Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Christmas in August

Another week in August with hot weather and only a spit of rain. Late Sunday afternoon, a front blew through and the temperature dropped into the 80's bringing a couple of nice summer days. Today we are back to hotter temperatures.  

My knitting hasn't seen much progress this week but I have exciting news. I bought a spinning wheel!

Once I thought I'd never spin fiber into yarn. I thought I didn't need another hobby with another set of supplies. However I admired the handspun yarn made by KatSarah, and Eileen and followed spinning conversations in podcasts. Then the Covid Pandemic kept us close to home. One day when I couldn't plan trips to see my kids, I searched the internet for how-to videos on spindle spinning. I ordered a turkish spindle and BFL fiber from Webs and made some very clunky yarn that looked like rope. I ordered a book about spindle spinning. I discovered fine craftsmanship in handmade spindles. 

I enjoyed spinning singles but struggled with plying. Spindle plying has more than one drawback, not the least is that it takes an extraordinary amount of time to prep the singles. Keeping them from tangling while plying is hard. When you set a spindle in motion and release it, it gradually slows so spinning yarn with consistent twist is another challenge.  

I started reading about spinning wheels but wondered if I was too old to invest in a wheel. I'm seventy years old and realistically how much time do I left? Then my daughter quietly suggested, "I'd say your time is valuable."  She is very wise. Well yes, I am seventy and that is exactly why I should not be spending hours winding plying balls. (I can rationalize with the best.) I have always held that my time is valuable so I'm not sure why I didn't apply that to spinning. My shoulder joint is also worth preserving.

This spring and summer I took two lessons, read about wheels, and tried wheels by several different makers. Two weeks ago, my husband and I drove to Lawrence, Kansas and The Yarn Barn. I was in that shop during my graduate school days (1976 - 1977) in KU so it was rather fitting to return. They carry all kinds of wheels and willingly spent a good amount of time with me. I settled on a Lendstrom Double Treadle Wheel. We bought it late in the afternoon.  She's a beauty. 

I spun one batch of fiber on the wheel and threw it away. I know they say to keep it as a record but I have my first wheel spun yarn from earlier in the summer. Sunday I started on a commercial braid I bought in Lawrence. I'm working on the first bobbin and it's going well. I still enjoy spinning a single with a spindle but the ease of a wheel is wonderful.

I wanted to share my news, so even though this isn't my usual post, I'm linking with Kat and crew. As far as reading, we listened to the abridged version of Hamilton by Ron Chernow both on the Minnesota road trip and the much shorter drive to Lawrence. I rarely choose an abridged version but this one was thirteen hours instead of thirty. It was enough time to get the gist of Chernow's biography. It's interesting to me, that today's political issues are similar to  those during Hamilton's life. Perhaps the biggest difference is the men in power aren't settling grudges with duels. The biography is well researched and reflects a traditional historical view of the time of Hamilton's life. 

Take care. Keep cool and enjoy the making and reading. In case you need a reminder, your time is valuable.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Hello August

August is a month of mixed feelings. The garden produce is reaching the crescendo I look forward to all winter but I don't like the extreme heat. Regardless, I canned two batches of pickles. Tomatoes now crowd the kitchen counter. Honestly, there is nothing like the flavor of a vine ripened tomato. Last week, I roasted and froze two batches of Juliet tomatoes, a variety that may be a cross between small grape and Roma varieties. Fresh and sliced, they make a good topping on a pizza and a tomato tart. Yesterday I froze the first batch of tomato sauce. Thank goodness for air conditioning. This morning's predicted rain went around us. The birds are fairly quiet this morning although bluejays visited the deck earlier this morning. I imagine they are conserving energy in this heat. 

Today is the mid-week gathering of Kat and the Unravelers where we share our knitting/making and a little of ourselves. I am making good progress on the Forager sweater. Over the weekend, I washed and blocked the sweater to check the length. Last night, I finished the ribbing and tried it on. It fits. I am slightly concerned about running out of yarn so I plan to bind off the body and knit the neckband. I have one small ball attached to the sweater plus three remaining skeins. After the neckband is finished, I'll divide the yarn and knit the sleeves. Three quarter length sleeves would be acceptable but longer would be better. Wish me luck on this low key game of yarn chicken. I have a contrast color I was going to work into the ribbing but the yarn released a lot of dye when washed. I used a mild dish detergent instead of wool wash as an indie dyer once told me that wool washes encourage bleeding. I have a few skeins of Quince and Co. yarn left in stash but I'm not ordering any more. This is a different base of Chickadee then I so enjoyed previously. If the change was advertised or discussed on their blog or website, I missed it. Your experience may differ from mine. 

I knit a little on this shawl while the sweater dried. When I last posted, the shawl had some stripes. I knit a little further, striping in the soft blue with the plum because I'd come to the end of the mauve color. The stripes weren't to my liking so I ripped them out and am going to knit the colors in blocks. As EZ wrote, "you are the boss of your knitting." The pattern calls for stripes but I have different yarn amounts so will knit it as colorblocks. 

The two little gray "turtles" of Romeldale/Suri Alpaca are ready for plying later today after a bone density scan and a mammogram. Maintenance, it's a pain in the tush, but important and necessary. I'm thankful I have access to the screenings and that I can get them done in one trip. 

I just finished listening to The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After and continue to think about Wamariya. She came of age under very difficult circumstances. One of her beliefs is that instead of the giving and taking aid, sharing would be a better paradigm. I wonder how reciprocity in help-giving relationships could be more widely implemented. I am almost finished with Ackerman's Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden. Ackerman's curiosity and knowledge about the science of gardening and plants is amazing. It's no surprise the book is organized by season. I have read a number of books organized this way and am beginning to think of them as a genre. I also ordered a used copy of Hand Spinning Techniques by Pam Austin and enjoying her viewpoint. As with knitting or perhaps any craft, there are as many nuances to spinning as there are spinners. Austin encourages spinners to try long draw spinning. She also used the phrase, "the gentle rhythms of spinning," which I love. 

The little stalk of white sweet peas at the back of this bouquet are volunteering in my strip of perennial flowers. They are a nice surprise this summer.

I hope you are enjoying the week. Happy Making and Reading. 

Ravelry Links

Forager Sweater 

Cosmic Girl Shawl

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Summer Delights

A welcome rain fell last night. Today the sun shines on a humid day. As I walked my morning route, a gentleman told me he had a half-inch in his rain gauge. Sometimes I think I should walk somewhere else but then I would miss brief exchanges with familiar faces. We don't know each other's names but we wish each other good mornings and exchange a few words or just wave and smile. Eighteen months ago, one home experienced a fire that caused extensive damage. Last week one of the owners, a woman, was on the sidewalk after collecting her mail. I told her we'd been watching the progress of repairs and were glad they were back in their home. We chatted a few minutes about the rose bushes that line her sidewalk. These simple social courtesies make the world feel a little more civilized. 

This last Wednesday in July, I join Kat and the Unravelers to post about making and reading. These days I have more projects on the needles than usual. The little baby sweater is finished and sent on its way. I rarely knit newborn size but this one is bigger than I expected. Luckily, babies grow before we know it. It will fit eventually. The adult sweater I'm knitting needs four more inches of stockinette before I begin the ribbing. Last night I turned the heel on this first sock. Blue Lagoon is the name of the colorway, a delightful idea on a summer day. 

I cast on a shawl in my favorite shape. I had two half skeins and one partial skein left from a set I bought and used for another shawl project. Of course I didn't have enough for another shawl so I ordered a skein to go with the leftovers. This often happens. In an attempt to use leftover yarn, I buy more to go with it. It's no wonder the stash bins never empty. Do any of you do the same thing?

I am listening to the memoir, The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Well. The book is well written and the audio narrator does a good job. The story of a young girl and her sister as refugees during the Rwandan massacre and eventual immigration to the United States is not a feel good rags-to-riches story. Instead it's a hard story about the hell of war, the value of small kindnesses, and the strength of human spirit. Chapters alternate between Wamariya's time in Africa and what happens to her after arrival in Chicago. It's also the story of how one young woman makes sense of her experiences. The book would be eye-opening for anyone helping refugees arriving in a first-world country. It's worth reading.  

I am reading Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of my Garden by Diane Ackerman. I ordered a used copy and the cover jacket is very pretty. Ackerman writes nonfiction well, exploring ideas in depth. This is a book for the senses with beautiful descriptions of plants, trees, and critters. Written in 2001, some ideas seem a bit dated environmentally but it's a pleasant summer read. I've just begun. Kym wrote a post about her library, including her bookmark collection. In that spirit, I photographed the bookmark I'm using in this book. Given to me long ago by a good friend, the bookmark reads: "Fine friends, good books, hot chocolate . . . When one has these, one has a rich life."

My garden isn't nearly as spectacular as Ackerman's but last night I picked a little bouquet that delights me. The bread and butter pickles, made from our garden cucumbers, also delight me - or they will in the months to come. 

What delights are you finding this week?

Ravelry Links

Baby Sweater

Summer Socks

Cosmic Girl Shawl


Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Home Again

I did not write a post last week as we were with family in Minnesota. Each summer my sister and brother-in-law invite us to visit at their lake home in the northwoods. My brother and niece who live in Montana joined us. We enjoyed being together and enjoyed the area. My sister and I spent happy hours knitting and chatting on the screened in porch. I helped her make a batch of peach jam. We worked a jigsaw puzzle with my niece who is college bound this fall. A couple of afternoons I sat on the dock while my niece paddle-boarded or kayaked. We each experienced a few bittersweet moments as we remembered other visits with John, the brother who passed away last September. 

One afternoon my husband and I went into town. He browsed the big hardware store and read while I went to the Serenity Now Yarn and Alpaca Shop. The owner of the store and her husband also own an alpaca farm. The shop sells commercial yarn as well as fiber and yarn from their animals. They also sell spinning wheels. I had arranged to take a lesson on spinning. Esther spent two hours with me. I spun and plied this little ball of beginner yarn. The cream colored fiber is cormo and the soft brown is the owner's alpaca. She sells Kromski Spinning Wheels so I tried a Kromski Fantasia and a Kromski Sonata Wheel. One thing different from the lesson I took in March was time spent spinning with already spun yarn to get the feel of yarn/fiber going through my fingers and on to the wheel. Esther was very kind and patient. I throughly enjoyed the lesson and came away thinking I could eventually master spinning on a wheel. The spinning adventure continues. 

Today (and other Wednesdays) Kat greets her readers as "gentle unravelers." I love her greeting. The world benefits from gentle makers. At any rate, I am happy to be back, writing in this space. I didn't take many photos or read blogs while I was away. I'm slowly catching up and finding it takes me longer to rest from traveling than it used to. Oh - age. 

At any rate, our trip to Minnesota made for good knitting time. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't knit away the miles. I almost finished the baby sweater in Minnesota. I did knit the last few rows of the second sleeve after I got home. Somehow my count on the decorative stitches was off and after knitting those rows three times, I decided to sort that out at home. Now the sweater needs a spa treatment, ends woven in, and buttons but it will be ready before the intended recipient arrives in August. On the ride home, 525 miles, I worked on a new pair of socks.  

While away I read Garlic, Mint, and Sweet Basil by Jean-Claude Izzo, a little book of essays that I purchased at the Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, Kansas. We usually stop there on our Texas trips. This independent bookstore is a gem and I sometimes purchase a book I wouldn't find at Barnes and Noble. In this book, Izzo wrote about the cities around the Mediterranean Sea. The three very short pieces that make up the title were the best. I found his opinion that the cities around all sides of the Mediterranean should be viewed as one community and not separated into European, African, Middle East locations interesting. He wrote a little about the commonalities between the cities. Some of the book was a bit esoteric and not to my liking. The book was also translated from French which also changes a reading experience. 

I hope your making and reading is treating you well. I look forward to catching up with this blog community. 

Ravelry Links

Baby Sweater

Summer Socks

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Tomato Growing Weather

Hot humid days and evenings arrive early this July. Evening temperatures stay in the mid-80's. My Granddad used to call hot days with very warm nights "tomato growing weather." Indeed my tomato patch is thriving. This is good because the basil is waiting. When we leave town, a neighbor and I trade watering chores. I also knit baby sweaters for her grandchildren. It's a fair trade and she tends a large garden so is knowledgeable about watering. I also use drip hoses which makes watering easier and more efficient. 

Today is Unraveled Wednesday with Kat and company. I'm not sure how I came to be knitting two sweaters in the summer but here they are on my knitting needles. As the news unravels, I am glad I can knit. I am working away at a bin of very nice stash yarn. I bought the yarn for this sweater in the early days of the Pandemic. Remember those days? They feel like forever ago and just yesterday. Over the weekend, I put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and knit another inch of the body. Then I tried it on for the moment of truth. Lo and behold the sweater fits so if I don't get too warm with a sweater in my lap, I have lots of round and round knitting ahead. I made this pattern a year ago in a different yarn and will have two completely different sweaters. 

I cast on a baby sweater for the soon-to-be granddaughter of my neighbor. I had yarn leftover from a cardigan I knit for Norah so I'm using it for this pattern. I have knit this little sweater in both fingering and sport weight. Since this is DK yarn, I'm knitting the newborn size knowing it will be bigger and hopefully fit the baby by the time she needs a sweater. She will be born in Minnesota so a heavier cozy sweater makes sense to me. 

I read a book leftover from our trip, The Lost Apothecary. The title was on the March 2022 Indie Next List. The story features three women from two different times, each at a crossroads in her life. I found the novel to be slightly below average. Some of the plot twists were unrealistic and read like a melodrama. My summer reading feels odd this year. The craziness of the world effects what I want to read, not too heavy but not too fluffy either. I have a stack of library holds that aren't yet available to me so maybe I'll read some tried and true authors. 

As we step into July, may your making keep you good company and your garden thrive.

Ravelry Links


Yoked Baby Sweater

It's a jungle out there - but a good one.


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Travel Knitting and Reading

Where shall I begin this post? Late last Thursday, we returned from a wonderful week with my daughter and family. We celebrated the week with as much fun, laughter, and love as was possible. Our four active grandchildren shared their joy with us. After all the violence in the world, I just needed to put my arms around all of them. Mission accomplished - over and over. We attended baseball and T-ball games, cheered the three youngest in a one mile race, went to church, walked to and from school, threw beach balls to children bouncing on the trampoline, baked brownies, read stories, admired stuffed animals, and attended Emmett's Sailing On Ceremony. I know it's a cliche but its hard to believe he is off to middle school in the fall.  

As a belated Mother's Day gift, my daughter and I spent an afternoon in New York City. As unabashed women from Nebraska, we took selfies all afternoon. Why not be a tourist? The highlight of the afternoon was seeing Hamilton. The performance was excellent. How do those performers, perform the same roles over and over?  The time with Kate was wonderful. I told her we were tucking the spirit of my Mom in our pockets. Mom loved live performance and made the most of offerings in our area. Once or twice, I heard her wish she could attend a production in NYC but never did so. We arrived in the city a little early and walked a circuitous route to the theatre. My step-count was up the entire week in Connecticut. 

I have a bit of knitting so I will link with Kat and the Unravelers. My travel knitting, mostly done on the plane, was a pair of Vanilla Latte Socks out of Fibernymph Dye Works yarn. As you can imagine, the last thing I thought about was knitting identical stripes. In fact, I'm not sure it would be possible with Lisa's Pi colorways. Somewhere over the middle of the country, I knit a heel flap and turned a heel. The colorway is a little wild but socks are a good place for crazy color. This is the first time I've knit with Fibernymph yarn and I like the hand and the soft sturdy socks. The second sock needs a toe which I hope to finish this evening. As I reenter my usual routine, the socks are good knitting and will remind me of this trip. I like to spend a day or two after I come home recalling and savoring the days away. 

While away, I finished the book, 
Bird Cottage by Eva Meijer. I was disappointed in this novel based on the story of Len Howard, a British woman who was unconventional for her time. In fairness, the novel is translated from the Dutch, but, in my opinion, the story could have been much more richly imagined. The book was a description of the events of her life, as in this happened and then this and then this . . . and on to the end. Fiction leaves room for supposing what Howard was thinking as she went through her life. It wasn't the best nature story but I did finish it. I'm currently reading a Ruth Galloway mystery, The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths. Ruth and the cast of characters feel like old friends. This week I need something predictable and this book came up in my library holds. 

Where did the June days go? Be well and safe. 


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Slow and Steady

Summer has arrived a little ahead of the calendar. The temperatures this week are sizzling, as in 100 degrees. I wonder how this early heat will affect tomato plants as they set on fruit. I walked quite early this morning and the wind was already blowing a gale. Perhaps it will blow up some rain. I've noticed summer is a season for spinning. Maybe that's because one can work with fiber without having it in your lap. I don't have a spinning wheel but maybe treadling a wheel creates air flow or is that wishful thinking on my part? 

At any rate, I spin a little most days. This week I finished making yarn from a braid of Heathered BFL from Greenwood Fiberworks. The heathered part of the BFL takes dye in a way that left a gray streak in the purple and blue fiber. If I had not seen someone else's photo of their spinning with heathered BFL, I would not have tried it. The fiber from this company is predrafted and not compacted when it arrives. I found it easy to spin. 

I spun singles on two spindles. After the singles rested, I wound them onto a Turkish Spindle for plying. Turkish Spindles come apart leaving little yarn "turtles." I use flower pots to keep the turtles from tangling and then spin a two ply yarn onto a spindle. There are disadvantages to plying this way. The singles are not taunt and sometimes pigtail back on each other. The other "physics" principle is that spin of a spindle naturally slows down so twist going into the yarn varies. At least I think that is what happens. However this method is better, in my opinion, then winding singles into a plying ball. I find making plying balls extremely tedious. It is also easy to have less tension in one single than the other requiring cutting them and realigning in a new skein. Then I end up with even more short skeins. 

Anyway, I have approximately 400 yards of this yarn. I knit a little swatch and got an average gauge of 5 stitches to inch on size five needles. It looks like my default sport weight handspun. 

So now I'm thinking of the possibilities for knitting it into a project. Likely I'll combine the handspun with some commercial yarn. The colors of the swatch look darker in the photo but they would go nicely with gray. 

I have a busy week ahead so I am posting early. Stay cool out there. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Hello June

June is my favorite warm weather month. Generally the days are warm but not oppressively hot and humid. The garden green promises sun-ripened tomatoes and fresh cucumbers. Herb and flower beds are mostly free of weeds and insect pests. Long evenings of light are a balm for our weary souls. This week we ate several evening meals on the deck and caught sight of a yellow swallowtail butterfly on the flowers of the Japanese Lilac Tree. 

After last night's thunderstorms, this morning is cool and bright. I walked in a long sleeved tee with sun warming my back. Basil in pots thrives. Most of the transplanted strawberry plants are surviving the rabbits and squirrels. I replanted the cucumber hill. The front yard with the patch of winter-kill and over grown bushes needs attention but that is why I tend the yard and garden. It needs tending and the changes get me out of my rut. Well - sort of. I am a creature of habit.

I do enjoy the Wednesday routine of writing a post and linking with Kat and the Unravelers. This week I knit some fingerless mitts from leftover self-striping sock yarn. The cable was fun and kept the knitting interesting. Color-wise, the mitts aren't an exact match but fairly close. I played yarn chicken with this project and was happy to have enough to finish the thumbs. Knitting up leftovers is so satisfying. Do you feel that way or do you give away and/or toss the leftovers? 

When I toss the stash in January, I create the "up next" bin and put it on top for easy access. Sometimes I knit from that bin and sometimes I don't. Right now, the contents appeal to me so I cast on another Forager Sweater. This is the only sweater yarn I have in stash and I'm happy to knit with it. Time and knitting will tell if the yarn/pattern combination works well together. 

I read The Ghost Orchard: The Hidden History of the Apple in North America by Helen  Humphreys. I found this little work of nonfiction more cohesive than The River. I also learned a great deal about apple varieties and orchards. I had never considered that Native Americans tended apple orchards. Humphreys counters the Johnny Appleseed story with one about a woman named Ann Jessup. She also wrote about Robert Frost's orchard as well as watercolorists who were part of the USDA's effort to disseminate information about apples to prospective growers. Plates of the watercolors are included in this book. They are beautiful. My library didn't have this book so I found a nice used copy online. I am also reading The Painted Drum. Interestingly, Erdrich writes about an apple orchard in the novel. 

As I finish this post, a wee (young) chickadee hangs upside down in the birch. House finches feed youngsters at the feeder. The little ones with tufts of down remind me of typical toddlers. They make me smile. I hope you are enjoying these rare June days. 

Ravelry Links



Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Happy Graduations

Good morning. The sky is partly cloudy and the air is cool for the first of June. As sunshine comes from behind the clouds, I think of my Mom. When she noticed a patch of blue in a cloudy sky, she stopped what she was doing to say, "oh look, there's a little bit of blue sky." She found such joy in life. She would have loved this past weekend when our family celebrated two public high school graduations. My niece graduated with honors in Montana and our grandson graduated in Texas. I wish I could have been at both graduations. My sister and husband drove to Montana to celebrate with my brother and his daughter. My husband and I met our daughter in Texas to celebrate with our son and his family. We are so proud of both graduates. 

Our warm Texas weekend was full of family, joy, and hope. Austin is college bound with an academic and athletic scholarship. When the doors of the arena opened to five hundred and twenty five diverse graduates smiling from ear to ear, I was moved to tears. Pomp and Circumstance does that to me but this year felt particularly poignant. I felt a mixture of joy and sadness. The school years of these young people were not marred by senseless gun violence. All children deserve to be safe at school and in their communities. 

At any rate, there is nothing like a long road trip with audiobooks for finishing a pair of socks. I do not recommend the pattern I used. It is a free revised pattern but contains several errors. I also knit two dish cloths and am almost to the end of the dishcloth yarn. Here's a word to the wise knitter: a skein of KnitPicks Dishie has almost double the yardage as Sugar and Cream. By the time I knit up the 4 skeins I bought for potholders (and only crocheted two), I'm going to have extra dish cloths for gifts. 

Before we left town, I listened to The Henna Artist, a novel my local group is discussing soon. The reader was great. The descriptions of Indian cuisine, fabric, and Hindu customs were lush with sensory detail. The characters were very human. I could predict some plot turns but the armchair travel to India made a great audio book for me. 

Since I end with knitting and reading, I'll link with Kat and the Unravelers. May this new month of June bring warm sunny gentle days. 

Ravelry Link

Valentine Socks

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Gray Skies

Rain falls from a gray sky this morning. Earlier I took a walk in a light mist. A lovely much-needed soaking rain fell all day yesterday and will continue today. After some quite warm days, the temperature fell to the fifties. Sunday to Monday the overnight low was 36 degrees. I dragged the basil pots from the patio into our walkout basement and pulled the petunias close to the house to shelter on our small front porch. Yesterday I wrapped up in a shawl and knit on a charity project.  

My knitting is not terribly inspired this week. I knit a few more rows on the second sock of a pair. Sunday I pulled a skein from the "up-next" stash bin. I love the soft blush pink of this locally dyed yarn. I thought about casting on a hitchhiker but decided on a lace sampler scarf. I knit one several years ago in a deep teal and have worn it often. I'll follow the same recipe but vary the lace patterns. 

Sunday was a beautiful day. Before working in the yard and garden, I read for an hour or so on the deck. This little guy kept me company. He didn't know enough to be afraid of me. My current daytime read is The House of Life: Rachel Carson at Work. The author, Paul Brooks combined information about Carson's methods of writing and research with excerpts from her books. Brooks served as editor for a number of her books. The excerpts are long enough to give the reader a sense of her prose. I read one about a shore in the Artic and was struck by the way she conveys the interconnectedness of life along and in the sea. This wouldn't be a book for everyone but I am enjoying it. I ordered an inexpensive used copy as it was first published in 1972 and reissued in 1989. The book was cost one dollar but the shipping was more.

I also read a used copy of The River by Helen Humphreys. In The Lost Garden, a novel by Humphreys, the main character wrote several letters to Virginia Woolf. As I read The River, I wondered if Humphreys was influenced by Woolf's style of writing. The book meanders (as the river) between history, physical description of the area, and short pieces of fiction. It is beautifully illustrated with photography, a few old photographs, and art work. Once I noticed the change in background color that denoted the short fiction I found it easier to follow.  

I am off to write a note to my Congressional representatives to request gun regulation. It isn't much but it is what I can do. I'll leave you with this message from my slightly askew kitchen.  

Ravelry Link

Lace Scarf

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Gardening and Knitting Notes

Last Saturday my husband and I planted the tomatoes and cucumbers. A generous neighbor was thinning her prolific strawberry bed and offered plants to me. I now have a raised bed planted with starter strawberry plants. I need to cover it to keep out the rabbits and squirrels. I potted petunias and coleus for the front porch. I am a thrifty gardener. I would rather spend my hobby money on yarn, fiber, and good coffee so I stick to basics in the yard. The old-fashioned smaller variety of lavender iris are blooming. They aren't as showy but they have a wonderful fragrance. Iris always remind me of one of my Grandmothers - Gram. She had lots of pretty flowers, including irises, in her yard and was happy for my sister and I to pick bouquets any time. This yellow iris is just beginning to bloom. According to Wikipedia, Iris takes its name from a Greek word meaning rainbow. Iris is also the name for the Greek goddess of the rainbow. As Iris come in a rainbow of colors, the name seems fitting. 

This campanula, next to the chives, is a happy accident. Six or seven years ago, I bought a small pot to use as a centerpiece on a serving table. I stuck it in a corner of my herb garden and it grew and thrived. This year it is so pretty. I stick plastic forks around new plants to keep the critters out. It deters them some but didn't stop someone from getting into the parsley. 

Since I finished the shawl and sweater, I'm enjoying some smaller projects. I knit another slip-stitch dish cloth from Sarah's pattern and am now working on one using the waffle stitch that Kym mentioned. I knit this hat because I wanted to improve my colorwork knitting. It's a nice pattern. When I was a girl, Gram taught me to knit. She taught me the knit and purl stitch and to cast on and bind off. Otherwise I picked up techniques, including colorwork, from books, magazines, and most recently from the internet. My method of catching floats never worked well. Last year I found this 
tutorial on Modern Daily Knitting that was so helpful. Sometimes I get so stuck in my way of doing things that I forget to look for a better way. In this hat pattern, there were only two rows where I needed to catch a float but it was a nice little project. I really enjoyed working with the Juniper Moon Farm Moonshine yarn. I don't know that I'd knit a sweater with it but mittens would be quite warm and soft. 

Finally, look at this basil. Last year, the basil in pots produced well. I hope it does as well in this location again. Here's to the hope that comes with Spring.

Ravelry Links

Laurus Hat

Wash/Dish Cloths


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Colors of May

Warm hot days have arrived this week. The trees are the brilliant shade of Spring chartreuse-like green. Soon they will deepen into summer's green but for now the color looks so fresh. The ninety degree temperatures feel warm. In two days, I went from walking while wearing a light jacket, cowl, and fingerless mitts to T-shirts and shorts. During May, I hang an oriole feeder with half of an orange in the back yard. Yesterday two pairs of Baltimore Orioles vied for spots on the feeder. They are so brilliantly colored and fun to watch.

Our son came to attend a funeral and is working remotely from our home. He came to support a good friend but it has been grand to have him around. On Mother's Day we made dinner together, a veggie lasagna, salad, and his "killer garlic bread." We had the nicest kind of Mother's Day. 

As we barrel toward summer, I link with Kat and the Unravelers. The best knitting news is I finished the Prairie Shawl. We took photos yesterday morning in 84 degree weather. Except for a few strands of leftover cream and the swath of the deepest blue, the yarn is handspun. The Polworth is warm so I won't be wearing it until Fall. I used the shaping and some stitch patterns from a commercial pattern calling for fingering weight yarn but this yarn was slightly heavier. The shawl is a generous size and may not be perfect but I was able to incorporate much of this spinning project. I like it.

Although my wool sock wearing season has ended, anytime is a good time to knit socks. I finished a speckled sock and cast on the second one.  I also knit a little on the Guernsey Scarf.  This advent set was a birthday gift last year. I'm enjoying the knitting and adding colors in the order in which the dyer numbered them. The DK wool is wooly and warm so this project may rest over the summer months. 

I'm in a reading lull. It's time to make my summer reading list. I recently ordered two used books by Helen Humphreys. I am waiting for a few holds from the library so I picked up an older book by Terry Tempest Williams. An Unspoken Hunger: Stories From the Field was published in 1994. This collection of essays weaves together William's personal experiences with her passion for the natural world. For me, her writing stands the test of time and is worth rereading. 

I hope May is treating you to some bright colors. 

Ravelry Links

Prairie Shawl 

Speckled Socks 

Guernsey Scarf 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Unraveled Wednesday

Hello May. Sunday was a beautiful Spring day with sunshine, a breeze, and blooming lilacs. As I walk, I enjoy the tulips, wild violets, and the green fringe on all trees. Some trees have leafed out, some are in process.The Linden in our backyard sports buds beginning to unfurl. Friday a thunderstorm blew through and Monday gentle rain fell all day. We had almost an inch of rain. The rain was much needed as wildfires were burning out in central Nebraska.  

My husband has recovered from a mild case of Covid. I tested negative. We completed a ten day quarantine with only minor inconvenience. Vaccines and boosters did their job even though the latest variant is sneaky. I'm thankful for the making that helped pass the time. 

Today I'm easing back into my routine by linking with Kat and the Unravelers. I hoped I'd have this shawl finished but continue to experiment with color placement. A cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie helped me on my way. Doesn't everything go better with a chocolate chip cookie? The stitch marker is a dropped stitch. I plan to finagle and secure it on the wrong side after the shawl is finished. I wasn't sure I could drop down and work my way back across the eyelet section and didn't want to rip out that many rows. 

I continue spindle spinning two braids of fiber. I spin singles from one braid and while they rest I spin singles from another. I plied 90 yards of this raspberry BFL on Sunday. When I began to read about spinning, I heard about classes for spinners who wanted to spin something beside their "default" weight of yarn. I recall thinking that I'd be happy just to have a default kind of yarn. Well I have arrived at a fairly consistent default - two-ply yarn at sport/dk weight. 

As far as reading, I listened to The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although some of the story takes place in Cyprus in the 1970's, there is a lesson for any kind of civil conflict including those of our own time. I enjoyed the Fig Tree as a character and didn't see the ending coming until almost the end. The audio voices were excellent. 

I read Field Study: Meditations on a Year at the Herbarium by Helen Humphreys. Although this nonfiction may not be for everyone, I loved it. Humphreys wrote about a year (2020) she spent visiting Fowler Herbarium located at the biological research station of Queen's University in Ontario. I enjoyed the look into citizen collectors. This elegant little book is organized around the seasons and illustrated with photographs and labels of plants as well as a few drawings by Humphreys. I appreciated Humphreys' looking for and writing about the few women and Native Americans she encountered in her work. As the news goes from bad to worse, this book was just what I needed.

Spring, although cool, has arrived here. The double lilacs are blooming and so is the bleeding heart. I watch a robin sitting on a nest amid blossoms on the neighbor's apple tree. The tree and the nest are visible from my kitchen window. I hope you find just the book, project, or flower you need this week. Thanks for reading.  



Friday, April 29, 2022

April Poetry

I read poetry all year long. My custom is to publish one of my poems in honor of Poetry Month. This year I am posting a story about sea glass.  

When my daughter and family moved to Connecticut, I became intrigued with sea glass and brought a few pieces home with me. Then I read about sea glass as well as the history of the manufacture and uses of glass. I began to wonder why more women weren't included in the history and stories about sea glass. Last year, on the morning of my birthday, my daughter ran on the beach and came upon a few pieces of sea glass. She sent some of them to me. 

Many strands come together in a poem: ideas, sounds and rhythm in words, metaphor, and story. I love poetry for the economy of carefully selected words that tell a story. Somewhere in a book or article about writing poetry, I read that asking a question in a poem wasn't the best practice. So, not to be deterred by one opinion, I set out to do so. The poem below is part of a small collection I call, "Voice."

Season of Sea Glass * 

White egret fishes in the marsh,

stands among spirits rocked by the sea.

Sea glass pounded by waves, 

washes up on the shore.

Who held this piece molded

from sand, soda, and lime? 

This shard tossed in the tide  

for days and years, years and days.

Who dispensed medicine, dipped feather

in dark ink, placed rose in the slender neck?

Shard of her story, tumbled 

by waves, reduced to one triangle.

A voice worn to the softest

color of an opaque soul.

* Copyright, Jane A. Wolfe, 2021 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Simply a Moment: 4/22/22

Simply a Moment: 4:22 p.m. on 4/22/22

The herb garden is waking up. The chives thrive and the oregano peeps through last year's detritus of stems and leaves.   

The lilacs have buds but the wind makes them hard to photograph. The gale and the warm temperatures feel like storm-brewing weather. Maybe rain will fall later. I hope so.

To celebrate Earth Day, I cast on Sarah's Dish Cloth from leftover yarn. 

Happy Earth Day.