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.