Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February Wish List

Well, here we are at the end of February, with the Olympics over and no end to winter in sight. Time for my FEBRUARY WISH LIST. I wish:
1. I could go for a walk in shoes, not heavy winter boots, not rubber boots, just plain shoes.
2. I could go out the door without taking five minutes to suit up in scarf, hat, gloves + mittens, coat, and the aforementioned boots.
3. I could walk on an actual sidewalk--not on solid ice or through squishy snow or ankle-deep in slush.
4. I could go for a bike ride. Yes, I do see some intrepid winter cyclists out there, but really, do you think that's safe? I mean, one little skid on a slippery bit of road and there you are under the wheels of an SUV.
5. I could walk on the sunny side of the street and feel some warmth from the sun. Warmth? What's that?
6. I could see something green and growing. Sure, we have evergreens, and my neighbour has a nice euonymous trained to arch over her front door, but our climate is too harsh for English Ivy  and hollies to thrive, so there's precious little green out there.
Not to be a complete curmudgeon, on the plus side,
1. All this winter means we get to wear our knits and shamelessly keep on making more.
2. The days are getting quite noticeably longer. There was still a bit of sunshine at 6:00 pm yesterday.
3. It's an excuse to try out my latest cookbook acquisition. The thing I really love about it is that there are a lot of "quasi-recipes", i.e. loose suggestions for combinations of ingredients without exact numbers. It seems that I like the same things in cookbooks as in knitting patterns!
Last week we had a brief melt. It was enough to lull us into thinking spring was right around the corner and to melt the worst of our icicles off the eaves.

The mice (or bats?) have not reappeared, although I'm not holding my breath on that. Time will tell. Gary laid some bait in our attic, but there's been nary a sound up there.
On the knitting front, I've been working hard on things I can't show on the blog.

 Today, I get to move on to new things. Wait, isn't tax filing season upon us again? Maybe it's time to start my MARCH WIST LIST....

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Olympics, BW, and Me

Olympic fever is upon us. I'm increasingly cynical about the whole thing--the IOC with its perks and priorities, the politics, the advertising--I could go on. Then somehow, I pull it up on my screen and I'm mesmerized. This marks the first Olympics here in Canada when the entire thing can be watched live for free sans TV. I'm watching on the CBC's website and now and then via its mobile app. Very liberating for one such as I without cable or satellite TV. (It's not that we actually "unplugged"; the truth is that we were never really plugged in at all. When we lived in the US, we watched network TV over the air before things went digital, and when we moved back to Canada we couldn't quite get ourselves to shuck out the money for TV, given the shift away from quality content to reality TV programming.)
So, here I am watching the figure skating team competition. Just me, a pair of dpns, a couple of balls of Rowen Felted Tweed DK, and Barbara Walker's first two treasuries. Seems like the perfect time for some swatching.

The Treasuries must be every designer's desert island books. Or in my case, bathtub books. They're not beautifully photographed--just black and white--but they are the largest, best collection of stitch patterns in existence. Endless entertainment and food for inspiration.
It seems that my fear that there would be no "winter" for the winter games was without foundation. We could really use a little less of it here. I don't think there's been a day without flurries for months. Every time we look outdoors, snowflakes are drifting down and we heave a collective sigh. James is getting good use out of his birthday knits, as you can see.

Here he is shoveling a path between our compost bin and the gate to the street. Too bad there's no Olympics for snow shoveling. Canada would be at the top of the podium for sure!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Of Mice (or Bats?) and Men

There's an animal somewhere in our walls. It doesn't seem to be able to get into the house, but we can hear little clawed feet at night and it's creeping me out. I suppose one should expect this sort of thing in a 172-year-old house in a bad winter, but that doesn't mean we have to live with it. So, I called Gary, an expert on unwelcome wildlife. He brought his ladder and very carefully, very skillfully, climbed up in the narrow space between our house and the next, and caulked the only opening he could find and attached a one-way exit bag. He's grinning in the first shot, so entertained was he by his ridiculously precarious position. Good to have a sense of humour, I guess.

There's a good chance it's bats, since we don't hear noises every night and there've been no incursions into the house. In the meantime, I've been sleeping on the futon in the library, where I can't hear anything except the ploughs going by at 3 a.m.
And on the subject of ploughs, for those of you who don't live in a place with massive quantities of snow on a regular basis, here's how we manage to carry on (having lived for 16 years in Washington, DC, where even the suggestion of snow sets off mass hysteria, I know what it's like to live in a place that's unprepared to cope). First, we have rules about parking. No overnight parking on the street between December and the end of March. If you don't have a driveway (and we don't), you have to rent space nearby, for at least those four months of the year. The bonus is that if you're paying for parking space, then you're also paying for someone else to clear the snow from around your vehicle. Not a bad thing. The reason we have parking restrictions is because most of the ploughing is done at night when the roads are free of vehicles, and the sidewalks are free of people. Yes, we have sidewalk ploughs, something unheard of farther south. Here's the nice job the snow elves did last night while we were tucked into our beds.

Looking up the street from our front door.
Looking down toward the lake from our front door.
My shawl is progessing, but not enough for any sort of dramatic photos. It still looks like a rumpled heap of grey nothingness.
To keep my spirits up, I'm planning a new design for Shelridge's W4.

Just looking at all this colour in early February has to be therapeutic for the winter soul. That's a good thing because apparently, we're under yet another snow squall watch.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ugly Duckling

With Wheatsheaves done, I'm moving on with my sampler shawl. It's meant to be a "working" shawl, one to keep me warm while I'm sitting at my computer in my not-so-warm third-floor library.

The knitting is soothingly simple, with every other row purled across. The repeat is short--just twelve stitches--because the idea is that the whole thing is to be customizable in length (remember, it's a long rectangle). This should be finished soon. It'll look a lot better, and less like a puckered bit of nothing, when blocked. Lace is all about the transformation from ugly duckling to swan.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


On this grey, wintry afternoon, I lit a fire in the fireplace,

and made a pot of tea.

Then I invited Isabel to try on her new cardigan. We were challenged by the lack of daylight, but we persevered. I might be getting better at sweater photos.

For this last photo I had Isabel stand up on our deep windowsill. It worked, as we attempted to squeeze every last bit of light out of the afternoon. Wheatsheaves is now available in my Ravelry store.
P.S. As of 10:30 Monday morning, Wheatsheaves is in Ravelry's top 20 most viewed. Thank you.