Happy almost-solstice! As of tomorrow, the sunlight hours will start getting longer again. I’m ready. Even though it doesn’t seem like they improve much until after the end of February.
There will be no mail or newspaper delivery today. The school superintendent has apologized to parents for not canceling school yesterday before mid-afternoon. A friend’s annual solstice party has been postponed until early January, because none of us can get out of our houses to attend.
Here’s what it looks like outside the door this morning, same basic view as yesterday:
Tussah’s preferred way of dealing with inclement weather (or sunshine, for that matter):
At Tussah’s previous home, she had a different name that did not suit her. She was also left in a shed with a heated waterbowl for comfort. Her owners wondered how in the world she managed to scale their six-foot fence to escape. Therefore they consigned her to the shed. She chewed her way out of that and was picked up several times, by several people, while trying to cross a heavy-traffic street. She obviously had in mind a quest for more congenial digs.
Ms. Little Bit’s ideal situation during a blizzard:
Ms. Bit is nineteen and weighs about six pounds. A spot in the corner behind a spinning wheel suits her fine. When she’s not downstairs knocking papers off my desk.
(There’s a tiny image of The Empress of the Universe in the new edition of Knitting in the Old Way on page 303.)
I think it’s a great day for writing random things and knitting:
However, I am (and probably will remain) in the office doing layout. Yesterday I changed the trim size of next fall’s book from 7×9 to 7×10, and the pages are now laying out much more gracefully. Changing trim sizes is not as straightforward a task as it should be, but now it’s done and I’m ready to forge on. I’m grateful for the snow: it gave me a "time out" to make this shift just as the idea occurred to me that the change might solve several recurring problems.
When this photo was taken, Ariel, the Border collie cross, had already been outside (in back: the front was impassable, even for Ari). She brought in a bunch of snowballs in her fur. Although Ari was found abandoned and nearly frozen in a field at the approximate age of seven weeks (along with two siblings: all survived), she loves snow. Her brain is 100 percent Border collie. She holds an obedience title and she adored agility until we made her stop because she has arthritis. The fur and the ears suggest some spaniel influence. She would like to go out again, please:
When we were walking the dogs last night for the second time, cars were getting stuck in the middle of the street. Before we began our walk, we helped dig out and then push-to-move a sedan and a Suburban, both of which ultimately made it the necessary half-block to their homes before they slid into the gutter.
We could only comfortably walk in the center of the road and we had to dive into the drifts when a car would come careening around a corner. There weren’t many cars out, of course. The general silence—all sounds muffled by the snow, fallen and falling—made it hard to hear the engines or tires of those that were indeed moving.
It’s a good thing we did walk the dogs when we could. R. says that, according to channel 7, our locale now officially has 25 inches of snow, and that’s not measured in the drifted areas.
While we were out, I discovered that qiviut is not just soft and beautiful. It’s incredibly practical.
When we turned north, the wind-whipped stinging flakes made the venture miserable, possibly even dangerous. I pointed out that we were not quite halfway around our usual circuit and if we turned around we would be home faster. R. wanted to push on. Either way, it looked like my face was going to hurt for another twenty minutes because we weren’t able to walk as quickly as usual. (The dogs’ opinions at the time: Even Tussah seemed to be enjoying herself. Ariel was downright grinning.)
I pulled up half of my qiviut gaiter so it covered my mouth and nose . . . well, between gaiter and hat, everything except a slit for my eyes was covered.
Not only did the gaiter improve my comfort level to the point where I wasn’t thinking frostbite, frostbite, frostbite, I discovered something magical about qiviut.
You can breathe through it.
I have never liked to pull a scarf or balaclava over my face, except when there was no other way to avoid painful exposure to cold. I don’t like the sense of being closed in. I’ve lived in far northern states where I’ve reluctantly put up with the feeling of being smothered.
Having the qiviut over my face was a completely different experience: warmth without the sense of being trapped.
Less than one ounce of qiviut = miracle. My neck stayed nice and warm, too. I have a tiny bit of frostnip that wouldn’t be there if I’d thought of the pulled-up gaiter trick a half-block earlier. Next time I’ll know!
R. just came in with the announcement that "it’s not great, but it’s legal!" One of our city’s laws is that sidewalks must be cleared within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall. It’s part of the criminal, not civil, code, although they’re talking about changing it to civil. Does this requirement always make sense? No. And I figured today was one of those days when no one from the city would be out writing summonses. But yes, we’re legal. Here’s what R. had to shovel just to get to the sidewalk (yes, I shoveled yesterday, big help that was):
Now she’s warmed up enough to do her morning exercise routine, even though she didn’t get to take a walk with the dogs.
Before I got out of bed this morning, I did some writing and then started the narrow-band patterning on the body of my Norsk Strikkedesign-inspired sweater. The rows are long in the body so the progress is slower than on the sleeves, but I expect I’ll finish that bit of patterning (and start doing whatever I do for the armholes) between other activities today.
I have no precise idea what was going on with the stitch counts when I started the narrow band on the body. I counted the stitches a couple of times and planned how to start and end the design in order to have the motif centered on the back and mirrored across the front opening, but when I went to work the first row I needed to increase one stitch at each side seam to accommodate my plan. There should have been a one-stitch discrepancy. I don’t know why I was two short instead of one. However, I’d rather increase one stitch at each side than one stitch at one side, not that it makes any difference for a garment that will be worn on a body that is not precisely symmetrical anyway. Only the most perfectionistic person (which I can sometimes be) would care.
In a snowstorm, anything that gets a warm sweater closer to done (and gives me more actual knitting time) is good. Including a bit of fudging no one will notice and I’ll forget about.
And now I’m going to mess with that layout some more.