Tuesday, December 23, 2008

stash control

knitters everywhere share at least one problem: stash control, or how and where to put all that yarn? despite my husband's beliefs, my stash problem is pretty minor as far as they go, due largely to the fact that i haven't been knitting my whole life (just a 1/3 of it), and the fact that we have a deal: the prerequisite of every new yarn purchase is that i have to knit something from the stash.

for me, the stash is not just a thing, it's a place. my stash lives (mostly) in the upstairs guest closet (though it spills into the not 1, but 3 knitting baskets in the living room). when i need inspiration to get through a particularly difficult or boring pattern, the stash is always there for me. sitting among the skeins and hanks can even turn the tide of hard day at work.

nonetheless, i was still losing track of what i had...and where. these brand new cubbies became the answer.

let me tell you, this is a type-A personality's dream. a place for everything and everything in its place. most of this yarn has purpose, or at least i have a faint idea of what i might use it for. some have even cycled through several purposes...though i doubt that would count in my husband's narrow, realistic world.

really, what the stash is -- and why it's so important -- is a big, fat, squishy, warm pile of dreams. dreams of cozy sweaters and blankets that i can wrap friends' babies in...and a purple sweater for me.

dreams of a sweater for Cobbie. dreams of beautiful, ornate (or just plain) socks:

so, if you ever get anything from me, now you know where it came from: my favorite place on earth (except maybe Tangle Lakes - and not just because i can take knitting there).

and because i actually DO do more than just knit...here's a picture of Cobbie skiing in front of me on teh way to P&C's for our usual Wednesday night dinner (the faint lights to the left is their house).

Monday, November 24, 2008

kniterly update

i spent last night in the most kniterly of ways.

last night, i hung with a wonderful collection of women, all amazing in their own right, good yarn, and a knitting husband.

of course, one must eat first (chicken-saffron soup, bread pudding, pumpkin cheesecake, and cookies for dessert)...

...in order to knit.

yes, this is the famous and talented Subarctic mama. crazy fast that woman is at picking up knitting. it's like she just gets it. kind of like her writing.

now, on to the parade of efforts currently in the queue. yesterday, Cobbie asked me how many projects i had going right now. i couldn't answer right off, so here's my attempt. may i say first, in my defense, that the holidays are near?

socks for the sock-maker. these fabulous feet belong to Theresa and she is THE uber sock-maker. therefore, she needs socks made for her, yes?

spinning a bit for a present that must yet remain unnamed, as its recipient is still in the dark. people, the wheel is next for me, i can just feel it. lord help us all (or at least Cob) if a spinning wheel takes up residence in our living room.

a baby hat - done. believe it or not, this has no owner, it was just a way to kill an extra skein of yarn that was hanging around looking lonely and unproductive. the pattern is one of Debbie Bliss' baby cashmerino wonders.

Nuchie, modeling with the pure sunshine and blue sky of Louet chunky yarn. this yarn is destined for big things - in this case, two alphabet blankets in T and G for my oldest friend Jackie's two little boys.

Thayer's blanket underway (it's now 5" - this picture's a day old!)

Brownie's "special green" skiing socks, as named by Cob - a christmas present for another unnamed recipient. this is worsted weight wool knit on size 2 needles. yes, i am crazy.

and if you didn't believe me that i'm crazy, the beginnings of a Dale of Norway sweater: this one goes veeeeeerrrrryyyyy slowly - my goal is 1 row a day. yep, 1 row a day. i try to get it done over morning coffee while i'm listening to the news and then the rest of the day just doesn't seem so hard. my friend, Cathi, and I are knitting the same sweater at the same time in different colourways. crazy. just crazy.

and then there's the perrenial Estonian "Goat's-eye" socks that i'm knitting with Norma (hers are blue and red). i'm just trying to stay one step ahead of her to help her with the pattern. this is another one of those DK-light worsted weight knit on size 1 needles. freakish.

and finally, the first of a matching pair of toddler socks that will eventually be part of this world, made from Crystal Palace bamboo-cotton-nylon yarn. if you ever get the chance to knit with this yarn, do it. it's good stuff. and baby socks are so stinkin' cute.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

first ski

after a long week traveling, i finally returned home, took the afternoon off, and went out for my first ski of the season. it wasn't anything big or strenuous, just a little jaunt with Nuchie in our neighborhood trails.

i usually have these trails to myself and yesterday was no exception. that is, except Nuchie - together we're learning our way around them but we still don't have them all figured out.

fresh snow always give you a chance to see if it's a good bunny year, which it seems to be. if you look closely, hopefully you can see the bunny trails - very distinctive marks those little guys make.

it was about -10F - too cold to skate ski, but perfect for my classic skis. and enough for a frosty eyelash or two.

and we topped off the night with Dea and Ben with enchiladas and little knitting...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

6 hours, 39 minutes of possible daylight

as we move further into winter up here in the northland, many of you have asked about our weather. is it cold yet? (yes.) is it freezing? (yes.) do you have snow? (YES!)

Is it dark yet? well, this is looking out over my deck at 3:30 pm.

and this is the same deck at 4:00 pm

nice sunset, don't you think?

sunrise happened around 9:15 this morning and we lost 6 minutes and 36 seconds of possible daylight from yesterday.

Monday, November 10, 2008

home sweet home

Cob and i spent last week in Whitehorse, Canada. Cob was being a "kept man" while i worked, attending a scientific working group for Yukon River salmon that is jointly staffed by American and Canadian scientists. this working group supports the international treaty between the US and Canada that allocates the salmon that swim over 3,000 miles from the Bering Sea to the spawning grounds in Canada. Brandy (of cranberry picking fame from last year) and i were busy working while our respective partners played (and as it turns out, Ross bought a diamond with which to make Brandy an honest woman! i'm not spoiling any surprises here, she's already wearing it...)

though it's just two hours by plane, we decided to take the scenic route home over about 600 miles and 12 hours that started with a BIG breakfast in Haines Junction.

the scenery and company were top-rate. this is Kluane Lake, on the Canadian side, home to Burwash Landing people and many, many Dall sheep. those who live where i do will see beautiful, yet familiar scenery in the picture below. it just really is this beautiful up here, no joke. ok, so maybe we don't have these mountains up close in Fairbanks, but we have our own version of it in snow-capped domes with untouched trails, sparkling snow across a frozen lake, and a skyline of black spruce that rivals any big cityscape.

we got to the border by about 2 pm with 6 hours left to go, but we had to stop and take this picture. as i tromped over the snow making my way to this sign, i recalled the same moment, 11 years ago in 1997 when i moved up here and my life changed. i was wearing a grey fleece with red trim, jeans, and sneakers, and the marvel of the landscape unfolding before me left me captivated. 11 years later, i have no idea where that fleece went to, but i still look around myself in marvel at the land, and the people, and the world that i live in. it just never gets old. if you ever get this far north, stop by this sign and remember where you are. as they say in the Yukon, your soul's in here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

one word


(and i don't even care if that's not a real word - it is tonight!)

Friday, October 31, 2008

a long week

perhaps you've figured out by now that i've not had too many minutes to myself over the last two weeks. while i realize that my silence on this blog doesn't really qualify as a tragedy of epic proportions, it does sometimes mark that i'm running low on down time, and that's never a good thing.

but, it's Friday and as everyone knows, Friday night is date-night at Ivory Jack's, the closest we get to a local pub. i use the word 'local' since we WERE local to it when we lived in the waterless cabin in Goldstream Valley. now that we're on the hill, Ivory Jack's isn't so local. but you know what they say -- you can take the girl out of the Goldstream, but you can't take the Goldstream out of the girl...or soemthing like that.

anyhoo, this is the perfect way to spend Halloween - dressed up like Goldstreamers with tasty beers as our costume props.

Cob is pretty satisfied with his beer stain on the Ivory Jack's placemat which features the famous Ode to an Oosik (on the second page - read on, oh faithful reader).

oh, and some knitting, too (child's socks in purple bamboo yarn - Christmas is coming, you know).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

last week-end catch up

before we get to Thursday, i'm taking a few minutes to remember last week-end, which was particularly fun, largely due to the awesomeness of my friends, who have been a HUGE relief through the last many working week-ends for me...

Friday night, we gathered at the Pub to celebrate Mia's 25th (or something like that) birthday. Cara, Lynne, Jim, Cob, Stevie, Mia, Theresa, Liz and I ate carrot cake cupcakes and danced to the Thneeds.

Saturday morning (and afternoon) found me on the couch on a cold day, knitting, but really just being a Mieze-pillow.

Saturday night, Dea and Ben came over with a pizza. i pushed Mieze off the couch about a hundred times to make room for Dea, who has been dazzling me with her knitting commitment and quickly growing skill! First scarves, then hats - now that girl's knitting lace!

I think i worked a little on Sunday morning, and then after an afternoon knitting and playing Scrabble with Sapphire (my BBBS little sister), i went to Kristen's for a bowl of chili...

...and a little Baby Boo love.

it was a good week-end. it's snowing right now (4" and counting...), so maybe i'll break out the skis or snowshoes come Saturday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

spinning out of control

i got a new wrinkle on my brain today.

for a while now, i've toyed with the idea of learning to spin (yarn that is, not a stationary bike to a remixed beat), but i've never gotten around to it. not so today. i found my way to A Weaver's Yarn, where the owner helped me figure out how to get my mind around turning beautiful batts of fiber into plied yarn with the help of an equally lovely piece of wood. i mean, what could be better than hand knitting a sweater for someone you love, other than spinning the yarn to make a hand-knitted sweater for someone you love? a no-brainer, really.

ok, this is what i learned.

that thing is spinning, even if you can't tell. i'm drafting fibers and spinning them into yarn - a chunky, home-spunny looking yarn, but yarn nonetheless! and my teacher reminded me that some people pay a lot of $$ for homespun yarn (just like my crazy curly, mind-of-its-own hair, i thought - some people actually pay $$ to make their hair fall in ringlets while all i've ever dreamed of is shiny straight locks...but i digress)

here's what i learned: every fiber has a staple, the natural length of the fibers that make up the roving, which is the big cottony thing that you spin into yarn. i also learned that you have to keep an eye on the hook at the top of the spindle, which likes to let go of your newly made yarn when you're not looking. you can spin the spindle in either direction - you just have to be consistent. however, as with everything yarn related, old wives' tales reign. apparently, counter-clockwise spinning can lead you to inadvertedly cast spells, which can make people suspect you to be a witch and get to thinking about burning stakes. i happen to spin clockwise it turns out, but my teacher spins counter-clockwise, so she says that she just remembers to think happy thoughts while spinning so that if any spells fling out unexpectedly, they'll be good ones. i think that's an excellent plan.

you know, i've knit many, many yards of yarn without really spending much time thinking about how this yarn was spun or plied. spinning only a few yards, as i did today, and trying to make it look even is HARD. really hard. i'm not sure i'll ever escape really appreciating this aspect of my yarn again!

i'm also sure that i'll eventually get to a place where i can think happy thoughts while spinning along, instead of the current $&%#* thoughts that zing around my brain as the spindle hook lets my yarn go and i try to convince my fingers that they're really ARE fingers and not the 8 thumbs they're acting like.

thank goodness i spin clockwise...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

good-bye fall, hello winter

fall is probably my favorite time of year. the yellow aspen and birch leaves against a blue sky. crisp clear days, the first whiffs of wood smoke in the air. the changing high bush cranberry foliage that paints the woods behind my house in an earthy red. but perhaps i love fall most for another reason - its length. A Fairbanks autumn is short, 2 or 3 weeks maybe, where colors change quickly and leaves drop overnight.

this morning we woke to this:

our first snow. it's not much, and it's wet. it won't stick or last, but it is an undeniable sign of what is to come. we won't get the cold temps or really dark days or even a lot more snow for a while yet. but last night, winter crept in silently and with the exception of a few fits and starts perhaps, is here until April.

i gotta say, i love winter too.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

simple pleasures

sometimes in this complicated world, it's good to be reminded of life's simpler pleasures. kids have a way of focusing you in on these things. Anna and i spent some time together yesterday afternoon after work while her mom was working late. i was stressed, tired, feeling WAY behind, yet Anna managed to convince me that sitting in front of the stove watching cookies bake was an extremely valuable use of time.

she was right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

the big world

every year, Cob and i grab the dog, pack the car, load the canoe, and head south to Tangle Lakes. this tradition started for me in 1997, before Cob even, when Phyllis and Chase took me on my first canoe camping trip.

and i was hooked.

since then, things have changed. My life took turns i never thought it would. i met Cob. P & C took a hiatus from the Labor Day week-end trips for a few years. i made new friends. one thing has stayed the same. the great big world of Tangle Lakes.

on the globe, Tangle Lakes is a very small place. but when you're there, it's huge. a great big and dramatic sky, with storms brewing and dying all around you.

the alpine tundra is literally alive with tart cranberries, bright red bear berry leaves, ancient caribou trails, migrating swans, and peaceful waters.

i only come here in September, when the long summer days are on the cusp of falling into winter through the brief space that is autumn in Alaska. warm days in short sleeves give way to hard frosts at night.
for the last two years, friends have come with us to this place to share a few days away, and this year, P &C joined us again after 5 years.

evenings are spent around a campfire, knitting, drinking wine, talking politics with like-minded souls.

two years ago, Cob and i watched as hundreds of swans gathered in the bay behind our campsite before their long migration south. this year, we witnessed something new. we arrived at our usual campsite in the evening just as swans begin to trickle in. the next morning, they all left in flurry of white wings, only to return to the bay the same time that evening. not sure where they went, but it was fun to contemplate their daily adventures.

as i walked around this campsite, whose corners i've come to know so well, i found myself taking stock of the little things that had changed. the marmot jaw that had been here for the last several years, embedded in the tundra at the top of our site, was gone. the berries were not quite ripe since we were there a little early. the swans were doing something new. the grayling were still biting. the water a little higher. old friends were with us again. new friends were with us again. nuchie still wants to sleep right up against me in the tent. the hot chocolate still tastes just as good with the cool bite of evening. and the great big dramatic sky can still hold my attention for hours.

and in the fading light of the each day, i hope i'll see this place again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A letter to my husband (who's deathly afraid I won't go out and see Winnipeg...)

so, first you need to know that i'm in Winnipeg to attend a conference. which conference you ask? why, the 10th international Coregonid Conference of course! what's a "coregonid" you ask? well, i used to know the answer to that question. two days ago, i would've said that's just a fancy name for a whitefish. but now, as an anthropologist surrounded by a bunch of hard core fisheries biologists, i've learned all kinds of big new words that make 'coregonid' seem like child's play. like 'gonad somatic' something or other, or how about 'ogliotrophicate'?

talk about a fish out of water! hee! hee! actually, it's not that bad. the fishery dudes are pretty cool and they patiently explain things when i stare at them blankly. one even gave me the compliment tonight upon learning that i'm actually an anthropologist, not a biologist, that i sounded convincing and he never would've known. i'm still trying to figure out if that's a good thing or not...

anyway, on to the important stuff - to satisfy my husband that i'm not JUST attending scientific talks or holing away in my hotel room under the crushing weight of the work i brought with me, here are a few Winnipeg scenes:

the bears of Winnipeg (like the cows of Chicago or the salmon of Olympia)

my fisheries biologist friends, Randy and Ken, with the only bear holding a fish (though we don't think it is a whitefish - it looks more like a spawning salmon)

this dude has something to do with the colonial Canadian government - his base says "Riel" and he's very serious about that paper in his hand.

A view of the Assiniboine River, about a 10 minute walk from my hotel and loverley, as my grandmother used to say.

on the river walk along the Assiniboine, the fisheries biologists stopped to talk to the local fishermen...i was trying to analyze the inkwork on the one on the left, but then, i'm the anthropologist.

ever wonder what a group of fisheries biologists looks like on a roof-deck pool? here it is folks - free beer and all the walleye cheeks you could eat!

and finally (because i am actually spending a lot of time in the hotel room working), the view form my room. i kind of like it.