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.