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


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Turning Season

Summer begins to turn to Autumn. The greens are not so vivid. Grass in the neighborhood fades and leaves hang loosely from their stems. The coreopsis is spent. My garden has the end-of-summer look. Tomato vines wither from the bottom. The volunteer cherry tomato plant I stuck in the raised bed is out of control. It leaves many little rotten tomatoes as next year's volunteers. The zinnias continue to bloom but it's time to collect seed for next year. One day wool socks, the next sandals.

As the news goes from bad to worse, needle, thread, yarn, and spindle are a balm. Over the past few days, I knit this cowl mostly from my handspun. The gray stripes are knit from commerical yarn. When you knit a small project on size 7 needles, it doesn't take long. Knitting with this yarn was an adventure in thick, thin, and twist. The ribbing is a little flippy but hopefully a bath and gentle blocking will help. I enjoyed watching the handspun become knitted fabric. My next goal is to spin a more even yarn with a little less twist. It's a learning process. 

I blocked the Touchstone Shawl and wove in the ends. I can use a touchstone these days. The light peachy pink is an interesting color, a bit of a change for me. For some reason I am drawn to that lace pattern. I love to knit it and I like the way it the looks. I have knit other projects with that stitch pattern. 

I cast on the second sock of the Downpour pair. The top ribbing and the pattern set-up is finished. Often a second sock knits up faster than the first. We will see. 

I listened to the audio version of The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. If it hadn't been a selection by my book group, I wouldn't have listened which is only one of the things I appreciate about that group. I enjoyed the book. I have a cursory knowledge of marine creatures so the book was an opportunity to learn more. I have a new respect for those who work at big Aquariums. The relationships that persons with disabilities developed with the creatures in the New England Aquarium in Boston is a touching reminder that anyone can benefit from interaction with animals and/or the natural world. The author reads this book and at first her enthusiasm and emotion seemed a little profuse. As the story went on, I grew accustomed to her presentation. I also would like to visit a big aquarium some day. 

I link with Kat and the Unravelers today. May you find a touchstone during these days. Maybe we will learn to turn toward better days. 

Ravelry Links to projects

Handspun Cowl

Touchstone Shawl

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Wool Sock Weather

Gentle rain falls this morning. Sunday's high was 93 degrees. The temperature began to drop on Monday and then with thunderstorms on Tuesday, eventually fell to a high of 46. After a dry hot August, moisture is very welcome. Last week as I walked out to the garden and the compost bins, I noticed cracks in the ground. Yesterday afternoon I pulled on a pair of wool socks knit by my sister and brewed a cup of tea. I set the vacuum cleaner aside in favor of Findings. I enjoyed the first essay on light and dark. This book of nature writing from Scotland was just right for a rainy afternoon. Today, in spite of the rain, I best get back to a little housekeeping. 

In the meantime, here is the round-up of my projects. I finished knitting the Touchstone Shawl and hope to block it this afternoon. Last night I finished the toe of the first Downpour Sock (above) in this pair. I decided not to kitchner the toe at 10:15 p.m. last night. Today will be soon enough. The sock fits and looks nice when tried on but the slip stitch pattern pulls a bit when laying flat. 

I cast on the Frosted Lily hat because I like to have three or four knitting projects in rotation and I need a break from shawl knitting. This rainy cool weather puts me in the mood for sweater knitting but I haven't made any choices yet. 

Labor Day, I plied the last two singles of this fiber. I used the first small skeins of the teal color in some mittens I posted previously. Then I spun the skeins below. I estimate 81 yards of this periwinkle colored yarn. What to knit with them? I may try a small cowl because I can knit without trying to divide yardage for fingerless mitts. Dividing these skeins by weight would not yield equivalent yards per division.  The yarn is a little more consistent in thickness with the emphasis being on "a little." I have some stash yarn to add if needed.  

I plan to use that little bit of the darkest fiber for practice as there isn't enough for anything else. I spun these skeins by setting the spindle in motion to the right and then plied two singles in the opposite direction. Each skein requires two singles so I am much more comfortable manipulating the spindle to the right. Plying to the left still feels awkward. I plan to reverse the action with the leftover fiber for more practice in spinning to the left. I would really like to take an "in person" class in spinning some day. 

As always, I'm linking with Kat and the Unravelers.  Thanks to Kat, I get my projects updated. Ravelry links are listed below. Please excuse the dark light for today's photos. The gray drippy sky creates less than optimal conditions for photos. Be well, be safe. 

Ravelry links for projects:

Downpour Socks

Frosted Lily Hat

Malabrigo Handspun Project


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Birthday Month

Yesterday Lance and I drove out to Branched Oak Lake and took a walk. The ditches were full of wild sunflowers and goldenrod. Although the state recreation area will be busy this weekend, we walked in an area away from the campsites and had it nearly to ourselves. We were able to leave our masks in the car. Two great blue herons fished in sheltered areas of the lake. We wore our old comfortable clothes as well as hats to keep the sun off of our faces. A light breeze took care of the mosquitoes. For a few hours the angst of the world fell away. It was a lovely way to mark my sixty ninth birthday. This is what sixty nine looks like. The only time I feel the years is when I'm pulling weeds in the garden. I do have better jeans but old jeans are often the best jeans and it is my party. Maybe next year, I'll spring for a new sun hat but maybe not. This one doesn't have any holes in the crown or brim. Through thick and thin, this guy has been at my side making sure we mark the day. He brought me a latte this morning. 

Today I am grateful for good health, comfortable shelter, food, friends, and a loving family. The Connecticut crew called earlier. Jonah was drinking warm milk with a little decaf coffee in my honor.  We read 
Peter Rabbit and Silly Sally and Micah showed me his drawings of everyone's favorite baseball teams (Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees.) Since Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards, upside down, Jonah showed me how he can walk backwards on his feet and hands. Really what could be better than those dear faces? My sister sent me a text message and I heard from friends yesterday. I'm sure I'll hear from the Texas crew later today. Our oldest grandson started his junior year in high school two weeks ago. His school system opted for remote learning so he is zoomed in right now.

For today's version of Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and company, I have some progress on projects still in process. I am now reacquainted with the "if you knit on something you can make progress" knitting rule. I am nearly finished with the Touchstone shawl. (Ravelry link) The last garter stitch section is going to have fewer rows than the others because I am almost out of that yarn. It will be fine that way. I'm enjoying the rhythm of the garter stitch and simple lace. I also made some progress on the first Downpour sock (Ravelry link) and the little quilt I wrote about last week. 

I finished reading Virginia Woolf and the Women Who Shaped Her. Gill organized a great deal of information in this biography. I now know more about the Bloomsbury Group although I'm not sure I needed all the steamy complicated details. I found the connections between people in Woolf's life and characters in her novels to be informative. I may choose a novel to read and hope to better understand her writing. Did you know that it wasn't until 1947 that Cambridge University began awarding degrees to women? I wonder how Woolf's life and writing would have been affected by full access to education and better treatment for mental illness.  

Here's to September and another trip around the sun. Today I'm thumbing my nose at the tomatoes and plan to bake some cookies as they are my favorite sweet treat. Life is short and who knows what the next year will bring. By the way, it is my opinion that we are all entitled to a birthday month.