Reading 2011

My goal for 2011 was to read one book per month. For many people this seems like nothing. In fact, I know people who are planning to read one book per week this year. I'm hoping that this small goal will jump start my love for reading again, and I'll get a few more books in. Especially with the vacation time I have planned to be at The Cottage.
The List:
January: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
This was a fast read for me. I like the author's writing style, while the subject matter is intended for young adult readers, the writing is mature and a pleasure to read.
February/March: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I really liked this book. Read it before seeing the movie.
April: The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman
This author has made it on to my favorite authors list in a sneaky way. I really liked The Ghost Orchid and followed that up with The Night Villa. Her stories have a little bit of a CSI twist to them, and the plot usually unfolds with a few unexpected twists. I read this book in the paper version while Matt was traveling in France and Italy. It was nice to read the "real" thing again.
May: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
I pounced on this ebook when I read that it was free, or a dollar...? I can't remember, it was a deal. It was a fast and lighthearted read, a good start to summer reading.

So as you can see by the list above, I'm a little behind. I do have half of Scarlett Fever read, but the story is a little slow and young for my typical taste. I will finish it though. The other books on the list for the near future are both good summer reading and something a little heavier:
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (I've read his other two books in the trilogy)
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giodano
Knit Two by Kate Jacobs (I read her first book, this is good, easy summer reading)

I also wrote down a few more titles while at Barnes and Noble this past week, but I am always up for suggestions. In addition to all of that my personal library of paper books has about a dozen unread titles in it as well.

My knitting has all progressed evenly and slowly this past week, and several neck wear items are blocking and drying slowly in this newly humid weather. Pictures of finished objects coming soon, as ALWAYS promised. I did finish Wayfarer (long scarf) and Veyla (mitts) this last week. But now summer of socks and lace has started, so my focus will shift for a little while. I have a couple secret projects in the works as well. I need to get busy!


Lazy Sunday

Sunday has been and always will be a relatively lazy day for me. It was the day that we would have a big breakfast as a family and my mom would head to the store for the week’s groceries. Kids specifically not welcome. The rest of the family would split apart and do their own thing. In high school it was the one day of the week I wasn’t at the high school, and so I got my homework done, or would hang with friends for coffee. But Sunday nights were for being at home and chilling, usually watching TV after an early dinner. I still like to have an early dinner on Sundays, watch some TV and generally relax before another week begins.

So I’m at Panera grabbing a quick lunch before running my Sunday errands (cleaning supplies and food, so exciting) and overheard this:

Dad (to son, who is styled identically, unfortunately): Did you order a Mexican sandwich?

Son (eating sandwich): No, Cuban.

Other son (who is not styled even similarly, thankfully): Same thing.

I love people watching.

Ive been meaning to write about something, but it needed to get to Iowa first. Of course the package arrived over a week ago, but between Maryland Sheep and Wool and work, I’m just getting around to it. Laura and I decided, in our absence of knitting time in person, that we would send each knitting and fiber related packages this year. The first package was something NOT made of fiber, so no yarn or spinning fiber. A little smidge of history: Laura and I would get sushi every Tuesday night and watch Glee while knitting. When I saw the fabric I knew it had a home:

How perfect is that? A small box bag for little knitting projects with sashimi to go! The inside is lined with a plain red fabric and the handle is guilded (and nightmare to sew) like any good American-Asian restaurant would be. I could explain how I made it, but a Google search for ‘box bag tutorial’ will yield better results. And no point in reinventing the wheel, right?

This weekend I’ve been itching to cast on something new, but after a review of what is currently a WIP, I decided I needed some finishing first. As fast as I can a rundown of all the things:

Bridgewater: Started more than a year ago with 2000 yards of lace weight alpaca on hand, all that remains now is the epic knit-on-bind-off.

Austin Hoodie: I was in love with this pattern and the yarn (Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light) and of course cast on an worked manically for a few months. Now that I’m working on the first sleeve, I’m not as enchanted and seriously doubting if this will ever get finished. The superwash yarn grew so much during blocking and the sleeves are looking baggy in the underarm region. Plus I don’t think I have enough yarn. More to come on this.

Wayfarer: Another Jared Flood pattern knit with some local (in MI) alpaca in the perfect natural camel color. I’ve rounded the corner into the last little stretch of “continue to work in pattern.” Blocking, pictures and then a careful packing up for winter.

Wray: Just started with my massive skein of Madelinetosh Lace in Fragrant. Slow and steady for this project, that’s for sure.

Handspun Mittens: I spindle spun 8 oz of fiber from Iowa into a dk-worsted-aran weight (my spindling isn’t terribly even) yarn for some over-sized mittens. These are a simple project, but a good way to show off this yarn.

Veyla: I scratched with itch for casting on with the second of these two little mitts. I made the first of the two in the fall and then they got packed away for the winter. Knitting with cashmere is always a pleasure and the second one (the left hand) flew off the needles. These just need the ends woven in and some shirt buttons added on the cuffs. I have a big tin full of vintage and newer buttons, many of which are from men’s shirts; up-cycling at its best!

Socks: I have some Patons Kroy in a self-patterning green/red/blue/white colorway that became my plane knitting when I flew to Iowa a few weeks ago. This yarn will wear like iron and it was nice to practice my plain sock pattern making skills on this yarn. I have one sock done, second sock syndrome here I come.

Kingdom Gloves: for my Grams 75th birthday. And in true knitter fashion, they will be late. She at least got to see the first one. I just need ot have them done in time for winter. Right?

Kernel: I bought a couple of cones of cashmere sweater mill ends almost two years ago. The first of two cones is becoming this scarf for my boyfriend’s sister. I’m plugging along on it, her birthday is in July. The yarn is nice, but after a bath to remove the mill oil, I expect it to be extra soft.

Elijah: This was my first favorited pattern on Ravelry and I have his head done. No deadline, but it will be good for a baby one day.

I think that’s the roundup, or at least for now. I have a couple of other projects that are so far from being anything they aren’t worth talking about. One needs to be frogged, and one needs some chart work before I can knit and enjoy it.

Sorry for the wordy post, Word tells me I’m almost to 1000 words. More pictures and links in the next post. I’ll show some of the works-in-progress, and hopefully a few finished ones!


The Haul

This last weekend I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I had been to the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival, but that doesn't even come close. I had a great time with great people. This is most of what I brought back. I did not bring one of these home, because just look at where the yarn comes out of. Seriously.This is the yarn haul. From left to right: Spirit Trail Fiberworks Sunna (the green and red skeins). One of the two is for my mom for Mother's Day, she gets to pick her color. Both are so soft (cashmere) and the colors are saturated and semi-solid, I love it. The middle skein is one of two, it is Miss Babs Yowza. It is a nice semi-solid gray color in a mega skein. The last two are Socks That Rock in mediumweight, Mad Hatter and Christmas Balls.Two silk caps, Mad Hatter and Pond Scum. I've wanted more silk hankies/caps, and these colors are perfect.Bartlett Yarns roving for Laura in Mountain Berry and Blue Loch. The Blue Loch is a very pretty royal blue with red fibers blended in. I think this is destined to be a marled DK, or at least I hope.

These are "bumps" from Loop. They spin from the center and are meant for striping. I'm waiting to improve my spinning skills to make these, but I am so excited. The red is some fluff that I'd like to use for some art yarn spinning or my own hand carding one day.

More fiber! Corridale on the left, BFL and some silk next, and then two octopus like things of merino and tencel. I also bought a Bosworth spindle, laceweight and some bone handi tools.
And last but not least, I think one of my favorite buys: a set of double point 2.5mm Signature needles.
If you made it through all of that, wow. I have a feeling I'll try to limit myself more next year, but I have no regrets, even on the cash spent. Of course there are other things to write about, but that will wait for the next post!


Neighbors, I have them

I have strange neighbors. Next door, I believe, is a single man. I've seen him twice. The second time was this weekend, when he was using a hedge-trimmer-extra-long-chainsaw to clean up the half-dead bushes that separate my building from his house. The trimmings are mulching themselves on the apartment side of the bush/fence.
And across the street is a very large house, with an equally large yard, for the area at least, as well as a very long and tall chain link fence. This particular neighbor has a "collection" in his yard, and frequently has a barrel with things burning in it. He mowed his yard today with an industrial sized mower.
I have interesting neighbors.

Now! Time for pictures. As promised, a whirlwind of hand spun fiber.
Clockwise from the brown. The two skeins of brown are my first spindle spun, using fiber from Abi. At the bottom of the picture is the mitten I'm making from my first two spindle projects. These mittens are going to be large, but I'm planning to line them. At the top is my spindle with the second half of the Day's End roving, also from Abi. I'm nearly done with that. I feel like my spindle skills are so much better after just two 4 oz rovings! And in the middle is the crowning jewel: my first wheel hand spun yarn, about 30 yards there, and I have another 10-15 yards that isn't plied. The skein there is a bulky/super bulky two ply. I made it during that first class. I'm in love. It will become a head band. That is what it was made for. It has a destiny. Mitten close-up.

I have made some progress on the Jeweled Cowl, but because it is unblocked lace, there isn't much to show. I hope to have finished objects to show next time. Since I made it to the post office today, I should have non-knitting things to show too!


Weekend Wrap-Up

As the weekend comes to a close, it feels like I have accomplished nothing! I've been hard at work on the Jeweled Cowl, and this evening I finished the second tube of seed beads I'm using. They are Miyuki Matte Red in size 8. I'm not good with beads, but these are pretty and look great against the dark charcoal of the alpaca lace. I should have this cowl blocking this week.
I also worked on the mittens I'm making from my spindle spun yarn. They are coming out a little on the large side, but I decided I'd like to knit a lining for them from a softer lace weight yarn, the over-twist on the yarn I made is a little much for the hands in places, like steel wool, instead of nice lofty wool.
But the big accomplishment for the weekend? I spun a two ply thick-n-thin yarn. Two summers ago I bought a green roving from the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival, and it's been waiting to be spun. Well, it is now about 30 yards of a super bulky yarn. I love how it turned out, and my instructor, Nora, complimented me. Calling me her "most proficient first time spinner"! I'm hooked just like I expected I would be.
My friend Laura and I are doing a fiber pen pal swap over the course of the year. Our first packages are going out this month, and we agreed we would stick to a NON-fiber package for this first time. I spent some time this weekend working on her package and it is leaving PA tomorrow. I'll post again when she gets the package, and explain a little about what I did. I highly recommend her blog, here.
Pictures of knitting and the wheel spun yarn next time!
Now, bring it on Monday! Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend!