Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Meanderings - Holiday Edition!

Last night my church had a lighting ceremony for our brand new peace tree.
Isn't it beautiful!
 
Let's get right to it today, shall we?!
  • I feel a need to knit silly little Christmas ornaments this year.
  • I'm trying to resist that urge.
  • I really love knit toys and such, but goodness...they are so fiddly!
  • And yet...I'm spending copious amounts of time on Ravelry looking at knit ornaments....
  • My kingdom for buttons!  I have not yet shared a finished project post for my Mesmeric sweater because I can't find any stupid buttons that will work for it!!! 
  • We do NOT have a large selection here in town, and they need to be tiny.
  • I had ordered what I thought would be the perfect solution from KnitPicks...but they were backordered.
  • Sigh.
  • I'm hoping to find buttons before Christmas, because I'd really love to wear this sweater then.
  • Speaking of clothes.  (sort of) We have a family photo shoot lined up for Saturday, and so I have until then to come up with coordinating outfits for all of us.  This is NOT my forte.
  • Seriously...clothes are stressful for me.
  • Also stressful?  Shoes.  The search for winter shoes which fit has begun again. 
  • I am not hopeful.
  • My feet will be cold for the next few months as I will be surviving in Birkenstock sandals and handknit socks....which is a lovely combo, but isn't quite warm enough for our weather. 
  • Christmas!  Yay!
  • I'm seriously considering a significant break from Facebook for the holidays...as in deactivating my account for about two weeks.  I'd thought about shutting it down for the entire month, but there are reasons why I just can't do that right now.  Time away would be good for the soul, I think. 
  • And it would help me be more present for my family, which is a good thing.
  • Time is running out on the stash knit down of 2015. 
  • No worries, it shall continue in to 2016.
  • There are definitely things I'd love to knit that will require purchasing yarn.  It can be frustrating to want badly to make x when you don't have the right materials, but at the same time I am enjoying very much the process of making due with what I have. 
  • And, it's allowed me to make some really fun things. 
  • And I definitely feel good watching the stash go down.
  • It stresses me out to have so much yarn sitting around, not being used.  There's a lot of money tied up in there!
  • Will absolutely be continuing on the stash knit-down next year.  Bet you anything I can get through most of the stash by the end of next year!
  • A side note....will 2016 also be a year of spinning down the fiber stash?
The knitting is calling...time to run.
 
Have a great week everyone!

November Books

1. Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith (audio) -  Heck.  I'm not into hard boiled detective novels or crime novels or mysteries...but I love the Golbraith books!  Though often pretty darn grisly and grim, I do have fun reading them.  The relationship between Robin and Cormorine is the best!  But darn it, a cliffhanger?!?  on a book that's not even been out for a month...thus making me wait how long to find out what happens?!?

2.  Tower of Thorns, Juliet Marillier - Truth, I love Marillier, but I was disappointed by this - the second of the Blackthorn and Grim series.  About 1/4 of the way in I completely lost interest...which is NOT a good sign.  Part of the problem is that I saw one of the major plot points coming from a mile away, and it both annoyed and disappointed me.  I won't give up on Blackthorn and Grim - Celtic Fairy Tales are my favorite - if there are future books I'll try them as well...but it's apparent that this series is nowhere near the quality of Marillier's Sevenwaters books. 

3.  The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere, Pico Iyer - I was introduced to Iyer by the lovely podcast On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett.  This slim book was produced by TED in conjunction with Iyer's TED talk, and I imagine it'll lead me down a rabbit hole when I go to watch the talk tomorrow.  It's fall, and I'm in a very quiet, contemplative, withdrawn mood...thus, a book on meditation, on being still, on stepping back from the world.  It's given me some things to think about, and I may be putting some new practices in place because of it.  I also may be tracking down more books by On Being guests.  I'm in the mood. 

4. Slade House, David Mitchell - Readers of Mitchell's The Bone Clocks will doubtlessly recognize key elements of this small book,  although it clearly stands on it's own.  It's creepy, and fun - made special by the fact that Mitchell is so very talented at capturing clear, unique voices with each of his characters. It was a fun read...and I cheered when a familiar character showed up in the end!

5. Epitaph, Mary Doria Russell - Russell is one of my favorite writers, but I had long avoided her first   book about Doc Holiday and the Earp brothers because westerns just aren't my thing.  What finally drew me in was the excellent narration in the audio format...and truth be told I am completely disappointed that my library didn't get the digital audio for this sequel.  These books are amazing.  The characters are richly drawn, the language is gorgeous, and the story sweeps you up and carries you along.  Here's the thing, though....Epitaph is most definitely a Greek tragedy, and you know absolutely what's coming (darn that historical record!) and it can be a bit much at times.  I wound up only reading half of the book because it was a bit more depressing than I really wanted at this time of the year.  I did spend some time online tracking down the historic record about all of the characters, and I think that was good enough for me. 

6.  Mort(e), Robert Repino (audio) - This has been on my reading wish list for a while because of BOTNS, and so when I found it on a routine browsing through the newer titles on Hoopla I thought I'd try it out.  It's very, very hard to describe. (Should I even try?!)  Our Protagonist is a former house cat named Mort(e), who becomes a war hero when the ants engineer a war against human and transform animals into high-functioning two-legged....oh yeah, it's a crazy-cakes story, and I loved every minute of it!  You can't help but be swept up in Mort(e)'s search for his lost dog friend Sheba, and the truly unique story will carry you along. 

7.  Miracle and Other Christmas Stories, Connie Willis - A dear friend suggested this in my FB plea for book ideas this month, and it was the perfect thing to read during the Thanksgiving break.  I'm honestly not sure why I hadn't tried it before, given how much I love Willis.  It was charming and fun and thought provoking.  I loved the twist on some of the traditional Christmas stories that Willis created, and the honor she paid to some of her favorite Christmas tales.  Will definitely be added to the annual Christmas fun. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Handspun Heaven

 Sometimes magic happens when you least expected it.
 
My one and only experiment in spinning a bulky yarn - I always tend towards the finer stuff - was the perfect candidate for the great stash knit down of 2015 as I knew it would knit up super quick.
 
Ravelry was my friend here, as I used it to search my own library for bulky knit projects.  I had almost completely forgotten about this hat, but I knew it would be perfect.
 
Quincy, by Jared Flood
Made In Brooklyn book 1 for Classic Elite
My own bulky handspun - from 16 oz of merino wool by Ashland Bay in Sandalwood
Addi Turbo 24 inch US 10.5 circulars
US 10 DPN's (borrowed from Mom)
November 23 - 27, 2015
 
The really cool thing is that the hat is knit in a wide strip which is then twisted.  I loved the look of that strip so very much - with the built in I-cord on the edge - that I decided to make a matching scarf.  I followed the directions for the hat, but just kept knitting until I had it as long as I wanted it to be. November 25 - 28, 2015
 
I really wish you could see the yarn in person.  The wool was a yellow-orange base with streaks of all sorts of different colors in it, and it made a beautifully heathered yarn with lots of depth to it.  I actually withheld 1.5 oz of the yarn just because it was so pretty, and will be hanging it for display in my corner of the basement!
 



Friday, November 27, 2015

Kusha Kusha No

 I really, really enjoyed playing with the combo of stainless steel yarn and super fine merino.
 
But.
 
At the end of the day, I will NEVER wear this scarf, and the miles of knitting it'll require to be finished does not appeal in any way shape or form.  It's super cool as an architectural experiment, and I don't at all regret buying the kit or trying it out.  I just don't want to continue knitting this scarf.
 
Besides.
 
I have other ideas for the yarn....

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gooseberry

It started as a personal challenge....
But first, the backstory.
 
Years ago my mother and I each bought a Rosemary kit from one of my local yarn shops, which - come to think about it - is kind of weird because we've never done the matchy-matchy thing.  I knit mine up first, and while it was beautiful and I did wear it a few times I ultimately decided that the style aged me too much.  Mom tried it on, and voila...perfect elegance!  So I gave her the finished sweater, and she gave me her unused kit.
 
My new kit then sat around for a really, really long time.
 
 Knitting my Mesmeric sweater this summer was a game changer for me.  For so many years I'd knit sweaters for everyone BUT me, but having completed that beauty I wanted more.
 
However, I also didn't want to spend any money on yarn, as I've been very firmly committed to using my stash this year.

So I turned to my stash....and this yarn was the perfect candidate for my next sweater.
 
I knew from my experiences with Rosemary that this is a yarn that needs a very basic pattern.  It pills dreadfully, and isn't the softest yarn in the world.  There's no sense wasting time on details like cables or lace that could be potentially obscured in fuzz and pills.  It needed something quick and easy to knit up, preferably in a classic pattern that would work for years to come.
 Which is where Ravelry comes into the picture.  Goodness Bless the pattern search page, which allows you to set the parameters of the search as tightly as you possibly can....including limiting it to patterns in your own library.
 After spending several days searching, I found this gem in my Interweave knits library, and after a quick swatch I knew it was the right one.
 
Of course...I ran it by a couple of friends who have better fashion sense than I just to be on the safe side!
 The details:
Gooseberry Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Interweave Knits Weekend 2009
Anna's Yarn - now by The Unique Sheep - in Natural Saxon Blue Indigo
the kits were sold by weight, and the tag had worn off...so I'm sorry to say I have no idea how much yardage I had.  I got lucky.  I had enough for the sweater with a small ball left over for repairs.
Addi Turbo US 5 - 3.75 mm - 32 inch and US 4 - 3.5mm - also 32 inch
October 19 - November 8, 2015
 
 In case you are wondering -

Yes, that's an incredibly fast knit!
 
As I knew it would, the fabric relaxed in the wash, and blocked beautifully.  It wound up being a smidge smaller than I'd wanted....but as my daughter pointed out I'll, "grow into it, " because my size is still changing. 
 
I'm absolutely delighted with the finished look of this sweater.  It's exactly the classic look I wanted, and the fabric has an interesting weight and a gorgeous drape to it.  The drape is the best part really, and I wish I could somehow convey that through the screen.  As I can't....lots of pictures!  I have no doubt this will be a wardrobe staple for years to come.
 
The one kicker....and I knew this would be the case, so it's not a surprise.
 
It's the darn itchiest sweater I've ever owned.  This is most certainly not a yarn I would ever buy again, and in fact a part of me wishes I'd known better from the get-go.  Having said that, though, it's absolutely fine over a long sleeved, higher collared shirt like the one in the picture, and so all things considered it will be just fine.
 
And now that this challenge has been successfully completed...
 
I'm back to the stash to figure out the next!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wedding Socks

So I have these dear friends...
 And the wedding was kind of a big deal, and I love them very much!
 So I made them matching socks in their wedding colors!
* The pattern is (not a surprise) my standard Ann Budd basic sock pattern.
* The turquoise yarn is Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock, and the purple is Dream in Color Smooshy...I forget the name of the color and can't find the band.  Both yarns were tucked in my stash and were perfect matches for the wedding colors!
* The needles were KnitPicks Harmony DPN's in 2.25mm
* I was fast....I started on November 9th and finished on the 20th!
* Each pair was made to fit!
 They are super-fun socks, and I had a blast making them!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Crop Circles

 Scarf With Crop Circle Pattern
Haapsalu Ratt
by Siiri Reimann and Aime Edasi
Knit Picks Shadow - 4 skeins Opal Heather - blue/grey
Addi Turbo, US 4 (3.5mm), 32 inch circular
May 18 - Aug 9, 2015

Modification:  My original intent was to knit an Estonian lace shawl in the traditional manner, but after knitting 3/4 of the edging (which was a total slog) I decided I most certainly did NOT want to deal with the hassle of having to sew miles of that stuff onto the main body.  I absolutely adore Estonian lace, but if I do another I'll come up with a way to knit the edging directly onto the shawl.  The idea of all of that seaming fills me with dread...and makes me worry about what the finished piece would look like.
 
A fun note - I'm the first Ravelry member to make this piece, so I get to add it to the database.  I shouldn't be so excited about that...but I am!
 
I do adore Estonian lace design, and I fell in love with this piece because it was so very different than anything else I'd ever seen.  Plus, there are no nupps in the center....which made it a faster knit than one would expect.  I can't wait to wear it this fall!












Monday Meanderings


This is the first skein of handspun I made when I got back into spinning.  It's just under 500 yards of a delicious merino/tencil blend.
 
It's a rainy Monday morning, and I actually have things to talk about...so here goes!
  • I have 3 (!!!) finished project posts to share with you this week.  It's VERY EXCITING!!!!
  • As you know, I've been working really hard this year to use up what I have instead of buying more...and one of the three projects happens to be particularly exciting because it falls into the stash busting category. 
  • I'm actually quite pleased with my stash busting this year.  I'll share stash before and after pictures in December. 
  • I'm totally planning on continuing that in 2016.  It feels GREAT! to use up what I have.
  • Remember the year where I made most of our Christmas gifts?  Yeah, there's not going to be a repeat this year.  I really loved my handmade Christmas, but it was just sooooo much work.
  • There is currently only one handmade gift planned.
  • And it's a doozy.
  • Insert self-satisfied, smug smile.
  • Have I mentioned lately how much I love running?  I've gone over the deep end into full-on obsessed.
  • I knew I was in trouble when I started bringing home books and magazines from the library and began listening to running podcasts....
  • I never have been able to go half-way into anything. 
  • I've signed up to run my first half-marathon in the spring, with a potential for two more in the fall.  I do a LOT better when I'm actively training for something....and I'm really looking forward to the challenge of longer runs. 
  • I'm going to have to get a job to pay for all of the races I want to run...
  • My favorites are my Sunday morning runs.  I like to go to my favorite park after sunrise (it's a popular, safe destination...so don't worry), and it's just so beautiful and peaceful.  That time alone is very centering, and I always come home with a smile. 
  • My new running 'thing' is that I now try to take at least one picture/run.  Mostly I take pictures of my beautiful surroundings, but I also like to take post-run selfies.  Oftentimes I find myself shooting into the morning light, unable to actually see what's on the screen, only to come home and find that I've captured a bit of magic.  It's added another layer of pleasure to the experience. 
  • I continue to follow my allergy plan - 7 months of full compliance and counting! - and while fall still kind of sucks I'm in a better place that I've been in for a very long while.
  • In fact, I see some change in the next year coming because of the phenomenal improvements I've been able to make in my health. 
  • Of course, I'm also going through a curious vain phase...and I've NEVER been a vain woman.
  • I'm not used to liking what I see in the mirror...or enjoying shopping...or truly wanting to make myself look good before I leave the house. 
  • Confounds me a bit. 
  • I'm still obsessively watching the X-Files.  Took a break for most of October because I love to watch all of the stupid scary movies on tv that month, but I came roaring back with a passion a couple of days after Halloween and blasted through seasons 6 and 7 in about a week.  Decided to watch the last 2 seasons - even though they are universally hated - and can honestly say that while I don't hate them, season 8 at the very least commits the grand sin of being pretty darn boring. 
  • I want to be Dana Scully when I grow up. 
  • I am way more excited about the 6 episode special run of the X-Files in January than someone my age should probably be....
  • Reading, though, has taken a hit.  That's ok.  Once in a while I go through a bit of time where I just can't seem to settle into any books. 
I have things to do today, so that'll have to be it for now.  I'll leave you with some grand pictures from my run yesterday morning.  Have a great week everyone!