Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Knitting Content

On the knitting front, there has been a lot of peacefully knitting along on current projects. Which is rewarding, but doesn't actually make for riveting photos. Fortunately, my friends have inexplicably declined to delay the birth of their child until I get some things finished (no doubt they're doing it solely to make this blog more interesting). So I've started swatching for a baby blanket. I have my heart set on making something reversible. So when I saw the Tsock Tsarina post a chart for a reversible Flame Chevron pattern, I thought this might be the one.
front of reversible flame chevron's very nice, but I don't think it's quite right for this yarn. Here's the back, by the way:
back of reversible flame chevron

So now I need to figure out where to go from here. I've poked around some online collections of reversible stitches, and have a couple of possibles. I think deciding on a pattern is kind of important to do before knitting the item.

Snow Is Not So Bad

Me: When I lift a shovelful of white stuff at the end of the driveway, and heave it up onto a snowbank, I do not expect it to go 'gloosh!'

Husband: Really? It didn't do that earlier.

Me: What did it do?

Him, consideringly: It went 'splort!'.

Me: It's not supposed to do that either.

The moral of the story- don't complain about snow. Snow with rain on top is more annoying. Also, you get sheets of ice down the driveway, down the entrance to the CVS parking lot and a lot of other places. I'm just fortunate that the CVS parking lot had another exit, because there was no way I could have gotten the car back up that slope without a dump truck load of sand.

My driveway exit strategy is just as interesting. It involves carefully surveying the street in both directions to ensure that no one is coming, then letting off the brake and hoping I don't slide sideways before reaching the street. And then hoping I get traction on the street before sliding into the opposite snowbank. Nothing like whizzing backward into the unknown to put a little zip in your morning. I bet you're not surprised to hear I'm nearly out of salt though!

Speaking of snow- after my last post, my mom emailed me and said, "Maybe it's time to get a snowblower?"

And I sent her back a whole bunch of reasons why we don't need one. But it got me thinking. Why do we resist the snowblower? As a rule, my husband and I love power tools.

All the reasons I told my mom are true. We do need the exercise- hey, some people pay money to have someone clear their driveway, and then pay for a gym membership so they can exercise. Why not cut out the middleman? It's also that the driveways are not that big- we can just barely fit 5 cars when we have guests.

And it's not only about frugality- we don't like to spend money, it's true, but we could afford it. I think it's about simplicity. The shovels do as good or better job than a snowblower. They take less room to store (and we'd need shovels anyway to carry in the car in case of getting stuck). A snowblower would take a lot of room compared to the 20 or so days a year we'd actually use it. And more than that, it's about stuff. As I've gotten older, I've become increasingly conscious of being imprisoned by stuff. If I own it, it has to be taken care of. Stored when not in use. Dusted. Maintained.

The big house addition added a lot of space, but most of that space was allocated as part of the design. The library is for books, comfortable chairs, and occasional musical instruments. The new sewing room- unlike the old one- is a traffic area. If it's covered in crap, not only do I have to look at it, but I can't really use the room. And I don't want- can't bear- to see that space subsumed into storage.

This goes back to my resolution for this year (put things back when I'm done with them. I've actually been doing pretty well the last couple of weeks. The kitchen counter that tends to accumulate crap has remained clear. Various tables can be seen. My desk has remained clear. And I've been working on other areas.

Over the weekend, I took two large bags of old ragged sheets and towels to the Humane Society (they regularly solicit for them to use as animal bedding). I'm working on my second large bag of clothes. I found a large box full of clothes to be mended dating from before the renovation- they'd just gotten chucked in a box. I wish I could say this was the last packed box, but I'm certainly getting close. I should explain here that much of the house got packed and either put out on the sun porch or chucked in the cellar during the renovation- that's because we ripped out a bunch of interior walls. For a couple of months, the house looked like this:
walls ripped out

So. Small steps. I freecycled a small media storage cabinet- and need do the same with a bunch of other stuff down in the junk closet. Maybe this weekend, if the driveway isn't a deathtrap. I've got mending queued up. I'm staying on top of the clutter in the areas that were cleaned up. Now if I can just screw up the nerve to tackle that scary stack of filing....

Friday, January 16, 2009

You've Got Mail

One of the eternal facets of life in New England, is the ongoing skirmish between homeowners and plow drivers. Now, I have to admit that if I was the one getting up at all hours of the day and night in crappy weather, I'd probably be a little cranky myself. But the plow drivers have an outlet for their angst.

Whenever we shovel out the driveway, no matter how long we wait, the plow will come by in the next hour and shove all the snow from the street back in. Three inches of snow? The plow curl across the end of the driveway will be two feet high. And when the snow is over- sometimes a day or two later? After you've shoveled out again? They come back and widen the street, pushing another three feet of former snowbank back into your driveway. It's an unequal contest even when the homeowner has a giant turbo-powered snow-blower. My husband and I and our two little shovels? We don't stand a chance.

And when that gets old, there's always mailboxes. Ever seen a plow with the outlines of little black mailboxes painted on the sides? Me neither. I bet the town objects. Which is a roundabout way to explain that after the storm earlier in the week, we found our mailbox lying on a snowbank half a dozen feet from the support post. To be strictly fair, the box wasn't in great shape to begin with. I have vague intentions of replacing it, probably when the door finally rusts through and falls off. But certainly not in the middle of winter. So I brought the poor battered thing indoors and looked to see how it was fastened.
mailbox grievously wounded

It turns out, they have a recess in the bottom. So to mount it, you cut a board to the width of the box, fasten it to the post, and then screw or nail the box to the board through the sides. Seemed simple enough, though I made exceptionally quick work of the sawing given the frigid temperature prevailing in the garage (where the big saws live).
mailbox mounting

And, now much more securely fastened, it's been returned to its place by the street.
mailbox shivering in snowbank
I'm just hoping the plow drivers can resist the urge to smack it until spring. For the new box, I'm thinking granite post with steel supports.

In other news, the cheery autumn-colored hat is done.
autumn colored hat

And I've finally cast on a new hat for myself. Not soon enough to combat the artic blast that arrived today, however. The crummy old hat is seeing more action than it has in years. I wore it yesterday, then today going in, and then most of the morning at work. We never did get out of the single digits- it was 0 degrees F (-18 C) this morning when I went in to work, and -9 (-13C) on the way home. Not counting wind chill. (That's outside, we made it into the 60s inside the office. Eventually).

Woats was equally unimpressed by hat and weather. But really, really cute!
Woats being cute

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year, What, When, How?

Okay, so it's not actually a huge surprise. The New Year does follow Christmas, I've been writing 2009 on work documents for two weeks now (after scratching out 2008, then 1999, which for some reason has gotten stuck as the second default year in my brain after last year's...I'm not entirely sure I'm reconciled to the 21st Century).

And there was the big New Year's Day party, followed by the familial visitation. Between the two of these, we embarked on a major cleaning binge, in the middle of which (after having had the card table my computer was on stolen to play board games), I decided it was perfectly ridiculous to own a lovely desk and not use it. After a brief search, said desk was located in the bedroom (the location wasn't actually in doubt, but it was deeply buried in cruft dating back to construction hell) and moved upstairs to the sewing room. (There is going to be a resolution attached to this, but I'll get to it later in the post.) Anyway, after unburying the desk, not to mention my other computer, I now have a much nicer workspace:
desk and computer

Now, I'm not a big maker of resolutions, recognizing that most aren't kept. But I do have a couple for this year.
1) Put things away when I'm done with them. This is probably the biggest source of clutter around the house, and while I'm not extremely anal about tidiness- stop laughing, Mom, you're about to fall off your chair- I do find that minimizing the clutter is restful.

And that leads me to:
2) Finish going through remaining the bags and boxes of crap, throwing out or organizing and finding places for things to live. The biggest bar to putting things away is not having a 'right place' for them to go. Not that I haven't done a lot of that over the last couple of years, but I think it's time to finish.

If I can accomplish these two things, I think it will open the way for a lot of other projects to happen- I won't think, "Gosh, I should do xxx, but first I'd have to clean up the workroom. Well, maybe after I knit a blanket or something." Knitting, you will perceive is one of my favorite forms of procrastination. For example- there's this hat.
blue and white hat

This is part of my 'I'm bored with this yarn, how can I make it more interesting' campaign...also I've had this compulsion to do colorwork ever since the colorwork sweater that took over my brain in October. And despite not liking hats, I really need one for those cold days when the heat leaving your head makes a whooshing noise, and your ears start cracking. My current hat is kind of a mess. (This may have something to do with living on the floor of my car and being used to clean the windshield until I finally decluttered the car this fall...but maybe it's just kind of old. Yeah, that's it. Old and boring.) Anyway this was just a tad too small to fit me, but that's okay. It was fun, so I threw it into the random outerwear donation bag and started another one.
autumn colors hat
This one's not actually for me- I'm still going to knit myself one out of the dark blue, but it will let me check sizing, and besides, I couldn't knit two hats back to back out of the same colors, right?

Colorwork is kind of annoying to travel with, though (two or three skeins of yarn, needs a bag, stitches slip off the dpns), so I've been switching off with the Fudge Brownie Sundae socks when I needed a pocket-sized project. That hasn't moved especially fast, because it's only been getting a few rows here and there. But yesterday was the Boston Celtic Music Festival(fantastic little festival with local performers, lots of traditional music and dancing), so I had a lot of knitting time listening to music yesterday. And, I've finally started the second sock.
Fudge Brownie Sundae socks

Before Christmas, the winter looked endless- weeks and weeks of snowy cold dark. Now? The days are getting longer, my calendar is filling up, deadlines are closer than they appear, and really- maple season is only a couple of short months away, and there's a lot to do. I'd better get cracking!

PS: And in the run up to the New Year's party, my charming spouse got a multimeter and together we tackled the library lamp. It took two engineers, disassembling the lamp twice more, and a total of three trips to the hardware store (he did all three, bless him!) but it's finally working again. Yay!