Wednesday, July 19, 2017

High Summer

Hello. Recently we drove to north central Minnesota to spend a few summer days with my sister and brother-in-law at their lake home. We also were able to catch up with my Montana brother and his daughter. Our lake visit of warm days and cool nights was lovely. The company is very dear to us. I love being shoulder to shoulder with my sister in the rocking chair, the kayak, along the roadside for a walk and in the kitchen. North central Minnesota had a late cool spring so the wildflowers continued to bloom with wild abandon. One afternoon, Lance and I walked with our niece. We heard all about middle school, piano competitions, and her upcoming trip to Japan as she snipped wildflowers for a bouquet.

Close to the lake, my husband saw a fox slink across the road. Small frogs hopped in and around the grasses at the lake bank. A great blue heron fished intently from a small floating dock anchored near the shore and a pair of loons bobbed on the lake. During the day, birdsong floated into the screen porch where my sister and I sat in rocking chairs with our knitting. My husband and brother-in-law completed a small woodworking project in the garage. Two evenings we played board games around the table. I didn't take many photos but instead tried to make the most of time with wildflowers and family.

Both coming and going, we stop at a rest area outside of Worthington, Minnesota. It is a good lunch spot with shaded tables and a path around and through a big meadow of wildflowers. The flowers are bright and beautiful this year. I discovered a variety of coneflower with fluttery lavender petals and patches of bright orange milkweed. Both varieties were new to me. On the way, I knit the second foot and toe of a pair of socks, kitchenering up the toe just before we hit the last 45 miles of winding road around the lakes.

While at the lake, I knit on a hitchhiker. I made good progress in the rocking chair and on the return trip to Nebraska.

Since arriving home,  I'm catching up with my own garden. The black-eyed susans are beginning to bloom. This morning I spied an orange tomato in the vegetable bed. High summer season has arrived. I hope summer is treating you well.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


This morning when I stepped out to water the flower pots on the porch, I was greeted by one perfect blossom on a geranium plant. This past Friday we hosted an early 4th of July picnic. I hoped this geranium would welcome our good friends with three or four blooms but it did not. The first blossom had only just appeared but the orange and white impatiens were lush and beautiful. Orange and white is a new color combination for me but I am enjoying it. Who says an old gardener can't learn something new? This ordinary variety is among the genus of 850 - 1000 species. Historically many varieties have been used as a herbal remedy. Currently they are used to study evolution and ecology. Who knew? If you are interested in more information see this link to Wikipedia.

As summer turns up the heat and humidity, I am knitting small projects. The eternal cuff of the second sock increases at the pace of a summer snail but then I would have to knit on it to make progress. Funny how that works. I have completed two pairs of mitts with some very nice details. The twisted rib stitches in the Spring River Mitts make nice crisp edges. Last year, my sister knit a pair of these for me. The color work makes the fabric of the hand double and quite warm. I followed my sister's lead by choosing Koigu yarn - one solid and one variegated skein. Look at the stalk of lavender in the photo. I love how the plant grows two small blossoms toward the bottom of the stalk - a beautiful after thought.

I also knit a pair of Alfresco Mitts. This free pattern is full of designer details that make it a joy to knit. The cables, flowing out of shifted rib stitches, twist opposite directions on the right and left hand. Three purl stitches on either side of the cable keep it from disappearing into the ribbed body of the mitt.

The thumb gusset is thoughtfully constructed. The two stitch rib running up the thumb resumes in the body of the hand. I plan to make two additional pairs to give as gifts.

May the details in your life bring you joy. Happy July!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Labor of Love

This quilt was made in 1882 by Ankey Keaton Hutchison. Ankey, who lived in West Virginia, had no children of her own. However she raised her step-grandson, William Hutchison, my husband's great grandfather. When William decided to move to Nebraska to farm, she made this quilt for him. Using whatever tools were available in the early 1880's, she cut strips of fabric and hand appliqued letters and designs onto them. The strips allowed her to organize the verse and keep the letters in apple pie order. Then she sewed the strips together by hand. This quilt contains many many tiny stitches. William's name and the date are appliqued on the right hand border. Later I learned the verse was a German Baptist hymn. (Valentine, F. West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers: Echoes From the Hills. Athens: Ohio University, 2000)

I think of Ankey, age 42, stitching on the quilt after her chores were done. Carefully cutting each letter and lining them up just so, knowing that when this young man left home she would never see him again. I hope he wrote letters to tell her about his farm, his young wife, and their three children. Even an occasional letter would have been reassuring, knowing he had arrived safely, worked hard, and later had a family. While the hymn was a stern instruction to him on how to live, the gift of this quilt was a labor of love.

My mother-in-law gave the quilt to my husband and I on Valentine's Day, 1993, surely another gift of love and trust. Since then I have stored and cared for it. Every year I refolded it and wrapped it in a clean piece of sheet. Quilt historians recommend archival tissue and boxes and refolding to prevent permanent creasing. Failing archival materials, they suggest wrapping quilts in muslin or "never-been-used" sheets, preferably with no color.

Although this quilt is in good condition, it won't last forever. My husband and I talked with other family members and then decided to donate the quilt to The International Quilt Study and Museum here in Lincoln. This museum is a local treasure with an international reputation. The gorgeous building was specially designed for quilt exhibits, storage, and study. It is worth a visit. The staff will care for the Hutchison quilt and occasionally exhibit it in a way that preserves it for as long as possible. Leaving the museum this week, I wondered what Ankey would think about her quilt becoming part of quilt history in this wonderful place. I hope she would be pleased that her work has and will be lovingly cared for in another new home.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer's Eve

Something about summer's eve speaks of abundant possibility. The outdoors is lush and green without that wilted look of too much heat and sun. My herb garden is growing well. I have enough oregano to supply an Italian restaurant. When I clip herbs for cooking, I pick extra sprigs to dry on a paper towel. I have little jars labeled with parsley, basil, oregano, and thyme. After the herbs dry, I crumble them into the jars for winter cooking. The only drawback to this low tech method is the pile of paper towels that accumulates on the counter. Usually I harvest enough for my use as well as for my son and daughter. They make great stocking stuffers for cooks. The lavender is full of blossoms. The tomatoes and sugar snap peas are flowering. I could grow sugar snap peas just for their delicate flowers. A thunderstorm on Monday a.m. dropped three inches of needed rain, more bounty for the season.

As for knitting, I have new projects on the needles. I finished the Pebbles socks and cast on this pair. I was a wee bit disappointed to run out of gradient yarn at the toe but the yellow made a good sturdy toe. If I had knit a shorter cuff I might have had enough but ripping out the sock didn't make sense. Watching the colors change in this Beach Glass colorway made for quick knitting. I also knit one of a pair of Spring River Mitts.

Since I keep looking (in vain) through my shawls for a more neutral, light colored one to wear with summer clothes, I cast on the Gemma Shawl. The designer remarks that that pattern is just right for summer knitting and she is right. There is a nice easy rhythm in the stitch patterns. I also appreciate her attention to detail at the beginning of the shawl. This yarn came in an enormous skein. I finally split it into two balls because the first became too big to hold in my hand. There will be enough left for another project. I could have knit some kind of short sleeved, short bodied sweater but I bought the yarn for this shawl pattern so away I knit.

Honestly I would like to cast on more projects. Something about relaxed summer days makes me think of three or four other skeins of yarn that I might like to use for mitts or a cowl. Summer's bounty from the natural world spills into my knitting. This side of summer has a richness that will last only a few weeks. Enjoy these June days.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Blue: Old and New

Thursday evening I sewed the buttons on this sweater. I am always amazed to make a sweater that fits. Whew! A slight pulling in on the button band blocked out well. I didn't want to rip it out but I probably would have, given the investment of time and yarn. Even though I alternated skeins, some variation in color is noticeable. The pattern is well written for multiple sizes. The small cables at the side seams and down the middle of the back are a nice detail. I knit a slightly shorter body with fewer increases in the hip area because I wanted an everyday boyfriend sweater, not a bathrobe. The yarn is a little luxurious for everyday wear but I follow the advice of my Gram who taught me to knit."Always knit the best yarn you can afford." Besides it was on sale last Thanksgiving weekend.

I am currently mending a quilt top. I hand pieced, appliqued, and quilted this Basket Quilt from 1989-1991. When I finished, it matched the wallpaper in our previous home but my love of blue hasn't changed much over the years. We used the quilt on our bed for a number of years and then I put it away because it was showing some wear. Since I make quilts and knits to be used and enjoyed, I put it back on the bed this past winter. The top row of blocks needs mending.

After washing it for winter storage, I unearthed a box of odds and ends of old linens, pieces of fabric, and embroidery floss I save in a box labled, "blue - odds and ends."  

Since mending was going to be visible, I began by using the corner of old handkerchief to mend the first block. In a slap-happy sort of way, I'm enjoying finding something in the box for the worn spots. The handkerchief belonged to my Gram although I'm not sure why because she was a gal who favored pink almost exclusively.  

How do you mend?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

I write this post on Memorial Day. Yesterday my husband and I visited cemeteries where our parents and grandparents are buried. We drove Nebraska Highway 15 from Lincoln to the Butler County cemetery, then stopped at Schuyler, and Norfolk. The wind blew across the fields as Lance drove and I knit on a second sock of a pair. He showed me the hill where his mother took him to look for Native American arrowheads (they never found any) but she liked to get away from the house in the tiny town and walk out in the country. I told him about my family's infamous sledding trips in Ta Ha Zouka Park and high school days cruising the main street of Norfolk before pulling into the Double K Drive-In for french fries and cokes. We know these stories well but the day seemed like one for remembering. So we turned off the radio and audiobooks and exchanged stories.

Memorial Day originated with remembering soldiers of the Civil War in the North and the South. Today an article in our newspaper lamented many folks don't practice the true meaning of the holiday, that is to honor men and women who have lost their lives in military service. While I honor those who lost their lives serving our country, I also remember and honor others. Honoring one group does not dishonor the other. I also applaud families and friends who spend time together sharing stories and meals. Honor and remembrance come in many forms.

The word "memory" has several origins. One of the earliest comes from the Latin word, "memor" meaning mindful. Today I am holding stories and dear ones in my mind while I knit the second toe of the second sock. Last week I finished the baby sweater with yarn to spare so I'm knitting a matching hat. The little sweater has a one button closure in the neck ribbing that is currently held in place by a stitch marker. Although I'm tempted to pick out a little duck button, I think a babe would be more comfortable with a smooth round button (sewed on securely) against the neck. I think the sweater is a 6 - 9 month size. By then most babies should be holding their heads up but those big heads do get heavy and come to rest on chests. I have buttons to sew on my cardigan and some two color mitts in the works.

However you celebrate, I hope you have a lovely Memorial Day.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Same Yarn Second Verse

Steady rain has fallen the past three days. The garden is soggy and the iris stand valiantly against the rains. I took photos before the first storm on Wednesday. Long ago, iris were planted on the graves of women to guide them on their journey home. My Gram grew hybrid iris in her yard and so they remind me of her. Practically, iris foliage is green from spring to fall and the tight bunches of rhizomes just under the ground keep the weeds down.

In knitting notes, I ripped out a sock and cast on another pattern. The cable stitches in the first sock made my hands hurt. The Pebbles pattern is easy to knit while chatting with friends or sitting in a waiting room. I knit an Eye of Partridge heel flap with a traditional heel turn and gusset. I am also knitting a baby sweater by the same designer. It is a simple top-down raglan that I may have turned into a yoke sweater because of a different gauge. The sleeves might be more turquoise than yellow as I am playing yarn chicken with yellow yarn scraps. Knitting is nothing but an adventure. My sister contributed the bright turquoise yarn from her stash to make enough yardage. This little joint project will be a charity donation.

I took advantage of these rainy days to make a summer reading list, my version of the public library summer reading program. When I was teaching, the list helped me get through the busy end of the semester to the more relaxed summer school schedule. Sometimes books not listed will appear on my stack of "to-read" books and I rarely read everything on the list. This year's list includes:the latest Maisie Dobbs mystery, In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear, Commonwealth by Anne Patchett and A Piece of the World by Christina B. Kline. Others listed are Dickinson, a commentary on Emily Dickinson's poems, and a book of essays, The Wave in the Mind by Ursula K. Le Guin. These days I try to borrow most books from the local library or interlibrary loan. Then I loosely follow the reading rule given to me by a friend: "When you begin a book, read the number of pages of your age to decide whether to continue or not. After fifty, you get to subtract any number of pages you like."  

I hope you have some lovely summer plans. Memorial weekend is coming up and summer is around the corner.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Shawl and a Poem

My winter knitting projects are finished. Saturday I knit the button band onto the sweater I started in December. I carried my knitting and a cup of tea to the deck. Here I am in my Saturday best, knitting on that beautiful May morn. I hope a good soak and blocking will correct a slight pulling-in on the button band. I often rip out and repair but picking up seventy million stitches on a v-neck was tedious. More spring knitting on the deck, yes please. Picking up all those stitches again, no thank you.

I finished this Soft Sunday Shawl. Shawl knitting is magical unless one tries to memorize a poem at the same time. Isn't it always that "at the same time" that brings trouble to knitting? In honor of poetry month, Sara of Yarns at Yinhoo podcast suggested memorizing a poem. I chose Ted Kooser's poem, "Mother" published in Delights and Shadows. Reciting poetry while knitting is very peaceful but not so good for stitch counts. After redoing two garter sections, I tried one of Sara's tips for memorization. I worked on the poem while walking. The language and rhythm in poetry have physical properties based on sound and breath that I thought about while walking. Learning the poem by heart helped me better understand how all the elements worked together. It also helped me pass time while tilted upside down in the dental chair. You never know when poetry or knitting will come in handy.   

Now I am planning some smaller spring projects, perhaps a baby sweater and some fingerless mitts. While pondering my stash of yarn and patterns, I'm knitting up a few washcloths. Mitered Cloth patterns create a perfect square cloth, a preference of mine. I hope your spring knitting and reading is treating you well.  Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesdays. 

Happy Mother's Day.    

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Apples From a Teacher

If every quilt tells a story, this story is more like a chapter book. In 1990, my youngest child was in kindergarten so I took a part time teaching position. On my way to pick up my students from the bus, I walked by a first grade class and noticed M. reading "Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt" to her students. I stopped after school and introduced myself, telling her I was a quilter. We became friends as she helped me survive a challenging teaching assignment. A few summer mornings each year, we sat on her porch swing and talked of handwork, gardening, family, and education. Eleven years later she decided to move to a mountain valley in western Montana. She spent the next fall and winter in Montana planning and supervising the building of her straw bale home. I took care of her Lincoln home while she was away. That winter she sewed these apple blocks from a free pattern she picked up in a quilt shop in Pocatello, Idaho. When she ran out of red print fabrics, I sent her some from my stash. In the spring, she returned to Nebraska, packed up her belongings, and moved to Montana.

In 2003, she sent me the hand pieced quilt blocks. Living in a small motor home with limited space, she did what women have often done. She used materials at hand, sandpaper templates, a pencil, needle, thread, and small scissors. The stitches are even but the blocks were slightly different sized. I attached strips from my dark green fabrics to square them up. Later as I traveled to and from my parents' home at the end of my Dad's life, I stopped in Columbus, Ne. and purchased the apple print to use for sashing. Last winter, 2016, I cut sashing and machine pieced a top and backing. Since I hadn't purchased enough apple fabric to use all the blocks, I sewed six into the backing. After the holidays, I delivered the quilt top, backing, and batting, to the woman who has machine quilted my last three quilts. She is an artist with a long arm quilting machine. Last week I finished the binding and made a label for the back. I used a label M sent with the quilt blocks as well as the corner of a napkin she had embroidered with the letter M. The label lists the names of all three of us. 

Twice I have visited my friend in her environmentally friendly home in the rugged mountain setting. In her mid-eighties, she continues to live independently. Arthritis doesn't allow her to hand piece or quilt but she sews on her machine, gardens, and knits. She has a closet full of quilts and doesn't want this one. However I made the last three blocks into a table runner and will be sending that to her as a birthday gift. Teachers, we are a persistent bunch.

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


My making this spring is a story of process. I have a shawl, socks, and a sweater on the needles. I finished most of the knitting the Travel Sweater but it needs blocking and button bands, my least favorite part of sweater knitting. The table I use for blocking is filled with fabric and patterns for J's Christmas Quilt. I am almost ready to assemble the quilt top so I don't want to disturb the creative mess in order to set up blocking mats. Procrastination perhaps?

The yarn I used in these mitts has been sitting in a basket near my desk. The colors were so appealing, I cast on a pair of Small Flower Mitts. This is a great pattern for using up leftover bits of yarn. The touch of color work makes them interesting to knit. I knit the flowers from a tiny ball of variegated sock yarn. Since I didn't have enough to match the colors in the mitts, I'm embracing the difference. It is fun to look at all the variations of these mitts posted on Ravelry.

My writing projects are also in process but then most of writing is process. I finished this poem begun two years ago. I offer it here, at the end of National Poetry Month.

How to Enjoy the Prairie in April
April 20, 2017

Breathe into the back of your lungs.
Amble into a draw, dry from lack
of winter snow and spring rain.
Retrace your steps up the swell.
Breathe deeply.

Under the bowl of blue sky, scan
the horizon for a cottonwood
the crone of the plains. Breathe.
Sift through her branches for shades
of green and brown. Smell the fresh
grass. Embrace the wind. Breathe.

Listen to five notes from a meadowlark.
Memorize the ancient melody as it
recedes across the plains.
Study a single white-mountain lily.
Find promise in well cared for land.
Breathe again and again and again.

Copyright by Jane A. Wolfe

Thursday, April 20, 2017

April Color

April and the view outside my window becomes more colorful each day. Although I favor blues, pinks, and lavenders, I watch for green shades creeping into the landscape. This week, the birch leaves outside my window began to bud. I never wear chartreuse anything but after the monochromatic landscape of winter, this color is a welcome sight.

Early in the month, the New England weather also changed before our eyes. On our first full chilly day, we toured the Emily Dickinson Museum. There are two homes on the property as well as a large yard and garden area. Miss Dickinson was an avid gardener so we walked around a good sized garden bed that will be planted later this spring.  A few brave purple wildflowers bloomed under large trees. The home of Austin Dickinson, Emily's brother, is not available due to renovation. Portions of Emily's home, including the conservatory where she gardened and wrote, were also closed. We were able to tour the parlor, another downstairs room, a room upstairs that is temporarily set up with some items from the library, and of course the bedroom where she wrote much of her poetry.  

The guide/volunteer was excellent. He downplayed Miss Dickinson's reclusiveness. Before visiting, I reread an essay on Dickinson by Adrienne Rich (Vesuvius at Home: The Power of Emily Dickinson.) Rich discusses the poet's life from a feminist perspective. Personally I agree with Rich's view that Dickinson recognized her own talent and created a life that allowed her to write. Fortunately for all of us, Dickinson's parents supported their unconventional daughter. She had access to education and a home that included a pleasant bedroom with lots of natural light and a view of a main street in Amherst.

After dinner that evening, we drove around Amherst and happened onto the cemetery where Dickinson was buried. By then it was cold and I wished I'd worn a few warm knits. There is another small museum in the area with Dickinson artifacts. Somehow I missed that in my research before our trip. Touring that museum the next day wasn't in our plans. This grandmother wanted to arrive at our daughter's home in time to walk the kindergartner from school. We were so eager to hug those dear ones. Since our daughter lives not too far from Amherst, I hope to visit again.

On this trip I knit most of a pair of vanilla socks for my daughter. Before we left, I took a photo of five skeins of sock yarn and asked her to choose a color. She picked purple and I used some leftover Opal Smile yarn to add a little pizazz to the vanilla. Knitting a heel flap, heel turn, and gusset on a plane without error made me feel quite accomplished. Turning a heel is such good entertainment. I also made friends with a flight attendant who is a knitter. Knitting really is a universal language. Kate tried on the first sock so now I know the exact length for her sock foot. I jotted the measurement down on my sock recipe card so I am all set for the next trip. Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying the colors of spring.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

April Travels

Earlier this month we visited our daughter and family who live in Connecticut. I knit my version of a vanilla latte sock on the planes, in Amherst, Mass., and down the coast to Old Greenwich, Ct. We spent one day visiting the Emily Dickinson Museum and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in the Amherst area. On a cool April weekday, we practically had both museums to ourselves. The Eric Carle (author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other children's picture books) Museum was beautiful. In addition to three galleries, the museum has an extensive library of children's picture books and a large art room where visitors, old and young, can create a piece of art. I read Carle's books to my children and preschool students. Now, I am reading them to my grandchildren so learning more about his art and personal story is a joy. My ever patient husband and I enjoyed the displays showing how Carle and two other illustrators created the art in their books. Stay tuned for more on the Dickinson museum in another post.

We spent the rest of the days with our family. In between walks around Binney Park to count the snapping turtles, we crashed Monster Jam trucks and raced Lightning McQueen cars. We watched a white egret in the pond and discovered an osprey nest in a utility poll at the train station. We helped? keep three boys quiet in church. How does my daughter do that while her husband is in the pulpit?

One morning the two older boys and I looked at yellow wildflowers in the grass. I called them buttercups, the 3 1/2 year old called them sippy cups. They were neither but labels were not the point.Two warmish sunny days made for afternoons at the beach. One early sunrise, our daughter walked around Tod's Point with us. I couldn't help but wonder if anyone has dyed yarn in the colors of the sunrise - peach, soft yellow, and the most exquisite blue.
Some evenings I knit on a sock while my daughter and son-in-law shuttled three little guys in and out of the tub. As she says, "sand in the tub at the end of the day, means we had a good day." We had six and a half very good days. One evening E. wanted to know what I did with the yarn pieces dangling from the sock. So I showed him how to weave in ends before his bath.

After an all too short week, we boarded a plane with sand in our pockets and hearts full of love. We arrived home to full blown spring complete with blooming lilacs, growing grass, and weeds galore in the perennial flower beds. I wish all of you a heart full of love as you celebrate spring.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Shawl Notes

During this gray cool weather, I completed knitting the body and sleeves of the travel cardigan. Next comes wet blocking, then picking up stitches and knitting the
v-neck and button bands. I need to shop for buttons before I tackle the finish work. In the meantime, I pulled out the Schoonheld Shawl. I worked on it a couple of evenings last week and couldn't find a rhythm in the stitches. I made mistakes in the simple lace pattern. Friday evening I tinked back the same few rows twice before setting it aside and picking up a book. Saturday morning, I ripped out the shawl.

Pashima is luxury yarn and I've admired the well written pattern for quite some time. However this combination was a mismatch. Lately process matters as much or more to me than product. Perhaps this shift is part of growing older. Sweaters often require brain power and finishing fortitude. Cowls are fun to knit while mittens retain a classic construction. Socks are full of whimsy, warmth, and fun. Shawls speak to me of peace. They don't have to fit perfectly. The pattern can be simple, complicated, or somewhere in between. They also make lovely gifts for a special sister, friend, or maybe even a stranger.

From time to time I wonder how many shawls a knitter really needs to knit. I have several large sturdy shawls scattered around the house and I wear them often. In the fall and spring, I often tie an asymmetrical shawl around my neck when I run errands, go out for coffee, book group, or church. Recently I wore one on the first day of spring when I attended the funeral of a highly respected colleague, beloved by her family and friends. That afternoon on my walk, I noticed catkins on the birch tree, yellow forsythia on the bottom of a bush, and white fringe in the top of pear trees. Sometimes one needs a shawl, preferably in yarn of some combination of merino, silk, alpaca, or cashmere.

Saturday evening I began knitting the Soft Sunday Shawl. The knitting is delicious and I am making good progress.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Robin's Wing

Even as the weather swings from warm to windy to rain to snow, spring is around the closet corner. Yesterday the wind blew a gale. The sandhill cranes arrive along the Platte River. This is March in Nebraska.

In knitting news, I cast on two pair of socks, one vanilla pair for take along/social knitting and another called Sunday Morning Socks. I purchased the pattern last December during the Indie Gift Along sale on Ravelry. I am enjoying knitting on the Travel Cardigan. I finally found the rhythm between the yarn and needles. More often than not, staying with a project makes that happen, at least for me.

A few weeks ago on a cold day, I was out walking and found a robin's wing. The beautiful wing was just as it had lain on the bird's body. I saw no other tissue, blood, or feathers in the area. The gray top feathers lay in a cross wise pattern with less than an 1/8 inch of space between them. Both space and feathers insulate a bird from cold and heat. They also allow air to flow through and lift it in flight. Elegant shape and construction protect a bird and allow it freedom. Only this time, neither had been enough.

I pulled a tissue from my pocket and used it to turn the wing over. An outer rim of rust colored down was visible on the underside of the wing. The bone had snapped off cleanly, leaving only a faint hint of blood in the joint. Using the tissue, I picked up the wing with my mittened hand to carry it home. I wanted to look more closely and perhaps save a feather or two. I held the tissue-wrapped wing gently. Several times I looked to make sure it was still in my hand. At home I stooped to lay the wing on my porch in order to unlock the front door. Somewhere, the wing had slipped from my hand and I held only the tissue.

I retraced the last block of my walk. Not finding the wing, I returned home. I never saw it again. Maybe it decomposed in the grass or was picked apart to line a nest. Maybe some drop of fluid in the joint, a bit of bone morrow, or even a morsel of flesh under the rust down sustained a small animal. I hope the wing became part of the natural order of the earth.

As I prepared our evening meal, I glanced out the window to see five or six robins sitting in a tree. Robins winter here so seeing one or two in February is not unusual. Flocks are more common later in March. I nodded to the robins and wished them a safe evening. Then I watched one of the last sunsets of the season.  

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.