Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Unraveled, Week 35/2023

It's that time again -- time to check in with Kat and the Unravelers! But first, thank you for all those good wishes for Mo for the new school year. We had a nice low-key day at home (the highlights were a trip to Target and baking zucchini bread) on Monday, and her first day seemed to go well. Of course, not all that much was done on the first day of school, but it was at least a return to the usual schedule. And it made the house very quiet for me!

Most of my crafting time recently has been devoted to spinning, including finishing the latest skein on Friday. It turns out that the reason it took me so long to ply is because there was a lot of yarn in this skein (a shocking revelation, I know!). I half expected it to poof up when I washed it and to shrink a lot, but it didn't, and my finished skein has approximately 448 yards of three-ply light fingering.

This bag of fiber was number 22 of my Southern Cross Fibre backlog, so my re-upped goal of 24 is well within reach and could easily be accomplished before the end of this quarter. I've already started the next spin, a two-ply fractal of this Bond in the colorway Thank You for the Music:

Naturally, I've had ABBA in my head every time I sit down to spin!

I've also made some slow but steady progress on the socks, finishing up the first one and starting the second over the weekend. I am able to knit on these while reading for work on the computer, so I'm getting in at least a handful of rounds a day.

As for reading this past week, I definitely took advantage of the extra day off to get some extra reading time in and as a result have finished three more books.

The first one is not terribly exciting because I wouldn't necessarily classify it as reading for pleasure. I'd heard Lisa Damour on a podcast earlier in the year talking about teens and their emotions, so I bought her most recent book, The Emotional Lives of Teenagers, on Kindle and finally got around to reading it this week. This book was informative and easy to read, and it gave me some good pointers for dealing with my emotional teenager (especially because it's been a long time since I was one myself). It doesn't contain anything that's particular earth-shattering in its revelations, but I think it was worth reading and the amount of time I spent with it (which truly was not much). I gave it 3 stars.

Next up was Pearl, my third book read from the Booker Prize Longlist. This is a strange little book that reads like a memoir but is a novel; the main character is a woman whose mother disappeared when she was 8 and her brother was a newborn, and the trauma from that loss echoes throughout her life. She struggles with mental illness, an eating disorder, and generally understanding what happened for years until she becomes a mother herself and finally comes to some realizations that bring her a sense of closure. There are some moments when I thought this book was going off the rails, but it comes together beautifully at the end. I gave it 4 stars.

Finally, as I got to the end of last week and found myself in need of an audiobook, I decided to listen to the next selection in the Kingsolver-along, Prodigal Summer, even though I have a hard copy of the book. Although I had issues with the volume at times, the audio is read by the author, and it was great to hear this Appalachian story in her voice/accent. There are three stories/main characters in this book that eventually come together, and there's an overwhelming message of nature conservation, one that's fairly remarkable given that this book was written back in 2000, long before the urgency surrounding climate change. There's a lot to talk about in this book, but oh, the writing! I know there are readers who find Barbara Kingsolver to be very preachy, and she is, but the woman knows how to write a sentence! I gave this one 4 stars, and I'd definitely read it again with my eyes.

I'm currently reading another Booker selection, Study for Obedience, though I've only read a small number of pages, and a book by one of the speakers in the upcoming author series I subscribe to, An Immense World. I am hoping that work settles a bit this week and gives me some more reading time.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, August 28, 2023

Embrace in 2023: August

I suspect I'm not the only one who looked at a calendar this morning and realized that this is the last Monday of August. I swear this month just started! But with school starting for Mo tomorrow and the High Holidays coming up soon, I suppose I should not be shocked. Because it is the last Monday of the month, that means it's time to check in with my One Little Word and join the link-up hosted by Carolyn.

It's been a very busy month, so at first I didn't feel like I had much time to embrace much of anything. But then I changed my perspective and realized that what I fully embraced this month were my responsibilities. There were the usual things I needed to do for work and some weekend commitments, but my synagogue board responsibilities also ramped up quite a bit this month. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but in addition to serving on the board and the executive committee, I'm also serving on the committee conducting the search for our next rabbi. We are hoping to get the job posting up before the High Holidays, which are soon, so that meant a lot of work. I had several work sessions with two other members of the committee that required us to synthesize and summarize a large amount of information gathered from members of the congregation and put it into succinct answers to eight questions. There have been extra meetings related to this committee as well. And the Mister has been traveling for work, so that has meant single-parenting (though in all honesty, that's a lot easier than it used to be).

In the past, all this activity might have made me very stressed out, but I've noticed that I've handled it quite well. I won't say it hasn't been exhausting, but something about knowing that there was a limit to the busy-ness helped me keep things in perspective. I think continuing to work from home full time has also been a huge help because it's granted me much more flexibility. Last week, for instance, I had a project for work that was a rush and had to get done ASAP, so I brought my work laptop down to the kitchen and finished it up while dinner was getting ready in the oven, allowing me to keep working even though the workday was technically over and letting me cross that item off my list that day so I didn't worry about it overnight. The real test, of course, will start tomorrow, when we're back to the school year schedule, but I'm feeling good about things at the moment, especially knowing that the month ahead includes a number of celebrations.

How has your One Little Word treated you this month?

Friday, August 25, 2023

Ready for a Long Weekend

Happy Friday, friends! It's been a week, hasn't it? I've had plans in the evening three of the past four days, so even though the days haven't been too stressful, it's been an exhausting several days. Fortunately I have a long weekend to look forward to, because I'm taking Monday off. That's partly because I needed to take a vacation day (I was getting close to the maximum amount of time I can accrue) and partly because it's Mo's last day of summer vacation before she starts eighth grade(!) on Tuesday.

Last night's activity was a conversation and book signing with Celeste Ng put on by my local independent bookstore. It was held at a church down the street from me, very conveniently, and was a great way to spend an evening, even after a long day of work. The last time I went to one of these events, the place was packed and all the books were presigned, so it was nice to have a smaller crowd and to be able to talk to Celeste for a few minutes while she signed my book.

I also learned last night that she was actually born in Pittsburgh and lived here through elementary school before moving to suburban Cleveland, and she shared some memories of her elementary school library (as well as the fact that she learned that the school building was demolished a number of years ago because it was suspected to be haunted and the school board was worried about ghost hunters!).

I got a good amount of sock knitting done at the event, and when I got home, I skeined up the handspun that I finally finished plying yesterday during a long and fairly pointless work meeting. I did not have a chance to wash it yet, so bear in mind that this is not its final state.

This fiber is South African Superfine, which means it's a very fine (read: very soft) merino, so I expect it will poof up a bit and the skein will shrink, but right now it's a light fingering weight. We'll see what happens.

This weekend is looking wide open in terms of plans, which is fine by me. We have loose plans to get together with my in-laws, who have now recovered from COVID, and the Mister is planning to participate in a cycling event that has routes all over the city on Sunday, which means Mo and I will be on our own for much of the day. I'm hoping to sleep in a little and get some extra reading time in, but other than that, I'll just take the weekend as it comes. Hope it's a good one for you!

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Unraveled, Week 34/2023

Wednesday again, already? Yes, it is, which means it's time for my weekly link-up with Kat and the Unravelers!

I have to confess that I actually started this post on Tuesday evening because today is going to be a long day with too many (at least in my opinion) meetings. I have a Zoom meeting with the rabbi search committee at 8, then my regular work team meeting at 9, then an in-person full synagogue board meeting at 6:30 this evening. And it's a running day for me. I predict I will be falling asleep very quickly tonight!

I've been mainly spinning the past couple of days and have three finished bobbins of singles ready to be plied, but I did put in a bit of work on my current pair of socks when we went to the baseball game on Monday night. It was hot and humid, so I actually didn't knit until we'd been there for maybe an hour, and then I proceeded to mess up the start of the heel flap and had to rip it out Tuesday morning. But I'm back on track now and will be working on that flap during my first meeting of the day.

Fortunately, reading has been going very well, and I've finished four books in the past week.

The best of the bunch has to be Ann Patchett's latest novel, Tom Lake. This is technically a pandemic novel, but there's none of the anxiety or uncertainty of the early days in this book. Rather, the pandemic is a device to get all three of the main character's adult daughters to return home to the family's cherry farm in Michigan, and as the four women work to bring in the cherry crop, the mother gradually recounts the story of her brief career as an actress and the time she spent doing a summer stock production of Our Town with (and falling for) an actor who would go on to be world famous. This is a story the daughters think they know, but as we learn along with them, there are surprises along the way. It's a quiet, comforting story that is largely about love, family, and finding home. I gave it 5 stars. And though I read with my eyes this time, I fully plan to reread it with my ears soon!

I was all caught up on my podcasts by the middle of last week, so I went looking for an audiobook to keep me company on my daily workout. Jacqueline Winspear's memoir came up on my radar a while back and I'd had it favorited in Hoopla, so I borrowed it. This Time Next Year We'll Be Laughing deals with her childhood and her parents' lives before, during the war, and it's very clear that she's drawn a lot from all of their lives in the Maisie Dobbs books. There are familiar places and names as well as some stories that were clearly the inspiration for some plot points. The author also reads the book herself, something I always enjoy in an audiobook. It was an easy listen, and I gave it 4 stars.

I finished that audiobook quickly enough that I had time to listen to another, and I got through all of The Anomaly in just two days. This is a fairly recent work (it was published in August 2020), but I had never heard of it until it was mentioned on the What Should I Read Next Podcast, likely because it's a work in translation. To describe this book in any detail would give too much away, so suffice it to say that it's about a handful of people whose only link is that they are all on an Air France flight to New York that gets caught in a wild storm, and in the wake of it, there's a seemingly unexplainable phenomenon that happens. The military, intelligence agencies, scientists, religious leaders, and even philosophers are called in to try to figure out what happened and how to deal with it. It's unusual and very clever, and it was definitely something intriguing to listen to. I gave it 4 stars.

Yesterday I finally got around to reading Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age, which I'd purchased (on Kindle) when it first came out and had been planning to read for a long time, but something else kept coming up. I would also classify this as a pandemic book, but again it's not so much about the pandemic as it is about the author's struggle to find herself in the midst of the pandemic. I didn't love this one like I did Wintering, but I really enjoy May's writing and find it soothing. I also found that her shift in focus to nature and the world around her is very reflective of how I dealt with my anxiety in those early COVID days, and that was reassuring. I think this is worth reading, particularly as it's a very fast read at only a little more than 200 pages, but if you only have time for one of her books, go for Wintering. I gave this one 3 stars.

I'm currently tackling the titles on the Booker Prize longlist, with four hard copies arriving from Blackwell's last week. At the moment, I'm in the middle of Pearl and am enjoying it, though I haven't managed to get through too much in any given sitting because it's been what I've been reading before bed.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, August 21, 2023

It Never Slows Down

Guess who overslept this morning? If that's not a sign of a busy weekend, I'm not sure what is. But I'm on my second cup of coffee now and am getting back on track for what will be another busy week.

We attended a bat mitzvah of a family friend on Saturday, and it was held outside at our JCC's day camp -- a camp I attended as a child and had not been back to since I was a kid. It's amazing how things can be so different from what you remember! Things seemed a lot smaller than they did when I was little, that's for sure! It was a gorgeous day, though, feeling more like fall than August, and now I can say that I've heard several prayers sung to the melody of songs by Taylor Swift and the Backstreet Boys!

Yesterday we were invited over to some family friends' pool to swim and have dinner. I did manage a few sock rounds poolside:

It quickly got too hot in the sun, though, and I had to put the sock aside and get in the pool.

While I didn't get a ton of time at the wheel this weekend, I am working on my Amethyst, and I estimate I'm about halfway done with the singles. To give you a sense of how fine they are, I took this photo with a penny for scale:

I'd love to get this skein spun and plied by the end of the week, but I have a feeling work is going to get busy again, which will limit my spinning time, so we'll see.

Tonight Mo and I are going to the baseball game with my parents -- after not having gone in years, this will be my second game this summer! I'll be taking the sock with me, and I should be able to get a fair amount done (provided it's not too hot to knit, as we're supposed to hit 90ºF today!).

Hope your weekend was good and the week ahead isn't looking too stressful!

Friday, August 18, 2023

A Friday Finish

Happy Friday -- TGIF, am I right? Even though this week hasn't been as busy as last, it's still seemed to have crawled along, and I am ready for a break.

As I hinted on Wednesday, I was able to ply up the latest skein of handspun (thanks in no small part to a work Zoom Wednesday afternoon), so I have finished yarn to share today.

It's possibly a tad overplied, as there are a few curls here and there, but otherwise I am delighted with the finished yarn, particularly with how the colors came together. There's a pretty good distribution of that bright green, just as there was in the fiber.

The finished yarn is most definitely sport weight, which is just fine with me, and I have about 312 yards. And with this skein spun, I'm officially caught up to 2022 in club shipments! This was my 21st bag of Southern Cross Fibre spun this year and my 20th SCF skein spun (the discrepancy is because I used three bags of fiber for a two-skein combo spin). And I already started the next spin -- and this time, I even remembered to take a photo of the fiber first!

This is Amethyst from January 2022. It's on South African Superfine, which feels like kittens. I'm not sure my photo is the best at capturing the colors; what looks more like blue is actually a pale lavender. I'm spinning another three ply with this, having split the fiber in thirds, and I'm trying to make sure that there's a good distribution of the shades of purple in all areas of the skein. This yarn will definitely be fingering, maybe even a light fingering, as the superfine wants to be spun (you guessed it!) superfine.

Tonight we're having dinner at my brother and sister-in-law's house, as my parents will be there all day watching my nephew and my brother decided they should have a break from making dinner. So I made chicken Marsala and will be baking challah today to take over, and as it's also a running day for me, I predict I will be sleeping very well tonight (kneading challah is a surprisingly good upper-body workout!). Tomorrow we are going to a bat mitzvah that will be held outside at our JCC's day camp, which should be a lot of fun, and Sunday we have plans to go swim and have an early dinner with some family friends. I hope there is some quiet time to read in there, because I'm in the middle of Tom Lake and have three Booker titles that arrived from Blackwell's that I want to get to!

Have a great weekend, friends!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Unraveled, Week 33/2023

Good morning, friends! Despite the two cups of coffee I just downed (too quickly, as I can tell from the bit of acid reflux I'm now experiencing), I am still moving slowly this morning and could use a little more sleep, but that will have to wait. It's Wednesday, which means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers for our weekly check-in.

Last Friday morning I found myself without anything to do with my hands for my daily team meeting, so I quickly wound a skein of yarn and cast on a new sock. (I ended up having to rip it out and redo it after the meeting because I apparently can't count, but that's neither here nor there.) These are going to be for my sister-in-law, either for her birthday next month or for Christmas, depending on how quickly I get them done.

The yarn is from Fibernymph Dye Works, but somewhat unusually for me, it's in Lisa's sparkle base. The colorway is called Wheel of the Trees and was a prize for participating in in one of Lisa's yearlong make-alongs. I believe the colors are meant to be reminiscent of the colors that trees/leaves produce throughout the year. I haven't worked on these really since Friday, but I'll be taking them with me tomorrow morning, when Mo has an orthodontist appointment.

My main focus thus far this week has been my spinning, and today I've got three bobbins of singles ready to be plied:

Work has been a bit quieter this week, so I've been able to get in lots of time at my wheel, and I'm hoping that remains the case for the rest of the week.

Reading has been very good this past week, thanks in large part to that big work project getting wrapped up. I finished three books (though one was a reread).

I first read The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida last year when it was up for the Booker Prize (it eventually won), but I wanted to reread it now because it's the next Read With Us selection. I recently found that it was available on audio on Hoopla (where the selection is more limited but anything that is available can be borrowed without a wait), and I thought listening would be a good way to read it this time. I did get a lot out of hearing the different accents and voices, and certainly the narrator did a much better job of pronouncing names and terms than I ever did in my head. (He did mispronounce the name of a very minor Israeli character, but I'll give him a pass for that.) I was just as impressed with this book on a second read as I was on the first, and I think I understood more of the political situation this time around. This should make for a very interesting discussion. I gave it 4 stars.

I had made it about halfway through The Covenant of Water when that big work project hit, and it was a bit difficult to get back into the groove of reading it when I was able to pick it up again. I very much enjoyed that first half, but the second half was a bit disappointing to me --  though I do have to wonder if the big break in the middle and the disruption in my momentum had anything to do with it. I will say that this is a really well written story of several generations of a family and their challenges, but at times the religious overtones got to be a bit much for me. I think if it had ended where I paused, it would have been a 5-star read for me; I think it just went on too long and tried to cover too much. But I did enjoy it and would recommend it, as long as you're not intimidated by the length. I gave it 4 stars.


Finally, I read my second title of the Booker Prize longlist. If I Survive You is a collection of linked short stories. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect that they are at least party autobiographical. These stories deal a lot with difficulties within a family, with identity (racial and otherwise), with poverty, and with trying to make a life in the United States. I found it to be a fast but not easy read; there's a lot in these stories that's disheartening. But I thought the writing was good. Whether it deserves to be on the Booker list remains to be seen -- I still have a lot left to read. I gave this one 4 stars as well.

Just before bed last night, I finally started Tom Lake. I am only a very few pages into it and am looking forward to reading more.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, August 14, 2023

A Whirlwind Weekend

Monday morning has hit me hard this week, so I'm nursing a large cup of coffee as I type this. We had a very fun weekend, but it was not a particularly relaxing one! We had cousins come to visit on their way home to Chicago from vacation in Virginia; Pittsburgh was very conveniently a good halfway point for them to stop for the night, and it was so nice to see them! They, of course, wanted to meet their newest cousin, who seemed a bit overwhelmed by all of the attention:

We also took the opportunity to recreate a photo taken at a family reunion a number of years ago (when my cousin was pregnant with her younger daughter and Mo and her oldest daughter were pretty little):

For the sake of their aging fathers' backs, the girls did not insist on absolute fidelity to the original.

The visit was quick -- they arrived in time for dinner on Friday and left after breakfast on Saturday -- but wonderful. And we know we won't have to wait too long to see them again, as we learned that the next cousin's bat mitzvah (the older cousin of these two girls) will be Memorial Day weekend of 2024.

After they left, I spent much of the day doing laundry and cleaning, and Mo and I also make a trip to Michaels so she could pick up some more kitchen cotton and acrylic yarn for another corner-to-corner crochet blanket (she's a bit obsessed). When I finally sat down for the day, it was to start a new spinning project, as I'd gone about a week without spinning and was getting twitchy about it. Once again I failed to take a photo of the fiber before I started, so I had to steal one from David at Southern Cross Fibre again.

This colorway is called Plumage, and it just screams "peacock feathers" to me. It's on Shetland wool, so fairly toothy and a nice change from the soft stuff I've done recently. I'm spinning a three-ply fingering (or maybe sport; we'll see how it turns out), which I know will be simply shocking to you. This colorway was the club shipment from December 2021 -- and it's the last bag of fiber from 2021 left in my stash! In fact, I'm doing pretty well at spinning down my older club shipments. Here's the photo I took of my SCF stash at the beginning of the year (minus one bag that was hiding, but it's been spun up). The bags with white checks on them have been spun.

Obviously this photo doesn't include any fiber I've received this year, but while I'm not yet current with my club shipments, I am getting closer! I've spun up 20 bags of fiber thus far this year, and I'm on track to spin at least my doubled original goal of 24, so while I may not catch up this year, it's a real possibility in the not-so distant future if I keep up this pace.

Okay, friends, time to slurp down some more coffee and get this day started. Hope it's a good one for you!

Friday, August 11, 2023

Sunshine and Rain

Happy Friday, friends. It's been quite an exhausting week, full of ups and downs. We've quite literally had sunshine and rain, and it's been a mix of the good and the bad. The bad has been how busy I've been this week, but that is coming to an end. My in-laws are also down with COVID right now, which is a bit scary because they're both high risk (my father-in-law is a cancer survivor and my mother-in-law has asthma and other health issues). It sounds like they're both pretty miserable but not too seriously ill, and any good thoughts you can send their way would be appreciated.

Since the world turned upside-down three years ago, I've been trying really hard to focus on the good to combat my innate pessimism, so today's post is going to focus on happier things. For one thing, yesterday's long day (a full day of work followed by two synagogue-related Zooms) let to a completed baby sweater:

This is the Flax Light sweater from Tin Can Knits, knit in the smallest size (0-6 months). I omitted the garter stitch detail on the sleeves, mainly because I thought it would be much faster to just do them in stockinette. I did try to make the sleeves match as much as possible, which involved winding off yarn to get to the same point in the stripe sequence (and, before that, rewinding my second skein of Felici because it was reversed in the order of the colors compared to the first). I did a tubular cast-on for the collar but regular bind-offs for the body and sleeves. I've already woven in the ends but not yet blocked it, and if you embiggen the photo, you'll see there's a little white spot right on the chest where the dye didn't cover a small section of yarn that I may duplicate-stitch over. Funny story about this: Our rabbi (who is also a knitter) was on one of the Zooms last night and messaged me to ask if this sweater was for another member of the board, because if it was, she wanted to make sure I knew the recipient is being induced on the 20th and won't be at our next meeting. So now I know I will have to mail this rather than delivering it in person!

In other good news, earlier in the week I found that our Butternut squash vines have produced a baby!

I purposefully planted them next to the fence that divides our driveway from our next-door neighbors' so that I can use the fence as a support, and in fact I've lifted up this section and draped it over the fence to keep the squash away from our insatiable bunnies. A bonus of this arrangement is that I can now see the squash from my bedroom window!

My final bit of good news comes after some drama last weekend. You may remember that when I was at Parnassus Books last month, I preordered Tom Lake so that I could get a personalized signed copy. Based on what I was seeing on Instagram, everyone else seemed to be getting their copies, so I had a feeling mine would be showing up soon. Last Friday, I finally got an email from the USPS saying that it was out for delivery. While we were at my parents' for dinner, I got notification that it was delivered -- but when I got home, nothing was there. I took another look at the email, and it turns out that it wasn't delivered at my house but rather (according to the tracking) to a PO box. Except that I don't have a PO box. I spent more than an hour at two different post offices on Saturday morning trying to figure out where it was, and no one was able to tell me anything other than that it was probably incorrectly scanned. I was given a supervisor's number to call on Monday if it hadn't showed up, and I was convinced that it had gotten lost in the system somewhere. Then, on Saturday night, a minor miracle happened:

Tonight some cousins are coming to visit and are staying overnight with us on their way back to Chicago from vacationing in Virginia. We'll have a full house, so that means cleaning is on the agenda for later this afternoon!

I hope you all have more sunshine than rain to end this week!

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Unraveled, Week 32/2023

Oh friends, it's been a week -- and we're only halfway through! As if that giant report for work wasn't enough, tomorrow evening I have back-to-back synagogue-related Zooms. I am very much missing the calm of last week.

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to share what I'm making and reading (though that's not much this week). My hands have been pretty busy during work hours, though I can still get a bit of stitching time in during the day during my daily team meetings (we do a brief check-in every morning now that we're a bit short-staffed so that we can make sure nothing gets missed). So my making has been something tiny:

This is a Flax Light, though without the garter stitch detail on the sleeves, that I'm knitting as a baby gift for one of my fellow board members. She's expecting her first child and is due next month. Our board meeting this month is in person, so I realized it would be the perfect opportunity to give her this gift. It also gives me a deadline to work to! I'm using Knit Picks Felici in the Beatnik colorway, one of quite a few Mo and I ordered several months back. I thought this was a good gender-neutral colorway, particularly for a fall baby. I have to knit the body to 5 inches under the arm and am already to 3.5 inches, so I'm pretty sure this will be finished up in plenty of time.

Work has impeded my reading time as well as my crafting time, so I haven't been doing as much this week. Still, I've managed to finish two books since last week:

Western Lane is the first book I was able to get my hands on from the Booker longlist; it was available on Hoopla for me as both an ebook and an audiobook, and I opted for the audio because I needed something to listen to on my run. It's a short book (only a little more than 4 hours on audio, and less than that at my usual 1.5 speed), so I managed to listen to the whole thing in one day. This debut is a quiet story of an 11-year-old girl, her two sisters, and her father dealing with the grief over the death of their mother and wife, and for the protagonist and her father, the primary way they do it is through the game of squash. I didn't love this book, though part of the problem for me may have been some difficulty in following the story on audio (there's some jumping back and forth in time). I gave it 3 stars.

Yesterday evening I made it a priority to finish Book Lovers, which I'd picked up from a Little Free Library in my neighborhood earlier in the summer. This was such a perfect palate cleanser for me after some more serious reads. It was the first book I've read by Emily Henry, and I know she's very popular; now I understand why. This book was a bit of a parody of a Hallmark movie, but it was smart and funny and also surprisingly touching. I wouldn't classify it as fine literature, but it was easy to read and quite enjoyable, and now I'm looking forward to getting to another title of hers that I picked up at a LFL. I gave this one 4 stars.

What I would like to be reading right now, rather than that big report for work, is The Covenant of Water, which I completely got lost in when I started it last week. I'm a little past the halfway point and know that if things were quiet I'd have it finished up in a few days. Here's hoping I don't have to wait too long to get back to it!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, August 07, 2023

A Weekend of Finishing

I hope you all had a good weekend! I got some much-needed extra sleep and spend some nice time with my family. I also did a lot of finishing.

First, there was the handspun. I did manage to ply the entire skein on Friday, but I didn't get around to skeining and washing it until Saturday. I realized that I never took a photo of the fiber before I split it up, so I stole borrowed David's photo:

I wanted to break up the colors as much as possible, so first I folded the length of fiber into thirds and tore it at the folds and then I split up each of the resulting pieces into four thinner strips. I spun my default yarn -- a three-ply fingering weight -- and ended up with approximately 414 yards.

These colors aren't as exciting to me as some others I've spun recently, but I think they make for an excellent neutral. And I think that at some point I'd like to knit another colorwork sweater out of handspun, so some neutral background colors will come in handy. I was surprised at how often the lighter and darker colors seemed to come together, but I guess being totally random in how I was spinning, it was the luck of the draw.

This is the 20th bag of Southern Cross Fibre I've spun so far this year, so I'm well on my way to hitting my revised goal of 24. I haven't yet picked out what I'm spinning next, but it will be something with brighter colors!

I also finished up my mother's socks over the weekend:

These mostly match up in the stripe sequence, though I had to cheat it a little after turning the heel (I removed a little bit of yarn before starting the gusset). The end of the toes are a little off if you look closely, but I really don't think anyone will. I used my typical sock recipe on 64 stitches using Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Cosmic. It's an older colorway, and the skein had been in my stash for several years. I'm putting these away for Chanukah; I actually knit them in front of my mother several times, but I doubt she'll remember that when she opens these in December.

This week is going to be a rough one: I got sent a 55-page high-profile report late on Friday that I will have to edit this week, which means less time for reading and crafting. I plan to keep up with my usual blogging schedule, but I may not have too much content to share. Today I also have to go into the office to have a one-on-one meeting with our new big boss (she's meeting with everyone individually to get to know us and to get a sense of what we do), and on top of all that I may not be able to get out for a run due to thunderstorms moving through the area. I guess it's a good thing that knitting reduces stress for me! Here's hoping you have a calmer week ahead and your Monday is off to a good start.

Friday, August 04, 2023

Loose Ends

Last week I kept thinking it was a day ahead. This week, I've been feeling a day behind. But I'm sure today is Friday, and thank goodness for that! I don't feel like I've gotten a lot done this week, though I've been reading a lot and getting outside a fair amount -- though neither activity results in anything I can show you! I have been pretty focused on spinning this week, though, and today I have some finished singles!

I don't think I ever took a photo of the fiber before I started spinning, so here's one I stole from David:

I wanted to mix up the colors as much as possible, so I split the length of fiber in thirds and then split each third into four strips. I'm hoping that I can get everything plied today, so the next time you see this, it'll be in yarn form!

I'm also nearing the toe of the second of my mother's socks, so that pair should be finished soon, too.

Finally, Carole commented last Friday that if I was going to share a photo of the room where we had our wedding reception today, I really needed to also share a photo as it looked then. As a reminder, here's what it looked like last week:

And here's what it looked like the day of our wedding (apologies for the photo -- the best I could do was take a photo of our photo album):

That's all she wrote for today. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Unraveled, Week 31/2023

Whereas last week seemed to drag, this week is speeding by -- I was surprised it was already Wednesday when I woke up this morning! As per usual, I'm linking up with Kat and the Unravelers today.

This photo represents my main crafting activity this week. I'm working on finishing up this pair of socks for my mother (working ahead for a holiday gift) and also spinning yet another Southern Cross Fibre club shipment. This colorway is called Coastline, and it's fairly neutral, so I have split it up in order to break up the colors as much as possible. I am spinning my usual three-ply fingering, and though I don't have a specific project in mind, I am thinking that this would be a good background color for some kind of colorwork. I'm almost halfway done with the singles (what you see here is the fiber still to be spun) and am hoping I can wrap up the rest by the end of the week.

I also finished up my test knit over the weekend and am delighted with how it turned out:

I used three colors of Knit Picks Dishie -- white, Honeydew, and Conch. This bag is pretty simple to knit but so clever. I'm definitely going to be making another one (or more). I tested the second size, which is about 8 inches wide and 8 inches high, but the pattern has four sizes, the largest about twice this size. I think this makes a great market bag; you can easily adjust the size of the straps, so it would be easy to make it into a bag you can put over your shoulder. The testing deadline for this is later this month, so I expect Shana will be releasing it in early September.

I haven't been able to do a ton of reading in the last week because of all the catching up I had to do at work, but I have managed to finish two books.

When Hoopla decided not to work for me on the plane, I turned to what was in my Kindle library. Matthew Desmond is part of the upcoming local speaker series I subscribe to, specifically talking about his latest book, Poverty, by America. This nonfiction work is easy to read and understand, even as it's utterly demonstrating. Desmond lays out how our society has been constructed to keep poor people in poverty despite some pretty easy ways to help them that would harm very few people (read: the ultra-rich and corporations). I do recognize that his viewpoint is likely biased, but I happen to agree with him, and I think he does an excellent job of laying out the issues in a way that's very accessible. I gave this book 4 stars.

Ninth House was a very buzzy book a few years ago, so I'd bookmarked it on Hoopla when I saw it was available but really didn't know much about it when I borrowed the audiobook over the weekend. This is a fantasy novel set in the world of Yale's secret societies, in which the titular house is the one in charge of overseeing the others and ensuring that their magic doesn't get out of hand. It's an interesting concept -- that these societies use magic to ensure their members' financial and professional success -- but it wasn't really to my taste. There's a fair amount of violence and gore in this book, which aren't things I usually care for. I think it was well done, though. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm currently reading something much lighter, Emily Henry's Book Lovers, which I found in one of my neighborhood's Little Free Libraries. It's a bit predictable but is easy to read and a nice mental break from heavier things.

What are you making and reading this week?