July 2, 2017

Season 2 Episode 5: Pitbulls, Paranormal YA, & Prizes!



I'm back! And I have a new furry BFF named Kimi. Here's a pic of her (bottom) posing with her best furry friend Tipton (top) in a pitbull garden.


I talk more about how I came to adopt Kimi in this podcast episode, and you can find more pics of her on my Instagram.

Pics and more stories about Paddy the Cocker Spaniel can be found here.

Knitting

Patterns I mention:

YOLO by Susan Ashcroft - here's my finished version in Maple Creek Farms fingering wool/mohair blend in the colorway Wheat Fields:


I'm knitting the Gigi cardigan by Devin Ventre of Knitty McPurly in Jacob Sheep wool from our family farm for Rhinebeck this year. I just started it so here's a close up of this yarn in stockinette:


Classic Octopus Hat by Molly Kent - WIN a copy not only of this pattern but the Pembroke worsted yarn in the colorway Copper Agate donated by loveknitting.com and a skein of Cascade 220 in the colorway Pacific, the colors I am using in my version of this hat. Listen to the podcast to find out how you can win! Entries will close when I next podcast, most likely the end of July.

The photo at the top of this post shows my progress and the yarn used in this pattern. The Yarn Collection Pembroke worsted is the orange/coral, and the blue is Cascade 220 in the colorway Pacific.

The modification I'm following that turns this pattern from beanie to slouchy can be found here.

Simple Striped Bag by Willow Yarns - here's my version about half way done:

Reading

I review 3 young adult novels in this episode. Don't be put off by the young adult label, these are great books for anyone approximately 15 years old and up. The links below go to Amazon for informational purposes only.

Firebug by Lish McBride
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glรคsser
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


Bible Study

Information about the E100 Bible Reading Challenge can be found here. Let me know if you decide to try this challenge and/or have recommendations for similar Bible studies!

May 29, 2017

Sheeps and Shawls

Cross-stitch

I don't believe I've done any cross-stitch since spring break. However, this past weekend, I had to wait for workmen to come to my house (so many workmen over the last month), so I decided to finish a project I started in February. "Spring Sheepies" by Michelle Lutzen can be found in the Spring 2016 issue of Cross-stitch & Needlework magazine; it's perfect for spring, for knitters... for knitters who cross-stitch in spring!




The pattern comes with finishing instructions for making a box display which I intend to try this summer. I made the August cottage by Country Cottage Needleworks for my daughter for her birthday last year, and it's still languishing in my craft dresser because framing is SO expensive! These sheep will be my learning project so that I can finish her piece in time for her birthday this August.

Knitting

I blocked my Lacy Prayer Shawl in Takhi Cora Handpaints and love it! As I mentioned in this post, the yarn came from two different dye lots and had been languishing in stash for at least 4 if not 5 years. I'm so glad I finally found a pattern for it, and since it's for me, I don't mind that parts of the shawl are pinker and others are greener. It's all spring colors to me! (My daughter borrowed my dress form so final "glamour" short to come!)


I also worked on my YOLO shawl over the long weekend and made it to the mock cable border. The percentage method used it this pattern is so simple yet so brilliant! The directions state that you should knit 45% of the yarn before starting the border, and I came with 2 grams of that weight at the switchover. 

I need to find more patterns like this! Here's what the start of the border looks like:


I'd really like to finish this before it gets hot here at the Jersey Shore since it's knit in a mohair/merino blend, and I am not one to turn on the air conditioning until it's truly unbearable. A blog reader emailed me after reading my post about this pattern last week, and she's planning to try it. If anyone else gives YOLO a go, please let me know via email or in the comments!

Most Tuesdays I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!


May 23, 2017

YOLO in Moscow

Knitting

While life has yet to settle down (see Instagram posts about our new family member, Kimmy), I started knitting a shawl pattern based on percentages called YOLO. As a high school teacher, I've heard that term many more times than any person ever should, but I like the reasoning of designer Susan Ashcroft:
a simple knitting trick to make little mock cables without a cable needle - just YO (yarn over) and LO (lift over)
This pattern takes the weight of all the yarn then uses 45% for the stockinette upper part and 55% of the yarn for the mock cable border. Genius! When one knits with pricey yarn, one would like to use up the skein yet I always seem to have yards leftover, never enough for another pattern! (At least I never run short of yarn.) I bought a small scale for this project; we'll see how it goes.

I came across this version by Raveler PattiAnnieB in yellow gradient yarn and immediately thought the fingering wool yarn I bought last fall from Maple Creek Farms in the colorway Wheat Fields would be perfect:


With a few very hot exceptions, it's been cooler than normal here at the Jersey Shore, so knitting this sunny mohair/merino blend has been a pleasure this month!

Reading

Without a lot of time to read recently, it took me longer than usual to make it through A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Perfect for my hectic current life, this book starts off with a very basic premise then remains a rather quiet book until the very end.


Count Alexander Rostov returns (yes returns) to Russia from Paris after the fall and execution of the Tsar. He manages to get his beloved grandmother to safety in Paris but remains behind in Moscow in a luxury suite at the Metropol hotel with quite a few of his family's possessions. On June 22, 1922, the Count is declared a Former Person and sentenced to life confined within the walls of the hotel. He is spared a death sentence based on a poem he published about a decade before that was more revolutionary than aristocratic.

Pay attention to that poem...

Originally sporting some serious mustaches (an early hipster one might say), the Count is forced to have them shaved after an irate customer at the barber cuts one off. This removal sparks a conversation with a young girl named Nina who introduces the Count to what goes on behind the scenes at the hotel as well as many of the Bolshevik assemblies that take place in it's ballrooms.

Nina eventually grows up, marries, and has a child, Sofia. Sofia's father is arrested and banished to Siberia. Nina wants to follow him but cannot take a 5 year old child, so she leaves Sofia with the Count as what everyone believes is a temporary measure.

It is not.

Sofia grows up as a Russian Eloise while the Count becomes head waiter at the illustrious restaurant within the Metropol. Characters come and go, plans are made... and the end falls together perfectly. I enjoyed this book with its unusual premise and quiet yet moving story. Events happen outside the Metropol hotel but the hotel and its inhabitants power on. The movie Casablanca plays a part in the later pages and if you liked that movie, I'm certain you will enjoy A Gentleman in Moscow!

Most Tuesdays I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

May 15, 2017

Yarn Dyeing with Indigo

I don't know why, but when the weather gets really bad on a Saturday, I immediately think about dyeing yarn. Maybe because I know I'll have the entire afternoon to play with color or maybe because I like to dye bright colors which cheer me up in dreary weather. Whatever the reason, this past Saturday when it was cold and rainy and very uninviting outside, I decided to try the Indigo Dye Kit kindly gifted to me by The Wooliers after I interviewed them on the podcast.

Such a fun way to dye yarn!


My go to way to dye is with a crockpot and either food coloring or Kool-aid, and if you've dyed yarn with either, you know you've questioned how those items are considered edible. This kit gave me a chance to try a natural dye in an almost fool proof way (if you read the directions before you start, definitely fool proof).


The kit comes with detailed instructions, 3 packets of pre-measured dye ingredients, a wooden stick to stir the yarn and dye, and 120 yards of wool (25% baby doll, 25% merino, 50% alpaca). Earlier experiences with alpaca had me wondering how bright this dye would be; alpaca tends to mute even the brightest of Kool-aid colors, but turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

After mixing the hot water and the ingredients, I left my jar to sit for an hour. Then I let it sit for another hour. My jar never got to the "translucent yellow/green" described in the directions, but I've created some mighty fine colors in the past by winging it, so I pushed that hank of yarn into the dye mix anyway.


The directions said let it sit for 5 minutes. I of course got involved with the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix so didn't come back to it for about 30 minutes. Super dark blue!


After letting the yarn sit for awhile (ok more of Anne), I rinsed out the indigo. That took quite a bit of soaking which may be due to my water never turning that yellow/green, but once it was rinsed, I gave it a soak in, what else, Soak, and then wrung it out to dry.


The yarn dried overnight (and was of great interest to my new dog, Kimmy - I think the smell intrigued her), and I am IN LOVE with this yarn!!


I see this in a hat very soon... now to get some of The Wooliers natural yarn to go with it!

If you've never tried your hand a dyeing yarn, I highly recommend this as a first time experience. Very self contained in the jar, the directions are very detailed, and the result nothing more than spectacular! If you decide to give this kit a try, let me know!

May 8, 2017

Paddy 2002 - 2017

It is with a sad heart that I write this blog post about Paddy, my dog of 15 years. He passed away on April 27, 2017 and his loss hit our family hard. While I still knit and read while I grieved, I didn't have a blog post in me last week. I'm sure I will feel his loss for the rest of my life; he grew up with my children and was indeed my third child.

He was a big fan of a good chew bone:

He was also a good sport when his human siblings forced him to do things like listen to Fallout Boy:
His favorite spot to hang was the futon in the playroom even when the kids outgrew the playroom:
He also loved snow even though his Mom does not:
He was often at my feet when I knit or read (or stealing my chair when I was elsewhere). Paddy, you will be missed.


April 21, 2017

Season 2, Episode 4: Interview with Kate Frank



Knitting

In this episode, I chat with Kate Frank of Kathryn Frank Fiber Arts on etsy and the Kitchen Stitching podcast. I mentioned that she's offering a coupon code for any purchase in her shop. That code is knitreadpray for 20% off anything in the shop. If you do buy her yarn, please let me know and I'll provide a copy of my newest pattern, Lingering over Tea,  made with the yarn pictured above!

Speaking of that pattern, if you'd like to receive a coupon code from me for a free copy on Mother's Day, please sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar on the right.

Reading


I review The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson and Isabella of Castile by Giles Tremlett in this episode. Very different books - I loved them both!

Bible Study


I mention the E100 Bible Reading Challenge which I've started as well as the Facebook group for the podcast. As I mentioned, I'd like to get the group going again as a place for Bible and Scripture discussion.

Sentient Moss


The song at the end is Unit Zero, written by my son, Joe Fadem, and performed by his band Sentient Moss. You can find their entire CD on Soundcloud, bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes.


April 17, 2017

Spring Break Reading & Crafting

Spring break came very late this year, and I think students, teachers, and parents all felt the effects of the long stretch of school days since the beginning of January. While my to do list was filled with both life and school tasks to catch up on, I put aside time each day to read and craft.

I am the much better for that!


Knitting

I cast on some Tahki Cora Hand Paint yarn I have had in my stash for ages (and by ages, I mean 5+ years). The colors are very spring even though it was 80 degrees the day I started knitting with this wool and alpaca blend. I stumbled upon this simple Lace Prayer Shawl pattern by Renee Rico while searching for a lace pattern for some fingering weight yarn I wanted to knit up.

Obviously, I'm easily distracted while on spring break!

This pattern fit my needs perfectly: knit a lace pattern that's not too challenging (break after all) with yarn I have in stash in spring colors. I admit, I've had to rip back a few times when I've paid more attention to what's going on around me than the pattern, but it's easy to memorize and quick to correct. It's also rectangular rather than triangular so no pesky increases!

The yarn is from two dye lots which is noticeable if you look for it, but I think I'll keep this one for me. No regrets!

Cross-Stitch

I don't cross-stitch every day, but when I do, I cover a lot of ground! This pattern is called Spring Sheepies from the Spring 2016 issue of Cross-Stitch & Needlework magazine. I stitched those cute sheep this week!


Reading

I requested Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Bachman after I read a number of good reviews on Yarn Along posts. After finishing a long (and I do mean long) biography of Isabella of Castile, I started this book having no idea what to expect.

I love it!

This has to be a movie, and Francis McDormand must be Britt-Marie. I admit, she reminds me of my mother in many ways (although her cheating husband is nothing like my father). Britt-Marie likes things clean and orderly. Britt-Marie loves a good list. Britt-Marie needs a job and finds one in a dying town called Borg caring for a soon to close recreation center. (As a Star Trek fan, this name was ominous, but the author is Swedish and one assumes Borg is in Sweden.)

With the recreation center comes a tribe of misfit children, some young gansters, a shop owner called Somebody, and a kind and slightly awkward policeman named Sven who tries very hard to take Britt-Marie out on a date.  On top of all that, Britt-Marie becomes the coach of the children's soccer team knowing nothing about soccer or, really, children.

She is, after all, as her husband says, "socially incompetent".

I'm reminded of Olive Kitteridge when reading about Britt-Marie so perhaps that's where my casting comes from. If you like a book with unusual characters, subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) comedy, a heroine who has more depth than most, and the best ending I've read in a long time, check out Britt-Marie Was Here.

Every Tuesday, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!