January 22, 2014

Denny's almost always right

I just sat down with my coffee and typed "I don't know if you've noticed..." and then I remembered that I try not to say unbelievably stupid things in public, and so I've deleted it and I'm starting over, because if you live anywhere near me then you've noticed what I was going to say, which is that this winter has teeth. I don't know what's up with Mother Nature, but she's feeling this winter, and in the cold, snow and ice department, she's really doing some of her best work.  I can tell because every time I step outside my house I'm compelled to an immediate and involuntary expletive. 

I'm not a fan. I've been very clear that my relationship with winter is uneasy, at best. I don't believe in complaining all summer that it's too hot, and then complaining all winter that it's too cold.  I say, take a stand - make up your mind - and I have. I hate being cold. This time of year exhausts me. The shovelling, the short days, the dark. Needing forty-two things every time you leave the house,  wearing a hat to get the mail. The way if you forget your keys you could die, or the way you have to calculate how fast a little kid could freeze solid if you miscalculate the distance or the cold on the way home from the store. 

It's not to say that I don't think winter has it's charms.  Ice is beautiful, in it's own way, and a snowy forest is hard to beat for tranquility, if you can find your way to tranquil while you're stomping your feet to try and get some feeling back into them.  These long, dark tea-times of the soul are a counterpoint that makes me love summer more.  I love that it's a time of year for candles, fireplaces, tea and long hot baths - and there's no denying that shuffling through the snow, challenged by the cold and ice and the fortitude it demands of you feels nothing short of... Canadian.

Gilles Vigneault said “Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver”, which translates to: My country is not a country, it is winter, and there's no denying that. The winter defines most of Canada, and as much as I loathe it, I wouldn't trade it. (Mostly. I can trade a week or two with no loss of patriotism at all.) The cold is, if nothing else - unifying. 

The thing is, it just goes on so long.  So terribly long, and the depth of the thing shortens the amount of time that I can do it without starting to feel really sketchy.  Of all the things that challenge me about winter, it's the loss of colour I mourn the most. The world is so monochrome.  I long for a tree covered in flowers, a garden that's nineteen colours, not just white and grey and black.  I miss a landscape that's vibrant.

These socks are an antidote. 

I finished them last night and I've been wearing them all day today,

and they are everything that I wish I had right now, and as I sit here wiggling my toes and smiling at my socks, I'm thinking about my friend Denny, who always reminds me not to knit too much grey in the winter. It's too hard on your soul.  

Yarn: Miss Babs Cosmic in Deep Sea Jellyfish. Pattern: My basic sock recipe from Knitting Rules, with a picot hem top and an Eye of Partridge heel

Posted by Stephanie at January 22, 2014 2:25 PM

you cannot hate winter if you are a knitter. it is our reason for what we do

Posted by: janice at January 23, 2014 4:24 PM

Amen, Janice!
Greetings from Virginia where it is HOT 9 months of the year!

Posted by: Sally at January 23, 2014 4:42 PM

Love those socks! I feel a sock-a-thon coming on...

(the stupidly cold floors in my 1850s house may be adding to the impetus to get cute feet)

Posted by: leah at January 23, 2014 4:54 PM

This winter I am especially grateful that I work at home and don't have to leave the house most days.

Posted by: Riin at January 23, 2014 7:33 PM

A number of us here in Fairbanks would be very happy if you would send our winter back. We can do without above freezing temperatures and freezing rain. We prefer -40.

Posted by: Gail in Fairbanks at January 23, 2014 9:25 PM

Wow. Talk about cosmic--I just found that exact yarn in my stash, wondering what is was doing there and how it would look. Thanks for the pictures and the inspiration!

Posted by: Debbistyx at January 23, 2014 9:29 PM

Winter is coming,,,,,,,,,

It's here.

It's staying!

Posted by: Nancy at January 23, 2014 9:42 PM

Glad to hear you don't complain in both seasons, my thought exactly!! You will never here me complain about the heat, but cold is fair game, even if we are talking about a low of 30 and a high of 45 (tomorrow). Stop and think that we just had a high of 71 on Tuesday, with hail in our rain. And I think it is more the short days that eats at my soul. But we are past the winter solstice - yay for every additional minute of daylight we get!! OBTW - Love the socks... :-)

Posted by: Fran at January 23, 2014 9:43 PM

For some reason, I love the white of the snow carpeting the ground and the house and all. Maybe because my quilts are strong colors, and I need the balance, or the resting place, for my eye?

But it is so dark in the morning that I'm also glad that I can sleep until it's light out and work from home. I just resumed sock knitting, after a hiatus - maybe my toes are telling me something?

Posted by: fibersong at January 23, 2014 10:07 PM

My mom used to say that spring was God's reward for having gotten through winter. Spring is going to be really rewarding this year!

Love your colorful sock. I'm working on a gray sweater right now. The prior project was a pair of gray socks for my boyfriend for Christmas. I must take Denny's advice to heart...immediately.

Posted by: Mary at January 23, 2014 11:00 PM

Monochrome. That's exactly how I described it when we left winter in New Hampshire for spring in California when we moved here. All the colors!

I love those socks. Pure celebrations of the spring and summer to come.

Posted by: AlisonH at January 23, 2014 11:13 PM

I live in Australia, where the winters are mild and the summers in most of the country are stinking hot. We've had to add a new colour to our temperature charts to allow for the soaring heat. The Canadian winters sound really hard, but, as a knitter, they sound wonderful because there is just no call here for the kinds of knitted items I would love to pile on myself and the people I love.

Posted by: Kate at January 23, 2014 11:28 PM

As a returning knitter after 20 years, I haven't really understood the love so many people have for knitting socks. Until just now. Wow, those make me really, really want to learn how.

Posted by: Michele at January 24, 2014 12:07 AM

Every year around this time I attempt to knit spring into existence. I use the brightest most Springy colored yarn I can find and I knit while chanting "If I knit it, it will come.". Then the weather gets worse and my knit group blames me for pissing off Mother Nature with my yarns and my chants. But I'm not giving up! And to that end, thank you for the link to Miss Babs, I will be knitting the Perfectly Wreckless colorway into socks while chanting very soon!

Posted by: Karla at January 24, 2014 12:24 AM

I'm in Northern California, can we have some of your wet, we are supposed to be getting rain and fog and instead we have a drought,warm days,trees budding out and water rationing. And if it doesn't rain before summer, things are going to be interesting, as we don't get rain again until next winter! Thanks for your blog!

Posted by: Lotus at January 24, 2014 12:51 AM

I love the snow, but could do without the really cold, the wind, or the extra-long dark. My husband wants to move somewhere that's warm all year long, but I love the change of seasons. I grew up in northern BC where we usually had a foot of snow by Hallowe'en. I currently live in Edmonton, and other than being windier, it's pretty close to what I grew up with. Not this year! +12C (in January!) one day, then -14C the next? I think Mother Nature is in menopause and is having hot flashes :P

Posted by: Jaemi at January 24, 2014 1:28 AM

Writing from San Diego, California ...
I don't suppose you want to hear how we are muddling through our winter here - one of the warmest in history. Sorry. I do love your photos of the ice and snowy forest. Look forward to meeting you at Madrona next month.

Posted by: Nancy at January 24, 2014 2:27 AM

Greetings from Helsinki! Your post reminded me how fortunate we are to have the Gulf stream, it's about -10°C here and only a little snow, and no ice storms. But the darkness? Toronto is south, it's Tuscany, it's Barcelona ... I had to check the weather service, you have nine and a half hours of daylight - and we have bit over seven...

Posted by: Anja at January 24, 2014 6:13 AM

I like winter, but we don't have winter in SE England like the winters you do (well, we do occasionally, and everything grinds to a complete halt!) so I'm paying a vast sum to go to Norway for a week in February...

Posted by: Fi at January 24, 2014 7:29 AM

I'm not trying to be fresh or anything - but I must say that is one lovely gusset you knit there. Just sayin.

Posted by: Psmflowerlady/Tammy at January 24, 2014 8:37 AM

Deep Sea Jellyfish! Ever since I saw that at Stitches West last year, I've regretted not buying it. To Miss Babs's website - and I hope she's not stocked out due to Harlot-inspired demand.

Posted by: stashdragon at January 24, 2014 11:01 AM

I ventured out into the New Hampshire cold to buy food for the cat, dressed in too many layers to move properly, without showering because I couldn't be bothered and just wanted to be home, and at the nursery where the pet food is, there was a tiny cold frame on legs, with all sorts of products that held the promise of spring and green growing things. I worshipped at it for a second like an altar.

So I love your socks.

Posted by: Marti at January 24, 2014 11:58 AM

Love Miss Babs' colors. It's been brutal (by our standards) here and my mantra has been that at least we're not Canada and that we had a super mild winter last year. Do you want a picture of the first crocus blooming? A

Posted by: aubrin at January 24, 2014 12:17 PM

Your socks are like vitamins to the winter bound. Or like strawberries, melon, cantaloupes and raspberries. Summer on your feet.

Posted by: Lynne at January 24, 2014 2:47 PM

I hate to rub it in but the sun is shining, the temperature outside in the shade is +10, the aconites and crocuses are blooming. The down side is that there isn't enough snow on the ski hills.

Posted by: Grace M at January 24, 2014 4:50 PM

Hi, Stephanie,
It occurs to me that the method you mentioned for making the ZUZU's Petals cowl could be applied to any triangle-made-from-a-tab-at-the-center-and-worked-out shawl. I was making "Blue jeans and Moon Beams" at the time, and the side wings were about 12 inches long each, so I joined it at the back by doing a three needle bind off on the three edge stitches, put the one remaining stitch on the right hand needle and started to work in the round. I increases 2 stitches every business row at the very back so that my total increases were 6 EOR. Years of hat making tell me that it should be good to go all around that way. 2 pi r and all that. It's coming out really nice and I like it. Thanks for the idea! I'll do this again.
I like this pattern. She gives 5 charts with the same repeat (14 sts) and tells you to work them in any order you like to make the lace. Kinda fun.
Come teach in San Diego and we'll warm you up and give you good Mexican food and craft beer. Toes in the sand while knitting and all that.
Julie in San Diego

Posted by: Julie in San Diego at January 24, 2014 5:31 PM

I'm a bit fond of winter myself, though less so since moving to a generally snow-less part of the country. I do, however, love those socks. Keep those fingers flying, and warm!

Posted by: Meredith at January 27, 2014 12:10 PM
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