Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Unraveled, Week 22/2023

What, a third blog post from me in as many days?! Well, you know I wouldn't miss an Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and the Unravelers, but you will get a break from me tomorrow!

I don't have much of a crafting update since Monday because I spent a fair amount of time yesterday undoing a little bit of a mess I made with my Shoulder Season on Monday evening. It was entirely user error to blame; I misread some directions and did the wrong thing on the wrong round of the pattern repeat. I tried to undo and correct a stretch of stitches without tinking back entirely, but that just made stuff worse. But now I'm back on track. I also made myself a cheat sheet for the six-round repeat that's a bit easier for me to follow than the very specific instructions in the pattern to help me keep my place better.

I did find some time yesterday to skein and wash my latest handspun as well. This is skein number 12 of Southern Cross Fibre club shipments for the year!

This is Peaceful Shores on Bond wool from that dramatic month of March 2020. I spun this as a two-ply fractal, as I did for the last skein, but this one ended up a bit thicker because I spun the second bobbin of singles in a bit of a hurry and apparently was not as consistent. It's in the sport/DK range but closer to DK at 284 yards. No matter -- I'm happy to have it done. And I am officially upping my target "to spin this year" number to 24. I figure if I could make it through a dozen shipments in five months, that's a very reasonable total. I have 19 bags of SCF fiber in my possession at the moment (four of which were prizes), and I am really liking the thicker yarns that are faster to spin. So we shall see how much of my stash I am left with at the end of the year.

While the past week has been a bit busier at work and did not allow for that much reading time, I managed to finish two more since this time last week.

Barbara Kingsolver's debut novel, The Bean Trees, is the next one we're discussing in our study of her books. I thought for sure I had read this one, but I didn't remember any of it, so it's possible I only meant to. Our main character, Taylor Greer, is feisty and independent (and she rather reminded me of Demon). On her long drive west to escape the inevitable of Kentucky, she's given a Native American toddler and told that her parents are gone and the best thing for her would be to leave the reservation. Taylor makes herself a new home in Arizona and has to negotiate becoming a mother to a child about whose past she knows nothing, though what she suspects is not good. Even though this book was written in 1988, so many of the issues that are raised feel extremely relevant today. I gave it 4 stars, and I'm looking forward to rereading the sequel (I know for sure I read it because I remember doing a project on it in eighth grade!).

I finished my penultimate book in the Women's Prize shortlist on Monday afternoon. Black Butterflies is set in 1992 and deals with the siege of Sarajevo, something I lived through but really didn't know all that much about. This book also feels very relevant; even though the events of the book are in the past, the unrest among the various ethnic and religious groups have caused conflict for a long time, and recent violence has been in the news in just the last few days. Drawing on the stories of her relatives who lived through it, Priscilla Morris shows just how harrowing it can be to live through a war. Though we hear plenty about casualties on the battlefield, it is rare that we get such an honest, unvarnished portrait of the struggle of the civilians who are caught in the middle. This is a sad read, but I think it's worth it if only as a reminder of our common humanity. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently reading the last title I have left on the shortlist, Pod, which is really unlike anything I've read before. I also finally started Doctor Zhivago, which I am reading along with Katie as part of our yearlong buddy read of Big Russian Books, and I'll be picking a new audiobook to start today on my run.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Embrace in 2023: May

More than any other month so far this year, this one has seemed to have sped by, so I'm glad the Monday holiday has given us an extra day to come up with our monthly One Little Word check-in posts. Many thanks to Carolyn for hosting us every month and for giving us extra things to think about with respect to our words!

My former boss was fond of saying that the only thing that was constant in life was change, and I think he was really right. In thinking about how my word has made itself known this month, I realized that a lot of my day-to-day has been about adjusting to change. First, my newest nephew arrived earlier than expected. Then there were some pretty big changes at work: knowing that one of my coworkers was going to be leaving at the end of the month, the arrival of our new "big boss," and then the surprise announcement just about a week ago that the head of my unit is leaving. All of these work changes may have big implications for me; certainly in the near term, the loss of a member of my group likely means more work for me. And there are a lot of unknowns about how things will change within the small group and the larger office.

Embracing such changes is a challenge. By nature, I am not someone who likes surprises or unpredictability. I like to be in control of my life as much as possible, and I like to know what to expect so I can mentally and emotionally prepare for things, especially those that are challenging. But these last few years have been one giant experience in having to get through life while being totally out of control of the circumstances, and I think the result is that I've become much more flexible when it comes to changes. I don't always have to like it, and I can certainly complain about it to anyone who asks, but I have accepted it as a fact of life.

Oh, and as to my nephew arriving early? That's been something I can truly embrace -- quite literally!

Monday, May 29, 2023

A Monday Pause

I always enjoy having a Monday off. It was a real treat to be able to sleep in this morning (though it's the time of year when the bedroom is so bright that it's hard to sleep too late). Though we didn't have much planned for the weekend, it ended up being busy with errands, chores, and the usual stuff that gets put off during the week, so I'm looking forward to having nothing to do today.

I have sadly done very little knitting this weekend, but I did manage to get my Shoulder Season joined up under the arms and am now working in the round on the body. I still have to pay attention because the patterning changes every round, but at least now there is no more flipping back and forth. I plan to weave in the remaining ends before I plow ahead, just so there's less to do at the end.

Also on tap for today is plying some handspun. I finished up the first bobbin of singles on Friday and spun all of the second last night:

Before any of that, though, I have a run on tap this morning, and I might actually have to do a little work (we've got a really tight deadline and I don't want to be totally stressed out tomorrow, so if I can get some done today when there are no distractions of meetings and emails, it will do a lot for my sanity). We had our families over for a cookout yesterday, and we have tons of food leftover, so I don't have to worry about cooking tonight.

If you're off today as well, I hope it's a relaxing day for you. I will be back tomorrow with my One Little Word reflection for May -- a month that has truly gotten away from me!

Friday, May 26, 2023

An FO and a New Start

After another long week, I was delighted to wake up this morning and realize that it was finally Friday. Mo had her final exams the last two days, which meant a disruption to the usual routine because she was done with school at 11 a.m. both days, but today it's back to the normal schedule -- though it's all fun for her at school today. They're going to see The Little Mermaid and then having a pizza party for lunch, followed by a performance of the lower school's musical. Youth is truly wasted on the young, am I right? Fortunately I also get to have a nice start to the holiday weekend because my office is closing at 2 p.m. Our new "big boss" only just started last week, but it seems she's already aware of the office tradition of closing early on the Friday before a holiday weekend.

As promised, I have an FO to share -- one you didn't even see as a WIP because it came together so fast!

Pattern: Rain on Notre Dame (Ravelry link) by Sarah Schira, neckwarmer size
Yarn: my handspun, approximately 127 yards
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: May 21/May 23

This was another project knit primarily for the SSK knitalong, but I've been wanting to knit this pattern for a while. There are two lengths given in the pattern, the closer-fitting size that I did and a longer version that can be looped around the neck several times. It's also designed for worsted weight yarn, but my yarn was more in the fingering to sport neighborhood, so I adjusted my needle size accordingly. Fresh off the needles, it was fairly close fitting, but I blocked it by placing a rolled-up towel inside to both stretch it out and prevent it from having fold lines while drying. Now it has some lovely drape.

True to my prediction, I have started another two-ply fractal spin. I found what is now the oldest Southern Cross fiber in my stash -- Peaceful Shores on Bond from March 2020:

and I split it up:

I was intending to split the one half into four strips like the last spin, but the fiber naturally divided itself into thirds, so I went with it. I have started spinning the singles but haven't gotten very far, so I'll wait to share an in-progress photo until there's something to actually show.

Really what I've been focused on the past couple of days is my Shoulder Season, which is finally looking like a sweater!

Yesterday I finished the two front panels on either side of the neck opening and just joined them, so now I have about 36 rows to knit on the front before I join the front and back and start working in the round on the body.

We have a fairly quiet holiday long weekend ahead. We are having our families over for dinner on Sunday but otherwise have no plans. I'm hoping to spend some extra time outside, weather permitting, and fit in some more reading time. I hope your weekend includes some relaxation time!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Unraveled, Week 21/2023

Did anyone else wake up this morning and think, "Is it really only Wednesday?" It feels like it's been a very long week already, probably in part due to the four-hour Zoom workshop I attended to for work yesterday. It wasn't too bad because I could knit my way through it, but it did mean a lot of sitting around and it messed up my usual schedule (I usually go for my walk or run in the morning and couldn't go until after lunch yesterday). Anyway, it is Wednesday, which means it's time to check in with Kat and the Unravelers!

I'll start off by sharing my latest skein of handspun, which I actually got done over the weekend but decided to save for today because of all the other stuff on Monday. I'm absolutely delighted with this one!

This was the oldest Southern Cross Fibre club shipment in my stash -- One Fish, Two Fish on South African Superfine from January 2019. I spun it as a two-ply fractal, meaning I split the top in half lengthwise and then split one half into four narrow strips, then spun all the pieces in the same order. That means the colors repeat in the same way in both plies but at different rates. This really allows for great barber poling:

After washing, it's approximately 305 yards of sport weight. I had so much fun with this that I might repeat it with my next skein. I'll also note that this is the 11th skein of SCF fiber I've spun this year, so I am on track to achieve my original goal of 12 before we're even halfway through 2023. Seems like I need to double down on this goal!

I snuck in a quick handspun project over the last few days, but it requires a good blocking before I share it, so you'll have to wait until Friday to see that. But having finished up that and the baby sweater (which I mailed on Monday and which was already delivered yesterday!), I've pulled out my Shoulder Season again.

I still have quite a bit of garter stitch to do on the back before I move on to the next step, so that's at least some easy knitting to do while in meetings or watching TV or reading.

Reading has been pretty steady and enjoyable this past week!

Margaret Renkl's newest collection of essays, The Comfort of Crows, took me back to the early days of the pandemic, when amid all the uncertainty of life I found comfort in nature and in its ability to continue to grow and change even as the world seemed to be falling apart. In reflecting on the plants and animals in her backyard over the course of a year and the change of the seasons, Renkl reminds us that while it's hard to stop nature, our impacts are changing it and that we have a responsibility to do right by our fellow creatures. Her writing is calming and comforting, even as it raises the alarm of climate change. Highly recommend!

I received an advanced reader's copy of this book from Spiegel & Grau and NetGalley in return for an honest review. I gave it 4 stars.

I also listened to another title from Ann Patchett's backlist, The Magician's Assistant. This is a quiet book in the sense that it's very much focused on people and relationships rather than on things that happen. Sabine, the widow of the magician for whom she served as assistant for 20 years, suddenly finds that there is a lot about her late husband that she never knew. As she journeys to Nebraska to find out more about the person she thought she knew better than anyone, she learns more about herself, about families, and about secrets. It's a very well-written character study, and I really enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars as well.


I'm currently reading The Bean Trees (I have about 20 pages left to read) and an ARC from NetGalley, The Centre.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, May 22, 2023

Half and Half

This weekend was a mixed bag. I told Mo that it was a good thing we had a fiber festival to go to on Saturday because the weather was just miserable -- it poured for most of the day. That made for pretty awful driving, but I had company, so it wasn't so bad. And the festival, though small, was really nice. We both came home with some nice stuff:

Let me preface this by saying that I did not have plans to buy anything, but I also was not forbidding myself from making any purchases. Mo wanted to buy some soap for a teacher who is leaving her school at the end of the year and also had her eye on some sock yarn. We both came home with a bit more than that. My purchases are on the left. I could not resist the set of four skeins of Fibernymph Dye Works fingering in the bag -- they are Lisa's Ridgetop base, a custom-milled blend, that's now discontinued. I've knit two sweaters from it and really like it, so I figured these would not go to waste. I'm thinking a striped sweater. Mo picked out two colorways from Lisa's new Signature Series: Brights on Bedazzled (her sparkly base) and Neutrals on Mountain Tweed BFL. She wants to learn to knit socks this summer, so these are good motivation! We planned to buy soap from Rebecca at Dusty Tree and picked out a bar for Mo's teacher plus three others to come home with us. She also had some special mystery bags in her booth, each containing a skein of yarn, a soap sliver, a sticker, and a stitch marker for $15, so we picked out two. I ended up with the peachy skein to the left, and Mo opened the dusty pink/gray on the left of her four skeins. At Ex Libris Fibers, Mo selected another dusty pink with gray speckles (yes, that's totally her color of the moment), and we each picked out a sticker. Mine is the one that looks like a tombstone and says "Bury me in yarn and books"; Mo's says "Overwoolmed." Finally, she found an adorable project bag from June Pryce Fiber Arts. There's a large reversible bag with a square base plus a smaller zippered bag. I think we did pretty well for being there for maybe an hour!

I did not get a ton of knitting done over the weekend, but I did finish up the Newborn Vertebrae sweater and blocked it on Friday, and today it's all packaged up and ready to go in the mail.

I didn't purposefully try to match the sleeves, but it somehow worked out that they looked more or less the same, and that kind of serendipity always makes me happy.

Most of my crafting time over the weekend was spent plying my latest handspun. I still have to measure it to get final yardage and photograph the finished skein, but I'm so happy with how it turned out. Here's a preview of it on the wheel just after I finished:

Yesterday's big activity was planting more of the garden. I picked up our plants in the morning and Mo and I put them in after lunch. None of the flowers had actual blooms on them, so it doesn't look too exciting at the moment. I'm hoping we don't have to wait too long for some color!

This is the smaller and shadier side of the yard. I put the hostas in last weekend, and we added the flowers (they're dahlias, supposedly -- hard to tell without any flowers!).

On the more exciting side of the yard, we have more dahlias in the line next to the grass. There's a small patch of coleus in front of the Japanese maple, and in front of the hydrangeas, there's a bunch of salvia. If you look closely (and click on the photo to embiggen), you'll see my new planter with my tomatoes. There will be more vegetables going in soon; I've got radish, beet, bell pepper, zucchini, cantaloupe, and butternut squash seedlings in the house (though not all have sprouted).

Today I'm hoping for a quiet day at work, especially because I have a four-hour Zoom workshop for tomorrow (thank goodness I can knit my way through it!). Here's hoping you have a calm start to your week as well!

Friday, May 19, 2023

What a Week!

TGIF, friends! It's been a very long week, mainly because it was a very long Wednesday. I knew it was going to be busy, but even I was shocked when I looked at my Fitbit app at the end of the day to get a sense of just how physically active I was:

That is officially the highest daily step total I have ever had. Added to the fact that this total included a run in the morning and a successful blood donation, I am surprised that I did not keel over at the end of the day. That might have something to do with the fact that I brewed extra coffee in the morning so that I could have an iced coffee after lunch, but I suspect the real reason was a certain someone's snoring when I was trying to fall asleep.

Thankfully work has been calmer this week, other than a few extra meetings, so I've had a little more mental rest. I haven't managed to do a ton of crafting, but things are getting closer to finished. In particular, this Newborn Vertebrae must get done today, because I found out yesterday that the recipient has been born!

As you can see, there's not much left to do -- just a little bit of the second sleeve to finish. I should be able to knock that out pretty quickly, give the sweater a quick block, and then pop it in the mail tomorrow.

Once the sweater is finished, I'll be turning my attention to my wheel and plying up these singles:

I am very excited to see how this yarn looks when it's finished, so I'm hoping things work out to allow me to get to plying today.

Tomorrow Mo and I are going to check out a brand-new local(ish) fiber festival. It's a fairly small event, but there are several vendors we know and want to see, including Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works, who I have not seen in person since we went to Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus back in November 2019. I haven't told her I'm coming so that I can surprise her! The weather is supposed to be pretty crummy tomorrow morning, so a little fiber therapy should do the trick. The sun is supposed to return on Sunday, which will be perfect for planting the flowers we'll be picking up from our synagogue preschool's plant sale. I'm hoping that the weekend is good for catching up on sleep, reading, and stitching.

Have a wonderful weekend and a good end to your week!

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Unraveled, Week 20/2023

It's that time again -- time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and talk all things making and reading! I am once again getting this post ready ahead of time because I have a very long day ahead (I'm scheduled to donate blood before lunch, then have a work Zoom after lunch, then a work reception at 3, then something at the synagogue at 6:30). There may be some extra coffee for me today to keep me going!

I am currently focused on just one project because it's a baby gift that needs to be done and delivered before the baby is. This is the Newborn Vertebrae, one of my old stand-bys, in Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce. I'm in the seemingly interminable part, the 1x1 ribbed collar and front bands.

Is it a baby sweater or a hat with ears?

I think the sleeves should be very easy to whip up once I'm done with all the ribbing, and then I can get back to my sweater knitting.

Meanwhile, I've been having fun with a fractal spin and have nearly finished up the second bobbin of singles, the one with more frequent color changes:

I'm really excited to see this plied!

My Women's Prize reading has been moving right along this week, with two more titles from the shortlist finished.

Fire Rush is set in the late '70s and early '80s in London's dub music scene (something I knew nothing about and am still not really familiar with) in a housing project mainly inhabited by Afro-Caribbean expats. In addition to dealing with the racism of Margaret Thatcher's UK, main character Yamaye, who dreams of being a DJ and performer, is also struggling with the mysterious disappearance of her mother. When her boyfriend is killed by the police and her friend is arrested for a violent assault, a riot erupts in her neighborhood and she is forced to go into hiding, where she soon finds herself under the protection and also the control of another man. That's a pretty general synopsis, but the music itself is a big part of the story, as is the cultural identity of the main character and her friends. The writing heavily uses a Caribbean patois, which I got used to but also had a lot of trouble understanding, so I felt that I wasn't getting the full picture of what was going on in the story. I think that if I hadn't been reading this in order to read all the titles on the shortlist, I likely would not have finished it. I don't think it's a bad book, it's just not a book for me. I gave it 2 stars.

My most recent finish, Trespasses, which I read both because it's on the shortlist and because it's the next Read With Us selection, was a much better experience for me. This novel is set in Northern Ireland at the height of The Troubles. Cushla, a 20-something Catholic elementary school teacher, begins an affair with a married Protestant lawyer. Given the time and the setting, you can imagine that such an affair would be extremely dangerous for all parties and have serious repercussions. I will note for those who are bothered by such things that there are no quotation marks used in the dialogue (I don't love that, but I adjusted just fine). I really enjoyed this one and only took as long as I did to read it because I was reading primarily before bed. I'll also note that I ordered a paperback copy from Blackwell's that was very reasonably priced (and they don't charge for shipping)! I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently reading an ARC of Margaret Renkl's forthcoming The Comfort of Crows: A Backyard Year, which will be published this fall, and am thoroughly enjoying it. On deck I have the last two titles for the shortlist and The Bean Trees (a reread, I believe, though I have no recollection of reading it the first time).

Monday, May 15, 2023

Weekending Done Right

As usual, Monday morning has come much too soon, but it comes after a really relaxing and enjoyable weekend. Saturday was pretty gloomy, with rain on and off most of the day. I still got out for my walk, but it wasn't a great day for being outside. Rainbow and I did go and get a much-needed haircut (our last visit to the salon was six months ago) -- here's a before and after:

We both got several inches chopped off ahead of summer, and we're both thoroughly enjoying the lighter feel. Also, Rainbow said that she's ready to stop being known by her nickname, so everyone, meet Mo! That's actually her nickname, but it's how she's decided to be known online, so that's what I'll be calling her on the blog from now on.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here. I was up early to go for my walk first thing and then we went to brunch at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house. I know you all know how much Mo and I look alike, but you may not realize that it's a three-generation resemblance:

In the afternoon, the Mister and I went to Home Depot to pick up a few things for the garden:

We'll be picking up some flowers and herbs that I ordered through our synagogue's annual plant sale next Sunday, but in the meantime I wanted a few things to fill in the shady side of our front yard (the hostas), a lavender plant to replace one that our landscapers killed, some tomato plants, and some potting mix. Our new planter is all ready for the seedlings I've got going inside:

The tomato plants are in, but eventually I hope to have peppers, radishes, and zucchini in here as well.

I did some crafting over the weekend as well. I knit up another baby hat for the Mister to give to a coworker using some scraps, which I just realized he forgot to take in this morning, and I spun up a bobbin of singles for a fractal spin using the oldest Southern Cross Fibre in my stash:

I am hoping for a mostly calm week at work because Wednesday is going to be a very long day -- I'm scheduled to donate blood, have two work meetings (one in person), and have a thing at synagogue that evening. Hope your Monday is off to a decent start!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Many Good Things

Ah, hello there, Friday! It's good to see you. Although work has been calmer this week, it's still been a very long, busy week -- final play rehearsals and performances for Rainbow, a board meeting for me, and the usual weekly stuff. But it's also been a week filled with some good things, and there are more ahead this weekend.

First, perhaps inspired by last weekend's marathon, I achieved something pretty exciting in my running. If you've been following my running journey for a while, you might remember that I had to stop a couple of years ago due to a hip injury. When I was able to start again, I could run without pain, but I was mainly doing a lot of interval training -- running a bit and then walking a little to catch my breath. On Monday, I decided to see if I could go longer before I stopped to walk and was able to run a full 5K (that's 3.1 miles) without stopping. That's the first time I've done that since before my injury! And I did it again on Wednesday. My pace is still on the slower side (somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 minutes per mile), but at the moment I'm focused on endurance rather than speed. I'm also focused on not hurting myself again, so I've been limiting myself to no more than three runs a week and I'm always sure to stretch when I get back.

Last night, I also finished up my sister-in-law's first Mother's Day socks, which I hope she will love:

I used my vanilla sock recipe for these, but I did a tubular cast-on and 1x1 rib for the cuff to change things up a bit. The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Cuddletime, which was the name of the tea that accompanied it as part of Lisa's Tea for Two club. If you look really closely you'll see they're not quite perfectly matched, but they're pretty darn close; I don't think anyone would really notice if they weren't lining them up and inspecting them closely.

Good thing #3: Spring seems to finally be here to stay, and we've had some beautiful weather this week. I have seedlings started inside and a new planter put together that we're going to put in the front yard (which gets tons of sun) for our vegetables. I have flowers and some other plants order through our synagogue's annual preschool plant sale (pickup is next Sunday), and I've asked the Mister for a trip to buy some additional plants for my Mother's Day gift. Our lilac bushes are in full bloom right now -- they smell wonderful! -- and yesterday I noticed that our roses have started to bloom.

Finally, there will be lots of good family time this weekend. The gang is going to be all back together for Friday night dinner at my parents', so we'll get to spend time with my nephew -- I haven't seen him in a week, and Rainbow hasn't seen him since the day he was born! And my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are hosting their usual Mother's Day brunch on Sunday. Lots of baby squishing will be happening over the next several days!

I hope you've found some good things this week, and I wish you a lovely weekend. Happy Mother's Day to those of you celebrating, and gentle hugs to those of you for whom it's a difficult day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Unraveled, Week 19/2023

Happy Wednesday, friends! Full disclosure to start things off: I'm actually writing this post on Tuesday and setting it to publish Wednesday morning because our internet provider has notified us of "improvements" they'll be making in our neighborhood that will cause internet outages starting as early as 6 a.m. (If they can start that early, why don't they just do the work overnight when not as many people are relying on the internet for work?) In any case, rather than keeping my fingers crossed and hoping I can manage to hit publish when I'm still connected, I decided to put this post together ahead of time and take one thing off my to-do list early.

Because it's Wednesday, that means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers and an update on my projects and reading.

Today finds me with my sister-in-law's socks still on the needles but cued up for play performance knitting tonight (Rainbow specifically told me to bring my knitting with me; the play is apparently rather strange). I did some work on them yesterday to get them through the heel flap and gusset so I could cruise down the foot in the dark. I expect they will be finished up by tomorrow at the latest, giving me plenty of time to wash them and wrap them up for Sunday.

Meanwhile, I cast on a new project on Monday, a Newborn Vertebrae (Ravelry link) that's a baby gift for a coworker and her husband (my former boss), who will be welcoming their first grandchild next month. This pattern is always an easy knit that looks super cute, and I've been waiting for a girl to be born so I could use this pink-heavy colorway of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce -- it's from the Tea for Two club from several years ago and is called Fabulous Fruits (it came with a fruity herbal tea, something like strawberry pomegranate).

I'm sensing a theme in the colors in this week's post, because I also finished a skein of handspun on Monday (though I don't have final specs on it because it was still damp when I took this photo):

It's a two ply that looks to be in the realm of sport to DK, but it may very well poof up when it dries. I'll share most photos and final specs once it's dry.

As to reading, after last week's small report, I have a bumper crop of finished books to share this week!

The new nonfiction work Master Slave Husband Wife came up in conversation in a Sunday Zoom a couple of months ago, shortly after I heard part of an NPR story about it. I had to wait a bit to get it from the library, but it was well worth the wait. This book tells the story of William and Ellen Craft, an enslaved couple who escaped the South by disguising themselves as a sickly white man (Ellen, who was biracial and especially light-skinned, dressed in men's clothing) and his servant. The book details their escape and what they did with their lives afterwards, and it provides excellent historical context about the politics of the time, the Fugitive Slave Act, and the complicated intertwined lives of enslaved people and the people who enslaved them. I found it to be well written and well paced. I gave it 4 stars.

Next was a book off the Women's Prize longlist. Though at the moment I'm focused on the shortlight, Margene was kind enough to send me a hard copy, and I'd been wanting to read Natalie Haynes' Stone Blind for a long time anyway. You might remember that I adored her previous book, A Thousand Ships, and this novel similarly is set among the ancient Greek gods. The focus this time around is the story of Medusa, though to be completely honest, she really doesn't appear on the page as much as you'd expect. There's a much greater focus on Perseus and on the general pantheon of gods fighting and arguing amongst themselves. There are some truly funny moments in this book, and I love how contemporary Haynes makes her characters feel, but I didn't love it. I gave it 3 stars.

I was in need of an audiobook over the weekend, so I went back to Hoopla and its selection of Ann Patchett's work (I'm trying to read them all). I decided to listen to her very first book, The Patron Saint of Liars. This novel, told in three sections by three of the main characters, is centered on a home for unwed mothers run by a group of nuns in a tiny Kentucky town appropriately named Habit. Given the setting, it's no surprise that secrets and lies run through the narrative, but there's also a lot of reflection about motherhood. The nuns brought to mind "Call the Midwife" to me; there's even a very old nun who ends up sitting around much of the time who made me think of Sister Monica Joan. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, after another long library wait, I got my turn with Unraveling: What I Learned About Life while Shearing Sheep, Dyeing Wool, and Making the World's Ugliest Sweater. You've probably heard about this book from a hundred different sources already if you're already hooked up to the online knitting world. I devoured it in two days. While I did spot a few errors in spinning terminology, I give the author a pass because she's still learning this stuff, and what she may have gotten wrong she more than makes up for with the additional information she offers about the history of fiber craft, the impact of the garment industry on the environment, and the connection that knitting (and related crafts) creates between people. This is a quick, easy, and highly enjoyable read, and I wholeheartedly recommend it if you haven't read it yet. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm currently reading two titles from the Women's Prize shortlist -- Trespasses on paper and Fire Rush on Kindle.

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

Monday, May 08, 2023

Only a Little FOMO

This weekend spring finally returned to Pittsburgh. After a string of cold and rainy days, the sun came out Saturday morning, making for a thoroughly enjoyable walk and then some time in the garden. Of course, the weather was also beautiful in Maryland for the 50th annual Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. Rainbow and I had briefly talked about going, but given my sister-in-law's due date, we decided to stay home (but we do intend to go next year!). I have not been to MDSW since 2019, and I do miss it. It was the first big fiber festival I ever went to, and a lot of people I know were there. I had to make do with seeing the photos and videos people were posting on Instagram, and in the grand scheme of things, it's probably better for my wallet and the size of my stash that I didn't go!

Instead of enhancing my stash, I spent some of the weekend reducing my stash. I worked on my sister-in-law's Mother's Day socks (which will definitely be finished in time -- I'm just about ready to start the heel of the second sock):

And I spun up a bobbin of singles from my second-oldest Southern Cross Fibre club shipment (Dahlia on Merino/silk from March 2020):

At some point today, I hope to wind these off on my ball winder so I can ply from both ends. It's a good thing I spun these singles so quickly, because I got what those of us in the SCF club refer to as "a pillow" from David on Saturday, containing these beauties:

The blue colorway on the left is the latest club shipment, a Merino/Corriedale cross wool in the colorway Bali. The other two semisolids are South African Superfine wool (so soft!) that were a prize. David has started awarding prizes to two people every month among those who post in a thread in his Ravelry group as a way of encouraging people to share what they're spinning, and in April, I was one of the lucky winners! I was excited to win, although getting three bags of fiber in the mail doesn't really help in my efforts to spin down my SCF stash. I really enjoyed spinning up the latest singles a little thicker than my default, though, so I think I may do several spins like that and get through several bags quickly.

Today it's back to the grind, though I'm hoping work will be less hectic than it was last week. Rainbow's school play (for which she is co-stage manager) is this Wednesday and Thursday, so she'll be at school late for rehearsals today and tomorrow and then late for the performances. I expect that means I'll be dealing with a grumpy for much of the week -- though if I'm honest, that's not that unusual! I hope Monday is kind to you and brings you all the coffee you need to get your week started off well.

Friday, May 05, 2023

In Which I Knit Small Things

I'm always happy when Friday rolls around, but I'm extra happy to see it today -- it's been A Week, friends! I am hoping today can be a quieter day and I can actually get some things done around the house without being tied to the computer.

Given how busy I have been this week, it feels appropriate that all the knitting I've accomplished has been in the form of small things. First, the impossibly cute gnome hat -- so cute that I almost didn't mind having to weave in eight(!) ends:

Pattern: Go Big or Go Gnome Hat by Sarah Schirra, smallest size
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Ridgetop Fingering (gray), 60 yards; MollyGirl Honky Tonk Lite (blue), 9 yards; and Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering (red), 28.5 yards
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) and US 2 (2.75 mm)
Started/Completed: May 2/May 3
Mods: Adjusted needle size to maintain gauge

I had bought this pattern several years ago because my brother is such a gnome fanatic, and I figured I'd make him a hat one day. But I think we can all agree that it's even more adorable in a tiny baby size. I think it might be a tad big on my nephew right now, but I know that his parents aren't going to mind. I amazingly found scraps in appropriate colors in my scrap bag. Of course, the weather forecast predictably improved as soon as I finished this hat, so my nephew may not even get a chance to wear it before he outgrows it! Not that I really care -- it's fun to knit tiny things!

My brother reports that although they're all exhausted, they are settling in well. Their dog is very interested in the baby and seems worried when he cries. He sent me these photos yesterday:

I suspect they're going to be best buddies.

In other small items, I have finished the first of my sister-in-law's Mother's Day socks and started the second:

And then I started another small project at the request of the Mister, who asked me to make a baby hat for a coworker. I cast this on yesterday and finished it up this morning, just a basic rolled-brim beanie that I added a three-dimensional leaf to (and obviously have not yet woven the ends in on):

This weekend we're planning to enjoy some much-needed nice weather and will likely watch some of the marathon runners on Sunday morning. I hope you have some sunshine in the forecast, too!

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Unraveled, Week 18/2023

First, thank you for all the congratulations on my new nephew! He's absolutely adorable (no, we're not biased at all), and my sister-in-law seems to have had a fairly easy delivery. They expect to be going home today, and I think everyone is anxious to see what the dog thinks of his new brother.

It's Wednesday, which means it's time for my weekly Unraveled post. There's no link-up this week, as Kat is off enjoying vacation, but that won't stop me from posting, even if for my own accountability. It's been an extremely busy work week, to the point where I didn't even get to shower yesterday until almost 6 p.m., so there hasn't been a whole lot of progress on either knitting or reading. Though I'm focusing mainly on my sister-in-law's Mother's Day socks, yesterday I decided to cast on a new project. I didn't think that my nephew would need any woolly handknits right after he was born (who would have predicted we'd be seeing snow in May?), but seeing as he's arrived in the middle of a cold snap, I though I could whip up a quick hat for him.

The hat is Go Big or Go Gnome, a pattern I already had in my library because my brother has a thing for gnomes. I was able to pull some fingering scraps from my bag 'o scraps in appropriate colors, and I should be able to finish it today (I just have another round or two to knit before I start the crown decreases). It'll need a good blocking and chances are he'll outgrow it pretty quickly, but I figured it would be useful for a week or two and then my brother and sister-in-law can put it away to remember how small he was.

The socks have grown thanks to a round or two here and there during the day; thankfully my sister-in-law has pretty small feet.

I've only been able to finish one book this week thanks to all the work stuff, though I'm getting closer to finishing two others. Over the weekend, I listened to Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy; it seemed like the next logical thing to read after listening to Ann Patchett's memoir of her friendship with the author. I didn't enjoy this as much (there is an awful lot of detail about how sick she got from chemotherapy, which in turn made me feel a bit ill), but if you don't mind that sort of thing, I think it's a worthwhile read if only for the perspective of what it's like to be a child who is so ill and yet doesn't fully understand their condition. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm hoping that work calms down a bit and I can get back to my reading, because a few minutes before bed is really not cutting it -- and the reading I've been doing during the day for work is just not bringing me any joy.

I hope your Wednesday is off to a good start! What are you making and reading this week?