So the snow came, not bucketloads of it, not as much as in parts of South Wales, but enough to keep us inside. On Friday there was a driving wind which scoured the snow from some parts of the garden and heaped it in drifts against the kitchen door and the kitchen garden walls. The wind was so hard and cold it snatched the air from your lungs when you ventured out for yet more logs. Yoga was cancelled and we stayed warm and snug by the stove. I was glad Ian had made it back from Devon the day before, beating the snow home.
Today was still. Yesterday the wind continued but today, although it snowed gently for much of the day, it was a cold, calm day. The snowdrops all along the bottom of the wall have disappeared under snow.
There is enough snow for sledges and to make the hens miserable but not enough to transform the world.
But there is enough for tracks to appear all over the garden. Badger and fox I recognise but what are these? The neat pairs of prints strike out across the field, each pair eighteen inches from the next. I have been puzzling about these all day. Any ideas?
When life turns indoors I usually spend time in the kitchen. This would have been perfect weather for making marmalade but I forgot to buy Seville oranges when I went shopping last week and they did not constitute an emergency reason for going out. Besides if I cook things I only eat them.
So I have been knitting and sewing, surprising myself all over again at how much satisfaction it gives me to make things and at how much more competent I am than I expect to be. When I was a teenager my closest friend was a fabulous knitter and at fourteen was making jumpers and gloves that any experienced knitter would have been proud of. My own efforts with their misshapen necklines and slightly too loose tension were probably not to bad for a beginner but they looked shapeless and saggy next to Ruth's offerings. I thought I wasn't too bad at sewing though until I went to university. There I shared a room with a girl who designed her own clothes and made patterns from newspaper and cut them out on her bedroom floor. My own painstaking attempts with Simplicity patterns and a little Singer were amateurish by comparison. I have since learnt that it is better not to compare oneself too much, especially not with the high end of the achievement range. That way lies giving up in a slough of despond.
First of all I finished my fingerless gloves using a free and super simple pattern from Ravelry. If you haven't found Ravelry it is really worth having a look if you are at all interested in knitting or crochet. It is a vast repository of free patterns, information about yarns and provides the facility to keep track of what you are doing and what you think about it. I liked these cables and they are extremely simple. If you can knit, you can cable. These are my third pair of fingerless gloves and the best so far. They are neat and warm and look sufficiently stylish for me to try not to wear them when bringing in logs or feeding chickens.
I was so chuffed with the gloves that I decided to have a go at a hat to match. Much of my knitting is like this hat project, a little shambolic but successful nevertheless. I had enough wool left over to make me think there would be enough for a hat if I kept it small and simple. I decided that I wanted to match the cables so found a pattern called Irish Hiking hat which matches the cables and rib of the gloves. I decided to knit it without a rib border, going straight into the cables just as I had for the gloves. Mistake. When I had finished it was simply too small. Ian suggested I offer it on ebay as a rather large yarmulke or kippah for Jewish people living in cold countries. I thought that was a bit unnecessary. It wasn't that small.
Fortunately I had made it on circular needles so, with some trepidation because I haven't done much of this, I carefully picked up stitches around the cast on edge and set off to add the rib last. To do that of course I needed another ball of wool so we set off on Saturday afternoon. "Is your journey really necessary?" we are urged to ask ourselves. Well clearly yes, and I was also going a little stir crazy after a week on father in law duty without Ian and two days of snow. So off we went.
And it is really rather fine. I love the cables. I love what happens at the crown when the decreases in the knitting in the round brought it down to double pointed needles rather than the circular one. I wore the hat to wander around the garden looking at animal tracks and it was extremely snug.
And then today (you can tell I am getting to the stage where I need to get out more) I made this.
I have been thinking for ages that I need a needle roll. There is nothing like having the proper equipment to make you feel less amateurish. Now this is not a craft sort of blog. I am not really sure what kind of blog it is - a rambling, ranting, musing blog with, as a non-gardening friend says, rather too much gardening. So I think setting out how I did it might be not too interesting for most of the people who read it. If anyone would like to know, tell me and I will do a quick blog about it for you.
So a few days full of knitting and making and wood fires and snow. Time for a glass of wine and a good book.