Home on a Tuesday

This week will be busy, but today and tomorrow are days at home. Which means I got to watch the season finale of Downton Abbey this morning – WOW!  No spoilers here, in case, like me, you tape and watch at a more convenient time, but it had a whole lot that was interesting.  🙂 All set up for next season.  I heard on the news this morning that Maggie Smith says next season is her final one.  I hope they don’t try to replace her – just kill her off (dramatically, with some deathbed straightening out of her granddaughters, of course) Because Maggie Smith is just the perfect Dowager Countess, I can’t imagine anyone else doing it.

I also finished another black and white hat.  I might have it out of my system.  🙂  I like this one, it is very textured and to me, at least, IS the Maine woods in winter, which was my goal.  I think I will keep this one, though, not sell it or send it away.  I haven’t made myself a new hat in a while, and we all need more hats, right?

snow in woods hat version 2

snow in woods hat version 2 in window

Me, looking out at those cold Maine woods, in my warm cozy hat.

snow in woods hat version 2 top

I will remember how cool the top came out next time I am making a hat, I really like the dark lines the decreases made.

Now, back to my tinier knitting.  Only three WIPS on the needles right now, which is still one more than my rule allows, but I am OK with that.

We have slow slippery blue linen with beads.

blue linen 3 3

We have a green and cream necklace, for when I just have a minute.

green necklace 3 3.

Here’s a close up of it.

green necklace close up 3 3

We have the fabulous baby sweater which is cruising right along now.

Charleston 3 3

I took it to book group last night, and it grew a couple of inches.  Amazing what dedicated time can do for a project. (By the way, I was wearing my red business casual socks and received some sincere compliments, which I much appreciate.  I do have the best sock wardrobe in town, I have to say.  🙂 )

We read the Orphan Train, and the reviews were mixed.  All of us agreed it was a good, fast read, and that we had no clue the orphan trains existed.  And how we might not ship kids off on trains any more, but we still need to work to figure out good systems to protect them. Not everyone liked the writing, however, or how some things felt contrived and abrupt.

Next up – Bill Bryson’s One Summer.  Which I need to go see if the Library can get for me…in time to read it before the end of the month.  🙂

Sometimes I think that I should resign from book group – it is far away (an hour or more, on a clear night) and I often don’t get to finish the books, so feel sort of dull.  But then we have a night like last night – interesting women gathered around a fire with good treats, having fun conversations, brining our own experience to bear on the conversation.  It is worth the drive.

Today I have a few errands to run and a grant to work on, between bouts of knitting.

Life, as they say, is good.

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Good reads

No more talk about the evil S word, or even the big W word.  I am ignoring it all.

I thought I would give you a quick update on what I have been reading.  I think I mentioned My Brilliant Friend, last month’s book group selection.  It was very good, although many dark topics, and it made us intimate with a culture I have not lived with before.  Not an easy book, but a good one.

Ditto for our current selection – Orphan Train.  OMG, I read this in two sittings, sniffling the whole way.  It is so clearly written, so perfectly blending fact and fiction that it all feels real, and like it is happening to people we know, I absolutely love it.

Then, because they were right next to the Orphan Train on the library cart, I also grabbed Still Alice and Lila.  I blew through Alice in a  couple of days – another one so well researched, such a good job making fiction blend with research and (presumably) fact that it feels very real. I have often wondered what it feels like to be the person with the oncoming dementia, and Lisa Genova does a fabulous job of capturing this feeling.  No idea if it is real or not, but it feels real.  So real that I don’t think I can watch the movie.  What a devastating disease.

Lastly, I am in the midst of Lila.  I have to say although I love the writing, I am struggling to relate to the character. I don’t feel I know her well enough just yet to want to spend a lot of time with her.  But I will keep reading and I expect I will get into it before too long.

I also recently read The Outermost House – Henry Beston.  It was an interesting book about living on the beaches of Cape Cod for an entire year – and felt to me like the introvert’s dream – I could see myself in that little house with a mountain of yarn, a book or two, happy as a clam.  A slow, quiet book, it took me a long time to read through, but I savored each bit of it.  I’ll read it again someday.

That’s it – not just knitting going on around here!

Freed from the mittens, my mind whirls with ideas

Good morning!  The sun is shining, the plumber came yesterday so we are warm and I am clean.  🙂

It is an all round good day – I sold a card yesterday!!! (Thank you, Auntie P!)  I went to mail it off today, and found a bonus check from work!  Completely unexpected, I have to say. And welcome.  Some will undoubtedly go toward yarn and other crafting materials (Yes, Crimson Crow, I hear you.) I think I will divide it into thirds – 1/3 each for A and I to buy hobby stuff with, and 1/3 for a nice Valentine’s dinner or something. (Did I mention we had one of our anniversaries yesterday?  We have been together 13 years!)

I learned of a knitting retreat from One Lupine, a local yarn shop, that will be held nearby this year, but in the Orkneys, Scotland next year. Immediately I began calculating how to get enough money to go and how not to feel guilty about spending all that money on something A could care less about.  It will come to me, I hope.  I have long wanted to go there.  My mom and sister have been, and I have a painting hanging in my living room which my sister painted from her trip there.

P1070313

It seems like a good opportunity to get there, and knit as well.  We will see, I guess.  It is more than a year away.

I strung the beads for four necklaces, which I hope to work on this weekend. Three are to give away, one is to sell.  The three (black, blue, and purple) are for a coworker and her two daughters.  I had to load printer drivers and do security updates on 5 tax computers yesterday, so while I waited to click “Next” I strung beads.  All set now.

jan 29

I also mapped out a scarf I want to make from some linen in the “Nancy” stash.  I kept it because I have always wanted to try knitting with linen but never had a project in mind.  I have had this in my stash for a long time now, and the other day, a project came to me.  Not sure how it will work, but I want to knit a fairly narrow (24 stitches?) linen stitch scarf with a beaded Greek key design along the two short edges.  I have no idea if this will work or not, but I wound one of the skeins into a ball this morning, and found some beads that will work, so I can cast that on soon.  But before that happens…

I am swatching some Baby Ull for this pattern, Charleston Baby sweater and hat set which was a generous gift to me from the designer, Maryanne Holm, better known to me as Slipped Stitches.  I loved this little set the moment I saw it (and still want to figure out how to make it in my size!) but didn’t know who it would be for, and didn’t have any Tosh Light to make it in.  The other day I was up in the craft room digging through the yarn stash, and came across two skeins of Baby Ull in a dark reddish-orange.  Immediately, I thought of this pattern, I think it will work, but I am being a good girl and swatching to be sure.  Who it is for is still unknown – it might go in the “future present” pile, or it might get sent off to one of the charities I knit for, but I MUST make it.  🙂

Meanwhile, I keep knitting on the blue sleeves, they are officially 8 inches long (un-blocked) so I AM getting there. I do have to figure out, at some point, how long I really want them.  They are quite open at the cuff, so I think I will make them a tad shorter than longer, so I don’t get hung up in them when I wear the sweater.

I told you my mind was whirling!

What else I am up to today:

Shoveling.  Lots still to do to get cleaned up in preparation for another foot of snow coming tomorrow and Saturday.

Sort out tax stuff, pack my boxes in preparation for Monday’s first day.

Clean something.  Almost anything would do at this point.  We have tracked in so much muck this week.

Fill the bird feeders. the little guys are quite hungry in this cold weather.

Start reading. I got three books from the library today – one is Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline which is our next book group selection (for March 2.  Can you believe how ahead I am?) The other two are Still Alice  by Lisa Genova and Lila by Marilynne Robinson.  Of course, I should first finish the one I am reading now, The Gods of Guilt, by Michael Connelly.

I am not sure I have time to work next week. 🙂