Saturday, December 31, 2016

In 2016.

I keep hearing everyone talk about what a horrible year 2016 was. But to be perfectly honest, it was the best year of my life and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. :)

I fell in love with a really wonderful guy, and that's why I had such an amazing year. I won't get all mushy here, except to say that I'm happier than I've ever been! I don't know how I got so blessed to have Kenny in my life, but I thank God for him. I can't believe that a year ago today, I was a nauseous, nervous wreck about going out on our first date that night, ha.

2015 was a big step for me in getting out of my little bubble, because I started going to knitting group every week. And that continued on in 2016 because it turns out that, of course, as a quiet and awkward introvert, being in a relationship really pulls you out of your comfort zone. I've met new people (his family and friends) and gone new places, but more importantly, I've had to learn how to open up to another person and let him see who I really am. And hey, I'm still awkward and quiet, but Kenny doesn't mind. :)

Another good thing that happened this year was that I got two wool sheep. I didn't write about it at the time, but sadly the smaller one, Violet, died after we'd had her a couple of weeks (due to an accident with some netting/fencing). But it turns out that Agatha was pregnant when we got her, and she unexpectedly had a lamb recently. It's a female, so I'll be keeping her, though I haven't decided on a name yet.

Okay, so moving on to my knitting for the year. In total, I finished 41 projects. 20 of those were items to sell at craft shows, and 12 were gifts. The remaining nine were for myself, but about half of those were socks, so I really didn't knit myself much this year. I really need more sweaters, so that's hopefully going to be my focus in 2017.

Favorite knit of 2016: My In Stillness sweater! (Though I really love my Elder Tree Shawl, too.)

Least favorite knit of 2016: Happily, I don't have one. I knitted so few things for myself, but they were all things that I really thought about and planned out, so they're all loved and worn often.

I didn't do so great with my yarny resolutions, except for the one about being selective with my purchases. I didn't buy much yarn at all in 2016, so I feel good about that. I'm knitting up my stash! But I didn't make time to spin weekly, or take that drafting Craftsy class, or learn how to weave (I started experimenting with a small piece, but that's it), or start making craft fair inventory early in the year. Oops.

But if I failed those, then my sewing resolutions were laughable. I only had two: sew a pair of jeans, and start a new quilt, and I made no progress on those at all. Except that I did begin sorting my fabric scraps by color and prewashing them for the quilt. However, I did combine a couple of patterns to make my ideal dress! I'm very happy about that...I made three of those dresses this year and plan on making more in 2017.

How did you do with your 2016 resolutions?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Best of 2016: Books

2016 was an okay reading year. I thought it was better than it was, but I was a little surprised when I looked back over the list of books I'd read this year...I had a hard time picking my favorites. And not because there were so many of them. While I really liked a lot of the books I read, there weren't many that stood out as ones I loved or new favorites.

Best book: I had two favorites this year. The first was Far From the Madding Crowd (book and film discussion here), which means that I will be seeking out more Thomas Hardy in 2017. And then there was A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside, which is probably my favorite travel book ever (so far).

Worst book: I didn't read any incredibly terrible books, but The Picture of Dorian Gray was pretty bad.

Biggest surprise: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. This book won't be for's a memoir written by a woman who has worked at funeral homes and crematories, and it's about that whole industry and how our society views death in general. It was incredibly interesting, though dark and gross at times. One particular part made me queasy, but it still managed to make my list of favorites this year, so I'm not sure what that says about me?

Biggest disappointment: The Graveyard Book. I wanted to love this book. I want to love Neil Gaiman's stories, because they sound right up my alley. But I really struggled with it and was left disappointed.

I had a goal of reading 60 books, which I did. I only had 5 rereads this year, though two of them were Jane Austen so that was good. I read beginnings or installments of series, but I didn't read any complete series unless you count Susan Branch's three memoirs. Here are my reading resolutions for 2016 and how I did with them:

-Read 60 books. Yes!

-Drastically reduce my number of owned-but-unread books. No, I failed completely at this. It amazes me, because I read exclusively from my own shelves this year...I didn't go to the library at all and only borrowed a few books from other people. And still, at the end of the year, the number of books on this list is almost exactly the same as it was last year.

-Reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy. No. It's my tradition to make this a resolution every year, and apparently it's my tradition to never actually do it.
What were your favorite or least favorite books of 2016?

P.S. I'm going to be skipping my usual Best of 2016: Movies, TV, and Music post this year. I've seen so many movies this year, but I can't for the life of me remember which ones were 2016 releases. The only movie I saw in theaters was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was pretty good and very enjoyable, though lacking in the classic Harry Potter magic. I didn't find any new music this year (the Avett Brothers always!), and I'm way too disorganized with my movies/TV to post about them.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What I Read: December

This month's pile is a little sad! I was in a reading slump for most of the month. Because I was spending every extra moment knitting Christmas gifts, I didn't get a lot of reading done, and I wasn't particularly excited about what I was reading. As always, click on the title for my Goodreads review.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling. I'm rereading the Harry Potter series one book each year, because of these new illustrated editions. (They're releasing one book each fall.) I love this book and this series, and the illustrations are gorgeous, but I wasn't really in the mood for it, I guess.

The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I love the Yarn Harlot blog, and I've previously read two of her books and really loved them. But this one was disappointing because the others were knitting themed, and there was almost no knitting here. She's a good storyteller, and a few of the essays near the end were great, but I don't think I'll be holding on to this one.

My True Love Gave To Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins. I won this book in a giveaway last year, but it was too late to read it for Christmas, so I picked it up this year. I didn't read all of the stories, only about 7 of the 12. There were a few really adorable ones, and a few okay ones (details about specific stories are in my review). I might finish the rest of the stories next Christmas.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Knitting: Christmas gifts.

I can finally share everything I've been knitting over the past two and a half months! :) Here are the Christmas gifts I made this year. I apologize for the bad quality of some of the photos...I'm always taking quick pictures as I finish and before I wrap them up, so it's usually not a good lighting situation.
A cowl for my sister-in-law. I used a very simple pattern (that I've knitted three times before) and some pretty gray Malabrigo yarn. I made the longer size so she can wear it doubled. Project page. 
I made a pair of purple socks for my boyfriend's mom. They're a mixture of a few patterns: I used the texture from Irish Oats, but slightly altered because these are fingering weight rather than sport, and I used the heel from Hermione's Everyday Socks. I really like how they turned out. Project page.
My boyfriend's two nieces each got a hat. The cabled hat, knitted from Malabrigo (which was much prettier than the picture looks), is for his older niece so I made a small adult size. Project page. The purple and green one is just a basic toddler hat, with some colorwork. Project page.

My niece got her yearly sweater, a slightly Frozen-themed one this time. (Because, just like every three year old girl in America, she's obsessed with that movie.) Project page. I also made her a little pair of mittens from the leftover yarn. Project page.
I made my mom a pair of fingerless gloves that coordinate with her birthday gift. (In real life. Once again, the lighting in this picture is awful.) Project page.

And finally, Mom got socks, as always! She loves socks so I usually knit her at least two pairs a year. Project page.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Spinning: autumn-colored Finn.

I started spinning this fiber last month when I was selling at a craft show, and finished it a couple weeks ago. I had every intention of selling the finished yarn, but I loved how the colors were looking so I decided to keep it for myself. (It's been a while since I spun anything for myself, so I felt like that justified the decision, ha.)

The fiber was some hand dyed Finn wool that I bought this past spring at the fiber festival. I spun it fractal style: I split it in half lengthwise, split one of those halves into four or six smaller sections and predrafted the other half a bit, then spun them separately and plied them together. I was vaguely trying for a thinner yarn, approx. sportweight, but it ended up being 204 yards of worsted weight. Which is fine, because I have some gray yarn that I might pair it up with so it will stretch further.

I love the orange and gray together, and how fall-like this yarn is! It's also really soft. This is the second time I've spun Finn, and it's a very nice wool.

Friday, December 2, 2016

What I Read: November

Like my "spooky reads" in October, I also had a bit of a theme with my reading this past month. Lesley of Words of a Reader, one of my favorite bookish YouTube channels, hosted a children's literature month in November. I didn't vow to only read kids' books the entire month, but I did go through my shelves and pull out a lot of middle grade novels that I've been meaning to read. I love children's books, so it was a lot of fun and nice to focus on them this month. (But now I'm ready to take a break from themed reading for a while, ha.) As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

Halloween Party, by Agatha Christie. This was another Halloween read that I didn't finish until the first day of November. The mystery in this one was more complicated than I expected! I really enjoyed it. It seemed a little slow in spots, but the end was very tense and exciting, so it made up for that.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. I had such a weird experience with this book. More details in my review if you're interested, but basically I listened to the first half of it months ago as an audiobook, then physically read the second half. And I didn't really like it. I don't know what's wrong with me, I feel like I should love Neil Gaiman's books but so far I just don't.

Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo. This book was just adorable. Kate DiCamillo's books are always lovely, but usually in a sad way. This one was quirky and charming, and the ending was so sweet. Who knew that poetry written by a squirrel could be so moving? (I know that sounds a little random, but that's the book in a nutshell. Pun intended.)

Destiny, Rewritten, by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Like Flora & Ulysses, it was also charming and full of quirky characters, but in a different way. I liked how bookish it was, and at times it reminded me of Natalie Lloyd's books.

Juniper Berry, by M.P. Kozlowsky. This one was a little disappointing. There were some very memorable aspects, because they were both creepy and creative, but I felt like it wrapped up too quickly. Especially because the majority of the book was slower paced.

The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. This book was a lot of fun! I'd always heard good things about it, and I'm glad that it lived up to them. I know almost nothing about Greek mythology, but that wasn't a problem at all. I loved how creatively and seamlessly the gods and characters from mythology were incorporated into the modern day setting. Looking forward to reading the rest of this series!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. This memoir was okay, about what I expected. I'm not a fan of Mindy Kaling's (not that I'm not a fan, I'm just not really familiar with her work), but for some reason I've always wanted to read this book. Some parts were funny, and I enjoyed the more personal essays about relationships and body image and friendship more than the ones about her career. I liked it enough that I'll be reading her second memoir soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cozy and thankful.

This is my absolute favorite time of the year, when it's still fall but heading into the Christmas season. Everything is so cozy. The crunch of leaves, and the smell of woodsmoke outside and our Christmas tree inside, and the warmth of flickering candles, I wish I could bottle it all up. Then I could take it out and enjoy it during the summer when it's so hot and humid that I doubt I'll ever be able to wear wool again.

And this year is even better, because I have Kenny to share it with. It was around this time last year that we started talking a little more and getting to know each other, and by the end of next month we'll have been dating a year. I still can't wrap my mind around it! :) I am so very happy, and I don't know how I got this blessed. I'm incredibly thankful for him.

I know things have been quiet around here lately, but it's hard to share what I'm making when it's all Christmas gifts. But hopefully I'll be done with those in the next few weeks. Stella's blue sweater is finished, just waiting for the buttons. (Speaking of my niece, how adorable is she?) I'm down to my last couple of gifts, and it's not even December quite yet, so I'm feeling good about that. :) I started spinning some new fall-colored fiber the other week, and I love how it's turning out. It was going to be a skein to sell, but that orange and gray look so nice together that I'll probably have to keep it for myself.

I finally bought an essential oil diffuser, and I've really been enjoying it! In the fall and winter, I light candles almost every evening. But I can turn my diffuser on in the morning and it makes my room smell amazing, plus acts like a humidifier. (And of course there are health benefits to diffusing different essential oils, too.) I've had orange and cinnamon leaf oils in there lately, and it smells like fall. I bought this inexpensive one from Amazon, and despite how little water it holds, it runs a surprisingly long time.

I also finally read the first Percy Jackson book. I've been hearing about this series for years, and of course I see Rick Riordan's books everywhere. (That man seems to release a new book every month or two!) I kept hearing comparisons to Harry Potter, which of course intrigued me. It was such a fun read! I enjoyed it more than I expected to, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series sometime soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Spinning: local Rambouillet fiber.

This is the most recent yarn I spun. I bought the fiber at the Olde Liberty Fibre Faire back in the spring, and it's 100% Rambouillet from a somewhat local farm.

I love spinning Rambouillet and these colors, a rusty brown/orange and turquoise, looked nice together in fiber form. But overall spinning this fiber wasn't as enjoyable as I anticipated. The fiber had lots of neps, so I had to take the time to pick out little bits as I spun. Plus the blue, which was much brighter before I soaked the finished yarn, wasn't dyed very well. There were lots of pieces of blue dye left in the fiber, so I also had to pick those out and my fingers turned blue from spinning.

Even though I wasn't completely satisfied with it, the finished yarn was still decently soft and lofty in a rustic way. And someone bought it at the holiday bazaar this past weekend, so that's a good sign. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Yarn Along

Reading: Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo. I love her books, even though they usually make me cry. (The Tiger Rising? Very good, but I have vivid memories of reading that book in one sitting, curled up in a chair sobbing.) This one, so far, is lighter than some of her others and is making me smile, even though it's not an absolute favorite.

Knitting: A sweater for my niece for Christmas. It's another Granny's Favourite, which I made her previously two years ago. Stella is still small, three years old, so it's still very easy for me to knit her a sweater each Christmas. With her curly blond hair and love for Frozen and Cinderella, I think this light teal blue color will be perfect. :)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What I Read: October

October was a decent reading month. Nothing too amazing, but nothing bad either. I actually got around to all of the books on my spooky reads list except one! (I'm still reading Halloween Party so even though I'll probably finish it today, it didn't make October's list.) As usual, click on the book titles to read my Goodreads reviews.

French Milk, by Lucy Knisley. I love travel memoirs, but this one was a little disappointing. It's a graphic novel style memoir, but it's more of a diary than anything: pages of what they ate and where they went. If you've never been there and don't really know what she's talking about, it doesn't mean much.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, by Alan Bradley. I enjoy this series so's just begging to be made into a BBC mini-series. This one felt a little different, with the focus on the de Luce family and Flavia and her mother's mysterious past. The things that were revealed didn't really surprise me, but I'm very curious to see how it will carry over into future books.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand. It's far from the best middle grade book I've ever read, but this one was a perfect October read. It was creepier (and quite a bit grosser) than I expected, and I would have loved reading it as a kid. It was a bit longer than was necessary...things were drawn out at times.

Bed-Knob and Broomstick, by Mary Norton. I'd had this book since elementary school, and I finally got around to reading it. It was okay, but nothing special. Even though it was very short, it still didn't hold my attention. I would like to try reading The Borrowers at some point, though.

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. I'm so glad I finally got around to rereading Northanger Abbey! I enjoyed it so much. It was a lot more Austen-ish than I remembered, and it made me smile. I need to reread at least a couple of her novels each year. Also, I had forgotten how incredibly annoying, simpering, and obnoxious Isabella Thorpe is. She might just be one of my least favorite characters ever.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, compiled by hitRECord and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I randomly stumbled across this book on Book Outlet (a dangerous place to browse) and thought it looked cute. It really is a tiny only took a few minutes to read. An interesting concept, but not as amazing as I'd hoped.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sewing: Stella's skirt and doll dress.

Sunday was my niece Stella's birthday...she's three years old, can you believe it? Like almost every other little girl in America, she's obsessed with Frozen, so I knew that should be a theme with my gift. I usually try to sew her something for her birthday, since I always knit her a sweater for Christmas.

Stella was getting one of those 18" dolls from Target from her parents, so I decided to sew her new doll a dress. And my sister-in-law mentioned how cute it was that they sell little girls' clothing to match with the doll's clothing....obviously my niece needed something to match. :)

Stella's skirt is just a simple skirt: a hemmed rectangle with elastic at the waist. The doll dress is Simplicity 8039 (view a). The fabric is a light blue cotton print from Hobby Lobby, and the Anna and Elsa grosgrain ribbon is also from Hobby Lobby. The skirt was incredibly easy to sew, but the doll dress took hours longer than I expected! Whoever wrote this pattern obviously didn't sew the pattern, or some things would have definitely been different. For example, it's physically impossible to sew a tiny armhole on the sewing machine, unless you're way more coordinated than I am. I tried and tried, and ended up just sewing the sleeves in by hand. Also, what's the point in the dress bodice being lined when the raw armhole seams aren't hidden at all? I do think the end result is pretty adorable, but wow...sewing doll clothes was so much more tedious that I anticipated.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Yarn Along

Reading: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand. I'm trying to read some fall and Halloween-ish books this month, and this is one I've had on my shelves for a while. I was originally drawn in by the cover, but it sounds's a creepy middle grade mystery. I'm enjoying it so far! (Obviously I'm a scaredy-cat because my list mostly includes children's books.)

Knitting: I've officially started knitting Christmas gifts! So I won't say what this is or who it's for, in case they were to see. But I do really appreciate it when my knitting happens to match my book. :)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Spooky reads (sort of).

I rarely, if ever, plan out exactly what I'm going to read next. I just pick up whatever I'm in the mood for. But I thought it might be fun to read some creepy, atmospheric books in the month of October.

I'm a complete chicken, so what I consider "spooky" or creepy books would probably make most people laugh. But that's okay. :) I'm starting off with The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, which is the next book in my favorite cozy mystery series (the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley). Here are some more books I'll try to get to this month:

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. The only of Austen's novels that I've only read once so far. It's long overdue a reread, and the way she spoofs and references Gothic novels is perfect for Halloween.

Bed-Knob and Broomstick, by Mary Norton. This book is probably the one that's been on my shelves the longest without being read. It's from a Scholastic Book Fair, which means that I got it in elementary school and I still haven't read it. That's ridiculous.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand. The cover of this one is really nice. It's supposed to be a creepy middle grade mystery.

The Kneebone Boy, by Ellen Potter. I can't remember what this one is about, other than I've heard comparisons to A Series of Unfortunate Events. I've read her book The Humming Room, which is a close retelling of The Secret Garden, and I enjoyed it.

Halloween Party, by Agatha Christie. No October would be complete without a Halloween-themed Agatha Christie mystery, right? I found this old edition at a book sale and had to get it when I realized that the edges of the pages are orange.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What I Read: September

Once again, September was a pretty good reading month. I liked or loved everything I read, with one notable exception. As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews.

A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. I didn't love this book as much as I expected to, but I did really enjoy it. Ove was an endearing character, even though he could be so rude and annoying at times (most of the time). The relationship between him and his wife was so sweet, though also heartbreaking, knowing what you know. (I realize I'm being vague here but I don't want to spoil anything.) This book had me laughing one minute and nearly in tears the next, in a good way.

A Bear Called Paddington, by Michael Bond. I watched the Paddington movie last year and loved it, so I'd been wanting to read the book. It was so sweet and adorable! Speaking of endearing characters, Paddington is a perfect example of that. The book was funnier than I expected. Not as amazing as Winnie the Pooh, but still a children's classic definitely worth reading.

Evenings with Cary Grant, by Nancy Nelson. I didn't think that anything could make me love Cary Grant more than I already did, but this book did that. Even though he's my favorite classic film actor, I didn't know that much about his life. The format of this book is a bit unusual (and sometimes not as cohesive as I would have liked), but it was so interesting and never boring. Learning that Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, and Gregory Peck were close friends in Grant's later years just completely made my day. (Is that weird? I just love the thought of them hanging out.)

Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell. This was a reread for me, and thankfully it lived up to how much I loved it the first time. It's still my favorite Rainbow Rowell book: a perfect 90s romantic comedy.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde. The one big disappointment of the month. My boyfriend let me borrow this, and I'm so glad I borrowed it rather than buying it. The basic story was interesting and made me want to keep reading, but it was buried under annoying, unlikable characters and rambling, pointless speeches. I'm glad I read it, but I don't see myself ever reading it again. (Dorian Gray, join Wuthering Heights on that particular shelf.)

Where Am I Now? True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, by Mara Wilson. Yes, Mara Wilson is the little girl from Matilda. That's the main reason why I wanted to read this book...I grew up loving that movie (still do) and Miss Trunchbull is, to this day, one of the most terrifying characters I've encountered. Penguin was kind enough to send me a copy of this book to read and review, and while I liked it, I didn't love it. It was a quick and interesting read. Mara is very liberal and I personally don't agree with her on some things, but that's fine. It's her story and she told it pretty well.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yarn Along

Reading: French Milk, by Lucy Knisley. I'm only a few pages into this, so I'm not sure how it'll be. It sounds interesting, though: it's a memoir about a girl who travels to Paris with her mom for 6 weeks. It's like an illustrated journal, so it will be much quicker to read than a traditional novel.

Knitting: My second Pixel Rise sock. I really love how these are turning out and can't wait to wear them this fall. (You can see my finished one here.)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A question answered.

This was going to be a post about the little pile of hats I've been knitting, or maybe about the books I've bought lately (I seem to be on a nonfiction kick). But any of that would have just been leading up to what this post is really about, so I'll just skip it.

In a recent post, I mentioned my boyfriend, not really thinking anything of it. But then some hilarious comments appeared, wanting to know more. I realized I hadn't written about him before, just because I don't get too personal here. I love blogging, but I generally use this as a place to share what I'm making, what I think about certain books and movies, etc. Still, I don't mind talking about what's going on in my life sometimes, especially when it's such a good thing. :) So, inquiring minds, here you go:

I met Kenny at the farmer's market; he's the manager there (just one part of his job). I had a crush on him for most of last year and thought he seemed like a really nice guy. Last fall and into the end of the year, we started talking a little more, and he came over for supper with my family a couple times. He asked me out for New Year's Eve*, and we've been dating since eight months now.

2016 has been, by far, the best (and fastest!) year of my life, because of Kenny. (By the way, you can probably blame him for the blog being quieter this year, ha.) Honestly, I'd never dated before, so this has all been new to me. Being such an introvert, it's a new experience having this person that I love and just want to be with as much as possible. He gives me chocolate ice cream and has even more Psych references stuck in his brain than I do, and though he teases me about my obsession with British film and TV, he's willing to watch those things with me. :) But even better than what he does is who he is. He's sweet, thoughtful, and funny (not to mention handsome), and somehow, incredibly, he cares about me. I'm happier than I've ever been, happier than I even knew I could be, and I'm so thankful that God brought him into my life.

*Which, despite some mishaps, like being forgotten about at the restaurant and not getting our food for two hours, was basically the best first date I could have asked for.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Yarn Along

Reading: I'm rereading Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell. I really enjoy her books in general, but this one is my favorite. I first read it about four years ago, and thankfully it's just as good as I remembered! The 90s setting and email aspect remind me of You've Got Mail.

Knitting: My last hat to sell at craft festivals this fall! This is my 16th hat over the past two months, and honestly, I'm getting sick of hats. After I finish this and a pair of fingerless gloves, I'm hoping to squeeze in some selfish knitting before I start making Christmas gifts. (Maybe even Marion? A cropped, worsted weight sweater should be pretty quick.)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Monday, September 12, 2016

Spinning: Malabrigo Merino.

Some finished yarn! This is yet more fiber that I'd originally purchased to spin for myself, but decided to sell instead. (Because I'm knitting down my stash and it feels good.) If it doesn't sell at one of the craft fairs I'm attending this fall, it'll be listed in the Etsy shop.

Apparently blue is one of my favorite colors, especially when it comes to yarn and clothing. I'm always drawn to blue. This is some Malabrigo Nube, which is 100% merino fiber, in the Persia colorway. Merino always puffs up so much more than I expect after soaking it...I need to remember to spin it thinner. It's a two ply, I just split the fiber right down the middle. Sometimes the colors line up, sometimes they don't. The finished skein is about 150 yards of airy aran weight. I also had a few yards of leftovers to keep for myself, just enough to use with other yarn in a project.

I've heard mixed reviews about Malabrigo Nube. A lot of people say that it's really compressed and hard to work with. Mine was a little awkward at times, but not too bad. I just fluffed it out and pre-drafted it a bit before spinning.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Agatha and Violet.

This week, a pretty important fiber-y thing happened: I got two wool sheep!

I've been wanting sheep for a couple of years now. Back in the spring, I started looking into nearby farms and who had lambs to sell. In May, we randomly discovered that someone just minutes away had some wool sheep: Gulf Coast Native sheep (also called Gulf Coast, Louisiana native, etc.), and that they'd be willing to sell a couple of ewe lambs. So yesterday, months later, things finally lined up for us to go get them. (I also came home with two bags of alpaca fiber.)

I had never heard of this breed of sheep before, but they actually have an interesting history and they're a critical conservation breed. (Read more about them here.) And unlike most wool sheep, they're naturally suited to live in the hot and humid South. They're very resistant to parasites and foot rot, a fact that really impressed my dad. (He's the shepherd of the family and has a flock of St. Croix hair sheep.) I've only worked with a little fleece from this breed so far, but I like it. It's decently soft and easy to deal with.

Both of my lambs were born this several months earlier than the other, judging by the size. I thought a lot about names, as you can imagine. :) Ever since I wanted sheep, I've wanted to name one of them Agatha. I think it's a name that looks beautiful but sounds a bit strange when you speak it. (So basically, a name that I like enough to give an animal but not a child, ha.) I'm a big Agatha Christie fan, so that was probably an influence. Continuing on with the old-fashioned British name theme*, the little one is Violet. (Because yes, the Dowager Countess is my favorite character on Downton Abbey.) They're both very shy and skittish around people, and as much as I just want to love on them, that hasn't happened yet and probably won't. When I'm nearby, they're either pretending to ignore me or twitching nervously. So I try not to bother them too much.

I guess this means I'm technically a fiber farmer? :)

*Remember, I named my cat after Mr. Knightley. I had good intentions, but sadly my Knightley isn't kind, honest, and dignified like his namesake. He's odd, hilarious, spastic, and a bit of a troublemaker. My boyfriend says Mr. Bean would have been a more appropriate name, which would be insulting if it wasn't so true.