Tuesday, January 28, 2020


In The Song of the Lark, Cather began a description of a winter day with, "The air was a tender blue-grey, the color on the doves that flew in and out of the white dove house . . ." Today's sky is more gray than tender but that might be my mood. Earlier, fog enveloped backyards in the neighborhood and then it was gone.

Rest in Peace
I planned a different post for Honore's first link-up on words but sometimes life marches right up and demands I pay attention to something else. Last week I replaced these winter shoe-boots purchased in the 1974. I was fresh from college and a first year teacher. I didn't have extra cash either. My only winter footwear consisted of a pair of navy dress boots. After my fashionable impractical boot was sucked off in playground snow for the third time, I bought these for around $40. I had little extra cash but was tired of cold wet feet. I have narrow feet that are hard to fit so I wear anything that fits for a long time. The foot bed in these boots had become very uncomfortable so I replaced them for considerably more than $40. They walked a lot of miles and fall into the category of "they don't make them like they used to."

I wish my back was as tough as these boots but it is not. Last week, I was tired of being cooped up and the sidewalks were still icy/slushy. So I put on my new footwear and scooped off the front sidewalk. I know better. Repeating a lifting/twisting motion, as in scooping and tossing slush is not good for my back. After a work-related injury years ago, my back has limits. If I exercise and stretch, I am mostly pain free. I know this but I chose to ignore it and so pulled a muscle in my upper back. 

I've spent several days icing a sore upper back while gingerly moving and stretching. Yesterday I read and rested. This afternoon, my back permitting, I hope to go for a short walk. Hey, I've got new winter walking shoes and just by accident, wool socks that match. 

Last night, I knit for an hour on an easy garter stitch shawl  and listened to the end of The Secrets of Wishtide, a light mystery. I needed entertaining so this mystery fit the bill. I thought the author repeated some phrases too many times but this is the first in a series. I enjoyed it enough I'll give the second one a try. 

Usually within a week or so, my back muscles return to what is normal for me. If not, I'll have to seek physical therapy. In the meantime, I am treating myself with tenderness. And so tender, as in easily hurt. I have a tender back and I would do well to tend it.

Take good care of yourself today.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Winter's Mix

As I write, a winter mix of precipitation falls. Our weather pattern this month is rain changing to snow changing to sleet. Then a little more snow falls and all of it freezes leaving a layer of ice on the sidewalks and side streets. Yaktrax don't work well because some walks are cleared and others are not. Other than missing my outdoor walks, I like the quiet days of January. A flock of Juncos feeds in our yard. Their simple coloring is crisp and fresh next to the snowy landscape.

Yarn color choices are throwing me for a loop. A post or so ago, Dee remarked how some yarn colors look different in skeins than when they are knitted together into fabric. Amen. I ripped out the shawl I was working on and cast on another. You are probably tired of reading about this yarn. I'm a little tired of it myself so I set it aside for now. I could buy more of one color to make another pattern but I've more than enough yardage for a nice shawl. I am also determined to use the yarn and a pattern I already own.

The cowl is coming along but might be knit from two colors instead of three. I have enough gray and lavender yarn to make a nice cowl. I bought the blue as an accent and liked the colors in the yarn shop. Last night I knit a stripe from the blue and ripped it out. I plan to knit the next section from gray and then try the blue again at the top. Ravelry tells me this is the fourth time I've knit this pattern. That's a win for this pattern.

The baby sweater is the star of my knitting projects. The knitting is easy and the color unwinds from the ball, no decisions are necessary. Knitting for a new little person is a tender joy.

These after the-holidays-before-the spring days seem made for projects requiring time and space. Who wants to clean out the fridge or the kitchen cupboards? Monday I spent an hour or so looking through my book-making books because really I can learn to make anything with a how-to book and the internet. I may get out my tote of book-making supplies and see what happens.

I finished Educated by Tara Westover and then watched a couple of interviews with the author. What a remarkable young woman with an incredible story about what it means to be educated. I happened onto the audio version of Sula read by the author while browsing available fiction on Overdrive. Hearing the story and rich language in Toni Morrison's voice was a treat. Needing something peaceful in hard copy, I chose one of my favorite novels, The Song of a Lark by Willa Cather. When I reread, I notice much more or perhaps I just notice differently because I'm not reading quickly to get to the end of the story.

Jonah loves all things winter. After a morning of sledding, his siblings were happy to go indoors for a mug of hot chocolate and indoor play. Jonah still wanted to make a snowman so his Mom went back out with him. He was also proud to tell me he now knows how to make snow angels. I love his enthusiasm for winter.

As I finish this winter mix and link with Kat and the Unravelers, I hope your knitting, making, and/or reading is treating you well. Stay safe and warm out there as we skate toward the end of January.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

January Magic

We have had a few foggy nights and frosty January mornings, the ones when the moisture forms soft hoar frost. These mornings carry a bit of magic. Monday the frost was visible until early afternoon. Speaking of magic, my new iPhone phone arrived on January 9, one month, six days, and four phone calls after Apple agreed to send a replacement. Automation may be efficient but it is hard to correct. Thank you for your kind words. I continue to receive an email every weekday stating my order has been delayed by another day. I called one more time to report this but am now done waiting "on hold for the next available Apple advisor." "Egad and little fishhooks," as my grandmother used to say.

I prefer to play with the color and yarn in this shawl. I try a color and then think another combination would be better so I rip out a few rows and try something else. Colors in skeins take on a different appearance when knitted next to each other. This shawl has given me new respect for pattern designers who knit and reknit many stitches to arrive at designs. Jonah and I are enjoying this version of The Mitten by Jim Aylesworth. After the little boy loses his mitten and the animals explode it into red spaghetti in the snow, the grandmother knits him another, because she loves him. One cold fall day, Jonah told his Mom "it is time to order my Grammy mittens." Love is the true magic in knitted stitches. 

My nephew and his partner are expecting a new baby so I cast on a baby sweater. My gauge is different from the one suggested in both the pattern and the yarn label so I knit a small swatch. If you ask me, the sizing in baby sweaters is not like magic. It varies quite a bit from pattern to pattern. Looking at the neck ribbing, I wonder if it will stretch over the head of a six - twelve month old. I may start over with the next bigger size - at least for ribbing. Babies have big heads.

I am reading Educated by Tara Westover. This tough story is well written but hard to read. I will finish it because I want to know how this woman survived her growing up. I read The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell. This madcap literary adventure is a light enjoyable read. The heroine, a descendent of the Brontes, is funny and irreverent with some interesting opinions about the Bronte family. It may not be for everyone but it was a nice contrast with Educated and other heavy fiction now available.  

The wind has pushed away the gray skies. The sun is out and the walks are dry. I am linking to Kat and the Unravelers. Then I am going out to walk before the ice and bitter cold return. May your making, whatever it is, bring you a little bit of magic.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Ordinary Days

Hello. This January morning the sun is out and the breeze is picking up. Mild temperatures make for good brisk walks, quite welcome after the cookie extravaganza of the holidays. I am working on a thorough dusting and cleaning around the house as I savor these ordinary days. Routine and order comforts me as I search for the peace of January. I look for it while walking a trail, watching the downy woodpecker at the suet feeder, and memorizing a winter sunset. For many reasons, peace feels elusive these days. 

Thank goodness for knitting as I vow never to order from Apple Online again. As the wisdom goes, we can't always choose what happens to us but we do choose our response to it. Knitting is as good a response as anything else. On December 3  I received a defective iPhone. Since then I have been trying to sort out and receive the replacement. Apple online shopping is just too automated for common sense. Cross your fingers, the phone arrives today. One more time, raise your needles and repeat after me - more often than not, shopping locally is the best policy.

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I have a little unraveling to report. The third or fourth time is the charm for some yarn I bought last June in Connecticut. I tried to knit this shawl into a pattern called Afetos but the lace defeated me. I used stitch markers, I color coded the chart, I added a lifeline, and I tried knitting from both the chart and written instructions. I looked for errata (there was none) so the errors were mine. I wonder if the lace symbols were different from other designs I have knit. Regardless my brain wasn't computing and tinking out lace over and over is not my idea of a good challenge or peaceful knitting. My favorite shawls have a boomerang shape and are knit from scraps, striping in colors and adding eyelets with reckless abandon. I decided to create one of those shawls from a pattern I've knit previously. I don't know if I will follow it exactly or add on some other type of lace border. If I don't use every inch of this lovely yarn, I'll have some leftover for another project and it won't have been shredded by constant frogging.

I also cast on a cowl as an easy carry around project. The lavender yarn was leftover from a pair of mitts. Sometime last Spring I bought two more skeins (gray and blue) of the same yarn in order to knit a matching cowl. This is a good knit for January. 

Currently, I am reading several books including Fever. This historical fiction novel is based on the life of Mary Mallon, better known as Typhoid Mary. The hysteria and the way she was treated as a poor woman and Irish immigrant is an interesting story. Sometimes I wonder how much the progress we have made in attitudes toward immigrants. I have just begun Educated as our next month's book group selection so I don't have an opinion - yet. Rarely am I short an opinion (as my husband will tell you) so more on Educated later. 

My son sent me the link to an online newsletter called, "The New Paper." The news is delivered once a day as short bullet points with links if you want more information. The newsletter aims to send factual news without sensationalism and opinion. It is one way to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed or like I've stuck my head in the sand to avoid anxiety. It isn't my exclusive source for news but I do appreciate the clarity.

I am off to fold up the Christmas quilt on the coffee table. It is the last of the holiday decor to be put away. My sister made it years ago. I love the angels quilted into the corners and the crisp points of the compass in the center. She is as dear as angel that is for sure.

Where ever your knitting or reading takes you, I wish you peace this January.

P.S. I have had a few spam like comments in the comments. Currently I delete them as soon as I know they have popped up. I hope to find a better solution soon.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year

In January 2019 I wrote, "I choose wonder instead of worry." The magic of wonder certainly enhanced my thinking and writing but I did not worry less. Life happens and it isn't contained in ideas of either/or. Both/and makes more sense to me. I am a worrier and a wonderer. Perhaps my best lesson is to honor both the worry and wonder. Both are part of who I am. The wonder might be to try and hold them at the same time.

This year, I choose tender. Somewhere I heard of The Tenderness Project and became intrigued with the word "tender." This project defines tender: to care, to be sensitive, to tend, to exchange. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as an adjective, a verb, and a noun. The word has several origins that led to different parts of speech. What is my "tender?" What do I offer myself and others in gentle exchange? As I carry wonder into the New Year with other chosen words (understand, imagine, light), I look forward to tender. The old ones echo through my days while this new one promises possibility.

Because it is Unraveled Wednesday (thank you Kat for continuing to host), I'll post about this shawl. I finished the knitting on Christmas evening and last night I wove in the ends. Chickadee yarn from Quince is one of my favorite yarns. It isn't fancy but will be warmer than a fingering weight shawl. I knit this shawl with leftovers from two different sweaters and enjoyed making with what I had on hand. Mostly I let knitting take me where it will, just enjoying the process. This year I may try to knit one project in each of group of WIPS from scraps and/or leftovers. Now and then a limited parameter challenges my creativity.

Joy Harjo was named the U.S. poet laureate in June 2019. Since I hadn't read much of her work, I ordered one of her earlier books, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky. At the end of each prose poem, she wrote a few notes about the inspiration and her beliefs about each poem. These notes help me understand her beautiful complex writing. Themes in her poems are social justice, myths, southwest US, and jazz. Harjo was born in Oklahoma and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. In the last few years, whoever has chosen the poet laureate has chosen well. Harjo follows Tracy K. Smith, another remarkable poet. 

The sky is bright this New Year's Day and I am determined to bundle up and take a walk. The wind is blowing in the new decade. Let's hope it is a wind carrying change. Here's to a slender thread of hope in 2020.