Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Goldilocks Projects

Memorial Day weekend brought one day of sunshine sandwiched between two days of rain. The rain was welcome and now the garden and I look forward to warmer sunnier days. On Saturday we ate a simple grilled cheese/veggie/hummus sandwich dinner out on the deck. The sun was out and the wind was still. Broccoli salad and fresh strawberries rounded out the menu. The only thing that would have made eating outdoors better was potato chips. I rarely buy chips because they are trouble for me - I can't eat just one.

Sunday I finished this sweater for the second time. In the category of "be careful what you wish for" or "pride goes before or fall" or just plain knitting, here is the story. I washed and blocked the sweater and it grew several inches in length but thank goodness not in width. This sweater was too long. I tried it on and clipped a stitch marker to mark the row I wanted to be the hem. I tried it on again to make sure I had marked the length I wanted. Then I ripped out two eyelet/increase repeats of eleven rows each and bound off. I tried it on again and discovered it was too short. I put it back on the needles and reknit one repeat and the border. Then I washed and wet blocked it again. The sweater is quite clean. I was thankful this was a top down sweater that made for an easy fix. Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light is a wool/alpaca blend so I should have known the alpaca might stretch. I have one other sweater knit from this yarn and didn't have a problem but it is seamed. The hem on this flares a bit but I think that is part of the A-line shaping and I'm ok with it. I like the fit. I love the soft gray color and weight of the sweater and will enjoy it next winter.

I also finished Norah's hat. I cast on the first size and knit through the hearts and decided it was too small. The heart pattern makes the next size up quite a jump but better too big than too small. She will grow. The Berrocco Ultra Wool is a good choice of yarn for a little one. I haven't knit much with it but am keeping this superwash in mind for kid knits. It had a nice hand and is available in many colors and weights. While knitting, I tried two methods for jogless stripes but as usual the fabric came out distorted. I searched again and found three Suzanne Bryan's videos on jogless stripes. If you like to understand the technical aspects of knitting or just need to know how to do something, her videos are a good resource. I reknit this hat again in order to perfect the technique but now I've got it. Next up are matching mittens because a girl's hat and mittens ought to match and I have plenty of yarn.

Last week I returned to Toni Morrison's essay collection, The Source of Self-Regard. What a brilliant gifted woman. These essays make me think and nudge me toward viewing art, literature, race, and migration of peoples in new ways. In a lecture she gave in 1988, "Unspeakable Things Unspoken" the description of how and why she chose the first sentences in several of her novels is so interesting. I want to reread a couple of her books. If I missed so much in the first sentence, what else did I miss?  I plan to meander though the book for the rest of the summer. This is daytime reading for me.

I will link with Kat and the Unravelers so you are able meander around knitting blogs to see what others are knitting and reading.

Enjoy these last few days of May.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

So Far So Good

Good afternoon. The sky is overcast and the air is cool. Sunday I planted my garden. The basil and parsley settle into the herb garden while the birds make a meal of zinnia seeds. I remind myself they also need to eat. I use plastic forks and spoons around the herbs to keep the bunnies and squirrels at a distance. The technique isn't fool proof but it is non-toxic. I don't hide the silverware so it causes no bodily harm. I also have forks and spoons around lettuce seed in a container. The birds haven't bothered the cucumber seeds. The tomato plants are surrounded by cages and the drip hoses are in place. Just like that the growing season begins.

Sunday was a good day. Not only did I plant the garden, I finished knitting the gray sweater. I was almost sorry for the knitting to come to an end. The combination of the yarn/needles/pattern felt just right in my hands. The sweater is blocking and I look forward to posting a photo next week. I picked up this shawl. I tried one pattern and abandoned it as this variegated yarn looked better in garter than stockinette stitch. The more solid yarn is leftover from a gigantic skein of yarn I used several years ago. Never throw away leftover yarn.

I tried some other projects and settled on a Love and Hearts hat for Norah. Although I dearly love all the boys, it is fun to knit for a little girl. Typically I use two 24 inch circular needles to knit hats. Stitches stay on the needles and I don't have to switch to DPN's for the decreases. The tension in the rows with three colors was hard to manage on two circulars and looked sloppy. I unraveled the hat and started over. It's a young child size and I was just into the row of hearts so ripping it out didn't make me at all unhappy. 

I made some progress on this first sock. The way the mock cable twists is easy and fun and I love that the stripes mean one twist per stripe. I am easily entertained. 

Olive Again is coming right up in my library overdrive holds. I remembered enjoying Olive Kitteridge but not many details about Olive. So I'm rereading the novel to better enjoy Olive Again. I'm also pondering my summer reading list and ordered a few used books from Powells. Ordering from Powells is a throwback to the years I taught and created my own "used book order" from a summer reading list. 

As usual, I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers. Link on over for other knitting projects and reading suggestions.

We continue to shelter at home, venturing out only when necessary. We plan to watch the local stats for several weeks and then weigh the risk of exposure. I suspect the amount of risk will ebb and flow. So far so good.

Stay safe and well dear readers. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Friendly Flowers

Although today is gray with rain in the forecast, May flowers bloom. April here was quite dry so the rain is welcome. Yesterday we spent three hours in the yard. We wrangled compost for the black gold that amends the clay-like soil. Then I planted and puttered while my husband mowed. Being outdoors and tending the garden is a balm for the soul. Many of the perennials in our yard came from friends. For now, the flowers are a nice reminder of friends I cannot see in person. A good friend, whom I met when we were both first year teachers in 1973, gave me the bleeding heart. It grows well in the micro-climate against a fence. Even though it gets a fair amount of afternoon sun, the fence protects it from the wind and offers a short time of shade.

The iris and old fashioned phlox were given to me by friend, now in her eighties who lives in Montana. She still is quite a gardener, growing plants inside and out. The iris are not big hybrids but grow a mid-size flower from a hearty plant. I seem to divide one patch or another every year. I have planted a few large hybrid iris but they are prone to disease in our yard. I stick with what grows easily and naturally.

I love the color and height of these old fashioned phlox. Late last summer, they were nearly choked out by ground cover. After I pulled the ground cover, I noticed two little starts between the shed and fence. I scooped them up and moved them back to their assigned spot.

I continue knitting the same projects, not new and interesting, but not unraveled. I finished the body of the gray Sunshine Coast (there's an oxymoron for you) sweater. Options for the bottom edging are none, three rows of garter stitch, or an i-cord bind off. Since I am not knitting it in a cotton or linen yarn, I chose the garter stitch edging. In my mind, stockinette in cotton would roll less than stockinette in this wool/alpaca blend? I might be making that up. If after blocking, the edgings flare or flip, I will take out the garter edges. Better a roll than a flare or flip. I put the first sleeve on the needles last night and am happily knitting around and around. I hope to finish before our temps reach 90 degrees.

When I have a few minutes to fill with knitting, I pick up the socks. While at the Carillon in the Car concert this week, I finished up the heel flap and turned the heel. Nothing makes me feel smarter than turning a heel. I'm not sure why this is so but it feels like a super power.

Jonah and I are enjoying Joseph Had A Little Overcoat by Simms Taback on our FaceTime calls. Joseph turns his worn overcoat into a jacket, vest, handkerchief, and then a button which gets lost. The end of the story, "Joseph made a book about it - which shows you can always make something out of nothing," appeals to both of us. The book won a Caldecott Award for its whimsical artwork. Last night I finished The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. I really enjoyed this story about the sweet but fierce and honest relationship between a six year old girl and her elderly grandmother. The short book, illustrated with line drawings, is full of beautiful descriptions of summer life on an island off Finland. I found it peaceful reading.

As we watch May unfold, I'll link to Kat and the Unravelers. May your reading be worth your time and all your flowers friendly and bright.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Early May

As I walk this week, the sky changes from blue to partly cloudy and back again. The wind blows a gale and the air feels like early April. In April we had snow and warm May-like temperatures. The world continues to feel strange. After listening to Grandma Gatewood's Inspiring Walk, I decided to increase the distance of my walks. As I approach a city park next to a large elementary school, I walk a slight incline. As I turn the corner, I have a panoramic view of the sky and racing clouds over a mostly empty park. The dandelions bloom on the soccer field and a broken kite swings from an old elm.

I had never heard of Grandma Emma Gatewood. The writing in this book is average or slightly below. However Gatewood was a remarkable woman and her story is fascinating. After years in an abusive marriage and raising her large family, she through-hiked the Applachian Trail three times. At the time of her first hike, she was sixty-seven years old. After the third hike, she walked the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon. I am currently reading The Women of Copper Country. Russell writes well and tells a good story. I have enjoyed some of her other novels. Given the state of the meatpacking industry in this country, the historical fiction about a copper miner's strike in 1913 feels timely.  As I read about the owners of the mine, I wonder how much has changed.

I'm also knitting away. I unraveled this cowl this week. I didn't bother to check gauge (it was only a cowl - right?) and the stitches were scrunched together on a circular needle. As per pattern, I used a dk weight yarn. It is just too much cowl for me. I tried putting it in the dryer but it didn't snug up at all. The superwash yarn would have continued to stretch with wearing and I knew I'd never wear this piece. I considered giving it away but couldn't think of a suitable recipient. The re-skeined and washed yarn came out quite nicely. I plan to knit the pattern again with fewer repeats. I enjoyed the knitting so this is one of those opportunities to get more time and money's worth from the yarn. Superwash yarn is great for kids and babies but I need to think carefully about knitting with it in the future.

I finished the scrappy leg warmers. This photo isn't exciting because it's hard to photograph your own legs. I tried. Of course I didn't use up all the scraps. I honestly think they multiply in the dark of night. These socks are my current carry around project and I enjoy picking them up from time to time. It's always fun to see another stripe appear. Although I didn't plan it, I kind of like it when my knitting and book match. I am easily entertained.

Since the weather cooled off and I've had my fix of textured knitting, I am back to knitting on this sweater. As I learn over and over, progress comes from steady knitting. I decided to try and knit at least one inch a day and see what happens. This week I've done quite well. If my shoulder protests or it gets too warm or I get bored with gray stockinette, I'll pick up something else like the second version of the Bluet Cowl.

Life goes on in spite of pandemic living. We plan on being cautious and watch local stats as restrictions are lifted. I find it curious that as cases increase, lifting restrictions is also occurring or being considered. Meanwhile the lily of the valley and the lilacs bloom. I finished all the winter clean-up and preliminary weeding so my garden patches are ready for planting. I hope I can find my last summer's notes about tomato varieties planted. Take good care.

Look at the link to Kat and the Unravelers to see how other knitters and readers are marking their days.