Thursday, December 26, 2019

Knitting Journals

Hello. I hope you are enjoying the after glow of Christmas. I love these days between Christmas and New Year's when the kitchen is full of leftovers and the Christmas mugs are out on the counter. Today the sky is heavy with gray clouds and the air is damp. The forecast is for precipitation of some variety and the birds are feeding like crazy - even a white breasted nuthatch. After I post this, I plan to make a cup of hot tea and thumb through several new books.

Juliann asked me to write about my knitting journal so here I am with my less than glamorous record keeping and probably more than you want to know. I am not a scrapbooker, nor do I keep a bullet journal but I do like journals and notebooks. In the 1990's and early 2000's, I kept a quilting and knitting record in a Steno notebook. As I spent less time quilting and more knitting, I began taping yarn labels into the back pages. In 2014, I created the first of three knitting journals from a half-sized notebook. I have used the same methods in all three. The current notebook has an envelope inside the front cover where I stash labels until I have time to tape them on to a page and write accompanying notes.

I divide the notebooks into two sections. Under the first tab divider, I keep track of projects. If I have it, I tape in a label and jot down needle size, pattern name, and date of the finished project. Additional details go on Ravelry. The "Notes" paper is a little heavier than generic lined filler paper. I used to buy it at Office Max in the section with papers for my work planner. I don't know if it is still available but I am about to find out as have come to the end of leftovers from my work days.

In the second section, I keep notes on a few techniques, like knitting without a cable needle, so I don't have to look them up on websites. Interestingly, the more I knit, the more techniques I memorize so I need these notes less often. This section also contains a page with measurements and/or sizes for gift recipients, for example the length of sock foot for my daughter. When these notebooks fill up and they do because yarn labels take up space, I transfer the second section into a new notebook.

I used to keep a yearly count of yardage of yarn in and out. Yardage out was a combination of yarn knitted into projects and skeins donated to a new home. Yarn in was the yarn I purchased. It was interesting to track that information and prompted me to make some changes in the way I buy yarn. Last year, I decided I didn't care about the numbers so I quit keeping that record. It took up time that I'd rather use for something else.

Last winter I added a second journal. When I ordered it, I did not realize it had lined, unlined, and graphed pages so I decided to use it for knitting. Why have one journal when you can have two? It has become a workbook for knitting without a pattern. Last summer, I used it when I knit the lace scarf by choosing stitch patterns from a stitch dictionary. I also charted a lace pattern for a shawl that I later abandoned.

In both journals, I found lists for possible projects. I knit about 50% of these ideas. This doesn't bother me in the least because knitting is one area of my life I choose not to be bound by hard and fast rules. I store both journals in the end table next to my favorite knitting spot on the loveseat where they are handy.

Thank you Juliann for prompting this trip down memory lane. What about you? If you journal about your knitting, what works for you?

On this Thursday, I link with Kat and the Unravelers because these journals keep my knitting life from unraveling.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

A New Season

Happy Winter Solstice. Although light will be in short supply today, the sun streams in my windows. Today is as good a day as any to begin a new season.

Everyday Miracles *
December 2019

Orange berries feed the robin.
Leaves release Autumn's grace.

Junco returns to bare branch,
fragile nest visible once more.

Chickadees fluff against the cold.
Light and shadow dust early snow.

Come, let's walk together. Step
by step, shoulder to shoulder.

Hand by hand, heart by heart, let's
craft a new season of hope and love.

*I sent this poem out in my Christmas cards and now I share it here. Please respect my copyright.
Copyright 2019 - Jane A. Wolfe

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Week Before Christmas

Tis the week before Christmas and all through the house, the knitter is not knitting not even a mouse. However I am dreaming about the next projects. My sister and I spent a day together last week and visited Knit.Paper.Scissors, a local yarn shop. I picked up this skein of Rowan Felted Tweed. I plan to knit something in the round to see what kind of gauge and fabric it produces. It comes in many beautiful colors.

Yesterday I baked pistachio shortbread. The drizzled white chocolate and chopped nuts made a delicious mess. The recipe suggests cutting the shortbread with a fluted pastry cutter, a gadget I don't own. Thinking dough is like doh (flour, salt minus dye) I used a clean playdoh cutter but it wasn't sharp enough. So much for my clever work around. The cookies have unique shapes. As a friend once said, "presentation is not a strength." They taste good though. Baking is one of my favorite holiday preparations so I am grateful for the baking time this week. When I was working, the holidays often went by in a blur. Chocolate cappuccino slices and Gram's Spritz round out my list. Maybe I'll try one new to me recipe. I usually take a small cookie plate to a few neighbors.

I knit a few rows on the textured shawl but not enough to photograph. I did finish the autumn socks. They are a nice addition to my sock drawer. The alpaca, merino, nylon combination is warm and long wearing. Ribbed socks from this yarn (five pairs over the last decade) do not lose their shape anymore than any other of my hand knit socks. Classic Elite yarns has gone out of business so this is the last pair I will knit from this yarn. I think Personal Threads in Omaha may still have some stock but I am determined to knit the last three untouched skeins of sock yarn into socks before buying more. No worries about running low in a snowstorm as I have plenty of leftover scraps of sock yarn!

I read Island of the Mad, a Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery by Laurie King. Although the story includes some interesting history about Venice Italy, I enjoyed it less than others in the series. The plot didn't take off until midpoint in the story, or so it seemed to me. I am rereading Where The Crawdads Sing and loving it. I find rereading a way to notice more detail and think differently about a book. In this case, I'm not sure if the difference is the format (audio versus hard copy) or that I slow down to savor the prose because I am not reading to figure out the ending. Perhaps some of both. This book is the January selection in my local book group. The group discussion will be an added bonus.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you the hope and peace of a gentle holiday.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Good morning. The sky is bright and the blue jays' feathers are ever so blue as they reflect the sunlight. The outdoor temperature is cold. I am sitting in the living room with my wool-clad feet in a patch of warm sunshine. The sun streams in our rather streaked windows. My husband fell once this fall and required stitches. He is fine but we are not climbing extension ladders to wash windows. Next Spring I will hire someone to do the job.

This morning I left my shopping and errand list on the counter to make space for a few deep breaths. Today and the past few days brought annoyances, all of them minor. The dishwasher can be repaired and the bungled return of a new but defective iPhone will eventually sort itself out. I can return two skeins of yarn because they have little red dye specks that don't belong on the solid neutral color. I can reprint the ink edged pages of the little chap books I am making. If the Christmas boxes are mailed tomorrow instead of today, they will arrive in time and my life is still darn good. Next week I will bake cookies, one of my favorite parts of the season. Breathe. Perspective and gratitude for resources to put things right are the keys and, for me, so is knitting.

After blocking, I wove in the ends of this sweater. It fits and I like it. When knitting a top-down raglan, I often think the raglan line isn't long enough and adjust. I may have added a few too many rows to this sweater as I have a little extra fabric under the arms. I made a note in my knitting notebook for future raglans. I don't dislike the sweater enough to shorten the yoke and reknit the body and sleeves. I made it to wear like a warm cozy sweatshirt and it fits the bill. I love the color and overall I am pleased with it.

I am enjoying these socks. Breathe. Knit. Breathe. Watching the colors pool just a bit over the heel flap and gusset is fun. This kind of pooling in socks doesn't bother me. While knitting, I listen to The Dutch House. I hope the book lasts for the rest of this second sock. The audiobook was worth the Overdrive wait. Sometimes a family story set in contemporary time becomes overwrought with drama but (I think) Patchett writes real characters. They are not perfect but not overdone with angst. Tom Hanks as narrator is just right.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I hope you are enjoying your holiday preparations. All together - breathe. Breathe again. All is well.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Stepping into the Season

This week the sun shines and the sky is bright blue. Walking in a mid-weight jacket, cowl, and mittens is glorious. My plan is to finish my small amount of shopping in the next few days so packages can be mailed next week. We will see - the best laid plans oft go astray. Today I am cleaning before getting out the nativity set and Christmas stockings.

In the meantime, I ponder how to step into this season. How will I hold kindness, grace, hope, and peace at the same time? This week I gather with two longstanding groups of friends to celebrate the season and our friendship. Although the dates happen early in the month by chance, the gatherings are a good way to begin. One group came together through our work as educators and makers, the other group over books. I treasure the fellowship in both groups. No matter our differences, we have each others' backs.

Over the weekend, I finished the raspberry sweater. I am pleased with it. I knit it for warm casual wear and it is comfy. I don't have a photo today because my photographer is not home, my hair over one ear is sticking out six ways to Sunday, and I am wearing housecleaning duds. There is real life and then there is life that is just too real.

I pulled this shawl project out of hibernation. Every now and then I try to create a project with yarn and patterns on hand. A few years ago, pattern sales on Ravelry were a siren call. I am trying to do better. Last night I knit the color change for the third time. Color change in the moss stitch was awkward. I shortened that panel in order to change color in the garter stitch ridges. Then I tried the white yarn but the contrast was a bit jarring. I went back to the darker shade of blue. Just getting my money's worth out of the yarn.

This shawl is meant for wrapping up at home and I enjoy this yarn so I'm going to let the slow easy knitting carry me into the season. I have two more non-knitting projects this month, jelly in the kitchen and a little bookmaking. Then I'll bake a few cookies and write cards, two of my favorite things to do.

I am listening to The Dutch House. I wondered if Tom Hanks' narration would be a distraction but it is not. His emotional expression is subtle but appropriate. For some reason, the way he enunciates the chapter numbers makes me smile. Patchett is one of my favorite writers so I am enjoying this novel.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you an early December full of promise and peace.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving Eve

On this Thanksgiving Eve day, the ground is covered with light snow. Early this morning, streets were coated with the wintry mix that fell between yesterday's snow showers. More snow and wintry mix is forecast for tomorrow.

I wonder if we will travel to Omaha for Thanksgiving with my sister's family or stay tucked in at home. Yesterday I picked up a few Thanksgiving menu items should we stay home due to weather. Regardless, our reasons to give thanks are the same: warm home, knitting, books, health, friends, family, safe community, clean water, and an abundance of food. The list could go on.

This hymn comes to mind, "For everyone born, a place at the table, for everyone born clean water and bread." I wonder how we create such a world.

My sweater is coming along swimmingly. It is a joy to knit. I finished yo-yo-ing up and down the first sleeve. I wonder if I have ever knit a sleeve as specified in a pattern. Last night I cast on the second sleeve which will go more quickly. I am looking forward to wearing this sweater. Sometimes stockinette in the round is the perfect knitting.

I read some familiar and some new-to me poems in Ask Me by William Stafford. What makes the rhythmic cadence of words so peaceful? I wonder about the relationship between the rhythm of poetry and the rhythm of quiet breath?

I wonder if all these green dry leaves will fall before winter.

I never wear a cardigan I knit years ago but the wool yarn is lovely. I bought the yarn in a shop in New Hampshire a trip celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary so it has some sentimental value. Could I reclaim the yarn to knit a different sweater? I wonder if I have enough yarn to knit a top-down sweater. Do I want to tackle this project?

Words and how they are used make such a difference. I wonder how anyone can think otherwise.

A bully of a robin chases all the finches feeding on berries in an ornamental pear tree. Why? Isn't there enough for all? I can't imagine the robin could eat all of them.

On a blustery November day, a blue jay clings to a small branch at the top of a full grown locust tree. Why doesn't he seek better shelter?

I wonder if I really spotted a Carolina wren? If I correctly identified the bird, it was north of its usual habitat.

I wonder if I'll find an idea for a Christmas poem. Every year I have similiar doubts but eventually an image or thought comes to me. As my daughter sometimes says to her children, "patience grasshopper." A little more faith would also be a good thing.

If as my teabag tag says, "The voice of your soul is breath," is wind the soul of the earth?

As I read After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet., I wonder if women (in first world countries) choose better life partners than they did in the 19th century. Do today's women have more agency in their work and/or choice about vocation? I marvel at the persistence of Mabel Loomis Todd and her daughter Millicent Todd Bingham. How many stories have been lost because powerful institutions took advantage of work done by women or men without status? This tangled history of the publication of Dickinson's poems and letters is fascinating and well written. The author does a remarkable job of sorting and presenting facts and documentation. She clearly identifies speculation and inference. In my opinion, this book is excellent nonfiction.

My seven year old computer has been in the shop being cleaned and tuned up. I wonder if I can get six more months of use from it. This weekend I'll catch up with blog reading and perusing Ravelry.

I'll link this journal of wonder to Juliann's site about Just One Word - 2019 and Kat and the Unravelers. Stay warm and safe if you travel this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

November Skies

Now it is November and the sky changes from day to day. Yesterday's sunset was glorious. This morning chickadees play in the birch. A few days ago, I might have seen a carolina wren. I used the Cornell website to identify the bird. Although a marsh or house wren is more likely in southeast Nebraska, the coloring didn't match. Besides I don't live near wetlands or a marsh unless you count the city pond surrounded by grass a few blocks away. The juncos are back for winter and as I walk bird nests are visible in the trees.

Hooray! The hat and mitten sets are on the way to Connecticut. Sunday I knit the neckband on this sweater. Pardon the unglamorous "at home, no make-up, in old jeans" photo. The designer provides instructions for a scooped or cowled neckline. I wanted neither, preferring a less scooped neckline. Using three sets of Ravelry notes, I crafted a neckline that lays flat and makes me happy. (Method is specified on the project page for this sweater.) I so appreciate Ravelry.

Now I am fiddling around with the needle size for the sleeves. Different needles, wood as opposed to metal and double points instead of circular, change my gauge. The size 7 DPNs made a somewhat tighter gauge then the body and the 8's make a slightly looser gauge. Last night it seemed like the tighter gauge was more noticeable than the looser one. So which sleeve gauge would you choose - slightly looser or a little tighter? If I magic looped the sleeves I could use the same needle I used on the body but magic looping drives me crazy. I forget to pull the cable and end up having to reset the stitches most of the time.

If you are looking for a seasonal/gratitude themed picture book for a child, I recommend The Greatest Table. The artwork is beautiful and inclusive of people around the world. The metaphor in the poem/text is about the connections between human beings around a table as well as the notion that there is enough for all. The poem begins: "The greatest table isn't set/ inside a single home-/ oh no, it spans the continents,/and no one eats alone." The book is a thoughtful way to walk into Thanksgiving week. Cranberry Thanksgiving is an old favorite and In November is also lovely and warm.

Today is our 42nd wedding anniversary. We were married on a cold clear November day - the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We had a Sunday wedding to avoid the University of Nebraska/University of Oklahoma football game the previous day. I wasn't coming down the aisle to "There is no place like Nebraska." The date made the father of the bride, the best man, and the groom happy. Only in Nebraska. We are grateful for all the years - through thick and thin - together. I am grateful for a loving supportive, steady spouse. Being who we are, we are going out for a nice quiet dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

I link with Kat and the Unravelers on this Wednesday post. Enjoy the November skies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

November Days

November weather blew in this week. Monday we woke to light snow on the ground and flurries in the air. The November winds mean business. The blustery gusty cold wind makes me thankful to be a knitter. I have worn a hat, cowl, and mittens for walking and it is definitely wool sock weather. I am grateful to be warm on these November days. I am also grateful for memories of my Mom. Her birthday is November 7 so on that morning I picked up a latte in her honor. She preferred good black coffee but now and then on a holiday she stirred in a little whipped cream. Here we are in our younger days. 

Mom was a registered nurse, a lover of her family, friends, dogs, autumn, and ordinary days. She was a grandmother and mother extraordinaire as well as a lifelong learner. I am the oldest of her four children. Whatever positive things any of us wanted to pursue were wonderful in her eyes. As a volunteer for the American Heart Association, she taught CPR classes for years. In those days, she needed a life-sized manikin, Recussa-Annie, for her classes. The manikin she used was owned and housed by the fire/police department. Before class, she would pick up Annie, stand her up in the red VW Beetle. Then with Annie's head and upper chest sticking out of the sunroof, off Mom would go -  through the streets of Norfolk, Nebraska to class. In the 1960's as a college nurse, Mom taught sex education, first aid, and organized a Wellness Week. When she discovered Ms. magazine, she subscribed for herself, my sister, and I. When she passed away, many women told my siblings and I that she was their best friend. She was also our best friend. She died at 72 of multiple myeloma. This last illness was terribly sad for someone who had been healthy all of her life. Now the good memories of her seem more present than the sad ones. I am grateful for those many memories.

I love this photo of her with one of her dogs. She had just picked the last of the autumn mums in her yard and then given Zeus a drink. She didn't care that he splashed water on her pants and was licking her face. In fact she probably knelt down do he could do so. Although she never would have left the house in pink pants and a red coat, she just grabbed the red jacket for warmth on the November day. 

I think of her as I knit hats and mittens for my grandchildren. She often suggested we wear a hat to keep warm. Whenever we arrived with a dog in tow, she asked if we had given that dog a drink of water. She would have loved all of her great grandchildren. I am knitting the fourth and last pair of mittens and then off to Connecticut they go. I am anxious to get back to my sweater because it will be warm on these cold days. And I have lovely shawl and cowl yarns calling my name. 

I am listening to Time After Time, a novel set in the 1920's and 30's. Most of the story takes place in NYC with a brief Paris sojourn by one character. The history of Grand Central Station is an integral part of the story. Having this book come in on my library holds after recently having been there is a nice unplanned coincidence. The story is based on a touch of magical realism, a good thing on a cold November evening. I am about to give up on Savage Beauty, a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay. It reads like a long list of events and excerpts from letters that would have benefited from more editing. I thought I wanted to read about Millay because Mary Oliver was influenced by her poetry. I wonder if Millay's poetry might be a better way to learn about the connection. Live and learn, there is always another book. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you a little magic under the November sky. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wednesday Unraveled

I walk under the November sky. I find the light exquisite, grays and blues that stretch the autumn season. Outside my window this morning, I watch the dusty green leaves fall in a blustery breeze. Not all of them turned. This year the local colors are subtle. However we were treated to the bright colors of Connecticut over a week ago. Time with our daughter and son-in-law and four lively grandchildren was glorious. Spending entire days with them is a luxury. We walked the older boys to and from school, read, played, attended flag-football. I read to Jonah's preschool class. We shared meals and read bedtime stories. We missed Halloween but did attend "Trunk or Treat." The evening was beautiful and the car trunks/ hatchbacks were decorated to the hilt. The event sponsored by the church raised a good donation for a new children's theatre that will be open to participation free of charge. My daughter and her family went as "Norah for President." Norah was dressed up with two brothers and parents as her Secret Service entourage. Micah opted out of the Secret Service and went as a flag football player which was ok too. Every family needs an individualist with a strong will. Right? The stickers read "Vote for Norah." And isn't that what we do? Vote for all the children of the next generation.

My daughter, husband, and I spent one day in New York City. We rode the train into Grand Central and then walked and walked. We went into the iconic public library (the lions are being rehabbed so we might have to return some day) and St. Patrick's Cathedral. We stuck our noses into the corner of Central Park. My favorite part of being in the city was the diversity of faces and languages being spoken around us. Beautiful. We also had a few chocolates from a little shop in Rockefeller Center. We didn't plan the matching outfits but it helped my husband keep tabs on us.

And now we are home. Any day I cross the Platte and Hudson Rivers in the same day is a good day. We love to go see them and we are happy to be home.

All of this is to say my knitting feels a little scattered if not unraveled. Still I am joining Kat's meetup for Unraveled Wednesday. I took a sock project with me to Connecticut and managed to finish one sock. I kitchenered a toe in the airport gate coming home and and cast on the second sock. The yarn color way, Nor'easter, proved not to be prophetic - thank goodness. I was too tired and the flight was too bumpy to knit as we made our way home. Monday I washed the raspberry sweater and pinned out the neck. When it is dry, I'll pick up the neck stitches. In the meantime I'm working on the hat and mitten sets for the kids. Last night I knit the top and little i-cord topknot on Norah's hat. I'm not sure I like the top knot. I plan to add a leaf so maybe that will help. I have Norah's mittens and Emmett's hat and mittens to go. I'd like to get them in the mail soon. November winds are blowing and winter is coming.

I enjoyed The Downstairs Girl for its wit, plucky heroine and story about an unknown (to me) piece of history. The ending is a little optimistic but it was a good read. I am currently reading the latest Bess Crawford mystery, A Cruel Deception. I like the Charles Todd ( a mother son writing team) mystery series set during and after World War One. A familiar set of characters is a nice way to return home. I am also reading Ask Me, a centennial collection of William Stafford's best known poems. I admire his thoughtful work and life. I purchased the book from the Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita. It seemed appropriate as Stafford was born and grew up in Kansas. Jonah and I frequently read his current favorite, If you Take A Mouse to School, via FaceTime. He loves to see the familiar cubby, blocks, and science experiments. "We have those at my school." he tells me.

Take a peek at the blog links listed in Wednesday Unraveled for reading and knitting inspiration. In the meantime, I hope the November wind blows good things your way.

Friday, November 1, 2019

October Journal of Wonder

What would happen is we all made a cup of tea and read a poem?

From Tracy K. Smith's Wade in the Water : "What is the soul allowed to keep?" (poem - Landscape)
I wonder how to answer this question - the feel of the wind, the mauve at sunset, the moments with dear ones, . . . 

I wonder what sort of shawl this yarn wants to be? I wonder about creating my own design.

Why do the birds lift my spirits? How shall I care for them?

What will become of scraps of paper and yarns when I am gone?

I wonder if my Montana niece has ever tasted semmel (the family hard roll)?

I wonder what word I will choose for 2020?

What do I choose to attend to? How does my attention affect the way I see a blue October sky?

Where are the chickadees? Am I seeing fewer birds or is it the power of suggestion from reading articles?

Why is diversity so disconcerting to some?

I wonder what I could learn from the leaves? Perhaps letting go is as important as holding on.

I wonder if it is possible to outgrow friendships? or do they just change?

I wonder why I've only now learned that peppermint oil is a balm for some mild tension headaches.

I wonder when I will see the first measurable snowfall.

Although I am a little late to the party, I'm linking with Juliann of Chasing Stories to post October's Journal of Wonder.  And into November we go.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Knitting Notes

October winds do bluster - one day warm and and the next quite chilly. Yesterday's outwear for walking included a barn jacket, hat, cowl, and real mittens, not the fingerless variety. Most trees are dropping leaves. One crimson maple has shed almost all. One warm day last week dry green leaves blew across yard and street. So it goes. I savor these days, storing up the colors against winter's monochromatic shades. While I like winter, I miss colors in the landscape. When we returned from Texas, I expected the summer pots on the front porch to have been nipped by frost. Instead, tucked up in the corner near the house, they survived. This yellow rose begonia is blooming away. I don't have the heart to dump it while it is so pretty but the days are numbered. I tried to slip a couple leaves with no luck.

I bound off the bottom of this sweater as per directions. I don't know if I like the bind-off ( a plain row at the end of the ribbing and then binding off in all knitted stitches) or not. I plan to lightly block the sweater as is and knit the neck ribbing before picking up for the sleeves. Barb of the 2 Knit Lit Chicks podcast completes the neck of sweaters before knitting the sleeves. She reports neck finishing sometimes affects the length of the sleeves. I want to try her suggestion with this sweater.

On the Texas trip, I began hat and mitten sets for the Connecticut kids. I finished two hats and the red mittens - minus the thumbs. This week I've been knitting here and there on the sets. When the blue and red sets are finished, I have two left to knit. Norah's hat is also on the needles.

I listened to Evvie Drake Starts Over. Although I became a little impatient with the main character, some descriptions and figures of speech made me smile and nod my head. They story was not great literature but enjoyable enough. Currently I am reading The Downstairs Girl, historical fiction set in Atlanta in the early 1900's. The main character, a young Chinese woman, works by day as a lady's maid for a rude difficult daughter of a prominent family. By night, she composes a newspaper advice column under a pseudonym. As the story progresses she attempts to write about the injustice she sees around her. Here is yet another piece of history that never made it into the history textbooks of my education.

The sun is out. I am off to take a walk among the autumn colors - no hat and mittens needed.  Have a good week.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Autumn Days

Ah Autumn. I do love these days. They were almost perfect for a road trip to Fort Worth. We didn't see much autumn color but the prairie skies were at their best. We drove south at a leisurely pace, taking two days. We visited Watermark, one of my favorite independent bookstores in Wichita. Breaking up the trip allowed us to arrive in good time for our grandson's Thursday evening junior varsity football game. We knew rain was in the forecast but hoped that it would either blow through quickly or hold off. No luck. As we pulled into the parking lot, the sky darkened and a strong thunderstorm with a little hail and a lot of lightning poured rain. The game was called, as it should be, because of the continuing lightning. Other than that we had a perfectly lovely visit.

Friday we took our grandson to breakfast and dropped him at school. Then my husband and I toured the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. We enjoyed several collections including an exhibit of photography by Gordon Parks. Parks, an African American (1912- 2006) born in Kansas was a remarkable photojournalist of wide ranging subjects. He understood photography was a way to fight racism and discrimination and had his work published in Life Magazine. That evening we all went out to dinner together at a favorite local Italian restaurant. We spent Saturday together, trying to cheer on the Huskers. Evidently we didn't cheer hard enough. No matter, the soups and hard rolls were delicious and the company even better. We drove home in one beautiful autumn day. Deer grazed in a tawny Kansas wheat field and we were fortunate to avoid hitting another on the highway just south of town. They are hard to see at dusk. We arrived home as a gorgeous harvest (full) moon rose in the sky. I didn't take many photos. I just enjoyed the days with family and watched the sky. My husband drove most of the miles so I knit on hats and mittens for the Connecticut kids.

Since I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers today, I'll update my same-old knitting projects. I finished Kate's Christmas Socks. She helped pick out the yarn so I am not spoiling any surprise here. I've been chugging along with this sweater. Stockinette in the round has a nice quiet rhythm and I have another two-three inches to the ribbing. I tried the sweater on again and I like the fit. I cast on Norah's hat yesterday.

This morning I am at my desk thankful to see a flicker, several chickadees, and a female downy woodpecker in and out of the birch. A few robins enjoy the small berries in the ornamental pear tree. With all the bad news about the demise of birds, I am encouraged to see these species in my yard.

I thoroughly enjoyed Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss  by Margaret Renkl. She muses thoughtfully about family stories and the natural world in Tennessee where she lives. The book is beautifully illustrated with renderings of plants and wildlife by her brother. Who doesn't like a book with illustrations? I am reading a so-so historical novel, The White Garden: A Novel of Virginia Woolf that I plan to finish. It isn't a great read but was available as an electronic library loan and I wanted something in that format for the Texas trip. 

Until next time, may the autumn sun warm your back and your heart. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Stitching Across Time

Granddaughter Norah was a year old in September. While cruising around the coffee table, she has been dragging her big brothers' super hero action figures (the Hulk, Captain America, etc.) with her. Her Dad thought she needed a soft doll for one of her birthday gifts. That prompted me to find two soft dolls, Raspberry Tart and Apple Dumpling (Strawberry Shortcake characters from back in the day) that I made for my daughter. She liked the characters and I cobbled several patterns together in order to make them. I cleaned and repaired the dolls to send to Norah. I also made a small quilt for her dolls.

I started with a fat quarter of a pink print from my stash. Then, thinking I'd piece a top of simple squares from flannel, I pulled out the tote containing old sewing scraps. Back in the day, I made flannel nightgowns and pajamas and corduroy robes for my children. Tucked inside the tote, I found a piece of flannel from my grandmother's sewing days. I must have acquired it when Mom cleaned out her home. Gram made my sister and I nightgowns from this 1950's print flannel. I love knowing that Gram once folded up this small bit of flannel for another day. I decided not to cut it into squares but use the whole scrap.

As I put the little piece in the washer, I held it up to my face. I'm fairly certain I caught the faintest whiff of Gram's perfume, Youth Dew by Estee Lauder. This scent carried me back to being perched on a couch in Gram's sewing room while she sewed and told us stories, sitting beside her unwinding a ball of yarn while she knitted, making potato salad in her pink kitchen, and many other memories.

Of course this fabric was a pink and white print. If Youth Dew was her signature scent, pink was her color. She owned pink clothing, pink yarn, pink dishes, pink towels, and pink costume jewelry. She wallpapered bedrooms in pink prints. She painted her old kitchen cupboards and woodwork pale pink. She frosted sugar cookies with pink icing, tinted Spritz cookies pink, and wore pink fingernail polish. I never catch a whiff of Youth Dew or see something pink that I don't remember her and the love she lavished on her grandchildren. She helped me with sewing and taught me to knit, gifts that last a lifetime.

I am sending Norah this little pink and white quilt and with it, a piece of her Great Great Grandmother's story. Someday I hope to tell her stories about Gram of the pale pink fingernail polish. If Norah wants to learn, I'll teach her to stitch and knit. For now, she is on her way with new pink shoes and her own dolly.

Linking with Kat and the Unravelers today. Click on over for inspiration.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Hello October

A soaking rain ushers in October. I am glad to see both. The last day of September was a windy hot 90 degrees. Our yard and garden beds were quite dry. Besides, crisp autumn weather pairs well with a cup of ginger tea and a book or knitting. Today I happily pulled on a pair of wool socks after coming home from an errand. What about you? How is the weather in your neck of the woods?

Last week I went for one last walk through The Sunken Gardens. I wrote about the Garden last year in a post. This year's theme was "Moon River." The plantings included a lot of white, lavender, and purple flowers and foliage. The day was warm and the interesting flowers were full of bees and butterflies. These plants sported very vivid purple foliage.

This plant's foliage was such a dark color it looked almost black. The berries were deep purple.

Beautiful lavender flowers (a water lily?) floated in the ponds.

I have no idea of the names of these plants. The plantings are not labeled and the available brochure listed names of plants but no locations in the garden.

I am enjoying knitting the sweater in the photo. Last week I unraveled some rows and changed the rate of increases to lengthen the raglan line. Since I was going to rip back anyway, I also changed the cable twist. The pattern provides two options and it would have been a good idea to swatch the two. In this version the cable twists pull toward instead of away from the center. Given the weight of this yarn, this option doesn't leave a big hole in the center of the cable. The sweater is heavy and pushing the stitches along makes my right arm ache a bit. I am pacing my knitting time on it. I have been working on Kate's sock. I may cast on a shawl for some lighter weight knitting on a different needle size. The good news is the sweater fits and the tonal variations in the yarn are spreading themselves among the knitting.

I listened to Louise Penny's latest book A Better Man and throughly enjoyed the trip to Three Pines. Wouldn't we all love to visit Merna's used bookstore, drink cafe au lait at the Bistro, stroll around the square, and even meet Ruth? Penny's characters are old literary friends and she keeps this latest novel contemporary with the Spring flooding, social media, and developments in the lives of the characters. I am still reading Arctic Dreams. I am also reading a birthday gift from my sister. She gave me Late Migrations, a thoughtful collection of essays by Margaret Renkl. You may have read Renkl's writing in the New York Times. The book blends her observations of nature around her home in Tennessee with stories of family and growing up in Alabama. It is beautifully illustrated by Renkl's brother. This nonfiction work is a treasure.

I'm linking with Kat and the Unravelers as we knit and read our way into October. Happy Autumn.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

September Journal of Wonder

A house finch sits on the long arm of the bird feeder. A small birch branch swings in the breeze, repeatedly brushing the back of the bird's body. He doesn't show any visible reaction. It looks as if the branch is playing or teasing the bird. I wonder what the sensation conveys to the bird. 

Why does the contrast of light and dark draw in the human eye? 

I wonder if spiders really spin more webs this time of year or does the changing light make the webs more visible. I wonder if the ground spiders catch many insects in the small webs that appear in lawns.

What word will I choose for next year?  I am enjoying wonder and reminding myself to wonder.

I wonder how many small blank notebooks I need. A soft cover book with the face of a fawn caught my eye in a coffee shop. The fawn reminded me of a llama which reminded me of yarn so I bought it to tuck into my knitting bag. A wondering mind does wander.

I wonder if this sweater will fit. I hope the worsted weight/aran yarn doesn't make a sweater that is too heavy to be comfortable.

If animals and birds migrate over such diverse geographical areas with no regard for political boundaries, why is the movement of human beings often restricted?

Rhythm is essential to poetry. What kinds of rhythm support good prose?

What purpose do oak-mites serve?!

I see a few yellow leaves in the birch branches nearest the window in front of my desk. I wonder when they appeared.

I wonder why I don't set aside one entire afternoon for making. Surely I could skip chores and errands one day a week. Would two be possible? 

9-19-19. Is there any significance in this line-up of numerals?

I wonder if the local autumn will be colorful or if the leaves will turn brown and drop from exhaustion and heat.

I wonder what I will prepare for dinner?

I wonder how this pink-spotted hawkmoth came to be in my backyard. I wonder what other creatures might have stopped here in their travels.

I wonder how we arrived at the end of September and how this little guy is old enough for his first day of preschool.

 Joining Juliann and Chasing Stories for reflection on one word. What has you wondering today?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Last Summer Days

Summer is having one last word. The days are hot, sunny, and dry. A basil plant rebounded from the almost-dead. If I can keep it alive until the first frost, I may get one batch of pesto. I picked a few leaves yesterday to season the last garden tomatoes and pasta. Sandals and walking shorts are the most comfortable attire. As I yearn for crisp fall days, I try to remember that I will miss my sandals and the fresh produce.  

I made a batch of pumpkin scones the other day in order to have a little taste of fall. Yes, I did grate frozen butter on a sheet of wax paper so I could scrape it all into the flour mixture. The process was a little messy. The big pile of shredded butter made me gasp but the shredded butter and cream made the scones. I shaped them into a small size and tucked half into the freezer. How is that for rationalization?

This guy celebrated his ninth birthday with a LA Dodgers party. He and his brother, the Phillies fan, along with their Dad and good friend attended a Mets/Dodgers game. He requested cake pops for his birthday treat and my daughter created dairy-free cake pops. They were a hit - no pun intended. I can remember the hot September day when he was born. We waited for him all day. A big thunderstorm blew in just as we pulled into the hospital parking lot to meet him. He blew in with the storm and changed our world. He certainly has grown in the past year. 

In knitting notes, I set the sweater aside until the days cool off. I need to put it on waste yarn to check the length of the raglan increase lines. I finished one of Kate's socks and cast on the other. I also finished the Indikon Mitts. They will be as fun to wear as they were to knit. Because I can't seem to throw away any scraps, I weighed and divided the rest of the blue gray yarn. Last night I cast on another pair of scrappy mitts. Small projects make me happy on these last summer days. Knitting from scraps and leftovers challenge my creativity and there is the satisfaction of using up the yarns I enjoy.

I am reading The Shadow of the Wind, my book group selection for this month. This is a novel driven by plot and set in Barcelona in 1945. The story feels like a labyrinth with many characters and stories. It begins with the young boy choosing a book from The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Although I don't have the audio version, I think hearing the names and places would be enjoyable. I continue to read parts of Arctic Dreams and then drift off to sleep thinking about Lopez's ideas. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I hope these last days of summer are treating you well. Whether it is a taste of pumpkin, the last summer tomatoes, or a cake pop may you have whatever your heart desires.