Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Unraveled, Week 48/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, November 28, 2022

Growth in 2022: November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2022

So Very Thankful

This week has been one of giving thanks and expressing gratitude. And I have many things to be thankful for -- more than I could possibly list in one blog post. So consider this post some of the highlights.

I am thankful for the miracle that is my body and all the things it has allowed me to do, like run in yesterday's Turkey Trot 5K with the Mister (and I ran nearly all of it and finished in 27:14 -- a very good time for me!).

I am thankful for my family -- my partner and best friend and my daughter, who is growing up into a smart, caring, kind young woman.

I am thankful that last night we were able to gather with family and enjoy a delicious meal and good company.

I am thankful that on Tuesday, my brother- and sister-in-law welcomed a healthy baby boy, and everyone should be home today.

I am thankful for knitting and crochet and spinning and yarn and fiber. I am thankful for books and libraries. I am thankful for the internet, which has allowed me to learn so much and make wonderful friends. I am thankful for you, dear readers, for being part of this wonderful community.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Unraveled, Week 47/2022

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, friends! I am currently enjoying some quiet time alone in my kitchen, as Rainbow is sleeping in (she's off from school for the rest of the week) and the Mister is sleeping in a bit as well as he got home at around 11:30 last night from a work trip. I do have to work today, at least until the office officially closes at 2, but I don't expect to have anything to do because three members of my seven-person team are off today and two of them are the people who would be giving me work. So really all I need to do is keep my computer open just in case.

It's Wednesday, and that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers with my update on my making and my reading.

I am sorry to say that there has been some negative knitting here. Yesterday evening, as I was getting ready to start my final stripe on one side of my Recalibrate, I looked down at my knitting and realized something looked off. A closer investigation revealed my complete lack of ability to count: The stripe prior to the last one I'd finished had only eight rows instead of ten. Fortunately, the fix was easy. I put my needle into the stitches of the last row I'd completed of that stripe, unraveled back to it, and added the two additional rows. I now have about a dozen rows to knit to get back to where I was, but that shouldn't take too long, and I can probably get that done today while Rainbow and I bake dozens and dozens of pumpkin muffins for tomorrow.

In happier news, I finished up a second hat on Monday evening and now have a coordinated pair:

They still need to be blocked, but they are done and I even got the pattern for the hat and the cowl back from my tech editor, so Rainbow and I can do a photo shoot sometime this weekend so I can get the patterns ready to be published soon!

[Speaking of patterns, I wanted to mention that the Indie Designer Gift-a-long officially kicked off at 5 p.m. yesterday. Even if you don't want to participate in the event, you can still take advantage of the pattern sale that's on for the first week. You can find 20 of my patterns on sale for 25% off using the coupon code giftalong2022 on Ravelry, and if the site isn't safe for you, you can find the same patterns and the same discount on Payhip using the coupon code GIFTING2022. Both coupons expire at 11:59 p.m. EST next Monday, November 28.]

I've finished two books in the last week:

I picked up Kali Fajardo-Anstine's debut novel when it was a Kindle deal several weeks ago because I'd enjoyed her short story collection last year. Woman of Light is a family saga set in the Southwest in the late 1800s and 1920s and tells the stories of the struggles of its Hispanic/Indigenous members. The title character is Luz, a young woman who has visions of the future. From the book's description, it sounds like a fascinating story, but unfortunately it was a disappointment for me. I found most of the characters to be flat, and the story didn't really come together. In many places it seemed like the author was trying too hard and the writing was stilted. One redeeming feature for me is that I think she did a good job of depicting the racism, discrimination, and very real threats of violence facing communities of color in 1920s Denver. But overall this was not a great read for me. I gave it 2 stars.

I needed a palate cleanser after that, so I turned to my old standby: the Maisie Dobbs series. The Mapping of Love and Death finds Maisie investigating the death of an American cartographer whose body has recently been uncovered in a collapsed bunker and simultaneously dealing with the decline of her mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche. While she is working the case, she also is dealing with some big changes in her personal life -- and all this is against the backdrop of what we know is coming in Europe in just a few years. I really enjoyed this installment in the series and listened to it quickly. I've also discovered that the whole series is available on audio through Hoopla, so I can continue listening whenever I'm ready for another one! I gave this one 4 stars.

I'm still very slowly working my way through Demon Copperhead (I'm hoping to find some time this long weekend to read more than a few pages in a sitting) and just started a nonfiction book, The Woman They Could Not Silence, by the author of Radium Girls.

I hope you'll share what you're working on and reading in the comments, and I want to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am for you, dear readers! I hope that if you are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, it's a wonderful day with lots of good food!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Plying for Days

It's Monday morning and a very cold start to Thanksgiving week! We started off the day with a trip to Rainbow's dentist, so I am playing a bit of catch-up this morning. I've got to get going soon if I'm going to get my walk in before my work meeting at 11, so I'm going to keep this post pretty short and sweet.

We had a pretty relaxing weekend, which was good because it was frigid outside and it was good time to hunker down inside where it was toasty. I spent quite a lot of it plying my combo spin, a task that took longer than expected because it seemed like my bobbins were magically adding more singles when I wasn't looking. In all it took me three days of plying sessions (no, I did not spend all of those three days plying) to fill up two bobbins of yarn.

I started plying using the purple Akerworks bobbin and switched over to the wooden Lendrum bobbin when I thought I'd plied about half of my singles, but when the second bobbin was full, I still had more to go, so I had to rejoin my singles to the end of the plied yarn on the first bobbin to do the rest. In the end, I used pretty much every last bit of singles. When the first bobbin of singles ran out, I wound off the singles from one of the two remaining and made a plying bracelet, and when those ran out, I chain-plied the tiny bit that was left (if you look closely at the bobbin on the left, you'll see that last bit -- it's the solid orange-y bit you can see coming out from under my thumb). It took me a good while to skein up the yarn yesterday afternoon, and then both skeins got a nice soak. The one plus of the temperatures being so low is that the radiators in our house are on high, so the skeins are ever so slightly damp this morning.

This spin used three past club colorways from the Southern Cross Fibre club: Poisoned Apple on Bond from October 2018, Posy on Bond from April 2019, and Blazing Skies on Rambouillet from November 2021. I split each one up into multiple smaller bundles and then split all the bundles into three piles so all three colorways would be evenly distributed over the three bobbins of singles. The final yarn is fingering weight, as planned, and I have approximately 1,180 yards.

I'm delighted with how this yarn came out, but I am ready to spin something that's not a shade of red now! I'm going to take a break from my wheel for a few days, but then I'll be dipping into my Fibernymph Dye Works holiday set, so get ready for some spoilers. In the meantime, I hope you're keeping warm if it's cold where you are, and I hope you have a good start to your week!

Friday, November 18, 2022

Ain't No Party Like a Cardigan Party

TGIF, friends! It's been a long, cold week, and we're all happy to see the arrival of the weekend.

I mentioned the WQED Cardigan Party in my last post, and several of you asked for clarification, which made me realize that despite the fact that I was sure I had blogged about this event before, I don't think I actually have! So let me rectify that situation now. I'm fairly certain that if you live in the United States and either were a kid or had kids in the last five decades or so, you have heard of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But here in Pittsburgh, we live in that neighborhood. Fred Rogers was born in the greater Pittsburgh area, lived here, and filmed his show at WQED, the local PBS station that has been on the air since the early '50s. The Mister has served on the station's board for the past several years and recently was elected its cochair -- and, coincidentally, he actually lived next door to Fred and Joanne Rogers at one point in his childhood! In any case, in his time on the board, the station has been really focused on raising awareness of and support for public television, and a few years ago, they started hosting the Cardigan Party in the Fred Rogers Studio (yes, the studio where the show was filmed!) as a fundraiser and a celebration of the spirit of Mister Rogers. It's a very Pittsburgh event, with food from local restaurants, drinks from local breweries and distilleries, and even a cookie table. Guest are encouraged to show up in their favorite Fred Rogers-style cardigan, naturally.

This year's event was the first one since 2019 and featured four cardigans knit by yours truly:

Patterns are, left to right, Ellyce, Ramona, Edinburgh, and Good Neighbor (all Ravelry links)

Katie asked me if there were any celebrities at the event, and yes, there were! While most were names only locals were know, I'm confident many of you will recognize this man with my brother and sister-in-law:

Speedy delivery!

David Newell (aka Mister McFeely) is nearly 84 years old but is always willing to show up for events like this. The line to meet him was long all night, in large part because he always takes time to talk to each and every person. Here's a little trivia for you: Do you know where his character got his name? Fred Rogers' middle name was McFeely!

I didn't manage to get a photo of the whole cookie table -- in truth, it would have been pretty difficult because it was several tables long and contained 42 different varieties! But I did snap one shot of these cookies, which no one seemed to be taking because they were too cute to eat!

I think it's also worth noting that whoever made these cookies also had them displayed on a very Pittsburgh setting!

So that is the Cardigan Party in a nutshell! No one mentioned it, but it was clear to me that I have two cardigans to knit for next year, for my father and sister-in-law, who were forced to wear store-bought cardigans to the event.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Unraveled, Week 46/2022

Happy hump day, friends! It's another gloomy one here, and it feels quite a lot like winter. Yesterday we got our first measurable snow of the season -- a bit more than an inch, according to the National Weather Service. It was coming down in very big clumps for a while there, and some of it stuck to the grass and the tops of things like garbage cans, but it's all melted this morning (I'll have to be very careful about wet leaves on my run this morning). I have the lights on in my bedroom/home office already, so you know it's very dark outside, so I apologize in advance for the poor quality of the photos in this post.

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers and a check-in on my crafting and reading.

Truthfully there has not been a ton of knitting since Monday because I've been focused on finishing up my combo spin. As of this morning, this is all that's left to be spun for the third bobbin of singles, and I'm very confident that it will be completed today:

I was anxious to get this wrapped up because I was expecting my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown Set to show up this week -- which it did, yesterday!

I decided to get the fiber set this year, so I have 24 bags containing 10 g of fiber each. I will not be waiting until December 1 to start spinning because, aside from the fact that I won't be home all of the month, we have some big things happening mid-December and I have a feeling my crafting time will be seriously curtailed. So I'm hoping I can wrap up the combo spin this week and get started on my spinning of this fiber next week.

It has been a heck of week for my reading, with five finishes (though two of those were extremely short, so don't be too impressed).

The first and my favorite of the bunch was The Marriage Portrait, the next Read With Us selection. I think by now you all know how much I love Maggie O'Farrell's writing, and this book just blew me away. The subject of the novel is Lucrezia de'Medici, the teenaged daughter of Cosimo de'Medici who is married off to the duke of Ferrara after her older sister, who had been betrothed to him, dies suddenly. At the very beginning, the couple is in an isolated hunting lodge, and she is convinced that he will kill her while they are there. The story then goes back and forth in time, giving us a full picture of Lucrezia's short life in the dazzling setting of Renaissance Florence. The writing is absolutely spectacular and the story compelling. I won't give any spoilers, but I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised by a twist at the end that I did not see coming -- and I expect we'll be discussing it in depth when we meet in January! I gave it 5 stars.

Over the weekend, I listened to the audiobook of The Boys, which Bonny recently recommended. Following her advice, I did not read any synopsis or reviews of the book before I started it, and I'm glad I did. This is one of those books where you will have a particular opinion of the characters and then there will be a moment where everything you thought you knew gets flipped on its head. I will not share any details beyond that because I think, like Bonny, that it's best to go into this book as a blank slate. I found it to be really well written and thought provoking, though I will caution you that it is, in many ways, a pandemic book and one that deals with the isolation and loneliness of the pandemic, so if that is something you're not ready to deal with, you may want to skip this one. I gave it 4 stars.

I picked up A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance several weeks ago when it was a Kindle deal because the author is one of those featured in this season's lineup in the speaker series I'm subscribed to, and I find I enjoy the lectures even more when I've read the book the authors are speaking on. This is a nonfiction work that explores the contradictory role of Black artists and performers in American culture -- how the Black body can seem to be simultaneously invisible and invaluable depending on how it serves white culture at any given moment. It's also partly a memoir, and the writing reflects the author's work as both a poet and a critic. I suspect there's a lot I didn't fully understand as a white reader of this book, but I found it to be really interesting and learned a lot of new things. I'll probably have to reread it at some point. I gave it 4 stars.

The two very short works were both read yesterday, so that should give you an indication of what I mean when I say "short"!

I was delighted to find that Claire Keegan's newest work, Foster, was available on Hoopla, which meant no wait. The digital version claimed it had 60-some pages, but I think it actually had fewer than that. As you'd expect from something so short, the writing is very spare and leaves a lot to the reader to intuit. The gist of the plot is this: the unnamed narrator, a young girl who is one of many children in a family that is struggling financially, is taken to live with a childless couple over the summer, and while she's there, she learns what it's like to live in a home where there is affection and care. My main complaint about this book is the same one I had about Keegan's last novel: There's just not enough. This felt to me like the start of a novel but not a complete one. But there is skill require to evoke strong emotions without saying much, and for that I give her credit. I gave it 3 stars.

As the cover indicates, Alice Hoffman's The Bookstore Sisters is, truly, a short story at just 36 pages. It was a title I picked up for free through the Amazon First Reads program; I'm much more selective about picking up books through this program now, but because I know I have enjoyed the Hoffman books I've read, I was willing to take a chance on this one (and it's so short, even if it was bad, I wouldn't have spend much time on it). It turned out to be a quite enjoyable about two sisters who have long been estranged and the family bookstore that brings them back together. It was a pleasant way to spend a half an hour or so on a gloomy afternoon. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently tackling a brick of a book -- Demon Copperhead, which I'm reading in hardback. I'm only 30 pages in but am enjoying the voice of the title character, and I'm hoping I can find some extra reading time (so far I've only picked it up before bed) so make some headway, because this is not a book I want to carry with me on our trip!

Tonight the Mister and I are attending the WQED Cardigan Party, back in person after two years off for COVID, and our cardigans are ready!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, November 14, 2022

How I Spent My Long Weekend

I think it's fair to say that here in Western Pennsylvania, we're past the beautiful days of autumn and have officially entered what I think of as Gloom Season. As I mentioned in my last post, we had a very rainy day on Friday as the remnants of the hurricane moved through; we actually ended up with more than two inches and set a new record! Fortunately it stayed relatively mild that day, but overnight the temperature dropped, and this weekend was downright chilly in addition to being gloomy. That made it a good weekend to stay inside!

I didn't do a ton of crafting over the weekend, but I did manage to start and finish a hat!

If the pattern looks familiar, that's because it's another iteration of the same pattern used in the cowl I recently finished. The yarn dyer was kind enough to send me yarn support to create the hat pattern, and I wasted no time. I've already written up a draft of the pattern, too, so now that the first sample is complete, I just need to do some calculations to figure out yarn requirements. I say "first sample" because I am planning to knit a second hat with the colors reversed.

I also worked a bit on my Recalibrate and am nearly finished with the third mini skein stripe:

The light (or lack thereof) is not really helping with the colors here; this is a better representation of the mini skeins:

I'm still not sure if this sweater is going to look totally wild or totally amazing with all the colors, but I'm committed to it at this point. The rows are long but mindless, so I think if I could just settle down and focus on it, I could make some real progress.

I know that's not a ton of knitting to show for a long weekend, but I also did a lot of laundry, cleaned bathrooms, ran errands, cooked, walked, and slept in -- it was just what I needed! Here's hoping your week is off to a good start!

Friday, November 11, 2022

Wet Friday

It's a very wet Friday here, as we have the remnants of Hurricane Nicole moving through today. I've taken the day off from work, as Rainbow is off from school (the trimester ended yesterday, so today is a teacher in-service day), but I have a busy day planned. This morning I'm going to get fingerprinted to get PSA PreCheck, and this afternoon we have an appointment to pick out linens for the bat mitzvah and then are headed to have a dress for the event altered. But we have a very calm weekend planned, so I am hoping to make some significant progress on my Recalibrate!

Here is where it stands this morning (apologies for the terrible photo quality -- it's not easy to take a photo when it's so dark outside even with the sun up!). I'd originally planned to knit a stripe on one side and then the other, but then I decided to put smaller stripes of the semisolid blue in between the mini skeins, and because I don't want even more ends to weave in, I'm keeping that big skein attached. I have worked out that I can work five garter ridges with half of each mini skein, and with two ridges in the blue in between, that means I will need to use seven mini skeins on each side, so here's the progression I've worked out:

I realize looking at it that I've arranged the colors right to left in the photo, but I think you can still get the idea. I'm more or less putting them in an order that gradually goes from dark to light, and I'm trying to make sure that there are colors in common in the stripes to the left and right of each.

What I'm most happy about with this project is that my math to rework it for my gauge seems to be working out just fine thus far, and I think if I need to make adjustments as I get further along, I should be able to do it on the fly. I am hoping that I can speed up my progress on it now that I've figured out a few key things!

I hope your Friday isn't too soggy and you have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Unraveled, Week 45/2022

Good morning, friends! And I do mean GOOD morning -- we woke up to some very happy election results in Pennsylvania. I know the news isn't good everywhere this morning, but I'm feeling much less anxious this morning.

It is Wednesday, which means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers!

I am continuing to work on my Recalibrate, though it hasn't seen a ton of attention the past couple of days. I have finished my first side stripe and determined that I can knit 10 rows on each side with one mini skein, so my next step will be to pick up along the other side of the front and back strips. I also cannot seem to get the color of those strips to be accurate no matter what I do. I played with things in this photo, but in real life it's a bit more green. Oh well!

The reason this hasn't gotten a lot of attention so far this week is because during the day I've been focused on spinning. I'm expecting my holiday fiber minis set to be mailed next week, and I realized that I should really get a move on if I want to finish up my combo spin before that arrives. I did manage to finish up the second bobbin of singles yesterday.

The orange bobbin is the one I just finished, and it looks to me like it might be a bit fuller than the first bobbin, but it'll all get evened out in the plying.

I'm hoping to soon have another project on the needles because I received some yarn in the mail on Monday (which I had to retrieve from our next-door neighbor's stoop because our mail carrier keeps delivering my packages to the wrong address -- who knew it was so hard to deliver to the right house on a street with only 10 houses?!).

The yarn on the left will be wound and cast on first, as it's going to become a hat pattern to match the recently finished cowl. Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks was kind enough to send me these two skeins for the new sample, which (obviously) will have just two colors. I'll probably actually end up knitting two hats, with the colors reversed. The yarn on the right is the Pigskin Party exclusive colorway from Fibernymph Dye Works and it was a surprise colorway, so I am delighted to have received it and love it. It came with two mini skeins as well, which I likely won't use with the main color but can add to my collection.

Reading has been going pretty well this week, and I finished three books.

First up was an ARC that I received from NetGalley and Flatiron Books in return for an honest review. The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill is part history and part thriller. As the title implies, the Nazi plot to assassinate the three world leaders is a major focus, but the book also covers a lot of the diplomacy, the planning, and the espionage that occurred behind the scenes during World War II. I've read WWII-era books quite extensively, though quite a lot of them have been fiction and many have focused mostly on the Holocaust. This book gave me an entirely new perspective and taught me some new things. For instance, did you know that there was a Nazi special operations effort that freed Mussolini from his Allied jailers? I also got a much better picture of just how many Soviet deaths there were as a result of the effort to push back the Nazis on the Eastern European front. My one minor complaint about this book is that every single chapter seems to end with some sort of cliffhanger, which I think is a bit unnecessary when a book is nonfiction and covering historical events, but I suppose if you are someone who likes fictional thrillers and don't normally read nonfiction, this might be an inducement to keep you reading. I learned a lot and found it easy to read, which is something I look for in any work of nonfiction. I gave it 4 stars. (And if this book sounds interesting to you, there's a Goodreads giveaway for it starting tomorrow!)

I wanted something easy and happy after reading about war, so I picked a book I'd heard a lot about and bought when it was a Kindle deal a few weeks ago. A Psalm for the Wild-built is a sweet science fiction novella set in a world in which robots gained self-awareness and wandered off into the wilderness some time before. A nonbinary tea monk (someone whose job is to listen to people talk about their problems and brew them tea) sets off to try to discover why they don't feel fulfilled in their life and encounters a robot that is on its own journey to learn more about humans. I am not a big reader of science fiction, but really the only "science fiction-y" aspect of this story is what I've just described to you. At its heart, this is a story about self-discovery and friendship, and it's quite lovely. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, I finished an audiobook last night. I have never read any of Sally Rooney's books, and so when I saw that Beautiful World, Where Are You was available from Hoopla (meaning no wait), I decided to give it a go. I did enjoy having someone with an Irish accent read the book to me, as it felt a little more authentic, but I found the book to be just okay. I enjoyed the writing but thought the characters were a little unrealistic, particularly in the e-mails the two main female characters wrote to one another. I also wasn't expecting such sexually explicit scenes (not that I have an issue with them per se, but it felt a little awkward to be listening to them while I was out exercising). I'd be open to reading more of her books but also not rushing to read them. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm currently a little more than 100 pages into The Marriage Portrait, which I am absolutely loving, and have just started A Little Devil in America ahead of the author's visit as part of the local speaker series I'm subscribed to.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, November 07, 2022

When Monday Is a Rest

I'm sure the people who look forward to Mondays are few and far between, but today, I am one of them. I usually don't enjoy Mondays, but we're coming off a busy weekend and I am looking forward to the relative calm of the daily routine. The stuff keeping us busy was good stuff (Rainbow went to the bat mitzvah of one of her friends from preschool, the Mister and I had a date night, the kid and I volunteered at a clothing drive at our synagogue, and we had family over for dinner last night), but busy is busy.

We also had a weekend in which it felt more like June than November. It was so warm in the house last night that we slept with the windows open!

Although I didn't get a ton of crafting time over the weekend (because in addition to all the activities, I still had to do the usual laundry and cleaning and chores that get done over the weekend), I did make some progress on my Recalibrate. The pattern has you knit the two center strips (one for the front one for the back) first, then you knit the sides by picking up stitches along each side of them and casting on stitches to bridge the gap between them. I am planning on making the sides of my sweater match one another, so I'll be knitting one side and then the other with each mini skein as I go (I figured it would be easier to weigh each mini skein as I knit with it and break it when I've used roughly half than to divide them ahead of time).

I have wound nine of the dozen mini skeins to start, leaving out the ones that don't quite seem to match the others. But I've been pleasantly surprised by how the colors in those I've wound have changed from hank to center-pull ball:

I am hoping that the nine mini skeins (which are each 20 g and 80 yards) will be enough for the body. The three that have not been wound all have shades of green, brown, and/or orange and rather go together, so if they're not needed for the sweater, they'll work beautifully together in a charity hat.

And with that, it's time to start my work week. Happy Monday-ing!

Friday, November 04, 2022

FO Friday

Rainbow and I have been in agreement that this week should already have been over at least a day ago, but today is, in fact, Friday. I'm hoping it goes by quickly and easily!

I'm finishing this week with two finished projects. First, the as-yet-unnamed cowl:

I still have to block it, which will smooth out the surface a bit and stretch it a bit widthwise, but I did weave in all 10 ends (the only real downside to using five different mini skeins). On my to-do list is writing up the pattern, which shouldn't take too long. I'm also planning to adjust the stitch pattern for a hat, likely in a thicker yarn and using only two colors.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished up yet another scrappy charity hat. I called this one "Bottom of the Scrap Barrel" because I really didn't have much yarn left in my bag of Fibernymph Dye Works scraps -- as evidenced by the concentration of blues at the top.

To give you an idea of just how much yarn has been used up recently, here's the current state of the Giant Bag 'o Scraps:

I went looking back through my archives to see if I had posted a photo of it when it was full but couldn't find one, so suffice it to say that this bag is around 17 inches wide and nearly 20 inches deep and was overflowing at its fullest. Most of what's left in there now is non-superwash scraps. The ziplocks off to the side are exclusively Fibernymph leftovers, and most of those are sport weight. So I think it's fair to say that we have done a good job of using up the scraps.

After finishing up these two projects, I found myself without any active knitting (shhh, I know I still have Rainbow's long-languishing Hitchhiker in progress), so I finally cast on a project I've been meaning to start for a while -- my Recalibrate.

After doing a bunch of swatching, talking with the designer, talking with other knitters, and generally pondering this project, I've decided to go with the gauge I like (which is quite different from the gauge given in the pattern) and the measurements I want to have in the finished garment and basically recalculating the whole pattern. Fortunately this pattern lends itself well to this adjustment, or at least it seems it does at this point -- I have only just started, after all! I am using -- surprise, surprise -- Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce, my go-to fingering weight, in a semi-tonal called Icy Blue (which in reality is more blue and less green than it appears here) as well as my set of mini skeins from last year's holiday set. I may omit one or two of the minis that don't quite seem to match my color scheme, but generally these are the colors you can expect to see.

Happy weekending, friends!

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Unraveled, Week 44/2022

Good morning from a very foggy Pittsburgh! Goodness, it's been a week. Rainbow is back to school today after being home with me the last two days. She was feeling better by the end of the weekend, but she still had a fever until yesterday, so therefore she was not allowed to be at school. She was disappointed to miss two days (how many kids are upset about missing school?!), but thanks to how connected they are because of the pandemic, she was able to check in with all her teachers, get the material they covered in class, and do her homework. I wasn't really taking care of her all the time like I had to when she was little, but having her home was still a disruption to my normal routine, and on top of that I had a 40-page report to get through for work the past two days. I'm very happy to have the house to myself for a bit today!]

Yet another reason to be happy today is that it's Wednesday, which means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers -- my favorite blogging day of the week! I hope you will forgive the quality of the photos (due to the aforementioned fog).

I found myself rather anxious while Rainbow was unwell (because right now, with all the illnesses going around, how could I not be?), so plain knitting was all I could really handle. That meant more scrappy charity hats. The most recent one may be my favorite yet, probably due to all the really bright colors I selected. And I've already started another, though this might be the last for a while -- I'm nearly out of scraps and I want to send off the ones I've knit this weekend.

One of my goals for today is to finish up the colorwork cowl I've been designing, which should be doable as I've got maybe two dozen rounds left to knit (and, conveniently, a staff meeting to sit through later this morning). I already have my tech editor on alert for the pattern, so once the sample is done, I'll be motivated to write up the instructions.

I haven't gotten a ton of reading done this past week but did finish two books.

The Round House, which won the National Book Award for fiction, is our next Erdrich-along book for discussion. It was a hard read in the sense that it deals with some very upsetting topics and is quite emotional, but as usual, Erdrich presents them and discusses them in beautiful ways. The story is told from the point of view of a 13-year-old boy, and that Erdrich can do this so convincingly really tells you about her skill as a writer. The story deals with the themes of revenge, justice, and whether doing something truly wrong can be the right thing to do if it serves a larger purpose. It also touches on a theme that's common in Erdrich's books: who has jurisdiction over the land and how ambiguity in this area can have far-reaching consequences. I gave this one 4 stars.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished listening to The Chosen and the Beautiful. It's a retelling/reimagining of The Great Gatsby, which is not one of my favorites, and I really only picked this up because it's being discussed this month on the Novel Pairings podcast. In this version, narrated by Jordan Baker, there's an element of magic and the presence of some dark supernatural elements, all set against a backdrop of rising xenophobia. Jordan has grown up as the Vietnamese American adopted daughter of a socialite, and she finds herself navigating a society in which she is both a thing of fascination and someone who doesn't quite fit in anywhere. It's an interesting take on the classic, but I didn't love it, probably because I've never loved Gatsby, but also because I found some parts of it confusing. I'm looking forward to hearing it discussed on the podcast. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm currently reading a nonfiction book about WWII from Netgalley, and next up to start is The Marriage Portrait. What are you making and reading this week?