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    Some Site Work

    This is just a heads-up that there will be some site work happening over the next couple of weeks. I will try to keep things where they need to be, but some things might change. And I'll try to get it done ASAP. 


    Mostly Monday Miscellany

    • Every day or two I pop over to Ravelry and do a search on "Szabo" in the forums. I like to know what people are saying about me. Last week there was a thread in the Remnants forum asking, "If you could only buy one Aran book, would you get Starmore or Szabo?" Hmmm. Personally, I would figure out a way to get both, but that's me, the book junkie. 
    • The plans for the 3rd Annual Camas Creek Yarn Winter Retreat are almost finalized! The event has been moved to Kandahar Lodge on Big Mountain the weekend of January 21-23, 2011. I sent Melanie a list of classes, and as soon as she gives her blessing on them, I'll get them listed here. 
    • I worked at Camas Creek Friday night for the annual Kalispell Artwalk. All the stores along Main Street were open from 5-9 p.m., and we served a variety of snacks and beverages. I spent most of my time stamping "passports"—by visiting at least 14 businesses and getting your passport stamped, you could enter a drawing for a big door prize. The store was packed for most of the evening, and I had several people tell me that ours was the most interesting place to visit on the whole Artwalk. It was fun, but exhausting. We also had a lot of interest in our beginning knitting classes. 
    • Our chickens seem to be working overtime. Yesterday there were 16 eggs! What's really funny is that the husband put 14 nesting boxes in the chicken coop, but all the chickens lay their eggs in the same corner box—the one the husband calls "the magic box"—and ignore the other 13 boxes. Sometimes three of them will be nesting in there at the same time (the box is only about one cubic foot big). If we put straw into the other boxes they go into them and kick all the straw out. Oh well, it makes collecting the eggs much easier. 
    • I am almost finished with the third of four projects for the last issue of the newsletter. The last project is the yoke of the sweater that is languishing in the basket next to my chair. It really only requires a couple more nights of knitting, so I will try to get it done this week. Then I can move onto other projects with a clear conscience. 
    • Our school Christmas program is tomorrow night, so in a bit I am heading up to the school to help with the rehearsals (I am the accompanist). This is our first concert in our school's new gymnasium. We passed a bond issue last fall for a wonderful new facility. Our old gym was so small that parents had to take turns watching the Christmas program in shifts, because not everyone could fit. While I am excited, this is also kind of bittersweet because DD#2 is an eighth-grader and this is her last year at this school. How time flies. 
    • It has stopped snowing, at least for now. I am sure more is on the way. 
    • Have a good week. Knit lots. 


    A Long Winter?

    "What was that about seven big snows?" Almanzo asked. Pa told him. The Indian meant that every seventh winter was a hard winter and that at the end of three times seven years came the hardest winter of all. He had come to tell the white men that this coming winter was a twenty-first winter, that there would be seven months of blizzards.

    I love that passage from the Laura Ingalls Wilder book The Long Winter. It's been on my mind more than usual this year because it looks to be a winter of big snow, and it just happens to be one of the "seven" years. The winter of 1996-97 (14 years ago) is legend around these parts. It began snowing at our house on October 15 and the last of the snow didn't melt until May 31. So much snow slid off the roof of our garage that the dogs were able to climb up the piles of snow and walk around up there. I was pregnant with DD#2 and I remember what a grind it was to try to get around. 

    Already we have more snow at our house than we got during all of last winter, and it's only December 1. I took this picture in a representative area of the yard today:

    That's 20" folks. If we get 20" a month for the next three months we'll have over 10' of snow in the yard. It's possible.

    I shoveled a bigger path from the back door to the chicken coop and then around to the compost bin. 


    The chickens do not seem to be overly affected by the snow, although they are now stuck in their coop 24/7. I go out every morning at 6 a.m. and flip the light on. Chickens need a certain amount of daylight to keep laying eggs. It seems to be working; I get anywhere from 8-12 eggs every day. Everyone else around here who has chickens says that theirs all stop laying in the winter. Although I poked fun at the husband for building the Hyatt Regency of chicken coops, I do see the wisdom of pampering the clucks. Happy chickens lay eggs. Unhappy chickens do not. 

    I tried to run the snowblower this afternoon so I could get rid of last night's deposit of 3" of snow in the driveway. Unfortunately, the temps are just this side of freezing and the snow is heavy, wet, and clumpy. I might as well try to snowblow marshmallow creme. We're looking in to getting a snowplow attachment for the forklift. The thing will probably pay for itself in short order. Certainly we could help the county road department keep our road clear, because they don't seem to believe that it is their job. Up until about three years ago the county road department did a fabulous job of keeping the roads clear. Then the supervisor retired; his replacement only sends the plows out when he absolutely has to, and it seems to be mostly to determine which plow operator can take out the most mailboxes.  

    I finished DD#1's afghan on Thanksgiving day, and moved on to a much smaller project—something with lace and cables. I'm trying to decide how I want to prioritize my knitting projects for 2011. I won't have a newsletter deadline hanging over my head, so I will need some kind of system to keep me motivated to get things done. Suggestions? 



    I had a long post almost completed this morning when I hit the wrong sequence of keystrokes and it vanished—poof!—into thin air. And that was after a week of thinking I didn't really have anything all that interesting to say. It's taken me three hours to get up the energy to redo it. 

    Knitting: I have no finished objects to show you, although I am on the last skein of the afghan for DD#1 and if I knit a lot today I may get it done. I even hauled the afghan to church with me on Sunday. One of the women sitting next to me during our class time asked me why I was making such a big sweater. The plus side? It's big enough that it keeps my lap toasty warm while I work on it. 

    I worked Saturday at Camas Creek and that was lots of fun. I like working with Bonnie, the manager. We didn't see much of Mecha, Melanie's daughter-in-law, because she was downstairs ("in the dungeon," she said) winding yarn for kits all day. Traffic was steady. I like my one-day-a-month at the store; if I worked every day I think it would lose its charm. 

    On Sunday afternoon I gave a private class to a woman and her stepdaughter, who is visiting for the week. They both wanted to make a Fair-Isle style hat, but needed some guidance. It was fun for me because I almost never teach colorwork. We spent a very pleasant two hours and they left with lots of tips and tricks for making their hats. 

    [Colorwork still isn't my favorite kind of knitting, but it's nice to be able to dabble in it enough to remind me why it isn't my favorite kind of knitting.]

    It seems that we're teaching more private classes at the store these days. It's hard to schedule classes to meet everyone's needs—some people prefer weekend classes, some prefer evening classes, and some prefer daytime classes. I know that my Saturday classes are almost always full, whereas my evening classes aren't. 

    Melanie and I decided that this year's Winter Retreat would NOT be held at the Izaak Walton Inn, where we've had it the past two years. The Inn is under new management and they jacked the room prices up to a point where we thought the cost would be unaffordable for a lot of our knitters. The Kalispell Grand Hotel—which is downtown and just a few blocks from the store—has put together a very enticing package, so we're moving the retreat to downtown Kalispell. Some people may not think that's much of a "retreat," but the Grand is a wonderful old hotel with lots of charm. 

    Classwork: I am almost done with this semester's classwork. The end of the semester isn't until December 17, but I did not want to leave too much for the last minute. That's the beauty of online classes, where one can work at one's own pace. 

    Homesteading and other adventures: The husband hung four red heat lamps in the coop the other day, because we are under an arctic air mass and the temperature when I got up today was -5 degrees with terrible winds. We didn't want the clucks to freeze. They seem to be doing okay and are still laying. We're still getting 6-8 eggs every day. And the thrill of having livestock seems to have worn off for the dogs (thank goodness). 

    The husband shot a buck behind the other house about ten days ago. We took it to the processor, but he kept the liver and heart because he wanted to see what they tasted like. (I had a pretty good idea what they would taste like but I kept my opinion to myself.) I got home one evening last week and he was elbow-deep in flour. He had sliced the liver up and dredged it in flour and pepper and was getting ready to fry it with onions. I started to ask him how his day was and—without looking up from the stove—he said, "Don't talk to me, I am cooking." 

    I suppose men aren't known for their ability to multi-task. 

    I tried a slice of the liver. It was pretty tough, but the dogs loved it. We decided that next time we would make dog treats for them. 

    I still haven't gotten to go hunting yet. Around dusk last night another buck ran through the yard, but it was moving so fast that even if I had had time to get the rifle, I would have had to track it a ways and it was just too cold outside. I am surprised at the number of bucks I see chasing does this year. Usually the bucks disappear completely once hunting season starts, but lately I've seen them at all hours of the day and night. 

    Hopefully I'll get a chance this weekend, before the season ends. 

    DD#1 is on her way home today. This is her first solo trip on the train (I got her a sleeping compartment). The trickiest part is getting herself from the college to the train station. I think she'll do fine. I have to remind myself that when I was her age, I was traveling all over Washington DC on the Metro by myself. We're excited to have her home for a couple of days. 

    If I don't get a chance to check in again, I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving (and lots of knitting). 


    Of Neck Scarves

    There are three parts of my body that need to be kept warm in order for all of me to be warm: my neck, my feet, and my lower back.

    [I won't buy tops of any kind at JC Penney anymore because all their clothing is sized for midgets. I cannot abide wearing a shirt which is too short to cover my body.]

    Some people aren't warm if their heads aren't warm, but I'm fine because I have a thick head of hair. I don't wear many hats. I did, however, wear a lot of hats during the winter of 1994-95, because I was bald from chemo and that winter I was very cold! 

    Anyway, there is a point to this post and I am getting to it. I've developed quite a fondness for scarves recently. In the winter I wear a lot of turtlenecks, but sometimes I wear collarless tops and it's wonderful to have a little something around my neck to keep it warm. And even if I AM wearing a turtleneck, sometimes it's nice to have a little extra insulation there. 

    I recently picked up this wonderful little book:

    It has patterns for all sorts of wonderful items to keep one's neck and head cozy. Inspired by all the fun designs in this book, I picked out yarn at Camas Creek yesterday for a multi-colored slip-stitch scarf—but not just any scarf . . . 

    According to this book, "infinity scarves" are all the rage these days. I had no idea what an infinity scarf was. Lo and behold—there are some 60 knitted designs tagged as such in the Ravelry database alone! 

    Once again, we here in the backwaters of Montana are way behind any and all fashion curves. Even DD#2, the resident fashionista, was unfamiliar with the term "infinity scarf" (I felt marginally better upon seeing her look of puzzlement when I asked her). 

    In case YOU also live in the fashion backwater and are wondering what makes a scarf infinite, it's simply a very large-circumference circular scarf which can be wrapped around the neck multiple times or pulled up over the head or worn loose and long. Sometimes it has a twist in it a la Moebius. 

    An "infinity scarf" has been added to the queue and I will cast on for one as soon as I finish DD#1's never-ending almost-completed afghan. I'd like to send it back to college with her after Thanksgiving. And then—to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear"—"To infinity scarf and beyond!"