Yarn Along – Pain Free Back, and Hat Decreases

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.

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Well, I got the last Mary Russell book out of the library yesterday (The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R King)…and read it all in one night. I stayed up very, very late. Surprisingly I haven’t felt many effects of the late night today. Apparently I can function fine on one night of minimal sleep, although I know from experience more than one will backfire spectacularly. When not staying up into the wee hours reading mystery novels, I started reading Esther Gokhale’s 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back. My Dad recommended it years ago and I finally decided to give it a try. Every year I have more and more discomfort in my lower back, wrist and fingers, and it’s definitely correlated with increased time sitting at a computer. I’m hoping that improving my posture will slow, and ideally reverse, this steady decline. I haven’t tried any of the exercises yet, but just reading the introduction has made me more aware of my own posture and the posture of people around me. It will be interesting to see if the exercises cause any noticeable, long-term improvement.

I’m motoring along on my Christian’s Hat, and I love how it’s turning out. I haven’t decided what to do with it yet, though. It isn’t really my colour, so I’m wavering between hanging on to it until I find the right person to gift it to, or just donating it right away. Unfortunately there is still about a third of the ball left, and I decided not to do a pom-pom so I’ll have to find some other way to use up the rest of the skein. I’m already thinking about what project to cast on next. A few of the patterns I saw knit up at the Ottawa Knitting Guild meeting on Monday night have given me some ideas. Maybe it’s finally time to break into the haul from my Maritimes road trip last fall…

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Yarn Along – Big Maps, and More Spiral Hat

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.

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I’ve been devouring the Mary Russell Mystery series at a rate of about one book every 1-2 days, which means I’m not getting much else done. Luckily there is only one book left in the series, and it is currently unavailable at my library. I’m being saved from my own obsession by the library hold queue! Which is good, since apparently willpower alone isn’t enough to keep me from these books. While I wait for that last book, I’ve gone back to my to-read pile to tackle the largest book on my shelves: New Worlds: Maps from the Age of Discovery. It doesn’t contain a lot of actual text, mostly just the big maps. I love old maps, and I’m enjoying paging through them. The book is so large it doesn’t fit on my bookshelves, so I think I’ll be passing it on when I’m done.

I’m continuing with my Christian’s Hat. It isn’t really great social knitting, since the stitch pattern requires a bit of counting, but I’m managing to catch my mistakes as I go. It looks like there will be some yarn leftover when the hat is done, which I’ll probably  make into a pom pom. The stitch pattern creates a springy and warm fabric, which is perfect for this equally springy yarn. A good combination 🙂

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Yarn Along – Canadian Quilts, and a New Hat

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.

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I’m still making my way through the Mary Russell Mystery series, and while I’m enjoying this extended fiction binge it has unfortunately displaced any non-fiction reading for several weeks. I haven’t actually started Quilts and Other Bed Coverings in the Canadian Tradition, by Ruth McKendry, having only picked it up from the library last night, but I need to find time to dive into it soon. The Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild, of which I am a member, is having its biennial Quilt Show in May, and I have promised to do a write-up for the display on the history of Canadian Quilts. 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday, and this display is just one way that OVQG is getting in on the celebration. This book was the one of only two books on Canadian quilting history at the library, and the other one is a reference book that can’t be checked out. My plan is to start with the book and build on it with information from the Internet. That way I can be relatively confident that I have a solid basis in fact before getting overwhelmed by all the information available online.

I found myself with only one project in progress (a pair of vanilla socks) a few days ago, so that meant it was time to cast on something new. I chose one of the skeins from my Scotland trip that didn’t fit in the colour scheme of the Garter Squish pillow cover and cast on a Christian’s Hat to fill the void. The skein is fairly large so I knit a very long brim, and now I’m just hoping I won’t run out of yarn a few inches short of the end. That would be maddening. The colour variegation in the skein has resolved into a faint spiral effect in the brim, which you can just see in the photo. The pattern is simple, just what I’m looking for right now. I’m saving all my “brain intensive” knitting time for finishing existing WIPs, so it is simple knits for now and the foreseeable future.

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Yarn Along – Garter Squish is Knit, and a Return to Alternative Regency

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.

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As you can see, I’ve finished the knitting on the Garter Squish pillow cover. It took every skein of undyed yarn in the approximately correct yarn weight to do it, but in the end it came out just the right size. The finished rectangle is now about twice as long as it is wide, which should give me a nice square pillow. All of the yarns in this pillow cover were souvenirs that I bought while travelling, and all but one came from my 2012 backpacking trip to Scotland. Of the coloured yarns, the pink is organically-dyed Shetland wool from the Shetland Textile Museum in Lerwick, the blue is a Green Mountain Spinnery wool/mohair blend that I bought on a snowboard trip in Vermont, and the green is a cashmere/angora/wool blend from The Yarn Cake in Glasgow. The variegated black-and-white undyed wool came from a farmer’s market near Edinburgh Castle. The two solid undyed yarns were both purchased in Orkney; the darker yarn is Shetland wool spun at the New Lanark Mills Heritage Site (which I also visited later in the trip), and the lighter is North Ronaldsey yarn that I bought at the post office on North Ronaldsey. My trip to North Ronaldsey was probably the highlight of my trip. I took a ferry and a tiny plane to get to that northernmost island of Orkney just to visit the seaweed-eating North Ronaldsey sheep, which live nowhere else in the world. It was a crazy thing to do, and just the kind of whimsical, spur-of-the-moment side adventure that made that backpacking trip so much fun.

I’m taking a break from the Mary Russell Mystery series and going back to the sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, The Grand Tour:Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greatest Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Noblewoman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality. I absolutely love that title. While not quite as compelling as the first book in the series, I do enjoy the alternative history Regency period (it’s basically Jane Austen + magic) and the characters these two authors have created. I’m almost through this book and will likely pick up the final book in the trilogy as soon as I’m done. This has really been quite the month for me and historical/mystery novels.

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Yarn Along – Garter Squish Continues, and Mysteries Abound

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.

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I joined the Shilasdair yarn to my Garter Squish pillow cover and it is coming along nicely. The bamboo needles I’m using are getting a little stained from the indigo dye but its a manageable amount. This is going to end up a rather large, possibly not-quite-square pillow. I now wish I’d cast on fewer stitches initially, but I’m too far into it to rip the whole thing back. I may have to put it on hold until I come up with enough yarn to finish it. We’ll see how far I get with the current yarn pairing.

After finishing my one “backlog” book for the month I went on a fiction binge. I’ve burned through 8 novels so far this month, all set in England. 4 of the novels are from Laurie R King’s Mary Russell Mystery series, which I absolutely love. I have them all as e-books which makes it even easier to read whenever and wherever. I might have stayed up far too late several times this week because I just couldn’t bring myself to put the book down. I’ve also picked up another old favourite, Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, a fun alternative-history Regency novel written as a series of letters between two young women. To top it all off the next Seaside Knitters Mystery, A Finely Knit Murder by Sally Goldenbaum, just arrived from the library. Usually this amount of binge reading is a sign I’m avoiding some uncomfortable emotion, so I’m going to have to take some time for reflection soon and figure out what’s going on. Until then, I’m enjoying the ride.

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Yarn Along – New Yarn for Garter Squish, and Victorian Secrets

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.

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Once I frogged the purple and blue variegated yarn I had knit into my Garter Squish pillow cover, I had to choose a yarn to replace it. I finally settled on this beautiful, slightly mottled Shilasdair Luxury DK that I picked up in Glasgow on my backpacking trip. It fits into the “travel memories” theme of the pillow and the colour complements the yarns I’ve already used. Unfortunately, the yarn is over-dyed with indigo and I don’t think the colour set quite right, because it had an odd texture and the colour came off in my hands when I tried to wind it into a ball. I googled around a bit and decided to try washing the skein with wool-wash and then letting it soak in vinegar. My hope was that the extra dye would either wash out or “set” the rest of the way. So far the results have been promising. The yarn felted slightly with all that swooshing around in hot water, but it still wound up into a ball with minimal issues and no colour bleeding. Hopefully I’ll be able to join it to the pillow cover in the next couple of days. My goal is to knit up two stash lots by the end of the month and finishing the pillow cover would just about do it!

I received Victorian Secrets, by Sarah A. Chrisman, as a Christmas present in 2015. I started the book back then, but got detoured into background reading on corsets and then never came back to it. I made reasonable progress on my “books to read” backlog last year and I’m determined to make a significant dent this year. Victorian Secrets was the most appealing book on that shelf, so last week I picked it up and started over from the beginning. Chrisman is an aficionado of all things Victorian and her husband gave her a corset for her birthday so she could properly wear the antique and reproduction dresses she loved. The book is a fascinating account of how Chrisman’s body, especially her posture, and her life changed when she started wearing a corset. Reading her account made me very conscious of my own poor posture! It is sometimes startling how much historical knowledge can be gained simply by experiencing the items and clothing of another period as its people did, and Chrisman’s experience is a wonderful example of that truth. The one flaw in the book is Chrisman’s occasional harsh, even judgmental tone when describing some of the less polite people she has run into while wearing her corset. It can be a bit off-putting, and it’s the reason I put down the book on my first attempt. Still, the book is interesting enough that it’s worth powering through to the end, and I’m glad I did.

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Yarn Along – Miles of Garter Squish, and Taproot Share

Every Wednesday I participate in “Yarn Along”, a link-up run by Ginny over at Small Things where we share what we are knitting and reading this week. You can click the Yarn Along image at the end of this post to see the whole link-up. You can also find Yarn Along photos on Instagram (#yarnalong) and Flickr.

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I’m blown away by how quickly this Garter Squish pillow is knitting up, and by how fast it is absorbing yarn! Most of my knitting projects use fingering weight using 3-4mm needles at the largest, and those pieces grow at a much slower rate. These two strands of worsted on 9mm needles are practically knitting themselves. Despite this, I’ve had a few moments of uncertainty with this project. It is taking more yarn than I expected, and I’m having unusually strong feelings about how some of the colours look next to each other. The original plan was to use only yarn I had bought on my backpacking trip to Scotland, but that would have meant creating a very scrappy-looking pillow. I want to be able to love and use this pillow more than I want to use up the yarn, so I’m letting go of the yarn restriction and combing my stash for yarn of the appropriate weight and colour. The only remaining issue is whether I have enough neutral yarn to get the length I need. If not, I may have to consider ripping the whole thing out and re-knitting it to a smaller width. I may decide to do that, if that is what it takes to get a pillow cover I will actually like and use. For now, I’m pushing forward with the yarn I have.

The newest issue of Taproot (Share) arrived in December, but I didn’t get a chance to start reading until after Christmas. It seems to have be written to be read before the holidays, so I wish I’d started it sooner. Maybe I can skim through it again next December to get that holiday feeling again. I’m really enjoying the theme of this issue. There is a set of cross-stitch patterns that makes me want to cast aside my current projects and head to the store for Aida cloth and embroidery floss, regardless of the season. I’m holding myself back (for now). This brings my number of Taproot issues in various stages of completion to three, not exactly where I want it to be. Time to buckle down and finish them before the next issue arrives!

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