Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Farewell to Yarn Along

I was sad this morning to read that Ginny has retired Yarn Along, a Wednesday link-up she has hosted since 2010. Of course, I totally understand her readiness to move on, and I'm sure many of us with continue with Tuesday's Keep Calm and Craft On with Nicole. Still, I will miss the reading element that Ginny brought into our world.

So, it is with bit of sorrow that I post my last Yarn Along, which includes both a new knit and a new book.
Summer Camp is a shallow and long shawl designed by Laura Aylor. The solid sections are Sun Fiber Valley yarn, and the speckled yarn is from Hedgehog Fibres. Both are yummy and fun to work with. It's designed to be a mindless knit, and it is quite easy.

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven follows three fictional Londoners through World War II. Chris Cleave, who wrote Little Bee, takes on a narrative voice that has the ring of history, but I'm not far enough into the book to say if it works. The dialogue sparkles with dry British wit, so I'm encouraged by the first few chapters.

Joining up with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Class With Laura Nelkin: Swoon!

Madison may not be a big city, but it is a big knitting city. We had our Knit In this weekend, and the line-up of teachers was amazing. Saturday morning, a friend and I took a class on knitting with bead from Laura Nelkin, author of Knockout Knits.
The class was amazing. Did you know that you should never use beads on single-ply yarn? Me, neither. It's not strong enough. Also to be avoided are wool/silk blends and cashmere. I also learned that you need to use bigger beads when you are placing beads (like with a crochet hook) than when you pre-string beads.

This is the Stellanti Shawl, which was our favorite one of her samples. The beaded sections are super easy so this is definitely going in my queue. Nelkin is quite funny. She described more difficult projects as being "anti-Alzheimer's patterns."
I do love knitting jewelry, though I haven't made any for quite some time. Nelkin's samples gave me plenty of inspiration.

The class was just for a half day, so we shopped after scarfing down some sandwiches from home. It turns out that I am quite the Wisconsin shopper. The two reddish/pink skeins are going into a second Perhaps, Perhaps. They were dyed by Sun Valley Fibers (Mount Horeb, Wis.), and I cannot say enough good things about their yarns. They are stunningly beautiful, a joy to knit with, and hold up well to wear.
I could not resist the mini skeins from Ewetopia (Viroqua, Wis.). All my favorite colors in one package! I'm looking for the right poncho or shawl pattern. Let me know if you have any ideas -- though I should mention that the yarn is DK weight.

Last but not least is the gradient cake in blue and purple, which I bought to make an Antarktis out of, but now I'm thinking it would make a good Stellanti. Such tough choices.!The yarn is by Knit Circus, which is right here in Madison. Yes, I am lucky!

This seems like enough for one post, so I'll tell you about fair isle with Mary Jane Mucklestone later!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Halfway Through

I'm especially pleased about finishing this sock. I think I started it two years ago! It's just a boring 2x2 rib sock for a man -- the kind of thing I don't love knitting. But it feels good to be halfway through a pair. I'm determined to start the second one right away. (No ball band, but I'm pretty sure it's Opal or Trekking XXL.)
I'm halfway through The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman. It's OK for popular fiction. The bird theme is woven deftly into the plot, and I appreciate that. If you like popular fiction, you'd probably like this book about two sisters and how their lives are entangled with a famous (fictional) artist.

I finished Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga with mixed feelings. I think it's an important story, but most of his story has been lost with the passage of time. The book is padded with lots of unnecessary detail, and I found myself skimming more and more as I went along.

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Quick Trip; Quick Post

Keith and I had a whirlwind trip to Virginia this weekend to see these two lovebirds get married:
That's my brother Eric and his wife Nancy. They met at The College of William and Mary where both are law professors. It was the first time we got to meet Nancy's family, some of whom live in England, so it was a lot of fun.
I played a very important role: helping to put together the centerpieces for the wedding dinner. Ironically, my brother found this idea on the Internet...that would be the same brother who used to tease me about "crapbooking." Last laugh is on me!
On of my nieces snapped this photo of Keith and I at the church.

When we got home, Naji made it clear that he wants to go on a trip, too!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Trying to be Monogamous

No, I'm not talking about my marriage. Wait -- that doesn't sound right. Of course, my marriage is monogamous! I have an awesome husband who never comments when I buy yarn; although, he does like to tease me about my stash.
Knitting and reading, though, are harder for me to be monogamous with. But in an effort to simplify my life, I'm forcing myself to pick up hibernating projects. This week I pulled out my Reyna.
I love this shawl and the yarn includes my favorite colors. However, I am struggling with the netting section I'm working on. The netting keeps changing direction, so matter how careful I am with following the pattern. Sometimes the simple patterns are the hardest! At least for me.
And I'm still reading Spectacle by Pamela Newkirk, about an African man who was "taken" from his homeland and displayed at the Bronx Zoo in 1906. I think books like these are important in understanding how race is and was perceived in the United States.

I'm joining up with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Book Yarn Along

Because I had a few recent finishes, it seemed reasonable to cast on a new sock, Idlewild by Kirsten Kapur in Sun Valley Fibers MCN in the color Jungle.
The sock just happens to be from Drop Dead Easy Knits. I don't buy a lot of knitting books because there are just so many and I can't knit that fast. But this one I've looked at for a while. I adore Kirsten's patterns and she has some really good ones in this book. As promised, this sock is pretty darn easy!
I started reading Spectacle by Pamela Newkirk, which is the true story of an African man who was exhibited at the Bronx Zoo early in the 20th century. Man's cruelty to man never fails to amaze me. Nor does the spirit of people who survive such travails. I've only read about 40 pages, but it's fascinating so far.
Did you notice my tea? It's Inuit tea that I bought in Quebec last summer. I've tried two flavors, and it is some of the best herbal tea I have ever sipped. I'm going to have to see if I can get more online

I'm linking up with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Procrastination!

The title of this post is to be sung to the tune of "Anticipation" by Carly Simon -- at least by those of us who remember that 1970s hit!

I have finished two shawl/scarves, Brickless and Perhaps, Perhaps, and now I need to do some serious blocking. Actually, I finished them both last weekend, but haven't begun to block.
Brickless in Wowza by Miss Babs
Am I the only one who hates blocking? At least these two projects don't need to be pinned or strung on wires. Both of these have lace or netting, so I know that I will be pleased with the results. Still, there is something tedious about blocking.
Perhaps, Perhaps, in gray and black from MadTosh and green from Sun Valley
Both of these are going to be gifts. Go me! Two holiday gifts done before March 1.  I now have a hankering for some selfish knitting.

And speaking of procrastination, I am not keeping up on the embroidery piece I'm calling "My Grandfather," which I'm doing as part of the Jewish Artists Lab. I like my idea, and I like some of the execution. But the embroidery is not fun for me to do.
See all those lines? They all have to be embroidered. And they are all in browns and black. I am a color girl. I love bright, rich, deep colors. This is the last time I'll lock myself into such a brown color scheme.  I know that all my knitting pals out there will understand. Isn't color part of what we love about yarn?

I am still feeling under the weather, and I'm finding that many others have had colds/flus that last for weeks. So tedious! I did see two movies this weekend. On Friday night another teacher and I went to see Rock Dog with two students. It was quite entertaining, and I'd highly recommend it as a family film.

Keith and I saw Moonlight last night. Mistake! It's almost as depressing as Manchester-by-the-Sea. Both are beautifully written and acted -- but SO sad. I think I'm going to get serious about avoiding depressing movies. Life in Trump's America is sad enough!

I read on Mere's blog that some Republicans want to make cuts to the school lunch program. What??? If they had to face these kids every day, they'd see it differently. There are two kids who I feed every day -- and others that I feed from time to time.  You have to have a very low income to qualify for free hot lunch; these are genuinely hungry kids! And hungry kids can't learn, which will make it harder for them to become functioning adults.

These are hard times for many Americans. Working with many poor students and immigrant students helps me realize how lucky I am.