Wednesday, May 12, 2021

May News

Hello on this bright, cool, breezy May day. I am watching a mama starling fly in and out of nest in the bushes along the front of the house. I can't see any tiny heads but she did wind a bit of transparent ribbon into her nest which gives it a little style. Yesterday I planted tomatoes and cucumber seeds. The temps are chilly but I bought the plants late last week so it is high time to get them into the ground. The forecast shows rain beginning Friday and lasting an entire week. If I were writing A Gardener's Alphabet  (see below) I would write "B is for backache" and "G is for gamble." Yesterday's work took two and a half hours. It was glorious while I was planting, digging, potting, and laying drip hose but it might have been 45 minutes too long. A hot shower and a heating pad revived me. 

I am joining Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends. I finished the shawl late last week but it still needs to be blocked. I made a little progress on the wild and crazy second sock. I wanted something else to work on so I cast on Antler Mittens to go with a hat I knit last Fall. Since the pattern calls for an aran yarn and I am using Malabrigo Rios, the first cuff was too small. After a knitting a few rows of the pattern, I listened to the voice in my head. Blocking wasn't going to help and neither was knitting more rows. The fabric is right for a mitten and I love the yarn but an evening with this project made my hand hurt a little. I'll knit on them for shorter periods of time, alternating with yet another to be determined project.  

I am currently reading The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Last year I listened to the novel but am reading it as it is our book group's next discussion book. It's an interesting reread of sorts. Tom Hanks' voice still rings in my head as I recall some of his inflection and expression. 

My children sent thoughtful Mother's Day gifts. My son sent the books on spinning stacked up by the socks. Sometimes he calls to chat on his commute home from work. I mentioned spinning and spindles several times. He selected these books on his own and did a great job. My daughter sent me a subscription to an online writing project called StoryWorth. Every week I'll receive a prompt to write a personal/family story. I think she has a hand in choosing the writing prompts. At the end of the subscription, the stories are bound into a hard copy book. This should be fun. 

Now I am off to repair squirrel damage to a newly planted pot of herbs. Why can't they eat out of the compost bin? I don't begrudge the starling her nest but those squirrels are a royal pain in the tush. Then I'll take a walk and stash dive for a new project with a looser gauge. Stay tuned. 

Ravelry Link 

Antler Mittens

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Favorite Sheep

This chilly morning finds me wrapped in a favorite alpaca shawl and wearing wool socks. These sixty degree days make good walking weather. The Lily of the Valley will bloom in time for Mother's Day. The iris in our yard have sent up tall stalks with buds. Other iris scattered around the neighborhood are blooming. Late last week, I put out an Oriole feeder but haven't had any takers. I might have been just a smidge too late. I'll leave it out for another week or two.

Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends finds my projects still in the pink. Evenings I knit on the Falling Waters Shawl. I am knitting the border and hope to finish it this coming week. I enjoyed the simple stitch pattern combined with garter stitch. After blocking, this shawl will be a generous size. The shade of vintage rose is a rich interesting color. Likely I'll be wearing it with a white shirt and black or khaki pants, maybe to the Farmer's Market. The Markets here are open with spacing. Masks are still required in our county although that may be changing. I have always enjoyed the smaller Sunday market and remember it was less crowded after 12:30 p.m. so maybe in a few weeks I'll venture out with a mask. 

I continue to spin with spindles. Little by little I become more proficient. Spinning is new enough that when I set the spindle in motion and concentrate on drawing out the fiber, the rest of the world melts away. I often play instrumental music with nature sounds. My current favorite album is Forest Cello by Dan Gibson's Solitudes. 

Sarah mentioned on a Zoom spinning call that Polworth is one of her favorite fibers to spin. On that recommendation, I ordered a small bit of it - pink. I am enjoying the soft but wooly feel of the fiber. I am also now eating my words with more than one spinning project going at a time. While singles of one project rest on the spindles before plying, I work on another. This way I am not without a spinning project. I continue to enjoy the Cormo and the Merino/Flax/Tussah Silk Blend. Right now the blend is more challenging to spin. I am hoping as I gain skill, I can do justice to that beautiful blend.

I am in between books. I was sorry to come to the end of This Golden Fleece. The history of knitting in the UK was great bedtime reading. I enjoyed the details of political and social influences on knitting and the wool industry. Rutter wrote a long chapter about the Shetland Wool Week and the Shetland Islands that was great armchair traveling. One of Norah's favorite books, Where is the Green Sheep?  by Mem Fox is on the table for FaceTime reading. "Sheepy"was the first book she requested at bedtime. A girl who likes sheep and chooses favorites, the slide sheep and the bed sheep, is a girl after my own heart. The best news of all is we have plans to visit and I can't wait. All of us, except the kids, are vaccinated so we are going to risk traveling. Once we arrive, we have no other plans then just being together.

Wishing you a good week and a Happy Mother's Day. 

Ravelry Link

Falling Water Shawl

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Late April News

Warm and cool April days have been the norm, yesterday near 90 degrees and today a high of 63 degrees. I walked two  mornings, my usual summer routine, to avoid 80 degree weather. My husband worked on the garden plot and raised bed, preparing the soil and reframing the vegetable plot with new timbers. I might have complained that it was growing ever smaller with grass encroaching into the edges. Now I will have to do my part and start planting. Our last frost date is around Mother's Day so it's time to make a list. 

In the meantime, the lilacs are blooming. They are my favorite Spring flowers. My grandparents had three or four large lilac bushes in their and my Granddad always picked a large bouquet of lavender and white lilacs. He added a few red tulips before carrying it into Gram. The University of Nebraska East Campus has a lilac arboretum. I haven't walked through it for three or four years so I hope to get there this season.

Thank you to Kat for hosting Unraveled Wednesday. My knitting is much the same but I'm enjoying it. Last night I sewed buttons on the little cardi and took an outdoor photo for a better color representation. Although I knit to gauge, this sweater is an inch shy of the 2 - 4T size. It is small so will be a gift for another little person some day. Now I have an excuse to knit another little sweater for my granddaughter. 

I'm enjoying the Falling Water Shawl as it grows. Four more repeats remain before adding the border. I'm knitting on the second sock. I took it with me to see my sister, niece, and great niece last week. What a lovely lovely time we had catching up - in person - without masks. On the way home, I got a little extra time on the sock while waiting for a low tire to be checked. Knitting - don't leave home without it. 

Last night I read the end of Clap When You Land. What a remarkable story about many things but especially about forgiveness. The strong female characters, young and old are great role models for a YA novel. The format of a novel written in verse is intriguing. I might request an audio copy in order to hear the rhythm of Acevedo's writing. The colors in the sock remind me I also listened to Miss Benson's Beetle. What a hoot. If you need some lighter reading and a few smiles, I suggest Miss Benson's madcap journey half-way around the world. 

This afternoon I'm off to ponder my garden while doing a few chores and then walk. Have a good week. 



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

April Light

April evening light is so sweet. The flowering trees reflect the soft and bright whites and pinks. The greens are still new and daylight lasts longer. The temperatures have been chilly and on Monday snow fell but the trees seem to have weathered the cold. I started washing winter woolens but paused as I am wearing them. I enjoy a cool Spring so a few more walks with mittens and hat is welcome. Warmth is in the forecast.

Today I am back to a Wednesday post with
Kat and the Unravelers. I finished one wild and crazy sock. (This is about as wild and crazy as I get.) The pattern I began with called for two extra plain rows at the top of the heel flap. I blindly followed the pattern, knit the extra rows, heel flap, heel turn, gusset and a few inches down the foot. When I tried the sock on, the heel was too big. I ripped it out and reknit it with my usual thirty rows of heel flap. Much better. That's the joy of knitting your own socks, making them to fit. I finished the sock and cast on the second. The stripes/colors won't match but I didn't expect them to do so. 

I knit a little cardi/shrug for my granddaughter. I knit to gauge but it looks small to me. She is petite so it might fit. If not, it can be for someone else. Also Little Miss Firecracker is a girl with a mind and voice of her own. As her oldest brother says, "she is kind of picky about her clothes right now." She might not want to wear it. The yarn, Bebe Cotsoy, is from deep stash and no longer being sold which is too bad. It's a nice washable cotton blend yarn for babies and toddlers. I finished it before I had time to take a photo of the cast on. It was a nice break from my current shawl. 

I am reading
This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitting History. Esther Rutter knits her way around Britain while exploring the history and culture of her country. Any fiber history interests me and this is no exception. Some of the British vocabulary isn't familiar but as I read on, context brings the meaning into focus. I just began to read Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. This YA book is written in verse. The story is told in two voices of half-sisters, one in the Dominican Republic and the other in New York City, who lose their father in an airline crash. When I was looking for books to suggest in our book group, I found an online video of the author discussing her graduate school experience and this book and was intrigued. I think we will have a good discussion. I am listening to the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery, The Consequences of Fear by Jacqueline Winspear. Dobbs and the familiar characters are living through World War 2. I know this series isn't for everyone but I enjoy it. A light mystery is good for evening knitting and listening.  

I hope your socks fit and the April light shines on the street where you live. 

Ravelry Links

Spring Socks 

Little Cardi   - pattern Sedona Rose

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

April Poetry

This April the brighter sunshine highlights the colors and markings of the birds. The starling's subtle teal and black gleams in the light. The robin's orange breast contrasts sharply with the grays of his head and wings. Two winters ago, I watched a downy woodpecker ladder up the tree. Her movement held a certain rhythm:  ta dum'  ta dum'  ta dum.' It reminded me of a line in a poem. 

Although no one knows for sure, poetry probably originated in the oral tradition of epics. Long stories were learned and repeated. Rhyme and rhythm helped storytellers or traveling troubadours memorize the words. When I have enough of a poem on a page, I read it aloud to hear the rhythm. Often with reading, I change a word without even knowing that it needed to be changed. Poetry is made from many moving parts but some kind of rhythm is critical. A break or change in the rhythm of a poem often signals the reader that something interesting is going to happen. In A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver wrote that "rhythm underlies everything."

Rhythm is pleasurable and soothing. Rhythmic rocking soothes babies and small children. Watch a woman with a cranky baby, even it is not her own. Her first instinct is to cradle the child while swaying side to side. The quiet or exuberant rhymes of children't books, like Goodnight Moon or Green Eggs and Ham become favorites of preschoolers and older children. Rhyming and rhythmical text help lay a foundation for language and literacy skills.  

Paul Valery said, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." I worked on this little poem for quite some time. It began with a little downy woodpecker who made her way up the trunk of the birch outside my window. It is ready to be abandoned. 

Be Still and Wait *

Be still and wait

    walk into stillness

    pause with the wind.

Collect and gather

    honor stream, leaves, roots,

    junco, moss, and birch.

Sing a circle

    unravel a song

    follow one drop of rain.

Spin from the stars

    weave as a spider

    leave a strand undone.

Wait long in the center.

    Echo the downy

    begin again.

*Copyright Jane A. Wolfe, 2021

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

April Showers

After a string of gloriously warm and windy days, rain fell last night. Rain on the roof is so peaceful. Today is gray and damp with more April showers on the way. Some ornamental trees in the neighborhood bloom but ours will bloom later. Buds on the linden and birch just begin to send out green tips but the Japanese Lilac tree has leafed out. The crisp new greens are invigorating. Why do I so rarely choose green yarn? I don't know. Sometimes, like now, I look at my knitting and notice the projects are all the same color family. 

I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers and am happy to report no unraveling. Monday evening the wind died down so we carried our leftover Easter brunch dinner to the deck. No jackets were required. After we finished, I knit a few rows on this sock - outdoors. What a nice evening. The sock is coming along. The pattern has a diagonal line beginning at the instep and crossing the top of the foot. Someday I will follow this pattern as written. Well maybe I'll follow the pattern. Why make promises I may not keep? The broken rib has a nice rhythm and the diagonal would show better in a tonal or solid colored yarn. 

I'm also knitting the Falling Water Shawl. The designer, Bonnie Sennott writes a nice pattern. The side panel of texture keeps the knitting from becoming too monotonous. The colorway, Columbine, has more of a rose tint then shows in this photo. It resembles the color of the flower but also the lighter colored breasts of the house finches that frequent the feeder outside my window. 

I am reading Wanderers: A History of Women Walking by Kerri Andrews. I am just into the second chapter but am not wowed by this book. Andrews lives and works in the UK so of course, that is her orientation. Of the ten women writers profiled, eight lived or live in the UK. Anias Nin was born (to Cuban parents) in France, and Cheryl Strayed is American. I realize the scope of non-fiction work has to be limited but I think this book could be much richer if more women of color had been included.  Juliann posted about reading books about walking and we had a short conversation about how, in many places, the US is not set up for walking and that the Brits seem to have more appreciation and history of walking. Perhaps this influenced this author as she researched her book. At any rate, I'm going to read more of the book before I abandon it. 

What are you knitting this week? 

Ravelry Links

Spring Socks 

Falling Water Shawl

I should have removed the dish towel from the counter but I didn't so instead of still life you get real life; flowers against a homey background. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Unraveled Wednesday

This morning a bright yellow goldfinch sang in the birch. His molt to spring and summer colors is almost complete. A winter junco hopped around the feeder in the backyard. I imagine he will leave soon. This last day in March is breezy and brisk but the yards and weeds are green. The Easter Sunday forecast is for eighty degrees.  

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers today, I can report one finished throw, one frogged shawl, one reknit mitt, and a new cast on. It was a wild knitting week complete with second Covid shots. We experienced eighteen hours of mild side effects and then they were gone. I was ever so grateful for the slight headache, body aches, and chills. I put on warm woolens, curled up in a quilt, and read. I also knit on the lavender mitts which wasn't a great idea. Somehow I shifted one cable on the right hand mitt. I didn't notice it until I was knitting the last two rows of ribbing across the palm.  I ripped it out and reknit it a day or so later.   

These look better on hands but my photographer wasn't available. 

The finished Scrappy Habitation Throw is the most crooked square I have ever knit. I wet blocked it to 56 inches square. The process required crawling around on the floor with lots of measuring and adjusting of pins. All fingering weight scraps are not the same and that was probably part of problem. The beginning corner was knit from a Koigu yarn that is heavier than the sock yarn at the ending corner.  I also think the weight of the blanket contributed to the looser gauge in the last corner. The scraps you see are what remains. I still have ten million ends to weave in, well maybe five million as I started using the clasp-weft join mid throw. I rather like weaving ends in, making a project tidy and finished, which tells you something about me. 

I frogged the red shawl. The previously sorted out spine looked great but one side had an extra stitch. I considered decreasing the extra stitch but decided against it. The thought of starting over right now didn't spark joy. I love the red shade in the yarn. Maybe next fall or near the holidays knitting a red shawl will be just the thing. I love that yarn doesn't spoil over time.

I cast on a new pair of socks. I wanted to knit on something bright. The fiber content is 75% wool and 25% nylon so these will be wooly socks. I hope washing softens them a little. Right now, the fabric feels a little crunchy. It is an experiment.

I continue to read The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine and enjoy it. I found a used copy of Woodswoman I: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness by Anne LaBastille. The nonfiction about the Adirondack back country is great armchair traveling. I am not a rugged outdoors woman but it is fun to read about one. Vera recommended this author to me and I'm glad she did. If you like nature writing you might like this book. 

To those celebrating, Happy Easter. Happy last day of March and Happy Spring.

Ravelry Links

Lavender Mitts

Scrappy Habitation Throw

Spring Socks

Trader Joe' Daffodils - please excuse the kitchen sink