Something pretty random happened at the beginning of this year that lead to me getting reacquainted with one of my favorite past times as well as pushing me to finally acquire a skill I was sort of terrified of. One afternoon I got an Instagram message on my personal account from Putnam books asking if I’d be interested in an advanced copy of Chloe Benjamin’s new book The Immortalists and a coordinating palette of Quince & Co yarn. I used to read a TON but two things conspired to cut that down to barely reading at all over the last two years. Okay I still listened to audiobooks, but that’s not the same for me.
First, Grainline was taking up all of my time and I’d feel guilty if I was doing something unrelated to work. Knitting I could justify because I’d get a blog post out of the finished garment, but reading, that’s just time when I’m not being work productive. Second, my eyesight deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t read a book without my glasses on because it needed to be so close to my face. As someone who’s lifelong preferred reading place is in bed or laying on a couch, that severely complicated things*.
So back to this Instagram message! I thought this could be a great way to jumpstart getting back into reading so I said yes. Flash forward to me trying to read a large hardcover without glasses…it just wasn’t working. One night in frustration I downloaded the Kindle App on my phone and purchased the e-version of The Immortalists and it was amazing! I could read without glasses! The iPhone screen killed my eyes though, so I finally broke down and bought a Kindle Paperwhite and I absolutely love it.
Kindle in hand, I’ve now read more books since February than I have in the past few years, not counting audio books, which is super exciting! I’ve been checking out books from the Chicago Public Library for the most part which is super great. I’ve also linked my Kindle to Goodreads so that it automatically updates my reading list. I’m one of those people who are terrible at remembering names, so I have definitely started reading a book I’ve read before more than once. The books above are what I’ve read so far, plus The Immortalists from the above pic, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Have you guys read anything awesome lately? I finally have some hold space at the library, so hit me with your recs!
The second thing that happened as a result of that Instagram message is that I FINALLY took the time to figure out a way to do colorwork that works for me. I’m a right handed knitter, a thrower if you will, which has made me feel like I’ll never be able to master the art of the colorwork since pretty much everyone I know does it two handed. I have taught myself to knit continental but unfortunately my tension never evened out. My left hand may be attached to my body, but it’s connection to my brain is questionable at best.
Motivated by my Immortalists x Quince yarn I signed up for a class with my friend Julie taught by Mary Jane Mucklestone at Vogue Knitting Live. At that class Mary Jane said something that gave me the confidence to try colorwork with only my right hand.
She said that there’s no wrong way to knit colorwork, some people do it with only the left, some people with both hands, and some with only the right. Whatever works for you is the right way!
With that in my pocket and a video from my friend Kate of her colorworking with only her right hand I gave it a go and it worked! I’ve now made two hats, am working on finishing up my MJ Mucklestone class wrist warmers, and have my next colorwork sweater already planned in my head! So many people have chimed in to “correct” my knitting in the past (I learned from a Hobby Lobby pamphlet before YouTube, Knitty, and way before Ravelry existed so my technique is maybe a bit odd) that it turns out I guess I just needed the okay to do what works for me.
I’ve been doing a bit of work on our house this winter which has been nice. I finally made curtains for our dining room and it’s made SUCH a difference! We never close them – I’m that weirdo who always has all the blinds and curtains open – but they really make the room look so much more homey and finished. I used a natural color linen which I love though honestly, if I could have found the style curtains I wanted in the same color linen that fit our windows I would have bought them. One problem with an old house is that now, 99 years on from when it was built, all the windows are non-standard sizes. We need to get these windows replaced this year and the they’ll need to be custom as well. At least I won’t be making those myself!
Our next project which I’ve been working on with my dad is turning the smaller upstairs room into my home office space. The room was basically the complete opposite of my style, and was set up as a nursery when we toured the house to buy. The only baby we have is this business (well and our pets but whatever) so the purple walls, off white trim & ceiling and carpet had to go. So far we’ve taken up the carpet to reveal the original 1919 subfloor which was pretty cool. Hopefully by the time this post is live we’ll have started to put down the underlayment for the new wood floors and I’ll be almost ready to paint. I’m sort of bummed because the walls & ceiling are painted with semi-gloss meaning I have to prime every surface before painting (normally I wouldn’t prime the ceiling) but it’ll be worth it in the end.
I’ve been obsessed with making these little photoshop collages of what I want to do to each room in the house as we start to work on them. I’ve made them for the dining room, living room, and back room already, and they really help me get my full plan across to Jon before I start buying things. Having 4 art degrees in one house means there’s some serious compromise as we’re both VERY invested in the look of the house. I think I’ve finally mastered combining Jon’s more industrial taste with my more warm, midcentury leanings but as the upstairs of the house is all mine, I’m excited I can do whatever I want. Across the landing for the stairs will be my sewing room, but that needs skylights, drywall, window replacements, and more so it’ll be a while before that happens.
What life update would be complete without a status update on my plants?! We got a warm day a few weeks back and I took most of my crew out on the back porch to start the spring plant routine rolling. For me this means clean leaves, flushing and refreshing their soil, a few were split, and a few others were repotted. I’ve noticed that every time I post about plants I get a ton of questions on the posts and messages about plant care. I’d definitely be up for posting a bit more about my plant care routine here, but I don’t want to turn this into a straight up lifestyle blog. So if you’re interested in a small post about plant care tips, leave me your burning plant questions below and I’ll try to get that going.
So that’s it! As always the bulk of the images in this post are pulled from my personal Instagram account, @jen_beeman. Hope you enjoyed this small slice of my life and I’ll see you back here for more sewing content next week, including info on the Uniform Make-Along! Have a great weekend!