Slight progress

Work and classes have been eating large chunks of time. Family stuff (complicated but necessary) has also claimed its share. I’m enjoying every minute the best I can, even if it is limited to Zoom.

Sewing: I’ve managed to make a blouse that fits (with buttons and puffy sleeves) and a linen vest (with pockets) that almost fits. As well as many, many toiles/muslins. I also managed to make a case for a wedge pillow, a baby quilt, and a lap quilt. I’m hoping to get back to more quilting, because then I don’t need to do calculations about size and ease.

Brief thoughts about patterns: size information is almost inaccessible if it is printed on the same tissue paper as the pattern pieces. Living with cats, there is little space on which to unfold the tissue pattern and confirm sizes’ dimensions. Once I empty a table of stuff it is claimed by a furry tyrant who wants to bite paper (or lie on quilt and batting). The Burda vest pattern 7769 is genius at explaining pocket construction and top stitching. While very nice, the vest size is off (muslin 1, in inexpensive dead stock).

I’ve had my nose in a good poetry book by Olive Senior called “Hurricane Watch: New and Collected Poems”. In these days before the mosquitoes come, when it is sunny outside, I’m sitting on the southmost stoop, reading or typing out work while watching the carpenter bees blunder in the air.

I hope you’ve managed a few good walks in the sun, taken a few trips even if only via good books, and found time to daydream about gardening and other hopes.

Fallen down a rabbit hole

This year I fell down the rabbit hole of crafting (and work), neglecting the blog and language studies. Work has lightened up, so I’m focusing on my language studies. But I’ve also continued with needlework:

  • I finished a baby quilt
  • Finished a lap quilt (same fabric on both sides, plain grid quilting, satin binding)
  • Finishing off the Christmas ornaments felt kit (almost done)
  • Dealing with adjusting dress patterns for the wearer (so interesting and confusing, possibly on my third muslin)

We did take a lovely car trip to see family and school friends. Dragged the Gardener to see standing stones in a park in Pennsylvania. I have been dreaming about walking around in foreign countries (maybe influenced by watching foreign films and travelogues of the Hurtegurten).

So how about you? Did you find something to be enthusiastic about during the heat and hot weather, or are you glad that autumn weather is back?

Racing toward April

With the change to daylight time, I have bits of daylight after work to head outside and look at neighbors’ yards. I have rejoiced over the flowers:

  • Crocuses
  • Snowdrops
  • Fumewort
  • Blue dwarf irises
  • Star magnolias
  • Ornamental cherry blossoms
  • Yellow forsythia (the color of Big Bird – trust me)
  • Daffodils (so many)

The only flowers I don’t celebrate are the Bradford pears (allergies) and the maples (my car is turning green). The cats have noticed changes too, yelling outside windows at visiting blue jays and robins.

Hopefully as the seasons turn where you are, you have the opportunity to get out and notice changes (whether it’s to spring or winter, depending on your hemisphere).

Still here – Feb 2022

I spent much of January and part of February wishing I lived somewhere else, maybe further north and nearer family. But the aconites have come up in the yard. Today was the first day of starling and American robin migrations through the yard. Thirty round orbs of grey and russet in the oak tree. More starlings than I could count, scraping around in the house’s roof gutters.

The cats are apoplectic.

They are also outraged at the outdoor cats and squirrels that walk through the yard (not ours) and the jays and cooper’s hawks that sweep through. Between nature and sunlight, it’s enough to make me glad that I’m here, even if here feels far away from my extended family. Someday, when it is warm enough, I hope for family picnics or grabbing lunch at a deli and meeting in the park.

For now, I’ll stick to bird watching, greeting new flowers in the yard, and taking hikes near sunset to see when “church-henge” will happen (when the sun sets between the two spires on the next hill).

November musings

Reflections in a water lily pond. One purple bloom in dark water, multiple lilypads. Reflections of window arches and a man wearing a striped orange shirt.
Reflections in a water lily pond.

Almost every autumn, there’s a trip to a formal garden or a nature preserve, as a treat. This time it was Longwood Gardens, with some sudden downpours, then sun in a half-grey sky. There were too many people in the orangery and conservatories for comfort (we stayed masked indoors). But the open spaces, including the meadow, were filled with enchantment. We spied many interesting birds: turkey vultures and hawks on the wing; a ruby-crowned kinglet vibrating with outrage from a hybrid American chestnut tree; suspected hermit thrushes, scuffling off into the undergrowth; and so many goldfinches, purple finches, and sparrows eating seeds in the meadow. There were also the normal amount of people who had tired of nature and let their children and partners roam free while they looked at their phones for a while.

The chrysanthemum displays are always wonderful, but looking at the trees on our walk was more satisfying — so many colors. That and discovering the blooming holly: one of my favorite things to sniff. I’m musing how to translate photos into watercolors or pen washes this November, when the weather is too wet for walks. Just a lovely visit to almost normal. I’m also contemplating other craft items in the home and which I wish to try when I have some of my home projects (housework and paid work) done.

I hope, before the weather shifts again, you have a chance to get outside and breathe in clean air, even if you can’t stray far from where you are. And if you are snowbound in the near future, may you have lots of books and lovely projects to keep you company.

Finished knitting – Artisans vest

Still on a semi-hiatus from Rav, to give my eyes a break. I’m going to post here, then nip in and update the page there.

This was a very satisfying project with the ability to make adjustments to the pattern. Cotton comfort yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery was lovely to use, and blocked really well (I can’t remember the name of the contrast yarn, but I think I picked it up at Green Mountain during a trip. Pattern: Artisans Vest

Photo shows a torso, with person wearing a grey-green sweater vest with a grey and pink multi-colored patch at shoulders and ivory colored buttons.
Artisan’s Vest. Modifications: contrast yarn at the shoulders and armholes. Seedstitch button band.

There are things I’d do differently in the future. But this pattern is intuitive and reasonably quick. I was able to make modifications to the base pattern with only a little bit of swatching to test my ideas. I may have yarn leftover for an autumn weight hat. 🙂 If you’re ever visiting the spinners in Vermont, the Putney Food Coop across the street is lovely. If I lived in the area, this would be my go-to for sandwiches and hot tea.

Natural intrusions

I’ve been away from the blog (although not away away….), focusing on work, reading, and knitting. Finished a vest (the Artisan’s vest from Green Mountain Spinnery), which I’m pretty pleased with, although it sparked questions about how to do a better button band (I’m on it, and reading up on ideas for the next vest).

I acquired a new sewing machine, which holds a lot of promise if I can play with it around my work. The days are now punctuated by a desire to get outside and at least look at other peoples’ yards before all the blooms are gone. There was a banner year of figs and grapes.

However, there is a difference of opinions about yellow jackets

(Took a while for me to get to the point of this post…)

The cats think they’re great. I’m less than impressed that the cats are riling up stragglers who get inside. I’ve been spending my free time trapping angry insects in glass jars and waiting until they calm down. Then I slide a stiff card under the opening and march the angry buzzing cargo outdoors. After waiting a while, I tip over the glass jar with a broom. There’s been a lot of shrieking (after muting the work line). The worst was when two cats were tangled up in the barricade towels with one really indignant specimen of wasp-kind. Brr.

I will post thoughts on the current mysteries that I’m reading once I’ve gotten further in. They are helping me feel October-y without having to watch horror movies. The yellow jacket invaders are creepy enough.

Wishing everyone a happy October. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to post about my latest knitting, reading, etc.

Quiet time with cats

I’m still here, slowing down to take time to walk around the neighborhood, observing how the neighbors’ flowers are growing. I’ve been enjoying observing the figs as they slowly ripen on the branches – a wonderful change from last year. And, like many people, I’ve taken up bird watching because I’m curious about which bird is making noises (mostly blue jays this season). On a road trip, I saw a blue heron and an egret flying. Marvelous!

I did get to see some family after over a year of waiting. But mostly, I’m enjoying quiet time with cats.

And loud times with cats:

  • A bird is outside: outrage! Cue angry paws against the window pane.
  • The food has not arrived yet: oh woe! Oh woe for me, your starving baby….
  • The other cat is using the box. Cue soft thumps of bodies throughout the house.
  • You startled me. Explosion of cats in different directions.

It’s entertaining, if distracting.

The day job is busy (thank goodness). Slow progress is being made on the vest and the cross-stitch, when I’m not fishing for cats with the feather on a string.

It’s mostly cats here. And worry about the world, which is a bit overwhelming. But it’s mostly cats, who would love fresh tuna (not on their diet) or a real mouse (please no).

I haven’t been on Rav for a long time, because it’s fractious on my computer. But I may have to go on to check on some of the knitters whose blogs have gone into the aether. I’m going to be sporadic in posting because (gestures at the world). I’m sure you understand (nods in 2021, and hope everyone is staying safe).

Small creative pursuits

It’s been quiet, creative-wise, around here. Due to lack of workspace and cat interventions, I’ve had to put aside some of my bigger projects (sewing machine repair so I can make a muslin, some of my painting), and focus on small things when I have time. While the cats sleep, I’ve found free time and space for:

  • Knitting washcloths
  • Stitching beads onto my counted cross-stitch kit
  • Working on the front of the Artisan’s Vest

And of course there’s reading. Current poetry book: Whereas: Poems by Layli Long Soldier. Long Soldier’s poetry is fascinating, and very different. I think I’ve reread “Steady Summer” multiple times. Link to the publisher’s page:

Here’s a taste from “Steady Summer”:

"... through half-propped 
windows I swallow
grass scent the solstice
makes a mind
wide makes it
oceanic blue ..." 

Some of the poems are hard to parse, more visual than lyrical. Other poems require me to look things up in history books, because I’m not familiar with Oglala Lakota background, environment (anything, really… and it’s my job to educate myself, since public school did not).

There have been brief travels, now that family are vaccinated, for quick visits. Seeing other environments has helped a little. And I went, fully masked, to see the Philadelphia Flower Show, which was outdoors (and kind of amazing). I’m trying to weigh what I’m comfortable with against what seems to be safe. It’s complicated…. I’ve also been limiting my time online (when not for work) and my time on Rav because I didn’t enjoy the headaches from the interface. Not sure if I will ditch my Rav account (I was one of the second wave of beta testers when the site went live). I think it depends on how weird that site gets.

So what are you reading or creating in your free time?

Me and the boys

Here in the mid-Atlantic, everyone is being serenaded by lots of love-starved, bug-eyed cicadas. Tree canopies vibrate with their noise. I’ve had business meetings where people ask me to turn down the AC or the mechanical noise on my side of the call, and I have to say, “Nope, that’s the bugs!”

It’s loud, and raucous, and drowns out the sounds of lawnmowers. Impressive. At least one or two of the lotharios have tried rattling against the siding of a drain spout, to get the attention of the lady cicadas. Are there any female cicadas yet? I have no idea. But….

When they fly, they catch the sunlight in their wings. They look very different from the slightly cross-eyed looking black bugs with bright red eyes. In the morning, when I’m half awake, they look a little bit like clumsy fairies who land and then fall off the boxwood or the tulip tree. They’re apparently tasty: neighborhood birds have cleared up some of the straggling bug castanets. If you ask me whether they are tasty, I can only say the birds act like they’re a delicacy and newspeople have been talking recipes (nope. Not trying stir fry.).

Photo of a 17-year cicada on the trunk of a young gingko tree. He has red eyes, a black body, and golden wings.
Lovesick troubadour

I’ve had conversations with neighbors where we shout over the din: “They’re really loud!” “Yes! I’m glad they quiet down at night.” It’s like someone cloned 50 copies of the Backstreet Boys, and then let them out to do a concert and they’re all slightly off sync, so instead of a coherent song you get a mosaic wall of crashing sounds.

I am glad they quiet down at night. I wish they’d sleep in.