Well, the new domain is all set up – this is the first new post from littlegoldennotebook.com. All my old blog posts are here and I have plenty of room for more pages and more design control, so I’m quite happy with the whole thing at the moment. I just hope my followers followed me here!
The new theme/site design is all set, although I may make a few changes here and there I think it’s basically in its final-for-now form. All in all, setting everything up was relatively easy – now I just need to somehow deprecate the old blog, in part so I don’t get confused between the two; right now they look almost identical in WordPress, so I have to be extra careful that I’m making changes to the right site.
I’m currently all but done making a Seachange Sweater, designed by knit.love.wool aka Jennifer Steinglass. I really love her sweater designs; lucky for me (and you!) she’s having a sale for all of 2018 that if you buy two of her sweaters on Ravelry, you can choose a third for free! I chose Seachange, Starfall (my last project), and Sigrùn – I limited myself to sweaters with the same gauge I got using some windfall yarn I received.
Because the windfall yarn wasn’t exactly in full sweater quantities, I had to do some juggling with the colors in Seachange. The sweater is supposed to have three colors, but mine had to have four because I knew I wouldn’t have enough of the main color. I also knit the cuffs and hem with a contrasting color, not just the collar. Oh, and that main color started out life as a mustard, not green.
I’m not sure I like the final sweater; I really don’t like the brown and yellow in the yoke, but then I know that might just be me – some people do like those colors together. I like the contrasting cuff/hem/collar color, but I’m not so sure I like it in combination with everything else. Let’s face it – it’s the yellow that really bothers me: I’m not a big yellow fan. I took forever to finish the yoke and now that I just have the ends to weave in, hopefully I will breeze through that and move on to my next project, knitting some baby girl baby shower presents! I’m not sure I’m going to post about that much until after the baby shower on May 20, so I’m going to have to *gasp* possibly have more than one project in more than one craft going at once!
February went by in the blink of an eye and it feels like the Ides of March & St. Patrick’s Day 2018 will quickly be a thing of the past while I carry on privately writing, knitting, and doing other crafty things. I suppose I’m starting to come out of some kind of hibernation now that the days are getting longer again; I’ve started doing things that I’ve been putting off for a long time, like:
Submitting poems and a short story to Narrative magazine, which of course I’m anxious about, thinking “I submitted it ___ ago! Why haven’t they gotten back to me yet?” which started the day after I sent the email, of course. Also, I haven’t been writing the last few weeks, but I have a plan to start again.
I cleaned out my yarn stash for the first time ever and am handing off bits and bobs to a local knitter in another knitting group. The oldest yarn in there I bought in NYC in 2000 or 2002 – if I haven’t knit that Dale of Norway Baby Ull by now, I don’t think I’m going to, so it’s best to send it on its way to fulfill its destiny.
Updating my Ravelry stash pages. The yarn clean-out was spurred by two of my knitting friends giving me yarn, spinning fiber, and a stack of fair isle books they inherited, so there was a lot of updating I needed to do.
Adding handspun yarn to The Yarn Office: a set of handspun naturally dyed cormo that I’m incredibly proud of, some sunset-colored yarn that was fun to spin but so not my color, and some natural brown wool that I’m not quite sure what to do with. In looking at my handspun, I also realized that I really prefer making 3 ply yarns for some reason.
My knitting has been focused on using yarn that I got from my friend Lisa, who received almost the whole stash of a friend she met on Ravelry. Unfortunately for this friend, she can no longer knit (I hope that day never comes for me) and knew that Lisa would appreciate her colorwork-focused stash and library. Lisa was overwhelmed and so I happily stepped in to help take some of the yarn off her hands, starting with enough Sandness Garn Peer Gynt to make 2 sweaters. I’ve long admired Knit.Love.Wool on Instagram, and found that she (Jennifer Steinglass) not only has patterns that I got gauge for with Peer Gynt, but that for all of 2018 she’s having a buy 2 patterns get 1 free sale on Ravelry (info on her designer page). I just finished Starfall and started on Seachange.
I need to catch up with a lot of the blogs I follow (sorry friends!) – I’ve been reading The Internet and books instead of blogs lately. I’m currently reading the second book in a really fascinating trilogy by N. K. Jemison, The Broken Earth series. Before this, I read Octavia E. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood, which is also a trilogy that I really enjoyed. I find myself longing for female heroes and the female perspective and although both of these are sci-fi/fantasy, they deliver and they deliver on being diverse (another thing I’ve been craving) since both authors are African American. I’m also working my way through The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World. Yes! Those Amazons! They were real! This book is a bit more scholarly and so not the most compelling read, but it’s still really fascinating.
Oh! I almost forgot! I started another Instagram account, LittleGoldenNotebook, for inspirational quotes. I know, that sounds cheesy and probably like tons of other “inspirational quotes” quote account all over the interwebs. But these were all selected by me (and all have authors, which was important to me) to help me get through tough times right after I was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. I collected them and printed them on 3×5 cards to help a dear friend going through a rough patch, shared them with another friend, and then decided I should just share them with Everyone In The World. Here’s the quote for today, International Women’s Day:
Note that this is probably the most feminist quote I’ve posted to the account, though I sort of modify this in my head to apply to humans in general, you know? How can I really be free when anyone is enslaved or doesn’t have full human rights? I’m guessing Audre Lorde would agree with that, but women – especially minority women – have been long neglected and that’s more what she was driving at (though I’m not Audre Lorde or intersectional feminism scholar by any means). Anyway. I’m doing that too and would love to have more company!
A few years ago, I started introducing one of my best friends, Suzi, to Miyazaki movies. She had seen Kiki’s Delivery Service, but only that one movie. We started with Howl’s Moving Castle and she fell in love with Calcifer, the fire demon who keeps the castle moving, among other things. As we worked our way through other movies and other cute Miyazaki characters, Calcifer remained Suzi’s favorite.
For Christmas this year, I almost got Suzi a plush Calcifer at a store in the mall, but the plush was spendy for what it was and I knew I could do better. I checked Ravelry for patterns and found this one by Sally Marshall. Now, I’m not so great with intarsia or at least not very confident in my skills, so buying the pattern and attempting this was a bit risky. But the project is small enough that it wouldn’t be frustrating if I failed and I figured I could probably cover up any mistakes with double stitching.
I also decided that angora would be perfect for this project. Calcifer would look a bit more fire-like if he was fuzzy and angora would help me with intarsia because it’s pretty sticky. I could have tried mohair, but angora is so much softer, IMO. Plymouth has the only 100% angora yarn in a suitable weight, but the range of colors didn’t include a suitable orange or yellow. The red would probably work though.
I ordered 1 skein of red and 2 skeins of white angora along with some Jacquard Acid dyes and waited by my mailbox (not really, but that’s what it felt like). When the yarn arrived, I wound both skeins of white into hanks on my niddy noddy for dying and started with orange, Jacquard color 606 Deep Orange. I tried to do the requisite math to reduce the dye recipe from 16 oz down to 10 g, but definitely overestimated. That turned out to be a good thing – the resulting color was almost neon, deeply saturated and almost more red than the commercially dyed red, which now looked pink in comparison.
I used some washed fleece to exhaust the dye bath, which I lated combed and used as stuffing for the plush. This is just one lock; I dyed close to a pound of washed fleece. I’m estimating; I didn’t actually weigh it out, just added more water to the dye pot and stuffed in what I could to sop up the dye. I did that with the other dye baths as well; eventually I’m going to use the wool to make some rolags that look like fire, so keep an eye out here for a post about that.
I proceeded to dye yellow yarn (Jaquard 602 Bright Yellow) and then thought I’d try overdyeing the commercial red with a red I had on hand – Jacquard 611 Vermillion. Vermillion ended up being much to dark and a bit too maroon to work for Calcifer. I ordered more yarn and more dye, Jaquard 618 Fired Red. A week or so later, I had dye success. Below is the full color range of angora I dyed.
By this time, I knew I wouldn’t have Calcifer done in time for Christmas, which is not a big deal; last year Suzi and I exchanged gifts in January.
The pattern is knit in flat pieces starting with a garter stitch base. Instead of knitting the front and back separately and seaming them to the base, I picked up stitches along the base and knit them attached that way.
I didn’t think I would use the Vermillion-dyed yarn at all, but it ended up being perfect for the French knots that are Calcifer’s pupils. The intarsia was challenging and it’s not 100% perfect – some of the stitches are uneven, some are pulled too tight – but I used a needle to even some stitches out manually and double stitched others while weaving in the ends to cover up the glaring holes.
I thought making the back look like the front but without the eyeballs, but I was anxious to finish him and I didn’t want more intarsia & noodling out the pattern to slow me down. Maybe I’ll make another where the back echoes the front colors.
Suzi and I met for milkshakes (our thing) last Friday and I gave her Calcifer, along with a Clapotis I made for her (it will always match her hair, which she colors frequently), so I feel like I can finally post about it without potentially spoiling the surprise. She’s thrilled! She says that he is “The softest fire I’ve ever touched!” Mission accomplished!
Happy New Year! don’t know exactly what’s coming down the pike in 2018 – it’ll be a surprise for us all – but I hope it’s good or that, at least, we can find the good in it.
I tend to not set annual goals; instead I set small goals as needed through the year. However, thanks to a windfall, I want to knit more fair isle and stranded color work in 2018.
The windfall came about through my good friend Lisa (rabbitsmile on Ravelry), who has a friend facing not being able to knit anymore. Initially the friend carefully went through her stash, sending Lisa only the things she knew she could use, but I think as this friend-of-a-friend went through her stash (and her tools and her library) she got overwhelmed. She mailed Lisa a box of books (think of the expense!) that included books that Lisa already had, so she offered them to me. Meg Swanson, Alice Starmore, two books from Jamiesons on Fair Isle, and more – the beginnings of a solid Fair Isle library. This friend also boxed up her remaining stash – 5 or 6 big boxes – and sent it to Lisa, including bits and bobs and unfinished projects that Lisa now feels compelled to finish. So Lisa has offered, encouraged, and begged me to come shop this stash because she’s overwhelmed by it all. So in doing more Fair Isle, I’ll have fun (I love stranded knitting – knitting it is addictive) but also help out a friend and honor a knitter who can’t knit anymore.
First up, I hope, is this sweater, the Turka Ocean designed by Natela Astakhova/Natela Datura (her business name? maiden name? I’m not sure). I wish I could figure out how to get an image from Instagram to display properly, but I’ve never gotten it to work, even with my own account, so you’ll just have to click through to see how gorgeous it is. Anyway, Natela is in Moscow and her site is primarily in Russian. She only has 2 designs available for purchase on Ravelry; the rest of her designs – she designed some really gorgeous colorwork sweaters – are available in Russian from her site. I just realized the email from her with the download link went into my Spam folder but that I have it – Happy New Year to me! I know what I’ll be reading as soon as I finish this post!
I do have other goals, but they are short-term goals for the month of January, not annual goals. I’m starting #spin15aday today, which is (I think?) an annual thing, but I’m starting out with the hope/expectation that I can spin for 15 minutes every day in the month of January. I still have lots of fiber that I bought leading up to Spinzilla that I really want to spin, and I dyed some of my own hand-prepared fleece during my end of year quiet time that I’m excited to use to make rolags.
I’m also starting the #wespinyarn challenge run by Three Waters Farm and @knittingsarah on Instagram. It’s a series of prompts, one for each day in January. I hope to become more aware of the spinning community on Instagram and meet some new people.
Last, for January, is a writing challenge run by Nadia of Cottage Notebook, who I also met on Instagram. I haven’t decided yet how much of my writing from this I’ll be sharing here, but I realized during my silent end of the year period that I do need to write, that if I don’t write I’m wasting one of my talents, and that I don’t necessarily have to have some end game goal in mind (like this blog or a contest or being published) for it to be meaningful: it means something to me and that has to be enough.
I really do hope 2018 is a good year for you all. Thank you for all your comments and encouragement in 2017; I hope you’ll stick around and that we can find out way through the next year on some fibery adventures (and maybe some more personal stuff too) together. ❤
Hi friends! It’s been a while. After Spinzilla my will to blog – or do anything with any regularity – kind of disappeared. After some reflection, I don’t think my posts are working as well for me as they once were, though I may change my mind about that and go back to the schedule I set last February, which I was pretty consistent with until October/November.
Looking over my posts from last year, I entirely forgot that I did National Poetry Writing Month in April. Though I started a few days late, I made those days up in May so I’m patting myself on the back for that accomplishment. I was going to submit some of them to a contest run by Narrative Magazine, but then never actually got around to it. Maybe in 2018 I’ll do something with them.
As far as knitting projects go, I finished:
3 hats, including a pussy hat
2 sweaters (A Bohus sweater kit & a cabled sweater – I’ve been wearing one or the other daily now that the weather is cold)
A sleeveless summer top (which I wore all summer long)
3 pairs of mitts or mittens (2 pairs for a friend’s baby, 1 for Lola the kitten)
1 scarf for Lola (every kitten needs a scarf, right?)
I blogged relatively consistently from February – October.
I continued to keep my toe in the tech writing waters by editing presentations, project plans, business communications, and other miscellaneous project documents on demand.
In personal news:
I feel like I had my best year mood-wise in a long time. I took all my meds, saw my therapist about once every 2 months or so, psychiatrist quarterly. I also made an appointment for & went to a checkup with my GP. (However, I should have made an appointment later in the year because my BP started creeping up despite meds. Next year.)
I kept my family alive, again. So far my record for this is A+, 100%.
Ethan graduated from high school and started college at JMU. The transition was difficult because of some drama that exploded in August, but he has adjusted and is doing well.
Brandon started his sophomore year at WVU and, since really breaking up with his girlfriend who goes to VA Tech, is finally settling in and making more friends and doing what college kids do (party, but not too much). He barely passed Calculous 2, but is now done with Calc forever.
Henry finished 7th grade, went with Ethan on a big trip to S. Korea on their own for 2 weeks, and when he came home, his voice dropped – his hormones have come in. He’s grown at least 3″ and his feet are now bigger than mine. He’s in 8th grade, made Honor Roll, and is on the leadership team at tae kwon do, which means he’s helping to teach classes and has cleanup duties.
My husband is a contractor; he was commuting to Denver during the week, flying home every weekend. That particular contract ended at the end of June and he’s been looking for a new one since then. He’s an IT Consultant with a lot of experience in telecommunications and the healthcare industry – here he is on Linked In if you’re curious/interested. He has a lot of irons in the fire, but none of them have led to his next gig. Hopefully next month something will turn up!
We lost Moose, our retriever mix that was a rescue that we rescued from Florida. And we gained Lola, a black polydactyl kitten born in early September. She has an extra toe on all 4 feet and has brought a lot of positive energy to the house.
We rearranged our family room, which involved some construction, but it has opened the room up and given us more floor space. Sitting on the couch gives you a view out the windows now instead of walls, which I love.
Edited on 1/1/18 to add that I started tae kwon do in February and just earned my light blue belt, which is halfway through the belts to get to black belt.
If all goes as planned, I’ll post tomorrow with some goals and plans for 2018.
Walk instead of going back to bed after I finish my morning coffee. Done for today – I took Lil for a walk on the W&OD trail (a rail trail) that runs through my neighborhood and all the way into DC.
Done. Lil and I have walked every day since last Monday. Somedays have just been around the block, and twice so long that I broke her and had to carry her part of the way back; I won’t do that this week, I’ve promised her.
Start a new embroidery or new spinning project.
Started, made progress, and ruined. But I have a similar, better idea for the next one.
Write a post about Spinzilla.
Nope. But I did change the poem on my refrigerator to e. e. cummings [hist whist].
And, unexpectedly, I found the perfect kitten while browsing Petfinder, which replaced my Twitter feed for a while. I convinced my husband, with some wise words from my 13 year old who said “Dad, just give in; you can’t win an argument with Mom!” and I filled out the adoption application for this guy, who’s current name is Spider.
Carry on with walking every day, but not so much that I break Lil and have to carry her.
Go to TKD twice.
Carry on knitting (S)urge, the new shawl and read Brazzaville Beach while doing it.
Start another new embroidery project using lessons learned from the scissor catastrophe.
Spinzilla. I’m going to write about it as soon as I post this.
Spider-kitten: wait patiently. My contact at the rescue is out of town until Wednesday.
Saturday we’re going to Morgantown for my oldest’s birthday. I think there will be hiking and cake. And lots of car knitting.
So last week I flaked out on everything and spent a good part of the week in bed, either reading (I finished a bad steampunk novel and started The Essex Serpent) or sleeping. Spinzilla was fun but, as usual, I went all-in and by Saturday was ready for it to be over. My hip flexors hurt from sitting and spinning so much and I fought with the last braid I spun late Saturday and Sunday. I’ll definitely do it again, but with better and strategic planning, now that I know what to expect.
I also happen to be in between creative projects; I’m knitting a shawl, but I’m not over the moon excited about it, and I’m not embroidering anything right now. I also have started to doubt my validity and long term plan, which I’ve managed to do in record time. Am I really an artist? Is that something I can really spend the rest of my time doing? Or am I just another person with needles and knitting patterns? I just need to do some more soul searching and long term planning, or, you know, actually execute my long term plan.
I saw my therapist on Friday and she noticed that my affect is pretty flat, so seasonal changes in the light might already be affecting me. I may need a medication adjustment, which annoys me because I didn’t need one last year, so why should I need one this year? I’m even taking vitamins this year to help keep things under control. I wish there was a blood test or something similar that I could take – just like my husband testing his blood sugar level – to determine exactly what I need instead of this touchy feely stabbing in the dark stuff.
On to planning!
The week before last week:
It was fun, despite me having no sense of pace or self-control. I’ll definitely do it again and recommend it!
Walk instead of going back to bed after I finish my morning coffee. Done for today – I took Lil for a walk on the W&OD trail (a rail trail) that runs through my neighborhood and all the way into DC.
Go to TKD twice.
Carry on knitting (S)urge, the new shawl and read The Essex Serpent while doing it.