Monday, December 31, 2007

Re-entering the Winter Forest

Dear You,

How was your Christmas?

Mine was good. I had all my girls at the table the same time and that was the best part. Having them home makes me whole and content. I keep looking proudly at my big girls wondering where did they come from? And where did the little girls with long braids who believed in Santa Claus go?

The communicating between us these days happens by the cellular more and more and because of that I am very pleased to have received a new telephone. When I carry around my new small telephone, I feel like I have the girls safely stored inside the tiny precious piece of equipment. I have pictures there and can look at them whenever I feel like it by flipping it open and anytime I need to with one smooth press of a button I can reach them. I had a telephone earlier, but a very modest one (it made me look totally over the hill at times) and this one makes me very, very happy. Do you suppose the girls would like to live in a nice little cosy? Should I make one?

Are you feeling sick of overeating chocolate yet? I am. Right now I feel like I should give up chocolate for the entire year, but I know this feeling will pass, two to three weeks without cacao and I am totally recovered.

The year is coming to an end and I swear I have never before been this sick and tired of the darkness, kaamos as we call it. The days have been darker than dark. Now that January is here, it will get lighter and this is a fact and this has not changed during the past decades like the weather. It rained right after Christmas and I was looking at the white snow sadly turning into dangerous ice or melting into dreadful dirty puddles. It is getting a little colder now and hopefully the real winter will start. This is a second winter in a row when the weather has been very strange. I have been cleaning away the Christmas stuff already, feeling that the sooner I get them out, the sooner the spring with light will come. I felt that the huge tree was sucking up all the light.
Did I say that I would possibly never knit again? I did. Now that the pressure to knit is gone (I know, this does not make sense, since I set the pressure myself), I have been knitting. If I ever want to finish the Winter Forest sweater, the time is now. If I let this linger around, soon the spring sun will come out (yes, please!) and this dark and winter green will be out dated. I suppose I could revisit this next winter, but I can so picture myself not doing it and it would be a shame to leave this since I still like the sketch. If you remember, I did this once before (without the lace parts) and then it did not turn out well at all and now I’m hoping to be able to solve some of the problems. I will show you the differences when I get to them and you’ll see if I manage to upgrade the sweater. I knitted the first sleeve but ripped it right away when it was finished because the hem; it is giving me so much trouble. I keep looking at the sketch wondering just how many stitches the hem should have and since I could not find any solution I was satisfied with, I decided to flip around the pattern and start from the top. This way I can try this on after every increase bunch and think over.

The yoke construction was not easy to think before hand either. I have gone through the notes many times trying to figure out the problem rows where the yoke is separated into sleeves and the main part and then cast aside all the worries and thought that I just would go ahead and rip and re-think when necessary. I’ll see how this works out and you will be the first one to know.

I tried to knit this inside out and - thank you for your suggestion - outside out knitting inside instead of purling outside, but did not like either of these methods. I guess this old dog does not learn new tricks. As I have mentioned so many times that you must be sick of hearing it again, I love stockinette, I feel like stockinette just flows and flies from my needles and with this purling business I feel that I need to stop after every single stitch and this gives me a feeling of a battle. Even though a good fight every once in a while is a good energy booster and some yarns and patterns can really put up good resistance where my victory is not granted, right now I‘m not in the mood for that kind of a challenge. To solve this situation, I have slowed down, I cannot keep up my speed with purls, so I will perform every stitch like steps of Finnish tango, enjoying the love and hate and passion and now this seems to be working - if not fine, at least well enough. But don’t expect this to be done any time soon.

I have 500 grams of this green yarn and I have already started squeezing the yarn ball to find out how much yardage I can get out of one 100 grams and if I need more and if I should order it now instead of in the very end. I know I have plenty for a long ordinary sweater but if I want to make the hem wider, possibly a lot wider, then where do I stand?

It is New Year again. Do you experience any after Christmas emptiness or New Year fear?

As always I find it difficult to let go of the old year and to be able to do it; I’d like to give myself a better new one. I would like to write a mile long list of the things I want to accomplish the next year but knowing me they would be very difficult to keep – this I will say with no regret, only as a fact. I did write a list of the things I would do if I were not the real me but the imaginary me, but I guess there is no use of publishing that list. It was interesting though, it had all these things that I know would be impossible to fulfil and therefore I am not going to try even but that took care of the need to make promises. There could be a list for the things I’d like to accomplish in the field of various crafts this coming year, but that list could end up being a bit overwhelming too. I tend to set the bar so high that it is impossible to reach or to come even close. This much I will say though that I will thrive for better results and will fight to keep my creative spirit alive and busy enough.

Busy enough – meaning what, you might ask? You know me, if I would need to think and take care of myself solely, I would only cook hot water to make tea and eat nuts for dinner and burn my candle madly at both ends doing my various crafty things. I should say: busy enough for the family and me to stay healthy and sane. The line here is very, very thin. It is so easy to venture into the land of creative madness. Even after days of roaming in this land either without a clue of my whereabouts or after passionate but vein treasure hunting, only a short break with everyday routines and a good meal and I can’t wait to get back there as soon as possible and am constantly looking for a good excuse or a right moment to escape there.
That land offers great joys and deep failures, and not being able to go there at all would be a great loss. I need to find a good balance – every day. Luckily as the girls grow older and need me less, I can set out on my adventures more often. The dogs and the cat won’t mind as long as the food bowls are filled regularly and there is plenty of fresh water.

(I will put in parenthesis here that I would love to knit myself a little black dress one of these days, I’m hoping it will happen this year, but if not, I will not look at it as a failure.)

This transition from the old year into the new will go nicely now since I am settled in my Winter Forest. I won’t need to fret whether or not the new project it worthy of the New Year. When the first couple of days of January are gone the New Year will feel like an old acquaintance again and the nervousness of having a pure white page is gone. I like history and all the familiar old things, so unknown surroundings and circumstances are daunting and I’m a bit difficult to talk into anything new, even definitely good new things make me suspicious. After the unavoidable has happened, I will adjust quickly and don’t complain any more.

So now I will not look back, because then I feel sad to leave this good old year behind, and I will not look forward, otherwise I will get uneasy and stressed of the unknown future, I will just look at my Winter Forest and keep purling until this transition period is gone, and life will continue as usual.

I better close now, since this is getting to be a too long one now.

If you feel that you are in the threshold of something great and new and exciting, go for it with open heart and wide mind!

And if you happen to be feeling like me, a little bit nervous and uneasy of the big unknown, have the courage to step into the New Year with a firm belief that all the old and good and familiar things will be there!

Yours truly.



  1. Anonymous21:06

    I enjoyed your commentary about endings and beginnings and cell phones! I sympathize with how you miss the sun. At this time, I live quite a bit south of you (and south of my birthplace, Minnesota), and the sky today is milky blue. Last night we had freezing rain and my car doors were stuck shut. It might have been a sign not to go to work?
    At this time of year I have a big desire to finish things rather than start them. So, yesterday I finished the hems of some rag rugs and washed them, and found some small quilting projects to finish tonight. And I will finish a scarf to send to my Dad in Colorado.
    Peace and happiness for you and your family in 2008!

  2. Lene, thank you so much for this post, so full of your thoughts, the easy and the uneasy... I found this very touching.
    I'm cooking a pot of blackeyed peas, a traditional dish for the New Year.. so in preparing them today and finishing up with them tomorrow... it will be the beans bridging the old to the new. :^)

    Peace, happiness and the return of the light to you and your family!

  3. Scotlynn21:52

    I am a little excited to start a new project...a sweater for me. I am feeling a lull in the sock knitting (though I have a pair on the needles for my Dad yet) and have decided this year to try something new. Sweaters for others have gone well, but never for myself. So I have been keeping notes on what I like best about sweaters I have and will do some detailed measurements on my current body size and see if I can knit something I will love and wear. All this is an adventure and I'm more than ready to get started. I look forward to your creative endeavors this year. Happy new year!

  4. it's been very dark here too throughout the days and often i think of you when i notice it!

  5. O Lene!What a treat your post is to me today. I got back to my Monday spinning group today since the fall and to top it off came home to find your post waiting for me. I am so happy. I have never said before but I must tell you how pretty your drawings are. I love them very much and wish I had one on my wall. Your sweater sketching is impressive. I am glad you had Xmas with your beloved girls. I have put away xmas early this year too. This New Year is daunting for me also, may the wool keep us grounded. Happy New Year with light!

  6. Carmen23:26

    Dear Lene, I am wishing you a Happy New Year, from Ottawa, Canada. I am actually quite excited and looking forward to 2008...

  7. Your posts are so intriquing and intimate. I feel I know you, yet have not commented. I live in St. Louis, Missouri, and our days are dark enough. I feel for you and your endless darkness this time of year. You will prevail and conquer the darkness. I'm certain. A new year is always full of possibilities. Let's both make the most of our next new year.

  8. A wonderful post...Thank you and a happy new year from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

  9. Look forward to the new year. I never make resolutions, lists or promises, I just try to go in to the new year fresh and with hope and a positive attitude. Your blog looks lovely!

  10. It is very bright here, a beautiful blue Colorado ski, but very cold with lots of snow on the ground. Have a Happy new year, filled with lots of knitting adventures.

  11. michele02:56

    Dear Lene: Thank you for your lovely cozy blog. I met you in blog-land this time last year, and I am sending you some of our excess light, we wish it would at least rain here in sunny So. Cal. I am not complaining, but I do send you wishes for light and warmth! Our cat Larry sat outside under a bush absorbing the last rays of the sun this afternoon. Maybe he could transmit some of it in a dream to Kille and Tina.
    It is so fun to have friends all over the globe, and I do enjoy reading of your life above the Arctic Circle. OH, and before I forget: YES I am sick to death of overeating chocolate, and have gotten very hungry for vegetables.
    And YES I always get post-Christmas/New-year depressed. It isn't too hard to combat it by reflecting on all that I am thankful for, but to be sure, the day after boxing day, suddenly, everything is useless and horrible and I have wasted my entire life, and etc. etc. etc. You know the song. It seems to go away by February!
    Much joy to you and your family!
    Love, Michele in Santa Barbara

  12. Lene, best wishes for a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year for you and yours!

  13. Anonymous06:07

    Dear Lene,

    Reading your post tonight is like a letter from a friend. Here in Minnesota, I too dread the long dark evenings. But I also find myself settling in and enjoying the time to knit and stay warm until spring arrives and the days lengthen again.

    Happy New Year, and warmest wishes.

  14. The gardening catalogs are arriving, so rather than thinking of the grey days ahead, I'm dreaming of how my yard will look with vegetable patches and fruit trees.

    The Christmas things are still up, though we can't light the tree because our toddler likes to pull on the lights' plug. And the wise men sometimes go missing--one turned up in a kitchen drawer today. I like the decorations, especially the nativity scene, but life will be easier when they are put away.

    I'm always amazed how quickly the year goes by. Time went more slowly when I was a child. Now that I have children, it goes very fast indeed.

  15. Lene, Happy new year!
    I am very happy that 2008 is here, since last year brought a lot of turbulence. I wish for the new year to bring peace and quiet and good times!
    Love looking at your sketches, they are works of art.

  16. anu-anu12:51

    Lene kulta !
    Palju rõõmu uuel aastal!
    I hope to meet the sun and light with you!

  17. Anonymous13:43

    I enjoy your blog so much, your thoughtful posts, your photos and pictures. Thank you for that, and :
    a very Happy New Year!

  18. It's so hard to live without light. Even here in relative "south" the days seem to consist of darkness, slightly different grades of darkness, but darkness nonetheless.

    I used to fear the days between Christmas and new Year's. Somehow they felt apart from all the year - yes, a yearning to finish rather than start anything.
    Wishing you a good 2008!

  19. A very thought-provoking post Lene - thank you so much. One of my projects for 2008 is to knit 2 dresses for my granddaughters - might be a rash promise. Do you have any suggestions as to a pattern or yarn to use? Janet, back in Dublin after a nice visit to Seattle

  20. Rosie16:27

    Lene - Happy New Year to you, my friend I have never met! Your lovely posts always seem to bring peace and inspiration.
    My best to you from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

  21. I too sometimes am apprehensive of the end of the year and beginning of the new. Have I missed doing something? Where did the time go? But then I think, well, that's it. The year is done. I am where I am. So, what needs to be done? What can I improve on this year? I look forward to the fresh start. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, beautiful illustrations and creative designs. I like your new banner photograph. Happy New Year!

  22. mmwc61718:17

    I am so glad you had all your girls home at the same time. I was so close to having both boys under the same roof at the same time, but an airline delay in Ft. Lauderdale, FL spoiled it for me. Enjoy your new phone. I can totally relate to your feelings for that.


  23. mmwc61718:17

    I am so glad you had all your girls home at the same time. I was so close to having both boys under the same roof at the same time, but an airline delay in Ft. Lauderdale, FL spoiled it for me. Enjoy your new phone. I can totally relate to your feelings for that.


  24. Anonymous19:08

    Dear Lene,

    Happy New Year! I am taking this opportunity to say how much I have enjoyed reading your postings during the last year. I feel that you have become a friend, and it is time you heard this from me. I love the way you draw your readers into your world. I am a knitter first and foremost, but also love to delve into all sorts of crafts. I have two girls, ages 15 and 11, and I, too, would rather drink tea and explore my craft world given any chance. Thank you for sharing with all of us!


  25. What a beautiful and thoughtful post!

  26. Happy New Year Lene, we are missing the light too although we are in England and have more light, it is so wet and gloomy - dark at the moment. Jane x

  27. Anonymous19:47

    Oh, wow.

  28. When I put the decorations up each year, I think that I never want to take them down. But by now, I am ready to put them away and get back to more normal life. The tree blocks light into the room (why do we insist on putting it in front of the window) and we seem to be having more than our share of grey, grey days. I would love to see the sun and feel some warmth. As a new knitter, every year brings new challenges and I love trying new things. You inspire that by showing the designs you have created.

  29. Anonymous23:39

    Your post is so thought provoking--thank you for such an inspiring transition into the New Year. I hope it is a wonderful one for all your family.

  30. Suzy20:08

    Dear Lene,

    Happy New Year!

    I am looking at your sketch of the Winter Forest sweater and it is VERY pretty! If you had any previous posts about this sweater I had not seen them. I am going to think positive thoughts that you will finish this sweater successfully because it is so lovely! I hope when you finish you will be so thrilled with the results that you offer the pattern for sale. Enjoy the challenge!
    Best, Suzy C.

  31. Cecile01:52

    Winter is teh spirituall season fo rme. Spring is just joy, summer is hot, fall is beauty. Winter is the season when I go inside and spend time to reflect. Her, in the Southeast USA the sun never leaves for long. It will be Sring soon!

  32. Beautiful post! When I saw your photo last month of the gray sky, gray snow, gray landscape, gray buildings, and gray roads, it seemed very beautiful to me. Almost like a cocoon to close around oneself. I wonder if people in your climate are kinder and more gentle in this weather?

    I grew up in that kind of climate, but childhood memories are different. I've spent all my adult years in California, where we definitely have four seasons, but somewhat subtle, and one that newcomers rarely notice.

    When I saw your picture I wanted to spend a winter there, it was that beautiful. I'll bet you would like to spend a winter in California, and then head right home to your own gray and snowy world, missing it too much.

    From reading your posts last spring and summer it's clear you have a heightened sense and appreciation of the changing seasons. Your landscape photos and seasonal observations, your intimations of your private life and how you live in your landscape are so touching. It's rare today that people can be so connected to their physical ground.

    I would read your blog even if I weren't "crafty".

    I wish you and your family a wonderful new year!

  33. Esther15:51

    Dear Lene, your post remind me of "Let it be" by the Beatles,"...speaking words of wisdom, let it be..."
    Wish you and your family a very haapy year 2008 !

  34. Anne23:39

    I just read your article in Piecework. Love it!

  35. Anonymous06:19

    Hi Lene
    I miss the light at this time of the year also, and I'm several hundred miles south of New York.

    I really like the time between Christmas and the New Year. No more rushing around; usually we're all at home and able to slow down; I can sit and watch the special glow of the Christmas tree.

    My knitting resolution for this year is to FINISH things. First up are
    - my older son's Christmas stocking
    - a 60" scarf, knitted side-to -side . I need to do the Kitchener stitch on 110 stitches! I don't mind Kitchener stich so much, but I keep getting interrupted and then I lose my place.

    Peace and joy to you, to those whom you love and to all of you who also read this blog.

    Margie in Maryland

  36. Anonymous09:40

    Thank you. Your thoughts about creative madness touch my heart and soul. Also, we feel many emotions for the turn of the year even here in Hawaii (where fireworks are made). For this new beginning I am in love with just touching this sweet undyed sheepy wool and the unlimited potential. A blessed new year to you, Lene, of health, peace and the best kind of restlessness. from Sue p.s. Thanks also so very much for the link to Barbara Bonney singing, another great new delight.