Monday, February 23, 2015

more of a good thing

My latest knitting project is coming along about as quickly as one might expect when knitting with sock needles. Fortunately, I enjoy the process and am in no rush to finish. It's very pleasant to have a little indoor project to turn to when outdoor projects have left me chilled to the core and feeling not at all productive or energetic. Every row of knitting - each stitch, even - has the effect of making a knitter feel one step further along a little journey.

 Sometimes the journey is so enjoyable, and/or the destination so satisfying, that one decides to take that same trail again. That's why I am revisiting the Waving Lace sock pattern by Evelyn A. Clark.

Waving Walnut, June 2011

In 2011, when Violet and Lily of the Valley were just 10 days old, they helped document some handknit socks for my ravelry project page, linked above.


I was pleased with everything about these socks, not just the fit. The "lace" stitch pattern (which, in knitting, means there are holes in it on purpose) struck a nice balance between simple and interesting. I had made a successful modification, which felt quite bold at that point in my knitting "career." And the yarn was the result of one of my first experiments in botanical dyeing.

Black Walnut - still my favorite.

On the topic of patterns...

There are many wonderful knit designers out there,
and I admire and follow many of them.
But to be honest, I rarely buy a pattern.
I hasten to add: I never steal one.

It's simply an economic decision at this time, and if I knew the meaning of the phrase "disposable income," I would gladly support more designers. I'd like to.
 As it is, for every pattern I buy, I probably download thirty that are offered for free. Available and easy to locate, thanks to ravelry.

But sometimes I just feel such an urge to make a particular pattern...
which was the case with Waving Lace and with the Embossed Leaves sock pattern by Mona Schmidt. So I bought the book that includes both these patterns and several others.

It's a very nice book, and I don't know why I later gave it away.
What was I thinking?

Possibly it was February.

Good news!

I recently discovered the digital version of this pattern book is available through interlibrary loan! Huzzah! And bonus: the new socks are being knit with a skein from "deep stash" - which I recently decided qualifies as "housecleaning."

Because I'm "decluttering" one skein of yarn, you see.

Also because: February.
I am now cutting myself a break at every opportunity.

The original socks and the new WIP:

The yarns are very similar - no really, they are - 
but you can certainly see the difference in a "lace" sock that was been washed and blocked, and one still on the needles. I think the Waving Lavender socks will also open up and soften.
But we'll see!
Knitting is full of surprises.

How about you, fellow makers of things?
Do you often make the same thing slightly differently?
Do you ever revisit a trail?

Right now, I'm dreaming of revisiting this one:

Probably wearing handknit socks.

Friday, February 20, 2015

bought myself a present

Yesterday I bought myself $200-worth of this:

because this:

 It's not the weight of the snow on the roof that drove my decision to clear it, though the weight is a real concern this year.

I fretted about it, but was prepared to tough it out
and trust that the century-old roof would hold up under the weight of the unusually heavy snowload.

No, this was the deciding factor:

Which soon became this:

Ice damming was causing trapped meltwater on the roof
to find its way down through the walls.
And with all that snow still on the roof,
the meltwater flow was just beginning.

I called the carpenter who worked on my porch to ask if he could recommend someone to clear my roof.
He offered to come and do the job himself.

He said of all the roofs he has ever shoveled,
my roof had the most massive ice dams
he has ever seen.

I was so proud.

(Not really.)

In case you are not familiar with ice dams,
they happen when the snow on a roof begins to melt, often because of warmth rising through the roof from the house beneath, but also when the weather warms up a tiny bit. That meltwater trickles down the slope, under the snow, and either makes it over the edge of the roof to become icicles or freezes into a ridge of ice parallel to the low edge of the roof. If conditions remain the same, the ice builds up into a solid wedge. Meltwater that becomes trapped behind it begins to seek an alternate downward route. Under shingles. Through walls.

Here's a good view of a dangerous thing: 

Ice dam under snow - see the wedge? 

Same dam, snow removed.

The carpenter worked hard for over two hours.
I was very happy to have him here,
and I was happier still when he got off the roof.
It's steeper than it looks.
In past years I've always cleaned the chimney myself,
and I've done other work on the roof from time to time.
But at no point in my life would I have cheerfully
gotten up on that roof with a snow shovel.

Money well spent.

Gosh, what a winter.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

lucky number

There were 74 names in the giveaway drawing, and the random sequence generator did it's stuff this morning.

The winner is #5:

Congratulations, Boud!
I hope you will enjoy your new constellation.
(Will the Dollivers claim naming rights?)
Email or ravPM your mailing address, and I will send your stars the very next time I can get to the Post Office. Lately that's been once/week on Saturday, so it may take a while...
but they'll be a-coming!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway.
I'm enjoying meeting new blogfolk thanks to Vicki's GYB Party,
and it's especially nice to see new names popping up in the comments!

Well, my "work" here is done.
Time to wade through the new
- and still falling -
water buckets in hand.

Have a peaceful Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

a quick reminder

In case you forgot what falling snow looks like:

taken a few minutes ago.

But that's not really what I wanted to remind you about...
it's that the Grow Your Blog Party giveaway entries
close tonight at midnight, Eastern Time.

So if you haven't already done so,
you might wish to leave a comment on the giveway post.
Tomorrow I will make a numbered list of commenters
and use to select the winning number.

And I will post the winner's name on the blog tomorrow!

Good luck  :)

And a big "thank you" to everyone who expressed interest


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

that's entertainment

Need slippers?

Step 1:
knit giant clown-sized wooly footbags. 

Step 2:
throw them in the washer with very hot water.
Cross fingers and hope for the best:

Step 3 (optional):
make a before-and-after composite
for full comedic effect.

What, doesn't everybody measure their knitting
with a Biltmore stick?
(It just happened to be handy.)

And here's a rav link to full project details for felted slippers.
You may want to try it!
First it will make you laugh,
then it will keep your feet warm.
How many things can you say that about?

Saturday, February 7, 2015


(Pssst: Looking for the Grow Your Blog post? It's right here.)


This is how cold it has been lately.

These days, I often remind myself to "focus in."
Keep my mind on little things.
Small, manageable tasks.
Small, quantifiable achievements.

It seems like a good way to stay positive and avoid becoming overwhelmed by...well, anything.

Just before falling asleep,
I try to jot down one thing I've done that day,
that I feel good about.
One day it was finishing some onerous paperwork.
Twice - on two separate days -
it was successfully extricating the little green sportswagon
from a mound of deep snow.

One day last week, it was cooking this squash:

The biggest of the Sow True Seed Pink Jumbo Banana squash
raised as part of the 2014 "Reporter At Large" planting project
hosted by my blogfriend Tipper at Blind Pig and the Acorn.

The three varieties of winter squash I planted in my garden all produced so little and so much later than everyone else's, I was not much use as a reporter! But eventually I harvested a few squash and carefully saved them for Winter.

Which is certainly here.

Isn't it time for a little color?
Or a LOT of color?

Isn't this refreshing to the eye?

Everything about cooking this squash -
the weight of it, the colors,
the lovely fresh smell -
reminded me so happily of the garden.
The sun, the rain, the aching back, the sweat.
The magic.

Summer in the garden, August 2014 

Summer in a bowl, February 2015

And nothing was wasted,
which is always satisfying!
The seeds were cleaned and saved
for eating or planting.
The fibrous core was a treat for the hens,
who appreciate fresh vegetables in the winter
as much as I do.
And who always eat organic, even when I do not.
Happily, this time we all did.

And now, it's time to bring out my Deep Winter Survival Strategy:
the 2015 seed catalogs!

I do not even peek at them until February.

We are expecting two more days of snowstorm.
It is definitely time for the seed catalogs.

And a continued focus on little things.


Thursday, February 5, 2015


The little birds have found the feeder again.

Early in the morning, before the sun is up - 
hence these dark pictures -

they begin to appear, perching atop branches
and clinging vertically to the icicles hanging over the windows,
awaiting their chance to swoop in.

Some are willing to share.
Some are not.

But sooner or later,
everyone has a turn.


There has been a lot more snow this week,
and also some snowstorm knitting.
Bundled up in the big chair by the parlor window.

With entertainment.

It has been so brutally cold lately,
I've been feeding the squirrels.
It helps keep them from going insane
trying to winkle seeds out of the bird feeder.
We all need a little help from time to time -
don't we? - 
to keep from going insane.
In February.

Which is why I made a handknit "cozy"
for my hot water bottle.

Do you use hot water bottles?
Or do you associate them with Wodehouse-era pranks
and slapstick calamities?
I used to be in the Wodehouse/calamity camp,
having never seen or heard of a hot water bottle in actual use.

But after reading a thread on ravelry
where many Irish and British and European ravellers
gently expressed their surprise that everyone doesn't
routinely use hot water bottles...
I bought one online in 2008
and became a convert.

Encasing one's hwb in a woolen cozy
will help it retain heat for much, much longer.
So wouldn't you think I'd have knitted one a bit sooner?
I have no excuse.
Until now, my hardworking hwb has been
wrapped unceremoniously in an old polarfleece pillowcase.

Well, not anymore!
I began this project for
the Stitched Together Random Rummage Craft-a-Long
and finished it in four days.
It still needs a light steam blocking
to even out those wonky stitches...
but it's pretty cozy, alright!

I hope you are faring well, whatever your February weather.

Try to stay warm if it's cold
and cool if it's hot.

And whatever you do...

don't run out of hay.