Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Walking into Seventy

Last Thursday was my seventieth birthday. I had a lovely day, talking and texting with my sweet family and friends. My husband brought me a bouquet of roses and I tried out a new spindle. Like most everyone else, I don't feel as old as my age. As far as I'm concerned, I'm as young as I feel. Mary Pipher in her book Another Country, wrote about two periods of age, the young old and the old old. Today we are fortunate to count ourselves among the young old with plenty of laugh lines and gray hair creeping in around the edges. I'm well aware that we could join the old old group at anytime. 

For the record, I have never colored my hair. I inherited my dark hair from my Mother. She didn't turn gray until after seventy. When my hair grays, I'll consider it a badge of honor. I also believe that old age is an honor. My mantra is each day is a gift. I aim to age with as much grace as I can muster. Along the way, I'll knit, spin, read, write, and enjoy my family and friends. I walk almost every day. Walking is a good metaphor for life, one thoughtful step following another with plenty of time to breathe and enjoy the moment. I'm walking into seventy with gratitude for each day. 

Today is a glorious early autumn day. When we left on our morning walk, the temperature was 59 degrees and the sun was shining. I wore a sweater. Some maples in the neighborhood sport a few red leaves. I plan to venture out again today just to soak up the day. I potted some bronze mums last evening. Saturday the temps are going back up into the mid-nineties and two weeks of summer remain but the season is turning to my favorite, Autumn. 

This Wednesday I''m linking with Kat and the Unravelers to post about knitting and reading. My birthday cast on was a shawl incorporating some handspun Cormo and a commercial yarn. I enjoyed playing with the yarns but the colors didn't work together the way I thought they would. I'm going to unravel the project and ponder what to knit with the handspun. In the meantime I'm making good progress with Norah's sweater. I put in some textured pockets and knit a light lavender lining for the pockets. When I finish the second sleeve, I will block the sweater and stitch down the pocket lining and trim. Then I'll knit the buttonbands. I made a little progress on my current sock project.


I listened to two audiobooks that I enjoyed. Both novels had two storylines, although The Keeper of Lost Things was more intricately done with short stories as part of one story. The Keeper of Lost Things also had a bit of realistic magic that was fun. One of the main characters was a young woman with Down Syndrome. It was nice to see her included. The Lions of Fifth Avenue contained some interesting history about the New York City Public Library and women's history in Greenwich Village, beginning in 1913. Both of these novels had strong but not perfect female characters and tidy endings. With so much going on in the world, two light novels with both of these features were comforting.  

I hope wherever you are, the season is beginning to turn with cooler calmer days ahead.  

Ravelery Links

Norah's Sweater

Couplet Socks

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Hello September

September blew in with a very welcome cool breeze. I wore a long sleeved cotton tee on our walk this morning. We had an early morning thunderstorm on Monday but could use more rain. The backyard still has big cracks in the ground. Today is the first day of school for my Connecticut grandchildren. Jonah starts kindergarten. The sky looked like rain so he wore his firefighter rain jacket. My Texas grandson started his senior year late in August. It is hard to believe he is a senior looking at colleges. Sometimes the days are long but the years are short.

The first day of school is a tender moment but this year feels especially tenuous. The Connecticut school district has a good Covid protocol, beginning with masks. The PTO provided drawstring bags for each child. Families add an extra mask, hand sanitizer, and a beach towel for outdoor breaks and lunch. These three boys have been learning at home since late February 2020. They packed their backpacks and were excited about school and seeing their friends. Their parents are taking a leap of faith with a heaping amount of courage. With my heart in my throat, I'm holding a good thought for ALL school children today. A Covid vaccine for children under twelve can't come soon enough. Norah is going to be lost without "the brothers" at home. I foresee sparkly nail polish on her nails by the end of the day. It is the one girly thing she enjoys. She would rather run the bases or ride her scooter than play with a doll and that is fine by all of us. 

Moving onto the knitting and Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends. This week I made good progress on Norah's sweater. I finally found the rhythm for this project so it is my evening knitting. Sometimes it just takes awhile. The back and forth stockinette is peaceful and I like the heathered color of the yarn. Last night I put stitches on waste yarn for the pockets. I'm using the pocket instructions from the Cricket pattern with a slight modification in stitch numbers. Fingers and needles are crossed in hopes that I figured this out correctly. 

I started on a new spinning project and these two singles are ready to be plied. I am sectioning off each color to spin in separate but graduated colors. I plan to use the gold yarn in one project and the gradient of blues in another. Time and spinning will tell. Spinning is teaching me to let go of expectations and see what happens. I let the fiber be what it wants to be. I'll decide on projects after creating the skeins. Honestly, it's about as wild as I get. 

Speaking of gold. I walk by these sunflowers. Seeing their bright blooms brings me joy. The honey bees love them. On hot sticky mornings, they were a landmark for the way home. Seeing them meant we were just a few blocks from home and a drink of water. 


Wishing you a little peace in this crazy upside down world. 

Ravelry Links

Norah's Sweater

Blue and Gold Polworth



 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Knitting and Kindness

Two weeks ago I heard the cicadas rasp away at their summer swan song. The chorus begins later than usual. When my grandfather heard them he would say, "six weeks until the first frost." Born in 1899 and raised on a farm in south central Nebraska, he could step outdoors, smell the air, look at the position of the leaves on a tree, and/or gaze at the horizon, watch the birds, and predict the weather. After he finished his gardening chores, he would pull an old metal lawn chair into the shade of an elm and enjoy an hour to himself. The heat didn't bother him. I can't say the same. I look forward to fall. Today is again miserably hot and humid. I may have ordered a skein of autumn colored sock yarn to encourage the season. 

In the meantime, I cast on three projects. I bought a front-zip sweatshirt as a birthday gift for my great niece. A small family birthday party for a toddler was just what I needed last week. To spend time with young parents and their children gives me hope for the world. At any rate, the sweatshirt was the same size as the sweater I intend to knit for Norah. I measured it for chest circumference and then found the size/chest measurement in Ann Budd's Handy Book of Top-Down Raglans in the correct gauge. I cast on a more reasonable number stitches than my last attempt. I plan to use the pocket instructions from the Cricket pattern. 

While I was figuring out what to do with the yarn for Norah's sweater, I cast on a pair of socks in a pattern called Couplet. This was the second pattern I tried with this yarn.  I am pleased with this pattern/yarn combination.

I cast on a long scarf in the pattern Fractal Danger. The pattern by Hitchhiker designer Martina Behm, feels like a cousin to the Hitchhiker. The yarn, Rustic Fingering from Neighborhood Fiber Company, a non superwash single ply merino has a lovely hand. The owner of that company often gives a percentage of her sales to non-profits so I bought the yarn to support her business. Knitting and kindness are my weapons of choice. Although I might resort to tomatoes soon. I have sauced and frozen probably more than enough to get us through to next summer's harvest. 

I finished listening to Band of Sisters. Once I got past the snarky behavior of the women (it got old), I appreciated it as another untold story about women. I wish I'd found the author's note before I began. Reading forward, I am going to look for those notes before reading a book. Listening to the chapters about these young women evacuating French refugees from oncoming German forces with the news of Afghanistan in the background was very eery. 

I ordered a copy of The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. A number of years ago the Oxford Junior Dictionary eliminated forty words having to do with nature and replaced them with words like broadband, blog, and cut-and-paste. This author and artist responded by creating a beautiful book of poetry and art depicting words like acorn, bluebell, adder, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, newt, otter, willow, and more. Each word has three double-page spreads. The first uses the letters, line drawings, and negative space to announce the name of the poem, the second is the poem with a beautiful illustration on the adjoining page, and then the third is another gorgeous visual depiction of the word. This same author and illustrator created a second book, The Lost Spells. I look forward to sitting down with my grandchildren and looking at this book. Negative space intrigues me. The space around knitted stitches creates an eyelet or lace design. I also love the space around words and lines in poetry. The simplicity of the poems and artwork in this book is elegant. 

I'm late today because Blogger wouldn't let me insert photos but linking to Kat and the Unravelers. I think they will still have me.  Let's practice more kindness. 

Ravelry Links

Norah's Sweater

Couplet Socks

Fractal Danger




Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Oh Gauge

The row of zinnias in front of the tomato patch is in full bloom and makes me happy. The oregano is out of control and bolting all over. I'm torn between cutting the flowers off and leaving it for the bees. Next spring I'm going to thin that plant. I have oregano enough for an Italian restaurant. I am not complaining but the plant is leggy while the leaves are a little smaller than I'd like.  


If the oregano and tomatoes are bountiful, the knitting is a little sparse. Last Friday evening I was cruising down the body of Norah's sweater and knit an inch past the row for adding in waste yarn for the pockets. Mind you the pockets sit just above the bottom ribbing. Sunday, during daylight hours, I laid the sweater on the table to rip back. Off the needles, the body looked way too big for the toddler size 4, as in the chest circumference measured 31 inches. Sure enough my gauge was way off. I swear I did knit and wash a gauge swatch and thought I had the correct gauge. I went down one needle size which is typical but I can't knit this yarn on smaller needles. Even if I knit the 2 Toddler size (the smallest size) the sweater will be too big for Norah. I am considering my options to either rework the pattern via Math or find a different pattern. The color is off in the photo but at this point I'm not sure that matters. 


I did finish the fingerless mitts out of some Rios and handspun Cormo. I didn't use a pattern. The palm is a little large for me but they are certainly wearable. I'm knitting on the second slipper. 

Thank you for all your kind comments about our air conditioner. Fortunately it was an easy fix. The repair man arrived around 3:45 p.m. as promised. We needed two parts that he had in his truck. The unit also needed a good cleaning. My husband helped by hooking up the hose and nozzle and generally schmoozing him along. The man commented on the tomato patch so we tipped him with a few fresh tomatoes. By 5:30 p.m. the A/C was up and running and the house was blessedly cool by the time we went to bed. I feel as if someone was watching out for us that day. I had visions of waiting two weeks or so for a part or a new unit. I am grateful for air conditioning. 

I reread Red at the Bone as it is my book groups September discussion book. It was every bit as good the second time around. I predict a good discussion about class, race, and family dynamics. Jacqueline Woodson has won several awards for her writing so I plan to read about her prior to the discussion. I'm listening to Band of Sisters and find it an average historical novel. The narration is well done and the story keeps me company as I preserve tomatoes. 

Whatever is keeping you busy, enjoy these August days.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Dog Days of August

The Farmers Almanac notes the dog days of summer extend from July 3 through August 11. I beg to differ as they last longer in my area. Today's high is forecast for 95 degrees and the temperatures won't moderate until at least Sunday. Yesterday our air conditioner quit working. Thankfully the company that services our furnace and air is able to send someone out today. We are both anxious about the time it might take to get a new unit or parts. The air conditioner is ten years old so it has had a good run with lots of summer use. I am writing from the basement which for now is cooler than the main living areas. We are in for a hot week of making do with fans and ice water. I did put three bars of dark chocolate into the fridge. Ginger Ice Tea is steeping on the counter.

Today is the day I link with Kat and the Unravelers to write about knitting and reading. I am working on small projects. Norah's little sweater will wait until the air conditioner is fixed or replaced. I cast on a second slipper and a pair of fingerless mitts that combine some leftover Rios and handspun Cormo. I began spinning this fiber last September. The pile of small skeins records my progress. The last three skeins are the most consistently spun so I set them aside for a to-be-determined project. The last finished skein is a beauty. 

My next spinning adventure will be two braids of Polworth, mostly shades of blue but with some gold at the end of the braid. I separated the gold off of one braid and spun a little yesterday. With a chapter on color in Yarn-i-tec-ture by Jillian Moreno as a reference,  I'm going to play with the shades of blue. 

I continue to read Horizon and Villette. I'm enjoying them both for the excellent but different writing style and content. Lopez is so thoughtful and eloquent about the environment and indigenous people. From Hoopla, a library streaming service, I downloaded the audio of The Last Bookshop in London. This World War Two story is an average or below average novel for me. The passages about the bookshop and reading keep me listening. The rest of the story seems a little cliche'd. 

I'm off to reload my aluminum water bottle with iced ginger tea and decide what to do with the tomatoes on the counter. I planned to roast and freeze them but turning on the oven doesn't seems like a good idea. This batch may be blanched and frozen. I'm going to think of a steamy kitchen as an opportunity for a facial. Wish me luck. 

Ravelry Link

Fingerless Mitts

 

Monday, August 9, 2021

Seasoning These Days


August has never been my favorite month. Heat and humidity hang heavy in the air. I feel better when temperatures are cooler. When I was teaching, the beginning of a new school year while full of promise and a fresh start also meant the end of summer's more relaxed days. The first few weeks brought large group meetings under florescent lights and long hours in order to get off to a good start. Even though I am retired, August days bring a certain restlessness. This year Covid anxiety returns to hum in the background. When the media writes about the unvaccinated, they almost forget about the youngsters. I hope the vaccine is approved for children 12 and under soon. 

All of this and my 2021 word, season, prompts me to season these days instead of wishing them away. Here's my list of summer seasonings.

  • Gather sweet-peas, black-eyed susans into my favorite August bouquet
  • Slow simmer tomatoes into sauce
  • Spin slow yarn
  • Wander past the bright zinnas
  • Walk the flower route on my walk
  • Steep ginger tea in ice and boiling water. 
  • Catch the beads of condensation running down the glass of ginger tea
  • Refresh with the clink of ice in a glass 
  • Breathe in the warm humid air with scent of tomato, grass, and dirt
  • Watch dappled sunlight play in the birch
  • Marvel at the tree root shaped like bones of a hand.
  • Harvest the buzz of insects, the bonk of a fly against the window
  • Listen for the evening throb of cicadas and chirp of crickets
  • Savor the sunset as dusk falls across the neighborhood.

How are you seasoning these August Days?







Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Throwback Knitting

Goodness I am late to my computer this morning. This morning I walked later and longer, past several of my favorite flower beds. The calendar says August but there is a touch of fall in this morning's breeze. Thankfully the air quality has improved and most of the smoke has dissipated. Living near the western wildfires must be awful. This week I am watching a pair of young blue-jays hanging out in the near neighborhood. I haven't seen evidence of the virus plaguing song birds in some parts of the country. The birds typical in this area look healthy although last week I saw a few stressed by the extreme heat. Every evening of those hot days, I scrubbed the bird bath with a brush, rinsed it out, and refilled it with clean water. Otherwise I have kept it empty.

This week's Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends brings good knitting progress. I finished the shorty socks last week and unpinned the Spring Rewilding Shawl this morning. Blocking a lace pattern is as magical as turning the heel on a sock. When I bound off this shawl, I wondered if it was big enough. I blocked it with a moderate amount of tension and it came out great. I still need to weave in the last end floating in the breeze. I made some progress on Norah's little sweater and it is coming along nicely. 

Do you remember this slipper pattern? It is a throwback to my childhood as my Gram knit these for us. This project comes with a little story. I enjoy some knitting podcasts including Two Ewes Fiber Adventures. Kelly and Marsha live on the West Coast. They knit, spin, dabble in dyeing, and podcast. Kelly also weaves and keeps bees. When they attended Stitches West, the Duren Dyeworks owner gave them some bulky Targhee yarn to giveaway on their podcast. I enter giveaways only when I think I will use the product and don't often win. Well I won a skein and can report that Targhee yarn is quite soft and squishy. This slipper makes me smile because it reminds me of Gram and her knitting. Bulky yarn on size 9 needles doesn't take long but they will need pom-poms. Back in the day, Gram made her own pom-poms, mostly pink. (Between the last end of the shawl and the sock marks on my leg, I am doing my best to keep this blog realistic.)

Horizon is still on the end table for afternoon reading. I am listening to the Kopp Sisters on the March by Amy Stewart, a light humorous read. This is the latest in the mystery series based on Constance Kopp, a woman who was the first sheriff's deputy in NewYork in the early 1900's. While it is entertaining enough to past the time while cleaning, it isn't the strongest story in the series. At any rate Constance with her no nonsense forthright manner is easy to like and I love the camp nurse described in this story. I am also reading Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I have a copy with annotation for the French phrases and older vocabulary that is helpful. Both of these stories center around a young woman left alone to make her way in the world. Similarities in the way they are treated, Lucy Snowe in the mid 1800's and Belulah Binford in the early 1900's, are striking. Young women left penniless had few options and change was slow in coming. I picked up Villette because Emily Dickinson admired the writing of Emily Bronte and this novel was one mentioned in a recent commentary I read about Dickinson. Writers that writers admire interest me. 

Stay safe, stay well. Enjoy the glories of summer while we wait for Autumn days.   

Ravelry Links

Spring Rewilding Shawl

Norah's Cricket

Throwback Slippers

 


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

July Days

photo by daughter Kate

These last July days are hot and humid. Jonah's sunflower is in full bloom in Connecticut. The geranium blooms on my porch are a little sparse but tomatoes wait on my kitchen counter. Late last week I dug up several potato plants. Each one produced ten or so potatoes, including several large enough for baked potatoes. What I was thinking when I planted ten potato plants? Last week I made a potato salad. It tasted good but we can't eat baked potatoes and potato salad every week. I know they are supposed to keep in a cool dark basement but will they? Likely, I'll give some away. 

Tending the garden in the evenings means less knitting time but my projects are coming along - in fits and starts. This week for Kat's Unraveled Wednesday I have some unraveling to report. Somehow I lost a stitch when turning the heel of the second shorty sock. I couldn't find the errant stitch but my stitch count was off by one. The heel isn't a good place for a lost stitch so I ripped it out. It didn't take me long to re-knit. Besides turning the heel is my favorite part of sock knitting. Even if I have to do it twice, turning a heel feels so smart. Ha. The foot of a top-down sock goes quickly. This evening I'll finish the toe, she said with optimism.  

Some evenings I turn on a fan and work on this everlasting shawl. Near the end of the yarn I didn't have enough to knit a proportional garter stitch border with a picot bind-off. I modified the pattern so wasn't surprised the shawl looked a little off-kilter. Lord knows I don't need any extra off-kilter these days so Sunday I ripped out three sections. I knit the third eyelet section longer and am now onto the last garter stitch border and bind off. It's all knitting and eventually I'll finish the shawl. The Spring Rewilding Shawl might need another name, maybe Everlasting Shawl. I'm getting my money's worth out of this yarn. 

I am reading Horizon by Barry Lopez. In this memoir/nature writing, Lopez looks back at the places he traveled during his life. He reflects on six regions of the world: western Oregon, the Arctic, the Galapagos, the Kenyan desert, Botany Bay in Australia, and Antarctica. With the exception of the coast of Oregon, these are places I will likely not visit so I'm enjoying this tour. Lopez weaves the stories of the explorers and indigenous peoples, the effects of colonialism, and climate change with his remarkable life. I think I read that he finished this book with the knowledge that he was dying. His ideas challenge my perceptions and his writing is a gift. 

I hope you are staying well and finding ways to enjoy these hot days. I hope to finish my sock later today but first I have tomatoes to sauce. The kitchen will be a little steamy but tomato sauce in the winter means a little taste of summer.

Ravelry Links

Shorty Socks

Spring Rewilding Shawl




Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Mid-Summer

These summer days I walk about 8:00 a.m. to beat the heat. Warm dappled sunlight filters onto my shoulders as I listen to birdsong. Robins sing, cardinals call to their mates, and doves coo. Although I know the "phoebee phoebee" of the chickadee and the screech of the bluejay, I'd like to recognize more species by song. Recently sparrows returned to our yard. I am happy to see them as I read house finches are driving down the sparrow population. So it goes. 

With the temperate summer weather and rain, the tomatoes look great. Last night I picked the first few ripe tomatoes and dug red potatoes from under one plant. This may be the first time I've successfully grown potatoes. Potato salad is on this week's menu. The forecast is for hotter temperatures with no rain so I'll have to be diligent with watering. Summer is in full swing. 

Today for Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and friends, my knitting matches the book cover. I don't know why this please me. I am easily entertained. After a break from the shawl, I picked it up again. I've enjoyed knitting it but am ready to be finished. The little ball in the photo is the remaining yarn, so picot bind-off or not, I'm coming to the end. My carry around project is a pair of shortie socks from leftover yarns. Once I get half way down the foot, the toe calls my name. I brought it in from the car and finished the first sock. They are good for the spring or fall when I don't want to wear a full sized wool sock.  


Natalie Goldberg's recent book, Three Simple Lines: A Writer's Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku is the best kind of armchair traveling. She visited Japan to tour locations where the old masters, Basho, Buson, and Issa lived and wrote Haiku. Goldberg's writing may not be for everyone but I find it lyrical and peaceful. She practices Buddhism which is an interesting point of view for traveling. The jacket cover art is beautiful. I found this note at the bottom of the back jacket flap, "The jacket art illustration "Full moon and tree." Picture album of plum blossom, Kyoto, 1808. From a haiku book illustrated by Okada Baikan, a poet and Nanga artist." I am enjoying learning about the history of haiku and a little more about Japan.  

Are you learning about anything new this summer?

Ravelry Links

Spring Rewilding Shawl

Shortie Socks

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Still Spinning

Today is overcast and humid but the days were bright and beautiful this past week. Sunday we carried our dinner to the deck. Afterwards I stayed outdoors to ply a skein of yarn. If I had known my husband was taking a photo, I would have changed into a better shirt. My spindle spinning skills are improving. Although I'm still predrafting fiber, there is a good bit of consistent yarn in this skein. Sarah's positive comments about Polworth fiber prompted me to try it. I'm glad I did. The fiber and staple length make it good for beginners. It is a nice alternative to merino. This is the third skein and measures about 53 yards. I don't think I could get much more on my spindle. I have one small bump of this fiber to spin. 

I knit a little on the Rewilding Shawl and have come to the long and longer rows at the end of the shawl. I didn't take a photo because it's hard to see any visible difference. Hazel Knits no longer makes this yarn and I might know why. Lyric, a laceweight superwash merino, has a crisp hand that feels like cotton. Either the superwash processing or the dying created a yarn that feels lifeless. I'm reserving judgement until it's washed and blocked. The light weight fabric isn't awful but it isn't what I expected. The baby sweater flew off the needles. The combination of colorful yarn on comfortable needles and a tried and true pattern made the knitting fun and easy. The sleeves don't match but I think that adds to the charm. By the way, I won this game of yarn chicken. Whew.

I also knit on Norah's cardigan. I finished the textured yoke and put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn. Now I'm knitting on the stockinette body until I come to the cute little pockets. Today is a dark day so I had to adjust the light settings on the photo. 


I'm reading The Beadworkers, a collection of short stories by Beth Piatote. The stories are set in the Pacific Northwest and Piatote's characters are Native Americans. Her writing is spare but lyrical. Usually I am not a big short story fan as I want to know more about the characters and their story. However this is a wonderful collection. 

I am linking to Kat and the Unravelers on this Wednesday in July. I hope you are enjoying these summer days. 


Ravelry Links

Baby Sweater

Norah's Sweater

Spring Rewilding Shawl


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Early July Notes

Overnight a little rain fell. This morning the sky is gray and the air is heavy with humidity. The finches are at the feeder so I hope that means more rain. I am clipping oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, and chives. Fresh herbs are one of summer's pleasures. Last week I bought a new journal for gardening notes. When we moved into our current home in 1991, I started a garden journal. Somewhere along the way, I quit making notes and sketches but kept sticking in plant tags. Several years ago the tags exploded onto the kitchen desk and I threw the whole mess away. I wish I'd kept my early notes but in a fit of neatness I did not. A digital journal would be more efficient but I'm a paper/pen/pencil kind of gal. This time I'm determined to do better. Wish me luck. 

Wednesday is the day Kat and the Unravelers write about knitting and reading. How is it Wednesday again? The baby sweater is fun to knit. For the record, I'm going to win the game of yarn chicken. The color sequence in the sleeves will not match but with this yarn it doesn't matter - at least to me. A baby isn't going to care either. Man, these little sweater sleeves are a breeze. I knit the first one in an evening - almost instant gratification. I finished the fingerless mitts. If I made them again, I'd add a stitch or two to the thumbs. The pattern calls for Aran weight yarn and I used DK so that is the difference. They fit me, snug thumbs and all, and match this cowl. 

Every now and then I enjoy a deep dive into a writer and her work. The more I learn about Emily Dickinson the more I understand her poems and admire her work. I reread I Never Came to You in White by Judith Farr. Farr imagines the life of Dickinson in letters written by people who knew her. I read it when it first came out and it made little sense to me. Now having read more about Dickinson, I found it very intriguing. The letter format is appropriate as Dickinson was a prolific letter writer. Indeed her letters were collected and published in Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters that I have also read. 

Jonah, my FaceTime reading buddy, asked for Frosty The Snowman. Then we had a conversation about the snowmen he built last winter. A child's mind and delight is wonderful. 

This is more than enough writing from me. Click on over to Kat and the other Unravelers (link above) for reading and knitting inspiration. 

Ravelry Links

Leaf Mitts

Baby Sweater

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Summer Season

Sweet June days come to an end as bright flowers, firebums*, high humidity, weeds, and early morning walks arrive. This morning I walked what I call the flower route to take my mind off the weeds and the humidity. A few neighbors maintain a naturally wild look with coneflowers, daisies, day lilies, and untrimmed lawns. Some yards are meticulously landscaped with a profusion of annual flowers and while most fall somewhere in between. I confess I have mixed feelings about perfectly manicured lawns with numerous annuals. They are beautiful but I worry about the amount of water needed to maintain them. Then I come home to the pots of geraniums on my porch and water them. My vegetable garden and herb bed couldn't survive without watering. Life is a puzzle sometimes. 


I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers to write about knitting and reading. Thank you Kat for hosting this link. One project is never enough so I cast on two smaller projects from partial skeins. About a year ago, I knit a cowl from the royal blue yarn and never knit matching mitts from the remaining yarn. I had the hand of one mitt finished before I created a project page. 



I cast on a tried and true baby sweater from partial skeins of Pixel yarn by Berroco because it is always good to have a baby sweater to give or donate. Ravelry tells me this is the fifth project with this pattern. This go around will involve a game of yarn chicken. Berroco doesn't sell this colorway any more which is too bad because it is my favorite. If I run out of yarn I could buy another colorway and stripe it into the sweater. Isn't it always the way? In an attempt to use partial skeins, I need to buy another that will make another leftover. This is one way to never run out of yarn scraps.




Saturday I cast on a little cardigan for Norah. I'm using KnitPicks Swish DK, a great yarn for kids' knits as it washes well. I chose the pattern for the contrasting pockets. At the moment, she wants her clothing to have pockets. So I'll deliver pockets hoping they prompt this strong willed little gal to wear a sweater in the fall. Besides the pockets in a contrasting color are just cute. I love a girl with a mind of her own.

My sister suggested The Narrowboat Summer as a peaceful pandemic read and I am glad she did. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I'd like to spin some yarn in the same colors as the cover but spinning is a post for another day. In this book, three older women, previously unknown to each other, become friends as they face change and challenge in their lives. Two of them agree to pilot a narrowboat belonging to the third woman through canals in England. The story is driven by well written characters and a subtle plot. As a bonus, a secondary character is a knitter. It's obvious to me that Youngson is a knitter. This book makes me think about the seasons in the lives of the characters as well as my own life. Each season brings us a gift, some more welcome than others. This author also wrote Meet Me At the Museum that some of you have read.

As I leave you, I think of the line from a James Russell Lowell poem that my Mom used to repeat on beautiful June days, "What is so rare as a day in June?" The rest of the poem is flowery and old fashioned but that line is timeless. Happy Summer.

Ravelry Links

Leaf Mitts

Little Nugget #5

Norah's Cricket

*Seven years ago a grandson discovered fireflies - "Look their bums light up!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Hello Summer

Saturday evening we returned from a road trip to the Minnesota North Woods. The five hundred and fifty miles include a stretch along the Missouri River bluffs in far northeast Nebraska and then a north route through the Minnesota prairie into the lake country. The wildlife, including pelicans, swans, eagles, cranes, and a doe/fawn pair as well as the sky are beautiful. The darker color across the top of the photo is due to the color of the windshield. My husband prefers to drive so I watch for birds and knit. Once in Minnesota, I finished a pair the socks that also traveled to Connecticut. They need a bath before I pop them into the Christmas 2021 gift bag.

My sister and brother-in-law hosted us at their lake home. The weather with warm days and cool nights  was a nice escape from the 100 degree days in Nebraska. The company was even better. My sister and I knit on the screened in porch. My youngest brother and his daughter (Montana residents) joined us for kayaking, a jigsaw puzzle, meal prep in the kitchen, and sitting on the dock with our feet in the lake. On our last night, my other brother and one of his daughters drove in from Iowa. My sister, brothers, and I had not been together for at least two years and maybe three. We are the four J's, named in the 1950's: Jane, Julie, John, and James.  

Saturday morning, my sister scrambled eggs while I baked semmels, a traditional hard roll recipe or as my brother-in-law says, a vehicle for butter, jam, peanut butter, or cheese. We joined hands and sang the Johnny Appleseed Grace, a tradition from gathering with Mom and Dad and all of our young children. There were many good moments during those days but the sound of our voices around the breakfast table will carry me until I see and hug them again. Then we drove home. 

On Sunday, our son and grandson spent Father's Day with us. Austin will be a senior in high school this fall. They left early Monday morning for their Fort Worth home. As this summer begins our hearts are full and ever so grateful to be together again. 

Autumn 2020

Now to catch up with Kat and friends by linking to Unraveled Wednesday. Before leaving for Connecticut, I finished the Antler Mittens. I continue to work on this shawl,  playing with the pattern and adding the eyelet sections as I like. I need a new project or two. Hopefully this weekend I'll have a few quiet moments to pull something from stash. 

I read two books from my summer list. I finished The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende. I found it refreshingly direct. This nonfiction is a strong statement of Allende's opinions about feminism and women. She brings her wide ranging life experiences to this book. I listened to The Water Dancer by Ta-Neihisi Coates. This is a powerful beautifully written story about strong characters who show resilience and create family in spite of a brutal culture. It contains a touch of magical realism and a vocabulary that respects the dignity of people who were enslaved. I highly recommend this novel. Listening to the end of this book on the flight from NYC to Kansas City as the sun went down above cloud cover was a magical moment. 

Now we are home for the summer to tend the house, yard, and garden. Hello summer - hello you. 

Ravelry Links

Summer Latte Socks

Spring Rewilding Shawl

Father's Day 2021




 


Saturday, June 12, 2021

Real Hugs All Around


If you think I've been away from this spot, you are right. Fair warning: this post is a record of a joyful family visit. I knit a sock and a half while traveling but that can wait. You are welcome to come back later if family photos aren't for you.

We are home from a glorious week of ordinary days with our Connecticut family. Days filled with buttering toasted bagels for bright morning faces, sitting on the patio while grandchildren play in wading pools, playing board games, snitching potato chips out of a bag on the kitchen counter at lunch time, and reading bedtime stories. Time with the six of them was absolutely wonderful and precious. 

We were welcomed by hugs, handmade posters, and drawings that Jonah rolled up for the trip home. We cheered the three boys at T-ball, coach-pitch baseball, and kid-pitch baseball all on the same day. We raced so many Hot Wheels. 

Jonah had gardening gloves at the ready, his and mine. Kate and Jonah drove Pops to Home Depot so Jonah could show Pops the riding lawn mowers (he likes lawn mowers) and purchase herbs. Then at home, he hauled the soil, pots, and plants in his wheelbarrow. He and I planted them. We hugged often.

We dodged bikes and scooters as we walked the cemetery loop. At Emmet's request, there was a trip to the Dairy Queen with Blizzards all around. My daughter and I were shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen. Micah showed us his new karate belts. I gave him a big hug. 

Then the week was over. Weather delayed our flight and then the pilots timed out. We were fortunate to catch a later flight that same evening. My motto is if you get where you are going at the end of a traveling day, it's a good day. At 10:00 p.m. we were happy to be in our own car. I pulled up Broadway music and we sang ourselves home, arriving at 1:00 a.m. Our full hearts and poor voices kept us from getting sleepy. Not bad for a couple of oldsters. 

Norah, Emmett, Maddie (the dog), Micah, Jonah

Everyone on the plane, the airport, and airport shuttle was masked. The airline was no nonsense, announcing the possibility of criminal prosecution for anyone who didn't comply. Some restaurants at LaGuardia were checking temperatures before allowing customers in for dining. We welcomed the regulations meant to keep us as safe as possible. 

We are so grateful for the time together. I hope never to take these moments for granted again.  May your June days bring moments of joy with those you love. Did I mention the hugs?