Monday, January 8, 2018
death grip of arctic cold that's been ravaging pretty much our entire continent is loosening temporarily and I'm feeling slightly joyful about that. Maybe I will be able to get the back door open! I guess it is all relative, then, because if 33 degrees F starts to seem like a relief, then I really can get used to anything. This post-holiday lull is when I am at my most gloomy, so I try to combat that by cleaning and tidying and generally getting the house--where I am sometimes trapped for days--back into shipshape. Thus, we took the whole house apart last week, and threw plastic over all the furniture and piled all the books and paintings and pillows and chair cushions in the corner in preparation for painting. I washed all the walls and we spackled over my forty-jillion nail holes and took off the outlet covers. Chaos, buckets, caulk, disorder, screws loose and scattering...and then the sky opened up and dumped a million tons of snow on our heads and everything was closed, and we were becalmed. We couldn't get any paint. We couldn't even get to the mailbox. And then the polar cold turned the road into a sheet of ice. And then the wind drifted a million more tons of snow into the driveway, and we had to alternate endlessly shoveling with just sitting bleakly in the middle of all the plastic while the catdog, who does not enjoy change, paced nervously, wondering where all the recognizable features of her life had gone, and (despite her very cute wardrobe of sweaters and boots) refused to go outdoors. I drank all the coffee in the house, switched to wine, and heartily sympathized. I didn't want to go out there, either. I knit monogamously (whoo, that's rare) on that sweater up there, "Arboreal" by Jennifer Steingass, and finished it this morning. It's sprawled in front of a fan right now, trying to dry, and I'll show it later, in action. I used the most interesting stuff: here). It comes in "plates" and it just looks like very thin pencil roving. I had never worked with anything like this before, and it was so fascinating. The wool of the Icelandic sheep is pretty unique, and the staple length of the fiber seems to be quite long, so while Plotulopi has a reputation for being fragile, I only broke it twice, when I sat on it accidentally, and otherwise was plenty sturdy enough. You'd never be able to sew a seam with it, though, hence the Icelanders have the good sense to use it for their famous lopapeysur--patterned yoke sweaters, knit without seams, and that's what I used it for, too. The structure of it, this unspun stuff (and this is also true of the other lopi yarns--"lopi", or "lopa", by the way, is Icelandic for "wool"-- which are spun, but loosely) traps a lot of air, so fabric knit with it is very fluffy and apparently will also be very hard-wearing. If you are thirsting for more knowledge about Icelandic wool, you can read more from the true experts right here.) In my own limited experience, Plotulopi is without a doubt the hairiest thing I have ever knit with--it shed like a Labrador--but the garment it made might also be the warmest garment in all the world. The heat of it on my lap as I worked on it was pretty unbelievable. It felt like it was plugged in. The extreme fluffy hairiness of the Plotulopi does somewhat obscure the leafy patterning of the Arboreal yoke, but I have decided to look at that as a design feature. This thing will be perfect when winter comes roaring back with a vengeance next week.