may finished objects

The weather here in suburban Elysia has been cool and grey and the tree pollen is carried in yellow showers by the wind. Work has been busy, so in the evenings I don’t have much energy – I just want to cuddle up with a blanket and a vlog or Netflix. I have been spending a lot of that time with knitting and have some finished objects to show you, and some new projects as well.

First up is the Log Cabin blanket – finally off the needles. This is a pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting and I started it in February 2016. At that time, my knitting had been dormant for a long while, but on that day, Miss L had a birthday party to attend and I had a couple of hours to kill. On a whim, I grabbed the book, a skein of Lions’ Brand worsted, a set of needles, and sat at a coffee shop around the corner and cast on. In the early days, it was small enough to tuck into my purse and take with me for travel and movie knitting. I worked on it off and on for several years and it had no end in sight. Finally, though, I realized it was becoming unpleasant to work on due to its size and weight, so I watched a YouTube tutorial on how to crochet an edging (also very fun and relaxing, I may try granny squares!) and finished it up.

I also finished the Beatrice mitts, which is a pattern by Leslie Friend of A Friend to Knit With. I knit this in the recommended yarn, which is TurtlePurl’s Striped Turtle Toes in the Trench Coat colorway (available from Etsy). The pattern was quick and easy and this yarn is wonderful – highly recommend both.

Both Raveled.

I have cast on for a new pair of socks and a summer sweater, and I think my next blanket is going to be a scrappy Cozy Memories with lots of leftover sock yarns and a dark grey or black border around each square. In addition, I picked up a counted cross-stitch sampler kit and have been working on that with a lot of satisfaction. It’s my first counted cross-stitch project and won’t be my last unless it ruins my eyesight in the process. I have long wanted to stitch an old-fashioned sampler and this one isn’t quite what I would ultimately want (I want something more complex and detailed, and more old-fashioned) but it’s a good start.

happy may

Happy May, happy Beltane. It was quite a week here in Suburban Elysia, full of dentist appointments, board meetings, nighttime calls with my colleagues in Japan, waves of pollen and allergies. But somehow we muddled through and the big news, the event that capped our week, was Brandon and I receiving our second doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine.

24 hours post, we are both feeling fine – sore arms, some fatigue, but that’s all, so we are pretty lucky, I guess.

I hope you are all well. I will be back next week with a couple of finished objects (!!) and more nattering.

some warm days

Author’s Note: In March my family suddenly lost my father. There is no way that I can ever put into words what that has been like. For awhile, I didn’t want to talk about it, except with y mom and brother, and I didn’t want to be online at all, much less on my blog. But this space is about celebrating the things (mostly small things) that make me happy and bring me joy so I feel like that is positive and something I can do. My family has pulled together and we are dealing with our grief the way he would expect us to- by loving and supporting each other and moving forward as best we can and with humor. I don’t want to share any more, but not sharing our enormous loss at all didn’t feel right, either. I appreciate your support as always.

We’ve had a spate of warm days and spent most of them in the yard. We’ve raked up the detritus of our willow tree and I weeded and raked one small bed which contains a day lily, coneflowers, and sedum. I also planted container lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Brandon’s passion project this year is our grass. He’s spent an inordinate amount of time overseeding and patching and consulting with the Scott’s expert at our local hardware store.

I’ve been enjoying so much knitting lately although I don’t have many FO’s to show for it. I finished my Mittens to Fit by Slavi Thomsen in March so had to photograph them amongst the new spring growth. They’re Raveled, blocked, and go into the mitten basket for next winter (unless, in typical Michigan fashion, we get a spring snowstorm).

I’m currently working on these Beatrice mitts by Leslie Friend of A Friend to Knit With. They’re a super easy and quick pattern and the recommended yarn – Turtlepurl’s Striped Turtle Toes in the Trenchcoat colorway – is divine to work with. Although I’m really trying to de-stash this year and only buy yarn for specific patterns, I might buy another skein for another pair of Mittens to Fit.

I’m swatching a couple of different options for a cotton short-sleeved summer sweater.

I’m also watching some wonderful new-to-me crafting vlogs- Tales from Cuckoo Land and Ollie and Bella, both on YouTube. Chelsea Yarns is a newish one as well although I may have mentioned that before. So many beautiful things.

I am still working from home and still fine with it. It looks like we may go back in July and in my current frame of mind I am not eager to do so. I can’t help but feel exhausted at the thought of the commute and constantly being surrounded by so.many.people. The upside is that I will be fully vaccinated by that time. Brandon and I got our notifications that we were eligible for our first dose at the big Covid clinic being held at the home of the Detroit Lions, Ford Field. One sunny Friday morning we went down and got our shots. It was a quick, friendly, efficient process and apart from slightly sore arms (similar to the flu shot) we felt no side effects. Our second dose is already scheduled for April 30.

I think that brings us somewhat up to date. I hope your spring (or fall, depending on your hemisphere) is lovely so far. xo

tgif – a week of thaw

Good morning from suburban Elysia! It’s been a week of mild – nay, dare I say – warm temperatures and the world is mudluscious. My allergies are starting to go a bit haywire but that has not prevented me from trying to fully enjoy the thaw.

The mailman has been bringing some happy mail this week!

Brandon bought the Detroit print and we will have it framed for our living room! He also bought a new reading lamp and we are ordering swatches for a new loveseat for the den. Long overdue. The current loveseat is a hand me down from some friend’s basement, and poorly slipcovered via Target. Still, I am sad to lose it, as it is supremely comfortable, and I had some of the best naps of my life on it.

The mug discussion has been ongoing in our house as we always have too many – mostly mismatched, chipped, cartoon mugs. Brandon is Mr Aesthetic and I can tell this pains his soul but I cannot get rid of the owl shaped Hedwig mug that Miss L used to drink hot chocolate from or my Whistler’s Mother mug from the Detroit Institute of Arts. I did, however, have my heart broken when my final gorgeous blue pottery mug from my mom broke in the dishwasher. I love thick pottery mugs with gorgeous heavy handles. So I got these as a gift to us. Miss L does not like the color but they are a joy to hold and can suffer through all the indignities of modern life such as the microwave and dishwasher.

My mom also sent me a gift – my brand new favorite t-shirt!

I’ve been dedicated and productive at work in the old home office this week and received news that our work from home has been extended through June. I am on our county list for the vaccine but happy to wait my turn as more at-risk populations get theirs.

I hope you have a fast Friday and a long slow weekend! We are looking forward to Indian food and at least one nice run in this sloppy warm melting world before Michigan turns on us again and sends snow back (I know it’s coming at some point! It can’t be this easy)!

Be well and I hope you are as pleased with life as Pot Roast.

show us your books – february 2021 reads

As always, joining our hosts Steph and Jana for this monthly reading link-up!

This month I read two thrillers, a YA fantasy, and two graphic novels – a real mixed bag.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds was a sort of reunion-revenge-closed room mystery. A group of former snowboarding hotshots reunite in a remote ski resort in the French Alps. Told partly in flashback to the last time they were all together, they quickly realize they have been lured back together for a reason – which involves the tragic death of one of their former snowboarding compatriots years earlier. This was a quick, fast paced read that kept me coming back. There’s a lot of lithe bodies and talk of “shredding the pipe” which is apparently snowboarding jargon but despite that it was solid.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong is a YA fantasy set in 1920’s Shanghai, with themes reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet’s young lovers and warring families. (If Romeo and Juliet had a monster swimming the depths of the Huangpu River.) I enjoyed the creativity and characterizations in this book but it felt like it took me a very long time to get through and I’m not sure I’ll be reading the follow-up.

Frank Herbert’s Dune (the graphic novel) – I first read “Dune” when I was a middle schooler and had a crush on Kyle McLachlan (who played Paul Atreides in the David Lynch film). It was fun to reread this first portion of the book in graphic form and look forward to other installments.

The Neil Gaiman Library (volume 1) is a collection of four Gaiman graphic novels – none of which I’d read before. Includes ‘How to Talk to Girls at Parties’ and ‘Murder Mysteries’ – both of which I read twice to fully absorb both the stories and the art. Highly recommend and will be reading volume 2 this month.

The Nightmare by Lars Kepler – you can just expect a Lars Kepler in my monthly rundowns until I am current. These are absolutely fantastic, gripping nordic noir thrillers featuring Joona Linna, the magnetic Finnish detective. They are gory. They are intense and occasionally brutal. But they are unputdownable.

Life According to Steph

tgif – a sunny friday four

Just a quick check-in today as this week has been a doozy at work and I have meetings right up until 5pm today that will likely run over.

1. The red squirrel has moved into the deluxe birdhouse thankyouverymuch.

2. The weather here in Southeast Michigan this week has been really nice. It’s hit the 50’s several days with copious sunshine, and we’ve lost most of our snowpack. It’s still cold at night so I am loving the humidifier and fuzzy sheets but the break in the winter weather has been enjoyable for everything except for my sinuses and allergies.

3. Brandon & I got out for an afternoon of cross-country skiing last weekend, just on the cusp of the warmer weather. It was my first time so I spent a fair amount of time on my ass but at the end of it I’d sort of gotten the hang of it. And really enjoyed it. I would love to do more next winter. An afternoon of strenuous activity and sunshine after a period of cold and sloth was just what I needed.

4. My folks got their first Covid vaccine this week and I am so relieved. So far their aftereffects are minimal so fingers crossed that their second shot in a few weeks is as smooth.

I am happy it’s Friday and I am looking forward to Chinese takeout tonight and hopefully more nice temperatures and sunshine. What are you up to? Whatever it is, I hope you have an excellent weekend with your special ones.

winter break

Miss L had the week off for her winter break so we scampered up north for a few days to visit the folks.

It was pretty cold – a few degrees above zero Fahrenheit- but Miss L still wanted to ice skate at the local rink. She spent a fair amount of time shoveling and sweeping the rink free of snow, which I suppose is an occupational hazard for kids in the northlands.

We also played quite a bit of poker with my folks & tried to get their cats to love us (in vain).

“back the f- up, karen” – tessa

I’m working on a pair of sock yarn mittens – the Mittens to Fit pattern by Slavi Thomsen is a Ravelry pattern and I’m using some old – very old – sock yarn from my stash. (Leftover from legwarmers, it’s Berroco Sox in the now-discontinued Huddersfield colorway.)

I’ve been looking for a sock yarn mitten pattern for awhile and this one is very cute, except as I start the second mitten I am plunging into the unknown. The pattern is written for the right mitten and the pattern note says to be aware to make the thumb on the opposite side for the left mitten, so they fit your hands. There aren’t any other pattern instructions as to how to put the thumb on the opposite side. I assume that I just reverse the pattern for the increases for the thumb? I’m going to try it. If worst comes to worst, I’ve tried the right mitten on my left hand and it seems to look fine, so maybe if I utterly can’t figure it out I can just knit two “right” mittens but if any crafty knitters know how to do this, please leave it in the comments!

My mom made a great Bay City ham and sent us home with a big container of leftovers so once we got home I put a pot of white bean and ham soup simmering on the stove for dinner.

The great thing about a vacation in the early part of the week is that you get back and it feels like a Monday but here it is Friday and I only have one day of calls and catch-up before the weekend! It is warming up into the mid-20’s F. here so Brandon and I are going cross-country skiing tomorrow – it’s my first time and I can’t wait! What are you up to with your weekend?

Be well and enjoy. xoxo

PS – I also wanted to share the great news that one of my favorite vlogs – A Simple Swedish Life, about a Korean / Swedish family living in Stockholm – now has an Instagram account. His vlog is simple, silent, about the Swedish lifestyle, and his imagery is minimalist and striking. His subject matter is heartwarming and pure, especially when he features his cooking, musings, his wife, and his 1.5 year old son. Please go follow @asimpleswedishlife if you have an IG account – well worth it. Thank you!!

pink memories

Pink Memories

Started: February 2019

Completed: February 2021

Pattern by Isabel Kraemer

Knit in Polo&Co Alpaga (sport)

Details on Ravelry / sixtenpine

My first-ever hand-knitted sweater- It only took 2 years and 3 restarts!
I generally like my sweaters roomy and boy-fit but I definitely could have sized down on this one – it’s pretty boxy. And there will always be little imperfections that I see and wish I had done differently. But I am really pleased overall with my first foray into garment knitting and am already perusing my next project.

show us your books – january 2021 reads

Winter – real winter – has finally arrived in Michigan with a vengeance. Lake Michigan is protecting us from the truly arctic temps sweeping down from Canada but it’s still dang cold. To that end, I am eager to see everyone’s reads this month and pad out my TBR list cuz I’m NOT going outside for awhile!

As always, I am joining the link-up hosted by Steph and Jana!

I’ll review my two “Nordic Noir” reads first – both recommended by the excellent Crime by the Book. The Butterfly House by Katrine Engberg is the second book in the Korner and Werner series. Bodies drained of blood are showing up around Copenhagen, and as Korner investigates, it appears that they all have links to caregiving institutions. Werner is on maternity leave after an unexpected pregnancy, chafing at being home with a newborn and struggling to cope with her new normal. When she decides to do some independent sleuthing on the case, it exposes both of them to a murderer bent on vengeance. The strength of this series, to me, is the human element of Korner and Werner’s personal lives as they intermingle with their investigations, and the relationship between these contrary characters. A solid follow-up to The Tenant.

My starred review this month, however, goes to The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler. It knocks every other Scandinavian thriller into the ditch and is not for the faint of heart, but I absolutely could not put it down. The book opens with the grisly murder of a family in Sweden, a sole surviving teenager, and a hypnotist called in to try to see the murderer through the boy’s eyes. The book ties unexpected yet expertly woven threads of the hypnotist’s past and his family as well as the shocking secrets of the murdered family and the surviving boy. Overseen by charismatic lead detective Joona Linna, the action hurtles to its crazy climax with a tight, fast plot, excellent characters, and many twists and turns. Warning – it contains distressing elements of child abuse and murder, as well as incest, so probably not for everyone.

I read one other mystery this month, The Searcher by Tana French. I’ll start by saying that I love Tana French and normally I can’t put her books down. This one, however, was disappointing. The writing was solid and engaging, and I liked the main character, Cal Hooper, a retired American detective who has pulled up stakes in Chicago and moved to a small village in rural Ireland. His life is absorbed in renovating his dilapidated house and brooding about his broken family until a local boy shows up for help in finding his missing brother. Unfortunately, I just could not get engaged with the kid or the plot. I enjoyed French’s Dublin Murder Squad mysteries as well as Witch Elm but sadly this one just didn’t click for me.

My last read is a divergence but very enjoyable if you are a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, is the first manuscript that Wilder set down about her childhood and family. If you thought you knew anything about the Ingalls family from reading the Little House books, you will find that the true story is very different. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, a writer herself, collaborated heavily on the juvenile series, changing the history of the family and blending and creating characters that would appeal to children. This book is the real, adult telling of their journeys – it’s an absolute treasure trove of photographs, journal entries from both Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, and includes amazing details about their creative partnership to bring the series to life. It also discusses with clarity the more troubling aspects of the juvenile series, and thoughtfully discusses the racism in the original books (heavily rooted in concepts of Manifest Destiny, their view of Native Americans as less than human, and yet also very evident in other scenes – remember Pa’s participation in the ‘minstrel show’?) An all-around excellent and absorbing read.

That’s it! With my library reopened, I hope to do lots of good reading in February and I look forward to sharing at our next link-up. Until then, as Mr Williams, the school superintendent, said to Laura’s pupils at the Brewster School during his unexpected visit, in Chapter 9 of These Happy Golden Years, “Whatever else you do, keep your feet warm.

Life According to Steph

tgif – bizarre times in dreamland

Is anyone else having crazy dreams? My nocturnal ramblings have been very bizarre this week, from not being able to pack chaotic luggage to missed flights in Japan to being lost in technicolor Asian shopping malls to being tricked into ingesting Epsom salts at my grandparents’ house and having subsequent dream-within-a-dream hallucinations.

It might be the weather, which has taken a precipitous dive from somewhat mild to sleet, snow, and deep freeze temps for this weekend. We are overdue for some real winter.

Those of you who follow me on IG know that I finally cast off on my Pink Memories sweater last weekend! I plan to block this weekend and have a knitting post next week. In the meantime, I’m noodling on some sock yarn mittens and pondering my next project.

Miss L got a major haircut this week, losing 9 inches from her red locks in the sweetest, sassiest bob. There is always something about a slim little back of the neck with a sharp edge that I love, probably because my hairline at the back of my neck is full of cowlicks and never looks clean like this.

It looks like Brandon’s furlough will soon be over as his company ramps back up. It will feel lonely around the house during the day without him. We each have our own daily routines and I’m in my home office most of the day, but we enjoy our lunch breaks together. He’s made the most of his break with skateboarding, writing, and doing extensive renovations and repainting in the house. But he’s eager to go back and you know, a little space in togetherness isn’t such a bad thing…

It never fails that either he or Miss L or one of the cats will come looking for me when I’m in the bathroom. Privacy!!!!!!

I hope everyone stays warm and cozy this weekend and has a great array of snacks for Super Bowl Sunday.