If I were a rich crow, I would have more time to blog. Instead of staring at a computer screen, I would spend more time gazing out the window and identifying birds in the trees and make a dent on that stack of books. I would order fine, exotic yarn from points abroad and bring more objects of beauty into the world. And when travel becomes easier, I would start exploring again, first working my way around Italy, seeking out good trattorias and ancient sites, and then island hopping in the Mediterranean.
This morning I read that there is a woodpecker count going on in Vienna. You can participate by sending in information on where you spot woodpeckers in the city. Nine of the ten different woodpecker species found in Austria are found in Vienna. Three are ones KA and I see regularly: the great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major, shown above), the Eurasian green woodpecker (Picus viridis), and the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius). The others are the middle spotted woodpecker (Leiopicus medius), the lesser spotted woodpecker (Dryobates minor), the Syrian woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus), the white-backed woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), the grey-faced woodpecker (Picus canus), and the Eurasian wryneck (Jynx torquilla). Even if you don’t understand German, the site I linked to above has descriptions with good pictures and sound files.
It is not just woodpeckers that are out and about: an unfamiliar bird conveniently landed in the bush right just as I was attempting to take a picture of a blackbird. After consulting my Austrian bird field guide, I decided it was a fieldfare (Wacholderdrossel, or Turdus pilaris). This handsome bird winters in Austria from October to April and then flies north. Once I read the entry on the fieldfare, I remembered that I had seen a flock of them outside the apartment shortly after I moved to Vienna.
Piggy backing on the brown of the fieldfare’s wings, let’s shift to the warm earth tones of the second pair of Cesena socks, the first sock of which is nearly done. For those readers who have frequently knit socks with self-striping yarn, what is with the incredibly wide pumpkin stripe? Did someone make a mistake at the yarn dying plant – maybe taking a longer coffee break and forgetting to switch to the next color? Note the garter stitch heel.
The sock has taken so long because a few weeks ago I became distracted with thoughts of spring and summer, setting aside wool and reaching for linen and cotton. A few summers ago, I knit a linen bag that I had hoped would become my primary summer tote bag. My intention was to line it with linen fabric. Since I have no experience with sewing linings (or sewing much of anything except buttons and seaming sweaters), a friend who can sew offered to show me how to make a lining. Unfortunately, she didn’t end up having enough time, and both the bag and the linen fabric were packed away out of sight, out of mind. Last spring I knit a linen bag from a different pattern to use up a skein of yarn I shouldn’t have bought. The design was very practical, but the color didn’t match most of my summer clothing. I decided that I would knit a second one in a better color. That is what you see below. I raveled the first linen bag and knit another bag following last summer’s pattern. I don’t plan on lining it. The linen is Quince and Co’s Kestrel in the color Quill, a thick ribbon yarn that should hold up well.
The other distracting project was the cotton tweed cowl, which is now finished. Once again, I knit a familiar pattern in a color that matches my wardrobe better Longer and narrower than the first one, the cowl should also fit better. Whereas this winter was devoted to socks, this spring and summer I would like to seek out different brands of linen yarn and become proficient in the ins and outs of knitting with linen. As the climate changes, garments in cooling fibers such as linen, hemp, and nettle will provide relief and should be worn more frequently in these latitudes. These fibers have different characteristics than wool and alpaca. I’m happy to have found a clear knitting focus for the next part of the year and look forward to experimenting with plant fibers.
May you find a good focus for the upcoming months and enjoy the birdsong of spring!