February 5, 2007

Four minutes

That's how long, on foot- it takes to get to the grocery store, but Joe and I were just sitting here discussing how we could possibly avoid it. (There's no way to avoid it. Dinner would just be too strange made from what we have left and we're going to run out of toilet paper.) Over the last few weeks the temperature here in Toronto has become - well. Normal...and this morning when I woke up only sheer force of will got me up and into the frosty house. Our furnace is very old, and while it is very fuel efficient, it was never meant to heat the whole house...there are no ducts in the rooms where there used to be woodstoves, for example ("used to be" is a very important part of that sentence) and the ancient beast truly groans along when the temperature gets into the -30 range. (Yes, it has occurred to me that the reason it is so efficient is because it is only heating half of the freakin' house.)

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At -30 the girls willingly wear hats and mitts and scarves and longjohns under their pants to go to school. Exposed skin freezes in fewer minutes than it takes to walk there and they are Canadian. They know that frostbite is not good looking. Amanda was laughing today as she put on her layers. She has a new friend in her class, a recent immigrant from Africa, and as she was telling him that he was going to need hats and a scarf for this week, that soon it would be very, very cold, she mentioned -20 to -40 as common for this time of year and he laughed. Laughed and laughed. Thought for sure she was having him on. "Amanda" he giggled "it only gets that cold in the Arctic sometimes."

I asked Amanda what she had said to him then. "Welcome to Canada" was her reply.

I avoid going out when it gets like this. I hate the cold. Hate. It. There are not enough layers in all the world to make me happy outside when it gets to be this cold. Up to about -20 I can consider happiness, swathed in hats and scarves and longjohns and long undershirts and thermal tops and hoods, I contemplate skating and winter walks in High Park...but the minute the windchill takes it down a millimetre past that I can't do it. I go outside...since the whole world is out there, but I don't like it, and I sure don't go for fun. Every bit of my being tells me that these are the days to make tea, cook soup, bake bread and hunker down, taking refuge in all my warm soft wool, waiting for the big ball of fire in the sky to be worth something to me again.

There's no point fighting your instincts, so I finished these:
(As an aside, you can tell I finished these a few days ago because the snow clinging to them is "warm snow". You know, the fluffy bigger stuff? The snow we have now is "cold snow" and it's small and gritty and squeaky. Far less attractive to pose with mittens.)

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The Delicato mitts, modified to fit my wee hands, Alchemy Alpaca Pure, colour 35e- Fauna.

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These are an absolutely genius idea and were pressed into service immediately. I don't know if they are useful on their own in this climate, but as a layer put on under your full mittens, they make boarding the TTC, opening a door, taking out your keys - all slightly less painful. All those times when you have to pull off your mittens to perform an urban function? These are brilliant for reducing the amount of skin that has to be out in the open.

That done, I went into the stash and came out with a box I've been saving. Something the colour of sunshine.

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Oh yes.

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Yes.

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Bohus. Bohus with soft, soft, super warm wool (50%angora, 50% wool) hand-dyed by Solveig Gustafsson. The Bohus movement was a solution to the depression in Sweden in the 1960s...you can read more about it here if you like, (or here at the Bohusläns Museum) and the garments are truly unique. Hand knit on tiny needles (2.5mm are the "larger" needles in the pattern) out of yarn that duplicates the original fine yarn (it knits to a gauge of 34 stitches to 10cm) and the patterns have purl stitches incorporated into the intricate and beautiful yoke patterns. This kit is "Guld" and I love it with a stinking unholy passion that burns brighter than a thousand glowing afterburners on Colonial Raptors.

There's a picture of the finished sweater on Solviegs website. (I couldn't figure out how to link to that page. Go here, then click on "Nyheter" at the top, then look for "Guld" among the examples of the kits that she has recreated.) I'm completely enchanted and over the moon with it. The yarn is so soft and the needles are so small and it's satisfying the way that baking bread is. It can't be rushed.

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It's not hard...it's just, small.

Now. Off to the grocery store before the snow comes. Have any Canadians out there figured out how to get salad greens home before they freeze?

Posted by Stephanie at February 5, 2007 10:17 AM