Saturday, December 30, 2023

Happy new year to be

I'm a little early on this, but I'm wishing you well for 2024 and wouldn't it be nice if there was slightly less of the bad even if we don't get more good? Though I must show you one tiny bit of good: I made progress on the sock I started years ago and had to rip back to the cuff. I might actually be able to wear these ones come April!


2023 was jam-packed for me personally with loads of positive change, big and small. I am definitely happier and less stressed than I was at this time last year. And I accomplished some dream goals, ranging from decluttering the house to winning an award from Crime Writers of Canada for my unpublished crime novel. 

And I have hopes for 2024. I want to do a little landscaping at the rural property we look after - something that's nice to look at and smell, but also useful to local insects and wildlife. I have a manuscript to revise, another to write, and a third to finish. I'm hoping to do even more decluttering, but at a more relaxed pace to match our evolving use of the house. I have some books to read in a group next year thanks to my having finally joined Instagram, and I'm adapting my planner system to make it easy to keep track of that.

Of course the most important first step in planner setup is to make little art pieces to post over the sticky adhesive marks on the Filofax cover page, and to buffer the damage inevitably caused by the zipper pull that's part of the Malden binder design. 

Because frankly, when things get messy, it's nice to step back and look at a part of the plan that's untouched since the start, when everything was potential and not at the 'worse before it gets better' stage.

I hope your 2024 is great but also that your lead-in to 2024, your New Year's Eve and Day, are exactly the balance of fun and peaceful that's right for you.

Any resemblance to
a baby new year or aged old year
is purely coincidental and socky

Thanks again for coming to see me today and I look forward to meeting up next Saturday!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

at last holiday

 I say 'at last', but I know that for many of us it's 'at last minute', and all about the things that still aren't done!

For me this year the unfinished is not just the long-suffering knits I'd hoped to clear from my side table, but also baking, so I will keep this brief and dig into the flour.

I hope you all have a wonderful season, however you celebrate the closing days of the year, and that you get enough sleep going in (and not just in the form of collapse, after!)

Thanks for taking a moment to spend with me here and I'll see you again next Saturday with a new Hug.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Out for a walk

It's been years since I've been able to visit the property we maintain but I got out there this week, and I have pictures!

I didn't take any of the interior of the shed we spent all year setting up there because it's serving as a shelter with bathroom, accessorized with muddy work boots lined up on a shelf. Anyway the outside is plenty beautiful enough for this week.

Pete has been hard at work all summer dragging fallen trees out of the forest and rounding up bits of fence, but he took breaks to cut a walking path into the meadow and up the hill so I could climb it. Above, I have a photo of where we started, on the west side near the driveway. Note the logs on the right he pulled out of the woods while I did some other fussing. He's trying to do as much cleanup as he can before the snow flies.

And now, the walk. Here we've gotten to the end of that section and turned right, into another trail that crosses the last of the flattish area, past the ponds to the foresty bit.

Behold: a frosty pond!

Apparently it's full of frogs and turtles in the summer. 

I overshot the path to the hill to get that pic. Let's go back a few feet to the land bridge between the pond and the marshy patch that is likely to be more pondy now that Pete's fixed its leak. The hill doesn't look too bad from here, does it.

Appearances: once again misleading. It's got some very steep sections. But even I, with lingering breathing issues post-Covid plus fierce determination, made it up there in a little over seven minutes. 

At the top, Pete cut another trail so you can catch the view from more angles. This one looks east.

Looking north, we get to see our neighbours' beautiful cornfield.

It's like something out of a novel set in rural 19th century England, don't you think?

Okay: time to head back down. Pond on the right, foresty bit on the left.

I want to enjoy this path while I can, because doing it in spring may only be possible in gumboots! and in winter, snowshoes. 

Back at the bottom. The pond is surrounded by fuzzy seedy plants and blown cattails. Once you've reached the south side, there's a path into the trees.

Wish I'd seen Pete puttering the tractor along to make these routes. We're trying to leave as much meadow as possible, to help give insects and animals maximum shelter, but hopefully they don't grudge us sharing. 

Apart from the chipmunk who was very offended by our entering his forest and made a lot of noise at us before fleeing into some fallen logs.

Pete did cut a lot of grass down at the entrance to the property. I thought the shadows were just beautiful.

Then I turned and saw the shed, perched high atop the gravel we brought in for a level surface, and wondered if bright white siding was quite the right idea! 


Oh well... when somebody needs the bathroom or a place to warm their extremities, they won't have any trouble finding it. And that ain't nothin'.

Meanwhile, I don't know about you, but looking at these pictures all together I can't help thinking what a gorgeous yoke these colours would make on an Icelandic sweater. YUM

Hope you'll join me again next week, and that you enjoying this little vicarious stroll. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Winter knits

Hello, basket of warm winter accessories! Some of these are quick enough for last minute presents if you're in need of some, but I'm mostly showing them for fun.

The weather is still mildish here but I am definitely reaching for fingerless mitts at minimum before I go outside. And since I am finally at the finishing stages of my 12-month decluttering odyssey (read: making the jumble of hats and scarves pretty) I thought you'd like to check out what's in my regular rotation.

These mitts didn't see much action last winter, mostly because I couldn't find them, but they are my prized possession, the knit I would take with me if I could only have one project.


They are twined with sock-weight yarn, using a pattern from Linda Ligon's Homespun, Handknit (a must have book, incidentally) by the brilliant Carol Rhoades - Two End Mittens. They came out perfectly. Check out this beautiful cuff:

The yarn was harvested from goats and sheep living on neighbouring farms, and hand-dyed by my very talented friend Sylvia who no longer sells yarn. Like I said: a treasure. They are warm, but not for really frigid days. In that scenario I wear the second mitts I made from this pattern using my own heavier handspun yarn.

I'm also keeping this shawl out for use when I'm wearing a dressier coat. You may recognize it from my earlier blog banner... the pattern is Sugared Violets by Rose Beck, available at Ravelry and worth every penny of the pattern cost.

I don't always want a hat so my Hatcowl is my other option for a black coat. My design for this, free on the linked pattern page, is so handy. Tie the drawstring tight and you have a great slouchy hat. Loose, it's a perfect neckwarmer. I'm making another now in a different stripe to wear with my red puffer coat, but we know what I'm like these days... slow enough to be debuting it two years out.

Despite being active on Instagram now, for books, I sometimes stumble across my name linked to my various knitting patterns. It can feel a bit weird! But the other day I spotted pictures of a very lovely version of my Shelter Valley Cowl and that was just nice. I knit this one with a silk blend Trish picked up for me as a special gift, taking it as many rounds as I could get before the skein ran out. It's warm and soft and I often wear it around the house if I'm a little chilly.

Okay here's a super quick beanie - my Slice of Life hat. Make it longer than the pattern calls for if you want some flop on top. This one is succinct if you pull it down tight. I like it with a coat that zips up high and warm so I don't need a scarf, for a trim look.

I never published the pattern for my fingerless mitts, but I love all the variations I made of them and wear them a ton. This one in light grey yarn from Viola has a lace panel I didn't get quite right in relation to the thumb opening, oops:

And these are my blue pairs, for less dressy days when I'm out in jeans.

If it's really cold I wear the handspun-by-me pair on the left, using the excellent Ferryboat Mitts pattern from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. Otherwise I wear my own design on the right, without the lace panel and again in sock yarn from Viola. Isn't Emily brilliant with colours?

My favourite fun pair in my unpublished design is this one in leftover Vesper sock yarn from Knitterly Things. If you've been here a while, you know how much I love stripes!

And that is enough from me. My apologies for posting so late in the day. Hey, it's still Saturday, right? I'll leave you with the basket looking a lot less tidy than when we started, and look forward to seeing you next week. As always I'm so pleased you chose to spend a little time with me.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

The tree is up

Last year I was overwhelmed in the run-up to Christmas and it felt like one more chore to do. This year: BRING IT. I am so ready for the break, and I am all about the nostalgia.

This is a mini mitt I made in a class on twined knitting. I think I made a full-sized pair to give away, but that might be dreaming on my part because we all know what a selfish knitter I am, making things mostly for my own use because I can't bear to part with whatever it is. 

The thing about twined knitting is that you have to twist two strands of yarn around each other with every stitch. The natural and comfortable direction in which do this, for me, is the same direction in which yarn is plied, which results in impossibly twisted-up balls of feeder yarn you have to constantly stop and address. The solution to this problem is to spin your own yarn, then ply it in the opposite direction such that twining is simple and straightforward. 

So, yeah. If I take up twined knitting again, it means taking up spinning again, and that honestly is not a bad outcome for me if I can just clear enough of my calendar. I loved both those things a lot. 

Another thing I loved back in the day: Magic Cookie Bars. And I made some last night, for the first time since I was a teen, probably.

In my shift away from processed foods I forgot how completely decadent and delicious these things are. Just the aroma coming off the pot where I melted butter and then stirred graham cracker crumbs into it was Wow. And once you have that pressed neatly into a pan, you pour sweetened condensed milk over, then top that with chocolate chips and coconut? I mean... how can you not eat the whole thing? Thankfully you can freeze the squares and they keep for three months, so there is some reprieve from overdoing the sugar load.

One of my big jobs for 2023, apart from organizing a tiny home (which was not on the agenda in January when I developed this year's life goals) was decluttering our house. Technically I started that job in November but there are so many cupboards and cubbyholes to address I clearly needed the extra time. I'm STILL not done! But this week, going through a junk drawer, I found two more of the precious felted wool Christmas pins I made years ago. 

I loved these too and now that the tree is up and I have Official Festive Lighting, I am going to reexamine some decluttered craft nooks and see if I can't find the gear for these projects. I know I have more tiny bells and felt pieces and embroidery thread somewhere. 

If you'd like to give them a go with your own scraps and backing pins, my mini tutorial is here

One thing that isn't nostalgic here is this year's wreath, a departure from our usual plain green boxwood over the living room fireplace mantel:

The florist didn't have our usual size in anything but this version with glossy red faux berries, so we agreed to be spontaneous and break tradition. Normally the wreath lives on the wall all year, fading to sage for Easter and gold for Canadian Thanksgiving (October) before being renewed in December. Not sure how the red berries will play for all that, but they're only wired on, so if I get to it fast enough in January before the boxwood is too dry and brittle, I might be able to remove them.

I should just be sure not to indulge in too many sweets first because I will need a steady hand, heh.

I hope your holiday plans are coming along nicely and feel more like an indulgence than a responsibility. Pretty sure we could all use whatever break we can manage. Thanks again for spending this time with me, and I'll see you here next Saturday!