Thursday, December 30, 2021

To Everything There is a Season

Today, on this eve of New Year's Eve, the day is bright and quite cold. Snow, forecast for New Year's Day, would be a lovely beginning for the New Year. While autumn is my favorite season, winter is a close second. Earlier this week I thought I had little write. My knitting looked much the same but then I looked over my notes about Season, the word I chose last year at this time and decided to post some rambling thoughts. 

Season wound itself through 2021. Seasoning ordinary days during the pandemic wasn't much different than in the time before Covid. Gratitude and appreciation are the keys. I considered the seasons of the year as well as seasons in my life, including age, joy, friendships, and grief. This holiday season felt different. I unwrapped one day at a time and enjoyed a calmer quieter December. 

The four seasons continue to enrich ordinary days. When I read Winter World, I learned more about strategies animals and plants use to survive winter weather. In Wintering, Katherine May reflected on turning inward to care for one's self and others. Winter as a fallow resting time has always appealed to me. During the summer, I read about a season of unlikely friendship and aging in The Narrowboat Summer. Currently I'm reading an old book, Stillmeadow Sampler by Gladys Tabor structured around the four seasons. Tabor wrote several books of memoir/nature notes about life on her Connecticut farm. First published in 1950, this book is a glimpse of a different time and has been on my reading list for a number of years. Last September while visiting in Connecticut, my daughter found a library copy for me. There, in a few quiet moments, I read part of the Autumn section. Recently I ordered a used copy to own and reread at leisure. The four seasons are a paradox. The turning of the seasons with predictable changes in light, growth, temperature, wind direction, bird and animal behavior comfort me. Yet each season brings differences including the ever changing light at sunset. 

My knitting looks much the same but this red shawl is almost finished. I have enjoyed it immensely. I like knitting with a soft alpaca and the red, with a slight undertone of blue, is my favorite shade of red. Last week I wondered if I would finish by the end of the year but decided not to knit crazily to do so. Yesterday afternoon I put on a few rows while waiting for my sister and brother-in-law to arrive for dinner. By the way, we had a lovely time together. After they left, I finished the lace section. Eight rows of the garter stitch edging and the bind-off remain. I average four of these long rows each evening. We have no New Year's Eve plans except to watch a livestream of The Last Blast by The Plymouth Brass, a festive concert with a wide variety of music. We have attended these concerts in person but will not do so this year. The quality of music at First Plymouth is exceptional. The Abendmusik choir has toured internationally. 

This shawl has been my evening companion as I listened to The Madness of Crowds. The two are going to be forever entwined in my memory. I think this novel one of Penny's best. It captures the edgy times in which we live. 

A day late, I'll link with Kat and the Unravelers. Thanks to Kat for this marker in my week and a place to write about knitting and books with others who enjoy the same. 

Onward we go toward 2022.  "To everything there is a season . . ."

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Week

The morning sun streams in as I take photos of my knitting and sit here writing. Later I will take a walk. We are enjoying a quiet week. I am happy to be home baking cookies. Half of my holiday cards are waiting to be written. I am taking my time because I enjoy writing a brief personal note. The remaining recipients will receive Happy New Year wishes. My view is that real mail is welcome whenever it arrives. 

I will link this post with Unraveled Wednesday hosted by Kat. The Red Wool Peddler's Shawl is back on the needles and last night I finished knitting all the previously unraveled yarn. That always feels like a win to me. I hope to write a few notes on my project page about the mental gymnastics required to knit the pattern. The red alpaca is cheerful and warm in my lap. 

I also sorted out my spinning and finished the gold sections from two braids of Polworth fiber. As Kat once mentioned, some fiber has a definite preference for the direction it wants to be spun. I also fell into a habit common for beginners. I did too much pre-drafting making a very thin single that kept breaking. Here's hoping this third skein isn't too different in thickness from the previous two. If it is, I'll save it for something else. Spinning singles to ply into yarn to be knit into a project does feel like magic. 

Jonah and Norah are enjoying Wake Up Bear, It's Christmas. This book was a favorite of my two children so it is fun to share again. When I opened Christmas on the Great Plains, I found the bookmark. Years ago, my kids cut an uneven strip of white construction paper. Then one of them out a circle from a chocolate coin wrapper and stapled it to the top of the bookmark - twice.  When you are nine or ten, two staples is always better than one. The makers must have carefully washed and dried the wrapper because there are no grease marks on the underside of the paper. Then they carefully drew red and green crayon lines down the length of the strip. It makes me smile. 

I am reading The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny. This latest Three Pines story begins between Christmas and New Years and so is a nice coincidence. I find it refreshing that two male characters, Armand Gamache and his son-in-law, both in leadership positions, admit they are wrong and apologize. Penny's writing about the tangle of beliefs, opinion, freedom of speech is timely and well done.  

However you choose to mark this season, I hope it is filled with love and light. 

Ravelry Links

Red Wool Peddlers Shawl

Prairie Shawl

Polworth Handspun

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Windy Wednesday

Yesterday just after sunset Lance and I walked in the neighborhood. The temperature was a balmy 53 degrees and seeing lights from the sidewalk was fun. I understand the appeal of a walking tour in a city or countryside. Today the forecast is for very high winds culminating in an afternoon thunderstorm. The wind forecast is such that the schools closed today. When I stepped out to pick up the newspaper, the sun was shining, the air was warm, and a little humid. This is very odd weather for December in Nebraska. Every now and again we have thunder-snow and I wonder if that won't happen today. 

As usual this Wednesday, I link with Kat and the Unravelers. I completed the garter stitch body and knit sixteen lace rows of the red Wool Peddlers Shawl. Alas, the lace rows need to be unraveled and reknit. The pattern was published in Folk Shawls in 2000. I think it came before the time of so many shawl patterns on Ravelry. The lace chart is oddly written, leaving off the edge stitches and maybe part of the center increase although none of that is clear from the written instructions. According to Ravelry notes, some knitters thought it easier to follow the written directions so that is what I did. The trouble with that is it makes me a blind follower. I'd rather work from a chart/visual design. I plan to lay the shawl on a table and rip back. I also need to compare the chart and written directions. All this is best done during daylight hours. In addition, I changed the method for the center increase and added an extra stitch to each side edge. Ten years ago I knit this pattern with the same modifications so surely I can do it again. It's all knitting. Right?

In the meantime, I knit another section on the Anker's Cardigan. Although the yoke is ribbing on small needles, it is pleasant knitting. After finishing the yoke, I will put it on waste yarn and check the fit. Then it is on to the stockinette knitting with more audiobook listening. 

I am reading The Paper Palace and wonder about the hype it has received. Maybe the novel is more of a summer read. Since it is a book group selection I plan to finish. Moments of Being is a good way to learn about Virginia Woolf's time and place. The piece, "A Sketch of the Past," is a window into her early years, including her parents' personalities. Now and then she writes a sentence or two about her writing.  Jonah and I read Red and Lulu, a story of a pair of cardinals and an evergreen chosen as the Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center. Since he has been to Rockefeller Center, it is a fun story for him. When we came to the illustration of the long truck hauling the tree, he remarked, "oh dear, they are on I-95." 

The clouds are blowing across sky and the wind is rising on this warm December day. If you are in the vicinity, put rocks in your pockets and hang onto your hat. 

Ravelry Links

Anker's Cardigan

Red Wool Peddler's Shawl

Handmade German Stars.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Sunshine and Coffee

The sun shines and the air is cold. This morning I took time off from December for a massage. The owners of Bella are meticulous with Covid protocols so I feel safe. I enjoyed every minute and had a hard time getting up from the table covered in a heated mattress pad. What a luxury. I came home and made deaf coffee with a splash of warm oat milk and dash of cinnamon. Anyway, here I am, linking with Kat and the other Unravelers

I finished the scrappy Christmas Quilt and placed it over the bannister. I love the four embroidered squares. It is nice to have this three year project off my sewing table. I also finished sewing a little apron for Norah as part of her Christmas gift. I chose Minnie Mouse fabric and bubble-gum pink bias tape trim using this free pattern. If you come home with two packages of Double Fold bias tape (instead of one double and one single) it doesn't take much time at all. Honestly, the applied bias tape looks fine in person. The photo reflects the shadows and makes it look wrinkly. I included a pink frosting spreader, pink sprinkles, and Minnie Mouse cupcake papers with the apron. Norah loves Minnie Mouse and she stands at the counter on a step-stool while her Mom cooks. I did not include any Minnie Mouse cookie cutters to prevent constant requests for cut-out cookies. We would like to be invited back.  

Last week I flitted between knitting projects. Organizing and wrapping Christmas packages for my children and grandchildren must have required most of my focus. At least that is my excuse. I put a few rows on my sweater, cast on some mitts that seemed fiddly and not the right color before I landed on this garter stitch shawl. Years ago I bought red yarn to make the Wool Peddler's Shawl, a pattern in the book Folk Shawls. The sample in the book was red and I wanted to make one. I frogged the project last Spring but tried again this month. It's going well and the garter stitch body is what I need just now. 

I set aside the Prairie Shawl until I spin up the remaining gold fiber. I'd like to know how much yardage I actually have and the spindle and I are out of sync. I need a quiet hour or two and some practice fiber to recover my tenuous muscle memory of spinning. I don't have a lot of gold fiber and I don't want to ruin what remains. So I set the fiber, the spindle, and the shawl aside for another day. 

I am reading The Paper Palace, the January selection for my local book group. I'm just into it so don't have an opinion yet. I'm also reading Moments of Being, a posthumous publication of memoir writing by Virginia Woolf. It is interesting to read her reflections about her parents and siblings. The way her mind worked fascinates me. For me, Woolf is reading for the daylight hours. I'm reading myself to sleep with some Christmas stories. I need a little sugar now and then.   

I hope you find some unexpected treats in these December days. 

Ravelry Link

Red Wool Peddler's Shawl

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Unwrapping the Days

This week the days were unseasonably warm. While walking in a light jacket is lovely, I feel like I have one foot in Thanksgiving and another in the winter holidays. Holiday decorating with the windows and door open seems strange so I haven't done much. Instead I savor the late autumn days. When it comes to decorating, I prefer a few favorites while my husband loves all the things. Holiday decor is a compromise at our house. 

As a birthday gift in honor of my 70th birthday, my son and daughter, gave me an Advent Yarn Set. I have never had one. The dyer of this set is Irish and lives in Kent. She shipped Advent sets the first of November. As supply chain issues appeared in the news, I wondered if the yarn would arrive by December. Since it was a wonderful gift I decided not to worry about the timing. If it was in a shipping container floating in a harbor, so be it. I'd enjoy it whenever it arrived. When it miraculously arrived on November 30, I knew the knitting and postal gods had smiled on me. I opened the package but waited until December 1 to unwrap the first mini skein. 

The yarn looks like aran or heavier but that is photographer error.
Each day I open a skein and a little envelope with a tiny surprise, stitch markers to date. I plan to take my time with this yarn. Eventually I'll wind one skein to get a better feel for the yarn. It is a wooly wool in neutral colors and DK weight. The feel of the yarn reminds me of Juliann's November posts about wool. The possibilities are endless. Who needs sugarplums dancing in your head when you are a knitter with new yarn? The ball bands are a record of the sequence arranged by the dyer but I am enough of a planner that I want to see all of colors before I decide on how to use the yarn. 

The basket with this project is the first decor of the holiday. Who knows, maybe I'll tie a festive bow on the handle. I plan to get out the decorations soon but first I have a package to open. Each package of yarn is an invitation to thoughtfully unwrap another day of this season. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Thanksgiving Story

This gray breezy morning I think of those who make Thanksgiving for their families. My generation is now the group who roll out pie crust, mash potatoes, whisk lumps out of the gravy, and whip the cream. As a girl and teenager, I loved being underfoot in the kitchen listening to my grandmother, mother, aunts, and cousins chatter as they prepared Thanksgiving dinner. They were cooking for a crowd. 

In 1940, one of Dad's uncles lost his wife. My grandmother and sister invited Uncle Henry and his three daughters to join their two families for Thanksgiving dinner. From that act of kindness, fourteen family members began a Thanksgiving tradition that continued for sixty years. The cousins around that first table grew up, married, and brought their wives and children. The celebration rotated among families, several who lived in big old farm houses. My sister and I giggled our way through dinners with cousins and second cousins at a card table set up in a bedroom. We played outdoors in the afternoon. Leftovers and pie were served around 4:30 p.m. so the farmers could go home for chores. Since several of Dad's cousins were dairy farmers, the whipped cream was plentiful. 

After I married, the gathering moved to a community hall. My husband and I took our children a few times. At one of those dinners, a new daughter-in-law brought Cool-Whip to serve with her pie. No one turned up their nose or said a word. However Dad's cousin Ellen, with a twinkle in her eye, went to her picnic basket and pulled out a hand mixer and a jar of cream. She whipped up a big bowl of cream and added it to the dessert table. My generation scattered around the country so the reunion is no longer held but Thanksgiving reminds me of that side of the family, farm kitchens, and whipping cream. 

Today I am linking with Kat and other makers for Unraveled Wednesday. This week I completed the hand-quilting on my little Christmas nine-patch. Maybe later this weekend I'll cut the binding for the edges. I'll photograph it when it's finished. 

After some experimenting with patterns and yarn combinations, the Prairie Shawl is underway. In one of her novels, Willa Cather describes the prairie as shaggy and she is right. The fall landscape is one of dried mixed grasses, the bark of old cottonwoods and hackberry under a blue sky. The skein of gold superwash merino I originally thought I'd use was too bright and smooth. It didn't look like the prairie.  Another cake of lace weight was too delicate and too mustardy. I browsed a local yarn shop and (shock) couldn't find anything. Although I had this handspun polworth marked for another project, I wound up one small skein and gave it a try. Today's lighting isn't showing the fabric well but the tonal colors, the wooly feel of polworth, and the irregular handmade texture are perfect. When I finish the spinning, I will only have about 200 yards but I'll modify the pattern. Even though it is customary to spin all the yarn for a project before casting on, I tried this and love it. I best get spinning.  

Before I check on the dough for tomorrow's crescent rolls (it better be rising), I wish you a happy Thanksgiving filled with warm memories, good company, and a delicious dinner. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Sixes and Sevens

Hello on this bright crisp day. The winds of November blow and the yards are full of leaves. Yesterday morning two friends and I enjoyed tea and muffins in a cozy living room. We talked of family, friends, the public schools, and books. We had a lovely warm time together. The afternoon came and went so here I am on Thursday. Even though I'm late, I'll link with Kat and the Wednesday Unravelers

My brother John is on my mind and in my heart. He loved autumn so this gorgeous long season feels bittersweet. Grief and joy surface at the oddest moments. I try to welcome all of these emotions and not avoid the sadness. I remind myself that loss isn't a tidy package to be wrapped and placed on a shelf by any given date. 

Knitting, even when at sixes and sevens, is a good companion for these November days. My finished Fractal Danger (above) has a shape unlike the other finished projects on Ravelry. Through no fault of the pattern, I took a wonky turn and created the unique corner you see on the end. Regardless, the scarf wraps well around my neck and I decided not to redo it. I love the color. The design, with short row sections, is interesting to knit and I loved the color and hand of the yarn.

I have long wanted to knit the autumn colors of Spring Creek Prairie into a shawl. Walking the prairie and knitting a triangular shawl both feel like coming home to me. I pulled these yarns from stash and have tried three different patterns. More often than not I over-think projects and this is one of them. This morning I realized my logical mind would rather start with the colors of the ground and work up to the sky with a soft lacy detail. I foresee more trial and error before I really get going on this shawl. 

I knit a few more ribbed sections on the yoke of this cardigan. This singles yarn has a lovely hand. I need a needle with a longer cable and I don't have one. I think physical comfort while knitting is important. How is it I have a basket full of needles but need another? Since I prefer either a Knitter's Pride or ChiaoGoo and my local shops don't carry them, I need to order one. I haven't looked yet but hope some web-based store has one in stock. 

I make good progress on my little holiday quilt.  It's amazing how working on something moves one closer to being finished. I have two borders and four corners left to quilt. I'm on track to finish this by the first part of December. 

I read The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. The collaboration between these two women is a remarkable story. The hard copy concludes with notes by both authors. I recommend reading them. The characters, particularly the women, are well written and drive the plot. At times the writing felt a little awkward but the story of Belle da Costa Green and the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City is worth knowing and reading. 

I hope this November day finds you well and warm. 

Ravelry Links

Fractal Danger 

Anker's Cardigan, My Size

Prairie Shawl

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Changing Season

I look out my window at a November day. The sky is gray with rain in the forecast. A few yellowy gold birch and ornamental pear leaves hang on to the branches. The yard across the street is covered in red maple leaves. The fall colors have been glorious. The season changes and with it the menu. I have four tomatoes and a sprig of basil. It's hard to let go of the fresh tomato/basil combination but a pan of roasted root vegetables also sounds good.

Today is Wednesday, the day to link with Kat and the other Unravelers and write about knitting and/or reading. I finished the toe on some scrappy socks. I used a clasped-weft join so I could clip off all the ends. I wove in only the beginning and ending pieces of yarn. They were fun to knit and make me smile when I look at them. Striping notes are on my Ravelery project page. Honestly there was a method to the madness.

I decided to finish a small nine-patch Christmas quilt that has been languishing for years. I can't remember when I began the piecing but I did embroider four spacer blocks last December and then sewed a few more nine patch squares to complete the blocks.

By January, a red and green project lost its appeal. Last summer I put the top together, marked it, and basted the layers. A few weeks ago, I was ready for a quilt on my lap. Most evenings, I quilt a few blocks. My hand-quilted stitches are not as short and even as in the past. However after a few evenings, I found a rhythm in scooping up stitches and pulling thread through the fabric. There is a bit of magic in evening lamp light reflected from the tiny quilting needle. Who knows what I'll do with it when it is finished. I'd just like to finish it. 

I finished Hamnet. The writing is beautiful and the portrayal of grief is poignant. I enjoyed the novel but wasn't as taken with it as I thought I might be. Maybe I read too much hype or maybe it's just the way the book struck me at this time in my life. Currently, I am reading Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey, a two term U.S. Poet Laureate. Her poems tell such stories. I enjoy the way she her view of artwork inspires her poems. Her insight about women portrayed in art and photographs is thought provoking.  

The sky is turning autumn gun-metal gray. If I am going to walk, I should get going before the rain arrives. My sister has invited us for Thanksgiving and so I will be looking through recipes for a side-dish. I also need plan a few meals for the week and make a grocery list - the eternal grocery list. 

What's on your menu this week?

Ravelry Link

Scrappy Impossible Girl Socks

The Best of Both Seasons


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Now it is November

Now it is November. Last night we had freezing temperatures. The maples are a glorious red orange that won't last long. I'm soaking up every last bit of autumn color. A flock of robins is having a feast in the ornamental pear tree. A white breasted nuthatch pokes around in the birch, cracking open safflower seeds or storing them for a colder day. On Monday we drove home from a few days in Fort Worth where we had a nice visit with our son and family. We watched our grandson play football on a beautiful Friday evening in the school's new stadium. Since I am the grandmother, I cheered enthusiastically for the young man we all love and left the worry about injuries to his parents. The school did a great job of having many students participate in the evening. The drum line in the band looked like they were having the best time. My hat is off to the music department in that school. Oh yes, the Pioneers won the game. 

Since today is Wednesday, I'm linking with Kat and the other Unravelers to post about knitting and reading. 

All the miles meant knitting time. I pulled out three leftover sock yarns and knit a pair of scrappy socks in Halloween colors. I need to knit the toe on the second sock and they will be finished. Socks are good travel projects and these yarns seemed appropriate for Halloween weekend. 

Texas sun shines on the scrappy sock

Before we left, I cast on the Anker's Cardigan My Size with yarn that was a birthday gift from my sister. The Woolstok Light has a lovely hand and I love the color. Choosing a sweater pattern always seems tricky. I read the Ravelry notes about the sweater but knitters knit differently. Time will tell if I chose wisely but what the heck - it is only knitting. I've had my eye on this pattern for quite awhile. This sweater makes four active projects which is one more than is typical for me. However the socks and handspun cowl are nearly finished. 

While driving we listened to the latest Bess Crawford mystery, An Irish Hostage. This mystery takes place in Ireland just after World War One. It is predictable and a little old fashioned but Bess Crawford and Simon Brandon feel like old friends. We enjoyed this latest installment in the series. The English position toward Ireland is very evident but the English and Irish characters seem like they were true to the time in which they lived.  

I love to visit my family but I am happy to be home. After a drive to northeast Iowa and then Texas, home, even though slightly dusty, feels wonderful. I made a pot of white bean soup last night. This afternoon I plan to get out my winter coat and mittens and go for a walk. I am ready for some quiet days. Happy November.

Ravelry Links

Light Blue Anker's Cardigan

Scrappy Socks

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Knitting and Spinning

Light rain falls as I write this post. Although some trees remain green, the maples, locusts, and ash are hauntingly beautiful. Have I mentioned that October is my favorite month? The outdoor photo is from yesterday's walk. I pulled out The Wheeling Year: A Poet's Field Book and read Ted Kooser's reflections on October in rural Nebraska and Iowa. His prose is beautiful, unique, and peaceful. The bitter rancorous language that bombards daily life makes me weary. Kooser's words are a balm for this troubled time, as are knitting and spinning. 

Today is Unraveled Wednesday with some progress in my projects. I am linking with the other Unravelers. The day is quite gray so photos were a challenge. Last night I finished the second section of Fractal Danger. The shaping is accomplished by use of short rows. I am amazed at designers who come up with these patterns. I know there is a mathematical concept involved but don't have to understand it to knit the project. Regardless, the short row sections make for interesting knitting. They require me to pay attention so this scarf is a little different than the Hitchhiker. I'm in it for the process and enjoying the kintting. 

I finished a second skein from some Polworth fiber. The soft gold is a pretty and a change from the colors I typically choose. I have enough fiber to spin one more skein. A few times, I had trouble with fiber pulling apart at the joins. I picked up the spindle another day and was successful. The little white cowl is coming along. It might have been nice to double this with a strand of mohair/silk but I didn't have any in stash the evening I cast on. 

I finally finished Horizon by Barry Lopez. All summer and fall this has been my Sunday book, one that requires intermittent daylight reading followed by time for reflection. Lopez was terminally ill as he finished this book. In Horizon, he revisits far flung locations previously visited to see if he could learn anything new. Although I don't agree with every position Lopez takes, I appreciate his thoughtfulness, his respect for indigenous peoples and working class people who make scientific expeditions possible, and the environment. I found his comments about the wisdom of elders very astute. He pointed out that wise elders in most cultures don't seek fame and fortune but everyone knows who they are. The book is a bit of a wander though his mind and not a fast read but well worth my the time. Once again he reminds me, "All who wander are not lost." I also wonder why this country isn't listening to voices like Lopez's.  

This last photo is a little fuzzy but I decided to post it anyway. I hope autumn is treating you to beauty. 


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

These Autumn Days

Autumn is so beautiful. Walking the neighborhood is a joy. The bright days make me think of my brother John who was often out with his black labs on autumn days. He and his immediate family are on my mind. This year, the maples turning red seem more subtle with underlying brown tones. I wonder if subtle coloring is due to dry conditions or the way I am seeing them these days. A Cooper's Hawk has been in the backyard and managed to remove a few small squirrels. Squirrels do so much damage, I can't work up much sympathy for them. 

I wove in the ends and sewed buttons on Norah's sweater and will send it off soon. Maybe she will wear it and maybe not but I wanted to knit her a sweater so I did. I enjoyed (mostly) knitting it for her. I finished the red hat that is a Christmas gift. This week I need a car knitting project so I cast on a cowl from my handspun Cormo. I plan to use the two most consistent skeins. The yarn certainly has character. Somehow the variation in weight works itself out in a cowl. I'm not sure why I chose such white fiber. My recollection was I read about Cormo sheep and wanted to try the fiber. More white mitts or a white hat didn't seem practical.  I don't need another cowl but I wanted to knit with the yarn. 

I am enjoying Hamnet in a paperback copy. It is nice to have a book-book on my nightstand. The description of how the disease-carrying fleas made their way to the boy, Hamnet, and his sister, Judith, gives me pause during this pandemic. I am listening to Vanishing Fleece read by the author Clara Parkes. Hearing Parkes read her work is delightful. This is the story of Parkes' adventure with a locally grown bale of wool that she had scoured, spun in local mills, and made into yarn. It's a great story if you are interested in yarn. 

I am writing this Unraveled Wednesday post on Tuesday. The tag on my teabag read, "Be Guided. Listen to the whispers of the universe." I'm not sure the universe is whispering to me today but it is a nice thought. Our son is working remotely here before we drive to Iowa for John's service. We are enjoying having him here. A memorial service is a sad reason for a family gathering but the few days with Aaron are an unexpected gift. I hope you have some unexpected gifts this week. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


Rain fell last night, easing dry conditions. I woke to the gusts of wind. This morning I saw the first junco of the autumn/winter season. Now, the Autumn sun shines on the yellow and gold birch leaves promising a beautiful breezy day. My dear sister is coming over for lunch. We will chat, catch-up on our grands and knitting, and remember our brother John. Knit Paper Scissors, a local yarn shop, has new fall yarns so who knows, we may wander over there before she drives home. 

Today Kat hosts Unraveled Wednesday so I am linking to the Unravelers as we write about knitting and reading. 

Norah's sweater is beginning to feel like a saga. I'm going to block or steam the button bands one more time. Last night I discovered the width of the side with the buttons was two rows short. I took out the bind-off and added the rows. I used the one-row buttonhole as suggested by Sarah and Kym and am reasonably happy with them. I also used this Modern Daily Knitting tutorial on knitting button bands. The ends at the bottom of the sweater could be neater. I almost ripped them both out and started over but I didn't. I'm hoping blocking sorts them out. Famous last words, right? I bought some buttons at JoAnn's last week and when I got them home, they didn't have shanks on the back so I returned for an exchange. I will be glad to sew on the buttons and weave in the last ends on this project. 

I knit a little on the Fractal Danger scarf. The tonal yarn is lovely and one of my favorite shades of blue. I am also working on a hat as a Christmas gift. I'm using DK yarn instead of worsted but other than the length which I added, the hat is an easy project. The yarn is from a local dyer so that is fun. 

Last week I pulled an older book, Life in a Day by Doris Grumbach, off my shelf and reread it. This quiet honest memoir of a Maine day in Grumbach's life was what I needed. I am late to the Hamnet party but waited to read it with my local book group. I am barely into the book but am enjoying Farrell's writing. 

I hope your knitting, spinning, stitching, gardening, cooking and/or reading is treating you well. 

Ravelry Links

Norah's Sweater

Fractal Danger

Red Pennyroyal Hat

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Knitting and Reading Notes

The sky is overcast and the air smells dusty. I don't know if our county is listed with drought status but if not we must be close. Rain has not fallen in our part of town since sometime before we left for Connecticut on September 14. I watered before we left because the garden was dry. The nights are cooler with temps dipping into the 50's now and again. I am ready to leave the 80-plus degree days until next Spring.

Thank you all for your kind words of sympathy. The love from family and friend, including blog pals, carries us through life's losses and griefs. Some nights I have just held onto my knitting and other times I've added some stitches. One night I knit on the garter stitch Fractal Danger scarf/shawl but not enough to show much difference in a photo. 

The knitting on Norah's sweater is almost finished. After knitting the neck edge and one button band I blocked it again to make sure the button band was flat. Success. The button band with the buttonholes remains as well as tacking down the pockets. I enjoy weaving in ends and don't mind seaming but oh the buttonholes. They never look as crisp and even as I'd like. Do you have a favorite buttonhole technique? I wanted the buttons to match the lavender pocket lining but my local fabric shop didn't have a great match. Shades of purple are tricky. The buttons laying on the sweater came from my grandmother's button collection. They are somewhere between pink and lavender. I'm not sure I like them. I plan to try JoAnn's and see what I can find. Something whimsical would be fun and Norah is old enough not to think that a heart or star or bow is candy and goes in the mouth. 

I finished the latest pair of travel knitting socks. The texture os the SKYP stripe in a stockinette sock was the right mix for planes and airports. In my opinion (and I always have one), the sock yarn base hit the sweet spot of not too light and not too heavy. One of my local yarn shops sells it and it is also available online.  

I finished reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte. Bronte's writing stands the test of time. I'd have been lost without the annotated version that translated the many French phrases and sentences. The narrator/heroine of the story leads the reader on a winding path. Several times I thought I could predict the plot only to find I was wrong. This plucky heroine establishes herself as a teacher and in several instances holds her own in difficult situations and against societies norms. The sleight of hand in the plot and the independent young heroine make it an engaging novel. This book reflects the time in which it was written but as I read I thought of Toni Morrison's words from a piece in The Source of Self-Regard, "Who is absent in this story?" 

Kat is enjoying her family this week so there is no link to the other Unravelers. I suspect they are still posting. We knitters and readers are an intrepid bunch. 

Here's to Autumn. 

Ravelery Links

Norah's Sweater

Traveling Socks


Sunday, October 3, 2021

This Season

Autumn has arrived. Yellow birch leaves fall on the front yard. The maples are turning red and the remaining Ash trees begin their transition from a tinge of gold to deep eggplant. Last Wednesday I walked in the morning and purposely took the route around a huge block that includes a park and public elementary school. I walked that way so I could stand at the crest of a gentle slope that affords a wide open view of the sky. That morning clouds were building in the northwest ahead of a cool front. Sunlight from the east meant the northwest sky was that autumn gray-blue with undertones of lavender that I love so much. 

I came home intending to write a blog post. While looking over my knitting for the post, my sister called to tell me our brother John, 67,  had passed away. He and his wife and one daughter were on vacation when he died unexpectedly. They were at a beach house enjoying the outdoors they loved. 

And so the season changes. While our hearts are heavy, we are richer for having had John in our lives. He was a wonderful brother, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Whether he was sledding with his grandchildren, training labrador retrievers with his daughter or friends, or smoking a rack of ribs for a group, he loved the outdoors. His successful newspaper career took him all over the midwest working as circulation manager and then as publisher/editor of several papers. Wherever he and his family lived, they made a circle of close friends. He was a good partner as we helped our parents through the end of their lives. As my sibs and I became increasingly busy with our own families, John checked in via phone with all of us. Usually once in every conversation, he'd say, "We should all get together." We should have done that more often that's for sure. Sometime later we will gather to celebrate his life. He wanted to get us together but I'm pretty sure this isn't what he had in mind. 

James, John
Jane, Julie

This past June my sibs and I had a few golden hours together in Minnesota. I am grateful for that time and for the photos we took. We all will miss him. 

This autumn, he and his family, as well as others who have lost loved ones this year will be on my mind. The falling leaves are a gentle bittersweet reminder to let go with grace. To everything there is a season. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

It's Friday

After my husband and I moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1979, my Mom called me on Friday evenings to chat. She greeted me with a cheery, "It's Friday." We continued to call each other on Friday nights long after we moved to Lincoln and were only two and a half hours apart. Those calls were a joy after our work weeks. Writing this Friday TGIF post reminds me of her. She would have loved these great grandchildren.

A Nebraska t-shirt in Ct.

Thinking:  I am thinking about our recent visit of ordinary days with my daughter, son-in-law and family. We walked the three brothers to school, played the card game Uno, threw a big ball back and forth over the trampoline net, made chocolate sand pies, walked the cemetery loop on the church grounds, read at bedtime, and watched a squash plant grow in the backyard. We also celebrated Emmett's 11th birthday and Norah's 3rd birthday with their choice of dinners and decor. Emmett requested an "All American barbecue" dinner with veggie burgers, potato chips, dill pickles, sweet corn, watermelon, beans, and apple pie with ice cream. His table decor included a checked tablecloth and plastic ants crawling down the table. Norah had a Minnie Mouse party with a Nacho dinner. Kate made Minnie Mouse cupcakes. We all wore Mouse ears. Pre-Covid, the kids also chose a special birthday event, like a visit to the local nature center, touring a museum in NYC, or attending a major league baseball game. The kids love this tradition and have fun celebrating each other's birthdays. What's not to like about plastic ants topped with marshmallows and Minnie Mouse cupcakes? Avoiding the hoopla of kid-birthday-party-creep is smart.

Grateful: I am grateful we have the resources to travel and return home safely. We all tested for Covid before traveling. We wore N-95 masks on the travel days. Of course, the adults are vaccinated. I am grateful we could provide childcare so my daughter and husband could have a "working" night off. He officiated a wedding but still they were out for a few hours. We fed the kids and put them to bed on time. We had a great time together and no blood was shed. 

I love to visit my kids and I also love to come home. We fall back into our routines easily. Last night the weather was beautiful, so we carried our dinner out to the deck. The tomatoes are still producing although not as prolifically which is fine by me. It's time to collect zinnia seeds for next year.  

Inspired: I am inspired by Kym's September Thursday posts on fall gardening. In these posts, she writes about what, why, and how to take care of a garden in the autumn. These posts are full of good information and interesting links. This morning I brought in two begonias from the front porch. Overnight temperatures have dipped down to the high forties twice. The weekend promises 90 degree highs but fall is in the air. Nature with its gentle insistence on change is comforting. Yesterday I picked up fresh pumpkin pie spice and a can of pumpkin. I don't want pumpkin in all my food but I do like pumpkin muffins. 

Fun: While in Connecticut, I got my first temporary tatoo - Minnie Mouse. Since it is washing off, Norah is sending me another. "Tatoo on Grammy!" Who-boy - I don't think my kids can believe it. Even though I have a pair of socks on the needles, I cast on another pair for traveling knitting. Between air traveling and a busy household, I needed a simple pattern. Here's a bit of fun. I ordered this yarn because I thought the gold and rust speckles on a cream background looked like fall. Turns out the background had a rose tint. Oranges and browns have never been my favorite colors to wear. I tried to order an autumn color but chose rose gold despite myself. The yarn has a lovely hand and I love the colors.  

 Ravelry Link  Traveling Socks

Gentle readers, I hope all is well with you. I wish you beautiful days of early autumn weather and no ants on your picnic tables. Have a good weekend.