Thursday, December 30, 2021

To Everything There is a Season

Today, on this eve of New Year's Eve, the day is bright and quite cold. Snow, forecast for New Year's Day, would be a lovely beginning for the New Year. While autumn is my favorite season, winter is a close second. Earlier this week I thought I had little write. My knitting looked much the same but then I looked over my notes about Season, the word I chose last year at this time and decided to post some rambling thoughts. 

Season wound itself through 2021. Seasoning ordinary days during the pandemic wasn't much different than in the time before Covid. Gratitude and appreciation are the keys. I considered the seasons of the year as well as seasons in my life, including age, joy, friendships, and grief. This holiday season felt different. I unwrapped one day at a time and enjoyed a calmer quieter December. 

The four seasons continue to enrich ordinary days. When I read Winter World, I learned more about strategies animals and plants use to survive winter weather. In Wintering, Katherine May reflected on turning inward to care for one's self and others. Winter as a fallow resting time has always appealed to me. During the summer, I read about a season of unlikely friendship and aging in The Narrowboat Summer. Currently I'm reading an old book, Stillmeadow Sampler by Gladys Tabor structured around the four seasons. Tabor wrote several books of memoir/nature notes about life on her Connecticut farm. First published in 1950, this book is a glimpse of a different time and has been on my reading list for a number of years. Last September while visiting in Connecticut, my daughter found a library copy for me. There, in a few quiet moments, I read part of the Autumn section. Recently I ordered a used copy to own and reread at leisure. The four seasons are a paradox. The turning of the seasons with predictable changes in light, growth, temperature, wind direction, bird and animal behavior comfort me. Yet each season brings differences including the ever changing light at sunset. 

My knitting looks much the same but this red shawl is almost finished. I have enjoyed it immensely. I like knitting with a soft alpaca and the red, with a slight undertone of blue, is my favorite shade of red. Last week I wondered if I would finish by the end of the year but decided not to knit crazily to do so. Yesterday afternoon I put on a few rows while waiting for my sister and brother-in-law to arrive for dinner. By the way, we had a lovely time together. After they left, I finished the lace section. Eight rows of the garter stitch edging and the bind-off remain. I average four of these long rows each evening. We have no New Year's Eve plans except to watch a livestream of The Last Blast by The Plymouth Brass, a festive concert with a wide variety of music. We have attended these concerts in person but will not do so this year. The quality of music at First Plymouth is exceptional. The Abendmusik choir has toured internationally. 

This shawl has been my evening companion as I listened to The Madness of Crowds. The two are going to be forever entwined in my memory. I think this novel one of Penny's best. It captures the edgy times in which we live. 

A day late, I'll link with Kat and the Unravelers. Thanks to Kat for this marker in my week and a place to write about knitting and books with others who enjoy the same. 

Onward we go toward 2022.  "To everything there is a season . . ."

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Christmas Week

The morning sun streams in as I take photos of my knitting and sit here writing. Later I will take a walk. We are enjoying a quiet week. I am happy to be home baking cookies. Half of my holiday cards are waiting to be written. I am taking my time because I enjoy writing a brief personal note. The remaining recipients will receive Happy New Year wishes. My view is that real mail is welcome whenever it arrives. 

I will link this post with Unraveled Wednesday hosted by Kat. The Red Wool Peddler's Shawl is back on the needles and last night I finished knitting all the previously unraveled yarn. That always feels like a win to me. I hope to write a few notes on my project page about the mental gymnastics required to knit the pattern. The red alpaca is cheerful and warm in my lap. 

I also sorted out my spinning and finished the gold sections from two braids of Polworth fiber. As Kat once mentioned, some fiber has a definite preference for the direction it wants to be spun. I also fell into a habit common for beginners. I did too much pre-drafting making a very thin single that kept breaking. Here's hoping this third skein isn't too different in thickness from the previous two. If it is, I'll save it for something else. Spinning singles to ply into yarn to be knit into a project does feel like magic. 

Jonah and Norah are enjoying Wake Up Bear, It's Christmas. This book was a favorite of my two children so it is fun to share again. When I opened Christmas on the Great Plains, I found the bookmark. Years ago, my kids cut an uneven strip of white construction paper. Then one of them out a circle from a chocolate coin wrapper and stapled it to the top of the bookmark - twice.  When you are nine or ten, two staples is always better than one. The makers must have carefully washed and dried the wrapper because there are no grease marks on the underside of the paper. Then they carefully drew red and green crayon lines down the length of the strip. It makes me smile. 

I am reading The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny. This latest Three Pines story begins between Christmas and New Years and so is a nice coincidence. I find it refreshing that two male characters, Armand Gamache and his son-in-law, both in leadership positions, admit they are wrong and apologize. Penny's writing about the tangle of beliefs, opinion, freedom of speech is timely and well done.  

However you choose to mark this season, I hope it is filled with love and light. 

Ravelry Links

Red Wool Peddlers Shawl

Prairie Shawl

Polworth Handspun

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Windy Wednesday

Yesterday just after sunset Lance and I walked in the neighborhood. The temperature was a balmy 53 degrees and seeing lights from the sidewalk was fun. I understand the appeal of a walking tour in a city or countryside. Today the forecast is for very high winds culminating in an afternoon thunderstorm. The wind forecast is such that the schools closed today. When I stepped out to pick up the newspaper, the sun was shining, the air was warm, and a little humid. This is very odd weather for December in Nebraska. Every now and again we have thunder-snow and I wonder if that won't happen today. 

As usual this Wednesday, I link with Kat and the Unravelers. I completed the garter stitch body and knit sixteen lace rows of the red Wool Peddlers Shawl. Alas, the lace rows need to be unraveled and reknit. The pattern was published in Folk Shawls in 2000. I think it came before the time of so many shawl patterns on Ravelry. The lace chart is oddly written, leaving off the edge stitches and maybe part of the center increase although none of that is clear from the written instructions. According to Ravelry notes, some knitters thought it easier to follow the written directions so that is what I did. The trouble with that is it makes me a blind follower. I'd rather work from a chart/visual design. I plan to lay the shawl on a table and rip back. I also need to compare the chart and written directions. All this is best done during daylight hours. In addition, I changed the method for the center increase and added an extra stitch to each side edge. Ten years ago I knit this pattern with the same modifications so surely I can do it again. It's all knitting. Right?

In the meantime, I knit another section on the Anker's Cardigan. Although the yoke is ribbing on small needles, it is pleasant knitting. After finishing the yoke, I will put it on waste yarn and check the fit. Then it is on to the stockinette knitting with more audiobook listening. 

I am reading The Paper Palace and wonder about the hype it has received. Maybe the novel is more of a summer read. Since it is a book group selection I plan to finish. Moments of Being is a good way to learn about Virginia Woolf's time and place. The piece, "A Sketch of the Past," is a window into her early years, including her parents' personalities. Now and then she writes a sentence or two about her writing.  Jonah and I read Red and Lulu, a story of a pair of cardinals and an evergreen chosen as the Christmas tree for Rockefeller Center. Since he has been to Rockefeller Center, it is a fun story for him. When we came to the illustration of the long truck hauling the tree, he remarked, "oh dear, they are on I-95." 

The clouds are blowing across sky and the wind is rising on this warm December day. If you are in the vicinity, put rocks in your pockets and hang onto your hat. 

Ravelry Links

Anker's Cardigan

Red Wool Peddler's Shawl

Handmade German Stars.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Sunshine and Coffee

The sun shines and the air is cold. This morning I took time off from December for a massage. The owners of Bella are meticulous with Covid protocols so I feel safe. I enjoyed every minute and had a hard time getting up from the table covered in a heated mattress pad. What a luxury. I came home and made deaf coffee with a splash of warm oat milk and dash of cinnamon. Anyway, here I am, linking with Kat and the other Unravelers

I finished the scrappy Christmas Quilt and placed it over the bannister. I love the four embroidered squares. It is nice to have this three year project off my sewing table. I also finished sewing a little apron for Norah as part of her Christmas gift. I chose Minnie Mouse fabric and bubble-gum pink bias tape trim using this free pattern. If you come home with two packages of Double Fold bias tape (instead of one double and one single) it doesn't take much time at all. Honestly, the applied bias tape looks fine in person. The photo reflects the shadows and makes it look wrinkly. I included a pink frosting spreader, pink sprinkles, and Minnie Mouse cupcake papers with the apron. Norah loves Minnie Mouse and she stands at the counter on a step-stool while her Mom cooks. I did not include any Minnie Mouse cookie cutters to prevent constant requests for cut-out cookies. We would like to be invited back.  

Last week I flitted between knitting projects. Organizing and wrapping Christmas packages for my children and grandchildren must have required most of my focus. At least that is my excuse. I put a few rows on my sweater, cast on some mitts that seemed fiddly and not the right color before I landed on this garter stitch shawl. Years ago I bought red yarn to make the Wool Peddler's Shawl, a pattern in the book Folk Shawls. The sample in the book was red and I wanted to make one. I frogged the project last Spring but tried again this month. It's going well and the garter stitch body is what I need just now. 

I set aside the Prairie Shawl until I spin up the remaining gold fiber. I'd like to know how much yardage I actually have and the spindle and I are out of sync. I need a quiet hour or two and some practice fiber to recover my tenuous muscle memory of spinning. I don't have a lot of gold fiber and I don't want to ruin what remains. So I set the fiber, the spindle, and the shawl aside for another day. 

I am reading The Paper Palace, the January selection for my local book group. I'm just into it so don't have an opinion yet. I'm also reading Moments of Being, a posthumous publication of memoir writing by Virginia Woolf. It is interesting to read her reflections about her parents and siblings. The way her mind worked fascinates me. For me, Woolf is reading for the daylight hours. I'm reading myself to sleep with some Christmas stories. I need a little sugar now and then.   

I hope you find some unexpected treats in these December days. 

Ravelry Link

Red Wool Peddler's Shawl

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Unwrapping the Days

This week the days were unseasonably warm. While walking in a light jacket is lovely, I feel like I have one foot in Thanksgiving and another in the winter holidays. Holiday decorating with the windows and door open seems strange so I haven't done much. Instead I savor the late autumn days. When it comes to decorating, I prefer a few favorites while my husband loves all the things. Holiday decor is a compromise at our house. 

As a birthday gift in honor of my 70th birthday, my son and daughter, gave me an Advent Yarn Set. I have never had one. The dyer of this set is Irish and lives in Kent. She shipped Advent sets the first of November. As supply chain issues appeared in the news, I wondered if the yarn would arrive by December. Since it was a wonderful gift I decided not to worry about the timing. If it was in a shipping container floating in a harbor, so be it. I'd enjoy it whenever it arrived. When it miraculously arrived on November 30, I knew the knitting and postal gods had smiled on me. I opened the package but waited until December 1 to unwrap the first mini skein. 

The yarn looks like aran or heavier but that is photographer error.
Each day I open a skein and a little envelope with a tiny surprise, stitch markers to date. I plan to take my time with this yarn. Eventually I'll wind one skein to get a better feel for the yarn. It is a wooly wool in neutral colors and DK weight. The feel of the yarn reminds me of Juliann's November posts about wool. The possibilities are endless. Who needs sugarplums dancing in your head when you are a knitter with new yarn? The ball bands are a record of the sequence arranged by the dyer but I am enough of a planner that I want to see all of colors before I decide on how to use the yarn. 

The basket with this project is the first decor of the holiday. Who knows, maybe I'll tie a festive bow on the handle. I plan to get out the decorations soon but first I have a package to open. Each package of yarn is an invitation to thoughtfully unwrap another day of this season.