Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP: Babies and Bears

I haven't been 100% monogamous knitting-wise. I have been occasionally working at my baby sweater:

People have told me that the pattern is very counter-intuitive, but I haven't found that at all. Actually one of the things I like about Babies & Bears is that I understand the construction so I feel like I'm making fewer mistakes than I usually do.

I'm hoping today will be a better day at work than yesterday, when I locked my car keys (along with my lunch and, most importantly, coffee) in my car, and then proceeded to lose track of my classroom key! By the end of the day, everything was back in place, but it made for a stressful day. I felt off-kilter until I had my keys back.

Don't forget to check in with Keep Calm Craft On.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One I Liked; One Not So Much

Just finished this and it was a pleasure to read:

You may recognize Elizabeth Strout as author of the award-winning Olive Kittridge, a novel in connected short stories. She creates characters that you believe exist and does so with graceful language. Although she is best known for Olive Kittridge,  I feel that her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, is even better.

The Burgess Boys is not her best, in my opinion, but it is worth reading. Each night, I looked forward to picking it up and joining the Burgess brothers as they struggled to reconcile the tragedy that marred their childhood with the places they landed as adults. Some of the characters in this book seemed a little far-fetched, but not enough to make me want to put down the book. Overall, it was a good read.

I also read To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by Joshua Ferris. This tale of a dentist who becomes obsessed with an anonymous blogger who takes in the dentist's identity online received great reviews. However, I was disappointed in it. Maybe I'm just not deep enough. The story is almost a parable about religion and about real versus virtual worlds. The story seemed to bow too much to the themes he was pursuing. On the upside, I flossed more regularly once I started this book.

But, I must mention his first novel: And Then We Came to the End. This is the only book told in the first-person plural (we) that I enjoyed. It's a humorous workplace story that unearths some of the truths of the daily grind in the current capitalist market. This is a book to savor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Almost Done

I have been unusually monogamous in my knitting and it's amazing how fast you can get something done that way:

I am still enjoying this mitten. Thumbs are always kind of fiddley, but I've gotten to the point where they are managable!

I'm writing this on Wednesday at lunch -- the week is half over! I was at school from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. yesterday. I know I shouldn't do that. I am so tired the next day! Tonight I'm meeting a friend for dinner so that will get me out of the building in a more timely way.

Don't forget to check in with Ginny at Small Things.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sometimes It Just Works

I am so happy with the way this mitten is turning out:
Self-striping yarn can create amazing and surprising things. These two skeins of Berroco sock yarn look like they would clash, but I am loving the way the colors are working together. I should add that at one point I had to cut one of the strands because they both were the same shade of green, so I would have lost the pattern to an awkward green patch.

The pattern is Meeting St. Mittens from a Berroco booklet titled, "Sock Star." I don't really like any of the other patterns, but it was worth to price for this pattern along. I suspect I'll be making more pairs.

I'm still a bit under the weather, but after missing all the fun last weekend, I'm enjoying this one if it kills me! Went to a party at a friend's house last night, and tonight I'll be eating dinner in another friend's Sukkah. My friend Lisa has some photos in a show, and I'm going to the opening reception on Sunday.

I hope you are having some fun this weekend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIP: Any Minute Now

This is what I'm doing tonight:

I've eyed this pattern booklet for months, and it went on sale the other day. I figure that was fate talking to me.  I love patterns that combine random-seeming yarns. And I love mittens.

I am hoping to improve my fair-isle knitting skills. Even though I have done a pair of salt-n-pepper mittens, I'm still very slow and awkward.

We'll have to see how that goes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Back With Knitting

I've been AWL again. This past week, I thought work was going to kill me! I came home every night and was asleep by 6 p.m.! Ridiculous. When I woke up Saturday morning, I realized that the dry throat that had been bothering me was really a sore throat. Yes, I'm a little slow. I was sick all week!

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Repentance. Sadly, I had to cancel my dinner for that evening; I've been putting a Break Fast for those who actually fast, for more than a decade now. I hated to cancel, but a) it was clear that I didn't have the energy to put on any sort of event; and b) it wouldn't be very nice to spread the germs.

Instead, I spent the day napping and knitting -- not so bad as a consolation prize.

The first piece of the Babies and Bears Sweater is coming along nicely. The yarn is Encore Colorspun worsted, color 7749. My friend Marsha, who has knit countless sweaters, recommends Encore for babies and kids because, she says, it is soft, durable, and washable!

 I'm not knitting for any baby in particular, so I chose the most unisex color I could. I think this white with bluish/green streaks would be OK for a boy or a girl. I do have two pregnant people in my world, so it will definitely have a home when I finish it!

I think I'll make a cup of decaf and catch up with all of you. That's something I can do in bed!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Knitting and Reading

Boy, does it feel good to be home this evening. Even after a restful Rosh HaShannah yesterday, it was still a jam-packed week. So, I'm focusing on both a book and knitting project that are relaxing. Tomorrow is my birthday so I feel I deserve some R&R.

The sock is the second of a pair, a Hermoine's Everyday Sock. Even though we are having warm weather now, winter is just around the corner in Wisconsin. (Though, according to the New York Times, the Midwest will be much warmer in another 40 years.) This will be a fun pair to wear with Birkies.

I've been meaning to read Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn for years. Maybe even decades. It is one of the classics of American mindfulness. It isn't the type of book that you devour in one or two readings, you need to nibble at it day after day because it gives you so much to think about. That's not to say that it is difficult reading; it's not. Here is a short passage to give you an idea:

"We tend to be particularly unaware that we are thinking virtually all the time. The incessant stream of thoughts flowing through our minds leaves us very little respite for inner quiet." (p. 9) I think that's what is called Monkey Mind, which seems to be my default state.

Earlier this week, I had the honor of meditating with monks and nuns from Plum Village in France. Plum Village is the monastery established in the late 1960s by Thich Naht Hahn, who is second only to the Dalai Lama in the world of mindfulness. It was so thrilling to be in the same room with "sisters and brothers," as they call themselves. It reminded me of how I felt when I saw Bob Dylan in concert in 1978!

If you have ever wondered what this mindfulness stuff is all about, the first book you should look at is Peace is Every Step by Thich Haht Nahn. It is life-changing stuff -- and a smooth, poetic read to boot!