Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Embrace in 2023: October


2023 is really flying by; if I thought September went by quickly, October was even faster. It's been an emotional month for many reasons, and when I was thinking about Embrace this month, I didn't have to think too hard.

I will fully admit that I'm a news junkie. I need to know what's going on in the world, even when the news is horrible. I'm frankly more troubled by what I don't know than what I do. But there is news and then there is commentary, particularly on social media. And thanks to recent events, a lot of that commentary has turned into hate. As we marked five years since the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history, it's been particularly hurtful to see an increase in antisemitic rhetoric online. So this month I have embraced the ability to curate what I see and to mute or unfollow accounts that are sharing hurtful content. there's a lot of power in controlling your feed, and for me, it means that even as I follow the news, I can also go online to find joy.

Thank you to Carolyn for hosting our monthly link-ups!

Monday, October 30, 2023

A Real Fall Weekend

It is allegedly Monday morning, but it is dark and wet here, and after no one slept well last night, we are all a little slow today. I made sure to brew a little extra coffee this morning, but I would not be surprised if I need a cup of tea later.

Luckily the rain held off for the Halloween party on Saturday afternoon, though attendance was lighter than in previous years -- just us, our siblings and their families, and a few friends. And that was just fine. As promised, here are the costumes!

My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephews 1 and 2 as a firehouse dalmatian, fire truck, fire, and firefighter

My sister-in-law, brother, and nephew 3 as Harold and the Purple Crayon

Us as a Pantone color swatch, a frappuccino, and the Brawny man

I did indeed manage to ply my entire skein of handspun on Friday, thanks to a much-needed quiet work day, and I found just enough light on Saturday to photograph it.

I ended up with about 415 yards of two-ply fingering weight. The technique I used (with the marled singles) isn't too apparent because the colors kind of blend together, but I am pleased with how evenly distributed the colors are in the finished skein. I think I will try the technique again with colors that are more contrasting. This skein is certainly the perfect colors for the time of year, thought!

Mo and I did make it out to the fiber festival, in the rain, yesterday and made exactly one purchase -- yarn for Mo to knit her first sweater! I'll have to share a photo later in the week, though, because nothing I could take today would do the colors justice. I will tell you that she plans to knit a Flax (DK weight), likely in a cropped body with short sleeves, but she is going to wait until after the musical she's in is over because she's super busy right now. I'm excited to get her going!

Finally, because this month has flown by so fast, I've only just realized that this is the last Monday of the month and I'm due for a One Little Word check-in. That will have to come tomorrow, so you'll get an extra post from me. Happy Monday, friends -- I hope it's gentle on you!

Friday, October 27, 2023

Time Flies

It's been a busy week, but all the same I was surprised to wake up this morning and realize it was Friday. Sometimes time gets away from you when you aren't paying attention because you're wrapped up in the hubbub of daily life.

I had apparently really missed spinning, because I've already finished my singles and am ready to start plying today. I don't know if I'll finish today (I really can't predict what will pop up for work), but I will certainly finish it soon.

Also in the "to be finished soon" category is the charity hat I started last week. I took it to my board meeting the other evening and got quite a bit knit, so now I'm working on the ribbing until I either run out of yarn or get tired of it, whichever comes first.

Speaking of time flying, today marks the five-year anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. It still feels like it happened yesterday, even though so much has happened since then. Tonight we will be going to Shabbat services, which will be conducted jointly by our congregation and Tree of Life, and we will remember the lives of the 11 members of our community who were taken from us.

Tomorrow we'll be attending my brother and sister-in-law's annual Halloween party, and I can't wait to see what my nephew is going to be dressed as! Then, on Sunday, Mo and I are going to our local fiber festival, making its return after two years.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Unraveled, Week 43/2023

It's that time again -- time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers! And this week I have a finished project to share:

I completed these socks for my sister-in-law on Monday evening, and they've obviously not yet been blocked (I don't think socks need to be blocked, for the record, but I do it for socks I'm giving as a gift, so that they're both clean and look nice). My SIL has rather large feet -- 9 inches around and 9.5 inches long -- so I stuck to shortie socks so I'd be sure I had enough yarn. In the end, this pair took 87 g of my skein; for comparison, a pair for me, with a 7 inch leg, usually uses about 85 g.

After finishing those up, I finally gave in to my urge to spin again and got back to work on my Southern Cross Fibre project. At this moment, I have 11 bags of fiber to spin, all from this year (though only seven of those are club shipments -- the remaining four were prizes). I decided to continue working my way forward chronologically and pulled out February's shipment, Rock Art on South African Superfine. Here is what the fiber looked like:

I decided to try something I learned about in my spinning class at SSK over the summer -- spinning marled singles by holding two pieces of fiber and drafting them together. This is supposed to give a tweedy effect when the yarn is plied. So I broke up my fiber into a bunch of smaller strips and am combining them more or less randomly. I'm spinning all my singles onto one bobbin and will ply from both ends when I'm done.

I have not done as much reading as I would have liked in the past week because of work, but I finished two books (both of them last night and both from the Booker longlist).

Old God's Time
follows retired police detective Tom Kettle as a visit from some younger detectives forces him to reflect on his life and his work, particularly on some rather ugly cases of physical and sexual abuse on the part of Catholic priests. While I think this book was well written, I also found it very confusing. There's a bit of a rambling quality to it, and on top of this, it's hard to know what is real and what is Kettle's dream or imagination. I was never sure if the things he was experiencing were actually happening or not and whether this uncertainty was due to his senility or just what he wished his reality would be, and as a result I just couldn't figure out what had really happened in his past. I gave it 3 stars.

All the Little Bird-Hearts is a slightly unusual book in that it doesn't have a very dynamic plot -- it's about Sunday and her teenage daughter, Dolly, and their interactions with the couple who move into the house next door to them -- but it does provide a somewhat unusual perspective in that Sunday, the narrator, is autistic, and thus the entire story is seen through the lens of how she understands what is happening. I really valued getting this idea of what it must be to be inside the mind of an autistic person (notably, the author's bio indicates that she, like her main character, is autistic). Sunday struggles to understand and be a good parent to her daughter while doing things in her own way to maintain her sense of equilibrium. It's a beautifully written book. I gave it 4 stars. [Note: This book won't be published in the United States until later this year, but you can buy it now from Blackwell's. If you're so inclined to order it, you can click over to Blackwell's using my affiliate link in the sidebar.]

I've now got two titles on the Booker longlist left to read, and they're sitting on my nightstand in the hope I can get them read before the winner is announced next month. Currently, though, I'm working my way through the audio of The Lacuna. I've got about five and a half hours left, but I'm listening at 1.75x speed, so probably only 3-4 hours of actual listening time. That may take me longer than I'd like, though, because I just got sent another big report to edit for work and I have a board meeting tonight. At least for the latter I'll have some knitting to work on!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, October 23, 2023

Monday Again, Really?

I don't know about you, but I had a really hard time getting up this morning. Monday always seems to come around too quickly, even when I have an extra day in my weekend.

It was nice having Friday off, though it wasn't a particularly relaxing day. I spent most of it in my kitchen, either cooking or doing dishes, and I still hit my step count goal for the day despite not actually getting out for a walk or a run (it rained all day long). We had a really nice dinner, though, and I got some much-needed baby snuggles from my nephew, who, at almost 6 months old, is in a very smiley phase:

I got less crafting done over the weekend than I thought I would, but I am in the home stretch on my sister-in-law's socks. I finished the heel yesterday and am now cruising through the foot. My goal is to finish these up this week, and I'm very confident that will happen.

I'm really itching to start a new spinning project, but I haven't yet because I know I'll be completed consumed by it when I do and I want to make sure I finish the socks. But I've already started plotting what I'll spin next and whether I will continue to work forward in chronological order or skip ahead.

Today will be all about getting caught up at work. I have a big project to finish that my boss sent me Thursday afternoon, despite the fact that she was on vacation and she knew I was off on Friday. I am hoping that once I get that off my plate, things will be calmer!

Friday, October 20, 2023

It's the Little Things

It is a dark, rainy Friday here. I've taken the day off to hang out with Mo (she's off because it's a parent/teacher conference day after a week of standardized testing), and though I let my alarm go off at the regular time this morning, I decided I could allow myself to snooze once. When I came downstairs, I added a little extra coffee to the pot so I could have two full cups in my favorite mug. The news has been hard this week, so I am trying to focus on life's little pleasures, like this view I had while on my walk yesterday morning -- that tree on the right was already a gorgeous shade of orange, but I happened to catch it as a beam of sunlight was hitting it, making it look like it was on fire:

One good thing to come out of this week? I finished my socks!

Pattern: Lot of Socks by Lisa K. Ross, size Medium
Yarn: West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply (75% wool/25% nylon) in Black and Rum Runner
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) and US 1 (2.25 mm)
Started/Completed: October 4/October 18

This pattern is one that is a lot easier than it looks. It's mosaic colorwork, which means you're only ever knitting with one color. That does mean that my fabric is still a little wonky, despite having washed the socks and smoothed them out a little to dry. I expect that as I wear them, everything will even out. They knit up pretty quickly, which I credit to the larger-than-usual needles I was using. It's amazing how much of a difference 0.75 millimeters can make!

In addition to keeping my eye out for bits of beauty and joy, a way of dealing with the heartache in the world at the moment has been small efforts to help others. These may not directly help with the current situation in the Middle East or other places where there is conflict, there are always people in need and always people who can be helped. Yesterday I made my fourth successful blood donation of the year; this was my 17th donation since I started actively focusing on it a few years ago. And because it's been a while since I last knit one, I cast on for a charity hat:

I'm using the variegated skein from the set I used for my COVID blanket, which I think looks a little like camouflage -- not really my aesthetic, but I know someone will love it. I'm using my top-down any yarn/any gauge pattern (Ravelry link) and plan to use up all the yarn if I can.

My parents are in Florida this month, so tonight we're taking dinner over to my brother and sister-in-law's house. Today Mo and I will be baking challah and a cake for dessert, and we're going to use some of our butternut squash to try a variation on a recipe I found online (subbing sun-dried tomatoes for the prosciutto and probably eliminating some of the butter). It's supposed to rain pretty much all day, so we will hang out at home and do some crafting in between active cooking time.

There's a lot of ugliness out there right now, friends, so remember to put your own oxygen mask on first. Have a the best weekend available to you, and take care.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Unraveled, Week 42/2023

Kat is on vacation this week but was kind enough to make sure there's a post and link party for us Unravelers, so here's my midweek update on what I'm making and reading.

I'd really hoped to have a finished pair of socks to share this morning, but I just ran out of time last night. The good news is that I will have a finished pair before the day is over because I only have a toe to finish (and some ends to weave in, but I would have left those for today even if I had finished last night -- my eyes are officially too old to weave in ends in black yarn at night). I will note that I knit pretty much the entire foot of the second sock yesterday, so it was not for lack of trying that I didn't finish.

Reading has been good again this past week, and I've been thankful that work has been quiet enough that I've been able to get a lot of reading time in! I've finished three books in the past week.

Several readers whose opinions I admire recently raved about Day, Michael Cunningham's forthcoming novel, so I had to request it from NetGalley and was so pleased when I was approved. This book gives a slice-of-life view of a family by following its members on the same day on three consecutive years: 2019, 2020, and 2021. Those years alone tell us that the pandemic is going to play a role in the narrative, but I wouldn't call this a pandemic novel. This is a beautifully crafted character study, and the pandemic serves only as a device to amplify the already complicated family dynamics at play. Somehow Cunningham manages to paint a beautiful and complete portrait of a handful of characters and the family they make up even though we only see three days of their lives. These characters feel intensely real and their struggles all too familiar. I was surprised by how much I felt for them despite knowing them for only a brief period of time. I gave it 4 stars. Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

I found myself in need of a short-ish audiobook over the weekend, and in browsing what was available from the library came across A Living Remedy, a memoir by Nicole Chung. I had read and enjoyed her first memoir, and this one very much feels like a continuation. The first book is about coming to terms with her identity as an Asian adoptee of white parents; this one is about her relationship with those parents as an adult and about coming to terms with their deaths. It's sad but also very relatable, and Chung finds a way to write about the hardest parts of her life in a way that is quite moving. I gave it 4 stars.

While I did not manage to finish my sock last night, I did manage to finish The Fraud, Zadie Smith's first foray into historical fiction. This book is based on real people and real events, though some of them seem wild enough to be fiction. Our main character is Eliza Touchet (pronounced "Too-shay"), the housekeeper and cousin-by-marriage of the prolific Victorian writer William Ainsworth, a friend and contemporary of Charles Dickens. Their relationship is complicated, to say the least, and the book takes us through its many decades. At the same time, we learn about the most sensational court case of the time, that of the Tichborne Trial, in which a man claimed to be the long-lost (and believed to be dead) descendant of and heir to the Tichborne estate. Also involved is a formerly enslaved man named Andrew Bogle, who swears that the claimant is legitimate and who fascinates Eliza. There's a lot going on in this book, and it jumps around quite a lot in time. I found the first half to be a bit of a slog, but by the time I reached Bogle's story/history, I was in it. I think Smith has quite a lot to say about society and women's roles in it, about what is considered to be the truth, and of course about class and colonialism. I'd also say we could have a long discussion about just which one of the characters is the titular fraud. I gave this one 4 stars as well.

I'm currently reading All the Little Bird-Hearts (it's not a long book, but I'm reading it before bed and thus don't manage very many pages at a time) and am hoping to start The Lacuna for the next Kingsolver-along discussion.

What are you making and reading this week.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Just What I Needed

It is a gloomy Monday morning here (pretty typical for this time of year, actually), but I am caffeinated and ready to kick off a new week after a restful weekend. If there's any indication that I needed a weekend, I think it's the fact that I slept for 9+ hours Friday night. I was also up at 4:30 this morning (I heard Mo walking around and was worried -- she woke up with cramps and was up taking Advil), so there's a very good possibility of a cat nap or two this afternoon.

We had a very wet Saturday -- it literally rained All Day -- so it was a good day for going to see a long movie. The girls had a great time, and the Mister and I were pretty entertained as well. The Eras Tour movie is much like attending the concert, except you can actually see the details up close without having to pay exorbitant fees for tickets right next to the stage. My plan for knitting for the movie was to take my sister-in-law's socks, as I'd hoped to have gotten through the heel by the time we went. I ended up not quite getting through the last of it, and I tried to finish up in the theater but made some blunder and ended up having to take it out in the hall to fix. But then I was good to go and ended up knitting quite a lot of the sock.

At this point I think I only have about an inch or so of the foot left to knit before I start the toe!

Yesterday the weather was better, but it was still chilly and damp, so another good day to stay inside. I focused on the second sock of my colorwork pair, and getting through that one is my top priority this week.

I am obviously not worried about the socks matching; the color repeat is long and frankly I just don't care. I think this second sock is going faster now that I know exactly what's happening. I got through about one repeat of the stripe pattern yesterday afternoon while babysitting two large pots of chicken stock. I'd depleted my stores of frozen stock when I had COVID, so I thought this was a good opportunity to restock (I always like to have some soup in the freezer in the winter). I've now got about four quarts of it, and when I skimmed off the fat this morning, I found that the broth was more of a gel, which tells me it's a good strong stock.

I am hoping this week will be fairly calm, though I have quite a lot of meetings on my calendar. My boss is off all this week, and I'm taking the day off on Friday, partly because I needed to use some PTO and partly because Mo will be off from school (they have standardized testing this week and then parent/teacher conferences). I hope that I'll be able to end the week with a finished pair of socks!

Friday, October 13, 2023

That Was Fast

It's Friday! This week has simultaneously felt long and short, but I'm always happy to see Friday come. I've not slept well this week, so I am looking forward to a couple of days without the early alarm.

The title of this post refers to how quickly this sock has knit up -- but for weaving in my ends (which I didn't do because I really couldn't see well enough to do it last night when I finished), the first sock is finished!

Blocking is obviously in order as well.

It turns out that knitting a sock on size 2/2.75 mm needles goes pretty quickly! The mosaic colorwork pattern was very easy to memorize, so I've been able to do it even while in meetings and reading. I will get started on the second sock soon, but my first priority will be to get through the heel of my sister-in-law's sock today so I can take it to the movie tomorrow.

The movie is really the only thing we have planned this weekend, though Mo and I are talking about going to Shabbat services tonight. The war in Israel and Gaza has been very much on our minds all this week, and it feels like a good time to be together with our community. It's supposed to be a cool and rainy weekend, which is perfect weather for staying inside with my knitting, a cup of tea, a good book, and maybe a pot of soup on the stove. Happy weekending, friends!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Unraveled, Week 41/2023

It has not been an especially busy week here, and yet this morning I woke up and thought, "Is it really already Wednesday?!" That means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers.

It's been all sock knitting so far this week. I've been wanting to start a new spinning project, but I knew if I did I would end up only spinning and would neglect the socks, so if I want to get the socks done, it's best to hold off. Yesterday I managed to get through the heel turn and the first round of the gusset on the colorwork sock, and I added a bit to my sister-in-law's sock during my morning meeting (I had to be on camera, so I figured it was best to do something I didn't have to look at). My goal is to get through the gusset of that sock by Saturday, when we have plans to see the Taylor Swift concert movie and I'll want some stockinette in the round to work on.

I've had another productive week of reading, with four books finished.

I've been wanting to read A Ghost in the Throat since last year, I think, and was waiting for it to be available from the library on audio -- I knew there was a lot in it in Irish Gaelic that I would never be able to pronounce but wanted to hear it. This is a really beautiful book but one that is difficult to categorize. On the one hand, it's a memoir of those years of motherhood that feel like an endless cycle of nursing, laundry, and not enough sleep (it felt very familiar!). But it's also a work of translation of a poem from the 1700s, a work of literary criticism, and a piece that asks questions about whose voices and lives are remembered. It's a really beautiful work, no matter how you classify it. 5 stars!

There was a lot of buzz around Wellness in the past several weeks, so I put it on "notify me" on Libby and was able to put it on hold immediately when my library got it, which meant I waited only a day or two. This is a long (600+ pages!) book that's about a marriage but also about many other things -- so many other things! It's clear that writing this book required extensive research (there's even a chapter with actual citations to articles in psychological journals, including one written by my Intro to Psychology professor from college) and it tackles so many big topics beyond the relationship at the center. There's a whole section, for instance, on the algorithms used by Facebook and how they might lead someone to getting involved in conspiracy theories, which was a lot more interesting than I would have thought. This is not an easy read because of its scope, but it's masterfully done and I really enjoyed it. It also got 5 stars from me.

Even though two people panned it at our last Read With Us Zoom, I still wanted to read Lauren Groff's latest, The Vaster Wilds, and make my mind up for myself. I was also lucky to be able to put this on hold at the library as soon as it became available, so I waited less and a week to get it, and it took me about two days to read. I didn't love it, but I also didn't hate it. This is a survival story of a young woman who escapes from an early American colony to make her own way in the wilderness. As you can imagine, that is not at all an easy task, and her story is sometimes harrowing. But I think Groff has some important things to say about colonization and the use/misuse of natural resources. I don't think it's her best by any means, but I'm not sorry I read it. I gave it 3 stars.

Finally, in need of an audiobook to keep me company on my workouts and missing my old standby of the Maisie Dobbs series, I borrowed Jacqueline Winspear's latest, The White Lady. The world of Elinor White felt familiar, though she's definitely a departure from Maisie. Rather than an investigator, this protagonist is a full-on spy who was involved in efforts in both World Wars. She's what I imagined Maisie would become if her story had kept going. There was no mystery to unravel per se in this book but rather a character's reckoning with her past and a truth to be uncovered. I'm not sure if this is meant to be the start of a new series or a standalone novel, but I enjoyed it either way! I gave it 4 stars.

At the moment, I'm reading an ARC of Day by Michael Cunningham and hope to finish it in the next day (ha!) or two as work allows. And perhaps then I will get back to the books that I've been in the middle of for too long!

Monday, October 09, 2023

Weekend Wrap-up

I thought it was going to be a relaxing weekend, but somehow I managed to fill almost every minute of it, so I'm actually looking forward to the relative calm of a working Monday to reset now! Fall arrived in earnest this morning. After we had one last day of warmth and sun on Friday, we woke up on Saturday to downright chilly temps. It made for good running weather for the race first thing Saturday morning, though because I'd promised to stick with Mo for the whole thing and she does not have much experience running, we walked most of it and finished ahead of exactly two people (at least according to the official results). We did sprint the last stretch to the finish line, though, and finished under 40 minutes, which isn't bad for Mo's first time out! We're planning to do some training runs ahead of the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, but there are many more participants in that race, so I'm pretty confident we'll have a better showing.

Waiting at the start line

On Saturday afternoon, after I'd cleaned bathrooms and done laundry, I sat down at my wheel to ply the singles I finished on Friday. I decided to chain-ply to preserve the brilliant colors, and I'm delighted with the results:

The finished yarn is a light fingering and approximately 420 yards. I wish I could show in a photo how much drape it has and how soft it is! I am tempted to just wear the skein around my neck, but I'm sure it'll find some worth project at some point. This was also my last remaining fiber club shipment from 2022, which means this status photo I took at the beginning of the year can finally be deleted:

The total count for the year is now at 28, and even more impressive is that according to my counter in the sidebar over there -> I've now spun more than 10,000 yards of yarn this year.

My other crafting time this weekend was spent working on two pairs of socks, the colorwork ones I shared last week and a new pair for my sister-in-law (the one on the Mister's side) using yarn that just arrived from the Fibernymph Dye Works Lepidoptera club -- the colorway is Luna Moth.

I'm really enjoying how the colorwork is going so far, even if it means slower progress. As to the new socks, I've only done the picot hem so far; this sister-in-law has fairly wide feet, so to ensure I have enough yarn for the pair, she'll be getting ankle socks.

In not-so-happy news, we've been watching what's happening in Israel with dismay. It has been hard to support Israel in recent years because I do not at all approve of the government or how it has treated the Palestinians, but it's a special place for me and I will always support its right to exist and the right of Israelis to live in peace. While there's a lot of blame to go around, I think everyone can agree that kidnapping civilians, especially women, children, and the elderly, is abhorrent. We do have some distant family there (cousins we've never met but who my aunt has connected with in her genealogy work), and Mo has been in contact with her cousin -- my aunt introduced them over email because they were born the same day. They are far enough away from the conflict that they are safe for the moment, but everyone is terrified. The conflicts in the Middle East go back so far that I doubt we'll ever seen a resolution, and I fear what is happening there will spread to more instances of anti-Semitism here. It's all so heartbreaking, and I'm feeling very much at a loss for what to do. I just wish we lived in a world where people were able to see the humanity in each other more, even and perhaps especially when they have different points of view.

I'm sorry to end this post on such a downer, but such is life! I hope your Monday is the best that it can be. See you back here on Wednesday.

Friday, October 06, 2023

What a Week

TGIF, friends. It's a dark and rainy Friday here; a cold front is coming in, bringing an end to the summery weather and the arrival of Sweater Weather (I'm not sorry -- I want to wear my woolies!). Despite a calm week in terms of workload, it's been a long one.

First, an update on the washing machine: The technician came on Wednesday and, unsurprisingly, couldn't do anything because he didn't have the right parts. But the Mister, who isn't very handy around the house but is really good at Googling things, had found the parts online and ordered them, and when they showed up shortly after the technician's visit, he thought he'd try to see if he could replace them. I guess it was an easy fix, because shortly afterward, we were doing laundry again! So far, everything seems to be fine, and I'm reassured that the washer would not turn on if the door wasn't locking, so at least I don't have to worry about flooding the laundry room.

I have made only very small start to my new socks, but I think doing a tubular cast-on and ribbing in black yarn at night deserves a little recognition. I have a bit more ribbing still to do and then I'll start the colorwork.

My main focus the past several days has been spinning (I know, you're all shocked). I am hoping to finish up these singles today:

I still have not decided how I am going to ply these, though I have a little time before I have to decide. When I started spinning, I thought I would do a two ply, plying from both ends, but the singles are turning out rather fine, meaning a two ply would be a lace weight. So then I started considering chain-plying, which would get me a fingering. I posted a poll on my Instagram Stories with photos of plyback samples, and the majority of people seem to be in agreement with that.

Two ply on the left, chain-ply on the right

I will be working on finishing up the singles today in between a lot of baking -- my parents are headed to Florida tomorrow, so I offered to host Friday night dinner, and that means baking challah plus a cake for dessert (I'm trying out a recipe for Apple Cider Donut Cake!). Tomorrow, we're running (or running and walking) as a family in the neighborhood 5K that's a fundraiser for the local Boys & Girls Club -- it's returning after several years away due to the pandemic. This will be Mo's first race, and I told her I'd stick with her, so I'm sure this will be my worst time ever, but that's okay. We're also signed up for the local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, so this can be seen as a training run.

Finally, I did want to mention some design news! I have two patterns out with Knit Picks, one existing and one new. First, my Obfuscation pattern was chosen to be part of an Independent Designer Partnership Showcase, and I knit up a new sample using a rainbow set of mini skeins:

You can still buy the pattern directly from me, but now it's also available from Knit Picks (linked above), and you can conveniently purchase a mini skein set at the same time if you so choose.

Brand new is a pattern I've been keeping secret for a while: Funnel Vision.

This is a super cozy cowl knit in fluffy Swish Bulky yarn in brioche stitch. If you've mastered basic brioche and want to expand your skills a bit, this is the perfect pattern for it, as it introduces simple brioche increases. I envisioned this pattern as a cowl with a bit of a sweater attached -- there are raglan increases that mimic the top of a sweater yoke, and that shaping helps it sit perfectly atop your shoulders. Plus, you get a bit of extra fabric so you don't get that one spot where the cold wind can get in when you fasten your coat and there's that one area right on your chest that's uncovered. At the moment, this pattern is exclusive to Knit Picks, so you can get it individually (link above) or as part of the Déja Yarn: Single Color Stashbusters collection.

Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Unraveled, Week 40/2023

Would you look at that number up above? Somehow we only have 12 weeks left this year, and I don't like it one bit -- it's going by way too quickly. September still feels like it was only two weeks long, though I guess being down with COVID for two weeks will do that to you. In any case, it's Wednesday, and that means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers! I am happy to kick things off with a completed pair of socks:

Pattern (such as it is): 68 stitches, stockinette, with a tubular cast-on and forethought afterthought heel
Yarn: Woolens and Nosh superwash Targhee fingering (411 yds./100 g) in Boss Ass Bitch; used ~333 yds./81 g
Needles: US 0/2.0 mm
Started/Completed: September 7/October 3

Mary asked for a photo of these on my feet, so here's a bonus shot:

An afterthought heel is never going to fit my feet as well as a flap and gusset, but I do like what it does with the stripes. It's not something I'll do very often (I think this is maybe my third pair ever?). These are a snug fit, though they've not yet been washed. But snug socks are a good thing, because they usually loosen as they're worn.

Because it's Socktober, I will soon be casting on another pair of socks using this pattern (Ravelry link) and these yarns:

West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply

Reading has been excellent the past week, and I can officially say that I have read all of the Booker shortlist. I was also thinking that if the authors of the four books I finished this past week were in a band, they'd be called Paul, Paul, Paul, and Mary.
The Bee Sting is the book I kept wanting to get back to reading but was repeatedly thwarted by work. When I finally had the time to really focus on it, I was able to speed through it. This family story is told from the point of view of its four members, and we learn all about their history, their mistakes, and their regrets. Though the whole story is told by an omniscient narrator, each character has their own unique voice (and in the case of the mother, that means no punctuation whatsoever, which I adjusted to but was still quite annoyed by). There's something sinister coming at the end of the book, and you can tell from the very beginning; as you get further into the book, the pace really picks up and point of view changes more rapidly. (Who was it who said that the pacing reminded them of Birnam Wood? Because that comparison was spot on.) It's a long book -- 600+ pages -- but well worth reading, though I found Imelda's sections to be somewhat of a slog because of the punctuation issue. I gave it 4 stars.

Mary recommended Wild and Precious: A Celebration of Mary Oliver several weeks back, so I'd put it in my favorites on Hoopla for when I needed some audio to listen to. This is billed as an audiobook but is really more of a long-form podcast. It is exactly what the title says and features reflections on Mary Oliver and her poetry by celebrities, former students, and academics. The best part is that it includes clips of Mary Oliver herself reading her own poems. Even though there is some discussion of dark topics, the mood is light and every word is enjoyable. And at only around four hours, this is something you can squeeze in when you need a break from heavier reading. I gave it 4 stars.

Speaking of heavier reading, on the same day, I finished Prophet Song, a book I put down only to sleep, shower, and exercise after starting it. This book has been called dystopian, but to me, it felt very possible. It takes place in, we assume, present day in the Republic of Ireland, where a totalitarian regime has taken control of the government and instituted "emergency powers" that allow it to take away more and more rights and silence those who speak out against it -- but in such a way that people don't really realize what's happening until it's too late. It is, I imagine, quite similar to how things started in Nazi Germany, and it is so chilling because it feels very much like it could happen today. I can't say that I loved this books, but I was absolutely enthralled by it and could not stop thinking about it when I wasn't reading it. The writing is fabulous, though the style is a bit unconventional. This isn't a book I would recommend to most people, but if you're a fan of, say, The Handmaid's Tale or other books that are fiction but read like they could be true, you would enjoy this. I gave it 5 stars, for the artistry and the compelling story.

My final title for the shortlist (and my final Paul) was This Other Eden, an imagined tale of a tiny real-life island off the coast of Maine that was home to a multiracial group of inhabitants who were forcibly removed from the island at the behest of racist eugenicists. There isn't much of a plot to this book (other than the inhabitants' removal toward the end), but the book tells the history of the family who originally settled on the island and about the current residents, who are all quirky and unusual but lovable. And the writing! I think the writing is the best part about this book. I do wish Paul Harding had included some historical facts about what actually happened, but I will just have to do that research on my own. I gave it 4 stars, mostly because of the writing. (Also, this one is short -- just a little more than 200 pages. I started it Sunday night right before bed and finished it Monday before dinner.)

I still have some other titles from the Booker longlist that I want to read, but now that I've read the finalists, I don't feel as much urgency to get through them. I am currently reading Wellness, which I know a number of you have already read or are in the middle of. I had asked my Libby app to notify me when my library got it, and I put it on hold as soon as I got the notification, so I ended up first in line for it.

Today is washer repair day -- please send good thoughts that they are actually able to fix it because I have about five loads of laundry that need to be done!

Monday, October 02, 2023

Weekending in the Sun

It was a beautiful weekend here, one that felt more like summer than fall, with highs in the 80s and lots of sunshine. I said we didn't have much planned, but somehow I managed to fill the time with a lot of activity. Mo and I really enjoyed the musical (though we snuck out a little early, during the encore, to beat the crowds rushing to the parking lots), and I got a lot of sock knit during it. We got there early so as to be able to park in the closest lot, and I managed to just get my waste yarn in for the afterthought heel before the house lights went down. You can see just how much I got knit after my last progress shot on Friday:

I only have a little more to knit on the foot of the second sock before the toe, and I think I should be able to finish all of it today. Then it's just the heels!

I also started spinning up the fiber I posted last week, and as I predicted, the high silk content is translating to very fine singles:

What you see on the bobbin is the result of about an hour of spinning -- not much at all! We'll see how long this spin takes me, but my next club shipment is due to be delivered today, so that's good motivation to keep at it.

We've got a typically busy week ahead of us. Mo's got play practice after school, she and I are going to get flu shots tomorrow evening (the Mister already got his at the doctor when he went in for his annual physical), and they're supposed to come and repair the washing machine (fingers crossed!) on Wednesday. I am hoping that after being very busy the last couple of weeks, work is a bit calmer this week. At least it's starting off bright and sunny!