Plaid Beatrix

Short post today because life’s been a little busy the last few days, but I officially have another Beatrix in the books and I’m still in love with the pattern! This time I opted to use some leftover wool plaid fabric from a friend, made 3/4 length sleeves, and used larger buttons than the pattern called for. If I had to complain, I would say that the top fits more like a sweater — loose body and tight sleeves. I wonder if there’s a bust adjustment I can do in the future, or perhaps it’s worth taking the sides in a little bit.

Depending on the fabric, I would actually be tempted to see how large of a button I could use before it started to look a little silly. In my mind, the buttons have the power to be a fun pop of something. This seems to be magnified by the fact that the top does not require buttons in order to be pulled over one’s head. Perhaps there is an option to hack the pattern and do a pleat instead…

I’ve fallen in love with a different dress option for my quilting cotton, more on that soon.

A young woman standing in front of a floor mirror wearing a blue, red, white, green and yellow plaid shirt and jeans.

Beyond single and double crochet dishcloths

A medium pot sitting in a lavender and charcoal colored crochet bin. The colors form a horizontal diamond stripe pattern . Next to the pot is a milk jug filled with water and porthos cuttings bring propagated.

Like many other fiber artists, I’m not satisfied with only one craft. If only to understand them, I have in my soul a desire to learn about and try everything from spinning to sewing my woven fabric. True, some of these plans are more romantic than practical, but there’s still something beautiful about having the desire to learn and dream. Something inspiring about trying new things and having the willingness to fail spectacularly.

As many of my friends already know, I’ve been sitting on my grandmother’s crochet hooks (and her sewing notions, but that’s not what today’s post is about) since she passed in 2007. There is no uniformity to this collection, it’s clear she ran out to the store and grabbed hooks as she needed them for various projects. I also don’t have any memory of her using these hooks, nor any crochet items I fondly curled up with as a child. Despite this, I have been seriously flirting with crochet since I took a class at Gather Here in 2016. A date I’m only aware of because I have a Ravelry project page for the dishcloth I made in class.

Many many years have passed between my grandmother’s death, this initial crochet class, and today, yet here I am, stubbornly holding on to the crochet hooks in case the day comes that I want to start crocheting. At first, my reason for not sticking with it was speed and being in grad school (I was learning enough and didn’t have the bandwidth to learn a new craft on top of it). Then the reason was I wanted to learn other things (weaving). Finally, I found a few crochet designers on Instagram and they’ve been slowly convincing me that I need to crochet often enough to be able to make the things that inspire me as they pop up.

The first step in this process was to take on something that wasn’t a square. It was a lot of fun to work the Grist Shawl as part of Gather Here’s crochet along. The next class I signed up for was the Willoughby Nesting Bins, this allowed me to practice crocheting in the round as well as crocheting so that stitches stacked on top of each other. I used Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky instead of the pattern’s recommended linen yarn and then felted the bin. In hindsight, I should have made it just a bit bigger so that it wouldn’t be misshapen by the pot I put in it, but overall I love the colors and the way it turned out. I don’t think I would have liked it as much if I had used the linen yarn, which is naturally a pleasant surprise when making substitutions. TBD on whether or not I reach for this pattern again, perhaps a small version for bits and bobs?

Marjoram Hat crochet in light pink and turquoise. Granny squares are connected to make up the band of the hat and the brim and cap are made utilizing double crochet stitches.

My crochet adventures ground to a halt after taking crochet 2 at Webs, not because of the class but because I have a few knit sweaters queued up and waiting to be made. Crochet 2 taught me that I can read crochet stitches and forced me to sit down and master the granny square. Now that I know how easy they are, it’s hard not to want to make all the granny squares.

The first project we took on in Crochet 2 was the Marjoram Hat and Mitts, I actually think this could have been my style if I liked the colors I ended up with more. Since I purchased my cascade 220 online and in person, I misjudged my colors and had to swap things around a little bit. These were lovingly donated and will keep someone warm.

The next project we worked on was the Simple Seed Stitch Pillow. It was nice to learn that I can do seed stitch without much trouble, but no matter how you swing it this one isn’t my style. It did make me add a linen stitch sweater to my favorites though.

I love learning fiber arts because it gives me a safe space to feel uncomfortable and make mistakes. Though knitting will always be my main craft (crocheting in the car makes me carsick), it’s nice to finally be flexing my crochet muscle a little and to be using my grandmother’s old hooks. Time will tell how much use they get, but there are a least a few blankets in my future.

February 2023 Book Club: The Book of Night

Cover art for Book of Night by Holly Black.

I should probably start by saying that one of the reasons this book was so much fun to read is that the setting of the story takes place around the towns I grew up in. When Holly Black mentioned different college campuses or iconic local places, I’ve been there. It is my opinion that this lead me to enjoy the book more because I shared a lot of the feelings around the different settings with the characters. For better or worse.

Now that that’s out of the way, Book of Night was an interesting take on what would happen if a select few discovered they had the ability to manipulate the world using magic. True, the idea that magic comes with a price is not a new one, the idea that you have to feed your shadow in order to do it is one I hadn’t come across yet. Much like the limitations to magic in the world of the Wheel of Time, there are physical limitations and risks to using magic. Use too much and you won’t be able to use any more. There is also a pecking order created by how strong you are, which seems to make sense in any world that uses this rule of thumb.

There’s also something to be said about a good anti-hero (queue Taylor Swift’s song? No?). Charlie Hall is not the worst person in the room, but she’s not the best one either. Due to her upbringing, she was forced to manipulate those around her in order to survive and it’s clear that the habit has stuck with her even when her original teacher left the picture. Things are always going wrong for Charlie, but a lot of her challenges are self-created. While you want to root for her, there are also moments where your gut reaction as a reader is along the lines of “I mean, you did sort of do that to yourself. You didn’t have to do what you just did”.

Did I like the book enough to be excited about the sequel coming out in the next year or so? I’m not sure. The ending of the book left a lot of room to expand the story as well as enough ends tied up that I could stop here. Do I need to read about the struggle that Charlie will face with her new shadow and trying to get him to remember who she is or can I imagine a possible happily ever after? Holly Black isn’t afraid to make her characters uncomfortable, so even if they do live happily ever after there’s probably going to be a lot of discomfort before they get there. This might be why I enjoy a good Holly Black tale, no one is ever given the ability to be perfectly happy. There are always compromises that need to be made in order to reach the end goal, something that is very relatable.

Cover art for Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

I’ve been putting off reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer since it initially came out and I think I’m in the headspace after Book of Night to take on a fairytale retelling. At the very least, it will be a fun read while I wait for my hold on the 8th book of the Wheel of Time series. As this is my third attempt to get through the series since I read book 1 in high school, I will say this confirms that the timing of a book is really everything. So many people have called the middle books a slog and here I am, enjoying the slow world-building. It also probably helps that I’m not able to read book after book due to everyone wanting to read them now that Amazon has turned the first book into a TV series.

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless Lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg.

She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Dash-it All! Cowl

A white knit cowl with bursts of rainbow. The stitch pattern creates lines of dashes every couple of rows.

This one is going to be a little shorter than the last few because it’s being snuck in during a nap. Definitely feel a little bit like we spend a lot of money on daycare just to introduce our daughter to all the germs, poor thing has been sick on and off since early November. My husband and I seem to be on a rotating schedule of who gets which bug worse. Sometimes I have to remind myself that we’re building strong immune systems. Rome, after all, wasn’t built in a day. Also, it’s hard to see your kiddo sick! It’s a humbling reminder that you can’t fix everything.

I bring this up because even though the Dash-it All! Cowl was completed before this string of bugs, I think it would have been a good project to have on my needles at any point during the last few months. The pattern is easy enough to memorize while being simple enough to be able to work on for 5 minutes at a wack without getting lost. My last few projects have been of the squishy variety (think lots of garter stitch), but I can’t help but think back to this one and wonder what it would look like in different colors.

The tricky thing about beautifully dyed yarn is that you need a project that allows the yarn to do the talking. Sometimes this means working simple patterns with lots of garter or stockinette stitch, sometimes it means adding texture that gives the colors more depth. This can be made tricker by the placement of the colors themselves. For my Dash-it All! I used one of Wonderland Yarn’s color burst yarns thinking the color would be slashed about the cowl a bit more, I think for my next one I’ll opt for something more speckled or variegated.

Hope everyone is feeling mostly healthy this winter season! I think it’s safe to say we’re all looking forward to being able to open the windows in a few months.

Want to make one of your own? Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs). No kickbacks for me, just discounts for you :]

…And forward on 2023

Sometimes I feel like we never stop moving. In the last two years, we’ve renovated an entire house, gotten married, had a baby, changed employment… and the list keeps going. Despite this, I can’t help but look forward to the changes that come with a new year.

In 2023 I:

  • Will figure out what type of fancy loom to buy. I sold mine at the end of 2022 and sort of feel as though I should have come up with a plan beforehand. My initial plan was to buy the same loom but in a size 48in, however, a very kind weaver talked me out of it. I’m told that it’s uncomfortable to weave on that size rigid heddle. This leaves me stuck between a 24in rigid heddle (assuming I can double weave on it), an 8-shaft table loom, and an 8-shaft floor loom, probably due to the variations in size and price point. I just want to occasionally weave blankets and towels, nothing fancy. So it’s hard to justify the cost of a $3,000 floor loom. Unless, of course, I can find a used one.
  • Will sew a dress with my egg fabric! I purchased it a year a go and just haven’t been able to sit down and make the thing. I also want to make something out of the floral denim I snagged from Notion Fabric. And finish my husband’s bike pants. And maybe sew a few more things for O. It’ll happen!
  • Will knit the things. Some are planned and some are TBD, but I will knit the things as inspired.
  • Will slow down and explore the world around us. It’s a lot of fun to view the world through the eyes of someone who’s literally never seen things before, and a good reminder that the world is our playground.
  • Might finish the Wheel of Time series. At this point, I’m halfway through and still going strong, which hopefully doesn’t jinx me.
  • plant a garden? Maybe this is the year?

I’m not really sure what 2023 will bring, but as I look at the year laid before me I can’t help but be hopeful about what’s in front of us. Some things will stay the same, but so many things will shift just enough to be felt. You don’t really blink and become a year older, each passing moment can be felt if you allow yourself to be aware of them. There’s something truly beautiful in that, so for 2023 that’s what I hope we do. I hope we sit in each moment and enjoy them, the good and the bad.