Saturday, January 13, 2024

In a Polar Vortex


We've been experiencing a "Polar Vortex" in Western Canada for most of this week. The wind chills over night have dipped down into the minus mid-fifties Celsius (!) and into the minus forties during the day.  
A couple of days ago I managed to get out to feed the birds, shovelling my way to the garage where I store their food, and to put out my garbage -- again, shovelling my way to the alley to put the pail out for the Friday a.m. pick-up.

 On Wednesday, a neighbour, who was collecting mail for others, offered to fetch mine too; otherwise it would still be at the Post Office!  Our Anglican parish priest has cancelled the service for this Sunday, which means you know the weather's bad.
The kitties are all rather stir-crazy.  The little ones have upped their games of 'race' and 'wrestle', while Miss Pookie, the elder-cat, sits in her favourite spot behind my laptop, and glares at the weather.  
I've been in pretty good form as far as food goes, but will be glad when the weather warms up -- possibly Tuesday.  Then I hope to get to town for groceries.  I'm a decent cook but not a foodie; as my supplies dwindle -- and it's too @@!!**  cold to walk the four or five blocks to the General Store here in this tiny hamlet -- I've had to get creative.  

Before it got too brutal -- on Monday, after Sunday's snow day -- I got down there and bought the smallest bag of pasta (spiral noodles) I could find (I don't eat pasta or potatoes as a general rule) plus a tin of mushroom soup and 2 litres of low-fat milk.

I still have bacon (a full package in the freezer), but otherwise have no fresh meat; I'm not a vegetarian and need the protein!  I have some tuna, and some frozen mixed veggies, so I put together a tuna casserole -- something I've not made (as far as I know) since my kids left home!  That lasted me four meals.  I also took out the chicken/veg soup I'd made in the slow cooker on Xmas night, and I made a batch of cranberry muffins for breakfasts.  

Now that the muffins are finished, I've turned to oatmeal with raisins and wheat germ for my breakfast, along with the above-mentioned bacon.  And for a change of soups, today I cobbled together an "Italian-style Zucchini and Tomato Soup"**, using shredded zuke (from the freezer) and half a can of diced tomatoes, lacking anything fresh.  Delicious, if I may say so myself.  And for an alternate carb, I've made a loaf of whole grain bread in my bread-maker.  The recipe is one of my favourites -- very 'grainy' -- because it includes 1/3 cup of Sunny Boy cereal.  Yum!  ** NOTE: If you click the recipe link, scroll down to get the 'recipe card' you can print.  There are an annoying number of flashing adverts etc. on the silly website!!

My hands have been busy with other things as well: knitting, quilting and stitching in my usual round.  I've been following the WIPGO board I described in my last post and am progressing rather well on the called squares for January: #9 and #22.

I started with #22: "Monochromatic".  In that last post I showed you where I'd left off in August 2023.  At the time, I was one-and-a-half motifs into a "9-patch-style" pattern:

My rule for my WIPGO is to do 7 days work on whatever project is in the squares called in a given month.  By 7 days I don't mean 8 hours' work at a stretch! 😆  Rather, I simply mean I have to put some time in for seven days during the month.  

I began January with four days' work on this project -- it's "Peace" from Carolyn Manning, and I'm stitching it on 28-count pearl grey linen using a hand-dyed tencel yarn (ostensibly for knitting!) that I bought from a vendor at Fibre Week in Olds, Alberta last June.  I have three more days to go to meet my January commitment, but here's what it looks like after those four;

And here's a close-up of the first motif:

It's so pretty!  I'll get back to it in the next week or so to finish those last few days (at least!)

This week I switched to #9 from my board: "Full Coverage".  And yes, I dug out this half-finished piece I abandoned a good 20 years ago: "Bag Ladies" -- a kit from Sunset Counted Cross Stitch:

In my last post I spoke about the stain you see on the right side, and how I couldn't get it out for love nor money.  Blessedly, I think pretty much all of it will eventually be covered by stitches.  I've worked on it daily from Monday through Friday this week, and just might do so today and tomorrow too, thus completing my 7 days for the month.

Here's how it looks as of last evening.  I'm starting to encroach on the stain to the right, but want to get that striped cat done first!

On the knitting front, I've been working on the socks for my friend Brenda, who's a rancher and the "birth mom" of my kitties;

Pattern: "Woodpile Socks"
Designer: Bethany Hill
Yarn: Estelle Yarns Highland Alpaca Fine in 
Colour #18 - "Lagoon"

Yes, the second sock is nearly finished!  In fact, after I took this photo, I finished the pattern on the foot, and am nearly finished the toe.  They'll be finished completely by the end of today.  😊  (While there is knitting on my WIPGO board, these are a gift, so they're not part of the WIPGO project.)

And with the onset of the Vortex, I got the urge to knit a blanket.  Yep.  I rarely knit blankets, but this one was highlighted for me last year by Marsha (Betterinmotion on Ravelry).  I tried it then in some of the mystery yarn my daughter gave me for Xmas 2022, but frogged that.  Turns out the yarn was better suited to weaving, so I gave it to my friend Anne who's used it to make small rugs, to great effect!

This go 'round, I dug out an acrylic/cotton/wool blend I'd bought back when I worked at The Crafty Lady's brick-and-mortar shop (now gone):  Diamond Select Stonewash in the colour "Chalk" (#501).

The pattern Marsha used is aptly named "January Blanket"; the other day I cast on using a slightly-shorter-than-called-for circular needle, and got the first border (seed stitch) done:

It doesn't look like much now, but I think it's going to be worth the time and effort -- and the yarn is a treat to work with for this project.

The "Wee Lima" pullover I showed in my last post is now finished but for the buttons; the "Chandelier" crib quilt is sandwiched and pin basted.  It's been too cold to get down to the PO to mail them, so I just decided to finish them once it warms up a bit -- they'll go out later this month.

Instead, having given away four quilt tops for Ukrainian refugees, I went back to work on the Scrappy Star Buster Quilt from Pat Sloan that I mentioned in my mid-December post.  It's been so much fun to make, that I put time into it almost every day, and now the top is finished!

Here it was earlier this week, as I assembled the rows with sashing.  Note that my design 'wall' is leaning up against the wall of the closet in my studio, instead of hanging on the wall.  That's because Sylvie Kitten tried to climb it once too many times, and pulled it right off the wall!!  I reinforced and cleaned the fabric covering the thick blue foam insulation slab that forms the base, but couldn't get it back onto the wall without moving my entire sewing table -- that just wasn't happening! -- so I'm making do.  

Rows/sashing under construction

And here it is -- the finished top draped over the love seat in my living room because it's too cold to take a photo outside:

Top (unfinished) measures about 54 1/2" x 64 1/2"

I don't think I have enough batting to sandwich it right now, so I'll leave it for the moment.  I've got sets of blocks ready to assemble into two more throw-sized tops: string blocks that I'm turning into string-HSTs:

String blocks = 6 1/2"; HSTs = 6" unfinished

And a stack of postage-stamp blocks:

Each block = 6 1/2" unfinished

I was going to turn the postage stamp blocks into curtains, but decided that putting them into a comfort quilt was a better use for them.

So, stitching, knitting and quilting.  That's what I've been up to, to stay cozy during this Polar Vortex.  I've also entered a SAQA Regional (All Canadian) exhibit, but can't share the entry photos with you until April, when the acceptance/"so sorry" letters are due to go out.  There are only 30 spots available, so competition will be stiff!

This week, after it warms up some, I'm taking three pieces in to the Viewpoint Gallery in Red Deer, for the "Craft & Care" exhibit into which I was juried.  The installation is February 15, but I wanted to be sure my work got there -- and that I got to see the gallery space -- well before hand, given the wintry weather and road conditions.  The show will run through the last Saturday in April, and there's to be a First Friday opening on March 1, which I also hope to attend.

"Order Out of Chaos (aka Chaos Can be Colourful") -- at right, is one of the pieces that will be in the exhibit, along with "Frayed" and "And It's Only June".

I'm one of only eleven textile artists chosen for this show, and as far as I know, I'm the only art quilter.  There are two silk artists (I own a scarf created by one of them), some felt artists, and several whose names I couldn't connect with anything online -- so there might be another quilter in there somewhere.  I'm looking forward to meeting them!

Now it's time to sign off so I can get to finishing that sock toe -- and go back to quilting and stitching for the afternoon!  Nina-Marie is back with her Off the Wall Friday link-up, so I'll leave you with that and the hopes that wherever you are you're well, safe, warm, cared for and caring.

A bientot!

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