Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Slow Spring

After one glorious warm day on Monday, the temps have dropped and the trees are dripping. Gentle rain fell last night and continues this morning. Usually by now, the flowering trees would be blooming, instead the buds are just beginning to open. This is a year of slow spring. We have slow cooking, slow knitting, and slow reading so why not slow spring? I went out this morning and the air is cool, damp, and so very fresh smelling. I hope to walk a little later. This is a season to savor. 

I reknit the border on the Lavender Shawl. I doubt anyone would have noticed the wonky lace but I am happier to have it fixed. I enjoyed playing with all the shades of lavender. The yarn with three eyelet rows came from an independent dyer who has gone out of business. In 2011, I knit an Ishbel Shawl and a pair of fingerless mitts from the yarn and saved every scrap. The dibs and dabs are part of this shawl. Other leftovers came from a yarn my sister brought me from a trip to Canada and yarn I purchased on a visit to Amherst, Mass. and Connecticut last April. Once my sister and I were going to knit identical shawls so I bought the green yarn. Neither of us finished our shawls and I have been striping the sage green into projects ever since. As we say, every project has a story. 

I cast on the Rockywold Fingerless Mitts as a KAL project for the designer's group, Blue Peninsula. The twisted rib cuff is a nice detail and slows me enough to enjoy the yarn. The mitts are a good small project for Spring. 

Otto The Owl Who Loved Poetry is a charming picture book. The little creatures of the woods listen as Otto recites lines from well known poets Emily Dickinson, Christina Rossetti and others. They also help him accept himself as a poet-owl. I am currently reading, In Winter's Kitchen: Growing Roots and Breaking Bread in the Northern Heartland by Beth Dooley. Each chapter tells the history and current agricultural practices of a food: corn, sweet potatoes, apples, wheat, cranberries, butter and cheese, and more. This information is available from other sources but it is nice to have it collected and organized in one volume. Dooley includes short personal anecdotes about her relationship and use of the foods. The small publisher, Milkweed Editions, is a favorite of mine. 

I found this early recently opened small purple "flag" iris this morning. I see only one but more are coming. Linking with Kat and the Unravelers. What are you knitting and reading today? 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Poetry Month

April is a good month for poetry. The rhythm in a poem lulls a reader to peace one moment and alerts her to take notice at another. Here we are in April when the rhythm of the season is easily noticed. The weekend snow melts under Monday's sun. The process of freezing and thawing breaks down the hard covering on wild seeds, allowing them to germinate. I am trying to remember that as I get impatient for warmer days.

Poetry originated in the oral tradition before literacy. Early poems and ballads were sung or chanted as a way to remember history, story, and law. They were also offered as prayer and hymn. No wonder rhythm is essential to a poem. Iambic pentameter, a common metrical form in poetry, matches the rhythm of breath. It was probably the longest line an early poet could recite without pausing for breath. I don't think that is coincidence.

I have been rereading poems by William Stafford. He was born in Hutchinson, Kansas and lived in the northwest US much of his adult life. During World War Two, he was a conscientious objector and worked in the civilian public service camps. Stafford is a plain spoken poet with a beautiful sometimes wry sense of metaphor. I hope you read and find a new favorite poem this month.

As far as knitting, yesterday was a day of unraveling. The scrap shawl is back on the needles and I am reknitting the lace border with a small ball of yarn that looks like ramen noodles. The baby sweater is blocking. I am looking for some new projects with an easy knitting rhythm. Linking to Kat the Unravelers this week.

Today I offer one of my poems. I wrote this several years ago as part of a group of poems about containers.

Ordinary Basket

Outside my window, mama robin builds  
a nest of grass and twigs. Working like
ancients, she weaves plant fibers 
into a basket to shelter her babes.

Soon offspring are squawking for food. Days
later she pushes them out, like all women who fill
and empty baskets with ratty socks, ripe apples,
stray buttons, or fresh bread for grieving friends.

Baskets, carefully crafted, carried over arms, mudded
into trees, balanced on heads, or slung across shoulders.
Baskets, heavy and light, older than cloth,
weaving a record of a woman’s ordinary day.

(Copyright, 2015 Jane A. Wolfe)

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Color slowly returns to the outdoors. Patches of our yard are quite green. Yesterday I walked past a row of lilac bushes and noticed the tips of green leaves just visible from buds. The goldfinches have molted from silvery green to bright yellow. Ever so slightly we tip toward warmer days. Much as I enjoy wearing my hand knits, walking without a cowl or scarf wrapped around my neck is freeing.

Lavender is the color of my knitting these days. The Lavender Baby Sweater is knitting up well. A different pattern and a comfortable needle size made the difference. This free pattern is a recipe. The designer doesn't specify body or sleeve lengths. Instructions for the hem read like an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern - finish with the slipped stitch pattern and garter hem as at the top of the yoke. I have knit this sweater twice before and had good results. I made notes but can't find them. Sticky notes on pages of paper patterns have a way of floating away. I plan to tuck a small paperback blank journal into my knitting corner and then use it. Today's sky is hazy from the prairie burn in Kansas so the color is washing out in this photo. 

I also blocked and wove in the ends on this third shawl of scraps. This is my shawl recipe for a boomerang shawl. When I need a peaceful garter stitch knit, I gather up leftovers from fingering weight yarn and stripe them together. I use the shape from the Nurmilintu Shawl. There are other boomerang shawl recipes on Ravelry and any would work. I usually add a few eyelet rows as much for knitting interest as for design. For this particular shawl, I knit the lace border from the Nurmilintu Shawl. The garter stitch was great while my eye healed. I should have waited for new glasses before knitting the border. I plan to rip out the border and reknit it for the third time. I thought I could live with the wonky lace but cannot. I love the symmetry of lace. It's all knitting and will only take a couple of evenings.

I hope your projects are treating you well. As soon as the smoky air blows away, I am ready to poke around in my garden and perennial flower beds. I am looking for green.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Redux: Knitting and a Book

Last week I finished a second pair of About Town Mitts. The simple classic texture was fun to knit and doesn't take a full skein of yarn. I'll likely knit them again. The pair on the right was knit with sport weight. I modified the red and blue pair to knit them from worsted scraps. The blue yarn is Mountain Colors Goat, a yarn I have used to make mittens. The deep colors are a joy to work with in the fall and winter. I lost the label from the red yarn long ago but it also has some mohair content. The two yarns worked well together in this project. They are going in the gift/donation basket. Since finishing the mitts, I picked up my new glasses (hooray for sharp precise vision!) and cast on a baby sweater. Alas I have done some unraveling. Such is knitting life.

I bought this pale lavender baby yarn at an after Christmas sale. I cast on the Louise Cardigan but could not knit the yarn to gauge. I tried twice, with two different sized needles. The sweater body was too large. Sometimes I just knit a baby sweater with my preferred gauge but thought the proportions of this sweater would be wonky. I pulled the second set of 169 stitches off the needle, reclaimed the yarn, and cast on the Seamless Yoked (Baby) Sweater. I've knit this pattern previously. Wish me luck. 

We are traveling to New England next month so I thought I'd read something by women writers from the area. Earlier I read How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson. Nelson was the Poet Laureate of Connecticut, 2001 - 2006. I am in search of poetry by a New Hampshire poet, Patricia Fargnoli. This week I am rereading The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. Jewett's work is a little idyllic but still describes the Maine countryside and inhabitants in the mid to late 1800s. When I reread a book, I'm not in a hurry to discover the ending. I read more slowly noticing new details (or in this case any details) and savoring words, sentences, and paragraphs. Jewett was a friend of Willa Cather's so that makes her writing interesting to me. Jewett, like Cather, writes about ordinary people and the places they live. The places are as integral to the story as the characters. I'm enjoying the old fashion-ness of the story.

Linking with Kat and the Unravelers. Jump on over for reading and knitting inspiration. 

Today the sun has come out and the temps are slowly inching upwards. I think I'll take a walk before it snows again on Friday. I'd rather pass on the winter redux. Ah - Spring.