Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Travel Knitting and Reading

Where shall I begin this post? Late last Thursday, we returned from a wonderful week with my daughter and family. We celebrated the week with as much fun, laughter, and love as was possible. Our four active grandchildren shared their joy with us. After all the violence in the world, I just needed to put my arms around all of them. Mission accomplished - over and over. We attended baseball and T-ball games, cheered the three youngest in a one mile race, went to church, walked to and from school, threw beach balls to children bouncing on the trampoline, baked brownies, read stories, admired stuffed animals, and attended Emmett's Sailing On Ceremony. I know it's a cliche but its hard to believe he is off to middle school in the fall.  

As a belated Mother's Day gift, my daughter and I spent an afternoon in New York City. As unabashed women from Nebraska, we took selfies all afternoon. Why not be a tourist? The highlight of the afternoon was seeing Hamilton. The performance was excellent. How do those performers, perform the same roles over and over?  The time with Kate was wonderful. I told her we were tucking the spirit of my Mom in our pockets. Mom loved live performance and made the most of offerings in our area. Once or twice, I heard her wish she could attend a production in NYC but never did so. We arrived in the city a little early and walked a circuitous route to the theatre. My step-count was up the entire week in Connecticut. 

I have a bit of knitting so I will link with Kat and the Unravelers. My travel knitting, mostly done on the plane, was a pair of Vanilla Latte Socks out of Fibernymph Dye Works yarn. As you can imagine, the last thing I thought about was knitting identical stripes. In fact, I'm not sure it would be possible with Lisa's Pi colorways. Somewhere over the middle of the country, I knit a heel flap and turned a heel. The colorway is a little wild but socks are a good place for crazy color. This is the first time I've knit with Fibernymph yarn and I like the hand and the soft sturdy socks. The second sock needs a toe which I hope to finish this evening. As I reenter my usual routine, the socks are good knitting and will remind me of this trip. I like to spend a day or two after I come home recalling and savoring the days away. 

While away, I finished the book, 
Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer. I was disappointed in this novel based on the story of Len Howard, a British woman who was unconventional for her time. In fairness, the novel is translated from the Dutch, but, in my opinion, the story could have been much more richly imagined. The book was a description of the events of her life, as in this happened and then this and then this . . . and on to the end. Fiction leaves room for supposing what Howard was thinking as she went through her life. It wasn't the best nature story but I did finish it. I'm currently reading a Ruth Galloway mystery, The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths. Ruth and the cast of characters feel like old friends. This week I need something predictable and this book came up in my library holds. 

Where did the June days go? Be well and safe. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Slow and Steady

Summer has arrived a little ahead of the calendar. The temperatures this week are sizzling, as in 100 degrees. I wonder how this early heat will affect tomato plants as they set on fruit. I walked quite early this morning and the wind was already blowing a gale. Perhaps it will blow up some rain. I've noticed summer is a season for spinning. Maybe that's because one can work with fiber without having it in your lap. I don't have a spinning wheel but maybe treadling a wheel creates air flow or is that wishful thinking on my part? 

At any rate, I spin a little most days. This week I finished making yarn from a braid of Heathered BFL from Greenwood Fiberworks. The heathered part of the BFL takes dye in a way that left a gray streak in the purple and blue fiber. If I had not seen someone else's photo of their spinning with heathered BFL, I would not have tried it. The fiber from this company is predrafted and not compacted when it arrives. I found it easy to spin. 

I spun singles on two spindles. After the singles rested, I wound them onto a Turkish Spindle for plying. Turkish Spindles come apart leaving little yarn "turtles." I use flower pots to keep the turtles from tangling and then spin a two ply yarn onto a spindle. There are disadvantages to plying this way. The singles are not taunt and sometimes pigtail back on each other. The other "physics" principle is that spin of a spindle naturally slows down so twist going into the yarn varies. At least I think that is what happens. However this method is better, in my opinion, then winding singles into a plying ball. I find making plying balls extremely tedious. It is also easy to have less tension in one single than the other requiring cutting them and realigning in a new skein. Then I end up with even more short skeins. 

Anyway, I have approximately 400 yards of this yarn. I knit a little swatch and got an average gauge of 5 stitches to inch on size five needles. It looks like my default sport weight handspun. 

So now I'm thinking of the possibilities for knitting it into a project. Likely I'll combine the handspun with some commercial yarn. The colors of the swatch look darker in the photo but they would go nicely with gray. 

I have a busy week ahead so I am posting early. Stay cool out there. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Hello June

June is my favorite warm weather month. Generally the days are warm but not oppressively hot and humid. The garden green promises sun-ripened tomatoes and fresh cucumbers. Herb and flower beds are mostly free of weeds and insect pests. Long evenings of light are a balm for our weary souls. This week we ate several evening meals on the deck and caught sight of a yellow swallowtail butterfly on the flowers of the Japanese Lilac Tree. 

After last night's thunderstorms, this morning is cool and bright. I walked in a long sleeved tee with sun warming my back. Basil in pots thrives. Most of the transplanted strawberry plants are surviving the rabbits and squirrels. I replanted the cucumber hill. The front yard with the patch of winter-kill and over grown bushes needs attention but that is why I tend the yard and garden. It needs tending and the changes get me out of my rut. Well - sort of. I am a creature of habit.

I do enjoy the Wednesday routine of writing a post and linking with Kat and the Unravelers. This week I knit some fingerless mitts from leftover self-striping sock yarn. The cable was fun and kept the knitting interesting. Color-wise, the mitts aren't an exact match but fairly close. I played yarn chicken with this project and was happy to have enough to finish the thumbs. Knitting up leftovers is so satisfying. Do you feel that way or do you give away and/or toss the leftovers? 

When I toss the stash in January, I create the "up next" bin and put it on top for easy access. Sometimes I knit from that bin and sometimes I don't. Right now, the contents appeal to me so I cast on another Forager Sweater. This is the only sweater yarn I have in stash and I'm happy to knit with it. Time and knitting will tell if the yarn/pattern combination works well together. 

I read The Ghost Orchard: The Hidden History of the Apple in North America by Helen  Humphreys. I found this little work of nonfiction more cohesive than The River. I also learned a great deal about apple varieties and orchards. I had never considered that Native Americans tended apple orchards. Humphreys counters the Johnny Appleseed story with one about a woman named Ann Jessup. She also wrote about Robert Frost's orchard as well as watercolorists who were part of the USDA's effort to disseminate information about apples to prospective growers. Plates of the watercolors are included in this book. They are beautiful. My library didn't have this book so I found a nice used copy online. I am also reading The Painted Drum. Interestingly, Erdrich writes about an apple orchard in the novel. 

As I finish this post, a wee (young) chickadee hangs upside down in the birch. House finches feed youngsters at the feeder. The little ones with tufts of down remind me of typical toddlers. They make me smile. I hope you are enjoying these rare June days. 

Ravelry Links



Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Happy Graduations

Good morning. The sky is partly cloudy and the air is cool for the first of June. As sunshine comes from behind the clouds, I think of my Mom. When she noticed a patch of blue in a cloudy sky, she stopped what she was doing to say, "oh look, there's a little bit of blue sky." She found such joy in life. She would have loved this past weekend when our family celebrated two public high school graduations. My niece graduated with honors in Montana and our grandson graduated in Texas. I wish I could have been at both graduations. My sister and husband drove to Montana to celebrate with my brother and his daughter. My husband and I met our daughter in Texas to celebrate with our son and his family. We are so proud of both graduates. 

Our warm Texas weekend was full of family, joy, and hope. Austin is college bound with an academic and athletic scholarship. When the doors of the arena opened to five hundred and twenty five diverse graduates smiling from ear to ear, I was moved to tears. Pomp and Circumstance does that to me but this year felt particularly poignant. I felt a mixture of joy and sadness. The school years of these young people were not marred by senseless gun violence. All children deserve to be safe at school and in their communities. 

At any rate, there is nothing like a long road trip with audiobooks for finishing a pair of socks. I do not recommend the pattern I used. It is a free revised pattern but contains several errors. I also knit two dish cloths and am almost to the end of the dishcloth yarn. Here's a word to the wise knitter: a skein of KnitPicks Dishie has almost double the yardage as Sugar and Cream. By the time I knit up the 4 skeins I bought for potholders (and only crocheted two), I'm going to have extra dish cloths for gifts. 

Before we left town, I listened to The Henna Artist, a novel my local group is discussing soon. The reader was great. The descriptions of Indian cuisine, fabric, and Hindu customs were lush with sensory detail. The characters were very human. I could predict some plot turns but the armchair travel to India made a great audio book for me. 

Since I end with knitting and reading, I'll link with Kat and the Unravelers. May this new month of June bring warm sunny gentle days. 

Ravelry Link

Valentine Socks

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Gray Skies

Rain falls from a gray sky this morning. Earlier I took a walk in a light mist. A lovely much-needed soaking rain fell all day yesterday and will continue today. After some quite warm days, the temperature fell to the fifties. Sunday to Monday the overnight low was 36 degrees. I dragged the basil pots from the patio into our walkout basement and pulled the petunias close to the house to shelter on our small front porch. Yesterday I wrapped up in a shawl and knit on a charity project.  

My knitting is not terribly inspired this week. I knit a few more rows on the second sock of a pair. Sunday I pulled a skein from the "up-next" stash bin. I love the soft blush pink of this locally dyed yarn. I thought about casting on a hitchhiker but decided on a lace sampler scarf. I knit one several years ago in a deep teal and have worn it often. I'll follow the same recipe but vary the lace patterns. 

Sunday was a beautiful day. Before working in the yard and garden, I read for an hour or so on the deck. This little guy kept me company. He didn't know enough to be afraid of me. My current daytime read is The House of Life: Rachel Carson at Work. The author, Paul Brooks combined information about Carson's methods of writing and research with excerpts from her books. Brooks served as editor for a number of her books. The excerpts are long enough to give the reader a sense of her prose. I read one about a shore in the Artic and was struck by the way she conveys the interconnectedness of life along and in the sea. This wouldn't be a book for everyone but I am enjoying it. I ordered an inexpensive used copy as it was first published in 1972 and reissued in 1989. The book was cost one dollar but the shipping was more.

I also read a used copy of The River by Helen Humphreys. In The Lost Garden, a novel by Humphreys, the main character wrote several letters to Virginia Woolf. As I read The River, I wondered if Humphreys was influenced by Woolf's style of writing. The book meanders (as the river) between history, physical description of the area, and short pieces of fiction. It is beautifully illustrated with photography, a few old photographs, and art work. Once I noticed the change in background color that denoted the short fiction I found it easier to follow.  

I am off to write a note to my Congressional representatives to request gun regulation. It isn't much but it is what I can do. I'll leave you with this message from my slightly askew kitchen.  

Ravelry Link

Lace Scarf

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Gardening and Knitting Notes

Last Saturday my husband and I planted the tomatoes and cucumbers. A generous neighbor was thinning her prolific strawberry bed and offered plants to me. I now have a raised bed planted with starter strawberry plants. I need to cover it to keep out the rabbits and squirrels. I potted petunias and coleus for the front porch. I am a thrifty gardener. I would rather spend my hobby money on yarn, fiber, and good coffee so I stick to basics in the yard. The old-fashioned smaller variety of lavender iris are blooming. They aren't as showy but they have a wonderful fragrance. Iris always remind me of one of my Grandmothers - Gram. She had lots of pretty flowers, including irises, in her yard and was happy for my sister and I to pick bouquets any time. This yellow iris is just beginning to bloom. According to Wikipedia, Iris takes its name from a Greek word meaning rainbow. Iris is also the name for the Greek goddess of the rainbow. As Iris come in a rainbow of colors, the name seems fitting. 

This campanula, next to the chives, is a happy accident. Six or seven years ago, I bought a small pot to use as a centerpiece on a serving table. I stuck it in a corner of my herb garden and it grew and thrived. This year it is so pretty. I stick plastic forks around new plants to keep the critters out. It deters them some but didn't stop someone from getting into the parsley. 

Since I finished the shawl and sweater, I'm enjoying some smaller projects. I knit another slip-stitch dish cloth from Sarah's pattern and am now working on one using the waffle stitch that Kym mentioned. I knit this hat because I wanted to improve my colorwork knitting. It's a nice pattern. When I was a girl, Gram taught me to knit. She taught me the knit and purl stitch and to cast on and bind off. Otherwise I picked up techniques, including colorwork, from books, magazines, and most recently from the internet. My method of catching floats never worked well. Last year I found this 
tutorial on Modern Daily Knitting that was so helpful. Sometimes I get so stuck in my way of doing things that I forget to look for a better way. In this hat pattern, there were only two rows where I needed to catch a float but it was a nice little project. I really enjoyed working with the Juniper Moon Farm Moonshine yarn. I don't know that I'd knit a sweater with it but mittens would be quite warm and soft. 

Finally, look at this basil. Last year, the basil in pots produced well. I hope it does as well in this location again. Here's to the hope that comes with Spring.

Ravelry Links

Laurus Hat

Wash/Dish Cloths


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Colors of May

Warm hot days have arrived this week. The trees are the brilliant shade of Spring chartreuse-like green. Soon they will deepen into summer's green but for now the color looks so fresh. The ninety degree temperatures feel warm. In two days, I went from walking while wearing a light jacket, cowl, and fingerless mitts to T-shirts and shorts. During May, I hang an oriole feeder with half of an orange in the back yard. Yesterday two pairs of Baltimore Orioles vied for spots on the feeder. They are so brilliantly colored and fun to watch.

Our son came to attend a funeral and is working remotely from our home. He came to support a good friend but it has been grand to have him around. On Mother's Day we made dinner together, a veggie lasagna, salad, and his "killer garlic bread." We had the nicest kind of Mother's Day. 

As we barrel toward summer, I link with Kat and the Unravelers. The best knitting news is I finished the Prairie Shawl. We took photos yesterday morning in 84 degree weather. Except for a few strands of leftover cream and the swath of the deepest blue, the yarn is handspun. The Polworth is warm so I won't be wearing it until Fall. I used the shaping and some stitch patterns from a commercial pattern calling for fingering weight yarn but this yarn was slightly heavier. The shawl is a generous size and may not be perfect but I was able to incorporate much of this spinning project. I like it.

Although my wool sock wearing season has ended, anytime is a good time to knit socks. I finished a speckled sock and cast on the second one.  I also knit a little on the Guernsey Scarf.  This advent set was a birthday gift last year. I'm enjoying the knitting and adding colors in the order in which the dyer numbered them. The DK wool is wooly and warm so this project may rest over the summer months. 

I'm in a reading lull. It's time to make my summer reading list. I recently ordered two used books by Helen Humphreys. I am waiting for a few holds from the library so I picked up an older book by Terry Tempest Williams. An Unspoken Hunger: Stories From the Field was published in 1994. This collection of essays weaves together William's personal experiences with her passion for the natural world. For me, her writing stands the test of time and is worth rereading. 

I hope May is treating you to some bright colors. 

Ravelry Links

Prairie Shawl 

Speckled Socks 

Guernsey Scarf