FO Friday: February spinning

Word Lily spinsI started spinning every day in February, and I kept it up until my spinning wheel broke. Wah wah wah.

It’s fixed now, but here’s what I spun in that spurt.

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One ply is Spunky Eclectic‘s Moose Moss on Portuguese Merino. The other is Spunky Eclectic’s Fjord on South African Fine.

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I got 333 yards from this 209 grams (7.3 ounces) (pre-wash), for a bulky yarn.

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This last photo is without flash. The color is more accurate in the ones with flash, but this isn’t really inaccurate, either. Just a different face of the colors. More details on my project page (Rav).


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When I was plying, the Fjord ran out before the Moose Moss, by a significant amount. I took the leftover Moose Moss on Portuguese Merino and plied it with itself.

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This little skein is 80 yards and 43 grams (1.5 ounces), for an aran or bulky yarn. I’m thinking this can be used as trim (Or a stripe?) in the project I use the combo yarn for, whatever that ends up being. I’m not even sure the difference would be immediately noticeable. This skein lacks the bits of blue, but there isn’t enough blue in the bigger skein that there’s blue in every yard of the yarn, so we’ll see.

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Again without the flash, above. More details on my project page.


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This little skein consists of mill ends (wool and mohair) that I spindle spun over the course of several years. I clearly don’t use my spindle much, eh? I wound it off the spindle, into a plying ball, last year — so I could use the spindle for something else — and I finally actually plied this yarn on my wheel in February 2014.

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It’s a bit overspun (or overplied, or both), but not too badly. It’s sport weight, 58 yards and 22 grams (three-quarters of an ounce).

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My project page.


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This skein I spun from a batt I carded from commercial mill ends. I started with dark green mill ends, a few undyed mill ends, and some other mill ends that I’d dyed (yellow and purple). I spun the yarn and then plied the two ends of the single together.

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This skein has 112 yards and weighs 56 grams (nearly 2 ounces), making this skein worsted weight.

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Again without flash, above. The colors still feel accurately depicted, just maybe a less … revealing? … portrayal. The project page.


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This is the last one. Also spun from a batt I carded, from mill ends I dyed. I believe I was spinning for speed on this one. I opened up the batt (I had so much fun playing with color on the carder here!), split it across in sections, and then broke those cross-sections into chunks, so the yarn has smaller striping sections while the separate colors are still mostly preserved (not blended).

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It’s 136 yards and 43 grams (1.5 ounces). Those are pre-wash measurements, and I fulled it a bit in the finishing, so it probably lost some yardage. It’s roughly sport weight.

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I just love the bright colors of this one, how cheery it is. Here’s the project page.


So, that’s what I spun in February! I haven’t been back to the wheel since it was fixed, which is a travesty that I need to remedy.

What have you been making lately?

Head over to Fiber Arts Fridays to see what other people are up to in the fibery world today!

WIP Wednesday: Random Stripes

Word Lily knitsI mentioned last week that I’m in the middle of another, even bigger, stripey blanket.

As hinted, here it is!

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I’m knitting this in reclaimed cotton yarn, picking the colors as I go. It’s about 90 inches wide and will, when it’s finished, be 100+ inches long. It will work nicely on our queen-size bed. I’m just over 57 inches into it, as of today, one month into the knitting.

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Here’s my Ravelry project page. As you can see below, I worked one garter ridge, just to change things up. The reference to Southwest’s colors there was unintentional.

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No idea when I’ll finish this; it’s quite weather dependent. If it warms up too much to have a large blanket on my lap, I’ll be forced to put it aside until the weather starts cooling off again in the fall. (It’s supposed to be 81° today, but then cool off again for the weekend.)

See what others are working on at Tami’s Amis linkup today.

Friday blankets

Word Lily knitsOne of the first things I cast on for in 2013 was a big striped blanket.

That blanket makes me happy, and it’s seen plenty of use already. So maybe that’s why it’s blankets galore so far in 2014.

The first one [Forgive me as I play catch-up, please!] I technically cast on for on 31 December, but I’m still counting it here.

Undercover blanket

Pattern: Undercover by Beata Jezek
Yarn: I alternated between crazy-old skeins of Brown Sheep Nature Spun (single ply, but without the mohair content, 169 yards per skein) and Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb (seems to be same as the current Lamb’s Pride, 190 yards per skein, except 100 percent wool, without mohair, again). 10 skeins, natural/undyed
Size: Blocked to 65 inches square.
More details on my Ravelry project page.

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This one is a throw for the house. To be available on the couch, like so. I kinda wish it was bigger, but working in the round has a ton of stitches on the needles to reach this size, and I didn’t have any more yarn anyway, so there it is. I’m pretty much a sucker for leaf motifs.

I also knit two baby blankets, as gifts, in January and February.

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Pattern: Groovy Little Baby Blanket by Meera Kothari Cho
Yarn: Cotton yarn of various colors, all reclaimed from old sweaters.
Size(s): The blue one is approximately 36″ by 38″ (although I didn’t exactly remember to measure after washing and before gifting, oops). The pink one ended up 32″ wide by 36″ tall.
More details on my project pages.

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This pattern is a riff on a baby sweater pattern, Tulips, by Lindsay Pekny, made famous by the Yarn Harlot.

I played with the size in all of these, but the biggest modification I made was to the baby blankets. No matter how I figured it, I couldn’t make sense of the number of stitches the pattern said to pick up for the edges. It didn’t translate to any standard stitch-picking-up ratios that I’m aware of, and the number was small enough I was pretty sure it would make the blanket cup instead of being able to lie flat. So I picked up a more normal number of stitches, on both of the baby blankets. The distinctive seed stitch color-change row is quite nice.

I’m also in the middle of a gigantic queen-sized stripey blanket, since finishing all of these. It’s taking quite a bit longer, logically. Maybe I’ll show that one to you next week?

Head over to FO Fridays and Fiber Arts Fridays to see what other people are up to in the fibery world today!

Random on a Monday

  1. In the past week, I preordered a book for the first time ever. Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidently Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary I’m looking forward to the e-book she’s giving to those who preorder: The Family-First Creative: 42 Tips for Following Your Dreams While Putting Family First.
  2. I think birthday party planning for the little one is coming together. Yay!
  3. I need a train engineer’s hat for said party, but I’m having trouble finding one that will last beyond the one day. Any ideas?
  4. I’m thinking about trying oil cleansing for my face. Have you tried it? With what results? Here’s a brief intro, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
  5. I’m working on getting our meals all written on little slips of paper for this menu planning system. I think this might finally be the solution for my meal-planning woes. Thanks for sharing, Trish!
  6. How do you do birthdays and holidays in your family? Are they a big deal? I love the idea of really celebrating as a way to show what’s important to us. But I don’t love the stress of over-doing. I don’t think I’m a Pinterest Mom, but I like going big for birthdays and holidays. Where’s that balance for you?
  7. I’m paying attention to what we spend and where we spend it again. What budgeting tools have you found helpful? How do you stay motivated to work toward long-term goals?
  8. How do you keep your mind active in stages of life when it feels like you don’t have the opportunity to exercise this muscle?
  9. Some of these feel like they can or should be posts of their own, expounded upon, but hey, at least I’m posting?
  10. Oh! I got a new reading chair, since my old chair completely broke. I like it — and it’s red — but it’s not as good for sleeping in as the old one was. (I often sleep in the recliner when I’m sick and congestion keeps me from being able to breathe in a prone position (thus also preventing sleep).) The redness of the chair brings to the forefront of the mind the fact that our living room doesn’t have any kind of a plan or design to it. It’s kind of haphazard. So I’m casting about for ideas in my spare thinking time. (Ha!)
  11. While I not blogging, earlier this month, this blog turned 7 years old. Happy blogiversary to me! At least I don’t usually feel guilty for my paucity of posting these days.


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Sunday Salon

I was chatting with my husband about how long it had been since we each had blogged (as one does). I was thinking it had been a month or maybe a month and a half. But come to find out? It’s been longer than two months already. Sigh. I have so many ideas for things I’d like to write about, but as I opened the blog today, to attempt to break the drought, none of them were flowing from the fingers. So we’ll try a more useless kind of unsticking, like so.

I’m reading a book that, I can hardly remember during the day. But once I get back into it each night, I enjoy it (or at least one of the two points of view). I’m about 100 pages in now, but I’m thinking I should maybe abandon it. I know we’ve talked about this before, but what’s your standard for quitting a book? I don’t usually regret the books I don’t finish, but I do sometimes get frustrated that I wasted time on a book I’ve finished. I have a draft about this, untouched for almost a year (honestly).

I want to write about my crafty pursuits (so much you haven’t seen). I want to write about picture books.

In my seemingly never-ending quest for good books for my almost 2-year-old that don’t annoy me, I rediscovered SLJ’s Top 100 Picture Books list, posted it, and started keeping a record of those we’ve read, hoping to make it through all or most of them together. We still have a long ways to go, but that’s OK. How many of them have you read?

Related: Are there any books about Easter (the real thing) that have trains, even in the background? Because the boy is still quite train-obsessed.

I’ve been intending to post a round-up of train books, too. Some are awful, but there are some that are excellent. And some in between, of course.

And then I could share what I’ve been reading. Just because I haven’t blogged doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading. If you’re curious, here’s the list of what I’ve read, to tide you over.

Today, I’m sick. We’ve had so much illness in the past month or so that I’m wondering if we’ll ever be healthy again. (And how are you supposed to get better when you can’t sleep, again? I’ve never figured out how that is supposed to work.)

The weather, however, is supposed to be fantastic today. The sun is out and the high is forecast to be in the 70s. After what feels like an interminable (if lacking in snow) winter, this is most welcome.

What’s going on in your world today? Hope your day is sunny!

Picture Books, round one

Last week I asked for recommendations for picture books with excellent writing (read: non-annoying when read aloud 2,763 times per day, every day). I started by asking about the Caldecott (which is an award for picture books, but actually for illustration of said picture books). And then just for recommendations. And they rolled in.

I had a couple being pulled for me at the library, so I had to go pick them up. While I was there, I browsed, with my head full of titles and authors I’d been hearing about (and looking up) all week. I came home with a big stack, and we’ve been reading them all weekend. Here’s the low down.

Freight Train by Donald Crews (author and illustrator) (Caldecott honor book)
A good transitional book, on the way up from board books. Very few words. Nice graphic illustrations. Bold colors. Although it’s been eclipsed the past two days by the newest train book to enter the house (which I’ll hopefully get around to telling you about reasonably soon).

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (author and illustrator)
I picked this one up because A’s already familiar with this character from a few board books. I think we’ve only read it once so far.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems (author and illustrator) (Caldecott honor book)
I’ve heard so many great things about Willems’s books. This one for sure didn’t disappoint. Again, very few words. Images are black and white photographs overlaid with cartoonish people. My guy laughs at the baby talk [not someone talking to a baby in what is usually called baby talk, but the verbalizations of a pre-talking kiddo].

We Are in a Book!, an Elephant and Piggie book, by Mo Willems (author and illustrator)
I laughed and laughed on the first read-through. A very self-aware book. The illustrations are straightforward and clear. I think it might (the humor at least) be a bit over my kiddo’s head, though.

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The rhyme and rhythm are fantastic, the story is grand. More words per page than A’s used to, but he’s bringing it to me repeatedly. Really a beautiful book. So much to see on every page, too.

Clifford’s First Snow Day by Norman Bridwell
Not annoying, but not particularly enchanting to this mama or toddler, either. I don’t think, when we’ve read this one, that A has ever asked to read it again right away once yet.

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett (author and illustrator) (This my library had in both board book and picture book format)
Lots of people highly recommended Jan Brett’s books. I’m not sure I understand the fandom, though (at least not yet). This is the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, except Goldilocks is now Aloo-ki, who lives in an igloo, and the bears are now polar bears.

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes (author and illustrator)
Quite simplistic. A likes the squirrel and the dog, though. One of those books that don’t have much of a plot. Very few words per page, and a short page count, too. Not annoying, though.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Caldecott honor book)
Enchanting. The narrative doesn’t have the rhyme and meter some of the others do, but the story is sweet and illustrations are adorable (especially if you’re a yarn lover, but even if you’re not).

So, the winners this round are:

  • Freight Train (although it’s a bit dull and repetitive for me)
  • Knuffle Bunny
  • The Snail and the Whale (a bit longer, though)
  • Extra Yarn

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you have any (more) recommendations for us?

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Best of Reading for 2013

I’m borrowing shamelessly from Trish at Love, Laughter & Insanity (who got it from Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner) so I didn’t have to come up with the questions, too. Just the answers will be enough blogging work for me these days, thank you very much.

2013 EOY book survey

1. Best Book You Read In 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Lots of other great ones, but they pale in comparison to this one.

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I wasn’t really all that underwhelmed by any books that I finished. Although Theodosia and the Serpent of Chaos was kind of annoying. And The Explanation of Everything was pretty disappointing, too, actually.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Maybe Daystar by Kathy Tyers?

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2013?
Daystar, The Dragon’s Tooth, The Reluctant Prophet (not a 2013 read for me, though; does that count?), With a Name Like Love … And then there are the book club books; since I picked them, does that count?
:: How to Save a Life, Small Damages, Maisie Dobbs

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
• the ND Wilson one
• Robert Liparulo’s series that started with The 13th Tribe
• Also, started (but not really discovered this year): Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles books.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013?
Harper Lee? Except my standard for declaring someone a favorite author generally includes having read more than one of their books. So. ND Wilson?

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Looks like I stayed mostly within my comfort zone for reading this year.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
The Doll / Dragon’s Tooth / Eleanor & Park

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Um, maybe Eleanor & Park, if I pick it for book club. I only very rarely reread, but I did more in 2013 than normal, by a lot. And that’s mostly because I picked them for book club and then needed to refresh my memory before the actual discussion.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
Small Damages / How to Save a Life

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Well, it’s hard to say it’s not Maisie Dobbs, since I’ve read like 10 books starring her, but Sherlock Holmes might be a strong contender … Oh. Also Scout Finch, and Eleanor and Park.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Small Damages. How to Save a Life.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
TKAM? Me: Broken Record.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
I don’t really keep track of quotes.

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest: Man of Action is a standalone short story (87 pages); The Sign of the Four clocks in at 136 pages, according to what I can find.
Longest: Daystar (652 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Eleanor and Park
Maisie Dobbs and James Compton

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You Read Previously
The Doll. Small Damages. Eleanor & Park.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
With a Name Like Love, I think.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
mystery/thriller

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Atticus Finch?

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
I’m not even sure I read any 2013 debuts.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Small Damages.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
The Dragon’s Tooth

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird, maybe?

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Into the Free. Daystar. With a Name Like Love.

And then looking forward…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Jane Eyre
Count of Monte Cristo
Cloister Walk

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014?
The new Maisie Dobbs? Really want to get to Matthew Quick’s latest, too.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
Actually blog, maybe? Continue clearing the TBR book case.

So what did I read in 2013? (links lead to posts)

1. The Theory of Everything by J.J. Johnson (2012)
2. The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello (2012)
3. To Far to Say Far Enough by Nancy Rue (2012)
4. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear (2013)
5. Doors Open by Ian Rankin (2010/2008)
6. The Missing File by DA Mishani (2013)
7. The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman (2008)
8. Into the Free by Julie Cantrell (2012)
9. Seeking Unseen by Kat Heckenbach (2012) (ebook)
10. Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore (2012)
11. Dead Man’s Hand by Eddie Jones (2012)
12. A Light in the Darkness by Heather Sutherlin (2012)
13. The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo (2012)
14. Daystar by Kathy Tyers (2012)
15. Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker (2012)
16. Freeheads by Kerry Nietz (2011)
17. Placebo by Steven James (2012)
18. Cake: Love, Chickens, and a Taste of Peculiar by Joyce Magnin (2012)
19. With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo (2011)
20. Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan (2012)
21. Soul’s Gate by James L. Rubart (2012)
22. Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins (2012)
23. The Dragon’s Tooth by ND Wilson (2011)
24. Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2012) (ebook)
25. So Cold the River by Michael Koryta (2010)
26. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (2012) (ebook)
27. The Judgment Stone by Robert Liparulo (2013)
28. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by RL LaFevers (2007)
29. Still Midnight by Denise Mina (2009)
30. A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley (2011)
31. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1887) (ebook)
32. The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina (2011)
33. Goodness and Mercy by Patti Hill (2013) (ebook)
34. A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell (2013)
35. The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) (ebook)
36. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892) (ebook)
37. Sidekicked by John David Anderson (2013)
38. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
39. The Explanation of Everything by Lauren Grodstein (2013)
40. The Doll by Taylor Stevens (2013)
41. Small Damages by Beth Kephart (2012)
42. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
43. Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book by Nancy Rue (2010)
44. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (2011) (reread)
45. The Drowned Vault by ND Wilson (2012)
46. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1894) (ebook)
47. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (2003) (reread)
48. The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen (2001)
49. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (2002)
50. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1902) (ebook)
51. Man of Action by Matt Bronleewe (2013) (ebook)

Quick Stats

Book Posts: 18 (44%) [not counting this post, oops]
E-books: 10 (20%)
Library Books: 4 (8%)
From the Shelf: 11 (21.5%)
Male/Female Ratio: 21:30 (41% : 59%)
Book Club: 3+
Fiction/Non-Fiction Ratio: 50:1 (98% : 2%)
Books Abandoned: 20

How was YOUR 2013 reading year? I’d love to hear what your favorite book of the year was.

Catching up on Sherlock reading

Long time no posts here, eh? I know, I know.

I’ve been reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books this year, spurred on by Mari. I posted about the first two books I read for the challenge way back in August. Since then I’ve read the next three, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and The Hound of the Baskervilles.

After the longer-form stories of the first two books (one story per short book), The Adventures was a bit disappointing in that the cases were all so brief, so quickly dispatched.

And then when I read Memoirs, I was convinced that I’d picked it up out of order (even though I’d attempted to check). But nope. It was in order of publication date. It had already been clear that the stories weren’t conveyed in chronological order, but this one was a bit jarring.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Hound of the Baskervilles; it really is the most masterful of the stories, at least so far as I’ve read, so far.

Thanks for the nudge, Mari! I’ve been thoroughly enjoying these books, I plan to continue with them into the new year. Next up: The Return of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1905!

(I got these ebooks from Project Gutenberg.)

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