How to pass the time when it's snowing



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.

Comments

  1. I love the fabric you've made the needle roll with - beautiful. I'm spending my time writing plant descriptions for my nascent online shop, swimming, and trying to finish an essay for the MHort.

    Beneath all this activity I'm worrying about my lack of gardening mojo. It did come back for long enough to prune the apple trees in that mild spell, but it's all but gone now. It's not just the cold and snow - I think it's the complete lack of sun. Trusting it will return like switching on a light before our first big delivery turns up - second week in Feb....

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    1. I always totally lose my gardening mojo in winter. It generally returns with spring bulbs. It's odd. In winter I can hardly remember why I garden and I hardly think about it. I don't even really get into catalogues and planning until the snowdrops come.

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    1. I had wondered about that Sue but I have never seen or heard of deer round here. Maybe if there were any the weather would drive them down off the hills.

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  3. That's a gorgeous needle roll!
    Wish there were a way to get that enforced quiet time that snow brings without having to endure all its inconvenience. . . ;-) (I know, I'm rather missing the point!)

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    1. Another enforced quiet day here. Beginning to need to get out....

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  4. I think this post of yours is a wonderful tribute to the pleasures to be found in being snowbound.

    Do you think that Sue might be right about those prints being deer prints? Wow!

    Hoping your hens are handling the snow well.

    Your knitting is lovely. Cables are fun, and that yarn is a lovely color too. I am very impressed with the needle case. My own sewing would never be precise enough to make anything like that.

    I did see lots of snowdrop flowers blooming away over in Central Park today. It was strangely warm this afternoon, too.

    xo

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    1. I am not sure about the prints being deer Frances. We have never seen any round here and the only way to get in would be through the farmyard so you would expect to see the tracks coming in. My bet at the moment is a hare because I can see they could get through the stock fence but not at all sure.

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  5. Hello Elizabeth:
    We are filled with admiration for all of your work, and especially like the hat and fingerless gloves - the very thing for this weather. The snow is of course wonderful, providing one does not have to go out, and it does, as you point out, provide an opportunity for creative activity within doors. Or, as in our case, days spent reading.

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    1. We have had even more snow today so am looking out at a totally white world. Fortunately Ian is keeping the stove well stocked with logs!

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  6. Just found a link to your lovely blog, living on the Welsh Border myself I can appreciate the need of a warm woolly hat and mittens at this time of year, love the cables, I shall be searching out the pattern on Ravelry later...........it is bitterly cold and very snowy here this morning.

    I would love to know how you made your fabulous needle roll, lovely fabric.

    Kim

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    1. Ravelry is a great resource isn't it? yes, been wearing both gloves and hat today for a wander around in the snow.

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  7. A would normally have spent time just as you have, but having fallen victim to "the flu" I have on this occasion been sapped of energy, so sadly my achievements haven limited so far.

    I have however spent the afternoon scanning ancient family photographs into my computer, with the intention of producing a family album, printed and labeled so the generations after me don't spend days shuffling dog-eared pictures of nameless people wondering who on earth they all are.

    It's a labour of love, but I am getting there and there is a certain satisfaction about the job and a lot of nostalgic emotion.
    It is 4 years since my mother died, she was never the easiest person and I know I was not top of her list of " people to spend a year on a desert island with" but she was my mother and I did the best I could for until she shook of her mortal coils.

    It has taken until now for me to be able to sort photos of her without a rumble of anger rolling about at the back of my mind, so I finished the day like you with a warm sense of achievement. I had whiled away a snowy afternoon doing a task that had left me satisfied and warm.
    So progress has been made I think.

    Great Blog.

    Thank you.

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    1. That is quite an undertaking! A great idea too to prevent that frustrating thing of looking at piles of old photographs and having no idea how the people in them relate to you. I think the combination of the intrinsic value of the task and managing to do it without the distant rumble of anger makes that a great achievement. Beats knitting!

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  8. My great aunt, who seems regularly to crop up in my comments on your blogs, made me once something she called a 'hussef' except that I found later that it should be written 'housewife' - which rather disappointed me for I had thought hussef was some romantic Irish word. Ireland was whence she came and she had words for all sorts of things which seemed, when I asked people, to be her own folk words rather than Gaelic words. Anyway the 'hussef' was a roll of some woollen material given shape by a couple of cotten reels and containing scissors, buttons, needles, thread and all held together by a black tying ribbon. Such a useful device, easily portable and containing virtually everything that you might want. Your needle roll reminded me of it. Do like that hat!

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    1. I like the word "hussef". I shall adopt it. And I am always pleased to welcome your great aunt to the blog. What was her name?

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  9. Pretty needle roll!

    Could be sheep...

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    1. Sheep and deer present the same problems: firstly there are only tracks of one animal and both normally travel in convoy, secondly there is no sign of how they get into the field!

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  10. I have such a lovely image of you sitting in front of the fire, knitting, with the snow falling outside. It sounds so cosy.
    Rabbit tracks?

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    1. I think something like rabbit or hare which could get through the stock fence has to be the answer!

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  11. Definitely something cloven hoofed. I have spent some of my snow down-time in stocktaking my provisions cupboard - just checking what I've got in case we become snowed in - the weather is pretty severe here in the Midlands and travelling anywhere is a bit scarey at the moment. Other than that I have been using oddments of wood up to make blanket squares, just about the pinnacle of my knitting achievements, but I will go over to Ravelry and see what they have to offer a rubbish knitter.

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    1. I totally love the idea of a blanket made of wooden squares! So sorry to see your correction!

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  12. Oops! That should be oddments of wool not wood, now that would be an unusual blanket!

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  13. Hello - I do like the look of your knitted hat and gloves. I haven't done any knitting for a while; I need some inspiration, I think. I also saw some different tracks in the snow the other day - I think they were roe deer. I wonder if the tracks you've seen are also deer.

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    1. Ravelry is the place to for for inspiration Wendy!

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  14. I made my Mum a needle roll last year, and keep thinking I must make one for myself, to organise my heaps of needles. It's on my to-do list, but one thing at a time...
    Lovely to have a weekend where snow insists you have time to indulge yourself with indoor things, if only it had been twice as long!

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    1. I got out this morning for coffee with a friend which did something for my cabin fever. I love a couple of days snowed in but much more and I begin to think I am stuck to the chair!

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  15. I laughed at the story about the hat, but gosh, how brave of you to try and the results look so lovely too. I did manage to make some marmalade yesterday, but all that chopping and slicing nearly pushes me over the edge as I have so little patience - I do like the final stage though when it's sitting in jars like treasure. Now wouldn't it be good if we can meet this year - let's hope for some good weather for travelling.

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    1. I think it should be a spring time plan!

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  16. I can't get circular needles to work, I get so frustrated hahaha

    Love the fingerless gloves and thank you for sharing the link to the pattern, it's just what I was looking for.

    Love your blog, discovered it a few weeks ago and love looking through all your posts and beautiful photos, makes me want to visit Wales even more. :)

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    1. I am a real fan of circular needles so would encourage you to persevere. I even use them for things that could be done on two needles sometimes because I find them easier! Each to their own perhaps!

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  17. It's good to have an excuse to cosy down with a good book and a wood burning stove - we are lucky to be able to do this!
    My marmalade making didn't survive popping into the village pub for a quick drink after walking the dog, as half the village had the same idea. I didn't trust myself with a sharp knife after that! Another day.

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    1. I have quite enjoyed the cosying down but think I am ready to get going again now!

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  18. Really enjoyed reading this, it made me smile:) I would certainly be interested in knowing how you made that needle roll, I'm no great shakes at sewing but could probably manage that I think and it would be so useful. I may well have a go at the fingerless gloves and the hat as well.
    I know just what you mean about not comparing your skills with more talented friends, learnt that lesson years ago on the cooking front - my friend L is a wonderful cook and also an artist( she taught the subject until retiring recently)and everything she made not only tasted great but looked wonderful as well. I may well have a go at the

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    1. The needle roll needs careful measuring more than anything else! The sewing is quite straight forward.

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  19. I too thought deer but as you don't have any round there, maybe Beangenie is right with sheep?
    Why doesn't your glorious hat have a bobble? All knitted hats should have a bobble!!
    Love the needle roll. Practical and pretty. Shame I don't knit!!
    Keep warm. You will be able to get out soon.

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    1. I contemplated a bobble but that would obscure the beautiful way the cables come together at the top. I know, I am getting sad.

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  20. Hoorah projects being finished, I bet you are chuffed. I finished crocheting a scarf this evening, have a tapestry to make into a cushion next but am stuck attaching the braid edging so its gone away again :(

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    1. It is great to finish things isn't it. I have blogged before about my tendency to have too many things on the go at the same time so every time something is actually completed I have to hang the bunting out!

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  21. I've made some marmalade too. Your blog has inspired me to do some knitting, perhaps a hat - yours looks good.

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    1. Really wish I had done the marmalade. Have now discovered that the only place with Seville oranges is Sainsburys which is off my usual run!

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  22. I've been yearning for marmalade, especially since I finished the one small jar I was sent from the UK. It was heavenly. Anyway, I'll make some on a Saturday - no point in waiting for snow that may or may not confine us to Pondside for a day or two of playing house. The needle roll is such a good idea. I have a terrible basket full of needles, some of which aren't marked, so that every time I want to knit I have to figure out what size I've got. I often end up buying another set...and the cycle resumes!

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    1. I know about the buying new needles syndrome. I also inherited a lot from my mother in law but much prefer wood to metal so have a guilt-inducing number of new needles!

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  23. Looks and sounds all like peaceful and soft occupations. I love winter with snow and I love the slow pace of it - only since I don't work anymore and have not to travel huge distances in difficult conditions.

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    1. I know just what you mean. The only reason I can appreciate the snow is that I don't absolutely have to get somewhere in it!

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  24. Hm, yes, this is a very cosy post. Needlework is not something I do nowadays, I was never any good at it and gave up long ago. seems like I’m missing a very satisfying occupation.

    We are still snowbound, I can get to the village shop but no further. Sainsbury’s delivered, the delivery woman helped to cart the stuff from the road to the house in boxes and the wheelbarrow. I can really recommend them, they are very good and helpful and excellent value

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    1. What makes me think that "cosy" is not necessarily a term of approbation in your vocabulary Friko?! Well this is my blog and I shall be as cosy as I like :) Now the trouble with written communication is that you cannot see my wide unruffled smile!

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  25. Hello Elizabeth. I had thought the tracks could be deer, but your idea of hare is nice too. I love hares, but living in a town have only sadly ever seen a live one once in my life, walking in Norfolk. I too use circular needles, practically to the complete exclusion of ordinary needles. They are much easier to use, with no sticks flapping about around my elbows, and its easier to store the knitting between sessions, because I simply push all the work off the needle ends and into the middle - you can also stop mid-row too by doing the same thing. I like the photo at the top of your blog, Elizabeth, such a lovely view.

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    1. Good point about the stopping mid row! We see hares here from time to time, usually further up towards the top of the hills. I love them.

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  26. Love the idea of you sitting coz(s)ily indoors knitting by the fire. The hardest thing for me about the snow and ice here is getting up and going to work in it all. I always feel so sorry for myself setting out in the cold pre-dawn! I should also add that I think I've lived in Korea too long: when I saw the photo of your needle roll, first thing I thought was, "Oh, what a pretty chopstick holder!" Sigh.

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    1. No reason at all why it should not be a chopstick holder! I don't have that many chopsticks to keep track off but you may well!

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  27. Beautiful snowy photos, I too eat everything I make which is bad because I love to make cakes and biscuits and consequently hardly ever do. Beautiful hat and fingerless gloves, you may yet encourage me to brave the knitting needles again and see if my hands are up to it. But most of all, oooooh, the knitting needle case... I still have the sketches of the one I designed for myself and never made... I need it to snow again, as currently we are all clear and the race is on to clear the ground for planting fruit trees...

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    1. It's a very satisfying project because most of the ones offered for sale are either cheap and nasty or hugely expensive. Would recommend it!

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  28. Can I suggest a good read is Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett. A fascinating account of leaving London for the wilds of North Wales to restore a crumbling castle. When Judy and her husband-to-be moved into a squalidly filthy, cold and wet Gwydir Castle, little did they realise what restoration dramas they'd let themselves in for. They did restore it and it is open to the public. A jolly good read.
    Dianne - Hereford

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    1. I have read this one Dianne! Liked it a lot.

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  29. I love your snowy banner - how gorgeous! Difficult to navigate without snowplowing and studded tires. Staying home is wise and you use your time so productively. Your tracks look to be made by an ungulate (ie a grazer with cloven hooves) so I'm guessing it was a deer, a small one if only 18 inches in stride. I'm envious of your fresh snow. Send some our way, please.

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  30. Very happy to send some your way! Have enjoyed it but now getting a bit of cabin fever. Surely you have snow in Maine?

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  31. I have come to your blog via my daughter's in USA (Far From Harm Farm)which you found thru Millefeuilles which I also read, and have so enjoyed reading about your life in Wales. I love the picture in your header, although I am not a fan of snow. Living in the north of Scotland where we usually get lots and I can get snowed in being in the country and at the top of a hill winter is not my favourite time. This year we have been very lucky and had very little - so far!

    I was interested in your comments regarding circular needles for knitting as I have never used them. I have been a knitter as long as I can remember and am about to try knitting the tea leaves cardigan which my daughter did on a circular needle. I'm worried about not having the needle anchored under my arm but feel I must give it a go.

    I have also taught myself to crochet this year as both my daughters were crocheting and am now well into squares for a blanket as well as having a tapestry on the go.

    I don't have a blog as I always think I will have nothing to say on it but am aware when I start writing something I tend to go on at length. I'm sure comments are supposed to be much shorter than this!

    Pam (Highlands)

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    1. HI Pam and welcome to the blog! I hope you find circular needles ok. I think it just takes a bit of time to get used to something slightly different. Why don't you try a blog? You can make them as long or short as you like and write as often as you like. You never know, you might enjoy it as much as I do!

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  32. ha ha! that's my mum above! I just popped into say that I enjoyed your post. Love your fingerless gloves and well done for saving the hat and picking up the stitches on the other side, very clever! I've been wearing a hat all day here, even indoors, not my usual look at all, but seeing I knitted it myself and it's cold, I have allowed myself to be that person, you know, the old lady who wears a hat and scarf all day around the house. I've stopped short of wearing a coat inside, but that may come. keep warm! c

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    1. Thought it must be your mum! As to hat inside, and gloves too, yes, done that. Not so necessary now that we have improved the heating but even now Ian has just had to buy a special footwarmer to use when he is at his desk. Otherwise the cold from the old slate floor comes up through socks and slippers and freezes his feet off!

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  33. I got fascinated by the tracks in the snow and found this: http://culter.colorado.edu/~kittel/WEcol_Handouts/MammalTrackGuide_SOlson06.pdf Not sure it helps but it's interesting to look at the gait as well as the footprints.

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    1. Thanks, looks interesting, will consult!

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  34. I got fascinated by the tracks in the snow and found this: http://culter.colorado.edu/~kittel/WEcol_Handouts/MammalTrackGuide_SOlson06.pdf Not sure it helps but it's interesting to look at the gait as well as the footprints.

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  35. The tracks look like deer to me - based on experience from snowy Scotland!

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    1. Well I thought deer but had trouble working out how it would have got into the field as there seemed no indication of anything coming through gates or of how it could have got through the very thick hedge!

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