Unraveled Wednesday, 7/6/22.

Joining Kat and friends. Go see what the others are up to.

Knitting.

Done, dusted, and felted.

The felted bag is done, and no one was more surprised than I was when I picked it out of the washer and saw how well it felted! The yarn is Nashua Woolly Stripes and the pattern is the French Market Bag. I used nearly all of the six skeins I had. All that is left is a ping-pong-sized ball, which I will use to make an I-cord button loop to hold it closed.

I will use it as a project bag this afternoon at my knitting group. Appropriate, because I cast on for it there,

What to knit next? These balls of yarn were next to my knitting chair,
so I cast on for another blue hat. Never get out of a comfy chair if you don’t need to!

Reading.

Outrage and Rampage by John Sandford & Michele Cook, books two and three of a three-book series. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this unknown-to-me series by my favorite mystery/crime/thriller author, John Sandford. The plot features a mysterious and evil corporation doing tortuous things to animals and people in their labs, formerly homeless teenagers now living in a *hotel* run by a generous artist, and a nefarious plot that reaches almost to the top in the government. Nearly all the characters were teenagers, there were only two trustworthy adults, and all the other adults were Bad Guys. Yup, this is a YA book. But the writing is not simplistic as many YA books are. The book is almost as violent and bloody as other Sandford books, but I would have loved it as a teenager. 4★

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman. Although I love Neil Gaiman as a person — he is funny, humble, endearing — I have trouble with some of his books. Like this one. Beautifully written and illustrated, but the mysticism baffles me. Anansi Boys and American Gods were also baffling. His shorter books — Stardust, The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neverwhere — are much easier for me. That said, you should always read anything by Neil Gaiman. 4★

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Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult. I have read several books by Picuolt and enjoyed them all. This one, same. The story is set in the early days of the covid epidemic: March 2020. Set in NYCity, the ?main characters are Diana, who works for Sotheby’s, and Finn, her partner, a surgeon in the last year of his residency. He may be a surgeon, but this story is when the NY hospitals were very nearly overrun with serious cases, and every professional in the hospital has become an infectious disease pulmonologist. 4★

[digression] I was thinking about Picoult and my perception of her writings. In my mind, she is a purely escapist writer, not a *literary* author. But then I remembered Stephen King; he too is not considered a *literary* author, but over time the compelling nature of his books has worked a change in perception. Established critics like those at the New York Times have also changed their label on King; he may not be *literary*, but he is definitely a widely read author, the Charles Dickens of horror in our time, and therefore perhaps worthy of being considered *literary*. The common feature of King and Picoult is the sheer volume of their writings. According to goodreads.com, King has written over 50 books ( I quit counting at 50) and Picoult has over 40. Those are a lot of books. Perhaps perceptions of Picoult as an author are diminished because she is a female writing largely about women; how can that be considered *literary* (tongue planted firmly in cheek)? Anyhow, I have resolved to read more of her books.

I want to thank John Sandford, Michele Cook, Neil Gaiman, and Jodi Picoult for delivering such wonderful books. I have never read four, four-star books in a row.

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The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab.

Listening.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. I may have finished this audiobook. After the story *finishes*, there are a couple sections that appear to be excerpts from it, repeating. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this one. The story is set in early 1960s Harlem and centers on Ray Carney, who owns a furniture store on 125th Street. His father was a small-time criminal, as are many of his friends and relations. Although he is essentially law-abiding, he is not above stocking the occasional piece of furniture or console TV that mysteriously fell off the truck. I went to a convention in La Crosse over last weekend, which gave me ample opportunity to listen. The story is enjoyable and entertaining and besides being a good novel is also a kind of sociological analysis of Harlem society, both legitimate and criminal. 4★

Watching,

Outlander. Such a good show. We think we may have actually watched season six before — there were parts that looked familiar. But it wasn’t enough to spoil our enjoyment. Google tells me that season 7 is in production, so I will watch for it to be released on video.

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China Beach Season 3 is waiting for me at the library. What a richness we have in viewing enjoyment!

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Fiber Monday, 7/4/22.

Fourth july vector created by pikisuperstar – www.freepik.com

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I decided on my palette for the baby blanket. The yarn is Shine Sport from Knitpicks.com, and I ordered three skeins of the four main colors and two of the Wallaby. (I am hopeful there will be leftovers; no yarn chicken here.)

As you can see, I went for BRIGHT.

The first four are the main colors, and the last one, Wallaby, is for a narrow stripe between the colors. (I am toying with the idea of using it for am i-cord border, but because that would take roughly forever, it probably will not happen.) I’m going with only four main colors because I didn’t care for the blankets made with six or eight different colored strips. Each main color section will use three 110-yard skeins. I am aiming for the blanket to be roughly 30″x40″, somewhat bigger than the pattern, so that perhaps the babe will like it well enough as s/he grows for it to become her/his Blankie; also, a somewhat larger size seemed more practical. And, yes, I originally said I wanted all natural fibers, and Shine has 40% “Modal natural beech wood fiber”, which I think means a kind of rayon. But it does not come from petroleum so I am calling it good.

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How long until we can buy Hemprino yarn?

^^Helga created sheep from her laundry.^^

Posted in Fiber Monday | 5 Comments

Sunday stuff, 7/3/22.

She’s Mensa-qualified... at 2-1/2. (The link is to a WaPo article. (Let me know whether you can access it. I tried something new with the link.)

Posted in Sunday stuff | 7 Comments

No furry Friday.

Sorry, guys. I have been too busy this week. Here, have one FF pic.

Posted in Furry Friday | 1 Comment

Ranting (of course, what else is new?), 6/30/22.

Remember, click to embiggen if you cannot read a caption.

The Oatmeal on religion.

Posted in Rants, various | 3 Comments

Unraveled Wednesday, 6/29/22.

Joining Kat and friends. Go see what the others are up to.

Knitting.

As you can see, I have completed the bag part and am now working on the handles. This French Market Bag should be done and felted by the next time you see it.

Reading.

Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam by Lynda Van Devanter. The author, fresh out of nursing school, joined the army in 1969 and was shipped to Vietnam. When she got there her idealistic view of the war vanished quickly. She worked long hours in cramped, ill-equipped, understaffed operating rooms. She saw friends die. She witnessed the war close-up, operating on soldiers and civilians whose injuries were catastrophic. The first third of the book covered her idyllic life before ‘Nam, and the last third was her life after, when she suffered from PTSD. The middle third, wherein she details what she faced during her year in ‘Nam, was a powerful story of the horrors of war. In every war, medicine has surpassed what it was in the previous war, which meant soldiers that would have died now are saved and sent back home with horrific disabilities. Some of those disabilities, like those exposure to Agent Orange, were not formally acknowledged for years (or decades). The author died in 2002 from her exposure. China Beach was inspired by this book. 5★

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial by Debra Cohen. I have made it to the war years. The writer must have been a fly on the wall during many of the scenes; I marvel at the research she must have done. The leading characters are John Gunther, Vincent “Jimmy” Shean, H.R. Knickerbocker, and Dorothy Thompson, all cub reporters as the book opens. In those tumultuous years between the wars, they landed exclusive interviews with Hitler and Mussolini, Nehru and Gandhi, and helped shape what Americans knew about the world. Along with the worldly reporting are intimate details about each one’s private life. 4★

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Listening.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. The story is set in early 1960s Harlem and centers on Ray Carney, who owns a furniture store on 125th Street. His father was a small-time criminal, as are many of his friends and relations. Although he is essentially law-abiding, he is not above stocking the occasional piece of furniture or console TV that mysteriously fell off the truck. I went to a convention in La Crosse over the weekend, which gave me ample opportunity to listen. I am about three-quarters of the way through. The story is enjoyable and entertaining and besides being a good novel is also a kind of sociological analysis of Harlem society, both legitimate and criminal. 4★

Watching.

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We finished season two of China Beach; now waiting for season three to come into the library.

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While we wait for season three of China Beach, we started season six of Outlander. It is such a good show.

Posted in Unraveled Wednesdays | 5 Comments

Saturday stuff, 6/25/22.

Some heroes wear turbans.

I cannot even pretend to know how this works, but it does and could be a game changer.

Posted in Saturday stuff | 2 Comments

Furry Friday, 6/24/22.

Remember, click to embiggen if you cannot read a caption.

First of all, today is Smokey’s birthday. But because I am a crap wife —
and also because he is diabetic — I did NOT make him a cake.

“Is Mommy mad at you?”

Watch out for the cat! (caution: audio NSFW)

Polar bears! In Greenland!

Hoo boy, that’s a lot of cats!

When the child thinks it is still smol.

A cat and a box.

Posted in Smokey | 2 Comments

Unraveled Wednesday, 6/22/22.

Joining Kat and friends. Go see what the others are up to.

Knitting.

No new picture of the Big Brown Blob. It is still brown and blobby. I am knitting the handles now. It may be done and felted by next Wednesday. Stay tuned...

Reading.

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Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives by Mary Laura Philpott. I was expecting this to be a novel, but it turned out to be a collection of essays on fear and anxiety and optimism about keeping the author’s children safe as they grow. There is a turtle that hangs around their yard, and they call him Frank. This book was entirely enjoyable. 3.5★

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Last Call at the Hotel Imperial by Debra Cohen. I picked this out of the pile of library books by my bed, but after 20 or so pages decided it was not appealing to me, so I looked through the rest of the many, many books. None of them had the compelling atmosphere of Last Call. So I picked it up again. It is well over 400 pages and has taken me several nights of reading, and I am still not done. It starts in the early 1920s; I am up to the late 1930s. The writer must have been a fly on the wall during many of the scenes; I marvel at the research she must have done. The leading characters are John Gunther, Vincent “Jimmy” Shean, H.R. Knickerbocker, and Dorothy Thompson, all cub reporters as the book opens. In those tumultuous years between the wars, they landed exclusive interviews with Hitler and Mussolini, Nehru and Gandhi, and helped shape what Americans knew about the world. Along with the worldly reporting are intimate details about each one’s private life. 4★

Listening.

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead. As I was listening to this one I was doing other things and didn’t necessarily get the entire flow of the plot. But soon I was absorbed by the characters. Set in the early 1960s, this is the story of Ray Carney, his cousin Freddy, and a multitude of other small-time crooks. Whitehead takes us into the Harlem of that time and peoples it with upstanding citizens, more-or-less honest businessmen, and an assortment of shady characters. 4★

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Watching.

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China Beach. We are nearly done with season two; one season to go. This show was so well-done. It shows the various reactions the soldiers and nurses and Red Cross volunteers had to the war and the ways they chose to deal with the chaos and pain.

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Suits. Haven’t watched this for a bit. Hotel Imperial is too good not to keep reading every night.

Posted in Unraveled Wednesdays | 3 Comments

Fiber Monday, 6/20/22.

Okay, enough with the humor. I have a burning question that y’all are equipped to answer.

I plan to knit a baby blanket for my next project, but I am waffling on the yarn type and the colors.

This is the pattern. All garter stitch, super easy mindless knitting. I have looked at a lot of the projects and this is the one I like best:

I like that it does not scream BABY!

I considered using rainbow colors, but the finished blankets using those colors did not appeal to me. I think it could work if all of the colors were grayed or heathered a bit. Also, the yarn needs to be no more variegated than tonal for success.

Now, the difficult choices:

  • The proposed baby will live in New Mexico at 6,000 ft elevation. Summer daytime temps are way hot but tend to cool a bit at night. Winter day temps are pleasant to cool.
  • Given that, I am strongly considering knitting the proposed blanket in KnitPicks Shine Sport, cotton and rayon.
  • I also considered KnitPicks Cotlin, 70% cotton/30% linen.
  • I prefer all natural fibers, but I may have to put up with some nylon, especially if I go with fingering weight.
  • I eliminated worsted weight yarn because it seems to me that it would be too heavy and thick. When Elder Son was born I received a small, machine-knit blanket from a friend; it was fingering weight and I liked that it was so easy to wrap him in it.
  • I am also considering doing it with sock yarn, preferably merino. Pros are machine washable and dryable, an opportunity to use up stash, and an infinity of colorways. Also, wool can provide more subtle colors, as in the blanket pictured above. Cons are it would take roughly forever and possibly be too warm.

If the fact that the baby will be in New Mexico rang a bell in your memory, yes, Elder Son and wife are attempting to get pregnant. It is not a sure thing, given her age (early 40s), but I am nothing if not optimistic. Obviously, no one knows the sex of the potential child yet, so I am looking at non-gendered colors.

Here are the color combos I have put together from the Shine Sport page. In all of them I have put the colorway that would be the narrow stripe when changing from one main color to another either at the bottom or to the right or in the lower right-hand square.

Pastels:

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Neutrals:

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Brights 1:

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Brights 2:

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Brights 3:

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Brights 4:

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Brights 5 (KP Comfy fingering; cotton/nylon):

Clearly, I prefer bright colors, or neutrals because they always look so classy; pastels are anathema, but if everyone else likes them I will suck it up.

Other contenders are KnitPicks Hawthorne multi; for that I think I would use all one colorway, perhaps with narrow stripes of contrasting solids. If I decide price is no object and I want to really, really enjoy the knitting, Malabrigo Sock, Malabrigo Mechita, Valley Yarns Huntington, Dream in Color Smooshy, Cascade Heritage Silk are all (or mostly) merino and have lovely colors. Oh, and what about Blue Moon Fiber Arts? Cascade Ultra Pima (109 colors!)?

Oh, the choices are endless…

Posted in Fiber Monday | 11 Comments