Monday, January 31, 2011

Winter's Beauties

I spotted this beautiful frame on a piece of open Eastern sky this morning when I was heading upstairs to the shower. Didn't have the camera with me(!) but luckily it was still there later (though the colour had changed from the light green it had been earlier).
We have had a snow day - a proper one, with schools, offices and businesses closed! And even though it has been blowing quite a bit the sheltered space we have built and grown over 20 years in this house means that the snow has stayed in place on the trees - and everything else. And in some places the warm sun has created actual icicles from the snow. It seems I do like winter!
Due to the snow day I did get seeds started - not on the actual snow day, as it happens, because I found my seed starter mixture frozen in a solid lump in the garage, where it has been fine until we had those few days of -17 weather. I brought it in to the house, and on Saturday was able to start my Rudbeckia "Cherry Brandy", and Delphinium Centurion Lilac (both from Thompson & Morgan) some Lavender augustifolia from Vesey's, and some (a FEW, of the many) Cleome seeds I collected last fall. I have so many I may just have to broadcast the rest somewhere and hope. The one thing I intended to plant, my F1 Hybrid everbearing strawberries (also from T &M), I can't FIND! I remember getting the packet out to look at the germination instructions, and then I set it down somewhere and it got - I suppose - tidied away. I am being forced to spring clean just in the hope of finding it again - I am sure they should be planted in January...and today is the last possible day!
On Saturday I checked the weather (on my iPod Touch) and discovered that the relatively mild week we had been anticipating has been replaced by another spell in the deep-freeze. The temperature will be in the negative 'teens all week, with corresponding N and NW winds to bring the wind chill down to the negative 'twenties. Thank goodness for a large stash of yarn and an infinite number of patterns to go with it.
On the knitting front, I've decided I must finish up Alister's "60th Birthday" Kilt Hose, as his birthday is just over a month away. I did the fancy cuff, and now am working on the ribbed garter - and after that, it will be straight travel knitting, K5P1 rib until I start the decreases for the calf. Don't know why it took me over a year to finish the first one!!
And I have three cowls and two pairs of mitts finished - only - hmmm - 7 or 8 more sets to go? They do work up quickly, when I concentrate.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Deep, deeper, deepest

    Brrr, it is COLD! We've had just two days of -16 degrees, complete with WNW winds around 40 k. making for just above -30 with wind chill. It's hard to get the house up to temp. (around 20 is nice) in the morning when we get up and in the evening when we get home. This is where being a knitter really pays. Throw on another sweater, and another couple of logs into the furnace! Our wood is quite big this year, and rather more white birch than we usually see, which isn't good. It doesn't have the heating capacity of beech or maple. The one advantage: it is self-kindling!
    We've been to Halifax, and I made another visit to LK Yarns while there. I've decided to make up a few sets of cowl (or scarf) plus fingerless gloves (I hate doing fingers, especially finishing them) for next Christmas, so I've been trolling my stash to find appropriate yarns. I found a fingering-weight alpaca in bright red, which I bought at The Loop a while ago, and made a Yarn Harlot Pretty Thing with Fishtail wristwarmers to go with. The Pretty Thing was easy, and I THOUGHT the wristwarmers were as well, but the second ended up shorter than the first, so it is on the frog-and-reknit list. No big deal. Then I bought three skeins of Balmoral, a wool-alpaca-silk DK, and made an Eleanor cowl and a pair of mitts with one of the motifs on the back of the hand. They are quite short, so I'm not sure how much I like them.
   Anyway, I was on the hunt for more fingering-weight yarns for cowls at LK Yarns. I am always so overwhelmed by choice when I'm there (compared to Owl's Hollow) that I am not sure I make good selections. However, I got some Cascade Yarns solid royal blue, a skein of Estelle Arequipa in oranges, Classic Elite Alpaca Sox in burgundy, and a skein of Fiddlestix Knitting silk in a light purple. It is halfway or more to being another Pretty Thing. I fell for a mystery skein of turquoise merino-and-angora laceweight too - 1000 metres! Whatever will that become, I wonder.
Then an couple of days later an order I'd made early in January to Knit Picks arrived. Mostly lace weight (2 skeins each colour, or 880 metres) in a medium gray, burgundy, bright red and basalt - which is a greyish-purplish. They are all heather colours. And two skeins of sockweight - in a lovely brown mix called "Kindling" and a blue mix. They are tonal colours so no mad stripes or pooling to contend with. Now, if only I didn't have to work, and could just cozy up at home and knit to my heart's content!
   I've been signed up for the 11 shawls in 2011 - even though I didn't get the 10 in 2010 finished - I just had seven completed. However, seven is pretty good! I must try to do more of the really small ones - just shoulder-size or scarf-like...Then I should be able to complete.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In The Bleak Midwinter

We have had another snowfall - actually with plenty of warnings, so we were all hopeful that we would have a Snow Day today - however, the wind promised did not materialize, so we just bravely swept and shovelled and went in to work. Rats! I have knitting I could be busy with right now!
The snow was sticky (it was barely minus 1 degree at the worst) so it stuck to the tiniest of branches. It has changed to wet snow/rain now, so most of the beauty is dribbling away.
I am getting right to work on next winter's Christmas presents, so I have a beautiful bright red fingering-weight alpaca which I'm almost finished making into a cowl and matching fingerless gloves. They are lacy and fine, which looks super with the red. I really should have photographed it in the snow, to make it look properly festive. Perhaps I will when all 3 pieces are done. I'm at work on the final glove now.
The cowl is The Yarn Harlot's "Pretty Thing" which I bought and downloaded from Ravelry. I really appreciate the convenience of this online shopping lark! And I also liked that I got to keep this pattern in my downloads - I bought a pattern from Fibre Trends before Christmas and you only get to see it - and print it - once before it disappears. I must put it in a page protector before it gets destroyed (I tend to be pretty hard on my patterns, lugging them about and stuffing them into various bags, etc.) But "Pretty Thing" is mine forever! And it truly is pretty. I may even use my precious skein of Qviuk to make one - for me!
Now that I've decided to make cowl+gloves sets, I'm looking at my stash and realizing that I really don't have much in the gorgeous hand-dyed fingering weight - most of my sock yarn is boring plain colours. However, a trip to Halifax next week may remedy this.