Frozen Hair and Warm Paws

We have had a very mild winter this year. We have snow, of course, because we live in the north, but it has accumulated by a few inches at a time rather than feet. We haven’t had as many frigid days as usual so most of the time I don’t wear my hat or mittens when I go outside. For short trips outside with Hannah Joy, I often don’t even wear a coat.

That being said, we are expecting a little more snow today and tomorrow, and the overnight temperatures this week have dipped into single digits, although it quickly warms up during the day. Yesterday morning when I came in from doing my chores the ends of my hair were frozen stiff, which probably means I’m going to have to change my routine. In the winter, I take my shower as soon as I get out of bed, feed the inside furbabies, take Hannah Joy outside to “do her business,” and then I have about an hour to drink coffee, catch up on the news, and let my hair dry before the sun rises enough for me to go care for the outside animals. This involves giving them fresh water, refilling their food dishes, and opening their little coop door so they can get out if they choose. Of course, the chickens usually prefer to stay in their coop if the weather is cold and snowy, but our two barn–uh, coop–cats always like to get out. If I wait too long to go out to the coop in the mornings, the chickens start eating the cat food. I always put food in the coop at night for the cats, but I put it away in the morning and set out a different dish of food for them on the front porch during the day. It’s the only way I could figure out to keep the chickens from eating the cat food.


Now that the sun is rising earlier in the mornings, I go out to the coop right after I feed Hannah Joy…with wet hair that freezes in the morning cold. So I might have to switch to my “summer” routine: Wake up, put on jeans, feed the furbabies, take Hannah Joy outside, care for the outside animals, and THEN come in to take my shower, and sit down and enjoy my coffee.

It’s said that if you want to know where the warm spots are in a house, observe a cat. We keep our thermostat a bit low so we can save on propane. When it gets a little chilly in the house, we turn on our space heater. Timmy, one of our two inside cats, loves to lay next to it and put his paws under it. I think that is really cute.

Rice sock

When we lived in our old house downstate, we kept our thermostat set low and heated mostly with our wood stove. I don’t miss the hard work of getting a winter’s supply of wood, but I loved the warmth and ambience of the wood stove. Wood heat feels warmer than furnace heat. Our bedroom upstairs remained cooler than the rest of the house so we got into the habit of taking heated rice bags to bed with us to quickly warm the bed. Although our one-story house here in the north doesn’t get that cold, I still like to take a rice bag with me at night. I used to sew an old washcloth or hand towel into a bag into which I poured a cup or two of uncooked rice, but these days I simply pour the rice into an old sock and knot it shut. Then I heat it in the microwave for about a minute. The rice retains heat for quite a while. This is an old fashioned trick, although people in past centuries usually used dried cherry pits. EJ tried using cherry pits that he had dried, but we didn’t think they retained their warmth as much as rice does.

Hannah Joy’s harness broke in December–the ring on which her leash is attached fell off–so we ordered her a new one. It arrived on the last day of the year. Her new one is a pretty blue, which looks beautiful against her reddish fur. When her package arrived, Hannah Joy was so excited that she grabbed it and ran off to the bed to open it. Hannah tends to think that EVERY package is for her so we have to be careful not to let her have packages that are OURS. We’ve had a few tugs-of-war.

I started learning Tunisian Crochet in early January, but I set it aside to EJ a pair of slippers because he complained that his feet were cold. He said his new slippers are so warm and comfy that I decided to make me a pair as well–although I used a different pattern. His slippers are more masculine and mine more feminine. My slippers are warm and comfy too.

I would like to design a crocheted sweater for Hannah Joy. If I can accomplish it, I’d probably also sell the pattern. I really like Nordic or Fair Isle designs but they require learning Tunisian Crochet, which is a completely different form of crochet. It seems to me that it’s a blending of crochet and knitting. Each row in Tunisian Crochet consists of two “passes,” one pass consists in putting loops on the crochet hook, and the second pass consists of working them off. The double passes make a warm dense weave. I’m working my way through a tutorial course on Youtube. The woman giving the lessons teaches a technique in one video and then has a simple project to make using that technique in the next. I completed my first item yesterday–it was a simple ear warmer. Since it was practice, I made it for myself, in a color that matches my coat. My next lesson will consist of learning three different ways of changing colors.

Regular crochet hooks can be used for smaller Tunisian Crochet projects but because all the stitches of a row are put on the hook, larger projects require special hooks. I’ve been learning that there are different types of hooks: either long straight ones or smaller hooks with cables that the work can be slid on. I bought myself a cheap set of straight hooks to learn on. Really good hook sets are quite expensive. I will probably have to buy good hooks one at a time as I need them.

I can’t wait to continue learning.

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