Friday, June 30, 2023

Wrapping It Up

It's the end of the week and the end of the month, and it's been a strange couple of days here. We've had a lot of smoke come into the area from the Canadian wildfires, so our air quality has been horrible here -- code purple, which is one step above code red. It's given me a good idea of what it must've been like to live here at the height of the steel era. When I got up yesterday morning, I could not see to the end of our (pretty short) street due to the combination of smoke and fog. Here are some images captured by a local photographer I follow to give you a sense:

Things are supposed to improve a lot today, thankfully; I haven't been outside to exercise in two days, and I miss being outdoors!

I'm taking today off from work, using the second of my two personal days per year that expire today, and I have plans to take advantage of having the day to myself. I hope to run today, and then Mo and I have some things to do. We've got a bunch of clothes to box up and send off to ThredUP. We may do some baking for tonight's dessert. And on top of my list is taking final photos of these socks so I can publish the pattern (I got it back from my tech editor earlier this week, so all that's left to do is the final photos):

I'm obviously not going to finish the entire project before the end of the month, but it's possible I could finish (or get close to finishing) the singles of my combo spin.

I finished up the second bobbin (the purple one) yesterday and started on the third. Only three of the four balls of the final colorway are shown here because I'm nearly finished with the one that's missing. I've really been focused on this project this week because I'm really anxious/excited to see what the final yarn will look like, but I know I still have a lot of spinning -- and a lot of treadling! -- ahead of me. I'm also excited to spin something that isn't green!

We've got a pretty low-key weekend ahead, and our only plans for the 4th of July are going over to my brother- and sister-in-law's place for a BBQ. I'm hoping the weekend brings clearer air and lots of crafting time. I hope whatever you have planned is enjoyable!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Unraveled, Week 26/2023

I am getting this post up a little early this morning because I actually have to go into the office for a meeting at 9 (when the new big boss wants to meet in person, you go in) and work on the road I normally walk along to get there means I have to take a detour, so I figured I'd make things easier for myself by getting a head start on typing. I have no idea if Kat is hosting a link-up this week for Unraveled Wednesday, as she'd said she was going to take a little blog vacation, but I'm still checking in on crafting and reading here!

I have been very focused on spinning the past week and have finished the first bobbin of singles for my three-colorway combo spin:

and have started on the second (this is Woodland Stream):

Apologies for the bad photo; we have a combination of fog and smoke here today.

I am spinning my default singles, which means that the finished three-ply yarn should be in the range of fingering weight. Obviously for a fairly fine finished yarn, that means the singles are even finer, so this is somewhat slow spinning. I'm trying to finish this project as quickly as possible, but we're also headed into a spinning-heavy time of year -- that would be Tour de Fleece, which coincides with the Tour de France and begins July 1 -- so I anticipate that it very well could be a finished yarn by this time next week. We'll see!

I've also made some progress on my current sock WIP, as it came with me to dinners all weekend:

These socks were originally intended to be for my mother, but after seeing the full stripe sequence, I don't think they're her colors, so now Mo will be getting them. I have plenty of other options for my mom in the stash.

It has been an excellent week of reading, with three great finishes!

Happiness Falls is a book that is impossible to classify when it comes to genre. It's a mystery. It's a family drama. It's a pandemic novel. It's a work of philosophy. It's a political book about disability and society. It's a study of identity. It's an examination of nature vs. nurture. It's a work of cross-cultural and social commentary. Regardless of how you describe it, it's a compelling and well-written read. It's a book that I couldn't put down once I got started. It's a book that made me laugh and cry. It's a smart and emotional story of a family dealing with the mysterious disappearance of their father in the middle of the pandemic and the revelation that their nonverbal son and brother may be capable of more than they realized. The characters are three-dimensional and complex, people you will come to care about and root for. More than anything, this book tells the story of the love between members of a family. I gave it 5 stars -- highly recommend!

I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley and Random House in return for an honest review. The book is due to be published in August, and if you're quick, you can enter the Goodreads giveaway for a hard copy (just click on the link to the book above and look under the cover image for a link to the giveaway).

If you've read Jesmyn Ward's novels, then you know how her writing is simultaneously gorgeous and devastating. She has previously written about how this country has failed people of color in more recent times, but in her newest work, she goes back to one of the ugliest eras of its history. In Let Us Descend, she takes us back to the South before the Civil War and gives the reader an unflinching portrait of life as an enslaved person. In her portrait of Annis, a young enslaved woman, Ward shows the suffering but also the humanity and gives the reader an idea of how it was possible for so many to continue to willingly live each day and find some hope for the future even as they were starved, beaten, and worked to death. I gave it 5 stars, and I do recommend it, though be aware that it's a hard read for many reasons.

I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley and Scribner in return for an honest review. This book is expected to be published in October.

It had been a while since I last listened to a Maisie Dobbs mystery, in part because the audiobooks disappeared from Hoopla for a while, but they're back now, so I listed to the 15th in the series, The American Agent, over the course of a few days. This one had everything I love about the series -- a case that kept me guessing interspersed with scenes from Maisie's personal life -- set against the backdrop of the London Blitz. Things are starting to come together, and knowing that there are only two more books in the series that I have still to read, I have a general idea of where things may be going. This was a great listen while I was running -- 4 stars.

I'm currently reading Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior, which wasn't originally on our schedule for the Kingsolver-along, but so many of us were picking it up right now that we've decided to make it our next book to discuss. I'm about a third of the way through it and am enjoying it -- particularly the part I recently read about shearing and skirting the fleeces of a flock of Icelandic sheep!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Embrace in 2023: June

I feel like we missed a week somewhere along the way this month as I woke up this morning to find it's the last week of June. I know these summer months always go too fast! As it's the last Monday of the month, that means it's time to check in with my One Little Word. Thank you, as always, to Carolyn for hosting our monthly OLW link-ups!

At the end of last week, I was a bit worried about what I was going to post about this morning, because I wasn't sure I'd embraced anything this month. But in reflecting about it over the weekend, I realize I totally have -- it's just been less obvious.

Despite the feeling that June has flown by, this month has really been a lot about slowing down. Mo wrapped up her school year and has been home with me every day, which means that my daily schedule now has more time in it. I'm still keeping to my usual schedule, but without having to get her out of bed and out the door on time, my mornings feel more relaxed. Likewise I'm not running out the door at 3 every afternoon to brave the traffic in car line. There are no lunches to pack, no homework assignments to check over, and no teachers to email. And of course I have more time with my daughter during the day, which is always welcome. So I guess this month Embrace has been about reclaiming some time for myself and with my kid, both things I am very happy about.

And if we want to get really literal, I did a lot of embracing this weekend of friends and family who came to celebrate the naming of this little guy:

Yesterday he received his Hebrew name, Chaim Mazal, in honor of his great-grandfathers, Herman and Fortunato. Chaim (which translates to Life) was my grandfather's Hebrew name, and Mazal translates to Luck, which seems like a good Hebrew equivalent of his Italian great-grandfather's name.

How has your One Little Word appeared in your life this month?

Friday, June 23, 2023

The End of a Long Short Week

It feels like it's been a very long week, even though technically it was a short work week thanks to having Monday off. But there's been a lot of stuff going on -- extra meetings, two trips to the orthodontist (one scheduled, one not), and general changes to the schedule -- that have made it stretch out. But it's finally Friday, and I'm looking forward to wrapping up the week and putting it behind me.

I did indeed finish the brioche cowl, though I still need to weave in my ends and block it, which I hope to do later today.

I'm absolutely delighted with how it turned out (though I'm generally happy with anything in a rainbow). This version is a bit shorter than the original, which used six mini skeins rather than five, but it's still plenty tall enough to keep my neck warm -- and I do mean my neck, because Mo <del>stole</del> was given the original sample, so I'm keeping this one. Once the finishing is done, I just need to take some new pattern photos, make some minor edits to the pattern, and send it off to Knit Picks.

Mo is working to finish up a blanket for her newest cousin, so we haven't gotten back to our shawl knitalong. Rather than starting another knitting project, I decided to start spinning something new. I thought I'd turbo-charge my stash spin-down by doing a combo spin of three past Southern Cross Fibre club shipments:

I pulled out three colorways that looked similar, and I'm spinning each one onto its own bobbin and will then ply them all together. What you see here are three colorways from three years -- left to right, Woodland Stream (September 2022) on Falkland, Rainforest (January 2023) on Bond, and Gran Cenote (August 2021) on Falkland. Falkland is technically a merino, but it's a bit toothier than the merino you're probably used to and feels very similar to Bond, so I think these three will play nicely together. I've started with Gran Cenote and have spun almost a quarter of it; I split the fiber lengthwise into four long strips, just to break the colors up a bit, and I'll do the same thing with the other two colorways. I don't expect this to be a fast spin because it looks like it'll be a three-ply fingering, but that is my default yarn, so I'm hoping I can get it done while reading or watching something without too much thought.

This weekend we'll be celebrating my newest nephew's (ceremonial) bris and baby naming, and my aunt and uncle are coming in from Michigan to meet him. The ceremony is on Sunday morning, but we'll be having multiple family dinners and lots of extended family time -- good times for the soul! I hope you have some good things planned for the weekend ahead!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Unraveled, Week 25/2023

Happy Wednesday and happy Summer Solstice! Today is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, so I'm making sure I drink every last drop of my coffee. It's also time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers! Let's start things off with a finished skein of handspun:

You saw this yarn as singles on Monday, and I took literally all afternoon to ply it; I was hoping to finish it earlier in the day so I could leave it outside to dry in the heat, but it took so long to ply and then skein it up that I wasn't able to wash it until after dinner. On the plus side, there's a lot of yardage! The finished yarn is in the fingering/sport range and about 440 yards.

This was another fractal spin, which means I split the fiber in half lengthwise, then split one half in half again. There's not quite as much barberpoling as there would be had I split up the second half into more pieces, but I'm quite happy with it. This spin was particularly special because I inspired it, in a way. Periodically, David of Southern Cross Fibre asks members of his Ravelry group to post photos for color inspiration and then selects several of them to inspire new colorways. This particular colorway, Hens and Chicks, was inspired by this photo that I shared:

I've now spun 13 club shipments so far this year, and I've pulled out three more to do a combo spin for my next project.

I'm still working on my brioche cowl and hope that I'll have it finished to share on Friday. But let's turn to reading, shall we?

I've finished three more books since last week, including a Big Read.

I didn't want to be too far behind Katie, so put in extra time to make sure I could finish Doctor Zhivago over the weekend. I adored the movie version when I saw it years ago, and reading The Secrets We Kept several years ago piqued my interest in reading the book. I had high expectations, and I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. I did buy the cheapest ebook version available, though in conferring with Katie, I'm not sure it's to blame for the abrupt shifts in time between one paragraph to the next. Overall, I did not get the romantic story I was expecting, and instead I found I thought Zhivago was kind of a jerk who took advantage of one woman after another. There were moments of beautiful writing, so it wasn't entirely a waste of time, but I didn't love it. I gave it 3 stars.

I was in need of an audiobook late last week, so I went back to Ann Patchett's backlist and borrowed the last of her novels that I had yet to read. Taft, despite its name, is really about John Nickel, a bar manager missing his young son, who has recently moved away with his ex. The titular character is the deceased father of the bar's newest waitress and her troubled brother. As is typical of Patchett's books, the characters are vividly drawn and the writing is good, but the story was strange and I didn't quite see the point. Also, I think it's inexcusable that the narrator mispronounced the author's name THREE TIMES (as "Pratchett") in the recording and the publisher didn't fix it. I gave it 3 stars.

Thankfully after two so-so reads, I had a real winner. Pigs in Heaven was technically a reread for me; I read it for English class in eighth grade, though I remembered only the general outline of the plot. I also suspect that reading it as a mother myself was an entirely different experience compared to reading it as a teenager. A sequel to The Bean Trees, this book follows Taylor and Turtle as their unusual story comes to the attention of the Cherokee Nation. The novel addresses the Indian Child Welfare Act, the importance of heritage and community, and what makes a family. The characters are quirky but lovable, and the writing is superb. I really loved this reread and gave the book 5 stars.

I'm now fully immersed in an advanced reader's copy of Happiness Falls, which Bonny spoke about so highly of during our last Read With Us Zoom that I immediately requested a copy. I only started it yesterday afternoon and am already nearly halfway through, and I'm hoping work cooperates enough today to allow me to get lost in it again.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, June 19, 2023

In Recovery Mode

Good morning and happy Juneteenth! Although I have the day off today for the holiday, I still got up at the usual time and am enjoying being able to leisurely drink my coffee.

Although at the time I requested Friday off, I didn't remember that I also had today off, it turned out to be a good time for an extra-long long weekend. We had an amazing time at the concert, but it was a very long day -- we didn't get home until after midnight, and I had gotten up to my normal alarm and gone for a run that morning, so I was pooped! Mo told me that it was the best day of her life and kept asking me during the concert if it was real or if she was dreaming, and she had a sore throat still yesterday from all the screaming she did.

You can see a bit of her outfit here -- she hot-glued a ton of faux gems to a black t-shirt in the style of Taylor's "Bejeweled" video outfit. As concert outfits go, hers was pretty sedate. There was a lot of glitter to be seen (I shudder at the thought of all the pollution from it), and plenty of women and girls who weren't wearing much at all. I went for comfort; my one nod to Taylor Swift was my t-shirt, which read "You Need to Calm Down." My favorite shirt was on the dad sitting in the row behind us, which read "I survived the Taylor Swift Ticketmaster 2K Challenge" and had the "There are 2,000+ people ahead of you" graphic from the Ticketmaster website.

For those of you who were wondering, yes, I did take knitting with me (though I only knit during the wait before the show and the opening acts):

I cast on a new pair of socks to take with me, as I didn't have anything on the needles that was small and easy enough for mobile knitting. These were intended to be fore my mother, though I'm not convinced that these are her colors and might change my plan:

Much of my weekend crafting time has been spent at my wheel (with occasional cat naps), and today I'm ready to ply these singles:

Mo and I are also planning to spend some time on our shawls today, and I'm hoping we can spend an hour or so doing that -- the more time she works on it, the sooner she'll get the hang of it. But for now she's still sleeping, and I'm letting her sleep as long as she needs to in the hopes that her internal clock will get back to normal.

(Side note: I didn't plan it at all, but did you notice that there are two colors that are prominent in all of the photos in this post?)

I hope your holiday Monday is a restful one!

Friday, June 16, 2023

Dispatches from Swiftsburgh

Happy Friday, friends! It's been a long week, and it's going to be a long day, but on the plus side, I don't have to work today. I'm taking one of my two annual personal days (because if I don't use them, they disappear at the end of the fiscal year, which is the end of June). Of course, just my luck, we got an email late yesterday that the office would be closing at 2 this afternoon ahead of the long weekend -- the university is closed on Monday for Juneteenth. This is reminding me of the one time in my employment when the university closed due to snow and I was already on maternity leave!

In any case, I am ready for the long weekend, which is shaping up to be a busy one here. Tonight and tomorrow night, Taylor Swift is performing downtown, and in addition to the city's issuing a proclamation renaming us "Swiftsburgh" today, there is quite a lot of hype. Whether or not you're a Taylor Swift fan, there's no denying the economic impact her tour stop will have on the city -- the estimate I heard was that it was anticipated to bring in $12 million. The Swiftie in my household is very excited to attend her first official concert this evening, and I'm just hoping to be able to stay awake! I think a nap this afternoon will be in order.

Yesterday I realized that we were almost halfway through June and I hadn't had something on the wheel in almost two weeks, which is not acceptable to me if I'm going to continue to use up my fiber stash. So I pulled out this Southern Cross Fibre club shipment from last July, Hens and Chicks on Bond wool, which happened to be inspired by a photo I posted in the SCF Ravelry group:

I split it for a fractal two-ply (lately my favorite thing to do) by dividing it in half lengthwise and then dividing one half in half again. I started the first bobbin and took some progress shots along the way of the different colors, and I put them in a composite:

Meanwhile, after finishing my mother-in-law's socks, I started two other projects. First, I'm knitting up another sample of my Obfuscation cowl using a set of mini skeins from Knit Picks that I'm knitting in rainbow order:

And Mo and I have started a little knitalong together, our very first! We're knitting the Mas Vida Shawl, which is a bit of a stretch for her knitting skills, so we are doing it row by row together (and I did the start for her, which involved Judy's Magic Cast-on and was very fiddly). This is an excellent visual example of how individual gauge can be -- we're both using the same weight of yarn and the same needle size, but obviously one of us is a lot more relaxed:

Mo's shawl (on the left) is being knit with yarn from Ex Libris Fibers that she bought last month. I'm using some deep-stash yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Harmonia, a superwash merino/cashmere/silk base that Lisa doesn't dye anymore. I don't know exactly how old this yarn is, but it still had her old label design, so it's several years old at least.

Finally, some happy news -- look what arrived in yesterday's mail!

I didn't pay for tracking on the broken pair I sent back to Skacel, so I didn't have any way to know if it had been received until this replacement came. Three cheers for great customer service!

I hope your weekend is full of good things. I'll be back on Monday to report on the concert!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Unraveled, Week 24/2023

Good morning and happy Wednesday, friends! Later today, the winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction will be announced, and I plan to watch it live. The photo above is my stack of paper copies of the books I read from this year's nominees (there were two other titles I read on Kindle). I didn't set out to read the entire longlist, but I did read all the finalists plus more and really enjoyed my time reading from the selections.

But before we get into reading, it's Wednesdays, which means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers!

I am very happy to share that I finished my mother-in-law's socks yesterday:

I used my SHaGS pattern (Ravelry link), turning them into shortie socks by knitting a 1x1 ribbed cuff and then going straight into the heel. I did try to match up the stripes and very nearly succeeded, but slight variations in either the yarn, my gauge, or both made them ever so slightly different. I don't think the recipient will mind, though! Her birthday is Saturday, so I have plenty of time to block these and wrap them up.

Now, on to the reading. It's been good this past week! I've finished three books since we last checked in.

The final book I read from the Women's Prize nominees was Wandering Souls. It did not make the shortlist, but in my opinion, it should have. This book follows the journey of three Vietnamese siblings who must find their way in life after the rest of their family is tragically killed on a boat that was bringing them to meet the three children. Teenager Anh has to take on the duties of parent to her two younger brothers and navigate the uncertain world of being a refugee in Margaret Thatcher's England. The story of the three siblings is interspersed with chapters from the perspective of the ghost of their younger brother and with reflections from an unnamed narrator in more recent years looking back on her family's history. It's a really beautiful book that highlights the challenges of being an immigrant, the sacrifices we make for family, and the kindness of others. I gave it 4 stars.

I was in need of an audiobook late last week, so I returned to Ann Patchett's backlist and read Run, which takes place over the course of 24 hours but looks back in time to examine what it means to be a family. I would say that this isn't among Patchett's best books, but her writing is still stellar, particularly her characters. The people in this book are so real, even when details in the story don't seem as realistic. (Also, as a side note, how is it that with all of today's technology, they can't managed to edit out the out-of-place music that indicated it was time to change the CD on the digital version?) I gave this one 3 stars.

Finally, after a long wait from the library, I finally got I Have Some Questions for You -- and I could not put it down. I know some of you read this and didn't care for it, but I absolutely loved it. In many ways, it felt like experiencing the first season of Serial again, and I'm sure there will be some people who feel that Makkai simply changed some details of that case to create her story. I can't put my finger on what, exactly, so appealed to me, especially because she's packed so much into this novel -- a (fictional) true crime story, a MeToo story, a reflection on the main character's time in high school and her evolving sense of self, a campus novel. I think this is one you either really like or really don't like. If you liked Serial, you'll probably like this one. I gave it 5 stars.

I started rereading Pigs in Heaven last night, though it may as well be my first read because I was about Mo's age the last time I read it and I doubt I'll remember much, if anything. I also have two ARCs from NetGalley sitting on my Kindle shelf -- Let Us Descend and Happiness Falls -- that I'm looking forward to digging into, but I think I will try to finish Doctor Zhivago first.

What's on tap for you this week? What do you think will win the Women's Prize?

Monday, June 12, 2023

Monday, Monday

Good morning from a very rainy Pittsburgh! After 21 days without measurable rain (the ninth longest dry stretch in history, according to the meteorologists), we finally had some come through late yesterday, and it looks like it will be wet here for most of the day. It has been so dry here that I don't mind the gloom or that I'll either have to put off my run by a day or get wet.

We had a pretty relaxing weekend here. We had a bar mitzvah to go to on Saturday morning and then walked up to a restaurant in our neighborhood for dinner, so I only did a bit of knitting for Worldwide Knit in Public Day (but then I knit in public all the time, so it's not such a big deal for me). And yesterday we got together with some friends at their parents' pool for a couple of hours before the rain moved in. Thanks to all that knitting time, I am more than halfway done with my mother-in-law's socks:

It's hard to see, but I've already started the heel on the second sock. Shortie socks are so good for instant gratification! I did wind off some yarn so I could start the second sock in the same place in the striping sequence, so I hope the two socks will more or less match.

Today should be a pretty typical Monday for me, aside from the rain. I do have a long weekend ahead of me, though: I'm taking a day off on Friday (one of my two annual personal days before it disappears at the end of the month) ahead of the Taylor Swift concert that evening, and then my office is closed next Monday for Juneteenth. At some point before Friday I have to do my annual self-appraisal for work, which is positively my least favorite thing to do -- I literally do the same thing, day in, day out, so I really don't have anything original to say each year; I always joke that one day I'm just going to write, "I found the mistakes and I fixed them."

Hope your Monday is a good one!

Friday, June 09, 2023

A Friday FO

Let's get the weekend started early with a new sweater!

Pattern: Shoulder Season by Shana Cohen, 36" bust
Yarn: Stranded Dyeworks merino/nylon, colorway Four Two Two Four, 1.89 skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: April 24/June 8

This sweater was knit as part of the SSK knitalong. Shana was the featured designer for April, and even though I knew I would never finish the sweater that month, I also knew I'd still get credit for it if I finished it in June. And I'd been wanting to knit this design for a while, so it was a win all around.

This is a modular knit and can be done with a contrasting color for the shoulders, but I decided to do it all in one color. The colorway of the yarn is a reference to the distance between where Jude (the dyer behind Stranded Dyeworks) lives and Nashville, where SSK is held, so it felt very appropriate to the project. I did alternate skeins for most of the knitting, but there are a few spots where I did not, and I honestly don't think you can tell. The design itself is absolutely genius -- you can tell that Shana is an architect by how she puts garments together! My favorite feature is the column of slipped stitches on each side and how it gradually angles toward the front.

That vertical line is just where the sweater was folded while drying

My only modification, if you can even call it that, is to work a couple of set-up rounds before the tubular bind-offs for all the ribbing. I don't know if those rounds are strictly necessary, but I like the effect you get from essentially creating a tube at the edge of your fabric. And the bind-off is quite time intensive, but in my view, it's totally worth it.

As predicted, the sweater grew quite a bit in blocking, and whereas fresh off the needles it was cropped, it's now hitting right at my hips, as I wanted. I can wear this over a tank or on its own, and I predict it'll get a lot of wear this summer. I'll be taking it to show off at SSK of course!

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Unraveled, Week 23/2023

Isn't that a nice correlation of the week and the year? I'm not sure why, but I'm always a bit pleased when numbers match up like that. Anyway, happy Wednesday, friends -- or, as it's now known in our house, the first day of summer vacation! Mo officially wrapped up seventh grade yesterday and spent the day out with friends having far too much fun (they had lunch out AND got manicures AND got ice cream). Meanwhile, I was working at home, or trying to when the internet went out for a bit, and then tripped over a dying squirrel when I came back from my walk. Yes, you read that right: A dying squirrel was lying on the ground just inside our back gate, and I didn't see it as I was coming through the gate as I was stopping my walking/running app and tripped right over it. I'm honestly not sure who was more frightened! I called animal control to come take him away, just in case he was ill with something he could have passed on to me, and that was not the kind of excitement I was looking for yesterday!

Today I won't have to worry about getting Mo to and from school, but I do have to go into the office later this morning for an all-hands staff meeting with the new big boss, so my schedule's a bit topsy-turvy. I went for my run right after I got up this morning, so I had breakfast late (and was still drinking my coffee at 9 when I had my daily team meeting), and I'm only now getting around to posting now before I have to leave to go to the office.At least once I'm home, I'll have company and won't have to go anywhere.

But enough about what's happening here -- it's Wednesday, so it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers with an update on my making and reading. I have made a lot of progress on my Shoulder Season thanks to being pretty monogamous this week!

I spent much of yesterday working on the tubular bind-off on the body, a very long process but so very worth it. All that remains to be done on this sweater is the collar (in progress right now) and the ribbing at the sleeves. They also have tubular bind-offs but with fewer stitches. I'm fairly confident this will be an FO by the end of the week.

I know it looks very cropped now, but with all the garter stitch on the back and the alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette on the front, this is a very stretchy garment and I expect to be able to block it out longer.

I have finished two more books this week and officially finished my Women's Prize shortlist reading.

In my continued exploration of Ann Patchett's backlist, I listened to State of Wonder, which was unusually suited to last week's heat wave here because it's set mostly in the Amazon jungle. I really enjoyed this book, in spite of the implausibility of some of the plot points and the tidy resolution, because the writing is just beautiful. I'm still thinking about how Patchett describes a storm as making it seem like the ground was boiling as the giant raindrops hit the dirt. My main complaint about this book was that the reader kept pronouncing the main character's name as Morena ("more-RAY-nuh"), so I was shocked to discover her name is actually Marina. (She also pronounced Eurydice as if it was Italian -- "your-RID-ih-chee.") I gave it 4 stars.

My final book for the shortlist was Pod, which is truly unlike any book I've ever read in that all the characters are sea creatures -- dolphins, whales, and several types of fish. I found it a little off-putting that these creatures are sometimes referred to as people, and I really didn't feel pulled into the book until the very end, but I am not sorry I read it. I did feel that more of the terms could have been explained (this book would have benefited from a glossary!), but overall I think it made a compelling case for acting to combat climate change in devastating portrait it painted of what global warming is doing to our oceans. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm still reading Doctor Zhivago, which I'm about halfway through, and I've started the final book I'll read from the Women's Prize longlist, Wandering Souls, which I wanted to read even though it didn't make the shortlist because it got such glowing reviews from friends who have read it.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, June 05, 2023

Feeling Refreshed

Usually Monday mornings aren't cause for celebration (at least not in my opinion), but this morning I woke up to much cooler temperatures, and that break in the heat is very much welcome. We unfortunately did not get rain over the weekend -- it rained for a few minutes Saturday afternoon, but you could hardly tell because of the heat -- so it's still very dry out there, but at least it's not 90F or higher. Today is also Mo's last full day of school for the year, so my schedule is about to get a lot more relaxed!

We had some really amazing weather yesterday for the baseball game. We were pretty much in the very last row of the stadium -- but look at this view!

We even had a little overhang above us, and because we were facing east, the sun was pretty quickly behind us so we didn't get too warm. And the Pirates won! It's been many, many years since the Pirates were any good (I'm talking since the early '90s, when I was in elementary school), so it was pretty exciting to be there to actually watch the baseball.

Even though my Shoulder Season is small and light by sweater standards, it was still too big to take with me to work on during the game, so I was forced to cast on a new project:

I had a short skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in some very bright, happy colorways in my stash, so I decided to cast on a pair of ankle socks for my mother-in-law. Her birthday is this month, and she's also had some health issues recently, so I thought these colors would cheer her up. I'm using my SHaGS (Ravelry link) pattern, but I did a tubular cast-on a 1x1 ribbed cuff before going right into the heel.

I will spare you a photo of my Shoulder Season because it really looks just like it did on Friday, only a little longer. I've got about 15 rounds to knit before I get to the bottom hem, and I think that's very doable today, as long as work isn't too busy. If not, I have a two-hour professional development workshop tomorrow morning that should be perfect for getting some knitting done.

I hope your Monday is off to a good start. Just for the fun of it, here's my favorite part of any Pittsburgh Pirates game -- the Great Pittsburgh Pierogy Race n'at!

Friday, June 02, 2023

It's Friday -- Right?!

Has anyone else been really confused all week about what day it is? Having Monday off really threw me for a loop, as much as I enjoyed it. We even forgot to put out the trash -- a combination of uncertainty about what day it was and the fact that trash collection was pushed back a day because of the holiday -- so if you were in my neighborhood yesterday morning, you might have seen me running after the garbage truck with my trash can in my pajamas!

The start of meteorological summer has brought with it decidedly summer-like temperatures. We're supposed to hit 90 today, which is making me really happy that we recently replaced our AC units. We haven't had rain in quite a while, either, which means Mo and I have been doing a lot of watering in the afternoons to make sure our newly planted stuff doesn't die.

I've been fairly monogamous of late with my knitting and have been working diligently on my Shoulder Season. As a result, I'm a little more than halfway through the body.

I have now pretty much memorized the six-round pattern repeat and can tell where I am by looking, which has made things a lot faster. I did have a slight hiccup yesterday when, while investigating why my stitches were getting caught up when I was trying to move them along the needle, I discovered this:

Please excuse my messy cuticles!

I've had some less-expensive needles fail on me before, but never before have I had an Addi do this! Fortunately these needles come with a lifetime guarantee, and though the usual procedure is to return a pair of defective needles to the point of purchase, in my case that store is no longer in business, so I'll be sending this pair back to Skacel. (Here's information on their warranty, if it's helpful to you.)

This morning I'm headed back for another mammogram. I have to take back pretty much everything I said about going in on a Saturday, as it seems the speed of the appointment is the only good thing about it. I should have guessed I'd have to come back when the woman doing my scans was complaining that my ribs were getting in the way. The results were basically inconclusive (which I can only suppose means they just weren't good enough to read), so I have a do-over appointment today. The radiologist will actually read the scans while I wait this morning, and if I need additional images to be taken, they'll do them right away. That means I might end up waiting longer, but at least I'll have my results right away. And I'll take a book so I can at least get some reading done while I wait. [Edit: All was fine! Seems the issue that caused them to call me back was from folds of healthy tissue.]

The hot weather is sticking around this weekend, which should make for a warm day at PNC Park on Sunday, when we're going to a Pirates game as part of a fundraiser for Mo's school. I think it's been at least a decade since I've been to one, so while I imagine we'll be sweaty and stinky when we leave, it should be fun!

I hope you have a fun (and not too hot) weekend ahead!