W is for Winter and Wool

Yesterday, before I drove home from up north, Jen and I drank a pot of coffee while conducting surveillance for the wild turkeys we were lucky enough to see one morning, and congratulated ourselves on a near perfect weekend. In fact, the only reason we are not calling it absolutely perfect is because we don’t want to make you too jealous. We hiked, we wished for snowshoes,

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we skated on the forest trail at Arrowhead, lit by torches.

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We knit, we cooked, we ate, we walked by Georgian Bay, frozen and perfect, and saw what passes for a sunset on the beach. (We admit, you may need a bold Canadian heart to find the romance in a winter beach sunset. There are waves. They’re just frozen instead of lapping.)

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We talked, we laughed. Jen tried to teach me how to stop on skates. (Skating is not a strong suit of mine. I like it, but I’m not great, and my entire deceleration technique involves snowbanks.)

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After some careful coaching by Jen, my technique still involves snowbanks. We also knit, and knit, and knit. Everywhere.

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Jen agreed to model the fabulous cowl I just finished, and we were able to expose a whole new region of Ontario to the mystic practice of hanging knitwear in trees for photos.

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Pattern: Bonfire. Yarn: Freia Fine Handpaints, Sport weight, in Flare and Charcoal.

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I love this project.  It was grand fun to knit, and the finished thing is so nice that I can’t stop snuggling it, and every time Jen saw it in the cabin she said “Oh that’s so beautiful.”

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I did not give it to her.

The astute among you noticed that there was what appeared to be a hat in the last post, even though I distinctly said a few posts ago that I was never knitting another hat.

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It was a hat, or more properly, a chemo cap. Life happens, people need things, knitting is still a good way to store and transport love, and it turns out there can’t be rules about hats.  This particular love container is 100% Cashmere, and if that and the care I put in every stitch doesn’t help, I don’t know what will. (Chemo excepted.)

How’s your winter?

94 thoughts on “W is for Winter and Wool

  1. I think I’d like to have your winter. It sounds wonderful, even the snowbank stopping. That was my strategy for skiing for many years. My winter is mostly drizzly rain, though not nearly as cold. Love the cowl!

  2. I need to move to Canada. There’s an ice skating trail through the woods??! What!
    Absolutely beautiful, all of it. I’m glad this year is bringing you joy!

    • There are several now (when the temps don’t screw the skating opportunities). There are also ones in Quebec, near Ottawa, ON and under the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto.

      • Yeah but if you believe in evidence-based, peer reviewed science and the expertise of people who went to school for over a decade to be the best at what they do, then chemo is the way to go.

  3. I’m also pretty amazed by that gorgeous ice skating trail through the woods….lit by torches. Amazing. What a (nearly) perfect sounding weekend.

  4. Love the cowl, we moved to Georgian Bay when we retired. Wonderful place to live, the top thing on my bucket list was to walk on the beaches in the middle of winter. So much to do in the winter.. You made some great memories..

  5. Wow-it looks like you had a really great time. I’m very envious of your winter. The winter here in southern Connecticut has been disappointing, to say the least. My father was Quebecois, so I think I might be genetically inclined to favor the cold. Enjoy!

  6. I’m so glad you got to journey to Jen and I know she’s glad you were there! It looks like a lovely place to be – yes, winter is one of my favorite times of year. The knitting is beautiful. I love brioche and the hat is from your heart. Wishing you blessings!

  7. Beautiful Bonfire! I hope Nancy Marchant is a friend of yours, because when you first posted about it I immediately bought her book! Can’t wait to cast it on with the Berroco Nebula I just got.

  8. I knit several hats for my brother for him to wear during chemo. When I called them “chemo caps” he said he preferred to refer to them as “health hats”.

  9. Lovely post. Your relationship with Jen is truly something special. Um, turning might be a better way to slow and stop your skates than a snow bank…or not…
    My winter? Kind of a non winter here in Northern California. My irises are so confused that they have been blooming for a month. Freaky. If you want to see wild turkeys, deer, foxes, and perhaps a mountain lion you are welcome to come sit on the deck at my house, unless it’s the lion which we will go inside to view.
    Threw my back out so badly I am unable to go on a trip to New Zealand and Fiji that is leaving today.(husband is still going) However, all is not bad. Can now enter the Ravellenic games, am preparing to play Grandma Joad in a local theater production opening in March, and have booked 10 days in Mexico in May with the husband. Lemons into lemonade!
    Yarny goodness being slowly added back into my life as my body permits. Can knit and my loom is calling me as are beads, my ukuleles, and…… 🙂

  10. Sounds as if you had a good time, but we want to know the whole truth: How many yarn stores did you and Jen pillage? (Elliot needs a photo or video of your technique for decelerating while skating!)

  11. I ripped out a non-obligation project I’d spent 10 hours on but which was making me irritated rather than happy. That was refreshing. I also sorted through the WIPs box and it’s down to 10, which is better than usual. Hoping to get a few of those off the needles this week before Loopy Academy starts up again next week

  12. January became better because last week(ish) I swear I saw you in Rideau mall. As a long time reader living in Ottawa who has never met you it thrilled me to either see you or your doppler walking around like real people. 🙂

  13. Our winter has been weird — snow and ice followed by freezing temperatures followed by an unusual thaw. I have to say, Canadian winters sure are pretty!

  14. Sounds like the perfect winter escape! I am so glad you had fun and did a bit of knitting. The cowl is GORGEOUS! The hat looks soft and warm. You are a good person to abandon your vow of going hatless for a friend.

  15. I’m so glad our winter has disappeared for the most part. Warmer temps here in Dayton, Ohio over the weekend have melted all but the very large snow piles pushed up to curbs when the plows came through. It’s rainy and dreary here today but I prefer that over snow.

    I lost my mom five days after you lost yours. And you and I became Grams about a month apart in the Springtime last year. I almost feel like we are related! Hope your winter continues in a not-too-snowy way. Happy knitting.

  16. You almost make Canadian winters sound like great fun. Good this was not the week(s) were it was almost- 40Cº. But then, I’m Costa Rican and finding the fun in winter is kind of hard.
    That cowl is gorgeous!!! And you are lucky to have such a precious friend.
    Have a nice trip back home and to Elliot. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I just finished reading your blog from beginning to end and it was great! It became my companion during an insomnia season -didn’t cause it-, hahaha!

  17. My winter is coming back, snow falling although the temperature here in my part of Kansas is 36 degree. I knit scarves for a college student project, and today I got a thank-you postcard from organization headquarters — made my day.

  18. What a wonderful best friend’s weekend! I can’t wait for mine next month! May the love of your hat be a comfort to he or she who needs it!

  19. It is 60 degrees F where I live and sunny. I have a sock almost finished and a mitten almost finished. Since winter is almost over here I’m making Christmas presents

  20. Chinese food! What I would have given for some fried rice, chow mein, and chicken fingers while I was stuck in bed due to chemo pain. Hats close second, I never realized how much heat you do lose from your head. Even slept with one for a number of weeks until weather was warmer. Always carried one because you never know how some places set their heat/air.

    Beautiful hat and cowl.

  21. Looks like you had a splendid weekend! Here in northern NY (yes, its north of Toronto – think Cornwall) we had a brutal 10 days or so post Christmas but the weather has moderated. I actually walked a bit on bare sidewalks at m y university campus – won’t last, though. Bonfire looks wonderful (yes, keep it). I have that book and I’d better dig it out. Back to winter here…. we are having freezing rain tonight and then rain tomorrow and then -1F the night after. Real rollercoaster winter this one is.

  22. My winter… (breaks down and sobs) It’s high 20s to early 30s by day (80-90F) and low 20s by night (65-70F). Normally that would be a week or two at most in our February, not most of January.
    I am so ready for autumn (I don’t like to sweat into my knitting) but it’s a long way ahead right now.
    Enjoy the cold – and that magical torchlit icepath!

  23. Lovely cowl. Perfect to raise the spirits during the downside of our Canadian winter. I hope that that incredibly soft blue hat is not for your sister. I know how persistent cancer can be.

    • I immediately wondered the same thing regarding the light blue hat. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it’s not for Erin. Still, there are several of us post-chemo people on this blog, and we’ve come through it pretty OK. It’s not pleasant to go through, but there are worse things (e.g., being drawn and quartered).

  24. My winter right is… a beautiful Australian (Tasmanian!) summer. Beautiful sky, beautiful sunshine. Still knitting hats and stuff though.

  25. You just have to stay warm with a Bonfire cowl made in Flare. Your weekend looked fabulous. We are in the middle of a blizzard right now and its great. I can say that because I am retired and don’t need to go anywhere. The slow cooker is going and I just cast on a hat.

  26. Beautiful cowl. Sending good vibes to travel with the chemo cap.

    I stop that way too when skating….though it is usually crashing into the boards.

  27. What a beautiful cowl! My winter is gray and muddy. Our sewer line had to be replaced which involved digging up the front yard and cutting down a beautiful tree. As much as I loved that tree we had to have indoor plumbing. I still have joy despite US politics and the dead of winter.

  28. The frozen waves are amazing – lovely to see. I’ve been eyeing up that pattern in Nancy Marchant’s book – I love the colours. Winter’s more fog than snow with us at the minute but properly cold.

  29. Such lovely knitting all through the post.

    This survivor thanks you for making the beautiful cashmere hat. Chemo makes winter even colder. A hand knit hat made with great love and great yarn is a double blessing.

  30. Sounds like a truly excellent break!
    The skating trail photos were really striking.
    Glad you had such a great time with your friend.
    p.s. I was told to touch the tree, quite fitting!

  31. Please, what is the pattern for the chemo cap? Nephew’s sister-in-law is just beginning chemo, and I would love to make her that exact hat.
    Thanks in advance.

  32. I don’t mind winter as long as it’s actually winter, with snow and outdoor sports and all. Unfortunately, I haven’t lived anywhere with that kind of winter since I was a teenager. Now I have two reasons to not live in a climate that has real winter: 1) marrying a man who grew up in far northern MN who says he experienced enough winter for one lifetime in his first 18 years; and 2) having a titanium knee and a bunch of titanium in my back, I have now experienced cold from the inside out, which is easily more awful than it sounds. So I stick to sunshine and warmth these days, which is easy because we now live in Tampa. which has few enough cold days that you can count them on your fingers.

    That skating trail in the woods? I am ready to experience winter in Canada just to skate on that, no matter *what* my back surgeon would say!

  33. Love the metaphor of a knitted love container!

    And you’ve destroyed my west-coastern belief that everyone who grew up in Ontario is a prolific skater.

  34. YAY you for the chemocap. My daughter traipsed that road over the last couple years (and won!!) and one of the hats I knitted for her was the cute owl hat — with a few modifications. A big hit.

  35. Wow. A candle lit ice trail through woods! Who knew, just stunning. And frozen waves, what a great thing to experience. Up for at least a months swap for our endless, grey, warm, (daily swings between 0 and 12 degrees) damp version of winter here in the south of the UK.
    Thank you, stunning pics.

  36. I need to make it out to the skating trail near Ottawa, on the Québec side. It would be amazing!

    Glad you got to spend some time with nature… it’s always so healing, peaceful and rejuvenating.

  37. My winter is mild – by Canadian standards, anyway – and rainy. It hasn’t had nearly enough hot chocolate or knitting! I’m currently trying to knit toddler slippers (it’s not so mild that Daughter isn’t getting cold toes) and ranting about the lack of suitable patterns.

  38. I know it’s silly to complain about beautiful weather, but it’s still warm here in Tucson and I wanna wear my hand knits. Thanks for the amazing pictures I’m very jealous.

  39. Just started knitting chemo caps myself, as well as a pair of socks for my ocular oncologist. No, I don’t need the cap.
    Your brioche scarf is beautiful. Learning brioche has been on my radar for a while and I hope to get there eventually. 🙂

  40. What a lovely trip. In my part if Virgina we get maybe 6″ of snow all winter so it’s very nice to see a different type of winter.

    Knitting holding and transporting love is a lovely thought.

    Happy Blogiversary!

  41. US gov’t worker here; I got a “snow day” yesterday, so put button and buttonhole bands on a plotulopi sweater. I’m within spitting distance of wearing it, looking forward to a little temp drop down here in the not frozen mid-Atlantic.
    Hope the chemo is successful and the side effects less than predicted.

  42. Stephanie, is there a pattern or yarn that you recommend for chemo hats? I’ve done one silly one in a silk/cashmere, but the next time I’d like to do one that actually gets worn a lot.

    Canada is beautiful. Even better that Canadians seem to know it and not take it for granted.

  43. That is one strikingly beautiful cowl (even though I’m not a big fan of orange shades) modeled by a strikingly beautiful woman! I wish I looked that great in pictures. I understand your not giving it to her, but perhaps she will knit an identical one for herself.

  44. That sounds like the perfect vacation/get-away to me! I’m so glad you and Jen got to spend time together and enjoy yourselves so much. After the year you had, this is the perfect start to a new year, and hopefully, it bodes well for this year to come.

  45. Winter has been weird in Green Bay. We had a week or so of sub-zero temp but then it was in the 40s for a few days. A week ago it rained on Thursday and hit 40 degrees, then it was in the low-teens on Friday. We had some snow on a Monday but then the rainy Thursday made it go away. Enough snow remained so that my 4-year-old granddaughter and I could go tubing on Sunday morning and sled in the slush on our sloping lawn in the afternoon. Warm chocolate milk helped cold fingers that Meemaw sees need wool mittens. Casting on as soon as I finish sleeve #2 of a shrug made into a cardi. It’s only 36 rounds in super bulky but I keep getting distracted by things like cooking, laundry, and sleeping.

  46. My winter in central CT. Cutting fabric and Tshirts for a rag rug project. Snow, ice, rain, wind, clean the basement, having Catholic clergy and friends at the house, meals, dready skies, beginning the Faroese shawl I had wanted to knit for two years, hubbies knee socks, planning the garden for 2018 and waiting for spring.

  47. Happy Blogiversary, lady!
    I won’t go all sappy on ya, but I could easily come up with a long list of ways your writing has impacted my life to the positive. I’ll just say thanks!

  48. I have SO. MANY. unfinished projects that ALL forward progress on new projects until the Unfinisheds are OFF the needles. I’ve got two sweater wrapped up, with three pairs of socks and a shawl left to go. I would say Grrrr, except it’s like the ice is thawing after a long winter, and I’m getting some sh*t done. So, it’s actually pretty darn okay. 🙂
    (PS- blessings to the chemo-hatted-head) xoxo

  49. My two year old daughter has stage four neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer. We are at Sickkids right now. That is a love hat. Send this person our best wishes and solidarity.

  50. Fourteen years of blogs posts is an incredible legacy to your grand and great grandchildren. I would have loved to read about my grandma’s or great-grandma’s antics and as a result have more of an understanding about my “people” and me. You don’t know this yet, and probably never will, but your blog will be a guiding light for those who come after you! Just sayin’… Congratulations on 14 years and thank you for it! You have brought many good things into my life (which is something else you are not aware of)! Bless you Stephanie!

  51. Depending on how you look at it–I happen to like winter–ours in the central Midwest of the USA has been either great or terrible. We’ve had a couple weeks of really cold, but the only snow of note was on Christmas Eve. Nothing but a dusting since then. We are despairing of having a single sledding excursion.

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