That kind of day.

Sundays are quiet days. This Sunday is gray and gloomy, cold, just at freezing but not wet. A good day for sitting by a fire with a cup of tea, a good book, or my knitting. A good day for stew simmering on the stove and bread rising for baking.

To build a fire in the living room, a fire needs to be built in the wood stove in the basement or we get a downdraft on that side of the chimney and smoke in the basement.

That fire heats up the basement, where we keep the thermostat set below the ambient temperature of the ground as the basement is set three sides underground and the fourth side south facing. Having a fire there heats the basement above the temperature that we set the living area thermostats and the rising heat up the stairwell keeps the thermostat for the main part of the house from turning the heat on, and it heats the floors enough to help keep the main level of the house warmer.

The living room fireplace is a Rumford design that has an actual open vent from outside to bring in air and the tall curved back and smoke shelf to prevent downdrafts, projects heat back into the house. This is about as efficient as an open fireplace can be. When we aren’t sitting in front of it monitoring the burn, we have both screen doors and glass doors that can be closed for safety. Fortunately, we have never had to rely on these two sources of heat for more than a handful of days from power outage due to an ice storm. With the woodstove, a gas grill, and a camp stove, cooking wasn’t a problem then. Water was, as we are on a well, but we have a 4500 gallon cistern system that catches rain and snow melt from the roof and downhill from it is a gravity fed yard hydrant so water for toilets and animals can be obtained there. Purchased water for cooking and drinking for us if we haven’t filled bottles. Generally, the basement freezer has a dozen or so gallon bottles frozen in it to help keep food when the power is out. Since we don’t hunt and don’t buy perishables in bulk, there is usually not too much to lose.

We love our retirement farm and are truly fortunate in having acres of grass that can be hayed and young men who want the hay for their livestock that take care of mowing and baling it and in exchange for the hay, keep areas brush hogged and this year keeping us in firewood by cutting an oak that fell at the edge of the hay field two springs ago, split that wood and brought it up to our woodpile. They were going to stack it too, but three grand kids that were here awaiting a holiday meal stacked most of it for us. We don’t abuse their offers of help, but know that if there was really a task beyond our capabilities, we could call one of them and they would make time to take care of it. Country life is certainly different than the suburban life of my working years.

An ark, an ark, my knits for an ark

Whew, we went from 12 degrees f a few mornings ago to 40 and torrential rain. It was low teens 3 nights in a row (no frozen pipes thank goodness) and the days weren’t even reaching freezing then it changed as Virginia will at any season. There was a winter storm warning last night causing schools to delay or close for no reason as it never was cold, and it rained. The wind blew and it rained some more. Still is raining hard. Without an attic to buffer sound, we hear it when it rains hard. Not the pinging on a metal roof like in the barn, but it is still a metal roof with insulation.

When we went to dinner and then to daughter’s house for grandson’s birthday dinner on Sunday, we discussed having another mother/daughter movie date, taking her kids this time, to see Call of the Wild when it comes out the end of February. We had both watched the trailers and wanted to see it. It has been many decades since I had read it, and in our home library is a leather bound copy of Jack London books, so as soon as I finished the ebook I had out from the library, I started reading it. I’m not sure how true to the book the movie will be, but I am looking forward to it.

Today’s rain allowed me to finish it.

The Toolbox Cowl is progressing. I sat in a waiting room again yesterday and knit. Work has been done on it at night. I’m on the last stockinette section, the second to last skein. There will be one more Diamond tweed section with this skein and the final skein and the last Garter Rib section. I’m not sure I should have used the more brightly colored variegated one, but I think I like it anyway.

With lots of Corriedale, Merino, silk, and bamboo in the skeins, it is soft. It shouldn’t take me too much more time to complete. I read the Yarn Harlot’s blog and she posts finishing mitten and cowls in a day. Wow, she must be a speed knitter.

Tomorrow is going to be chilly and party sunny, maybe I can finally get the coop cleaned out. Today a bale of pine chips was purchased because straw seems to be scarce. The old straw is going in the run, the rain has made the area just inside the gate a hazard to my health and safety. There really isn’t a level spot on our property, but I’m not sure I picked the right spot to put that coop when we got it. With the bare scratched earth and a couple inches of rain or a coat of ice, I can slide forever. Perhaps I should put some rough pavers from the gate to the pop door.

Foolish Question

A few days ago, I asked, “Where is Winter?” Well it found us. When we left for grandson’s birthday dinner last night, there were snow flurries. This morning, there was a dusting on all surfaces and a morning temperature of 16f. The high staying in the 20s. Now, I know that isn’t cold in parts of the world, but it is pretty danged cold here. Tonight is a repeat, then we return to more normal 30s and low 40s daytime, 20s to low 30s nightime. I expected to get zero eggs today with it so cold, but the girls surprised me with 4. I have gone out several times today to check so they wouldn’t freeze in the nesting box. The water in the coop was frozen this morning and will be again tomorrow.

This would have been a good day to stay in, but we had yet another appointment to keep this morning and it required a driver for the passenger, so both of us were out in the bitter breeze.

Yesterday afternoon, I finished knitting the carry along hat I cast on a couple days ago. The pattern is Barley Hat by Tin Can Knits, the yarn is my hand spun Tunis dyed red, plied with a Jacob X Finn. I spun this skein as an early wheel project, so it has been sitting in my stash for quite a while and it has never sold. It was a good weight for a hat and enough to make a large slouchy version. It is damp and blocked in the photo.

Knowing there would be waiting room time today, a project that has been in my queue for some time is Tool Box Cowl by Adventure DuJour Designs to use up several collected mini skeins, some of which I spun on the drop spindle. After I finished the hat, I cast on for it and got the garter rib section done and realized that I didn’t have the right needle size for the rest. My interchangeables only go down to a size 3, I have a size 2 fixed circular needle, but it is 16″ long and the cowl has 168 stitches, so too many for such a short needle. While at daughter’s house for cake after the birthday dinner, I borrowed a 24″ and continued on with the Diamond Tweed pattern on the correct size needle. I have finished the first two colors of 6 and am about to work the next Diamond Tweed section that uses color 2 and 3. Color 3 is the blue and teal mini skein in the lower right of the photo.

Color 1 is hand spun Coopworth, Color 2 is a wool/bamboo/silk blend I spun on a drop spindle, Color 3 is a mill spun mini skein that was dyed by a friend that has passed away. Colors 4 and 5 are his yarns also, and Color 5 will be another drop spindle spun mini skein of Merino/Silk/Sari Silk. Each skein has some blue in it.

Yesterday we picked up Saturday’s mail and in it was the yarn I had ordered as the warp for a scarf or cowl. It is Shetland lamb and baby Alpaca that will be used with my spun Romeldale CVM.

The grayer brown is my hand spun. I had hoped that the book I had ordered with rigid heddle information and patterns would beat the yarn here, but the book is still not in. I would have had it sent to the house, but the book seller said it would come in in 2 or 3 days. The book seller I spoke with today said I should never have been told that, that it usually takes about a week and with their membership, which we have, it could have been shipped directly to me with no shipping charges and likely would have arrived sooner. Oh well! It will come in when it comes and I will plan out the use of the yarns above.

The hat will definitely go in my shop. The cowl is probably mine. The undecided cowl/scarf/small wrap with the yarn above will likely go in the shop, brown is not my color against my face. I guess my inventory is being rebuilt for the online shop and next fall and winter’s markets.