Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 21, 2017

The day is very gray here in Lincoln. The air is cold and the sky hangs heavy with moisture as bare tree tops sway with the wind. Our area has been very dry so rain turning to snow is welcome.

Today is the Winter Solstice, the day the ancients created to coax the return of the sun. It is also a day to knit for peace. As rain begins to fall, I will make another cup of tea and knit mittens for my grandsons. Many are working for peace and common good because all children deserve better. In spite of the new tax law, the natural world cycles toward the light. 

Many mornings I watch the birds outside my window. Today I send this little poem of mine to you. Thank you for reading.  Peace.

December Finch

The little house finch faces the north wind
curling her toes around the lip of the feeder.

She folds her wings into a shawl as fine
as Shetland Lace. The wind blows.

How strong the tiny heart that beats in
the exquisite breast of brown and cream.

The feeder bobs in the breeze. She extends
her neck, chooses a seed, cracks it open.

Breeze ruffles her downy feathers
as she mends the day with her grace.

copyright Jane Wolfe, December 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Windy Wednesday

The wind is blowing a gale today. The little finches are hanging on to the feeder perches for dear life. They must have remarkable balance and strength in their little bodies. I'm having a cup of tea before I brave the wind to run a few errands. 

Whether our grandsons and I sit side by side or FaceTime, we love to read. Sometimes they request a specific title and sometimes I offer them a choice from the nearby basket of books or the stack on the coffee table. From time to time I choose books to match the season. Micah, the guy who wants new hats, suggested we read a different Christmas book this season. I admire this new adventurous spirit. Last night I read Santa Mouse, a favorite since his mother was a toddler. Once I began, I could almost recite it by heart. Soon I hope to read one of Patricia Polocco's Christmas books. Polacco writes longer texts that often combine two cultural traditions. She also illustrates her books and they are beautiful. Two of her other titles, Thank You Mr. Falker and The Junkyard Wonders speak to her experience of overcoming dyslexia. 

I am enjoying an old collection of short historical pieces called Christmas in the Midwest by Clarence Andrews. The book was published in 1984 by Midwest Heritage Publishing Company in Iowa City, Iowa. This light seasonal reading is a combination of fiction and nonfiction. The endpaper is a copy of artwork by Ted Kooser, who was born in Iowa but has lived in Nebraska most of his life. Interestingly, none of his poetry or prose appears in this book. The businesses have names that I suspect hold meaning for him. The large store on the bottom right is labeled, "Younkers," a department store that originated in Iowa but currently has locations in Omaha and Lincoln. Kooser's father worked at a Younkers in Iowa. Once I heard him read an essay about making Christmas bows at the store when he was a boy.

I am ready to knit the decreases on Micah's hat and nearing the end of the Contrail Shawl. I have never done a Christmas Eve cast-on but this might be the year. Maybe the wind will blow in an idea for the next project. 

Link - Kat and the Unravelers   

Sunday, December 10, 2017

This Season

I am sitting in my warm home feeling fortunate. The morning is cold but the sun is shining. I have hot tea in my mug, a jumble of knitting projects in two bags at my feet, and books piled up on the coffee and end tables. This past week I put out a few Christmas treasures. At the same time I stepped away from the news feeds to honor this season. As with many things in life, less is more.

I am enjoying this small collection of angels. When I was a girl, one of my grandmothers bought four little red angel/bells because she had four grandchildren. I am her oldest grandchild and can recall how she lined them up on top of her boxed television set and added one with each new baby in her family. Over the years she added angels for five more grandchildren and the first few great grandchildren. After she died, my sister and I shared the collection. Later I inherited two angels that belonged to my mother-in-law. None of these pieces were expensive and a couple of them have texture that resists dusting. The first four and the ones from my mother-in-law date from the 1950's. They all bring back memories. I remember helping my Grandfather wind garland around a gas lamp post in their front yard. I remember helping Gram wrap gifts in white tissue paper, adding what she called "seals," the early version of stickers. When I bake, I recall the cookies and candies she set out on a table on her unheated screened back porch. To be allowed to walk around the table and choose homemade goodies from tins was a treat and she treated us often.

Early last week, I knit two small ornaments because I wanted to try them. I used left over self striping sock yarn and knit one in an evening. I found the knitting a little tedious, especially the sleeves. Two are enough for now. I put the red/green/blue one on our small tree and tied the pink one onto my youngest niece's gift and sent it to her in Montana. My mother stitched the placemats and they are a treasure.

I finished the three color cowl. It needs to be washed and blocked. The Contrail shawl grows by a row or two every few days. I cast on Micah's hat out of multicolored yarn. I am improvising a pattern. The ribbing is K2, P2 and the body is a 6/2 broken rib. I'll work out the swirl type decreases when I get to the top. Christmas fudging might be required. These projects do not have deadlines. The hat and shawl are my knitting for the Knitting for Peace Project. Last year I knit the peace project cowl and enjoyed it. This year I purchased the shawl pattern and am following Christina's blog posts. She offers the pattern for a minimal price with some proceeds going to charity. I don't often buy patterns until I am ready to cast on but I wanted to support her efforts. I may or may not knit the shawl but I will be knitting somewhere on December 21. 

May you find peace in this holiday season.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

If you give a knitter a skein of yarn . . .

Sun streams in the south windows on this early December day. My Christmas cactus is in full bloom. I am ignoring the empty grocery list although I do have several cookie magazines stacked on the kitchen table. My holiday plan is to choose some simple pleasures to enjoy. Baking cookies to share and getting out a few treasures appeals to me. After mailing packages this week, I'll write a few personal notes to distant family and friends.

The Contrail Shawl is resting in a knitting bag as I knit on a three color cowl. The green yarn was a prize in a Ravelry Knit Along. Although the green isn't a shade I wear, the hand of the yarn is lovely. It has been sitting in a basket next to the leftover pumpkin colored yarn. As I looked at them, I thought about the Three Color Cashmere Cowl. I got out the leftover blue yarn but it is heavier than the other two. Can you see where this is going? Off I went to a local yarn shop looking for a third color in the same brand as the green. I came home with a skein of yellow. This reminds me of the  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series by Laura Numeroff. If you give a knitter a skein of yarn, she'll want to buy another. I have no idea what I will do with this cowl but it is fun to knit. Since I don't like great big cowls, I shortened up the pattern sections. I had a dickens of a time creating jogless stripes. I tried two different techniques that work well with wider stripes but the joins in these two row stripes are wonky. Someone will have to wear the cowl with the joins at the back of their neck.

In other news, Micah, our four year old grandson, decided he wants to wear a different hat each day. This is a little guy who doesn't like tags in shirts, zippers in sweatshirts, or pockets on pants. He would prefer to wear shorts under his snow pants. In his defense, he has very sensitive skin, so his preferences are understandable if a little challenging. His request for hats is something to honor. His mother said, the wilder the colors, the better. So I ordered this skein. I thought a lighter weight hat might be more comfortable for him. I hope his Dad is ok with a little pink. There is some bright orange and green to balance the pinks. I can knit two little boy hats from one skein so there will be one for his younger brother. Micah also has an older brother. I can't send two hats for three boys. If this grandmother knits two hats, she'll likely knit another and chances are she'll need more yarn.

Enjoy the weekend.