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.