Wednesday, February 24, 2021

February's Season

January's winter is new and wonderful. This week the beginning of winter's end tries my patience. As my grandson Jonah, another winter lover, says, "I like snowmen but I miss Spring." Below are my thoughts about "season" this month.

The predictable seasonal cycle teaches about constant change. Each winter varies in arrival and departure, temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, and wind. One winter sky is not like another. The new moon on a cold January night brings deep darkness and quiet.  Some winter sunsets are brilliant with orange and purple and others are soft and gray. The light of a yellowy sun behind cloud cover reminds me of the color of my Grandmother Catherine's hair. She was born at home on January 11, 1893. I imagine her mother wrapped her in layers in their uninsulated farmhouse. 

Snow is enchanting. For a time, it hushes the world. 

Winter is about watching - chickadees, a flock of cardinals, tracks of a fox following a rabbit in the snow.  This winter is also about waiting for the Covid-19 vaccine. Patience is required.

Winter has a prominent place in many written works. Each interpretation is a gift. In Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, falling snow marked the new beginnings of the main character. When my daughter was little, she liked a picture book called Strawberry Shortcake and the Winter That Would Not End. Snow and ice were forces of evil to be defeated. I can't remember the storyline for sure but I suspect it was a version of the Demeter and Persephone myth. She also loved the way her Dad read the sing-song verse in Happy Winter. In The Bear and the Nightingale, a fantasy by Katherine Arden, the Russian forest in winter is almost another character. While some characters are afraid of winter and the forest, the young protagonist, Vasalisa, is not afraid of either. Wintering by Katherine May is a wonderful reimagining of winter as a time of rest and self-care. 

As the February light begins to change, the sky is a brighter shade of blue. The days grow ever longer. Sunday morning a heavy wet snow sounded like rain on the roof. Wet snows of late winter bring a hint of Spring. 

Wishing you thawing days, blue skies, and a vaccine in the coming days.

Icicles from two weeks ago, now melted and gone.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Spinning Snow

Good Wednesday to all. I am writing from the rocking chair instead of my desk. The sun warms my back. This week our community experienced power outages due to the prolonged extreme cold. Sometime yesterday morning the temperature was - 31 degrees and that doesn't account for any windchill. We turned down the thermostat and unplugged nonessential items. Our Texas kids are hauling water to flush toilets and dealing with rolling power outages. They are fine and relatively cheerful, if cold. Thank goodness warmer weather is on the way. Slowly the temperature is nudging upwards and currently we are at 12 degrees. Here is to the weekend forecast of 30 plus degrees above zero and an outdoor walk. 

As this is Wednesday, I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers to share my fiber work and reading. Thank you Kat for the link. 

Yesterday I made some very sweet yarn. I plied the Cormo singles, skeined up this bit of yarn, and washed it. Honestly the fiber is so soft, I felt like I was spinning snow. Instead I made yarn. I write this twice because spinning yarn is magic. While winding the plying ball, one single snapped. I cut out a length of very fine yarn and started again which resulted in two smaller skeins. These skeins match another I made last summer. Setting a spindle in motion is just the loveliest moment in a winter day. 

I've enjoyed knitting this sweater but am ready to be finished. I don't think I've ever knit a sweater without re-knitting some rows and this one in no exception. Forager calls for a Latvian Braid just above the ribbing on the body and the sleeves. Tension in my stranded knitting is never even and I don't want tightness around the ribbing so I omitted the braid and knit the ribbing in one size bigger needle than suggested. It was too loose. Turns out designers suggest needle sizes for a reason. ;-) Isabell Kraemer writes a great pattern. While knitting the first sleeve, I decided to try a purl row at the top of the ribbing to imitate the braid and used a smaller sized needle for the ribbing. I liked the look so I ripped out the ribbing on the body, added a purl row, and reknit the ribbing in the correct needle size. Hopefully this is the only re-knitting required. Perhaps I should knock on wood or at least click my needles together three times. 

In between, I finished the scrappy socks. They aren't beautiful but they are toasty because of the alpaca content in the yarn. 

I read 
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamal. This is a bittersweet story of love misunderstood, lost, and found. Most of the main characters are Iranian, some immigrants to America and some not. The descriptions of Persian food are mouth-watering and the women characters are well written. Once again characters' lives are swept along by political events although this is not the focus of the story. The ending was a bit tidy but it was a sweet love story. I enjoyed it. 

Stay warm and safe. May your knitting and reading treat you well.  

Ravelry Links

Winter Forager

Theoretical Socks


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Sweater Weather

For the first time since the year of the 2009 Christmas blizzard, the snow in the front yard is deeper than my boot tops. Filling the feeders is an adventure in bundling up to the eyeballs. Still we fill them. A breath of winter air is refreshing and the birds need fuel to keep warm on these bitterly cold days. Wool is essential. This is sweater weather and cowl weather and shawl weather and sock weather and hat weather. My woolens rarely match. Sometimes they coordinate but always they are warm. My sister sent me a darling colorwork hat for Valentine's Day. It is beautiful, warm, and blue. I wore it to the feeders yesterday and then I baked oatmeal cookies with chopped pistachios, dried apricots, and white chocolate.  

Wednesday is the day to link with Kat's Unraveled Wednesday. This week I wish I was wearing this sweater but am enjoying it on my lap as I knit. I finished the body and am working on the first sleeve. The sock that wanted to do a yoga pose is sorted out and ready for watching and knitting time. I put a few more rows on the scrap blanket. Sarah described and linked to a video of the clasped weft join that I am now using on the blanket. I recall hearing about that join in the past but never took the time to learn how to do it. Wow, what a useful join for scrappy projects. Like any other technique, I wouldn't use it on all projects but it sure is nice to weave in those ends as I knit. Sometimes life really is in the details. 

I picked up the cormo spinning project again. These two spindles have as much weight as they (or I) can spin without incurring all kinds of wobbling. The singles will rest for a week or so and then I'll ply them together into another small skein of yarn. I am pleased that I didn't lose the muscle memory of spinning in the months I've been away from it. 

Little Norah has discovered we can read together on FaceTime so she is my new reading buddy. Reading from our well worn copy of Goodnight Moon is so sweet. 

In my own reading, I finished The Vanishing Half. It was an excellent novel of layered themes. I think it would make a great book group book. I'm reading the rich prose of Wintering by Katherine May. I'm tempted to skip ahead and read the section on February. Who says I have to read a book in a strictly linear way? 

Vaccination clinics for those over 75 are being held in our community on Friday and Saturday. The over 80 group and those in assisted living facilities have been vaccinated. Slowly slowly, like light returning, progress is being made. Patience I tell myself. 

Stay warm and safe. I wish you a happy heart this week. 

Ravelry Links

Winter Forager

Scrappy Habitation Throw

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Knitting into Eagle Pose

Today the Nebraska sky is bright blue. Yesterday winter treated us to magical hoarfrost that lasted until early afternoon. Frost dusted my shoulders as I walked. This morning the cardinals flash against the bright sky. A blue jay suns himself at the tiptop of a tall locust tree while a little downy woodpecker inches her way up the birch. I will be taking a long walk today because tomorrow winter means business. Snow will be followed by bitter cold. 

A few days ago, I was knitting along on the scrappy theoretical socks (appropriately named by Bonny in last week's comments) while I previewed a yoga video. I am participating in Yoga with Adriene's 30 day Breath journey. Since I have been away from in-person classes for several years and have a history of shoulder and back injury, I modify some of the work. Occasionally, based on information in the email with the download, I preview parts of a session. 

At any rate, I thought I could finish a few rows of a heel flap, turn a heel, and pick up gusset stitches while previewing a session. Mind you, I have knit this variation of the Vanilla Latte sock umpteen times. I have knit it in an airport, on a plane, in a medical waiting room, in a coffee shop, while chatting with other women in person, and attending church on Zoom. About halfway through the heel flap, I dropped a stitch. While turning the heel, I dropped a second stitch. I noticed neither of them while fast forwarding and restarting the video. The heel looked to be centered on the needles so instead of counting the stitches or inspecting my work, I kept knitting. I picked up one side of the gusset, knit the instep, and then picked up stitches for the second gusset. Just when I had all the stitches on the needles and was rearranging them to knit the gusset decreases, I noticed a missing column of stitches. 

I shifted stitches around (on circs) in order to ladder the heel turn stitch back up into place. At that point I somehow twisted a row of stitches between needles and wrapped the cables around each other. Don't ask me how it happened because I couldn't tell you. I should have taken another photo but I thought if I put down the sock to find my phone, it might spring into a worse mess. In hindsight, that isn't likely but I wasn't taking any chances. Then I noticed the missing heel flap stitch and burst out laughing. My husband walked by and asked what was so funny. When I told him, my knitting was in eagle pose, he shook his head. I think this was a moment only a knitter could appreciate. At that point, I turned off the video, pulled the sock off both needles and frogged back to the errant row of the heel flap. I sorted out stitches and needles and reknit the heel. The theoretical sock is safely back on the needles with a proper heel. I am fairly certain I have enough yarn for a pair of socks. If the sock engages in down dog pose, I might be in for a game of yarn chicken. 

I am chugging down the body of my Winter Forager. It goes much better with yoga and is warm knitting on a winter evening. I like the color of the yarn but the deep purple doesn't photograph accurately. 

I listened to Helen MacDonald read Vesper Flights, a collection of essays about the natural world. The author read her own work and I enjoyed hearing her voice. The essays are intriguing. Some of her metaphors and reflections are different than mine but I like being nudged toward a different perspective. 

Currently I am listening to The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet. The narrator is excellent and the story is well told. Sometimes during the day, I think about the characters which for me is a mark of good fiction. The novel is a thought provoking comment on racism and the choices forced and influenced by racial injustice. 

As I link with Kat and the Unravelers, I wish you all warmth and wellness. May your knitting needles and stitches avoid yoga poses. 

Ravelry Links

Theoretical Socks

Winter Forager