Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stitching Away the Winter



Today the sky is blue and temps are predicted to reach 70 degrees. These are mighty warm February days in Nebraska. Currently, I am ignoring the icon on my phone that predicts snow on Friday. This winter Lincoln has been the edge of most storms. A little snow would bring welcome moisture and melt quickly. In the meantime, I am stitching away the brown landscape.

I have more than my usual number of projects in process. Perhaps this warmish brown winter combined with the unsettled time in which we live has something to do with the fits and starts in my projects. Most evenings I work on blocks for little J's Christmas quilt before I pick up my knitting. This is the third incarnation of this quilt so once I cut the white fabric and gathered Christmas prints on hand, the prep is easy. Most of the patterns are together in a file folder. When I finish one block, I prep the next. The variety carries me along. I am finding the embroidery quite peaceful.



I finally finished the green, and I do mean green, socks. The yarn has a lovely hand but the colors were prettier in the skein. Now when I am tempted to buy a skein of yarn, I search Ravelry for projects in the same color way. To date I've saved my stash from six new skeins of yarn. I'm sure the colors are beautiful to someone and that is wonderful. I plan one more tweak on the heel flap in another pair but otherwise I've developed a good recipe for a well fitting sock. Travel knitting here I come. We stayed home during the winter but this spring we are so looking forward to visiting our children.

In other winter stitching, I hit a snag in the length of the raglan line on the Travel Cardigan. Since I'm getting the correct gauges in both stitches and rows, I must have misread the pattern. I ripped out the same eight rows three times. Finally I put the stitches on waste yarn, tried the sweater on, and measured it against another hand knit raglan sweater that fits and planned the rest of the increases. I hope I am back on track as I'd love to wear it traveling. The shells in the dish in the sweater photo came from Todd's Point on Long Island Sound and I look forward to walking that trail and beach with my daughter and her family. A bassoon playing grandson in Fort Worth, Texas also calls to us.

Wherever you are, I hope you are finding peace in these last few winter days.




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Now It Is February

Some early afternoons when the sun is shining, I take up my knitting and sit in my Great Grandmother's chair in front of a tall window with a southern exposure. While the sun warms my back, I watch the light play with color and shades in the yarn. Light also highlights shadows among the texture. Fifteen or twenty minutes is a nice break in the day.  

I finished the hat and mitten sets for my grandsons and sent them off in a Valentine's Day package. Although I have two other projects on the needles, I returned to these socks. Vanilla socks are comfort knitting.

I bought the skein because I thought the colors were so pretty together. I am not as pleased with the colors as they display in the fabric. Still, the yarn has a lovely hand and who am I to argue with green socks in January. My goal is to create a snug ribbed vanilla sock pattern for my narrow foot. The customary sixty-four stitches in many patterns is too wide while the smaller size of fifty-six stitches is too small. I am knitting a version of a broken rib stitch on a circumference of sixty stitches. The repeat goes like this. Row One: Knit 4, Purl 2. Row Two: Knit. I may try a slightly shorter heel flap on the second sock to see if it fits better.    

I'm reading Upstream, a book of essays by the well known poet, Mary Oliver. She writes prose with a marvelous elegance of language and reverence for natural world. Upstream collects a few new essays with those previously published. Even though I have read many of these pieces, I find something new on each page. Light shines from her writing as well as the cover art.

Now it is February and the quality of natural light begins to shift. Dawn and dusk change while the cycle of seasons remains constant. As we turn toward Spring, I mean to savor the last orange and lavender streaks of winter sunsets.





Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Mittens

Early on Sunday afternoon a 24 hour rain began to fall. The temperature hovered at 33 degrees creating an ice covered landscape. By Tuesday the sun shone on a dazzling 27 degree day. Today promises to be warmer. I've been knitting mittens. I drank hot tea and imagined joining hands with generations of knitters, including my grandmothers.  

Our six year old grandson needs a bigger hat/mitten set. Although the three year old could wear the hand-me-downs, I won't send a set for one without including the other so I am in for two hat mitten sets. While I wait for the charcoal gray yarn for the six year old's set to arrive, I cast on mittens for the three year old. I like the recipe from Ann Budd's, "The Knitter's Book of Handy Patterns as it is a both/and mitten; no left or right. Kids can pull them on either hand as they run out the door. The first pair looked too big for M. so I cast on another, the next size down. Someone somewhere will need warm hands.  

Last week I knit these Align Mitts for my niece. She had admired the mitts I made from the same pink yarn for her Mom. This is another both/and pattern. Left/right mittens have their place, especially when they are designed with cables or stranded color work and I enjoy knitting those too. Left and right, right or left, mittens keep and extend warm hands. Either way the best mittens are those knit by hand.

The ice is melting. I can hear it falling from the birch outside my window. I am going to find my old warm mittens and go for a walk. While walking, I try to imagine stories and conversations of both/and instead of either/or. When I come home I'll have a cup of tea and finish the fourth mitten.








Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Imagine

Yesterday I walked a bit in mist and the brown landscape. Our area has not received much snow so walking is easier but I miss the peaceful quiet of a snowy January. I came home from my walk resolved to fix a color mistake in this scrap afghan. Last winter I began this project with oatmeal colored yarn that never became a sweater and added some coordinating colors. I set the afghan aside when it was too warm to knit with a lap full of wool. Late this autumn, I pulled out the basket of yarn hoping to knit a color repeat four or five times a week. Last month, the project stalled. I knit on, ignoring the small voice in my head telling me to reconsider the orange. Instead I kept knitting, thinking the other colors would eventually balance the garish orange.

Yesterday I took a deep breath and decided to cut out the orange. The worst that could have happened was that I would have to re-knit all the rows above the stripe. It's all knitting right? I cut carefully on the wrong side and pulled out the pieces of orange. Then I put the pieces back on smaller sized needles to avoid pulling out live stitches and kitchenered the afghan together. The invisible weave is between the second and third oatmeal stripe. I'll be picking up orange fuzz for a few more days but I got the project back together. I cut my knitting and I survived. Imagine.


After four or so false starts, I cast on a Schoonheid Shawl. I'm adding a seed stitch border on both sides to prevent rolling. The yarn has been in my stash for two years. I decided to knit with it instead of saving it forever. Imagine.

I've been thinking about a word/theme to carry into the new year. This year my word is "Imagine." I like the idea of thinking, creating, and forming an idea in my mind. Related words like imagination and image are also intriguing. An image can be a portrait, a figure, representation, or a reflection. Imagine and simulate have related word origins. Isn't it interesting that to simulate means to imitate something and imagine means to form a mental image? To use part of a well worn quote by Arthur Ward, "If you can imagine it, you can achieve it." Imagine the creative solutions we can devise in 2017. Happy New Year.









Friday, December 30, 2016

Wrap Up

When last I posted, I was working on the Peace Cowl. I enjoyed the project very much and finished a few days before the end date of December 21. I have another skein of the yarn and may knit some mittens to match. I plan to donate the cowl to another woman in the New Year. I am trying to finish a pair of 2016 socks but they are dealing me a fit. I have knit the second heel twice and it needs to be ripped out again. Perhaps my mind has been on other things or perhaps it is time for me to learn a new technique for knitting heels. I knit socks with a traditional heel flap, turn, and gusset because that is the way I learned to knit socks. I am going to purchase Susan B. Anderson's pattern, Smooth Operator Socks, for her detailed well written instructions for an afterthought heel.

We celebrated a quieter Christmas season this year. While we missed our children and their families, we found other joys this season. Since I enjoy baking cookies, I baked old favorites like Gram's spritz and my sister's peppermint brownies. I tried a more labor intensive cookie recipe I've always wanted to bake. The Raspberry Linzer Cookies, more like a pastry than a cookie, were pretty and tasty. I gave cookies to neighbors and friends. We also have plenty in the freezer for another day. I decorated a small tree in the dining room with cookie cutters (something else I've always wanted to do) and German stars that were once a gift from my sister. I read a Cather novel, Shadows On The Rock. This lovely story follows a young girl and her father through a year in Quebec in the late 1700's. The girl with a devout faith is very resourceful and the relationship between father and daughter is quite touching. In a Christmas scene, a young ragamuffin of a boy, who the pair have befriended, brings a hand carved beaver for a creche sent to the girl from an aunt in France. Cather's description of ordinary and simple events is beautiful and peaceful.

Currently, I'm pondering some knitting projects and a Christmas Quilt for the new year. Three grandsons have Christmas quilts so I need to get started on one for the fourth little guy. This year he is still in his crib but next year will be a different story. I am also considering a word to adopt as my intention for 2017. In the meantime, I plan to finish a few New Year's greetings and enjoy the last days of December.






Saturday, December 10, 2016

Peace







           Pray for peace on this
           Earth.
           All are welcome.
           Come join hands. Let
           Each one reach to another.








These December days I'm sipping hot tea and knitting the Peace Cowl. The stitches makes a pretty texture on both the right and wrong side. The pattern also has a nice rhythm, one I could easily speed up in order to finish. I decided to stay with the spirit of knitting one repeat each day and am enjoying the slower pace. I'm a few repeats behind but then it is December. I started a few days late and ripped out the first repeat and cast on to go up a needle size. Yesterday while my sister and I were chatting and knitting, I made a mistake and ripped out three rows. Peaceful knitting does gets interrupted now and then. Some evenings I read The Healthy Knitter's blog post on peace and knitting. I take comfort in knowing a peaceful, health-seeking knitter lives in Iowa, not too far away. I thank her for her pattern and her writing.

In between rounds of the Peace Cowl, I'm knitting a hat and mitten set for the children of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Bundles of Joy, a Ravelry group contains information for knitting and sending clothing.

May peace fill your heart all year long.  


                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                     

Friday, December 2, 2016

Early December

My Christmas knitting is finished. This year I chose fewer gift knit projects and began knitting early in the fall. During the year, I made fingerless mitts from scraps and a few washcloths to stash away as love presents to someone who needs a lift or a thank you.

In other early December news, I sent a "getting ready for Christmas" package to my little grandsons in Connecticut. I bundled up pretzels and dried cranberries for our favorite Rudolph sandwiches, knit mitten ornaments for each one, and cut strips for paper chains. Last year Emmett made a long paper chain and wrapped it around our tree. This year we won't be together so I'm getting creative. I cut strips and started the chains for each of the three boys. I wrote a little message on them. I enclosed two rolls of scotch tape so the six year old and three year old can have their OWN roll of tape. Just what their mother needs this time of year, two boys with yards of sticky tape. The baby doesn't need tape. I haven't completely taken leave of my senses yet.


I wrapped up one other project for the year. This Ramona Cardigan in Montera yarn, a wool/llama blend, (think very warm) has been sitting in a bag since January. I worked on it last winter but didn't enjoy the knitting. I put it away the end of March because it was too warm on my lap. I got it out this fall and put it away again. Last week I knit one more row and realized I really don't want to knit the sweater. The pattern is well written and the sweater fit. However, the yarn was shedding. I didn't notice the shedding while swatching but didn't check either. The weight of all the stitches with heavier yarn hurt my arm/shoulder. I don't wear heavy sweaters nor did I want to figure out how to store this one. So I cut off the current ball of yarn and put half a sweater in a waste basket. When my husband emptied the trash, he pulled it out and set it aside. "Did you really mean to throw his away?" he asked. My answer was a resounding, "Yes, the sweater isn't for me."  The rest of the yarn might make great mittens or slippers. I may knit with it and I may not. For now, I'm returning the yarn to a storage bin - guilt free. Knitting is not a chore.


I am planning a new project or two. I am considering a shawl with a wool cashmere yarn I purchased at a sale two years ago. The yarn won't cause any discomfort and it doesn't shed. I purchased the newly published Singing Beach Cowl. I have several skeins that would work for this pattern. In the meantime, I am joining knitters around the world to knit the Project Peace Cowl. At last count 16,000 knitters had downloaded the pattern. I am not one to join knitting bandwagons but this project appealed to me. Yesterday I cast on the cowl with some yarn from Lake Yarns and Fiber. I've lost the label but I think the yarn is a dk weight. The pattern calls for fingering weight so once again I am making a few changes, fewer stitches and larger sized needles.

The Christmas cactus began blooming Thanksgiving week. It is a little early but rather festive. I'm taking the days as they come. Happy Peaceful December.