Year of Projects

Knitting

I cut the armhole steeks, seamed the shoulders, and I’m now on the sleeves of Arrowhead! I’ve decided to knit them two-at-a-time to make the colorwork a little easier. It will keep the chart fresh in my mind, and won’t be like starting over from scratch on the second sleeve. This is definitely a product knit for me, and I’m looking forward to finishing it.

I’m nearly to the toe on the second Merry Krampus sock. Maybe I’ll have a sock it to me Monday finished object tomorrow?

Sewing

Joann Fabrics was having a big sale, and I picked up this springy cotton flannel for $2.99 a yard. I’m always running out of flannel PJ pants in the winter, and decided to sew another pair. Sometimes you can save money sewing your own!

Baking

Someone recommended I try making gluten-free sourdough snickerdoodles. They are delicious! I cobbled together a recipe, but it’s easy to find one online. I’m not a big snickerdoodle fan, so next time I might try gluten-free sourdough chocolate chip cookies instead.

Reading

I’m nearing the end of Barkskins. This means I can check off my book for the month, although I might also finish Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels. My bedside stack is still growing. I’ve promised myself to only blog about books that I’ve read recently, as my memory has proved fallible. These are my go-to titles right now.

Gardening

I sketched a garden plan. It looks so neat and tidy on paper, but I know it will be a jungle anyway. It’s supposed to be nice this week, so I may start weeding and plant some greens under the little greenhouse.

This has been a Year of Projects update. You can read my updated project list at this link. You can find out more about the group on Ravelry.

All the Reads

I finished Midwinter of the Spirit, book number 2 in Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series. I described these to a friend as, “Vicar of Dibley meets Wicker Man.” I’ve heard them called Folk Horror and Paranormal Cozies. I enjoy these books so much, I wanted to move right on to the next book in the series. Then I looked at the stack of books on my nightstand and decided to try to finish a few others first.

I’m really enjoying Adrienne Dillard’s second book, “Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels.” I’m taking it one chapter a day. I’m particularly appreciative of her treatment of Queen Jane Seymour. Let’s face it, usually you love her or you hate her. This author really fleshes her out as intelligent, cautious, and dissembling. Who wouldn’t be in her situation?

I’ve started listening to Barkskins on audiobook, by Annie Proulx. This is the result of a rabbit hole I went down, starting with an episode of Not Just the Tudors about a demonic possession in New France (French Canada). I became fascinated with colonial Quebec and started searching, and ended up on Barkskins. I’ve also finished watching the series on Apple TV.

I haven’t made much progress on Threads of Life. I’m hoping to pick it back up.

I’ve started watching Mayfair Witches, and am thinking about rereading the first book. I wasn’t a huge fan when I read it the first time, but maybe my maturity will improve it for me.

I’ve also got Batavia: The Night Ship on reserve at the library. The author was recently interviewed on Not Just the Tudors, and I thought it sounded like something I would enjoy. I get a lot of book recommendations from the podcasts I listen to!

We had a big snow yesterday! Bob came into my craft office (that’s what I’ve decided to call it) and asked me if I wanted to go sledding? Yes, thank you very much. I would love that. We weren’t able to sled as our hills aren’t steep enough, so we built a snowman instead.

It’s on Random: 6 Miscellaneous Goals for 2023

1. Continue Bullet Journaling

I started bullet journaling in October, and it has made a huge difference in my anxiety. If I write everything down, I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. It also helps me organize my thoughts and activities by topic. This morning, I set up my January pages while listening to Not Just the Tudors: Birth of the Gregorian Calendar.

2. Try Brioche Stitch

This is one knitting stitch I’ve never tried, and I would like to learn it. I’m thinking brioche socks.

3. Knit Myself some Slippers

I’ve been wanting to do this for a few years. My last attempt was unsuccessful. Here is a list of the patterns I’m considering:

4. Read 1 Book each Month

It may seem like I’m lowballing, but I rarely slow down enough to read. And if I stay up watching movies, there’s no way I’ll get my bedtime reading in. So that’s my plan: go to bed weeknights in time to get at least one chapter read. Right now I’m reading: Keeper of the Queen’s Jewels, Midwinter of the Spirit, and Threads of Life.

5. Bake More

I’m doing well on sourdough scones, flat bread, and pizza dough. Above is my latest scone: cinnamon and crystallized ginger. But I’d like to bake more cakes and pies. So that’s my goal. One per month, I think.

6. Garden Plans

I’ve got my seeds, and this year I’m planning to grow a kimchi garden for Bob, as he makes really great kimchi. There will also be vegetables and herbs of course, but no new dye plants. Whatever survives. I’ll probably draw a schematic in my journal and share it. I’ve also got a galvanized shelf that I think will be perfect to hold seedlings in the south facing bay window. If only I knew someone who could send me a rooting of pondweed for my little frog pond. Any takers?

Thorsday Three: Dread Full Media (in the Best Way)

Book: The Dark Queens

My sister recommended this, and it hasn’t disappointed. I’m near the end and want these proto-Machiavellians to repent, especially Fredegund. Absolutely horrible, but fascinating. It’s nonfiction, but written in a fun and engaging way. I was surprised how many Frankish documents from the sixth century survive, which are the sources for this epic work.

Film: She Will

I have loved Alice Krige since Ghost Story and will watch her in anything. Even so, I found this film bewitching — a fanciful tale superbly done, dark, mysterious, and cathartic. And how refreshing to see a wonderful actress aging naturally and playing a choice role. I felt very satisfied.

Podcast: English Heritage Episode 184, Bram Stoker’s Dracula

I don’t normally listen to this podcast, but the topic of this episode piqued my interest. It includes a history of the locations where the novel is set, a bit about the origin of the work, as well as a brief history of vampires and revenants in general. I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of the first nonfiction book I read about vampires in my teens, which was essentially coverage of 17th and 18th century court cases. I couldn’t find this episode on their website, so linked to a public service where you can listen in a browser. However, you can find this on Apple, Spotify, et al.

Side note: have you watched Dracula on Netflix? Claes Bang and Dolly Wells are delicious! The dialogue is smart and funny.

Media of the Week

Book

Why yes, I have been reading, believe it or not. I picked up “Ladies-in-Waiting: Women Who Served Anne Boleyn” by Sylvia Barbara Soberton last week. It’s nonfiction. I’m enjoying it. I’m learning new things! I heard about it on one of the two Tudor podcasts I’ve mentioned before. I think I’m going to give up on fiction books for now, unless it’s something epic.

Series

Los Espookys is back with a new season! I wish we had rewatched season one before we watched the first episode of season two, but we’ve already watched season one twice. I’m just glad it’s back. Bip bip.

Movie

A+ to “All About Evil” for using a knitting needle as an implement of death with actual knitting attached! This film started a little flat, and we were concerned we weren’t going to get through it. But Bob and I both love Natasha Lyonne, so we hung in there. And boy, am I glad we did! It got weirder and weirder — so slowly it was almost imperceptible until it smacked you in the face. At one point I announced, “I officially love this movie!” Jack Donner was a creepy delight. Natasha Lyonne’s progression into stereotypical Hollywood starlet made me cackle. Thomas Dekker playing it straight kept it all real enough. Cassandra Peterson because Elvira. If you love weird horror, you’ll like it. Hang in there!

Cranky and Caffeineless

With headings, so you can skip the things that don’t interest you.

My Bowels

My combo endoscopy and colonoscopy is done. They found two polyps (off for biopsies), diverticulitis, and an ulcer at the base of my esophagus. They are also testing for a history of Celiac, which is funny because my gastroenterologist told me to stop eating gluten several years ago, and I did. Overall, nothing to worry about, except that my brain needs some kind of stimulant and I am not allowed caffeine. I’ll try regular exercise and see how that goes before resorting to meds.

Crafty Stuff

I’m eco printing more of the Virginia cotton fabric today with black walnut leaves in iron mordant. My goal is black leaves on white for winter project bags for the shop. The mordant left red marks, so we’ll see how this turns out.

Movies… and Fiber Arts

I’m starting to notice knitting needles being used as murder tools in horror movies. Mostly, they are used by women against their attackers. As you can imagine, this makes my little knitting horror heart giddy with glee. Except when they attach a piece of crochet to the knitting needle!

If you are making a movie using a fiber arts tool as a weapon of destruction, but don’t know the difference between knitting and crochet, just stick the knitting needle in a ball of yarn! Or, ask someone who does know. Your mom might know. Let’s keep my suspension of disbelief alive.

Books and Tudors

Why do most works of historical fiction turn into romance novels? I suspect one of the reasons for my fascination with the Tudor period is because it was horrific: beheadings, burnings, plagues, politics. It was dark. I’m sure there may have been some people who fell in love, but had to marry someone else because it was arranged, then fell in love with that person, had lots of babies, most of whom survived, and lived happily ever after. My point is, I don’t read historical fiction because I’m looking for a love story. This honestly is not about any book in particular but more about my personal experience with the genre. Maybe I should stick to nonfiction? I know I’m the outlier here.

You know what I loved? Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy. Damn, that was brutal — just like the times.

Speaking of Tudors, another podcast I like is Not Just the Tudors with Suzannah Lipscomb. Lots of Tudor history but also witches, werewolves, and the most recent episode I listened to was about a 16th Century executioner. It’s always fascinating. I learn something new every time I listen.

I got to hang out with my babies today. They are amazing humans.

I also had knitting nails done today in preparation for my trip to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.

My stepdaughter Sydney does them and she is just amazing. It was good to spend time with her catching up while getting my nails done.

I told Bob that without caffeine and alcohol (not allowed that either) and off meds, I’m going to get weirder and weirder. He said he’d strap in. He’s a keeper. Have a great week!

Week End Wrap Up

Hey y’all, antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are no joke. I napped every day this week. I craved bacon and potatoes. I’m still battling taste bud malfunction. I haven’t knit a stitch in days! Here’s what I did get up to.

I ordered a new hula hoop. This is a beginner hoop named Mystic Dragon. She’s being patient with me. I can keep her going for a few seconds. I’m following another over 50 hooper on Instagram. She’s slow and gentle with her movements. I am encouraged!

We went to the farmer’s market today and picked up the first apples of the season. Thank you Covid gods for leaving my apple taste buds intact.

Chestnut Hills Studio (that’s me) is having an end of summer sale! If these cotton and wool babies don’t go, I’ll be holding onto the three variegated and three of the tansy dyed to knit a summer Halvis next year.

I heard an interview with author Adrienne Dillard on Talking Tudors and decided I needed to order this book. Her next historical fiction about Jane Seymour and Margery Horsman is coming out in November. Having just finished watching Becoming Elizabeth, I was really in the mood for this. So far, so good! Other books have been swept aside in the wake of this one.

I sewed two new Tekura Tees. Ready for October! Who am I kidding. I will wear these year round.

Many people don’t like that corporations and probably the government are tracking all your online activity. I could care less. I’m not doing anything anyone could be interested in. Except when the Coastal Grandma alert goes off and a company I have never heard of mails a paper catalog to me of everything I want. This is how they get you. Look at this jacket! Unfortunately, everything in the catalog is over $150. Fortunately, I know how to sew.

I found a pattern on Etsy for $3! And I have fabric that will work. At first I was thinking the teal corduroy. Now I’m wondering if the wool plaid would be better. I purchased it for trousers but it has a soft hand. Either way, I’ll have to buy a lining fabric. Which one do you prefer? I’ll probably go with corduroy. I’m not sure about quilting this wool fabric from Heavens to Betsy via The Woolery. Although I could quilt along the tartan lines, so there’s that.

All the Knitalongs and Bloganuary

In addition to the Vertices Unite Knitalong (KAL), I’ve joined another shawl KAL! This one is run by Malabrigo, and I’ve signed up through Mass Ave Knit Shop. I was visiting Indianapolis this week for work, and of course I stopped by the yarn store! The yarn on the left is for the KAL: Arroyo in Marte, Cian, and Frank Ochre. The pattern is La Mondiola Wrap. I guess 2022 is going to be The Year of the Shawl for me.

The pink is Chunky in Hollyhock. I’ve been wanting to knit a Getting Warmer Cowl for myself, and this color stopped me in my tracks. I’ve knit one already for a silent auction item from merino I picked up in Kenya that I dyed vermillion red. I loved knitting it and trying it on, and wanted to make one for myself. I think this pink will look fantastic with my royal blue melton coat I’m going to sew!

The necklace in my photo is from Purlsmith. I love their sterling stitch marker jewelry. And right now I am really identifying with the rough freshwater pearl, feeling as though I’ve been through the wash a few times but still have some rough spots to smooth out. Although today I’m wearing a green agate stitch marker on my necklace, which I received in my Yuletide Mystery Box from November Woods Fiber Co. I can’t believe I never blogged about that. It was a lovely gift to myself in December, including indigo dyed green yarn and a handmade mug.

Did you know this month is Bloganuary? I’m getting a late start. Today’s prompt is to write about what year you would travel to — back in time — if you could. My answer is 1536: Tudor England. Henry VIII turns England upside down for Anne Boleyn, she is queen for three years, and then he has her beheaded. What the heck happened?! I have read and watched so many historic and fictional accounts, but none of them satisfy my curiosity. My latest acquisition is The Story of the Death of Anne Boleyn: A Poem by Lancelot de Carle. His poem is an eye witness account of the event in verse form written for the French king. The book is a translation with essays by Joann DellaNeva. The poem is not new, but a full version has been discovered that was suppressed in England because it’s pro-Anne. I guess Henry didn’t like that.

Ten for Tuesday: Project Peace

The Healthy Knitter posted on December 1 about Project Peace and her need to let go. The blog post touched me, and in the spirit of lighting my own candle from hers, I thought I would write about ten ways I can experience more peace.

  1. Start the day with knitting. Instead of spending most of my day thinking about how I can’t wait to knit at the end of the day, and then reaching the end of the day too tired to knit, I am going to try starting my day with a little knitting. I used to do this and I think it helps set the right tone for the day. And considering I spend a couple of hours in the morning staring at a screen while drinking my coffee, I think this is completely doable.
  2. Journal every day. This is another opportunity I have to make the most of my morning. It doesn’t have to be morning pages, it can be jotting a few lines in my journal, like this list!
  3. Go for a walk. I need to set the intention to go for a walk at least a few times per week. Walking down my country road is very peaceful. Once I start working it’s difficult for me to pull away from my desk, but I need to find a stopping point to do it when I can. It makes a big difference in my mental health.
  4. Real talk with friends. I am fortunate to have friends that I can be real with. I need to work on ways to incorporate this into my daily routine, even though we are far apart.
  5. Bake! Baking helps me slow down and savor the moment, so I’m going to try to make time for this on the weekends as a more regular thing, and not just a holiday thing.
  6. Listen to music. I made a couple of holiday playlists on YouTube and have been listening to them this month. I could certainly make other playlists and continue to add to them and edit them. I can also listen to other people’s playlists when I want to experience the surprise of new artists.
  7. Eat meals at the dinner table. I tend to eat breakfast and lunch at my desk while working. That really needs to stop.
  8. Hand write a letter or card. I’ve been enjoying writing the few holiday cards I usually send, and I could easily write letters to friends as well. Taking the moment to hand write something is really a luxury these days when a text or email will suffice.
  9. Take more photos. Photography was one of my first creative outlets, and I still enjoy taking the time to craft a good composition. It takes me out of myself. Even if the photos aren’t for posting and are just for me, I should take more time to create them.
  10. End the day with reading. I would like to have enough energy at bed time to read one chapter in a good book, maybe with a cup of tea. I am still reading Making a Life, which is perfect for this. I would like to cultivate this practice, instead of falling into bed and pulling the covers over my head and waiting for sleep because I’m too exhausted to read.

If you looked carefully at my first image, you’ll see I replaced number 7 to check the garden greenhouse with eating meals at the table. That’s because I went out to check the greens, and last night’s hard frost has ended them. I should have picked them this week, but I didn’t take the time to do that. Checking the garden is still a great way to find peace, but maybe not in the middle of winter.

What are your ways to find a little peace? I hope you will share them in the comments, or on your blog with the tag projectpeace.

Thursday Three: New for Me

Reading

I have borrowed and purchased many books this year, but reading them has been a struggle. Recently, Liz recommended “Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to Live” by Melanie Falick.

My heart needed this book. It answers my questions about why humans need to make things by hand, and it feeds my soul. It’s a beautiful, large, hardback, coffee table book. But it’s not sitting on my coffee table. It’s on my nightstand, waiting for me to read a chapter every night before bed. I feel like I’m opening a family bible or an old dictionary, the way I used to when I was a child — in wonder and awe and reverence.

Polymer Clay

I decided to try something new! This is my first attempt at polymer clay. I had an “idea” (pumpkin pie with a yarn ball of whipped cream) so I bought a book, some clay, and some tools. I would say that, as a first attempt, it’s okay, and I’m happy with that. It’s a lot harder than it looks, and I probably won’t be doing much of it. It makes my hands messy and I don’t like the way it feels on my skin.

Coopworth Fleece Roving – I wish you could smell it. It smells delicious!

Spinning

I purchased a spinning wheel! I had a spinning wheel way back in the day. It was one of the many things that I had to sell off during the migration of 2010 (aka The Great Upheaval). I was never a very good spinner, but I enjoyed it. I think with practice I could become a mediocre spinner, and I would feel good about that. I have a Coopworth fleece that is ready to spin into a sweater quantity of yarn, although I will probably practice on some Shetland first.

Letting Go

I’ve also decided to let go of some things. I’ve decided to let the podcast go. I realized it would take more time, money, and energy than I have to really make it work. I’m letting go of art shows. If I want to make art I will, but I don’t want anymore deadlines. Art shows also require an investment of money, time, and energy that I don’t have at the moment. I’m letting go of some subscriptions that are no longer bringing me joy.

What about you? Have you tried anything new lately? Or are you letting anything go?