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