30 January 2023

FO Post: Last Year, Three Weeks To The Day

Hello, here's another Monday getting us into the week. This one however, has two things going for it for me. First, the Philadelphia Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl!!! They won their conference championship game yesterday, which was nice enough to be on TV for the most part after I got home from my Sunday shift at the yarn store. Second, for the first time since the end of October, Monday is my own day again! I was filling in on Mondays for a friend who had knee replacement surgery, and she is back at work today, so my schedule goes back to three days a week instead of four. I didn't really mind it, in that it wasn't a true hardship for me to work an extra day, but I like having Monday to myself.

Also, today on this Monday, I have a finished project to share. I know I showed you this picture a little while ago:

This was my New Year's Eve cast on, and I was enjoying knitting the colorful stripes. Well, I finished them on January 21, 2023, which was exactly three weeks since I started knitting them.

Project: Last Year's Socks
Pattern: Plain vanilla sock pattern that I generally use
Yarn: Advent 2022 Serendipity Sock Yarn, in the colorway Sweet Shop, from the Freckled Whimsy; the cuffs, heels, and toes are leftover Hedgehog Fibre Sock in the Budgie colorway
Needles: US size 0 (9-inch circulars)
Modifications: I decided to do a ribbed heel flap, which is not my usual go-to heel, but I just felt like trying it. We'll see how much I do/do not like it.

So my last cast-on for 2022 has become my first FO of 2023, and I feel like that's a good start to things.

I was going to cast on another pair of socks right away, but The Tim informed me that he lost one of his "most favorite" fingerless gloves that I knit for him a couple of years back, and could I knit him another pair? At first I thought, well, I'll make them as a Valentine's gift, but then I thought why give myself a deadline, so I'll start them when I start them, and finish them when I finish them. He has other ones in the meantime to use, it's just that he liked this particular pair the most. So I'm willing to get them going right away, but not kill myself finishing them in record time ...

In other news, my Christmas cactus is still going strong:

For a plant that has done nothing for years, it's taking a good old time making sure to bloom for as long as possible, which really makes me happy. I figure I should enjoy it while I can, because who knows when it will decide to grace us with flowers again?? 😊

And that's it for the news from here on the last Monday in January. Today I have to pick up a couple of prescriptions, stop at the store to get some more milk, and decide what to fix for dinner. Which leaves lots of knitting time, and I'm definitely not complaining about that. (Especially after last week, which turned out to be a real sh*tshow.)

I hope your week starts well, and keeps up with good stuff. Take care.

25 January 2023

I'm Still Here!

Well, I didn't mean to disappear briefly, but I realize that it happened anyway. But no worries, I'm still here and making an effort to keep up with everyone's blogs, whether or not I comment.

Anyhoo, I hope all of you are doing OK, or better than OK. I've been busy with a lot of stupid but necessary things, but I've also been knitting. Over the past weekend, I finished the socks I've been working on (FO post to come), and that was a good feeling. 

But I also finished the body of the cardigan I have been knitting since last year. You may recall that I put it aside at the end of the spring since I didn't want a lapful of wool during the summer. Then once fall hit, I got busy with gift knits. So I finally pulled it out at the beginning of January, and over the past weekend, I finished the bottom ribbing. It was such a sense of accomplishment!

Here's the front (though I realize it's hard to see well in this photo):

And in the interest of full disclosure, the back:

And I'm also excited today, because the beret I knit as a sample for the yarn store is featured in today's Instagram post! Here is the link, if you want to see a much better photo than the one I showed you. 😊

So that's the latest from here for now. I think I'll fix myself a cup of tea and read for a bit. I'm not working today because I have two dr appts. One is already over and the other is this afternoon, so I can have a little time to myself.

I hope the rest of your day goes well. 

16 January 2023

Monday FO Post: Last One For 2022

I hope all of you have had a good weekend, and for anyone in the U.S. who is enjoying a Monday holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I hope you have a wonderful day today.

Today I'm sharing the very last FO of 2022. You may recall the only other photo I showed was when I started the ribbing, back in November:

I've been hoping to get a modeled shot, and maybe someday I will, but in the meantime, I wanted to show you my last FO of the year.

Project: Toque for Tim
Pattern: Antler Toque by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Plucky Knitter Trusty Worsted, colorway Be Steel My Heart
Needles: US size 6 and 8
Modifications: None

Notes: This was a wonderful, fun pattern to knit - and it's also a free one! I had a couple of questions at the start, and contacted Tin Can Knits, and they responded immediately, which only raises them higher in my estimation.

I decided I wanted to knit a cabled hat for The Tim as a Christmas gift, and when I was searching around for patterns, I remembered that I'd always wanted to try this one. Even better - I felt 99.99999% certain that I had enough yarn left over from my Steel Doodles sweater that I wouldn't even need to buy any yarn! (As it turned out, I had enough plus some still left, which really made me happy.) 

The pattern is extremely clear with what to do, and has both written instructions and a chart. I love knitting cables, and after about two repeats, I had the pattern in my brain, so I could knit without constantly referring back to it. And of course, the yarn is yummy and super soft, so the whole experience was enjoyable.

Plus, I got to learn something new - I'd never done cable decreases and they were necessary for the top of the hat. Again, the instructions in the pattern were so clear, it wasn't hard at all, and please look again at the photo above to see how nice the top of the hat looks. 😊

Best of all, The Tim loves his new hat, and says it's not just cushy and soft, but really cozy and warm. He's worn it nearly every day since he opened it, except for the stupidly warm days we've had. And that makes my heart very happy.

Overall, it was a good gifting season for me; I finished everything on time, I enjoyed knitting each thing, and all of them were very enthusiastically received. As a knitter, you really can't ask for much more than that.

13 January 2023

When 2023 Starts With A Friday the 13th

Yep, right off the bat, January gives us a Friday the 13th <cue scary music>.

Do you worry about it at all? I'm not overly superstitious, but I have to admit that I find it fun when a Friday the 13th rolls around. I'm not a fan of scary movies, but I am intrigued by people's superstitions and how for some, they rule their activities. I guess basically I agree with Baby Yoda:

How has your week been otherwise? Mine has, for the most part, been uneventful. Today I have an eye exam (yearly checkup), and I want to pay some bills, and undecorate the Christmas tree so that we can recycle it tomorrow. Philadelphia has locations where you can drop off your Christmas tree and it will be turned into mulch to be used at city parks. We make sure every year that we have ours ready on the last weekend that they collect them.

Tomorrow other than tree recycling, we'll likely put the rest of things away and stay put for the most part. Sunday I have a shift at the yarn store, and The Tim is on his own. 

Speaking of the yarn store, the other day I answered the phone there and a lady was calling from one of the suburbs. She said that it's hard for her to get into the city, so she wanted to place an order, but over the phone, not online. She wanted an actual person (which I guess meant me) to: 1. choose some baby blue yarn in the amount she gave me for a baby sweater; 2. take her credit card info; 3. pack up the yarn and send it to her. She said, "I know that Loop has a good reputation, so I trust that what you think is baby blue will be what I think is baby blue. And I know you will shred the credit card info so that no one will steal it. So please only call me back if you have no baby blue yarn at all, otherwise I'll just expect a package."

So I ... started looking for superwash baby blue yarn to send to her. I had the info on the yardage she needed, and though it didn't sound like she cared all that much about the price, I didn't want to spend too much of her money. (Though I've always thought it would be so much fun to choose yarn and not worry about price. But for me, not someone else, you know?) I found a reasonably priced yarn that a lot of our customers use for baby things in a shade that I considered to be baby blue. It was the day of Wednesday Knitting Circle, so I held up a ball and said to the group, "Would you consider this color to be baby blue?" and they overwhelmingly agreed. So I packaged it up, put through the payment, and hopefully the lady receives her yarn today or tomorrow and is pleased with it. But that is definitely the only time since I've started working there that someone had that type of request. I mean, it's probably less risky requesting something like that from a yarn store than from other types of businesses, but in spite of the "all knitters are wonderful people" trope, I'm not sure I'd ever feel comfortable doing that. 

Anyway, it was a fun if unusual exercise. 😊

Have a good weekend, everyone. I hope you get at least a little bit of time to yourself to enjoy what you like.

11 January 2023

All for ME!

Hi all, I hope your week has been going well. Today I decided to join Kat and the others for Unraveled Wednesday - it seems like such a long time since I participated, and there's no time like the present, right? So here's what I'm knitting and [what I was] reading.

After making gifts for people, all of which I'm happy to say were very well and enthusiastically received, all of my current projects are for ME! In an unusual twist for me, instead of my usual three projects, I currently have four. I'm making a cowl (no photos yet), and have returned to the cardigan I started last spring (no new photos). The cowl is going pretty quickly and the cardigan should move right along when I can devote some time to it.

Other than those two, I'm working on the socks that were my New Year's Eve cast-on. I have finished the gusset on each sock, and can move on to knitting the foot. These are fun, I do love stripey socks!

I'm also making a capelet, which frankly surprises me, because I have never had the desire to knit a capelet. But there was a sample of one at the shop, and it was so ridiculously cozy, I decided I needed to knit it. So far I'm still working on the neck (it's a top-down knit), so this is all I have:

The yarn is Woofolk Flette Bulky in the Dark Brown colorway. When I posted this photo on Instagram, The Tim commented on how that was the weirdest looking piece of red velvet cake he ever saw. Because he is a laff riot, as you know. He'll be jealous when I'm cozy and warm around the house because I'm wearing my finished capelet, and he doesn't have that OR any red velvet cake ...

On the reading front, I am currently deciding what my next read will be. But I finished this book the other day:

It was an enjoyable read, a little bit of mystery but mostly a story of family, both those we make and those we are born into. I thought the ending was a bit surprising at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Not great literature or a deep thoughts book, but perfect for when you want to read something interesting and engrossing but not have to worry about lots of characters or family trees that go back to the 1600s or things like that.

I hope your making and reading is making you happy these days. I'm having a good time so far this year with mine. 😊

10 January 2023

FOs of 2022 : Work Life

I thought I would show you the FOs I have from 2022 that are samples for Loop, since they are still things that *I* knit!

First up: The Worsted Watch Cap (Loop store pattern)

This is a basic hat pattern, and can be made in various sizes and weights. This particular one is the Adult Large size, knit with Big Bad Wool Weepaca in the colorway Gray Wolf. Sooooo soft!

Next: All-Ways Hat, by Jared Flood. 

This is the hat that in my opinion, for all intents and purposes, is the Musselburgh hat (I think that pattern is a lot more straightforward to read and knit also, but that's just me maybe ...)

Anyway, this is knit in Brooklyn Tweed Tones Light Yarn, in the Zest Overtone and Zest Undertone.

Here we have the Puff Cowl (another shop pattern):

This was knit in Rowan Brushed Fleece, in the Hush colorway. Another soft finish, but this one is hard to tink back if you make a mistake, since the yarn kind of melds together once you make a stitch. (This colorway is a lovely light purple, even though it looks gray in photo. That is my poor photographic skill, I'm afraid.)

Next, the Salut Cheri Beret, by Sari Nordlund (a free pattern on her website):

For this, the yarn used is Berrocco Mochi, in the Garnet Colorway. This pattern was quick and easy to follow, though it's only written for one size, which was too small for my [admittedly] big head. But it does make a lovely beret, and the yarn is luscious and comes in many really pretty colors.

Lastly, the Seed Stitch Scarf (no "official" pattern):

This was made with Malabrigo Noventa yarn, in the Sea Horse colorway. Noventa is advertised as Super Bulky, but it seems more like maybe regular bulky, but that's not up to me. Anyhow, this is knit on size US 10 needles, and involves casting on 17 stitches, slipping the first stitch and knitting the last stitch on each row, and doing K1, P1 each row to create seed stitch. This yarn is pretty, but it's really hard to use, as it really easily twists on itself while you are knitting.

It was really fun to get to try yarns that I might never try on my own for whatever reason, and to be introduced to them. It's also fun when customers come in and want to see something knit in a certain yarn, or a certain type of pattern, and mine is one of the samples!

The Loop patterns are usually free with the purchase of the yarn. If you want to "be in the know," as it were, you can always sign up for the shop's newsletter/e-mail list by sending an e-mail to knit@loopyarn.com and asking to be signed up. Usually that's where things show up, as far as new patterns, yarns, etc.**

So those were my "work" FOs for the year - not bad for someone who just started working there at the end of July 2022, and is not the world's fastest knitter. 😊

**I'm not encouraging this or pushing as part of my job, I just know that over the years that I've been on the newsletter list (long before I ever thought of working there!), a lot of good patterns have been added to my collection.

04 January 2023

Book Report for October, November, and December 2022

Happy New Year! I hope 2023 is treating you well so far. I still have some posts for you that are related to the end of the year, and this is the first one. Here are the books I read/attempted to read during the last three months of 2022.  Not as many as I would have liked, but there were a few weeks during this time when I either just couldn't settle my brain enough to read for any length of time, or couldn't read for other reasons. In any case, here's what I did read, and my thoughts about each one.

Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood. I started this and was finding it interesting.  But then my glasses got broken, and the book was due at the library, so I'll have to try and borrow it another time to see what my final verdict will be.

The Litter of the Law, by Rita Mae Brown. It's getting close to Halloween in Crozet, Virginia, and the residents are preparing not just for the holiday,but for the end of the growing season. There's also the Haunted Hayride coming up, a fundraiser for the local library. 

But when two bodies are discovered that were originally thought to be Halloween decorations, things turn creepy. Were the murders related? How? Why?

This was another entertaining installment in this series, and because of the style and circumstances of the killings, a bit more unsettling than usual. But still enjoyed every page.

The Golden Couple, by Greer Hendricks. This book is really intense.

Avery is a "disgraced" therapist in Washington,  DC - she has lost her license due to an unethical approach to helping clients.But she is busier than ever after an article about her and her 10 Step " maverick" approach to helping couples appears in the paper. 

When Marissa and Matthew Bishop become her clients, to help deal with Marissa's infidelity,  Avery sees them as the perfect couple for her approach. 

But it turns out that Marissa has other secrets. So does Matthew. And so does Avery. But is it possible that they are/will somehow intersect, even though they've never met before? How is that possible? 

There are so many twists and turns and red herrings here, you have to keep reading. I really enjoyed this book, I wasn't expecting it to be what it was.

Flying Solo, by Linda Holmes. This was not a long book, but I still think it could have used another round of editing. 

Laurie has flown to her hometown in Maine from her current home in Seattle to clean out the homeowners her recently deceased Aunt Dot. Laurie was close to her aunt for her entire life, and the house was like a second home. When she finds a beautiful duck decoy tucked away in a drawer, she becomes fascinated in finding its story. Her friend June and former high school boyfriend Nick set out to help her.

It's a good story, and it all makes a good point about single, childless adult women and the worth of their lives. But there just seemed to be parts where it all dragged to move along.

I wanted to like it much more than I did.

In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware. As usual, Ruth Ware sucked me in right from the beginning with the first few words of this book. 

Leonora "Nora" Shaw, a fairly successful crime writer, receives an out-of-the-blue invitation to a hen party, for her best childhood friend, who she has neither seen nor spoken to for 10 years. She and another friend from those days who she stayed in touch with decide to go together.

They arrive, at a location that is both remote and a bit weird. Their hostess, a current devoted friend of the bride-to-be, has gotten the use of her aunt's summer house for the weekend.

The whole thing is weird and unsettling and Nora soon learns why she was invited. But soon things head south, and before you know it, Nora wakes up in the hospital, overhearing the police officer outside of her room talking about a murder. Is Nora the killer?

This was a real page-turner, and appropriately spooky for the Halloween season.

Haunted Hibiscus, by Laura Childs. Another good story in this series. In this installment,  Theodosia tries to find out who killed a young woman author in a particularly gruesome manner at a local haunted house event. The police investigation leads to Theodosia's detective boyfriend being shot, so her motivation is stronger than ever. 

I enjoyed this, with its Halloween timing,  descriptions of Charleston S.C., and the yummy concoctions from the tea room. But the mystery was a good one as well, with quite a few red herrings thrown in. A good read especially during spooky season.

The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles. A book that appeals to so much that I love!

This us abook that details and celebrates how the librarians at the American Library of Paris kept things going during World War II, even once Paris was occupied by the Nazis. 

Odile Souchet is a French young woman who gets her dream job working at the Library. Along with her co-sorjers, they provide books, magazines, and answers to questions to their patrons every day. When the war starts, and then when the Nazis take over Paris, the staff gas to use their courage and creativity to provide materials.

Another aspect of the story takes place in the 1980s in Froid, Montana, where teenage Lily decides she will do a school report about her somewhat reclusive neighbor. Lily and the neighbor develop a deep bond, and they help each other in surprising ways.

The author used a lot of archival sources to tell the librarians' stories, as well as as talking to those involved and family members. 

There are some unexpected turns in both parts of the story, but I thought this was a good read.

Caught Dead Handed, by Carol J. Perry. When Maralee "Lee" Barrett returns to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts to interview for a reporter job at WICH-TV, she finds that the job has already been filled. As she is leaving, she comes across a body in the water near where she has parked her car. It turns out to be the body of the tv station's well-loved psychic. 

It turns out that Lee finds herself the new psychic at the station - and while she is preparing to try and be convincing, she has a clear vision. Her Aunt Ibby, who raised her and who she is living with, tells her that she had visions when she was a child.  

Lee starts the job with some success, but she really wants to find out what happened to her predecessor.  As she starts poking around, she has another vision, and learns some disturbing things about some co-workers. 

This was a much better book than I was expecting,  once the whole thing was revealed about Lee having visions. There is a real plot and story involved, and I really wanted to learn how it was all resolved.

The Ghost Fields, by Elly Griffiths. While digging for a development of new houses, a body in a World War II plane is discovered on the site. The land was owned by the Blackstock family, and the body inside turn out to be a son who emigrated to America, joined the war effort, and was shot down, thought to be lost at sea. 

While Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are trying to learn what happened - because the pilot was shot in the forehead - more and more Blackstock familysecrets are revealed. They learn that one of the family members has turned one of the airfields used by the soldiers - "ghost fields" - into a pig farm, and things really heat up when human remains are found in the pig feeder.

A lot happens in this book, and many of the Blackstock family members are creepy weirdos. Frank Barker, the American historian from the previous book, shows up again, causing Ruth to question her feelings for him.

The book ends during the lead up to Christmas, which I didn't know, but it leads nicely into the time of year when I enjoy reading holiday-themed books.

Winter Solstice, by Elin Hilderbrand. This is the final book in what was supposed to be a trilogy featuring the Quinn family. It's a bittersweet tale, since while some family members are clearly finding their way to happily ever afters, things are also happening that mean their lives will be irrevocably changed forever.

I enjoyed this book, and appreciate how it brought the family's story full circle, but I have to admit that I liked the others in the series more.

The Alpine Christmas, by Mary Daheim. The small town of Alpine, Washington is getting ready for the holidays, and Emma Lord, the editor of the  Alpine Advocate,the town's weekly paper, is busy with the prep for the next issue as well as finishing plans for her Christmas celebration.  But when someone finds a woman's leg, and shortly after a partially frozen body is found near a river, there's suddenly a lot that needs to be uncovered in Alpine, and Emma digs in.

This book was good enough, but I really only finished it to see what the resolution was, and that was an interesting twist. But frankly it didn't grab me much otherwise.

Twelve Slays of Christmas, by Jacqueline Frost. Holly White has returned to her hometown of Mistletoe, Maine when her Christmas Eve wedding plans are canceled. The good thing is that she can help out at Reindeer Games, the Christmas tree farm and well-known holiday attraction. But when the head of the local historical society is murdered on their property using one of the stakes her father made to identify different types of trees, she needs to clear his name.

This book was fine, but the characters weren't that interesting to me. And the person revealed as the murderer was seldom part of the story, so it was all kind of blah in my opinion.

Twisted Tea Christmas, by Laura Childs. In this installment of the series, Theodosia Browning and her associates are catering a party at the home of one of Charleston's wealthiest residents when she is murdered and robbed. So besides being busy with the planning of a few special holiday-themed tea events, she wants to find out who was responsible for something so reprehensible.

Not only does she eventually find the killer, but she uncovers a massive fraud being perpetrated on the wealthy residents of Charleston as well.

Enjoyable, but the food descriptions will definitely make you hungry!

Apple Cider Slaying, by Julie Anne Lindsey. This was a pretty enjoyable book, and for me, for reasons that probably don't matter to a lot of other people.

Smythe Orchards, the family orchard business in Blossom Valley, WV, has been around for a while, but is struggling financially. Winona Mae Montgomery, who was raised there by her grandparents, decides that she will organize a Winter Festival during the Christmas season to bring in crowds and hopefully start a new tradition for the orchard that will help it stay open longer every year, and give herself and her grandmother additional income. It's her way of trying to save the business.

But when the body of a meddlesome neighbor is found on the property while Winnie is walking the local banker around in hopes of him giving her a loan to open a cafe, things start to head downhill fast. First of all, people in the town start to suspect that her grandmother was somehow involved in the woman's death. Secondly, the orchard is closed for a time since it has become a crime scene. And when more deaths occur, and Winnie starts receiving threats, it's clear that the danger level has amped up.

In many ways, this is a typical cozy mystery, with the requisite types of characters and plot lines. But the things that made this stand out to me were as follows: 1) it takes place in northern WV, and most people don't realize that part of the state exists, and is at all different than the southern part of the state; 2) it mentions my home town and one of its historically most important - and well known - business symbols; 3) none of the characters portrayed is the "typical" person you see in most media from WV - you know, the hillbilly with no teeth who lives in a shack, etc. 

Granted, there are guns and pickup trucks, but I have also learned while moving to various parts of the country that guess what - those are everywhere.


What about you? Have you read/listened to anything particularly good or even really bad lately? Let me know in the comments. 

01 January 2023

January 1, 2023

 Let's do this!