Wednesday, March 30, 2022

More Lion Than Lamb

March ends with chilly gray blustery days. I'll need a winter coat on today's walk. Yesterday I took advantage of the warmest day of the week and pulled weeds and grass from the small daffodil/iris bed in front of the storage shed. I left the dried iris leaves because overnight temps will remain below freezing for the next week or so. I was warm enough in a heavy sweatshirt and jeans. The ground is dry but it was lovely to get my hands in the dirt. After trying to clean a bird feeder that hangs on a shepherd's crook, we decided to replace it. It was inexpensive and already sported a mended crack in the top. 

Wednesday is the day to link with Kat and the Unravelers. Sunday I finished knitting the Anker's Cardigan. The second sleeve was an adventure that I'll post about next week or whenever the sweater dries and is ready for photographs. I plan to block it this afternoon and I need buttons. Perhaps you heard my song of celebration from afar. I loved knitting with the yarn but was ready to be finished. I have a shawl languishing in a bag but feel like working on some smaller projects. 

I knit on this sock and cast on the fingerless mitts that will be a birthday gift for a niece. This is my fourth time knitting the Alfresco Mitts pattern. The all-over ribbing accommodates to different sized hands. I have used heavy fingering yarn, as in this mitt, as well as older Quince and Co Chickadee, a heavy sportweight. Late last summer I ordered some Chickadee and it wasn't as heavy but I digress. Anyway, I appreciate the details in this pattern. The cable is created by shifting stitches from the ribbing in a set-up row and the thumb gusset has nice detail with one rib running up the center of the gusset and thumb. 

I am currently listening to Violeta by Isabel Allende. In a letter to a young woman, Violeta looks back over her life that has spanned the twentieth century. Although the author does't specifically name Chile, at least in the beginning, I assume that is the setting for most of the story. Reading about world events from the point of view of a Chilean woman is interesting especially after reading Allende's nonfiction book, The Soul of a Woman. She is an accomplished storyteller and writer. 

My word this year is Kindness. And so I loved this message from Jonah and his kindergarten class. The painting on the letters are handprints of children at his school. The message in the dot of the i reads, "Be the I in kind." As I bend my hands and heart to kindness this year, I find some challenges. When representatives of political candidates canvas the neighborhood prior to the May primary election, my goal is to be respectful and kind. It takes courage to go door to door and whether I agree or not, I hope to respect that courage. It's not easy.  


Ravelry Links

Valentine Socks

Alfresco Mitts

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

March Field Trip

After a beautiful Spring weekend, this March day is blustery and raw. A bit of snow fell early on Tuesday morning. The moisture is welcome however it comes. Monday we took a day trip to central Nebraska. Our first stop was a shop in Hastings where I spent an hour or so with a very patient spinning teacher. More on that later. Then we drove further west to look at the sandhill cranes. Many poets write poems about birds. Some are about the cranes. I once wrote a poem about the cranes but words don't capture the magnificence of this migration. These ancient birds carry the story of time in their DNA. Even when the cornfields are dust and stubble and the sky gray, their presence and grace is apparent. Their call is music for the soul. I found myself wondering why as human beings, we can't just love and care for the world. 

We considered staying until sunset to stand on the pedestrian bridge while the cranes fly up and down the Platte River looking for their overnight roosting site. However, we were tired because we left home early to make my spinning appointment. The temperature was dropping and rain began to fall during the afternoon. We brought warm outerwear, rain ponchos, and extra shoes but driving 130 miles home on a rainy night in damp clothing didn't appeal to us. We may go back on a drier day to stand on the bridge at sunset. 

Today I link with Kat and the Unravelers to write about making. Sunday evening I finished the first sleeve of the ever-present cardigan. I'm saving photos for the finished sweater. Monday in the car I finished a washcloth for my gift stash and worked on the sock with a cable. As I mentioned, I took a short spinning class - one on one - at The Plum Nelly in Hastings. I tried two spinning wheels and was absolutely all thumbs. I have developed a unique spinning technique with a spindle that works for me. Plying singles spun on a spindle is a challenge. I have been making a plying ball by unwinding singles from the spindles and rolling them into a ball. Of everything involved in spindle spinning, this feels terribly tedious and takes a good deal of time. Two woodworkers I know of make Lazy Kates for spindles so that is a possibility.

I tried spinning on a Turkish Spindle because the singles are wound into a tight little ball that is easily removed from the spindle. Theoretically one can spin from both ends of the little turtle or one can spin from two turtles but they have to be kept separate. Maggie Casey, a spinning teacher and author of a book on spinning, suggested using flower pots and so I did. It is one solution but I had to keep the singles from tangling. I find spinning singles on a Turkish spindle not as much fun because I had to keep slipping the half-hitch from the shaft to wind the single and then form the half-hitch again and put it back on the spindle. However one spins with a spindle, one is limited by the length of your arm. All of this is to say, that I wanted to do something I said I'd never do which is to try spinning on a wheel. 

It is very humbling to be a complete beginner. As much as I knew the process was going to be awkward and come with a steep learning curve, I found it frustrating. The teacher was patient and kind. We did discover that even though I am right handed, I may be spinning left-handed with the spindle. I have never been physically coordinated but challenging this old brain is good for me. So it's something to ponder. 

Anyway, I continue to spin with my spindles. These are the first few skeins I made with the Amethyst colored mixed BFL fiber. It sure looks pretty with the little gray skein off the Turkish Spindle. I have more of each fiber to spin. Together the fibers will make a nice project someday. I am tying off the skeins with leftover white cormo so when I wash it for the first time I can see whether or not the dye bleeds into the white yarn. So far, so good. 

Wishing you a peaceful week and a little Spring.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Spring Light

The weather and the light turn toward Spring. As I walk this week, the birdsong is glorious. The juncos frequent the feeder. I enjoy their antics before they leave for the summer, migrating to more northern forests and climate. A flock of geese, not the urban wildfowl on city ponds, flew over last evening. 

Today I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers to post about knitting and reading. I finished the body of this sweater and started on the first sleeve. Two evenings ago, I measured it against several other sweater sleeves and it is too wide. I need an afternoon hour to lay it on the table and decide how to change the decreases and then unravel. The knitting went quickly so it won't take long to make up the lost rows. There is a reason I love to knit shawls although I unravel them also. Today I am meeting some friends for tea so maybe tomorrow. 

In the meantime, I knit a hat from some of my handspun yarn. I spun this yarn last summer, early in my spinning journey so the thickness is uneven. I held the Polworth 2-ply with one strand of mohair silk laceweight to blend the colors and even out the thickness the handspun. I didn't have a pattern but cast on 80 stitches and knit a hat without ribbing. I like the hat. The fabric is very soft.  

I finished listening to Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy two evenings ago and am still thinking about the story, the characters, and the many layers of migration written into the novel. The writing was lyrical and the ending is powerful. Between this season and the Ukrainians fleeing for their lives, the story feels very timely. 

The light changes. The natural world turns toward the beauty of Spring, a season for hope. 

Ravelry Links

Anker's Cardigan - My Size

Pink Hat



Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Knitting into March

March weather is unpredictable and this year is no exception. The wind blew the unseasonable warmth east, rain fell (thank goodness), and the temperature dropped. Sunday snow fell and a little is predicted this evening and tomorrow. I haven't washed my wool sweaters yet and am wearing one today. Sunday we bundled up for an early afternoon walk. Later I stepped out on the deck and watched the rippling V's of migrating birds. The Sandhill Cranes are flying. Snow or not Spring isn't far away. 

Today I am linking with Kat and the Unravelers to write about knitting and reading. The best knitting news is the Anker's cardigan is ready for the bottom ribbing. Yipee! I tried it on last night to check the length. If I hadn't had on my pajamas, I'd have taken a selfie to show the fit but it's great. A progress keeper got me through the black hole of knitting. You know, that time in a project where you knit and knit and never seem to add inches. Thanks for sticking with me as I post over and over about the same project. I don't mind knitting sleeves so onward I go. 

Last week I finished the cowl I was knitting. I used two remaining skeins from a poncho knit in 2020. The yarn is lovely to knit with and the cowl is soft and squishy. I won a game of yarn chicken (see the little length of yarn in the photo!) with the second skein although I could have unraveled a swatch if needed. This winter I wore cowls instead of scarves or shawls when I ran errands. I know the Covid virus doesn't live long on surfaces but I felt safer with a cowl tucked in under my coat and not so exposed to anyone shedding the virus. I don't like several layers of a knitted wrap under my coat so the cowls worked well. I am a bit like the Princess with the Pea under her mattress - just ask my husband.

I did a little unraveling as I sorted out a sock pattern for this yarn. I tried the Strawberry Milk (Ravelry) pattern but the simple lace detail wasn't visible in this speckled yarn. I also think this yarn is better suited to a ribbed pattern so I am knitting a ribbed sock with a four stitch cable. This yarn is dyed and sold locally at Knit Paper Scissors, a local yarn shop. It's a nice collaboration between a local dyer and shop. I bought it last month while shopping with my sister so it carries a nice memory. 

I am listening to Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy and enjoying it. The descriptions of a natural world in the future are beautiful and heart-breaking. The characters are well written and the audio voice is excellent. By the way, I just noticed that Goodreads has a list of nonfiction books in honor of Women's History Month. I rarely choose a book because it is on a list but plan to look over this offering for titles new to me.  

I am behind in reading blogs and a few other things as we spent Monday taking care of a minor dermatology related procedure for my husband. He is fine thanks to the science of modern medicine. As always, I admire the nurses and surgeons who are unfailingly skilled, kind, and polite. Kindness received is important as that which we give. I hope kindness finds you this week. 

Ravelry Links

Anker's Cardigan, My Size

Bluet Cowl   

Valentine Socks

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

In Like a Lamb

March came in like a lamb. The sky is blue and the air is warm. Today the weather app tells me the air quality is not good. Tinder dry conditions put dust into the air and also make grass fires a possibility. Monday I stopped at a local nursery to see if anything was stirring in the greenhouses. I may have lost my marbles because I picked up one inexpensive package of violas and brought them home. The last frost date is over a month away. The pot is sitting on the kitchen counter and even if the plants don't live long enough to go outdoors, they lift my spirits. 

One of my grandmothers remarked to me that we would all be happier if we smiled like the pansies. Evidently she saw a smile in the blooms. By my girlhood, she was widowed and lived in a very small home on my uncle's property. She had a very narrow strip of ground next to her front door and some years grew a few pansies. Anyway it is a sweet memory and I think of her when I see pansies. That memory, the sun on my back, and a little dirt under my fingernails made me forget the state of the world for a few minutes.  

Fiber work is also a gift these days. Yesterday I opened a braid of Heathered BFL by Greenwood Fiber in the February birthstone colorway Amethyst. The colors are pretty and the BFL has a nice soft hand for a beginning spinner. I began spinning a single yesterday. 

Wednesday is the day to link with Kat and the Unravelers. I am pleased to say I haven't done any unraveling this week. The sweater continues. My hands needed a break from the sweater body on small needles so I knit on the cowl last night. I like the texture in this pattern. Once it is set up, it is easy to follow. I find this true for Bonnie Sennott designs. Her patterns are well written. I have knit several and enjoyed them all.  

Last weekend I plied these two skeins of  Polworth. Then I set out to spin the deepest blue at the end of the braids. Luckily I didn't spin much fiber before I noticed my fingers turning blue. The dye washed off easily and a damp rag cleaned the spindle. I know some yarns give up dye during the first wash or two so I suppose this is not unexpected. I didn't want my spindles to be stained with dye so will not be spinning that portion of the fiber. I spun these skeins of yarn spun from two braids of the same colorway. I see improvement in my spinning. This heavy fingering to sport weight yarn will make for some nice knitting. 

A week or so ago I plied a small skein of a blended fiber (merino, silk, flax)  from Hip Strings. I made an interesting yarn. 

Warning: I am about to get on a soapbox. 

I am listening to A Swim in the Pond: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class in Reading, Writing, and Life by George Saunders and have mixed feelings about the book. Although I plan to finish, I am not to the end. The short story form is not my favorite so I chose this title to learn more. The commentary on what makes a good short story is thorough, understandable, and informative. I also realize this book is based on Russian writers who wrote a long time ago but (here we go) only one of the four stories has an interesting (to me) female character. Two of the stories feature women as minor characters portrayed in negative ways. One story develops a woman character in terms of her relationships to three or four males who come into her life. Perhaps the point of the story is that women should not mold themselves to men but I prefer to read about positive ways women can thrive in relationships or grow in other ways. In other words, what a woman can do instead of what she shouldn't do. I know others have enjoyed this book and I could be missing the point. As I listen I am reminded, once again, how literature perpetuates stereotypes of all kinds. The four stories are read by strong voices. The author narrates the commentary. In my opinion, he isn't a skilled audio reader. Now that I've offered my opinion, I'll step down. 

Take care my friends.