Friday, September 29, 2023

Is There Something in the Water?

I'm starting to wonder if there's something going around blogland lately. First, it was Vera who was dealing with a broken washing machine. Then it was Bonny. Now you can add me to the list. The other night the Mister took a load of laundry down to the basement and found that he couldn't get the door of the washing machine to close (which is pretty important, because we have a front loader that won't work if the door can't stay closed). I went down to see what was going on and found this:

On the left is the part of the locking mechanism that's on the door. Between the two screws is a piece that's sticking out, and there should be two prongs that stick out even more. But the prongs are missing -- because they've broken off inside the receptacle, which you see on the right. I'm no mechanic, but based on the screws on both parts, it seems to be that these parts would be easy to remove and replace. When the Mister called the store where we bought the washer, however, he was told they have so few people doing repairs that the soonest they could get to us was October 20! He investigated other options and finally talked to the manufacturer, who connected us with another service provider, and they're able to come next Wednesday, which is much more reasonable. In the meantime, it looks like we'll have to take a few loads over to my parents' house, which is less than ideal but at least a better option than a laundromat (and, as I told the Mister, it's highly likely my mother will tell us to just leave the laundry there and she'll do it).

As I'm unable to do laundry, I do find myself with a little extra time on my hands, though work has been rather busy the last couple of days. Yesterday I took Mo to an orthodontist appointment first thing and then had an hour-long work meeting (online, of course), so I have made some progress on my socks:

I've decided to wait until both socks are done before doing the heels, so after grafting the toe of the first sock on Wednesday night, I immediately cast on for the second. In case you've not seen it, I posted a Reel on Instagram yesterday of me pulling out the waste yarn from the tubular cast on. Ideally this process is as easy as tugging on the waste yarn, but sometimes it likes to stick. Still, I love the look and stretch of the cast-on edge it creates.

I have pulled out the last Southern Cross Fibre club shipment from 2022 and am ready to start spinning it:

This one is called Conversations with Smaug (yes, Lord of the Rings inspired!), and it's on a positively dreamy fiber blend of 70% superfine Merino/30% mulberry silk. I think I am just going to spin it end to end and ply it back on itself. I have a feeling it will want to be spun very fine because of the high silk content, so expect another thin yarn!

This weekend is looking like it will be a relaxing one, which we all need. The only thing on our calendar is a matinee performance of Moulin Rouge (the musical) tomorrow afternoon for us girls. The weather is supposed to be spectacular, so I plan to take advantage. And I am feeling much better, with less coughing and less congestion, so I might even try a little jogging! I hope whatever you have planned is enjoyable!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Unraveled, Week 39/2023

Good morning and happy Wednesday, friends! I'm still dragging a bit this morning -- I had the hardest time falling asleep Monday night (even a single cup of coffee at break fast is apparently enough to keep me up), and then last night I kept waking up coughing. But coffee has been drunk and I'm ready to check in with Kat and the Unravelers!

Today I've got another finished skein of handspun -- yes, friends, the pace is continuing!

Please forgive the quality of the photo; the sun is hiding here today. This was the second of two Southern Cross Fibre prize colorways from last year's Tour de Fleece. This one, called Racing Red, was a luscious blend of 50% Bond wool, 25% Suri alpaca, and 25% mulberry silk. As with the last skein, I split the fiber vertically into four strips to break up the colors, spun all the strips end to end, wound the singles into a center-pull ball, and and plied from both ends. I'd call the finished yarn a heavy lace weight to light fingering weight. It's approximately 522 yards, so that gives you an idea of the grist!

For those of you keeping track, this is the 27th bag of SCF fiber I've spun this year, and I now have just one more 2022 shipment left unspun. That one will be the next to go on the wheel.

When I haven't been spinning, I've been working on my Woolens and Nosh socks. The first one is ready for a toe!

Reading has been rather slow this past week, I think due to a combination of being busy at work, the holiday, and still getting over being sick. I finished just one book.

I listened to How Much of These Hills Is Gold over the course of several days. I'd first heard about it maybe a year ago, but it came to my attention again recently when it was mentioned on the What Should I Read Next podcast (in part because the author just released a new book this week). This is the story of two Chinese American siblings struggling to survive in the West in the time following the California gold rush after their parents are both gone. I thought it was well written but also heartbreaking, and in the end the harshness of their lives in spite of all their efforts kept me from really loving it. I gave it 3 stars.

I'm still reading The Bee Sting and have only about 160 pages left, so I'm hoping to finish it this week.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Embrace in 2023: September

When I posted on Sunday, I completely forgot that this was the last week of the month. So I'm catching up today with all you One Little Word-ers with my update. Thanks, as always, to Carolyn for hosting our monthly link-up and giving us great monthly prompts!

Obviously when I started this month, I was looking forward to embracing all the joys of the season -- the High Holidays, family birthdays and anniversaries, the Great Race, the transition to fall. But COVID disrupted everything. In addition to causing me to miss out on many of those celebrations and plans, it has physically forced me to slow down; I wasn't really seriously ill (I was never confined to my bed, for instance), but it's had enough of an impact on my respiratory system that I've found breathing to be more of an effort. After training all summer to be able to run several miles without stopping, I've had to accept that running at all might be more than my body can handle right now. I've also read about some studies that suggest that pushing your body too hard after a COVID infection might make you more susceptible to long COVID, something I definitely do not want. So Embrace this month has been about accepting my limitations and not pushing myself. This has not been an easy thing for me because I have been so active for the past several months and so diligent in my training schedule. But I know that in the long run, it's important to listen to and respect the limitations of my body. And I hope that in the months that remain in this year, my OLW shows up in ways that are a little less harsh!

Sunday, September 24, 2023


 On Day 14, I finally tested negative.

Now that I'm in the clear, I'll be headed to synagogue for Yom Kippur services with my family on Monday, so I'll see you back here on Wednesday for a crafting update!

Friday, September 22, 2023

Are We There Yet?

Happy Friday, friends. I haven't tested negative yet, but yesterday I was feeling so close to normal that I decided to test again and only got a faint positive line. The same thing happened to Mo the day before she tested negative, so I'm hoping today is the day I can finally be released from isolation. It would be a good day for it, too -- it's the Mister's birthday! At the moment my only symptom is some lingering sinus congestion, but it's really hard to separate how much of it is COVID and how much of it is allergies. I'll test again around lunchtime today. Please send me some positive thoughts (ha!) for a negative result!

Thanks to a board meeting on Wednesday evening, I was able to finish plying my latest skein of handspun, and I skeined and washed it yesterday. I'm happy with this one, even though I really put in minimal effort.

I had to use my editing app to put a filter on this to get the colors more accurate, because it was getting blown/washed out in every photo I took. This was one of last year's Tour de Fleece prize colorways, Sprinter Green, and it was on Polwarth wool. So that the different shades of green would be more broken up, I split the fiber into four long strips before I started spinning and spun all four end to end onto one bobbin. When the singles were done, I wound them into a center-pull ball and plied from both ends. The finished yarn is sport weight and approximately 323 yards. And I'd no sooner gotten this skein all finished than I pulled out the next bag to spin, in this case the other TdF prize colorway.

This is a rather luxurious blend of 50% Bond wool, 25% Suri alpaca, and 25% mulberry silk. I am spinning this one exactly the same way, though I think the finished yarn will likely be lace weight to fingering because the singles are coming out finer (silk will do that!)

I've also made some good progress on my current pair of socks:

That thin line of bright turquoise is the waste yarn for my afterthought heel, so technically I'm working on the foot of these now. This style of heel doesn't fit me quite as well as a traditional flap and gusset, but there is something rather nice about just cruising from leg to foot.

This weekend's plans are a little up in the air, as they're all dependent on my testing negative, but assuming that happens, the Mister and I will be running the Great Race 5K on Sunday morning, and then we'll all be celebrating Yom Kippur Sunday evening and Monday. I'm really hoping to be able to make it to services on Sunday because our family has been given an honor of holding a Torah, and as I missed out on another honor at Rosh Hashanah services already, I'd really like to have this one! So please keep those fingers crossed. I don't know if I'll be posting on Monday or not, but I will see you back here at some point next week.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Unraveled, Week 38/2023

Good morning, friends, and thank you for the ongoing good thoughts. I'm sorry to say I'm still testing positive this morning, though I am feeling better -- I noticed on my (masked) walk yesterday that I could take deeper breaths and walk more or less at my usual pace, though I can still recognize the lingering symptoms of the virus in my body. I have pretty much accepted that I'm going to test positive for a while and I very well may miss out on the Great Race and Yom Kippur this weekend. I just keep reminding myself that although it's a disappointment to have to keep isolating and to miss out on things, the important thing is that I am feeling better.

It's Wednesday, so that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers!

Today finds me working on two projects:

On the left are the Polwarth singles I started spinning over the weekend that were finished last night. I just wound them into a center-pull ball so that I can ply from both ends of the skein today, I hope. On the right is my current sock WIP, using the skein of Woolens and Nosh self-striping that I bought at SSK. I'm going to be knitting afterthought heels on these socks for a bit of a change from my usual.

I still haven't pulled out my Birch Pullover to do the math I need to in order to continue, but it's on my list for this week.

Reading has been slower in the past week (for obvious reasons), so I've only finished one book.

A Spell of Good Things is from the Booker Longlist and tells the story of two Nigerians: a young boy whose family is struggling to make ends meet and a late-20-something female doctor who is financially well off but struggling with a sometimes abusive relationship. At first this seems like a book whose purpose is to compare the lives of the haves and have-nots, but as the two main characters' lives move closer together, it becomes clear that they both face huge challenges and that their decisions can have far-reaching impacts on their lives. It also shows just how broken modern society can be and who can fall through the cracks when power is in the hands of a few. It's a challenging read, but it's one I appreciated. I gave it 4 stars. I'll also note that I bought a copy through Blackwell's, for which I am now an affiliate, and the book itself is really beautiful.

I'm still working my way through the Booker titles and obviously won't succeed in reading all of the Longlist before the Shortlist is announced tomorrow, but I did buy quite a lot of the books from Blackwell's and thus will read them, even if they don't make the cut. Right now I'm reading The Bee Sting and am about 50 pages is. It's good so far, but I've been reading before bed and have not been able to keep my eyes open for long, so I'll have to find some time during the day to make some real progress.

What are you making and reading this week? Have any predictions for the Booker Shortlist?

Monday, September 18, 2023

Welcome to My Pity Party

I am happy to report that I am feeling about ten times better this morning than I was at the end of last week. That said, I still haven't tested negative yet, so I'm still isolating from the Mister -- and it meant that I missed family dinners and services for Rosh Hashanah. I did, however, manage to make challah, and as promised, here's a photo:

The braid/weave looked a lot clearer before it was baked, but I'm still pretty happy with how this turned out, given it was the first time I'd ever tried a round loaf. I sent it to dinner with Mo and the Mister on Friday night and then had my sad little dinner alone with no challah. I didn't want to replicate that particular pity party on Saturday, so I baked some more and tried a different method of shaping:

One of these loaves went into the freezer, but I just had a couple of slices of the other for breakfast. Yum!

I spent a lot of the weekend crocheting and watching TV, but yesterday I was feeling well enough to tackle some cleaning (bathrooms), laundry, and a walk. Today it's back to work, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a negative test later today.

It wasn't all doom and gloom over the weekend, though. Thanks to all the extra crocheting time, I finished the blanket -- which I'd only just started last Thursday!

I did not use a pattern for this blanket, but I can try to explain how I did it. First, I'd learned this method of crochet using a free tutorial that I found on Ravelry (there are a ton of tutorials out there, on blogs and YouTube). Then, I did a little swatch. I crocheted a small square using the variegated skein that came with this set and weighed and measured it to determine how much yarn I used per square inch. Then I used that information to figure out how large a blanket I could make with the yarn I had and what dimensions it could be (I knew I wanted a rectangle, so that made the math a little more challenging). Once I had my numbers, the rest was straightforward. 

I based my calculations on having 500 grams of yarn (five 100 g skeins), but all of mine were a bit more than that, and so I ended up with a bit left of the last skein -- I used a total of 479 grams. I didn't want to cut it too close and risk running out, so I'm happy with that. The finished blanket is about 25 inches wide and 40 inches long, but the yarn is superwash, so I may try to stretch it out a bit larger when I block it. As is, though, it's the perfect size to cover my legs. Perhaps more importantly, it used up a bit more than 1,100 yards of yarn from my stash! It was really the perfect thing to work on while I was sick because it's pretty darn mindless, and now I'm a bit sad that it's done because I won't have it to work on. I suppose I will just need to start another one!

Friday, September 15, 2023

It Finally Got Me

Well friends, after three and a half years of avoiding it, I've finally been hit with the 'vid. Those of you who follow me on Instagram likely saw the positive test I posted yesterday. I honestly did think I just had a sinus infection, but when I woke up yesterday with my whole body hurting again, I thought I should test. I read somewhere a while back that the side effects you feel from getting a dose of the vaccine are likely an indication of how the virus itself would make you feel, and that whole-body ache has been primarily the effect I've had each time I've gotten a vaccine or booster. On the plus side, I started getting these aches Monday afternoon, so clearly I've had it for a while, and I'm actually feeling a lot better this morning. Even better, Mo tested negative yesterday afternoon and is back to school today. While I would have preferred not to have gotten it, I am relieved that my bout with COVID has been relatively mild. My symptoms have been the aforementioned body aches, sinus pain, and some congestion (and some associated lightheadedness, which you'd expect). I've been coughing a little, but mainly just because of the postnasal drip from the sinus congestion. I've not had a fever or lost my sense of taste or smell. I have been taking extra-strength Tylenol every six hours, and I knew I was turning a corner last night when I didn't start feeling terrible before my next dose was due. I also slept through the night last night, unlike the two prior, so I'm fairly confident that I will be back to normal in a few more days. It's a bummer that I will miss out on Rosh Hashanah dinner with the family tonight and services this weekend, but my mother will no doubt be dropping off food for me and I can watch services online. I'm happy to be feeling better and able to stay home to keep others from getting sick. I did want to share my experience with all of you because it seems like the new variant that is going around is not causing the typical COVID symptoms and so people may not be testing when they should. So consider this your PSA!

While I never like being sick, I will say that it's been a relief to take time off from work and to not be so sick that I'm not feeling up to crafting. In fact, I've gotten quite a lot done in the past couple of days, primarily on my crochet blanket:

Last night I joined the fourth skein of yarn and started decreasing along the other edge, so I am in the home stretch now. If I keep up the pace, I would not be surprised if I finish this blanket by the end of the weekend! It looks like it's going to be the perfect size for covering my legs; I'm working to 25" wide by 40" long, though I'm sure that I'll be able to coax a bit more out of it when I blog it, given that it's superwash. This has really been the perfect project because it's require so little thinking. While I haven't really experienced the so-called COVID brain fog, it is still hard to concentrate when you're feeling lousy.

Later today, provided my head is feeling clear enough, I may pull out my long-dormant Birch Pullover, which hasn't been touched since the day we left Florida after our spring break trip. It's been sitting in a bag since then for a very silly reason: I need to do some basic math to determine how much of each skein of yarn to set aside for the sleeves so I can blend my skeins sufficiently. It'll probably take me less than five minutes to do so, but my ridiculous unwillingness to do that has meant that I've ignored the sweater for nearly half a year. Now that fall weather is finally here, I want to get back to that sweater so it's done and ready to be worn when we have legitimate sweater weather!

I hope the weekend ahead is as beautiful for you as it's predicted to be for us. Keep your fingers crossed that by the next time I post, I'm COVID negative!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Unraveled, Week 37/2023

Good morning from the sick house, friends. Mo is feeling a lot better, but I've come done with my annual sinus infection and am feeling pretty miserable. I'm glad I'm already working from home and don't have to go anywhere!

Time to check in with Kat and the Unravelers about making and reading. If there's one good thing to say about being at home with a sick kid, it's that there's plenty of time for both! 

I'm still working on my C2C blanket, and though I haven't added much more since you saw it on Monday, I plan to work on it during two work meetings today, one of which is supposed to be two hours long (it's on off-site meeting, but luckily I'd already planned to Zoom in because school pickup time is right in the middle of it).

I'm in the middle of a wrong-side row at the moment, and based on the measurement I took just after snapping this photo, I should reach my target width after one more right-side row. At that point, I will start decreasing on the left-hand side of the blanket and it'll start looking like a rectangle.

I also have added a few stripes to my current pair of socks, and I'm really enjoying this Targhee base.

The main reason I haven't made a ton of progress on either of these projects the past couple of days is because I've been almost completely focused on spinning -- and I finished another skein!

It's still a tad bit damp and the skein got a bit mussed up so I'll have to rewind it to tidy it up, but this is about 187 yards of three-ply worsted. This was Southern Cross Fibre Polwarth from May 2022 in the colorway Maelstrom. I did a very quick-and-dirty spin on this for a change, and while I don't have a ton of yardage, I'm very happy with this one.

I just love a round, bouncy three-ply yarn! Normally I don't have a specific plan for yarn I spin, but as these colors are right up Mo's alley, I'm thinking this might become a hat for her. I'll likely knit it top down so I can use up as much yarn as possible.

Reading has been good this past week, even if it's not been especially plentiful. With all the illness in the house, I've been a bit distracted. But I did finish two good books.

When I was in need of an audiobook late last week, I decided to reread Rebecca, in part because it's on the Novel Pairings calendar for this month but also because it's been a very long time since I read it (I'm pretty sure when I was in eighth grade!). I watched the Hitchcock film a ton when I was a kid and saw the not-so-great more recent Netflix version, so I knew the basic story, but I'd forgotten just how amazing the writing is! The audio version was well done, too. I think I could appreciate it all a lot more now that I'm older and more well read, and it wasn't until yesterday, while I was listening to Novel Pairings, that I learned that it was inspired by Jane Eyre, but it makes total sense! If you've never read this book, I highly recommend it. I gave my reread 5 stars.

My other finish came from the Booker Prize longlist. How to Build a Boat tells the story of Jamie, a young man who we're led to believe is on the autism spectrum and who believes that if he finds a way to build a perpetual motion machine, it will somehow connect him to his month, who died shortly after giving birth to him. He's helped in this mission by two of his teachers at his Catholic boys' high school, a place where all three of them are outsiders in their own way, and the book is really a lovely story of how they find and help one another through their respective life difficulties. This is one of those books that has no quotation marks for the dialogue, making it a little challenging in parts to know when someone is speaking and when they're just thinking, but it's a beautiful story. I gave it 4 stars.

I'm still reading An Immense World, though I haven't picked it up in the past several days, and I've been reading my next Booker selection, A Spell of Good Things, at bedtime.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 11, 2023

So Much for Those Plans

I am happy to report that it was a very restful weekend. Unfortunately, that was unplanned and was due to Mo coming down with COVID over the weekend. She woke up Saturday with a slight fever, and so we tested her because we were supposed to go to a bat mitzvah (read: lots of people). She luckily isn't feeling too ill (low-grade fever and congestion), but it's a bummer. She was mostly upset that she exposed everyone in the family at Friday night dinner, but so far everyone seems to be okay. She'll be home with me for most if not all of the week (I think she'll be able to go back to school, masked, on Friday, provided she tests negative before then), and as a result of all this, we all ended up with a very quiet weekend.

One nice thing was that there were Zooms happening for much of the day on Saturday for the Pigskin Party, so both of us were able to join while we crafted for several hours. I made quite a lot of progress on my crocheted blanket, and yesterday I actually finished up the first skein and joined in the second. This project is very addictive, so I would not be surprised if it's finished very quickly!

The color change isn't quite as stark as it looks here; I think that's just because the sun isn't really out yet, so the lighting wasn't great when I took this photo. I've almost reached my target width, so pretty soon I'll start decreasing on one side so that it will start looking like a rectangle.

After I posted on Friday, I was able to ply the singles I shared in that post, and I have another lovely skein finished:

I chain-plied this one, and I ended up with approximately 456 yards of fingering. I love the autumnal shades in this colorway -- and I'm also celebrating the fact that this was my 24th bag of Southern Cross Fibre spun this year! That was my doubled goal, and I'm not stopping now. I've been keeping up such a pace of spinning these club shipments that I might as well continue the momentum, and if I do, I should be able to get caught up by early next year. My ultimate goal is that I have no SCF stash but rather spin up each club shipment in the month that it arrives.

For accountability purposes, here was the SCF stash (minus one bag that was hiding) at the beginning of the year, with the bags I've spun checked off:

And here is what is currently in the stash, though my next shipment is out for delivery today and there will be one more bag added:

I should have another skein finished this week as well because I started spinning up that blue/purple fiber in the bag at the top left on Saturday and am nearly finished with the second bobbin (I thought a thicker yarn was in order; this'll probably be DK or worsted when it's plied).

I am hoping that this week is slightly less exciting, not least because Rosh Hashanah starts Friday night and we really want everyone to be healthy for it! I will be baking challah for our family dinner and trying my hand at a round loaf (a round challah is traditional for the new year). Please send us all your good thoughts for health!

Friday, September 08, 2023

Finishes and Starts

Why is it that sometimes the shorter weeks feel longer than the regular ones? I can only think it's been the heat here this week -- we officially had a heat wave, with three days hitting 90º F or higher. (I even ran on one of those days, and it was very much Not Fun.) But it's Friday, and we had some rain move through yesterday (including when I thought I was in the clear and went out for a walk, only have to run home in a downpour), so things are looking up.

I know this will likely come as a surprise to none of you, but I did finish the socks for my sister-in-law on Wednesday evening, thanks in part to a rabbi search Zoom meeting. I blocked them yesterday, so today they're all ready to be wrapped up and presented to her at dinner.

After I was so successful in focusing on that project on Wednesday, I decided to do the same with my current spinning project yesterday and finished all my singles, so today I am ready to ply.

While I'm wrapping up my WIPs, I'm also starting some new projects. Yesterday was kickoff day for the Down Cellar Studio Pigskin Party (and the NFL season), and that meant casting on some new projects because WIPs aren't allowed for this make-along. Obviously I had to cast on some new socks, so I dove into my SSK stash and pulled out the skein I brought home from Woolens and Nosh and cast on.

The other project I started is a crocheted corner-to-corner blanket using five of the six skeins from the Fibernymph Dye Works sweater kit that I wound up last week. I made a swatch a couple of days ago, weighed and measured it, and did some math to figure out how big a blanket I could make with the yarn I have and the measurements for it. I'll admit I had to do a bit of Googling to help with the last step, but I'm pretty sure I got it right, and I have a bit of extra yarn should I need it (I did my calculations based on 100 g skeins, but all of mine are a few grams more than that).

Today should be a quiet day at work -- my boss's mother-in-law passed away earlier this week, so she is off for the funeral today -- so I am hoping I can take care of plying that bobbin of singles and make some progress on one or both of the new projects. We have a bat mitzvah to attend tomorrow and thankfully nothing planned on Sunday, so I'm hoping the weekend will be a good reset. Here's hoping it's a good one for you, too!

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Unraveled, Week 36/2023

A nice side benefit of having a three-day weekend is that when you feel like the week is just getting started, it's already Wednesday! Time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers.

I'm slowly but surely working my way through the foot of the second sock of this pair; I finished the gusset decreases while we were at mahj on Monday. Today is actually my sister-in-law's birthday, so I'm hoping I can finish these up in the next two days so I can give them to her on Friday when I see her next. Luckily she has the smallest feet among the person I knit socks for, so there's not a ton of knitting left.

I'm also still working on the current spin, which isn't surprising given how fine my singles are. I am, at least, on the second half of the fiber.

I haven't done a ton of reading in the last week because work got so busy, but I have managed to finish two books -- both of them rated 3 stars.

Study for Obedience was picked up because it's on the Booker Prize longlist. It's a small novel -- less than 200 pages -- but isn't an especially quick read. It feels very much like it was written a couple of centuries ago except for the occasional mention of modern technology. And it's very vague: The unnamed narrator has moved to an unnamed country to serve as housekeeper for her recently divorced brother. She doesn't speak the language, but we know that her Jewish family used to live in this country, and the implication is that they left to escape the Holocaust. As she tries to become part of the community, strange things begin to happen and there is overt hostility (and, presumably, anti-Semitism) toward her, leading to a reckoning that is similarly vague. It's a very strange book that doesn't have a clear resolution but is certainly one that will make you think.

I'd put Hello Beautiful on hold at the library because everyone seemed to be reading it and excited about it, and my hold finally came up late last week. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with it. The story is intriguing but also rather predictable, and I have to say that I was thoroughly unimpressed with the writing. While I love a good story, I think what I value most in what I read is the writing and craft itself, and I didn't see much artistry in this book. There are a few spots where there was a nice turn of phrase, but in most cases the writing seemed very unsophisticated. There was a lot of telling and very little showing. I'm not sorry I read it, but I wouldn't rush to read any of the author's other books if this is typical of her writing style.

I'm still reading An Immense World and I've started my next title on the Booker list, How to Build a Boat.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, September 04, 2023

Still Weekending

Good morning, friends, and happy Labor Day to those of you in the United States! It's a day off for all of us, but I still got up at my usual time this morning, in part because it's supposed to be HOT later and I want to get my run in before then, but it's also nice to have a little quiet time to myself while everyone else sleeps in.

The weekend has been quite relaxing, and we had a delicious anniversary dinner on Saturday night. We were surprised to see an envelope on our table when we were seated; my parents were apparently quite sneaky and went to the restaurant ahead of time and left us a gift card for our dinner. My mother joked in the card that because Hallmark stops specifying the traditional anniversary gifts every year after 15, she decided that the gift for the 16th anniversary should be dinner! It was such a lovely and unexpected surprise. Yesterday Mo and the Mister went to the pool in the afternoon, so I went for a long walk and then had some quiet time to myself. And today, after I run, Mo and I are headed to play mahjongg with my group, and then we're grilling hot dogs for dinner. I plan on hiding from the heat inside with a book and my wheel.

Speaking of spinning, I set the twist on my most recent skein on Friday morning, and the humidity was low enough at the time that I could put it out on the porch to dry. I ended up with about 435 yards of two-ply fingering to sport.

I spun this as a two-ply fractal, meaning I split the fiber in half lengthwise and then split one of the halves in half again. The idea is that the colors go in the same order in both plies, but they change faster in one ply than the other. There are areas where the colors coincide and areas where there is a lot of barberpoling, giving this a lot of interest. I'm really happy with it. And I've already started on the next spin, using bag of fiber #24!

I know this doesn't look very exciting, but I hope you can see how much depth there is to this gray. The colorway is Maple Fantasy, and it was dyed on grey merino, so the base fiber was already multicolored. This colorway reminds me a lot of a cozy flannel shirt, and it definitely screamed fall to me. I decided to keep things a bit simpler for color handling in this one, so I split the fiber in half lengthwise and am spinning the two halves in order so I can chain-ply the singles and preserve the colors. I'm almost done with the first half. Because when I complete this skein, I'll also have completed my doubled-down goal of spinning up 24 bags of fiber this year and have plenty of time left, I'm going to increase my goal again, this time to spin up the remaining shipments from 2022 (there are five more after this bag, I believe).

I also did a little yarn prep this weekend. I'm anxiously awaiting the start of the Down Cellar Studio Pigskin Party this coming Thursday, and while I can't cast anything on just yet, I can get my yarn ready. I had bought a sweater set from Fibernymph Dye Works a few years ago that I've since realized isn't really in my colors, so I'm using it for other purposes. It contained six skeins of DK, five semisolids in a gradient and one variegated skein. I wound them all up on Saturday.

I plan to use the gradient skeins for a corner-to-corner crochet blanket and the variegated skein for a charity hat (or hats, depending on how far the skein goes). I will likely also use the variegated skein to crochet a swatch and do some math so I can figure out how big I can make my blanket -- I'd like to make it a rectangle rather than a square, which requires a bit more advance planning. I'm going to crochet a small square and weigh it to figure out what total area I can crochet with the amount of yarn I have, and from there I can figure out what dimensions my blanket can be. I still maintain that much of what I learned in math class, despite what my teachers told me, is entirely useless to me in my adult life, but a little basic algebra regularly comes in handy!

I hope if you're off today, you have something fun planned -- and something to keep you cool if it's also going to be hot where you are!

Friday, September 01, 2023

The First Friday of Fall

Happy Friday, friends! I'm so excited to see September arrive, even more so because as I type this, it's 55ºF -- feels like fall! In fact, September 1 marks the first day of meteorological fall, and I am here for it. The last couple of days when I've gone outside, there's been a bit of a chill and the light has looked different. I even ran through a section of dried leaves beneath a couple of buckeye trees! We've got 90s in the forecast for the long weekend, but I think the majority of the hot, humid days are behind us.

I'm very happy to see the end of the week because it's been a really stressful one. On Wednesday afternoon, just before I was about to leave to pick Mo up from school, I got sent a 40-page layout with a lot of content that needed to be proofread -- by yesterday afternoon. I did get it done, but it was not fun, and it disrupted my usual workout routine (I couldn't go for a walk yesterday until after lunch, once I'd finished it). I'm hoping today is calmer, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an early dismissal ahead of the long weekend.

But enough complaining -- you didn't come here for that! What you are likely to be more interested in is the crafting. I did make some progress on my current sock while I was working on that report (I got to a section where the same corrections were being made over and over again, so I'd mark them and then knit a few rounds while I read through a page at a time), and I think I'm about an inch from the heel of the second sock. I also spent the end of the day and the evening plying and finished up one last skein of handspun for August. I did not have time to set the twist, but I'll be taking care of that this morning.

This was my 23rd bag of Southern Cross Fibre spun this year, so now I have only one left to get to my doubled goal. But I don't think I'm going to stop there. If I remember correctly, I've got five more bags from 2022 unspun, so I'm going to do my best to get through them before the end of the year. Then perhaps when 2024's shipments start to come in, I can try to spin, at a minimum, one shipment from 2023 along with each new shipment each month and get caught up for the first time in my life!

I know some of you were excited about the pattern when I was test knitting it, so I wanted to let you know that Shana has released her Modular Bento Bag pattern! It's available on Ravelry and on Payhip, and it's on sale right now! I had a lot of fun knitting mine and plan to knit more of them in the future (there are four sizes in the pattern, and the largest is a great size for a market bag).

I also discovered that the second size can double as a hat!

This weekend should be a relaxing one. Tomorrow is our anniversary (16 years!), and we have reservations at one of our favorite restaurants. I have plans to get together with my mahj group on Monday morning but nothing else on the calendar. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, and one of my library holds just came in, so I plan to take full advantage of three days away from work! I hope you can do the same!