The North Country

It was quiet here in my little corner of the internet last week, but I had good reason — we were on vacation! Now lots of people here in the North Country go South in winter, but those who know us are probably not surprised to hear that we went about an hour North of our home for our winter vacation. And we didn’t head north just any week, we went North during one of the worst cold snaps in recent memory. That last part wasn’t by design, but when Mr Knitting Sarah takes time off, he can’t really reschedule because the weather isn’t perfect. Many people were concerned we might not survive and were convinced that we were (maybe still are?) crazy fools, but I assure you, we have survived and we had a blast.

True to form for most of our vacations, this one did not start exactly according to plan. My dad was joining us and had brought various ice fishing and other implements for enjoying the winter weather in his truck. The plan had been to caravan up with his truck and our van, but he morning of our departure is was a crisp -15F. Once we’d packed up our van we discovered that his truck had no interest in starting. I don’t blame it! We called to see if we could get the new batteries installed that day, but at 8:30am there was already a line 7 deep at the shop for cars needing new batteries on top of their booked appointment schedule. The truck was not moving anytime soon.

Always ready to adjust to a reality that is not going according to plan, before deciding what we could jettison from the van so we could all fit into it (winter gear is extremely bulky), we attempted to start up our sensitive to the cold 15year old Subaru. Luckily we’d had it in the garage, so it wasn’t quite as cold and after a couple tries, she started up. And we were off.

My parents co-own some land that hour north of our house and our uncle graciously allowed us to use his cabin there. It is rustic, but my uncle and cousin keep it extremely ship-shape. My cousin, who happens to be an incredibly talented artist (check his website here!), lives and works nearby was AMAZING — no, BEYOND AMAZING, and started and then proceeded to tend the wood stove for us a day or two before we arrived so that it would not be subzero inside when we arrived. You see, this is how the cabin is heated…

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A beautiful wood-stove in the middle of the main floor. For those who don’t heat with wood, it takes time to get the heat going with this kind of stove. He even took notes on the temps inside and outside each time he stopped in to feed the fire and they looked like “4F inside, -25F outside” and “36F inside, -10F outside” — and it was funto see because it really showcased the back and forth of the elements vs his efforts to warm the place, but also just that the cabin’s outdoor temp was a full 10 degrees colder than at our house pretty consistently.

So do you want to cringe a bit or be inspired first? How about we go with inspiration?

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Winter. Is. Beautiful.

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It’s a spectacular quiet to experience when only the bare trees and a lone Brown Creeper are about.

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And the woods are dark and shadows are long.

We had the best time. It was literally subzero most of the week, but the kids played outside almost all day long, sledding and mucking about in the snow & Mr Knitting Sarah and I took some nice walks around the woods. What can I say? Subzero temps really aren’t that uncomfortable when you have the right gear and you’ve got a toasty cabin in the 45-55F range (thanks to my cousin’s efforts and our own continued minding of the fire) to return to. When we weren’t outside, we played games with the kids and my dad and did a puzzle and made yummy meals.

I also did some knitting…

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And some spinning…

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When I had a little down time.

The cell service is kind of spotty and while they have a TV we never turned it on. There is also gas for the stove and lighting as well as a generator for lights and basic electric. The generator also did not like the cold, but we would bring it in in the morning, let it warm up during the day, and then it worked fine to get us to bedtime. All in all, it is exactly the type of place we love.

The part that might make y’all uncomfortable… it doesn’t have running water. So bathroom breaks require a little sprint to the outhouse a dozen steps from the back door. It’s the most pristine outhouse I’ve ever been in (and trust me when I say I’ve been in quite a few), but there’s no denying that running out there when it’s -25F or even 0F is… exhilarating? But let me tell you, I heard ZERO complaints from anyone in our family. I could not be any more proud of the kids for that. They took it all in stride and loved every minute.

Moose had fun, too…

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Digging for sticks in the snow is a favorite past-time, after all. And I’ll say that even though his napping required curling up in a tighter than usual ball, he definitely has a serious love of winter, too.

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Wednesday we spent the day up at Copper Falls State Park where we went on a short hike and saw Crossbills and our first ever Pine Grosbeaks and then did loads of sledding and playing in the snow. The down-side, unfortunately is that the fire died down while we were out (a risk we knew we were taking) and that night was very cold. When the sun came up, I snapped this photo…

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We considered spending another day, but we opted instead to pack, clean up, and head out to make sure we could get my dad’s truck fixed and so we could have a nice relaxing weekend before Mr KS needed to get back to work.

I managed to finish up my primary project for the week, my Find Your Fade shawl…

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The needles are still in it in this photo for the bind-off, but it’s squarely in the FO column now. I will get better photos when I wash and block it, but it may be a little while because my woolie washing is a little backed up after last week. Suffice to say, I’m a thousand percent in love with it though.

I also started in on a Fairbanks Pullover. I don’t know, but a bulky weight sweater just seemed like a really good idea — lol! I cast-on on the 1st of the month and brought it to the cabin, but didn’t touch it until we got home as I was in the groove with Find Your Fade. I brought it with me yesterday while we were out and about carnivore tracking (a new super cool thing my husband and son are learning to do as citizen scientists).

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And by this morning, I’m just starting in on the bottom garter edge…

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So far, I’m in love with the fit. I should have it done very shortly because, you know, bulky sweaters are kind of the instant gratification of sweater knitting. I’ll hopefully bind-off the bottom edge and get the sleeves going — two at a time, for sure because I can’t be counted on to take notes and make them match otherwise.

I also kind of impulsively started a new spin…

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This is the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month for January, Winter Pathways in the silk blend, which is 80/10/10 Targhee/Bamboo/Silk this month. I had grand plans of sampling this like a good spinner, but got a little caught up in it and now I’m just plowing headlong toward a chain plied, worsted-ish weight yarn. I couldn’t help myself, once I started, there was just no stopping to evaluate further. I’m just enjoying it.

I also received a package in the mail. Because what do I do when I spend the week in a subzero winter wonderland and find Malabrigo Lace on sale for 50% off?

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I buy enough for three sweaters. In the bright colors imaginable. If you’re feeling the need to dream of warmer days, too, you can check out the remaining colors on sale from Firefly Fibers here. These skeins of 470yards and at $4.70 each, that makes for a pretty inexpensive summer garment or accessory. I’m looking at making a May for myself and for my girl (one guess which color is hers!) and then maybe an Estuary in the yellow. It may take a while, but despite loving our cold weather North Country vacation, it never hurts to think ahead and plan for warmer days, does it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 responses to “The North Country

  1. So, let this Southerner be the first to say that you REALLY ARE CRAZY! 😂 Despite how beautiful the winter pictures are – and they are stunning – I would have frozen to death with 45 – 55 degrees INSIDE, and then ZERO INSIDE – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s not so bad if you have the right clothes – don’t believe you for a minute! 🙂 All kidding aside, I know it was a perfect trip for your family and I’m happy you had such a wonderful time. The Fade is fabulous, especially with your handspun, and your spinning, as always, is beautiful. I’m glad you cast on your UBG for our KAL, and you’ve already zoomed. Kudos on the SQ Malabrigo! All in all, looks like a great time was had by all!

    • I am the first to say when it’s -15 outside 45 inside does actually feel warm. Not like, walk around in short sleeves warm, but comfortable with a long underwear layer and some cozy slippers. And the 0 inside was before we got there – I think the lowest temps we saw inside were in the low 30s. No problem! 🤣

  2. I love you, but you’re NUTS! 🤣🤣🤣 There’s no amount of clothing that would make me comfortable at 30s inside! I need an emoji with icicles. 🙂

    • When it was in the 30s, I had handknit socks, Ugg booties, long underwear and carhartt overalls on the bottom and a shirt and bulky wool sweater on top. Top it with a hat and voila! Warm indoors when it’s in the 30s! We also had blankets and a couple VERY warm sleeping bags (we’re talking rated down to -15 and -25). Seriously though, when you’re going to an outhouse for the bathroom that’s somewhere between -10 and 0, 30-40 inside feels warm by comparison. LOL!

  3. OK, I get staying warm with all the layers, but how did you knit?! You must have had bare hands to manage the needles. Didn’t your fingers stiffen and ache from the cold?

  4. Love love love your blog post! So great to hear someone out there is really enjoying the extreme weather – way too much moaning about it elsewhere. Log burner, fab! No complaints from kids, miracles there! No tv – well done! Snowy dog – looks so cute! Knitting – no better way to enjoy time! Envious here, apart from the outside loo runs!

    • Thank you! We do pride ourselves on making the best of a situation. It definitely would have been nice to have been there on a slightly warmer week, but you pick your vacation week and you go with it! Wouldn’t traded it for the world!

  5. Sounds like a perfect Knitting Sarah family vacation! But the outhouse- brrrr! I would have reduced my liquid intake in the afternoons! The hand spun fade looks wonderful! And the new sweater will be great when you finish it today, lol.

    And new yarn. Fingers in ears lalalalalala not buying yarn 😉

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