Wednesday, July 28, 2021

July Days

photo by daughter Kate

These last July days are hot and humid. Jonah's sunflower is in full bloom in Connecticut. The geranium blooms on my porch are a little sparse but tomatoes wait on my kitchen counter. Late last week I dug up several potato plants. Each one produced ten or so potatoes, including several large enough for baked potatoes. What I was thinking when I planted ten potato plants? Last week I made a potato salad. It tasted good but we can't eat baked potatoes and potato salad every week. I know they are supposed to keep in a cool dark basement but will they? Likely, I'll give some away. 

Tending the garden in the evenings means less knitting time but my projects are coming along - in fits and starts. This week for Kat's Unraveled Wednesday I have some unraveling to report. Somehow I lost a stitch when turning the heel of the second shorty sock. I couldn't find the errant stitch but my stitch count was off by one. The heel isn't a good place for a lost stitch so I ripped it out. It didn't take me long to re-knit. Besides turning the heel is my favorite part of sock knitting. Even if I have to do it twice, turning a heel feels so smart. Ha. The foot of a top-down sock goes quickly. This evening I'll finish the toe, she said with optimism.  

Some evenings I turn on a fan and work on this everlasting shawl. Near the end of the yarn I didn't have enough to knit a proportional garter stitch border with a picot bind-off. I modified the pattern so wasn't surprised the shawl looked a little off-kilter. Lord knows I don't need any extra off-kilter these days so Sunday I ripped out three sections. I knit the third eyelet section longer and am now onto the last garter stitch border and bind off. It's all knitting and eventually I'll finish the shawl. The Spring Rewilding Shawl might need another name, maybe Everlasting Shawl. I'm getting my money's worth out of this yarn. 

I am reading Horizon by Barry Lopez. In this memoir/nature writing, Lopez looks back at the places he traveled during his life. He reflects on six regions of the world: western Oregon, the Arctic, the Galapagos, the Kenyan desert, Botany Bay in Australia, and Antarctica. With the exception of the coast of Oregon, these are places I will likely not visit so I'm enjoying this tour. Lopez weaves the stories of the explorers and indigenous peoples, the effects of colonialism, and climate change with his remarkable life. I think I read that he finished this book with the knowledge that he was dying. His ideas challenge my perceptions and his writing is a gift. 

I hope you are staying well and finding ways to enjoy these hot days. I hope to finish my sock later today but first I have tomatoes to sauce. The kitchen will be a little steamy but tomato sauce in the winter means a little taste of summer.

Ravelry Links

Shorty Socks

Spring Rewilding Shawl

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


These summer days I walk about 8:00 a.m. to beat the heat. Warm dappled sunlight filters onto my shoulders as I listen to birdsong. Robins sing, cardinals call to their mates, and doves coo. Although I know the "phoebee phoebee" of the chickadee and the screech of the bluejay, I'd like to recognize more species by song. Recently sparrows returned to our yard. I am happy to see them as I read house finches are driving down the sparrow population. So it goes. 

With the temperate summer weather and rain, the tomatoes look great. Last night I picked the first few ripe tomatoes and dug red potatoes from under one plant. This may be the first time I've successfully grown potatoes. Potato salad is on this week's menu. The forecast is for hotter temperatures with no rain so I'll have to be diligent with watering. Summer is in full swing. 

Today for Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends, my knitting matches the book cover. I don't know why this please me. I am easily entertained. After a break from the shawl, I picked it up again. I've enjoyed knitting it but am ready to be finished. The little ball in the photo is the remaining yarn, so picot bind-off or not, I'm coming to the end. My carry around project is a pair of shortie socks from leftover yarns. Once I get half way down the foot, the toe calls my name. I brought it in from the car and finished the first sock. They are good for the spring or fall when I don't want to wear a full sized wool sock.  

Natalie Goldberg's recent book, Three Simple Lines: A Writer's Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku is the best kind of armchair traveling. She visited Japan to tour locations where the old masters, Basho, Buson, and Issa lived and wrote Haiku. Goldberg's writing may not be for everyone but I find it lyrical and peaceful. She practices Buddhism which is an interesting point of view for traveling. The jacket cover art is beautiful. I found this note at the bottom of the back jacket flap, "The jacket art illustration "Full moon and tree." Picture album of plum blossom, Kyoto, 1808. From a haiku book illustrated by Okada Baikan, a poet and Nanga artist." I am enjoying learning about the history of haiku and a little more about Japan.  

Are you learning about anything new this summer?

Ravelry Links

Spring Rewilding Shawl

Shortie Socks

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Still Spinning

Today is overcast and humid but the days were bright and beautiful this past week. Sunday we carried our dinner to the deck. Afterwards I stayed outdoors to ply a skein of yarn. If I had known my husband was taking a photo, I would have changed into a better shirt. My spindle spinning skills are improving. Although I'm still predrafting fiber, there is a good bit of consistent yarn in this skein. Sarah's positive comments about Polworth fiber prompted me to try it. I'm glad I did. The fiber and staple length make it good for beginners. It is a nice alternative to merino. This is the third skein and measures about 53 yards. I don't think I could get much more on my spindle. I have one small bump of this fiber to spin. 

I knit a little on the Rewilding Shawl and have come to the long and longer rows at the end of the shawl. I didn't take a photo because it's hard to see any visible difference. Hazel Knits no longer makes this yarn and I might know why. Lyric, a laceweight superwash merino, has a crisp hand that feels like cotton. Either the superwash processing or the dying created a yarn that feels lifeless. I'm reserving judgement until it's washed and blocked. The light weight fabric isn't awful but it isn't what I expected. The baby sweater flew off the needles. The combination of colorful yarn on comfortable needles and a tried and true pattern made the knitting fun and easy. The sleeves don't match but I think that adds to the charm. By the way, I won this game of yarn chicken. Whew.

I also knit on Norah's cardigan. I finished the textured yoke and put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn. Now I'm knitting on the stockinette body until I come to the cute little pockets. Today is a dark day so I had to adjust the light settings on the photo. 

I'm reading The Beadworkers, a collection of short stories by Beth Piatote. The stories are set in the Pacific Northwest and Piatote's characters are Native Americans. Her writing is spare but lyrical. Usually I am not a big short story fan as I want to know more about the characters and their story. However this is a wonderful collection. 

I am linking to Kat and the Unravelers on this Wednesday in July. I hope you are enjoying these summer days. 

Ravelry Links

Baby Sweater

Norah's Sweater

Spring Rewilding Shawl

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Early July Notes

Overnight a little rain fell. This morning the sky is gray and the air is heavy with humidity. The finches are at the feeder so I hope that means more rain. I am clipping oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, and chives. Fresh herbs are one of summer's pleasures. Last week I bought a new journal for gardening notes. When we moved into our current home in 1991, I started a garden journal. Somewhere along the way, I quit making notes and sketches but kept sticking in plant tags. Several years ago the tags exploded onto the kitchen desk and I threw the whole mess away. I wish I'd kept my early notes but in a fit of neatness I did not. A digital journal would be more efficient but I'm a paper/pen/pencil kind of gal. This time I'm determined to do better. Wish me luck. 

Wednesday is the day Kat and the Unravelers write about knitting and reading. How is it Wednesday again? The baby sweater is fun to knit. For the record, I'm going to win the game of yarn chicken. The color sequence in the sleeves will not match but with this yarn it doesn't matter - at least to me. A baby isn't going to care either. Man, these little sweater sleeves are a breeze. I knit the first one in an evening - almost instant gratification. I finished the fingerless mitts. If I made them again, I'd add a stitch or two to the thumbs. The pattern calls for Aran weight yarn and I used DK so that is the difference. They fit me, snug thumbs and all, and match this cowl. 

Every now and then I enjoy a deep dive into a writer and her work. The more I learn about Emily Dickinson the more I understand her poems and admire her work. I reread I Never Came to You in White by Judith Farr. Farr imagines the life of Dickinson in letters written by people who knew her. I read it when it first came out and it made little sense to me. Now having read more about Dickinson, I found it very intriguing. The letter format is appropriate as Dickinson was a prolific letter writer. Indeed her letters were collected and published in Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters that I have also read. 

Jonah, my FaceTime reading buddy, asked for Frosty The Snowman. Then we had a conversation about the snowmen he built last winter. A child's mind and delight is wonderful. 

This is more than enough writing from me. Click on over to Kat and the other Unravelers (link above) for reading and knitting inspiration. 

Ravelry Links

Leaf Mitts

Baby Sweater

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Summer Season

Sweet June days come to an end as bright flowers, firebums*, high humidity, weeds, and early morning walks arrive. This morning I walked what I call the flower route to take my mind off the weeds and the humidity. A few neighbors maintain a naturally wild look with coneflowers, daisies, day lilies, and untrimmed lawns. Some yards are meticulously landscaped with a profusion of annual flowers and while most fall somewhere in between. I confess I have mixed feelings about perfectly manicured lawns with numerous annuals. They are beautiful but I worry about the amount of water needed to maintain them. Then I come home to the pots of geraniums on my porch and water them. My vegetable garden and herb bed couldn't survive without watering. Life is a puzzle sometimes. 

I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers to write about knitting and reading. Thank you Kat for hosting this link. One project is never enough so I cast on two smaller projects from partial skeins. About a year ago, I knit a cowl from the royal blue yarn and never knit matching mitts from the remaining yarn. I had the hand of one mitt finished before I created a project page. 

I cast on a tried and true baby sweater from partial skeins of Pixel yarn by Berroco because it is always good to have a baby sweater to give or donate. Ravelry tells me this is the fifth project with this pattern. This go around will involve a game of yarn chicken. Berroco doesn't sell this colorway any more which is too bad because it is my favorite. If I run out of yarn I could buy another colorway and stripe it into the sweater. Isn't it always the way? In an attempt to use partial skeins, I need to buy another that will make another leftover. This is one way to never run out of yarn scraps.

Saturday I cast on a little cardigan for Norah. I'm using KnitPicks Swish DK, a great yarn for kids' knits as it washes well. I chose the pattern for the contrasting pockets. At the moment, she wants her clothing to have pockets. So I'll deliver pockets hoping they prompt this strong willed little gal to wear a sweater in the fall. Besides the pockets in a contrasting color are just cute. I love a girl with a mind of her own.

My sister suggested The Narrowboat Summer as a peaceful pandemic read and I am glad she did. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I'd like to spin some yarn in the same colors as the cover but spinning is a post for another day. In this book, three older women, previously unknown to each other, become friends as they face change and challenge in their lives. Two of them agree to pilot a narrowboat belonging to the third woman through canals in England. The story is driven by well written characters and a subtle plot. As a bonus, a secondary character is a knitter. It's obvious to me that Youngson is a knitter. This book makes me think about the seasons in the lives of the characters as well as my own life. Each season brings us a gift, some more welcome than others. This author also wrote Meet Me At the Museum that some of you have read.

As I leave you, I think of the line from a James Russell Lowell poem that my Mom used to repeat on beautiful June days, "What is so rare as a day in June?" The rest of the poem is flowery and old fashioned but that line is timeless. Happy Summer.

Ravelry Links

Leaf Mitts

Little Nugget #5

Norah's Cricket

*Seven years ago a grandson discovered fireflies - "Look their bums light up!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Hello Summer

Saturday evening we returned from a road trip to the Minnesota North Woods. The five hundred and fifty miles include a stretch along the Missouri River bluffs in far northeast Nebraska and then a north route through the Minnesota prairie into the lake country. The wildlife, including pelicans, swans, eagles, cranes, and a doe/fawn pair as well as the sky are beautiful. The darker color across the top of the photo is due to the color of the windshield. My husband prefers to drive so I watch for birds and knit. Once in Minnesota, I finished a pair the socks that also traveled to Connecticut. They need a bath before I pop them into the Christmas 2021 gift bag.

My sister and brother-in-law hosted us at their lake home. The weather with warm days and cool nights  was a nice escape from the 100 degree days in Nebraska. The company was even better. My sister and I knit on the screened in porch. My youngest brother and his daughter (Montana residents) joined us for kayaking, a jigsaw puzzle, meal prep in the kitchen, and sitting on the dock with our feet in the lake. On our last night, my other brother and one of his daughters drove in from Iowa. My sister, brothers, and I had not been together for at least two years and maybe three. We are the four J's, named in the 1950's: Jane, Julie, John, and James.  

Saturday morning, my sister scrambled eggs while I baked semmels, a traditional hard roll recipe or as my brother-in-law says, a vehicle for butter, jam, peanut butter, or cheese. We joined hands and sang the Johnny Appleseed Grace, a tradition from gathering with Mom and Dad and all of our young children. There were many good moments during those days but the sound of our voices around the breakfast table will carry me until I see and hug them again. Then we drove home. 

On Sunday, our son and grandson spent Father's Day with us. Austin will be a senior in high school this fall. They left early Monday morning for their Fort Worth home. As this summer begins our hearts are full and ever so grateful to be together again. 

Autumn 2020

Now to catch up with Kat and friends by linking to Unraveled Wednesday. Before leaving for Connecticut, I finished the Antler Mittens. I continue to work on this shawl,  playing with the pattern and adding the eyelet sections as I like. I need a new project or two. Hopefully this weekend I'll have a few quiet moments to pull something from stash. 

I read two books from my summer list. I finished The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende. I found it refreshingly direct. This nonfiction is a strong statement of Allende's opinions about feminism and women. She brings her wide ranging life experiences to this book. I listened to The Water Dancer by Ta-Neihisi Coates. This is a powerful beautifully written story about strong characters who show resilience and create family in spite of a brutal culture. It contains a touch of magical realism and a vocabulary that respects the dignity of people who were enslaved. I highly recommend this novel. Listening to the end of this book on the flight from NYC to Kansas City as the sun went down above cloud cover was a magical moment. 

Now we are home for the summer to tend the house, yard, and garden. Hello summer - hello you. 

Ravelry Links

Summer Latte Socks

Spring Rewilding Shawl

Father's Day 2021


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Real Hugs All Around

If you think I've been away from this spot, you are right. Fair warning: this post is a record of a joyful family visit. I knit a sock and a half while traveling but that can wait. You are welcome to come back later if family photos aren't for you.

We are home from a glorious week of ordinary days with our Connecticut family. Days filled with buttering toasted bagels for bright morning faces, sitting on the patio while grandchildren play in wading pools, playing board games, snitching potato chips out of a bag on the kitchen counter at lunch time, and reading bedtime stories. Time with the six of them was absolutely wonderful and precious. 

We were welcomed by hugs, handmade posters, and drawings that Jonah rolled up for the trip home. We cheered the three boys at T-ball, coach-pitch baseball, and kid-pitch baseball all on the same day. We raced so many Hot Wheels. 

Jonah had gardening gloves at the ready, his and mine. Kate and Jonah drove Pops to Home Depot so Jonah could show Pops the riding lawn mowers (he likes lawn mowers) and purchase herbs. Then at home, he hauled the soil, pots, and plants in his wheelbarrow. He and I planted them. We hugged often.

We dodged bikes and scooters as we walked the cemetery loop. At Emmet's request, there was a trip to the Dairy Queen with Blizzards all around. My daughter and I were shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen. Micah showed us his new karate belts. I gave him a big hug. 

Then the week was over. Weather delayed our flight and then the pilots timed out. We were fortunate to catch a later flight that same evening. My motto is if you get where you are going at the end of a traveling day, it's a good day. At 10:00 p.m. we were happy to be in our own car. I pulled up Broadway music and we sang ourselves home, arriving at 1:00 a.m. Our full hearts and poor voices kept us from getting sleepy. Not bad for a couple of oldsters. 

Norah, Emmett, Maddie (the dog), Micah, Jonah

Everyone on the plane, the airport, and airport shuttle was masked. The airline was no nonsense, announcing the possibility of criminal prosecution for anyone who didn't comply. Some restaurants at LaGuardia were checking temperatures before allowing customers in for dining. We welcomed the regulations meant to keep us as safe as possible. 

We are so grateful for the time together. I hope never to take these moments for granted again.  May your June days bring moments of joy with those you love. Did I mention the hugs?