Tuesday, August 27, 2019

August Journal of Wonder

I wonder what Mom intended to make from these purple squares? Was she inspired by the poem  "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple?"  I'm sure it would make her happy to know, I squared some of them up, cut them into smaller squares and added a piece of embroidery to create a small piece. I have just begun the hand quilting. Needle, thread, and thimble cast a spell across time.

I wonder why I only make a list for summer reading. Why not make a list for other seasons? Would I enjoy my summer reading list less if it were followed by an autumn list?

I wonder if I can knit my stash sock yarn skeins (specifically for socks) down to zero? I am currently knitting a pair and have three other skeins in stash. Certainly, I can do this but only if it is fun.

Where does the knot in my right shoulder come from?

I wonder why Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote so many sonnets. I would like to read more about her life and work.

I wonder what to do with the rest of the tomato crop? How did our great grandmothers do all the cooking, canning, and preserving in hot kitchens as well as prepare meals? What was it like to try and feed a large farm family from a garden?

How did we arrive at the last Tuesday in August? I wonder if I should quit complaining about summer heat and accept the invitation of W.B. Yeats in the opening of his poem, "Those Images."

What if I bade you leave
the cavern of the mind?
There's better exercise
in the sunlight and wind."

Cavern implies a shelter with an opening - a way out and a way to return. What would happen if I left the cavern of my mind more often?

Linking here with Juliann for reflections about wonder, my word of 2019.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sweater Math

Rain falls off and on this morning. After last night's thunderstorms, the birch leaves drip with moisture. The temperature is lower but the humidity is not. Summer is wearing out its welcome so rain is a nice break. The local house finches moved a new brood out of the nest. I have been watching an adult male and female feed two youngsters squawking for seeds. Chickadees flit in the birch while the scrawniest juvenile cardinal I have ever seen nudges his way onto the feeder. He has some growing to do.

The sweater I wrote about last week sits in a tote bag. No matter what order I knit the sleeves, body, and button band, I don't have enough yarn. Five skeins equals five skeins. And as Kym commented, knitting faster doesn't make any difference. I have also tried that method. No wonder Math was not my strongest subject. I can't find any yarn of the same dye lot. If I try to knit with a different dye lot, I have a feeling the fabric would have a strange stripey look. I'd rather reclaim the yarn for another project. I have experience ripping out, re-skeining, and washing yarn for another day. It's all just knitting and getting more knitting time from the same yarn.

The scrappy shawl (above) came out well. I also knit a bit on the yellow/peach socks. The Hermione's Everyday Sock pattern is a classic and shows off the color variation. My daughter picked out this yarn for her Christmas socks. Yellow has always been one of her favorite colors so knitting on these sunny socks makes me happy. It is about time to cast on a few gift knits for the holidays. I am also due for a winter sweatshirt type sweater. The sweater I have worn for years met its end last spring so I am contemplating my options for another. This time I'll make sure to have an extra skein.

I am enjoying Lab Girl. If a teacher had explained any science to me the way Jahren writes about  botany, I might have studied science. Her feelings and experiences as woman scientist speak to the work still needed on gender bias. As a side note, the specific examples about money allotted to scientific work in this country is also worth knowing. We have so much work still to be accomplished. 

Linking to Kat and the Unravelers who write about making and reading. And what are you working on today?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Mid August

 Mid August and dusk falls a little earlier. The evening cicada chorus is less deafening than it was a few weeks ago. The bulk of the tomato harvest is canned or frozen but the plants still produce fruit. Likely I will freeze more but not have enough at one time to make canning worthwhile. After several beastly days of heat and humidity, this morning was cooler with a hint of autumn in the air. 

Last week we celebrated a virtual birthday with one of our grandsons. Micah requested a "Phillies" themed party with his family. My daughter sent Phillies cupcake toppers and wrappers, sunglasses, plates, napkins, and cups to us ahead of time. I made cupcakes and set our table. We put on our Phillies sunglasses and sang (via FaceTime) Happy Birthday to him with his family. We also had a bite of cupcake together. Our little party was the next best thing to being there in person. Micah had a very happy day. Now he is six and headed to kindergarten in a week or so. Where does the time go?

Linking with Kat and the Unravelers this week to talk about knitting and books. I might be doing some unraveling soon. I enjoy knitting on this sweater in the evenings. After I separated off the sleeve stitches and knit an inch, I tried the sweater on and it fits but - there is always a but in a tale of unraveling - when I went to the storage bin to pull out another skein for winding, I discovered only three remained. I thought I had four more. I checked the invoice that came with the yarn and sure enough I'd only ordered five for another sweater that didn't work out. I probably don't have enough yarn to finish the sweater so I cast on a pair of socks while I decide what to do.

I could knit down the body of the sweater and divide the remaining yarn between sleeves. Or I could see how much yarn it takes to knit one three-quarter length sleeve. The sweater has a garter stitch button/neck band and garter stitch takes a fair amount of yarn. I could order more yarn and hope the different dye lot isn't so different that I could alternate skeins throughout the rest of the sweater. This is not a tonal but a very solid color yarn and I don't want to create stripes.  Or I could cut my losses, rip out the sweater, and use the yarn for something else. After all this is just knitting and I won't be freeze if I don't finish this sweater. Here is another reason to enjoy scrappy projects: I rarely run out of scraps and when I do I just join another. I finished the knitting the scrappy shawl with scraps to spare. It needs to be washed and blocked.

I read the Ruth Galloway mystery, The Dark Angel. Ruth, an unabashed middle-aged archeologist and DCI Nelson feel like old friends. This book was more about the characters' stories and less about solving the mystery but it was an easy summer read. I am also reading Wade in the Water, by Tracy K. Smith, the current US poet laureate. In one section, the poems are composed of letters written by African American soldiers during/after the Civil War. They are beautiful and haunting. I love the way she let the words of the men stand as written. I can recommend Smith's short podcast episodes of "The Slowdown." Each day she comments about a poem and then reads it. Her voice is gorgeous and soothing. Her personal interpretations of each poem make me think differently.

I hope mid August finds you enjoying the sunshine and finding something to think about in a new way. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Three on Thursday

Today I am joining Carole Knits for Three on Thursday. I am also pickling cucumbers with my Mom's recipe for bread and butter pickles. I think of her while I slice cucumbers, peppers, and onion in a food processor. She sliced her veggies on a box grater. I also have another new fangled small appliance that is quite helpful. Two years ago our kitchen update included a new glass top range. The appliance store recommended not using a traditional water bath canner on the top because the weight could crack the glass. Some online opinions suggested the opposite but we decided to err on the side of caution. I ordered an electric stand-alone canner made by Ball. It has been worth the investment and storage space it requires. I use the canner beside the sink for easy filling and draining from the spigot. When I am finished, I release the rubber stopper and drain water from the spigot into the sink. No more hauling the heavy canner of water between sink and stove top. It heats up more quickly than the old canner and it doesn't spit boiling water out of the top and onto the surface below.

Besides pickling cucumbers, I am up to my armpits in tomatoes - cherry, roma, rutgers, and one other variety that I tried this summer but whose name escapes me at the moment. I have sauced and canned tomatoes this week and there are at least two more batches on the vine.

So there you have it - Three on Thursday:  pickled, sauced, and canned 

1. Pickled 

2. Sauced 

3. Canned (The ping of jar lids as they seal is so satisfying.) 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Gifts of Thyme

August brings the end of summer look to the garden and flower beds. The cucumber vines dry and low hanging tomato leaves crumble. Split cherry tomatoes litter the back corner of the tomato patch. Weeds gain ground because I don't want to work outdoor in hot humid weather. Still more than a month of summer abundance remains. Basil didn't grow well but chives, oregano, and thyme continue to flavor our summer meals. Bees and wasps are thick in the oregano so I quit trimming the flower/seed heads. I've enough oregano to supply an Italian restaurant. The pollinators can have this bit.

Thyme thrives in its hot sunny spot next to the foundation of our house. I plan to dry a good amount to use over the winter. According to my reference on herbs, thyme has antiseptic properties, will deter pests when planted near eggplant and cabbages, and aids digestion by helping to break down fatty foods. Besides it just adds great flavor to foods.

Here are my knitting and reading notes for my link to Kat and the Unravelers. I am knitting a shawl from leftover yarns. This green yarn in the Thyme colorway is the skein that keeps on giving. Early in my lace knitting career, I bought it for a shawl. Before I abandoned the project, I bought another skein because I thought I might not have enough. Eventually I knit it into a cowl and then used the leftover yarn in two other scrappy shawls. When this shawl is finished, I am tossing the above scrap of yarn. Enough of the yarn is enough.

I finished these mitts to give as a Christmas gift. The cable detail is well designed and fun to knit but I am less pleased with the thumb gusset. Increases next to purl stitches don't match on either side of the thumb and one side has a lace-y and perhaps drafty detail. Either I will refer to a sweater pattern that had instructions for tidier increases next to purl stitches or I'll knit the thumb and gusset in stockinette with a few rows of ribbing at the top.  I decided not to unravel the first finished mitt and the hand of the second one to reknit them. I'm considering the thumb detail a design element. The recipient is not a knitter and will enjoy them.

I finished reading Washington Black and found it an excellent novel. The writing is lyrical and the main character, a young boy escaping from slavery, was well developed. I appreciated his portrayal as a person claiming agency in his life. I am looking forward to our book group discussion this week. I am reading The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, tenth in the Ruth Galloway mystery series. Ruth, an archeologist, is a strong heroine and I like the setting on the north Norfolk coast in England. Part of this mystery takes place in a small Italian village so it is a good summer escape.

Here's to the remaining month of summer. May it be filled with summer's bounty.