Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Stumping the Driver

 We went to Dungloe on the bus today. Joe was our driver (sometimes Michael is driving). I finally remembered to ask him about something I've been wondering about for a month or two. I got my answer in a way we found rather amusing.

A while back, Bill found a book somewhere online called Memories of Dungloe, written by a guy named Patrick Campbell. His family owned Campbell's Hotel and that's where he lived growing up. I read it recently and enjoyed it, but I wondered where Campbell's Hotel had been--it's not there now. Shortly after I read it, we were on the bus and Michael was driving, so I asked him if he knew where the old Campbell's Hotel used to be. He had no idea. I decided to ask Joe next time I saw him--he has shared plenty of stories of his own about how life used to be in this area. Of course, I promptly forgot to ask him next time we were on the bus and many times after that--until today.

We got on the bus got our groceries tucked out of the way and settled in. I asked if he knew where the hotel used to be and explained how I'd heard of the place. He was puzzled. He'd never heard of Campbell's Hotel. He was thinking out loud for a bit and then he said, 'I have no idea, but I'll find out for ya. You stumped me with this one, but you leave it with me. I'll get it sorted.' I said thank you and that would be great. I expected he might tell me next time we see him.

Technically we were on the town run at that point and we had a few minutes until it turned into the bus that comes out our way, so before I knew it, Joe was on the phone. He was speaking in Irish, but I heard him mention Campbell's Hotel. After the call ended, he said he'd called his sister who knows more than him because she's older. She knew where it was and he showed us as we drove by. Turns out it was on the corner a few doors away from our old apartment. It's now a pub called The Bridge Inn. They might rent upstairs rooms through AirBnB, but I don't know. Over a century ago, before the hotel or the Bridge Inn, there used to be a different building there. All that's left of that are the original steps.

So now I know, and so does Joe, thanks to his sister! πŸ˜€ Better than google!

Saturday, March 26, 2022

They Should Get It Back

 Tonight at 1 am we move the clocks forward. Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I think moms should get that hour back! Seems like mothers of small children would be especially grateful for that hour of sleep! If they're anything like me, this time change requires days of adjustment. I'm fine with the autumn time change, but this one always messes me up. 

Now that we'll be jumping forward, there will be what is called 'the grand old stretch' in the evenings. I'm happy that we'll get an extra hour of darkness in the morning. 

When we were humble servants to various critters, the autumn time change was the issue. They liked springing forward well enough, although it took a few days for them to understand that this did not mean an extra meal at the 'new' time and the regularly scheduled meal at what their internal clocks were telling them was the correct time for grub. They were not at all happy after we would 'fall back' to have to wait that extra hour. 

Every morning, the sled dog (who let us know early on that she was actually a bed dog) would sit right next to Bill while he was sleeping and stick her nose in his face. She would shift and get more restless as time went on. The cat would sit on his chest and glare at him. I used to lay very still with my eyes closed. He used to try to ignore them until he couldn't stand it anymore. After the autumn time changes, he would have an extra hour of this. He once commented that I never got up. 'Damn right,' I replied, 'If I do it even once, they will expect it. As it is, they don't expect me to get up and don't pester me--that's the way I like it!' πŸ˜‚

Happy days.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Body Surfing Pig

 I don't remember how I discovered the Jacob's Ridge youtube channel, but once I watched one video, I was hooked! Jacob's Ridge is an animal sanctuary in Spain. The people who run it were renting the land, but when the pandemic hit, it was hard to keep the income stream flowing, since part of their expenses were met my having people do volunteer holiday stays there. With travel shutting down this was no longer possible. The owner was apparently very accommodating, but eventually, he needed to be paid. He offered the site to them at a discounted price so they set up a crowdfunding project to get the money to buy it--and they did! Yay! 

The sanctuary has dogs, cats, goats, sheep, donkeys, horses, pigs, and possibly other critters, too. There are over 140 animals being cared for there, according to their youtube channel. The videos always make me laugh--Julian, one of the owners, has a good comedic sense and interacts with the animals--especially the donkeys--in fun ways. His partner, Rachel, is so loving and gentle with the animals. I have no affiliation with the sanctuary or the youtube channel other than as a subscriber who finds the videos uplifting, heartwarming, and funny. The one I watched last night was no exception and I share it here. If you like animals and enjoy a good laugh, check out their youtube channel to see more animal shenanigans!

Ben, the 700-pound pig,  decided to have a wander down to the river, but things did not go as he planned.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Sea and Shadow

 Every time we go out, I have a look at the water to see what colour the sea is on that day. It can be so many different colours--black, grey, green, navy blue, turquoise, and various combinations of these. Today it was a kind of dark turquoise at home, but down the road in the next village, it was more grey. This was taken alongside our building.
There were lots of shadows today.
What's the question? 

There is a gate down the street which I love, but I can never get a good picture of it because it doesn't show up well against the background. I got the design today as a shadow. It'd be a fun design in a colouring book or as a piece of abstract art.
We were walking to the grocery store in the next village and back--it's about 1 1/4 miles each way. Now that I've been using my new backpack for a couple weeks, I can say that I love it. It's far more comfortable with the padded straps and back and the improved design means that when it's packed, things sit better inside it, which means the pack itself sits more comfortably on my back. Yay!

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Lovely End to the Day!

 I had a particularly peaceful and pleasant end to yesterday. At about 10,  I got comfortable in my bed with a mocha beside me to start and then later a cup of tea. i stuck my ear buds in and resumed listening to the audiobook of Dead Man's Folly by Agatha Christie--a Poirot novel read by David Suchet, who played him superbly on TV off and on for a couple of decades. He has done a fine job with this audiobook as well. While I listened, I rummaged around in the zippered pouch containing some cross-stitch supplies--basics, like needles and a pair of scissors, as well as scraps of aida cloth and threads. I chose a piece of cloth, poked through the snips of thread and started stitching. Several chapters later, I had a completed bookmark.
I enjoyed playing with the colours and I've used the peace heart design in various ways since I graphed it out many years ago. Something to aspire to, even if we can't realistically hope that peace and love will ever take over the world!

Once the bookmark was done, I wanted to keep listening, so turned to kumihimo and did that. When I had 5 chapters left, I turned it off, read a bit, listened to a podcast, watched an art video and then, at about 2:30, went to sleep. 

Good books, scrappy projects, and hot beverages--my kind of night!

hope your night is good, too.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Wake-Up Call on a Warm Sunny Spring Morning

 Looks like summer is coming early to us this year. We've had a couple days of bright sunshine and warmer than average temperatures. It's going to stay this way but even warmer for the week ahead. It will feel like summer, which I am not happy about. As I was sitting quietly, drinking my tea and really feeling the seasonal tiredness that comes with waking up too early, some words started meandering through my brain. I wrote them down, mindful as I did so that they come from someone in a privileged position. I am not hungry or thirsty, not seeking shelter, and there are no bombs falling on my home.  Nonetheless, the words kept nudging me and writing them down cleared up some space in my brain. Here they are.

Wake-Up Call on a Sunny Spring Morning
I open my eyes
to a bright sunny morning.
It settles
on me like a
lead blanket.
Do I have to get up?

I remind myself
Feel and acknowledge!
OK, I’ll try.
Hello, heavy weight
of depression.
Greetings, fluttery wasp buzz
of agitation.
Here you are again--
arriving with the warm sunny weather
a bit early this year.

I confess--
as always--
even though I knew
you’d be coming
I’m not 
I’m not
to have you back.

But here you are
unwelcome guests--
settle in.
Let’s get reacquainted--
since you’ll be here
for months
we might as well.

You’ll burrow in.
I’ll get used to
agitation’s jumpy hum,
constant soundtrack
to my days.
You’ll suck
the energy out of me, 
as I drag
your ball and chain
through each hour.

I’ll function anyway,
trying to be in 
each present moment
as it arises—
or at least 
to do better.

Still, if I’m honest
I must admit
I don’t particularly
your company.
I’ll be looking
to your departure.

When summer goes
you can go with it.
I won’t miss
any of you
you’re gone.

19 March 2022
Bunbeg, Co Donegal

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Happy St Patrick's Day!

 Today is St Patrick's Day, the national holiday for Ireland. Because of the pandemic, things have been very quiet for the past couple years and the last parade was in 2019. We never did get to see one in Dungloe because that ended up being our lockdown town--we were in lockdown for almost the entire time we lived there. Everyone was excited for the return of festivities and this year, because the day falls on Thursday, the government created another holiday as a way to thank everyone for their community spirit during the pandemic which falls on 18 March for this year only. Starting next year, it will be the first Monday in February in honour of Brigid, whose day is 1 Feb.

We had no idea whether there would be a parade here or not. I looked online earlier in the week and could find nothing. But there were flags attached to the lamp posts when I got up this morning, so I thought maybe there'd be something. Then I was looking for something else and saw a link that looked promising. Clicking on that informed me that the parade would begin at 2:30. Since it went right by us, we watched from our windows. It was kind of weird to see cars and vans parking on the sidewalk to watch. It's rural enough here that not everyone who wants to see the Gweedore parade can walk so there were fewer people lining the footpaths and a bunch watching from their cars. 

I expected St Patrick to be leading the way as in every other parade we've seen, but he apparently doesn't participate in person here. He was pulled on a trailer in a depiction of himself driving the snakes out of Ireland (thanks, Patrick!).
literal translation is 'big apostle of Ireland'--sounds way more catchy than St Patrick, I think!
There were the usual parade sorts of things--a few marching bands, people riding on various motorized vehicles, and lots of flags.

too windy for the leprechaun

colourful coast guard truck

But there can only be one star in this parade:

It was nice to see people out with their flags and funky green hats watching the parade again. 

Haven't ever seen green beer here and corned beef isn't a thing (except very occasionally packaged as deli meat). Cabbage is a thing though and I made myself a nice big batch of slaw with balsamic vinaigrette so I can munch on it all weekend!

I have loved this song for decades. After almost 8 years, I am still grateful to be able to live in this wonderful country. Happy St Patrick's Day!  

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Well That's Different

 We were in Aldi yesterday, walking by one side of the middle aisle, with its ever-expanding selection of Easter candy. Easter candy is big business here--I've seen Cadbury Creme Eggs appear before Christmas some years. Whenever they show up, they're usually the first appearance of what will become mountains of chocolate options in many different permutations. There are bunnies and chickens, but the real focus is on the eggs. There are eggs in all sizes, ranging from small foil wrapped chocolate to huge elaborately decorated chocolate eggs that sparkle and shine. Yesterday, though, as I glanced at the first of the glittery eggs, I noticed something a bit different. Spiky.
photo by bill burke
Yes, it's Spiky the Shark. Because nothing says, 'Happy Easter!' like a chocolate shark. 😏Just don't put him in the same basket as the bunnies or chickens!

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Perhaps We Should Be More Specific

 We were on the bus this afternoon and the radio was on. News had just broken about the significant increases in the price of electricity and natural gas starting next month. This is on top of steep price increases in the price of petrol (€2 per litre, which works out at today's exchange rate to US$8.28 per gallon). People are understandably upset and many are struggling. They are angry at the situation and in what appears to be a cultural universal, they direct their ire at the government. The easy targets are the measures put in place to lower our carbon footprint. People called in to demand that these be done away with, at least for now. The host replied that they're there 'to save the planet.' Now it was my turn to be annoyed as I always am when this kind of language is used. It's not about saving the planet. It's about saving the habitat of the species called homo sapiens sapiens, also known as human beings. Yes, in the process we would save the habitat of many other species as well, which is as it should be. But whether we destroy our habitat or not, the planet will go on. It was here before humans and it'll be here after humans. Other species would thrive in a world without humans as well. I think this talk about 'saving the planet' is both arrogant and lacking in urgency. It deflects attention to some vague concept instead of focusing it on the fact that we are destroying the only habitat we have. The planet doesn't need us to save it, but we sure do need it to be hospitable to human life.

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Art of Writing by Peter Yang (book review)

 The Art of Writing: Four Principles for Great Writing That Everyone Needs to Know by Peter Yang
published by TCK Publishing

In this very practical and accessible book, Peter Yang argues that there are four principles that can elevate anyone’s writing. They are economy, transparency, variety, and harmony. Yang devotes a chapter to each principle, making his case and providing numerous examples along the way. He ends the book with some thoughts on writing. His advice is solid and his examples are illuminating.

The book is extremely clear, accessible, and enjoyable to read. It’s not a dry tome about grammar rules—as he points out, there are other books for that. This is more about what comes after the grammar. It’s a very useful book which I could relate to. Having spent over a decade in academia, I’d become quite used to the kind of writing that occurs there. Once someone came to me stressed about a paper they were trying to start. ‘How am I going to get 5 pages out of this?’ they wondered. ‘What do you have so far?’ I asked. They read me the two sentences they’d written. ‘There’s your problem,’ I replied, ‘Why use only two sentences when 5 paragraphs will do?’ I proceeded to help them stretch their two sentences into a page and a half. Very few people would consider academic writing to be clear, concise, or scintillating. I could have used this book when I left academia, because it took me a long time to learn to write in a more accessible way for a wider audience.

Whatever kind of writing you do or want to do, this book can provide suggestions for how to make your message clear and your writing enjoyable to read. Whether you write a blog, want to write a novel, or simply want to communicate better via writing, this book can help.

I thank TCK Publishing and the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Vital Function of Constant Narrative by Marlys West

The Vital Function of Constant Narrative by Marlys West
EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781733048873
Publication date 30 April 2022 by V Press LC

Each poem in this fine collection is a small jewel of a life story. When strung together, the resulting collection is part meditation on our place in the universe, part memoir, and part healing.

The writing is beautiful, such as this first stanza of the poem Bang:
Our universe began with the end of another. Now it’s
after dinner,
I’m standing at the kitchen window behind short,
white curtains,
hand in a hot sink full of platters, hand hovering over
cosmic dust,

And these last couple of lines from Everything Twice:
American English takes me ages to travel to the end of
a sentence

If you enjoy life stories, thoughts on life, and/or being immersed in words, I recommend this collection.

I thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the poet for providing me with this e-galley in exchange for a fair review.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Back in the Day

 In addition to the gallery right next to the library, there's a space within the library devoted to small art exhibitions. We've seen some wonderful art over these past several months. The current display is no exception. We spent some time looking at this artist's work and fell in love with some of it. Because of the way homes are constructed here, it's not a simple matter to put in nails or other hardware for hanging things, so we never know what we will find in that regard. Also, because we move a lot, we don't want anything large. All that is to say that unless a painting or other artwork is small, we can't consider it, no matter how drawn we are to it. On the other hand, we love having people's art and craft work around us, in addition to my own textile creations and Bill's photography. We have been talking about trying to find a small piece of art by a local artist, even if it's in the form of a greeting card. We were thrilled to discover that the artist currently showing his work at the library is selling prints as well as paintings. Yay! 

Many of his pieces were interior scenes of old cottages, depicting what they might have looked like back in the day. It was hard to choose, but we opted for this one:
Next time we go to the library, I will ask the librarian to write down the artist's name for me so I can look him up. There were no business cards or anything with his name printed out and I can't read the signature. Every combination I try leads nowhere, so he might not even have an online presence. Whether I find him online or not, I'm happy to have this piece of work to add to our small collection. 

UPDATE: The librarian wrote down the name for us--it's Seamus Doohan. He is also a walking guide.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

I'm From Nowhere

A guy came this afternoon to fix the bathroom window. We recently had several storms in the space of 10 days or so and during a few of those days, the wind was blowing hard straight from the Atlantic behind us and across the side of the building, opening our bathroom window in the process. It wouldn't stay closed until I used packing tape to keep it shut and Bill wedged a towel around the handle between it and the bottom pane. Apparently, the latch was corroded or something which is common in the salty sea air. This guy had come to look at it a couple weeks ago, and was talking about getting up on the ladder to fix it from the outside, since it's situated in such a way that makes it impossible to fix from inside without removing the window. At the time he was here, another wind warning--orange this time--was just coming into effect and 100 kph gusts were possible. Bill suggested to him that it might not be the best time to be up on the high ladder at the top of a hill as the wind blew gales from the sea. Upon reflection, Window Guy decided to come back another day. Today was that day.

He fixed the latch then came up to check it and to measure the window in the living room that had been replaced by someone else who broke the new window in the process. Then he wanted to chat. He commented that we're not from here and we talked about that and other things.

A while later, I saw a comment from Linda on yesterday's post about the names of the grocery store in the next village. She talked about people 'holding on to the past.' This is in a good way--it brought to mind the idea of having good memories, feelings of attachment, home, etc. As I read her comment, I was thinking about how different my experience is. Many people like Window Guy have asked us things like, 'Are you going home for the festive season?' I always reply that I am home. People have asked me through the years where I am from or where I call home. My answer to the first question is, 'I'm from nowhere.' and to the second it's, 'Wherever I am at the time.' I honestly do not have anyplace that I think of as 'home' other than wherever I live. When we tent-camped across the northern US, we'd set up the tent and I would create my little corner and that was home for however long we stayed there. The longest I've lived in any one place is about a decade, so there has never been time for me to be nostalgic or remember how things used to be in the place I am. We almost never go back to places we've lived once we've moved. And while I try to learn from the past and know that some things will always stay with me, I don't really feel connected to a place and I never have. Honestly, I am not comfortable in the consumer capitalist world into which I was born. I understand it really well though, and that helps me maneuver through it, but as an outsider. This quote by Simone de Beauvoir is totally me, 'I was made for another planet altogether. I mistook the way.'

I grew up in corporate suburbia, which was a nightmare. What I learned growing up was how not to live. I have never not been an outsider. I learned how to be an anthropologist and an actor at a very young age, since I had to learn the rules I was supposed to follow and then proceed to at least present the right persona, even as the real me was (mostly) kept hidden and private. This was true within the biological family unit and in public. I am very good at these things. 

Because I had to start observing and understanding what was going on around me at a young age, I have always felt at a distance from places and most people. I truly have been doing a form of participant observation for my entire conscious life. This has served me well and I wouldn't know how to be any other way. Nor would I want to. As an adult, I am always grateful for the observational and analytical skills being a perpetual outsider bring me. But it does contribute to the fact that I hold things lightly. I don't get attached to things/places/situations or think things will stay the same--change happens. Sometimes I can see it coming and prepare and sometimes it comes out of the blue and I have to adapt quickly. I do not put down roots. Having too much stuff agitates me. People have asked us if we've ever considered buying a house here. No. Just the thought feels like an anchor around my neck. First of all, we're not DIY types and we're learned from past experience that we don't like home ownership. I like the fact that I've experienced life in various kinds of places and that I can walk away from wherever I am when it's time to move on with a minimum of fuss. I love not owning furniture, dishes, etc.  I used to think that I would love to find *my* spot and settle in for years and years. Then I got some clarity and understood that I'm just not made that way and I would be miserable. 

Bill lived in the same place for the first 20 years or so of his life. He talks about places and memories of that place still. He can look at a picture of what it's like today and tell me about what used to be there. When we were going to Maine, he suggested we take a detour through the place in New Hampshire where I was forced to move when my father got a promotion at work. I was not at all interested. Living there was horrible and I truly did not care whether or not the house was even standing anymore. But he was driving and he went in that direction. He asked me once or twice if he was going in the right direction and I had no idea. I just didn't remember--or care. He found it, we drove by, I glanced at it to make him happy and then we left. I wouldn't have been able to tell you anything about the place 5 minutes after we'd gone. 

We've listened to many stories told by people about their memories and the way things used to be in a particular place. Sometimes this has been in the context of sitting around with friends or acquaintances. We've done more formal life story work with people as well. And we hear a lot of stories when we're on a bus or we have conversations with people there or in gatherings we happen to attend. I love hearing these stories and I enjoy reading about people's life experiences on blogs and in comments. These things help me understand both the world around me and my place within it, especially since these experiences are so different from my own. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

It's Mickey's

 When we moved here, we sometimes started going to the grocery store in the next village, which is about 1 1/4 miles from us. On one side of the building, it says 'Gallagher's' and as I recall, that's how the letting agent referred to it when we came to look at this place. But from the first time we went there, we were puzzled about what these words meant:
I knew 'siopa' is 'shop,' but what about the word underneath? I looked in three different Irish dictionaries. Nothing. I tried online. Nope. I experimented with other possible spellings--Irish words sometimes change depending on what comes before them, so I looked up every alternative I could think of and I came up short. I finally remembered to ask the bus driver, who grew up here, what the word means. It's Mickey. This used to be Mickey's Shop until the Gallagher family came back from the US and bought it. They expanded it, but when they redid it, they put Mickey's name back on the building. 

The bus driver talked a bit about Mickey and the practice of calling people by three names. For example, there is a bar/restaurant in Dungloe called Patrick Johnny Sally's. Since many people have the same names, they add on the names of the mother and father. This reminded me of when I was in Village, Alaska. When children would come to play with my friend's grandson and my friend didn't know them, she would always ask, 'Who's your mother?' Not once did she ask, 'Who are you?' or 'What's your name?' 

The specifics are different but both of these examples serve to identify people in a certain way--within their family unit. This makes sense in a village, particularly when there are people going away for a time and then coming back again. I am not sure whether this practice still goes on in larger towns or the few cities that exist in Ireland. I never noticed it until we got to Dungloe, even though we lived in very small towns. Here in the Gaeltacht, though, there are cultural differences that are sometimes subtle. The anthropologist part of my brain is quite drawn to these and I find them interesting. It's just a different vibe, even as there are commonalities as well.

Anyway, now we know that it's either Mickey's Shop or Gallagher's, depending on who is doing the talking or which side of the building we stand on! πŸ˜‰

Monday, March 7, 2022

Packin' It on My Back :-)

Bill's phone sounded a little while ago. It was the Fastway Couriers guy who was downstairs with a box. Bill went down to get it, opened it, and handed me a new backpack. Yay! It was a surprise and a welcome one at that. This old pack served me well for 17 years (and it may have been used when I got it). It has held a lot of stuff in various states and countries--light loads and heavy loads. But it was starting to wear out with the fabric on top pulling and some of the stitching that held the straps on coming loose. I still used it, but I had become mindful of the fact that something might come apart while it was in use. I just hoped it wouldn't be when I had it loaded with groceries or library books!
I liked the design and construction of this one--one large compartment with a smaller pocket in front. I stopped driving and started walking a year before I got this pack and it's been full of groceries, library books, and other things in 3 states on a regular basis. It came with me when we camped in a tent across the northern US and hauled things around while we were on the road. It was on the plane with me when we moved to Ireland. And it's carried groceries and library books on this side of the pond. When we would go away for a night, I'd pack my stuff in this bag. It's been in lots of different towns and villages in 3 countries. So many memories. I have a larger backpack that I use when necessary, but it's a bit cumbersome for everyday use, so I used this one much more. Bill has a different design with three compartments and I find that impractical. I can fit more in mine which is a consideration when hauling groceries home or going away for a day or two. 

My new pack is pretty much the same design, but improved. It still has one large main compartment and a smaller pocket in front, but the pocket is wider and sits higher.
Instead of one handle at the top back, this one has two handles with the zipper in between.
This is good, because where the fabric is getting pulled on the old pack is at a pressure point. When picked up by this handle, the weight shifts forward and there is drag. This is where the fabric is pulling apart a bit. I use the top handle to get the pack on the bus, which is small--a 16-seater van. The middle aisle is very narrow, so if I try to get a loaded backpack on the bus using a strap, it's cumbersome and difficult to control. Having two handles placed where they are and padded will make this easier. 

This pack also has padding on the back, which should be comfortable when it's loaded. There have been times I've been poked by the edge of a box or something that was stuffed into the old backpack, which had almost no padding on the back.

Finally, this one has side pockets. Yay!
That's the one thing I liked better about Bill's pack--he had pockets. Sometimes things would have been easier with pockets. When we lived in Dungloe and I used to go sit on the pier with a cup of tea, I carried my travel mug in my hand--even though it says it's leak-proof, I didn't want to take a chance and end up with a wet backpack interior. It wasn't far, so that was fine, but for longer walks/journeys, the pocket is more handy. I've made carriers for my coffee travel mug and my stainless steel water bottle, but even so, I was either carrying them in my hand or trying to tie them to the pack somehow. Now I'll just stick stuff in the pockets.

At one time in my life, backpack use and design were not even things I thought about. But once I opted for the slow lane on foot instead of zipping around in a car, my focus and priorities shifted. Once we bought a small tree for our yard and I even carried that home in my larger backpack. There were some amused drivers that day, I can tell you! Yup, when everything is being carried on my back, the pack needs to be just right, so I'm grateful for this new backpack with the same things that were great about my old one and the few improvements that make it even better. πŸ˜ƒ

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

A Few Rounds Here and a Few Rounds There

 I always try to have a mindless project or two on the go--something I can pick up and work on for a while when the mood strikes, whether I have a few minutes or want something to work on while listening to a podcast or audiobook. Often at least one of these projects is socks. It can take me months to actually complete a pair if I am working in this way, but that's OK. If I need a pair fast, I can make them my main project and have them in a few days, otherwise a round here and a round there eventually leads to toasty toes.
For sockists or other interested readers, here are a few of my sock-making quirks. i knit my socks on double points. I've tried two circulars and magic loop and don't like them, so I stick with my double points for socks. I often use regular superwash fingering weight wool for the cuffs (excellent use for leftovers) and sock yarn (usually in a 75% wool/25% nylon ratio) for the rest where the strength of the nylon is needed for longer wear. I cast on 68 stitches using US size 1 or 2 needles 2.25mm and 2.75mm respectively), depending on the yarn and I knit the cuff using whatever stitch pattern comes into my head. In this case, I alternated 5 rounds of 2x2 rib with 3 rounds of plain knitting.

When the cuff is as long as I want it to be, I switch to the sock yarn and knit a few rounds before setting up for the heel, when I switch to size 0 (2mm) needles. This means a tighter knit for better wear. I make a standard heel flap alternating slip stitches with knit stitches on the right side, then pick up the gusset stitches and knit on, decreasing until I have 72 stitches altogether. I may or may not decide to do some sort of stitch pattern on the top of the foot. In this case, I continued the cuff pattern until a few rounds before the toe decreases.

I always use a star toe, because that fits better and is more comfortable for me to wear than others.

Socks are good for my mindless project pile, because there is a lot of knitting around and around, punctuated by heels and toes that require slightly more attention. It's fun to see how the stitch patterns will develop and how the stripes and patterns in the sock yarn will appear. I like to be doing something with my hands while I am listening to stuff. And we get to have warm feet at the end of it all 😁 Bill and I both have quite a sock wardrobe and every pair has come off my needles. I have the yarn for the next pair pulled and ready to go.