Friday, December 30, 2016

Wrap Up

When last I posted, I was working on the Peace Cowl. I enjoyed the project very much and finished a few days before the end date of December 21. I have another skein of the yarn and may knit some mittens to match. I plan to donate the cowl to another woman in the New Year. I am trying to finish a pair of 2016 socks but they are dealing me a fit. I have knit the second heel twice and it needs to be ripped out again. Perhaps my mind has been on other things or perhaps it is time for me to learn a new technique for knitting heels. I knit socks with a traditional heel flap, turn, and gusset because that is the way I learned to knit socks. I am going to purchase Susan B. Anderson's pattern, Smooth Operator Socks, for her detailed well written instructions for an afterthought heel.

We celebrated a quieter Christmas season this year. While we missed our children and their families, we found other joys this season. Since I enjoy baking cookies, I baked old favorites like Gram's spritz and my sister's peppermint brownies. I tried a more labor intensive cookie recipe I've always wanted to bake. The Raspberry Linzer Cookies, more like a pastry than a cookie, were pretty and tasty. I gave cookies to neighbors and friends. We also have plenty in the freezer for another day. I decorated a small tree in the dining room with cookie cutters (something else I've always wanted to do) and German stars that were once a gift from my sister. I read a Cather novel, Shadows On The Rock. This lovely story follows a young girl and her father through a year in Quebec in the late 1700's. The girl with a devout faith is very resourceful and the relationship between father and daughter is quite touching. In a Christmas scene, a young ragamuffin of a boy, who the pair have befriended, brings a hand carved beaver for a creche sent to the girl from an aunt in France. Cather's description of ordinary and simple events is beautiful and peaceful.

Currently, I'm pondering some knitting projects and a Christmas Quilt for the new year. Three grandsons have Christmas quilts so I need to get started on one for the fourth little guy. This year he is still in his crib but next year will be a different story. I am also considering a word to adopt as my intention for 2017. In the meantime, I plan to finish a few New Year's greetings and enjoy the last days of December.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


           Pray for peace on this
           All are welcome.
           Come join hands. Let
           Each one reach to another.

These December days I'm sipping hot tea and knitting the Peace Cowl. The stitches makes a pretty texture on both the right and wrong side. The pattern also has a nice rhythm, one I could easily speed up in order to finish. I decided to stay with the spirit of knitting one repeat each day and am enjoying the slower pace. I'm a few repeats behind but then it is December. I started a few days late and ripped out the first repeat and cast on to go up a needle size. Yesterday while my sister and I were chatting and knitting, I made a mistake and ripped out three rows. Peaceful knitting does gets interrupted now and then. Some evenings I read The Healthy Knitter's blog post on peace and knitting. I take comfort in knowing a peaceful, health-seeking knitter lives in Iowa, not too far away. I thank her for her pattern and her writing.

In between rounds of the Peace Cowl, I'm knitting a hat and mitten set for the children of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Bundles of Joy, a Ravelry group contains information for knitting and sending clothing.

May peace fill your heart all year long.  


Friday, December 2, 2016

Early December

My Christmas knitting is finished. This year I chose fewer gift knit projects and began knitting early in the fall. During the year, I made fingerless mitts from scraps and a few washcloths to stash away as love presents to someone who needs a lift or a thank you.

In other early December news, I sent a "getting ready for Christmas" package to my little grandsons in Connecticut. I bundled up pretzels and dried cranberries for our favorite Rudolph sandwiches, knit mitten ornaments for each one, and cut strips for paper chains. Last year Emmett made a long paper chain and wrapped it around our tree. This year we won't be together so I'm getting creative. I cut strips and started the chains for each of the three boys. I wrote a little message on them. I enclosed two rolls of scotch tape so the six year old and three year old can have their OWN roll of tape. Just what their mother needs this time of year, two boys with yards of sticky tape. The baby doesn't need tape. I haven't completely taken leave of my senses yet.

I wrapped up one other project for the year. This Ramona Cardigan in Montera yarn, a wool/llama blend, (think very warm) has been sitting in a bag since January. I worked on it last winter but didn't enjoy the knitting. I put it away the end of March because it was too warm on my lap. I got it out this fall and put it away again. Last week I knit one more row and realized I really don't want to knit the sweater. The pattern is well written and the sweater fit. However, the yarn was shedding. I didn't notice the shedding while swatching but didn't check either. The weight of all the stitches with heavier yarn hurt my arm/shoulder. I don't wear heavy sweaters nor did I want to figure out how to store this one. So I cut off the current ball of yarn and put half a sweater in a waste basket. When my husband emptied the trash, he pulled it out and set it aside. "Did you really mean to throw his away?" he asked. My answer was a resounding, "Yes, the sweater isn't for me."  The rest of the yarn might make great mittens or slippers. I may knit with it and I may not. For now, I'm returning the yarn to a storage bin - guilt free. Knitting is not a chore.

I am planning a new project or two. I am considering a shawl with a wool cashmere yarn I purchased at a sale two years ago. The yarn won't cause any discomfort and it doesn't shed. I purchased the newly published Singing Beach Cowl. I have several skeins that would work for this pattern. In the meantime, I am joining knitters around the world to knit the Project Peace Cowl. At last count 16,000 knitters had downloaded the pattern. I am not one to join knitting bandwagons but this project appealed to me. Yesterday I cast on the cowl with some yarn from Lake Yarns and Fiber. I've lost the label but I think the yarn is a dk weight. The pattern calls for fingering weight so once again I am making a few changes, fewer stitches and larger sized needles.

The Christmas cactus began blooming Thanksgiving week. It is a little early but rather festive. I'm taking the days as they come. Happy Peaceful December.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Long View

We are home from our Connecticut visit. We had a lovely time and safe travels. As the sun came up on the red-eye flight, I frogged three inches of a sock. I managed to get the stitches of a dark colored yarn back onto the needles without a crochet hook. Whew! I wouldn't want to start a cross country trip without knitting. I arrived home with one sock almost finished. Since it is a Christmas gift, I am not posting a photograph.

We savored the moments with our daughter and family: playing race cars, reading stories, shopping a local farmer's market, attending church, and playing in the park.

We enjoyed trick or treating with three little Waldos. We watched the school Halloween parade and I read to E's kindergarten class on Halloween. The darling little faces on wiggly, excited bodies were delightful, especially since I wasn't the teacher in charge.

Sunday afternoon was warm enough to play on the beach. Another windy day, my daughter and I walked the path around Todd's Point, a Greenwich community treasure.

We came home to November. Yesterday I visited nearby Spring Creek Prairie, a preserve owned and managed by the Audubon Society. Some of the land is original long grass prairie. It was well cared for by a family who donated it to Audubon for future generations. Recently, additional acres have been purchased by Audubon as a buffer to the original site. Parts of the prairie are being reseeded with native grasses. During the first few years of growth, grasses directs their energy underground to the new, extensive root system. Care of the prairie requires a long view.

The day was bright and cool enough for a light jacket. The wetland area has changed a bit with grasses filling in under the footbridge that once spanned water. A few small birds, probably sparrows, flew from the nearby bushes as I crossed the bridge. Perhaps one was a bluebird but the birds were gone in an instant and I went without binoculars. Sometimes it is good to be in a place without naming and labeling. I walked the trails for over an hour. I walked down from a ridge and sat on the ground. Cradled by the land, I listened to the wind, the rustling grass, and a few insect noises that will soon be quiet during the winter. Three times the flapping wings of a large hawk drew my vision up to the bare limbs of trees along a draw on the southern edge of the prairie.

At home, I am finishing the second Christmas sock, trying to remember the long view. Thanks to Becky for reminding me that we live locally. I hope that together we can make a difference. Welcome to wool sock weather.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Home to Autumn

We arrived home safely from a week-long road trip. We drove to Kansas City and picked up our daughter and her youngest son at the airport. We loved spending two days with them and taking care of the baby while she taught a short workshop. I gave this youngest grandson his pumpkin hat in Kansas City and it fit. I knit a toddler size for this nine month old. Next year he will need a bigger hat.

After we put them on the plane, we drove to Fort Worth to see our son and family. Despite the hurricane on the East Coast, the weather in the middle of the country was lovely. Our son and daughter-in-law welcomed us with a Texas style barbecue. We toured the 6th Floor Museum and the Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas. We also took in our oldest grandson's 7th grade football game. When we left Fort Worth, the 6:00 a.m. temperature was 76 degrees. We wore lightweight clothing and sandals. Silly us. Somewhere in Oklahoma the temperature began to drop. By the time we stopped in southern Kansas, the outdoor temperature was 56 degrees. During the drive north, the temperature kept falling. At noon, we picked up more coffee, pulled on jackets, and arrived home at 6:00 p.m. for the first local frost.

We drove many miles safely and spent time with dear ones and for that we are thankful. I drove two short spells but had plenty of knitting time. First I finished a pair of ankle socks. I wondered if I'd like to wear them on cool mornings or give them as gifts. Since they were an experiment, I used scraps and a vanilla sock pattern. On the second leg of the trip, somewhere between Kansas City and Oklahoma, I wove in ends and cast on another pair of socks. On the long day home, I pulled these shorties out of my bag and put them on for warmth. I like them.

When we left, the trees in our neighborhood were mostly green. Now we are home, home to autumn. I plan to finish drying herbs, pull out frosted tomato plants, and begin Christmas gift knitting. Thank goodness for knitting. Knitting, walking, and poetry are going to get me through the last few weeks of the national election. I'm off to put on a pot of soup. Enjoy October.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Changing Seasons

Although the Farmer's Market is rich with tomatoes, eggplant, and watermelon, last night's full moon rose earlier. Light shifts toward autumn as the heat begins to relent. Evenings, I brew a cup of hot tea before I sit down to knit. Autumn is my favorite season. I am ready for the flavors of butternut squash, apple, pumpkin, ginger, and cinnamon as well as long walks among the changing colors.

Two of our four grandsons have begun new school years. The seventh grader attends school in Texas and is busy with sports, orchestra, and the Civil Air Patrol where he learns about flight. The next youngest grandson is a big kindergartener in Connecticut. He is meeting new friends and learning about the ocean. Our daughter and son-in-law took advantage of a wonderful opportunity and moved to the East Coast.

As we travel this Fall to visit both families, we will share new experiences with them. Meanwhile, thank goodness for technology and snail mail. We play the little boys' favorite game of hide and seek via Where's Waldo postcards. As is my custom, I sent a book as a birthday present. I chose Fall Walk, a story about a Grammy and a grandchild taking a walk to identify leaves from various trees. This past summer, the little boys and I enjoyed this book, sitting together on the couch. Now we will read it over Face Time. My local library has a great selection of children's book so with a little planning, I can check out the books the boys have in their home and we can read them together. While distance in miles changes, distance between hearts remains the same.

Other things also remain the same. Wherever they live, boys grow. If they live in cold climates, they need warm hats. I can knit hats. Dashing through my local yarn shop, I thought the color of this fingering weight yarn would make a cute pumpkin hat. So I bought the yarn and started a hat for my youngest grandson. At seven months, he will not be able to scoff at being cast as a sweet little pumpkin. Most patterns for the vegetable and fruit hats are knit in worsted weight so I am making up a pattern for this lighter weight yarn. Whether these boys live across town or the country, knitting a hat that fits is a gamble. I'll be finished shortly and that is a good thing. This hat won't fit anyone next year.

Wherever you are, I hope the change of season is full of possibilities. Happy Autumn.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Some of my projects take longer than others. This bright crazy Apron Strings Quilt has been in progress since 1995. Some years I put the box away and worked on other handwork. I may not work quickly but I am persistent. This past weekend, I sewed the last stitches of the binding.

My copy of the Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, circa 1980, that published the pattern is long gone. As I recall, there was a line drawing of a block without any specific instructions for overall design. No matter, I began piecing scraps. I sewed the four patches and half square triangles by machine and then hand stitched the four units into blocks. About midway through piecing, I decided to arrange small squares of the four patches so the colors marched diagonally across the quilt. I numbered the color combinations, made a diagram, and pieced accordingly. I sewed rows of blocks together by hand and sewed rows together by machine. After finishing the top, I cobbled together a backing from large leftover pieces of fabric with parts of a quilt that never fit together.

Most of the scraps in the quilt come from other sewing projects and quilts. Several blocks contain a red, white, and blue print from a quilt my Mom made for our son. She pieced an Ohio Star crib quilt for him in 1981-1982. Other scraps come from a good teacher friend, now in her 80's. On the first day of a teaching assignment, I walked by her first grade classroom. She was reading the picture book, Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt to her class. At the end of the day, I introduced myself and we have been friends ever since. I pieced blocks on a trip my daughter and I took to commemorate her 21st birthday and my 50th birthday. My mother and I sat in the shade at Mahoney State Park as I stitched on blocks and she worked on counted cross stitch. Our extended family was together celebrating my parents' forty-fifth anniversary with my siblings and families.

This summer I took the quilt to a woman who does beautiful machine quilting. The drive out to her old gracious farmhouse is part of finished the quilt. After she finished, I sewed scraps together to make the binding. Two long pieces of binding are leftover from a quilt I made for my daughter when she was five years old. The day I finished stitching the binding, our son and oldest grandson arrived for the weekend. My husband joined them as A. attended his first Nebraska football game. The next morning, he helped me hold the quilt over the railing for a photo.

Lives and quilts stitched from pieces and memories are so very good.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Following a Thread

Years ago I claimed one corner of the family room as a sewing corner. I hung a few things on the wall, including a counted thread pattern that came from my paternal grandmother. I put the yellowed newsprint in an inexpensive frame and never thought much more about it. The other day I took it down while dusting and found a story. My grandparents lost a farm during the Depression and my grandfather died around 1940. Though it all my grandmother raised three healthy children. She was loving, kind, and very frugal. She used a magnifying glass to count stitches in photos of needlework so she could stitch the design without buying the pattern. When I looked carefully at this pattern, I found numbers Grandma had penciled near the embroidery key.

This pattern was written in German and published by the J. Wiehller Company of Berlin. The title, "Dumpfaffen" means "old world finch." The color key directs the birds be stitched in red, gray, and browns, making them similar to the purple finches in my yard. I began to wonder if Grandma inherited the pattern from her mother, Agatha. Grandma didn't buy many patterns. Perhaps my great grandmother brought it to Nebraska when she immigrated from Prussia in the late 1800's. She was 18 or 19 years old when she came with her parents. 

I gave up dusting and searched for notes I made while having a conversation with my aunt and two of her cousins, three Agatha's granddaughters. They have passed away so I can't ask them about this pattern. However my notes reminded me that Agatha learned advanced sewing skills and hat trimming while still in Prussia. She stayed in Marienburg, away from her family, for six weeks to learn those skills. Rumor has it that while she was there, she pierced her ears and learned to dance, quite a statement by a young Mennonite girl in Prussia. These ladies were quick to add that these were only rumors and no one knew for sure if they were true. Regardless, my great grandmother liked to make things. She also loved music and composed at least one piano piece. Her four sons sang as a quartet. Her daughters pooled money to buy a piano for the family. The three ladies I visited with remembered Agatha often sang to her grandchildren as I sing to mine. As a purple finch lands on the bird feeder, I wonder if Agatha liked to watch the birds. 

I am a saver of old family stuff. Sometimes I look around and wonder why I save it. I want my children to take only things they want. Stuff accumulates, makes clutter, and takes up space. For me, the stories that go with the stuff are more important. I am writing some of the stories and putting them in a notebook. They won't take up much space. As I followed the thread of this story, I finished a shawl. Maybe I'll dust another day. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Pickle Time

The summer temps are soaring, the humidity is high, and the cucumber vines are producing abundantly. Two hills, each with eight seeds, are vining up and over the raised beds. The cucumbers play hide and seek with my grandson as he exclaims with glee at spying the biggest and pokiest.

When family and friends refuse to take more, I make what our family calls "bread and butter pickles." Now I wonder if anyone ever ate them with bread and butter. Really, they are better in potato or egg salad. I use a recipe my Mom found in the red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens looseleaf cookbook. My version of this cookbook was published in 1973. The edges and spine are worn and the pages with favorite recipes have smudges from frequent use.

The pickle ingredients are basic: sliced cucumbers, green peppers, and onion. Cover the sliced vegetables with pickling salt and ice and let sit for 3 hours. Then turn on some kitchen music and wash jars. Sing as you drain and combine the veggies with cider vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric, celery seed. Bring to a boil, put in clean hot jars, screw on lids, and water bath for five minutes. Change the CD and sing with gusto as you clean-up the mess. These pickles aren't hard to make but it does take a good portion of the day. Singing helps pass the time. Mom and I made these without a food processor. We sliced the vegetables by hand, sometimes scraping knuckles or fingers. How fortunate I am to have a food processor for pickles, pesto, garlic, nuts, and other kinds of chopping.

In other garden notes, the basil tastes great while the tomatoes are late in setting on fruit. The healthiest tomato plant is growing out of the compost bins. I think this plant must be from cherry or grape tomato scraps tossed in during early spring. I'm not sure how I'll get in to harvest any tomatoes but I enjoy watching them grow. It is always fun when a plant pops up at the edge of the compost bin.

I'm knitting on a pair of socks and cast on a shawl in a pattern I've wanted to try for some time. I'm pondering my next project from yarn that has been in a storage tote for a long time. The worsted yarn project requires cooler days and a little math. Take good care of yourself and others on these hot crazy summer days.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

New/Old Projects

This summer I've been knitting a few projects from yarn that has been marinating in storage bins. These mitts are one result of a new/old combination. Sometime in the 1990's, I knit a disaster of a sweater for my daughter. I combined several patterns to make a cabled pullover with set-in sleeves. I knew little about sleeve design but persevered with the sleeve caps several times. What was I thinking? I still couldn't design a sleeve cap anyone would want to wear. The sweater is long gone but the leftover yarn, a blend of merino and border leister, held up well.

Last month, I re-skeined and washed the yarn to remove the crimp from previous stitches. There was enough for two pairs of mitts and one pair of mittens. In my mitten file, I found an old Coats and Clark Book No.192, copyright 1969. The booklet sold for thirty-five cents and contained 39 patterns, most of them rather clunky looking. However, the mitten pattern is a classic and I was happy to rediscover it. The left leaning decrease at the top is a slip one, knit one, pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch instead of the typical SSK (slip slip knit.) I did substitute the SSK decrease. No doubt, the pattern was written before Barbara Walker invented that decrease. These will be a gift or go to a charity.

Fingerless mitts are good for driving, reading in winter, and walking in Spring and Fall. They make great gifts. I knit a pair of Kindling Mitts, teaching myself how to cable without a needle. Why have I not tried to do this sooner? I also knit these Ribbed Mitts. The pattern is free and well written. This past weekend, I gave the Ribbed Mitts to my daughter on her birthday. Twenty years later, I thought she might like to have something knit from the yarn that is wearable. No puffy sleeves were involved.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Stitching into Summer

A few months ago, I read about the book Slow Stitch. Last week I checked it out from the library. The author presents an approach to textile art that includes mending, darning, embroidery, and repurposing. She showcases several different artists. In most of the work, the imperfections of hand stitching become part of an art piece. She writes of building up worn fabrics by incorporating a patch into the fabric. I particularly enjoyed a section on Kate Bowles and her handmade books. Slow Stitch also includes sections on stitch journals as well as dying embroidery thread with natural materials such as onion skins, walnuts, and black beans. I have no plans to dye thread but it is interesting to read about it. In fact, I may never create textiles like those in the book but I'm intrigued by following the process back through all steps to better understand stitching. It reminds me of following words and ideas back to their origins while writing.  Reusing or even using materials on hand also appeals to me. Wellesley-Smith's ideas seem like an interesting jumping off point for creating and making. I found this book to be good reading on a summer day.

In a different kind of slow stitching, I finished Jonah's Christmas stocking. Although it is made of entirely new materials (if nothing, I am inconsistent) I lined it with a found piece of fabric. The pattern was published in the 1950's. For me, intarsia knitting is an exercise in slowing down. This project required some quiet extended knitting time without listening to podcasts or an audiobook. Picking up and twisting in each color while following the chart goes best one stitch at a time. The finishing that involves steam blocking, weaving in of at least 52 million ends, cinching up a few gaps between colors, seaming the stocking, and sewing and installing a lining took four days to complete. While this stockings was an exercise in patience, slowing down gave me plenty of time to knit love and care into the project. I had fun imagining what this little guy will look like through the coming years. Right now, he is five and a half months old and growing like a summer weed. This is Jonah, in his whale swim trunks, a few week ago. He's grown since then.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June Knitting Notes

Hello. As sometimes happens, spring has jumped into hot summer with near 100 degree days. When the Christmas stocking (see previous post) is finished, I'll cast on another project or two that doesn't involve a large mass of wool in my lap. I steam blocked the stocking and wove in at least fifty two ends. Next I'll mattress stitch the seam. Then I'll make a lining, crochet a loop for hanging, and sew the most important jingle bell to the toe. This is record time for completing one of these stockings.


By the end of May, I finished the Frozen Silver Shawl with two yards of yarn to spare. The shawl turned out to be a large slightly dramatic asymmetrical triangle. It seems to call for a wearer who is taller than 5'2" and wears something besides t-shirts with a cotton skirt, yoga pants, khaki capris, or slacks. I often wear smaller shawls out to dinner, to the library, grocery store, farmer's market or gatherings with friends. I may give the shawl away or maybe we will have to dress up and buy symphony tickets.

Regardless, the soft rose yarn and two stitch patterns were a joy to knit. I had previously knit one of the stitches in the Honey Cowl. Since the cowl is worked in the round and the shawl is knit from side to side, the same stitch can be made in two different ways. This is useful information. Although we knitters may not use a technique or construction method forever, many of us seek to learn new skills, try different constructions, and discover new tricks and tips. The possibilities are endless. I also applaud the knitting community's respect for individual differences and preferences.

Now I am mulling over smaller projects - mitts, socks, mittens and perhaps a smaller shawl.
First I have to hook up the soaker hose and water the tomatoes and basil. A few weeks from now, they will make a delicious pasta sauce. Happy Summer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Knitting Them Safely Home

We had a happy family celebration on Sunday of this Memorial Day weekend. Our son-in-law was ordained as a pastor and then he baptized his youngest son. Friends, family, and extended family gathered with the congregation to celebrate both milestones and then we had a family potluck lunch. This morning I am savoring the weekend and the joy of being together.

Yesterday everyone packed up and headed for home or out for a small vacation. Late spring weather on the Great Plains alternates between balmy sunshine and fierce thunderstorms. This month storms with hail, lightning strikes, and funnel clouds have been particularly severe. Last night I kept an eye on storms rolling across the Plains as Patrick's brother flew to Utah and our son to Texas. At the same time our daughter and her family drove west down I-80 to his seminary graduation in Denver.

What's a knitter to do besides knit? I worked on a Christmas stocking for the newest little grandson. Last week in a quiet moment, I had located the Christmas stocking pattern, charted the baby's name, and retrieved the bag of stocking yarn. In the 1950's, my aunt knit the same intarsia stockings for myself and three siblings, and her five children. Later she knit them for her children's spouses and grandchildren. She shared the pattern so I could knit stockings for my husband, two children, a niece, and son-in-law. Now I'm making them for my grandchildren.

Intarsia knitting is messy. Only a knitter could see this tangle and believe it can turn into a Christmas stocking. Paying attention and a little faith are required. As I watched radar and waited for text messages last night, I worked on this stocking. Late in the evening, everyone arrived safely at their destinations. I felt like I had knit them home.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Granola: The Next Generation

When I was a graduate student in the mid 1970's, my fiancé and I stood in line for over an hour to eat at a local health food restaurant. The waitresses wore tie dyed t-shirts, denim skirts, and birkenstocks. Pots of ivy, asparagus fern, and philodendron hung in front of windows. We ordered green salads, quiche, or sandwiches of sprouts and turkey between dark rustic breads. Friends and I traded recipes for granola made from oatmeal, wheat germ and a large amount of vegetable oil. Then not liking cold cereal for breakfast and lacking imagination, I stopped making granola and went on to bagels. I thought bagels were healthier than doughnuts but I did slather them with cream cheese and jelly.

Fast forward to 2016 Mother's Day. My husband and I spent the afternoon and ate dinner with my daughter and her family. Playing hot wheels and helping the five year old cast a fishing line off the deck was lively fun. Kate brought me a small container of home made granola. Her recipe, although still high in calories, has more nutritional value than my older version. It calls for more variety grains, nuts, seeds with less oil. She used refined coconut oil (better nutritional value than vegetable oil) and flavored the mixture with honey, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. During the week, I sprinkled this improved version over yogurt and added a little to my trail mix of roasted unsalted nuts and raisins. Yesterday I made a big batch and divided it into containers for freezing. All of this makes me smile. Here I am making the next generation of granola.

As for knitting, I am almost finished with cotton washcloths for awhile. I used most of the bubble gum pink yarn so it is no longer taking up space in the storage bins. I tried other patterns for the pink yarn before discovering the pattern, All Washed Up. It is easy to memorize and less boring than others. Two sections remain to be knitted on the rose colored shawl and I need to knit a foot to finish this pair of socks. Nothing like knitting to get a husband through a knee replacement/revision surgery. He is post-surgery two weeks today and doing well. The jury is out on how many degrees the new knee will bend into flexion. We are hopeful he will have better range of motion by the end of physical therapy. As we knitters say, "Keep calm and knit on." In the meantime, a little granola is a nice snack.

Vanilla Latte Socks Yarn: Regia, Arnie and Carlos


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April News

The Spring Shawl of the previous post is growing. Knitting garter stitch rows between slipped stitches is a peaceful counterpoint to the exuberance of spring celebrations. Yesterday I planted tomatoes, peppers, basil, and thyme. I didn't have much compost. Fall leaves, grass clippings, and tea bags need more time to simmer under a hot sun. A robin is weaving a nest way out on a birch limb. I trust she knows her business. The spring flowers are early but glorious this April, National Poetry Month.

Have you noticed the best knitting projects acquire a rhythm? Needles move in, out, around and through. Knit two, purl two ribs create structure. Knit three rows, slide or twist a stitch into a vine. Slip slip knit, knit two, yarn over, knit two, knit two together shapes a leaf. Spaces between stitches make a pattern.

Spaces between lines structure a poem. Sounds in letters and words lull the listener/reader. Then the poet breaks a line, repeats a phrase, or substitutes "quiet" for "hush." Rhythm and meaning change.

If you are in search of a poem, read your knitting, pick rhubarb in the rain, or peer into a tangle of columbine, wild with color.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Welcome Spring

Spring, ever so welcome and a bit early, has arrived. The first week in March I stepped out on the deck and heard hundreds of sandhill cranes flying overhead. Two weeks later, my husband and I drove out to central Nebraska. During the afternoon we rolled down the windows and drove county roads to watch the birds in the fields. The fields were brown and the March sky filled with blustery gray clouds. Crane watching isn't a cherry blossom festival but a spectacle of natural color and season. In the fields, the cranes bounce up and down, fly a short distance, and then parachute down to another feeding spot. All the time, they call to each other with sounds that haven't changed for thousands of years.

After dinner, we dressed in layers and walked out onto a pedestrian bridge over the Platte. While light left the sky and the smell of cold wet grasses rose from the riverbanks, we chatted with two women from Colorado and listened to a father and children from Chicago spot two deer. At sunset, the cranes flew up and down the river searching for their evening roost. They kept their distance from bald eagles in a tree on a nearby sandbar. They were also wary of the humans gawking from the bridge. Still we viewed extended wings and red masks through binoculars as we listened to their ancient cries. The Rowe Sanctuary  website posts excellent photos and information about the cranes. Crane Music: A Natural History of American Cranes by Paul A. Johnsgard, a noted ornithologist, is another good resource. Most springs, I reread a section that begins,  "In the heart of North America, there is a river . . .  There is a season in North America . . . There is a bird in North America . . . "  And so, once again spring begins.

The temperatures bounce up and down from just below freezing to a warm 81. On a cold gloomy day last week, I made a list of spring cleaning chores. Saturday was warm so I worked outdoors. I stirred the compost bins. Then I gave the bird feeder a soak in a bucket of water while pulling weeds from the vegetable garden and raised bed. I finished the afternoon by potting up some pansies for the front porch. Flowering trees in my neighborhood are in full bloom. The blooms are early this year but they are gorgeous. Fresh air blowing through the house is glorious.

My knitting projects have also turned to spring. I threw caution and a cowl-in-progress to the spring winds. Instead I pulled out two skeins of rose colored yarn that I have been saving for something, evidently a Frozen Silver Shawl. Alternating garter and textured stitches is a peaceful knit. In the process, I learned a new stitch - Diamond Pattern- which looks like a trellis to me. The instructions are very clear and the stitch isn't difficult.  I have also been knitting up some dish/wash cloths. Over this last winter and holiday season, I had given my stack away. I enjoy giving them to new Moms, someone going through a rough patch, to say thank you, or just to brighten a day. A few new dish cloths in my kitchen would be a breath of fresh air. Perhaps they will motivate me as I move through my inside Spring cleaning chores.

What about you? How do you welcome Spring?