Friday, April 6, 2018

Knitting: autumn socks.


These socks took forever. I started them at the beginning of September and just finished them at the end of March! There was a lot going on, and I did knit other things in between. But I'm really glad to have these off the needles. As you can tell by the title, they were supposed to be my fall socks.

The yarn is from Iria Yarn Company, in her tweed sock base in the Sweater Weather colorway. I bought it at Carolina Fiber Fest, and it was so pretty in the skein! When I cast on and started knitting the ribbing, I knew that it was going to pool. So I used the stitch pattern from the Show-off Stranded Socks, which helped change pooling into almost-stripes in a pair of previous socks. It did the same for these until I reached the foot! Then for some reason, the purple and blue all stayed on top and the orange on the bottom, making it look like I stepped in orange paint. :)

So these aren't the prettiest socks I've ever made, but I don't mind too much! I really do like the texture of this stitch pattern, but it makes me fingertips hurt after a while because of all the passing over YOs.

Ravelry project page.

Monday, April 2, 2018

What I Read: March


In March, I read a couple of books that I'd been meaning to read for quite a while! Like last month, I read four books and enjoyed most of what I read. As always, click on the title for my Goodreads review!

Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead. I had previously read When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead and really enjoyed both of them. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with this one! I still love the timeless feel of her stories and her writing style...it feels very nostalgic for me. But there were some non-linear chapters in this book that felt confusing and out of place, and I couldn't get past one of the main plot points. More details in my review!

They Do It With Mirrors, by Agatha Christie. I think I'm going to try to unofficially read an Agatha Christie novel every month or two this year. I always enjoy her books so much! This is a Miss Marple mystery, and she's actually very involved right from the beginning in this one, which I appreciate! It wasn't particularly memorable, but I still enjoyed it.

The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank. I may have read part of this as a kid in school, but I don't think I'd ever read the whole book, and not this definitive edition anyway. It was so interesting and of course sad, knowing how things turned out. Anne's talent for writing is obvious, even just in this diary as a thirteen or fourteen year old. It was a bit repetitive at times, but that's understandable. I was so drawn into the lives and personalities of the people living in the annex. Their optimism near the end was especially heartbreaking.

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer. Finally read a Georgette Heyer book! I enjoyed it so much. It was like Jane Austen meets screwball comedy. I kept thinking that Sophy reminded me a lot of a less proper Emma, until she pulled out her pistol! At times it felt like there was just a little too much going on, but overall it was such a fun read. I look forward to reading more of her books.

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 birthday...it'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 yarn...it'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 pill...it 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.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Currently.


Reading: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte. I got this book for Christmas last year (2016 I mean), but I'd been putting off reading it. First of all, it's almost 600 pages long, which is a little intimidating! Also, I wasn't sure how I would feel about it...Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books, and Wuthering Heights is one of my least favorites. But so far I'm really enjoying it! It's a lot more readable than I expected.

Knitting: Besides a couple of hats for other people, I'm still working on my Find Your Fade shawl. I was planning on it being quite a bit smaller than the original pattern, but I didn't change things exactly as I should have. So even though I'm only using four colors (just joined the third) and mine isn't as deep, it's still probably going to be as long as the original.

Watching: I got the first part of Marple for Christmas, and I've been enjoying it so much! {Bella likes it too, as you can see. I don't think I've ever introduced her here, have I? Kenny's had her since she was a puppy so of course he's still the favorite, but I think she has adjusted well to having me around. :) She wouldn't stay still long enough outside for me to get a better picture!} Cozy British mysteries are like comfort food to me.

We've also been watching some new things. Kenny got me hooked on Longmire, a show that I never expected to like, so we just watched the first five seasons of that. (We won't see season 6 until it comes out on DVD, so no spoilers please!) We also watched both seasons of Stranger Things and really liked it too. And I just finished the first season of The Crown and loved it.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

My 2018 resolutions.


I'm one of those people who loves making resolutions and setting goals, no matter how bad I am at following through. :) So here are some things I'm hoping to accomplish in 2018.

Bookish:

Read at least 50 books. This is less than I usually read but more than I read in 2017, so hopefully a manageable goal.

Get my own-but-unread books below 100 and stay there. (I'm starting off the year on a book buying ban.) I would love to get way below 100. I don't want to just dip below that number to then have books that I may get as Christmas gifts bump me up at the end of the year. So for as long as possible, I'm planning on not buying any more books and just reading from what I own. (With one exception...Natalie Lloyd's new book, of course!)

Read 5 new-to-me classics. This is also carried over from last year. I own quite a few classics I haven't read yet. And I define the term loosely...they can be children's books, modern classics, etc.

Reread at least 5 books. I love rereading, but last year I only reread 3 books!

Read a big book. Again, carried over from last year.

Knitting:

Focus on making sweaters, especially when it comes to yarn purchases. I've come to realize that I want to wear my few knitted sweaters all the time, so I could definitely use more of them. Especially pullovers. And I rarely buy sweater quantities of yarn...I buy sock yarn and other random bits. So when I do buy yarn, it should be a thoughtful purchase of yarn for a sweater.

Knit lots of socks, and not just for myself. I have so much sock yarn! I'm selfish and want to keep most of it for myself, but I want to use it up and honestly I only need so many socks. So I'd like to make more socks for other people this year.

Spin yarn from my own sheep's fiber and knit something with it. I'm actually hoping to start spinning some of it within the next few days!

Sewing:

Make curtains for our house. So far we only have a valance in the bathroom and two big panels I bought in Target to cover our sliding glass door. I need to make curtains for five other windows.

Make at least three pillow covers. Again, I'm being practical here! I want to recover the pillows on our couch and one in another chair.

Miscellaneous:

Save money. I want to save some myself, like I do every year, but also as couple now that Kenny and I are married.

Improve my cooking skills. They have gotten better, but still need work!

Catch up on my Taproot magazines. Maybe this should have gone under my bookish goals. I subscribe to Taproot and really love the magazine, but I always seem to be behind, reading an issue months after it arrives! I also have back issues to read. So I'd like to get caught up with the current issues.

I didn't add this to my list, but I'd also like to spend more time outside this year. I used to walk on our farm and property very often, but I've gotten out of that habit over the past few years. I'd like to get back into it.

What are your resolutions for 2018?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

In 2017.

2017 was definitely an eventful year in my life! :) It brought the biggest, happiest changes that I've ever experienced.

Kenny proposed to me at the end of March, so we spent the following months fixing up our little house (finished house pictures are coming!) and planning our wedding. Then we got married at the end of October, just in time to spend the holiday season as a married couple. Married life has been so wonderful and natural so far. (2017 had its sadness too though...my grandfather passed away at the end of February.)


My knitting slowed some in 2017, with everything else going on. I finished 22 projects: 11 of those were items to sell at craft shows, and three were gifts. The remaining eight were for myself: five pairs of socks, two sweaters, and a shawl.

Favorite knits: My Germinate shawl and my black Dexter cardigan. (Which I finished before the wedding but haven't got pictures of yet!)

Here's how I did with my yarny resolutions. Knit myself two sweaters? Yep! I actually forgot this was even a goal but still managed to do it. Do more natural dyeing? Nope! Life was so busy that it was never convenient to dye yarn when the plants were in. Learn the basics of weaving? Yes, I did a small little wall hanging on my little lap loom. I enjoyed it, but I don't think weaving is one of my things! Be prepared? Not really. I didn't do much gift knitting this year, though I did knit some hats to sell. Spin yarn from my own sheep and knit with it? No, but I'm hoping to do that very soon!

My sewing resolutions didn't happen. I didn't sew a new quilt or start sewing a pair of jeans. As for my other two more general resolutions, I did manage to save a decent amount of money. And my cooking skills have improved, I think! More out of necessity than anything...I have to make food for my husband now, after all. :) But I enjoy cooking more than I used to!

How did you do with your resolutions in 2017?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What I Read: December


I only read three books in December. I really enjoyed two of them, and the other was just okay (but about what I expected!). As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews.

Snow and Rose, by Emily Winfield Martin. I've always loved Emily Martin's artwork, but I was a little disappointed with the writing in one of her previous books. Thankfully her writing has greatly improved! This was such a sweet, charming book, and of course it was gorgeous.

The Hollywood Book of Death. This book was morbid, which is obviously what you expect from the title. :) It's been on my shelves for years so I finally picked it up and just skimmed through it, reading the ones that I was interested in. It was pretty depressing.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley. I love the Flavia de Luce series! This book wasn't my favorite, because Flavia is at boarding school in Canada, and I do love her in her native setting. But it was still very enjoyable.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Best of 2017: Books


2017 was, once again, just an okay reading year. I unfortunately didn't find any new favorites, and life was so busy that I didn't read nearly as much as I usually do. But still, there were plenty of books that I enjoyed this year!

Best book: I wouldn't consider it a favorite book or anything, but in terms of simple enjoyment, it was probably Something New. I really like Lucy Knisley's graphic novel memoirs...they're fun and quick reads. I thought it was funny that this was the first book I read in 2017, and in my review I mentioned that the thought of planning a wedding seemed overwhelming and stressful. I didn't know that a couple months later I'd be planning my own wedding. :)

Worst book: Make 'Em Laugh, by Debbie Reynolds. I really liked her previous two memoirs, but this one just seemed completely unnecessary. It was dull and repetitive, and it was a sad experience to read it not long after her death.

Biggest surprise: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Finally, a Neil Gaiman book that I actually loved! :)

Biggest disappointment: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night. I was really looking forward to this collection of short stories. I thought they would be quirky and wonderful, and the cover is gorgeous. But they were just a little too weird for me, in a way that I don't find appealing.

As I've said repeatedly, I didn't get much reading done this year, so understandably I didn't do so great with my goals. Here's a recap...

-Read 60 books. I only read 46.

-Get my own-but-unread books down to 100. I was so close to this goal at one point! So close. And if I'd read a little more then I definitely would have met this goal. But then after the books I got for Christmas, I'm back hovering around 120 again. Getting better every year though!

-Read 5 new-to-me classics. Not quite, but if you define classics very loosely, then I read three this year. Two "modern classics": Cold Comfort Farm and The Haunting of Hill House. I also read a children's classic, The Trumpet of the Swan.

-Read a really big book. Nope. None at all.

What were your favorite and least favorite reads of 2017?