Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Tender Holiday

Thanksgiving was quiet but delicious. I talked to my children. On Sunday, we zoomed with my siblings and spouses. It was nice to see everyone's face together on the screen. Thursday afternoon was warm enough for a brisk walk with my husband. As we say, we did the best we could to celebrate the day and remember our blessings.

Each month Honore' invites us to write about the word we chose for 2020. My word is "tender." On this first day of December, I turn toward Advent and Christmas. For me, the turmoil and losses of this long year do not suggest a season spent in search of constant merriment. Instead I am looking for a tender kind of holiday season. Call me the Grinch if you like. 

Candles in various numbers and configurations symbolize the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Light, love, and hope are the heart of all of these celebrations. This year I am setting an intention to honor traditions of the spirit:  kindness, peace, grace, comfort, and memory. I hope to extend and create tenderness.  I plan to light a candle. I hope to enjoy a cup of tea, a warm kitchen, writing notes, reading a Christmas story over FaceTime, and eventually, sitting down with a piece of chocolate to wind a skein of yarn.

Onward into December. A NewYear and a new season is around the corner. 











 



Candles and the light that comes from them are common to the winter holidays, Advent, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Kwanza, and Hannukkah. 

So as I settle into Advent to prepare for Christmas while others celebrate the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and/or Hanukkah. 


Holiday traditions create joy. I am thinking this year the traditions will be those of the spirit.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Eve

On this chilly Thanksgiving Eve the sky is gray and a breeze blows through empty trees. The finches and chickadees huddle around the feeder. The blue jays squawk from the tops of the neighbor's locust trees. The little downy in his crisp black and white with a dash of red fluffs his breast feathers at the suet feeder. This is indeed a November day. We are thankful for roof over our head, heat coming though the vents, food on the table, and stores in the pantry. My husband has tools in the garage and shed and the bins of yarn are full. One of my nieces is recovering from a nasty bout with Covid but she is out of the woods if not quarantine. Other than that my dear ones are safe and healthy. We will be home tomorrow, enjoying a good meal and Face Time. This afternoon I plan to make my mother's recipe of cranberry relish. I wasn't going to make rolls but somehow this day calls for bread rising in a warm kitchen. Tomorrow I will make an apple galette and put it in the oven when the dinner comes out. Since we are on our own, the pace will be leisurely and dessert might as well be warm from the oven. 

My knitting pace is also leisurely. Last weekend I reached the halfway mark on the cabled poncho. Between the hand of the yarn and the two repeats in the cable, this is one of my favorite knitting projects. The little textured bit in the center of the design repeats every twelve rows and the two cables on the outer edges repeat every sixteen rows. I keep track of rows with stitch markers so I am not ticking off the rows on paper. By the time I finish one repeat, I'm not far from the other and that makes me happy to keep knitting. 

I finished Jonah's hat and mittens and cast on a mitten for Emmett. Two sets finished, two to go. I also crocheted a little purple flower and sewed it on Norah's hat. I reconfigured the thumb gusset on Jonah's mitten (notes on Ravelry.) When I knit the toddler and child sizes in this pattern, the thumb always lands too far up on the hand. Then I rip out the top of the hand and knit it longer. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, this is a good example. 


Poetry keeps me company these days. Earlier in the month, I pulled my copy of Poems of Gratitude from the shelf. I also read The Darkness Around Us is Deep by William Stafford, a favorite poet. The title of the book is the last line of  A Ritual To Read To Each Other. Although this poem was first published in 1960, it has a universal quality that speaks to our time. I recently read in a commentary about Stafford "that he wrote amazing things without raising his voice, as though he was murmuring." When asked about that he replied that "a raised voice was usually a mistake. A murmur's enough." 

As I link with Kat and the other Unravelers, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  

Ravelry links

Poncho with a Cable

Jonah's Hat and Mittens 

Emmett's Hat and Mittens



Friday, November 20, 2020

Just a Moment

 November 20, 2020 - 11:20 a.m. 

Just a moment - 

This November day the sky is cloudy with patches of blue. 

A light breeze stirs the empty branches of the birch.

At the feeder, a small chickadee with blush tinge on breast, calls to a mate.

Across the street, a boy sits on a step, arm flung over his dog, joy on his face.

Our forty-third wedding anniversary:

marked with yesterday's walk through Pioneers Park,  

celebrated this evening with dinner at home and hearts full of memories.


Were we ever so young?





Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Windy Wednesday


The wind is breezy on this warm November day. Even so it will be a good day to be outdoors. As long as the wind doesn't do significant damage, I like the way it clears out the cobwebs and scatters seeds for next year. This time of year, the wind speaks of change. The sunshine and breeze make for pleasant walking and I can use a little cobweb clearing. I vary my walking route in order to stay engaged with my surroundings. Even walking the same route in the reverse direction helps me see things differently. 

I link with Kat and the Unravelers today and thank Kat for providing the link-up. Only one project needed a wee bit of unraveling this week. The textured pattern in Norah's first hat made my forearm sore. I ripped it out and knit the pattern I usually use for the kids' hat. If I can find the right color in my stash, I plan to crochet a little flower to sew on the hat. I cast on a hat for Jonah in his favorite color and am knitting along. I am making the hats with extra height/length. All four have good sized noggins and can always roll up the brim. 

This week I knit the heel flap and turned the heel on this sock. I am glad I stumbled on this free pattern by Kate Atherley. My knitting gauge and narrow foot mean a sock with a 60 stitch circumference and a heel flap/gusset fits me best. I have modified patterns. Still it can be challenging to center a textured pattern meant for 56/ 64 stitch socks over the instep in order to knit a 30 stitch heel flap. In this pattern, Athlerley includes directions for a 60 stitch sock and a heel flap and turn with an uneven number of stitches. This variation allows the ribbed pattern to remain centered over the instep. Does this matter in the scheme of things? No, it does not but why in the world have I never thought about doing this? I even own a book called Sock Architecture which might contain that information. I get so set in my way I miss other ideas. 

After letting the Cormo singles on my spindles rest a few weeks, I plied them on a slightly bigger spindle and made a very sweet skein of yarn. I have a good amount of this fiber to spin. The yarn is more consistent but still a little thick and thin. I am embracing this quality as well as learning about spinning intuitively. Whether it was a new spindle, this particular fiber, muscle memory, or the day, the plying went more smoothly. Sarah gave me a source for very pretty fiber so that is in the back of my mind. However since spindle spinning is a slow process, I am determined not to stash fiber.  

My reading life is rather blah right now. I will confess to a guilty pleasure of listening to the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson. These are light mysteries with predictable plots, characters, and even titles. They are set in NYC at the turn of the century. The heroine is a midwife who attends women in the tenements. The series is a break from the noise of the news. 

Take good care and may the wind blow the cobwebs from your doorway. 

Ravelry Links

Jonah's Hat

Norah's Hat and Mittens

Ribbed Socks

Cormo Skein

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Armistice Day

Today is Armistice Day in the United States. On this day in 1918, my grandfather was serving on the western front in France. Although he was too young to be drafted, he volunteered so one of his older brothers could stay home and work the farm with their widowed mother. He began the war as an "engineer" building bridges and moving equipment. By the end of the war, he fought alongside other US service men. 
In one of his letters he wrote about receiving a knitted helmet, a balaclava worn under the helmet. Late in the spring of 1919 he and his brother arrived home safely although his brother had lung damage from a gas attack. My Granddad was a gentle man in every sense of the word and a wonderful grandfather. I am thinking of him today and the army of knitters and Red Cross volunteers who supported the war but that is another story. 

Slow but steady seems to be my knitting pace this past week. The poncho is my comfort knitting. I pull it out in between other projects. I didn't take another photo but I've added more inches.  

The hat and mittens I knit for little Norah last winter are too small. The hat and mittens I knit for her in the Spring are too big. I asked my daughter to measure that little hand and head. This yarn, called Sparkle, seems meant just for her. She brings a lot of sparkle to my days. I love a strong willed little girl. 

I've made some progress on the latest pair of striped socks. Every time I knit striped socks, I think of my Gram who tossed quite a few sayings into her conversation. I don't know that she ever wore colorful socks but she would exclaim, "Oh my stars and striped stockings." 


On this Unraveled Wednesday, I link with Kat and other bloggers.  My hope is that on the anniversary of Armistice Day, we begin an era of healing.

Ravelry Links

Striped Socks






Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November 4th

Leaves fall gently on this warm November day. This week we will make one more pass through the yard to make certain the outdoor and garden paraphernalia is stored for winter. Drip hoses are still staked down in the tomato patch and there may be a stake or two lingering in the perennial bed. Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day with a clear blue sky. I walked late in the afternoon and the trees were filled with autumn light. Today's sky, with a few clouds on the horizon, is not quite as bright. 

To Kat and Kym and all the other poll workers, letter writers, and volunteers, thank you for your service. Now we wait. Once again I am thankful that Gram taught me to knit all those many years ago. When the 19th amendment was adopted she was sixteen. Now I wish I had asked her about that time. She was never short an opinion. Occasionally she worked at polling places. I can imagine her knitting or hand sewing in a corner of her davenport (couch) while listening to election results on a radio and later on a small black and white television. Mom would have cross-stitched as she and Dad followed the news. The idea of joining a large contingent of knitters this week and in the weeks to come is comforting. 

Last night I finished the little baby sweater and darned if I don't still have some bits of leftover yarn. Sometimes I think that as socks disappear in the wash, yarn multiplies in project bags. The sweater needs a wash to keep the bottom ribbing flat and then I'll weave in the ends. The color-blocking made a fun sweater for some little person. 

I knit a few more inches on the poncho. I am enjoying knitting it. Not much else to write about a rectangle of stockinette. 

I cast on a vanilla ribbed sock out of stash yarn. Honestly I looked for yarn that wasn't blue and this is what I found. I need another project that isn't round and round stockinette. On the other hand, winter is coning and the Connecticut kids have outgrown their hats and mittens. I love to knit for them. As soon as I have current measurements or reports on whose hat fits, I will be knitting hats and mittens. 

I finished Mozart's Starling in the wee hours of last night. This is a lovely book of nature writing, music, Mozart, and birds. A passage about the murmurations of starlings and the science behind these beautiful waves of flight fascinated me. I will never be a big fan of starlings but now I will appreciate some of their behavior and characteristics. When I read during the day (which is not often) I pick up Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf. Her writing about women's suffrage, the right of women to a college degree and to work in professions previously open only to men, and views on war is brilliant if a little hard to follow. I find this nonfiction worth the effort. Her footnotes and more extensive notes at the end of the book provide helpful explanation and context. 

I'm linking with Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. Gentle readers, hang on tight and keep the faith under this November sky. 

Ravelry links:

Baby Sweater

Poncho with a Cable

Ribbed Socks

Friday, October 30, 2020

If You Give Your Mother a Kingfisher


Late Sunday evening and into Monday morning, a little more than two inches of snow fell. Snow on trees with leaves fits right into this odd year. More seasonable temperatures and sunny autumn days have returned. Just before the front blew in, the birds flocked to the feeders including a new one. My son gave me the kingfisher sculpture last Christmas. We didn't want to pound it into a tree or the deck and there the story begins. 

If you give your Mother a metal bird sculpture, she will want a bird feeder to go with it. She will sketch a platform feeder with an arm for the kingfisher and hand it to her husband. Her husband will scratch his head, watch online videos, and get out his tools. He will make several trips to Lowe's and Home Depot for wood, stain, screws, new parts for the saw, sealer, and rocks. About July, the son will gently ask his mother if she found a place for the kingfisher. She will reply she hopes it will be up before the snow flies. Eventually the husband borrows a posthole digger from a neighbor, digs to a depth below the frost line, and puts rocks in the hole. The wife holds the post while the husband positions it in rocks, checks the upright angle with a level, and then fills the hole with dirt. When the feeder is finished, it is filled and the birds find it. Three weeks later the first snow falls and the couple wonders if the feeder needs a cover. Chances are if the feeder needs a cover, the husband will have to go back to the hardware store. Inspiration from Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  


Actually the feeder is lovely and there are no plans for a cover. We will enjoy it this winter, snow and all. We've got a broom to dust off snow. We're going to need something to do this winter.

Saturday I finished Kate's shawl. I do believe I've knitted her a shawl large enough for wrapping up on cold evenings. It will be in the next package to Connecticut. 

The poncho knitting continues. The cable detail marks progress. Right now the piece measures sixteen inches and is good company in the evenings. I continue to work on the baby sweater from partial skeins of yarn. 

In other bird related news, I'm reading Mozart's Starling. This nonfiction weaves together the natural history of starlings, lore and fact about Mozart, and current research about birdsong. From now on I will be listening more closely to the starlings' song and other vocalizations. My sister recommended this delightful book to me. It is just the right for these weeks of frenetic election activity. 

Be well and take good care. Happy Halloween.


 

Ravelry Links

Kate's Winter Shawl

Baby Sweater