Thursday, January 21, 2021

Hope

What a beautiful day. The sky is bright blue with a few cumulus clouds gently moving across the sky. Here in Nebraska we will enjoy one more warm January day before snow and cold return. Yesterday was also beautiful. A refreshing breeze of hope blew as I walked. 

My knitting continues. I enjoy working on the Forager Sweater. Sunday I separated the sleeves from the body or is it the body from the sleeves? At any rate, I tried it on and I think it fits. I'm going to knit another inch and try it on again, just to make certain. Then it will be easy knitting around and around with an increase or two on the sides for A-line shaping. I haven't decided whether to add the shaping or not. I finished my own pair of mitts. I'm packing them away to wear in Connecticut. I haven't added a stitch to the throw. 

 

Your embroidery projects inspired me to find one of my own. I ordered a stamped sampler from Dropcloth Samplers. The riot of colors and stitches is a good contrast with January days. I am using DMC floss since I have quite a stash. I love the design and the quality of the fabric and stamped pattern is quite good but small in size. I wasn't sure I could embroider such closely spaced motifs and I wanted a little more fabric around the edge of the design. I copied the original on the copy machine and then enlarged it. I used a light table to trace the enlarged design on a larger piece of linen leftover from some long lost project. The tracing is quite faint so I have to be careful not to rub it off as I work. This could turn out to be a disaster but the project appealed to me. I'm giving it a try. Full disclosure: this sampler came with no instructions, no stitch guide other than the stamped fabric design, no chart for colors, or suggestions for the type of thread to use.

I read The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. The multiple narrators in different times were hard to follow in the audio version. Reading the hard copy solved that problem. I think this novel will make for a good book group discussion about race, class, and anti-Semitism. Blake wrote characters that are very human, complex, and messy. It might have benefited from more editing of details but overall it was worth reading. 

I look forward to reading more poetry by Amanda Gorman, the young poet who read at the Biden/Harris inauguration. What a voice and what hope. Dr. Jill Biden, with her degrees in education, suggested this young poet be part of the ceremony. A First Lady who is an educator is a reason for hope. 

Although I am a day late, I will link with Kat and the Unravelers. As we begin again, may hope fill your heart. 


Ravelry Links

Winter Forager Sweater

Mitts for the Grammy


  

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Work in Progress

Today is the last of several warm January days. Sunshine makes all the difference. Walking with the sun on my back encourages me to walk a longer route. So does pounding on the house. Currently a dedicated crew is putting new siding on our home. After thirty years and several hail storms, the siding needed to be replaced. The company selected a great week weather-wise and the materials arrived on time. Sometimes the stars align. I appreciate their work and will be even happier when it is finished. I don't think anyone will be going barefoot in our yard, deck, or patio for quite some time. The crew cleans up each evening but it is a construction site. I'm hoping the herb garden survives all the debris. 

Several knitting projects are also in progress. I am enjoying the construction of the purple sweater. This new-to-me method requires a little attention to knit the sleeve and body increases. The pattern is well written, specific, and easy to follow. Knitting the mock cables down the front, back, and sleeves keeps the project interesting. My row gauge is slightly off so I've added extra rest rows between increase rows. I hope this adds enough length to the armhole but won't know until I separate the sleeves from the body. So far so good. Math and sweater knitting are an adventure.  

I cast on mitts for myself. I am using the leftover yarn from the set I made for Norah and Kate. The yarn knits like butter and the leaf/ thumb gusset is fun to knit.  I'm knitting lots of wishes for traveling into these mitts. I hope to take them to Connecticut this year. 

I put a few rows on the scrappy Habitation Throw but haven't taken any new photos. I'm well supplied with fingering weight scraps and leftovers for this long term project. 

As usual, I am reading several books. The details of Winter World tie me to this winter season. I'd love to visit a Maine forest in the winter.  The Pull of the Stars is a thoroughly enjoyable work of fiction about a nurse/midwife working in the maternity/influenza ward of Dublin Hospital in 1918. This World War One story is about women and mothers. Pandemic details such as someone who doesn't want to wear a mask, the toll of influenza on women who live in poverty, and the fear of contagion on public transportation are eerily familiar. Published in July 2020, I wonder when the final proofs were read and edited. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I hope your works in progress are treating you well. 

Ravelery Links

Winter Forager Sweater    

Mitts for the Grammy



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wednesday Notes

As I put away the Christmas decor, I decided I wasn't quite done with twinkle lights. I took down the big Charlie Brown tree and boxed it up for the trash. It had a good run but had come to its end. Then I put up our small artificial tree and decorated it with snowmen ornaments and German Stars. Why not? Sometimes January needs a few twinkle lights and maybe some mittens. They are welcome on today's gray day. 


Once I sent off the hats and mittens for the grands, I had time to finish two projects. The big finish is this poncho. I am really pleased with it. 
The cable on the side made the knitting interesting and the seed stitch border prevents the edges from rolling. 


I began the poncho in September and worked on it through December. This was my attempt to knit Biden and Harris into the White House while maintaining my own sanity. I was going to put off the final stitches until January 20 but so enjoyed the knitting that I finished knitting on December 24 and then blocked it. Some ravelers report pilling with this yarn but the drape is exactly right for a poncho. I have a gleaner if I need it. I also finished my last pair of socks for 2020. 


I admire scrap blankets but haven't knit one for a long time. I never expected to knit one from fingering weight yarns. Never say never. I pulled out scraps for a Habitation Throw for a Winter Solstice cast on. Every time I use a different color, the look of the throw changes. I have no rhyme or reason for changing colors but just play with the yarn. I often knit until I come to the end of some small ball of yarn. Good thing I don't mind weaving in ends. 


I also cast on a sweater. It is so dark today it is difficult to get a good photo. I'm trying to decide if I am knitting the right size. I like a slightly over-sized sweater but I don't want it falling off my shoulders. Years ago I knit a seamed sweater from the same yarn and still wear it. This pattern is a top down pullover so I wonder if the alpaca content will mean the sweater will grow a bit. Time will tell. Sweaters are a bit of a gamble. 


I finished Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and enjoyed it. I wondered if the voice of a pigeon would read like a gimmick but it did not. This novel is a good addition to World War One stories. I appreciated the viewpoint of the infantry and the men in the trenches. This is yet another book about the insanity of war. 

Here we go into this New Year, one day at a time. Stay well and safe. 

Ravelry Links

Poncho with a Cable

Ribbed Socks

Scrappy Habitation Throw

Winter Forager

P. S. The spacing between words is a bit off but I can't seem to change the format. I am not seeing Kat's usual Unraveled Wednesday post. If she posts later I will link. As always, it is her choice whether to post and sometime life needs to be tended. 



Saturday, January 2, 2021

A New Season

Happy New Year! Earlier, the frosty foggy morning was an apt metaphor for the coming months. The distance was a bit hazy with the outlines of trees barely visible. Now the gray sky gives way to cloudless blue. Life changes. Hope is on the horizon. 

As is my custom, I choose a word to think about during the year. I like a word with multiple perspectives and uses. This year's word is Season. Nature is a good teacher and the rhythm of the seasons is comforting to me. So I begin with Winter, one of the four seasons marked by the equinox or solstice. Winter World by Bernd Heinrich has been on my bookshelf for quite a long time. Now is a good time to dust it off and see what this winter season has to teach me. Heinrich, a scientist and naturalist, illustrates his nature writing so his books are a treat. 

I also plan to explore the labyrinth of seasons in my life, adding some zest along the way. These are ideas for another day. For now I'm settling into this season of winter.

Below is the sun setting on my neighborhood on December 31, 2020. God's speed to all the souls whose lives came to end this year. And God's speed to those of us who endured and look with hope to 2021. Here's to a new season. 



Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tender 2020

Honore' invites us to post about the word we chose for 2020. Thank you to her for hosting this year's reminders and link-ups. I chose tender. Today is the wrap up of a tender and difficult year.

Tender derives from several root words. First I think of "tenere" - to hold firm, to endure.  Many words evolved from this stem: tender, tend, tenable, tenacious.  And so as the year closes, we endure as we hold firm to what sustains us.  What sustained me this year isn't much different than previous years. Although we are way behind on hugs and meals shared around a table, my family remains as dear as ever to me. Connections to friends near and far are precious. Making and creating with yarn, words, fabric, or thread brings a quiet joy. Being outdoors is critical to my body and soul. The silver lining of this year is a tender but clear focus on what I value.

Another related root for tender is "tendere" meaning to stretch. I would add that in 2020 we stretched in order to tend to ourselves and others. I stretched into creative thinking facilitated by technology. My book group didn't miss a beat as we gathered via Zoom. I watched my Texas grandson play football and my Montana niece play her flute and sing in a socially distanced concert. On Christmas Eve, my husband and I read "The Night Before Christmas" to our grandchildren in Connecticut. My yarn stretches south to Texas and east to Connecticut and to a few other locations.

Questions about tender remain. How to best respond with tenderness to others? I do not know what burdens they may carry. Today the snow falls. At times the flakes are large and tender, yet they find their place. I am home sheltered in a shawl of wool and alpaca and the prairie is snow covered. Still I know the roots of grass and wildflowers rest with tenacious tenderness. They wait patiently for the coming year and a new season. 



 



 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December 23


This morning the sky is gray and the west wind blusters. The landscape is winter brown but now and then a flake of snow blows by the window. Except for the wind, the neighborhood is quiet. Today will be a day in the kitchen. Even for the two of us, I like to bake and cook for Christmas. I plan to make rolls from a recipe for Seven Grain Bread. Using the seven or eight grain cereal is a way to add a variety of grains to bread without buying specialty flours. I also decrease the seeds on top and bottom by quite a bit. That amount just fell off - everywhere. A warm kitchen on a cold day is a comfort. Walking today will require layers of wool and a will to face the wind.   

Late in August a Carolina Wren appeared in our yard. I first heard her beautiful but unfamiliar song in the back yard. I couldn't see the bird but knew I had never heard the song. A few days later the wren visited the bird feeder and I identified it. This little wren hung around through the autumn and because the species isn't usually seen in southeast Nebraska, her presence seemed like a gift. Eventually I wrote this poem for my Christmas cards. (Poetic license lets me identify the bird as a female. The markings for male and female are similar.)

And so, to wish you all a wonderful holiday and a better new year, I post it here. 


Carolina Wren *

November 24, 2020 



A dusty bit of fluff in a striped

mask shelters in the birch.


A warbler from the old world, this little bird,

a Carolina wren, even her name a melody.


Rusted weathered wings

the color of tea in my Mother’s cup.


Pert tail lifted against the wind

that blew her off course, off kilter.


I cannot ask her to stay,

this summer song.


The way forward is far. But

at the edge of the horizon,


a change in the wind, 

a glimpse of hope. 


*Copyright Jane A. Wolfe

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Cold Morning

Snow fell over the weekend and the lingering cold means the tree branches are outlined in white. The temperatures rise to the low twenties in the afternoon. Winter is a few days early. Yesterday I watched a bird holiday outside the window. Four pairs of cardinals flitted with robins. Blue jays, two white breasted nuthatches, three red breasted nuthatches, two chickadees and a flock of sparrows visited the birch. The juncos prefer the backyard feeders. The birds are good companions. Today they have flown for a quieter space. We are having new windows installed. We've been on the list since early August. Supplies are tricky due to Covid. The house is noisy and I am dressed in layers of wool. Forgive me if my post is a bit disjointed. 

In knitting news, I finished the fingerless mitts for my daughter. I have enough yarn leftover to make a pair for myself. The yarn is so lovely I want to use it all. Three generations will have the same yarn in mitts. I continue to knit on the poncho. Stitch by stitch I am getting near the finish line. Today would be a good day for a poncho - indoors. Soon. If I am counting correctly, I need about five more cable repeats. My phone is currently working on an update so I don't have a photo. 

I created a Ravelry page for swatch information. I often knit a swatch and then write down the gauge in one of several notebooks floating around the house or in knitting bags. Unless I immediately cast on a project with said yarn, the swatch gets buried in the stash. I hope having information on Ravelry page will make it easy to locate, especially when in a yarn shop. (2021 I have big plans for you.) Anyway I thought I'd give this a try with any new information. 

The yarn for Micah's hat and mittens arrived yesterday so that is my next project. And in the words of Brenda Dayne, I will "knit, knit like the wind." Connecticut is expecting a big snowstorm this week and those grands need their new winter gear. Although I am sure they are not without, I like to think about my hand-knit mittens warming their fingers until I can hold their hands. See plans for 2021.

I am currently reading Chronicles of a Radical Hag by Lorna Landvik and enjoying every page. This is a sweet story told through the newspaper columns of a older woman who has had a stroke. Although a character looking back on life is a much used trope, the newspaper columns give it a slight twist. The rest of the story, set in a small Minnesota town, revolves around the characters in the newspaper and community. The characters thoughtfully and sometimes irreverently comment about the large and small events of the day. It's poignant and funny without being syrupy sweet. If you are looking for a light read this may be the story. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers. I hope this week finds you warm and snug at home. 


Ravelery Links