Monday, January 30, 2023

Embrace in 2023: January

Usually January is a month that drags, but this month has flown by -- no doubt because it has been so unusually busy. And suddenly it's the last Monday of the month, which means it's time to check in on my One Little Word. Thank you to Carolyn for hosting our monthly OLW link-ups!

As I was reflecting over the weekend about how Embrace has played a role this past month, I realized that there were two areas of my life this past month when I have not only accepted things but welcomed them. First there was the busy pace of work. While there are projects typical to this time of year, I was surprised by three atypical projects hitting at once. I can't say I didn't complain about the volume of work, but I also knew that the only way to get past it was through, so I put my head down and got it done. One of the benefits of working from home is that it is easier to work late if I need to (now that I no longer need to run out the door to pick Rainbow up at school), so I did just that. On the first Friday of the year, I worked until 6 so that I could finish up some work and not be thinking about it all weekend. Did I enjoy being so consumed by work? No, but I recognized that the more I embraced the volume of work, the sooner I'd be done with it.

The second area I've embraced this month has been running. For as long as I've been running as part of my exercise routine, I've been known to say that I hate it -- that is, I hate the actual running while I do it but love having run. This month, though, I've noticed a bit of a change. Instead of dreading my runs, I've found myself looking forward to them (what?). I've even gone out in rain, snow, and slush despite knowing I would get completely soaked, and in the most recent instance, I stayed out for my full usual distance even though I kept thinking about how much nicer it would be to be warm and dry at home. Despite the squishing in my shoes, I kept thinking, "I can't quit now -- I haven't gotten my miles in yet!" I did order some waterproof trail shoes to avoid the squishing on future damp days, but I think it's clear that I've now fully embraced an identity as a runner. I am feeling stronger and have increased my endurance (I can regularly run 2 miles straight without stopping to catch my breath, and I've even gotten to the point where my walking days don't feel quite as satisfying. Who am I?!

These aren't major things, but I am encouraged by them because they show some growth (continuing my word from last year!) and flexibility given that I generally like my day-to-day life to be predictable. I'm looking forward to seeing what I embrace next!

Friday, January 27, 2023

Fighting the Gloom

I have often said that what gets to me the most during the winter is not the cold but the gloom. Supposedly Pittsburgh has fewer sunny days each year than Seattle (you know, the city notorious for rainy days?), and that's definitely the case during the winter. While our winter has been mild thus far and we've yet to have a major weather event, it has been very gloomy, this week especially. To give you an idea of what I mean by gloom, I'll tell you that our bedroom -- the corner of which is my "home office" -- has four big windows in it, and we have the type of shades that allow light in while still giving us privacy. Almost every day this week, I've needed to turn on lights during the day.

I've also been seeking color in my knitting, reaching for bright yarn. That's certainly the case with the most recent charity hat:

I finished this one up last night, though I'm still contemplating a giant pompom because there's a good amount of yarn left. It turned out a little bigger than intended (and I know exactly why -- I should have stopped increasing one round earlier), but it'll fit someone. I made the ribbing fairly deep so that it can either be worn with it folded up for extra warmth around the ears or worn down for a slouchier look.

I couldn't go too long (like a matter of seconds) before I'd cast on another version of the hat:

I didn't get very far, obviously, because I started this about 15 minutes before I went to bed, but you can get the idea. I'll be doing one less set of increases on this to see if my formula works out better. The yarn I'm using is from Knit Picks: one skein of Felici that I think got nibbled by a m*th and a partial skein of Essential (now Stroll) held together. I've got some other partial and single skeins I can add in if needed. I think the marled look with a self-striping yarn should be fun.

My main goal for today and this weekend, though, is to finish up these singles:

I've gotten through half of the fiber, but these singles are very fine, so it's taking a good amount of time to spin. I know it will be worth it in the end, but I think I need to do something much thicker for my next spin as a palate cleanser.

Today's plans include baking challah, as we're having my brother and sister-in-law (and, I assume, my dog-nephew) for dinner, but first I've got a run planned to break in some new shoes that I'm hoping will keep my feet warm and dry; I've had two runs through snow/sleet/slush this week from which I've come home totally soaked. Here's to the weekend!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Unraveled, Week 4/2023

Good morning, friends! I had to wake up a very grumpy teen this morning who was hoping for a 2-hour delay due to a snow storm -- but when we got up, it hadn't yet started snowing, so no delay. It has since started, though, so I'm going to keep this quick so I can get out for my run early before it gets really messy (though I expect to get wet).

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers. There has been a lot of crafting and reading here this past week. Let's start with the knitting -- it's all about the charity hats!

I finished this beauty up on Sunday evening, though I haven't yet blocked it, as you can probably tell. The pattern is Fox Gap (Ravelry link) by my friend Kristen Jancuk. I once again used Fibernymph Dye Works Confetti Tweed DK, this time in the colorway Electric Purple, which looks purple in some lights and pink in others. This was a very engaging knit that I would absolutely make again, though if I'm honest, I am not wild about the pointy top (but I'm fairly confident I could block that out).

I've got another charity hat going, though it's significantly less interesting:

I'm using FDW yarn again, this time Bona Fide DK in a self-striping colorway called Margarita Swirl that I won in Lisa's makealong last year (if you were wondering because you thought these weren't really my colors). I'm making this one top down, using a cast-on method I've "unvented" and used in my double-ended double-thickness hat pattern (which, I should mention, I finally wrote up this weekend and sent off to my tech editor). I am contemplating using it for a general top-down hat pattern as well that would be designed for any yarn and any gauge, so this is a bit of a test run for that. I've completed the crown increases and now just have to knit until I decide it's long enough. I'm hoping to get this done this week so I can send off a stack of hats by the end of the month.

After two busy weeks at work, things have finally calmed down to a more manageable pace, and that has meant more time for reading -- hooray! I've finished three books since this time last week.

After a long wait at the library, my hold finally came up on Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution. This was a very buzzy new release in the fall that I was very much looking forward to reading, and it did not disappoint. This is historical fiction with a dash of magic that I'd put firmly in the category of Dark Academia. Even leaving the magical aspects out, it raises some very big questions about colonialism and the ethical issues surrounding translation, the latter of which I'd never before contemplated. This is definitely not a book for everyone, but if the idea of a combination of, say, Harry Potter and The Secret History appeals to you, you'll enjoy it. My only criticism is that the characters didn't talk the way I'd imagine people actually talked in the time in which it was set, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment. I gave it 4 stars.

I needed a new audiobook to listen to over the weekend, and on Mary's recommendation, I picked up Becoming Duchess Goldblatt. If you aren't on Twitter, then the name of Duchess Goldblatt might be unfamiliar to you, but essentially she's a much-loved fictional character created by an anonymous woman, and this book is her memoir. I was only marginally aware of the character, but I still very much enjoyed this book, especially the exchanges between the author and Lyle Lovett (who actually reads his parts in the book). You don't have to know anything about DG to enjoy this book, and it was an easy two-day listen for me that I'd recommend. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, I read a quick YA novel this week. I Must Betray You is set in Communist Romania in 1989, starting shortly before the revolution that would topple the notorious dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. The narrator is 17-year-old Cristian, who has recently been force to become an informer at a time when everyone is fearful of everyone else and can trust no one. The book is a heartbreaking look at a time and place where everyone lived in fear, and Sepetys includes an extensive resource list at the end for additional sources for learning more about the repressive regime at the time. I'm probably not the target audience for this book, but I enjoyed it and learned a lot about what it might have been like to live in Communist Romania. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm still reading The Transit of Venus but have less than 100 pages to go, so here's hoping I can finish it up this week!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, January 23, 2023

Best Friends

It was hard to wake up this morning, as it's Monday and a gloomy, snowy one to boot, but I woke up satisfied with a very relaxing weekend. It actually felt a bit like a long weekend, as Friday was very quiet at work and I was able to get a lot done around the house, including plying an entire skein of handspun:

This is my second finished skein of the year, and it was spun up in less than a week! This is the most recent Southern Cross Fibre club shipment to enter my stash, as it was December's colorway. It's called Best Friends and was inspired by this photo from the movie How to Train Your Dragon:

I spun this one up exactly like the previous one -- end to end, then wound into a center-pull ball and plied from both ends. Apparently I spun this one a bit finer, because I ended up with about 75 more yards (approximately 470 in this skein):

The base on this shipment was grey merino wool, which I think added so much depth to the saturated colors David used. It's not too obvious in the photos, but in real life you can see the subtle shaded effect. The colors were very much in my happy place as far as preferences were concerned, and this skein goes very well with the pale blue I finished last weekend, so I think a striped shawl using the two may be in order.

Let's see how I'm doing in my SCF spin-down project, shall we?

Two of the bags have now been spun, and the next shipment on the wheel is one that was hiding when I took this photo and later found under some project bags. Meanwhile, David has posted themes for February (he's doing a monthly spin-along this year), and they include warm colors and combo spin. So perhaps I will spin up a couple of colorways together for a combo spin and spin up that reddish fiber in the top row to go with the last combo spin I completed (I'd still like to use it for a lightweight sweater for me, but I'd need a bit more yardage if I want it to have long sleeves).

I don't know that I can manage to keep up the pace on the spinning for the entire year, but it's a good start, and if I end the year with fewer bags of fiber than I started with, I'll be happy!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Much More My Speed

Happy Friday, friends! For a short week, it's taken its time going by, but we have at last reached the end of it. I'm happy to report that this week was much more relaxed at work (probably due to the hectic pace of the previous two weeks), so there has been more downtime and less stress. And my projects are moving right along.

My current charity hat now looks like an actual hat with actual cables! I'm almost through the first repeat (of two) of the body chart, and though all this cabling certainly isn't fast, I do love the look of it.

The only thing I am not loving is how ruffly the tubular cast-on edge is; though it's less apparent when the brim is stretched to be worn, I'll be doing a little research to see if there's a way to tighten it up.

My spinning obsession is continuing, and yesterday afternoon I finished up my Best Friend singles, so later today I'll be winding them off the bobbin so I can start to ply.

The fiber below the bobbin is the "extra" bag of Southern Cross fiber that I discovered hiding amid my project bags, and it'll be the next thing on the wheel. It's a 70% superfine merino/30% mulberry silk blend in the colorway Forest Gathering that's just begging to be spun finely. I think I will likely split the fiber lengthwise so I can break up the color repeats a little and then plan to chain-ply.

We've got a fairly quiet weekend ahead of us -- the only thing on the calendar at present is dinner tomorrow evening for my father-in-law's 75th birthday -- so I am hoping it includes a lot of crafting time. I hope your weekend includes plans for the same!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Unraveled, Week 3/2023

One small joy of a long weekend and a resulting shorter work week is that it feels like Tuesday but is already Wednesday! And that means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers.

After two extraordinarily busy weeks at work, this week has started off much calmer, so that has meant both more time and more mental energy for crafting and reading. After finishing off the orange hat over the weekend, I wound yarn for and cast on a new charity hat:

It doesn't look like much (mostly because I've only knit two round past the ribbing, but also because there is zero sun out today), but this is the start of a Fox Gap (Ravelry link). I'm again using Fibernymph Dye Works Confetti Tweed DK, this time in Electric Purple. I did a tubular cast on and have just started the cables. I should be able to make some progress this evening after only managing one entire round yesterday.

The main reason I haven't knit that much on it is because I've been sucked in by my spinning again. I snapped this photo of my bobbin yesterday afternoon when the sun briefly came out and did a better job of showing the depth of color the gray fiber gives the dye:

I am hoping I can finish up the singles today, which could mean I'd be ready to ply as early as tomorrow. Perhaps.

Thanks to things finally calming down at work, I've had a bit more reading time, though I've only finished one book since this time last week.

I'd had Women Talking on my TBR list for a while, but when it came up in a Zoom over the weekend, I found it was available as an audiobook on Hoopla and the timing was perfect to start something new. At only about 6 hours in length, it was a two-day listen for me. There is a new movie coming out based on this book that's getting a lot of buzz, and I generally like to read the book first. This book is set in a fictional Mennonite community where it has recently been discovered that a series of rapes and sexual assaults against the women in the community have been perpetrated by their husbands and sons. There's not a lot that happens in this book; as the title suggests, all the "action" is around a group of women talking and trying to decide what to do -- do they do nothing? stay and fight? leave and face the unknown? All of their discussions are recorded by a man who recently returned to the community after he and his parents were expelled from it when he was a child; he has been charged with recording the minutes of their meeting because he can read and write and the women cannot. This is not an easy book, given the subject matter, but it takes on some big topics and does so surprisingly well given how short it is. It's very much a thinking book, one that will leave you thinking about the impossible decision the women are forced to make, the importance of community and tradition, and the bravery required to contemplate a future in an unknown world. I gave it 4 stars and am very much looking forward to seeing the movie!

I am still somewhere in the middle of The Transit of Venus and had planned to sit down with it and make some more substantial progress over the weekend, but I got distracted by the arrival of Babel from my library holds. I've been waiting for this very buzzy book from last year for quite a while, and I have gotten thoroughly absorbed by it.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, January 16, 2023

A Weekend of Finishing

Good morning, friends! As they say, what a difference a day makes -- or, in my case, a couple of days! I finally got a bit of a pause Friday afternoon after sending off another round of articles. There is still plenty of work to come, but I think I am over the hump on these three big projects. And a long weekend was the perfect antidote to all the stress of the workweek.

After not having much time to craft during the week, I made up for it over the past couple of days. Saturday was actually a pretty busy day because Rainbow had her regional Future City competition with her team from school and was at the event all day. The Mister and I joined her for the afternoon. Her team came in second place, which means they don't get to go to the national competition, but they won the Best Model and Students' Choice awards, so they have a lot of reason to be proud of themselves (and the team they lost to had twice as many students on it). Thanks to all that sitting around, I finished up both the charity hat and the socks I've been working on:

I also had time this weekend to ply up the skein of handspun that had been waiting patiently for about a week:

I am absolutely thrilled with this skein. It's South African Superfine Merino in the colorway Ice Shelf -- my first Southern Cross Fibre spin of the year. I spun all the singles onto one bobbin, then wound them off into a center-pull ball so that I could ply from both ends. The finished yarn is fingering to sport weight and approximately 395 yards. And I've already started spinning my next SCF spin, which I think will coordinate quite nicely with the most recent skein:

This is a colorway called Best Friends and was inspired by an image from the movie How to Train Your Dragon (David did a series of dragon-inspired colorways at the end of last year). The base is grey merino, so it adds some beautiful depth to the dyed color. I'm spinning this one the same way as Ice Shelf, with the hope that the resulting yarn will match well enough to use both skeins together in one project.

We are all off today for MLK Day, so we'll have a quiet day before it's back to the grind tomorrow. I'm hoping to spend some time at the wheel with a new library book!

Friday, January 13, 2023

Are We There Yet?

And by "there," I mean the end of the week. Friends, it has been another one of those weeks that never seem to end. Work has continued to be extremely busy -- unusually so, as I've found myself working on three large projects at once, and that doesn't happen often. I was also single-parenting much of this week while the Mister was on a work trip, and I had a board meeting last night, so my day didn't end until around 9 p.m. Today we've got an emergency trip to the orthodontist thanks to a wire that snapped earlier in the week. At least I know that when 5 o'clock rolls around, I will be done!

All that busy-ness means that I have not made much progress on any of my projects since you saw them last. That cake of handspun singles is still sitting next to my computer, waiting for me to start plying. I added a few rounds to the charity hat Wednesday evening, but it's hardly noticeable. The only project that actually looks different is the sock for Rainbow; I worked on it during the Read With Us Zoom discussion Wednesday evening to get past the heel turn and gusset so that I'd have it for last night's board meeting.

When the meeting started last night, I was more or less where the marker is; now I have about two more inches of foot to knit before the toe, which isn't much at all. I'm fairly certain Rainbow will have a new pair of socks this weekend.

That's all I have time for this morning! I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend, and I promise there will be more to see here on Monday.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Unraveled, Week 2/2023

I cannot tell you how many times today I have checked that it is, in fact, Wednesday. I started doubting it last night, when I took that trash can out (our pickup day is Wednesday) and noticed that none of our neighbors had done so yet. It's another one of those weeks when I am so busy with work that I lose track of what day it is! But thankfully technology has reassured me. It is Wednesday, and that means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers.

A couple of you expressed surprise last week that I had only one active WIP -- I was surprised myself! So I think it will come as a shock to no one that I cast on another project. It's a Beeswax Hat (Ravelry link) for charity -- a pattern I have been meaning to make for years!

I am about halfway through the main chart and hope to make some more progress during a Zoom staff meeting later today. Also pictured is Rainbow's second Felici sock, which, as you can see, is to the heel. I'm hoping to get through the heel and maybe the gusset before tomorrow evening so that I can have some good mindless knitting for a board meeting.

The yarn I am using for the hat is from a set of five DK-weight tweedy skeins I bought from Fibernymph Dye Works when Lisa was having her end-of-year sale in December (everything was 30% off, so I didn't feel too guilty). I do not have a lot of full skeins of solids/semisolids in my stash, especially as Rainbow has been using my scraps, and one of my goals this year is to knit more charity hats, so these fit in perfectly. Here are the rest of the skeins in the set:

I figure I'll use all the bright colors first and then incorporate some leftovers from them into whatever I make with the black.

I've also been spinning! I finished up my first bobbin of singles for the year and yesterday wound them into a center-pull ball so I can ply:

Though my reading time has been curtailed because of work busy-ness, the reading I have been doing this past week has been excellent. I've finished two very good books:

Though initially the predicted wait time for the 18th Inspector Gamache book was several months at my library, they wisely acquired more copies and the wait shrank significantly. And this was one I could not put down! A World of Curiosities centers on a case in the present time but also gives a significant view into the past and the first case Gamache and Beauvoir worked together. A great deal is revealed about their relationship, and as the relationships between the characters I've come to love so much are my favorite parts of this series, that made me very happy. The case itself was also brilliantly done and kept me guessing. This might be my favorite Gamache book yet! I gave it 5 stars.

The 12th book in the Maisie Dobbs series, Journey to Munich, takes us to Germany in 1938. Maisie has once again been enlisted by acquaintances in the British Secret Service to take on a case, this time posing as the daughter of a man imprisoned in Dachau who is valuable to the British government. Maisie soon has the opportunity to see just how dangerous things are becoming in Germany and for all of Europe. I listened to the audiobook over several days and found it to be quite entertaining and even a bit suspenseful. I'm already starting to dread getting to the end of the series, though I'm also eager to see how things go for Maisie! I gave this one 4 stars.

While I await my next hold from the library, I'm continuing to slowly make my way through The Transit of Venus. I'm about a quarter of the way through and am hoping to have more time to sit with it this weekend; this is a book that cannot be rushed through!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, January 09, 2023

New Year, New Word

2023 will be my fourth year of having a One Little Word. Unlike the three previous years, this year's word did not announce itself clearly. I weighed several words as 2022 came to a close, and I'm not entirely sure if I chose the best of the contenders, but as we are starting the second week of the new year, it's time to go with one.

Before I share my word, I want to share a story that I think will explain why I ultimately settled on it. Those of you who know me know that I like having a routine, that I don't like taking risks, that I am a rule follower, and so forth. I tend toward worrying and being anxious, so I like knowing what to expect. I've been known to turn down last-minute opportunities because I find the disruption unsettling and worry I will regret saying yes. But occasionally I will say yes. That was the case in the fall of my senior year in high school. I remember vividly being in the art studio (I was the only person in the AP Studio Art class, so I spent a lot of time there) when a couple of other students came to find me. That day, the members of the World Affairs Club were headed to a hotel downtown to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak. One of the members had fallen ill and was absent from school that day, so there was an extra ticket available. The school administrators decided that the fairest way to determine who would be offered the extra ticket was to put the names of all the other students in a pot and pull one -- and my name had been picked. I hesitated at first, because going on this trip would mean missing several classes, and the conscientious student in me was concerned about that. But the other students in the art studio at the time were commenting on how amazing it was to have the opportunity and how lucky I was to have been picked. And I realized that this really was a once-in-a-lifetime chance -- how many people can ever say they've been in the same room as the Dalai Lama? So I said yes. And it was incredible. I was even just a couple of feet away from him as he left the hotel ballroom after his address, and to this day, I don't remember anything about making up the work I missed, only what an extraordinary experience that was. And it was one I would have missed if I didn't avail myself of the opportunity.

What's that old saying about how we miss all the chances we don't take? That's very much on my mind right now. I'm not saying I'm ready to take big risks, but I do want to be more open to the opportunities that present themselves in my life. With that in mind, my One Little Word for 2023 is:

I'm looking forward to seeing where this word takes me over the next twelve months!

Friday, January 06, 2023

FO Friday: A Recalibrated Recalibrate

It feels a bit like cheating to start off the year with a finished project when most of it was knit in the previous year, but I think we all know by now that time is a meaningless construct. So here it is -- my first FO of 2022. Please forgive the awkward selfies; my in-house photographer had to stay late at school yesterday, and it was after sunset by the time she got home. Because we had sun yesterday for the first time since we returned home, I figured I'd take advantage and do the best I could.

Pattern: Recalibrate by Shana Cohen
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in Icy Blue (main color; used a full skein) and ten 20 g mini skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: November 3, 2022/January 2, 2023
Mods: where do I begin?

First, let me begin by saying that this pattern is fabulous and well worth the purchase price. Shana has included just about every possible detail that you need to complete this pattern, from photo tutorials of how certain techniques are used to details about how to use different colors to several options for fit. Most importantly, she has a detailed schematic and table of measurements of every section for each size (which turned out to be critical in making mine). This is also one of those garments that seems to look good on everyone, and it's very size inclusive, with finished bust sizes ranging from 34.25 inches all the way up to 70 inches.

The garment is knit in a modular fashion, with a fair number of provisional cast-ons and picking up of stitches (if you aren't a fan of the latter, don't let that deter you -- all the picking up is done at a 1:1 ratio, making it very straightforward). You start with the panels that fall directly in the center of the front and back, then pick up along the sides (casting on stitches in between to form the side of the neckline) and knit the fronts and backs, then join the side up to the armholes. The last steps are picking up and knitting the short sleeves and then picking up all around the bottom of the sweater.

While Shana does include some ways to modify the pattern to fit your body in particular, my modification was a bit more extreme. The gauge listed in the pattern -- 17 stitches and 34 rows over 4 inches/10 cm in garter stitch -- is one that I'd expect to use with a worsted or Aran weight yarn. But the pattern calls for fingering, and while I know that Shana intended the gauge to be that loose so that the finished garment would have drape, I knew that if I knit to that gauge, my sweater was going to stretch all out of shape and look really sloppy -- and, moreover, it was likely to wear out more quickly. So I decided to completely recalculate all the stitch counts, which seemed daunting at first but soon proved to be fairly straightforward.

The first thing to do was to get a gauge that I liked. I knit a good-sized swatch and washed and blocked it, and then I measured my gauge once I was satisfied. That ended up being about 24 stitches over 4 inches using a US 4/3.5 mm needle for me, and the resulting fabric had drape but also structure. Next, I went to the table of all the measurements -- and I mean ALL the measurements. Every "block" of the sweater appears in the schematic and has a corresponding measurement in the table, so all I had to do was pick the size with the measurements that came closest to the fit I wanted. Although Shana recommends a fair amount of positive ease, I decided I wanted a bit less, so I went with the 38 inch bust (I'm about a 35 inch bust, so that would give me 3 inches of positive ease).

The next step was to go to the schematic. I filled in the measurements for each section and then used my gauge to calculate how many stitches and rows I'd need to knit to get that measurement. Because knit fabric is flexible, I knew I could fudge it a little bit if I needed to, such as if the measurement told me I had to knit an odd number of rows but I actually needed to make it an even number.

Finally, there was the yarn to figure out. I'd known since last holiday season that I wanted to use most of the mini skeins from my Fibernymph Holiday Countdown set (there were two or three I didn't love and didn't think really went with the rest, so I excluded them). I was originally going to go from one mini to the next, but as I was knitting my first stripe, I decided that given how variegated some of the minis were it would make sense (and give a good visual resting point) to put a narrow stripe of the pale blue in between them. To determine how many rows to knit with each mini, I weighed the first one after I'd knit two rows, then four, etc., finally arriving at 10 rows to use up just around half so I could use the remainder for the mirrored stripe on the other side. Although I have somewhat of a gradient effect, that wasn't necessarily my plan from the outset; I started with the first, then picked the next by looking for another mini that seemed to share one or more colors as the previous one so that it would look like a natural progression. The final mini I used (on the bottom of the body) was a semisolid that came with a skein of self-striping, and I think it makes a nice neutral that doesn't detract from the variegated shades.

My final modification was to do an I-cord bind-off on the body to match those on the collar and sleeves. It's not called for in the pattern, but I think it makes a nice edge finish.

In total, I used just a little more than 1,000 yards of yarn, and despite the two-month gap between cast-on and bind-off, it really was a quick knit. I completely about half of it in the second week we were in Florida, and I only did a bit more extra knitting per day than usual while we were there. I would absolutely make this pattern again, and I think it would be amazing in handspun. If you are someone who is intimidated by sweaters because of shaping and seaming and all those "at the same time"s, then I'd encourage you to give this pattern a look. It's really just a series of rectangles with some clever joining techniques!

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Unraveled, Week 1/2023

Let's start that first number over for a new year of Unraveled posts! It's only Wednesday, and it's already been a long week (a not-so-great reminder of why I so rarely take time off from work -- I get everything dumped on me upon my return!), so I'm keeping this pretty short and to the point today. Thanks as always to Kat for hosting this weekly link-up!

I am delighted to tell you that I started off the new year with a new sweater! On Monday evening, I knit off the last few round of garter and finished off with an applied I-cord edging to match the sleeves and neckline. Naturally yesterday it rained all day and was dark and gloomy, so forgive the poor photo that does not do the colors justice.

It went in for a soak yesterday morning and is drying while it patiently waits for its photo shoot. I'll detail everything I did to make the pattern work for me once I have some modeled photos.

Now my only active WIP is the pair of socks I started for Rainbow back in December. They aren't terribly exciting, nor have they changed much since you saw them last, so I'll wait to share them once they are at least closer to being finished. I have an urge to start another sweater, but I think first I'll knit some charity hats, so a stash toss is in my future.

I managed to finish two books in the first two days of the new year, though don't expect that pace to continue!

First there was my reread of The Sentence, which I listened to on my first read. Although it was wonderful to have the author herself read it to me, I did quite miss quite a lot that I was able to pick up on this time around by reading with my eyes. I still loved it just as much, though I had an interesting experience reading it: I bought my copy from Birchbark Books, Louise Erdrich's shop, and was using the bookmark that came with it, and the book is largely set in the bookstore, with Erdrich as one of the characters. Very meta! There's so much to talk about with regard to this book, and I'm looking forward to our discussion for the Erdrich-along this weekend. I gave it 5 stars again on my second read.

I picked up the 11th installment of the Maisie Dobbs series, A Dangerous Place, at the tail end of my vacation and finished it on my run on Monday. There is joy and heartbreak in this book -- and that's just in the first several pages! It's clear that World War II is getting closer, and Maisie is getting increasingly drawn into the world of espionage. I'm committed to listening to the entire series on audio (they're all available via Hoopla, so I'll never have to wait when I'm ready for the next book), but the narrator did get on my nerves in this one by pronouncing the name Chana with the "ch" sound you'd use in the word "nacho." Don't readers check that sort of thing before they record. Anyway, I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently reading The Transit of Venus, which I took with me to Florida but didn't have a chance to start until we got back, and just got A World of Curiosities from the library yesterday. I won't have a ton of time to read this week, between work and evening meetings, but at least I have the weekend to look forward to!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, January 02, 2023

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Happy new year, friends! We are back home and slowly easing back into things in our last day of vacation (though Rainbow and I got up more or less at the usual time this morning so that tomorrow won't be such a shock).

I'm happy to tell you that we had no major travel issues yesterday. Our flight was slightly delayed, but it wasn't full and we got in just a little late. My brother-in-law and nephew were waiting for us in baggage claim and took us home. I'd cleaned the bathrooms and changed the sheets on the beds before we left, so all we had to do when we got home was unpack. The Mister made a quick trip to the supermarket to get us some things for breakfast, and he'll do a full shop later this morning for the week ahead. We're back to work and school tomorrow, and today will be for catching up.

Speaking of catching up, today is all about looking back at last year's crafting. I don't really keep detailed records of how much making I do from year to year, but I'd say it was a good year for me. I've certainly had more productive years in terms of total number of projects completed, but I'm very satisfied with some pretty epic projects that were done this year. Here are some highlights:


  • 9 sweaters (six adult, three baby)
  • 13 hats/head things (including seven charity hats)
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • 3 projects made from handspun (including one epic sweater project)
  • Nearly 15.5K yards used


  • 16 skeins spun, totaling more than 7,100 yards
  • 7 bags of Southern Cross Fibre used up

Here's my last spin of 2022, which was plied but not skeined and washed before we left (so I took care of that yesterday):

These are the two skeins I spun from my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown fiber minis. Originally I set out to separate the fiber minis into warm and cool colors and opened them only a few at a time. Then I realized that I probably should have opened all 24 and sorted them before I started spinning, so I changed my plan a bit and it still didn't entirely work out. The skein on the left is a bit more muted and the skein on the right more saturated, though you can see there are a couple colors in each that look like they should be in the opposite skein. But that's okay! I have a total of approximately 707 yards of sport to DK yarn, and I plan to use them for an Inspira Cowl (Ravelry link), a pattern I've had my eye on for more than a decade.

So what are my plans for 2023? I do have some, though I'm keeping them flexible because I know I'm often distracted by the new and shiny. First, I want to finish up my Recalibrate, and that should happen today as I have less than 10 rounds to go on the body. I have a handful of sweaters I'd like to knit, and I've set a goal of knitting at least six charity hats. I also want to spin up at least 12 bags/shipments of Southern Cross club fibre, and I'm going to pull out my entire stash of it to take another big picture to track it. I'm also hoping to do more crochet this year, starting with getting back to the blanket I started for Rainbow.

How was your 2022 crafting year? Do you have plans for 2023?