Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Getting Knitting

I often get lovely yarn in the mail that I am eager to start working with, but I actually don't go straight from package right to knitting very often. Sometimes I don't know what pattern I want to use, sometimes I'm trying to finish up a project or projects, various reasons.

However, when the order of Kitten came in, right after I had finished a project, and I had already been thinking about what project I might want to bring as travel knitting on my trip next month... well, let's say that the stars aligned.

Reminder: the yarn.

I put a skein on the swift, then hand-wound it instead of using the ball-winder, as I wanted to be extra gentle with it.
Winding it over fingers to keep things loose.
One of my friends can hand-wind a ball that you would swear wasn't hand-wound, as it looks incredibly uniform. Mine aren't like that, but it's tidy enough.
After that, I did a process I call Half-Assed Swatching. Since I often don't even bother to swatch, I give myself credit for doing it at all, even if I'm not doing it "right" (which I know makes some people crazy--sorry if you're one of them!).

I cast on some stitches on a size US 10 needle, which is what the Circle of Friends pattern calls for, and knit in stockinette for a bit. Then a garter row and switched to a US 9.

Honestly? Not much difference to my eye.
So I chose 9 and cast on. Doesn't look like much yet!

But it feels divine, and it's making me happy.

Monday, May 23, 2022

What I've Been Reading

What have I been up to in the reading department of late? Let's see!

I wrote last year about the book club I'm in with some friends, and how we weren't off to a strong start in the Books I Want to Finish Reading category. We've now had 8 meetings (roughly every two months), and other than the month it was my choice, I've finished three of the books and not finished four. Sigh. I may not be meant for book clubs, though I'm not giving up yet. It's such a good group of people, but I don't think what I would like from a book club (a book that I wouldn't necessarily have picked up on my own, but enjoy reading) meshes very well.

Our most recent book was The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni, and wow did that book not go where I was expecting! Some really wild turns, some dubious moments, and yeah, I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might want to read it, but I Had Thoughts (not that I was the only one). At least I finished reading it! And the discussion was good. But it was definitely one I would not have finished but for the book club. Let me just say that the line "This is a haunting, mysterious, brooding modern gothic tale with lessons for real life" from a review on Amazon has me laugh-snorting. What lessons for real life!?

Ahem. Moving on to books I have enjoyed more.

I got the Heroic Hearts anthology from the library recently to read the Patricia Briggs story therein (which was very good, of course, I love her writing). 

But I looked at the other stories, too, because that's how you find new authors to try. And I really liked the story by Anne Bishop, so I got the first of her The Others series from the library, and I've been plowing through them. So good! Maybe a little dark, if you're not in the mood for that, but interesting premise and characters and a found-family feel to it. Sort of. If not all the family members are human, nor want to be.

As for The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, by Theodora Goss, I'm not sure how I got that; maybe my brother gave it to me? I saw it on my shelf and thought, hmm, why not try this? It's pretty interesting, looking at all the daughters of literary characters like Dr Jekyll and Frankenstein, and I wasn't in love with it but certainly had no problem finishing it (though I haven't yet reached for the sequels). I'll also say that I had no trouble following along despite not having read the stories these characters came from; there was enough awareness of the basics that, although no doubt knowing more would have added depth, I didn't feel like I was missing the jokes.

I really enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, by Abbi Waxman; light-hearted and fun, though not without depths, and talk about found family! I wouldn't call it especially realistic or plausible, which some of the reviews I see are unhappy about, but as a romp I enjoyed it very much.

Finally (for now), I really liked Good Neighbors, by Stephanie Burgis, a collection of stories/novellas that make a very satisfying story. As the description starts, "When a grumpy inventor meets her outrageous new neighbor in the big black castle down the road, more than one type of spark will fly!"

Sunday, May 22, 2022

A Blue Letter Day

Two good yarny events Saturday!

First, I recently ordered some splurge yarn, and it arrived. Ahhhh.

That beautiful blue just called my name. Yelled it, really. And then look at the content.

Yeah, 65% cashmere and 35% silk…it really is soft as a kitten!

I’m looking at the Circle of Friends Infinity Wrap, but we’ll see.

The other event is blocking the Wheelwright shawl.

Laid out before soaking. Pinning it will be interesting, eh?

There’s considerable overlap.
It really is awfully pretty yarn.
Even on the wrong side!
Water pressed out in a towel (actually this is the second of two towels).
Now, is this the best blocking job I have ever done? Probably not. But I think it will do the job, and it was as much crawling around on the floor as I could handle.
Dry this morning, somewhat to my surprise. Pins out:

The edges are nicely uncurled, and it falls nicely. Just need to weave the ends in and it's done! Very satisfying.

Pattern: Wheelwright Shawl by Purl Soho, a free pattern

Yarn: Three Irish Girls Springvale DK, in colorway Pride in the name of love

Friday, May 20, 2022

Plans and Plans

Travel Pre-plans

I'm going to visit friends for a few days in late June, and this week my brain suddenly pointed out that I will need a good travel knitting project for that, what should it be, time to look through patterns and stash and hurry up now.

Now, first of all, I don't leave for five weeks. Second, I haven't come near finishing the Close to You shawl (shown here), and it fits the bill pretty well for travel/social knitting. Third, hi, I was working when this alarm went off in my head, I was supposed to be thinking about the epidemiology of AMD, not yarn and patterns. 

Sheesh, brain. Chill for a bit.

Best-Laid Plans

1. I had planned to join a friend yesterday afternoon for a Thai cooking class, but just after I left the house to drive there, I got a call from someone there asking why I hadn't been at the class at 10 that morning. I said, no, I signed up for the 4 o'clock class, and he said that the class had been cancelled and rescheduled "a few weeks ago" and I should have seen an email to that effect. Well, I didn't! (And, it turns out, neither did my friend.) He said they would refund my charge, which yes you will thanks, and I tried to be grateful that he called at all, before I drove an hour each way only to hear that news. But I was looking forward to that class, darn it.

2. I went to water aerobics this morning, which is something I haven't been doing a lot lately, so yay me. But halfway through the class, the lifeguard told us we had to get out of the pool, as there was lightning 8 miles away. This wasn't a shock, as it had been getting ominously cloudy in one direction, and half a class is better than none, but still. Then I did a 15-minute stretch class at lunchtime, and my back is very very grouchy about All This Exercise Nonsense, Are You Crazy or Something. 

Like cats, you can't expect backs to understand that something is good for them in the long run.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Updates: Spam, and Eyes

Good News: Less Spam

I wanted to mention that after several months of waves of email spam, my filter is suddenly catching the previous-normal amount again. I open Gmail and instead of having 100+ spam messages, there are 2, or 4, or 1. It's just as mysterious, but a lot less annoying. I mean, that's roughly three months of deluge and then it stops like a tap was turned off? Weird.

Even Better News: Eyes

I mentioned that I was trying a new brand of multifocal contact lenses--well, maybe not new, but newly available in the -11.50 and -10.50 that my eyes need--and that they looked (ha, punny) promising. And guess what, they are!

That is a year's supply of them. It seems like a huge stack to me, because I've always worn monthly lenses: I took them out every night, but wore the same pair for a month, which means a year's supply fit in one hand. These are daily-wear lenses, which means a lot of bigger boxes.

They're also much more expensive than the ones I wore before, like four or five times the cost. But with the old ones, I was cursing my vision and grabbing reading glasses many times every day, and with these, I'm not, which is a huge difference to my quality of life. I still need readers sometimes, for especially small print or in low lighting, but the difference is tremendous, and I'm grateful that this is an expense I can afford.

Party time! I can see!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Look! I Finished a Thing!

I started this project in January, and while it needs blocking, the knitting part is DONE.

I love how the colors came out in the short rows.

And it's a good size, around and around the shoulders. Blocking it is going to be an undertaking! It's quite big. But I want to try to get the edges to not roll as much, and just smooth it out generally. We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile: I finished the awful report I spent almost a week working on, it's Friday, and the Bruins won last night! I can't have very high expectations for tomorrow, back in Carolina, but hey, if they'd lost last night, they wouldn't even have the chance. We'll see what they do with it.

What are you happy about today?

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Some Things I Love

While my friend was visiting, she noticed multiple things I have that she was very interested in, and finally she said that she hoped I would blog about them all. And why not? 

I'm sure I've mentioned some of them now and again, but here they are together, the things I remember us talking about and a few more. (Most of these images are from, and links are to, Amazon; let me know if any don't work for you.)

Cup covers

I love these! I really dislike drinks dripping on me, which is an issue in this humid climate, and to be able to slip one of these on a drink and have that not happen makes me so happy: no drips, plus it keeps the drink cooler longer (often a factor if you're outside in Florida, let me tell you), and it means that I'm not trying to pick up a slick glass with my ever-worsening-arthritis hands without dropping it (which I did do, not that long ago, at a place where they served water in "elegant" goblets that still get drippy; fortunately for me, it was when lunch was over, and I didn't douse anyone with ice water). I carry one in my purse and another in my car. They come in many colors, from plain black to the ones I got, so you can really get what you want.

Happy Masks and case

Earlier this year, someone recommended Happy Masks as a good brand, and I ordered some (they had a waitlist at the time, but they seem to be caught up now). The filtration is supposed to be excellent, and for a mask they are decently comfortable to me. I ordered both the Pro and the Ultra--both are fine, I can't tell them apart--and I ordered one XL as well as some L, since my measurement seemed to be on the line between the two sizes--the XL works, but the L fit me fine. They can't be machine-washed, but you can hand-wash each a few times, so you get a lot of use out of them.

They also sell a pouch to put the mask in, which I love having in my purse so that the mask isn't just floating around in there.

Scalp massagers

These were for my mother, but she has raved about both the regular massager and the shower one.

Cold brew coffee thing (not its correct name)

In a hot climate, I want cold coffee more often than hot, and I've used for this over two years without trouble. There are doubtless many ways to cold-brew coffee. I tried some of the ready-made pouches but they were messy and I didn't always love the type of coffee used. I read about this set-up and decided to try it. It's nice that you can use whatever coffee or combination of coffees that you want, and that it makes a bunch at a time, not just one or two cups. The filter does have to be hand-washed, but I bought another mason jar so that I can stick the jar in the dishwasher, and still make more coffee if we haven't run the dishwasher for a few days.

How it works is that you put the filter in the mason jar, fill it with ground coffee, pour water in until the coffee is covered--well, actually I fill it part way, put water in slowly, then put in more coffee and water, to make sure the water really gets all the way through--then let it sit for a day (it says 12-24 hours at room temp, but I'm not setting timers, I usually just do it the next day). Then you remove the filter (that part's a little messy, but you get the hang of it) and voila, coffee!

Large ice cube tray: silicone mold

This looks like the one I got at Walmart, but they're certainly available elsewhere. I still do use regular cubes, but sometimes it's nice to have one large one, because it takes longer to melt, and it doesn't bonk me in the upper lip when I sip, the way regular cubes like to do.

Stand-up, fold-flat shopping bags

I like using reusable shopping bags, but it used to make me crazy the way they'd fall over as you were trying to fill them, as well as how they'd pile up messily in the car. Fortunately, someone mentioned these and I got them--in January 2018, so they're holding up! They fold flat when you're not using them, and I find them very handy.

Cell phone holder for the car

I got this before having a car with built-in GPS, but honestly I still use my phone for directions most of the time (the car sent me the wrong way once, which kind of diminished my belief in its navigational powers, though I still love having the map to glance at.) The exact one I got isn't listed anymore, but this one looks the same. It sticks to the dashboard, but not like glue, so you can move it easily, and the set-up is flexible for different phone sizes.

Dry-erase fridge calendars

This isn't something everyone would need, but Mom and I wanted to be able to have each other's schedule at a glance, so I got first one weekly calendar to put up on the fridge, and then a second when it became obvious that by the end of the week, you need to see the following week too. I got two slightly different because the first one wasn't available when I wanted a second, but there are various designs that come to the same point. 

Questions on any of this? Ask away! Things you love? Tell me more!

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

After Vacation

It's so hard to get back to reality after vacation, you know? I have to set the alarm? Work? Really?

After this?

How rude.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Did you say something?

One of the best Maggie photos I've taken.

She stayed that way for maybe five minutes, while I laughed, looked away to try to stop, looked back and saw her and started laughing again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Oh, Um, Hi There! (Plus, Eyes)

Yeah, everything's fine here, just got busy and blogging fell farther down the list. I've been:

  • Working, as usual; I finally got to do a report in Word, after weeks of powerpoints, so that was oddly nice!
  • Recovering from my second booster; it was pretty annoying last Tuesday/Wednesday, then started to improve after that, and I'm back to (what passes for) normal now
  • Doing my usual round-the-house tasks, plus things that Mom would be doing if her right arm worked normally (what are we having for dinner, and is it time for a grocery run?) (And can I get you an ice pack? a drink? anything? please let me do that heavy thing)
  • Trying to keep Mom from overdoing it, as the pleasure of her (slow) recovery from the shoulder replacement means she can forget that her right arm doesn't work normally 
  • Getting ready for a friend's visit, which is exciting! I'm looking forward to it! But it does mean things like making room for the airbed in my office/craft room, as well as some closet and drawer room, and tidying generally.

I don't know, it doesn't seem like a whole lot there, but it's certainly taking a lot of time and energy. My friend gets here Thursday, so I may not be back here again until after she leaves, but I didn't want anyone worrying. Fine, busy, tired: lather, rinse, repeat.

Oh, wait, one exciting thing! Know what this is?

A couple of years ago, when I wanted to try multifocal contact lenses, there was one (yes: one) brand that made them in my prescription. (My eyes are very bad, and the contacts I wear are -10.5 and -11.5.) I tried them, of course, and unfortunately found them too uncomfortable to wear. Like little pieces of sandpaper on my eyes! 

But at my eye check this year, instead of them saying that was still the only option, they found that these now come in my strength! They got me trial ones, I put them in today, and ... they're perfectly comfortable? And improve my vision to where, though I won't be throwing the readers away, I don't need them for EVERYthing? It's early, but this feels very promising. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Still Ow

Here's what annoys me--ha, ha, like there is only one thing that annoys me! Are you new here, to believe that? Well, this is the thing that is currently annoying me the most.

I got the second covid booster, and just like before (both the second shot and the first booster), the lymph nodes on that side are swollen and tender, so it's really uncomfortable. Googling it tells me that it's a normal reaction, it's nothing to worry about, it means my immune system is reacting to the shot and that's what we want! It's like the immune system is yelling, Fire drill! Fire drill! Places, everyone!

However. It also says that if you don't have such symptoms, don't worry, it doesn't mean that your immune system isn't registering the vaccine, it's just not showing that exact effect for you.

So why do I have to have the ouch reaction, if that's the case? 

It's worth it for the protection, but owwww.

Also: if the ibuprofen is actually helping with the inflammation, then without it, I would look like I had a grapefruit under my arm.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Ow Here, Ow There, Ow Ow Ow

How many places do I hurt? Let me count:

  • Left arm, because I got my second covid booster yesterday (delayed after CVS cancelled on me last weekend, but Walmart got us in on Sunday). It's worth it! But I have a sore upper arm, and a very sore and swollen underarm. (Also, this morning when I opened my mouth, my jaw was sore on that side--but it diminished during the day, so I'm not too worried about that.) I also felt tired and draggy all day, but maybe not more than your average Monday.
  • Right arm: I have a pretty deep bruise on my arm that I got Saturday. I was putting stuff in the back of my car at a store when I noticed that a car on the other side of the parking area was inch-inch-inching out, as though me being behind my (not at all large) car was really cutting into their space (though they weren't close to me at all). I moved to the side, and when they still were taking forever, I tried to pull the liftgate down from the side, and bonked it onto my arm. While I am not, nor have I ever been, coordinated, I don't count that one as my fault at all, but it still hurts.
  • Leg muscles, as apparently I have reached an age or stage where crouching and squatting to pin out a shawl to block leaves me hurting for a few days afterward. Ow!
  • Right foot--this one is getting better, but the dermatologist treated something on my foot last week and I've been a little limpy since then.
  • And of course, all the usual aches: sore spot on back, aching sinuses from allergies, some heartburn... I'm a mess, basically!

The list of what doesn't hurt might be shorter today, really. What about you, how are you doing?

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Yarn Shop Shopping: The Haul

I started this post a while back, to show you the yarn store I went to last month, but like so many things, blogging has been bumped down the priority list recently. It isn't that my mother needs a lot of care, but she can't yet do a lot of things that she usually does, and I'm finding it mentally, if not physically, tiring to stay on top of everything. But it's all good, she's getting better, and it's certainly good that I'm here when she needs me.

Meanwhile, yarn shop! With sheep!

And this beautiful yarn, which I totally craved but could not come up with a plan for. But the colors!
This is what I did end up with:
What do they have in common? Well, they each contain some cashmere. Surprise, right?

I also picked up some knit blockers, in a cheery rainbow of colors.

And a row-counter ring, which came most intriguingly packaged, layer upon layer.

And a shorter needle for the Close to You shawl, where a long needle has been very in the way.
They gave us each a project bag.
And this cute little pin!
Which I immediately put on my pin display.
So I can smile at it regularly.

Any questions?