New Pattern – Pillars

I finally got around to writing up the pattern for my infinity scarf this week. It also has a name too, Pillars. I have it for sale on Ravelry and on my website for $5.00.

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I have only knit it up in this striped version, but it would be great in a single color too. The stitch pattern is fun, easy, and has a nice stretchy texture.

Here’s another little fun thing I set up to go along with the pattern release. I was originally envisioning doing this design as a kit. I was going to pick 6-8 color combinations and package appropriate amounts of yarn with the pattern so that you can make the scarf in stripes without the need of purchasing full skeins when you only need 20-25g of a color (you need 40-50g of the main color, but more on that in a minute), but I came up with what I think will be even better.

Build your own kits! I have made these adorable mini skeins of the Classic Merino Sport and you can buy what ever combination you want. If you want it the way I made mine with a main color and two contrasts, you will need one ball each of the contrasts and two of the main color. For a single color scarf you one 100g skein. Fun, huh?

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This is just a few of the colors, but aren’t they the cutest things?

If you visit the link you will see that there are two skein size options there; 100g and 25g. Pick a color and a size and there you are. Then go put the pattern in the cart and you are ready to go. We will see how it goes and if people like it we may even expand the idea to other yarns. Oh, this would be a fun for my Classic Baby Cardigan too.

Okay enough with the self promotion stuff, LOL! I have some more progress on the wrap I am working on. It doesn’t look any different, just bigger, but I took a new picture anyway. I am close to the end of the first skein and have almost 20”, so my prediction of it coming out at somewhere between 60 – 64” for 3 skeins seem pretty good.

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I haven’t talked much about my reading lately, but that’s not for lack of it. I have actually made good progress on my TBR list. I finished my re-read of the Lord of the Rings and it was a pleasure to read as it always is. I swear it just gets better every time I read it if that is possible. I was listening to the new unabridged Audible version as I think I mentioned before, and I will reiterate that is is very well done. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As soon as I finished that I started on Gone Girl, because my number came up on the Overdrive list for the eBook. I can’t remember the last time, not counting books I listen to while on the road, that I have finished book in 2 1/2 days. Wow. It was very interesting and just pulled me in and didn’t let go. I was going back and forth between reading and listening to the Audible version, so that helped, but honestly I just could not put this down. I listened to it while I was churning out those mini skeins you see up there, LOL! If you are one of the few people who haven’t read this one I encourage you to do it. I am not usually one to read something just because it’s popular, but I think this time there is a good reason for it.

So after I finished Gone Girl I started Clockwork Angels because I am a total Rush geek and I simply have to read it for that reason. So far so good. I just started it last night.

Okay that’s all for today! Happy knitting and reading!

We’re getting there…

Where to start? Since my last post I have made some small progress on my cowl/infinity scarf design, but not as much as I would have liked there to be.

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It’s about 4” wide at this point and I didn’t have any definite width in mind before I started. I just figured I would knit it until it seemed like a good size, but probably at least 6-7” and possibly more.

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My poor Boneyard Shawl hasn’t seen any action since I started the above cowl, but it did get to pose in one of our lovely new Yarn Bowls soon to be available on our brand new website. :-) We are tentatively planning for a Feb. 9 launch and I am so excited about it! 

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We are holding off several new products and some other cool stuff for a grand opening. Here’s some sneak previews of just a small sampling of the new Shawl pin Rings we are making.

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Y’all they are truly amazing if I do say so myself, and I think I am entitled since I am not even bragging on myself here. My talented daughter Meredith who also makes the Shawl Pins, Nostepinnes, and Darning Eggs, is the genius behind these as well. If you have been to our booth at festivals, you have probably seen or met her. She is always with me.

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Remember her?

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Here’s some more to whet your appetite, LOL!

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See? Fabulous, no?

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Anyway I will give you all more details once we are sure it’s a go. We have had quite a few glitches lately but it’s all coming together and I am optimistic that all will be ready in time. Oh, you can also sign up for my Newsletter if you would like to get updates in email. It’s up near the top in the sidebar right under my Find me on Ravelry button. :-)

I haven’t given any reading updates lately. Let’s see, in December and the first half of January I was reading The Brothers Karamazov. My reaction to it was sort of underwhelming. I expected to be more impressed honestly. It is such a highly regarded work that I was left wondering what I was missing. I was not alone however in the Goodreads group I was reading it with. Many were left with the same feeling of “what is all the fuss about”? Have any of you read it? Can you educate me on what I missed? I would truly like to know what it is that made you love the book. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am glad I read it and there were some parts I found very interesting and thought provoking, like the part’s where Ivan is telling the story of The Inquisitor and his conversation with The Devil, but overall I was glad to be done and don’t see myself re-reading it.

I possibly impatient with it towards the end because I was badly wanting to start my re-read of The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings books. I just adore these and am immensely enjoying the new unabridged Audible versions along with my Nook copies. I like to immersion read sometimes and I am savoring every minute of these books. I read The Hobbit in 5 days and started The Fellowship this weekend. My only hang up so far was that when I started up The Fellowship, to my horror I realized that they didn’t start with The Prologue: Concerning Hobbits. To me an unabridged version should have included that. It is not optional to me. So I just read that part and started the audiobook when I reached the first chapter. I am currently at the point where Sam, Frodo and Pippin have reached Crickhollow and Merry and Fatty Bolger are preparing their second supper, LOL! I just love these opening chapters where the adventure is just beginning. It’s kind of like that time in a knitting project where it’s all shiny and new and full of promise.

Okay well that’s it for now I suppose. Keep you fingers crossed for the website launch!

The Passage

The PassageThe Passage by Justin Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it even more the second time! I finished The Passage and boy am I glad that this time I have the sequel in my possession and ready to start. I can not wait to get going on it.

As I was reading I found there were many parts which I remembered easily like the beginning stuff with Wolgast and Amy, and then in the second section with The Colony and the journey to Colorado. In particular I remembered the parts with Theo and Mausami and the birth of Caleb and the rest of the party encountering the soldiers. There were quite a lot of other details which I realize now were lost and it was good to review them. For example the opening scenes where the scientists were discovering the creatures from where the virus came. Also later on when the travelers set out from the Colony, the facts of why were fuzzy. I was thinking it was about the batteries for some reason. There was other stuff too, but suffice it to say I am glad I read it again. I now am fully prepared forThe Twelve :-)

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In other news: I am feeling better today. Fever seems to be gone finally and while I am experiencing the remants of cough and sinus symptoms, it is better.

Also Sprossling  is totally finished. I am very pleased with it and working on getting some pictures today which I will be sharing with you ASAP. Stay tuned :-)

My brief commentary on War and Peace

War and PeaceWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What to say about such a well known and revered work such as this? I hardly feel qualified for the task.

What I will say is that I am very glad that I finally got around to reading it. It took me almost 11 weeks to accomplish, but it was worth the time spent. I greatly enjoyed learning to know the characters and following their lives. There are many happy points as well as tragic ones, but such is life.

I admit that I skimmed and even skipped the very last section where he was waxing philosophical about war, nations and society. Maybe I will return to it another day but I was not into right now. I liked to read the thoughts of the characters when they mused but this was more narrative in nature and I was not in the mood for it.

All in all this is a classic for good reason.

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Almost there..

Here’s my latest progress on my Sprossling. The knitting of this sweater is truly a breeze once you get going on it. I can’t wait to see it finished.

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I finished the body pieces and am almost done with the first sleeve. I had a few hours on Saturday afternoon that I could devote to knitting so I put on my audiobook and got a good bit of the sleeve done that day.

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It’s amazing how much progress you can make even on size 4 needles, when you can work all at once like that. It is rare that I can do that so it was quite a treat for me. :-) I even finished my audiobook, which was Ken Follett’s Winter of the World.

It was pretty good. If you read the first of the series, The Fall of Giants, you won’t want to miss this one. It picks up with most of the characters from that book a decade or so later. The story mostly focuses on the next generation but most of the previous generation is still around and they are active in this book still. I found the historical aspects of it interesting and liked following the storylines of the families as they intertwined with each other.

I am almost finished with War and Peace too. I am so glad I finally got around to reading this. I have no idea why I had a hard time getting into it the first time I tried. It is a very readable and enjoyable story for most of the time. The characters are compelling and that is what I love in a book. I have been touched many times at the circumstances some of the characters find themselves in. The “war” parts can be a bit tedious at times. They aren’t all that way though. Actually there is even quite a bit of thought provoking prose in there to add variety to the work. I haven’t found myself getting bored at any point at all. so challenge yourself if you haven’t tackled this book yet. It is a rewarding read and you can have bragging rights when you are done. :-)

Late Fall Musings and Goals

My Sticks and Stones vest is off the needles! It seems like it is so close to being finished at this point until you remember that the seaming and edging take a fair bit of time to accomplish.

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We made it out of Asheville on Monday morning in chilly and windy weather, but ahead of the storms. It was blustery on Sunday too, which made booth load up a bit unpleasant but we made it out in a surprisingly short time considering the circumstances. The wind was the worst factor. It kept knocking stuff over and blowing the tent flaps we were parked next to against the truck and trailer. At one point we just stopped loading, moved the cargo and pulled to a different spot. That helped a lot.

Anyway, from what I saw on the weather the area we were in got some snow which I am so glad we missed. Long time readers on here will already know who much I dislike cold and snow in particular. Yuck.

Here is a shot I took of how the mountain pass traveling in from east Tennessee into North Carolina on I-40 looked on Thursday before all the “weather” blew in.

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It was mid to upper 70’s for the first part of the weekend but turned chilly on Saturday and Sunday. The show was pretty busy and we did very well in sales. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the show and the vendors. You have no idea how much we who make a living from the work of our hands appreciate that.

The show season is winding down for the winter for us. We have one more event this year in early December in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is the Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza which I just came across earlier this year. This will be our first year there.

While my knitting progress has been slow I have been getting some reading done. I am still reading War and Peace and listening/reading to Winter of the World. I am past the halfway point in both of these books. I am enjoying them both but I have to tell you that it is a challenge at times keeping my brain engaged in two different time periods of wars involving many of the same nations. LOL!

I have a schedule of things I want to read before the end of the year in preparation for a re-read of The Lord of the Rings beginning January 1. As soon as I finish the two current books I plan to re-read The Passage prior to reading the second installment The Twelve. I am really looking forward to these. I liked The Passage a lot and am excited to get to the next book. After these I have several short books I want to read before a re-read of The Hobbit. There are a couple Stephen King/Joe Hill novellas namely, In the Tall Grass and Thumbprint, and after them I have been itching to read Clockwork Angels which is an expansion on the concepts and lyrics from the new Rush album from this year of the same name. I know. Sounds totally geeky and weird right? It has gotten some pretty good reviews though. I think you have to be a Rush fan to care though, LOL!

Well I will leave you with a last glimpse of the fall colors outside my window. They will most likely be gone within a week.

maple tree fall

Slowly but Surely

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It’s coming along slowly but surely. I finished the lacy section of my Twig and Leaf over the weekend and started the short row garter section. It is nice reading and movie watching knitting at this point and I suppose I will be done in a few more days. That will depend of course on how much time I actually get to devote to it. I am really loving how this is coming out and can’t wait to get it off the needles and see it transform when it’s blocked. I just love that about lace knitting, don’t you?

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We are leaving before dawn in the morning for Winchester, VA which is a little over 600 miles. I like to get an early start for long hauls. We are taking along some extra cargo this time. My two youngest daughters are tagging long and will spend the week visiting with my second oldest daughter who lives near Baltimore. They are pretty excited, as are we all. We only get to visit with Heather and her family a couple times a year. Well we see each other on Skype, but in person visits are always more fun. We see them each year when we are in the area for the Shenandoah Fiber Festival and the Fall Fiber Festival of Virginia, and they try to come to Nashville at least once a year, usually at Christmas or New Years.

This is Heather, my son-in-law Garrod, and grand daughter Willow this past spring. We are also happy to announce that grandbaby #2 is due in May. :-) Yay!

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I am also working my way through War and Peace (this translation). It is not a fast read, what with all the foot notes to look up and the French translations to slow me down, but that’s okay. I don’t mind a challenge sometimes as long as I am into the story. I am only about 150 or so pages into it, the whole book including notes is 1400 pages, so haven’t had time to get past the building of the foundations of characters and places. I am getting familiar already though with the major characters. I still refer to the Principal Characters lists to get my bearings sometimes. This is my second time starting this work and it is a personal challenge to finish, and hopefully like it. ;-) The first time I tried was probably 15 years ago. I think the translation just wasn’t working for me. This one is pretty good.

I was even inspired with all the French to brush up on mine. I took two years in high school but my skills are rudimentary at best. I got this book on my Nook and downloaded the audio files to my Nexus tablet. I plan to work through it as I can and who knows, by the time I get through with War and Peace I may find I don’t have to look up every French passage, but can translate it myself. :-) We’ll see.

I also recently read and listened at the same time to The Children of Hurin. The Audible version was narrated by Christopher Lee and I just can not stop raving about it. It added to the atmosphere of the reading for me to listen to his wonderfully done narration. It was such a big help too to hear the elvish names properly pronounced. The story is sad in places and actually moved me to tears a few times.

Okay I better close for now and finish packing. Later!

A quick book review

Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading BrainProust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A most excellent and interesting book about what a reading brain is like, how we learn to read and what it does for us. Also lots of insight into how children need to read and be read to and the disadvantages when we don’t. Lots of insight into theories about dyslexia which I found very helpful and educational.

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New and future knits and reads

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I sure was glad to be home when we arrived in the late afternoon on Monday. Traveling is great and I enjoy it but coming back home is good, especially after an extended trip of nearly two weeks. It was nice to be back in my own bed, have my own kitchen, and the to have rest of my people around me. :-)

Of course there’s always loads of things to do when you return from trips, which has kept me pretty busy since Tuesday. There was grocery shopping and laundry as well as bookkeeping and sales taxes to file. School for the children gets done somewhat while we are gone but I have to get them back on track with subjects they can only do when I am here to work with them, like Science and History. We study and read these aloud together; that is my elementary aged ones. I only have one high school aged child at the time and he is independent, well sort of. He is held accountable periodically. :-) But I digress.

So somehow I was able to squeeze in some knitting and have been faithful to my Sticks and Stones and cast on for the final piece. What you see up above is an assortment of other present and near future projects I  have planned.

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This is what you call an impulse cast on. It is a Plain Jhayne in the smallest size in my Classic Merino Bamboo. I had this 25g ball of Classic Merino Bamboo that came into being when we were dyeing yarn last month. Notice how it is a multi colored dye job? We don’t dye hand painted color-ways on Merino Bamboo but when the bases were being made into skeins some Merino Bamboo base was accidentally tied onto a skein of Merino Superwash Sock yarn. I didn’t notice it in the un-dyed skein but once the dye was set it was obvious. So I separated the bases out and thought to myself “I wonder how this looks knit up?” It was about enough for baby socks I thought, or hey what about fingerless mitts? Bingo! Plain Jhaynes it is.

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I like how it looks but if you look at the rest of the skein in the Superwash Sock yarn, you can really see how different they look. It’s okay on the Merino Bamboo, but not really worth the extra work that hand paints require IMO, which is why we only dye solids commercially in that base. But hey maybe that’s just my perception. What do you think?

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This project was another spontaneous cast on. Anne Hanson emailed me about a baby project she is doing and wanted to know if I would like her to highlight my Organic Cotton as an alternate yarn choice for it. So I am working up a sample for the photo shoot which I can then use as a model in my booth. There will be more details when she releases it in early September.

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Now these skeins are all wound up and waiting patiently to be cast on as shawls. The light green is my Merino Lace in my new color Peridot, which will be a Twig and Leaf. 

The bottom skein is the color I dyed for the Knitspot Fall in Full Color club this year. I can talk about it now since my yarn was for the first shipment and it is now in the hot little hands of the clubbies. :-) The design is a beautiful shawl called Sonneblume. I was floored when I saw it. It is so gorgeous! Anne hasn’t posted any pictures of it publicly so I don’t think I can post any but I think it’s okay if I blog my knitting progress. It’s a bit complicated to get going on because of the provisional cast on and all, so I haven’t gotten it done yet. I don’t do those very often so I always have to go looking for a video when I am ready to cast on.

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I haven’t talked about any books for awhile have I? Let’s see, what have I read since my last mention. I remember sharing my review of Horns by Joe Hill. After that I started his collection of short stories called 20th Century Ghosts. I am 62% done with it and it is very good. I like reading short stories for a change of pace in between novels.

I also listened to Light in August by William Faulkner while on my trip. It was okay but to be honest I was just slogging through the last 2-3 hours. I don’t think I care for his style. I didn’t care about any of the characters and sometimes I would be momentarily confused about which characters were even speaking. It’s probably just me but I didn’t connect with him as an author, you know. I feel like that was my first and last Faulkner book.

I have been on a long jaunt of contemporary writers and I feel a Classic period coming on. I have the Haunting of Hill House on my short list and after that I am torn between a re-read of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings or a Russian literature binge. I read a forum on Goodreads called Reading the Classics and the current read is Anna Karenina. I have read it before and while am not re-reading it now, I have been lurking on the discussion threads. Anyway I caught wind of a discussion on translations and War and Peace was mentioned. Apparently there was a highly recommended translation recently released that I wanted to have a go at. I tried once many years ago to read W & P, but it was too difficult to get into. I am hoping that was partly a translation issue for me and I am looking forward to giving it another shot. The one I will be reading is the one by Pevear/Volokhonsky. They are a English/Russian husband and wife team and are getting good reviews for their works. If this goes well I am determined to have a third run at The Brothers Karamazov too.

Oh and I almost forgot the other thing that I am ridiculously excited about. The War and Peace translation left all of the French parts un-translated. I took two years of French in high school but my French skills were never anywhere near fluent and are decidedly more rusty now, so I was going to get a French/English dictionary. In Googling for a good one I ran across an app that is even better. It will translate like 11 or 12 languages from text or speech. How freaking cool is that? God, how did we get anything done without apps and the internet? LOL!

Okay I have yammered on long enough for now. Until later!

Horns Book Review

HornsHorns by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the way Joe revealed the details of the characters intertwined lives like un-peeling the layers from an onion. It was a very captivating story if not a trifle odd. The ending was strange but sweet.

This was my third story of the author’s and my favorite one so far. I am looking forward to reading his collection of short stories 20th Century Ghosts. I am adding him to my short list of favorite contemporary authors. :-)

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Brookfield Zoo post coming later today or tomorrow. I just wanted to share my enthusiasm for this book. :-)