Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tender 2020

Honore' invites us to post about the word we chose for 2020. Thank you to her for hosting this year's reminders and link-ups. I chose tender. Today is the wrap up of a tender and difficult year.

Tender derives from several root words. First I think of "tenere" - to hold firm, to endure.  Many words evolved from this stem: tender, tend, tenable, tenacious.  And so as the year closes, we endure as we hold firm to what sustains us.  What sustained me this year isn't much different than previous years. Although we are way behind on hugs and meals shared around a table, my family remains as dear as ever to me. Connections to friends near and far are precious. Making and creating with yarn, words, fabric, or thread brings a quiet joy. Being outdoors is critical to my body and soul. The silver lining of this year is a tender but clear focus on what I value.

Another related root for tender is "tendere" meaning to stretch. I would add that in 2020 we stretched in order to tend to ourselves and others. I stretched into creative thinking facilitated by technology. My book group didn't miss a beat as we gathered via Zoom. I watched my Texas grandson play football and my Montana niece play her flute and sing in a socially distanced concert. On Christmas Eve, my husband and I read "The Night Before Christmas" to our grandchildren in Connecticut. My yarn stretches south to Texas and east to Connecticut and to a few other locations.

Questions about tender remain. How to best respond with tenderness to others? I do not know what burdens they may carry. Today the snow falls. At times the flakes are large and tender, yet they find their place. I am home sheltered in a shawl of wool and alpaca and the prairie is snow covered. Still I know the roots of grass and wildflowers rest with tenacious tenderness. They wait patiently for the coming year and a new season. 



Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December 23

This morning the sky is gray and the west wind blusters. The landscape is winter brown but now and then a flake of snow blows by the window. Except for the wind, the neighborhood is quiet. Today will be a day in the kitchen. Even for the two of us, I like to bake and cook for Christmas. I plan to make rolls from a recipe for Seven Grain Bread. Using the seven or eight grain cereal is a way to add a variety of grains to bread without buying specialty flours. I also decrease the seeds on top and bottom by quite a bit. That amount just fell off - everywhere. A warm kitchen on a cold day is a comfort. Walking today will require layers of wool and a will to face the wind.   

Late in August a Carolina Wren appeared in our yard. I first heard her beautiful but unfamiliar song in the back yard. I couldn't see the bird but knew I had never heard the song. A few days later the wren visited the bird feeder and I identified it. This little wren hung around through the autumn and because the species isn't usually seen in southeast Nebraska, her presence seemed like a gift. Eventually I wrote this poem for my Christmas cards. (Poetic license lets me identify the bird as a female. The markings for male and female are similar.)

And so, to wish you all a wonderful holiday and a better new year, I post it here. 

Carolina Wren *

November 24, 2020 

A dusty bit of fluff in a striped

mask shelters in the birch.

A warbler from the old world, this little bird,

a Carolina wren, even her name a melody.

Rusted weathered wings

the color of tea in my Mother’s cup.

Pert tail lifted against the wind

that blew her off course, off kilter.

I cannot ask her to stay,

this summer song.

The way forward is far. But

at the edge of the horizon,

a change in the wind, 

a glimpse of hope. 

*Copyright Jane A. Wolfe

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Cold Morning

Snow fell over the weekend and the lingering cold means the tree branches are outlined in white. The temperatures rise to the low twenties in the afternoon. Winter is a few days early. Yesterday I watched a bird holiday outside the window. Four pairs of cardinals flitted with robins. Blue jays, two white breasted nuthatches, three red breasted nuthatches, two chickadees and a flock of sparrows visited the birch. The juncos prefer the backyard feeders. The birds are good companions. Today they have flown for a quieter space. We are having new windows installed. We've been on the list since early August. Supplies are tricky due to Covid. The house is noisy and I am dressed in layers of wool. Forgive me if my post is a bit disjointed. 

In knitting news, I finished the fingerless mitts for my daughter. I have enough yarn leftover to make a pair for myself. The yarn is so lovely I want to use it all. Three generations will have the same yarn in mitts. I continue to knit on the poncho. Stitch by stitch I am getting near the finish line. Today would be a good day for a poncho - indoors. Soon. If I am counting correctly, I need about five more cable repeats. My phone is currently working on an update so I don't have a photo. 

I created a Ravelry page for swatch information. I often knit a swatch and then write down the gauge in one of several notebooks floating around the house or in knitting bags. Unless I immediately cast on a project with said yarn, the swatch gets buried in the stash. I hope having information on Ravelry page will make it easy to locate, especially when in a yarn shop. (2021 I have big plans for you.) Anyway I thought I'd give this a try with any new information. 

The yarn for Micah's hat and mittens arrived yesterday so that is my next project. And in the words of Brenda Dayne, I will "knit, knit like the wind." Connecticut is expecting a big snowstorm this week and those grands need their new winter gear. Although I am sure they are not without, I like to think about my hand-knit mittens warming their fingers until I can hold their hands. See plans for 2021.

I am currently reading Chronicles of a Radical Hag by Lorna Landvik and enjoying every page. This is a sweet story told through the newspaper columns of a older woman who has had a stroke. Although a character looking back on life is a much used trope, the newspaper columns give it a slight twist. The rest of the story, set in a small Minnesota town, revolves around the characters in the newspaper and community. The characters thoughtfully and sometimes irreverently comment about the large and small events of the day. It's poignant and funny without being syrupy sweet. If you are looking for a light read this may be the story. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers. I hope this week finds you warm and snug at home. 

Ravelery Links

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Small Shifts

Early December and this day is beautiful. The sky is blue and the temperatures continue to be warm. Today's high is forecast for 64 degrees. One of these evenings we plan to walk at sundown to look at the outdoor holiday lights. Since this is such an odd year, I am making some small shifts in our traditions. Small is the key word as we are two oldsters who like our routine (and may be a little set in our ways, ok a lot set in our ways.) Since we won't be at our usual gatherings, I took time to sort through all the Christmas decor and donated some things to a thrift store. We haven't had the big artificial tree out for several years so we got it out. The middle section of lights didn't come on so we improvised. This tree sheds more than a real one. It's a Charlie Brown tree but this feels like a Charlie Brown kind of year. My husband voted to decorate it one more year so we did. I put out a few favorite pieces and left some things in the storage bins. We are going to have a meal of appetizers on Christmas Eve instead of the usual soup. Who knows what other unexpected shifts might happen. Gasp!

Knitting is not going to change though. I finished the third mitten and hat set and am waiting for yarn for the last one. I talked with Micah on FaceTime and he requested a particular shade of blue. I knit his things from the KnitPicks Swish yarn because his very sensitive skin tolerates that yarn. What's a Grammy to do but order two more skeins of yarn in the "right blue?" While waiting for it to arrive, I cast on a pair of fingerless mitts for their Mama. The leaf thumb gusset would show up better in a solid yarn but this is the same yarn I used for Norah's set. I think it will be fun for their mittens to match. Kate can definitely use fingerless mitts in her busy life.  

I finished the first sock of a pair and cast on the second. The stripes aren't going to match exactly (my error) but that doesn't bother me. They'll be another reminder of this off kilter autumn and winter. They make good Zoom knitting. I knit on the poncho now and again. I continue to enjoy it but have reached the "black hole of knitting" stage. In the meantime, I'm looking at sweater patterns and yarn. Santa is set to bring me yarn for Christmas if I can decide on a sweater. Maybe it will be a Happy New Year gift. 

Last night I finished listening to All The Devils Are Here by Louise Penny. Oh my, what a great story. Even though a mystery has predictable elements, Penny's plots have interesting details with several twists and turns. They are well researched. I enjoyed hearing the French pronunciation of names and places and learned more about Paris. As always, Penny's description of food is mouth-watering and the character development continues. I missed the daily life of the Three Pines crew, in particular Merna and Ruth, but number sixteen was worth the Overdrive wait. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you well and safe. 

Ravelry Links

Emmett's Hat and Mittens 

Striped Socks

Mitts for the Mama

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Tender Holiday

Thanksgiving was quiet but delicious. I talked to my children. On Sunday, we zoomed with my siblings and spouses. It was nice to see everyone's face together on the screen. Thursday afternoon was warm enough for a brisk walk with my husband. As we say, we did the best we could to celebrate the day and remember our blessings.

Each month Honore' invites us to write about the word we chose for 2020. My word is "tender." On this first day of December, I turn toward Advent and Christmas. For me, the turmoil and losses of this long year do not suggest a season spent in search of constant merriment. Instead I am looking for a tender kind of holiday season. Call me the Grinch if you like. 

Candles in various numbers and configurations symbolize the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas. Light, love, and hope are the heart of all of these celebrations. This year I am setting an intention to honor traditions of the spirit:  kindness, peace, grace, comfort, and memory. I hope to extend and create tenderness.  I plan to light a candle. I hope to enjoy a cup of tea, a warm kitchen, writing notes, reading a Christmas story over FaceTime, and eventually, sitting down with a piece of chocolate to wind a skein of yarn.

Onward into December. A NewYear and a new season is around the corner. 


Candles and the light that comes from them are common to the winter holidays, Advent, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Kwanza, and Hannukkah. 

So as I settle into Advent to prepare for Christmas while others celebrate the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and/or Hanukkah. 

Holiday traditions create joy. I am thinking this year the traditions will be those of the spirit.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving Eve

On this chilly Thanksgiving Eve the sky is gray and a breeze blows through empty trees. The finches and chickadees huddle around the feeder. The blue jays squawk from the tops of the neighbor's locust trees. The little downy in his crisp black and white with a dash of red fluffs his breast feathers at the suet feeder. This is indeed a November day. We are thankful for roof over our head, heat coming though the vents, food on the table, and stores in the pantry. My husband has tools in the garage and shed and the bins of yarn are full. One of my nieces is recovering from a nasty bout with Covid but she is out of the woods if not quarantine. Other than that my dear ones are safe and healthy. We will be home tomorrow, enjoying a good meal and Face Time. This afternoon I plan to make my mother's recipe of cranberry relish. I wasn't going to make rolls but somehow this day calls for bread rising in a warm kitchen. Tomorrow I will make an apple galette and put it in the oven when the dinner comes out. Since we are on our own, the pace will be leisurely and dessert might as well be warm from the oven. 

My knitting pace is also leisurely. Last weekend I reached the halfway mark on the cabled poncho. Between the hand of the yarn and the two repeats in the cable, this is one of my favorite knitting projects. The little textured bit in the center of the design repeats every twelve rows and the two cables on the outer edges repeat every sixteen rows. I keep track of rows with stitch markers so I am not ticking off the rows on paper. By the time I finish one repeat, I'm not far from the other and that makes me happy to keep knitting. 

I finished Jonah's hat and mittens and cast on a mitten for Emmett. Two sets finished, two to go. I also crocheted a little purple flower and sewed it on Norah's hat. I reconfigured the thumb gusset on Jonah's mitten (notes on Ravelry.) When I knit the toddler and child sizes in this pattern, the thumb always lands too far up on the hand. Then I rip out the top of the hand and knit it longer. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, this is a good example. 

Poetry keeps me company these days. Earlier in the month, I pulled my copy of Poems of Gratitude from the shelf. I also read The Darkness Around Us is Deep by William Stafford, a favorite poet. The title of the book is the last line of  A Ritual To Read To Each Other. Although this poem was first published in 1960, it has a universal quality that speaks to our time. I recently read in a commentary about Stafford "that he wrote amazing things without raising his voice, as though he was murmuring." When asked about that he replied that "a raised voice was usually a mistake. A murmur's enough." 

As I link with Kat and the other Unravelers, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  

Ravelry links

Poncho with a Cable

Jonah's Hat and Mittens 

Emmett's Hat and Mittens

Friday, November 20, 2020

Just a Moment

 November 20, 2020 - 11:20 a.m. 

Just a moment - 

This November day the sky is cloudy with patches of blue. 

A light breeze stirs the empty branches of the birch.

At the feeder, a small chickadee with blush tinge on breast, calls to a mate.

Across the street, a boy sits on a step, arm flung over his dog, joy on his face.

Our forty-third wedding anniversary:

marked with yesterday's walk through Pioneers Park,  

celebrated this evening with dinner at home and hearts full of memories.

Were we ever so young?

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Windy Wednesday

The wind is breezy on this warm November day. Even so it will be a good day to be outdoors. As long as the wind doesn't do significant damage, I like the way it clears out the cobwebs and scatters seeds for next year. This time of year, the wind speaks of change. The sunshine and breeze make for pleasant walking and I can use a little cobweb clearing. I vary my walking route in order to stay engaged with my surroundings. Even walking the same route in the reverse direction helps me see things differently. 

I link with Kat and the Unravelers today and thank Kat for providing the link-up. Only one project needed a wee bit of unraveling this week. The textured pattern in Norah's first hat made my forearm sore. I ripped it out and knit the pattern I usually use for the kids' hat. If I can find the right color in my stash, I plan to crochet a little flower to sew on the hat. I cast on a hat for Jonah in his favorite color and am knitting along. I am making the hats with extra height/length. All four have good sized noggins and can always roll up the brim. 

This week I knit the heel flap and turned the heel on this sock. I am glad I stumbled on this free pattern by Kate Atherley. My knitting gauge and narrow foot mean a sock with a 60 stitch circumference and a heel flap/gusset fits me best. I have modified patterns. Still it can be challenging to center a textured pattern meant for 56/ 64 stitch socks over the instep in order to knit a 30 stitch heel flap. In this pattern, Athlerley includes directions for a 60 stitch sock and a heel flap and turn with an uneven number of stitches. This variation allows the ribbed pattern to remain centered over the instep. Does this matter in the scheme of things? No, it does not but why in the world have I never thought about doing this? I even own a book called Sock Architecture which might contain that information. I get so set in my way I miss other ideas. 

After letting the Cormo singles on my spindles rest a few weeks, I plied them on a slightly bigger spindle and made a very sweet skein of yarn. I have a good amount of this fiber to spin. The yarn is more consistent but still a little thick and thin. I am embracing this quality as well as learning about spinning intuitively. Whether it was a new spindle, this particular fiber, muscle memory, or the day, the plying went more smoothly. Sarah gave me a source for very pretty fiber so that is in the back of my mind. However since spindle spinning is a slow process, I am determined not to stash fiber.  

My reading life is rather blah right now. I will confess to a guilty pleasure of listening to the Gaslight Mystery series by Victoria Thompson. These are light mysteries with predictable plots, characters, and even titles. They are set in NYC at the turn of the century. The heroine is a midwife who attends women in the tenements. The series is a break from the noise of the news. 

Take good care and may the wind blow the cobwebs from your doorway. 

Ravelry Links

Jonah's Hat

Norah's Hat and Mittens

Ribbed Socks

Cormo Skein

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Armistice Day

Today is Armistice Day in the United States. On this day in 1918, my grandfather was serving on the western front in France. Although he was too young to be drafted, he volunteered so one of his older brothers could stay home and work the farm with their widowed mother. He began the war as an "engineer" building bridges and moving equipment. By the end of the war, he fought alongside other US service men. 
In one of his letters he wrote about receiving a knitted helmet, a balaclava worn under the helmet. Late in the spring of 1919 he and his brother arrived home safely although his brother had lung damage from a gas attack. My Granddad was a gentle man in every sense of the word and a wonderful grandfather. I am thinking of him today and the army of knitters and Red Cross volunteers who supported the war but that is another story. 

Slow but steady seems to be my knitting pace this past week. The poncho is my comfort knitting. I pull it out in between other projects. I didn't take another photo but I've added more inches.  

The hat and mittens I knit for little Norah last winter are too small. The hat and mittens I knit for her in the Spring are too big. I asked my daughter to measure that little hand and head. This yarn, called Sparkle, seems meant just for her. She brings a lot of sparkle to my days. I love a strong willed little girl. 

I've made some progress on the latest pair of striped socks. Every time I knit striped socks, I think of my Gram who tossed quite a few sayings into her conversation. I don't know that she ever wore colorful socks but she would exclaim, "Oh my stars and striped stockings." 

On this Unraveled Wednesday, I link with Kat and other bloggers.  My hope is that on the anniversary of Armistice Day, we begin an era of healing.

Ravelry Links

Striped Socks

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November 4th

Leaves fall gently on this warm November day. This week we will make one more pass through the yard to make certain the outdoor and garden paraphernalia is stored for winter. Drip hoses are still staked down in the tomato patch and there may be a stake or two lingering in the perennial bed. Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day with a clear blue sky. I walked late in the afternoon and the trees were filled with autumn light. Today's sky, with a few clouds on the horizon, is not quite as bright. 

To Kat and Kym and all the other poll workers, letter writers, and volunteers, thank you for your service. Now we wait. Once again I am thankful that Gram taught me to knit all those many years ago. When the 19th amendment was adopted she was sixteen. Now I wish I had asked her about that time. She was never short an opinion. Occasionally she worked at polling places. I can imagine her knitting or hand sewing in a corner of her davenport (couch) while listening to election results on a radio and later on a small black and white television. Mom would have cross-stitched as she and Dad followed the news. The idea of joining a large contingent of knitters this week and in the weeks to come is comforting. 

Last night I finished the little baby sweater and darned if I don't still have some bits of leftover yarn. Sometimes I think that as socks disappear in the wash, yarn multiplies in project bags. The sweater needs a wash to keep the bottom ribbing flat and then I'll weave in the ends. The color-blocking made a fun sweater for some little person. 

I knit a few more inches on the poncho. I am enjoying knitting it. Not much else to write about a rectangle of stockinette. 

I cast on a vanilla ribbed sock out of stash yarn. Honestly I looked for yarn that wasn't blue and this is what I found. I need another project that isn't round and round stockinette. On the other hand, winter is coning and the Connecticut kids have outgrown their hats and mittens. I love to knit for them. As soon as I have current measurements or reports on whose hat fits, I will be knitting hats and mittens. 

I finished Mozart's Starling in the wee hours of last night. This is a lovely book of nature writing, music, Mozart, and birds. A passage about the murmurations of starlings and the science behind these beautiful waves of flight fascinated me. I will never be a big fan of starlings but now I will appreciate some of their behavior and characteristics. When I read during the day (which is not often) I pick up Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf. Her writing about women's suffrage, the right of women to a college degree and to work in professions previously open only to men, and views on war is brilliant if a little hard to follow. I find this nonfiction worth the effort. Her footnotes and more extensive notes at the end of the book provide helpful explanation and context. 

I'm linking with Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. Gentle readers, hang on tight and keep the faith under this November sky. 

Ravelry links:

Baby Sweater

Poncho with a Cable

Ribbed Socks

Friday, October 30, 2020

If You Give Your Mother a Kingfisher

Late Sunday evening and into Monday morning, a little more than two inches of snow fell. Snow on trees with leaves fits right into this odd year. More seasonable temperatures and sunny autumn days have returned. Just before the front blew in, the birds flocked to the feeders including a new one. My son gave me the kingfisher sculpture last Christmas. We didn't want to pound it into a tree or the deck and there the story begins. 

If you give your Mother a metal bird sculpture, she will want a bird feeder to go with it. She will sketch a platform feeder with an arm for the kingfisher and hand it to her husband. Her husband will scratch his head, watch online videos, and get out his tools. He will make several trips to Lowe's and Home Depot for wood, stain, screws, new parts for the saw, sealer, and rocks. About July, the son will gently ask his mother if she found a place for the kingfisher. She will reply she hopes it will be up before the snow flies. Eventually the husband borrows a posthole digger from a neighbor, digs to a depth below the frost line, and puts rocks in the hole. The wife holds the post while the husband positions it in rocks, checks the upright angle with a level, and then fills the hole with dirt. When the feeder is finished, it is filled and the birds find it. Three weeks later the first snow falls and the couple wonders if the feeder needs a cover. Chances are if the feeder needs a cover, the husband will have to go back to the hardware store. Inspiration from Laura Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  

Actually the feeder is lovely and there are no plans for a cover. We will enjoy it this winter, snow and all. We've got a broom to dust off snow. We're going to need something to do this winter.

Saturday I finished Kate's shawl. I do believe I've knitted her a shawl large enough for wrapping up on cold evenings. It will be in the next package to Connecticut. 

The poncho knitting continues. The cable detail marks progress. Right now the piece measures sixteen inches and is good company in the evenings. I continue to work on the baby sweater from partial skeins of yarn. 

In other bird related news, I'm reading Mozart's Starling. This nonfiction weaves together the natural history of starlings, lore and fact about Mozart, and current research about birdsong. From now on I will be listening more closely to the starlings' song and other vocalizations. My sister recommended this delightful book to me. It is just the right for these weeks of frenetic election activity. 

Be well and take good care. Happy Halloween.


Ravelry Links

Kate's Winter Shawl

Baby Sweater

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

October Notes

Last week the juncos returned. Two red-breasted nuthatches poke safflower seeds from the feeder into the birch bark. I don't know if they are cracking the outer shell or storing seed for winter or both. Chickadees, downy woodpeckers, house finches, and a white breasted nuthatch are also frequent fliers. Sometimes cardinals stop by this feeder. After a night of fitful sleeping, the birds stitch the morning back together. 

I harvested the last of the cherry tomatoes and then I had a roasting party. I froze some and stirred the rest into pizza sauce and topped it all with fresh basil and more tomatoes. How many ways one can eat tomatoes and basil, I wonder. Temperatures have been close to freezing several nights but we haven't had a hard frost yet. 

These two spindles of cormo singles are resting for a few weeks before plying The soft fiber is lovely. I am trying not to spin the dickens out of the fiber, wanting a little less twist in my handspun yarn. Thirty five minutes of spinning on a drop spindle is all my right shoulder will tolerate. Whether I stand or sit to spin, my arm is suspended and performing repetitive motions. It tightens up quickly. So I stretch it out and move on. I'm not anxious to repeat the adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) episode.

I'm chugging along on Kate's shawl and looking forward to sending it to her. This week I've regained the lost knitting. Last night I knit the first garter ridge of edging and it was nice to have the large warm piece on my lap. 

In between I knit on two other projects. The baby sweater is a good project for small amounts of time. I don't have a recipient in mind and might donate this sweater. I love knitting from scraps as much as I love eating tomatoes and basil. Good thing on both accounts.  

I have added some cable repeats to the Easy Folded Poncho. Both the shawl and the poncho are peaceful knits, very essential for these days. 

In reading notes, I am almost finished with City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm not sure what my verdict is on the novel. Female sexuality plays a big part in the story and at times it seems excessive. There are some wonderfully strong, funny, resilient women characters. Relationships between these very human characters, with strengths as well as flaws, are well written. I wish more of the story focused on the main character in later middle and old age. 

The Tooth Witch, the story of how a tooth witch retired and a little witch became the tooth fairy is an old favorite. One of my grandsons recently lost two teeth so I pulled it out to read to him. As he says, "now my tongue has a place to rest." 

Thank goodness for the joy of little ones. I am holding thoughts for all those in the way of the Colorado wildfires. The breeze is picking up as I finish this post. May it bring rain and snow to the west as well as usher in a wind of change.  

I link to Kat and the Unravelers for Unraveled Wednesday. 

Ravelry Links to projects

Kate's Shawl

Baby Sweater

Poncho with a Cable

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Wit and Whimsy

Warm days and cool nights are creating a beautiful autumn in Southeast Nebraska. The birch outside my window is dropping butterscotch leaves. Some leaves on a branch are green while others on the same branch are gold. The ash trees in the neighborhood are the real show stoppers this year. Their leaves meld from green to gold to deep crimson with purple undertones. Someday I'm going to knit a shawl with those colors. Sadly the days of these trees are numbered as the ash borers came to town last summer. I mean to soak up their fall beauty. Tonight may bring the first frost of the season. I am going to pick one more bucket of cherry tomatoes. I have quite a few on the counter but it is hard to let them go. 

Last week I decided to try one of the pumpkin patterns popping up on Ravelry. This sweet project added a little whimsy and respite from the news. I found the bit of pumpkin yarn in my stash. The ball band is long gone but I remember standing in a yarn shop with my sister when we chose it. The plan was to use it in a scrap afghan that I later frogged. Anyway it was a fun little project. 

In other knitting notes, I finished this hat. The pattern has some nice touches including beads in the lace section. I've never beaded anything but maybe someday I'll give it a try with this hat. I've knit the pattern once before and will probably knit it again. The question is do I buy another skein of this yarn in order to make matching mittens? Is it any wonder my stash never seems to become smaller? Mind you, I am not complaining. This year, like every other knitter, I have been grateful to have a stash.

Since the hat is finished, I cast on a baby sweater from leftover yarns. Years ago I answered a trivia question on an early KnitPicks podcast and won two skeins of Stroll. I chose the purple colorway and knit a pair of socks. At a slightly looser gauge, the yarn makes a nice washable baby garment. I don't have much of a plan except to make all the ribbing purple. It was a good way to practice short rows around the back of the neck. 

I am enjoying working on this shawl for my daughter. Last weekend, I finished it per pattern instructions. Since I had a skein and a half of yarn left and she wanted a large warm shawl, I took out the binding and put the stitches back on the needles. The strip of ribbing above the garter edge didn't appeal to me, so I pulled the shawl off the needles and frogged 32 rows. The ribbing might have blocked out nicely but why follow a pattern when you can improvise? I am now knitting another textured section of the shawl. When it is finished, I'll see how much yarn remains and decide what to do next. My knitting mantra is "if it's worth knitting once, it's worth knitting twice." 

I am reading City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert for my book group discussion in November. The prose is full of witty descriptions and similes. I can't say it is great literature but it's fun and fluffy. In the evenings, I read essays from Books and Portraits by Virginia Woolf. Several years ago when we were able to congregate in small places, I purchased this collection on a book group outing to a local used bookstore. All the essays are thoughtful, some touching and others contain a touch of Woolf's acerbic wit. A few are written about people I am not interested in so I won't read this book cover to cover. Still, rediscovering it on my shelf was a pleasant surprise.   

I link to Kat and the Unravelers who are also knitting and reading. Wishing you a little wit and whimsy during these beautiful October days. 

Ravelry Links 


Frosted Lilac Hat

Little Nugget Baby Sweater

Winter Shawl

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Early October

Early October and the light begins to shift. Sunset comes earlier. What we lose in daylight, we gain in the color of October skies. Some days, the bright blue stretches from rim to rim while on others the periwinkle gray backlit by the sun turns late afternoon into a painting. The maples in the neighborhood display with deep rich red while the locust and birch trees sport a brilliant yellow-gold. Walking in this season is glorious. I try to look up and outward so as not to miss the beauty. October is my favorite month of Autumn. 

After cool fall days, the temperatures are swinging up to 80 degrees this week. Maybe the last few tomatoes will ripen. By the end of the week, I will have clipped enough seed heads from the zinnias for next years crop. The herbs and pot of basil still need water. I will not miss the hot humid days of summer but I will miss the tomatoes and the basil. 

In knitting news, I finished the Downpour Socks. I enjoyed knitting them but never did memorize the texture pattern. I understood what the designer was doing but didn't find it intuitive. With the socks off the needles, the Frosted Lily Hat is my small project. The yarn is soft. I don't know that I've ever knit with Malabrigo Rios. Late to the yarn party again. The soft superwash would be a good yarn for a child's garment.

I continue to work on my daughter's winter shawl. Right now I am knitting the border. The long rows scrunched up on the needle look like a big blue blob of wool. It doesn't photograph well. I cast on a cabled version of the Easy Folded Poncho. The yarn is lovely and the knitting is peaceful. It is nice to be knitting on a project where the rows remain the same length. It's also a good project for this season. My plan is to stay calm and knit on. 

I am in a bit of a reading slump but it will pass. I have picked up and put down several books. My library loan of Riviera Gold by Laurie King expired before I finished reading it. That probably says something about my enthusiasm for the book. It was ok but not the best of this series. Maybe I'll request it again and maybe I won't. Page-long dialogues where speakers alternated but were not identified except at the beginning of conversation annoyed me. I've been rereading several volumes of William Stafford's poetry and following along with the Craft-Lit podcast book, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. 

Ravelry Links 

Downpour Socks

Frosted Lily Hat

Poncho with a Cable

I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers on this autumn Wednesday and wishing you a beautiful October sky. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Tender Thoughts

Each month, Honore' invites us to reflect on the word we chose in January. I chose tender. This week I completed this little quilt made from blocks sewed by a woman I never knew, a woman who taught in a one room school house and quietly lived her life. In 1930 she married and left teaching to raise a son and a daughter. I don't know for sure but I imagine once she married she could no longer teach school in rural Nebraska. I knew her daughter professionally at work but we were not close friends. She had no reason so share her mother's work with me other than she knew I enjoyed making quilts. When she gave the blocks to me, I hope I told her that I  understood the work her mother put into her handwork and organization of quilt patterns. This colleague befriended me with her gift.  

A long time ago I read this article describing a 2002 UCLA study about women and friendship. Through the wonder of the internet, I found it again. Researchers discovered that in addition to the "fight or flight" response to stress, women also release oxytocin. This hormone encourages women to tend children and gather with other women. When women engage in this "tend and befriend" response, studies suggest more ocytocin is released further countering stress. 

As I stitched the binding to the edges of the quilt, I thought about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her work on behalf of women. I thought about her remarkable intellect and her extraordinary but tender courage. When we tend and befriend each other, a world of possibility opens up. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Welcome Fall

Autumn arrives gently - one falling leaf at a time. The sun sets earlier. The afternoon temperatures climb to the eighties but the mornings are cool. Early this morning, light fog hung over the back yards. Today the humidity is high with no rain in sight. Here in southeast Nebraska we have experienced some hazy skies caused by smoke from the fires in the western parts of the country. Never doubt that we are connected to each other, no matter the miles. 

On this Unraveled Wednesday, I continue to knit the Downpour Socks, enjoying the pattern and wondering how, even when I'm ticking off pattern rows, I need to start the heel at a different point in the pattern. It makes no difference to me but I do find it curious. 

When I get tired of the socks, I work on this shawl for my daughter. She requested a large warm blue shawl to wrap up in on cold days. I am always game to knit another shawl and it's great audiobook knitting. Sport weight yarn on size seven needles makes it a breeze to knit. It is good for those evenings when, like a protagonist in an English mystery, I'm ready for a cup of tea and a biscuit. 

Several years ago I tried to knit the Churchmouse Yarns and Teas Easy Folded Poncho but didn't have the right yarn and gave up. Last month my sister gave me a birthday gift certificate to Knit Paper Scissors, a local yarn shop. After a trip to browse, I decided to make the poncho. I returned home to ponder yarn choices and later returned for this lovely rich teal yarn, another shade of blue. 
Honestly I looked at a purple and a deep maroon but the shades weren't quite right. This one spoke to me. 

Recently CYT updated the pattern to include an option with a cabled edge. Never one to let specific instructions come between me and a project, I knit a fairly healthy swatch with a different cable. I added seed stitch to the edges to prevent rolling. I wanted to make sure the cable didn't pull on the fabric and also check gauge. I chose this project to carry me through the next weeks of electioneering. Sometimes a knitter needs a project requiring concentration and other times something more meditative. I'm thinking this will be the meditative variety. 

I ordered a used copy of 
Three Guineas by Virginia Woolf. This is a sequel of sorts to A Room of One's Own. Although it is dated (1938), the way Woolf wove together her ideas about women, war, peace, and equality is fascinating. It's worth noting that English women won the right to vote during her lifetime. One law passed in 1918 and a second in 1928. When I need a break from Ms. Woolf, I pick up the new Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery, Riviera Gold by Laurie King. Sometimes lighter reading fare is a nice change and it was available from my library. 

So what about you this week? Are you looking for reading and/or a project requiring concentration or something more meditative?  I'm linking to Kat and the Unravelers this week and look forward to see what everyone is knitting. 

Ravelry links to projects

Downpour Socks

Winter Shawl

Poncho with a Cable