Monday, February 27, 2023

Embrace in 2023: February


It's the last Monday of the month, and that means it's time to check in with my One Little Word. Be sure to check in with Carolyn's link-up to see everyone's updates (and thanks, Carolyn, for hosting this monthly virtual get-together!).

I had to think a bit to figure out what I have embraced this month. There are the obvious things -- crafting, reading, getting outside and enjoying record high temperatures -- but those are things I've embraced in general and don't have to make a special effort to do. But last night we took my mother out to dinner, and it occurred to me that that simple act is pretty representative of something I have embraced in particular this month.

In generally, I'm a pretty cautious person. I'm a rule follower and avoid taking big risks. But there is such a thing as playing it too safe and missing out on life. And this month, even though it made me a little nervous, I did embrace some calculated risks going to out eat in restaurants, something I have not been comfortable doing for about three years. This is not something that's been easy for me. I've always been a germophobe and very uncomfortable in large crowds, so being out in public in cold and flu season when there's still a pandemic on is not something I've really wanted to do. But this month we had plans to go out with some friends, something we have not done in a long time, so I had to weigh the risks. Our community COVID levels have been low for a while, and flu cases have dropped significantly. We're all boosted (with the bivalent booster) and have had our flu shot. And truly I've been almost self-isolating at home because I'm still working remotely full time and don't go out much (and when I do go places, I'm still masking). So I decided I could accept a bit of risk. And you know what? It was okay. I won't say I wasn't a little anxious, but I think it was good for me to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

There's a fine line between being careful and living your life in fear, and the truth is that I can be extremely careful and still get sick. It's also not realistic for me to stay home and not see anyone but my immediate family, so there will be times when I'm going to need to live with risk. I don't think I'm going to ditch the mask anytime soon, but I feel like I've taken a healthy step forward in living my life in this new normal.

Friday, February 24, 2023


Happy Friday, friends. I'm not sure why, but this week has felt especially long, so I'm very happy to see Friday finally arrive. After a beautiful day of false spring yesterday, in which we set a new record with our third day in February to hit or pass 70 degrees F, we are back to winter temps and gloom today. I will soon be bundling up for my walk and heading out into it.

I mentioned on Wednesday that I was gearing up to start a Love Note sweater, and now I can officially say that I'm ready to cast on. I swatched and am close enough on my gauge (I'm half a stitch off over four inches, but this fabric is so flexible that I'm pretty sure that's good enough).

The fabric is much lighter in color than I expected, and it's a little out there for me, but I'm going with it. When I cast on, I'll be alternating skeins, which means I'll have four strands of yarn going at once, but this seems to be such a fast knit for most people that I think I can manage. I'm going to be knitting a size small (41.5 in. bust), which will give me about six inches of positive ease. And I'll be knitting on size 8/5 mm needles, which are sure to feel like broomsticks to me!

Meanwhile, I'm closing in on the toe of Rainbow's Felici sock (the first sock of the pair), which got a fair amount of attention yesterday.

On top of today's to-do list, though, is some handspun plying. I finished up the third and final bobbin of singles for my current spin yesterday afternoon, and as long as work cooperates, I should be able to ply, skein, and wash today.

I've got a couple of Zooms this weekend, and my mother is coming home from Florida on Sunday, so I'm planning to have her over for dinner on Sunday. Other than that, I'll be doing the usual weekend chores, getting in some extra crafting and reading time, and trying to catch up on some sleep. I hope you have a good weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday for February's One Little Word check-in!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Unraveled, Week 8/2023

It's a very gloomy morning here, so I ask your forgiveness for the quality of the photos in this post. We are expecting rain all day, off and on. Then tomorrow they're predicting a high of 72, followed by a retreat to the 30s on Friday. I can't remember such a roller coaster of an end to winter before!

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my hat pattern on Monday -- and many thanks to those of you who purchased the pattern as well! I really had not expected much because the pattern is so similar to others out there, but I've been very pleasantly surprised.

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to give an update on my making and my reading! I am very happy to report that I have an FO to share today:

Pattern: Hive Mind (Ravelry link) by Adrian Bizilia from Yarnitecture by Jillian Moreno
Yarn: my handspun, a combo spin of two Southern Cross Fibre colorways
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: February 13/February 21
Mods: corrected the errors in the pattern

These are technically not finished finished finished because they still need a good blocking (as you can tell from their slight wonkiness), but the knitting is done and all the ends have been woven in. And I am very glad to have them done, because they were not the best knitting experience. I've already expressed my frustration with the errors in the pattern, though those were easy to correct. The other issue was just the general fussiness and discomfort. I generally enjoy stranded colorwork, but the small circumferences and dealing with some tension issues meant that these were physically uncomfortable to knit when it came to the thumbs and the tops of the hands. While the patterning on the thumbs is very clever in that, if you look closely to see it, the pattern is uninterrupted from the hand, there are some stretches of the background color across the transition from front to back of the thumb that can result in some tension issues if you're not careful.

I also generally don't love the placement of the thumb on the palm side of the hand like it is in this pattern. I know that's a sort of feature of a certain tradition of mitten knitting, but anatomically, that's not where my thumbs are. I much prefer a thumb that comes out of the side of the hand. But they're done; they fit Rainbow (so she'll get them once they're blocked); and I still have a bit more than 300 yards of yarn left of the combo spin, so I can use the remainder for some other mitts/mittens or even a pair of sock for me. I've posted specifics about the errors I found on my Ravelry project page, which is one of only a handful. No one else seems to have noticed the issues, though one other crafter did note that the ribbing should be longer (and, in my opinion, done on a smaller needle) and the hand shorter, and I agree with those assessments. I also did a tubular cast-on for 2x2 ribbing for the first time with these, and while blocking might help, I'm not terribly impressed with it at the moment.

Now that those are done, I'm still working on a pair of Felici socks for Rainbow, but one knitting project is never enough, so I'm planning my next cast-on. I've been craving some sweater knitting, so I think the time is finally right to cast on a Love Note sweater. This seems to be one of those patterns that everyone has knit, and I've certainly had my eye on it for a long time. I've even had some yarn for it for quite a while!

The four darker skeins are Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles, a fingering-weight 100% superwash merino yarn. I won them a number of years ago in a giveaway that Bonny had on her blog. They've been waiting for just the right project to come along, and when I got these two skeins of Fibernymph Dye Works mohair/silk laceweight, I knew the two combined would be perfect. So I have some winding and swatching in my future.

Reading has been a bit more plentiful this week thanks to some audiobooks. I've finished three books

Over the weekend, I finally finished up the interconnected short story collection The Tsar of Love and Techno. I have not read a ton of short stories over my reading career, mainly because I find them to often be unsatisfying -- either because they're not fully formed enough or they are really good and end too soon for me. But I think this may very well be the most perfect short story collection I've ever read. While each story can stand on its own, there is a thread that runs through all of them that ties them together in a really interesting way. They aren't chronological, but in reading all the stories you can see the evolution of the Soviet Union to (nearly) modern-day Russia and how the political climate shaped its inhabitants. The book is incredibly well written and thoroughly enjoyable. I gave it 4.5 stars.

When I needed an audiobook for my exercise listening, I decided to try one that many of you have read and recommended (and that was very short to boot). Grief Is the Thing with Feathers imagines a family's grief at the sudden loss of its wife and mother as a physical manifestation, a loud and troublesome crow that takes up residence in their home. I thought it was a really original and clever way to think of grief as something totally illogical and completely disruptive, but it was all a little weird. I think perhaps audio was not the best format for this, and perhaps I'll have to give it another go in print sometime. I gave it 3 stars.

As I said, Grief was a very short book (I think less than 2 hours on audio, which took even less time than that when listened to at faster-than-normal speed), so I started another book right away. This time, it was another Gabrielle Zevin novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. This novel about a widowed bookstore owner on a fictional island off Massachusetts who finds a toddler left in his store is a bit predictable and a bit unrealistic, but it's also just a lovely story that, at its heart, is a love letter to books and stories. It's no Tomorrow x3, but it was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to (even if the narrator sounded a bit snooty). I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently reading -- still -- War and Peace, though I have officially passed the 50% mark, and I've started The Shipping News for the next Read With Us discussion. This is technically a reread for me, but the first time around I was 14 or 15, so it's a very different experience in addition to my not remembering much of it!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, February 20, 2023

The First Pattern of 2023

Do those of you who have been reading the blog for a while remember the days when I'd release a pattern a month? Hard to believe I used to be able to manage that. Maybe someday I'll be able to quit my full-time job and focus more on designing, but for now, I'm pretty happy with releasing patterns when I can.

My first new pattern of this year is one that's pretty simple, but I'm excited about it nonetheless. The double-ended double-thickness hat has been a big trend in the knitting world in the past couple of years. There's one pattern in particular that I'm sure you're all aware of that it seems like everyone has knit. But I have never knit one because I didn't love the crown shaping. So I knit my own version of it, knowing only the gist of how it was knit, and used the swirly crown shaping I prefer. I still wasn't entirely satisfied with how its started, and so I did some experimentation with the inside-out cast-on. Finally I "unvented" (to quote Elizabeth Zimmermann) something that worked well and looked virtually the same as a bottom-up hat finish.

And after all that, I wasn't even intending to publish what I did -- I really only was doing it to see if I could! But when I shared my finished hats on Ravelry, I had a number of people ask if would write it up as a pattern, so I did! And this morning I published it.

My version is designed to use every bit of a skein of fingering weight yarn. As you can see, it works really well with self-striping. How it's knit isn't a big mystery: You start at the center of one crown, increase until you've reached the stitch count for your size, then knit until you have just enough to knit another crown, and decrease back to the 8 stitches you started with. You'll need a scale that weighs in grams to help you use up all your yarn. It's that easy -- my tech editor even joked that she was really stretching to add some useful comments because there wasn't much to actually edit when I sent her the pattern.

The one thing that I think makes my pattern unique is the cast-on technique, which is fully explained in a photo tutorial in the pattern. I'm particularly proud of it. And I'll be using it again in my next pattern, which uses the same beginning as this pattern to create a top-down hat (with the same swirled crown) using any yarn and any gauge. I'm still debating whether to include instructions for combining the two to get a double-ended hat with any yarn, but I'm guessing many of you could figure that out on your own.

In any case, I'm happy to have this pattern out today. You'll find it on Ravelry and Payhip. And keep an eye out for the next one!

Friday, February 17, 2023

A Long Weekend (Sort of) Ahead

TGIF! This has been a strange week that has included water advisories and an unexpected school closing and a record high temperature. Work has also been a little unusual. So I'm quite happy to see Friday arrive.

It's President's Weekend here in the United States, and yesterday marked the end of Rainbow's second term of school, so she has today and Monday off. I'm working both days, but having her around and not having to leave at 3 to pick her up in the afternoon is a nice change. We've been invited to have dinner at my brother and sister-in-law's house tonight, so we will be baking challahs to take with us. 

Because of the weirdness with work, I had a couple of days where I didn't get as much crafting done as I'd hoped, but everything is moving forward. The mitten is growing very quickly; I finished the hand last night and got started on the thumb:

That locking stitch marker is indicating a little oopsie. I got a bit tangled in my knitting Wednesday evening and when the mitten fell, the needle fell out of some stitches and a few got dropped. When I picked them back up, I only realized later that I picked up a stitch in the wrong color. I didn't want to tink back (colorwork knitting in small circumferences is hard on my hands, and I do have a deadline for these), so I'm just going to duplicate stitch over that one later.

Rainbow's sock is also ready for a heel flap! I was able to get in some time on this while doing a work project (I was reading on my screen and only periodically had to type some things, so most of the time my hands were free). This isn't the most exciting project for me, but I feel like I have to knit her socks quickly if they're going to stand a chance of actually getting worn before she outgrows them, and they're fairly mindless knitting anyway.

Finally, there's the spinning, which is going slowly but steadily. It's what I've primarily been working on while reading War and Peace on my iPad. I'm closing in on finishing the first bobbin of singles.

We have no plans for the weekend other than dinner tonight, and I'm hoping that means extra crafting and reading time. The weather is supposed to be much colder, so I won't be tempted to spend more time outside, and it will be a perfect excuse to curl up with a cup of tea. Judging from the number of spring flowers I've seen coming up this week and the increasing level of birdsong I've been hearing in the mornings, our days to stay inside are dwindling. Stay cozy and have a great weekend, friends!

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Unraveled, Week 7/2023

What a strange week it has been! With Rainbow being home on Monday unexpectedly and planning for her to be home on Friday (for a planned in-service day), I'm all mixed up on what day it is. But thanks to Kat's weekly Unraveling link-up, I can be sure that today is Wednesday. So, here's what I'm working on this week!

After finishing up the second combo spin skein on Sunday afternoon, I needed something to work on that evening while watching the Super Bowl, so I started a new pair of socks for Rainbow using more of the Knit Picks Felici she picked out a while back. I thought I'd so something a little different and use a tubular cast-on for these, in part to see if I could make a slight adjustment and end up with a tidier edge. All I did was make my yarnovers backwards (and then corrected how they sat on the needles on the the next round). Reducing the amount of yarn used for each yarnover ever so slightly seemed to work well -- look at this edge!

This colorway is called Friendly Skies, but I can't help to think that the one section of the stripe sequence looks like candy corn.

On Monday afternoon I wound the two skeins of handspun so I could start my mittens that evening, and all went well until I tried to start the colorwork and found that my stitch count was off (specifically, I had two more stitches than I should have had). I took another look at the chart and found the reason why. Can you spot it?

That little loopy symbol in the first and last squares on the first row of the chart is the symbol for make 1. Except that if you look closely, you'll see that the number 1 along the bottom of the chart falls not beneath the first stitch of the chart but rather below the column of row numbers. While the numbers at the bottom seem to indicate that you should have 28 stitches on each side of the mitten, you actually only need 27, so when I increased two stitches on each side, I ended up with those two extra stitches. I'm not sure how this error was missed in editing, or how the fact that the decreases also aren't indicated for the top of the mitten were also missed. These errors don't seem to appear anywhere online, either. I'll be sure to note them on my Ravelry project page. The good news is that as soon as I tinked back and removed the two extra stitches, everything was smooth sailing, and I'm now about halfway through the hand of the first mitten:

The white is waste yarn where the thumb will go.

Lest you think I'm letting my wheel sit idle, I also started a new spinning project yesterday. Remember my combo spin from last fall? I wanted to spin a bit more yarn to go with it so I could use it for a sweater, so I've pulled out last October's Southern Cross shipment, Dragon's Breath, and have split it up a bunch to mix up the colors. This will be a three-ply fingering weight (or at least I hope it will!):

I've continued to read quite a bit in the past week, but because of what I am reading (hello, brick that is War and Peace!), I have only finished one book.

Fresh Water for Flowers came highly recommended by both Katie and Mary, and it was available as both an ebook and an audiobook on Hoopla. I was out of podcasts to listen to toward the end of last week, so I opted for the audio. This translated work tells the story of Violet, a French cemetery caretaker. It's a bit of a mystery that jumps around in time as it tells the stories of her life and how she ended up caring for the final resting places of others. The book itself is quite good, but I found that my enjoyment of it was somewhat diminished by the fact that the reader was butchering all the French names and words in it. I may be a bit more sensitive to this than others because I'm trying to relearn my French, but you would think that for a book with so much of a foreign language in it, the publisher would try to find a reader who had some familiarity with that language. I wouldn't let that dissuade you from reading the book, but if mispronunciation is something that bothers you, you may want to read this with your eyes. It really is a beautiful book. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm 37% of the way through War and Peace (I've been reading while spinning, mainly) and have less than 100 pages left of The Tsar of Love and Techno. I'm reading the latter primarily before bed, so I don't get a lot read in each reading session, but I'm enjoying it so much that I may need to sit down and finish it during the day.

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

Monday, February 13, 2023

In the Nick of Time

It's a strange Monday morning here, but to explain why, I need to back up a bit.

Like many men, the Mister frequently gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. Often I'll wake up just enough to notice he's getting up, look at the clock to see if it's time to get up or not, and then roll over and go back to sleep. In the early morning hours yesterday, the Mister got up, and as I was rolling over, I heard him making some noise in the bathroom. Then he went downstairs before coming back to get his phone. It turns out that we had almost no water pressure, and when he went to investigate, he found it wasn't an issue in our house but rather with the water utility -- a pump in the system had lost power, which caused the loss in pressure. It did come back a short time later (we could hear the tank in the toilet refilling), but when we got up, we learned that some areas of the city were under a boil water advisory (luckily not us). 

Fast-forward to yesterday afternoon, when we got an email that Rainbow's school would be closed today because it is in one of the advisory zones -- so she gets to be home with me! Hence the unusual Monday morning. I did not mind at all not having to drag her out of bed this morning!

But back to the usual blog content. Yesterday I was determined to finish up one last project for a make-along I've been involved with that went along with the NFL football season. I spent several hours at my wheel yesterday, but I did manage to finish up the second skein of my combo spin. This is a really crummy photo because I took it before the sun was fully up in order to get it entered, but here are both skeins:

The purple skein comes in at approximately 254 yards, and now I can officially say that I have plenty of yarn for the pair of mittens (Ravelry link) I have planned for it. These will be cast on very soon because they're for another make-along; I think I mentioned that I'll be heading back to SSK this summer, and there are monthly knitalongs leading up to the event featuring patterns from the teachers. This month's featured teacher is the amazing Jillian Moreno, and all of her patterns and all the patterns from her book are eligible. So I'll be doing my very best to knit up a pair before the end of the month!

For those keeping track, I've officially spun up six bags of Southern Cross Fibre shipments so far this year. That's already halfway to my goal of spinning up a total of 12! I can't imagine that I'll keep up the pace for the entire year, but I'm pretty happy with how well it's going thus far.

Saturday, February 11, 2023


Hi friends! I noticed yesterday that for some reason Blogger has stopped sending me emails with your comments. I'm trying to find a fix for it, but in the meantime I wanted to post this quick message to let you know that I'm not ignoring you. I do try to respond to every comment, and that's usually by email. It seems I've now got a backlog of comments to respond to and will be working through them, so please excuse my tardiness while I try to figure out how to get things working as they should. (And if anyone who uses Blogger has had this issue in the past and knows how to solve it, please let me know!)


I did manage to figure out how to fix it, with some help from Bonny. I was going to delete this post, but then I figured that someone (including me) might have this same issue in the future, and it was probably more helpful to explain what I did to fix it. Most of the solutions I found online said to go into settings and to delete and then add your email under Comment notification email. But when I clicked on that, I just got a pop-up that said something like "there are no emails" and didn't give me the option to add. Instead, I had to invite myself (ha!) to receive notification emails of comments by clicking here:

Once you add the email here, you get a message in your inbox asking you to subscribe to receive blog comments, and that seems to do the trick!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Friday Finishes

How is it that the days go by so quickly but the weekend always seems to take so long to come around? That's certainly been the case this week, likely because I've had a grumpy teenager on my hands for several days (nothing major, she's just moody). So I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Yesterday ended up being a busy work day, so I'm delighted to finish up the week with a couple of finished projects. First, after speeding through all the singles of my first combo spin skein, I was able to ply and wash Wednesday afternoon. I had to play with some photo editing to get the colors to come out something close to reality for this photo (the gloom we've been having makes everything look totally washed out on camera), but here it is:

The yarn came out pretty much perfectly sport weight, which is what I was aiming for, though I only have about 238 yards in this skein, which is less than I would have expected for the amount of fiber. So the yarn is pretty dense and perhaps a tad overplied, but I am planning to use it for colorwork mittens, so both features should add to the durability. The purple fiber underneath the finished skein has now been split up into a bunch of little bundles, divided into three, and is ready to be spun to match. I plan to start that spinning today.

Just before bed last night, I finished another WIP:

I tried several times to get a photo of this on my head, but between the bad lighting and my not-so-great selfie skills, every shot was a fail. So you'll have to settle for a flat lay for now. This is my version of the Musselburgh-style hat, using the pattern that's currently with my tech editor as well as my recipe for a top-down swirl crown hat using any yarn and any gauge. I used size 4 (3.5 mm) needles for this one and used up nearly all of my yarn -- I had a heavy skein (108 g to start) and used 104 g. The hat is large enough that I can fold up the brim a couple of inches and it's still got a bit of slouch in the length. And I just love the colors. I will have to have Rainbow take a photo of me or model it for me so you can see it on an actual head.

My plan for today (assuming work cooperates) is to start spinning the purple fiber, because I'd love to have a finished skein by the end of the weekend. The Mister and I have plans to go out to dinner with some friends and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law tomorrow evening (Rainbow will be hanging out with my in-laws and her cousins), but we've got nothing else on tap, so I expect I'll be able to get a lot done. We're likely going to watch the Super Bowl, though we're not too invested in who wins (I suppose we should root for the Eagles, given that they're from the same state and I lived in Philadelphia for a number of years?). I've promised the Mister I'll make Ina's Chicken Chili, but now that he's recovered, he'll be doing the shopping again.

Here's hoping it's a good weekend for all of us. See you back here on Monday!

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Unraveled, Week 6/2023

Happy hump day, friends! I'm happy to report that while the man cold hasn't fully left the house, the Mister is mostly feeling back to normal. He's gone back to work and has resumed his daily runs, both of which are key indicators of how he's feeling. I'm still sleeping in the guest/stash room for the time being, however, both to keep myself free of germs and because I know the snoring will continue to be unbearable for a while, and being in the other room has resulted in two good nights' sleep in a row.

It's Wednesday, and that means linking up with Kat and the Unravelers. I've been fairly monogamous with my crafting this week, focusing on my knitting project and one spinning project. The former is my hat, which has grown since Monday:

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll see the progress keeper that I placed at the beginning of my time working on it yesterday; I got at least three inches knit up just yesterday. The scale is showing that I have 44 g of yarn left, but considering that the skein was 108 g to begin with, I am well past the halfway point. I have used the pattern that's currently with my tech editor but combined it with another that I still have to write up and get to her that is more of a recipe for a top-down spiral-crown hat using any yarn/any gauge. Writing that up is on my to-do list for this weekend.

What I've really been into this week has been my combo spin -- I've already finished half of the singles!

I'm really excited to see how this looks plied, and it's highly likely that plying will happen today.

I've finished two books since this time last week, one hit and one miss.

Chouette had been on my radar for a while; I know many of you have already read it, and I'd heard some good reviews. So I borrowed the audio from Hoopla. I was really confused at first. I didn't know if the main character was meant to be having a psychotic break, if having an owl baby was meant to be a metaphor for having a baby with several disabilities and special needs, or if the story in general was meant to be a rather extreme metaphor for how becoming a parent changes you. The author's note on Goodreads explained a lot to me, but I can't say it helped me to enjoy the book much more than I was. I will say that it was inventive and the writing was good, but I found it to be just too weird for me. I gave it 2 stars.

A much better read for me was Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times. I had bought the Kindle version of this book when it was on sale a month or so ago, and I'd been waiting for the right moment to get to it. This book was pure delight. May talks about the concept of "wintering" -- allowing the body to rest and replenish at difficult times, just as nature does during the winter -- in the context of challenging times in her own life. I found her writing and her stories to be so soothing. It felt like the reading equivalent of sitting with a cup of hot tea, wrapped in a warm blanket, and watching the snow fall. I am glad I purchased it, because I can easily see myself rereading it multiple times. I gave it 4 stars.

I am currently reading two books. First, The Tsar of Love and Techno, Anthony Marra's collection of interrelated short stories, which came highly recommended by Kym and which I purchased a copy of at my local bookstore last summer. That's my bedtime reading, and it's been delightful thus far. And I've also finally started my Big Russian Buddy Read with Katie by starting War and Peace. I'm reading the Kindle version, which annoyingly does not give page numbers, only "position" in the book (I hate that!), but supposedly I am 14% through it. 

Yesterday I also finally signed up for StoryGraph, something I've been meaning to do for a while. Are you on the site? I'm there as fiberreader -- feel free to connect with me if you are.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, February 06, 2023

Busy Weekending

I'm happy to report that my Friday went exactly as I was hoping. Work was quiet, and I spent a good portion of the day knitting and reading. I was hoping for more of the same over the weekend, but then the Mister came down with a Man Cold, which meant he took to his bed and I was left to do everything. At least it was a weekend and I didn't have to work on top of all that!

I wrapped up last week by skeining and washing my latest handspun project. My mixed-wool four-ply ended up worsted weight and a whopping (ha) 148 yards:

It reads as mainly red and brown from far away, but one thing I love about handspun and especially handspun from David's fiber is that up close you can see even more color:

I couldn't let my wheel be naked for too long, and I've just started a new combo spin combining two of David's colorways -- the ones circled in the big fiber picture:

Both were predominantly purple and either orange or gold, so I separated the two colors and am spinning two skeins of three-ply yarn, one using the warm colors and one using the purples. I started with the oranges and golds:

I am hoping to get yarn that is more or less sport weight when plied in order to knit a pair of colorwork mittens.

Lest you think all I've been doing is spinning lately, here's an update on how my hat is going:

I am really enjoying these colors and think it's very likely this will get finished up by the end of the week -- in part because I'm getting the urge to start a sweater, but I'm not allowing myself to cast on until I finish this up.

Here's hoping Monday is kind to all of us!

Friday, February 03, 2023

Fiber Out, Fiber In

Happy Friday, friends! It's a cold one here -- we aren't even going to break 20F today, and that's not even taking into account the wind chill. I have to make a couple of quick trips out (to pick up some more milk and get Rainbow from school), but otherwise I will be staying inside with lots of wool on me.

Yesterday was a very busy day. I went for a quick run first thing, then went into my office for a team meeting, then went to donate blood, and finally went to drop off an Amazon return before heading home -- I had 18K steps by the time I got home for lunch! On top of all that, I had a board meeting yesterday evening. So today I am hoping for a much quieter day.

While some knitting has been happening this week, it's mainly been about the spinning here lately. On Wednesday afternoon I plied up that quick spin I shared in singles form in my last post. I was too busy yesterday to skein and wash it, so that's on tap for today.

This is the fourth bag of Southern Cross fiber I've spun this year, and that's a good thing, because my January club just arrived!

The colorway is Rainforest, and it's on Bond wool, a breed that is lovely and easy to spin but more hardy than merino.

That's not the only fiber I received in the mail this week, either. In my Sunday Zoom last week, Margene informed me that she'd sent me a box of fiber from her stash, which she is in the process of divesting now that she no longer spins. I would have told her I didn't need any more fiber in my stash if she'd asked, but she knew I would appreciate some special items and only told me they were coming after they were already in the mail!

The three bags in the top row are all (obviously) undyed, but don't let that fool you into thinking they're boring. They are, from left to right, 70/20/10 Cormo/alpaca/bombyx silk, 90/10 Cormo/yearling mohair, and Polwarth. The dyed fiber is pretty special, too: 80/20 Cormo/angora, CVM/alpaca/angora/sparkle (percentages not specified), and 60/30/10 merino/silk/angora. I have a lot of very pleasurable spinning time ahead!

I hope if your area is frigid like mine, you can stay warm and cozy while the cold lasts. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Unraveled, Week 5/2023

Good morning and happy February! After a last day of January that included waking up to surprise snow (and thus unexpected but necessary shoveling), I'm happy to see the new month start off with some sunshine, even if it is bitterly cold outside. Days like this it pays to be a knitter; I'll have plenty of wool to cover me when I head out for my walk in a bit.

It's Wednesday, so that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to catch you up on my making and reading. I've been doing quite a lot of both the past week, thanks to work finally calming down. First, over the weekend, I finished up a third skein of handspun for January:

This was the bag of Southern Cross Fibre that was hidden in my project bag pile when I took my big photo of all my SCF stash, so I figured it had to get spun right away. It's a delightful blend of 70% superfine merino and 30% mulberry silk, so it's unbelievably soft and silky. I knew that with such a high silk content, it would demand to be spun fine, so I opted for a chain-ply. I split the fiber in half lengthwise, then spun up each strip end to end. Though the fiber was clearly green, blue, and silver, the green has really taken over in yarn form. And while the yarn seemed really thin even as I was plying it, the merino puffed up a bit in the wash, so it's a light fingering and approximately 430 yards. Into the handspun stash it goes!

Inspired by my pace of spinning, I pulled another bag from the SCF stash to spin next. This bag didn't have a date on it because it was a prize from some event or another, but I think it was likely the oldest unspun fiber in the group because it was in a knotted plastic bag rather than the Ziploc-style bags David began using a few years ago. The only information on the label was "Mixed Wools - Warm Classic"; the latter bit indicates that this came from an era when David still had two levels of club available, classic and deluxe or luxury.

The themes in the SCF Ravelry group this month include both warm colors and combo spin, and I figured I could hit both of those by doing a four-ply yarn with these four little bundles of fiber. I didn't weigh them beforehand, so it's possible some had more fiber than others, but no big deal. I spun each onto its own bobbin, with slightly thicker singles than my usual, and later today I will ply them.


I also finished one more charity hat yesterday, for a total of four knit in the month of January. Considering that I set a goal of six total for the year, that's a huge success! The latest is the blue/black one on the far right -- a basic beanie knit top down using a strand of self-striping held together with a strand of black.

Blocking these is on today's to-do list, as I'd like to mail these off to their recipient soon.

Four seems to be the number of the day -- four bobbins of fiber spun, four hats knit in January, and four books finished this week!

I had slowly been reading The Transit of Venus over the course of several weeks; aside from the fact that I was reading it before bed, which meant limited time in general, it's not the sort of book you can really speed through because the writing is so artfully done that you need to read slowly to make sure you notice everything. And even so, I think there's still a lot that I missed, to the extent where I might need to reread it at some point (I totally missed, for instance, that there's a hint on the very first page to a big revelation that comes much later in the book). I hope someone else who has read it will email me and explain what is supposed to have happened at the end; I've searched online and have found conflicting answers. This is not a book for everyone, but I really enjoyed it primarily for the writing. I gave it 4 stars.

A book I did not have to think quite so hard about (but was still extremely well written) was Mercury Pictures Presents. I'd bought it as a Kindle deal a few weeks ago because I am still thinking about Anthony Marra's previous book, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, and knew I liked his writing. While this one is a lot more upbeat (it's set primarily in Hollywood in the lead-up to WWII), it's really less about the movie business than it is about the people and their families. Nearly every character is an immigrant or refugee, so there are stories of migration and separation throughout. This book didn't make me cry, but it did make me think, and I really enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars.

My audiobook choice for the weekend was the 13th book in the Maisie Dobbs series, In This Grave Hour. It's the start of WWII for England, and as citizens are subject to blackouts and carrying their gas masks everywhere, Maisie is called on to solve a case that has its roots in the last war. I'm quickly running out of books left to read in this series, but I think I have an inkling of where the author may be leading Maisie, and if I'm right, I think I will satisfied with where she ends up. This one was as enjoyable as the rest, and I surprised myself by figuring out at least part of the case before it was revealed. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, just last night I finished a reread of The Night Watchman. I first read it back in October of 2020, the year it came out, and I don't think I had a sufficient background in Erdrich's work at the time to fully appreciate it. I could not put it down this time, as evidenced by the fact that I started it just before bed on January 29 and was done before bed yesterday. As is typical of Erdrich's books, this one has both humor and pain in it, but this one feels especially personal as it's a somewhat fictional portrayal of her grandfather and his efforts to stop the federal government's attempt to terminate its agreement with Indigenous tribes. There's a lot to unpack in this book, but as usual, it's a pleasure to read while grappling with those issues. I gave it 5 stars this time around.

If you can believe it, I'm not currently reading anything! But that's not for long. I have downloaded the audiobook of Chouette to start on my walk and will pick an ebook to start later when I sit down to ply.

What are you making and reading this week?