My First Sweater

Ok, so, this post is going to be cheating just a little bit. It’s the last post of the month, and I’m sure I could think of something else to talk about if I tried, but this is what I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

I’m starting a new blog.

Don’t worry, I’m going to keep this one, too. I just probably won’t be updating it for at least a month.

Here’s my concept for the new blog: knitting a sweater.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – a knitting blog? Not exactly a revolutionary idea. And it’s really not.

But I want to use it as a tool, just as I’ve used this blog as a tool to keep myself putting words on a page. And I’m going to use this new blog as a tool to – you guessed it – knit a sweater!

The thing is, I’ve never knit a sweater before. I’ve tried, I’ve searched, I’ve even cast on and ended up frogging on attempt. It’s just that a sweater is such a time commitment, and so I’ve had a really hard time starting and keeping going.

It doesn’t help that I was determined for a while to knit a sweater with fingering weight yarn. And not even fingering weight yarn that would make a really nice sweater. I hated the texture of the wool, it was not good for a sweater, but I kept trying to convince myself that it was fine.

No more. I have yarn that I’ve worked with before and know that I love and I have a cardigan pattern all picked out that should be perfect for me.

And yes, I know that a cardigan and a sweater are not the same, but I don’t wear a lot of sweaters. I do, on the other hand, wear a ton of cardigans. I collect them, in fact, so that’s much more appropriate, even if it might be a bit more time consuming.

So anyway, I’m starting this knew blog, and it’s going to be my journey through my first sweater!

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Happy Birthday, Mom

It’s quite late and I’m very tired, so this is going to be a pretty quick, short post. I just wanted to make sure I get one in, though, because I’m determined to finish the month without missing one.

So I’m just going to tell you a little story from today.

My mom’s birthday was today, and so naturally, I got her a present. I bought her this present several months ago, and I was so pleased with myself for planning so far ahead. I hid the present away in a box so that she wouldn’t accidentally see it, and I didn’t pull it out until I was wrapping it today.

That was a mistake.

I thought that I purchased my mom the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately, what I actually got her was a 25th anniversary edition of the animated version. While she doesn’t own that version, she does already own a version of it, so there’s really no point in her having this one as well.

I felt so ridiculous when I realized that I’d made that mistake. I genuinely have no idea how I got so confused.

Well, at least it’s something to laugh about later.

Hygge Day

Well it looks like this particular project is going out with a whimper, not a bang. Missed the last three days of blogs, but I’m going to try to finish up these last days of the month. I did learn, though, that I really can’t expect myself to blog on weekends.

Anyway, this weekend was lovely, because on Saturday we had a Hygge Day! Our version of a Hygge Day, at least.

Just real quick, because it’s relevant to the rest of the content of this post, Hygge is a Danish concept that has been sweeping the US for a couple years now. There isn’t a really good translation of the word Hygge, because it’s more of a state of being or a feeling. Loosely, though, it can mean coziness.

The Danes imbue their lives with Hygge as a way of life. Here in the States, Michael and I make a point to try to have a Hygge Day once a month.

For us, a Hygge day means that we limit phone use, we make something warm and comforting for dinner, we do lots of cuddling and movie watching, and we light as many candles as we can. Basically, we just have a cozy day in.

On Saturday, we woke up and, after some cuddles in bed with our cat and dog, I got up, made a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal, and started watching the news. Getting up and watching the news might not seem all that Hygge, but for me, it’s nostalgic. It’s what I used to do with my mom every Saturday, until I moved out at the beginning of the year.

After the news, we tidied up the apartment (which itself was not super Hygge) because I can’t feel relaxed and cozy if the place is a mess. Then I was very pleased to be able to light a fall-scented candle in almost every room of the apartment and settle into our couch for a movie.

Oh, and to top it off, it rained for most of the day Saturday, which just made it all the more cozy!

Fangirling Over Twinings Tea

Today’s post is going to be about tea.

I love tea. My favorite brand is Twinings, and that’s for a few reasons. First of all, it’s really the first (decent) tea that I was exposed to. (Technically the first tea I had was Lipton Green Tea, and so is it really a wonder that I didn’t get a taste for it for a long time?)

I started drinking tea when I was in college, because I was dating a guy from a very quintessentially British family, straight down to the genuine belief that all problems can be solved with tea. Tired? Tea. Hungry? Tea. Sad? Tea. Happy, excited, lonely, afraid? Tea. Always tea.

But you know what, the idea really stuck. Even after I broke up with that guy, I kept drinking tea for just about every occasion. I still don’t take milk in my tea like a proper Brit, but I do enjoy at least one cup pretty much every day, even when it’s 90 degrees outside.

Actually, having tea when it’s hot outside can be attributed to my time in Taiwan. They believe there that drinking something hot when it’s hot outside will help to cool you down. Don’t really understand the logic behind that, but hey, if it’s another excuse to have tea, I’m game.

Anyway, reason number two that I have a preference for Twinings – it’s an extremely prevalent brand. I can get a huge variety even in my local grocery store.

For that matter, I can get Twinings just about anywhere. Even when I was living in Paris and shopping at their teeny tiny grocery stores, they had a great variety of Twinings tea.

The variety of their tea is actually reason number three that I like them so much. That amount of variety means that they have a ton of decaf options for me! And that’s not just the herbal teas that most brands have. Twinings does a decaf of all my traditional favorites, from Irish Breakfast to Earl Grey. And considering that caffeine, even in small does, tends to be a huge trigger for my anxiety, I’m extremely grateful for that.

Dye Lots

Dye lots – sometimes they matter a lot, and sometimes I honestly cannot tell the difference.

This post is about knitting and yarn, by the way, in case that wasn’t immediately obvious, as I imagine it wasn’t for non-knitters or beginning knitters.

So, dye lots are, essentially, the order in which a skein of yarn is dyed. If two skeins are in the same dye lot, they were dyed in the same pot and, therefore, are more likely to have an identical dye job. This is important for anyone using the yarn, so that they don’t end up with an unintentionally stripey project.

Now, when is this important? Most often, I would say, it’s important with larger indie dyers. If they’re dying up lots of skeins, but not quite enough to be considered “mass produced” or be sold at, say, Joann Fabrics, you’re going to want to make sure you’re in the same dye lot.

I recently purchased Shepherd’s Wool yarn, for example, and while it’s definitely on the more manufactured spectrum, it was important that all the wool be in the same dye lot, so that I didn’t have to alternate skeins or anything.

So then, when is it not as important?

First, if it’s highly manufactured, sold in bulk kind of stuff, like what you get at Michael’s or Joann’s, even Knit Picks yarns, it’s probably not going to make a big difference. You may want to check just to make sure, but these manufacturers produce so much wool and probably have such an automated system, the quality control on your colors is going to be very high.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I would say that with particularly small indie dyers (think single-person operations), the importance of dye lots really depends. If you’re working on, say, a two skein project and you’re using kettle-dyed yarn, having both of them in the same dye lot is going to be much more convenient. You may be able to get away with two skeins from two different pots, but better safe than sorry.

Alternatively, with something like oven-dyed yarn, which receives a direct application of the dye rather than just a general soaking, dye lots aren’t going to matter a lot. I mean, they will in the sense that you could have a single batch with slightly different coloring/striping, but the reason it won’t matter is because you should be alternating skeins anyway.

Very small operation indie-dyed yarn is going to have some differences. Everything is done by hand, so you can’t expect perfection. So if you’re using a large quantity of skeins, or if they’re particularly stripey yarns, you should definitely keep that in mind when you’re knitting up your project.

IT RAINED

It rained today! AND it’s only going to be about 75 degrees!!!

It’s honestly incredible, I can’t tell you how excited and happy this kind of weather makes me. Even though I know that it’s going to go straight back up into the 80s later this week and probably for the rest of the month, and also probably into next month… Well, I’m just not going to think about that.

This weather has got me thinking FALL, and I’m going to enjoy it for the whole day or two that it lasts.

I also appreciated that this morning when I woke up, it was dark outside. And it stayed dark the whole time I got ready! And then it rained the whole drive into work, which did slow things down on the highway quite a lot which wasn’t amazing, but again, I’m willing to put up with it if it means the weather is getting more fall-like.

I even enjoy the wind, which was whipping my skirt around like crazy today on lunch. Granted, it’s a maxi-skirt – I might not appreciate it quite so much if a shorter skirt got whipped around.

I’ve actually been really feeling the fall vibes. Throughout most of the summer, I don’t really care to light fall-scented candles, even though they’re my absolute favorite. It tends only to remind me of what I can’t have (*insert ‘tortured soul’ face here*).

But Bath and Body Works has already released their fall line of candles, though, and I splurged on a bunch of them last month. I’ve been lighting them like crazy the past week or so.

I’m just so ready for fall.

Michigan Fiber Festival

Well, this weekend was not great for my consistency. I always do seem to struggle on the weekends the most.

Anyway, I want to tell you about the fiber festival that I went to on Saturday, so I’m not going to wallow in my failure, I’m just going to get right to it.

I went, for the first time ever, to the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan!

For those who don’t know, this is, I believe, the biggest fiber festival in the state. It’s held at the Allegan County Fairgrounds, and takes up a huge amount of space, both inside and outside. There are vendors of all kinds that go to this event, as well as farmers and 4-H kids there showing sheep, llamas, alpacas, and angora rabbits.

I ended up spending just a liiiiittle bit too much money on this particular trip. There was so much gorgeous yarn and so many amazing vendors, I really should have expected it. But after visiting all the vendors (you’ve got to do your rounds when you go to an event like this, see everything first and then just go back to your favorites) there were four different booths that stood out in my mind, and I decided that it was worth it to get something from all of them.

So I got five skeins of yarn, and a shawl pin!

The only yarn that I really waffled on was from a vendor called Weaver’s Loft. The yarn that I ended up getting from her is Alpaca wool with more than 650 yards, and honestly, even though I wasn’t sure about it, I think it was my favorite purchase from the festival.

The shawl pin was also a bit of a splurge, I hadn’t been part of my mission to get one at this festival. But there was a vendor that had all these gorgeous handmade shawl pins made from ceramic, and I knew I just had to have one. And I only just stopped myself from also purchasing one of the little frames that she had with a ceramic alpaca head sticking cutely out with the most adorable 3D affect.

One highlight for me was all the animals that hey had at the event! I’m super obsessed with any wool-producing animals, and getting the chance to see and even touch some of them up close had me grinning like a lunatic for absolutely ages. The sweet little angora rabbit I got to pet, in particular, made me want one of the cute bunnies so badly!

It was quite a drive to get to this festival, about an hour and a half each way, but on the way we stopped and picked up a coworker/friend of mine, and the whole trip was well worth it, I had such an amazing time.

Let’s Go Lions!

I am so excited for the Lions vs. Giants game tonight.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m talking about football. And not even, like, regular season football. No. This is pre-season, and Michael and I have planned our night around this.

I did not used to be a fan of football. In high school, it was cool to hate it because I as one of those nerdy types. By the end of high school, though, I shifted mostly to simply not enjoying it personally, but I didn’t judge those that liked it. In college, we got free tickets to go see the games, and I’d go see one or two a year – usually the first home game of the season, when practically the entire school turned up, then maybe homecoming if the weather wasn’t too miserable. But I wasn’t really there for the game, just the socializing.

Since college, I was pretty ambivalent to it, besides a vague nostalgia for it because my dad has always been so into it.

But then, I met Michael.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Michael is obsessed, but he’s definitely into the season. Does a fantasy league, tries to catch as many games as he can, but doesn’t go too far out of his way, and also tries to host a get together with friends to watch a game each year.

He was just so enthusiastic about football, and so willing to explain everything about the game, that I couldn’t help but get into it, too.

I love watching games for a few reasons.

As I said, it’s very nostalgic for me. My dad watched football all through my childhood (sometimes to my mother’s frustration), and so I very much associate the game with him.

Football season is also the harbinger of fall! If football is on, it makes me feel like fall is just around the corner, which is such a relief. Even though it’s August now, we just light a fall-scented candle and crank up the AC, and boom, may as well be October.

It brings people together, too. I rarely hear much about Michael’s friends, but come football season and, more importantly, fantasy league season, we hear from them regularly!

I also just love having something to root for. It’s fun knowing that I’m cheering for my team (the Lions, btw, if that wasn’t clear) along with tens of thousands of other people. Not to mention, it’s just exciting to have something to get excited about.

Oh, and last, but definitely not least, it’s a great thing to sit and watch while I knit. Michael generally explains to me what’s happening if I get lost, or I listen to the commentators and only pay close attention when something interesting happens.

So yeah, I’m excited to watch this game tonight.

Dear Hank and John

I’m going to tell you about my favorite podcast.

Dear Hank and John just updated today, and I cannot tell you how happy I was to see it. I was just getting ready to go on lunch when I got the notification that a new episode was available, and I could have squealed, clapped my hands repeatedly, and jumped around joyously, if I hadn’t been in a professional environment.

So, let’s start with the premise of this podcast.

The presenters are two brothers, Hank and John Green. A lot of people will recognize John Green as the author of The Fault in Our Stars, but as I try to stay away from books that will make me sad, to me he’s just one of the Vlogbrothers, which is the YouTube channel that they also do together.

The show is a comedy advice podcast. They answer a range of questions, from the super silly to the extremely serious and important. John’s habit of throwing in a bit of existentialism every now and then had prompted the tagline “It’s a comedy podcast about death!” Fortunately, even those bits are genuinely funny, too.

What I like most about this podcast is how genuine it feels. Whether it’s John’s existentialism, Hank’s excitement for science, or even simply the interactions between the two brothers, everything about the show feels authentic. The focus isn’t on getting downloads, it’s on producing something that’s entertaining, just for the fun of it.

There is not a single other thing that I watch or listen to that I look forward to like I look forward to Dear Hank and John. Usually, it will take me a few days to get to new uploads from other content, but not this one. I will stick in my earbuds and listen to this the moment it comes out. The only reason I won’t do that is if I’m determined to get through something else – then I use it as my reward for getting through something a bit less interesting.

Decisions, Decisions

People.

They suck sometimes.

I don’t want to get too into the details, but let’s just say, I was so angry and frustrated today, I started crying. And not just little droplets falling gracefully down my cheeks or any of that bullshit, I’m talking practically sobbing, snot dripping from my nose, trying to stop the flood of tears with tissues before someone popped by my desk and noticed.

On the bright side, I’ve finally come to a decision.

I’ve been waffling for ages now on whether or not to apply for a new position. I’ve wanted to work for the library since I was old enough to apply for jobs, and never had the right timing or opportunity.

What’s also hard is that whatever position I apply to at the library is a significant pay cut from my current job. I mean, truly significant.

The position that I want the most isn’t currently available, so I thought that I would just continue to wait.

But today was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.

No more waffling. I’m applying for a position today, even if it’s barely above minimum wage and it’s the type of job typically given to high school students. Anything that gets me out of my current situation and into a library is worth it.