Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summer Flowers

Monday I had a massage at Bella, a local spa. Two young women created the business in a charming older house. Customers and passersby walk through a small front yard converted to a perennial flower garden that includes a small fountain and rocks. Tulips, daffodils, and a small flowering tree greet customers in the Spring. This month glorious coneflowers, lilies, and bright campanula bloom. As I walked down the steps through this sweet little garden, three honeybees buzzed around the bright purple campanula and a large yellow swallowtail flitted among the coneflowers. At that moment, all seemed right with the world.

This small space with its shelter for honeybees and butterflies reminded me of an Emily Dickinson poem.

                     In the name of the Bee -
                     And of the Butterfly -
                     And of the Breeze - Amen!

That Emily, she had a playful way with words.

These exuberant mismatched flowers also make me happy. Last evening I worked out modifications for the rose colored shawl. I took the shape and motif from the pattern and gave the shawl a simpler look. I plan to knit two rows of flowers on all three outer edges of the triangle. I think the stitch counts will allow for two rows across the top edge. Three times, I tried to begin the edge pattern by counting backwards from the end of the row. Finally I created a chart on paper and the stitch pattern became clear. Hopefully the flower motif is more visible after the shawl is finished and blocked. If not, the lace edges will stay as a design element. As we say, knitting is a process. 

I am near the end of Anything is Possible. Strout writes well. Her characters are very human and the theme of forgiveness and reconcilation is good food for thought. I am listening to I Was Anastasia: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon. The readers, one as young Anastasia and the other as Anna Anderson, the woman trying to prove her identity, are excellent. The story of the younger Anastasia moves forward in time while that of Anna begins at the end of her life and moves backward. Chapter headings with the narrator's name and dates orient the reader/listener. I haven't found it difficult to follow but did turn it off while I charted the knitted flowers. I couldn't count opposite directions on a chart and keep track of a story moving in opposite directions at the same time. Imagine. I find the book entertaining and intriguing. When and how will the two storylines meet? I also look forward to hearing the author's note at the end of the story. 

One other note: Thank you to all who read these posts. I have had trouble responding to the comments and some have not been able to comment. I had two helpful notes from readers so maybe I have this fixed. At any rate, thank you. You make the world a friendlier, better place.

Linking with Kat and the Unravelers today. Lots of interesting knitting, reading, and gardening going on these days. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Tomato Growing Weather

My Granddad often said corn should be knee high by the 4th of July. Born in 1899 on a Nebraska farm, he knew about hot summer work. After he served in World War One, he came home and found a job selling construction materials for a company called Door and Sash. He never became a farmer but loved working in his garden with an old straw hat on his head. I followed that hat around and learned to love gardening. He taught me that heat and humidity extending overnight is prime tomato growing weather. When he finished working in his garden, he sat down in an old white metal lawn chair in the shade. Dewey (as we called him) was a quiet gentle man with a quick wit. I often think of him as I garden and wonder what he thought about when he rested in that chair.

During this tomato growing weather, my handwork feels as flighty as a butterfly. I reclaimed the rose colored yarn and am currently trying a new shawl pattern. I don't swatch for shawls but just cast on and knit to see the pattern/yarn combination. I completed a bit more of the knitting but am letting it rest to see if I want to continue. In the meantime I cast on a hat that I'll donate somewhere.

Last winter I wore my favorite old walking hat inside out because it was so faded. This seems like a sad state of affairs for a knitter, so I knit a new walking hat from three strands of yarn. As per pattern suggestion, I divided a skein of fingering weight in two and then added a strand of light mohair. Both skeins came from stash. Three strands meant I knit a little more slowly but it wasn't terribly fiddly and turned out to be a good way to cope with constant turmoil of the news.

I am stitching on Christmas quilt blocks for the new grandchild arriving late in September. I cut the blocks, leaving a margin for squaring up later. To date I have finished five of twenty blocks. Quilting, like knitting, is a process - one stitch at a time. The baby won't need this twin sized quilt in his/her crib this Christmas. I just wanted to get started as I think about this new little one. The handwork is a nice break from knitting. 

I am reading Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. This book fills in the back stories from Lucy Barton's (My Name is Lucy Barton) home town. As usual, Strout's writing is excellent and I am enjoying these stories. I have just begun but am wondering how the theme "anything is possible" will play out during the book. 

Linking up today with Kat and the Unravelers.

Happy 4th of July and Happy Tomato Growing Weather.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Three on Thursday

Carol Knits often provides a weekly link for blog posts entitled Three on Thursday. I keep meaning to post on a Thursday so today is the day to give it a whirl. My three things are three grandsons and their three successful school years. These three as well as their classmates everywhere speak to hope and light. They are among the fortunate. Thank you to all the parents who get their children to school and to the teachers and administrators who meet them at the door. It takes a village.

1. Grandson A. completed the eighth grade in Texas. He grew MORE inches while throwing the shot, playing football, basketball, and the bassoon. He and his family hosted a foreign exchange student. A. contributed by sharing his home and his place in his parents' hearts and minds to help a young Brazilian feel comfortable.

2. Grandson M. completed four year old preschool in Connecticut. Early in the school year someone asked him what he was learning in preschool. He replied, "I am learning to be brave." And brave he was as played and learned with new friends.

3. Grandson E. completed first grade in Connecticut. He grew permanent teeth and a new shoe size. He learned to play the piano, read fluently, and write stories. He received a Dolphin Award because he demonstrated the four pillars of the school's motto: Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Fair, Be Gentle.

I have thought often of that motto the last few weeks. It is simple enough for kindergarteners with wisdom for all of us. Have a gentle Thursday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Welcome Summer

A welcome steady rain falls this morning after spectacular thunderstorms last night. The sound is so peaceful. Rain in tomorrow's forecast is a good way to usher in the summer. I love a good thunderstorm that doesn't involve property damage. Do people everywhere begin conversations with the weather? Just yesterday I greeted a technician working on internet connectivity. After saying hello, we both remarked on the gray sky and impending thunderstorm. Weather is part of life on the prairie and it is a nice neutral connection.

A week or so ago, I planted flax seeds in my perennial bed. I love the blue flowers and have tried several times, unsuccessfully, to grow them from seed. This time I spaded up the spot, added composted soil, and watered faithfully on 90 degree days. I was so happy to see seedlings push up from ground. Sunday I walked by and noticed half of what I thought were flax plants are actually volunteer tomatoes. The compost must be rich with tomato seeds because they are volunteering all over our yard. I put several in pots on the patio and they are growing better than the plants from the nursery. There is a lesson here somewhere.

This week most of my knitting comes in pink/rose/lavender shades. Funny how that happens. I knit some on the cowl from scraps. The yarn made nice fingerless mitts but this fabric feels stiff so I bumped up a needle size. Washing will soften the yarn some. I am going to knit to the end of the pale pink and see what I think. I am also unraveling a shawl. The pattern is beautiful but I have never worn it. The shawl is long and skinny with ends that wrap forever. Someone taller could wear it well but on a good yoga day I am five foot one. Our lifestyle is casual. If I can't wear a shawl to places like the farmer's market, grocery store, book group, or church, it doesn't get worn. I love the yarn and so am reclaiming it. Fittingly, I join Kat and the Unravelers, to unravel a project.

I finished reading Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters edited by Thomas H. Johnson. The letters are divided into chronological sections. Each section begins with a short description of Dickinson's life during that time period. Most letters are briefly annotated with relevant information about topics or quotations she included. The book is a fascinating view into most of Dickinson's life. Rather than reading a biography filtered through the lens of another writer, these letters are written in Dickinson's own words. As a reader, I was freer to come to my own ideas about her. This seems like a good way to learn about Dickinson in light of all the speculation about her life. The letters present a witty, intelligent, well-read woman very much engaged with her world. Late in life as her health failed and she wasn't writing poems, her letters remained rich with prose. I have been reading from this book on and off for about six months. Now I plan to read from an annotated collection of her poems.

Tomorrow is officially the first day of summer. Welcome summer reading, rainy days, warm days, long evenings, and even volunteer tomatoes. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Knitting and Reading

"What is so rare as a day in June?" James Russell Lowell

Today in Lincoln is the beautiful June day Lowell wrote about in his poem, "The Vision of Sir Launfal." I just looked up the line and don't believe I've ever read the poem. I enjoy following a line of information to it's origin. Anyway today is a welcome respite from hot days of last week and weekend. In Nebraska, we went from chilly April-like weather to what felt like the dog days of August. Still I am enjoying the warmth of sun on my back and making the most of the long light of June evenings.

This lightweight summer shawl is finished and blocked with the extra ends woven in snugly. I find the weaving in of ends rather hypnotic. As my daughter remarks, "sometimes there is something so satisfying about closure." Maybe that is one reason I enjoy knitting up scraps of yarn. Certainly scrappy knitting means extra ends from using up the odds and ends of projects. I often throw scraps I think will combine well into small bags. This week I pulled out a couple of those bags and cast on some small projects. I made a pair of  scrappy preschool sized mittens over the weekend as the temperature outdoors soared in the high nineties. This other odd little collection of leftovers is going to be a cowl. I am using the pattern for it's sequence of stitch patterns but will knit fewer rows. I don't have enough to knit the pattern as is and I prefer to wear smaller cowls that don't bunch up under my coat. 

This month my book group is reading Homegoing by Yaa Yaa Gyasi. The novel is well written. While the story of the two young African women caught up in the slave trade is quite difficult, I think it is an important story. I am reading it in small bits during daylight hours. I am also finishing Marmee and Louisa. This nonfiction work is an interesting story about two strong women coping with poverty created by lack of women's rights. Poor as they were, they were not subjected to the brutality of slavery. My next read will have to be something lighter.

Linking with Kat and the Unravelers today. Then I am off to enjoy this rare June day, happy that I don't need mittens. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Summer Reading

Although the calendar reads Spring, the longer days speak of Summer and long stretches of time for reading. Growing up, I frequented the old Carnegie Library in our small town during the summer. Often my siblings and I went with our Mom. I can recall the smell of old books, the feel of the oak tables and chairs, and the cool basement where the children's section was located. Moving upstairs to check out books from the adult section was a milestone. Mom had to give the library permission for us to check out adult books a little early. Sometime around 7th grade, I exhausted the few chapter books in the children's section. I wonder if there weren't as many young adult novels in those days. At any rate, our library didn't circulate many. I moved on to Bess Streeter Aldrich and mysteries by Mignon Eberhart.

When I taught on the school calendar, I made a summer reading list each May. Later even though the program I worked in extended to year-round services, I made the list. Pondering books for the list is still one of my summer pleasures. I list a few works of fiction and poetry as well as a healthy amount of nonfiction. Often I include a classic that I somehow have never read. I decide which books I'll check out from the library and what I might buy second hand. Then, surprise, I rarely read strictly from the list. If I begin a book I don't like, I abandon it for another without any qualms. If some unlisted book catches my eye, I read it.

Currently I'm reading a book from my list, Rising From the Plains, an intertwined story of well-known geologist David Love, his family, and the natural history of Wyoming. We lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming for three years so I am familiar with wind and rock in Wyoming. I almost gave up on this book because of all the geological terms. McPhee's reputation for nonfiction is well deserved so I pushed through the first section of geology. I am glad I persisted because the story of the family and how they were influenced by the land is worth reading. In 1905, Love's mother, a Wellesley graduate with a Phi Beta Kappa key, traveled from Massachusetts to Wyoming to teach school. There she was courted by and married John Love, who went to Wyoming to work as a cowboy after being expelled from the University of Nebraska for putting a sign in a Dean's flowerbed. Mrs. Love began a journal on her trip west and continued off and on through most of her life. McPhee quotes from her writing throughout the book. Because schoolmarms were few and far between near the Love Wyoming ranch, she homeschooled her four children in Greek, Latin, literature, and mathematics. She also sewed up cowboys and hosted outlaws. David Love grew up observing and thinking about the geology of Wyoming to ward off the monotony of days working among rocks and mountains. Eventually he earned a phD in geology from Yale. I can't summarize the geological history of Wyoming but learned it is quite unique with many visible layers of rock formations. Reading is meant to stretch our imagination and knowledge, right? And never plant a sign in a flowerbed at the University of Nebraska.

Knitting on the deck has been lovely the last few evenings. After afternoon chores and dinner, I take my ice water and project to the deck, prop up my feet, and knit for an hour or so while the breeze blows in the first days of June. I finished the two pairs of travel socks, a second fingerless mitt, and am almost done with a shawl. The shawl has been easy warm weather garter stitch knitting with a little lace along the edge. Soon I'll need a new project or two, small for summer knitting, but something besides socks. Do you have a favorite summer knitting project?

Joining Kat and the Unravelers today. Thank you to my readers and commenters. I will try Karen's work-around so I can respond to comments again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

My daughter and son-in-law are expecting a new baby in September. We are excited to meet this new little person. This couple chooses to be old-fashioned either not learning the gender or keeping it under their hats until the baby is born. As we say, a healthy baby and Mom is more important than the gender. I knit accordingly to be prepared. Last year about this time of year I finished a little bright little pullover sweater and matching hat. Earlier this Spring I knit a feminine lavender cardigan. Ravelry notes are here and here.

I have given away all previously knitted little girl sweaters to other darling babies as we have four grandsons. I knit this little hat as my husband and I visited cemeteries for Memorial Day weekend. I didn't plan to knit a baby hat on this trip but just grabbed it on the way out the door because it was a good portable project. Then as we left the peaceful rural cemetery where my husband's mother and grandparents are buried and drove north to the cemetery of my parents' graves, I thought how wonderful that this new little soul is connected to the old ones gone before. Besides loving these kids to pieces, grandparents are able to tell family stories from the past. As grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents, we re-member family, linking the past and future of our children.

Since I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers, I'll mention two books. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox was one of Micah's favorite books. It is a sweet little story welcoming babies all around the world, pointing out similarities rather than differences. We still read it together. I am currently reading a paper copy of my book club's June selection, Still Life by Louise Penny.  Last February I listened to the audio and enjoyed hearing the pronunciation of the French words. Rereading this mystery/novel I am now alert to all the clues Penny inserted into the story. I don't know that I will both listen and read the entire series but I am enjoying this version knowing what is coming to the characters in future novels. And of course, visiting Three Pines complete with Myrna's bookstore and the bistro with croissants and cafe au lait, is a pleasure.

I am back to my routine and happy to be here. But oh May - where did you go?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Home Again

I love to travel to see my family and then I am happy to be home safely. A week after the Texas trip we took off for Connecticut. We visited our daughter and her family and had a wonderful time. What's not to love about spending Mother's Day with family? We had so much fun with our three grandsons. Of course, they are growing like weeds. We took a photo to see how their height compares to mine. We will see them again in the autumn and check heights again. By then there will be another little babe and that is exciting too.

We read to all three and walked the two older ones to and from school and preschool. We played and played. My daughter and I took the youngest to the beach one morning and another afternoon we took the preschooler for a short walk in a wooded area. She said this was the first week when the woods were truly green. "Pops", my son-in-law, and the two older boys went into New York City to a Yankees baseball game. They stayed through a rain delay to watch a good share of the game. French fries carried them through the afternoon. We also watched the two older boys' baseball games, t-ball and coach pitch. Something tells me all three boys will play lots of baseball in the future.

My husband and I took a short side trip to Concord, Mass. On a beautiful Spring day we visited the Minute-Man National Park and walked the path of Paul Revere's ride. We crossed the north bridge where the colonists fired "the shot heard round the world" and tried to take a selfie with the iconic Minute Man statue. Another day we visited Old Manse, an Emerson family home, and Orchard House, home of Louisa May Alcott. My grandmother read Little Women to my sister and I when we were girls so Orchard House has long been on my list of places to see. The guide was excellent and personable. Many of the furnishings and artifacts belonged to the Alcott family. We had two full days in Concord, another would have allowed us to see more but we wanted the days with our kids. Perhaps another time.

I am reading Marmee and Louisa, a book written by an Alcott descendent and recommended by the guide. Louisa's mother was not exactly the syrupy sweet mother of Little Women. She descended from the May family of New England and yearned for the Harvard education available to her brother. Later she championed Louisa's desire to write. Alcott's paternal grandmother never had an education and so her son, Bronson Alcott firmly believed that women should be educated. Both of Louisa's parents did their best to educate their daughters. The Alcott family sheltered and aided two African Americans on their way to freedom when Louisa was a girl. Her father supported innovative methods for education. They were an interesting family.  

While I appreciate American colonial history, I would also like to know more about the Native Americans of the area. It was hard to find more than a few sentences about them. Perhaps the Concord Museum would offer information. We didn't tour the museum because we went in search of a late lunch and The Concord Bookshop. Don't miss this independent bookstore if you visit.  

Now it is time to plant my garden. Our local farmer's market will be open tomorrow and I imagine some venders will have bedding plants. Then I will fill in from the local garden centers. Before traveling, I cleaned out the perennial and herb beds. My husband helped me with compost and we spread three wheelbarrows of the "black gold" dirt/compost over the vegetable patch and around the beds. The bleeding heart I was given last year is blooming and the iris are just unfolding their blooms. Today I hope to dodge the rain drops to see what is coming up and how many weeds have sprung back into place while we were away. Have a good weekend. Knitting notes coming on Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Warm Texas Welcome

After being home all winter, we hit the road last week to visit our son Aaron and family who live in Fort Worth, Texas. Our grandson is growing into quite a wonderful young man. We also enjoyed getting to know the foreign exchange student living with them. That adventurous young man is from Brazil. We had a good safe road trip. The Texas crew as well as the weather gave us a warm welcome, sunny with highs over the weekend in the mid-80's. Pretty wildflowers, a pink primrose and some type of orange flower, bloomed along southern Oklahoma and northern Texas roadsides. I was so happy to have the sun on my back and face. On Sunday afternoon, we went on a walking tour/ urban scavenger hunt in and around Sundance Square. By following clues on Jacque's phone, we learned a little about Fort Worth while seeing beautiful old buildings/architecture, city parks, and sculptures. At each stop, the tour provided a puzzle to solve and pointed us toward the next stop. My husband and I had never heard of such a thing so I pass this information for anyone else who might be slightly out of touch with new fangled technology. Groupon coupons apply.

I knit a sock during the 1250 miles we drove south and north. I spelled my husband, driving a little on the way down and back but since he prefers to drive, I happily knit. I arrived home with a few inches on the second sock but ripped that out last night. I wondered if the free pattern had some errors. I checked notes on Ravelery last night and discovered my intuition was correct. (Notes on my project page.) I bought this yarn in the Fort Worth yarn store, West 7th Wool, on a previous trip so it seemed fitting to knit with it on this trip.

I am reading No Time To Spare: Thinking about what Matters by the late Ursula K. Le Guin. I am not a fantasy/science fiction reader so I haven't read her fiction. However these short essays and blog posts are thought provoking, quirky, and witty. The subjects range from her ideas about literature and publishing to events between 2010 and 2016. The essay about old age "No Time to Spare," pulled me right into the book. Animal lovers will enjoy the pieces about Pard, her cat. I bought the book at Watermark, an independent bookstore in Wichita, Kansas. When we drive to Texas, we stay in Wichita on the way down so we don't arrive in Fort Worth during late afternoon traffic. This is a good way to spend time browsing Watermark. The Fort Worth traffic part didn't work so well for us this time as we ran into road construction on I-35 but all was well. I was glad to be knitting as we sat still on the highway. Monday we left Fort Worth before sunrise to drive home in one day. Today I am happy to be home where the rhubarb is up and spring thunderstorms are rolling across the prairie. Rain and warm Spring days are welcome. What are you knitting and/or reading these first few days in May?

Linking with Kat and the Unravelers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Slow Spring

After one glorious warm day on Monday, the temps have dropped and the trees are dripping. Gentle rain fell last night and continues this morning. Usually by now, the flowering trees would be blooming, instead the buds are just beginning to open. This is a year of slow spring. We have slow cooking, slow knitting, and slow reading so why not slow spring? I went out this morning and the air is cool, damp, and so very fresh smelling. I hope to walk a little later. This is a season to savor. 

I reknit the border on the Lavender Shawl. I doubt anyone would have noticed the wonky lace but I am happier to have it fixed. I enjoyed playing with all the shades of lavender. The yarn with three eyelet rows came from an independent dyer who has gone out of business. In 2011, I knit an Ishbel Shawl and a pair of fingerless mitts from the yarn and saved every scrap. The dibs and dabs are part of this shawl. Other leftovers came from a yarn my sister brought me from a trip to Canada and yarn I purchased on a visit to Amherst, Mass. and Connecticut last April. Once my sister and I were going to knit identical shawls so I bought the green yarn. Neither of us finished our shawls and I have been striping the sage green into projects ever since. As we say, every project has a story. 

I cast on the Rockywold Fingerless Mitts as a KAL project for the designer's group, Blue Peninsula. The twisted rib cuff is a nice detail and slows me enough to enjoy the yarn. The mitts are a good small project for Spring. 

Otto The Owl Who Loved Poetry is a charming picture book. The little creatures of the woods listen as Otto recites lines from well known poets Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti and others. They also help him accept himself as a poet-owl. I am currently reading, In Winter's Kitchen: Growing Roots and Breaking Bread in the Northern Heartland by Beth Dooley. Each chapter tells the history and current agricultural practices of a food: corn, sweet potatoes, apples, wheat, cranberries, butter and cheese, and more. This information is available from other sources but it is nice to have it collected and organized in one volume. Dooley includes short personal anecdotes about her relationship and use of the foods. The small publisher, Milkweed Editions, is a favorite of mine. 

I found this early recently opened small purple "flag" iris this morning. I see only one but more are coming. Linking with Kat and the Unravelers. What are you knitting and reading today? 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Poetry Month

April is a good month for poetry. The rhythm in a poem lulls a reader to peace one moment and alerts her to take notice at another. Here we are in April when the rhythm of the season is easily noticed. The weekend snow melts under Monday's sun. The process of freezing and thawing breaks down the hard covering on wild seeds, allowing them to germinate. I am trying to remember that as I get impatient for warmer days.

Poetry originated in the oral tradition before literacy. Early poems and ballads were sung or chanted as a way to remember history, story, and law. They were also offered as prayer and hymn. No wonder rhythm is essential to a poem. Iambic pentameter, a common metrical form in poetry, matches the rhythm of breath. It was probably the longest line an early poet could recite without pausing for breath. I don't think that is coincidence.

I have been rereading poems by William Stafford. He was born in Hutchinson, Kansas and lived in the northwest US much of his adult life. During World War Two, he was a conscientious objector and worked in the civilian public service camps. Stafford is a plain spoken poet with a beautiful sometimes wry sense of metaphor. I hope you read and find a new favorite poem this month.

As far as knitting, yesterday was a day of unraveling. The scrap shawl is back on the needles and I am reknitting the lace border with a small ball of yarn that looks like ramen noodles. The baby sweater is blocking. I am looking for some new projects with an easy knitting rhythm. Linking to Kat the Unravelers this week.

Today I offer one of my poems. I wrote this several years ago as part of a group of poems about containers.

Ordinary Basket

Outside my window, mama robin builds  
a nest of grass and twigs. Working like
ancients, she weaves plant fibers 
into a basket to shelter her babes.

Soon offspring are squawking for food. Days
later she pushes them out, like all women who fill
and empty baskets with ratty socks, ripe apples,
stray buttons, or fresh bread for grieving friends.

Baskets, carefully crafted, carried over arms, mudded
into trees, balanced on heads, or slung across shoulders.
Baskets, heavy and light, older than cloth,
weaving a record of a woman’s ordinary day.

(Copyright, 2015 Jane A. Wolfe)

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Color slowly returns to the outdoors. Patches of our yard are quite green. Yesterday I walked past a row of lilac bushes and noticed the tips of green leaves just visible from buds. The goldfinches have molted from silvery green to bright yellow. Ever so slightly we tip toward warmer days. Much as I enjoy wearing my hand knits, walking without a cowl or scarf wrapped around my neck is freeing.

Lavender is the color of my knitting these days. The Lavender Baby Sweater is knitting up well. A different pattern and a comfortable needle size made the difference. This free pattern is a recipe. The designer doesn't specify body or sleeve lengths. Instructions for the hem read like an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern - finish with the slipped stitch pattern and garter hem as at the top of the yoke. I have knit this sweater twice before and had good results. I made notes but can't find them. Sticky notes on pages of paper patterns have a way of floating away. I plan to tuck a small paperback blank journal into my knitting corner and then use it. Today's sky is hazy from the prairie burn in Kansas so the color is washing out in this photo. 

I also blocked and wove in the ends on this third shawl of scraps. This is my shawl recipe for a boomerang shawl. When I need a peaceful garter stitch knit, I gather up leftovers from fingering weight yarn and stripe them together. I use the shape from the Nurmilintu Shawl. There are other boomerang shawl recipes on Ravelry and any would work. I usually add a few eyelet rows as much for knitting interest as for design. For this particular shawl, I knit the lace border from the Nurmilintu Shawl. The garter stitch was great while my eye healed. I should have waited for new glasses before knitting the border. I plan to rip out the border and reknit it for the third time. I thought I could live with the wonky lace but cannot. I love the symmetry of lace. It's all knitting and will only take a couple of evenings.

I hope your projects are treating you well. As soon as the smoky air blows away, I am ready to poke around in my garden and perennial flower beds. I am looking for green.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Redux: Knitting and a Book

Last week I finished a second pair of About Town Mitts. The simple classic texture was fun to knit and doesn't take a full skein of yarn. I'll likely knit them again. The pair on the right was knit with sport weight. I modified the red and blue pair to knit them from worsted scraps. The blue yarn is Mountain Colors Goat, a yarn I have used to make mittens. The deep colors are a joy to work with in the fall and winter. I lost the label from the red yarn long ago but it also has some mohair content. The two yarns worked well together in this project. They are going in the gift/donation basket. Since finishing the mitts, I picked up my new glasses (hooray for sharp precise vision!) and cast on a baby sweater. Alas I have done some unraveling. Such is knitting life.

I bought this pale lavender baby yarn at an after Christmas sale. I cast on the Louise Cardigan but could not knit the yarn to gauge. I tried twice, with two different sized needles. The sweater body was too large. Sometimes I just knit a baby sweater with my preferred gauge but thought the proportions of this sweater would be wonky. I pulled the second set of 169 stitches off the needle, reclaimed the yarn, and cast on the Seamless Yoked (Baby) Sweater. I've knit this pattern previously. Wish me luck. 

We are traveling to New England next month so I thought I'd read something by women writers from the area. Earlier I read How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson. Nelson was the Poet Laureate of Connecticut, 2001 - 2006. I am in search of poetry by a New Hampshire poet, Patricia Fargnoli. This week I am rereading The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. Jewett's work is a little idyllic but still describes the Maine countryside and inhabitants in the mid to late 1800s. When I reread a book, I'm not in a hurry to discover the ending. I read more slowly noticing new details (or in this case any details) and savoring words, sentences, and paragraphs. Jewett was a friend of Willa Cather's so that makes her writing interesting to me. Jewett, like Cather, writes about ordinary people and the places they live. The places are as integral to the story as the characters. I'm enjoying the old fashion-ness of the story.

Linking with Kat and the Unravelers. Jump on over for reading and knitting inspiration. 

Today the sun has come out and the temps are slowly inching upwards. I think I'll take a walk before it snows again on Friday. I'd rather pass on the winter redux. Ah - Spring. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Welcome to Spring in Nebraska. Chilly rain one day and sunshine the next. Earlier this morning, the sky was bright and blue and now it has clouded over. Cooler weather and precipitation, dare I mention a few snowflakes, are forecast for tomorrow. 

Yesterday my husband and I took advantage of a sunny day to drive out to the Platte River Valley in central Nebraska to view the sandhill crane migration. The Platte, a braided river that meanders around sandbars and shifting islands carries snow melt from the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri River. The short stretch near Kearney hosts the annual stopover of these birds. Between mid-March and early April, between 400,000 to 500,000 cranes feed in nearby fields and settle on the river at night. The average wingspan of an adult is between 5.5 to 7.5 feet. 

We arrived mid afternoon, found a safe place to park on a county road, and watched the birds. Now and then they spread their long wings to move about but generally seemed content feeding on leftover corn under a warm sun. After an early dinner in town, we drove back to the State Recreation Area and walked out on a pedestrian bridge that spans the river.

Standing on that bridge at sunset is magic. During the day, the birds call softly to each other in the fields but as the sun falls lower in the sky they call more frequently. Before the birds are visible from the bridge, their swelling chorus fill the air. Soon a few lone birds and then small groups begin to fly toward the river. And then ribbons of birds appear overhead, flying up and down the river in search of safe place to rest. They don't land near the bridge because too many of us are standing there with cameras and binoculars. Even so, their ancient music is the beginning of Spring. 

Happy Spring, Happy Easter, Happy Passover.
Linking with Kat and the Unravelers



Wednesday, March 21, 2018


March is Women's History Month. I was in college (1969-1973) when my Mom discovered women's history. It was a heady time. She sent my sister and I subscriptions to Ms. Magazine. She was fascinated by the Suffragettes, especially those with ties to Nebraska and Iowa. I still have a news clipping I found in one of her books with a list of these women. She often recommended books written by women, some more widely known than others. She introduced me to Mari Sandoz, a Nebraska author. She gave me books published by small presses written by and about women in the west. Many of them remain on my bookshelf today. Mom was the best as a mother, friend, encourager, life-long learner, registered nurse, and much more.

This morning before writing, I decided to learn a little more about Women's History Month. In 1987, the Women's History Project petitioned Congress to designate March as Women's History Month. Each year Women's History Month has a theme. The 2018 theme is "Nevertheless She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women." At this time there is an effort to raise money to build a Women's History Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Currently more women than ever are running for public office in the United States. And so the effort to represent women continues. As Emily Dickinson wrote, "Hope is a thing with feathers."

Spring's arrival is slow. In the wee hours of the new season, a flurry of wet snow fell. The goldfinches sport the first hint of their brillant summer yellow. Daffodils in my yard are up about three inches and the iris spears are green. I poked the compost for just a whiff of rich soil. The sandhill cranes are feeding along the Platte River in Nebraska.

My knitting has turned to small simple projects. I have the proverbial pair of socks on the needles. On a recent gray day, I cast on fingerless mitts in River, my favorite color in this yarn. Tomorrow I see the ophthalmologist for a new glasses prescription. When the glasses arrive in seven to ten days, I will be able to read with ease. I am grateful the cataracts in both my eyes have been successfully removed and replaced with new lenses. Literally, the possibility exists for seeing the world through new eyes.

Joining Kat and others for Wednesdays Unraveled.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Familiar Lessons

Yesterday we had a taste of Spring. The day was warm enough to walk in shirt sleeves and so I did. Earlier this week, we attended the funeral of an acquaintance who died suddenly. I decided grocery shopping could wait ninety minutes. At the edge of town, I walked on a trail and sat on a bench facing the sun. Later I carried my knitting to the deck. The sun was lower in the sky as the robins and finches sang to each other. I'm sure the dust continued to accumulate in the house but the warm day was too fine not to be outdoors.

On the deck, I bound off the Kindness Shawl. It was a well fought game of yarn chicken. I knew I might not have enough to finish the bind off but decided to try. I ran short so I cut the tails from the cast on and one other place where I had removed a knot in the skein. I used those two little pieces to finish. I confess I tied knots after pulling the ends to the back. That corner is not going to win any prizes but I did finish the shawl without tinking back two long rows. I think I won the game but a sudsy bath and blocking will tell the story. If the ends unravel, I will not.

This shawl will be a donation or a gift.  I am not crazy about the tonal variations and color in this yarn. Both looked better to me in the skein than in the shawl. The yarn has a nice hand and the pattern is easy to follow. It just doesn't seem to be a good match for me. Perhaps someone else will enjoy it. The lesson here is not to persevere when a little voice in my head raises questions. How many times do I need to be reminded that not all projects need to be finished? The yarn would have made great socks.

Today the sky is partly cloudy and the day is not as warm. No matter, my Texas grandson and his mother are in town and we are meeting them for pizza this evening. That will be sunshine enough for this day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Ready for Spring

Welcome March, the month of windy mercurial weather, winter one day and spring the next. Today looks more like winter with the latest skiff of snow on the ground. The color block sweater is finished. I will enjoy wearing the sweater into the early Spring. Except for the cuffs, I used yarn leftover from two projects so my stash is a tad bit lighter. You know you are a knitter when you order yarn for a project that was supposed to be knit from leftover yarn.

After we photographed the sweater, I looked down at my feet. You know you are a knitter when you wear out one of a pair of hand knit socks but save the other to wear with another sock missing its mate. The lavender sock has been in my drawer since last winter waiting for a mismatched mate.

While the sweater dried, I knit on this shawl from another skein of yarn buried in the stash. It feels good to knit with yarn and patterns on hand. I picked the color to remind me of the spring flowers that will soon push up from the ground.

I am listening to Personal History by Katherine Graham. Graham became the publisher of The Washington Post after her husband's death. She experiences many privileges from being born to a wealthy parents. However she also experienced some anti-Semitism due to her Jewish heritage through her father. My Dad was a Circulation Manager of a newspaper and my brothers continue to work in the field so I am interested in the autobiography from the standpoint of newspaper history as well as the education and professional life of this strong woman. 

I am reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, a light hearted, feel good literary romp set in a small town in Iowa. It is good company for recovery from cataract surgery late last week. This is my second eye to be repaired and the procedure went well. I plan to have new glasses in time for Spring travel. 

Joining Kat and the Unravelers. What are you knitting and reading this week?