All the coping strategies

On the weekend I headed up to Peterborough for a day to teach at Needles in the Hay, which is always delightful. I had been meant to do classes there a month ago on February 1st, but an incoming blizzard stymied travel plans, so we rescheduled to March 1st thinking psh, surely, that was plenty of time for the winter craziness to subside a bit. Well, there wasn’t a blizzard this time around (and the classes were lovely), but oh man this winter. It’s still here.

When I was knitting & chatting a bit with Bridget before classes, we were talking about all of the wintery-ness and at one point she said, “you know, I’m almost starting to not believe any more. Like, maybe spring just isn’t happening this year?” And I nodded in complete understanding. I mean, we’re kidding of course (um, probably most likely totally kidding), because spring does generally come every year, and it seems more than a little ridiculous to be still complaining about winter like this when winter also tends to happen every year and does tend to be cold and wintery…but oh man, we’re all ready for a shift. Any time the temperature wants to even get up to freezing again, that would be super.


I’ve reached the point of just embracing all coping strategies for distraction. In the absence of the ability to just high-tail it down somewhere sunny and southerly right at this very moment (I see that was a missed opportunity and am making notes to correct this next February in a pre-emptive fashion), a girl just has to find other options. So far this has included:

1. Spending some time with knitters. (Bonus points if it involves colour-work things.)
One of my Saturday classes was on steeking, and it is always the most fun and satisfying, to knit up lovely colour-work things and then cut them up on purpose. (Also slightly irrational, but you know, see above re: all coping strategies being valid.)



2. Buying yarn. Doesn’t matter what kind or what colour.
I’ve got no shortage of stashed yarn to be sure, but I suppose it’s the knitter’s equivalent of just needing a fresh tube of lipstick or a manicure – new things are reassuring. I realized in February that I hadn’t actually bought anything new in several months, so found myself this weekend trawling WEBS and stuffed enough yarn into my virtual cart for about 4 projects. Then I took a bunch of it out again and bought only 2 projects’ worth, because somehow that seemed much more restrained by comparison. Yarrrrrrrn.

3. Books. Hey, reading books is pretty cool as it turns out. Since the holidays I’ve been putting more attention back into reading and carrying a book around with me to fit it into my day in bits and pieces (I still read books made out of paper, that’s how I roll), and have actually been getting through a few things. (I finally got around to The Fault in Our Stars, and it’s as lovely as everyone says. I’ve also been doing a sort of continuous re-read of The Hunger Games ever since the holidays and may finally just move on to Oryx & Crake since it’s been waiting on my shelf so long. Also, do I want to go back to my half-read copy of The Moonstone from last year? Maybe I do. So many options.)


4. Colour for colour’s sake. On Sunday afternoon I spent a few rounds on my colour-work demonstration swatch-turned-future-cowl, and it was great.

5. New knitting projects. I mean, this is a no-brainer, right? New yarn and new ideas are all well and good but sometimes you just need something to get onto the needles. (This is the beginning of Lempicka, which will be a background knit to look forward to as I finish a couple of ongoing things).


How are you finishing out winter where you are?
Are you keeping spring in your thoughts, or bundling up for a fresh round of winter knits while the temperatures support it?

Happy Tuesday, where ever you are!




  1. caityrosey · ·

    I loved Fault in our Stars. I listened to the audio book version while on my runs and sometimes had to stop to cry.

  2. Here in Phoenix we are trying to make our winter stretch out (lord your weather over us come September) and I am knitting lots of new winter accessories. Even if it’s too warm to wear them, I’ll be all stocked up for next year!

  3. Hmmm. We’ve been lucky. We had winter, and now it has been beautiful-sunny-little windy-at-times-… But it’s only early March. There will be snow storms, but nothing lasts in NW New Mexico. I pride myself (as a previous resident of WNY and Norway) as having NO snow shovel. Sorry for this contrary news, yet I continue to knit… socks, and shawl on needles, cardigan to be seamed.

  4. Oh! I love the steek! I want to try it with the crochet-method! Looks absolutely beautiful! And I listen to audio books…mid-way through the Follett Century Trilogy.

  5. I whipped out a big woolly aran-weight sweater in two weeks because I was so cold. Now I’m knitting a pair of socks in record (for me) time, because I’m cold. I have other wool socks, but this cold just seems so permanent that I feel the need to add more and more woolies.

  6. OK, this post is so dead on. Everyone in this city is muddling through at this point, on the brink of totally losing it. And I’m vaguely afraid it’s never going to end. Now I can understand how people who live in the deep north are more prone to obesity, suicide and alcoholism! (Don’t worry – I’m just prone to lying on the couch and complaining.) I have been doing all of your coping strategies and they’re very helpful. If not as helpful as the freakin’ spring would be 🙂

  7. Caitlyn M. · ·

    I’m still knitting away on the Alecia Beth cardigan at home and trying to decide on a fingering weight shawl to start and keep in my bag for work breaks and car rides. I’m hoping to collect enough fingering weight leftovers to attempt a small colorwork project soon, something a little more challenging than just stripes.

  8. reply to yarn and such – I have listened to both the released tapes on the century trilogy and it is killing me that he hasn’t released book three! Love it. Think about Russia and Ukraine and compare it to Germany and Poland in the 30’s. Scary.

    Anyway, back to the post at hand – winter and knitting. All I can say is thank god for knitting or I would be absolutely MAD. twelve below 0 this morning. Ridiculous for March. How can we even go outside? But I have some pretty blue socks on my needles, and am making things for future craft fairs. And planning on making some really warm stranded mittens for myself, with thick yarn and pretty colors. Without knitting planning, winter this year would be unendurable.

  9. I just did a re-read of The Hunger Games series AND finished Oryx and Crake! Maybe I should check out The Fault in Our Stars, then, seems we have similar tastes.

  10. At our house, baby goats are the best way to cope with single digits and sleet. Either worrying about them being warm enough in the stall or playing with them, instant distractions.

  11. themerchantswife · ·

    Makes me kind of miss knitting. One thing stained glass *isn’t* is warm and cozy in the winter. Maybe I need to bust out the needles again while I wait out the frigid temps in the glass workroom. :0)

  12. re: books. I just discovered the authors Kate Atkinson (most recent novel: Life After Life) and Chang-Rae Lee (most recent: On Such a Full Sea) and they are fantastic. Definitely helping me get through the long, long winter here!

  13. twistedsticks · ·

    I have been trying to use up some sock yarn. My socks were starting to look a little worn. I knitted them probably 5 years ago and actually they are still holding up pretty well. However, since I have so much sock yarn, it was time to knit up some new ones!

    We still have so much snow, that I feel like knitting a warm sweater, but I think I may start a cotton project. I have some of the great denim yarn that shrinks down when in the wash and feels so good to wear.

  14. So, the de rigueur TFIOS question: where were you when you started bawling? Me, I was on a bus on my way to work at 5:30 in the morning.

    And while I’m not usually a big Atwood fan, I really liked Oryx & Crake, so I hope you enjoy that too.

    As for coping strategies, I’ve taken to keeping a lovely skein of TFA cashmere next to me while I work, so I can squish it and feel warm. That and refusing to go outside whenever possible.

  15. This winter has really done me in. I feel like we are living the winter from Game of Thrones…. winter is not coming, it’s here and it’s never, ever going to leave.
    I just bought rainbow striped yarn just so I could see some colour.

  16. Claudia · ·

    Here in North Iowa we are feeling the same way. The temperature was above zero and we felt like it was warming up. And yes,hanging out with knitters helps; we had a daylong retreat last weekend with food, laughter and lots of knitting and sharing of patterns and books. I bought bright colored sock yarn…just because. Hang in there.

  17. So having never experienced an extreme winter such as yours it sounds appealing in as much as it provides guilt free inside knitting time! Warmer climates mean get outside, clean windows, walk the dog, get active, no sitting still making it somewhat challenging to sit and knit. So I love reading about your ideal knitting weather! Great to also see Diana Gabaldon on your shelf! Am midway through Voyager, second time round.

  18. Never been so glad to be a knitter/crocheter as I am this winter. I feel so sorry for the uninitiated — can’t imagine how they are coping. I sit under a huge afghan I am crocheting every night while I trade off working on it, working on knitting a sweater for my hubby, and knitting my Ivy League Vest (can’t wait to get to the crocheted steek!). Unfortunately, I can’t seem to work quickly enough to get all of the items I want to help me keep warm made before winter ends (that is if it ends as you mentioned).

    Can’t wait to see your sweater as it progresses.

  19. We were feeling pretty much like that in Ireland too, and I’m probably speaking too soon when i saw this but we’ve had a spring week, which has been refreshing to say the least. I read the Moonstone a few months ago, probably worth finishing it, or at least reading further, the ending was a bit nuts, at least how i remember it..

  20. Here in Sweden we’ve had the weiredst non-winter ever, it’s just gray. Gray, gray, gray everywhere. At least a little light is coming back but what’s there to see when everything is still gray? I’m trying to cope by surrounding myself with colour. I have a porject bag in blues and greens and I’m knitting in spring colours. I did a shawl in dark blue, that was a big mistake and I have since moved on to lighter, sweeter colour choices. Other than that, I don’t know. Eating chocolate? It sure helps if only for the moment.

  21. Laura Walters · ·

    Come down to North Carolina next February. It might snow, but it will melt the next day!

  22. Winter in the north is indeed challenging my mental stability. Here in Kenora it’s finally above -12 degrees but we’re expecting up to 15 cm of snow….again…. Let me tell you, there’s no where left to put it. As for knitting, I’ve just gotten an aran sweater called Dust of Snow off the needles and am knitting a wool shoulder shrug in super bulky wool blend, bright colors, and picked up some more wool for another pair of socks for my husband since they will surely be done before this never ending winter finally gives way to spring. I do hear the occasional bird chirping so there is hope. Right now I’m living in hope that there will indeed be leaves on the trees again soon. Maybe I’ll cast on something in green….

  23. Caitlyn M. · ·

    @Laura Walters: Oh, I’m not sure I would recommend coming to North Carolina. As a recent transplant to inland parts of the state from coastal Virginia, all I can say is that you’ll survive the weather, but the crazy drivers will do you in…

  24. South Carolina is struggling to decide if it wants to commit to spring at all – one day we had a high of 70 next day back to freezing….I’m so ready for spring too!

  25. Traci Gendron · ·

    I just finished Fault in Our Stars! Very good book.

  26. Lovely projects in gorgeous colours. Keep knitting.

  27. Oh man I cannot agree more about this winter. I’m in Montreal and it’s driving me insane! Your tips are great, especially the one about color. I have lots of scrap yarn in bright colors so it’s time to get creative with it. Perhaps a yarn bomb? I’ve never done one!

  28. Susan, Kate Atkinson is AMAZING! Check out her Jackson Brodie series and the novel “Behind the Scenes at the Museum.” It had me laughing and crying at points. Enjoy!

  29. read the outlander series, love the part in one of the books where Jamie and ian talk to clare about her inability to “clicket” or knit.

  30. Karen Z · ·

    I love and agree with all of these suggestions – this has been a very long winter.

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