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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Survival’

I have a huge problem with the hackneyed saying:  “Less is More”.  I know that’s the current trend in decorating and other areas of everyday life, but in most of those areas I disagree.  In many instances I believe that MORE IS MORE!  For example:

MORE SILLINESS ↓

jammy time 2

MORE MESSES↓

Art 3

MORE FIBERS ↓

Fiber studio

knitters

Knitting

MORE GARDENS!

Fox Gloves

MORE CREATURES!

adversarial buddies

(Now we have one corgi, Baby Dylan, but there were decades of multi dogs and cats—not to mention but I will, Guinea pigs—and finally years of sheep, angora goats, rabbits, geese, ducks, and chickens.)

Little Treasure

(↑This little treasure was born in the burrow beneath our patio garden, a couple of summers ago.  One of our favorite pastimes is sitting outdoors and watching the chippies scurry hither and thither.)

silly cat

(Debbie’s “Skids”)

MORE TEDDY BEARS ↓

DSC01818

Sunday is a day of rest!

MORE TEAPOTS ↓

Tea 3

MORE RESPONSIBLE DRIVERS ↓

Behind the Wheel

MEANWHILE

My Childhood River

. . . winter is lovely but I confess, I wouldn’t mind just a little bit LESS!

Margaret L. Been, February 24, 2016

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winter spinning wheel yes

Lest yesterday’s poignant piece leads you to believe that we harbor sadness around here, please think again.  I experience the poignancy of change, but always with gladness and appreciation of the moment and season at hand.  Each has its beauty and meaning.  Each is accessible when we have layers of wool, and I do.  Each has its unique message, new every year.  And due to God’s faithfulness, each season will return.  So I will take you on a photo tour throughout our home, which we dearly love indoors and out.  Indoors is especially cozy and inviting.

Above you will see one of my two highly efficient fine spinning wheels on which I produce beautiful yarn for knitting.  For 18 years I raised my own spinners’ flock of quality wool sheep:  Border Leicester, Cotswold, Romney, Targhee, Corriedale, and Shetland—plus Angora goats for mohair.  I still have some of my Shetlands’ gorgeous brown wool.  But being a color freak, now I purchase dyed fleece and roving from suppliers of which their are loads—readily accessible online.  The green wool in the baskets pictured here is Merino—the world’s softest fiber with the exception of silk which I also order and spin.

In this spinning wheel scene you can see some of our eastern exposure winter garden.  Here the fussy, shade lovers reside.  When we moved to Nashotah in 2009, it didn’t take long for us to realize that our violets did not enjoy our new home as much we did.  Here we have natural gas heat, and alas there is a heat duct blowing down over both of our winter gardens.

The succulents featured in the next photo do not mind hot dry air a bit.  But African violets are really jungle plants.  They thrive on the moist ground in the humid section filled with tropical trees and lush undergrowth in Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Horticultural Domes.  Now, after 5 years of prematurely loosing violets, I have installed them in Wardian cases (one of which is visible behind the wheel)—attractive little greenhouses patterned after an invention by a 19th century English doctor (Dr. Ward) who built the house-like glassed in shelters to protect his plants in his London home.

 

winter garden again yes

Above is a glimpse of our southern facing indoor garden replete with succulents.  These plants, along with my Louis L’Amour novels provide a western fix for the Colorado and New Mexico aspect of my life.

Winter shawls yes

Back to the fiber thread (pardon the pun), here are some recent renderings from my yarn baskets and knitting needles.  (Unlike many folks, I knit all through the summer, even outside on the warmest days.  That is called “being a knit wit”.)

On the left is a shrug in process, knitted with my handspun yarn.  Next is a finished fringed shawl, also in handspun.  The almost center garment is a cape.  I make loads of these, because they are so much fun!  As well as adding buttons for decoration, I include buttons and button holes so that the garment will stay on the shoulders with comfort.  On the right is a HUGE poncho, probably good down to 20 degrees above zero over a big wool sweater.  The cape and poncho are made from commercial woolen yarns with a few funky synthetics thrown in for fun.

winter soap yes

And saponifying—that is, soap making—another year round delight.  These bars, made just yesterday, look good enough to eat. But I wouldn’t advise that!

winter painting yes

And art making, also enjoyed year around but really beefed up on winter nights!

winter tea yes

And winter tea parties.  Of course I continue my beloved iced tea all year (I didn’t think I had any Southern blood in me, but that’s what friends below the Mason Dixon line do).  However, when company comes, it’s hot tea and a chance to show off my English tea pots.  Guests may pick their pot, and cup and saucer of which there are MANY.

Winter Patio

Finally, here is a shot from last year.  It’s coming!  I’m thankful for all of the above, especially for my family and corgi, and of course for books bending multi shelves and stacked like leaning towers all over the home!

When the sun shines again (and it will) I’ll try to get some shots of glorious color.  That’s coming too—hopefully before the above pristine stuff!

©Margaret L. Been, October 2014

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Valentine bears etc.

1)  Bears:  In recent years I’ve received a Valentine Bear most every Valentine’s Day.  This year I decided to move the Valentine Bears from our bedroom settee to a living room sofa, to celebrate their day.  Well, you should have heard the hullaballoo coming from the Other Occasion Bears who were left in the bedroom.  “Unfair!  Discriminatory!  We are Entitled!”

So I promptly moved the Others to the sofa to join their Valentine friends, thinking they could all spend the day there and I’d move them back to the bedroom at bedtime.  Then Joe and I went out for a Valentine dinner.  When we returned home, we were greeted with a petition.  It seems the bears had a secret meeting while we were gone.  They unanimously decided to Occupy Sofa through next Thursday when a young man named Lucas is coming for wiener roll-ups, pop, and an afternoon of art.  Wisely, the bear contingent choose Senior Paddington Bear to present the request to me, as they know I love British accents.  And of course I caved in.  After all, that sofa is an extra.  We have plenty of additional places for people to sit.  And Lucas will definitely enjoy the bears.

Now, Dear Readers I know exactly what you are thinking:  “This woman is eighty years old, and the February Blaaaas have pushed her over the edge.”  Sorry, but I have news for you.  I’ve always been this way.

Shawls Galore

2)  A GOOD YARN:  My fellow Knitwits will love this one.  The stats always soar when I post a yarn and needles bit.  Above you will find a just off the needles shawl.  Who says old dogs (or people) can’t learn new tricks?  Up until a year ago I had Circular Needle Phobia.  But I have overcome, and now I can’t quit making shawls.  This one will go to our local Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, as my family members and friends are by now completely shawled, scarfed, and hatted out.  Note the colors.  They give you a clue as to what is frequently on my mind as I gaze out on our garden buried in snow.

Southwest

3)  FRESH DECOR:  It’s fun to greet a new season with a few changes.  For years we went to Colorado and New Mexico—often at this time of the year.  We love our old comfy couch (not the bears’ sofa, but the one Joe and I normally hang out on).  New fabric on the couch brings the Southwest right into our living room.

Taking a step

4)  THE BEST BLAAA CHASER OF ALL—A CHILD:  This is our littlest sweetheart.  A week ago last Thursday, Tuks came for an entire day.  She is eight months old, and has begun stepping between close furniture rather than dropping to her knees.  We had so much fun with Tuks.  She took good naps for us, and maintained her sunny personality throughout the eight hours.  She loves to eat, loves people, loves dogs, loves life!  Who can ever have the blaaaas with someone like that around?!!!

And here’s a parting thought to cheer you on:  In three weeks, DAYLIGHT SAVING!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, February 2014

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March Sun

It wouldn’t be very nice to say “Good Riddance” to the month that brings Groudhog Day and Valentine’s Day, and lots of cozy indoor days for reading, knitting, and painting—but at age 79 we tend to say exactly what we think.  And that’s what I think.  I’ve enjoyed February, but I’m not sobbing over her demise!  And I’m glad it’s not Leap Year or we’d have an extra day of February.

A few nights ago, when the full moon rose in the east over our front yard park it occurred to me that the next full moon would coincide approximately with the vernal equinox.  I don’t have to express what this means to us Northerners, and none of my prose renderings could even begin to do the job.  But perhaps a little poem might work.

March Sun . . .

. . . knows a tricky way of turning corners

slipping into curtained rooms through cracks,

crawling under eaves and glinting dust

on wintered dreams.

© Margaret Longenecker Been

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂  Hello MARCH!

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We are a bit short of two months since the winter solstice, and still more than a month away from the vernal equinox.  Cabin Fever can set in, but I refuse to allow that infliction to have any space in my life.  Late winter is a great time to add a decorative and creative touch to the wardrobe, at little or no cost. 

Pictured above are two accents I’ve banged off on my knitting needles in three days’ time, with about three hours invested into each item.  Each “scarf-ling” is knitted to about 36 to 40 inches long, and then joined at the ends with a twist before joining.  The garment is slipped over the head, and it stays on because the ends are connected—as opposed to actual scarves which fall off and fly all over the place.  The twist creates the funky look.  No matter how the garment hangs, it has a certain debonair attitude of panache and pizzazz. 

Joe says the scarf-ling looks like the collar on a draft horse.  I like that description, as I am very fond of horses.  Here is a shot of one of these creations, photographed in my bathroom mirror.  I’ve cropped off most everything in the photo except for the knitted piece.  ↓

These quick and painless garments may be made with any yarn, on any size needles, knitted in any pattern—with small dabs of yarn left over from larger projects.  It’s Knitter’s Choice.  I did K1, yarn over twice, repeated across a row, followed by knitting the stitches and dropping the “yarn overs” throughout the next row.  These two rows were duplicated many times—while intermingled with a mix of knit and purl rows accented with one of my all time favorite patterns:  P one row; K1, P1 in the next row; then repeating those two rows as often as desired.  Although the Purl row is normally presented as the right side in that sequence, both sides look good.  I use this pattern for a lot of scarves and shawls because they tend to get turned and flipped so that both sides of the work are exposed.

Since we have a big plastic bin of left over yarn stored in our garage, I hope to eventually make scarf-lings to blend with (or complement) most any shade or tint of sweater, blouse, or dress—in woollens and silk blends for winter, and cottons or fine acrylics for summer attire.   The next knitted delight (on the needles at present) will be in shades of aqua, green, and lime.  It will be a “Potato Chip” patterned scarf-ling.  For any knitters or just plain curious readers, you can GOOGLE “Potato Chip Scarf” in order to see what that’s all about—or simply wait awhile.  I may post the Potato Chip on this blog when it’s finished.

With so much fun, our winter “cabin” continues to be an enjoyable place.  Barring the possibility of attack from a virus or bacteria, the only “fever” around here will be Knitting Fever.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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I wrote the following lines, thinking they might make a good epitaph:

I’ve always needed something in my hands . . .

a doll, a Teddy bear, kitten, puppy, infant,

new-born lamb, bread dough, yarn and knitting needles, 

a teacup, pen and paper, book, steering wheel, handkerchief,

a piece of quartz, an oak leaf, acorn, chestnut,

bouquet of daisies, dried hydrangeas . . .

EARTH! 

I’ve always needed something in my hands, and will

until You pry my fingers loose and lead me, empty handed,

HOME!

© Margaret Longenecker Been

Everyone knows I love words.  I never bothered to talk as a toddler, and until I turned two years old my parents were afraid I’d never talk.  Then I turned two, and my parents were suddenly afraid that I’d never stop.  I recall my mother telling someone: “Margaret can talk a bird down out of a tree”!

Shades of loquacity notwithstanding, what may be an even stronger trait exists in my DNA—the tactile gene.  This gene is an actual hunger at all times of the year.  Indeed over the winter holidays, when much of our time is occupied with pleasant social gatherings, the hunger intensifies to a point where I realize I HAVE to take my knitting along to group occasions in order to maintain soul balance—and also that I will not eat all the available goodies.  I must have something in my hands.

The hunger continues, rampantly noticeable, throughout the rest of the winter as I dream of the gardening season ahead—when bare hands in earth will be satisfied and filled with rejoicing.  Meanwhile, I repot houseplants—taking special care to get some of the soil under my fingernails while indulging my sense of smell in the heady fragrance of green roots in wet earth.  I paint with a paintbrush, but relish the traces of alizaron crimson and French ultramarine on my fingers.  I stroke my doggie’s back and pat his head, while revelling in the softness of his fur and the smoothness of his velvety ears.

And I knit!  Yarn has special appeal as each variety has its own texture.  Without looking I can differentiate between silk yarns, factory spun acrylic blends, and those precious yarns which I’ve spun from my own (long ago) sheep.  There is a distinct difference in sheep wools:  I still have a soft Shetland batt, and some Border Leicester wool which is lustrous and coarse—fine for my sun weathered skin, but frowned upon by many folks who can’t handle a bit of the scratch on their delicate bodies.

The first full blown realization of my abject need for tactile experience came to me over a couple of decades when I frequently attended workshops and conferences.  Many of these were focused on writing, and no matter how helpful and informative they were I would come home drained and stressed—wanting to scream but not knowing exactly why.  I may have been inspired and challenged, but I also felt kind of “ill”.  I was sick of words—and weary of the competition and drivenness commonly exhibited at conventions of writers!

Also in those years, I attended woollie gatherings—spinners’ conventions and knitters’ gatherings.  I came home from these occasions with an overflowing cup of contentment and well being!  The diverse textures of the subject matter were accompanied by the glorious scent of wool and high stimulation of COLOR—all set against a background of pleasant conversation.  To this day I feel healthy and strong in the wake of a spinners’ or knitters’ gathering—where all levels of “art” are welcome and respected, and participants are bonded in their shared love of a hands-on project.

Oddly enough, I can read a fine quality 600 or 700 page book (and often do) without that burnt out feeling that I get from a writers’ gathering.  Somehow, the aptly written word fulfills, challenges, soothes, and satisfies while building rather than depleting my soul.  So can words spoken by a teacher, preacher, or friend.  Quiet, one-on-one conversation with a friend or family member refreshes me.  And I can write volumes, with impunity. 

It is the cacophony of many competitive people talking that jars me to the core—along with the above mentioned drivenness that motivates (and sadly afflicts!) many writers in a group of their peers.  I’m settled and fulfilled whenever I have something in my hands! 

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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I don’t draw or paint animals very well.  They always seem to look like people, especially in the area of the eyes and facial expressions.  Now it may be argued that dogs are practically people—at least that goes for Collies and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.  But Ground Hogs are definitely not people and I won’t try to paint them.

Meanwhile, I’ve always LOVED Ground Hog Day.  In Wisconsin, the traditional “take” on the day is confusing.  Whereas in some quarters 6 more weeks of winter may be considered “bad news” (for those who don’t ski), in our proverbial neck of the woods ONLY 6 more weeks is cause for a big HOORAH (provided you don’t ski).  Whatever . . . .

Here is a painting of what the Ground Hog may see, not in 6 weeks but perhaps in a few months—when he does come out to inspect my garden.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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