Friday, March 31, 2023

Like All Good Things

Yes, today is our last full day of vacation (or kind-of vacation, in my case). We're due to fly home tomorrow afternoon, though they're predicting strong winds tomorrow in Western PA, and I hope that doesn't interfere with our travel plans -- I most definitely do not want a repeat of last year! It's showing up on time for the moment, so please keep your fingers crossed for us! It's been a lovely trip, but I am ready to be back in my own bed and to see the Mister.

When I posted on Wednesday morning, I was preparing for a long morning in front of the computer, though I had my knitting ready. We made it through about half of the session before it was abruptly canceled, and the reason why is a sad truth of our times: Our campus was put on lockdown because of reports of an active shooter at a high school a couple of blocks away from my office. It turned out to be a hoax, one of several false reports made that day, but it was a scary time for those who were in the office, and even after it turned out to be a false alarm, it was entirely understandable that people were having a hard time concentrating. I was concerned for my colleagues, and to be perfectly honest, I wasn't quite sure why I was in this workshop to begin with, so I was just fine with its early end. I imagine it'll be rescheduled at some point, so I guess at some date in the future I'll have a block of knitting time. Despite the schedule change, I have made a lot of progress on my Birch Pullover since Wednesday morning (that progress keeper was placed at the beginning of the session):

I am now about seven rounds from completing the yoke and dividing the sleeve and body stitches, and I am fairly confident I can get through those rounds today. I've got 300+ stitches on my needle at this point, so the rounds aren't exactly fast, but I pretty much have the pattern memorized at this point. Once I get past the split, it'll be even easier because it will just be a two-round repeat (purl one round, alternated k1b/p1 the next round). 

If you look closely, you will notice that I now have two strands of yarn attached; I started working in the second skein of yarn yesterday. Rebecca (the dyer behind Dusty Tree Dyeworks -- as well as the soap maker behind Dusty Tree Soap) works in really small batches, so she doesn't have colorways or dye lots for her yarns. When I picked out my skeins, I selected the five that looked most similar to each other, but there's definitely variation among them -- as shown in this photo:

When I wound all the skeins before we left, I also also labeled them 1-5, from lightest overall to darkest, and I'm using them in that order. I'm alternating skeins every round when I join a new one, with the hope that will be sufficient to blend them. It's easy at this point, but I'll have to do a little math once I split the body and sleeve stitches so that I can set aside some yarn as I work the body to make sure the sleeves look like they more or less match (I figure I'll take the stitch counts for the body and sleeves to figure out what percentage of the skein I should set aside for the sleeves and wind that off -- so it's a good thing we're headed home to my ball winder!).

In addition to leaving for home with a sweater yoke, I'm also leaving with a longtime crocheter to whom I've taught some new tricks. My mother used to make blankets and buntings (the sac-like garments, not the strands of flags) as baby gifts for others, but she hasn't picked up a hook in a while. So while we were here, we made a trip to Michaels to pick up a hook and some yarn so I could teach her the corner-to-corner method. One evening earlier this week, I showed her how to get started and helped her as she got the hang of it, but now she's off to the races:

She is just about finished with the first yarn cake and is determined to get to the point where she is ready to join the second so that I can show her how to decrease. She's also taken after me and has crocheted during several Zoom meetings she's had while we've been here.

Today is a regular work day for me, but I'll be taking time for a long walk before we leave so I can enjoy the good weather as much as possible. I hope our travel plans proceed without a hitch and by my next post, I'll be back home, reunited with my stash (and my spinning wheel, which I've missed). I hope all of you have a good start to your weekend today!

P.S. I almost forgot -- remember the secret design knitting I was doing that I couldn't show you? Guess who got an acceptance yesterday?!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Unraveled, Week 13/2023

I could easily forget what day of the week it is here (apparently my Fitbit did on Monday, because it neglected to wake me up with my normal alarm), but work has given me an extra reminder that it's Wednesday in the form of a four-hour diversity, equity, and inclusion workshop this morning. I'm sure the content will be worthwhile, but four hours straight? At least I will be able to knit my way through it (I'm attending via Zoom), and that big block on my schedule is helping me to get my priorities straight this morning. The first priority -- well, at least the first one after coffee! -- is my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers.

I brought along a crochet hook and a ball of kitchen cotton just in case, but as it turns out, I was in the mood for a little crochet and I'm headed home with two completed dishcloths:

I believe that the one on the left is the second one I did, though I can't be certain; I think this particular stitch pattern leads to some inherent wonkiness, especially in combination with my relative inexperience with crochet, but I did notice that the work was a little easier the second time around. I think my tension was a little more relaxed, as I had a much easier time getting my hook into stitches. I used all but about a yard of the skein of yarn, yet somehow the two finished cloths weighed only 96 g, so I guess I had a light skein to start with. The yarn is Knit Picks Dishie in a light gray colorway called Clarity, and despite the fact that the skein was light, I would absolutely recommend this yarn (and oh hey, it's on sale right now!). I find it to be much easier to work with than the cotton you can find in big box stores, and there's more yardage in a skein to boot. I used a 4 mm/G hook.

Now I'm really trying to focus on my Birch Pullover, and I'm halfway through the yoke increases. I have increased enough that the stitches now comfortably fill the full length of my 40-inch circular needle.

I do know what I'm doing now with the stitch pattern and when to increase, but it's not quite something I can do without looking, so I can only work on it while reading if I read with my ears. I'll be interested to see how much I can get done during that four-hour workshop.

Speaking of reading, I have been doing a lot! My mother almost always has books waiting for me when I come down, and I've gotten through two of them this week, both excellent reads

I have read all but one of Geraldine Brooks' books, and I was very much looking forward to her latest, Horse. If you haven't heard of this book and don't think it sounds that great from the description, let me tell you that it's about a heck of a lot more than horses. There are several story lines followed in this book that all converge on a horse, and those stories deal with topics as serious and diverse as race and racism, politics, art, friendship, and love. There's even a very good dog (and no, the dog doesn't die). Once I got into this book, I could not put it down, and I have to tell you that I cried a bit at the end. I highly recommend it and gave it 5 stars.

I'd been on a (very long) wait list for Spare on audio from the library, but my mother had bought a hard copy and finished it herself just a few days ago, so she passed it on to me. This was a quick read and, I think, worth it. There is much more that Prince Harry talks about than the more recent issues within the royal family, and I'm not sure I ever realized just how traumatizing it must be to lose your mother at a young age and be under constant scrutiny for your entire life. I fully understand why the Sussexes wanted to step away from royal life, and I think the book even makes a good case for abolishing the monarchy. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, I listened to another Maisie Dobbs book early this week. I discovered that the audiobooks after the first in the series are no longer available to me on Hoopla, but luckily there was no wait for the one I wanted on Libby. To Die but Once sees Maisie investigating the death of a young painter working in the war effort, though the case often takes a back seat to other concerns in her life. I believe I have only three books left in this series, and as much as I've enjoyed them, I'm actually feeling a bit glad they won't go on forever. I feel like I know where Maisie's story is going in general, and I think I'll be satisfied when I finish the series up. I gave this installment 3 stars.

I'm still reading the big Outlander book (and will be for some time, I expect), but last night I started No Two Persons, which I requested from NetGalley after Kat raved about it. I've only just started it (I think I'm 3% in), but I think it's possible I'll finish it before we leave to head home.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Embrace in 2023: March

There are still several days left in the month, but as we've arrived at the last Monday, that means it's time for a One Little Word check-in. Thank you to Carolyn for hosting our monthly link-ups!

I was thinking over the weekend about this post and what I've embraced this month and coming up empty -- until I realized I was totally missing the obvious. Is there any better way to embrace working remotely than working extra remotely and being able to travel on spring break with my daughter? I know I've sung the praises of working from home before and how it's enabled me to have such a better work/life balance. I know it's not for everyone and that some people like the physical separation between work and home, but it's been a major stress reliever for me to be able to do things like throw in a load of laundry, get out for a run, and pick up my daughter from school when it ends. I no longer feel like I am racing against the clock to get everything done in a day, which used to be a major source of stress to me. And even though I am still working my usual hours while we're here, I do get to enjoy some of the benefits of being on vacation, most notably the extra vitamin D I so desperately need at this time of year. An extra bonus is that I will not be stressed out when we get back because I will return to a pile of work waiting for me (a primary reason I so rarely take time off).

I'm truly very thankful that both technology and my employment situation enable me to work in a way that works so well for me. I also realize that it may not always be the case, so for now, I'm embracing every aspect of it.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Winding Down

I will be the first to admit that working full time in Florida in March is very different from working at home in March, but all the same I am ready for the weekend so I can detach myself from my work computer for a couple of days. My daily walk or run has been my one escape, and the photo above is a college of some of pictures I snapped on yesterday's walk. My parents' house is in a large development here, so there are always gardeners and landscapers out planting, trimming, fertilizing, etc. Though plants obviously do grow year-round here, it wasn't until Rainbow and I came down for spring break last year that I realized just how much more color there is in March compared to December. The birds are also much noisier! It's been such a treat and delight to go out every morning when it's still a little cool and enjoy the sun, the sounds, and the sights. I'm sorry you can't all enjoy it with me, but I hope the photos at least can cheer you a bit if things are still cold and monotone in your neck of the woods.

I've been making slow and steady progress on two of my knitting projects (I haven't yet started the baby sweater), but I'll be headed home with at least one FO in the form of this very wonky dishcloth:

You can see from the wavy edges how imperfect it is (not that I very much care -- it's a dishcloth!), but I'm happy to have figured it out and have already started another now that I feel a bit more confident in what I'm doing. I used less than half a skein of Knit Picks Dishie for this cloth, so I should easily be able to get another cloth out of it with some leftover. And there is more crochet to come. Last night we went out to dinner at a place that's right near a Michaels, so we stopped there first to pick up supplies for my mother to make a baby blanket:

I'm going to teach her how to do corner-to-corner crochet, and we figured acrylic was the easiest and most practical thing to use (it's not my favorite fiber at all, but for a baby blanket that will need to be washed frequently, it makes sense). These Caron Baby Cakes are 560 yards each, so two of them should make a perfect baby-sized blanket.

This weekend we have plans to have dinner at our favorite restaurant here, which we didn't get to do when we were here in December, and tomorrow is our last Zoom discussion of the Erdrich-along. I'm sad to be finishing that, though I'm looking forward to moving onto Barbara Kingsolver for our next author study.

Do you have anything exciting on tap for this weekend? Whatever's on your agenda, I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Unraveled, Week 12/2023

Happy hump day, friends and gentle readers! I'll confess that although I'm technically not on vacation, I've got a bit of a vacation mindset going and have lost track of what day it is a couple of times this week. My computer tells me it's Wednesday, which means it's my day to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and give you an update on my making and reading.

Work has been moderately busy the past two days, which means my hands have not been free to stitch much. But I have made some progress on my Birch Pullover, completing the short rows and starting the long work of the yoke rounds.

Specifically, I am working a six-round repeat with increases on the sixth round, and I have to work a total of 14 repeats of those six rounds. So far, I've completed two, I believe. This sweater is worked in half fisherman's rib, which is a cousin to brioche stitch; every other round, you work into the stitch below of every other stitch (and purl the other stitches). The fabric this creates is very squishy and attractive, but if you're someone who hates purling, you might want to avoid this pattern. I've accepted that this is a going to be a marathon of a knit, so my goal for while we're here is just to complete the yoke. Anything beyond that will be a bonus.

Last night during the Read With Us discussion on The Shipping News, I decided to try a little crochet and started a dishcloth:

I'm using a free pattern by one of the SSK teachers (we get extra raffle tickets for completing patterns by them), and it's a little wonky but, you know, it's a dishcloth. I haven't done any crocheting this year aside from some provisional cast-ons, so it feels good to stretch those muscles. I've got a board executive committee meeting this evening, so perhaps that will be enough time to finish this up.

I finished up two books late last week before we left.

First, I finished up my reread of the His Dark Materials trilogy with The Amber Spyglass. There is a lot going on in this book, as it culminates in big battle between the various forces in Pullman's imagined worlds, but the most important part of the story for me is the resolution of Lyra's story, especially the part of her story that involves Will. While much of Pullman's trilogy has a lot to say about religion and power, I think the heart of his message is about love and human kindness. I really enjoyed listening to all three books, and I'm slowly working my way through the HBO series based on them. I gave this final installment 4 stars.

I also finished up the final book for the Erdrich-along (though not my final Erdrich book -- I still have a small pile waiting to be read). The Bingo Palace is one of her older novels and returns to some of the characters featured in Love Medicine. The main character is Lipsha Morrissey, whose parentage was one of the big reveals of the first novel, and we follow him as he struggles with love and luck. As with all of Erdrich's novels, there is a wonderful mix of the heartbreaking and the hilarious. There's a small appearance by Fleur Pillager and even a mention of everyone's favorite, Nanapush. It really made me want to reread Love Medicine sooner rather than later. I gave it 4 stars as well.

I'm currently reading Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone and will be for quite a while; although it's nice to have a larger paperback than I had with the previous books in the series, it also means there are more words on the page and thus it takes me longer to read one. I may take a break from it while we're here because my mother left me the hardback of Horse, and I'd rather not carry it back home, but we'll see. So much depends on work, which I can't predict.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 20, 2023

Dispatches from Farther South

Good morning and happy equinox! I am happy to tell you that we arrived safely and only a little late in Florida yesterday afternoon, after having to sprint through a very crowded Charlotte airport to make our connection (on the plus side, pretty much everyone else had already boarded by the time we got to the gate, so we didn't have to wait to get on the plane). The weather here was not great yesterday, but this afternoon should be just about perfect to soak up some vitamin D while I work.

I started a new book and got a little progress made on a new project (which I'd started on Friday but really only done the set-up of a tubular cast-on done) while on the plane:

A Diet Coke was consumed only to supplement the one coffee I had before the first flight of the day, which started with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up

The project is a fingering weight version of the secret design submission, so I likely won't be able to show you much more until I know whether it's been accepted or not. But I can tell you that the yarn is amazing. It's Fibernymph Dye Works Heavenly, which is Lisa's MCN base, which I have somehow never used before. I won this skein as a prize in her make-along last year, and it's a gradient from this light blue to a darker blue to a gray. I'm just knitting basic brioche stitch right now, which I can mostly do without looking, so I was able to read while knitting. The book is the latest in the Outlander series; it came out in 2021, but I was waiting for the paperback to come out because these books are always bricks and I could not deal with the weight of the hardback version. I managed about 100 pages in total yesterday, so maybe I'll actually finish the book while we're here!

In addition to my travel project, I also brought the yarn for my next sweater (my Love Note stayed at home, though I did make some progress last week -- I'm ready to start the short rows on the body to lower the back), and I cast on last night while my mother and I were watching the first episodes of the new seasons of Call the Midwife and Sandition.

Apologies for the darkness of the photo; it was taken before the sun was up. This is the start of Andrea Mowry's Birch Pullover, which I'm knitting with the yarn I bought earlier this month. I did yet another tubular cast-on for this and nearly finished the collar, so soon the more involved stitches will start. I ended up going with size 3/3.25 mm needles, so this is going to be a marathon of a knit. I think it'll be a great sweater to wear when it's done, though, so I'm okay with that.

In addition to these two projects, I also brought yarn to knit a baby sweater as a gift for a coworker, who's expecting her first grandchild in June, and a ball of kitchen cotton in case I need a little instant gratification in the form of some dishcloths. I expect we will also make a trip to the local Michaels at some point because my mother wants to learn how to crochet corner-to-corner (she's a pretty decent crocheter, though she hasn't done it in a while, so I expect she'll pick it up easily). 

Well, I'd better wrap this up so I can get out for my run before it gets too warm and before my 11 a.m. team meeting for work! I hope your first day of spring brings you some sunshine!

Friday, March 17, 2023

It's My Own Fault

Happy Friday, friends! It is an exceedingly gloomy day here, with rain expected pretty much all day, but I am thankful that it is rain and not snow like we had earlier in the week and that I don't have to walk to work in it -- getting to the office half soaked was always such a drag in the old days. Today is Rainbow's last day of school before she's off for two weeks of spring break, and we're headed to Florida on Sunday (let's not talk about the fact that I haven't even started packing yet). I'm still going to be working while I'm there, but the ability to work while sitting on the lanai in the sun makes it much more appetizing!

Today I have another cautionary tale to share, another chapter in the long saga of the m*th infestation of several years ago. I've tried to be vigilant, but they're tough buggers to kill. When I took out my dress form to take photos of the secret design project the other day, I found some more damage. The dress form lives behind our bedroom door, and I've had what I now know is a bad habit of tossing shawls and cowls over it when I'm not wearing them. Of course, this is creating the perfect conditions for those little buggers: woolly items that I've worn (so they have body oils on them and thus a scent) in a dark area. Fortunately, I found only one item really damaged, but sadly it was my first Hitchhiker, which was knit from handspun, and in a truly ironic twist, I only just recently tossed the little ball of yarn I had leftover from the project.

This and two other handspun projects that were closest to where the m*ths seemed to be congregating went into a hot bath (everything else was inspected and then put into individual Ziplock bags), and once they were dry, I found some close-enough yarn in my stash to repair the holes.

If you enlarge the photo to see the repair more closely, you can see that the repair yarn isn't a perfect match, but I think it's close enough. After I did some duplicate stitch on both sides of the holes, I needle-felted the areas a bit just so that the ends of where the yarn was chewed through don't go anywhere. It's a bit upsetting that this happened, but I have only myself to blame for not taking better care of my handknits, and truly fixing the holes took maybe 10 minutes. I did find some m*th damage to an old sweater, one that was my first adult-sized sweater that never really looked good on me, so I've taken it as a sign to finally unravel it. It was knit from undyed non-superwash wool yarn, so it'll make some excellent dryer balls!

While I haven't started packing things like clothes or toiletries yet for my trip, I have of course planned out what knitting I'm taking. My Love Note, though it's grown quite a bit the last couple of days, is staying at home, but I need a bigger project to take with me, so I've been swatching for my Birch Pullover using the yarn I bought from Dusty Tree a couple of weeks ago.

My first swatch was on the size 2 needles recommended in the pattern, but last night I started another using size 3 needles because the gauge was looking a bit small (yes, I cheated and measured before blocking, but I figured I might as well start another swatch given that my time is limited). The sweater does call for positive ease, so I'd rather I have fewer stitches per inch than called for than more (in other words, I'd rather have my sweater turn out a bit larger than it should than smaller). I'm also planning to take some fingering weight yarn to knit a baby gift and a lighter version of the secret design project. And my mother wants to learn C2C crochet, so I expect we'll be visiting Michaels while we're there to get supplies.

I hope your day is less gloomy and m*th free! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Unraveled, Week 11/2023

Is this week over yet? No, it's only Wednesday! It's been a rough week so far. I won't go into details because they're not very interesting, but let's just say I haven't been sleeping so great this week and have been especially thankful I haven't had to drag my tired self into an office to work.

Fortunately Wednesdays are my favorite for blogging, because on this day every week I get to link up with Kat and the Unravelers. This week is finding me with just one WIP, which is a strange place for me to be!

I finally got around to trying on my Love Note yesterday; after two failed attempts at a selfie, I called Rainbow up to take a photo for me (note that I did put the yarn down to try to take a photo of myself, but I guess my arms are not the ideal length). There is obviously a lot more still to be knit, but I can confirm that it does fit over a long-sleeved tee, which is how I like to wear my sweaters. I am hoping the lace will be more obvious once it's blocked.

This is my only current WIP because I finished up another project Monday night -- that one I can't show you just yet. It's done and it turned out exactly as I wanted, and now it's been blocked and is drying. But I'll give you a little peek in the form of some background for some "knitting bling" that arrived in yesterday's mail:

These adorable kawaii charms are from Noelle at Charmed and Dangerous, who does the most incredibly cute work. There was a third one in the box that was for Rainbow -- a little terra cotta star with a succulent on it. I've got a small collection of these progress keepers, and they're always an adorable way of seeing how much progress I'm making on a big project. Noelle also posts videos of the process of making some of her charms on Instagram, and they're very fun and relaxing to watch. No affiliation -- just a fan!

The reading has been good this past week -- I've finished three books!

I'd heard about The Betrayal of Anne Frank: A Cold Case Investigation on the Down Cellar Studio podcast, and when I needed something to listen to late last week, it was available with no wait and I decided to give it a try. As someone who has read a lot of both fiction and nonfiction about WWII and the Holocaust, I found the background on the Frank family and the situation in the Netherlands to be really interesting. I was less enamored of the conclusion that the research team came to; frankly, I can see their points and their arguments, but I also think they've made a bit of a stretch. I don't think we'll ever know for certain how the Secret Annex was uncovered, and ultimately it's more important to remember Anne and the others she was hiding with than to waste time pointing fingers at people who may or may not have betrayed her. I will say that it was a really interesting book, and I was thankful to be listening to it so I didn't have to guess at the pronunciation of the Dutch names (the narrator is Julia Whelan, who does an excellent job). I gave it 3 stars.

Speaking of books I heard about on podcasts, The Violin Conspiracy is a title that Anne Bogel has mentioned quite a bit in the last six months or so, so I snapped up a Kindle copy when it was a daily deal a few weeks ago. I started it on my birthday and finished it Monday afternoon, and what a fun romp it was! The author has clearly drawn a lot on his own experiences as a Black musician in the very white field of classical music, and he's added in a mystery. The pace is fast and the story as a whole is very satisfying. Mary also let me know that the author created a Spotify playlist that contains all the music mentioned in the book! I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, over the course of Monday and Tuesday, I absolutely devoured the second book in the His Dark Materials series, The Subtle Knife. This was a reread for me, though I really remembered nothing of it from my first reading, which was back when I was in college or grad school. I have copies of all three books on paper in my personal library, but I'm enjoying revisiting them on audio, particularly as Philip Pullman himself is the narrator and is joined by a full cast. The first installment has some dark elements to it, but things get even darker in the second. I'm looking forward to getting to the third book soon; I remember very little about it, though I have a distinct memory of reading it in my favorite chair in my parents' living room when I was home for winter break. I gave book two 4 stars.

I'm currently reading The Bingo Palace, the next and, sadly, last selection for the Erdrich-along. We're back to some of the Love Medicine characters, so it feels a bit like we've come full circle. I expect to continue my reading of her books even though the formal group study is ending.

I'll leave you today with a big of spring to brighten up your day. My in-laws brought me these flowers on Saturday when we had them over for dinner, presumably as a birthday present. They were especially welcome when we woke to snow on the ground yesterday after not having seen it in a long time!

Monday, March 13, 2023

A Mixed Bag

Who else is still dragging from the time change this morning? I did not stay up to see the end of the Oscars last night, as I have in the past, but a certain daughter of mine was having trouble settling, which meant my presence was requested in her twin bed for about an hour, and that meant less sleep. Oh well.

The weekend was a mixed bag thanks to a visit from my old nemesis, acid reflux. I think I overdid it on the triggers Friday night, so I spent much of Saturday feeling a little ill. I also skipped coffee yesterday morning (that's a big trigger food for me), which I don't think helped with the maladjustment to the time change. I'm feeling back to normal this morning, though, so let's hope my nemesis has gone away again for a long time.

Despite feeling not so great for much of the weekend, I did manage to finish a couple of things. First, a skein of handspun:

This is Kingfisher on Corriedale, the April 2021 Southern Cross Fibre club shipment. If you're keeping track, this is my eighth SCF skein spun so far this year. I did my default yarn with this one -- three-ply fingering weight -- and ended up with about 380 yards. As you can probably see, there's a bit too much ply twist in it (I guess I was really excited about it and treadled just a bit too quickly when I was plying), so at some point I'll run it back through the wheel to remove that. I am delighted with how the colors worked out, though. I didn't want them to be too concentrated, so I did a little splitting of the fiber to break them up and distribute them more evenly. Here's what the fiber looked like to start:

I split the fiber in thirds width-wise first (I folded it in thirds and pulled it apart at the folds). Then divided each of those pieces in half lengthwise. This ensured that all the colors appeared multiple times in each ply, and although it can be hard to tell from the photo, I don't think there were very many spots, if any, where all three plies in the yarn were the same color. I have quite a few club shipments still to spin in similar colors, so I'm planning to spin them up in the same manner, with the idea of knitting another handspun sweater like my Shifty Pullover.

I also finished up Rainbow's latest pair of socks, which might look a little roughed up here because she put them on as soon as I finished them and wore them around the house all afternoon. I think that means they're a hit!

These were knit using my typical vanilla sock recipe, but I changed things up a bit with a 1x1 ribbed cuff, starting with a tubular cast-on. I really like the look of the cuff, and I think it would look really sharp on a pair of shortie socks (I know that with my, um, athletic calves, the cast-on might not be elastic enough).

Now that these socks are done, I'm turning my attention to my secret design WIP, which should be finished today, and then my Love Note, which I have neglected for several days and which I don't think will be done before we leave for Florida. But I do have a four-hour (virtual) workshop to attend on Wednesday, and I expect that will yield a lot of progress. I'm not planning to take it with me because I think mohair and Florida sound like a bad combination, but I will be taking another sweater project! That means I'll have to wind some yarn and swatch this week.

Here's hoping this Monday is kind to all of us. Have a good one, friends!

Friday, March 10, 2023

A Wee Break

Ah, hello Friday! Yesterday was a very long day, ending with an evening board meeting that didn't wrap up until almost 9:30, so I'm feeling very lucky that I have a day off today. It's the Friday of spring break week, so my office is officially closed. It's still going to be moderately busy today, as I have my annual check-ups with both my PCP and my gynecologist, but at least I won't have to do any work. I did think about going to Costco in between my appointments, but I think I'll save that for the weekend and enjoy my day off, especially after such a long day yesterday.

If you were wondering just how much of a sock foot I could knit during a board meeting, here's your answer -- everything above the hot pink safety pin (about 2.5 inches):

I am sorry to say that yet again I did not get a puppy for my birthday, despite asking for one for several years now, but the Mister did surprise me with some gorgeous roses yesterday:

I also received a new pair of AirPods; I've been making do with his older pair that accidentally went through the washer and somehow still worked but would crap out after less than an hour of use, even when fully charged. They're charging now and I'll give them a try later this morning when I head to the doctor's office.

I hope your Friday is a good one and you have a great weekend -- in spite of the fact that it'll be an hour shorter than usual!

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Unraveled, Week 10/2023

It's a sunny but cold Wednesday morning here in Pittsburgh, and though there's snow in the forecast for the end of the week (boo), I am officially declaring it spring because I saw my first landscaper mowing a lawn in the neighborhood yesterday! Wednesday means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to give you an update on my making and reading.

I've officially completed the yoke of my Love Note sweater, so now I'm at the point in the body where I just knit knit knit until it's the required length. It's going pretty quickly, given the big needles, but I'm needing to go a little slower than usual to make sure I get both strands of yarn in every stitch, and as you'd expect with four strands of yarn attached to the project, I also have to pause periodically to make sure they're not tangled.

I may be biting off more than I can chew, but it would be great if I could finish this before we leave for Florida (that's about a week and a half away). I was able to knit about an inch of the body in an hour last night, so that doesn't seem too ambitious, especially if I decide to do short sleeves.

My top priority right now, though, is getting the second of these socks past the heel turn, because I have an in-person board meeting tomorrow evening and I know I will need them to stay focused:

I have about an inch left to knit on the leg before I start the heel flap, so that shouldn't take me much time at all. The challenge will be tearing myself away from my spinning; I'm already on my third bobbin of my current spin and am so enjoying the colors that I don't want to do anything else!

I have only finished one book this week, but it's a big one!

It took me almost exactly four weeks of determined reading, but last night (past my bedtime!) I finally finished War and Peace. This was quite a brick, and I'm very glad I read it in digital format! I will say that I opted for the cheapest digital version, and it was very clear that I got what I paid for. There were no page numbers, just the dreaded "position" indicator, and periodically the print went from roman to italics and back for no apparent reason. Many of the character names were also Westernized (Andrei became Andrew, Marya became Mary, etc.), so I suspect I may not have had the best translation. All that aside, there were parts of this book that I very much enjoyed, notably the relationships between the characters and how they changed over the years. But there was a lot in here that was an absolute slog, especially the parts about the battles, and there's a great deal of Tolstoy's philosophizing about the meaning of war and why it happens. The entirety of the second epilogue, which was what kept me up late last name, felt completely irrelevant to the rest of the book and, in my opinion, could be skipped, and I think Jerry Seinfeld wasn't far off when he claimed that the original title of the book was "War: What Is It Good For." I am not sorry that I read it, but I also don't think it's the masterpiece that some claim it is. I think if you're interested in it, you'd be much better off watching the 2016 miniseries (which I plan to rewatch soon). I gave the book 3 stars.

I am still reading The Shipping News but hope to finish it up this week now that I'm done with the brick!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 06, 2023

A Peek at My Weekend (with a Bonus New Pattern)

The weekend went by quickly, as it always does, but this one had a lot of good things.

We had our first dinner back at my parents' of the new year, though of course we were missing my dad. Leo the dog was there, though, while his parents were at a childbirth class. We ate homemade challah with dinner, too:

On Saturday morning, Rainbow and I drove about 20 miles away to a small fiber event. We ended up spending more time in the car than actually at the event, but it was worth it. Here's what came home with us:

I was not intending to buy any yarn, but I saw these gorgeous burnt oranges and reds and browns, and before I knew it, they were in my arms. I'll be using them for a Birch Pullover. Rainbow bought the green skein, and we'll fight it out over who gets the soaps. These all came from Rebecca of Dusty Tree Soap/Dyeworks; her yarn is all dyed in small batches with no dyelots, so I picked skeins that all looked like they went together and will be doing a lot of blending.

There was some successful lace knitting on my Love Note once I learned how to count correctly:

I promise it'll look better when blocked!

And there was some spinning as well, with the first of three bobbins of singles spun:

Kingfisher on Corriedale from Southern Cross Fibre

Last but not least, there was some brownie baking in my fancy new pan, which I purchased after Kym blogged about her even fancier one:

Now I'm starting off what is looking like it will be a busy week, but it will at least be a shorter one, because my office is closed on Friday -- one of the benefits of working for an institution of higher education is that there are random days off, in this case, the Friday of spring break week! It's also my birthday week, but my actual birthday will be a long day ending with an in-person board meeting. Ugh. In any case, I've decided to kick it off by publishing my center-out, top-down, any yarn, any gauge hat pattern!

It's called Spinning in Infinity and is available in my Ravelry and Payhip shops. It's written for five sizes (toddler to adult large) and includes a photo tutorial for the cast-on method.

I hope that your weekend was full of good things and that your Monday is off to a good start!

Friday, March 03, 2023

She Spins Seashells

TGIF, friends! It has been another long week, so I'm happy to have the end of it come around finally. I was hoping to have the beginning of the lace of my Love Note to share with you today, but it turns out that I have trouble counting after a long day, and I ended up having to tink back everything I'd knit and ran out of time to redo it. Instead, I have another skein of handspun to share.

I thought I'd take a quick break from burning through my Southern Cross Fibre stash and spin up one of the bags of fiber that Margene sent me. I picked a pretty 2 oz. bundle of 80% Cormo wool/20% angora from Wooly Wonka Fibers in the colorway Seashells, a very apt name for colors reminiscent of what you'd see inside shells you pick up on the beach. Given the small amount, I decided to spin it all onto one bobbin, wind the singles into a center-pull ball, and then ply from both ends. If you're interested in the mechanics of this, I posted a reel on my Instagram account earlier in the week (thanks to the fancy tripod I recently got to hold my phone). The result is a lovely little skein of a bit more than 200 yards of two-ply fingering to sport:

It's not the most consistent yarn ever -- Cormo is always a bit of a challenge for me, because it's so fine and so springy that it has a tendency to get neppy really easily -- but it's bouncy and soft. Don't ask me what I'll make with this, because I really just spun it to spin it. Perhaps it will be a gift for someone, one day.

Today is going to be wet and windy (the local weather report used a "where you'll find your empty garbage can" graphic to illustrate how high the winds will be, and the forecast is "in your neighbor's yard"), so I'll be staying inside. We're headed back to my mother's for Friday night dinner this evening, so challah baking is also on tap. Tomorrow, Rainbow and I are planning to head to a local-ish fiber event, our first in several years, and I'm hoping that over the weekend I can manage to count correctly and get my Love Note back in order.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Unraveled, Week 9/2023

Happy Wednesday and happy first day of meteorological spring! March is my birthday month, so I always look forward to it, even though it's typically a wild month of weather -- seems like nine times out of ten it snows on my birthday. But this year March appears to be coming in like a lamb, at least for today. The sun is out and we're supposed to reach a high in the upper 60s this afternoon, so my walk today should be very pleasant.

As usual, I'm linking up today with Kat and the Unravelers, and I'm sharing an update on my crafting and my reading.

Over the weekend I finished up my latest spinning project (well, technically I finished it Friday evening, but I didn't get a chance to set the twist until Saturday). This was last October's Southern Cross Fibre club shipment, Dragon's Breath on South American wool blend, and I split it up into smaller bits to try to break up the colors. I was hoping it would go well enough with the combo spin I finished in November that wasn't quite enough for a sweater. I'm extremely happy with how this most recent skein turned out -- a very well-balanced three-ply fingering that comes in at about 366 yards:

This colorway definitely had brighter reds than those I used in the combo spin, but I think that it'll work just fine with those skeins, especially as I'd always planned to alternate as I knit:

On today's to-do list is winding two more skeins of yarn so I can cast on my Love Note, but I've got two other smaller projects going.


The Felici socks are for Rainbow, and I got quite a bit of the leg of the second sock done while sitting at the orthodontist with Rainbow on Monday morning. We were there longer than expected because they put a new bracket onto a tooth that's growing in, and of course it popped off when the assistant was trying to put on the little rubber band that keeps the wire in place, so it had to be redone. The crimson project is a swatch of sorts for a possible design submission -- what's the knitting equivalent of a wearable muslin? Because it'll be something that can be used when it's done, but it's not the final version. Anyway, I'm using some very deep stash, the now-discontinued Knit Picks Merino Style, which I'd started a sweater in more than a decade ago (it was a test knit) and never finished. The start of that sweater is still in the stash, too; I should probably unravel it and repurpose the yarn, because I don't think I have the pattern anymore and am never going to finish it.

Reading has been excellent this past week. I finished two 5-star books.

Those of you who have already read Dani Shapiro's latest, Signal Fires, know just how good it is. I had a long wait for it from the library, but it finally became available to me Saturday evening. I started it then and finished it at the orthodontist's office Monday morning. Wow, is this a beautifully written book! There is not a word that's out of place in this story of two families whose lives become intertwined in heartwarming and heartbreaking ways. There's not a lot of plot in between the few dramatic moments, but it's not missed -- this is very much a book about these people, their relationships, their struggles, and their triumphs. I really loved it!

The Golden Compass was a reread for me; I first read it in my senior year of college, I think, when I had also just started my master's program and was taking an amazing course in children's literature. I wanted to revisit it ahead of the Novel Pairings episode that came out yesterday, which discusses it alongside The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I decided to listen to the audiobook this time, even though I still have my original paperbacks of the series on my shelf, mainly so I could read it while getting other things done. I don't think I loved it quite as much as I did the first time around -- because let's face it, nothing is as good as discovering a great book for the first time -- but I still thoroughly enjoyed the world that's been created and the plucky character of Lyra. I expect I'll have to reread the other two books in the series again soon.

I am currently reading, still, War and Peace (I'm 72% through it, according to the Kindle app) and The Shipping News for the next Read With Us discussion.

What are you making and reading this week?