Things to do in the dark

Being without power for extended periods of time means finding things you can do in poor light.  I can spin pretty well in the dark, and I don’t usually have to look too hard at my knitting if it isn’t something too complicated.  Unfortunately the knitting project I was working on when the power went out was these:

Not really something I could work on in the dark!  I managed to finish them the day after the power came back on.

I really needed something completely mindless, so I decided to knit swatches! I had two full-sized skeins and two samples in different colorways.  I decided a while ago that I wanted to post photos of knitted sample in my Fiberarts Etsy, because there’s so often such a big difference in what a multicolored yarn looks like in the skein and how it knits up.  How many times have you had a multicolored yarn that you loved in the skein, but that you really just didn’t like in the knitted object?  

The same thing happens in reverse all the time – you see some knitting with colors that you love, then see the yarn it was knitted with, and think “I would never have pictured this yarn coming out like that!”

Spinners experience this all the time.  See how bright and almost garish the different colors look in the unspun wool?  The colors become much less intense in the finished yarn because of the the blending that occurs during spinning.  Because of this blending, it can be hard to see from the yarn that it will create subtle stripes when it’s knitted up.

The striping is more prominent in the first example because I used colors with strong contrast. In this second example the colors are much more closely related, both in hue and value.  Here, you don’t get strong stripes so much as a subtle shading.

Of course, the final effect will always depend on the size of your knitting.  Smaller projects like socks will end up with much wider and more prominent stripes.  Sweaters and shawls will have narrower stripes – sometimes maybe only one row before the color changes enough to be noticeable!  Still, it’s always nice to at least have a ballpark idea of what a yarn is going to do before you plan your project.

Well. That was unexpected.

An unusually early winter storm with a greater potential for power outages due to the number of trees with leaves still on them at this time of year.  OK – that makes sense.  Not once did a report anywhere indicate MASSIVE damage to trees and EXTENSIVE power outages!  We really were not prepared for this one.  Irene was just practice.

These photos are nothing.  Many of the trees I passed were much worse – every single “section” of branches snapped off at the top of the trunk, like you’d do with a bunch of broccoli.  The damage to trees from this storm was much more extensive than Irene, and the accompanying damage to power lines was also worse.  We lost power for five days after Irene.  This storm had us out for a week!  It was a very chilly week.

Ways this storm was worse:  Because I hadn’t expected a power outage that lasted this long I had not planned my grocery shopping accordingly, and ended up with more spoiled food that I could not get to in time.  Also, the convenient neighbor with the generator who helped us out after Irene has moved, so I couldn’t keep my freezer chest going.  I still have hope for the freezer chest – it was packed pretty full, and more than halfway through the week all the important things were still frozen solid.  If I open it up today and still find the normal crop of ice crystals on the sides, I think I’ll be good.  Number one difference between this storm & Irene – temperature!  It’s obviously much colder outside in October than in August.  I have gas heat, but the furnace has an electric pilot!

Ways I was lucky: None of the trees on or near our lot suffered extensive damage. We may not have had the furnace running, but the house never dropped below 60, even at night.  I suppose it’s the advantage of a very small house.  A few extra blankets & sweatshirts, two pairs of handknit wool socks, and living in my winter hat all day – 63 degrees was actually not that uncomfortable by the time we got to the end of the week.  The human body will acclimate! We knew from Irene that we do not lose water, and our water heater does *not* have an electric pilot, so we continued to have running water and hot baths and showers.  We also have a gas stove, and although I could not use the oven, cooking meals and making coffee was not a problem.

The biggest way we were lucky:

Having had five days of practice just two months ago, Scarlett adapted to the “new normal” very quickly!  It took three days after Irene for her to stop asking for “TV on?”  This time it took one.  We got her a brand new package of markers, and she was pretty happy for most of the week.  We even got her to wear a hat for about a minute!