Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Winter's Gifts

I write two days after a generous snowfall, generous as in 14.8 inches. Monday as snow fell I made a pot of chili and my German Grandmother's hard rolls called semmel. Yesterday I layered up and walked. The snow crunched underfoot. I passed a bush filled with sparrows chirping to each other. I stood under a long needled pine and looked up at green needles etched with snow. No snow fell on my face and I was almost sorry. One of the best gifts of a snow fall is the quiet that follows. Snow muffles the road noise from nearby busy streets. Everything slows down. 

Today snow sifts off the trees a little at a time. Two pair of cardinals came to the birch and the feeder. I love the subtle coloring of the females. The chickadees and downy woodpeckers have also been in the tree and at the feeder. 

We have had a fox in and out of our yard and neighborhood since Christmas Day. In the wee hours of Sunday morning, my husband saw him in the backyard. The next morning I went out and took a photograph of his tracks that I sent to a grandson currently fascinated with foxes. I also got out Tracks in the Wild, written and illustrated by Betsy Bowen. I purchased the book several years ago when we visited Bowen's Studio in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Now there is a place that knows about winter. 

I am linking today with Kat and the Unravelers to talk about knitting and reading. The body of the Forager Sweater is five inches long. On a cloudy day, it photographs as a purple blob. Wanting a smaller project, I cast on a pair of socks. I'm knitting my version of the vanilla latte sock. When winter temperatures drop, I often reach for socks knit from Classic Elite Alpaca Sox. I know alpaca with its tendency to grow seems like an odd choice but I have successfully used this wool/alpaca blend. I knit them in ribbed and/or cabled patterns and they hold their shape and are warm. Classic Elite is no longer in business. I saved the leftovers of three skeins for a pair of mix and match socks. I weighed a pair of finished socks in this yarn, 66 grams, and weighed all the leftovers, 87 grams. Theoretically I should have enough leftover yarn for a pair of socks. Theoretically. 

I continue to work on the embroidery sampler. I am having fun choosing colors and not worrying about perfection. 

My husband and I are enjoying an older book of poetry by Ted Kooser called Winter Morning Walks. When Kooser wrote these poems, he was recovering from cancer and was instructed to avoid sunlight for year. He had stopped writing but rose each day before sunrise and took a short walk in the dark. One morning he was able to write a short poem about the rural Nebraska countryside where he lives. Gradually he found his way back to writing and began sending the poems on postcards to fellow writer, Jim Harrison. The poems are titled by date only. I suspect marking the passing of each winter day helped him mark the slow return to better health. I convinced my husband to listen to a poem each evening after dinner because we were tired of pandemic and political conversations. The book is lovely. 

Have a good week. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021


What a beautiful day. The sky is bright blue with a few cumulus clouds gently moving across the sky. Here in Nebraska we will enjoy one more warm January day before snow and cold return. Yesterday was also beautiful. A refreshing breeze of hope blew as I walked. 

My knitting continues. I enjoy working on the Forager Sweater. Sunday I separated the sleeves from the body or is it the body from the sleeves? At any rate, I tried it on and I think it fits. I'm going to knit another inch and try it on again, just to make certain. Then it will be easy knitting around and around with an increase or two on the sides for A-line shaping. I haven't decided whether to add the shaping or not. I finished my own pair of mitts. I'm packing them away to wear in Connecticut. I haven't added a stitch to the throw. 


Your embroidery projects inspired me to find one of my own. I ordered a stamped sampler from Dropcloth Samplers. The riot of colors and stitches is a good contrast with January days. I am using DMC floss since I have quite a stash. I love the design and the quality of the fabric and stamped pattern is quite good but small in size. I wasn't sure I could embroider such closely spaced motifs and I wanted a little more fabric around the edge of the design. I copied the original on the copy machine and then enlarged it. I used a light table to trace the enlarged design on a larger piece of linen leftover from some long lost project. The tracing is quite faint so I have to be careful not to rub it off as I work. This could turn out to be a disaster but the project appealed to me. I'm giving it a try. Full disclosure: this sampler came with no instructions, no stitch guide other than the stamped fabric design, no chart for colors, or suggestions for the type of thread to use.

I read The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. The multiple narrators in different times were hard to follow in the audio version. Reading the hard copy solved that problem. I think this novel will make for a good book group discussion about race, class, and anti-Semitism. Blake wrote characters that are very human, complex, and messy. It might have benefited from more editing of details but overall it was worth reading. 

I look forward to reading more poetry by Amanda Gorman, the young poet who read at the Biden/Harris inauguration. What a voice and what hope. Dr. Jill Biden, with her degrees in education, suggested this young poet be part of the ceremony. A First Lady who is an educator is a reason for hope. 

Although I am a day late, I will link with Kat and the Unravelers. As we begin again, may hope fill your heart. 

Ravelry Links

Winter Forager Sweater

Mitts for the Grammy


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Work in Progress

Today is the last of several warm January days. Sunshine makes all the difference. Walking with the sun on my back encourages me to walk a longer route. So does pounding on the house. Currently a dedicated crew is putting new siding on our home. After thirty years and several hail storms, the siding needed to be replaced. The company selected a great week weather-wise and the materials arrived on time. Sometimes the stars align. I appreciate their work and will be even happier when it is finished. I don't think anyone will be going barefoot in our yard, deck, or patio for quite some time. The crew cleans up each evening but it is a construction site. I'm hoping the herb garden survives all the debris. 

Several knitting projects are also in progress. I am enjoying the construction of the purple sweater. This new-to-me method requires a little attention to knit the sleeve and body increases. The pattern is well written, specific, and easy to follow. Knitting the mock cables down the front, back, and sleeves keeps the project interesting. My row gauge is slightly off so I've added extra rest rows between increase rows. I hope this adds enough length to the armhole but won't know until I separate the sleeves from the body. So far so good. Math and sweater knitting are an adventure.  

I cast on mitts for myself. I am using the leftover yarn from the set I made for Norah and Kate. The yarn knits like butter and the leaf/ thumb gusset is fun to knit.  I'm knitting lots of wishes for traveling into these mitts. I hope to take them to Connecticut this year. 

I put a few rows on the scrappy Habitation Throw but haven't taken any new photos. I'm well supplied with fingering weight scraps and leftovers for this long term project. 

As usual, I am reading several books. The details of Winter World tie me to this winter season. I'd love to visit a Maine forest in the winter.  The Pull of the Stars is a thoroughly enjoyable work of fiction about a nurse/midwife working in the maternity/influenza ward of Dublin Hospital in 1918. This World War One story is about women and mothers. Pandemic details such as someone who doesn't want to wear a mask, the toll of influenza on women who live in poverty, and the fear of contagion on public transportation are eerily familiar. Published in July 2020, I wonder when the final proofs were read and edited. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I hope your works in progress are treating you well. 

Ravelery Links

Winter Forager Sweater    

Mitts for the Grammy

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Wednesday Notes

As I put away the Christmas decor, I decided I wasn't quite done with twinkle lights. I took down the big Charlie Brown tree and boxed it up for the trash. It had a good run but had come to its end. Then I put up our small artificial tree and decorated it with snowmen ornaments and German Stars. Why not? Sometimes January needs a few twinkle lights and maybe some mittens. They are welcome on today's gray day. 

Once I sent off the hats and mittens for the grands, I had time to finish two projects. The big finish is this poncho. I am really pleased with it. 
The cable on the side made the knitting interesting and the seed stitch border prevents the edges from rolling. 

I began the poncho in September and worked on it through December. This was my attempt to knit Biden and Harris into the White House while maintaining my own sanity. I was going to put off the final stitches until January 20 but so enjoyed the knitting that I finished knitting on December 24 and then blocked it. Some ravelers report pilling with this yarn but the drape is exactly right for a poncho. I have a gleaner if I need it. I also finished my last pair of socks for 2020. 

I admire scrap blankets but haven't knit one for a long time. I never expected to knit one from fingering weight yarns. Never say never. I pulled out scraps for a Habitation Throw for a Winter Solstice cast on. Every time I use a different color, the look of the throw changes. I have no rhyme or reason for changing colors but just play with the yarn. I often knit until I come to the end of some small ball of yarn. Good thing I don't mind weaving in ends. 

I also cast on a sweater. It is so dark today it is difficult to get a good photo. I'm trying to decide if I am knitting the right size. I like a slightly over-sized sweater but I don't want it falling off my shoulders. Years ago I knit a seamed sweater from the same yarn and still wear it. This pattern is a top down pullover so I wonder if the alpaca content will mean the sweater will grow a bit. Time will tell. Sweaters are a bit of a gamble. 

I finished Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and enjoyed it. I wondered if the voice of a pigeon would read like a gimmick but it did not. This novel is a good addition to World War One stories. I appreciated the viewpoint of the infantry and the men in the trenches. This is yet another book about the insanity of war. 

Here we go into this New Year, one day at a time. Stay well and safe. 

Ravelry Links

Poncho with a Cable

Ribbed Socks

Scrappy Habitation Throw

Winter Forager

P. S. The spacing between words is a bit off but I can't seem to change the format. I am not seeing Kat's usual Unraveled Wednesday post. If she posts later I will link. As always, it is her choice whether to post and sometime life needs to be tended. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

A New Season

Happy New Year! Earlier, the frosty foggy morning was an apt metaphor for the coming months. The distance was a bit hazy with the outlines of trees barely visible. Now the gray sky gives way to cloudless blue. Life changes. Hope is on the horizon. 

As is my custom, I choose a word to think about during the year. I like a word with multiple perspectives and uses. This year's word is Season. Nature is a good teacher and the rhythm of the seasons is comforting to me. So I begin with Winter, one of the four seasons marked by the equinox or solstice. Winter World by Bernd Heinrich has been on my bookshelf for quite a long time. Now is a good time to dust it off and see what this winter season has to teach me. Heinrich, a scientist and naturalist, illustrates his nature writing so his books are a treat. 

I also plan to explore the labyrinth of seasons in my life, adding some zest along the way. These are ideas for another day. For now I'm settling into this season of winter.

Below is the sun setting on my neighborhood on December 31, 2020. God's speed to all the souls whose lives came to end this year. And God's speed to those of us who endured and look with hope to 2021. Here's to a new season.