Friday, February 25, 2011

can we shift this line just a bit, please?

Just a little bit to the north, please? I don't mind rain - it'll melt down the huge, dirty snowbanks. But I really don't need more snow.

K? Thnxbai.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

a knitting saga...

It all started with this gorgeous sweater. I got it at the Salvation Army store for all of about $4. I mean... really! And, it's green!

Look at the workmanship! The wool on the inside was twisted after every stitch, so not only is it really, really warm, there are no loops for my fingers to get stuck in. And note that the neckband and the button bands are crocheted, not ribbed... makes them very snug and they keep their shape perfectly. Pity I can't crochet.

So during the volcanic eruptions in Iceland last year, I saw an image of an Icelander leading his pony to safety, and he had on this gorgeous sweater in shades of blue. I got a hankering to have a similar sweater. Alas, one cannot compel the perfect sweater to turn up in the thrift store on command... but wait! I was only a few weeks away from finishing my MA... I could MAKE one! I bought the wool, and got knitting. I finished the sweater at my cousin Geraldine's house in England, and when I got home, I entered it into the Fair. I won a 3rd place ribbon... the first place winner was not only a stunning Fisherman's pattern, but the knitter was also the alpaca raiser who'd shorn and spun her own yarn. She won fair and square. (I don't recall who won 2nd place. I was too boggled by the 1st place sweater!)

Behold the shades-of-blue sweater. I do love it!

While I was in England, I stopped into my favorite wool shop in the Shambles in York, formerly called "Sheepish" but under new management as "Ramshambles". Exercising superhuman restraint, I came home with only one skein of wool, with the intent to learn to make socks. When Karelia came to visit in August, she got me started.

Alas that I did not read the directions! I ribbed and ribbed on freaking tiny, toothpick-diameter double-pointed needles. Then I realized that I had two choices: I could either rip out several inches of that wretched ribbing (ugh!) or I could deal with the fact that I would have to rib that much again on the mate, when I made it. I couldn't deal with it, and I had some of the gorgeous, soft, cream wool left, so...

I raided my stash of Lopi up in the attic and started another Icelandic sweater. I looked through all the pattern books I have on hand, and didn't find a cardigan pattern I liked better, so I did the same pattern again. Alas, I ran out of the cream wool and had to buy more.

Once I'd finished it, I thought about starting the Fisherman's sweater I've been hoping to make... I've got the wool - rich, deep green - I know you're astonished beyond words - but honestly, cables terrify me. And I was tired. And it was cold. And the children were home for two snow days in a row. So... I could have dealt with the sock problem. Did I?

Heck no! I started a third Icelandic sweater. There was, after all, lots of the cream wool left over, y'know?

I can see already that this cream wool is going to end up like my Grandpa Chandler's mashed potatoes and gravy. He never could get them to come out even. He'd take more potatoes, then run out of gravy. He'd put on more gravy, then run out of potatoes. With any luck, I'll end up with Icelandics in every color of the rainbow before I give up!

Because I'm made of awesome... or at least, I'm filled with awesome - now!

If you're hungry on a cold night in New England, here are some recommended procedures:

First, own a really cool, vintage, fully-restored, 1909 Glenwood K cookstove.
Ain't it purty?

Yes, I'm bragging. I'd apologize, but it'd be insincere.

Next, feed nice dry wood into the firebox until it's nice and hot. The oven was about 300* F at this point. Then take a dozen and a half fresh eggs from your hens. Separate the first dozen, and give the yolks to the dogs. Then crack the last 6 and put the whole egg into the pan. Add fresh raw milk, and whisk well. Toss in some salt, garlic, and onion. Rummage around in your fridge and find some gruyere and some manchego. Grate them finely, and mix the egg/milk/cheese goop up well. Then take a pound of fresh asparagus, chop it into 1" pieces, and mix the pieces into the goop. Put the pan into the cookstove's 300* oven and ignore it for an hour or so.

Voila! A really exquisite crustless quiche. It was obscenely good :)


So it's been snowing here in New England. I mean, that's not normally news, but the volume we have had, combined with the temperatures, well, we've made the national news. So here are some pix from before the latest storm. The rabbits' coats are SO thick and warm this year!

This is rime ice. This is what happens when fog (or steam) freezes. The steam in question is rising from the galvanized bucket I keep under the downspout, and in which there is presently a really fabulous heating element. It's not free hot water, but it's free water. Rime, interestingly, comes straight from the Old English hrim, meaning exactly what rime means now.

You'd never know that a sky that looks like that would be vomiting 8" of snow and ice within 24 hours! Notice especially my sparkling new stove pipe....

The icicles are a rarity here. I can't remember the last time we had icicles like these.

This is the corner where the kitchen roofline (right) meets the sun room roof (left) and the two-story part of the house (center). The poor gutters just can't keep up.

This is my bathroom window from the back yard. The icicles as of today are greater in number and size!

Although this side of the barn faces east, apparently the roof heated up enough for all the snow to come sliding off. Regrettably, some of the snow ended up in my nicely carved footpath, and that became a REAL problem when next I had to get the snowblower out there after the following storm. The blower did NOT want to go over that hump, and my back ached like anything the next day from having to wrestle with it. I did, finally, clear out not only the new snow, but also that mogul there.

This is the west side of the barn. That overhanging glacier has doubled in size, at least, with the last storm. Doesn't much matter, though, as the door on that side has been frozen to the ground for weeks. It'll be spring before I can get it open! Thank goodness the side door opens just fine, so I can feed and water the beasts.

And to think, just 11 years ago, I was in Penascola....