November is a month fraught with superstitions. According to the 7th-century scholar Bede (and you know how I love my moldy oldy scholars), my ancient Anglo-Saxon ancestors called it blotmonath, the month of blood sacrifices to the gods. I suspect they were combining practicality with worship, storing up the meat they’d need to get through the winter while they made the necessary supplications to ensure that the gods would eventually see fit to restore light and warmth to the land. We dig ancient traditions steeped in mystery at the little school where I work, so we observed the ritual of rolling the Samhain oatcake to kick off the month the Friday before last. The Seniors light a fire outdoors, and the whole school gathers around it to explain about the oatcake to the littlest kids and to sing songs. The oatcake, baked by the Intermediates (with extra oats for maximum density), is about twelve inches in diameter and is marked on one side with an X and on the other with an O. By the time of the bonfire, even the newest Primaries know to chant, “X! X! X!,” for if the oatcake rolls down the hill and lands X-side up, a severe winter with plenty of snow days is predicted.
As it happened, the oatcake made a convincing fake in the X direction, then flopped over to reveal the O. And now I have reason to hope it’s correct, because I imagine I’ll be spending an unusual amount of time outside in the cold and dark this season. As is only appropriate in the Month of Sacrifices, we’re going to be rearranging our lives and habits chez Garter. (No, it’s not a baby. We like to swim against the tide around here.) A seven-week-old puppy is arriving on an airplane from Texas a week from Tuesday, and it’s going to live with us.
Mr. G’s twin sister, as you know if you’ve been a long-time reader here, hangs her hat in the middle of nowhere with only her husband and five hundred sheep and a handful of ranch dogs for company. There’s a fairly steady flow of puppies out of these dogs, pups that are in demand to work cattle and sheep on other ranches and find homes right away. But this time there’s a mild little gal who’d rather snuggle up for a nice petting than give a recalcitrant cow what-for, and Mr. G’s sister knows all too well what happens to dogs who don’t earn their keep in that country. She’s soft on this pup and she’s talked us into making a city slicker out of her. We were wary, not having an opportunity to meet the dog beforehand, and knowing that a Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix is going to need lots of exercise and responsible training to be happy and well-mannered in our sheepless lifestyle. We spent two days weighing the decision. Now we can’t wait to meet her. But I’m really going to have to tidy up the Fibordello before she comes. Needles! Lone socks! Skeins of yarn! So many tempting targets for pointy little teeth! Mingus the Cat may never forgive me. And oh, those pre-dawn walks in the biting cold…. At least I have these to wear:
Koolhaas Gauntlets, inspired by Jared’s beautiful hat in the Holiday Interweave Knits, knit with Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed. I’m not hugely impressed by the Debbie Bliss line in general (puny yardage and suspect fiber content and all that), but she really got it right with the Luxury Tweed. I was smitten by this luscious aubergine color with its flecks of pine, persimmon, and lilac as soon as it waltzed into the store, and since I’d like to fend off chilblains this winter, I knew it was only a matter of time until I bought some to make some long fingerless mitts. I actually finished them in October after the second Boston trip, so they’ve already seen two weeks of heavy use and they’re holding up beautifully.
If you’d like to copy them, obtain a copy of Jared’s chart for the travelling stitches, cast on forty sts on a #4 needle for the fingers-end rib, work six rounds, then switch up to a #7 and begin the chart. The thumb is pretty free form – mine came out a little different on each mitt because I wasn’t clever enough to take careful notes the first time – work it as you like it, decrease back to the 40 sts, and cruise on down until the gauntlets are as long as you want. Finish with a little more ribbing, pick up sts around the thumbhole and work a 1×1 rib to the desired length. Oh, and I went to a mirror-image stitch-crossing on the second glove for the sake of symmetry.
And now, for the love of Pete, tell me what dog-training books you recommend. I’m already running out for a copy of The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete, because that’s what we used with the dogs I had growing up, but further reading suggestions are more than welcome. And what would you name a scraggly wee grey mutt with black and white splotches and not much tail?