Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Losing It a Little Bit

Two things:

First, expecting that a work day is going to be annoying (back after long weekend, one editor on vacation, AND the end of the month) does not, in fact, help me get through the truly, deeply annoying day.

Second, I may be losing it a little. I got an email this morning suggesting authors I might like, and I looked at the first name and thought, wow, I haven’t even heard of that one. Then this afternoon, I got an email from the library that a book I requested had come in, and guess who the author is? Yeah, one and the same. I must have come across it last week, been interested enough to get it from the library, and then 100% forgot all about it.

Sigh. Some days.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Upon Request

I've knit things for my mother over the years, mostly small toys and trinkets, but she doesn't really want shawls or scarves or hats or socks, so not much of that. Recently, though, she asked if I could knit her a sort of tube, a footless sock or legwarmer, to replace a commercial one she has that is getting worn out. Can I? Sure! Glad to!

I played around with another yarn before going to this one, the BFL from Maple Creek Farm that I used to make the Top Notes poncho. I swatched in (from the bottom) US 8, 7, 6, and 5 needles.

Then I cast on with 4s. It made sense in my head in the moment.
I did put it on waste yarn and make sure it would go over Mom's foot and calf, which it will.

So, on we go! And hopefully it will keep me away from the Circle Of Friends Wrap I started with the Kitten yarn, which is delightful but which I want to be the travel project for my trip in a month, not done before I leave.

It is lovely to work with, though.


Friday, May 27, 2022


Well. The world this week, eh? I'm at the stage where I have to take a step back, away from the unfolding news, because I can feel myself getting overwhelmed by the awfulness. Self care, you know?

So I'm knitting, and enjoying the wonderful yarn.

I'm looking forward to having lunch (outside!) with a few friends tomorrow (before a couple of them go back north for the summer), and getting to show them the yarn.

I'm looking forward very much to the long weekend; work this week was kind of a bear, and next week one of the other editors is on vacation, so it won't be better.

I would love to be looking forward to winning the lottery, enough that I could retire! I'm not expecting that to happen, mind, but it's fun to fantasize about.

And I'm listening to Depeche Mode music today--I was very sad to hear that one of the members, Andy Fletcher, died this week, so listening to the music is sad in a way but also full of memories for me, all the way back to high school, and it isn't all sad. That first concert, at the Wang Center in Boston in 1986!

I've laid in some crucial supplies for the long weekend:

Library books and cookies. I'm ready.

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.