Tuesday, February 24, 2015

And at Last a Distraction

Yes, we are still (partially) buried in snow, but now instead of being up to our eyeballs we are just up to our butts. I suspect the residents of Boston are still mighty discontented, the more so since we will be getting more snow tonight, but at least here the roads are in pretty good shape. Still really icy on the side roads though. I ran across a video this morning that I just had to share. I had no idea Octopi could move so fast!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Winter at the Beach

The weather has become so all-pervading that just the sight of someone's pictures online that feature green grass or people outdoors in short sleeves makes me angry and depressed. As a tonic for my seasonal wounded spirit we got into the car and headed for the beach. We didn't stay long, but I feel much better now, sometimes a little time outdoors is just what I need, even if all I can see is brown, gray and white. Based on what the marshes looked like I would say the tide was out, but there were no waves or wave sounds. It felt odd to be next to the soundless sea.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First Sweater

I have finally finished my first sweater! Last year I took my Christmas money and made the leap into sweater knitting. I had been hemming and hawing about it but at last saw the sweater I needed to have. It's Little Wave, by Gudrun Johnston. Never mind that the construction is a bit unusual, that there are many sections of doing two things at the same time, that it has a button band, a short row collar, and an icord bind-off. It is the sweater for me! I started it in January last year and finished it  last weekend. That said, I was not working on it all that time. For one thing, I only knit for myself from January to June, and I was making several projects for myself. Also, knitting with worsted weight and the needles it requires is more tiring for me. Fingering and lace weight are easier on my shoulders and wrists.

I made a gauge swatch and compared the measurements on the schematics to a sweater I already own that fits, but still came out with a very large sweater with very long sleeves. It's really too big to be flattering, but not too big to feel great wearing it at home, so I am mostly satisfied. I am really proud of the way it looks and the general quality of the knitting, but next time I will step down one size and also step down one needle size. Because it really has no seams a little snugger gauge will give it a bit stronger shape retention. It is designed for Shelter, which I think is a smaller worsted with a bit less stretch than the Cascade 220 I used. Shelter would have cost literally twice as much to knit, which would have been too much of an investment for my first fitted garment.

Things I learned from this project: Gauge lies. I-cord bind-off. My knitting in pattern improved over the course of the project, and my reading of a printed knitting pattern improved.

On to the next project! I am currently working on a pair of socks for myself, while evaluating a number of shawl patterns for my Christmas yarn - 600 yds of sport weight alpaca in royal blue. I should have something started in a day or two.

There's lots of knitting time to be had because we are still eyeball deep in snow. This picture was taken before the most recent 6 inches, and we are expecting more Saturday night into Sunday. That one is forecast to include freezing rain, sleet, and rain for my area, so who knows whether my piles will grow or shrink. It's hard to make plans because so many things are cancelled in the wake of one storm or another. It's not just the snow and wind, although they are plenty inconvenient. It's also the little question of how soon can parking lots be cleared and where to put the snow. Driving around parking lots is hair raising because you really can't see over or around the huge snow piles. We will probably still be looking at some of these piles in June. Of course, we have only received a bit over 4ft at my house since January 28, and Boston is up around 8 feet for the same period. We are beginning to think temperatures in the low 20's are quite tolerable.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Still Slogging On

We are still buried in snow, with more coming. Boston has had about 40" in the last 10 days and we are not far behind. Our roads are mostly clear, and if the right lanes are still deep in snow the center lanes are at least open for business. I am only watching the forecasts with one eye now - we had snow yesterday and snow this morning but the one that comes in tonight is likely to keep going until early Tuesday and every forecast is different from the last. Worst case it looks like another 10 inches for us, best case we get a much smaller tally of snow but that is because part of our precipitation will be freezing rain!

The wild turkey that hangs out across the street disappeared for a few days because the homeowner there was so anxious about him sleeping up in a tree during the first night of the blizzard that she grabbed him and threw him into a shed until the blizzard was over. He was mighty unhappy about that turn of events and decamped to another part of the neighborhood for a few days. He's back now, knowing a good thing when he sees it. He is eating with her chickens, which is no small advantage when there is so much snow on the ground. My bird feeders are nearly empty but I can't quite summon up the gumption to wade out into the yard with a ladder to fill them.

The dogs and I have still not gotten into the back yard, so we are still walking several times a day. I swear Mitzi is getting a waist from all the exercise.  We've been down in the single digits plus wind a few times. When that happens they just do their business in the driveway and stalk back to the house. So far I think they are enjoying it more than I am. I am pretty sure my back yard neighbors are thrilled not to be hearing Mitzi's barkathons.

Shana has come down with the flu. It was almost a sure thing since she spends a fair amount of her working time in emergency rooms. She had her flu shot (not very effective this year) and had been hand washing like a fiend but it caught her anyway. The timing was such that she will probably have missed only one working day, but that is small consolation as she is miserable. I immediately decamped to the guest room and am hoping to miss out. I did cancel my social engagements for the next few days in case I am incubating and possibly contagious. Oddly, no one has yet complained about my declining to spread the wealth (of germs). I've been knitting and catching up on my reading, so cabin fever has not been an issue for me. Really it almost never is. I could stay in all week without a pang most of the time.

I've been making serious progress on my "Little Wave" sweater. I am up to the neck back on one side and will probably have the left shoulder and back strap done tomorrow. Then it's only picking up the edging (no small thing but I don't mind picking up stitches), a few rows of garter edging (with buttonholes) , knit the pockets, kitchener the lower armholes and pick out buttons! All pretty small stuff, except that I am pretty sure that garter stitch down both sides of the front and around the neck will get tedious. The collar is integral to the borders, shaped with short rows. Of course now I am having anxiety about whether I will like it once it is done after all that work. As far as I can tell, I think it will fit, so full speed ahead! I will say that over the time I have been working on it my skills have improved. Nothing like a big project to force improvement.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

January Without the Thaw

It's pretty common to have a January thaw here, but this year I think we will be doing without a thaw. Monday and Tuesday we had a huge blizzard. It started snowing  early Monday afternoon and finished up about midnight Tuesday, except for a bit of ocean effect snow and some lingering wind.  Of course, two or three feet of snow cause a slowdown in activity even after it stops falling. School is still out today, and we did not have mail delivery or Post Office services Tuesday or Wednesday. We spent most of Wednesday just digging out. Our heat pump unit is outside and still has enough snow and ice in it that we are not using it. We are sure glad we left our baseboard heaters in place! With more snow coming tonight and Monday it may be a few more days before everything is back in order.

To avoid the inevitable power outages we removed to a hotel which shares a power grid with the Falmouth Police Department Monday night. As it turned out we did not lose power at home but found hotel life less than luxurious.  The hotel is changing hands at the moment so things were not up to their usual standards: no restaurant, no continental breakfast, terrible coffee. We forgot our boiled eggs and lived on cheese and crackers until Tuesday afternoon when we made a rather poor decision to flaunt the travel ban and drive home. The trip was hair raising, with terrible visibility, wipers freezing on the windshield, and no place to park at home. I barely got away with leaving my car on the street overnight because I ran outside when the police came and promised to get it out of the street first thing in the morning. We parked it up the street at a gas station until we could get enough driveway cleared to accommodate both cars.

We probably ended up with around 30 inches + higher drifts in a few places. The deck was shoulder high in snow, which has packed down a little. This means no access to the back yard at the moment. We are located far enough from the coast that flooding is not an issue, nor is salt spray freezing on the house. The dogs are going for frequent walks, as the street is the only place they can go and find a place to "go"! They are liking it so far except that the mornings are so cold that Mitzi wants to head back to the house right away whether Roxy is ready or not. I am not enjoying it so much. Getting out of a warm bed to put on my rubber wellies and get out in the cold is not my idea of a fun time.

With Shana's new schedule Tuesday is our day for day trips off Cape - last week we went into Boston to the New England Aquarium, lunch at Legal Seafood Long Wharf  and desert at Flour Bakery. I'm glad that was the Tuesday we chose to go to town, as this week would have been a big  disappointment. Tuesday is a great day for trips to the city; there is less traffic than on the weekend and it's easy to get a delicious lunch and still get home before the rush hour traffic picks up.

I have had a few people ask me if wild turkeys can fly. While they are not to be seen winging their way around the place in big flocks I think seeing the local bachelor surveying the neighborhood from atop a chimney should provide good evidence that indeed they can. This guy also hung out on our deck for a while one day peering into the house with no evidence of alarm when I opened the door to snap his picture.  This particular bird follows one of my neighbors around her yard. She has chickens, so he knows she will be a soft touch for food.

Monday, January 05, 2015

No Name Post

It's the first week of the new year and I am just doing a quick drive by post for a reference of how I am doing so far.

I have not bought any cookies, but a friend and I went out for lunch today and we did split a very chocolaty desert. When I came home from my Christmas trip I ate up all the ice cream and most of the cookies in the house immediately. Eating habits still need work, in short. I'll be getting my exercise regime started up again tomorrow. Now that I am not lugging and toting for 20 hours per week I need to get out and make an effort.

I have not touched my partially completed sweater yet, although I did move it upstairs where I could not fail to see it. I did finish a pair of socks and have been working on the angora scarf that Mitzi wants so badly to chew up. I'll wear it, too. Cold weather is coming in so I expect to be swathed in all things woolly all week. Next week looks snowy, too.

I have been watching much less TV but possibly because I have been online quite a bit in the last few days. I have picked up my Tumblr again with my usual yearly intention of 365 photos. This year so far it's all selfies, but I'm sure that will change. I need to spend some time on my Flickr site to get current, and I have had to do a bit of maintenance on my Evernote notes because some of their settings have changed a bit and I had trouble finding things. I've been cleaning up my old bookmarks and checking into the bookmarked sites I have not visited recently to be sure they are still posting and that I am still interested in them. I must admit I read a lot of back posts while I was about it. It is interesting to see what has changed and what is the same on my old favorites. Since I first created those bookmarks I have changed some of my "surfing" habits. Some blogs I just follow the Twitter or Instagram feeds to keep up with activity, some I "like" on Facebook, some I follow a board or two on Pinterest. I haven't really settled on a good way to handle keeping up with blogs. No one method seems to work for all blogs; some post frequently, some have moved more of their content to Twitter. I am still posting on all platforms, but blogging seems to be waning as the short forms are growing in popularity.

Moving forward, but not evenly on all fronts, in short. All pictures featured today are summer seaside because that's what I want to see in winter!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Revolutions

Every year, like everyone else, I make plans for the New Year. Here are mine for 2015:

The two chubby girls who share this house will be turning to fewer calories and more exercise after a last hurrah of fancy French food at Bleu. Bring on the butter! We'll be frequenting the gym and bumping up the vegetables around here. I fell down on my cycling goals last year. This year I will try to get in 100 miles per week. I mean to get out on the water every week, too. Now that I have my kayak I have no reason not to. A long walk every day will be good for me and the dogs. If Roxy does not want to walk far I can drop her off and keep walking.

I have a sweater in progress which I started and intended to finish last year. I'll pick that back up this week and finish it. I want to knit a lace shawl during the year too.  I plan to go to Rhinebeck for the first time next year and must surely have at least one handknit sweater or not be admitted. I plan to try entrelac sometime this year.

I need to do more reading, something that surfing the Internet and knitting prevent. Clearly something needs to move over. More reading, less Internet and TV. I really can eliminate at least the most tiresome TV without suffering unduly. I am at the library once a week. Why don't I read more books?

I intend to post at least weekly here. This is always my intention, with some months more successful than others. If I am short of content some weeks I should go out more! No new content appears in front of my laptop.

I want to meet a friend for coffee every week. I have friends I do not see often with whom I do not want to lose contact. I will also be volunteering at the MSPCA every week, mostly plying with kitties, I think.

The veggie garden needs to be more productive this year. I am inspired to go all in for Square Foot Gardening this year. My garlic is already in place, and we are in negotiations for other crops that will please both of us (one of us does not like squash). I want another flower bed, too. In order to make this happen I really need to be out in the yard for an hour or two every day working on the yard. I really don't mind weeding and I will keep caught up on my podcasts this way. I think the key will be to get moving early and go to bed earlier. I am really not doing anything much after 11:00 pm and one round of morning news will cover most of what I need to know. There is not much happening on the TODAY show of use anymore. That time can go to my gardens.

That's enough in the plan for this year. I haven't looked back at last year's goals yet, but I'm pretty sure I missed the mark in some, if not most areas.