Thursday, February 23, 2017

Before the snow melted

There are only two little scraps left of this adorable two-headed snowman:

Is it just me, or does the right-hand head look a bit dubious about something on the ground?

We found him on the Monday morning after the big snowstorm that hit the northeastern states and the eastern end of Canada recently, and I expect it was because it was built in the sculpture garden whose gates get locked at night.  The next day, he was in pieces on the snow where the right-hand head had been looking and this morning, all that was left was the two tiny hunks of melting snow.

Seriously: what IS it with people who kick down snowmen???

Don't answer that, we all know.  They are fun to knock over and anybody who puts a cold snowy hour into building one on shared property is asking for it, the way anybody who puts a warm salty hour into a sand castle is asking for it.  Anyway, rain or heat would do the work of a swinging leg so why deny the next person who comes along that fleeting moment's pleasure?

(sarcasm alert, because I've enjoyed many after-smiles at the thought of this thing just because it was still up for me to see, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.)

Pete and I built a snowman late one night shortly after we were married, in the big water reservoir park next door to our then-highrise home, and it was gone by morning.  After that I thought, we need a yard.  Now we're in a condo and again: we so need a yard.  The families with young children here are vastly outnumbered by older residents who are unconvinced by the pleas of young people who would like to run around in protected public spaces when nobody else is there, but I saw that one family did get to have some fun in the snow.  Footprints chased each other around the perimeter of the terrace outside our windows, over the bulbs we have all been instructed not to disturb (to be fair, as an on-level resident I appreciate this argument for its likely true purpose of discouraging people from strolling along outside our collective windows.)  And then there was that indisputable clue: a snowman on the patio.  I did not take his picture, as he was the ordinary kind with one head, and he has since melted.

I don't make many site visits to our house at the moment because of my hand and its awkward splint, but I was there last week and got an eyeful of my office-to-be, complete with door, and missing only the top of its doorframe, though the doors on either side have theirs. 

It's very small, just about 8.5' x 5.5', but it's mine, and nobody will be kicking down any snowmen I build in there.

Sorry for the silence this week - I've been using my Talking To The Computer time to KNIT.  Very slowly and carefully.  There might be a completed sock toe around here but I have no photographic evidence to prove it so we'll just leave this at that, shall we?  And hopefully I'll see you here tomorrow!

Monday, February 20, 2017

A grand day off

Today has been Family Day here in Ontario, and I must say I enjoyed it. There was a good deal of lazing and then coffee out, with Jan:

Fun fact: there is nothing more restful than café au lait in a bowl, unless you are wearing a splint on one hand. Oops.

(I took the splint off. Nobody fainted from the shock.)

Over breakfast I flipped through a magazine I didn't get to finish at Christmas and found this dish set I particularly admire:

I really love all these classic homely things that are still made in England after more than a hundred years in business. Of course, I had to look up the pottery, and enjoyed browsing through its blog. Now I want these dishes even more. Maybe just the tiered dessert plate?

I also thought about whether there is anyplace Pete and I could use this tile placement for a path when we landscape our tiny backyard (Nope.)

I did not do dishes, or cook, or clean anything.

But I finally went inside St. James' Cathedral, across the street from where we live. It smells really good in there, sort of like old church, but in the best way. Also there is gorgeous encaustic tile at the entry.  I would love to see it all dressed up for a wedding, or Christmas, neither of which were happening today.

When I got home I thought about what life would be like if I had more energy to enjoy it, and considered how hard my body is working to heal my hand, and tried to be more patient.

I remembered that Netflix offers the movie Enchanted, and re-watched the musical number set in Central Park. It's very cheering and catchy. I also reflected on Amy Adams and her impressive range of acting skills and movie credits.This prompted me to double check her film list at to be sure I was thinking of the same actress I thought I was, and as I read through her trivia page I learned that Meryl Streep taught her to knit.

I found out that Meryl Streep and Amy Adams both knit. I wonder what they like to make?

While I was out with Jan I ate what was called a Magic Bar that turned out to be a massive amount of sugar delivered through chocolate, coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate chips. I think I'm just going to have eggs for supper and then maybe never eat again.

Or maybe I'll just make some tea, and enjoy the evening.

I hope you have had a nice day at the end of your weekend! Did you do anything special?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Watercolour paint

Because my friend Ady is a watercolour artist I've never considered the possibility of making pictures, or working with watercolour paint.

I mean, she's just so good at art… her paintings are vibrant and beautiful and lifelike and unique to her. Oddly enough, I also never thought I could knit socks because her sister knit her so many beautiful ones and Ady made them look so elegant. I think an art form has to look achievable to be immediately inspiring to others, don't you?  I'm so glad I finally got over that and starting producing socks at alarming rates.

One day this past fall Ady was in town and needed art supplies so we arranged to meet at the art store. She pointed to a small watercolour set and told me that's what she packs when she's traveling. It was not expensive and I thought, maybe I could try learning with those paints. Just before Christmas I bought the set for myself along with some paper and set it aside as a Boxing Day present. And not a moment too soon, since I was at that point just a few days away from breaking some fingers!

I started small, as you might recall – just colouring in a few very tiny drawings I made with a pen. Then I painted the trunk of a tree and some leaves. Then I got a little more ambitious and tried a vase of flowers. Then I sketched out this cottage, and since then I've finished a few more whole scenes.  It is a completely addictive art form and I love it.

After I got about this far, I found out that watercolour is meant to be a difficult medium... but I'm not finding it difficult at all. All I wanted was to find a way to put paint on the paper that doesn't mimic Ady's style, or Jan's (Jan also paints in watercolour, and makes her own greeting cards for Christmas and birthdays), and I've managed to do that, so all the rest is just fun.  Apart from the paper curling, which I've googled and can correct, my expectations are so low I'm getting exactly the results I'm looking for, even with just one hand and no ability to hold the paper still while I work.  Although if I'm honest, I did some serious learning on this little sketch.  I wouldn't put a fussy Tudor window like this on a stone cottage again, and in future it's got to be either cartoon flowers and trees or blended mottled ones, not both together.  Now that I'm getting better at this, I can afford to be picky.

My favourite thing is how forgiving watercolour paint is – unless you've drawn in your cartoon flowers and trees with permanent felt pen before you even start, you can just put on another layer any time you mess up or change your mind. And it's so tidy, it just wipes up with water. It doesn't even smell, like oil paints do. And best of all I have discovered I do tiny images very well, and bigger images not well at all. That means my paper supplies and finished projects can be very compact, which is perfect for my tiny house.

Have you tried anything new to stretch your creativity lately? If yes, do tell, and if not - maybe this weekend is a good time to give it a go!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Adventures in one-handed cooking

In my perfect world, our bodies would be best fueled by pastries, magically prepared by somebody else, unless we enjoyed baking and were physically able to do it.

Sadly, I have come to learn that custards and cakes and croissants do not do the important work of vegetables, and you can't always talk somebody else to preparing those for you either. And the job is particularly daunting with two broken fingers in a splint.

In such a situation, the most important thing is to focus on your assets. In my case? Well, I have been really lucky, with lots from the start, even in the first few days while I was still reliving the eight (EIGHT!!) anaesthetic needles in Emerg every time I closed my eyes long enough to blink.

Pete was off work because it was the Christmas break. My dominant hand was in great shape. As long as I was working with something not too slippery or inclined to roll, I could use a knife. If I had something between my body and a plate to stabilize the plate's movement I could butter toast in a mostly straight line, even as the plate spun around. I could fill the kettle, and open up a tea bag packet by pinning it down with the edge of the splint and tearing at it with my right hand. I could prop a bag up on the counter, cut it open with scissors, and unload its contents into a pot of boiling water or a pool of olive oil in a hot frying pan. I could use measuring cups, and get plates out of the cupboard… and most excitingly (NOT) I could load and unload the dishwasher.

Best of all, I discovered that Bertolli olive oil comes in a lightweight plastic container with an easy-screw cap and two depressions on the sides to make it easy to hold onto. So much better for the one-handed than a smooth glass bottle that weighs a ton!

I couldn't put my favourite stoneware pans into the oven – they were too heavy for one hand – but I could cook just about anything on top of the stove and slip lightweight things into the oven on a cookie sheet if somebody else would be around to take them out again. What more could I ask for?


Rice is a magical base for almost anything, and you can eat it cold for lunch the next day, so it's great that you can cook that with one hand.  Water and rice in a measuring cup, scissors to open up packets of powdered chicken stock, and you're good to go. Spooning it out of the pot later is an adventure (round pots spin, have you noticed?) but nobody expects pretty when you have one hand.


I really missed cutting onions. There is something deeply satisfying to me about slicing them into long ribbons or chopping them into tiny squares...What does that say about me, I wonder? It doesn't matter – neither was an option without some way of stabilizing the uncut part, and I really didn't want to sleep with an onion-scented splint right under my nose. At first I used freeze-dried, diced onions, but they lost their appeal after Julia pointed out the freeze-drying process would have stripped away all their beneficial oils. After two weeks I was given a removable splint with better access and my fingers were a little stronger, and I was overjoyed to discover I could hold a fork well enough to jab it into an onion or a potato and slice through it, however crudely. I could almost see my horizons expanding.  I never got organized to ask someone to chop a ton of onions for me in advance to store in the fridge, and later on I was speechless to find some in the freezer section of the grocery store. Arg!


Washing vegetables is not really a problem… well, mushrooms are a bit of a drag with one hand, but it's preparing vegetables that slows you down, and some are definitely friendlier than others. For example, it takes a long time to cut the ends off green beans, and let's not even talk about shelling peas in a pod (and anyway, it's much more practical to eat the pod.) Asparagus just needs the woody end snapped off which is kind of fun to do with one hand and makes a satisfying pop. Tomatoes can roll very easily but if you're sautéing grape tomatoes you don't need to cut them – after a few minutes in heated olive oil they will burst and release an amazing flavour to share with anything else in the pan.

I quickly came to rely on frozen peas; asparagus; pre-trimmed, prewashed green beans in bags; bags of prewashed spinach; mini potatoes; grape tomatoes; prewashed, pre-sliced organic mushrooms, and frozen cauliflower and broccoli. Actually in the case of cauliflower and broccoli it wasn't so much rely as resent. I know there are ways to make those two things taste wonderful in spite of having been frozen, but those ways are not easy to pull off with one hand and a stove top (believe me, I tried).  In the end, I decided their only advantages outside of a cheese-laden casserole are being prewashed and trimmed down to floret size.  Which are big advantages, actually, so I will stop complaining now.

Potatoes have been my favourite thing to make; by resting a mini potato in the hole of my cutting board (meant for easier hanging storage, maybe?)  I can stabilize it enough to cut it in half, and from there I can set the flat side down and cut it however much I want. Once I have a lot of potatoes of similar size I can throw them into boiling water for 15 minutes, then set them cut side down into a heated frying pan prepared with olive oil and butter (Martha Stewart tells me that the olive oil keeps the butter from burning, and I believe her because the combination tastes so great.) Sprinkle some herbs and salt over top and let them crisp a bit and you almost have roast potatoes! It's sort of hashbrowns, obviously, but without the need to plan for leftovers.

Everything I am cooking now can be warmed over the next day or eaten cold, which is helpful for a person stuck working from home alone on days too cold for even three ponchos (honestly, who give someone a splint too wide to fit through a coat sleeve, in January, in Canada?) But actually storing those foods in the meantime presented all-new challenges. You know those new glass containers you can get, square-shaped with a lid that clips on on each side? Yeah, those are designed for people with two hands, or maybe one hand and a really really hard stomach. I couldn't always get those open, or even closed – one clip would pop open the minute I got another shut! And you wouldn't believe how many tries it took for me to figure out to take the lid off the teapot before I poured out a cup, since I couldn't hold it on with my left hand anymore.

Between cooking and the ponchos and not knitting and everything else that has to adjust, it's been a laugh a minute around here, let me tell you... but I am really, REALLY ready to have my hand back.  Ten more days, I think?  I can hope so, anyway.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Copyright – does it matter?

Behind the scenes at Hugs, I get email that falls into three categories: friendly hellos, requests for the PDF of the Not Just For Chemo Reversible Cloche (for some reason not everybody can download that), and requests for permission to ignore my copyright.  I find that last one really strange.

Molly finds it strange too.  Excellent cat toy pattern by Sheila Ralston.

The request comes in various forms, my all-time favourite being the one asking to translate the pattern in question into another language... to circulate on the other person's blog, under their own name.

Shocking!! (this cutie is from CGMonster Designs)

The truly shocking thing is that I get asked at all. I know that for every request I receive there are many more people who just go ahead; I am quite sure things knit from my patterns are being sold at craft shows here and there. The patterns themselves are being taught in knitting classes for which the participants paid a fee. Probably they are being translated and circulated without any credit to me. And this doesn't even cover a free pattern website that regularly changes the names of my patterns for something they feel is more suitable – without even telling me. I have had so many requests for help with a pattern I don't recognize as my own, it is ridiculous! You'll know from having been around for a while that the names of my patterns are tied to the meaning of and inspiration for the pattern, so that one really hurts.

Hurts like a mothhole in a giant new knit!

My feeling about creative work comes from being a writer as well as a knitter. I know exactly how long it takes from the time you get an idea to the time you have a finished product in your hands.  It's a really, really long time.  For writing especially - and yet plagiarism happens. We've seen even in very visible venues people using someone else's written work and passing it off as their own. There is an outcry for that when it's words. I've seen an outcry when it's a clothing store chain using artwork they found on Instagram without crediting or paying the artist, too. But for knitting, not so much.

Am I reasonable to be bothered by that?

This week I had an email from someone asking if she could sell Earbud Pouches in her Etsy shop. As always I said no, and explained what "for personal use only" means, which I know is not clear for everybody (essentially, it means other people are not allowed to profit from my intellectual property, as for example by selling things knit from my patterns or teaching knitting to paying customers by using my pattern.) But after I sent my reply I thought, I should really check at Etsy to see how many other people didn't ask.

Answer: quite a few. I wrote to each vendor explaining they were not free to sell products made with my designs, and most were apologetic at least to some degree and immediately withdrew their listings. But one – who did withdraw the listing by the way – explained that there is no legal barrier to selling products made from someone else's design, especially if nothing was charged for the pattern. Hence today's post.

I know this argument, because I have read through many threads on Ravelry debating the issue and how best to deal with people who turn a profit on another designer's intellectual property. But as I said to this Etsy vendor, there is also the matter of granting the designer some dignity in return for the hours and hours they spent creating the design, preparing it as a pattern, and maintaining a platform so that it can be shared freely within the fiber art community. (For the record, just maintaining website names and server space for pattern PDFs does not come cheap.)
And perhaps more to the point, it is not really to a vendor's advantage to use someone else's designs in their shop – if anyone can do that, and many people clearly were, then there is nothing to set one shop apart from another.

The better course is to invest time in designing your own products and selling those, and even selling the pattern so that you can profit just as completely from people who can knit for themselves. Designing takes time and effort, but once you can knit and do basic math it is well within reach for us all.

I have to tell you how impressed I was with the variety of original solutions on Etsy for the earbud problem, be they sewn, crocheted, or knit. My favourite was a tiny bowl shaped pouch, very textured and adorable, for which the vendor had designed and is selling her own crochet pattern. It was definitely a bright spot in a bad morning.

I just can't help thinking it's disrespectful to profit from someone else's creative efforts. But others either don't agree or simply don't think about it first, and I find that odd.

Is it odd?

Either way, there is reality to face. Anything you put out into a public space is at risk of being taken and used by someone else, and since my livelihood doesn't depend on pattern sales like other designers' do, I guess I can either get used to that or stop putting things out there. As the years go on and I try to kindly, respectfully, and successfully educate more people about what copyright means in both spirit and letter, I can see that changing the environment is not going to happen. And there are so many other pressing things in our world today that require energy to overcome these days.

There is a third course I could take.

I could publish my patterns here at Hugs and not promote them anywhere else, even on Ravelry. I write them for you, and you certainly know where to find them, but others wouldn't unless they stuck around long enough - and if they did that, perhaps they would get to know me too well to take advantage. I think it is the anonymity of a free pattern sourced online, the lack of a relationship with the designer, that tempts someone to profit from it – indeed, neither my name nor my blog name was mentioned on any of the Etsy listings for Earbud Pouches I found this week.

Ugh. Not a fun post today, I know. But I'd like to hear what you think for when my hand is healed and the house is finished – keep sharing the patterns, either publicizing them or not? Or just stop and put my time into writing a book?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

Once again, it's that exciting time of the year... the magical day when odds are high that every shop we pass will be decorated with cheery, bright red and or pink hearts, and we'll notice bouquets of flowers bobbing past in the hands of passersby. On this very special day we know that when we wake up tomorrow we can get delicious heart-shaped chocolate half-price!

This is the first Valentine's Day since I started writing Hugs eight years ago that I have not posted a new free pattern as my Valentine to you, in thanks for the time you spend reading me. And frankly, I would be kidding myself if I said that doesn't make me sad.  I don't know how popular my Valentine's patterns have been but tradition is something that's hard for me to cut off at the knees. I mean, it was terrible the first year that I couldn't make shortbread to deliver to all my neighbours at Christmas time, and almost as bad the second year, and when it happened the third year in a row it was a wrench to admit that maybe that tradition was done.

I hope that next Valentine's Day will find me safely settled into a completed home with intact fingers, no disasters to deal with, and a pattern that has been duly written, photographed, proofread and is ready to publish. Today though, in the absence of my typing hand, we'll all have to be content with this message:

 I value the connection we share, I love that you care about fiber art, and I hope you score great chocolate tomorrow.

(Mind you, the best gift of all would be a list of all the crazy interpretations Dragon Speaks makes the words I actually say, not to mention the extra words it throws in between them. And the changes in verb tense! Truly inspired. I plan to spend the rest of today training it recognize Fiber Art English, which it is convinced is really called Biber Art English. Sigh.  I can't wait to be able to type again.)

Have a wonderful day my friends, I hope it is a lovely one in every way.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Some knits get better with age

The other night, I was pulling on a thick warm pair of handknit socks before climbing into bed, and I stopped to think how much I love them.

I called this project Sailor's Delight because the yarn I used for the main part of the sock has real sea colours – blues and greens so subtly intermixed that you might be looking at an ocean, constantly moving. And also because I ran out of that yarn and had to finish with a bright red.

Red sky at night, right?

I remember knitting these socks from the toe up using a "box toe" method that I find incredibly comfortable. So comfortable in fact, that for quite some time I tried to develop a personal pattern for lighter weight socks that would start with a box toe and end with a nice stretchy cast-off on the leg. I knit a few experimental pairs, and gave them away because I couldn't get the length of the foot quite right for myself before starting the heel flap. Then I gave up, thinking I would just knit a few other things - you know, the kind that work the first time?? - and then go back.

Well apparently, that was six and a half years ago. I find it hard to believe I've even been an adult for six and a half years (technically it's much longer than that but probably you don't feel as old as you are either) so it's quite astonishing to think my little break lasted this long.  Probably I should look back at my old notes and pick it all up again.

I put a particularly beautiful stitch into the leg of this sock – weaving stitches over and under each other for an undulating effect that was completely lost in the shifting colours of the yarn but made me happy anyway.

As I moved up past the ankle I realized I was running out of yarn.


This was back when I first started to use wool/mohair blend sock yarn from Stoddart Family Farm and I didn't have any leftovers to turn to. What I did have was some bright red fiber I had bought at the same time and spun with my spindle, because I was learning to make yarn then too.

It was a much heavier weight and I had to reduce the number of stitches on my needles when I switched over to it. The resulting fabric was so stiff it didn't even matter that I didn't do a proper ribbing at the top of the leg. You can see it here, how thick the cuff really is:

These things are solid!

The socks still look fabulous because they get so little use… Oh how I've tried, but they are too thick to fit comfortably into my everyday Blundstone boots, and too warm for the bigger boots I wear on snowy or icy or freezing cold days, because those are intensely insulated. But on a chilly evening at home in the dead of winter my Sailor's Delight socks are ideal. They tuck into slippers or walking around, and tuck between sheets when it's time for sleep, and look beautiful while sitting at ease in a chair the rest of the time.

I'm so glad I had such a good idea for solving the problem of no more yarn, because YUM. Six winters of toasty toes is a great return on investment.

Do you have an old knitting project you still love to wear?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The most beautiful sewing project ever

I decided Mondays can fall on Thursdays when necessary, so this week's first post isn't really late after all. I also decided to share this lovely project with you:

Did I trick you there for a minute?

Okay, I admit it – this isn't the project mentioned in the title. This is actually the most beautiful sewing job I have ever worked on, and today's post heading is 300% sarcastic. I just need the reminder that at one point in my life I was so good with a needle I could knit and assemble a complex stranded sweater sample for a friend who was publishing a pattern book on the subject (Kathleen Taylor, Fearless Fair Isle Knitting).

Here is the real project for today:

I decided to let George sit with me for with the duration, for moral support. Don't ask why I have a small stuffed version of Peppa Pig's little brother George and his friend Dina Saw. I think we all know by now I am a sucker for cute three-dimensional squishable things, especially if they have happy expressions and big noses.
This scrap of sweatshirt fabric was part of my solution to the problem of the knuckle pain my splint was creating. I had some great suggestions last week when I asked for advice, and I tried everything, including this sheath, and simply tightening the Velcro straps on the splint to reduce friction. Things are a little better this week because as of two days ago I can take the splint off from time to time and rest my hand, and now that I'm free to look at it more often I can see the problem isn't just abrasion but pressure - aka bed sores! Because there isn't enough excitement in my life. Thankfully there's this product called Vaseline? which lots of people including me think twice about putting on their skin because it's a petroleum product, but really does trigger healing in situations like this, go figure.

And now, back to the project!

I think I got all of 2 inches sewn shut before I had to stop and give my index finger and thumb a break (get it? broken fingers?) from holding the fabric still. That's how hard it was to manage just this small feeble effort.

George couldn't believe it either.

After a few hours I went back again and pushed through because I really wanted to get this thing on my arm.  It literally took me an entire day to cut a strip of fabric, fold it, pin it, and stitch it down with some backspacing for the thumb opening. When I was finished I really did think it was the most beautiful textile product I'd ever done, which tells you how hard it is to have your hand in a splint for a month even though you know there are people so much worse off than you and you have so much to be grateful for.

Then I tried to put it on. Guess what? It was too small to get over my hand.


Next time I try something hard, there's going to be ice cream involved.

(Even George couldn't find a use for this thing – it fit over his nose and that was it.)

In other news, I have continued to indulge in stealth knitting attempts every 10 days or so. Here is me over the weekend, when I felt I deserved a treat:

I managed 16 stitches like this and felt victorious. I think we can let the patheticness of that statement stand on its own, don't you?

A few days later, once I could take the splint off periodically, I tried again:

I still only managed 16 stitches and it took me about half an hour to do them, but it didn't hurt, and I only stopped because my hand was starting to get tired. Last night I was able to do two whole rounds of this sock before setting it aside, and I feel hopeful that I might be able to finish the toe before I'm free of the splint entirely in three weeks or so.

This small amount of knitting seems to be excellent physiotherapy because it's a gentle slow movement that draws out my muscle memory. However, it isn't really pleasurable the way knitting normally feels, because you can actually feel every tendon working, ugh... I'm really hoping that changes as the movements become more fluid again.

As for the official physiotherapy - all four of my fingers are still very bruised and swollen, even the ones that aren't broken, and between that and weeks of disuse it's a struggle to do the stretching and clenching I've been told to do. It's very discouraging say the least. But today Carol was over and when I demonstrated my exciting progress (ha) she was genuinely impressed with how much range I have and how quickly I can shift my fingers... high praise from somebody who's bounced back from broken bones before. So hopefully everybody is right and things will be back to normal in no time!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sometimes you need a sweater with a hole in it

The whole not-knitting thing is really getting to me. But it's surprising what you can do with a pair of scissors and a ratty old sweater… after cutting this one up into arm warmers and a splint liner, I felt much better.

My fingers are healing, according to my doctor who looked at them again on Tuesday. But they have not "healed". And I guess because of how much they're broken he wants me to spend another FOUR WEEKS with my hand encased at least part time in Lambchop (aka my splint).

Lambchop was happy about this, having pretty much become a member of the family with something funny to contribute to most conversations, and I had to promise that she could stick around even after I don't have to wear her anymore. But honestly, the thought of another four weeks in the splint is making me very sad. After this week I get to take her off four times a day for 15 minutes each to do more painful exercises – and not a moment too soon because I want to make sure my fingers move properly and they've been still for a long time. But I'll still have to wear Lambchop the rest of the time, and apart from the barrier between me and knitting, that means four more weeks in winter with no coat. Aargh.

Naturally I responded to this news with emotional shopping. Yes, apparently emotional alpaca poncho shopping is a thing for people with splints that don't fit through a coat sleeve.

I chose this black one because it sort of has sleeves and definitely has a turtleneck.

My other two ponchos don't have either of those features and I thought I could layer more effectively with this option in my arsenal. Then I chose this red one because it's colourful and I'm tired of looking like a flappy raven every time I go outside.

If I had bothered to try them on in the shop before I bought them I might have left the turtleneck one behind… It's actually a little uncomfortable to wear, because the arm openings hit just below where you bend for your elbow and even then the top part of the poncho bunches up around your shoulders. But that turtleneck is a big draw and has already been a help, so I don't regret it. The red poncho is pretty flattering and quite comfortable, but after this ordeal is over it will be my black cashmere poncho that gets the most use – it's just a huge square with a hole in the middle for your head, and so open on the sides I can raise my arms however I want. The red poncho is not as constricting as the black turtleneck one, but it's still narrow enough to hold my arms down.

I had no idea there was so much variety in poncho design! I might start thinking about this so I can come up with a dream poncho design in case this should ever happen to me again… Fashion ponchos have completely different requirements than cast-friendly ones, I find.

And now, back to our ratty old sweater.

I bought and felted this broken thing years ago for making mittens and was as thrilled now as I was then to see the fiber content:

Wool and just a bit of angora for softness: Yay!  And the perfect thickness for my situation.

Cutting a splint liner to shape was a different story…

It was difficult to do this with one hand, especially since I had to take the splint off to size it properly. I feel quite free to move my hand when it's in the splint, and I'm able to use my thumb or the tip of the splint to stabilize things, but outside it I freeze up, afraid to make the break worse again or at the very least cause myself pain by moving any part of my left hand.

Thankfully I did get it sorted out..

... and the splint was immediately much more comfortable to wear. It's no fun wearing hard plastic against your skin with just a thin cotton tube for protection. But four weeks in, I still haven't found a solution that will help to protect my knuckles, which feel like they have windburn. Tonight I finally resorted to Vaseline topped off with a strip of fabric from an old sweatshirt as a barrier between me and the wool liner, but that's not 100% effective either. Thoughts? Suggestions?

I do have some strategies for keeping life and Hugs interesting for the rest of my splint time, so please bear with me. And do try not to break any bones of your own! Although it is nice in some ways to be waited on, it is not so much so as to make not knitting bearable when you're as hooked on it as we are, sigh.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you again in a few days!