Life Lately v.06

Life Lately | Grainline Studio

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.

Life Lately | Grainline Studio

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!

Life Lately | Grainline Studio

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.

Life Lately | Grainline Studio

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!

Life Lately | Grainline Studio

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.

Office Redesign | Grainline Studio

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.

Life Lately | Grainline Studio

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!

52 replies on “Life Lately v.06

  • Emily M Camfield

    Have you read ‘Ready Player One’? It’s fabulous. Even if you’re not into video games and futuristic worlds, the characters are great and the story is really fun. It’s a fast, fun read.

    Reply
  • char83

    You may be interested in the Goodreads’ group Women’s Classic Literature Enthusiasts.

    https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/143776

    Otherwise my recommendations are Anne Bronte’s “Tenant of Wildfell Hall”, Barbara Pym’s “Excellent Women”, Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca”, and Clare Mackintosh’s “I See You”.

    If it is alright, I will send a Goodreads friend request.

    Reply
    • Jen

      Just joined the group, thanks for the rec on that! It’s definitely okay to send a request – I could use more friends there to talk books and get recs! I’ve also added these books to my list, thanks!!

      Reply
  • Erica

    I can not keep house plants healthy to save my life (luckily that doesn’t extend to taking care of my kids!). I’m a thrower too and have always just done color work all right handed and it works just fine for me! It’s maybe not the most efficient way but I’ve knit 13 colorwork sweaters in the last 9 months so I’d say it works okay lol

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    • Jen

      That sounds pretty efficient to me and why does everything have to be efficient, as long as you’re enjoying the process and product that’s all that matters! Also I have a feeling I wouldn’t be as good at taking care of my plants if I had kids 😉

      Reply
  • JamieDSC

    I just finished “The Bear and the Nightingale” and loved it! It was advertised as a Russian fairytale but it ended up having kind of a gothic bent. With a tomboy heroine I loved.

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  • Dianna

    I recommend “The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry – very engaging with an interesting woman as the main character. I had been off from reading last year and this kickstarted the habit again. Of note, I just switched back to physical books after reading only kindle books for years. Sometimes we may just need to a change of scenery to get back to a favorite hobby.

    Reply
    • Jen

      I’ll check that rec out. And yeah it’s so funny how that works, just rearranging something that feels stuck can be a great way to get back to it.

      Reply
    • Jen

      I think I’ve got a few super simple tips that can be useful for plants so I think I will end up sharing them. Hopefully people don’t mind too much that it’s not sewing related. Just looked that book up and it looks interesting, adding to my list!

      Reply
  • raychel

    I’m a thrower and I do stranded colorwork with my throwing hand! It’s possible! 2 handed looks cool but I am set in my throwing ways and cannot get my left hand to work with my right. I’m glad to hear you’ve found something that works for you!

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    • Jen

      Same, my left hand just won’t cooperate and it’s really a big disaster. I’m surprised how naturally right handed colorwork came once I finally decided it was okay to go that route!

      Reply
  • Brigid de Jong

    I bought a Kindle for my mom when she was in hospice and after she was gone it came to me. Well, that was something I didn’t know I needed so badly! I have arthritis in my hands (I taught myself Portuguese style knitting, which helps A LOT, but I am itching to try color work and don’t know how that will go…) so holding a book open is very tiring. Now with my Kindle, I can put it on a stand in my lap and read while I knit!

    I also recently put my drapes back up after (finally!) fixing them. They are pricey silk dupioni I bought at Pottery Barn years ago and were in perfect condition except that the loops to attach the hooks on the back had come apart. After I finally figured out how I could fix them I went at it. Like you, I generally leave them open but since the former apricot orchard across from us has been torn apart, and two story condos are going in, I’ll have to close them more often unless I want people watching me in my kitchen and living room (I’m pretty sad about this, we used to have a view of the mountains. Not to mention…people being able to see in.) But I am very happy to have the drapes back up. They do really give a finished look to the room.

    Reply
    • Jen

      I was just thinking yesterday how much lighter my Kindle is than a book! I’m so glad you found something that works for your hands, my mom also has arthritis in her hands so I know how painful that can be and how much it can impact your ever day life. That really stinks about the orchard also, but at least you have gorgeous curtains to block out the people. Living in the city for so long has made me immune to the feeling that someone might be watching us, though that hasn’t rubbed off onto my husband yet. He’s trying to get me to put curtains or blinds up in the front and back rooms.

      Reply
  • Diana

    I’ve read half your above books (thanks for the D.Eggers reminder). I can not recommend Patti Smith’s Just Kids and M Train highly enough, you may have already “ear read” them? She does the reading for the audio books, so, just saying great either format. Little Fires Everywhere (I think author is named Celeste Ng, it was one of those National Book Award, shortlisted for everything books a couple of years ago) is a beautiful exploration of art, privilege and how we deal with our choices, set in Shaker Heights, OH and small town Wisconsin (or Michigan), so Midwest cred (with extended NYC section). The writing is
    Finally, I’m also a heavy user of my public library electronic resources and I’ve found they often do get books I take time to recommend (certainly I’m not only “please add this” voice as I’m generally many back in waitlist queue when the joyous notification lands). These days, all my pleasure reading is ear-based as long commute, congrats on getting back to taking time for books!

    Reply
    • Jen

      Ooh, I loved Just Kids – actual read it when it came out – and didn’t realize she had another book! I’ve got Little Fires Everywhere on my CPS hold list and I’m down to about 300 of 800 in the hold list so maybe by summer I’ll be reading that, haha! I’ll have to try recommending also, there’ve been a few I looked up that they haven’t had, though luckily the Chicago Public Library is pretty stocked!

      Reply
  • Diana

    Addendum: “the writing is—insert thumb and index finger ok circle emoji.” Since this format doesn’t do emojis (good learning for me) so outstanding would be my non-graphic superlative

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  • Ruth S

    I recently read LaRose by Louise Erdrich and it was amazing… then I read Future home of the living God which I didn’t realize was also by her until I got to the end….. both great reads but I’d say LaRose would be my first choice.

    Reply
  • Kristen

    Ooh, I LOVE your new curtains!! Weird question but where is your curtain rod from? I just moved and am looking for a long simple black one but so many look flimsy and/or have stupid filigree finials on the end!

    Reply
  • Lisa Keown

    I hadn’t realized how far I had drifted from regular font size due to my ereader. Would never be able to read a paper book now. I loved Wild, The Gardner Heist, and True Crime Addict.

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  • Jessica

    I also knit my color work right-hand only. I can muddle along with one in each hand, but it’s rough. Then I decided that if snooty continental people (no offense) could knit with both yarns in their left, I could do it with both in my right. It was briefly mentioned in Robin Hansen’s Fox and Geese Mittens book, which gave me the last nudge I needed.

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    • Jen

      Hahahah I know what you’re saying 😉 It’s funny that it just took us each a push from another source to make it happen! Go right handed colorwork!

      Reply
  • Natasha

    i just read “Everything I Never Told You” and it was AMAZING. Celeste Ng has a new one out now too, but I haven’t read it yet. I also loved “The Nightingale” and “All the Light We Cannot See”, which were also beautiful books. Reading is a joy for sure. (So is sewing!)

    Reply
    • Jen

      I have Everything I Never Told You on my hold list so hopefully I get it by summer, ha! I’ll check out the new one and The Nightingale. Goodreads has been recommending All the Light We Cannot See to me so that’s on my list. Glad to know they’re good reads!

      Reply
  • Charlotte Parfitt

    I have really enjoyed the Seven Sisters book series by Lucinda Riley in case you run out of books!
    Also reading your thoughts about colourwork, I have been the same as I’m a ‘thrower’ and the thought of two handed knitting has really put me off. I think I’ll try again though as you’re so right – everyone has their own way of doing things and that’s definitely ok!

    Reply
    • Jen

      Awesome thanks! I’m on so many wait lists and it looks like the library has the first few of these available now so that’s a seriously hot tip! And definitely try again with the colorwork! I put up a story in my IG story highlight called Knitting showing how I’m right hand handling the yarn (that sentence was confusing to write!) if that helps.

      Reply
  • Annet Maurer

    I just read (well, listened to) An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and really enjoyed it. I’ve got the next Lisa Genova book waiting for me (if you haven’t read hers, they are excellent – still alice, and more I can’t think of right now.).

    Reply
    • Jen

      Ooh this is good to know, my library app just recommended An American Marriage to me last night! Haven’t read any LIsa Genova either so I’ll pop that on the list, thanks!

      Reply
  • liamarcoux

    As a previous poster said, Rebecca is an amazing book! I really liked the Philip Pullman prequel, Book of Dust. And if you like Golden Age mystery but have finally reread Christie to the point where you can guess whodunit, Ngaio Marsh, Georgette Heyer and Josephine Tey are classic entries in the genre.

    I am interested in plant care!! I just fed my plants for the first time today (I live in Boston – it’s finally spring, as of this weekend), and there is a definitey…pooey?…smell. But hey, if that’s the cost of doing business, I guess I have a stinky plant family. Haha.

    Reply
    • Jen

      Hahaha how did you know that I’m at that point with Christie?! These are great recs, thank you! As for the plants…they might just need a flush after the long winter! I had a massive gnat problem this winter which took forever to get rid of and lots of neem oil, so mine have just *finally* stopped smelling like that!

      Reply
  • Hélène Martin

    What a stunning home you have put together! My husband and I are also in the midst of furnishing our new place and feel some tension between mid-century modern and industrial (of it’s minimalist, we like it). We’ve come across “atomic modern” which adds some metal and retro-futuristic vibes and that seems to work well for us. Can’t wait to see the next office progress shots!

    Reply
    • Jen

      Ah yeah I can see that being a great middle ground! It’s really interesting balancing two people’s taste and actually a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be. Spent the weekend removing more carpet so hopefully soon I have something interesting to show!

      Reply
  • Madeleine

    Ooh, seconding the Madeline Miller rec! Haven’t gotten my hands on Circe yet but Song of Achilles was great. If you liked The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt has another book called The Secret History that’s a bit of a cult classic. I’ve also been getting into John Cheever’s short stories.

    Reply
  • magpiej

    Really enjoyed this update and window into how your non-sewing life is going these days. As it happens, I do have a burning plant question — or rather, a moldy one. After a leak in my condo led to mold in the walls, we discovered mold growing on our poor houseplants: the surface of the soil, in the planter saucers, and I’m betting inside the pots as well. Is there a way to get rid of the mold without harming our plants?

    Reply
    • Jen

      Glad you enjoyed it! As for the plant, if you can scrape off the mold, do that and put it somewhere where the soil can properly dry out. If it’s deeper in the soil or the fungus comes back, you’ll likely need to repot the plant in new potting soil. I’d also clean the pot before you repot if you end up going that route. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  • shoes15

    Have you read “H Is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald? It’s a gorgeous nonfiction book about how Macdonald copes with the death of her father through training a goshawk for hunting. If you like books about nature and how people interact with nature, I think you;ll love this.

    Reply
  • Jocelyn

    I just finished State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and it is now one of my all-time favourites! I would definitely recommend it.

    Reply
  • Julie

    I recently read and loved Swamplandia! And both Autumn and Winter by Ali Smith were really excellent. And I can’t recommend Jesmyn Ward’s writing enough. Both of the books that won the national book award but also her memoir: Men We Reaped. Isn’t it fun to rediscover reading? I had the same experience. My phone was my way back.

    Reply
    • Jen

      I just got one of Jesmyn Ward’s books from the library, even more excited to read it now! Will also check out Swamplandia & Autumn and Winter, thanks for the recs!

      Reply

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