my winter

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red-leaf rose

I saw a big, fat bunny eating my rose bush this morning. We sent the dogs outside to chase him away, but today will definitely be the day I block off his access point to the back yard. The red-leaf rose, I know, won’t mind the pruning because it’s almost a wild rose.

Everything outside is covered with a new dusting of snow. Really pretty yesterday, when I was skiing through it. As we getting our skis on, a gentleman that was just finishing his trek called out to us, saying that the trails were very good this morning, and told us we’d have a great ski. It was the best yet. We’ve skied in -17°C with a -25°C windchill; we’ve skied in +5°C, and yesterday was a perfect -10°C with no wind.

That dusting of snow, though, was a bit of a hazard driving last night. Each and every intersection was a skating rink. We headed out for folk dance practice, which was great, but I was very glad when we got home safe! It’s rare for both the anti-lock brakes and the traction control to come on while stoping and starting at the same stop sign!

January has been all over the map, weather-wise, and it has been much the same with the making, crafting and cleaning around here. I’ve been feeling a bizarre need to quantify time spent at home this month, and all I can say is that I’ve read some good books, knit two touques, got half done on a new sweater for me (with brand new yarn! “yarn and soul” superfine alpaca!) and I’ve done a lot of hand washing and blocking of wool knits that really needed it…such as my 10 year old Icelandic sweater…I sewed a couple lined pencil cases with really old zippers that I got from my mom. The zippers are from the Canadian “Lightning Fastener Company,” not the YKK brand, which I thought was pretty cool. I’m in the middle of trying to design a pencil case for Elena that will accommodate a separate pocket for a round pencil sharpener, interior pockets to keep her pens and pencils upright, and another pocket for her calculator, and another for her cue cards (it’s a study aid) and erasers and such. I can’t believe I just went from, “I don’t remember how to sew in a zipper” to “I’m going to have to design it myself.” Since she just finished exams and has a day off today and tomorrow, we’ll be working on that while I write a sermon for Sunday (the regular minister is on study leave) and I can’t forget the Drivers Ed parent meeting tonight…yes, she’s going to start driving soon!

February really should be the month I make a more organized effort on it all…just as soon as I’m done the sweater and Chadd’s socks…

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by the half-hour

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garden in autumn

Having a break from working for two months (winter in Manitoba!) one would think that by this time, I’d have a truck-load of finished crafts and a very clean house with a well-fed family.

Nothing farther from the truth.

Some days I do actually want to get things done. And some days, I do! I keep a notebook with ideas, I research things on the Internet for inspiration and technique, and there are times where I actually get to execute the ideas I have in my head!

Some days, I can’t see the project for the distractions.

This seems to be one of those days, as hard as I am trying. (Yesterday was definitely one of those days.)

What I like to (try to) do on these funny, distracting days, is to set the kitchen timer for half-hour increments.  In half an hour, I get it do what I get to do, and then I move on to something else.  If I get derailed by dog, phone calls, visits, texts, or must-do-right-now mom requests, I just re-set the timer.

It can work, this funny system, but mostly it just stops me from knitting and reading for eight hours straight!

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experimentation

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A happy accident to find the pattern…isn’t it sweet? I love a good, tight-fitting touque to wear under my hood when I’m all bundled up, and with a few modifications, this was just the thing. And a perfect fit. The thick-and-thin yarn made the cables interesting, one fatter on the one side than the other. I’m really happy with it. The yarn is merino; the next attempt will be in the blue/grey alpaca, and also be the slouchy style as the pattern is written.

Merino, to me, tends to be a bit more of a defined, squishy yarn, but also tends to pill. On the hat, I’m sure it will be fine. The alpaca tends to flop; for me, it is a soft but shapeless yarn. Which is interesting, because the alpaca that I bought from that farm in Quebec is anything but shapeless. It even held a lace pattern really well. Still drapes well, but has great stitch definition, and blocked well, too. I’m thinking that since the Quebec yarn was handspun, it was more tightly plied than the commercially prepared alpaca.

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That scarf took ages to knit…the stitch pattern defied me at every opportunity…I had to obsessively count the stitches on the purl row to make sure I had them all accounted for…most times not! The pattern was a free hand-out at the wool shop. I guess I’m just not dedicated enough for lace!

There are more projects going, for sure. Still Chadd’s socks, which are 3 cm away from starting the decreases for the calf, and oh dear, it just appears that I bought more yarn for a sweater for me!

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pruned

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Tor spirea in spring

Working at a garden centre, I am always asked if pruning of shrubs should be done in the spring or fall. I never, ever prune in the fall, because with our winters, there will always be die-back over the winter. It’s easier to see what will come back in the spring.

Looking into the back yard this morning, I realized that my rose bush had suddenly, mysteriously lost half its height, as had the Nanking cherry, and the spireas.

Tell-tale bunny footprints revealed that I have a furry friend who didn’t agree with my pruning practices, and is offering his assistance, whether I want it or not. I’m going to have to block his access to the yard, pronto, or find a way to make some rabbit stew!

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creative mess

I am thrilled with the fabric, Chadd’s socks need to get to 26cm before I can start the decreases, and that mitt will get ripped out for one of my own creation. I’m just not sure what.  Knitting…I love knitting in winter, sitting in the living room with the sun strong and warm on my back!  It makes it hard to get up and deal with the other messes that need cleaning and things that need doing!

Sonja was just as excited about the fabric, because I bought it with the idea of making her a pencil case for university. I have so many small zippers, and I’d like to make it lined. I’m not so sure about my skill without instructions, though. Especially with the lining.

She really made me laugh, yesterday, as she was trying to pay her tuition. I had instructed her to call the bank, to let them know she would need an increase on her debit limit for the day. She did, but her new bank card wasn’t activated. She called me, and I told her to call the bank again. She got it activated, and then proceeded to freeze her card by bungling the security question. She called me again, and I told her to call the bank again. At the end of it all, she managed to pay her tuition, and figure out a bit about financial independence. Life lessons for the 18 year old; I like it.

Elena made me laugh all day yesterday, with her Spanish video assignment. It was a recipe, made in a kitchen, filmed with a script to mimic a cooking show. It was hilarious; she is such an actress and together with her friend that had been assigned the project, it was just the best, as I watched it over and over.

And now it’s time to add a new ball of yarn to the growing sock project.  If I get a few more sunny days like this, I’ll be starting the heel in no time…

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for now

Is the residue of Christmas the reason that I can’t seem to move forward with all my great plans?  Or is it the desperate cold that makes my head ache as soon as I stick it out the door?

It could be that I have managed to be somewhat busy, but just not with things that will clear my head or my plate.  I finished reading Chocolat and am still working my way through The Art of Fielding.  Chadd’s socks have progressed, but I also started a thick wool mitt in Alafoss Lopi that may have to get ripped out.

Friday was cross-country skiing with my boss, about 5k on a very nice trail.  Friday night, however, we got some terrible news…our neighbour (and friend) had passed away suddenly, earlier in the week.  Saturday was a quiet day, but we went to the fabric store to look at Melton wool, and I found some canvas in a London print.  I am looking forward to making some small zippered pouches.  Saturday night…

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A concert by a great kid and his band, as a fundraiser for some members of our church. Sunday was church, and after, my kitchen was a Spanish television studio set, as Elena and her friend recorded a very funny skit about making salsa. And today was a crazy basset wrangling morning, as contractors came and replaced the chimney. Lots of phone calls in the afternoon, and the funeral in the evening.

Tomorrow is Chadd’s 45th birthday, and, well. I’m looking forward to a great day.  It’s gonna be fun!

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nap-time

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Yawn!

I wish there was a way to catch up on all the sleep I lose over the summer. I wish that I could have a set nap-time, just for January and February, the cold, slow times of the year. Snuggling with a puppy is so truly decadent, and so very warm. But the timing always seems to be a bit off, these days.

Instead of the nap, I finished a book and a scarf yesterday; the scarf had been a made up pattern that loosely followed the Baktus scarf.  I made it out of a left-over slubby grey silk, and yellow and rust wool.  Stripes and stitch patterning, and I learned a few things just by playing.  Even though the silk and the wool were the same weight, they did knit up differently.  The silk was loose and irregular, the wool crisp, tight and even.  It was even more interesting striping them together.  I am happy with how it turned out.  It’s still drying after its bath.

The book was The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham. I was surprised by the path of the story, and disappointed. Perhaps it will make a better movie than a book. I picked it up at the library, along with The Art of Fielding (which has me absolutely gripped by the characters), and Ishmael’s Oranges, which I haven’t started yet.

I have to get motivated to do more than read and knit, though…tomorrow?

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