near future (Rainbow, in fact, has already asked for one!).

My one frustration with this project has been getting a camera to accurately capture the colors. This photo probably comes closest, though:

If you haven't yet knit a Hitchhiker, I'm here to recommend that you do, especially if you need some soothing knitting! I expect I will be knitting many more or them (or variations on the pattern) in the years to come.