Saturday, April 30, 2016

Knitting: Jaws socks.

Another finished pair of socks! Apparently I'm incapable of completing larger projects in 2016, but at least I can still knit socks. (Even if it did take me nearly a month.)

There's not a lot to say about these. They're vanilla socks, knitted on size 1 DPNs with 68 stitches, which is my new basic sock recipe (previously it was 64 stitches on size 2's). I bought this yarn at the fiber festival last year. It's from Fairy Tale Knits, in an 80/20 Merino and nylon blend (Starfish colorway). This yarn was tightly spun, which I like in sock yarn, but it was also a bit coarse and non-elastic. I'm not sure why. I love how the red and turquoise knitted up, with no thick pooling...the colors are bright but still subtle somehow. But because of the lack of elasticity in the yarn, it was hard on my hands and I didn't particularly enjoy knitting with it.

I once saw some turquoise and red spinning fiber that looked a lot like this yarn, and the colorway was called Jaws. It's a bit morbid but I've always remembered that, so I can't help but think of these as my Jaws socks. :)

Ravelry project page.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Olde Liberty Fibre Faire {2016}

It seems that going to the Olde Liberty Fibre Faire has become a yearly tradition. {See 2014 and 2015.} It happens to usually fall very close to my birthday, so the fiber festival has become an extension of my birthday. (I'm twenty-five now...what? This year I managed to stretch my birthday celebration to four days. I think that's a new record.)
This year it was at a different location: A Goode View Alpaca Farm in Goode, Virginia. I don't think it was any further away from us than before, and we drove through some pretty country to get there. I think the new location was an improvement because most of the vendors were outside and there was plenty of room. At the Lion's Club, most of the vendors were inside a building and things were cramped.
As always, I had such a nice time at the festival. (And, as always, I was so excited that I forgot to take many pictures.) Since I go to a knitting group every week now, I'm not quite as starved for interactions with fiber people as I used to be. :) But it's still a good feeling to be in a place full of knitters, spinners, farmers, dyers, and weavers. People who are just as obsessed with fiber as I am, or more so. I ran into several ladies who were very helpful when I first started knitting and spinning, and it's always good to see them again.
It was a beautiful day and I came home feeling very inspired. (And more determined than ever to have my own wool sheep. Those two adorable lambs above were for sale, and they're Rambouillet/Merino. How perfect would that be?) Of course I also came home with some new yarn and fiber. :)
I've become one of those knitters who loves sock yarn. (Thankfully I also love knitting socks.) I'm slowly but steadily knitting down my stash, but somehow my pile of sock yarn never seems to shrink. On the left is a skein from Unplanned Peacock Studio. I've knitted with her Peacock Sock yarn three times, and it's one of my favorite yarns. So far I've made a pair of socks for my mom, a Hitchhiker, and a Stripe Study Shawl, but this time I'm finally going to get my own pair of socks from her yarn. :) This is her exclusive colorway for this year's festival...every year I end up buying her festival colorway because it's always so gorgeous.
The middle yarn is a lovely blueish-gray from Gershubie Fiber Arts. I mostly knit plain socks from variegated yarns. But I'd like to have a few pairs of fancier socks made from more solid or tonal yarns, so that's what this will be. The yarn on the right is actually a Christmas gift that I picked out for my parents to give me, but I thought I'd include it anyway since it came from the festival. It's sparkly sock yarn, again from Unplanned Peacock Studio.
I really enjoy spinning Finn fiber, so I bought 4 ounces of it in an orange and gray colorway, which I think will become a nice yarn for a fall knitting project. Then I bought 4 ounces of really soft fiber that's 60% alpaca, 20% merino, and 20% BFL. It's mostly brown but has some gray and a bit of dyed blue mixed in. And finally, I got some more Rambouillet. After spinning it only once, Rambouillet became one of my favorite fibers. This is from a local farm, and I got 2 ounces of blue/teal and 2 ounces of teal and rusty brown. I'm going to spin them together for a project.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Yarn Along

Reading: The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion. Monk is one of my favorite TV shows, and this book reminds me of a romantic comedy starring Adrian Monk. I know that sounds weird, but I can't help but see similarities. The main character in this book has Asperger syndrome, not OCD or lots of phobias, but his social awkwardness, routines, and thought processes remind me so much of Monk. I'm really enjoying it so far...I'd heard good things about it, but it's funnier than I expected.

Knitting: It looks like I haven't made any progress since last time, but this is the second sock, ha. And it's almost finished, just the toe left!

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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Good books (that I don't talk about enough).

My favorite books come up quite often around here, but there are other books that I love that I rarely, if ever, talk about. Rissi's post last month made me realize that, though I'm just now getting around to writing about it. :) So here are a few books (or series in some cases) that I really enjoyed but I don't talk about enough.

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. Rebecca Stead's books have this amazing timeless quality. Growing up in the 90s, I read a lot of books that were written between the 70s and the 90s: think Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, The Baby-Sitters Club, etc. And those books all have a certain feeling that I can't really explain...they fit so perfectly into my childhood that I never felt like I was reading some outdated book published 10 or 20 years before I was born. When You Reach Me is just like that. It's set in the 70s but was published in 2009, and it feels just like a book I would have read as a kid. It makes me feel so nostalgic, down to the way the paper feels in the paperback edition. :) Besides all of that, it's a really good, addicting story, and I just loved it. (Also, if you're a fan of A Wrinkle in Time, you will appreciate this one even more. I've only read that book once, years ago, though I'm planning on reading the whole series soon.)

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko. This book caught my attention because it's about a kid named Moose who lives on Alcatraz during the 1930s because his dad works there. But there's a lot more to it than that, and I was pleasantly surprised by how funny and interesting it was! There's a big focus on Moose's family, especially his older sister Natalie, who has autism. I love the interactions between those two. There are two sequels, and while I haven't read the third book yet, I thought the second one was even better than the first. :)

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale. I first read The Goose Girl when I was about 11 or 12, and for years I had the story stuck in the back of my mind. I didn't know the title or the author until I randomly stumbled across it again several years later. This is one of my favorite books, and Shannon Hale is an author you have to check out if you enjoy fairy tale retellings. I think this might be her best. (Though she sometimes writes out of that genre. She wrote Austenland, so she's responsible for one of my favorite movies.)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley. This book series is just begging to be a BBC mini-series! They're set in a small English village in the 50s and the narrator is Flavia de Luce, an eleven year old girl obsessed with chemistry (particularly poisons), annoying her older sisters, and solving crimes. I don't read these books for the mysteries, though they're usually interesting...I read them for Flavia, a hilarious/precocious/sometimes annoying character, her family and the cast of villagers, and the whole atmosphere of the stories. This series is wonderfully quirky.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry. If you've read a lot of dystopian fiction over the past few years (like The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.), then this one probably seems quiet and mild. But The Giver was written years before those. I feel like most people read this one and then stop, but I really enjoyed the entire series. The second book, Gathering Blue, seems to be overlooked, but I felt a connection the main character because she's a natural dyer and works with fiber. :) But the last book, Son, might be my favorite. It was strange and slightly disjointed but I think it wrapped up the series perfectly.

A Distant Melody, by Sarah Sundin. The three books in this series surprised me so much! I used to read a lot of Christian historical fiction, but most of it was set during the 1800s. These books are about three brothers who are pilots during WWII (and their love interests, of course). Sarah Sundin obviously did her research, so there's a lot of detail. But I never felt overwhelmed by the information about planes or attacks that she was including, it was just very intense and interesting. The first book was probably my favorite, though the third was incredible, too, and everything was tied up at the end beautifully.

What are some books that you enjoy but don't mention as often as you should?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Yarn Along

Reading: The Dirty Life, by Kristin Kimball. It's a memoir written by a woman who fell in love with a farmer she was interviewing for an article. She ended up moving from the city, marrying him, and starting a farm with him. I'm really enjoying it so far- it's interesting and very readable. I'd forgotten how much I love a good memoir. (The only other one I've read this year was Fred Astaire's, and as much as I respect Mr. Astaire, it was incredibly dull.)

Knitting: Another pair of socks! I have been working on my two bigger projects again (sweater and shawl), but for easy, mindless knitting there's nothing better than a sock. Though red and turquoise are a bit clashy with each other, I do like those colors together and honestly, this sock is knitting up better than I thought. It's still not the prettiest sock, but there isn't any thick, tacky pooling like I expected.

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

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Knitting: alpaca socks.

Finally, a finished project! It seems like it's been a long time, and it has been two months since I shared one. These are plain vanilla socks, though I did make a few changes. When I first started knitting, my tension was very tight, but over the last couple of years it's loosened a lot, which means that my most recently knitted socks are slightly baggy.

These were a trial pair, and thankfully the changes worked well! I still used the same basic pattern I always use. I just went down a needle size (to size 1 DPNs, the tiniest needles I've ever used). Since I was worried about them being too tight, I also cast on 68 stitches rather than 64 (more notes in my project page linked below). These socks seem snug and denser than my others, but I won't be able to see a real difference until I've worn them more. :)

I absolutely love the way this yarn knitted up. Variegated yarn is hit or miss, and I've always had problems with it pooling in ugly ways. But I'm so pleased with how these turned out! The yarn is Misti Alpaca Hand Paint sock yarn (Marino colorway), which is an alpaca, merino, nylon, and silk blend. I'd never used it before, and it seemed splitty at first, but I ended up loving it. It has a bit of a fuzz to it because it's 50% alpaca. As long as it wears well, I would definitely knit with this yarn again.

Ravelry project page.

Friday, April 1, 2016

What I Read: March

Unfortunately, with a couple of exceptions, March was a rather lackluster reading month! As usual, click on the title for my Goodreads review.

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu. This book seemed to borrow a little too much from the classic stories that it references, which made it feel unoriginal. The writing was pretty at times, but the ending was anticlimactic and overall it was just okay.

The Key to Extraordinary, by Natalie Lloyd. Natalie writes the most charming stories! Her books are so comforting somehow and I want to live in the magical little towns she creates. :) I didn't love this one quite as much as A Snicker of Magic, but I still really enjoyed it.

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, by Morgan Matson. I loved Morgan Matson's book Since You've Been Gone, which I read last summer, so I was very excited for this one. It seems to be most readers' favorite book of hers. I liked it, but I was left a little disappointed! I didn't feel connected to the characters...honestly, I didn't feel much at all with this book (which doesn't make sense, given what the main character has been going through).

The Secret of the Old Clock, by Carolyn Keene. I hate to say it, but this was another disappointment! Maybe I was expecting too much. I mean, if I went back and read, say, The Baby-Sitters Club now, I wouldn't expect to find a well written classic, would I? Nope. I wish I had read Nancy Drew as a kid, because I think I would have enjoyed it much more than I did as a twenty-something. The writing was just so distracting and cheesy that I couldn't get past it. It turns out that while I love the idea of Nancy Drew, I don't love the actual books. But that's okay! :)

The Sign of Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle. I didn't love this one like I did A Study in Scarlet, but it was still good. It was just as readable as the first one, and while the mystery wasn't particularly interesting to me, it was worth reading just to see more of Sherlock and Watson. (Also, Mary! Though she doesn't play much of a part, other than to have Watson fall in love with her. The same day that he meets her...yeah.)