Thursday, February 24, 2022

Progress Markers

A few flurries fall on this cold morning. Temperatures are in the single digits and wind-chill makes them even lower. Tuesday I made some lentil soup and hard rolls. It is a soup week. Today I have Ginger Tea in my mug in order to stay warm. 

I finished the pillow case for my living room pillow. I didn't have enough of any one of the fabrics to make a continuous strip of binding with mitered corners so I used leftover strips. I prefer mitered corners but this is fine in our living room. The fabrics were leftover from prints purchased years ago. I like making do with what's on hand.

Knitting keeps me warm and sane these days. I am posting a picture of my sweater mostly to remind myself I am making progress. This sweater of fingering weight on size 2 needles is meditation knitting but even meditation knitting requires a visual of progress. I clipped on a progress keeper and move it every Sunday night. This strategy keeps me from feeling I've entered the black hole of knitting where no progress is being made. I still enjoy the knitting and this sweater will remind me of the gift of yarn from my sister and also (fingers crossed) of spring. Between March 17 and 21, the landscape begins to green just a little. It's a seasonal progress marker on the horizon. 

When I had a few odd moments and wouldn't be able to finish a knit and purl row on the sweater, I put a few rows on a cowl. I prefer not to leave a back and forth stockinette project at the end of a knitted row. Stopping in that place often leaves a line showing in my knitting. I suppose it blocks out but I prefer not to leave that to chance. 

I just finished listening to A Tale of Two Cities via old CraftLit podcasts and found it well done. I don't listen to all of the books available on this podcast and I missed this was one from early in the podcast. Heather Ordover with her background as an English teacher, does an excellent job of annotating books in the public domain and making them interesting. The scenes in A Tale of Two Cities relating to mob behavior and the portrayal of vengeance as opposed to justice are a cautionary tale for our time.  

I am reading All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family's Keepsake The research that the author put into this book is fascinating. Tiya Myles, a history professor at Harvard, is a skilled writer and storyteller. Recently she published an essay for the New York Times titled, "When Everyone About You is Talking about the End, Talk about Black History." The essay is about this book and the resilience of Black Americans. I am enjoying the historical connections to textiles, women's history, and the history of slavery. I appreciate Myles' thoroughness in distinguishing between facts and opinions as well as her ability to look at more than one explanation for a behavior or fact. This is excellent nonfiction. 

I am late in linking to the Unraveled Wednesday Party but I will link just the same.  I enjoy reading about others' making and reading. 

March is around the corner and with that the end of winter. Progress indeed. 


Wednesday, February 16, 2022


The quality of the light changes in February. Even though we have another month of dry brown winter, the days are longer and the sun sets in a slightly different place on the horizon. Yesterday while walking in a jacket, I saw a large flock of robins eating some dried ornamental berries from a tree. A few robins winter here but that was a mighty big flock. I take is as a sign of Spring.

My grandchildren in Connecticut are recovering from Covid and for that we are very thankful. The three boys were vaccinated so two were asymptomatic and one had a mild case. However little Norah, too young for the vaccine, was very sick with croup related to Covid. With good medical care and vigilant parents, she is recovering well. It's a miracle that my daughter and son-in-law didn't get sick as well. The moral of the story is the vaccine works and everyone eligible should get one. 

I am linking with Kat and other Unravelers today. My thanks to Kat for providing the link-up. Stopping to consider the week and update my projects on Ravelry is a good mid-week marker. My making was a little scattered as I worried about my family but I made some progress on several projects. I finished quilting the square that will become a pillow top. I need to dig out instructions for the easy edging I put on the old one and find fabric for the back. 

I knit back to fresh yarn on the infamous sweater. I am thinking of the stockinette knitting as a meditation. I did know what I was signing up for when I cast on the project. One stitch at a time, one day at a time, and all is well.

Instead of knitting on the other knitting projects, I have been spinning. I continue to work on the blue gradient of Polworth and have nearly finished the second spindle of this medium shade. 

While one set of singles rests before plying, I spin on another project. Last summer I participated in the Two Ewes Fiber Adventures Podcast summer spin-in and won some fiber from Sincere Sheep.  I am spinning it on a turkish spindle. I want to try plying directly from the "turtles" made by spinning with this type of spindle. The fiber, 80% Romeldale and 20% Suri Alpaca is soft, springy, and lovely to spin. The label tells me the wool came from a sheep named "Sweet Pea" who lives in Idaho. The alpaca comes from an animal living in Morro Bay, California. It is fun to spin and think of "Sweet Pea" grazing in Idaho. 

While waiting for library holds to come in, I reread The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys. The novel is set in England during World War Two. The main character, a single woman in her mid-thirties, leaves London to supervise a small group of Land Girls. At her post, she finds among other things a tangled lost garden and sets about to restore it. She also searches for the story behind the garden. As the young women absorb losses of the war and ponder the unknown future, I found some parallels to living in a pandemic. Reading this bittersweet story about gardening in February was lovely. References to Virginia Woolf and To The Lighthouse were a bonus. The first time I read the book, I knew little of Woolf so in some ways it felt like a new story. I'm sure my seventy years are showing with this comment. Although the end wraps everything up a little too quickly, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

I hope warmth and light is returning to your neck of the woods.  Happy mid-February. 


Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Cardigan: The Second Verse

Today's blue sky with clouds blowing along is gorgeous. I wish I had a photo of the sky I watched while driving home from a haircut. Dare I say, the sky and temperatures feel like March. Right now I'm having what my working colleagues used to call a latte lunch, a decaf latte and a chocolate croissant. Every now and then I throw good nutrition to the wind. I'll eat stir-fry broccoli and carrots with roasted chickpeas for dinner. 

This midweek I link to Kat and the band of Unravelers. Soon I hope to have the privilege of separating the sleeves from the body of the Anker's cardigan a second time. The moral of this post is that the quiet voice is my head asking, "Are you sure this sweater will fit?" is worth heeding. Why does this happen over and over? As you may recall, I tried on the cardigan after knitting a few rows after the sleeve separation. I got my arms through the armholes and the sweater around my chest but at the time there wasn't much sweater body. Several evenings I thought, I should put this on waste yarn and see if it fits. One night I did so but tried it on over pajamas. The armhole stretched a little out of shape but I dismissed the fit based on the pajamas. Any rational knitter would have left the stitches on the waste yarn until the next morning and tried it on with a shirt and bra that would be worn under the sweater. Apparently my knitting rationale is gone by 9:30 p.m. 

Finally last weekend, I decided it was ridiculous to keep knitting and hope the sweater fit without knowing for sure. When I tried it on over street clothing, I knew I'd be happier with about 3/4 or 1 inch more ease. So I ripped out four inches of body and put the sweater back on the needle. The yarn held up well to frogging and reknitting. In my defense, I have a tendency to knit a raglan line a little too long. The last sweater I made has too much ease under the arm. Anyway, I like the yarn so I'll be knitting this into spring and wearing it next fall and winter. I am just getting my money's worth out of the yarn. 

I knit a little on the prairie shawl without unraveling any stitches. I also pieced a quilt block that will become a pillow top. A long time ago I made a pillow to use behind my back while I sit in my knitting corner of the loveseat. I used an old quilt block I bought at a second hand/antique shop for the removable pillow cover. The fabric has disintegrated but the form inside is just right for my back and has plenty of wear left. So I'll quilt this block and then stitch a new cover. 

I listened to The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman. The four septuagenerians are up against several ruthless criminals. This is the second in this series and not quite as snappy as the the first book but still a humorous read if mystery is your thing. My local book group will discuss The Water Dancer over Zoom this week. I listened to an interview of Ta-Nehisi Coates last night. What a talented, thoughtful, wise writer and human being. I am also reading Valentines by Ted Kooser. His metaphors are extraordinary, a red potato or a paper boat as a Valentine. Back in the day before he was named the National Poet Laureate, Kooser gave readings from his recently published books at independent bookstores. He sometimes distributed index cards to listeners for their names and addresses. For a few years, he sent everyone on the list a Valentine's Day poem. I was late to the list but received a few. The poems came on a white 3 x 5 card with one small red foil sticker. The series came to an end in 2007 and the poems were collected in a book published in 2008. 

I hope your knitting and reading are treating you well. 

Ravelry Links

Anker's Cardigan - My Size

    P. S. The irony of the cardigan's name, Anker's Cardigan My Size, is not lost on me. 

Prairie Shawl

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Winter Knitting

Any groundhog brave enough to poke his head out of a burrow in southeast Nebraska would see his shadow today. Of course, no matter the sunlight, we will have six more weeks of winter. This morning is bitter cold and clear. The next big snowstorm will be south of us and so we continue with this dry winter. Red-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, chickadees and finches brave the wind to come to the feeder. I'm happy to help them out but once again it's time to buy more suet and seed.

Today I'm linking with Kat and a group of makers for Unraveled Wednesday. This morning as I photographed my knitting progress, it struck me that knitting and winter have some things in common.  Although the cardigan and the prairie shawl look much the same as they did last week, I have made progress on both projects. Winter weather is also in a holding pattern. Yet, one hour, one day at a time the earth tilts toward longer warmer days and one stitch, one row at a time projects do get completed. I enjoy the meditative quality of stockinette knitting as well as the peaceful feeling of winter.

Last week after a few evenings of steady cardigan knitting, my right hand and wrist began to ache. I realized both projects were on small needles and I was pushing a lot of stitches around in the sweater project. I went through my "up next" stash bin and chose this teal yarn leftover from the poncho I knit in 2020. I cast on a cowl that I have knit previously. I chose the project because it is knit on bigger needles and has some nice texture for interest. I am also trying to knit patterns I already own. 

Three knitting projects is a sweet spot for me. What is your magic number? For me, three is enough variety to hold my interest but not so many to feel scattered. Late in December I wound up a skein of yarn for socks. I tried three different sock patterns only to rip them all out. The yarn is a slightly heavier fingering weight. The  pretty rose color would be just right for February but that yarn doesn't want to be socks. The fabric I knit was as stiff as cardboard. It is nice yarn for some other project. I wound up another skein of pink with speckles and while winding I thought it was too thin for socks. The cowl is just right. This must be the Goldilocks approach to knitting. 

I finished Ann Patchett's book of essays, These Precious Days, a few nights ago. Her writing is beautiful and what an interesting life she lives. Kindness and compassion abound in the title essay. I pulled Sisters of the Earth off the shelf to read at night. I have the second edition of this anthology of women nature writers. The variety is interesting and in the past a selection has led me to read more by a new-to-me contributor. It is good bedtime reading. 

Between the cold and Omicron, it's been a rather quiet week. That's ok with me. Quiet is good.  I hope you are having a good week. 

Ravelery Links

Light Blue Anker's Cardigan

Bluet Cowl