Unraveled Wednesday | 12.29.21

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.29.21

First… my final finish for 2021… Leave Gnome Stone Unturned… aka Gnombleberry and baby Gnewt!

Baby Gnewt is to die for!

That pocket tho’ and even though my duplicate stitched tree does not look like a tree far away… it sorta does close up!

Now onto my Year in Review Post! Ha!

It has been a much calmer year for making. I did not feel any compelling urge to knit.all.the.things. And although I do still have some UFO’s that I had hoped to complete… I didn’t. More on those UFO’s shortly but what I did finish does make quite a nice list:

  • I knit 3 pairs of socks, 2 hats, 2 and a half gnomes (the latest of which are Gnombleberry and baby Gnewt – who counts for the half a gnome), 7 sweaters (of which 2 were test knits), 3 shawls (1 of which was a mystery shawl!), and 1 cowl.
  • I did some sewing in 2021 as well. I sewed 2 pairs of pants, 1 Esme Tunic, 1 set of coasters, and I did some repair work on existing things in my wardrobe. I also made 7 hats for Winston. AND!! There was One Awesome Advent Calendar for Vivi and Winston!
  • 2021 found me to be a sporadic spinner but!! Some of the things I knit this year were made with yarn I spun during the year… which was a first for me. I have quite a stash of handspun but I rarely knit with it. I would like to increase this sort of making in 2022… and I am looking forward to a January Base12 spin (yes it is a month late, but my finger is almost healed and I am planning some spinning time each week in 2022 and that “Advent spin” will be the perfect thing to kickstart a new habit!)

So The Grand Totals: 18 knit items, 13 sewn things, some sewing repairs, and a handful of spinning.

Now for the important bit… what did I learn?

I learned that if I do not have a “need” for an item… it loses its shine. Next year I am committed to not doing any “Ooo, its shiny and everyone is doing it” making. (These account for each and every one of the UFO’s that I have hanging around… I will finish them…hopefully!) The “Ooo, its shiny and everyone is doing making does not fit well with where I want to go next year. I have a closet full of sweaters that I don’t wear. I have more shawls than I can ever wear… even if I wore a different one every day for the remainder of the winter season I don’t think I would exhaust my stash of shawls. I have written a reminder quarterly on my calendar… no new sweaters or shawls…PERIOD!

Socks, though, are a different story… hopefully 2022 is going to find me upping my mending game. I have several pairs that have worn-out heels and I really like the socks so I’d like to find a way to repair them that keeps them wearable (not with a weird looking and highly uncomfortable mended patch.) But if that does not work, then I am not going to feel guilty about tossing them… it will make room for me to make another pair.

The big take away from 2021 is that it is challenging to be a maker with a full closet… so my goal for next year is to expand on my making. Some months ago, I signed up for a series of composition art classes (thanks, Kym!) but to date, I have not done one single thing in any class in the series. However, I have been working on preparing a place to do those classes as well as gathering supplies and I am eager to get started…so you will absolutely see a change in in what is made here at AsKatKnits in 2022.

I hope that whatever you are making in 2022, you will continue to share here with us all… because I think that no matter what you are making sometimes you just need to unravel it a bit… and this is the space for that!

My reading update is a bit more of a challenge, but I think I have figured out the best way to share it all with you.

I set a reading goal at 125 books and I did not make that goal (and I am unlikely to make the goal in the time I have left in 2021) But… I am not upset in the least at only reading 119 books this year because I set the goal to challenge myself… and it was a challenge! However, I think I read better books this year… I gave myself permission to “quit” a book that was just not working for me. This year I added 5 books to the “not for me” category on Goodreads and I experienced not one moment of guilt over any of them.

This year I found 45 books to be worthy of a 5-star rating… so almost 38% of the books I did read this year were very worth reading. And of those 45… here are my favorites:

  • Most Memorable: A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, Braiding Sweetgrass, and Finding the Mother Tree
  • Life Changing/Mind Opening: Wintering, Four Hundred Souls, The Sum of Us, Good Talk, and What Strange Paradise
  • Incredibly Beautiful Writing: Almost anything by Niall Williams, almost anything by Elizabeth Strout, almost anything by Isabel Allende, and everything by Louise Erdrich.
  • A Discovery of Poets: Margaret Noodin, Sharon Olds, Elizabeth Alexander, Pádraig Ó Tuama, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • Calgon Take Me Away Books: The Gabriel Allon Series
  • Read With Us because without them I’d never have read: Shuggie Bain, Unsettled Ground, or Matrix. (and for me, 2021 was the year of discovering how much better a book can be when discussed with friends!)

You can see all my 2021 books here. Aside from the Read With Us category, I limited my highlighting books that got a 5-star rating but as you can see there were a good number (49) of 4-star books as well!

The good thing about so many of these books was that they were suggestions that I got from all of you! And I really hope that we continue to inspire each other with good books to read in 2022.

As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!

I will be back with you all next year! I wish you all a very safe and Happy New Year!

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.22.21

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.22.21

(Sorry this post is so late but I entirely forgot to get a photo yesterday while it was light out!)

I have a finished hat and am working towards a finished second sock!

However, this week I thought I’d answer the question that Jane had about knitting with a strand of mohair… and does the choice of mohair matter! (Hint… the mohair of today is not your grandmother’s mohair!)

I have knit lots with mohair… from an entire shawl with just mohair – which I will never do again – to many things with a strand of yarn held together with a strand of mohair. It is the loveliest addition you can give to your knitting!

But!!! Not all mohair has been created equally. And the choice you make can either make your project sing or not. I hope to share my thoughts on some of the mohairs out there.

I think the first mohair I ever saw (and bought like it was candy!) was Rowan Kidsilk Haze. Yes, the colors are incredible and it feels wonderful when you hold the skein. But… in a knitting application by itself it is scratchy and really not fabulous to knit with (those mohair horror stories you have heard about… I am pretty sure the culprit was Kidsilk Haze.) Add to that… I don’t think it is worth the price for the yardage you don’t get.

I have tried several “indie” dyer’s mohairs and, like Kidsilk Haze, looks and feel can be deceiving. For example, recently, I knit a hat with some mohair (Wobble Gobble Kidmo) that I got from Wool & Honey in Michigan. Yes the color and hand were great but the finished product has almost no halo (which if you are going to strand mohair along with yarn you want the halo to be noticeable!) But the yardage is excellent and I have more than half the skein of the Wobble Gobble left so I am going to try it with some handspun to see if that makes any difference at all (so stay tuned!!)

I have been recently seeing quite a few brushed alpaca yarns and I picked up a skein of Little Fox Nuages and it is a lovely “strand along” yarn. It is a little bit thicker than mohair and has some intense halo! Perfect for the hat I finished this week!

But… my hands down favorite is Floof from Fibernymph Dyeworks. It is excellent yardage and it is silky soft in the skein *and* in the knitted garment. I carried this along in a sweater that I wear all.the.time. Seriously. Most mornings I get up and pull it on over my jammies. It is next to skin soft and so warm and cozy. And the halo. Well… it is just so great! Yes, there has been a minute amount of pilling but I am not sure if this is because of the mohair or the merino lace yarn I carried it along with it. However, Floof is absolutely a yarn I would buy again! Especially if I was going to knit something where I wanted the halo to be noticeable. And yes… I would absolutely use this to knit another sweater!

And there you have my mohair advice FWIW! As always, I welcome your questions and will happily share my very opinionated thoughts!

The reading this week was so so good! (So good it caused a bit of reading induced insomnia!) Just two finishes but they were so good!

The Lincoln HighwayThe Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book about a journey, but not where you think it is going to go. I listened to it and I loved the narration… hearing each character share their thoughts was wonderful.

Towles has crafted some incredibly interesting characters and then weaves them into such an intriguing story. I was drawn along to see if wrongs could be righted and if wounds could be healed. I loved the twists and turns and I was surprised more than once! (But really, I just plain loved Billy!)

The ending though… I am still asking myself what??? Which I think is a good thing for a book to have… an ending that leaves you wondering! If you deeply loved A Gentleman in Moscow, you might not love this book as much… but it is still very good!

I highly recommend!

The Black Widow (Gabriel Allon, #16)The Black Widow by Daniel Silva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Just wow. This book! Yikes!

A new team member? A new chief?

Will these things happen? (especially the new chief part… right?)

Each Allon book shows more character development and in this book it was Gabriel’s turn to shine… and shine he did! I find it so hard to put these books down once I start… and I have many a night that I went to bed way to late because I could not stop reading!

I highly recommend this very smart series. Yes, they are character heavy… but they are such incredible characters! I love this series… so much!

Steve has the remainder of the week off… so I will be back on Monday with some poetry! Tuesday I will have my final word update for 2021 AND next Wednesday I will have a bit of a year end knitting/reading recap. The best of the knits and the reads!

Merry Christmas!

As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below!

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.15.21

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.15.21

I wish I could tell you that my making was on fire… but instead I have to tell you that I have mucked up my making but good. Monday afternoon I had a wee accident (okay, maybe not so tiny) with a bread knife… which meant I spent some time in urgent care. The good news… no stitches… the bad news, my finger is not working at all in the way it should. I, however, am following the doctor’s advice… keep the enormous bandage on (until this morning) and keep it dry! (I will spare you any gory details beyond that…but it was plenty of that!)

So… I am short and sweet on typing today because who knew an index finger could be so integral to that task!

But!! I have managed a couple of rounds on a hat… so there’s that!

But no sock knitting. No spinning. And no Gnome-ing!! Boo hoo!

The reading this week though… I went from The Sentence to my current book… The Lincoln Highway. Can a year of reading end in a better way?

Maybe… I got Amanda Gorman’s new poetry collection in the mail and it is so good!

The SentenceThe Sentence by Louise Erdrich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never imagine that I can possibly love the latest Erdrich book more than the last (or more than the Master Butcher’s Singing Club, which to date has been my favorite) but then I read The Sentence.

Wow. Brilliant writing! Captivating! Relevant. Timely… and so compelling. I struggled to put it down!

I have just one thing to say… read this book, ASAP!

I hope to be back on Friday…

As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.8.21

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.8.21

This week has all been about “bite sized bits of knitting” in my house… you know, the things that are easy to pick up and put down.

I have the attention span of a gnat these days and so I am shuffling between the heel flap of a sock, the ribbing of a hat brim (sorry no picture of that hat), and (thanks to Vicki) a “Gnew Gnome”! (also… sorry about the dog hair on the yarn… that is life with a Pug who thinks that they must be next to you/under you/on top of you… in other words, zero separation… when doing all things!)

I have had a spate of Zoom meetings recently that, while enjoyable, were a very good reminder of how nice it is to have a small project (or three) to work on while Zooming.

And The Christmas Explosion was not such a huge explosion at all this year. Why, even the tree is done! Woo! I debated doing some heavy decorating in the dining room… but after thinking about it over the course of several days, I let that decorating go! (Yes, sometimes release is just what I need to do! Ha!) It is enough to have some candles on the table… more than enough.

So there you have my knitting update… now for the reading!

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and LifeA Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book! Amazing! Brilliant! And perfect for the reader who wants to learn how to read better!

I listened and I confess that once Saunders gave his “class” on the Russian story, I went back and listened to the story again. It was fascinating what I picked up the second time through with Saunders notes in my mind.

Also… who knew I would like Russian literature so much!

This book is absolutely in the top 5 of books read this year and I highly recommend!

Pax (Pax #1)Pax by Sara Pennypacker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am not quite sure how I feel about this book. I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did… The story is somewhat engaging (not quite believable, but engaging) but the ending was such a let down.

Your mileage may vary.

What about you… what’s on your making list this week? I will see you all back here on Friday!

As always, if you wrote a post to share please leave your link below and thank you!

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.1.21

Unraveled Wednesday | 12.1.21

I love palindrome days… and this is one of those days! (See how I find joy in the little things? lol)

Anyways… THE Advent Calendar arrived! And they LOVE it! I am not sure who loves it most though… Heidi or the kids! (And Olivia will have a Nana-made Advent calendar next year, promise!!)

But, holy cow was it a bitch to photograph! I made little button “hooks” on the back and I was worried that if I “hung” it on the shrubs, they would tear… and I really did not want to make any more hooks! lol Anyways, I sent along some 3M hooks for her to affix to the wall to hang it on. (The hooks on my mantle provided the most brilliant trial run but sadly… it is way too dark in my living room for good photos)

I heaved a huge sigh of relief that it arrived and safely! Thank you postal workers!

(One aside… the binding… which is brilliant!! I followed these instructions and my mind is blown! They worked PERFECTLY! I am STILL in awe of how well they worked!)

And now I am back to thinking about knitting more on The 2nd Sock in between doing some holiday decorating… no tree up, yet… but the box moved to the living room yesterday afternoon so the plan is for that to happen sometime today. Thinking about one…hopefully doing something about the other! Ha!

The reading has been a bit stunted because of you know who being home for 5 days for Thanksgiving. But I did find some moments to finish Matrix. Kym might have said it best last week… and I agree… I cannot wait to discuss this very, very curious book!

The English Spy (Gabriel Allon, #15)The English Spy by Daniel Silva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just when you think you have figured out how Silva writes a novel… he throws you a huge curve ball. This book is that… and it is excellently thrown!

One last hurrah before Gabriel takes over The Office? Yes? No? Maybe? This story unfolds with just the “inside characters” Friends on foreign forces… as it were. This story takes Gabriel to uncharted territory… places he has never been and makes places he loves – less lovable.

I loved every minute of this book!

Faceless Killers (Kurt Wallander, #1)Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have never read any of the Wallander books, and I was in need of a bit of a “palate cleanser” and this very short book fit the bill perfectly.

It is a most excellent introduction to Kurt Wallander… a very troubled police officer. He has problems galore in his personal life, but boy is he good and piecing together a mystery!

This won’t be my last Wallander book!

MatrixMatrix by Lauren Groff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh boy, this book… what a very curious tale! The writing is really beautiful… but the story sort of missed the mark for me. (Yet, still… 4-stars)

I really was loving the story of Marie being uprooted from all she knows and sent off to a monestery. (nunnery? I am really not sure what to call the religious order!) Anyways, I loved the start of Marie finding her way, making friendships… family, really… with the women.

Where the story began to derail for me were the “visions” – which to me seemed improbable, at best. And also… I began to detest Marie and her ever growing ego. These changes were not good ones for her at all. No one likes someone who thinks they are all that… and I thought Marie neatly fell into that category. There are more visions with even more improbable results…

And the ending… all I could say was WTAF. Really? I read this book for the Read With Me book club and I am very much looking forward to listening to what others thought and talking about this book!

That is all I have for today… are you in the frenzied making of the season?

As always, if you wrote a post to share, please leave your link below and thank you!

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