Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Wisdom of Books

Awhile ago, I shared some quotes I'd written down from TV. Today I'd like to share some book quotes. These are all from Louise Penny's books.

Louise Penny's character, Armand Gamache, is particularly wise. This first quote is how I feel about knitting. I choose to do it anyway.
He walked briskly to the young couple and their son and joined them as they walked to the stall Old Mundin had set up. It was full of furniture, hand made. A person’s choices were always revealing, Gamache found. Mundin chose to make furniture, fine furniture. Gamache’s educated eye skimmed the tables, cabinets and chairs. This was painstaking, meticulous work. All the joints dovetailed together without nails; the details were beautifully inlaid, the finishes smooth. Faultless. Work like this took time and patience. And the young carpenter could never, ever be paid what these tables, chairs, dressers were worth. And yet Old Mundin chose to do it anyway.
The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny 

Stupid people worried Gamache. They were unpredictable.
The Hangman by Louise Penny 

Gamache listened, but didn’t nod. Didn’t agree or disagree. He was bending much of his will to disengaging from Br├ębeuf, while still listening closely.
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny 

It isn't just Inspector Gamache that's clever, though.
Yes, I’m in debt. Never was good with money and now that apparently I’m not allowed to steal, life is much more difficult.
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny 

“Do you think he’d lost his mind?” Clara asked. “I think,” said Myrna slowly, “that Peter could afford to lose some of his mind. It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.”
The Long Way Home by Louise Penny 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Quotes: Books

These are all book quotes about books, a glorious world within an already glorious world.
Bringing a book of your own to school was a no-no, and not to recess either, where you were supposed to be getting balls thrown at your head. Carrying a book was practically against the law at summer camp, where downtime was for forced mass song.
 Books are how cautious kids get to experience a kind of secondhand rebellion, a safe way to go off the rails.
(Years later, the literary critic Liesl Schillinger would dub these “mumblenyms”—words mispronounced by heavy readers who’d encountered them only on the page.)
 This is every reader’s catch-22: the more you read, the more you realize you haven’t read; the more you yearn to read more, the more you understand that you have, in fact, read nothing.
 It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I understood it was okay and even right to read what you wanted rather than what you ought.
My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul 

There was a universe inside every human being every bit as big as the universe outside them. Books were the best way Nina knew—apart from, sometimes, music—to breach the barrier, to connect the internal universe with the external, the words acting merely as a conduit between the two worlds.
The Bookshop on the Corner: A Novel by Jenny Colgan 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Quotes: Funny

It's time for some funny quotes.

“There are only so many hours in the day, Simon. Two, three people—that’s all any of us have time for.”
“There are more people than that in your immediate family, Penny.”
“I know. It’s a struggle.”
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 

You and I…we despise almost everyone, which means we save all our love and affection for a small few. I don’t know how they put up with the intensity of it, but they do.
Neanderthal Marries Human: A Smarter Romance by Penny Reid 

Oh thanks be to the God she doesn’t believe in.
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths 

I don’t want to do anything. I don’t even want to start this day because then I’ll just be expected to finish it.
 Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

I have to admit that humans waste a lot of their time—almost all of it—with hypothetical stuff. I could be rich. I could be famous. I could have been hit by that bus. I could have been born with fewer moles and bigger breasts. I could have spent more of my youth learning foreign languages. They must exercise the conditional tense more than any other known life-form.
The Human by Matt Haig 
“I had enough adventure as a child,” Sophie said firmly as she poured. “I’m having a staid adulthood to make up for it.”
Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie 
Shitsofuckit. This is just your life, your career, your world, my brain said to me. No reason for you to be nervous. Why are you such a pain in the ass? I asked. It’s the job of every neurotic artist to have a brain that tortures them, my brain answered. Well, fuck off, I demanded.
Rock Chick Reckoning by Kristen Ashley 

Why would she take one of her two days of quiet and solitude a week and spend it with people? Nice people, certainly, but people who wanted to talk and interact.
The Obsession by Nora Roberts 
“You’re a very unusual man.”
“I have no context with which to frame a reply to that observation.”
Memory Man by David Baldacci
Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.
 Every single surface told a story. A long one. With digressions.
I felt the disorientation of a generous offer that in no way lines up with anything you want to do: like a promotion to senior alligator wrestler, or an all-expenses-paid trip to Gary, Indiana. 
 Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan 
The railway hit Harrow on the Hill in 1880 and it’s been downhill ever since, culminating in one of those formless red brick shopping centres which artfully combines a complete lack of aesthetic quality with a total disregard for the utilitarian function for which it is built. As a result, your average shopper has only to spend ten minutes inside to be reduced to a state of quiet desperation
The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch 
We are all ignorant. There are beaches and deserts and dunes of knowledge whose existence we have never even guessed at, let alone visited. It’s the ones who think they know what there is to be known that we have to look out for. “All is explained in this text—there is nothing else you need to know,” they tell us. For thousands of years we put up with this kind of thing.
The Book of General Ignorance by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Quotes: Emotion

These quotes are ones that explain some nebulous emotional state. When I read them, I understood them profoundly, but I'd never been able to put the feeling into words.

I'll read anything Rainbow Rowell writes. I bet even her grocery list is fantastic.
He sat back in the seat and looked over at her. “I wish you’d go away,” he whispered, “so that we could finally talk.”
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 
They’d even gone to therapy together after their mom left. Which seemed weird, now that Cath thought about it. Especially considering how differently they’d reacted—Wren acting out, Cath acting in. (Violently, desperately in. Journey to the Center of the Earth in.)
Cath couldn’t control whether she saw Levi on campus. But she could worry about it, and as long as she was worrying about it, it probably wasn’t going to happen. Like some sort of anxiety vaccine. Like watching a pot to make sure it never boiled.
Cath had tried to call Levi first—not because she thought he could help, he was four hours away—but she wanted to touch base. (The “tag” kind of base. The kind that means safe.) 
Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell 

These are ones I've collected from various books:
So I guess you could say Neel owes me a few favors, except that so many favors have passed between us now that they are no longer distinguishable as individual acts, just a bright haze of loyalty. Our friendship is a nebula.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan 
Decent people who were curious, interested, and even sad about Angie’s death, but felt it in a removed way. A protective empathy. If I feel bad for Josie Archer, then it won’t happen to my family.
Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum
It was like being rolled over by a steamroller made of flowers, Abigail thought. It didn’t really hurt, it was all very pretty and sweet-smelling. But you were still flattened.
The Witness by Nora Roberts 
And I knew the point of love right then. The point of love was to help you survive. The point was also to forget meaning. To stop looking and start living. The meaning was to hold the hand of someone you cared about and to live inside the present. Past and future were myths. The past was just the present that had died and the future would never exist anyway, because by the time we got to it, the future would have turned into the present. The present was all there was. The ever-moving, ever-changing present. And the present was fickle. It could only be caught by letting go. So I let go. I let go of everything in the universe. Everything, except her hand.
Kissing is what humans do when words have reached a place they can’t escape from. 
The Human by Matt Haig 

Seth’s voice stayed quiet, but his eyes—full of noise—stayed on Susan’s face.
The Obsession by Nora Roberts 

"I love it. I just… If you had scanned it in—I feel bad you had to ruin the actual photo.” 
“I didn’t ruin anything,” she insists. “I cut out the only two people I cared about in that class.”
The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer 

I hardly ever spoke to live people. It wasn’t that I was stupid (although a lot of teachers thought so when I first entered their classes), or that I didn’t like people. It was just that there didn’t seem to be a lot to say that someone wasn’t already saying.
Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech and Marc Burckhardt 
I squirmed in my chair. I didn’t know what to do. My mental hands were tied. I had been flung into a part of life that was over my head and I was in danger of drowning in ignorance.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley
Dan and Dad’s relationship always had an edge to it, as if the two men couldn’t quite embrace each other’s ways and personalities. They were like two jigsaw pieces with the same bit of sky on, but which didn’t fit together.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick 

“I should enjoy that,” she said, stretching the truth so thin that really there was nothing of it left.
First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh 

All people are children when they sleep. There’s no war in them then . . . They . . . open their hands halfway, soldiers and statesmen, servants and masters. . . . If only we could speak to one another then when our hearts are half-open flowers Words like golden bees would drift in.
To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon 
Addison felt a deep-down, strangely detached sort of devastation.
A Darling Bay Christmas: Three Heartwarming Holiday Short Stories
--This one by Juliet Blackwell

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


I'm finding things hard.

News stories make me want to lie down in the road and never get up, but I feel guilty not listening.

I feel despair at the decisions our political leadership are making, and I feel like my letters are pointless.

Plus, should I really have to tell anyone, but particularly our elected leaders, that their job is to watch out for those who need it most? That they need to be most concerned with the poor, the jobless, the homeless, those needing extensive medical care? Isn't this obvious?

This is clearly not obvious, as evidenced by the bullshit form letters I receive back from those elected officials.

I am disgusted and appalled by Trump and cannot understand why there are those who are not equally disgusted and appalled. This then makes me feel badly because I feel I am living a double standard: I expect you to understand my position but I do not have to understand yours.*

I feel confident we're more fucked up than ever before, but then I remember mustard gas and Hiroshima and Vietnam and KKK lynchings. Then I just wonder if we're doomed to be a racist, violent, hate-filled species that kills itself off.

Personally, I'm having a harder time than usual with the short days. I bought a light therapy box, but I still struggle with feeling I should just sit on the couch and eat mac and cheese until March.

I then feel guilty that I'm struggling because I live in the first world, have a job, have good health, have a wonderful partner and friends, etc.

So many things in my life are great, but... it's just hard right now. I'm putting a lot of energy into life. I'm forcing myself to stick to my workout routine. I'm using the light therapy box. (I typed "life" therapy box. Freudian slip.) I'm making sure to get good sleep. I'm trying to eat healthily more often than not. What I want is to watch British murder shows and eat mac and cheese and not move. What I'm doing is quite different, but I'm so tired.

It's just hard right now. It'll get better. The only way out is through.

*Because my position is right, damn it. Sigh. Not helpful.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Zippered pouches!

As I mentioned, a friend and I took a six-week sewing class. We met a couple hours one evening a week.

One of the reasons I was excited about this class is that we were going to learn about zippers. In the past, I have paid someone to put a zipper in a knit cardigan. Zippers are scary.

Now they're less scary. I have a healthy, hesitant respect toward zippers now rather than a blind terror.

The pattern was a zippered pouch. We did one unlined and then one lined. I worked on making more lined ones the past couple of weeks.

I made every mistake imaginable: sewing the exterior wrong side out, sewing the interior as the exterior (just on half, of course, so I couldn't pretend that was my intention), using quilting tape instead of basting tape (totally not the same thing and doesn't work), trying to sew up the hole in the lining where I turn things inside out and having to do it 3 times to actually catch both sides of the hole, using the wrong bobbin and completely buggering the machine. Really, I was diligent in making errors.

But I fixed them. The pouches turned out great despite (because of?) all the mistakes.

I've replaced the $2 cosmetic bag I've been carrying for years with my knitting notions in it with my very own handmade zippered pouch. It makes me feel like a crafting ninja.

See that purple and pink felt in the bag at the bottom of the picture? Remember this? 
I made that nearly eight years ago and still use it all the time.

I think the point of this post is a reminder to myself: New things are supposed to be hard. Make mistakes, then fix them.

And also, know when to take a break. For me, that time was yesterday when the rage at yet another stretch of quality time with the ripper could literally be felt in my stomach. Take a break. Come back to it later. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

Now I'm thinking about sewing a cover for my machine...

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Wisdom of TV

I keep a notebook by my normal spot on the couch so I can write down quotes from TV. Here are some from the book:

"All I know is that I don't want to be mad anymore."
"Then maybe don't be."
Robert and Sol in Grace and Frankie

"I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? It's just a fancy word for changing your mind."
"I will not change my mind."
"Then you will die stupid."
The Doctor and Bonnie (Zygon, not me) in Doctor Who

"I don't want to talk about it."
"I regret the words I've said already."
Rosa Diez and Raymond Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

"Grow up?! I have a Roth IRA! I eat wheat toast! YOU grow up."
Terry Jeffers in Brooklyn Nine-Nine

"Kimmy, I don't know what to say, so I'm hoping the tone of my voice makes you think that I do, okay, sweetie?"
Titus Andromedon in Kimmy Schmidt

"You're very Grace right now. I mean, there's a lot of Grace going on."
Frankie in Grace and Frankie

"Macrame is just like knitting except everyone hates it."
Archimedes in Puss in Boots

"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No, I don't think I'm emotionally available for that yet."
Mitch in Rosewood

"That's enough. Life is too short for conversations like this."
Elderly writer character from PC Game The Raven

"I like books. They're so much less terrifying than people."
Leonard Finch in Grantchester

"Does sarcasm help?"
"Wouldn't it be a great universe if it did?"
River Song and The Doctor in Doctor Who

"And, Dad, how do you feel?"
"Let me check in." <pause> "Nope, never mind. That was scary."
Bud and Sol in Grace and Frankie

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sewing 101

A friend and I are taking a six-week beginning sewing class at Crimson Tate. The first week we made a pin cushion (think square bean bag filled with crushed walnut shells). Last week we worked on a fancy pillowcase.

My mother-in-law is a delightful person, plus she provided half the genes for my very favorite person. For these reasons and others, she deserves fancy pillowcases for Christmas. I worked on hers this weekend. 

I wonder how many fancy pillowcases I need to make before it feels less stressful than disarming a bomb.

The answer is more than four.

Tomorrow there's a rumor we're going to work on zippers. Like Little Red Riding Hood, I'm excited and scared.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Stripy, Stripy, Stripy

I don't even quite remember how it happened. I think I saw this cowl somewhere (ravelry? pinterest?) and fell in love. Then Knit Picks was having a sale on some of their Chroma. Then I was talking with a friend and we were discussing possible colorways.

Anyhow, this happened.

Bad Blood Cowl (mine ravelled here),
and Knit Picks Chroma Fingering in Dear Diary

I used just over one skein of the Smoothie Sock and not quite two balls of the Chroma. The pattern suggests just knitting until you run out of the 100 gram skein of each, but I knit a bit more than that to get it the length I wanted.

It's an easy pattern. It starts with a provisional cast on of 107 stitches (which I can do only if I watch this video every single time I need to do the cast on), then has 2 rows of the first color and 2 rows of the second color for 10 repeats, then 3 rows of the first color and 3 rows of the second color for 10 repeats, then 4 rows and so on until you have 8 stripe rows.  Then you graft the two ends together to make a cowl.

If you are ready for this step at your lunch hour and realize you don't have another circular needle, you may be tempted to try various other bits from your knitting bag, such as stitch holders and shawl pins. These will not work. You should then remind yourself that it is July, and you do not need to be in a rush to finish a cowl on your lunch hour. Furthermore, remind yourself that you can't kitchner 107 stitches together in a lunch hour anyway.

I like the cowl a lot. It's long enough to loop twice around my neck.

I have the yarn picked out to make another one for a friend. This time, I'm going to avoid the tedium of progressively wider and wider stripes and start with the 8 stripe sequence and decrease down to 2. I know that it's exactly the same amount of knitting, but I'm betting it won't feel like it. Score one for brain trickery!

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Remember how I had that list of projects I wanted to do but had never done, like Grandma's knitting bag? Another project on that list was i-cord coasters.

I'd seen an article in Interweave Knits Summer 2015 magazine about a little doohickey that makes i-cord. I've knit my fair share of i-cord, and it's tedious, if by tedious you understand it makes me want to poke my own eyeballs out with a dpn. With the Embellish Knit doohicky, you feed the yarn through the top, do a bit of futzing at the beginning to get it either behind or in front of metal pegs that look like tiny latchhook hooks, weight the bottom of the yarn, turn the handle, and voila! I-cord. 

It takes 3 i-cords roughly 6' tall to make a coaster. Once the i-cords are made, you braid them together tightly, then sew the braid to itself in a spiral shape.

This means we now have another use for scrap sock yarn. Angels are singing, and they are singing about the joys of using up tiny balls of fingering weight yarn. The harmony is glorious.

I've made 6 of these. They tend to pucker, but soaking them and then blocking them under something really heavy makes a big difference. (That also could be solved with more practice. It has something to do with the way I sewed the braid to itself.) I made 2 for me and 4 to give as gifts. I don't have any desire to whip up more at the moment, but it's a nice trick to have for when the scraps begin to get me down.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Before speaking

"Before speaking, recognize what motivates your words." -Lama Surya Das

When I was in college, I worked on a project with another student and one of my Religious Studies professors on faith development. We did in-depth interviews with people to discuss their faith journey. James Fowler's Stages of Faith informed the project, and, honestly, the book was one that helped me accept my own spiritual journey as valid and beautiful even though it differed from what was expected of me by my family.

That's not what I'm thinking about today though.

I'm thinking about one of the meetings we had during that project. The professor said to me, "What do you think, Bonnie? I like the way your mind works." I don't remember what I said, but I know what I wish I would have said.

I wish I would have said, "That's because I only talk when I have something to say." 

I didn't. I felt pressured into speaking before I was ready, wanting to live up to some unexplained and possibly nonexistent expectation of one of my favorite professors. 

The truth is, as a very introverted person, there's a lot of thinking that happens before most of my speech. Many, many, many times I think of the right thing to say--the thing that feels right in my mind--and the conversation has already moved on to something else.  That's frustrating, but I think I'd rather have that than my life filled with inane chatter.

More than one person has suggested I become a counselor, typically after dumping their problems in a verbal avalanche. I think that sometimes people like to confide in me because I listen to them. It's not that I have some sort of powerful insight that puts all their problems in perspective; it's that I am able to be present in their presence and hear what they're saying without saying much at all back. I'm a sounding board, and that allows them to figure things out themselves.

In high school, when I would struggle with homework (usually math), Mom would sometimes tell me to explain it to her. I thought this was stupid. Obviously I couldn't explain it to her. I needed someone to explain it to me. But, often, it worked. In explaining it to someone else, in talking it out, the things I didn't understand became things I did. She wasn't able to help me with calculus, but she helped me with calculus.

I write this as a reminder to myself. It's okay to be quiet. It's best to listen and only speak when I have something to say. Consider my motivation and whether what I say will help, hurt, or just fill the world with distracting noise. Intention.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Grow What I Love

I make promises to myself at the end of every growing season.

Often it's the same promise I made the year before, such as, "I will not neglect to water the garden in July just because I want to sit on the couch in the air conditioning." I have a somewhat shaky relationship with the rain barrel in July, but I reaffirm my promise each year.

Last year, I promised something new: I promised to plant less vegetables and more flowers. Part of me felt that was really irresponsible. I told that part to shove it. Seeds are cheap. I overwinter dahlias in the garage, so those are free after the first year. A lot of my flowers are perennials.

Plus, buying plants is always better than a crack habit, so there.

Flowers bring me joy. Fresh flowers in the house always make me happy, and fresh flowers in the house that I've grown myself make me doubly so. 

Daisies, zinnia, bachelor button, dahlias

We feed birds, which means we also feed chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits. Some of those little bastards have gotten into the raised beds this year.

Most of my pepper plants have been destroyed. I don't even care all that much.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

One Year

About a year and a half ago, I started seeing a personal trainer for the first time. She was very nice, but it was hard. It was early in the morning in the winter, so I drove there in the dark and the cold in order to feel weak for half an hour. I persisted for a few months, and then my trainer decided to quit training and become a nanny. (Oddly, nannies get more sleep than trainers.)

I didn't want to lose momentum, so I joined the JCC. It's within walking distance to work, so I decided I could work out right before or after work and thus avoid the siren song of the couch.

I talked to a coworker's partner who works at the J to get trainer recommendations. I called them and they promptly set me up with someone else. (The person recommended wasn't available.) I put on my mental armor and made an appointment.

He was physically intimidating. He looked like a stereotypical trainer. That was scary to me. It had been scary to go to the nice, female trainer who understood when I needed to sit down because things were going a little black around the edges of my vision. I wasn't sure I could work with someone who looked... like that.

But he was kind and encouraging at that first meeting, and as we worked together he continued to be. He is very careful of my back. I have scoliosis, so strengthening my core to avoid back injury is one of my primary goals.

We started out meeting twice a week, but that's not financially feasible for me long term. Now we meet once a week and he writes workouts for me two other times a week. He emails when I don't show on a day he expects to see me in the gym, and that means I rarely skip. I've found that I do really well with that accountability, and I'm grateful for it.

Tomorrow will mark one year since our first appointment. I gave him a thank you card this morning.

He made me do alternating walk up planks and deep lunges. I choose to believe that's his way of saying, "You're welcome."

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

HANDSOME: Yeah, You Are

Exciting news! Pamela Wynne's latest genius project, HANDSOME, is now available! As Pamela says, "Handsome: Man Sweaters for Every Body is an e-book collection of six menswear sweater patterns designed to fit every size, shape, and gender of adult human."

She's not screwing around. I did one of the test knits for this, and there are options. The specific sweater I knit has narrow/average shoulder option, A-line shaping option, and custom-length sleeves with the cute thumb hole. There are also custom calculators so you can make sure you knit yourself a sweater that actually fits well.* She wrote these patterns using real people for measurements, and the lucky devils who modeled are now the owners of sweaters knit specifically for their body.

I knit the pieces for the blue Kale pictured above, and Pamela did the finishing. That fabric was glorious, and it fits the model beautifully. I would wear one of those sweaters in a heartbeat.

Check out the lookbook here. She's running KALs for each sweater and has a Ravelry group for the patterns.

These aren't just for men. Men's knitwear is an underserved market certainly, but these sweaters are good shapes, well-designed, and easily customized so they can fit anyone. We all got lucky here.

I'm thinking gray, but I always think gray.... Wouldn't a gray Kale be lovely? In my head, I'm already curled up with a book in my new sweater.

*I'm going to work hard at not thinking about the sweaters I knit that I don't wear because I don't like how they fit. Spilled milk and all that.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Grandma's Bag

A couple weeks ago, I was feeling plagued by projects I had told myself I wanted to do but had never done. Let's pause a moment and recognize what a gift it is that I have a life that can be plagued by my hobbies instead of real problems.


So, I emailed some smart friends about it. Lynn asked if maybe I was just tired of making things and needed a break. I sat with that for awhile and decided that I just hadn't been in the mood to do new things. A tenth pair of diagonal rib socks? Yes. A project that I couldn't do while zoned out on the couch? No.

Mysteriously, that was what it took to get unstuck. 

I don't remember my grandma knitting, but she did it a lot before she had Parkinson's. Parkinson's is terrible. 

Grandma's old knitting bag had sat in a garage for years. It was badly, badly torn and frayed, held together in places with safety pins, was disgustingly dirty, and contained some dubious black things that made me shudder. I cut the material off the wooden frame and washed it. It was worth the risk of it falling completely apart in the wash. There was no way I was using it for a template as it was.

Once clean, it sat and stared at me judgmentally for months.

I was off yesterday, and I spent it at home working on one of the bag. It started with a list and some math.

I had already purchased and washed the material I wanted to use for the project, a canvas for the outside and a satin for the inside. In addition to the bottom of the bag, there's another flap that goes under the wooden frame to hold it in place. Since that and the long seams on both sides that go over the handles had to be done with the frame in place, there was a lot of handsewing. 

I tried to be Zen about it. I only sort of succeeded.

I measured my notion bag and made a pocket for it in the lining. It's possible that pocket is wrong side out, but I'm sticking to the story that it depends on your perspective. My perspective says it's fine.

Seven hours, a bobbin refill, a bent sewing machine needle, far more handsewing than I anticipated, only one shouted outburst of, "FOR FUCK'S SAKE," and it was finished.

I learned some things, certainly. I would have done the lining differently if I had it to do over, but thank God I don't have to do it over. No 4-H judges will ever look at it, and it doesn't matter that there are some wonky areas. I'm pleased with it, and I'm thrilled to be able to use something that was grandma's for a hobby we share.

Last night I loaded it with a mostly finished hat that just needs a pompom, a matching, long, worsted weight cowl in progress and the 6 balls of yarn the cowl requires. It all fit, which makes me think this might be related to Mary Poppins' carpet bag. 

Thanks, Grandma. I'll think of you whenever I use it, which will be a lot.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Some yarn is harder to work with than others. Most of the time, I can figure that out by looking at it and avoid it. Sometimes I can't.

Diagonal Rib Socks (mine ravelled here)
knit in Regia Hand-Dye Effect in 06552

This yarn is splitty, and got VERY thin in sections. I am not a fan, and I'm not sure how they'll wear. The socks look pretty, and the pattern, as always, is great. (I think this is my 10th pair of this pattern. Ann Budd knows what she is doing. I knit mine slightly differently than the pattern, but just because I'm odd and not because there's anything wrong with the pattern.) I'm just grateful to be finished and moving to a yarn that isn't so difficult to work with.

And I'm praying I didn't buy another ball of this, but I'm too scared to check the stash to find out for sure.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

All the Loopiness

Yesterday I took some pictures of the Loop. It's a lovely bit of knitting.

Loop (mine ravelled here),
knit in Madelinetosh 80/10/10 Fingering in Spectrum 

The Spectrum colorway is my very favorite. Each stitch has the possibility of an unexpected pop of color, but all the colors look lovely together and not at all like clown barf.

The edge is garter stitch.

Then an i-cord bindoff that is a Zen meditation. Breathe. Accept what you are doing. (Abandon hope of ever finishing, but that's where my Zen broke down.) It's beautiful when it's done.

I enjoyed myself so much that I knit another.

Knit in a mysterious sparkly gray from the stash
and Knitpicks Chroma Fingering in the Roller Skate colorway
(ravelled here)

I love this one just as much as the first one. I was worried about how the long gradient of Chroma would behave, but it's lovely. Chroma is unspun enough that I think this pattern is a great use for it. It won't get a lot of hard wear wrapped around my friend in a fetching manner.

Pretty, right?

For both of them, I did a modified garter stitch tab as suggested by a genius on Ravelry and also did a yo between the first two and last two sts on each right side row that I then dropped off on the wrong side. This kept the edge from being too tight. I'd love to take credit for both those ideas, but the truth is that I got both ideas from the Ravelry projects for this pattern.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

No Words

Well, I don't really know what to say.

I haven't been posting because it feels like shouting into the void. The political shambles of our country is immense and gut-wrenching and faith-shaking, and it somehow seems both imperative and disrespectful to talk about knitting when action after action being taken by the President and Congress takes us farther from respect, compassion, and justice and closer to intolerance, isolationism, and whatever the hell you call it when policies are made to benefit those who need it the least.

I am knitting. I am also listening to the news except when it becomes so overwhelming that I can't.

I'm reading fluffy fiction. I am also regularly donating to a local charity that works to relocate refugees in the area (here if you're interested).

I am working out, trying to take care of my body both for my physical health and also because working out is good for my emotional health. My trainer, by the way, is an immigrant married to an American. They are afraid to leave the country on vacation for fear he won't be allowed back in.


I think, in the face of our reality, of course I don't know what to say. There aren't adequate words, but we have to keep speaking anyway.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Loop, Backward and Forward

I was surfing Pinterest, like you do, when I fell upon a gorgeous photo of Loop by Casapinka. I was discussing it in depth via Messenger with a friend, like you do, when she casually told me she bought me the pattern and it was waiting in my library.

No, you can't have her. She's mine. 

I was not deeply committed to the laceweight sweater I'd just started (because, duh, laceweight), so I decided to cast on.

And then found myself completely flummoxed by choices.

After dithering longer than I care to admit, I chose Madelinetosh in Spectrum, my very favorite colorway in the entire universe, paired with Knitpicks Hawthorne Kettle Dyed in Blackbird. I began.

And promptly screwed up. Those two colorwork rows should be the same. The pattern clearly states that you hold the yarn in the back when you slip stitches. As you're working a wrong side row, the back is the front of the work. I was thinking about the wrong side as being the back, held the yarn in the wrong place, and, well, crap. I can't blame that on anyone but myself. Rip.

That fixed, I trundled ahead. I loved Spectrum. 

I did not love the pooling in the black.

In a move I'm incredibly proud of, I stopped and considered. I didn't like the pooling. Could I learn to like it? It probably needs better light. I went to bed.

The next day I took it to work, spread it on my desk, and glanced at it from time to time.


Yep, still pooling.

Sigh. Still pooling.

Besides the fact that my time is precious, because we all know I've knitted something I hated despite the truth to that, this colorway is too precious to use it in a project that screams, "I'M POOLING!" at me every time I see it. Rip.

I went back to the stash. One of the grays I had initially rejected was Good for Ewe's Sultry Steps. It's a great gray*, but it was fuzzy and monochrome and I wasn't sure I'd like it in this project.

I was wrong.

Loop (mine ravelled here),
knit in Good for You Sultry Steps in 98 Pewter 
and Madelinetosh 80/10/10 Fingering in Spectrum

Onward, again.

*For me, a great gray doesn't have brown undertones. Brown undertones make me sad.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Spot for Sewing

I love Ikea. If it weren't for the combination of Ikea and Andrew's grandpa getting remarried shortly before our marriage (and thus combining two households), we would have had no furniture when we married. Seventeen years later, we still have a ton of Ikea things in our house. I feel perfectly fine that my nonexistent children will not inherit antique furniture. 

To say I sew sporadically is an understatement. I can go months between quilt blocks. I had set up the machine on our card table, and the weight of it over all those months was causing the table to warp. Turns out, sewing machines are heavier than cards. That meant the machine went back in its box, which made it even less likely I would sew.

I was talking about this with a friend, and she told me that she and a coworker had recently made an Ikea run to get furniture for their office. I spent a little time on their website, and...

Alex drawer unit in pieces

My order arrived a week ago Saturday. That night, after a nap to recover from  7-year-old niece's birthday party, I started assembly.

Besides the drawer unit, I bought a Linnmon table top and two Adils legs. Even with shipping (we don't have a local Ikea... yet), it was very reasonably priced.

Then I decided the drawers could be more fun. Since I am a whore for the rainbows, I already owned paint in the colors I needed (from this project), so this past weekend I unscrewed all the drawers and spent some time in the garage.

I love it.

The drawers really brighten things up. I put an Eiffel tower lamp on the desk that we've had since our wedding (the light in that room is crap), and a Spontan magnetic board with some inspirational things and some quilt-y directions on it.

This will make it easier for me to sew more frequently, and I'm hopeful that means I actually will sew more frequently. I sewed two squares last night, so now I have fifteen of the fifty-six squares of the gray quilt finished, and I already have my eye on the pattern for my next quilt.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fabric Stash

This post is completely self-serving. Sorry about that.

I have been known, on occasion, to purchase fabric when I'm having a rough day. This weekend I took photos of the pieces I had. Documenting what I have will theoretically be a way to ensure I don't buy repeat fabric, and it could possibly keep me from impulse buying. (That might be asking too much.) This doesn't include bits left from the first quilt or the fabric I'm currently using for the gray quilt.

Buying fabric is much better and less expensive than a crack habit. I regret nothing.

Timeless Treasures Knitting Sheep Yarnball Sheep (1 yd.)

Greatest Adventure Clouds Multi (1 yd.)

Vintage Market Main White (1/2 yd.)

Wonderland Petal Flamingoes Love (1/2 yd.)

Wild & Free Luminous Field (1/2 yd.)

Millie Fleur Bees & Bits Spring (1/2 yd.)

Fleet & Flourish Wreathed Whiff (1/2 yd.)

Polka Dot Stitches Doily Gray (1/2 yd.)

Polka Dot Stitches (Green) (1/2 yd.)

Snapshots Main White (1/2 yd.)

Snapshots Home White (1/2 yd.)

Snapshots Multicolored Hearts (1/2 yd.)

Cherie Memorandum Cosmos (1/2 yd.)

Cottage Garden Wallpaper Gray (1/2 yd.)

Typewriters - Black & White by Cotton + Steel (1 yd.)