Life is slowly getting back to normal. The snow is slowly disappearing. Roads are clearing. The basement is dry. The laundry is done. The kids are back in school semi-regularly. So there's been a little more knitting, finally.
During Blizzardmania I started Virve's Stockings because I needed something fairly mindless to do. I was at a point in Pas de Valse that required time and concentration, neither of which were much available. So I picked some colors and cast on. I'm almost done with one of them. They're knee socks, so they do take a bit of knitting:
You can see from the long view that there's quite a bit of knitting there. I'm about halfway through the foot:
This is a nice pattern for mindless knitting -- a little lace at the top, a lot of stockinette, a little fair isle, then the heel, then more stockinette until you're done.
This last weekend I finally got the concentrated quiet time I needed to pick up the armhole stitches on Pas de Valse. Here's where the appeal of knitting with thinner yarn on larger needles wears thin. I picked up stitches very carefully. I had the exact number called for, but because of the loosy-goosy gauge and the short rows, I got holes. There's really no remedying this. It's not a question of my technique, or where I was picking up the stitches, it's just the nature of the knitting. I can sew over the holes to camouflage them, but that's a pain. I will do it, however, because I will not be satisfied otherwise.
Here's what it looks like in long view:
Here's the armhole with the holes:
In news of my other activities, I've read some good books lately. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God was first. This book combines philosophy, mathematics, and academic satire, all in one. Some books are straight out satires that you laugh your way through. Others manage to combine satire with deeper and more emotional layers. This book is definitely the latter type. Parts of it were laugh-out-loud funny (particularly the portrayal of a Harold Bloom-like figure), and some were desperately sad. In some ways, it's an extended meditation on the old Jewish saying "If I do not live for myself, who will? But if I only live for myself, who am I?" and the choices that are thrust upon us. As and English major, I loved the academic satire. The portrayal of the inter-generational and sectarian differences among Jews also resonated with me, mirroring in many ways the dynamics I grew up with. And there was some fascinating stuff that wowed the secret math geek in me.
When I finished that book, I read Hot Springs, by Geoffrey Becker. This is a melancholy book about a young woman who kidnaps the daughter she gave up for adoption five years earlier. It's harder to describe, but it's about love, fear, forgiveness, and the desire to be loved. It's a good book as well.
Somewhere in there I re-read Jane Eyre, as well. I don't think I've read this one since high school. It was nice to dive back in and remember how much I liked it the first time around. It aged well in the sense that my older self still liked it very much, much as I do with Austen (and much as I didn't do with Catcher in the Rye, which is definitely a book for rebellious adolescents).
I'm currently reading Beyond Black, by Hilary Mantel. Mantel wrote Wolf Hall, which I read and enjoyed recently. (As an aside, Wolf Hall, while very good, felt unfinished, incomplete. It turns out that there's another book to come, to complete the story.) This book is very different than Wolf Hall. I'm still early enough in the book that I can't really come to any conclusions about it. It's about a psychic/spiritualist who travels England's "psychic fayre" circuit. So far, I'm enjoying the reading. I'll report back on my conclusions when I have some.