Happy Wednesday to you all! Here we are moving quickly through August…how on earth is the the 10th already?
Anyway, I have some knitting to share with you this week. I managed to get the back of my sweater completed and I am working on the front now. The rows go quickly when you are doing short rows, don’t they? I will be well on Sleeve Island next week! Woot!
Marly with his Fiddlehead Fern hat and stand out beard!
Marl Meets Gnome FTW! If you are looking for a quick project that is not super fiddly, this is the gnome for you! I am calling him Marly… because he absolutely is that! Eventually, he will sit in my office where I paint and I am hoping that his whimsy inspires me to not take myself too seriously, to lighten up, and remember that painting is fun!
I know that last week was a slim reading week… it happens, right? This week however… I have all the finishes!
I don’t know how this book crossed my radar, but I am so glad it did! I quickly fell in love with Sven. I so enjoyed how this story moves from 1916 through the late 40’s and all of Sven’s adventures!
**Spoiler Alert** Eberhard, the dog, dies and it is heartbreaking.
Yet through all the hard times, Sven’s friends and family remain a constant for him. I love the letters to his sister, Olga. I love that his niece, Helga comes to stay with him with her daughter. But most of all I love the relationship he forges with his great-niece, Skuld. Sven, “Uncle” Tapio, and Skuld become the most lovely little family. And as Sven shares his memories, I could not help but be drawn in to their rich, warm world.
I have not stopped thinking about this story since I finished it…. for me, the sign of a very good book!
This book appeared on my radar when I saw that a friend (Margene) had read it… and my library had an audio copy!
It is a mystery. It is a ghost story. It is a revenge story. There is time travel. There is so much folk lore. And so many layers… and Kupersmith unwraps them masterfully! I did not want to stop listening!
I originally gave this book 4-stars, but because I cannot stop thinking about it, I have amended my rating to 5-stars. And really… read this book!
Originally, I struggled to get into this story… I was listening to it and that format just did not work for me. So I got on the list for the ebook and waited.
In between I read The Love Songs of WEB Dubois and I think that was the perfect book to prepare me to settle in to read All That She Carried. They fit well together and the change in format to reading with my eyes worked much better with this book. There are images to see that make the reading more powerful.
Is for catching up and contemplation… and I am hoping that my catching up will be easy. I need to wash kitchen floors and clean bathrooms and, if the rain holds off, give Sherman a bath. (Hint… wet dog on wet day is not a good combination… ever, lol)
Some of my contemplation surrounds my painting class. I finished my homework on Saturday and shared in the private FB group… again first to post. And finally on Sunday, a few others shared their homework. I really like seeing what others did with the same lesson… so I can learn from how they interpreted the lesson and from the discussions that happen over each others paintings.
Here is my painting. It is the only image I painted and I am wondering what I am missing because one of the people who posted their homework to the FB group shared that the painting was her 8th attempt. I am not looking for ooh’s and aah’s on my painting… I just am wondering what I might have done differently if I tried this same painting 8 times. Perhaps the answer will come to me as I am scrubbing the kitchen floor… lol.
And with that… it is time for me to get those catch up chores out of the way so I can finish my August Gnome… stay tuned, he will be revealed on Wednesday!
Welcome to the first Friday in August! I have had an incredible week. So read on and see what I did this week!
Refocus and Recenter —
I have changed up my morning meditation time a bit. My time now includes reading a couple of Derek Walcott poems, ignoring the darker mornings, and setting my focus on August days. Ignoring the heat is a challenge, but then I look at all the tomatoes turning red and the heat does not seem quite so bad. So rather than wishing away the month… I am going to focus on the good things that August brings.
Likewise, I am going to recenter myself and my word. Last month my word felt very finished to me and I was contemplating five months more of…. coasting? Silly me! Enter the brilliance of Ali Edwards and her OLW Team of Word Super Hero’s! I watched the videos (yes, more than one) and took a page of notes about Beginning Again. August me… not January me… re-centering my word right now. Best phrase of all the videos… Welcome to the deep breath of August. I am taking that as my mantra for this month as I contemplate what beginning again looks like with all the work I have done this year! One week in and I am already seeing new possibilities for full!
Itty-bitty steps —
That would be me…as I paint…or don’t as the case might be. I did watch the second painting lesson but, more importantly, I listened. Surowicz not only shows the how of painting via the videos, he shares the how and the why in his words. This week’s takeaway… plan where you are going to go before you pick up your brush. Wow! Yeah. That struck a huge chord with me… huge! Linking ideas and actions are not things I thought about with painting! Good things to think about especially in light of my homework critique that I watched on Tuesday, it was good but…there was that moment when he talked about the importance of planning which I did not understand until I watched the new lesson. Light bulb moment for me!! I have several things that I wrote down to practice this week but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and budding painters! (Please forgive my twist there, dear Robert Burns) If you guessed that there was no physical painting practice this week, you’d be correct. However, there was lots of thinking about planning and I have made time today to put the practice on paper! I promise to share next week.
Fluff into yarn —
What did entirely occupy my time this week? Plying up the singles I spun! And ply I did! On my new Starling! My goal was to spin thin… consistently… and for the most part, I did! Consistent singles makes plying so much easier. This skein took me roughly 3 hours to finish and it all went on ONE bobbin! It is getting a bit of a soak this morning, and I have no idea what the finished yardage will be but it will bloom and shrink a bit in the finishing. I am not sure there will be enough to knit a sweater, but I really love the muted colors of this skein! Stay tuned!
Friday Libation Ideas —
Every so often Happy Hour Libations seem… well… in the all.too.much.the.same. category. So this week I have been contemplating something different…something with Aperol! Last night we sampled my take on a Paper Plane. Oh gosh… so good! Citrus-y. Refreshing. Lightly herbaceous. So perfect for a hot humid August! Tonight though, I have another cocktail on the horizon inspired because I have a basil plant that is overly abundant right now, so for tonight’s sipper, I am thinking about trying a Basil Daisy. I will share how it turned out on IG later today!
And that is all I have for this week, I will see you all back here on Monday. Have a fantastic weekend everyone!
Happy Wednesday! I have a very brief update today, but one full of good things!
One sock is *almost* done! I have two “stripes” to go and then I just need to work out the heel depth, which should be easier than it was on Sam’s sock… since the recipient is conveniently located! Ha!
But what I have been spending my time doing is some spinning and I have three full bobbins to show for it! Two are ready for plying, which will happen later today! And then I will get back to working on my sweater spin… I have a good plan and hopefully will have the spinning done this month. My sweater spin… the fiber is from Hipstrings. It is their Buoy Signature blend – BFL/Shetland/Manx Loagtan and it is a joy to spin! Katie gave me some incredible inspiration on what to knit… DRK Everyday Sweater!
Spinning inspiration… a project and a new toy… exactly what I need to stay motivated on this project!
That’s right, this week I have a new addition to tell you all about. Several months ago I put my name on the list for a Starling… and last month, my name was called! Woot! I absolutely love my Sparrow but the bigger capacity of the Starling is much desired. Can you say ply all the singles? Wooo! The biggest bonus of these two e-spinners… they *both* fit in my Räskog cart! Seriously. That is the smallest footprint ever for two wheels and all their accessories!
No finished reads this week… but I am immersed in two fantastic books. first Ann Cleeves latest Vera mystery… which I got from Netgalley. It is classic Vera and so very very good. I am almost done and still have not figured out who did it!
And I am just over halfway through a most curious book… Build Your House Around My Body. It is not at all what I expected… a mystery, a ghost story, and so much more! I am on a very twisty and winding path… and I am loving it!
What about you all? What are you loving this week?
As always, if you wrote a post to share please live your link below and thank you!
Of course, painting. I am just having so much fun. I have no expectation for the results… outside of learning new things! This is delightfully freeing! My inner perfection demon has been curiously silent!
Some sewing… not just talking about it. I have almost finished the cutting… so let the sewing begin!
And this weekend I re-organized my spinning and I even did some spinning this weekend! I am looking forward to more spinning this month. I have a SQ of fiber that I really want to make into yarn so I can knit a sweater with it! So I have a a good bit of spinning to do this month! Stay tuned for a little surprise update later this week on the spinning front!
As you can see, I have many ideas of what I’d like August to hold… but then I saw this on IG from Emily P. Freeman and I stopped dead in my tracks when I got to this bit:
I love this so much, I wrote this in my journal this morning. And so my list and… change?
While I wait for what August will bring… poetry. Because, of course, always poetry! I have been working through two poetry books this summer but this poem by Derek Walcott has spurred an urge to fill my August days with him. I leave you with some beautiful Walcott imagery to fill your Monday. See you all back here on Wednesday!
by Derek Walcott
Broad sun-stoned beaches.
A green river.
scorched yellow palms
from the summer-sleeping house
drowsing through August.
Days I have held,
days I have lost,
days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.
from “Sea Grapes,” 1976, published by Jonathan Cape.
The start of July came and went… and despite me placing a notification in my electronic calendar, I entirely missed the notification reminding me that July brings another “Currently” post. Thankfully, Carole gently reminded me this week with her timely post on her current world!
So while this post is a bit late… July is practically over… how about a peek into what my world looks like! So get something to drink and let me tell you what has been going on around here!
Contemplating: Change… in so many things. One thing that has a big change happening wis the On Being podcast, which I was a faithful listener! It is changing… no longer a weekly venture for Ms. Tippet, but when it returns in the fall it will be different… but still centered around mind-opening conversation. But for the summer… Krista is bring us The Summer of Pause. And I must tell you… it is the perfect pairing for my word this month. I have been focused on filling my days with the simple, and what is simpler than to take a pause. This quote struck a deep cord and I have written it in several places as a reminder to myself…
When we pause, allow a gap and breathe deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly, we slow down, look out, and there’s the world. — Pema Chödrön
Allowing a gap is a beautiful thing… and I am really loving it! So while change can be a struggle… I am such a creature of habit… there is something good about change as well. This focus on simplicity has allowed me to spend some time in the gap… pausing… relishing the simple… and in the process appreciated what all this has done for my mental health! Less reactions to stress. Better sleep… such better sleep. Feeling better about myself. Small wins with an immense impact!
Learning: I have completed my first watercolor lesson. And I have learned so much. I watched the video and took many notes. I then got my paper ready and started the video again… and started trying the new techniques I was learning. I can be very self-critical… and I see many mistakes. Too wet…. too much paint… not enough paint…. too dry. But I am counting a win that I can identify my challenges and will submit my homework for welcome critique. And I will keep practicing… I can tell you all this… time just flies when I am painting. It is a welcome pause in my day!
Starting at the very beginning…
Listening: Some weeks ago, I read that Heather McGhee was going to do a podcast and the first episodes dropped this week. It is called The Sum of Us and is available on Spotify. I have listened to the first two episodes and have enjoyed them tremendously. If you liked her book by the same name, you will love the podcast. Heather is traveling across the country and talking to people… something I think she does incredibly well. It is very different from the normal listening I do… it is not like listening to an audiobook and it is very different from a poetry podcast. A welcome change in my listening rotation!
In My Backyard: Recently I shared that “our” regular bunny pair had made a nest near our patio. In fact, she made her nest in a “Tomato Bag” that I had recently pulled out the tomato plant that was not doing well, but I neglected to empty the bag of the dirt and put it away… because lazy – or perhaps lucky?? Serendipitous most certainly because it was just so much fun watching them care for the wee little bunnies. Anyways, last Sunday was Baby Bunny Move Out Day, and we watched the littles (there were 4 of them) trying to figure out how they were going to get out of the bag! We watched them all day as they hopped around… peering over the edge and wondering which might be the first out. The daddy bunny was in the yard, watching them closely… patiently waiting. Sadly, we did not see The Great Escape and by morning the nest was empty. Sigh. We have gotten glimpses of them around the yard several times though! Sometimes it is the simplest little things that bring the greatest joy… and those little bunnies certainly brought so much joy!
Joni Jamming: On my bucket list is to someday be in person at the Newport Folk Festival… someday. However, the surprise visit of Joni Mitchell to this year’s fest has had me wishing I had been there and I have been Joni Jamming ever since. The only word that comes to my mind is miraculous… and tonights happy hour is gonna be all Joni!
Some of my all time favorites: Both Sides Now, Just Like This Train, and Big Yellow Taxi…
Over-done: As in the never ending heat. I try so hard not to waste the season I am in wishing for the next season to get here.. but gosh! This heat has done me in… I am really ready for it to be over. There is little joy in sitting outside in 90+ degree temps trying to be comfortable… so we have spent far too many days indoors with the AC blasting. I am ready for a break… although, all this heat (with very little rain) means that Steve has not had to mow the yard in weeks… so there’s that. But still… I am longing for 70-ish degree days that I can have the AC off and the windows all open!
And there you have it, gentle readers… a slice of my current life! Have a great weekend and I will see you all back here on Monday!
I have much been thinking about all of you this week and how, for me, these posts… your posts… really feel like a weekly knitting group. We share what we are making and what we are reading and more… and I love that feeling!
This week my making was sort of all over the place. I dug out an appropriate handbag to bring to Jury Duty and found tucked away inside an old project… you know from the days when I actually went places during the week and would have the occasion to sit and knit? Yeah, well I found a half completed Rikke hat inspired by Bonny… long forgotten in a bag that had been put away. Thankfully I had someplace to go recently (despite having to give up my needles) once I saw the hat, I could not leave it uncompleted. Once I returned the needle, it was quickly finished! It just needs a bit of a spa treatment and will be ready for cooler weather!
I have 3-ish inches to go on my sweater back… and then I do some shaping of shoulders and binding off the neckline. So I am making some headway! However, there is still a long way to go to completion!
I also knit two more pop squares for the blanket. It is my new thing to do when I am really wanting to cast on something new. It is working well on keeping that urge corralled! LOL
This might have been the finest reading week of the entire summer! Three incredible books… and all so very different.
Once again, I am drawn into a story simply by the characters in this sort of Stockholm Syndrome tale.
It is loosely based on the Japanese Embassy crisis in Peru that happened in 1996-ish.
Stepping outside of all that reality, Patchett reimagines what might happen within the walls of the lavish home. The lines blur between hostage and hostage taker in a fascinating story that profoundly beautiful. The characters are so very believable. I could not put it down!
An incredibly beautiful memoir to Zauner’s mother… it is tender, profound, and yes, painful at times. The writing is really wonderful… intimate. Perhaps more so since I listened to the author read it to me.
The story is delightful… and so very real. I cried frequently. But can we talk about all the food for a moment? I have this burning desire to spend several weeks eating Korean food… breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It struck me that this story could not. be told without the food… and that simple fact is what makes it so very relatable. Food is the thing that binds us all together… sharing a meal, sharing conversation, sharing the joy of life… and sometimes death.
The struggle was real to get settled into this book. I tried multiple times to find the rhythm and almost gave up. But then a bit of “forced reading”… aka Jury Duty … and I eased past those first 100 pages and then the story carried me along.
The writing style is really so beautiful… different, challenging, perfect. The story of two orphaned sisters, Caro and Grace, and how their lives are inter-twined with those around them… for good and for less than good. There is enduring love, loss, good choices, bad choices, heartache, and more in this really epic story.
The last 75 pages… oh my.
If you are looking for a book that will make you think… read this book. This book is so full of so many tidbits that if you are not reading carefully, you will just gloss over and miss out on the brilliance that Hazard brings to this story!
And there you have my Knit Group update! What about you all… what do you all have to share this week?
As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!
Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. ― Steve Jobs
This month was spent on the Great Simple Challenge … something that takes a lot of work to be successful at. It was my daily focus in my meditation time… simplify… and simplify more. And I discovered that simplifying is much easier said than done.
We (Steve and I) don’t live very simple lives. Work for him is stressful and that stress spills over… because of course it does. Family miles away (mine) and family next door (his) are not simple. Trying to drop that COVID 20… absolutely not simple. Learning something new (hello, painting!) so not simple!
So this month I worked hard to “get my thinking clean” to focus on simple.
No checking what “news” I might be missing.
No checking what Tweets I might be missing.
Not caring what, if anything, was posted on Instagram.
Half listened to the stress spillovers… realizing I don’t have to have a solution, just “listen” helped with that.
Self-affirming that I did my work on raising my children… they are not perfect, they will all make decisions I would not… and being okay with that. (In case you think this is easy… oh boy, think again… hardest thing ever!)
Instead this month when I felt the complicated creeping in, I stopped and did a bit of breathing (thank you, Nadia for sharing this focus that has been incredibly helpful!) until calm returned. Sometimes just a few breaths, other times… well, the breaths eventually work just keep breathing!
In my ongoing quest to simplify and my successes:
I found knitting to be my very best companion. Slow, meditative… one stitch after another. I can feel the complicated vanish just picking up my needles.
I have created a space where I can paint and not feel guilty about the “clutter” that painting brings. It was my huge success over the weekend…I moved all the painting bits and bobs and set everything up. I am very, very ready for my first class this morning! (And so eager to begin!!)
I stopped myself from “thinking about that next project” and stayed focused on the current projects. When I am itching for “something new” I knit another “pop” square for the blanket. It gets the urge for something new out of my system!
And I plotted out some sewing time as well!
I am still washing dishes by hand… and am not at all upset by this. We will eventually get a new dishwasher. I think, lol!
There is one thing on my list that I have not gotten to yet and likely won’t before August arrives. I need to finish the reorganization of the living room and find a better spot for my little e-Spinner. It is in the “out of sight, out of mind” space right now. I want to spin a bit more each week… or perhaps it is better said to do some spinning each week!
Being simply full will be a work in progress… and perhaps one I won’t ever be finished with! But getting a taste of being simply full has been wonderful. I am not sure I have a need to move mountains, but a simple life is so, so, so appealing!
A huge thanks to Carolyn for providing the landing space for us all to share our journeys with our word.
I will be back on Wednesday with some making and reading!
Hello from an extremely muggy, warm Pittsburgh. I confess that I am really just sooo over all this heat and humidity! Steve has not mowed in a month… yes, you read that right. We did get some rain which curiously made the weeds grow, but the grass is still… dead. Lush and green are not terms to describe summer in my backyard right now! (Although I think nothing can kill those damned thistles…they are green – always!!)
I checked the court website after 5PM on Wednesday, and sure has heck… I was called up! So I scurried and finished getting my “court bag” ready for my service to the courts. Water – check. Book – check. Knitting – check. Masks – check. ID – check. Jury Summons – check. Traffic from the South Hills into Pittsburgh Proper can be a gamble. It can go from 20 minutes to an hour in the blink of an eye. Actually, a mere 5 minutes can make or break your commute… and the 8:30AM starting time put me right in the cusp of that travel dilemma. I erred on the side of caution and left at 7AM and got to court at the screaming early time of 7:30AM. Good thing I was early, I had no clue that knitting needles were considered weapons. (However, the much pointier ink pen… fine, just fine!) Purposely pulling the needles out of ones knitting is painful no matter what time it is, but 7:30AM… the swear words were echoing in my head! I briefly considered telling the gentleman that me without knitting was not a good thing, but I bit my tongue. I have never “checked my needles” before but there is a first for everything! I was masked, and I counted 104 potential jurors, including myself. Yep 104 souls in a small room, with no ventilation, and a noisy-ass, but barely working AC unit… and just 9 of us were masked. However, each and every one of us were released from our service because all *three* criminal trials decided to proceed without a jury… thank you very much, citizens of Allegheny County for sitting around for HOURS on end. I was fortunate (??) to sit next to a masked physician who shared that COVID is “so bad” in Allegheny county right now… his office is packed full of sick people. Yay. But, I don’t need to return… so there is that!
New watercolor paints (Daniel Smith Watercolor tubes). A new ceramic palette. New paper (Arches on a recommendation by Kym). New brushes. My first watercolor class drops Monday and so I am going to spend some time this weekend getting acquainted with my new tools! I also have been thinking lots about a permanent watercolor work space… 90°+ is not comfortable for my outside spot and right now my “dumping ground” is a table in the living room… which needs to stop! So my goal today is to figure out a permanent inside home for my paints and get it set up and ready for Monday’s class!
Forced (reading) FTW —
One very good thing that was the result of yesterday’s attempt at Jury Duty was the removal of those knitting needles because it forced me to pick up the book I brought along… The Transit of Venus. I had started this book at home where the distractions are many… and the start of this book is a bit tricky. There is a writing style to get comfortable with, there are characters that sort of just drop in on the page to get to know… and there is a time line to figure out. I pulled out the book mark and restarted (sitting next to that physician who was reading The People in Trees.) Sometimes, all a book needs is a bit of time… (in a space where you’d really like everyone… okay, I’d settle for most… masked!) I ignored everyone and got lost in The Transit of Venus… and you know what, that was all it took! I am now counting the minutes until I can pick it back up today!
I did not forget the simple things this week. I embraced the simple. Pulling a few weeds each morning. Dishes as meditation. The simply joy of stockinette knitting. And yes, pinning out some patterns so I can begin sewing next week.
That is all I have for this week! I will see you all back here on Monday (with a word update! Gah!!)
Greetings, Gentle Unravelers! And a happy Wednesday to you all!
Apparently hot hot weather means lots and lots of knitting time! (Truth, I spent little time outside after 9am each day… early morning weeding only!)
I have some momentous knitting achievements this week. I have divided for the sweater sleeves! This is good and bad… good in that I am only working with half the stitches, the bad thing is that I can no longer avoid those purl rows! Ha! I have an inch or so done with roughly 10 inches or so more to go.
I also finished the BIG FOOT FOOT! Yep, heel placement is in and I am now cruising on the cuff of the sock.
Meet, Gnigel. He is an avid gardener. His speciality though is carrots! LOL
So first, about dear Gnigel’s shape…. it is curiously similar to Kym’s watering devices and once that was in my head…well, it has stayed there. I have tried to “reshape” Gnigel to no avail. So in order to make him less “Garden Dildo” and more “Garden Gnome” enter the carrots… because of course, right?
Anyways, I free-styled those carrots, gave them some lovely carrots tops, and even managed roots! And that garden basket… even I can knit “Basket Stitch” for a small item! And, now dear Gnigel is on the mantle with the other gnomes! And I am sure that he is sharing all the good gardening stories!
After week with no finishes this week I have three completed books. (And I am well into Bel Canto… my goodness I love Patchett’s characters!) Anyways, these books have some stellar characters as well and I recommend all of them!
This book. Oh my. It is epic. It is heartbreaking. It has believable characters. It has good things and it has some very, very ugly things as well. And I really loved every word. It is a well-told story, along two timelines… woven together so expertly. I felt incredibly privileged that Jeffers invited me in so I could learn.
This book comes with some trigger warnings… There is child sexual abuse by a family member – it is painful but if you are paying attention, Jeffers tells us how to get through those bits. Ailey’s advice from her professor served me well as I worked through all the painful bits. Jeffers puts a face on the people who were enslaved… you cannot read this book and remain unchanged.
“And if anyone asks, you’re Chinese. The boy had nodded. “Chinese,” he whispered. “I’m Chinese.” “And I,” said the girl, “am the Queen of Spain.” “In your dreams,” said the boy. “In my dreams,” said the girl, “I’m the King.”
A precursor… what I know about Japanese internment during WWII would be drops in a thimble. After reading this book, while I might know the tiniest bit more, I still don’t know enough. But Otsuka has spurred me to learn more.
One thing that struck me with this unnamed family – their stoic acceptance of what happened. I fell in love with this little unnamed family… unnamed, I think, because this family is everyone interned and no one in particular. The anonymity of this family made me see the bigger picture.
The timeline felt a bit “choppy” to me, I was wanting to know more about the in-betweens… the before, the during, and the after.
And, despite the timeline issues, I do very much recommend this little book!
Once I started listening to The Swimmers, I could not stop.
It starts with a group of swimmers, all very different, swimming each for their own reasons… they come and go with little interaction with each other outside of their time in the pool. And one day a crack appears… and then the story takes off in the most incredible way. Don’t focus too much on the crack… after all, our lives have cracks that there but are not necessarily visible, don’t we? Rather focus on the people in the story… and one in particular – Alice.
Get LOTS of tissues and buckle in… it is a short ride to the end, but wow is it a powerful one! The writing is incredibly beautiful. I cried, lots. And I have not been able to stop thinking about Alice since I finished the book.
This is a must read book. Really. Go get it now!
What about you? What is helping you combat the heat?
As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!