Friday, March 29, 2024

Home Again

Even though I didn't sleep particularly well, it was good to wake up in my own bed this morning. We got in last night a little after 9. Our flight was a little delayed, but I guess we made up some time in the air because we landed only about 20 minutes late. Mo and I managed to get seats in the fourth row of the plane, so we got off quickly and were at baggage claim before our bags. My mother had very nicely arranged a car service for us to take us home, and a nice benefit of arriving in the evening is that there was little traffic on the way home. If it were not a very busy time at work, I would have planned to take today off, but I've got a bunch of stuff to do today. At least I can do it from the comfort of home!

Yesterday was a busy day (I worked in the morning, then had to do a last load of laundry and back), but I did fit in some knitting. I'm all ready for theater knitting tomorrow, with one sock done and one through the gusset decreases:

I have a fair amount of foot to knit during the show, provided I'm not up and dancing for too much of it. Getting the whole sock done by tomorrow night plus blocked and dry to give to my sister-in-law by Sunday might be a bit of a stretch, but I'll try my best!

Today is just a normal day, though this evening we're going to Friday night services at our synagogue for the formal installation of our congregation's first-ever cantor. A pretty big crowd is expected, so it should be a nice event. And other than the show tomorrow, we have plans to have brunch with some friends and our siblings (and their kids) on Sunday. If you're celebrating Easter this weekend, I hope it's a lovely day! 

I'll leave you with a little bit of eye candy, something you will likely only see in the southeast, where there's frequently humid weather. I don't know if this is a thing elsewhere, but in the development where my parents have their house, where many people are only in residence part of the year, people don't throw out orchids when they leave town but instead tie them to trees in their yards. There's enough moisture in the air to keep the plants alive, and over time they get attached to the trees. My parents tried this for the first time last year, and though their tying left a lot to be desired (because the orchid fell down almost to the ground), it seems to have worked, and when I came back from a very hot and humid run on Wednesday, I discovered it was blooming:

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Unraveled, Week 13/2024

Good morning, friends, and happy Wednesday! This is our last full day in Florida, and it's going to be a hot one -- high of 86ºF! I'm going to be sure to get some sunshine today because while the weather has improved at home while we've been away, there's gloom and rain in the forecast this weekend.

Today it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers and to talk about what I've been making and reading in the past week. My focus has mainly been on two projects. First, my handspun Bereket (Ravelry link):

I have officially completed the textured stitch section and have worked most of the short-row shaping on the first half of the front. This section has been moving a lot faster, both because of the short rows and because I'm working in stockinette -- those bobble rows took me about an hour each! I've also used up my first skein of yarn and joined the second; I was worried I was going to be cutting it close because I have just tad more than the pattern calls for in my size, but I am feeling more confident now.

I also started a new pair of shortie socks for my sister-in-law, whose birthday was this past Sunday. I always knit her shortie socks because she has some rather large feet -- 9.5 inches long and 9.25 inches around!

I'm using Knit Picks Felici in the Lassi colorway, and I've got about half an inch left to knit before I start the toe. I expect I'll be able to wrap it up today, given that I have two work meetings today and a synagogue board meeting this evening. We'll be seeing my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephews this coming Sunday, so just maybe I can get the second sock cranked out so I can give her her birthday gift only a week late.

It's been another good week of reading, and I've finished two more books:

The Berry Pickers is one of those books that I've seen everywhere, and my mother had a copy here when we arrived. It's a very quick read -- I started it last Tuesday and had finished it by dinner on Wednesday -- but it's also enjoyable. The berry pickers of the title are an Indigenous family from Canada who travel to Maine each summer to pick blueberries. But one summer, the unthinkable happens and the family's youngest child, 4-year-old Ruthie, disappears without a trace. We learn about the repercussions of this tragedy from her brother, Joe, who is looking back on his life as he is dying of cancer. His chapters alternate with those of Norma, an only child from Maine who grows up in a home where she feels smothered by her mother's protectiveness and anxiety about her. Eventually these two stories converge, and I'll admit I knew exactly how from the outset. In spite of knowing exactly where the story was going, I enjoyed the journey. I gave it 4 stars.

Having just finished Julia Phillips's first novel, I was excited to see that her forthcoming novel, Bear, was still available from NetGalley (I know several of you have already read it). This is the story mainly of two sisters, Sam and Elena, who live on a small island off the coast of Washington state with their dying mother. They've just emerged from the lockdown days of COVID and are trapped menial jobs to pay the mounting bills -- Elena at the local country club and Sam at the snack bar on the local ferry. The plan is to keep it up until their mother dies, at which point they can sell the land their house sits on and leave the island to start a new life elsewhere. But that plan is thrown into complete disarray when a bear -- yes, an actual bear -- shows up at their door. The bear's arrival changes everything, including the relationship between the sisters, and leads to a surprising ending. This is a tense and slightly weird novel, but the writing is great. I gave it 4 stars.
I received a digital ARC of this book from Random House/Hogarth in return for an honest review. This book will be published June 25, 2024.

I had just started an ARC of Elif Shafak's new novel when I got a notification that my hold on Iron Flame was ready for me from the library, so that's been consuming me all this week. I've got about 300 pages left to go and am hoping that I can finish before we get home.

I'd love to hear what you are working on and reading this week!

Monday, March 25, 2024

Better in 2024: March

It's the last Monday in March, and that means it's time for a One Little Word check-in. Thanks to Carolyn for hosting our monthly link-ups!

If last month was about physically healing, then this month was about being Better about being mindful and aware so that I don't hurt myself again. Really focusing on being present in the moment is something I've given the Mister a hard time about for years (he's always got his mind on work and often misses what's in front of him), but if I'm being honest, I'm not always so good about doing it myself. It's very easy for me to get lost in thought when I'm doing something that I've done so many times that it's automatic, and aside from the potential to get hurt (as was the case with my fall last month), it also means that I may be missing out on seeing and experiencing things.

Case in point: In the development where my parents' house is in Florida, there's a paved sidewalk that makes a big loop. If I go out to this loop, go around once, and come back to their house, it's just a bit more than 6 miles. I don't have to think about where to turn; I just follow the path. I have to pay enough attention to not get hit by a car when I cross streets or not to trip on some uneven spots, but otherwise I can get lost in my thoughts or what I'm listening to. But not paying attention to my surroundings means I'm missing out on the beauty around me. There is so much blooming at this time of year. There are so many birds we don't have at home or that are rare there. I've seen a woodpecker just about every day I've been out (two yesterday alone!). There are all sorts of lizards scurrying about. And of course there are other walkers and runners and sometimes dogs. I'm not quite to the point where I'm just walking or running to silence (I still need something engaging in my ears), but I think I'm doing a much better job of actually seeing what's in front of me and appreciating it.

Friday, March 22, 2024

A Friday FO

We've been lucky to have some beautiful weather here in Southwest Florida since we arrived late last week, but this morning we woke to rain -- rain that will likely stick around all day. It's a bummer, but it happens. Really all that means for me today is that I'll do an aerobic workout indoors rather than go for a run, and frankly my knees probably won't mind one bit. (On Wednesday, when it was cooler and the humidity was low, I ran only my second-ever 10K without stopping, so they could use a little extra rest from hitting the pavement!)

Thankfully the sun was out yesterday when I bound off my Hitchhiker:

I have a little bit of yarn left but definitely not enough for another repeat, so I decided to bind off when I got to the last "tooth" on the end. I'm a little bummed that I only have 41 teeth -- I was hoping for 43 to match my age! -- but I'm so happy with how the yarn worked up that I can't really be too disappointed. Every minute of knitting this was pure delight and so fast, especially when you consider that it took me less than a month to spin the yarn and knit the shawl. I really think this is the perfect pattern for handspun because you can work at any gauge and knit basically until you run out of yarn. I suspect I will be casting on a new one shortly after we get home and I have access to my handspun stash again.

Mo's friend went home yesterday, but today my best friend's parents -- longtime family friends -- are coming to stay with us overnight before they drive over to Miami to see their youngest daughter and her family, so we'll have some good company. And on Sunday we're planning to drive to the other side of the state to see my aunt and uncle. So we should have a nice weekend.

I'll leave you today with the rainbow I've been seeing every day as I walk or run past one of the many fountains in this development. Also, if you haven't seen it already, be sure to go visit Bonny's blog to see her stunning version of my Hydrophily pattern.

Have a great weekend! See you back here on Monday for a One Little Word check-in!

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Unraveled, Week 12/2024

I have to admit that I woke up this morning very confused about what day it was (I blame the strange dreams I was having overnight), but I am now certain that it's Wednesday, which means it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers!

I've been very focused on my Hitchhiker the past couple of days, as it's simple enough that I can work on it while I'm in a meeting or reading many, many pages of names of graduating students (the longest list I've had so far was 42 pages). I'm now at 36 teeth and can tell that I've reached the last of the three strips of fiber (if you look closely, you'll see two sections where there's a small bit of orange between reds; that's where the strips of fiber were joined when I spun the singles).

I'm definitely in the home stretch on this shawl and feel pretty confident that I will finish it before we go home. My skein of yarn weighed 119 g when I started, and I'm now down to 28 remaining. I'm hoping I can get to 42 teeth, but it's really not that important.

Reading has been quite good this week, even though I haven't had as much time for it as I'd like the past couple of days. I've finished two books.

Disappearing Earth is one I've had on my TBR for a while and happened to find available from the library when I needed a new audiobook. This book has a really interesting structure. It takes place over the course of the year, with each month as its own chapter, on Russia's remote Kamchatka peninsula. It opens with the abduction of two young girls, and each chapter that follows is almost a short story focused on a different woman. Initially there doesn't seem to be a connection between the characters, but all of them are tangentially related in some way and all are tied together by the common struggles of women everywhere -- motherhood, strained relationships, work, etc. There's also quite a lot of interesting study of issues more unique to the location, such as the underlying tension between native peoples and Russians, frustrations with capitalism versus the more familiar former Soviet system, and the impacts of climate change. I really enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars -- and I'm looking forward to reading an ARC of the author's new book.

I went even further into back list for my other finish with Brideshead Revisited, which I wanted to read before it's discussed on Novel Pairings later this month. I'd never read it and though I know I'd seen one of the movie versions years ago, I remember being distracted while watching and thus not making much sense of the film. This book was a bit of a slow start for me, but I was hooked about halfway through. I'll admit as a late-20th-century American woman, a lot of terminology about Oxford was lost on me, but I don't think it really mattered all that much in the long run. The writing is excellent, and it was a nice break to read something that is set at least partially during a World War that isn't really about the war at all. I gave it 4 stars as well.
I'm currently reading The Berry Pickers, which I only started yesterday but am already about a third of the way through and am really enjoying. I don't imagine it will take me very long to finish. In addition to the ARC of Julia Phillips's new book, I also have another one waiting for me by Elif Shafak that sounds really intriguing.

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 18, 2024

Faux Vacationing

I am happy to report that we have made it to Florida. Our flight was a bit bumpy at times, but Mo was well dosed with Dramamine and suffered no sickness, and we even arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule! It made for a late night, however. We landed around 10, and by the time we got our luggage and drove to my parents' house, it was nearly 11. My mother was waiting with fresh waffles (we didn't eat much of a real dinner at the airport), so we ate and unpacked and it was after midnight by the time we went to bed. I honestly can't remember the last time I was up that late willingly! I will say that the benefit of coming late on a Friday night is that I had a whole weekend to enjoy being here before I have to get back to work today. And let me tell, I did take advantage of it! I slept in, I went for long walks, I went for dips in the pool, I read for pleasure. It's been warm and sunny and delightful.

Reading Brideshead Revisited while dipping my feet in the pool

I worked on my Hitchhiker a bit at the gate in Pittsburgh and on the plane, adding a couple of teeth, but I've mainly been working on my Bereket the past two days. I'm well into the textured section on the first side, and while it's a lot slower to work than the stockinette, it's quite engaging -- though the bobble/welt rows do take a long time (especially if you read the directions incorrectly and have to rip out and redo a row, as was the case last night).

Today is likely to be busy at work, but I plan to go for a run this morning and I can certainly take my laptop outside on the lanai and enjoy the weather while I work. Hope the week is off to a good start for you!

Friday, March 15, 2024

No Such Thing as a Day Off

Good morning and happy Friday, friends! Technically I am on vacation today -- it's spring break week at the university, and staff always get the Friday of spring break week off as a holiday. But I have so much to do today that it may as well be a normal workday. I got up at the normal time to get Mo to a 7:30 orthodontist appointment (fast once she was called back, and she doesn't have to go back for eight weeks), and now I have a list of things to do before I go to pick her and her friend up from school and we head for the airport. I really don't want to come home to a pile of laundry and other chores to do, so yesterday I did a couple of loads of laundry and today I'm doing sheets and towels and cleaning bathrooms. The weather is pretty crummy, gray and rainy, so I'm going to postpone my run until tomorrow, but it should clear up later today.

That rain did make it hard to take a decent photo, so please excuse this shot of my Bereket in progress:

I've finished the first sleeve section and started working back and forth on the first textured section. I did the first row of what the designer calls bobbles but what I'd call welts, which take a bit of time to do but are really fun to look at. I'm sure I messed up a few, but I don't think you can really tell with the texture of the yarn. This project is coming with me on the trip, as is my Hitchhiker, the new design (not yet cast on), and yarn for a pair of socks just in case. I'm fairly certain that should be sufficient, especially because next week will be a busy one at work.

And now I'd better get back to my to-do list. I hope you have a great weekend, and I'll see you back here on Monday with some progress photos from Florida!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Unraveled, Week 11/2024

We are back into spring here in Western Pennsylvania, and this week is moving right along. My appointments went well on Monday (my doctor actually seemed surprised by how many miles I cover every week, so I suppose I'm not the average middle-aged woman in that respect at least?), and I've started to make lists for packing. The trip will be here before I know it! But before then, it's time to link up with Kat and the Unravelers.

I have continued to work on my sweater -- which doesn't look all that different, though I'm getting closer to starting the fun textured part -- and on my Hitchhiker, which has grown:

I'm still at that point in the shawl where it feels like it'll be done in no time, but I know the rows are soon going to start taking longer. I'm extremely pleased with how the colors are transitioning, and it's also rather exciting that a number of other spinners in the Southern Cross Fibre Ravelry group have started their own SCF handspun Hitchhikers (or other similar shawls). I've never considered myself a trendsetter before, but I suppose there's a first time for everything!

The shawl and the sweater will both be coming to Florida with me, and I also wound yarn yesterday for a new design project that will involve some stranded colorwork:

On the left is a very bright self-striping from Geektastic Fibers in a colorway called Dolly (as it Parton); it was the show colorway at SSK last year. On the right is a tonal from Marianated Yarns in the colorway Indigo Bunting. I don't know if I'll be able to cast on before we leave, but at least by next week you'll get a peek at what these are going to become.

Reading has been a bit of a mixed bag this week. I've finished three books.

When we left Florida after our December vacation, I came home with a paperback of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo courtesy of my mother, and I picked it up recently because I wanted something fluffier to read before bed. I'm sure some of you have read this already, as it's not a new release. It was entertaining, but just kind of meh for me. I wasn't terribly impressed by the writing, and I felt a bit like I'd already read parts of the book (Do Tell has a similar feel and better writing, in my opinion). This is a book that I would have read on the beach or next to a pool a couple of decades ago, and while it was entertaining, it wasn't great. I gave it 3 stars. I will say that my mother didn't want the book back, so I put it in one of the Little Free Libraries in my neighborhood, and it was gone the same day. I hope that helped balance all the good FLL karma I've had a little!

I can't remember where I heard about Unorthodox Love, likely a podcast, but I'd had it bookmarked on Hoopla, and when over the weekend I again wanted something fluffy, I decided to give it a try and borrowed the audiobook. The premise -- a modern Orthodox woman, well past her prime in her community, trying to find her soulmate -- sounded promising, and while I'm not typically a romance reader, I occasionally enjoy the escapism of the genre. Unfortunately, this was a case of a so-so book getting absolutely ruined by a terrible narrator. I may be expecting too much, but I would hope that any audiobook reader worth their salt would make sure they're pronouncing unfamiliar words correctly, but this reader clearly didn't and completely botched a lot of Hebrew and Yiddish terms (like "moe hole" for "mohel" and "nish" for "knish"). What's worse, she also did it with English words (pronouncing "psalm" as "puh-salm," for example) and even with at least one character's name, pronouncing it two different ways over the course of just a couple of sentences! I try not to be a book snob, but this was so distracting that it pretty much destroyed any chance of enjoying this book. I gave it 2 stars.

The reason I needed fluffy reads was because of the last book I finished (just before bed last night), and I know those of you who have read it will understand. A Little Life is a long, emotional book about four college friends and where their lives take them after college. This is a book with all the content warnings, as the story of one of these friends becomes the focus and more and more of his past is revealed. There are sections about abuse and suffering that are incredibly hard to read -- but you are rewarded by many more sections about the incredible love the characters have for each other and how beautifully they take care of each other. This was a book I simultaneously wanted to finish to find out how it would end and never wanted to stop reading; the writing is beautiful and the characters so well developed. It's a book I'm going to be thinking about for a long time. I gave it 5 stars.

I'm once again in that rare situation where I have no books in progress, but that won't last long!

What are you making and reading this week?

Monday, March 11, 2024

Birthday Weekending

Thank you all for the birthday wishes on Friday! I was able to get all my typical weekend chores done on Friday, so I was able to relax on Saturday and spend the day doing fun things rather than scrubbing toilets and folding laundry. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great -- it rained pretty much all day on Saturday, and on Sunday, despite the fact that the sky looked clear and it was sunny when I left for a run, there were sudden snow squalls and I came home looking like this:

I was soaked and got right into a hot shower! And then I put on wool socks and a wool sweater to warm up.

So, other than having cake this weekend, my birthday was spent doing things I enjoy. I drank good coffee. I realized we had some eggs to use up, so I baked challah (which is in the freezer now for future shabbats):

I read parts of three different books (one on paper, one on audio, and one on Kindle). And I cast on a new sweater in handspun:

This morning I'm headed to the orthodontist first thing to pick up my new/replacement retainer, and later this morning I have my annual check-up at my doctor. And today also starts the countdown to our spring break trip. It's actually a four-day work week for me (it's spring break week, so staff get off Friday for "spring holiday), and our flight is Friday evening, so I've got to start packing! We all know clothing isn't the big decision -- it's what knitting and books to take!

Friday, March 08, 2024

Ending the Week with Smiles

Does it feel to anyone else like it's been a very long week? It hasn't even been a particularly busy one, but yet the days have seemed to crawl by and I've been expecting it to be Friday the past couple of mornings when I've woken up. We've finally made it, though, and I thought I'd finish up the week by sharing some happy things.

First, Mo has a new pair of socks (which she just might need this weekend, when there is yet again snow -- albeit of the nonsticking variety -- in the forecast):

I didn't do anything special with these -- I didn't even bother trying to get the stripes to match up! They're my usual sock recipe worked over 64 stitches, with a heel flap and gusset and a wedge toe. They are a bit roomy on her for now, which isn't a problem at all, as she only wears her hand-knit socks around the house, but they do give her some space to grow. You can't see the sparkle at all in the photo, unfortunately, but trust me, it's there and it's delightful.

Another happy thing: playing with handspun. I swatched with my Rambouillet, measured my swatch, gave it a good soak, left it to dry, and measured it again. I was very close on gauge before washing and it changed just a tiny bit (I'm spot on for stitch gauge and off by half a row per inch on row gauge). More importantly, I discovered that this yarn is a delight to work with and creates a lovely fabric, so I'm going to have a very nice sweater out of it. And as the socks were done and I needed another mostly mindless project on the needles, I wound up my most recent skein of handspun and started a Hitchhiker.

Can you tell it was gloomy outside when I took this photo?

I have to admit that I was peer-pressured to start knitting with this handspun by several members of the Southern Cross Fibre Ravelry group, but I don't regret it at all. I've knit a bit more since I took this photo, and I'm getting a lovely subtle rainbow that is making me very happy indeed.

The next happy thing is something I totally forgot to share on Monday. Last weekend we had a big dinner with some family friends -- friends we've known since the summer before I started first grade and my brother was a newborn. These are friends we've gone on vacation and celebrated holidays with over the years, and now that there are three generations involved, it's harder and harder to find a time when everyone is free. But amazingly we all were last Saturday night, and it was great to see everyone. Most of all, it was great to see my brother and nephew arrive in the coordinating old man-style sweaters I made them:

Yes, I did stick his hand in his pocket for this photo.

I hope you appreciate that it took three women making absolute fools of themselves to get my nephew's attention for this photo:

The final happy thing? Tomorrow is my birthday! It's not a big birthday (to be honest, I don't really care so much about turning another year older except that I don't love the next number and am sorry that I will no longer be the answer to everything). I also told my family that I didn't really want a big to-do, but I like being with them and would like to have cake. Tonight the three of us are going out to one of our favorite restaurants; tomorrow we're having the Mister's side of the family over (except for my brother-in-law, who will be out of town -- presumably to celebrate his half-birthday because he is exactly 6 months older than i); and on Sunday, we'll have an early dinner at my parents' with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. I'm hoping to get some of the household chores done today so that I can have Saturday to myself, and I'll plan to cast on for my new sweater then.

I hope you have an enjoyable weekend, whatever you have planned -- be sure to eat a piece of cake in my honor!

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Unraveled, Week 10/2024

We've had a beautiful start to this first full week of March, with decidedly lamb-like weather (sunny and in the low 70s!). I'm worried we'll get another taste of winter this weekend, but for now I'm enjoying seeing things bloom and green up.

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to check in with Kat and the Unravelers. This week, my primary project has been Mo's neon striped socks, which are nearing completion:

It's nearly impossible to work on these and not feel cheered by the bright colors, and I'm almost hoping she outgrows these quickly so I can inherit them!

I also wound some handspun to start swatching for what I hope will be my next sweater (Ravelry link):

This is woolen-spun Rambouillet from half a fleece that I bought at my second, I think, Maryland Sheep and Wool and sent off to a mill to be processed. I hope this photo gives you a sense of how soft and sproingy it is. I have *just enough* yardage for the smallest size of the sweater, so keep your fingers crossed that I can get gauge!

While reading has been good this past week, I've only finished two books that were relatively short -- but it's about quality over quantity, right?

I purchased a Kindle copy of Rough Sleepers recently when it was a daily deal and wanted to read it now because Tracy Kidder is this month's speaker in the series I'm subscribed to. Even though it deals with difficult subject matter, it was an easy read, which I suppose speaks to the skill of the writer. This book is largely about Jim O'Connell, a Boston physician who has dedicated his career to helping the unhoused. But in giving the complete picture, this book also shows how easy it can be to become unhoused and how difficult it can be to get out of it. The so-called "rough sleepers" referred to in the title are those who more often than not are sleeping on the streets in all weather, often for years or decades, and who faced unimaginable obstacles health and housing. While it brings a strong sense of humanity to the individuals who are profiled, it also shines a light on the bureaucracies and systems that stand in the way of housing all people. If you enjoyed Poverty, by America, this would be an excellent next read. I gave it 4 stars.

I can't remember where I heard about Plunder, but I picked it to read next on audio because it was the first book in my Libby "to read" list that was available without a wait. It's very difficult to describe this book. It's a memoir, certainly, about the author's efforts to reclaim property in Poland that belonged to his grandfather's family, nearly all of whom were murdered in the Holocaust, but it's also about treasure hunting, about myth versus memory, and about the occasional absurdity in the process (such as the author's struggles to have his great-grandparents declared dead without any definitive evidence that they were killed, even though they'd be something like 140 years old if they were still living). I was grateful that I listened to this book, both for the pronunciation of Polish and because it's kind of meandering; some reviewers have noted that editing was sorely needed. That said, I saw some distinct parallels between the author's detailed history of those who search for buried Nazi treasure and his own search for information on his grandfather's family and their former home. There's a lot of complicated thought about what we believe and why, whether it's related to the myth of a gold train that the Nazis hid in a mined mountain or the story of how a distant relative escaped from a concentration camp near the end of the war. This is a book that will make you think hard and might leave you feeling things are unresolved, but I found it to be really well done. I gave it 4 stars as well.

I am currently reading A Little Life, which I have been meaning to read for a long time and which I am completely savoring, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which is my mostly mindless bedtime reading.

Finally, at Carole's request, here is a selfie with my much-improved smile:

This isn't final -- what I have now is just a temporary, but I'll go back at the beginning of April for the permanent veneer, which should be a better match and look more like the original tooth. I'm obviously feeling much better about things now, though!

Monday, March 04, 2024

Figuring Out What's Next

Good morning, friends! I'll admit I'm a little bleary this morning after a not-great night of sleeping (first there was snoring, then there were loud neighbors outside very early), but I've got a big mug of coffee with my second cup in it and am as ready as I can be to start a new week.

I ended up spending quite a lot of the weekend cleaning and organizing. My closet was the main target. For too many years, I'd been shoving stuff into the back corner -- things that needed to be dry cleaned or hand washed or given away -- and I promptly forgot about them. It was like a black hole. But aside from the fact that I couldn't see what was in there, I also knew that I'd had some issues with m*ths and knew there were some (store-bought) sweaters in there that I didn't want to continue to attract the buggers. I've also been on a ThredUP kick lately and have been trying to clear out clothes I no longer wear or that no longer fits. I did find several sweaters that had been eaten and general yuckiness. But I also pulled everything out off the floor of the closet, vacuumed, and reorganized. Now I can see everything that's in there, I've got a box ready to send off, two bags went to textile recycling, and I have a pile of things to hand wash before I decide if they will stay or go.

That clean-out was badly needed, but because I was so focused on that, I didn't spend as much time as I'd hoped on crafting or on deciding what to cast on next. I did, however, pull out several options for sweaters, so now I just have to make a decision. Here are the options:

Sorry for not taking them out of the bags, but I'm being extra careful given what I found in the closet yesterday. These are all sweater possibilities -- four of the five options are handspun, and I have patterns in mind for all but one of them. I just have to decide how mindless or mindful of a knit I want to do next.

In the meantime, I did find time to ply a skein of handspun this weekend:

This is Island Sunset on grey Merino from Southern Cross Fibre (the grey base is what gives the color that tweedy look). I chain-plied it and ended up with approximately 438 yards of fingering. And I love this! I have no idea what I'll do with it, but this seems to want to become a shawl of some sort -- at some point.

The first order of business for today, however, is going to the dentist to get my tooth fixed! Then I hope to get out for a run because it's sunny and beautiful outside and we might match or even break a record high today! Oh, and of course there's work, which I suppose is important, too.

Have a good one, friends!

Friday, March 01, 2024

Yikes -- Stripes!

As promised, and thanks to the rain moving out and the sun coming back yesterday, I have a finished sweater to share with you today!

My bruises and cuts have healed, but my tooth isn't fixed yet, hence the tooth-less smile.

Pattern: STRIPES! by Andrea Mowry, size 2/37" bust
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Ridgetop Fingering (80% Romney/20% Falkland) in Robin's Egg Blue, Peacock Blue, Wisp, and Soot (my best guesses of the colorways); 2.45 skeins/980 yards used
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: January 31/February 27

Despite the amount of work required in a pattern that changes colors every eight rounds, this knit was a delight. I think after the heavy patterning and slow growth of the last sweater, I got a lot of gratification from seeing this one grow so quickly. I am quite thankful for deciding early on to weave in ends as I went; when I trimmed my yarn tails after blocking, I decided to count as I went and got up to 120 ends woven in. Facing that many at the end surely would have done me in! But doing it two or four at a time took only a few extra minutes every once in a while and wasn't particularly onerous.

As you can see, the fit on this sweater is just about perfect. I've found in the last several years that I really like to wear fingering weight sweaters with minimal positive ease. I always wear my sweaters with a tee underneath, so the thin layer of wool is just perfect for around the house. This is now my third sweater in this yarn, and it will be my last, as the base is now discontinued. I bought the four skeins that went into this sweater last spring at the Fayette County Fiber Festival as a total impulse purchase. Lisa told me that her custom-milled Ridgetop bases were being discontinued and what was in her booth was the last of it, so I snapped up a bag that had these four shades in it. I knew they were colors I gravitate toward in general and that I like the yarn, so even without a plan in mind I didn't feel too guilty about the purchase. They ended up being just perfect for this sweater. The yarn itself is on the more rustic, "toothy" side, but in my experience, it softens up quite a bit with wash and wear. And I know it does wear well.

If you look closely at this photo, you'll probably be able to see the beginning-of-round jog on the stripes. I didn't bother trying to hide it because I don't think anyone is really going to be looking that closely at my back. There's some general wonkiness in some of the stitches anyway because of the slight stiffness of the yarn, so I think it all kinds of blends in.

My only modification to the pattern, if you can even call it that, was to work a provisional long-tail cast-on for the underarm stitches. I held a piece of waste yarn (which formed the thumb strand) alongside my working yarn, and this meant that when I was ready to start the sleeves, I had live stitches rather than having to pick them up from a cast-on edge. I'm not sure it really makes a difference, but I thought I'd try it and was quite happy with how well it worked.

I mentioned on Wednesday that Mo has asked me to knit her one (though hers will be a cropped length), and once I've had a little break from weaving in all those ends, I will. I plan to use these two skeins of fingering from Stranded Dyeworks that I picked up at SSK last summer -- and I'm glad I did, because Jude just closed up shop. 

I'm still working on her bright socks and have a spin in progress, but I'm pondering what to start next because I feel a bit off without a bigger project going. I really feel like 2024 is going to be a year of sweaters, and I have several possibilities, so I'll likely spend some time this weekend pulling out yarn and deciding.

Hope you have a great end to your week -- especially Vera, who as of today is officially retired! And a high five to anyone for whom the title of this post reminds you of advertising from the '90s!