I have made a lot of progress on my sweater sleeve!
I think I have about two inches left before it is done and then I can pick up the stitches for the second sleeve and get to work on that side After that I think the biggest hurdle will be picking up the stitches for the collar. In any case, the end is in sight!
I know I am a bit of a broken record but today the Bay Area had the worst rated air quality in the world. A dubious honor. Stores are out of masks and air filters. People are driving out of the area to escape the smoke. Luckily for some people, they were already leaving for the holiday but we don’t have plans to go anywhere so we are staying home huddled by our air filters, hoping that the rain will come sooner rather than later and that we will be able to leave the house with a mask!
As you can guess, they’re actually very delicious. That is fortunate, because school has been canceled tomorrow due to the impending apocalypse.
To escape from thinking about the apocalypse, I went to see Neil Gaiman speak at Stanford.
Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. I have been to many of his readings, signings, and speaking engagements since 2001 when I saw him read from American Gods. He never fails to delight and entertain. He read us a story about wildfires, read a section of Good Omens, answered some audience questions, and let us all know that what he believes in is empathy and leaving the world a better place than when you turned up.
Also, he compared writing Norse Mythology to knitting. He said writing it was his knitting, like how knitters knit between things and in the end they have a sweater.
Funny he should mention knitting, because that was what I was doing while I listened. I got a couple inches of sleeve done. I am making good progress.
Maybe that can be my project for our “smoke day” tomorrow: finishing this sleeve!
In case anyone is curious, this is my new air filter. It kind of looks like a giant version of the old iPod nano.
I bought it on Amazon, of course. For comparison, this is my old air filter, which doesn’t have fancy cycling modes or an air quality indicator (that blue light on the right goes red when the air is bad) and it is super loud but if the light on the new one is to be believed, it has been doing a pretty good job!
I need to figure out what model it is, actually, and buy a new filter. It has been running constantly for several days and I last replaced the filter last year during a bad fire week. I’m not sure how much of the smoke they can handle and I’d rather be safe than sorry!
In less boring, more cute news, my dog had a playdate today. They spent some time wrestling under the couch as usual, but then they had a rest, adorably.
I have been knitting on the sleeve since I last posted about the sweater problem but it’s too late to get a new picture. I’ll aim for that tomorrow!
I woke up at 4:30 this morning in a panic about the smoke. I was worrying about it getting in. I was worrying about not getting to be outside. I was worrying that I was worrying too much. I was worrying that I was not worrying enough. There was a lot of worrying.
Then, on the way home from school dropoff my friend Andrea invited me over for our dogs to have a playdate. I got to spend a couple of hours hanging out with her, drinking coffee, eating biscotti, and watching our dogs bark at each other while also learning about her fancy air filters. It was rejuvenating.
Because Docker got nice and tired out wrestling with and barking at her dog, I was able to crate him even though he hadn’t had a walk so I could go to yoga with another friend who told me she was trying the yin yoga at my climbing gym. I usually do the Friday class and was pleasantly surprised that the Friday teacher was subbing today . That was also rejuvenating.
I may not be getting any steps but getting to talk to friends and go to yoga are both good for my mental health too!
I posted about my breezy cardigan in progress last year on November 3. As you can see, I have made almost no progress since then!
The problem is that i think the sleeve is too big. I knit a whole sleeve and didn’t like it and ripped back but I’m not sure it’s making any improvement.
Then again, the store bought hoodies I wear aren’t exactly form-fitting either.
So maybe it is not so bad and I can just just keep knitting? That is the plan I am going with for now. The body of this sweater is just so much knitting. I can’t face frogging the whole thing and starting again. It’s an open, loose cardigan, it doesn’t matter if it has loose fitting sleeves as well.
Look at me, missing days left and right this year. Alas. Apologies, etc.
I made challah yesterday. I use Mollie Katzen’s recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, using the honey and butter options, and using half whole wheat flour and half white bread flour. I also added a half a cup of vital wheat gluten this time around and it made for a very, um, sturdy, dough.
It was harder than usual to knead because of the sturdiness but I think it was totally worth it.
I have taken to using a scale to insure that I have equal amounts of dough for my braid. Also, I start the braid in the middle and work towards each end. I find that I get a much more symmetrical loaf that way. Next up is learning to do a braid with more strands in both directions. I can only do a three-strand braid backwards for the moment.
These loaves are kind of enormous. They weigh about two pounds a piece. I gave half of one of the loaves to the owner of my favorite coffee vendor at our Farmer’s market. I follow their Instagram and they followed me back and she expressed dismay last week that she didn’t get to taste the bread I had posted on Instagram so this week I decided to make some for her. She sent me a photo of it with her dinner and said it was delicious! I am pleased that she liked it.
My family likes it too, of course. It’s not a low carb day when I make a batch of these but at least it is carbs made with love.
Most of my day today was spent thinking about smoke and fire. There is a large, mostly uncontained fire burning in Paradise, CA to the northeast of where I live. Because we live in a valley, if the wind is heading in our direction it funnels much of the smoke straight down towards us. As a result, I spent a lot of today looking like this.
The mask makes my throat and lungs burn less but it doesn’t do a thing for my slightly crazy curls.
I tried to get a picture that showed the smoke clearly but it is a challenge with an iPhone.
I think the sun made it most obvious that something was wrong with the sky. It gave the light an eerie apocalyptic glow.
What I am saying is: all of this is terrible. It is very late in the year for a fire this bad. We had almost no rain in October this year, which is not usual. Climate change is a real problem and it is long past time for us to do something about it before we all end up looking like I do in the photo above every time we go outside.
I took up rock climbing over the summer accidentally. It does seem odd that I could have slipped and fallen into rock climbing but it was really unintentional. My younger son was interested in rock climbing so I took him bouldering which we thought would be easier and less scary than top rope climbing. Well, it turns out it’s a lot harder so I took a belay class intending to just belay him. I told the instructor that when the class started, that I didn’t want to climb. He told me I needed to climb a little in the belay class so someone else would have a chance to belay. So I did, and then he kept encouraging me and I made it all the way to the top of a climb. (A very easy climb, but still a climb!)
My son and I met up with a friend and her kids at the climbing gym a few times and she and I belayed the kids and also got to climb a bit. I was enjoying it and then started climbing with a friend of mine who has been doing it longer and is much better at it than I am. She has been giving me tips and encouragement and I have impressed myself with how I have overcome feeling scared about being up high and trusting my body to be able to push me up and hold me there! There is some learning to trust the rope too. It does a lot of the “keeping me up high” work.
There are other facets of my life where I have stepped out of my comfort zone recently and one of them is marches and protests. I went to a protest tonight about politics. I am very concerned about the state of our democracy and wish that I felt like things could get better. I showed up for a rapid response protest without a sign and without much idea of what I would do there, but a wise friend told me recently, showing up is often the most important thing (in life and in protest).
In spite of hating crowds, since January 2017 I have attended two women’s marches, a rally against the muslim ban, a rally against family separation, and now this response to the firing of the Attorney General. I want to believe these things will make a difference. I hope they will make a difference but I am not sure they will.
I will say this: I would much rather be rock climbing.
I can’t find one of my FOs from the past few months. It is the purple cotton poncho that I was knitting last year during NaBloPoMo. I will keep looking for it, but in the meanwhile here is another FO I just finished today made with the same yarn.
I started this in the summer to have a simple knit to work on during my summer trip. I have knit several Honey Cowls and I highly recommend the pattern!
Hopefully, I will find the poncho. Clearly, I haven’t been wearing it but maybe it is time to start doing so!