Tag Archives: snow

Lion or lamb wham…?

We’ve had four nor’easters in three weeks.

At first it was gearing up to be an early spring – the blackbirds were hanging out, the buds filling out, and I wasn’t quite ready, but at the same time itching to get out.

And then foot after foot of white stuff – the heavy kind, not the fluffy kind, and now I’m fearing our Magnolia blossoms have been damaged again – we had exactly one last year – one bloom on a giant old tree…

But then again, we’re a little too north for Magnolias anyway…

I started a linen stitch scarf for N out of yarn from one of his old sweaters.

Then I realized I couldn’t finish it before the season was out, so there is no hurry…

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Late winter afternoon. #shadows #horse

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Then I got out a very long-suffering sweater that has a serious game of yarn chicken going on, and less than ideal options for the bottom hem. After hemming and hawing about the hem, I’ve set off for sleevetown to knit down the yarn. If there is any remaining, I’ll unknit the current hem and re-knit it in the way I’m thinking will drive me crazy the least.

I forgot to note when I finished this spin – I’d meant to keep track since I’d like to know how long it takes me to spin for a sweater when just spinning for 30-45 minutes or so here and there, but at least around 3-4 days a week. I think I finished at the end of February, but February is short – maybe early March? Either way, it took around/a little less than, two months…?

Not unreasonable – a good pace actually since I don’t need to make yarn faster than I can knit it. But it’s only 1,200 yards, so about the minimum I’d need for the bigger/longer things I like to wear these days. I haven’t done any swatching yet, but I was aiming for a worsted/aran generally (it’s got an intentional thick and thin thing going on) and I’m thinking it might be slightly less, so I’ll start with a US 7 needle first…

Debating about a very basic pullover or a cardigan (really need cardigans)…if it is a cardigan, I’ll probably need to spin more or more likely use commercial yarn for the button bands and such.

(And perhaps it’s worth a mention that the yarn almost exactly matches a felted bag I made probably around 10… 10! years ago but have yet to finish. And should I admit that part of that is from bedbug fear? I’d made it as an overnight/light traveling bag but then imagined that the felt would grab and hold thousands of bedbug eggs from overhead compartments and hotel surfaces… That, and it is a bit heavy too, so it defeats the purpose of traveling light…)

The garden is almost ready – I started writing this last Wednesday thinking the snow would melt by the weekend, and it didn’t, but it has today, but it’s still fairly cold and I’ve got a little cold.

But the storms have also caused other delays – the farm store I get bagged compost to supplement ours has had their scheduled dirt delivery overdue for a month…

But I’ve got babies growing in the basement (let’s hope I didn’t start them too soon) that should be ready to be outside by the time everything else is…

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Clicking and sticking

I’m in a particularly stressful period that began in November and should end in a few more weeks. Then an even more stressful time might follow. Or it might not. Or it might be something else entirely in some other maddening form.

Who knows.

But I’ve been foggy, as has been the weather, bringing the end of snow and more snow and too cold to snow and rain and icy crusted over snow…

clickstick-fog

I was planning on continuing to knit more socks, my most recent scarfy thing, and some long suffering sweaters – easy, comfortable, brainless knitting things, but some gift needs popped up and I relaxed into a spell of more hat knitting.

I only needed one, but I’m on the third, and am going to throw in a fourth for N.

One is my old standby, and three are variations on Jared Flood’s Turn a Square, wherein instructions are given for a tubular cast on which is new to me.

I didn’t want to try something new – I didn’t want to think, just knit. But a lazy Sunday afternoon found me curious, then skeptical for six rows (feeling annoyed that it was six rows instead of one before the actual knitting started) but when it was over, I was looking at the perfect hat edge that has been missing in my life.

clickstick-brim

It’s the kind of edge you might find on commercial, but well-made hats, or done by the knitterly grand dames of the last century. Not that I want anything I make to look like it was made by anything other than a pair of hands, but I need to step up my edging and finishing game and this seems more durable and stretchy – possibly without the danger of getting stretched-out – and oh so perfectly reversible…

However, I prefer to knit hats top-down, so I am going to have to change my comfortable ways, or think harder about alternative engineering and grafting…

Speaking of which, even with my mind in a semi-shutdown state, I realized I finally memorized how to graft/kitchener my toes closed on my second to last pair of socks.

clickstick-toe

For years I had to watch the same video over and over to remember where to start in the sequence. Often I’d finish a pair of socks while traveling and either sew them shut in some unsightly but functional way or pack them home with open toes. Or at home, I’d finish everything in the evening but have to wait for daylight – usually during my lunch hour (and one of the rare times I’ve got my knitting anywhere near the computer) to close it up. The video I used was fine, and watching for the first few seconds got me back on track and soon I finished, but it just never stuck in my head.

Then I watched a new video, this video,* and bam, something in my brain clicked and it’s in there – no more unfinished toes until I get to a computer (I still don’t have a smartphone). Sure, I might need it again if I don’t need to graft for some time, but I’m confident that I don’t need a crutch for the next few pairs.

(I still use a cheat sheet for turning heels, but I think I’ve got that one down now too finally.)

I wish I could pick up and retain things in a few minutes or after a few times rather than in many years and after many projects…

*Maybe this one worked somehow subconsciously because I have the same sofa?

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Camo for crocuses in the snow; Blizzard socks

blizzard-zepplins

Our cars decided that they wanted to become zeppelins during last week’s blizzard.

blizzard-shoveling

And N had an excuse to break out his awesome vintage plaid wool pants.

blizzard-sock inside

And I had the time to sit on my ass and finish my latest socks while watching the snow fall and then get shoveled away while my toes stayed propped up and toasty.

(Yes, that is snow piled against the window, even after it was knocked down several times – the storm wanted darkness).

blizzard-sock before

But I too eventually went to war with the frozen shit – donning my swants over some wool long johns and stomping my way to uncover various vents and utility meters and paths to compost piles and sheds and garbage cans…

blizzard-sock after

(And I really should have put on my gaiters first.)

When I was making the socks, the colors reminded me of crocuses popping up through the snow. The multi-colored yarn also came from a market in a town in Abruzzo known for its saffron crop.

Now I see that they are perfectly coordinated with my snowshoes.

They could have been longer.

They could be warmer.

Next time maybe I’ll drop another needle size while holding the yarn doubled, but I’m starting to think I just need 100% wool socks – screw the bit of polyamide and/or nylon which I think is the culprit for clamminess…

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More things that aren’t what I thought they were or what they started out to be…

I seem to be on an uneasy roll wherein I can no longer trust anything…

Including the season…

grackles

Clouds of grackles and redwing blackbirds have been stopping over in the yard, and the hyacinths began to pop up – it’s been grey but warming.

fresh snow

Then more of this – more than I thought was coming (but it didn’t last long).

mesh yarn

We’ve been talking about dressing more safely/noticeably when walking on the road to a little trail head nearby and considered buying some of those neon vests construction workers and police officers wear, but then I saw a bag of neon yarn at the big box and thought I could whip up some sort of vest/cowl/bib thing that could be more fabulous than the plastic vest.

Only it turned out to be mesh yarn… So I can make scruffly safety boas instead?

lovely flannel

And I ordered what I hoped was the last bit of fabric for curtains for the near future and on impulse added a few yards of a lovely colored plaid flannel to my “cart.”  I’d been thinking about making some loose tunic-like shirts in plaid… Only it ended up being this incredibly thick, luscious stuff without the drape of cheapass flannel… What now? PJ bottoms, pillow cases…? Or do I need to sew an actual shirt that fits well and has buttonholes? I don’t feel like paying that much attention to detail now, but this stuff deserves something nice.

selbu pancake

I like berets – I have thin hair and berets don’t smash the top front down, so I whipped up a Selbu Modern because it is called a beret.  But in the pattern pictures it looks like a floppy hat – whatever those are called – floppy berets? The kind of hat good for dreadlocks or stuffing thick hair?  But it looked like some people blocked theirs to look more like a tam sort of beret. But no, even after some intense blocking mine is floppy… it’s fine, I like floppy hats, but I already have enough hair-smashing hats, and still need another that isn’t – especially this time of year.

Little shelf-before

So I turned to some predictable projects. I picked up this sad little shelf/nightstand/table thing at a thriftstore recently. It had a terrible hack plywood shelf and a crackled paint that may have been intentional, or may have been the result of a fire, or may be evidence of something evil and toxic and brain-robbing. But I love old stuff. And I love that it was $7.00. And I love small light furniture that is still wood and yet it takes little effort to move around.

Little shelf-during

So I stripped and stripped and stripped (the furniture) and took out the crap shelf, debated about putting in a better one but didn’t, and painted the whole shebang.

Little shelf-done

I’m still not sure where it’s going to go, and the aqua works in some rooms and not others (I just mixed up some old sample paints) but I’m happy with it – and happy to feel a bit less off-kilter again.

little shelf-in situ

For now, it’s here.

Can you spot the other thing with the Selbu Modern pattern?

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In like a lion or, a fox…?

March arrived with a couple of little back to back icy storms, but it held the promise of a thaw…

blue-fox

And then we had a satisfying morning watching the neighborhood fox hunt (unsuccessfully) in the yard…

blue-shovel

Followed shortly thereafter by more f*cking snow.

So it’s back to the wintertime blues.

Quite literally – I realized much of what I’ve been working on lately is blue, which is a little odd for me…

blue-sperry

Like this Sperry sweater (I’m a little afraid it doesn’t have as much ease as I’d like, but I’m not quite far enough along to know for sure…)

blue-velvet

And this scrappy little quilt made from clothes that were both mine and not that’s much farther along than this now…

blue-stole

And finally, this big “old shale” stole out of recycled yarn.  I wanted to restock my etsy shop with some handknits like this, but I think etsy has gotten too evil for me – do you have a suggestion for a new marketplace site to use for handmade goodies?

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Late winter burn out…

I’m just a little bit tired of winter.

Rather, I’m really just tired of the lingering dirty snow and ice and its hazards, and now, a cold snap.

Normally this time of year would have me tearing at my breast and howling with rage at the season, but I’m semi-coping – I think I hate December much more anyway…

The tired snow is showing the well-trod path of our neighborhood deer through the side yard.

deer stomp

And their antics at night in the backyard.

deer frolic

And they’re getting hungry and bold and starting to lurk about during the day as well.

deer brush pile

(We just got more snow, and then some more snow, so it’s back to looking fresh and solidly winter again.)

I’m getting antsy to be finished with organizing my crap, but it is slow going… our basement looks like a well-stocked thrift store with 95% cool stuff.

I finally found the missing box of stash yarn.

stash box found

And it had all possible variations of yarn and notions, so I had to partially undo and redo my massive organizing job of last month.  (And I may have done a little cramming, which is how the messes start in the first place).  But I found some slipper bottoms I forgot I had too, so those will be put to good use… soon?

I finally finished a pair of gift socks I’d had on the needles for months but only worked on sporadically – I can usually crank socks out at a decent pace, but these took a little longer than I expected – especially at the dash to the finish which usually goes quite speedily, but this time was more slow and steady…

giftsocks

(The color isn’t right, they should be less pink – it’s an older ball of my favorite ONline Supersocke 6-fach yarn, and a reminder that I prefer fraternal twins for socks).

And I made five Botanics (some with fold-over brims, some without) in the last couple of months – really burned out on the pattern, but it’s still an easy and good one.

botanic-the last

I sewed a few more curtains, yet five more still need to be hemmed, and four need to be replaced with something more interesting… burned out on those as well.

 And our water line froze (but we didn’t know that was the problem at the time) just before the weekend started, so we just had several days without water and went ahead with some sloppy smelly house projects – think I might need to actually burn the clothes we’ve been wearing…

 (Don’t worry carolsinspring, I mailed those socks to you when I could still bathe and after I gave them a good soak!)

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Went for a spin…

Last Saturday morning I woke up to this.*

cashmere-winter

I still have loads of unpacking and organizing to do, but I heard the siren song scream of some no longer patiently waiting cashmere.

cashmere-fluff

It came from a lovely spot in New Mexico.

Rather, it came from a goat who lives there.

cashmere-guard hair

Some of it still had some guard hairs and bits of veg to be removed.

cashmere-spin

And I’m spinning it up rustic – who says cashmere needs to be fine and dainty?

cashmere-mess

But my view wasn’t so pleasant.

So it was only the briefest of spinning sessions, and then I got back to work on what I was supposed to be doing…

(I finally have a clear path through the room.)

*But we were mostly spared the brunt of the latest storm (and a word to the media – don’t call a storm “historic” that hasn’t even happened yet – shame on you)…

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Snowed in… AGAIN

I’m done with this winter.

snowy trees*

Last week we lost power for a few days.  My brain became more fogged than usual and I started shifting to the left.  I guessed I was getting hypothermia in my own apartment so I laid under a couple of down duvets until clearer thoughts came back… if you could call them that.

N keeps getting snow days from work; I don’t since I work from home.

We’re also sick and I’ve been feeling too crappy to make stuff.

I used to be used to being snowed in from time to time.

I’d take it as an opportunity to do wonderful things like take a bunch of random knitting needles I’ve gathered from thrift shops and yard sales –

needles-pile**

And pair them up.

needles-paired

And of course put them back in the old pasta tin I keep them in and they jumble themselves up once more.

I almost never use straight needles anymore, at least the long ones, but I like them as artifacts.

My red Formica table is in storage and I miss it.

I made a little heat-able pillow filled with cherry pits a few years ago.

cherry-pit-bag

I love cherries and eat pounds of them each June and early July.

It’s about 6″ x 8″ and filled with nearly a pound of pits.  It’s great for warming knitting-sore wrists or cold hands.

I’d like another, but I don’t think I want to go through boiling and scrubbing and scouring and sanding pits again.

It’s useless when the power goes out too.

*That picture isn’t even the most recent snow – I’ve given up, I can’t be bothered, I don’t want to have any documentation of this sh*t anymore…

**This doesn’t look right, seems like it should be the other way around, but that didn’t look right either and this is the direction I took it – deleting and re-attaching the variously oriented pics was the high point of the day.

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Swirt, skeater, or skiter?

I love Stephen West’s Swants.

I love wool, I love stretchy pants, I love recycling, I love projects with quick gratification.

However, even though I have a mountain of old sweaters and went looking for more, I still can’t find the perfect Swantsable one (though I’ve already named mine Swousers).  I’ve got long-ish, muscular-ish legs so I need a fairly big sweater and I want my Swousers to be more pants than knickers (although I love the shorter style of Kate Davies’s Sweeks) and I want them a bit thicker too – like an adult version of a soaker, only in the reverse rather than being disgustingly diapery – for keeping out cold and damp or snow.  I hate snow pants because they swish, swish, swish and are made from synthetics, so I’d like thick wool sweatery pants for wintertime activities instead.  So I must wait until the right big, long, thick sweater comes along.

Until then, I made a sweater skirt…

swirt-back-sun

Or Swirt.

But that name already has certain sexual denotations I just learned about when Googling it… so perhaps it should be a Skeater or Skiter…

It started out as a thrift-store-found hand-knit South American sweater that had been shrunken and felted/fulled a bit (by its previous owner) making the body dense but the sleeves short and tight.

swirt-sweater

I cut off the arms, slit open the neck, sewed a hem at the top, sewed up the sides (put a zipper on one), and added a couple of hook and eye closures.  My only complaint is with the sweater itself – the star motif on the front was cropped by the neckline, so I didn’t have much room to spare for the waist.

swirt-detail

I was imagining that I’d style it for a photo with a new pair of grey and black wool tights (thanks K!) and a pair of cute but impractical boots I almost never wear anymore since I work from home, but instead I got to field test it in a more rugged fashion almost immediately thanks to Hercules.

In cold weather I literally freeze my ass off.  Even with wool unders, base layers, and pants I feel like my southerly cheeks are still flirting with frostbite.  And my knees suffer as well, though I hooked them up with a quick fix last winter.  But the Swirt kept my bum and knees warm!  It was about 19F and I also had on wool long johns, wool-blend leggings, and those bulky army-surplus wool gaiters, and I was fine.

swirt-deer

Even the deer were enviously eyeing my woolies.

swirt-back

So one day I’ll have my Swants/Swousers, but for now the Swirt/Skeater/Skiter will do.

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Save me January

It’s been a winter f*cking wonderland out there.

Winter-yard

I knew it was coming eventually, but I was feeling a little smug since it hadn’t happened here until a couple of weeks ago.

It’s not that I hate snow per se, it’s the immobility it causes.  Or like a bad pet, it’s not the beast itself at fault, but the owner.

Shovel your goddamn sidewalks!

I’m not doing well with the lack of light this year (I’m not sure I ever do, but this year feels like the worst ever) and I’m overjoyed with the arrival and passing of the winter solstice.

I’m not a fan of Christmas* either.

I’m just not into the religion, commercialism, consumerism, greedy children, gifts, worship of fat beardos (Santas, not you my bear friends), waste of materials and electricity, varieties of anxieties, bad music,  the pushing of the season to before Thanksgiving, and the food-sharing, traveling, and gathering of masses of breathing, snotting, vomiting bodies during the peak contagion period. But perhaps mostly because it is the deepest, darkest, dreariest time of year – and that is the reason people celebrate and I know worse winter weather is yet to come, but for me, the new year is what I’m excited for, and feel intense relief when it comes.  It signifies that the holidays are f*cking over, each day brings a few more seconds of light, and the anxieties and societal ho-ho-ho throat-cramming go away.

Winter-1970s

I sort of liked winter as a child.  However, I hated it as a very small child because of the tortures of plastic bread bags on my feet inside my boots and socks on my hands over my mittens.  I looked forward to Christmas, though my excitement was tempered with dread that it would all be over too soon, and a feeling of watching something beloved die.  In hindsight, my favorite day of the holiday season was St. Nick’s on December 6th when we woke to a few little presents in a sock – a tangerine, a couple of walnuts, a candy cane, and a little trinket like a flavored lip gloss or novelty eraser.  I loved the simplicity and the lack of anxiety surrounding the day and some connectedness with the past.  Didn’t the Little House on the Prairie girl savor only a nibble or two a day of her sole simple cookie gift?  Or one of those characters in one of those books…  Children can bizarrely identify with, and intensely feel, the grand sufferings of others – Anne Frank, dirt-farmer kids, sooty-city orphans – without ever having a moment of true sufferings themselves.  Or maybe it was just me and a f*cked-up upbringing in an old religion where suffering and self-martyrdom was supposed to be a good thing.  Either way, I still crave and appreciate the most simple aspects of the holiday – not much fuss and some citrus fruit.

candied citrus

And speaking of citrus and to break my no-cooking-in-the-blog-rule, I’ll share my candied peels.  They’re tasty but take a long time to make – mostly because of multiple blanchings to temper the bitterness and then the hour+ cooking time in simmering sugar water.  We needed some for a recipe but can’t find them in our suburban groceries – and if I did find them, I’m sure they’d be dyed and full of pesticides.  I used organic pink grapefruit, orange, and lemon, and cane sugar – and then dipped some in dark chocolate and rolled some in pecans for good measure.  (Yeah, the sugar coating is kinda clumpy, but whatever.)

And I am solidly anti-craft for the season.  I don’t want to make something only usable for a few weeks out of the year.  And I don’t really believe in exchanging gifts (especially to every known person) beyond a few edibles or drinkables.  However, over my lifespan I’ve made exactly one ornament, one stocking, and this tree skirt.

xmas skirt under tree

N has a soft spot for the holidays, and will occasionally erect a tree.  His tree needed a skirt and I didn’t have any appropriate fabric, nor wanted to waste a good yard or so on something that would be rarely used, so I cut up some felted/fulled sweater scraps.   I think my original plan was something like a penny rug, but the cutting took long enough, so I just tied it all together.

xmas skirt

I don’t know where it is now – probably in still in storage five hours away (and we no longer have lovely wood floors).

But things will be better soon, we’ll have the tiniest amount of more light day by day.  And we’ll eventually get out for some winter woods activities.

*Our Christmases are a pleasant low-key affair limited to time spent with just a few family members, good food, dogs, a cool kid, and walks, so I’m quite thankful and look forward to them.  It’s the larger sense of the season (and some past holiday events) I abhor.  My second favorite Christmases were the years I spent alone with Chinese take-out in a quiet apartment with the neighbors away – sounds bleak, but it was awesome and always the most productive few days of the year for me.

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