Saturday, July 29, 2023

Attack of the chompy sock

Today I curled up with a pair of in-progress socks and a fluffy mystery movie. It's been so hot lately... too hot to turn on a light after dark to count rows, and the daytime heat kept slowing me down so much, sockfesting wasn't an option then either. Still, I was due for R & R & K(nitting). It was taking me ages to get past the heel flap on my current sock project, and that's just not right.

I mean, one time I knit an entire fingering-weight sock in one day! nonstop movies, bottomless cup of tea, snacks for meals... we're talkin' bliss. I can't spare the time for that kind of thing now, but surely I can get past a flap.

Probably the slowdown was because I was debating a tweak to my go-to sock pattern - a slightly wider gusset, so there's less tension across the top of my foot. It's an easy change, just adding a couple of rows to the heel flap and an extra stitch to the pickup for the gusset, but I couldn't decide whether to do two rows or four. Me + Decisions = Paralysis.

Finally I settled on two rows (if it's not enough, I can try four rows next time) and got through the heel turn. 

WHEW. Progress!

I always like this part of a sock. You start off with a tube and end with a tube, but the heel flap and gusset is so cute and innovative and functional. 

It's also where you run into the most dangerous stage of Sock: chompy sock.


You have to be so careful of your fingers, because this is when socks are at their most hungry and aggressive. Fortunately this one was appeased by a long stream of radish slices.

Otherwise, I might not have been able to get this cuddly photo of the two socks together. Aren't they sweet?

I won't have to struggle so much about the second heel flap, now that I know exactly how long I'm making it. Where I'll have to think hard is when I get close to the toe decreases. Should I make the sock two rounds shorter to accommodate the extra rounds in the gusset, or not?

Probably the sensible thing is to stick with my usual, try them on, and graft the toe two rounds early if the foot's long enough. But you know I'm gonna agonize anyway.

Hope you get a little time for yourself this weekend - I've sure enjoyed mine.

Thanks for dropping by, and I'll see you next Saturday!

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Planning ahead

Today I remembered this scarf I wove after I finally got the hang of the Knitter's Loom I bought so I could use up the ends of my yarn supply, rather than let odds and ends waste away in a cupboard:

Pete admired it, so I set it aside for him to use the next winter, thrilled he thought it was good enough to wear out in public with his suit and overcoat. Then I forgot to bring it out again and it's been all these years waiting!

This is the downside of crafting - if you love it for the process as much as the project, you have to find uses for what you made too much of, and storage space for all the supplies you banked for the future. I've ended up mostly knitting socks because they wear out (see previous posts on darning) and you can always do with more of them. 

But the same is true of every other sideline, I've found. I plan ahead, and then circumstances change, and if I'm not careful, it's easy to feel like I failed in some way. 

Well, now I have a solution for that.

I think I mentioned buying myself a Happy Planner as a little impulse present, because the cover had a gorgeous cottage rose on it I knew I'd enjoy looking at all year. Joke's on me because I have ended up using it constantly, and it's never closed. I keep it flipped open on my desk and lying flat, for easy reference and notes, and it could have the meaning of life printed on the cover for all I'd know. 

What I get instead, now that I've figured out how to make it work for me, is moral support.

This is the first half of this past week, set up with stickers and before I started writing in it. Note the welcoming cat, and other small animal friends. I don't have any pets currently but I do love seeing cute animals every time I refer to this book!

I always mark off the top section with a strip of patterned tape, to separate the boring predictable stuff (appointments, commitments, dinner plan) from everything else. Then, if I know I'll be too busy to add much more detail, I throw in extra stickers so I don't feel pressured to fill that space. 

The long column on the left side is the important bit. 

The days of the week at the bottom are where I note what writing project I worked on, if any. Sometimes I fill in the project name, sometimes I just write ZIP or NADA. If I feel like I haven't had writing time for days, I can quickly see whether that's true.

At the top, I write in 'wanted' and then list off whatever I hope to accomplish. At the bottom of that list I write 'got', and leave room for whatever has blindsided me. At the end of the week, I can look back and see what I got through, and why I didn't manage the rest. Usually the blindsider was equally or more important and actually got finished, so I can be all puffed up and proud of myself by the time I get to Sunday even if that's week four of not getting the dried up old paint cans to the dump.

Here's the other half of the week... it's pretty sticker-intensive, because I messed up with my original sticker plan and had to rip things off and cover up the tears with new stickers (I didn't say this process was pretty.)

On weekends I usually have a few tasks I cannot let slip, so I stick a box onto Saturday where I know to look for them and tick them off as I finish. Beside that, I throw in some coordinating sticker that fills the space. I wasn't thrilled with the "You are the creator of your own happiness" slogan, but put up with it because it had the matchy flowers for this week's border. Then this morning I woke up feeling like arrrgg, there's so much I wanna do, it's overwhelming. When I went to check my Saturday to-do list I glanced at that sticker and it finally fit. As long as I enjoy how I choose to spend my free time, who cares if there isn't quite enough of it?
I ended up filling that long blue sticker on the left with non-decor things I was prioritizing for the tiny home installation (electrician, cross-bracing specs for the foundation) and the little flowered box with a note on drapery options I don't want to forget. Because you know I know how to have a good time.
Again: the only important thing on this side is the box in the bottom right corner, with the little dog cheering me on. It's where I note down what I accomplished that week. I might never look back at the other parts of these pages, but revisiting this section of the planner a week or six later reminds me I'm moving forward and achieving some goals. 
Just not the knitting ones, ahem.
Here is next week. I picked an orange theme because we have another heatwave rolling in, and it's more of a blank because I didn't mess up the pages so badly this time. I'll throw in more stickers as needed, if I feel like it. It surprises me how helpful it can be when a day goes sideways, to regroup with a book of stickers and kind of reshape my sense of how a day is going.
First half:

Second half:

The whole thing:
Normally the paper in this book is clean and crisp but with all the humidity lately, it's definitely been easier to rumple. You can really see the shadows on the left page, where I'd made all those mistakes on the other side. Another good use for stickers I guess!

True Confessions: I don't expect to buy another Happy Planner for next year. I don't like how you can't easily reuse the covers or dividers, especially given how much plastic is involved. I like the functionality and page size and paper quality though, so I may set up an undated journal with leftover page inserts.
What I will do in some format is continue the process of noting goals, acknowledging surprise developments, and celebrating achievements. That's been a real winner for me, and I wanted to offer it to you today in case it's of use in your life, too.
And now, to put a reminder into the October section of my planner: bring out the stripey scarf for Pete.

Hope you have a great weekend! Look forward to seeing you here again next Saturday.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

A caterpillar that looks like a stick

I have important business to discuss, but in case you find caterpillar sticks much more intriguing I will leave it to the end of today's Hug. Which begins with this startling piece of information: Once or twice a day Pete and I walk a specific 5K route. This sounds boring even to me, but hear me out. I mean it's not like I'd concoct some elaborate story about our daily walks just because I did zero knitting this week. Or even darning, though I did happen to pick up this beautiful hat I knit many winters ago...

and remembered why it's a bad idea to leave wool-based things out and exposed all year long.

MOTHS. And to think they're so pretty as adults, and fascinating as caterpillars. 

Which brings us back to our 5K walk, which is not remotely dull, in part because the houses and parkettes we pass are all gorgeous. Their gardens evolve through the growing season and because decorating is a competitive sport around here, when the gardens are done, the Thanksgiving and Hallowe'en decor is just getting going. Then there's Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, and countless birthdays and baby arrivals. It is a nonstop show. 

Also, because much of the route is hugged by a ravine, we see a lot of animal life, and not just a myriad of dog breeds out with their humans and engaging with their canine neighbours. 

Last night's walk took the prize. I spotted a few twigs on one square of sidewalk and as I watched, one of them bent double and moved forward. Pete didn't believe me because when he looked, it was just a stick. 

To prove he point he picked up a different stick and touched it. Which proved my point, because it immediately went double again. Go me! 

This is not actually the stick pictured above,
which really was a stick, but they looked exactly the same,
and I did not photograph the caterpillar while it was still,
so I am taking creative license.

Isn't it lucky the stick he picked up wasn't also a caterpillar.

For a while now we've kept count of specific animals we spot as we go. Coyotes and foxes turn up very seldom and we've seen zero of them this year. Skunks are also, thankfully, a rarity. Last time I was about five feet from one when I saw it and dragged Pete onto the (thankfully deserted) road so we wouldn't get sprayed. We've had a groundhog in our back yard twice to nibble our hosta leaves, and spotted another heading to somebody's vegetable patch last night.

Next to birds and squirrels, raccoons used to be the top sighting because they are just everywhere around here - crossing the street at dusk, their humped backs making a dark spot against the streetlights, or maybe up in a tree, rustling. The other night we saw a car brake early for a stop sign, and stay stopped while a mother raccoon ushered her two small raccoon babies across the road. She looked for all the world like the crossing guard who works the same corner during the school year. Less cute are the raccoons swarming garbage cans the night before collection day. We steer well clear of them then. As opposed to just 'clear'. 

Lately it's all bunnies all the time, including an upswing in baby bunnies which are super fast on their tiny legs. Even three years ago we might see one in a month; now it's four or five per walk. I am grateful not to be trying to grow my own carrots.

The most fun moment happened the night we stopped to watch two fair-sized rabbits in a kind of standoff. One rushed the other, who went vertical, then landed a fair distance behind its competition and bolted off. If extreme leapfrog was an Olympic event, that bunny would win.

However! there is one animal we like the most and see only on our evening walk. A very pretty, quite young cat who lazes on her front steps until she sees us coming. Then she leisurely strolls to the sidewalk and circles our legs till we give her the attention she clearly deserves. Classic cat move, amiright?

Last night was different though. After the caterpillar stick, we saw a big bunny in the middle of our feline friend's yard, and the cat herself on the fence, supervising. 


The tree hogs all the attention, I know,
but the cat is top left, and the bunny
is front lower centre.

We stuck around long enough for her to weigh her options (stalk bunny, or visit with humans) and eventually she deigned to get up from her very comfortable position.

watchful bunny

As soon as she hit the ground, she made a run for the rabbit, who couldn't have been less concerned. That cat may be fast but she's nowhere near fast enough. I don't know what elaborate dance move she was pulling here to make the bunny think she was much more interested in something else. The bunny didn't care.


Eventually, as usual, our cat friend made her way to us and we had a very nice chat with her. She's so, so soft. Even softer than I would imagine any of the bunnies would be, if we ever had the chance to touch one. 

And while I'm on this subject: no, I haven't seen any developments around the nest one of our squirrels made in the tree opposite my desk. We may not get squirrel babies after all (imagine a sadface here.)

Okay! time for the important business matter. 

Back when I started writing Hugs, it was perfectly legal for me to offer a notification service every time I posted something new. Anybody who wanted to could subscribe, and get an e-mail noting that there was something fresh to read here. Later the law quite sensibly changed to allow this ONLY if the person offering the service provided a mailing address that anybody with computer access could see. That idea wasn't popular around my house, go figure, so people had to just wander in from time to time to see if I'd been by, which during our lengthy house renovation was rare.

Now that I'm posting every Saturday even if all I have to tell you is 'LOOKIT! A moving stick!!', the notification service is less useful. I mean, just come by at some point on a Saturday night and you'll see a Hug waiting for you.

However, I have finally organized a business mailing address I can use in establishing a notification service *and* a quarterly newsletter, in which I could write about... well, anything I suppose. Things I would not post on a blog out in the interwebs, or specific fiction-writing news that many (most?) Hugs readers might care about less than they do insects.

So: my question to you is, would you be interested in such a service, or indeed newsletter? Interested enough to post a comment, or to e-mail me via the e-mail link on the sidebar? (It has not escaped me that our little community here is much more comfortable with the e-mail option, and I am always glad to connect.) 

I'm trying to focus my energy on the most valuable stuff on my to-do list, so the feedback would be a help.

That's it for me today - I have a bunch of writing progress to make this afternoon and it's just rainy enough to make that appealing. Hope your weekend is going along beautifully, and I'll see you next Saturday!

Saturday, July 8, 2023

ITube YouTube WeAllTube

I have been hard at work writing this week, which means I have been procrastinating heavily online this week.

When I am writing, all my other interests come crowding in.
Like, look guys, she's awake! Let's play!
It is so inconvenient.

One of my tasks this year is to work up some enthusiasm to participate in social media, so some of my dawdling is done on various sites to see what might appeal. It's not coming easily to me. I suppose I might just not bother in the end, but I'm conscious the right space might allow me to pursue a fresh form of creativity, and that would be fun. Mostly though, I just keep drifting back to YouTube.

YouTube: a leafy path to anywhere.

The algorithms there just really GET me. Interior design, things to cook in a skillet, rescue animals finding safe haven with loving, lucky humans, tiny toddlers inadvertently leading a dance class, unlikely adults killing it in a dance class, hilarious Carol Burnett sketches, carpentry experts building cabins in snowy woods, perfect writing music (and yes, sometimes it's playing against the backdrop of a cafe on a rainy night), people sewing elaborate garments cut from linen and wool - you know what I mean. It's endless riches.

I do have to ration the sewing videos though as I am very quickly filled with envy and self-loathing for not installing an elevated cutting table when we renovated our house. Or insisting on a dedicated, gorgeously-appointed sewing room.

Also, it would be risky to reignite my interest in sewing my own clothes. I did it for quite a while before I drifted into knitting, even to the extent of a Chanel-style suit and my own wedding dress, so I am well-versed in that rabbit hole. No writing happens in there.

Meanwhile, our tiny home has arrived at its rural home.

It's pretty much sitting there like a stack of building supplies, unconnected to anything and without a permit to be installed, but the permit should be coming in the next week or two and then it's Septic Bed And Ground Screw Party Time! 

That's right. We are fancy and getting flush toilets. Or one of them, anyway.  And instead of a concrete foundation which would take a while to cure and is likely to crack over time, we are having helical piles driven into the soil. These are basically giant screws made from galvanized metal, inserted far enough down into the ground for the house to remain totally stable, even when we launch into spontaneous dance parties. 

From the inside, looking out

Still no progress on the well, but even without running water the time is fast approaching when I will have to sew a lot of drapes and furniture skirts and throw pillow covers. Probably the home textile production will cure me of any desire to sew a linen tunic with dropped shoulders, but you never know. It might be a gateway project.

Let's leave today's look at the house with one more view from inside. Since it's not in it's final position the actual trees will change... I believe there will be more of them, as well. I don't know about you but I can never have too many trees to look at.

The banquette against this window
folds down into a twin bed...
or do I mean writing chaise?

It's a lot of white walls in there, but I've found that's best for the way we live. I'm a textile fanatic so drapes are a thing, we have a huge slew of bright red vintage stuff to bring in, everyone but me reads their books in paper form, and there's a lot of art and other things from the cottage needing a home. After the dark brown panels in the cottage, it was time to bring in the light.

Hope you've had a wonderful week, whether you spent it living your own life or enjoying another's vicariously on everyone's favourite Tube! See you back here again next Saturday.


Saturday, July 1, 2023

At home in a green garden

To celebrate the start of July, I thought we might open today's Hug with a nature snap. As in, welcome to my garden!

I designed the layout and set the flagstone (despite undiagnosed bronchitis, fool that I was), and Pete did all the planting. He still does all the weeding and maintenance while I enjoy the view. We must be twelve years into this garden now and the flagstone is still level, so I feel pretty good about that. 

Somebody else feels good about it too, or specifically, the city's maple tree in the middle of it.

 This tree was planted, I think, ninety years ago, and I fear it may be into its last decades. Every so often the city comes along and lops off limbs it deems to be a problem. That's led to some holes as the wood rots down. And one hole in particular, the one directly in front of the desk where I do most of my writing, is big enough for a squirrel to make a nest in it.

You can just make out the leafy lining
- now brown and textured -
hanging down from the hole

Sorry about not getting a picture of the squirrel racing back and forth with fresh maple leaves torn from their stems and carried home by mouth. It was adorable. If there are babies, maybe I will be more fortunate. We've been friendly with the squirrels here since we moved in, and I've never seen one of their babies. Since I managed to see the baby robins though, I'm feeling like this might be my year.

In knitting news, I've thought of a way to beat the heat while simultaneously buying myself more knitting time. I mean, that sock darning pile on my desk is now bigger than the stack of wearable socks in my drawer.

You guessed it. I'm going to prop my Kobo on my knee, load it with stories set in a snowstorm, and pick up my needles. Another feature, apart from bookshelves too crowded for any new additions, to make the transition to paperless reading that much easier.


Hope you have a wonderful weekend and I'll see you next Saturday!