Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Holiday Knitting

Cold rain blew in this morning. The skies are very gray and the outside air was damp when I filled the bird feeder. My husband and I had a quiet Christmas. We celebrated Christmas Eve with his family and then spent yesterday together. Technology allowed my three siblings and I to exchange greetings. We also had some Face Time and photos from our children.  Everyone is well and happy. No one is trying to get home in inclement weather and for that I am thankful. Yesterday, Lance and I took a long afternoon walk on a trail near Wilderness Park. If we had walked at sunset, we might have seen a great horned owl. Another walk for another day.

Since I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers, I'll write about knitting and reading. Over the weekend, I unraveled my Christmas sock back to the ribbing. After completing the gusset and some of the foot, I noticed the broken rib pattern interrupted the patterning in the yarn. If I had looked at the pattern photo that came with the yarn, I'd have knit a plain stockinette sock. Ribbed socks fit me better so they have become my vanilla sock pattern. Haste just made more time to knit with the joyful yarn. Christmas Eve day, I started over. It wasn't quite a Christmas Eve cast on but what the heck. We had the tree lights on and I had a cup of tea and cookie beside me on the end table. It is all knitting, right?   

Since the fridge is full of leftovers and cookies, I hope to cast on an Archer sweater today. The yarn has been properly swatched. Weeks ago, while knitting for Christmas, I wound the first skein. The yoke begins with an unusual construction so I've been waiting for some uninterrupted daylight hours. This afternoon will be perfect for a cup of tea and this project. My goal is to begin without errors. Wish me luck. Once the sweater is definitely a go, I'll make a project page on Ravelery. 

I am reading The Hello Girls, a nonfiction work about the young women who served as telephone operators for the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War One. The information could have been better edited but the story coinciding with women's suffrage is fascinating. After the war, a few of the women spent years trying to receive the benefits accorded to men who served in the war. I am also enjoying a Christmas gift from a good friend, American Journal: Fifty Poems For Our Time, edited and introduced by Tracy K. Smith. Smith, the 22nd Poet Laureate of the U.S. is an elegant poet in her own right. This collection includes work of poets from all walks of American life. Smith writes in her introduction, "This is why I love poems: they require me to sit still, listen deeply, and imagine putting myself in someone else's unfamiliar shoes. The world I return to when the poem is over seems fuller and more comprehensible as a result." Smith was interviewed earlier this year by Krista Tippett on"On Being." The interview is worth a listen. Smith has much to teach us.

Stay warm and dry. Enjoy this week between Christmas and New Years Day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Gentle Season

The Winter Solstice approaches. Since the snow and ice have melted, I walk later in the day, often around 4:30 p.m. As the sun sets, the sky changes colors and holiday lights come on around the neighborhood. The gentle shift between light and dark is magical.

Late Autumn*

November's end and from bare limbs
small birds keep me company.
Complex structures of hollow bone,
feathers for warmth and flight.

Winter goldfinch waits to feed.
Chickadee flits by on tiny wing.
Downy propels his body up the tree.
Juncos etch colors of the heart.

Red-breasted nuthatches arrive.
Scribes with inky black heads
tell a story common to the 
forest, now set on the prairie.

The pair records the
first December light.
Calligraphers of a journey,
gentle words for a season. 

*Copyright Jane A. Wolfe, December 2018

However you celebrate this season, I wish you peace, joy, love, and light.  As is my Wednesday custom, I link with Kat and the Unravelers

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Comfort and Joy

Here we are on this bright crisp December day in the midst of another holiday season. The nativity set, complete with two Josephs, is in its familiar place on the mantle. Lance and the kids gave me two pieces each Christmas for several years. For some reason, he and my son picked out the second Joseph thinking it was one of the three wisemen. Eventually, my son-in-law and daughter located the missing wise man on eBay and gave it to me. This old Hallmark set brings me comfort and joy. I love looking at it and remembering the young sweet faces of our son and daughter. Now they nurture their own families through the season. I hung our stockings and finished up with my minimalist decorating which means putting out a few favorites, enough to make the house feel like Christmas. 

My daughter, the boys, and I are reading Christmas stories via FaceTime. It is fun to watch their choices change day to day and year to year. Jonah usually wants to read "one more book" and I am happy to oblige. This season he loves the reindeer and rhythm in The Night Before Christmas. The book is easy to read via FaceTime because it has one illustration per page. Familiar text is a bonus. I have become quite adept at juggling a book and a cell phone while reading. The fingerless mitts were a hit with all the boys. Jonah wore his to church and showed them to everyone who would listen, "Nebraska, my Grammy." He likes red.

Last night I knit the heel flap and turn on the first Christmas sock. The blue faced leicester and nylon yarn is going to make a wooly sturdy sock. I chose an eye of partridge heel flap to go with the exuberant yarn. This week I heeded the good advice of blog friends to knit more of the shawl before starting over with another pattern. I discovered I really like the yarn/pattern combination. Experience has taught me that ripping out projects at 10:00 p.m. is not a good idea. Now I'm adding the "knit a little more" idea to my bag of knitting tricks. Shawls are truly my comfort knitting through any season and the subtle texture changes keep this project interesting. On these early dark evenings with tea in a Christmas mug, I knit on the shawl. Yesterday I wound the second skein. The shawl is growing.

I came upon Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer at the library. Maya Angelou's work is a treasure. This is a small book to be savored - one thoughtful poem at a time. I also pulled a copy of her book, Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem from my shelf. This book was a gift from my son quite a few years ago. The ribbon book mark was on the package with a small card. Either of these books would be a lovely gift for a reader. Comfort reading to be sure.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you the comfort and joy this season.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Early December

This morning I rose unusually early (for me) and saw the sun come up over the horizon. What a welcome sight. After five gray days, I am ready for this bright day. The little birds: juncos, chickadees, finches, downy woodpeckers, and nuthatches keep me company. They feed heavily the day before a storm blows in and as the snow falls. Four or five pairs of cardinals frequent the neighborhood. One day while walking, I saw a group of male cardinals and several bluejays bathing in a large icy pool of water at the end of a driveway. I expect them to drink melted snow but flapping around  in the middle of the pool of icy water struck me as quite cold. I am sure they know best.

I am happy to report that Norah's Christmas stocking landed safely in Connecticut. Norah won't know the difference this Christmas. Her brothers are looking out for her though. I knit "Brother Bears" for each of the boys and Micah got an extra rainbow bear for his last birthday. He asked his Mom if I could knit a Sister Bear for Norah so "she won't feel left out." Well yes, I am sure I can - after the holidays.

This month I plan to knit more easy going projects. Often in warm weather I am searching for a shawl in white or light cream so I purchased some yarn that turned out to be a silver gray white. After the stocking was finished I cast on this shawl. I chose the pattern thinking it would be just right for this soft 2 ply-yarn. Although the texture in the fabric shows against the dark wood, the stitches are not well defined. In real life, the difference between the seed and garter stitch section is barely visible. I had a look around Ravelry and no other pattern jumped out as a possibility. This is the shape of shawl I enjoy wearing and I do prefer simpler motifs and textures. Maybe the yarn would show to better advantage with two more contrasting textures or maybe I'll stick with this pattern. Let me know if you have any thoughts.

In the meantime, I knit a cowl from scraps and cast on a pair of Christmas socks. The cowl needs to be blocked. I haven't decided what to do with it. It is rather pastel - pink, lavender, and blue - even for me.

My reading doldrums continue. I am reading The Overstory, a collection of short stories that has received good reviews. Many of the first stories in this collection (spoiler alert) contain a punch to the midsection - a suicide, death, or bad accident - that I am finding a little tiresome. The writing is good and I like the story of trees woven into the narrative so I continue to read. Maybe the time of the year has something to do with how I am reading this collection. Occasionally I pick up this book, A Vintage Christmas. It is a collection of very sweet old-fashioned Christmas stories when I need a happy, feel good read. I would like to find a first rate novel for these cold winter nights. I need to go book browsing - oh darn.

I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers and then I am going out to enjoy a little sunshine. I wish you a day of peace, love, and light.