tea for two...

i encourage my two cats to compete for my affection by telling each one that she is my 'best girl' whenever the other cat is out of earshot. after only three years, it is still too early to tell if this strategy is having the desired effect. i have, however, noticed a pattern in which one cat always seems to keep me company while the other one sleeps, and i am beginning to fear that i may in fact be 'subject zero' in some twisted plan of theirs. i would elaborate on my suspicions, but Baby Bear is sitting right next to me, so it may be time to change the subject.

it has been snowing for most of the past twenty-four hours, and there is a polar vortex rapidly descending on the entire region. i can scarcely keep up with the demand for hot beverages.

we drink absurd amounts of tea (and the occasional coffee) around here in the Winter, and we prefer to use super-large mugs in order to avoid refilling the smaller cups every twenty minutes. problem is, we were down to one-and-a-half super-large mugs. the "half" in question is my white Santa mug, the handle of which had to be reconstructed several months ago with equal parts patience and crazy glue.

every cup of tea since then has been a gamble with the inevitable. Winter was here, and we needed new mugs. i found myself revisiting this one listing for weeks, so it seemed a good time to make a purchase.

the dream...

me: i really want to support hand-crafters. we should go on Etsy and find a potter. maybe we can custom order mugs with something interesting written on them or with iconic Canadian images to celebrate our support for small businesses.

him: remember when i told you about that four-week pottery workshop at one of the local art schools? we should take it so we can make our own mugs. 

me: that would be kinda awesome. 

the reality (about ten minutes later)...

me: ok, so we each get to pick one Disney mug and one Marvel/DC Comics mug, agreed? do we need anything else from Amazon?

yep. pretty much.

i was keeping my fingers crossed for something awesome in a Wolverine theme, as he is who i have deluded myself into thinking i would be in a comic book reality, but then i scrolled past this one, and kept coming back to it. girls!

i did have to draw the line at any silly Disney princess nonsense, since that has never been my cup of tea! i do, however, have a soft spot for The Nightmare Before Christmas. it is just Grimm enough to cut through the sugary-overload of the usual holiday season offerings. yes, i am that person.

my favorite animator opted for multiple Marvel heroes...

and Stitch.

in typical Amazon fashion, the items arrived in as many individual boxes as they could possibly manage, but the Nightmare cup still sustained a massive crack en route. a replacement was dispatched, and i was advised to dispose of the damaged cup as i see fit. where did i put that bottle of crazy glue?

i have a hard time letting go of mugs, especially the large ones i use every day. Santa is going to be retired from regular rotation and the cracked Nightmare mug will join it as holders for craft supplies.

the record for 'oldest broken mug' belongs to this green one, which has served as drip-catcher to this little plant for the past twenty years. [the frog was pilfered eons ago from one of mom's plants, and i gave him a small rock for company, because i am a compassionate thief].

i broke my go-to mug back in undergrad, and my best bud got me this one as a replacement... which i proceeded to chip and crack some several months later.

i did not have the heart to trash it, so it became home to the clay pot containing the few leaves i had pinched from mom's pothos (E. aureum), back when i "borrowed" the frog. this little plant has tagged along for the past twenty or so years of my life, and i hope it will see me through a few more decades of adventures.

on a parting note, i would like to report that a murder of crows has descended on a tree close to our building. there must be nearly two hundred of them perched along the bare branches, in stark contrast to their snow-covered surroundings. it is intensely unnerving to see the occasional large cloud of dark shapes circling that close overhead, and the cacophony bears a striking resemblance to a rallying cry uttered before a battle. i saw the movie. this will not end well.


war and pieces (of winter wear)...

it is Monday and the world outside looks like a giant, freshly-shaken snow globe cast in tones of brown and grey. i pity anyone who has to drive about in this stuff, but boy is it beautiful from up here.

the past week has been a veritable roulette wheel of first-world problems, culminating in an official declaration of war against the evil forces of UPS. the first clue that something was wrong came when their tracking tool showed my package crossing the Prime Meridian for the third time. it went on to make three crossings between Canada and the States (Quebec to Kentucky and back to Quebec), and was scanned arriving at the local Montreal airport a total of three times (in a row with, no corresponding departures), all within the span of twenty-four hours. worst part? that was only one half of a two-part shipment. so, i find myself dressed and ready to head out the door today... just as soon as the delivery guy shows up with package number two. after several frustrated phone calls last week, i would not be surprised if this one arrives tied to a large rock... flung through the largest window in the place. first-world problems indeed!

i decided to use part of the waiting-in-vain to assess my hat situation for the season. it was either that, or do something actually productive. hats win every time!!!

this is pretty much my default winter look. the blue shawlette is something i whipped up when trying to get rid of a small batch of yarn i had dyed for some other project. the hat too is knit out of yarn i dyed in a colorway i call mixed berry trifle, the rest of which will (eventually... hopefully) become a scarf/shawl, also for self. i have been known to wear this hat around the house for days at a time. so much love.

i attended a fiber festival some many years ago, back when i was relatively new to spinning, where i purchased some wool from a local(ish) shepherdess, which i spun into some rather lovely yarn. it was far too stunning to dye, so i left it bare and knitted a Slouch Tuva Hat (note free pattern on Ravelry).

crazy though it may seem, the small lace holes are a bonus when working with such heavy yarn. they keep the hat from being too-warm, which can happen even on the worst of Winter days.

i had a lot of this yarn left over, so i did what one (naturally) does in such a situation. i made myself a big-kid hat...

 complete with earflaps...

and fingerless mitts to match.

i was really proud of myself, as both the hat and mitts were made sans pattern, back when i was still relatively-new to the craft. that the mitts actually fit is still surprising all these years later.

i should also mention the matching earflap hat for my favorite animator. it was the prototype, as i spun and dyed that yarn a year or more before making my own. the colorway was meant to evoke those leather helmets from the early days of football, back before they understood concepts like concussion and permanent brain damage. to the casual observer, his hat may appear a bit small on my head. i like to think that it is a reflection of my brilliance, but it is probably just that i have a big head.

then there is the hat designed by my fave knitwear designer, Norah Gaughan. it is from her book Knitting Nature, which features thirty-six patterns inspired by—you guessed it—NATURE. [aside: there will be a mostly-Norah post in the near-future, as i am still thumbing through her latest tome, the Knitted Cable Sourcebook]. where was i? oh, yes... i made a Norah hat.

the yarn is a bulky, natural-colored alpaca purchased during one of my first visits to Montreal from my (current) local yarn shop back when they were located near le Marché Atwater... so, well over a decade ago. it is a tam, which should (in theory) look something like a beret, but this one looks more like an ornate pork pie (of the edible kind).

the top features a beautiful array of mini cables, all arranged after the manner of the humble sunflower...

right down to the stem. ah, Norah!

it is now well past nine in the evening, and i fear that my package has fallen victim to the multi-vehicle accidents befalling our fair city on such an icy day. seems like a perfect time for some honey brown lager. salud!