Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Mid-October

Rain fell last night, easing dry conditions. I woke to the gusts of wind. This morning I saw the first junco of the autumn/winter season. Now, the Autumn sun shines on the yellow and gold birch leaves promising a beautiful breezy day. My dear sister is coming over for lunch. We will chat, catch-up on our grands and knitting, and remember our brother John. Knit Paper Scissors, a local yarn shop, has new fall yarns so who knows, we may wander over there before she drives home. 

Today Kat hosts Unraveled Wednesday so I am linking to the Unravelers as we write about knitting and reading. 

Norah's sweater is beginning to feel like a saga. I'm going to block or steam the button bands one more time. Last night I discovered the width of the side with the buttons was two rows short. I took out the bind-off and added the rows. I used the one-row buttonhole as suggested by Sarah and Kym and am reasonably happy with them. I also used this Modern Daily Knitting tutorial on knitting button bands. The ends at the bottom of the sweater could be neater. I almost ripped them both out and started over but I didn't. I'm hoping blocking sorts them out. Famous last words, right? I bought some buttons at JoAnn's last week and when I got them home, they didn't have shanks on the back so I returned for an exchange. I will be glad to sew on the buttons and weave in the last ends on this project. 

I knit a little on the Fractal Danger scarf. The tonal yarn is lovely and one of my favorite shades of blue. I am also working on a hat as a Christmas gift. I'm using DK yarn instead of worsted but other than the length which I added, the hat is an easy project. The yarn is from a local dyer so that is fun. 

Last week I pulled an older book, Life in a Day by Doris Grumbach, off my shelf and reread it. This quiet honest memoir of a Maine day in Grumbach's life was what I needed. I am late to the Hamnet party but waited to read it with my local book group. I am barely into the book but am enjoying Farrell's writing. 

I hope your knitting, spinning, stitching, gardening, cooking and/or reading is treating you well. 

Ravelry Links

Norah's Sweater

Fractal Danger

Red Pennyroyal Hat



Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Knitting and Reading Notes

The sky is overcast and the air smells dusty. I don't know if our county is listed with drought status but if not we must be close. Rain has not fallen in our part of town since sometime before we left for Connecticut on September 14. I watered before we left because the garden was dry. The nights are cooler with temps dipping into the 50's now and again. I am ready to leave the 80-plus degree days until next Spring.

Thank you all for your kind words of sympathy. The love from family and friend, including blog pals, carries us through life's losses and griefs. Some nights I have just held onto my knitting and other times I've added some stitches. One night I knit on the garter stitch Fractal Danger scarf/shawl but not enough to show much difference in a photo. 

The knitting on Norah's sweater is almost finished. After knitting the neck edge and one button band I blocked it again to make sure the button band was flat. Success. The button band with the buttonholes remains as well as tacking down the pockets. I enjoy weaving in ends and don't mind seaming but oh the buttonholes. They never look as crisp and even as I'd like. Do you have a favorite buttonhole technique? I wanted the buttons to match the lavender pocket lining but my local fabric shop didn't have a great match. Shades of purple are tricky. The buttons laying on the sweater came from my grandmother's button collection. They are somewhere between pink and lavender. I'm not sure I like them. I plan to try JoAnn's and see what I can find. Something whimsical would be fun and Norah is old enough not to think that a heart or star or bow is candy and goes in the mouth. 

I finished the latest pair of travel knitting socks. The texture os the SKYP stripe in a stockinette sock was the right mix for planes and airports. In my opinion (and I always have one), the sock yarn base hit the sweet spot of not too light and not too heavy. One of my local yarn shops sells it and it is also available online.  

I finished reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte. Bronte's writing stands the test of time. I'd have been lost without the annotated version that translated the many French phrases and sentences. The narrator/heroine of the story leads the reader on a winding path. Several times I thought I could predict the plot only to find I was wrong. This plucky heroine establishes herself as a teacher and in several instances holds her own in difficult situations and against societies norms. The sleight of hand in the plot and the independent young heroine make it an engaging novel. This book reflects the time in which it was written but as I read I thought of Toni Morrison's words from a piece in The Source of Self-Regard, "Who is absent in this story?" 

Kat is enjoying her family this week so there is no link to the other Unravelers. I suspect they are still posting. We knitters and readers are an intrepid bunch. 

Here's to Autumn. 

Ravelery Links

Norah's Sweater

Traveling Socks


 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

This Season

Autumn has arrived. Yellow birch leaves fall on the front yard. The maples are turning red and the remaining Ash trees begin their transition from a tinge of gold to deep eggplant. Last Wednesday I walked in the morning and purposely took the route around a huge block that includes a park and public elementary school. I walked that way so I could stand at the crest of a gentle slope that affords a wide open view of the sky. That morning clouds were building in the northwest ahead of a cool front. Sunlight from the east meant the northwest sky was that autumn gray-blue with undertones of lavender that I love so much. 

I came home intending to write a blog post. While looking over my knitting for the post, my sister called to tell me our brother John, 67,  had passed away. He and his wife and one daughter were on vacation when he died unexpectedly. They were at a beach house enjoying the outdoors they loved. 

And so the season changes. While our hearts are heavy, we are richer for having had John in our lives. He was a wonderful brother, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Whether he was sledding with his grandchildren, training labrador retrievers with his daughter or friends, or smoking a rack of ribs for a group, he loved the outdoors. His successful newspaper career took him all over the midwest working as circulation manager and then as publisher/editor of several papers. Wherever he and his family lived, they made a circle of close friends. He was a good partner as we helped our parents through the end of their lives. As my sibs and I became increasingly busy with our own families, John checked in via phone with all of us. Usually once in every conversation, he'd say, "We should all get together." We should have done that more often that's for sure. Sometime later we will gather to celebrate his life. He wanted to get us together but I'm pretty sure this isn't what he had in mind. 

James, John
Jane, Julie

This past June my sibs and I had a few golden hours together in Minnesota. I am grateful for that time and for the photos we took. We all will miss him. 

This autumn, he and his family, as well as others who have lost loved ones this year will be on my mind. The falling leaves are a gentle bittersweet reminder to let go with grace. To everything there is a season. 




Friday, September 24, 2021

It's Friday


After my husband and I moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1979, my Mom called me on Friday evenings to chat. She greeted me with a cheery, "It's Friday." We continued to call each other on Friday nights long after we moved to Lincoln and were only two and a half hours apart. Those calls were a joy after our work weeks. Writing this Friday TGIF post reminds me of her. She would have loved these great grandchildren.

A Nebraska t-shirt in Ct.

Thinking:  I am thinking about our recent visit of ordinary days with my daughter, son-in-law and family. We walked the three brothers to school, played the card game Uno, threw a big ball back and forth over the trampoline net, made chocolate sand pies, walked the cemetery loop on the church grounds, read at bedtime, and watched a squash plant grow in the backyard. We also celebrated Emmett's 11th birthday and Norah's 3rd birthday with their choice of dinners and decor. Emmett requested an "All American barbecue" dinner with veggie burgers, potato chips, dill pickles, sweet corn, watermelon, beans, and apple pie with ice cream. His table decor included a checked tablecloth and plastic ants crawling down the table. Norah had a Minnie Mouse party with a Nacho dinner. Kate made Minnie Mouse cupcakes. We all wore Mouse ears. Pre-Covid, the kids also chose a special birthday event, like a visit to the local nature center, touring a museum in NYC, or attending a major league baseball game. The kids love this tradition and have fun celebrating each other's birthdays. What's not to like about plastic ants topped with marshmallows and Minnie Mouse cupcakes? Avoiding the hoopla of kid-birthday-party-creep is smart.

Grateful: I am grateful we have the resources to travel and return home safely. We all tested for Covid before traveling. We wore N-95 masks on the travel days. Of course, the adults are vaccinated. I am grateful we could provide childcare so my daughter and husband could have a "working" night off. He officiated a wedding but still they were out for a few hours. We fed the kids and put them to bed on time. We had a great time together and no blood was shed. 

I love to visit my kids and I also love to come home. We fall back into our routines easily. Last night the weather was beautiful, so we carried our dinner out to the deck. The tomatoes are still producing although not as prolifically which is fine by me. It's time to collect zinnia seeds for next year.  


Inspired: I am inspired by Kym's September Thursday posts on fall gardening. In these posts, she writes about what, why, and how to take care of a garden in the autumn. These posts are full of good information and interesting links. This morning I brought in two begonias from the front porch. Overnight temperatures have dipped down to the high forties twice. The weekend promises 90 degree highs but fall is in the air. Nature with its gentle insistence on change is comforting. Yesterday I picked up fresh pumpkin pie spice and a can of pumpkin. I don't want pumpkin in all my food but I do like pumpkin muffins. 


Fun: While in Connecticut, I got my first temporary tatoo - Minnie Mouse. Since it is washing off, Norah is sending me another. "Tatoo on Grammy!" Who-boy - I don't think my kids can believe it. Even though I have a pair of socks on the needles, I cast on another pair for traveling knitting. Between air traveling and a busy household, I needed a simple pattern. Here's a bit of fun. I ordered this yarn because I thought the gold and rust speckles on a cream background looked like fall. Turns out the background had a rose tint. Oranges and browns have never been my favorite colors to wear. I tried to order an autumn color but chose rose gold despite myself. The yarn has a lovely hand and I love the colors.  


 Ravelry Link  Traveling Socks

Gentle readers, I hope all is well with you. I wish you beautiful days of early autumn weather and no ants on your picnic tables. Have a good weekend.




 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Walking into Seventy

Last Thursday was my seventieth birthday. I had a lovely day, talking and texting with my sweet family and friends. My husband brought me a bouquet of roses and I tried out a new spindle. Like most everyone else, I don't feel as old as my age. As far as I'm concerned, I'm as young as I feel. Mary Pipher in her book Another Country, wrote about two periods of age, the young old and the old old. Today we are fortunate to count ourselves among the young old with plenty of laugh lines and gray hair creeping in around the edges. I'm well aware that we could join the old old group at anytime. 

For the record, I have never colored my hair. I inherited my dark hair from my Mother. She didn't turn gray until after seventy. When my hair grays, I'll consider it a badge of honor. I also believe that old age is an honor. My mantra is each day is a gift. I aim to age with as much grace as I can muster. Along the way, I'll knit, spin, read, write, and enjoy my family and friends. I walk almost every day. Walking is a good metaphor for life, one thoughtful step following another with plenty of time to breathe and enjoy the moment. I'm walking into seventy with gratitude for each day. 

Today is a glorious early autumn day. When we left on our morning walk, the temperature was 59 degrees and the sun was shining. I wore a sweater. Some maples in the neighborhood sport a few red leaves. I plan to venture out again today just to soak up the day. I potted some bronze mums last evening. Saturday the temps are going back up into the mid-nineties and two weeks of summer remain but the season is turning to my favorite, Autumn. 

This Wednesday I''m linking with Kat and the Unravelers to post about knitting and reading. My birthday cast on was a shawl incorporating some handspun Cormo and a commercial yarn. I enjoyed playing with the yarns but the colors didn't work together the way I thought they would. I'm going to unravel the project and ponder what to knit with the handspun. In the meantime I'm making good progress with Norah's sweater. I put in some textured pockets and knit a light lavender lining for the pockets. When I finish the second sleeve, I will block the sweater and stitch down the pocket lining and trim. Then I'll knit the buttonbands. I made a little progress on my current sock project.


I listened to two audiobooks that I enjoyed. Both novels had two storylines, although The Keeper of Lost Things was more intricately done with short stories as part of one story. The Keeper of Lost Things also had a bit of realistic magic that was fun. One of the main characters was a young woman with Down Syndrome. It was nice to see her included. The Lions of Fifth Avenue contained some interesting history about the New York City Public Library and women's history in Greenwich Village, beginning in 1913. Both of these novels had strong but not perfect female characters and tidy endings. With so much going on in the world, two light novels with both of these features were comforting.  

I hope wherever you are, the season is beginning to turn with cooler calmer days ahead.  

Ravelery Links

Norah's Sweater

Couplet Socks

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Hello September

September blew in with a very welcome cool breeze. I wore a long sleeved cotton tee on our walk this morning. We had an early morning thunderstorm on Monday but could use more rain. The backyard still has big cracks in the ground. Today is the first day of school for my Connecticut grandchildren. Jonah starts kindergarten. The sky looked like rain so he wore his firefighter rain jacket. My Texas grandson started his senior year late in August. It is hard to believe he is a senior looking at colleges. Sometimes the days are long but the years are short.

The first day of school is a tender moment but this year feels especially tenuous. The Connecticut school district has a good Covid protocol, beginning with masks. The PTO provided drawstring bags for each child. Families add an extra mask, hand sanitizer, and a beach towel for outdoor breaks and lunch. These three boys have been learning at home since late February 2020. They packed their backpacks and were excited about school and seeing their friends. Their parents are taking a leap of faith with a heaping amount of courage. With my heart in my throat, I'm holding a good thought for ALL school children today. A Covid vaccine for children under twelve can't come soon enough. Norah is going to be lost without "the brothers" at home. I foresee sparkly nail polish on her nails by the end of the day. It is the one girly thing she enjoys. She would rather run the bases or ride her scooter than play with a doll and that is fine by all of us. 

Moving onto the knitting and Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends. This week I made good progress on Norah's sweater. I finally found the rhythm for this project so it is my evening knitting. Sometimes it just takes awhile. The back and forth stockinette is peaceful and I like the heathered color of the yarn. Last night I put stitches on waste yarn for the pockets. I'm using the pocket instructions from the Cricket pattern with a slight modification in stitch numbers. Fingers and needles are crossed in hopes that I figured this out correctly. 

I started on a new spinning project and these two singles are ready to be plied. I am sectioning off each color to spin in separate but graduated colors. I plan to use the gold yarn in one project and the gradient of blues in another. Time and spinning will tell. Spinning is teaching me to let go of expectations and see what happens. I let the fiber be what it wants to be. I'll decide on projects after creating the skeins. Honestly, it's about as wild as I get. 

Speaking of gold. I walk by these sunflowers. Seeing their bright blooms brings me joy. The honey bees love them. On hot sticky mornings, they were a landmark for the way home. Seeing them meant we were just a few blocks from home and a drink of water. 


Wishing you a little peace in this crazy upside down world. 

Ravelry Links

Norah's Sweater

Blue and Gold Polworth



 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Knitting and Kindness

Two weeks ago I heard the cicadas rasp away at their summer swan song. The chorus begins later than usual. When my grandfather heard them he would say, "six weeks until the first frost." Born in 1899 and raised on a farm in south central Nebraska, he could step outdoors, smell the air, look at the position of the leaves on a tree, and/or gaze at the horizon, watch the birds, and predict the weather. After he finished his gardening chores, he would pull an old metal lawn chair into the shade of an elm and enjoy an hour to himself. The heat didn't bother him. I can't say the same. I look forward to fall. Today is again miserably hot and humid. I may have ordered a skein of autumn colored sock yarn to encourage the season. 

In the meantime, I cast on three projects. I bought a front-zip sweatshirt as a birthday gift for my great niece. A small family birthday party for a toddler was just what I needed last week. To spend time with young parents and their children gives me hope for the world. At any rate, the sweatshirt was the same size as the sweater I intend to knit for Norah. I measured it for chest circumference and then found the size/chest measurement in Ann Budd's Handy Book of Top-Down Raglans in the correct gauge. I cast on a more reasonable number stitches than my last attempt. I plan to use the pocket instructions from the Cricket pattern. 

While I was figuring out what to do with the yarn for Norah's sweater, I cast on a pair of socks in a pattern called Couplet. This was the second pattern I tried with this yarn.  I am pleased with this pattern/yarn combination.

I cast on a long scarf in the pattern Fractal Danger. The pattern by Hitchhiker designer Martina Behm, feels like a cousin to the Hitchhiker. The yarn, Rustic Fingering from Neighborhood Fiber Company, a non superwash single ply merino has a lovely hand. The owner of that company often gives a percentage of her sales to non-profits so I bought the yarn to support her business. Knitting and kindness are my weapons of choice. Although I might resort to tomatoes soon. I have sauced and frozen probably more than enough to get us through to next summer's harvest. 

I finished listening to Band of Sisters. Once I got past the snarky behavior of the women (it got old), I appreciated it as another untold story about women. I wish I'd found the author's note before I began. Reading forward, I am going to look for those notes before reading a book. Listening to the chapters about these young women evacuating French refugees from oncoming German forces with the news of Afghanistan in the background was very eery. 

I ordered a copy of The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. A number of years ago the Oxford Junior Dictionary eliminated forty words having to do with nature and replaced them with words like broadband, blog, and cut-and-paste. This author and artist responded by creating a beautiful book of poetry and art depicting words like acorn, bluebell, adder, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, willow, and more. Each word has three double-page spreads. The first uses the letters, line drawings, and negative space to announce the name of the poem, the second is the poem with a beautiful illustration on the adjoining page, and then the third is another gorgeous visual depiction of the word. This same author and illustrator created a second book, The Lost Spells. I look forward to sitting down with my grandchildren and looking at this book. Negative space intrigues me. The space around knitted stitches creates an eyelet or lace design. I also love the space around words and lines in poetry. The simplicity of the poems and artwork in this book is elegant. 

I'm late today because Blogger wouldn't let me insert photos but linking to Kat and the Unravelers. I think they will still have me.  Let's practice more kindness. 

Ravelry Links

Norah's Sweater

Couplet Socks

Fractal Danger