This year I wanted to take on a few longterm creative projects. Nothing huge, just a practice of coming back to something regularly. For my knitting, I thought of hats. Hats are such a quick, easy & fun project. I love the luxury of picking out fancy yarn for a hat. It's affordable to splurge when it is just one skein at a time. And they make SUCH wonderful gifts. I think Elizabeth Zimmerman had the right idea about knitting for the holidays throughout the year and I hope to make this year the one that I finally get a few steps ahead of the handmade gifting. So each month I plan to share a pattern and a few finished hats with you here.
First up : The Betsy
I first saw this gorgeous hat when Jackie posted it here. (Actually, I think Jackie's version of this hat is the reason I finally joined instagram too.) I've been a long time swooner of Jane Richmond's patterns, ever since forever ago when I knit up that oatmeal sweater. Her patterns are very well written and I really looooove this hat. My first one was knit up in Luna Grey's bulky Apollo in the spice color-way. The second was two strands of Berroco Peruvia in a soft grey that I no longer have the color name for. The orange for me (goofy selfie here) was a fitted version and the grey for Jade is the slouchy version. It's a mock cable, with an easy to remember pattern. In bulky yarn it flies of the needles in no time! And it's gorgeous!
Thank you Sophie for modeling your big sister's hat for me.
What are you knitting? Do share….
So late last week I wrote this whole blog post about winter having failure to commit. I think I said something like if it wasn't going to snow, it could just forget about being winter and let spring come.
The following morning before I posted it, Joe sat chuckling over the weather forecast while I sipped my first cup of coffee. It seems winter had read my mind, and had just a little bit of snow in the plans….
I think we got around 20 inches or so. It was hard to tell because the wind blew SO much that we had 3+ foot drifts in some spots. Like the entire back porch! The big kid, Joe & I spent around 5 hours shoveling. It was insane. And beautiful. And we've enjoyed playing in it.
Today I stayed in the warm studio, tidying, while Joe & Sophie built a snow cave. I laughed at my teenagers….. peering over the balcony at the icy house construction below. In bare feet! And shorts! What is it with kids this age? They crack me up. Meanwhile, I am in the study in wool socks. Slippers. Layers upon layers of fleece. Cozy.
There is soup simmering on the stove for supper and I didn't even make it. The best kind of dinner, right? The snow cave builders are just coming in with smiles and rosy cheeks. Two whole snow days! Such a treat.
Thank you winter…. sorry for thinking you weren't going to come through.
Hope all of you are cozy.
Sunday was warm and drizzly. Over 50 degrees. Usually this time of year a beekeeper just watches and hopes. But because the weather was so warm, we decided to open up the hive and see how the girls were doing. I made up a fondant patty for them, Joe got the smoker going, and we headed outside….
First we added shims to the back of the hive to slightly tip it forward. This encourages any moisture build-up to drip out towards the front entrance. We should have done this a few weeks ago when we wrapped it up…… but better late than never I guess. I've been gently tapping on the hive once a week or so with my head pressed against the outside to listen. The soft hum that responds has seemed strong…. but peeking in let us know how things really look.
Lots of bees greeted us! No doubt grumpy from our intrusion. We quickly placed the fondant and a small wedge of pollen under the lid and closed everything back up. The bees were flying, but slow and we smoked them heavily in hopes of keeping them in their hive as much as possible. If they get too far away it's just so cold for them to make their way back.
Bees cluster together in the winter to keep warm and stay in a ball like shape to keep the hive above 90 degrees. They are such amazing little creatures! A cluster five frames wide is a good sign and it appeared to be what was in our hive.
We noticed a lot more black bees! Our hive re-queened over the summer and we think the new queen mated with local Carniolan bees from other hives…. which is lucky for us because we've been told they winter better and are calmer. (Italians are more golden, Carniolans are more black) The hive was still heavy, so heavy it bent the tool Joe used when he added the shims. This is good! We hope they have a lot of honey inside. We actually wintered them four (hive boxes) high instead of three high to make sure they had enough. The large fondant patty is for emergency food if they should need it. (I used this recipe) Hopefully we'll get a warm day next month sometime to add more. Our bee mentor told us at this point as long as they don't starve, they should make it. Here's hoping!
I've been thinking a lot about a word for the new year. While it isn't something I usually talk about a lot here in this space….. it's something I've done for a few years now in my own heart. Sometimes it takes me the whole month of January to find the word…. or better yet, for it to find me. A lot has shifted these last few months. I have gone from a state of complete upheaval to new footing entirely. I find myself looking at many of my habits with a new set of eyes. It's been very….. introspective… I suppose. Which is a nice way of saying difficult.
I have some things in the works….. right now I am in the behind the scenes phase. Tidying, organizing, planning. I'll have more to share as I pull all the bits of pieces together…
For now, I wanted to share my word of the year : seek
Did you pick a word for the year? I'd love to hear it…..
As I type this I am sipping my second cup of coffee and warming myself in front of the fire.
Morning chores were finished over an hour ago. In zero degree weather. Those poor chickens. Especially the one going through a late molt. I've been giving them extra corn and sunflower seeds as a treat but they still look at me as if I am to blame for the frigid temperatures. They don't even try to go out of their coop to forage. They just stare at me, feathers fluffed as much as they can, huddled together in the sunniest corner (with feathery furrowed brows, I swear!) and watch as I break the ice out of their bucket and fill it with fresh water. After tending to the feathered and furry creatures, I wander to the bees. A layer of frost covers their upper entrance and I wonder if this is a good or bad thing. I scrape the frost aside with a stick. No bees appear. I pull my hood off and press my ear to the outside of the hive, tap gently with an open hand and hear the reassuring hum inside. Good girls, I whisper.
We went to NY this weekend. Joe had a job interview in Massena. It's so far north it's almost Canada. He applied for the job several weeks ago and we've trying (and failing) at not obsessing over the possibility for the last two months.
The interview went very well. In fact, they offered him the job. A very good job. And a step two starting position. It's like an immediate raise, they never do this. But the schedule was really difficult. A lot of on call time, on the road time, and a ton of hours six months out of the year. Even though it would mean finally settling down…… it wouldn't mean a quality of life change for the better. He politely declined yesterday.
The drive was beautiful. Just him and I, and knitting needles. The night before was a combination of snow and freezing rain and everything was glossy and frozen and white and looked like something out of a picture book. Talk, knit, talk, knit. I snapped a few pictures along the way. An amazing old water mill of some sort…. the sun setting over the icy landscape….. the moon! Winter moons are magic things. I thought I might be disappointed that it didn't work out….. but I actually felt relieved. I don't feel ready to be uprooted again….. and it wasn't quite where I want us to land. Between the knitting and the talking I said a millionth little prayer to the universe, to the tiny broken down farmhouse with good bones waiting for us…. I'm sure it will find us when the time is right.
psssttttt…. also, I finally joined instagram. are you there too? why didn't you guys tell me it was so fun??
there is magic in capturing light. those mystic rainbow hued orbs. i know they are reflections of light on glass, but sometimes i like to think of them as something more. and perhaps they are…..
cheers to new beginnings, fresh starts, and hearts filled with hope and wonder and light.