Thursday, March 8, 2018

Knitting: Find Your Fade shawl.

When everyone was knitting Find Your Fade (and all of the other fade patterns that came afterwards), I had no desire to and never planned on making one myself. But then I found a set of four coordinating yarns from WIPyarns, and I started to rethink that decision. :) I thought about that yarn for the longest time, and finally splurged but didn't let myself cast on until I finished my black cardigan.

So it happened that I started knitting this shawl just days before my wedding. It was the only knitting I took with me on our honeymoon, and while I didn't do much knitting that week, I do remember working on it as we drove through the mountains from Tennessee to Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore. And over the next few months I slowly knitted on it until it was finished in February, which means there are a lot of memories of our wedding and honeymoon and first months of marriage worked into this shawl. :) This project is pretty special to me!

I used the basic pattern but wanted a smaller shawl, so I made a few changes. I only had four colors, so I used a couple of them in more sections than the pattern called for. Also, I stopped increasing a little sooner so that my shawl would be narrower and shorter. (More specific details in my project page, linked below.) It's still a fairly large shawl!

The yarn was lovely, of course. I love how these four colors go so well together, and the yarn itself was very enjoyable to knit with. (I also made my Christmas socks from this dyer's yarn!) WIPyarns really has become one of my favorite hand dyed yarns lately.

And now, this girl who said she'd never knit a fade pattern...well, she's knitting a So Faded sweater.

Ravelry project page.

Friday, March 2, 2018

What I Read: February

February was a decent reading month! I read four books and enjoyed most of what I read. As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

The Problim Children, by Natalie Lloyd. Natalie's books are must-reads for me! She writes sweet, magical middle grade, and this one was no exception. It's about seven siblings, with a little bit of mystery and a lot of quirkiness. Her first book, A Snicker of Magic, is still my favorite, but I enjoyed this one too!

The Rabbit Back Literature Society, by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen. This one is translated from Finnish, I think? It was truly one of the strangest books I've ever read. I really loved some parts of it. The plot was interesting and there is a lot of magical realism (which I like!), almost veering into fantasy at times. But there's also some weird graphic sexual content that really took away from the story, in my opinion.

The Story of Charlotte's Web, by Michael Sims. Since I reread one of my old favorites, Charlotte's Web, last month, it seemed like a good time to finally pick up this biography of E.B. White. I really didn't know anything about him, other than the three children's books that he's famous for, so this was really informative for me! It was also a pretty easy read, which biographies aren't always. I enjoyed it very much.

Stuart Little, by E.B. White. And reading that book made me want to pick this one up! I know that I read it, or parts of it, when I was little, but I don't think I'd picked it up since then. It was okay. Pleasant overall, but it's no Charlotte's Web.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Knitting: black Dexter cardigan.

Finally! I finished this cardigan back in October, and I finally have pictures of it. :)

For a long time, I've been wanting to replace two of my lightweight cotton cardigans (purchased probably 8 years ago at Target) with handknit versions. Basic, no frills sweaters to wear over t-shirts. I picked out the Dexter cardigan because it seemed to fit the bill. I asked for the yarn for my's Bartlettyarns sportweight. It's woolen spun in one of the oldest operating mills in the country. I picked this yarn because it was relatively inexpensive for American wool (about $50 and I have a decent amount of yarn left over). This definitely isn't a soft, cushy's sturdy and scratchy and I had to pick out lots of VM as I knitted. I also soaked the yarn before I started knitting to soften it up a bit. There were thin spots or joins in the yarn that I had to cut out. It's still a bit scratchy in the finished sweater, but overall it seems to be holding up well. I've been wearing it all winter and it doesn't seem to just sort of gently fuzzes, which I don't mind at all in in a simple sweater like this.

This sweater took forever. I started it in May and it wasn't finished until October. I was obviously distracted and busy during that time (planning a wedding and fixing up the house!). But to be honest, miles and miles of stockinette with black sportweight yarn isn't very fun. The ribbing in particular felt a bit soul-sucking. :) But I love the end result, and it's exactly what I wanted! Not fun knitting, but a needed part of my wardrobe. I am planning on knitting this again in brown, but with a different yarn (possibly one that I naturally dye with walnuts?).

I wanted to finish this cardigan before we got married so I could take it on the honeymoon, and thankfully I managed to finish it the week before the wedding! It's been a while so I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I think the only changes I made to the pattern were to lengthen the sleeves and leave the textured detail (which you can sort of see around the yoke) off of the bottom of the sweater. This was my first sweater for myself made in anything less than worsted weight yarn, and there is something very satisfying and more polished feeling about a lighter weight knitted sweater!

Ravelry project page.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What I Read: January

I read six books in January...a wonderful way to get back into reading and to start off the new year! I haven't read this many books in a month since last summer. (To be fair, one of them was very short. And having several snow days helped me get in more reading.) To make it even better, I enjoyed everything I read this month and found a couple of new favorites. As always, click on the book title to read my Goodreads review.

Howards End is on the Landing, by Susan Hill. I'd been wanting to read this book for a long time, and since it's about the author taking a year to read from her own shelves, I figured it would inspire me to do the same. I did enjoy it a lot, though maybe not quite as much as I'd hoped. The author is very "my way is the only way" about certain reading habits and such, which is annoying. But her writing style was nice and I liked it a lot overall.

Quidditch Through the Ages, by J.K. Rowling. This is one of the fake Hogwarts textbooks that has been released. I owned it years and years ago but never read it and since lost my copy. Kenny bought me the set for Christmas, and it really is a nice addition to the Harry Potter world! The little details are so funny and clever, and since it was less than 60 pages, it was an incredibly quick read.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte. New favorite! I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed it so much...even though it was depressing and a bit like watching a train wreck. I went into a lot more detail in my review. But basically, it's so satisfying when a classic book turns out to be not only worth reading, but this good.

The Moving Finger, by Agatha Christie. So enjoyable, as always. (Even though Miss Marple didn't come in until the last 40 pages or so...why?) I flew through most of this one in a day.

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White. This childhood favorite had been on my mind, so I decided to reread it. It was just as charming and wonderful as I remembered! A true classic.

Raising Demons, by Shirley Jackson. This book was hilarious! It is so rare for a book to make me laugh out loud, but this one did multiple times. It's her sequel to Life Among the Savages, and they're both about raising her four kids in New England in the 50s. I liked this one even more than the first!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Knitting: recent knits.

Despite the fact that it has been forever since I posted about a finished knitting project on here, I have actually finished some things over the past few months! I finished a sweater for myself back before the wedding that I still need to get finished pictures of. But I also did some Christmas-related knitting in November and December, so here's what I made...

I make my little niece a sweater every year for Christmas. Since it's a tradition, I knew I still wanted to knit her one this year, even though I wasn't planning on making any more gifts. This is the Antler Cardigan pattern (my green one is still my favorite sweater I've ever made!), made with KnitPicks Swish worsted weight yarn. Even though she just turned 4, my gauge was a little tight, so I made the 4-6 size but adjusted for her shorter torso and arms. And it fits perfectly! (Ravelry project page.)

I decided in 2017 that I wanted to knit fall socks and Christmas socks. Well the fall socks are still half-finished (hoping to get to that soon), but I did end up finishing the Christmas ones just a few days before! So I got a decent amount of wear out of them in December. These socks will not photograph well, which is frustrating because that green yarn is sparkly and so lovely, but it doesn't show. The green was from WIPyarns (one of my new favorites- my fade shawl that I'm knitting is made with her yarn too) and the red was a mini-skein I purchased randomly on Etsy...can't remember the shop name. Now I think I'd like to knit Christmas socks every year. (Ravelry project page.)

I did manage to squeeze in one more knitted gift: these socks for my mom. I knit her at least a couple pairs every year because she loves handknit socks and really appreciates them. I was worried about running out of time, but when I saw KnitPicks Felici yarn in worsted weight, I knew I could do that! A pair of fingering weight socks takes me at least two weeks...worsted weight ones only take me 4 days. I really like KnitPicks sock yarn. It's not the nicest stuff ever, but it's reasonably priced and in my experience, it all wears really well. (The yarn will felt some over time, but I've never had any holes in those socks yet.) (Ravelry project page.)