Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Almost Finished

Hello Gentle Readers. The changing light is February's gift. The northern hemisphere tilts toward Spring. It does lift the spirit. Here in Nebraska, the sun shines on warm February days. Monday I walked under a bright blue sky. Not too far from home, I stopped to watch a large red-tailed hawk circle the sky. Sunshine articulated his stretched feathers and illuminated the bright rust of his tail.  At that moment I understood why this buteo is called red-tailed. Later in the day, the light reflected the beauty of the bare linden. It's nice to have a respite from the grayer skies.

Today is another Unraveled Wednesday and link with Kat and the Unravelers. I worked on two knitting projects this week. Most evenings, I knit on this shawl. Over the weekend I ripped out a few inches to adjust the color sequence or I might be finished. I didn't mind backtracking because this is such a comfort knit. Who knows whether I will wear it out in public but it will be great on a winter evening. I am now knitting the garter stitch border with the darkest shade. Then it will need a spa-blocking treatment. 

I cast on a scrappy sock because I needed a small project that I could easily pick up and put down. I also want to TRY and whittle down some sock yarn stash. I'm using the small two stitch cable motif from the Candy Floss pattern. 

I am almost finished listening to True Biz by Sara Novic´. Interspersed within the story is information about the history of deafness, American Sign Language (ASL), deaf education, and culture. This perspective of deafness is broader than that the public school system where I taught. I am learning things I didn't know and that is a good thing. Listening to the book is so interesting, considering the characters and subject matter. There is a special sound added to indicate dialogue is being signed between characters. 

I'm also reading Night and Day, Virginia Woolf's second novel. This book is reported to be Woolf's work that is most structured like a traditional novel. I like to read early work of writers to learn more about the way their writing developed and changed over their lifetime. Night and Day certainly shows the promise of Woolf's later writing. Last night I read some laugh-out-loud lines as well as some elegant insightful character descriptions. Woolf may not be for everyone, but this novel been on my to-read list for quite some time. I finally ordered a used copy so I can take my time. 

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope the day brings some special moments to you. 

Ravelry Links

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Hello February

Hello Gentle Readers. Early this morning, all outdoors was frosty. The eastern sky was slightly yellow but overhead a pale blue was dimpled with small scallops of white clouds. Instead of retrieving my phone for a photo, I enjoyed the few moments before the light changed. 

The neighbors feed peanuts to the squirrels and bluejays and there was quite the band of jays flying in and out and among the trees. This winter I notice how the birds' coloring reflects the winter light. No matter the quality of light, they are beautiful. All snow has melted, rain fell, and we are back to warmer temperatures. Some days the thermometer climbs to 57 degrees. If the daffodils pop up, they will be in trouble. I plan to collect leaf litter from the compost bin and make sure they are covered. 

Wednesday is the day to link with Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday. My knitting and making looks much the same, although progress has been made. Three or four projects is my sweet spot and so I am happily knitting between these three items. I keep adding to the shawl. It needs about seven more inches. I love working on the colors, the handspun, and the pattern. 

Eureka! It's a sweater yoke and it fits. I knit about an inch beyond the colorwork on the Maddox sweater, put the stitches on waste yarn, and tried it on. I have a few more inches to go before splitting for the sleeves. I didn't block it because I was satisfied with the look of the colorwork. No unraveling this week.

I also worked a little on this cowl. I need more yardage than I have in the mini set so I unearthed some leftover sock yarn that coordinates with the colors. That is the second color you see on the needles. I can find more if I need it. 😊

As for books, I finished Enchantment by Katherine May. She has a wonderful way of noticing and writing. I am still thinking about some of the gems in this book, for example the concept of Deep Play and how space affects our thinking. I enjoyed the structure she achieved by dividing the book into four sections related to four elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. 

Currently I am listening to True Biz by Sara Novic´. This modern day novel explores issues that confront individuals in the deaf community. Having worked in Special Education, I am familiar with some of these ideas but not all the perspectives that are part of the characters' lives. I've only just begun but I am enjoying this book. 

Norah and I are rereading a favorite, The Mitten Tree. After old Sarah hangs her hand knit mittens on the tree, we speculate about who fills an empty basket with yarn and leaves it on her porch. "Sarah doesn't know who the yarn is from and the children still don't know who the mittens are from. But someone must . . ."*  It's a delightful way to end a picture book.

That's enough from me today. As I write, the sky brightens to a soft blue and a slight breeze ruffles the branches of the birch. It's a good day for a walk and a few chores. Take good care friends. 

* The Mitten Tree written by Candace Christiansen, Illustrated by Elaine Greenstein, Fulcrum Publishing, 1997.

Ravelry Links

Winter Maddox Sweater

Solstice Shawl

Wild Atlantic Cowl


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Sunny Skies

Hello Gentle Readers. On this last day of January, the sun shines and the sky is clear blue. The last four consecutive days of sunshine were glorious. Cloudy days return tomorrow but I am not thinking about that today. As the snow melts, I notice the grass still has a tint of green. Oddly, it was the same color through the Fall. Bitter cold and snow cover made no difference. Robins winter here and I saw one singing yesterday as the sun reflected off her rust breast. Her song sounded of hope. Yesterday I walked in a lighter weight jacket and half way out, I pulled off my hat. 

I link with Kat and company to write about making and reading. I am working on the same projects. Last night I finished the colorwork on the yoke of the Maddox Sweater. Although there are a few places where the darker contrast color floats are visible, I am pleased with it. I plan to knit another inch or so and then either wet or steam block it to see how it looks and fits. I enjoyed the colorwork and look forward to the round and round stockinette. 

Although it's hard to see in the winter light, I'm working on another fade in this shawl. Knitting with handspun and looking forward to the shift in the color makes the long rows seem not so endless. At least not yet. 


I'm reading, Murder Your Employer: McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes, a very tongue-in-cheek mystery thriller. Usually I am less than thrilled with thrillers but this is my local book group's February selection. I've only just begun and it is very witty with a lot of word play. The cover notes a puzzle in the story which might be fun. If it gets too thrilling for me, I'll read the ending to see if I want to continue. Have you ever skipped ahead to the end of a book?

These are the quiet days of winter. Today I hope to get the Connecticut kids' journals and Valentines in the mail. I also need to send February birthday cards and Valentines to the three college students in my family. Then I'm going for a long walk under the sunny sky. What are you up to today?

Ravelry Links

Winter Maddox Sweater

Winter Solstice Shawl

Monday, January 29, 2024

Explore 2024: January

I like the practice of focusing on a word each year. It provides some ideas for thinking, being, and just plain living. This year I choose the word "explore" and begin where I always begin, with definitions and word origin. I didn't find much insight in the etymology dictionary so I set that information aside. Perhaps another day I will read it differently. However, many variations of meaning exist. Of course, I focus on the definitions that speak to me.   


1. To investigate systematically, examine. To investigate, study, analyze. To think about, talk about, study or experience something, in order to find out more about it. 

2. To search into or travel in for the purpose of discovery. To travel over new territory for adventure or discovery

3. To become familiar with by testing or experimenting. 

Exploration of something new doesn't mean mastery but it does provide a sense of what might be possible. It feels expansive, including an approach to aging that isn't about a contracting circle of being. Sometimes explore will be a stretch for me and that is a good thing. 

This month my explorations have taken me into difficult territory. The last two months I've experienced an unpleasant side effect from the medication I take for osteoporosis. Right now I'm gathering information and exploring options to make an informed decision. 

Explore will be a good word for 2024. For now, I'm setting aside any detailed preplanned map and thinking in terms of general direction, as from a compass. Whether I post monthly about my explorations remains to be seen. 

I wish you all well from a day with bright blue sky and warming temperatures. The snow is melting and the year is still new. I am eager to explore the possibilities.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

January Days

Hello Gentle Readers, I write on a gray overcast day. Fog greeted me early this morning. I know it creates hazardous highway conditions but today it felt like shelter from the world. Our son, Aaron, has been here for a visit. He worked remotely, attended an annual post holiday dinner with friends, and spent time with us. It was so nice to have him here. The fog has dissipated and my husband is driving him to the airport. I'm doing laundry. The house is quiet.  

After more snow last Thursday and a cold cold weekend, the temperatures will the rise into the 50's. Most of the snow will melt. Crazy as it seems, I will miss the cold snowy weather. It's how winter is supposed to be in Nebraska and elsewhere. In a world where many things are inside out and upside down, the cold and snow are reassuringly normal. Maybe a January thaw is also normal and conditions on the side streets will improve.

Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends finds my knitting mostly the same as last week. I put a few more rows on the yoke on the Maddox sweater. Slow and steady as well as knitting when I'm not tired and/or distracted keeps this project on track. So far, so good. 

Last night I unraveled a bit of the handspun shawl and tried to fade in the next shade of yarn. I don't know if it looks any better but it's what I could accomplish with the yarn I spun. Below are the after and before photos, in that order. Blogger rearranged the order of the photos. Who knows how that happened. Forgive the less than stellar lighting.  

In order to have a smaller project, I wound up this set of mini-skeins for a cowl. Last year, I won the set in a make-along hosted by Lisa of Fibernymph Dyeworks. I cast on the cowl but haven't taken any photos. I started with the deep green and it wouldn't photograph well in today's light. 

These days I'm reading from Devotions by Mary Oliver and Enchantment by Katherine May. I appreciate May's insights into pandemic and post pandemic life. Last night I felt like pumping a fist when I read her statement that the meditation system she was taught was set up from a male point of view. I also read The Woman in the Moon by Marjorie Saiser, a local poet. Saiser is near my age, although probably a little younger. This collection, including the title poem, reflects the experience of an older thoughtful woman. There are some local references that I also enjoyed. 

I hope you are all well and warm. 

Ravelry Links

Maddox Sweater

Winter Solstice Shawl

Wild Atlantic Cowl

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Deep Winter

Hello Gentle Readers. Greetings on a slightly warmer day. Last Friday brought another eight inches of snow on top of the previous six. The story here, as most places in the U.S., is the frigid bone-chilling temperature. Sunday temperatures ranged between -21 and -6 degrees. The prairie wind blew causing a dangerous wind chill. 

Daylight reflects off the snow and winter white sky in the way of deep winter. Sunny days bring sun dogs and blue shadows on the snow. The overcast days highlight the colors of the birds. The bright cardinal and bluejay fluffed up against the winter light are exquisite. Renkl wrote in a New York Times column, "The blue jay's color is created not by pigment but by the interaction of feathers and light."

Today is Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends. I finished the Scrappy Hat. On a cold night, I wove in the ends and put it on my head. The fabric is dense and my wrist was sore when I finished but the hat is warm. 

I continue to work on the shawl from handspun. I'm depending on blocking to smooth out the fabric and lace pattern. A year ago last November I bought some lovely Rowan yarn on sale. This fall I bought a contrasting skein for the yoke of the Maddox sweater. This is my first colorwork-yoke sweater and I am enjoying it.  

I am listening to the end of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. Angelou's life is a testament to her strength and resilience. I am also reading The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, a short but delightful literary romp. I received a copy as a gift from a dear friend. 

Last Friday I promised Norah a snow angel when the snow stopped falling and you know, a promise is a promise. I would flip the photo but then it looks like I'm standing upright. Tomorrow the forecast is for more snow and Friday the temperatures will again be far below zero. This is a time to hunker down with knitting, spinning, stitching, or reading and a cup of something hot. Stay warm and safe. 

Ravelry Links

Scrappy Hat

Winter Solstice Shawl

Winter Maddox Sweater

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

All the Wool

Hello Gentle Readers, 

Monday and into Tuesday six inches of snow fell. Mid-day Monday the air warmed enough to create some wintry mix. This blanket of wet snow is very welcome. As often happens in January, this storm ushered in much colder air. We are in for at least a week of subzero temps and lower wind chills. It's time to wrap up in all the wool: socks, cowl, sweater, shawl, hat, and mittens, preferably two pairs. I am wearing all items at one time or another. 

In January, falling snow creates a deep peace. The quiet that comes from snow muffling sound and the white gray skies are my favorite things about these winter days. This fall and winter a Cooper's Hawk hunts in the neighborhood. A few minutes ago a cardinal flew from the birch and the hawk followed. Do I hope the cardinal got away or that the hawk doesn't go hungry or instead found a mouse?  Nature isn't always easy.

Today is Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and company. Last weekend I finished the blue fingerless mitts. This is a nice pattern for a fingering weight mitt in three different sizes. Directions for picking up thumb stitches across the gap are a little vague so I did my own thing. I like a method I once learned from a youtube tutorial that helps avoid gaps on either side of the picked-up stitches. I have enough yarn to make another pair, perhaps in a larger size, as a gift. 

The handspun shawl grows slowly but the color is starting to change. The nuthatch-like colors also match the winter skies. The design that runs along the side is intuitive so it is a peaceful knit. I would like at least two more shades to be part of the shawl so I'll be playing with the gradient. I have another skein of three darker shades. There is plenty of yarn for a generous sized shawl. 

I cast on a scrappy hat. The yarn is leftover from the Guernsey Wrap/Scarf I knit several years ago. The December countdown yarn was a gift from my son and daughter. I've been wearing the scarf on my walks as it is wide and warm. I decided the leftover yarn would make a nice hat. I tried the CopyCat Beanie but didn't like the way the purled section rolled. I decided to stripe the colors in stockinette which is also rolling at this point but will look different as the hat grows. 😊 This year I'd like to knit a few projects from the scraps and leftovers I rarely give away. 

 As for reading, I am listening to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Angelou reads this nonfiction. She has such a rich voice and as a writer, she is eloquent. I had forgotten the story of how her beloved brother Bailey shortened her name from Marguerite to Maya. It's interesting to juxtapose this book with The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James MacBride. Strong female characters play important parts in these stories as does the setting in general store. MacBride's fiction is a story of community from the perspective of adults coming together to protect a child, while Angelou wrote a memoir of her communities based on childhood memories in the same time period. Racism is experienced by both communities. 

I'm rereading Winter Solstice by Rosamond Pilcher because I needed what my sister calls a 2:00 a.m. book. This book is charming and sweet. Coincidently, I'm reading Winter Solstice: An Essay by Nina MacLaughlin. This little book is a meditation on the winter season with both scientific information as well as folklore, and the writer's musings about winter. It's a peaceful slim book that I wish was longer.

This is more than enough from me today. What about you? How's the weather and what are you reading?

Ravelry Links

Pioneer Gloves

Solstice Shawl

Scrappy Hat