Tuesday, February 26, 2013

(Part of) A Year in Shawls

As a matter of habit I knit for myself from January to June and knit for gifts from July through December, with exceptions made for emergency gifts and irresistible babies. Generally I start with two pair of socks, one plain and one fancy. Beach and gardening weather come along at the end of "Knit for Myself" season, so sometimes that's about all I end up with. This year I did make my plain pair of socks, a super thick pair of Online self striping intended to keep me cozy in the rubber wellies that have been an inescapable part of my weekend wardrobe.

A comparative glance at my bulging handknit sock drawer and lightly stocked outerwear bin, supplemented by a weekend spent wearing wool outerwear in the freezing cold and unlighted house quickly readjusted my priorities. I seem to have plenty of gorgeous alpaca mitts and cowls but few heavy weight gloves and hats. I currently have a pair of convertible mittens on the needles, a pair of gauntlets  To warm up my alpaca poncho high in the queue, and am mulling over several cozy hat patterns. Of course I did buy some gloves for shoveling. None of my handknits will be put to such strenuous use.

What I want to knit is shawls. They are so pretty, so versatile, and so much fun to knit. The magic of blocking always entertains me. Last October our knitting group informally discussed knitting the Color Affection shawl  by Veera Välimäki as a knitalong. I purchased the pattern right away because I was pretty sure I had enough of something in the stash to make it. Because of the interesting construction but easy knitting (all garter) it was a terrific TV knit. The odd shape makes it versatile, and the wonderful drape of garter makes it flattering. I used three colors that don't quite go together, but play off each other in interesting ways. I finished it in January and have already worn it many times. I call mine Color Affectation because I ran out of once color and therefore started the single color border several rows sooner than called for in the pattern. No matter, it's a very forgiving pattern! It gets a fair amount of attention whenever I visit a yarn store.

Our group chose Jared Flood's Juneberry Triangle  for a February knitalong. I started it in the last few days of January, but because I ripped out the initial attempt I consider it to have been a February start. Juneberry starts with a garter tab, has pattern on both sides,  has a knitted on border and bobbles: four new skills for me. It's a fun knit for a knitalong because it can look quite different with changes of needle size, yarn weight, and intensity of blocking. I like a BIG shawl, so I made mine up in Cascade 220 (also makes it inexpensive!) on size 9 needles and blocked it severely. Love It! It will be making its debut tomorrow at Stitch & Bitch. It does need attention while knitting, so it may not have been the best choice to knit at meetings  but I can hardly wait to see everyone's version.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Because That's What We Do

Cape Cod locals spend a lot of time at the beach, even in the dead of winter. I should say especially in the dead of winter. Although summer is the most beautiful time to visit the beach, it is the time when the tourists and summer people are thick on the beaches and a lot of Cape Codders are making most of their yearly income. The shoulder seasons are beautiful and the beaches are less crowded, especially in September and October when the water has not lost all of the summer warmth. Even in winter the beaches are beautiful, the more so because they are nearly empty. Everyone comes out to walk on the beach and enjoy the isolation. For comparison: 4 million people come to Cape Cod from July through August. About 200,000 people live here year round. Obviously in summer we are outnumbered in a big way! Also in the summer many beaches are limited to town residents or charge for parking. In the winter you can go to any beach you like at no charge.

Shana and I would like to have visited all of the beaches of Cape Cod - a rather heroic goal! Today we went to Corporation Beach, which I had seen once before but Shana had not. It's a beach especially loved by locals with small children because the water is shallow for a long way and usually quite calm. It has no services to speak of, so is not a big tourist attraction. We nearly had it to ourselves, along with Shelley and a friend of hers visiting from Oklahoma. Roxy had been furiously bored all week, so a walk on the beach with a few strange dogs to greet was just what the doctor ordered.

We intended to visit the Sandwich Boardwalk and the Town Neck Beach today, but due to some storm damage to the boardwalk we were unable to get on the boardwalk. We did take a detour down to the canal, which I thought was interesting, but since it's not scenic and I had to go to work today we did not linger.

Tomorrow It will be South Cape Beach for a brief walk to entertain the dog and exercise Shana's achy back - as long as we don't have more of the awful weather we have had every weekend. Snow is expected again but not in the horrifying amounts we've had on past weekends. There are forecasts for a significant storm next weekend, forecasts which I hope prove to be wrong!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lessons From Nemo

After spending thirty-four years in Oklahoma I thought I was a veteran of every kind of storm there is. We had dramatic weather in every season from fire to blizzard. I truly believe the utility workers of Oklahoma are the best in the world, recovering from unimaginable damage over large areas with amazing dispatch. I was so happy to hear that Oklahoma crews were here to help Massachusetts recover from our recent winter storm.

This year since September we have experienced Sandy, followed almost immediately by a nor'easter followed by this recent nor'easter. I thought I was knowledgeable about storm preparation, but the storm that the Cape Cod Times is calling "Wintercane" and the Weather Channel is calling "Nemo" taught me a few things. First the winners of my preparation:

1.  Knee high rubber wellies from L.L. Bean are worth every penny, even if they are not pretty.
2.  Gigantic storm coats from L.L. Bean really do keep you cozy no matter how bad the weather gets.
3.  The Wovel is a good tool.
4.  Everyone should have a Coleman Stove.
5.  Headlamps are better than lanterns.
6.  Down duvets will keep you toasty at night when it is under 40F in the house.
7.  Wool socks FTW!

Lessons learned:

1. Get more and better snow removal tools for each of the cars.
2. The little plastic pusher that is great for 2" of snow on the deck is not a shovel. Get a good shovel.
3. The Coleman stove is good after the wind dies down, but in 40-60 mph winds gusting to 80 mph not so much. Mine actually blew off the porch.
4. Park the car(s) close to the street so you don't have so much to shovel.
5. Because the Coleman stove will not be really useful until the wind dies down have prepared foods to tide you over. We had peanut butter and jelly but could have had something better.
6. Little knit gloves are not suitable for shoveling. Get proper waterproof gloves suitable for heavy use.
7. Double check the charge on EVERYTHING. My Kindle ran out of charge.
8. If you do not have an established lawn service you will never get anyone to plow your driveway. :(
9. Cape Cod will lose power with every storm no matter what (even if a car drives down the street too fast) and it may come back slowly. Don't let wishes blind you to this sorry fact.

Friday afternoon our storm started with a snow and rain mixture. When the wind shifted to the north it started snowing in earnest. I started clearing snow from the porches before I went to bed. Lights went out for good about 10 pm. We had average wind speeds of 40 mph all night, gusting to 85. Snow all day Saturday at a rate of over an inch an hour until 4 pm. We cleared the front porch an walk several times and started on the driveway but progress was difficult, to say the least. Temperatures in the house were quite cool, about 42 Saturday night, and under 40 Sunday morning. Lights came on Sunday evening. A lot of the Cape is still out, and streets in some parts of metro Boston are still impassable. Some areas will have freezing rain today. Altogether a tough storm for everyone. We were lucky not to suffer any damage (not so far obvious, anyway) but many were not so fortunate. Because we are not right on the coast we had less damage but more snow. A fair trade, I think. We were also lucky enough to have friends come to get us Sunday to get out for breakfast and a shower before returning home to dig out a car.